Gambling on a different scale

I happened to be looking up an old Sloan instructor, Todd Dagres, who had been an assistant professor in my entrepreneurship curriculum, working alongside Howard Anderson. Dagres had led Battery Ventures’ investments in Akamai and Qtera back in 1999, but in 2001 was calling the tech IPO market a “nuclear winter.” Now that there are signs of life, however small, in the market, I wondered if Dagres had revised his assessment.

According to this Boston Globe article from last October, he’s revised it, all right. He’s left the business entirely—and started a film investment firm, BeGyle.

I guess film is another industry where big capital investments yield big returns—or big zeroes.

New Apple enterprise products

Apple released a bunch of new enterprise-class products today, including single 2.0 GHz and dual 2.3GHz XServes, and Xsan, a new 64-bit storage area network file system which gives up to 64 clients simultaneous read-write access to a Fibre Channel storage network (with volumes up to 16 TB in size) operating at speeds up to 400 Mbps. (All at a low low cost of $999 per node.) Apple also slashed prices on Cinema Displays; the 20-inch display, which used to weigh in at $1299, is now $999. (A bargain!)

Thanks to MacOSXRumors, whose staff must refresh the Apple Store page every Monday morning to catch these early warning signs, for the heads up.

Mac OS X Encrypted Mail: howto, pitfalls

A year or more ago, I quietly started digitally signing most of my outgoing email messages. This trick, made possible by the S/MIME support in Mac OS X’s email client, is about providing authentication—proof that the message came from me and not from someone spoofing my return address, like an email virus or spammer. For the most part the digital signature is handled painlessly by receiving email clients; some will display a “digitally signed” graphic, but that’s about it.

If you want to get your own digital signature enabled in Mac OS X, this tutorial at O’Reilly’s MacDevCenter is the best I’ve found for going through the process, including signing up for your own free digital certificate at Thawte.

I should mention a few issues, however:

  1. Recent versions of Outlook enforce some stringent rules about attachments and digital signatures; specifically, if IE doesn’t know about the agency that issued my certificate, Outlook won’t allow you to open attachments in signed mails from me. Which to me seems silly, as it will allow you to open attachments in unsigned mails from me. But oh well.
  2. Other users with unspecified email clients have had problems with their clients treating the digital signature (which is attached to the email like a file) as a graphic file of some sort.
  3. Thawte certificates are only good for one year, and Mac OS X doesn’t warn about expiring certificates. I stopped sending signed emails and didn’t notice for about a week, then had to figure out how to get an updated certificate. It was a pain. Long story short—remember the password for your login on Thawte’s site.