Friday, March 28, 2003

Something for the war reporters to consider
James Snell over at snellspace has a great questionnbspfor those reporting on the war in Iraq:

Question: Why doesn't it appear as if news agencies are asking Iraqi officials to account for all of the missiles and artillery it is shooting in and around Baghdad?

There are several possibilities beyond an “errant U.S. bomb”, all of which are just as likely if not more so: 1) The Iraqi military is firing all anti-aircraft munitions over Baghdad ballistically. This means they are completely unguided. This means that if they shoot the missile from one part of Baghdad up at a target, it's going to come back down at some point and explode. 2) The Iraqi military has been consistently targeting Iraq's own civilians outside of Baghdad throughout the past week. It's quite possible that, for purely propaganda reasons, they are purposefully shooting missiles into crowded Baghdad neighborhoods in order to be able to blame coalition forces. It would be entirely characteristic of the regime given everything else they appear to be doing.

For the critics out there reading this post, I'm not saying that this is absolutely what is happening, these are just possibilities.... very real possibilities given the circumstances.

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Saddam Unplugged

Fox News:nbsp A satirical documentary that portrays Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as a personal hygiene fanatic — who also likes to fish with grenades — is getting a rather timely DVD release in the United States next week.

Fishing with grenades? I remember my Dad telling me stories about his Dad and his brother going out fishing at the local pond with dynamite — sounds like the same concept as fishing with grenades.

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The wonders of technology

Jeremy Zawodny points to a very funny story that I think we can probably all relate to. You know the kind where a company billing you for a service can't seem to ever get it right? Except in this story, the customer was being harrassed to pay the $0.00 he “owed”!

These are the types of stories every customer rep, business manager and IT person in a company should have to read and then figure out how they're going to fix the problem immediately. I don't know how many times I've dealt with companies that can't perform a simple task such as billing the customer correctly.

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Thursday, March 27, 2003

Potato clock tick tock

jhawk over at The Fury of The Cow!nbsphas become one with nature at his workplace.

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Operation Iraqi Freedom Strikes Out at Emmys
The Skeptician: The Academy of Arts and Sciences sent a strong message today by announcing that Operation Iraqi Freedom will not be nominated for any Emmy Awards this year.

Critics were plentiful. “The pace was way too slow,” said acclaimed director Mikhail Moore. “It just dragged on and on and on. Where did these guys get their education?”

Other film critics shared their complaints of the broadcast, including issues with production style, casting, and plot.

Gaming critics also weighed in on the war. “The graphics suck,” said Todd Simmons. “All black and white, and grainy. And there's not nearly enough guts and stuff splattering around.”

Gotta love it. The Skeptician always makes me laugh.
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McDonald's is selling its best restaurant chains

According to Fox NewsnbspBoston Market, Chipotle and Donatos may all be up for sale. If I had 100's of millions of dollars laying around, I'd start by buying Donatos and then Chipotle followed by Boston Market.

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ECM and other “Enterprise” nonsense

Jim Howard, CEO of CrownPeak Technology, has an article on CMSWatch that addresses the issue of ECM (Enterprise Content Management.) Jim points out that because vendors are so eager to meet the needs of every market segment, they are not providing solid results for their customers. I agree and the sad part about this is that IT departments everywhere are generally falling into the allure of “standardizing” on a huge “Enterprise” system that does everything and then some. The tendency is for IT to believe that this type of consolidation of vendors and products automatically translates to smoother operations and lower total cost of ownership. Unfortunately, as the article points out, these do-everything Enterprise systems cannot possibly meet all the needs they promise to meet and companies end up replacing parts of the system with other software packages or dump the system all together. I blame vendors first for the confusion in marketing products in a manner that makes it seem as though you would only ever need their offering. I then blame those of us in IT for buying into the hype that we've seen time and time again.

Important note: My employer is currently close to signing up for CrownPeak's services. My thoughts on this article would be the same no matter who the author was.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Meetings and more meetings

Meetings are the enemy of most of us in IT. If you run into an IT person who loves meetings, he or she is most likely at the executive level of the food chain. I find myself in more meetings as each day passes. Monday and Tuesday of this week was spent in a two day meeting that is now extending into a three to four day meeting with next Monday and Tuesday being reserved to continue the fun started this week.

It's funny to me that I got into IT because I like technology, but now I spend most of my time away from the technology.nbspI don't mind it so much because I understand better now that IT is nothing to a business if it doesn't take into consideration the business itself. Still, spending my days in meetings is not all that great.

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R.E.M. R.I.P.
R.E.M. is definitely ending their careers on a low note.nbsp They've released a protest song.nbsp It's not a very good protest song, which would fall in line with the last couple of albums they've released.nbsp If you see Michael Stipe anytime soon, please tell him to concentrate on making a solid new album and not more of the same crap they've been putting out lately.
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Scoble, you're wrong

The Scobleizer: So far we've lost 22 military folks the TV blurts. We've probably killed hundreds of thousands of people already. What about them? Oh, I forgot, they are on the other side so they don't count.

Hundreds of thousands?nbspWhere is he getting this information from?nbspEven if you're just speculating, you should at least have a point of reference.nbspI don't see statements as this being any better than the bias Scoble is complaining about.

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Michael Moore as The Penguin at the Oscars
ChronWatch: It’s doubtful that anyone is unfamiliar with Moore after his unearthly acceptance speech at the Oscars, in which Moore, who was bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Penguin as played by Danny Devito, delivered a spittle-flinging parody of dignified, informed dissent, a hysterical tirade bereft of any intelligent commentary whatsoever.

I didn't watch the Oscars this year. There were too many movies nominated that I didn't care all that much about to bother watching. Yes, I like Steve Martin and, yes, I would have loved to have seen Michael Moore make a fool of himself in front of his peers. I guess I was too busy flipping between coverage of the war that night.
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Friday, March 21, 2003

Very interesting anti-war signs
I found these rather honest protest signs. At least these protestors are truthful about what they stand for. Sign1 Sign2 Sign3
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Chirac is 'Saddam's whore'?
Guardian: The Sun has renewed its attack on the French, branding President Jacques Chirac “Saddam Hussein's whore” in a special Paris edition that has once again caused fury in the highest echelons of French government.

You have to hand it to the British tabloids — they are relentless about agitating people all over the world.
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First we pray, then we protest war, then we start the violence in Cairo, Egypt, Muslims hurled rocks and furniture at riot police from the roof of the historic al-Azhar mosque after Friday prayers.

It never ceases to amaze me how anti-war protests often turn violent. Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose?
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Our beloved state of Florida
Florida is an easy whipping boy. There always seems to be a story that affects the entire country coming out of Florida. Today is no exception. Again, I must ask, what is in the Florida water? Are they drinking straight from the ocean? I say this even as I have a sister who lives in Miami, FL.
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Lean left, way left

One of the more entertaining weblogs you can possibly read is Lean Left. When giving his takes on the war, Kevin seems to desperately seek news that would give signs that the US is running into problems. Do Liberals feel that if this war is successful that they will have some explaining to do? I honestly believe that both Conservatives and Liberals want what is best for the country but have a severe difference of opinion on how to achieve that goal. Am I wrong? I get the feeling that I am.

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Thursday, March 20, 2003

Move over 'Pet Store', here comes 'Adventure Builder'
The Server Side points out that Sun has released its early access version 2 Adventure Builder J2EE Blueprint sample application. This will eventually replace the infamous Pet Store application. The only reason this is worth noting (in my opinion) is because Sun is not using EJB in the new Blueprint sample application, which is rather curious seeing as how EJB tends to be one of the reasons most often touted by proponents of J2EE.

I see this as a good step by Sun to hopefully simplify things for a majority of those developing J2EE applications. On the other hand, I can also see it as Sun practically conceding that EJB is overkill for all but the most complex projects.
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Kenya better not let the Democrats know...

They caught an important al Qaeda suspect. Democrats don't want anymore of these terrorists caught. It screws up their argument that we're not focused on fighting terrorism.

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Cisco to buy Linksys
InfoWorld: Cisco Systems is back on the acquisition road, with plans to snap up wireless vendor Linksys Group Thursday in a stock deal valued at $500 million.

I'm not sure if this is good or not. Will Cisco use this acquisition as a way to enter the consumer market? I don't see any other reason to acquire a company in Linksys that typically focuses on consumer and SOHO networking products.
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Reasons for The Fury of the Cow MIA

Reasons for no updates: 1) jhawk is sick. 2) The war started. 3) The JayHawks are in town. 4) Increased security at work. 5)I feel like I'm diagonally parked in a parallel world. 6) It's been raining for 3 days. Take your pick!...

A day is not complete without the jhawk's takes.

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The French's obsession with Jerry Lewis continues

I saw this Entertainment Weeklynbsparticle on “President Bush and French President Jacques Chirac may not be phone pals anymore, but that didn't stop Chirac from discussing Saddam Hussein, the war in Iraq, and other serious issues with another famous American: Jerry Lewis. Except it turns out that the man who had a five-minute phone conversation with Chirac last week wasn't Lewis, but rather a Los Angeles DJ impersonating the comedian.” Via Instapundit.

Leave it to both American radio DJ's and France's obsession with Jerry Lewis to provide humour during these times.

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Excuse me, Mr. Information Minister, where is Saddam right now?

The Age: “The President is on duty,” he said at a press conference when asked where Saddam Hussein was.

You have to love reporters. As if Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf was going to tell us where Saddam is. “Oh, Saddam? He's a few blocks from here in building 871. I'll draw you a map once I'm done answering questions.”

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Wednesday, March 19, 2003

A horrible ZDNet article
ZDNet Australia has an article by Jonathan Lurie on why licensed software is a better option than Open Source software (OSS.) Mr. Lurie argues that licensed software is a better option in four main areas: Time to market, quality, TCO and flexibility.

Mr. Lurie seems to think that most OSS does not make it to the market in a timely manner because “lack of full-time resources (or the reliance upon voluntary efforts) in an open source project typically results in longer development cycles.” Apparently Mr. Lurie is unaware of slippage in release dates with most software, licensed or OSS. Ask anyone who has worked on developing a software application if they tend to get behind their target release dates and chances are you will hear a resounding “yes.” This first argument is poorly supported and not even close to true. In fact, I would argue that OSS gives you a much better chance at knowing if it is going to meet its target release dates just by the nature of the openness of the community. Commercial software companies have many reasons for keeping new releases under tight wraps, while OSS projects have no reason to keep new releases secret.

The next argument Mr. Lurie makes is that OSS lacks the same quality as licensed software. Again, I make the assumption that Mr. Lurie has not seen most of the poor documentation that comes with commercial software. Successful OSS projects are often well documented and tested rigorously. When companies like IBM, Oracle, Apple, Sun, Novell and many others get behind OSS you can be sure they don't feel that OSS is of inferior quality. Beyond that, Mr. Lurie is missing a key point about OSS: You can improve the product yourself. Try doing that with most licensed software that has poor quality and documentation.

Moving from poor quality to total cost of ownership, Mr. Lurie points out that the license cost is often only 20% of the TCO and that puts the argument of OSS being “free” at a disadvantage. Mr Lurie writes:

If you do not already have access to developers well versed in OSS platforms and development tools, you will have to retrain your team (good luck finding enterprise-quality training for PHP) or bring in outside guns to make modifications or fix the eventual bug. Furthermore, there is a dearth of experts in OSS compared to experts in licensed software. Chances are you will have to spend a good deal of time and money training staff to support OSS products.

My guess is that Mr. Lurie believes licensed software packages require little retraining and have a much lower learning curve as a whole when compared to OSS because he makes no mention of why OSS would wreck such havoc on your company's IT staff in comparison to licensed software. I've found that PHP, Python and Perl are as easy for a development staff to learn and become effective with as it is for commercial packages like .NET, Cold Fusion and the various other commercial middleware/web languages out there. Maybe that is just my bias on the subject showing through.

The last argument by Mr. Lurie is one of his worst. He claims that the flexibility of OSS is actually detrimental. His reasoning is that you shouldn't have to mess with the source code of software and, even if you do, the chances of breaking away from the OSS provider are great. If you break away from the OSS provider, Mr. Lurie argues, then you will have an escalated cost of maintaining that code. What Mr. Lurie does not appear to understand about how OSS works is that source code is open in order for individuals to combine their efforts in improving the software. If you find a fix for the software we're both using, then I want that fix in my version of the software as well. Unless you're going in a different direction (with your code changes) than the OSS project wants to go, then your code will likely be rolled into the OSS project. Now, if I have a bug in a licensed software package, how do I get the bug fixed? I have to report the bug and hope that the vendor is able to provide a reliable fix in a timely manner. Yes, I've paid that vendor for the software, but I haven't paid that vendor to prioritize bug fixes nor have I paid the vendor to work closely with me in making sure the software is fixed in a way that fits my needs. I've simply bought a license that entitles me to the use the software.

I'm actually surprised this article on ZDNet was released. It seems like it was written four to five years ago due to its total lack of understanding on what OSS is and how it works. There is good and bad OSS just as there is good and bad commercial software.
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.NET Guy is on to something

.NET Guy: I've been thinking about this for a while. It seems like all the indications are there that Iran is read to flip, internally. There's a strong democratic underground push. I've long said that Iran's government represented the singular most important focus of evil in the Middle East (and the world). With things the way they are, it seems much better to aid the rebels and let them re-take Iran and re-make it themselves. We definitely don't want to go in guns a-blazin'.

I wonder if Bush's decision to roll over Saddam right now is somehow related to giving the Iranian rebels a back against which to lean? It would certainly make it easier for us to support them covertly when we're all over Iraq. I can't help but wonder whether I've seriously mis-estimated the intelligence of Bush here. Could he really be doing this?

I think the .NET Guy may have this exactly right. We know Iran is on the list of countries we need to address sooner rather than later. We also know that there is a growing unrest within the country from massive amounts of people. I think the US' presence in Iraq will empower the people in Iran to finally overcome their government. And guess who will be there to help them make sure things go OK? I'll give you one clue, it's not France.

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Conservatives do care about people around the world

Dave Winer: I hear so much concern for the people inside Iraq. Come on. You right wing guys don't really care about them, do you? If so, why only Iraq? Why not take on civil strife, starvation and disease where ever it happens. I don't believe you really care about the people of Iraq. Sorry.

Dave, there are a number of us Conservatives that care about people around the world. We realize that we can police the entire earth, but we also realize there are certain actions we can and should take. There were numerous Conservatives (who don't take the now seemingly popular Liberal view of isolation) who supported our action in Kosovo and Bill Clinton not going to the UN even while France whined about it. The same can be said for today. We believe there is a threat in Iraq and it's a threat that has been building to a boil similar to North Korea. We warned many people about North Korea and the dangers of appeasing a ruthless dictator, but that was during the 90's and we all know how self absorbed we all were during that time when the economy appeared to be unstoppable. Now North Korea has nuclear capabilities and we are in a very tricky situation. We cannot allow the same thing to happen with Iraq. Remember, no one (except maybe Churchill) believed that Germany would ever be a threat after WWI so we, the US and Europe, refused to uphold our agreement with Germany to disarm. We now know how well that policy worked out.

War is the last resort. After twelve years of dealing with Saddam on many different levels, we are finally having to force the issue by putting the ultimatium out there. Clinton wanted to do the same in 1998, but was talked out of it by major members of the UN. Bush is faced with a huge mess on his hands. Has he handled it as well as he could? No. Looking back on things he should have took care of the Taliban and then immediately taken action in Iraq. The world would have been a bit weary of our use of force in Iraq but the anger of 9-11 would most likely have remained strong enough to override any objections. In the end, hindsight is of course 20-20. The President has a hard job, no matter who holds the office. This President has an especially hard job and I believe is doing the best he can. I believe we'll look back and see that he was courageous in his decision in regards to Iraq, but only time will tell.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2003

NewzCrawler now supports Mozilla

I've finally given in and bought NewzCrawler. It's always been a nice little software package for reading weblogs and posting to your own weblog, but it had one big bug that I couldn't stand — it used Internet Explorer exclusively as its HTML renderer. That is no longer the case as of today. NewzCrawler version 1.4.1 build 1415 now supports Mozilla as the HTML renderer. Excellent!

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My apologies Prime Minister

I must admit I thought little of Tony Blair back in the 90's.  He appeared to be nothing more than Britain's Bill Clinton — a slick and polished politician controlled by the polls, not conviction.  I was wrong.  Tony Blair is putting everything on the line to do what he believes is right.  No matter what I think of the Prime Minister's other policies, I have to give him the utmost respect for sticking to his convictions even when it means the growing possibility of him losing his position of power.  We need more leaders like that.  Make an informed decision and stick to it.  Do not follow the frailty of the public's opinion.  Afterall, we're the same public that races to our television sets to watch the barrage of “reality” shows and the same public that pays more attention to Michael Jackson's personal life than to people and events that actually matter.

I admire your stand Prime Minister Blair and believe that history will admire you in much the same way we now admire Winston Churchill for his stand against the threats of his day when very few supported his view.

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The problem with the anti-war crowd

Off the Kuff: A number of antiwar types have said that once invasion is inevitable, those of us who oppose it need to start talking about what comes next. Now that not attacking Iraq is sadly no longer a realistic hope, we need to focus on making sure that the aftermath is properly handled. Truth be told, all I can really think about right now is working to unelect Bush in 2004. I'm having a hard time getting past my emotions on this.

The problem here is how people seem to think that Bush is responsible for Saddam Hussein's defiance.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Iraq was told to disarm as part of ending the Gulf War.  It's similar to how Germany was supposed to disarm after WWI.  Germany didn't and we know what happened years later.  Now Iraq isn't disarming and Bush is trying to accomplish three main objectives by holding Saddam's feet to the fire:

  1. Get rid of Hussein so that Iraq is not a threat to acquire Nuclear weapons and become another North Korea nightmare.

  2. Legitimize the UN's resolutions following a war.

  3. Liberate the Iraqi people just as we did in Kosovo for the Croats and Muslims there.

The anti-war crowd (anti-war at all costs — I'm anti-war but not at all costs) is actually driving us to war by making Saddam feel that he has leverage.  If Saddam felt the pressure of the world breathing down his neck, he just might have left the country and war would have been prevented.  But, because of countries like France, Russia and Germany and anti-war protestors, Saddam feels that the world is on his side.  You can hate Bush all you want, but I don't think you'd like living in a country run by Saddam Hussein.  If you don't believe me, try holding a protest of the Iraqi regime in the middle of Baghdad and let me know how well that works out for you.

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There are security flaws and then there are Microsoft security flaws

dive into mark points out an interesting fact about Apache security vulnerabilities when put into perspective of the recent Microsoft IIS vulnerability discovered the other day.  Security is a tough business that no one can escape.  Whether you're on Windows, *nix, OS X, etc. it takes some effort to make things somewhat secure.  Unfortunately, Microsoft hasn't taken security all that seriously for many years and the severe security holes that keep popping up in Microsoft software only goes to show how far Microsoft has to come in order to earn respect in the minds of those in IT when it comes to security.  Of course, that's assuming IT cares all that much about security.  We pay lip service to it, but then we often don't do our share to make our systems more secure.

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Monday, March 17, 2003

Driving to Ohio and back in a 36 hr. period
I'm exhausted from this weekend's drive to Ohio to pickup my wife and son along with all their stuff. But, I did have a couple of things happen on the trip:
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What Would Jesus Tax?

Jason over at jaceonline has a great post on those who say Christians need to support fixing an “unfair tax structure.”

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Another example of why the UN is quickly becoming irrelevant

BBC: The United Nations Human Rights Commission has begun its annual session in Geneva amid criticism that its chair - Libya - is itself guilty of gross human rights violations.

Libya is guilty of human rights violations? Shocking!  Libya chairs the UN Human Rights Commission? Par for the course.

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Elizabeth Smart

The .NET Guy: But how does a little girl who's so traumatized by what's going on that she refuses to escape and refuses to accept help from the police, then turn around and within 24 hours she's just acting like a normal teenage kid, going to sleep in the same room and same bed from which she was kidnapped? Why when I add 1 and 1 do I get 47 instead of 2?

I don't know why this is, but it seems to me that when you are messed with psychologically, everyone reacts differently.  She may act “normal” but who knows what's spinning around in her head?  I think it's pretty sad that people are jumping on this girl for not trying to get away and for acting so normal after she was finally found.  Once you've been kidnapped and put through what Smart was, then you can critique her.  Until then, please just leave it alone.  What good does it do to criticize this teenage girl's actions during a terrifying situation?

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Dan Gillmor the Liberal

Dan Gillmor: If we had an opposition party, a real one, we'd hear about alternatives.  The Democrats could talk about investing in our children's future, not stealing from it.

Stealing from our children's future?  Dan, why is it that we are stealing from our children when federal spending in education has gone up 65% since 1999?  Is it because the results are horrendous?

Here is another question for Dan and others who hold a Liberal view on things: What are the rights for a person these days?  I hear Liberals whine about things like minimum wage being too low.  I often hear them say minimum wage should be a dollar or two higher.  Why only a couple bucks?  Why not $20 more?  And why not health care for everyone?  Why not a car for everyone?  A house for everyone?  Spending cash for everyone? Retirement funds for all?  All of this provided by the government, of course.  What should the rights of a person be these days in the US?  That is the question I'm curious in hearing an answer to from those who hold views similar to Dan's.

I believe those who can help themselves should not be dependent upon the government for day-to-day living.  I believe God's church needs to (and often does) take on the problems of those in need.

No matter what side of the political aisle you fall on, I would think you'd want less government dependence and less government spending.  But, oddly enough, many think the government should be doing more, much more in almost every area of our lives.  Redistribution of wealth by the government is not what we want.  While capitalism has more than its fair share of flaws, it's still the best option out there.

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Wrox books RIP?

It looks like Wrox Press may be going out of business.  I've done technical/editorial reviews for Wrox in the past and while I didn't always like their approach of many authors for one title, they put out some solid material overall.  That's not even mentioning the web sites that Wrox was behind for the developer community. Sigh.

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MySQL is not (yet) a threat to the big db makers

Slashdot has a post about whether MySQL is threatening the “bigwigs” or not.  I say no, not yet.  The problem with MySQL for the enterprise has been it was orginally developed with a very different customer in mind.  Now MySQL is a serious company and wants to attract enterprise customers to its offering, so now it is finally adding things like sub-queries, stored procedures, views, etc.  Once MySQL provides the sophisticated features enterprises are often looking for to run their ERP, CRM, etc. applications on, then things will likely get very interesting in the enterprise database market.  Let's not forget, we already have PostgreSQL with the full feature set and SAP DB as well.

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Friday, March 14, 2003

Off to Ohio (again)
I'm off to Ohio tomorrow. This time I'm driving and taking my dog. This time it's to bring my wife and son up here to little Russia (Wisconsin) for good. I'm very excited to have them both up here finally. On the other hand, I'm not so excited about driving down there tomorrow and then driving back up on Sunday, but it'll be well worth it!

So, as my friend Pete would say, “It's time to pick up all the old corn dog sticks off the floor and end all the non-stop parties. Living the bachelor life is over.”
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From the people of Iraq to Chirac: Give us freedom As an Iraqi, I am very disappointed from your decision of supporting Saddam by giving him more time.
What happen to the freedom that France believes in or that is only good for the European people? Isn't 35 years of murdering the Iraqis by the Baath party is long enough or you'd like to see more killing of the Iraqi people by that regime.

Very interesting letters there.  The one that follows the letter above is even more compelling in that it basically says, “Mr. President (Chirac), if you help free us (the Iraqi people) you will be rewarded much more than you are currently being rewarded by the current regime.”

If actions like Kosovo, Somalia, Haiti, etc. were to help free others, why can't we do the same in Iraq?  Certainly Saddam Hussein is at least as horrible as Slobodan Milosevic.  So we free Iraq and we prevent another dictator from accumulating weapons of mass destruction in the process — makes too much sense to me.

By the way, maybe we should ask the Iraqi people how well “containment” has worked over the last twelve years before we brag about our containing Saddam Hussein.

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Before there was email

Fury of The Cow!: Our exchange server is still down, so no email. We had our weekly Friday meeting coming up soon. Nobody knew what time they were to take place. The time is never the same week to week. So one of the management guys is walking around with a hand drawn sign that says Meeting 3:30pm. Walks by your desk and shows it to you. Then moves on to the next person. Is this what it was like pre-email?

It's very funny to me that people would walk around with a sign to tell everyone what time a meeting is going to be.  Somehow I don't believe this is how it was before email.

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Enough already Clinton!

Why doesn't former President Clinton just keep his mouth shut?  He and Jimmy Carter are setting new precedents by going out of their way to criticize a current administration.  They go to Europe and bad mouth Bush and the US.  Last time I checked Clinton was bombing Iraq like mad in the 90's without any UN permission — ditto for Kosovo.  And, I believe he was the one who cut that great deal with North Korea and didn't take real action concerning the numerous terrorist attacks during his tenor.  Let's not even talk about Carter.  Even Democrats often admit Carter's reign was nothing to brag about.  Regardless, neither of these guys should spouting off about the current administration.  They had their chance and now it is Bush's turn.  By the way, I would say the exact same thing if a former Republican president went out of his way to criticize the current administration. 

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France may have more to hide than we first thought

People are starting to pick up on the fact that France has quite a bit of a financial interest in seeing the current Iraqi regime remain in place.  But, what hasn't been so clear is why France wouldn't back down on their stance against the US once it was settled that Iraq was not complying and war was inevitable.  Afterall, France will definitely want to get their fair share of the rebuilding of Iraq.  Or does it?

William Safire has an article in the New York Times that points out that France may have more to hide than simply doing business with Iraq.  France may be worried that we'll go into Iraq and discover that France has been supplying Saddam Hussein with materials to build surface-to-surface missles.

For all those I heard on NPR this morning saying they supported France in their effort to oppose the US: Remember that the US isn't the only country full of human beings who would sell their soul for money and power.  Look into France's history with Iraq, especially Jacque Chirac's history with Saddam Hussein and you may be a little bit surprised at what you find. 

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Raging Cow meet Raging Platypus

dive into mark points to Raging Platypus an alternative to Raging Cow.  I love the picture of the kitten on the Platypus site.  Classic.

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E.T. would have a home in New Mexico

Off The Kuff posts an article on how New Mexico has a proposal to “honour all extraterrestrial beings with a special day that will ”celebrate and honour all past, present and future extraterrestrial visitors“ to New Mexico”

I thought it had to be a joke, but it's legit.  New Mexico now joins Florida on my list of states that needs to have the water checked.

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Communism and the Rolling Stones

From The Chinese government has forbidden the Rolling Stones from playing “Brown Sugar,” “Honky Tonk Woman,” “Beast of Burden,” and “Let's Spend the Night Together” at their upcoming dates in Beijing and Shanghai next month; the songs were also left off of the Chinese version of “40 Licks”

Let us not forget that China is still a Communist country.  Apparently not even legendary rock stars like the Rolling Stones can escape that fact.  Of course, I'm sure the Stones are still going to play the concert and collect on the money.  Sigh.

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Thursday, March 13, 2003

Recommended email service
I've been meaning to recommend a very good email service called FastMail. I've been using the service for about six months now and the reliability and cost is excellent. They provide POP Web, and IMAP mail access along with some of the best customer service you'll find anywhere — online or off. So, if you're sick of switching email addresses or you're finally fed up with your web mail provider (Yahoo!, Hotmail, etc.), definitely check out FastMail.
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Senate Bans 'Partial Birth' Abortions

Fox News: After three days of emotional debate on the constitutionality of limiting a woman's right to an abortion, the Senate overwhelmingly approved a ban Thursday on a late-term procedure that abortion opponents called “barbaric.”

Even for those that want to give women the right to choose to kill kids, this is the right thing to do.  Yes, there are exceptions where abortion may be necessary, like the mother's life is in danger, etc.  But, abortion just as a choice of not giving birth to a child is not acceptable. 

The Senate deserves credit for finally passing this bill.

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Office 2003: Open document file format a no go

I just read this Internet World report pointed to from Slashdot that says Microsoft's Office 2003 beta (close to release) does not provide a meaningful XML file format.  They give you content but not the formatting/presentation info.  So much for Microsoft showing real evidence of changing its ways.

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Can You Hear Me Now?
Fox News: “A local cemetery received a phone bill last week for David Towles at his correct address — Hillside Cemetery, Evergreen Section, Auburn, Mass. 01501.

Towles was buried there in December 1997. He died at age 60.”

Why does this not surprise me?

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Dave discovers that Sprint cell phone coverage is awful

Dave Winer: “Sprint, my cellphone provider, has really awful coverage. After leaving western Nevada, only in Denver and Salt Lake was I able to dial out or receive calls.”

I found out that Sprint's great deals come at a cost — the service is often horrible.  I know there are people quite happy with Sprint, but I found them to offer unreliable service with some of the worst coverage.  It's too bad Dave had to find that out while on the road.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Oh no, the U.N. is going to get us!

James Snell hits it right on the head when he responds to this New York Times article. 

To quote James: “So, given the way the U.N. has handled such situations in the past, in response to the U.S. violating the U.N. Charter, they'll make empty threats for 12 years, wait for the U.S. to threaten military action, then continue to make empty threats.... oh, I'm sorry, this is supposed to be against the United States! That's right. So I guess, in that case, the empty threats would just go on indefinitely while the United States continues to pay most of the U.N.'s bills, host the U.N. headquarters and continues to be the pretty much the sole enforcer of U.N. resolutions.”

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Airline industry may collapse

The airlines are once again proclaiming their own doom.  This time the excuse is a war with ffice:smarttags” />Iraq.  Face it, most of the major airlines are doomed because of their own foolish business maneuvers.  It's funny how certain airlines can make it in this economy and others cannot.  Are those that are surviving and even thriving performing magic?fficeffice” />

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Challenges to abortion bill defeated in Senate

From CNN: “The day's events reflected hardened political lines on abortion, an issue that Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Illinois, said was dividing America as deeply as slavery did in the 19th century. The Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that women had the right to abortions.”

If abortion is as divisive as slavery, who is the North and who is the South in this contest?  My take: Conservatives are the North (once again) and Liberals are the South when it comes to the battle over abortion.  Killing kids isn't a right by the way — just go ask any kid.

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We have MTV to thank for all this 'reality tv' crap

From Enterainment Weekly: “But wait, it's not all about style with Alex: He's also sensitive. He just likes to talk and show his vulnerability, telling Arissa that he's scared to get involved because they're from other sides of the country. And then — get ready to swoon, ladies! — he lent her his trademark Gucci hat. That's like Superman giving up his cape, Fonzie loaning out his leather jacket, and Joe Millionaire bequeathing his sweatpants all wrapped into one!”

MTV is the one I blame for the start of the reality tv craze we have going on today.  The Real World has been going on for at least ten years now and the networks have finally caught on that reality tv is perfect: gets the viewers, requires no writers, requires no actors and is just dirt cheap in general.  But, who is really to blame for reality tv's domination? Everyone who watches.  If we didn't watch, then the networks wouldn't push them so hard.  At least the shows provide endless opportunities for commentary like the EW one above.

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Macromedia's new site design is not useful
CNET has an opinion piece from Forrester Research about Macromedia's new design that nails the problems with the new site design.  I know Macromedia is adamant that Flash is the superior technology for the web, but their new design proves that Flash doesn't necessarily help a site visitor get to the content he or she is looking for.  Flash has its place, but forcing the issue doesn't help Macromedia sell the technology.
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A challenge President Bush must take on

Wired has an excellent article on the challenge America faces in regards to alternative fuel.  It's definitely a chicken or the egg dilemma.  How do you get car manufacturers to make vehicles that run on alternative fuel when alternative fuel isn't widely available across the nation (ala gas stations)?  The article points out that President Bush needs to step up to the plate and pull of a JFK like initiative.  Instead of putting man on the moon, Bush needs to make fuel cell technology in cars a reality within ten years.  I agree 100% with this article.

We cannot continue to rely on the Middle East for a critical resource.  Can you imagine if we needed to get water from the Middle East?  Or how about food?  Oil is just about as important in this day in age and it gives power to countries that have no business holding power.  Leaders of countries like Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, etc. are nothing without the leverage their countries' oil provides them.

President Bush would need to form one of the smartest think tanks in history to pull off such a project.  No matter how inconceivable in may seem, I don't believe we have a choice.  Either allow the Middle East to hold incredible power and wealth or put together an incredibly aggressive plan to do the seemingly impossible — get the US on alternative fuel within ten years.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Microsoft to Corel: “Bye-bye”
Slashdot points out that Microsoft selling its shares of Corel stock at a 90% loss. I can't believe that Corel is still alive these days to be honest. They don't appear to be a company with a vision. Unlike Novell, which is losing more market share each day but has solid products, Corel has very little market share and very little to sell. If Corel had value left, I believe Microsoft would have bought them rather than taking a 90% loss on their initial investment in the company.
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The Pope to protect Saddam?
From Boing Boing pointing to Defense Tech: Anti-war movements usually attract quite a number of, shall we say, eccentric ideas. But this has to be one of the strangest pleas for peace ever: activists are begging the Pope to go to Baghdad and become “the ultimate human shield.” Dr. Helen Caldicott, a former Harvard professor, is urging people from around the globe to e-mail, fax, call, and snail mail the Vatican, and ask the Pope to “travel to Baghdad and to remain there until a peaceful solution to this crisis has been implemented.” The idea, Caldicott writes, is that the Bush Administration wouldn't risk a bombing campaign in Iraq if the Pope's life were in danger. There's been no official word from Rome in reaction to Caldicott's entreaty. But new-age guru Deepak Chopra said late last month that he'd join John Paul II and the Dalai Lama in Baghdad, if the two spiritual leaders were willing to place themselves in harm's way.

The thing I like about the human shields that were in Iraq is the fact that most of them returned to their comfortable lives in their democratic homeland once they found out that Saddam was serious about taking them up on their offer. If you believe in protecting Saddam Hussein enough to die for his cause, then so be it. Just don't be surprised when you find a cruise missle staring you straight in the eye. Peace is not about protecting a ruthless dictator, but that's exactly what the crowd protesting a potential war in Iraq are really doing by criticizing President Bush while letting Hussein to get off the hook. Why is freedom OK for us but not Iraq?

Also, peace is not about tearing down a September 11th memorial in the name of “peace.” It's fascinating how so-called peace loving people can turn violent and ignorant so easily.
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McDonalds testing wireless service
AOL/AP: “In a further sign of the spread of wireless Internet technology, McDonald's restaurants in three U.S. cities will offer one hour of free high-speed access to anyone who buys a combination meal.”

This would make very good use of McDonalds' presence around the world. I know people don't normally sit at McDonalds for hours on end, but enticing people to come into your store and spend money is always a good idea. This service would come in especially handy when you're traveling. The key is for McDonalds to make it a standard service throughout their entire franchise. That may prove to be a bit difficult to pull off.
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It was nice knowing you SCO
I know it's already old news, but SCO/Caldera/Whatever they call themselves today is a goner. Not only have they succeeded in ticking off IBM, but they are also ticking off the Open Source community as a whole, including Suse, who were one of the last real OS vendors remaining in SCO's UnitedLinux initiative.  Of course, all of this is just a last ditch effort by SCO to collect some money it needs to survive.  Sad but true.

Composed with Newz Crawler 1.4
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Monday, March 10, 2003

Back from Ohio
I had a whirlwind trip to Ohio. Flew in (from Chicago — can't beat Southwest's prices from there) at night to Cleveland and left Cleveland on Sunday at night. The flight was delayed on the way back to Chicago. I was about 1.5 hours late. I was so tired. I was up until 2 AM and then woke up at 8 AM Sunday. I was so tired I fell asleep in the airport waiting for the flight. I couldn't get comfortable though so it didn't help much. There's nothing quite like flying and then having to drive 2-2.5 hours to get home late at night. Needless to say, I'm tired now and don't really feel like posting much of anything today. I have a few things I'm working on right now that I wanted to jot down here, but that'll have to wait until tomorrow. I'm going to lay down now. Of course, I'll fall asleep and then wake up a few hours later unable to go to sleep until around 1-2 AM. You can't win!
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Friday, March 07, 2003

Would you kill bin Laden?
Stupid question, right? Follow me here. Let's say you're one of bin Laden's buddies hiding out with the head honcho. You hear that the US is hot on your trail and it's only a matter of time before you're all captured. Do you kill bin Laden and cremate the body so that no one knows for sure whether he died or not?

I believe bin Laden is more of a symbolic leader at this point in time. He can't really help plan more attacks because it would be too risky. The greatest power he has is staying alive as a symbol of al Qaeda's power — or just appear to be alive. We weren't sure whether bin Laden was dead or alive for quite sometime and that had just as much of an impact on most Americans' minds as knowing now that he is alive. Having your leader live on in a clout of mystery and legacy is more powerful than having him killed or captured by the US. You don't want humiliation to take place with bin Laden's public defeat. That would send the wrong message to al Qaeda.

What do you think? Would one of bin Laden's own men kill him and get rid of the body in order to enable bin Laden's legacy continue for years to come? It's a little out there, but I think it just may happen. Remember, terrorism is really about creating and maintaining high levels of fear.
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John Robb's summary of Bush's press conference
John Robb has done an excellent job summarizing Bush's press conference last night. He has the Bush's points in a nice outline format and gets right to the point. I know John doesn't necessarily agree with the US' handling of Iraq, but it's great to see him putting out information like this that everyone can benefit from, regardless of what your opinions are concerning the President's policies.
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Thursday, March 06, 2003

Dave Winer: Done with Google?
Dave Winer seems to be ticked at Google for becoming a competitor to his company, Userland in the weblog software space. I guess I can understand that on a certain level. But, it also seems like maybe Dave is a bit jealous when he speaks about Google and Blogger since news of their deal broke. I say maybe because there's no way I can know that for sure. I just sense some serious tension.

Is it possible that Google finally “got” weblogs and saw an opportunity to take the idea further by purchasing a weblog software/service that was already established in the market like Blogger? And who ever said that Google had to remain just a search engine? Google is constantly playing with new ideas, etc. that may or may not directly relate to their search technology. To say Google can't get into other market spaces would be like telling Userland they shouldn't have changed Frontier into a CMS focused tool and created a desktop app like Radio because Userland was in the business of selling a scripting language/software package.
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Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Groove gets another round of funding
If Ray Ozzie was not heading up Groove, would they still be around today? My guess is no. At least they have a product to sell. That's more than could be said for most of the companies who received funding during the late 90's. CNET
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Estrada nomination has failed
Lean Left points out that the Estrada nomination is likely to go down with Thursday's “cloture” vote. All this means is that the Democrats will then be forced to vote time and time again to reject Estrada and continue their filibuster.

If I'm the Democrats, I don't want this to be dragged out much longer. Miguel Estrada is originally from Honduras and you can be sure the Republicans will point out (during elections) that the Democrats refused to allow a Hispanic judge to serve on the Court of Appeals. This will become known as the “Trent Lott reverse” play in the political playbook.
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Yet another PHP weblog software project
Sterling Hughes mentioned on his weblog that he's working on a PHP powered weblog software project. I have to wonder why he wouldn't focus on contributing to the already feature rich Nucleus? Sterling's talents would be put to good use on a project like Nucleus.
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This just in: humans are really different from chimps
From Wired News: “Chimpanzees seem almost human, and scientists have maintained for decades that chimps are, in fact, 98.5 percent genetically identical to humans.

But the results of a new study call that figure into question, with a finding that there are actually large chunks of the human and chimp genomes that are vastly different.”

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The toy store of the future — ha! ha! ha!
One of the net's latest whipping boys,, has a review of a new book about the dot com days, Leaving Reality Behind: Etoy vs. and Other Battles to Control Cyberspace. I think I may have to get this one. There are so many stories from that short period we call the dot com era. I'm sure we'll be seeing many more books like this one for decades to come. The comedic value alone cannot be beat.
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What would Jesus eat? (WWJE)
No, I'm not kidding. Some genius has taken it upon himself to pimp Jesus just a bit more by expanding the “What would Jesus do?” (WWJD) movement to the kitchen. I'm a Christian and this type of stuff makes me wonder what on earth some people are smoking while reading their Bibles.

If you want to do a diet book/program, go for it! We all know we can eat better. But, don't go and use Jesus to sell your book. Speculating on what Jesus would do or eat is not even close to the point of Christianity. We know what we're called to do as Christians. Selling “cool merchandise” with God's name tattooed all over it so it sells to a particular market is not one of those things.
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Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Ah yes, the great company wide email
You know the emails I'm speaking. The ones where someone sends to everyone in the company information that is: A) only for a certain person to see B) filled with info no one really cares about and C) informative, yet stupid. Fury of the Cow! has option C:

We got an email from our building supervisor that it's getting freezing and wet out. So there might be ice when you go outside. So be careful.
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Monday, March 03, 2003

Seinfeld and religion
Tonight on Seinfeld:

Jerry: Booze is not a religion.

Elaine: Tell that to my father.
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Josh or Joshua?
The age old problem... Do people call me Josh or Joshua? I bring this up because my employer passed out new name tags (that no one wears) and this name tag has “Joshua” on it, while my old one had “Josh.” Everytime I start somewhere new people tend to choose their own favorite. So, now I have most people calling me Josh, but anyone that I haven't met before and stops by my desk will likely call me “Joshua” because that's where I hang my nametag.
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One for all advertising and marketing people to read
Gerry McGovern has a great article on Clikz concerning building a successful brand on the web. Believe it or not, many ad and marketing agencies still do not understand the relationship between branding and web sites. There are far too many marketing gurus out there who believe TV advertising and web sites are one in the same — you win people over with flash (pun intended) and style. Gerry points out my frustrations with many web sites and, more importantly, the mindsets of too many people in marketing.
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How you don't want to be remembered
Entertainment Weekly article on Sarah Michelle Gellar leaving “Buff the Vampire Slayer”: ...the young “Scooby-Doo” star...
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Another sign the war on terror must be failing
Democrats moan and whine about what they perceive as President Bush's lack of attention to busting up al Qaeda. Of course, this complaining forgets that we're able to do more than one thing at once. We are getting terrorists like crazy these days. The latest catch of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is a huge win. And guess what? We're not done. The work continues even as I type this.

The Democrats are frustrated that they don't have a foreign policy. When Clinton was in office he talked about what Bush is now doing — big difference there. Bush is focused on the nation's security, while Clinton often had our troops in places that served no threat to our nation. But, I will say this, I supported Clinton in regards to Kosovo. I supported him on that and I supported the fact that he didn't bother to get the UN's approval to act. Also notice Clinton didn't get UN approval to do a lot of the military moves the US made during Clinton's years in office. Where were the protestors then? Where were the Democrats whining about the lack of international support or the lack of debate? Hmmm...

Side note: Khalid isn't looking too good. I'm going to have to guess that the recruitment posters for al Qaeda will not be using Khalid's latest mug shot.
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Sunday, March 02, 2003

Java development: many choices — too many choices?
I'll touch on this in more depth later, but I wanted to get down some quick thoughts here on the plethora of options when it comes to Java development.

If you're looking to develop a web application with Java these days, then be prepared to weed through the endless supply of frameworks, object persistence, application servers, IDEs, JVMs, etc. Contrast this to Microsoft's .NET, which tends to give you a very narrow set of options. Yes, there are third party .NET products available, but developers in Microsoft shops tend to stay close to the mother ship. And, amazingly, Microsoft is just fine with that!

So, am I complaining about too many options when it comes to developing web applications with Java? Kind of. My biggest problem with web application development in Java is the fact that documentation is spread out all over the place. It's nice to be able to pick a framework, an object persistence layer, app server, etc. cafeteria style, but when it comes to putting those pieces together, documentation is often sparse. The chances of finding documentation that is thorough enough for your particular setup are slim. Worse, you may find that documentation for one or more pieces of your application is incomplete, making it all the harder to get up and running on your specific setup. For example, I like the Webwork application framework, but its documentation is lacking, especially compared to the more popular Struts framework. But, the rest of the documentation for my preferred setup could very well be sufficient.

If I was choosing to use .NET, I would have a cohesive development environment. My IDE, Visual Studio .NET, makes it easy for me to get off and running. Microsoft provides me with the complete package. The biggest downside to this setup is the fact that I'm totally dependent on one vendor to provide everything for me. When things don't work quite right or I would like to do things in a different manner, chances are pretty good that I'm stuck with what I've got. Even if I can find a third party solution, the chances of that solution being open are slim to none due to the Microsoft based development community tendency to keep things under tight control.

There is no easy answer here. In the end, I prefer the Java dilemma over the .NET one. If it takes me longer to get up and running, but in the end I'm left with a lot more options and freedom, then I'll suffer the upfront pain over being able to start development right away but left with little choice across the board. Of course, many companies are making the exact opposite decision. They would rather see immediate returns in exchange for vendor lock-in. In this tight economy, I can almost understand this line of thinking, but, when the economy turns around, this acceptance of vendor lock-in for short term gain will prove to be shortsighted.
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Saturday, March 01, 2003

Pickling the Python
I've been doing a little research into Python. More specifically, I've been looking into doing web applications with Python with the Webware Python application server. I was curious if Webware had a way to store objects in the HTTP session and or request. It does, but if you use MiddleKit, which is Webware's object relational mapping technology, MiddleKit objects can't be stored in the session or request (in other words, they can't be serialized) safely because they contain database connections. One thing that really threw me off was the constant use of the term “pickling.” I couldn't figure out what people were referring to exactly. I should have known the Python community couldn't use the term “seralize.” They had to be clever and use the term pickling.
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The Colonel