04/30/2006

Dartful Launching

QuickImage Category Boats
So much for the frigid north. Our little fake lobster boat is in the water and tied up at the dock. We launched it earlier this afternoon and took a short cruise out to Clarke Island and then past Ed and Suzy's house on Cameron Island. Every thing seems to have weathered the winter OK. Even though we didn't go on shore, we could see that our floating dock was safely sitting on the island shore, and Ed and Suzie's house looked untouched from the water. We'll take a longer shore trip later this week and wander about the island. It's in the mid 60s today so summer can not be far away.

04/19/2006

the Coordinator

Category None
Ed Brill has an entry on his blog (link) that references an article in the Financial Times about email being out of control. In the article there is a passing reference to a program called "The Coordinator". This was one of the first collaboration products that I implemented but I am pretty cloudy about the exact date. It was sometime in the mid 80s and it may even have predated cc:Mail. (interestingly it's one of the few topics in the last year that I have been unable to successfully google) The program had some interesting concepts and I would suspect that some of its features which seemed alien at the time would have more appeal today. As the article points out, there was no provision for sending "how are the kids" type of messages. The program was designed around the principal that the only reason you would send a message to a colleague is because you wanted him/her to perform a task, or because you were responding to a request. Depending on the category of message, you as a recipient would have a certain amount of time to respond and to make a commitment to perform the task. The amusing part was that the program would automatically compose demanding messages for you to send when timely responses were not received. As we have all been frustrated by co-workers that never seem to respond to task requests, it is easy to appreciate this feature, but in 198x email was so new that this seemed just too impolite to utilize.

I don't think we used the program for more than a week or two before shelving it, but I kept the manual for many years. There was some relationship between the company and Warner Enhart's EST movement (perhaps only in my imagination) and the manual had long new age discussions about referring to meetings as "commitment of your bodily space" etc.

Despite the fact that we resoundingly rejected the program at the time, it did incorporate some very forward thinking for the time and I ran into one of the original team members 5 or 6 years ago that was incorporating many of the original concepts into a Notes application.

04/19/2006

Road Trials

Category None
I made a trip back to Washington last week. While I had planned on blogging during the trip, I found that while I could replicate my mail on the road, I could not access the blog database (the same time-outs that people have complained to me about). I asked the ISP that keeps saying the connection is working fine to sit someone in front of a browser and actually try and open my web-site. While I didn't hear what that "user" experienced, I did get a message from the local installer that they were going to come out and realign the satellite dish.

Of course the week I was in DC corresponded with the local school's spring break, so I ended missing most of the people I know professionally. I did get to spend one evening catching up with two ex-employees which was exciting and I met with one of my ex-business partners that I hadn't seen in quite some time which was also good.

On a personal note, it was great to experience some warm summer weather this early in the year (a phenomena that has not occurred here as of yet - we're still in the 40s), but some of the trip was marred by having both our car, and our daughter's car break down during the week. It's discouraging to take a trip, and then spend 2 of the 5 days at your destination hanging out in a repair shop.

04/03/2006

DOS Here

Category None
There was a time long, long ago when I considered myself a wiz at the command line interface in DOS. I had hundreds of little tricks and a bag of utilities I used to work my way around the computer. Windows 1-3 did little to change the need for DOS skills, but the dominance of NT, 2000, 9X and XP finally relegated the DOS prompt to an infrequent usage status. Certainly, I still find myself using the command prompt on a regular basis (for whatever reason, I always use IPConfig from the command prompt) but like just about everyone else, I have been spoiled by "point and click". However, my foray these last few years into the advanced world of collaboration and LWP/WCS has changed all this.

Working with WCS requires the use of an often strange combination of graphical and command line interfaces (does anyone else feel like it was designed and written by a committee?). In fact it seems that for just about every window's based admin task, there is an available command line version available. At any rate, working with WCS means that I spend a lot of time navigating around the hard disk from the command prompt. While this is certainly not hard (at least I don't have to remember how to use the "join" command or tweak the config sys to maximize the base 640K of memory) the file structure means that I am always navigating 6 or 7 directories deep in the Appserver directory and then moving to a directory deep with in the Portal directory structure to run various utilities or modify property files.

An old Microsoft utility called DOSHere makes this process much easier. With it, you just navigate using the mouse to the correct subdirectory and the choose "Command Prompt Here" from the right click menu, and presto a command window opens in that directory. Of course, the utility can't be found on the MS site anymore. (They have a newer version as part of their "Power Toys" but in only works with XP) but a quick google search finds many places where it can be downloaded.

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