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Archive for May 2005


Netcraft's Anti-Phishing Toolbar

Firefox anti-phishing toolbar Netcraft has released a version of their anti-phishing toolbar for Firefox. The toolbar ranks web sites based on a number of factors including age and reports of abuse and displays a "risk bar." I installed it last week and was gleefully anticipating a phishing email to test it out. Naturally, my wait wasn't long. Clicking on the link in the mail took me to a warning dialog box warning me that the site might be a phishing site and asking if I wanted to continue. I declined and was taken to a Netcraft splash page. I'll
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What AJAX Doesn't Do

Rohit Khare has an analysis at InfoWorld about the problem AJAX doesn't solve: pushing data from the server to the client. AJAX is strictly one-way, pulling data with XMLHttpRequest. Rohit ought to know--he founded KnowNow, a company that makes its living enabling server push to the thin-client. I reviewed LiveServer a few months ago. Says Rohit: The rapid spread of the term AJAX (asynchronous JavaScript and XML) -- from Weblog to Wall Street Journal within weeks! -- might lead developers to assume it's a breakthrough that heralds the death of desktop applications. There's certainly a kernel of truth in
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Fun With Mach-Style Dynamic Libraries and Xerces

I've had a student working on creating a Scheme interface for Berkeley DbXml for the last few weeks. He left for an internship at Microsoft last week and so I thought I'd pick up where he left off, normalize the naming, and so on. One of the things I wanted to do was to port his work to OS X since it's my development platform of choice. Consequently, yesterday, I downloaded the latest copy of DbXml to my PowerBook and stated the build. We've been using DbXml in my lab for a while and my students have been frustrated
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Moving to OS X

Winn Schwartau, a columnist for Network World, writes about moving his entire company from Windows to OS X. Why? Security.
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CTO Breakfast Report

Today's CTO Breakfast was well attended and, as usual, there were a few new faces and some great conversation. Some of the topics we discused include: The state of the UTOPIA network build-out in Orem Programming languages, natural languages, libraries, and complexity in software Educating programmers, scientists, and engineers Be sure to put next month's date (Jun 17th) on your calendar and plan on coming (I'm talking to you, Nate and Steve). Update: Here is Richard Miller's take on the breakfast. And here is Scott Lemon's.
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Great Lunches

I've had a couple of interesting lunches the last few days. Monday, I had lunch with Jae-Myung Lee from the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy in South Korea. He was here on a State Department sponsored visit to discuss transparency and accountability with various people in the US. We talked a great deal about blogging. He didn't speak much English and had an interpreter with him, which hampered the conversation somewhat, but it was still worthwhile. Today, I was at the vSpring v|100 luncheon. That's a great networking event because many of Utah's top entrepreneurs are there. I caught
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Beyond Relational Databases

Think the last word has been written on databases? Think again. This ACM Queue article summarizes current trends and opportunities.
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AJAX Spellchecker

Here's a slick little AJAX spell checker. Give it a try.
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InfoWorld Reviews XML Databases

InfoWorld has a review of Apache's Xindice and Berkeley DB XML.
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Does the IT Department Matter?

Does the IT Department matter anymore? What with outsourcing, offshoring, and ASPs like Salesforce.com will it be too long before the IT department consists of nothing but the CIO and some purchasing agents? In theory, you could get rid of everything but the value innovation piece along with support functions like financial management and standards. I'm not sure I'd be ready to try just yet, but there are braver souls than I.
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Drinking the Kool-Aid

I just listened to an interview of Scott Cook by Larry Magid at IT Conversations. Scott is the founder, chairman, and former CEO of Intuit. The most apparent thing to me in the interview was how good Scott is at staying on message. He must have been a great CEO, at least from the standpoint of PR and investor relations. Don't get me wrong--I don't think it was at all insincere. To the contrary, I think he is effective because he has drunk the Intuit Kool-Aid. Listen to it and you'll see what I mean.
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CTO Breakfast on Friday

It's time for another CTO Breakfast. We'll be meeting in the usual place (food court at Canyon Park Technology Center) this Friday at 8am. In June, I've moved the CTO Breakfast from the 24th to the 17th to accommodate UITA's Utah County event that was scheduled for the same place at the same time. Also, mark July 29 and August 26 on your calendars. If you've never attended, the breakfast is an informal discussion of technology, with a particular interest in product development and other CTO issues. CTOs, future CTOs, product managers and anyone else interested in technology are
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David McCullough: 1776

On the way home from New York last week, I picked up 1776 by David McCullough. I love Colonial and Revolutionary War history and have always enjoyed McCullough's other books, so this was an exciting find. 1776 is a history of the first year or so, of the Revolutionary War and while it's not exclusively about George Washington by any means, he is the central character in the book. Congress, the Declaration of Independence, and other notable events are dealt with peripherally as they affected the young American Army and its commanders. The biggest lesson to draw from the
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About InfoCard

Missing Digital ID World last week also meant that I missed the coming out party for Microsoft's proposal on digital identity: InfoCard. InfoCard is an identity metasystem, designed to build identity systems on top of. InfoCard is Kim Cameron's baby and his blog has been the center of much discussion regarding what he calls the laws of digital identity. Here's some reference material on InfoCard: Microsoft's Vision of an Identity Metasystem whitepaper Johannes Ernst's summary Tons of links at IT Garage Summary at Between the Lines
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The Continuing March of Dynamic Languages

Oracle announced Zend yesterday, an integration of PHP with their Oracle 10g database. If I were starting a small Web-based business today, I wouldn't even consider Java. I'd stick with a dynamic language like PHP, Perl, Python, or (gasp) Scheme. On Scheme, I don't think it was possible to use it in production Web systems even four years ago without significant work. I think its possible now. Much of what I've been playing around with for the last few months has been aimed at determining whether I'd use Scheme for a production Web system and I'm almost there. Right
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AdSense: Now Available in Feeds

Google has announced the public beta of Google AdSense for RSS feeds. The idea is simple. Just as some blogs had Google ads, now their feeds can too. Some will decry this as the end of all that's right and proper. I agree with Steve Gillmor, the market will decide.
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SOA Case Studies

One of the things that InfoWorld discovered doing the two SOA Executive Forums that I participated in was that people have a huge appetite for case studies. It seems that people need to see how others are using Web services in order to get their creative juices flowing. A few weeks ago InfoWorld did a special issue with a handful of SOA case studies. Its worth reading.
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Meeting Wizard

While I was in New York, Jon Udell mentioned Meeting Wizard to me. Meeting Wizard is a simple Web site that allows you to coordinate setting up meeting times. I've already used it to schedule a real meeting and it seems like its going to save a lot of email coordination. I'd like some things like RSS feeds and support for iCalendar format added, but still its pretty nice.
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SOA Forum: CTO Reality Check

Chad Dickerson is moderating a panel called "CTO Reality Check." The panelists are: Usman Rabbani, Pfizer Rich Erickson, Technical Consultant, AT&T Marc Saffer, CIO, The Columbia House Company What's different about SOA from CORBA, DCOM, OOP, etc.? Global scale and infrastructure (HTTP) makes a difference. Web services are much simpler than CORBA. Loose coupling as well as platform and language independence make Web services more interoperable. AT&T Strategy: create inventory of services within different domains (say, sales and marketing). Build a target services roadmap from the result and then start implementing the services on the roadmap. Many of the
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SOA Executive Forum (East)

I'm at the East Coast version of InfoWorld's SOA Executive Forum in NY. My panel on services and contracts went well this morning--better than last time, I think. Part of that was the panel having some idea what was coming, but most of it, I think was the audience. We got some great questions that drove the discussion in interesting ways. That's probably my fault for not encouraging enough audience questions at the West Coast event. I'm in the panel on opportunities and challenges for the agile enterprise at the moment. Jon Udell is moderating. The panelists are: Bruce
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Give Feeds a Chance

Steve Gillmor poses a challenge to those who hide their content: [T]hose who still fear ads in feeds, try this experiment?give us a full text feed with ads (or not, if the content is the ad) and maintain an abstract feed without. Then let the market choose. I know what I think will happen. And quickly too. All we are saying? is give feeds a chance. From ? Arbitriage | Steve Gillmor's InforouterReferenced Tue May 17 2005 09:34:04 GMT-0400 (EDT)
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Verifying Identity Assertions in LID

When Johannes Ernst first proposed LID, I said it was more like business cards rather than real identity credentials because it lacked the ability to verify identity assertions that people made about themselves. The latest LID spec contains a method for third part verification of assertions (see Section 4.7). I think that this closes a major hole. I haven't reviewed the new spec in detail yet, but I wanted to mention this since it was my major gripe before.
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IEEE Computer RSS Feeds

The IEEE Computer Society now has RSS feeds of its journals online. Very good. On the opposite end, I found several articles in the May issue of the Communications of the ACM that I want to write about, but not only don't they have the articles online, they don't even have the table of contents up for May. They're still on April! Just one more example of ACM being out of touch with the 21st Century.
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Apple Dashboard and Connectivity

I've been gone the last week. I was on staff at a Woodbadge Training course. For those of you not familiar with Woodbadge, it's an adult leadership training course run by the Boy Scouts. Probably the best leadership training I've ever received and being on staff was a lot of fun--even with the four inches of rain that fell last week. While I was away, I had very limited Internet connectivity and even less free time. Consequently, I didn't post. I did have my Mac with me, however, and I'm running Tiger. One thing I noticed is that one
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Organization Get the IT They Deserve

The tagline for my blog is "Organizations Get the IT They Deserve." This is a quip I made to Bob Woolley one time when I was Utah's CIO. The idea seems to resonate with people. My tagline, and blog, were recently discussed in an article in Australia's CIO magazine by Sue Bushell called "Just Desserts."
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Services and Contracts

My panel on services and contracts went pretty well, I think. We went through many of the issues I identified earlier. A few new things came up that I hadn't thought through. First, we discussed WS-Policy and some of the identity issues surrounding service contracts. Second, we got into a discussion of directories (UDDI). The reason for discussing directories is that much of contracts has to do with exchanging metadata and one of the ways metadata is delivered is from the directory. I'm not sure we made that clear enough for the audience.
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Mark Carges: How are Companies Using SOA

The technology track keynote is from Mark Carges, CTO of BEA Systems. BEA and InfoWorld did a study of SOA. They found that only 28% of companies have adopted SOA. About half of those were pilot projects. Only 8% have some kind of enterprise-wide approach (which puts what Toby just described in the state-of-the-art). Early adopters are making SOA a priority. Of those doing something, 14% things is a critical priority in the next 12 months, but over 60% put it in the critical or high priority category over the next 3-5 years. SOA is an attribute and architectural
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Toby Redshaw on SOA

I'm at the InfoWorld SOA Executive Forum today. I'm running a panel on Services and Contracts later this morning. San Jose is rainy, but warm. It's actually kind of pleasant. The room is packed. Apparently they were turning people away. That's a result of two things, I think: (a) a general uptick in tech spending and (b) a feeling among IT folks that SOA (via Web services) is going to be an important part of their IT strategy. There are two tracks at the conference today, a business track and a technology track. The keynotes are similarly bifurcated. First
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Why Doesn't My RSS Feed Show Up in Safari

If you're using Safari and wondering why the nice blue RSS icon doesn't show up for your blog, the answer is that you have to add a <link/> tag to your header. This is the same solution as for Firefox. As an aside, I like Safari's default action upon clicking the icon better than Firefox's. Firefox subscribes you to its own, pretty cheesy, RSS bookmark folder where as Safari nicely popped the subscription right into NetNewsWire.
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Tiger Update

I upgraded to Tiger yesterday. I knew I was going to be traveling and its always more thrilling to update right before a big trip. I did the smae thing with Panther. Go figure. I used Synchronize Pro to make a bootable copy on my firewire drive (Carbon Copy Cloner would work as well) and then did a straight upgrade. I heard about an alternative after I was done: do a wipe and install and then use the OS X feature that transfers your data and applications from an old machine to get them from the bootable copy. That's
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My New Audio Toy: MOTU Traveler

MOTU Traveler I got a new toy this week, a MOTU Traveler. The traveler is a small, but very capable, digital mixer that links to your computer via firewire. I have been using a cheap Beringer mixer that I plugged into my computer using a Griffin iMic. I've not been getting the quality of recordings I've wanted, however, so I was looking for something digital. I started out looking for a USB mixer, but this one caught my eye. The Traveler has four XLR inputs and 8 other RCA jacks that are all available individually inside the computer. The
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Virutal Machines and Software Development

Joel Spolsky talks about how his company uses virtual machines as part of their software development process. He gives several examples of how they use it at Fog Creek: Here's an example. The first thing that FogBugz Setup does when you run it is to test that all kinds of prerequisites are installed, like IIS and MDAC and VBScript. In order to develop and test that code, I need virtual machines that are missing the prerequisites, so I can test all the code paths. With VMware 5, I can build a stripped down virtual machine containing, say, a minimum
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More Lost Personal Data

Time Warner has told employees that they've misplaced personal data of 600,000 current and former employees. The tapes, part of a routine shipment being taken to the site by off-site data storage company Iron Mountain didn't include data about Time Warner customers, the company said in a statement. From Time Warner says data on 600,000 workers lost | By Lucas Mearian, ComputerworldReferenced Tue May 03 2005 14:15:33 GMT-0600 (MDT) You have to protect backups of personal data as carefully as you protect the real data, maybe more so as this story shows. Your backup data is subject to being
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Doing Away with Trust

Jamie Lewis has responded to posts about identity context and trust from myself, Kim Cameron, and Luke Razzell with a post on trust and what it means with respect to digital identity. As Jamie says, "the term 'trust' ... carries an enormous amount of baggage." Jamie goes on to say that when we speak of trust in the context of digital identity, what we're really talking about is surety and risk management. Thus to gain trust in another entity is the process of gathering evidence that can be used to establish the level of risk for any particular transaction.
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Don Box on WS-Mex

Kim Cameron pointed to my questions about WS-Mex and Don Box gave his reasons for why WS-Mex is needed over and above simple HTTP. I think it basically comes down to the fact that SOAP and its related protocols are, ideally, transport neutral. WS-Mex is one component of that transport neutrality. In fact, in doc/literal mode SOAP is really nothing more than transport anyway. Like many things in Computer Science, SOAP is simply another layer of indirection and the costs and benefits of indirection layers are well understood. WS-Mex is one way of preserving the SOAP-as-transport indirection.
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The Strange Pleasure of Upgrading Software

Apple's release of OS 10.4 (aka Tiger) inspired an editorial in the NY Times on the pleasure of upgrading. Like many Apple computer users, I'm in a pleasant state of expectation. I've ordered Apple's updated operating system, but it hasn't yet arrived. I have housecleaning to do before I can install it: deleting dead programs in my applications folder, for instance, and backing up my hard drive. Then will come the almost visceral pleasure of installing new software. This is one of the most pleasant tasks I know, vastly easier than straightening up the barn or taking the truck
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Lincoln's Constitution

Over the weekend, I finished Lincoln's Constitution by Daniel Farber. The book deals with Lincoln's actions during the civil war and studies their constitutionality. The book's conclusion: [M]ost of that Lincoln did...was in fact constitutional. He was correct that secession was unconstitutional, a revolutionary act rather than a legitimate exercise of state sovereignty. He was also correct that, in actual areas of war or insurrection, he had emergency power to suspend habeas and impose martial law. This is not to say that everything he did was constitutional. Military jurisdiction was extended beyond constitutional bounds in the North; money was
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