Ramblings & ephemera

Lovely – Microsoft will let companies create ad-filled desktop themes

From Jeff Bertolucci’s “Windows 7 Ads: Microsoft Tarts Up the Desktop” (PC World: 13 November 2009): Microsoft has announced plans to peddle Windows 7 desktop space to advertisers, who’ll create Windows UI themes–customized backgrounds, audio clips, and other elements–that highlight their brand, Computerworld reports. In fact, some advertiser themes are already available in the Windows […]

Linux Phrasebook in Russian

My book, Linux Phrasebook, which is still selling well & still just as useful today as when it came out in 2006 (& will be for another decade or two, given how consistent the Linux command line is), has been translated into Russian. You can find it at this Russian website, where I found out […]

Nicholas Carr’s cloud koan

From Nicholas Carr’s “Cloud koan” (Rough Type: 1 October 2009): Not everything will move into the cloud, but the cloud will move into everything.

COBOL is much more widely used than you might think

From Darryl Taft’s “Enterprise Applications: 20 Things You Might Not Know About COBOL (as the Language Turns 50)” (eWeek: September 2009). http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Enterprise-Applications/20-Things-You-Might-Not-Know-About-COBOL-As-the-Language-Turns-50-103943/?kc=EWKNLBOE09252009FEA1. Accessed 25 September 2009. Five billion lines of new COBOL are developed every year. More than 80 percent of all daily business transactions are processed in COBOL. More than 70 percent of all […]

Apple’s role in technology

Image via CrunchBase From Doc Searls’s “The Most Personal Device” (Linux Journal: 1 March 2009): My friend Keith Hopper made an interesting observation recently. He said one of Apple’s roles in the world is finding categories where progress is logjammed, and opening things up by coming out with a single solution that takes care of […]

Huck Finn caged

From Nicholas Carr’s “Sivilized” (Rough Type: 27 June 2009): Michael Chabon, in an elegiac essay in the new edition of the New York Review of Books, rues the loss of the “Wilderness of Childhood” – the unparented, unfenced, only partially mapped territory that was once the scene of youth. … Huck Finn, now fully under […]

Famous “Laws” of Business & Technology

These come from a variety of sources; just Google the law to find out more about it. Parkinson’s Law “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Source: Cyril Northcote Parkinson in The Economist (1955) The Peter Principle “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.” […]

Meeting expectations, no matter how silly, in design

From Operator No. 9’s “That decorating touch” (Interactive Week: 24 April 2000): 100: Dan Sweeney, general manager of Intel’s Home Networking division, says that when the company showed consumer focus groups the AnyPoint Wireless home networking system …, people became very confused, because there wasn’t a visible antenna. The desktop version of the wireless adapter […]

A better alternative to text CAPTCHAs

From Rich Gossweiler, Maryam Kamvar, & Shumeet Baluja’s “What’s Up CAPTCHA?: A CAPTCHA Based On Image Orientation” (Google: 20-24 April 2009): There are several classes of images which can be successfully oriented by computers. Some objects, such as faces, cars, pedestrians, sky, grass etc. … Many images, however, are difficult for computers to orient. For […]

Steve Jobs on mediocrity & market share

From Steven Levy’s “OK, Mac, Make a Wish: Apple’s ‘computer for the rest of us’ is, insanely, 20” (Newsweek: 2 February 2004): If that’s so, then why is the Mac market share, even after Apple’s recent revival, sputtering at a measly 5 percent? Jobs has a theory about that, too. Once a company devises a […]

Microsoft Exchange is expensive

From Joel Snyder’s “Exchange: Should I stay or should I go?” (Network World: 9 March 2009): There are many ways to buy Exchange, depending on how many users you need, but the short answer is that none of them cost less than about $75 per user and can run up to $140 per user for […]

Things we do that are legal, yet wish to remain private

Kissing Interviewing for a new job without your boss’s knowledge Visiting a therapist Praying Inspired by Patrick Keefe’s “Camera Shy” (Legal Affairs: July/August 2003).

More on Google’s server farms

From Joel Hruska’s “The Beast unveiled: inside a Google server” (Ars Technica: 2 April 2009): Each Google server is hooked to an independent 12V battery to keep the units running in the event of a power outage. Data centers themselves are built and housed in shipping containers (we’ve seen Sun pushing this trend as well), […]

Google’s server farm revealed

From Nicholas Carr’s “Google lifts its skirts” (Rough Type: 2 April 2009): I was particularly surprised to learn that Google rented all its data-center space until 2005, when it built its first center. That implies that The Dalles, Oregon, plant (shown in the photo above) was the company’s first official data smelter. Each of Google’s […]

Vista & Mac OS X security features

From Prince McLean’s “Pwn2Own contest winner: Macs are safer than Windows” (AppleInsider: 26 March 2009): Once it did arrive, Vista introduced sophisticated new measures to make it more difficult for malicious crackers to inject code. One is support for the CPU’s NX bit, which allows a process to mark certain areas of memory as “Non-eXecutable” […]

35% of adults have a social networking profile

From danah boyd’s “Social Media is Here to Stay… Now What?” at the Microsoft Research Tech Fest, Redmond, Washington (danah: 26 February 2009): At this stage, over 35% of American adults have a profile on a social network site.

Facebook & the Dunbar number

From The Economist‘s “Primates on Facebook” (26 February 2009): Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist who now works at Oxford University, concluded that the cognitive power of the brain limits the size of the social network that an individual of any given species can develop. Extrapolating from the brain sizes and social networks of apes, Dr Dunbar […]

New Zealand’s new copyright law

From Mark Gibbs’ “New Zealand gets insane copyright law” (Network World: 20 February 2009): A law was recently passed in New Zealand that has created what many consider to be the world’s harshest copyright enforcement law. This insanity, found in Sections 92A and C of New Zealand’s Copyright Amendment Act 2008 establishes – and I […]

Chemically remove bad memories

From Nicholas Carr’s “Remembering to forget” (Rough Type: 22 October 2008): Slowly but surely, scientists are getting closer to developing a drug that will allow people to eliminate unpleasant memories. The new issue of Neuron features a report from a group of Chinese scientists who were able to use a chemical – the protein alpha-CaM […]

Conficker creating a new gargantuan botneth

From Asavin Wattanajantra’s “Windows worm could create the ‘world’s biggest botnet’” (IT PRO: 19 January 2009): The Downadup or “Conficker” worm has increased to over nine million infections over the weekend – increasing from 2.4 million in a four-day period, according to F-Secure. … The worm has password cracking capabilities, which is often successful because […]