December 20, 2010

Electron Monger Ants

It never occurred to me when ants were found in my roommate's laptop occasionally, that these little creatures have an attraction to electrical equipments.

Now I am facing issues with ants covering up my laptop charger node, even if there is no supply.
Also, some of the days I find ants crawling beneath my laptop, and going inside the case. These occurrences were too many that I finally decided to Google search this phenomenon.

After a couple of unsuccessful keywords, I got the answer from Wiki answers and Yahoo Answers that indeed some variety of ants are attracted to source of electricity. But it is in fact the magnetic fields surrounding these equipments that somehow simulate them.

The wiring in my building is not even earthed properly, so all devices connected to the power supply continuously emanate an AC charge, attracting huge crowds of ants to these power outlets, even when the plugs are switched off.

Now, I have no other go than cleaning up all devices before connecting to my laptop and regularly warding off the hordes of ants from my room. Sheesh, what a mess.

December 04, 2010

To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade

Nowadays Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux Distros out there. It provides all kinds of features that Windows and Mac provide , free of cost. And, compared to other distros and early generation Linux, Ubuntu has taken the concept of hassle free OS to a new level.

They are forever catching up with the latest in technology and new designs by having a very fast and reliable release cycle of 6 months. That means, every 6 months, you get a newer version of Ubuntu, boasting new and improved features, UI and bug fixes. Exciting , isn’t it.

Unfortunately that also means that you might have to do a distro upgrade operation every 6 months or so. For some users, this can be very troublesome as they would have already installed a whole lots of apps and packages. For this reason, many users don’t opt for this change. But what if you desperately need that latest feature or compatibility woes trouble you in your current distro? Then you are forced to make that move.

There are two ways to make that upgrade. If you have good internet connection , you can opt to upgrade your distribution directly, without harming your data files. Another option is to buy/order or download a fresh iso image of the latest Ubuntu and install OVER your current installation. The latter is time consuming especially to restore your installed apps manually. But the former too is not such a great idea as per my personal experience.

Being Ubuntu, you would be having APT ( Advanced Packaging Tool ) installed in your machine. Use
apt-get dist-upgrade
to directly initiate the upgradation to a higher version of OS ( if available). Last time I did this, many of my application configurations got corrupted and crashed. There were some known dependency issues between consecutive versions, which are not visible to the user while initiating the upgrade. At the end, I had to opt for a fresh install. You can try out this for yourself. If it works fine, then its good. Else, read on.

If you want to do a fresh install , then there are a couple of steps to save your currently installed app list ( because remembering, choosing and installing them is the toughest phase ) to a file and automatically reinstall the same list after a fresh OS install. The following are the steps for it:

1) dpkg --get-selections > ./backup.log
2) Save the file to some other device
3) Do a fresh install of latest version of OS
4) dpkg –-set-selections < ./backup.log
5) dselect
6) Use “i” to install all the apps

November 20, 2010

Going through google labs...

I was just going through Google Labs looking out for any new additions in it.

I tried out the Image Swirl feature which is quite old now,but would be nice if implemented in the main Google Image search.

The next one which caught my attention was Indic Music Search which allows you to search and play Indian movie songs(currently only Hindi is supported) online. This again was released some time back,but I never remembered to actually try it out, until now.

There were loads of great looking apps,but all were for android, and as I don't own any android devices or haven't started developing in it, I skipped them. But the apps were innovative and made me wish I had an android phone to try it out. One of them is Google Goggles, which allows you to search using photos captured in your phone camera. It is available for IPhone4 and Android.It seemed quite similar to my classmate at MEC , Sandeep's academic project.

Afterwards, all the apps were quite old, heard of, or boring in nature. I just tried out one, named People Hopper, which basically is an app which shows the transformation path between the profile pics of any two friends, through your Orkut Account. It will be added as an app to your profile and you can drag and drop your friends (any 2 including urself) and the app will calculate and show the transformations that convert one photo to match the other. It was quite crappy for the pics I tried and looked surreal. Anyway nice concept..someone might believe its actually accurate.

Thats it for time being..will be back with more updates on my view of this myriad world of technologies..

November 09, 2010

Saving All Tabs in Firefox

Often while reading technical articles and solutions, we might end up opening lots of tabs.

Now, having lots of tabs open has its own downside , like slow loading.But a bigger problem is losing all these tabs data if your browser crashes for some reason( chances of crashing increase with increasing tab count and contents).

These tabs are not exactly 'Bookmarks', as in you don't want to bookmark all these sites forever, as they might only be for temporary reference. And you don't want to save one-by-one.
Instead, there is a nifty option in Firefox to save all tabs as bookmarks at one shot. Pressing ctrl+shift+D will prompt you to enter a bookmark location and folder name under which all your currently open tabs will be saved as bookmarks.

But I didn't find a way to load all these tabs back at once if required.

So I am still looking for a solution to this problem of mine. The TabSaver extension of Firefox also seems to address similar problems.

Will check it out and update back here.

In mean time if anyone has any suggestions/solutions, please add in comment.

September 08, 2010

Google Instant

So, its out.

Google releases a major change to the UI after the autocomplete and spell-suggest addons, which is called Google Instant. It supposedly borrows its name from the Instant Coffee ,which is quite popular in the corporate world and Instant Noodles, which is very popular in Japan and among couch potatoes/geeks/kids. Google's innovations are also like these - Fresh, fun-filled and utilitarian.

With the release of this change, you don't need to press the Search Button for any of your queries any more. Google will search while you type by combining an old technique called 'Incremental Search' designed by an engineer Amit Patel, and Google's now popular Autocomplete feature. When you start typing itself, Google predicts a list of possible queries and in addition, brings you the results of the top ranked query among that.

Its kinda weird after all these years of conventional search that we have been doing. But it helps out a lot when you are not so sure about the query that you need to give in , to get to the data you want. You can straight-away decide whether you need to type the whole story , or just the first few words are enough. This definitely is an improvement, and not a revolution, because all it does is add to the overall user experience and reduce search time.

I was just watching the Live Streaming of its release and talk by the famous Marissa Mayer (VP of Search ,Google) and the product managers and technical leads behind this quirky innovation, that is Google Instant. They showed some really cool search examples in the video, and I was excited to watch it all. But a tweeple friend of my Chetan Gole also tweeted out the additional capability of Google Instant to be morally conscious. It won't support any kind of swear words or profanities in its predictive real time searches. Wow!!

Currently, this feature is released on in the US version of the page, and will be rolled out for signed in users in other versions like Spain,Russia,UK, France and Italy. It will be available on the IE8,Firefox, Safari and of course Chrome.So keep your eyes peeled out for its release to Indian version and the default search page of your browser as well.

The new age of search is here...

September 02, 2010

Revisiting the wave

I was reminded of the Google service called 'Wave' when I saw the article: Joined the wave.
So I just went over there to see whether it looks any different from what it used to be. I had read some tweets and news about Google discontinuing the development on wave ,some time back.So, I wasn't really expecting anything above the slow and unresponsive windows and cluttered boxes which is my memory of Google Wave.

Though the activities and presence (or lack of) of online contacts in wave supported by expectations, the interface and its responsiveness looked better than it used to. Maybe if, initially itself, they had released it the way it is now, it wouldn't have had this sudden death. Considering the hype that surrounded it during its beta release time, it has been a real nail in the coffin for the internet giant, that is Google. With this and some more failures and partially successful ventures, Google has been gaining on the negative opinions scale, competing with the likes of Microsoft and Facebook.

Coming back to wave, the thing that caught my attention was the 6 boxes under "Start a New Wave", namely 'Blank Wave','Discussion','Task Tracking','Meeting','Document' and 'Brainstorming'. As there weren't any contacts online, I was not interested in any of these, except 'Task tracking' and 'Brainstorming'.

But, each of them turned out be something like a custom template from Google Docs.Brainstorming had this extra feature of flash component that allows drawing. So, for collaborative brainstorming, this might have been a good tool. I liked that.

Speaking of the task tracker, I being a person of low brain retentivity, tend to use task trackers and notes extensively. And hence, I find such tools very useful and amusing. Here also, the availability, of categorization of tasks based on priority caught my attention. Apart from that, it is not interesting at all. I would any day prefer a proper task planner software on my desktop, or for that matter, even gmail's task list over this.

Overall, I felt good that Google stopped wasting time on this. Maybe they will enhance something else worth using. It was rightly discontinued, as it is a big failure from Google. So waving goodbye to Google Wave again..adios

Echofon breaks in Linux

One fine day,when I logged onto my Ubuntu, and started firefox, I got a message box with no contents in it other than an OK button with the message box title reading 'Echofon'. As I couldn't figure out what was causing this error, I executed Firefox from the terminal in background mode. The error message that was printed on the terminal is :
"Can't get OAuth signer. Use Basic Auth instead. / Cc[';1']"

I googled this, and came to Echofon for Firefox, where many people have put their comments that Echofon is broken for Linux or has been discontinued for Linux from version onwards.

Mine was that version, and so as per the suggestions in that page, I reverted back to version,and voila echofon is working fine.

Morever I saw that Twitter has sent me a mail regarding discontinuation of basic authentication and enforcement of "OAuth" authenatication method. This might prove useful in centrally controlling all applications which have access to twitter timeline.

But the news of rolling out of "" url wrapping doesn't sound so good, in spite of their claims of providing protection from potentially malicious website and reducing obscurity in URLs provided over twitter.

With this in place, I wonder what would happen to services like which provide realtime analytics for such shortened links. Anyway it will be deployed in a beta mode in a couple of weeks, and made mandatory by end of the year. So, have to wait and see what happens, and how tweeples react to these new regulations and rules in twitter,.

June 30, 2010

VLC 1.1 Crash on PC Lock

I noticed that my latest vlc(1.1) installed on Windows XP SP2 crashes whenever I lock the pc (win+L or auto-lock). This seems to be a known bug when I searched the net.

Hope they will fix this soon. I am fed up of this bug as I listen to long list of songs while at work, and hate to fill it up again due to the crash.

June 22, 2010

VLC 1.1 is here

The new and improved VLC 1.1 is here. Check out


April 10, 2010

Importance of Logs and History

Something that is very important for administration of large systems and databases are logs.
Logs in the sense, log files as well as log of all transactions by maintaining history tables, in case of databases.

Why is it that logs are so important?

From the point of view of administrator of DB or any system, various logs allow him/her to monitor parameters, activities etc and trace back reasons for any errors/malicious activities.It also keeps the administrator safe from accusations, as he would have immediate proof of all activities.

In case of DBs, it helps capture historic data either for analysis at a later stage, or for the same reasons as mentioned above. It also gives indications when and why your application/system behave in ways it was not meant to.

It is an excellent guide for debugging, and sometimes the only resource in your disposal to identify and correct major issues. If you don't have a robust logging mechanism in place when disaster befalls your crucial data, you better start looking for a new job( or even worse ).

How and what to log

Now, w.r.t a system related more to users,files and devices, logs must be present to capture login, file related and device related data. All major changes to any of these must be recorded for maximum debugging and recovery ability. A standard Unix server which hosts files for multiple users and allows access to multiple devices is a an ideal place to learn about good administrative practices and policies. There will always be a competent administrator behind every well-administered Unix system.

But in case of Windows servers, I won't say that much. The minimal administrative tasks that are configurable will certainly allow the administrator to handle 80-90% of the scenarios smoothly. But for the remaining 10% , a call to Microsoft tech support might be required, which might only be 50% successful in resolving the issue. But they will 90% of the time be successful in closing the request you raise, irrespective of whether they solved your problem or not. Anyway, lets not stray from the topic( I just couldn't resist ).

In a production database handling millions of records with 100+ columns on an average in each table, database designers end up loading a huge amount of logic flows. In this scenario,if any one of these flows end up being wrong, and data has already gone into the DB, it is a hellish task to restore it without substantial downtime. This is where logging and history tables come into the picture.

There are many things that need logging which are dependent upon the business logic of the database. Excluding that, the other things that require logging are DB usage details, abnormal disk/memory usages, logins, transactions etc. Most of the databases have system tables to record almost all these information. But sometimes, the designer/administrator will have to incorporate additional logging tables to record some indirectly available data.

History tables are an excellent tool for debugging and analysis. But,they take up lots of disk space. Sometimes, it is acceptable to archive or purge historical data. In that case, regular maintenance tasks can be scheduled to trim the history tables. But in cases where data is required, we might have to think of extra storage facilities or mechanisms to automatically archive and restore data. Those solutions do have their own processing requirements and hence provide extra overhead, but sometimes are the only solutions suited to the business need.

So, whenever you design a database for transactions involving lots of data, design a robust history logging mechanism as well. You will not regret this decision. It helps in validating logic changes to procedures, migration packages, schema changes etc.

As an administrator or designer of either Operating systems, Web Servers or Databases , it is a very good policy to maintain proper logs/history tables and utilize them effectively to get the required information out of complex systems, and make your life easier. Don't end up giving yourself a nervous breakdown ;)

March 19, 2010

Now, That is Rude!

This is an error message I received for a mail I sent with a mistyped address.

Now thats really personal to say things like that.
The 'Mail Delivery Agent' even apologises that   'he' was not able to deliver my message.
But stating that he doesn't like my recipient IS rude. :D :D

I wonder what all such agents would end up doing if they showed their own tastes and preferences.

Happy Hacking

March 17, 2010

Script Design component of SSIS missing

If you have installed Visual Studio 2005 alongwith 2008 version and are working on SSIS Script Components or Script Tasks, then you will find that clicking on Design Script button on the component will give an error "Cannot show visual studio for application editor".

The solution is this is to either remove Visual Studio 2008 or install SQL Server 2005 SP3 edition. In my personal laptop, I did both as I didn't need Visual Studio 2008. But in case, you need both IDEs, you can install SP3 and fix the issue for good. It worked for me.


March 16, 2010

One day of work

Phew,today I decided to get into my development environment in Windows 7 and fix it up for good.

SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition, which I had installed previously had issues with the SQL instances. I ran 'services.msc' to find that SQLExpress was not running. I tried reinstalling SQL Server a couple of times from the CD, before realizing that it did not include SQLExpress server.

I then had to download it from the Microsoft Website and install it. Before installing it, I removed my existing installation of Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2005 as well. It must be noted that for Windows7, it is mandatory to install SP3 of all SQL Server components. So, I did that and finally(by afternoon), got it running.

Next issue was with SSIS itself. Through some googling, I got to know about derived transformations and lookups. I just managed to finish up a partial setup of my required workflow, a few minutes ago. Rest of it, I have to continue from office, after some discussion with my senior. Some alternative solutions exist for it. Btw I will briefly explain the required workflow here. It might be pretty easy for those used to SSIS, but as a fresher it was pretty tough for me.

An excel file contains about 5 workbooks, each to be migrated to corresponding SQL tables, with additional fields of IDs,Creation/Modification Timestamps and By info. Also, to be implemented is a history mechanism, which just means that whenever a field in excel file is modified, the package must detect the change, and update the table with changed data, and insert that info into the history table. This needs that every update to transaction table be clubbed with an insert to history table. I am clear with the requirement,but neither the workflow design nor which transformations can help me achieve these.

Lets see...btw here is a screenshot of the workflow designed so far

March 08, 2010

SQL Server 2005 on 64 bit

To properly run SQL Server 2005 on a 64 bit (Windows 7 in my case), you have additionally install the SQL Server 2005 SP3 patch.
It seems due to that, I had issues previously on trying to run the Server Management Studio.
Now trying it out!

-via mail

February 18, 2010

Geo-Localized Tweets Apt for Criminals

Image from
Please-Rob-MeThere are lots of geo-location based services out there now, like Foursquare and Buzz.
These allow you to tell the world where you are currently in addition to other info like what you are upto.

It is definitely fun and sometimes comes in handy for people who travel.

But if you are prone to put sensitive information on your whereabouts on the internet, do think twice. Because sites like Please Rob Me have come up, that allow a person's public tweet/buzz/location updates to be filtered and indexed. It will tell a potential criminal whether you would be available at your home for the weekend or not, making the information gathering an easier task for him/her. The site is actually meant to show the users how much vulnerable they are.

Its not very common in India for a criminal to be considered tech-savvy, so Indians might find it a trivial matter. But irrespective of location,criminals( successful and ambitious ones ) have been found to be one or two steps ahead of the society's expectations off them. So, next time when you post something, just give a thought whether it will put you or someone close to you in danger in real life. Its better to be safe than sorry.

In a related story,a person hacked through the authentication system of Foursquare, the popular geo-location service,and exploited all its benefits. Read his confessions here

February 16, 2010

Flat Curves

There was a beautiful talk by Stefan Sagmeister on TED, on three phases of your career- Learning phase,Working Phase and then Retirement.
He mentioned that the learning phase occurs till around 25 years of age,but as it is, I am already working and nowhere near 25. So, am I in learning or working phase??

I would say partially in-partially out, of both the phases. I ain't learning much to talk about,but learning enough to explore day-to-day work. And I ain't working much to create stuff that would blow away minds,but working enough to get more stuff to learn ,while earning of course.

With respect to my learning curve, it is a 'relatively' flat phase. I meant that w.r.t technical stuff only,otherwise it is one-helluva learning experience going on.

Technically, now I am more into managing large pieces of code, doing proper impact analysis on bug fixes and new features and, of course implementing them.
The technologies I am involved with are the bit outdated, Microsoft ones, like IIS 7.0, .NET 2.0 framework with and I have been doing some nifty new features with Office automation and Visual Source Safe libraries.

The main involvement is with SQL Server 2005, with its Reporting,Analysis and Integration Services plus linked servers,scheduled jobs etc etc. It is a thoroughly enjoyable job to work with complicated SPs,functions and services.

On the sidelines, I manage to put some effort into COM based communications, tcp/ip related issues, kernel concepts and of course, my favourite, network hacking! The methods for these vary from simple casual talk to brainstorming sessions with colleagues who might be like-minded or have issues in these fields.

Will put up something on these topics in coming days.. in the meantime, I am open for discussion
Follow me on Twitter,or put comments in this blog.

February 06, 2010

Testing Email Posting

This is my test for email posting. If this comes fine, I will be able to update my blogs from office as well.

Microsoft Beta

Oh well, I thought I would just write about some of the new Microsoft products I have been trying.

From my old setup of Windows XP age, I have now moved to Windows 7, thanks to my new laptop. So, along with the new OS, I had to shift my preferences of a few other software as well. Though I haven't ventured out much to acquire the 'best' tools out there, I do have made changes where I required it. I don't fancy downloading and testing all the software out there.

So, this time I decided to get myself the new Office 2010 Beta version. I thought it would be cool to try. I got this idea while attending a training session on .NET 4.0 at office. When you need something and its freely available out there, why hesitate?

Over the past 3 days, I finally finished downloading the following:
1) Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition
2) MS SQL Server and Studio Enterprise Edition
3) MS Office 2010 Beta
4) Visual Studio 2010 Toolkits(Azure and Silverlight)

I installed the first 3 and I would like to consider only Office here.

I had not read any reviews/previews before installing,so I had expected more eye-catching stuff. I must admit that I was disappointed to see the new layout. I loved that circular button. Not many interesting changes were registered at first sight.

I had to run Excel 2-3 times to observe some of the new cool features in it. It definitely boosts ease of use. I liked the additions in Powerpoint also. Word looks very much the same though. And this time, I even tried out something I have never used before--Outlook. And that turned to be a waste of my time. I couldn't get to like it,when compared to Gmail interface. But, on any given day, I would prefer Outlook to Lotus Notes used at Office.
The beta testing is still in progress, so I might write another post if I find really good stuff.

Now I am more interested in looking for Windows 7 tweaks and combining my Linux and Windows development environments.

January 31, 2010

Compatibility Woes

My laptop came with a Windows 7. So far I liked it for its visual effects. But now, as I started downloading games and applications, win 7 gives me headaches. Most of the older applications,especially the games refuse to work with this version.

I downloaded around 10gb of content, just to be put aside as they won't start at all.I even tried quite a bit of googling. But it didn't give much useful info. The OS being 64bit also hurts some applications badly.
Anyway,I found out that patches are coming up for many apps which might fix the compatibility issues. So, i just have to wait and download them when they are available.

If those woes hadn't come up,I might now be stuck up with some game. Instead, I am blogging and listening to some good ol' strings. Anyway I am off to download more development and networking tools,hoping they are not affected seriously by the compatibility issues.

January 22, 2010


Firefox 3.6 is out and it comes with a new feature called "Personas". Its an awesome feature with which you can make your firefox more personal than it used to be.

I am loving it. Wish I could do that in my office pc as well..sigh..

There is a bundle of cool personas to choose from at Personas


January 13, 2010

Phone purchase

I had mentioned in my other blog that I had bought a new phone.It was done after I did some extensive search online.
Mobile is one field where finding the accurate information that is relevant,is difficult. I had gone through countless forums comparing models,technologies etc. Also there were many portals involved. Some of them were pure crap,and some were exceptionally useful.

One among them is this site called Consumer Mate. They provide solutions for four categories:Laptops, Mobile, Cameras and LCD/Plasma. The very home page seems different from the other sites you get to see out there. It has options to let us select various features that we expect,using sliders and checkboxes( far more user-friendly than drop down lists ) for the mobile phone prices.

That helped me play with the options I wanted. The search threw up quite a number of respectable models. The review and information I got for each model was pretty satisfactory. This is not the case with most of the other sites where information is only partial or half-cooked :)

They also provide an online store facility. That would make it easy for someone to buy immediately. I was fairly impressed by their overall design and layout. But the most interesting business strategy they have adopted is the ASK US section. You can post your queries or purchase interest in that and you get a call from a local vendor within two days. I filled it up for fun and got a call from a dealer here. Now that is quite some business model.
Though I went for a Nokia phone,a friend of mine who lost his Samsung phone to "Tea-logging" went for a brand new one from this site. His comments about the prompt service reminded me to blog about this. The site mentions they provide the best deals for Samsung mobile phones in India

I found it good for laptop prices and reviews as well..
Check out and see how good it is for you.

January 08, 2010

Framework Corruption

"BC32400: Class 'CLSID_CorSymWriter' could not be created: Access is denied."

This is the error we get while trying to run our .NET application.
The application is a website running on MS SQL Server DB. It runs a host of windows services like MS Excel and MS Project.
This error has been occurring since yesterday evening 7 pm and so far a lot of diagnostics have gone into it,with us doing overtime late into night :)

As far as obtained from the internet, the .net framework requires reinstallation. Based on logs,we have been able to find the service which might have caused a registry corruption leading to this.
We have already run various tests and diagnostics to isolate and fix the issue without opting for tough solutions like re-formatting.

After spending many hours in front of our server in the closed and otherwise inaccessible server room, the decision has been taken to format the server. This is due to application's criticality to the day-to-day working of the organization.
But I have asked the team to record all logs and keep for further study. Hopefully we can make a learning out of it for future cases.