Friday, June 29, 2007

Web Services vs Distributed Objects

There's always been this one sided debate on which is better in terms of performance - Web Services or RMI (Remote Method Invocation). However, most of the purists have termed the former as being really slow compared to the latter in all scenarios. Even then Web Services have evolved which has been attributed to the fact that they provide a convenient way to work with UI and also automatic firewall protection.
However, saying that Web Services fare poorly when compared to RMI isn't always true, as suggested by the work of Prof. William R. Cook and Janel Barfield in their paper Web Services versus Distributed Objects: A Case Study of Performance and Interface Design. They conclude that Web Services can also outpeform Distributed Objects and RMI if the scenario under question is well suited for document oriented communication.
Cook and Barfield take a simple example of a File Server, where the client requests multiple files from the server. The RMI approach in such a case would require multiple requests being sent to the server and hence the total service delay would depend on the number of such requests being made, and such a delay can be huge when large number of files are being requested from the server.
According to them, Web Services on the other hand with its document oriented approach would fare much better, since the request and response cycle would be run only once and thereby not depending on the number of files being requested. The paper provides skeletal snippets of code, but maintains that the Web Services implementation is difficult to maintain. However, they do provide an alternative object oriented approach to the same. Interesting read, find the paper here..

Old Boys.. Old Times..

Vintage Sachin at last.. I've not been writing much with respect to this game, coz I just didn't feel like. Cricket's been losing its sheen with the retirement of giants like Lara, Warne and McGrath and also has suffered since one of its champions wasn't playing upto his name.
18 years of cricket and still going. He's not been at his exploding best, his foot movement not that positive and he's been made to jump around by novice fast bowlers. But then there are days like the one today, when everything seems to fall right in place. Sachin Tendulkar's 93 against the Proteas today had everything one can expect from one of cricket's most favorite sons. Elegant backfoot punches through point, devastating pulls and hooks, copy book cover drives and trademark flicks - you name it and he played it and it was obvious, the South Africans suffered.
15000 runs, 160 odd sixes to top over 1600 odd boundaries in an illustrating one day career, I just hope he carries on with this vigor. Forget the age, burn in the enthusiasm and let the bat do the talking. Great shot Sach..

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Loading.. Loading.. Still Loading..

Just for information, I have a 256kbps internet connection rolling at my home and I pay a 1000 bucks for the same per month. I consider the speed to be decent and I believe even though with the advent of 2Mbps connections now, 256 still is decent enough keeping the median speed which folks enjoy in this country.
However, Leslie Cauley of USA Today has kinda woken me up by reporting that even Uncle Sam does not enjoy premier interent data transfer rate.. and she's talking about rate in the order of 1.973Mbps! Read the article here, where she compares the same to Japan, where the median speed is 61Mbps.. are you kidding!!!!

I wonder with 50 million internet users in India and a whole lot of firms which are hooking up every nook and corner of space available in this country, why the heck aren't we at the top, even with players like Tata and Reliance now enjoying a considerable share in this business? Its baffling to say the least..

The Wimbledon - Federer? Djokovic? Others?

Change of surface, change of colors and change of tactics - Adios Roland Garros and Welcome to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Its that time of the year again, and the most prestigious championships are here buzzing with excitement that was missing in its past few editions.
Roger Federer played his first round y'day and it was as smooth a ride as it could have been. Pummeling Gabashvili in straight sets, it was a total no contest. Roger's been switching blazers every Wimbledon now, and the little doubts remain that he'll adorn a new one next summer with 5 crests on it.
However, certain players have been breathing down his neck pretty hard, and its not just Nadal that I'm talking about, but a certain Serbian force who has the game and the power to stop the Federer juggernaut. Novak Djokovic, who impressed one and all at Roland Garros earlier this year has been playing some terrific tennis of late and should his double handed backhands find themselves within the legal baseline boundarides.. man, he'll be more than a force to reckon with! Sample this - he started 2006 ranked 78th, but here he's now, ranked 4th and very much in the reckoning of causing some serious flutters.
The thing that impressed me most about Djokovic at the French was a lethal combination of speed and power - at 6 foot 2, this lanky looking athelete is pretty quick, otherwise how many times have we seen Rafa struggling on clay. Well, though Nadal won their semi final encounter in straight sets, but then there was ample display of talent from Djokovic, who somehow looks to be suited more to the faster courts.

He ain't got an easy draw for sure though - in all probability he'll take on either of Mardy Fish or Nicholas Kiefer or Volandri or Santoro - all capable of springing a suprise on their day. But then, to get the queen's crown you've got to beat 'em all!
Few matches that I'll be looking out for should the open go on as expected - Fed taking on the ever so volatile Marat Safin, Andy Roddick takin' on Dominic Hrbaty, David Nalbandian taking on Marcos Baghdatis, Hewitt facing Canas and Nadal taking on Grojean - all Round-3 matches.
Everything said and done, Federer still starts as favorite and more than just a couple of notches above the rest and anyone else aspiring to win on 8th of July would need to seek some serious inspiration and do that that quickly.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Genre Economics..

I know my limited cerebral range in the genre of Economics, but sometimes the facts that I face are so startling that all I can do is mention about them. Thank you wired media!
Although I do keep a check on Mostly Economics blog, but seldom does it make a lot of sense to me, which is more credited to my unawareness in such money matters.
However, I also do keep a track on which impressed me to a deal that I had written about this Conde Naste venture when it was launched.
Here Zubin Jelveh sheds some light on the highly debatable topic - breaking the economic growth among the developing and developed nations with a special mention of Latin America. Take out China and India, and the situation hasn't improved at all in the past 25 years. Startlings facts for novices like me. Consider this,
Setting aside China’s population, the number of people living in poverty is actually slightly higher than it was in the early 1980s, even though the percentage of the world’s population defined as “poor” has fallen 10 percent.

Ujiko - Theme based Search..

The weekend came and went. All I did was read some stuff here and there and yeah saw Goal 2: Living the Dream, though a part of it is still left. Somehow I enjoy writing a blog whilst in office.. damn, this can get dangerous sometime for me. ;)

It ain't that new, but worth mentioning - I did come across this peculiar search engine called kartoo. Visit it and you'll come to know why I referred to it as peculiar. Further, I found out that the same guys have also come out with another creation of theirs Ujiko - again strange and all I was left wondering if I'll ever use it!

The reason I talk about here is that it just doesn't have the usual search engine look, rather its got more of a gizmo look! Essentially, its trying to establish into a different genre of search engines which are theme based. Enter a search item, and it displays not just the search results but also associates certain themes with them. Clicking on the theme would further narrow your search and so on. As usual they don't charge you a penny, but employs more of a more-features-as-you-work approach; i.e. a new user starts on level 0, and depending on his usage of Ujiko, his level increases and so does the feature-set! More of a game-based approach you can say..
Both Ujiko and Kartoo score well on their rich user interface, especially Kartoo. These metadata engines are definitely different but I'm not really sure if they'll be able to attract users beyond the first time.
And yeah, for the inquisitive bunch, they are powered by Yahoo!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

XCavator - Image Search..

Image recognition has been one of the most talked about technologies and quite a few companies have tried to recognize the potential in this genre. I came across Xcavator, which is an image search engine for stock photos working on similar lines. I tried my hands on this and the results were quite interesting. They provide more than just a couple of options to search an image -
- Color Search; select the hue and also the hue intensity and you'll be presented with a lot of images matching the criteria.
- Image Upload; upload any image and similar images will be listed from its database.
- Tag Search; this is a no brainer, just click on the tag and all the potential candidates will be shown.
- Mix and match the above options.
Xcavator also allows to select a part of the upload image - for instance, if an image of a car is uploaded to search for similar images; then the one can select say the wheel of the uploaded image, and the search will follow suit. XCavator is in the beta version and powered by Cognisign. However, I did try the face recognition part as well, but I guess they are still to get that in place.
For naive folks like me, stock photos mean that license needs to be bought on either once-buy-forever-use basis or on a normal royalty basis.
Update: Just saw that Techcrunch has posted their review on the same. Read the same here..

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Africa.. Virtual Goods.. and Terry Semel..

New software tools keep getting released, the startups keep getting funded, though I must admit the CEOs don't get fired e'day! ;) Well, Terry Semel finally amidst increasing hoopla laid down his CEO badge at Yahoo, and allowing co-founder Jerry Yang to take his position. Anyways, I just came across a couple of interesting reads, courtesy Techcrunch and NY Times.
- Techcrunch or rather Susan Wu writes a guest article for them, citing a new market thats coming up, and coming up at some acceleration - the market for Virtual Goods! Damn, I never realized that "People spend over $1.5 billion on virtual items every year!".. Read on the complete article here..
- Jason Pontin on the other hand writes on a radically different subject for NY Times. Africa - A subject that people talk about only on the email forwards or on social awareness channels. But this time, he poses a different question, "What Does Africa Need Most: Technology or Aid?" Well, he does not conclude on a definite note in this one, but then I guess he's shed enough light. Read on the same here..

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Been keeping really busy the past few days, and Austin is now really knocking on the doors now and I've been busy trying to research the best air fares available and the routes et al. So I'll be back pretty soon once I get these things done. Seeing the way even the international airlines work, I just hope that the folks there become more competent - its indeed pretty sad the way incompetency has crept in virtually every sector. Anyways, adios till then!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Apple Safari 3 Beta..

Apple has released its web browser, Safari 3 as a beta download for Windows. Jazzy as Apple is, I was really interested to to get the look and feel of this browser and I must say that it is a mixed bag of goodies and some lousy stuff as well. This 28.2 Mb download is available here. I haven't really checked out on statistics myself, but Apple folks say this about Safari -

The iPod users will relate the look and feel to the iTunes software. It gives a simple grey panel look without over cluttering it with too many things in the toolbar. The notable features -
- Tabbed Browsing; though I couldn't find a shortcut to switch between the tabs while browsing
- Snapback: which lets you instantly snap back to your original search results or to the top level of any website, even after you’ve browsed down a few levels.
- Autofill forms
- Google Search at almost every possible text; I didn't know that Apple folks have developed this kind of affinity for the former!

- Neat Interface: Yeah, with the decreased width of the browser panel, it indeed gives more screen space for the web page to the user.

- Incredible Inline Search: I say its incredible, try out for yourself. A subtle change from what other browsers provide, but then it really is helpful.

But then there are certain other issues, which eclipses its features pretty badly-
- Font, font..font; just can't believe that Apple has screwed up with this. Not adopting the ClearType used by Windows, the jagged edges are so visible when web pages are viewed with this browser, that it really hits it pretty hard. Nopes, they have to completel revamp this ASAP. Jeff Atwood has also mentioned this in his post here.
- Memory Usage; whoa.. unbelievable again - while minimized Safari behaves fine. Maximize it and you'll come to know. Check out this snap I managed to capture from my task manager, its unacceptable..

I'll still go with Opera, probably coz I still love the font they use and probably coz when I hit the back button, I don't want the latency associated with fetching the page again from the server. Cache it folks! Apple could have really done better with Safari, its smooth, no doubt, but with the font factor it really doesn't suit my eyes too well.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Powerset Hype..

I have always maintained that since Google has entered the web scenario, more than anything else, it has ignited the innovation fire among the geeks around the world. And at times even when the innovation factor isn't so pertinent, the hype factor that is generated with every new product release is pretty exciting.
A couple of months back, I had came across Powerset, but didn't write about it since it was due to be launched in September this year. The punch line for them is that they will be a Natural Language Processing (NLP) Search engine, which will revolutionize the way users search on the web.
In essence, the results produced by a query here will not just list the pages containing the keywords, but will take into account the linguistic meaning of your query and return results appropriately.
Powerset is not open yet, but going through their blog, I found this. A similar query on Google yields -

Sometimes, I wonder whats the point of showing 1,620,000 results for the same?
NLP is a tricky domain, the linguistics as we all know can get really complicated. Meanwhile, Powerset has released a video, giving a small glimpse of their world, and inviting folklore to feel like product managers by testing their product and posting suggestions.. Hmm.. but whats the compensation? ;)

Knock, Knock.. Is the Coach there?

Ian Chappel nails the Coach Carter issue brilliantly and to the point in this article on Cricinfo. And yeah, for the unaware folks, Cricinfo has been bought from Wisden by the Walt Disney owned firm ESPN for an undisclosed amount.

Yet Another Weekend..

Nothing really too different happened on the weekend.. Rafael Nadal won once again at Roland Garros, confirming that his forehand's the best in the business and on the other hand the BCCI gets wrapped on the knuckles and yet again reasserts its incompetence at this level.
Well, I didn't witness any as I was off unwinding myself on the foothills of Western Ghats away from even the cellular network. Stay tuned for the travelogue for the same..

Friday, June 8, 2007

Rafael Nadal.. unstoppable!

Sometimes I really wonder what the word 'sport' means? Is it the executiveness displayed by Golf, or athleticism by Soccer or craftiness by Snooker? At times, we witness the biggest games being played involving the biggest stars, but it still fails to evoke that feeling of the real Sport! However, sometimes it does just the opposite..
Time and again I've watched several sporting events, but it really counts when I do get a shot in my adrenaline. The second semi finals played at Roland Garros came pretty close to it, sadly though it wasn't able to sustain throughout the match.
How often have we seen Rafael Nadal getting flustered? And how many times has it happened on clay? Not many for sure. Yeah, he did lose at the recently concluded Hamburg Open, but then it did prove that he's not a robot! On the other hand, Djokovic has been a rising star, and somehow I see little shades of his opponent in him. Perhaps the one thing that he really needs to get in is RESILIENCE! Nadal showed why he's perhaps the most exciting player on the tennis circuit. We have seen the likes of Thomas Muster in the past who've been simply brilliant on clay, but this kid has lot more than that.
Rafael Nadal looks unstoppable to say the least. This wonderboy from Spain has 'headstrong' written all over him. Give him an inch, and he'll look to take the entire piece, or rather more than that. I am not saying that he's the greatest tennis player on the planet, its Federer who takes that spot. But what Nadal brings to this sport is something more magical!

A scoresheet of 7-5,6-4,6-2 in the favor of Nadal doesn't speak volumes of the match, but ask the folks who saw the match. The first set was a cracker, a supreme exhibition of power and precision. Nadal was great leading 5-2 at one point of time, but then Djokovic showed his abilities by breaking Rafa twice and levelling at 5 each. Mark Woodford would have been proud of the way Djokovic volleyed the ball on clay! Sadly though, the other 2 sets didn't really generate the same excitement level. But it was not that Djokovic played bad, but rather Nadal forced him into submission, we could see it with Djokovic applauding his opponent more than once. Such was the quality of tennis.
Sunday's final might just turn out to be a replay of the last year's event between Federer and Nadal. Roger did manage to end his 81 win streak on clay, but I guess another's just begun!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Roland Garros Showdown..

Roland Garros is definitely gearing up for one helluva showdown this year in the men's singles. I did cover up on the prospects when it was starting and to be honest, I must acknowledge that the draws lined up couldn't have been much better!
5 of the top 10 seeds (which don't include Guillermo Canas and Carlos Moya) into the quarters. Further, the final spot is taken by Igor Andreev, the 125th Ranked Russian who literally scuffled Baghdatis in 4 sets.
Well, y'day was some of the best tennis I saw in quite some time now. The 3rd set between Rafael Nadal and Lyetton Hewitt was a jaffa, and though I'd really want Nadal to stay and fight off the Big Fed, but would have loved Hewitt pulling that set off from Nadal. Heck, the Hewitt forehand at 5-4 in tiebreak ruined it all! Powerful baseline tennis, and the weakness in Nadal's backhand was being exploited, until he really started to take almost everything on his forehand - and I believe, I need not iterate on his forehand capabilities..
Djokovic looks extremely impressive, and this young Serbian has definitely been pretty clinical in his approach. However, the one player with all the flair is Carlos Moya. He got nailed by Federer in the recently concluded Hamburg Open, but I've really not seen Moya so balanced and strong in the recent past. He looks to be a revelation, watch out for the giant Spaniard.

Canas playing Davydenko also has all the ingredients of a classic. Davydenko is perhaps one of the toughest triers in the game and Canas' re-emergence since the past couple of seasons will definitely be tested, even on his favorite surface.
Whatever said and done, Robredo might just pull off the biggest upset yet, whether it really happens or not is something, time will only tell. For now though, lets head on to The Chatrier..

Monday, June 4, 2007


Bangalore..weekends..rain..power disruption - all the words seem so analogous to each other. Anyways, this weekend saw the release of one of the most awaited movies of the year - Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End. Well, to be very honest, I'm not that 'huge' a fan of this trilogy, but yeah it did provide some decent entertainment with The Curse of the Black Pearl, which did drop significantly with the sequel, Dead Man's Chest. Now with the latest release, there's just one reaction - Disappointing..

Well, the fans might really differ from me on this, and mind you Capt Jack Sparrow didn't disappoint me this time as well..just that the others did and which overshadowed Johnny Depp's brilliance. A sorry script, which they try to complicate beyond comprehension literally forced me to contemplate walking out in the middle of the movie! Sample this, the final battle in the middle of a vicious maelstrom and the 2 protagonists, Elizabeth and Will getting married among flying swords with the help of Hector Barbossa.. Yawnnnnnnnnnnnnn.. worst sequence of events in a long long time..
Fantasy is a dicey genre, it can be fascinating or just outrageously annoying. Well, for me this high expectations flick falls into the latter category. Special FX can't just carry on for almost 3 hrs!

P.S: As an antidose to my carribean adventure, I saw 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'.. an abstract movie, but then its definitely worth a watch. How I wish, I can get a Lacuna Inc to help me as well!