Monday, June 28, 2004

Evan Feldman has written an interesting article about the process of field trials during the initial development of the Tablet PC. We've deployed more than 50 tablet PC's at the company where I work, and as the guy responsible for that decision (read: they guy whose neck is hanging out), I can say that I have heard the same concerns and have seen the same "celebrity" status (whether right or wrong) attached to using one of these truly nifty devices.

Ultimately, what matters most is finding and implementing a tool that makes people more effective and productive. Among other recent technologies we've deployed, the Tablet is one that is starting to show us its unique ability to help people become more flexible and effective in their day-to-day work. I'll be shocked if Tablet PC functionality doesn't eventually become commonplace or even standard in notebook computers - it just makes sense.

Tablet PCs, OneNote, SharePoint Portal and Windows SharePoint Services, Office System 2003, Live Communication Server, Exchange 2003, and much more -- It's been quite a year for those of us at work behind the scenes. What I especially appreciate is the noticeable improvement in quality in all of these product areas with new version releases, and the resulting increases in use and adoption by end users.

Personally, I've used a Tablet PC since the first models were released commercially more than a year and a half ago, and I'm lucky enough to be in a position where I get to (or unlucky enough to have to, depending on your point of view) test new equipment and software in the process of deciding how, when and whether we should use them at our company. I'm looking forward to seeing what's next in the Tablet world -- There's plenty of room and opportunity for this platform to grow, and the potential is certainly great.



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Office 2003 | Tablet PC | Tech
Monday, June 28, 2004 10:26:56 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

I like music a lot, play some guitar, and will occasionally sing along, but I have never been a big fan of Karaoke. However, William Bragg posted something on his blog that I think I may just have to check out, just so I can see for myself (and so I can say I did it).

Klingon Karaoke.

Uh... Wow... And yes, it's for real.

Willamette Week says:

"Dry-ice fog streams onto the dance floor, setting the scene for tonight’s No. 1 singer. Outfitted in a long black wig, a rumpled prosthetic forehead with bushy eyebrows, and full Klingon evening wear, Qaolin crashes onto the dance floor and belts out a song that sounds like “Cherokee Nation.” Only it’s sung completely in the growl and violence of Klingon. It’s Klingon Karaoke night at the Bodacious Classics Restaurant and Intergalactic Refueling Station in Southeast Portland."

How can you know about this and not check it out? Anyone care to join me on a Thursday night sometime soon? I mean, how can you possibly go wrong? I wonder if they'll let cameras in. Hah.



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Humor | Random Stuff
Monday, June 28, 2004 8:11:28 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Saturday, June 26, 2004

Is it just me, or is there something inherently weird about dragging an AC-powered flat panel display into Starbucks to hook up to your laptop at one of those little tables, when your laptop already has a flat-panel display? /me rolls eyes...



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AudioBlogging | Random Stuff
Saturday, June 26, 2004 10:24:11 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, June 25, 2004

Microsoft has filed the new Sender-ID email spec with the Internet Engineering Task Force. The spec is a hybrid of Microsoft's "Caller ID for E-mail" and the competing-but-similar "Sender Policy Framework" (SPF).

Security Pipeline: "The new specification, called Sender ID, proposes that organizations publish information about their outgoing e-mail servers, particularly IP (Internet Protocol) addresses, in the Domain Name System (DNS) in XML. If adopted, Sender ID would serve as an e-mail authentication system that verifies the message actually originated with the purported address."

This will be a hot item over the next year or so. Expect to see this actually happen. The merged specs that were filed allow verification that the sender domain is legitimate and not spoofed on two layers, and the concept of sender-authenticated email is picking up a real head of steam.

If it flies, the bad effects of all those phishers and spammers will be significantly reduced (at least until they figure a way around that, too...).

UPDATE: Bill Gates' announcement about the new technologies and anti-spam roadmap is viewable on the web. I received the "executive email" from Microsoft a couple days after posting this original entry.



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IT Security | Tech
Friday, June 25, 2004 6:18:28 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Sounds like Roy Osherove's a little bit disappointed he has not received more entries to the "Most Useful VS.NET Add-in/Macro Coding Contest," for which there are some pretty nice prizes.

Since I'm not nearly talented enough to even think about doing this, and since I know a number of people who are, I figured I should post this reminder. Submissions will be accepted only through the end of June, so hurry up! Only new (not re-used) code need apply.

Go here and read the details. I mean, just look what you could win:

1st prize:
2nd prize:
3rd prize:
Bonus:
the most crazy and innovative add-in (not necessarily useful!) will get a special prize from me:


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Tech
Wednesday, June 23, 2004 9:38:58 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Many are not aware that in PowerPoint 2003 (and 2002/XP) there is a feature available called Presenter View, which allows you to use your computer's multi-monitor capability to better control your presentations.

In order to use presenter view, your computer must meet the following requirements:

  • The computer must have multiple monitor capability - check with the manufacturer about this if you're not sure. Usually desktop computers require two video cards in order to have multiple monitor capability; laptops often have the capability built in.
  • The computer must be running an operating system that supports multiple displays, such as Windows 98, Windows 2000, or Windows XP (or later).
  • Multiple monitor support must be enabled by setting the display options. In Control Panel, click the Display icon.
  • Presenter view must be turned on in PowerPoint.

Basically you just set up your second monitor in the display settings and check the "Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor" box. Then in PowerPoint, follow the menus to set up the slide show (Slide show... Set up show...), and in the multiple monitors section, choose the extended monitor (your projector output) as the device on which to place the slides, then check the box to indicate you want to use the presenter view.

There you have it: One monitor with your notes and controls, and the other for your audience with just the slides. Cool stuff.



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Office 2003
Wednesday, June 23, 2004 9:13:03 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Thanks to Alwin Hawkins (who has a blog I read regularly), I'm a Gmail user now. He had a couple extra invitations (you can't just sign up, someone has to invite you), and was kind enough to share.

Okay, so there are certain things about Gmail that are kind of cool. I like the idea of being able to organize content by conversation and applying multiple labels (think of them as virtual folders) to a single conversation. Add the fairly advanced searching features, and you've got a pretty flexible email system.

It's definitely not Outlook on Exchange, but then again not much is. Besides, this is 100% web-based. You get a gig of storage space, which is nearly obscene. For a person who needs a free and flexible Internet email account for personal use, it's not too darn shabby.



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Random Stuff | Tech
Wednesday, June 23, 2004 7:53:38 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Robert's playing mind games! He's right though - pretty amazing that such a large company can keep things secret:

Another quiet launch coming?

In the .NET show Jeff Sandquist says that the days of the quiet launch on the blogosphere are probably over. Oh yeah?

There's some really cool stuff coming next week that hasn't been leaked yet. It's really shocking that Microsoft can still keep a secret. But my fingers are itching. Twitching. Convulsing.

Damn, it's hard to keep a secret. Especially this one (I've been keeping it for a couple of months under threat of career ruin). No, it's not about blogging or RSS either. Well, see ya next week.

Quiet launch? Oh, sure, just between me and my closest friends. Get the Slashdot-compliant server ready. :-)



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Blogging | Random Stuff
Wednesday, June 23, 2004 7:03:54 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Comdex has been canceled this year. It may come back in 2005.

"MediaLive [the company that organizes the show each year] is forming a corporate advisory board for Comdex that will include representatives from Microsoft, Oracle, Dell and other tech giants. Executives from those companies, who have already been approached by MediaLive and expressed an interest in participating on such a board, will help reshape Comdex to make it more relevant to IT decision-makers..."

Too bad, but here's your alternative: Gnomedex 2004.



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Random Stuff | Tech
Wednesday, June 23, 2004 10:39:06 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Microsoft has received a new patent, issued June 22nd, for personal areas networks and "the methods and apparatus for distributing power and data to devices coupled to the human body."

So, Microsoft owns me? It's an interesting patent (for real), but the sarcastic side of me begs to ask the question: "If the devil now owns my body, is the soul next?" But I digress...

Personal area networks are not a new concept. I remember discussion around the term dating several years back. What Microsoft has done here is protected the use of the human body as the apparatus used to communicate the information.

Excerpt: "The human body is used as a conductive medium, e.g., a bus, over which power and/or data is distributed. Power is distributed by coupling a power source to the human body via a first set of electrodes. One or more devise to be powered, e.g., peripheral devices, are also coupled to the human body via additional sets of electrodes. The devices may be, e.g., a speaker, display, watch, keyboard, etc. A pulsed DC signal or AC signal may be used as the power source. By using multiple power supply signals of differing frequencies, different devices can be selectively powered. Digital data and/or other information signals, e.g., audio signals, can be modulated on the power signal using frequency and/or amplitude modulation techniques."

via Compendium/Adam Gaffin



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Tech
Wednesday, June 23, 2004 8:51:28 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, June 22, 2004

[PC World Editor's Pick]"FeedDemon won PC World's editor's pick in their recent roundup of RSS readers, beating out NewsGator, Bloglines, Radio Userland and 15 other RSS readers."

Nick Bradbury's software (all of it) is great ... Each one of his creations represents a great example of a software designer building products that work, fit and behave in a way people can appreciate without having to work at it. He knows his audiences and has a true ability to design for the target crowd.

I use FeedDemon exclusively as my RSS aggregator. If you've ever used HomeSite (now a Macromedia product) or TopStyle, you've experienced Nick's quality software before.

If you are in need of a top-notch RSS/Atom feed reader with all the bells and whistles, but which is still easy and comfortable to use, download a copy of FeedDemon and give it a try. Once you've used it, I think you'll be hooked.

Congrats, Nick.



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RSS Stuff | Tech
Tuesday, June 22, 2004 8:27:38 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

If you work with Windows XP Professional on a Windows 2000/2003 domain and you use Group Policy, this is for you.

Microsoft has released an updated version of their spreadsheet that lists the full set of Group Policy settings described in Administrative Template (.adm) files shipped with Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2 Release Candidate 2. This includes all policy settings supported on Windows 2000, Windows XP Professional and Windows Server 2003. The spreadsheet includes separate worksheets for each of the .adm files shipped, as well as a consolidated worksheet for easy searching. Using column filters, the spreadsheet allows simple filtering by operating system, component and machine/user configuration, as well as regular text search of keywords through Excel.

Essential for network admins planning a move to SP2 when it's released later this year - so go get it.


NOTE FOR DOMAIN ADMINS AND GPO GEEKS: The .ADM template files associated with Win XP SP2 can be found on your XP computer after you apply the service pack. Search for *.ADM or browse to:

   %SYSTEMROOT%\inf\

Or, extract them from the service pack CAB files if you're feeling adventuresome.

In other words, this works just like any other set of ADM files. Once you've applied the template files to your group policy objects on a domain controller, you'll see new options for lots of things like the Windows firewall and other nifty new GPO features.

IMPORTANT: Note that applying the ADM templates to your DC does not modify the group policy data in existence - it just opens up the new policy fields. However, you should carefully test the new settings, probably in a test OU with the proper ADM templates applied. In reality, you should not test these on a production domain until you are familiar and comfortable from testing on a lab or test domain system. Also remember that as long as SP2 is in beta, nothing is guaranteed, so it's all at your own risk.




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IT Security | Tech
Tuesday, June 22, 2004 9:02:08 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, June 21, 2004

Paul Allen and partners came significantly closer to winning the $10 million Ansari X Prize, which will be awarded to the first team to send a spaceship carrying a pilot and the weight of two passengers to an altitude of 100 kilometers twice within two weeks.

SpaceShipOne successfully launched just barely into outer space today after taking off under the belly of a larger aircraft. Rocket engines pushed it and its single pilot just outside the Earth's atmosphere, and then it fell back to earth, gliding the last part much like the space shuttle does.

It's fun to see private enterprise making this kind of thing happen. Certainly having someone like Paul Allen to bank-roll the project helps a lot, but ultimately it's great to see a non-government project get off the ground - literally.

The private space race has a number of teams actively competing for the $10 million prize.



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Random Stuff
Monday, June 21, 2004 8:32:21 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Sunday, June 20, 2004
Nick Bradbury, author of TopStyle, FeedDemon, and HomeSite, wrote the other day about stupid software thieves. It never fails to amaze how stupid people can be. 

He received an email this morning and comments on it:

"Fix your piece of s--- program! I upgraded to FeedDemon 1.10 and it crashes with 'Win32 device error.' Did you even test this s---?"

I've actually received a number of emails (and one forum post) about this bug, but I have no plans to fix it. Why? Because the error message only appears if you upgrade a cracked version of FeedDemon 1.0. This is a deliberate error message that FeedDemon 1.10 displays when it detects that you upgraded from a specific cracked version of FeedDemon 1.0.

That's right, people who use a pirated version of FeedDemon are emailing me for support.

Once again we see the sizable overlap between stupid and dishonest. In my years as a police officer - a previous career path - I saw this over and over. Not only are thieves and cheaters not very smart, they'll often make it all-too-easy to catch them.

Read Nick's blog entry - it's worth the time and the resulting laugh. And good for Nick, taking action to protect his intellectual property. I buy his software, not only because it's great, but also simply because I use it. Not to mention because it's the honest, good and right thing to do. This is an important conversation to have.



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Tech
Sunday, June 20, 2004 8:12:20 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Delorme has a great and relatively new GPS device out called the Earthmate GPS Receiver. The name's not new, but this version runs off USB power, so none of the separate power cords like their old stuff used to require, and no more serial ports to fight with (for that matter, my new laptop doesn't even have a serial port).

What's so special about it? Well, for starters you plug it in, along with the Street Atlas 2004 USA software that comes with it, and you're pretty much instantly listening to your computer give you turn-by-turn directions to wherever you want to go. Plus, you can talk to your computer, verbally giving commands like "Next turn?" or "Where am I?" The computer answers your questions.

So, that sounds pretty neat you say, but so what? Well, on a recent trip to California, I spent a weekend with a friend in a rental car, traversing the southern part of the state. Everywhere we went we used the laptop with the GPS device, and we were able to find things that otherwise would have been pretty difficult, we always knew where we were, and ultimately we were able to quickly plan routes and get to places. We did a lot in a few days, and had fun in the process.

There's a bunch of new fancy GPS devices on the market, selling for over a thousand dollars. If you have a laptop and want great functionality, don't spend the money on the expensive stuff. Try this first.



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AudioBlogging | Random Stuff | Tech
Sunday, June 20, 2004 9:03:08 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

I want to write something about my dad. Nothing flowery, nothing earth-shattering. Just that I love him, that I am proud to be his son, and that I hope he has a great Fathers Day.

He's been there when I was at my worst, and for that I am grateful.

So - Thank you, Dad. And by the way, I can't find your cell phone number again, and I tried you at home and work. Call me, why don't ya. ;-)

Fathers Day is a hard one for me. I am happy for my dad and my relationship with him, and also sad for other reasons on this day each year. But for both of the people on my mind this day, I am truly grateful for those relationships and the time I have been privileged to spend.

I'm also lucky to have good friends who think about me on days like this. They dropped off a card while I was out this evening. On the face it reads, "Those we hold most dear never truly leave us." I believe that.

Days like today are important. They give us pause, to thank those who have meant so much, and to remember those who have gone before us.

Happy Fathers Day.



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Personal Stories
Saturday, June 19, 2004 11:41:31 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Saturday, June 19, 2004

As a homeowner of a house and a few acres in the Middle of Nowhere, I've become very well acquainted with the Home Depot over the past couple of years. I love Home Depot. Here's a few reasons why.

  1. Even though I hate credit cards, I got one from Home Depot. They have regular promotions (meaning almost all the time) that allow you to charge any purchase over $300 with no payments and no interest for 12 months. Granted, it gets expensive if you don't pay it all off before time runs out, but that's not a problem in my case - I always pay it off each month. If you have issues with charging up credit cards and getting into a world of Financial Hell, just skip this part completely, you'll be happier. :-)
  2. Internet-only specials. For example, this weekend they have a special for Internet purchases only, not available in the store, for price reductions on a variety of items, including two power tools I have been considering buying. Needless to say, they got purchased today.
  3. Free shipping specials. Right now if you place an order for more than $49, they'll ship it for free, as long as its not something super heavy or huge. What counts for huge? Well, not 12-inch compound miter saws or 10-inch portable table saws, if that gives you an idea. Granted, it's ground shipping, but hey - it's free.

So, I saved $55 on the tools, got free shipping, and no payments and no interest for 12 months. I'll pay it off next month, but it's nice to know I have the option to spread it out if I want to.

Plus, they're everywhere and easy to find. They're also easy when it comes to returning items that don't fit or don't work or that you don't like or whatever. I can go there and learn stuff in free classes on the weekends.

The only complaint I have about Home Depot (if you can call it that) is that their concrete floors are so darn hard, and the stores are so darn big, that by the time I'm done shopping my feet, legs and back are killing me. Of course, Costco has the same problem. Put down some of that nifty hard rubber floor material you sell, and I'll stick around a little longer each time I shop. Maybe you'll sell more stuff.



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Random Stuff
Saturday, June 19, 2004 4:57:56 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, June 18, 2004

Wil Wheaton posts an entry about a great idea. Military troops are having their service times extended, and Google is giving away their free and highly-coveted 1GB email accounts - by invitation only - to random people. Why not do some good here, and give military personnel and their families a way to share bigger items like pictures of the kids, movies, etc?

GMAIL for the Troops.

It's a great idea.



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Random Stuff
Friday, June 18, 2004 6:39:41 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, June 17, 2004

Eli Robillard has a list of SharePoint resources that he has posted on his weblog site.

He's divided it in to topical areas and has posted a fairly long list of resources. It's a good list - check it out if you're a SharePointy type.



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SharePoint | Tech
Thursday, June 17, 2004 4:02:01 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
Scott and I sat down over lunch today and he (once again) proved his l33t development skills, all while teaching me some new stuff... In the end, we had the new RSS Feed to dasBlog Content Converter to show for our (primarily his) efforts.

From Scott's site:

Greg Hughes once had a LiveJournal Blog and the only remnant of his blog was an RSS Feed/Archive.  Now that he runs dasBlog he wanted to move his old content forward into dasBlog.  So, we googled a bit and couldn't find a tool that would take an RSS (2.0) feed as input and put the entries into dasBlog.

So we made one over lunch, and here it is: RSStoDasBlog.zip (219.29 KB)

RSStoDasBlog.exe MyRssFile.xml "C:\documents and settings\whatever\dasblog\content"

Use it like this by pointing it to the RSS file and your (local) dasBlog content folder.  It will create all the needed dayentry.xml files for you to upload to your remote blog.  It will also (I think) take an http:// url to an RSS file and could be used to (possible as a service?) steal RSS and mirror them in dasBlog.  Thanks to Jerry (Chris) Maguire's RSS Framework that showed up first in Google and saved me the time of running XSD.exe on an RSS XML schema. Apparently he has even newer stuff on his site.  It's got a few more moving parts than I think it needs to, but it did the job with a few changes that I marked with my initials; SDH.

Thanks to Scott both for teaching me and for helping me get the content migrated over. I'm a lame IT-management-type of guy, not a coder, but it was truly fun to learn a little something and to find that I was able to follow what he was showing me. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Scott's probably the best technical speaker/teacher I have ever met. I'm lucky to work with a number of really creative people that also happen to be really, really smart.

Speaking of really creative and smart people, Travis is now a MSDBA in addition to being a MCSD - which is both very cool and a big deal (not mention quite an accomplishment). Not many have the MCSD certification, and even fewer have both. Congrats, Trav!



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Blogging | RSS Stuff | Tech
Thursday, June 17, 2004 3:55:55 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, June 16, 2004

There's a pretty sudden and major uptick on our mail servers - and apparently on the mail servers of others - of instances of the Zafi worm/virus attepting to propagate itself. It's particularly pervasive, and while the payload does not appear destructive, it could quickly become a cleanup nightmare, including the possibility of disabling AV software and running in its place. If ever there was a justification for a really good email antivirus product, this is one.

From Panda Software's virus encyclopedia:

Brief Description 

Zafi.B is a worm that looks for directories in which antivirus programs are installed. If successful, Zafi.B overwrites the executable files with copies of itself. By doing so, the user will be unprotected against the attack of other malware. So whenever users run the antivirus, they will be running the Zafi.B without noticing.

In addition, Zafi.B searches for certain processes, such as the Windows Registry Editor, the Task Manager, etc. If successful, Zafi.B ends them.

Zafi.B spreads via e-mail in a message with variable characterics that can be written in different languages, and through peer to peer file sharing programs (P2P).

Visible Symptoms  

Zafi.B is easy to recognize once it has affected the computer, as it attempts to open any of the web sites stored in the following path of the Windows Registry every time it is executed:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ Software\ Microsoft\ Internet Explorer\ TypedURLs

See:

http://www3.ca.com/securityadvisor/virusinfo/virus.aspx?ID=39333 

on CA's web site for info about the worm and how to remove.

Also see:

http://www.pandasoftware.com/virus_info/encyclopedia/overview.aspx?idvirus=48433 

on Panda's web site for further info.



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IT Security | Tech
Wednesday, June 16, 2004 4:57:31 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
Chris Pratley asks: How do you use OneNote? From his weblog site:

"Although we have several different ways to collect information about how OneNote is used, I am always interested to hear how people use it. And this forum provides an opportunity for a dialog that our other data collection systems don’t really provide. So, let's hear it. How do you use OneNote? How is your notebook organized? What do you do with it? Would you prefer a different type of organization, or even a different concept for OneNote besides a tabbed notebook?"

He goes on to describe how he uses it, how he organizes his OneNote notebooks, and then lists some of the things he doesn't relaly like about his organizational method and its use.

Chris is asking for real-world feedback here. If you're a user of OneNote, take the time to describe for him and his readers - via a comment on his blog entry - how you use the program in your daily life. He wants to hear from others, so this is your chance!



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Office 2003 | OneNote
Wednesday, June 16, 2004 6:08:04 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Have been trolling the web for nifty SharePoint stuff and have come up with some interesting items worth looking into. I don't post nearly enough about SharePoint here (and I even have a category for it), so here goes a few nuggets of what I think is pretty cool stuff:

SPS 2003 Document library TreeView
A simple treeview renderer for document library in SharePoint 2003. Make navigation/visualization of your more complex document libraries a little more familar.

Building Custom Alert Result Channels in SharePoint Portal Server 2003
This definitely fits in the "cool" department. Toast alerts from SharePoint Portal - would be even niftier in the Messenger (MS/MSN) interface.

SQL Server Reporting Services Webparts for SharePoint
Display business data mined and munged with SQL Reporting Services on a SharePoint site/portal. Hello, biz intelligence - is that you?

Workflow Lite for SharePoint RC1
Display business data mined and munged with SQL Reporting Services on a SharePoint site/portal. Hello, biz intelligence - is that you?

Sharing Bookmarks, Wikis, and the Zen of SharePoint
Says Jonathan Hardwick: "But first you've got understand the Zen of SharePoint, which is this: it's SQL, but without the agonizing relational pain. Yup, under the hood beats good ol' SQL Server. That means SharePoint is all about lists." He also found a past article I wrote dreaming about wikis and SharePoint truly coming together. Anyone game???



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SharePoint | Tech
Tuesday, June 15, 2004 8:22:07 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Looks like pretty much all the free blogs at weblogs.com (about 3000 of them) are gone. Userland's apparently not especially interested in hosting free sites (they're a commercial enterprise after all), and Dave Winer, who really got the free thing going back in the day, has actually been buying servers himself recently and moving the sites over. But the weblogs.com migration and hosting is much more difficult than can be handled by Dave for free, so he's had to pull the plug. Performance problems and other issues (DNS nightmares for sub-domains, for example) have not been manageable, so the other evening, Dave posted this entry, recorded this audioblog entry, and decided he had to turn off the free service. So, he did. People who have sites hosted there can post a comment on this page with the URL of their site, and Dave promises to send the contents of all requested sites on July 1st. For complete information, listen to the audio entry. Dave explains it all there.

"This is not a company here, this is a person"
Dave Winer has provided, or through Userland has been involved in providing, a free service for many years. Unfortunately, he's faced with a difficult personal health situation and had to make a decision. It would have been much better if there was some reasonable period during which people could have downloaded their own information, but we're past that point now. Dave's a somewhat controversial (to some) and outspoken guy, but he's human like the rest of us, and hey - four years of free hosting... Regardless of the situation today, he's got to take care of himself, and IMO he deserves the community's gratitude for all the years of good and free blogging service (I even had one set up for a while back in the beginning). For my part, I wish him well and hope his heath improves and that he's able to focus better on the more important aspects of his life. As nice as it is to do for others, one must take care of one's self first in order to be available to others. Dave's done a lot for the community in the past, and regardless of the present situation, we can at least tell him thank you:

    Hey Dave - Thanks! (and good luck)



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Blogging
Tuesday, June 15, 2004 7:02:18 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, June 14, 2004

For some reason, over the past few days several people have asked me if I know what to do with an American flag that is in a fixed position on a pole (like the kind that you'd attach to your porch, for example) during a time when the flag is to be flown at half-staff. I understand why they're asking the question - I was wondering the same thing myself last week. I am just not so sure why they're asking me.

Anyhow, I did some research, and it turns out there is a correct and acceptable way to fly those flags:

For flags that can't be lowered, such as those on many homes, the American Legion says attaching a black ribbon or streamer to the top of the flag is an acceptable alternative. The ribbon should be the same width as a stripe on the flag and the same length as the flag.

If the flag is hanging on a wall, make three black bows from the same material and place one bow at each of the mounting points.

Totally non-technical, but for now completely relevant to many. So, there you go.



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Monday, June 14, 2004 8:52:42 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

New security features will be introduced in Windows XP SP2 this summer that will affect Internet Explorer and ActiveX controls, file downloads, pop-up windows, and more. As a result, depending on the types of technology you've employed on your Web site, it's possible your site won't play well with the enhanced security of SP2.

So, Microsoft has released a white paper that explains the potential problem areas and how to make sure your site will work well with the updated software. You can get the info here.

NOTE: Since SP2 is available as a pre-release download for beta testers and in a preview version, now is a good time for companies with large, important Web sites to do some controlled testing and make sure they've got any kinks worked out. People in business with IT departments should definitely check in with your IT department before you download the service pack, because it introduces a number of changes that a) may break certain functionality on your computer in the beta version, and b) are not quite ready for prime time, but are ready to be tested in a controlled environment. Your IT people will almost certainly want to put some controls around the installation of the test software, such as installing it in a lab environment or similar.

Here are a couple of links to information about Windows XP SP2 and its impact on other programs and servers:

Now's the time to get ready, and for all those web-development businesses out there (the few that have survived) to prepare their big fast-push marketing campaign and make some extra cash this fall fixing sites for people who don't know what they have, and can't for the life of them figure out why end users are complaining about their suddenly-broken Web sites.



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IT Security | Tech
Monday, June 14, 2004 5:47:09 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Saturday, June 12, 2004

This has got to be one of the most amazingly perfect examples of what's truly wrong with our world today.

PostmodernPets.com sells really-freakin' expensive pet crap for tons of money. German designer Phillip Plein has designed all kinds of cool stuff, apparently including dog bed that sells for - now get this -  a mere $1650.00!

Straight from the "uh-yeah-right" department (and the company info page of their web site):

"After browsing through our selection of products, we think that design-addicts that do not currently have pets may change their mind, and will soon discover what wonderful joys that these loveable companions can bring to life. And even if you don't purchase any products from our site, we hope our website will deepen your appreciation of postmodern design and your appreciation of pets and the fun and humor that both can bring to your life."

Riiiiiight...



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Random Stuff | Things that Suck
Saturday, June 12, 2004 10:57:15 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

A friend turned me on to a program last week called BlogJet. It's a nifty little program that allows you to post to and maintain content on a web log. Any one of a number of blog software apps are supported, including:

 Blogger
 b2
 BlogHarbor
 Blogware
 DasBlog
 DeadJournal
 LiveJournal
 Lockergnome.net
 MovableType
 pMachine
 Squarespace
 TypePad
 .Text
 WordPress
Blogger API
MetaWeblog API

So pretty much anyone should be able to take advantage of it. I use it with my dasBlog server, and I am taking advantage of the fact that it can FTP pictures (EDIT: See below) to my server at the time I post the entries. It even logs me in and allows me to edit past posts by downloading them from the server for me, and will also download my posting categories and let me assign them in the program before I publish a new or edited post. In addition, it includes a simple audio recorder, and with it one can make audio recordings with the microphone and instantly post them with a link in the blog entry.

The WYSIWYG editor includes spell checking and a library of high-color emoticons/smilies  that it will automatically upload when if and when you use them in a post. On top of all that, since I use FeedDemon, I get the added benefit of making BlogJet my default blogging tool in that program, which means fast and easy blogging from my RSS reader, as well as from within IE ("BlogJet This!").

EDIT: Jim Blizzard decided to give BlogJet a try, too. He had to do some futzing around to get the FTP uploads to work, and I thought I should point out that I also had some issues getting the FTP portion of the program to behave as I expeced it to, but it's worth the extra effort. Perhaps they'll make some additional improvements in that area in future versions (First suggestion: let me choose active or passive FTP mode in the account wizard; Second suggestion: while it's cool to be able to load and choose from my blog categories on a new post, unfortunately existing posts that I load from history don't load with the category info intact, which gets confusing and messy. )



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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Tech
Saturday, June 12, 2004 10:16:50 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

My back has started to feel a lot better, off and on, over the past couple of days. I am not sure how long the relief will last, but I figure I will enjoy it while I can.

In that vain, I jumped on my motorcycle this evening (was a bit chilly!) and rode into town to return an Xbox game (RalliSport Challenge 2 - lots of fun). I've stayed off the motorcycle since my last spinal injections, to let my back heal and all that, but it actually feels pretty good to ride the bike and flex my lower back a bit. No long distances, and I will still take it easy, but it was a fun ride.

I think that beyond the physical stretching, the freedom one experiences on a motorcycle ride is something I need right now, as well. I've been feeling a little of that isolated-no-matter-where-I-am stuff, so it's good to finally be able to get back on there, even if just for a little while, and get out of my head.

Here's to hoping the weather warms up, and the back pain stays away.



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Personal Stories
Saturday, June 12, 2004 9:34:58 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, June 11, 2004

Sprint PCS has a new set of TV commercials out making fun of the run-around method of mobile phone billing. Obviously, the practice of micro-billing applies to other industries, as well, but I'm not bringing this up to rant about billing practices.

I'm mentioning this because these are some of the funniest and most effective commercials I've seen in a while.

Oh, Ben! Wow... You know that you went over your Macaroni minutes last month?

Heh. I laugh every time I see these ads. The look on that kid's face cracks me up. Someone at Sprint PCS needs to take a victory bow - good job. Effective and memorable advertising.

Oh, and the rate plan idea they're advertising - changing your plan month-to-month to give you the best plan based on your actual usage - is a cool idea, too. Hey AT&T Wireless - pay attention! :-P



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Humor | Random Stuff
Friday, June 11, 2004 7:56:21 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, June 10, 2004

Open-Source and Linux OS aficionados of the greater Portland metro area, rejoice! It appears that Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, is moving to Portland after his kids finish school in California next week.

He'll be overseeing the Open Source Development Labs in Beaverton.

OSDL - home to Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux - is dedicated to accelerating the growth and adoption of Linux in the enterprise.

Very cool.



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Tech
Thursday, June 10, 2004 10:09:12 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Microsoft has published online chapters from the SharePoint Products and Technologies Resource Kit, which was just released in book form. Good chapters here it appears, and the printed book of course comes with a companion CD-ROM, which includes a fully searchable eBook along with tools, scripts, and other useful items for SharePoint developers and implementers.

One example of useful tools (I was told the other day by a Microsoft employee who works on SharePoint in the field) is a tool to deal with ghost files. Avner Kashtan just posted about that exact problem. Hopefully the resource kit will provide him and everyone else dealing with WSS and Portal Server beyond an out-of-the-box implementation with the documentation and tools that SharePoint technologies have been sorely in need of since they hit the market a few years ago.

Also, Bill Simser, a SharePoint MVP in Alberta, Canada, is looking for ideas to create some SharePoint apps that he will release to the community. Nice to get ideas from the people who might use the code.



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SharePoint | Tech
Thursday, June 10, 2004 6:38:55 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The final release of Windows Media Player 10 was done on September 2, 2004. Click here for more.

I recently posted about the Windows Media Player 10 technical beta release. Since I have seen a rather large number of search engine referrals from people looking for ways to uninstall the software (it may not be very friendly in that area, but what can you expect from a tech beta...) I thought I would post a quick update. As far as my experience with uninstalling, I was able to do a system restore and successfully revert back to WMP9 (some have said this did not work for them - but that was not my experience). As far as I can tell, system restore is the only real way to roll back from Win Media 10 (Click Start-All Programs-Accessories-System Tools-System Restore. Note that you need to restore to a point *before* the one where that shows you installed Media Player 10.)

Note: Judging by the number of search referrers from Google and Yahoo that point to this entry with “uninstall windows media player 10” in the referrer address, here is a starting point that hopefully will help - but the linked pages are not my advice, and I make no warranty of any kind:

Support Newsgroups at Microsoft for Windows Media Player 10 Beta
Thread:
Uninstalling 10 to 9
Thread: Can't use/uninstall WMP10

Who would have thought my web log entry would be first on Google for that phrase? Crazy...

And a quick (not quite as helpful) note to people who installed and are having problems: This is beta software, blatantly labeled as such, so a bug-free experience should be the exception, not the rule. In other words, no surprise whatsoever that it's glitchy. That said, please use the newsgroup link above and post your issues with helpful and descriptive language. Remember the newsgroups are for getting help and reporting problems, so don't flame, but be complete in the info you provide. For a list of the information you should provide, look here. Help make the next version better - earn your whining privilege. ;-)

Lots of opinions out there about the interface changes and - surprise surprise - lots of people whining about why the beta release isn't perfect. My opinion is that the interface changes are a step in the right direction. It's just easier to use.



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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Wednesday, June 09, 2004 8:32:01 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Hmmmmm, a very cool new “keyboard” is out (well, or maybe not out since it shows to be out-of-stock, but it’s at least available to buy).  The Virtual Keyboard, to be exact. From the product description:

The Virtual Laser Keyboard leverages the power of laser and infrared technology and projects a full-size keyboard onto any flat surface. Compatible with Palm handhelds with Palm Universal Connector, iPAQ Pocket PCs h19/22/38/39/41/43/5000 series, Sony Clie handhelds and desktop and laptop PCs. As you type on the laser projection; it analyzes what you're typing by the coordinates of that location.

Unlike many small snap-on keyboards for PDAs, the Virtual Laser Keyboard provides a full-size QWERTY keyboard. It is also smaller and more convenient to use than the folding-type keyboards made by some manufacturers and similar to them in functionality.

There are no mechanical moving parts whatsoever in the Virtual Laser Keyboard. It provides a projected image that is the perfect portable input device for PDAs. It's similar in responsiveness to regular keyboards, but extremely futuristic looking.

(via ComputerZen)



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Random Stuff | Tech
Wednesday, June 09, 2004 4:12:12 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, June 08, 2004

TechNet's security team has just announced the first version of an RSS feed for its security bulletins.

Finally! There's lots of RSS feeds out there, many of them useful, but this one just got added to my high-priority list. The format is perfect - a headline with the MS-code, description, and update number folowed by a complete description of the update. Anyone responsible - even remotely - for security patching needs this to subscribe.



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IT Security | RSS Stuff | Tech
Tuesday, June 08, 2004 8:57:57 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, June 07, 2004

The Blogosphere just got a whole new solar system. Sun Microsystems has turned on employee-written blogs for the outside world to read.

What's the slant, the position, the purpose, the goal? None, apparently:

“This space is accessible to any Sun employee to write about anything.”

Woah. Cool.



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Blogging | Tech
Sunday, June 06, 2004 11:04:44 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Sunday, June 06, 2004

“Here's a yet-to-be-posted Channel9 video, where Susan Cameron, of the Tablet PC team, gives a tour of the Tablet PC.” (via Scobelizer)

What is not mentioned directly in Scoble's blog entry, but is of great interest to many I am sure, is that the functionality being shown in this video is all-new in the yet-to-be released version of Windows XP Tablet PC Edition - presently code-named Lonestar and a part of Windows XP SP2. Essentially, when you apply SP2 to the Tablet PC OS (when it's available later this summer), you'll get all the new tablet functionality as well as the regular service pack stuff.

And referring to the greatly reduced need to use the physical keyboard with the new TIP (Tablet Input Panel) as mentioned in the video, I can vouch for the fact that there's a huge difference there. I hardly ever have to switch over to the keyboard with the new TIP capabilities and improved accuracy. Sweet stuff.



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Tablet PC | Tech
Sunday, June 06, 2004 10:54:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Charles Maxson has lifted my spirits, hit the nail on the head so to speak. Says Charles, “I spell like siht.” Amen brother, join the crowd - although my problem is not actually spelling per se, it's typing.

You see, I typ elike siht.

See?

My method of key-pressing is what you might call the Modified Greg HUghes Hunt and Peck Method (with the misplaced capitalization left as an intentional part of the name, simply to remind us that it's an imperfect method).

I have worked in journalism, as a police officer, and as a computer geek of various sorts. All of these jobs required me to type - a lot. I just never learned how to type “The Right Way.”

But hey - as far as I'm concerned, so what. That's what spell check is for. I use grammar well, can write my way out of a box whenever needed, and am often leaned upon to help clean up writing that needs to be disseminated to large numbers of people.

But still, I type with four fingers, hit the space bar with one thumb, use only one of the available shift keys with a fifth finger (and that's all that finger does), and I lean heavilly on spell check to help correct my typing rather than my spelling.

And Charles - I'm with ya bro' - add spell check to IM, and I might even start to look smart. Taht woudl be ccol. ;-)



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Random Stuff | Tech
Sunday, June 06, 2004 10:32:37 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, June 04, 2004

My boss, Chris, posted a web-log entry that had me laughing out loud, so I thought I'd share. Check his site for “Thank you for calling the United States Army,” the official (not) voice mail message of the US Army.

    • If your crisis is small, and close to the sea, press 1 for the United States Marine Corps.
    • If your concern is distant, with a temperate climate and good hotels, and can be solved by one or two low risk, high altitude bombing runs, please press 2 for the United States Air Force.  Please note this service is not available after 1630 hours, or on weekends.

Read the whole thing here.



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Humor
Friday, June 04, 2004 7:48:44 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Don't know why for sure, but I've been on this random kick recently about The Ultimate Answer and all that. Of course, we all know the answer, and how it was discovered:

 ultimate_answer_t deep_thought(void)
{
        sleep(years2secs(7500000));
return 42;
}

The real question is, what was the question?

And that's the hard part.

“I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you've never actually known what the question is.”

If it takes seven and a half million years of Deep Thought to answer the question, but we don't know the question, then what do we do next?

It's all quite mind-boggling. Certainly does not invoke a feeling of infinite majesty and calm.

Who am I? What is my purpose in life? Does it really, cosmically speaking, matter if I don't get up and go to work?

Is that the question??? What is the question?

"Exactly! So once you do know what the question actually is, you'll know what the answer means."

ARGH!

In reality, I have been doing a bit of deep thought of my own, trying to decide what I am meant to do, what it is I am supposed to be doing with my life (assuming I am supposed to be doing anything). Through a series of trials, successes, tribulations and challenges - some random and some not - I've ended up in a place in life that I never would have predicted. I'm not complaining, mind you, just wondering what's in store, what's next, why, stuff like that. Seems like something's missing, and while I have guesses about what that “something” might be, it's hard to put my finger on it for certain.

Maybe I need to play a long game of Scrabble.



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Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Friday, June 04, 2004 7:04:27 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Makes you wonder about which industry should be considering an IPO...

According to Hitwise, during the week of May 29th, 18.8% of U.S. Web visits were to 'adult' sites and 5.5% were to top search engines. Says CNN-Money: “Porn 3X more popular than searches.”

This could mean a lot of different things, but one thing's for sure: There's apparently a lot of people out there that I don't really understand. That, and excepting the fact that I have a soul and I value it greatly, it's obvious I am in the wrong business. :-P



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Random Stuff
Friday, June 04, 2004 5:40:06 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

I've been installing and testing builds of Windows XP SP2 for a while now, and while I should and will not go into any real detail about that here, let's just say I had a need to use a command-line switch on the installer for the latest version yesterday, but it didn't quite do what I needed/expected.

I mentioned that fact to my friend Travis, who came up with some ideas for command line switches that he says should be applied to all products.



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Humor | Tech
Friday, June 04, 2004 2:12:55 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, June 03, 2004

Checking in on the industry between calls, found this news item from yesterday, related to Microsoft's security “tour” program they running right now:

Discussing how some have tried to position security efforts as potentially beneficial to the bottom line, Microsoft chief security officer Scott Charney admitted he was cynical. "Security is a cost center. If there were no attacks, no one would bother," he told a few hundred IT professionals at the event.

So true. Sure, beefing up security is important, required, beneficial and prudent in this day and age. But the fact of the manner is if there was no pain, we would not be spending big bucks in this area.

It's also worth noting that - in reality - a relatively small amount of preventative planning in this area today can save huge numbers of reactive dollars tomorrow and after. Security budgets are important. They may look expensive to some, but when you consider the potential costs on not preventing problems, the downside could be very costly, indeed.



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IT Security | Tech
Thursday, June 03, 2004 8:39:25 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

< Cue cheesy commercial music >

This dad did it on eBay.
(PDF available for when the original exprires).

I had to laugh at this one when I saw it, but at the same time I was rooting this guy on and mentally wishing him the best from afar. I know this dad is dealing with something serious.

“SO CHILDREN LISTEN UP DO NOT DISRESPECT YOUR PARENTS YOUR FRIENDS OR YOURSELF BECAUSE US PARENTS ARE SMARTER THAN YOU AND WE WILL FIND OUT ABOUT ANY AND ALL THINGS YOU TRY TO HIDE.”

Heheh... He's certainly being creative and making what sounds like a serious point. At least one father out there who's willing to punish his 13-year-old son for misbehavior that matters (a lot) in the kid's present and future life. Hopefully this is just the beginning of the additional parental attention for that kid.

Father's Day season doesn't always need to be happy - it does needs to be real.

Thanks to Dave for the link.



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Humor | Random Stuff
Thursday, June 03, 2004 7:34:27 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Have you heard about Windows Automotive? It's for real.

Chris Sells says: “Microsoft Car .NET -- If the reality is anything like the concept videos, I want it!”

Yeah, cool stuff. A lot of what Microsoft's put into their Office of the Future concept system up in Redmond (which anyone who ever gets the invitation should check out). But I could not help but think that if the guy was not spending so much time with his computer in the first place, he might have remembered to pick up his daughter on his own...



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Tech
Wednesday, June 02, 2004 11:17:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, June 02, 2004

The United States Patent and Trademark Office never ceases to amaze. Working as an intellectual property litigation attorney will be the biggest, fattest, most lucrative cash cow of a position of the next ten years, mark my words. Here's why:

According to a bunch of people on the Internet (here's one), it looks like Microsoft has patented the double-click. No joke. Wow.

Now, I'm a Microsoft fan, and I make no qualms about saying so - but this is going a little far, isn't it? I mean, this is amazing, really (and it has to be true, it's on the freakin' Internet!) Probably most shocking thing about it is that the patent was granted within the past month or two.

Or is it really that big of a deal???

Articles have been posted on the Internet, predictably describing this as a completely out of control situation. But, when you read the patent, it's not exactly as some might have you believe. In reality:

  • The patent is primarily related to hand-held devices (I'd feel a little better if it was limited to handheld devices, though).
  • The patent application states that the invention “relates generally to computer systems, and more particularly to increasing the functionality of application buttons on a limited resource computing device.”
  • It describes the way an application or the OS on the device determines what kind of soft-key press has occurred, generally short, long, or multi-press events.
  • From the patent: “As those skilled in the art will appreciate from the following description, while the invention is ideally suited for incorporation in a palm-type computing device and is described in such a device, the invention can be incorporated in other limited resource devices and systems, for example mobile devices such as pagers and telephones.”

Okay, so while it may be a little surprising, it's hard to say this is truly a patent on the use of the double-click action in any computing application. But it is pretty broad-reaching, and as always open to interpretation and challenge. Which gets expensive, every time it has to be litigated or challenged (see “cash cow,” above). Especially for smaller companies without major corporate resources.

And Microsoft has made no secret of it's position that there are thing it's invented (or at least claims to have invented) and for which it's recently been issued patents. The FAT file system and ClearType technologies are two recent examples, and Microsoft (some would say rightfully) has also stated publicly that it intends to pursue completion of patents to protect and increase its earnings. And even though it's a big company with big profits, that's no reason to start yelling about how they already make too much money. Whether it's the first dollar earned or the trillionth, it's not about how much, it's about who's idea it was in the first place. If Microsoft can't own ideas that are truly theirs, neither can Apple, IBM, my employer, or anyone else - whether they be big, small, corporation, or individual.

But hey - you don't really need Microsoft to be amazed. All we seem to need is the U.S. Government Patent and Trademark Office. At least recently.

Well, there is one positive thing to take away from all this: If it makes you smile, it's at least a little bit good for you (even if you do shake your head at the same time). :-)



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Random Stuff | Tech | Things that Suck
Wednesday, June 02, 2004 9:32:48 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

The final release of Windows Media Player 10 was done on September 2, 2004. Click here for more.

Note: Judging by the number of search referrers from Google and Yahoo that point to this entry with “uninstall windows media player 10” in the referrer address, here is a starting point that hopefully will help - but the linked pages are not my advice, and I make no warranty of any kind:

Support Newsgroups at Microsoft for Windows Media Player 10 Beta
Thread: Uninstalling 10 to 9
Thread: Can't use/uninstall WMP10

Who would have thought my web log entry would be first on Google for that phrase? Crazy...

And a quick (not quite as helpful) note to people who installed and are having problems: This is beta software, blatantly labeled as such, so a bug-free experience should be the exception, not the rule. In other words, no surprise whatsoever that it's glitchy. That said, please use the newsgroup link above and post your issues with helpful and descriptive language. Remember the newsgroups are for getting help and reporting problems, so don't flame, but be complete in the info you provide. For a list of the information you should provide, look here. Help make the next version better - earn your whining privilege. ;-)

Microsoft today announced the technical beta of Windows Media Player 10. Anyone can download and give it a whirl, so long as you're running Windows XP.

Just keep in mind, it's beta software, and so your mileage may vary, especially if you need to uninstall or roll back and use protected media files, so player beware. Be sure to read the release notes before you install. Miracle of miracles, and something I have noticed we are seeing more and more often, thank goodness: No reboot required!

Looks like end-to-end media usability, from file to device synchronization, is the goal here. They're playing up advanced support for a big variety of media devices, which is to be expected after all the announcements recently about media-anywhere products.

I did get a broken image in the UI, and the streaming appears to be a WinMedia v9 experience. I noted tabs in the player named “Rip” and “Burn,” and direct support for these. In fact, everything is generally well laid out and easy to find, which is nice.

The interface is sleeker and easier to get around in. It was nice to fire it up and not have to download the funky HTML content on a “Guide” page - by default it started in the “Now Playing” (play-list) mode. Cool.

I don't do a lot of online media purchasing yet, but there's built-in support for online stores (presently there are links to Napster and CinemaNow.com). In the player, a static page describes a new “digital media mall” concept, where a variety of stores will be available to download, stream, rent or purchase media content.



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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Wednesday, June 02, 2004 9:05:45 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Web Search Power ToolSomeone I know got third place in a Power-tool/toy coding contest for Tablet PC ink apps with a cool little application he wrote in 17 minutes last fall. The Web Search Power Tool, which allows to to hand-write a search phrase and then submit it to any of four search engines, is pretty useful actually, if you use ink a lot.

Second place is interesting, but not really all that up my alley - it's a nifty pressure-sensitive ink app called PowerPaint, check it out if you're into weird funky electronic drawing.

The first place winner is sweet. Create your own True-Type font in your own handwriting with the My Own Font tool. In less than 5 minutes I created, compiled and installed a Greg_Hughes custom handwritten font on my Tablet (by the way, you can use the generated font on any Windows computer - it's just another TTF font).

See a complete and well-done review of the tools at TabulaPC. Downloads also available at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/tabletpc.mspx.



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Tablet PC | Tech
Wednesday, June 02, 2004 8:07:42 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, June 01, 2004

I can't imagine there are many people who care about my pain and suffering, but for the few that do and who have asked me to show pictures, here is a followup to my first spinal injection post from a few weeks ago.

And this time there's pictures! (Click on the image for more detail and pictures from the scene of the crime with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one to be used as evidence against... Oops, never mind. The red arrows point to the inserted needles.)

I went back in this morning and had a second round of injections done, only this time I skipped the IV pain killers and anesthesia/relaxation stuff. Last time they gave me this stuff that made me all calm, and a bit groggy. It's not that I wanted to avoid that medication this time, it's just that the nurse couldn't get an IV stick in me successfully. After a few painful attempts at finding a vain (I had not had enough liquids the day before and could not drink anything this morning before the procedure), we gave up and I decided I'd endure the pain of the procedure over the pain of he failed IV sticks.

That turned out to be a good idea.

My doctor's a funny guy. When he heard I was not getting the IV drugs, he paused for a second or two, said, “Well ohhhhhkayyyy then,” and started in. Yeah, it was more painful, but all in all not too bad.

The picture above is from the procedure, where they stick a needle down in my spinal column, about 3 inches, into in the epidural space where he injected a “nerve block” and some cortisone steroid stuff, which will reduce the inflammation and hopefully solve my problem of not being able to carry the weight of my body on my own two feet from time to time. Either that or figure out something else, but this is the first step (after trying medication and physical therapy - the first invasive step, you could call it).

For anyone who's avoided procedures to help with back injuries or degeneration (I have a herniated and degenerated disk), let me tell you this: You can get some relief (in some cases complete relief I am told). While my pain returned (I was told it probably would), and I have to go through this second round, the freedom from pain when you get it is worthwhile. I did not realize how much pain I was in until it was gone. Kind of like beating your head against a wall, as they say: It feels so much better when you stop.

Anyhow, totally non-tech, and so now we return you to your regularly scheduled blogram...



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Kineflex Artificial Disc Surgery | Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Tuesday, June 01, 2004 5:32:47 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Need to figure out how to automagically ping this site's XML-RPC interface (rpc.pingomatic.com) on all new dasBlog posts. One ping to them results in 12 pings to various other listings. That could speed some things up. Kewl...

http://wordpress.org/development/archives/2004/05/23/pingomatic-and-site/

dasBlog lets me ping Weblogs.com and blo.gs on update, but at first glance I don't see anywhere that I can specify other services to ping - so will need to look into this.



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Blogging | Tech
Monday, May 31, 2004 11:07:06 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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