26 June, 2006

Net Neutrality: More Controversy

The Net Neutrality bills are not fairing well in congress, but states are still pushing. Anne Broache published an article today, "State governments push for Net neutrality laws," that talks about the push by New York and California for the feds to adopt a net neutrality law. It is great to see states step up where the feds have failed us. I have been pretty worried that this would be one more thing that the average consumer was going to lose out on.

News.com seems to be following this rather closely, with a special website covering the issues, including some videos.

I found an opinion piece by Cory Doctorow, published in Information Week that does a good job telling how folks will lose out if there is no protection from the bandwidth providers. This is a great quote from Cory, " It's a dumb idea to put the plumbers who laid a pipe in charge of who gets to use it." And he concludes with, "This is the start of the network neutrality fight, not the end of it. Whether you're a geek, an entrepreneur, a wonk, or a mere user, there's a place for you in the trenches."

If you have not already, it is time to let your congressional representatives know how you feel about this, and how you expect them to vote if they want any chance of being re-elected. If you need help on how to go about doing this, go to http://www.savetheinternet.com/, and they can help.

07 June, 2006

Do You RSS?

I wonder how popular is RSS? Does the average person now know what RSS is? And if so, do they use it? I have been using Feedreader for some time now, and I like the preview of headlines that appear in the lower-right corner of my screen every hour. Occasionally, I even read the articles associated with the headlines.

I have had trouble matching up my interests -- finding feeds on topics of interest -- as well as making the time to read them. I find my self most often reading the headlines while I am waiting for another process on my machine, and therefore my computer is slow to respond to reach the details to read. I find that I tend to follow technical related topics more than other items, but I wonder if my adoption would be even higher if it was even closer to the work I do.

I hear surprisingly a lot that managers in my organization do not want to go to a website to get status on a project or to get data -- they want it fed to them via email or even worse, invite them to a meeting. Yet when I think about my own email box, the last thing I want is to add more messages, and of course I do not want another meeting if I can help it. So I was thinking that perhaps we could use RSS to notify managers and others of new reports available and new information on a project.

I also was thinking that it could be used on a support site tied to knowledgebase entries. If you had a different feed for each product, then you could get RSS updates each time a new support article is added or updated. Then you could even write an article to notify users of a newly released patch. And this leads me back to the adoption question -- how many people are using RSS?

Do you use RSS for your own edification? Does your organization use RSS? I would be curious to hear.

05 June, 2006

IE Causes Problems with Project 2003

On Friday I installed Microsoft Project Standard 2003, and the main view window was completely blank. I went through the menus and options, tried updating Windows and the Project Service Pack, and tried to repair and also re-install. Nothing helped. I called Microsoft -- they give you two free calls for their $600 package.

It took 20 minutes to get an agent (roughly 10 minutes of hold and 10 minutes for a Call Taker to start a trouble ticket). I spend another 35 minutes with a Project Specialist, and nothing he had me try worked. He promised to call me on Monday, and he did, but after another 20 minutes, he was stuck again. He promised to have a more senior person call by Tuesday.

During the two calls, I learned that through disabling the Display Project Guide feature, everything else works. I also learned that this feature requires Internet Explorer -- I wonder why that is? I mean apparently Microsoft has not learned their lesson about making applications dependant on IE. And further, if the Project Guide feature is not required to use Project, and yet it is dependant on IE, why set it on as a default?

After the last call, I was thinking, since I have had to adjust other security settings with IE to figure out how to solve various problems when running content locally that this may be just another case of IE requiring lower security settings for a local website... err local software now, Microsoft Project. I had already figured out how to enable the My Computer security task (inside IE: Internet Options | Security), since without a registry change you cannot get to these settings, so I opened the settings window and set it from High to Low. And would you know it, Project's Project Guide feature worked.

Now I am just baffled by Microsoft -- let's review the facts:
  • The develop a feature in a $600 software package that requires Internet Explorer
  • Your security to run local content through your browser (My Computer) must be set to Low for this feature to work
  • They set it to be on by default, and if your security is not set to Low, the software application is useless until you discover how to disable the feature
  • You cannot change your local content security unless you change the Registry manually
  • The poor Tech Support guy (who seemed to know a lot, and was friendly), does not have any information on this
  • Did I mention I paid $600 for this software?
  • How about that I do not as a practice use IE due to security issues, and when I must, prefere to have it set to High
  • The Tech Support guy had me remove my Google Toolbar and also had feared that it may not work if IE was not my primary browser
So, the next time you hear someone shy away from a Microsoft application, perhaps you will understand why.

03 June, 2006

New Battery for Your iPod

I have been using a 3G (3rd generation) iPod for some time that would not hold its charge. I was forced to always keep it plugged in and miss the advantages of listening where ever I wanted. Then in April I ran across an article that said there are replacement do-it-yourself batteries.

Sure enough, I found one at Fry's. [I just searched Google on "ipod replacement battery," and got over 5 million results.]

It was not easy, but I did successfully change the battery. The not-so-helpful instructions within the package were line drawings, so I went on a search for better instructions. Most of what I found was not any better. Take for example the instructions from ipodbattery.com. They have a much better visual representation than my original instructions, but they never really help you understand how to remove the case and just how hard it is.

I eventually found eshop.macsales.com, and they provided a video -- once I learned how to navigate to the right video. In their example, opening the case as not as easy as shown (I think the same iPod must have been opened several times), but I eventually got it.

So, if you have an older iPod that does not hold its charge any more, try a new battery -- just prepare yourself with the struggle of opening the iPod case.