# Thursday, 30 September 2004

Public Service Publisher

Regulators propose funding new TV channel  [via Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage]

Some interesting and original thinking going on. Most heartenly there is also some thinking about funding beyond "it must be the license fee", dishearteningly it then falls back to "it must be the license fee model". I'm also pleased to see - "We do not support the privatisation of Channel 4" - good.

For those interested in this sort of thing, the executive summary is here: Ofcom review - Executive summary and recommendations.

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# Tuesday, 28 September 2004

He names the guilty ones

I name the guilty ones.  ... In an age when journalists are turning into quasi-politicians, appearing as co-equals on programmes such as Question Time, it is right that they should be ruthlessly monitored by each other. That is the function of a media column, a genre that did not exist 20 years ago, and which has grown along with the egos, picture bylines and general importance and self-importance of journos.  [via Boris Johnson MP]

Boris allows himself to be portrayed as a twit, whether you agree with him or not his writing is interesting and thought provoking.

On this particular issue, Tom Baldwin should answer the question he refused to answer at the Hutton Inquiry - who briefed him. Without an answer it seems reasonable to me to assume it was Mr Campbell.

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# Monday, 27 September 2004

Software has become a washing machine?

The downside of this is that you are investing in developing a solution that will become legacy technology almost as soon as it is complete.  [via Hosting Windows Forms controls in the Office Task Pane]

Wow, this is about "create your ActiveX control in unmanaged code and host it in a Smart Document Task Pane today" - Smart Doc Task Panes seem to have originated with Office 2003 -from cutting edge to legacy technology in 3 years.

Actually Smart doc task panes survive and get .NET compatibility in 2005 - but the advice of this article is that to write 'cutting edge' technolgy now you have to write some compromise solution "with a little work" that will be great in 2005 and sort of OK now. Weird world.

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# Wednesday, 22 September 2004

As good a reason as any....

Why I love the new "Star Wars: Battlefront" Game....  I get to kill JarJar Binks.  Over and over and over again. Life is good :-)  [via Microsoft WebBlogs]

Over and over again sounds reasonable indeed very tempting.

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# Monday, 20 September 2004

Do they know what they are doing?

Far too many times during Whidbey development, we bumped our heads on the glass ceiling of what Win32 can accomplish.  A styling engine for controls and arbitrary nesting of controls in other control elements are two examples of features customers asked for but we couldn’t deliver on top of Win32. 

 

As a UI platform, Windows Forms pushes Win32 very close to the limit.

 [via Is Windows Forms Dead?]

I find this a completely unbelievable statement and the rest of it is just plain scary - if you are starting an app now then use Winforms but if you start it in two years time don't use winforms - what world do these people live in?

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# Wednesday, 15 September 2004

The press will always get it out there somehow

"Perhaps he had doubts about some policies, perhaps not. But in my view, the real stress was personal and family," .... "My guess is that the considerations of his family became very pressing and that was what made him think things over very carefully," Bragg said. [via Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage]

Hmmmm, leakage round the edges (I see this story is in all the papers). I don't know how the rules have allowed this but allowed it they have and it ought to stop here.

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# Tuesday, 14 September 2004

Makes a change from walking on water I suppose

BBC environment correspondent Sarah Mukherjee ... said one campaigner who worked closely with the government had said he believed the prime minister wanted to stop climate change - but was not convinced Mr Blair knew what that meant in practice.

 [via BBC NEWS | Politics | Blair 'shocked' by climate change]

The Prime Minister wants to stop climate change? Oooooooo, good one. Uniform climate, year in, year out?

Whatever the reasons for climate change, pick your favourite from increased sun-spot activity through change in the precession of the earth to increased CO2 levels, there is no doubt that climate will change year on year with probable 'good' patches and 'bad' patches beyond the capabilities of large computer systems to either model effectively or predict. We need to move beyond a myth of we can 'stop' climate change to a reality that we have to develop techniques to live with the climate change that is happening and will happen. Alongside that, stopping doing things that probably make matters worse would be helpful.

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# Friday, 10 September 2004

Predictions of MS death again

Allchin's last stand? [via Allchin's last stand? | Tech News on ZDNet]

...  but this time (as opposed to Netscape) its different? Provided they continue to do it quietly and not shout from the roof tops that they want to be the next MS by killing MS then maybe.

Competition from Google, competition from Linux and being generally disliked and perhaps MS face a bigger problem than they ever have before.

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See, told you.

The Inevitability of Search Results as RSS.  Tim Bray, in reporting on a visit to an Intelligence Technology gathering said: They’ve also done something way cool with their Google appliance; one of the bright geeks there has set up a thing where you can subscribe to a search and get an RSS feed. Well, duh. Anyone could fix up one of those using the Google API, I wonder why Google isn’t supporting this already?

I can't help but to laugh because at this point we all know... [via Jeremy Zawodny's blog]

Now, what did I say, ahh yes... "Plain search results as rss is not that interesting - its what you can do on top of this that becomes more interesting".

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# Wednesday, 08 September 2004

Windows XP Service Pack 2 Platform SDK (English).

Windows XP Service Pack 2 Platform SDK (English).  Windows XP Service Pack 2 Platform SDK (English) was posted to MSDN Subscriber Downloads on September 07, 2004

Located in: Tools, SDKs, and DDKs | Platform Tools, SDKs, DDKs | Platform SDK.

Someone with a big fat pipe can get it please - gawd knows how long it will be before it appears on an MSDN subscription DVD.

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MS are anti HTML (again)

Chris Anderson reviews MediaPlayer 10 during which he rants...

<rant>From what I can tell the MSN Music integration in Media Player is done by hosting a web page. Usability is mediocre and integration with the player bites. Compare that to iTunes, where the music service looks like another folder on your harddrive. You get a great listview control to cycle through things, when downloading music it is fully integrated just like you were ripping or burning. Totally polished.

The Apple folks have done a couple of these great smart client applications - Sherlock, and iTunes to name a few. They get it. Use the power of the local platform and don't rely on HTML as the presentation. It's really frustrating that MSN Music missed the boat here.</rant>

 [via simplegeek]

A view that developing in Win32/.NET (though I presume he's meaning the latter from 'missed the boat') would give instant wonder usability is astoundingly, well, daft. But then he's probably in the MSDN camp and doesn't realise forgets that HTML can be used as markup to get at the power of the local platform. HTML isn't presentation, its only markup; just like XAML.

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Tick, tick, tick

the PMOS said it was clear that the Government had addressed both the immediate and longer term issues on pensions [via Downing Street Says...: Pensions]

There's a timebomb ticking but "to address the longer term issues, we had asked the Pensions Commission, under the leadership of Adair Turner, to undertake a review" - oh a review, that's alright then. Jeesh. But then, what do these people care, they're alright Jack.

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Keyboard shortcuts for IE

An interesting list of IE shortcuts over at jeffdav's WebLog

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# Monday, 06 September 2004

Sad world

Smokers 'should not get NHS care'.  One in four believe smokers should not be treated by the NHS for smoking-related illnesses, a BBC poll suggests. [via BBC News | News Front Page | UK Edition]

It is getting very silly and sad out there.

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What is the point of MSDN DVDs?

Oh joy, just wasted half my life (OK, half a day) trying to install Windows Sharepoint Services 2.0, during which I received the error:

Setup Errors
There are errors in Windows SharePoint Services setup.

Create Config Database : Metadata manifest 'C:\Program
Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server
Extensions\60\bin\sqmcfg.dll' does not exist or has
invalid signature. (Error code: 2779).
Extend Virtual Server : Cannot connect to the
configuration database.

To cut a long story short, it would appear that this error occurs for WSS Setups downloaded before 4 Dec 2004 - now I was installing from a DVD dated July 2004, No: 2426.8. 'Scuse me but I would assume that such a disk would have the latest version but oh no, now I look, the file is dated 23rd November 2003. So now I have to go and download 34MB over my horribly slow link (because I live and work in the middle of what BT considers nowhere). Why do I bother subscribing to MSDN? Come to think of it, I've just had a renewal notice - I don't think I will be bothering.

Well that feels better :-)

 

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The story behind the headline

Another interesting one....

From the BBC: William Hill boosted by Euro 2004

From Reuters: William Hill slips on punters' winning streak

Both pages seemingly tell exactly the same story though in a slightly different order but with a mighty different emphasis.

Both sources only provide headlines, not full stories, on their RSS news feeds - read the story behind the headline before making decisions.

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Mobile billing

He said: "O2's billing processes are regularly audited by independent third parties and overseen by the industry regulator. O2's billing accuracy is within industry standards and there has never been any evidence or concern that millions of customers might be overcharged." [via O2 denies 'overcharging' phone users | The Register]

Ahhh, looks to me like a sentance that should be read with care for exactly what it says.

Gosh, nearly 20 years since I worked on this beast (the Cellnet, as they were then, billing system). I wonder what it looks like now - at some point the VAXs must have been replaced.

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dasBlog security update

SECURITY ALERT: dasBlog. Download and install patch. [via dasBlog.net]

Spreading the word - patches available for all versions of dasBlog.

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Objectspaces gone?

During an interesting view on how Microsoft wastes money, On Cost Cutting: Penny Wise, Pound Foolish, Dare Obasanjo says " ... spending years working on ObjectSpaces then canning it because there was potential overlap with WinFS and various other white elephant projects.... [via Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life]"

Canning - canned - does that mean delayed or gone? It was certainly delayed from Whidbey to Longhorn. Has it now gone, to be replaced by something 'better' in the WinFS due sometine after Longhorn?

 

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# Sunday, 05 September 2004

Test - memo to self

Never write and article between the hours of 11pm and mid-night - dasBlog's in-memory data-structures don't build correctly and one can't edit/post content.

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# Thursday, 02 September 2004

Patent madness again.

Microsoft Snags TV, Tab Key Patents.  theodp writes "'We think--patent for patent--what we are doing is, if anything, more important than what others are doing,' boasted Bill Gates recently. And on Tuesday, Microsoft once again put rocket scientists and cancer researchers alike to shame, receiving patents for Integrating Television Into Web Pages and Tabbing to Hyperlinks on Web Pages. "  [via Techdirt]

People get paid to make these judgements? The abstract on Tabbing is well worth while:

A user may discover and navigate among hyperlinks through the use of a keyboard. For example, a user may press a tab key to discover and navigate to a first hyperlink that is part of a hypertext document. The first hyperlink is, in response, given focus and a focus shape is drawn around the text or graphics for the hot region of the hyperlink. If the user again presses the tab key, the next hyperlink is given focus and a focus shape (i.e., an outline that surrounds the next hyperlink) is drawn around the next hyperlink. A user may also tab to a placeholder for an image in order to make a decision whether the image should be downloaded or not.

The trouble is they are not joking, this is claimed to be an invention, and even worse is granted. If Eolas win their patent claim against MS, MS is going to come back at a lot of people with a whole battery of claims. This isn't going to be funny for anyone.

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# Wednesday, 01 September 2004

He's back

"This is not the time for caution in the face of future challenges but for the boldness essential to renew Britain for the era of globalisation," he said.

 [via Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage]

Doesn't look like the holiday has changed him (Mr T Blair) for the better. Oh well.

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Longhorn changes

Miguel de Icaza has some interesting input on Avalon for XP: 01 Sep 2004: Longhorn changes.  He makes some predictions, amongst which is:

My prediction is that Avalon v1 will be a throw-away: it is not really the foundation on which you will build applications: V2 will likely not be backwards compatible, they will have to re-architect bits of it: which means that people will end up with two frameworks running side-by-side: Avalon V1 and Avalon V2.

The above problem is compounded with the fact that the CLR has not really sorted out a good model for sharing components across versions of the framework: the GAC solution today is a bit of a hack to keep things separate and allow for multiple installations, but does not solve

 [via Miguel de Icaza]

'Avalon v1' will be a throw away will be a real killer and is the Microsoft equivalent of "<insert car manufacturer> car's rust" - no-one believes v1 of an MS product is any good, worse it is becoming common place to believe that v2 that is maybe usable will not be backwards compatible.  Its back to the MSDN vs Chen thing but this is a very damaging view that has a lot of currency.

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What is it with the BBC and Microsoft?

Windows update prompts problems.  The key security update for Windows XP looks set to cause trouble for thousands of firms reveals a survey. [via BBC News | News Front Page | UK Edition]

This is the nth news article from BBC News being very negative about XP SP2 - what is their problem? This article isn't credited to any BBC journalist so is it just a press release re-print?

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