Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Technology Should Work

Annoying. My new Apple Airport Express (AE) arrived today, and I can't really get it to work like I want to. Right out of the box, set to manage its own wireless network, it does just fine if I set my laptop to attach only to that network. My laptop can then stream music to the AE which pipes it to the speakers plugged into it, and I am sure Internet would work too if I attached the AE to the cable internet. But I do not want that, I want the AE to become part of my existing network so I can stream music to it while being on the internet normally through my home's wireless network. And it doesn't want to do that. Sure the green light flashes on when I set my home settings, and our wireless router even claims the AE attached itself properly, but my laptop can't stream music to it. Can't even administer it anymore.

Meanwhile it seems that the wired network card on this laptop was not installed properly. Susan, could you check your Fujitsu P1120 and tell me what driver I need to install from the list?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Out Now!

And two.

That lay-out still needs tweaks, blogs still need to be created, it doesn't display well on mobile devices yet even though it is supposed to (note the DOCTYPE), but we wanted to launch when we said internally we would.

Friday, November 11, 2005

In This House We Are Not Down With All A.I. Fads

[11:31] deanallemang: Ooooh!  A supporter of Fuzzy Logic just complained indistinctly about something!
[11:33] fjvwing: well, at least he is consistent

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I'm Not Sure I Was Ready For This...

Oh.          Fuck.

Edit: 1) Thank gawd it hit at US early evening, EU very early morning. This will spread the traffic out a little.

2) This is actually the 2nd time I have made front page with a web property.


One full day and a half public, one press release together with at least 3 phone announcements this morning, and we're already being being mentioned on Technorati. Yes, that is one of the two sites whose creation and launch have consumed me the last three months. The next one will happen in two weeks. Then we will be switching over in December to new technology so that project-owners and people can update their own web-pages.

I am proud and terrified and relieved at the same time. I have to not just deliver sites, but a system I can hand off, organizationally and technically, in a way that keeps them maintainable after I leave, with minimal effort. It has guided most of my choices and recommendations for software and alliances, and ate up a lot of time.

So here we go. Let's hope the company lets this one grow big.

I already got one real bug report: it doesn't render at all well on IE 5.5. I went to the stats page of to check how bad this is. Most hits are from XP and Win2K. I didn't get an account of user agents, but if I add up Win 98 and Win ME as possibly using broken IE 5.5, I am up to 2.3%. If I consider a large part of Win2K users use IE 5.5, I may, may, hit 8%. I can live with those numbers for now, especially considering those stats are for a page that attracts all the web mostly skewed to 12 year old girls, and OpenSource and Research are supposed to attract advanced smart researchers in High Tech.

Will I fix it? Probably. Will I stay awake to do so? Nope. Got other things on the list to occupy that place.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Part I

(This was a restricted entry, but now, in 2008, I have made it public)

As I just posted to my Nokia internal blog:

Subject: A List With Two Related Items

  • is up.

  • I am terrified.

It's like when we first got an aquarium at home. After we set it up I had sudden flashes of fear for days that I'd come home to 40 gallons of water on the floor and a couple of asphyxiated fish. Same thing now. I am waiting for things to go horribly wrong and have the whole Internet point and laugh at me.
Thing is is that due to internal politics, I had to align with technologies and hosters that simply did not get their shit together in time. So I have a website with no search and the contact form wasn't ready. Ugh. All contact requests now happen through a sacrificial mailbox we will shut down when the contact form really happens. Ugh.

And in the end, after all the hard work to blend technologies, all these coals I pulled out of the fire in one day notice or less over the last months (sure I can change all emails sitewide, I'll just write a filter! Sure, I can re-do the lay-out, it is just a template! Sure I have the CMS dump to disk because you have a different idea of how to host this, it is only a buggy inscrutable add-on!) it is just a catalog site right now (will change later) that people in the company a) really thought needed to happen b) couldn't be bothered to make content for. All that work for this? Well, getting it together and approved and refined took time.

This thing will be announced by Jorma tomorrow at the mobile conference in Barcelona in a press release. I had it go live and accessible today to shake it out. One project page owner alreadyw ent nuts on me that they absolutely did not want it up before their own press release. This being the project that has no code to download available, and already gave fucking interviews about their project that got mentioned on Slashdot.

I'll miss these bozos, but I am ready to leave them behind.

Part II will happen Nov 14th.

Home Media

Networked Series 2 TiVos have a feature called Home Media Option. You install a beacon program on your networked computer that has all your music or pictures, and then you can see those pictures or play the music on your TiVo over the network. TiVo opened the API for this network protocol and now other people can make beacon programs. One of them is Galleon, which used to be called JavaHMO. Galleon lets you define all kinds of other stuff on the network server, like webcam URLs and Shoutcast streams, and then you can play all that stuff on your TiVo in the living room.

I have installed Galleon twice now, on two different Win2K boxes, and I have noticed a pattern: I need to install it in a path with no spaces in it, just to be sure, because I know a weather module used to be unable to handle it (so no 'C:/Program Files/Galleon, but C:/Galleon). Then I run the configuration program that lets you set all the options and get the message 'Can't connect to server', which means the configuration program can't talk to the Galleon beacon on the same computer and tell the beacon what to serve to the TiVo. Uninstall Galleon, reboot, install again, and it works. It is worth it, Galleon works better than its predecessor JavaHMO. And boy does my friend Susan look comfy on her chaise on my TV.

I did this so I could hack Galleon to offload programs off my TiVo -- yes, it works both ways -- so I could then attach a webserver to those shows and punch a hole in my home firewall for the webserver and then I could download the shows wherever in the world I was as long as I was very patient. But reading around how to do that taught me that all those steps are unnecessary because I learned something new: Series 2 TiVos with the latest software are already running a webserver. Just point to https://<the ip address of your TiVo on your network>/  and yes, note the 'https' part, not 'http'. It wil ask for a name and password. Name is 'tivo', password is the Media Access Key, which you can find on your TiVo under settings. And there you go: a list of shows on your TiVo, ready to click and download. So if I set my firewall to forward all accesses from the public internet on port, oh, say 9999, to my TiVo's on port 443, I should be able to download the Housewives even when I am travelling... Hmm, I need to enable dynamic DNS again for my home network on or or something.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Press Release of My Near Future

First search Google...

Then find a slew of regurgitated results (source organizations first):
Yeah, I have told you before, but specifically after I was cleared to tell my friends, but here's the press machine in action. "Some Nokia employees at an existing Nokia R&D facility in suburban Burlington, Mass. are expected to move to the MIT center." Well, yes, and those of us who aren't -- about half of the department -- and didn't make a transfer otherwise, are getting really good goodbye packages by, I have to say, global standards.

Especially US ones. Geez, the stories... (We have a number of Cabletron refugees in our buildings, and the tales they tell are hair raising. Like being told there were two busses outside, one going a to a team-building and everyone in the other getting layed off, and being assigned a bus and being told only after both busses were rolling which bus was which. I am dead serious, that is just one story they told me. If you ever hear from someone that they worked for Cabletron right before and during the .com boom, throw some liquor into them and start asking. It is likely you'll feel lucky wherever you work now.)

For my new friends here who didn't get this before, I got asked to work on a new item in August or so, just as my previous project at Nokia Research Center [NRC] Burlington was officially going nowhere. It is a system/service that is more of a support function for NRC than a project.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

And All Just So I Can Have A More Active 'Social' Life

Ten years ago, a friend gave me his leftover Mac SE with external monitor and hard disk and modem when I left the house he had so graciously opened to me while I found a place of my own. I got an Unlimited Local Calling Plan (Unlimited! Just like free refills! Would these wonders of the American Way of Consuming ever cease?) and for the first time this Usenet addict could read Usenet at home by dialing in to his provider in Cambridge, SPDCC. I knew the owner.

Then Dean came over and we moved in together and we bought this custom built tricked out PC. It's Intel chip ran over 200MHz, and we splurged on 128Mb of memory and Windows NT 4.0. I still used dial up to be on Usenet, IRC, and Telnet, and I still knew the owner of my dial up.

Then we bought a condo and we moved and we got DSL. Over the years the service was great, but dealing with Verizon was a nightmare. Still on the big computer, which our house guest exercised at night. I think he got the most keyboard time on it.

Then I started to work for Nokia and bought my Toshiba Libretto 110CT to take to work, with a dreadful CDPD card (11Kbps, effectively, bursty, lossy). I wanted wireless surfing at home, so I scored this set of wireless PCMCIA cards for 2Mbps wireless, bought a PCI-to-PCMCIA card so I could shove one of them into the big box that was on DSL, downloaded a program that made Windows 2000 (Windows 2000! It sucked but it rocked after NT 4.0) share the super fast DSL, and now I could surf in the living room. Somewhere in the comingt years I dropped the Libretto and then redecorated it.

Then I realized we were a magnet for intrusions, or soon would be, and I scored off eBay -- I could now do eBay! And get bargains! -- an IBM Butterfly because it was cute with its folding keyboard, and I proceeded to put OpenBSD on it and configure firewall rules. This took 4 solid weeks of me sitting at a desk in the evenings trying to get it to work, mostly because until then I had only been a UNIX user and had no idea what was involved in being a super-user. I got all impressed by terms like hardening and rule-chains and got lost in contradicting HOW-TOs that weren't, because OpenBSD people were supposed to already know OpenBSD. This is where I learned JWZ's lesson the hard way, and that it applies to not just Linux: All open-source and free software is free if your time has no value. But by the end I understood firewalls a lot better and how NAT worked and the house was safe.

Then I bough a set of proper 802.11b cards, and suddenly my laptop, and Dean's laptop, and the big box were all wireless. And so fast -- we could saturate the DSL! The house guest still logged the most keyboard time, usually when Australians were awake. I still have an IRC acquaintance in Canberra from that.

Then I got tired of being a sysadm for the firewall and I bought, for a hundred bucks or so, an Linksys ethernet router with a built-in firewall. I knew what smurf-attacks and Stateful Packet Inspection were, so I could find a tiny consumer-electronics-like box that didn't say on the side that its apex of security was how it implemented NAT. I also scored, off eBay, a wireless access point for 68 bucks -- an eBay bargain! -- while Apple was still selling Airports for 200 or so and Nokia's access point was projected to cost a 1000 bucks, right before they woke up to Apple having changed the rules of the game and canning the whole division. My access point had no brand, came from Taiwan, needed to be configured with an arcane program I was always losing the disk of, but was tiny and just worked. Exit butterfly, and everyone including the TiVo had 802.11 and there were extra network jacks for when the page that purrs was still being served from our bedroom closet. Dean can now do webcam shows from all over the house, like when he used to fold laundry. By now, the indestructable Butterfly had a completely busted hinge from being half-open all the time.

Then we got Comcast digital broadband, and we ditched the house guest and Verizon DSL. One could say telephony was out in our household. Now I have a phone plan that is unlimited everything, not just local, and I've been in the US long enough to not be impressed. And you only get free refills on sodas, which I no longer drink anyway because they either made me fat or tasted like aspartame, so who wants unlimited more of that? I repurposed a broken Sony laptop to run Fedora Core 2 -- you install that on a laptop with a broken screen -- and realized I still know crap all about how to maintain a UNIX box properly, but the installers are way prettier. This box ran an internal caching DNS and DHCP services so as to first of all deal with the fact that Comcast's shiny new digital cable infrastructure had DNS servers that fell over every 5 minutes, and so that the known machines in the house always got the same IP address and I could keep track where everything was. This install took a week or three as well.

Yesterday I got a box from Netgear. It has even faster wireless (B and G), an advanced firewall with the latest SPI rules, a built in DHCP server that also allows me to set fixed addresses for my known boxes, and does almost everything my Linksys box, my Taiwanese no-name access point, and my Sony VAIO DHCP server did, with a single interface that needs no wizards or crap installed. It doesn't cache DNS look-ups, I think, but Comcast has their act together now, so I do not need it. Time to set up, including shiny new 128bit WEP keys: one hour and a half because I was trying every options. Cost: 34 dollars, free Super Saver Shipping.

Friday, October 21, 2005


When Sealab 2020 will be built it won't be to study marine biology. It will be to house the absolutely enormous supercomputer so as to shield it from neutron radiation and to water-cool it.

I don't even want to know what the 2021 crew will do to it...

Sunday, October 16, 2005

You Lookin' At Me?

Deleted Orkut and Friendster. They are of no use.

Especially Orkut. When I logged in today after months of absence, it wanted me to migrate to a Gmail account -- which I have -- but the way in which Google is linking every way I use Google Inc. together doesn't sit right with me. I have many facets to my life, some very professional, some adult, some geeky, some downright illegal. I consider it a failing of mine that I am not ready to integrate them at this time, because I do believe in having an open life. But, my current reality is that I am not, mostly for family reasons, and I do not need Google or any other system to do it for me. I do not need a central repository of all the transgressive things I search for cross-correlated with the papers I wrote for Harvard and then made searchable, for example, even if it is not supposed to be searchable ever ever ever. Because maybe nobody outside the specific agglomerator may be able to get to it, but even the-- no wait, security leaks happen all the time, and at this point I bet the complete list of what you have searched for on Google may be considered by many as more personal and private than their SSN, and those are leaked every two days these days. But let's say Google is totally secure, then even then I do not like Google or another agglomerator knowing. Sure, nobody inside Google, or any other agglomerators may care, and-- no wait, that may be a complete lie too

Here's why I think that: in 1995, when the web started taking off, I started doing work at Children's Hospital Boston in sharing electronic medical records over the web. So I was in the middle of all the disucssions about privacy and confidentiality and access rights that eventually percolated into thinking like the current HIPPA legislation, which, for example, makes throwing a lab result into a standard trash bin that collects into a public landfill a $5000,-- offense for the person managing that record, and in my opinion, rightly so. One of the anecdotes about access rights was that after Kitty Dukakis went public with her substance abuse and alcohol poisoning, suddenly electronic accesses to her medical file inside Mass General Hospital went through the roof. It was then MGH realised they needed more granular access controls on their electronic medical files -- a system MGH was one of the first to have, and arguably pioneered -- because the electronic files were allowing what paper files did not, and it turned out doctors and nurses actually were human and had prurient interestst.

Well, guess what, with every month a new friend of mine is working at Google, and thus I know old foes are too. Are they going to check my complete integrated logs? No. Do I care that they can? In many cases, yes. At some point I need to let that go, because access to much of my information really isn't under my control anymore, and I am deluding myself into thinking it is not leaking and seeping out of agglomerators left and right in ways that can easily be cross-correlated, but I am not ready to give up my illusions yet. So no, I am not signing into anything with my Gmail account but Gmail, and cookies are being purged.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Question About Us

When you are at a website, do you ever hit the link 'About Us' or 'About This Site'? Do you remember ever having done so? What were you looking for, if you did? What did you expect to find?

Or Maybe Not

After my forays into friendser and Orkut -- still need to delete myself from those -- I didn't go into because I already had a journal, a photojournal, webspace, and a set of e-friends, but now that I found out I can get spammed for chat by lonely random US marines, it probably really is time.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Other Blog

My virtual journalclub is being comment-spammed like crazy. 5 new ones every day that I dutifully delete. I worry what would happen if I didn't pay attention to it for two weeks or so.

At my last eval my manager -- soon to no longer be my manager -- made a comment that kinda hit me: "40 papers-- that's a dissertation." Yeah, I read that many, but because they are so all over the field, and I had no idea for a direction other than a very vague one, I don't have an analysis of 40 papers worth a dissertation, I have 40 blurbs. That could have been better. Just reading them because the abstracts were interesting was not enough.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

iTunes Video

Thoughts on the introduction of the iPod/iTunes Store with video capabilities:

  1. For a portable media player [PMP], it has a small screen. However, it is an iPod. It has 81% of the current market. The current ones will be dropped, broken, wear out, and then when Joe and Jane Public go out to replace them, they will get one of the video ones. They will be the best sold PMP in no time.

  2. Two of ABC's top shows are available. They are now in Season 2. You can buy a 'boxed set' of Season 1 for both shows for 35 bucks, but not individual shows from Season 1.

  3. This really confronts you with how much commercials are in a TV show. The single episodes around 43 minutes long. This for an hour of TV.

  4. THis won't be a significant revenue stream for TV. Every episode would have to be downloaded 600.000 times, assuming a 20% cut for Apple and no overhead over a budget of a million bucks per episode for ABC -- which is no way in hell true for their flagship shows -- before ABC has recouped just costs. But for cheaper cult shows...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Just Don't Actually Answer

Feedback always appreciated.

Are you sure?

I always get to happily deal with that question, because every product I am part of of course needs to be seen by all stakeholders, their friends, and random usability departments. And because everyone uses an interface or knows how to read, they all can comment on how it feels to them. I am entering a round of it again, and while I put on a brave face, the same I always put on about now in my development cycle, and say of course feedback is good because it will make a better product or allows us to make text to prepare the user, I always dread it. I do. Less every time, but still. Whenever it comes in I have to first breathe and put on my 'consultant' rational mind. The consultant has a different voice, you know, more soothing, and uses a lot of sentences like "I wouldn't recommend that" or "I am not sure that furthers our goals." Even when I just get into that mindset to deal with feedback my internal voice changes to him. The guy who spent days on end placing everything where it is in endless design mini-cycles needs to not be there. The writer needs to not be there.

But this cycle is necessary. Not getting a response to requests for feedback in this professional setting is only a relief the way chocolate helps a broken heart.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Doubts, Of Course

And as the days advance to release date, I live in abject fear of what I am doing. The notion that hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people, over time, will scrutinize my work, is starting to hit. I am not just playing around any more. This thing has cleared all political hurdles, it has increased as a project by 100%, it is real. And it is targetted to my peers. They will see this product like I would scrutinize it.

The prototyping, the ideas, the technical advice, I could do that all. Now I am in execution mode, and I am out of my depth, I think. I am trained to know what goes where in a UI, but now that I have done that I have to face that this system has a very heavy graphic design component. I am not a graphic designer. I have almost no innate talent to compensate for either that lack of training and certification, or my lack of experience that is any more than dabbling on my own websites, a yearbook or two, my pictures. I know in my heart this should be a multi-disciplinary team working together, but alas, when it comes to anything but managing the organization and getting the product organizationally out the door, I am it. Usually I would outsource the minor graphical elements to the outside graphics company, but with this budget, I will have to do. And the funny thing is, the manager approached me not for my technical skills, but because she thought I had good taste, and a commitment to usability to equal her own. She wanted me to do this part.

I will not let her down. Nor myself, since this will be my calling card for next gigs outside Nokia, as my previous two years of research have not really been cleared to delve into the details of during job interviews, and seems to be mostly a huge waste of time anyway. I am working weekends, some nights. Yes, I may think I am out of my depth, but as I have proven to myself before, in the end I make the goddamn systems goddamn work.

First user feedback came back yesterday on part of the system, from a UI designer in another division. "I would never trust this [product] to have good Open Source [stuff]; it is too clean and neat!" I was very amused. Best compliment I ever got for my designs. Yet I spent most of today geeking it up, caught as I am between the need to serve my peers who think absolute tech and shudder at stock photography, and the latest brand guidelines about how we should de-emphasize tech and focus on and show humans in natural settings incidentally using our products.

I'll find my way.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

How Butch Do I Look On This?

Headline on "New scooters: manly & awesome"

Here's a hint for the ages: when needs to tell you a product is manly, guaranteed that it isn't.

Edit: Oooooh, AKIRA on a budget. And 11 inch wheels.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


The concept of failure in transmission is changing.

CD's don't skip, they stutter.

Digital TV doesn't snow, it pops and tiles and pixelates and goes black.

Mobile calls and digital radio don't fade in and out of static. They become choppy and disjointed and then drop.

15 years from now, static or snow as experienced in analog transmissions and currently seen in shows will totally date the production as being from a pre-digital era. Much SciFi will look strange. Very young kids will simply not understand it when they see it. People in shows 'faking' static to get out of a phone call or radio contact is a joke these viewers just wont get.

Friday, July 22, 2005

I am turning into such a negative Nancy on my professional review blog. Can't help it, though, I keep reading paper after paper week after week about these lofty mobile architectures to allow us to do all kinds of crap everywhere, but nobody seems to have surveyed or even care what we users would want to know and see before feeling comfortable doing all this crap. No, let's just slap some boxes together in Visio and proclaim it a comprehensive architecture, without a clue whether it will actually pass the necessary data around.

It would be like creating this mobile phone network where the person called might have to pay for calls but then forgetting to include Caller ID so the user could actually make an informed choice, or a network where a caller might pay more depending on whether they were calling in or out of network but not including this information in the number. All because you forgot to ask users what they wanted before you made your network. Oh wait, that actually kinda happened for a while. Let's do it again!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Oh. Joy.

It seems "Kurt" (sp?) has been handing out my cell number to some people. So far both that called are female. I wonder if they are his honeys.

Been telling 'em Kurt's asleep in the next room, cuz it was one of those nights, ya know? Can I take a message? What's your name? No, I ain't his dad, just a friend who's hanging with him.

(Ma?)Ria's gonna be calling back at 9. The first woman declined to leave a message.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Eelectrons Leave Trails

Within the next 72 hours, T-Mobile will send me an email containing a list of numbers called yesterday after 8 AM EST from all devices identifying themselves to the network as having my mobile number.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


People make fun of mobile phones. But when I carry one, I can show what I was seeing. I can read what you sent me. I can call you if I forgot something. Today I walked to the store alone without you all with me.


Have just been broken into while we slept. Dean heard the slam of the front door as they left. All biological entities ok, but all work & personal laptops stolen save the printserver in the closet (currently being used for this), my mobile phone is gone too.

Don't bother sending me email or calling my cell, it'll be a while.

Friday, July 15, 2005

'Code or 'Late

Reading two entries from friends today who got impacted by the JK Rowling Marketing Hype Machine doing work for the Braille end of publishing, I was struck with quite the geeky thought: while I am sure the colloquial and official terms for creating a Braille edition of a book is 'translating', I have worked with various forms of marked up text so much that I would call it 'reencoding' or 'transcoding'. After all, you aren't switching languages, just character sets. Then I started wondering about how punctutaion is handled exactly (pretty darn complicated), which led me to do some actual Googling, and found that the verb most used on the web is 'transcription'.

Monday, June 27, 2005

So FJ!!, Did You Play A Lot Of Video Games Or Something?

And when I close my eyes, I see fields of objects strewn around, CGI'd with flat texture maps, ready to be rolled up in a wrihting ball.

The King Of All Cosmos is hung and way stacked. And not the most supportive of fathers.

There are many many stars in my new sky, but I am only at level 7. This should indicate how awful I am.

I close my eyes and the fish floparound, and the swans turn into a big flapping ball...

Friday, June 24, 2005


Bribing friends is so much fun.

And it makes me actually cook. (Boursin chicken salad tonight.)

So I am going to play Katamari Darcy after all this weekend on someoneelse's PS2. And Rez again. Besides, Dvora's probably still not over getting her new PSP yet, so she won't miss the 2 for a few days. And either I start using these Harry & David chocolate dessert pies, or they are going to be in my freezer forever with the way   travels and doesn't eat chocolate. I think I'll serve the first one 'Midwestern' style: in chunks in a glass layered with cream and ice cream.

Not gonna play DDR. Last time I did that, the pounding of my feet destroyed the TiVo.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


So, any preferences for a content management system for, a, say, department spread over 12 countries or so that needs 5000 people to make personal and project pages of undetermined content, but probably including blogs, wikis, download areas, and forums? Most will want to use templates for their stuff, many will not, and many pages may need to be maintained by non-tech department admins.

Oh yeah: no money for installation or support, initially. Organization is happy to deal with OSS.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Oh Brave New World That Has Such Clicks In It!

I just paid my dentist with PayPal.

I remember when I first saw a T bus go by with a URL for a product on the side. I remember having to explain the Web. I remember having to explain the Internet.

I just paid my dentist with PayPal, and on the page where I got his PayPal link -- the URL for his site where I could find that page was on the bill he sent me in the mail -- there was also link for his intake forms as PDFs so you can fill them out at home before the visit.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Spam Social Attack


In other news, I keep getting emails from several support positions at like management, support, helpdesk, and services, to tell me that my account has irregularities in all sorts of ways. If I could just please open the attached zip file to correct it all. Unfortunatly, comforting as the thought is that there are all these people there looking out for my best interest, is a vanity domain maintained entirely by me on some hosted server somewhere. It seems these cruel worm writers get their kicks by dangling all these friendly support people I actually do not have in front of me, teasing me about me being all my lonely self, back unwatched, account un-managed. Oh how I hate this psychological warfare!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Things Break When We Change Them

Oh poop. It seems my hosting company made more secure, probably by implementing jails for the web processes. Which I can't fault them for, but now my scripted pages can't find commands like grep and awk, and those are what I relied on to put all my pretty pictures on my pages.

I still can execute Perl scripts, so that would be my work-around: implement what I wanted done in Perl instead of as piped UNIX commands. Too bad I don't know Perl.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Friday, June 03, 2005


Is everyone on LinkedIn?

The site suddenly recaptured my interest since I got a job feeler from there, and I keep finding people I knew.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Stupid Stuff Update


Through 's latest entry I ended up on Rosie O'Donell's old blog. It is an amazing car crash of honesty, form, and fame. It is too easy to call it stupid or maudlin, I am unable to do that about people expressing their own emotions, because my emotions are most often stupid and maudlin too and I don't want to hear it when they are. Yet I know, I know, that right now I am simply rubbernecking. Her current blog is the same with a celebrity twist: it is flickr-enhanced and comments enabled. Comments from Rosie fans and foes. 500 per entry. She has a special moderator for them. Somehow I feel partly responsible just because she is publishing phonecam-pics and I work for a mobile phone manufacturer and took phonecam-pics early on and put them in my blog and in a tiny tiny way may have helped popularize it.

Recently we got a new person in the building who hits the elipticals just when I go to the gym too, and she has no problem switching the TVs on to what she wants to watch. I only change the channel s when nobody else is around, and I'll set them to inoffensive CNBC -- well, Kudlow is becoming a bit too much of a no-taxes supply-side cheerleader for my tastes -- but it beats the FNN I often find them on, the station that makes me crank up my shuffle loud when people are watching it. I would impose my taste if I were using the aerobic machines where the TVs are, but I am not, I am in the weights area where the sound just spills over, so I don't feel like I have a right to decide what the people right in front of the TVs have to watch. She is in that area and has no problem setting it to what she wants to watch -- in fact, she asks me to because I can reach the TVs better than her -- and what she wants to watch is Oprah. I'd never switch that on, I would think all the men using the gym would kill me. But she does, and all the men end up watching that show, transfixed like deer in the headlights most of the time. Oprah is spending an awful lot of time on fighting fat and pedophilia these days. I gotta wonder what she would tell a fat pedophile "Love yourself enough to make that change and get thin! Then go off to an uninhabited island and die!"

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Recruiter Woes

Company 1, a very expensive joint venture for a new mobile operator, which will basically re-sell network time on Verizon or Sprint, but wants new handsets for a totally new experience. Compare to Virgin Mobile.

recruiter in email: I don't think you are a fit, but perhaps you know someone who is, check out these two jobs. Job 1: Please have 5 to 10 years of experience designing UIs for handsets, and be innovative and wonderful and visual because we want to make a whole new way to have people use phones so they will buy from us. Job 2: Interaction designer to support Job 1, keeping tabs on information design and requirements.


recruiter on phone: welll, we really want the 5 to 10 years.
me: Good luck hiring in Finland or Denmark, because that is where that level of experience is. However, I would also like to apply, at least for Job 2.
recruiter, dismissive: but wouldn't you agree that in their position you would want that level of experience?
me, sensing only one way to punch through this: well, if you want new ways of thinking you may want UI people who are not hampered by past constraints and understand that however fast the devices change, humans don't

recruiter later in email: well, I sent forward your resume, but really, do you know the star UI designers?

Yeah dude, I am so giving you the names inside Nokia. Sure, I wanna get fired for a guy who can't even pretend that I am good enough just to butter me up. Look, I know I was a lightweight for Job 1, but you could have pretended I could do Job 2, which I can.

- * - * - * -

Company 2: Researchy Now Very Big Company (but everything they release is Beta). Oh fuck it, it is Google, ok? Frigging "Research? Product? Who knows, ship it!" Google.

me: send resume to job advert for mobile-UI designer

--- 4 weeks of silence ---

recruiter & me: email for phone date

--- 1 week later ---

phone date

recruiter: blah blah what do you do
me: explain, where strengths are, experience with UI design, recent experience with mobile UI design in research context. Some things I do are currently confidential.
recruiter: evasive maneuvers, "but we do have a job opening for a mobile UI designer, perhaps you know someone for it?"
me: I'd love to apply myself, send it to me
recruiter in email: sends original advert for mobile-UI designer
me in email: "I'd love to apply and show you how I can fit that position"
recruiter in email: "I spoke w/ the staffing lead for UI and it seems that a portfolio of some
sort is required. I'm sure this request immediately makes you want to take
your name out of the hat. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks!".

I. Don't. Think. So.

Until I get a "Please don't call us, we'll call you", I'll plug at this. I am not going down that easy. It may just have one or two cases, but the fact that this email happened Friday evening gives me a chance to put something together for Monday morning. And by the way, recruiter-dude, you aree about to be perceived as damage, and I will start routing around you.

- * - * - * -

My job life is just schizophrenic right now. On the one hand my boss loves, loves, loves me becayse I work on these research projects with demos grounded in reality that show results and possibilities inside the company. I take strange areas and make them work on the device. On the othe other hand, I can't seem to convince anybody outside the company I have the brain to make something that works on the mobile device, because I haven't been making dinky mobile websites for the last 5 years or had Nokia ship any of my explorations in the two years I have been on it, for technologies that are barely ready to be used by anyone.

I obviously will need to make some of these at night to show off if I want to go to the next step of these gigs. I am annoyed at that prospect, though. More coding, yay.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


And like every time, I look at the UI description, I look at the sketches I made, I look at the interaction I imagined, I look at the system I sold to partners and managers, I look at the programming API and available tools, I look at what I know can fit on a device, and once again, yet again, when there is nothing more to read and nothing more to sketch,  I ask myself, just once again... the hell are you gonna make this one happen this time?

Better get to work.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Trying To Do The Right Thing On WinXP

(And don't tell me The Right Thing is to ditch for Linux. I haven't enjoyed my Linux experiences much, and I have a GPRS card and random Firewire cards to run on this subnotebook.)

Coming from a technical UNIX background it seem intuitively obvious not to run as root in this dangerous world. This wasn't always an option on Windows at all, and not very practical on Win2K when it runs the personal machine with which you constantly explore new programs. Work machine, sure, you actually have to go through a special procedure at Nokia to get Administrator rights on the standard Win2K image on the desktops. And I fully understand why: keeping 40K users from corrupting the Intranet and taking everybody down is not just a matter of avoiding nuisances, it is vital to the company. I remember the pain we suffered when mail wasn't working for a day or two, and I understand that Nokia Business Infrastructure is in no mood to re-live those days just because somebody needs weatherbug in their task bar tray.

I am basically the sysadm at home. So I try to explore best practices some. And I don't click on received executables and I don't click "OK" on pop-up windows for a Bonzi Buddy -- if I even see them, I asked to switch to Firefox as soon as I had tested it out and knew it would do. You see, for me safe computing is about avoiding nuisances, but Dean makes money off our home network, and I always need to make sure that best practices don't get in his way.

So now that we are both on XP I am experimenting with having my daily account have Power User priviledges, and no more. To stay safe. SO nothing I may run or do can hose the machine, it just hoses the 'fj' account. I did make an Administrator account -- which I couldn't call 'Administrator', much to my chagrin, because XP says that account already exists eventhough I can't find it. And XP allows a user to easily switch accounts without having to shut down work like 2K made you do. And even as 'fj' I can run an install as Administrator by right-clicking and selecting 'Run As...' and entering the Administrator account credentials.

Actually, not quite. If I download a program I want to install under the 'fj' account, I first have to move it to the Shared Documents directory, and do 'Run As...' Administrator from there, because if I try to run it with Administrator priviledges from the 'fj' desktop, the execution will always fail because the Administrator account can't see 'fj''s files. Some root that is.

So I make the install work by running it from the right place with the right credentials -- most installations insists on being run with full Administrator powers -- and then most will leave program shortcuts on everyone's desktops. Which I can't remove from 'fj''s Desktop. Logged in as 'fj', I do not have the priviledges to remove a shortcut that an Administrator left. Logged in as an Administrator account, I cannot access 'fj''s Dektop. Obviously I have to give the Administrator account access to 'fj''s files, but I can't find the Properties tabs for that.

I am sure there is a way, but the second problem is that many applications are not happy being run by someone else than the account that installed them, and certainly not with fewer priviledges. I tried out Dean's new webcam and I installed the application software fine -- as Administrator -- but the shortcuts on 'fj''s Desktop simply would not run.

Doing The Right Thing is turning into a pain. I think I may delete the Administrator account soon after I add 'fj' back to the Administrator group. XP may be ready for lesser priviledged users running as default, but the vendors are not.

Friday, March 11, 2005


I got spam From: "domingo fracassa". How could I say no to anyone named Sunday Crisas?

Thursday, March 10, 2005


Going through the internal Nokia media database, the one with all the promo pictures, to help a friend sort out how to use his new radio headset accessory contraption for one of our phones, I am struck yet again by the amount of ways we get attractive people to pose with a telephone for money.

I swear, Tyra Banks' counterpart on 'Finland's Next Top Model' must from time to time be heard to say "She just doesn't make it work .... I look at her and I don't want to have that phone, I just don't get from her the pleasure in using it... she's got no phone joy attitude."

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

SIGCHI Annoys Me Again

4 pages into the latest issue of SIGCHI's <interactions> bulletin, and I am ready to give up in despair. First,the editor in his 'editors rant' wants us to give up the idea that usability is to be regarded as a science and is more a craft.

Then, in a column called 'pushing the envelope', Fred Sampson, after telling us how he felt about the 1964 World Fair, complains that he is 'chained' by his personal electronics for distracting him too much. I don't want to give the impression that I consider him some sort of dinosaur, but in my life I find that my personal electronics don't distract me enough when I need them to (remember my plea for porno MMSes?), and in the few times they do, (I stopped assigning ringtones because nobody actually ever calls me), I know how to just switch them off.

Then, in an utter crib of 'queue' magazine's Q&A column, we now have 'ask doctor usability'. Unfortunately this person is no George Neville-Neil (whom I need to beat anyway up for writing I am not a software engineer because I do not write testcases -- well GNN, one can't write testcases when your bugs are of the sort that 'Ctrl-C' doesn't work right or a right-click menu is not showing up); this Usability dr person takes a question about expanding a software engineer practice and turns the answer into how a foreign language makes you evaluate a visual design better.

I feel like getting on a damn airplane and pleading with Steven to take up being an editor again.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

All Tech Gets Used For Porn First

I just want y'all to know that right now Dean is entering dirty words into Merriam-Webster online and giggling like a little boy when he clicks the "pronounce it" icon.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Need Distraction

If my friends really were my friends, they would be sending me porno MMS to my mobile right now in this meeting. Of course nobody knows my number and fewer know MMS, so I forgive you all for abandoning me.

(Posted through email from phone.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Gawd I Want To Be These People

Look at this site. They make you think they are actually looking for mystery shoppers to anonymously rate stores by spending a $1000 bucks in one, and you get to keep what you bought. Finally, a way to get what has to be a retail-junkie's coolest job -- and my flist shows me a lot of people engage in retail therapy.

Well, knowing from page one this had to be a scam, I read the terms. You have to disclose personal info, which actually has to be validated. It is validated by signing up for four offers available on the page, and from the terms I could see they are things like credit cards and subscriptions, and you can't immediatly cancel. If you do that you will get a gift-certificate for the amount between $25,- to $1K. And oh yeah, did you enter your zip-code on that first page and found out you were in high demand? So did people who entered 00000. I tried.

So, will many sign up? I found this ad on, a blog/personals site seemingly populated by young singles too hip and happening to hack it on LJ, with many, many, many women who look like they frequent malls, so my guess is "hell yeah!" Will they not read the terms? You betcha. Will they disclose the demographics? What, and lose out on being a msytery shopper? Will they take part in the four promotions... well, iffy. Will the site have to spend on every person who gives them their info? See the last question. Will the site be sending out many $1K gift cards, or even many of the $25,- ones? See the last question and use common sense what amounts you would spend on gift cards if you were in the CEO's shoes. Will the company have a fabulously sellable list of personal data? Woo-fucking-hoo! In days! Before people can warn each-other what kind of a spam-creator it is!

It is brilliant. It's the whole "free iPods/ mini Macs / other schwag" ponzi scheme thing, but getting people to buy in into 4 of your marketing partners (ka-ching) getting their data (ka-ching!) and barely needing to reward the schmoes (ka-ka-ka-ching!).

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Why We Like This Gig

"Yeah, we actually bought the Nintendo DS to experiment with performance testing of non-Nokia devices. The first test is giving it a full charge and recording how long it lasts with non-stop play. Do you want to?"

Yeah, like he was getting out of my cube without having left that thing with me.

"BTW, when the Sony PSP comes in we'll have to do the same."

They actually pay me money for this. Well, not this playing thing, but the pretty cool actual work that allows me to hang around this group. And they consider my tendency to give informed opinions and prognoses about gadget culture an asset -- well of course it will be informed if you make me play handhelds all day long!

I've almost got them convinced that this year's actual project will require at least a Nokia 7710 and 6680 for proper validation of the media ideas. Hey wait, I was bombarded the project manager because nobody else wanted it -- all I have to convince is me! Aw fuck, now I am going to be all conscientious again.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Yeah, Well, I Shipped

Had a binge of reading up. Three Dutch weekly newspaper wrap-ups (NRC Weekeditie Voor Het Buitenland), three Queues, assorted Communications of the ACM. Still have two issues to go plus the latest issue of Interactions (SIGCHI publication).

Dunno if it was the editing of the interview, but the way Alan Kay talks about JAVA, or actually most of commercial mainstream computing,  makes him sound really bitter. The kinda guy that, if you are a software pro like me in an industrial setting actually making money off deliverable products, you dread having to sit next to at a dinner party. Every time you answer some question about your daily work he will just use it as a way to discuss at length how primitive and wrong-headed your tools are, and thus how your cool ideas about how to solve problems are actually a waste of time, subtly trying to imply pity while being oblivious to the condescencion he projects, dismissing the working end results.

I wonder if he has the drony voice that usually makes that scene complete.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Popular Musiks

I just recived my iPod Shuffle, on the same day I had an epiphany: Napster-To-Go's rental model of music doesn't suck.

It hit me this morning while I was driving to work, listening to the CD of forgettable pop I created from iTunes downloads. And I was thinking that paying 180 bucks a year for renting an unlimited amount of music was actually not that a good deal, because the thing with Napster-To-Go is that when you stop paying the 15 bucks a month, everything you downloaded stops being playable. Over. Gone. You stopped renting and you got kicked out. You don't get to keep your stuff like iTunes lets you at a buck a song.

And then I thought "Like my iTunes are these keepsakes?" Not really. They aren't losslessly compresed from the original masters, they aren't in the FLAC format. They aren't even encoded at a high Variable Bit Rate encoded with a floor of, say, 192kbps. No, it is an average 128 kbps encoded AAC. My keepsakes are my CDs, the music I have carefully encoded and now archive the originals of. These iTunes? This is not encoded into perfection for the ages, this is music I expect to have to repurchase at some form again when there is a format shift.

Yes, format shifts have become a fact of life, and I think iTunes will be susceptible to it hard. In a way I am renting from Apple to: to keep devices authorized to play the music I bought -- and I can't authorize more than 5 devices at a time or so -- I need to network a device with Apple's service for a key. My music still depends on another company, and its software, and its licensing. So far its software is great, but it is only one company. The stuff I buy there is most likely not my last and final purchase of this music.

Well in that case, 180 bucks a year to try everything I could possibly want to try just doesn't sound that bad. With Audiogalaxy I used to select to download everything from an artist or group,overnight, listen to it by day, and keep the one or two things I liked. A far superior way of selecting that just getting 30 second previews like on iTunes, where I do feel some of those previews have misled me. Napster-To-Go would be like that; I could check out a massive amount of new music on my portable device wherever I am, without worrying I may mispurchase. I could really get to know a lot of new stuff, with repeated listenings. Get into a whole catalog. Then I can choose what I really want to keep, and when I let my subscription lapse for some reason, buy those items in a more permanent form. Which might not be easy or economical if what I like is just one song off a whole CD. But hey, that is what iTunes is then for.

It's all trade-offs, balances. The new millenium has for now has brought us what I was afraid it would bring: new headaches of not just having to navigate formats like CD and LP and tape, but rights and restriction packages. There are trade-offs. It is just that I realize that Napsters trade-offs aren't as bad as I thought because their main comparison, iTunes, is actually not as guaranteed futureproof as we'd all like to think, neither in format nor in licensing.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Electronic Health Privacy

Well, so the mega-hospital conglomerate (BIDMC) my health-center (Fenway HC) is affiliated with has created it's patient website. You can apply to register with your main doctor, and then they send you your name and password and your web account is linked to their system. I can request referrals, get reminders for my appointments, exchange secure email with my clinician, etc. Should save everyone a lot of time.

Viewing the demo, however, I recognized a name from my years being in a clinical software lab that would create something like this. I actually did make a number of systems that went live. And since I worked for a children's hospital, I didn't know anyone involved. Hmm. The director of the lab who built this knows me. He built something based on my early work. We worked together. And now he can find out with no hacking just why I am asking for a referral to some specialists.


Thursday, February 03, 2005


So I am finding out people are now writing plug-ibs for Eclipse, the Integrated [computer programs code] Development Environment, that have nothing to with developing code. Like data organizers based on semantic metadata that will categorize your mailboxes, and stuff like that. Basically, Eclipse is the new emacs -- all we need is an Eliza plugin. And a Zippy one. To output on the console view. To each other.

Then again, emacs can retaliate by releasing a version based on the Gecko rendering engine instead of the current text buffers. I am sure you can make Gecko fit right, and emacs would then have native everything, including markup of all kinds and the whole web and all its content as long as Gecko understood it. Eliza could come with a flash animation of a shrink.

Quictime inside emacs. Somebody's head somewhere would explode.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Law Of Conservation Of Software Building Time

Used to be that what gave time during software engineering to be on Usenet was the compiling time. Now thanks to Eclipse's blazingly fast on-demand compiling of J2ME the moment I save a file, I don't have those breaks anymore. Now I have time for web checks during the time it takes to push the damn program on to the phone.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Apple Owns Me

The account I made for song-shopping on iTunes, the one with my credit card and address already filled in, is actually also a full Apple store account name, with which I can shop for hardware without ever having to fill in a form or pull out a wallet. I know this because an iPod Shuffle + armband is on its slow, slow, slow way to me now, and when ordering it, the store told me the account name I tried to create for this store -- I have a system for names based on the website so they are all distinct on different shops, but easily remembered by me -- was already in use. I was confused because I had never ordered from the Apple store before, how could I have an account? The only transaction I had had was when shopping on iTunes...I tried that  password and there I went. All form fields filled in. All I needed to do was click "Buy! Give Apple Your Money! Succumb To The Whiteness And Beauty! It Is So Easy, FJ!!"

Unless I breathe in resolve every time I go to that site, I am doomed.

And I don't even need mac hardware. My home is fully stocked CPU wise, and my laptop couldn't drive even their lowly 20" LCD screen if it tried.


Finally finished Ashen on the QD. Which is good, because my colleagues who had procured the unit and game for actual performance testing were starting to come by my desk more and more frequently wondering when they could have it back for their actual work.

I'll miss it. My first FPS I played to an actual conclusion. Such elation when I saw the finishing sequence. I couldn't believe I was at the end. I could run forever without getting tired, shoot big guns, jump all over the place, and always start over, and then I actually finished the Boss clear out. And this after having been stuck at level 3 for weeks on end.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Material Science

A friend told me his partner got new lenses in his eyes. I believe those are plastic. I think they were inserted under the cornea by cutting an opening and sliding them in, and stitching that cut back closed secures them, but I may have that wrong (don't they need to attach muscles to the lens?). Meanwhile Bucky of Bucky & Jim will probably need new corneas because his own is getting bumpy on the lens area. Dead people will be donating those. The part that is malforming will be sliced off, and the donated patch will be fastened by stitching the gelatinous mass of his cornea to the gelatinous mass of the donated cornea. I find that this can be stitched to be amazing.

I should look up why lenses can be fabricated, but corneas have to be donated.