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Dispatches from the frontier … I can’t read this … VNC made easy 28th of July, 2006 POST·MERIDIEM 04:21

So, yes, to my surprise Tettnang is not remotely Vietnamese, despite what the name would indicate. (You know? The Tet offensive, Da Nang Officers’ Open Mess? Okay, don’t indulge me.) The air seemed somehow better down there; less crap in it. I swear that living here has accelerated my aging— my face no longer looks like I’m twelve, and no-one here over twenty has the skin of a teenager.

Anyway, back in Berlin, uncomfortably warm, waiting for the storm that this humidity presages, tempted to buy a Mac mini because I’ve just been paid and my Dell laptop can’t be trusted to compile redisplay.c without overheating in this weather. For some obscure reason am also having trouble reading my monitor and feeling slightly queasy.

Webex (dot com) is great, people. It’s basically VNC implemented in Java over SSL, with a central service to handle invitations and to coördinate letting other people access your machine; no need to mess about with firewalls, installing programs, ssh port forwarding. Kudos to them. (Of course, it costs money.)

Word of the day: la guajira is a Cuban Spanish word for a folk song.


We used Webex to handle group presentations at one of my old jobs (the department was in charge of webcasting live engineering courses). It made what was once an annoyance to all involved (the camera operators, the network operators, the instructor and the students) one of the easiest parts of the job.

Re: Mac mini. Do it :-) Although, might want to wait just a little bit longer as the developer’s conference is coming up and I imagine they’ll release some improvements/new features there. Then again, I haven’t heard much about the Mac mini’s role at the conference, so maybe not. I read recently that Apple has put refurbished Intel Mac minis up on their store at $100 off the original retail price, so maybe now is a good time to jump ship...We would certainly love to have you :-)

Re: accelerated aging in Berlin. Perhaps I should look into moving back, since I have a theory that I may always look like I’m 12. (You’d think LA would have done something for me in that department, but no.)

You should check out copilot, from FogCreek. It’s only peer to peer, but it’s much simpler than webex, so it’s handy (and cheaper) for casual use.

Emma: The heat has eased off, and I got some relatively mighty nerding done over the weekends, so I shall put it off for a few months more. (Yes, yes, I’m just teasing you cult members :-) . As to the aging, it’s not attractive aging, you don’t want it.

Mal: Copilot is VNC, right? It was the SSL-tunneling magic of Webex that impressed me more than anything, and if Copilot has the performance of VNC with this feature, I’ll be a convert.

Copilot uses 128-bit SSL, and works through most network setups that can view the webpage, though I’ve seen it fail on a machine that was locked down to prevent running of new apps, so it’s not always an option.

Putting it off might not be a bad idea, given yesterday’s keynote at WWDC. Leopard will be out in early ’07, and I’ll bet there will be other tasty improvements with Leopard’s release. (And then you can get the Intel Mac Pro with Leopard! :-)

Mal: Cool, noted for next time; maybe I can convince the company to buy a subscription.

Emma: Mmm, sixty-four-bit fun!

There’s absolutely nothing that a man could say that would top Mmm, sixty-four-bit fun! in turning me on ;-)

Emma, you dork :-) .

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