Network World’s clueless “electronic delivery”

Normally, I like Network World magazine, but I really have to laugh at the cluelessness revealed in this editorial about their new “electronic delivery” system.   At first I thought this was some kind of late April fools style joke, but they appear to be serious.   I’ll let their own words explain their “revolutionary” plan:

With iDemand, we send to you in background mode an entire issue of Network World as a PDF that automatically sizes itself to fit your screen when opened.

The way we deliver the PDF in the background is by asking you to install a small iDemand client. Besides saving you the trouble of downloading the PDF every week, the client lets you receive Network World breaking-news notices.

Err.. hello?  Didn’t push clients die with the ill fated (and stupid) Pointcast?  I’d love to know what kind of golf course deal suckered Network World’s management into wasting money on this idea, but it’s gonna fail miserably. Push clients suck. Nobody like them in the 90’s, nobody likes them now.

The truly sad thing is that Network World already *has* an electronic delivery system.   It’s called a web site.  And rather than waste money on this ridiculous push client, they really should spend some time cleaning up the design of their web site so that it doesn’t suck as much and so that you can actually *find* the articles from the print edition.


OpenMoko – $300 Linux powered touch screen phone?

Wired has a short article that looks at the upcoming OpenMoko Linux powered cell phone.  Unfortunately their coverage, like most of the coverage I’ve seen of the OpenMoko, is focused on comparing it to the iPhone.  IMHO that’s unfortunate.  As has been pointed out endlessly by the many rabid iPhone fans on the net, it’s unlikely that anyone, particularly OpenMoko, will create as seamless and slick an end user experience as the iPhone.  Probably true.  Apple’s good at that.

But the big limitation of the iPhone is that, unlike the BlackBerry and all the various Windows Mobile based smartphones, you can’t load your own apps on the iPhone.  That’s one of the reasons that I think the OpenMoko is really more of a competitor for the BlackBerry and the various other smartphones, rather than an “iPhone killer”.

I hope the folks behind the OpenMoko are smart enough to realize that in addition to the “geek” market, they should also be targeting the enterprise market.  With the right developer tools, and particularly if the OpenMoko becomes available in both the current form factor and a “ruggedized’ version, this could be an awesome platform for developing and deploying mobile enterprise applications.

As for the geek market… If the next version has 3G and a decent camera I’ll definitely be getting one.

New blog home, new blog name, new blog software

Welcome everyone to the new home of the blog formerly known as “Negative Acknowledgement”.

I’ve moved my blog from it’s old home at here to and have re-christened the blog to it’s new title of “Blasphemous Bits”. By necessity the blog is also running on new software (WordPress) instead of the Typo software it used to run on.

Why the changes?

  • New location: I’m hoping I can get a renewed enthusiasm for blogging now that I no longer have to deal with the little minutias of trying to run my blog on an old spare box in my basement at the end of my home cable internet connection. As much as I love the geekyness of running my own blog software, I’ve had a hard time keeping the motivation to fix things when they break (like when comcast changes my IP!). I’ve decided it makes more sense to let someone else host everything.
  • New software: I still love Typo and would recommend it highly to anyone looking to host their own blog software. But what I’ve seen of WordPress looks pretty good so far, and quite frankly I couldn’t find any free Typo hosting.
  • New name: I created my old blog almost two year ago, when I was mostly doing network administration. The name “Negative Acknowledgement” was meant to be a play on the standard ack/nack’s of TCP. Now that I’m not doing as much networking, the name didn’t fit as well. Hence, the new name.

Anyway, I’m excited about my blog’s new incarnation and I hope at least a few of you find it interesting and/or useful. The blog will cover a pretty diverse range of technology topics, because I’ve got a lot of diverse interests.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy.

Upstream proxy authentication with squid

Thanks to this hint, I’ve finally found a way to get programs that don’t support proxy authentication (like Ruby’s Gem, Perl’s CPAN, etc) to work behind the authenticating proxy at work. The article is for MacosX, but it works just as well under Linux. The short summary is that you can install a local Squid proxy, then configure Squid to forward all request to the upstream proxy. Squid handles the authentication, just configure your applications to use the local Squid proxy (without authentication). I tried it this evening with Gem, and it works great!

One caveat: This works with proxies that use HTTP basic authentication, I don’t think it’ll work with NTLM authentication (MS-Proxy).