Archive for Feb 2008

                          CTO Breakfast Tomorrow

                          We'll have the CTO breakfast tomorrow morning (Feb 28) at 8am in the Novell cafeteria (Provo Campus). Follow the link for directions. Despite it's name, you don't have to be a CTO to attend--just interested in technology, where it's headed, and the problems of starting and building a high-tech business in Utah. Here are future dates for your calendar: Mar 27 (Thursday) Apr 17 (Thursday) May 30 (Friday)
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                          Starting a High Tech Business: Outsource Everything

                          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 tenth installment. You may find my efforts instructive. Or you may know a better way—if so, please let me know! I have a friend who has a business he's been working on for a while. I was helping him with email, domain names, and so on. Not long ago he called me and said "I've hired a CTO; he'll be calling you about email." I figured he was
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                          A New Voice on IT Conversations

                          I'm sick and after lecturing for two hours this morning, I had no voice left. Unfortunately, when I recorded the program intros this week, Jon Udell's latest show wasn't ready so I needed to record it today before I published it. I came home tonight and tried to record an intro, but it sounded awful--just think "frog." My wife, Lynne, said "let me do it." You can hear the result in the intro to Jon's interview with Valdis Krebs. My fear is that now that you've heard her, you won't want to hear me anymore!
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                          Inside the MacBook Air

                          Have you wondered what it takes to take a MacBook Air apart and what it looks like when you do? Look no further. Here's a step-by-step with high-res photos from iFixIt. The battery isn't trivial to replace, but it's definitely easier than replacing the hard drive on an iMac. I'd do it. Unfortunately, the 80Gb drive is the largest one that will fit. I wondered about that because often Apple's top choice is one size smaller than the current leader in terms of space. I regularly crack open my new MacBook Pros before I've even turned them on to
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                          The Value of Engineering

                          As I listened to Udi Manber, the head of core search team at Google, I was impressed by something that most of us understand in a different sense: engineering matters at Google. Most of us think about this in terms of the other things we know about Google; like the one day a week people get to work on their own project, or the fact that they build their own custom servers. Manber talked about making search queries meaningful--understanding intent rather than just doing text matching. He outlines a number of upgrades to Google search that I've noticed over
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                          Fran Allen: Compilers and Parallel Computing Systems

                          Fran Allen delivers Organick Lecture(click to enlarge) Fran Allen was the Turing Award winner for 2006. This afternoon she's giving the University of Utah's Organick Memorial Lecture. I've reported on some of these in the past few years: Jim Gray on Distributed Computing Economics Vint Cerf on Internet Challenges Alan Kay: Is Computer Science an Oxymoron? Alan Kay: The 100 Dollar Laptop and Powerful Ideas Jeannette Wing on Computational Thinking I try to come every year. I find it's something I'm inspired by each time. The grand goal of high performance computers right now is a 1 petaflop machine.
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                          Tiny Planet Likes IT Conversations

                          Tommy Weir of Tiny Planet wrote a nice review of IT Conversations. In particular he enjoyed the interview with Billy Hoffman about AJAX security. He says: If I had to pick one tech podcast and discard the rest it would be the originator of the species, IT Conversations. This blend of different shows has a wide-ranging remit from biotechnology to web development. They have a number of presenters who interview innovators and leading technologists, and they also put out recorded presentations from top conferences, which can be especially valuable. They're all free and available via iTunes. I listen to
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                          Unmounting Time Machine Drives

                          I love Time Machine. I've been in the habit of doing full disk backups, but that won't save me from accidentally deleting a file unless I notice before the full disk backup is made. With time machine I'm protected. I still do a full disk back up from time to time so that I have something to boot from and then restore from Time Machine on if my main drive goes belly up. One thing I've noticed: most mornings when I close up my laptop and take it with me for the day, the Time Machine backup disk won't
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                          IIW 2008 Happening May 12-14

                          The announcement and registration pages for IIW 2008 are now live. Please take minute and do three things: Register so we know you're coming. Having a good count early makes the whole thing go smoother. Help us spread the word by blogging about it. Put a badge for IIW on your Web site if you can. Here's the code for the badge you see on the right hand side of my blog: We expect that IIW2008 will be every bit as productive and fun as past IIWs have been I hope you can make it.
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                          Utah May Reject REAL ID

                          Yesterday, the Government Operations Committee of the Utah House of Representatives voted unanimously for a bill (HB449) that would bar the Utah Driver's License Division from implementing the REAL ID act of 2005. Utah isn't alone, a number of other states have opted out of REAL ID by statute, have passed legislation opposing it, or have legislation pending. REAL ID would standardize the identity documents required to get a driver's license across the US, standardize some of the information on the driver's license itself, and introduce a common machine readable technology for driver's licenses nationwide. In addition, REAL ID
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                          Undersea Cables, Connectivity, and the Gap

                          I'm a fan of Thomas Barnett's gap-core lens for understanding world events. My simple paraphrase goes something like this: states that are part of the core (and that's a lot of them) don't make war on each other, don't sponsor state terrorism, and are, in general, predictable players on the world stage. Those who are not connected economically and culturally to the core are the trouble makers. (Tom, if I got it wrong or simplified it to much, forgive me.) Radical Islam, when viewed through this lens, is an attempt to stall and hopefully stop the integration of Islamic
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                          On Static Types and Language Choice

                          I caught a little flack in response to my post calling attention to Steve Yegge's recent essay "Portrait of a Noob." In particular Levi thought I was out of line for endorsing something so inflammatory: "People who approach programming differently than I do are insecure n00bs" That's a great attitude for a professor to endorse in a public forum. Steve's rant is nothing more than hot air attempting to justify his personal preferences at the expense of others. It makes you feel good because his preferences are the same as yours. The fact remains, however, that there's no real
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                          Types as Comments

                          Steve Yegge is at it again. This time he's taking on modeling: Well, we also know that static types are just metadata. They're a specialized kind of comment targeted at two kinds of readers: programmers and compilers. Static types tell a story about the computation, presumably to help both reader groups understand the intent of the program. But the static types can be thrown away at runtime, because in the end they're just stylized comments. They're like pedigree paperwork: it might make a certain insecure personality type happier about their dog, but the dog certainly doesn't care. If static
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                          Unit Testing in Scheme

                          I put together a mini-lecture on unit testing in Scheme for my CS330 class. It's not a complete introduction, just a tutorial on getting started. If you have suggestions on using SchemeUnit, I'd love to hear them. Students in CS330 submit their assignments to an autograder. They sometimes try to use the autograder as a test harness with bad results. I think there are some distinct advantages to students using unit testing in preparing their assignments: Unit tests separate tests from the code. It's cleaner and easier to manage. They can write tests before they code. This forces them
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                          Universal Housing Anyone?

                          Dave says: But there are some things we can change, and if you have a heart, and think about it, I don't see how anyone could be against universal health care and still sleep at night. From Debating health care in 2008 (Scripting News)Referenced Fri Feb 08 2008 19:26:56 GMT-0700 (MST) I respect Dave, but it's precisely this kind of partisan debate that's lead to stalemate for decades on this and other important issues. The implication of this statement is that if you're not for universal health care, then you're not compassionate. If we give you the benefit of
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                          Starting a High Tech Business: Getting Started

                          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 ninth installment. You may find my efforts instructive. Or you may know a better way—if so, please let me know! Today I got a cold call at my office that essentially went like this: "I read you blog and would like to tell you my business idea and get your opinion on it." I said that I had a few minutes to listen and so the guy launched
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                          Idaho Kicks Utah's Butt

                          Wow! Thanks to Roland Smith for pointing me at Idaho's road reports site. It's built on Google Maps and totally kicks Utah's butt. Lots more information on almost every road in the state. Very nice.
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                          CommuterLink Is Looking Pretty Tired

                          My daughter called me from Heber this afternoon to tell me she'd be late getting home because Highway 189 through Provo Canyon was closed. I went out to the Internet to try and find out what was going on and was pretty disappointed. The primary site for road conditions is CommuterLink, run by the Utah Department of Transportation. When this site launched with much fanfare in 2001, just in time for the Olympics, it was state of the art. Now it's looking pretty tired. I found my self wishing they'd just used Google maps. In fact, for traffic information,
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                          MacBook Air SSD - Uncertain Performance Gain

                          One of the things that interested me about the Mac Book Air with the solid state drive was the hope that it might give better performance than a standard HDD and even better battery life. According to this review from Ars Technica, the performance gains mixed: [T]he summary is: the SSD does worse in sequential disk tests and writing in general, but spanks the HDD in random disk tests and reading from the disk. From No spin: Ars reviews the MacBook Air with solid state driveReferenced Wed Feb 06 2008 20:58:53 GMT-0700 (MST) What does that translate into? Booting
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                          Change, Motherhood, and Apple Pie

                          When I worked at Naval Reactors, we had a shorthand for statements no one could argue with. Someone would say something and someone else would just say "motherhood." Everyone understood the shorthand: what you just said is like motherhood and apple pie. Everyone's for it. If you haven't seen it, this video will make you laugh (and serve as an intro for this post): Change is an easy thing for a politician to sell because we all want change. Hardly anyone you meet is satisfied with the government. We all want it to be different and so, saying your
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                          Top Ten IT Conversations Shows for January 2008

                          Here are the top ten shows (ordered by number of downloads) on IT Conversations for January 2008. Billy Hoffman - Technometria: Ajax Security (No rating yet)More and more Web sites are being rewritten as Ajax applications and traditional desktop software is rapidly moving to the Web via Ajax. But, often, this transition is being made with reckless disregard for security. Ajax developers desperately need guidance on securing their applications. Billy Hoffman, co-author of Ajax Security, joins Phil and Scott to discuss the book. CTO Panel - Technometria (No rating yet)Phil regularly holds a meeting that he calls the CTO
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                          ActionStreams: Follow Me Around the Net

                          Adding your IT Conversations profile to Action Streams(click to enlarge) The more you use sites on the Web for keeping track of our online lives and sharing things with friends, the more you'd like to have a place on your blog to gather them all together. I've had my del.icio.us feeds on my blog for a long time. I also used to put my tweets on my blog. I experimented with a Flickr widget and gave it up. Now Mark Paschal has released a plugin for Movable Type called Action Streams that does that all nicely. There are dozens
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                          TripIt Is My New Best Friend!

                          If you travel and haven't yet heard of TripIt, you're going to be sooo excited! TripIt is a site that keeps track of your travel. But unlike many other sites that promise to help you with your travel, this one is so easy and useful, you'll actually use it. Here's what you do: when you get an itinerary from the airline or a hotel, just email it to plans@tripit.com. You're done. When you email your first item to TripIt, they'll create an account for you and send you a confirmation email. Click the link and you're in. I was
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                          I'm on Interviews with Innovators

                          A while back Jon Udell interviewed me for his Interviews with Innovators podcast. We talked about reputation.
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                          Emacs and Butterflies

                          This xkcd cartoon on what real programmers use to edit is the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. Of course, I use emacs--always have and always will.
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