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Comment Bad IT Dept doesn't know how to setup Exchange (Score 5, Insightful) 349

Your explanation for setting up ActiveSync means the account you have is connected by an incompetent IT department.

Setting up an Android or an iPhone for Exchange needs only an email address and a password. There are at least 3 different means by which Autodiscover can be configured to take care of client device configuration. If your IT dept can't figure that out, what makes you think a BES server is within their capacity to manage?

Your shrill denunciation of SSL and the assumption that users are too stupid to use a password seems almost self-denigrating. You don't use SSL in any web app? You can't remember your corporate credentials? The iPhone might be too complicated for you.....

Finally, we see the issue - you have a phone you don' t like, so it must be someone else's fault. The phone you did like was designed and built by a company so incompetent they self-destructed. It must be someone else's fault. I'm starting to see a pattern here....

Brian in CA

Comment Re:Eh? (Score 1) 352

professors in the field of education tend to be some of the greatest contributors to the various scientific fields

Can you please point to the big research universities that do NOT accept Federal funding? Where do you think all that grant money comes from?

Are you implying that there is no political bias in university research? Or just in the education departments of said universities?

Politics is an inherent component of human endeavor, we just aren't used to seeing such ham-fisted approaches as used by the incumbent Canadian government. The US Gov't has a lot more experience channeling research results into the harness of political imperatives WITHOUT getting caught doing same.

Brian in CA

Comment Re:In honor of Programmer's Day (Score 2, Insightful) 306

No doubt things were bad in Russia, but the Bolsheviks were not the ones with the solutions. There were lots of pro-democracy and moderate socialists who on the rise before the Bolsheviks seized power. Those were the ones who could have turned Russia's industrial revolution into a good thing, but Lenin (and later Stalin) basically had them killed and exiled. To say that the Bolsheviks were the champions of workers welfare is just crazy. :)

Comment This is against the Law. (Score 1) 128

Wiretapping is against the law and should not be allowed on your line without a warrant. I quote from the fourth amendment "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Comment Re:Real Reason for the Law (Score 1) 91

I didn't know all of that but I did know most. And some I know to be wrong.

There's no law that says your election poster must be vapid. Indeed, wingnut candidates (stereo)typically use the space to say what they believe or why you should vote for them, rather than using it to show their neat hairstyle, improbably white teeth, and (until very recently) white gloves. It could be that mainstream parties now think that text of any kind beyond a mere sentence or two carries fatal connotations of wingnuttery. I suspect that they avoid it for another reason: that if they go on for more than a couple of sentences they will risk either being conspicuously vapid or saying something substantive with which some potential voters might actually [get ready for it] disagree.

Likewise there's no rule forcing you to drive around in a truck uttering inanities ("Good morning, everyone! Good morning! This is Tanaka! I humbly beg you to think well of me! This is Tanaka") while nubile females sit and wave for X thousand yen per hour. You can instead stand in one place and say things that at least sound as if they're worth saying. (Tip: You'll never go wrong saying that North Korea stole innocent Japanese people who must never be forgotten, and that that regime it is very dangerous and must be treated with great care. Or by saying that you're in favor of a green tomorrow in which both the young and old will be well cared for.)

But you're right: laws prevent work on websites and severely hinder any attempt to campaign intelligently. One cynical inference is that this is deliberate: the party that has been in near complete control of legislation for decades has had nothing to gain from political education and vigorous public debate.

Comment Re:A Familiar Tune from Facebook (Score 1) 370

Facebook is foolish; I just got a small setup in from Rackable for a client of mine. Spendy, but very well done, it will be cheap to keep over the next 3 years. Great pre-sales support, great install support, complete power and heat profile up front, and 50% more $$$ up front than a generic Dell rack system. Considering the track record of Dell for this same client over the last 8 years, the client will be $$$ ahead in less than 18 months. We just downsized the cooling system for the server room (!!!!) and the double redundant 48V power system is the bomb. I don't dig the SGI rebranding, but the Rackable folks know their stuff.

It sounds as if Facebook feels entitled to loudly complain in order to get free/promo hardware. I guess Rackable wouldn't front them a couple of the ICE datacenter modules. Losing customers like Facebook sounds like a win.

Brian in CA


Submission + - WinXP, Office 2003 Evolve, Updates Semi-Retired 1

nandemoari writes: Microsoft recently announced that April 14, 2009 will mark the beginning of its "phase out" process for the Office 2003 productivity suite and the Windows XP operating system; two cornerstone programs that will be forced into semiretirement so that more resources can be used towards newer products. The lifespan of a Microsoft product is dependent on the amount of time and involvement the company allocates when implementing security updates, patches, and similar.

Comment Re:Isn't this something Unix solved decades ago? (Score 1) 904

Don't you have a modern mobility enabled workforce? The majority of users at my client sites use notebooks, and Windows XP/Vista with Offline Files is indispensable, along with Outlook in Cached Mode. Nice to think you can run everything off an NFS mount in a call center, but that ain't even remotely the end all be all (get it, remotely?).

Group Policies are one of the many great things about AD, regardless of what those ignorant of the real-life applications may say.

As for the huge number of apps that don't run correctly if you're not admin equivalent, welcome to 2009, things have changed quite a bit in the last 10 years. Would that you could say the same for Linux on the desktop.

Brian in CA


Submission + - What Microsoft thinks of it's partners.

Mark Weale writes: "The company I work for are part of the Microsoft Partnership scheme. My colleague was about to login to the partnership area of Microsofts website but was greeted with and amused by the login area ( Clicky Link! ). In case you do not spot it, take a look at the 'match the characters in the picture' image."

Submission + - Is your website banned in China?

tcd004 writes: "Is your site banned in China? FP Passport recently profiled a new online service,, which tests any website from a server based inside the Middle Kingdom, and reports back whether or not the page is available. Passport also notes that the Great Firewall reveals Chinese censorship whittles down websites to block out individual pages, instead of always applying a site-wide block. The site keeps a running log of each test so Censorship trends over time can be easily tracked."

Submission + - Dell to build mobile phones?

An anonymous reader writes: Just days after Dell poached Motorola's handset guru, Ron Garriques, speculation is growing that the company is planning to enter the mobile space. has an article discussing this.

Submission + - German Anti-terror Data Law Starts Tomorrow

narramissic writes: "A German law allowing security officials to amass an enormous and comprehensive pool of personal data on suspected terrorists is to begin Thursday. The databases of nearly 40 different agencies will be linked to generate index files on suspected terrorists that contain the person's name, bank account number, telephone number, e-mail address, driver's license information and other data, including the names of companies, organizations and other parties associated with the person and linked to terrorist groups."

Submission + - MySQL Cookbook

Michael J. Ross writes: "Of all the technical challenges faced by the typical experienced computer programmer, questions about syntax form a relatively small portion. This is especially true now that current coding editors and IDEs offer statement expansion and syntax checking. Rather, the most common type of technical challenge is understanding how to solve a specific data access or manipulation problem. Hence the growing popularity of programming "cookbooks," which are filled with "recipes," each comprising a concise statement of a focused problem, followed by a solution, with plenty of sample code to show how to implement it. For developers using the MySQL database system, the gold standard of such books is MySQL Cookbook, by Paul DuBois.

Published by O'Reilly Media, the second edition appeared in November 2006, under the ISBN-10 of 059652708X and the ISBN-13 of 978-0596527082. This new edition has been updated for MySQL version 5.0. The publishers have a Web page devoted to the book, where the visitor can find both brief and full descriptions of the book, an online table of contents and index, a sample chapter (number 5, "Working with Strings") in PDF format, errata (none reported as of this writing), and a way to post your own review on the O'Reilly Web site. There are also links for purchasing the book, or reading an online version, in the Safari Bookshelf program.

The bulk of the book's material is divided among 20 chapters, covering a wide range of topics: Using the mysql Client Program; Writing MySQL-Based Programs; Selecting Data from Tables; Table Management; Working with Strings; Working with Dates and Times; Sorting Query Results; Generating Summaries; Obtaining and Using Metadata; Importing and Exporting Data; Generating and Using Sequences; Using Multiple Tables; Statistical Techniques; Handling Duplicates; Performing Transactions; Using Stored Procedures, Triggers, and Events; Introduction to MySQL on the Web; Incorporating Query Results into Web Pages; Processing Web Input with MySQL; Using MySQL-Based Web Session Management.

Most of these chapters contain a generous number of sections, each serving as a recipe for a specific problem within MySQL. Two of the chapters have only four such recipes, but most have a dozen or more, with a few of them boasting more than three dozen recipes. Each recipe begins with a brief problem statement, and usually an equally brief solution statement, followed by a much more lengthy discussion, which contains the actual explanation of the solution, the sample code, and the expected output of that code. Some of the sections conclude with a mention of related recipes that could also be consulted.

This book, like so many other programming cookbooks, is weakened by the practice of offering a "Solution" subsection that consists of only one or two sentences — so terse and high-level that it provides, for all practical purposes, no solution to the reader. The actual solution is found in the "Discussion" subsection, which follows. This practice makes no sense. Because both subsections address the problem solution, they should be combined into a single subsection, naturally labeled "Solution." It appears that the purpose of the current Solution statements is to provide a terse summary. If so, then it should be labeled as such, yet still included within the new Solution subsection.

Despite this illogical division of each solution into two subsections, the content of the problem solutions found in MySQL Cookbook should be quite valuable, for several reasons: Firstly, the author has chosen the sorts of problems, within each category, that the MySQL programmer would typically encounter. No doubt this is a consequence of Paul DuBois being the author of a number of MySQL books, as well as one of the earliest contributors to the online MySQL Reference Manual. Secondly, the solutions work, and have been demonstrated to do so. Thirdly, the writing style is straightforward, which is characteristic of O'Reilly's titles. Fourthly, all of the problem solutions contain sample code and its output, which not only demonstrate the validity of each solution (as noted in my second point), but also allows the reader to see how the solution works simply by reading the material, and not having to type in the sample code to get the output within their own development environment — assuming one is even at hand, when reading the book.

The bulk of MySQL-related code in use today, was created not just to be accessed within a database client program, such as mysql, but instead from interpreted programming languages — especially those used heavily on Web sites. This is one area where MySQL Cookbook really shines, because it contains a large amount of sample code in Perl, PHP, Python, Java, and even Ruby. That is not to say that every code sample in one language has corresponding samples for all of the other languages; that would undoubtedly make the book much longer than it currently is, and probably unwieldy. But in cases where all of the languages are capable of expressing brief solutions, then they are included.

Regardless of whether the reader chooses the print or online versions, there are roughly two ways to make use of this book. If a programmer wishes to significantly increase their knowledge of what MySQL can do for them, and also increase their comfort level with utilizing those capabilities, then they might elect to read the book from stem to stern. Given that this would involve reading over 900 pages, it would certainly take some time for the average developer, but arguably could be time well spent. At the other end of the spectrum, the reader might elect to peruse individual sections that look interesting — particularly if they are relevant to a current project. This approach is certainly doable, because each of the recipes is self-contained, without the cross-referencing seen in many non-recipe style books. Admittedly, there are some "See Also" sections, but they are relatively few in number, with largely optional information, and tend to simply enrich the book's presentation, rather than frustrating the reader by pointing to other areas of the book.

This new edition of MySQL Cookbook concludes with four appendices, and an index. The first appendix explains where to obtain the software for MySQL, the five API programming languages used in the book, and the Apache Web server. The second appendix shows how to execute programs written in those five interface languages, on the command line. The third appendix is a fairly substantial primer on Java Server Pages (JSP) and Tomcat, providing an overview of servlets and JSP, as well as how to install and set up a Tomcat server, the Tomcat directory structure, the basics of JSP pages, and more. The last appendix lists resources outside the book for MySQL and the five aforementioned languages.

Unlike far too many programming books on the market now, this book's index is generally quite thorough, which is essential for a work of this size (975 pages). The recipe titles in the table of contents, are detailed enough to make it possible for the reader to locate the appropriate recipe in the book for their particular problem — assuming the book addresses that problem — and are grouped by subject, making it easier to find related recipes, which oftentimes can provide insight into other problems that they do not address directly.

Despite the obvious effort that has gone into both editions of this book, there are still some areas for improvement, and most of them are related to the readability of the sample code. Admittedly, there are different schools of thought as to optimal coding style, including use of whitespace, the placement of braces, and other matters. This assessment can only be my own opinion, based upon years of reading other people's code. The sample code in MySQL Cookbook would be more readable if more whitespace were utilized to separate function and variable names from open and close parentheses. This is especially true for the SQL code and MySQL extensions, for which all of the keywords are in all uppercase. The code fragments and full programs written in the API languages — such as Perl and PHP — are more readable, though they sometimes suffer from nondescriptive variable names. One might argue that the aforesaid choices are needed to cut down on the space consumed by the code on the book's pages. But if that were true, then the author likely would not have wasted an entire line for each open brace. Last, and certainly not least for the programmer who would like to try out the author's sample code in their own environment, it is unfortunate and inexplicable as to why the sample code is not offered on the O'Reilly Web site for downloading.

All in all, MySQL Cookbook is a well-organized and neatly written work, which should be of tremendous value to any software developer trying to find proven solutions to common database programming problems.

Michael J. Ross is a Web consultant, freelance writer, and the editor of's free newsletter. He can be reached at, hosted by SiteGround."

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