Thursday, December 01, 2011

I have seen the future of Office collaboration!

Nothing is more satisfactory than seeing the technology you read about actually being used in a real-world situation.  While nothing compared to what it would be like in a full enterprise-level application of use it is a glimpse into the future nonetheless.

Usually I don't see my brothers except around Christmas time so it is difficult to keep track as to what they are in to, what they have and what they need.  So for a few years now we've all been exchanging Christmas lists usually soon after Thanksgiving.

Last night I took the lists the kids and my wife had written and placed it in a Google Doc. I added my wife's account to be able to edit the document figuring that she could edit it during the day or if the kids come up with something new or so she could update her own list.
Having the list in that location 
  1. Each of us can get to it anytime regardless of what computer we're using (home, work, laptop, etc.), 
  2. Don't have to worry about making sure our program can handle that file format (no need to make sure it's saved in Microsoft Office format), 
  3. We don't have to worry about which version we are working on and 
  4. We are able to be in the same program at the same time.
Last night, though, she must have been more adventerous because while I was in the document and starting to add items to MY list I noticed that there she is, in the same document and making changes!  We were in the same room, but she was at the Ubuntu Linux desktop with Firefox and I was on the couch with my Chromebook.

So whenever I saw this pink cursor, I knew where the cursor was in her screen and when she typed I saw it pop up across the screen!  Since I could hear her typing and when she stops, I could tell there wasn't a lot of lag either despite having a very slow DSL connection!

Also, we were able to talk back-and-forth using the chat window on the side for things we didn't want to type in the document to say.

While we were having fun, it dawned on me that this is the future.  Really, how easy it was for us to collaborate on this file, to access, view and edit it really shows how far behind Microsoft Live really is! I cannot say anything about Live365 because I don't have any experience with it.

I see this as a glimpse into the future, and one that I plan to explore even further.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Google, WTF?

I use Google for my online life, which as of lately has been growing significantly over my conventional desktop-based computing.  Unfortunately of late I have been getting more nervous regarding my online security and beginning to think twice about relying so much on Google specifically.

Last year, close to the middle of August, I took my laptop with me to a wedding in Maine and used it once on the last (full) day we were there to make sure I received the link for wedding pictures.  I did this from the motel's wireless and tried to make sure it was all done with HTTPS.  It was as short as possible on-and-off.

That week, I got a message that my account has been locked due to "suspicious activity" and spamming.  Yeah, I thought that motel was the culrpirt too.  

Within the year since then, my account was locked again due to suspicious activity! Argh! On the plus side I found out about Google's 2-step authentication, which uses your cell phone for receiving the verification code, and immediately signed up.  While it is a pain considering I have 2 browsers on my main (stable) systems and am constantly refreshing the laptop with different or new Linux distributions (each time, connecting via browser to my account requires this verification code).

So, I thought I was safe. Little did I know that just this past week I would be locked out of my account again.  The browse would not accept my password for whatever reason!  It's easy enough to get by with the secret questions AND the verificaton code sent to my cell phone.  It would have been a lot sooner, too, if I hadn't forgotten my cell phone at home!

Getting back in was easy enough, and I reset my password to the same one it was before.  While I was looking in my email through the browser, I get a message that I have been logged out because somebody else was logged in!  WTF? So I went through getting access to my account again and this time changed the password immediately.  I haven't been kicked out since, but that is still scary and annoying!

I thought this 2-step verification system was to help prevent people from getting in!  Especially if when I went in, it should have booted them out just like I got booted out.  I admit, getting booted out was in part my fault for not changing the password to something new.

Now I am keeping in mind when and how I am connecting to the internet when away from home (probably should see what I can do about beefing up my home security as well). What is beginning to worry me is trying to figure out what programs installed on my systems are automatically sending my credentials over Wi-Fi to look for updates and/or run in the background.  I can understand Dropbox and UbuntuOne running when you log in to find out whether there are any updates, which requires credentials to pass. 

What about ChromeOS though, which relies so much on Google for logging in, email, documents, synchronizing extensions and apps, Google talk and whatever else?  And in using Apps, does it really use HTTPS or just HTTP to connect?  I use Secure Login Helper extension which supposedly tries HTTPS first for sites, but does this work for Apps?  Plus I removed as many extensions as I can and keep primarily Apps which are just glorified bookmarks and bookmark those that aren't direct links and removing them.

The internet is not some place for the Paranoid, but I didn't think I was so lax in security to warrant getting compromised 3 times in one year. Hearing there are security issues with Androids is making me cuatiously watching Google's reaction to all of this.  Hopefully it is just a "growing-pain".

Anybody else get their account compromised lately?



Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Born Between 2 Programming Languages

I live in two worlds, and those two worlds pull me apart.  One place where this shows is in the question of programming.

See, at home I am happily using Linux, as well as the whole family, and it is running very smoothly. We have the applications we need, controls we want and flexiblity to meet our needs.  Though we do have Windows 7 installed on the system for dual boot, nobody uses it by choice.  It is slower than Linux on the same hardware and I am not inclinced to spend hundreds of dollars for MS Office so I make do with open source and freeware alternatives including the Microsoft Live applications which are actually pretty good.

On the other hand, I do my work in ASP.NET using Visual Studio and SQL Server.  Thankfully the company feels strongly about education and as such I have been sent to a number of .NET based classes, primarily VB.NET.  Unfortunately I am pretty busy with it so my time to "explore" and further my experience is limited.  I get excited when I get a project that allows me to focus on the .NET programming, while being flexible enough that I can explore options.

So the quandry I get into is which way to focus my personal programming, or programming for my own fun and enjoyment?  Since I program in ASP.NET primarily, my focus is on Web programming more than locally installed applications.  Could it at some point? Probably, but not just yet.

Mono LogoSo t he question is do I stick with .NET (and possibly Mono) due to my familiarity already, and try to extend my knowledge so it may be able to help me at work as well?  I know Monodevelop isn't the same as Visual Studio, but I could probably learn C# enough to help me with the ASP.NET at work.  Either that or I start using Windows and Visual Studio or Web Matrix to this end, leaving Linux for all my other purposes.

The idea that what I explore with it can help with work is very tempting, though the better and easier solution would be to utilize Windows and Visual Studio so that it is even more similar to my work environment, Visual Studio is much easier than Mono develop, .NET skills are more marketable than Mono, and is more compatible.

PHP logoOr do I try and focus on a Linux-friendly programming language such as PHP and MySQL instead, trudging towards something completely different than a Microsoft-based solution knowing that I will have to take time to fill up the experience I already have with .NET but in the new language?  Also, knowing that only a very small fraction of what I learn with home's solution can be migrated over to work.

The other situation I run across is what IDE to use for development. While Visual Studio is my favorite IDE, the closest equivalent I have found so far is NetBeans which is alright.  

Two worlds, two directions.  To try and live in both would mean neither solution woudl advance very far.

Monodevelop Logo vs Visual Studio Logo vs Netbeans Logo