Doomsday clock – piffle I say

I’ve been reading about the so-called “Doomsday Clock” for few decades now and I have to say that it seems stupid and irrelevant to me.

Here you have an awareness tool that is modeled after something most folks can relate to, a simple analog clock. Therein lies the problem. Firstly, the stupid Doomsday Clock only started at about a quarter ’til midnight. Secondly, it is able to go backwards.

To me, the relevance of this kind of warning vehicle is completely negated by the fact that you can say “We’re only 4 minutes away from CERTAIN ANNIHILATION!!” (and yes, I remember when that happened). And then a little while say “Ah, things have changed… no worries, we still have more time.”.

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It’s alarmist and it’s faulty, and worse, it’s just a bad metaphor as it attempts to use something completely irrelevant to the conversation in trying to make its point. At least the wildly lampooned Homeland Security Alert Levels never claimed any kind of time component to them, which makes them a far better vehicle for non-hysterical situational awareness. Even if nobody understands what the heck the colors are supposed to mean :).

Posted under Opinions

This post was written by Marc
on January 29, 2007 at 6:27 pm

Having Problems with POWWEB, my site hosting provider

I’ve been in contact, off and on, with POWWEB – my site hosting provider – for a few months now. They seem to feel that my really slow site is OK, I don’t.

Anyway, I’m talking with their help desk *again* to try to resolve the loading issues. What’s really annoying is that they keep closing my trouble tickets after cursorily inspecting things and not actually resolving the issue. Sorry for any inconvenience this is causing.

Please stick with it. Waiting for the site to load doesn’t seem to help, when the site fails to load, you pretty much need to refresh to get the missing pieces. Then, of course, other pieces will be missing.

I may need to look into a new provider…

Posted under General

This post was written by Marc
on January 29, 2007 at 2:02 am

Questionable Content

* WPG2 Plugin Not Validated *Questionable Content is a great web comic that I’ve been reading for the past couple of months. There are a LOT of such comics out there, and the popularity of some of them is a testament to the vast variety of tastes and opinions out there, but Jeph Jacques (who shares my birthday, if not the year) has crafted a wonderful comic world within which his indie (independent music aficionados) cast of characters interact and grow.

I highly recommend going back to the beginning and reading at least the first dozen or so. In addition to the growth of the characters, it’s truly fascinating to follow the maturing of Jeph’s artistic skills. Something you’ll see immediately when you contrast the current comic with the earlier ones.

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Posted under Comic Books

This post was written by Marc
on January 28, 2007 at 6:07 pm

Dune: House Harkonnen

Dune: House Harkonnen
The second book in second set of prequel trilogies (“Dune: House Trilogy) put out by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. This one focuses, naturally enough, on the machinations of the members of House Harkonnen that position them for the original “Dune” story.Overall I have to say that I enjoyed the first trilogy (The “Legends of Dune” trilogy) much more. The current trilogy is more about intrigue and bridging the gap between the new material and the existing Dune universe. Don’t get me wrong, I am still enjoying this trilogy immensely it’s just that the previous one had a far grander scale – both in terms of time period covered and in terms of the characters and events explored.

If you haven’t read the “Legends of Dune” and you enjoy Dune, you really need to check it out. Then come to “Dune: House Trilogy” as a denoument.

Posted under Books

This post was written by Marc
on January 27, 2007 at 1:47 pm

Lotusphere 2007

I just got back from Lotusphere 2007 and really enjoyed it. I spent the better part of this past week in Orlando, Florida.
I was first staying at a dive called the “Grosvenor Resort In The Walt Disney World Resort” which showed a 3-star rating in Orbitz (3.6 out of 5 by the user score). This place was a dump, the lobby smelled funny, everything was tired and the people there, well.. let’s just say that I was woken up several times throughout the night by thoughtless revellers. To their credit, they are currently undergoing renovations, but I was not aware of this before I got there. Also, there was no Internet connectivity in the rooms even though it was one of their touted features. If this is 3 stars, I NEVER want to stay at a 2 star hotel :(. Anybody who knows me will know that this says a lot.

So I re-booked myself across the street at the Hilton which had a 4-star rating in Orbitz (4.6 out of 5 by the user score) and was much happier.
The place actually had soundproofed walls. It was a little pricier, but it was WELL WORTH the extra expense!

Lotusphere itself was great, the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin resorts do a first-rate job of organizing and maintaining a venue supporting over seven thousand attendees in addition to normal hotel guests and any other conferences that may have been going on. Meetings started on time, they ended on time and there were very few technical glitches – and any that *did* occur were fixed, literally, in seconds.

I’m a hybrid kind of geek, I do mostly administration work for my company’s Lotus Domino infrastructure, but I also do a fair amount of programming to create and maintain utilities and applications in support of automating the routine tasks and processes that allow the infrastructure to function smoothly – an area that most technical systems could benefit from. Usually the administration folks are very good at “administering” but possess little programming ability, and the development staff has that programming ability but don’t really understand what is needed for administration. And since IT tends to be a cost center rather than a profit center, not a lot of internal development goes on to help keep an enterprises core infrastructure systems humming along smoothly.

So my attendance at Lotusphere ran the gamut from “best practices” sessions, to “Hands On” labs through the “administration overview and deep-dive” sessions. There was so much that I wanted to see, my calendar was literally double booked for every time slot and quintuple booked for some. There were some hard choices I had to make in terms of which sessions I would attend and which I simply would not be able to make it to.

Hopefully most of the sessions that I missed will have DVDs available.

I also has a chance to check out the usability lab and was able to offer some input into the latest release of SameTime 7.5 so hopefully those ideas will make it into a coming release.
 

The “Birds-of-a-Feather” session that I attended was not as productive as I had hoped but at least I was able to see that I’m not alone in my template issues. The topic was on trying to find ways to preserve template customizations across new releases of the template code.
 

I had very little time to attend the exhibitor’s exhibition, I popped down a couple of times, but it really isn’t my favorite way to do research. I think, if I was earnestly evaluating a product and already knew a lot about it, then the showcase would be more relevant to me as I’d be able to get hands-on with it and perhaps even get some of my (usually) myriad questions addressed or at least acknowledged. As it is, I still do not have enough time to get my head around all of the offerings of the base product much less the plethora of third party tools that spring up to fill niches and needs that the larger product cannot effectively address.
 

I came away from the event brimming over with new ideas and approaches for our Domino environment and with a very positive outlook for the future of Lotus Notes / Domino. The past few years have not been bright ones as IBM/Lotus reeled under the assault of Microsoft Exchange’s dominance in the email market. But Microsoft really has nothing cohesive to offer in the application space where Domino’s strength lies. With its growing front-end flexibility and “cooler” mail interface and functionality, I believe Domino and Lotus Notes will be able to hold their own within existing companies and, for those that look beyond the hype, can establish new footholds in new and existing companies who want a standardized, secure development platform.

 

Posted under Lotus Domino

This post was written by Marc
on January 26, 2007 at 2:02 pm

Healthier Lifestyle – Milestone achieved

Continuing with my “Healthier Lifestyle” posting, today I weighed in at 169 lbs. As it happened, today is also a running day so I upped my distance from 2.5 to 3 miles and ran at a faster average pace.

I want to build up my speed so that I average 7.5 mph at that distance and then I’ll kick in the hill profile. As it is I’m currently running with a consistent grade of 3%. I’ve found about 2.5% on a treadmill to most closely approximate running on level ground so 3%, to me, is the equivalent of doing my entire run on a mild upward slope.

I don’t see myself doing much beyond 3.1 miles consistently. This approximates 5 kilometers and is ample for my goals. If I start feeling the need for a harder workout, I can always start running faster or augmenting the workout with another activity, perhaps a short cycle so that I can transition from the run to cycling. Maybe someday I’ll even consider doing triathlons again. Believe it or not, the main reason I lost interest in them was that I really don’t like waking up so early in the morning on weekends. It sounds trite, but as a night person, mornings have never really been my forte.

For a little stroll down memory lane, here are some pictures from a couple of triathlons that I did a long time ago…

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Posted under Fitness, Sports

This post was written by Marc
on January 20, 2007 at 1:17 pm

Getting Things Done

  Getting Things Done
David Allen’s excellent book is a must read if you find yourself awash with “Stuff” to do and trying to figure out what and when to do it all.Of primary importance is creating a system, how it’s implemented doesn’t matter, that you trust to capture all of the stuff that you need to do. Getting it out of your brain and into your system allows you to free yourself for more productive work without the nagging suspicion that one of those thoughts zipping around in your head should be being addressed instead of the task at hand.

It’s really a simple, basic approach to, well, getting things done.

Posted under Books, Opinions

This post was written by Marc
on January 17, 2007 at 11:32 pm