Official API for Google Maps

This is very cool! Google now has officially released their API’s for Google Maps; till now there were a few hacks in place such as my where I work, but now its all supported. You would need to get a key, which is associated with a specific url, you can get that here and also read up on all the fun details here.

Nixon's dislike of 'witch' Indira

Although I keep to my geeky side of things, every now and then I do come across a political story that I find intriguing for various reasons which I post here. This is one of them, reported by BBC about Nixon’s dislike of ‘witch’ Indira as he called Indira Gandhi, India’s Prime Minister from 1966 – 77 and then 1980 – 84.

Cracking Google's Video Viewer

Jon has released a crack for google’s video viewer which allows you to view movies from anywhere (as opposed to those hosted only by Here is the crux of the code which prevents that:

// Google mods
const char* allowed_host = \”\”;
char * host_found = strstr(p_sys->url.psz_host, allowed_host);
if ((host_found == NULL) ||
 ((host_found + strlen(allowed_host)) !=
 (p_sys->url.psz_host + strlen(p_sys->url.psz_host)))) {
 msg_Warn( p_access, \”invalid host, only is allowed\” );
 goto error;

.NET 2.0 Performance Benchmarks (for Web services)

TheServerSide.NET has done a performance benchmark specifically around benchmarks comparing the following four configurations against each other:

  • Sun JWSDP 1.5 / Sun HTTP Server 6.1
  • IBM WebSphere 6.0 / IBM HTTP Server 6.0
  • .NET 1.1 / IIS 6.0
  • .NET 2.0 / IIS 6.0

They said, extensive time was taken to tune all the above following each vendor’s best practices and iterative testing to get the best result. For all configurations, tracing, logging, authentication and session state was switched off. Also the Java heap sizes and thread settings were tuned for max. performance. And, all tests were run on the same hardware (in this case a AMD Opteron 1.8 ghz).

Read up the full details of the wbeservices tested, including further breakdown of the statistics and also a discussion of the test methodologies used.

Conclusion: The results indicate that Web Service performance is roughly 25% better in .NET 2.0 than .NET 1.1 when the soap object size is large and hence deserialization/serialization operations are more intensive. The difference is even more dramatic for smaller SOAP message sizes, with the echostruct size 20 test showing .NET 2.0 beta2 performance to be roughly 40% better than .NET 1.1. In all cases using the 50-client methodology (read on their site for the webservice details), .NET outperforms both SunOne and IBM Websphere 6.0, often by wide margins.

Yahoo's 360 is up

Yahoo’s new blog service called 360, which till now was not open to the public is now up and open – you should be able to sign in using your yahoo id. You can do a lot of things in addition to the blog such as Photos, Reviews, Links, Blast (which is an online conversation thread – looks quite similar to a chat session), Radio, etc. Check out a sample page provided by Yahoo which shows their vision. I have been waiting for this to go live for a little while, and though Yahoo has come late to the game of blogging, it sure has added a lot of stuff which allows it to catch up.

You can check out my 360 page here.

My Media Center Configuration

I have been asked this a few times and till now I have been shying from posting this, but here it is now, the details of the MCE I build a few months ago (in Feb. 2005).

There you have it. I had done loads of research and found for my budget this was perfect. The idea being in a couple of years this box can move into the study and be a powerful desktop/server then.

Dell's new Laser Printer (less than $100)

Yep, you read it right, Dell’s new laser printer 1100 sells for $100 in the US or £84 in the UK (including tax and delivery) and does feature some impressive specs (for its price) – such as 600 dpi and 15 ppm. Maybe its time I did not worry about getting a transformer for my HP LaserJet 2100 (which runs on 110v and the wall here in UK has 220v) and just bought this.

Cisco's XML Device?

Off the top of my head I cannot think of any true value for this (also I am not a System Engineer, so maybe its just that). Cisco is ready to release a new device that hands XML traffic and is supposed to bring “advanced XML security and management capabilities”. Cisco has a new new AON (Application-Oriented Networking) group (*groan*, talk about overusing a terminology) and has partnered with leading middle ware vendors such as SAP and IBM. The device is suppose to add new functions such as XML message parsing, schema validation and digital signature validation.

Now, I am quite skeptical, as businesses evolve and change so does their systems, and yes while there might be some value in doing schema and signature validation, but how easy will it be to update the schema as that evolves? The more one needs to do – the closer we are going to something like a EAI product (BizTalk, Tibco, etc.). Is Cisco changing direction to get into that business?

Fiddle and see what happens

An editor’s note warns “Technology, the laws, and limitations imposed by manufacturers and content owners are constantly changing, Thus, some of the projects described may not work, may be inconsistent with current laws or user agreements or may damage or adversely affect some equipment. Your safety is your own responsibility, including proper use of equipment and safety gear, and determining whether you have adequate skill and experience.”
How scary. And how refreshing. Make, a new quarterly put out by O’Reilly Media, a publisher of computer and technology books in Sebastopol, California, is a throwback to an earlier time, before personal computers, to the prehistory of geekiness – the age of how-to manuals for clever boys, from the 1920s to the ’50s.

The technology has changed, but not the creative impulse. Make’s first issue, out in February, explained how to take aerial photographs with a kite, a disposable camera and a rig of Popsicle sticks, rubber bands and Silly Putty. It also showed how to build a video-camera stabiliser – a Steadicam, basically – with $14 worth of steel pipes, bolts and washers; how to boost a laptop computer’s Wi-Fi signal with foil from an Indian take-out restaurant; and how to read credit card magnetic stripes with a device made with mail-order parts and a glue gun.

True, the fiddles in Make are harder than your basic stencilled pillowcase. The third issue, due out in August, will include projects for tricking out your house for Halloween. That leaves three months to study the instructions and to assemble who knows what will be required: presumably wires, switches, cables, adaptors, speakers, goggles, hard drives, Legos, plywood, dry ice, acrylics, glue and spent nuclear fuel rods.
You’ll proceed strictly at your own risk, but if the first two issues of Make are any guide, the trip will be a blast.

(cross posted from IHT, read the editorial here).

One man's feature is another man's bloat – The Java Performance Debate

Firstly this is not a Java bashing and I don’t preach to say .NET/C++, etc is faster. However, based on what I have seen it sure is slow – slow like a snail. Maybe its the time that takes to load the VM or maybe it Swing – gurk! I like how Andy puts it – “One man’s feature is another man’s bloat”. He has a very objective article on the area which are slow, what Sun is doing to address it and what the main issues (with the developers) are – who don’t know how to use it. He talks about the Memory, JVM, Desktop and Java2D