Archive for Dec 2008

                    Moving Jobs Between Printers in OS X

                    My wife printed 6 documents to a printer that is configured on her laptop, but not available. She came to me and asked if I could help. I said she'd have to delete them from the print queue and reprint them to the right printer. "Can't you just grab them and move them to the right printer?" she asked innocently. Of course not. Or, can you? Turns out you can. I opened the other printer, highlighted the jobs, and simple drug them over. They started printing. I was pleasantly surprised. File this under "sometimes we want
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                    Asymmetric Follow a Core Web 2.0 Pattern

                    James Governor wrote a post on asymmetrical follow as a core Web 2.0 pattern earlier this month. I ran across it when JP referenced it in his quest to decide if Twitter is a publishing platform. James uses this metaphor to explain asymmetric follow: You're sitting at the back of the room in a large auditorium. There is a guy up front, and he is having a conversation with the people in the front few rows. You can't hear them quite so well, although it seems like you can tune into them if you listen carefully.
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                    Infrastructure Automation Increases Operational Efficiency

                    Last week Jeff Atwood wrote a piece about why throwing hardware at a problem makes sense in some situations. He's careful to avoid the trap of thinking that throwing hardware at a poorly designed program will do more than buy you a little time, but makes a good point: Clearly, hardware is cheap, and programmers are expensive. Whenever you're provided an opportunity to leverage that imbalance, it would be incredibly foolish not to. From Coding Horror: Hardware is Cheap, Programmers are ExpensiveReferenced Sat Dec 27 2008 15:42:36 GMT-0700 (MST) Riffing on that, Gordon Weakliem makes a related and somewhat
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                    Innovation and the Secret Sauce

                    In this week's Technometria podcast, Craig Burton joined Scott and I to discuss some of his ideas about innovation. Craig reviews topics covered in three of his recent essays and talks about how innovation is often misunderstood. He reviews how technology companies make mistakes with customer demographics, as well as how to distinguish innovation myths from innovation realities. He also presents an example of true innovation as he describes how Novell created software infrastructure as a new software category. Here's links to the essays: Mythical Demographics Intentional Innovation Ruminations of a Software Man
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                    Working the Infrastructure

                    I ran across a couple of interesting blog posts that got me thinking about infrastructure and automation. The first was from Markus Frind, the CEO of Plentyoffish.com. Markus reported that according to hitwise.com, Plentyoffish was the 13th most heavily trafficed site last year. It may be the most popular site you've never heard of if you're not into online dating. The interesting part of that is that all this is done with just a handful of servers. PlentyOfFish (POF) gets 1.2 billion page views/month, and 500,000 average unique logins per day. The peak season is January,
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                    Azigo's RemindMe Service and Kynetx

                    Yesterday Azigo (Parity) launched it's RemindMe service. RemindMe uses Information Cards to represent relationships that are meaningful to the shopper and then overlays Google and Yahoo! with reminders to indicate when those relationships might be valuable. For example, if you're a AAA member, you get a discount at Hertz. RemindMe will alert you to that fact. The reason I'm jazzed about it is that Kynetx Network Service (KNS) is being used to provide the overlays. In our partnership, Azigo is supplying the cards and selector (including the browser add-on). The add-on calls our service depending on what cards are
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                    Parallels Has a Command Line Tool Too!

                    When I wrote the head to head review of Parallels and Fusion for InfoWorld, I also did a sidebar on remote control of hypervisors and guests. At the time I wasn't aware that Parallels also has a command line tool called prlctl for managing the hypervisor and controlling guests. A simple "man prlctl" told me all I needed to know and a minute later, I was starting, stopping, and suspending guests from the terminal. The screenshot to the right (click to enlarge) shows it in the process of suspending a Vista operating system guest on my machine. In addition
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                    Javascript Debugging in IE

                    I've spent the last several days immersed in debugging Javascript in Internet Explorer. It's not as bad as it could be. After all, I'm using jQuery and that cuts down on the cross-browser incompatibilities. In it's normal usage, Kynetx Network Services (KNS) compiles our domain specific language, called KRL, into Javascript. Since we test that the Javascript is compatible with multiple browsers, normal rule evaluation is pretty safe. However, like any good DSL, KRL has a way of dropping out of the DSL and into the base system--in this case Javascript. That's when things get dicey.
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                    Fusion vs. Parallels: The Horse Race Continues

                    My second review of Fusion and Parallels appeared today in InfoWorld. I reviewed Fusion 1.0 and Parallels 3.0 a little over a year ago. They've both had major upgrades since then, so it was time for another look. The bottom line is that there's not a lot of difference between these two products. They both perform well and do what you'd expect them to. They both have lots of cool features--especially for Windows users on the Mac--the core audience. The differences are minor. While some of those differences might be the reason that you'd prefer one over the other,
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                    The Future of Browsers

                    The final session of the day is a panel on the future of the browser. On the panel are Joshua Allen of Microsoft, Mike Shaver of Mozilla, and Nick Baum of Google. Noticeably missing are Opera (excused due to distance) and Apple (absent without excuse). Douglas Crockford, of Javascript fame, is the moderator. Douglas asks is the add-on the best model for letting users solve their frustrations with the lack of capability in a browser. Joshua talks about Microsoft's goal to move toward extensibility through Web standards where ever possible and get away from native apps. Mike says that
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                    Multi-Platform Add-On Lessons Learned

                    Words of advice from the multi-platform add-on session at AddOnCon: Start from the beginning to support multiple browsers by not using features that are specific to one or the other. Keep things like XPath expression standard Test IE add-ons on Vista and IE8 first--especially if you're going to use an external process. Using an external process in IE can greatly increase testability Modularity and code portability The learning curve for IE add-on development is steep. Once you're on top, it flattens out and gets easier. Crashing the browser is easy in IE and the opportunity for conflicts is high
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                    Add-on and Mashup Development: Leveraging 3rd-Party APIs

                    An add-on in Firefox is Javascript, XUL, and CSS. Any part of the Firefox UI can be modified by an add-on. Version control is built-in as is an upgrade mechanism. Platform APIs allow an add-on to access anything on the machine. That's good and bad. There are security issues, but it makes add-ons very powerful because you have full access. One of the nice things about moving a mashup into an add-on is that you do away with many of the cross-site scripting restrictions that make mashups hard, or even difficult. Much of what you do
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                    Porting Add-ons from Firefox to IE

                    Joshua Allen of Microsoft is speaking about porting add-ons from Firefox to Internet Explorer. IE add-ons have been less popular for a few reasons: Building for IE is difficult Debugging tools are few and far between The best reason to target IE as well as Firefox is that the Web is about interoperability. The point of the Web is any use anywhere can get your stuff and use it. There's no competitive advantage to an add-on company to be in one browser. Being in as many browsers as possible is important. Joshua uses Oomph, microformats tool,
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                    Add On Business Models

                    The opening panel at Add On Con is made up of Kimbal Musk of OneRiot, Alec Jeong of CoolIris, Alex Iskold of AdaptiveBlue, Geoff Mack of Alexa James Joaquin of Foxmarks and Adam Boyden of Conduit. The participants had to introduce themselves with a haiku. That was pretty entertaining. Alexa arguably has the first and most well known business based on an add-on. The Alexa toolbar was made popular by webmasters who promoted the toolbar as a way of elevating their rankings. This was a double edged sword since it also muddied their data for a
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                    Travels, Trials, and Browser Tribulations

                    I this week's Technometria podcast, Scott, Ben, and I are joined by Tyler Whitaker and Dion Almaer, who both discuss some of their recent technology activities. Ben and Dion have recently been hired at Mozilla, where the company is working on new open web tools for developers. They talk about some of their long-term and short-term goals, including plans on ways to make it easier to deal with browser differences. In addition, Tyler discusses some of his recent internet connectivity problems and Scott talks about his recent delayed flight and how a website helped him better
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                    What's on My Desktop? Four New Apps for Staying Connected

                    Image by flibblesan One of the things I love about going to conferences is that there are usually a lot of Mac users there and that means getting the goods on what new Mac software people are using. My last trips to Defrag and IIW were good in that regard as I found out about a few new things that I'm enjoying. The first, and probably the most useful, is Snackr. Snackr is an RSS reader that displays the most recent articles from feeds you subscribe to as a rolling ticker on the bottom, top, or side of your
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                    Retailers Struggle to Join the 21st Century: Instant Price Match

                    This ReadWriteWeb story reports that barcode scanning applications on devices like the iPhone and the G1 are causing a stir among offline retailers. I've seen such an app on the G1, but don't remember what it's called. On the iPhone there are apps like Checkout and Snappr. The big announcement today was that Amazon is releasing their own app called "Amazon Remembers" that's supposed to work from a picture of the product--not just a barcode. The story on ReadWriteWeb reports: Although consumers may be catching on to this barcode-scanning trend, some stores are still in the dark. For example,
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                    CTO Breakfast this Friday: Dec 5

                    The CTO Breakfast for November and December will be on Friday December 5, 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: Jan 30, 2009 (Friday) Feb 26, 2009 (Thursday) Mar 27, 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 up for
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                    Verizon Calendar Math

                    When I started up VZAccess Manager (the software that connects my V640 3G modem to the cloud) today, it showed me how many megabytes I'd used and when it would be reset: Apparently at Verizon the years have 13 months.
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                    Reactivating Vista in Parallels 4.0

                    Windows Vista (oops, can I still call it that?) has "Windows Genuine Advantage" and so when it's moved to new hardware have having been installed somewhere else, it needs to be "reactivated." Parallels Desktop was recently updated to version 4.0. This apparently involved some changes to the virtualized hardware presented to the OS since machines created with older versions of Parallels have to be upgraded. You can see where this is going. The conversion process "fails" with a message that something has to be done manually. When you get into the machine, Vista is asking to
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                    Technometria Podcast No. 100: Elias Torres and Ben Adida on RDFa

                    Today I published the 100th Technometria podcast on IT Conversations. The show was a conversation with Elias Torres and Ben Adida about RDFa. I learned about RDFa from Elias and Ben when we were in Beijing for WWW2007 last April. The idea is simple: RDF is nice but requires people write metadata separate from the content it describes. Why not embed that semantic information inside the HTML as attributes? This is a pretty cool idea--complimentary to the idea of microformats, I think--that just might make the semantic web palatable enough that it actually happens. Bonus: Here's an RDFa Primer
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                    A Member of Eastern Standard Tribe

                    Yesterday during a minor scheduling snafu with an IT Conversations interview Scott Lemon remarked that we all ought to just use Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and forget about it. Cory Doctorow had a book with a title evocative of that idea: Eastern Standard Tribe. This morning, someone else mentioned the same kind of scheduling problem to me and I started thinking that we really ought to have just one timezone for the entire US. Maybe the whole world. China, after all, runs the whole country on Beijing time. You might think "those poor people in western China--having to get
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                    TwitterCards: Grabbing Contact Data from Twitter with Microformats

                    This morning @dberlind and @kevinmarks were tweeting about microformats in Twitter. David was positing something he called the "TwitterCard." Kevin points out that unbeknownest to me, and I suspect almost everyone else, Twitter supports the hCard microformat. If you'd like to make use of them, you need a client that supports microformats. Fortunately for Firefox users, Mike Kaply has an addon that does just that called Operator. Simply install operator, go to a Twitter page and use the handy pulldown menus under the toolbar to export any hCard data as a vCard. The OS X picked
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                    Broken: Debit Card Rebates

                    Last week I got a rebate from ATT for a recent purchase of a cell phone. On one hand debit cards are convenient, but a check is better: They're more fungible. I can't use a check to pay off another card or part of my rent, for example. The money ends up in your account immediately rather than sitting in ATT's account. I can cash the check and wait to use the funds until later. The debit cards expire in 60-90 days. I tweeted some of this and got a few good responses, but the one I enjoyed most
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                    Black Friday was Good to Ecommerce

                    According to comScore, Black Friday shopping was up by 1% this year over last. That's good news given that rest of November showed a drop of 4%. Today, CyberMonday, has typically been a good predictor of holiday ecommerce sales. Related articles by ZemantaDespite steady Black Friday numbers, online shopping fallsBlack Friday not terrible; Christmas not doomed?
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