Running XP without SP2? Well your time is running out…

I don’t agree with Microsoft’s approach here. Essentially if you are running XP and don’t have SP2 installed, then that will be forced down your throat. Now, I had SP2 running the day it went Beta and have not had any problems, but I am not sure if this really is to get the security patches out or forcing people running pirated copy of Windows to buy legal versions (remember SP2 cannot be installed on a pirated version)? I prefer to give the people the option to do it themselves rather than forcing them – I know of many legacy apps at various clients I have worked at that would not work with SP2….

Time is running out! Please note that the mechanism to temporarily disable delivery of Windows XP SP2 is only available for a period of 240 days (8 months) from August 16, 2004. At the end of this period (after April 12, 2005), Windows XP SP2 will be delivered to all Windows XP and Windows XP Service Pack 1 systems.

Perspectives on the Shared Source Initiative

OSNews has an article Microsoft’s Shared Source Initiative seems like an odd mix for the company when it works openly and a clever shot across the bow of open source when it works selfishly. How can the rest of us reconcile both positions? Microsoft ex-employee Stephen Walli shares his perspectives on the Shared Source Initiative from within and without the company – quite an interesting read.

First, recognize that Shared Source isn’t one program with one license. Shared Source is an umbrella program for all source sharing programs from Microsoft. Any time Microsoft makes source code available through a program, it brands it as part of the Shared Source Initiative, the marketing machine has the message to deliver, and a new program ends up on the Microsoft Shared Source website. These licenses span the spectrum from very locked down, look-but-don’t-touch licenses to licenses approved by the OSI, and everything in between.

Most people imagine Shared Source as an avenue to open sourcing Microsoft’s key product assets and are disappointed when they see restrictive licenses and difficult eligibility requirements. It’s easy to assume that clearly Microsoft doesn’t “get it” with open source, or more deliberately is generating confusion in the marketplace. Microsoft has a breadth of software assets and artifacts. The sharing program eligibility and licensing reflects the value of the software asset to shareholders. On one end of this software spectrum are the narrow-eligibility, high-liability programs around the Windows and Office core revenue generating assets (e.g. Government Security Program, Enterprise Source License Program, etc.) There is tightly controlled access to the code, with restrictions on what people can do with it (often read or debug or limited modification without redistribution rights). The penalties for license breach are high.

If you are untested then the director of the shared source initiative at Microsoft, Jason Matusow’s blog can be found here.

Still like NY?

I personally don’t like New York at all – especially New York city, it is a great place for a weekend, but that is it, I won’t live there for a million bucks! And this just makes it another reason on my “don’t like it” list.

A telecommuter who lives out of state while working by computer for a New York employer must pay New York tax on his full income, the state’s highest court ruled Tuesday in a case that could have wide implications in the growing practice. The Court of Appeals said that computer programmer Thomas Huckaby who lives in Nashville, Tenn., owed New York income tax for his full salary, not just the time he spent working at his employer’s New York offices. Huckaby paid tax on about 25 percent of his income over two years for the time he spent working in New York state. But the court upheld a state tax department ruling that all his income should be taxed. That amounts to $4,387 plus interest. However, the ruling could lead to much greater income for the state as it is applied to the growing field of telecommuting.

What is new in IIS 7?

Though there have been lots of talk in Longhorn (especially recently), and I have dabbed in it previously, now some interesting bits are being released on what are the new features in IIS 7. The coolest one of these is the componentization of IIS where all of IIS’s functions will be specific components which can be turned on or off. This means that when you install the Web server, you’ll be able to add only the functionality you need, one piece at a time.

For example, if your applications do not use CGI, you can simply remove that component from your IIS configuration. Today, IIS functions are mostly monolithic, making you install core functionalities whether you use them or not. When a patch for CGI comes around, you need to apply it even though you don’t use it. With IIS 7.0, you’ll need to worry only about the components you chose to install. This will support even more secure configurations of IIS.

In addition, the componentization of IIS will allow Microsoft to build the service onto a set of public APIs which will allow third-party vendors to build their own functionalities into the Web server. And because each functionality is a specific component that can be added to or removed from IIS, these third-party add-ons will be completely transparent to the system.

Another key aspect of IIS 7.0 will be its complete integration with ASP.NET. Currently, ASP.NET consists of additional functionality that is tacked on top of IIS. Although they integrate well, it still takes two different sets of instructions to manage the two together – IIS is managed through its Metabase, and ASP.NET is managed through web.config files. In version 7.0, IIS will be completely integrated with not only ASP.NET but also the .NET Framework, ADO.NET, and even Indigo – the next version of the Microsoft Web Services platform. This means that there will be a single configuration point for all components of an application and the engines used to run it. The greatest advantage of this level of integration is that you will be able to deliver an application complete with its associated Web server configuration when you need to deploy it. This will vastly simplify administrators’ jobs.

Want a RealPlayer alternative?

If you are like me and shy away from RealPlayer because of all the “junk” it installs with and the persistent nagging, well you don’t need to anymore. Check out RealAlternative (as of now at v1.33) which lets you play RealMedia files without having to install RealPlayer (or RealOne player).

You do need a player that is capable of playing RealMedia. The included Media Player Classic supports it and works very well. Supported: RealAudio (.ra .rpm), RealMedia (.rm .ram .rmvb .rpx .smi .smil), RealText (.rt), ReadPix (.rp), RealMedia embedded in web pages. .smi and .smil files sometimes only play the first part of a clip. This is a limitation of the current Media Player Classic. The RealMedia Browser plug in supports Internet Explorer, Opera, Netscape and Mozilla.

Problems waking up?

Got this one from Karan, if you have problems waking up in the morning, especially with an Alarm clock, you might want to check out Clocky. If you wondered what is so exceptional about this well read on…

When the alarm clock goes off and the snooze button is pressed, Clocky will roll off the bedside table and wheel away, bumping mindlessly into objects on the floor until it eventually finds a spot to rest. Minutes later, when the alarm sounds again, the sleeper must get up out of bed and search for Clocky. This ensures that the person is fully awake before turning it off. Small wheels that are concealed by Clocky’s shag enable it to move and reposition itself, and an internal processor helps it find a new hiding spot every day.

Clocky is not available commercially yet – but as these things go I am sure it should be hitting the shelfs soon. 🙂

Sharing a GPS connection over a network

At work, recently I needed to simulate a GPS connection while sitting inside the building and while finding a solution for that I came across GPSGate, which is a cool piece of code. You can use this  to share one GPS connected to a Pocket PC or laptop to other computers connected to the same LAN. On each computer running GpsGate you can in turn connect any number of GPS applications to GpsGate, everything running at the same time. Not only that you can also Simulate a GPS feed (what I was originally looking for) and also log a real feed from a device for later playback.

Using your laptop as a second screen

Jonathan Hardwick explores a few ideas on how to share your windows desktop on more than one machine… Now the question is that which ones are supported in Windows Media Center 2005, so I can control that using one of the laptops at home (there is always either mine or Meenakshi’s around). Has anyone tried this with MCE?

Web Services are not distributed objects

Werner Vogel, CTO of has an article which was published a few months ago where we talks about the misconception of how most people think that web services are distributed objects. Here is an excerpt from the article.

The hype surrounding Web services has generated many common misconceptions about the fundamentals of this emerging technology.

Web services are frequently described as the latest incarnation of distributed object technology. This misconception, perpetuated by people from both industry and academia, seriously limits broader acceptance of the true Web services architecture. Although the architects of many distributed and Internet systems have been vocal about the differences between Web services and distributed objects, dispelling the myth that they are closely related appears difficult.

Many believe that Web services is a distributed systems technology that relies on some form of distributed object technology. Unfortunately, this is not the only common misconception about Web services. In this article, I seek to clarify several widely held beliefs about the technology that are partially or completely wrong.

Fundamental Errors: At the International World Wide Web Conference in May 2003, a smart and gifted Internet architect I will call Peter asked me, “Don’t you think Web services will fail like all the other wide-area distributed object technologies that people have tried to build?” I was baffled. How could someone like Peter still view Web services as distributed object technology? Yet, he is not alone in his stubbornness: many developers, architects, managers, and academics still see Web services as the next episode in a saga that includes Corba, DCOM, and remote method invocation (RMI). Web services are distributed systems technologies, but that is where the common ground ends. The only possible relation is that Web services are now sometimes deployed in areas where distributed object applications have failed in the past. Within the distributed technology world, it is probably more appropriate to associate Web services with messaging technologies because they share a common architectural view, although they address different application types.

Given that Web services are based on XML documents and document exchange, we could say their technological underpinning is document-oriented computing. However, exchanging documents is very different from requesting an object’s instantiation, requesting a method’s invocation on the basis of the specific object instance, receiving that invocation’s result in a response, and releasing the object instance after several such exchanges.

I frequently encounter about a dozen other statements that fall into the same basic category. I hear people say, for example, that “Web services are just remote procedure calls for the Internet,” or “You need HTTP to make Web services work.” Before addressing several of the more common misconceptions, we should define a Web service in its purest form in order to begin with a clear model.

System Programming?

If you ever wanted a quick sample of some system programming – something you know is fairly simple to do but did not have the time to do it from scratch – just something quick and dirty, then you should check out this link – which has all the basic stuff Thread Pools, Waitable Handles, Monitors, Secure Remoting channel, etc.

Silicon Art Gallery – The Smallest Dying Art of All

Fortune is running a story about the golden age of microchip graffiti is fading. But these images were never meant to be seen in the first place.

“I saw something that looked different from most other things on the chip,” Davidson recalls. He cranked up the magnification and looked again. “I saw this Waldo thing,” recalls Davidson, referring to the character in the Where’s Waldo? cartoon books. At first Davidson thought the microscopic Waldo served as a kind of anti-copying feature, but a few months later, on the same chip, he found a teeny tiny Daffy Duck. Now the hunt was on.

“As I looked at more chips, I saw more graffiti,” Davidson says. “I started seeing things out in the gutters, in pad rings, and things in areas that normally don’t have any [circuitry].” By 1998 he had found a dozen examples. He referred to them collectively as a “Silicon Zoo” and posted them on a website that was featured by “That’s when a lot of chip engineers started sending me designs,” Davidson says. His Silicon Zoo is now populated by more than 300 works of micrograffiti.

Many engineers merely printed their initials on their chips, as though they were signing a painting. Some etched corners of their chips with humorous word graffiti, such as this takeoff on a famous bumper sticker: if you can read this, you are way too close. But much of the chip art is in the form of images, among them cheetahs, buffalo, rabbits, sailboats, trains, space vehicles, Groucho Marx glasses-and-mustache masks, and even seductresses and con artists. One chip designer doodled a “can-o-worms” on the edge of a chip to represent the glitches that arose during the chip’s development. This one is reminiscent of the unauthorized and often humorous, lascivious, or subversive doodlings that medieval scribes sometimes added to the lavish embellishments for pages of the ancient works they were copying.

Here are some very interesting samples:

You can check out more images online here and here.

Recommendation for a Ergonomic Chair for Home-Office?

I am looking (Karan has been on the lookout also) for a good ergonomic chair for my study at home and want to get your feedback on which ones you like and what do you think the price is right for that? I also need to take into account shipping to UK if something is only available in the US (or buying in the US and shipping to UK given the £ to $ ratio).

What do I like? I have spent my last 6-7 years at work in a Aero Chair manufactured by Herman Miller and absolutely love them. There is also a newer version by them called Mirra Chairs which are supposed to be better.

Given that between I and my wife we are going to spend a lot of time in front of the computer, I don’t mind spending a little money on a good chair in the long run – cheaper to invest in the chair than in a chiropractorJ.

What do you recommend?