• Mix your virtual machines with Parallels Desktop

    Parallels Desktop is an environment for virtual machines on Mac OS X. Michael Verdi demonstrates some interesting coming features of Parallels in his screencast of Parallels Desktop Beta

    He runs a virtual Windows PC in "coherence mode" where single Windows applications appear directly on the Mac OS desktop. The Parallels Beta makes it possible to drag and drop files between Windows Explorer and Finder and also use the clipboard between Windows and Mac applications. With these new features, Parallels really blurs the borders between the guest and the host OS, making it easy to use the best of both worlds without noticing.

  • Different approaches

    I'm an uncurable optimist, believing in good and expecting to make a difference. People can debate endlessly if it's better to be a pessimist and not be disappointed or to be an optimist and have a happy perspective on things. For me, I'd say that optimism is the better approach -- it can even be fueled by pessimism, as I learned today.

    At work, many of us write short daily reports of our accomplishments and decisions. Two of my coworkers obviously dealt with the same problem, but in different ways:

    First, R. sent his daily:

    Regarding the memory leak in GNU awk: Since I as an "old naysayer" don't suppose that it can be fixed anyway, I configured some resource capping.

    S. later wrote in his report:

    I'm gonna show that "old naysayer" R. I fixed the memory leak in gawk and sent it to the GNU developers. I'd have done that anyway, but now more than ever. :P

    Getting things done also is an attitude.

  • Gillmor Gang: The ever-ending netcast

    The Gillmor Gang is the most peculiar netcast I have subscribed to. What is the Gillmor Gang? Well... Imagine a group of web industry experts, moderated by Marvin the Android going by the pseudonym of Steve Gillmor.
    Regular members of the Gillmor Gang are Dana Gardner, Doc Searls, Mike vizard, Dan Farber, Mike Arrington, Robert Anderson and Jason Calacanis. Since the latter joined the round, the podcast has been getting a lot more interesting. His recent Adam Curry impersonation had me laughing to tears (which is quite weird if you're sitting in a train full of people).

    The Gillmor Gang discusses recent developments around the web and IT industry like Google Office, the YouTube sale or the Microsoft deal with Novell. Having so many smart people exchanging their opinions is what makes this podcast unique. But there also are some annoying things: For one thing, Steve Gillmor insists on splitting every episode into three to five pieces that have to be downloaded separately. And every of these pieces starts with a four-minute advertising block. Using fast-forward to 4:10 quickly becomes a habit if you're a regular listener.

    At the beginning of the episode I'm currently listening to, "Thanksgiving Gang", a criticism is brought on that I share: In the beginning of the series, Steve Gillmor used to define the agenda and his round of pundits discussed the topics he put on. Over time, though, the show turned into the members often talking about themselves, for example about Jason Calacanis leaving AOL, and most often Steve Gillmor quietly sulking in the background.

    Almost every episode, I tell myself: "This is such a waste of time. That was the last episode I listen to." But unsubscribing to the podcast seems to be as difficult to me as to Steve Gillmor is discontinuing his podcast: For every one of the last 10 or so episodes, he called it the last one. But finally, Steve seems to mean it this time.

    To me, the Gillmor Gang is like sitting next to the table of some smart celebrities discussing topics that I too find interesting. After all, there are a lot of things you can learn from successful web entrepreneurs like Mike Arrington or industry leaders like Jason Calacanis or Dana Gardner.

    The Gillmor Gang is a strange combination of well-known experts (and vice-versa) with interesting thoughts as well as unusual personalities and a Gillmoresque moderation that fluctuates between "non-existant" and "I am the boss here and you shut up".

    That's why I hope that I'll have a lot of future last episodes to stop listening to.

  • Comedy Central goes german

    Other than Spiegel Online International (why doesn't the german version report it as well?), I don't care if a great part of the german population will get american or british humour. I know I do.

    And I also know that most of the dubbing staff doesn't.

    Because I don't want to have to translate a sentence back into English word by word to recover its punch line, the great news of Comedy Central making a german channel,1518,449206,00.html quickly became a disappointment. Well, at least there's the Daily Show Global Edition on CNN. And, of course, YouTube.

  • How to store passwords safely on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux

    If you're anything like me, your user accounts collection keeps growing week by week. All those Web 2.0 applications require a personal account with user name and password. Some let you choose the login name yourself, others generate it automatically from other information you input, e.g. your real name. Passwords make the whole thing even more complicated. But I finally found a solution that puts security in balance with ease of use.
    There are many websites that offer advice on choosing a good password. Some of the basic rules are:

    • Don't take a simple word because that can be guessed by working through a dictionary.
    • Don't use just lower case, and also put some numbers or even interpunction characters in.
    • Don't use the same password at different places -- if one website gets compromised, so could be all your accounts.

    The problem is that most hard to find passwords are also hard to remember. There's a way around that problem by deriving the password from an easy to remember sentence. For example, from the initial characters in "Another two pints of Guinness, please", you get "A2poGp". But the number of easy to remember sentences is limited, too.

    Because I wanted to get rid of the nagging feeling I got from using the same password over and over, I decided on getting a password management software that securely stores my account collection and lets me easily retrieve them.

    Tom Raftery swears by Keychain as password manager But, additional to my Mac Mini, I have an IBM laptop with Linux on it, so I was searching for a cross-platform solution.

    float: right; border: 0px; padding-left: 5px; padding-right: 5px;" src="/uploads/keepass.png" alt="" />I found "KeePass KeePass is available for Windows, MacOS X and Linux and it stores all your login data in a securely encrypted file that you can put on an USB stick.

    The USB stick with the KeePass file on belongs to those items I carry around in my backpack all the time. So, if I'm at work, I can plug the thumb drive into my Linux laptop. At home, I plug it into my Mac's USB port. Since KeePass uses the same file format and encryption algorithm on all platforms, I have access to my login data everywhere, just by entering my master password at the KeePass startup screen. (That's the one password I actually have to remember although it's a really tough one.)

    KeePass is easy to use and has many sensible functions:

    • Organize all records in a group hierarchy (Web, Web/Email, Web/News, Bank, Bank/CreditCards, ...)
    • Icons for groups and records
    • Suggest a new password (length and character set definable)
    • Display how secure the chosen password is
    • Enter additional information like a comment or an account expiration date

    And, keeping the best for last: KeePass is free software. So, what's your lame excuse for still using your girlfriend's name as your single password? ;-)