Wed, 14 Jan 2009 07:09:00 GMT
Microsoft's contribution to Web 2.0's AJAX revolution is well known with their creation of the XMLHttpRequest Object. Although it didn't take off until Firefox and Google picked it up, it was created by Microsoft, so they do deserve some kudos. Another good Microsoft creation that deserves some credit is MHTML (MIME HTML) which allows all of webpages referenced resources to be downloaded and saved in a single file. This way you can avoid having the manageability problem of many loose files which many browsers produce when you save a web page. This is very useful for archiving webpages to file servers and local disk as well as emailing webpages to people.
I'd like to see MHTML, or something similar, become a true industry standard so we can move away from the loose files downloads which are very inconvenient for archival purposes. Additionally, many CSS stylesheets now disrupt nice printing of pages which limits the ability of PDF printing for archival purposes..
An alternative to MHTML would be ZIP containers similar to ODF, OOXML, and XPS. Moving to standardized, containerized files will provide the same benefit of MIME HTML, allowing entire webpages and associated resources to be treated as a single file for better usability.
Wed, 14 Jan 2009 06:57:00 GMT
I've mostly stayed away from Microsoft's development environment but I recently wanted to use some COM objects. Given that many Microsoft code examples for COM were in VB, there was an incentive to check it out. Unfortunately, Microsoft's Visual Studio 2008 no longer supports VB6 which was EOLed 10 years ago. I had known Microsoft had fractured the VB community fractured with the introduction with VB.NET which introduced many changes that were not backward compatible. What I did not realize was that 10 years later, used copies of VB6 would continue to be in demand and sell for $200 on eBay. Not only are people still using VB6, they are still using Visual Studio 6. The situation is certainly not ideal for those wanting to use the VB6 paradigm and prompted me to consider if one of the benefits of open source is that you can be sure your development environment won't just stop dead in its tracks.
COM is easy to access from many languages so, not wishing to use 10 year old technology, I choose C# for my small project. For those making large investments in closed source development platforms, it's certainly something to think about.
Wed, 14 Jan 2009 06:42:00 GMT
Don Park and I used to work together so I was disappointed to learn that his startup, SafePage, has been deadpooled. Don and I worked together during the early days of the anti-phishing efforts. At the time we were putting together an anti-phishing toolbar and he was incorporating leading edge ideas like changing the address bar color when you were at an authenticated site and integrating identicons. Although our toolbar didn't make it in the end, I appreciated his efforts to build those ideas into a working prototype and it's good to see those same ideas implemented in tools people use everyday including Firefox and WordPress.com. Best of luck to those from SafePage and don't forget to check out Don's page if you know of good opportunities.
Wed, 14 Jan 2009 05:31:00 GMT
Ajay and I have recently been discussing the coming of netbooks. While we generally agreed on the impending success of coming intermediate sized form-factor devices, there was initially some debate about what qualifies as a netbook. I was happy to agree that netbooks were the future, especially since I wanted to classify the iPhone, iTouch, and other smart phones as netbooks. Ajay was more interested in MIDs and recently pointed me to this article iPhone, iPod Touch Aren't Netbooks. I think there are generally three types of devices that get included in netbook discussions:
- mini-laptops: these are what I traditionally associated with the term netbook
- MIDs: larger than phone-sized tablets for watching movies and surfing the web
- smartphones: iPhone, gPhone, Palm Pre, etc.
I'm not convinced MIDs will take off the way some people seem to think they will. The larger form factor of MIDs means that they will be inconvenient to carry around which is the primary downside in my opinion. Anything which cannot be carried in a pocket will require a murse, or man purse, for men and that is a huge impediment to adoption. There are just so many people willing to carry a murse. Additionally, many women don't carry large purses.
Ajay and I agreed the PSP may be an ideal compromise in size. I like the large screen and the ability to fit in jacket pockets. I've watched some movies on the PSP and the screen is a joy. The primary downside of the PSP is the unusual encoding and MemoryStick form factor IMO. The iPhone/iTouch has the same issue with MP4 videos. After all, who really wants to re-encode all their video? The Palm Pre seems to support AVIs so I'm eager to learn more about it. Ideally you could have a device that would have the following:
- pocket size
- great screen
- great wifi
- great phone
- great DACs
- MP3 support
- MP4 / iTunes support
- AVI support
- FLAC support
- 32+ GB SD card support
This way I wouldn't have to have an iPhone, a mobile phone, a Cowon, etc. It remains to be seen who will offer such a device but I'm hopeful one or more are coming.
But as to the question of whether an iPhone is a netbook or not? My take is that if a MID is a netbook then an iPhone is clearly a netbook as they both provide the same functionality in terms of small screen, video, surfing, and lack of a real keyboard to allow fast data entry and real work. Bring on the netbooks I say.
Posted in security
Fri, 30 May 2008 07:20:00 GMT
This article was initially focused on the T61p's fingerprint reader and IronKey; however, I've expanded it to cover other options as well. Since the fingerprint reader has turned out to have little value in the way of security, I've turned my attention to the bulk encryption hard drives and encrypting file systems.
I've been discussing IronKey; however, other hardware crypto tokens such as smart cards and USB tokens may also be solutions.
After playing with the ThinkPad T61p fingerprint reader, I got thinking whether it would be useful to tie an IronKey USB key to the laptop fingerprint reader and/or require the IronKey to be present for the ThinkPad to boot. Furthermore, the laptop's hard drive could be encrypted by a key stored on the IronKey. Some interesting things to think about.
Does anyone know how secure the ThinkPad fingerprint reader actually is? The NotebookReview Forum has a thread fingerprint readers.
Posted in marketing
Wed, 14 Nov 2007 07:24:00 GMT
In the old software days with point releases, major versions would increase from 1 to 2 to 3, etc. Releases in between major versions would point releases along the lines of 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and smaller releases would be 1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.1.3, etc. Then came along Windows 95 and the exit of sequential version numbers. With this naming scheme you really can't have Windows 95.1 so we now have Releases, along the lines of Oracle 11g Release 1 and Windows 2003 Server Release 2. You can pretty much guarantee that there isn't going to be an Oracle 11.1g ;)
That's all fine and good from a marketing perspective if the reason is that we are now using a year or abbreviation instead of a simple integer but are there other technical reasons? I recently upgraded from Apache httpd 2.0.x to 2.2.x and the major thing that I encountered was that configuration had changed significantly and that I had to redo my conf files. I've spoken with some people that indicated many organizations are afraid of point releases for enterprise software because they often break things and are not necessarily smooth upgrades. This fit with my Apache httpd experience which got me thinking.
If there exist enough backward compatibility problems with point releases, it would make sense that software publishers would want to avoid point releases (at least from a marketing perspective), when the release is backward compatible, e.g. Releases for former point releases, Service Packs for aggregated patches and the like. Has the single point (vs. double point) release come to mean that backward compatibility has been broken. If so, should it be avoided from a marketing perspective when backward compatibility still exists?
Posted in perl, yui
Fri, 09 Nov 2007 06:09:00 GMT
There is a lot of choice on the CPAN for open source Perl libraries and sometimes it's difficult to get an idea of how modules compare to each other. CPAN Ratings is a good source of reviews but it's not convenient to compare one module with another. To provide a partial solution, I whipped up a quick CPAN Compare page which will pull the CPAN Ratings from a number of modules and summarize them for you.
Wed, 05 Sep 2007 06:37:00 GMT
I just recently picked up a digital voice recorder (aka DVR, not to be confused with digital video recorders) for recording conference calls and meetings. In three short meetings I have become a true believer. I always taken detailed meeting notes but that was because I would write notes during the meeting. With a DVR, I can concentrate on running the call and going back to catch the details later.
For my first DVR I picked up the Olympus DS-30 from FRYs. The benefits that I keyed in on where the large-looking stereo speakers and the noise reduction. Since this is my first DVR I was easily impressed by the utility of it. So far I've recorded and played back on the device, copied the WMA files off using it as a USB storage device on Win XP and converted the WMA to OGG Vorbis using dbPowerAmp. The only thing that doesn't seem to work is the CD that it came with. XP would not recognize it at all but at least I don't need since it doubles as a USB device.
Although it meets my current notetaking requirements easily, I've been thinking about whether it'd be good to use for recording podcasts. My current issue is that it records in WMA and not a FOSS standard. After looking over a number of DVRs, it seems that the higher end ones use WMA, LPEC, DSS, etc. but not common music formats such as MP3 and OGG. What native format do you think is the best for DVRs? Is it fine to record as WMA and convert to OGG Vorbis or are there better options?
I don't know too much about voice recorders at the moment so I'm easy to please. Which ones do you like and what are important features for you?
Posted in activerecord, catalyst, mysql, perl, php, postgresql, typo
Wed, 05 Sep 2007 04:38:00 GMT
I've worked on a number of database-driven projects and no matter how much people want database abstraction, it was always difficult to code and maintain. I was recently reminded of this when I read this Drupal article on dropping PostgreSQL support. Not only can it be difficult to maintain support for multiple databases, but it may be difficult to find developers.
One solution of modern programming is to move database abstraction from the code to the infrastructure using a ORM (Object-Relational Mapper) or Data Mapper. A ORM and Data Mapper abstracts the database for you so you no longer have to do tie db abstraction to each app. Not only does it let you code once for multiple databases it lets your users migrate their data from one database to another. This blog runs Typo which is based on Ruby on Rails and ActiveRecord. I've been contemplating migrating Typo from MySQL to PostgreSQL and I've been told that it would be as simple as exporting the data with YAML, updating the database.yml file and importing the data. I haven't gotten around to doing it yet but it is a powerful idea. ActiveRecord is a data mapper and isn't as flexible as a full blown ORM but it gets the job done for the most part. For a full-blown ORM, I think of Perl's DBIx::Class which provides a full OO interface to the RDBMS allowing you to code just once for multiple DBs without limiting you when you want to use some esoteric database-specific SQL. DBIx::Class is often used with the Catalyst Framework but is also used by itself.
There are PHP frameworks out there like Symfony and Cake but do any of them have stand-alone ORMs? If so, could Drupal move to something like that and solve their maintainership problems once and for all? Drupal is part of the Go PHP5 effort so there should be no issue using PHP 5 OO. Something to think about for the Drupal folks if a PHP ORM is available.
Posted in authentication, singlesignon, openid
Sat, 07 Jul 2007 20:39:00 GMT
There has been a lot of talk about OpenID so I decided to take a look at it and think about some of the potential issues with respect to broad adoption and integrating it into a website as a relying party. There have been numerous attempts to either improve the security of authentication via the web or improve the usability with SSO (Single Sign-On) including client SSL, OTP tokens, USB tokens, AmEx Blue smart cards, Microsoft Passport, Verified by Visa, etc. Many of these had SSO capabilities but none has been able to supplant local passwords. It will be interesting to see if OpenID can succeed where these others have failed. Here are my thoughts after watching two screencasts but before following the mailing lists. I'm now reading the list archives and it seems a number of similar issues are being discussed.