Showing posts from 2006

Google web toolkit now completely open source

Google announced that as of today its GWT (Google web toolkit) is available under Apache 2.0 license. GWT, incase you didnt know is a java to javascript compiler which can churn out intelligent cross-browser compatible javascript code from pure java code. Switching from javascript to GWT has a bit of learning curve, but its completely possible that it will overtake most if not all the other Javascript toolkits out there. My biggest pain point while working with other javascript based toolkits was detecting compile-time errors and debugging runtime errors. And in long run, I expect browser compatibility issues taking up significant development time to keep up with the various browsers out there. GWT like most other toolkits keeps its core code seperate from users javascript, and thus can take away some of the long term maintainance issues. But since GWT is supported by google, there is a bigger chance that this one will stay in the market much longer than others out there. While most

"101 Top 10 lists", because I hate "Top 10" lists

Most of the "Top 10 lists" come under the catagory of things which can't be believed or ignored. To begin with, these are personal, regional, professional or age/gender based recommendations which can and do change from one set of people to another. And the fact that "Top 10" means there are more contending for the higher spot, these lists get outdated almost as soon as they make it to a web page. Now here is a list of 101 "Top 10" lists put together which seemed to attract my attention. Notices that the list is in alphabetical order and that the author doesn't really say that this is the "Top 101" either. I'm not surprised that there were so many "Top 10" lists, but am a little curious who will come up with the "Top 1001" next time.

Zamzar - Free online file conversion

This is a cool idea for a website. Convert almost any popular file format into another one. The name Zamzar probably means that all other words in the dictionary is taken, but what it does is truly remarkable. Not because its is difficult to do, but because no one thought about it before.

Design to fail

Last night I went to an SDForum talk by two eBay architects Randy Shoup and Dan Pritchett on how they built, scaled and run their operation. The talk didn't have anything substantially different from what I've heard before, but was still impressive because they were applying some of the common thinking to their operations which runs over 15000 servers any given time. [ Slides ] Here are a few interesting phrases I took away from the talk. Scale out not up : Scaling up is not only expensive, it will also become impossible beyond a certain technical limitation. Scaling out, however is cheaper and practical. Design to fail : Every QA team I know, do a whole batch of tests to make sure all components work as they should. Rarely have I seen a team which also does testing to see whether the servers stay up if certain parts of the application fail. If you can't split it, you can't scale it : Ebay realized early on that anything which cannot be split into smaller components

The Java+linux OS

This will be an interesting trend to follow. This linux+perl distribution is made up of just linux kernel and perl binaries. Rest of the tools are all written in perl shell scripts. Miguel de Icaza , the creator of mono is looking for folks to do the same with mono. I think its a great experiment and will help validate mono as a practical alternative to other frameworks/languages on linux. But what will be even cooler (for me atleast) is if someone can create a true Object oriented shell experience like Microsoft's powershell/monad . And incase you didn't know, Powershell/Monad is the new shell by Microsoft using .net framework. It will probably replace cmd sometime in the future. That being said, it doesn't really have to be mono. Java is a perfect candidate for it as well. There was a java project related to a java based shell which I don't think is active anymore... may be someone can revive it. Can it be done ?

JSON: Breaking the same-server-policy Ajax barrier

The same origin policy prevents document or script loaded from one origin from getting or setting properties ( XMLHttpRequest ) of a document from a different origin. The policy dates from Netscape Navigator 2.0. This is a very important security restriction which disables rogue third-party javascripts from getting information from your authenticated banking server session. Unfortunately, this also almost completely shuts down any possibility of data sharing between multiple servers. Note the use of the word "almost", because "JSON" is the new Saviour of web2.0 world. JSON or Javascript Object Notation , is nothing but a simple data interchange format which can be easily used by javascript applications. Whats different here is that unlike XMLHttpRequest which can send back answers in any format the javascript application wants, JSON requires the answers to be in JSON format, which is basically a subset of Javascript Programming language , or to be more spec

Ajax/Web debugging with Firebug

I've been using Firefox for a long time, and have always had Web developer plugin by my side for those miserable days. This tool which can save your ass at a time when you really need to understand what the heck your Ajax code is up to. A couple of days ago I came across another such tool called  Firebug . All I have to say is that I was completely blown away by its intutive debugging style Cleaning up my messy Ajax generated code could have been a lot worse if this guy wasn't around. Here is a quick feature list * JavaScript debugger for stepping through code one line at a time * Status bar icon shows you when there is an error in a web page * A console that shows errors from JavaScript and CSS * Log messages from JavaScript in your web page to the console (bye bye "alert debugging") * An JavaScript command line (no more "javascript:" in the URL bar) * Spy on XMLHttpRequest traffic * Inspect HTML source, computed style, events, layout and the DOM

Thanksgiving updates

I played around with two interesting javascript toolkits which help you make rounded-corners in your html pages without using images. Rico and Trancorners . DD-WRT is a opensourced kernel for Broadcom based wireless routers . During my work using CSS I found some interesing CSS tips and tricks sites . OpenSuse is finally here. Release Candidate 1 (RC1) of openSUSE 10.2 is codename Basilisk Lizard. 130 Ajax Tutorials Google is planning to add its blog search engine to its main google search website Zune didn't have a USB drive mode, but now it been hacked

Faking a Virtual Machine

One of the more popular trends in the recent years is the move of malicious code analysts towards virtual machines to test and reverse-engineer malicious code. And surprisingly the virus/worm writers have been adding mechanisms to their code to detect such environments. I came across this particular piece of software called Themida which does exactly that. Lenny Zeltser from SANS reports about this on SANS . Whats interesting is that this kind of detection is now part of commercial packers around the world. The question I have is this, how long will it take for someone to come up with a VMWare/Virtual Machine simulator/faker which I can run on my perfect non-virtual desktop/laptop/server and make malwares believe its running inside a Virtual machine ? If that can kill even a small percent of fresh 0-day worms/viruses, it would be worth the effort. Wouldn't it ?

The RAJAX framework (Reverse AJAX)

The use of XmlHTTPRequest without refreshing the browser is one of the more common ways of differentiating an Ajax application from a more traditional approach. But while rest of the world was learning Ajax, some smart developers have figured out to do the next step and created something called " Reverse AJAX ", or as I call it "RAJAX". Traditional client-server applications (not over the web) which used standard TCP/IP and UDP protocols didn't have to worry about Firewalls, NATs and PATs. Such client-server applications had the ability to intiate connections either way (from client to server, or from server to client). HTTP Protocol, which was built over TCP/IP was designed for specifically for web browsing where its always the clients asking for information and servers replying. By moving traditional client-server applications to Web applications, the users did solve a lot of Firewall/NAT/PAT issues, but gave up a lot on usability and speed. AJAX to some ext

Sitemaps now supported by Microsoft and Yahoo.

Google started it, but sitemaps has since been adopted by most of the large search organizations out there. If you own a website, and have a lot of static content, you probably should be investigating at creating and updating sitemap on regular basis. Sitemap is basically an XML file which describes the contents and change frequency of the site. If you ever had pages hidden deep inside your website which were not getting indexed before, sitemaps is an excellent way of advertising those pages to the search engine. Sitemaps are an easy way for webmasters to inform search engines about pages on their sites that are available for crawling. In its simplest form, a Sitemap is an XML file that lists URLs for a site along with additional metadata about each URL (when it was last updated, how often it usually changes, and how important it is, relative to other URLs in the site) so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site. Web crawlers usually discover pages from links within

Powershell/Monad Version 1.0 is finally out

More than two years ago I wrote about a neat little microsoft project called Monad which caught my eye. The project boasted of doing something which I've never seen anyone else do before. They created an object oriented shell interface. One of the examples I use to explain is that unlike unix flavor of "ps" which allows listing of fields you like or not using optional command line parameters, in Monad, you can parse the output of "ps" (aka get-process) and manipulate the objects returned to print any format you want by inspecting the object. All unix admins know how to use "cut" "grep" and "awk" for different reasons, but in a true monad shell environments where every command you type is a monad commandlet, you won't have to use the traditional string based tools anymore. Whats interesting is that unlike in Unix/other_shells, you can pipe the output of ps command in monad and throw it on to an XLS sheet with a pie chart attache

Comprehensive security report on Mac

I knew that the Macs are the most secure operating systems around, but what surprised me is that someone took the trouble of writing a comprehensive 29 page PDF report about it. "The research report looks at significant OS X threats including local, remote and kernel vulnerabilities and discusses overall system design weaknesses that contribute to insecurities on the Mac platform. The document also reviews the current state of malicious code, discussing the presence of several viruses and worms and the existence of three known rootkits for OS X."

Microsoft will probably start selling/distributing linux soon

Anyone can tell you an interesting story, but when it comes to Microsoft and Novell's recent deal Linux enthusiasts around the world have more than a couple up their sleeves. Microsoft has a long history at killing competition. They started with Novell's Server market, they tried to do with Java, and today they are trying to do it against the Anti-Virus vendors. They succeeded against Netscape, gained significant grounds against Sony's Playstation, and killed a thousand other products that I can't name because I forgot about them after Microsoft obliterated them out of the market. If any of you are XBox lovers, I don't have to tell you that in the war over consoles Microsoft has been losing money on every XBox it sells. Zune (the competition to iPod) is said to have a similar strategy. In short Microsoft has a huge bank balance and can pump in a lot of money until the competition goes bankrupt. As a result of this announcement its not a surprise that the Linux world

Offline Storage in Ajax applications ?

I've been out of the blogging world working on a ajax application which has been sucking out a lot of time from my already small free time which I have. I'd mentioned Laszlo sometime back, and explained how its jumping into the Ajax world from a pure flash based application server. The ajax application I was working on, however, started in pure ajax before it got involved with Dojo . Dojo is not the only Javascript library out there, but it certainly is one of the better ones. I played around with a few others including yahoo's javascript library, Google web toolkit and Sajax before I chose Dojo to work with. No server side code was one of the reasons, but its popularity was the man reason. When I started off Dojo had 0.3 version out which already had a lot of important features like back-button-fix and keyboard event handlers which I heavily use in my application. As of today has 0.4 released which has among other things APIs to draw 2D graphics. But what really surprised

Color Palette Generator, Dodgeit and more

One of the most common problem in the web designing world is to select a color palette to design your site with. Not only you have to worry about the colors mixing well with each other, it also sometimes have to work with other images which are on the page. Color Palette Generator is the first such online service which allows you it online. The other common problem in the internet world is the spam business. And if all you wanted is that free cell iPod for which you need to create 37 odd accounts on different websites, you could do it with fake email address provided by . You register with a fake email address which you can create on the fly... and then sign in with the email address (without any password) to retrieve the email.

Some news, and other Links to various items..

Last month we were gifted with a wonderfull little baby boy and had since been missing in action. He is busy growing, eating, sleeping (and you know what else). So forgive me for being a little out of tune. Anyway, here are a few quick links to get back in the blogging world. This site did something which I didn't know was possible before. It shows how to use a show image rollover without using multiple image src. This site has a wonderful Regex cheatsheet for all of you perl (and other language) hackers. This is something which will soon go up on the board in my cube And finally this site give a short introduction to RJS, (Ruby Javascript) which I didn't even know existed a few hours ago.

Google image labeler

Not sure how many of you have tried this new google service . It looks like a game, smells like a game and acts like a game, but its just a simple image tagging algorithm which uses your brain instead of using image recogonition. Traditionally google has looked at the text inside "a href" to find out what the image is about. So the fact that google has come down to doing this could mean one of two things It has a come across a bunch of images without any tags or meta data and is looking for ways to index them It is testing ways to get human brain to do the job of cheap computers by giving them interesting incentives ( this is no different from how we train monkeys and pigeons to do a particular work). You get them to play a game, and reward them with a cookie at the end. Or, as I suspect, google is testing an image recognition software and need human input to validate the images. Either way, this is a very cool idea and I'm pretty sure everyone else will be doing the s

Writely is taking new accounts

Writely , the company google bought a few months ago was  closed for new accounts. It seems like they have finally opened up again. But instead of using google accounts it  still requests users to create a new one.  They did mention that the will eventually integrate  with google's signin soon.

Dzone: Digg for developers

I found a new site for called  Dzone   today. Unlike Digg its focuses on programming, coding tools, processes and practices. The feature which made this site uniquely stand out among the other 100 digg replica's is its ability to take "webshots" of the URL being linked which is shown as a thumbnail. dzone fills a void which in a developers life which sites like digg and slashdot can't fulfill because of their unfocused news items. Lately digg has been trying hard to develop more focused pages , but its no where close to what developers are currently looking for.

Flashy Speed test

There are tons of speedtesting tools out there. But here is one you might not have seen before. Its called Whats cool about this site is that it allows you to test your bandwidth against multiple server in US and Europe instead of just one.

250 Web 2.0 APIs

This site programmableweb has a cloud of 250 apis. If you are into mashups, here are a few more APIs to play with.

Create your own Web logo

Found this cool site today called which allows you to create logos for your own site in a jiffy. Checkout the new Techhawking logo.

Google Talk

Google has released a newer version of Google Talk . This one allows you to leave Voicemails. File and photo sharing in Google Talk works like you'd expect: Simple, fast, and fun. Simplicity means that you can drag and drop one or more files directly onto a chat window. As soon as your friend clicks 'Accept', the bits will start flowing. When the transfer completes, the recipient can open the file or find it on disk with a single click. File transfer is fast. Google Talk makes a direct connection to your friend's computer whenever possible, enabling the fastest speed available. And even if your super-secure firewall won't allow a direct connection, we'll still get it there at a decent speed, because we're nice like that. Photo sharing is fun! When you drop up to 10 photos on Google Talk, smaller previews automatically appear right inside the chat window, so you can chat about them right away. The previews adjust to the size of your chat window, so just enl

Is Microsoft afraid ?

Microsoft came out with Microsoft Live Writer today. What surprised me was that it is one of the first tools which I can think of in recent years which has support for non-Microsoft products. Remember the good old days of Novell servers when Microsoft came with a file server which could talk to Novell servers and what about the services for Unix or Microsoft Java VM ? I know everyone is excited about Microsoft doing this, but I being me, am skeptical about the true intentions behind this. Infact, most of the times microsoft releases a product supporting other non-microsoft products, is because when its afraid of loosing market share to a competitor. So the real question is, who is microsoft really afraid of other blogging software or services out there ? Blogspot , MySpace and services like wordpress , typepad are significant competitors to MSN spaces . Microsoft Live Writer is not very different from any other Free Microsoft products in the sense that it is designed to do one

Detecting browser bandwidth (in perl)

If your website has file downloads in megabytes, it can take multiple minutes to download from far away places. Detecting user's bandwidth and predicting the time it might take might become essential to help your customers understand why its taking so long. Detecting bandwidth of a client could be as simple as timing a downloading of a simple file. But there are a few problems with this. To begin with, most browsers can open multiple download threads to the same destination (IE uses 2, Firefox uses 4). This is not a problem, but its good to know. Then there is a TCP start/stop overhead, impact of which can be minimized by using large files and enabling keepalive. The biggest problem however is caching intelligence within the browser which can trick detection logic to think that it has a superfast network connectivity. The same problem can also confuse multiple browsers behind a caching proxy server. The solution to all of these problems are relatively simple. First of all use multi

The Blue Pill - 100% undectable malware

During Code Con 2006 7 months ago I first heard about the existence of virtual machines based rootkits. I've also been reading about hypervisor technology and about products like Xen which are trying to build a better virtual machine engines. Amd and Intel now, officially, have hooks in the processor itself to support this. Unlike traditional virtual machines which "emulate" all the processing within another OS, using this new technology, each OS could infact live along with each other talking directly with the processor. But what took me by surprise is that within this short time of all this happening, there is a new technology called the " Blue Pill " which has been demonstrated and discussed in the underground world, which makes use of the virtualization features of the processors to make 100% undetactable malware. Here is an extract from authors description of blue pill.. All the current rootkits and backdoors, which I am aware of, are based on a concept

VMware for Mac is finally out !

Bootcamp is nice, but Virtualization is better. This is what almost everyone in the mac user community have been waiting for. Parallels is already selling a virtualization product for Intel based Macs for last few months and has an edge over VMware in the world. But VMware's large user base from the windows and linux community, can disturb Parallels' lead in this market segment almost overnight. VMware had been the defacto standard in PC-virtualization for few years until Microsoft came along. Recently it came out with a free version of its product called VMware Player which could "play" virtual machines created by its non-free products. While its possible that VMware may not release VMware Player for free in the Mac world, it might price itself low enough to compete with Parallels. VMware's latest move kind of confirms what Parallels has been betting on for all this while, that the Mac running on Intel will lead to more Windows users to buy and experiment with

Helping people Bookmark

If you run a blog or a website, chances are that you want to make it easier for people to bookmark you website. Here is a nice little page with list of APIs to help you generate those links for your website.

Switching to an online News reader

Flock has a great News Engine, but over the last few months I realized that unless someone comes out with a something equivalent of Google Sync, I don't think its going to work for me. I have 2 laptops and a desktop to work with and find it difficult to manage and read the daily news items. I did try using the google sync firefox plugin hack to sync flock, but I couldn't get news to sync up. I hope someone comes out with that plugin. So after giving up on flock I turned to online news readers. The one I've heard a lot about was bloglines . To begin with I think there is a lot of improvements they can do with the UI. It was a serious turn off for me. Then there was the non-Ajax refresh which was another big usability bottleneck. Its hard to understand why they haven't switched to Ajax for most of the server interactions. May be I am dumb, or may be I got used to flock , but I couldn't figure out how to create folders and subfolders for by blogs which I want to read.

Predictions for WWDC 2006

While we are at it here are my guesses at whats going to go down at WWDC 2006 VMware might come out with virtualization software like Parallels . Apple will come out with a Intel Core 2 Duo-powered based replacement for Power Mac G5. New intel based Xserves New Cinema Displays with newer sizes. Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard demo and announcement of a release date in 2006. iTunes Movie Rental Announcement Second generation iPod Nano iChat to Phone gateway and whiteboarding

Linux initrd (initial RAM disk) overview

Initrd is one of those things in linux which most of us have taken for granted. Here is a very interesting writeup on how initrd really works . " The Linux® initial RAM disk (initrd) is a temporary root file system that is mounted during system boot to support the two-state boot process. The initrd contains various executables and drivers that permit the real root file system to be mounted, after which the initrd RAM disk is unmounted and its memory freed. In many embedded Linux systems, the initrd is the final root file system. This article explores the initial RAM disk for Linux 2.6, including its creation and use in the Linux kernel. "

Hybrid drives

Hybrid cars solved the problems associated with electric cars and fuel guzzling engines. By bringing both of the technologies together, Hybrid cars can function on gasoline and still save costs by switching to an electric engine when possible. A similar problem in computing industry is forcing storage manufacturers to work on a new kind of hybrid storage device called a Hybrid Drive . This device is a result of combination of the technologies behind regular disk based drive and the faster USB drives on your keychains. This combination provides it with high speed data access and cheap-per-byte pricing in the same storage device. This concept isn't new, and if you have worked with storage devices you will remember that most high end RAID devices already have an internal cache which does something similar. Infact most Operating systems, including Windows , Linux has Solaris have builtin file cache too. But most of these devices don't use non-volatile Solid state (flash) which fo

Sysadmin Day

Pat yourselves on your back for fixing all those servers, - doing backup,recovery and user creation. Pat yourselves for saying no to root and yes to sudo, - for writing ACLs and scripting voodoo... Pat again for waking at 2am - just to put your cellphone on charge. ..for dealing with people - who wanted everything a day past Pat again for reading 650 mails a day. - for blocking SYNFIN floods on ur network ..for carrying those secure-ids - even while you are not at work. When you are done patting... please stop by a bar - pick your pagers and throw away.. 'cause you all need a break once in a while - atleast on the feaking System Admin Day !!

Nutch Distributed file system

Nutch is a very interesting java based crawler and search engine based off the lucene project . The part which captivated me, however, was this component called Distributed File system which was built to support the Nutch's quest for all the pages on internet.

Over 250 Google Wi-Fi Access points in mountain view

Google's plan for giving out wifi access to everyone in mountain view is old news. It just started rolling out. Here is a map of all the Access points in mountain view plotted on the map. Based on my initial analysis it has about 269 Access points all over Mountain View.

Google Sitemaps and DMOZ inaccuracies

If you run a website, you might have heard of Google Sitemaps and DMOZ already. What you didn't know probably is that Google Sitemaps can now learn from DMOZ if your site is listed on DMOZ. The problem Google and other search engine face is that though they can crawl your site, they don't really know how to describe your site to an search engine user. Apart from looking at your description Meta tag they also look at various other sources of information including DMOZ database to find the best way to describe your site. Though in most cases databases like DMOZ can acurately describe  the website, its not always the case, and letting search bots like that of google know that using  a meta tag can be very helpful .

Plotting Hosts/IP Addresses on the google map

I have setup a new IP Address mapping tool on huntip today which allows anyone to plot multiple ip addresses on the map. Here is the the quick API for this map API Method: POST/GET Parameters: ips ( comma delimited list of IP addresses or hostnames. For example,, Parametsrs: ips ( You can add a comment for each IP by using : as delimiter . For example server, Google servers, server in india) Parameters: showinput (1= default, 0=dont show input box, 2 = don't show menus either) Restrictions: Maximum of 100 IP addresses at any given time. Notes Accuracy: The version of MaxMind database I'm using gives accuracy of around 20 miles Examples 4 of Walmarts DNS servers spread over 3 locations A list of hosts captured by traceroute Another list of hosts captured by traceroute

Internet Health monitoring Reports

I was looking for worldwide internet health statistics and found some interesting links. General Connectivity Reports Internet health report InternetTrafficReport UCI Internet Weather Report UCR Internet Reachability Report BGP and DNS Reports BGP Statistics - Very interesting statistics about BGP protocol usage DNS Statistics - Root dns response times CIDR Report - Some more BGP route stats. Very neat

Where is my root dns server ?

I'm sure you have heard that there are 13 root servers in the world. This cache file (root hint) provided by internic/IANA should confirm that. So how does these 13 servers brave a DDOS attack . Aparently 6 of the 13 root servers are mirrored using Anycast routing to loadbalance between multiple servers. The F Root server itself has about 37 mirrors in the world. Anycast routing is implemented using BGP by simultaneously announcing the same destination IP range from many different places on the internet. So even though an IP might be registered for a location here in US, if someone announces that a route to the same IP block in Tokyo, hosts in or around that country will try to pick the cheapest route to get to a DNS server. DDOS attacks against root dns servers have happened in the past, and will continue to happen in future. Anycast routing is probably why these "13" DNS servers are still alive today. The next question so

How many root dns server do we have ?

Haven't you heard that we have 13 root dns servers in the world ? This map on was created based on the root file hint provided by internic/IANA , which listed the 13 IP addresses. The part which I later found out is that 6 of these IP addresses use Anycast addressing (different from multicast, broadcast and unicast). Anycast routing is implemented using BGP by simultaneously announcing the same destination IP range from many different places on the internet. So even though an IP might be registered for a location here in US, if someone announces that a route to the same IP block in Tokyo, hosts in or around that country will try to pick the cheapest route to get to a DNS server. The F Root server itself has about 37 mirrors in the world. So, we are very well protected against the DOS attack . Some might ask why we can't have more than 13 IP addresses for root servers. For DNS to work usin goes live

Hunt IP is a collection of systems admin tools and links to looks which can help in investigating network, dns and Email problems.

Disaster Recovery process: Insurance policy for IT disasters

In a bizarre twist of reality, a company which was standing one day, is packing up and folding away three days later. Couchsurfing faced, what they called, a perfect storm which could have happened to anyone. My sympathies with them and especially their IT team who must have gone through a lot before they were all asked to leave. Multiple failures happening at the same time is not so rare as your IT team make you believe. It has happened and will happen for ever. Unfortunately its disasters like these that make people realize the importance of backup procedures and disaster recovery plans. It reminds me of September 11, 2001 and Katarina (New Orleans) which in its own weird ways, contributed a lot towards IT Disaster recovery process improvements. IT's backup and disaster recovery team were some of the unsung heros who never seem to get recogonized for how they help business to get back into action after a disaster on this scale. Investing in backup processes, is like an insuranc

Google checkout and SSO

Google checkout is out , and as expected its so lean and mean that I couldn't figure out if it was actually a new google component. With froogle already in place, Google checkout can cash on the goodwill people have for its froogle service. I think this news is a big one for other business organizations, but probably isn't as significant for end user. Remember Microsoft Passport ? Now think Google Single Sign on . I noticed a story about it being released and pulled yesterday due to some unkown reason. Personally I've always supported Federated authentication system, because it can reduce security problems due to reduced number of passwords one needs to remember. However, using a 3rd party single signon over which we have no control is like the government trying to control/monitor our income. That being said I'm still ready to subject myself to Google's Single sign on if it reduces security risks.

OpenLaszlo Legals: Breaking the flash barrier

In the past, though I loved the idea behind laszlo, it was hard for me to come up with a reason to force my users to use Flash. That was before Ajax gained popularity. With RIA (Rich internet applications) invading the market, I had been, for a few months, pondering about re-investigating laszlo to see where it stands. Today, however, I got a very pleasent surprise when OpenLaszlo announced the availability of " OpenLaszlo Legals " extention which allows OpenLaszlo to generate runtimes for different target browsers using JScript, ActionScript or Javascript instead of just Flash. I can see Laszlo getting a lot of positive feedback over the next few days. This is probably the best move they could have made. I wish them all the best.

Notes: WikiMapia, Digg, IPv6, flock and Google Sync.

WikiMapia This is the first time I happen to stumble upon WikiMapia , which looks like a wiki of maps. Very interesting and creative idea. WikiMapia uses Google Maps API and allows users to mark places and add text to locations around the world. Its like  a large world map with people scribling all over it. Google recently updated its global map database to include some very high resolutions satallite images around the world which makes WikiMapia an even more very interesting new service to look out for. Digg Digg has been around for just over a year and has already surpassed slashdot in traffic volume . The Digg 3.0 release party demoed some really interesting new tools which are set to come out soon after 3.0 release on monday. The one tool which already exists is Digg Spy . IPv6 US Government has plans to enable IPv6 on backbone routers by 2008. Comcast is probably the first large organization who has already started deploying IPv6. Here are some interesting presentation s

Top Ten ways to speed up your website

Over last few years as a web admin, I realized that knowing HTML and javascript alone was not enough to build a fast website. To make the site faster one needs to understand the real world problems like network latency and packet loss which is usually ignored by most web administrators. Here are 10 things you should investigate before you call your website perfect. Some of these are minor configuration changes, others might require time and resource to implement. HTTP Keepalives : If Http Keepalives are not turned on, you can get 30% to 50% improvements just by turning this on. Keepalives allow multiple HTTP requests to go over the same TCP/IP connection. Since there is a performance penalty for setting up new TCP/IP connections, using Keepalives will help most websites. Compression : Enabling compression can dramatically speed up sites which transfer large web objects. Compression doesn't help much on a site with lots of images, but it can do wonders in most text/html based w

Why GoogleTalk is not about Instant Messaging.

The two big names in the messaging industry came out with two major upgrades today. Yahoo announced " Yahoo Messenger 8.0 " for Windows platform and MSN released their Windows Live Messenger . While both MSN and Yahoo are offering some form of VoIP support, the big thing for Yahoo was the opening up of the APIs for its messenger and the discussion happening is around its Yahoo! Messenger On-the-Road offering which seems to be some kind of a paid service which will grant you access to more than 30000 wifi spots around the world. On MSN side the big thing is the announcement that Philips is now making Voip handsets with embedded Windows Live Messenger in it. This trend of moving VoIP software to handheld devices is not new, but with Microsoft jumping into the market, it not very surprising why Skype is giving away free minutes . Which brings this discussion to the third player in this market, Google. While MSN and yahoo are desperately trying attach the kitchen sink to their

Sun AMD V20z hardware problems

Sun Microsystems was one of the first big companies to come up with 64Bit AMD V20Z servers which quickly replaced our ancient Sparc servers. Compared to the old E220s and E420s, AMD servers were about 3 to 5 times faster depending on what we wanted it to do. The first round of V20z's we deployed saved us a lot of rack space, but the heating and power requirements were little higher than expected. Though the v20z's did reduce the footprint on the racks, the heat generated forced us to leave room on the top of the servers where the ventilation holes were placed. For all practical reasons, we couldn't use it as one U system. We ordered a second round of V20Z's a few months back and though we were prepared for the extra rack space, we stumbled upon a whole new problem this time. We noticed that some of these servers were randomly rebooting, especially at times of high activity. We were using a mirror image of the Suse distribution which we installed on the first set of se

Could the Google and Sun rumor be about Java ?

If you have been following writings from Daniel M Harrison you would notice how strong his convictions are on this topic. Daniel strongly believes that Google is buying Sun. And any reader who doesn't understand how Google and Sun operate can easily be swayed to believe this. But not me. The fact that Google or Sun haven't publicly denied these new rumors, means that something might be cooking. But Google buying Sun doesn't sound very interesting. Sun has a large pool of talent who know how to create fault tolerant, high performance parallel processing computing infrastructure. Google has a large pool of talent who have perfected the art of distributed computing using cheap hardware clusters using free tools and operating systems Sun is a hardware, software and services company Google makes its revenue from advertisements If Google buys Sun, it would be forced to use Sun technology. Microsoft had a hard time switching from FreeBSD to Microsoft based soluti

Skype PBX is here : Good or bad ?

Recently I wrote about skype invading the cellphone market . While this might be a few years away, something more interesting might happen much earlier. A few companies at CEBit are showing off Skype to PBX gateways. [ Vosky , Spintronics , Zipcom ] Imagine how easy it would be communicate between two branches using VOIP protocols but without the expense of costly VOIP hardware. I think this is a bag of good and bad news. The good news is that skype will break down the artificial communication barrier between people and companies which live in different parts of the world. Up until recently we assumed that its ok to charge more if you want to talk with someone very far away. Its almost like we assume that travel fares are directly proposional to the distance. With the "national plan" going into effect most voice carriers provided a means for us to communicate with anyone in the country for the same fare. Unfortunately such a plan doesn't exist internationally because

Microsoft Ultra-Mobile PC (umpc/Origami)

Update : Let the hype come to an end. Here is the the real thing in flesh and blood Microsoft Ultra-Mobile PC In preparation of the release sometime tommorow , there is a file on the microsoft servers with the name Origamai_Otto_Berkes_2006. Not sure if its available from outside, but here are the important details of Origami project which we have all been waiting for. List Price $USD 599.99 Resolution 800x480 (native). Can go upto 800x600 Battery life: Doesn't seem anything dramatically different from other tablets Low powered. Cannot play Halo 2 USB Keyboard optional. 40GB Drive Bluetooth 802.11 (wifi) source: c9 CeBit M

Dont mess with my packets

We had some emergency network maintenance done over the weekend which went well except that I started noticing that I couldn't "cat" a file on a server for some reason. Every time I login to the box everything would go fine, until I tried to cat a large log file which would freeze my terminal. I tried fsck (like chkdsk), reboots and everything else I could think off without any success. Regardless of what I did, my console would freeze as soon as I tried to cat this log file. My first impression was that the network died, then when I was able to get back in I thought may be the file was corrupted, or even worse, that we got hacked and "cat" itself was corrupted. To make sure I was not hacked, I tried to "cat /etc/paswd". And that worked fine. Then I tried to cat a different file in the logs directory and found that to freeze too. I figured that something is wrong with the box and gave up on it for the night, and decided to worry about it on Monday mor

Two-way Two-factor SecureID

A lot of companies are moving towards two factor authentication which is a great because it tries to reduce the risk of weak authentication credentials. What it doesn't do, unfortunately, is reduce phishing risk, which will become the next big problem after spamming. I wrote a few words on detecting phishing attacks a few days ago. This is the continuation of the same discussion. " Passmark " and similar authentication mechanisms are one of the best current solutions in use today. Unfortunately, Passmark is one of those mechanisms which are built to be broken. The strength of this authentication mechanism, in this care, depends on the number of images in the Passmark database which according to the website is currently at 50000. 50000 variations might be alright for now, but we would be short-sighted if we stop at this. One of the serious drawbacks of this mechanism is that if the user guesses the users logon name, or captures that information in some other way, Passmar