It may look like advertising, but it's not. The commercial references you see on this site are not really ads because we don't get paid for them! The only way we make any money is if you click on them and actually BUY something, so please do!

"I get the feeling talking to other [security managers at other firms] that very few investigate computer security incidents because very few have the capability to do so. . . . I think there are a lot of companies that still believe there are no threats directed at their companies. This is why I've always said the greatest threat to the security of a company is a belief on the part of senior management that there is no threat."

-- Mike Hager, vice president of Network Security and Disaster Recovery at Oppenheimer Funds, as quoted by ComputerWorld by News Wire Daily

 Your ALT-Text here They're Killing the Internet!

There are factions out there who would love to destroy it. There are others whose greed simply overwhelms any concern for the survival of the Internet. Who are they, and what can we do to stop them?....(Read the article)

   Your ALT-Text here


Practically Free Software That Works Like a Million Bucks

March 26, 2002. Here are some short descriptions of software we have tested and found valuable:

Pop-Up Stopper Pro from PanicWare: www.panicware.comThis component loads into your browser and prevents any web page from spawning pop-ups. So effective, I even licensed it for 19.95!!

CuteFTP - makes loading files to your web site as easy as using the Windows Explorer, only faster and sans complicated configuration. Get it at www.globalscape.com

LaBrea "Tar Pit" worm-eating software. This ingenious program creates virtual machines on unused IP addresses on your network when they are being scanned by possible malicious programs like the current Nimda virus. Get it at www.hackbusters.net/LaBrea

PopUp Killer from xFXJumpStart does a great job of automatically closing that new scourge of the Web - uninvited browser sessions. Get it at software.xfx.net/utilities/popupkiller/index.html

 

Sorry, Gateway, We Liked IBM's Olympic Coverage Better

February 11, 2002. If you didn't already know from the hundreds of cow commercials, Gateway is providing the computers and services for the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The previous Summer Olympics in Australia featured IBM in a similar role. We're certainly not IBM "homers", but in this case the Big Blue People seemed to have produced a significantly better product than the neophyte Gateway crew. For starters, the web sites under IBM were much more up to date, informative and infinitely easier to navigate. The scores on TV seem to arrive slowly and the team flags are hard to make out. However, the fonts used on the numbers are easier to read than the ones IBM used. The worst part is that they don't seem to be posting enough winning scores for the American participants. Maybe they will get that part fixed in the next couple of weeks and we'll forget about everything else. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!


Job Sites Disappearing?

January 3, 2002. Lets have a toast for the dearly departed jobsites on our job page. According to eJob.com, which is going into a state of suspended animation, "most career sites are dying". We hope that is an exaggeration, as only 7 of the 25 we list have disappeared. They are eJob.com, jobkeys.com, theshortlist.com, careerqwest.com, jobvertise.com, icPlanet, and Denver-Jobs.com.

 


IBM Brings Back Punch Cards

Before you call your broker, take a look at these new "millipede project" punch cards. Instead of paper, they're plastic and they will be able to store more than 3 billion bits of data in the same space as a single punch in the old style cards! IBM is claiming up to a trillion bits per square inch capacity, translating into a 15 gigabyte device the size of today's flashcards for starters! When these devices become available, portable devices will have capacities far in excess of today's desktops!

What Do Programmers Want?

By Greg Hill
Part 1 – Eliminate the “Human Element”

or “Users? Who needs users?”

From the dawn of time on Earth, humans have slowly risen to dominate the world through the use of perhaps mankind’s greatest trait – the ability to adapt. Now, as the computer age dawns, most non-programmers in the world want to abandon this adaptation thing altogether, at least when it comes to computers.

From the programmer’s perspective, there are only a few elegant ways to accomplish the goals of any particular application. “Elegant” in programmer’s parlance means that perfect combination of hardware and software synergy where the brilliantly inspired code meets the shining, powerful steed of computing machinery and sweeps everyone involved to the land of Milk and Honey, sometimes referred to as the successfully implemented application.

Achieving this higher state of software engineering requires that the user interface, or the part that appears on your screen, reflects the inner soul of the software itself. In short, whatever a program does, there is an efficient way for the user to communicate with it when necessary.

Unfortunately, the user NEVER wants to communicate with the program in the best manner dictated by the application. They ALWAYS want to do it their way.

Let’s talk about “their way” for a moment, shall we? “Their way” is never the most efficient way – we’ve already covered that. But it is not the least efficient way, either - in an odd way, programmers could deal with that, too - at least it would be consistent. No, “Their way” is always some inconceivable, inefficient, vile, vindictive, idiotic…..Suffice it to say, it makes little or no sense to the programmer.

The “Their Way” User Interface (TWUI) is always the kluge machine that has to be attached somehow to the programmer’s brilliantly efficient code. In many cases, the programmer has to change his code to make it less efficient in order to accommodate the TWUI.

So, from where does the “Their way” method come? The answer is complicated, but it can be summed up in two ways:

1. “That’s the way we’ve always done it”

2. “That’s the way he/she wants it done”

The light comes on! The TWUI consists of either a desire to emulate the system of a bygone and non-computerized era or is the brilliant work of some self-styled efficiency expert. Both methods, of course are a disaster for all enlightened computer people.

What almost always happens is that the technology is “dumbed down” to accommodate the TWUI. The developers go away shaking their heads and grumbling about evil in the world and the users gloat about how they had to smarten up those dumb bit-heads with no real-world knowledge. Once in a while, the programmer refuses to give in and produces elegant software with the original user interface. The program is usually rejected by the users or if it is commercial software, it is unsuccessful.

Which returns us to our original point - programmers and the computer industry would have taken the world to unimagined heights by now, if the human race had continued its age-old tradition of adapting. But at some point, the human race changed their direction, stamped their feet, drew a line in the sand, held their breath, and demanded: “From now on we are doing it our way, there will be no more adapting!” And they did it just to make programmers miserable – there is no other explanation. It's sheer contrariness.

Just don’t blame the programmers when the whole place crashes and burns. We tried, we really did. Until users are willing to go back to what they do best, namely adapting, they will just have to deal with the fruits of their stubbornness: slow, buggy, inefficient computer systems.

Metro State Brings National Championship to Denver

March 23,2002. The Metropolitan State College of Denver Roadrunners basketball team are the 2002 NCAA Division II Men's Basketball National Champions! And they did it in miraculous fashion:

  • In the North Central Region Finals, they stunned the Number 1 seed and home team South Dakota State in Brookings, SD 87-86, when Sophomore Luke Kendall hit the game winner with 6.6 seconds left on the clock.

  • Next, in the Elite 8 game, the Roadrunners left the Cal-State San Bernardino Coyotes in the dust, taking a 39-20 lead at the half and cruising to a 65-48 victory. Cal-State not only had the best record of any men's team in the country, they were ranked 3rd (to Metro's 22nd) in the nation, and had beaten Metro 70-62 earlier in the year. The Coyotes had not lost since February 1, 2002.

  • In the semi-final game, Metro jumped all over Indiana University of Pennsylvania, racing to a 22-4 lead. The Roadrunners forced 25 turnovers on their way to an 82-52 route of the 16th ranked team, who had beaten the 6th ranked team the previous night.

  • In the Championship game, Metro was up against a legend in Division II basketball, the Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers, who have won 8 previous championships, including two of the last 3. To top it off, the game was being played in Evansville, Indiana, 45 minutes from the Panther's campus, insuring there would be at least 5,000 screaming fans to provide the home floor advantage. They sported a 30-2 record, were ranked first, and had just beaten the 4th and 15th ranked teams to get to the final. Nothing mattered to Roadrunners, who simply outplayed the Panthers to beat them for the National Championship for the second time in three years by a score of 80-72!


We would like to take this opportunity to thank Metro State, coach Mike Dunlap, the team, and all of the people who supported them for bringing pride and excitement to Denver and Colorado!


FreshBaked.com Crowns Oregon NCAA Football National Champions!

Someday the national champion will be decided using a playoff system with the winners playing in the FreshBaked.com Bowl.....

 

Oregon Disqualified from 2003 FreshBaked.com® Bowl

It's really discouraging to see how far the mighty have fallen. In this case, the mighty being the University of Oregon Ducks. Last year, as you may recall, the Ducks clearly should have been Miami's opponent for the National Championship, but they were jobbed by evil BCS conspiracy. As a result, we at FreshBaked.com overruled all of the other corrupt organizations and summarily declared Oregon the National Champs.

 

Now we have cause to regret that decision. First, we were appalled by the behavior of the Ducks' basketball team in the NCAA Championship Tourney. We didn't think any college team would be so crass as to attempt to humiliate other tournament teams that were not on their level, talent-wise. Oregon, the institution, along with the coaches and, especially, the players, thought otherwise. Enough said. We are glad now that they were bounced early from the PAC-10 tourney and decimated by Kansas in the NCAAs, after barely squeaking past Wake Forest and Texas.

 

But the worst was yet to come. Apparently, the NCAA has decided to right last years' wrong by making this year's mediocre Ducks' football team a winner with some referee "assistance". In the Fresno State game, which Oregon pulled out in the last minutes by a 28 to 24 score, the officials made a number of obvious mistakes that even had the announcers gasping in astonishment. First, they called a penalty on FSU after the punt for coming within two yards of the returner, which replays showed to be false. Next, when the Bulldogs held the Ducks and forced them to punt, the officials ruled that they had run into the punter, giving the ball back to the Ducks. This time, replays showed that the Bulldog player not only didn't run into the kicker, but he was being held and pushed by an Oregon player! Next, the officials gave Oregon two consecutive 4th down conversions by spotting the ball at least a yard further downfield than the runner's progress. In spite of all this assistance, the Ducks were only able to get a field goal and trailed 24-21. But there was still more! On the ensuing possession, the Bulldogs were driving down the field for what would have been the clinching score, when they stalled out and and were facing a fourth and inches at the Oregon 25 yard line. All they had to do was get the ball past the 25 yard line for a first down. On the play, the QB handed the ball to the running back, who clearly pushed the ball past the 25, nearly to the 24, an obvious first down for Fresno State that would probably clinch the victory. But, the officials moved the ball back to behind the original spot, effectively dealing the Bulldogs a loss on the play, turning the ball and the victory over to the Ducks.

Now, most teams would have realized that they were being handed a victory by the officials, and would have accepted it, possibly being a little embarrassed by their good fortune. Not these Ducks! They celebrated every official-enhanced play as if they had just pulled off the greatest feat in the history of football. They brought shame to the school, the State of Oregon, the NCAA, and anything else they represent. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, who were totally jobbed by the officials and beaten by an inferior Oregon team, handled it with class and aplomb, at least as far as we know at this time. We wouldn't blame them for complaining to the NCAA, for all the good it will do them.

 

If there is any justice in the World, the Ducks will lose all the rest of their games, and hopefully in the same way FSU lost today. In any case, we won't be inviting them to play in the FreshBaked.com® Bowl.

Democrats Recognize Web, GOP Pondering. According to a CBS MarketWatch article, the Democratic convention will issue credentials to some "bloggers", based on "originality, readership level, and professionalism". Not to be outdone, the Republicans say they will allow some, too. It may not seem like much, but most newsworthy events don't consider web-only sites to be "legitimate" news-reporting entities and refuse to issue them credentials. In fact, the trend has been regressing lately, with high profile computer shows like COMDEX turning away web-only sources after admitting them for nearly a decade. At least the political parties are seeing the light in the face of the millions of dollars in revenue their own sites have been generating.
AT&T Must Hire the Stupidest IT People on the Face of the Earth. We all understand that there is a problem with spam, if only due to the sheer volume of it.

We also appreciate the efforts of service providers that block IP addresses that send large volumes of spam to their customers.

What we don't care for are brain-dead, overzealous, ignorant administrators that block perfectly innocent IP addresses because they are the victims of spammers.

Here is the scenario:

Because our address is published in various places around the Internet, some spammers have decided to use it as the "From" address for some of their campaigns. This is actually a very common practice, based on the idea that recipients are more likely to read an email from a recognized or familiar source.

It is also very easy to do - nearly all email packages will allow a sender to change the "From" address.

However, they cannot easily change the IP address from which the offending missive originates.

This is where the ignorance and stupidity at AT&T comes in. Because they have received spam with a "From" address of, say, "spamdevil@FreshBaked.com", someone at AT&T looks up the IP address of FreshBaked.com and adds it to their "blocked list". So, they block perfectly legitimate addresses from sending mail to their customers, while not affecting the spammers one single iota.

But don't take our word for it, do a search for blacklist at&t and you will find literally thousands of complaints from frustrated victims of AT&Ts idiotic policies, including none other than PC Magazines Dan Dvorak, one of the most famous computer flacks on the planet, who says he is dropping his long distance service through AT&T, and recommends every current customer drop their service with the incompetent Telco.

VB.Net 2004 World Tour Worth The Price of Admission. Actually, it was free, but it was hardly a world tour, since the two junior developers from Microsoft were only visiting a dozen or so user groups in the same number of cities. And the product they handed out was labeled 2005 rather than 2004. If you can get past all that, and the pizza and punch sure helped, as did the free T-shirts and the chance of winning one of two pocket PCs for filling out an evaluation form, the information disseminated provided lots of hope for a better development future. Here are some of the highlights:

Around the end of June, 2004, Microsoft will be distributing the VB Power Pack, consisting of a dozen of so new controls for VB.NET. But the big news is that they will also be delivering the source code, so programmers can modify them at will! Some of the notable controls shown were a utility toolbar, a task pane, a color blend panel, and a notification window. There is also the possibility that Microsoft will create an area on their web site where the public can share their modified versions of the Power Pack controls. Check for further developments at the VB Developer Center.

Other features of VB.Net 2005:

Snap lines that make it easier to align controls on forms.

Simplified IDE  that provides more space to work.

Simpler code views that only show the programmers code.

Renamed objects are automatically changed in the code.

New automatic "click once" deployment provides users with automatic updates which include all dependencies like the .Net Framework, ActiveX, databases, etc.

New smart tags allow quicker modifications and additions to controls.

Windows Application Designer makes it easier to set defaults, resources, and other settings for the whole app.

Images and icons to be used on User Interface (UI) can simply be dragged and dropped into the project.

"My" object provides shortcuts for access to properties and methods of the application, computer, forms, resources, user, and Web Services.

New Data Sources Window makes it easier to connect to databases and middleware, display schemas, attach controls and drag and drop the data onto a form, where they are automatically organized neatly. Then the controls attached to the data can be changed and even the bound database can be switched without starting over. Not only that, but the control names mimic the data names rather than being generic like "Text1" and "Listbox2".

Generic collections make it easier to store objects and navigate through them.

Code can be copied and saved as "snippets" for easy reuse. Over 500 pre-written "snippets" will be shipped with the final product!

Jay Roxe and Paul Yuknewicz presented for Microsoft. Thanks to the local MS office and the Denver VB.Net User Group for hosting the event.

 

Don't need this kind of publicity Department

April 5, 2004. Denver-area credit card processing company First Data Corp. was in the news yesterday for facilitating, then correcting double and triple billing of Wal-Mart customers using MasterCard and Visa credit cards last month. They blamed the glitch on a "hardware problem".

We Didn't Do It, Either! Like practically every other web site on the face of the planet, we have heard from users who think we sent them an email containing a virus-infected attachment. Rest assured that we don't send any unsolicited mail to anyone, and even if we did, it would not contain a virus. Virus propagators are dealing with an increasingly sophisticated public by resorting to ever more devious tricks, such as using the names of popular websites and companies, as well as creating emails that look as if they are your own mails being returned. All email users would be very wise not to open any attachments unless they are certain of the contents.

The Denver Post denigrates its Home Town,  Workers and Employers, based on a dubious AOL Survey.  The headline on the February 24, 2004 Business section reads:

"Denver workers unhappy, poll says
City ranks high for stress factors"

(Click here to see the article.) The information used as the source for this article, came from a division of AOL, Digital Marketing Services (DMS), who runs a website in conjunction with American Airlines' frequent flier mileage program, AAdvantage. This website allows users to earn miles by taking surveys, and is heavily promoted on AOL and its partner services, such as Netscape.

An odd thing about this particular survey is that it doesn't appear to be publicly available anywhere on the web.

We weren't able to turn up any references to it using the most popular search engines or by visiting the largest news sites.

Also, most legitimate surveys provide a margin of error.

All we do know about this survey is that it came from DMS, who says the following about their surveys:

"As would be expected, Opinion Place respondents do not match U.S. census demographics exactly, but they represent a very desirable target for marketers. When compared with the census, Opinion Place respondents tend to have higher incomes, are better educated, and are more likely to be between the ages of 25-54.

Our experience includes thousands of custom online studies (10MM+ interviews) for a variety of marketing applications including traditional research (concept testing, awareness & usage studies, ad evaluation, panel applications and forecasting) and online research needs (site evaluation, offer optimization and online ad testing)."

In other words, DMS produces marketing surveys which are intended to be sold to companies for use in selling products. These are not scientific polls by any stretch of the imagination.

The statement about the demographics of their customers has to be viewed with a great deal of skepticism, since it includes no supporting information and is clearly self-serving. Besides, have you ever heard anyone say that AOL users are richer and better educated than any other group?

We also know that out of 138,369,000 workers in the US, DMS polled 5,086 or about 1 in 27,205, which would average out to 46 of Denver's workforce of 1,258,900 (December 2003, Department of Labor).

Of course, they really can't tell you if those people were actually working, or if they reside in the areas they claimed. In fact, they can't verify anything, including whether or not the same person took the survey 5,086 times.

What they do claim is that the survey is heavily skewed, because most of the respondents are AOL users who belong to AAdvantage and belong to particular economic, education, and age groups.

As we all know, for a survey of a small sample to be relevant to a large population, the sample must reflect the same demographics as the population. This one clearly doesn't and is just as clearly bogus. Useless. Misleading. Bunk.

In fact, throwing potatoes into labeled trash cans at fifty feet would consistently yield more accurate results. But don't tell AOL, they may try that next.

Which leads us to wonder why the Denver Post would use such garbage as the basis for an article in the business section.

Not to mention interviewing carefully selected, disgruntled people to support the baseless suppositions of the poll without bothering to present any conflicting opinions.

Worse yet, they identified the unhappy employees, inviting the wrath of their employers.

We don't know what the Denver Post's motto is, but if they claim to be good citizens of their home, or objective, or committed to telling the truth, then they are falling a great deal short of the mark.

You Do The Math! According to the Denver Post, Colorado has lost over 76,000 technology jobs in the past two years. Very few new jobs have been created to replace them. Yet, you might have noticed that there are more computer recruiting and consulting companies than ever before! At the same time, rates being paid to tech employees and consultants have suffered a precipitous decline. So, obviously the third parties are making up their revenue shortfall by increasing the margin between what the business pays and the tech worker receives.

Aside from simply costing the tech worker money on payday, this trend helps to inflate the price in the eyes of hiring businesses, making cost-cutting alternatives such as outsourcing look much more attractive.

Exporting Technology and Jobs in Denver

First, read Jim Fawcette's excellent article called Wal-Mart-ing Software.

Then read Mary Lou Roberts'' article for the iSeries Network: Outsourcing Still a Top Concern of IT Workers.

Then, read this press release by Denver company Evolving Systems.

Another Amazing Product from Sony. Imagine, a $6.50 mini-disk that can hold 45 HOURS of music and play in a tiny Walkman. Unbelievable, but true and available in the U.S. in April.
Save Disney! Join the effort by former directors Roy Disney and Stanley Gold to wrest control of the grand entertainment company from the evil clutches of Michael Eisner and his minions on the board of directors. (Click here)
New Windows XP version coming soon. The Beta of Windows XP Service Pack 2 should be available for download before Christmas, and the consumer version will be shipping in the first half of 2004. With the new Microsoft Windows system over two years away, this will be a substantial upgrade to update technology in the interim, at least according to Steve Ballmer, head of Microsoft. Enhancements to security, Bluetooth and WiFi support, and Media Player are said to be in the Beta version, with more features to be added before the final release.
You can switch phone companies without changing your number soon. Starting November 24, 2003 in the 100 largest U.S. cities, customers will be able to switch their wired phones ("wireline") to cell phones ("wireless") and keep the same phone number, according to a ruling by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued on Monday, November 10, 2003. You will also be able to retain your number when switching wireless carriers after the same date, according to a previous FCC ruling.

The wireline carriers are protesting yesterday's ruling and threatening to sue because there are some restrictions imposed on customers who want to switch from wireless to wireline equipment (as if there would be any).

What this means:

  • You can switch all of your wireline phones to wireless and never miss a call again. (Now do you understand why Cingular keeps running those ads for a device to allow your cell phone to ring on all of your home phones?)

  • Wireless companies will have to do more to retain their existing customers since they will no longer be able to hold your number hostage. This could mean more perks like extra minutes and free phones for loyal customers. T-Mobile is already giving existing customers an extra 15 minutes a week.

  • Wireless companies will also step up their campaigns to gain new customers at the expense of their competitors, resulting in introductory deals, more and better free phones, better plans at lower prices.

  • Prices will probably plummet on wireline phone service since they can't stop you from leaving and taking your phone number with you.