Curiouser and curiouser!

 20 August 2004

8:22:27 AM     : The perils of XP-SP2

I read the following in a newsgroup regarding the new Service Pack 2 for Windows XP:

If you use peer2peer software the concurrent per port connections are limited to 10 unless you hack the tcpip.sys driver, if you don't and you're running bittorrent or emule your net connection will crap out and errors will display in the event log.
Does anyone know if this is true?  And, if so, how this "hack" works?

 19 August 2004

8:49:07 AM     :

Dr Doolittle Planning, Web Style. We decided on August 4th that we all needed a holiday so I dumped all my air miles and hotel points metaphorically on the desk and we proceeded with web-assisted Dr Dolittle Planning where you stick a pin in a map and go wherever it points. The process has been updtaed since Dolittle's day and we were able to visit the web sites for all the places we visited in advance. It took three attempts and while we avoided the floating island, we did end up on four others. We visited Manhattan on the way out as it was the only available route, Andros in the Bahamas where we all learned to SCUBA dive at a place called Small Hope Bay Lodge, Key West in Florida and Miami Beach. You can see all the pictures on Flickr. That was my first 100% offline break in I-don't-know-how-long. I survived. Maybe I should do it more often.

 18 August 2004

8:03:04 AM     : When is a calendar not a calendar?

Here's an example feed from RSSCalendar. Looks pretty good. [Scripting News]

I'm confused. Where is the metadata?

 16 August 2004

12:56:57 PM     : DelphiGroup: Making the case for taxonomy

I'm reading an excellent report from Delphi Group called Information Intelligence: Content Classification and the Enterprise Taxonomy Practice (see here for a download link). The gist of the report is that, for enterprises, search is not enough.

The report makes the case that whilst search technology has improved a lot in recent years, and continues to improve, the majority of professionals still find it an unsatisfactory way to work and often spend in the region of 20% of their time searching for information. Often cited problems were constantly changing information and a lack of precision about what they were looking for. The report then makes a case that introducing taxonomy based services can significantly improve performance and save money by eating into that 20%.

Whilst the report is funded by a number of companies with a vested interest in taxonomy (for example Autonomy or Verity) the case seems to be well made off the back of a credible piece of research (which is a follow-up to similar research done last year).

My summary:

  • 82% of users do not have access to a centralized point of search & information across information systems
  • The provision of a singular navigational front end (e.g. taxonomy) and omnipresent search tool that collectively aggregate disparate content resources, can, from an end-user perspective, deliver the simple single point of access that many users strive for.
  • Lack of organisation of information is the number one problem in information management & retrieval.
  • If professionals are spending 20% of their time (or more) looking for information then this results in an opportunity cost & represents a runaway expense item in many organisations.
  • Keyword search assumes you know what you are looking for & that it an often erroneous assumption.
  • 75% of people surveyed during a Yahoo market research project preferred browsing to searching.
  • In some instances it is easier to discover information about a particular subject if you see it in the context of related thought. Browsing encourages associative thought.
  • The availablity of taxonomy eliminates the need for the researcher to completely understand the subject before issuing a query.
  • Browsing via a taxonomy in essence provides an education on the subject and lends insight into the issues or facets of the subject.
  • The number one source of frustration with search of on-line content is the fact that the content they search for is constantly changing, which both frustrates the user and reduces the effectiveness of simple search.
  • Use of a taxonomy can provide a dynamic bookmark so to speak, a one-stop-shopping guide to all relevant content on a subject. Return to a subject node exposes the latest and complete collection of content about that subject area. This addresses the number one cause of frustration, the dynamic, volatile nature of information sources.
  • Navigation of a well-designed interface to information on a web site/portal automatically directs the researcher to other relevant topics.
  • The tagging effort represents another process that a business must undertake in order to obtain the benefits of a taxonomy. In some cases this could be done manually. But this approach is not easily scalable.
  • Will authors be willing or available to perform this classification manually?
  • 68% concur that the process of locating & retrieving the information needed to effectively execute their jobs is difficult and time consuming.  Not a single respondent strongly disagreed with this statement.
  • Whilst users see some improvement in information retrieval over the last 2 years, their attitude towards its level of difficulty remained virtually the same.
  • Respondents overwhelmingly pointed to the fact that business content is constantly changing and has to be continually relocated.
  • Findings pointed more towards the speed and ease of use of retrieval environments and less to effectiveness, as the primary point of pain amongst todays business people.
I think this report is very well worth reading to anyone interested in search, taxonomy, or knowledge organisation. Of course I too am baised because I think K-Collector's integrated approach addresses a number of the concerns raised by this report.

10:23:38 AM     : I'm feeling frustrated so I guess it must be anti-virus software renewal time again.

I've written before (here, here, here, and here where I am prophetic about my current situation) about my many trials with anti-virus software.  But the moment I had been dreading is here: My McAfee anti-virus subscription is about to run out.

As an aside I will say that, so far, McAfee has been good.  If it hasn't caught any viruses at least I haven't thought I had any.  It's been relatively unobtrusive even if the on-access scanner is demanding from time to time.  It also transparently started scanning my PocketPC device when I first set it up.  I guess you could say I've been happy with it.

But that time is over, gone, in the past.  I know this because, at least once per day, McAfee pops up to warn me that my subscription is about to run out.  I have a month left it says and offers me a Purchase button to renew my subscription and a Cancel button to go about my lawful business without let or hindrance.

Mindful of previous horrors (which might well have done for Dexter Ward or Randolph Carter) I have spent a few days hitting cancel and putting off the inevitable confrontation with evil.  But, today, the pressure became too great.  I had to know.

I had many expectations:

  • That I would be taken to some labyrithine website never to find the link I was after.
  • That I would be goaded to purchase McAfee anti-virus 2005 or any number of  more expensive internet security products.
  • That I would be unceremoniously dumped with a 404 after submitting my credit card details.
  • That I would be forced to transact in Zloty, Kwatcha, or Yuan.
But no.  I realise now that these were all too predictable, amateurish.  This time they have been even more devious -- the purchase button doesn't do anything at all!

I swear they make these products difficult to upgrade on purpose.  I think it's interesting that, each year, McAfee and Norton come out with exactly one new version of their anti-virus product which not only has to compete with other products but also with "upgrade last years product" and that is likely to be a cheaper option.

I hate anti-virus software and the companies that produce it.  It feels like car insurance.  I have to pay for it because I'm afraid of what will happen if i don't.  I also feel like these companies pray on that feeling.

I'd love to find a good anti-virus product from a friendly company I could trust.  Maybe Kerio (whose Personal Firewall product I just bought)?

 15 August 2004

10:23:51 PM     :

"Quote me as saying I was misquoted." -- Groucho Marx

 13 August 2004

9:06:46 AM     : My kind of ballpark

Wi-Fi everywhere at SBC park is so cool, almost makes me wish I'd gone to SF.  Of course it probably has it's dangers:

It may be a safety hazard depending on your seats; the stands are very close to the field. Imagine looking at your screen and then having a ball hit you in the face travelling at 120 MPH. Just a thought. []

 07 August 2004

12:16:18 PM     : Take Note

Todd Carter's Microsoft OneNote 2003 for Windows - 50 Book Challenge.

Microsoft OneNote 2003 for Windows (Visual QuickStart Guide)
Carter, Todd W.
A useful quickstart to using OneNote, particularly given that you're likely to get OneNote without a manual. Like most of these "manual replacement" books, the emphasis is on walking you through all the menus and options. What it doesn't provide is much in the way of guidance about how you might want to use OneNote as a component of your day-to-day work. While there appear to be books coming out now that address that issue, I would suggest you start with Chris Pratley's WebLog as a source of real insight into OneNote

[McGee's Musings]

I've been using OneNote a reasonable amount lately, particularly for taking notes at conferences (I don't have the luxury of SubEthaEditing).  If I have a complaint about OneNote it's that it doesn't provide the flexible output options that I would like -- I guess I'm still waiting for TinderBox for Windows really.

11:33:31 AM     : Mail accounts come in six-packs now

Mailinator. I love this service. Mailinator Get enough SPAM lately? Have you ever gone to a website that asks for your email address for no reason (other than they are going to sell it to the highest bidder so you get... [Get Real]

Very handy.

 06 August 2004

10:07:13 PM     : The experts have it

For £6 I signed up to Experts Exchange for a month since they were the only site that appeared to have an answer for my question about opening tabs via Javascript.  I had a sneaking suspicion I knew what I was buying and, indeed, the answer is in the negative.  Oh well.  EE looks like a good resource and I have a month to ask more questions.

An interesting side note: Most of the reasoning given for why programmatic tab control is "a bad thing" was about user choice and, yet, I am a user and I want this choice which has been denied me.

9:23:35 PM     : Javascript for open in new tab

Does anyone know a way to have Javascript code open a link in a new Mozilla tab?  What I want to be able to do is automatically add a "handle" to every link on the page which, when you click it, opens the link in a tab.

9:20:17 PM     : Sonny steals the show

Back from iRobot.  My capsule review: A film with a plot, watchable, good looking robots.  I enjoyed it.

5:14:19 PM     : iHuman

Going to see iRobot this evening with my Dad. I remember enjoying Asimov's robot stories when I read them, many years ago, but my hopes aren't high that the film will capture any of that. I do hope it will be enjoyable though.

9:24:54 AM     : JSP's get a new face

I'm keeping an eye on how to build web apps using JSPs and seeing more and more stuff about the Java Server Faces (JSF) web application framework. More here, here, and here.

12:13:00 AM     : Goodnight San Francisco

Stayed up to watch the Giants on NASN.  Boy what a mistake that was.

The "bullpen" gives up 10 runs, the offence never woke up -- Ledee going 0-4 including an inning ending double play in the 6th, and the new wunderkind Valdez gave up 4 (at least he had the pleasure of striking out Griffey).  Oh and our starter tomorrow is undecided. All in all a very dispiriting experience and, for me, a final confirmation that there will be no post season play for the Giants this year.

A mercy really.

 05 August 2004

5:41:15 PM     : Ok I guess I'm a little offended

Great Hackers.

Paul Graham has posted Great Hackers, an essay based on his keynote at OSCON.

For example, if your company wants to write some software, it might seem a prudent choice to write it in Java. But when you choose a language, you're also choosing a community. The programmers you'll be able to hire to work on a Java project won't be as smart as the ones you could get to work on a project written in Python. [2] And the quality of your hackers probably matters more than the language you choose. Though, frankly, the fact that good hackers prefer Python to Java should tell you something about the relative merits of those languages.


As someone who quite likes Java and isn't quite so keen on Python I guess i'm one of the less smart programmers around. Bummer.  Does my interest in Lisp score me any points?

10:02:22 AM     : Self.analyse()

This post is a reflection for myself about why this blog is being neglected and an attempt to draw some kind of line in the sand.

I still believe in blogging.  I blog frequently on our internal K-Collector site but for some reason my appetite to blog here has been diminished.  Partly this is a reflection of how much busier I am these days with other tasks, partly it's because my aggregator overwhelms me and I shrink away from it (which means sometimes I don't start Radio from one day to the next), and partly it's an energy thing, startups are tiring, and that energy has to come from somewhere.

I have also come to realise that there is another, more insidious, problem at work.  I think of it like an inverted house of cards. By choosing not to blog about some things we were thinking about (or working on but hadn't finished) I inadvertently made it hard to blog about any related issues, and by extension anything related to that and so on.  Soon enough there's nothing I am interested in which is left to blog!

I'm considering my next step carefully.