Related link: http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/54/25436.html
Doth the spam never end? In this clever twist, the television viewer who likely purchases a TiVo to cut through the crap that currently is entertainment TV is included in a what must be a new distributed threat: a mass-videoing. The BBC and TiVo Corporation say that the preferable opt-in method of distributing content to large numbers of people was unnecessary, because the way in which the TiVo interface and features were designed make the delivered content completely optional. They say it’s convenient. Right.
What is especially concerning is that the deal includes more of this same spamming in the future. It’s akin to sitcom bombing. The article above mentions that the content pushed down by BBC was stored on a reserved portion of the system disk and did not affect other programs the user has recorded himself. What if this goes wrong? What if I miss Baywatch because CBS decides to send Diagnosis Murder to me? What will I do if my beloved ritualistic Friends episode is replaced by… The Nanny?
I paid for the full capacity of the TiVo model I purchased, not 85% or some other arbitrary number, with the rest being reserved for others who pay even MORE money to have access to that space. What’s on my technology at home is my business and mine alone. Big Media has to respect that. But will they?
Who do you feel the TiVo is really meant for - the networks or the television viewer?
Iím a long time user of the applications that make up Microsoft Office for Windows. Like many other people I know, I came from roots in Word Perfect 5.1 for DOS. Actually it was version 4.2 that my journey into word processing began. Iíve also tinkered with MS Office on Macintosh.
Over the years, many of the companies Iíve worked for ultimately decided to consolidate with MS Office because of file sharing and compatibility. As networked computers became more common and sending an attached file was made easier with Eudora or Outlook, the need for compatibility increased. This was particularly true when many Word Documents would no longer fit on a floppy. Do you remember running across the building to share files?
Anyway, Iíve started playing with OpenOffice 1.0 and have been very impressed. So much that Iíd consider switching once Iíve tested all the features Iíve ever used in MS Office. It isn’t that I’m dissatisfied with MS Office, except for its price. Maybe Iíll start a running comparison of features across the various alternative suites. If someone has already done this, Iíd sure appreciate a note telling me where to find the results.
If you are a MS Office user, what motivates you to stay with this particular suite? If you donít use it, why do you use the suite you currently use?
Related link: http://msdn.microsoft.com/msdnmag/issues/02/07/SharedSourceCLI/default.asp
A couple of the points presented in this article are particularly important for someone who is looking to jump into this enormous amount of source code from Microsoft.
1. While the source code to the Common Language Runtime (CLR) isn’t available, the Shared Source Common Language Infrastructure (SSCLI) is almost as good for understanding much of the CLR’s core. (note that SSCLI=”Rotor”)
2. With about a million lines of code, the SSCLI can be a great way to figure out the CLR, but be warned that diving into this deep pool may be overwhelming.
3. Built to compile and run on FreeBSD UNIX as well as Windows XP, the SSCLI suddenly becomes a very interesting starting point for a variety of possibilities.
O’Reilly will have a book in late 2002 that serves as a roadmap to this code: Shared Source CLI Essentials by David Stutz, Geoff Shilling, and Ted Neward.
The excitement from keynotes, sessions, and tutorials at The O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference spilled over into the bookstore with attendees looking to build on the ideas presented during the talks. Lawrence Lessig’s book The Future of Ideas was in high demand, as was Emergence by Steven Johnson. Bruce Schneier’s classic Applied Cryptography sold out, and his latest book, Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World, garnered intense interest. Other titles of note were Self-Organization in Biological Systems by Eric Bonabeau (et. al) and JXTA: Java P2P Programming by Juan Carlos Soto (et. al).
From the O’Reilly camp,802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide and Building Wireless Community Networks stole the show. The Networking books as a whole sold well as did .NET Framework Essentials, 2nd Edition and Web Services Essentials.
Related link: http://www.microsoft.com/billgates/speeches/2002/05-22ceosummit.asp
This morning Bill Gates shared his thoughts (see link above) on some of the innovations knocking at our door. Pervasive computing certainly isn’t too far off. XML Web services, integrated information sharing, and new user interfaces are all exciting, but I do wonder if a single killer-app will be the catalyst for pulling all of this together quickly or will it be a slow evolution? How is it driven? By businesses, everyday consumers, or both?
Beyond the technology and those that cling to technology for technology’s sake, what about “regular” folks? I wonder if innovation has occurred faster than the average person’s ability to dream about how they can make their lives better, faster, cheaper - which isn’t just a consideration for business. What frustrations or pain do people have that these innovations might solve - and are they willing to pay for it?
I’m not sure I’d pay for an
href="http://www.connectedhomemag.com/">integrated Internet lifestyle in my personal life. My home is in a rural area and neither DSL nor cable is available. I could go with my satellite TV provider for Internet access, though the upfront costs and $60/month would need to solve a lot of pain to justify the expense. In my unusual situation, I live off-grid and rely on solar energy & propane. Something that is going to consume electricity 24/7 is always given an extra level of cost-benefit analysis.
Sure, I’d like to have Outlook’s address book synchronize with my cell phone the way it does with my Pocket PC, but for now I can live without it. I’d like to have a wireless
href="http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/tabletpc/default.asp">Tablet PC so I can write weblogs in bed (no goofy comments, please) using the pen or speech interfaces. Maybe I’m too cheap, thus dooming me to a life with only partial satisfaction — with my Windows 98 laptop, a browser, and a copy of Office — all which seem to satisfy 85% of what I want to do while at home. Is this next wave of innovation as significant and compelling as the Internet & E-mail was in the mid-’90s? Although I’m not convinced, I’m not writing it off. I’ll still be a relatively early adopter — just because that’s who I am.
What dreams or pain will motivate you to be an early adopter of an integrated Internet lifestyle in your personal life?
Related link: http://news.com.com/2100-1001-899161.html
As reported by CNet News.com: “Microsoft’s new C# programming language is gaining in popularity, with usage nearly doubling in the last six months, a new study shows.” Evans Data (evansdata.com)
claims that 24% of North American software developers will be using C# by next year, doubling the current 12%.
Evans does say that most are simply experimenting and testing, but I’m still not convinced that this number isn’t over inflated. If all .NET programming languages were actually equal inside the
CLR, I’d expect VB6 folks would learn VB.NET first and the Visual C++ crowd would go for Managed C++.NET. C# would likely be a secondary language for both - at least initially.
Some comments I received (posted with permission):
“I’d expect VB6 folks would learn VB.NET first and the Visual C++ crowd would go for Managed C++.NET. C# would likely be a secondary language for both - at least initially.”
This is not necessarily the case, all the VB6 developers I know started learning C# from day one, starting with the pre-beta one bits. You will also find a large portion of VB6 developers who
at one time or another tried the VC++ COM path and got frustrated. C# is a god send for those VB6 developers, I think the more experienced VB developers will move directly to C# and the newbie’s will
go to VB.Net. I thought the numbers were a bit inflated also, I would be more inclined to believe this if these were only Microsoft shops.
About your blog regarding C#; I am a developer in a medium sized company, and C# seems to be the best way to develop in the future. VB6 was a pain, and I avoided it, using instead either ASP or
PHP to develop internal apps for my company. However, now as C# is gaining market share I decided to see what all the buzz was about. I am intrigued with the language’s melding of classic
object-oriented design cues, and standardized foundation classes. Having just starting learning C# last week, I maybe a little over enthusiastic, but I think a lot of developers who hobbled along
with either VBScript in ASP or used other scripting languages to avoid the mess that was VB6 and Visual C++ 6 with MFC will be won over with the style and grace of C#.
For new .NET development: If you are abandoning your pre .NET language for C#, I’d like to hear why.
Related link: http://www.cs.umd.edu/hcil/fishcal/
For a number of years, I’ve enjoyed following the latest research into user interfaces. Many of the most interesting developments have come from Ben Bederson, who is interested in interfaces that incorporate information at different scales. (Such interfaces may involve zooming in and out to see the different scales, or distorted, fisheye views.)
His latest work is really worth noting. FishCal is an experimental calendar and datebook application for a PDA-style interface. The small screens of PDAs have always posed a formidable challenge for UI designers. By applying some of his earlier research to the problem, Bederson has, I believe, achieved a breakthrough.
FishCal incorporates a fisheye-style distortion to allow focusing on particular days or other periods of time, without losing the larger context of surrounding events. Navigation — changing the focus area to another day, or zooming in and out to change the granularity of the view — is quick and easy. Searching is much more useful than the typical PDA calendar search.
If you have a fast connection (or a lot of patience) I highly recommend downloading the 5-minute video available at the FishCal site. Only by seeing FishCal in action can you really appreciate it.
The current version has been written for PocketPC devices, and is actually too slow for use on the real PDAs (at least partly because it is written in C#). But I suspect that a carefully optimized C app would perform acceptably on high-end PocketPCs or other devices in that class, like the Zaurus.
Although FishCal may not be practical on today’s handheld devices, it certainly won’t be long before everyone’s PDA will be speedy enough to support this kind of interface. And when that time comes, I predict that most of us will be using a calendar application that is heavily influenced by FishCal.
(A final note: I’ve engaged in some Microsoft-bashing in this blog recently, and earlier this week I criticized them for not doing their homework with respect to existing research. So it’s only fair to note that Microsoft has become a stellar research company in its own right over the past few years, and Microsoft Research helped Bederson with FishCal, performing usability studies that confirm the value of FishCal’s novel interface.)
Here we are again, watching the effects of another Outlook-based email
And while this one hasn’t had the high media profile that some others
have, it is in many ways one of the worst we’ve seen. It carries a
destructive virus along with it. It sends email that appears to be
from people who aren’t even directly affected. (I received an
infected note that appeared to be from Eric Raymond. I strongly doubt
that ESR uses Outlook.)
One of the most frustrating things about the Outlook travesty is
Microsoft’s utter disregard for a fairly rich body of literature
related to sending executable code in email. In November it will be
ten years since the publication of Nathaniel Borenstein’s seminal
Mail as Network Infrastructure for Computer-Supported Cooperative
Work, which described his prototype ATOMICMAIL system (and
incidentally contains the funniest joke I’ve ever seen in a technical
paper). A year later he and Marshall Rose elaborated on those ideas
Model for Enabled Mail and their
system. By mid-1994 I was able to receive email messages containing
executable code running in a secure environment, a demonstration of
the Safe-Tcl ideas.
The original MIME standard, published in September 1993, also addresses the kind of security problems we’re seeing today.
All of that activity coincided with a flurry of other activity related
to the idea of “mobile code”: General Magic’s Magic Cap
environment for PDAs (with its secure Telescript language), the Obliq
language, Perl::Safe, and at the start of 1995, Oak (soon rechristened
None of those efforts completely solved the problems that afflict
Outlook. But they all carefully describe the dangers lurking in the
whole concept of sending embedded documents, multimedia, and executable code in email. Each of them makes
clear that the kinds of problems we now see in Outlook are inevitable
without the most careful security
Some of that was rather obscure research, it’s true. But a company as
large as Microsoft surely should have known about it. For that matter, Telescript
wasn’t obscure at all; it was widely hyped as “the next big thing.” And MIME is the standard upon which Outlook email is based.
So maybe MS did know, and just didn’t care.
I know, I know … this is just a rant. But it really would’ve been
nice if Microsoft had taken security — our security — seriously
enough to do their homework.