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A technology blog for The Economist Group IT team

Friday, February 25, 2005

I thought it time to break my duck on EcoBlogIT - so no more the virgin blogger . This posting is prompted by a recent conversation I had with David Henderson regarding the printing of project plans. For those of us who have the joy of producing such nuggets, a key problem is trying to present it in a way that the user can see both the tasks and staff needed in one easy format. MS project for all it's uses, does not provide such a utility - a gap in the product for sometime. Furthermore not everyone has MS Project and people also like to take away a hard copy - so a one off presentation is not really an option.

So to the point... Sometime last year I stumbled across a utility called efax. As it's name suggests it is an internet fax utility - it works by creating an electronic snapshot of the original document, effectively a graphic. This can then be saved locally or faxed/ sent by email over the web. Very handy for distribution of project plans.

So after a one off install- which installs the printer drivers and makes the tool available from all applications on your desktop. Your ready to run. Personally I create my document print it to the efax printer - this opens efax and gives you a preview of the converted document. I then save the document, use the efax Docuement w/viewer (*. exe) option - this creates an executable file of your document. I then send via email. Although you could send via email direct from efax.

The nice thing about this tool are:
1. One off install
2. Users do not need to install anything or have specific software e.g. Adobe reader
3. Users get a static view of the project plan (both electronic and one that they can print out - similar to pdf)
4. You received an assigned fax number to to recieve faxes on
5. You can send fax from your desktop
6. It's free

Assuming there are no issues (from IT) with using the tool I would recommend using it- it has saved me much time. http://www.efax.com. You can register for free and start using - but you get adverts. By paying for the premium service I believe these adverts are removed.

If anyone knows of a better tool I would be happy to hear about it.
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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Broken Windows

And the winner is:


Shannon Airport double whammy (D Collender)
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And the runners up...


Apollo (2) (S Robinson)
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Apollo (1) (D Peach)
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Southampton Airport (D Peach)
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Frustration! (B McPartlan)
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Eurostar Terminal (S Robinson)
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Sidekick hacked?

There's been a lot written about how Paris's mobile 'phone was hacked into, but it seems the reality was a bit more mundane. Rather than having been "blue-jacked" (I don't think that the Sidekick II has Bluetooth) it seems that someone hacked into T-Mobile's Customer account management system and was then able to bypass another (sic) layer of security to send a password allowing access to Paris Hilton's account to his own T-Mobile 'phone. He did this by spoofing the referring page so that the system thought he had arrived at a page from one which he (they always are aren't they?) had been authenticated to. Once there he was able to view the e-mail, camera phone pics and 'phone book of Hilton.

In the little I've read or heard people were saying how dim Hilton had been in allowing the data to get into the wrong hands. Rather the opposite seems to have been the case in that if she hadn't bothered to back her data up onto T-Mobile's systems all would still be intact. The moral of this story probably doesn't apply to us: if you're rich, infamous and court publicity don't store your contacts online. Of course I could be the victim of a hoax.....
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Friday, February 18, 2005

Did it all begin over a cuppa !!!. There are probably a few companies that lay claim to having spawned commercial computing. But Joe Lyons (of old tea house fame) probably have as strong a claim as most. For them, it all began back in the early 50’s. The Lyon’s company was fairly progressive for those days with a strong interests in new office management techniques. In 1951 the LEO I (Lyons Electronic Office) computer was operational and ran the world's first regular routine office computer job.
Not having done much ‘homework’ (before the days of the Internet), I was rather be mussed when I started at Joe Lyons in (can’t remember when) as a computer operator, to find out that their areas of business ranged from tea bags to computer bureau work !!!.
I was only there for 2 years but the company as I remember was extremely proud of it’s heritage and provided a sound grounding with comprehensive training (unusual for those days). Many web sites provide a history of those early days but a good one can be found at http://is.lse.ac.uk/leo/About_LEO.htm. Don’t look at the pictures too hard or you may find one of me (with hair).
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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Continuing a thread that Dave and I were on a few weeks ago, I read a story by Aaron Greenspan, a whitehat hacker, about the gaping security holes in the wireless Internet service provided at South Station in Boston, MA.

http://www.thinkcomputer.com/corporate/news/southstation.pdf

I found the story interesting, not because of the possibility of credit card numbers being revealed, but because of the mistakes made by the techies that set up the service. They seem very careless at first: including a graphic on a secure site that is pulled from an unsecure page, independent client data stored in sequentially numbered directories, username/password combinations such as south/station.

But I can see how easily mistakes like these can be made if someone is more concerned with getting a service working than making sure it is fully secured. Still, if these holes were exploited I'm sure some heads would roll.

Do we need to assume a siege mentality when rolling out new services?
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Thursday, February 03, 2005

There was a discussion over lunch about a recently published article on CNN.com listing the Top 25 innovations of the last 25 years. The internet being number one on that list, the creator of web being a British software consultant Tim Berners-Lee. Other innovations on the list include such innovations as cell phones(#2), E-Mail(#5), Personal Computers(#3), Storage Disks(#8). The complete list and story can be found at: http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/01/03/cnn25.top25.innovations/
Comments:
This looks a strange poll. There was a UK-based poll on the best innovaytions of the last 20 years and this was the top 10:
Smoke alarm - 69%
Mobile phone - 61%
Microwave oven - 52%
Digital camera - 42%
DNA testing - 41%
Laser eye-surgery - 39%
Air bags - 37%
Cash and debit cards - 34%
Long-life light bulbs -
 
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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Computers learn from computers

Thanks to the Web, computers (and humans) are one step further in the quest to develop artificial intelligence. An article in New Scientist describes how Google is used in developing word trees that allow computers to infer the meanings of the words themselves.
Comments:
wow really the great information and the article is really have a strong and impressive content an really helpful for the visitors to understand the working of the googl.
nice and most interesting information i found on the net under this article anyway there is a link that describe the eye surgery experience so check this out...
http://www.motionbox.com/videos/7a96d7b71a1fe0c5f5
 
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