Basic Cable for the Internet
Saturday, November 26, 2005
  Free physics text
Edumification wants to be free!

Mountain Motion: The Adventure of Physics

Seems to be a pretty complete text: can’t wait to get to the chapter where they explain the whole unification theory! Ah, here it is, chapter XII… not yet available?


Here’s my favorite quote out of context: “The limit speed for Olympic walking is thus only one third of the speed of light.” Nice mix of serious, complex subject with some easy to understand examples.

Friday, November 25, 2005
  Wordpress and the free blogs
Unlike this site, it includes trackbacks. Nice.

Look me up at:

Or get your own WordPress blog here
Monday, November 21, 2005
  Really Simple Sharing
Ray Ozzie does it again: he's proposed (under a CC license, no less) a new standard that leverages RSS to allow multi-master sharing of the info that you need replicated, with appropriate filters. As an example, think of having all of your calendars (private, public, home, work, shared with spouse, shared with study group) managed through one interface, with the updates only going where you want them to go, thus keeping your worlds as separate or as together as you want them to be. And this applies to your contacts, your files, any list you have anywhere of stuff that needs to be replicated elsewhere.

It's marvelous.

Here’s the draft spec for SSE, and

Ray has a blog: only two items so far, but it will be one to watch.

Sunday, November 20, 2005
  A theory in draft
Just some thoughts from a conversation on parenting, that I had over the weekend. Nothing in here is a final statement of belief.

Over thousands/millions of years of evolution, humans (and in fact, one could argue, most animals) have acquired a sense of need to fulfill basic requirements for survival. This need was relatively constant, since these basic requirements weren't always in full supply. Specifically:

- Physical nourishment (food, water, as much fat as could be acquired in order to sustain through lean times or when the gazelle had too much caffeine that morning)
- Shelter (a roof over one's head, whether that roof be shingled or the inside of a cave)

So we are programmed to always be in pursuit of those basic requirements. All the time... we don't really have an "off" switch for it. We have an "I'm full" switch, which really only goes off way past the point when we're full, and that is why people recommend eating your food slowly: the triggers that say "I'm full" only reach your brain about ten-fifteen minutes after the fact. However, that switch is a very short-lived on, and turns itself off after about an hour.

This serves as a possible (at least partial) explanation about obesity and consumerism in societies in which basic requirements (food, shelter) have been fulfilled. Even though you have enough nourishment and a roof over your head, that doesn't stop the programmed "need to pursue". Even though you do not want for anything right now, your body/mind is constantly pushing you to prepare for the time when you will, which as far as it knows (from thousands of years of evolutionary training) will most probably be very soon.

A pat little explanation for ennui as a whole. And as with most broadly oversimplified arguments, there's some truth in it as well as some analogies that have been stretched too thin. But we have been trained for millenia to always be in pursuit, and only feel basic, temporary satisfaction when we achieve the goal. What we have now is the spilling out of that "need to pursue" beyond the realm of basic requirements, since these have been met (at least in the society in which I live). Since we have no other defined triggers and requirements to meet, it gets messy: we pursue those things that give us a quick shot of that feeling of contentment that arises when you're sitting at home around a crackling fire, surrounded by family and the remains of a really good meal: the Rockwell Thanksgiving feeling. The easiest route for that pursuit leads to more food, an obvious choice: it's just more of what you already acquired. Otherwise, we end up with consumerism, monomania, addiction, etc.

Makes sense to me.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
  Mac OS/Linux/Windows Single Sign-On
Yes, Centrify and Vintela allow you to do much much more to integrate your Mac, *nix and Windows environments, but what do the *users* really want? They want Single Sign On. They don't care about the rest of it... centralized inventory and management, blah blah blah. That's for nerds.

You can give them single sign-on in ten minutes (if you already have an AD domain set up, that is...). This site gives you the details. Yes, you'll have to go to each machine to do it, but it's a quick win, and if you only have a handful of non-Windows machines in your environments, it's a slam-dunk.

Heh heh. "Quick win". It's pun night.

Plus, your users will love you. And isn't that why we got into IT? For the user love?

No? Just me? Fine. Here's a different site, Linux-specific, similar info.
  Web insanity
It feels like the bubble all over again. How many services do we have now that are offering stuff for free... in some cases, even without the inane "we'll pay for it all with advertising" mantra that doomed the first bubble?

Yes, they are now owned by MS, but how does FolderShare work in the real world? I can share any number of files? Unlimited? As long as each file is less than 2GB?

And what about mozy? Free online continual backup? Up to 2GB? Yes, that's not enough for your MP3 collection (nor my 10+GB of photos either) but for your average user, that's massive. And paid for by the occasional spam in your inbox.


But beautiful. Between mozy, ultraVNC, FolderShare, Blogger, helpful analysis tools like Google Analytics and a handful of others free online tools, I have almost everything I need to launch my business. Except for a physical space.

And Google Maps should help me find that. But I still don't understand how Google Base will fit in here. It's one of those tools that I know that if I look at hard enough, suddenly an amazing use will pop out of the woodwork for it. I promise you, in five years there will be businesses based (pun fully intended) at least partially on Google Base, and they will seem really obvious in hindsight.

Viva la Web 2.0!
  SharePoint complaints
I've long complained (off-line) about the inconsistencies and incompleteness of the current SharePoint implementation. I like the product overall, but it still has too much of a "ver 1.0" feel to it. MS seems to be positioning SP as an upgrade to the collaborative functionality in Public Folders in Exchange, along with a basic document management system as an upgrade to using Windows as a file server. However, in many cases SP is actually a step back from those products, or at the very least a lost opportunity to improve issues those systems had. In particular:

Yes, I understand that some of these issues are ones that can be taken care of with a little programming or a third part tool, but I believe they should be part of the basic functionality of the product. They are capabilities that, like better GPO management in AD, everyone who uses the product will eventually have to deal with, and will be very frustrated by having to reinvent the wheel and roll their own solution.
  Remote support
I'm looking for tools to provide remote tech support to people who aren't necessarily part of a domain that I control, and who might not be happy with someone else installing remote control software on their home computers. So far the best alternatives seem to be:

- Free: UltraVNC, which is a *great* tool to allow a single support instance that the end user can download onto their machine.
- Not free:
- Citrix GoToAssist
- Network Streaming's Support Desk. Probably about $1700 list.

The Support Desk tool has a nice benefit: you can reboot and automatically reconnect, which is always a problem in this kind of scenario.

Any other suggestions?
  MS Helps with the whole browser hijacking problem they helped cause

Can't blame them for trying... I'm a little disappointed that it doesn't go into a little bit more detail on ActiveX awareness, and what the user will see when IE detects or blocks suspicious software. For example, after setting the security settings in IE to "Medium" (as the page recommends), there will be new messages that IE will start showing. These will confuse the user who doesn't understand why their browser is acting differently all of a sudden. These are the usual two that will appear under the IE toolbars:

In my experience, if you tell a typical end-user that changing Setting X will help raise their security posture, and Setting X causes some behavioral changes that the user isn't expecting or didn't clearly understand, you're just asking for another support call. "Hi, I'm not sure if this is relevant, but now that I'm paranoid about security and about how IE can be hijacked, I just noticed these new messages that starting appearing in my browser whenever I visit my... work... related... sites."
Look Ma! A Blogger template!

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