Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Examination Blues

XML : Syntax :: RDF : Semantics ???

Just three hours to go...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Firefox Just Got Hotter with 1.5

Firefox 1.5 is finally out!

Get it here now!

Upgrade to Firefox 1.5!

In case you are wondering why you need to upgrade, Firefox 1.5 comes with significant performance & usability upgrades, greater customization options and supports Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), JavaScript 1.6 and new versions of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets).

Firefox 1.5 Releasing Soon

I just came across this on Spread Firefox. Looks like we'll see Firefox 1.5 anytime now!

It’s 5AM here in the UK and me any my small team of engineers are off home to bed after helping to get SFx ready for tomorrows big event:)In about twelve hours time “it is very likely” that Firefox 1.5 will be officially with us, and to mark this occasion Spread Firefox isgoing to be launching a very special campaign; That I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you about now… But I’d recommend you stay as close to the site as you can over the next 24 hours! (hint get some campaign buttons for your blogs & sites as they award points too!)

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Paint.NET v2.5 available for download

Paint.NET v2.5, about which I had written earlier this year, is out of beta and is available for download now. Started as a CS undergraduate design project at Washington State University, is an image and photo manipulation software supporting layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools.

Paint.NET Screenshot
Paint.NET Screenshot

Paint.NET can be installed on computers that run Windows XP (SP1 or later), Windows 2000 (SP3 or later), Windows Server 2003, or Windows Vista and requires .NET Framework 1.1.installed.

Download: Paint.NET v2.5

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Free Online Data Storage. We never had so many options

With so many options for remote data backup available today, FREE online data storage never had so much excitement going around. Here are some of the new services I came across recently.

Mozy LogoMozy is a remote backup and archiving service that requires you to create a mozy user account and install a software on your computer, It is a small download available at their site with which you get 1 GB of backup storage. But if you fill out their survey, they give you 2 GB of space. Mozy provides Open File support, 128-bit SSL Support (to secure your data during transport) and 448-bit Blowfish Encryption (to secure your data on our server)

In return for the free Mozy data backup service, Mozy will be sending emails to its users with advertisements for products and services useful for the users in its opinion. Not really a great ask for all the storage space they are offering.

Mashable has written a quick introduction of the next two online storage solutions": AllMyData and Openomy.

Openomy LogoOf these two, I found the approach of Openomy quite interesting. Instead of folders, Openomy has adopted the 'tags' concept to organize the files. Something really interesting and never heard of before in online data backups. It is currently offering 1Gb of storage space and it is absolutely free to use.

Also it can allow certain outside applications (of your choice) to interact with your data. For development of these web applications, it has made available the API documentation. An example application has been developed by Maurice Codik called Openomy/RSS which publishes feeds with tags and notifies the subscribers when files under the feed's tags get updated.

AllMyData LogoThe other site AllMyData is more of a p2p kind solution using the power of grid, in which you get free storage by sharing space on your hard drive. In the free plan, for every 10 Mb you share, you get 1 Mb of space on Allmydata. So if you share 10 Gb on your hard drive, AllMyData gives you 1 Gb.

Streamload Streamload is way ahead when it comes to prviding online storage space in terms of Gb. It offers 10 Gb, almost 10 times the others provide. However, the data is NOT ENCRYPTED and hence loses out to the other services that I mentioned above. But it seems to be a good option for storing the not-so-critical data such as photos or music files. There's another thing though, the downloads are restricted to only 100Mb a month and 10Mb a file.

eSnips LogoeSnips again provides 1 Gb of data storage online. However, the interesting part is the eSnips toolbar (for IE only) that allows you to "snip" any content you see on the web and store in your eSnips account. It allows the user to "Save text, images and links from any web site, highlight relevant sections, add personal comments and save the source."

It also allows for file sharing options where the invited people get a link directly to the shared folder where they can add their comments, contribute their own files and also invite more people to the folder. Now that makes it a very good collaborative development tool. I particlularly like the interface they have. Neat and informative.

Besides these free services, there is XDrive, a very popular online file storage option and Strongspace. If you need online storage in excess of 1Gb and are willing to pay, then these two are options worth considering.

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Google heading towards e-commerce 3.0

InternetRetailer has a story on how "Google is heading toward capturing the next e-commerce paradigm using search to buy anything from anyone, anywhere."

From InternetRetailer:
Now that it has taken the Internet search market by storm, Google is heading toward capturing the next e-commerce paradigm—using search to buy anything from anyone, anywhere, Safa Rashtchy, senior research analyst at investment firm Piper Jaffray & Co., tells “Google will be a Craigslist on steroids—a very potent and dangerous challenge to where eBay wants to go,” Rashtchy says.

While eBay has brought millions into online commerce, it is still too complicated for sellers who balk at the listing process and for buyers who don’t want purchase from someone located far away, he adds.

Craigslist Inc.’s has pioneered a new form of e-commerce, which Rashtchy and others call “e-commerce 3.0,” that connects consumers with sellers of products and services in local communities.

E-commerce 1.0 was defined by early efforts by dot-coms at excessive branding and advertising, but without a sustainable platform or customer base, Rashtchy says. E-commerce 2.0 debuted with the advent of Internet search, which provided the necessary connection between e-retailers and large volumes of consumers, and 3.0 will take that to a local level.

[via Emergic]

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Friday, November 25, 2005

Yet another Online Calendar - Monket

I might be the last person left on the planet who doesn't know that is LIVE for more than two months! However, if you follow the link, you won't find any Google Calendar on it as it is currently only showing the Google Search Homepage. More confirmation that Google has plans for a Calendar about which I wrote in February.

However, if you can't wait till there actually is a Google calendar, there's another dynamic web based calendar that you could try out. Monket supports "drag and drop events to change dates, drag the start/end of an event to create multi-day events, create and edit events without refreshing the page, all with an iCal style interface."

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

SlashDigg and - For all nerd news freaks

Slashdigg and are two sites I came across recently that combine news from the three most popular sources out there: Slashdot, Digg and combines news from Digg, Slashdot and into a unified format Also it claims to eliminate dupes and add some extra niceities.

The other site Slashdigg aggregates news form Slashdot and Digg and provides various viewing options such as side by side, frames, and combined and also has a 'Super Nerd News' section that combines news from sources such as, wired, cnet.

From what I see of their interface, I think Slashdigg makes use of the Lilina Aggregator.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Short notes

Too much of procrastination throughout the semester ensured that I was busy the whole past week loaded with tons of project work and presentations. Hence no updates here.

OpenGL is really cool. I just finished a Project yesterday with my friend coding a basketball game in OpenGL and it was fun.
looks like it has had a revamp of sorts. It looks neat with recent and popular bookmarks arranged in columns.

Gaming in Universities has the Profs concerned. An IIT student commits suicide. The reason: He had failed in three courses because of poor attendance. Could gaming be the only reason for poor attendance? I have known people who are as ignorant about gaming as I am(and that is as ignorant as one could get) and yet have seriously poor attendance.

Also, Niall Kennedy 's blog has instructions on adding your blog to Google Base. Another avenue for Splogs?

And finally, updates here would be sporadic over the next few days as I will be busy with the end-sem examinations.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

W3C opens India Office

Pallab had this entry on The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) opening its India Office at Noida, India hosted by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC Noida).

Seen as as "the national contact point for W3C activities in India," this India Office of W3C will be instrumental in promoting efforts in local languages, broaden W3C's geographical base, and encourage international participation in W3C Activities.

The site has a listing of W3C Prospectus W3C related events in India, Indian members of the W3C, Latest News & Newsletters, and Mailing List

At the top of Indian Members List of the W3C is Department of Information Technology, Government of India, ( Just out of curiosity I checked for its conformance to W3C Recommendations and other standards with W3C Markup Validation Service. Here is the result: Failed validation, 80 errors.

The website of CDAC India, second on the list, was down. But I am sure we'll find even more surprising results!

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Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie blogs on MSN Spaces

Microsoft's Chief Technology Officer, Ray Ozzie has started a new Spaces blog.

Here is what RayOzzie wrote on his new Spaces Blog:
...A couple of weeks ago, Bill and I brought life to a new initiative that, over the course of the months and years ahead, will catalyze and deliver a number of things that I'm very excited about. At that event, I said that unlike many other stealth projects I've/we've done, in this case many of our plans and offerings will evolve progressively and in the open, shaped in good measure by a dialog with you. This is not just feel-good marketing speak: the conversation related to Microsoft - its reputation, its intent and its offerings - is occurring and will continue to vigorously occur on the 'net with or without us. I'd rather it be "with", and I hope to add value in becoming another of the varied Microsoft voices conversing on the 'net.

And yes, Spaces has a new theme only for its most prized Microsoft Blogger with a customized top banner! This special theme is, however, not available for the non CTO types!

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Yahoo! Mail Survey

Yahoo! has put up a real long survey about Yahoo! Mail and other Y! Products. Normally, I am not that keen on taking online surveys but when Y! Mail asked for it, I just couldn't deny! See, my first ever email account was with Yahoo! ;)

Yahoo! Mail Survey

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Firefox 1.5 going live today!!

Neowin writes that Firefox 1.5 is going live today (11/15/05).

On November 9th 2004, Neowin was one of the first to announce the official release of Mozilla Firefox 1.0. We get word from resident Firefox aficionado supernova_00, that Firefox 1.5 is slated to be released sometime today.
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read more | digg story

Agile Programming

When we look at the Agile Manifesto, we realize that Agile Programming is a completely new way of developing Software, emphasizing the importance of User participation throughout the development process, and understanding requirements through both interactions and ad hoc less formal documents.

Manifesto for Agile Software Development

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

Kent Beck, Mike Beedle, Arie van Bennekum, Alistair Cockburn, Ward Cunningham, Martin Fowler, James Grenning, Jim Highsmith, Andrew Hunt, Ron Jeffries, Jon Kern, Brian Marick, Robert C. Martin, Steve Mellor, Ken Schwaber, Jeff Sutherland, Dave Thomas

I have spent the past few hours understanding Agile Programming Methodologies better and have found some of its practices quite interesting and quite different from the ones in the conventional software development models.

In our undergraduate course on "Software Engineering", we were introduced to a whole bunch of Traditional Software development Models (and a whole lot of SE jargons). The only thing that bothered us all was the extensive documentation that was required at each stage. For me, seeing valuable "man hours" being devoted to formal documentation rather than the code was something quite disturbing. It is not that I am against documentation or opine that there has to be zero documentation. I am just of the opinion that documentation needs to be concise, and less formal. Agile Programming just requires that.

Another practice Agile Programming methodologies require is "Pair Programming" where two developers work on a single terminal working on the same code. This is something that I had followed during mt internship and found extremely helpful. Not only was the productivity higher in terms of code delivery, the code quality that we turned out was also impressive. Two brains definitely are better than one!

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Search for a CMS

I have spent the past few hours looking for a CMS. The problem is that the project I am working on requires the content to be divided into certain sections with different users having their roles restricted to specific sections. This is something that Mambo, otherwise my favoured option for a CMS, doesn't provide.

I was suggested by Ara to take a look at Magnolia as a possible option. It certainly looks good at first sight. I find it quite intersting for its drag-n-drop options for reordering pages and pagecontent directly in the browser. And it isn't too heavy on the requirements list too! It only requires JDK 1.4.1 and Tomcat 5 or later and no external database.

I have downloaded the binary installer and will get down to configuring it sometime this week. The last time I had tried another CMS, Apache Lenya, I had some issues with templating and all. Just hope that this time around, there aren't many glitches.

Update: I just realized that the Authoring section of the live demo does not have a Log Out option!

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Semantic Web

The idea of hyperlinks has driven the Internet for a very long time now. Hyperlinks have actually done a wonderful job in bringing together information from all realms of life and integrating it in one place, the World Wide Web as we call it. However, what we see with the web today is structured text with multimedia objects such as images and interactive forms- what we can call information, but unstructured information.

The reason I am talking about all this web, structured information, and hyperlinks here today is because of the last few classes spent by my Professor disussing Semantic Web. Now, as my Prof puts it, today's web is primarily documenting almost everything that is available. What it is not capable of doing is the automation of data and information processing. So, in other words, with the World Wide Web today, people really know what the hyperlink means, but a machine cannot understand what the link means and how is it actually "linked" to the other document.

Semantic Web today is being seen as a solution to this as it would add logic to the Web, use rules to make inferences, decide actions and answer questions by providing a framework that allows data sharing and reuse across application, enterprise, and communities. As the founder of the Web, Berners-Lee, puts it, "The Semantic Web is an extension of the current web in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation."

But after what I have been hearing about all this metadata, ontologies,and stuff from him, at first go, I am not overly taken by this idea. The reason I say this is beacuse I think that the true context of the information can never be captured with the data and we are actually dependent on forms of human intervention for derivation of meaning and context! Now as I say this, I also realize that with my really restricted knowledge about all those research groups and their work on realizing a Semantic Web, these first impressions may really not be the correct ones!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Windows Live now supports Firefox

Windows Live now supports Firefox! And so for a few days, I will be trying it as my startpage instead of My Protopage homepage.

Here's how my Windows Live page with 3 columm layout is organized:

Column 1 has my most read feeds
Column 2 has weather, BBC and Boing Boing etc.
Column 3 has Windows Live Mail, and Live Favourites

The other blogs, other stuff I read, and the Gadgets are in the Sidebar under My Web. For now, I have installed the Windows Live Favourites, Pacman and flickr Viewer Gadgets for my Windows Live.

Lets see how it goes.

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Google Desktop 2 leaves Beta

Google Desktop is out of beta with "several powerful new features under its belt." There are a few new cool features such as Google Maps integration in the sidebar panels, and some additions to the Sidebar Plugins.

From Google Blog:
Fans of Google Maps will want to check out Sidebar's new maps panel, which lets you do all the usual cool maps stuff -- local business info, directions, sightseeing -- plus a new one: finding new locations relevant to the web pages and emails you're reading and showing them in your maps panel.

Google Maps integration for Desktop Sidebar

Also, check out the new Google Desktop Blog.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Technorati Hacks

TechnoratiSteve Rubel at Micro Persuasion has published a list of Ten Technorati Hacks. These include blog search, tracking blog posts by tag, including backlinks to posts in your blog, putting Technorati Into your RSS Aggregator, and pinging Technorati on site update.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Windows Live

The other day, Ara Pehlivanian had put up the question "What feedreader do you use?" Of the many feed readers that I have tried so far, only Bloglines and Newsburst were two that I really liked. I have been using Newsburst now for quite sometime and though it lacks the feature of seeing the number of subscribers there are to a blog, it makes up for it with a much better layout, quicker updates and a super cool response team.

Windows LiveNot a bad time to write about Windows Live. Is it? Windows Live actually incorporates most of the functionalities that, basically a feed aggregator, offered. I tried when it was still in Sandbox and was really impressed by it. However, there was one thing that prevented me from switching completely to it- categorization of feeds. But now with a whole lot of features like IM client and email integration added to it , in its new avatar as Windows Live, it looks really good.

Using Windows Live meant that I had to switch to IE, as Firefox support isn't available yet. But then, I was quite impressed by what it had to offer with tools for searching and reading feeds, email integration on the desktop, and 'Gadgets'’. There are already some pretty cool Gadgets like Live Favourites, To-Do List and flickr Viewer that you can add to the desktop available at Microsoft Gadgets Gallery for downloads.

Michael Arrington on Techcrunch has a complete writeup on Windows Live. One thing he had to say: "After what I saw today, I despair for many a silicon valley startup."

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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Dilbert Blog

Scott Adams now has a blog. The blog is titled Dilbert Blog, but actually it is Scott blogging on a lot of things.

Read the Dilbert Blog

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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Advertising Billboards as Rain Covers

Advertising billboards are put to use as Pakistani refugees, left homeless after the October 8 earthquake, set up their tents in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan.

Advertising Billboards as Rain Covers

[via SFGate]

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