Adam Fields (weblog)

This blog is largely deprecated, but is being preserved here for historical interest. Check out my index page at for more up to date info. My main trade is technology strategy, process/project management, and performance optimization consulting, with a focus on enterprise and open source CMS and related technologies. More information. I write periodic long pieces here, shorter stuff goes on twitter or


The Canon Pixma Pro 9000 is a great inkjet photo printer

Filed under: — adam @ 3:15 pm

I got a Canon Pixma Pro 9000 to replace my dead Epson Stylus 1280. Having not bought a new inkjet printer in about 7 years, I’m totally stunned by how far the technology has improved, even over the previous round which was pretty impressive.

First, it’s REALLY fast. While a letter size photo on the 1280 would take a good 5 minutes to print, the Pixma spit my first test print out in, oh, about 25 seconds. When it started to go, I did an actual doubletake – I was not really expecting that.

Second, the color is outstanding. With no adjustment at all, it got very close to my calibrated screen. Not exact, but close enough that you probably wouldn’t notice unless you held it up to the screen and looked at them side by side. On regular old Costco photo paper.

Third, the ink usage seems better designed. It has 8 separate ink carts, which are individually replaceable, instead of one.

Fourth, when you’re not using it, the paper path trays fold up and click into the case, which I expect will significantly reduce the amount of dust and stray hair that always seemed to get into the paper path on the old printer.

Fifth, it has more cleaning modes, to clean the print heads, deep clean the print heads, and also clean the bottom tray to prevent smudges. Also, the entire print head is replaceable if needed.

The only drawback I can see so far is that it’s gigantic. That’s kind of a side effect to being able to print on big paper, but even though it’s physically slightly bigger than the 1280 was, it seems more intelligently designed to take up as little space as it can and still do what it does.

I got it for $439 at Amazon, which is about $100 less than I paid for the 1280 originally:

Highly recommended.

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Microsoft should release XP for free

Filed under: — adam @ 3:47 pm

It is well known that free products are used more widely than products that people have to pay for. If Vista is so much better, then people will still pay money for it, and having more installations of XP around to keep people using Windows apps instead of switching to Mac or Linux can only be a good thing for Microsoft, whose continued success depends not only on agreements with PC manufacturers, but also on the continued existence of Windows-only software that people need to run. This benefits Microsoft, and will result in more sales of Vista (and subsequent versions), as other software vendors evolve into the same “The XP version is free, but if you want the premium version, you need Vista” pattern. Essentially – XP becomes the shareware limited demo version of Windows, and you pay if you want the full version.

This obviously benefits the consumer, because free is good, and there are plenty of places (VMs, especially), where it would be useful to run XP, but where the current price is cost prohibitive. Making XP free would open up the Windows market to those potential customers.

Anyone who’s switching to Mac or Linux has already made the decision to do it, and isn’t turning back because they can’t run Windows in a VM… because they already can. This would just make everyone’s life easier, and generate a LOT more goodwill for Microsoft than they have now.

Microsoft, despite being ridiculously profitable, is in danger of losing relevance. This is one way to combat that.

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Well that’s just about the strangest thing I’ve seen all day

Filed under: — adam @ 8:14 pm

“This work began on the day when we had made a extra big candy like a bowling ball by ourselves.
Since that day, we had been licking the candy day after day for about six months.’

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New social networking features on Confabb launched today

Filed under: — adam @ 2:41 pm

I’m extremely proud of the Confabb site, and it’s nice to see it evolving past the limited feature set we were able to squeeze in before launch. There’s a LOT more great stuff coming. The development team has been working very hard for the past few months, and a bunch of new social networking features went live today.

From the press release:

New Logged-in Homepage

Log in and check out ‘your new homepage.’ Above ‘your conferences’ is the new ‘your network,’ a bird’s-eye view of bulletin board messages from within your network (more on that below), your online Confabb connections and any messages sent to you by those within the Confabb community. Click on ‘My Account’ to see the full range of search and connection possibilities. Post your own messages for everyone to see on “your bulletin board,” which will be broadcast globally—Confabb pings no fewer than 68 of the major alerting services—or have a one-on-one discussion with other Confabb members. You can also see what others are talking about and invite new people, either from within or outside of Confabb, to join your network.

New Search!

There are two new forms of search on the site (you’ll all remember that the search function was Confabb’s Achilles Heel when we launched). There is now an advanced search for conferences which drills down into multiple parameters such as location, keyword, location, category and when the show date starts and stops. That nullifies one of the biggest knocks we got at launch. People will love it. We’ve also added a “User Search” which lets Confabb users search for and connect with other Confabb community members. Of course that sets us up for connecting people within the community and that’s the best part.

MY Connections (or “buddy lists”)

Just as you keep a list of people with home you correspond daily, the “My Connections” tab is your gateway to the personal contacts you’ve made within the Confabb community–people with whom you’ve connected before and want to stay in touch with going forward. This is your personal network; friends, colleagues and other contacts whose whereabouts and doings you want to follow as they prepare for and an attend events. Attendees can view a list of other conference participants, check out their profiles, invite them into their personal network and email them directly through Confabb’s personal messaging feature.

Personal Messaging

This is the Confabb community’s personal email service. We respect everyone’s right to privacy so messaging within the community is handled by us; simply use the “contact” link to jot a note to the person of your choice and we’ll send the message to the email that person has registered within our system. Responses are handled by us as well so your information is never revealed unless you choose to do that outside of the community.


This is cool. “Media” is just that: everything that interests you from across the web, from text-based articles and links to photos, RSS feeds for breaking information and even full blown videos. The content comes from the web’s leading sources of open information, including Technorati, Google and Yahoo!, Feedster, Flickr and YouTube. Simply click the “Media” tab at the top of the navigation bar and find information on just about anything by searching for the subject’s name or the subject’s tag in the desired content source. The Media tab lets you experience the conference through everyone else’s eyes, and they experience it through content you create, find and share with them.

Bulletin Boards

Confabb now provides all of its users with their own personal blogs, or bulletin boards, from which they can share their thoughts, opinions on the issues and experiences. This is the community member’s space; it’s intensely individual, consisting of the member’s content and comments from their readers. People can also read the musing of others within their network by clicking on the “Bulletin Board Posts within My Network” tab, which shows what others within their network are saying too.

Each board–the individual blog and the personal network bulletin board–are completely searchable by the major search engines. You will build traffic from within the community as well as anyone from around the globe with an interest in what you have to say!

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Google has just bought a lot of browsing history of the internet

I pointed out that YouTube was a particularly valuable acquisition to Google because their videos are the most embedded in other pages of any of the online video services. When you embed your own content in someone else’s web page, you get the ability to track who visits that page and when, to the extent that you can identify them. This is how Google Analytics works – there’s a small piece of javascript loaded into the page which is served from one of Google’s servers, and then everytime someone hits that page, they get the IP address, the URL of the referring page, and whatever cookies are stored with the browser for the domain. As I’ve discussed before, this is often more than enough information to uniquely identify a person with pretty high accuracy.

DoubleClick has been doing this for a lot longer than Google has, and they have a lot of history there. In addition to their ad network, Google has also just acquired that entire browsing history, profiles of the browsing of a huge chunk of the web. Google’s privacy policy does not seem to apply to information acquired from sources other than, so they’re probably free to do whatever they want with this profile data.

[Update: In perusing their privacy policy, I noted this: If Google becomes involved in a merger, acquisition, or any form of sale of some or all of its assets, we will provide notice before personal information is transferred and becomes subject to a different privacy policy. This doesn't specify which end of the merger they're on, so maybe this does cover personal information they acquire. I wonder if they're planning on informing everyone included in the DoubleClick database.]

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Remember when DoubleClick was pretty universally reviled and sued for privacy violations a few years back?

Oh yeah.


Cadbury got busted for reducing the size of the Creme Egg and then lying about it

Filed under: — adam @ 3:31 pm

I used to get a Cadbury Creme Egg a year about the same time I had my annual McRib. Since I’ve realized over the course of the past few years that you’re only supposed to eat food, I didn’t know that Cadbury reduced the size of the Creme Egg this year. And then they lied about it! And they blamed it on the increasing size of their consumers (possibly from eating too many Creme Eggs)! And then they got busted on National TV! At least they could have had the dignity to release the “New Creme Egg”, and then release the “Creme Egg Classic” in the smaller form factor when people complained about the new formula.

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Open letter to Apple asking for help improving medical design

Filed under: — adam @ 3:22 pm

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New in Photoshop CS3 – “Quick Selection Tool”

Filed under: — adam @ 11:07 am

They took the best of the magic wand, color range selection, magnetic lasso, and channel selection, and rolled it all up into a new kind of brush – the quick selection tool.

You paint with the brush for broad strokes to define your selection, then you have a dialog box to refine the edge with radius, contrast, smoothing, feathering, and contrast selectors, with 5 kinds of masked preview. (Also, it appears that the Refine Edges dialog is also available on all of the other selection tools.)

This alone is worth the price of the upgrade.

Documentation is non-existent in the beta, but I found this tutorial:

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The end of DRM is nigh

The iTunes store is about to start selling the entire EMI catalog DRM-free. It’s slightly more expensive, but also higher quality.

This completely destroys the rationale behind having any DRM at all. It can’t be because they’re afraid of the higher quality recordings getting out, because those are the ones they’re releasing without DRM. All that remains is shafting the customer, which is of course all that DRM is actually good for.

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