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Archive for Jan 2008


Starting a High Tech Business: The Rude Dog Demo and Working Code

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 eighth 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 way with words and has started his share of high-tech businesses. I asked him his advice on getting started and Dan said "Welp, you gotta get yourself a rude dog demo!" What he meant is that you can't just start a
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Arc Is Released

Paul Graham has released Arc, his new language. Arc is still a work in progress. We've done little more than take a snapshot of the code and put it online. I spent a fews days cleaning up inconsistencies, but it's still in the semi-finished state most software is, full of hacks and note-to-self comments about fixing them. From Arc's OutReferenced Wed Jan 30 2008 16:21:31 GMT-0700 (MST) Paul mentions Arc in a number of his essays: The Hundred-Year Language http://www.paulgraham.com/noop.html http://www.paulgraham.com/progbot.html Some Work on Arc Arc Paul wrote HackerNews in Arc as a "big project" to shake out the
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Ping vs Sun

A few days ago, someone at Sun made a video that poked some fun at Ping Identity (disclosure, I'm on their advisory board--I think--it's been a long time). Ping fired back with a humorous video of their own. Heck, if they both keep acting like this, the world's going to have to pay attention to federation, just for entertainment value alone!
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Putting ICE on Your Cell

A great tip from David Stephenson: Keep ICE in Your Cell Phone! Basically the idea is simple, put "in case of emergency" contacts into your phone's contact list as ICE-1, ICE-2, etc. That way, emergency responders can look in your cell phone to find out who to contact. Of course, they have to know to do this, so we need to get a critical mass of people doing it and get a little traction. I'm in.
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Time for Fry's in Utah

Now that CompUSA is closing, there are no decent places in Utah to buy electronics. Not that CompUSA was a dream store by any means, but at least it was something. There's BestBuy and Circuit City, but they're not the same--they just don't have a good assortment of disks, video cards, cases, memory, etc. Scott Lemon has begun a campaign to convince Fry's Electronics to open a store in Utah. He's proposing we send them emails asking them to locate a store here. Here's the message: To: feedback@frys.com; service@outpost.com; press@outpost.com Subject: Open a Fry's Electronics in Utah Body: I
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CTO Breakfast Report for January

Scott Lemon shows off his XO Laptop(click to enlarge) We started off this morning discussing AsteriskNow, an easy install of the Asterisk VoIP system. Scott Lemon and I talked to Jared Smith a while back on that. Apparently it's pretty easy to set up and get working. Scott claims 3 hours start to finish. I brought up ProQuo, a service that aims to stop junk mail. I signed up on Halloween and I've got to say I've noticed a real drop in the amount of junk mail I get. Score one for us! Scott brought his XO laptop and
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Utah Election and Caucus Information

Utah Capitol Building(click to enlarge) Utah will participate in the Super Tuesday presidential primary on February 5th (as do 23 other states). Then on March 25th, we'll hold the regular statewide caucus meetings to elect delegates to the state conventions later in the year. I'm Republican Precinct Chair for Lindon 4. I'll let you know where the caucus meeting will be held when I have that information. In the meantime, here's some important dates: Jan 29 - Last day for walk-in registration - Last minute voter registration is available for the new voter to register in person at the
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CTO Breakfast on Thursday!

This Thursday is the CTO Breakfast! We've got a few really cool things lined up: Scott Lemon is going to give a short tutorial on writing Facebook applications Scott also is going to bring his XO Laptop (one laptop per child) OK, so basically, it's the Scott Lemon show. But I'm sure it will lead to plenty of good discussion. So come prepared to learn and to talk about the cool things you've seen since last we met. The breakfast is at the Novell Cafeteria (Building G). It's not as far as you think! Really. I promise. Try it
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Managing Spotlight and Memory Usage

Over the weekend, I reloaded Leopard. If you remember, I was forced to upgrade to Leopard by a bad Tiger update a few months ago. My preferred method of upgrading is to wipe the disk, do a fresh install, and then restore my applications and personal files from backup. Due to the circumstances of the situation I was in, I didn't get to do that. I decided that the three day weekend presented the perfect opportunity. The install and restore went fine and I was soon running a squeaky fresh copy of Leopard. I'm in the habit of running
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Perl Testing

I didn't grow up in an era where testing was as well though of as it is now. When I learned to program, you ran a few tests after the fact and threw it over the wall to the QA department. Not very politically correct in today's software engineering world. As a result, I understand the value of testing and support the idea intellectually, but I don't have the discipline. Recently I was faced with the problem of building code that translated a domain specific language (KRL) back and forth between three different representations: The textual representation is what
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Passing on the Macbook Air

A number of people have given various objections to the Macbook Air (MBA): small drive, no firewire, no ethernet port, and so on. I can live with all of those. I'd get one primarily for travel, so I don't mind the small drive. I've been using disks over 801.11N with my MBP for months and won't miss an ethernet or firewire port. Further, I'm intrigued by the solid state drive. So, the MBA looks like the perfect travel machine with one exception: there's no 3G card. Huh!?! Further, because there's no Express/34 slot, I can't use the card I
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Kynetx Making Progress

I now have evidence that Kynetx is gaining momentum: I got my first call from an Indian "business process outsourcer" today asking if we had any programming work we wanted to outsource. They answer, by the way, is no. While I do believe that there is a role for outsourced programming and many places where it works very well, I don't foresee Kynetx doing much because of how I like to work. I build "two-pizza" teams--a programming team that you can feed lunch to with only two pizzas and I like my programmers close by. I think there is
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Scheme and Ruby

Duane Johnson pointed me to a very interesting discussion on Y Combinator about the differences between Scheme and Ruby. This is an excellent discussion--not a flame war--that I found enlightening. The summary, if you don't want to read the discussion thread: Ruby closures are more complex Macros, macros, macros... Can't say enough about macros. Every language besides Lisp and it's close relatives trade macros for complex syntax. Maybe that's a good trade-off, maybe not. Nevertheless, it is a trade-off. You can't have the full power of macros without simple (abstract) syntax that's exposed to the programmer. Now, that I've
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Colorado Abandoning Electronic Voting

Colorado will decide to abandon electronic voting in the upcoming election. I believe that ten years hence no state will support electronic voting--specifically, I think that direct-record voting machines (DRE) will be gone. The opportunities for undetectable fraud (even with reasonably large audits) in small elections are too large and cannot be solved by applying technology.
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One Good Reason to Love the iPhone

Some people wonder why I love my iPhone. I'll give you one simple reason: In all the years I've owned mobile phones, not one ever got better as it aged. The iPhone has gotten better three times now and promises to do so in the future. Today's bump added pseudo-GPS capability (which seems to work surprisingly well), a user-manageable home page, and multiple SMS recipients. As an aside, my update wasn't seamless. After it tried the first time, it told me I had to do a restore. That worked fine, restoring the software to the latest version and then
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Google Apps for the iPhone: Much Improved

Apple iPhone(click to enlarge) Since yesterday's announcement that Google had released an iPhone-ready look and feel for it's Google Apps, I've been playing with GMail and Google Reader quite a bit on the iPhone. This is a much improved experience. I'm impressed. The apps are responsive and function well on the reduced real estate of the iPhone screen. Because GMail pre-loads recent messages, clicking on a message to read it brings it up nearly instantaneously. The address fields also auto-complete. I could see myself using GMail on the iPhone instead of the built in Mail application and getting along
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Clips Are Back!

In the old days, you could reference a section of audio in an IT Conversations program using a handy tool that Doug Kaye created. Jon Udell was among the most frequent users of that service, but others, including yours truly, used it as well. Then, IT Conversations started auto assembling so that the show always had fresh sponsorship promos in every show--even those from long ago. The problem is that this created variable length intros and so the excerpt, which was measured from the start of the MP3 file moved around. Not good. Doug has fix that with a
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Some Major CS Conferences in Utah Coming Up

There are a number of major technical events coming up in Salt Lake City in February. It is not often that premier computer science research conferences come to Salt Lake City, as opposed to Boston, Austin, Seattle, or the Bay Area. John Carter am the General Chair of the HPCA conference and got the IEEE to locate it here. Also convinced PPoPP to co-locate their conference here. All of the events below, except the Organick Lectures, will be at the Marriott City Center in SLC (next to Gallivan Plaza downtown). Feb 16-20: 14th International Symposium on High Performance Computer
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Xen and Multiple Networks

Last Friday I asked a question about how to set up a network in Xen with a machine attached between a public and private network, like you might use in a firewall or load balancing situation. I want to be able to mimic real world networking situation in Xen for experimentation and modeling purposes. There were numerous replies and I'm grateful for all the help. In the end, Steve Fulling (he's not as pointy haired as you though) came up with a pretty simple solution. To use virt-install to create a bridged, public machine, you'd do something like this:
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Going to Beijing in April

I'm planning a trip to Beijing in April for WWW2008. I'm looking for other things (conferences, speaking engagements, etc.) I might combine it with in Asia to maximize the trip/time benefit. Any ideas?
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Xen, VLANs, and Load Balancing

I want to create a setup on XEN that has one or more machines load balancing for a number of other machines on a private network. This diagram shows roughly what I'm thinking: The idea is that some machines will be connected to both the public network and the private LAN and other machines will only be connected to the VLAN. This offers some security benefits and reduces the number of public IP numbers I need. The catch is I want to do this all virtually. Does anyone know of the recommended way to do this with XEN? I
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Phil's Pick of the Week: Dark Matter

My pick of the week on IT Conversations is Dark Matter: Are We Missing the Real Internet Economy? from Supernova 2007. The discussion, about money made on the Web--from exploiting inefficient ad networks using arbitrage to the downright illegal, offers a fascinating look at the dark underbelly of e-commerce.
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Not All HD Programs Are Alike

1080i broadcast, KSL TV (local news) note: jaggies on collar(click to enlarge) The picture to the right shows a close-up of the anchor in a local newscast from KSL-TV (channel 5 in Utah). The broadcast is advertised as 1080i (e.g. my TV claims it's a 1080i signal based on the info in the signal). If you look closely, you'll see that the collar (a nice, high-contrast diagonal line) has jaggies--stair-steps in the collar instead of a smooth line. You can see them very clearly. 1080i broadcast, KSL TV (national news) note: collar is smooth(click to enlarge) The second picture
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How the iPhone is Changing the Wireless Industry

Apple iPhone(click to enlarge) The latest issue of Wired Magazine has a great article on the iPhone: The Untold Story: How the iPhone Blew Up the Wireless Industry. Very interesting behind the scenes details and analysis. Here's the summary: The hosannas greeting the iPhone were so overwhelming it was easy to ignore its imperfections. The initial price of $599 was too high (it has been lowered to $399). The phone runs on AT&T's poky EDGE network. Users can't perform email searches or record video. The browser won't run programs written in Java or Flash. But none of that mattered.
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Ten Four Reasons Businesses Shouldn't Use the iPhone

Apple iPhone(click to enlarge) CIO magazine has a piece on the 10 Reasons IT Should Not Support the Apple iPhone from Forrester Research. I realize we all like lists with numbers and ten is our favorite since we have ten fingers, but only the first four in this list are real reason. The rest are stupid. Let's look at them. The iPhone Doesn't Allow Data on the Device to be Encrypted - with all the problems businesses have with corporate data ending up on stolen or lost devices, I'd have to agree with this. Still, I'd bet the number
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Google's Hardware Initiatives

Here's a couple of very interesting articles about Google's home grown 10Gb Ethernet switches and how it builds it's own servers.
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Bill Gate's Last Day

This video of Bill Gate's last date, from his real last CES keynote is quite funny. I think it's awesome that Billy G can make fun of himself like this. There are so many parts of this that just make me smile.
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The IO Programming Language

One of my students, Duane Johnson, asked me this morning if I'd heard of the IO programming language. I hadn't. Looking around, it looks like a fun little language. IO is a "pure" object oriented programming language with a simple syntax. IO is a prototype-based OO language. Consequently, Javascript programmers will find the sample code pretty easy to follow. IO's reflective capabilities are very impressive. IO isn't, as far as I can tell, ready for your next programming project--yet. It's still experimental. Still, it's good to see new languages spring up. There are good ideas to be had and
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Getting Free HD TV Programming

As I mentioned before, I bought a new HD TV for Christmas (a Sony 40 inch XBR4). That put me on the hunt for good sources of HD programming. Something I overlooked for a while, and I'm sure I'm not alone, is over-the-air, free programming from local TV stations. We're so used to the "antenna == bad" school of thought that the cablecos dished out for the last twenty years that we don't even consider it. There's no doubt that for analog television antennas almost always produced worse results than satellite or cable, but for digital, that's no longer
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Is Intuitive Always Good?

Here's a good, short artcile from Raganwald on the trade-off between intuitiveness and programming languagge expressiveness. Most of the article is a few quotes. The meat is at the bottom. Is Ruby's for loop an improvement over Java? By how much? Ruby's big win over Java in that regard is the ease with which you can use Enumerable's collect, select, detect, and inject methods. Which, of course, are not familiar to the programmer with a grounding in for loops. They require study to understand. But once understood, they make code easier to read thereafter. When you're building a new
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PodcampSLC Date has Been Moved

The podcamp scheduled in Salt Lake for January 26th has been changed to March 29th. The location, Neumont University, is the same. I'm planning on going.
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Working With Millenials

Robert Merrill, one of the regulars at the CTO Breakfast has a great post on working with Millenials, keying off yesterday's firing of Tiffany Fallon instead of Omarosa on Celebrity Apprentice. Good stuff! That's one of the things I like about the apprentice--you can learn real lessons watching it---something I can't say for American Idol.
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Starting a High Tech Business: Talent

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 seventh installment. You may find my efforts instructive. Or you may know a better way--if so, please let me know! Yesterday we held the first of what we call Kynetx Jam Sessions at the clubhouse. These are the meetings with some close friends and advisors who are helping us chart the initial course for Kynetx. I expect that as we get funding and ramp up, many of these
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Top Ten IT Conversations Shows for 2007

Here's the list of the top ten shows on IT Conversations (by number of downloads) for all of 2007: Bruce Johnson - Technometria: Google Web Toolkit (Rating: 4.15)Recently, Google released from beta its Google Web Toolkit. Google Web Toolkit (GWT) is an open source Java software development framework that makes writing AJAX applications like Google Maps and Gmail easy for developers who don't speak browser quirks as a second language. Phil and Scott talk to Bruce Johnson, one if its co-creators. In addition to discussing its development, Bruce gives a number of examples of projects that took advantage of
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Top IT Conversations Shows for December 2007

Here are the top ten shows on IT Conversations (by number of downloads) for December 2007: Trust Online Panel 1 - Technical and Regulatory Issues (No rating yet)While the Internet is quickly becoming an indispensable part of our lives and business, it still remains a challenging environment to achieve a secure and private experience. In this moderated panel from the Trust Online Conference, Lise Buyer leads an insightful discussion of trust with the help of an extremely qualified panel. Scott Charney, Mozelle Thompson, and Dr. James Ransome share their experience while addressing some of the fundamental challenges of managing
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Cheap Computer Microscopes

salt 200x(click to enlarge) Celestron will supposedly announce a sub-$300 dollar microscope with a built-in screen and a 2 megapixel camera. That's pretty cool, but it that's out of your price range, you can pick up an used IntelPlay QX3 microscope on eBay for $35. The specs aren't quite a sweet (200x, 1 megapixel), but it does hook to a USB port. I've had one for many years. I found an OS X software package called macam that works with it pretty well. My son and I took some pictures with it a while back. If you're looking for
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Good News and Bad News: Office 2008

Gizmondo has a hands on report about Office 2008 for the Mac. The good news: it's Intel native, as you'd expect. The bad news: they've "updated" the user interface, as you'd expect. The old Office running under Rosetta is definitely a pig, but having used Office 2007 on Windows, I shudder at what's going to change in the interface. Office 2004 is by no means perfect, but it's the devil I know. Fortunately the screenshots for O'08 don't seem to be as radical a departure from the old scheme as O'07 was. I'm crossing my fingers.
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