Thursday, April 10, 2008

Another new beginning

I'd like to finally put the concluding words on this blog. It's been a long journey and all good things must come to an end. This wasn't my first and certainly not my last tech. blog. After a couple of weeks away from blogging, I'm pretty sure you'll see me soon working on an exciting new blog bringing the rest of the tech world closer to you.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

SQL Cache Dependencies

I did some reading on SQL Cache dependency with ASP.NET and it seems to be a really cool feature. I've implemented a cache over the data access layer before, but had to code in cache expiry on each update. It was a painful and time-consuming process. I heard about SQL Server Notification services at the time but since we were using Oracle, we were on a different boat. SQL Cache dependency works in one of two modes - either by notification (using the non-Express versions of SQL Server 2005) or by polling (works with all versions of SQL Server 2005). For a walk-through of an implementation of SQL Cache Dependency, check out the article at:

Saturday, April 5, 2008

CS 1.6 RO servers kick laggers

I installed Counter Strike 1.6 yesterday. It's been years since I last played the game. I was surprised to find a lot of servers, most of them from Romania. I did have a problem playing on those servers though, because the automatically kick me out after a couple of seconds for having a latency of over 150ms (some allow upto 200ms). I find nothing wrong with the game when playing with 200ms to 400ms lag, but I guess it may slow down the server. It was fun for the few rounds that I played, but I guess I'll be moving to Counter Strike Source shortly for want of better graphics.

AOE 3 display problems

I'm not sure if the guys at Microsoft didn't any testing with Age of Empires III, because both the notebook computers that I've tested it with had display problems. I think I had to install the update to 1.12 for it to work correctly.

The last time I installed it, the game slowed down when rendering smoke, so I couldn't play any of the battles at sea or play with the cannons. I hope it works better now that I've got better hardware.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

MOSS 2007

I've been checking out the Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server (MOSS) 2007 and it seems to be quite cool for document storage needs and for creating a Wiki.

It can also be used by power users to create simple applications for meeting short, temporary requirements such as keeping track of volunteer assignments, recording contributions by donors etc. MOSS can be extended with .NET and several applications have been developed over MOSS to reap the benefits of the search engine, content management and security. You can check out to see a completely skinned MOSS site.

Microsoft also offers the Fantastic 40 site templates, which are like pre-built applications using Sharepoint.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sud-less Web Services

Remember the no-more-tears baby shampoo? This article is actually the equivalent for web services in ASP.NET. Standard ASP.NET web services convert their return types into SOAP objects thus making them a bit painful for developers from other platforms to work with. To go the way of the crowd making the paradigm shift toward RESTful interfaces, you can get your web services to return plain ol' XML by simply specifying the return type of your method to an XmlDocument. I know, it seems like that little trick you were always looking for. Now, the next part of it is to enable the Get protocol for the web services which is easily added to the webServices-protocols section of the web.config file using Visual Studio Intellisense.

And there you go - you can now code regular RESTful web services in ASP.NET. The downside is that you have to manually build an XmlDocument object in each method but that's easily abstracted by writing a couple of helper classes.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Voice Captcha beats humans too

The voice Captcha (called the "audio challenge") used by Twitter obfuscates the confirmation code so well that humans can't figure it out either. The voice Captcha system is an alternative to the visual Captcha (the "visual challenge") but it is pointless if an average human being is unable to recognize the eight digits and enter them into the provided text box.

Instead of trying to obfuscate a phrase or a number, why don't we just get the user to answer a couple of simple logic questions such as "Who was president of the USA in 1999?" or "What color is a cricket ball?". Sure, someone would develop natural language processing systems to identify words such as president-USA-1999 and color-cricketball, but with carefully selected questions, it would be indeed very difficult.

So, tell me, human... "If A is greater than B, and B is less than C, which is the smallest?"

Captcha stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart