Getting certified without giving any exams?

Got this via Karan. Firstly, I am not suggesting you try this, and secondly it is probably a hoax; but I did come across this site which claims for a couple of grand or so (e.g. MCSD.NET $2,800), you can get certified in any of the MS and CISCO exams without sitting for any one exam. This sounds like one of those too good to be true stories and does not seem legit at all. Does seem quite hilarious…

Do they have someone in China (they are based there), go as the “candidate” and do the exams?

Rise of the blogs

CIOInsight has an article discussing the rise of blogs on how they are being embraced by the corporate world and in other cases they are not including some best practices (most of which is common sense) on what you as an individual should or should not do. Also has a few examples from big corporations around the world and their IT Managers to CIO’s. Since you are reading this, obviously this is no new news to you…. 🙂

.NET Framework 2.0 Beta 2 Obsolete APIs

In the Beta 2 version of the .NET Framework 2.0 product, there are various APIs that have been added in since V1.1, but are marked obsolete. All of these APIs will be removed from the product at V2.0 release. These are APIs which were added during the beta cycles of the V2.0 product lifetime, but as a result of design changes and/or product feedback, have subsequently been replaced, or will simply be removed. It is paramount for your ability to easily move forward to the final V2.0 release of the product that these obsolete APIs not be referenced. This list is the APIs which will be removed before the final release of V2.0.

You can download the list from here.

Google Ride Finder

Google has a new service called Ride Finder which you can search for taxis, limousines and shuttles and make better decisions by seeing the exact location of vehicles in your area.  Just enter a zip code, the name of a city or even a specific address.  You will get a map showing the companies and where their vehicles are located.

How does it work? As google puts it, Google Ride Finder takes a new approach to helping users find a ride: showing you where the vehicles are.  We work closely with a variety of companies to get this information, then we present it in the form of a map of your area, complete with little balloons (color-coded by company) to represent each vehicle’s up-to-date location. Based on this info, you then just call the provider you’ve chosen to reserve a ride.

There is certainly potential, but since there is no guarantee that the dispatcher would send the closest one to you (assuming there is space on it), there is still lots of work that need to be done here. It sure is another example of the combination of Google Maps and Google Local (another example I talked about was what Paul was doing).

Excel as a Database

Thanks to Stef to point this my way – it is hilarious. Cross posted from Rory Blyth – make sure to check out his post for all the hilarious story. Sadly, this is dejavu for me…. 🙂

As a developer, you’ve probably, at some unfortunate point in your life (possibly several points, actually), been handed an Excel file that has been crammed full of “data” by someone in marketing and told to “do something with it.”

Columns probably didn’t line up, and a thousand different fonts were used. Every feature of Excel was probably abused and abused again in order to avoid having to use an actual database application for storage of the data.

Of course, it’s up to you to make sense of the layout, and they could just give a bleepity-bleep about what a pain in the ass it is to suck weird data out of Excel and “do something with it” when little or (more often) no thought has been given to possibly making the data consistent or, dare I say, orderly.

To this end, I’ve put together another art project. This time, what you will see unfold before your peepers is a process of discovery – My thoughts on how these files are created.

Transactional NTFS in action

I came across this blog entry talking about the new transactional NTFS in action; very interesting and very cool (yes this is in Longhorn – you can check out some screen shots). What is more interesting is that internally people at MS have started using it, but the question that comes to mind is, is that outside of Longhorn (are there any bits running on Windows 2003 Server or XP, etc)?

If you’re in Microsoft, you can start using this today; if you’re outside of Microsoft, I encourage you to take advantage of the upcoming Longhorn beta programs and try it out.

Got a space to play with ASP.NET 2.0

Not sure if you were keeping an eye or not, but I got some space to play with ASP.NET – something that is exposed to the net and not only my machines at home – does bring up some interesting possibilities. If you want me to upload some code that you might have to run then let me know, we just need to coordinate as I cannot create subfolders (unfortunately) – yet anyways.  🙂

Entlib fails to compile in VS.NET 2005 Beta 2 (sort of)

I was playing around with Whidbey (finally), the Beta 2 drop and decided to check out if Entlib compiles. After converting the project (ping me if you need screen shots), there were a whole bunch of errors. Well, in reality not errors but warnings. Since, by default VS.NET 05 treats warnings as errors, the build fails miserably. Once I got around to setting ignore warnings, it did compile, but I have not gotten much further with it yet due to lack of time – more playing around with that this week. But almost all the failures were due to stuff being deprecated in .NET 2.0. I have both the logs – where things were failing and then the one where I ignore the warnings.

BTW, setting ignore errors on each and every project in the solution is painful, if anyone has a better way of doing it then let me know (and no I did not open the project file and parse to change that setting), but that is the only way then I can write a small piece of tool which can do that.

Search Result Clustering

MSRA SRC is a tool for searching web with the Search Result Clustering (SRC) technique, that was developed at Web Search and Mining Group in MSR, Asia. On-the-fly it clusters a search engine’s search results into different groups, and provides meaningful and readable names for these groups. SRC changes the traditional representation of search results into a non-linear way, so as to facilitate the user’s browsing.

Traditional clustering techniques don’t work for this problem because the documents are short, the cluster names should be readable and the algorithm should be efficient for on-the-fly calculation. The method takes on the whole problem in a different way and overcomes the difficulties in traditional clustering methods. It tries to first identify salient topics by identifying distinct and independent keywords, and then classifies the search results into these topics. Check out the release notes.

You can see the result map on the right when I search on my name.

The SRC technology facilitates Web users browsing through the long list of search results. Several typical usages of this technology are as below:

  1. Query disambiguation – When a query is ambiguous, SRC can group the search results according to different senses of the query word. The examples are: jaguar, saturn, apple
  2. Sub-topics discovery – Many query terms contains sub-topics, SRC can display all important sub-topics of a query term on the Web. The examples are: data mining, iraq, digital camera
  3. Fact finding of peoples – When a query is a person name, SRC can find the affiliation, position, interests and related persons for him/her. The examples are: bill clinton, rick rashid, harry shum
  4. Relationship finding of peoples – When a query is two person’s name, SRC can find out their relationships. The examples are: “Kai-Fu Lee” “Ya-Qin Zhang”, “Rick Rashid” and “Dan Ling”
  5. Q&A – When a query is a question, SRC can find out the possible answers and rank the most probable one as the first answer. The examples are: the biggest ocean, “The World’s Hottest Computer Lab”, chinese premier

How to upgrade your Windows (32 bit) to Windows (64 bit) for free?

Now that Microsoft has officially released the 64bit of Windows, what is more interesting is you can upgrade your 32 bit OS to 64 bit for free (you need to order before July 31st) – yep its true – for free – nada, zilch, nothing. But, heh heh yes, there is no free lunch in life. To upgrade you give up the rights to your 32 bit OS and must own a 64 bit CPU (e.g. my media center has a AMD 64 Athalon). More importantly you might not have drivers for all the hardware – is this important? Yep, it is very important actually because the 64 bit version will *not* support 32-bit device drivers and will not run any 16-bit applications.

From Offshore to Ship-to-Shore

This has to fall in the wacky-ideas’ category. Dian has an interesting post (cross posted here) about Roger Green and David Cook seem like your run-of-the-mill high tech execs — well dressed, well spoken, bright guys. That is, until they tell you their business plan. Dian heard it at a party at the Gartner conference, then did a quick interview with them. And then you have to wonder, are these guys whacked?

Their basic idea is to take a used cruise ship, plant it in international waters three miles off the coast of El Segundo, near LA, people it with 600 of the brightest software engineers they can find around the world (both men and women), and run a 24-hour-a-day programming shop, thereby avoiding H-1B visa hassles while still exploiting offshore labor cost arbitrage and completing development projects in half the time they’d take onshore or offshore.

“As more people have run the [offshore] gauntlet and found the joys of traveling to India coach class and having three weeks of stuff on their desk when they come back, [they discover] it’s much more disruptive than they ever imagined it would be,” explains Mr. Green.

I would one might want a list of those engineers and try and find out what they have been smoking? What do you think?

What happens when you combine two great ideas?

Well, when you combine two great ideas then the outcome is simply mind blowing. This has to fall in the category of “Why the heck did I not think of it!” and is totally awesome! Paul has combined the power of Google Maps and Craigslist into one application where if you are looking to rent or buy a house you can not only see it on the maps but also the satellite view! How sweet is this? Now I am just waiting for London to show up… dang, all the fun kicks off when I move from the US.

Gripes with Firefox

Let me start of by saying that Firefox is some decent amount of code, and if you read this blog regularly you know I have use that as my primary browser as opposed to IE. In spite of all the comparisons and market share updates, I still have a few issues with it – and these are serious issues (in my context) and not minor gripes.

  1. Crashes – yes every now and then the whole thing just hangs and the only way to recover from it is to kill the whole process and restart it. Now, some of you would come back and argue that his might be one of the many add-ins I run, but I say baloney to that. I don’t know anything about its design, so not sure how it loads the various extensions, but it should be designed that the whole thing does not come down – that of course is a longer discussion topic that one that can be had in this post. But, this is not an everyday occurrence, at the same time it is not all that rare either – I would say about 2-3 times a month!
  2. Memory Usage – the next one is memory usage – for my average use (this of course would vary based on your usage), it averages > 100 mb (wow!). Yes memory is cheap, yes I have a gig on most machines I use, but that is no excuse!
  3. Update (Size) – Every time there is a security update (and there have been a whole load of them in the last few weeks), why do I have to download the *whole install set* and install the whole application? Why cannot I just download the required files (dlls, exe, etc on Windows) and restart the application? Many companies have done it and you can there are solutions in the open domain to help out with this – it is not rocket science?
  4. Update (Timing) – Why can’t the Firefox team take a step back and think a little before “releasing” something? I have moved from v1.0 to v1.0.1 to v1.0.2 – all within a span of 2-3 weeks and everytime doing the full-download/reinstall routine (see above point). If they can fix the update issues, then I can also push out updates from one central place – today I have a few computers at home and installing this on everyone of them does take time!

Google maps now available for UK

Not sure, when this was “launched”, but Google maps are now available for UK. Interested in knowing where I live, then click away! Unfortunately, the Satellite view is not available right now, you can only look at it at the country level which does not help.

There is loads of other cool functionality like integration with the local feature of google (build on top of, e.g. not only can you look at maps, but also say if you are interested in knowing all the Indian restaurant in the region – how sweet is that?

Feedback on Books?

I have been thinking of a couple of books and would like to know if anyone actually have bought them and what their perspective on those are? Thanks to Murty for pointing out the CLR one….

Has anyone used these? If so, what was your take on them?

Whidbey Beta 2 now Available

This is sweet timing, I just got my old HDD (2.5″) on a USB up today and over the weekend Whidbey Beta 2 was released on MSDN to download, how sweet is that? Make sure to uninstall any previous versions you might have of VS.NET 2005, Yukon, Emulators, .NET CLR 2.0 (including CF.NET), etc. I will be checking it out over the next few days and letting you know what I find.

If you see an error removing J# .NET Redistributable Package 2.0 from Add/Remove Programs, then run the following from a cmd window:

msiexec /x {9046F10C-F5E7-4871-BED9-8288F19C70DF}

If you see an error removing .NET Framework 2.0 from Add/Remove Programs, then run the following:

msiexec /x {71F8EFBF-09AF-418D-91F1-52707CDFA274}

What flavor of Linux to run?

What? Me ask what flavor of Linux to run? With all the hype of Star Wars, have I been consumed by the dark side??? On the contrary, I have been running a version in a virtual environment, and now have a old old machine, where I am comfortable running it natively. So, what version do you recommend and why? I do need a GUI since its been a while I worked in any of the Linux/Unix shells? I think I can guess the version Karan is going to recommend. 😉