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2010 Apr 23 - Fri

Common Representation of IPv6 Address Text Representation

Most everyone knows how to write an IPv4 ip address, and is easy and simple to understand.

As the world migrates to a new internet addressing system, which is known as IPv6, writing out the address becomes difficult. The difficulty is that there are multiple ways of writing an IPv6 address. As a consequence, when people need to perform text searches, no matches may result because the way in which it was searched doesn't match the way in which it was written.

A new document has been authored entitled A Recommendation for IPv6 Address Text Representation which helps to standardize the process of writing an IPv6 address.

In a nutshell, the recommendation is:

  • Leading zeros MUST be suppressed. For example 2001:0db8::0001 is not acceptable and must be represented as 2001:db8::1. A single 16 bit 0000 field MUST be represented as 0.
  • The use of symbol "::" MUST be used to its maximum capability. For example, 2001:db8::0:1 is not acceptable, because the symbol "::" could have been used to produce a shorter representation 2001:db8::1.
  • The symbol "::" MUST NOT be used to shorten just one 16 bit 0 field. For example, the representation 2001:db8:0:1:1:1:1:1 is correct, but 2001:db8::1:1:1:1:1 is not correct.
  • When there is an alternative choice in the placement of a "::", the longest run of consecutive 16 bit 0 fields MUST be shortened (i.e. the sequence with three consecutive zero fields is shortened in 2001: 0:0:1:0:0:0:1). When the length of the consecutive 16 bit 0 fields are equal (i.e. 2001:db8:0:0:1:0:0:1), the first sequence of zero bits MUST be shortened. For example 2001:db8::1:0:0:1 is correct representation.
  • The characters "a", "b", "c", "d", "e", "f" in an IPv6 address MUST be represented in lower case.
  • When writing port numbers with an IPv6 address, the [] style as expressed in [RFC3986] SHOULD be employed, and is the default unless otherwise specified -- [2001:db8::1]:80

[/Personal/Technology] permanent link


2009 Oct 26 - Mon

Bottom Line on Security in Windows 7, and Some Thoughts on MultiTouch

From SANS NewsBites vol. 11 Num. 84, 2009-10-23, NewsBites editorial board member John Pescatore says:

From a security perspective, Windows 7 offers definite improvements over Windows XP, but there is no major security reason to move to Windows 7 before it makes business sense. The biggest improvement in Windows desktop security comes from getting off of the IE6 browser and moving to IE8 or the latest version of Firefox - and you don't need Windows 7 to do that.

I've read that Windows 7 is somewhat faster but is better than Windows Vista. I havn't seen definitive reviews that Windows 7 is faster than Windows XP, or offers anything useful over and above what Windows XP offers as a development or user platform.

Well actually, I understand that Windows 7 has a multi-touch API built-in for when multi-touch devices become more ubiquitous. 10/GUI is one such interesting multi-touch method of CHI (Computer Human Interaction).

reacTIVision is an existing tangible multi-touch interaction framework. I've always thought that using a multi-touch interface with a DMX controlled lighting system would make for some very intersting busking capabilities for live concerts.

Anyway back to Windows 7, the EE Times Newsletter roving editor Rick Merritt asserts:

That all Microsoft has done with Windows 7 is not mess it up. "Imagine the response systems makers might have if Microsoft had actually enabled some cool new ideas," Merritt writes. "Call me a curmudgeon, but I think Microsoft is resting on its monopolistic backside." What was needed from Microsoft, of course, was an OS that advanced the state of the art. This is not the time for tech companies to play it safe, especially a company with pockets as deep as Microsoft's.

On the other hand, if I took the time out to evaluate real life workflows in the new Windows 7 environment, and the execution time differentials was minimal, I'd migrate just to stay with the latest thing. Some of the workflows I'd have to check would be:

  • Editing video with Adobe Premiere Pro CS4: lots of drive activity and lots of multimedia interaction
  • Compiling heavily templated Boost supported C++ programs in Visual Studio: lots of CPU and some drive activity
  • Compiling heavily templated Boost supported C++ programs in a an KDE/Eclipse/GCC environment hosted in a VMWare Workstation environment: lots of cross operating system calls
  • Running trading and news gathering applications with intensive cross thread messaging: cpu and network intensive

Can anyone offer up opinions on what they've encountered between Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 in these various workflow environments from a speed/stability/effectiveness point of view?

Shortly after having written this, I saw an article published at Ars Technica which had a rather lengthy review regarding XP, Vista, and Windows 7 entitled Hasta la Vista, baby: Ars reviews Windows 7. Buried further back in the article makes reference to the fact that performance isn't much different among the three. The article does mention multi-touch, and indicates that it isn't very well integrated into the supplied applications.

Once I get some time, it looks like an upgrade to Windows 7 might be worth examining.

[/Personal/Technology] permanent link


2009 Sep 29 - Tue

VMWare Unity

In the latest release of VMWare Workstation, it has a new feature called Unity Mode. It is useable with Linux and Windows 2000 and later guest operating systems. Unity Mode happens when clicking a button in VMWare to "display applications directly on the host desktop".

The help file goes on to say:

The virtual machine console view is hidden, and you can minimize the Workstation window.

You can use keyboard shortcuts to copy, cut, and paste text between applications on your host machine and virtual machine applications displayed in Unity mode. You can also drag and drop and copy and paste files between host and guest.

The Ctrl+Shift+V key combination will pop up the virtual machine's Start or Applications Menu.

[/Personal/Technology] permanent link


2009 Aug 29 - Sat

Virtually Wondering the Earth

I saw a video once of how collections of pictures can be data mined to produce composite interactions which are more than the sum of the parts. For example, it is said that there are more than 80,000 images of the Notre Dame Cathedral in the Flickr database. By using Scene Reconstruction and Visualization from Community Photo Collections, one can see more detail than any one of the photographers who took pictures when actually being on site.

That research is only a minor portion of what can be found at Microsoft Research.

[/Personal/Technology] permanent link


2008 May 05 - Mon

Reducing Traffic on High Cost Inter-ISP Links

AquaLab has released an open source plugin for BitTorrent clients, specifically Azureus. AquaLab's Ono Plugin's "main goal of this plugin is simple -- to improve download speeds for your BitTorrent client. "

Here is a press release summary I came across from ACM TechNews:

Northwestern University researchers have developed Ono, software that eases the strain that peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing services place on Internet service providers (ISPs). Ono allows users to efficiently identify nearby P2P users and requires no cooperation or trust between ISPs and P2P users. Ono, the Hawaiian word for delicious, is open source and does not require the deployment of additional infrastructure. When ISPs configure their networks correctly, Ono can improve transfer speeds by as much as 207 percent on average, the researchers say. Ph.D. student David Choffnes, who developed Ono with professor Fabian E. Bustamante, says Ono relies on a clever trick based on observations of Internet companies to find nearby computers. Content-distribution networks (CDN), which offload data traffic from Web sites onto their proprietary networks, power some of the most popular Web sites in the world, enabling higher performance for Web clients by sending them to a server close to them. Using the key assumption that the two computers sent to the same CDN server are near to each other, Ono can identify P2P users close to each other.

This aids two types of communities:

  • Users: who can get faster downloads because P2P peers are closer and are therefore prone to fewer errors and dropouts.
  • Service Providers: traffic can be kept off high cost inter-ISP links. With traffic kept internal, cost savings on carrier links could be realized.

On the negative side though, last mile links get more saturation with higher traffic densities. If one is on a shared cable modem or a shared wireless access point, ironically this isn't the best thing that could happen.

[/Personal/Technology] permanent link


2008 May 03 - Sat

Multi Touch Screens

In a recent issue of Technology Review, there is an article regarding Open Source Multi Touch Displays.

The technology is based upon taking an acrylic sheet, and projecting video onto the back surface. Around the edges are some infrared light emitting diodes focussed to emit the light into the sheet. The light bounces around on the inside from suface to surface.

When someone touches the panel, the light path is interrupted. An infrared sensitive camera on the back side can then be used to distinguish the touch locations. Simple and effective touch technology.

If someone could marry Lightfactory's new virtual layout generator on a multitouch board, suddenly lighting design and control would take on a whole new dimension.

Perhaps even using the the multitouch capability on the dance floor would introduce a whole new level of dance lighting interaction.

[/Personal/Technology] permanent link


2008 Apr 26 - Sat

Latent Brain Power

In an article or two ago, I made a brief mention of MapServer in relation to throwing together a mixture of data types regarding Bermudian Visual Features.

I was thinking a little later on that this exercise becomes one of building a spatial/temporal complex of meanings. I then got to thinking about this visually. What if one could take a slider or a bounding box and zoom in on a part of the island, and then zoom around in time space. It would be interesting to see what the hot spots were, and what they were about. It would become what could be described as a space/time based Wikipedia for Bermuda, or any location for that matter. Information is one thing, but navigating it and relating it is another matter entirely.

Something like this would only be possible through the Collective Intelligence of users.

The article mentions that many many people have contributed many many hours to making wikipedia the huge compendieum that it is.

But the article goes on to say that there are still many many people out there who have more time on their hands than they know what to do with. Lots of people have hobbies, do public service, take care of families, etc. But how many more vegetate on the couch in front of the 'one eyed monster' known as the TV?

This reminds me of the fact that there must be millions of computers out there sitting idle, wasting energy, waiting for something to do. Instead of illigimately using these free cycles to spew forth harmful spam, what if we could harness them into catalogueing, or storage, or analysis, or ...

Seagate just sold its billionth hard drive. If we take a billion drives times a billion bytes each (probably a woefully inadequate estimate), that is a lot of data, and probably underutilized at that.

It is also said that we, as humans, utilize less than ten percent of our brain capacity. And if less than ten percent of the population is mentally active (doing something other than passively watching preprogrammed images pass through their retinas into the blackhole of vicarious experience), that represents lots of wasted capability for enhancing humanity.

Robert Heinlein, in one of his science fiction stories, suggested that if we took the top one percent of mankind and moved them off world to start new digs, what remained would be unable to take care of themselves in any organized fashion. Not that we are very good at it as it is.

Anyway, on a positive note, the article seems to think that things might be improving by saying:

Just as people "woke up" during the Industrial Revolution, society is now beginning to emerge from its sitcom-induced stupor to see its cognitive surplus as an asset rather than a crisis. As a result, people are turning to Web 2.0 technologies as an outlet for that brain-power surplus.

With appropriately designed interaction tools, we have a

reasonable hope for carving out enough of ... the collective goodwill of the citizens to create a resource you couldn't have imagined existing five years ago. This isn't the sort of thing that society grows out of. It is something that society grows into."

I'm liking what I am hearing.

[/Personal/Technology] permanent link


2008 Mar 25 - Tue

How Not To Form a Standard

Rob Weir has a blog called An Antic Disposition where he discusses The Disharmony of OOXML. The eloquent center piece of his article is a table representing how various applications represent a smiple text string with one word in red, represented here verbatim:

FormatText ColorText Alignment
OOXML Text<w:color w:val="FF0000"/><w:jc w:val="right"/>
OOXML Sheet<color rgb="FFFF0000"/><alignment horizontal="right"/>
OOXML Presentation<a:srgbClr val="FF0000"/><a:pPr algn="r"/>
ODF Text<style:text-properties fo:color="#FF0000"/><style:paragraph-properties fo:text-align="end" />
ODF Sheet<style:text-properties fo:color="#FF0000"/><style:paragraph-properties fo:text-align="end"/>
ODF Presentation<style:text-properties fo:color="#FF0000"/><style:paragraph-properties fo:text-align="end"/>

Some wag once mentioned that a standard is nice, you have so many from which to choose. The standards writers for OOXML must have had this in mind when they allowed the diversity of Text Coloration and Alignment into the standard. Oh, wait. The applications were written first, then some general bucket was designed to hold the output these applications produced.

As the writer says, it would have been nice to create a 'single standard' and then retrofit the application's output to conform to the file format. If an application needs to store it differently internally, so be it, but conform to some level of operability in the file format. Hmmm, can each application read each other's handiwork? If not, what good is a standard?

The article indicates that once ODF was established, Open Office changed to match the standard. And from the table above, we can see all the tools within Open Office conform, with the result of twin goals of true universality of information interchange and simplicity of software design have been reached.

That would be a high standard for OOXML to achieve.

[/Personal/Technology] permanent link


2008 Mar 21 - Fri

The ODF - OOXML Three Ring Circus

I've been following along with the standards-wannabe known as OOXML. Microsoft's want this proprietary standard so much, you can feel the flames of hell leaping higher. Ok, so my visual metaphors are getting out of hand. I recently did lighting for a sketch for BMDS's production of GUMS, which in itself is a series of comedic sketches. Anyway, the sketch of which I'm speaking is where the Devil, played by Steve Watts, delivers a monologue about recent arrivals in Hell. For example, the atheists are called a bunch of nitwits, the Christians are scoffed at due to the Jews being right. Very few groups were left out. And I must say, my 'fires of hell' lighting worked out quite well.

In reading various blogs and articles regarding Microsoft's process of stacking the National Standards Bodies with Microsoft's influence peddlers and lackeys brings forth strongly the image of "selling one's soul for something one believes in". But corporate greed and monopolostic habits die hard. Even bending to the level of personal slurs, with this not being the first documented one.

The Standards Blog sprouts forth a bright flower from the sewage of vitriol currently being spouted regarding incomplete standards, lockins, patent protection, and selfishness. He has exerpted comments from South African Minister of Public Service and Administration Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi. I'll reprint them here as representing a voice calling out from the desert:

...This past year has been marked by a raising in the tension between the traditional incumbent monopoly software players and the rising champions of the Free Software movement in Africa. The flashpoints of conflict have been particularly marked around the development and adoption of open standards and growing concerns about software patents..

It is unfortunate that the leading vendor of office software, which enjoys considerable dominance in the market, chose not to participate and support ODF in its products, but rather to develop its own competing document standard which is now also awaiting judgement in the ISO process. If it is successful, it is difficult to see how consumers will benefit from these two overlapping ISO standards. I would like to appeal to vendors to listen to the demands of consumers as well as Free Software developers. Please work together to produce interoperable document standards. The proliferation of multiple standards in this space is confusing and costly..

An issue which poses a significant threat to the growth of an African software development sector (both Free Software and proprietary) is the recent pressure by certain multinational companies to file software patents in our national and regional patent offices. Whereas open standards and Free Software are intended to be inclusive and encourage fair competition, patents are exclusive and anti-competitive in their nature. Whereas there are some industries in which the temporary monopoly granted by a patent may be justified on the grounds of encouraging innovation, there is no reason to believe that society benefits from such monopolies being granted for computer program .inventions.. The continued growth in the quantity and quality of Free Software illustrates that such protection is not required to drive innovation in software. Indeed all of the current so-called developed countries built up their considerable software industries in the absence of patent protection for software. For those same countries to insist on patent protection for software now is simply to place protectionist barriers in front of new comers. As the economist, Ha-Joon Chang, observed: having reached the top of the pile themselves they now wish to kick away the ladder. African software developers have enough barriers to entry as it is, without the introduction of artificial restrictions on what programs they are and aren.t allowed to write. When Steven Biko wrote .I write what I like. he was not referring to computer programs but it would certainly be an apt motto for today.s generation of African Free Software developers. It will become increasingly important for FOSSFA to continue to lobby and mobilize to keep this intellectual space open.

One cannot be in Dakar without being painfully aware of the tragic history of the slave trade. For three hundred years, the Maison des Esclaves (Slave House) on Gorée Island, was a hub in the system of forceful transportation of Africans as slaves to the plantations of the West Indies and the southern states of America. Over the same period people were being brought as slaves from the Malay Archipelago and elsewhere to South Africa. The institution of slavery played such a fundamental role in the early development of our current global economy, that by the end of the 18th century, the slave trade was a dominant factor in the globalised system of trade of the day.

As we find ourselves today in this new era of the globalised Knowledge Economy there are lessons we can and must draw from that earlier era. That a crime against humanity of such monstrous proportions was justified by the need to uphold the property rights of slave owners and traders should certainly make us more than a little cautious about what should and should not be considered suitable for protection as property..

Her comments are far ranging, but for me being a software developer, being sued for creating a smiley face that has already been patented is not my idea of a good time... as an example.

We do need a reality check regarding patents on software. We do have good corporate citizens like IBM who build real products, and obtain real patents, and make real money. Yes, I know there is dirt under the carpet over there, but still, with over 100,000 employees, they must be doing something correct.

Here's hoping that Microsoft will somehow get its comeupance regarding bullying a 6000 page incomplete document through what was, at one point in time, a relatively decent standards process.

[/Personal/Technology] permanent link


2007 Oct 03 - Wed

Free Tools: CD ISO Create and Burning, Notepad++

CDBurnerXP is a great tool for assembling ISO's and burning them to CD. It isn't bloated like other pay-for stuff out there. This is a good, streamlined, free tool to ... burn CDs and DVDs.

Notepad++ is a is a free source code editor (and Notepad replacement), which supports several programming languages, running under the MS Windows environment. It has a very large feature set, with some being cold-folding, syntax highlighting, and macro-recording. It is a valuable Windows Notepad replacement, and is as fast or faster, and absolutely better.

[/Personal/Technology] permanent link


2007 Sep 24 - Mon

phoneAlarm for the PocketPC, and GPS Also

I believe the HTC Kaiser is now out and availble. It is getting good reviews as a good device that does have everything, including the kitchen sink. The only think I havn't heard yet is whether or not it has good battery life (for a device with more memory and more functionality, does it come with a power price?).

A reviewer at Pocket PC Thoughts mentioned a piece of software the may prove useful with the device, at least it did for him... something called PhoneAlarm by pocketMAx.

On the GPS side of things, the reviewer mentioned GPS products called Pharos Ostia and Delorme. These are add-on packages. The HTC does come bundled with TOm Tom Navigator, but maps are extra cost, which may be true with the other two mentioned items.

[/Personal/Technology] permanent link


2007 Sep 18 - Tue

DirectSound Error 88780078

Sometime towards the end of July, I installed Windows XP latest sound stuff (Windows Media, DirectSound, etc), version 10 I think. I had been putting it off for a while. I had heard about licensing issues, codec problems, and such. In a moment of weakness, I clicked the Windows Update button and installed it. What a pain.

WinAmp plays fine most of the time. At some point in time, when it isnt' playing, and I 'do something', I have no idea yet, and when I go back to playing WinAmp, I'll get a message like:

Bad DirectSound Driver. Please install proper drivers or select another device in configuration. Error code: 88780078

Most of the time, I reboot my computer, and things magically fix themselves.

Upon further searching for solutions, someone pointed out a possible simple fix for my problmem of the DirectSound 88780078 problem:

  • Right click on My Computer
  • Manage
  • Device Manager
  • go down to where the exclamation point is
  • Right click to Disable, then Enable it.

In this case, it solved my problem. Now I'd like to know how it breaks randomly in the first place. Some have said it has to do with VMWare. I do have VMWare workstation installed, but hasn't been running for a while.

Any suggestions?

I did come across Microsoft Knowledge Base article 29030. You can run a Windows Installer Cleanup Utility. It's first screen shows, ironically, "Welcome to the Windows Installer Clean Up Installation Wizard". When running the application after the installation, I don't see anything having to do with sound, so just cancelled out.

There are more interesting solutions at TechSpot.

[/Personal/Technology/AudioPhonics] permanent link



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