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Showing posts from October, 2008

Lost Season 5 First Promo

The series is scheduled to start in 2009. Probably February.

A code optimization case study

How We Made Our Face Recognizer 25x Faster

"This is a war story from my real day job. I work at a start-up company
in Pittsburgh that does face detection, tracking, and recognition
software. This particular problem involved optimization of the face
recognizer."

Good reading for concurrent programmers and this was, surprisingly, on Digg front page.

Dustin Kirkland on Encrypted Private Directories in Ubuntu 8.10

Interview with Dustin Kirkland | The Fridge

"Ideally (at least in my mind), each user’s entire home directory would be encrypted using a key that’s unique to them. It would be mounted when the user logs in, and unmounted when the user logs out. That was my original proposal for Intrepid, but this was deemed a bit too ambitious to accomplish within a single release. The compromise was to provide a single encrypted location inside of each user’s home directory, ~/Private."

"Encrypted ~/Private directories in Ubuntu use eCryptfs as the
cryptographic filesystem scheme. eCryptfs first appeared as a
filesystem module in the Linux kernel in November of 2006, in the
2.6.19 release. eCryptfs uses the vetted cryptographic algorithms in
the Linux kernel (AES, by default in Ubuntu), as well as the kernel
keyring for per-user key management. Thus, I would argue that eCryptfs
is built on top of established technologies."

Interesting read. I can't wait to try this one out. I hate havi…

WSO2 Mashup Server Screencast #3: Service Composition

Jonathan looks at service composition in this 3rd installment of a planned series of screencasts.

Playfish Closes $17M Series B Round

Facebook Game Developer Playfish Closes $17M Series B Round
"Playfish, the Facebook game developer that has four apps in the top 10 gaming apps on the site, closed a $17 million Series B round led by Accel Partners and Index Ventures."Although Vasanth Sridharan thinks this is a bit bubble like, I see an interesting revenue model here. First of all how do they, the game developers make money and make sure it keeps coming?
They have virtual goods to be bought by players (same approach seen in other games like Mob Wars)In case Facebook decides to pull a quick one, like re-designing the site giving less prominence to apps, they have partnered with Google's Adsense for Games. Pretty good move, that ensures they get more eyeballs no matter whatNow.. How can Facebook have a piece of this action?

Mashups: Beyond 'Hello World'

Remember the 'Hello World' screen-cast I posted a few days back? Well, now it's time to move on and get some real work done from the Mashup Server. I'm sure most of you are familiar with a little technique called screen scraping.Do I have your attention now? Good. In this screen-cast, Jonathan explains how to scrape data from all those awesome sites.

You see most sites today are late to the party when it comes to developer APIs. But they do have great content nevertheless. Wouldn't it be great if we can somehow harvest this data and use it in our mashups? The Mashup Server has a nice little scraping function, which allows you to;
Harvest data off web pages
Fill and submit forms in sites and click links, which in turn allows you to
perform navigation through pages to get to the 'really' interesting areas
So have a look and start scraping. As a pre-requisite, I would recommend you install Firebug, a great Firefox extension that will, among many other things, allow…

The Value of a Linux Distro ?

Whitepaper: Estimating the Total Development Cost of a Linux Distribution · October 2008
"we estimate that it would take approximately $10.8 billion to build the Fedora 9 distribution in today’s dollars, with today’s software development costs. Additionally, it would take $1.4 billion to develop the Linux kernel alone. This paper outlines our technique and highlights the latest costs of developing Linux." According to this paper, the Linux ecosystem is worth $25 billion. As far as I know, Linux market share, both Desktop and Server, amounts to around 1.77%. But adoption is showing and upward trend with some optimistic reports predicting it to be 20% by the end of 2008. Therefore, even though the paper is sponsored by the Linux Foundation, the value does sound right. Note that they are also talking about the complete distribution (the kernel alone is worth $1.4 billion), which often includes the Openoffice productivity suite, an E-Mail Client and the Firefox browser.

Social Network Popularity Worldwide

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Map of Social Networks Popularity Around The World | the Oxyweb Blog

According to this,

Sri Lankans love facebook in contrast to rest of the sub continent, who seem to be hooked on... Orkut?No one outside USA seems to know MySpace
Russians love v kontakte (I always wondered about the lack of Russians on FB)Good data for marketers using Social Networks as a channel. Use the ideal network for your target audience.






RESTful PHP Web Services

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RESTful PHP Web Services is a new book from Samisa explaining,
Basic concepts of REST architectureConsuming public REST-style services from your PHP applicationsConsuming RESTful web services, such as those from leading APIs such as Flickr, and Yahoo Web SearchMaking your own PHP applications accessible to other applications through a RESTful APIREST support in the popular Zend frameworkDebugging RESTful services and clientsA case study of designing a RESTful PHP service from the ground up, and designing clients to consume the service"This book targets PHP developers who want to build or make use of
RESTful web services, or explore the options available to them in PHP.
You will need to know the basics of PHP development, but no knowledge
of REST is assumed, nor any knowledge of creating web services
generally."

Samisa is the chief architect behind Apache Axis2/C Web Services engine and used to lead WSO2's web services framework for PHP before taking up his new role as our Dire…

Sidekicks for your mashup quests ...

Channa's Blog: How to write Mashups
"The Quick Start Guide assumes that the reader just knows he or she wants to create a Mashup and maybe something about JavaScript; nothing much else."That pretty much sums it up. But I would like to add some more. Channa introduces you to some of the cool tools we've been working on.
The Mashup Editor with a skeleton code generator, gives you a running 'Hello World' mashup in just seconds, with a UI AND a Google GadgetThe Javascript Stub Generator allows you to create a stub (or wrapper) to any external SOAP Web Service, which you can 'include' in your mashup and useThe Scraping Assistant will help you generate XML instructions to scrape web pagesTake these tools for a spin and suggest improvements you would like to see in them. If you run into problems get help form the developers and users who already use these tools.

How Key is Governance to SOA? Larry Fulton Explains

How Key is Governance to SOA? Larry Fulton Explains - ebizQ's Business Agility Watch - ebizQ
"Back when people talked about distributed objects, and components and things, the one thing that was missing was a really well reasoned discussion across the industry of well, how do we manage these things? And how do we ensure that we’re not just building bits and pieces but these pieces are doing what they need to do and that they are serving the business?"Intersting podcast. The transcript is available as well.

Prototype Debut

Nah.. it's not the javascript library it's the local metal band. Suran (also their vocalist) posted some clips from the gig.

1.21 GIGAWATTS!!!: Prototype at Bring Your Own Nuns


Enjooy!!

What's up with pronouncing Nuclear as nukular ?

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I'm sure you have all seen how people on the internet (mostly American) make fun of Sarah Palin for pronouncing Nuclear wrong. But I have seen others do the same mistake too.

Forget George Bush, I've heard Lawrence Lessig do it and he's an Academic. I listened to him when he visited Sri Lanka in 2006 and gave a speech at FOSS-ed for hackers one of the local Open Source events. Not that this takes away the respect I have for the good professor, who came up with Creative Commons, but it does get a tad irritating at times.

I thought it was one of those American English things, you know like using learned instead of learnt, Math instead of Maths, spelling centre as center, color instead of colour etc etc. Typical American vs British English stuff. But it looks like I was wrong. I guess they agree that Aluminium isn't pronounced as aluminum either?




The Biz School Chronicles - Weeks 03 and 04

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Both weeks were dominated by Business Communication lectures. This was due to Statistics and Accounting lecturers being out of country. I enjoy BC lectures mostly thanks to the interactivity and interesting discussions that come up during group presentation etc.

The Johari Window is something we discussed out of syllabus, yet can come handy when understanding your team members and yourself. Something I always found useful before learning this is Maslow's hierarchy of needs, which I learnt as an undergraduate. The Johari Window is a bit complex comparatively and usually requires information from many people to complete, whereas Maslow's Hierachy is pretty simple.

When reading up on this, I found that while a Johari Wondow concentrated on positive personality traits, a A Nohari window is the inversion of the Johari window, and is a collection of negative personality traits instead of positive.

I also cam across this cool online tool that helps one to create a Johari Window for him…

2009 French GP cancelled!

BBC SPORT | Motorsport | Formula One | FIA wants French GP clarification
The 2009 French GP was cancelled after the French Motorsports Federation (FFSA) withdrew its financing.
Bad news for all F1 fans. The good news is that Disneyland, Paris is being considered as an option instead of the rural Magny-Cours for future events.

WSO2 Mashup Server Screencast #1: Hello World

Jonathan has done an excellent introduction to the WSO2 Mashup Server. If you are a 'Level 0' Mashupper yearning to start writing your own Mashups, this screen cast is a must view.BTW, you ain't seen nothing yet. I had a sneak-peak at some of his other screen casts and those were pretty awesome!!

Dead Man's Switch

Dead Man's Switch
"This is how this works. You write a few e-mails, and choose the recipients. These emails are encrypted with military-grade algorithms, so you can be sure that no-one except the intended recipient will ever read them. Your switch will email you every so often, asking you to show that you are fine by clicking a link. If something were to... happen... to you, your switch would then send the emails you wrote to the recipients you specified. Sort of an "electronic will", one could say."
So there. If you are an average guy with a will to be published or a message to be sent to your loved ones when the final curtain comes down or if you are one of those spy/whistle-blower types going to a meeting with your rival from which you might never return; Let Dead Man's Switch be your insurance.


When 'Free' isn't really free ...

'Free lunch' and open-source support | The Open Road - The Business and Politics of Open Source by Matt Asay - CNET News
"I recently discovered this when a large, global system integrator (SI) deployed Alfresco Labs, our free and unsupported product, for a large client in Europe. The SI wasn't a partner of ours, and as the client soon learned when its deployment stumbled, the SI wasn't capable of providing enterprise-class support on the product. Yes, it knew the product well enough to deploy it and get paid over $50 million for its trouble, but when the deployment hit a glitch, guess to whom the SI came crawling for help?"
Matt Asay (Alfresco) raises some valid points in this post for Enterprises deploying Open Source software via a System Integrator (SI). Having previously worked for a global SI and now working for an Open Source Middleware company, I have to agree.

In his scenario, Asay describes how an SI failed to buy support spending just $50,000 (as part …

DaaS is a challenge? Not anymore!

AJAX in the Cloud: Save Your Company a Bundle with Your RIA Strategy!
"AJAX apps need to talk to an intermediate server that acts as a proxy between the web client and the database. This means that the AJAX developer has to develop lots of server-side code that coordinates between the proxy and the database. In addition to requiring precious development cycles, the proxy is a performance bottleneck."
I have to respectfully disagree. If you use a solution such as WSO2 Data Services (Apache 2.0 licensed, Free and Open Source software), you would save a lot of trouble. It's just a matter of writing the correct SQL or Stored Procedure and the Data Services solution will expose your result set as a service. In addition, you can configure security and other QoS parameters for your data service.

Bottom line? No server side code, absolute minimum number of development cycles and reduced worry on performance issues (since the solution is tuned by its developers).

Enterprise Mashups among the Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2009

Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2009 - MarketWatch

Enterprise Mashups is among Virtualization, Cloud Computing and Web Oriented Architecture in Gartner's list of strategic technologies for 2009. For the past few months, I have been developing a bunch Mashups for our marketing team using the WSO2 Mashup Server. In summary, these Mashups bring together statistics harvested from various sources and present a unified view, which helps them in their decision making.

The most important aspect is the the implementation time, which is in weeks rather than months. The amount of flexibility when you want to mix data up is amazing. In my point of view, Enterprise adoption will involve at least 2 stages. The first stage would be exposing data you want people to work with as services (in the WSO2 Mashup Server I do it mainly via Data Services). This might take a bit of time and expertise. Once you have these services up and running, any user familiar with a bit of javasc…

Top 10 Best Guitar Players of All Time

SOAFaces = RIA + SOA

Here's something promising for the Javascript RIA developer, who works constantly with SOAP/REST Web Services as back-ends and is also in touch with his inner GWT :)

SOAFaces allows GWT developers to bring SOA and RIA together. It also gets rid of the RPC involvement, which is a negative when ocnsidering GWT for realworld applications.

"Specifically, the goals of the SOAFaces project include the following: No need to write GWT RPC code anymore. Use the UniversalClient
API to talk with POJO services that are packaged in your application
server and/or talk with Mule accessible services/endpoints all across
your enterprise and internet. Your GWT application will have convenient
access to messaging services (SOAP, JMS, ESB ...etc) that can return
JavaBeans or JSON objects back to the GWT client. All marshaling is
handled by the framework. A framework for building SOA GUI
applications using modular components. Build anything from a simple
AJAX type applet all the way to a full blown web app…

Death by PowerPoint

An interesting presentation I came across today with some really good tips to consider when putting together slides.

Death by PowerPoint View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: tipspowerpoint)

How to run a Southwest Airlines Auto Checkin Mashup from your computer

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If you are a regular reader, you would know about the Southwest auto check-in mashup and how Southwest decided to use a 'cease and desist' type threat to get it out of circulation. The threat worked, mainly because WSO2 is a reputed company and they were running the mashup as a 'demo'. Not to make money from it.

But I say they can't prevent people running it from their personal computers. Here's a little how-to.
Download the Free and Open Source WSO2 Mashup Server (A Windows installer and a .zip file are available. It's a Java program so you need a Java version 1.5 or higher installed too)
Install it and run the server as described in the user guideGotohttps://localhost:7443/ and give a username for the admin user
Download the Southwest Auto Check-in Mashup and extract the zipYou will have 2 .js files (alertme.js and southwestAutoCheckin.js) and a folder named southwestAutoCheckin.resourcesCopy those files and folder to [your-mashup-server-installation-director…

Southwest airlines called. They want our Mashup offline ...

Apparently Jonathan's recent Mashup on auto reserving a good seat at Southwest airlines has raised a few alarms there. Then again, this is the downside of Scraping web content. Scraping may violate the Terms of Use of a site. I guess it's a learning experience and we have deleted the Mashup from our mooshup.com community site.

Neel Kashkari

Neel Kashkari has been selected as the head of US Treasury's new Office of Financial Stability making headlines there and in the old country. He'll be managing the $700bn bailout plan in the coming months. At 35, he has already been an Engineer at NASA then a VP at Goldman, Sachs.

... and I hear his parents are still unhappy and think he can do better ;)


Narcissism: A Key Leadership Trait? .. Word

Narcissistic people most likely to emerge as leaders according to a recent research.
"The researchers found similar results in two separate studies
involving college students, and one involving business managers in an
MBA program."
Interesting read ...



Mashups, Google Gadgets and Airline Reservations

In a recent blog post, Jonathan explains how to put together an iGoogle compatible gadget for your Mashup. I like his concise explanation of what a gadget is ...
"A widget or gadget is a little program, usually with a cute and compact UI, that runs inside a widget engine. The widget engine generally has the characteristic that a number of widgets can be viewed at once, allowing a user to construct their own digital dashboard of relevant information sources. There are a number of widget technologies under various names – gadgets, widgets, portlets. Some examples of widget engine include the Google Desktop, iGoogle, Windows Vista Sidebar, Windows Live widgets, Yahoo! Widgets, Apple’s Macintosh Dashboard, and lots more."

Then, he follows the previous post with his latest (and apparently very successful) experiment on making an early, automated reservation at Soutwest Airlines using a Mashup.
"This time I successfully checked in online within 5 minutes of the opening of on…

Warren Buffet on the Crisis, Bailout and Related Issues

He makes quite a few analogies. I loved the one on using resuscitation. Basically what he says is that, this isn't the time to blame the patient for not exercising or not coming to regular checkups or being greedy. This isn't the time to argue on where to place the resuscitation device, whether it should be more to the left or to the right. We just need to resuscitate the patient and try to save his life.

He also talks about accounting standards and practices towards the end too. A lot to learn from the "Oracle of Omaha" . The best 55 minutes of this week so far.

Linux became 17 yesterday

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It was 17 years ago on the 5th of October that someone named Linus Benedict Torvalds posted this to comp.os.minix board. The rest is history.


European leaders agree to a £12bn bailout

European leaders agree to £12bn financial crisis rescue package - Telegraph
"The plan to set up a small businesses fund across Europe was supported by French president Nicolas Sarkozy, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi at an emergency European Union summit in Paris"

Also from the article, these quotes from British Prime Minister Mr. Gordon Brown ...
“I want the message to go out from this meeting today that no sound, solvent bank should be allowed to fail through lack of liquidity. That is why we have taken action in Britain yesterday to extend the liquidity that is available to the banking system. That is why the European Central Bank has done likewise.

“That is why also we must take the action necessary to sort out whatever failings exist in the system. Every country represented here today wants to do whatever is necessary to ensure the stability of the system and to ensure the safety of hard-working families and businesses.”
Amen to

The Biz School Chronicles - Week 02

Things to ponder ...


Where?: Lecture; Business Communication

What?: "During oral communication approximately 30% of information is lot in each transmission" and "Studies show that employees are able to retain approximately 50% of what they are told and supervisors can retain around 60% of information they receive."

Why?: This isn't something new. Most of us have played Chinese Whispers (or a variant of it) and seen how distorted a simple message can get when it's passed around.


Where?:
Lecture; Statistics for Management

What?: The role of Statistical Analysis in Lean Manufacturing / Toyota Production System (TPS) / The Toyota Way

Why?: "Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals."


"The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought.
The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand." - Sun Tzu (The Art of War)




Why a bailout IMHO is better than doing nothing :: An Asian perspective

First of all I'm not a US citizen. But we live in a global economy and mistakes made by those thousands of kilometers away will eventually have an effect on me. Therefore it pays (both literally and figuratively) to pay attention.

Over the past weeks we've seen viral fear-mongering over the internet on how America should now be named USSA and her decisions are from the rich for the rich etc. etc (drama drama drama). Well that's all good. Freedom of speech and what not. But take it from someone 'actually' living in a country with a socialist agenda and a civil war; The roots of socialism often lies in the envy and hatred towards the rich. Enough about that. What I find funny is that none of those fear-mongers had a plan either. Their plan was just "no bailout", which eventually translates to "do nothing". Let them pay for their mistakes. But it's not that simple is it?

Let's imagine for a moment that the US government indeed opted to do not…

The age of the Android is upon us

Google posted this video of their Android search application today.



There are also reports on device vendors such as Motorola ramping up and expanding their Android forces from 50 to 359 people apparently with Nokia right behind. It seems like most device vendors in the Open Handset Alliance will follow the lead of Motorola and Nokia, which means cheaper handsets as the competition increases.

In the apps market space, companies such as Handaho are already on-board while there are and will be an awesome set of free Android apps for the taking. Interesting times.

Which technologies stand to benefit from the Wall Street collapse?

According to a recent survey of 1,000 CIOs done by the WSJ,
61% of CIOs are currently re-evaluating their 2009 budgets, while putting non-essential projects on hold.
49% have cut the amount they spend on consultants while restricting travel. Nearly 25% have put a hiring freeze in placeAlthough this may seem like an expected reaction, which renders the tech spending forecasts just two weeks old obsolete, the fact remains that a business must carry on and IT must keep up with the operational demands. Your company will depend on you to scale its systems and remedy the failing ones just as before. So what can one do, given the restricted budgets and a freeze on human resources and consultancy?

In the coming quarters, we might see an increasing demand for Cloud Computing Services (despite RMSs valid but mostly paranoid concerns). Utility computing services such as Amazon EC2 and S3 will see increased adoption mainly due to lower costs up-front, lesser number of human resources required to mai…

Search the 2001 Google Index

In celebration of their 10th anniversary, Google has put up a search index from 2001. So go ahead and see the world before the iPod, YouTube and Facebook.

WOA = SOA + REST + WWW

What is WOA?

"Web Oriented Architecture (WOA) is a style of software architecture that extends Service-oriented architecture to web based applications. WOA is also aimed at maximizing the browser and server interactions by use of technologies such as REST and POX." - Wikipedia

Then why the debate of SOA vs WOA? That's a question I've had for a while. The way I see it, WOA is SOA for the web isn't it? ...ok with added REST goodness.

In a recent interview, Gartner Vice President Nick Gall, who is credited with first describing Web-oriented architecture (WOA), was asked to give us, the less enlightened, the bottom line about the WOA versus SOA debate.

Interesting read.