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                          Archive for Mar 2008


                          Dan Solove on Reputation

                          Clifford Thomson sent me a link to a talk Dan Solove gave at Google on his new book The Future of Reputation. I interviewed Dan on Technometria a while back about his earlier book The Digital Person. Dan's a very interesting speaker and raises important issues in his books and in this video. This is well worth watching if you're interested in the intersection of privacy and reputation in the Internet age.
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                          Update Your RSS Feed URL for IT Conversations!

                          One of the consequences of IT Conversations leaving Gigavox Media and returning to the Conversations Network fold is that eventually we needed to remove 'gigavox' from the feed name. Unfortunately, Feedburner will only forward a feed for 30 days and many RSS readers don't seem process permanent redirects well (change the URL permanently, not just follow it). As a result, you might not be seeing updated IT Conversations shows in your favorite podcatcher. So, take a few minutes and make sure you're using this URL in your feeds: http://feeds.conversationsnetwork.org/channel/itc I checked the feed URL on my copy of iTunes
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                          Slideshows on IT Conversations!

                          Yesterday I posted Jane McGonigal's talk from ETech 2007 on creating alternate realities. This is the first show on IT Conversations that features our new slideshow tool for playing audio sync'd with the slides. For some talks this can make a real difference in the quality since they rely on the visuals so much. In the past we've sometimes not published good content because it relied too much on the slides. No more! Check it out and let us know what you think.
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                          True Grassroots Politics

                          I just got back from my precinct caucus meeting (Republican) where I was elected by my friends and neighbors as precinct Vice Chair for the coming two years. I was conducting the meeting as Chair. I love caucus meetings. This is true grassroots politics. Everyone asking question, voting for delegates to the state and county conventions, paper ballots. There's some good discussion and great participation. I'm always shocked at how few people, relatively speaking, attend. We had a better turn out than I ever remember, but there were still only around 50 people there out of around 2000 in
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                          CTO Breakfast Thursday

                          The CTO Breakfast will be held this Thursday, March 27 at 8am in the Novell Cafeteria (Building G). Anyone interested in high-tech and product development is welcome. The discussion is free-form, so feel free to bring some topics to discuss. Here is a list of upcoming meetings: Apr 17 (Thursday) May 30 (Friday) June 27 (Friday) Please get them on your calendar!
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                          Utah Holds Caucuses Tonight: Change Congress

                          Utah will hold caucus meetings tonight for the purpose of selecting delegates to the county and state conventions. Your voice is amplified many times over by being part of the process that decides who's on the ballot rather than just selecting from a few candidates in November. The caucus meeting with be with people in your neighborhood--probably people you know. You can find out what precinct you live in by clicking here. Then you can visit the Republican or Democratic Web sites to determine where you should go. (If you're a member of a party other than these two,
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                          Parallels and OS X Instability

                          Lately, I've had a very rocky relationship with my Mac Book Pro. One of the things that attracted me to OS X was its stability. Over the past several months (before and after Leopard) my MBP has had trouble with sleeping, waking, and weird, inexplicable freezing. Often when the machine woke up, it would the screen would be black and never come back. The machine would freeze at odd times and nothing would unstick it. I couldn't even log in remotely using SSH, so it was pretty stuck. The final straw was erratic mouse behavior. The mouse seemed sluggish
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                          Visualizing Workflow and Transparent Systems

                          I thoroughly enjoyed Jon Udell's interview with Ward Cunningham on IT Conversations. They talk a lot about Ward's efforts at the Eclipse Foundation to build transparent workflow systems. That is, as Jon puts it: But what if you could find out, before pressing the Save button, what's going on in that black box? And what if your way of finding out wasn't by reading bogus documentation, but instead by probing the system itself using its own test framework? From Ward Cunningham's Visible Workings ? Jon UdellReferenced Thu Mar 20 2008 08:42:43 GMT-0600 (MDT) You'll want to read Jon's description
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                          Why Electronic Employment Verification Is a Bad Idea

                          When Americans (led by Lou Dobbs) scream "do something about illegal immigration" at the top of their lungs, you know we're going to get saddled with a bunch of awful ideas. One of those is Electronic Employment Verification, or EEV. EEV is a plan to create a big federal database of everyone eligible to work. Before a potential employer could give you a job, you'd have to be "cleared to work" by the Feds. Even worse, it will just be an API call to a big database in the sky. In theory, this seems like a great solution. After
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                          Dreams from My Father: My Attempts to Know Obama

                          I just finished reading Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance over the weekend. Like many I'm intrigued with Barack Obama and would like to understand him better. I feel like reading the book certainly helped in that quest, but I can't say that it made more--or less--inclined to vote for him. First, ignoring politics, this is a great book. I enjoyed it thoroughly, sometimes forgetting that what I was reading was autobiography because the story was so good it felt like a novel. Here's a sample from the book (pg 327), one of many I
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                          John McCain Wants to Be My Friend!

                          I got an invitation from John McCain to be his friend on LinkedIn: So far 103 people are John McCain's friends on LinkedIn. I accepted, naturally, based on our close association in the US Navy--not withstanding the fact that he started at the US Naval Academy the year I was born and was just finishing his service when I was an E-5 attached to a recruiting command in Seattle attending school in the Nuclear Propulsion Program. I've pondered this invitation for the last few days wondering first if it was associated with the campaign at all and then what
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                          Steve Gillmor on Twitter

                          I love Steve Gillmor's writing and how he puts things together. Witness this on Twitter.
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                          v|100 List: I'm On It

                          I was chosen, for the fifth year in a row, as a member of vSpring Capital's v|100 list. Actually, the reason I started Kynetx was so that I wouldn't get kicked off the v|100. :-) The list is supposed to be of people most likely to start a high-tech business in the next five years, I figured this was my last year before people would start getting suspicious. From the announcement: The v|100 was created in 2004 by vSpring Capital as a tool to recognize outstanding entrepreneurs who have ties to the state of Utah. Members of the v|100
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                          Starting a High Tech Business: What's Your Story

                          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 eleventh installment. You may find my efforts instructive. Or you may know a better way--if so, please let me know! When you talk to someone who's starting a business, ask them what they do--you can tell how far along they are by the answer you get. Every business has a story and it takes time to get that story straight. If they stumble around, say "it's hard to
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                          Bigger Monitors Boost Productivity

                          An article in the Wall Street Journal's Business Technology blog reports on research that James Anderson conducted for NEC. The research found: someone using a larger monitor could save 2.5 hours a day. But James Anderson, the professor in charge of the study, tells the Business Technology Blog to take that result with a grain of salt: It assumes that someone will work non-stop for eight hours, which no one will, and that the tasks they perform will all benefit from a larger screen, which isn't always the case. But things like moving data between files are ideally suited
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                          iPhones On Campus

                          Abilene Christian University has a program to give all students an iPhone. They've also got a video that shows how the iPhone might be used on campus (the video is conceptual, not factual). I found some of the ideas to be pretty interesting, but wonder how much IT support would be needed to pull them off. For example, in one sequence the students type things into an application running on the iPhone and a tag cloud is built on the projected screen in real time. Slick. The current standard in teaching IT support is Blackboard and anyone who watches
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                          Lacy's Woven World Moment

                          Reading Scoble's Audience of Twittering Assholes on the Sarah Lacy botch of the Zuckerman interview adds a data point--and an interesting one--to something I talked about a few weeks ago in a post entitled Organizing Ourselves. The point of that post was that tools that allow crowds to connect shift the balance and power and that can be a good thing. The Lacy thing shows the other side--empowered crowds can turn into mobs (I'm using that word loosely here). The technology in use at SXSW allowed the audience to self-organize and take control of the situation. Previously, you might
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                          Can Your Programming Language Do MapReduce?

                          Joel Spolsky has a great, understandable description of what MapReduce is and why you might care. He also speaks to the benefit of learning functional programming, even if your first job interviewer isn't going to ask you "Have you even programmed in {Lisp, Scheme, Haskell}?" We're all going to care a lot more about things like MapReduce as the number of cores on a chip goes up exponentially.
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                          Complete Solution for Unmounting Time Machine Drives

                          A few weeks ago, I wrote about forcing Time Machine drives to unmount. From a comment to that post by bil_kleb, I learned about Bernhard Baehr's SleepWatcher program that provided a way to create a complete solution. Here's what I did. Download and install SleepWatcher. There are two installs that have to be done in the right order (StartupItem last). Now whenever you restart SleepWatcher will start as well. Modifiy your sudoers list. This allows umount to run as the superuser without a password (otherwise you have to type the superuser password everytime you put your Mac to sleep).
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                          CouchDB from 10,000 Feet

                          Jan Lehnardt and Damien Katz(click to enlarge) Damien Katz and Jan Lehnardt are talking about CouchDB. My students have mentioned it several times and we've had brief discussions about it, but I've never spent much time on it. This seemed like my chance. CouchDB's goal is a simple, non-relational database. Damien started the CouchDB project after working for a number of years on the Lotus Notes project. He loved the document model of the data store (as did a lot of other people). He wanted an open source version of that model and CouchDB was born. In real life,
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                          Larry Lessig on Changing Congress

                          Larry Lessig on Changing Congress(click to enlarge) Lessig's keynotes are hard to blog, but the message isn't. Lessig's basic message is that government makes poor policy--even when the choice ought to be easy. The problem isn't overt bribery. In fact, we may have the best situation we've ever had in that sense. But even good people are affected by indirect dependence on money. Money in politics causes problems in three ways Divert access - congressmen pay attention to donors over others. Change reasoning - Sets up an perverse incentive where regulation creates money raising opportunities This has created a
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                          Kicking Ass

                          Kathy Sierra talks about kicking ass(click to enlarge) Kathy Sierra takes the stage again at ETech to talk about kicking ass. She says that people aren't passionate about things they suck at. Finding passion is a way to kick ass. She talks about neurogenesis, the idea that the brain can change positively. It's more plastic than we ever thought. She recommends an article by Jonah Lehrer in Seed Magazine on the work of Professor Elizabeth Gould. Stimulating environments matter--cages (or cubes) aren't stimulating environments. The common thread of people who perform at a world class level is that they
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                          John McCarthy on the Elephant Programming Language

                          John McCarthy(click to enlarge) He wasn't on the program, but this morning's keynote was given by Professor John McCarthy--the inventor of LISP and coiner of the term "artificial intelligence." This morning, he's talking about Elephant 2000, a programming language designed for writing programs that interact with people. One of the things he points out that I find interesting is the idea that the compiler should generate required data structures without the user having to specify them. I'm not sure how that works from his explanation, but I'm certain that if we want languages that admit more parallelism, this is
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                          DIY Drones: Building Cheap UAVs

                          Chris Anderson(click to enlarge) One of the reasons I love ETech is talks like this one from Chris Anderson (of Wired) on building homebrew drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). He has a Web site that shows how to build the various kinds of drones he talked about. He's used Lego Mindstorms, cell phones, and microcontrollers on planes. The results are pretty astounding. Jordi with the blimp(click to enlarge) He wanted something you could do indoors, and hit on the idea of using blimps--which are inherently autonomous since they float. The blimp uses ultrasonic sensors to maintain altitude. When
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                          Amazon's SimpleDB

                          Jay Ridgeway from Nextumi(click to enlarge) This afternoon, I was torn between the session on botnets and one on Amazon's SimpleDB by Mike Culver and Jay Ridgeway. I chose the latter. The goal is a durable, flexible datastore at a cheap price: $0.14 per machine house, $0.10/Gb into the cloud and $0.18/Gb out. The API call list is short. Domains are used to partition data. You can think of them as tables, that helps. To add something to a domain you use this syntax: PUT (item, 123), (description, Sweater), (color, Red), (color, Blue) The first name-value tuple is the
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                          Sectored Wi-Fi Architecture

                          Xirrus Wi-Fi array controller(click to enlarge) O'Reilly is using one of these Xirrus Wi-Fi arrays and so far, I've got to say I'm impressed. The bandwidth has been great with none of the traditional conference wi-fi problems we all have learned to live with The picture is of the operational array on the light truss in front of the stage. Looks much cooler in real life since all the lights are blinking! According to the Web site, the XS16, which is what we've got here, can deliver up to 864Mbps of bandwidth. Very cool.
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                          Your Carbon Footprint

                          Saul Griffith(click to enlarge) This morning's opening keynote at ETech was Saul Griffith who ran down the steps he used to calculate his own carbon footprint and then what he had to do to put himself on a "carbon diet." It's not pretty. Doing the calculation is relatively straightforward in terms of the math, but gathering the data isn't easy. I'm hoping that we can get his slides when we put the audio up on IT Conversations because there's some great data there. Speaking of IT Conversations, a recent IEEE show has a section on home co-generation. You can
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                          More Macbook Sleep Problems?

                          I have a suspicion that the most recent OS X (10.5.2) update caused a spate of problems with MacBook Pro's refusing to wake up after sleeping. I base this on two pieces of evidence: I've experienced this after months of not having any problem at all. An earlier article I wrote on Fixing MacBook pro sleep problems is the number one hit on Google for that search right now and I'm seeing that page referenced at 3 to 4 times the rate is was a few weeks ago. Anyone else experiencing this?
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                          Top Ten IT Conversations Show for February 2008

                          Here are the top ten shows on IT Conversations (ordered by number of downloads) for February 2008: Muhammad Yunus - Tech Nation (No rating yet)Dr. Moira Gunn speaks with Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and author of "Creating a World Without Poverty." Jerry Thompson - The Future of Voice (Rating: 2.60)At British Telecom, VoIP technology and the Internet are seen to provide some exciting opportunities to grow new business models. Jerry Thompson, Chief of Applications at British Telecom, talks about BT's transition from being a traditional voice-based telecommunications enterprise to a VoIP-based service provider.
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                          Marc Hedlund: Debugging Hacks, What They Never Taught You About Solving Hard Bugs

                          Marc Hedlund talks about debugging(click to enlarge) There's no doubt that debugging is a critical skill for anyone who codes. Marc Hedlund is talking about how to tackle the really difficult ones. I enjoyed Marc's tutorial from last year, and picked this one on that basis. Most bugs aren't hard. 95% of the time, you can find a fix easily and move on. Marc's tutorial is about what to do when the simple methods don't work anymore. He gives an example of a login that would fail once every 10,000 times or so. Turns out the problem was a
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                          Kathy Sierra: Storyboarding for Non-Fiction

                          Kathy Sierra talks about storyboarding(click to enlarge) How do you create riveting technical presentations and user manuals? Tell a story. Kathy Sierra is teaching the tutorial and using her own experience creating the "Head First" books on Java and Design Patterns as examples. Define your "post-click" behavior. After someone has gotten your message, what would happen in the reader? Does you message change the readers behavior? Do you know how you want it to change them? You can't create the right material without understanding what you want to achieve. In the case of What creates a page turner? Suspense,
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                          Organizing Ourselves

                          I was listening to Jon Udell's interview with Valdis Krebs on IT Conversations and Valdis tell the story of seeing hotels guests self-organize to deal with hotel management about the awful Wi-Fi service. He says: Hotels are used to dealing with disconnected customers -- hotel guests who do not know each other. They can tell these guests anything. Since most guests do not talk to each other, nothing is verified, no action is coordinated. In terms of social network analysis: the hotel staff spans structural holes between the guests -- occupying the power position in the network. When INSNA
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                          World Wide Telescope

                          Miscrosofts World Wide Telescope(click to visit) Scoble says that when he visited Microsoft a few weeks ago he was blown away by the World Wide Telescope. Actually he said it made him cry. The WWT isn't available yet, but you can see a demo in this TED talk. My impression after viewing the TED talk is that it's like a Google Earth for the sky, seemlessly integrating pictures and information in a single platform. I'm just hoping there's an OS X version--but if not, there's always Parallels or Fusion.
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