Friday, 11 November 2005

I've spent way too much time in the past 24 hours driving my cat absolutely crazy with a little laser pointer. It's hilarious to watch her chase that bright red dot all over the room, across the floor and up walls and around/over furniture. But hey, it's great exercise. Heh.

I got the little laser pointer with my new holography book that recently arrived in the mail. I decided recently to give the one form of photography I've not yet done a try. The rest of the needed materials are on order, will be here before too long.

I've wanted to make holograms since I was a kid. My dad's a physicist and he has mostly always worked with lasers in some shape or form (and he still does today). I remember when I was a kid and he brought a laser home one night and showed me how it worked. I think he explained the inner workings, too, but that night I was amazed by what I saw. I was completely hooked and since then have been fascinated with them. I still enjoy learning about them. Add to that several years of professional photography experience, and - well - this is just a natural when-I-get-around-to-it hobby for me.

The book I just received is called Shoebox Holography, and I ordered a good, inexpensive laser pointer with the book. The book is very good, and any teachers or students looking to use holography for school projects would find it excellent and easy to understand, as well as quite complete in its explanations. Recommended.

But the cat's getting locked out of the room when I make holograms. Something about that combination seems unworkable.

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Geek Out | Random Stuff
Friday, 11 November 2005 15:39:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Web services - are you ready for it? Take the quiz at CIO magazine online. Find out where you rank. I scored 80. Of course, we're already grokking them. How about you?

Platform, vendor and language independence - sounds pretty good to those people who are responsible for tying all these systems and companies and technologies together. When Microsoft launched their .NET initiatives a while back, the industry thought it was a lock-in situation - that Microsoft was making a move to own a market and that the effort was doomed to fail. But as it turns out, what the .NET story and other efforts have driven (at least in part - it's not just a Microsoft thing at all) is the continued growth of interoperability - through web services. Walls have been torn down in the process, not built up.

And now we're starting to see the popular landscape (this is not anything new, it's been around for years now) shift more toward a services-oriented model of application development. Some say it's Google taking on Microsoft. Whatever. What really matters (or should matter) to businesses today is participation. Time to get on-board if you're not on this rocket ship already.

(via Adam Gaffin)

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Friday, 11 November 2005 07:55:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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If you didn't notice, Research in Motion - the wildly successful and smart company that created and sells BlackBerry devices and the services they run on - has been the subject of great debate recently, due to a patent conflict that's working it's way through the U.S. courts. In a nutshell, there's this other company that claims they own the rights to the concepts that the BlackBerry devices run on. RIM says not so.

People have been all but freaking out every time a news article comes out that suggests the patent dispute could cause BlackBerry services in the U.S. to be shut down. Anyone who reads the court decisions and can follow the parallel court cases can tell that the likelihood of this is very low. But hey, "news" is just acting like it's old typical self (meaning hyperbole and emotional button pushing). The patents claimed by RIM's opponent (a company called NTP) have been challenged and practically invalidated. But since that's happening in another court, I guess the news services just selectively choose what to report on.

Anyhow - What I think is the most interesting event to come out of the recent news, though, is the fact that the U.S. Government's Department of Justice has made an argument in the courts that the RIM/Blackberry services are necessary as a matter of national security. As it turns out, their highly-secure infrastructure and right-now capabilities of the network and servers has become a critical piece of how many government employees and agencies communicate.

The government department wants 90 days notice before a U.S. trial court enforces the potentially crippling injunction on BlackBerry devices in the United States to ensure public workers can keep using the devices, which many users call "CrackBerrys" for their addictive nature.

Lance Johnson, an intellectual property lawyer in Washington, D.C., said the filing is good news for RIM.

"This really throws a wrench into things [for NTP]," Mr. Johnson said. "It brings to this [legal] forum a national-security and government-functioning imperative that was not there before."

The U.S. government also said the extra time is necessary so the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office can reconsider the validity of wireless e-mail patents held by NTP. The Patent Office has already overturned the five disputed patents filed by since-deceased inventor Thomas Campana Jr., although NTP has asked the patent office to reconsider its decision.

If the patents are overturned, the four-year-old court case would be rendered moot, legal experts say.

The real test of technology success today is acceptance and dependence, let's face it. And RIM has put together a quality service and set of infrastructure and devices over the past several years. You want to know how hard RIM is to knock over? Pretty hard, I'd say. A little more coverage is available here.

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Friday, 11 November 2005 07:19:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 07 November 2005

Time for a weather post, so someone out there can complain about how lame weather posts are...

The temperature has officially dropped below the freezing mark here in my part of rural northwestern Oregon for the first time this fall. Just a little crunchy effect walking across the lawn, and dang, it's kinda cold outside.

Snow is on the mountains and the ski hills have started to open. That's a lot more than you could say for last year, when the ski season was pretty much terrible. Maybe we'll end up with another of those storms that snowed us in a couple years ago. Well, we can always hope.

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Random Stuff
Monday, 07 November 2005 20:26:06 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 05 November 2005

Well, it's getting more and more interesting (and official) with each passing day. The anti-spyware team at Microsoft has announced the new name for their anti-spyware application (which really handles more than spyware). It's going to be called Windows Defender, and will ship with Vista. That's good news. Even more good news comes in the later part of the blog announcement, where Jason Garms explains the package will also be available to Windows XP users.

They'll be delivering the malware signature updates over Windows Server Update Service (WSUS), as well. As a result, "Windows Defender" will begin appearing in the WSUS product list and a category called "signatures" will also appear. It sounds like a beta will be released sometime in the future that will take advantage of those update facilities.

Read the announcement here.

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IT Security | Tech
Saturday, 05 November 2005 06:59:31 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 02 November 2005

Yahoo! released a new version of it's mapping web service today, and it has a bunch of notable changes and improvements. the first thing I noticed was the "ajax-y" UI, which lets you do the gotta-have-it, grab-and-drag scrolling that's all the rage, and which adds a fairly nifty animated zooming feature that's quite a bit fancier than the competition's. Plus Yahoo! Local is integrated. And you can mash-up with their APIs. Check out this cool mashed-up application that shows local events using maps, images, local search, and other services all combined.

Another cool feature of the new mapping service is live traffic conditions for major thoroughfares, color coded for easy analysis:

   Yahoomapsbeta1  Yahoomapsbeta4

I also like that I can get multi-point driving directions from Point A to Point B, then Add Point C and D and on and on - The result is one full set of directions for a full trip worth of driving, all on one map. Quite useful, and very easy to use.


Check it out at and provide Yahoo! with your feedback by clicking here.

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Wednesday, 02 November 2005 20:57:28 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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