Eric Hartwell's InfoDabble

2005: March [April, May]

 Thursday, March 31, 2005
Malaysia car thieves steal finger. Malaysian police hunt a gang of thieves who cut off a driver's fingertip to override his car's security system. [BBC News | World | UK Edition 3/31/2005; 8:52:52 AM]
9:01:30 PM    

Scientists discover new mutant gene that may be responsible for people who wake up unsociably early. Reuters [Fark /31/2005; 3:53:05 PM] A mutant gene rather than anti social tendencies may be the cause of people going to sleep and waking up unsociably early, scientists said on Wednesday. People with earlybird syndrome sleep for the same length of time as non-sufferers but typically are wide awake and raring to go long before everyone else is up and about.
7:51:48 PM    

Video-game player stabs to death man who sold his cyber-sword. Yahoo [Fark 3/31/2005; 1:52:58 PM] Qiu Chengwei, 41, stabbed competitor Zhu Caoyuan repeatedly in the chest after he was told Zhu had sold his "dragon sabre", used in the popular online game, "Legend of Mir 3". Qiu and a friend jointly won their weapon last February, and lent it to Zhu who then sold it for 7,200 yuan (464 pounds), the newspaper said. Qui went to the police to report the "theft" but was told the weapon was not real property protected by law. "Zhu promised to hand over the cash but an angry Qui lost patience and attacked Zhu at his home, stabbing him in the left chest with great force and killing him," the court was told.
7:36:54 PM    

The TurboTax defense: IRS lets taxpayer off the hook because he used the software to prepare his tax return and it sucked. (TaxProf) [Fark 3/31/2005; 1:52:58 PM]
7:32:30 PM    

Passport Chip Could Attract High-Tech Muggers [Slashdot: 3/31/2005; 12:54:02 PM] reports that 'business travel groups, security experts and privacy advocates are looking to derail a government plan to insert remotely readable chips in American passports, calling the chips homing devices for high-tech muggers, identity thieves and even terrorists.' and that 'The 64-KB chips will include the information from the photo page of the passport, including name, date of birth and a digitized form of the passport picture.
7:30:41 PM    

Just the facts for Canadian TV fans [The Globe And Mail: National 3/31/2005; 1:52:08 PM] Canadian television viewers are spending more time on the headlines and less time on the sidelines, a new Statistics Canada survey suggested Thursday.
7:26:19 PM    

Owners of new baseball stadium recruit 103 Little Leaguers to flush every toilet in the place at once to test worst-case scenario[Fark 3/31/2005; 12:53:55 PM] Young boys like to flush toilets for whatever reason," said Shawn Smith, president and general manager of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. The Super Flush is advised in order to clear any impurities out of the system. The Fisher Cats' front office staff will coordinate the exact timing via radio. Rather that one gush, it will take place in sequence, Smith said. Kind of like doing the wave — the restroom wave, he said. Smith stressed that the Little League players are only needed to flush handles — not to make any additions to the water already in the toilets. Afterward, they will be given a tour of the ballpark.

7:24:28 PM    

Microsoft Files John Doe Lawsuits Against Phishing Operators. Microsoft filed 117 "John Doe" lawsuits against phishing site operators in an effort to curtail the identity theft scams. [Redmond | The Latest News from 3/31/2005; 11:53:09 AM]
12:20:57 PM    

95% of IT Projects Not Delivered On Time [Slashdot: 3/31/2005; 11:52:11 AM] The Globe and Mail reports that 'A new report conducted by market research firm Info-Tech Research Group says 95 per cent of information technology groups are not delivering some number of projects on time or to the full satisfaction of the business executive.' The article goes on to discuss the reasons for this pervasive (perceived?) problem. The article mentions Info-Tech's reasons: unrealistic time frames, staff shortages, and poorly defined project scope. However, the article's author lays the blame with vendors.
12:19:29 PM    

Economic growth misses mark [The Globe And Mail: Business 3/31/2005; 10:53:43 AM]
12:16:47 PM    

SearchEnterpriseLinux: SMB Space Could be a Win for Novell. [Linux Today 3/31/2005; 8:52:22 AM] "Even after a much debated report on NetWare migration was issued by Boston-based Yankee Group, Novell continued to push Linux on all fronts, specifically its Linux Small Business Suite 9..."
9:12:23 AM    

Sony PSP stars in South Park episode. [Boing Boing 3/31/2005; 1:53:51 AM] Xeni Jardin: Tonight's new episode of South Park stars the mobile gaming gadget as a tool sent by God to separate good souls from evil, and vanquish the forces of hell. Kenny also enters a persistent vegetative state, and a feeding tube plays a supporting role.
9:09:37 AM    

 Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Portable Media CenterMSN Video Download for PMC and Pocket PC Launches[Gizmodo 3/30/2005; 7:52:48 AM] One of my biggest criticisms of Microsoft's Portable Media Center platform has been that there's really nothing to watch. You could download a few B-list movies from CinemaNow and Major League Baseball games or copy stuff from your Windows Media Center PC, but if you wanted to put anything else on the device, you had to transcode your video to Windows Media Video format (a hassle I will, perhaps unfairly, put up with in the PSP, but not in a device with the primary purpose of playing back video). Thankfully, Microsoft has finally launched MSN Video Downloads, the long-promised service to provide daily-updated content for easy download and syncing to your Portable Media Center. I haven't used it, but glancing over the content list looks somewhat promising—enough so that the $20-a-year subscription fee is probably worth it, if you've already dropped $400 on a PMC. The content works on Pocket PCs, as well.
12:05:10 PM    

Check Windows XP directory size information with Diruse. [ 3/30/2005; 3:52:44 AM] A great way to gather the information you want is to use the Windows Support Tools' Diruse command line tool. Here's how.
9:41:12 AM    
 Tuesday, March 29, 2005
The Value of Making Yourself Available to the Community[scooblog by josh ledgard 3/29/2005; 3:53:05 PM] One goal that my team is looking at pushing within the Developer Division is that every PUM (Large team leader) make themselves available to their customer communities through having a blog.  In addition to the feeling that blogging is really the industry standard for cooperate transparency there is value in simply making yourselves available to your community.  I offer the following, shameless self promotion, as a good example of the value of becoming available to the community.
...I sent an email to Josh Ledgard through his blog contact form. I had noticed him promoting the Visual Studio power toys (which are covered throughout the book) and in general trying to promote the community around Visual Studio. Josh responded to my email and from that point was an invaluable asset while writing this book. One of the cool side effects of so many Microsoft people blogging is that Josh could point me to a blog instead of having to provide me with a direct email. Why does this matter? I know when I was in a large corporation I was always hesitant to pass other's email address out to external people... but with a blog I could use the contact form. I can't tell you how valuable it was to be able to talk to the people who wrote the feature or tool I was covering, especially since some of the features I was writing about were still under development and changing. Even though my experience with Microsoft on this started out on a sour note, it ended very differently. The fact that these people were blogging made them available to me, without the blogs I would have struggled on and wrote the book without any of this support from Microsoft. So the next time someone asks me why it is good for companies like Microsoft blog I have a real answer.
I also feel that, as a result, the book that James would have published regardless... ended up being a much improved resource for it's intended audience and Visual Studio customers in general.
7:49:11 PM All Microsoft or None?. [Linux Today 3/29/2005; 9:52:07 AM] "...[T]he high cost of its server software could send some customers in the direction of open source, according to Jupiter Research..."
12:45:00 PM    

InfoWorld: With Linux, Enough is Sometimes Too Much. [Linux Today3/29/2005; 9:52:07 AM.] "Ignore servers for the moment and consider that other market--the one that's likely to be the most crucial for the Linux movement over the next few years--Linux on the desktop..."
12:44:18 PM    

Picotux Linux-Based RJ45-Sized Computer. [Gizmodo 3/29/2005; 7:53:17 AM] The $130 "Picotux" is a network-enabled Linux system in a unit just about the size of a standard RJ-45 Ethernet jack. It's based on the NetSilicon DigiConnect ME, a fully functional Linux-based OS, with up to 8 MB of Flash memory and blinking LEDs to tell you what's going on in there. It requires 3.3V of DC power but also includes a serial port and a processor up to 55MHz. It's available in Wireless flavor as well. A similar, Ethernet-sized web server has existed for some time, but this is likely the first running a Linux kernel on it. It's available today, if you speak German.
 - Linux on an Ethernet Connector [LinuxDevices]
 - World's Smallest Linux Box Fits in RJ-45 Jack [Slashdot: 3/28/2005; 6:52:57 PM]
12:35:31 PM    

Creating quick notes with WordPad scraps in Windows XP[ 3/29/2005; 3:52:43 AM] Do you often use Notepad to create quick notes to yourself and then save the file on your desktop? This alternative takes advantage of the fact that WordPad can generate and the Desktop can host special OLE objects called scraps. The benefit is that creating scraps is as easy as a quick drag-and-drop operation--and there's no need for all the steps involved in naming and saving the file.
12:26:13 PM    

Accessible Media through Internet Television. [The Latest from Brightcove 3/28/2005; 7:52:04 PM] A couple of days ago Tareef and I met with Larry Goldberg and Brad Botkin from the Media Access Group at WGBH. The Media Access Group has been instrumental over the last 30 years by pushing technology and developing standards...
12:22:50 PM    
 Monday, March 28, 2005
Consuming ASP.NET Web services with ASP. [ 3/28/2005; 6:52:08 PM] If you're still maintaining and developing using standard ASP, you'll have to develop systems that interact with .NET Web services. Find out how the Microsoft SOAP Toolkit 3.0 makes this interaction simple to implement.
7:14:01 PM    

Java on cellphones make a lousy platform for games. [Michael Gartenberg 3/28/2005; 1:53:15 PM] I have never felt that Java was great for developing end user applications. Back in the days of network computing hype, when Java applets were going to put Microsoft out of business (I still have a Java version of Lotus SmartSuite here somewhere) I always pointed out that Java was a good interpreted programming language with a really great PR agency behind it. It's also much slower than native apps. Lately, Java has found a new home in cellphones for doing apps with the same promise of write once, run anywhere. And the same issues are happening again as folks discover that write once run anywhere isn't reality and there's poor performance involved. So it's nice to see John Carmack weigh in on the subject in Cell phone adventures:"The biggest problem is that Java is really slow. On a pure cpu / memory / display / communications level, most modern cell phones should be considerably better gaming platforms than a Game Boy Advanced. With Java, on most phones you are left with about the CPU power of an original 4.77 mhz IBM PC, and lousy control over everything." Don't recognize the name? John created a little game that popular back in the 90's. It was called Doom :)
7:12:40 PM    

Long Tail TV Data. [The Latest from Brightcove 3/28/2005; 1:52:07 PM] Chris Anderson of Long Tail fame has got a great piece today on some of the raw data that supports the notion that television is the most ripe media industry for a Long Tail economic transformation.  We couldn't agree more! ...
7:04:49 PM    

Appropriate Friction. [The Latest from Brightcove 3/28/2005; 1:52:07 PM] In general, friction is an artifact that we try to remove. Friction is a literal drag on mechanical devices. Outside the physical world, businesses focus their efforts on creating frictionless environments. In many ways, the power of the Internet...
7:04:01 PM    

Evolving Lego Mindstorms[Slashdot: 3/28/2005; 11:54:24 AM] With a fairly simple routine, you can model evolution with Lego Mindstorms. In this hackaday experiment, robots were created that could mate, evolve, and become extinct. Similar technology could be used in real applications for deployed robot optimization and automatic software updates. Now that physical robot replication is near, it's only a matter of time before... well... You'd better make robot friends while you can.
12:52:34 PM    

Indigo, Avalon Previews Available to All Comers. [Redmond | The Latest News from 3/28/2005; 11:54:15 AM] Over the weekend, Microsoft posted the "Indigo" and "Avalon" community technology previews for free to anyone with the bandwidth to download them.
12:50:58 PM    

O'Reilly Digital Media: Resurrect Your Old PC for Music -- With Linux[Linux Today 3/28/2005; 3:52:50 AM] This anything-but-Windows article "will show you how to resurrect a tired old PC by installing a modern operating system, and then revitalize the computer as an internet-enabled CD player, DVD burner, and MP3 jukebox..."
12:48:15 PM    

Thomas Hawk Blogs with us on MediaCenter PCs and DVRs. [Michael Gartenberg 3/28/2005; 9:52:49 AM] Thomas Hawk has had a look at our report, "PC and Standalone Digital Video Recorders, Strategies to Cope with an Uncertain Market" and gives us some analysis of his own: How TiVo and Microsoft Ought Best to Fast Forward the DVR Revolution [summary]:
  1. Microsoft needs to shore up the remaining bugs in their Media Center technology.
  2. TiVo should consider adopting a cell phone model and give away TiVos with a service contract.
  3. Both should better push their products through the retail channels.
  4. Both should offer standalone versions of their software: one sold cheaply online and through outlets like Costco and another through a “Geek Squad” type Best Buy partnership.
  5. Both should be forthcoming about an upgrade path to cable and satellite supported HDTV.
  6. Both should promote the unique and value added services offered by their products compared to cable and satellite freebies
In general, Tom thinks we're a little off in our suggestions for increased marketing and I don't totally disagree. Remember though, Tom, you know what a DVR is, marketing to you is a lot different than marketing to an audience that is clueless about the functionality.
12:44:42 PM    

History Flow Shows How Wiki Articles Evolve: [Slashdot: 3/28/2005; 12:53:16 AM] IBM has released a preliminary alpha version of its History Flow Visualization Application that shows how collaboratively created documents evolve. The tool is written in Java and it's available for download along with plugins for MoinMoin and MediaWiki. They have some interesting screenshots of the Wikipedia articles on abortion, Brazil, and love.
12:43:53 PM    

Sifry's Alerts: State of the Blogosphere March 2005, Part 3: The A-List and the Long Tail[The Latest from Brightcove 3/28/2005; 9:52:09 AM] Excellent piece about blogs + The Long Tail. The quiet power of targeted communities represented by blogs will disrupt marketing, advertising and the economics of media. We've come a long way since people wondered if a TV channel about sports...
12:33:38 PM    

Defining the Relations Between Blogs, E-zines, RSS and E-mail. [MarketingStudies.netRSS and e-mail are content delivery channels; the tools that enable us to deliver our content to end-users, and in the case of RSS, to online content aggregators as well. Blogs and e-zines are two different internet media content formats, differing in how/what content is provided and presented through them. Personal preferences towards content delivery channels and internet content media formats have no place in business. What matters is what our customers want and how they want it. [via Lockergnome's RSS & Atom Tips 3/28/2005; 5:53:28 AM]
12:32:12 PM    
 Sunday, March 27, 2005
Services are, and are not... [adamga's WebLog 3/27/2005; 4:52:57 AM] A common technique for systems integration these days is to use some form of message queueing technology... When discussing SOA, people often make the mistake of confusing this type of service-based design with a service oriented architecture. As Don Box puts it, there are four basic tenets of SOA:
 - Services are autonomous
 - Services share schema and contract, not class
 - Boundaries are explicit
 - Service compatibility is determined based on policy
Clearly, a message queueing solution does not meet this criteria... 
12:41:06 PM    
 Saturday, March 26, 2005
SLEEPTRACKER Alarm Watch[via Street Tech 3/26/2005; 2:52:09 PM] Here's a review of a watch that wakes you right at the moment you should get up (based on your actual sleep cycle), in order to avoid feeling sluggish. The manufacturer doesn’t tell you exactly how it "continuously monitors signals from your body that indicate whether you are asleep or awake" or almost awake, but it evidently does a good job of it. One can make an educated guess and infer that it monitors your temperature, or pulse, or even the electrical differential of your skin, or all three, or something else. At any rate, it supposedly tracks your sleep. According to the reviewer, it actually works and left him feeling refreshed on a lot less sleep. The review's comments are worth reading too.
4:24:14 PM    
 Friday, March 25, 2005
siemens_badge.jpgSiemens Develops Com-Badge Home Communicator [Gizmodo 3/18/2005] Siemens has developed a sweet little wearable, Bluetooth-based badge that lets you speak commands to control your house, talk to others in your house and accept and conduct phone calls. For all intents and purposes, lest any of you be confused, this is life imitating art in the finest sense. The system can recognize 30,000 words once you press the button on the badge to activate it. I'd give it no more than 10 years before this sort of technology trickles down into the middle class, but I hope to see it sooner than that. Now, if only the system would give feedback in Majel Roddenberry's voice...
Wearable hub for communications in the home [WMMNA]
Com-Badge [Siemens]
7:00:08 PM    
 Thursday, March 24, 2005
A theory about extreme fear of the GPL[Dan Bricklin's Log 3/24/2005; 5:52:42 PM] I'm putting my material that is legalistic and narrowly related to Open Source and copyright that comes out of my work on my video on the Software Garden Training Video Blog. I'll try to also mention here some of the more general interest stuff I put there. I just posted an observation I made after attending a conference on best practices in standards setting.
7:22:22 PM    

T Rex tissues excavated. [MSNBC (Thanks, Alex!)] [Boing Boing 3/24/2005; 4:53:11 PM] The remains of a T. Rex with intact blood vessels and blood cells have been recovered: 

This particular dinosaur fossil was too big to lift and they reluctantly cracked a thighbone... When they got it into a lab and chemically removed the hard minerals, they found what looked like blood vessels, bone cells and perhaps even blood cells... "The microstructures that look like cells are preserved in every way," added Schweitzer, whose findings were published in the journal Science. Of course, the big question is whether it will be possible to see dinosaur DNA. "We don't know yet. We are doing a lot in the lab now that looks promising."
7:09:26 PM    

43 Folders "Life Hacks" Wiki. [Street Tech 3/24/2005; 2:53:38 PM] The getting things done gurus over at 43 Folder have just put up a Wiki for collecting "life hacks," cool little tips and tricks for making life easier and more manageable. Right now, the hacks are uncategorized -- it's just a dump list -- but they plan on
5:54:56 PM    

Dilbert by Scott Adams - March 24, 2005
Today's Comic

12:37:57 PM    

First Impression: Conference Room Creativity. [Fast Company 3/24/2005; 6:54:55 AM] "The best ideas probably don't occur when everybody is sitting around a table." - Adrian Caddy, Creative Director, Imagination Ltd.
12:06:08 PM    

dialogbox.jpgDo you really want to quit?  [Mind Hacks 3/24/2005; 6:53:50 AM] I have a question about dialog boxes on my computer. At right is a picture of a well-assembled dialog box. UI folks say that dialog box options should be verbs, not nouns, but that's not important here. (ie, you should have options "Don't save" and "Save" for the question "Save this document?" instead of the buttons "OK" and "Cancel.") I'm going to talk about why it's well-assembled, but first:

Mac trivia! While the Mac (actually, the Lisa, but the Lisa informed the Mac) was being designed, the "OK" button did used to be an action: it used to be labeled "Do It." But the space between the two words was too small, and the users read the button label as "dolt" and got kind of offended and wouldn't push it. True fact!

Back to that dialog box...
I'm trying to exit a game called "Magma Zone" and the game is giving me a confirmation dialog. The options are the way round we use in speech, "Yes" then "No." However, the button for "Yes" is on the right of the control pad - which you can see in the bottom half of the picture (I'm holding it up to the screen) - and the button for "No" is on the left. The dialog box, which you see, and the control pad, which you act on, have the buttons in opposing directions...
12:03:28 PM    
 Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Re: Help Design my Team's Logo - Chance to Win VS 2005 Free. [Channel9 Forums: The Coffeehouse 3/23/2005; 12:51:23 PM] Since most of the designs are being posted here I thought I would share some others that have been mailed to me. 

From Eric.  Who claims, "Dammit, Jim, I'm a developer, not a graphic designer!"
7:50:59 PM    

radio_vexkit.jpgRadio Shack Vex Robotics Design System. [PCMag via MakeBlog][Gizmodo 3/23/2005; 10:52:04 AM] It looks like an interesting system, and relatively cheap at $300! Even better, it's designed to emulate the parts given to kids in the FIRST robot competitions, which means that for just $300 (I know, but that's still cheaper than before) a high school can get the parts they need to compete. Thank you, Radio Shack, for doing something Radio Shacky. Radio Shack Rolls Out New Robotics Kits
11:47:23 AM    

snakebot_umich.jpgOmniTread Snakebot. [Gizmodo 3/23/2005; 9:53:43 AM] A U-Mich team has developed the 'OmniTread' snake-like robot, which moves in a variety of ways to get over obstacles (and impress the ladies). Weighing in at 26 pounds and controlled by a human operator, the OmniTread can roll like a log, lift its 'head' a segment at a time, or slink forward like a snake crossed with a tank. What that means to the casual robot observer is a snake-like robot that can not only squeeze through tight gaps, but can also clear curbs up to 18-inches tall. A Snake-Shaped Serpentine Robot for Rugged Terrain [Primidi]
11:42:45 AM    

First Impression: Eliciting Edification. [Fast Company 3/23/2005; 6:54:23 AM] "My definition of failure is 'not learning.'" -Patrick Lin, Managing Director, E*Offering
11:38:50 AM    

Exclude certain directories from roaming profiles in Windows NT. [TechRepublic 3/23/2005; 3:52:16 AM] While roaming profiles ensure that users can access their personal settings from multiple machines, they can easily grow in size, resulting in sluggish logons. Learn two ways you can control the size of roaming profiles in Windows NT.
11:36:37 AM    
 Tuesday, March 22, 2005
The Toronto Globe and Mail supports RSS 2.0. [Scripting News 3/22/2005; 8:54:35 AM]
11:33:44 AM