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Archive for March, 2008

RunAsRadio – Scott Kveton Shares His OpenID!

Friday, March 28th, 2008

http://www.intellectualhedonism.com/2008/02/13/RunAsRadio44ScottKvetonSharesHisOpenID.aspx
Richard and Greg talk to Scott Kveton about OpenID. OpenID is a single sign-on solution that could very well make the classic username and password obsolete. This is a fast half hour – you’ll find yourself wanting to listen again!

Coincidently so soon after writing my last post, something I’ve been listening to whilst coding today, really interesting half hour show on openId and unification of functionality.

I’ve spent a little time in the past evening writing a .NET/ASP OpenId provider based on some open source code build on top of the JanRain librarys. Their sample was simple and forms authentication based, and I’ve been expanding it to work in a multiuser environment using flat files to store XML user identities behind the scenes. When it’s done I’ll submit the changes back to the source / open it, but it’s more of a fork of the orignial project (which itself appears to be based on just about everything ever).

Fractured Online Identities

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

This post was originally going to be a response to my friend Stevens post on the same topic “Isn’t it odd..” (Steven Westwell on social networking) so I’d read that first in case I’ve missed something in the overwrite to a post here.  His response turned in to an essay, and so has my own.

I’m eternally divided on the topic of social and collaborative software and the workplace, and even in leisure time.

The experience people currently have with social networking is really zeitgeist and faddish behaviour, people check their facebook over personal email at the moment because it’s new and exciting, it’s something they’ve not had previously, though month after month since about November 2007 facebook and to an even greater extent myspace have seen a steady reduction in both traffic and user activity.  I’m convinced that today’s social networking, from the walled garden of the MSN network, sorry, Facebook ( ;) ), to the focusless indirection of twitter aren’t actually setting the mould for community communication, they’re a “web two point oh-ey” version of phpBB and usenet more than anything.

I’d actually say spam currently poses a greater threat to traditional email than social networking could possibly manage.

That said, it’s correct to identify user driven communities as the direction things are and should be moving, but I see the success in this is directly linked to the maturity of unified online identities, rather than scattered ecosystems.  It’ll take a killer app in the form of Windows Live (even based on the success of XboxLive), or OpenId (I prey for the latter but I’m reasonably certain it’ll be the former) to act as the overall identity broker before people start to establish solid content driven identities on the Internet.

The biggest barrier obstructing the path of social networking becoming as ubiquitous as email is the walled gardens it builds around itself.

The Mecca of the “web 2.0″ concept really is distributed social networking, driven by network events to publish stories, events, “friend requests” and other unspecified interactions (RRS and Atom feeds serving as the first implementation of this “half-push” technology).  A user should control their own identity, have the right to elect the authority who controls their identity (see OpenId), or control their own.  Until the social networking sites stop trying to wall in their users (like AOL, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, local BBS’, The Microsoft Network, Facebook, Myspace, etc before them) we’ll spend a few years in the wilderness of disparate online identities and large communities achieving moderate success before vanishing.

Social networking platforms need to concentrate on adding value to the user experience, rather than trying to consistently reinvent the wheel.  If they were software project propositions this kind of behaviour alone would doom them to failure.  Innovation should be celebrated, and developers certainly shouldn’t have to produce “yet another user management system” with all the features of their direct predecessors, just a little better, or a little more shiny.  The bread and butter of social interaction should be standardised protocols for communication between unrelated innovative “value added” sites.

The kind of interactions suggested, distributed file storage, notifications and calendars exist in products like SharePoint, and mediawiki, iCal and traditional email, but until they’re tied together correctly they’re doomed to be noise.  I really believe that until collaboration technology matures to be platform independent that it’ll struggle to permanently compete and shape networking on a broader scale.  I work entirely in the Microsoft ecosystem and I still feel it’s very important that Microsoft should not tell you who you are online, nor should Facebook, Blogger nor Apple.

Interestingly there’s a different set of challenges facing the adoption of technologies like instant messaging in the workplace, and they’re all entirely human.  Staff training and trust with communication mediums that can be painted as time wasting will always struggle to garner acceptance.  That said, I’ve used instant messaging for years in the workplace, but I’d imagine most technical companies will be ahead of the curve in this respect.  It’s interesting if you look at studies of how wasteful people make checking email on a daily basis, after you account for disruption in flow and response times.  It’s actually (at least in my experience) far more efficient to have email delivered on a pull basis, in intervals measured in hours.  People get more done when they only check their mail four times a day.

I’m really really excited about the future of social networking and its place as the main content driver of “web 3.0″, but I like to imagine it more in the vein of the Ainsible networks of Orson Scott Cards “Enders Game” than the cheap message board hacks of myspace and their application ecosystem.  I’m striving to unify my online identity and I’d implore anyone else to do the same.

Slight Excitement

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

I was over at a close friends last evening and he inadvertently reminded me that I’d always meant to pick up a graphics tablet, especially since my scanner exploded about 8 months back, but I’d never really had the inclination or motivation to do so.  So anyway, this evening I picked up a Wacom tablet after work, and I’m really very impressed.

tablet

Incredibly derivative (of myself) and entirely uninspired, but I just doodled that familiar shape as a little bit of an experiment.  Just to see how it felt.  Very very happy with the results, it really could’ve just been pen inked and scanned and with any luck it’ll give me that bit of a kick to finish off a few projects I’ve had in the works for what literally must be years now.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading around Microsoft Surface recently, I’ve got some amazing ideas and concepts for the platform presuming they manage to make a consumer oriented product in the next 2-3 years.  I’m probably going to start concepting out some software and a few little spikes now.  May well be my next “big thing” and I hope to drive my career in that direction over the next couple of years.  It’s just WPF, C# and Vista in the end…

Now Playing: The Cavalera Conspiracy – Dark Ark

The Colour of Air

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

seekwell #5

Click through for the page / full image.  It’s taken me a little bit longer than I hoped but I guess I had to get in to the right place in my head to be creative.  This one’s just a digital painting really, my scanner died a little while back.  Two more works in progress, but they’ll take significant effort until I manage to capture the atmosphere I’m after.

I finished this up whilst listening to the acoustic and abridged version of “The Sky Moves Sideways” by the Porcupine Tree EP “We Lost The Skyline”, and I think it compliments it nicely, captures the mood at least.

Now Playing: Porcupine Tree – The Sky Moves Sideways

Singularity

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

Microsoft research labs put a distribution and the source of Singularity (http://research.microsoft.com/os/singularity/) online today. 

Singularity is an academic project to produce a micro-kernel based managed operating system and makes for decent reading.  They’re trying to produce an operating system with as much of the core written in managed languages as possible, and the source is definitely interesting, if somewhat intimidating, to poke around in.  Purely academic for the moment, as it’s the sort of technology that’ll probably not see use in mainstream operating systems / Windows for probably about half a decade yet, but it’s quite nice to see a bootable sample and source laying the foundations of a secure operating system that isn’t the quagmire presented to us by modern *nix clones.

An interesting academic footnote more than anything, but it’s definitely cool.

Self Hosted WCF Services Revisited

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

I wrote an exceptionally lengthy piece on creating clever self hosted Windows services using IOC techniques and Windsor containers a few posts back.  Unfortunately the example application was a little half hearted, none-compiling and potentially difficult to grasp.

I’ve repackaged up the sources as a working solution for your pleasure.  I’ve made a few tweaks here and there but the code is largely unchanged.  The upside to this distribution is that you can just compile and reference the CommunicationsManager dll and include it in your projects, stick a few lines of configuration in app.config, three lines of code, and you have a self hosted WCF service.

I’ll skip on reiterating past detail, but suffice to say, you’ll need to go download the Windsor components from castleproject.org, and if you’re smart, nUnit.

Download GenericWCFServer2.zip

Now Playing: Nine Inch Nails – 31 Ghosts IV

Ghosts

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

ghosts_468x60_1

Definitely the right thing to do, both as a listener, buyer, and artist.

When Trent Reznor releases an instrumental double album, you really should pay attention.  Especially when it’s only £2.50.

Now Playing: Nine Inch Nails – 7 Ghosts I

LucasArts adventures reincarnated

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

http://www.insecticidethegame.com/

Looks frankly awesome.  Apparently Crackpot entertainment is staffed by classic era LucasArts developers, so crime and corruption in the land of the dead bugs.. sounds and looks fantastic.