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                          Archive for Feb 2007


                          John Wait on Technometria

                          I just published an interview with John Wait on the Technometria podcast. John's got a long tenure in the publishing business and spends most of his time looking at how new digital tools affect the more traditional business of publishing books. We had a very enjoyable chat. I'm sure you'll enjoy listening to it.
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                          Talking Portraits Debuts on IT Conversations

                          Today, a new series, Talking Portraits made its debut appearance on IT Conversations. Talking Portraits is hosted by Tom Parish, who's been doing podcasting for along time and audio on the 'Net even longer. On Talking Portraits, you can expect thought-provoking shows about technology and the people behind it. I'm proud to have Tom as part of the IT Conversations team and hope you'll enjoy his show.
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                          IT Conversations Meetup: San Diego, March 27

                          I'm going to be in San Diego for O'Reilly's Emerging Technology Conference the end of March and thought it would be fun to have a Meetup for IT Conversations. If you're going to ETech, or are simply in San Diego, and you'd like to meet and talk to other IT Conversations listeners, hosts, or staff, then mark March 27 on your calendar. This is a great opportunity to continue the conversation in person. We'll talk about technology, IT Conversations, podcasting, and more. I hope you'll be there. We'll be meeting at 7:30 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Watch for
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                          OpenID Economics Centers on Relying Parties

                          Tim Bray has written a post saying that OpenID seems pretty useless and then points out some problems and possible solutions. The ironic thing is I can't argue with many of his points, but come to a very different conclusion. I don't intend to respond point by point. He's spot on, for example, in what he says about TLS. While the OpenID spec tries to stay away from specific authentication mechanisms and has been subjected to considerable security analysis over the months, there's not reason not to require HTTP transport happen over TLS. In practice, however, I doubt any
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                          Beautiful and Disturbing

                          Charlain has a humorous and interesting look at what it's like to get a new machine with Vista on it. Beautiful and disturbing.
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                          Using OpenID Delegation

                          In a comment on my post about OpenID being an official lifehack now, Richard Miller asks "which OpenID provider do you suggest?" The good news is that OpenID has a layer of indirection builtin, so it's not critical that you choose correctly. Here's how it works. First, you need pick a URL to serve as your OpenID. It doesn't need to be an OpenID provider and you don't need to install a server at that URL. I'd recommend choosing one that you believe you'll be able to hold onto for a good long time. That's going to be the
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                          Leaving Arkansas

                          I'm about to board my flight to Salt Lake City, leaving Arkansas after my first visit ever. Besides being able to put another notch in my belt, the trip was a good one for other reasons as well. I enjoyed the small town feel of Jonesboro, the drive from Little Rock, and, especially, the BBQ. The Identity Solutions Symposium was good, providing me with some new things to think about and many new contacts in the world of identity. All in all, a worthwhile trip.
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                          OpenID is a Lifehack

                          Lifehacked reposted a screencast (original from Simon Willison) today showing how to sign up for and use an OpenID. OpenID is now, officially, a way to make you live better, more efficient, and happier. Really.
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                          The Economics of OpenID

                          I spoke at the Identity Solutions Symposium on the topic of Social and Economic Aspects of Identity (PDF of slides). This is a difficult topic because there is so much to say and so many issues that you could cover. One of the things I didn't talk about that I wish I'd had time to cover was the developing economics around user-centric identity. With announcements like OpenID and CardSpace interoperability and AOL's support for OpenID only a few weeks old, I think that we're getting very close to the identity "big bang" that Kim Cameron talks about. If you're
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                          Man In the Browser Attack

                          Russ Jones, a professor at Arkansas State University gave a presentation on phishing and mentioned a term I'd not heard before the "man-in-the-browser attack." The idea is to install a trojan on the browser that presents a small, borderless window in the browser that overlays the login fields of the target site in a way that can't be detected by the user. The user is at the real site (so the cert will check out), but the credentials are stolen when the user tries to login. Here's a paper that describes the attack and some potential countermeasures.
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                          Are You a Product or a Brand?

                          There's been a lot written over the years on the ideas of the personal brand. I'm always surprised how many otherwise bright people will go get a Hotmail account when what they need is a professional, personal email address. Part of blogging's appeal to many is the chance to build personal brand. Tom Peters says "To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You." I was just reading a post by Chris Borgan about making money from podcasts called Your Show Itself is NOT the Money Maker. He says:
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                          Cancelable Biometrics

                          One of the problems with biometrics is that they're difficult to reset. Lose your password, you get a new one. If someone compromises your biometric data, how do you get new fingerprints? The invariance over time of biometric data is one of it's greatest strengths as well as one of it's greatest weaknesses. The biggest threat isn't that someone will steal your fingerprints, retinas, or other body parts from you (action movies being the obvious exception). Rather, it's that once the biometric data (features) about the artifact have been stored in the computer, they can be stolen and replayed.
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                          Cloning a Verichip and Other RFID Fun

                          Dale Thompson from the University of Arkansas spoke about RFIDs (surprisingly, many of the talks are tutorial in nature, which I hadn't suspected would be the case). He mentioned Verichip, which is an RFID device the size of a grain of rice that is certified for implanting in humans. I had heard of Verichip, but was curious. Of course, the obvious question is how secure is such a device. The answer appears to be "not very." Jonathan Westhues has a detailed Web site describing how to clone the data on the chip. He also has an easy do-it-yourself version
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                          Would You Like to Update Now?

                          This morning Michael Sullivan of Booz Allen Hamilton was speaking about bar codes and his computer flashed a "Would you like to update..." message. I had to laugh at the inappropriateness of the message in the context. Vista is supposed to be smarter about knowing that you're giving a presentation and not interrupting, but in truth there's almost no context where I want to be interrupted to answer that question. Of course, systems need to be updated and without reminders, we're unlikely to remember. What I really want is an interface to my todo system so that such tasks
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                          Digital Identity for Cattle

                          Marion Berry is the representative for the Arkansas First District in Congress, and the opening keynote at today's meeting. He seemed passably informed on identity issues, noting how important identity is in modern society. He's a supporter of the Real ID act, which makes me wonder whether he understands the implications of identity policy. He took questions at the end of his talk. One questioner asked him to respond to Arkansas farmers opposition to cattle tagging. I wasn't aware of the issue before. The program is part of some federal effort to track food supplies. I've written about this
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                          Viacom, Joost, and YouTube

                          Today, Viacom stuck it to YouTube and Google by cutting a deal with Joost to host Viacom videos. So far no Comedy Central. Here's the question that this raises: what happens to cable companies when content owners like Viacom are making deals with Internet companies for distribution? Now would be a great time to short cable stocks.
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                          Arkansas and Identity

                          I'm in Arkansas at the Identity Solutions Symposium and Workshop in Jonesboro. I speak Thursday on the social and economic aspects of digital identity. I'm looking forward to it. I've never been to Arkansas before. I flew into Little Rock and drove up to Jonesboro because the flights into Memphis didn't work out timewise. The drive is about 2.5 hours, so I had plenty of time to get acquainted with Northeast Arkansas. The rental car lottery gave me a PT Cruiser. I've never driven one before--I wouldn't say it's a particularly fun car to drive. Boring actually. But I
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                          Rentals on Rails

                          Cid Dennis, an old friend from the iMall days--and one of the best programmers I know--has built his first Rails application: RentSpider, a rental property listing service. Go Cid!
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                          Two Factor Authentication with a Bookmarklet

                          I've been meaning to write about this all week, but kept forgetting. Ben Adida has proposed a two-factor authentication scheme using a bookmarklet which looks pretty cool. Ben calls this a "bookmark," but I prefer "bookmarklet" since it's a bookmark that contains a runnable Javascript. The solution seems pretty cool. My biggest question centers on usability. When you imagine this scenario with one site, it seems simple enough, but if every place you wanted to log into on the 'Net needed a bookmarklet, you'd have a bookmarks file full of entries to allow you to log in. What a
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                          Speaking of Blogging...

                          I spoke about blogging today to the Utah Valley Chapter of the PRSA. I enjoyed it a lot. Lots of good discussion and interest. Kip Meacham also spoke. In a reversal of roles, the techie (me) spoke about why blog and the marketer (Kip) spoke to the mechanics of blogging. Noelle Bates of Logoworks set it all up. Here's a copy of my slides. The only problem with an event like this is that one hour (Kip and I each had an hour) is hardly enough to get started. For example, I didn't get into much on the "corporate
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                          Designating Blog Collections by Photograph

                          I'm taken with the design of the mezzoblue blog. The archiving is done by "collection" where each collection is identified by a photograph and the color palette for that collection is based on the photo. Very nice. The blog is the work of Dave Shea, one of the authors of The Zen of CSS Design: Visual Enlightenment for the Web, one of my favorite CSS books.
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                          Controlling Amazon's EC2 with Capistrano and Rake

                          Steve Spigarelli sent me a link to this description of how to control EC2 from rake, the Ruby build manager. The implementation uses Capistrano, a Ruby utility for executing multiple commands on remote server in parallel. This is very timely since I just posted the Technometria podcast with Doug Kaye and Jeff Barr on using Amazon's Web services (AWS) for large, sophisticated applications. This has been on my mind of late and its nice to see some specifics about doing it. The Niblets post gives some great detail on how to manage the instances. I just relistened to the
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                          Power Line Innovations

                          I have an undergraduate degree in Metallurgical Engineering. That's probably why I enjoyed the first segment of this IEEE Spectrum Radio program on composite power lines so much. No accounting for taste, I suppose. The other segments on home-scale windmills and paying for non-consumption were interesting as well. I added it on my personal queue at IT Conversations.
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                          Eclipse Haiku

                          As part of a longer post Steve Yegge offers up this Eclipse haiku: startApplication() thenWaitFriggingForever() thenItGoesRealSlow() Funny.
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                          Karen Stephenson on Social Network Analysis

                          If you miss PopTech! on IT Conversations (and I do) then listen to this talk by Karen Stephenson on Social Network Analysis from MeshForum. It's every bit as good as anything from PopTech! Whether you're interested in social networking, organizational issues, management, or group interaction, there's something here for you. Fascinating stuff.
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                          eVoting Machine Secrets for $82

                          Princeton computer science professor Andrew Appel paid $82 to acquire five Sequoia electronic voting machines from a government auction site. This is the first time anyone's examined a Sequoia machine without signing an NDA. Here's his story.
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                          Broken Scroll Ball on Mighty Mouse

                          I know a lot of people don't like Apple's Mighty Mouse, but I actually like the thing--at least the bluetooth version. It's small, fits in my backpack and pairs with my MacBook Pro consistently (which can't be said of all the Bluetooth mice I've owned). The one I keep in my office, however had a problem: the scroll ball stopped scrolling up. Down, right and left all worked. It was annoying. I was wondering if I needed to send it in to be fixed (or simply buy a new one). I fixed it. Turns out the sensor for scrolling
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                          AOL Deploys OpenID

                          On Wednesday, John Panzer of AOL announced that AOL has deployed OpenID on top of their identity system. What this means is that if you have an AOL identifier (including AIM), you've got an OpenID and can use your AOL identifier to login to OpenID enabled Web sites. Here's what John says: Here's where we are today: Every AOL/AIM user now has at least one OpenID URI, http://openid.aol.com/. This experimental OpenID 1.1 Provider service is available now and we are conducting compatibility tests. We're working with OpenID relying parties to resolve compatibility issues. Our blogging platform has enabled basic
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                          Building Newsletters for IT Conversations

                          I was a little late getting this week's IT Conversations newsletter out because I was trying to finish my tool for building the newsletter. I like building tools because they help me leverage my time. The newsletter tool is written in Perl. It downloads and parses two different RSS feeds and a zipped CSV file with ratings data. I only want items in the two RSS feeds that haven't been seen before so I have to have a persistent hash to remember the GUIDs of previously seen items. The tool also sorts the shows using the ratings data (which
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                          Harvesting Underwater Logs

                          I was fascinated by the Wired article on using submersible robots to harvest underwater forests (and there's a lot of wood underwater, as it turns out).
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                          CTO Breakfast Report: The No-Employee Business

                          At this months' CTO Breakfast we had a long discussion about preparing students for careers in software this morning. We debated how much students need to know real tools like Subversion, Eclipse, Ant, and so on versus knowing how to design. I'm not convinced that the two are separable, which was another thread in the discussion. No decisions, naturally, but informative to me and I hope others. This led to a discussion of off shoring which then led to a longer discussion on switching from a reliance on paychecks to living from multiple revenue streams. Of course, this is
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                          Behind the Scenes: Producing the Technometria Podcast

                          Paul Figgiani, the Executive Producer of the Podcast Academy Channel and the Senior Audio Engineer for IT Conversations wrote up a behind the scenes description of what we did to make this weeks Technometria podcast with Doug Kaye and Jeff Barr. As Paul points out, there are seven people directly involved: the five people on the call and Paul and Joel Tscherne, the Series Producer for Technometria working behind the scenes. This is a good description of what it takes to make a show. I'm lucky to have good support--Paul and Joel do their jobs well and it makes
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                          Repricocity, Trust, and Reputation

                          Chris Slater presented A Computational Model of Trust and Reputation today in class. The paper introduces three concepts--reputation, reciprocity, and trust--and how they relate to each other. We talk a lot about reputation and trust, but don't often consider reciprocity. They define reciprocity as a "mutual exchange of deeds (such as favor or revenge)." In a reputation system focused on stopping blog comment spam, for example, the engine that calculates the score is calculating reputation, the threshold that you set in your software (e.g. moderate commenters with scores below 20) is the trust metric. Reciprocity is the probability that
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                          How Many of Me?

                          We all know that names aren't unique identifiers, but just how many people share your name? HowManyOfMe.com gives you an answer. I benefit from having an unusual last name and a fairly uncommon first name as well. There are three of me: HowManyOfMe.comThere are:3people with my namein the U.S.A.How many have your name? The numbers estimated from statistical and demographic US Census Bureau data.
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                          Using Amazon Web Services

                          I just posted a piece at Between the Lines about our latest Technometria podcast with Jeff Barr and Doug Kaye. We discussed using Amazon Web Services to build sophisticated Web applications. Lots of good things in the podcast about business models, asynchronous programming, and so on. This was a fun podcast to do. Not only was the content exciting, but it was also a bit of a challenge from the recording angle as well. Jeff was in my office with me and Doug, Scott, and Matt were on the phone. I recorded the whole conversation using AudioDesk and a
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                          Blu-ray and HD DVD Processing Key Exposed

                          According to Engadget, a DRM hacker named "arnezami" has found the "processing key" that can decrypt all HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc films. This is huge. Previously, there were ways of recovering the keys that controlled the individual disc, but you had to have a different key for each title. Now, one tool, with this key embedded in it, will be able to decrypt every disc that's been produced to date. This kind of thing just shows the futility of DRM as a solution for protecting copyrighted works. At 20Gb per movie and $25 for a blank disc, there's
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                          Jim Harper Testifying Tomorrow

                          Jim Harper, who spoke in Utah last November will be testifying before the Utah Government Operations Committee at 8:15 in Room W010 of the Capitol. I'm sure his testimony will be in regard to this resolution against the RealID Act. Jim's an advocate of states taking a firm stance in opposition to the Federal government on the RealID act. He makes very good points about why the RealID act is ill-conceived and will be as ineffective at stopping terrorism as it is effective at invading the privacy of everyone else.
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                          CTO Breakfast Thursday

                          We'll hold the CTO breakfast this Thursday at 8am. Last time we met in the Novell Cafeteria and that worked really well. Folks coming from Salt Lake reported that it was perhaps even shorter than driving over to Canyon Park. As usual, the conversation will be informal and free-form. Anyone interested in how information technology is used to build products or run companies is welcome. Here are the scheduled dates so far: March 22 (Thursday) April 20 (Friday) (changed!) May 24 (Thurdsday) Jun 28 (Friday) Here's directions: Take the University Ave exit off I-15, cross University Ave, and turn
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                          On the Importance of Names

                          Phil Hagelberg of Technomancy references the essay on Confucianism and Technical standards with this quote: In a famous passage, Analects 13.3, Confucius was asked by a disciple what his first order of business would be if he were to govern a state. He replied, 正名, meaning roughly "make right the names," "insure that names are used properly," or "rectify the names." His disciple was somewhat incredulous and asked, "Would you be as impractical as that?" Confucius strongly rebuked his disciple and explained that proper nomenclature is the basis of language and that language is central to taking care of
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                          Expose, Dock, USB, and EyeTV Weirdness

                          Today Expose stopped working. I also noticed that the Dock magnification didn't work (I normally hide the Dock) and the submenus under the Apple in the top-left corner wouldn't open. First I restarted the Dock. No joy, so I restarted Finder. No joy, so I escalated to logging out. Still no joy, so I rebooted the computer. The problem is still there. My exocortex (Google) doesn't seem to know anything. Then doing something else, I unplugged the USB hub and viola the problem is solved. A little investigation shows that it's my EyeTV Hybrid that's causing the grief. When
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                          Conflicting Roles and the Use of Tor

                          This story from the Chronicle for Higher Education does a good job of illustrating the conflict that often exists between academic Computer Science departments who want to teach computer science and the campus information technology organization who is responsible for keeping the network running and legal. In this report, Paul Cesarini, an assistant professor of visual communication and technology education at Bowling Green State University, receives a visit from the campus police because he's teaching students about Tor, a tool for anonymizing Web browsing. The detectives and network-security technician listened patiently to me, wearing their best poker faces. They
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                          Terrorist Math Teachers

                          I thought this was funny: TEACHER ARRESTED.. - A public school teacher was arrested today at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a set square, a slide rule, and a calculator. At a morning press conference, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-gebra movement. He did not identify the man, who has been charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction. "Al-gebra is a problem for us," Gonzalez said. "They desire solutions by means
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                          Top 150 Tech Heroes on IT Conversations

                          On wednesday SYS-CON published their final list of 150 all time technology heroes. The list is a mix of people who might have made the list if it were published 10 or even 20 years ago (like Claude Shannon) and relatively new faces (like Dave Sifry). As I looked at the list I realized there were quite a few people on the list who'd been on IT Conversations over the last few years. Niels Makel, one of the folks who works behind the scenes at IT Conversations as a series producer, took the time to create a list of
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                          The Role of Intellectual Property in Protecting Reputation

                          Today in class, we went over a paper called The Value of a Reputation System by John Kennes and Aaron Schiff (both of The University of Auckland). The paper presents a complicated mathematical model of markets that are similar to eBay and other auction sites, although the example in the paper is "pick-your-own" orchards. I've also been reading Peter Navarro's book The Coming China Wars recently and the two ideas got me thinking about the value of intellectual property in properly functioning markets. In Keenes and Schiff's paper, they model markets where there are product with high and low
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                          1337 on Google

                          I just found Google's Leet search engine. H4x0r can now 534rc# in 1337. Update: You can also get the Google Toolbar in 1337.
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                          Cancel or Allow?

                          I have no idea what security feature in Vista this Apple ad is making fun of, but it's still hilarious. I also like seeing the IT guy tape the camera to PCs head in this one. I know IT guys who would really do it that way!
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                          Top Ten IT Conversations Shows for January 2007

                          Here are the top ten most listened to shows on IT Conversations for January 2007: Who Owns "You"? - Supernova2006 John Seely Brown - Supernova 2005 Peter Navarro - Tech Nation Curt Carlson - Tech Nation David Platt - Why Software Sucks Chip Heath - Tech Nation Gary Lang - Opening the Possibilities: APIs and Open Source Code Sudoku, Biorobotics & Aeronautical Genius - IEEE Spectrum Radio Dr. Pauline Mele - BioTech Nation Kelly Phillipps - New Technology In Enterprises Today was the first time I've used my new Perl script to generate this list. Up until now, I
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                          Banning iPods

                          If you haven't seen this yet, get ready to shake your head. New York is considering banning iPods in crosswalks.
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                          Houses Go Green

                          Last week, Moira Gunn interviewed Michelle Kaufmann, an architect who designed modular homes with a focus on resource conservation. Wired Magazine had an article on this same subject last month that I really enjoyed. If you listen to the interview, you'll here Moira and Michelle talk about the Glidehouse, one of Kaufmann's original designs. Michelle's firm has a variety of designs that are efficient, cheaper to build (because of the modular design), and desirable. Those are words you don't always see in the same sentence together.
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                          Action Needed: Contact Your Legislator on VoIP Taxation

                          Tomorrow the Utah House will start debating a bill to add the E911 tax to VoIP in Utah. I wrote about the bill earlier and why I think it's a bad idea. If you live in Utah, contact your legislator by email as soon as possible and tell them that infeasible to tax VoIP and that you're opposed to it.
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                          Overstock's Community Portal

                          Overstock.com has launched a community portal where they hope their customers will write "guides" about things that they're passionate about. Seems like an interesting idea. I've wondered about the ability to harness people's passion to create customer service sites that are more useful than those run by the company. Interestingly it's built on MediaWiki which I think is a great platform, but a little hard for wiki novices to use. I wonder if they've done something to make page editing any easier. I'm wondering rather than looking because when I went to sign up for an account, they wanted
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                          Security Indicators Are Largely Ignored

                          A paper to be presented at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy in May called "The Emperor's New Security Indicators: An evaluation of website authentication and the effect of role playing on usability studies" (PDF) shows that users largely ignore security indicators like whether a site is using HTTPS, customer-selected images, and even warning pages. I believe a large part of the problem is inconsistent user experiences. For example, if you go to a Web site and picture you selected to indicate that this site is real isn't there for some reason, most people would just assume that
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                          Marriott Blogs

                          The CEO of Marriott International, Bill Marriott, has a blog. The blog is about two weeks old and has a half a dozen entries. They're authentic and interesting. The technology is well done, as you'd expect from someone who has lots of IT support. There's an audio link which has Bill Marriott reading the post, or perhaps that's how he creates it. Comments are also open on all the posts and there's considerable activity. I was puzzled at the URL: http://www.blogs.marriott.com/ He's not just one of the corporate blogs, he seems to be the only blog with no room
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                          Cheap Pseudonyms, Privacy, and Sex Offenders

                          The BBC is reporting on a move by the British government to require convicted sex offenders to register their online identities. Of course, it only takes a minute of thought before you realize that its so easy to get a new email address that registering one doesn't do much good. There are some scary responses to that, like this one: If everyone had a single internet identity for life, like a National Insurance number, this would make it far easier to track people, he said. Child internet safety expert John Carr, of children's charity NCH, said: "This is a
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                          NextPage Document Retention Preview

                          My preview of NextPage Document Retention product is out on the Test Center Daily blog. Here's my verdict: NextPage 2 Document Retention provides a method for versioning, tracking, cleaning up, and archiving corporate documents that users will actually use. Watch for a full review a little later.
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                          Making CardSpace and OpenID Interoperable

                          Microsoft, JanRain, Sxip, and VeriSign have agreed to work together to make OpenID and CardSpace interoperate. This isn't totally unexpected since the community has been moving forward in this direction. Kim Cameron has been discussing the details of how it might work in recent weeks. Here are the specifics from the press release: As part of OpenID's security architecture, OpenID will be extended to allow relying parties to explicitly request and be informed of the use of phishing-resistant credentials. Microsoft recognizes the growth of the OpenID community and believes OpenID plays a significant role in the Internet identity infrastructure.
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                          Securing Vermont's Networks

                          Vermont's governor has called for a complete audit of security across executive branch agencies. "The problems discovered over the last several months are entirely unacceptable to me because they were preventable," Douglas said. "I expect the department to look at every area and aspect of our Internet security protocols to be sure we are employing all the available resources to protect the integrity of our systems. And I expect a higher standard to be set in IT departments throughout state government." From Vermont Governor Calls for Full Internet Security Audit - Feb 02, 2007Referenced Tue Feb 06 2007 09:14:42
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                          Funding Public Radio (and ITC) with VRM

                          In a post at Linux Journal about identity and VRM, Doc Searls says that rather than boil the VRM ocean, he would rather pick a specific problem. Beyond cash for goods or services, I would like the option of having some range in relating. Maybe I want nothing more than give an artist some cash and a high-five. Or I may want a subscription to notices of new work, or to performances near where I live. The thing is, this mechanism needs to live on my side: to be mine. It must be able to relate to a first
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                          Church Networks

                          The United Methodist Church (UMC) has a online social network (with some funny URLS). The network is similar to other social networks: create a profile page, make your blog, link to friends, etc. The difference, as explained on the site: What makes the UMC.org Community unique is our needs registry, allowing you to reach beyond your immediate communities to a global audience. The needs registry allows you to share your gifts and share how you personally want to help make the world a better place. The idea here is to connect those with needs with those that are equipped
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                          Finding Jim Gray at Sea

                          It's Amazon week at Technometria! If you've followed the story of Jim Gray being lost at sea, you know that one of Computer Science's preeminent figures is in grave danger and possibly dead. I heard Jim Gray speak a few years ago at the University of Utah's Organick lecture. The reason for the Amazon reference above is the part that Amazon's Mechanical Turk (MT) is playing the search for Gray. If you're not familiar with Mechanical Turk, it's a system for employing human intelligence to do small tasks for which humans are uniquely qualified. In this case, it's recognizing
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                          Using Amazon's Web Services for Sophisticated Applications

                          I just put a post up at Between the Lines about Doug Kaye's use of Amazon's Web services for hosting sophisticated applications. One look at the block diagram on Doug's site will convince you that this is substantially more than a trivial use of AWS.
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                          Superbowl Exploits

                          Ryan Naraine reports that the Superbowl XLI site was hacked and seeded with exploits that will install a keylogger and backdoor that give the crooks access to the compromised machine. This is doubling interesting to me since Ross Jardine and I did the first two Superbowl sites on the Web for Superbowls XXIX and XXX. We even owned the domain name superbowl.com at one point. For Superbowl XXIX (1995) we ran a contest and gave away Superbowl merchandise each day with a grand prize of two Superbowl tickets. In 1994, that was a great way to build traffic and
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                          Community in Denial

                          Christopher Koch, who is the Executive Editor at CIO Magazine, has a provacative post on his blog about "community" being the code word of denial in the current burst of activity commonly called Web 2.0. He compares it to the word "collaboration" which fueled the B2B bubble in the late 90's. Using the c-word allows you to "slide past any discussion or proof of real value." Chris points out three things necessary to get and keep visitors to any Web site: Perceived value Safety Clear exchange of value You could probably argue the first of these draws visitors, the
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                          IIW2007

                          This is not the Internet Identity Workshop--but going to Croatia to learn to weld might be fun. We'll be doing the first Internet Identity Workshop this year on May 14-16, 2007 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. Put it on your calendar now. Registering early will help us plan and pay for upfront fees.
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                          Finding Truth in Crowds

                          The folks at JanRain (the OpenID library builders) have released jyte, a site that allows you to make claims about anything you like and then other people can agree or disagree. It's a well-done Web 2.0 kind of site with lots of cool infographic features, embeddable result bars, comments, tags, and OpenID authentication (what else?). It even let me use my i-name. Hurray! Here's a claim that David Recordon made about Emacs: I'm not sure how that's going to look or even if you have to log in to vote, but we'll see... The idea that people can make
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                          Social Network Fatigue

                          Dana Boyd has a good post on social network fatigue and how marketing people everywhere are trying to jump on the MySpace bandwagon. This dovetails with the post I did yesterday on social networking without a safety net. I've seen people stop blogging for the same reasons Dana cites regarding MySpace.
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                          Personal Businesses On the Rise

                          Number of US businesses with no employees (Intuit/IFTF study)(click to enlarge) Paul Kedrosky pointed out an Intuit/IFTF study on small business (PDF) that talks about the rise of the personal business. Tim O'Reilly has a nice riff on this as well. As I talk to people, I find more and more who consider themselves free agents and, even though they have an employer, take pains to keep themselves free of organizational entanglements. They use their own email address for most correspondence, buy their own tools, and see their employment more like a business to business relationship than a traditional
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                                                  Information

                                                  Finance

                                                  Variety show

                                                  constellation

                                                  mailbox

                                                  city

                                                  aviation

                                                  society

                                                  Go abroad