Monthly Archive: August 2005

Japanese Vending Machines

How many different types of vending machines have you seen ?

I came across this site while browsing through digg.com, which has photos of Japanese vending machine starting from eggs, photo printers, toilet papers, toys, fried foods, Beetles (yes, beetles) to… porn… to…batteries to Kerosene and what not!

Check the site out : PhotoMann Images of Japanese Vending Machines

What is a vending machine ? – Find more about it at wikipedia.

Mangalore – Growth, Development

Woke up late yesterday, and got a much needed hair-cut :)…. cut my hair pretty short. So, should not be a problem for the next 2 months ;). Went to the office yesterday to finish of some minor chores.

Got up late today too. Weekends = Get up late :). I expect the next couple of weeks to be pretty hectic. We will be celebrating the 10th birthday of Mangalore Infosys on 9th September, and I expect quite a lot time to be spent on this activity. The function that we had on 18th August was just the Inauguration function.

The September 9th function would be held at the T M A Pai – MAHE Convention center at Mangalore. Its a huge building with two domes in Mangalore. Kind of a landmark. Infact, one of the dome is supposed to be the biggest one in Asia!. Not sure how true that is!

Here are the pics of the building :

TMA Pai -MAHE- Convention Center
TMA memorial convention center at Mangalore (click to zoom in)

TMA Pai -MAHE- Convention Center Left Wing
Left wing of the building (click to zoom in)

TMA Pai -MAHE- Convention Center Right Wing
Left wing of the building (click to zoom in)

Last Friday, we had been to the building to plan for the 9th September function. Its quite impressive. The entire building is Air conditioned. It has 3 conference halls, 1 dining hall, 1 big exhibition hall, and an auditorium. The auditorium can accommodate around 1800 people easily! The Auditorium has 10000 PMPO Bose speaker system !.. cool!……It also has ample parking space in the basement. Last Friday, we had been to that building to plan for the arrangements.

Mangalore is growing…. Lot of other big building projects coming up in Mangalore. There is a building right next to this convention center called “The Empire”. Its supposed to be a big shopping center. Similarly, a big multiplex complex is also under construction in Bejai, near the bus-stand. Construction is going on in full swing. … so, Mangalore would be a much more interesting place few years from now! So, watch out!

Looking for the latest technology news ?

Looking for technology news … , try digg.com. Really cool, and is driven by community. You get the very latests technology information.

From thier FAQ page :

What is digg?
Digg is a technology news website that combines social bookmarking, blogging, RSS, and non-hierarchical editorial control. With digg, users submit stories for review, but rather than allow an editor to decide which stories go on the homepage, the users do.

They even have an RSS feed of the news times on their homepage.

Definately a good competition for technorati which is kind of loosing its shine recently.

Happy digging :)

Google – Refreshed ?

I guess someone just pressed the F5 button at Google. In the last couple of weeks we have seen some major changes in the services that Google offers. And more importantly, some new services too!

Quality of Search Results
Let me begin with the Quality of the search result. No doubt the quality is much much better now. I had cribbed about it sometime back, but now, I guess my cribs have been answered. The much talked about ‘trust rank‘ paper/algorithm seems to be working. Kudos ! :)

Google Talk
The biggest talk of this week has been the launch of Google talk instant messenger!. Wow. They have done a neat job here.

  • Its based on open standards.
  • Works out of the box with other clients that support the jabber protocol
  • Is got a very clean UI, zero clutter. Full points here. Windows neatly arrange/dock.
  • People say that even the voice quality is cool. I am yet to check it out.
  • Very good integration with gmail.
  • Oh.. yes.. Its still in beta :) So, we can expect a few more cool additions.

The major point here is, Google’s entry into VOIP scene. What next ? Video chat ? or a Google becoming a ISP ?? Rumors all around the net.

You can read more about Google talk over the Google blog.

Google Desktop 2
Other major release in the past week was the Google Desktop 2. Notice that its Google Desktop, and not Google Desktop Search. Clearly, it does a lot more than searching. This software too is a clear winner. Installed it over my home PC. The best part of this is its extensible, i.e., you can use plugins to add functionality to it!. Check out the huge plugins library here. If you are using AdSense, there is this cool plugin which shows your AdSene earnings right on your desktop. One more point to note here is, this software clearly portrays Google’s expertise in writing desktop application. It clearly shows that they are not just a web-based company. The UI is cool, and very intuitive.

A detailed review of Google Desktop is available here.

Making Sense of AdSense?
The best news here is Section Targeting. This comes as a major relief to many bloggers. Normally, the navigation text mess-up with the AdSense bot, and as a result, irrelevant Adsare shown on many blogs. It takes lot of tweaking for proper Ads to show up. But this feature is a major blessing. Section targeting allows us to suggest sections of our text and HTML content that we’d like Google to emphasize or downplay when matching ads to our site’s content. You can read more about this here.

The AdSense reporting too has been improved. We can also know the top search queries too. Btw, did you know that the Adsense Team has a blog called Inside AdSense?.

GMail
Did you that by the end of this year, GMail would be offering 3GB storage space?. Its growing by the day. One cool feature that was introduced recently was the “Send as” feature. Now you can send mail using some other From id. This is a neat and useful feature. And, finally, gmail is open to all.

Blogger
On the blogger front, they have introduced Word Verification for Comments, this would be a weclome addition for most bloggers to fight comment spam. Recently, they also launched a Word Plugin for blogger. So, you can directly blog from Word!

Google Sitemap
After using Sitemaps, I have noticed that my pages are indexed faster, and the traffic too has increased. Also, the AdSense performance is better. So, do use Sitemaps if you haven’t yet used it.

Google Blogs
Here is a list of official Google blogs.

So, this is google refresh ? .. if so, what would happen at the next google refresh ?

Identifying the type of a file

After the ant attack, i was installing windows xp on a fresh partition. While doing the installation, windows xp install executed chkdsk, and did some really stupid thing. It somehow manage to detect some errors on other partition as shown below :

Unrecoverable error in folder \FolderName.
Convert folder to file (Y/N)? Yes

It never asked me if I wanted to correct this error ! It itself corrected the errors! As a result, the entire folder got converted to a file called FolderName which of 32kb in size. The same thing was done for around 12 to 13 folders. (got this info from the event log)

And the content of the folder ??? gone. vanished.

Later, I found that CHKDSK had created a folder called FOUND.000 in the root directory of that drive, and it contained tons of files serially numbered…

FILE0000.chk
FILE0001.chk
FILE0002.chk
and so on….

So, basically, it had taken the content of the folder (the lost one), and created these files.
Now, the data was present, but the task was to Identify the type of the file. Around 4K plus files were created. Not all of them were important, but some were, and they were quite big. Eg, My old mail archives – PST file…. or some JPG photos that I had clicked with my digi cam!

I was looking for some tool or program which could identify the type of a file. And my search ended up with a tool called TrID.

Its a very good tool, and here is the description from its readme file.

TrID is a utility designed to identify file types from their binary
signatures. While there are similar utilities with hard coded rules,
TriID has no such rules. Instead, it is extensible and can be trained
to recognize new formats in a fast and automatic way.

TrID uses an XML-based database of definitions which describe
recurring patterns for supported file types.

You can help creating new definitions!
Just run the TrIDScan module against a number of files of a given type.
The program will do the rest.

Basically there are three versions available..

1. Command line version – good for batch jobs.
2. GUI version – TrIDNet – based on .net – so you need the .net framework installed.
3. The online version. – You can upload a file, and get to know the type of the file.

Hope this info becomes useful in case you find a need for such a utility.

So, now, 100% recovery is possible, but, its a painful process. Maybe I should write some code which automates the renaming part!

Narayana Murthy in Mangalore

Its a little more then 3 years since I joined Infosys and yesterday was the inauguration function of the 10 year celebration of mInfosys. Like I had mentioned in my earlier post, 8th September 2005 would mark 10 years of Mangalore Infosys Development center.

Mr. Narayana Murthy, our Chief Mentor was present for the yesterday’s inauguration session at Mangalore. This was the first time that I could see him in person!

Our entire office was decorated for this occasion.
You can see the Rangolies below :
RangoliRangoliRangoliRangoli

Due to the Mangalore rains, the entire open air amphitheater was covered. You can see the stage settings and the amphitheater below :

Decorated Stage - Amphitheater at Mangalore InfosysAmphitheater at Mangalore Infosys
The stage decoration & Amphitheater

The inaugural session began at around 5 PM in the evening. I got some good close up snaps of both Mr. Murthy and Mr. Mohandas Pai, our CFO.

Narayana Murthy Mohandas Pai
Mr. Narayana Murthy & Mr. Mohandas Pai

The inaugural function was followed by cultural show. Also, yesterday was the traditional day, and all Infoscions were in their traditional attire!

The star of the show was obviously Mr. Narayana Murthy. I had heard/read/seen a lot about him before, and knew that he was a very simple man, but after what i saw yesterday, it was a reaffirmation of what I had heard/read and seen. Really amazed at the simplicity of this man.

Some things that I noted about Mr. Murthy:

  • We made a presentation to him, and he would listen fully to what you say. Always talks very kindly.
  • When he arrived at our office, he was in a formal attire. After he came to know that Mangalore Infosys was celebration traditional day, he switch over to a traditional dress – Down to earth person.
  • Absolutely did not show any signs of being such a big person. He was the Most energetic person in the entire crowd. Would clap for every performance on stage. He was with the crowd most of the time, talking to all the employees, taking snaps etc.
  • Leadership by example – This one impressed me a lot! – For the buffet dinner, he stood in the queue along with the junta, served himself, and then settled down.

I can go on and on………….We have soo much to learn from a person like Mr. Murthy.

And here is the most treasured photo of all :

Me with Narayana Murthy
Me on the immediate right of NRN ! A memorable moment

Update : September 9th Function at Mangalore.

My First love

Well, this post is kind of very lengthy and a bit nostalgic. The story dates back to somewhere in the late 80’s and the early 90’s I guess. Woow…Ok. its not about Me and Chitra (my wife). Chitra is NOT my first love :D (I always say that to her too)

Ok. Its about me and computers.

When did I first see this device?
…….I think when I was in grade 2!!. May be around 1986-1987.

Where did I see it ?
…… @ a bank!! Karnataka Bank to be precise. My aunt used to work there and it was close to our school. Me and my cousin used to go there if our school left early … and to keep us busy, our aunt would execute some code, which would basically print some numbers on the screen. We would sit and see the numbers scroll up on the screen, …. and that would keep us busy! (feel soo stupid now!). I think it was mostly some COBOL code running on a mainframe … I have no idea about the setup even today.

Anyway, being in grade 2, it did not make any sense to us at that point of time.

Well being a kid, I was kind of very very interested in electronics stuff. Hand-held video games, TV-video games, electronic watches, … anything!.. and computer was no different. It was a BIG electronic device.

The real introduction to computer happened when I was in grade 6 I think. We had an optional computer course/subject in school (Canara High School), and I was more than happy to take that course/subject.

I think this was somewhere in 1991-1992. Our school had 2 computers at that time. Both were IBM compatible PC. The specs were as follows :

  • The brand name was Siva. (sterling computers)
  • I think it had a 12″ CGA monitor
  • A 8086 processor
  • 640 kb RAM
  • no harddisk
  • Two 5.25″ floppy drives
  • And a keyboard
  • DOS 2.0 (I think. not very sure)

The worst part was, one of the two PCs was always in not-working state. There weren’t many people in mangalore those days with computer knowledge. So, repairs would take ages.

So, we had one computer at our disposal, and 32 people around it.

What did we learn on it ?
I remember learning Logo & Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code (BASIC). Wow………..I still remember the logo turtle :) cute! and the line numbering in Basic :)

Games……oh boy!!!. Most of the time was spent in games. The instructor had somehow managed to get some games on a floppy………… and that was kind of the most awaited event. :)
32*2 = 64 hands on a single keyboard :)…….Just Imagine!!!

What games did we play ?
I remember playing pac-man. Then there was Grand Prix. Someone had renamed the file as maruti.exe !! So, the game was Maruti for us for quite sometime and not Grand Prix!! (btw, Maruti was/is a popular car in India, specially in the early 90’s and even now.) But the most popular game was Digger. One of the most addictive games, and I play it even today :). Then there were other games like Alley Cat, Donkey Kong, HangMan, “Where in the world is carmen sandiago”, space invaders etc.

Those days, the games would fit on one single floppy. Not one game, but many games!. The only exception was the game “Prince of Persia“. This game was totally different from others. It would take one full floppy!!!

I still remember buying 2 floppies for Rs 120 each !!! and storing some games on it! around 20 of them!! I still have those floppies with me, even today. Verbatim :)

After a year or two, we got one more computer at our school, a PC-XT (eXtended Technology). This one had a harddisk too! 20 MB I think, which was HUGE those days. (Please note, its MB)

Then one fine day, my uncle bought a computer for his automobile shop to manage thier inventory. This one was a much powerful computer! It was a PC-AT (Advance technology). The config was :

  • It basically had a Intel 286 processor
  • It had a math co-processor 287
  • 1 MB of RAM
  • 40 MB Hard-disk
  • 3.5″ and 5.25″ floppy drives
  • CGA monitor
  • Keyboard
  • A turbo switch !!! (to make it slower!!)
  • Don’t remember the clock speed!. Think it was 16 MHz.

Oh yes, one more thing………. How would one switch on the PC’s those days ?? There was a small lever at the rear end of the cabinet. You had to use it like a electrical circuit breaker! :) fun :)

I still remember one major incident that happened at my uncles office….. Here it goes.. :

The new computer was in office for a month or so. They asked a guy to write some program for their day to day operations. The program was written, and the data entry started. …. and this went on for around a month. In the mean while, I had my floppy with me with all the games on it, and I was just waiting for a chance to try it out on my uncles PC.

I insert the floppy, and issue the following command at the DOS prompt : A:
I get some error message. I think it was something like “General Failure reading drive A:”
I press I (Ignore).
Then I started some game (alley cat I guess)……….
The game went on, played for sometime.
I happily switched off the PC.

It was kind of an achievement!!. And then, the next day, my uncle came home looking for me, asking what I had done. It seemed that there was some virus, and the entire harddisk was wiped off…. All data gone……. back to square one. No back up nothing.

So, in short, that was my introduction to virus. I don’t remember the name of that virus , but…….after that incident, I used to regularly use antivirus software!. Nashshot was one of the most popular antivirus software those days. then there was Central Point Antivirus, and with one version of DOS, there was Microsoft Antivirus too (which was basically Central Point thing).

This incident made me more curious about computers… and I began to explore more of it!

During those days, we did not have windows/GUI. It was all text based. I think when I was in Grade 9, they started a Computer College in our school campus, called the Canara Community College. And they had arranged for some basic classes for the students in the evening. I was one of the students who decided to join it. The first batch, that is.

Some serious stuff this time :

  • Word Star 4 : The first word processor that I learnt
  • DBase III : The first Database application/package I learnt
  • Some basic programming too in DBase III.(by this time we had already done some basic programming in BASIC)
  • Also learnt a spreadsheet application called Quattro Pro (It was similar to Lotus 123, excel), but DOS based. It was from Borland.

After I finished my Grade 10 (SSLC), during the vacation, I joined one more course. This time was Corel Ventura (version 4 I think), and it was on a Windows 3.1! I think this was in 1995., and it was fun. It was here where I learnt about the basics of formatting, GUI, designs etc !….

In the mean while, the computer at my uncles office was kind of obsolete, and this time around they bought a more powerful PC, a 486 DX PC with 16 MB of RAM running Windows 3.0. But this one had still a B&W monitor. But the
graphics was better. VGA :)

I think I have spent hundreds of hours in front of the PC those days. (and I continue to do so even today)!
:)

At home, the demand for a PC at home was building up, and I think in 1998 or so, I got a PC at home. I think we spend somewhere around Rs. 45K on this machine.

It was a Pentium machine. (P1)
166 MHz
128 MB RAM!
MMX technology :)
2 GB Hard disk!!!!
Win 95
14″ color monitor (vintron)
Sound card + CD ROM drive! Woooo…

Then then on, I have kept upgrading my PC from time to time. I think totally around 4 to 5 major upgrades.

From Pentium I, I moved to a 300 MHz Celeron Processor. And then I think a 500 MHz PII. and finally, now a AMD Athlon XP 2000 processor!

Talking about the Internet/mail revolution, My first E-mail account was a Hotmail account. It was way back in 1997. I still use that account!. Those days, hotmail was plain hotmail!. Ie, it wasn’t Microsoft hotmail. We had to go to Cyber cafe to browse. I think we paid around Rs. 90 for 1 hour on the net!.. lol. Today, things have changed drastically! Got a broad band connection, and I am always connected to the net!

I booked my domain name in 1999 I think. There was a company called namezero.com, and they started to offer domain names for free. (they would put a frame of ad on your site!). So, that was when I took this domain!!!. It has been with me ever since then even though namezero does not provide the same free service now!

Times have changed, the hardware is changed, the Internet has changed…….but one thing still remains……….- The love!

mInfosys turns 10!

Infosys Mangalore
The Infosys Mangalore Building – A landmark in Mangalore

The Mangalore Development Center (DC) of Infosys was the first development center outside Bangalore. And this September 8th, mInfosys turns 10 !

Mangalore DC is known as “The Happening DC”, and true to its reputation, a series of events are planned starting Aug 18th to celebrate this occasion.

And, that has been keeping me busy for the past few days, and will continue to do so for the next couple of days. I am in the publicity team, and life has been kind of hectic. :)

I am a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP)

Cleared the first exam of the MCAD certification program.

ie, Exam 70-305 – Developing and Implementing Web Applications with Microsoft Visual Basic® .NET and Microsoft Visual Studio® .NET

Now I am a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) ! :)

Score : 981 out of 1000. ie, around 98.1% (70% is needed to clear the exam)

The exam was pretty cool. The boot-camps held a couple of days back at our office helped a lot. The dumps available on the net too helped.

2 more to go for MCAD !.

Update : Folks, If you are looking for dumps, I dont have the latest ones. Kindly have a look at braindumps.com