Twitter, the SDL, election debates on daylight saving time and more: all in what I’ve read this week

Twitter.comThis Twitter thing is interesting.  Normally, I’m not a fan of the brief chat or the microblog, but I find it tremendously useful in getting a quick lay of the land in how people are thinking — or tweeting, actually — on a particular topic. You’d expect that more Microsofties would be tweeting (many do) but it appears for now that blogging on MSDN, Technet, Live Spaces and others are the most popular form of externally facing, casual communications for many MS employees.

And speaking of Microsofties, a tip of the hat to my friend, Steve Lipner, our senior director of security engineering strategy, for much coverage this week on how Microsoft has "beefed up" with the Security Development Lifecycle.  As Darryl K. Taft wrote earlier this week…

"Microsoft has evolved its Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) to help developers better address security in the design and development phases of the application lifecycle. In addition, Microsoft is delivering an SDL optimization model, a new SDL service provider network and a new threat modeling tool."

On to other news, there is plenty of election coverage, and I was happy to see the candidates addressing the challenges around daylight saving time.  No, not the presidential candidates, but the local candidates in the hotly contested race in Indiana, as noted in The Herald Bulletin last week as Daniels, Long Thompson debate issues

"Democratic challenger Jill Long Thompson and Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels clashed over the economy, taxes and privatization Tuesday night, seven weeks before the Nov. 4 general election. The candidates also spent some time on time zones. Legislation was passed in 2005 mandating statewide observance of daylight-saving time, but some counties later successfully petitioned the federal government to be allowed to switch to Central Time. Confusion over time zones has been a perennial issue in Indiana.

"Daniels said the change was needed because of the confusion was hurting businesses because others outside Indiana didn’t know what time it was here."

Brilliant. If you’ve read this blog, you know that confusion over time zones has been an issue around the world. Please, Indiana, just make up your mind.

Why the confusion, you ask? Just look at this example of confusion with the Mideast clock ahead of Ramadan this year on

"The start of the holy month of Ramadan next week is causing clock confusion in the Middle East. Egypt and the Palestinians are falling back an hour far earlier than usual, trying to reduce daylight hours for Muslims fasting until sunset in sweltering summer temperatures. Politics is also adding a twist. The Palestinian militant group Hamas is ending daylight-saving time at midnight Thursday in the Gaza Strip, which it controls — while the West Bank, run by the rival Fatah faction, is waiting until midnight Sunday. The Palestinians have traditionally changed their clocks at different times from Israel in a gesture of independence. Now for the first time, they’re directing the gesture at each other, reflecting the rival claims for power in the more than year-old split between the Palestinian territories.

You can always spend $50 grand as one University decided to deploy 300 GPS clocks to handle the task of keeping classroom clocks up to date.  "There were 300 fewer clocks for Facilities Management to turn back for daylight saving time last weekend. Those clocks in classrooms around campus have been replaced during the past few weeks with Global Positioning System wireless clocks, assistant director for Facilities Management Sean Schuller said. After more than a year of planning, Facilities Management teamed up with the Office of Classroom Management to purchase 300 clocks from Wisconsin-based Primex Wireless, he said. Primex developed the technology using GPS to keep time in 1999, Primex Wireless marketing manager Anita Carrel said."

Seeing my friend, Rich Kaplan’s photos of Europe this week, I give you this article on Photography: Give Your Photos a Vintage Appearance — Frank Lazaro, a member of the Digital Photography School community, has put together a fantastic tutorial on taking your digital photographs and giving them the vintage feel of older photos. He uses Photoshop and the tutorial and steps are geared towards Photoshop users, but none of the steps are extremely specific to using Photoshop. The effects could easily be recreated with a bit of tweaking to the process in another photo editing program like GIMP. If you’re in the mood to tinker with some of your photos but aren’t interested in being really hands on with the process check out previously reviewed Wanokoto, a web based image editor that helps you create vintage effects.

Perhaps I can learn some ways to spruce up and better my posts by reading the Top 10 Worst Types of Blog Post (and how to fix them) in Boing Boing, posted by Rob Beschizza (September 15, 2008): "Anyone who writes will eventually be guilty of writing something bad. Most do so only incidentally, as a result of error or ignorance. It’s a sin of professional writers, however, to be systematically bad. Following are some of the worst things that I’ve ever done … and worse!"

Now on to the rest of the reading pile, in case you’re wondering what to do during intermission tomorrow.

Howstuffworks "How Music Royalties Work" by Lee Ann Obringer — "Watch MTV or open a copy of Rolling Stone or Spin and you’ll be checking out some musical members of the entertainment elite. The clothes, the jewelry, the cars, the clubs, the houses… One might wonder where, exactly, all that money is coming from. How much does the artist make from CD sales? Bars, clubs and coffee houses across the country are overflowing with fresh, talented musicians who want to join the ranks of these performers. But really, what are the chances of making it to stardom and retiring on music royalties? Making money in the music industry is tricky. Recording contracts are notoriously complicated, and every big recording artist has a small army of legal representatives to translate and negotiate these deals. In this article, we’ll look into the world of music royalties and see how money is actually made in this industry."

fit-PC slim, the ‘world’s smallest PC’ — just don’t lose it on your desk – Engadget looks at the fit-PC Slim, "billed as the "smallest, most energy efficient PC available," and at 13 ounces it just might be. Slim is housed in a 330cc enclosure (4.3 x 3.9 x 1.2 inches), draws a mere 6 watts of power, and like the Linutop 2, runs on a 500MHz AMD Geode. This machine is available in a pared-down 256MB configuration (sans WiFi, hard drive) for $220; a 512MB WiFi version (with no hard drive) for $245; or go all out with the 512MB / WiFi / 60GB hard disk version pre-installed with either Ubuntu or Windows XP Home SP3, for $295 or $335, respectively."

HP trots out 10.4-inch df1000 / 3.5-inch df300a1 digiframes – Engadget says "Don’t look now, but HP just got official with two new digital photo frames that could barely be any further apart in terms of size. On the small side, we’ve got the 3.5-inch df300a1, which rocks a 320 x 240 resolution display (with a 400:1 contrast ratio) and has room for up to 45 pictures on the internal memory. If that’s not enough, users can load up additional images by way of an SD / SDHC / MMC slot, and while the AC / USB power options are dandy, the 2-hour battery life on the rechargeable cell within is super-fine. Sitting tight on the other extreme is the 10.4-inch df1000, with 512MB of inbuilt storage (and its own USB port), a 800 x 600 resolution…"

A few artcles on health, Diet and Inactivity: is HFCS the next Trans Fat? (my old blog entry) given that the Corn industry launched the SweetSurprise web site- Factual Information About Common Sweeteners like Sugar, Honey and High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).  (Interesting science there.)  We work at home to eat right, to exerise more, to do more with our kids. And it’s troubling to read (along with all the other bad news) in the Washington Post last week that Americans are getting fatter and a number of industries are fattening up as well. (The article also ran in today’s local Sunday paper – I felt ahead of the curve as I love the Post’s on-line site.) In the article, I found it interesting that there was little discussion around the increases in portion size over the last 50 years (at least, in any detail) and the over all make up of many of the fast foods people eat. To me, the lack of any reference to the overall fat content in many processed and fast foods, the recent call-outs on trans fats ("partially hydrogenated oils") and High fructose corn syrup (aka "HFCS") was an oversight.

Here is the article from the Post, "Why America Has to Be Fat" — "A Side Effect of Economic Expansion Shows Up in Front By Michael S. Rosenwald (Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, January 22, 2006; Page F01) "It turns out, economists say, that changes in food technology (producing tasty, easy-to-cook food, such as french fries) and changes in labor (we use to be paid to exercise at work, now we pay to exercise after work) combined with women’s importance in the workforce, not the kitchen, have combined to produce industries able to cheaply and efficiently meet the demands of our busy lives. The cookie industry. The fast-food industry. Potato chips. Soda. The chain-restaurant industry, with its heaping portions of low-priced, high-calorie foods."

For more, see High Fructose Corn Syrup – Live Search

Master Marketing Lessons from One of the World’s Least Nimble Companies | Work at Home Blog — "When you think of Microsoft, what words usually come to mind? For me they include: stable, compatible, standard, profitable, boring, successful. I’m not an Apple ‘fan-boy’, but I certainly don’t see the creator of Windows as a company nimbly releasing game changing products. For a ton of reasons they can’t be that company, but they can certainly try to shed that image."

Using Photographs to Enhance Videos of a Static Scene (saved by over 1,100 people) — We present a framework for automatically enhancing videos of a static scene using a few photographs of the same scene. For example, our system can transfer photographic qualities such as high resolution, high dynamic range and better lighting from the photographs to the video. Additionally, the user can quickly modify the video by editing only a few still images of the scene. Finally, our system allows a user to remove unwanted objects and camera shake from the video. These capabilities are enabled by two technical contributions presented in this paper.

InternetNews Realtime IT News – Windows 7 Looking Like a June 2009 Delivery — Note that it’s a coincidence, my name and this reference to a release… September 12, 2008 By Andy Patrizio "Publicly, Microsoft has said Windows 7, the successor operating system to the firm’s much maligned Windows Vista, will not ship until early 2010, but its internal calendar has June 3, 2009 as the planned release date, has learned. "Also, Microsoft will use its Professional Developer’s Conference in late October as the launch platform for the first public beta of Windows 7."

IW500: Microsoft IT Is ‘First And Best’ Customer Of Microsoft Products – Microsoft Blog – InformationWeek — Posted by Mitch Wagner, Sep 15, 2008 06:19 PM– "Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT)’s IT department has a double mission: To be an IT department serving the needs of the company, like any other IT department, and also to be the "first and best customer" — a testing ground and model implementation — for Microsoft’s own products. "Not only do I represent Microsoft, one of the world’s largest software vendors, but I also represent Microsoft, one of the world’s largest customers of Microsoft products," said Barry Briggs, CTO and chief architect at Microsoft, addressing a session at the InformationWeek 500 Conference."

Search: Microsoft paying dearly to acquire Live Search traffic — Valleywag just got forwarded an email outlining Microsoft’s latest desperation move in its money-losing effort to catch up with Google in search. Through Florida online marketing company Kowabunga, Microsoft is willing to pay $2.50 per toolbar download to Web publishers who push the search software on users through the month of September, and $1.50 after that.

Collaborage: Enterprise 2.0 Implementation Overview — Friday: June 13, 2008 11:23 AM — "I have to admit that I am more of a visual person. I like to see all of the pieces put together in order to get an idea of what I am looking at and how I might be able to utilize it. After a couple of weeks, I put this model together to pull together the various pieces of the Enterprise 2.0 puzzle."

Technology News: Consumer: The Needy, Clingy Apple TV By John Martellaro, The Mac Observer 09/16/08 4:00 AM PT — "Apple TV is in trouble if it keeps behaving more like a computer than a DVD player, an A/V receiver, or any other kind of consumer electronics home entertainment product, writes John Martellaro. Whereas most CE A/V products just sit there and work, Apple TV is high-maintenance, demanding too much attention, updating, troubleshooting and overall spoon-feeding. "And just today, there appears to be an issue with downloading HD TV shows. The lack of quality assurance testing for HD downloads reminded me of an old Windows Daylight Saving Time bug. Is it midnight? If yes, turn back the clock an hour. Done. Of course, when midnight rolled around again an hour later, guess what happened?"

Op-Ed Columnist – Why Experience Matters – Op-Ed – by DAVID BROOKS Published: September 15, 2008 — "Philosophical debates arise at the oddest times, and in the heat of this election season, one is now rising in Republican ranks. The narrow question is this: Is Sarah Palin qualified to be vice president? Most conservatives say yes, on the grounds that something that feels so good could not possibly be wrong. But a few commentators, like George Will, Charles Krauthammer, David Frum and Ross Douthat demur, suggesting in different ways that she is unready."

Basics – Gut Instinct’s Surprising Role in Math – by NATALIE ANGIER Published: September 15, 2008 — "… a host of new studies suggests that the two number systems, the bestial and celestial, may be profoundly related, an insight with potentially broad implications for math education. One research team has found that how readily people rally their approximate number sense is linked over time to success in even the most advanced and abstruse mathematics courses. Other scientists have shown that preschool children are remarkably good at approximating the impact of adding to or subtracting from large groups of items but are poor at translating the approximate into the specific. Taken together, the new research suggests that math teachers might do well to emphasize the power of the ballpark figure, to focus less on arithmetic precision and more on general reckoning."

Television: IMDb Incorporates Full-Length TV Shows — "Despite competition from huge search and information sites like Google and Wikipedia, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has for years been a prime resource if you wanted to know anything about a movie, TV show, actor, director, or—hell—even grip. Now the site’s taken an interesting new turn, incorporating shows and videos from Hulu, CBS, and Sony directly into their results. For example, when you go to an episode listing page on IMDb, it links directly to the video for that episode if its available. Seeing as IMDb is the place we already go to look up information about this sort of thing, the direct integration makes it that much easier to find a video you’re looking for if it’s available without having to figure out who might be hosting…"

Maritz flattered by Microsoft’s guerrilla marketing — Channel Marker, September 16th, 2008 by Colin Steele  "I just left a Q&A session with VMware CEO Paul Maritz, where I asked him about the "poker chip" guerrilla marketing campaign that Microsoft launched this morning at VMworld. Here’s what he had to say: "The fact that Microsoft is giving out chochkies to our users is flattering. It is the act of someone in far second."

Peter Moore: Microsoft Wanted to Buy Nintendo, ‘Fixated’ on Sony – Video Game News, Video Game Coverage, Video Game Updates, PC Game News, PC Game Coverage – GameDaily — "The former Xbox executive reveals some interesting insight into Microsoft’s approach to the game industry. They really wanted to take on Sony and possibly even acquire Nintendo to do so. by James Brightman on Tuesday, September 16, 2008 Having already reminisced about the demise of Sega’s Dreamcast, in part two of an interview with the U.K.’s Guardian, former Sega of America and Xbox boss – current head of the EA Sports label – continued the Sega discussion by talking about the company’s transition from a hardware maker to a software-only publisher."

Microsoft looks to spread secure software expertise — "Slates free developer tools for November, hopes other vendors write more secure code" By Gregg Keizer

Innovation Review Cartoon Gallery — "Sometimes pictures and cartoon commentary gives us novel and challenging insights. Melbourne cartoonist, FirstDogontheMoon, provides his perspective on innovation in the innovation cartoon gallery."

Studio Group to Ease Digital-Movie Access – by SARAH MCBRIDE September 13, 2008; Page B4 — "A consortium of studios and consumer-electronics companies is trying to kickstart the market for digital movies and other content by making it more convenient for consumers to use. The initiative, tentatively called the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, will allow consumers to use their online entertainment files much like email — buy it once and access it anywhere. The goal is to also ensure that digital-entertainment files play on any device."

PCs: Avaratec 18" Netbook, $550 and Absurdly Flexible — "Before you read any further, we’ll tell you the catch. It’s not actually a netbook. It’s just powered with the specs of a netbook. This Avaratec All In One features an 18.4 swiveling screen, 1.6GHz Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, DVD burner and Windows XP. Sure, you can call it an underpowered iMac ripoff, but then you’d be missing that the whole system runs only $550 and can mount on your wall like an LCD TV. Full specs and video…"

How To: Remove Shot-Ruining Tourists from Your Photos — The Wired How-To Wiki provides the know-how for anyone who has taken great shots of landscapes, landmarks or other scenes, only to find that some fanny-packed dude has stumbled into your frame. The wiki covers the steps needed in Photoshop (or free alternatives like the GIMP) to manually remove and replace a person, while also suggesting you grab multiple shots at the scene if there’s just no escaping a waving arm or insistent gawker. No patience for lassos, layers and the like? Try the free, previously mentioned webapp Tourist Remover.

Iphone Cpu: Apple Employee Posts Job Description On LinkedIn, Divulges Future iPhone CPU Plans — "Poor Wei-han Lien is probably dead right now after posting a description of his current duties—managing the ARM CPU architecutre team for the iPhone—on LinkedIn. As you know, Apple keeps all its future plans secret so Jobs doesn’t stroll out on stage and announce something everyone’s known for about months (oops). In Lien’s case, the fact that he’s managing the ARM CPU team means that Apple’s acquisition of P.A. Semi back in April was for a good reason: to build optimized processors in-house for the iPhone instead of purchasing them from Samsung, like the company does now."

Tags: articles, what I read, Microsoft, blogs (to 091408)

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