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Archive for September, 2011

Social media may be all the rage, but that does not make it a simple subject. Have a look at Yammer bij Rabobank (sorry, it’s in dutch) – I like the overview slide (last but one), that explains how the many social tools within Rabobank are used for specific types of communication and collaboration. In other words: no, you can’t expect a single tool to do it all! Introducing e-mail in a company usually doesn’t mean that all telephones are thrown out, no?

Here’s another social media matrix, teaching the same lesson: http://www.rwd.com/uploadedFiles/Campaign/SM_Matrix-final.pdf.

But don’t worry: I know how hard it is to explain this to newbies – or to your management ;-)

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When Dave is scared, it pays to be attentive: Facebook is scaring me. I’m not a Facebook user, but when FB begins, others are bound to follow. And, just like Dave, I don’t want all my actions on the Web (or on one ore more particular sites) being published automatically – I want to be (and stay) in control, especially about my privacy.

Some commenters called it “information leaking”, or “passive like buttons”, but to me such behaviour (from FB or any other site) would just be an invasion into my privacy. I don’t like that, with or without buttons.

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Yesterday, Nikon announced the arrival of a new digital camera system: the Nikon 1 series. Here’s a family picture:

Nikon 1 Overview

The Digital Photography Review website already has had the occasion to handle the new cameras, and explains some of the key capabilities of the cameras: the 1 inch sensor built by Nikon itself, the high-speed autofocus system, the possibility to record video and high-resolution still pictures at the same time, and the built-in electronic viewfinder of the V1 model are just the beginning.

Many commenters on the dpreview.com website think the sensor is too small for serious photography, the more so when compared to the FourThirds system espoused by Olympus, Panasonic, Sony and others. On the other hand, Pentax surprised us all when launching the Q with the 1/2.3″ sensor. I guess we will have to wait and see – literally – what image quality all these system deliver. And I certainly won’t try and predict sales numbers!

 

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If you want to know how fast basic web technology like HTML and browsers evolved during the last two decades, just have a look at The Evolution of the Web. It’s succint, it’s nice to look at, and it will bring up up some nice memories if you’ve ever done web development. And yes, I still have a copy of the Netscape One-dot- something browser on a working Macintosh SE 30 in my office – too bad it’s so limited in the current Internet that it has become useless for any real browsing.

The Evolution of the Web

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Just a quick note: I did finally find the time to re-test the ntlmHTTP project for ColdFusion after the installation of .NET 3.5 on our ColdFusion test server (check out my earlier posts on the subject). And yes, ntlmHTTP works – at least for accessing web pages that are protected by “Windows Integrated Authentication”. Next trials will try to access SharePoint 2010…

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Yesterday evening, I attended the SAI evening conference on Social Media in Business. Speakers were Cato Léonard and Bert Van Wassenhove. No earth shattering speeches, to be sure, but a good overview of what any business can and/or should do with social media, and the tools that are currently available to monitor and manage social media. A full conference room made it clear: the subject is being discussed in many enterprises.

Cato Léonard talks Social Media while attendants tweet away ;-)

Update (2001-09-18): also read Bruno’s account of the evening (in Dutch)…

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Ginger Stir Fry beta 24 came out on September 12th. I guess I’ll be upgrading one of these days, although I must admit that I still have no problems with beta 19. The only thing that could be better is the speed with which the machine connects to the WiFi network at home, and I seem to have read that there’s an extra option to manage the WiFi sleep…

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Memory Restoration

My troubles with the micro-SDRAM card in my smartphone (see 2011-09-07) were a bit more complex than expected – but first: a correction. SanDisk offers a five-year guarantee, not lifetime. The good news: the guarantee was honoured by my dealer. He tried to restore files from the card, but got nothing from it that I didn’t already recover myself. Then he threw away the card, and offered me a new one.

So far, so good, or so I thought. A quick test on the Mac went all right. Then I inserted the card (in an SDRAM adapter) into my netbook, for a quick reformatting and a backup script… but things didn’t work out that way: because no matter what I tried, the card remained “read-only”. The read/write switch on the card adapter seemed to have no effect. After a few times, Ubuntu didn’t even react anymore when I inserted the card for another try. Suggestions all over the Internet said to try formatting the card again in a digital camera. But when I tried that, my heart skipped a beat: formatting wasn’t possible – and getting the adapter back out of the camera slot took multiple tries, even using a tool to get more grip op the card!

In the end, improvising on another suggestion, I glued the read/write switch into the “write” position with superglue. That took care of the matter: I managed to prepare the card and it’s now doing duty in the Blade. Still, Ubuntu remains reluctant to recognize the SDRAM adapter, so I guess it’s time for a replacement.

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Memory Zap

I have been using memory sticks and memory cards for many years now, starting somewhere in 2002 with CompactFlash cards for my first digital camera, the Nikon Coolpix 885. Last week, the micro SD RAM card in my Android smartphone refused all further service. Was it the Bluetooth File Transfer application that I tried? Was it a faux pas while deconnecting the phone from my Mac? I don’t think so, because it wasn’t the first time I did all that. Anyway, afterwards the card refused to mount on the phone, it refused to mount on the Mac, and it refused to mount on the Ubuntu netbook…

Luckily, there’s a nifty tool called PhotoRec that tries to rescue as many files as possible from memory cards (and more) – even if they can’t be mounted. It seems magical, but the tool did work and recovered several thousand files from the 8GB card, after reporting a number of “bad sectors” and other errors. It just took a lot of time: more than 12 hours, and the card wasn’t even half full. Too bad the one file I really wanted to recover wasn’t found – but I can’t blame PhotoRec for that. That’s what backups are for, and I’m happy to report that I did have a usable backup ;-)

I took the card back to the shop where I bought it – “lifetime guarantee” shouldn’t be a hollow slogan, no? The shop owner told me that a significant number of memory cards had been returned to him the last couple of months. Probably it’s just a coincidence, but I can’t help wondering: is that just an indicator of diminishing production quality in the Far East, or is there something else at play, and if so, what could that something else be?

PS. Need I add that having your contacts and documents “in the cloud” (aka. on the Google servers, in GMail and more) is quite handy when a memory card dies on you? At least the “phone” part of your smartphone remains up to date, when you’re syncing regularly!

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My ‘DotnetRuntimeEnvironment’ component for ColdFusion managed to surprise me: after installing the .NET framework 3.5 the ‘GetSystemVersion()‘ method still returned ‘2.0.50727‘, rather than the ‘3.5‘ or so I expected. It took some digging to find a decent explanation, but the reason appears to be mundane (at least for .NET experts): my component actually returns the version for the Common Language Runtime (CLR), and not for the whole framework (thank you, Jon Skeet!). The CLR is the runtime for the bytecode, comparable to the JVM in the Java universe.

This also means that more is needed to tell the exact .NET framework version you’re actively using – I suppose that trying to instantiate a class that first appeared in a given framework version would be a sufficient indicator. Oh well, back to the coding board, eh?

For completeness sake I can report that the code I published last week continues to work when multiple versions of .NET (CLR and/or framework) are installed on your machine.

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I have been testing the ‘DotnetRuntimeEnvironment’ component I wrote about a week ago. Doing so also pointed to a better, more robust version. Here it is (the » symbol again means you should put what follows on the preceding line):

<cfcomponent name="DotnetRuntimeEnvironment" >

  <cfset VARIABLES.noruntime = "NORUNTIME" />
  <cfset init() />

  <cffunction name="init" access="private" returntype="void" output="false" >
    <cftry>
        <cfset VARIABLES.re = CreateObject( "dotnet",
             » "System.Runtime.InteropServices.RuntimeEnvironment" ) />
      <cfcatch type="any" >
        <cfset VARIABLES.runtime = "" />
      </cfcatch>
    </cftry>
  </cffunction>

  <cffunction name="isRunning" access="public" returntype="boolean" output="false" >
    <cfreturn IsObject( VARIABLES.runtime ) />
  </cffunction>

  <cffunction name="GetRuntimeDirectory" access="public" returntype="string" output="false" >
    <cfif IsObject( VARIABLES.runtime ) >
      <cfreturn VARIABLES.runtime.GetRuntimeDirectory() />
    <cfelse>
      <cfreturn "NONE" />
    </cfif>
  </cffunction>

  <cffunction name="GetSystemVersion" access="public" returntype="string" output="false" >
    <cfif IsObject( VARIABLES.runtime ) >
      <cfreturn VARIABLES.runtime.GetSystemVersion() />
    <cfelse>
      <cfreturn "NONE" />
    </cfif>
  </cffunction>

</cfcomponent>

This version will run on any platform, and give a reasonable answer for any method called – even when no .NET runtime can be found. The ‘isRunning()‘ method allows you to check  the existence of a .NET runtime before you try to work with other methods. As always, suggestions or additions are welcome!

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