Archive for February 2007

In Outlook, Any Way to Use Rules / Folders to Choose Reply Account?

I have an email account on a customer’s Exchange server and I need to ensure that I reply using that account to email traveling over that server. I don’t want it to be my default account for normal email. Essentially, I want to say, “When replying to mail in Outlook Folder ‘foo’, use account ‘lobrien@foo.com’.” Is there a way to implement such a rule in Outlook or do I need to install VSTO and write some kind of Outlook extension?

Newsgator Online Has Stopped Working?

Huh… I use Newsgator Online because I have so many machines. I don’t know if I should hold this out as an example of the problem with browser-based applications, but suddenly Newsgator Online has stopped properly marking articles as read. The problem extends across both Firefox and IE7, so I don’t think it’s some errant extension in my browser.

Gee, that sucks.

Retail Security: Growth Industry

Via Dale Churchward, standing in for Harry Pierson, comes word that Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a bill to punish retailers for personal data leaks. Dale speculates “there may be some good jobs in retail IT data security.”

I think so. Of course, you should figure out what you love to do and figure out a way to get paid for doing it, but a good hobby for any self-employed person is trying to figure out non-glamorous retail industries that will have guaranteed growth. For instance, I live in a place that attracts retirees, little infrastructure, and has very high shipping costs — I know that a retail medical supply company that delivered would have ample business.

Similarly, the rise of IT data security as a business cost is a fait accompli. I have a friend who does security audits for a major consulting firm and he’s living large. Starting a business to do it on a smaller scale makes a lot of sense. I would imagine that it’s a significant amount of upfront work and then you get a long-term maintenance contract, which is nice for a business, since I would think there’s a significant amount of lock-in associated with that initial audit.

CG Portrait — Not So Uncanny

Via Bill de h?ra comes this CG image. I don’t follow the CG scene so I don’t know how this compares to the best work of others, but I wouldn’t pause for a second if I saw an image like this in an ad. So if stills have crossed the “uncanny valley” could it be more than another decade for motion?

Ah hah! Ward Cunningham Explained!

Fran Allen’s Turing Award made me ponder future recipients. Most of the action in the software development world today rotates around business, not science. The Turing Award is supposed to honor technical contributions, not marketshare or business models. The problem with that is that “everything happened in the Golden Age (’64-’74), right?” Then I thought of an obvious candidate for a future Turing Award,someone who’s elegant programs and approaches have had a lasting and practical impact. Do you see?

Ward Cunningham is a time traveller from 1969!

Fran Allen Receives Turing Award: First Woman So Honored

The ACM honored Frances Allen with the Turing Award today. Allen started her career teaching FORTRAN to scientists in the late 50s, wrote a classic paper called Program Optimization in the mid-60s, and did major foundational work on optimizing transformations. She is the first woman to receive the Turing Award (Grace Hopper didn’t get a Turing Award?!?!?).

Visual Basic + Mono + LiveCD == Programming Console for Education?

Mono now has native support for Visual Basic. Linux already supports a “console” approach to your hardware: pop in a CD/DVD and boot into a specialized environment. While I think general-purpose computers are more appropriate for intermediate-and-better users, the console approach is very appealing when it comes to training beginners-to-intermediate in complex fields. For instance, I would love to have a “statistics machine,” that gave me access to a suite of appropriate tools for my every-few-years need to do something more sophisticated than calculate a standard deviation. (In the meantime, I have Mathematica, which of course can do anything that’s asked of it, but the point is that I have to essentially re-learn my own beginner-intermediate understanding of statistics, which is not facilitated by simply having a powerful tool.)

I could imagine a LiveCD that surfaced environments for … (snip an ever-growing list of arguably appropriate languages) … whatever languages you felt were necessary for a programming curriculum. Of course, VB’s great advantage has been that it is both accessible and professionally used. Today, it would be hard to make the argument that Ruby, JavaScript, or PHP don’t fit that philosophy better.

Lisp machines are fondly remembered by some. The only Mac I’ve ever owned was a “IIFX” that, for me, was essentially a Smalltalk console.

Perhaps I’m Wrong About Multitouch

A few commentors have taken me to task for drooling over the “multitouch” UI demo. My gut reaction is two-fold: I want a huge display (covering 150 degrees or so, with high-density pixels, of course) and I want direct manipulation. Although I’m pretty sure I’m right about the former, I could very well be wrong about the latter. A cautionary tale:

From about a year before it was publicly announced until recently, I have spent a good deal of time programming the Tablet PC. I did this primarily because I was a huge enthusiast for pen-based UIs. However, when you use a Tablet PC regularly and, especially, if you try to integrate pen-based components with regular UI elements, what you learn is that UIs have co-evolved with the keyboard and mouse. There’s an old UI canard that “everyone agrees that mice are faster than keyboards: except the stopwatch.” Similarly, I adore writing longhand with a pen, but it is unworkably slow as an input method and there is no word-processing software that is pen-specific. Not even OneNote works as an actual pen-based word-processor and while I admire the technical achievement of InkGestures, it doesn’t make longhanding into Word appropriate.

More subtlely, virtually everything about the modern UI — clicking, the size of icons, rectangular movements “through” menus, etc. — work better with mice and the movements that come naturally from the wrist. Pens have more precision from the fingertips and use more of the arm and, of course, I don’t think there’s anyone who can actually draw better with a mouse than with a pen. But I know from experience that a pen is not nearly as transformative within Photoshop as you’d think — again, the workflow is co-evolved with keyboard and mouse.

All of which is to say that I have a history of being mistaken about the long-term effectiveness of touch-based UIs.

Perceptive Pixels Multitouch: Pretty Much The Precrime Interface from Minority Report

This is a much more impressive video than the one from (Siggraph?) last year. The UI that Tom Cruise’s character uses in Minority Report blew me away and this video, which demonstrates “multitouch” on a big screen (rear projection, I imagine), is amazingly similar. Of course, what they’re showing may not be a universally usable metaphor for users, but to me, this is like Engelbart demoing the mouse.

CodeGear Unveils Delphi for PHP, Delphi 2007 for Win32/Vista/Ajax

CodeGear has unveiled the first of their new development environments since their not-quite-spin-off from Borland. First is Delphi 2007 for Win32, which actually supports Vista Aero development and Ajax (as well as Win32 development). Second is their first new language in years — Delphi for PHP. No one from CodeGear saw fit to include me in the beta of these products (cough cough), but word from my spies is that Delphi for PHP, in particular, looks like a killer product.

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