1/31/2006 03:04:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|Operating System Installation Ok, I have my machine ready to go.. er, well, as ready as it will ever be. This machine was previously known as a Win98/2000 lab machine, rocking out a 400mhz P3, 256MB of ramdom memory modules I stuffed in there, an aenemic 4.3GB hard drive, a 10/100 NIC (with BNC connector!) a 54x CD drive (seems like the best part of the machine) and a 4MB video card (woo!). It should be enough to handle web server duties, but since this machine is free and represents what most people probably have laying around (at least). I'll stick with it, even though I suspect it most likely is a little underpowered. CD ISO burned to disk, disk in drive, machine on. BIOS Had to change the machine to boot from CD before C. Not that I didn't have a touch of nostalgia seeing the Windows 2000 splash screen...or was that nausea? Install I chose to install the base installaton, since this isn't a workstation. Language > English, US. Keyboard: US While it's installing, time to go look into what needs to be done to turn this Linux server into a LAMP! Google to the rescue - found this forum posting by 'machiner' over at ubuntuforums.org entitled 'This may help newbies - Quick LAMP howto - Ubuntu'. It sounds like a pain, and is written for a previous version of Ubuntu. I'll read this while the machine finishes installing, and use it if the default installers in Ubuntu don't work. hostname > intranet erase hda1 (format hard drive and use default partitions) > yes > yes [waiting] D'oh! - drive failure! trying another 4.3GB drive with default Ubuntu install......OK OK, so while that finishes loading (on a good hard drive), I'll go looking for the Joomla Components and Modules that I want to use, in addition to the defaults that come with Joomla. It's not hard to find these via google or the Joomla Developer SourceForge, and most of them are released under the GPL. Summary Time spent in article: 60 (ouch!) Time spent on project: 505 Goals accomplished:
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|W|P|114314791006096968|W|P|Rapid Web Prototyping with Open Source: Part 4|W|P|1/30/2006 03:05:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|The Content Management System / Website core OK, so while the Ubuntu CD is still downloading (using my open-source Firefox browser, of course), I need to find an open-source Content Management System (CMS) that has a frontend, an administrative backend, and enough community support and add-on modules that I'll be able to do everything I want to do. There are a lot of these out there, and a lot of great sites to demo a lot of these CMSs. I'm going to choose Joomla, since I've used Mambo before, and I know there's literally thousands of modules that plug in to Mambo/Joomla. What's up with the name? Joomla used to be called Mambo, and there was some debate or something that Mambo wasn't always going to be 100% open-source, so all the developers left and made their own CMS called Joomla. Joomla 1.0 was basically exactly the same as Mambo 4.5.2, but with a few extras that had been in development before the split. What the... not a good sign here... the Joomla website is having some problems. Seems like a bad omen. We'll find out, no turning back now... I managed to find a copy of Joomla 1.0.7 on Softpedia's website, downloading the 2.4MB file now... ISO Imaging I just realized that I have no way of getting my Ubuntu Install CD onto an actual CD. Right now I am 17% away from having it downloaded! Luckily, I've used a program before for Windows XP called ISO Recorder, and it's free. Whew! A quick download, and I'm ready to burn that CD...when it gets done downloading. Summary Time spent in this article: 15 minutes Time remaining for project: 565 minutes Goals accomplished: |W|P|114314796393168047|W|P|Rapid Web Prototyping with Open Source: Part 3|W|P|1/27/2006 03:06:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|Internal IP's and External Subdomains OK, so before I do anything, I need a machine to build on. It needs to be in the DMZ, so both external and internal computers can find it. That means assigning it a static IP address, which I can look into while the OS is loading. I make the computer name 'intranet', and people who are in my xyzdomain.org network will be able to hit the server in their web browser at intranet.xyzdomain.org. For people outside my organization, I need to register a domain name so that when someone surfs to extranet.xyzdomain.org, it will hit port 80 on my org's firewall, and get forwarded to the web server internally. Luckily, we already have a domain name, so registering the 'extranet' subdomain to point to the firewall (along with the default 'www' subdomain) is a simple matter. I'll do all of the registration work while I load the OS on the machine. The Operating System My time is short, so I need something that comes ready as a web server out of the box. Since I need all open-source web management components, it's almost a no-brainer to go for a LAMP server, that is, Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP. Just need to find a Linux Distribution that comes with LAMP pre-installed. Since that narrows it down to a few hundred distributions, I'll go with one I've used before: Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a great Linux distribution to start using as a workstation, we'll see how well it does as a web server. It's ease of LAMP-component installation is mostly what I'm interested in. While downloading the Ubuntu x86 Install CD (617MB!), I'll register the external subdomain and prep one of the computers I have lying around with the newest used power supply, max memory and newest used hard drives I have. After that, I'll look far a baseline Content Management system that will form the core framework of my website. Summary Time Spent in this article: 20 minutes Time remaining for project: 580 minutes Goals accomplished in this article:
  • Prepared for external and internal access to future machine
  • Found solution for OS, Web Server and Web Application support
  • Readied machine for implementation
|W|P|114314800952595132|W|P|Rapid Web Prototyping with Open Source: Part 2|W|P|1/26/2006 03:07:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|The concept of Rapid Prototyping in manufacturing is fairly simple: get an idea and bang it out to see if it fits your application. In the same sense, for someone as myself who has to be a jack of many trades (NetAdmin, TechSupport, WebDesign, HelpDesk, etc.), I don't have a lot of time to develop anything substantial as far as web applications are concerned. The bad part, though, is that I see an enormous potential for web applications at my organization. Some of this potential I see comes from the fact that I'm always looking to bring the best tools to the job, and enjoy using communications tools to utilize my organization's strong points. I also end up finding great tools while searching for others. Even if you don't have a need for a web application or multiple applications in your organization, just the process of seeing what's out there may just get the wheels turning to something that is really out of this world! In the next few postings, I will be commenting as I build an Extranet/Intranet system for my organization. Here will be the requirements for this project, possibly subject to review as I go along. I recommend these criteria for anyone interested in rapid web development:
  • All portions of the Extranet/Intranet must be as close as possible to the organization's current business model. Additional tools that fit the organization's business model, but are not currently used, are encouraged
  • All portions of the Extranet/Intranet must be at a usability level equal to the least-qualified of its users
  • All software/web applicaions used in the development of the project must be either Open Source, in an established Open Format or 100% free to anyone who would like to use it. This includes everything from the Operating System on the server to database management to web content services to FTP tools, etc. This is done to keep material costs as low as possible.
  • All portions of the Extranet/Intranet must support Single Sign-On (SSO)
  • The maximum development time on this project will be no more than 2 weeks (10 business days) and for no more than 60 minutes per day (a maximum of 600 minutes, or 10 hours total development time). The Extranet/Intranet project must be in the production environment with the users trained on how to use it at the end of the time limit. (With the $30/hour I usually charge people for web development on my own time, this puts the entire solution cost at $450 + material costs)
Seems a little crazy now that I look at it. Oh, and one final thing: I'm going to be doing this for real. I manage a small school district with 3 campuses on a WAN. This will be a production-grade Extranet/Intranet for an educational environment. Unfortunately for me, the rules listed above were for a corporate Extranet/Intranet, but that just covers my office staff. I'll have to account for teachers, parents and students. Might run out of time before I can customize anything. Let's find out... |W|P|114314805656338512|W|P|Rapid Web Prototyping with Open Source: Part 1|W|P|1/25/2006 03:07:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|In this podcast, there is a great discussion of the future of multimedia recordings, it's really worth a listen, and has some good ideas: IT Conversations: Jamais Cascio - Personal Memory Assistants One thing that really struck me was the potential for a "PMA" device to be an anti-corruption device. I thought I'd hash out a quick plan for one:
  • A waterproof enclosure like an iPod mini, but a smaller LCD can be substituted for our purposes.
  • With the smaller LCD, an embedded 802.11n (once it comes out) antenna could be installed in the device, to provide near-constant (theoretical) 540 Mbit/s wireless access.
  • A mic-in jack, for a lapel-microphone.
  • A fuel cell battery, not unlike the ones currently in development for mobile phones.
  • A one-inch 20GB Hitachi microdrive, the same size as the iPod mini.
Basically, the idea would be to have this voice recorder running embedded Linux. The device could be set to turn on when the user was 'on the clock', and turn off when they weren't. Audio would be recorded to the device, and would be sent via encrypted VPN over the 802.11n network at regular intervals, say, in 5-minute 'chunks' Of course, the device would have to be able to transmit using only government-approved VPN encryption standards, and there would be a secure installation on the other side of the VPN connection that would be storing these transcripts. This solution might also be good for people who want to cover themselves if they are in high-liability situations, such as celebrities, lawyers, etc. In addition, with the added ability to triangulate on the device via 802.11n, (methods already exist for tracing it's geographical location any time it is online) this device could be used to ensure probation, house arrest, and other law enforcement. The signals could also be tagged with the geographic location when they are sent at the 5-minute intervals, so that the audio could be searchable by location. (You could call up all of your activity when you were at "XYZ corporation's" main office, for example) The hard drive space also opens the device up for video capturing also, which could be helpful to surgeons, etc. Depending on the video transmission rate, a Bluetooth-enabled earpiece with video and audio inputs could be made. This brings a host of other problems, however, as the signals would have to be sent encrypted via Bluetooth to the base unit, and powering audio, video and encryption in a small device could prove challenging. However, this would open up a world of possibility! With a video-compliant version of Riya (for example), you would be able to search on "Grandma", and replay every moment you shared with her, without having to manually go back and tag the video. Or possibly search for "XYZ Contract", and replay that verbal contract that you now need evidence of... The device should probably be accessible via a Mini-B USB 2.0 or preferably a 9-pin FireWire 800 for firmware upgrades and programming. It should be stressed, however, that the ability to lock out the user from tampering should be preserved to enable the device to be able to perform as an 'honesty check' when used with felons or government employees. Any other earth-changing ideas? Let's hear them! |W|P|114314810782656000|W|P|Corrupt Politicians: Little Brother is watching you|W|P|1/24/2006 03:08:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|This posting is part of a series from a speech made in 1961 by then-president Eisenhower. It accurately warns the citizens of the Untied States of the times to come, the time when the military and sociological agenda of the Untied States would be dictated by military industry. At the time, this was corporate America. In modern times, this speech rings painfully true as an unheeded warning to the level of control corporate America now holds on our country. I post this speech not as a criticism of our current government, but as a criticism of the control it has allowed itself to fall under, and the losses, both physical and ideological, which we have suffered. -----
So -- in this my last good night to you as your President -- I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find some things worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future. You and I -- my fellow citizens -- need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation's great goals. To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's prayerful and continuing aspiration: We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.
|W|P|114314815927223582|W|P|Eisenhower warns of a corporate government: Part 7|W|P|1/23/2006 03:09:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|This posting is part of a series from a speech made in 1961 by then-president Eisenhower. It accurately warns the citizens of the Untied States of the times to come, the time when the military and sociological agenda of the Untied States would be dictated by military industry. At the time, this was corporate America. In modern times, this speech rings painfully true as an unheeded warning to the level of control corporate America now holds on our country. I post this speech not as a criticism of our current government, but as a criticism of the control it has allowed itself to fall under, and the losses, both physical and ideological, which we have suffered. -----
Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect. Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield. Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war -- as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years -- I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight. Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.
|W|P|114314820353601267|W|P|Eisenhower warns of a corporate government: Part 6|W|P|1/20/2006 03:10:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|This posting is part of a series from a speech made in 1961 by then-president Eisenhower. It accurately warns the citizens of the Untied States of the times to come, the time when the military and sociological agenda of the Untied States would be dictated by military industry. At the time, this was corporate America. In modern times, this speech rings painfully true as an unheeded warning to the level of control corporate America now holds on our country. I post this speech not as a criticism of our current government, but as a criticism of the control it has allowed itself to fall under, and the losses, both physical and ideological, which we have suffered. -----
Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.
|W|P|114314824673893546|W|P|Eisenhower warns of a corporate government: Part 5|W|P|1/19/2006 03:10:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|This posting is part of a series from a speech made in 1961 by then-president Eisenhower. It accurately warns the citizens of the Untied States of the times to come, the time when the military and sociological agenda of the Untied States would be dictated by military industry. At the time, this was corporate America. In modern times, this speech rings painfully true as an unheeded warning to the level of control corporate America now holds on our country. I post this speech not as a criticism of our current government, but as a criticism of the control it has allowed itself to fall under, and the losses, both physical and ideological, which we have suffered. ----- (emphasis mine)
A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction. Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea. Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations. This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades. In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government. Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite. It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system -- ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.
|W|P|114314828975233990|W|P|Eisenhower warns of a corporate government: Part 4|W|P|1/18/2006 03:11:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|This posting is part of a series from a speech made in 1961 by then-president Eisenhower. It accurately warns the citizens of the Untied States of the times to come, the time when the military and sociological agenda of the Untied States would be dictated by military industry. At the time, this was corporate America. In modern times, this speech rings painfully true as an unheeded warning to the level of control corporate America now holds on our country. I post this speech not as a criticism of our current government, but as a criticism of the control it has allowed itself to fall under, and the losses, both physical and ideological, which we have suffered. -----
Throughout America's adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad. Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology -- global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger is poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle -- with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment. Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel. But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs -- balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage -- balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration. The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat. But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.
|W|P|114314832792085657|W|P|Eisenhower warns of a corporate government: Part 3|W|P|1/17/2006 03:12:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|This posting is part of a series from a speech made in 1961 by then-president Eisenhower. It accurately warns the citizens of the Untied States of the times to come, the time when the military and sociological agenda of the Untied States would be dictated by military industry. At the time, this was corporate America. In modern times, this speech rings painfully true as an unheeded warning to the level of control corporate America now holds on our country. I post this speech not as a criticism of our current government, but as a criticism of the control it has allowed itself to fall under, and the losses, both physical and ideological, which we have suffered. -----
We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts America is today the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.
|W|P|114314837208527432|W|P|Eisenhower warns of a corporate government: Part 2|W|P|1/16/2006 03:13:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|This posting is part of a series from a speech made in 1961 by then-president Eisenhower. It accurately warns the citizens of the Untied States of the times to come, the time when the military and sociological agenda of the Untied States would be dictated by military industry. At the time, this was corporate America. In modern times, this speech rings painfully true as an unheeded warning to the level of control corporate America now holds on our country. I post this speech not as a criticism of our current government, but as a criticism of the control it has allowed itself to fall under, and the losses, both physical and ideological, which we have suffered. -----
My fellow Americans: Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor. This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen. Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all. Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the Nation. My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and, finally, to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years. In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the Nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.
|W|P|114314841989219869|W|P|Eisenhower warns of a corporate government: Part 1|W|P|1/13/2006 03:14:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|This posting is part of a series from a speech made in 1961 by then-president Eisenhower. It accurately warns the citizens of the Untied States of the times to come, the time when the military and sociological agenda of the Untied States would be dictated by military industry. At the time, this was corporate America. In modern times, this speech rings painfully true as an unheeded warning to the level of control corporate America now holds on our country. I have chosen to go back to this era, as it seems to be 'where it all went wrong' in modern America. You will never hear these types of warnings again, as it seems that corporate America has finally purchased its way to the top. In reality, it is my sincere hope that this speech inspires any readers of this blog to stand up for what is right, for what they believe in, and to refuse to let the power of money over-run your own sense of morality. The fears of President Eisenhower to date have been, and are currently being realized. When asking yourself what happened to the United States of the Moon missions, Norman Rockwell, apple pie, etc., consider this speech as it was in 1961: a warning of what was to come. I post this speech not as a criticism of our current government, but as a criticism of the control it has allowed itself to fall under, and the losses, both physical and ideological, which we have suffered.|W|P|114314847136646351|W|P|Eisenhower warns of a corporate government: Intro|W|P|1/12/2006 03:14:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|In writing my last post on email client satisfaction and dependence on users, I dedicated the 45-minute commute home to thinking about the nature of people's intelligence, whether technological and otherwise. No radio, etc. :-) I've thought up a basic roadmap, but need other's comments to fine-tune it. Here's what I came up with so far: Knowledge Otherwise known as 'book smarts' Being knowledgeable is something to can attain experience or study. Being knowledgeable seems to be useless without the intelligence to know what to do with all of that information, except for on Jeopardy. Intelligence Intelligence seems to be inherent in a person, though there seems to be ways to increase one's intelligence. Intelligence seems to be the ability to know what to do, even if you don't know how. Suprisingly, intelligence seems to have the ability to grow via the brains situational profiling. dependencies on each other It seems that knowledge is the useless storage of information without intelligence. Intelligence is the inability to accomplish recognizable goals without knowledge. Conclusion It seems that the ideal environment for making one's self more "intelligent", then, is to start with a basic library of knowledge to work with, and to be placed in enough situations where your mind becomes efficient in searching through that knowledge and coming up with the best solution to a given situation. Example There are two venture capitalist investors. The first has seven years of training, and seven years of practice. After 14 years, the first investor is able to recognize good investments in the area of his expertise, and to be successful. The second investor has 14 years of training, but no practice. Although the second investor is more knowledgeable about investing, he/she has a hard time applying that knowledge practically since he/she can't recognize what situation they are in. Something interesting happens as time goes on, however. At this point, the first investor is able to leverage 100% of their knowledge at year 14, and will continue to do so until year 21. The second investor can leverage 0% at year 14, and perhaps 100% at year 21. In short, the second investor could possible be twice as good as the first, but perhaps take 1/3 (133%) more time to get there. In this respect, it seems as if the second investor has an advantage. However, as we all know, the learning process doesn't stop at the end of the knowledge-gathering. The use of knowledge via intelligence opens up more opportunities for knowledge, and this continues in cycle. If we apply this principle to our example, the first investor is at 100% knowledge in year 7. As they approach year 14, they approach 100% intelligence, as they learn how to leverage that knowledge. Through years 7-14, however, this process opens them up to more knowledge-gaining opportunities, and they may, perhaps, be at 200% of their original knowledge, and since they were utilizing this knowledge along the way, at full efficiency. Therefore, the first investor would arrive at year 14 with the ability to make use of all 14 year's work of knowledge. This is in contrast to the second investor who arrives at year 14 at a much lower efficiency, as they are only able to utilize the intelligence naturally inherent, not learned. What does it all mean? It seems like this makes the case for not only a broad-spectrum, short-duration education (such as a 4-year liberal-arts, or 'something of everything' education) to facilitate multi-situational effectiveness. In addition, it also seems that the stockpiling of knowledge needs to be weighed against the cost of not using the majority of it, as that would have been time better spent a.) efficiently using the knowledge you have, and b.) opening opportunities for knowledge that is more relevant to current situations. Help me out here, and post your insights!|W|P|114314851837624914|W|P|The nature of human intelligence|W|P|1/11/2006 03:15:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|Ed Brill Got into a good discussion, wanted to post my comment on my own blog as well. On the topic of surveys of end user satisfaction with software products: Overall, I haven't put too much weight on these types of surveys. What I WOULD be interested in is a survey of end users who have used multiple email systems, and their preference. It seems like Notes would blow others out of the water, if the end users knew what they were missing. But often they don't. A perfect example of this is a sametime rollout I was involved in for a small company of about 400 users. No-one understood why we were rolling it out, they were satisfied with what they had. Two months later, we were averaging 10,000 sametime conversations per month, 80% of them business related. About 6 months later, we had a minor error with the server's hardware, and you'd better believe people missed it. I think of it like this - people using exchange or others are like workers with a shovel and a wheelbarrow. The tools allow them to do more work more quickly, and they are happy with what they have. Then you give them the dump truck and backhoe of Notes 6/6.5/7. Not only can they continue doing the same old thing, but they have the tools to accomplish much more. The only dependants are the user's desire to learn how to use their new tools effectively, and the 'drive factor'. By 'drive factor', I mean the choice the user has to make whether to continue putting forward the same amount of effort with the new tools and accomplish more, or accomplish the same goals with less effort. I think the latter happens a little too much, and this seems to me to be some of the source of the 'Notes is too complicated' argument. Not that I think the Notes UI is complicated, I think it is very intuitive. But I think the real argument some of these people are making is, 'Notes is too complicated...because I don't need such a capable tool to accomplish the lower goals I have set for myself'. For end users, this is a management problem, but it's not hard to see this attitude in management, developers, etc.|W|P|114314856408015194|W|P|Ed Brill and client satisfaction|W|P|1/10/2006 03:16:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|I love this thing. Here's some specs I found. The article is good too. (US conversions done by me) Motoring - Hybrid eCycle is fun and super-eConomical: Motor: Air-cooled two-stroke diesel twin. Capacity: 125cc. Power: 7.5kW. (10 hp) Induction: Parker Aerospace Macrospray injectors. Ignition: Compression. Starting: Electric. Transmission: 2-speed constant mesh with final drive by belt. Suspension: 48mm FAR inverted cartridge forks at front, Penske Racing hydraulic shock absorber at rear. Brakes: 298mm (11.73 inches) disc with four-pot opposed piston Grimeca calliper at front, 216mm (8.5 inches) disc with single-piston Grimeca calliper at rear. Tyres: Front: 110/70-17 tubeless. Rear: 130/70-17 tubeless. Wheelbase: 1321mm. (52 inches) Seat height: 762mm. (30 inches) Dry weight: 132kg. (291 pounds) |W|P|114314862282833594|W|P|More info on the Hybrid eCycle|W|P|1/09/2006 03:17:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|GprHome: Motor: Rare Earth Magnet Power: 15 Peak Horsepower Top Speed: 45 to 65 mph (adjustable) Range: 20 to 40 miles (adjustable) Brakes: Dual Hydraulic Disks Charge Time: 3.5 hours What's nice about this is that you can actually buy one of these, unlike the eCycle, from what I have found. The downside (?) is that it's entirely electric, so it's range is limited by who will let you plug in. However, with its range, it remains a viable solution for commuters or weekend fun, but probably wouldn't be too good on the interstate highways, with a max speed of 65 mph. Still, for a $7000 bike, not bad performance at all. |W|P|114314867213676584|W|P|The electric GPR|W|P|1/06/2006 03:18:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|Hybrid PR 5 25.pdf (application/pdf Object) Nice. The hybrid motorcycle. Not exactly the cargo room I need, but the 180 mpg sounds nice! Top speed of 80 mph and 0-60 in 6 seconds is also nice. Now they just need to put out an update on production, it's been 8 months or so since they put out the press release. |W|P|114314872856441607|W|P|Hybrid Motorcycle!|W|P|1/05/2006 03:19:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|Here is some advice when looking into some of the newer widescreen-format TV's... with excel sheet data, of course... (by the way, 16:9 (for example) is a type of measurement in how the sides of the screen relate to each other. 6 inches tall for every 9 inches wide. This is called aspect. So basically, throwing the marketing aside, I have a 30" Sony Wega. Here are the stats for that unit: 32-inch diagonal 4:3 aspect ratio 24 inches wide 18 inches tall 432 square inches (also 163 pounds. That doesn't have to do with anything, it's just fun to point out how ludicrous moving it around is...) So if I wanted the same amount of screen space (square inches) in a 16:9 TV, I would have to do the following: 31.8-inch diagonal 27.7 inches wide 15.6 inches tall 432 square inches So now that we're viewing the signal from Comcast in widescreen mode, I can see more of the signal being sent to me. In the past, where my TV would have been cutting off the sides of the signal to show it in 4:3, it now shows the entire signal being sent in its native 16:9. But wait! Something's wrong here. If I watch a DVD on both TV's, it's true that I get to see more of the picture with the widescreen (1.85 inches on either side). But because this is 16:9, my "32 inch" 16:9 TV displays people in the movie 2.4 inches shorter! In effect, a person on my 16:9 TV is the same size as on a "26 inch" 4:3 TV. I gained extra picture on the sides of the 16:9, but the actual size of what's being displayed gets smaller on a 16:9 if you compare the 16:9 and 4:3 "32 inch" TV's next to each other. Well that just won't do. I want to keep the same image size I'm used to, but just get the extra inches on the sides that I've been missing. In order to replace my 30" Sony and keep the same image size, but add the extra picture on the sides, I would have to look into a 16:9 TV with the following specs: 36.7 inch diagonal 32 inches wide 18 inches tall 576 square inches Whoa! A "36.7 inch" TV? Yep, if I wan to keep the picture I am used to, but get the benefit of the extra picture on the sides, that's what I'm looking at. And that's what you should be looking at if you're thinking of switching from a 4:3 TV to a 16:9. So what if you don't have a 30" TV? Well, the following chart should help you out: So what's the bottom line? Well, it just so happens to work out that no matter what size diagonal your 4:3 TV is, if you take the inches diagonal of the 4:3 (30", for example) and multiply it by 1.2238, the number you get will be the size diagonally that you will need in your 16:9 so that you have the same height screen as your 4:3. Here is the excel sheet to prove it! OLD 4:3 TV NEW 16:9 TV w h d w h d inches diag diff % diag difference 04.0 03.0 05 16.0 9.0 18.4 16.0 12.0 20 21.3 12.0 24.5 4.5 22.38373% 17.6 13.2 22 23.5 13.2 26.9 4.9 22.38373% 19.2 14.4 24 25.6 14.4 29.4 5.4 22.38373% 20.8 15.6 26 27.7 15.6 31.8 5.8 22.38373% 22.4 16.8 28 29.9 16.8 34.3 6.3 22.38373% 24.0 18.0 30 32.0 18.0 36.7 6.7 22.38373% 25.6 19.2 32 34.1 19.2 39.2 7.2 22.38373% 27.2 20.4 34 36.3 20.4 41.6 7.6 22.38373% 28.8 21.6 36 38.4 21.6 44.1 8.1 22.38373% 30.4 22.8 38 40.5 22.8 46.5 8.5 22.38373% 32.0 24.0 40 42.7 24.0 49.0 9.0 22.38373% 33.6 25.2 42 44.8 25.2 51.4 9.4 22.38373% 35.2 26.4 44 46.9 26.4 53.8 9.8 22.38373% 36.8 27.6 46 49.1 27.6 56.3 10.3 22.38373% 38.4 28.8 48 51.2 28.8 58.7 10.7 22.38373% 40.0 30.0 50 53.3 30.0 61.2 11.2 22.38373% |W|P|114314877302402550|W|P|Consider diagonal size when going to a widescreen TV|W|P|1/04/2006 03:19:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|If you're sick of high interest rates, or fearful of how the new laws designed to protect you from yourself will most likely bankrupt you, you're probably feeling pretty stressed, like I am. I don't like having credit card debt, but giving a good vacation to the wife/girlfriend, trying to not have a disappointing Christmas, or buying furniture for that new house usually forces most people to put some amount on the credit cards. Since the credit card companys want you to stay in debt, and have made an entire industry out of doing just that, it's difficult to get out from under that stress. I have an idea. Haven't tried it yet myself, but I wanted to open it to the blogosphere and get some feedback, because technically it makes sense... Debt (credit cards, loans, bills) is what you owe people, this is negative. Assets (a car you have paid off, stuff you can sell on eBay, money) are what you use to get rid of debt (anti-debt?), which is positive. Here's the interesting thing: The positives can have interest rates (stock market, savings account), but this interest rate is usually small, as in 3% or lower small. The negatives have larger interest rates, but the range is much larger, from 0% on a new car to 30%+ on a credit card. There's nothing we can do about the positive interest rates. We can get better real estate or invest in riskier stocks to try and get more in interest, but we'll never get to a 30%+ gain per year. So let's try to get rid of the high-percentage negative stuff. I've already talked about how to get credit card payments cut in half with one phone call, so let's say out bad interest is in the range of 0%-15%. An optomistic good interest range is in 5-10%/year, for stocks, real estate, etc. Yes, there are exceptions, but this is an example. Let's say we're gaining 10%/year on a $200K house, and 10%/year on $30K of investments. That means our money is making us about $23,000 per year. However, in the bad interest group, we have 13% on the $5000 of credit card bills, 8% on the $200K mortgage, and depreciation on the paid-off car, currently worth $10K. That means our stuff is costing us $22650. Overall, our investment gains are being eaten up by our debt interest, so here's the plan: make the debt's appetite smaller. Step 1: sell the car. It's going to need maybe a thousand over the next year to keep running properly, compared to a new car? It's worth 1/3 of what it was when you bought it? It has 60K miles on it? ditch it, we'll get another one in a bit. in the meantime, borrow a car if you can, or take public transit for the next month while we: step 2: use the car money to pay off the credit cards these cards are going to be the end of you. Pay off all the cards, but don't close the accounts. Just keep paying the $3 monthly fee to keep them open. Credit cards debt goes away, and (after a motnh or two) your credit score skyrockets (once your low balances are reported), which will come in handy next: step 3: refinance? now that you have a great credit score, see if you qualify for a lower interest rate on your mortgage. Even 1% can make a world of difference, in this case, about $2000/year. Take your mortgage savings (in this case, maybe about $165/month) and put it towards: step 4: get a used car Your old car was used, so you don't need a new one. besides, the chances are that you can go find a car exactly like yours with half the miles. The good part is that most of a car's depreciation is in the first few years, so a 2-year-old car will have depreciated to 50% of its original value, but will have only 30K miles, compared to your old car that had 60K miles and was worth 40% of what it was when you bought it. That difference of 10% value only adds up to $2000 on a $20K car, so don't worry about the cost difference. With your new high credit score, you can get a good car loan, which your mortgage savings help pay for. You can even use any extra money left over from paying off your credit cards to lower the cost of the car, and therefore, the monthly cost. While you're at it, collect some of that crap that yu haven't used in years and put it on eBay. After all, you're not using it, and it's not going to get more valuable just lying there in your moldy basement. Your budget for the new (used) car is this: if you are getting a 48-month loan, for example, the total cost of the car + total interest paid (minus savings on mortgage over this period of time)has to be lower than the total cost of paying off your credit cards in 48 months. If the car costs more per month than it would have cost per month to pay off the credit cards in 48 months, you have to find a cheaper car, otherwise there was no sense in doing all of this work, all you did was move your debt from credit cards to a car. (but you did raise your credit score, so a minor kudos to you) step 5: (optional) you may want to call it quits right here, but you may want to consider taking what you would have paid to pay off your credit cards over 48 months, and subtracting your step 4 cost (cost of used car over 48 months minus mortgage savings). If this number comes out positive, say, $150/month, that means all of this work has not only paid off your cards and gotten you a better credit score, but lessened your monthly debt. Feel free to put that money towards the house, or more likely, towards that investment fund you had that was making 10%/year. the end result: the good you have no (or lower) credit card debt you have a better credit score you have a lower mortgage payment you have a newer car with less miles, and possibly still under warranty you are putting more into your investment account the not-so-good you had to get rid of your car. get over it. your new car might have more problems than the last. make sure it has some kind of warranty for the next few years. you had to be without a car while you waited for your credit score to rise. yeah, that kinda sucked. you have car payments. yeah, before you didn't have car payments or credit card payments. That's because you weren't paying off your credit cards, which put you in this mess in the first place. So you tell me, car payments at maybe 5%, or credit card payments at 30%? If you've got any ideas or anything to add, please comment! |W|P|114314883132059476|W|P|How to pay off your credit cards and get paid to do it|W|P|1/03/2006 03:20:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|As you may have heard, the Feds are sick of credit card companies trying to keep people in debt. After all, that is how they make their money; by practically stealing yours with finance charges and much-higher-than-appropriate interest rates. Well, the credit card companies are now going to be forced to tell people how long it will take to pay off their cards. That will be a suprise to a lot of people, because credit card companies in the past have just charged what they call the 'minimum'. What the 'minimum' usually covers is just the interest for that month, and the finance charges, if any. This is meant to ensure that you remain a source of income for them, while supplying them with cash on a regular basis. In effect, you will never pay off your debt, you're just paying rent on it until you die. In addition to telling you how badly you're being taken for your money, the government is now requiring that credit card companies try to help their cardholders get out of debt. So now the credit card companies are going to be forced to charge you not only for this month's interest and finance charges, but also a percentage of the money you owe. The end result is that your monthly payments will go up, most likely between 1.5 to 2 ties what they are now. The good side is that you'll be forced to stop playing the credit card company's game...that is, if you don't go bankrupt first.|W|P|114314887089238001|W|P|New credit card laws: get out of debt...or bankrupt|W|P|1/02/2006 03:21:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|If you're like me, you've probably noticed that your credit cards charge you between 20-30% interest. This is crazy. What this means is that for a 30% interest rate (Capital One), for every $100 I have on the card, they charge me an annual $30, billed monthly. Over the course of a year, I could be paying $2.50 per month for every $100, just to pay the interest. That's $25/month per $1000! Since the average American has about $8500 in credit card debt, that means they will pay about $212.50/month just to stay even. That's $2550 per year! That's ridiculous, and as with all things ridiculous, it set me out on a quest. The first thing I did is call up the credit card company and say that I just got a great deal in the mail for another company's credit card (I didn't), and although I really liked being with them (I don't), I can't afford not to go with the new company's rate of 13%. A short conference call with a supervisor (probably just filing their nails), and they 'offered to match the other company's offer'. Deal. The average American's payments (just to stay even) just went to $92.08/month and $1105/year. 2 minutes on the phone and a little bluffing just bought $120.42/month, or $1445.04. The key here was picking a rate that didn't sound too ridiculous. I did some research online and found out that Capitol One operators are allowed to authorize rate reductions down to 13%, but any more than that takes special oversight. Since a manager would try to keep me at the same rate (read: "would know I'm bluffing"), I wanted to rely on the minimum-wage operator who is more likely to give me a break. It worked. |W|P|114314892282978275|W|P|How to lower your credit card interest rate|W|P|