Aquarium Blog

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

MSN Toolbar: More Innovative Everyday

I downloaded MSN Messenger 6.2, and wanted give the new included toolbar a try.

I am a firm believer that Microsoft actually innovates. But MSN Toolbar? Well, imitation is the best form of flattery, isn't it? The same could be said about the Yahoo toolbar, etc. Actually, I don't know who invented it. Who was first? Ok, I know, I know, must be Xerox PARC ;)

All I miss in it is Google itself, and Blogger's blog-this button. Messenger is there, apparently just to make clear that the toolbar and the messenger belongs to the same company. Why do I need it there when I have it in the tray area?, I don't know.

Everybody knows Microsoft has plans to compete with Google, but what about a blogging site?

Every company in the Internet space begins to look so much alike. I agree with that guy Vazz said in Channel9:

OK now for the real question. When is Hotmail getting the 1 GB storage account? ;-)

Sunday, April 25, 2004

I made it to GMail! Now what?

Having 1 GB to play in a free and fully googable email server is a great thing. But I have had accounts in and Hotmail for years. Everybody I know have my addresses. So, from a business perspective, what would Google need to really make me switch to GMail? Well, basically everything MSN and Yahoo give me, and then some more:

1. Have an instant messenger integrate with my GMail account.
2. Aggregate my other POP3 (and probably HTTPMail accounts).
3. Let me upload 10 years of emails in PST and text files (in the ancient times a friend provided me access to email thru UUCP, and I keep my archives).
4. Write a transport provider or an add-in for Outlook that lets me keep my local email client synchronized (I was about to ask for POP3 access, but if this is not an option...).
5. Integrate with Plaxo or do something like Plaxo does.

I seems that Google wants to go a step at a time. They must be worried for the privacy groups reaction right now. So, would they want to have a unfied login facility like Microsoft Passport? I guess some of the features I mention are in the plans and others are being purposedly avoided.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Charlie Kindel's Blog: Technology Complexity

I found this guy thru Channel9. I think he is so right in this blog entry.

If it is a V1 product, build it for customers who will actually use it and will be able to help you learn. It would be a shame to enable a whiz-bang new scenario that geeks would get and love, but you've de-tuned it so much by focusing on Aunt Tillie that geeks find it unusable. Aunt Tillie won't buy it because she can't comprehend the concept and geeks won't use it because it's not flexible enough. In the end you won't learn anything (other than the lesson I'm describing here). And most importantly, you will not have moved the world forward.

Friday, April 23, 2004

X1 and how software is such a complex business

I downloaded the X1 trial today, after reading about it in Chris Sells Spout. The product allows you to search inside files & email, giving you the taste of WinFS today. So far using it has been so amazing, I think the product needs to become a platform and should have its own SDK (haven't checked if it does).

But anyway I had to write my first email to customer service:

Virus in attachment disclosed by X1?


Just a few minutes after installing X1, the antivirus starts seeing viruses in the c:\documents and settings\username\local settings\temp\x1 folder. It was really frightening at first. I though X1 was downloading viruses to my computer. But after a couple of seconds I realized that X1 must be copying all file attachments from my emails to its temp folder in order to index them. Of course, those files are coming to the surface for the first time. Until now they were blocked both by email client and by me.

I am guessing your software must be using some kind of custom parser for the PST files to achieve the best performance, so the parser gets access to attachments that would be otherwise blocked.

Right now I don't know what, but you should do something soon to avoid doing this, or you will scare your customers all around world.



Updated on Sat Apr 24. I received email from X1 today:

Hi Diego,

You’re good and you’re right about fixing that. In our latest build, that shouldn’t happen any more.

Sorry for the scare. I’m glad it’s working well for you beyond that!

Rob McClinton
Director of Customer Care
X1 Technologies

I am glad to help!

My Visited Countries (from World66)

This is a nice idea I found this thru Peter Koen's blog. I think Alaska should be listed separately. It is a too much big chunk of territory by itself, but it gets colored when you check on USA.

create your own visited country map
or write about it on the open travel guide

Haven't checked if I can create another map for the places I want to go. What about my favorite countries? Nah, this is one of the worst ideas I have ever had! ;)

Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments

UPDATED ON 11/09/2005: The original link to the html version does not work anymore. I updated it and now points to the PDF version.

I am so happy to announce I was able to found the link to the Psychology paper about how Jerks are often stupid that I mentioned in the Arrogance vs. Stupidity discussion in Channel 9. I am going to post it right now there!

Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments

If you haven't yet, read it. It is such a piece!

By the way, Scoble also posted in the discussion his view of arrogance as a matter of personal history, which I think is very down to the point:

The problem with arrogance is that just because you were right yesterday doesn't mean you'll be right tomorrow.

"The bigger they are, the harder they fall."

I also want to quote these two old Chris Sells blog entries as examples of a rightfull arrogant who is also full of arrogance antibodies:

I had an interesting insight while watching Episode II: Attack of the Clones (I had a hankering to see Yoda kick some butt, OK?!?). The definition of expert is someone that just does whatever it is they do; they don't think about it. Everyone else is just learning. What drove this home for me was when Anakin heard of his mother being taken and how everyone else had failed or died looking for her, Anakin started out after her without any planning whatsoever. *That's* an expert. Of course, he had The Force and the rest of us have to live with an average amount of midichlorian, but he'd done what I've seen other experts do, too: unconscious competence.

InfoPath on Channel9

I can do whatever I want with my blog, and I can do whatever I want in Channel9 too. Even ruminate thigs like "if I were responsible of project xxx at Microsoft, I would do yyy", ok? This is my post on the InfoPath discussion at Channel9:

I think InfoPath really has a brilliant future. I can easily see it as the universal forms engine that should replace Access, Excel, Word and custom applications on a wide array of scenarios inside and outside organizations. It has the potential to fill most of the void left behind by Visual Basic when it stoped being a real RAD tool. It is the ideal weapon for tool-maxers as Sabot said.

The problem is, as you stated, that once you have all your forms in InfoPath, you realize that they don’t scale to a wide audience because there is no free runtime.

Microsoft thinks that it is enough to foster InfoPath as a solution for the intranet and tell you to write ASP.NET pages for everything else. I also think this is a mistake. Well, maybe it will still make sense for some time from a revenue stand point, but I think not for long.

If I were responsible for InfoPath at Microsoft I would be asking myself these questions:

1. What proportion of Office System 2003 sales is really being driven by InfoPath? Can we see a trend?

2. To what point is the lack of a freely distributable runtime jeopardizing the attractiveness of InfoPath?

3. What are the reasons not to adopt a royalty free distribution model a la Access Runtime for Visual Studio Tools for Office owners?

On the implementation side, I agree a client runtime would not hurt for disconnected or seldom connected scenarios. But for many others that would just add another piece of code to deploy. I believe Microsoft should better build something like a server runtime capable of loading InfoPath forms as ASP.NET pages. Of course, for whatever rich functionality that cannot be mimicked by standard HTML, such server runtime should degrade as gracefully as possible.

Regarding Jon Udell's article, I think Microsoft could be stuck in a trap. They actually don’t see market demand for this. Demand does not exist because customers that would otherwise adopt InfoPath don’t do it precisely because such runtimes do not exist.

We have many times heard that since InfoPath builds on XML standards and scripts it would be “reasonably easy” to create such a runtime. The problem is whenever we hear that, we know it means Microsoft is not committing to build it.

UPDATED Sunday, May 9, 2004:

I have just read a comment by "CD". Thank you for proving me wrong! So InfoView is what I thought didn't exist:

Welcome to the online demo of InfoView. InfoView is a web form creation engine that converts Microsoft InfoPath forms to web forms delivered in ASP.NET. See how it works by using the 3 demonstrations below.

BLOGGER inviting its active users to try GMail!

Although, I guess you must be an active BLOGGER user to see it in their main page.

Don Box's Spoutlet: Which is more toxic? Arrogance or Stupidity?

When Don Box asks a question I feel I can correctly answer, the lack of a comments facilty in his blog becomes extremely frustrating. I intended to blog about it, but I was to lazy until JJ5, a "software developer located in Sydney, Australia" had the idea to answer the question in Channel9. I found JJ5's entry interesting, so I abandoned my laziness and wrote about my own thinking like this:

JJ5, hey bloke, I somewhat agree with your musings. However, when I read the question in Don’s spoutlet yesterday, I felt rushed to tell him that arrogance and stupidity were more less the same thing.

A year ago I read some scientific study that suggested arrogance was clearly a form of stupidity. The document resonated so much with my experience on failed companies and bad bosses, that it quickly got close to the top of my own "must be true" heap.

Unfortunately my bookmarks are not helping me to find the link to the original publication. All I remember is it was popularly known as the "Jerks are stupid" whitepaper. I obviously need Microsoft to do a beta of "Stuff I Have Seen" as soon as possible.

Anyway, if I remember well, the basic hypothesis in the work was that lack of intelligence usually triggers overestimation of self competence (we can let alone the self valuation or self esteem topic) and also underestimation of the "problem space" one needs to tackle. In that sense, arrogance is both a symptom of stupidity and the source for much stupid behavior.

On the other hand, education is the most common means to improve the knowledge about the "problem space" and at the same time it helps to get a more accurate assessment of self skills.

So, to reconcile this view with yours, let’s build a model. If I had to guess the general behavior of arrogance as a function on the intelligence axis, I would say it should have a bactrian camel back shape:

0. The less intelligent people in this world don’t really care, so they are rarely arrogant.

1. People in the next, less stupid group, care about their competence but are not intelligent enough to realize they are not the centre of universe so they are extremely arrogant.

2. People in the middle group tend to find out quickly that they are in the middle so are less prone to arrogance. They know there is an immense quantity of people that are less intelligent than them (which they often attribute to an educational deficit), and they also realize of the existence of genius, a quality they often admire. Ideally, members of this group feel motivated to be more intelligent and less arrogant every day.

3. Like people in group 1, people belonging to group 3 see themselves as "arrogants for a good reason". The difference is that members of group 3 can get their perception validated by members of group 2 and up. So they are arrogants with feedback. Members of group 3 also tend to loose less time being arrogant than members of group 1. They are busy people and after all, they are intelligent enough to see no merit in being arrogant per se.

4. The ultimate wisdom: "One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing."

By the way, I liked my musings so much I will publish them on my own blog. Next time we can discuss why the only valid way to asses ones right to be arrogant is thru extensive external feedback. We can also analyze the concept of "relative stupidity" and why I should never post anything past midninght.

P.S.: Who is gonna tell Don Box his comments feed is here?

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Flaw in TCP?

From Yahoo news: Experts Race to Fix Serious Internet Flaw.

They talk about an exploit over a basic flaw in TCP that can make some routers crash. Interesting. A couple of weeks ago most Zyxel ADSL modems connected to my ISP were crashing every 10 to 20 minutes, but since then everything has been fine again. Maybe this guy Watson was testing his tools ;)

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Mac Voyeurism

I found this interesting Wired News article about Mac Voyeurs in a Windows World thru ActiveWin.

These paragraphs in particular is very interesting:

"They are intensely interested in knowing everything about how the Mac works. These people tell me -- almost emotionally -- how important they think Macintosh is. They usually say something like, 'It keeps Microsoft honest' or 'Bill Gates stole all his good ideas from Apple.'"

And there's one other thing about these folks, and this explains the voyeur part: They absolutely, positively, would not under any circumstances ever buy a Mac.

Well, maybe I am not exactly a Mac Voyeur, but I feel the second paragraph is a little unfair. I will never forget the first time I had a chance to enter a shop full of Apple products. That same day I decided I were going to buy a Mac. Of course I want to buy the best, so I will have to wait until I have plenty of money.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Next Visual Studio 2005 Preview on BitTorrent?

I think this is a great idea. By the way, where can I find a .NET implementation of BitTorrent?

My English sucks III (or is IV?)

I have just spent five minutes trying to read my last posts and I am once again amazed by my awful writing style.

It is very easy for me to realize when I am reading a nicely written blog, and mine isn't. The problem is that this skill I have is good to discriminate the good from bad but it is not helping me at all in producing good prose.

Still, I see some direct hits coming form people I don't know. Maybe there are some people besides Pink-Candle (Hi to you there!) that has bookmarked my blog! Thanks for your forgiveness to all! I would be amazed to know that somebody has actually subscribed to my feed.

Once again, apologizes.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Windows Server feedback

Some time ago I found that Microsoft created this site for receiving feedback on their Windows Server products. The sole fact that this site exists is a great advancement for them. But when I took the time to fill a form with my most outstanding complain, I only received a very polite answer, with some links to some not so useful information. As a result I am not sure the people processing the feedback have their "ears" too open, and in sum, I am not too convinced they are letting us help too much.

Here is the text of the feedback I sent:

Description of the scenario:

During file operations like copy, compress, uncompress, encrypt, decrypt on large files (i.e. more than 100MB), the OS often gets unresponsive. It is impossible to regain the control of the computer either to cancel the operation or for the server to perform any other background or interactive task. Also, UI often stops refreshing during those operations.

Current workaround method (if applicable):

I just try to avoid these operations during busy work hours. When there is no choice, I start the operation, and I go for a walk or coffee! I have looked at Windows Resource Manager, but I couldn't find any help for me on it.

Value or impact to your organization:

As with almost anything else, we could be more productive if we could just use the computer all the time.

Suggested solution:

I don't know if the problem is related to IO overloading the CPU or just due to some flaw in the task scheduling code. Anyway, there are should be some way to automatically throttle the resource usage of file operations. In addition, maybe a priority slide control along the progress bar in progress dialogs would be of help. A way to set a default priority would be useful too. It looks like there should be a general QoS approach to this kind of problem.

Thinking a little bit more about this, I think the File Server role has become a commodity a long time ago, and as a result, it has been disregarded, not only by Microsoft but by everybody else. Of course Windows Server 2003 is a faster and more scalable file server than previous versions, but the set of functionality in this domain hasn't changed for a while.

For instance, from a previous life, I know about the existence of some file server "optimizations" like "opportunistic locks" that are really bad for some old fashioned shared file applications (even for some Microsoft products like Visual Fox Pro), but still the only way to fine tune a file server in this regard (or almost in any other) is to touch the registry (there is no Management Console for the File Server role) and all changes are global to the server, when it could be very convenient to be able to tune each share independently.

Just thinking

I know some people that are afraid others will steal their ideas if they speak too loud in the open. For these people, ideas alone hold the secret to create and wipe up fortunes. Of course there are many actual examples of this happening (including some patent litigation cases).

I am not a believer on ideas by themselves. I think nobody should ever ignore the importance of other ingredients like self motivation, team work, and even pure luck. I know it because I have had some great ideas myself, but each time one or two of the other ingredients were absent. This is obviously one of the many reasons I am not still a millionaire at the age of 34 ;) (Not only that, but I sometimes struggle just to keep financial stability).

There is one businessman I have met in the last year and a half that seems to be completely the opposite. He seems to enjoy playing poker with his cards facing up. I guess he likes the challenge, and he must love the adrenaline, and god, he plays hard! I can say I respect him for this, but I couldn’t say I fully understand his reasons.

What is the point? I don’t know. Maybe this is part of my belief system review, and a way to find out what kind of fish I am in this sea.

LOL, now I see this could even be some kind of reflection on proprietary and open source software.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Naked Objects Framework

Once again, I have to find some time for reading. I have just found Naked Objects via James Tauber's blog (in turn via Tim Bray's blog).

TheServerSide.NET also has an article about the .NET version of it.

If this framework delivers what it promisses (developing complete applications by only coding "behaviourally complete" business objects), then it really worths whatever I need to do to find some time to read.

JavaWorld Editors: Sun without McNealy?

Jennifer Orr, editor of JavaWorld, has an interesting take on the Sun - Microsoft deal.

Her thinking could represent the point of view of the Java devotees (or should I say Sun dittoheads? ;). They feel defeat and dizziness.

My own take is that McNealy created his rhetoric for everybody else to believe it, not for himself.

Microsoft has always been a threat for Sun business model, so he came up with the idea of distilling some FUD. Pretty original! In more than one sense Microsoft was for Sun what Linux is for Microsoft.

But McNealy knew all the time that Sun and Microsoft are just companies, “neither good nor evil in their nature”, but really needing hard revenue.

He knew all the time that what Microsoft was doing with their Java Virtual Machine was just business. But he still pushed and pulled really hard and what did he get?

He got almost 2 billion dollars for Sun. Not bad, eh?

McNealy has showed how smart he is! Respectful applause! Now I cannot think of anybody better for the task.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Busy or just nothing to blog?

I haven't been blogging lately, however, I have been commenting on other blogs here and there.

Maybe there is nothing that surprises me enough to give it a second tough, or maybe I am going thru some kind of introversion period.

It is just that my beliefs-system is under maintenance, so every time I try to blog about something, the QA department puts both thumbs down.

Still, In the last days I have been meeting some interesting people, and I have been having interesting conversations with them, so, I guess I will find something to blog about soon.

By the way, for those that have been reading my blog thru some kind of translator (in either French or Spanish), I am so sorry it gets even more unreadealble than in English!

PatHelland's WebLog

I have just noticed thru Channel 9 that Pat Helland owns a blog. I guess I will need to find some time to read.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Yeah yeah, I know I haven't blogged lately

But this one was too good:

Adam Kinney - XAML Designer - Scoble suited up; ready to fly