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Thursday, September 9, 2010
I had the pleasure of interacting with a group of very thoughtful and smart people today as part of a session at IIW-East on the role of Government as an Identity Oracle (Attribute Provider).
It's been a rather long day, so I will follow-up another time with a blog posting on the session details, but I would be very remiss if I did not thank the folks who attended the session and made it an interesting discussion with their insights and active participation.
In no particular order, a big thank you goes out to Ian Glazer from Gartner (who did double duty as both participant and scribe), Dr. Peter Alterman from NIH, Gerry Beuchelt from MITRE, Nishant Kaushik from Oracle, Laura Hunter from Microsoft, Pam Dingle from Ping Identity and many others.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
I have always had a very Microsoft Windows centric environment in my house with all of the machines in the house joined to an Active Directory domain to provide management capabilities such as centralized login, software deployment, re-direction of My Documents folders to my NAS, and more.
Up until a couple of years ago, I even used to run a mail server at home. Overkill, I know, but this was not a case of "need" as much as "just because I could" and since I don't do this professionally any more, a way to keep up with what is going on (and as strange as it may sound, I found it relaxing). But that stopped being fun when I simply could not keep up with the deluge of spam. That resulted in me outsourcing my email infrastructure to the Cloud via Google Apps for Domains.
Recently, I made a switch to using a Mac as my primary desktop as well as my travel laptop. The switch was driven by my kids getting getting new Macbook Pro laptops as replacements for their previous hand me down PC laptops. My wife has always had a Mac laptop from work but that had never impacted our home network except for her having the ability to use the home printer.
This, of course, has resulted in me running as fast as possible to catch up with them as they explore the capabilities of their laptops. The great thing for me has been the forced reunion with my Unix roots. I used to run FreeBSD servers back in the day before I switched over to Linux (because it had more apps) to finally arrive in the Windows world.
For folks who are going thru this I would highly recommend the O'Reilly Mac OS X Snow Leopard: The Missing Manual and Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Snow Leopard Edition, both by David Pogue.
What I have liked to date:
- Hardware fit, finish and usability touches
- Software installation and un-installation
- Keyboard short-cuts
- Trackpad gesture support
- Spotlight (Desktop Search)
- Multi-monitor support
- Power management
- Parental Controls
- Scripting for automation support
- Integration with my Netgear ReadyNAS
- Integration with Google Apps for Domains
What I would change:
- The seemingly blind, but ultimately misguided, belief in the security of the OS as demonstrated by the firewall being turned off by default even on the laptops
On the whole, the transition has been pretty smooth as I have found the same programs or close analogs on the Mac side that I have traditionally used on the Windows side. In other places, I am using the Remote Desktop Client for the Mac, from Microsoft, to connect to my existing Windows Machines when I need them.
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Sunday, August 1, 2010
My son has multiple food allergies, so dining out as a family is something we do not do on an ad-hoc basis but approach with a great deal of planning and care. This becomes a bit more complex when we are traveling or on vacation. Given that we have family in Western Canada, one of our favorite places to vacation is Banff National Park. The opportunity to go completely off-grid and to hike, bike, horse back ride and just enjoy the magnificent Canadian Rockies is something that we look forward to.
I don’t typically make a point of calling out places that we have patronized but this is an exception given that many families are in the same circumstances as mine when it comes to travel and food allergies.
We had a great experience this summer (and for many years before) at the Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff where the combination of Chef Guy St-Hilaire and the Food & Beverage Supervisor Mr. David Perry did an absolutely top notch job of addressing our concerns and coordinating the service that we received from any of the restaurants and from all the food service staff. And they did it in a friendly, personalized manner that made my son feel special and not different. He absolutely had a blast and we can’t ask for anything more than that.
If you are traveling to the Banff area, my recommendation would be to give them a call before you get there, ask to speak to either Guy or David and let them know your food allergy concerns. I would bet you that they will take as good care of you and/or your family as they did mine.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
I had the opportunity last week to visit with the Beverly Hills Police Department as well as their CIO and his staff. My areas of discussion with them were primarily focused around Information Security and Identity and Access Management.
Found them to be a very impressive organization, from the technical infrastructure they have in place, their desire to leverage information technology for the benefit of their customer base (both government and residents), as well as the partnerships that they have forged across many different arenas.
It was particularly interesting to hear the comments from them about how they are a sought after employer by some very talented people because of the very interesting projects that they work on and the technologies that they get to utilize. As a technologist, I definitely enjoyed their data center tour as well as an overview of upcoming capabilities that they are working on. Very cool stuff.
Funniest moment: Walking back from lunch with the Chief of Police. Waiting to cross the street. A young guy in front of us starts to Jaywalk! Instant shout from the Chief "Hey, Hey, What are you doing?" It was like watching the guy hit a rubber band. Instant backpedaling back to the sidewalk with an mumble that he thought the light was green. Punch-line: Chief is in business clothes. Not in uniform. Sheer authority in voice got the response!
P.S. Yes, please spare me the Eddie Murphy jokes; By now, I have heard them all
Monday, December 22, 2008
Especially for those with young kids (This has now become a Christmas Eve tradition at our house) ...
Continuing a more than 50 year old tradition, NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) will be tracking Santa on his Christmas Eve flight across the world. You and your kids can track Santa on NORAD's Track Santa web site.
A big "Thank You" to the men and women of NORAD, who have selflessly volunteered their time to personally update children via phone calls, emails and the Internet on Christmas Eve. Some further information:
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Sunday, September 7, 2008
I recently came back from vacation to find that my primary desktop at home (a Dell Unit) was not booting up and the only indicator was a slowly blinking yellow power light.
After some investigation, it turned out that this was due to a bad power supply. On top of that, it appeared that the power supply fried the motherboard on its way to the land of no return. My first inclination was to buy another brand name computer. But in shopping around, I really was not happy with choices that were being offered, so decided to go the custom build route.
Although I have built multiple computers in the past, I have not been keeping up with the current hardware esoterica, so got some recommendations from folks at work that led to a pre-built list of computer parts through the SlickDeals forum. An additional criteria was that since I had a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate lying around that I still had not installed on any of my systems, and since Vista SP1 had come out, I wanted this to be a machine that was capable of running Vista.
It took me 2-3 hours to put the system together on a Saturday with the additional benefit that it was a cool thing to do with the kids.
I am happy to note that all of the parts work together seamlessly, have full Vista driver support and once Vista SP1 and all of the latest updates were installed, I have a very smooth running machine. While my Aero score was not at the top end, it still is enough to give me the full Aero experience with Vista (Per the Vista Help, the current base scores for the Windows Experience Index ranges from 1 to 5.9).
For those who are interested in building a very decently performing Vista compatible computer at a reasonable price, I have turned my list of parts into into a NewEgg Computer Wishlist for a Mid-Range Computer. My experience with this was very positive and I would recommend both the vendor as well as the parts.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Awesome! I hope this act wins!
Friday, April 18, 2008
"... part of our job is to make deliveries of metal to deserving customers. Business is Good!"
An excerpt from a conversation with an Army Colonel.
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Sunday, April 6, 2008
I typically don't do this, but this particular job opening in my organization is for someone that I will be directly working with. As such, it is in my best interest to make sure that the opening gets socialized to folks in the right communities so that I can continue to work with folks who are a whole lot smarter and more knowledgeable than I am
So if you have a knowledge base that spans identity, security and privacy technologies, would like a job that has a direct impact on and enhances of the security of the nation, and would like to work in an environment that values your individual contributions to a kick-ass team, we are hiring!
Here are some of what I consider to be the relevant details of the job opening. The full description of the job, as well as how to apply for it, can be found on the official job requisition.
The ideal candidate will have a knowledge base that spans identity, security and privacy technologies as well as the ability to bridge the software development and computing infrastructure domains.
- Provide subject matter expertise in implementing identity and access control solutions in support of a variety of sponsors in the Government and Intelligence Communities. [...]
- Maintain current knowledge of identity technologies in the commercial marketplace with an eye towards how it could be applied to sponsor needs. Expectation is that the candidate actively participates in the technical community [...]
- Actively work to share knowledge and experience gained in external community participation and project work via participation in internal Communities of Practice, online forums [...]
- Participate in standards organizations such as OASIS, W3C and others on behalf of JHU/APL in the creation and modification of standards [...]
- Self-motivated to learn and apply technology to solve problems
- Ability to “Argue like you are right, Listen like you are wrong”
- Self-starter who proactively searches for and obtains potential solutions to problems
- Demonstrated experience with the implementation of identity solutions which may include:
- Application of relevant standards such as SAML, XACML, WS-SX, etc.
- Implementation and/or administration of directory services (LDAP etc) and/or Virtual Directory Capabilities,
- Implementation and/or administration of PKI,
- Implementation and/or administration of Web Access Management solutions
- Full lifecycle implementation experience as related to an Identity Management Project
- Demonstrated experience in one or more of the relevant areas of Identity, Security, and Privacy with an interest in focusing on the Identity Management area.
- At least 5 years of increasingly complex software development with one or more of the major software platforms (i.e. .NET and/or JEE) and/or infrastructure experience with one or more major operating systems (i.e., *nix, Windows) in an Enterprise class environment
- Awareness of the fundamental principles of Service Oriented Architecture
- Must be eligible for US Department of Defense (DoD) clearance requiring background investigation and/or polygraph examination. [Please be aware that holding a U.S. Citizenship is part of the requirement for obtaining a security clearance]
If you are interested, apply via the official job site, but in addition, drop me a note that you have applied with your attached resume to my work e-mail (anil dot john -at- jhuapl dot edu), so that I can have it flagged internally and properly routed.
If you would simply like to find out more about the job, the work environment etc, or would like any clarifications before you take action, please feel free to contact me. Needless to say, if you know of someone else who would be interested, please pass the details on to them.
A new “Information Sharing Strategy” (PDF) from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence warns that traditional security practices that restrict disclosure of information have become counterproductive.
“The Intelligence Community’s ‘need to know’ culture, a necessity during the Cold War, is now a handicap that threatens our ability to uncover, respond, and protect against terrorism and other asymmetric threats,” the document declares.
The new Strategy defines information sharing goals and as well as near-term and long-term implementation objectives. Goals include uniform government-wide information policies, improved connectivity, and increased inter-agency collaboration.
Source: FAS Project on Government Secrecy
The document notes that in order to achieve their information sharing vision, the IC has "... adopted a new information sharing model, which is depicted in Figure 1:"
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Saturday, December 8, 2007
We finally decided to upgrade to a High Definition (HD) TV setup in the house.
The initial choice one needs to make is to go with either a LCD or Plasma display for the HDTV. LCDs consume less power, are a better choice to be used as a computer display, provide better value for the money if you are looking at a < 50" screen and depending on the brand/model may not provide a wide viewing angle. Plasma displays provide better value for your money if the screen size is > 50", are said to be able to display a deeper black on the screen and have a wider viewing angle. Even though they have improved in this area, they are also susceptible to burn-in. The burn-in is especially an issue if you are also using the display as a computer monitor (Taskbar etc. is always on the screen). We chose the Samsung LNT4661F, which is a 46" LCD HDTV which supports a "Full HD" 1080p resolution and was recently ranked the #1 LCD HDTV by a national consumer ratings organization. It has 3 HDMI and 2 Component inputs plus a variety of other inputs. The short version is that the the unit looks great and picture is simply awesome!
I've had a Series 2 Tivo in the house for more than two years and the decision to upgrade to HDTV also motivated us to obtain a TivoHD. Tivo currently has a special for current subscribers that will enable them to obtain a new TivoHD with a lifetime subscription (No monthly fees ever). The TivoHD provides dual tuners, support for viewing and recording HD shows, has an HDMI output (which I am using) and supports CableCards. The device actually supports 2 CableCards so you do not need a STB/"Digital Box" from your cable provider in order to de-scramble and view the digital and premium channels. If the CableCard is a Multi-Stream (M-Card) CableCard, you only need one installed (in Slot 1) and it will work with both of the tuners built into the TivoHD. If the cable provider has only Single-Stream CableCards available, the TivoHD needs 2 of them in order to use with both tuners. I currently have an appointment scheduled with my cable provider for them to install the CableCards. BTW, the folks over at the Tivo Community Forums (Not affiliated with Tivo) are very helpful when it comes to questions about Tivo's, CableCards and more.
I am sitting out the HD vs. Blu-Ray DVD format argument. To that end, I chose to invest in an Up-Converting DVD Player to get the best value out of my HDTV investment. Basically what these types of DVD players do is to "up-convert" a regular DVD to a resolution that displays on an HDTV. I actually did a fair bit of research on this and chose the Oppo DV-980H DVD player which has an extremely good reputation in the AV community. The Oppo can do a high definition up-conversion up to 1080p (which my TV supports), has an HDMI output (Oppo is a class act in that, unlike most other vendors, they include a rather good HDMI cable, which I use, in the package) and also supports 7.1CH Audio. In addition, it also supports playing a variety of formats including DVD-Audio, SACD, DVD-Video, XviD, DivX, MP3, WMA and is compatible with CD-R/RW, DVD+R etc. An additional benefit with the Oppo is that, it is incredibly easy to turn it into a region-free player. This is works very well for me, given my liking for Bollywood movies. All I can say is that the quality of the picture that you get is pretty spectacular!
Of course, all of these units came with their own remote controls, so in the interests of simplification, we decided get the Logitech Harmony 880 Universal Remote to consolidate and simply the user experience. I was able to use the USB interface to the remote to configure all of my new and existing devices via the computer. It was a rather painless way of configuring and consolidating all of the device remotes and I love the combination of LCD display and the hard buttons on the remote. In addition, given that the remote is rechargeable and has a dedicated base, there is a regular place that the remote will always be found, which is an important thing in a house with kids!
I am anxiously awaiting the CableCard installation on my Tivo which is scheduled for early next week. But so far, I am extremely happy with the quality of the components that we got and the manner in which they work together.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Thursday, August 2, 2007
I've been away on vacation with the family for the last week or so. This is probably the first time in about 3 years I decided not to take a laptop or any type of electronic device with me (except for a cell phone) on a vacation and to consciously disconnect from the grid.
Best decision I ever made and highly recommended for folks who really want to de-stress on their vacations.
We have family in western Canada and decided to enjoy the scenery and slow down for a bit and enjoy the mountains and the fresh air. So we made the road trip from Edmonton to Banff, which is always a very scenic and enjoyable drive. I still remember the first time I made that drive and seeing black bears playing by the side of the road, snow capped mountains and the amazingly beautiful lakes. The vistas were just as spectacular this time.
We rented a chalet in Banff, did some trail riding on horseback, read some books and in general sat around and did a whole lot of nothing except have fun and explore nearby areas such as Lake Louise.
It was great! I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Monday, April 30, 2007
"For the second time in a generation, the United States faces the prospect of defeat at the hands of an insurgency. In April 1975, the U.S. fled the Republic of Vietnam, abandoning our allies to their fate at the hands of North Vietnamese communists. In 2007, Iraq's grave and deteriorating condition offers diminishing hope for an American victory and portends risk of an even wider and more destructive regional war.
These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America's general officer corps. America's generals have failed to prepare our armed forces for war and advise civilian authorities on the application of force to achieve the aims of policy. The argument that follows consists of three elements. First, generals have a responsibility to society to provide policymakers with a correct estimate of strategic probabilities. Second, America's generals in Vietnam and Iraq failed to perform this responsibility. Third, remedying the crisis in American generalship requires the intervention of Congress. "
-- By Lt. Col. Paul Yingling in the Armed Forces Journal
For the record, ARMY LT. COL. PAUL YINGLING is deputy commander, 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment. He has served two tours in Iraq, another in Bosnia and a fourth in Operation Desert Storm.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
I had a chance to geek out over dinner with a couple of friends, Ken Laskey and Chris Bashioum, as well as a colleague of theirs (Rob Mikula) from MITRE. We got together to talk about SOA Governance since both Ken and Chris are fellow members on the OASIS SOA-RM TC and the three of them team teach a SOA course at MITRE that heavily leverages the SOA-RM.
Unsurprisingly, the conversation ranged across the board from SOA adoption, granularity of services, performance impact of composite services and possible ways to mitigate them, the role of the UDDI protocol, data model extensibility in Repositories, WS-Policy, Consent of the Governed and how it applies to SOA Governance, the role of a Center of Excellence in the adoption and operation of a SOA and more...
A discussion that we were having also provided me with a way forward in something that I've been struggling with regarding the SOA course that I will be teaching for Johns Hopkins University. What type of project/exercise work can the students work on for the class? What Ken, Chris and Rob do in their two day class is to have their students work through a case study on integrating multiple information systems using a SOA approach. Given that I have a semester's worth of time, a case study with drill downs in specific and relevant areas running the gamut from governance and requirements to actual implementation of services could be very useful in driving home the lecture/discussion points while at the same time providing me with a mechanism to gauge if the students are actually grokking the information. Will have to give some serious thought on how to go about structuring this.
All in all, an immensely enjoyable evening!
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
A friend forwarded this to me today (Ask for directions on Google Maps for going to Paris, France from New York, NY).
I am probably the last person to see this... but still... funny! br>
Saturday, March 17, 2007
I was invited to attend the Microsoft MVP Summit last week. If you want to know what the Summit is about or what a MS MVP is, Google is your friend.
This was my fifth(?) time at an MVP Summit and except for some specific exceptions I was under-whelmed by the majority of the "official" part of the summit this year. I do not know if it is because of the quality of the sessions, or because over the last number of years I am spending so much time in the wider technical community (Java, Open Source, Architecture, SOA) that I have a greater understanding and appreciation of what exists in the eco-system, which in turn allows me to be knowledgeable enough to ask the following questions:
- Does this capability already exist in the wider community? If so, what is the rationale for the MS capability?
- Is MS supporting the accepted and existing standards (official or un-official) or going their own way?
- If MS is going their own way, do the benefits justify adopting this path of possible vendor lock-in?
- Is this capability something innovative that MS is providing? If so, how can this capability benefit my community?
It is probably a bit of both.
Some of the items that I was exposed to really seemed to be taking the tack that even though a comparable capability exists in the community, they are planning on "taking the best of what is out there in the community" and doing a MS specific implementation. Not my thing, as re-inventing the wheel leaves me rather cold. I would rather they work to support existing community standards and shape the direction via participation in the standards process.
There were, in some cases, exceptions to this approach where they are addressing problems in unique and interesting ways, which left me asking if it would be possible to extend the approach to other platforms and technology stacks.
One thing that I want to call out is the time that I spent with folks from Microsoft's Application Consulting & Engineering (ACE) Team. Particularly the ACE folks who focus on Security. If I understand their role correctly, compared to product teams for Vista, Office, ASP.NET etc., ACE folks support Microsoft's internal Line of Business applications. Given their role, they have some unique insights to offer in the areas of threat modeling applications and providing value to the business. There are some really nice lessons to be learned from those folks in the areas of IT Governance, demonstrating how security adds business value and more. Wish they would publicize some of their best practices and lessons learned or provide them as service offerings, as it would be of immense benefit to a lot of organizations.
So much for the "official" part.
The un-official part of course is the community of folks that you come in contact with, the relationships you build, and the information and lessons learned that you exchange in such a setting. It is also something that lasts beyond the event. That, as usual, was simply outstanding and is in a lot of ways the primary reason I attend this event. I'll pass on the name dropping, but since he blogged about it, I'll simply say that my mind-meld with JD (who IMHO is one of the most effective PMs at Microsoft) was as usual outstanding and worthwhile.
If you happen to have an Acura or Honda vehicle with a built-in navigation system, you will run into the Daylight Savings Time issue with your clock i.e. It will not automatically adjust to the new time. Acura/Honda is aware of the problem and is working on a software patch to correct this issue. Until the patch becomes available, you will have to manually work around the problem.
For the Acura TL:
- Nav System > Setup > 4 > TimeZone/Clock > Auto Daylight Savings Time [Off]
- Update Time Manually
Sunday, February 25, 2007
We had unexpected amount of snow fall today!
Kids are out in the back sledding and from the sound of things having a blast!
Thursday, January 4, 2007
By the end of this year, the contents of all 1,800 courses taught at one of the world's most prestigious universities will be available online to anyone in the world, anywhere in the world. Learners won't have to register for the classes, and everyone is accepted.
The cost? It's all free of charge.
Source: How to go to M.I.T. for free | csmonitor.com
A sample of the courses offered include:
- Java Preparation for 6.170, January (IAP) 2006
- Software Engineering for Web Applications, Fall 2003
- Cryptography and Cryptanalysis, Spring 2005
- Network and Computer Security, Fall 2003
- Database, Internet, and Systems Integration Technologies, Fall 2004
- Practical Information Technology Management, Spring 2005
- Communicating With Data, Summer 2003
- The Software Business, Fall 2005
- Negotiation and Conflict Management, Spring 2001
- and much, much, more...
This is a pretty amazing resource! Check it out @ MIT OpenCourseWare
Sunday, December 31, 2006
"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."
The above quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson applies equally well when speaking of years as it does to days.
In that spirit I wanted to wish YOU, the reader of my blog, a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Looks like I've been tagged by Pete. Thanks!
Here goes. Five facts you don't know about me.
- I used to play field hockey when growing up in India. Was very disappointed that only women play field hockey in the USA
- My favorite fiction book series is the Honor Harrington series by David Weber
- The first time I ever traveled on a plane was to the USA from India when I was 13. By myself.
- I learned how to drive a car before I came to the USA.
- I like Bollywood movies (Unfortunately!)
Time to pass on the favor. Here are 5 random picks from my blog roll. J.D. Meier, Paul Fremantle, Brenda Michelson, Casey Chesnut, Dare Obasanjo. You are It!
Saturday, December 9, 2006
Sunday, November 19, 2006
SLAM is an interesting project from Microsoft Research. Some of the Interesting bits:
"It is a mobile device-based application that enables lightweight, group-centric real-time communication, location awareness and photo-sharing.
The core concept behind Slam is a “Slam”, a group of people with whom you can exchange messages and photos. When you send a message in Slam, it is automatically sent to everyone in the group to which you sent it. For smartphone users that have the Slam client installed, their phone will buzz and they will have an indication on their phone’s home screen that there is a new message. For SMS users, they will receive the message as an SMS from the Slam server. Like smartphone users, SMS users can be members of multiple slam groups. SMS users will send / receive messages to a different phone number for each slam group they a member of.
Scenarios for Slam include:
- Real-time Coordination
- Instant Group Photo Sharing
- Broadcast Communication
The Slam smartphone client does not use SMS to send and receive messages, it uses HTTP to post messages to the server and to poll for new messages from the server.
Slam users can also see where other people in their groups are on a map. The Slam client will periodically let the server know where it is, then, when someone in a group requests it, the server generates a map using MSN’s Virtual Earth with everybody’s location marked. Of course, this only works from slam smartphone clients, not SMS users. However, this feature does not require a GPS device, as it attempts to determine location based on the cellular towers your phone detects.
We understand that our users are as concerned as anyone with privacy, and letting people, even your friends and family know where you are automatically can be scary. That’s why we include several privacy features, including the ability to set who can see your location, when they can see it and even let you hide your location except when you’re in “public places”, areas where you specifically indicate it’s OK for others to know where you are. Please note, though, that location tracking is on by default in Slam, you must opt-out to disable it. "
Currently it is available only for Windows Mobile SmartPhones, but I can see some interesting applications for this tech.
Thursday, November 2, 2006
A co-worker of mine will be showcasing some of his work with geospatial technology, browser based clients, portal technology and web services at the upcoming GEOINT Symposium. He has deep expertise in geospatial technology and has managed to meld it with some of the other cutting edge tech out there to create some really compelling solutions. If you are going, do stop by the JHU/APL booth and check it out. Have a blast OC!
Saturday, October 28, 2006
We live in Interesting Times. My current non-fiction, non-techie reading list is to a great extent being shaped by my need to know more about Geopolitics and Military History. I've been very fortunate in working with folks who have provided me some great reading recommendations in this area. If you are interested in getting greater insight into some of the current events, especially of the military variety, let me pass on a couple of book recommendations:
Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War
From the Publisher: This definitive account of the Gulf War relates the previously untold story of the U.S. war with Iraq in the early 1990s. The author follows the 42-day war from the first night to the final day, providing vivid accounts of bombing runs, White House strategy sessions, firefights, and bitter internal conflicts.
Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq
From the Publisher: Informed by unparalleled access to still-secret documents, interviews with top field commanders, and a review of the military's own internal after-action reports, Cobra II is the definitive chronicle of America's invasion and occupation of Iraq - a conflict that could not be lost but one that the United States failed to win decisively. From the Pentagon to the White House to the American command centers in the field, the book reveals the inside story of how the war was actually planned and fought. Drawing on classified United States government intelligence, it also provides a unique account of how Saddam Hussein and his high command developed and prosecuted their war strategy." Written by Michael R. Gordon, the chief military correspondent for The New York Times, who spent the war with the Allied land command, and Bernard E. Trainor, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general and former director of the National Security Program at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, Cobra II traces the interactions among the generals, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and President George W. Bush. It dramatically reconstructs the principal battles from interviews with those who fought them, providing reliable accounts of the clashes waged by conventional and Special Operations forces. It documents with precision the failures of American intelligence and the mistakes in administering postwar Iraq.
Friday, October 6, 2006
I am turning off Trackbacks and Pingbacks on this blog as I am getting far too much Trackback and Pingback spam. DasBlog does a good job of blocking the majority of both, but enough is getting through for it to be seriously annoying.
Wednesday, October 4, 2006
I am having some rather strange problems with DasBlog and embedded images that are not not showing up in IE.
The issue crops up when I try to embed an image in a blog posting: An example is @
If you view the above posting in Firefox, there are no issues and you can see the image just fine. If you view it in an RSS reader, you have no issues either. But if you view the blog entry in IE, the image simply does not show up! It is there (you can right click and do a Save picture as..), but it is simply invisible.
At first I thought that the issue was with some ACLs on my \content and \content\binary directory tree. But that is not the case. Hey, I got the awesome Orcsweb as my hosting provider, so if they tell me that the ACLs are properly applied, it is so! Then I thought the issue was with the theme that I was using. But I am having the same problem when I switch to the default DasBlog theme as well. Am a bit frustrated at this point. Anyone running DasBlog run into this issue before?
UPDATE (Oct 5, 2006): Thanks to all the folks who provided suggestions. It was indeed a CSS issue and it has now been resolved!
Sunday, October 1, 2006
I am in the process of helping to build and refine a Strategic Plan that is going to help provide clarity as we move out on a specific path. It is an interesting process in which you start with Outcomes that you would like to see happen, whether it is for your own organization or for your client/sponsor. Given a specific outcome that you would like to see, you have to define specific goals that will generate that outcome.
The issue that one often faces in this process is that it is all too easy to come up with generic, amorphous goals that sound good, but really don't accomplish much. An acronym that I've come across in my travels (I've seen it many places, so am not sure who to give credit to) when facing this issue is SMARTER.
Acceptable to those working to achieve the goals
Extending the capabilities of those working to achieve the goals
So, asking "Is this a SMARTER Goal?" is an important step that is really helping me narrow down goals that will in the end generate tasks that must be actionable.
I recently upgraded to the latest version of DasBlog (v1.9.X). This is a test of the Mail to Weblog functionality of DasBlog.
The inline picture (which hopefully will show up) is part of a Brief that I am giving on SOA.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Per the publicly available Network Diagnostic Tester at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, VA:
TCP/Web100 Network Diagnostic Tool v5.2.0f
click START to begin
Checking for Middleboxes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Done
running 10s outbound test (client to server) . . . . . 1.82Mb/s
running 10s inbound test (server to client) . . . . . . 15.53Mb/s
I love FiOS!
Thursday, August 24, 2006
We had an awesome vacation in India! It was the first time ever for the kids, and the first time in more than 10 years for me and my wife. So many changes! This was the first time, in a very long while, that I’ve spent time completely disconnected from the Grid, and it was a very liberating and wonderful experience!
Currently it is between the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the hot season, so although it was a bit humid, it was still a great time to visit. We spent the majority of our time at the family house. The house is L shaped with one section of the L the “new” section, and the other the older section of the house. New in this case is rather relative as that section of the house was built in my grandfather’s time. A rather interesting experience for me was explaining to my kids that the older section of the house was more than 200 years old! Given their ages, they were finding that length of time rather difficult to grasp, so my Dad’s comment to them, which they immediately got, was “It’s older than America”
We also took the opportunity to spend some time up in the Hill Range ( ~ 4500 ft above sea level), to visit one of my cousin’s who is the manger of a Tea Estate that was originally set up by the British. While the temperature at the family house was hot, we actually had to use blankets at night while we were visiting the Tea Estate. Had some of the most amazing tea while we were up there and when we enquired about it, was informed that the entire estate has been certified to grow organic tea (no pesticides etc.). Yes, we did bring back some of that tea!
Given that my cousin is the manager of the Estate, we got a personal tour, via a 4 wheel drive vehicle, of some of the more scenic parts of the estate. And there is no way to get to some of these remote areas without a 4 wheel drive vehicle or by horse! The scenery and the climate were just about spectacular.
On the way back from India, we made a point of stopping over in Delhi and driving to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal. It is a four hour drive from Delhi to Agra and two of those hours are spent just getting out of Delhi! The traffic in Delhi, where cars, buses, auto-rickshaws, motorcycles, bicycles, people and animals all share the same road has to be experienced to be believed!
It was very hot in Agra but it was just an amazing experience for all of us! I, for one, had never seen the Taj before and was just amazed by the sheer size and the incredible symmetry of the place. We also had a very good guide that explained in great detail a lot of the architectural and historic details of the Taj Mahal.
We also had some truly pleasant service experiences on the trip. Two that were memorable were our experience with Kingfisher Airlines, which is the domestic airline that we used in India, and with the Radisson Hotel in Delhi where we stayed while in Delhi.
Flying with Kingfisher was just about the best flying experience that we’ve had. As soon as we reached the airport, folks in Kingfisher’s livery came to meet us at the car and accompanied us and transported our luggage through the security checkpoints all the way through to check-in. During the flight, we were pretty much pampered with bottled water, little gifts for the kids and a full service meal. We also had great leg room in the seat and individual entertainment centers with a variety of music and entertainment programs. Once we landed, folks in Kingfisher livery again pulled our luggage off the belt, took it to our waiting transportation, and loaded it onto our vehicle. Oh, did I mention that I was traveling COACH!!!! I don’t think I’ll fly with another airline in India ever again!
As to Radisson Delhi, by default you got the superb service that you can expect from a 5 star hotel. But what impressed us more than anything were two things. The first was that given that my son has food allergies, their kitchen was very willing to prepare special meals for him. Secondly, we were scheduled to leave the day after the London Terror threat story broke, so there were extremely long delays and a lot of confusion at the Delhi airport. When the concierge at the Radisson found out that we were flying out that day, he actually came with us to the airport and basically guided and helped us through the checkpoints, the multiple luggage checks and stayed with us until our bags were completely checked and we were ready to go through security! Just an amazing experience.
All in all, we had a wonderful and memorable time. If interested, I have posted some additional pictures for your viewing pleasure. I most definitely have some more experiences to relate, but I’ll save those for another post.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
We are in the final stages of our preparation to visit India. First time for the kids, and the first time in more than 10 years for both my wife and I. Connecting via Delhi to Cochin. On the return segment, we plan to break our journey in Delhi so that we can make a side trip to Agra and visit the Taj Mahal. We are a bit apprehensive about the Delhi/Agra segment given our lack of familiarity with Hindi and the area in general, but did not want to deprive ourselves of the chance to see one of the true wonders of the world. I am especially looking forward to seeing my kids resolve their current view of India, which to a great extent has been shaped by Bollywood movies, to the reality.
All in all, we are very much looking forward to this trip. NOT looking forward to the 16+ hours flight!
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
My web search skills are coming up short on this and I am not a regex expert, so would appreciate any advice from the DasBlog experts out there…
My web root has multiple domains pointing to it and I would like to consolidate all of those entry points into a single domain. For example, the domains SecureSOA.*, SecureCoder.* and aniltj.* all point to the same webroot. I would like to make sure that SecureSOA.*/blog, SecureCoder.*/blog all get pointed to aniltj.com/blog. Is this possible to do this using the DasBlog.UrlMapper? If so, how would one go about writing the regex for this?
Thursday, June 8, 2006
Monday, May 22, 2006
I got a chance to see Mission Impossible III with a friend tonight. I liked it! In fact, I think this may just be the best of the three and it really had nothing to with the Hero (Ethan Hunt/Tom Cruise) of the movie but the Villain (Owen Davian/Philip Seymour Hoffman)!
Smart, ruthless and with his own brand of physical courage (you gotta give it to a guy who can still calmly threaten someone, after being hung out off a flying jet). In short, everything a proper villain of the old school variety should be! Someone you’d love to hate because of the sheer evil-ness of the person.
[Now playing: Deliver Me - Sarah Brightman]
Sunday, May 21, 2006
The current issue of Infoworld has a review of two Java based open source portals. JBoss Portal 2.2.1 and Liferay Portal 4.0. The rankings are pretty close but Liferay edged out JBoss based on ease of use, both on the admin front and the user front.
The interesting thing to note in this review was the sheer breadth of technologies that are supported as part of the implementation. Content Management Systems, Authentication & Authorization capabilities, JSR 168, WSRP support and more.. These are truly legitimate and fully functional contenders in the Portal space. Even though JBoss came came up short, you cannot rule it out given its superior support for standards. Not to mention the end-to-end stack that is in the roadmap now that Red Hat has acquired JBoss.
I was a bit disappointed that the review was focused just on the Java/J2EE space. Would have been nice to have seen some comparisons to open source portal implementations on the .NET side as well, such as DotNetNuke which is available under the BSD licence.
[Now playing: Jal Jal Ke Dhuaan - Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena]
Saturday, May 13, 2006
It would appear that the GPS Receiver that comes with Microsoft Streets & Trips 2006 does NOT work with the GPS enabled Microsoft MapPoint 2006 software!
I had purchased a copy of MS Streets & Trips 2006 with GPS some time ago. It worked precisely as advertised. Then recently I got a copy of the MapPoint 2006. Since it had some additional capabilities I figured I would replace Streets & Trips with MapPoint. After all, same company, same product line etc.. etc..
I un-installed S&T and installed MapPoint. Plugged in my USB based MS GPS unit that came with the S&T. Immediately get a message that it is an unknown device! I do a search for a driver (local + online with windows update) and it installs something. At this point if I do scan for a GPS receiver from the GPS panel inside MapPoint, it recognises the existence of the MS GPS device. The unfortunate thing is that it simply does not seem to be able to use it! It consistently says in the panel that it is “receiving data” but that no satellites can be found. Given that I was able to, from same the physical location, get GPS data with my S&T 2006, and it is highly unlikely they moved the satellites during the last week of so , somehow I don’t think the issue is with the GPS unit.
There are some things I expect to work seamlessly out of the box and consumer facing software is one of them. Not impressed so far.. Guess it is time to rip and replace.
[Now playing: Moonlight Sonata - Beethoven]
Monday, April 3, 2006
I had an opportunity to watch “Inside Man”, the new Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster and Clive Owen movie. As I have always enjoyed caper movies and given the actors involved and that it is directed by Spike Lee, it was a given that this would be something that I would really enjoy. And I did! Recommended!
I almost fell out of my seat when the opening credits came up and it (and the end credits as well) were set to a familiar song from the Hindi film “Dil Se”.
Spike Lee in a recent interview
“What about the music sequence at the beginning and at the end of the movie? Why that choice?”
“Well here’s the great thing about New York and all types of music. I’m a professor at New York University’s graduate film school; I’ve been a professor for the last eight years. One class we were talking about musicals, and one of my students suggested I see some Bollywood. I knew about it but I had never seen a Bollywood film. So I said, “Name one!” She said, “Dil Se.” Next class she gave me the DVD, I liked the movie very much. That song, ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya,’ is in Dil Se. So, I made a promise with myself that one day I’d like to use it. So one day we did a song with Terence Blanchard, our composer, then we got Punjabi MC to do the rap, so that’s how that happened”
And yes, I am listening to it right now
[Now playing: Chaiyya Chaiyya - Dil Se]
Saturday, March 25, 2006
I’m confused by the value of the offerings from Microsoft!
I’m thinking of moving my personal e-mail to a hosted solution. To that end, I am exploring the options that are available from both Google and Microsoft.
Here is what I am looking for:
- Value! I don’t mind paying but I expect to get get additional value for the paid service when comparing it to a free service.
- POP access to e-mail accounts
- Clean and usable web interface to e-mail. This is going to be used by non-technical members of my family, so ease of use is very important.
- Decent amount of storage space. Decent is defined by me to be 1–2 GB of storage
The solutions that I am looking at are GMail for your Domain by Google and Windows Live Custom Domains from Microsoft. Both are presently in beta.
The GMail solution has a straight-forward description. The account is free for up to 10 users, the administrative interface is clean and each e-mail account I create has all the features that a regular GMail account has, including more than 2GB of storage space and POP access.
In looking at the Windows Live Custom Domains, you can have unlimited number of users but in order to get 2GB in-boxes for your accounts you will have to get accepted into the Windows Live Mail Beta. Otherwise you are limited to a 250MB Hotmail in-box. Another kicker is that you don’t get POP access with the free account. In order to get off-line access (I’m not calling this POP yet, and I’ll get to that) to the mailboxes, I will have to upgrade to a Premium E-Mail Solution such as MSN Hotmail Plus which costs $19.95 / year.
The Hotmail Plus does upgrade your in-box to a 2 GB in-box, which means you don’t have to go through the Live Mail beta to get the bigger in-box. But then it says “Check and manage your Hotmail Plus e-mail through Outlook® Express, Outlook 2002 (XP), or later versions”. Does that mean POP access or just access from Outlook and Outlook Express using some sort of a custom message protocol? Nowhere is the phrase POP mentioned! Is there POP support or not?
From what I can see, it would appear that by paying ~$20/year to MSN, I will get an account that is comparable to what Google will give me for free. The only disparity is that Google has a 10 user limit for free usage which is not a big deal for a personal e-mail solution given that it fully supports e-mail aliases.
What gets me is that in order to get some of the details on the MS solution, I had to go to about 3 different MS properties (Live, Hotmail, MSN) to pull the information together. So what exactly will I be receiving for that $19.95/year from Windows Live Custom Domains as compared to Gmail for your Domain? Hmm..?
[Now playing: The Rhythm Divine - Enrique Disc 1]
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
We recently bought a new car. Since I was going to be the primary driver of this car, my 6 year old was kind enough to keep me company as I was shopping around and test driving the cars. When we finally decided on a particular model, it was left up to him to choose the color of the car, which he did. And rather quickly!
When I asked him why he chose that particular color, his response was "Dad, it's the same color as my Game Boy!"
Works for me
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Have you ever received an e-mail from someone who is a Blackberry fanatic? They usually have a signature that says something to the effect “Sent from my Blackberry hand-held”, right?
I recently got an e-mail from an old friend who just so happens to run one of the premier web development firms on the East Coast. The sweet spot for her firm, and I believe one of the primary reasons for its success prior to, during and after the DotCom boom has been the focus on usability and customer experience. Some time ago, given the lack of usability focus in a lot of the major Content Management Systems, they went so far as to build a very user-centric Content Management System called Tacklebox. It has been deployed and is being used by some major, high traffic sites out there such as the Department of Energy, AOL and others. From what I understand, they would like to take the system to the next level, both in terms of functionality and in terms of partnering with a larger company who shares their vision about User Interface Design. So if you are such a company or want to know more, by all means contact them.
I digress a bit, but my point is that this is someone who lives in the usability world and has the street creds to back it up. So naturally, I was intrigued by the tag-line in her signature that said “Not sent from my Blackberry”, which in turn pointed to an article that she wrote called “When Innovation Outpaces Communication”. It is a story about the perils of the Blackberry user interface
Sunday, January 29, 2006
My car was rear-ended on Friday. Dealing with the aftermath combined with some other things that unexpectedly showed up over the weekend has been ….. trying.
I was stopped at a red-light after picking up my kids from school when my car was struck from behind by one of those heavy duty pick up trucks. While my son seemed to be all-right, both my daughter and I had headaches afterwards, and I am still dealing with what feels like strained muscles in my neck and upper back. At the same time, I am so very thankful there were no life threatening injuries.
I have also gained a great deal of appreciation for how cars are designed to protect their passengers. As you can see by the picture, the bumper did exactly what it was designed to do, which is absorb the impact. But the impact was great enough, and the pick-up has a high enough ground clearance that there was enough energy transferred to cave in the trunk of the car.
Of course, the physical incident itself is simply the first phase of an accident. One still has to survive the aggravation of dealing with the repairs and the insurance companies involved. In this particular case, since I was not at fault, the other party’s insurance company is handling the logistics of the repair as well as providing with me with a rental car replacement while my car is in the shop.
The annoying part is that the insurance company in question is balking on providing me with a rental that is comparable to what I have. According to them, they are not required to do so. They just have to give me a replacement car, which can be much smaller in size. Given that I provide daily transportation for two kids in booster seats and their associated equipment, I am a bit perturbed that I even need to have this particular discussion with them. I've negotiated them up to a bigger car, but still not one that is comparable to what I have. Also, since none of the body shops that the insurance company deals with are open on the weekend, I have to deal with the process of getting my car into the shop and picking up the rental during the week.
But in the end, all of those annoyances are minor compared to the fact that we are all okay! And here I was thinking that I would be having a relaxing weekend! C’est la vie!
Saturday, December 31, 2005
“Time is [..] a unique resource. Of the other major resources, money is actually quite plentiful. People-the third limiting resource-one can hire.
But one cannot rent, hire, buy or otherwise obtain more time. The supply of time is totally inelastic. No matter how high the demand, the supply will never go up. Moreover, time is totally perishable and cannot be stored. Yesterday’s time is gone forever and will never come back. Time is, therefore, always in exceedingly short supply.” – Peter F. Drucker
[Now playing: Dus Bahaane (Remix) - Dus]
Saturday, December 24, 2005
You do know that NORAD Tracks Santa as he makes his around-the-world trip, right? This has become a family tradition at my house with the kids.
This is possible due to the great work by the fine folks at NORAD-USNORTHCOM. Thank You!
Saturday, December 17, 2005
I realized today that I’ve not been getting my regular backup notifications from my SBS box. The issue seems to be specific to the Task Scheduler in SBS 2003. As in, it does not run any of the tasks! I am getting the following error when I try to set-up or run a task:
General page initialization failed.
The specific error is:
0x80090016: Keyset does not exist
An error has occurred attempting to retrieve task account information. You may continue editing the task object, but will be unable to change task account information.
A search revealed the following KB “You receive error message 0x80090016 or error message 0x8009000f when you try to schedule a task” that seems to be relevant. But the products that it refers to are all W2K. SBS2003 is W2K3 based, so I am bit hesitant to make this change. Anyone using SBS2003 have any pointers?
UPDATE (12/31/05): Solution is to delete the following corrupt file "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application
(xxxx means a string)
Once I did this, I also had to recreate all of my scheduled tasks.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
... they are "Cylinders of Excellence"!
Feedback that I got when I was giving a brief this week
Saturday, December 3, 2005
I had the opportunity to try out Fog Creek CoPilot to help out a family member set up a new computer today. I had read about it on Joel Spolky’s weblog some time ago, and given that this was a new laptop that was being set up, decided that this would be a good opportunity to try it out.
I was able to get access to my relative’s desktop with a minimum of fuss and do everything I needed to do (Verify Firewall settings, set up Windows Update, install Anti-Virus software, configure the e-mail software) with relatively good performance right from my desktop. I am sure that it did help that both myself and my relative have a high speed connection. I also took the opportunity to configure Microsoft Messenger and verify and do a walk through of its remote assistance capability for any future “Help Desk” calls.
It was altogether a very pleasant experience and the software worked as advertised. Highly recommended for those friend and family help desk situations!
Saturday, November 26, 2005
I currently have a Tivo on my home network. Beyond the time shifting capabilities, some of the things that the Home Media Option (HMO) enabled Tivo gives me is ability to is:
- Play my MP3 collection through my home theater system
- View my digital photos, which are stored on my network, through my TV
- Web based scheduling of shows
- Ability to transfer my recordings to a Computer
But at the same time, I have found the official Tivo To Go software to be pretty limited. I have in the past used a program called Java HMO but recently upgraded to the next version called Galleon by Leon Nicholls. This has got to be the coolest, and FREE, program for the Tivo! Take a look at the capabilities:
- Play MP3 files using the builtin player or with your favorite Winamp skins.
- View your photo collection using many slideshow effects and background music.
- View interesting information about each MP3 file such as album covers, lyrics and web images of your favorite artists.
- Listen to online streaming radio stations including Shoutcast stations.
- Organize your media files in many flexible ways.
- Play your favorite playlists including iTunes playlists or dynamically create playlists.
- View local weather forecasts and alerts.
- View internet webcams.
- Read your email.
- Read your favorite RSS feeds.
- Automatically download recordings from your TiVo using keywords.
- Automatically download your favorite podcasts.
- View local movie listings.
- Copy video files from your PC to your TiVo using GoBack.
- View Internet Slideshows.
- View online Videocasts.
- View upcoming events in your area.
- View traffic conditions in your area.
- Change the look-and-feel of Galleon by using your own skins.
There is a lot of functionality incorporated into the program. For example, when a song is playing, it will automatically download and display the album art using Amazon web services. And you also have the ability to download and view the current song’s lyrics using the XML API at Lyrictracker.com.
Beyond the capabilities of the program, one of the things that I have been impressed with is the professional polish that exists around the documentation, which includes demos and screen cast tutorials. If you have a Tivo, I would highly recommend checking this program out at http://galleon.sourceforge.net/
Friday, October 14, 2005
I like good writing, and enjoy it even more when it is delivered via a good Sci-Fi/Fantasy epic. I was re-organizing some material on my computer and came across some quotes I had collected from the Sci-Fi show Babylon 5.
Here is a sampling:
"The universe is driven by the complex interaction between three ingredients: matter, energy, and enlightened self-interest." - G'Kar
"All life is transitory, a dream. We all come together in the same place at the end of time. If I don't see you again here, I will see you in a little while. In the place where no shadows fall. " - Delenn
"The avalanche has started, it is too late for the pebbles to vote." - Vorlon Ambassador Kosh
"There is a greater darkness than the one we fight. It is the darkness of the soul that has lost its way. The war we fight is not against powers and principalities, it is against chaos and despair. Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope. The death of dreams. Against this peril we can never surrender. The future is all around us, waiting in moments of transition, to be born in moments of revelation. No one knows the shape of that future, or where it will take us. We know only that it is always paved in pain." - G'Kar, (Quoting G'Quon)
"I can only conclude that I'm paying off karma at a vastly accelerated rate." - Ivanova
"Tell them, that from this place we will deliver notice to the parliaments of conquerors that a line has been drawn against the darkness. And we will hold that line, ... no matter the cost." - John Sheridan
"There comes a time when you look into the mirror and realize that what you see is all that you will ever be. Then you accept it, or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking into mirrors." - Londo Mollari
"You know, I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So, now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe." - Marcus Cole
That was a great show! I think the only currently running show that is in its league or better is Battlestar Galactica.
Monday, October 10, 2005
I’ve had a Kyocera 7135 SmartPhone for more than two years now. But recently, it has been giving me serious problems so I figured it was time to get a replacement. So in true geek fashion, I asked folks about recommendations. I was originally focused on getting a phone on the GSM network but after a bit of discussion with various folks decided to stick to my current provider Verizon which has extensive coverage in my local area.
My two final choices were the VoQ SmartPhone and the Samsung i730. After playing with both for a while (it is good to have friends who are gadget geeks AND are tied into the mobile community), I decided to go with the Samsung. Gotta say that so far I am echoing Geoff’s comments, this is one sweet phone. Windows Mobile 2003SE (with the hardware capable of being upgraded to Windows Mobile 5), Bluetooth, WiFi, EvDO.. Y’know, the works…
One of the good points of the phone was that it came built in with the VoiceSignal software which allows you to voice control the phone. For example, I could simply tap the on-off on the bluetooth headset and say “Call Mickey Mouse” and the phone would dial Mickey’s number. Very useful when you are driving. So I also ended up getting a Bluetooth Motorola HS850 Headset to go with it. Very nice looking headset with the unique feature that the boom can be folded which also makes also works as an on-off switch. Top ranked seller at Amazon.
Big Mistake! Am in the process of returning it for the simple reason that the voice quality is pretty bad.
Tried it out for about a week and I could never get the VoiceSignal software to properly recognize anything that I was saying. At first I thought that it was just me. Then today, just as a lark, I plugged in a wired headset into the phone and used it.. Excellent voice recognition! So the Motorola headset is out. I’ve been hearing that the Plantronics Voyager 510 is a pretty good headset. Hopefully I can find someone who has actually used it to get first hand info on it.
All in all I am pretty happy with the phone. It amazes me that I now hold more computing power in the palm of my hand than a workstation as little as 15 years ago! Not to mention that I can now actually program against it using the .NET compact framework? Will I? Probably. But that really is not the point, is it? The point is that I could if I wanted to…
Friday, August 26, 2005
I recently got a new box at home and have been slowly migrating some of my old applications onto it. Since I happen to run my desktop under a non-administrative account, I often run into applications that do not obey the rules of the road when it comes to properly running under a user’s security context.
One of the applications is Tivo Desktop (v2.2).
I installed the software under an administrative context and had no issues connecting to my Tivo over the network. But once I went back to my non-admin account, I started getting errors to the effect that it could not find my Tivo on the network and that I would have to enter Media Access Key again.
I used SysInternal’s regmon to figure out what was going on and found out that the issue was caused by an access denied on the “HKCU\Software\Tivo” hive. Looked at the permissions on that hive and discovered that my account did not have permissions on it. Once I gave myself access, things just worked.
I am in the process of looking for a new phone. I currently have a Palm based Smartphone that is a bit dated.
My requirements are:
- Windows Mobile 2003 or later
- If Windows Mobile 2003, there needs to be an upgrade path to Windows Mobile 5
- On the GSM Network
But I do have very firm requirement that seems to be anathema to all SmartPhone makers – No Camera! Camera phones are simply not acceptable in my work environment (.. and I really don’t care all that much for them myself)
The Audiovox SMT 5600 seems to be getting good press, but it has a camera. Does anyone know if HTC makes a camera-less version of this phone and where I can get one? I do need this unlocked since I do plan to take this phone with me when traveling outside the U.S.
Sunday, August 14, 2005
I just upgraded to DasBlog 1.8. Very clean and smooth process. The theme of this release had very much to do with eliminating spam. Find out more about the the release via Scott’s blog entry. Congrats to both Scott and Omar on improving an already fine product!
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
I am trying to get the combination of BlogJet FTP working from behind an ISA Server 2004 connecting to DasBlog.
Has anyone worked with this particular combination before and gotten it to work? I have no issues with the blog postings but it is the BlogJet FTP (which allows one to embed pictures in blog postings) that I am having issues with. I could be wrong, but I do not think that ISA is the issue but I thought I would mention it just for completeness sake.
I keep getting an error that “Test failed. Please check your settings. Cannot upload test file. Access is denied.” My ISP does support FTP and I have no issues logging in with a regular FTP Client.
I had pinged Scott to see if he was using the BlogJet FTP functionality and he let me know that he was. He also mentioned something about an FTP related firewall configuration that made me come back to the firewall as a problem source. And it was indeed an ISA Server Problem! I recently upgraded to SBS2003 SP1 which upgraded my firewall from ISA Server 2000 to ISA Server 2004. It would appear that by default ISA Server configures FTP to be read only. I found the following two weblog entries to be very helpful in resolving my issues:
One curious note was that while the FTP functionality now works (You should be seeing an ISA 2004 graphic on this entry), the BlogJet “Test this configuration…” did NOT work for me.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
I am considering buying an Oyster Docking Station…. It looks like an ideal way to get an eye level second monitor when combined with MaxVista.
Has anyone used the Oyster in combination with a Toshiba M200 Tablet? Any problems or gotchas I should be aware of?
Thursday, June 30, 2005
I am now a Developer Security MVP!
Microsoft has started a new MVP Competency area focusing on Application/Development Security. World-wide there will be a total of 18 of us (9 current MVPs who are being moved to this new competency area, and 9 new folks who are brand new MVPs). Lots of familiar names....
I've been an ASP.NET MVP for 3+ years now. It has been a fun ride and I will continue to associate and interact with the ASP.NET team via my affiliation with the ASPInsiders. But I am really looking forward to engaging with the AppSec focused teams at Microsoft.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
The multi-talented Scott Hanselman maintains the “Ultimate Developer and Power Tool List” which is definitely something one needs to look at to improve productivity. And of course, each time I read it, I just have to go and try out another tool
My latest perusal of the list got me hooked on SlickRun, Del.icio.us, TaskSwitchXP, Cropper and Urlograph among others. I did install Windows Desktop Search but took it out after a while. It may have been subjective but I felt as though my system got a bit slower (and this was after the indexing was done). Of course, that may mean that it is time for me to get a new system!
Trying out BlogJet right now. Looks good, especially the DasBlog integration. Although it does not seem to support the “Post as Draft” feature with DasBlog. For example, if I make a post from NewsGator with the DasBlog plug-in, the post on DasBlog is not automatically published. I actually have to set the “Publish” flag in order make it public. Would have been nice if this BlogJet feature mapped to that particular DasBlog capability.
[Kal Ho Naa Ho (Sad) - Kal Ho Naa Ho]
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Now that most folks have enabled Captcha and Referral Blacklists on their weblogs, the spammers have moved on to Trackbacks as a mechanism for spamming. The particular spam domains that I am dealing with are coming from the *.cn tld and I think from one particular domain which I refuse to even mention in order to prevent any type of traffic flow.
I've been dealing with it for a while now and finally got tired enough of it to turn off the Trackback service in DasBlog. Hopefully this is something that Scott and others working on DasBlog are aware of and have plans to address in a the next rev version of DasBlog.
Looks like that is not an option :-(
After turning off the TrackBack service, if you click on the Trackback link at the bottom of a post, you get the following error:
HTTP status string is not valid.
Description: An unhandled exception occurred during the execution of the current web request. Please review the stack trace for more information about the error and where it originated in the code.
Exception Details: System.Web.HttpException: HTTP status string is not valid.
Wonder if the issue is unique to me, or is this a DasBlog problem.... Anyone?
Monday, May 9, 2005
Big congratulations to my friend, Andrew Duthie, for a very well organized, interesting and useful Code Camp. He had a lot of support from the local community, but as is often the case in events like these, there is one person who is the driving force behind the entire thing who is making sure that the thousand big and small details are taken care of. Andrew did an excellent job!
The talks were very interesting and wide ranging. The hard part was deciding which talks to attend. I stopped in to see Brian Noyes who was giving a talk on "Secure Smart Client Deployment and Update with ClickOnce". Very, very interesting technology that seems to be maturing very well. This is something that I am interested in both personally and professionally and will be taking a serious look at deploying once .NET 2.0 goes RTM. The one thing that I want to find out is what the corresponding technology on the J2EE side is. And no, it is not Webstart.
A talk that I very much enjoyed was Julie Lerman’s "Web Services Security for Humans: Security Fundamentals". The content was not new to me, but Julie did an awesome job of making it much more approachable and understandable "… for humans". I absolutely loved her graphics that described Symmetric and Asymmetric Encryption as well as Digital Signatures. As I mentioned to her when we met for dinner with Wally McClure, I will absolutely be "leveraging" (with full credit to her, of course) her graphics in any relevant presentations that I give on this topic.
Speaking of Wally, it was good to see him again as well. BTW, when you are checking out ASP.NET 2.0 and you do NOT run into bugs, you can thank Wally. He’s definitely been one of those people who have been seriously digging into the guts of the framework and feeding back info to Microsoft on the things that go bump in the night. This makes him one of the first people that I’ll ping if I have any questions about ASP.NET 2.0.
It was also great to run into Dwayne Taylor again. He gave a talk on "Using WSE to Build Secure Web Services". Dwayne is another Security Geek and he was a fellow presenter at the Washington D.C DevDays. He was doing the Threats presentation while I was doing the Countermeasures presentation. He works for RDA and is currently doing a consulting stint with Microsoft. The strange thing for me was to find out that I am currently acting as an external reviewer for some of the work that he is doing. Small world, indeed!
Stopped by the BizTalk 2004 talk but left soon after finding out they were doing the basic BizTalk intro. I’d taken Developmentor’s "Essential BizTalk 2004" class some time back (Excellent class and instructor!) and have been working with the product for a while, so that was nothing new. So I dropped in on K. Scott Allen who was doing the "Debugging Tips, Tools and Strategies". His virtual machine was not cooperating with him, but he made a good recovery and managed to get his point across.
All in all, a very worthwhile event and highly recommended.
Monday, December 20, 2004
When I wrote about Reliability and Security in a home network environment earlier, I never realized that I would have to put it to the test so soon!
About a week ago, my SBS 2003 server started hootin' and hollerin' at me. It turned out that the 200GB hard drive that held all of my data was the culprit. I rebooted the machine, came into the drive diagnostics and found out that the new drive that held all of my data had just given up the ghost! But since that drive was configured in a RAID 1 (Mirrored) configuration I had a bit of a reprieve. I broke the array, took the defective drive out of the drive caddy and rebooted. Everything just came up just fine! Sweet!
I immediately increased the frequency of my backups to my external USB drive to daily instead of weekly and called the drive manufacturer to request a replacement. I got the replacement drive today, loaded it into the drive caddy, brought up the RAID controller console, and asked it to rebuild my RAID 1 array. It took more than 2 hours, but I just got notified that the drive array rebuild was complete and that my RAID 1 array was functioning properly. My paranoia.. ah.. excuse me.... My disaster recovery and contingency plan just got validated big time!
Saturday, December 18, 2004
I am looking for some drive imaging software that I can use to take a snap-shot of both my Windows 2003 server and my XP Pro clients. After looking over the online specs for both True Image and Ghost, I am not exactly clear if taking an image of Windows 2003 is supported (XP is) in both products WITHOUT upgrading to the "Enterprise-class" version of both products.
In short, I want to do manual images of both Windows 2003 and XP Pro. I am not at this point looking for live/incremental snap shots of Windows 2003. Will the entry level versions of True Image and/or Ghost do this job? Any practical experiences to share on the usage of one or both?
Friday, December 17, 2004
I am currently running SBS 2003 with ISA Server. One of the reasons I wanted to do this was that SBS by default comes with a Windows SharePoint Services site ("Companyweb") and I wanted to explore custom web part development.
Well.. I have not even gotten to that point yet. Playing around with third party web parts, I installed SmilingGoat's FeedReader web part to bring up some RSS feeds on my SharePoint site and I am consistently getting the following error message:
Searching for your RSS feed has timed out.
If you use a proxy server, please make sure the address and port are correct in the Web Part settings.
If you do not use a proxy server, please validate the RSS feed URL is correct.
I have configured the proxy name and the proxy port on the web part settings within the shared view of the web part AND this is a stable feed that I am going against (The KBAlertz SharePoint RSS feed) AND I have no issues accessing the Internet via the browser that is configured with the same proxy settings.
So I put that on hold for a bit and deployed the SmartPart 220.127.116.11 web part which enable you to host ASP.NET user controls within it. After installation of the SmartPart in the GAC via the install routine, I drop the SmartPart List onto the "Companyweb" page and choose the provided "Dropdown Navigation Sample" example. The site at that point dies with the following error:
The "UserControlWebpart" Web Part appears to be causing a problem.
I have to go and disable/delete the web part in order for the "Companyweb" SharePoint site to come up again.
I am wondering at this point if there is anything unique about the SharePoint installation on the SBS 2003 box or if anyone has encountered such an error before. Bit frustrating!
I would very much appreciate any pointers anyone can provide to troubleshooting this issue.
Tuesday, November 9, 2004
I live and work in the state of Maryland in the U.S. which is classified as the Microsoft Mid-Atlantic district. If you want to get information and help at a local level from Microsoft, you need to know the local players. And the level of support and engagement you get is often very subjective and dependent on the perspectives of the local representatives of the Empire.
Unfortunately, all too often what you run into is a pure sales driven attitude with no thought given to any type of long term relationship building. Even though there is more transparency at the Home Office (Redmond) level, I personally do not believe that Microsoft, especially at the local level, really get relationship management and long term relationship building. But that is a topic for another day.
Fortunately, there are exceptions to every rule and we in the Mid-Atlantic district are fortunate that we have TWO exceptions to the rule. And those exceptions go by the name of Geoff Snowman, our local Developer Community Champion and G. Andrew Duthie, our local Developer Evangelist.
These guys DO get it and are simply awesome!
Together, their responsibilities cover everything from User Group Support to Enterprise Customer Support. With the wide variety of technologies and products that I've been looking at recently, there have often been questions that I needed answered and these guys have come through every time with information or pointers to resources who have the information. I just wanted to take this opportunity to say a very public "Thank You" to both Geoff and Andrew.
.... is that you become very engaged at work. And this is a good thing!
These days I am focusing a great deal on Collaboration (Both real-time and asynchronous), Business Process Management, Service Oriented Systems implemented via web services and more, all within a framework that has very high security needs.
On top of that I am also Blogging internally, which on some levels draws in some of the energy that I used to spend on Blogging externally. I could blog to my external blog from work and I know that my employer would not have any issues with it (yup, we've talked about it). But I've made a conscious decision to NOT blog to my personal blog from work simply to separate my work voice from my personal voice. Which means going forward I have to make a more conscious effort to put more of a balance between Blogging at work and Blogging at home.
But, I do like going to work...
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Heather is looking for a few good resumes over at Microsoft... Link and be found.
I thought about it, posted a link, thought about it some more, changed my mind and took down the link (all within the span of 2 minutes). I like my life
Saturday, October 9, 2004
I've been wanting to try out a dual monitor setup for some time now but don't have a second monitor. But what I do have is a Toshiba Tablet PC that normally is not being used at the same time as my primary PC.
Enter the MaxVista software. This is a software only solution that requires a simple network connection between your primary PC and a second machine that is going to be used as the second display. I install the Maxvista software on my primary PC, run a little viewer software on my tablet and now have a second monitor next to my primary one! No fuss, no muss and the great thing is that I can individually set the resolution on the second display to match the native resolution. My tablet is running at 1400 x 1050 so using the software I get full use of that screen real estate.. Very nice indeed.
Definitely recommend that anyone who is interested check it out @ http://www.maxivista.com/
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
If you inform someone you will get back to them.. do so. If you make a commitment, keep it. If you cannot, make sure you inform the person with enough of a lead time so that they can make alternate plans. Otherwise what you demonstrate is a lack of professionalism, a lack of courtesy, and a lack of respect for the time of the other person. Not to mention the fact that it will tend to royally torque the person off. This is especially not a good idea when that person is one of your best proponents and has a very public voice.
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Oh, I like this! And this also brings home the fact that I am simply not the network/datacenter guru that Beau is. Wonder if I can co-opt his knowledge with a mail-order case of "Fat Tire" Just for the record, since a certain somebody introduced me to that particular "beverage", I've been looking for that locally. I was sadly informed that no-one imports that into Maryland!
I've also come to the realization that one of the other possible advantages to a Rack-Mount configuration is that since the individual units are rather unobtrusive, it may take a bit of time for my better half to notice when I get a new computer. That way I can utilize the tried and true "Don't ask for permission, ask for forgiveness" methodology of getting a new box in the house
Monday, September 6, 2004
I am thinking of implementing a content management system for my site and was looking at what is available in the wild. The primary ones that came up on my radar were DotNetNuke, the ASP.NET Community Starter Kit and Rainbow portal.
DotNetNuke seemed to have the most traction from a community support perspective, so I downloaded and installed it. The first thing that I noticed is that in order to run this portal software, I have to give the ASP.NET process account full CRUD rights on the file system. Hmm... Ah.. Don't think so! It sure looks pretty though
So following up on my traditional philosophy of "When in doubt, talk to someone who actually knows something about the topic on hand", I pinged fellow CMAP .NET User Group member Scott Allen, who has written a book on this topic (Building Websites with the ASP.Net Community Starter Kit). After talking with Scott about my requirements, I decided that an option would be to start with the ASP.NET Community Starter Kit and modify the code base to meet my own requirements. Those requirements would focus heavily on security, logging etc. and will use threat models to drive the security features. In addition there are some features that are implemented in the CSK, such as skinning and master pages, which I can redo much easier using ASP.NET 2.0. Yes, I needed an excuse
Of course, first I would have to grok the existing code base, which means I will be ordering Scott's book, which has recieved darn good reviews at Amazon.
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Just wanted to emphasize that, as noted in my disclaimer in the footer of every page, "The postings on this weblog are solely my opinions and do not represent the thoughts, intentions, plans or strategies of anyone else, including my employer."
Yes.. the above was sparked by this. I am incredibly fortunate that I currently work in an environment where my management understands the value and benefits of engaging with and participating in the technical community. In fact one of the expectations of my job, which I very much enjoy, is to keep up with what is going on in the community and bring in any relevant knowledge. Yes, I do have an internal weblog that I maintain as well.
But SecureCoder is my own voice and one of the things that I try to avoid is to blog to my personal weblog (SecureCoder) during work hours. So far I've been successful, but sometimes it is very hard.....
Thursday, August 26, 2004
I implemented a search functionality on SecureCoder using the wondrous supercomputer that is Google. For those visiting the site, the search page is linked off My Links navigation. Direct link @ http://cyberforge.com/weblog/aniltj/Search.aspx
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
A friend of mine runs a web design company who each year "..... selects a non-profit organization in need of a web site, or web site redesign and provides this service free of charge."
BTW, this is a nationally known company whose clients have included Bank of America, Department of Energy, AOL, NASCAR and Sony to mention just a few, so we are not talking about a lightweight here
So if you have a favorite 501[c]3 non-profit organization that you think could use this organization's help, please use the weblog contact form to email me the name of the organization, the point of contact in charge of the web site, the mailing address, phone and if at all possible, an email address for inclusion.
I will collate and forward for their consideration.
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
And so it begins….
I have accepted an offer of employment from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL).
Back in February, I began a new phase of my life when I resigned from the company that I had worked at for more than 12 years. It was not a decision that I made lightly. I fully expected to and prepared for spending 6+ months looking for the right job. Instead I was pleasantly surprised at the wide variety of opportunities that opened up. Needless to say, I would directly attribute that to my participation in the industry and the community, and the associated networking that is an implicit part of such participation. Within a very short amount of time, I was engaged as a System Architect with a national client through a consulting house that I had maintained good relationships with over the course of the years. I had a blast! The work was interesting and the people, both at the client site and the consulting company, were great to work with.
But times of change are also times for reflection and discovering what is important in life. And as is often the case with life, when one door closes in your life, many others open. Upon reflection, job satisfaction for me came down to:
- Working with smart people
- Working on cool technology
- Making a difference in the world
- And above all ...
... the job must provide me the ability to give the right answer to the question all fathers face from their children:
"Daddy, What do you do?"
"I help to solve problems that will make the world a better place."
I am so excited!
Tuesday, June 8, 2004
Anyone out there written a dotText to dasBlog conversion utility? Willing to share?
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
I happen to think that Casey is one of the smartest developers out there. Period.
I usually try to hold in my comments when it comes to other people's ideas of political correctness. But since I've actually met Casey in person, I do have a perspective that I wanted to share.
I first "met" him online when I was running LearnMobile.com and finally met him in person at this year's MVP Summit. I have found him to be personable, intelligent and honest. His website is a reflection of his personality. He is also one of the most technically brilliant people that I've ever come across. Just take a look at the articles section of his site and you'll see what I mean.
Anyone who goes into automatic "Political Correctness" mode without taking the whole person into account here is losing out on employing one of the best developers that you will ever come across. For another perspective take a look at what Bill has to say.
Microsoft could do worse than to hire this man. Perhaps the “Best Recruiters at Microsoft“ can help out?
BTW Casey, you can hang out with me any time!
[Now Playing: Maahi Ve - Kal Ho Naa Ho]
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
- Sandy is a Group Product Manager for the Platform Architecture Guidance Group (PAG)
- Makers of Patterns & Practices
- He is very community focused
- He is the Energizer Bunny of the PAG
- He is a nice guy and will not whack me upside the head for calling him names
[Now Playing: Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai - Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai]
Friday, April 9, 2004
This was my second time attending a Microsoft MVP Summit in Seattle. The weather gods were smiling on us for the entire week as we had spectacular weather (mild and sunny!) each and every day.
If you are expecting anything technical for the rest of this post, you may as well stop. The MVP Summit was under NDA. End of discussion.
For me the summit has always been about people and the connections you make and renew. On the renewing connections side, it was definitely great to hang out with my friend Andrew. I know that one of the reasons that I click with him is that he is as close to his family as I am to mine. Since our wives and kids were three time zones away, you could practically guarantee that one of us would be trying to find a quiet spot every morning and every evening to make sure that we did the "Wake them in the morning" and "Put them to bed" calls every day. Needless to say, it is good to be home!
On making new connections topic, I finally got to meet Beau Monday and his wife Jessica. I've "known" Beau via his weblog for a while now and have always been impressed by his knowledge and passion. It was great to finally meet him and Jessica in person. Jessica was very understanding of the geek talk She works full time in the finance field AND is just one course away from completing her MBA. Some serious dedication there!
We had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory in Seattle and another one of my friends, PJ, joined us as well. PJ is someone you would definitely classify as a "character". He used to be a PSS Support Engineer at Microsoft at one time and then moved into the Microsoft community area, which is a great fit for him as he is a very people oriented person. These days he works on Microsoft's involvement with the Security community so there were definite topics of common interest
I also got introduced to a .... Fat Tire. Now, let me just say that the limits of my alcohol consumption usually stop at a good glass of wine. I've never been interested in hard liquor and have never acquired a taste for beer. But since a lot of my friends do seem to find enjoyment in beer, and it all too often acts as a social lubricant, I've made a concerted effort to find some beers that taste good to me, just for those social occasions. After more than 2 years of searching, my beer selection is still only up to two, Alexander Keith Pale Ale and Earl's Albino. Both of which were introduced to me by my brother-in-law and both of which are native to the Canadian province of Alberta. So I am glad to report that, per Beau's recommendation, the Fat Tire is now part of my limited selection of beers
I know that we got there at 6 p.m. and by the time we were done, it was after 9 p.m. The food was great and the desserts were excellent. It was, as all good conversations should be, wide ranging and comfortable. I had a great time and regretted that it had to end.
So I think it is appropriate that I close this entry out with an ancient Irish blessing:
"May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be ever at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again,
May God hold you
In the hollow of his hand"
Thursday, April 1, 2004
Postings are going to be pretty much non-existent next week as I will be attending the MVP Global Summit at Microsoft's Redmond campus.
More than anything, I am looking forward to networking, talking tech and hanging out with friends and acquaintances. In some cases I will finally be meeting face to face with people who I currently know only via email/blog/listserve/forums. Looking forward to it!
[Now Playing: Radha Kaise Na Jale - Lagaan]
Sunday, March 14, 2004
"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably in themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die." - Daniel Hudson Burnham
[Now Playing: Maahi Ve - Kal Ho Naa Ho]
Sunday, March 7, 2004
"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it. " - Buddha
[Now Playing: Mitwa - Lagaan]
Saturday, March 6, 2004
Looks like Scoble went to a David Allen Seminar.
I first read David's book "Getting Things Done" about 2 years ago. And I still remember spending an entire Thanksgiving holiday clearing out my house and organizing things. It was the best thing that I ever did. I've also invested the time to convert Outlook to conform to David's Getting Things Done methodology and I find the combination of Outlook with my SmartPhone very powerful. This works very well for me.
I do agree with Scoble when he says that getting organized is something that you need to discover on your own. I've been trying to convince my wife, with little success, for some time now. Oh well!
I do NOT agree with him that David needs an RSS feed. Would be nice, but not a requirement. Sorry, but RSS is not the be all and end all of relationship building. David builds relationships via a newsletter you can subscribe to on his website and it has worked very well for him. Besides, I like the visually appealing newsletters he sends out.
Tuesday, March 2, 2004
John Porcaro comments on Donald Trump's 7 Rules of Success and adds the MS ingredient into the mix. John is a marketing manager at Microsoft who is very passionate about his work.
Donald's 7 Rules of Success
1 You have to be born with enough brainpower. At Microsoft, we have built a culture around hiring brainpower. Every day I wonder how I snuck through, and I aspire to be smarter and more engaged. But every now and then I deal with groups outside of our company, and without sounding like an egocentric jerk, I'm usually left being grateful that I work with such a stellar bunch. There are very few who I think aren't smart. Uninformed, egotistical, competitive, but never stupid.
2 Once you have that, you have to love what you're doing. I've never seen anyone succeed who didn't love what they were doing. Wow. Even for the Donald, this is profound. I've seen people in jobs they're not qualified for really do great things because they're engaged. There is rarely a substitute for passion. It's why you should do everything you can to find a job you're passionate about.
3 You cannot stop. If there is a concrete wall in front of you, you have to go through it. You can never, ever give up or even think in terms of giving up. This, I see too much of. As managers, it's common to set limits because of scope or budget or permission. The most successful people don't do that.
4 Confidence is a very important thing. But confidence isn't something you just develop by saying "I'm going to do this or that." You really have to believe it. Something I've learned in my experience. There are those that have "false" confidence, and calling BS is become an art form here at Microsoft. Really being confident is something I struggle with, because it comes from experience, skill, knowledge, and you have to have some natural talent for your job.
5 I love pitting people against each other. My whole life is based on that. It brings out the best in people and the worst in people. If the worst comes out, you don't want them working for you. Microsoft was built as a competitive meritocracy. Our reviews are competitive. Our hiring is competitive. And we reward winners. We're shifting to being more of a collaborative company, but if you hire scrappy, competitive people, they'll do what it takes to succeed (the effective manager knows how to harness this type of employee).
6 You have to remain cool under fire and let criticism roll off you. Good leaders handle conflict easily and bad ones are eaten up by it. Very, very true. I often remark that the difference between positive and negative criticism comes down to trust. When you know someone is trying to help you with conflict, it can be the most important ingredient to a successful team--it keeps people accountable and collaborative. When people think you're trying to harm them (a danger in too competitive an environment), conflict can quickly shut down productivity.
7 You must work well with others and be loyal to your team. Disloyalty is the worst of all traits. I seldom use the words "You're fired!" in business, unless somebody is really scum and stole from me. Interesting. We too rarely "fire" anyone (our attrition rates, even our "good" attrition rates, are below average). Usually that's a good thing. I think this is more about human nature and reflects the social nature of business. Nobody wants to associate with disloyal people, even if the thing they're being loyal to is a project or a workgroup. That's another reason competitive cultures can be harmful. Being loyal goes beyond kissing up to your boss or toeing the company line. It comes down to relationships and shared experiences and most of all shared goals. If you're really working as a team, and everyone's doing their part, amazing things can happen. And when someone slacks off or sabotages another employee, they might last a little while, but before long, they'll hear from their boss:
[Now Playing: Aankhen Khuli - Mohabbatein]
Well.. Well, Srinath has a blog as well! It is about time the PAG started stepping out front and center!
Srinath worked on both:
Building Secure ASP.NET Applications: Authentication, Authorization, and Secure Communication.
Improving Web app security: Threats and Countermeasures.
and he is currently involved with the "Performance & Scalability" Guidance.
You can find him @ http://blogs.msdn.com/srinathv/
[Now Playing: Mujhko Huyi Na Kabar (Le Gayi) - Dil To Pagal Hai]
Thursday, February 26, 2004
Welcome and Subscribed (.. which I can now do since you actually have an RSS Feed!)
His past blog can be found @ http://dotnetsweatshop.blogspot.com/.
His new blog is @ http://blogs.msdn.com/sandyk/
Sandy in his own words: "I'm a Product Manager in the Microsoft Prescriptive Architecture Group responsible for defining developer guidance titles for the .NET Platform under the “patterns & practices” series. I worked to help deliver titles such as the Windows 2000 Security Operations, Exchange 2000 Security Operations, Unix Application Migration, SQL High Availability, and I also worked with Srinath & company on Building Secure ASP.NET Applications.
Before joining Microsoft, I spent time as an Integration Engineer for Lockheed Martin, an Applications Engineer for the Intel Developer Relations Group, founder of small software multimedia startup, and a management consultant for the Boston Consulting Group. I have a B.S.E.E. and M.Eng. from the Cornell University, a B.A. in Physics from Ithaca College, and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania."
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Monday, February 23, 2004
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all doing direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only." - Charles Dickens
It is a time for endings and beginnings.
An Ending - After more than 12 years with my current employer, I gave my notice today.
A Beginning - I am looking forward with excitement to what the future brings!
- Anil John
Sunday, February 22, 2004
I saw this some time back on Chris Sells's web site  and have applied it successfully to avoid the online version of the "Foot in Mouth" syndrome. I just wish I had known about this earlier in my career, as there are things I could have avoided
It is a way to defer sending of an E-Mail for 2 Minutes under Outlook.
- Tools->Rules Wizard
- Start From A Blank Rule
- Check messages after sending
- Which condition(s) do you want to check? -> None
- This rule will be applied to every message you send. Is this correct? -> Yes
- What do you want to do with this message? -> defer delivery by a number of minutes
- a number of minutes -> 2
I had mentioned the rule to others and recently a friend of mine asked me if there was a way to override this rule for specific circumstances. Ex. Sending an e-mail to yourself from work to home, or sending a quick note to a friend etc.
Yes, there is:
- Create a Category in Outlook called "SendMailNow"
- Modify the rule such that it applies only if the mail is marked with that category.
- Attach a category to the message you want sent immediately by going to
New Message > View > Options > Category Selection Box.
Since attaching the category is a multi-step process and is NOT the default action, hopefully it is something that you employ only on an as-needed basis. Of course, if you find yourself using that option for every single E-Mail, you should probably NOT implement the rule exception
[Now Playing: Sona Sona Soniye - Jaal]
Friday, February 13, 2004
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." - George Bernard Shaw
Thursday, February 5, 2004
"You know, I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So, now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe." - Marcus Cole, Babylon 5
[Now Playing: Mitwa - Lagaan]
A friend forwarded this article link to me today.. The article is by a former PM at Microsoft. It struck me on so many levels.
[Now Playing: Jaage Jaage - Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai]
Monday, February 2, 2004
"I think the first virtue is to restrain the tongue; he approaches nearest to gods who knows how to be silent, even though he is in the right." - Cato the Elder
[Now Playing: Kuch Kuch Hota Hai - Kuch Kuch Hota Hai]