Blog Archive for January 2007

Bill Gates and Windows Vista with Jon Stewart

A couple people have been checking out the brand new Windows Vista. So what do I think? It's too bad that Jon Stewart didn't get Bill Gates' password:


John Reuben Is Frickin' Awesome!

John Reuben Photo

Ha! I think that picture's hilarious. John Reuben is my guilty pleasure, if you know what I mean. I know he's not the best rapper ever, but I identify with him a bit, he's my type of humor, and he's definitely not afraid to push the boundaries. Just to show you all the fun, here's a couple things on YouTube (after the jump):

If you're in Minnesota, spend your $8 wisely to check out his February 9th show at Club 3 Degrees. Hey, I'll probably be there, but that's not why you're planning on going. Also, check out Word of Mouth, in stores and online February 6th.


OpenID Distributed Authentication

Many companies have tried to make a universally-acceptable login system. Microsoft tried to promote their .Net Passport for years. Google owns so much it feels like a universal login for almost everything. It's the same with Yahoo! But, in each case, they were doomed because everyone was afraid for security reasons. If I give Microsoft my payment information so that I don't have to put it in on sites again, just how much does Microsoft know about me? How much information are they collecting and sharing about me? No one really knows.

Open-source advocates always say that the solution is an open-source thing that is tested by the community for security reasons. But creating a decentralized system is really hard. Thankfully, some people have started such a decentralized and secure system.

OpenID is a specification for a decentralized login system.� You can register for an account at any number of places such as LiveJournal and MyOpenID.� Also, if you're a bit tech savvy, you can create your own OpenID server to authenticate yourself.� (I just installed it in 20 minutes through phpMyID and it works great.)� An encrypted version of my password is stored on my server and therefore no OpenID-enabled site even gets a password from me.� The OpenID site redirects to my site to be authenticated.� I can also give the OpenID sites information such as my language, time zone, etc.

Who knows if it will catch on, but it seems to be a good idea.� Just to help it catch on, you can now post comments on my blog with your OpenID (thanks to the WPOpenID Plugin).


Google's Hidden Features

Did you know that you can do many things in the Google search box? Sure, it might search the web for it, but the real answer comes up first. Here's some examples:

Use those and more to power your searching and research.


Joost Internet TV

Everyone seems to like Skype. (Although, no one that I know ever feels free to call me.) Apparently Skype was started by the same people that started Kazaa. And apparently they're about to do it again.

Their newest project is called Joost. I'm not sure why, but apparently they're trying to recreate network TV over the Internet. I'm not sure why I'd want to choose from a number of channels because there's usually nothing on. I mean, I like podcasts on demand better.

The funnest stuff, in my opinion, is the stuff you can do while watching their full-screen TV video. Apparently you can get little semi-transparent widgets to chat with other people watching the program, get your IM application up on the screen, etc. It seems like a new way to watch TV where you are doing other interactive things right on top of the screen.

To build buzz and build up their network infrastructure, they are using that old, "You can only invite a friend or two" method. And no, I don't have any invites.


CakePHP, Open-Source and Documentation

One of my least favorite parts about CakePHP (and many open-source projects that are not yet fully mainstream) is that there's very sparse documentation, if any at all.

Such was the case this morning. I knew I could use the finderQuery variable for a model to modify the behavior of the HABTM relationship. The problem is that the finderQuery needs the value of that model's user ID. I tried various queries on the CakePHP site and Google to find the answer, but could not find it hardly anywhere.

In the end, I found it via Google in the Cake Wiki. But CakePHP people are saying, "But the Wiki has been closed." Yes, the Wiki pages now say, "Maintaining the wiki became a bit too much to handle, so we created the Bakery to become the central location of all information related to CakePHP." Thankfully, Google still has a cache of these items so that I could find the data I was looking for.

I found that the variables {$__cakeID__$} and {$__cakeForeignKey__$} are the magic formula for making your own queries. Worked like a charm.

The Internet, in my opinion, is supposed to be a wealth of data. I only very hesitantly remove any data in the hope that it will be someday useful to someone. In this case, just because someone does not maintain the site should not mean it has to be closed and inaccessible. If the site is not updated or maintained well, just put a blurb saying so at the top or bottom of the page and leave the resources for people to find if they need them. Mentioning the functionality in an out-of-date document is better than in no document at all.


The Pixar Story

I've always been a fan of animated movies, but everyone knows my favorites are from Pixar. Found via digg, here's a detailed look into the history of the company and the rise to a film studio. It's pretty amazing that John Lasseter started creating Toy Story with no feature film experience at all. Also, I had no idea that animation from The Wrath of Khan was so amazing for it's day.


The Planets on Google Maps

So it came to 11pm and I still didn't have anything for this morning... so why not go with something Google but something a bit obscure?

You may know that they updated Google Earth recently. But did you know that Google has also mapped out the Moon and Mars already too? They're fun for at least a couple minutes.


Cake ...PHP, That Is

At work, this week is going to be all about CakePHP. What's CakePHP? For those programmers, it's similar to Ruby on Rails or Django for Python, but it's in PHP. For the less technical, it's also called a web framework for PHP.

So what does it really do for those who don't understand all that mumbo-jumbo? Well, once you get the hang of it, it's an easy way to create websites. All of the form and templating functions are entirely built into the system. I was just following the CakePHP tutorial for making a simple blog. You only need to add a aouple lines of code in the right spot to make a simple create, edit, and delete section. Plus, it uses mod_rewrite to make the page system work very easily and easily editable. It's a lot easier to get a quick handle on than content management frameworks like Drupal or Joomla.

I'll tell y'all how well it went at the end of the week. I think the week after that will be Drupal week, so hopefully I'll give you some tech tips over the next weeks. And I don't want to hear abut how I should be using Django or something - I'll get there one of these days after Emmaus Project is in pre-pre-alpha.


R2-D2 Does Everything!

Last week at CES 2007 there were many amazing products announced. But how a fully functional R2-D2? Yes, there are two R2-D2 products from NIkko Electronics.

One is the R2-D2 Communications System that has a Skype-enabled handset shaped like a lightsaber as well as a video camera and more. The other is the R2-D2 Mobile Entertainment System, which boasts a high-quality projector, an iPod dock, USB and video ports, built-in speakers, and more. Oh yeah, and both of these geeky toys also roll around on the floor like the real R2-D2 does.