Dumb and dumber moments in Technology

The year is just getting started, and that can mean only one thing: It’s time to reflect on the most shameful, dishonest, and just plain stupid tech moments of 2003.

Humans are "Failure Machines"

I forget where I read this recently, but it stuck to me. Humans are failure machines, we are not success machines. We fail all the time and almost all the things. And it is only through this “weeding” process we get the feedback for the failures and learn how to correct them and then do better. Well … at least the smart ones learn to how to correct them.

Running .NET on a J2EE App. Server

Yes it is true and it is very cool! Mainsoft has a product called Visual MainWin for both J2EE and Unix and Linux platforms. You can have your ASP.NET applications (using ADO.NET) deployed on a single J2EE platform. Please note, this is not really “calling” any web services that are running on Java.

How does it work? Well for one you can check out this flash movie (and it surely is amazing!). But basically they wrote an IL compiler that takes the IL generated by .NET app (i.e. ASP.NET in this case) and converts it to Java bytecode which then is run “natively” on a J2EE platform.

When you install their product, they add some extensions to VS.NET that allows you to write your ASP.NET application with VS.NET including using all the features you are used to (such as the debugger). You can also jump to the debugger from the java code/component. In the demo they have on the site, the middle-tier of a typical 3-tier web app is hosted in EJB’s and the presentation tier is ASP.NET which is then run on J2EE. The middle-tier is component (jar file) is referenced in the asp.net solution. The deployed application is a war file on the J2EE application tier.

IHMO, this has a lot of value in an Enterprise environment, and should help avoid the whole “religious” debate that some companies get hung over. Has anyone has had a chance to play with this? If so, what have your experiences been? What do you think about this, I would love to hear your thoughts.

VS.NET Fun Facts

If you use VS.NET then you must read the fun facts to get the most out of the IDE.  This is not new, but had forgotten about it, till I stumbled upon it again recently.

Digger on Smartphone – W00t!

Unfortunately, I am not one of the lucky guys with a smartphone, but for those who do have one, Lutz Roeder, released the code and the binaries for Digger (a copy of Dig-dug from the good ol Dos days) for the Smartphone. It needs the Smartphone 2003 and .NET CF.

Is it me or .NET?

Incase you did not know, but this blog runs on .Text with minor tweaks to the code. When I run this in the W3C Validator, I get 61 (wow!) errors back. If you examine the results of the validator some interesting things emerge.

Here is a listing of the issues I found:

  1. “End tag for element not found” – If you look at the source you will see that there is an open element and this is the corresponding end tag. So what am I missing? Per the validator, this error means: “The validator found an end tag, represented here by ‘FOO’, without a corresponding start tag. This frequently occurs in conjunction with the previous error. For instance, given <B><I>nope</B></I>, the validator will insert a </I> before the </B>, and then will find the </I> after the </B> and will have nothing to match it with.
  2. “There is no Attribute ‘BLAH’” – Now all these attributes are used by the .NET framework, e.g. Name, Bordercolor, Height, etc. But in my (unofficial) testing, I did not find any issues with this on most of the browsers as most of them just ignore them. So, what is the “standard” here and the cause for concern? This brings up another interesting question, should Microsoft change the way the .NET runtime renders this to “fix” this? How does this compare to what JSP’s render?
  3. “Value of attribute “ID” invalid” – technically this is part of the above, but I was curious on what the issue is with the ID starting with an underscore (_)? I am at a loss there. Any thoughts?
  4. “ALT not Specified” – Now this is truely my fault for not adding that attribute to the images. Next build one can be assured this would be fixed. 🙂
  5. An attribute value must be a literal unless it contains only name characters” – This is interesting. .Text uses an open source (I think) control called FreeTextBox by John Dyer, which is quite cool. Maybe the newer version of the control fixes this issue.

As you gathered, I am not really a HTML guy, I know enough aboout it, but don’t know the protocol by heart, nor do I plan on learning that. So go easy on me if some of my questions are very basic *grin*.

I would be interested to hear what you feedback is and what your experiences with this have been?

Google and Numbers

Though, this has been possible by google for a bit, most people did not know all the power of google. Here are some of the things you can do:

  1. Area Code Maps
  2. Package Tracking (FedEx, UPS,  USPS)
  3. Flight Tracking Info
  4. Vehicle Info
  5. Patent Search
  6. FAA Plane Registration
  7. UPC Codes
  8. FCC Equipment IDs

There is also a calculator which in addition to the simple things (such as addition, multiplications, etc) can also calculate the sqrt, trigonometric functions (sin, cos, etc.), ln (logarithm base e), log (logarithm base 10), factorial, etc. Want to see some binary multiplication?

Now that is cool, the power to have all this at your fingertips. What would be next? 🙂

Personalize input system, is it possible?

Ergodex has made what it dubs as the “The World’s First Totally Personalizable Input System”. They have a pad with a sticky surface that connects via usb to a computer. You can then stick the keys to the surface as you like. You can “record” macros and assign them to keys and can be executed at one touch.

Now, looking at it, my geek factor thinks it cool, but when I put on my practical hat, is it really worth almost the $150 bucks? Sure everyone’s hands are different, but at the end of the day you would probably set it up in a qwerty layout.

Simputer

The first computer designed and produced in India is now for sale in the country. The Simputer has been developed by scientists and engineers at the Institute of Science in Bangalore. The handheld device was built to help people to afford to have their own computer and access the internet. It comes in three versions and can be used to surf the web and send e-mails. The basic model has a 206Mhz processor, 64MB of memory and uses the Linux operating system. The price will be around €190.  

Microsoft source code release not an accident

Interesting article on GMSV.

Typically, the only way to get a good look at Microsoft’s source code was via leak or the company’s “Shared Source” program. No longer. On Monday, Microsoft released some of its code (the Windows Installer Xml (WiX) toolset ) under an open-source license, and posted it on SourceForge. Rob Mensching, the Microsoft employee behind the unprecedented code release, commented on it in a post to his Web log. “After four and a half years of part-time development, the WiX design (and most of the code) matured to a point where I was comfortable trying to release it externally,” Mensching explained. “So, last October I started looking for a means to release not only the tools but the source code as well. I thought GotDotNet was the place. However, at that time, none of the existing Shared Source licenses were flexible enough to accept contributions from the community. Then, in February, I was introduced to Stephen Walli who was also working to improve Microsoft’s relationship with the Open Source community. Fortunately, Stephen was much farther along than I and had the step-by-step plan how to release an Open Source project from Microsoft using an approved OSS license. Today, via WiX on SourceForge, you get to see the results of many people’s efforts to improve Microsoft from the inside out. I’m not exactly sure what is going to happen next but I’m sure there are quite a few people who are interested to see where this leads. Personally, all I hope is that if you find the WiX toolset useful then you’ll join the community and help us improve the toolset.”

This is broken

This Is Broken, run by Mark Hurst, in my opinion has an excellent way to popularise the customer experience on the web. Not only is it “lmao“ funny, but it also tells you which products and companies to avoid! Kudos to Mark!

Does one need to "promote" offshoring?

Mercury News is running a story on how India’s second-largest software company, Infosys Technologies, announced Thursday that it is expanding operations in Fremont with a new management-consulting subsidiary to advise technology companies on shipping software-development work offshore. My question is, do they need to promote offshoring? Isn’t there enough action on the offshoring front?

Microsoft clipping Longhorn

Waaah… so Microsoft is clipping Longhorn and pushing out the release. There have also been rumours of pushing WinFS to Blackcomb (which would be the server version of Longhorn). Also. some rumours of a new version XP which would have a newer version of Media Player with a built-in online shopping piece akin to iTunes. When Longhorn does ship (as of now in 2006), it would be the biggest gap in Microsoft’s history between OS releases – almost half a decade, that in the IT world is an era.

U.S. Outsources Obesity To India

Supersizing Rampant in Bangalore

The United States is rapidly outsourcing obesity to India and hopes to shed as many as three trillion pounds of unsightly cellulite annually, President George W. Bush announced today.

In a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Milwaukee, the President said that since most of the millions of jobs outsourced since he was elected President were extremely sedentary, “Those jobs are now making the people of India fat instead of us.”

“In the long run, the weight loss more than makes up for the job loss,” the President added.

In India, where U.S. companies have outsourced customer service jobs at a blistering pace in the last three years, workers confirmed that they have never been fatter in their lives.

“Before I got this job, I used to get out of my chair occasionally, but those days are long gone,” said Sisirkana Bhatia, 27, who works at a Verizon call center in Bangalore. “The minute I’m off work I head on over to the Olive Garden for their all-you-can-eat bread sticks.”

A co-worker, Palak Mehndi, 25, agreed: “Next to ‘how can I help you,’ the words that I’m saying the most often these days are ‘Supersize me!’”

Indeed, Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam recently said in a nationally televised address that India was “in the throes of a Supersizing epidemic, adding that “the time has come for the Indian people to decide whether or not they want to look like Dick Cheney.”

Elsewhere, in a new poll released today, both President Bush and Senator John Kerry were defeated by the University of Connecticut.

IBM to buy India's third largest backoffice company

I think it is time to move back to India now. 🙂

Here is an excerpt “…IBM, the world’s largest IT company, on Wednesday said it would acquire the country’s third largest BPO outfit, Daksh eServices, to add skills in strategic areas. Though IBM did not reveal the deal size, industry sources put the deal at Rs 700 crore (around $150 million), which is almost two-and-a-half times Daksh’s revenues for 2003-04.”

You can get the story here.

WinFX Reference

WinFX is the next generation of the API Library that is going to be part of Longhorn and would be replacing Win32 as we know it today. There is an excellent reference that covers Whidbey, Longhorn and Yukon for it that can be found here.

 

Windows is not the most important OS

Wow, now that is big – especially from me :). But I agree with Bill Hill on this one.

BTW, this from slashdot, Microsoft quietly launched Channel 9, a blog/discussion forum aimed at improving communication with outside developers, on Tuesday. Named for the audio channel that many airlines use to let passengers listen in on crew conversations during flight, Channel 9’s creators state the following in a welcoming message: ‘Five of us in Redmond are crazy enough to think we just might learn something from getting to know each other…Join in, and have a look inside our cockpit and help us fly the plane.

The Blackout

For those of us who were lucky enough to be stuck in the Blackout of 2003, the Power System Outage task force has released their report with the causes and the resolutions.

If you did not know about the Blackout, here is an excerpt from the report “ … on August 14, 2003, large portions of the Midwest and Northeast United States and Ontario, Canada, experienced an electric power blackout. The outage affected an area with an estimated 50 million people and 61,800 megawatts (MW) of electric load in the states of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and the Canadian province of Ontario. The blackout began a few minutes after 4:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time and power was not restored for 4 days in some parts of the United States. Parts of Ontario suffered rolling blackouts for more than a week before full power was restored. Estimates of total costs in the United States range between $4 billion and $10 billion (U.S. dollars). In Canada, gross domestic product was down 0.7% in August, there was a net loss of 18.9 million work hours, and manufacturing shipments in Ontario were down $2.3 billion (Canadian dollars)…”

My question is, how the heck do they calculate those numbers?

For the curious lot, I was stuck at JFK Airport for the whole night – sleeping on a chair – or trying to. I had just left work to catch a flight back home to San Francisco. I was on a project in the NY office of the company I work for and was shuttling between good old San Francisco and New York on a weekly basis.