Desktop Firewall Silently Blocking Breeze Live Meeting

Breeze Live meetings, analogous to WebEx meetings, utilize the Flash Player as the medium for permitting multiple guest attendees to view the desktop of the Presenter. Breeze Live has built-in video and audio capability as well as whiteboarding and chat, and the Breeze Live Presenter can grant permission to a specific guest to also become a Presenter in order to share the guest desktop with the original Presenter and other guests.

This could be a great way to handle many technical support problems as Breeze Live is conducted over the HTTP port 80, so if the person needing support can at least browse the internet, then that person can also participate in a Breeze Live meeting with technical support. Both sides can visually demonstrate problems and solutions to eachother as needed. Breeze Live can faciliate problem solving by reducing confusion that can occur during telephone or email communications.

While attempting to practice a Breeze Live meeting today, I was completely perplexed for longer than I care to say when the Breeze meeting would not start. I was able to set up a meeting, invite attendees, but when clicking on the button to enter the meeting, the Breeze Live presenter plug-in (Breeze Add-In, a special Flash player called breezeaddin.exe) launched in a small white box with the text "Loading Breeze...". Nothing else happened, and the normal Breeze presenter interface didn't launch. I began following all the troubleshooting instructions that are documented for Breeze Live, scouring the TCP/IP settings of my network connections, monitoring the executables in memory with Process Explorer, and even doing network traces to determine if Breeze was even getting to the network.

Somewhere during this I recalled that earlier in the day I disabled the Zone Alarm personal firewall for Windows desktops. I confirmed that the ZA icon wasn't in the system tray, so I assumed that it wasn't running. But when looking through the Services control panel, I found the TrueVector Internet Monitor and it was running. It occured to me then that the Service was tied to the Zone Alarm program, and I realized that the TrueVector Service was still blocking new programs from accessing the internet even though the ZA system tray icon was not running. When the ZA icon is present in the system tray, the program will display a pop-up alert when an unauthorized program attempts to access the internet. The user can click YES or NO. But without the GUI in the sys tray, all programs are blocked and no notification is provided.

I added the Zone Alarm program back to the Start Up group under the Windows Start menu, so that the sys tray program would launch upon a reboot, and so that the gui would be present when the service is running. Starting the Zone Alarm sys tray program and then running Breeze Live caused a pop-up alert notification that the Flash Player would like to access the internet. Clicking the box for YES permitted Breeze Live to initialize the Presenter interface, and the practice meeting then succeeded.

Starting Breeze Live Failed, Showing Only a Pop-up Flash Player Window The Zone Alarm GUI Was Stopped, But the TrueVector Service Was Still Running Starting the Zone Alarm System Tray Program Permitted Notifications for Programs to Access the InternetConfiguring the ZA Firewall Permitted the BreezeLive Meeting to Begin

Adult Bone Marrow Stems Cells Don't Mend Broken Hearts

Two recent reports in the journal Nature [ article ] agree that adult stem cells derived from bone marrow do not effectively repair damaged heart tissue. These 2004 reports contradict early indications of success in 2001 [ article ].

The findings may indicate a further need for the derivation of new embroyonic stem cell lines to treat heart disease, perhaps throwing a wrench into the conservative ban by the Bush administration on public funding of research which utilizes embryonic stem cells from new cell lines [ past blog ].

See how embryonic stem cells are created in the lab in this Wired Magazine article from January 2004.

Cambridge-MIT Institute (CMI): A Partnership for Computational Systems Biology

Bio-IT World reported that the University of Cambridge, England and MIT have teamed up to form the Cambridge-MIT Institute [ article ] [ website ]. The partnership will tackle "Next Generation Drug Discovery" though the application of computer modeling to Systems Biology. Systems Biology attempts to look at the big picture of the human body as a complex system, rather than the isolated context of a single gene or protein.

See also the January, 2004 Bio-IT World interview with Dr. Leroy Hood, founder of the Institute for Systems Biology.

Continuing Education at M.I.T. Professional Institute

Did you know MIT is offering continuing eduction courses this summer? The MIT Professional Institute offers the categories of Bioinformatics, Computer Engineering, Physics/Astronomy, and System Design amoung others. The courses each run a few days to a week, and generally cost about $2-3000.

MIT Professional Institute Summer Session

Configuring Flex Samples Application for ColdFusion MX

Macromedia Flex has gone live tonight [CNET News], and I greatly anticipate working with this awesome product going forward. One of my first Flex Technotes addresses how to configure the Flex Samples application for ColdFusion MX. The Flex installation comes with the basic Flex war file for deployment to a J2EE server, and it also comes with an jaw-dropping suite of pre-built Flex sample applications like the Flex Explorer and the Flex Store. For those interested in running Flex, Flex Samples, and ColdFusion MX all on the same JRun server instance, here's how to do it: TechNote 19258

Flex Bloggers include:

I'll be contributing with my own Flex blog category as well.

Welcome Flex!

Its just past midnight, and while checking the Macromedia website I found that Macromedia Flex has just been publically launched. Welcome Flex!

From the Macromedia Flex page, Flex is described as:

The Macromedia Flex presentation server offers a familiar, standards-based programming framework and powerful set of components for creating a rich, responsive presentation tier for enterprise Rich Internet Applications (RIAs).

CNET News describes Flex as:

Flex, formerly code-named Royale, allows developers to create scripts in common languages such as Java and .Net and to run them on top of Web applications. Flex breaks them down into a Macromedia dialect of extensible markup language (XML) that can be read by the Flash Player, the widespread Flash client commonly used to spice up Web pages.

Libby Freligh provides an Overview of Flex in a Breeze presentation here, and Ben Forta provides an update for the ColdFusion Community in a Breeze presentation here.

I'm pleased to see that my first Flex Technotes also went live tonight:

  • [ TechNote 19260 ] Protection of MXML Source Code using pre-compiled SWF files

  • [ TechNote 19258 ] Configuring the Flex Samples application for ColdFusion MX

Macromedia to Port Products to Wine

I'm a little late to catch this, but while once again working on getting HomeSite+ 5.5 and Dreamweaver MX 2004 to run under WINE on Fedora Core 1 Linux (see previous blog), I came across a very interesting news article from the recent Flash Forward conference regarding WINE.


Diverse Perspectives on Outsourcing IT Jobs

Everyone's talking about outsourcing IT jobs in the USA to overseas locations, so to follow on my previous blog, here some more thoughful commentaries on this phenomenon.

Robert Cringely

In a series of Pulpit articles, Bob describes outsourcing as a natural dynamic in the evolution of capitalistic cultures. In short, he says that in the life cycle of a technology or industry, outsourcing occurs while in the shadow of anticipation of the Next Big Thing.

[ link 1 ] [ link 2 ] [ link 3]


Neliano Lab

Click for Large Image Brandeis Castle Cape Cod Rail Trail

Photos of the Nelson and Turrigino Labs (Neliano) at Brandeis University, where I worked from 1998-2000.

Dynamic PDF Generation using ColdFusion MX, XSL-FO, and FOP

The Apache XML FOP Project utilizes XML based stylesheets written to the XSL-FO schema as the input to render as output any of a variety of document types, but most commonly PDF. ColdFusion MX can easily be used to generate dymamic content in a pre-defined XSL-FO stylesheet, where the stylesheet is then transformed by a FOP servlet to produce they customized PDF as output to the client. From the Apache website, FOP is described as:

FOP (Formatting Objects Processor) is the world's first print formatter driven by XSL formatting objects (XSL-FO) and the world's first output independent formatter. It is a Java application that reads a formatting object (FO) tree and renders the resulting pages to a specified output. Output Formats currently supported include PDF, PCL, PS, SVG, XML (area tree representation), Print, AWT, MIF and TXT. The primary output target is PDF.

Here's what I did to generate my own dynamic PDFs with ColdFusion MX:


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