Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Adobe to the front of the vulnerability line (again)

Adobe is quickly becoming the thorn in my side, I cannot stand that they do not offer an enterprise patching solution. I am starting to think that I need to find a non-Adobe product to use for sending documents. I could choose xps, at least vulnerabilities in that can be patched via automatic updates and WSUS. I was going to abstain from Silverlight too, but I am starting to think if Air+Flash+PDF become the defacto, or even widely accepted, I am going to have to roll my own Adobe auto-update deployment utility. If only Adobe would put the latest msi of all of their products out on their site, I would be able to to push it via group policy.

Adobe it is time to grow up, you power many businesses, Microsoft actually requires that contracts be sent via PDF rather than fax as a "green initiative" for some of the dealings I have had with them(in fairness the contracts in question sometimes are hundreds of pages and they redo them daily as the event gets closer). You need to offer an enterprise console that allows me to point my client machines to a update server. I would prefer that it could be run on any port, and just run as a standard web service, that I can schedule update checks, and silently install them on my users machines. This is your responsibility, and you have avoided it for way too long.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Still hot, make some lighter fair

I still think it is hot, so after a little jaunt to the gym I warmed up some Rajma, Jasmine rice, some Gyro meat, Mediterranean Flavored feta, and pocket-less Pita Bread. I think it was nice, and pretty light all thing considered. The food was hot, but it didn't have an overall warming affect as I didn't stay hot for long.

Bravo gizmodo

Gizmodo is a blog about gadgets; gadgets and anything that is slightly perverse, often behaving like hooligans, or badly mannered children it is the blog that I begrudgingly read for some balance to Engadget's breathless gadget whoring. I won't say that I find them to be an upstanding member of their community, nor would I say that they don't like to lord secrets over their readers in a nahnah nah fashion, but I will say that they offered the most sincere and human reaction I can imagine to the iPhone suicide, and have been hard at work digging up the back story of a major manufacturer of goods bound for US shores.

This last week Gizmodo, may well have been your finest hour. If you could carry some of this startling behavior into an everyday reporting you well could be considered journalists, not mean, weed smoking, pervs with a technology fetish.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

It is hot!

Too hot for eating full meals at the very least so the wife and I settled for fruit smoothies, cheese and crackers and a Santa Claus melon from Central Market. I have never had one of these before, it is a bit like Honeydew but I prefer this flavor to the Honeydew.

I wonder how people in the extremely hot climates gain weight? It is so hot that I don't want to eat at all, I would be surprised if I managed to get more than 2000 calories today. The heat makes me miss a friend in a very hot climate, hope she managed to keep cool.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Remote listening devices

Scary, probably true article from a few days ago about the ability to listen to the output of a keyboard (assuming ps/2) by tapping into the electrical grid nearby. In an office building I think that there is some deflection in that there is a solid chance that there are several people typing at any given moment, so it is likely to be a little harder to isolate one signal from another. Some of the Slashdot commenters pondered if this is what a few unfunded researchers where able to come up with just consider what the NSA would be able to to. I thought this dated article would help those people sleep at night. The Van Eck's effect is the rather interesting ability to use get the information from CRT's and LCD's. The Wikipedia Article about the Tempest project that investigated the phenomenon and tried to secure assets against it, has no information on the active use of this technology for intelligence gathering, but is interesting in its own right. Either way, it is an interesting extension of old research and just further illustrates the relative insecurity of computers.

Slashdot via Network World

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

10 years come and gone

Hard to believe it, but 10 years ago I was a fresh faced youth just graduated from High School. I attended my reunion, and was struck by how little of my feelings for the place and people had changed. Everyone was similar, and progressed to basically exactly where you would have thought they would. I suppose what I was most struck by is how nothing was different, even me.

10 years is a long time, and I don't feel like I have walked very far at all in that time.

Another Gem from the reunion was a letter to myself, the letter was filled with a lot of the hopeless dreaming I always do, and a picture of a friend that had died the summer before in 1998. It was a picture and a memory that I could have lived without, not because of any stirring of emotion for her unfortunately, but because it made me sad that I thought then that I would want that now.

I really was a dark child, wasn't I?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wine for the confused

Oh Hulu, how I do love the crap out of your site. Any how not related to much of anything at all, but I wanted some embed action on the site so here you go John Cleese explains wine.

Reimage.com support software

Given the number of people that I give casual support to, I am often on the look out for solutions that allow me to support them without having to go to their homes and troubleshoot. My current weapon of choice is Logmein; which saves them having to know their IP address and lets me show them the steps I am taking to complete a task. This type of scenario works well for the high-speed internet users in your life, but is not a very great solution overall given that it relies on their internet connection being in a working state, and still requires my time to correct issues. I found this company Reimage.com from an ad link in a technology feed that I read and was wondering if anyone had used their product and could attest to how well (or poorly) it works. It seems that it would be a decent product to base a tech support business on, provided that it was functional and added support of vista/windows 7 in the near future. I realize that some people are not keen on it, but I have been running Vista for sometime, now on modern hardware with no issues (legacy support is a different story).

The idea seems pretty simple that you install the software and it runs a diagnostic to determine what parts of XP are broken and attempts to download the working pieces off their repository. Seems like it would be a workable scheme, but the pricing is interesting. I realize if they offered a just one for free plan that most customers would never end up paying, so I am don't fault them for their monetization plan. I will likely give it a go for the single license and use the money back guarantee if I am not satisfied with the outcome.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Alternative Music from out east a bit

I am a fan of alternative rock and have been listening to a couple of internet radio stations to get my fix of up and comers that 107.7 here in Seattle is not playing. Woxy.com really is the station that I use to find interesting bands of late, so I thought I would share. I am not sure how long I have been subscribed to the Woxy Lounge act feed, must have been some time in 2005 or 2006 and though there are some real misses in there man have there been some great finds. The first time I heard The Silversun Pickups was on WOXY, they hit big about a year or so after that (sound similar to Placebo to me). Any how, give them a listen, and browse the archive, it is fun to get new music to listen to in your RSS reader from time to time.

Monday, July 13, 2009

tech savy

This is a photo of the reset button that was located under the battery of a Creative Zen Media Center Portable that I am getting ready to sell. The reason I show this is that I was struck by the things that I just do, that would have overwhelmed most consumers, to keep electronics running. This device has not been plugged in for such a long time that it was fully dead, it wasn't in deep power sleep or something it had no juice. I plugged in the power supply and the charge light did not come on, so I started by checking the voltage output on the charger to ensure that it hadn't gone bad. I got out my multimeter and striped a wire because the charger was a barrel connector type that required positive voltage to be measured from inside where the probe on my multimeter would not reach. After verifying that the charger was giving steady 5v output, I pulled the batter cover off and lifted the batter to see if the posts on the battery had corroded. Realizing that Li-poly batteries don't corrode, I started looking for a hard reset button and found it while I had the cover off. This immediately started the unit and the charge light came on when I re-inserted the battery. I didn't read a manual or do a google search on why there was no power I started to troubleshoot, and was totally fine with not only the process but the outcome.

Most consumers would have come to the conclusion that it was broken, and called the manufacturer. Given how far out of warranty this device is, they would have been frustrated by the general lack of support they would have been offered, and likely would have pitched it into the landfill or sought help from a whiz-kid via craigslist (assuming they even knew that you could get that type of help). I came to own a Samsung Media Center portable under very similar circumstances, the owner never figured out how to turn it on. Apparently the device shipped in "locked" state. Flipping over the device there was a cover that exposed a hard "on/off" switch, sliding the switch to on, and pressing the power button on the front brought the device that he thought was broken to life. These are engineering decisions that lead the consumer to be confused and annoyed, often to the point that they give up. Apple certainly makes CE devices that are better about this than most. They are not flawless for instance because there isn't the familiar power button leave my mother baffled how to turn off her iPod. Sure it will go to sleep eventually so you could just lock it and it will time out, but she didn't know that.

These type of design logic flaws come up again and again, the 30gig Zune for instance when you plug it in after the battery has completely drained does not begin charging, but rather displays a image on the screen that does not mean anything to the user. After unplugging the device and getting it to power on you can plug it in to resume charging, the device will not charge fully with the unintelligible symbol displayed. This is a design/logic flaw, that took me a few minutes of troubleshooting after letting the device charge for half the day, and booting it up to find that I did not have anywhere near a full charge! After the device was up and running it started to rapidly take a charge, but not until the software had initialized. Never having owned an iPod, I asked and was not tickled to hear that they handle the low power state much more elegantly. I own the original 30gb zune so I cannot speak to if the new ones handle it better, but it is a pretty glaring error in my opinion.

I hope that this insight sticks with me for a while when I think about the consumer experience with Electronics. I have classified most of the experience as acceptable up until recently, but everything needing to be fiddled with is starting to get old.

200th post!

Christmas sparkling cake
Originally uploaded by kjd
It has taken really way too long to get to this point, but I thought I would celebrate anyway. This should mark the 200th post, and only 6 of them are in draft. Some day I may finish those thought snippets, but today it for cake.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Loosening the TV's grip

In preparation for the arrival of our first child I have switched to basic cable as a way to encourage us to watch less "frivolous" TV. There seemed to be too much just turning on the TV and watching whatever was on, rather than choosing a few shows to watch and trying to get something done. I realized that not everyday has to be a completely filled day with measurable goals achieved, but I was sick of night after night of just coming home and turning on the TV rather than getting the house in order for the arrival of our child, or just finish some of the many miscellaneous computer projects that I have started, and just need to apply some of my time to complete.

For the first time in a long while everything north of channel 30 is snow, and I am really fine with it.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Fireworks are cool

Happy explosion day has come and passed, but the desire to blow stuff up remains!

What is a geek to do with this desire to explode things coupled with some available capital to pursue such a desire? Make fireworks and learn about the chemistry that makes them work!

In the great tradition of North Idaho and the fantastic fun that can be had trying not to blow yourself up go forth and play pyro!

Native video support for HTML 5 Scrapped

I read this Slashdot article that makes me sad. Enabling browser to natively implement the video tag to eliminate the number of plug-ins that create a broader attack surface would have been single-handedly the best step the HTML standard could have taken to protect the security of the internet. H.264 would be as poor of a choice as standardizing on mp3 for native music support (given the licensing nature of the standard). Ogg and Theora both stand as open independently developed standards that at least would not have required a royalty payment, and would have helped take us one step closer to a Flash free internet. The performance of Flash coupled with it pervasiveness make this one of my least favorite technologies, but what really gets my goat is that it takes focus (it is an application loading inside of another application) and breaks my keyboard navigation of websites.

I believe that Apples "licensing" concerns have much more to do with that they have put significant motion into supporting the h.264 codec with their video players, and are not interested in trying to duplicate that for Theora.

Monday, July 06, 2009

I met someone from AIG

This is not intended to be news, and I don't make any money on the stock market so I have no personal interest in this subject. I just encountered a person that spoke candidly about where they where at in a circle of friends. I doubt he intended it to be repeated, but thought it was weighty enough that I didn't want it to end with just me.

So friend of a friend of a friend this weekend while I was out for 4th of July festivities turned out to work for AIG. He introduced himself as working for a failed financial institution, but his friend refused to let him get away with it so lightly and insisted that he tell the whole story. He started there in September and is working in the infamous risk management group, now given his recent tenure I will assume that he was a late comer that had little to no impact on the eventual (one month later) collapse of the company; but what struck me was that he was previously employed as a mechanical engineer. It immediately jumped out to me given my business school requiring me to take a finance course that both jobs where basically just math, so learning new equations to a scientifically minded individual would be a fairly natural transition. The draw of the job was that he moved from a small boring stodgy old town to New York, and claims that the dating pool is much better. I tend to believe that this is true, and can see the appeal to someone under 30 and still single.

His insight into the company is was that given that his direct manager of the group that his is associated with has yet to directly communicate any form of strategy, or relay any info about their future path, or really do anything even remotely manager-like is an indictment of the whole management staff. His manager only arrived 1 month before the chap that is the focal point of this story did, and has yet to have a single strategy meeting with the group, much less send an email outlining what the company was going to do to pull itself up from the hard times that they got themselves into, and he theorizes that he never will. He suggests that given the amount of fuck off time he has, AIG won't be rising from the ashes. They are no longer the bankable name they once where, and are not doing anything to improve that status.

Cookbooks of interest

I have been looking at new cookbooks for a different range of foods to cook. The Momofuku[?] is interesting; the sample recipe on the Amazon page is an noodle dish, like nothing I have ever made before. I like some parts of Asian cuisine, and this seems to focus on the parts of that style that I can get my arms around.

Another book on my list is Ad Hoc at Home[?]. This book looks interesting and seems to be filled with the type of prep intensive cooking that I am coming to love.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Apps change everything

Slow again I know, but I did love this article and thought it deserved a share.

Apps for the Apple TV by Gizmodo is probably one of their best original/idea pieces the blog has produced. Not only is original and a great idea but there was no mention of boobies or anything else that makes them the blog of choice for people that are as mature as middle school kids.

Boxee on the Apple tv shows that there is value in this type of setup, and I believe makes what is a marginally underpowered, but pretty good for the price media device and makes it into the iPhone type of game changer. I think that Apple lacks the vision to pull this off, and only has the attention span to pull of one "killer product" at a time. This is likely due to Mr. Jobs egomaniac micro-management need to control the moment style of product dev that leaves little room for them to innovate simultaneously. Don't get me wrong I think that this style of management has netted them some big wins in the design of products (The original aluminum MB Pro laptops for instance) but doesn't seem to sustain great products over the long haul (current non-aluminum macbook pros), so with the iPhone been the Apple of Apple's eye I doubt you will see native app sdk on the AppleTV even though I would probably buy one.