Performing File System Surgery

Ugh. In the middle of moving files around on my home Windows PC the filesystem was corrupted and I lost access to my files. I knew the files were there but the the few configuration files that Windows XP needed to give me rights to my folder were kaput and because I was the administrator on this machine, it couldn’t even boot up.

I installed another copy of the core Windows files into a new directory (c:\windows2) so that I could at least boot up.

Access Denied when I tried to navigate to my Documents folder.

I found a helpful forum post on a site called Techspot and learned that this is what happens when you install another version of Windows on the same computer. The Administrator on the new version of Windows didn’t have rights to read the files written by the old Administrator.

Following instructions on the forum post, I then booted up off of that new install in “safe mode” and re-assigned the file permissions and am now copying over the files out of that old directory into a new disk.

Disaster averted! Without my old Outlook .pst file, I didn’t even have my Grandmother’s phone number! Yet another reason why I really should get this stuff uploaded to the cloud!

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Current Events

Thomas Jefferson on the Credit Crisis

I leave you with this quote to ponder over the weekend.

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.

– Thomas Jefferson, 1802

Thanks to Ian Copsey, a forex analyst in Asia, for sending this one on.

UPDATE: Re-posting on Facebook yielded some interesting commentary. According to his wikipedia page. TJ died deep in debt, much of it caused by out of control banking policies. This background puts the above quote in greater context.

Although he was born into one of the wealthiest families in North America, Thomas Jefferson was deeply in debt when he died. Jefferson’s trouble began when his father-in-law died, and he and his brothers-in-law quickly divided the estate before its debts were settled. It made each of them liable for the whole amount due – which turned out to be more than they expected.

Jefferson sold land before the American Revolution to pay off the debts, but by the time he received payment, the paper money was worthless amid the skyrocketing inflation of the war years. Cornwallis ravaged Jefferson’s plantation during the war, and British creditors resumed their collection efforts when the conflict ended. Jefferson suffered another financial setback when he cosigned notes for a relative who reneged on debts in the financial Panic of 1819. Only Jefferson’s public stature prevented creditors from seizing Monticello and selling it out from under him during his lifetime.

$54 Million lawsuit over lost pants

For crying out loud – this is what’s wrong with the US legal system. A former judge is suing for a pair of pants lost by his dry cleaner, not really about the pants but more their promise of guaranteed satisfaction.

“This is not a case about a pair of suit pants,” Roy Pearson argued before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Rather, it is about whether the owners of a neighborhood business misled consumers with a sign that claimed “Satisfaction Guaranteed,” he said.

“There is an unconditional guarantee,” he argued, unless the merchant indicates otherwise.

Pearson said that the sign was deceptive and that the burden was on owners Jin Nam Chung and Soo Chung to explain whether the promise came with restrictions.

Not only that, if he loses his appeal, he could seek to have his case heard by the Supreme Court. What a great use of the top legal minds in our country.


You Kids Never Had it so Good!

Getting up to speed here at Nokia after joining three days ago – lots of institutional knowledge tucked away across the intranet which features a bewildering array of internal blogs, wikis, and video archives. One thing I immediately notice is that the average age of people who work here in the Mountain View office is older than that at Yahoo. There’s a historical perspective to what they build which informs what they do so it’s sensitive to regional and generational needs and practices.

A colleague recently passed around a link to a Wired article that lamented that modern day social networks have killed the ability to “lose touch” with a friend and let them fade into the background. Instead we have to take action and ban, block, or un-friend them which seems a bit rash (especially when services such as Qwitter tell you when someone has un-subscribed). It’s like shouting out to someone, “You’re not my friend!”

From my perspective, Nokia is very interested in the social impacts of the tools that they build. For instance, on the drive down I was listening to Matt Locke talk about how people have collectively “hacked” social gestures for the introduction of mobile phones into society. The phone booth that we would use to exit a public space to make a phone call evolved into a “hood” structure. With cell phones we used to cup our mouth or duck our head to indicate we were on the phone but now have evolved (?) into talking freely in the clear while sporting a blinking Bluetooth headset. It is still early days with regards to social networks. We haven’t evolved a similar set of shared gestures beyond perhaps the @reply which is really only understood by a tweetist.

Later I ran across the following passage from Reprise Media’s excellent Search Views blog:

When I was a kid we had to network socially by punching a random bunch of digits into a keypad, (or twirling a dial with your finger – a dial!) picking up a big clumsy plastic thing attached to a squiggly wire, and speaking into it. If you were lucky your buddy was on the other end. Worse, it was done one person at a time! You kids never had it so good!

Updating my Facebook profile to reflect my new employer, I notice that I know no one here at Nokia. I have a list of people my manager recommend that I synch up with to soak up the lay of the land – should I use the phone, email or maybe Facebook?

Further Reading: How Mobility Will Change Social Networking

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Leaving Yahoo – Going Mobile

On Friday I’ll hand over my badge, laptop, and Blackberry, finishing up three years at Yahoo. I’m leaving MyBlogLog in the good hands of Todd Sampson to drive the product vision and manage the engineering team and Tilly McLain who will look over the day-to-day care and feeding of the site and community.

My self-proclaimed tag line on the internal company directory is turning Yahoo inside out. This has been my personal mission since I joined Yahoo a little over three years ago. There is great stuff to be shared at Yahoo, as long as you let people get to it in a way that’s useful to them.

I enjoyed working with people who shared my passion to transform Yahoo into to a modern platform. It hasn’t been easy – opening up programmatic access to Yahoo is fraught with many built-in conflicts. Third party content licenses, traffic guarantees, and international legal constraints all make it difficult to let services flow completely free. It’s an industry-wide problem. Much of the way the advertising industry measures the impact of their online campaigns is rooted in the pageview metric which runs counter to providing the best of what you’ve got via an API call. For folks such as ComScore (who help advertisers evaluate rates) an API call doesn’t count as a pageview or roll up into a CPM so it’s a hard to argue letting people get at data without forcing them to come to a pageview to get it.

But consumer demand on the internet is like a natural force. If you don’t go with the flow, the market will route around until it finds what it needs. As with ripped music files, if you don’t provide your data via an API and figure out how to build a business off of that, folks will scrape your pages or go to your competitor. Yahoo gets this and there are many people working to provide a structured way to get at their data in a sustainable way that can guarantee that they will be able to continue to provide it. Pay a visit to the Yahoo Developer Network site to see what’s there and watch this space as there’s more in the queue.

With this as a backdrop, I was invited to take my thinking to a new company and a new industry. In a few weeks I’ll be joining Nokia and working to make their devices more socially aware. The Nokia s60, iPhone, Blackberry and Android (rumored) application stores give us developer ecosystems around each device. What will the world be like when devices can communicate with each other via social networks, across device platforms, across mobile carrier networks? Much the same way the web browser has unified communication across Mac & PC, the mobile web will do the same for “broadband-enabled” cell phones. Add GPS (location), Bluetooth (proximity), integrated camera/video and a voice interface and you’ve got a whole new set of opportunities that are just too good to pass up.

Imagine this use case. Your phone knows your alarm goes off at 6am every morning, that you drive the San Mateo bridge every weekday on your way to work at around 7:30am. It’s entirely possible for your phone to automatically check traffic conditions before you leave sometime after you awake and let you know that there is heavier than normal traffic and suggest an alternate route and read it out to you in a phone call, while you drive. If you’ve got your calendar in there, there is no reason that your phone can’t offer to call ahead and let the people in your first meeting know that you’re running late. All the pieces are in place to make this happen, automatically, right on your device. That’s the kind of service that will enhance your life, that’s the kind of service suite I’m excited to build.

Thank you to everyone who lent an ear to my crazy talk in the early days and pointed me to others who would listen and helped me build a band of believers. A nowhere near complete list of shout outs include:

Craig Forman, Scott Gatz, and Don Loeb who brought me in and set me lose on management to get the wheels rolling.

Toby Coppel, Gerry Horkin, Dave Vockell, Gil Ben-Artzy, and David Katz, who took me under their wing in Corporate Development and helped me refine my message into bite-sized Powerpoint presentations and introduced me to the Harvey Ball.

Sumit Chachra, Aaron Stein, Josh Rangsikitpho, John Lindal, Josh Blatt, Cody Simms and others who fought the good fight down in Burbank.

Chad Dickerson, Jeremy Zawodny, Steve Spencer, Jonathan Strauss, Bradley Horowitz, Jeffery McManus, and Robi Ganguly who encouraged hackery and other inspirational corporate trickery.

Thank you especially Todd Sampson, Eric Marcoullier, John Sampson, Steve Ho, Chris Goffinet, Saurabh Sahni, Mani Kumar, Manny Miller, Tilly McLain, Robyn Tippins, Raymund Ramos, Micah Laaker, JR Conlin, Greg Cohn, Havi Hoffman, Cameron Marlow, Matt McAllister, Kent Brewster, Ryan Kennedy, Sam Pullara and all the other MyBlogLog faithful who encouraged or help me build some of the things I was talking about – we released some cool stuff which really pushed the edge and continue to lead the way.

Finally, thank you to my kids who taught me to look at social networks in a new light and and my wife who kept the family ticking and the home fires burning through it all.

For those interested in peering into a subset of what inspires me, here’s a sample of my OPML file. Keep up the good work Marshall, Louis, and Mark.

I’m going to take a week off to re-charge before the new gig kicks off at the Nokia offices in Mountain View. I’m looking forward to working with one of the original Yahoo bloggers, Russell Beattie. It’s been awhile since I’ve been a regular in the South Bay so if you’re interested in getting together, drop me a line.

Goin’ Mobile – The Who