Friday, November 30, 2007

Database Sensei Brian 'Krow' Aker Answers Your Questions

So, let me get this straight: you (mySQL) use a dolphin to fetch data while PostgreSQL uses an elephant to fetch data. Would that explain why PostgreSQL is better at fetching large datasets? Like, the elephant can haul more, but is slower while the dolphin is faster, but can't carry as well? Have you thought about using a non-animal to fetch your data? Maybe a racecar? Those are fast and could probably haul as much as an elephant. Plus, then I wouldn't need to have fish or peanuts in my server room.

India's tax story: A success?

With surcharges and cesses, it is now 34 per cent. The results are most gratifying. While the tax rates have fallen, collections in relation to GDP have gone up from less than 2 per cent of GDP when the reform began, to about 7 per cent now.

If anyone wants proof that people are more willing to pay taxes if the rates are reasonable, and if the tax collection machinery uses data bases intelligently to bring millions more into the tax net, here it is. All the leftists who have criticised the broad thrust of tax reforms should have the grace to admit that they were wrong, and that the reformers were right.

Scary facts about India's skill gap

Quite a few Indian companies have no option but to import people for even blue-collar jobs. Here are a couple of examples: DLF Laing-O'Rourke is planning to bring over 20,000 carpenters and electricians from West Asia for its projects in India. Reliance Industries is using 40,000 blue-collar workers from abroad for its Jamnagar project work.

Totally, therefore, India has about 6 million people who would benefit from skill and vocational training every year (after the current backlog of 82.5 million is trained). Assuming similar employability profiles of the new entrants each year, the country's training bill would be around Rs 36,000 crore (Rs 360 billion) per annum. The calculation is simple.

TeamLease says since 82.5 million of the current employed or unemployed require Rs 490,000 crore for training and skill improvement, six million new entrants are likely to require Rs 36,000 crore.

Though the training bill is substantial, it does have a sound economic as well as social logic. Take the training bill of Rs 490,000 crore over two years for the current 82.5 million people.

TeamLease says spending that amount (10 per cent of GDP) will yield an extra income of Rs 136,000 crore (Rs 1,360 billion) annually, everything else remaining the same. Assuming a discount rate of 8 per cent, this translates to Rs 1,751,487 crore (Rs 17,514.87 billion) of additional income (about 61 per cent of GDP) generated over the lifetime of the current crop of employable/unemployed youth. That's a return of over 600 per cent on the investment.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

An opportunity for Zipcar?

A Plan to Improve Campus Mobility

Lets say we have a few slots reserved for zip car at every building on campus. In college towns, we can have zipcars at dorms, walmart, etc.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

7 Habits of Highly Innovative People

Dont like the original article, but these resources sound good.

External Resources on Creative Thinking and Innovation (books contain affiliates id):

Torvalds On Where Linux Is Headed In 2008

Torvalds: I think the real strength of Linux is not in any particular area, but in the flexibility. For example, you mention virtualization, and in some ways that's a really excellent example, because it's not only an example of something where Linux is a fairly strong player, but more tellingly, it's an example where there are actually many different approaches, and there is no one-size-fits-all "One True Virtualization" model.

There are many different levels of virtualization, and many different trade-offs in efficiency, management, separation, running legacy applications and system software, etc. And different people simply care about different parts of it, which is why the buzz-word "virtualization" shows up in so many places.

And not only do we tend to support many different models of virtualization, but one telling detail may be that I am personally so totally uninterested in it, that I am really happy that I have almost nothing to do with any of them.

And I mention that as a strong point of open source! Why? Because it actually is a great example of what open source results in: one person's (or company's) particular interests don't end up being dominant. The fact that I personally think that virtualization isn't all that exciting means next to nothing.

This is actually the biggest strength of Linux. When you buy an OS from Microsoft, not only you can't fix it, but it has had years of being skewed by one single entity's sense of the market. It doesn't matter how competent Microsoft -- or any individual company -- is, it's going to reflect that fact.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dying 47-Year-Old Professor Gives Exuberant ‘Last Lecture’

Dying 47-Year-Old Professor Gives Exuberant ‘Last Lecture’

Randy Pausch spoke with the theatrics of a showman, the wit of a master comic, and the eloquence of a statesman. He recalled his own childhood dreams, his life's goal to enable the dreams of others, and the lessons he learned and wanted to share over the 46 years of his life. Pausch is a handsome man, with a full head of black hair, bushy eyebrows, and a remarkable sense of humor. Of all the lectures this computer science prof had delivered during years in classrooms, this one was especially poignant and urgent. He began simply enough by quoting his father who always told him that when there is an elephant in the room you introduce it.

So Pausch pulled up on an overhead screen a trio of CAT scans that showed the 10 tumors in his liver and spoke about his doctors' prognosis that he had three to six months of good health left. "That is what it is," he said simply. "We can't change it. We cannot change the cards we are dealt—just how we play the hand."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Webdesign - forms


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Marijuana Cuts Lung Cancer Tumor Growth In Half, Study Shows

The active ingredient in marijuana cuts tumor growth in common lung cancer in half and significantly reduces the ability of the cancer to spread, say researchers at Harvard University who tested the chemical in both lab and mouse studies.

Can't talk now. System's down.

Sorry for the holdup. Looks like a temporary glitch in our network has part of Yahoo! mail down, so you're briefly without service. Rest assured the alarms are blaring in the basement and our team is working frantically to get you up and running ASAP. Again, the snag is on our end — so there's no need for you to do a thing.

Back to it,
Yahoo! Mail Team

The Architecture of Mailinator

The most interesting part to me is that the complete set of hardware that mailinator uses is one little server. Just one. A very modest machine with an AMD 2Ghz Athlon processor, 1G of ram (although it really doesn't need that much), and a boring IDE, 80G hard drive (Check ServerBeach's Category 1 Powerline 2100 for the exact specs). And honestly, its really not very busy at all. I've read the blogs of some copycat services of Mailinator where their owners were upgrading their servers to some big iron. This was really the impetus for me writing down this document - to share a different point of view.

Gift Card Scam

In case you had any doubt that human beings are irrational creatures, driven by stories, consider the case of the gift card.

Christmas has become a holiday about shopping, not about giving. Case in point: the $100 gift card, now available from banks, from stores, even in a rack at the supermarket.

Last year, more than $8,000,000,000 was wasted on these cards. Not in the value spent, but in fees and breakage. When you give a card, if it doesn't get used, someone ends up keeping your money, and it's not the recipient. People spent more than eight billion dollars for nothing... buying a product that isn't as good as cash.

Home Ownership Is Not A Savings Strategy

When you add up interest, insurance, regular maintenance and a couple of costly repairs that are inevitable, a home owner can spend up to three times the purchase price of a house over the life or a mortgage.

Go through the links on that site.

Intellectual Antiproperty

If closed IP makes a small amount of people a lot of money - does opening the IP make a moderate amount of money for a large amount of people? The latter seems a better outcome to me. It also suggests that open hardware benefits small companies more than large ones.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

US and Iraq

Here is an interesting thought experiment.

The UK had a terror campaign waged against it for 30 years (IRA). The IRA terrorist were partly funded by the USA. This was by private individuals not the government(that I know of) but the government turned a blind eye to this and did nothing to stop it. Imagine if instead of the peace process that did happen the UK had invaded USA to stop this terrorism, cause several hundred thousand innocent American citizens to die in the process but succeeded in preventing any further IRA attacks against UK and toppled an unelected dictator (assuming this happened before bush's second term when he did win the election) how many americans would consider this a victory? Or are collateral causalities in the 'war against terrorim' only acceptable when it is foreigners dying?

Imagine you hired a contractor to renovate your house. You started out with a rather run-down, but still serviceable, four-bedroom, two-bath spit entrance ranch.

The contractor starts the project by essentially leveling your entire house with explosives. You end up living in a tent in the back yard, with no plumbing, no electricity, no heat. Heavy machinery is constantly tearing up the yard, sometimes backing over your tent, and once a back-hoe accidentally killed your dog.

Ten years drag by, while you live in your tent. You live through drenching rains, blizzards, and heat waves, year after year. Your youngest child dies of dysentery from the lack of sanitation. You can't work, because without plumbing you can't bathe or wash your clothes. The contractor makes very slow progress, because as becomes clear very early on, he has no idea how to build houses.

Finally, twelve years later, you end up with a reasonably okay home, which now in addition to the four bedrooms and two baths, has a patio, pool, and two-car garage. Unfortunately, your wife has left you, your two youngest children are dead, and you have to re-enter the job market after being unemployable for a dozen years.

Does your contractor get credit for building you a nice new house? How much credit?

Now, let's assume that you didn't hire this particular contractor. He just sort of appointed himself as your contractor, and rebuilt your house for you, unasked, while you shivered in a tent for a decade. How much credit do you think the contractor gets now?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Food subsidies

Drewnowski gave himself a hypothetical dollar to spend, using it to purchase as many calories as he possibly could. He discovered that he could buy the most calories per dollar in the middle aisles of the supermarket, among the towering canyons of processed food and soft drink. (In the typical American supermarket, the fresh foods — dairy, meat, fish and produce — line the perimeter walls, while the imperishable packaged goods dominate the center.) Drewnowski found that a dollar could buy 1,200 calories of cookies or potato chips but only 250 calories of carrots. Looking for something to wash down those chips, he discovered that his dollar bought 875 calories of soda but only 170 calories of orange juice.

As a rule, processed foods are more “energy dense” than fresh foods: they contain less water and fiber but more added fat and sugar, which makes them both less filling and more fattening. These particular calories also happen to be the least healthful ones in the marketplace, which is why we call the foods that contain them “junk.” Drewnowski concluded that the rules of the food game in America are organized in such a way that if you are eating on a budget, the most rational economic strategy is to eat badly — and get fat.

This perverse state of affairs is not, as you might think, the inevitable result of the free market. Compared with a bunch of carrots, a package of Twinkies, to take one iconic processed foodlike substance as an example, is a highly complicated, high-tech piece of manufacture, involving no fewer than 39 ingredients, many themselves elaborately manufactured, as well as the packaging and a hefty marketing budget. So how can the supermarket possibly sell a pair of these synthetic cream-filled pseudocakes for less than a bunch of roots?

For the answer, you need look no farther than the farm bill. This resolutely unglamorous and head-hurtingly complicated piece of legislation, which comes around roughly every five years and is about to do so again, sets the rules for the American food system — indeed, to a considerable extent, for the world’s food system. Among other things, it determines which crops will be subsidized and which will not, and in the case of the carrot and the Twinkie, the farm bill as currently written offers a lot more support to the cake than to the root. Like most processed foods, the Twinkie is basically a clever arrangement of carbohydrates and fats teased out of corn, soybeans and wheat — three of the five commodity crops that the farm bill supports, to the tune of some $25 billion a year. (Rice and cotton are the others.) For the last several decades — indeed, for about as long as the American waistline has been ballooning — U.S. agricultural policy has been designed in such a way as to promote the overproduction of these five commodities, especially corn and soy.

The Consumer Crunch

The main fuel for the spending was easy access to credit. Banks and other financial institutions were willing to lend households ever increasing amounts of money. Any particular individual might default, but in the aggregate, loans to consumers were viewed as low-risk and profitable.

The subprime crisis, however, marks the beginning of the end for the long consumer borrow-and-buy boom. The financial sector, wrestling with hundreds of billions in losses, can no longer treat consumers as a safe bet. Already, standards for real estate lending have been raised, including those for jumbo mortgages for high-end houses. Credit cards are still widely available, but it may only be a matter of time before issuers get tougher.

What comes next could be scary—the largest pullback in consumer spending in decades, perhaps as much as $200 billion to $300 billion, or 2%-3% of personal income. Reduced access to credit will combine with falling real estate values to hit poor and rich alike. "We're in uncharted territory," says David Rosenberg, chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch (MER ), who's forecasting a mild drop in consumer spending in the first half of 2008. "It's pretty rare we go through such a pronounced tightening in credit standards."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Games that can educate: SimCity donated to OLPC project

Electronic Arts announced yesterday plans to donate the original version of the SimCity computer game to the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project so that it can be distributed to schoolchildren in developing countries on OLPC's XO laptop.

The original SimCity game, which won numerous awards and paved the way for an immensely successful franchise, transforms the player into the mayor of a virtual city. The simulation encourages cultivation of problem-solving skills and requires users to plan elaborate city infrastructure and respond to the needs of virtual citizens. The idea of including SimCity on the OLPC XO laptop was conceived by Electronic Frontier Foundation cofounder and OLPC advisor John Gilmore.

Aspect-oriented programming

AOP compliments OOP. It centers on cross-cutting concerns, or aspects - parts of code that are common to many different objects, of which logging is the canonical example. Using an AOP language (such as AspectJ) or libraries (such as Spring), programmers can code this functionality once and then define where to weave it into existing objects.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Open source networking -

Vyatta has changed the networking world by developing the first commercially supported, open-source router, firewall, VPN solution to provide an alternative to over-priced, inflexible products from proprietary vendors. Vyatta delivers the features, performance, and reliability of an enterprise-class secure router with the added benefits of flexible deployment options--x86 hardware, blade servers, virtualization-- freedom to integrate applications, and the economic advantages of commodity hardware and components.

Introduce new levels of economics, choice, and control into your network:

Economics: Save 50% or more over proprietary products! Leverage industry standard x86 servers and off-the-shelf components.

Choice: Simplify network deployment by running Vyatta on: Vyatta appliances, x86 hardware, server blades, or common virtualization platforms.

Control: Source code availability and community influence allow for faster feature integration and the freedom to build your own custom solutions.

On Demand Books LLC. is planning to become the first company to globally deploy a low cost, totally automatic book machine (The Espresso Book Machine), which can produce 15 - 20 library quality paperback books per hour, in any language, in quantities of one, without any human intervention. This technology and process will produce one each of ten different books at the same speed and cost as it can produce ten copies of the same book. ODB has two machines currently deployed (one at the World Bank InfoShop in Washington DC, and one at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt).

ODB is also finalizing technology to access a vast network of content that can be accessed and produced via The Espresso Book Machine Network. The content of this library will reside in numerous locations from a multitude of sources. Our system will accept multiple formats, and fully respect licenses and rights. and

NextBus uses Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking satellites to provide vehicle arrival information and real-time maps— not just bus schedules — to passengers and managers of public transit, shuttles, and trains.

Learn Programming Languages

Google Web Toolkit a Year Later: Was it the correct level of abstraction?

A little over a year ago, Ajaxian published an editorial entitled Google Web Toolkit: The correct level of abstraction? In it, Dion raised some important questions about GWT:

  • Isn't debugging generated Javascript going to be messy?
  • Wouldn't the large size of the generated Javascript make it's use infeasible?
  • Where is all of the cool stuff, like effects libraries, etc.?
  • Is generating "assembler" in Javascript really the right level of abstraction?

Now that a year has passed and people have had a chance to experiment and develop with GWT, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit these questions. I interviewed GWT practitioners Dr. Adam Tacy and Robert Hanson, who -- aside from working on commercial projects featuring GWT -- have just finish their first book on the subject, GWT in Action: Easy Ajax with the Google Web Toolkit. They were kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Monday, November 12, 2007

non-compete, intellectual property, prior art

First of all, the law is not nearly as clear-cut as geeky programmer types think it is. As a rule, the law is roughly speaking some mash-up of what the legislature wrote, what the judge thinks ought to be so, and what a jury of random folks majoring in theater and journalism at the local community college think it ought to be. Hence a good lawyer is probably not going to be able to give you an precise and definitive answer on all your what-if scenarios. Instead, he'll probably agree with you on general grounds that the contract is evil, vicious, and you are a noble person dreadfully wronged blah blah (this is just advertising, an appeal to your vanity, so you won't forget him when you someday need a lawyer). If you press him on specifics, the most he's likely to do is tell you roughly how he would argue the case against the contract if he needed to, but he's unlikely to guarantee it will work.

If you are involved in solving any problems creatively, and have to do any SOP work for the company in question:

1. Get a stamp, ( DATE: NAME: WITNESS, in boxes )
2. Get a notebook, and STAMP EVERY PAGE.
5. have a copy made, and send one to yourself, and one to the relative nearist you. Make sure you completely cover the entire package with clear tape.

Note: This is from the 'how to protect intellilectial property' book by Nolo press.

Dbdeploy - A Database Change Management tool


dbdeploy is a Database Change Management tool. It’s for developers or
DBAs who want to evolve their database design - or refactor their
database - in a simple, controlled, flexible and frequent manner.

The recurring problem with database development is that at some point
you’ll need to upgrade an existing database and preserve its content.
In development environments it’s often possible (even desirable) to
blow away the database and rebuild from scratch as often as the code
is rebuilt but this approach cannot be taken forward into more
controlled environments such as QA, UAT and Production.

Drawing from our experiences, we’ve found that one of the easiest ways
to allow people to change the database is by using version-controlled
SQL delta scripts. We’ve also found it beneficial to ensure that the
scripts used to build development environments are the exact same used
in QA, UAT and production. Maintaining and making use of these deltas can
quickly become a significant overhead - dbdeploy aims to address this.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Creating a RSS feed of an Exchange 2007 Mailbox Folder

Creating a RSS feed of an Exchange 2007 Mailbox Folder using Exchange Web Services C# and Powershell

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Best Server Storage Setup?

Firstly, decide on a decent motherboard and disk controller combo. CPU speed is basically irrelevant, however, you should pack each node with a good 2G+ of RAM. Make sure your motherboards have at least two 64bit/100Mhz PCI-X buses. I recommend (and use) Intel's single-CPU P4 "server" motherboards and 3ware disk controllers. I believe the Areca controllers are also quite good. You will have trouble on the AMD64 side finding decent "low end" motherboards to use (ie: single CPU boards with lots of I/O bandwidth). Do not skimp on the motherboards and controllers, as they are the single most important building blocks of your arrays.

Secondly, pick some disks. Price out the various available drives and compare their $/GB rates. There will be a sweet spot were you get the best ratio, probably around the 400G or 500G size these days.

Even though the 750GB Seagates appear to provide less bang-for-buck than smaller solutions (400GB, 300GB), the higher data storage density pays off in a big way. Cramming more data into a single box means amortizing the power/heat cost of the non-disk components better, and also allows you better utilization of your floorspace (which is going to become very important, if you really are looking to scale this into the multi-petabyte range).


Going Enterprise - setup your FC4 iSCSI target in 5 minutes

Setting Up an Inexpensive iSCSI Linux Cluster Using SLES10 and OCFS2

Setting Up An iSCSI Environment On Linux

CentOS / Red Hat Linux: Install and manage iSCSI Volume

Java: Linux’s New Best Friend?

The lack of ability to legally play Web-based multimedia content is probably one of the greatest obstacles to mass-adoption of desktop Linux.

Currently, Java isn’t used as the basis for displaying a lot of multimedia content on the Web, but that could very easily change, especially with a Java Virtual Machine re-write by the community to optimize it for multimedia content, and some tweaking of the Sun Java Web Start code. If the codecs ran under an open source JVM and could be licensed legally, a lot of the media problems would be solved. Audio and video codecs would download on-the-fly, and the JVM would handle all of the work required to set up the environment and play the content.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sinking Currency, Sinking Country

Have gold, silver, oil, the euro, the pound and the Canadian dollar all suddenly soared in value in just a few years?

Nope. The dollar has plummeted in value, more so in Bush’s term than during any comparable period of U.S. history. Indeed, Bush is presiding over a worldwide abandonment of the American dollar.

Is it all Bush’s fault? Nope.

The dollar is plunging because America has been living beyond her means, borrowing $2 billion a day from foreign nations to maintain her standard of living and to sustain the American Imperium.

The prime suspect in the death of the dollar is the massive trade deficits America has run up, some $5 trillion in total since the passage of NAFTA and the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1994.

In 2006, that U.S. trade deficit hit $764 billion. The current account deficit, which includes the trade deficit, plus the net outflow of interest, dividends, capital gains and foreign aid, hit $857 billion, 6.5 percent of GDP. As some of us have been writing for years, such deficits are unsustainable and must lead to a decline of the dollar.

A sinking dollar means a poorer nation, and a sinking currency has historically been the mark of a sinking country. And a superpower with a sinking currency is a contradiction in terms.

What does this mean for America and Americans?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

To avoid the Big C, stay small

EVERY day there are new stories in the tabloids about the latest link, sometimes tenuous, sometimes contradictory, between cancer and some aspect of lifestyle. If this is a recipe for confusion, then the antidote is probably a weighty new tome from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF). It is the most rigorous study so far on the links between food, physical activity and cancer—and sets out the important sources of risk.

Given the rising costs of dealing with cancer alone—in America this is more than $100 billion a year—prevention and early detection look set to take off.

Poverty Inspires Technology Workers to Altruism

Babajob seeks to bring the social-networking revolution popularized by Facebook and MySpace to people who do not even have computers — the world’s poor. And the start-up is just one example of an unanticipated byproduct of the outsourcing boom: many of the hundreds of multinationals and hundreds of thousands of technology workers who are working here are turning their talents to fighting the grinding poverty that surrounds them.

Prisoners of Debt

A fresh start with bankruptcy? Big lenders keep squeezing money out of consumers whose debts were canceled by the courts

Rising Food Prices and What That Means-Becker

Most of these policies are counterproductive because they discourage rather than encourage food production. This is especially true of price controls since farmers will grow less of the foods that have artificially low price ceilings. For example, if price controls were placed on wheat, farmers will shift some land from wheat to other products whose prices are allowed to rise faster.