IBM makes metamaterials

This sounds important. Humans now have the ability to make materials with properties never before seen in the universe. That’s a big deal.

You can get semi-conducting behavior out of natural substances (search for “crystal radio” and “razor blade” for an example). But you’ be hard pressed to find anything on the planet outside of an IBM lab that can switch optical energy using magnetic fields.

Always a bit behind the curve, I’m finally understanding why nanotech is a big deal.

Back from vacation

I’m back from a really cool 2 week vacation sailing in Croatia. I’ll be filling in weblog postings for the days of vacation in a bit. For now, let me just say it was wonderful, and I’d recommend Croatia to anyone!

Great band names

Sometimes I come across a saying and I think, “that would make a good band name”.

Tonight, which watching Insomniac, there was a steel mill on. In the furnace control room, there was a dial labeled megawatts. Megawatts! I immediately realized I just HAD to have one for a coworker. So I searched on ebay, and on Google. Nothing came up. Perhaps it was the search terms I used. I tried different things until I ended up with the search terms “megawatt gauge”.

And then it hit me: Megawatt Gauge would be a great band name.

Another one…

A while ago, Ray invited me to a party. It was supposed ot be a BBQ, but it turned out that Ray’s new BBQ didn’t have propane. So someone went out in search of propane. They couldn’t get any on a Sunday, so they did the next best thing, bring a full propane tank from their house. The problem was, the fittings you use to connect the tank and the BBQ were not the same size.

What we had was a case of “Incompatible Nipples”. Thus was born another great band name.

PS: I never did find a megawatt gauge, so if you find one, please send it to me.

Update (September 2008): Another great band name, “Derelict Butterships”, the result of speculations with a friend on how butter comes from New Zealand to England.

SCO Claim credible, according to incredible analyst

Seen in Information Week: “My impression is that [SCO’s claim] is credible,” says Laura DiDio, a Yankee Group analyst who was shown the evidence by SCO Group earlier this week.

Who is this chick?

Here’s her bio, from the ITF2003 speaker list.

Laura DiDio, Senior Analyst, The Yankee Group

Laura DiDio is a senior analyst for the Yankee Group’s Application Infrastructure & Software Platforms Planning Service, which is closely aligned with the Enterprise Computing & Networking Planning Service. In this capacity, Ms. DiDio focuses on desktop and server operating systems, with a particular emphasis on Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows XP, Active Directory, and Novell, Inc.’s NetWare. Additional areas of coverage are Web services platforms and standards including Microsoft’s emerging .NET services and the rival J2EE. She also covers the directory services arena and interoperability and migration issues associated with Active Directory, eDirectory, and Sun’s iPlanet, as well as desktop and server operating system security, software distribution, and third-party performance monitoring and management tools.

Ms. DiDio has covered client and server operating systems, directory services, and OS and NOS security for 15 years as an analyst, reporter, and editor. Prior to joining Yankee Group, she spent three and a half years at Giga Information Group, where she held a similar position. Before that she held various reporting positions at a number of computer networking industry trade publications including: Computerworld, Network World, Communications Week, LAN Times, and Digital Review. Ms. DiDio also worked as an investigative reporter for various broadcasting and print outlets including CNN and Channel 5 News in New York. Her investigative reports have also appeared in The Village Voice and The Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Laura DiDio holds a B.A. in Communications and a minor in French from Fordham University.

So, she’s a journalist who changed careers into an industry pundit. OK, I can accept that. Seems like a reasonable career change. But that does not make her a credible judge of the similarity of two bodies of Unix source code. I mean, as far as I can tell, she’s never written a line of code in her life. I think understanding code would be an important qualification to passing judgment on the similarity of two passages of code.

There are lots of sound-bites from her on the net, which is what you’d expect from someone in her line of work. I have not yet done a comprehensive review of them, but she seems to have the most expertise in Windows 2000 issues.

VMWare on Servers

Another interesting Joel note is about using VMWare on servers. When VMWare came out years ago, smart sysadmins I hung out with realized that it would be useful this way. But it hasn’t really taken off among folks I know.

At Tellme there are a couple reasons why we don’t use it. First, it doesn’t run on the Solaris x86 servers. Second, we are very price sensitive, since our business model calls for us to deliver a complex and potentially very expensive service via a large set of very cheap systems. So, when we consider a change that involves putting new commercial software on all those little machines, the costs can add up quickly and overwhelm the benefit. I haven’t done a specific investigation at Tellme, but my gut instinct is that it wouldn’t fly.

As for the platform support, it occurred to me while I was writing this that VMWare’s server side products could actually solve a problem we’ve been having. The problem is that new hardware comes out faster than Sun can add support for it in the Intel-compatible world. Windows and Linux seems to keep up somehow, but Sun keeps falling behind. So if we truly need Solaris x86 (I think we do, but the arguments for this are beyond the scope of this posting), then what are we to do as the hardware that Solaris x86 works on keeps getting end-of-lifed by the manufacturers?

If Solaris x86 can run inside a VMWare virtual server, then the answer could be to run VMWare on Linux on the random hardware that comes in the door from month to month, and put Solaris x86 on them inside VMWare.

Mozilla Firebird is ready to rock

Mozilla Firebird is almost ready to replace IE on my desktop. It is fast, and almost all of my habits from IE carry over. Joel’s review of it is what got me to try again. I’ve tried Mozilla several times in the past and just given up because it was such a pig.

I have two complaints. First, the middle-click and drag scrolling behavior of IE is not supported. Second, the Moveable Type entry body editing box does not have the useful little “make link” button, which I use a lot.

I suppose maybe the latter problem is because Moveable Type doesn’t know that Firebird is capable of the same tricks that IE is.

Update: This and this solved my problems! Thanks to Mike Goodspeed for the help. That’s great evangelizing at work!

Google can’t spell?

Google’s HTTP replies have headers like this in them:

Cneonction: Close

NnCoection: Close

The first one happens for responses with result code 200. The second one happens with responses of 403. (If you are asking yourself how I got Google to give me a 403, try with a user agent that does not include “Mozilla” in it. Weird.)

Google is too smart of a company to do this by mistake. But what crazy bug could they possibly be working around with this?

Any ideas?