March 2005 Archives

sponsorship swan song

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This, my friends, is my last sponsored post for Marqui. Or for anybody, for that matter.

I'm grateful to Marc and Marqui for the opportunity to experiment with a new form of blogvertising. I have a great deal of admiration for their original and honest approach to their blogosphere program, and no regrets for having participated.

My reasons for not continuing are very similar to Molly's--knowing that I "had" to post changed my relationship to my writing, and made the process of writing posts before and after the sponsored posts feel forced.

I do wish Marqui well in their continuing program, and success with their product.

qualitative interviews via email


As I look over the transcripts from our qualitative data collection last year, it's increasingly clear to me that the clarity and depth of the answers we received from email surveys were significantly better than those we got through in-person interviewing.

This backs up what I found in my dissertation research, which is comforting.

I wonder if this is particularly the case for people in computer-oriented fields (my dissertation research was on students in doctoral programs in information science, which tends to be a very tech-savvy group), or if it holds true more broadly.

(Now back to actually doing work rather than blogging about it...)



Trying to work at Panera today. I'm behind in some critical work, which makes me miserable, which leads me to get further behind. So I'm trying to break the cycle.

But there are so many people here today. And they're loud. And they're driving me crazy. I have my Sony earbuds, but they're not sufficiently noise-isolating.

I'm really hoping that I get either the Shure e2c or Etymotic er6i earphones for my birthday. Both are supposed to be very effective at blocking out this kind of background noise.

And, while I'm at it, I really need a way to be able to get at my Mac's music library when I'm working on the PC laptop I do my data analysis on. Is it possible for me to set up a VPN to my home network and then find my Mac via iTunes?

my penultimate marqui post (sponsored post)

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Apparently Marqui won an InnoTech Innovation Award this month, according to press release.

I'm also pleased to see that they're building partnerships with non-profits.

peace and quiet

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I seldom get quiet time in my own house--when I'm here, the boys and Gerald are usually here, too. I don't wake up before them, and Gerald's still watching TV most nights when I go to bed.

So the fact that I'm sitting here on my couch, with no children fighting, television playing, or game soundtracks in the background is worth savoring.

In a few minutes I've got an IRC chat with my students, and the next few days are stacked up with unfinished work--grading, data analysis, sorting through piles of paper...

But right now, it's quiet. And I'm happy.



In the suggested opening for Al-Anon meetings, there's a line that says "In Al-Anon we learned to keep the focus on ourselves." That's a surprisingly hard thing to do--particularly for those of us who've lived with alcoholism.

This past weekend, one of the daily readings from Al-Anon's Courage to Change book was on that topic, and I've decided to copy it and put it up above my desk where I can read it and be reminded of its wisdom every day. And while it's copyrighted material, I think I'm well within the boundaries of Fair Use if I post just that day's reading here.

airport express and non-apple wifi networks

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I have an Airport Express, which I love, but I've had no end of problems trying to get it to join our house wifi network so that I can use AirTunes to stream music to the Bose radio in the family room.

Last night I finally found a page that explains why. It's a post to a discussion forum on the Apple site, entitled How to make the Airport Express work with Windows XP and an existing D-Link router. Now, I don't have XP or a D-Link router, but it turns out the instructions were relevant for my OS X and Linksys (I think...can't remember the brand) router combo.

The basic problem, it seems, is that by default the AirportExpress only wants to join networks using 10.0.x.x DHCP ranges. Many routers, however, use the 192.168.x.x (or 172.16.x.x) range for DHCP. As a result, the AirportExpress could see my home network, but couldn't successfully join it.

The solution is a kludge, but it works. You have to go into the Airport Admin Utility, and start to set up a new wireless network. That allows you then to go into the network settings and tell it to use the appropriate IP range. When you switch it back to joining an existing network, it remembers the IP range. Yes, I know, it's ugly. But it worked!

The instructions I linked to are pretty clear, and work for either OS X or Win XP. But they do have one glaring error--in step 10, they say to unplug the Ethernet cable from the AirportExpress. Don't do it! You can't do step 11 (update the settings) when it's unplugged. (D'oh!) Don't unplug the Ethernet cable until after you've successfully run the settings update.

It worked like a charm for us, and I have good music in the family room again. Yay!

(I should note that when I called Apple tech support about this last month, they told me that the AirportExpress couldn't join a non-Apple network. I'm glad they were wrong.)

marqui shout-out

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Just a quick shout-out and thank you to Marqui, since I'm long overdue on sponsored posts this month. There will be two more this month, which I promise will not be content-free!

the blogroll is coming back


A couple people have noticed that the Bloglines link now goes to a list of my students' blogs, and were unhappy about that.

Not to worry; later this week the blogroll is coming back, in an expandable box on the sidebar so that it doesn't take over the page for people not that interested in the links.

return to redmond redux


In addition to the Search Champs meeting I just posted about, I'll also be in Redmond next month for MSR's Social Computing Symposium

Since the two events are less than a week apart, I'm planning on spending the intervening time in the Seattle area to scout out housing options. (July 1st is getting closer and closer...) Would love to get together with Seattle-area friends and fellow bloggers while I'm there!

return to redmond


I've received an invitation to participate in the MSN Search Champs v2 meeting next month in Redmond. So far, I've determined that Don Park and David Weinberger were invited back but can't attend, that Shelley Powers was invited but declined, and that Dave Winer isn't attending this time.

The guy who writes PalmSolo (whose name escapes me at the moment) is returning this time. I know that Halley Suitt is going, and I heard that Loïc LeMeur was going to be there as well.

Who else? They say they were shooting for more diversity this time (I was the only person there last time who wasn't a white male), so it will be interesting to see how successful they were.

(And before you ask, no, I don't know how you can get invited. I'm only an invitee, not an inviter.)

slacker tracking

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A former student of mine, now part of the tech corps in SF, has a funny post on his site. He constructed Google and Technorati queries to find all the people who've posted something along the lines of "sorry I haven't been posting more lately". Heh.

current themes in it seminar

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This quarter I'm teaching a graduate course entitled "Current Themes in Information Technology," a seminar class in which the topics du jour are redefined each quarter by the professor teaching it.

It's a distance learning class, so I've decided to teach it using blogs for student work and comments, IRC for weekly class discussions, and IM for office hours.

If you're interested in seeing how my students are approaching the material in the class, you're welcome to stop by their weblogs. I've collected the feeds for their class blogs in Bloglines. (I just added the feeds, and Bloglines takes up to two hours to retrieve posts the first time, so you might want to wait a few hours before checking them out...)

In an attempt to keep spam under control, I've limited commenting to those with TypeKey identities, so if you want to comment on their blogs you'll need to log in with a TypeKey ID. Sorry about that, but it's a necessary evil until better spam-protection measures can be implemented.

blogging sxsw 2005 on many-to-many


I'm doing real-time blogging of SXSW/Interactive 2005 conference sessions over on Many-to-Many (in large part because of guilt over having not posted there in ages). Pop over there for my comments on what's been going on.

Much as I enjoy this conference, I'm really missing being home. Will be glad to head back on Tuesday for a full month of no travel...

my trip to dubai - sightseeing

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(This post is the second in a series on my trip to Dubai)

I've finally gotten the photos uploaded to Flickr, and have grouped them into two albums--one for sightseeing, the other for the conference. In general, photos are a better way to talk about what you've seen, so for more narrative I suggest looking at those photosets and reading the descriptions.

Spice SoukI slept surprisingly well the first night (the Benadryl probably helped), and woke up just in time to shower and grab breakfast with Sabra before they closed down the buffet. Water Taxis (Abras)We then had the hotel book us on a "Big Bus" tour of the city, which was an excellent way to see key sights quickly. We stopped for a while at the Dubai Museum, and then took the walking tour of the gold and spice souks, and an abra (water taxi) ride across Dubai Creek, the canal that runs through the city. It also offered stops at several of Dubai's 57+ shopping malls.(They're also constructing the largest mall ever, The Mall of the Emirates, a 2.4 million sf facility which will include indoor skiing along with other attractions--it's due to be completed by this September!)

I stopped at one of the malls on the way home, just to browse a bit, and to see if I could find a USB cord for my camera (I did, at Carrefour, for 15 dirhams...about $4). Prices are a mix--top label items and electronics didn't seem to be priced much lower than in the states, but there's a huge selection, and no sales tax or duties.

Another Dhow Passing UsWe returned to the hotel at about 5, and made reservations for a dinner cruise on a traditional dhow, which turned out to be a lovely way to spend the evening. For only 100 dirhams (less than $30 US), we had a multicourse dinner served to us on the upper deck of a lovely traditional boat, which spent over two hours cruising from near the airport to the mouth of the Creek and back. The food was wonderful, and it was a great experience. (It did get a little chilly out on the water, but they had ponchos available for anyone who needed them.)

my trip to dubai - airplanes and hotels


There's so much I want to say about the trip I just took to Dubai, so much that I've really got to split it up into multiple posts for it to make any sense. Rather than chronological, they'll be content-focused...this post will talk about travel issues, but others will cover sightseeing in Dubai, the American University there, the women who spoke with me at the conference, and the women I met who attended the conference. For photos of all of those, see my Flickr photosets on Dubai and the Woibex conference.

I would have had plenty of time to get most of these written during the 14-hour trip home, but I was greatly hampered by the truly awful economy-class seats on the Emirates A340 airplane.

My original itinerary to Dubai had me going from Rochester to Philadelphia, Philly to Frankfurt, spending 7 hours in Frankfurt, and then continuing to Dubai. I nixed that, and asked them instead to book me on a direct flight out of JFK, and arranged for my own travel to JFK.

Emirates Economy Class 2I'd heard a lot of good things about Emirates, and about the A340 that they fly on the JFK to Dubai route. Having now spent over 26 hours on that plane (12.5 going out, 14 coming home), I have to say that it is, without a doubt, the most uncomfortable airplane I've ever had to travel in. To begin with, the seats are designed in such a way that even wearing boots with heels my feet don't touch the floor.

Emirates Economy Seat StorageThen there's the total lack of space under the seats (almost every seat has some kind of metal container attached underneath it), and overhead compartments too shallow for most bags. What makes it even worse is the extreme tightness of the rows. Normally I don't have much trouble with this, because I'm such a small person--I don't need a lot of leg room. But on the A340, when the person in front of me reclined, I was left with less than 3" of usable space on the tray table for my laptop--so it ended up pressed into my stomach, with the screen at nearly a 45˚ angle towards me. (Yes, Scoble, I know...I should have had my tablet with me. But this is the first time I've ever felt this cramped on a plane.)

This Emirates JFK to Dubai route does have two redeeming qualities. The first is the surprisingly good food (and free drinks, though I've avoided those in an attempt to fend off jetlag), and second is the excellent in-flight entertainment, which offers hundreds of movies and TV shows in on-demand format. On the way to Dubai I watched a number of US television programs, and then towards the end of the trip watched my very first Bollywood movie--Kal Ho Na Ho. I loved it! As a result, on the way home I totally binged on Bollywood flicks. I watched Chalte Chalte, Dil Ne Jise Apna Kaha, Main Hoon Na, Tehzeeb, and Baghban. The result? I'm totally hooked. I'm going to have to find a place in Rochester that gets them in regularly (or sign up for a by-mail DVD rental service--do any of them have a good selection of Bollywood films?).

My JFK to Dubai flight arrived right on time, and the trip through immigration and customs was amazingly quick and easy. The hotel--the Al Bustan Rotana--had arranged a shuttle pickup for the two of us who'd arrived on that flight (the other being Sabra Brock, a wonderful woman with whom I spent a lot of time this week), and so I was at the hotel by 10:30. Because Sabra and I were booked into the "Club Rotana" floor, we were directed upstairs to the private check-in--which I mistakenly assumed would mean expedited check-in. Instead, we sat in the Executive Lounge for nearly 45 minutes before receiving our keys.

The rooms themselves were nice, though not extraordinary. The hotel advertises wireless access in public areas, and wired in the rooms. What they don't advertise is the outrageous price--$7/hour, or $40/day. And the per hour has to be purchased in full-hour blocks--you can't use ten minutes, then come back two hours later and use the remaining time. (Happily, the conference organizer agreed to pay for my Internet access.) It was also a very assymetrical connection, with decent download speed but awful upload times. That made it difficult to use Skype as my primary method of calling home--the quality and lag time were too unreliable. And it took me until the third day to discover (after extensive online searching) that the only way to connect to AIM was by changing the port that my client used from 5190 to 5191.

I was also unable to find an accsssible wifi network in the conference venue, the otherwise spectacular Burj-Al-Arab hotel. All in all, I was less than impressed by the limited accessibility of network infrastructure throughout Dubai. JiWire showed only five hotspots in the entire city--and considering the size and technological aspirations of Dubai, that's not very impressive. (I was able to grab a wifi connection in the airport when leaving--a free network was leaking out of the first class and business class lounges.)

Coffee, Tea, and Wine in Hotel LoungeSome nice aspects of the Al Bustan Rotana included the free breakfast, high tea, and cocktail hour (three free drinks and plenty of food) in the Club Rotana lounge, and several excellent restaurants. I ate at the buffet restaurant for lunch (it featured a chocolate fountain for fondue), and had dinner one night at the Lebanese restaurant. There was also a Thai restaurant there that came highly recommended, but I didn't have a chance to eat there on this trip. Oh...and the fresh flower and sleep-related quotes I found each night on my pillow were a lovely touch.

Dubai Duty Free 7On the return flight, I got a chance to see why people rave about the Dubai Duty Free shops. Pretty spectacular. And if what you're looking for is the kind of t-shirt, keychain, stuffed animal souvenirs that one wants to bring home to kids, the prices are very good. (Prices on electronics didn't seem any lower than US discounters would offer, though I didn't get into detailed

All in all, it was a good travel experience. No delayed flights, no lost luggage, no hassles in customs or immigration in either direction. And as you'll read in the posts to follow, the overall experience was well worth any discomfort suffered en route.

dubai update

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There are occasional moments in my life when I look at what I'm doing and marvel at the unlikeliness of it. Today I had one of those moments.

I was eating lunch in the restaurant of my hotel in Dubai, enjoying a dessert of fruit and patries dipped in chocolate from a fountain on the dessert table. As I ate, I was entering information from a stack of business cards into my address book--including one from the Belgian Minister of State.


I've posted a bit about the extraordinary day I had yesterday over on, and am starting to write a much longer travelogue for posting later tonight.

I have nearly 200 photos to upload, but I haven't been able to get any of the Flickr uploading tools to cooperate, so most of the images will have to wait until I return tomorrow evening.

safe and sound in dubai

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Flights lasting over twelve hours are never fun, but flying from JFK to Dubai on Emirates was surprisingly tolerable. I'm now safely ensconced in my hotel room at the Al Bustan Rotana hotel, where the bed looks very inviting right now.

Network access here is outrageously priced (about $7/hour, or $35/day), so I won't be online as much as I'd planned. And I foolishly forgot the USB cable for my camera, so photos will have to wait 'til I return.

There are already good stories to tell, and I'll write them offline for posting when I have a chance. For now, a hot bath and then sleep are my primary goals. Tomorrow I'll be sightseeing with a fellow speaker, Sabra Brock, and then finishing my presentation prep in the evening. Tuesday is the conference, and then Wednesday I'll be spending some time with a good friend's cousin--she's in the IT program at the American University of Dubai, and I'm looking forward to finding out more about that program.

it's not over 'til it's over (sponsored post)

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It turns out that since I started the Marqui program a month later than the other bloggers, my contract extends for a month longer than theirs. So while I probably won't sign another contract, you'll be seeing a few more posts from me while I complete the terms of this contract.

I'll use part of that time to berate them about their web site. I wanted to use a screen shot as part of a series of "software as service" examples in my talk this week (along with Basecamp and TypePad), but I couldn't find a single page that had a clear enough message that I could put the screen shot up there and have it mean anything. Feh.

thank you, virgin atlantic!

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I'm sitting in Terminal 4 at JFK, eating an unhealthy dinner of KFC chicken strips, and taking advantage of the free Wifi coming out of the Virgin Atlantic lounge, above me.

My flight for Dubai leaves in two hours. I have a window seat, which is good. I have the phone number of a friend's cousin in Dubai, which is also good. I have a comfortable neck pillow, a fully-charged iPod, several magazines and books, and 12.5 hours to kill.

See you on the other side...

pre-trip panicking

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Tonight and tomorrow are packing days. I'm a little panicked, because I've left everything 'til the last minute. But I'm excited, as well, about the opportunity to see Dubai. Everything I've read about it indicates that it's an incredible city.

I was hoping that they'd put me up in the hotel where the conference is being held--the truly breathtaking Burj-Al-Arab. Alas, I'll only be there for the conference itself on Tuesday. The hotel I am staying at, however, looks quite nice--the Al Bustan Rotana, which is near both the airport and a spa that I hope to hit on Monday to refresh myself upon arrival!

A good friend here in Rochester has relatives in Dubai, and I'm hoping to connect with them while I'm there--it's always so much better to see a new country through the eyes of a local.

The hotel has high-speed access (or so it says), so I expect to be regularly updating the blog, as well as uploading photos to Flickr.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2005 is the previous archive.

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