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2006 » March MikeFitz with overflow bit set…

Archive for March, 2006

Andy’s back from France

Monday, March 27th, 2006

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I picked up AndyFitz from the airport this morning.  He’s just back from two weeks in France.

He was invited to demonstrate Inkscape & GIMP at the first Libre Graphics Meeting, which was held on 17-19 March 2006 in Lyon.

Following LGM, Andy spent a week in Paris catching up with business opportunities.  He also visited some of the world’s greatest art galleries, La Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, an invaluable experience for a graphic designer.  (Hmm… what would an impressionist like Monet have done with SVG?)

His presentation at LGM followed on from his tutorial on Open Source Graphic Design at linux.conf.au in Dunedin, New Zealand in January 2006. That tutorial was very well received and was voted one of the top four “Best of Conference” sessions.  His tutorial was then repeated on the final day of the conference.

The Bit Bucket

Friday, March 24th, 2006

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The Bit Bucket, with USB interface

This one’s for Greg Low.

We’ve all heard about “the Bit Bucket”; that’s where data goes when you delete it.  But has anyone actually seen one?  Well here’s one with a USB interface.

It’s from a set of crazy USB-enabled devices in an exhibition by dialog05.

Here’s an article on the exhibition by Yanko Design.

Thanks to SplaTT for the lead.

PS: Greg himself has some experience with innovative USB devices.  See his post on USB Powered Coffee.

xbox360 black screen of death

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

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Frank Arrigo joined the midnight XBOX madness in Pitt St Mall for the release of the XBOX360 earlier today.

Our household was just a little saner, waiting till after school today.  But now, we have a different kind of madness.  The XBOX Black Screen of Death.

No 3 son eagerly hugged his new XBOX 360 all the way home.  We excitedly hooked it up to the home theatre system, set up the screen resolution, username, timezone, etc

Then, while loading the very first game, white text on a black screen:

System Error: Contact XBOX customer support…
E 74
www.xbox.com/support

After 30 minutes on the phone, the net result is we have a hardware error and we have look out for an e-mail with a return authorization and then take the XBOX to the Post Office tomorrow.

To make matters worse, the e-mail seems to be taking forever to arrive and No 3 son’s face grows longer by the minute. Bugger!

Update: Good News.  The guys at Electronics Boutique have come to the party (possibly due to the 2 years Extended Service Agreement which we purchased for an extra $85)  It’s now 10pm and No 3 son is happily crashing cars all over the lounge room.  He now thinks saving his pocket money for all those months was worth every cent.  Thanks EB!

Welcome back, Mr Bennish

Sunday, March 12th, 2006

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Good News.  There is hope for the future.

American Hero (No, World Hero) teacher Jay Bennish will be back at work Monday.  He has been reinstated following an investigation by the district school board. (News report; Videos of the press conference including Jay Bennish and Cherry Creek Schools Superintendent Dr Monte Moses; Official Statement; more news with video)  It has been determined that the 20-minute MP3 recording where he challenges his students with some controversial viewpoints was not representative of the rest of the 50-minute lesson or, indeed, the rest of the semester.

In questions after the press conference, Dr Moses particularly noted the intelligent and thoughtful representations by a large group of Mr Bennish’s students.

Vehement Attacks

When Mr Bennish was first suspended, (Background and my earlier opinion…) I was truly shocked and frightened by the vehemence of the attacks on Mr Bennish.  There were hundreds of blog posts with thousands of negative comments.  Negative to positive responses ran at about 20 in 1.

When Mr Bennish’s parents were attacked, I couldn’t sit back.  Typical example:Debbie Schlussel.  Just look at the language used in her post, Sob Story on Hate-America Teacher Bennish, While Student Patriot Allen Under Attack.  Scroll down to where I joined in the discussion.  Have a look at what “Red Ryder” had to say.  (Me, a Leftie?) At least he didn’t hide behind a blank profile page. (more…)

Where does the TV your children watch sit on the ‘Redeeming Value vs Time Wasted’ curve?

Thursday, March 9th, 2006

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Serious .NET guru Mitch Denny is also taking his role as a parent seriously.  As his daughter approaches school age he is evaluating private/public/home schooling and asking for opinions on the education system.

One of the side-issues that is being explored in the comments is whether TV should be banned. A sample comment…

David Douglass: As somebody with 3 kids, all doing well in school, the best advice I can give is throw out your TV. I’m serious! TV is hypnotic; your brain shuts down.

My response:

Sorry. I cannot agree with a ban on TV. I suggest “Moderation in all things, especially TV”. For some children, you might get away with a total ban, but for others, the ban itself will make TV more attractive and be an unnecessary source of conflict/peer pressure.

… I suggest discussing intelligent TV like “Australian Story”, “4 Corners”, “Foreign Correspondent” with children is also beneficial. Also, even the youngest child will enjoy anything by David Attenborough.

You’ve just got to be careful with programs on commercial stations. When David says “your brain shuts down”, I’m sure he’s talking about the bottom end of the Redeeming Value vs Time Wasted curve. The slippery slope starts at “Who wants to be a millionaire?” (slightly educational questions), picks up pace at “Australian Idol” (entertainment only) and crashes into the basement at “Big Brother” (’nuff said).

Something I really enjoyed as our kids got older was the whole family howling with laughter at “Good News Week” or “The Glass House”. My wife and I enjoyed seeing our kids laugh even more than the jokes. I’d hate to miss that.

I thought as I wrote that, wouldn’t it be great to have a picture to refer to?  Well here it is; chock-a-block with all my bias about what makes quality television.

Mike's view of the Redeeming Value vs Time Wasted curve for television.

Where does the TV your children watch sit on the curve?

Using Impersonation and Single Sign-On to access corporate data from within a custom SharePoint web part

Wednesday, March 8th, 2006

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Bit of a mouthful, eh?  That was the subject of my presentation earlier today to the Brisbane SharePoint User Group.

The presentation demonstrated the development of a custom SharePoint Portal Server web part.  This created a graph based on dynamic corporate data.  Because the typical portal user does not have permission to access this corporate data, the Single Sign-On service was used within the web part’s RenderWebPart method. SSO provided credentials (Username, Password and Domain) suitable for access to the corporate data.

The WindowsImpersonationContext.Impersonate method was then called with a new WindowsIdentity before accessing the data.

For more info, see the PowerPoint file and sample code available from the Fitzsimon IT Consulting website.

Teacher Jay Bennish, American Hero, suspended for urging students to think critically.

Sunday, March 5th, 2006

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Jan 30 2006, the Monday after President Bush’s State of the Union address; Colorado teacher Jay Bennish discussed the speech with his 10th grade geography class.   He disagreed with many of the President’s sentiments and encouraged the students to think critically and consider some alternative points of view.

One of the students, Sean Allen, entered into the discussion and recorded it on his MP3 player.   Sean later went public with the recording (available here), criticizing his teacher on a number of radio and TV programs.

In the last few days, the blogosphere has "lit up" with criticism of Jay Bennish who has now been suspended pending an investigation.

I have some comments on these events, but I should preface my remarks with the following: (more…)

Microsoft Threat Analysis & Modeling 2.0

Wednesday, March 1st, 2006

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Just back from tonight’s Microsoft Security Interchange event in Brisbane.

From a developer’s point of view, one of the key takeaway ideas was Rocky Heckman’s brief demo of Microsoft Threat Analysis & Modeling 2.0, currently in beta.  This tool will definitely make it easier for developers to build more secure applications.

It’s a real pest when you discover a new security threat half-way through implementation and have to go back and re-jig the design. This hurts especially when you have honestly tried to identify all threats early in the design stage. On his own, a typical developer, not being a full-time security expert, might identify, say, 5 threats in a new application. This tool will typically show up another 25 threats and provide examples of how to deal with them.

Watch out for the release of this on March 7.  More details at the Microsoft Application Threat Modeling blog.

Steve Riley gave a great presentation on Threat Assessment and introduced us to the concept of “deperimeterization“, or securing data wherever it lives, with the keys stored elsewhere!

Finally, the demo that really got everyone’s attention was Graham Elliott’s lightning demonstration of 10 increasingly-serious SQL injection and cross-site scripting attacks in 10 minutes. Enough to make one’s hair stand on end. In fact, I think my hair might be permanently stuck on end until I get my hands on the Threat Analysis & Modeling tool.