Monday, 20 February 2006

Microsoft has posted information regarding which apps will be included in each of the Office 2007 product suites, as well as pricing for the packages and individual apps/servers.

In Word .doc format:



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Office 2003 | SharePoint | Tech
Monday, 20 February 2006 08:42:37 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 19 February 2006

If you have not yet checked out BlogCode.com, I'd suggest you give it a try. It allows you to submit your blog, answer a few category ranking questions, and then see which other blogs are most like yours.

Alternatively, you can browse their listing for other blogs that have been "coded," look for your favorite blogs, and see other blogs that are similar.

The idea is that the blogs listed might be ones you'd like to read. Certainly there are other uses, as well.

I coded my blog the other day, and below are the closest-matched weblogs (as of the date this post is published) relative to the greghughes.net weblog. Per the folks at BlogCode.com, an 80% or better match is considered a very high score. Many of these blogs I already read or have read before, and some are new and unknown to me. I'll definitely have something to look around at for a while now.

Blog Name/URL
(click each for blogcode results)
BlogCode
Match
Scobleizer (http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/)
79.22 %
TechCrunch (http://www.techcrunch.com)
78.21 %
Agylen (http://agylen.com/)
77.96 %
Kevin Harder (http://kevinharder.com/blogs/kevin)
76.72 %
Ben Metcalfe Blog (http://benmetcalfe.com/blog/)
76.71 %
EvilSpudBoy (http://www.evilspudboy.net/)
76.43 %
Licence to Roam (http://blog.bibrik.com)
76.25 %
Newest Industry, The (http://newestindustry.org)
76.18 %
NeoThermic.com -- The well of information
(http://www.neothermic.com)
75.95 %
FreeCashSpace
(http://blog.freecashspace.com/index.html)
75.93 %
A Venture Forth (http://aventureforth.com)
75.89 %
Solution Watch (http://www.solutionwatch.com)
75.81 %
blogging.wurk.net (http://blogging.wurk.net)
75.64 %
Life On The Wicked Stage: Act 2
(http://wickedstageact2.typepad.com/)
75.43 %
PHOSITA ::: an IP law blog!
(http://www.okpatents.com/phosita)
75.36 %
07Designs (http://www.07designs.com/)
75.12 %
Sunday Bytes (http://sundaybytes.com)
74.68 %
The Daily ACK (http://www.babilim.co.uk/blog/)
74.34 %
inluminent.com (http://inluminent.com)
74.29 %
adverblog (http://www.adverblog.com)
74.28 %
mathewingram.com/work
(http://www.mathewingram.com/work)
74.26 %
integrating developer process
(http://idp.shmarya.net)
74.24 %
View from the Isle
(http://blog.larixconsulting.com/)
74.09 %
disambiguity (http://www.disambiguity.com)
73.72 %
Brandopia (http://brandopia.blogspot.com)
73.71 %
Creative Tech Writer, The
(http://www.creativetechwriter.com)
73.65 %
Church Tech Matters (http://churchtechmatters.com)
73.62 %
Larry Borsato (http://www.larryborsato.com)
73.56 %
Linickx.com (http://www.linickx.com/blog)
73.49 %
brilliantdays.com (http://brilliantdays.com)
73.49 %
LaughingMeme (http://laughingmeme.org)
73.40 %
Superaff: The Affiliate Marketing Blog
(http://superaff.com)
73.34 %
rexblog (http://www.rexblog.com)
73.30 %
Keith`s Inklings (http://talideon.com/weblog/)
73.29 %
Seven Degrees (http://sevendegrees.blogspot.com/)
73.27 %
StartupBoy.com - Journal
(http://www.startupboy.com)
73.04 %
Vinny Carpenter`s blog
(http://www.j2eegeek.com/blog)
73.00 %
A View Inside My Head
(http://jasonf-blog.blogspot.com)
72.96 %
michael parekh on IT (http://mp.blogs.com)
72.79 %
Ninefish Tales (http://www.ninefish.com/blog)
72.54 %



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Blogging | Tech
Sunday, 19 February 2006 15:03:08 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Windows Defender LogoOn Friday Microsoft released a the latest version of their anti-malware product, which is now called Windows® Defender (Beta 2). This software replaces the product formally known as Microsoft Antispyware. There's both 32- and 64-bit versions available to download.

I've installed it and it runs just fine, but I get an error when it tries to update itself with the latest detection signatures. I'll try a reboot and see what happens a little later on. Hopefully that will help.

The new UI is nicely done, and I like the fact that you don't have to be an administrator to run Defender.

Defender information 
on Microsoft.com:

Windows Defender home

Product information
•  Beta overview
•  FAQ
•  System requirements
•  Release notes
Support and training
•  Getting started
•  Beyond basics
Resources for software vendors
Microsoft's focus on spyware

From the Windows Defender download site:

Windows Defender (Beta 2) is a free program that helps you stay productive by protecting your computer against pop-ups, slow performance and security threats caused by spyware and other potentially unwanted software.

This release includes enhanced features that reflect ongoing input from customers, as well as Microsoft’s growing understanding of the spyware landscape.

Specific features of Windows Defender Beta 2 include:

  • A redesigned and simplified user interface – Incorporating feedback from our customers, the Windows Defender UI has been redesigned to make common tasks easier to accomplish with a warning system that adapts alert levels according to the severity of a threat so that it is less intrusive overall, but still ensures the user does not miss the most urgent alerts.
  • Improved detection and removal – Based on a new engine, Windows Defender is able to detect and remove more threats posed by spyware and other potentially unwanted software. Real Time Protection has also been enhanced to better monitor key points in the operating system for changes.
  • Protection for all users – Windows Defender can be run by all users on a computer with or without administrative privileges. This ensures that all users on a computer are protected by Windows Defender.
  • Support for 64-bit platforms, accessibility and localization - Windows Defender Beta 2 also adds support for accessibility and 64-bit platforms. Microsoft also plans to release German and Japanese localized versions of Windows Defender Beta 2 soon after the availability of the English versions. Use WindowsDefenderX64.msi for 64-bit platforms.


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IT Security | Safe Computing | Tech
Sunday, 19 February 2006 13:46:39 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 17 February 2006

(This is not a techie post, but since there are many people out there asking how I am doing after surgery, I'll write about it here. It will also help me remember how things went and what happened when)

It's two days after my surgery, and I'm heading home this evening from the hospital, which I am looking forward to. This hospital is great (truly), but somehow the idea of having a fire in the fireplace and being in familiar surroundings is more appealing.

My body hurts, pretty bad. Like I got hit by a truck. but it's not the old pain, which is great. I can walk a short while (well, it's a lot like walking, but it's labored at best), and the physical therapist had me walk up and down a flight of training stairs. Who would have known it could be so much work? This is a lot like learning to walk all over again.

I was able to take a quick shower today (they do some fancy stuff with the incision when they close you up, and showering is actually a good thing to do once you're up to standing for that long). Thank goodness! The hot water helped relax some of my tense muscles.

Yesterday was hell. Starting with X-rays (which came out just fine), standing up was very painful - I had terrible muscle spasms in my lower back and legs, along with pain and nausea. Nothing like feeling nauseas and (forgive the graphical discussion) having to puke, which of course hurts like hell since your abdominal muscles contract hard each time. I'm glad that phase seems to be over with.

Kineflex-1More than a few people have asked me what exactly they did to my back during this surgery. I've decided its not a big secret or anything, and that in fact it's really very interesting. First they removed the inter-vertebral disc in the lowest part of my lower back, at the L5/S1 space. Discs in your back are the softer tissues between the bony vertebrae that act as shock absorbers and allow your back to move in all directions. think of them as like a little pillow filled with squishy stuff (well, sort of). Mine was herniated (torn and pooching out into the space where the nerves run) and degenerated (loss of water and height, thinner than it used to be). In other words, pretty much all ragged and shot. The medical term for the thinning and drying out of the disc is "Degenerative Disc Disease." You body won't correct it on it's own - the physical damage is done and it usually just gets worse over time.

Once they removed the bad disc, they put in an artificial disc replacement implant - a spinal prosthesis, you could say. It's called a Kineflex lumbar artificial disc, and you can see a quick video of what it looks like and how it works here. The Kineflex device is a newer design, and I received it through a study program that is comparing the Kineflex disc to the Charite disc as part of a FDA clinical trial in the United States (email or call me if you want some details - contact info is in the right-side menu bar). I did a lot of research - on fusion options, artificial disc options, do-nothing options, individual surgeons, etc - before I decided to go this route. Artificial discs are - in the right patients - an alternative to fusion of the two bones. The ADR devices don't act like a shock absorber (neither does fusion, for that matter), but they do retain close to natural motion in the joint. As you might imagine, it's a fairly expensive procedure, and at least for now insurance companies in the United States are rarely paying for the procedure because it's too new for them (the first model to get FDA approval was the Charite and that was in the fall of 2004), and they instead prefer the fusion route. That's the way health care works.

And for those people looking here for technical posts - well, sorry. They'll be back soon enough.



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Kineflex Artificial Disc Surgery | Personal Stories
Friday, 17 February 2006 13:59:15 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 13 February 2006

I've been heard on occasion to suggest that it might be a good (or at least interesting) idea to turn off email in the workplace and to resort to more personal means of communication, like say in-person. Or on the phone. Anything that's not written.

Why? Because, it can be so hard to really understand what someone is saying, and especially difficult (if not impossible) to tell what they mean. When you're talking about business relationships, it's hard to believe one can make good, solid decisions based on conversations as limited as email.

Now there's some research that supports my hair-brained suggestions:

According to recent research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, I've only a 50-50 chance of ascertaining the tone of any e-mail message. The study also shows that people think they've correctly interpreted the tone of e-mails they receive 90 percent of the time.

"That's how flame wars get started," says psychologist Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago, who conducted the research with Justin Kruger of New York University. "People in our study were convinced they've accurately understood the tone of an e-mail message when in fact their odds are no better than chance," says Epley.

One thing's for sure: Simply knowing what the results of this research tell us could make a difference in daily email communication practice.

Does your place of work ever discuss email communication, its pitfalls, and etiquette? Now that's a topic that's worth some face time.

(via wired.com)



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Tech | Things that Suck
Monday, 13 February 2006 07:19:07 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 12 February 2006

If the knife doesn't kill me, the stress just might... On Wednesday at around 7am I'll be up in the Seattle area on a table in a surgical suite, and with any luck about an hour and a half (or so) later I'll be hallucinating and stuff in the recovery room as the proud and successful recipient of a artificial disc replacement at the L5/S1 joint in my lower back. I get to lay around in a hospital bed for a couple/few days, then can head home to lie around a whole lot more.

It's not quite Steve Austin style stuff, but the plan is to replace a collapsed, herniated and generally failed lumbar disc with a mechanical replacement. I'll be like a scaled-down version the bionic man. Not quite six million dollars worth of work (more like in the tens of thousands), but I am told they can rebuild me, they have the technology.

MRI picture from a while backTruth be told, I'm just a bit scared. I've never been through surgery anywhere near this extensive before, and the decision to do this has been a long and tedious process involving a lot of risk and personal decisions. In the past I've had epidural injections of cortisone, lots of physical therapy, a minimally-invasive microdiscectomy surgical procedure, more physical therapy, medication, rest, exercise, you name it. But when a body part's shot, it's just shot.

Since then I decided - after meeting with a few highly regarded and experienced surgeons who told me I'm just delaying the inevitable fusion or artificial disc surgery - to stick it out for a while and see if I could just deal with the pain. The problem is, in order to do that I've had to keep myself from doing a lot of the things one needs to do in a normal life from day to day, as well as a lot of the things that help make life enjoyable, and that's no good.

So, here I am. Surgery could mean a great improvement in my quality of life. Of course it's not without risks (you really want someone operating on your spine?), and the past year has been mostly about deciding whether the risks of the procedure are worth the potential benefits and avoiding surgery. The pain has not improved much if at all, it always limits me, and at many times it's quite unbearable. Life's no good like this. So, it's time. My doctor is very experienced and I have lots of confidence in him. The facility is great. No more excuses.

As always seems to happen (Ask Murphy why, I sure there's a law about it), workplace and life situations, stresses and pressures are coming to a head right about the time I have to do this surgery, but I've decided that I really only get one life, and one body for that life. Jobs are something that can flex and be molded and true friends will wait, so while I'm wanting to get back to work and life as soon as it's realistic, I have to take care of this other stuff first, slow and steady as they say.

But I'm not just worried and scared. I'm also excited. The prospect of healing and being able to do many of the things I used to take for granted is truly something to look forward to - things like loading the trash cans into the truck to take to the dump, or walking the dog more than a quarter mile, or riding a bike or my motorcycle, or sitting in a chair for more than 15 minutes at a time, or even just being able to pick things up off the floor. 

That and not falling flat on my face in the hallway because I twist or step the wrong way, or because I drag my leg and pain shoots out my foot - That's just one of many things I am looking forward to no longer experiencing.

Anyhow, It'll be lighter than usual posting here probably for a little while 'til this is behind me. Maybe a little bit more to write over the next couple days, but come Wednesday I think I'll be rather out of it. Cross your fingers for me.



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Kineflex Artificial Disc Surgery | Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Sunday, 12 February 2006 13:30:38 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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