Thursday, September 25, 2008

Because naked clowns are HOT!

Just when we thought the pleas of desperation from charities seeking to raise money couldn't get any worse, I'd like to point you to both one of the funniest and saddest things I've seen all week:

The Naked Clown Calendar

No, I am not joking.
Yes, you will have nightmares about this.

Apparently, professional clown, juggler, and wanna be porn star Judy Finelli and a few of her twisted buddies came up with the idea - probably after a wild night of drunken clown orgies - that people would pay to see clowns naked.

Oh, yeah, and support finding a cure for MS. But, really, do you care about finding a cure for MS? Admit it, you might say you're buying the calendar to help support those with MS but we both know you really just wanna see naked clowns. I mean, really, who wouldn't?

Why? Because naked clowns are HOT!
Don't believe me? Buy the 2009 calendar here and find out.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Is all the Vista hate legit or just uninformed?

Windows Vista has been a problem for Microsoft.

Since its introduction nearly two years ago, Vista has gone from being one of the most anticipated operating systems ever to one of the most hated. That, of course, is not without reason. There were a lot of problems Windows Vista users had to overcome if they were early adopters of the OS. Things like drivers not working, things randomly breaking, and the entire thing running incredibly slow on even decent hardware all conspired against Microsoft to make Vista one big PR nightmare.

But what about now?  How do Vista users fare in this post SP1 world?

Things have gotten a lot better!

Overall, nearly all of the early driver issues have been resolved. Every major hardware vendor has now issued Vista compatible drivers for their products and Vista itself includes very impressive out of the box hardware support.  SP1 fixed a lot of the crashes which, it turns out, were largely caused by incompatible hardware drivers being installed on the system and, the speed issue has been resolved largely due to a concerted campaign by Microsoft to ensure users understood the hardware power that was required to run Vista comfortably.

So what about the Vista haters still out there?  What is still so wrong with Vista that a large section of the IT world are still advising users to stick with XP until Windows 7 comes out in 2009?


Microsoft, through the Mojave Experiment, has learned that a lot of the Vista hate out there is simply bandwagon emotions brought on by all the negative things they've heard about pre-SP1 Vista. When users are sat in front of a computer and told that what they are working with is the NEW OS from Microsoft, they generally like it. They talk about things like how speedy and stable it is and how visually appealing it looks. When they are told it's really Vista, they are genuinely shocked because everything they know about Vista doesn't usually come first hand but rather from other Vista hating friends, family, and IT people who sometimes haven't even tried the OS at all.

The bottom line is this: Vista has come a long way. It's a very usable, stable, and reliable operating system that, while it still has some problems, Microsoft is working very hard to fix. If you've got a little extra money and your hardware is powerful enough, it is well worth the upgrade. Visually, you're going to love it and the ease of use and user friendly nature of the OS is going to shock you.

Why not have your own Mojave  Experiment today? Go to Best Buy and try out some Vista machines. One time and I guarantee you'll be hooked. It's not perfect and it might not be compelling enough to move from XP. But all-in-all, it's pretty sweet.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Help save an innocent man from his death tonigh!


Latest News: 10:25pm 09/23 - STAY OF EXECUTION!!
The U.S. Supreme Court has stayed Troy Davis' execution until Monday, September 29. You can learn more about it here

Latest news: 6:00pm 09/23 - A request for a stay of execution is before the Georgia Supreme Court and another before the US Supreme Court. Also, the Parole Board is being asked to reconsider its position and grant clemency.

Troy Davis, a now 40 year old man incarcerated in Georgia is scheduled to be executed tonight for a crime he didn't commit. Mr. Davis has launched several appeals and the court, Georgia Board of Pardons, and Governor of Georgia have all refused to step in and help.

You can read the details of Troy's case here but here are the highlights:

  • Off-Duty Savannah Police Officer Mark A. MacPhailen was murdered in 1989 by unknown assailants.

  • Shortly after the murder, Troy Davis was arrested and has spent the last 17 years on death row based on the testimony of 9 witnesses against him.

  • 7 of those 9 witnesses have since recanted their testimony.

  • No gun has ever been produced linking Troy to the murder

  • One of the witnesses that has not recanted his testimony is Mr. Sylvester Coles. There is new evidence that he may be the real gunman.

    Troy was convicted solely on police wittiness testimony. 7 of 9 of them have recanted their story

    Yet he is still on death row!
    He will still be murdered tonight for a crime he did not commit.

    I encourage all of you to visit the Troy Davis Amnesty International site and take action before it's too late. I'm writing this post quickly to get the word out and with no editing at all. Amnesty does a much better job of explaining things than I do. They also provide ways you can help save Troy.

    Thank you for your help.
  • Monday, September 22, 2008

    Microsoft pitches a tent

    Christian Balady and Sean James are insane. Why else would perfectly reasonable, educated, and skilled people, working in a multi-billion dollar company with some of the largest data centers in the world suddenly decide to take some servers and stick them under a tent in the fuel yard?

    Absolute lunacy? Maybe not.

    According to the pair, both Microsoft employees, the servers ran for 7 months with no downtime. Water dripped onto the rack. Nothing happened. Heat hit the tent. Nothing happened. A leaf stuck to a server panel. Nothing happened.

    What this means is that servers might be a lot hardier than we once thought and all this insanity of 35 degree cooled rooms that cost ungodly amounts of money per month to run might prove to be the real lunacy in this mix.

    Microsoft has already been running one of its Irish data centers on mostly outside air and has saved thousands of dollars in the process. Sure, when the temperatures soar, you have to turn on the air. But as long as things don't go above 80F, everything seems to be fine.

    I've been telling people for years that this obsession with super-cooled server rooms was silly. One of the first things I've always done when taking over a new server room is to make sure that the servers have proper breathing room and air circulation and then turn up the temperature. I've kept most of my rooms at 70F+ with no problems at all and cooling the room only when temps got uncomfortable.

    Don't get me wrong, nobody is saying that super-cooled server rooms are a thing of the past - yet. But it's becoming very obvious that we don't need to go to the lengths or the expense that's often associated with them. What we're seeing is a huge shift in the way we treat our servers and that's a good, economical thing.

    Servers, after all, should be green too.

    Saturday, September 20, 2008

    Interview with Rebecca Norlander of Microsoft

    Rebecca Norlander - Challenge and Success

    Rebecca Norlander works at Microsoft. She has been involved in the Windows XP SP2 project, the Excel and Internet Explorer projects, and has worked as part of the Windows Vista Security Team. She now serves as Technical Strategist to Chief Software Architect, Ray Ozzie.

    In this video, Rebecca discusses the challenges and successes she's experienced during her rise and ride through the Microsoft machine.


    Wednesday, September 17, 2008

    Who's to blame for the recent financial collapse? Maybe you!

    Today, the United States Government announced that it will offer an $80 billion dollar aide package to failing insurance company American International Group, commonly known as AIG. While experts agree that this amount might not be enough to prevent the company from eventually collapsing under its own weight, there are others who argue that the government should not have stepped in at all and should have let the company fail.

    I am one of those people.

    The recent Wall Street collapse of giants such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and even AIG can largely be tracked directly back to the whole sub-prime mortgage problems that started to come to light late last year and early this year.

    In a nutshell, companies such as Countrywide Financial got people financed through banks who were willing to extend loans to people with high risk. Often, these people had little or no verifiable sources of income and, in some cases, didn't even have jobs. Banks made bets on these people and companies like AIG made bets on the banks.

    Both lost.

    When the sub-prime mortgage industry collapsed earlier this year, the banks who made these exploitative loans were the first to be hit. Losing billions of dollars in a single week, three of the five major U.S. banks were forced into seeking protection and the government stepped in to help. Companies like AIG, because they insured the nearly bogus loans these banks issued, were soon effected too and quickly found themselves in very hot financial waters.

    Really, the insurance failures shouldn't surprise anyone once you understand how closely these companies were tied to bank and mortgage companies. It's all a domino effect and, while it might not seem like it, it will end when the market is cleaned up of the sub-prime mess. And, while the U.S. economy remains fairly strong, I believe we can reasonably expect more companies in the sector to fail just as a result of their own involvement in the wholly corrupt sub-prime industry.

    What I do not believe is that the government should come to the rescue of these companies. They understood the risks involved in dealing with a specific demographic of people and decided to accept the risks because they thought they could make money. There is a reason why our credit rating system exist: it is to allow people to gauge the likelihood of repayment failure should they extend payment to you. When someone has a low credit score, has defaulted on loans, has a bankruptcy, or doesn't have a job or other source of income, it could reasonably be assumed that they are highly likely to default on a new loan. If you choose to extend credit to them anyway, then that is a risk you are taking in the hopes that things will tip in your favor and you will be the loan they choose to repay.

    You'll be wrong most of the time.
    You'll lose money most of the time.
    You don't form an entire industry on this big of a bet.

    Companies like Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and AIG took a bet and lost. That's their problem, not the American taxpayers'. These companies should be allowed to fail because, when they accepted the risks, they did so with the understanding that things might not go their way. The government is not the insurance companies insurance company. Nor should it be banks banks or lenders lenders. Businesses should stand or fall based on their decisions and actions. Nothing more.

    Now, don't think I'm placing all the blame on these companies doorsteps. I blame the consumers who got these loans just as much, if not even more, than the companies who issued them. They knew they should not have gotten these loans. They knew they couldn't repay them. They knew that, eventually, there was a very good chance they would default.

    That is why they went to a high risk lender in the first place.

    They made a stupid and poor financial decision and now they are having to pay for it. It's sad that they lost their home but, really, it's a home they should not have had in the first place. They were not qualified to have the type of debt they assumed and they now have to pay the piper.

    The blame for the ongoing collapse of Wall Street? It rests on AIG. It rests on Freddie Mac. It rests on Fannie Mae. But it also rests on the shoulders of every single person who applied for and got a sub-prime loan. That's not a popular thought. But it's honest. And it's true.

    Once could almost call it a conspiracy of idiots. Unfortunately, we all have to pay for it now.

    Monday, September 15, 2008

    Is partnering with Microsoft right for your business?

    These days, it seems like everyone needs a villain. OU has the Texas Longhorns, McCain has Obama, and the computer world has Microsoft. Over the past 20 years, Microsoft has slowly moved from being one of the most respected companies in the industry to one of the most vilified and it might be very hard for any rational business person to imagine the idea of forging an actual partnership with the company that has become known for being greedy, anti-competitive, and even outright incompetent.

    But let's look at a different side of Microsoft for a moment. Let's look at its partner program. It's widely regarded as one of the absolute best in the industry and very friendly to small businesses willing to commit to the company's technology and programs and move beyond the religious frenzy that's sprung up over the years.

    I signed up my small company, OpenEMR HQ, as a "Registered Microsoft Partner" about six months ago. This is the lowest partner level one can commit to and requires no financial committment at all. At this low level, you might ask, what benefit could we get from the program? Isn't the entire goal of the Partner Program to make money?

    When we signed up for the program, I thought the very same thing. But I have been very pleasantly surprised by Microsoft's commitment to our business success. While their involvement in our company hasn't been as deep as it would be if we'd signed up to one of the higher levels, we're getting incredible benefits from our association with the company.

    At the "Registered Partner" level, Microsoft makes available an enormous amount of resources. Sales information, marketing materials, training, discounts, special customer promotions, and access to an incredibly diverse technology stack that really allows my company to offer a best of breed solution to our customers.

    As an independent software developer (ISV), it definitely doesn't hurt us to go into a meeting and mention that we're a Microsoft Partner. But Microsoft also provides us with a wealth of development tools, information, and training that make developing our software on the Windows Server and Windows Desktop platforms dead simple. In fact, as much as I'm an advocate of Linux, we would not have been able to move as fast on creating our new PhoenixEMR desktop application or be as productive as quickly had we stuck to that platform.

    I'm not saying we're abandoning Linux in any way. I'm saying we're slowly becoming more technology agnostic and realizing that 'evil' is, when it comes to some things, in the eye of the beholder.

    So how could a partnership with Microsoft help your business? There are a number of ways...

    First, you have access to Partner Resources. This alone provides you with enough information that you could build an entire business around it and never hunger for money. Partner resources include marketing information, technical sales information, full-featured marketing campaigns, podcasts with other Microsoft Partners who's done what you're trying to do, and more. It's really one of the most valuable aspects of the program.

    You'll also have access to technology discounts through Microsoft Action Packs. These low costs bundles provide full-version internal use software to help you run your business. You do have to meet some requirements and their is a fee associated with the program but they are well worth the costs and will save you incredible amounts of money.

    Lastly, we can't forget the technical sales and support that comes with partnering with Microsoft. Customers server down? No problem, call Microsoft and they will help you troubleshoot and resolve the issue for free. Need to put together a unique proposal for a new client? Call Microsoft and they'll give you current, discount pricing on everything you need that will help you win the deal.

    Keep in mind that everything we've discussed is available to "Registered Partners" which means there is no financial commitment. Increase your alignment with Microsoft and they will deepen their relationship with you. You invest in them and they invest with you. It really is a real partner situation.

    All-in-all, I realize that moving our business quickly forward is going to come with the help of Microsoft. We're aligning ourselves more closely with them and are already seeing returns from that alignment. We're learning that Microsoft is a good company that likes to win. And they understand that, when they help their partners win, they win too. They invest time, money, and resources in their partners like no other company I've worked with and I can tell that this is going to be a great partnership.

    We're upgrading our partnership this afternoon.

    Sunday, September 7, 2008

    Wednesday could be the end of the world

    The end of the world starting Wednesday the 10th ...the Vidéo of the Black Hole :
    press release :

    On Wednesday, 10 September, 2008, The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) will test the new Large Hadron Collider (LHC). This collider is the largest particle accelerator ever built and could become an incredible asset to scientists as they try to better understand our early universe from the Big Bang forward.

    While some project scientists have doubt that the LHC will even work at all, others within the program have expressed concern over what could happen if the process gets out of control for even a few fractions of a second. The results, these scientists say, could create a super massive black hole that, within hours, would swallow the entire earth and its nearby neighbors. The problem, say these scientists, is that nobody really knows what's going to happen when the collider is switched on. It's never been done before on this level.

    Colliders such as the LHC work by accelerating particles and then smashing them into each other thereby creating an explosion that, for a brief moment, creates a miniature version of the Big Bang. Smashing atoms in a collider on this scale could give the most accurate view of the formation of the universe we've ever seen. Or, it could end it all.

    The videos above are from a discussion on the video website Seesmic on the topic. The originator of the topic also provides links to both the CERN Press Release on the collider and a YouTube video that provides a simulation of what might happen if things go terribly wrong.

    What do you think will happen?
    If things go wrong, we might have as much as 36 to 72 hours before we're all toast.
    What would you do during those hours?

    Saturday, September 6, 2008

    How I've been using Eyejot to add that personal touch to business

    As most of you who read this blog regularly know, I'm a huge fan of a video mail service called Eyejot. With just a few clicks of a mouse, anyone with a web cam and microphone can send a video email to anyone on the planet with an email address. It's fast, easy, and dead simple to do. If you can send an email, you can use Eyejot.

    Because most of my companies customers and employees are scattered both around the United States and around the world (our entire development team is in India), communications can sometimes become bland and impersonal. It's not like when you're in a real office where you can walk in and visit with a team member or in the same city with your customer where you can invite them to lunch. So I've long been trying to come up with ways to personalize the interactions I have with both demographics.

    Eyejot, with a less than 5 minute signup, solved that problem immediately.

    Now, when I want to get something important across to a team member in India (or Seattle, for that matter), I log into my Eyejot account, click a few icons and I can record up to 5 minutes of pretty decent video that says exactly what I want to say and leaves no room for ambiguity at all. If I need to physically show them something, I can use my webcam or my Flip video camera (Eyejot let's you upload videos too) and easily and visually show them what needs to be done or discussed.

    I've also used Eyejot with clients. Before Eyejot, my interactions with clients (especially new ones or 'pre-clients') was limited to email, voice, and an occasional video conference. But Eyejot has opened a whole new dimension in my customer communications.

    Using Eyejot, I can pay a virtual office call to any client or potential client any time I want to. I send the video mail and they watch in on their time - no coordinating online times for video conferencing or playing phone tag for two days like before.

    Perhaps best of all, sending an Eyejot immediately cuts through all the normal email noise that pollutes a customers mail box. It's an eye catcher. It demands attention. And, especially with potential customers, it's engaging. Even if they might have not read an email from an unknown vendor, there's something curious and compelling about a video email that makes it so that you almost have to read it.

    Of course, I also use Eyejot to keep up with my far flung family members so the service can definitely cross worlds if you want it to. And, it's just as cool for personal use as it is for business use - for many of the same reasons.

    All-in-all, I've introduced 5 people to the Eyejot service and they're all immediately seeing how it can benefit them in both their personal and business lives. Next week, I'm going to meet with our City Manager to discuss how the city might deploy the service to better communicate with their citizens. I can see endless possibilities there and I'm excited about them.

    I know that every time I write about Eyejot I sound like a walking ad for the service and, to a large degree, I suppose I am. I was very skeptical when I first signed up. I saw it mostly as a toy that was cool to have but not very useful. Now, I don't know if I could function as efficiently without it. I've been won over by the service. I'm screaming its praises from the rooftops because I truly understand what a disruptive technology this really is. It's not like many of these services that let you endlessly do useless things. This has real value.

    Give it a try. I think you'll agree.
    Send a customer or two of yours and Eyejot and watch the reaction.
    I guarantee, you will never look at 'customer relations' the same again.
    Eyejot really has made the world a little smaller.

    FULL DISCLOSURE: Because I am such a fan of EyeJot, I've also chosen to join their affiliate program. I've not done so because of the money but because I truly believe this technology is so incredible that I am willing to spend my time telling people about it.

    Friday, September 5, 2008

    More on Google Chrome and Privacy

    Ok so the whole mobile video post didn't quite work. I'll repost again later. Yep, I'm that freaking aggrevated with Google today!

    This is why the whole debacle over Google Chrome's EULA bothers me so damn much...

    Mobile post sent by CajunTechie using Utterzreply-count Replies.

    Thursday, September 4, 2008

    Why Google Chrome is a scary mother...

    EDIT 9/04/2008 14:03 CT - According this Ars Technica article, the same article cited below in this post, Google is taking steps to correct the EULA problems I discussed. But I think the issue is more than just the EULA. It's Google's mindset and the fact that we can't guarantee that they aren't using Chrome gathered data in neferious ways. The browser, I notice, is not open source.

    As most of you already know, Google Chrome is the new web browser released on Tuesday by Internet search giant Google. When I first heard that Google was releasing a browser, my thoughts immediately turned to Microsoft and their 'let's dip our fingers into everything' philosophy but, then, I reconsidered. Who better than the worlds #1 search engine to understand the way users use the Internet and seek out information? Who better, then, to create a new browser that addresses the needs of those users?

    At first blush, Chrome is pretty impressive and there's little I could possibly add to the truckloads of ink that's already been spilled in writing articles of gushing praise. But I will cover a few things I like, and don't like, about the new browser and I'll leave the rest up to you and testing it out.

    First, let's talk about what I love about Chrome:

    1. It's simple. One of the very first things you notice about Chrome when you open it is that it is decidedly uncluttered. No menu bar, no status bar, no side bar. Just a tab, a hideable bookmarks bar an address bar and the page view area. That immediately gives you a nice clean, non-confusing place to work and opens up a ton of screen real estate in which to view your pages.

    2. Process independent tabs. I absolutely love this! How many times have you had multiple Firefox or Internet Explorer tabs open and a website open in one tab completely freezes the browser, forcing you to restart? This isn't a problem with Chrome because, now, each tab runs in its very own process. In essence, each tab is its own browser. If one tab freezes, kill it and nothing else will be effected. Why didn't the other browsers think of this long ago?

    3. It's Firefox based. You wouldn't know it from looking at it, but Google started with the Firefox codebase to create Chrome. From the looks of the browser and how it functions, there can't be a lot of Firefox left in there, but it's at least based on a secure, reliable, and very usable product.

    4. Desktop Applications! This is another feature I absolutely love. Now, you can easily create a desktop shortcut of a page that will open full-browser with no toolbars, address bar, status bar, or anything. This is something that's particularly interesting to me as I often deploy my company's web application full-browser to make it feel a little more like the type of desktop application our users are used to using.

    To be fair, you can do this with both Firefox and Internet Explorer too. It's called Kiosk Mode. But it requires a bit of extra work to set up and it's a little bit flaky in Firefox. Chrome makes it incredibly easy.

    5. A sensible "most visited" area. Once you've used Chrome for a while, you'll notice that new tabs open with thumbnails of the last 6-9 pages you've visited most often. You can click on these icons to immediately be transported to that page. Kind of like your MRU list in other browsers but a little more snazzy.

    Now, for everything I love about Chrome, I've only used it for two days then uninstalled it and will probably never use it again.

    Simple: Google's EULA (End User License Agreement).

    It's very easy to get caught up in the Google hype with their cool gadgets and promise of 'don't be evil'. It's easy to hand over your entire online life to Google from chat, to documents, to email, and even payments, and books. It's also easy to forget that Google has a very close relationship with the U.S. Government and has a stated goal to 'make all the worlds data searchable'.

    If you read the EULA attached to the Chrome beta, you'll notice that you are, by using Chrome, assigning secondary rights of use to Google of anything you create. Read that carefully folks: anything you create while using Chrome, Google has the right to use in any way they want.

    Without notifying you.
    Without crediting you.
    Without paying you.

    The EULA doesn't specify any limits to this assignment at all. So, one could conspiratorially assume, that if you create email using Chrome, Google can data mine it, use information from it, whatever, in any way they see fit. In essence, you have no control over how your data is going to be used if you're using Chrome.

    It really doesn't shock me that Google would do this. It's furthering their goal of organizing and cataloging information. But, for a company that claims their goal is not to be evil, this comes shockingly close to sacrificing a goat to the devil.

    It's a Microsoft move.
    You know, the company Google hates.
    It's distasteful and a betrayal of users confidence.

    For that reason, I will never use Chrome again.
    I'll be tempted.
    I'll see sexy screenshots and think 'what if'.
    But I won't use Chrome.

    If my content is good enough to use, then it damn well is good enough to pay for.

    And so is yours.
    Don't give that up just for something sexy.