Monthly Archives: October 2004

Comments busted for the moment

Comments busted while i disable anonymous and enable typekey. even with blacklisting and required approval, just too much crap to deal with. I may turn off comments completely as there hasn’t been anything interesting in them in weeks and weeks.

Halloween Schedule

In case you are stopping by, here’s when props and effects will be up and running:

* Wednesday Night: 7pm-830pm. All lighting; primary fog system; Thunder & Lightning.
* Thursday Night: 630pm-8pm. All lighting; primary fog system; Thunder & Lightning.
* Friday Night: 6:30pm-9pm. Everything — all lighting, all fog, all sound systems, all props.
* Saturday Night: 8pm-930pm. Everything — all lighting, all fog, all sound systems, all props.
* Halloween Night: 530pm-930pm. Everything — all lighting, all fog, all sound systems, all props.

It's an iPod world

* Photo iPod launched — my order is in
* The Bose Sounddock — cool looking.

It is fascinating to watch Apple and Microsoft hollow out the consumer electronics industry. Apple building from the iPod base, gradually wiping out all the other audio (and video) products in the home and car. Microsoft starting from the WinXP Media Center edition, wiping out all the other home video and audio products. Then you have the content owners using DRM to force their proprietary decoder hardware into the home. A fascinating collision of giants. As much as I love Apple’s products — how is their strategy any different than the Mac strategy vs PCs, and how did that work out for Apple?

firefox share goals

From Paul Thurott, the Firefox marketing team is aiming for 10% share: Bart Decrem, the marketing contact for the Mozilla Foundation, told ZDNet UK on Friday that he expects the browser’s market share to reach 10 percent by the end of 2005. “I think we’ll get to 10 percent over the next year. We don’t have 10 percent of the Web at the moment, but we have the momentum,” claimed Decrem.

C’mon guys, get aggressive! Strike while the iron is hot. You should strive to get to 30% over the next year. If you don’t set an aggressive goal, you won’t get great results.

Around Igntion Blogs…

* Rich and John’s book launch is looking good…
* Rich points to discussion of Intel dualcore plans…I feel totally bad that we did not invest in a dualcore-focused software company, I think this would have been a great trend to latch onto.
* Martin gets the new blackberry and is reasonably happy with it
* Rich is moving to MT 3.x and has collected pointers to some problems and solutions.
* John Zagula’s thoughts on blogs, brands, and other top of mind issues.

Software roundup

* Halflife 2 coming and will require online activation — we just downloaded the new counterstrike variant with the HL2 engine — oh my god does it look gorgeous, it has toppled Far Cry as the best looking game ever — on an x800 xt anyway.
* Lamp stacks a popular notion
* Save this for later — how to fix Media Center autoplay DVD behaviour
* Monitor IM traffic on your network — if you don’t want to see it in tomorrow’s newspaper, don’t type it.
* FlightSim history — I remember the old Apple ][ cassette version, just stick figures for mountains. You could fly off the stick figure grid and just start randomly flying thru Apple ][ memory, and the game did it’s best to render the contents as stick figure geography.

Joel Spolsky on platform adoption

From interview on Microsoft Watch:

I actually don’t know what goes on in large corporations any more. But there’s something strange about SharePoint. Whenever you have a technology that’s sold only to the enterprises ? SharePoint, InfoPath or whatever ? it’s always going to be at a competitive disadvantage, in terms of mind share than something that gets sold to the whole world.

For example, nobody’s ever going to use SharePoint in college. Ever. So no startup is ever going to use SharePoint because none of the kids who leave college are going to know it. This was BEA’s big problem. Kids in college, when they want to learn about Web development, they learn Perl, PHP, maybe Microsoft’s (ASP.Net) stack. They don’t learn about Domino or BEA. So the only way those guys have hope of getting mind share in the market is to have an extensive sales force. They’re always going to be sweeping back the waves against the force of the cheap, easy way of getting started in college.

Dead on.

Interesting software this week

* WinXP Media Center 2005 unbundled — hey anyone (rich?) want to go in on a 3-pak with me?
* Raymond on WMI — this scriptomatic thing sounds cool
* fireFTP – an FTP plugin for Firefox
* Slashdot thread on VNC software — I didn’t know all these choices existed.
* Firefox tips and tricks
* 43folders — lots of cool mac software — have to buy a mac again
* Rich is playing Call of Duty UO — hey rich try Tribes Vengeance as well.
* Nanocrew blog — all kinds of good DRM avoiding links

Telephony postings

* Nimcat eliminates PBX — pretty cool, the PBX functionality is distributed throughout the phones, they autodiscover each other. too pricey tho at $300+ per desk.
* Grassroots ISP including IPTV and VOIP — a great low end ISP offer.
* Jon Udell reminds of the difference between VOIP and computer telephony and the value of computer telephony

All makes me hopeful that as we move to IP telephony, a lot of innovative energy could be freed up and applied to the market.

Nothing Like It In The World

Nothing Like It In The World by Ambrose is a good but not great recount of the building of the transcontinental railroad. A great factual overview, a good sense of the broad themes of the time and effort, but I’d have liked a little more depth on some of the characters involved.

It is very fascinating and topical in its discussion about the government incentives — land and capital — that were provided to the entrepreneurs. These incentives were tremendously lucrative, and they had many good and bad impacts — a speedy buildout of the railroad, large private capital commitments that might otherwise not have happened, an increase in the value of public lands, and a huge amount of financial abuse. It is interesting to parallel this to buildouts of our time — the internet buildout, the glacially slow buildout of broadband in the US, emerging private exploitation of space. In the broadband arena, the government has not created the incentives for rapid buildout, rather they have left the buildout in the hands of conservative incumbents and well see where we are.

For private space exploitation, the government hasn’t done much either. I wonder if we could stomach the abuses and the human deathtoll from a highly accelerated buildout — certainly the railroad was built with a somewhat cavalier approach to the lives of the workers, could we stomach this in today’s society?

On the economics front…

* Wired article about the long, profitable tail of publishing. Not shocking perhaps but a good read.
* Buy your place in a novel. $150 currently.
* Ross Mayfield on productivity and value shiftThis is accelerated commoditization, where value shifts to people; and managing risk and complexity.

Interesting to think about given the current discussion of offshoring in our economy — these links make me feel that there is plenty or work yet to do that is not readily moved offshore. It does require a different kind of education…

Cabling a new house

So my dad is building a house and wants some advice on cabling — what should he run, what topology. He is building from scratch, all the walls will be open, so he can do whatever he wants.

So based on my experience and the wise counsel of sam and rich, here is what I’d do dad.

* establish a wiring closet in your basement. All your exterior lines will enter here — phone, cable, satellite, etc.
* run all cabling in a star topology from this closet.
* as a basic cable pack, try to use standard ?structured cable? — cat5e + 2 coax, can be purchased in a single bundled cable
(http://www.cablestogo.com/product.asp?cat%5Fid=314&sku=43075) which makes install easier. With this setup you can handle 4 phone lines, gbit enet, and two video feeds (for say dual tuner tivo boxes)
* do not let anyone talk you into cat5 instead of cat5e
* make sure the coax and all coax connectors/splitters are HDTV friendly — ie 1ghz parts, not the old 900mhz parts. I had to replace a bunch of splitters on my patch panel this year to allow for HDTV signals, you don’t want to do this.
* if you have extreme video needs you may want to run additional rg6 (coax) cables to your home theater setup. Sam explains: currently, four RG6 cables are required to support unlimited DSB devices (four cables come out of the satellite dish; these are multiplexed onto a single cable for each tuner).
That number could increase as the number of LNB’s increase (currently 3 for HD DirecTV). I recommend running at least 4 RG6 cables to each location that will potentially host a multi-tuner receiver (e.g., Tivo).

* run your standard cable pack to any spot you have a tv or phone — family room, den, kitchen, bedrooms, basement, garage. For rooms that may see a lot of use — family room, office — run two or three sets.
* and I’d run an extra set of cables and leave them unused in the attic or crawlspace for the family room and office. When you remodel later and want cables in a different place, you can easily pull the unused set down.

What about wireless lan and wireless phones? Well I have a whole pile of discarded wifi and wireless phone gear at my house. I personally am unsatisfied with coverage, quality, and security/complexity. I’d reserve wireless use for particular rooms — you can always put a mini wifi access point in a room for wifi in that room if you need it at some point. But as long as your walls are open, I’d run the cabling.

What about multiroom audio? I don’t think running special analog cables is worth it, the scenarios that this supports are pretty limited. You can always slap a small pc or remote media player box like the squeezebox in additional rooms if you want access to your music collection in these rooms.

What about intelligent lighting? Well I don’t have it and haven’t missed it. Sam has some more sage advice if you want to go down this path: If home automation is of interest, I’d consider adding a control line to each switch box (cat5, for example). At a minimum, make sure power, neutral, and ground are available at every switch box (light switch-boxes sometimes are missing neutral or ground), so that powered components can be added at the box.

It's a Google Google Google Google World

* Both Paul Thurrott and Gadgetopia point towards the Gmail shell extension for Windows
* Via engadget, Google SMS launches
* Of course, the Google desktop launched and Jon Udell has found ways to let it search firefox history

Like the rest of the planet I installed the Google Desktop over the weekend. No noticeable perf drag on my system.

I had read that it would not work against network drives, but I have ?My Documents? folder pointed to a network drive and indexing worked fine, ben pointed this nice fact out to me. I’d like it to pick up some other network shares and I wonder if it can be coerced into doing so — I don’t see any ini file, the only likely seeming reg key is an empty key named CRAWL_DIRS, I wonder what it does?

As rich and ben and I discussed in email, we all noted the contrasts between the google desktop and winfs (and its intellectual precursor, ofs in cairo). Hmmm, there may be some architectural and project management lessons to be learned here. A light layer on existing storage both works and is shipping. Further benefits will accrue as developers and users provide fb, allowing google to incrementally improve and expand the facility — while winfs is still not shipping.

Halloween Status 10/17

Great progress this weekend — huge help from my dad who was visiting.

All sound systems deployed and tested. All props deployed. Most lights deployed. Pneumatic cable routed. Fog cabling deployed.

The huge outstanding work item is to deploy my dmx control system. Run cabling, hook up all dimmers, debug the control program. Oh and actually test the pneumatic effects.

A nice critique of the Buckeyes

I was ready to flail away emotionally at the Buckeyes again, but Dan over at Wizblog has done a nice job rationally dissecting the performance. I have to agree, you have to pin the current level of performance on offensive coaching staff primarily, and on Tressel for backing them up. It is time to shake up the starting lineup and the staff.