Alex Barnett blog


September 2006 - Posts

Viva Lost Wages!

I'm off the City of Sin.

What I lose there, stays there.

Back Sunday.

Vista and Synctoy

I took the plunge over the weekend and clean installed Vista RC1 and Office 12 (2007 Office).

All working sweet, except for SyncToy (latest version is 1.2) which doesn't run on Vista. I found this post by Ed Bott, citing a comment left by the SyncToy program manager at Microsoft on one of Ed's previous posts, confirming the next version will have Vista support.

In the meantime, if you are running Windows XP and a need syncing app (backing up to a networked drive, synchronizing music, picture, video files across machines, etc), Synctoy works great, really easy to use and it's free. I know some people who tried earlier version but were frustrated by the inability to support the maximum length for folder paths (my Dad made this loud and clear to me...). This was fixed in the 1.2 release.

Unfortunately, it does'nt provide an interface for scheduling (yet - I really hope this feature makes it's way into a future release), but it can be run as a Scheduled Task from Windows:

To schedule a task using the XP operating system:

1. From the Start menu, select All Programs - Accessories - System Tools - Scheduled Tasks.

2. Select Add scheduled task to start the Scheduled Task Wizard. You will see a list of possible programs to run.

3. SyncToy may appear as an option in the list. If SyncToy does not appear in the list, click Browse and go find it.

4.The wizard will next prompt you to enter how often you want to run the scheduled SyncToy (for example, daily, weekly, et cetera). Select a frequency.

5. The next page asks when to start the task. Select a start time.

6. The next page asks for the user name and password to run the program under. Enter your user name and password.

7. The final page contains an option to open the properties dialog when the wizard ends. Select this checkbox.

8. Modify the Run textbox to include the –R command line option. –R all by itself will run all folder pairs that are active for run all. If you want to run just a single folder pair, add –R“My Pair” to the end of the command line. Note: there is a space before the hyphen but not one after the R. If the folder pair name contains a space, surround it with quotation marks, as the example above shows. For another example, assume that SyncToy is in the folder named C:\My Folder and that you want to run a folder pair named "My folder pair." Enter the command line as follows, including the quotation marks: "C:\My Folder\SyncToy.exe" -R"My folder pair." Note that there are two sets of quotation marks in this case: one is around the path to the SyncToy program file and the other surrounds the folder pair name.

Posted: Sep 28 2006, 10:47 AM by alexbarnett | with 8 comment(s)
Filed under: ,
Coming Zuner than I thought

(OK, I'll give myself a 0.1 out of 10 for quality of this post title.)

Zune will be out November 14 2006, according to this press release. This is the US date - I've not seen other info re: other markets.

I noticed that one of the pre-loaded music videos will be BT's “1.618”. I'm so into this new album 'This Binary Universe'Love it.

Posted: Sep 28 2006, 09:25 AM by alexbarnett
Filed under:
Does Web 2.0 have to mean OWO (Only Works Online)

Ryan Stewart and Richard MacManus are discussing the merits of a browser-only services and development strategy verses an online+offline approach.

They are both kind of right in my view, but it all depends on the experience and the nature of the service you want to deliver. Never mind the 'richness' side of things for the moment (though this is clearly another key point in this debate) - the #1 reason we'll see the hybrid approach do well over the next decade is that this opens the doors for the Occasionally Connected Computing (OCC) scenarios.

Email is the classic example. Should I just not be able to draft, send, read, sort and organize my mail (or calendar, etc) when I'm offline? Or write up a blog post because I'm not within a hotspot's range? Or read my RSS feeds on the plane? What about editing my photos on the train? Etcetara, etcetera.

So, should I just not do stuff because I happen to be offline? Or should my data, my services and my apps be always on, like really 'always on'?

Does Web 2.0 have to mean OWO (Only Works Online)?

Here are some other thoughts on on this topic:

Posted: Sep 27 2006, 02:01 AM by alexbarnett | with 3 comment(s)
Filed under: ,
I thought my Dual Cores were cool

I thought my Dual Core laptops were cool.

Until I read this...:

"But the ultimate goal, as envisioned by Intel's terascale research prototype, is to enable a trillion floating-point operations per second--a teraflop--on a single chip. Ten years ago, the ASCI Red supercomputer at Sandia National Laboratories became the first supercomputer to deliver 1 teraflop using 4,510 computing nodes.

Intel's prototype uses 80 floating-point cores, each running at 3.16GHz, Justin Rattner, Intel's chief technology officer, said in a speech following Otellini's address. In order to move data in between individual cores and into memory, the company plans to use an on-chip interconnect fabric and stacked SRAM (static RAM) chips attached directly to the bottom of the chip, he said"

80? 80??? That's a lot of flops.

The Future of XML

Mr Scoble got talking with Sun Microsystem's Tim Bray, a co-creator of the XML spec. I've not listened yet, but this interview sounds too good to miss:

"Even Tim Bray is blown away at the popularity of XML. He was one of the co-creators of the XML spec back in the mid 1990s and in this audio interview he and I talk about the state of XML and get his views on what the future holds for XML and other derivative formats like RSS and Atom."


Posted: Sep 26 2006, 09:16 AM by admin | with no comments
Filed under: , ,
You know you're in trouble when...

You know you're in trouble when the guy at the Starbucks till welcomes you with a "Thank you for shaving!".

Or when a mum considers the teacher's 'time out' punishment of their naughty child as, I quote, "potentially humiliating".

I heard these both today. I'm in trouble. We're in trouble.

Posted: Sep 25 2006, 11:24 PM by admin | with no comments
Filed under:
Virtual social software

I've heard a lot about Second Life, but I admit to being one of the uncool as I've not emersed myself in the virtual world to date.

The latest post by Jeff Barr has piqued my interest though:

"A bunch of people in the Second Life community have been interested in having what they call “HTML on a Prim.” The ubrowser has apparently been used to create a prototype of this feature but to date it has not emerged in a production release of the Second Life client."

In a nut shell, what Jeff has done is into integrate ubrowser into the Second Life environment. Now, *all* this does is allow thumbnails of webpages to render in the virtual world.  But, what Jeff has planned next sounds very interesting:

"So what’s next? I am planning to get some decent land and to start selling Text and Web prims sometime soon. I still need to figure out how to embed self-updating scripts in the objects, design real APIs, and all sorts of fun things."

If understand Jeff correctly, he wants to build a system that will to allow dynamic pages to be rendered as interactive sites, allowing virtual browsing / full user interaction with those sites inside the virtual world.

If this is what Jeff means (is this what you mean Jeff?) then the implications for the Second Life world are potentially profound (and if that's not what he meant, someone should do it). Random / crazy thoughts come to mind:

  • What if you could fully interact with sites and services in that kind of environment, an environment where there are others 'there' with you?
  • What kind of collaboration scenario opportunities would that present?
  • What new kinds of social software would emerge given that kind of context? Co-blogging? Co-tagging? Too easy...what else?
  • What kinds of APIs would be built to allow Second Life 'outsiders' to play and interact with those inside?

The mind boggles....

The Pepsi / Mentos meme

You might have come across the Pepsi / Mentos meme. Now, what would happen if you were the vessel of the experiment?

Alex Barnett Podcasts

Alex Barnett Podcasts - I like podcasting, here are the links to them.

2008 - Podcasts for the Bungee Line

@task (or AtTask) is a Utah-based tech company providing a comprehensive, web-based project and portfolio-management package delivered in both a SaaS and on-premise model with a very rich web API set. We talked with Nate about the evolution of their web services design and @task's future product plans in light of the market opportunities presented by the availability of the increasing number of 3rd party programmable web services."

"Prior to founding MindTouch and Steve worked in advanced strategies at Microsoft focusing on distributed systems and web services. We talked with Steve about MindTouch platform, its rich set of web APIs and the implications of a programmable wiki. But MindTouch goes beyond providing open source wiki collaboration and content management - it's delivering a leading edge application integration and development platform called MindTouch Deki. Michael Coté, an industry analyst with RedMonk (analyst firm) picked up on both the podcast interview and news of the latest release of MinTouch Deki."

"ProgrammableWeb’s John Musser returns to the Bungee Line to give us an update on the API action of early 2008. Alex and Ted apologize for the unfortunate audio treatment to the Bungee sound in the previous episode, promising “never again!” In related news, check out the new intro music for our “Cool Web Tips” segment."

"There are few developer communities as large and distributed as that of Ubuntu, perhaps the most popular brand of GNU/Linux distributions available today. Jono Bacon is the first official community manager for Ubuntu. He joins to tell us what he has learned in his 18 months of working with this vast and disparate community."

"Joshua Porter is a usability consultant, web designer, researcher and blogger specializing in the art of social design for the web whose experience includes five years at world-renowned User Interface Engineering. Josh’s blog ( is a must-read favorite for UI and web designers and is finishing up his first book, to be published in the next few weeks (details below)."

"As product manager for eBay Desktop, Alan Lewis relies on the same web APIs that eBay makes available to all developers. In this edition of the Bungee Line, Alan tells us about what the eBay Desktop is, how it came about, and various details about eBay’s developer program and web APIs. We ask Alan about eBay’s position Oauth and on open source."

2007 - Podcasts for the Bungee Line

"Since the publication of his O’Reilly book Programming Collective Intelligence: Building Smart Web 2.0 Applications, Toby Segaran has become well noted for his ability to explain easily-understandable algorithms for the kind of deeply complex problems involved in social applications. Toby joins Alex and Ted to discuss some of the high-level concepts that he tackles in his book."

"Jon Aizen joins Alex and Ted to explain how provides a no-fee tool for making almost any structured web site data accessible via a REST API. In a past life, Jon was involved in creating The Internet Archive. Jon also helps the Bungee Line introduce romantic intrigue into the podcast.

Punditry Alert! At the end of this show, Ted and Alex speculate a bit about Android, Google’s open source mobile device platform, the Apache License, and whether Robert Love is involved. Please consider this as another demonstration of Ted’s idiocy, brought to you by the Bungee Line."

"In part 2 of our interview with Amazon Web Services evangelist Jeff Barr, Alex and Ted ask Jeff about Flexible Payment Service, virtual user group meetings in Second Life, the Startup Project, and pry at Jeff’s views of possible futures of technologies that developers might anticipate."

"OAuth is a big idea, but is it a "solution looking for a problem to solve"? I don't think so. The problem for end users today is real, i.e. authorizing one service to access your data by another service for use by the first service, securely and with control. For developers wanting to develop apps and services that create value through the use of customer data stored on other services, there is no standardized means set of protocols to lean on. Instead, developers need to waste time learning a new way for their app to be authorized to do so for each service provider, having to jump through the various specific means and idiosyncrasies of each service."

"Developer evangelist for Amazon Web Services, Jeff Barr tells Alex and Ted about how he became a native Amazonian, his recent visit to “The Business of API’s Conference,” and a bunch of stuff on Amazon Web Services, including: Mechanical Turk, EC2, and S3. Additionally, Jeff explains the newly announced S3 Service Level Agreement*."

Part 1

"Yahoo!'s Zimbra acquisition, the Yahoo! Mail Web Services APIs, Jeremy's take on the Business Week article discussing Yahoo! Openness, the fruits of Yahoo! Hack Days and the Internal Yahoo! Hack Days initiative, Yahoo! Geocoding API, Yahoo! User Interface (YUI) Library, Yahoo!'s AJAX API for Maps"

Part 2

"What Mash lets you do,  Hadoop and Yahoo!'s formal involvement, the WebOS meme, something Jeremy feels strongly about :-) That was fun. Watch out for the discussion on "Meta-API Providers"... More APIs...From b2c APIs to b2b APIs, plus Pipes and democratizing the mashupshpere"

"Topics covered include Facebook APIs, Amazon's recently launched Flexible Payment Service (FPS) , Google Base, Microsoft's Astoria and relational-data-in-the-cloud programming models and services, SaaS models and API SLAs, REST vs SOAP,  "Closed is Still the Old Closed" and plenty more."


Older podcasts:

"Speakers from Microsoft, Blinkx and discussed issues of content regarding search, recommendation, the semantic web and the ownership of data in the Web 2.0 era at Content 2.0 on 6th June 2006."  


"Here's a great podcast for you. All about microformats..."

Guests: Tantek Çelik, Dan Connolly and Rohit Khare. I think it's safe to say these guys know a thing or two about the web and microformats.


"It's all about the draft OPML 2.0 spec and a few other things thrown in such as structured blogging, OPML tools, namespaces and microformats."

Guests: Joshua Porter, Adam Green and John Tropea.


"Last year Dave Winer started to push the idea of Reading Lists for RSS. More recently, the idea of Dynamic Reading Lists and Feed Grazing (or Grazing Lists / Glists) has been kicking around.

Its likely that Reading Lists support will become a common feature of Feed Readers / Aggregators."

Guests: Danny Ayers, Adam Green and Joshua Porter


"Steve has been leading Attention conversation for some time now. In 2003 he, along with David Sifry (CEO of Technorati), initiated the attention.xml efforts and has since taken on the role as president of the non-profit Attention Trust."

Guests: Steve Gillmor and Joshua Porter


"I attended the MSN Search Champs today....and what a day.  Given the recent news and concerns around the data MSN Search, Yahoo and AOL provided to the government, there was a session set up where the 57 bloggers / online experts at MSN Search Champ were invited to discuss the topic with senior MSN management (Senior VP Yusuf Mehdi and VP Chris Payne)."

Guests: Fred Oliveira, Dion Hinchcliffe, Joshua Porter, Chris Pirillo, Thomas Vander Wal and Brady Forrest.


"I asked two of the RSS industry's leading lights to join me for a call and share their perspective on the question of where Attention is going with respect to RSS feedreaders and aggregators: Nick Bradbury creator FeedDemon, part of Newsgator (Nick also developed Homesite - sold to Macromedia - and Topstyle) and Kevin Burton of Tailrank (also co-founder Rojo)."

Guests: Nick Bradbury, Joshua Porter and Kevin Burton


"You might have heard of the Structured Blogging initiative announced earlier this week by Marc Canter and others...there was certainly plenty of buzz and reaction to the news, but not all the reaction was rosy."

Guests: Marc Canter and Joshua Porter


"A couple of weeks ago Joshua and I had a conversation about attention data (as podcasts).

In that conversation we kept touching on the topic of online identities and their management, so we thought we'd invite two pioneers of the identity space, Dick Hardt and Kim Cameron, to a podcast session and discuss how they saw the connections between these two related topics: attention and identity."

Guests: Dick Hardt, Kim Cameron and Joshua Porter


"Although we met briefly last week, Kevin Burton and I didn't manage to get enough time to discuss some of the things on our mind at the time, so we got a Skype call together and posted it as a podcast (.mp3, 42mb).

We focused the discussion around what he calls Meme Engines and I call Attention Engines, Tailrank (Kevin's latest project), OPML, RSS and Attention.xml"

Guests: Kevin Burton


"Richard MacManus of Read/WriteWeb and I had a Skype chat this evening and recorded the call   Talked about Web 2.0, attention.xml, a bit about RSS, APIs and more."

Guest: Richard MacManus


"About OPML, Attention, and empowering people."

Guest: Joshua Porter


Happy OneWebDay

Not only is it a Friday, it's OneWebDay...!

Flickr tag: onewebday

TN Tag: onewebday

Posted: Sep 22 2006, 01:01 AM by admin | with no comments
Filed under:
A social

There is a team at Microsoft that over the years has delivered some amazing things for the community of Microsoft customers: blogs on MSDN and TechNet, MSDN Wikis, Codeplex, the RSS Directory, ASP.NET, and GotDotNet to name a few.

More recently people like Dave Morehouse, Korby ParnellBob Rebholz, Jana Carter, Doug Seven and Sandy Khaund have been thinking a great deal around some of the trends emerging around social software, and what these approaches can bring to both Microsoft's online presence and its customers.

One of the fun things about this phase of their design process is how they are 'thinking out loud' with some of their plans and actively looking for feedback as they go. Here are a few links as tasters:

  • Dave's Spinning the Wheels post explores how tags and tagging, OPML collections and collaborative filtering can be leveraged across
  • Korby touches on serendipity as a social phenomenon, manifested through software
  • Sandy considers the potential inherent in the networking of various community 'silos' that exist across the, its affiliated sites and those run by customers to create a whole much more valuable whole than the sum of its parts.

If you are into 'social aoftware', keep an eye on this team...

Microsoft Watcher goes indie...

Mary Jo Foley has kicked off her new blog over at ZDNet...if you want to watch Microsoft like a hawk, she'll be worth subscribing to, based on her past track record on Microsoft Watch.

Posted: Sep 21 2006, 01:11 AM by admin | with 2 comment(s)
Filed under:
Wireless crap

Talking of wifi on the move, I decided to replace my aging Negear WGR614 with something providing more range and reliability (it really had neither).

(mine wasn't so big - what is this picture???)

I tried out the WNR834 ('Rangemax' N thing). And took it straight back. You see, I expect things to work when I pay money for them and this just %&$i'N'g didn't. After searching around to see if anyone else had problems, these Amazon reviews pretty much summed it up

(it looks cool, but it doesn't work)

So I did the sensible thing and read the reviews before I went to replace the Rangemax (the only Rangemaxish thing about it is how far I can throw it). After reading these glowing reviews for the much less expensive D-Link DI-634M, I popped over to Fry's (oh man, I could did spend ages in there like a kid in a sweet shop - for the second time in two days...) and made the swap.

(a nice pair of antennas)

When I got home, I decided to use the install wizard for the D-Link instead of jumping the gun. I tell you, the difference in user experience for installation, network set up, documentation, management UI, etc (check out the emulator), compared to the Netgear experience is quite amazing - it just puts Netgear to shame. Oh, the D-Linq just worked with 100% coverage right through the house. The Xbox 360 didn't require a touch - nor the laptops, nor the network drive - nada, they all just worked (using old SSID / network settings).

It's not the first time Negear has let me down. Remember this re: the MP101?

"After 2.5 days (minus sleep, working, eating, giving family attention) of network jigging/reconfiguring, software/firmware install/uninstalls/reinstalls/tweaks/products, combing through 100's of newsgroups, forums, blogs & comments, eliminating causes and then not being so sure, downloading & speed-reading support pages, troubleshooting guides, help & readme files, working though every convievable issue that you can possibly have trying to get one of these things running, and yes, dreaming about IP addresses, firewalls, & TCP/UDP ports, I finally got the damn thing to work as advertised."

Not the first time, but it will be the last.

Posted: Sep 20 2006, 09:57 PM by admin | with 2 comment(s)
Filed under:
Please, Panasonic, succeed!

I was gutted when I heard the news that Beoing were pulling out of the in-flight wireless looks like Panasonic might pick up where Connexion left off.

"Panasonic wants commitments within 60 days from airlines for 500 planes to be equipped; they say they have 150 committed now. Lufthansa has over 60 planes with Connexion and SAS with about 20; I suspect both airlines have signed on. They’ll still use Ku band leased transponders, but with much more efficient equipment that will allow 12 Mbps/3 Mbps versus Boeing’s 5 Mbps/1 Mbps rate" 

 BA? Where art thou in all this...?

Please, Panasonic, succeed. You must succeed!!!!

More Posts Next page »