If you tell enough stories, perhaps the moral will show up.



I still mull over the wasted capacity of the paddocks to grow woodchip and the shanty town to store it. But a woodchip boiler is a big investment and while I suspect the prices won't come down, the features ought to improve as they become more common.

I need a reason to start planting willow coppice now, so I'm running an experiment. Every year I cut down the mass of decorative dogwood that the previous owner liked to contrast with the birches. She may have been right -- she certainly demonstrated that cornus does well here. This year, instead of burning the switches, I've shredded them to get a cubic metre or so of brightly coloured woodchip. It's sitting in a basket made of old wire fireguards, drying off, I hope, in the woodshed. Provided they don't ferment, and they don't seem to be doing that, I'm going to try them in the woodburner to see how they do.

[3 May -- Yes they are fermenting. Arses.]

The most likely outcome, I suppose, is that they'll have failed to dry, or they'll suffocate the fire. But the next most likely is that I've got two hundred pounds of low-grade firewood essentially for free, and that's going to have me sticking in willow slips in the wet part of next winter....


Nationwide Token Delivery

Huge excitement when Mrs U received a smartcard reader for her Nationwide online banking. (OK -- I was excited, and that'll do for the purposes of this post.) It's cheap and nasty -- made in PRC -- and she doesn't have much money in that account , so it looks like an all-customers rollout. I hope it's the proper APACS EMV style job that'll work on any UK payment smartcard. It would be too depressing if they fucked this up with proprietary gimmicks.

I'm really impressed by the potential of the smartcard+disconnected reader combo. It really opens up potential to use the same token -- the card -- for authentication on the PCs (directly with attached USB card readers), authentication on the SSL VPN with untrusted clients (no drivers needed with a disconnected reader and a OTP app on the card), and a building pass with HID coils built into the card. When I'm back at work, I hope to have some integrators lined up to show me what they can do.


Safe vs Free

As vanity/personal sites go, Things of Interest is one of the best. There's a lot of interesting things -- simple but sometimes provocative and robustly logical. Presenting Arguably the most important question of the decade as a poll -- Would you rather be "Safe" or "Free"? is in that style.

As a man I wanted to select "Free", but as a father, I wanted "Safe". But really I knew that the poll was wrong. Here's a mockup of my version.

Which would you rather be:Safe1 or Free?

1 Please note that preferring safety to freedom will not make you safer. However the corresponding loss of freedom will be delivered promptly and reliably.

Mind you. It's probably too late for "Free", as well.


Microsoft Abandons AD Shock!

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM product is probably on the shortlist for every greenfield CRM implementation. It's on ours simply because we've slipped a couple of versions in our existing system.

It's no surprise. The system, developed entirely internally by Microsoft, is a showcase for the options available for .net applications: SQL, IIS, Async, Workflow and the rest. It's a modern architecture and I think it would be fair to say that this is how MS expect applications to be built now. Which means that it also contains a really good joke.

Remember Active Directory? I do, in fact I'm pretty sure it was going to be at the heart of the modern enterprise. What that means is a question for another time, what's clear for now is that Microsoft doesn't believe it any more. Dynamics CRM 4.0 barely touches the AD after the user has authenticated. All the access control, all of the organisational structure is built entirely in the application data structures. Domain groups? We've heard of them!

I asked whether this put the DBAs into an access control role we've tried to limit to the helpdesk. The answer was a peach: the data are very normal, but none the less too complicated to edit by hand. And the DBAs won't have the access anyway...

Goodbye AD. Goodbye ACLs. Goodbye integrated access control. I never really believed, but for a while I did hope.


Blue Flash

Here's a fine end to a long slog. I've just started a couple of weeks off and walking home on Friday, just as I crossed the river, I saw a flash of blue zipping along under the bridge a foot above the water.

I'd never seen a kingfisher before, but I have now.

Mind you -- just in case it all seems too springy -- it's snowing thickly today, and there's more promised.


Time Based Rant

My Blackberry 8800 is a handy little device. It's subscribed to a UK GSM network (the UK networks all have reliable GSM time) and it's a GPS receiver (of course GPS is all about time to the microsocond).

So why does the clock displayed on the front drift four or five seconds in a day?



Busy March

Why so many posts in March? Simple -- Mrs U is spending my bonus on builders and I'm sleeping next to attic computer. Easy to post.