About Duffbert...

Duffbert's Random Musings is a blog where I talk about whatever happens to be running through my head at any given moment... I'm Thomas Duff, and you can find out more about me here...

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Co-author of the book IBM Lotus Sametime 8 Essentials: A User's Guide
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03/31/2005

Time for March's... WACKY WEB HITS!

Category Blogging

Because I woke up early this morning and couldn't go back to sleep, you get the March list of odd search hits a little early this month.  Let's see what ye old referrer logs have...
  • hacking your electric meter - this is probably not a good idea, as the electric company frowns on this type of activity
  • naked hazing pictures - ewwww....
  • jake taylor thong - yes, I'm officially the #1 site for this term on google
  • deep mouth - either 1) I don't wanna go there, or 2) it's deep THROAT (and I don't wanna go there, either)
  • TSG Justice Systems - no, this is not a new venture by Team-TSG, nor does it involve physical harm to kneecaps (as we can't reach any higher)
  • kroger adult diapers - at times, you are glad not to know anything about the person behind the search term
  • ringing in the ears and prozac - yes, it does happen...
  • "how many" "books a year" - lots...
  • help I've no toilet paper - this is one of those times that being wired in the bathroom probably won't help this situation...
  • i need friends with email address - o... k...
  • richard schwartz pleads guilty - anything you want to tell us about, Rich?
  • old at 43 years old - and I'll be ancient this year at 44...
  • "I snore" "100" - apparently my wife is reading my blog...
  • brown paper bag condoms - you get what you pay for?
  • hockey disasters - that would be the 2004-2005 NHL season...
  • articles "pro microsoft" - and they found *my* blog?
  • eddie brill beer - an alter-ego/second job we don't know about?
  • i like duff - aw...  I like you too!
  • free adult diaper giveaway - what is it with March and adult diapers???


Just remember...  I don't write them, I just report them...

03/30/2005

So the next goal will be...

Category Book Reviews


breaking 200???


I checked my Amazon reviewer ranking this evening, and here's the news...


250!!!

Whoo-hoo!

03/29/2005

Book Review - Look Mom! I Built My Own Web Site! by Zohar Amihud

Category Book Reviews

Do you have a 9 to 12 year old that wants to understand how to build their own web page?  A good choice to get them started would be Look Mom!  I Built My Own Web Site! by Zohar Amihud.  It's pretty age-appropriate to that level...

Chapter List:  How To Begin Building A Personal Web Site; Writing Your First Web Page; Playing With Text; Add A Link; Add An Image; Playing With Color; Using A Table; Using A Table For Page Layout; Creating A Menu And Finish Building Your Web Site; What Next?; Stages Of Building Your Own Web Site; Making Your Site Live!; Choosing A Web Hosting Server For Your Web Pages; Promote Your Web Site; Index

First off, true confessions...  My kids are past the 9 - 12 age frame.  The youngest (who happens to be the more computer-savvy of the two) is pushing 17.  But it wasn't that long ago that he wanted to start building his own home page on the web, and I had to look hard to find a book that was easy enough for him to read and learn from, while still covering all the necessary information.  Amihud does a good job striking that balance for his target audience.  The chapters up to the point of making the site live are well-detailed with plenty of pictures and age-appropriate instruction and language.  I'd guess that most pre-teens would be able to take this book and follow along with little difficulty.  I was also impressed that the teaching was for properly formatted and strict HTML...  He uses META tags, target parameters in the Anchor tags, and even uses the proper XHTML format for the BR tag.  Nicely done...

The book gets a little iffy when you get to the parts about choosing a web hosting server.  There is a lot of talk about hosting options, domain names, service and support levels, etc.  Basically, it starts to get a little more difficult to follow the flow of information, and the style moves from more of a "follow this step" to "here's the information you'll need to know".  Much more abstract, and it will probably confuse a number of readers.  I would have liked to have seen two or three examples of hosting services listed, as well as instructions on how to upload your site to them.  I think that would have bridged the gap between theory and practical for the younger readers.

Overall, a nice book to give your kid if he's looking to establish an on-line site...  He might even learn a useful skill or two in the process...

03/29/2005

I keep waking up each morning, hoping that Terri Schiavo has passed away during the night...

Category Everything Else

I realize this is a highly emotional subject with people who hold very strong opinions on both sides of the issue.  For her sake, I wish it would just be over.  I don't think anyone realized it was going to be this long of an ordeal, and it's tough to see someone's passing be drawn out like this.

I don't know the full history of this case other than the "he said, she said" stuff that goes on in the media.  But I am *really* tired of both sides (particularly the parents) using the media to try and manipulate public opinion with grossly outrageous statements.  Like the family spokesperson who said the other day that Terri's survival to date was proof that she wants to honor the subpoena issued by Congress and should be allowed to live.  So even in a vegetative state or minimal state of consciousness, she's up on the current news?  I have a hard time buying that.

Or the now famous "Ah...  WA..." utterance proclaimed by the parents to be proof that she was trying to communication "I want to live".  Even assuming it was a coherent attempt at speech, "I want" is open-ended and the parents are reading into it whatever their emotions want to believe.

And now we have Jesse Jackson jumping into the fray to demand Terri's rights.  Please.....

How often does this go on every day and nobody but the immediate family is involved?  Why does everyone want to get some political mileage out of this?  Can't we please go along with over 25 court rulings that have sided with the husband's version of the story that Terri didn't want to live like this (for around 15 years now)?

03/29/2005

Looking for a class browser for LotusScript? Check out the Teamstudio site on Wednesday...

Category Everything Else


I had the pleasure to get an early peek at a new tool about to be released by Teamstudio.  It's a LotusScript class browser that is to be called Script Browser, and it's set to be released on their site on Wednesday.


Oh, the price?  Free...


The lack of plans to integrate in a class browser to Designer was one of the biggest disappointments for many at Lotusphere this year.  Teamstudio has stepped into that gap and came up with a very nice tool to meet those needs.  


http://www.teamstudio.com/ScriptBrowser

03/29/2005

Potential Notes job opportunity in Portland, Oregon...

Category Everything Else
Are you in the Portland, Oregon area or have you always wanted to move here but needed to have a job lined up first?  I am aware of an organization (not the one that I work for) that is looking to contract a Notes developer for some upcoming work.  The focus is primarily on the Notes client, but I'm sure that solid web development skills in addition to that won't be frowned upon.  Proximity to this location is important, so offers to work remotely won't work too well in this situation.
 
If you're interested, send me an email at twduff using my yahoo mail account (you should be able to figure out how to do that!) along with your resume.  I'll pass it along to the firm and let them get in touch with you based on their interest.
 
(Just in case anyone is wondering...  I have nothing to do with this position.  I'm not getting any sort of referral fee, nor am I starting a sideline as an IT recruiter.  This is strictly being done as a favor for someone, and I have no stake in the outcome.)

03/28/2005

Too freaking cool... VMWare!

Category Software Development

One of my reasons for buying a large desktop machine (250 GB hard drive, 2 GB RAM) was to be able to have a decent machine to dual-boot for Linux and WinXP.  When I asked for feedback on my blog about this, the recommendation was unanimous...  get VMWare.  

My blogging buddy, Dave Taylor, emailed me and got me in contact with someone at the company.  I was able to get a comp copy of the software and just got it installed this evening.  And my initial reaction is....  SWEET!

It installed with no problem.  A little on the long side, but that's because I said to set up the 75 GB area on the hard drive up front for my Fedora Core 3 virtual machine.  Once that was done, I started the virtual machine and installed Linux.  All without touching the user's manual, and it all works.  :-)

I'm sure I have quite a bit to learn about VMWare (and of course about Linux), but so far I'm really impressed.  I plan on putting it through the paces and then doing a writeup in a future e-ProWire newsletter...

Thanks to everyone for getting me to go down this path, and thanks Dave for hooking me up.  Greatly appreciated!

03/28/2005

Book Review - Too Far by Mike Lupica

Category Book Reviews

Mike Lupica writes a mean sports novel.  His latest, Too Far, is no exception...

A "retired" sportswriter, Ben Mitchell,  is trying to figure out what he wants to do after quitting his job over someone killing himself over a story.  While he's killing time in the small town he came from, a high school reporter, Sam Perry, introduces himself and asks for advice on how to proceed on a story where he has information no one else has.  The manager of the small town high school basketball team has turned up dead from a beating.  It looks to be related somehow to a hazing incident during a team camp.  When another player on the team and friend of Perry also shows "injuries" that might be part of the hazing, things start heating up.  Mitchell starts coaching Perry on how to handle the story, but soon it evolves into an effort to keep Perry, his mom, and himself from getting severely beaten or even killed.  Since the team is arguably the best high school team in the country, no one wants to rock the boat or expose anything that might be wrong.  Mitchell and Perry have to decide how important it is to tell the story and uncover the truth, no matter how unsavory it might be...

This is not a novel for the squeamish.  Lupica deals with the issue of hazing, or team initiation events that go far beyond playful pranks.  In this case, sexual abuse is the problem, and the kids who were abused have to live with what happened as well as knowing that everyone else knows what happened.  Add the pressure and threats to keep it quiet, and you start to understand the anguish involved on the part of the kids.  You also come to understand the pressures involved by a reporter when they have to choose between the easy path of ignoring a story (sometimes for their own safety) or the harder route of exposing the truth regardless of the personal cost.  Lupica does a great job in telling a well-written story with real issues faced in today's society.  

If you're not easily offended by difficult subjects, this is an excellent read...

03/26/2005

Book Review - The Flaming Luau of Death by Jerrilyn Farmer

Category Book Reviews

The latest Madeline Bean novel arrived this week, and I've already finished it...  The Flaming Luau of Death by Jerrilyn Farmer.  Another outstanding installment in the amateur sleuth series...

Madeline Bean, a professional caterer, decides to throw a major party for her assistant who is getting married.  So she books a party of eight over to Hawaii to put on a "killer" bachlorette weekend.  But things start going downhill before they even leave.  The assistant, Holly Nichols, tells Bean that she apparently is already married due to a prom night Las Vegas quickie that was never annulled.  Furthermore, the husband disappeared to college almost immediately and hasn't been seen since.  Now Holly is getting threatening emails from someone wanting to know where he is, and isn't content to take "I don't know" for an answer.  Once over on the island, the threats don't go away, a dead body shows up on the beach of their private luau, and Bean is mistaken for Holly, placing her in a life-threatening situation.  Add in a couple of major plot twists, shake well, and see what you get...

Farmer is not as popular or well-known as someone like Evanovich or Grafton, but in my opinion she should be.  She does a great job with the female amateur sleuth genre, and Madeline Bean is a very likable and believable character.  The plotlines and pacing are perfect, and you're never quite sure what the next twist is going to be.  Add in her own "on-again, off-again" love interest, and Bean is an actual personality who continues to grow and evolve with each new novel.

If you haven't tried out any of the books in the series, you're in for a treat.  Go back, start at the beginning, and enjoy.  I promise you you'll still be interested when you get to this one.  And if you're an on-going fan of Mad, you won't be disappointed.  Farmer's still at the top of her game here.

03/26/2005

Book Review - Bad Cat by James Edgar

Category Book Reviews

OK...  This isn't so much of a "reading" book review as it is a review of a book that is laugh-out-loud funny...  Bad Cat by James Edgar.

This is a small book (in size, not necessarily in pages) that show pictures (244 of them) of cats in humorous or outrageous poses.  Edgar adds captions to them that take the book from "that's funny" to "you've GOT to see this!".  These are not your typical cute cat pictures you'd see in some calendar or coffee table book.  No, these are photos like...

A guilty-looking cat next to a naked Barbie doll with the caption "She was naked when I came in."

A disgusted cat stretched out on the piano keyboard - "I told you -- nobody wants to hear Billy Joel."

The cat laying next to what looks like a dead squirrel - "I think the play date's over..."

Yes, I have a warped sense of humor...  

This is one of those books that will take you about 15 minutes to read, but you'll probably laugh more in that 15 minutes than you have all day.  If you easily offended by semi-off-color humor or if you're a cat lover who can't take a joke, then you'll probably alternate between "that's funny" and "that's cruel".  But if you don't fall into either of those two categories, this is time well spent to have a little fun...

03/23/2005

Book Review - Black Wind by Clive Cussler and Dirk Cussler

Category Book Reviews

It's usually a time of anticipation when I get a new Clive Cussler novel.  Even more so since it's been awhile since I had a good recreational read.  I recently got Clive and Dirk Cussler's latest work, Black Wind from the library.  And for the first time in quite awhile, I've actually had fun reading again.

Dirk Pitt (the father) hands over the reins of the story line to his son (Dirk Pitt "Jr?") and his daughter Summer.  Dirk and Summer are called on to investigate a biological weapons find that dates back to the end of World War II and the Japanese military.  The plan was to launch a biochemical attack against the United States from submarine-launched planes, but the subs are sunk before the attack can occur.  But unbeknownst to the Pitts, they aren't the only group looking to recover the chemicals.  A terrorist group with a definite agenda wants to complete the attack against the United States in order to help bring about their ultimate goals.  And as with all Dirk Pitt novels (like father, like son), there are a number of life and death situations with miracle escapes and unexpected plot twists.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm probably biased towards giving this book a high rating.  I've read far too much technical nonfiction material this year, and the few fiction titles I've had ended up being duds.  Cussler, working with his son on this book, delivers another very good Dirk Pitt novel while introducing two new characters into leading positions (the son and daughter).  While the interplay between the father and his good friend Giordino was sorely missed (but they both make an appearance here), I think Cussler's given himself some new material to play with.  In reality, the difference between father and son are almost nonexistent.  It's hard to remember that it's a different Dirk in the story.  But really, it didn't make any difference to me.  I enjoyed the read and I look forward to the next Cussler collaboration.

03/22/2005

Bonds done for season? I think he's done for good...

Category Everything Else

Barry Bonds underwent knee surgery in the off-season to repair some damage, and then "reinjured" it when he accidently hit it against a table or something.  The MRI showed more tears, so he went back in for a second operation.  Now he's telling the press he may be out until mid-season or perhaps for the entire season.

 

If you ask me, I think you've seen the last home run by Barry Bonds.  I think he's done, and will announce his retirement before he ever plays another game.

 

Let's face it...  He's taken steroids, either knowingly or (wink, wink) unknowningly.  The public image of baseball has taken a beating over the last year with all the steroid talk, the congressional hearings, etc.  As he approaches the most revered record in baseball, there's no way he'll be able to get the record without the stigma of having "cheated" his way to the top.  So, given the current climate in baseball, how can he salvage his reputation in the public eye, assuming he even cares?

 

Quit now.  Claim a permanent injury, claim old age, leave everyone wondering "what could have been" by walking away from the game while you're third on the list of all-time homers.  Everyone knows if you played one more season, you'd eclipse Ruth.  Two more, and you'd probably knock off Aaron.  But just as Aaron never really got the respect that Ruth had, Bonds will probably never get the respect that Ruth OR Aaron ended up with...   Too much controversy.

 

So remember...  you read it here first...  Bonds is done with baseball.

03/21/2005

Book Review - The Rising by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

Category Book Reviews

I've read and enjoyed the entire Left Behind series, and I was somewhat surprised the other day to find there was a new title out...  It's The Rising - Antichrist Is Born by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.  This is a prequel to the first Left Behind title.  While it's an OK read, I don't think it did much for the series...

Basically, the story goes back to the series of events that led to Nicolae Carpathia's birth as well as Rayford Steele's upbringing.  You find out about the supernatural/demonic influence on Carpathia's birth and education and the struggle of his mother (the "vessel") to come to grips with all the bizarre stuff going on.  Rayford's story is about his desire to be a pilot, his lackluster Christian upbringing, and his relationship and eventual marriage to Irene.

If this book had been part and parcel of the first volume, I'd have really liked it.  The story and writing really isn't all that bad.  But I just don't think that the insight into Steele and Carpathia was worth it after reading through the entire series.  It didn't (in my opinion) shed any new light on the characters (especially in the case of Steele), and to write this book after the entire series is done seems to make little sense.

If you can pick it up at the library and you're a fan of the Left Behind series, it's probably worth reading if you have the time.  But don't go out of your way to do so...

03/21/2005

Readjusting my view of my visibility...

Category Microsoft

Everyone blogs for reasons that make sense to them...  And unless you're an "A-List" blogger, you pretty much figure that you have a smaller confined audience that makes you known to about 3 - 25 people who happen to share the same interests...

Until you realize you're on radar screens that you didn't know about...  like when you get a personal invite to the "Optimizing Collaboration and Communication with Microsoft Technologies" seminars from someone who is closely tied into the events, and from someone who you've never conversed or traded emails with before...  :-)

03/19/2005

Book Review - The Only Guide To A Winning Investment Strategy You'll Ever Need by Larry E. Swedroe

Category Book Reviews

It's a shame to think of how much money I've lost "investing" in the stock market over the years.  I wish I had read the book The Only Guide To A Winning Investment Strategy You'll Ever Need by Larry E. Swedroe about six years ago...

Chapter List:  Why Individual Investors Play the Loser's Game; Active Portfolio Management Is a Loser's Game; Efficient Markets I - Information and Cost; Efficient Markets II - Risk; The Five-Factor Model; Volatility, Return, and Risk; Six Steps to a Diversified Portfolio - Using Modern Portfolio Theory; How to Build a Model Portfolio; Index Funds, Passive Asset Class Funds, and ETFs; The Care and Maintenance of the Portfolio; Implementing the Winning Strategy; Summary; Appendices; Notes; Glossary; Recommended Reading; Acknowledgments; Index

The main thrust of this book is how to use a passive approach to investing to consistently get market or above-market rates of return.  Swedroe makes an extremely strong case for the use of index funds as the primary investment tool.  He does this by comparing the average performance of actively managed funds, and shows statistically that in nearly all cases, it's impossible to consistently beat the market.  If you look at selected years, it's possible to "beat" the market, but over the long run the passive approach will always win.  And when you figure in the tax advantages and the administration costs of a churned fund, the gap between active and passive fund management is even greater.

If you are an investor, it's worth reading...  Even if you don't agree, it will give you some food for thought.

03/19/2005

Book Review - Firefox Hacks by Nigel McFarlane

Category Book Reviews

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you've heard about the Firefox browser and how powerful it is.  But how do you learn to harness all that power and make it work for you?  Get a copy of Firefox Hacks by Nigel McFarlane (O'Reilly).  It's the technical manual that doesn't come with the download...

Chapter List:  Firefox Basics; Security; Installation; Web Surfing Enhancements; Power Tools for Web Developers; Power XML for Web Pages; Hack the Chrome Ugly; Hack the Chrome Cleanly; Work More Closely with Firefox; Index

The Hacks series from O'Reilly takes the particular subject matter (in this case, Firefox) and explores 100 tips, tricks, and "hacks" that allow you to do cool things with the software.  Firefox Hacks follows the same format, but it seems to transcend the semi-randomness of other Hacks books and moves towards a solid reference manual for power users, web developers, and techno-geeks.  And that's a *good* thing...

Because Firefox is open-source, there's a focus on making sure that the user can tweak and change things to suit their needs.  McFarlane does a very good job explaining the general structure of Firefox and how it configures itself.  Knowing these basics, the typical power user can do an incredible amount of customization with the about:config URL command.  That part of the book could be worth the price alone.  But we're not done.  Under Web Surfing Enhancements, the author starts going into a number of the extensions that can be downloaded and added to Firefox to add to the base functionality of the browser.  Want to completely change the way the tabbed browsing works?  #34 - Modify Tabbed Browsing.  Do you live to search the web?  #36 - Get More Search Tools.  Just want to waste time?  #43 - Waste Time with Toys and Games...

The parts I found very useful were the chapters on Power Tools and Power XML.  These chapters will help you utilize the built-in tools and extensions that can make your web coding incredibly easy.  There are validators as well as debuggers that far surpass anything available in the "other browser choice" used by so many.  And given the closer adherence to standards, you'll end up with pages that are far cleaner than you can otherwise produce.

If you've made the move to Firefox and want to start learning how to get the most out of it, get this book.  If you're a power user, you'll find a lot to like in it.  If you're a web developer, you absolutely need it.

03/17/2005

Call to action for ISPs - Don't deliver phishing emails!

Category Everything Else

It used to be that I received a phishing email from a "bank" or eBay once every week or so.  Now I receive three or four a day, both in my Yahoo and gmail accounts.  Heck, I even get some in my mail account for the consulting firm I used to work for...

Now, Yahoo and gmail seem to be adept at figuring out that these emails are frauds, as they get routed to my spam and junk mail folders.  And there's no possible way that I'm going to respond to any unsolicited email from a bank or eBay asking for account information.  But there are apparently far too many people who don't understand the concept of identity fraud.

So...  rather than try to warn people about this problem, let's just take the logical step...  DON'T DELIVER THEM!  If the ISP can determine that they are spam and phishing attempts, just drop them.  I realize that this might be a slippery slope to start down...  Today they are phishing attempts.  Tomorrow they are emails from "hate groups".  Then they are emails from groups that don't support the government...  etc.  

But let's get real...  The phishing problem isn't going away.  Gramma and Grampa Jones aren't going to figure out that a "bank" they don't even use wants their information for identity theft.  Act in the best interest of the public and stop abetting felonious activity.

If it smells like phish, stop it at the borders...  toss it out, stop it cold, don't even let us see it.  

Gramma and Grampa will thank you.

03/16/2005

Book Review - Understanding SOA with Web Services

Category Book Reviews

While it's pretty easy to understand the basic concept of web services, it's a bit harder to put it into the full Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) framework.  Eric Newcomer and Greg Lomow do a good job of sorting things out in the book Understanding SOA with Web Services (Addison-Wesley).

Chapter List: Introduction to SOA with Web Services; Overview of Service-Oriented Architecture; SOA and Web Services; SOA and Web Services for Integration; SOA and Multi-Channel Access; SOA and Business Process Management; Metadata Management; Web Services Security; Advanced Messaging; Transaction Processing; Bibliography; Index


Now, what this book *isn't* is a detailed reference manual on web services and how they work.  There are plenty of other reference sources for that.  This book is more along the lines of a very good architectural treatment of web services, something that would be appropriate for a technology architect in an organization.  The material shows not only what web services are, but how to build an environment of applications that are based on calling those services to get things done.  If you follow their advice closely, you'll find that application development can start to resemble a Lego-type structure.  You build applications by stringing together existing business processes that are encapsulated as web services.  They also cover many of the up and coming web services standards that are slowly winding their way through committee, such as WS-Trust, WS-Federation, and a multitude of other similarly named standards.  By the time you get done, you should have a pretty thorough understanding of the strong and weak points of web services, and how best to implement them in your environment.


If web services are important to your organization (and they probably should be), this is a good book to read...

03/16/2005

Time to take it easy for awhile...

Category Everything Else

I've been asked on more than one occasion how I get everything done, do I sleep, am I cloned, etc....  The answer is, I'm really lazier than you'd think, and there's a wall somewhere out there that I'll hit one day as far as taking on new stuff.

And even though I haven't made contact with the wall, I'm close enough to read the writing on it.

I've been prepping for presentations (Lotusphere and today's webcast, plus two user group meetings) since about October of last year.  There's also the monthly e-Pro newsletter stuff that I have deadlines on.  Book reviews, emails, yada, yada, yada...  And I don't feel like I've done as well as I could have because I've had too many irons in the fire.

So, now that I've finished the webcast, I plan on "relaxing".  No more speaking prep for awhile.  Just having the newsletter to focus on will seem like a vacation.  I can blog about things that come up instead of putting it off until the weekend, and then finding I don't remember why I thought it was relevant in the first place.  I can read some novels I just got at the library and not feel guilty.  

And I won't be spending every evening online as I fight to keep up.

sigh...

Yeah...  this feels nice.  :-)

03/16/2005

From an e-Pro webcast listener: Can shared columns be categorized?

Category e-Pro

Earline asked a question during the webcast that I didn't know the answer to...  Can shared columns in ND7 be categorized?

The answer is yes.  When you bring in the shared column to your view, just mark it as formula only.  Don't bring over the formatting on the shared column.  That will allow you access to all the column formatting settings, including the one that controls sorting and categorization.

03/16/2005

The e-Pro webcast files for Domino 7 Preview Development Features

Category e-Pro

I gave my webcast for e-Pro today titled Domino 7 Preview Development Features.  Thanks to all that dropped in.  We appreciate it.

Here are the files associated with the webcast if you're interested in downloading them...

The presentation: Domino7PreviewDevelopmentFeatures20050315.pdf

The Notes database: ND7DevFeatures.zip

03/13/2005

One less reason to open Microsoft Access... My reading log is now in Notes.

Category IBM/Lotus

About the only reason I use Microsoft Access any more is to keep my reading log updated.  That's the database I've had for over nine years that lists the books I've read.  I originally built it back in 1996 as a training exercise to help me learn PC software (I was just coming out of the mainframe world), and it's pretty much just moved from Access version to Access version each time I upgraded.

I figured it was about time to convert the database over to a tool that's much easier for me to modify and tweak...  Notes!  :-)  A quick LotusScript agent allowed me to move over all the data using ODBC.  I added some views to give me the type of reporting I wanted, and I was good to go.  It also gave me an opportunity to fix a data design problem I made on the original database.  My Author field was a single value, which really messed things up when there were multiple authors for a book.  In Notes, I just made it a multi-value field, updated the records affected, and now I have the design I need for proper lists by author.

Notes is such a great tool to work with.  :-)

03/12/2005

The family quote of the day...

Category Humor

Ian took off to work at 6:30 this morning, and apparently had plans to go visit his friend in Eugene overnight (a couple hours away).  My wife was less than happy that he was going to be heading down there without anyone else going with him (because of his diabetes), and apparently tried to talk him out of it without success.  As she was standing at the top of the stairs telling me about this unfortunate series of events, we got the quote that summed it all up perfectly for her...

"It SUCKS when they turn 18!"

03/11/2005

Book Review - The Art of Computer Virus Research and Defense by Peter Szor

Category Book Reviews

For anyone interested in how computer viruses work from a technical perspective, as well as how anti-virus programs defend against them, you have to get a copy of The Art of Computer Virus Research and Defense by Peter Szor.  There is no book out there that approaches it.

Chapter List:  
Part 1 - Strategies of the Attacker: Introduction to the Games of Nature; The Fascination of Malicious Code Analysis; Malicious Code Environments; Classification of Infection Strategies; Classification of In-Memory Strategies; Basic Self-Protection Strategies; Advanced Code Evolution Techniques and Computer Virus Generator Kits; Classification According to Payload; Strategies of Computer Worms; Exploits, Vulnerabilities, and Buffer Overflow Attacks
Part 2 - Strategies of the Defender: Antivirus Defense Techniques; Memory Scanning and Disinfection; Worm-Blocking Techniques and Host-Based Intrusion Prevention; Network-Level Defense Strategies; Malicious Code Analysis Techniques; Conclusion; Index

Szor is a chief researcher with Symantec, and he's been involved in the field of virus research for over 15 years.  This is what he lives and breathes.  In this book, you'll get a history lesson of how viruses have evolved from their early days as DOS programs up through the latest attacks plaguing us today.  But instead of just a narrative of how viruses work, he goes in depth with technical details involving interrupts and intercepts, how viruses hide in files, and so much more.  Once you have the entire picture of how virus code works, he switches to the topic of defense.  You quickly realize that the people who write code to fight viruses are quite incredible.  There are so many obstacles they are up against, it's amazing that they can do such a great job at the task.

When you're done with this book, you'll have all the tools you need in order to start fighting the virus battle yourself.  Even if you're not interested in the technical details, you'll still come away with a much greater appreciation of what it takes to fight the ongoing war to keep your computer up and running without infection.  This is a must-read book for anyone interested in the topic matter...

03/11/2005

Gartner weighs in on MS/Groove

Category Microsoft

Microsoft Pursues Future of Work Vision with Groove Deal

The thing I like about Gartner write-ups is their probability factors on certain scenarios.

Microsoft might be buying Groove to block IBM from buying it. The company may intend to dissolve Groove's technology into its own products (0.3 probability). Gartner believes, however, that Microsoft will leverage Groove's unique market visibility and technology experience to make Groove a prominent part of its collaboration offering (0.5 probability). The prospects for Groove technology are at least as good, and probably better, with this acquisition than if Groove remained independent.

The deal's challenges include:

  • Reconciling Groove's peer-to-peer architecture with SharePoint Portal and Windows architecture
  • Determining how or whether to continue supporting the current Windows SharePoint Services shared workspaces
  • Bringing Microsoft's disjointed collaboration products into a more cohesive workplace offering
Recommendations:
  • Microsoft customers: Seek a clearer road map before you make strategic buying decisions.
  • IT organizations: Take this opportunity to become trusted advisors for your users, or risk being viewed as roadblocks.

So...  as pointed out in many other articles and analysis pieces, Microsoft sacrificed their short term vision and story (whatever it was this week) for something that might pan out better in the future.  I'd personally hate to be a Microsoft sales person trying to answer questions about the viability of software I just sold last week...

03/11/2005

And another take from ZDNet along the lines of what I'm thinking...

Category Microsoft

Microsoft's Groove Move Makes Solid Sense

Microsoft's backing will ease fears while injecting some much-needed pizzazz into the Office line-up, which is currently getting ever flabbier as it waits for Longhorn to give it somewhere new to go.

Making the deal work needs more than a cheque and a new email address for Ozzie, though. Microsoft has a history of buying companies for their technology and staff, only for both to fade from view. Company insiders blame cultural and political battles for this, as well as the magnitude of the task of innovating within a management-heavy framework dedicated to perpetuating monolithic compatibility with the largest user base on the planet. Ozzie's position as one of three chief technical officers both underlines this and shows how serious Gates is about trying to change it. On the one hand, three chiefs is two too many: on the other, that might be the price Ozzie needed to extract in order to protect his team and ensure top-level patronage.

This is why I'm more in the mode of "time will tell" on this whole acquisition...

03/11/2005

Interesting take on the MS/Groove arrangement over on the Ferris Research Weblog

Category Microsoft

Microsoft Aquires Groove

The cynical view would be that this is just Microsoft's latest course change in collaboration technology. Last year's message to build collaboration on top of Sharepoint looks like it is at risk now.  Groove offers a better forms architecture and an off-line solution. The next several years will likely see these products share feature sets, if not merge altogether. That could be an uncertain time for application developers make the best near-term architectural choices.

There was a lot of discussion in the Microsoft Q&A about how Groove fits with Office, Sharepoint and other technologies.  However there was no discussion whatsoever about how it fits with Exchange.  The obvious conclusion is that - in line with what Microsoft has been implying for the last several years, if not saying outright, - is that Exchange's only role in Microsoft's collaboration vision is to move the mail around.

Just keep throwing things at the wall...  I'm sure *something* will stick at some point in time.

03/11/2005

Request from a reader...

Category Everything Else

I got an email from a reader yesterday asking if I knew of any way to get a Lotusphere backpack from LS 2005.  I'm not parting with mine because I love that thing!  But if you have any ideas (websites that sell them, willing to part with yours, etc.), she'd be happy to hear from you...

Contact Kelly Keesee at mkeesee [AT] ccrtc.com.

We now return to your regularly scheduled blogging...

03/10/2005

Book Review - C++ Primer (4th Edition)

Category Book Reviews

I really need to learn C++ some day, and I received a review copy of C++ Primer (4th Edition) by Stanley B. Lippman, Josee Lajoie, and Barbara E. Moo.  If you're comfortable with lots of text, plenty of detail, and a more academic style of learning, this appears to be a good choice...

Chapter List:
Preface; Getting Started
Part 1 - The Basics: Variables and Basic Types; Library Types; Arrays and Pointers; Expressions; Statements; Functions; The IO Library
Part 2 - Containers and Algorithms: Sequential Containers; Associative Containers; Generic Algorithms;
Part 3 - Classes and Data Abstractions: Classes; Copy Control; Overloaded Operations and Conversions
Part 4 - Object-Oriented and Generic Programming: Object-Oriented Programming; Templates and Generic Programming
Part 5 - Advanced Topics: Tools for Large Programs; Specialized Tools and Techniques; The Library; Index

As you can probably tell, this book covers quite an array (no pun intended) of topics related to learning C++.  And knowing that it's now in its 4th edition, it has a track record that is solid enough to allocate resources for both the publisher and authors to keep it updated and fresh.  In the tech book world, two editions of a book is commendable.  Four is not often seen, so you can trust that the others who have gone before you have fared well.

Each chapter is sprinkled with exercises to drive home the material being covered, as well as a summary and glossary of new terms at the end of each chapter.  In many ways, it reminds me of a textbook approach to learning a new language or technology.  I can imagine the teacher lecturing from chapter 4 and then assigning exercises 2, 4, and 5.  Unlike books that assume little programming background, this volume doesn't try and step you through setting up an IDE or anything.  It covers C++...  you need to get the IDE set up on your own.  Don't assume much in the way of handholding.

To me, this would be a good "geek-level" book if you wanted to learn the language.  No fluff, no laughs, just learning.  Probably best for someone who already has a background with technology.  If you're more in the camp of C++ being your first language to learn (you're braver than I am!), this might be too much and too hardcore.

Of course, your mileage may vary...

03/10/2005

Book Review - The 8th Habit by Stephen R. Covey

Category Book Reviews

Since Covey's prior book (The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People) was such an impactful book, I decided it was necessary to read The 8th Habit - From Effectiveness to Greatness.  While it does have valuable information to convey, it's much harder to get there.

The overriding theme of the 8th habit is to find our voice and inspire others to find theirs.  This has to do with leadership, modeling, pathfinding, empowering, and all those other concepts that you know are important but that seem to get lost in the day to day living of life.  The thing that worked so well for 7 Habits is that each concept (or chapter) was easy to understand, it was easy to place it in context with the other habits, and you could easily decide what you needed to do to implement the concept.  The 8th Habit is much more complex, and it's a system/philosophy/set of habits all to itself.  While it's easy to grasp and comprehend the idea behind being a trim-tab spirit in your organization, it's a bit more difficult trying to see the practical application of Circle Of Knowledge/Ignorance by the time you get to the end.

I'd only recommend this book to people who are serious about leading and assisting others, and only for those who are willing to take the book in small chunks, trying hard to learn it as you go.  If you try and read the book through in a session or two, you'll come away with a few good tips, but nothing close to what Covey intended you to take away.  It's not a bad book...  it's just not nearly as intuitive as 7 Habits was...

03/10/2005

So *why* do I review on Amazon?

Category Book Reviews

As a follow-up to yesterday's *what* related to Amazon reviewing, I now offer my *why*...

On the Amazon discussion boards, the question is often posed as to why people write reviews for a corporate entity.  The reviews benefit that entity but entail no monetary reimbursement.  Everyone has their reasons...  For me, it's mutually beneficial.  Amazon and the authors/publishers get "buzz", and I get better at writing (and I get free books!)...


I've always been a heavy reader.  I started an Access-based reading database back in 1996 as a project to teach myself the tool.  Over nine years and 1324 books later, every book I've read is listed in there.  That's how come I can tell you my lightest year of reading was 103 books in 1996 and the heaviest was last year at 182 (I'm a sick puppy...)  I started to get into the habit of jotting down notes about the book to remind myself of the plot.  But Amazon wasn't even a blip on the radar then.


In about 2003 or so, I learned of the O'Reilly User Group program and their book review offer.  You request a book, write the review, post it to your user group website, and keep the book.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  I quickly formed a close relationship with Marsee there at O'Reilly, and they started asking me if they could send me more books.  The blog was getting started by then, so I started posting both to the user group website and my blog, with the blog traffic being the more significant of the two.  Still feeling like I was getting the better end of the deal, I also started posting the reviews to Amazon.  And the rest, they say, is history...


When I started to review on Amazon and watch my ranking, I think I debuted around 25000 or so.  That would have been late 2003.  My goal was to get into the top 1000 by the end of 2004.  I ended up in the top 500.  This year, I wanted to end up around 250, but I'm already at 269.  Breaking 200 is probably more realistic.  So what's the payback?


I have relationships with most all the major tech publishers to get review copies of books.  For a book junkie like me, this is nirvana.  I have been able to influence sales traffic on Amazon with books I really feel strongly about (like Head First Java).  When an author credits you with that type of influence, it feels really good.  That's their livelihood!  I have "virtual friendships" with a number of authors, like
Dave Taylor and Kathy Sierra.  Once again, a very cool thing.  And now that I'm in the upper rankings, I often get email requests from authors (both tech and fiction) asking if they can send me a review copy of their book.  Of course!  Getting emails from notable mainstream authors thanking you for your Amazon review always perks up my day.  And it still blows me away that O'Reilly gave Joe and I three *cases* of books to give away at our Lotusphere session this year.  Shipped them directly to the Dolphin weeks ahead of time.  I keep thinking there's an invoice floating around somewhere that's going to come due one day.

I'd like to think my writing has improved, and I know more about some areas of technology than I would have otherwise.  The drawback that I have to fight is that I know a lot *about* certain things, but I end up not having enough time to really delve into them to really *know* them.  


So...  That's why I review on Amazon.  I'm forever amazed that people make decisions on books based on my opinion.  But Amazon gets valuable feedback that draws people to their site.  Publishers and authors are able to get input on their titles that might help someone else buy a book.  I learn a great deal in the process, and become a better technologist and writer because of it.


Oh yeah...  and I'm surrounded by BOOKS!

03/10/2005

Guess this answers the question of Ray Ozzie coming back to IBM...

Category Microsoft

That would be "no".

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2005/mar05/03-10GroovePR.asp

Microsoft to Acquire Groove Networks, Combining Talents to Create Anytime, Anywhere Collaboration Products and Services

Groove Founder Ray Ozzie Will Join Microsoft as New CTO

BEVERLY, Mass. -- March 10, 2005-- Microsoft Corp. announced today that it will acquire Groove Networks Inc., a leading provider of collaboration software for the "virtual office." The deal unites two top innovators of technology that help geographically distributed workgroups be as productive as those that work in a single physical location. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

The addition of Groove products to the lineup of Microsoft® Office System products, servers and services builds on the capabilities of Microsoft's current collaboration products, allowing Microsoft to better meet the needs of organizations of all sizes that increasingly are creating borderless project teams comprising employees, customers, partners, suppliers, contractors and others.

"The acquisition of Groove complements Microsoft's collaboration offerings to include real-time, server-based and peer-to-peer solutions that address the ever-changing and more-complex work environment," said Jeff Raikes, group vice president of Microsoft's Information Worker Group. "Together, Microsoft and Groove will make anytime, anywhere collaboration a more natural and easy extension of how information workers coordinate their projects and document-centric work."

The acquisition also brings to Microsoft the development talent and technology leadership of top Groove executives, including founder Ray Ozzie, a creator of IBM Corp.'s Lotus Notes. Ozzie will assume the role of chief technical officer, reporting to Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, chairman and chief software architect, with responsibility for influencing corporatewide communication and collaboration offerings and associated platform infrastructure. Ozzie also will continue his work with the Groove team, which will be part of Microsoft's Information Worker Group.

"Ray and his team are true innovators. Microsoft and its customers will greatly benefit from their experience," Gates said. "After working with Ray for years as a close partner, it will be great to have him on our senior leadership team."

"We developed Groove's highly security-enhanced virtual office technology to help businesses and individuals -- wherever they are, whenever they work -- overcome the challenges presented by today's increasingly decentralized work environment," Ozzie said. "By joining forces with Microsoft, we can more effectively address the needs of information workers for collaboration solutions that 'just work' across organizational, geographic and network boundaries."

As a Windows® desktop-based collaboration offering, Groove's Virtual Office complements Microsoft's collaboration solution offerings, which include the following:

  • Real-time collaboration solutions such as Microsoft Office Live Meeting 2005 and Microsoft Office Live Communications Server that enable in-the-moment one-to-one and one-to-many collaboration
  • Server-based collaboration solutions such as Microsoft Office SharePoint® Portal Server and Windows SharePoint Services that allow businesses to create and manage collaborative work spaces online or on a company's internal IT system
  • Peer-to-peer collaboration solutions through Groove's Virtual Office, which let any Windows-based PC user instantly create ad hoc, virtual work spaces that securely and easily span organizational, geographic and network boundaries, and allow information workers to be productive whether they're online or temporarily disconnected from the network.

Founded in 1997, Groove has worked closely with Microsoft for nearly five years. After the deal is completed, the nearly 200-person Groove organization will continue to operate from its Beverly, Mass., headquarters as part of Microsoft's Information Worker Group.

The acquisition is expected to be complete in the second quarter of 2005. Microsoft and Groove plan to provide customers and third-party partners with uninterrupted product and service offerings. Groove will continue to operate as a separate company until regulatory requirements have been met and the acquisition is finalized.

At 11:30 a.m. EST today, Microsoft and Groove will hold a teleconference to discuss the acquisition. To participate, U.S. residents can dial (888) 368-4276, and those outside the United States can dial +1 (706) 679-5613. The call will be available for playback through March 19 at 11:59 p.m. EST. To access the playback beginning at 1:30 p.m. EST today, U.S. residents can dial (800) 642-1687, and those outside the United States can dial +1 (706) 645-9291, and ask for the Microsoft/Groove teleconference.

About Groove Networks

Founded in October 1997 and headquartered in Beverly, Mass., Groove Networks Inc. delivers the "virtual office" through software that allows teams of people to work together over a network as if they were in the same physical location. Groove software helps organizations, large and small, save money, time and eliminate travel by offering both a desktop application for instant joint work, and a set of customizable, open collaboration capabilities that enhance the utility and value of existing solutions. For more information about Groove Networks, visit http://www.groove.net. A free trial edition of Groove Virtual Office is available at http://www.groove.net/download.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Microsoft, Windows and SharePoint are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Groove Networks and Groove are registered trademarks of Groove Networks Inc.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners

03/10/2005

Why I hate Runtbert's code...

Category Software Development

:-)

As many of you know, I took over Joe Litton's  job when he went to Florida to become a little old person.  Wait...  He's already got all three of those conditions nailed...  But I digress...

Seriously, Joe's code is really easy to maintain.  I haven't run into hardly any issues that I couldn't quickly figure out based on how he codes and what I expect from him.  But there's one technique that we disagree on, and that's stringing together a number of methods to return a single value.  I hate it, and he loves it.

Case in point...

Set docPhone = dbPhoneBk.GetView("(By Employee Number").GetDocumentByKey(strReturnEmpID, True)
  If docPhone Is Nothing Then Goto Done

Joe thinks that is really cool.  I think it sucks.  And today I can tell you why.  I was debugging an app that was having an issue.  This code (written by Joe) was not returning a docPhone object, even though I knew the lookup value was in there.  The real problem wasn't that there was no docPhone object, but that the GetView wasn't returning a view object because we were missing a paren in the hidden view name.  The code should have read:

Set docPhone = dbPhoneBk.GetView("(By Employee Number)").GetDocumentByKey(strReturnEmpID, True)
  If docPhone Is Nothing Then Goto Done

So instead of seeing the view object set to nothing, I was only seeing the doc object set to nothing, which effectively masked the problem.  I would have coded the GetView as a separate line, returning a NotesView object.  I then would have done the GetDocumentByKey as a separate statement.

I'm sure Runtbert will have some witty comeback and excuse as to why this is my fault.  But basically, I'll get to trash him here at work for a few days, and he won't be here to defend himself.  :-)

03/09/2005

So what's this "Amazon Reviewer Ranking" thing?

Category Book Reviews

The question comes up occasionally...  "So why are you an 'Amazon Reviewer', and what does the ranking mean?"

Basically, you can submit reviews of anything that Amazon sells, and people can vote on whether your review was helpful or not.  Here's my review page as of today...

http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A3R19YKNL641X3/002-1251613-9388853

I'm ranked at 270, I have 412 reviews to my name, and I've had 2183 helpful votes.

At the bottom of each review for an item, there a "yes"/"no" button in order for the reader to rank if the review was helpful or not.  Based on those helpful votes, you get ranking points.  Amazon doesn't publish the formula, but some people have reverse-engineered it and figure out many of the components.

If you get three helpful votes on a review, you get one ranking point.  If you get ten helpful votes, you get another.  You can lose a point of your "not helpful" votes minus your helpful votes is five more than your total helpful votes for that review (confusing, huh?).  It's not an exact science, as many people read "helpful"/"not helpful" as "did I agree with you or not".  It's just part of what we put up with...

So...  if you ever want to participate in the fun, feel free to click on any of my book links and vote helpful/not helpful on my reviews.  

Oh, typical numbers?  Usually reviews generate between 0 and 10 votes on average, but there have been some that have really snared attention...

Knoppix Hacks - 39 helpful of 41 total
Visio 2003 Bible - 25 of 27
Google - The Missing Manual - 34 of 36
Excel Hacks - 25 of 30
Digital Photography Hacks - 30 of 32
Adobe Photoshop CS One-on-One - 82 of 83
OOP Demystified - 24 of 25
The Great Influenza - 32 of 36
Degunking Windows - 52 of 59
HTML & XHTML: The Complete Reference - 45 of 46
Hacking Hardware Projects For Geeks - 25 of 32
Google Pocket Guide - 35 of 35
Upgrading and Repairing PCs (15th Edition) - 46 of 47
Digital Photography Pocket Guide - 39 of 41

03/09/2005

Ed Brill... The rain on Microsoft's parade...

Category IBM/Lotus

This morning I got a Google News Alert hit on Ed Brill which I found rather amusing...

The article:  Workers' presence known with software

The source:  The Seattle Times (bet Microsoft hates that they discovered Ed...)

Subject:  Microsoft's new IM technology launch yesterday...

Microsoft yesterday released new communications software that will let your bosses — and everyone else in the company — know if you're ignoring their e-mail or screening their calls.

The software can display information about users' "presence" — whether they are logged onto a computer, on the telephone or scheduled to attend a meeting. Soon it will also show whether they are available on a Windows-based cellphone.

Presence information is a highlight of Office Communicator 2005, one of several new business products that Chairman Bill Gates launched yesterday at a ceremony in San Francisco.

<snip>

And then Ed had to go and ruin their party...

An IBM executive said the presence technology is interesting but otherwise Microsoft showed little in new technology.

"A lot of what Microsoft is talking about now is really catch-up — it's things we've been doing with Lotus messaging and Web conferencing since 1998," said Ed Brill, a Lotus business-unit sales executive based in Chicago.

Brill said about half of his customers are using instant-messaging products, especially financial companies such as J.P. Morgan. Some are starting to ask about integrated communications systems, but the technology is still in its early days, with fewer than 10 percent having installed them, he said.

It really sucks to be shown up by the competition at your own party...  :-)

03/06/2005

Healthcare group cures its IT systems

Category IBM/Lotus

From Asia Computer Weekly:  Healthcare group cures its IT systems

When National Healthcare Group's CIO Linus Tham joined the organisation two and a half years ago, he suffered a major culture shock. He was previously from the IT-savvy banking industry, and was surprised at how weak NHG's IT infrastructure was, and the low level of IT investment and use in healthcare.

Prior to Jan'03, healthcare institutions under Singapore's National Healthcare Group (NHG) had their own independent IT systems which were not able to "talk" to one another. Patients had to waste time and effort to register at the different institutions at various stages of their treatment, even though the institutions were under the same umbrella group.

There were also no economies of scale and little co-ordination between IT directors of the various institutions. Incorporated on 15 March 2000, the NHG consists of four hospitals, one National Centre, nine polyclinics, three speciality institutes and five business divisions. More than 11,000 people work for the group, which has annual revenue of at least S$1 billion (US$613 million).

"In the separate IT departments in the hospitals, almost every known hardware and software platform was used," said Tham.

There were no data standards between systems, sometimes even within the same institution. "The way each institution coded a male and female patient could be different," said Tham. Thus sharing and consolidating data between institutions was impossible.

<snip>

Among other changes they made was this one...

Next, NHG moved from disparate, obsolete, unsupported e-mail platforms requiring internal gateways to route within NHG to a consolidated, highly available Lotus Domino/ Notes environment. One benefit was reduced administrative cost of gateways and directories.

"We are now supporting 2,000 more users with 10% less cost," said Tham.

At the same time, NHG standardised its application server to an IBM Websphere environment for critical applications, which reduced maintenance cost. Besides having to buy fewer licences, this allowed the group to share hardware resources.

03/05/2005

Book Review - It's Your Move - Dealing Yourself the Best Cards in Life and Work

Category Book Reviews

Regardless of how old you are and how long you've worked, you can always learn new tools to make you more effective in life.  A book that can add to your learning is It's Your Move - Dealing Yourself the Best Cards in Life and Work by Cyndi Maxey and Jill Bremer (Prentice Hall).  

The general design of the book and plan is a series of 52 techniques, or "cards", that you can play in your life in order to improve your effectiveness in life.  The techniques are grouped into a number of sets:  preparation, attitude, visibility, style, presentation, listening, learning, balance, and flexibility.  At the end of each chapter, you are instructed to "draw" one of the cards and start to apply it to your life.  By not being able to pick and choose what you want to do, you are forced to examine possibilities that you may shy away from if given your choice.

If  you've read books of this genre before, you'll recognize a number of the techniques...  take risks, set goals, etc.  But regardless of how many you've heard before, all it takes is one new idea to propel you forward.  Maxey and Bremer have an easy style of writing that makes it simple to understand and incorporate the idea into your life.  They also use actual personal stories to help the reader relate to the technique.  All good stuff...

Worth reading if you're looking to make a change in your life...

03/05/2005

I give up... ND 7.0 DB2 access for databases...

Category Software Development

I spent most of today trying to get this working...  I uninstalled the access connector and DB2.  I redownloaded the software from IBM.  I carefully tried to follow the release notes.  In the process, I got things even more screwed up than they had been.  After a number of attempts at troubleshooting, I finally got the Domino server to recognize and connect to DB2.  DB2 has the DOMINO database.  The Domino Administrator can successfully test the connection to DB2.

And I *still* can't move an NSF database to DB2.  There's nowhere in the database properties that allow me to point the database source to DB2.  Nor can I access any of the DB2 options in the Domino Administrator when I have a database selected.  They are both greyed out.

Guess during my webcast in a couple of weeks, I'll just have to cover the theoretical aspect of how this is *supposed* to work, and mention that this is not an easy setup process...

03/04/2005

Book Review - Linux For Dummies (6th Edition) by Dee-Ann LeBlanc

Category Book Reviews

Once you've made the decision to give Linux a try, you face a tough second decision...  which distribution do I use?  To help you out, you should get a copy of Dee-Ann LeBlanc's Linux For Dummies (6th Edition).  There's some good information in there to help you choose...

Chapter List:
Part 1 - Getting Your Feet Wet: Getting Acquainted With Linux; Prepping Your Computer for Linux; Installing Fedora Core; Installing Other Linux Distributions; Booting and Stopping Linux; Checking Out Those Desktops; Configuring Linux
Part 2 - Internet Now!: Connecting to the Internet; Using the Internet
Part 3 - Getting Up to Speed with Linux: Manipulating Files and Directories; Checking Out the Linux Filesystem; Adding Software to Linux; A Secure Linux Box Is a Happy Linux Box; Working without the GUI; Gettin' Gooey with the GUIs
Part 4 - Getting Things Done: Putting the X in Text; Word-Processing and More with OpenOffice.org; Multimedia Wow!; Windows-Only Media Formats and Programs
Part 5 - The Part of Tens: Ten Troubleshooting Tips; Ten Cool Uses for Knoppix
Part 6 - Appendixes: Common Linux Commands; About the DVD-ROM

There are obviously a large number of books you can buy that deal with Linux.  But before you get too far down the road, you need to figure out which distribution is right for you.  The main thing I really like about Dee-Ann's book is that she relates the basics of Linux back to the top six distributions:  Fedora Core, SuSE, Knoppix, Linspire, Xandros, and Mandrake.  So if you're learning about how the Linux file system works and can be navigated, you'll see that done in all six Linux flavors.  Want to know how to install Linux?  Once again, you see instructions and tips on all six.  Most Linux books pick a single distribution and focus exclusively on that.  While that's not bad at all, it may mean that you choose a type of Linux that may not be the best choice given your situation.  This book can help you understand the fundamentals before making that commitment.  There's even a DVD included that contains the install files for Fedora Core 3, Knoppix 3.6, Linspire 4.5, Mandrake 10.1, SuSE 9.2, and Xandros 2.5.  You don't even have to go searching for the latest ISO downloads!  You've got it all right here.

Like all Dummies titles, this is written in a very conversational, non-threatening way.  It's a perfect "first step" for anyone wanting to join the Linux movement but isn't quite sure where to start.  Once you've gone through the book, picked a distribution, and installed it, you'll be ready to push on and start learning even more about Linux.  But at least by then, you'll have narrowed down your choice of books based on the distribution you chose.  
Good book, and definitely recommended for people looking to get started...

03/03/2005

Microsoft Math

Category Microsoft

From RedmondMag.com:  Microsoft Math

A very interesting and well-written article analyzing Microsoft's track record on meeting shipment dates.

It shouldn't be news to anyone who has dealt with or followed Microsoft for any length of time that the company is notorious for missing ship dates. But with another major operating system upgrade on the horizon in Longhorn, it's a good time to take a hard look at the company's track record to try to glean tendencies that can help customers plan accordingly.

To do that, Redmond magazine researched announcement dates and delays for Microsoft desktop and server operating systems, along with Microsoft Office and Exchange products going back as far as 1983. We took the resulting data and handed it off for analysis to Barry Bayus, a professor of marketing at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina. Bayus co-authored a 1999 report titled, "Truth or Consequences: An Analysis of Vaporware and New Product Announcements," and thus has expertise in missed product ship dates.

The result picturing isn't a pretty one. After tallying up all the numbers, we found that, on average, Microsoft ships its desktop OSes 10 months late while its server OSes are just over a year late. The track record for major, mold-breaking OSes, however, is much worse. Windows 95, for example, was 14 months late, while NT Server 4.0 was 21 months late—nearly two years.

It's the mold-breaking products you should likely keep in mind when trying to assess when Longhorn might ship, because it's Microsoft's most ambitious operating system in years—or at least, it was before the company began stripping out key components like WinFS, a step the company took solely so it could hit a reasonable ship date.

03/01/2005

Libby's 15 minutes of fame...

Category e-Pro


Thanks to a heads-up from Andrew Pollack, I see that Google news - FRONT PAGE - picked up Libby's e-Pro article "
Are You A Firefox User?"

An outstanding entry on the Lotus Informer site gets 10 comments...  we're at 211 right now and climbing.


Good job, Libby!

03/01/2005

The March issue of the e-ProWire: Lotus Developer Tips newsletter is now available...

Category e-Pro

http://www.e-promag.com/f3/index.cfm?fuseaction=newsarchive.displayHTMLIssue&webID=1000&newsID=5002&issueID=5045

Just remember...  you can sign up to get these delivered to your inbox each month on the first Tuesday.  And the price is right...  free!

02/28/2005

ND 7.0 and DB2 integration - what am I doing wrong?

Category Software Development

I'm trying to get ND 7.0 and DB2 loaded on my new desktop machine so I can continue to prep for a webcast in a couple of weeks.  ND 7 is out there and runs fine.  I downloaded DB2 ESE 8.2 from the PartnerWorld site, along with the patch mentioned on the ND 7 Beta 3 page.  Both of those got installed, no sweat...  I followed Andrew Pollack's article in the February Lotus Advisor to make sure I did everything correctly (or so I thought).  

When I start the server, I see plenty of references to it finding the DB2 instance.  When I go into the Admin client, configuration option, and click the option to test DB2 connectivity, all four tests pass.  But when I create a new Notes database, I have no options for pointing it to a DB2 data store.  And when I look at the admin client for the server task to move a database to the DB2 store, it's a greyed out option...

Any clues as to what I did wrong (other than try to act like an admin)?

02/28/2005

And now it's time for February's... WEIRD REFFER ROUNDUP!

Category Blogging

Ah, yes....  all the "unusual" search terms that sent people to this little corner of the web...  Let's take a look...
  • NOTES TO .NET MIGRATION - I think the caps said it all...  run far, far away as fast as you can.
  • laid off from microsoft - Not me...  I couldn't have passed one of those "how do you make M&Ms" interviews
  • mayflower software scum duffbert - 'nuff said there...
  • litton lawsuits - Sounds like perhaps not all is well down in Florida...  :-)
  • Hockey Arena Observations - they're cold and the seats are often uncomfortable.  But at least it's HOCKEY!
  • how do we get more minorities involved in hockey - guess it really doesn't matter much this year, does it?
  • am I a fast or a slow book reader - I'm willing to bet that if you use me as the standard, everyone is probably slow.
  • mayflower software best in lotusphere - guess they figured out that scam doesn't work three years in a row.
  • male ballarinas - are there such a thing?
  • crossdresses - had a couple of those...  nothing more...  just "crossdresses"...
  • job of a tampon tester - I'm sure there's a way to test them without resorting to the obvious...
  • rob mcdonagh hotel - You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave?
  • "you know you're short when..." - you're only 5'4" and male.
  • jake taylor thongs - I've got to be getting close to the top of the list of search engines for that one.
  • diabetic hockey player - yes, that would be my son Ian.
  • roling stoned bar - Hey, John...  is this your idea of a new drinking establishment chain?


Ya just gotta love those search engines...  :-)

02/28/2005

I guess Microsoft can ice those plans for IE development now...

Category Everything Else

There have been a spate of stories in the last couple of days about the "slowing growth" of the Firefox browser.  Let's just take a sample article from HardwareGeeks.com...  Firefox Growth Rate Slips

Most the articles dwell on how the growth of Firefox is cooling down, and how this could be the zenith of the Firefox revolution.  But let's look at some of the material in the article...

According to a report released by WebSideStory a web analysts company, the growth rate for the Firefox browser has slowed down.

Firefox 1.0 which made its debut in November with a two page ad in the New York Times, saw its market share grow 34% in the first five weeks of its release. Since that initial surge the growth rate for Firefox has slowed down and in the past five weeks ending February 18th the market share growth was just 15%.

Since the release of Firefox the market share has grown to 5.9% while Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has fallen to 89.9%. This will be the first time that Internet Explorer is under 90% in years.
       
According to stats gathered at the Firefox website there have been well over 25 million downloads of the browser.

It was expected that the Firefox growth rate would slow down but many users and fans of the browser were hoping that Firefox would hit a 10% market share by mid-year. At the current growth rate that seems unlikely, however it may hit 10% by year end something which Mozilla expects.

So in reality, Firefox has helped push IE under 90% usage for the first time in years, 25 million downloads have occurred, and they could still hit 10% by the end of the year.  On, and they "only" grew 15% this month...  "Only"?  Most software companies (or any other company for that matter) would kill for a 15% increase in a month...

Media sheep...

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