May 2007

Supermarket 2.0

by Volker Weber

[via Robert]

Building an application with Microsoft Office

by Volker Weber

office integration

GROUP Technologies AG to buy Relavis Corp

by Volker Weber

Eisenach, 31.05.2007 — Die GROUP Technologies AG plant den Erwerb sämtlicher Anteile an der Relavis Corp. mit Sitz in New York City zum Ausbau ihrer Geschäftsaktivitäten in den USA. Die Parteien haben bereits eine bindende Vereinbarung (Memorandum of Understanding) unterzeichnet, die die Eckpunkte des Erwerbs regelt. Der Abschluss des endgültigen Vertrages auf Basis dieser Vereinbarung wird voraussichtlich noch im Juni erfolgen. Die Übernahme soll zum 1. Juli 2007 wirksam werden.

More >

Domino security breach

by Volker Weber

A very large Notes customer apparently has had a security breach. This is not yet public, but is being discussed in back rooms. Here is what I have learned:

One of the things that happened is that a user has copied the directory. The directory has subsequently been exported to a text file, all of the password hashes were extracted and tested against a dictionary. About 10% of the passwords turned out to be trivial. What should the customer have done to prevent this from happening?

One of the things I know is that IBM has introduced a More Secure Internet Password Format in Domino 4.6:


The customer obviously has not used this setting. If he did, then the password hashes would be much harder to test.

What else could have been done to prevent somebody from getting at this information in the first place?


by Volker Weber

Aus einer Einladung zum Festival of Speed in Goodwood:

Ganztägiger Aufenthalt im Megga des Motorsports.

Hesse bei de Awweit. Und in der Schweiz sind sie auch tätig.

When websites go wrong

by Volker Weber


Thanks, Declan

Identity 2.0

by Nick Shelness

Establishing identity and authenticating on the web are a mess. I doubt I’m alone in using the same user id and password over and over again. If they’re hacked once they can be employed a hundred times over. Yeah, some sites make you change your password at regular intervals, but how do you remember them? I write them down, and carry them with me. OK, they’re somewhat encoded, but ...

For some time now, there has been the possibility of improvement under the “Identity 2.0” banner. To the surprise of some (many?), a significant chunk of Identity 2.0 innovation has come from Microsoft, and no, no, no, it’s not “Passport”. It is expressed in two seminal papers: The Laws of Identity and The Identity Metasystem, both by Kim Cameron.

But this is not all. There is a Microsoft product. It’s called “CardSpace” (it used to be called “Info Card”). It ships as part of Vista. It also ships as an automatic XP upgrade, and there are a host of alternatives, including open source ones.

CardSpace and its analogues, on their own, are not a solution. They are a component, albeit a key one, of an Identity Metasystem. What needs to come next is for web sites (“Relying Parties”) to start requesting and employing CardSpace-managed security assertions. This in turn will create a demand for Identity Provision (yes, this is where ActiveDirectory and son of Passport come in).

Will this happen? It’s too early to say. But by seeding the digital world with CardSpace, Kim and Microsoft have taken us a long first step down this path, and IMHO done us all a big favor.

I am worried about Palm Inc.

by Volker Weber

Palm has two businesses: PDAs and smartphones (read: Treos). PDAs are old stuff. Some people still carry them, but most have switched to mobile phones. Treos are also old stuff, unfortunately. A 2007 Treo would have been a killer machine, in 2004. Today they are simply too big and heavy. I liked the Treo 750, but since I have seen the Samsung i600, it feels strangely quaint.


Now Palm is adding the Foleo. And I am afraid this is going to be a very hard sell. I know that I want one, but how many people really want to carry a very specialized (dare I say crippled?) notebook? Going forward, I just can't see them making enough money.

Why do I want one? This is the dream machine for a reporter. Instant on, full keyboard, long battery life, easily connected through cellular network.

2000 down, 3000 to go

by Volker Weber

eileen 2000

Just reporting on the Multiple Sclerosis fund raiser. You are doing good. Thank you.

A happy BlackBerry user

by Volker Weber


Yes, the sofas in the Alexander are comfy.

Do you use week numbers?

by Volker Weber

There is is currently a a discussion in the Notes 8 beta forum about the calendar. Beta 3 does not display week numbers, as Notes 7 used to do.

This is a big omission for the German market. Business people here think in terms of week numbers. They won't say "we do that after June 18" but rather "we do that in calendar week 25".

How does business in your country work? Do you depend on week numbers? The results of a quick poll:


Please welcome a new author on

by Volker Weber

Nick Shelness has asked me today whether I would entertain occasional posts by him on this site. Boy, am I feeling honored.


Nick is an independent technology consultant, and previously was the CTO of Lotus, and a Lotus and IBM Fellow. Nick is one of the very few people in this industry I could immediately relate to. I interviewed him a few times, but we really got to know each other seven years ago during Lotus Devcon in San Francisco. Nick lives with his wife and two dogs in Meigle, Scotland. Both Ute and I have visited him there. It has always been a wonderful experience.

BTW: has quite a long list of authors, although I am the one who does most of the postings. You may remember some excellent postings from Bruce, Cem, Esther or Ken recently. But the list is actually much longer: Bruce Elgort, Cem Basman, Esther Schindler, John Keys, Ken Porter, Markus Nolte, Oliver Tunnat, Ragnar Schierholz, Stefan Rubner, Ulli Müller.

I suspect many of them don't even know their password anymore. :-)

DRM-free music from iTunes store imminent

by Volker Weber

Need a suggestion

by Volker Weber

I have been asked to review "gear you can't buy here" for an American publication. However, I have trouble coming up with something interesting you cannot buy in the US, but which is available from the Internet. It has to be business-related.

Any ideas, folks?

Palm to announce new mobile device tomorrow

by Volker Weber

SUNNYVALE, Calif., May 29, 2007 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Jeff Hawkins, founder of Palm, Inc. (Nasdaq:PALM), will host a live video webcast on Wed., May 30, to describe a new category of mobile device. The webcast will follow the announcement of this new product at the D: All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, Calif.

Jeff is the original inventor of the (Palm)Pilot. His Handspring spin-off developed the Treo before Palm bought his company. This shall be interesting.

More >

Update: Here it is.

Give and thou shalt be given

by Volker Weber

ilug logoILUG was an interesting exercise in finance. Paul came up with the idea of a conference with no registration fee, mainly because it sometimes is very hard to get your boss to pay for a conference and also give you time off to attend.

This has worked very well. Quite a bunch of people from Germany chose to not even try and bitch around with their boss, but rather took vacation leave and paid their own way to get to Ireland. The same is actually true for a few speakers, even from IBM.

Then there were a large group of freelancers, who never need to ask their boss to go to a conference. And they felt, they got the deal of their lifetime. While employees usually get their company to pay the conference fee, they are used to paying everything. A user group conference like DNUG for instance is not free. Registration is 595 Euro for members and 1345 Euro for non-members (discounts for universities and students available). This time they got a free ride. And what a ride it was.

Of coure, even a conference without a registration fee is not free. You need to pay for the venue, for food and drinks, for bags and trinkets. This is what the sponsors did. They gave the money to make it all fly. And they get something in return: new contacts and an opportunity to show their products. This is an area which could be improved next year.

And of course, even if the sponsors chip in the money, even if the speakers do it all for free, the conference does not just happen. There is an incredible amount of work that goes into organizing this. If it's all done very well, it looks like there was no effort at all.

On top of all the recognition that the organizers receive, I also wanted us to give them some "hard evidence" of our gratitude. And you did good. We were able to raise roughly 3500 Euro for gifts. People gave between 10 and 100 Euro, and if you do the math, you will see that we only needed contributions from 30 % of the attendees to raise this money.

Paul and Eileen never started this to get anything in return. But this conference has been proof that you receive if you give. Paul was desperately looking for his portable hole to disappear through when we rolled out his MacBook. Eileen wanted to give her substantial gift to charity towards The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland. However I am going to insist she spends it on herself. Instead, we can help her with her charity:

eileens charity

If this all works out she gets her own punishment: walk across the Andes in Peru for eight days. :-)

Sonos drives down prices

by Volker Weber


ZonePlayer 80 now 349, ZonePlayer 100 at 499, Controller at 399, bundle of all three 999. Bad news for Europeans: these numbers are either Euro or Dollar.

Should you be travelling to the US, the bundle could be had for around 750 Euro, which would be a steal.

On a mission

by Volker Weber

Photo: Oliver Tunnat

100, 99, 98, 97 ...

by Volker Weber

Mixed bag of links

by Volker Weber

Back from Ireland, where the grass is greener

by Volker Weber

Ireland, where the grass is greener

We had a wonderful trip and are back home safe. A few remarks:

  1. Choosing Lufthansa over Air Lingus and RyanAir (cough) was a good move. Sorry, Ireland.
  2. Pembroke Townhouse was even better than last year. We had a nice quiet room to the back with an excellent (hard) bed. The breakfast buffet is kind of simple, but the kitchen serves a great omelette.
  3. ILUG* was as well organized as it can possibly be. Trust me, you need six short people to pull that off: an AV bloke, THE mad Scotsman, a token American, two dominant ladies, and, Paul.
  4. I have used up all of my luck for May. I forgot my bag in a taxi, and I got it back after finding the taxi only 30 minutes later in the middle of the night. One in twelve thousand. Without knowing anything about it but the make of the car. This would have been THE disaster.
  5. Dublin has the worst Chinese restaurant I have ever been to: Imperial on Wicklow. "Rice not included." - "We don't have (fill in your wish here)." - "No starters?" - "Tiger, mumble, and Heineken".
  6. A Nikon with a 50 mm lens goes a long way taking pictures.
  7. Lesson learned: Don't take a boat to a bird island with no cover, leaving a rain coat behind, if said boat does not return for two hours to pick you up. It may start raining. Make that "pouring". No, that was not me. :-)
  8. The Nokia E61i is all you need to keep up with things while travelling. Web sites, RSS feeds, mail, instant messaging, and all. Excellent tool.
  9. Cider tastes better than beer. A lot.
  10. Paul finally has a Mac. Lotus, we will surround you with Mac users, until you finally make some decent tooling. At the same time, and on par.

*) This event puts everything else to shame. Everything. You get two days of excellent presentations from the best Lotusphere speakers, a conference bag, a 1 GB memory key with all the presentations on it, a hat, a t-shirt, a USB mug warmer. You get the chance to win a gift from the conference sponsors, free lunch — yes, there is a free lunch — and to top if off, a free drinks reception. In Ireland! What do you pay for it? Nothing.

Alright, that is not entirely true. Without some money we would not have been able to buy serious presents. Thank you all for making this possible. And if you feel you have not done enough yet, or if you haven't done anything, I suggest you donate something towards Eileen's charity.

Benefits of hiding your SSID: None

by Volker Weber

US opposes G8 climate control

by Volker Weber

US has "fundamental" concerns at German plans to curb G8 emissions, a leaked document shows.


Saturday morning 5am in Dublin

by Volker Weber

Saturday morning 5am in Dublin

Quote of the day

by Volker Weber

Vista is like the wife you never wanted
— Wild Bill Buchan

Gone ... ehm ... fishing

by Volker Weber

Quick, write some comments

by Volker Weber

My mailbox is currently being flooded with three spam messages per minute. I desperately need some ham. :-)

And since we are at it, thank you Bill for putting a computer without security on everybody's desk. It has been a great help for building botnets.


by Volker Weber


Going from UAT into production. And nothing breaks. Congratulations.

You can't get any geekier than this

by Volker Weber

I wonder if anybody understood what was going on. Watch the video.

They better be good

by Volker Weber

NewsFlash! - Amazon Now Has DMR Free Mp3s

19 Things NOT To Do When Building a Website

by Volker Weber

Josiah Cole writes:

I've compiled a small list (or rant) of some very basic and fundamental rules that all webmasters must learn and respect when developing a website that needs to make actual money. This list can also be used by companies looking to hire a web development firm or to evaluate an already deployed website project.

And the list is growing.

More >

ILUG 2007 Agenda

by Volker Weber

ILUG 2007 agenda

I have transcribed the agenda to an iCal file and imported it into Google Calendar. You can grab it from there as XML, iCal or HTML. You an also grab the original iCal 2.0 file here.

Be careful, because all times are GMT (+1 hour for DST) with timezone support. If you look at it while in CEST, all times will be one hour off. Quick check: the day starts at 9 o'clock in the morning.

Also note that first column does not mean room 1. The individual entries contain the room designations, but I can't make the events sort according to location.

Luna Rossa kicks BMW Oracle out of the Cup

by Volker Weber

luna rossa beats bmw oracle

Luna Rossa makes it to the finals. From today on there is no American team left in the Cup.

Desafío Español is still holding out against Emirates Team New Zealand 2:4. They would have to win the remaining three matches in a row to make it to the finals, which is rather unlikely.

Updates on the Nokia E61i and the Samsung SGH-i607

by Volker Weber

Samsung has not followed up on the promise to deliver a i600 this week.This might change next week. You all know that I have never been fond of Windows Mobile devices but the i607 has changed that. The non-touchscreen version of Windows Mobile turns out to be quite usable, at least in Samsung's implementation.

I also like the form factor of this phone. It is just large enough to accomodate a full keyboard, and small enough to not stand out as a smartphone. It is larger than a Pearl, but not large enough to bother you. Also, the screen is very good, and incoming mail is very readable with the default Windows Mobile theme.

I wish this could also be said about the E61i. While the phone is very impressive with all of its capabilities, the user interface is not. Symbian comes with quite ugly themes which make it hard to read the screen. Fonts tend to be too small, and the backdrop shines through on all screens. The first thing you need to do is to hunt for a good theme to install, and there aren't many. Also, the mail client is very slow when browsing through messages. You can jump to the next or previous message by navigating left or right, but it will always go through the message list. And this slows down the mail client considerably.

samsung  nokia

In contrast to the Samsung, the Nokia phone should be able to use BlackBerry Connect. I have downloaded and installed it, but so far I have failed to make it work. As with the Samsung, I have simply reverted to Exchange Direct Push. Since I have been at home for the last three days, I connected to the server through my Wi-Fi access point. According to Microsoft this is an unsupported configuration:

Direct Push requires a cellular data connection. It is not supported over Wi-Fi or Desktop Passthrough(when the device is cradled).

Due to hardware limitations, Wi-Fi cannot go into standby mode and receive notifications. So in order to support Direct Push over Wi-Fi, the Wi-Fi connection would have to be kept alive which in turn would drain the battery very rapidly.

I can only say, it hasn't. Although I am connecting through Wi-Fi with a five minute heartbeat, I am seeing 80% battery charge at the end of the day. No idea, how the E61i does it, but apparently it does work. Here is how to set this up in the Exchange profile:

e61i wifi

And this is actually the biggest gripe I have with this device. It would be completely impractical to use this configuration in real life. The reason is that you can only set exactly one access point in this Mail for Exchange component. You will have to set this to your carrier APN in order to make the device work when you are outside of your Wi-Fi coverage. This is actually the component's fault. The E61i lets you define access point groups:

e61i ap groups

I have one access point group which contains all the Wi-Fi networks I normally use with my carrier APN as the last resort. This way the E61i will always connect through one of the available Wi-Fi networks before falling back to the cellular network. Unfortunately the Exchange component does not recognize access point groups.

Visual history

by Volker Weber


Nice feature in the Symbian Series 60 web browser: a visual history of the pages you visited.

IMAP IDLE in Apple

by Volker Weber

I am currently investigating the IMAP IDLE mode for an article on mobile email. While doing that I came across this interesting plugin for mail client in Mac OS X 10.4:

IMAP-IDLE is a plugin for Apple's 2.x. (Tiger version). It opens a second connection for each of your IMAP accounts, requests IDLE mode, and listens for messages from the server. When it receives a message that indicates new mail has arrived, it asks to check for new mail. In this way, you get "instant" notification of new mail, rather than needing to wait for the polling interval (e.g., 5 minutes or whatever you have it set to). I have Mail set to "manual check" and let IMAP-IDLE tell it to check for new mail.

More >

Slightly related: IBM invents IMAP IDLE and Domino does not implement it.

Nova media wants beta testers

by Volker Weber

FoneLink beta

Nova media are working on a new Mac application which lets you manage data on your mobile phone over Bluetooth and USB. It currently has four major areas:

The software currently supports (at least) Nokia 3310, 6085, 6086, 6111, 6125, 6133, 6136, 6165, 6234, 6265, 6270, 6275, 6280, 6282, 6290, 7370, 7373, 8800, E61, E62, E90, N93, N95 and Sony Ericsson K810i. If you have one of those register on their forum and they give you access to the latest beta and the feedback forums.

Look what I found in the E61i software catalog

by Volker Weber

reuters s60

Now you can keep up with the important news in style: :-)

reuters s60

Overheard in New York

by Volker Weber

Theater fan: What would you say about a person who saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show only once and didn't feel any need to see it again?
Tim Curry: I'd say that was a person who was in full possession of their senses.

More >

Treo, E61i, BlackBerrys and a Blackjack

by Volker Weber

The Nokia is the largest by a margin, but it is also well built and thin. It fits in your coat but hardly in your trouser pocket.

Vespa geklaut

by Volker Weber

Diese Nacht wurde uns eine Vespa geklaut. Der Dieb war zu doof, das Lenkschloss richtig zu knacken. Um eine Hausecke hat er es geschafft, aber die Vespa ist unfahrbar. Und dort haben wir den Roller dann wiedergefunden.


It's here

by Volker Weber

nokia e61i

The largest mobile since the Motorola International 3200. ;-) And a very very impressive device. Surfing via UMTS/HSDPA or WLAN is extremely fast. Email not so much. Switching between messages takes about a second, which is way better than 2nd generation S60 devices but a far cry from Crackberrys and the Blackjack or Treo 750.

I tried to install BlackBerry Connect but failed to make it work. The Nokia Download site says:

(Germany only) Nokia S60 BlackBerry Connect (7.1.4)_8(.SISX, 1,74 MB)
NOTE: You need software version 1.633.62.05 on your device.

However the device only has 1.633.22.05 and there is no update available. First I figured that the 62 is a typo, but after I could not get it to work I assume I have to wait for a newer firmware. I then installed Nokia Mail for Exchange which worked immediately. I must admit that I am getting more impressed with Direct Push the longer I use it.

Still playing with all the software on the device but so far I am not missing anything. It even comes with a feed reader.

Skype 2.6 for Mac comes out of beta

by Volker Weber

As always, get it here.

How does your mouse work?

by Volker Weber

Wonderful nonsense.

[Thanks, Karen and Rocky]

A nice welcome

by Volker Weber

Dorint Novotel Messestadt West


by Volker Weber

Samsung Blackjack SGH-i607: first impressions

by Volker Weber

Giving up isn't really my kind of thing. So I gave it another go. As I explained before, the SGH-i607 is not really meant to be used in Europe. We have the SGH-i600 which uses different 3G frequencies and has WLAN built in. It would give me two orders of magnitude faster access to the Internet. Maybe somebody from Samsung is able to let me have one of those.

The first thing I did was to upgrade the firmware to i607UCGB4 which according to Samsung "should enhance roaming capabilities, especially internationally." That is exactly what I needed. If you follow the above link you will find that the upgrade is kind of tedious and certainly not for the faint of heart:


The update failed on the first try, but I did not brick the phone, so I could give it another go.


When I inserted the SIM I was greeted with a not so nice message that the phone was locked to the Cingular/AT&T network. What I needed was an unlock code which I had already obtained expecting this roadblock.


I played around with a few homepage designs, but could not really find out how to remove the plugin which tried to make me buy an AT&T mail service. I finally duplicated the cingular.home.xml file as vowe.home.xml and edited the plugin out:


You simply have to remove this line from the file:

<plugin clsid="{6DB6BCE8-E727-4ed4-BC16-20A7FEA2443E}" name="mail" />

Here is the shiny new home screen without the AT&T commercial, sporting the default Windows Mobile backdrop:


Once I fixed the APN in Start/Settings/Connections/GPRS/GPRS and removed the authentication in "GPRS/GPRS Authentication" I was able to connect to the Internet. Since my provider does not have EDGE and the device cannot use UMTS/HSDPA I was stuck at GPRS speeds which is enough for email but not really enough for web browsing. So I entered the account data for my hosted Exchange account and a few seconds later I was connected to my mail:


The screen turns out to be very readable and the mail application is reasonably quick. I need to try this out in bright sunlight but so far mail performance is impressive. Notes users will not like to hear this but having an Exchange account makes some things pretty easy which can be quite daunting with Notes.

Skype supports the SGH-i600 so I gave it a try. Again, having 3G or WLAN would help things a lot in this area, so if you do have the European version of this device you should be very happy:


Then I discovered something interesting in the menu bar of my Macbook:

bt pan

The Bluetooth stack in the Blackjack is newer than the stack in the Treo. Microsoft has added the "Network Access Point" profile in one of the updates to Windows Mobile 5 and Samsung has used this version for the Blackjack.

Using this however isn't so easy. AT&T has hidden the link to the Internet Sharing application deep inside the Windows directory. You won't find it in the Start Menu but here it is:


You load this application and then tell it to use the Bluetooth PAN (Personal Area Network) link. Then you select Connect to connect your Blackjack to the Internet:


After you joined the Bluetooth PAN from your Mac as shown above in the Mac menu bar, you will find a new network interface:


In essence, once your phone is able to connect to the Internet and is paired with your Mac there is no further setup necessary. No modem scripts no secret handshakes. Open Internet Sharing on Windows Mobile, connect from the Mac and you are online.

I think I need to get a European device with 3G support and we are pretty close to matching all of my requirements.

Interview with Rob Wunderlich from IBM

by Bruce Elgort

Julian Robichaux and I spoke to Rob Wunderlich -- Technology Evangelist in the "Emerging Technology and Standards Evangelization" team at IBM about things including mobile applications, Lotus Domino Web Services, the importance of standards, what it's like to be a Technology Evangelist at IBM and much more. Also included in this episode is Chris Blatnick's "Interface Matters" segment and information on Collaboration University from Mike Smith of the Turtle Partnership.

More >

Business without intelligence

by Volker Weber

How to shoot yourself in the foot with forty words:

I should have mentioned this in our meeting that Steve Ballmer's keynote address tomorrow is closed to the press. His keynote address is geared toward customers and partners only. I apologize for the inconvenience and for not mentioning this earlier.

More >

Catching sunglasses with your face

by Volker Weber

If it walks like a duck ...

by Volker Weber

People don't like DRM, perhaps that's just because it's such a smelly word. HBO's chief technology officer Bob Zitter thinks so, he wants to ditch the term DRM in favor of "DCE," or, "Digital Consumer Enablement."

Yeah, right.

Repeat after me: DRM DCE is bad for the customer.

More >

Mixed Tape 17 is out

by Volker Weber

Wie schrieb ein Leser so schön:

Hallo Volker,

herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag !

Bei aller Begeisterung für das Fest, ist der Hinweis auf die Veröffentlichung der Mixed-Tapes 17 untergegangen.

Normalerweise finde ich den Hinweis darauf immer bei Dir.

Wegen der besonderen Umstände sei Dir verziehen ;-)


Das nächste Mal passe ich wieder besser auf. ;-)

More >

One year old, but interesting anyway

by Volker Weber

Gana has sent me a link to an article in Businessworld India, which sheds some light on the LEAN initiative we briefly touched on:

Clearly, Global Services seems to have hit some sort of a plateau. The PwC acquisition is not yet bringing in the kind of heavyweight business IBM had hoped for. More importantly, with topline of the global services business largely flat, IBM needs to make sure that at least the bottomline is improving. And for that, it needs to cut jobs drastically in the US itself, which is likely to be far harder to accomplish than Europe. By some estimates, IBM needs to slash its US employee strength of 260,000 by half. Before it can do that, IBM India will have to be able to take up the workload of those 130,000 people that it needs to shed — and that is going to be the key factor.

More >

It wasn't meant to be

by Volker Weber

This happens very rarely. But the Cingular Blackjack was a complete failure for me. I am not going to write about all the difficulties I had, because many of them are related to the fact that this is a Cingular branded device and I am trying to use it on a European network. It would be unfair to criticize it for the issues I encountered.

Anyway, after only four hours of trying to get this thing to do anything interesting I gave up.

Forty Nine

by Volker Weber

do i smell birthday cake?
Photo Jason Vernon

Heute 19 Uhr wie jedes Jahr. Bei schönem Wetter draußen, sonst drinnen. Keine Einladung. Keine Geschenke.

Knapp daneben

by Volker Weber

Heinrich Vaske von der Computerwoche schreibt:

Robert Cringely ist im Silicon Valley kein unbekannter. Über sieben Jahre beglückte er seine Leser mit der oft bissigen Kolumne “Notes From the Field” in der CW-Schwesterpublikation “Infoworld”.

Die Wikipedia meint dazu:

Robert X. Cringely is the pen name of both technology journalist Mark Stephens and a string of writers for a column in InfoWorld, the one-time weekly computer trade newspaper published by IDG, which is now entirely electronic.

Stephens was the third author to contribute to Infoworld under the Cringely pseudonym, the first two being Rory J. O'Connor and then Laurie Flynn. ... Stephens' Cringely currently writes an online column for the PBS website called I, Cringely: The Pulpit.

Vaske meint also Stephens. Und Stephens meint, dass IBM dieses Jahr 150.000 Mitarbeiter von IBM Global Services entlassen wird, in USA wohlgemerkt. Da IBM insgesamt ca 350.000 Mitarbeiter hat, wäre das also eigentlich ziemlich jeder US-amerikanische IGS-Mitarbeiter.

Canadian Spy Coins Debunked

by Ken Porter

Poppy QuarterIn January of this year, the US Defense Department issued a warning about Canadian spy coins. The media was all over this [story]. Today we learn what all the fuss was about.

The Royal Canadian Mint, together with The Royal Canadian Legion, unveiled a new quarter in the fall of 2004. The 25 cent coin was the world's first coloured coin put into circulation. It featured a red poppy, the symbol that pays homage to all the brave Canadians that have died while in the service of the nation.

These coins some how showed up in the pockets of US army contractors that were travelling in Canada.

The worried contractors described the coins as "anomalous" and "filled with something manmade that looked like nanotechnology," said once-classified U.S. government reports and e-mails.

The nanotechnology turned out to be the protective coating use to prevent the coloured image from rubbing off.

More >

Back on the Pearl. Finally!

by Volker Weber

Two hours ago a friendly mailman knocked on the door and brought a new Pearl. I flashed the latest 4.2 build and synced all the data back. Now I have a working Pearl again, sitting in its protective rubber suit to the right. The naked Pearl next to it has the broken screen and goes back to RIM by the end of the week. On the left are the two devices which helped me while the Pearl was broken: a Blackberry 8800 - also in a rubber suit- which does not work with my proper USIM due to a bug in 4.2.1 and was therefore loaded with a test SIM. Last but not least the shiny Palm Treo 750 which I liked a lot more than I thought I would. Microsoft Direct Push does work, but it also sucks the battery dry in no time. While the Treo has excellent sound quality and the best build of the bunch, I am happy to have the Pearl back.

Cem makes it to the frontpage

by Volker Weber

Lobbyismus für Anfänger

by Volker Weber

Hanno hat eine interessante Idee:

Wir Computerfreaks, Informatiker, IT-Fachleute, Blogger, was auch immer, wir können uns wunderbar aufregen. "Wir wüssten es ja auch viel besser als diese blutigen IT-Anfänger in der Regierung!" Aber tun wir etwas? Selten. Nein, eigentlich nie. Meckern ist ja auch einfacher. "Es ändert sich ja doch nichts." Und die großen bösen Interessenverbände, die machen Lobbyismus viel effektiver.

Doch was ist Lobbyismus schon? Es ist das konstante Erinnern an Interessen. Das Festsetzen guter Argumente. Die Aussaat von Zweifeln.

Lobbyisten machen das professionell. Aber jeder kann das. Hier eine Anleitung.

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One off

by Volker Weber

time diff

What was the time difference between France and the UK again? ;-)

Samsung phone coming up

by Volker Weber

blackjackRobert found this smartphone in his MIX conference package. It looks like the Cingular Samsung Blackjack, which is very similar to the Samsung SGH-i600 sold here. It's not exactly the same, because Cingular says it is a quadband GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900) and dual band 3G (850/1900) phone. Samsung says triband (900/1800/1900) and UMTS/HSDPA. The US is notorious for using different frequencies from the rest of the world, where 1885-2025 MHz is used for the uplink and 2110-2200 MHz for the downlink.

Anyway, Robert is going to lend me his phone to look at. It won't be running on 3G in Europe, but it should be useful enough on GSM/EDGE. In contrast to Nokia, Palm and RIM, Samsung does not really know me well enough to send me smartphones, so I am using this great opportunity to look at yet another device. I have been very impressed with Samsung's progress in design and branding, but so far have only seen the SGH-D900 (and earlier) sliders. While I find them quite impressive, they are built around their very own firmware, which won't let you run any interesting software.

The BlackJack runs on Windows Mobile 5 for Smartphones, because the device does not have a touchscreen. I know it's going to work with Direct Push from my Exchange account, but I have not found a BlackBerry Connect client. If you know there is one, please point me to its whereabouts.

It was good while it lasted

by Volker Weber

Pandora has been forced to lock out non-US listeners:

Dear Pandora Visitor,

We are deeply, deeply sorry to say that due to licensing constraints, we can no longer allow access to Pandora for most listeners located outside of the U.S. We will continue to work diligently to realize the vision of a truly global Pandora, but for the time being we are required to restrict its use. We are very sad to have to do this, but there is no other alternative.

I am sure you know whom to blame.

Zitat des Tages

by Volker Weber

Was heißt Drogenszene auf Französisch?
Tour de France

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Extra, extra! Read all about it!

by Volker Weber

There is a First Life.

Programming challenge

by Volker Weber

Who can do this in COBOL?

Google Maps Mobile with GPS support

by Volker Weber

gmm 1.5.1

Google has released version 1.5.1 of Google Maps Mobile for Blackberry, now with GPS support. You can either use a Bluetooth GPS, or the internal GPS receiver of your device, as shown here with a BlackBerry 8800.

gmm 1.5.1

Update: There is also a version for Windows Mobile with GPS support. The Palm version does not seem to support a GPS, neither does the Symbian version.


Point your mobile browser to to install it.

Netgear buys Infrant

by Volker Weber

netgear buys infrant

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – May 3, 2007– NETGEAR, Inc. (NASDAQGM: NTGR), a worldwide provider of technologically advanced, branded networking products, today announced the execution of a definitive agreement to acquire privately-held Infrant Technologies, Inc.

I am very excited about this. So far Netgear only had SAN devices, which required proprietary drivers on the client. Since there were none for Macs, this was a PC only game. Infrant on the other hand has excellent NAS devices which communicate via standard protocols. Netgear will be able to sell a lot more of those devices than Infrant ever could. Which will bring the price down. Boy, do I want a ReadyNAS+.

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Sun joins porting effort for for Mac

by Volker Weber

Philipp Lohmann writes:

I'm excited to let you all know that as of now Sun engineering will add its support to the ongoing Mac/Aqua porting effort.

It was about time.

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Einfaches kompliziert erklären

by Volker Weber

TC nennt es Multiple Neurose:

Der GMX Messenger ermöglicht Multi-Channel, Multi-Portabel, Multi-Skin und Multi-Media. Dahinter verbirgt sich die Strategie, dem GMX User ein universelles Tool an die Hand zu geben, welches sich nach individuellen Vorlieben anpassen lässt, mit anderen verbreiteten Messengern kommunizieren kann, an jedem PC auch ohne Administrator-Rechte einsetzbar ist und neben Textnachrichten auch Sprache und Video überträgt. Mit den Multi-Skin-Features bietet der Messenger einen hohen Grad an Individualität und Emotionalität.

Jabber-Client mit Audio und Video von GMX, spricht mit AIM, ICQ, MSN und Yahoo. Sowieso mit Google Talk und anderen Jabbern. Schön bunt und mit Werbung.

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Game over

by Volker Weber

game over

RIM announces BlackBerry Curve

by Volker Weber


GSM/GPRS/EDGE, full keyboard, 2 MP camera with LED flash, 3.5 mm jack, A2DP, no GPS, no UMTS.

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Or else

by Volker Weber

Using Wndows Vista is Torture

Having fun with Sametime

by Volker Weber

After I tested Sametime 7.5.1 and found a couple of unresolved problems, I was asked whether I had done a clean install. I was not sure, so I removed all traces of Sametime, did a fresh install and ever since I have been unable to login to the demo server with Sametime Connect.

st 751 login

I have tested my credentials in the Meeting Center and I have no login problems there.

st 751 login

So it looks like I know my username and password, but the demo server would not let me in with Sametime Connect. The only idea I have is that somebody at IBM registered a "Weber Volker" for an online meeting tomorrow. Maybe this is confusing the server?

Anyway, in preparation for the meeting tomorrow, I tried to attend the Test Meeting. And this does not look too good either:

st 751 login

Maybe I can ask IBM to just use WebEx? Otherwise it looks like I am going to see an audio demo tomorrow.

Update: The Sametime server was down. It was an audio demo. In an open conference call. With more IBMers than press in attendance. Which was sheer luck for IBM.

Smartphone update

by Volker Weber

I am developing a love/hate relationship with the Treo 750. The major downside is battery life. It just so makes it through the day. And it has been a while since I had a phone which did not run for a week. The minor downside is Windows Mobile. Just like Windows, it works most of the time. Which is not all of the time. Palm knows what I am saying, and I may find a Treo 680 in my mail this week. It does not have the same silky feel and it does not have a 3G radio, but at least it runs on Palm OS instead of Windows Mobile.

If you ever get the chance to have both devices, upload 4000 contacts. This will slow down the 750 to a crawl while the 680 will be completely unfazed.

In related news, I was looking forward to switching back to a Pearl. A nice person at RIM had located a device and put it in the mail two days ago. Due to a public holiday yesterday the device arrived today. A quick test showed the dreaded "Network Access Denied" message. This time it was not the USIM problem, but a T-Mobile complication. The device had been manufactured for T-Mobile, who in their infinite wisdom had decided to differentiate between "Prosumer" and "Enterprise" devices. While "Enterprise" devices connect via the normal APN, "Prosumer" devices talk to the APN. Since only one of my test-SIMs is provisioned for this APN, the Pearl was all but a boat anchor. As Pete has explained so nicely, this isn't entirely RIM's fault. I was just reminded today that BlackBerrys are much more complicated to handle than a run-of-the-mill GSM phone. A SIM with data plan isn't good enough. You also need "BlackBerry service" which is marketing speech for access to the appropriate APN on your SIM. You cannot travel to a foreign county, buy a local SIM and drop it in to enjoy local calling rates. Yes, you can place and receive phone calls, but you cannot access your mailbox. You are stuck with your own SIM and the roaming charges for data traffic and phone calls.

A little birdie tells me that T-Mobile is stopping this nonsense with two different devices when they introduce the BlackBerry 8300 in May. As always, RIM does not say anything when I ask them for confirmation. So you may want to take this information with a grain of salt.

No, the Nokia E61i is not forgotten, but it needs to be procured and then sent from Finland first.

DRM does not work

by Volker Weber

DRM depends on encryption. Encryption depends on secrets. Since you need to know the secret to decode what has been encrypted, you must obtain the secret to view/hear what has been encrypted. Although you possess the secret, DRM system go to great length to keep you from ever knowing it. However, once in a while somebody makes a mistake and the secret escapes. This has happened many years ago with DVDs, and now has happened again with HD-DVDs.

Once the genie is out of the bottle, you can't get it back in. The only thing you can do is to invalidate the secret and issue a new one*. Which means breaking all existing players. And the cycle begins again.

As it happens, some people will try to put the genie back into the bottle. As it just happened at, who received a take down notice for a link to the secret. They complied only to find themselves in front of a stampede of angry users:

digg protest

Repeat after me: DRM is bad for the customer.

*) This a bit simplistic. There is more than one secret. But if one of them escapes, the door is open, unless you no longer use it.

Old archive pages

I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


Paypal vowe