Sep 04

…is truly rubbish. Used as intended i’ve run it down from full charge in the morning to totally dead by 5pm that day. A car charger and usb cable are not optional. As much an aide-memoir to myself as anything else, these are the battery saving tips i’ve found useful. well, i now get at least a day’s charge, so at least one of them must be working!

1. Disable GPS. I only turn it on now when I need it (google maps and flickr): Options | Advanced Options | GPS. Set GPS Services to Location Off and Location Aiding to Disabled. Now I appreciate there’s some debate about whether this makes any real difference or not because GPS is (apparently) only used by applications on demand. However, because I frequently forget to properly close applications – google maps used to be on almost constantly - having it off by default suits me.

2. Same with Bluetooth (I really only use it in the car with my handsfree): Manage Connections | Bluetooth off

3. Screen Brightness – you won’t really notice much of a difference in terms of usability, so this at least can’t hurt: Options | Screen/Keyboard. Set Backlight Brightness to 10 and Backlight Timeout to 20s

4. Providing you can remember to disable this if you need to use the alarm early in the morning, use the Auto Off feature: Options | Auto On/Off set both Weekdays and Weekend to Enabled between the times that suit

5. Another controversial one – use 2G instead of 3G – theory being that this reduces the amount of network switching, and hence saves power: Manage Connections | Mobile Network Options. Set Network Mode to 2G. While you’re there make sure you have Data Services set to Off When Roaming – which really ought to be the default. My phone company currently charge a fixed £5 per day in Europe and £15 elsewhere…

google provides plenty of others, some of which are just daft - not using message notifications, ringtones or ‘power hungry’ applications (like email, im and facebook). yeah, but that’s why i, and i suspect most others, bought the thing in the first place…

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Jun 15

…and about time too! I’ve posted before about brinkster’s inability on IIS to support ‘pretty’ permalinks, and given the many issues with upgrading prior versions of WordPress on Brinkster, mostly resulting in a switch to the linux platform, had put me off attempting such foolhardy excesses. But I just happened to check today and they appeared to support the latest build (version 2.8) of WordPress (as I’m sure they have for some time, I just never noticed). So despite  the many dire warnings and consequences of old, I did it and it was a doddle (following the manual upgrade instructions). Then simply clicking the appropriate option in the Permalink settings, it all seems to work. Whether this was the result of Wordpress or Brinkster I don’t know (though given the latter’s prior intransigence on this issue, I’d prefer to think it was the former), but I’m glad for it all the same…

My point? Well, apart from the aesthetic and more human readable characteristics of a post that ends “/robbie/why-x-sucks” rather than “/robbie/?p=n”; a decent google rank clearer prefers this. That said, I’ve had a thing about ‘permalinks’ for quite some time. Ever since I wrote my first config utility that had to be reused in multiple applications and environments (using DNS resolution), but especially years ago on an internet web content management system (where I had to justify at a ’business’ meeting why we were using our own ’internal’ guid as a primary resolver). At that time there was no little debate about ‘permanent’ or ‘pesistent’ urls or purls, as they were commonly called. Both config utils and links on websites need to relate to resources with specific identities, but it’s the job of URLs to locate those, and URLs change – even if the identity of the resource doesn’t. For example when I upgraded my blog, all my post’s URLs changed. But their permalinks don’t. WordPress uses its own internal locator, so either http://www.wellitworkedlasttime.com/robbie/?p=38 or the new style http://www.wellitworkedlasttime.com/robbie/index.php/2008/wordpress-pretty-permalinks/ is equally valid. And frankly that doesn’t matter – all external cached links on google, twitter  or wherever, will be resolved providing the application is running, and that’s the point. If it’s not, the resource should be unavailable.

The idea that persistent URLs ought to exist somewhere out on ‘the cloud’ is simply wrong. I was about to add this link to purl.org, most known for its use in dublin core metatags perhaps, when I saw this:

“We have reverted back to the old purl server. Any PURLS, USERID, GROUPS, and DOMAINS that were added after 5:50 am edt on 04/07/09 have been lost. We will try to recover them, but we are not sure it is possible at this time.”

An amusing aside (yeah, persistent, my ass!), but my real issue is this from Wikipedia:

“PURLs are an interim measure — while Uniform Resource Names(URNs) are being mainstreamed — to solve the problem of transitory URIs in location-based URI schemes like HTTP. Persistence problems are caused by the practical impossibility of every user having their own domain name, and the inconvenience and money involved in re-registering domain names, that results in WWW authors putting their documents in rather arbitrary locations of questionable persistence (i.e. wherever they can get the WWW space). Existing official PURLs (on Purl.Org) will probably be mapped to a URN namespace at a later date.”

Interim? Impossible? Inconvenient? Expensive? Oh Really? A pretty lame case if ever there was one… In my view the location of a resource is best resolved at the edge, close to the resource itself, by software under the owner’s control. It’s really not that much bother…

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Jul 25

there’s nothing wrong with project managers. nor even programme managers. not per se. good people matter. but there’s an unhealthy trend in IT, one even worse than thinking the term is interchangeable with ICT.

now, in no way do i mean to do anyone down, far from it. as i say – good people matter. but just to put this into perspective: in established professions, managers are not uber high status individuals. essential, yes, in the same way caffeine and chocolate are to a technical team, but never actually in charge of an engagement.

consider the legal profession. lawyers and barristers run their cases – it is they, not their clerks that engage with their clients and present in court. similarly with accountants, buildings architects and doctors.

there is simply no way anyone would accept that a project manager in those professions could just pitch up and do the job of the professional, never-mind front a professional engagement. but apparently when it comes to IT that’s okay..?  Just imagine a PM pitching up before a judge or an operating table…

why? well clearly we technologists have yet to establish ourselves a credible profession. in fact, we’re not even close. but there’s another reason though… these days there are many managers in IT who were once (years ago) technologists.

in the other professions i mentioned, most managers are specialists in their field, not ex-technical professionals. i think this leads to a tendency to over-estimate the value such brings to a project and to expect these people can replace, if not actually lead an engagement. given that the state of our profession is so poor; risk averse organisations are more likely to place their trust in what they perceive to be experienced risk managers embedded within the traditional business structures of their organisations.

also, there is a prevalent view that technologists know shit about the business of technology… yet do we really think that GPs know less about the business of medicine than the practice administrators they employ?

good management is essential to any engagement, and brings huge value. no question. but consider the converse - under what circumstances could a technologist just jump right in and fulfil a professional manager’s role?

in my view, good technologists need to lead technical projects, and good managers need to manage those projects as directed by them in consultation with the client.

trouble is large IT companies – and their clients – being chock full of managers-cum-ex-technologists – present themselves via their ability to understand and manage the apparently difficult project or business issues that may be involved. which, apparently, their IT people don’t get…

really? get to fuck. with the right mix of good people, there’s no reason we cant have both.

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Jul 23

exchange for the rest of us? i don’t think so. i signed up to try this out a couple of days ago and its disappointing. starting with email – this is simply an IMAP email account yourname@me.com. So it doesn’t work with existing accounts, and certainly doesn’t synchronise anything since the imap protocol manages messages on the server. the syncing software itself is actually provided as part of iTunes (why? this ought to be an explicit install surely?) and syncs calendar, contacts and bookmarks. Contact synchronisation suffers from the problem that on a target pc in outlook, though the contacts are in outlook, adding them as recipients in email messages results in an error and the message wont send. i’ve had to open the contact cards, and copy and paste the email addresses over one by one to get this to work. calendar synchronisation suffers from this hugely irritating and frequent message:

mobileme message

thing is, this happens even though i’ve not updated any calendar entries, yet every 15 minutes or so this pops up. which leads me to suspect that synchronisation does not occur automatically or is driven by changes – instead it must be on a timed interval basis. in addition, if you have another pc booted up, then you’ll also get this message too:

mobileme message

rubbish. especially for a £60 per year subscription. instead this looks much more promising…

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Jul 18

after many months without a desktop pc (limited exclusively to my marvellous, but just too small for development, Tz laptop), i finally got round to purchasing this new toy. Having had a sony all-in-one previously, I knew this was just the sort of thing i was after – large screen, multi-media device that i can also use as a tv. And there simply isn’t anything nicer looking than the lovely, lovely new 24″ iMacs

iMac

A 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD although slightly more expensive than the equivalent competition from Dell and Sony is better specified. Whilst the Sony comes ready equipped with twin tv tuners and acts as a PVR, this has its own annoyances as it means a) getting an ariel from tv/digibox to the pc (which isn’t in the same room) b) having recordings in multiple places. not major problems i admit. A reasonable alternative, it seems to me, is to use a slingbox from digibox/PVR, which negates the need for on-board tuners. Still, why the iMac doesn’t come with such is clearly remiss of apple given the excellent screen and graphics. in fact that, flash storage input and limited integrated connectivity (usb, firewire & mini-dvi out are essentially it) seem to be the only downsides so far. but then lack of basic connectivity is why i chose sony over the macbook air. time will tell.

now I exclusively run Vista on this, and it was truly easy to set such up, boot camp is brilliant - with all the vista drivers included on the leopard disks. And it’s not slow…

vista performance

the only problems I’ve had to date is getting used to the iMac keyboard layout, some shortcut keys dont seem to work within Office, but if i just cant get used to it, I can always replace it. For the hardcore mac user, i may have said several blasphemies in this post; but the iMac really is an excellent Vista PC…

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Jul 12

Sandisk TrustedSignins

So, back in 2006 Sandisk, RSA and Verisign together released something called TrustedSignins for U3. Instead of a dedicated token, a multipurpose U3 usb stick would do the same job, indeed it could securely manage multiple tokens, and it’d also be a usefully encrypted usb drive. ubiquitously and cheaply available at retail outlets everywhere, the advantages seem obvious. so when Verisign offer a free two-factor VIP for their OpenId PIP, I popped into town and bought a cruzer, since any SanDisk U3 drive will do the trick it seems:

Verisign supports SanDisk U3

Activation is simple, just plug in the cruzer, open the U3 LaunchPad and click on TrustedSignins:

Activate Verisign VIP on U3

Except the U3 LaunchPad doesn’t have a TrustedSignins option. I check the cruzer has the latest software installed, and spend a good couple of hours searching and finally emailing verisign, sandisk an u3 support. Now, the Sandisk doco says, “A benefit of TrustedSignins over dedicated tokens is that your company does not need to bear the expense of stocking and supplying them to your customers. After an employee or customer buys a standard SanDisk device at any of the 185,000  retail locations, it is registered with their account at your company. As an incentive, your company can even offer a rebate.

But when I bought the cruzer, I just picked one off the shelf, I was neither asked to register nor offered a rebate. And it doesn’t work. So what is going on here? Turns out there are two types of SanDisk U3 – retail and OEM, and only the OEM version can be programmed with the TrustedSignins utility. also the OEM version is not available from retail outlets. This is certainly not what either Verisign or Sandisk are claiming though, is it? Why has Sandisk not made the TrustedSignins available on all its U3 devices? Why does Verisign not make it clear that only a very select few SanDisk U3 drives are actually compatible with their VIP. Am I really the only person in the last 2 years to try and activate a Verisign VIP on a SanDisk U3?

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