Author Archives: Vince Kimball

Be careful buying ebooks from Apress

I was just trying to purchase “Pro Open Source Mail: Building an Enterprise Mail Solution” as an ebook from Apress.  The price is quoted as $25 for the ebook but when I added it to my cart, I got a $34.99 charge.  I looked at another book quoted at $20 for the ebook but when I added it to my cart, I got a $27.99 charge.

Hopefully they’ll fix the problem soon.

Update: I was told by Apress that the cart price was correct.  It was the price on the website that was wrong.

Google Gears: No 64-bit version?

I’m disappointed to learn that “there are no plans for an official 64-bit version” of Google Gears.  Makes it hard to use Google Gears with a 64-bit Linux.  It’d also be nice if Google bothered to mention this in the system requirements, rather than burying the limitation in a discussion group.

Update: apparently there are ways to run Google Gears on 64-bit Linux.  I’ll have to check it out.

Ubuntu 8.04 Questions

Upgrading to Ubuntu 8.04 has been less smooth than I’d like, but I do like the improvements in the new release.

The Canonical partner repository for Ubuntu 8.04 is empty, except for the Opera browser. Why have a repository that is not maintained? The vmware-server packages in the repository for Ubuntu 7.10 haven’t been kept up to date. Canonical claims that Vmware is their premier partner for virtualization and that Vmware Server is available from the partner repository, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  I know I can manually install the latest Vmware Server.

Canonical’s press release claims “Over 500 maintained and supported server packages, together with access to more than 20,000 additional components built for 8.04 LTS.” but there doesn’t seem to be any list of the server packages which are supported for five years.

Downloading the upgrade was a lot slower than previous updates.

I especially like the updates in Firefox 3 beta 5 and in the Evince document viewer.

Upgrading Ubuntu and Vmware

I’m looking for the best way to upgrade my Ubuntu 7.10 desktop with Vmware Server to the latest version.  I’ll try to update this post with what I find out and try.

I’m currently running the AMD64 flavor of Ubuntu 7.10 and Vmware Server 1.04 that I hand installed because there were no packages available when I upgraded to Ubuntu 7.10.

Update: Installing Vmware server 1.05 and the any-any-patch116 was pretty painless.

Update: I had to re-run the vmware-config routine after the update to the 2.6.24-17 kernel.

What Gordon Ramsay can teach software developers

In Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon Ramsay does make-overs on failing restaurants and turns them into respectable enterprises through a combination of cuisine guidance, managerial pruning, and loads of swearing when things fail to meet his standards.It’s a fantastic show that gives grim insight to the scary state of affairs of the chosen spots, but it also goes beyond the schadenfreude and saves these places from going out of business.

What makes Ramsay’s approach to restaurant revamping so interesting, though, is how applicable it feels to software design. The characteristics of a failing eatery ring remarkably similar to those of a poorly-run software product:

  • Everything to no one
  • Cook what you know
  • Passion for your environment

That’s just a small taste of the similarities. Ramsay has plenty of additional lessons to teach software creators about vision, simplicity, and executing on the basics beautifully. I highly recommend setting your DVR to pick up the American version of Kitchen Nightmares on Fox every Wednesday from 8pm. The original British ones from BBC are great as well. [via Signal v. Noise]

Describing GTD

In a few sentences I walked her through the core of GTD:

– Collect and download everything that’s got your attention, especially the stuff you’re holding on your mind.
– Decide the very very next action you need to take on any of those.
– Organize it into a few key buckets:

a list of your outcomes (Projects)
a list for the things you need to do (Next Actions)
a list of things other people owe you (Waiting For)
a list of the things you might like to get to (Someday/Maybe)

– Look at it all on some kind of regular basis to make sure it’s still current (Review)
– So that you can always trust you are making the best choices (Do)

from Kelly Forrister’s Simply GTD blog

1840s democracy

1840s democracy

150 years ago, we had pretty much settled on all of the protocols and conventions of the American democractic system. We had figured out the steps and rules of electing a president.

Before radio, before TV.
Before planes or cars.
Before computers or voting machines.
Before YouTube.

Since mass democracy is essentially an exercise in communication and marketing, the fact that this essential process is frozen in time is a problem.

Here’s a few why not questions:

  • Why not have six-hour long debates, and do them once a week on Cspan, with the highlights diced and sliced and put on any number of online or offline channels?
  • Why not use a chess clock style timing device so that each candidate can be free to answer a question for as long as she likes, but each candidate enters the debate with exactly the same amount of time to allocate?
  • Why not have the early state primary voters have the ability to vote for their four favorite candidates? It’ll reward consensus candidates that have a better chance of winning the election.
  • Or, with a small upgrade to voting machines, why not let voters rank all the candidates? It’s been shown to lead to better results.
  • Why not let us vote at ATM machines?
  • Why not run the final elections over the course of a week, announcing the balloting results at the end of each day? It would certainly increase turnout.
  • Why rely on geography as the primary mechanism for districts and electoral college votes? Our issues aren’t farm-based any more. Why not let me pick which ‘state’ I live in?

If I ran a party and wanted to increase my chances of getting elected, I’d figure out how to turn the primary process into something that was simultaneously more interesting and more likely to lead to large numbers of my party turning out to vote in the general election. Instead, it’s almost guaranteed to do the opposite.

The relevant lesson for you, even if you’re not an active citizen or if you live elsewhere? Is your organization just as stuck? Are there marketing dynamics that you’re not discussing, merely because there isn’t even a way to talk about them? [Seth’s Blog]