Sunday, October 24, 2004

I have to say, as someone who was just searched under a special screening procedure at the PDX airport, I'm glad the TSA is doing things the way it's doing them.

I'm a single passenger, with a one-way ticket to the middle of the Pacific Ocean, who changed his flight at the very last minute yesterday. So I got flagged.

Good.

I feel safer knowing that I was searched and singled out. Not because of who I am, but because of the situaion I created by choice.

After the special screening, not knowing why I had been singled out (and being the curious person that I am), I asked one of the TSA employees if the decision to search me was just random (at that point I assumed it was). She told me that no, it's not really random, and that's when I realized the profile/pattern I fit into.

And the Hawaiian Airlines gate person just called my name and inspected my paperwork to verify I had been properly screened.

I'm glad someone's paying attention.


--------------------
Greg Hughes



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Personal Stories
Sunday, October 24, 2004 7:28:50 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Saturday, October 23, 2004

Your future will be decided on November 2. Be part of the decision, no matter what sides of any fences you fall on...

Ballots have been sent to all Oregon voters. Fill yours out. Return it. It's important.

You can't afford not to. We're not just checking boxes. We're deciding issues, left and right, conservative and liberal, change or stay put. Suit up and show up. Make your statement, make it yours, and make it well.

People far better than you or me have died for your right to cast your ballot. There's no reason that you shouldn't be able to make the effort to do so.

I voted. I did my part. Now you go.


(borrowed and modified from other weblogs that also urge you to do your part and vote)

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Random Stuff
Saturday, October 23, 2004 9:31:57 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

And I thought I was pretty geeky with a Tablet PC sitting on the seat and a radio transmitter for audio on the radio... My PC-in-the-car setup 's got nothin' on what J.P. Stewart's doing...

A bunch of Microsoft employees have started a club to pursue their common hobby, as car enthusiasts, where they're building computer equipment into their automobiles. Channel 9's Robert Scoble interviewed one of those employees, J.P. Stewart, on video, and took a close look at what he's done with his ride:

Link: Channel 9 - J.P. Stewart - A new hobby: putting Windows XP in your car

Low-power computers (Mini-ITX style) in the trunk and mini touch-screens in the cab, all built in and custom fit, make for a really cool setup.

DVD, Windows XP, WiFi, GPS, sound system integration through the CD changer control, USB digital sound, and lots of cool stuff. A portable USB 2.0 hard drive moves from car to home or office and allows you to copy files like music and stuff. Or use the WiFi to copy/sync music from the driveway while you're at your home.

Some of J.P.'s goals, now and future: GPS with Streets and Trips (done), Media Player for music (done), Internet always on everywhere (will be using TMobile Motorola phone with Bluetooth, and the computer will use it as its network connection).

And he says he has less than $1000 into the computer equipment, and some uncounted number of hours of his time. Wow. Very cool stuff.



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Geek Out | Mobile | Tech
Saturday, October 23, 2004 9:10:55 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

at&T wireless logocingular logo

It looks as if the Cingular/AT&T Wireless merger will be approved on Monday. This means big changes for AT&T Wireless customers, so be sure to do your research. Already many medium-size business accounts have been bounced around as this thing starts to happen.

From Engadget: "...the big question is whether or not the shrinking of the cellular market from six major players to five will lead to significantly cheaper prices for calling plans and cellphones."

Yeah, and then there's the concern that ATTWS customers already suffering from lackluster service will be even worse off.

We'll see.



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Tech
Saturday, October 23, 2004 5:27:29 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Carl Franklin wrote some thoughtful commentary about a weblog post by Scott Hanselman on the subject of podcasting. Then Dave Winer commented on Carl's post. Rory follows up with a far-reaching examination of the arguments.

Updates:

It's an interesting conversation, and one well worth having.

I have been listening to podcasts for weeks now, and to MP3 audio shows since before the term "podcast" was coined. I still don't really like the term, but anyhow... Airplanes are a place I find them most useful - but they have not completely replaced my drive-time commute, which totals about 2 hours a day, because the content quality just isn't there for me yet, with a couple of notable exceptions. I do get a certain amount of enjoyment from podcasts - from some of them, anyhow. Mostly by people you probably never heard of. I really don't have a need or desire to listen to "experts" in go on and on and on and on and on and on about how podcasting just changed the world. A medium that talks about itself feels a lot like MLM. It can't last forever. You wanna talk about the technology your using, make it useful for me - make the time I spend listening to you really, truly worthwhile. It's the content people, CONTENT!

Another thing, about the concept that podcasting will replace/kill radio as we know it - I am not convinced on that one yet. I don't have to think about my radio. It's always there and just turns on and works. No sync, no charging, no programming - just on and off. Therefore I use it. More work than that and it loses some of its utility. They said TV would replace radio. It didn't. In fact, it just made radio bigger. We shouldn't be trying to kill something - we should be trying to create something new. There is a difference.

And regardless of what Dave says, or whether he was involved in creating PowerPoint, and despite a number of other inflammatory things I could pull from his comment on Carl's post and react to, but wont... Scott is most definitely *not* an opponent of technological progress, so use of the term "Luddite" is - well - misplaced at best and flat out mean at worst.

One thing's for sure: It's not at all a useful label in this case. I could use certain blanket terms to describe Dave's words and actions in a variety of situations, and while they may be accurate in terms of one or two things he has said or done in the past, they would not really describe him in whole. It would be wrong of me to call names, so I won't. I wish Dave wouldn't. It takes away from the conversation, and Scott is one person I listen to with great regard for making very complicated things work in the real world.

I don't think Scott was implying (as Dave seems to state) that podcasting was a replacement for PowerPoint. He was using PowerPoint as a metaphor, to show how both technologies - in his opinion - tend to fail to meet their own goals, for man of the same reasons.

Scott originally said, about Podcasting:

 - Clever, yes.
 - Interesting, yes.
 - A new kind of media? Maybe.
 - Useful? Not to me.

Then he points out that using XML to point to multi-megabyte files is contradictory to certain vocal arguments made in the community of late. That's another valid point.

He also correctly points out that the the medium does not lend itself to skimming, browsing or efficient dissemination of multiple pieces of information.

I agree with that position. The people who are making the most noise about this new stuff are people who seem to have plenty of time to record podcasts and to listen to all the regulars. It's a technology that will - by it's very nature - limit the number of people we can listen to and communicate with. It also tends to be a lot more one-way than blogging. Podcasting is not blogging, it's not radio, it's not even broadcasting in reality. But it is cool, and it does have potential. Where it goes we don't know - Rarely does an experiment turn out just the way the founding fathers intended, you know.

Scott has a good point. Carl has a good counterpoint. Dave kind of missed the point but hurled a good insult (good only if you're the one doing the hurling, anyhow). Rory did a great job of taking a good, long step back and covering the bases.

All are very smart guys with great ideas and technological innovation in their pasts.

Pointing out the problems with a technology does not make one a Luddite. Telling people to wait and see before they speak actually just delays technological progress. Hmmmm... Deeelaaayyyys techhhnoloooogicalll progrrressss.... Yeahhh.....

Open, informed, honest discussions are good. Names and insults don't help.

So that's all nice, and yeah discussion is important. But what about podcasting?

What Rory said:

"Just walk away with this: Podcasting is serious Power to the People technology, and we should be excited about that."

Most importantly (I think), here is my pre-emptive thought: Keep the conversation open. Let people comment openly - good, bad or otherwise - and use the information to do things better, and to shape this experiment into something great. If someone counters your position, listen to them. No one person or group owns it. Everyone owns it. Some will innovate, but all should lead. Don't ruin a good thing with politics and personalities.



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AudioBlogging | RSS Stuff | Tech
Saturday, October 23, 2004 4:37:05 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, October 21, 2004

Interstingly, Engadget just posted a review of the Bose SoundDock, and concluded it costs too much:

“We like its looks, but $300 is just a bit too pricy for us, especially without stereo separation greater than three feet and no other audio inputs besides the iPod connector. Next!”

What's so interesting about that? Well, it also happens to be the single item they're advertising for sale the past several days in their RSS feed...

Editorial freedom, or just another oopsie?



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Random Stuff | Tech
Thursday, October 21, 2004 9:49:43 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, October 20, 2004

AnandTech has a review of Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, that - well - tops all the other reviews for word count, clarity and how deep they get into the software. If you're at all interested in learning about this version of the Windows XP operating system, check out the 17 pages of detail, detail, detail:

http://www.anandtech.com/multimedia/showdoc.aspx?i=2240

(from digitalmediathoughts.com)



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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Wednesday, October 20, 2004 7:45:34 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Saw this coming, had a discussion with a colleague this morning about it, and Security Pipeline has an article about it.

Google's desktop search (in public beta) indexes local machine content to let you search though it and quickly find stuff on your computer.

Problem is, it might let others find and read your stuff if your computer is used by anyone other than you. Hmmm. Details...

From the article:

If you're the computer's only user, the software is helpful "as a photographic memory of everything you've seen on the computer," said Marissa Mayer, director of consumer Web products at Google Inc. The giant index remains on the computer and isn't shared with Google. The company can't access it remotely even if it gets a subpoena ordering it to do so, Mayer said.

Where the privacy and security concerns arise is when the computer is shared.

Type in "hotmail.com" and you'll get copies, or stored caches, of messages that previous users have seen. Enter an e-mail address and you can read all the messages sent to and from that address. Type "password" and get password reminders that were sent back via e-mail.

Acknowledging the concerns, Mayer said managers of shared computers should think twice about installing the software until Google develops advanced features like password protection and multi-user support.



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IT Security | Tech
Tuesday, October 19, 2004 10:18:42 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Integrated instant messaging that extends its presence and person information to other products, and which reaches outside itself to integrate with other communication products, is on the way. This is a big part of Microsoft's move into the VOIP world.

From Microsoft Monitor:

Earlier today, Microsoft announced the new Office messaging client, codename Istanbul, which is scheduled to ship first half 2005.

Through Istanbul Microsoft plans to bring disparate messaging capabilities, such as IM and telephony, right into Office. To get there Microsoft will deliver new identification capabilities to its server products and the hybrid 'Live Communications' IM client.

Istanbul is yet another Microsoft effort to pull technologies into Office and so extend the suite’s utility. Remember that address book, calendar and e-mail features existed in separate products before Microsoft brought them into Office through Outlook, which hooked into Exchange Server. The Live Communications Client will bring IM, telephony and identity services into Office, but, again, connected to a server product.



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Tech
Tuesday, October 19, 2004 10:00:08 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

I'll be going on vacation this coming weekend for a week plus a couple additional days. I'll be able to post the details when I get back, but for now let's just say it's going to be a very, very different kind of vacation, and I am definitely looking forward to the experience. That 5GB Seagate CF-II hard drive that I ripped out of the Rio Carbon MP3 player is finally going to get its real workout in my digital camera.

   



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Personal Stories
Monday, October 18, 2004 11:10:08 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, October 18, 2004

Microsoft has released Virtual PC 2004 Service Pack One. If you're using VPC2004, you'll want to review, download and likely apply this update.

Lots of fixes and improvements in this service pack, so be sure to take a look.

More information about the service pack from the Microsoft site:

SP1 also includes the following additional software updates

  • A new Virtual Disk Precompactor. A utility that is designed to "zero out"—that is, overwrite with zeros—any available blank space on a virtual hard disk.

  • Updated version of Virtual Machine Additions.

  • Update to support TCP segmentation offloading. Prior to SP1, if TCP Segmentation Offloading was activated, some virtual networking features would not function correctly. With SP1, if your physical network adapter supports TCP segmentation offloading, you can activate TCP segmentation offloading, and virtual networking will function correctly.

  • Update to support Group Policy Software Installation. For more information about Group Policy Software Installation, see Help and Support Center in your Microsoft Windows Server 2003 operating system.

  • Update to change the default performance option from Give processes on the host system priority to Run Virtual PC at maximum speed.

  • The hotfix described in article 833506, which describes how Virtual PC 2004 may stop responding when a virtual machine is started, in the Microsoft Knowledge Base.

Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 Service Pack 1 (SP1) contains the latest software updates for Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 that improve the reliability, performance and manageability of Virtual PC. Updates have been made to improve the performance of Windows XP Service Pack 2 as a guest in Virtual PC, to improve the manageability of virtual machines when used with SMS 2003 Service Pack 1, and to provide support for running Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition as the host operating system.

Some of the fixes included with SP1 have been previously released as separate updates. This service pack combines them into one update.

Important: You must shut down or turn off all guest operating systems before installing SP1. This ensures that there are no virtual machines in a saved state. This is important because saved states are not compatible between SP1 and all previous versions of Virtual PC 2004.

Service Pack 1 includes an updated version of Virtual Machine Additions. You should update the version of Virtual Machine Additions on all virtual machines where Virtual Machine Additions is installed. For more information, see "Installing Virtual Machine Additions" in Virtual PC Help.



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Tech
Monday, October 18, 2004 8:49:53 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

In a well-written and well-argued article on Security Pipeline, Mitch Wagner tells us the story of the little pigs and their houses of straw and brick, and then draws from the story to illustrate the state of Internet security, stating:

"The preceding has been a fairy tale with no bearing on the current state of Internet security."

Except that it really does. Have a bearing, that is.

Wagner's analysis of the arguments on both sides of the browser wars is interesting and well-explained.

Secure coding and design wins the argument every time - with regard to secure applications, that is. Of course, functionality, usability and other aspects of computer programs have to come into play and be taken into account, as well. But ultimately, the structural materials with which you build your house (be it brick or straw) determine whether you'll survive the hurricane. Or the wolves....

The little pig's big brother said, "Dude, you can't blow down a brick house. Brick is fundamentally more resistant to huffing and puffing."

Good point, Mitch.



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IT Security
Monday, October 18, 2004 7:32:45 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Microsoft has published 2005 calendar templates for Word, Excel, FrontPage and PowerPoint:

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/CT011371131033.aspx



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Office 2003
Monday, October 18, 2004 6:59:51 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Saturday, October 16, 2004

 

Greg Hughes says :   22:18:30
i went to the apple store tonight

Eric Rice says :         22:18:34
yeah?

Eric Rice says :         22:18:40
felt good, didnt it?

Greg Hughes says :   22:18:41
the prices are fixed?

Eric Rice says :         22:18:44
yup

Greg Hughes says :   22:18:48
hahahha yeah they are nice machines

Eric Rice says :         22:18:56
you touched them too

Eric Rice says :         22:19:00
in a naughty way i bet

Greg Hughes says :   22:19:04
i thought i would not like the new imac g5 but really they are pretty nice

Eric Rice says :         22:19:06
'wow this is sleek'

Greg Hughes says :   22:19:10
LOL

Eric Rice says :         22:19:13
YOU DID

Eric Rice says :         22:19:14
hahahaha

It must be the Devil. It has to be. It's the only reasonable explanation I can think of.

I confess: I've been seriously considering buying an Apple computer for a few weeks now - Probably a PowerBook G4, if I ever actually get to the point where I break down and make the switch.

Why? Well, there are certain things the Mac does very well, and certain pieces of software that are available only on that platform. Software that I want and need. Well-made software that just works. Hardware that fits together well.

At GnomeDex there were a gazillion PowerBooks around. Eric Rice uses one and I got to see it in action. I got jealous quickly. It was really quite pathetic.

So - If someone can help me find a good Windows-based alternative, for example, to GarageBand on the Mac, I'm all ears. I mean, If I can keep from spending money on a whole new computer just to solve a few "problems," that's more than fine with me.

But dude, Apple has this way of making things that just work.

If I really need to, I know I could run Windows XP on the Mac inside of MS VirtualPC. Nothing is impossible. But hey - why can't I run Mac OS X on a PC in a virtual machine? Anyone? Seems kinda one-sided, or maybe it can be done I and I just don't know it... Time to look for PPC/Mac emulators that run on Windows?

But it's not just the software. Don't tell anyone, but I spent most of this evening at CompUSA in the Mac section, and then over at the Apple Store at the mall. Their hardware is very well done. I even like the new iMac G5, very cool.

I must be going insane. Apple??? Either that, or maybe I'm actually having a breakthrough and coming back to reality.

I wish I could tell which it is.



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Random Stuff | Tech
Saturday, October 16, 2004 10:15:06 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
"podcasting redefined radio...
... Doppler redefined podcasting"

In this amazingly fast-growing (like, really fast) phenomenon called podcasting (yes, I am willing to use the terms phenomenon and podcasting when discussing this, even if I don't particularly like the name), it's hard to always know which way is up. So, it's also hard to know where to go and what to do with all this stuff, both as a content creator and a consumer/end user of podcasts.

Heck, it's difficult enough just to explain to people what podcasting is, let alone how it works. Of course, it's early in this experiment, and we'll certainly have to improve things from the usability standpoint. But still, it's truly amazing what's happened in the past month or so in this portion of the universe.

Enter Doppler [http://www.dopplerradio.net/], a client program that runs on Windows and raises the bar in terms of making it easier for the end user to subscribe to podcasts without too much hassle. In other words, this is just the kind of thought and change that needs to happen to make podcasting a mainstream application. As a community we're not there yet, but with ideas like this and a few people to kick them out the door, we will be before too long.

The best part is, it just works. It makes subscribing to podcasts easier. It makes sense to use. It makes life simpler.

Features

  • Doppler is designed for the Windows platform
  • Drag and drop a URL onto Doppler
  • Scheduled interval to retrieve feeds
  • Specify the numer of files to download
  • Restrict the allowable size of downloads
  • Filter your items by text
  • Possibility to run in minimized mode
  • Import and export of OPML files

Doppler is an aggregator that downloads podcasts based on RSS feeds, and lets you listen to it the way you want it, whenever you like it, on the device of your choice. Doppler has been developed using the latest Microsoft .NET technology and is available as a small download sizing less than 500 KB.

And Doppler has been alive for something like, oh, three days. And work continues on adding features and shoring it up as we speak type. Or maybe it is speak. Oof...

Go download it and try it out.



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RSS Stuff | Tech
Saturday, October 16, 2004 2:47:12 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Among the many, many new Media Center PC news items to hit the street this past week, I forgot to mention one that has had me all excited ever since it was first mentioned some time ago: The Media Center Extender for Xbox.

I'm in the process building a Media Center Dev Machine so I can work on a few tech ideas I want to explore and try. Since I already have an XBOX, I will probably pick this title up and use it to set up part of my Media Center network at home. I just have to work out the details around tuning the satellite box and whether I am going to be able to get a decent Portland HDTV signal out here (and hence which capture device and tuner I'll use and whether I have to use one or two tuners).

The Xbox title is one of the Extender line (a set-top box is also available) that Microsoft is releasing with this new version of their media-centric operating system.

Information from xbox.com:

With a wired or wireless connection to the Media Center PC (sold separately), the Xbox console now allows you to enjoy the digital entertainment media from your PC when and how you want. The included remote control and IR receiver also support DVD movie playback. Just grab the remote, drop in the Media Center Extender DVD in your Xbox, and get ready for an entertainment revolution! A whole new world for your Xbox awaits …

  • Watch and record television shows.
  • Enjoy a free integrated TV Program Guide with no fees.
  • Access your Media Center PC’s digital media library music, videos, and pictures.
  • Stay connected with instant messaging and Xbox Live™.
  • Watch DVD movies.
  • Listen to FM and Internet radio.

Screen-shots are available at xbox.com:

Screenshot 1Screenshot 2Screenshot 3Screenshot 4
Screenshot 5Screenshot 6Screenshot 7



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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Saturday, October 16, 2004 11:17:41 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

 


Transcript Excerpts...
(the
full transcript is here)

BEGALA: Let me get this straight. If the indictment is -- if the indictment is -- and I have seen you say this -- that...

STEWART: Yes.

BEGALA: And that CROSSFIRE reduces everything, as I said in the intro, to left, right, black, white.

STEWART: Yes.

BEGALA: Well, it's because, see, we're a debate show.

STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great.

BEGALA: It's like saying The Weather Channel reduces everything to a storm front.

STEWART: I would love to see a debate show.

BEGALA: We're 30 minutes in a 24-hour day where we have each side on, as best we can get them, and have them fight it out.

STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great. To do a debate would be great. But that's like saying pro wrestling is a show about athletic competition.



CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.

STEWART: You need to go to one.


I don't exactly match up with Jon Stewart on political viewpoints, but ultimately that doesn't really matter. Regardless of whether I agree with him on all the issues, he became a hero to me the other day.

Because Jon Stewart gets it.

I mean, how pathetic has the world become when a self-proclaimed "fake-news" anchor from Comedy Central can appear on CNN's Crossfire and completely own the show (get the torrent video here), lecturing the anchors and effectively applying labels to them like "partisan hack." And the anchors push back and ask Stewart why he asks "soft" questions on his show?

Time to look in the mirror, uberjournalists.

Host Paul Begala understandably came off (relatively speaking) as the good guy on the CNN crew side, and Tucker Carlson, who really just gives a bad impression of many people with whom I tend to agree politically, came off as the "butt monkey."

It's not about politics, it's about the responsibility of journalists.

For the record, I went to college becasue I wanted to be a journalist, specifically a photojournalist. I worked in the media for seven years before changing careers. I met lots of good people and some real partisan hacks in the process. The fact of the matter is that there are a lot of people out there with strong political view who are smart enough to figure out early on that if they can get jobs in the media, they can communicate pretty much anything they want to "the people." Unfortunately almost everyone enters the world of journalism (meaning they enter J-school) at an age when beer, beer, more beer and idealism run rampant.

It's not exactly a level-headed, based-in-life-experience time for anyone at that age, socially or politically.

Unfortunately, some people never grow up. They just go on painting wide swaths, never really removing themselves from the situations to take an honest look. It becomes all about political positions, conflict as a selling point and seeing who can be the loudest, meanest or most controversial.

What they don't do is have a good conversation and look at the facts. They don't talk to people, they yell at them.

Unfortunately, apparently some people out there buy it, because they keep doing more of it. Which - well - sucks.

There are some out there in the media that talk about the real issues without trying to create them, and without becoming a part of the issues themselves. They are just fewer and farther between.

One thing's for sure: Setting all partisan views aside, we need more people like Jon Stewart to call the media on the carpet and tell it like it is, regardless of what party or side they support.

Oh, and a good laugh every now and then is fine with me, too.

BitTorrent Video Download:
Crossfire-20041015-John_Stewart--compressed.wmv.torrent (2.98 KB)



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Random Stuff
Saturday, October 16, 2004 10:24:10 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, October 15, 2004

Robert Scoble over at Microsoft got a look at prototypes for the next version of IE and commented:

Dean Hachamovitch the other day showed me prototypes of the next Internet Explorer. I got to see them before he even showed them to other executives. He told me I could say about that much (I wanted to post screen captures on my blog, but he turned down that request, bummer). I'll add in that if they ship about half of what they showed me that I'll uninstall Firefox. Of course, I'm guessing that...

Read more at Robert's blog



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Tech
Friday, October 15, 2004 7:30:54 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Careful what you say to your girlfriend, it might back-fire on ya. :-)


.--------------------------------------------------------------------.
| Session Start: Friday, October 15, 2004                            |
| Participants:                                                      |
|    Greg Hughes
                                                     |
|   
Dave                                   
                        |
.--------------------------------------------------------------------.
[01:06:01 AM]
Dave
: man im mean, girlfriend is having trouble
              with her pc, and i tell her its an id10t error and that
              they are quite common and shes like Oh no can you fix
              it?
[01:06:10 AM] Greg Hughes: hahahahah
[01:06:16 AM] Greg Hughes: heh
[01:06:42 AM]
Dave: i thought she knew what it ment

[01:10:47 AM]
Dave: havent the heart to tell her now
[01:12:54 AM] Greg Hughes: hehehe just dont let her read my blog :)


Don't worry, Dave - I'm sure she won't be reading this, so you're safe!



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Geek Out | Humor
Friday, October 15, 2004 12:11:38 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

YAPBE (Yet Another Political Bog Entry) (Well, ok - no position here, just something about the political contest)

I have been using two main web sites over and over again to check reality and the status of the current political race (which I am very interested in both from an issues standpoint as well as from the position of being a person who is quite interested in the mechanics of the political process).

Here they are - I recommend both highly:

The Electoral Vote Predictor at http://www.electoral-vote.com/ provides a look at where the electoral college appears to be on a daily basis, based on the latest polling data. The interactive map is cool, and I check this daily. [RSS 2.0 feed available here]

FactCheck.org (yes, we know it's not .com) is one of the greatest resources I have found for cutting through the crap and getting to the simple facts. They analyze the messages out of the campaigns and compare/contrast them to the evidentiary facts. Nice. And while the site don't actually have an RSS feed, I sponsored the creation of one for them, so subscribe to the feed at this link [RSS 2.0].



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Random Stuff
Friday, October 15, 2004 12:05:28 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, October 14, 2004

Peter over at Tabula PC has posted a list of Tablet PC resources - and quite an extensive and useful one at that.

Lots of great how-to stuff in this list. If you have a Tablet PC, be sure to check it out!



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Tablet PC | Tech
Thursday, October 14, 2004 10:03:07 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Jesper M. Johansson, Ph.D., ISSAP, CISSP is a Security Program Manager at Microsoft. The second part of his three-part article on the use of passwords vs. passphrases was recently published.

The Great Debates: Pass Phrases vs. Passwords

  • Part One - coveres the fundamentals of passwords and pass phrases, how they are stored, and so on
  • Part Two - discusses the relative strength of each type of password, and use some mathematical approaches for illustration
  • Part Three - offers some conclusions and guidance on how to choose passwords and configure a password policy

In this installment, he looks at three arguments for the use of pass-phrases:

  • Claim 1: Users Can Remember Pass Phrases
  • Claim 2: Longer is Stronger
  • Claim 3: Pass Phrases Can Have More Randomness

This is a great read, worth the time for anyone who works in the security field or in IT operations and security. I am looking forward to the third installment, as well. Jesper has a powerful way of cutting to the heart of the arguments and coming out the other end of the conversation with good facts in tow.



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IT Security | Tech
Thursday, October 14, 2004 12:56:49 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Every now and then a company comes along that Just Gets ItTM.

Google is one of those companies. I have been playing with the new Google Desktop Search beta application, which is a locally-installed program that indexes content on your local computer and allows you to search it, in-line with other Google searches.

It might take a minute to realize the utility of this. Bear with me. Then use it and see for yourself. This is (as Scott world say) pure sex.

Once you install Google Desktop, any Google search can then include your local desktop/machine search in-line, as shown above. You can also do a desktop-only search, and you can choose to disable the ability to show Desktop Search results on Google Web Search result pages. Google states that your personal search results and data are kept private from Google.

What can you index on your desktop machine? Google Desktop is able to index the following items so that you can search for them:

  • Outlook email
  • Outlook Express email
  • AOL IM 
  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • Text and other Web history
  • Secure pages (HTTPS) in web history

Find out more on the Google Desktop “About” page, or see more screenshots here. Also available are the Getting Started Guide and a page dedicated to privacy questions and concerns.

I've been using it for a couple of hours, and already I can tell that this is not something I will not be giving up any time soon. I am adding this to my little box of tricks.

Want to try? Jump over to http://desktop.google.com and install the small app, and you'll be on your way. If you have thoughts or comments after trying it, feel free to share them here, and be sure to let Google know.



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Tech
Thursday, October 14, 2004 12:40:44 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, October 13, 2004

There's an interactive guide online that will quickly and easily help you determine what needs to be done to upgrade your TiVo. Add a hard drive or two, replace your original drive with a bigger one, whatever.

This is a lot better than what I had when I took my 20-hour Series One TiVo and did my hack, ending up with two 120GB drives in it. It works great and records things for me every day (and will likely never run out of space). I had to piece together software and instructions, and walk my way between the lines in certain areas. Anymore it's much easier, so just go here for help.

Once you choose your TiVo model, hard drive options and a few other items needed to provide accurate instructions, the interactive guide provides you a clean, usable, well-written set of directions and links to required software specific to your needs as well as other resources like picture guides.

The site: http://tivo.upgrade-instructions.com/step1.php

(from hackaday.com)



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Geek Out | Tech
Wednesday, October 13, 2004 9:45:47 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I'm sitting here now with a pain in my lower back, the result of a discogram procedure performed today on three lower bask discs. No pictures this time, but if you want to know what the procedure is there's info and a picture here.

I was prepped for this one by my doc to be ready for a very painful experience. A discogram is a procedure where he runs needles into the disc that is known/suspected to be the problem, as well as two others above it, one of which looks a little iffy but not as bad as the primary suspect disc, and another that looks normal and healthy. He then fills each up with fluid and a small amount of blocking agent "dye" that can be photographed on a CT scan after the procedure is completed.

Thing is, if you have a herniated disc and you pump fluid into it to blow it up/inflate it, that means the fluid will likely push the herniated portion harder into the problem area. That hurts, a lot much of the time. and that's what they want. That is how they verify the pain, and that if they choose to do surgery, they know exactly where the problem lies.

They can also look at the CT scan images and see where the dye flowed, which gives them an even better idea what they're up against and what kind of surgery - if any - is the best bet for the injury.

So anyhow, today was my day. I live about an hour or a little less northwest of Portland. The doctor who specializes in my back problem that I was referred to by my local doctor is in Salem, which is about an hour south of Portland. So, my friend Broc showed up at my place last night, made my guest bedroom useful, and got up early with me and drove me to Salem. He ate McDonald's and got coffee while I listened to him heckle me with tales of morning caffeine and food. I would not be able to eat or drink anything until after the procedure, and I was starving. And another thing - for me to not have coffee by 8am is unheard of.

The nurse was great this time - a little local anesthetic and the IV was right in (not like the last time at a different place...) and all I had to do was wait.

They got me into the room and on the table, and prepped my back. I heard the doctor come in.

And then the next thing I know, I was in the recovery area.

That's it. I have no freakin' clue what happened in the operating room, except that they did what they needed to do and I was not knocked out. But I swear to God, other than a vague recollection of a short painful stabbing experience with nothing solid to attach it to, I don't remember anything at all - it's like I jumped ahead an hour or so and that time never existed. I've never experienced that. Very strange.

Man - I hope I didn't say anything mean, stupid or embarrassing! :P

At any rate - we'll wait a couple weeks, let my back return to normal (I am a little more than just uncomfortable right now), I'm taking a trip, and when I get back it will be time to meet with the doc, once he has had time to review the results and consult with his partners, and see what if anything he can do to help.

Verdict: Expected severe pain, missed the whole damn thing in my memory, sore now but completely manageable - just a side effect of increasing the pressure and an expected consequence. The people were better than just good - they were thorough and terrific to me during the prep and after, and I have to assume they didn't tattoo me anywhere I can't see or something while I was "out of it." Doctor Olson and crew gets an A+ in my book.

Past related writings:



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Kineflex Artificial Disc Surgery
Wednesday, October 13, 2004 7:09:25 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Windows XP Media Center Edition launched this morning, with support for high-def TV, multiple tuners, and lots of other cool stuff.

Some confusion over licensing, and earlier claims that it would be sold at retail. I think OEM's will have better access, but not so sure about being able to purchase a copy all on its own...



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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Tuesday, October 12, 2004 12:07:34 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, October 11, 2004

Heat scans are now showing greatly increased temperatures at the surface in the volcano crater and earthquakes are occurring at about one every five minutes. Scientists are saying this shows magma is much closer to the surface, and gas measurements also support this.

When I woke up this morning and was getting ready for work, I looked out the front window, from which I can see the mountain, and saw a column of steam lifting out of the crater. This was the first time I have been home at a time when clouds were cleared and something was happening.

I shot a couple of pictures, and will try to get around to transferring them from the camera to the computer and uploading soon.



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Mt. St. Helens
Monday, October 11, 2004 10:09:53 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Click on over to hear what Eric has to say with regard to a sneak peek of KSSX, his Internet radio station call letters. As he describes, RSS is likely going to be the final link in making distribution of multimedia content in an automated fashion a realistic (meaning relatively seamless) experience and possibility.

"The radio station YOU design?"

Woah... Gonna be cool.



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AudioBlogging | Tech
Monday, October 11, 2004 8:34:29 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I picked up a copy of a documentary film on DVD today from Best Buy called FarenHYPE 9/11, which is a response film that was made to take a critical, factual look at the Michael Moore film, Farenheit 9/11.

If you watched the original Michael Moore movie and cared at all about it (whether you liked it or hated it, doesn't matter), you owe it to yourself and everyone else to watch this documentary. You'll see people from the Moore movie talking about how they were misrepresented in the original film. Much of what Moore presented in Farenheit 9/11 is examined, critically reviewed and corrected in this film.

Seriously - there are two sides to every story, and Moore's story was such an exaggeration and misrepresentation of many facts, the FarenHYPE 9/11 DVD should be mandatory viewing. It is inexpensive - only about $11 at Best Buy, and you can order it from Overstock.com as well.

You don't necessarily have to be a Bush supporter to accept that Michael Moore flat out lied and twisted events to meet the requirements of his agenda. This is in no way an attept on my part to change your mind with regard to a voting decision - that's all yours.

It's the best $11 I've spent in quite some time.

One more time: regardless of your opinion of the Moore film and it's content, be sure to see FarenHYPE 9/11 - Once you see it, I think you'll understand why I'm so adamant.

Anyone who wants to borrow my copy, let me know.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming...



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Random Stuff | Things that Suck
Sunday, October 10, 2004 11:02:12 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, October 10, 2004

The volcano's seismic activity built back up again after dropping off a few days ago, and finally released more steam at about 7am today.

The advisory is still at Level 2 and earthquakes are not as frequent as they were before. A second dome, or “blister” has been pushing up next to the one formed in the crater in the 1980's. The old dome was formed between 1980 and 1986. The new dome has been formed over the past couple of weeks, and is already bigger than the one formed in the 80's.



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Mt. St. Helens
Sunday, October 10, 2004 9:12:30 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, October 09, 2004

Jared Hudgins a scary-smart dude I met at GnomeDex, as is Brandon Watts (another person I had the good fortune of meeting there). They could always be found together, which makes sense since they both traveled across the country from Georgia or some place around Atlanta. Both of these guys write for Lockergnome (and do a great job of it). Both are way younger and way smarter than me, and my purpose in writing this entry (yes, I do have a reason) is to call out two things:

  • First, that Jared just posted his first audioblog - so go listen to it. Oh, the world is changing so fast...
  • Second, I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that both Brandon (who has already authored his own programming language) and Jared are going to be people you'll hear about in a big way sometime in the future (and no, I don't mean in an 11-0'clock news kind of way). Dream big, make it happen. If you happen to be reading this in 15 or 20 years, please remind me and we'll see if I was right.


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AudioBlogging | Random Stuff | Tech
Saturday, October 09, 2004 8:08:20 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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ClearType Control Panel Icon - click to download PowerToyI missed this when it was originally released, but Microsoft recently kicked a new PowerToy for Windows XP that lets you fine-tunes the ClearType settings in Windows. It puts an applet in your control panel, so you don't have to find the obscure setting in the display properties dialog mess. It also lets you set the Cleartype settings across all machine accounts and provides much finer control over the ClearType settings.

If you've never turned on ClearType, you really don't know what you're missing. It's unfortunate that most Windows XP users don't have it turned on and have not experienced the benefits.

Whether you have a CRT, flat-panel, or notebook monitor, ClearType can greatly improve the way Windows displays text on the screen, and can make using a computer easier on your eyes.


Why use ClearType?

Just look at the screen clips below (made with another PowerToy for the Tablet PC - the Snipping Tool).

Which would you rather read on your screen? With or without ClearType?

Without ClearType: With ClearType:
 

You can click here to go to the XP PowerToys page, and look for the link to download the "ClearType Tuner PowerToy."



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Tech
Saturday, October 09, 2004 7:34:51 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Click the play button to listen:

Prologue: After speaking with several respected people in the field about the term PodCasting in preparation for writing this article, I have changed my stance slightly from where I started and from what I wrote below. I decided to place this change-of-heart statement up top, with a quick explanation, but not to alter what my original post looked like, since my change of heart is primarily one of acceptance. So, while I accept current naming conventions and what-not, I still believe what I say below is relevant.

In the words of one respected collegue from the industry:

"... It's certainly a sexy term, and although technically inaccurate (see, --casting implies sending from-- we aren't broadcasting from an iPod), the media seems to love it, people associate '-pod' with the success of the iPod, and that's a good thing. It's good because now bigger radio folks are doing it. We the people are doing it. This whole thing has stickiness, and got that stickiness in record time. I say, let's just revel in it. It can't hurt."

- Eric Rice

Ok, I can do that. Fair enough, and good advice.

 - greg


[How exactly do you describe the process of hanging up a call with someone when you're not actually talking on a traditional telephone anymore? Hmm...] I just got off the Internet with Chris Pirillo. He and I were engaged in an instant messaging session, which branched off to email, and which we then took over to Skype. Chris then used the Skype audio and some kind of hacked-together recording device to create an interview MP3 that he will, undoubtedly, edit (I sure hope he edits it, heh...) and post to his web site at some point in the near future. Personal internet broadcasting hard at work.

We talked about something we both think is great and interesting, but about which we share a similar gripe:

The term "PodCasting" - I know it is catchy and sticky and has already taken off, so I wouldn't expect any kind of change to happen, but regardless, it's just the wrong name to use. Why? Because this new wave of technology use is not actually about iPods (it works with pretty much any MP3 player), yet it sounds like it is all about iPods. It's not about the playback device (again, any MP3 player), it's about the communication medium and the content being distributed. It's about the convergence of several smaller pieces of cool technology, and the interest of a relatively small but rapidly growing group of people whose influence has the potential to create something very, very big. But to say the iPod is the platform is to limit the market and the potential of what's happening -- in my opinion.

Now, please understand -- I don't have any kind of problem or dislike toward Apple's iPods, or the technology, or the idea that people are enabled to communicate to an Internet audience their own opinions, ideas, news, music or what-have-you. In fact I think all those things are great. It's the name that kills me. If you like iPods, that's fine (I think they're great, too), but to call the iPod the platform in this context is just plain-old-flat-out confusing and wrong.

When Chris and I started our conversation this morning, I sent him an email with an admittedly hot-under-the-collar tone complaining about this supposed "revolution" (I don't see it quite that way) and the "podcast" name that's been attached to this "phenomenon" (another over-stated term I think - let's see what happens before we actually attach names like that).

Then we decided, well heck - let's talk about it by creating a personal internet broadcast (yes, you're right, I am intentionally not using that term) of our own.

You see, we love the technology. We love the medium. We love the gadgetry of it all and the idea of enabling people to communicate and express themselves in new ways - and to make it easier for people to do on both ends.

Both of us even plan to create content and use the technology ourselves.

It's just that damn name.



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AudioBlogging | Random Stuff | Tech
Saturday, October 09, 2004 4:46:21 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, October 08, 2004

If you have users who need to learn how to do things in SharePoint Portal Server 2003, you'll want to check out the new SPS 2003 Training Kit. The users can either see how to perform tasks, or they can do the steps themselves, while being guided through the processes.

"This training kit has been specifically designed to ensure that SharePoint Portal Server users can effectively use the capabilities of the product to better share information, collaborate with others and find relevant information and resources within their organization. The training has been developed keeping in mind the unique need of the beginners and advanced users with easy to understand content that can be accessed either as a self paced study guide or as a quick reference guide. Learn how to perform everyday tasks like collaborating on documents, setting up efficient meetings and searching for relevant information and resources."

Download Link:
http://www.microsoft.com/sharepoint/downloads/components/detail.asp?a=631



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SharePoint | Tech
Friday, October 08, 2004 3:28:03 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Chris apparently really needs something to do - but it's good for us when he's having a slow day - this is freakin' hilarious...



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Geek Out | Humor
Friday, October 08, 2004 2:45:40 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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JibJab has reached prime-time with “It's Good to Be in DC.” 

I heard excerpts from this on the radio earlier today, and then it was shown on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno later this evening.

Between JibJab and Jon Stewart, it's been an amusing political process. JibJab's This Land cartoon raised eyebrows and even a lawsuit (in which JibJab came out the victor). When I think what it would be like without at least some form of levity, it's a rather depressing thought.

But all joking aside - regardless of your political position or persuasion, VOTE THIS YEAR!!! VOTE!



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Humor
Thursday, October 07, 2004 11:01:28 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, October 07, 2004

Add this up: One shopping cart, one jet engine, and one crazy, crazy man.

What do you get? A Darwin Award just begging to be won.

But it's cool.



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Random Stuff
Thursday, October 07, 2004 10:20:08 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I meant to post about this while I was at Gnomedex last week, since it was announced there, but never got around to it (my bad).

A new web site - hackaday.com - is a web magazine devoted to cataloging all the best hacks, mods and DIY (do-it-yourself) projects from around the web.

This is a geek-fest site if there ever was one. every day a new items is posted to the site. Among the recent hacks and mods are:

... and much, much more. Highly recommended for hard-core geeks and anyone with too much time on their hands.



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Geek Out | Tech
Thursday, October 07, 2004 10:12:57 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Scoble to Gates: "It's time for another memo Bill. Just don't take so long this time."

Also: "Tell him to get me a Tablet PC that rocks so that I can keep my job cause I really don't want to work for Donald Trump."

There's more, and it's worth reading. Important stuff for the radar. Right on, Robert.



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Random Stuff | Tech
Thursday, October 07, 2004 9:46:40 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I've been beta testing MS Virtual Server 2005 for some time, and I love it. It's been released to manufacturing (RTM) and will soon ship for sale.

The web administrative interface is very well done, and with sufficient hardware (required any time you're going to run multiple machines you know), you can effectively share resources between multiple virtual machines on your server. And yes, you can use your already-existing Virtual PC images on the virtual server.

VMWare gets another run for its money. And for what it's worth, I use both the MS and VMWare ESX products, so no need to flame. :-)

More info: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/virtualserver/default.mspx

Virtual machine systems are in place and being used for full-blown production purposes at many large companies all over the world. My experience is that is allows for more effective use of available hardware resources, and it simplifies and speeds up server administration. It can also make full server backups a breeze.

To migrate servers from hardware to virtual machines, Microsoft provides the Virtual Server Migration Toolkit. The VSMT automates the migration of an operating system and installed applications from a physical server to a server running within a virtual machine that is provided and managed by Virtual Server 2005.



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Tech
Thursday, October 07, 2004 9:40:07 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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SnapStream has released Beyond TV v3.5 and Beyond TV Link - Programs that run on Windows and provide PVR capabilities (Beyond TV) and networked media access (the Link apps).

Beyond TV 3.5 includes new features, such as multiple tuner support and a smarter recording scheduler, maximizes the number of shows users can record. Other offerings such as Beyond TV Link and Microsoft Portable Media Center support further delivers the “anytime, anywhere” aspect of Beyond TV 3. Read the press release.

Beyond TV Link gives you control of your Beyond TV 3 from other networked computers in your home. It gives you full and complete access to your library of recorded shows. It’s like having Beyond TV 3 on all your PCs and laptops on your home network and using it as if it was really installed on the device in front of you. You can even watch live television broadcasts through Beyond TV Link without having to purchase additional TV tuner cards. Read the press release.

The SnapStream apps are another way to create a multimedia PC with functionality similar to TiVo's, and the company provides a number of software/hardware packages that work well together.



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Tech
Thursday, October 07, 2004 9:27:06 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, October 06, 2004

From a gamepc.com review of Windows XP Media Center 2005 (code-named Symphony while in development) written by Chris Connolly, which is set to release next week - and it sounds like you'll be able to buy it all by itself, without having to buy a PC at the same time (which is exactly the option I intend to take advantage of):

"... Fortunately, Microsoft finally listened, and are opening up Windows XP Media Center Edition for everyone. Their latest version, Media Center Edition 2005, is now selling on the open markets, and is available to all. While the OS itself is not officially launching for another week, we were able to get our hands on this final product to give everyone a first hand glimpse of how Media Center Edition 2005 (Codenamed Symphony) works in an uncontrolled environment ..."

I jumped ahead, looking for the HDTV verdict, as there have been conflicting reports as to whether it is supported or works:

"... Now, setup for our analog TV stream was a piece of cake with the Hauppauge WinTV card. HDTV was a bit more troublesome, even when using ATI's brand new HDTV Wonder card. Many expected that Media Center 2005 and the HDTV Wonder product would be announced together and become the "duo" for hardware/software HDTV for the PC. Unfortunately, this really isn't the case. Media Center Edition 2005 does have integrated support for the ATI HDTV Wonder product out of the box. Even when the card's drivers are installed correctly, MCE2005 will not detect the card as a valid TV Tuner. ATI's Multimedia Center DTV application won't even work in the operating system, outside of the Media Center application. Our suggestion is stay away from this combo until ATI puts out a set of "Media Center Certified" drivers. All in all, outputting content to an High-Definition TV / monitor is no problem. Getting an HDTV stream to play on Media Center, well, that's up in the air at this point. We couldn't get it to work, but we haven't tried all of the available HDTV options out there ..."

This is an extensive review of the new version of Windows XP MCE. Note that another review by Thomas Hawk is a little more critical, but does a good job of pointing out the improvements as well as what Thomas wishes was different.



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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Wednesday, October 06, 2004 9:25:09 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

As a proponent and business owner of SharePoint 2003 technologies, this article on Security Pipeline caught my eye:

When President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry square off Friday at Washington University in round two of their presidential debates, the event will spur an intense IT integration effort pulling together national, state, and local emergency responders. These responders will rely on the real-time flow of data to ensure that the only bombs going off in St. Louis are rhetorical.

To do this, the event's incident-command team, comprised of police from St. Louis County and Washington University, firefighters from the city of Clayton, Mo., and agents from the U.S. Secret Service, will rely heavily on a Microsoft SharePoint-based portal modified by service provider Convergence Communications LLC. In its university lecture hall headquarters, the command team will have 25 PCs that can send and receive data over a LAN to as many as 450 police officers positioned across the campus, regardless of whether the officer hails from county, city, or university forces. Five officers normally patrol this same area.

The portal will let command-center workers exchange instant messages, share data, and have joint access to a checklist of tasks that need to be completed on schedule. For example, if a road is scheduled to be closed at a given time, the officer closing that road must communicate via the portal that he accomplished this task. "If the task is overdue, the list will flash so that the commanders know there's a problem..."

Very cool. Granted, it's a million-dollar system built on SharePoint as a platform - what do you figure the price would have been in the private sector though? :-)



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SharePoint | Tech
Wednesday, October 06, 2004 8:46:52 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

MSN has released the next version of their MSN Search Technical Preview, for a limited time only - go try it out, and be sure to provide feedback via the link on the page:

http://techpreview.search.msn.com/

A few details about this stage of the preview:

  • There are now more pages in the index than the last version of the preview.
  • The site may be slow at times or you may notice missing or incomplete features; if you notice problems or results that are inappropriate for your search, please tell us what went wrong.
  • The software supplied in this preview is not formally supported and Microsoft does not provide technical assistance for it.


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Tech
Wednesday, October 06, 2004 7:37:26 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Yes, people, we are still alive here - the media in some places is getting overly excited. Really, nothing has happened as far as any major events. There is no ash in Portland or pretty much anywhere else as of today. Please stay calm, move along, nothing to see here (well nothing catostrophic anyhow, but plenty of interesting stuff). If you want to keep in touch with updates on the volcano as I post them, I have created a new category for posts and a matching feed.


Mt. St. Helens this morning let off the largest of its steam and ash emissions so far since the new volcanic activity started. Portland's KATU News got some great spot video becasue they just happened to be in the air when it started. Interestingly, the seismic activity dropped off when this emission took place, and has remained mostly low-level since.

In the image below, taken from the University of Washington's webicorders of the St. Helens South Ridge seismographic station, the seismic activity drops off right after 9am, which is when the new cloud of ash and steam was emitted:

Activity has - as you can see - stayed at a lower level since, with a few larger quakes occurring among a lot of smaller ones.

Clicking on either image will open a new window with the full size image from the U of W webicorder site.

An interesting anomaly on the webicorder readout during the 11am Pacific Time hour shows what is either a strange (harmonic?) event or a simple error in the seismic recording. Anyone know or have any idea what the wandering lines represent?

At any rate, ash and steam from the mountain went thousands of feet in the air and for the first time ash amounts were detectable on weather radar. Small amounts of ash fell around small towns northeast of the mountain and on US Hwy 12, which resulted in reduced visibility, according to media reports.

The lava dome, which was formed between the big explosive event in 1980 and 1986, has raised more than 150 feet since the events started. Last week they were excited over a 2 centimeter lift - In the past 36 hours the dome has lifted more than 50 feet.

The forecast is for more events like the ones we have been seeing, with a likelihood of an eventual (sooner or later) explosive event. If magma (hot molten rock) reaching the surface (at which point it's called lava) is new magma from deep inside the earth, it will contain lots of compressed gasses, which will create an explosive type of event that throws rock and ash in the air. If it is old magma, perhaps left over in a relatively shallow cavern from the 1980 eruption, it might not contain as much gas, and as a result it may just flow out and help build a newer, bigger dome in the volcano's crater, a process that could - eventually - build the mountain back up again.

But the amount of ash being thrown about has grown with each steam eruption so far, and the levels of magmatic gasses have also grown, so I am betting on bigger event, rather than smaller. Nothing like 1980, mind you - but spectacular, I will bet.

Those Earth Science classes in high school and junior high did some good after all. See? Good teachers make all the difference in the world.



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Mt. St. Helens | Random Stuff
Tuesday, October 05, 2004 7:14:59 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Buy.com is taking pre-orders for the soon-to-be-released Media Center Extender devices made by Linksys.

What are Media Center Extenders? They are devices that communicate with a Windows Media Center 2005 (I believe that is an actual requirement, but will need to check) computer on your home network, allowing you to view and use media stored on the PC on your television systems. Think of it as an integration device that connects TV to music, images, live and recorded TV items on your Media Center PC. Note that Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 will also be released soon.

  • Connects your Home Entertainment Center to a Windows Media Center PC through a Wireless-A, Wireless-G, or wired network
  • Watch home or downloaded digital movies and browse your digital pictures on your television. Also watch, pause, and record live TV shows
  • Listen to your digital music collection and Internet radio through your stereo system 
    Select entertainment from on-screen menus with the easy-to-use remote control

So, what's so cool about that? Well, this device converges the media stored on your PC with the rest of your AV equipment - It means you can store all that video, music and image data and information in one place (on the Media Center PC) and view or listen to it anywhere you like on your home network (such as on your TV, your home theater system, the stereo system, etc). Plans are that you'll even be able to add a Media Center Extender title to your XBox system and watch movies, view pictures, and listen to music there.

Bobsled you say? Yeah. Code name for the Microsoft project while it was under development.

Find out more about Windows XP Media Center here, and more about Media Center Extenders here.

(info via Charlie Kindel)



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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Tuesday, October 05, 2004 4:56:29 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, October 04, 2004

When it's light out, it's great... When it's dark out, it's... well... dark. If it gets cloudy... you get the point. Click the picture below for the full-size image.



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Mt. St. Helens | Random Stuff
Monday, October 04, 2004 10:18:36 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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The SpaceShipOne team did it - they left the Earth's atmosphere twice in a week, winning the Ansari X Prize, which required a privately funded team to put a space vehicle that can carry three people into space twice in a two-week period. View the video of the winning flight and previous flights.

NPR Audio report: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4060565



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Random Stuff | Tech
Monday, October 04, 2004 7:02:29 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I arrived back in Portland yesterday afternoon, and was met by my mom at the airport because she happened to be in town. Great timing, since Mt. St. Helens is coughing up steam and stuff these days. We made some stops along the drive home to look at the mountain (there are lots of great viewpoints near where I live). This morning we watched the big steam venting out of the crater, and then we drove back to the airport for her flight home.

Image, click to enlargeIt looks like the volcano is getting ready for something bigger. I have tried to estimate my house's distance from the volcano, because people keep asking (I assume out of concern). It looks like I live somewhere between 40 and 45 miles from the volcano (I will map it out sometime soon). So, no fears - the worst thing that would happen here is ash fallout (which can be problematic if you breathe it or get it in your eyes, and it's nasty on car paint and windows). But the winds at the mountain are blowing directly away from here right now. If it's going to blow, I just hope it happens when I am home, so I can snap some pictures and watch. And, in true form, Dan Appleman (whom I met at the conference last week) has some funny observations on volcanoes and politics that will generate a laugh or two. (Image by USGS, click for more pictures, or for seismographic info from the Cascade Mountains)

USGS Update: Mount St. Helens Update 4 October 2004 7:00 P.M.

Current status is Volcano Alert (Alert Level 3); aviation color code RED

This morning visitors to Mount St. Helens witnessed a 40-minute-long steam-and-ash emission starting at 9:43 PDT. Steam clouds carrying minor ash billowed out of the crater to an altitude of 10,000 to perhaps 12,000 feet. The event did not generate earthquakes or an explosion signal. We infer that hot rock was pushed up into the glacier, melted ice, and generated the steam. Part of the vent for today’s and other steam and ash emissions of the past few days is now covered by a boiling lake. The emission occurred during a time of gradually increasing seismicity, which dropped slightly after the emission, but continued to increase gradually through the afternoon. Another period of smaller steam and ash bursts occurred between 2:10 and 2:40 P.M. Visual observations show that the area of uplift, which includes part of the glacier and a nearby segment of the south flank of the lava dome, continues to rise. We infer that magma is at a very shallow level and could soon be extruded into the vent or elsewhere in the deforming area. Additional steam and ash emissions are likely and could occur at any time without warning. Conditions suggest that there is also an increased probability of larger-magnitude and more ash-rich eruptions in coming days.

Yesterday’s gas-sensing flight detected slightly lower concentrations of carbon dioxide in the crater, but for the first time the airborne instruments detected the presence of hydrogen sulfide. Wind conditions during today’s flight should permit the first estimation of the rate of gas flux.



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Mt. St. Helens | Random Stuff
Monday, October 04, 2004 6:31:06 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, October 02, 2004

I'm sitting in California at a geek conference (til tomorrow), and so I am missing the up-close excitement of what's happening at St. Helen's. The USGS raised the volcano cautionary level to III (press conference video link - WMV) today and evacuated the immediate area. Geologist say all indications are that magma is moving underground in the crater.

There's a good slideshow on KATU TV's web site from Friday's eruption. The KATU web site has a lot of great information and video, and you don't have to sign up and start getting spammed to access it, unlike on some other PDX news station sites. Score one for KATU - that's customer oriented content publishing. Thanks to KATU's decision-makers for that.



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Mt. St. Helens | Random Stuff
Saturday, October 02, 2004 4:11:32 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, October 01, 2004

http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/Cascades/CurrentActivity/current_updates.html

Mount St. Helens Notice of Volcano Alert, October 2, 2004

A notice of Volcano Alert (Alert Level 3) was issued today at 2:00 p.m. PDT

Immediately after the small steam emission at 12:15, seismic activity changed from principally rock breakage events to continuous low-frequency tremor, which is indicative of magma movement. We are increasing the alert level to Volcano Alert the highest alert level indicating that an eruption could be imminent.

The cause and outcome of the accelerating unrest is uncertain. Explosions from the vent could occur suddenly and without further warning. During such explosions the dome and crater floor are at greatest risk from ballistic projectiles, but the rim of the crater and flanks of the volcano could also be at risk. Explosions would also be expected to produce ash clouds that rise several to tens of thousands of feet above the crater rim and drift downwind. Currently wind forecasts from the National Weather Service, combined with eruption models, show that ash clouds will move to the northwest. If ash emissions are large, drifting ash could affect downwind communities. Minor melting of the glacier could trigger debris flows from the crater that are large enough to reach the Pumice Plain. There is very low probability that downstream communities would be impacted by these hydrologic events.

We continue to monitor the situation very closely and will issue additional updates as warranted, whether activity escalates or returns to background levels.

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Mount St. Helens Update, October 1, 2004, 7:00 P.M.

Current status is Alert-Level 2-Volcano Advisory

The increasingly energetic seismic swarm of the past week culminated in a small 25-miunute-long eruption around noon today from a vent just south of the lava dome. The vent opened in a portion of the glacier that had become increasingly crevassed and uplifted over the past few days. This deformation was probably driven by piston-like uplift of a portion of the lava dome and crater floor. The eruption sent a steam and minor ash plume to an altitude of about 10,000 ft. It drifted southwestward accompanied by minor ashfall in areas close to the volcano. Seismicity dropped to a low level for several hours after the eruption, but is gradually increasing with earthquakes (maximum Magnitude about 3) occurring a rate of 1-2 per minute. We infer that the system is repressurizing. As a result, additional steam-and-ash eruptions similar to today’s could occur at any time.



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Mt. St. Helens | Random Stuff
Friday, October 01, 2004 8:22:19 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I didn't know I was going to be asked to speak, but Chris roped me into participating in a panel session first thing this morning, the topic of which was “the future of security.” It was an honor to do so, and the conversation was a good one. The audience was involved and had great questions and comments. The participants on the schedule were:

  • Chris DiBona (moderator)
  • Neil Wyler aka Grifter
  • Fred Felman of Zone Labs
  • CJ Holthaus
  • Nico Sell
  • Dan Appleman - whose book, Always Use Protection, should be read by every teen (and adult) who uses a computer
  • Robert Scoble joined in
  • and me
  • Picture below thanks to noded.com

    Being involved up on the stage, I don't clearly remember everything we talked about in detail. I used/borrowed/stole the “PPT” mantra often used one of my friends and mentors, Jim, in my words during the panel discussion: “Security is about three things - People, Process and Technology.”

    Security as a topic of conversation or debate, especially when discussed among geeks, seems always to attract such a strong technology focus. But the other two aspects of security - process and people - cannot be ignored. If you remove any one part from a security effort, it cannot ultimately succeed. If you have a successful security strategy and program already up and running, you cannot afford to forget to address and maintain all three components. If you do, again, it's bound to fail eventually.

    Technology is important, though. You can't discount the fact that when you run computers and networks, technology is what you're securing, so you'll almost certainly use more technology to help you.

    The panel discussed hardware security technology, and (as expected) the “patch and fix” and other typically Microsoft-centric topics and questions came up.

    My response to the Microsoft-Security debate: Think about football teams. The team that plays tough games season after season and gets its butt kicked over and over will eventually learn the basics, and then will evolve into a mature powerhouse of a team. You just hope the other teams (the ones that had been kicking your team's butt) don't get too lazy or take any thing for granted. Or, if they do, that you have not made an investment in that team.

    Three years ago, I was looking at Microsoft as a team I had a relationship with, but who I could not count on to win the game. Today my position is just the opposite: Microsoft has learned the hard lessons, has had their butts kicked, and has emerged from the fray a stronger, better and more mature company in the security arena. They may only be 60% there, as Scoble noted on the stage, but this is a team that I feel I can count on to do the right thing and fight the good fight.

    This was a good session, covering a lot of ground. Feedback from audience members afterward was positive, which was cool. Security has become a hot topic in the past year or so in the user world, and will become even bigger in the future.

    Again, because it bears repeating: Always Use Protection - buy it now. <eom>



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    GnomeDex | IT Security
    Friday, October 01, 2004 3:25:01 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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    I'm at Gnomedex, in the "Maximize your blogging potential" panel session, listening to all these guys talk. The conversation quickly moved to multimedia content and delivery as well as devices and tools. Here are some of my observations, paraphrasing the speakers.

  • Adam Kalsey (Moderator)

    Adam went from 200 page views a month to thousands a day because he wrote about relevant things that mattered to people. If you're posting content to the web, you have a goal in mind. If you get slashdotted because its interesting to others, but you decide you can't afford it, you'll stop doing it.

    On multimedia blogging, he noted that if its going to take off, things like indexing and searching of multimedia formats will have to happen.

    In the keyword filtering department as a way to deal with too much content, he points out that keyword searches are not always the best way to deal with selecting information, because of the fact that what I think are relevant keywords may not agree with the way the author wrote the content.

  • Robert Scoble

    Microsoft employee and internal button pusher, Robert's well-known and got his job at Microsoft in no small part because of his blog. He started blogging because he was running a conference and wanted to document it. He wants to know, "What's undiscovered here?"

    "Something has happened in the past month." He notes that PODCasting has taken off all of a sudden. Robert consumes about 900+ feeds a day, compromising about 2000 blogs (some feeds combined). How is he going to deal with 1000 audioblogs a day? With audio he can only consume 2 or 3 shows a night, so becoming a star is a harder things to do.

    For text feeds, he's like his news aggregator to start building keyword searches automatically, based on his reading behavior.

  • Nick Bradbury

    Nick is a (great) shareware author of three rather famous pieces of software, and uses blogging for personal and business use.  His FeedDemon software is what I use as my content aggregator for tons of blogs and other content sources. He says the biggest problem with information now is that there's some much info out there now that you can't deal with it all, so you don't necessarily know what you're missing. I agree. I'd pay good money for something that would help me see what I need and want to see, inside the content I already subscribe to.

  • Ross Rader

    Ross of Blogware says its a pain to do all these different blogging things. The whole Web 2.0 movement should be about making things useful. Lots of utilities are great, but if Dad can't use it?

    Audio and other multimedia blogging shows that the Internet is continuing to change and that it's important to give these things a chance and to see where it goes.

    Enclosures are binary attachments to a syndication feed, and you can determine when that attachment gets downloaded (send it to me between 2 and 5 am).

    Ross also distinguished between managed and unmanaged content, and pointed out that the goal is to get people involved in the creation of content, and making it available and usable by others. If you want to publish your content, you can do it, in your own place.

  • Jason Shellen

    Jason works at Blogger, one of the huge blogging services, owned by Google. He noted that the San Francisco web design community was one of the first adopters of the technology, because it provided the ability to remove the focus from "I am going to create a page" to "I am going to write about something." Blogger/Google has started to address the "How do I do more than write text" with audioblogger.com and Picasa/Hello/BloggerBot.

    "I'm going to go out on a limb and say everything shouldn't be in a blog."

    Jason sees blogging and formats as continuing to grow and expand, and that the forms of media, he expects, will change over time. But he wants to have the ability to use the new media formats on the device of choice.

    Timeliness of blogs: There is a time factor to all of this. Everything has a time and date. Email has this too, as does IM. He notes that there is a need for a tool that will "bring me all the stuff that's important to me."

  • Dave Taylor

    Dave writes several blogs, and sees blogs as content and data management systems. He uses one web log to hold a Q&A of common questions he gets from people. He emphasizes the fact that he sees it not as a cool HTML thing, but rather as being all about the content.

    "I can publish with anything and boom, I'm out there just like anyone who has a multi-million-dollar marketing department."

    Thoughts from others in the audience:

    Scott with Feedster talked about enclosure feeds (images, video clips, porn enclosures are common). He notes that the one constant of new media is that when porn starts to become available on a new media format or mechanism, that form of media will succeed. He also pointed out feedstertv.com, which deals with enclosures on RSS feeds.

    On the next steps with categories, filtering, automation, etc: "RSS is the web services we've been waiting for, let's make it DO something."

    The TiVo suggestions metaphor: Letting the machine tell me what I want to watch usually produces garbage.

    The whole date-based/time-based thing with weblogs is what makes things tough for old stuff. Adding categories, internal or site-restricted search engines. It's a publisher's decision what tools to use to organize information.

    ----

    The focus of the discussion seemed to settle on multimedia blogging, then multimedia content in general, and what that means to the blogging universe. PODcasting and audioblogging is taking the place of drive-time radio content. Radio broadcasting 's future is in question. ReplayRadio is a new service available to time-shift talk radio content.

    Ultimately the answer to most of the questions that came up seems to be "better tools."

    Eventually a question was asked about how many people in the audience deal with information overload, and how people deal with the volume. The mix was interesting to see. Some seem to be in a place where their RSS aggregator has consumed their lives. I'm just the opposite - RSS saves me tons of time every day in my job. For others, it takes up time. Apparently it depends on what you do and how you use it.

    This was a great session.



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    AudioBlogging | Blogging | GnomeDex | RSS Stuff
    Friday, October 01, 2004 11:36:11 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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    I had the pleasure of meeting Eric Rice of audioblog.com last night, and he showed me a few cool new tricks, one of which is available now. If you use audioblog.com to do audio posts (and you should), you can now download your audio as a MP3 file. PODcasters out there might be interested in this new capability.



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    Tech
    Friday, October 01, 2004 7:25:07 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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