RSS Feed Icon

I replaced the  icon used for RSS feed with  from Bryan Bell.  Thanks to Brian for creating this wonderful icon!  I did shrink the image down a bit so it can line up with the coffee mug icon.  I hope you like it.  Now only if there was a bigger icon for Mail.  I want a red tomato with a mail stuck in it.  BTW, you are welcome to my shrunk version of the icon.

More IBE Info

If my post on Voltage Security peaked your interested in IBE (Identity-Based Encryption), check out O'Reilly interview with Terence Spies (cool last name for a security startup VP ;-), VP of Engineering at Voltage Security.  If you are math-enabled or just want to roll your eyeballs, this page is a good starting point.  BTW, some parts of Voltage's IBE technology is patented.  But this shouldn't surprise anyone since VCs are not likely to invest in a patentless security company.

Twin Tower of Cabbage

We built this twin tower by being lazy with our little patch of cabbages in our backyard.  I don't know when my wife will chop these fine cabbages down, but I thought they looked magnificent enough to be photographed.  Wiggly stuff behind it are cucumbers that demands more moral support than these upstanding cabbages.

Reach for the Sky, My Brave Cabbages!


Tim is playing tricks with DHTML.  I am also doing some DHTML work today for a client.  Strangely enough, I get asked to do this sort of jobs occasionally when there is a lot at stake.  In this instance, this bit of DHTML work will be used by millions of people everyday.  One glitch here and it's gonna mean an avalance of customer complaints.  Actually, it's more than just DHTML.  There are architectural issues that could affect businesses depending on how I solve them.  Still, wrestling JavaScript and DHTML on Sunday is annoying.  Argh.

Popup Blocker Mayhem

No doubt about it, popularity of popup blockers is rising above the ignorable level for those who use it for legitimate reasons.  Google Toolbar and Mozilla/Firebird are two primary causes.  Content-rich services like AOL, MSN, and Yahoo are likely to add fuel to the fire with controlled popup blocking which will block everyone else's but their own and their partner's.

While I hate annoying popup ads like everyone else, I feel that blocking all popups amounts to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  Popup is a very useful tool in UI designer's toolbox and it would be a shame to lose it or resort to using complicated pseudo-popups, artifacts that just looks like a popup window.

For now, I am advising everyone to avoid using popups until we can find a cheap solution.  One solution I am looking at now is the use of copyright law to discourage use of popups for advertising by businesses.  The idea is simple:

Copyright and restrict use of a unique string or image that popup blockers can use to recognize legitimate popups.

The ultimate cause of popup ads is money.  And, where there is money, there is usually someone who can be sued.  While I hate unnecessary litigations, I prefer simple social solutions to complicated technical solutions.  There is a major flaw in this solution though.  There is no powerful industry association like RIAA to stab the legal jeopardy straight into the heart of popup advertisers.

Blog Dinner at Premier Pizza with Pictures

Just got back from the dinner.  I got there late because I thought it was at River Oaks location.  Since I don't usually carry a cellphone nor a mobile device these days — long story, short version is I got tired of the weight — I was stumped.  Following Sherlock Homes' example, I was able to deduce that it was nearby and on the same main road.  So I was able to find the right Premier Pizza.  Hey, I was a little proud of myself.

Scoble, Marc, Dave, and others were sitting outside having a lively conversation.  Scoble's son and Marc's daughter was there also.  It was fun.  Thanks to Scoble for picking up the tab.  Afterward, we went around the corner and had some Cold Stone ice cream.  Very tasty, but also very slow.  I also danced a little with Mimi.  I wish I had a daughter like her.

I'll post the photos tommorrow because I still got some work to do.

Update #1: The pictures are HERE.

Psychological Passwords

I used to visit Microsoft Research site regularly because they had some really interesting papers and projects there.  Since blogging, I haven't been back (blogging sucked up all my spare time), but thanks to some .NET bloggers aggregated at, I found these two great papers.

Is It Just My Imagination? by Suzanne Ross

Suzanne describes a way to use inkblots, meaningless smears of ink psychologists use, as visual hints to evoke passwords.  In a way, this technique is somewhere between what you know and who you are.  Cool.  This is how it works.  Show users a series of computer generated inkblots and collect their responses.  From each response, take the first letter of the first word and last letter of the last word.

sad angel

Neat idea.  I spent a great deal of time thinking about visual passwords and this paper's psychological angle was like a fresh breath of air for me.  Unless I read it wrong, Suzanne seems to be recommending ten inkblots for both password generation and verification to get 20 character password.  I think that is too much for verification phase.  I would, instead, show fewer but random squence of those ten inkblots.

While I can see many possible problems with inkblot scheme, one-track mind for example, but the core idea is interesting and worth further studies.

Thanks to Frans Bouma

Distributed Computing Economics by Jim Gray

Yup.  That is Jim "Transaction" Gray, whose thick book sits prominently on my bookshelf.  There are many books I regret buying and his is not one of them.  In this paper, Jim talks about the cost of computing and how it affects where location of computing.  Good read.

Thanks to Randy Holloway.

How To Forget

While most psychologists approach the topic of Forgetting from negative perspective, meaning they try to find ways to minimize forgetfulness, I have discovered the need to forget early on because I am extremely sensitive by nature.  If I don't appear to be, it's because I am buried under all the psychological armor I have collected over the years.

Forgetting is not just difficult, it is near impossible.  Most troublesome is the visual memory because we can easily and even accidentally imagine.  Can you imagine the smell of great coffee, taste of pizza, or sound of glass breaking?  Most people can't, so those senses are not likely to trigger memory.  Which leaves the visually triggered memory.

The idea is to find a way to prevent certain images from triggering unwanted memory.  Here is the technique I found that works for me.  Conjure the image that triggers memory you want to forget.  Follow it immediately with an image of white wall, black board, or whatever image that suits you.  Repeat as often as necessary.

Next time you accidentally conjure the image, the other image will follow immediately and prevent associated memory from surfacing.  Ain't it cool how human mind works?  It's like a monkey with short attention span at this level and you can easily play dumb tricks like this with it.

I have discovered that there are some unfortunate side-effects though.  Particularly, you'll occasionally experience the mental equivalent of flipping over two pages of a book stuck together.  I don't mind it so much, but you might.

Talking about just technical stuff is boring to me, so please bear with me even if you are alergic to this sort of posts.  If you can put up with Tim's roses, you can put up with this.  Hey, you might even get addicted!