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

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Types of Testing

-=[ Black-box Testing ]=-

Black-box testing refers to the testing of a system or component without knowledge of the internal structure. This can be as simple as performing a button click and waiting for a dialog box.

Also known as: Behavioral testing, Functional testing, Opaque-box testing, Closed-box testing

Advantages: Low cost
Disadvantages: Doesn’t find many bugs

-=[ White-box Testing ]=-

White-box testing refers to using the source code for testing the system or component. Although there are several different methods to perform white-box testing, this can be performed by using a debugger and stepping through code.

Also known as: Structural testing, Glass-box testing, Clear-box testing

Advantages: Finds a larger number of bugs
Disadvantages: Increases cost and time required for testing

-=[ Grey-box Testing ]=-

Grey-box testing tries to find a middle ground between black-box testing and white-box testing by giving testers just enough visibility into the system to perform testing. In many systems this form of testing is incorporated by performing an action and checking for the updated value in the database.

Also known as: Translucent-box testing

Advantages: Achieves a good balance between quality and cost
Disadvantages: You tell me!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

eSATA goes power-cable-less

The Serial ATA international organization is working toward a new specification that will do away with a separate cable for power and instead deliver power over the eSATA cable. This ought to reduce the advantage that some USB and FireWire disks have on convenience. SATA 3.0 (3000 Mbps) still does better on speed than USB 2.0 and FireWire 800, though USB 3.0 (4800 Mbps) and FireWire 3200 (3144 Mbps) would catch up soon.

Note: USB 2.0 works at 480 Mbps and FireWire 800 works at 786 Mbps.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

MS Office 2008 for Mac

Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac was released on the 15th January 2008. It seeks to replace Office 2004. With support for the MS Office Open XML format, it can work with the Office 2007 file formats however it doesn't support VBA macros.

You can get more information about it along with a demonstration video at:

George Bush visits Dubai

George Bush visited Dubai on Monday (14th January 2008). The parts of the city he was visited was entirely shut down. This includes the I.T. and media firms located at the Dubai Internet City and the Dubai Media City because they fall along the road between Abu Dhabi and Dubai (since President Bush was arriving from Abu Dhabi).

You can find pictures of his visit at:

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Alienware Crysis Curved Monitor

With monitors getting larger and cheaper every year, Alienware has introduced the best thing yet since flat screen displays - it's a curved screen! The display surrounds the user with almost 4 subpanels that fit together almost seamlessly in one large package. It runs at the 2880*300 resolution, which is not common yet.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Oracle 11g Web SQL client

Oracle 11g does not provide the iSQLPlus interface or the GUI SQL*Plus client (sqlplusw). Instead, it provides SQL Developer and APEX (Application Express).

To get a web interface for typing in SQL and getting the results, you can use the Oracle Enterprise Manager (OEM) web interface, accessible at: https://localhost:1158/em (assuming you've got Oracle installed on your computer).

To log into the OEM web interface, you need to have the SELECT ANY DICTIONARY privilege (or you can use the SYSTEM account :-P ). When you're logged in, click on the Data Movement 'tab' and click the SQL Worksheet link (under the related links section). You'll now have the iSQLPlus-like interface for executing SQL queries.

EDIT: If you're using Quest SQL Navigator, you will need version 5.5.4 or later to work with Oracle 11g; this version also supports Microsoft Windows Vista.

The End for Netscape Navigator

Netscape has announced the end of development on the Netscape web browser with the last of the patches being available till 1st February 2008.

After the acquisition of Netscape by AOL, development branched off to form the open-source Mozilla foundation leaving Netscape to be a little more than Mozilla with skins and extensions. Finally, the retirement of the Netscape browser has been announced, leaving Mozilla to continue development on the browser.

Happy New Year

I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year with many more blog articles coming up on .NET, Java and technology in general. Looking forward to much better times ahead.