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                          Archive for Dec 2007


                          Family Information Center from an Old iMac

                          iMac as family information center(click to enlarge) I have an old 17 inch iMac G5 that I'm not using. After I installed Leopard on it, it just didn't cut it anymore, so it had been retired. I decided it would be fun to experiment with it as a "special purpose computer." That is, one that has limited duty. A while ago I read an article in Macworld on making a family message center from an old iMac and decided to give that a go. You can see from the picture how it turned out. I already had a VESA
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                          Comments in MT4

                          blogging, movabletype, spam
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                          Upgrading to MT4.01

                          I'm in the processing of upgrading this blog to run on Movabletype 4.0, so there will be some things broken while I get it right. Thanks for your patience.
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                          Reasons to Buy a Mac Mini

                          For Christmas, I bought a Sony XBR4 40" LCD TV from Amazon. I was thinking I ought to get an Apple TV to go with it, but then thought that a Mac Mini might be more versatile. While in the midst of indecision, Dave Winer made up my mind for me and Scoble put the icing on the cake. I'll get a Mac Mini. Dave's new product--not yet released--sounds like a fun convergence of a big, bright beautiful screen hanging on the wall and the Internet. The XBR4 already has a DVI input, so hooking up ought to be
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                          Thinking About Twitter

                          JP Rangaswami likes Twitter. What's even better is his analysis of why it adds value to our online life despite its apparent deficiencies (e.g. 140 character limit). Before you dismiss this as just another Twitter fanboy, recall that JP knows a thing or two about enterprise IT. JP hits the nail on the head by discussing Twitter as a pub-sub platform. One of the key features of a pub-sub system is user (client) control of messaging. I choose who I follow on Twitter and thus the messages I receive. I've stopped following people because their tweets weren't very relevant
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                          Dr. Mendel Rosenblum

                          GigaOM has an interesting interview with Dr. Mendel Rosenblum, the Chief Scientist at VMWare. We went down a rat hole on how we built the data centers. I am not surprised with all the problems we are having with data centers. In my opinion, the architecture has problems because it was built with inferior solutions. What you had was people placing services on servers in a way that led to lightly loaded machines that were idle most of the time. The whole thing was built for peak performance (and not maximum utilization.) Well, idle machines use as much energy
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                          Hard Drives and Apple

                          One of the great things about blogging is that it gives you and outlet to vent when you get crappy customer service--heck, I think that drives blogging more than anything. Dave Winer got ripped off in an Apple store yesterday and told the tale on his blog. I've owned, if you count the machines I buy for my students in my research lab, dozens of Apple machines in the last five years. Overall, I find them to be moderately reliable--but I have to admit most of the problems I've had have been on new-release machines. I've never taken my
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                          Here Comes Another Bubble v1.1

                          The Richter Scales have posted version 1.1 of "Here Comes Another Bubble" after Lane Hartwell filed a DCMA take down request with YouTube because a picture she'd taken at a party and posted online was used in the video. Hartwell posted a statement on her blog. The Richter Scales posted their own. Scoble said: "I think it really is lame to take pictures of people (who don't get a cut of the profits) at parties, without being commissioned, and then send in invoices for that work when it gets used in a parody video." Yeah, there's that. Hartwell won
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                          Utah Top Ten IT Accomplishments

                          Each year, Dave Fletcher publishes a list of the top ten IT accomplishments in Utah state government. He notes that Utah.gov was selected as the #1 state portal in the country for the second time. Utah is the only state to have won that honor twice. There are now over 1030 online government services in Utah. Cool.
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                          DC Power in Datacenters

                          I just posted at article at Between the Lines on using DC power in datacenters to save power.
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                          Starting a High Tech Business: You Need a CTO

                          I'm starting a new business called Kynetx. As I go through some of the things I do, I'm planning to blog them. The whole series will be here. This is the sixth installment. You may find my efforts instructive. Or you may know a better way----if so, please let me know! People frequently get confused about the differences between CIOs and CTOs and even a lot of techworld business people I know can't really articulate what a CTO does. In many companies, the CTO is the most technical person on the founding team. That might or might not work
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                          Amazon's SimpleDB

                          I just posted piece at Between the Lines on Amazon's latest announcement: SimpleDB, a database service in the cloud. I gave it the title "Economics that are impossible to stop" because that what I think Amazon's doing: changing the whole economic model of how people build large scale distributed applications.
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                          Taking an iMac Apart

                          I wanted a bigger hard drive in an Intel (Core Duo) 20 inch iMac than the one it had and took advantage of CompUSA's clearance sale to pick up a 750Gb drive. I'd taken the cover off of my G5 iMac plenty of times and it's dirt simple, so I thought I was in for an easy time. I was very wrong. My first clue should have been the separate RAM bay door on the bottom of the machine. No one puts a RAM bay door on a machine that's easy to crack open. Where the back simple lifts
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                          Enomalism and Xen

                          I'm looking for a management console for Xen (besides the command line). I'd looked into this months and months ago and concluded that when the time came, I'd try Enomalism, but after some initial experiments I'm no longer sure. Any advice? Let me know what you use for managing the Xen hypervisor and why.
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                          Top Ten IT Conversations Shows for November 2007

                          Here's the top ten shows, by download, for IT Conversations during November 2007. I'm late because some recent server changes means that I didn't have access to the logs for a bit. Also, unfortunately, we lost 11 days worth of logs, so this data is based on 19 days of November 2007. Scott Lemon - Technometria: Scratch and Squeak (No rating yet)As described on its website, Scratch is a new programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art -- and share your creations on the web. It is designed to
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                          Blogs in Plain English

                          Ever wanted to explain to your mom what a blog is? Here's a nifty little screen cast from Lee and Sachi LeFever at the CommonCraft show that does just that: Last week I posted a screencast on OpenID that has garnered some good comments from friends and even family ("oh, now I get it!"). I'm a big fan of this new medium. I've used it to augment classroom instruction in CS330. I want to try some of these "whiteboard" type screencasts for fun.
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                          Quicklook From the Command Line

                          This Mac OS X hint shows how to use Quicklook from inside Quicksilver. I'm a big Quicksilver fan, but frankly didn't get very excited since just hitting "return" launches Preview as fast as hitting "tab->q" and then waiting for the AppleScript to run. But, along the way, part of the hint involved creating a small shell script: #!/bin/bash qlmanage -p "$@" >& /dev/null & Using the script, you can launch QuickLook from the command line. Now that's handy! qlmanage is a very chatty program that performs operations on the QuickLook cache and generators. I saved the above script as
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                          Blogging: Talking to Friends

                          Jeff Jarvis, in a larger piece on corporate blogging and where it goes wrong writes a nice bit of advice for all bloggers: When I was in London, I sat with folks from the BBC in an afternoon devoted to blogging, and the woman next to me was troubled, bearing weight on her shoulders from having to fill her blog and manage her blog. To her, the blog was a thing, a beast that needed to be fed, a never-ending sheet of blank paper. I turned to her and said she should see past the blog. It's not a
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                          Achieving Accountability

                          Dave Winer's Club140.org gives us a good example of how hard it is to protect data. For those of you not following along at home, Dave created a site, called Club140, that lists any tweets he sees on Twitter that are exactly 140 characters long (the max allowed by Twitter). Today, Dave posted this on Twitter: i just added code to http://club140.org/ to filter out messages from people posting from "protected" accounts. hadn't thought of it before. The issue is that some people have their tweets protected so that only people who are following them can see what they
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                          Starting a High Tech Business: Choosing a Deployment Model

                          I'm starting a new business called Kynetx (nothing to see there yet). As I go through some of the things I do, I'm planning to blog them. The whole series will be here. This is the fifth installment. You may find my efforts instructive. Or you may know a better way---if so, please let me know! Jason Fried at 37Signals has an excellent list of all the reasons they don't sell installable software. That inspired Joel Spolsky to write about gnarly programs. Interestingly, I know people with the exact opposite response as Jason: "Boy, I wish we just sold
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                          Google Chart API

                          Google has released a chart API that returns PNG files from an HTTP GET. The following types of charts are available: Line chart Bar chart Pie chart Venn diagram Scatter plot The chart to the right was created using this URL: http://chart.apis.google.com/chart? cht=p3& chd=s:Uf9a& chs=200x100& chl=A|B|C|D Adding charts to Web sites just got a lot easier.
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                          Technorati's Dead Too

                          Crap ad seen at Technorati.com on Dec 6, 2007(click to enlarge) As long as I'm commenting on things that are dead, allow me to add Technorati to the list. They have descended into the dark depths of crap advertising "You've been chosen to get a free laptop computer. Click to accept!" Sheesh. If things are that bad, just shut off the servers, turn off the lights, lock the door, and go home. As long as I'm on my soap box, do you imagine that the intersection of the kinds of people who use Technorati and the morons who'd actually
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                          The Optical Disk is Dead

                          My recent travels had me wishing for a lighter bag--that implies a smaller laptop--or no laptop. I'm not ready for the latter, but I'd be happy to give up the optical drive on my laptop to get it. I never use it on the road. I'm willing to plug one in for the rare cases where I use it. I'm ready to jettison optical drives on all portable computers.
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                          What's New in OpenID 2.0?

                          OpenID 2.0 was finally release yesterday. I've put a piece up at Between the Lines on what's new in OpenID 2.0. There's some important capabilities that will move this forward in a big way.
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                          Understanding OpenID

                          Here's a screencast that Dan Lullich sent me showing how OpenID works using a whiteboard cartoon. Very clever! Dan was also my guest on the Technometria podcast this week. We talked about reputation--go figure.
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                          Reputation at IIW2007B

                          Doc juggles(click to enlarge) I just posted a summary piece from Tuesday at IIW2007B at Between the Lines: Reputation taking center stage. I also have pictures. Look for more IIW coverage with the iiw2007b tag.
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                          Placing the User at the Center of Identity

                          Coincidentally, a feature I did for InfoWorld on user-centric identity appeared today. Here's what I contributed: Federating identity for the WebUser-centric innovations CardSpace and OpenID may finally bring the promise of federation within reach Understanding OpenID and CardSpaceOpenID and CardSpace are at the forefront of user-centric identity. Here's how they work Podcast: An identity layer for the WebMicrosoft's Kim Cameron speaks to the advantages of placing the user at the center of enterprise identity systems Podcast: User-centric identity in the enterpriseBurton Group's Mike Neuenschwander discusses the state of federated identity, delving deep into the business proposition user-centric identity presents
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                          IIW2007B Kicks Off

                          IIW2007B is underway. I flew to San Jose with two of my grad students, Bryant Cutler and Devlin Daley this morning. We went to Costco to buy food for snacks and showed up at the Computer History Museum about noon. The first day of IIW continues to evolve. Kaliya and her design team set out an agenda this time that included a set of parallel tracks to start off. The parallel tracks allowed us to run a real "intro" track for new comers alongside some working groups sessions. I was in charge of the intro track. Paul Madsen started
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