“Like Mommy Does”

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We had some guests over for dinner on Saturday. Julia now insists on helping out and she even has her own knife (dulled slightly but fine for cutting cabbage) and an apron sent to her by a family friend, Tani-san. She loves cleaning up as well and, at three, is a great little helper.

It was a great dinner, a beef stew that has been simmering for the past couple of days, Izumi’s special top ramen/cabbage sesame oil salad, and appetizers. The two couples that came over both had kids so we started at four which worked out just perfect because everyone was able to leave satisfied at eight when the kids began to get sleepy.

Monday Morning Read In

Elise Bauer has published an update to her overview of blog tool market share and has determined that:

– the number of blog sites has grown 120% in six months,
Six Apart, (my employer) with the acquisition of LiveJournal, has the largest market share of blog sites,
– It’s impossible to measure the business market which sits behind firewalls,

Elise admits that using Google and Technorati for your research tools is crude at best but it’s the best guess out there and this report is the best report out there since Forrester’s, Blogging: Bubble or Big Deal? When and how businesses should use blogs last November. The two reports together make a compelling case for why businesses should be blogging and which tools they should use.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

dsc03013.jpgThe photo to the left was from a downpour we had last week but it might as well have been today. While we were away in Hawaii, my sister said that it was raining most of the time and, would you believe it, it’s raining again now. The rainfall has topped up all the reservoirs which has abated last Summer’s drought worries for now (these things take time to sort themselves out). Being on a small island on the Bay, our water table is something like 6 inches down. People that have below ground garages have put sandbags at the top of their driveways to keep water from streaming from the street down into their garage and this evening we found a newt in our playroom, poor guy was looking for some relief from all the water!

Middlesex Class of 1985

Vicky Peet passed on a note from Devin Hill (’85) and suggested that I post it online to coordinate what looks to be a "gathering storm" in Boston in mid-May. Those wanting to party with the Class of 85, read on and leave your comments down below for others. As Devin says, pass it on, as Carly says in another email, "poor Boston"

Subject: Middlesex Pyramid Party

Hey y’all,

Hopefully all of you have received a few "official" correspondences from Middlesex regarding the class of 85’s 20th reunion May 13th & 14th. Carla and I were talking and
she came up with the great idea to get a chain email going to get everyone involved
in the party loop and hopefully bring in all the friends you may not have
talked to in a while. As you may have heard we were planning to open our class
party on Friday to all Mx friends of ours, so please add anyone and everyone to
this group email distribution.

So far the tentative party plan for Friday 5/13 was to go to diner in Boston followed by a party at a bar. This is a flexible plan so please feel free to add any suggestions. I attached a link
to the restaurant and bar so you can check it out, they are next door to each other.
Being in Boston, I am happy to help with any logistical questions. I look forward to plenty of
banter and don’t forget to reply to all.

www.opalboston.com
www.lockeober.com

Peace, Devin Hill

Personal Privacy and Commercial Databases

First ChoicePoint and now Westlaw. Both are in hot water because of news because of real and potential security breaches. Both companies keep large databases of private records such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and residential addresses. This is not the first time ChoicePoint has made the headlines. In 2003, they were slammed for putting profit margins over ethics by selling voter registration information (registration required) on 65 million Mexican citizens to the US Government.

I once was given a demonstration of the ChoicePoint database and was amazed at the information within. They have two levels of access, one for businesses and another for licensed law enforcement officers. Needless to say, in order to demonstrate the system I was given a tour of both levels of access. Just to make sure no privacy rules were broken, we kept the browsing to my own profile but as I walked away from the booth I couldn’t help but think that that, as far as I could tell, the sales rep didn’t have law enforcement clearance.

So here’s the rub. How do you demonstrate a highly secure database that’s only supposed to have limited access. Commercial pressures are always going to drive you to bend the roles a bit, especially as you get towards the end of a quarter when sales goals need to be met.

Steve Goldstein, CEO of Alacra, just is thankful that his company isn’t in this kind of database business.

Update: ChoicePoint gets sued by California woman for fraud and negligence. [Wired]

Walking to school with my son

5415244_833732f6c7.jpgOne of the great things about living in Alameda is that I can walk my son to school each day. On most days we pick up the neighbor across the street and during the 15 minute stroll we can talk about things that are going on in each of our lives. Being in Kindergarten, there are lots of distractions along the way so I leave with ample time so we can take these diversions as they come. Today’s diversion was a worm that decided to take a swim in a puddle.

Microsoft AntiSpyware

James LaLonde, who used left Microsoft to work for Network Associates as the head of their operations in Asia, used to joke that his business was safe so long as Redmond stayed out of the anti-virus business. With all the  hubaloo over securtiy and spam, Microsoft announced plans to address it in the recent Windows XP Service Pack update and the Internet explorer browser this Summer.

Now we see two new standalone downloads that specifically address spyware and "malicious code" which is the boldest sign that Microsoft getting into the anti-virus market.

Malicious Software Removal Tool (sounds like a dentist’s instrument)

AntiSpyware (click on thumbnail for screenshot)