Archive for Oct 2008

                    Why Does Google Think I am in Spain?

                    For the last few days whenever I and others at the office do a Google search, we get redirected to google.es. I noticed today that I'm seeing Google Ad Sense ads in Spanish as well. I don't think it's something on my configuration, machine, or profile because it only happens at the office and happens to others as well. The office IP is which Maxmind thinks is in Utah (because it is). But assuming that Google is making the decision based on GeoIP, they clearly don't. Does anyone know whether Google is indeed making these decisions based on
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                    Startup Hierarchies and Going Lean

                    Here's a few good articles by Eric Ries I ran across today on startups. In A Hierarchy of Pitches, Eric talks about aligning your pitch with what stage your company is in. This is helpful analysis and acknowledges that companies are at--and get funding at--a variety of levels in their maturity. Eric gives ideas about what investor questions are relevant at each level and what slide you have to focus on. If you're getting questions that seem misaligned with where you think you're at, then you should re-evaluate something. In Lean Startups vs Lean Companies Eric defines what it
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                    Open High School of Utah

                    I've mentioned a few times on Twitter that I'm on the board of directors for the Open High School of Utah and some people have asked to know more. The Open High School of Utah is an online public charter high school based on open source course content. Not "open source" in the software sense, but "open source" in the sense that all the course content is openly licensed. We're taking applications for 9th grade in Fall 2009 right now. Utah students attend for free. The open courseware model is one that's been working for some time at MIT,
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                    I'm Voting for the Conservative Candidate--If I Can Find Him

                    I've watched the Presidential Election of 2008 unfold with anxiety. As a life-long Republican, I've never had any question about who I wanted to be the next President. Indeed, I've usually been completely committed to the Republican candidate before the primaries were even over. Not so this year. No--this isn't an announcement that I've thrown in with Obama. Rather it's a confession that McCain and the Republican Party of Bush II have left me cold. Reagan or Bush Part of my problem is that more than a Republican, I am a conservative. I've been a conservative since fifth grade--the
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                    This Recession Will Be Different for Tech

                    George Colony at Forrester argues that this recession will be different for technology companies. I'll let you read the arguments, but the gist is: Tech will be down, but not out. Transformation and innovation will lead recovery. Tech is everywhere. Customers live on tech. Tech issues are burning. I think (hope?) he's right!
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                    CTO Breakfast on Thursday

                    The CTO Breakfast for October will be on Thursday Oct 30, at 8am in the Novell Cafeteria (Building H, Provo Campus). If you are interested in technology and especially it's use in building high-tech products, then you're invited--you don't have to be a CTO, just have aspirations! Here are the scheduled dates for future breakfasts: Oct 30 (Thursday) Dec 5 (Friday) - Combined Nov and Dec breakfast Jan 30, 2009 (Friday) There's a Google Calendar with dates for the CTO breakfast that you can subscribe to if you like. If you'd like to be reminded by email, just sign
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                    Suing Over Reputation

                    This Ars Technica story tells of an ebay seller who is suing a buyer over negative feedback. Since eBay removed negative feedback for buyers, there's no other way for sellers to leverage what could be vindictive buyers. On the other side, that leverage sometimes leads to buyers being unwilling to leave feedback. Of course the threat of a lawsuit does that in spades. eBay has a reputation problem they need to solve or the whole thing could fall down. As the article concludes: [S]ellers were a bit miffed at eBay's feedback changes, and organized a week-long strike that resulted
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                    Reloading OS X Using AppFresh

                    Last week I went to the Apple store and looked at the new Macbook Pro (MBP). I liked the keyboard and think the one-piece construction makes the overall design really slick. I especially like the fact that you can change out the hard drive without unbolting the case. I'm always changing out hard drives on my MBPs and after a while the cases don't quite fit together like they should. But what I really noticed was that it was fast. But my MBP should be almost as fast. I determined that I was suffering from OS rot and that
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                    One Week to Defrag!

                    This year, I haven't had much money to travel because when you're starting a business you do only that which needs to be done. Consequently, I haven't been going to many conferences. The big exception to that is Defrag. I enjoyed it a lot last year and decided I wanted to go back. And besides, I found a ticket to Denver for $91.16 on Delta--how could I refuse?
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                    Uninstalling Adobe Air on OS X

                    I was reloading my Macbook Pro tonight and something when wrong with the installation of Adobe Air. When I tried to use it, it failed. I tried to reinstall the application, but that didn't work because the installer says "This version of Adobe Air is already installed." But, of course it was corrupted. There was no uninstaller in the /Applications director like there should have been because the application wasn't really installed. Turns out you can run the installer from the command line with the -uninstall switch and it uninstalls nicely. Do this: cd /Volumes/Adobe AIR/Adobe AIR Installer.app/Contents/MacOS sudo
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                    Moviecle: Download Movies to Your USB Thumbdrive

                    I was in Boston's Logan airport this afternoon getting ready to fly home when I say this kiosk called a "Moviecle." The short description is it's a kiosk where you download movies to a USB thumbdrive. They have a collection of free content--travel guides--for now and hope to sell movies in the future. The London travel guides I downloaded were from TravelOn, in WMV format, and had no DRM. I don't know whether that will be the case for movies or not. Somehow I suspect not. The touch screen interface was easy to use. If I were buying, I'd
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                    America's CTO

                    There's been a lot of discussion about who America's CTO should be if Obama is elected. He's promised to appoint one. Someone asked me what I thought on Twitter and 140 characters just wasn't enough for a thought out response to a complicated question. First we should be clear on the differences between a CIO and a CTO. Were talking about a CTO job here and that's a different beast than the CIO. At this level, I'd expect th CTO to be mostly about policy. That's a good thing. Technology is a big part of the economy, but more
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                    Making Screencasts in OS X

                    I've been creating screencasts to show what Kynetx does for VCs and business development. Using screencasts is a quick, easy way to do a demo that doesn't fail and is self contained. I can email the link to a screencast to someone and they get a good idea what I want them to know. I've been using SnapZPro to record browser sessions and then using iMovie to create the actual movie. SnapZPro works great, but I'm not as impressed with iMovie. Maybe it's just me, but I find it inflexible and hard to use. If you've got suggestions on
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                    Start Your Business Now

                    Paul Graham has a new essay on Why to start a startup in a bad economy. Actually, he doesn't necessarily think starting in bad times is better than good times, just that there's nothing special about good times when it comes to starting high-tech businesses. He says that the state of the economy is a rounding error compared to the effects the founders have. The economic situation is apparently so grim that some experts fear we may be in for a stretch as bad as the mid seventies. When Microsoft and Apple were founded. As those examples suggest, a
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                    A Cautionary Tale for Old School Media Companies

                    Jeff Jarvis notes that TV Guide recently sold for $1 (not per copy--for the whole thing) and says: "Beware media and news companies that try to preserve their past: This could be you." This echos Clayton Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma. Very few companies can successfully ignore or even kill the old business to build the new one. Reading further into this story, the online piece wasn't included in the sale--Macrovision retained that part. They apparently did kill the magazine to save the future: online.
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                    Better Linking Between the iPhone and Laptops

                    Wouldn't it be nice if Apple would take the screen sharing technology that runs iChat and make it available for the iPhone? I'm sitting in a meeting and it would be nice to use a window on my MacBook Pro as the display for my iPhone. In fact, better linking between the iPhone and Apple computers in general would be nice. I miss things like Sailing Clicker since I moved to the iPhone. The iTunes Remote application is a good start, but it's just that--a start.
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                    Sam Ruby on jQuery

                    Despite an aversion to frameworks, Sam Ruby is trying out jQuery and generally seems to like what he sees. He says "The net effect of all of this is that you can 'write less and do more', as promised."
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                    Mossberg on the G1 Phone

                    Walt Mossberg, the technology reviewer for the Wall Street Journal has a review of the G1, sometimes known as the gPhone. The G1 is Google's competitor to the iPhone. He says: I have been testing the G1 extensively, in multiple cities and in multiple scenarios. In general, I like it and consider it a worthy competitor to the iPhone. Both devices run on fast 3G phone networks and include Wi-Fi. Both have smart-touch interfaces and robust Web browsers. Both have the ability to easily download third-party apps, or programs. But the two devices have different strengths and weaknesses, and
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                    Stack Overflow and Cowbells

                    I just put up Episode 26 of Stack Overflow on IT Conversations. I've really enjoyed listening to Joel and Jeff over the last few months. And the Stack Overflow site is simply the best place to get answers to programming questions. From the show description: Joel and Jeff answer five listener questions, mostly about social software design. Warning: this podcast features cowbell. Really. From IT Conversations | StackOverflow | Episode 26 (Free Podcast)Referenced Wed Oct 15 2008 18:31:15 GMT-0600 (MDT)
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                    Twitter Reach and Grade

                    I saw two different programs today that attempt to measure or report on your Twitter influence: twInfluence and Twitter Grader. Of the two, twInfluence seems the most comprehensive, but I'm not sure what either of them mean. If I were in the top 100 on either though I'd be bragging about it. Just because.
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                    Silver Lining

                    Fareed Zakaria has a nice little article at Newsweek on the silver lining to this whole economic crisis. He says: If there is a lesson to be taken from this crisis, it's a simple and old rule of economics: there is no free lunch. If you want something, you have to pay for it. Debt is not a bad thing. Used responsibly, it is at the heart of modern capitalism. But hiding mountains of debt in complex instruments is a way to disguise costs, an invitation to irresponsible behavior. At some point, the magical accounting had to stop. At
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                    Buckley Voting for Obama

                    This is old news by now, but it's new to me. Christopher Buckley, son of William F., has declared his intention to vote for Obama over McCain. Says he concerning McCain: John McCain has changed. He said, famously, apropos the Republican debacle post-1994, "We came to Washington to change it, and Washington changed us." This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget "by the end of my first term." Who, really,
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                    Early Voting in Utah

                    If you're interested in avoiding the lines at your polling place, consider early voting. Most states have provisions for early voting. Utah has information about early voting online, although sadly the actual list of locations is a PDF document. Early voting in Utah happens between October 21st and 31st. Most of the locations have limited hours, so be sure to check that. You'll need to bring a picture ID (whereas you don't for voting at your normal polling place). I was a little disappointed in Utah's online voting information. When you go to the "Leave Your Print" site, there's
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                    Twitter Vote Report: Spread the Word

                    Britt Blaser sent me a link to Twitter Vote Report, a system for sharing stories and issue about voting across the country. Using it is simple, simply tweet with the hashtag #votereport and give: The time of day (9:20 am, 1:12 pm) The zip code you just voted in (e.g. 10591, 10012) The issue: Wait (e.g. a waiting time of over ? hour) Reg. (e.g. a problem with your registration) Machine (e.g. voting machines are broken or jamming) I love this idea. Simple applications of technology for making our democracy work better. Twitter vote support still needs some help
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                    Build an Internet Explorer Plugin for Me, Please

                    I'm looking for someone to build a simple plugin for Internet Explorer. We use the plugin for testing Kynetx. I already have a Firefox version, but need to test against IE as well. If you've got expertise and would like to know more, contact me.
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                    Tunneling SSH Through Screensharing in OS X

                    I overhead an exchange between two friends that I thought was interesting. One needed help from the other and asked him to SSH into a machine. The place where the second friend works blocks outgoing port 22, the port SSH lives on. Don't ask me why. The solution? Friend one does a screenshare to friend two who uses the shared machine to SSH. First time I've seen screensharing being used to tunnel SSH.
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                    Using Puppet and CPAN

                    The code that makes Kynetx work is a couple of custom Apache modules written in Perl. So, configuring machines via puppet, naturally requires ensuring that a set of Perl modules are loaded. For a long time, I was using a private bundle, but I found that was unreliable. For the most part it worked fine, but then sometimes I'd get an error that Perl couldn't find the bundle, even though it was clearly in the path. I didn't want to spend a lot of time debugging it because I figured it was a dead end. Eventually, I've got to
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                    Top Ten IT Conversations Shows for September 2008

                    Here are the top ten shows on IT Conversations (by download) for September 2008. Episode 19 - StackOverflow (Rating: 2.67)Joel and Jeff discuss scaling and social effects in Stack Overflow, how to handle growth and the launch in a controlled way, and answer listener questions about backups, database design, and maintenance programming. Episode 18 - StackOverflow (Rating: 2.60)In the eighteenth episode of Stack Overflow, we finally meet Michael Pryor, the co-founder of Fog Creek Software -- and discuss the progress of the Stack Overflow beta in some depth. Episode Seventeen - StackOverflow (Rating: 2.00)In this special "developer edition" podcast,
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                    Javascript Thunks

                    I love how Javascript libraries like JQuery require people to use thunks all over the place: $(document).ready(function() { $("#orderedlist li:last").hover(function() { $(this).addClass("green"); },function(){ $(this).removeClass("green"); }); }); The functions without parameters are called thunks and their purpose is to delay the evaluation of the code in argument positions, circumventing standard applicative order evaluation. Here's hoping that future languages--even future versions of Javascript--take this need into account and add real linguistic features for delayed evaluation. Oh wait--Lisp already does and it's only 50 years old.
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                    Prototype Framework is a Javascript Extension, Not Just a Library

                    I recently ran into a problem with Prototype (the Javascript framework) that exposes a big difference between the design philosophy of Prototype and other frameworks like JQuery. Consider this code: var aryOmnDiv = [ 'header_tracking', 'left_nav_tracking', 'footer', 'homepagecategories', 'subcats', 'bread_crumb', 'subcat_wrapper', 'prod_group_wrapper']; //container divs for(var outside_i in aryOmnDiv) { var divname = aryOmnDiv[outside_i]; var div = $(divname); if(div) { \tvar anchors = div.getElementsByTagName('a'); } } Running this with Prototype installed produces and error that says "getElementsByTagName is not defined." The culprit is that the code is using a for...in loop as a shortcut for looping through the array. The
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