Tuesday, March 28, 2006

4 years of Computer Science

4 years is a long time, especially when you are only 21. And when you spend those four years trying to get a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, you've got to make something of all that time. Anyway, this posting is not about me :)
Sometime back I got thinking, I've been sitting around on my ass the last 4 years while the world of Computers has been going ahead at full gallop. Having entered CS after the dot-com boom in a period where the whole industry was entering a fresh period of stability, expansion, outsourcing and innovation; I decided I'd make an effort to list out what I consider are the big things that have happened to the field. So here goes (in no particular order).
[This is a work in progress]
  1. The Google expansion/invasion/phenomenon. google maps, mail, desktop, earth, picasa, scholar, suggest, reader, gtalk, news, personalised home, video, groups, directory. (half of these are google acquiring other companies)
  2. Flickr and the new paradigm for photo albums.(also Zooomr)
  3. Apple's ipod and the more recent revolution in ipod related products.
  4. Firefox and the rebirth of the browser war, triggerin the recent release of IE7.
  5. RSS/Atom feeds, podcasts, screencasts, newsfeeds, blogging.
  6. Wikipediathe revolution in collaborative, open, free editing and publishing.
  7. The veritable explosion of GNU/Linux distros bordering on the insane. Ports to PPC/Mac, Live CD's, Ubuntu, redhat's fedora makeover.
  8. The 'survival' of Windows against the onslaught of gnu/linux. Doomsday predictions for ms windows not coming true :P inspite of Windows XP turning 5 years old. Longhorn (vista beta) is out for a long time, waking up the taste buds but vista is delayed meaninglessly on security concerns and stuff until 2007.
  9. IPv6
  10. AJAX, triggering the mighty awesome happening that is Web 2.0 .Web based services have reached a whole new magnitude and ajax leads the lot in the creation of web-enabled products.
  11. The processor wars, Intel v/s AMD. 64 bit computing on the desktop, x64 kicking itanium in the ass, dual-core.
  12. The GPU wars, ATI v/s Nvidia. Massive logic on the graphics card that eclipses the fastest cpu chips. SLI technology, SIMD to use gpu as coprocessor.
  13. digg.com, last.fm, del.icio.us and scores other highly successful community sites dishing out services we never imagined possible.
  14. The continuin war against software patents (in europe). Meanwhile, DRM is up and about.
  15. Voip makes it out of skype and into gtalk, yahoo, msn and everybody. SIP is here.
  16. IBM who made the first PC, sell their entire pc business, lock stock and barrel to lenovo.
  17. Solaris goes open source. Sun gets into the free software bandwagon too late for their own good. Open Solaris is now out there.
  18. wi-fi and bluetooth come into their own.
  19. Mobile phones go HUGE in India. Mobile phones start having graphics cards and processors of the kind computers of a few years ago.

Monday, March 20, 2006

firefox extensions

I've been using firefox since its early beginnings ;) but never got round to seriously using any of the extensions, guess I was happy within firefox itself. Every time I installed some extension, I would run into some problem or the other and after a major fiasco with the session saver, I totally ditched all extensions.

Recently however I have been using some ultra-neat extensions that make my browsing life a lot easier.


I keep switching between a bunch of proxy servers, our main squid proxy, my socks tunnel to bypass the main squid proxy, a local squid that does my authentication and a squid that is hosted in the hostel area. Before switchproxy came along, life was a nightmare and I had to manually edit the proxy settings everytime I needed to change.


Refcontrol again was an extension that I searched for in an hour of need. I was like 'hacking' ;) into some poorly written jsp based server that maintained authentication and a bunch of other stuff by checking referrers. I was wondering if I'd need to hack up some http request code when I found refcontrol that makes the whole process trivial.


rss and atom feeds have been around for some time, but I never went beyond firefox's live bookmarks. I was too lazy to install a separate aggregator. Anyway, I found Sage, and have since fallen in love with it. Slashdot, Digg, google news and a bunch of blogs are now a click away to a pretty and cute sage generated page.


Reveal is the only one of my eye-candy extensions, and were it not so cute, I would have scrapped it the moment I installed it. What reveal does is that it makes a page of thumbnails of all your windows/tabs. It does a lot more, but that is the bottomline, totally worth cheking out.


just check the link out

DOM Inspector

DOM inspector comes builtin in firefox, you choose to install it when you install firefox. If you know what DOM is, you can guess what the dom inspector is. It has been in mozilla and firefox since forever and is extremely useful for any web developer.


Adds a host of functions to, like session management(that works), merging windows, locking tabs etc.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

the world moves on

web 2.0 is accelerating at a deadly pace and I have a sinking feeling that I am falling behind a train/truck/whatever that I never managed to get onto.

after a long long time, I go tech hopping today on the net and discover an almighty load of new stuff that I barely knew existed

I thought apache was the whole world, okay, allowing for iis and thttpd. Suddenly I discover LightHttpd. Then go a little round and round reading up its wonders. Meanwhile i hear about zeus, tux, boa etc etc.

Ruby on Rails, fastcgi, memcached etc etc. I discover that LAMP is not the only web-development stack available. SOmbody writes about rubyonrails and talks about stuff like Java/JSTL/Spring/Hibernate/MySQL. And I thought jsp/servlets on Tomcat was all that java and web-devel had in common :)

New Ultra Cool sites:
Zooomr takes on the almighty flickr and zooomr is the product of a 17yr kid! Let some big guy buy him out and the kid will not have to work for the rest of his life :P
Writely in the news because of the google takeover.
Google's feed reader: once again, i am late if knowing what google has been upto.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Midway through the treat season

and totally strapped of cash :(
Expenses of close to 10K on treats to friends, wingies, cousins and friends. More coming and I have few to no ways of convincing my parents that they have to give me money.

Meanwhile, Chandak (who got into lime group @ $85000, UMD and UNC) and Behjat (who got into sarnoff and UMD) treated us at this wonderful place called TIAN at Juhu. this is a purrfect place for a treat esp when people are in for a cocktail(/mocktail) or two. Their pub has a great ambience and you can always do down to their Indian or Oriental restaurants for a wonderful dinner before you go home and sleep. The service is excellent and they gave a 10% discount and topped it off with a card that guarantees 10% off everytime we visit.