Archive for September, 2006

USM – Universal Subscription Mechanism

Stumbled upon the RSS on Microsoft Watch, which included instructions for using USM with RSS. USM allows you to automatically subscribe to the RSS simply by clicking on the RSS link.

Previously, the RSS links to the XML file when you click on it. It is required to copy the link and register it with your favourite RSS reader. With this mechanism, the instruction to register the RSS is embedded within the click using a specific MIME-type, which can be handled by a USM application. The application would interpret the RSS URL and register the feed with your favourite RSS reader that the USM application supports.

The protocol is fully specified at this location:



I was told by one of our users today, “This feature is very straightforward, very logical and intuitive one…”.

What I felt he meant was a nicer way of saying: “Use common sense and you’ll know la…”. Yet we know we don’t understand enough about that feature.

In reality, common sense isn’t so common after all. I mean, what I think is common sense, is based on my experience and what I think everyone should know. However, that is so not true. It is related to one’s experience and culture, and how he/she see things.

This common sense problem becomes more problematic when dealing with user requirements. The user feels that the requirements are complete, because the omitted details are so logical, sensible, and can be automatically and “inituitively” interpreted by anyone. And so he may choose not to go into the level of detail necessary to save time and saliva. That assumption may lead to incorrect implementation, due to domain ignorance of the developers, especially if they don’t make an effort to clarify the requirements.

Of course it’s unlikely you’ll get totally complete and totally unambiguous requirements, but you should try to understand as much as possible. On one extreme is believing there’s such thing as a “complete requirements”, and the other end is believing there’s no such thing so we can ignore requirements gathering.

Better be shot during requirements stage than to be strangled after development when the product don’t meet user expectations. The cost of change would be too high then.


XAMPP – Apache, MySQL, Perl, PHP

XAMPP is a ready-built apache web server with the attached modules, all ready for it. Instructions say jus unzip and use!

Izit real?


Stunned by DownloadThemAll

Another nifty Firefox plugin. Considered a download manager, allows you to download stuff. Stunned me the first time with an amazing mp3 download speed of 177 KB/s…

At first I was looking for something that can do pauses and resumes – unlike Firefox’s built-in download manager. Kinda sucks anyway. Known as DTA, it is supposed to do some other stuff like grab more than links. Will try it over time.


Password Hasher

The Password Hasher is a Firefox extension that lets you create and remember complicated passwords easily.

The motivation comes from combining the need for strong passwords and the preference for easy-to-remember passwords. By hashing your simple password into a complicated one, you are able to secure your password since it’s difficult for hackers to guess. Yet you can use it with ease since you’re “generating” the actual password based on a simple keyphrase that you know.

I’ve not tried it myself so I do not know the actual benefits or quirks, but the idea is great. One of the first negative thoughts I have was is the hash based on a key? What if you lose the key, such as during a PC crash/reformat? You lose ALL your passwords?!