If you want to change the schools RUN FOR SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Do the candidates for South Kingstown Town Council understand that the TC and the School Committee are separate municipal bodies? The TC can only make SC budget recommendations. Legally it must transfer the money requested by the SC. Re-read those letters to the editor and the full page advertisements and note how many start with school issues and not town issues. If you want to change the schools RUN FOR SCHOOL COMMITTEE.

Windows Phone 7 is worthy addition to smartphone market

A useful review of Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 user interface. Glade to see some good news about an MS product. Generalizing on two data points -- Office's "ribbon" and now Windows Phone 7 -- it seems MS is making good usability observations and providing good solutions to, as said below, the 10- to 30-second needs.

"Nobody seems to be committing themselves to optimizing those 10- to 30-second phone experiences. Everyone is focused on building phones that you can stare at for thirty minutes. If this is truly the path Microsoft has followed, then they've made strong and brave choices."

http://www.suntimes.com/technology/ihnatko/2829294,ihnatko-windows-iphone-android-phone-102310.article

Welcome to Code City!

Why are city and municipal codes not public domain? Why, in fact, are copyrighted by private companies? It is a $10B industry.

Prototype of an Open Web App Ecosystem

Mozilla is prototyping an "open" application ecosystem. App store + installation + upgrades + payments. Nothing really new here except the "open" part. What really bothers me is that this really isn't going to help most people any time soon and, worse, when it is done it will be outdated.

http://blog.mozilla.com/blog/2010/10/19/prototype-of-an-open-web-app-ecosystem/

The premise of Open Web App that I WANT to install and application in my browser. I don't want to do this because this ties me and the application to the browser I am CURRENTLY using. I don't use one browser. I don't use one machine. Today I regularly use three machines -- one MacBook, one iPhone, and one Windows laptop -- and four browser instances -- two of FireFox, one of Safari, and one of Internet Explorer. Tomorrow I expect to be using even more machines -- iPads, Android pads, setup boxes, Wii, etc. I don't want to be tied to one machine and one browser -- even if I can choose which ones. I want to be free to sit at any browser on any machine and just use an application and my data.

What I really want is for applications and data to be separated so that I can pick which application I want to use today to surface (visualize) a data repository. More on that another day.

Jim O'Neill must not be reelected to the South Kingstown Town Council

Jim O'Neill must not be reelected to the South Kingstown Town Council. His campaign placards speak to his "Thinking Ahead", [speaking] "Truth to Power", etc. But O'Neill lacks the basic skills needed to bring synergy with others' ideas and to build coalitions that move their ideas into actions. Spend a few evenings at Council meetings and especially at joint workshops with the School Committee and you will hear the authentic O'Neill. He is belligerent. He is divisive. He is dismissive. In, short, he is a bully. O'Neill has had many terms in office to bring action on the issues he raises and yet he has not succeeded. Nor has he learned from these failures.

A new independence is needed at Town Hall. One that will work with other councilors and interested parties in moving ideas to action. Do not vote for O'Neill this November.

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New Commons office space

Digging through some old folders I found the following sketch of the New Commons office space in Providence. I really liked the ideas in this space. The hallway that connects the open offices. The french doors into the meeting space. Etc.

Safari and accessing an HTTPS site behind a web proxy

Safari, unlike FireFox and Chrome, will not let you access a web site behind a proxy server if that site has an untrusted SSL certificate. Safari will ask you to login into the proxy server and then, after some time, tell you it can't access the site. The way I found around this to to import the untrusted certificate directly into the OS X's keychain using Keychain Access. The steps I used are

1. Use FireFox to initially access the site and to accept the untrusted certificate.

2. Use FireFox's certificate manager at ForeFox / Preferences... / Advanced / Encryption / View Certificates to export the certificate. Use the PEM encoding and make sure to name the file with a ".pem" extension.

3. Use Keychain Access to import the certificate

You should now be able to access the web site from within Safari.

A Gentle Introduction to CouchDB for Relational Practitioners

"CouchDB is a document-oriented database written in Erlang that addresses a particular "sweet spot" in data storage and retrieval needs. This blog post is an introduction to CouchDB for those of us who have a relational database background."

The short introduction to CouchDB at 

http://blog.couchone.com/post/1167966323/a-gentle-introduction-to-couchdb-for-relational

is a fantastic writing example. Within a few paragraphs the author has conveyed the essence of the tool and for an experience tools user/evaluator the set of next questions that must be answered before it can be put to use -- security, contention, document size boundaries, etc -- can now all be asked discerningly.