Flying Alarm Clock?!

“Necessity is the mother of invention”. But are we pushing the limits of our necessity? I was thinking about it when I happened to see this new gadget - “Flying Alarm Clock“. Have we become so lazy that we can’t force ourselves to get up when the alarm goes off? The flying alarm clock goes little above the line of what an alarm clock is supposed to do. It will definitely be useful for those that disregard the alarm when it goes on and keep hitting the snooze button and go back to sleep. The clock is fitted with a little propeller that starts flying and falls somewhere in your room when the alarm goes on. It also makes a loud shrieking noise once it is on. The propeller is a key and until it is fit back to the clock the alarm doesn’t go off. Since it is lying in some corner of your room, you don’t have a chance to stop it without getting up, picking up the the propeller and stick it back to the clock to stop the alarm. By that time you would be wide awake that you cannot go back to sleep easily. But after few days, the frustration could make a person force to get up if a normal alarm clock goes on.

Have a fantastic weekend! :-)

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Comments      Cosmos

A Copy Paste Joke

This is a forwarded joke that I couldn’t resist laughing after reading. It is a copy pasted joke about copy paste.

A popular motivational speaker was entertaining his audience. Said he:  “The best years of my life were spent in the arms of a woman who wasn’t my wife!”

The audience was in silence and shock.
The speaker added:  “And that woman was my mother!”
Laughter and applause.

A week later, a top manager trained by the motivational speaker tried to crack this very effective joke at home. He was a bit foggy after a drink.

He said loudly, “The greatest years of my life were spent in the arms of a woman who was not my wife!”
The wife went wan with shock and rage.
Standing there for 20 seconds trying to recall the second half of the joke, the manager finally blurted out “… and I can’t remember who she was!”

Moral of the story:
Don’t copy if you can’t paste!

The top manager must be a guy who would have never seen a computer in his life :-) . Happy Thursday.

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Comments (2)      Cosmos

Network Fallacies

A common ignorance with new developers (sometimes even the experienced developers) is the ignorance towards how the developed code would perform in a production environment. There are several architectural as well as implementation specific parameters that needs to be kept in mind while developing an application. What might look like a perfect system while testing on a local servers could actually fail miserably on a production environment. Obviously these are not function errors rather non functional, for example slow response time, bad user experience etc. Many of such things could be avoided if some of the non functional requirements are kept in mind during development as well as testing. One such key area that developers often miss is the parameters around network. On one hand is the ignorance about it but on the other hand is knowing them wrong or having misconception about network and the effects of it. The eight fallacies (mistaken belief’s) of network are,

  1. Reliable Network - Even though one would be choosing a data center to host the application, it is very important to understand what the data center offers in terms of the network reliability and availability. The availability the data center promises becomes your application’s default availability. So assuming that once the application is hosted in a data center, doesn’t mean that there will be reliable network connection 24×7x365
  2. Zero Latency - Your application’s response time includes time for information to travel back and forth between the client and the server. There is no teleporting happening. The more the information has to travel, there would be more back and forth communication because the entire information doesn’t travel in one packet. So it is important to keep in mind what you send and receive and if it is optimized.
  3. Infinite Bandwidth - The network bandwidth determines the capacity of a system to transfer information over a network connection. Too many connections beyond the bandwidth can support could also lead to slow response and connection time outs. Like how your intranet setup environment will not allow you to connect beyond certain number of connections, so would there be a limit on your production environment. Get to know the bandwidth the data center guarantees for your system and calculate approximately the number of connections the system can handle given the bandwidth.
  4. Secure network - While this can be enabled based on what protocol you use (HTTPS for example) this is not default. The data center could provide protection to who enters the servers, but not necessarily the information carried over the network.
  5. Unchanged topology - Topology is arrangement of node elements and the links between them. When your application is clustered and/or you share the network with other systems in the data center, understand the topology and how the nodes are connected. Also for better inter connectivity the topology need not be the same always.
  6. One administrator - Unless you have setup your own production environment and you are all in all everything, understand that it will not be one administrator managing all your network. There could be many who would be involved in managing the network and ensuring the network is most reliable and available. Ensure that there is good support team that can manage network in the data center round the clock. If your application has a global presence, then all the more you will need your application available throughout a day.
  7. Zero transport cost - Network utilization is not a fixed cost usually. Your data center puts a restriction on usage for a fixed cost and then usage beyond that would be charged. This possibly would help you to realize that the bandwidth you had originally opted for is no more enough. Also your data center gives little flexibility by not cutting down connections exactly when the connections to your system cross the bandwidth limit.
  8. Homogeneous network - The network may not be dedicated in entire to your application. There could be several other applications or tools that could be consuming or think about the interoperability with other systems from your application.

Keep all of the fallacies above in mind ensures that you plan your network capacity properly for the application and ensure that your application doesn’t get affected because of it.

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Comments      Cosmos

McException!

I was trying to find a McDonalds restaurant in India using their restaurant locator link. Once I clicked on the link I got the below page. Click on the image to view it in original.

McException. Click to view the image in original size

Well things could go wrong, no site is perfect. But dealing with exceptions and errors and displaying an user friendly message should be taken care of and not everything might come out as requirement. The exception trace in the above page obviously points out the problem connecting to the database. Is it a developer’s fault or a tester’s fault or both? Something for you to ponder about :-)

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Problem Overseen

If you consider and compare the projects that we execute today vs what was done ten years back, the complexity has become higher both in terms of the problem as well as the solution around it. Partly this complexity attributes to the complexity of the requirements, IT explosion and complex integration needs, and also the frameworks and tools that help in solving today’s problems rapidly but at the cost of certain other factors like huge learning curve, assuming one understands the basics and principles of software engineering, need for rapid application development etc. The root cause in falling systems usually ends up with a crack in the wall, something obvious and simple thoroughly overseen and attention given to something else. Here is a short and humorous dialogue between Sherlock Holmes and Mr. Watson that is an analogy to the above.

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went camping. After a good meal and a bottle of wine they lay down in their tent and went to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged Watson awake

“Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.” “What does that tell you?” Holmes questioned.

Watson pondered a while.

“Astronomically, it tells me that here are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets.”
“Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo.”
“Chronologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three.”
“Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are small and insignificant.”
“Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.”
“What does it tell you?”

Holmes was silent for a minute, and then spoke.

“Watson, you ass. Someone has stolen our tent!”

Have a great week :-)

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Websites for Ministers

I was impressed reading a recent news article in the local newspaper on 18 ministers in Kerala being provided with a website for their respective departments, that keeps track of their profile, reports, achievements and many more. I was initially thinking that the quality of the sites maybe substandard as I have seen many other Indian Government sites, but surprisingly the quality is not at all bad and it already contains many information on each of the state department’s activities. This is a good step and every other state in the country should follow it, provided the content is regularly updated and also provides ways for people to reach out and provide suggestions/complaints etc.

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YSlow - Why Slow?

YSlow is an extension to the Firebug extension for Firefox. As you might be aware the Firebug extension is a very useful tool for developers to analyze a web page in terms of different components, structure and their construction. YSlow helps one analyze the performance of the website in terms of response times and the difference components within a page that is the result of the overall response time. Web page performance is a combination of implications starting from the page layout to database queries. YSlow helps in analyzing what is visible to the outside world. YSlow is from Yahoo! and they have shared the best practices for improving the performance of the web sites. A good add on Firfeox extension for the developers to keep a tab on the performance right from the beginning.

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Comments      Cosmos

Goosh - The Unofficial Google Shell

If you are as crazy as me spending a lot of time on putty terminal windows and like to drum the keyboard than drag the mouse this might interest you. Goosh is an unofficial Google shell that imitates working in a UNIX type shell environment and provides a command line based features that Google search engine offers. Not all of the features are available but the most important ones are already there. When you open the Goosh page, you feel like you have logged in into a shell environment. “Man” in *nix is the command for viewing the manual for any help. Similarly here if you type “man” or “help” or “h” or “?” you will get a list of commands that can be used Goosh. Here is the list of commands available.

Goosh Command List

The default is a search command; type anything and hit “enter” key, you get back the search results as you would perform on a typical Google search. Many of the commands have aliases as well and the alias is as simple as a single letter. For example “l youtube” takes you to the Youtube website. It is the equivalent as typing youtube in Google search page and pressing “I’m Feeling Lucky”. Try Goosh, am sure you will like it.

Thanks to my friend Rajesh Kannan for bringing Goosh to my notice.

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