Thursday, December 28, 2006

Looking Glas UI released for Windows and Linux

Alistair's Utilities - The Good and the Free

Fantastic News - Looking Glass Desktop released for Linux and Windows!
I've been waiting for this news since the first concept release. Linux desktops now come of age. The Ubuntu system has a version dedicated.

Sun's Looking Glass 3D Desktop Released - News and Analysis by PC Magazine

Looking Glass, which was first shown off in 2003 and released as an open-source project in 2004, allows users to run a Java-based desktop environment on top of Windows, or on Linux or Solaris. The software allows certain applications to be run in a "2.5D" environment, allowing them to be rotated in 3D space to maximize the available desktop space.

The interface also includes a launch bar along the bottom middle of the screen, similar in appearance to the Apple OS X's Dock.

According to the developers, Looking Glass includes several interesting features not included in either the Apple or Windows OSes: the ability to "fly" left or right to a new virtual desktop, or to use the "back" of a virtual window. Windows can also be organized on their "side," allowing a "bookshelf" view of the available windows.

Looking Glass Interface -- Shared Workspace View

Users can download the new Looking Glass interface from Sun's Web site.

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Kanguru 32GB Flash Max Drive KFDM-32G at

Another gadget has snuck into the blog. 32 Gigabytes on a normal-looking thumb drive! Gadzooks!

Kanguru 32GB Flash Max Drive KFDM-32G at "Kanguru 32GB Flash Max Drive
The Kanguru Flash Max is a high strength, high capacity USB2.0 flash drive that stores up to 32GB! The Kanguru Flash Max sports a rugged aluminum exterior housing that provides durability and ultimately extends the life of the drive. Operates on Windows, Mac and Linux, most without any device drivers.

The Kanguru Flash Drive Max comes complete with KanguruShield security software, allowing Windows users the option of password protection for secure data. The KanguruShield software allows users to resize and format the flash drive space into public and/or private partitions. Setting up the KanguruShield security software is easy and user friendly!"

Thursday, October 26, 2006

furniture plus computers plus cables plus a sane family? Yes, almost

Built for the High-Tech Household -
Finally, a piece of furniture that reflects how we really live. Imagine a cabinet/desk/console that recharges multiple cellphones, docks iPods and provides Internet access and data ports for laptops.

From Clipart Blog ...

Sligh's new multitasker ($2,945).

This multitasking design is so new, it doesn't even have a name. But it's being touted as a command center for families and households because it organizes the overload of high-tech domestic gadgets and entertainment components piling up in America's kitchens and front hallways.

In a period of weak sales for most home furnishings, manufacturers introducing lifestyle solutions for 21st-century living were the ones that drew attention at last week's High Point Market, the twice-yearly design powwow that attracts industry executives, retailers and journalists from around the world. Store buyers crowded around the new designs as though they were concept cars at an auto show for one reason: They're useful.

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Oracle grabs a stack

Oracle support for Red Hat Linux is the news of the day.  Enterprise support at a reasonable price for the Linux stack gives Oracle more control over the platform, customers more security, and raises the question why Oracle support for their own product can't be as cheap. ZDNet has a feature on the issues.

» Ellison offers full support service for Red Hat Linux at half the price | Between the Lines |
He listed key issues that are slowing the adoption of Linux and Oracle database grids running on Linux. Most glaring is true enterprise support, which is unavailable from Linux vendors. Bugs are not necessarily fixed in the versions companies are running, but fixed in future versions, Ellison said. To get the fix you have to upgrade, which Ellison said isn't acceptable to Oracle's large customers. In addition, Ellison cited expensive support from leading Linux vendor ($1499 per year for a 2 processor server, he said) and concerns about intellectual property indemnification.

As of this moment Ellison announced full support for Red Hat Linux. "If you are a Red Hat Linux support customer, you now have a choice. You can easily switch from Red Hat to Oracle support, and we will back port your bug fixes, indemnify you from intellectual property problems, and charge way less than half what Red Hat charges," Ellison said.

"We are not trying to differentiate ourselves from the Red Hat code. We will synchronize our system with Red Hat releases," Ellison added. "We are not trying to fragment the Linux market."

Oracle is taking Red Hat code, taking out trademarked material, putting in bug fixes and compiling it for customers for whatever version they have. Oracle created an Unbreakable Linux Network and customers can receive software updates incrementally. Red Hat customers don't need to remove anything from their servers if they bind to the Oracle Linux Network, which takes about 90 seconds.

The benefits of Red Hat open source code has spawned a serious competitor to its business.

The goal is to enhance and speed the adoption of Linux and make it mission critical in the datacenter.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

55 Million Blogs, and Now a Service to Track Them - New York Times

55 Million Blogs, and Now a Service to Track Them - New York Times:
A new business model - using tools like technorati to track client's profile. NYTimes required free registration to go to article (NYTimes is worth it anyway - and they don't pay me for this).

"“A year ago, brands were saying, ‘Oh no, not the blogosphere,’ ” said Peter Hirshberg, chief executive of Technorati, a blog-tracking service that last week, in partnership with Edelman, provided results of a global survey of blog use. “Now they’re saying, ‘Great, this is an opportunity.’ ”

Now the Edelman public relations firm is sponsoring development of new Technorati sites in French, German, Italian, Korean and Chinese, involving an investment of “several hundred thousand dollars.” Several of those services, which supplement Technorati’s existing English-language and Japanese sites, began operating in beta (a kind of live test) this month. Until February, they will be available exclusively to Edelman and its clients. After that, the information they generate is to be opened to the public.

“It’s a way of determining in very short order who’s talking positively about you and who’s talking negatively,” said Richard Edelman, chief executive of the public relations firm.

Monitoring blogs can be a huge logistical challenge. There are more than 55 million of them around the world, according to Technorati, and the total is growing by thousands every week.

Some large corporations have employed specialists like Brandimensions and Nielsen BuzzMetrics to track online chatter about their products and services. And some ad agencies are moving to incorporate such services into their own offerings. Edelman already monitors scores of blogs devoted to following individual clients of the firm, like Wal-Mart Stores."

Idiosyncratic and Personal, PC Edges TV - New York Times

Idiosyncratic and Personal, PC Edges TV - New York Times:

At the time of posting, this required free personal registration and logon with the NYTimes. It's an intersting anecdotal introduction to the changes in our behaviours that have made youtube an investment. My own Institute is putting educational videos up on youtube as a combination public service and awareness exercise. It is clear that others are doing the same.

"Idiosyncratic and Personal, PC Edges TV
Published: October 16, 2006

Last Wednesday, I was working late but left the office in time to watch the second episode of ABC’s “Lost.” But when I got home and booted the computer to check messages before hitting the couch, I happened to notice one of my twin daughters at a far-flung Big 10 campus was live on Yahoo! Messenger.

I clicked on “View my Webcam,” as did Erin, a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, and suddenly I had the chance to inspect the disturbingly large ring she recently had implanted in her lip. Live video may seem straight out of the Jetsons, but I have the computing skills of Fred Flintstone. Still, between my PC and my daughter’s Mac, we managed to get a serviceable video chat going, assisted by speakerphones on cells.

My 9-year-old wandered over and, once she saw a live image of her now distant sister, acted as if I had invented electricity. We made Erin drag her new friend Sam into the picture so we could give him the once over. “He’s kind of cute,” my wife whispered sotto voce as she craned over my shoulder. (I’m reserving judgment until I can menace him in person.) Then we pinged Meagan, Erin’s twin sister up the road at University of Michigan. As soon as she accepted my invitation to view the Webcam, she exclaimed, “You’re here!”

One thing led to another and we ended up watching the strangely compelling treadmill dance from the music group OK Go on YouTube, which clicked through to a parody, which led to, well, you get the idea. It was “television” with an audience that could be counted on a single hand but compelling enough that “Lost,” my one piece of appointment viewing for the night, was quickly forgotten. Madonna might be scheduled to mud-wrestle Britney Spears on premium cable and I’d"

Paris Motor Show: Venturi AstroLab electro-solar hybrid - AutoblogGreen

I'm not sure that this item has a proper place in my blog, but an electric car that recharges from mains and photovoltaic cells is pretty exciting. Shame the price is over $100k. Even at today's prices that's a lot of fuel, although also a lot of Carbon.

Paris Motor Show: Venturi AstroLab electro-solar hybrid - AutoblogGreen: "Venturi claims it is the first electro-solar hybrid vehicle. It can charge its batteries either from the sun via the flat upper surface covered with photo-voltaic cells or by plugging it into an outlet. Questionable aesthetics aside this is a technologically-interesting vehicle. The manufacturer claims that even the carbon dioxide emissions produced by the production process will be offset by other environmental actions, hence the label 'The CarbonNeutral Company'."

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Volume Activation 2.0: Another Potential Vista Gotcha? | All about Microsoft |

As if the security concerns weren't enough for corporates! now we hear this:

» Volume Activation 2.0: Another Potential Vista Gotcha? | All about Microsoft | "For those who’ve yet to hear about it, Volume Activation is a new digital-license activation technology aimed at businesses. It’s part of the larger “Software Protection Platform” that Microsoft is constructing to combat piracy.

In short, Microsoft is not going to allow enterprises to operate on an honor system, when it comes to proving how many copies of Windows they’ve paid to license. Just like it does with individual Windows users, Microsoft is going to start requiring companies to authenticate their new versions of Windows within 30 days of installing.

Microsoft is planning to incorporate Volume Activation 2.0 into Windows Vista Enteprise, Windows Vista Business and Longhorn Server. Microsoft is not planning to bake Volume Activation into Vista Ultimate – even though some customers will be using that product in a business setting."

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Note from School - Reason for absence

I've been very quiet for several weeks. A number of reasons including personal - but one has been the implementation of a new medical education community site deployed across mutiple jurisdictions: Commonwealth, State, Regional and Local Government with Stakeholders including the aforementioned Government organisations, Professional colleges, Universities, Medical Practitioner Organisations, Employers, Students, and participants all in the mix. Here is an introductory video on the system, so I hope it will help you to excuse me for going silent for a while.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

performance tests on php, perl and cgi

Keith Winston reports on a test he conducted comparing the three typical open source tools. I expected php to perform well because it supports some pretty high performance sites in real life. The full report is linked, but the essentials are clipped here.

NewsForge | LAMP vs. LAMP
That said, the results of these tests show that for many common Web programming tasks, PHP (mod_php) has a slight performance edge over Perl (mod_perl), based on the majority of the HTML generation tests. In the MySQL test, PHP also edged out Perl. I suspect the MySQL results are a reflection of the database drivers more than the interpreters.

Both mod_perl and mod_php have an enormous performance advantage over standard CGI, as expected. Standard CGI not only doesn't scale very well, but gains no advantage from concurrency. Under load, it could bring a server to its knees quickly.

Monday, July 31, 2006

A Simple solution for Vista upgrade and WGA woes

I've Just read 2 articles. The first describes the "upgrade matrix" for Vista options. One of my machines runs XP Pro 64. The only option there is a clean install. That was quite a surprise! A clean install and re-install of main software takes 1.5 to 2 chargeable person days. It really is quite expensive and a last resort action.

My Tablet will only go to Vista Business or Enterprise, and the M$ pricing history for Business software has always been pretty aggressive. The other XP Pro machines also can only go to Business or Enterprise. I want to keep one environment M$ to ensure client compatibility, so that will mean one machine with Vista Business and the new Office. That won't be cheap, and therefore I really do not want to buy any more copies than I have to. I'm identifying the Windows software that I just "can't" do without and moving it to one of two machines - a laptop for mobile work, and a desktop/server for static development.

Every utility I use is re-evaluated - is it multi-platform? If not, is there a multi-platform alternative? Although functionality, not price, is the main requirement, the answer is usually in the open source arena. This is a trend that will impact software suppliers. The assumption that customers will automatically move to Vista has a questionmark over it. I've been using Open Office as my main work platform for some time to ease the transition and test for compatibility issues. I'm ready for Vista conversion and the following linked article just confirms my "Vista upgrade" strategy.

WGA and Activation Failures Don’t Faze Redmond at American McGee’s Blog
A few days ago Windows XP on my primary work computer decided that it wasn’t a legal copy. Strange since the copy running on there was pre-installed at the time that the machine was built by Alienware. There used to be a Windows serial number on the back of the machine, but the sticker has since fallen off. What’s worse, as soon as I started receiving the dreaded, “You may be a victim of software piracy…” notices, I also started noticing increased system instability. All of this culminated in what I can only assume was some form of malware infection, a hardware crash (related to my soundcard), and a pretty complete system failure.

I was angry for a moment, but then I realized: I don’t much like Windows anyway. So I wiped the offending garbage from my machine and installed Ubuntu Linux. All in all a painless process.

The truth is, Ubuntu “out of the box” is a little lacking (can’t play proprietary video formats, run PC apps, is missing much needed apps, etc), but with the use of an installer script called Automatix, I now have a free, highly functional, and stable OS. And it’s pretty to boot.

Matthew Newton from PC World has an article on installing and using Automatix at

Free Agent: Ubuntu's Missing Batteries Automatix makes supercharging Ubuntu Linux as easy as point and click.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Apple doubles laptop market share in a quarter

I don't want to keep blogging about Apple - I haven't owned one since Apple II (and it was a Medfly - a clone, actually) but changes in trend - inflexion points - are always interesting - and I think we are seeing such a change right now.

TMO Reports - Apple Laptops take 12 Percent of the Market || The Mac Observer
The MacBook and MacBook Pro are selling well enough to push Apple's take of the U.S. portable computer market in June up to 12 percent. During Apple's second quarter earnings report, the company noted that its laptop marketshare was at 6 percent in January.

Mac and Open Source

Mac support for multiple OS's is starting to generate some serious "wind beneath its wings". Reports are starting to trickle in on the iPod generation going straight to Apple for the college computer. Odd things are happening as the changes ripple through with early adopters giving way to more mainstream users using Macs for Mac and Linux.

O'Reilly Network -- How Does Open Source Software Stack Up on the Mac?
Recently on the O'Reilly Radar, it was noted that several well-known Mac folks are switching to Ubuntu Linux. One of them, Mark Pilgrim, directly juxtaposed several of Apple's stock apps to open source software (OSS) alternatives on his blog, and this got me pondering how well Apple's stock apps really stand up to some of the alternatives out there--especially from the OSS community. For that matter, how many high quality OSS alternatives are there for Mac users?

It turns out that OSS is doing amazingly well for the most part. As might be expected, there are still some gaping holes to be filled, but in many others, Apple would do well to start taking notes. I'm going to take a brief look at the landscape for some of the most common stock apps and assign each of those application categories some health grades. The more high-quality alternatives to Apple's stock apps there are, the higher we'll grade the category's health, and vice versa.

The Technology is just the Tool (Repeat)

Successful human facing systems are all about people issues, and not primarily the technology. Obviously there is the discipline of getting the technology to work underneath the covers, but that will benefit none, if the human aspects and the business issues are ignored or poorly handled.

Tonio Loewald's Blog
One of the best stories I've heard about Apple's history concerns Ellen Hancock, whom Gil Amelio brought into Apple as Chief Technology Officer. Her role is pretty much overlooked these days, but she is responsible for pulling the plug on Copland, looking for a viable replacement, and -- ultimately -- acquiring NeXT, Steve Jobs, and Avie Tevanian (her successor).

Anyway, back to the story which I am reciting from memory. Ellen Hancock comes in to work and she is the most senior woman -- ever -- at Apple, surrounded by a lot of cocksure guys. She holds a meeting with her key reports and during the meeting utters the following statement. "One of the things that's always puzzled me about Macs is why when I have a Windows .exe file on my desktop and I double-click it, it doesn't just work." The reaction is one of utter consternation. How could anyone working at Apple, let alone its new Chief Techology Officer, be so utterly clueless. And then it starts to dawn on them:

1) She has a PhD in Maths.

2) She has done serious shit at IBM.

3) She's right.

Not long after this, Virtual PC added a feature which actually allowed .exe files to "just work" if you double-clicked them.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

DMCA and Copyright affects Design Decisions

I've just been asked for a design recommendation. The problem: with an education/repository product a user can link to an external image. If the site is a secure site, and the image comes from a normal unsecured site, then IE will present a message warning that secured and unsecured items are mixed. Users can select this message so that it doesn't repeat. So far, one would think there is no problem - all the software (even IE) works as designed.

However, the client feels that this is not user friendly and wants to ensure that the message does not appear. While I am sympathetic, complaining about the way IE works is a little like complaining about the weather - we may be sympathetic, but doing anything about it involves building expensive structures.

One option considered, and quickly dismissed, was to hobble the editor so that images from non-secure sites could not be displayed. This is not acceptable for an educational community where resources may be found anywhere.

The major alternative was to set the editor up to copy the image automatically from the originating site onto the educational site so it is published from a secure server. I didn't like this option either, but the clarity of definition only fell into place when I watched Episode 17 of cranky geeks. Professor Larry Lessig, Stanford Law School, discussed the legality of external links to images versus taking a copy of the image.

The summary is that, (in the absence of explicit permission) while the law may be murky about the legality of linking to an image on another site even with attribution, taking a copy and putting it on your own site without permission is clearly on the wrong side of the law. Therefore, setting up an editor to automatically copy an image from any target site (therefore bypassing checks for permission) will create sites that will almost certainly infringe the rights of others. The user of such a system, and possibly the developers, will have difficulty framing a defence.

The unconsidered option is education. If users must belong to a secure server, they need to understand the reasons, and the likely occurences. The oldest rule of software design is to use software as it is designed, and not to artificially constrain it, when a litte user education may be a lot less complex.

Why do Cars have brakes? Why do Systems have Security?

Sun published this interview with a challenging take on Identity Management and Security - opening up the system!

EDGE - Identity Management - An Interview with Sara Gates
A contrarian view on cars, brakes and Identity Management - An interview with Sara Gates

Named as one of the top three most important people in the identity space by Eric Norlin of Digital ID World, Sun's Vice President of Identity Management, Sara Gates recently spoke with Laurie Wong, Sun's Software Product Manager about how organisations can drive business value through Identity Management.

Q. During your last visit to Australia, your keynote was a stand-out success. Everyone that attended still recalls your question, "Why do cars have brakes?" as well as your contrarian, not so obvious, answer. So can you tell us why cars have brakes and what this has to do with identity management?

A. Absolutely, and let me start by saying I look forward to visiting Australia again very soon. So I posed the question, 'Why do cars have brakes?'. Well cars have brakes so they can go fast!

There are some fundamental changes happening in our industry. Security is now about opening up businesses. In the past security was all about closing the business down, locking it up. Increasingly security is what will let us open things up and do it in a way that's good for customers and good for the business with an appropriate level of risk.

Cars have brakes so that they can go fast, and Identity Management is, we believe, the brakes on the car of the network that will let you go fast.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Bringing Systems Management to Smaller Clients through Open Source

Start-ups team to push open-source boundaries | CNET
The Open Management Consortium, founded in May, is a grouping of small companies seeking to bring open-source business models to systems management, an area dominated by larger companies.
High Impact
What's new:

A consortium of small vendors have attracted entrenched enterprise systems management vendors which are expected to join the open-source standardization effort.
Bottom line:

The creation of the consortium highlights how open-source business models are starting to influence the stodgy world of enterprise systems management.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

great web design tool - test in big range of browsers

now this is one of those ideas you see and think ...

Test your web design in different browsers - Browsershots
Browsershots is a free online platform where you can test your web design in different browsers. When you submit your web address, it will be added to the job queue. A number of distributed computers will automatically open your website in their browser. Then they will make screenshots and upload them to the central server

Is the Semantic Web the end of Google

This is a thought provoking article that deserves more of a response. The Institute of Government Business is supporting some open source projects like Metanode that are implementing semantic web concepts like the health and aging thesaurus in a health educational community. The seeds are there ...

Evolving Trends » Wikipedia 3.0: The End of Google?
The Semantic Web (or Web 3.0) promises to “organize the world’s information” in a dramatically more logical way than Google can ever achieve with their current engine design. This is specially true from the point of view of machine comprehension as opposed to human comprehension.The Semantic Web requires the use of a declarative ontological language like OWL to produce domain-specific ontologies that machines can use to reason about information and make new conclusions, not simply match keywords.

one design gallery feed to rule them all!

CSS Galleries: aggregating web design inspiration
CSS and web design galleries are great. But there are so damn many of them. Wouldn't it be nice to have one site to visit, and one feed to subscribe to. CSS Galleries makes your life easier by aggregating the major design showcases into one simple RSS feed.

Web Designers - you have to change your defaults now - most used resolution changes - About Us - Press Box
Amsterdam - June 25 - ( ), the number one provider of real-time intelligence web analytics, today reported that the screen resolution 800 x 600 pixels has signficantly decreased since July 2005. More and more internet users choose for screen resolution 1024 x 768 or higher.

The finding has important implications for web site designers because most web sites are designed for a screen resolution of 800 x 600 pixels.

The screen resolution 1024 x 768 has reached an all time high of 56.15 percent. Users with monitors set to the most common resolution 800 x 600 for web sites have an approximate 12.04 percent global usage share. Almost a year ago this percentage was 18.23 percent.

Colour for web sites - short sharp quality article

Blue Anvil Design :: Website & Logo Design ::
This article explains the use of colour, what colours signify, and how to find colours that fit with each other in your web pages.

In the web design world, one of the main mistakes made by designers is the incorrect usage of colours. Bad colour schemes can make your site look unfriendly, amateurish, and inaccessible.

This article will identify common mistakes with selecting colours, how to create good colour schemes, and accessibility issues that arise from colours.

Swapping to Ubuntu - another useful experience

The Linux movement is strong throughout Asia and Eastern Europe. This article suggests that Ubuntu is pretty easy to substitute for most users, but the author cae across enough problems to recognise that there is still a need for advice.

Philippine News -- Manila Standard Today -- Life without Windows -- june27_2006
For Windows users, downloading and installing new software on Linux can be rather daunting. Where’s the .EXE file? What do you do with the downloaded file (called a package, in Linux)? What file do you run? Fortunately, Ubuntu takes care of most of these problems for you. A program called Synaptic Package Manager takes care of finding new programs and installing them for you. These are sorted by program types, but the sheer number may be overwhelming. When I ran Synaptic Package Manager, it happily reported that there were more than 18,808 programs available, only 1,221 of which I had installed.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Make Ubuntu look like Mac OSX

The free environment just gets better and better - this site was "dugg"

Lauri Taimila's website
I have noticed that many people try to imitate Mac OSX Tiger's look with their current operating system. No matter is it Windows or Linux. I'm one of those people and this is my atteption to make Ubuntu Linux look like OSX Tiger.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Exciting new Open Source tool to run Windows apps on Mac and Linux

Exciting new Open Source tool to convert MS programs. The executable can then be distributed. How many ways to run Windows on Mac does that make? - bringing Microsoft Windows programs to Linux and Mac!
Alky (pronounced "AL-KEE") is a tool that allows you to convert a Windows executable to a Mac OS X or Linux binary. We are focused on high-end gaming at the moment, though we will support other applications in the future. Our binary translation layer is already working fully for OS X and Linux support is in progress. Of course, Windows applications use a very different set of libraries from Linux or OS X applications so we are also working on a library called LibAlky that will provide those Windows libraries to the application.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Creating Creativity in Youth with digital tech

Arts and Crafts for the Digital Age - New York Times
At first blush, the PicoCricket Kit resembles a plastic box of arts and crafts supplies, crammed with colored felt, pipe cleaners, cotton and Styrofoam balls.

Singing to her Pico-Cricket Kit creation allows Hana Machover,12, to influence its behavior.

Mitchel Resnick sought to encourage artistic uses for the robotics kit.

But this is a craft kit for the digital age. It includes electronic sensors, motors, sound boxes, connecting cables and a palm-size, battery-powered, programmable computer.

By combining the traditional materials with high-tech ones, children as young as 9 can invent interactive jewelry, fanciful creatures that dance, musical sculptures and more, said Mitchel Resnick, a professor of learning research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab.

one of the best introductions to Linux desktop I've seen

I just had to post this - it represents one of the new stream of articles about how easy linux is becoming to install and use - with still a set of things you need to know: Basic Things to Know When Switching to a Linux Desktop
I am an advocate of Open Source, and try to promote Linux to friends, colleagues, and sometimes to total strangers. But even though Linux has made its way to the mainstream and wouldn't make an intermediate computer user sweat, there are always bumps on the road. New users get stuck on their new Linux machines trying to figure out what went wrong, or as a better way to say it.. what they didn't know. From different questions that I get from new users, I have come up to a collection of the basic things that a new Linux user must know.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Create a Firefox extension » How to create Firefox extensions
Everyone has a good idea at one time or another to implement a new feature in a web browser. Well, with the goodness that is Mozilla Firefox, now you can do just that. You need to have a vague understanding of XUL and Javascript, but you certainly don’t need to be a master of either.

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Use your computer to fight cancer

Gearlog : Find a Cure for AIDS and Cancer By Donating Computer Time
It isn't every day that we are presented with a chance to save lives, just from using our computers.

David Baker, 43, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Washington, has been trying for years to find an AIDS vaccine or a cure for cancer. However, he hasn't had the funds nor the right kind of computer needed for his research.

Ultimately, the only way for him to conduct his research was to turn to strangers and their computers through networks. His research team uses the computing power from "tens of thousands of PCs whose owners are donating spare computer time to chop away at scientific problems over the Internet." The project is called Rosetta@home, and more than 60,000 people have donated their computer power to aid Baker and his team.

How it works: "The project sends work to computers that have installed the necessary free software. When the machine is idle, it figures out how an individual protein — a building block of life — might fold or contort, displaying the possibilities in a screen saver. When the PC is done crunching, it sends the results back to Baker's team and grabs more work."

If you'd like to help with the project, visit to learn about system requirements and how to download and install BOINC—a free, open-source software for distributed computing.

[Quotes from USAToday]

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ubuntu Linux to have single command LAMP setup

For those of us who have struggled with getting all the "bits" to work together in a setup, the news of a certified LAMP release will really make site setup easy. This has proved to be a particular problem for me in Windows - WAMP has had all sotrs of hiccups.

news/lamp - Ubuntu Linux
The Server Edition of the June 1st 2006 release of Ubuntu will include a mechanism to set up a standardised, certified and supported LAMP server with a single command. The feature reduces the setup time for companies providing hosted LAMP services as well as making it easier for organisations to set up and maintain their own LAMP standardised servers.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Test smarter - less is more

Leading with a quick demonstration that it is not possible to test some systems (at least in a realistic timeframe), this is a controversial discussion of what should be tested, and when testing might not even be attempted! Hmm.

Test Smarter, Not Harder by Scott Sehlhorst - developer.*, Developer Dot Star

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Make your site valuable - make money, achieve or get visited

Web 2.0 is a great marketing label. What does it mean? This debate reminds me of a Pharmacist friend of mine. He would always buy a particular line of expensive perfume for his Chemist shop, because he noticed that it was a good mover... until he put in a new accounting system that showed that it went all right, but no-one ever paid for it. Visitors are not automatically the clients you want. They may not be making you money, or helping you achieve your business outcomes.

The Myth, Reality & Future of Web 2.0 ( is a broadband weblog edited by Om Malik, senior writer at Business 2.0 magazine... ) discusses the discrepancy in views between the group that want the first lot of visitors (presumably so they can sell the website for a bucketload of money), and those with a real business model that focus on scalability, monetizing model, competitive strategy and those other things that are the real factors that determine the success of a facility.

Nick Wilson from Performancing (my new favourite read) spells out exactly how to strategise a launch of a web site using web 2.0 in Using the Web2.0 Bandwagon to Jumpstart a Real Business

There's no doubt that dumb as we may find some of the web2.0 "oooh, i made a website!" silliness out there, if you pitch it right, and get a kick start from blogs like TC and others where the blog/web2.0 crowd is dense (pun not entirely unintended) you can get an awful lot of link love. And I'm thinking that if you're smart, and build your site with Search in mind, you may just be able to jump the "tech gap" (the gap between your first 25k users and real users.)

Real users .. hmmm. I'm finishing a business strategy web site document for a client this weekend (as you can tell because I just HAD to do a blog post instead) that is having to address this very issue - creating a collegiate community with a membership that achieves the business outcomes - almost to the point of excluding the public. These two papers have affected that thinking (well, that's my excuse anyway).

e-Business strategy example - the impressive

Are you interested in looking at generating some income from your blog?

Worlds Largest Community of Professional Bloggers |

Nick Wilson - one of the founders of performancing outlined their thinking:

"The original idea for Performancing was to build an ad network. Not another Adsense clone, and not another text link ads clone (my partner Patrick already runs the largest company in that market), but something we felt bloggers would really like, and that stood an excellent chance of success. Somewhere during the planning out of that network came the idea that it might be better, if we involved the blogging community in what we were planning more. After all, if we really want you guys to like what we do, who better to help plan it? Of course you can't do that unless you have some folks to talk to about it, so we figured we would do the sensible thing, and start blogging on subjects related to advertising, making money, writing compelling copy and all other aspects of what we would consider "professional blogging". By building up a community of like minded bloggers, bloggers like ourselves, that were interested in making money from their blogs, we would eventually have a great bunch of people to bounce ideas off of, and help us shape the money making end of this business. I hope that makes sense. My point is, that we think YOU are the best people to decide what you want from an ad network, not us. So, we started posting, and unsurprisingly, found some great folks that were willing to share their experiences and skills with the community to the benefit of us all. (dont think for a moment that I, Chris or anyone else here knows all there is to know about blogging, that just isnt possible heh..). Then along came Performancing Firefox Whilst dreaming up ways to get our site noticed, I came up with this small idea to build a neat firefox extension. A little harmless "linkbait" to help get a new blog off the ground, and noticed by some of the big kids. That extension has become a monster! To this date, its the most fun thing I've worked on, and has gone a long way to prove my belief that involving the community in the production of tools and services for the community is a strong idea."

Is LINUX ready for desktop users?

That is certainly the contention of this author who installed ubuntu linux for a grandmother. - Ubuntu for your grandmother.
Yes my friends, I kid you not, for all of those who are afraid to dip their little toe into the great Linux-Lake let us reassure you : If your grandmother can do it ? So can you. Before we start , let me clarify : We are not talking about turning your Linux machine into a clustered database server with SQL, PHP, Apache, Samba and what have you. We are talking about the advantages of using Linux .. as a desktop.

The new Apple Pro Site is a must visit - whatever your design tools

The Apple Pro website is a "must visit" for design professionals, no matter what tools we use. One design area that has really caught my eye is the discussion of colour in design by Jody Turner.

Apple - Pro - Insights and Ideas / Color - Jody Turner: Cultural Emotions, Creative Engagement
"Studio Culture of Future Jody’s history spans 25 years in design, including Nike Trend and Starbucks Store Concepts. As current CEO of L.A. based Culture of Future, Jody explores current market concerns, linking them with consumer evolutions and insights."

Although that description sounds full of jargon and remote from practical use, the pages are really excellent examples of applying colour to design and why the choice was made.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Website (and business) design example

Read this article with netflix open in the next tab of your browser ..

Netflix - Keeps It Reel
Since Netflix does all of its business via its website, it realizes the importance of constructing a clear and concise site to match its brand. And there is a good case to be made that has no current equal.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Technorati Description of Blog Statistics

For an interesting summary of changes in blogger behaviour, languages and trends, this is a really good, succinct read: - FRONT PAGE - Sifry's Salient Points
David Sifry, the charming CEO of Technorati, has some interesting things to say on the current state of the blogosphere -

"Late last month, I gave a high-level overview of the growth of the blogosphere, covering the overall size of the data sets that Technorati tracks, the number of new blogs created each day, the number of posts per day, and the issue of splogs or spam blogs.

To recap, here's the highlights of Part 1:

Technorati now tracks over 37.3 Million blogs
The blogosphere is doubling in size every 6 months
It is now over 60 times bigger than it was 3 years ago
On average, a new weblog is created every second of every day
19.4 million bloggers (55%) are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created
Technorati tracks about 1.2 Million new blog posts each day, about 50,000 per hour

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Salon - The Impact of Open Access on Public Health

Open versus pay models - interesting life and death discussion from "the way the world works". (May need to watch an ad for Salon content if not registered).

But imagine if life or death did ride on getting the full text of a document, instead of, say, just the abstract? In an editorial in the most recent Bulletin of the World Health Organization, "The Impact of Open Access on Public Health," we are presented with just such an anecdote.

"Arthur Amman, President of Global Strategies for HIV Prevention tells the following story: 'I recently met a physician from southern Africa, engaged in perinatal HIV prevention, whose primary access to information was abstracts posted on the Internet. Based on a single abstract, they had altered their perinatal HIV prevention program from an effective therapy to one with lesser efficacy. Had they read the full text article they would have undoubtedly realized that the study results were based on short-term follow-up, a small pivotal group, incomplete data, and were unlikely to be applicable to their country situation. Their decision to alter treatment based solely on the abstract's conclusions may have resulted in increased perinatal HIV transmision.'"

The reporter in me would like a little more specificity in this anecdote -- some names that could be fact-checked, for example. It sounds almost too good to be true, as if custom-designed for the purposes of the four authors of the article --- who are all employed by the Public Library of Science, a pioneer in publishing peer-reviewed open-access academic papers. But even as a hypothetical, the story would still illustrate a crucial point. When you inject the topic of public health into the domain of intellectual property you immediately fling yourself into an arena where ethical responsibilities and economic interests clash.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Impact Lab - China's Latest Shopping Craze: 'Team Buying'

New trend in China use of web combines flash mobs and aggregated buying power to negotiate bargains on retail floor. Could work in big population centres, but maybe also for primary producers - bulk tree stock, sprays, fodder... hmm...

Impact Lab - China's Latest Shopping Craze: 'Team Buying': "Last month, Fiona Li did what millions of Chinese shoppers do to find a bargain: she went online. A few clicks later, she had a lead on where to buy the consumer goodies her brother wanted for his new apartment. Instead of reaching for her credit card, though, she jotted down a time and a place: 8 p.m. at a downtown electronics store.
That evening, Ms. Li and her brother joined 15 strangers at the store to demand a group discount on a new television, refrigerator, and washing machine. Salespeople grumbled at the tactic, but the group refused to buckle. After two hours of haggling, and several walkouts by group members, the store manager agreed to a 10 percent markdown on the three items.

Li, a marketing assistant, went home with a smile on her face. 'We wanted to save money, and finally we did it,' she says. 'It's in our nature, whether we're rich or poor, and if we can save money this way, why not?'

Welcome to China's newest shopping craze, tuangou, or team buying. By combining the power of the Internet to compare prices with the stealth tactics of the flash mob, team buyers are driving hard bargains in the world's hottest economy. Dozens of team-buying websites have sprung up to catch the trend, which first began in online forums and chat rooms.

Typically, shoppers looking for the same items find each other online, then band together offline to negotiate special deals on electronics, home furnishings, and automobiles. Some team buyers approach store managers beforehand, others simply show up and flex their collective muscle."

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Cultural Flexibility and Information Management - How the World Works -

Successful strategies in Information Management Technology are key to organisations and Countries. Developing supporting cultural attitudes within an organisation or Country is an important step. Korea with its 75% penetration of broadband will be a fascinating experiment. This Salon article (may need to view an ad) discusses one aspect of developing the support culture.

How the World Works - "Finns and Brazilians alike flourish in the interstices of the Internet. Both see great value in the hacker ethic, the sharing of information.

This is not merely about the prevalence of Brazilians on social networks like Orkut, or Finnish expertise at cryptography. Nor is it the odd historical fact that Finland is the birthplace of the free software operating system Linux and Brazil's government is one of free software's biggest international supporters. It goes deeper: One can make an argument that both countries are at home in the realm of digital culture for unique historical and cultural reasons. The reasons are different -- grounded in utterly dissimilar material circumstances -- but the results are fascinating, predisposing two nations that could not be less alike to swim like one school of fish in the information technology seas.

Finland, the home of Nokia and Linus Torvalds, has received quite a bit of attention for its info-tech prowess. When I visited Helsinki six years ago, doing research for a chapter on Finland in my book on free software, one I.T. entrepreneur explained his theory as to why this was so by reaching deep into Finland's prehistory."

Friday, May 05, 2006

Well... just one more

Interactive table in a club in Omote-sando in Tokyo, Japan.

100% computer vision based. No sensors.

Apparently driven by advertising management routine. Interactive advertising changes from table to table according to time and people.
If I keep placing posts like this I'll turn into a gadget freak - it's time to stop - but isn't it interesting?

And now for some pure gadgetry

This is a video of a multi-input touch screen. The software concepts behind it are pretty impressive, although I suspect the consumer computer market is some way off. A standard touch screen allows one input at a time. This allows multiple people to use it or to pick up a signal like fingers squeezing or separating to shrink or enlarge image areas.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Gas Guzzlers Find Price of Forgiveness - New York Times

I expect Carbon offsets will be traded on ebay. This article on the New York Times will be available with free registration for a short while, after about a week they request a fee for archives. It is an interesting idea for organisations projecting a responsible image. The article notes that
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund bought offsets to cover the amount of pollution produced by all 1,479 people who attended conferences at its Pocantico Conference Center in Westchester County last year. Ben & Jerry's buys enough offsets to cover its manufacturing and retail operations, and even the Rolling Stones have bought offsets to make their concerts carbon neutral."

Gas Guzzlers Find Price of Forgiveness - New York Times: "To people who take the threat of global warming personally, driving a car that spews heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere can be a guilt trip.

But to help atone for that environmental sin, some drivers are turning to groups on the Internet that offer pain-free ways to assuage their guilt while promoting clean energy.

It involves buying something known as a carbon offset: a relatively inexpensive way to stimulate the production of clean electricity. Just go to one of several carbon-offset Web sites, calculate the amount of carbon dioxide produced when you drive, fly or otherwise burn fossil fuels, and then buy an offset that pays for an equivalent amount of clean energy."

Web sites like,, and focus on automobile emissions because drivers can become aware of their carbon footprint every time they fill up. An average car produces about 10,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Is it time to build in BPM?

After the Eclipse story, I thought I had better add this article on BPM (note this still isn't BPR though).

Is it time to build in BPM?: "Will 2006 be the year that business process management moves out of its specialist ghetto to become a built-in component of every application?

Some vendors say business process management should be built into applications rather than bought as a separate product:

* Traditionally, BPM has been a separate middleware purchase
* There is a fragmented market of point solutions
* A lack of mature standards has held back progress
* Now some BPM vendors market their wares to application vendors
* Embedded BPM can make it easier to adapt to changing processes

Traditionally, enterprises have seen BPM as an optional extra investment. When necessary, they've signed up for an all-singing, all-dancing suite from the likes of Savvion, Fuego or Tibco, or for less specialist offerings from existing platform vendors such as IBM, BEA or Microsoft. But increasingly, enterprises today are opting to let application vendors do the grunt work for them, taking a bundled option built into the vendor's own application. With ERP vendors, data management vendors and the like embedding BPM functionality, several BPM vendors have moved away from selling direct to enterprises and instead have started to position themselves as primarily embedded or open source options. Examples include two vendors who coincidentally were both acquired last year — FiveSight, bought last month by Redwood, CA-based BPM specialist Intalio, and Oak Grove Systems, which last summer became part of Atlanta, Georgia-based legacy integration vendor Seagull Software."

Linux News: Developer : OSDL Offers Cash for Linux Development

Funding news is always important for Government and Open source developers:

Linux News: Developer : OSDL Offers Cash for Linux Development: "The Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) has moved to boost Linux kernel development with the launch of a fund to provide financial support for open source Latest News about open source software developers.

The pro-Linux organization's OSDL Fellowship Fund aims to provide resources to engineers working on Linux and open source community projects who do not otherwise have access to financial support."

Linux News: Developer : Eclipse Adding Tools to Manage App Life Cycle

This project is still "on the way" but is a very interesting development if the different development products can be brought together. ITIL, PRINCE and RUP have all got strengths, but none are really open source. The Institute of Government Business has made a key point about ensuring that the business process reengineering is properly addressed in the development process. If there is any information on how Eclipse will handle this, please let me know:

Linux News: Developer : Eclipse Adding Tools to Manage App Life Cycle: "The Eclipse Foundation detailed plans to expand its traditional focus on individual open source development tools by adding a project for managing the entire application life cycle.

During its EclipseCon conference, which took place in late March in Santa Clara, Calif., officials of the open source community provided further information on the Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) Project under development by several of its members.

The Eclipse ALM system promises to tie together development tools from multiple vendors without requiring point-to-point integration.
Single Platform

Eclipse is targeting users like Loren Larsen, chief architect at World Wide Packets in Spokane Valley, Wash.

Larsen said he would be interested in using Eclipse's ALM project to help his company avoid having to buy an integrated suite from the likes of Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Latest News about Microsoft or IBM's (NYSE: IBM) Latest News about IBM Rational Software unit. Larsen said he would prefer to use best-of-breed tools for the elements in the life cycle.

'[Open source ALM] is the only way we will get a lot of the different tool vendors to come to the table and provide a single platform everyone can use,' he said.

Larsen said his company, which provides Ethernet products to telecommunications carriers, now uses incompatible requirements management, scheduling, defect-tracking, compiler and software configuration management tools.

The Eclipse Foundation planned to roll out proof-of-concept code for ALM at the EclipseCon conference, said Ian Skerrett, the organization's director of marketing.

More than 30 vendors have signed on to support the project, which was launched by Eclipse member Serena Software last spring. The completed ALM code is expected to be available in October, Skerrett said."

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


John C. Dvorak - the thoughtful, irritatingly prescient columnist from PC Magazine has started a new video site - can I call it a vlog? - not technically, I suppose. Anyway, it's a great way to keep across new trends and social issues related to ICT. JD gets a pretty knowledgeable crew together for each show. I'm in - and it's free.

Today's Guests:

Sebastian Rupley – West Coast Editor, PC Magazine

Peter Galli- Senior Editor, eWeek

David Spark – Host of ‘The Communications Insider’

The Topics:

CeBIT... Dvorak dissects the massive trade show hosted in Germany.
Origami: More powerful than a PDA, smaller than a laptop Who's gonna buy it?

RFID Chip Infection: Nothing new here, or yet another thing to worry about?

Web 2.0... is Web 3.0 here already?

Friday, March 10, 2006

I, Nanobot

Alan H. Goldstein writes a compelling plea to look at what we are experimenting with when we don't yet understand what we are doing or risking. The prose is a little off-putting but the article is worth perservering with. Nono biology is the new ICT. Technology | I, Nanobot: "Scientists are on the verge of breaking the carbon barrier -- creating artificial life and changing forever what it means to be human. And we're not ready." .............

"Quick. What's the difference between artificial life and synthetic biology? Don't know? Neither does anyone else, but that isn't stopping nanobiotechnology researchers from building them -- or it, or that, or whatever. To stay up to speed, there is always Artificial Life, the official journal of the International Society of Artificial Life. According to the editors, the humble mission of the journal "is [to investigate] the scientific, engineering, philosophical, and social issues involved in our rapidly increasing technological ability to synthesize life-like behaviors from scratch in computers, machines, molecules, and other alternative media." Whoa!"

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Geotagging photos

Synchronise clocks on your GPS and your camera so that you can match photos to location by time. To place on web:
Solutions from PC Magazine: Location, Location, Location: "users of the Flickr photo-sharing site can also make use of extensive user-contributed scripts available in the Geotagging group ( ) to tag their images for use with either the aptly named Geobloggers site ( ) or Google Maps."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Apply the Snark Rasp to the sharp corners of your writing

Why would I link to a Literary Agent site? Especially one that is described as "In which Miss Snark vents her wrath on the hapless world of writers and crushes them to sand beneath her T.Rexual heels of stiletto snark.". Because Miss Snark provides brutally honest and therefore immensely valuable insights into the world of writing. In this archive Miss Snark runs her "crapometer" over 101 synopses submitted by brave authors for comments.

The blog has created arguably the most incisive collection of accessible, critical but uplifting analyses of writing that I am aware of. Although the focus is on fiction, reading the whole blog will show examples to help almost any form of writing. It is now so large that reading the blog takes a determined effort, but the content provided by so many contributors and the knowledgeable, dry wit (even drier than her Gin) creates a compelling read. If you are serious about your writing - even report writing - then read this blog. Now.

Thought for the Day: Design and Products

We've had a number of comments about the cumbersome name of the Institute of Government Business Analysis and Process reengineering. Quite valid too. "IGBAPR" doesn't roll off the tongue easily. But the reason underneath this is our concern that the IT discipline and the Business discipline must work together if the outcome is to be successful. BA's that just automate the existing process do no-one any favours. That's why I've linked to this entry: | brain | Design and Products

"Thought for the day: It’s not hard to create good designs; it’s hard to create well-designed products.

The difference? Any industrial design student can create a beautiful design, but to become real products, a design has to make it through a company’s entire product creation chain. Companies that make this process easier (read: Google), or have champions/dictators to force things through (read: Apple/Steve Jobs), will end up with better-designed products.

Good design depends as much on business process as it does on designers."

Well... how true. It applies to all our ICT projects. Ultimately they almost all relate to business processes.

The dot com domain allocated with price hike provisions

Hot Points – A blog by Go Daddy founder and president Bob Parsons

Something that will affect us all has been noticed by They've said:
Go Daddy opposes ICANN-VeriSign agreement

Yesterday, February 28, ICANN announced that its Board of Directors met and approved the pending deal with VeriSign for the .COM registry. The agreement will let VeriSign raise registration fees by 7% annually in four of the next six years. It will also give VeriSign control of the .COM registry indefinitely, as it extends VeriSign's "presumptive renewal" right when this agreement ends in 2012."

If you are a US citizen you may be able to have a say before final ratification. Go to Bob's blog to read more.