09 November 2007

Version Tracker review - better luck with next version

I've been planning theme based posting for a while so here we go,
first theme PC maintenance

If you use your PC regularly you will sooner or later end up with a bunch of programs, utilities, drivers that needs updating.

Recently I thought I would step up on my PC-maintenance, considering how much I use it - so a years subscription to versiontracker for $29.95 seems a bargain.

Versiontracker are supposed to keep your alerted and help you update drivers and software installed on your PC.

Short version - versiontracker is not worth it's price

My expectations were

  • Ability to be alerted about drivers to be updated

    Works partly, some of the driverlinks listed in versiontracker did not work or in one case the drivers were for wrong version (vista only and not XP)

    I strongly suspect that quite some drivers were not identified at all ... see next item

  • Ability to be alerted about updates to my software

    Works less than partly, less than 50% of software installed were recognised (I did not spend time calculating the exact figure - but versiontracker missed a lot of my installation).

Basic expectations from the claims made on the site, but even worse I find the lack of support and attention to feedback.

  • I alerted versiontracker that they link to a scamsite for the excellent freeware EasyCleaner, scamsite is a total ripoff the original site trying to charge money for the software - no reaction or update to links from versiontracker a month later.

    You find the real free EasyCleaner website here (tool for cleaning up registry, unnecessary files and more)

  • Some version are listed incorrect by versiontracker, either wrongly identified on PC or newer version available - again, it appear versiontracker pay no or very slow attention to feedback.

    I acknowledge it can be difficult to identify correct version all the time, but response to feedback should be better.

The new version 4.0 might be better, but as it crashed on first scan of my PC I had to revert back to version 3.6.1.

Apparently I'm not alone about being disappointed, feedback and review on versiontracker site for versiontracker are in the very low end !

My recommendation

Grab the free download of versiontracker with a one time scan of PC included - update what versiontracker happens to find and move on ....

To bad - better executed the software and service could be a huge success

BTW, better executed means
  1. Recognise more of installed software
  2. Detect versions better
  3. React to feedback !, update version and links, might even consider a "thank you" mail and "update done" mail too !
  4. Ability to ignore beta version as a global option or for a specific software installation
Version Tracker Review verdict: 2 out of 5

08 October 2007

Google analytics Conversion University

Analytics tips on you tube from google - great !

06 August 2007

PwdHash - One password to rule them all

So little time - so many sites which need a password when you (have to) register yourself.

Admit it, you use the same password for different sites - don't you ?!, and if possible the same (set of) user-id's

Well, same password on different sites are not a good idea, each time you register yourself there's an increasing possibility the security on one of the sites will be comprised and a hacker obtain access to your password and user-id ......... and with those leaked there's free access to try them out everywhere else.

PwdHash - a password encryption plugin from Standford security lab solves this problem

PwdHash takes your password combines it with url for the website and generates a unique hashed password for each website from the same master password.

With PwdHash you can use the same initial password for different sites and let pwdHash generate the final unique password

Illustration of how PwdHash enhances the security by generating a unique password for each website from the same user-password

"PwdHash is an browser extension that transparently converts a user's password into a domain-specific password. The user can activate this hashing by choosing passwords that start with a special prefix (@@) or by pressing a special password key (F2). PwdHash automatically replaces the contents of these password fields with a one-way hash of the pair (password, domain-name). As a result, the site only sees a domain-specific hash of the password, as opposed to the password itself. A break-in at a low security site exposes password hashes rather than an actual password. We emphasize that the hash function we use is public and can be computed on any machine which enables users to login to their web accounts from any machine in the world. Hashing is done using a Pseudo Random Function (PRF)."

It's not a solve all solution - your master password must not be given out, otherwise it would be possible for another person to use the PwdHash algoritm and compute the hashed password

I guess a simple solution and improvement to PwdHash would be to add a user configuration for PwdHash, with the option to provide a unique randomizing factor to the algoritm, e.g. a string (sentence) entered by the user at installation time.

Final advice; Don't use only one master password - use a minimum of 2 or 3
  1. One password + PwdHash for newsletter and website registration
  2. Another password + PwdHash for website that have your creditcard on detail (e.g. amazon, phonecompany etc.)
  3. A third password + PwdHash for the most critical places (e.g bank account, paypal etc.)
Idea is to differentiate between websites without financial info (class 1) and those with financial info (class 2 and 3).
For websites belonging to class 2 and 3 you do not use auto-login or remember password features and even more carefully about the master password.

Hey, that's only 2 or 3 password to remember !

Get PwdHash - the password encryption plugin from Standford security lab

Review verdict: 4 keyholes out of 5

It works !, though missing the ability to add an individual hashing factor to the algoritm

May your password(s) be with you !

Liked this post ?! - check out other post about extensions

05 August 2007

Lorem Ipsum generator

Lorem Ipsum
Originally uploaded by hjortholm

Ever wondered about the Lorem Ipsum text used in templates and demo's ?!

Lorem Ipsum is simply the dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry, the purpose is to provide a text acting as pure place holder, demonstrating the graphical elements of a document or visual presentation, such as font, typography and layout without distracting attention from the overall look and feel.

Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged .......

You find a good Lorem Ipsum generator at www.lipsum.com together with some interesting background information about Lorem Ipsum you can impress your diner date with (or maybe not).

Lorem Ipsum comes from a book about the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC.

Anyway, the Lorem Ipsum webservice above uses a dictionary of over 200 Latin words, combined with a handful of model sentence structures, to generate Lorem Ipsum which looks reasonable - ready to grab and copy into your web template.

04 August 2007

Group brainstorming is a good idea - when done right

Marc Andreessen quote Frans Johansson's book "The Medici Effect" citing group brainstorming are no more effective that working alone .... Well, I've read "The Medici Effect" and lot of other books related to innovation - and did disagree with "The Medici Effect" on that point back then and still does

Sidenote: had a one-year assignment at my work, being a part of a group intended to help improve innovation in company, I were a part of the 12-person team chosen partly because I privately had spend quite some time diving into innovation theory and tools - what my (still partial) booklist at librarything somewhat shows

Anyway, this research paper "A review om brainstorming research" review 50 study related to brainstorming, among those the study reference in "The Medici Effect" noting the study have been misused quite a lot as argument for not doing group brainstorming.

Most research haven't followed the original guidelines for brainstorming, among those the need for a trained facilitator, some training and preparation for the group, different kind of experiences in the group and more ..... also noting that group brainstorming were originally suggested as a tool together with individual work

The above finding match my own empirical experience developing an innovation workshop and conduction brainstorming sessions; brainstorming group should cover different angles of subject area - facilitated by a person skilled in method and tools for brainstorming.

I'll do the exploration workshop we developed any time and guarantee we end up with better result brainstorming together compared with working alone.

How flat is the world ? Very flat!

Just finished watching a MIT lecture with Thomas L. Friedman, author of "the world is flat", entertaining, enjoyable and thought provoking video, loved the closing remark "export hope - not fear" as response to how to keep an open flat world society secure.

The world is flat
It is a flat world !, looking at my own life;

A friend of mine need some drawings for a book, I suggested posting the gig at Elance - turns out the the estimated cost will be around 30% compared to getting the work done here in Denmark.

My company have started outsourcing software maintenance to India.

Bought myself a meizu mp3-player at Ebay (none available at amazon at that time), delivered from Hong Kong ! - the sound rocks, much better than the iPod nano.

Ordered some hard to obtain books recently via Abebooks, delivered from india.

I'm currently working on launching a website, it's based on a open source framework - baseprice zero.
I might need some add-ons and some additional tools, but will be able to go live for less than 700 Euro.
Royaltyfree photo bought at iStockphoto, icons either bought or obtained free at IconBuffet


02 August 2007

Gapminder/trendanalyzer coming to google analytics

well, at least I hope

After seeing this TED talk by Hans Rosling on "Debunking third-world myths with the best stats you've ever seen" - I would love to get access to this kind of visualisation tool.

Gapminder's Trendalyzer software and team got acquired by google in march 2007 - I think they made a very wise investment there.

Update march 2008: Gapminder Trendanalyzer availabe in limited form in Google docs (spreadsheets) and as a gadget - check this updated post about Gapminder's Trendanalyzer in Google clothing.

01 August 2007

Speed up your web pages with YSlow

Found Yslow via Yahoo developer network;

YSlow analyzes web pages and tells you why they're slow based on the rules for high performance web sites. YSlow is a Firefox add-on integrated with the popular Firebug web development tool. YSlow gives you:

  • Performance report card
  • HTTP/HTML summary
  • List of components in the page
  • Tools including JSLint
Yslow takes the guessing out of the performance equation, help you optimize the overall performance for your website and reduce page load time.

31 July 2007

Something Harry Potterish about Ruby and rails

Joe think there's nothing magic about ruby or rails and references an earlier post comparing google trends for ruby on rails with Django.

Well, I'll say there might not be magic but steady growth around rails !
Revisiting the google trend page it seems very clear rubyonrails are gaining ground in 2007, what Oreilley bookstats 1Q2007 compared with 1Q2006 also indicates.

Ruby currently #10 on Tiobe programming index up from #17 same time last year

So, programmers-wannabe .... ruby on rails would be a good framework and language to learn

25 July 2007

social network software review

Techcrunch made a good review of social network software, pleased to see Ning ranked as #1. I spotted Ning quite sometime ago and have plans with it

feedburner and feedflare

sigh, lot of stuff to do with a new blog;

Added feedburner and feedflare to the customizations, together with google analytics I think this should cover the basics regarding subscriptions and statistics - do like Google more and more with all the free stuff available

Note: adding tag admin trivia to these post, should make it easy to do a catch up post later describing all the basic steps for a new blog

301 redirect with htaccess

added a .htaccess file with 301 redirect from my old blogurl to this place

Redirect 301 /blog/index.htm http://edgecrafting.blogspot.com/
Redirect 301 /blog/ http://edgecrafting.blogspot.com/

Since blogspot-hosting uses suffix html I had to add an explicit redirect for the index.htm page - should make the spiders happy

BBC Berkshire: Flood Map

BBC Berkshire: Flood Map - situation report on google maps, with user-contributed pictures/videos.
When the next generation of camera's with support for gps/geo tagging hits mainstream we will probably see things like this a lot more - until then a low cost software solution for geotagging would be robogeo for $39.95.
Adding robogeo to my to-buy list.

24 July 2007

claiming this blog on tecnorati

admin trivia - claiming this blog on technorati by posting this link to my Technorati Profile

Giving me a Technorati Rank of: 7,948,749 ......... beginning the climb up the ladder :)

recaptcha or Captcha meet wisdom-of-crowds

Got a beta invite to polarrose ("The Polar Rose browser plugin lets you discover who's in any public photo") and got sidetracked by a link while reading the polarrose blog to recaptcha.net

Love the idea behind reCaptcha, the service generates Captcha's from failed OCR at the internet archive;

"eCAPTCHA improves the process of digitizing books by sending words that cannot be read by computers to the Web in the form of CAPTCHAs for humans to decipher. More specifically, each word that cannot be read correctly by OCR is placed on an image and used as a CAPTCHA. This is possible because most OCR programs alert you when a word cannot be read correctly."

Apparently reCaptcha were conceived by Luis von Ahn who also happens to be the man behind Google Image labeler.

I've registered an account at recaptcha.net and will definitely use this service on a forthcoming website I'm working on.

reCaptcha offers a free captcha email protection service also at mailhide.recaptcha.net. Think I will reCaptha my email adresses instead of using this javascript email address obscuring script from projecthoneypot

Note, did find the audio version of reCaptcha a bit difficult to hear ...... glad I can read

Great example of utilizing wisdom-of-crowds to provide a real service. Nice tagline they got "stop spam - read books"

The polarrose service I'll blog about when I've got time to play around with the service

yet another blog start up

Hip Hurray - finally found time to set up this blogger account .... time will show whether it will be read by anyone else but me and few friends