Saturday, January 31, 2009

high resolution displays, netbooks, iphones

These are notes that I was going to turn into a full blog post. They've been sitting as draft for a while. Then I just realized: hey, this is my blog. I can just publish notes. So, blah:

ibm 200dpi display prototypes

dpi of laser printers vs dot matrix

(selling inkjets vs dot matrix @ future shop)

solve the netbook tradeoff - small screen size now means not much information tradeoff. but what if you could get 1400x900 res on a 12" netbook?

compare that res to iPhone display and tell me people would have a hard time with that.

pixels = productivity

My Kindle 2.0 wish - "one more thing..."

Dear Amazon - I hope that at your super secret Feb 9 press conference, you tell us about the next version of the Kindle - and then I want Jeff Bezos to say:
"There's one more thing...

...a Kindle app for iPhone."
I'd love to see some competition with Stanza!

(Did you see that one million people have downloaded Stanza? Yikes!)

Netbook or notebook?

jkOnTheRun poses a poll question: netbook or notebook?:
"I grab a notebook and head out the door to work quite a bit and it seems that each time I do so I have to give pause and decide what gear to take with me. On the one hand I usually have a netbook to take, small and light and powerful enough to handle most of what I need to do. On the other hand I can grab a full notebook like the MacBook and take it instead."
As I commented there: I go with a netbook if I’m going to be moving around pretty much constantly, AND only need to do writing/note-taking/email/web.

But if I’m doing “heads-down” technical work - getting in the zone and grinding for a few hours straight - I really want a bigger window into my work. I need a powerful system that can run a bunch of specialized tools, maybe a VM or two in addition to the host OS, and let me view a bunch of information all together.

That spells bigger screen, higher resolution (at least 1440×900-ish), plenty of RAM (I prefer 4gb) and disk space to handle those VMs, and a relatively powerful multi-core CPU (Intel Core 2 Duo at least).

So - my perfect scenarios for netbook use are:

1. At a conference. You’re walking all day, moving from room to room, and taking notes, IM’ing or emailing the whole time. A super-light machine that fits in a small bag, has long battery life, super fast sleep/wake, and great mobile connectivity is perfect here. That's a netbook to a T.

2. A short business trip that is mostly f2f meetings and staying on top of email/IM/web communications.

3. Just running out to the coffeeshop, library or whatever for a change of scene.

4. A machine to take home to check email in the morning if I’m not rushing into the office. (This last scenario is pretty much competely unneeded now that I’ve got decent webmail from work.)

I’ve been using proto-netbook-like PC’s back since the PowerBook 100 got closed out at Costco for $900. I’m super excited that this looks like the year they breaks through into the mainstream.

Imagine, the Newton finally made it (iPhone), eBook readers (Kindle, Sony) and now netbooks too. What’s next?

I hope the answer will be Sandbenders.

I do expect we'll start seeing some super-cool tablets in a few years when OLED displays make the display part super-sleek. An HP 2730p tablet form factor but with a display only 3mm thick sure would rock....

Rhapsody can't count, doesn't realize that Firefox 3 *IS* "Firefox 1.5 or higher"

I used to be able use Rhapsody on my Mac in earlier v3.0x versions of Firefox, but now it whinges at me:

Still works fine on Safari. But I want my unlimited music in Firefox darn it! It's Saturday morning, the house is quiet, the bills are paid, and I've got a fresh pot of coffee. Let's get this done.

Hmm, let's see if I can repro this problem on another instance of Firefox.
Fire up VMware, boot my old XP VM - it still has Firefox 2 installed, so is a very good test case.
Rhapsody on FF2 works.
(FF2 nags me, as it should, to update to FF3 as FF2 is no longer being patched.) I update to FF3, and...
Rhapsody works.

Ok, so it's not a general problem. What's different about FF3 on my MacBook Pro?

Let me check the user-agent strings from both the XP and Mac instances of FF3. That's usually where apps check to see what browser version you're running check before coplaining about the browser version you're using.

Handily, there's a website for just this purpose.

Oh, Ubiquity threw an extra item into my user-agent string, that seems to have wigged out Rhapsody.

No problem, easy enough to fix that with the incredibly useful User-Agent-Switcher Firefox extension.

And voila Rhapsody works again on Firefox on my Mac.

(PS: did you notice I snuck a lesson on troubleshooting user-agent string problems into this blog post? Can't help it. I'm a bit of a pedant you see....)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Fail Whale for

This post was updated Feb 1 with additional information! See the bottom of the post.

We're upgrading from Live Communications Server 2005 to Office Communications Server 2007. This morning, our valiant OCS admin and the perimeter and network folks got the Edge Servers and the assorted firewalls, proxies and load balancers humming in perfect harmony. I can at long last run CoMo 2007 (Communicator Mobile) in my production environment!

Well, nifty – all I need to do is go download it onto my Windows Mobile phone. What's the URL? Happily I have my real computer with me at the time. Let's see, ah, yes that's right! They set up an easy-to-remember and easy-to-type URL that will take you right to the download. Very nice, especially for Windows Mobile users who have a very hard time of it typing in URLs (and a very difficult time navigating the rest of Microsoft's websites, for that matter). What was that URL again?

Aha, that's it – ! How simple! Great! I'm just minutes away from having enterprise IM in the palm of my hand! (And I just love my enterprise IM!)

Whip out my Moto Q9h, and… hmm, that's funny, the page is blank. No error message or anything, just a blank screen.

Try it from my iPhone. Ah, pocket Safari at least gives me an error message.

Eh? Server cannot be found? That can't be right. Try it from my laptop:

Ok, there's got to be some sort of temporary outage or something. I'll try again at lunch. And…nope.

Hmm, what's up with that?

That's no good! Well maybe we're just not asking the right DNS server. Easywhois, tell me, who does DNS for

Ok, NS[1-5].MSFT.NET, where should I find

Well there's your problem, ma'am:

So: to Microsoft and the team, this fail whale's for you!

Get well soon! Feel free to post a comment here when you get this fixed. :-)

Bonus link: the inspiring true story of the Fail Whale.

PS: I did open a case with Microsoft Premier Online. The case confirmation number is SRZ090130000453.

Updated Feb 1
: I received the following response from Premier:
"The web page says you can download the COMO version R2 from where R2 is not yet released. Its proposed release date is Feb 3rd but not sure until its released. In the same page on the right had side you have a link to Download the 2007 version of Communicator Mobile. Here is the link to download the COMO 2007. Please let me know if you have any questions. Have a nice day!"
Excellent! Now, I can just google for "getcomo". First result for "getcomo" is this page, so I can use the download link above! :-)

I guess it turns out that Microsoft was just a little premature posting the original page that says that you can download the R2 client from before that website is even available.

So this really shouldn't be a fail whale for but instead for whoever updated that web page out of sync with the actual product release. I'm very sympathetic - process problems are all too common. This wasn't a technical mistake or system problem with Microsoft's infrastructure. So by updating this post I hope it sets the record straight.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

LibX - Seattle Public Library Edition

So you're surfing the web, and you see mention of some cool book. You want to see if it's available at the Seattle Public Library. So, you:

  1. Select the title
  2. Copy it
  3. Open a new tab
  4. Go to
  5. Paste the title into the search box
  6. Click Go
Oh my goodness, that's WAY too much work! If only there was an easier way!

Fret no more, dear reader. LibX to the rescue! Install Libx Seattle Public Library Edition in your browser, and now your book-hunting life will be as easy as:

  1. Select the title
  2. Right-click and choose "Search Seattle Public Library"

If you use the Seattle Public Library, please try this out and let me know how it works for you!

I've only got title, keyword, and subject search going so far. That's plenty enough to right-click the name of a book in a book review and choose "search Seattle Public Library for [book title]."

In theory LibX editions are auto-updating so if you install now, when I do add ISBN support, you'll get it automagically.

Suggestion: I don't really care for the toolbar that gets added into the browser, and you don't need the toolbar to get the right-click goodness. To hide the browser toolbar:
In Firefox do View - Toolbars and uncheck SPL LibX. Or just hit F9.
In Internet Explorer right-click on the toolbars and uncheck LibXbar

Tip: start trying this before clicking "buy" at Amazon! The money you save could be your own....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Windows 7 beta: 1. Windows Vista Service Pack 2 beta: 0.

I used VMware Fusion on my MacBook Pro to install Windows7 beta, and it worked great.

Tried the same with Vista Service Pack 2 beta: FAIL.

Related: TechArp says it looks like MS is delaying the release date for SP2 by a month and is planning to add an extra build and iteration to handle a last round of critical bug fixes. This is a good conservative move but I doubt they'd be doing it if SP2 was looking as good as Win7 looks right now.

The actual release candidate build has now been delayed till March. The RTM build of Service Pack 2, which was originally scheduled for April, has been delayed until sometime in Q2, 2009. That means a launch in either May or June, barring any further delays.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Re: Instant Outlining

Dave Winer, talking about how the team that built Radio 8 was very productive because of their use of Instant Outlining says:

You also had to have a workgroup ready to use it, and that may have been the biggest reason it didn't gain traction. It wasn't hard for us to find individuals who were turned on by the idea, but when they in turn had to convince their co-workers to use the tool, that's when it fell down.

My comment was:
I hope everybody pays attention to this part of it, which Dave you are QUITE right to point out: "You also had to have a workgroup ready to use it".

I'm actually seeing, in the world of enterprise IT, a decent correlation between A+ "gets things done" types (that's a Joel Spolsky reference, not David Allen's GTD) and "eager to try new tools and -- for those that work -- willing and able to adopt and use new tools effectively".

I don't think it's a causal link, and I certainly don't think it is anywhere near a 100% correlation.

But if I was building a team today, I'd be looking for this, in addition to other requirements.
Originally posted as a comment by fullerbecker on Scripting News using Disqus.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Beta 1 is not safe. But it is reasonable.

In the Windows 7 beta newsgroup, a certain Mike asked:
MikeXXXXXXX wrote:
> How long should people wait until we start testing say, internal house tools
> against Windows 7? Is it safe to assume that if we were to modify our
> applications to work with Beta 1, that they would work with the final
> bug-free?
My response:
It depends.

My experience is, the more of a straight ahead application it is, the
more it does stuff in standard ways and not in some weird legacy
freakish kludgey way, the less likely it's going to be to break.
Lower level stuff (vpn clients, antivirus, various sorts of drivers)
historically seems a more fragile from build to build.

If you're asking safe in terms of "my boss will frown mightily at me
if I waste dozens of people's time, and I'll be first on the list for
the layoffs that are surely coming next quarter" - then NO it isn't
safe to modify your apps for Beta 1.

But if you would get some huge benefit out of having those internal
house tools ready for use on Win7 ASAP, and it wouldn't cost you an
unreasonable amount if you did have to do it over, it's probably
reasonable to go for it.

It all depends on what sorts of risks you're willing to tolerate, and
what kinds of benefits you stand to gain.
And a follow-up:
Do your apps work with Vista? I'd say if an app works with Vista but doesn't work with Windows7, that's a little dicier than if the app doesn't work on either.

That was a little convoluted. If the app works on Vista, and is broken on Win7, then it was something that changed back in Vista that you need to fix for. That code is probably going to remain consistent through the Win7 beta. (I'm just speaking in terms of likelihood and rules of thumb -- this isn't a scientific fact.)

But if it was something that worked in Vista and is only breaking now in Win7, then you're definitely working with some code that's changing. It might be just done with changing, but it was recently in motion and probably hasn't settled down yet.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Schneier on Security: Biometrics

Schneier on Security: Biometrics
The biometric identification system at the gates of the CIA headquarters works because there's a guard with a large gun making sure no one is trying to fool the system.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Office Communicator 2007 install error: The file 'eulamsdnrtf' cannot be installed because the file cannot be found in cabinet file ''

I couldn't find a clean solution for this error message either via JFGI or by searching the fine MS KB, so for your Googling pleasure:

If you install Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 (MOC 2007) on a machine that already has MOC 2005 installed, when you launch MOC 2007, you may see Windows Installer run to configure MOC and then display this error message:
"The file 'eulamsdnrtf' cannot be installed because the file cannot be found in cabinet file ''. This could indicate a network error, an error reading from the CD-ROM or a problem with this package."

Restarting will allow MOC 2007 to launch successfully and log in, but when you try to initiate a text chat, you will get the same 'eulamsdnrtf' error.

To fix this:
  1. Quit all instances of Communicator.
  2. Use Add/Remove Programs on W2k/XP (Programs and Features on Vista/Win7) to remove all versions of Communicator.
  3. Then (re)install MOC 2007.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Windows 7 works just great in VMware Fusion

Specifically, VMware Fusion 2 on a Santa Rosa MacBook Pro that has a 5400rpm 500gb HD and 4gb of RAM.

The VM has 1gb of RAM and 1 CPU allocated to it.

I'm not getting the 'glass' video effects but that doesn't really matter to me at this point.