Friday, 17 September 2004

In the random blog post department:

Over on Channel 9 there's a picture of a Windows 2006 box. Well, okay it's not the real Windows box, but it's cool.

So are some of the typical Channel 9 comments (cool that is)...

Dave Bowman : Hello, HAL do you read me, HAL?
HAL : Affirmative, Dave, I read you.
Dave Bowman : Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL : I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.
Dave Bowman : What's the problem?
HAL : I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
Dave Bowman : What are you talking about, HAL?
HAL : You forgot to recompile the kernel with the new pod bay door drivers.
Dave Bowman : Doesn't Linux support plug and play?
HAL : Not yet, in the next release.



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Friday, 17 September 2004 15:10:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I'm on vacation, sitting at Powell's City of Books (9am-11pm every day of the year, which makes it 14/7/365 I guess?), in the coffee shop with my requisite dose of caffeine, using my wireless laptop to access the Internet for free. Here in Portland, we have this terrific thing called the Personal Telco Project, which self-describes itself as:

We are a volunteer group of Portlanders who believe that 802.11 (wireless networking, or "Wi-Fi") technology is both cool and empowering.  We started out by turning our own houses and apartments into wireless hot spots (also referred to as "nodes"), and then set about building these nodes in public locations such as parks and coffee shops.  Currently we have over 100 active nodes, and we eventually would like to cover the entire city of Portland, Oregon with even more.

So while my friend who is visiting from Germany (who happens to be a real book-freak - in the nicest sense of the word “freak” of course!) searches every aisle of books here in the largest independant bookstore in the world, I am able to take a load off my back, check email, avoid the VPN to work (:)) and send GMAIL invitations to the first six of umpteen people who correctly answered a trivia question and earned gmail invitations. To the rest of you, I have put you on my waiting list and will send your invites when I get them - thanks for playing!

Powell's Books, for those who have not experienced it, is an amazing place. New and used books by the hundreds of thousands line the shelvces of this full city block of bookstore. My favorite room in the whole place is on the top floor, just off of what they call the Pearl Room.

Behind a wood door and darker than the rest of the place is the Rare Book Room. This room is home to many first-of-the-first books (as in first edition, first printing). Old books sit on the shelves, and the most rare among them sit in the middle of each rack with a simple glass loked sliding door on each. If you ask, the attendant librarian will open the glass to show you a book that interests you.

These are not reading books though, unlesss you are filthy rich. My favorite book in the room (at least right now) is the original British first edition and printing of The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein. It's not like I can afford to buy it, or even touch it: That book is for sale for $25,000. But it is fun to look at.

Should you be a Tolkein fan, and want to invest in something a little more in the “gold” range rather than “platinum,” there is a 1st/1st 3-book set of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a little worn but in decent shape with dust jackets. This can be yours for $6,000. If you're more of an old-but-not-expensive person (read: early books but not necessarily original), a second-edition set in similar condition is available in sleeves for $600 - quite a difference in price.

I sit here looking at paper books and typing on an electronic keybord, sending my words to a digital storage where others can see them. While there is something exciting about the digital lifestyle, so is there something quite relaxing and seemingly more “real” about the book I can hold in my hand, the cover I can feel and the pages I can turn. The smell of old books is noticibly different from the smell of a laptop or computer monitor. It's earthy and feels more like it came from somewhere real, rather than from somewhere pretend. I like that, and I think in a way we all need that.



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Friday, 17 September 2004 14:44:24 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 16 September 2004

Darron Devlin has released updated versions of his OneNote power toys, OneNoteImageWriter and WebPageToOneNote. From his web site:

OneNoteImageWriter

Version 1.0.0.5

This PowerToy is a virtual printer that enables the import of document images into Microsoft Office OneNoteĀ® 2003 sections. Any program that is capable of printing can send a document to the OneNote Image Writer just as it would when printing to a physical device. The printed document is converted into a document image that can be used as a foreground or background image on a OneNote page. Details and Download

WebPageToOneNote

Version 1.0.0.4

This PowerToys adds a WebPageToOneNote button to the Standard Buttons toolbar in Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 or later. Click this button to copy an image of the entire current web page (WYSIWYG) to a new page in OneNote. The new page is created in a WebImageCaptures section in your notebook. Details and Download



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Thursday, 16 September 2004 22:08:20 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 15 September 2004

via BetaNews.com:

Security firm Secunia has issued a "highly critical" advisory that details 10 separate vulnerabilities found in Mozilla, Firefox and Thunderbird. The flaws can be exploited remotely, allowing an attacker to compromise a system and expose sensitive data. Mozilla users are urged to upgrade to the latest releases of each application, which contain the necessary fixes.

This follows a JPEG vulnerability annmouncement (MS04-028) from Microsoft, as well. If you are running any of these programs, be sure to get the latest versions - these are serious vulnerabilities in all the apps, just as important to patch as where there's a vulnerability discovered in Windows or IE.

Cory over at SANS commented on the situation, too.



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Wednesday, 15 September 2004 22:28:27 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 13 September 2004

Just released on GotDotNet: MacawSharePointSkinner, a server HttpModule that allows you to modify the look and feel of SharePoint sites without having to change the core site layout. (found via Mark Harrison) You should also be able to use it to modify non-SharePoint ASP.NET web sites. It looks very promising for certain situations (probably not all - as my friend commented, why would you want to do customization work and then change your changes? Plus ASP.NET 2.0 will include skinning right in the package). Where SharePoint is involved, however, this could be useful since certain customizations can be quite a bit of redundant work.

From the MacawSharePointSkinner documentation:

MacawSharePointSkinner is a tool designed to enable non-intrusive modifications to the visual and functional design of SharePoint. The tool can be used for both Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 and for Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003. Actually, it can be used for any web site utilizing the ASP.NET technology.

One of the major issues that we encounter in the implementation of SharePoint within organizations is that organizations want modifications to the visual and functional design that are almost impossible to implement without a major overhaul of the standard files and templates provided with SharePoint. SharePoint is constructed as a kind of standard product that is best used out of the box. Some design can be applied by specifying themes (for team sites) or by modifying CSS stylesheets (for the portal). The possibilities here are limited however, and changes to the actual HTML that is rendered results in changes to hundreds of the standard files.

When implementing customer requested visual modifications, one of the big problems that we encountered in making extensive modifications to the files and templates delivered with SharePoint was that the rendering of the same HTML is implemented differently by different pages. Some pages contain the actual HTML that is outputted and can be easily modified. Other pages contain server controls that do the rendering of the same HTML. These pages are almost impossible to modify. Another problem is that modifications must often be made to hundreds of pages.

The approach that MacawSharePointSkinner takes is that it lets SharePoint render the final HTML, and just before this HTML is sent to the browser MacawSharePointSkinner makes the needed modifications to this HTML. This is done in such a way that no modifications are needed to the internal files of SharePoint, so it is non-intrusive. Another advantage is that it will survive service packs (although the output HTML may change in a service pack!) and template modifications.

Interesting. Get it here. If anyone makes any screenshots of interesting implemetations of this, I would be interested in seeing them.



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Monday, 13 September 2004 21:35:10 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I'll gladly be taking the rest of the week off work, to spend some time with a friend visiting from Germany, Florian. He's the lead programmer on Admin Mod for Half Life, a server add-on for people who run Half Life and HL-Mod (anyone ever heard of CounterStrike?) game servers. I used to be the documentation and PR guy on the project back in the day, but a good guy names Dave has pretty much assumed the documentation role and does a great job with it, and PR is not exactly necessary anymore :-). So, I pretty much just hang out these days. We will be spending some time seeing the sites and cooking on the grill at least once, before heading up to Seattle to visit with Alfred, who originally wrote Admin Mod and now works at Valve Software, the company that created Half Life. He's been pretty busy lately. It will be the first time the three of us have met up in one place at the same time.

It's going to be a good week. :-)

Here are some great ideas people have given for things to do while Florian is here. I think we will pick and choose a few items from this list and a couple other ideas that were passed along:



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Monday, 13 September 2004 20:09:14 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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