Monday, December 31, 2007

How to choose?

I'm a digital pack rat, I've got 100,000+ images... taking up way too much room. How do you, gentle reader narrow down your own sets of pictures?

All suggestions welcome.



Thursday, December 27, 2007

Trump Tower

Here's a rectilinear vertical panorama of the Trump Tower under construction in Chicago, Illinois. This is a set of 4 frames that I took on the 7th of this month. I hope to re-shoot this under better lighting conditions before construction is completed.

Trump Tower - 12/7/2007 - Black & White

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

JumpBox - The start of a whole new industry

Jumpbox offers the application you want, preloaded onto a server. They let you try out their server for free, and if you like it, you have two pricing points for what is essentially rent.

When your server arrives, you turn it on, and it auto-configures itself for your network. It then tells you how you can connect to it via a web page. You then do all of the administration and management via web pages.

Jumpbox makes the whole process quick and easy. Far quicker and easier than was ever possible in the past.

How? Imagine the infrastructure required to build, configure, test, and ship a server. A very big UPS/FedEx depot, a hotline to a server vendor, staff to set up the boxes, install the software, and test the heck out of it before shipping it off, etc.

Jumpbox does all of that... except with virtual servers. They still did all of the hard parts, except now they can just give you a Zip file with a server in it, instead of having a supply chain consisting of China/Dell/FedEx/some tech lab/FedEx/You

I first heard about Jumpbox through Robert Scoble. While it might seem like just another baby step in the story of virtualization, this is a fairly big jump. The value added can be summed up:

  • Runs on multiple virtualization platforms
  • One distribution works on any of the above
  • Consistent price point
  • Consistent administration and management features
  • Instant deployment
I look forward to see the virtual appliance industry growing in the future. The OS is becoming irrelevant, and I for one am glad to see it go. I'll be happy to see a future without "Windows Activation" screens.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Can't play media files from network drive - Solved

The user couldn't play files from the network share on our server, but could if they copied them to their desktop first. They had Windows XP Pro.

They also couldn't disconnect from the share... but if you mapped to the same share on the same server with a different drive letter, everything worked fine.

When opening the network drive, you'd also notice it was in the "Internet" security zone.

Turns out there's a security setting that fixed it in this case.

Start | Administrator Tools | Local Security Policy
Security Settings | Local Policies | Security Options
Network Access: Sharing and security model for local accounts

Changed from "Guest only - Local users authenticate as guest" to "Classic - Local users authenticate as themselves".

After a reboot, the folders on the share no longer showed up in the "Internet" security zone, and all was well.

Couldn't log in to - Mystery solved

I had a user who could not log in to Clearing cache, and all the usually remedies failed. Both Internet Explorer and Firefox exhibited the same problem.

The user had already disabled pretty much every option in McAfee related to the internet, to no avail.

I used services.msc to manually kill as many McAfee related services as possible, and then it worked!

I gave the user two batch files to deal with this in the future:

net stop "McAfee E-mail Proxy"
net stop "McAfee HackerWatch Service"
net stop "McAfee Network Agent"
net stop "McAfee Personal Firewall Service"
net stop "McAfee Privacy Service"
net stop "McAfee Protection Manager"
net stop "McAfee Proxy Service"
net stop "McAfee Real-time Scanner"
net stop "McAfee Redirector Service"
net stop "McAfee Scanner"
net stop "McAfee Services"
net stop "McAfee SystemGuards"
net stop "McAfee Update Manager"

net start "McAfee E-mail Proxy"
net start "McAfee HackerWatch Service"
net start "McAfee Network Agent"
net start "McAfee Personal Firewall Service"
net start "McAfee Privacy Service"
net start "McAfee Protection Manager"
net start "McAfee Proxy Service"
net start "McAfee Real-time Scanner"
net start "McAfee Redirector Service"
net start "McAfee Scanner"
net start "McAfee Services"
net start "McAfee SystemGuards"
net start "McAfee Update Manager"

I put both on the desktop, and told the user to ignore the errors that it generates. Now I have a happier user. 8)

RiverWalk and Police boat

Chicago River Walk

Another view of the RiverWalk from last nights 15 minute photo shoot. The yellow blur is a Chicago Police boat. This is a composite of 9 frames stitched with Hugin.

Marina City

Marina City

Here's a view of Marina City in Chicago... 9 frames stitched with Hugin.

Yet another Chicago River Panorama

I think I'm getting better at these... but you should be the judge.

Chicago River Panorama

I stopped on the way home, with the right ISO and White Balance this time. This is one of a few series I did. I missed part of the bridge, I'll plan it better next time.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Michigan Avenue Panorama

Here's another of the panorama scenes I shot Friday night after our Holiday party. I've learned a few things in the process.
  • Try to plan out the entire frame before starting to shoot
  • Always be patient, and let the camera stop vibrating before shooting
  • Make sure to turn off Auto-ISO if you have a Nikon D40
  • Always take more than exposure of each frame (came in handy!)
  • Consider locking the exposure (another one didn't work because if this)
  • The fieldwork can be pretty quickly done, if you get a system going.

So, here's the output after stitching with Hugin and cropping a bit:

Michigan Avenue Panorama

As you can see, I left the "unexposed" area white. It's an artistic decision that I'm happy with at the moment. I always delete the merged TIFF file because they tend to be disk hogs, and I'm already cramped on my laptop as it is. Re-rendering isn't hard because I keep all of the .PTO files from Hugin (they are tiny - 42k in this case)

Panoramas are fun, and I'm starting to get a feel for how to do them right. Hope you enjoy them as well.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Michigan Avenue Bridge

Here's a picture I finished stitching together this morning, before my day went to hell in a handbasket.

Michigan Avenue Bridge

It's composed of 10 frames, stitched together with Hugin, an free software package. It's a lot of fun doing them. This one worked out pretty well, except I didn't realize I had a bit of a gap on the right side.

It snowed here... and I went to find a snowthrower... the one I purchase lasted long enough to clear 30 feet of sidewalk before smoke started spewing forth. It's nice that Home Depot is good with returns. 8)

So.. now it's off to shovel snow.. and take some photos. 8)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Virtual Tourism with Flickr and Hugin

I'm having fun doing panoramas of places using Hugin. The twist is that I really don't have a lot of free time to roam the world and take photos, so I'm going the internet way, and becoming a Virtual Tourist. I search for interesting photos that are licensed under creative commons, so that I can use them freely, within the limits set by the original photographers.

Here are my first three photos done this way.

Night Skyline - Bangkok, Thailand (based on originals by Marc Aurel)

Aachen - Virtual Tourism
Church - Aachen, Germany - (based on originals by Orange Kangaroo)

Eiffel Tower - Virtual Tourism
Eiffel Tower - Paris, France (based on originals by FranzPics)

I don't know quite how this will be received, but it's been fun so far. I hope the real tourists get some value out of the panoramas they didn't know they had.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Armageddon Safe Archives

Dave Winer brings up the very important issue of preserving all of our collective musings after we've passed on. Since my near-death experience on 7/7/07, I can relate. I've got 120Gb+ of photos and video, and they're not even all on one box. I definitely need to clean my act up, filter it down a bit, and get the metadata in a good state.

Think of it (my photos, this blog, etc) as a diary for the 21st century.

Think of our blogs in this framework. The manuscripts that did survive throughout history are still around because they had value to their consecutive owners, or had sufficiently small cost that to keep them was either very easy or accidental. (In my humble guestimation)

I figure if I can boil things down to a stack of 50 DVDs or less, and keep everything in that stack, my family will keep it around for a while. Especially if I explicitly label things and make it valuable for them by keeping it VERY organized and user-friendly.

I figure that I'd be willing to keep at least 1 DVD worth of stuff for anyone who cares to send it to me. I'd be willing to share that much live disk space as well. (No pun intended)

I'd be very interested in figuring out how to suck down complete copies of everything written by Dave Winer, Doc Searls, Dave Rogers and others. The text certainly would be small... photos and video might be a bit tougher.

Usenet archives are still around because the network was distributed, and some folks kept copies of things they found valuable. Perhaps it's time to think of the web as merely one of many transport and storage mechanisms for our collective stuff.

This folds into the title of this post... Armageddon Safe Archives. If something really bad happens, how can we maximize the value and minimize the cost of archiving things for the future. We need to make it easy and desirable to keep copies of each others stuff. Perhaps a new bit needs to be added to the Creative Commons licensing to handle archival copies?

Comments thoughts and discussion welcome.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sun rise in Port Washington, Wisconsin

I'm turning into a panorama junkie. Thanks to the latest beta of Hugin (thanks John Navas!) and a habit of keeping all of my photos... I'm finding tons of gold on my laptop. Here's the latest

Port Washington Sunrise

This is a stitch of 10 frames using Hugin with manual control points. I added a lot of horizon lines to make up for the almost non-existent control points. The exposure straight out of the camera was almost perfect for this one. The only touch-up is a small gap that I had to fill in the upper left sky (about 200x30 pixels).

I hope everyone likes it.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Unlimited uploads on Flickr?

Flickr says I've got unlimited uploads, unlimited bandwidth, and can make uploads private... all for $25/year... what a bargain.

I'm going to backup all of my photos there. (120+ Gb)

I'm going to geocode them all (some public, some private)

I'm going to make some of them public (probably most of them)

I'm going to sync it to ThumbsPlus and my local archive.

I expect to be done by Virginia's 2nd Birthday.


Sunday, November 25, 2007


Originally uploaded by --Mike--
Yesterday, Anahlise was baptised.. and I was honored to be the photographer.

The D40 made the photography as smooth as butter.

Thanks to my loving wife Noran for prompting the purchase.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

D40 first light

Originally uploaded by --Mike--
I needed something that would actually focus quickly in indoor environments for a photo shoot tomorrow. My Nikon Coolpix 8800 is a great camera for the outdoors, but the contrast detect focus just doesn't cut the mustard indoors. This necessitated a move to a digital SLR.

I decided to go with the Nikon D40 because it's supposed to be a bit better than the newer D40x in most aspects. I'm very happy with it so far.

This is Virginia, who is now 18 months old. She was about 6 inches from the camera (inside the camera strap with me)... this shot wouldn't have been a possibility with the 8800... still needed a bit of luck, but it came out nice.

I'll practice more tomorrow, and work on getting comfortable with it.

So far, a VERY nice camera.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Why keep them all?

I've got at least 160 Gigabytes of photos and video... so many that I don't have them all in one place. (They don't fit on my laptop) To save space in the past, I resized and compressed all of the photos prior to 2006.

Now that I've gotten used to Hugin, I'm going through those photos that are on my laptop, and digging out the panoramas that I haven't been quite able to deal with before. Here is one of them.

The photos are lower quality that originally came from the camera.. and yet they still have sufficient quality to make this nice panorama.

It's fun making discoveries like this... I imagine I'll be doing this for as long as I live, finding new joys in the archive.

Isn't technology great when it works right?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

War is a racket

War is a racket.

It's important to remember this, as we reach the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month... central time

11/11 11:11

Remember that they gave their lives to protect each other, and us from oppression.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Planet Bean

Planet Bean
Originally uploaded by --Mike--
Worth1000 has a photo contest going... this may be the start of an entry

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Big Crane

Big Crane
Originally uploaded by --Mike--
This is a big HydroCrane which was unloading the counterweights from a tower crane at Randolph and State streets in Chicago, Illinois this morning.

I used HUGIN and Emblend to create a TIF, then Paint Shop Pro 10 to help tweak for a bit better contrast ratio.

Comments welcome.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

VRM- the missing 90%

Doc Searls has a well intentioned, and necessary project going with the Berkman Center of Harvard University... he calls it VRM. The wiki there hasn't seen much use, so I thought I'd browse it... this page in particular got me to thinking...(go ahead... look and come back)

There's a lot missing from the diagram... everything before the ends of a transaction.

.... missing thought train goes here ... ;-)

90% of a possible transaction's value chain comes from intermediaries.. and they can't appear in the diagram which only considers the ending.

Unlike the internet, there is quite a bit of value in the middle of the network... my friends help me to decide which manufacturers have value, and evaluate their reputations. The Government prevents me from making transactions that are harmful to myself or society. Marketing folks help me learn of the existence of things I might want.

The relationship formed after an actual purchase is only a small part of the picture, it's time to look outside the box.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Treason and Enablers

I tried to reply to an email from my Congressional Representative, Peter J Visclosky... but it bounced...

so here it is... for your consideration instead...

Dear Peter:

I thank you for your courteous and timely reply. I understand the temptation to "let it slide" since the Bush-Cheney administration is sliding cleanly into lame duck territory… however I feel that threats to our democracy of this nature should NEVER get a pass.

The price of Liberty is eternal vigilance. We must ALWAYS PROSECUTE crimes of this nature. Congress is getting a low approval rating just because of actions like this… trying to take a pass, instead of doing what you swore to do… Protect and Defend the Constitution of the United States.

I'm sad that you don't share my view.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Virtual Existentialism

I've got an idea... I want to build a run time environment for VMware, but I don't know why.

Here's a bit of a brainstorm/stream-o-consciousness about it

The idea of having a system that can be used to build a program that could run on almost any machine on the planet is appealing... but we've already got Java, cross platform languages, etc.

The idea of getting down to bare metal and programming again also has appeal... but I don't think that's it either.

I want to be able to do applications without any of the baggage of file systems, layers of OS to manage, etc...

The one thing I think it an absolute necessity is a TCP/IP stack, and all of the toys that implies... Ethernet, ARP, IP, UDP, ICMP, TCP, HTTP, DNS... and that's definitely non-trivial.

The rest doesn't really need to be there... the files could be anywhere, the users could be anywhere... heck the code itself could be anywhere... and loaded dynamically.

Any futher ideas/comments welcome.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Crimes against peace

From my email to my Representative in the House of the United States Congress:

It's clear to me now that Vice President Cheney is trying to lead our great nation into an unnecessary and ill-advised war with Iran.

Remember the words of the Chief American prosecutor of the Nuremberg Trials, Robert H. Jackson:

To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.

It is my strong opinion that the Vice President should be impeached for this crime against peace.

I further believe that once found guilty, he should be tried for Treason.

Michael A. Warot

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Baby Shower Photos

Originally uploaded by --Mike--
Noran asks... and she shall recieve... here are the wayyyyyy overdue photos from Virginia's Baby Shower on June 3 of 2006.

Fixing the net

It's been suggested that we need government leadership to fix the internet. It's true... but not in the way that Michael Kleeman thinks. My list of steps toward the future include:

  • Settlement free peering
  • IP6 or bust
  • Free portable address blocks
  • 700-799 Mhz allocated to mesh networking

The internet is too much like a big tree, and not enough like a mesh. This results in bottlenecks that reduce reliablity, and make chokepoints to be used by repressive forces. If we encourage a mesh of links, we eliminate this set of problems (and get newer, more interesting ones in exchange!)

We should make it possible for small businesses to get a block of addresses that can be accessed through any ISP they happen to use. This would allow truely redundant internet connections just like the big boys. It shouldn't cost US$25,000 to do this... it should cost nothing.

The FCC has a chunk of spectrum to auction off... I'd suggest instead that we give it back to the public, and use it as a massive next generation networking platform instead. As long as the equipment meets the technical requirements, ANYONE should be able to use it to connect, and be part of, the internet.

Mesh networking is the future, we need to get it done.

LaptopJenny returns!

For the first time ever... I got the same laptop back from HP... working, and with all my stuff!

Since I had a backup, I took the opprotunity to remove the "recovery" partition, and get 15 Gigabytes of my hard drive back. I'll consume this in the next 4 months, of course... but for now I have breathing room. 8)


Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Originally uploaded by --Mike--
Night time flash photography, through the Nikon Coolpix 8800 really didn't want to focus... I managed to get this one.

Mike's law of intermittent hardware

"Intermittent hardware should be treated as hazardous waste,

and disposed of immediately" - Mike Warot

This is a hard learned lesson... from somewhere around 1997... not sure of the exact date. The fact that a given piece of hardware sometimes works causes you to chase it with time and energy... which will, of course, eventually be found to be a waste.

The exception is if you have the technical facilities, skill and time to repair the part down to the component level, which most of us don't.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Stick a fork in it

Don't worry about the suburban sprawl you see being built on former farmland... it'll all come crashing to a halt soon enough... just read what James Howard Kunstler has to say about it:

My view is that the suburban project, per se, in the United States is over, finished. Like, totally. You can stick a fork in it.
He's got the most focused and realistic view of the future of the US as it relates to land usage of anyone I've read. You'll hate what he has to say at first, but then you'll go "oh shit.. he's right!".

Monday, October 01, 2007

After the rain

After the rain
Originally uploaded by --Mike--
I decided to go take some pictures on the way in to work today... being a big fan of reflection shots.. I managed to catch this one in one of the few tiles that had water in it..

I tweaked it a bit with PaintShopPro X, and cropped out the pavement below.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Openness Index - Plan A

Doc Searls asks about the idea of an Openness Index... and starts with the Nokia N95 and Apple iPhone as sample subjects of comparison. To make this actually work, in a general case, the following steps are necessary.
  • Provide a common means of specifying an object in a distributed folksonomy (so that everyone can comment about something, and not get ambiguity when machine-read)
  • Provide a common means of specifying things about said object using the same type of folksonomy (so that you could aggregate the results)
  • Provide a common means of integrating Identity and Reputation into the mix

I believe that if there were a way for all of us to just put these three items together into a blog post, with enough syntactic sugar to eliminate ambiguity for a machine to read it... it could work.

You'd end up with something like RSS for opinions about a given Subject.

Who wants to start building it with me?


Friday, September 28, 2007

Organizing photos... again!

I'm now facing down doing the same exact task for the third time (thanks to HP, and their seemingly inexhaustible ability to churn out defective laptops)..

I have approximately 150,000 photos that I've taken in the past 10 years. I've gone through them to pick the "good ones" twice... but lost that work twice with dead HP laptops.

This time, I want to embed IPTC, EXIF, or XMP metadata in the image files themselves, so that I CAN'T lose my work again.

I currently use ThumbsPlus 7.0 from Cerious... but it seems to lack the ability to sync keywords back out metadata in the image files.

What would it cost to get this feature added to ThumbsPlus? What are the alternatives?


PS: This is kinda what I expect Doc Searls to do as an experment in VRM land.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Early Morning Commute

Early Morning Commute
Originally uploaded by --Mike--
On my way in the previous day, i saw the beginnings of this photo. I got my good camera, and took quite a few frames.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Furure of the Web - In reply to Scoble

Scoble asks for opinions about the future of blogging... I opt for a comment here...

Here is my hypothetical Web 3.0 link to his post, to provide context.

Robert, I feel that Comments ARE the future of blogs as far as I'm concerned. Blogs as we know them are like this.

In order to comment on a post, you're forced to make a choice:

1) Hope the blog has a nice comments service that is working at the time, and friendly enough to let you work efficiently.

2) Create your own comment about it in your own page, and hope that Technorati or Google, or pingbacks let the author find it (assuming, of course, he's looking for it. To do this you have to cut/paste the URL, and copy/paste the germain piece of text (in an attempt to provide context), and then write around it to try to make your point.

Neither of these is optimal.

The clever web services set up to add comments to a given post are locked in a battle with the spammers, so they don't always work.

The loss of context when trying to post a reply via one's on blog forces one to invent a way of trying to get the context back.

I believe there is a better way.

If there were a way to collect comments EXTERNALLY, and get them included at the time the page is read, multiple layers of info could be combined to make things clearer because the context doesn't get lost.

As in this example... written in plaintext... I reference the URL of the permalink, and then specify a search to enable matching EXACTLY the context.

THAT is the future of blogging, as I see it.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Humans DO scale - Scoble's near miss with the truth.

Robert Scoble brought some pretty good value to bear in the blogosphere with his prediction of the demise of Google. As with any strong statement, there was a strong backlash as well, along with some useful discussion and lessons learned.

Now, I'll happily admit that I didn't watch his whole video... I've got a very heavily interrupt driven life right now, and 20 contiguous minutes aren't easy to come by. What I did see seemed off the mark to me at the time, so it went into the background.

Dennis Howlett however provided this bit of catalyst which brought it back into focus:

I spoke to Robert about this in the context of what matters to business people. He agrees these services are not ripe for prime time business use. He also agrees that humans don’t scale - the premise upon which Mahalo’s human built directory operates. But neither of these things are the point either.

Human's don't scale? That's big news to me... do you think that machines spit out ALL of the web? It may be true that spam engines make up most of it... but the VALUE is all from people.

The information about what's a good page, and what is crap does exist.. in the minds of whoever just looked at the page... the trick is to extract it at low cost, without opening the door to gaming the system too much.

I've tried (and obviously failed) to explain the idea of adding external data to existing web content... and this is a near perfect case for it. If we can somehow capture the a "vote" on a page, but lock it into identity to prevent gaming... we can continuously add value to search results.

Of course, this is the least amount of data possible to capture... one bit... but linking it to identity makes it far harder to corrupt or game. If you can see the value in this... why not go the rest of the way and add tagging and commentary to the mix as well?

I hope someone makes sense out of this... I look forward to feedback.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

VMware - It's all about control

Why do I use VMware? It's all about control...

It used to be that you could install applications simply by copying them into a system, and adding the directory to the path if necessary. Microsoft broke things when they decided to go with the registry and all of the non-friendly things that ensued. Application portability evaporated.

Then the holes started to appear, and this magical thing called UPTIME disappeared when we started to have to patch things on a regular basis.

The emergence of VMware allows us to start to put things back the way they belong. We can now have portable applications once again, albeit one per virtual machine. We can have this thing called uptime back, because the physical machine is running something more secure and doesn't need to be rebooted all the time.

We're taking back control of our environment... at long last!


Thursday, August 16, 2007

It's good to be back home

Got my Windows XP workstation back at work... it's good to have native 1280x1024 DVI with proper drivers, etc...

it's not about the best OS... it's all about having it all just so


Monday, August 13, 2007

Feeding memes

I've got some memes stuck in my brain, and it's really frustrating to try to get them out, so they can live:
  • External annotation of web sites as the basis of VRM, and the future of the web.
  • Layered annotated source code as the basis for a far more productive method of programming
  • A dirt simple programmable logic array which wastes gates in the name of ultimate flexibility
I've also got some ideas I really wish I could just let die:
  • We're running out of oil, and our nation is one big clusterf*ck
  • Democracy is around only for show in the US, and has been subverted
  • We're about to relive the stock market crash of 1929
  • Computers as they are currently conceived in the market, can't be made secure.
The first set is frustrating because of my inability to make a case for them in a manner which others can grasp. The latter set is ones that I worry too much about, but unfortunately for me, seem to be grounded in a very hard reality.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Today's Rant - Lack of Broadband in the US

I left this over at Doc Searl's new web log:

#1. File sharing… I’ve got 160 GIGABYTES of photos, and a rapidly growing set of AVI files thanks to my Nikon Coolpix L12, that I’d like share with my friends and family. I’d like to do it without having to depend of flickr, zoomer, or any other hosting service.
#2. Backup - of the other stuff, I’d like to back up my servers off site, on a continuous basis. Doing this with throttled/metered traffic doesn’t work. If BroadBand (100Mbps or faster) were available in the US, this would be commonplace.
#3. Cool Web 2.0 stuff - I’d actually be able to host a n annotation server, and get the low level inverse of VRM online and running, from a bottom up approach.

Our current lack of real internet is crippling the yankee inventor spirit inherent in all of us. I hope that someone, somehow gets around the mentally handycapped one-way dribble that passes for internet in this god-forsaken country of ours.

Real internet is bidirectional, unfiltered, and far too dangerous to hook to something lacking security like a standard Windows/Mac/Linux box. This is being used as an excuse by the powers that be to give us a pale weak imitation called "Internet Access"... like the Internet is some box somewhere that we mere mortals might be allowed to consult for a modest fee.

We need to be able to run servers, to build new things, to innovate if we are to have any hope of retaining any technical skills in the US. The Koreans can have broadband... why can't we?


Friday, July 13, 2007

Wake up calls

Last Saturday, 7/7/07, I did a few chores and proceeded to take my daughter Virginia on a road trip to a little town just past Lafayette, Indiana. I intended to attend the open house of the Monon Railroad club. Those chores are one of many factors that saved my life.

I stopped and got some Burger King, since I was running late... ate, and was on the road. Unknown to me at the time, this triggered my Gall bladder to release bile, along with a GallStone... leading to Pancreatitis.

At the time, the first clue was general discomfort.... riding a new car for the first time alone with my daughter on a trip out of town might have just made me nervous... but I took the necessary measure of descretion, and pulled off at Route 2... just to take a break. This was about 15 miles past the area I've lived in since I was born... so I know the general area, but not the streets. Being this far from home and ill wasn't a pleasant mix.

It got worse... so I bought some Naproxen, to help the pain. Then the symptoms changed, and got worse... I now felt like I had been kicked in the right side... I'm no doctor... but I knew immedately something was wrong... and called my wife Noran (an ER nurse with 20 years experience). She told me to head to the nearest hospital. (St Anthony's in Crown Point).

I started heading there... symptoms getting worse as time progressed (sweating heavily when the AC is on MAX is a bad sign!) Noran called me back because she was concerned about the tone in my voice on the call... and it kept nagging her. I told her about my new symptoms, her suspicions were confirmed and she told me "try to call 911 and call me back afterwards".

I quickly did... waited for what seemed like an eternity waiting to be transfered to the correct authorities on a cell phone. Once the details were exchanged, I was told to pull over, and wait for an ambulance.. and I did. They arrived quickly... were very professional and helpful, along with the police. They took Virginia, got her in the ambulance with me, and got our belongings secured for us while the paramedics did their work on me.

They did an EKG, which quickly ruled out heart issues... and relieved much of my fear... but not the pain. Thank Mr Morphine for that one. With the car secure, Virginia well cared for in my presence, the trip seemed to go very quickly.

Noran was working at the same time, despite inaccurate and quite rattling information(1)(2)(3), she managed to keep calm, and get in touch with my Parents, who volunteered to meet us at the hospital and take care of Virginia. She also got in touch with her sister Carrie, who has graciously taken charge of our daughter for the duration of my recovery.

The doctors, nurses, paramedics, and staff were quite competent, friendly, and assuring as the took me and Virginia into their care. My parents arrived quickly, and managed Virginia... feeding, amusing, comforting, and controlling her... they even changed her diaper!

Noran was stuck at work because of a staff shortage at her ER. Even so... I'll never be able to make her understand just how much she did... and how much I appreciate her being there to pull it all together for me. She feels otherwise because she didn't just abandon her work... but they truly needed her as well. She made excellent use of the resources available!

When she was able to get to my side... she took care of dealing with everything. My dad took her car home... she and my mom took Virginia to pick up our car, and then got Virginia to Carries. She arranged for the team of doctors to perform the surgery on me... and got me transferred by ambulance to her hospital where it would happen.

The doctors and staff of the transfer team, the hospital, and everyone since then has been wonderful.

My company has come through for me as well... being a small private company, the family atmosphere is something that I've come to value greatly in recent years... it's proven it's value again... there's great security in knowing that I just have to focus on my recovery.

My friend Jim is helping to cover for me in the event of something drastic going wrong at work...

It's very, VERY comforting to know and value the relationships I have... I'm a very lucky man indeed.

One of the spiritual care staff said "it's what you do with the wake up call that counts"... I for one will more greatly treasure the great bounty set before me....

Thank you for your time, and support as well.

(1) - The police told her that she needed to come to the scene immediately and get our car and daughter - wrong on both counts
(2) - The police in a later call told her that she didn't need to worry about the car.. and arrived to find Hoosier helpers watching the car, but ready to tow it in about an hour.
(3) - Being told that DCFS would be called to take our daughter at the hospital - when no such action was customary, or expected.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

It's time

I wrote to my Representative today....

President Bush went too far when he gave Libby a pass, and subverted our justice system. It's time to impeach both Vice President Cheney and President Bush.

The sooner this is done, the sooner we can begin to heal our country, and repair the incalculable damage they have caused.

Michael Warot
Cell: (219) xxx-xxxx

I strongly urge you to do the same.


Sunday, July 01, 2007


One of my first "strobist" type photo sets is up at flickr.

A cute video from Virgina's first Zoo trip is uploading to YouTube. (86 Megabytes takes a while!)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

An accidental path to VRM.

Doc Searls is trying his best to come up with a coherent vision for VRM. He seems to be taking the straight on approach that works pretty good for lots of things of limited scope, such as Email, sending a file, TCP, etc.

VRM is such a nebulous concept right now that the scope is essentially infinite. This results in a "boil the ocean" view of things... which just doesn't work in the real world. I'm working on a completely different problem, but I think it might accidentally solve Doc's problem along the way.

Here's the general flow that VRM seems to take:
  • Somewhere, on a web page, X is described.
  • I tell my computer that I'd like to purchase X
  • The computer generates a file which specifies exactly my interest in X and puts it where vendors can see it
  • Vendors read the file, and the machines begin to negotiate
  • I pick the best choice, and approve the transaction.
  • I get X

My accidental path to VRM...

I'm interested in an ideological quest, to get what I call "markup" included in the web. My religious difference is that real markup on ... um... paper, for example... doesn't have to be done all at once. It can be layered... post facto. HTML just doesn't do it. Anyone who says otherwise is itching for a fight... ;-)

One of the ideas that you need in order to make real markup work is the ability to add content in a layer on top of an existing document. The word transclusion gets tossed in here... but it's got a lot of baggage associated with it. The basic requirement is to be able to say

this document is to be a layer on top of original_document_url
If you can do that, you can then do a lot of very powerful and new things with the web. The glue to hold it all together is a new set of places to store all of this new markup. It's fairly obvious to me that it wouldn't go anywhere on the original server for a number of reasons. It would probably get stored in a local repository, and then shared out to a community server somewhere to enable others to discover and read it. This need for a new repository of data is another common point of interest to the VRM problem. You're looking to add new data to something in a silo... you have to have a different silo to put it in though.

Making this new data discoverable and useful is a matter of aggregating, sorting, etc... it's a new Goggle class opportunity waiting to be solved.

The final link is that I'm interested in adding more than just text on top of pages, I want to be able to include metadata... and the VRM data would be a small easy to fit subset of that.

I hope this is coherent enough to make some sense to the rest of you. I welcome all discussion.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Comment over at John Robb's Weblog

Here's what I posted over at John Robb's very insightful blog.
It's my long held belief that all of operating systems as we now know them are fundamentally insecure. They all rely on the need to trust a given piece of software to be free from flaws.

There are alternative security models which greatly reduce the amount of code to be trusted (down to one module in the kernel of the OS). NOTHING else in the OS needs to be trusted.

This model of security has been called "Capabilities" based. When a program is run, it's only given the minimum required access to do the job, and nothing more.

For example, if you fire up a Word processor on Windows, Mac, Linux, DOS, etc... it can open ANY file you have access to, and do anything to it. You have to trust that it only does what you want. The problem is that you can't trust it. 99.9999999% of the time it works in the fashion you expect... but it's that one in a billion flaw that the virus/worm/spam/enemy can use to subvert the whole system.

It's going to take a long time to overcome the inertia of all of the installed systems, and the programmers who write them. Perhaps 20 years from now we'll finally be able to start to shut down the virus scanners, and firewalls.

Until that time, all of our computers will be available to any party with the resources to find and exploit any of the flaws in the code we all run.

It's a matter of National Security to fix this, but people are wrongly convinced our Virus Scanners/Spam Filters/Firewalls have solved the problem.

I really enjoy your blog, and value the insight you share. It's good to know you're on our side.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Imagining the future

In the future, you'll post a page to a server some where. The site, folder, or specific page will then contain a few pieces of metadata to make all of this comment mechanism obsolete:
  • GUID (Globally Unique ID) string to allow reference to a document
  • Digital Signature for the document, and its authors
  • List of places for the reader to find updates, comments, etc.
  • List of places where the author publishes his comments, ratings, etc.
The process of getting a web page won't be as simple. The resulting view for the reader will depend on the original source content, plus the additional data that their browser may have gathered depending on their preferences, web of trust, etc.

If this page, for example, were created in my desired future, there would be a link to a public comments server somewhere, to help with compatibility to the current web browsers.

A FireFox plugin would search the document and its locale (folder, server, etc) for a list of places to find and put comments, markup, etc. It might also search some private lists as well for comments hosted by communities I'm involved in.

The browser then could check through the identities of the authors of comments, and highlight or hide their comments based on various pools of reputation to which the reader has access.

It's a much richer, more complex, and if done properly, a closer approximation to the way we social humans deal with each other. We're still at Web 0.1, we're not even up the the level of the Vannevar Bush vision of the memex which at least allowed for markup of existing documents.

More later... Virginia's on the move...


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Magic Bucket - part 001

I've got ActiveState Python installed on my laptop and work machines. I took about 35 minutes on the train today to write this little program.

import datetime,os

thisdate =
foldername = "c:\photos\source\%04d\%04d%02d%02d" % (thisdate.year,thisdate.year,thisdate.month,
try: os.makedirs(foldername)
except WindowsError, e:
print e.strerror
if e.winerror <> 183:

os.system("explorer "+foldername)

I'll comment it up and add some more logic later, but the gist of it is that it automates the creation and opening of a folder which I do when I transfer photos. It'll save about 30 seconds each time it's run.

One small set on a long journey.


PS: I used a variant of this code to colorize/HTML the code.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Wanted - Magic Bucket

I want to put all of my stuff into a "magic bucket".

This stuff would include:
  • Email
  • Work Stuff
  • All of my photos and videos
  • Scanned pieces of paper
  • Bookmarks
  • Source Code
  • Misc files
The "magic" would be that I could then set up rules to be followed when resources were available. Sample resouces include:
  • Network connectivity at work (or home)
  • Server space at work, home, etc
  • Access to my various email accounts
  • A newly inserted SD card with files from my camera
  • USB thumb drive
  • External backup drive
Some of the rules would be things like:
  • Keep copies of all of my photos on my home machine up to date
  • Read the tags (keywords, etc) from my photos, and send the interesting ones to flicrk, zoomer, etc.
  • Take things composed while offline (on the train communting) and send them as appropriate
I don't want to have to tell it GO on any of this stuff... I don't want to worry that it'll break if interrupted... it should just WORK. Technology is our tool, and it should work like one.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Good guys wear black

Originally uploaded by --Mike--.
I decided to try out a new look with the facial hair... and ended up with this.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Black hole? - Try a different channel

Doc Searls worries about conversational black holes.

I was awakened to this suspicion three Mondays ago, while talking about blogging to a class in a local college. The teacher projected a browser tuned to Technorati on a screen, clicked on a Top Searches link, and there, at the top of the page, was a blog post that associated my name with death threats.
Since then perhaps hundreds of thousands of blog postings have dealt with the controversy; yet the ratio of opinion to fact in the case verges on the infinite. At a certain point I realized that it was impossible to shed light on a subject that had become a black hole. That point was reached when one person's name had become synonymous with the controversy. I realized then that I would only make things worse by mentioning that person's name — no matter how much Good Stuff I had to say about the subject.

The basic problem here is not an inescapable black hole, though can see how Doc reached that conclusion. I believe I see the true problem, which brings both bad and good news.

Bad news first: Doc, you're addicted to buzz.

Just as the view of Microsoft has changed even further since you wrote The Shrinking Subject, the views of the events of the tragedies this week will change. Things get weighted differently over time, as the fog of the present clears with perspective.

Using Technorati and other tools is great for starting a conversation when you need to build an audience to help get traction, but it's nowhere near as good a filter as the rest of us in conversation. Tools of that nature use a feedback loop which is tuned for finding the immediate and the popular, with no attention given to other factors.

You like buzz... and I'm here to caution you against the dark side. I've done it before, and I'll do it again, as will others here in the non-buzz long tail.

The good news... say what you want, we'll listen... and in the long run it'll outweigh the buzz. We wouldn't be here if you didn't believe in us. We care about things beyond popularity. We are a darned good filter, if given time to think about things, and compose our thoughts.

The recursive example is right here... it took me a few days to get this written... thoughts now and then. I could refactor it even more, as it worries me you might be offended by the personal reference to your buzz addiction... but then again it helps make the point to have specifics.

Go ahead and mention away, put the caveats in, we'll listen, in the long run.

Thanks for your time and attention.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Originally uploaded by --Mike--.
Autostitch couldn't quite handle it, so I used Hugin to generate this panorama. It's almost perfectly aligned.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


There are some who just want to give up, and restart the Internet from scratch. This is defeatism in a fairly pure form. Now I've dipped far too many times into the same well... and I've just realized it. It stops now.

The Internet is a network, just like the phone system, it is value neutral. There are technical limitations, which are being actively addressed already, with IP6 and standards coming down the well known pike. The long term stability of the Internet as a communications medium are in good hands. It's in the best interest of everyone to keep it going, and make it better.

Most of the problems that people blame on the Internet are actually with the hosts. It is not possible, given the dominant security model to have a host connected to the internet which will remain secure. I've written about this before...

We can secure the hosts, by encouraging the development of new systems which implement Capabilities. Once it's possible to keep the servers clean, the rest can be managed. I don't want to leave the impression that it'll be trival... but we'll have a very good step in the right direction.

We can clean it up... we just need to keep the long term goal in mind.

We will not be defeated.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter 2007 - First Video

It's Virgina's first Easter. I took some video with my new Coolpix L12, and compressed it to fit on YouTube.

The progress of technology continues to amaze me... But it's nowhere as rapid as Virgina's. ;-)

Happy Easter!


Friday, April 06, 2007

A modest proposal for immigration reform

This piece about the H1-B visa crisis got me to thinking about a possible solution to the problem... I have a few ideas:
  • Allow those with H1-B visas (who supposedly have skills that can't be found domestically) the freedom to work anywhere once they are here. (As suggested in the article above)
  • Require the employer of someone with an H1-B visa to put somewhere between 1-5 years of salary for the worker in escrow, to help protect the worker from mis-treatment. (Arbitration would be required in the event of termination)
  • Implement a 100% tax on the salary of the worker, to be paid by the employer (who couldn't be bothered to try to hire a citizen of the US) to the appropriate state's Unemployment fund
The thing about troubleshooting is that when you find a good solution to a problem, you find the solution can be generalized to help in other similar problems. It is with this in mind that I feel I have found the solution to the H1-B visa problem, and the bigger problem of illegal immigration.

I humbly suggest that we simply do what we do best... make everyone pay! We let anyone (non-criminal) enter the US one on one of three tracks:
  • Tourist - Proper documentation, etc... just as it is now
  • Temporary worker - Gets something like a green card to use for ID, gets taxed like the rest of us, except their Social Security payments go into a special escrow account.
  • Citizen apprentice - Same as temporary worker, but they would pay an additional 10% income tax for the 7 years before they became regular citizens. English language skills would also be required.
I'd allow upgrading plans if you wished, by supplying the documentation and payments required.

Everyone (non-criminal) would have a path to US citizenship, provided they were willing to work for it.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

What would you do if....

What would you do if with an internet that was free from spam, hackers, malware, legislatures bent on corruption, etc?

Doc's VRM would be as easy as a usenet posting, with an email address for replies.

What else would be different?


Yeah... a silly post, I know.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Re: Metacrap

Cory Doctorow wrote Metacrap: Putting the torch to seven straw-men of the meta-utopia, back in 2001. I propose to help replace some of the straw men with something slightly stronger.

  • People Lie - tie it to their reputation to make it possible to punish them
  • People are lazy - make it as easy as possible for them
  • People are stupid - don't expect perfection
  • Mission impossible: know thyself - put metadata creation in the hands of others
  • Schemas aren't neutral - use a folksonomy, and multiple tags, we don't need heirarchy
  • Metrics influence results - use them to encourage good behavior in the grand scheme
  • There's more than one way to describe something - there's no need to stick with a single heirarchy

I'll put more air into this if someone wants to converse about it.


it's 1AM... I should be sleeping, but the servers died.... 8(

this is the uncooked stream of thoughts written at 1AM in the morning... please excuse the length and random direction of thought...


Doc Searls is looking for a "commons" which he feels is missing. He wrote it up in a piece entitled Mashing Up a Commons, in Linux Journal. The key point for me is this quote:

But many blogs together do not comprise a commons. Blogs are private and commons are public. Many blogs are like many silos. Together they are not a farm. Nor are they public parks or plazas.

Given the current state of technology, especially the read-only nature of the web, I'd say he's right.

We can do things to change that, however. Some require radical "boil the ocean" level coding (such as adding provisions to allow adding external annotation of a web page), others are more practical.

We can't go back to the golden age before spam... so just blanket read-write pages are out for good, at least in public. The next best thing is to try to make something workable out of the massive capacity we have for one-way publishing of pages.

The web works by making external links to documents. Google and others then attempt to distill value from these links by various clever methods. The system at present is however, one dimensional. Any given page is iteratively given a value (PageRank in the Google universe), to help determine which pages are worthy.

The single dimensional ranking has proven to be surpisingly useful in many cases, but has no value in helping to solve the problem of the missing commons. A more powerful set of expressions are necessary to help enable discourse, and conversation than the simple popularity contest of rank.

.... pause to check on servers....

A true public commons is a space to hold a conversation. The textual nature of blogging, and the need to write everything out, is severly limiting for many reasons.

There are many aspects of a face to face conversation that are lacking in online documents. One does not hear the intonation or emotional cues of the author. We've evolved smileys and other devices to partially get around things, but it's still an issue. (I never write emails about things that involve potential conflict, always opting for the telephone instead)

You can't simply mark up a web page with blogging tools. There's no way to highlight a section, and add a note, as you can with paper.

There's no way to just simply say "I agree" with something, without firing up the blog, and doing a bit of writing.

There's no way to hint to the search engines that something is interesting, insightful, funny, wrong, dangerous, or spam.

it goes on and on....

We need a way to make all these little assertions, and to tie our reputation to them. I'm open for any and all ideas to make that happen.

.... more server checking.... backup almost done ...

One of the reasons blogs really took off is because they have an embedded reputation mechanism. Only the owner(s) of a blog can write to it. This has the net effect of giving each and every post an assertion of the owners identity and reputation. It worked well enough to get network effects going, which then lead the toolmakers to help reduce the friction, and things worked nicely for a while.

Blog posts are text with embedded reputation. There are people and search engines that collect and categorize them into useable collections.

Imagine being able to add your own set of data to any given web page, file, photo, movie, or decernable chunk of data.

What's really needed here is a working system for meta-data. Since the potential value is much higher, the need for some form of reputation embedded is absolute.


I'm tired... I hope some of that makes sense...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

"No anonymous assholes. Yeah!"

Playing around with Twitter... came across this from Robert Scoble:
@jowyang: I like Twitter more than blogging. No anonymous assholes. Yeah! But only 140 chars. Booo!

The problem with Blogging isn't anonymous blogs... it's only when it gets ground up in an aggregator that things become an issue. When you deal with one blog at a time, and prune your own sources, you quickly and efficiently recognize spam, and keep it out. This is a very large negative feedback signal to the spammers, with a gain of almost minus infinity.

Search engines and other aggregators have no such filtering. Aside from the very long term PageRank feedback from Google on their periodic updates, there is no way to send negative feedback though an aggregator.

If we can restore the feedback path, we can help kill spam dead, in all forms.

All ideas on how exactly to do that are welcome...

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Here's my first try at a folk trust listing... defintely not my last

owner: mikewarot
owner: ka9dgx
reads: daily
reads: read=daily, spam=0%,owner=docsearls #local variable?


# you get the idea... I hope, that there may be many ways to do this, and right now I'm just fishing for any and all ideas


# etc, etc, etc... I'm not sure if a # followed by space should be a comment marker, improvise at will
tags: web2.0, commons, vrm, open, free, public, idea, meme

Evolving a Commons

Yet another Doc Searls related post for the day....

Doc feels that we don't have a "commons" in which to gather. The issue of ownership seems to be the big sticking point. I think that there are many commons already out there, but their value has been destroyed by spam in various forms. Off the top of my head here's a list
  • Email
  • Usenet news
  • IRC
  • WWW
  • Gopher
  • Freenet
  • BitTorrent
There are literally thousands of ways that the ends of the internet can be used, to broadcast content. Each and every one of them immediately comes under pressure from spam, the minute it opens, due to the anonymity and the lack of a reputation infrastructure.

Instead of trying to bottle up CRM, flipping it over, and calling it VRM... why not solve the general problem, and build a workable, public, open, Folk standards based reputation system?

If we could do so, then we can ressurect the value of these existing, working systems.

Let's discuss and build our own reputation folksonomy. We'll start simple... make a blog post named folktrust001, with the metatdata you think people might find valuable, in plain english. Use one assertion per line, please.

Everyone interested in helping to get it going will then read it (via google blogs, technorati, or other means)... and start to figure out how to get it all in a standard format that computers can read.

How does that sound? A simple first step.


Beyond Google

People are fascinated by the success of Google, and their PageRank algorithm (and associated behind the scenes tweaking to keep it working)... and want to duplicate their success.

The barriers to entry for that particular field (search ranking based on implied data) are sufficiently high that you just aren't going to be able to get there. It's doubtful that even Microsoft has enough resources and resolve to do it.

The next big thing is to enable a new type of metadata system for internet. It needs more horsepower, new algorithms, and has the potential to actually kill spam dead.

Doc Searls asked the question that got me started on this thread... and I posted the first rev of this brainstorm there in response. But I'm going to take it a step or two further here, because my answer there can be generalized to a far larger and wider set of problems.

Google distills out value from the internet in terms of an artificially derived reputation system, sometimes called PageRank.(TM?) I propose a more direct and explicit system of reputation and trust, which could be of far greater value.

First of all, we'd need a way of making assertions and commentary on existing content. (This is a long term grevience of mine, as HTML doesn't actually allow MarkUp in the strictest sense). This could be done with RSS, agregated locally, or any of dozens of other ways... as long as it's available to the systems ranking results BEFORE the end user sees them. (Could be local, google based, or anything in between)

The assertions would need to be machine readable, and digitally signed. Some of the english language equivalents might be:
  • I think this article is 100% right, and I'm Mike Warot
  • I trust Doc Searls 95% on this subject, and I'm Mike Warot
  • This article is 100% funny and 0% informative, and I'm Mike Warot
  • This author is 100% spam and I'm a member of the spam fighters trust (PGP Key)

Once those assertions (and signatures) are gathered up (once again, the mechanism can vary all over the map), the real work begins, building a mesh of them. This would be messy, and I'm sure there are a ton of ways to optimize it and distribute it across hardware.

The value is then you can combine this web of reputation and assertions with the World Wide Web of content to get a knowledge representation that has far greater value that the content alone.

Imagine a FireFox add-in that allowed you to rank pages, their authors, and the sites they appeared on, as you finished reading them. The results of this could be stored locally, or shared, depending on your preferences. You could then have your own private set of things you never want to see again (ala AdBlock Plus), or have things from more trusted sources appear with a different font to indicate the source's level of trust.

The next step up is to allow you to re-sort Google's output (or someone elses) based on your set of ratings and preferences.

This same set of infrastructure could work on Email to help kill spam dead.

The first group to get it done and working right can count on at least matching the value of Google, if not doubling it. Wouldn't it be nice if it were just a set of open standards?


Teach Computer Science to Congress!

Congress: A body that likes to Legislate first, and hold hearings if it doesn't work out.

We can now place the blame for the upcoming DST 2007 mess squarely on Fred Upton and Edward Markey. I came across this clue

The blame for this fiasco lies squarely with Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, and Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, for sponsoring the amendment to the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The amount of energy saved is miniscule at this time of year (unlike in summer with its longer days) and the disruption they have caused to computer systems and transportation schedules (especially airlines) is phenomenal.
This points to the very strong need for source control in Congress. We should apply the lessons of 60 years of computer science to the legislature. Read throughs should be manditory, for example. A bug tracking system to help minimize unintended consequences would also be quite helpful.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Happy Bear Day!

It's February 30th.... Bear Day.

Bear is a running gag in the family... he was complaining about not having a special day of his own... so we picked February 30th (as to avoid it... but the gag took a left turn)

So... to celebrate Bear Day... we made a video...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Betrayed by Microsoft yet again!

I went through a ton of work to build a feature into an extranet application to allow clicking on a link to open a FOLDER which the end user could drop files into. It would well and was very useful, thus worth the additional pain of forcing IE6 as a requirement.

What does Microsoft do with IE7? BREAK IT!

The username and password were embedded into the URL, for example (not a live one):

Would open a new folder in IE6.. but no more.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

National Guard not allowed to Guard our Nation

How ironic:

Six to eight gunmen — possibly heading for Mexico with drug money — approached a group of Tennessee National Guard troops at an overnight observation post Jan. 3 on the U.S. side of the Arizona-Mexico border. No one fired a shot, and the confrontation ended when American troops retreated to contact the Border Patrol. The gunmen then fled into Mexico.

But the incident made some National Guard commanders nervous enough to move up training dates for handling hostage situations. And some lawmakers have questioned why the rules prohibit soldiers from opening fire unless they are fired upon.

To summarize... the National Guard is not allowed to actually Guard our Nation. We're repeating VietNam.... in Arizona????


Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Well, our clueless leaders have done it to us again... acting without considering the consequences. I just got the lovely and informative notice from Microsoft that DST2007 is fast approaching. All of our computer systems may or may not be 1 hour off for two months of every year from now on.

To further add to my particular misery, having only started to recover from my laptop woes, and server hell... they add this festive bit of news:
Windows 2000 has passed the end of Mainstream Support and will not be receiving an update without Extended Hotfix Support.
What this means is that I now have to manually patch my OS on my main servers, and many of the workstations. I then have to try to do all the work that Y2K gave us... in the space of 1 month!

It should have been called the Software Sales Support act of 2006.

I think my strategy will be to move everything to the "Indiana" time zone, so that I only have to now MANUALLY update the system clock twice per year instead of 4 times!


Saturday, January 27, 2007

LaptopJenny replacement arrives

It took a while, but the new laptop is here... an HP DV6000, which seems to be working well for the most part. I've got to figure out why it shuts off the WiFi with the lid closed... otherwise its perfect.

I've missed having a computer to call home.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

It's the context

I tried Google Reader over the weekend... in yet another attempt to see why Doc Searls finds RSS readers so incredibly valuable... it played a bit... and left it cold.. just like all the other times I tried out an RSS reader.

It's dawned on me that the reason I don't "get" RSS... is that it has negative value for me. RSS is great if you just want to consume as much content as possible... but I like to keep things in context.

Context is a very important factor in the process of taking raw data and turning it into knowledge. Its also a very powerful antiseptic for spam. That's why I'm willing to put up with the inefficiencies of seeing things twice or more, manually pruing a tree of bookmarks, and manually typing in some important URLs from time to time, including: (Lets see how many I get right)
I've been going through the whole HP laptop saga, along with server games at work... so I've been using a lot of temporary workstations lately... you get used to this. I finally got my desktop machine at work back in shape... it's nice to be able to have a context for things that'll be stable.

I think we need to remember what the original foundation of this is... WWW... World Wide Web... it's the connections and linkage that make things valuable. Google couldn't work without it, and neither would Blogs, Podcasts, or any of the other things we're now building into social layers and infrastructure on top of it.

It's a value subtractive process to strip away context, with the added costs of spam and system gaming that can take place once there's absolutely no identity tied to anything.

Just like in real estate... it's all about Location, Location... and Location...

The web is all about it as well.

Thanks for your time and attention.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Kill Save!

A while ago I took Michael O'Connor Clarke's advice and started

We did the basic Manifesto... and let it all slide... in the now standard Web 2.0 slacker way.

Here's another case on why we need to Kill the "save" "feature"....

“Now dear, I’m done with the edits, but when I go back to the email and click on the attachment, I just see the original stuff my editor sent me, and I’ve done all this work and I don’t know where it went.”

“Dad, where did you save it to?”


Why in the heck should he have had to save it??? Can't the programmers default to saving a journal after every few keystrokes, in a known location?

Ugh! It's time for the "save" feature to die!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Bad merchandise and VRM

Just got LaptopJenny back from HP... and it's broken!

It shuts itself off after about 5 minutes of use... clearly they screwed up a heatsink or something.


I wonder if situations like this are part of the Doc Searls vision of VRM. A way for use to pool our data (ratings and reviews) outside of the vendor silos. I certainly hope so.

We could also use to to gather intelligence of what our CongressCritters are doing. ;-)

I'm tired of being a powerless pawn.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Virgina as Mona Lisa

Originally uploaded by --Mike--.
All thats missing from this is landscape in the background.

Happy is the man with a good Wife... and a good Daughter. 8)

My HP DV5030US woes continue

LaptopJenny is still waiting for the repair... despite being promised back to me by December 6, 2006. It's the third display failure, exact same symptoms:
  • Vertical stripe on the left edge which makes it look like the sync isn't quite right
  • Position and pressure sensitivty in the upper left corner of the frame outside the display
  • Total loss of video... resulting in vertical striped wallpaper.
I've had this laptop for a little less than a year... a fact which HP insists on pointing out everytime they try to "upsell" me extended warranty coverage (which won't cover the display if (when!) it breaks again).

I've found out that the reason for the delay is a shortage of the part required for the repair. I'm assuming its a mechanical design problem causing the LCD module to break from stress... but I'm no mechanical engineer... so I might be wrong.

I spent about $1500... got about 3 months real use out of it... before losing everything... twice! (HP says that my data is safe... but reformats it every time).

I'm going to save my pennies and get an Acer... they used to be shit in the 80s... but seem to deliver good bang for the bucks these days.