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                    Archive for Nov 2006


                    Jim Harper on Identity and Public Policy

                    Jim Harper(click to enlarge) Tonight Jim Harper gave a talk on identity and public policy at the Utah State Capitol. I've recorded the talk and will hopefully have it up on IT Conversations soon. Jim starts by telling the story of his book, Identity Crisis: How Identification is Overused and Misunderstood. . A few years ago, Jim joined the CATO institute and was invited by the ACLU to join them at the US Capitol for an event on national ID cards. He read the ACLU briefing and thought it was good, but overly simplistic. He sat down to read
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                    IIW2006B Is Next Week

                    We're getting ready for another excellent IIW next week. There are good people coming and the numbers are working out just right (we've got about 100 people signed up as of today). It's still not too late to sign up. Here's some things that are happening. We're going to do speed geeking right after lunch on Tuesday. If you've got something to demo, plan on a five minute presentation with rotating groups. There's a place to put your name on the wiki, but you can tell us you want to present as late as Monday. If you are in
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                    USB Missile Launcher

                    I want one of these.
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                    CTO Breakfast Report

                    We had the monthly CTO Breakfast this morning--perhaps for the last time in it's usually place. There was a good group present and some fun discussion. Bruce Fryer's brought up an ironic encounter with a word-of-mouth marketing company. The person who runs the marketing for a prominent WOM company somehow didn't get Linked-In and who social networks work. Funny. We got into a discussion of new media. I brought up the Bear Sterns report I blogged about the other day and it's breakdown of the media pipeline. There's a great opportunity in the "content packaging" space--although I wonder if
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                    Violent Video Games Change Brains

                    A study looked at the direct effects of videogames on teen brains and documents functional differences between the brains of teens who play violent games and those who play non-violent games. This Newsweek article interviews the researcher behind the study, Dr. Vincent P. Mathews, professor of radiology at the Indiana University School of Medicine.
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                    We Are Smarter Than Me

                    Wade Billings sent me a link to the we are smarter than me project. The goal is to collaboratively write a business book. If you've got something to say, sign up and say it. The book will be published by Pearson Publishing and there's a meet-up planned for March for anyone who's contributed. The book is being written using book wiki, a tool for creating books on a wiki (not surprisingly). The founders have set up chapters and written some starter text for each chapter to get them going. New chapters can be proposed, but the founders exert some
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                    Integrating Mantis and Subversion

                    Tom Gregory has a nice tutorial on integrating Subversion and Mantis so that, for example, Mantis tickets can be automatically closed when a fix is committed to the repository. Frankly, I'd never even considered this. Good stuff and well written.
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                    Free Sound Effects

                    If you're looking for sound effects to add to a play list or insert in the middle of a podcast, this site has a good nice collection of free sound effects in categories like ambiance, domestic (household sounds), machines, and people. For example, here's an outside crowd.
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                    Launching IEEE Spectrum Radio on IT Conversations

                    Today I published the first show from a new series that we're launching on IT Conversations, IEEE Spectrum Radio. If you're familiar with computers or electronics you're familiar with IEEE and have probably seen Spectrum, IEEE's flagship publication. IEEE Spectrum Radio is an audio edition of selected stories from Spectrum. When we were getting this going, I listened to about a dozen shows and was really impressed with the content and the production values. I'm excited to welcome IEEE to IT Conversations and I'm looking forward to sharing more of the shows I loved with you. As always, contact
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                    CTO Breakfast for November and December

                    This Thursday will be the CTO breakfast for November and December. We'll hold it at 8am in the usual place (Executive Conference Room of Building L at Canyon Park Technology Center). For more information on location, including maps, please see the CTO Breakfast page. Things that are on my mind include building reservations systems, reputation, and next week's Internet Identity Workshop. Come prepared to discuss what's on your mind. Future breakfasts will be held on the following dates: January 25 (Thursday) February 15 (Thursday) March 22 (Thursday) As far as location for these meetings goes, I'll let you know
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                    Managing Vendors Before They Manage You

                    On this week's Technometria Podcast, Scott Lemon, Matt Asay and myself are joined by Britt Blaser and Doc Searls. We have a great discussion about how Internet tools can be used to manage vendors instead of them managing us. Doc calls this "vendor resource management." Good name.
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                    Discussing Identity Public Policy in Utah

                    Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, public officials have been under increasing pressure to employ identity in the name of security. Advancements in identification and surveillance technologies -- biometrics, identity cards, databases, RFID, and so on -- threaten privacy and civil liberties, enable identity fraud, and subject people to unwanted observation. But there is no going back. Rep. John Dougall has invited Jim Harper to discuss his book, Identity Crisis: How Identification is Overused and Misunderstood. Identity Crisis is a superb primer on identification, identification theory, and identity policy. Citizens, technologists, and policymakers alike need a good
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                    Building Reservations System - Volunteers Needed

                    I've been asked by the Heber Valley Camp (HVC) to help them build a reservations system. HVC is an 8500 acre camp east of Heber Utah that is used by young women's groups from the LDS Church. The camp also allows family camping when it's not being used for it's primary purpose. Right now the camp has six separate camps that can accommodate around 350 people each. When it's complete that number could go to as high as 21 camps. As you can imagine, scheduling something like this isn't something you can do with a spreadsheet since the camp
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                    Flying to Afton

                    The Elk Arch in Afton(click to enlarge) I flew up to Afton WY this morning with Steve Fulling and my daughter. We were actually headed to Driggs, but as we passed Afton, I suggested we stop there. I was glad we did--Afton is a nice little town and we had a great breakfast. Today was a beautiful day for flying too--there's nothing better to do on a holiday weekend that fly somewhere for breakfast! I've got got pictures, if you're interested.
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                    Curing the Common Cold

                    Ever wondered why there was no cure for the common cold? Now you know.
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                    In Praise of IT Conversations' Audio Engineers

                    I published a panel discussion of Web 2.0 from SofTECH last week. Listen to it--I think you're like it. In fact I was so sure it was good content that I put it in the production queue against the advice of Paul Figgiani, IT Conversation's Chief Audio Engineer. As we got it, the audio was pretty rough. If you listen to it now, you'd never know it--I was amazed at how well it had cleaned up. All I've got to say is that Steven Ng, the show's audio engineer and Paul are miracle workers. At one point in the
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                    Talking About Sun's Open Source Java

                    I posted the latest edition of the Technometria Podcast yesterday. We talk about voting technology in the wake of the election and the announcement that Java was going open source. Matt has some interesting perspectives on what the GPL license would do to Sun's bottom line and why GPL was a strategic move. It's interesting to note that Java wasn't open sourced--rather the name was. That is, Sun still retains copyright and trademark protection over the name and thus can control what is and what isn't Java. For now, they seem to be keeping pretty tight restrictions on the
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                    Concatenating PDF

                    Today I needed to combine a PDF file for a coverpage (produced from Word) with another PDF representing the body of the document (produced from LaTeX) into a single document. Turns out OS X already has a script that does this hidden deep inside Automator. The path is very long, so I'll break it up to lead you to the file: cd /System/Library/Automator/Combine\\ PDF\\ Pages.action cd Contents/Resources ls -l join.py If you look at the Python script, you'll see some usage information at the top. I created a link to the script in by bin directory to make using
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                    Perverse Progress

                    Lessig has another great essay on what he calls "a costly addiction." My favorite quote: [I]t takes an extraordinarily perverse view of progress to think that protecting the past is the best path to the future. From Wired 14.11: PostsReferenced Mon Nov 20 2006 13:54:58 GMT-0700 (MST) And as a bonus, be sure to read Steven Levy's article on the iPod. He is such a great writer. He describes showing the iPod to Bill Gates the day after Jobs announced it: I brought along my new iPod. At the end of the meal, just as the other guests at
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                    The S Stands for Simple

                    I'm neck deep trying to get a paper out today, so I won't be blogging much, but in the meantime, if you're interested in Web Services, go read Pete Lacey's The S Stands for Simple. I laughed out loud several times.
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                    EyeTV Hybrid for Macs

                    A week or so ago, I picked up one of these EyeTV hybrids, a little device that has a USB connector on one end and a cable connector on the other. Plug it into your computer, connect up the cable and you're watching TV. There's an online program guide so you can schedule recordings of upcoming shows--just like TiVo. The device works with the Apple remote that comes with the new iMacs, Minis, and MacBooks. The best part is that it can automatically takes things you record and put them on your iPod (or at least into iTunes, to
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                    Podcasting Survey

                    If you're inclined to help IT Conversations at all, take a few minutes to answer this survey about podcasting and how you feel about it and use it. We'd really appreciate it.
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                    LaTeXiT

                    If you've ever needed to add complex equations to a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation or a Word document, then you need to know about LaTeXiT, an OS X application that typesets LaTeX without the need to create a file and run it through LaTeX. The images it creates are draggable to other applications. Of course, you have to know LaTeX to set up the equations, but if you need to typeset math, there's no way around that in any event.
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                    Bot Nets and Spamming

                    You've probably been deluged by Spam in the last month or so selling penis enlargement pills or trying to get you to buy penny stock. A fascinating eWeek article gives details about the sophisticated bot net that's behind the Spam. The bot net is capable of sending over 1 billion email messages a day. That's quite a resource. Like anyone with a valuable asset, the bot herders have put considerable time and effort into growing, managing, and protecting it. The accompanying slide show is worth looking at as well.
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                    Doing Time for Web Design

                    In the "be careful who you do business with" category is this story about New York authorities shutting down an illegal gambling operation. They also went after the Web site's designers and the security firm that did security screening for the site.
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                    CTO Breakfast Venue

                    It's been a good run, but after almost two years, the executive conference room at the Canyon Park Technology Center will no longer be available for our monthly CTO Breakfasts. Canyon Park has leased Building L to UVSC and the restrictions that UVSC is placing on its use make it unpalatable. First, they want to charge us $50 per month to use the conference room unless we cater breakfast through them. Second, they want me to purchase insurance. We could probably work all that out, but it would mean a lot of administrative overhead in signing contracts, working out
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                    Good Housekeeping On Your Mac

                    Activity monitor shows which processor apps were built for(click to enlarge) Rosetta, the OS X technology that runs code built for the G4 processor in the Intel platform is so good that you can easily be running old code, even when new code, built for the processor you're running is long out. Kelly Flanagan told me today that you can make Activity Monitor show you the "kind" of a process (select "kind" in View). I found I had half a dozen little applications and menu bar items that were running G4 code and updated them. I also found a few
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                    Starting Up svnserver With launchd

                    Last night when I messed up my account, I was trying to (re)set-up SVN on my laptop. I was following these instructions. They're pretty good, but they leave out how to actually get the launchd daemon loaded and working. I found these instructions on creating launchd daemons helpful as well as these on getting started with launchd. Here's specifically what I did after I'd created the svn.plist file: cd to /Library/LaunchDaemons Start up launchctl as root sudo launchctl Load the svn.plist file launchd% load svn.plist You can list the loaded jobs now to be sure it's there using the
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                    I'm a (Fan) Control Freak

                    Found this little app for controlling fans on the MacBook Pro. The second editions (with the Core 2 Duo) seem to run much cooler than the first editions (with the Core Duo). Still, it's fun to play with things like fan speeds. I also use CoreDuoTemp to monitor the temperature and see what's happening.
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                    Chatting Up RubyForge

                    I put up the third installment of the newly launched Technometria Podcast at IT Conversations today. This week Scott, Matt, and I are talking to Tom Copeland about RubyForge. I like the discipline of doing the show regularly and I like the conversations we're having. I get something out of them every week--I hope you do to. Let me know what you think...
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                    Virtual Regionalism

                    David Stephenson has written an Op-Ed piece for the Boston Globe calling on Massachusetts Governor-elect Deval Patrick to use the Web to create better state government. David lists several examples of how eGovernment initiatives in other states have made government better. He also makes some suggestions that go beyond merely adopting what others are doing, including something he calls "virtual regionalism:" Most creative would be what I call "virtual regionalism ": not statutory regional bodies, but ad hoc, voluntary ones helping communities with similar interests and problems to collaborate on shared solutions. If the Office of Commonwealth Development or
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                    And Now...Scheme in Haskell

                    AS a followup to my post last week about building a Lisp interpreter in Haskell, here's a similar, albeit more in-depth, tutorial that shows how to implement a good-sized subset of R5RS Scheme in Haskell.
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                    Breaking Into My Mac

                    Over the weekend, I somehow unclicked the "Allow use to administer computer" box on my Mac for my own account. I was playing around with some account stuff, trying to set up a role account for SVN and didn't notice my mistake until I'd quit System Preferences. At that point, I was using an account that was a system administrator, so I couldn't correct my mistake. I had another administrator account on the computer that I'd set up some time ago when the computer was in the shop and they needed access, but I couldn't remember the password. I
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                    Web Services and IDEA

                    Sears Tower(click to enlarge) I spent yesterday in Chicago giving a talk on Web services to the Illinois Data Exchange Affiliates (IDEA). IDEA is a group of seven northern Illinois counties and over 200 municipal governments that was formed to promote data exchange for eGovernment. Greg Sanders of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning is one of the chief instigators of IDEA and asked me to come speak. I had a blast and really enjoyed the trip. The basic idea: simple, inexpensive design rules for Web sites can lead to big data exchange opportunities. Start with public data, do simple
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                    Company Silos and Design

                    One of the criticisms of eGovernment is that it's silo'd--each agency is an island and there's little incentive and even less money for doing interagency eGovernment projects. But government isn't alone in that area--businesses are just as bad. In this talk on Good Design from User Experience Week, Peter Merholz talks about the silos that exist in companies that create barriers to serving customers. His specific example is how redesigning a bank's Web site isn't very effective when customers are so put out at the design of the paper statements they get each month that they've given up interacting
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                    All Your Base Are Belong to Us

                    In case you hadn't heard, Bill Gates is the new Secretary of Defense. Oh, wait...different Gates. All I can say is "it's about time." In fact, it's way past time. I don't care how smart he is or how much the President loves him, Donald Rumsfield lost the confidence of the public and the military long ago. You'd have to conclude that the only reason this happened is because the Dems took Congress and Pres. Bush felt that he had to. As a lifelong Republican, I'm not excited about that development, but if that's what it takes to wake
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                    A Lisp Interpreter in Haskell

                    Defmacro.org has an excellent little article on using Haskell to build a working Lisp interpreter--at least a good start at one. I do something similar with my 330 class using Gofer (an outdated dialect related to Haskell). I mostly use Gofer to show them how type inference works, but since they're studying interpreters, they might as well see an inerpreter in Gofer while we're at it. It's been too long since I've known monads well enough to decipher what he does at the end. I'm going to have to go back and review and then look at his article
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                    Managing Your Online Reputation--With a Little Help

                    Wired has an article about reputation management services that are springing up on Web. Michael Fertik and his partners originally conceived of ReputationDefender as a way for parents to protect their children from potentially damaging postings to social networking sites like MySpace or Facebook. "I don't like the idea that kids and teenagers might suffer lifelong harm because of momentary mistakes," says Fertik. From Wired News: Delete Your Bad Web RepReferenced Wed Nov 08 2006 15:52:37 GMT-0800 (PST) Of course, the service might be useful to people who are a bit older as well. They charge a monthly fee
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                    FCW Government CIO Conference

                    Hotel Del Coronado(click to enlarge) I've been at the Federal Computer Week Government CIO conference today in San Diego. I was asked to speak on Digital Identity and they were even good enough to give away some copies of my book. Here are the slides from my talk. I wish I'd had more time to develop some of the themes. The conference was at the Hotel Del Coronado, a lovely place on the beach. I took a few pictures. Tomorrow I heard to Chicago to talk about Web services and data sharing.
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                    Voting Machine Troubles in Utah County

                    Voters in Utah County are having trouble voting this morning. The problem seems to be poll workers not knowing how to bring the machines up and make them work. Robert Nelson was among those in Provo and other locations in Utah County who were unable to cast their votes using the new voting machines when the polls opened. After arriving at his polling location at 7 a.m., Nelson said he spent an hour and a half hoping the machines would be fixed. "The workers were earnestly trying to get the machines to work, but not a one in our
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                    Technometria Podcast Is Reborn

                    One of the things I've thought IT Conversations needed was a panel-style show that aired regularly. I like that style of show as a listener and hear occasionally from other people that they like them too. So, I started one. I just published the second installment of Technometria as a regular panel today. I published the first last week. The first show had Dave Rosenberg of MuleSource as a guest and has an open source focus. The second show had Ross Mayfield as a guest and we talked a lot about wikis, social software, and the Google/JotSpot deal, as
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                    Nokia's Open Source

                    Maybe Nokia S60 users are all over this, but I wasn't aware of it until Kelly Flanagan pointed it out to me: Nokia has a small collection of open source projects online. This one, for example, looked pretty interesting: a Symbian port of Apache httpd and connectivity solution that gives a mobile phone a global URL. Of, how about a port of Python for the S60. Phones have suffered from being too much about what the cellular company puts on them and not enough about what users put on them. Of course, the cellular companies do this to create
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                    Hacking the Vote

                    There's an HBO documentary on tonight called Hacking the Vote (see the trailer on YouTube). I don't have HBO, but wish I could watch it.
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                    Rails Demo

                    I put together a Rails Demo for my class that shows them how Rails could be used to do part of what they're doing in one assignment with J2EE. I plan to run through the entire demo Monday in class.
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                    Contextual Authority Tagging

                    Terrell Russell has a good post about the wisdom of crowds and expertise and why they're not the same. Crowds are good at giving opinions, but experts have knowledge. Folksonomies are about the wisdom of crowds. Great for classification. Terrell things tags can be used to "[discovering] and [defining] cognitive authority through reputation." He's working on something called contextual authority tagging to fill this gap. Contextual Authority Tagging is the use of folksonomy to discover and define cognitive authority through reputation within communities of users. Authority is granted by individual users to other individual users with regard to their
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                    Memes, Links, and Gestures

                    Jason Calacanis quoted my entire post on why mobile data center matter in Part II of this week's Gillmor Gang. (Part I of the Hangup Gang is entirely skippable, BTW, so start with Part II.) He does this as an example of how podcast listeners aren't just listeners. Rather they're participants in the conversation. The whole discussion started with an observation by Jason that even though podcasts don't have links, people link them anyway. This got labeled "meme extension." You might view this as a generalization of links to something more abstract. Or you might just view meme extension
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