Monday, August 15, 2005

His weblog may not be an official Microsoft site - it's his own site, a place to publish his own opinions - but the fact is, Robert Scoble's a Microsoft blogger, albeit "unofficial."

And one Microsoft site - Microsoft for Business and Organizations - has published an article called "Agent of Transformation," where Robert is interviewed about corporate blogging.

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Good read. It's also linked from Microsoft's Executive Circle. Interesting, really - Robert's an insider, of course, but he speaks his mind from time to time - He's been known to express opinions critical of Microsoft's products and positions if that's where he stands. So, it's also interesting to see Microsoft publishing interviews with Robert to talk about how corporate blogging benefits business.

"So there are times when we are having an online conversation out in public, which is fascinating and scary. It's like living naked. Sometimes it's not all that pleasant. We both believe very strongly in transparency and believe that it makes you make better decisions overall."

He also talks about being a smart business blogger. It's worth a look for anyone interested in the blogging world, and for anyone who blogs about - or for - work. Read the interview here.

And... Coming up in September, Scoble's gonna be webcasting:

Robert Scoble on Blogging - September 21, 11:30 AM Pacific Time. Catch this webcast with Microsoft's most well-known blogger, Robert Scoble, and learn how to build your own blog presence, brand, and traffic.



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Blogging
Monday, August 15, 2005 5:02:11 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, August 13, 2005

We interrupt this IT/tech blog for the following random cult video interlude....

Flashbacks of Deliverance run through your mind. Be afraid.

This, my friends, has to be the greatest video ever on the Intarweb. I am so glad someone sent this:

Whatever you do, DO NOT CLICK THIS LINK!

Ok, just kidding. Click it. No, really. Enjoy. Know a better one? Leave a comment.

Update: Apparently this video is a party promotion for a local (Portland, Oregon) media firm, Borders Perrin Norrander, Inc. Cool. Also, a lower bandwidth version is here: http://www.bpninc.com/evideo/video_mac_lo.mov



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Humor | Random Stuff
Saturday, August 13, 2005 3:26:21 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Bil Simser has taken the lead in creating a place for the community to create and share SharePoint templates. This is terrific - one of the more difficult things about getting people using SharePoint has always been the lack of templates and general resources available to get people started building the custom apps people dream of (but can't necessarily create themselves).

Link: The SharePoint Template Project on SourceForge

Now that we have the place to do this, all we need are participants. Microsoft recently released a set of 30 great site templates, and there are a few others out there as well, but this has the potential to be much bigger.

Bil's own words describe the SharePoint Template Project perfectly:

Not having custom solutions has been one of the larger gaps in SharePoint but demonstrates that you can accomplish a lot with just a little configuration and some creative thought. On numerous occasions I find myself in the newsgroups seeing people asking if they can build a Help Desk with SharePoint, or an Expense Tracking System, or a Call Board. The answer is of course yes. Always has been and always will. The problem however is that you don't get a lot of business solutions delivered without some work. Enter the SharePoint Template Project.

I created a new project site on SourceForge (yes, I'm not a big fan of GotDotNet and we haven't created my utopia of SharePointForge just yet) to accomodate this. The project provides an outlet for the SharePoint community to contribute and share list and site templates for the products under the Microsoft SharePoint technology banner (SharePoint Portal Server and Windows SharePoint Services).

These templates come in the form of binary .stp files or plain text xml schema files (along with any additional files like images, etc.). Users create the templates either using SharePoint itself (saving them in .stp format) or with whatever xml/text editor they prefer. The templates are uploaded to a SharePoint server and used as a boilerplate by SharePoint during site creation.

Templates in this project will be created by the community and packaged in a common installer format (MSI) so that end-users need only download the MSI and run it on their SharePoint server. A template MSI will be provided for contributors to the project which includes the template installer, full or custom selections for installation (users will be able to choose what templates they want to install), graphical preview for each template (if the developer includes them) and option to create sample sites based on the templates chosen.



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SharePoint | Tech
Saturday, August 13, 2005 1:55:39 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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WirelesspclockLast year, I picked up a couple Wireless PC Lock devices, to see if they'd work in a business environment to control workstation security. What I found was that I'd purchased what seemed to be some cool hardware, packaged with really crappy software. In fact, the software was so bad, it made the hardware pretty much useless. Useless doesn't help in the security world, so I was disappointed overall.

Then about a week later, I discovered that Bryan Batchelder, another security type, had also picked one up, reverse engineered how it works, and written his own software for it. Bryan's software was a vast improvement - measurable in orders of magnitude - over the software that shipped with the hardware.

Then Scott Hanselman, a coworker and friend of mine, found the device and software and decided to contact Bryan and work with him to use take it to the next level, using the new .NET Framework v2.0, to control and take advantage of the hardware.

And today, a new article was published that Scott wrote for hobbiest programmers, as an installment in his excellent "Some Assembly Required" series on Microsoft's MSDN Coding4Fun site. The article is entitled, "Is that you? Writing Better Software for Cool USB Hardware." In this edition, Scott explains how the new software, built from Bryan's base, is made and how it can be extended by anyone who wants to (since it's an open source program published on SourceForge).

UsbwirelesssecuritytrayI've installed the new software myself (after downloading and installing the .NET v2.0 Beta 2 framework) and have it running, and I can tell you this: The new software really shows how cool the hardware is, as opposed to the original software, which made the hardware look sloppy and bad.

The hardware consists of a USB stick (it looks much like a USB storage device) and a small round button you can hang on your keychain (or wherever). With the new software, a tiny green icon appears in the Windows status notification area (the tray) and flashes to show you it's getting a heartbeat from the key fob button. If you turn the button transmitter off (it lasts for-freakin-ever on one battery, mine's almost a year old and it's still going strong), the software on the compute notices and does whatever it's configured to do. The image below gives you an idea of the things it can do out of the box, and it's plug-in-able, so if you want something else, you can go build it.

Hmmm, gotta go see if I can learn enough to be able to write a plugin now. 

     Usbwirelesssecurity



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Geek Out | IT Security | Tech
Saturday, August 13, 2005 9:40:11 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Eagerly anticipated and full of great new features and enhancements, dasBlog v1.8 has been officially released.

Scott covers the details and pontificates the important readme file information on his blog. Here's a list of many of the cool new features:

New Features of Note

  • Anti-Spam Features
    • Automatic Referral and Trackback blacklist update
    • CAPTCHA for non-admin users (Font warping has also been increased in this version)
    • Logging and display of Comment IP addresses and resolved Hostnames for Admins
    • DasBlogUpgrader can strip spam from existing content folders
    • Support for rel="nofollow"
    • Ability to delete referrals and trackbacks directly from the Admin UI
  • Security Features
    • HttpOnly cookies
    • Admin access auditing
    • SMTP Authentication for outgoing mail
  • Syndication Features
    • Improved RSS Comments support for SharpReader and RSS Bandit
    • Upgraded Atom support from 0.3 to Valid Atom 1.0. ATOM Syndication permalink changes but 301 is issued.
    • RSS 2.0 and Atom 1.0 validates via FeedValidator.
    • Ability to mark entries as "syndicated" or not. Entries can appear on the site but not in RSS/Atom.
    • New between RC1 and Gold: Plugable, configurable pinging of Blog Search engines like pubsub and technorati.
  • Performance Features
    • Search Highlighting is optional now
    • Referrals are logged but not stored in XML by default. Configurable.
      (This has huge performance benefits for high traffic sites.)
    • DasBlog Upgrader can optionally remove all referrals.
      (Again with high traffic sites some folks had 5meg XML files full of referrals)
    • Theme templates are now cached in memory.
  • Installation Features
    • New VBS for IIS permissions and VDir creation
    • Support for running under ASP.NET 2.0
    • Support for running on Win2k 2003 without changing permissions when impersonation is enabled
  • Content Features
    • Ability to pre- and post-date entries
    • Permalinks based on Title and Date optional: 2005/06/06/title.aspx
    • Latest build of Free Text Box including ability to upgrade FTB without upgrading DasBlog.
    • Text Editor (FTB) supports IE7
    • Text Editor (FTB) supports FireFox
    • Blog Statistics macro
    • Mail-To-Weblog continues to improves. Works with Thunderbird.
  • Extensibility Features
    • Custom Macro Plugin model without recompiling DasBlog (see the source for the example custom macro)
  • Theme Features
    • DasBlog now ships with 16 themes and a Theme Combo to change between them.
    • New theme.manifest file makes themes and image assets more portable.


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Blogging | Tech
Saturday, August 13, 2005 7:22:01 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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One thing I really need, and for which I have yet to find a truly good solution, is a clipboard manager tool that will do a great job (defined below) of managing a number of different clipped chunks of text, images or whatever. I often need to copy and paste multiple items over and over, but when the contents of the single-items clipboard change, its a pain in the butt to go a re-copy an items I used just a few minutes ago, just to paste it once or twice before I have to copy something else. I need a good clipboard library, with all the bells and whistles. I wish I didn't have to search for and install five or six apps to do what I want.

Improving the clipboard is a age-old problem in the Windows computer world (hey Microsoft - the clipboard idea is great, but in practice it sucks! Enhance it!), and I have tried a few different utilities that tried to solve this problem over time, but I've never seen one that really worked well.

There's been so many attempts at these sorts of programs, it's almost impossible to test them all without mucking up a computer (many of them programs don't install or clean up nicely). I'm sure there's one or more out there that people love. So - maybe you have one to recommend?

Here is what the ultimate clipboard tool would need to do (in my perfect little world):

  • Hold and intelligently manage multiple items clipped from any application
  • Clipped items of any media type (text, images, yada yada)
  • A smart, easy to access, unobtrusive interface for managing content
  • Let me save libraries of organized content
  • Let me have a one-time pad of clippings for the session, and let me move things around, save items I want to keep, etc.
  • For text items, ability to clip as rich text or plain text and convert from/to same (a la PureText)
  • Built-in ability to capture non-clippable text from the screen (scrape like Kleptomania or Screen OCR)
  • For image clips, let me select a rectangle by drawing it, a free-form area by drawing it, a window that needs to be scrolled, etc.
  • Send-to-BlogJet (for that matter, send-to-anywhere) function
  • Installs and uninstalls cleanly
  • Small footprint, lightweight program that works reliably
  • Free is great, but not necessary - I'll pay if it's quality software

Anyone have suggestions? Let me know - thanks!

P.S. - For what it's worth, I have a new-found level of utmost respect for anyone who has to complete RFPs (requests for proposal) for a living. I've spent a large chunk of time this past week, between a zillion other assignments, doing a fairly important RFP. I had to write most of it from scratch for the first time, so there was no boilerplate copy to start with. Now that I have a good set of boilerplate information built, I want to be able to take best advantage of it. Hence this post - I want to reduce the effort required to repurpose content like that the next time around, plus a great copy/clipboard/conversation program would be awesome for blogging.



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Tech
Saturday, August 13, 2005 7:05:21 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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