WinFS is a Database Platform

Samuel Druker the Microsoft Development Lead for WinFS speaks on Channel 9 in video and in the threads about how WinFS will mean much more than simply full-text searching. (via Philipp Lenssen)

Quotes from Samuel regarding WinFS differences with respect to the current crop of Personal Search Tools:

X1 (and enfish and lookout) do the job for full-text search on the stuff they know about in the particular application they support. However, WinFS is a database platform. As I said in the other video, it’s a storage platform. Developers write new apps, those apps use schemas to describe the user’s data and rely on the system repository to hold those items. Full-text search is just one thing that you can build on that. Much more important, IMO, is what the database guys call query and relations.”

“As for Quicksilver, I can’t stress the non-comparison enough. WinFS is a development platform for persistent storage. It is not just a search tool for files, it is not just a relational database shoehorned into an OS. It is a full-fledged platform component.”

Revamped MSN Search (soon)

My buddy Martin over at BA-Insight (who incidentally kicked-off a great new blog on enterprise search) sent me a link to this article on CNET about comments Bill Gates made during a media briefing in Sydney Australia regarding the new revamped MSN Search capabilities Microsoft is set to release in July. Here are some interesting yet not surprising quotes from the article.

“Microsoft’s chairman told a media briefing here that the company had “several milestones with its search site” on the way.”

“In July, the format of the site will change–and so will the quality of what you get–and the way it’ll look is dramatically improved,” Gates said. “It’ll be later this year that we actually roll out what’s entirely our own back-end driving the search”.

Microsoft had been doing linguistic research for more than a decade that “actually lets us parse and understand documents,” he said. “That’s where you can bring in the idea: Don’t show this person a restaurant if it’s not nearby (or) don’t show this person something about…potato chips if they mean computer chips.”

“Gates said the future of search includes personalization, understanding local information and having the ability to analyze semantics of a document, browse databases and attach domain knowledge.”

Billy G’s Blog

The Seattle Times has an article saying Bill Gates may become a blogger (via Anil).

“Yes, the world’s richest man may start his own blog, one of those online diaries that have been the rage among techies for the past three or four years.”

As funny as it is to think of a secret Bill Gates Blog, I think it also sends a clear message to corporations at large that there’s viability in utilizing blogging to connect with customers, partners and employees.

Indeed, there’s nothing new here and MSFT is well known for coming late to the party, but when they do arrive, they make a strong showing. Even without the latest Billy Blog rumor, the visibility of a MSFT Blogging initiative is evident in the ever-growing list of Microsoft Bloggers.

Broadband Syndication Synergies and P2P

Today, there was a /. post about a new MythTV plug-in called Torrentocracy that extends the included MythNews RSS Aggregator to support RSS Enclosures and Bit Torrent.

Torrentocracy is not the first to mesh RSS Enclosures, Bit Torrent and PVRs.

In fact, NewsGator released NewsGator Media Center Edition back in April and two weeks ago, Ray Slakinski’s Nucleus application, which can be used in a similar way on just about any environment.

I’ll definitely give Torrentocracy a test on my STeVo. However, what I’ve been thinking about is the next iteration of these tools…

For example, given the integration with PVRs, it seems fairly logical that the next adaptation will enable the sharing of your recorded shows back out to the Bit Torrent and/or other P2P networks.

This greases the wheel, considerably, on sharing digital media en mass. Whereby the Cable TV networks become top node distribution points, seeding the P2P networks with current content and built-in redundancy.

Wow! Things could get interesting…

History however, with respect to the fear and customer loathing that runs amuck in the music industry, has told us that the big media companies will, no doubt, try to stop this “potentially” illegal activity at its inception.

The sad thing is that they are not seeing that these options are driven by customer demand (or IMHO customer innovation) and not by a couple of 15 year old kids looking for a quick way to get porn.

I surely hope I’m wrong. Perhaps the big media companies have seen the writing on the wall with the fanaticism around time-shifting media boxes such as the TiVo. But then again the legal bullying is already in-play against ReplyTV after they included a sharing feature back in 2001.

There has to be a common ground!

Posted in PVR

Blinkx Contextual Search

Om Malik praises the new contextual desktop search tool called Blinkx, which is currently available in a downloadable beta client as well as a web only interface.

Om goes on to cite some attractive examples such as…

“BlinkX is all about contextual search…Say you are reading through a big Microsoft Word document… the BlinkX bar at the top of the page, will retrieve relevant news item links with brief summaries… The software basically reads the entire document and builds a contextual link database on the fly.”

There’s certainly a tremendous buzz in the desktop/personal search category, with the likes of MSFT, Google, Ask Jeeves and many others all gunning for the space.

I’m not sure where it’s all going, but for me it’s great because I’m a sucker to test these tools. I currently have X1, Grokker 2, Lookout and now Blinkx installed on my system.

So far, Lookout is the one I use almost exclusively. Due in part to its focus on searching Outlook, but I also found its interface and indexer to be unobtrusive. Oh and it’s very fast!

Although, after only a few minutes of using BlinkX, I can see how the contextual search feature is addictive (whether that’s good or bad, I don’t know).

Earning Money without Patients

Granted it has been a 15 year vesting period and the payout is a partly $1.2 million or E1 million in comparison to other web pioneers, but Tim Berners-Lee finally gets his due with the Millennium Technology Prize from the Finnish Technology Award Foundation.

Great quotes: “Rather than patenting his idea for the World Wide Web, Berners-Lee and colleague Robert Cailliau, working at CERN (the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva), insisted on a license-free technology. If they hadn’t, Berners-Lee says, the Web wouldn’t be the interoperable linkup that it is. “There would have been a CERN Web, a Microsoft one, there would have been a Digital one, AppleÂ’s HyperCard would have started reaching out Internet roots,” he said. “And all of these things would have been incompatible.” (links via MIT Technology Review and Scripting News)

BitTorrent While You Sleep

Ray Slakinski put together a wicked little Python application called Nucleus, which will monitor a BitTorrent Tracker RSS file for .torrent files that match a series of keywords.

Once a match is found, the file is queued for download.

Using cron or the Windows Scheduler, you can program Nucleus to fire in the middle of the night downloading while you sleep :-)

In Ray’s example, he is using it to grab TV shows, but I suppose you can use it to grab any .torrent file — assuming of course that your tracker of choice has an RSS feed.

I’ve tested it from the command line under Debian and it worked well. Although I’m still having some problems getting it to run via crontab, but that’s on my end.

Ray is actively adding to Nucleus and I’m sure he’d appreciate your help.

Digital Photography Composition Tips

Another Photography-related link found via /. points to a recent post on the Digital Photography Blog where they have assembled a collection of Photography Composition Tips found on the net.

Most of these are obvious to the professional photographer, but being that I’m not, I found many of the tips helpful.

Like for example, these tips on taking night or low-light digital photographs. (which, BTW makes me want to apply the Firmware Hack to my D300 so I can “enable” ISO 3200 ;-)

As an aside, spidergoat2 posted by on /. an astute observation…

“People with spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on technology like PCÂ’s, cameras, software, etc., but wonÂ’t spend $15 on a book about how to use it.”

Ahh, come-on, everyone knows that Geeks don’t RTFM :-)

Canon EOS-300D Firmware Hack

UPDATE: June, 16 2004: New beta version B7.1: download here

Yesterday the news of the Russian Canon EOS-300D Firmware Hack hit /.

Spurred largely due to the 300D’s similarities with the 10D, rumors of the potential for hacks have been widely discussed in the forums on DPreview.

I’ve been passively following the 300D firmware hacks for weeks to get the skinny.

Yet I’m still on-the-fence with regard to installing a hacked firmeware upgrade due to the fact that it will void my warranty.

On the plus side however, the 300D firmware hack “enables” Flash Compensation, ISO 3200 and Mirror Lock, among others, which are exceedingly tempting.

Hmmm… Tempting indeed.

I can always revert back to the Canon OEM firmware — Assuming of course that the camera still functions.

As an aside; found via the /. thread, was a link to Liem’s Digital Rebel Tricks, which provides excellent details about the Russian Firmware hack as well as a number of other useful tricks…

Such as my personal favorite…

A Windows XP Registry Hack that turns the THM files that accompany Cannon’s RAW (CRW) images files into picture previews viewable in the Windows shell. Nice!

Comment Spamming: Pointless Practice

I couldn’t take it anymore! Last night I took Burningbird’s suggestion and turned-off commenting on any post older than 30 days. I may turn commenting off entirely if this weekend is any indication of the logarithmic growth in comment spamming.

Comment Spammers… why do you bother? You’re not getting any extra PageRank points from your messages due to the external URL redirects MT 2.661 has in place. Plus, thanks to MT-Blacklist, your polution is trashed almsot as quickly as it’s posted.

So I can’t imagine your getting any value from this effort.

Even after I disabled commenting on old posts, the spammers continued to pound away at the server, yet nothing was actually getting posted.

Pointless (again).

However, this time I decided to let Apache help me rid the server of these digital cockroaches.

A simple .htaccess hack was in order.

I added the following LIMIT Apache directive, which applies only to the HTTP POST method on the mt-comments.cgi file:

<Files mt-comments.cgi>
<Limit POST>
deny from all

This effectively (and unfortunately) disables commenting for MovableType at the Apache server level.

I haven’t tested this thoroughly, but it should only disable posting, editing and deleting comments. If not, I’ll fix it, but for now I shouldn’t be getting anymore comments spam.