Thursday, October 26, 2006

Smaller, faster and easier

I loved this quote this morning from

In a recent blog posting Mozilla CTO and creator of the JavaScript language Brendan Eich wrote that the goal for Mozilla 2.0 is to make the codebase smaller, faster and easier to approach and maintain.

Would that all our software releases would be smaller and cleaner than their predecessors. This would take enormous discipline of constant refactoring.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Experience with IE7 and "Mobile Favorites"

I recently installed the latest IE7 build. One interesting omission in the latest RC is the lack of support for downloading "Mobile Favorites". I use IE for two things - synching my IPAQ and doing my timesheet. Now it doesn't sync my IPAQ and our company's timesheet program doesn't work with IE7 yet.
I have found a work-around for the synching of "Mobile Favorites".
1. Go to your web page you want to sync.
2. Hit the "Mobile Favorites" icon.
3. Create a new Mobile Favorite". Click "yes" to replace the old one.
4. Wait while the browser crashes.
5. Et Viola. Most of the web page will be downloaded to your machine and your Windows Mobile device can sync with them.
6. Repeat this process for each Mobile Favorite.

Those sneaky malware writers

"Patch Tuesday" comes the second Tuesday of the month when Microsoft releases patches for windows to combat malware. An interesting phenomena is growing. The malware writers wait until "Patch Tuesday" and release their wares on the unsuspecting public on the same day, confident in the knowledge that their handiwork will have a full 30 days to pillage the internet. In the old days, virus writers were just motivated by testosterone, but now it's all about making money. Money is to be made by creating 'bot armies to extort money from businesses; by flooding the user with ads; or installing keyloggers to capture financial data.

It's puzzling that Microsoft does not release fixes more often than monthly.
Thankfully with Vista, "the most secure operating system ever released by Microsoft" we won't have this problem.
(cough, cough).

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Last Night's Austin .Net Meeting

Last night Stephen Balkum and Eric Heater presented an overview of a high capacity, high availability web site built with .Net 1.1.
They emphasized buying products over building if you don't have the time or money to create what you really want. They recommended the following tools:
Akamaicaching of static files, like gifs
epsilon email sending and racking. epsilon works with mail hosting companies to make sure their email is not locked as spam
Gemini for issue tracking
Seleniumpure JavaScript implementation of GUI esting inside a browser
psexec from sysinternals for remote execution of windows commands.
LinkSleuth for link testing (free)
System.Managemnet.ManagementScopenamespace in .Net for application health monitoring
Camtasia for creating a web demo.

To me the most interesting was the demo of Selenium, which I've heard much about, but this was the first time I'd seen it.
Selenium IDE for Firefox for creating Selenium scripts from

At one point Eric asked how many people use Firefox. About 80% of the attendees raised their hands.
Eric repeat the adage, "If it's a pain, do it all the time", as he talked about their build and deploy system.

Friday, October 06, 2006

EEStor, a way out of oil imports?

EEStor is a startup working on a supercapacitor to replace batteries. If they, or one of their competitors can really deliver a low cost, reusable, dense energy storage device, the world will no longer need vast seas of oil.
What is their product? The device stores electricity directly in a capacitor instead of converting it chemically like our current car batteries. The capacitor has no moving parts and will last longer than the car. Plug-in electric cars don't work today because of the high cost of batteries, the limited range of the vehicles and a long recharge time.
EEStor is rumored to have solved all of these. The cost of their device will be reasonable, have nine times the energy density of lead-acid batteries, be half the weight and charge in minutes. The cost of electricity would be equivalent to 45 cents per gallon for gasoline.
Why is a better "battery" important? Most of the oil imported into the US is used for transportation. If we could gradually replace most of our gas burning cars and trucks with electric ones, we wouldn't need nearly as much imported oil. All that money could stay in the US.
We can create electricity from many different sources including wind, solar, coal and nuclear. Cars could be recharged at night when demand for electricity is low and many power plants are idle. (In the distant future, cars could even be used as a buffer in our electrical grid, taking in power late at night and supplying electricity during the peak hours from 2-4pm.)

Many startups have made outrageous claims, so I'm skeptical. I few things give me less cautious. The reputable VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers are backing of EEStor. Also the firm itself is very quiet and not making any wild claims or asking for investors. I'm hoping that EEStor can pull this off.

Now, if OPEC would only cooperate by keeping oil prices high for a few more years to make sure funding continues for new technologies like this, we can kick our oil habit and oil will go back to 20 dollars a barrel.