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January 2007
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April 2007

Google Apps

The new Google Apps Premier Edition (here) provides a low-cost alternative to Microsoft Office for less intensive, or more price sensitive desktop users.

Premier Edition adds the means for integration with Active Directory accounts and with existing e-mail, so you don't have to log on to separate systems. It also means no ads.

It could be useful for people working from home, or for very low usage in the office, maybe on a Linux desktop.


Ingenuity

Two weeks ago we visited Ironbridge, in Shropshire, one of the centres of the Industrial Revolution in the 1700's. It is a quite extraordinary place, on the River Severn, close to lime and iron ore deposits and upstream from the port of Bristol. It is the birthplace of cast iron, bringing together the coke to smelt it, the steam engines to pump air into the furnaces to heat it, the railways and canals to move it.

We got into a discussion about the meaning of the words "engine" and "engineer". An engine powers a vehicle, but an engineer builds things like bridges and ships. We discovered that the words come from the Latin ingenium, meaning ingenuity and hence ingenious things.

Moving to today, a very good friend of mine has set up a home weatherstation and published it on the web. It's worth a look. It's just amazing what you can do with a bit of ingenuity.


Too many different passwords?

Single sign-on, or integrated authentication, is easily overlooked by people doing IT. Here are some common and unnecessary scenes:

  • the Intranet has a different logon from the desktop. Why??
  • The xyz web service has a different logon. Again, why??
  • The mail system and finance system have different logons.

On top of that they run different password policies: some require at least 6 characters, some at least 8, some even exactly 8!
The result is that people forget, they write it down, they share or they just don't bother to use the service at all. Technically there is no excuse for it. It is easy enough to integrate the logons.

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