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                          Archive for Jan 2007


                          Stubborness Isn't the Same as Resoluteness

                          Barnett on the troop surge strategy: In the normal world, those are all considered big signs that one's thinking is sort of screwed up, but Bush, who confuses stubbornness and incuriosity with resoluteness and certitude, chooses his own path. To me, that's a presidency out of control, lost in its own Gap. From What we're creating in Iraq (Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog)Referenced Wed Jan 31 2007 11:38:14 GMT-0700 (MST) Later he talks about troop counts and effect: Will someone please tell me what Dick Cheney knows that the none of the rest seem able to figure out? Because
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                          Calendars, Concept Count, and User Experience

                          Jon Udell has a detailed post on connecting Google Calendar and Outlook, but that's just the vehicle for talking about "concept counts"--the number of difficult concepts a person must understand and sort out to accomplish some task. Jon enumerates seven for this particular task; clearly too high. He concludes: All this only scratches the surface. We could elaborate a whole lot more of these conceptual underpinnings. Bottom-line: support for standards is necessary but not sufficient. Even when products comply with standards like iCal, people struggle mightily to use those products interoperably. It's the conceptual barriers that get in their
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                          Open Source As Truth

                          Matt Asay, who co-hosts the weekly Technometria podcast I do on IT Conversations, has written an excellent essay on the pragmatism of open source. Matt uses Richardson's William James as a jumping off point. Matt says: Why do I believe open source is the best way to develop, distribute, and support software? Because it works. Some may answer, "But look at Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, etc. Surely they "work" in the sense that they have been massively successful." To this I concur, but with a caveat. Or, rather, with a statement: "at a given moment in time." That is, the
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                          Bosworth on Physics, Psychology, and Software

                          Adam Bosworth almost always makes me think, so I jump at a chance to listen to him or read what he writes. He recently gave a talk in NYC as part of the Google Speaker Series and Darryl Taft wrote up a report at eWeek. Bosworth talked about how physics and psychology affect which applications fail and which succeed. His examples: AJAX, PDAs, and natural language recognition. His recommendations: Keep it simple and stupid--even if that requires more clicks Use AJAX where it makes a difference--not just the geewhiz factor Make your tools transparent and fast Support bottom-up learning
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                          Social Networking Without a Safety Net

                          Jeff Jarvis just got back from Davos where he found plenty of identity-related discussion. Jeff says "One of the thin threads I saw cutting through much of my Davos experience was the notion of identity" and goes on to enumerate many of them, including the trade-off between privacy and reputation and the relationship between reputation and transparency. What caught my eye though, was this: All this opens up lots of opportunities in technology. I said to a couple of my fellow participants at Davos --- a media mogul, an internet entrepreneur --- and I will say it in another
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                          Can You Regulate VoIP?

                          House Bill 119 (First Substitute) would tax VoIP service for E911 service: 3 (a) Except as provided in Subsection (3)(b) and subject to the other provisions of this Subsection (3) a county, city, or town within which 911 emergency telephone service is provided may levy monthly an emergency services telephone charge on: ... (iii) any other service, including voice over Internet protocol, provided to a user within the boundaries of the county, city, or town that allows the user to make calls to and receive calls from the public switched telephone network, including commercial mobile radio service networks. Of
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                          Virtual Market Ponzi Schemes

                          Randolph Harrison has an interesting article asking whether SecondLife is a revolutionary virtual market or a ponzi scheme. Duane Day sent me the link and also this one defending SecondLife.
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                          Information Devices

                          One of my graduate students, Sam Curren, has an interesting post on hardware widgets. One, WidgetStation looks like the kind of thing you could build a nice special purpose dashboard out of. It's nice enough looking that the CEO or CFO wouldn't mind having on their desk.
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                          Senate Radio

                          The Utah Senate has a podcast called Senate Radio, a podcast featuring Utah Senators talking about their bills and ideas. Obviously, the interviewer is a friendly, but there's still some good value here. I like that it's a real podcast--you can subscribe with iTunes or whatever podcatcher you use and have it show up on your iPod if that's what you want. Otherwise, you just go to the site and listen there. I'd like a list of the most recent shows to show up on the page (you can click on "Posts" on the embedded player and get that
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                          White-box Cell Phones

                          I posted a write-up of the discussion on white-box cell phones from the Mobile Identity Workshop at Between the Lines.
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                          Open Podcast Device Ideas

                          Dave posted a list of ideas from this morning's discussion of open podcast devices.
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                          Mobile Identity Workshop 2007

                          Doc Searls is hosting the first Mobile Identity Workshop at cNet headquarters in San Francisco today. I flew out last night. Doc's now a fellow at Harvard's Berkman center and this is one of the topics he's put on his list of things to explore. There's about 100 people here, so it's promising to be a great day. The usual identity gang is here, but there's quite a few new faces as well given the emphasis on mobile. Doc started off the day with a list of statistics, noting that there are 800 million cars in the world, 1.2
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                          Governance As Collaboration: Managing Layers 8 and 9

                          I'm doing a feature for InfoWorld on SOA governance and collaboration. The genesis was a short piece I did for InfoWorld on emerging collaboration options. Somehow Eric Knorr and I got talking about how SOA was a formalization of how collaboration can happen in building distributed applications and that governance was a key part of all that. Governance is a term that has been much hyped in the last year, but that's because it's so important. Like most things, the technology of SOA isn't the hard part--its what Rohit Khare calls level 8 and 9 in the OSI seven-layer
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                          Exploring Interoperability Space

                          Paul Trevethick has put together a document identifying the dimensions along which components and data flows can be changed in user-centric identity systems. His space is a diagram that is general enough to cover most wire-level interactions of various user-centric identity systems. I found it instructive. For any specific set of interactions with various components some of the components or flows would drop out. This is timely because we're trying to figure out how to do interoperability demonstrations for IIW07 in May. That requires mapping out scenarios that various parties will try to play in. Paul's diagram gives a
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                          January CTO Breakfast Report

                          We talked about the recent SHA-1 hack and the MD5 exploits that are available. Lockcrack (a password cracking program) apparently has a table of pre computed hashes now installed that make cracking many hashes a job of just a few seconds. There's a pattern in some technology start-ups where there's a brilliant technologist who has an idea that many others can't quite understand. They attract some money and generate a lot of hype on the basis of their brilliance, but eventually fail because they can't explain what they do. We got into a discussion of phones and convergence. Richard
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                          eGovernment Calendaring for Meetings

                          Sometimes it's the simple things that make the biggest differences--that's true for eGovernment as well. Rep. John Dougall has proposed HB222 in the Utah House to require that "a public body which holds regular meetings that are scheduled in advance over the course of a year shall give public notice at least once each year of its annual meeting schedule...on the Internet, in a manner that is easily accessible to citizens that use the Internet" This is a good move and takes advantage of the strengths of the Internet to inform citizens of when their government is meeting. Naturally,
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                          v|100 Podcast Interview

                          A month or so ago, I was interviewed by Dennis Wood of vSpring Capital as part of their v|100 series. The podcast is now up.
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                          The SHA-1 Defense

                          SHA-1 has been officially cracked. So what? Technically, it probably doesn't mean much. Being able to produce a hash collision doesn't mean that you can produce a meaningful collision. For example if you have a digitally signed contract for $100, you won't be able to produce a contract for $100,000 that has the same signature--at least not yet. What could be a problem are the legal challenges to SHA-1 based signatures on the basis of "reasonable" doubt. George Ou discuses these kinds of challenges and points to the MD5 defense: A Sydney Magistrate threw out the digitally time stamped
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                          Politicopia: Participatory Legislation

                          Steve Urquhart is the Rules Chairman of the Utah House of Representative. Before I worked in the Governor's office, I had no idea what that meant. It's a very powerful position because the Rules Committee essentially decides what bills make it to the floor and can be voted on. In other words, they're the gatekeepers who decide what legislation gets to a vote. Rep. Urquhart is also one of the Utah politicians most committed to transparency in Government. He was one of the first politician bloggers in Utah or anywhere. Now, he's taken a big step toward making the
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                          Building Living Software

                          Steve Yegge rants, in reference to software design, that crap is still crap, no matter how many rubies you swallowed. If software design interests you, then you'll enjoy this--even if you don't agree. As I was reading this, I was reminded several times about Scott Rosenberg's article on Charles Simonyi, Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Meta. Simonyi, who was the force behind Office at Microsoft and arguably the richest programmer in the world, is hot on the heels of a programming methodology he calls "intentional programming" and has a company to develop it Intentional Software. The basic
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                          Practical Choices

                          Barnett has a great post on Israel and Iran and the choices the Israelis face. Puts it in very stark terms.
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                          Distributing the Surveillance Society

                          New York will allow 911 Dispatchers to receive and use images from cell phones. At one point, the surveillance society seemed like it would happen with lots of cameras mounted on lightpoles, but this points to a more distributed method. Make it easy to tattle on your neighbors with cell phones and people will do it.
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                          Digital Certificates for State Government

                          The State of Illinois has been a big proponent of digital certificates for citizens and has been issuing them for some time. People can use these to authenticate to eGovernment applications. Of course, you don't want to force people to use a digital certificate when they renew their driver's license, but there are somethings that require strong authentication and the lack of good ways to accomplish it hampers digital government. According to this story from Government Technology, they just issued their 100,000th digital certificate. They have also cross-certified with the Federal Bridge Certification Authority (FBCA), so these state-issued digital
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                          CTO Breakfast for January (at Novell)

                          It's time to start the CTO Breakfast series for 2007! We'll be meeting in a new place this time, so pay attention. The CTO Breakfast for January will be help Thursday Jan 25th at 8am at the Novell Cafeteria. As usual you can bring any topic that has caught your interest for discussion. I'm anxious to talk about Windows Vista, bad software, and the new iPhone. Here's directions: Take the University Ave exit off I-15, cross University Ave, and turn left (north) onto Novell Place and enter the Novell campus. When you drive up to bldg H (the 8-story
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                          The Coming China Wars

                          I just finished listening to Moira's interview of Peter Navaro on his new book The Coming China Wars. Very interesting. I enjoyed Moira's earlier interview with Peter as well. This is just part one of a two part interview, so I'm looking forward to next week.
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                          The Longtail of Banking

                          This article from the Economist on the unbanked doesn't use the term, but what they're talking about is th long tail of retail banking. I have a friend who, a while back, didn't have any bank accounts. His life wasn't pretty. I've always had a jaundiced view of check cashing establishments--they seem to prey on the poor (and mathematically challenged). On the other hand, I have a friend who runs an emergency dental outfit and many of their customers are "unbanked." Teaming up with a check-cashing outfit allowed them to offer services to these folks--who usually don't have the
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                          Who Owns Your eBay Data

                          In the Who Owns "You" panel at Supernova (available on IT Conversations) the question came up about eBay reputation. An eBay seller's reputation score is calculated from how other eBay users rate the seller. Does that score belong to the seller, the eBay users who contributed to it, or eBay? Pretty easy actually, when you consider the principles of reputation. The eBay score is eBay's story about the user. They calculate that story and it's pretty simple but still they're the ones deciding the algorithm that's used. The eBay users and eBay jointly own the ratings. That is, each
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                          (Not) Scaling MySpace

                          Larry Dignan has a five-point analysis of MySpace's IT infrastructure and it's scaling issues over at Between the Lines. Very interesting. I know a little about MySpace before they were bought and this scaling issue doesn't surprise me. Read the Baseline article for the details. Bonus: I posted a piece on Tivo's walled garden and Tivoserver at BTL this morning.
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                          Blogging for Friends

                          I found this piece by David Carr about 24-hour news people in the Times from a post on Thomas Barnett's blog about why he wouldn't dream of giving up his blog. The gist of both articles is that blogs are lot of work, but once you're hooked, it's hard to imagine life without it. Carr talks about how he has friends from his blog, sort of: There is a serial commenter on my blog and others at The New York Times, "Mark Klein, M.D.," an older, accomplished gentleman with a lot of opinions and time on his hands. He
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                          Adding Value By Taking Away Choice

                          Thomas Beck did a great job of expanding on and adding value to the discussion Matt, Scott and I had with Bryce Roberts on the Technology and Venture Capital podcast from a few weeks ago. His value map is a useful tool for finding value in various delivery chains. I think his equation can be refined however--at least for media plays. He says that value = sevices + device I think the model Spencer Wang presents in The Long Tail: Why Aggregation & Context and Not (Necessarily) Content are King in Entertainment is a good one and it has
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                          Buying Windows Vista

                          A while back, I posted links to reviews of Windows Vista. That page is getting quite a bit of play and undoubtedly, my flippant summary at the end isn't much help for people trying to make buying decisions, so here's my buying advice (with links to Amazon for easy purchasing). First off, will Vista run on your computer? If you're computer is reasonably new (last two years), then you're probably OK. You'll need gobs of memory, however--probably at least 1Gb of RAM. So, make sure you add that into the total purchase price if you decide to upgrade. Now,
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                          Making IT Purchasing Decisions

                          I just published the latest in my Technometria series on IT Conversations, a conversations with Kelly Phillpps. Kelly is someone I've turned to for years because of his way of thinking deeply about issues. We discuss the weeks announcements from CES and MacWorld and those turn to a discussion of open source in the enterprise and how companies make IT purchasing decisions.
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                          Identity Crisis Book Forum

                          Jim Harper will be conducting a book forum on Thursday January 18 at 12pm EST at the Cato Institute in Washington D.C. on his excellent book Identity Crisis: How Identification is Overused and Misunderstood. The event will be streamed if you can't make it to Washington by Thursday. After Jim speaks, there will be comments from, and discussion with, James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Jay Stanley of the ACLU. Jim spoke here in Utah last year and I recorded the talk and placed it on IT Conversations where it continues to attract listeners
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                          Firebug

                          Brent Thompson turned me onto Firebug, a Firefox plugin for inspecting and editing HTML and CSS on pages you're viewing. This is a lot more convenient that editing the CSS and then reloading to see what the change does. You can also edit and debug Javascript on the fly and explore the DOM. Fun stuff. And the fact that it's a plugin for Firefox means that it's OS agnostic.
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                          YouTube For eGovernment

                          David Stephenson's arguing that YouTube will prove itself a critical tool for emergency management. Government agencies could already make much better use of video, podcasts, and screencasts than they do. Once they catch onto their importance, they'll need to realize that content aggregators like YouTube are a much better alternative than burying these services on some agency Web server.
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                          Cisco Sues Apple Over iPhone Name

                          Steve Jobs jumped the gun in announcing the iPhone according to a lawsuit filed today by Cisco. Dan Farber has the entire complaint at Between the Lines. They ought to just call it the Apple Phone. Here's some other related links from Between the Lines: \tCisco explains its decision to sue Apple \tApple picks wrong fight with Cisco; misfires on iPhone trademark \tIf not an Apple iPhone, then what name \tCisco v Apple Trademark Infringement, Unfair Competition Complaint \tCisco sues Apple over the iPhone name What's the rest of the story? Apple can't be that stupid. Or can they?
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                          Using Quicksilver

                          If you use OS X, you should also use Quicksilver. Here's a good tutorial on getting started with Quicksilver and here's one that's a little more advanced.
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                          Why Software Sucks, the Podcast

                          I just published the podcast version of Why Software Sucks on IT Conversations. The interview is part of the Technometria series with David Platt, author of the book. Here's the description of the show: What is the most important thing to the average computer user? They want their machine to "just work". Why does Google know how to correctly translate a United Parcel Service tracking number, while the actual UPS website requires multiple entries just to get to the point where the tracking number can be entered? Programmer David Platt is the author of "Why Software Sucks...and What You
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                          iPhone Is an OSX Computer

                          I'm reading Jason O'Grady's live blogging of the Jobs keynote. Jobs just introduced the iPhone saying "Today, we're introducing three revolutionary products 1. widescreen iPod with touch controls 2. revoutionary mobile phone 3. breakthrough internet communication device" But it's not three products, it's one: the iPhone. It runs OS X and has a multi-touch, 160dpi wide-screen--no stylus. Jason said he was considering leaving the keynote to go buy one. Connectivity is both EDGE and Wi-Fi; it switches between them seamlessly. It features a full Safari browser and real email. Where do I get one? Update: You can't get one...until
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                          Detailed Windows Vista Review

                          Update: See my cheatsheet on Windows Vista Buying Advice for the easy answer of what you need to buy. Have you been wondering just exactly what Window's Vista is and when to upgrade? The most detailed review I've found is from Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows. Admittedly, there's a pro-windows bias here (we all have some kind of bias) and the mousemines that litter the site, waiting for you to accidentally mouse over them and launch a video are truly annoying. Still, there's plenty of good info here. Here's Paul's eight part review: Part 1: Introduction Part 2: Vista
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                          30 Boxes

                          Yesterday Dave Fletcher pointed out 30 Boxed, a tool for building a calendar view of the last 30 days using RSS feeds--any RSS feeds. The calendar includes images, links and other information. Here's one from this blog's RSS. Try building one of your own.
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                          Podcasting: Beyond the Audio

                          Darusha Wehm is the force behind all of supporting material that appears on the IT Conversations Web site for each show. She runs the network of Web site editors who write the text that accompanies each show, trains new editors, handles assignment problems, and answers the questions that come up about sticky situations. She spoke at the last Podcast Academy and I just posted her show on supporting podcasts with other material the IT Conversations homepage.
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                          Podcast Academy V

                          GigaVox Media has announced Podcast Academy V to be held at Duke University on Feb 14-15, 2007. So grab your valentine and head out--if you're interested in Podcasting, there's no better place to learn how to podcast. I went to the last one and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
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                          Top Ten Shows on IT Conversations for December 2006

                          Here are the top ten most popular shows on IT Conversations for December by downloads: Tim O'Reilly's O'Reilly Radar from the MySQL conference Steven Levy - How the iPod Shuffles Culture Alistair Cockburn - Redefining Software Engineering Emerging Telephony Sessions - Community & Activism The Wireless Explosion - Supernova2006 Rohit Khare - Decentralization in Commerce and Open Source IEEE Spectrum Radio - Reconstructing Iraq's Power Grid Alisson Young - Bringing Down the Price of Drugs Lebkowsky & Rosen - Political Networks John Ostrem - LiPs Linux Phone Initiative Overall in December we served up over 800 unique MP3 files
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                          BibDesk for BibTeX

                          If you use BibTeX for managing paper references (and after all, who doesn't) and you use a Mac, then you should know about BibDesk, an open source tool for managing BibTeX bibliography files. BibDesk is at a great intersection: open source tool used by people who, for the most part, know how to program. There are frequent updates and the set of features is impressive. For example, I love the ability to not only manage the bibliographic data for an article, but the PDF as well, if I happen to have it. It turns my BibTeX file into a
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                          I-names and Usability

                          Kaliya likes i-names. She does a good job in this post of articulating why. There are a few things she points out, however, that will only be "good" and "simple" if we choose to make them so. In particular, she says "[d]omain names system usability sucks." The unstated implication is that XRI resolution won't. It's hard to tell since the tools for letting users do that aren't really available yet. Will they be better and easier to use? WE can only hope. Also, i-names are deceptively simple now because not many people are using them. What happens when all
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                          IEEE Spectrum Radio Shorts

                          The edition of IEEE Spectrum Radio I just published is a small experiment. Some of the features we get from Spectrum are shorter than our normal format. I decided we'd combine them into a single show. For example, this show is only 23 minutes long and contains four short programs on Sudoku, exoskeletons, housefly aeronatics, and Microsoft's MyLifeBits project. We'll probably do this about once a month. Let me know whether you like it or not.
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                          Routing Around VMWare

                          Today Terry Wilcox, my grad students working on virtualization informed me that he had Xen installed and working on our virtualization testbed (two dell 6650's with 4 CPUs and 16Gb of RAM). Working means that he can transfer running instances from one box to the other. We have been doing a lot of performance studies of VMWare's ESX, but switched to Xen for the next part of Terry's research. The reason isn't that we wanted some infrastructural diversity, although that's not all bad. The reason is that we had reason to fear that VMWare might hinder the publication of
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                          Installing MS-DOS in Parallels

                          In the fun, but mostly useless, knowledge category, tonight I loaded MS-DOS 6.22 onto Parallels. I didn't have a copy on CD, only floppies and I couldn't get Parallels to see the USB floppy, but I was able to easily make floppy disk images of the originals and mount those. Here's how: Plug in the USB floppy drive and load the floppy. You should be able to see all the files from the Mac Finder window. Start OS X's Disk Utility application. Click on the floppy and then click "New Image" in the menu bar of Disk Utility. Select
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                          Who Wants To Be a VC?

                          Over the holidays I published a reduced schedule on IT Conversations. But we start the new year off with a full slate of great shows. Today I put up the Technometria show featuring Bryce Roberts of O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures. Talking with Bryce was fun. At one point I asked him how one becomes a venture capitalist, so if you've ever wondered, give it a listen.
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                          Teaching Yourself to Program

                          This article from Peter Norvig on teaching yourself to program in 10 years has been around for a while, but it's still worth reading. The basic points? Get interested in programming, pick an interactive language, and do it--for a long time.
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