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Windows mimicking Linux ? November 25, 2008

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Came across this screenshot of Windows 7 . Doesnt the desktop bear an interesting resemblance to KDE 3 ?

Also , heres a screenshot of Windows PowerShell running on a Windows 7 machine . Linux users have always enjoyed a powerful command line and Windows PowerShell , is Microsofts attempt to provide a powerful command line interface to Windows . However,as the below screenshot suggests there seems to be more in common πŸ˜‰

Microsoft giving away free software ! November 20, 2008

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Its been quite a while since my last post . Have been busy with college projects and presentation stuff . Well, now here is something interesting i came across . Microsoft has started an initiative called “DreamSpark” , which aims towards giving students all over the globe access to Microsoft software like Visual Studio 2008 Professional edition , Expression Studio , Windows Server etc, which usually costs a lot of money, absolutely free ! .Β  Let me point out that these are not the “Express Editions” which anyways microsoft has made available for free download , but rather the commercial versions . Bill Gates recently visited IIT-Delhi , to launch the DreamSpark program in India .

Even though i love to hack on and am a big fan of GNU/Linux,Β  Im not “anti-MS” , like the people i talked about in my earlier post .Β  I absolutely hate getting into all those platform wars, and bitching about MS and all other crazy stuff like that . But still i was wondering about the “sudden interest” of Microsoft to give away its software tools to the student community for free .

I mean Microsoft is a company which has been around for a long time now, and why is it only now that Microsoft wants to give free access to its tools to the students ? . Is this because of the growing competition from FOSS , which has become a really strong alternative to the MS platform , and which gives people a lot of “freedom”, in the true sense of the word, to explore and innovate ? .

Well, i would prefer not to answer these questions myself ,and keep them open to interpretation . Readers however, are welcome to express their views in the comments . Again, no MS bashing please, just thoughtful and honest answers πŸ™‚ .

PageRank Vs. BrowseRank . The algorithm wars August 12, 2008

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I talked about Yahoo! revamping its search service in my previous post.Now can Microsoft be far behind ?. Well, according to Microsoft, the formula behind Googles success in the search area is their “PageRank” algorithm . The PageRank algorithm rates the relevance of a page based on the number of pages that link to it, and how many pages link to those pages so on and so forth….

Microsoft says it has come up with a better algorithm which it calls “BrowseRank” . Now instead of relying on the number of links between pages , this algorithm determines a page relevance by the actual number of hits it receives by users . So, the more visits of the page made by the users and the longer time periods spent by the users on the page, the more likely the page is important. So BrowseRank brings a human touch to the assessment of a pages relevance.

Now, whether Google or Microsoft or Yahoo! will have the final word in search technology only time will tell, but so far Google no doubt leads with Yahoo! at number two and Microsoft at number three πŸ˜›

You can read more about this algo war here

In the beginning was the command line…. August 3, 2008

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I stumbled across an interesting piece of essay called “In the beginning was the command line” by Neal Stephenson . It deals with the ongoing clash between proprietary and free software and also analyzes the corporate/collective culture of the Microsoft, Macintosh, and free software communities .

This book was published in 1999, even before Mac OS X came out, so it does not deal with things as they are today, but it does induce some nostalgia in the reader by offering an interesting glimpse into the past of proprietary and free softwareΒ  . I havent read it completely yet, but its been pretty engrossing so far πŸ™‚

This essay has been published in the form of a book, and has also been made available online for free download .To whet your appetite , you can check out the Wikipedia entry for the book.

To download it visit http://www.cryptonomicon.com/beginning.html

Bill recommends Ubuntu July 12, 2008

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Hey,this is top secret stuff, but anyways…. πŸ˜‰

Writing a DLL in C and accessing it through C# April 16, 2008

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Dll writing is considered a mystery by many programmers, so i have written a tutorial which tells the reader what dll’s are, what it takes to write one in C, and then access it through a C# program . Hope someone finds this useful. Check out my tutorial at :

http://cid-ae5a82cbc4f524a1.skydrive.live.com/embedrowdetail.aspx/My_Shared_Stuff

Happy Hacking ! πŸ™‚

Bill Gates on him being a dropout April 16, 2008

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Check out Bill Gates talking about him being a dropout at Harvard University, what drove him to leave his education midway and go over to start a company…Mr. Gates finally received his degree after a period of 33 yrs…i just burst out laughing when he says that hes usually called to speak at graduation day events rather than orientation sessions…lol :D…also dont miss Steve Ballmer sitting in the background.

Really cool vid…check it out πŸ™‚

# and chm files…whats the relation ? March 21, 2008

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Some time back i was facing a problem opening windows help files a.k.a. chm files on my XP box . Actually, chm files make use of Internet Explorer for displaying their content, so i checked all the settings in IE but ultimately was at my wits end and was not able to figure out what was going wrong .

After googling on it for sometime i came across some info , which finally helped me solve the problem . It was a strange revelation that if the chm files are placed in a folder which contains the character # in its name , then the chm files wont display their content.

Actually, the chm files on my machine were some docs related to the c# programming language and were placed in a folder that contained the word c# in its name. I renamed the folder by replacing the character # with the word ‘sharp’, and voila, the chm file contents were now visible πŸ™‚ .

For the coders amongst you, the reason is that the # character signifies an anchor in html so the chm file is getting a bit confused as to where to look for the content.Β  I dont know whether this is officially documented by Microsoft or not , however the moral of the story is never have a # character in the name of a folder that contains chm files. Hope this saves you a lot of trouble in case you run into the same problem.
Alright then, till the next post,

Adios and Happy Hacking ! πŸ™‚

Connecting to SQL Server 2005 Express using PHP March 9, 2008

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Recently i was trying to connect to a SQL Server 2005 Express database using PHP on a XP machine and i got the following error :

mssql_connect() [function.mssql-connect]: Unable to connect to server…

The 8 steps that i followed to resolve this error are as follows :

1.) Downloaded ntwdblib.dll (version : 2000.80.194.0) from Webzila.com

2.) Copied this dll file to apache\bin

3.) Restarted the apache service by going to Control Panel->Administrative Tools->Services.

4.) Went to “SQL Server Configuration Manager”.

5.) Under “SQL Server Network Configuration” clicked on “Protocols for SQLExpress”.

6.) On the right hand side,right clicked on “Named Pipes” and clicked on Enable

7.) Also, right clicked on TCP/IP and clicked on enable

8.) Restarted the SQL Server Express service. You can do that from the control panel or by issuing the following two commands at the command line :

net stop mssql$sqlexpress

net start mssql$sqlexpress

That was it ! . I was now able to connect to SQL Server 2005 Express πŸ™‚ .

In case it still doesnt work for you try the following :

1) Copy php_mssql.dll to apache\ext.

2) Make sure that in your php.ini file , extension=php_mssql.dll is uncommented.

3) Make sure you are using the right port number in your code. You can find out what port SQL Server is listening on by doing the following :

3.1) Go to “SQl Server Configuration Manager”.

3.2) Under “SQL Server Network Configuration” click on “Protocols for SQLExpress”.

3.3) On the right hand side window, right click on TCP/IP , click on Properties.

3.4) In the new window click on the “IP Addresses” tab

3.5) The value of “TCP Dynamic ports” is the port number that SQL Server is listening on.

I spent a hell lot of time figuring all this out, and i hope that this post saves you all that trouble.

Happy Hacking ! πŸ™‚

Cool new technology by Microsoft February 13, 2008

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You must have heard of hyperlinking documents to one another . Well,thats what the world wide web is all about . But ever thought of hyperlinking photographs to one another ?. Consider the following scenario : On your recent visit to Agra, you have taken the photo of the Taj Mahal.The photo shows how the Taj Mahal looks from the front from some distance. Some of your friends have taken photos of the same monument, which show how it looks from the front at a closer distance than yours, some photos show how it looks sideways,from the top, and also the inside of it. Now, these are all separate pictures.

Now imagine, that instead of having separate photos like this, you could combine all these photos into a single 3-D view of the Taj Mahal . Further imagine that you could combine these photos with a million other photos taken of the monument by people all over the world. You could seamlessly zoom in or out of a photo whether it’s megapixels or gigapixels in size,walk or fly through a scene to see the photos from any angle.

It would be like having a virtual tour of the great monument which would be as real as it gets ! . Thats exactly the technology developed by Microsoft Live Labs and is known as ‘Photosynth‘.

Photosynth allows the aggregation of social picture networks into a completed image in addition to allowing a level of depth that was previously unavailable. The man behind this amazing technology is Blaise Aguera Arcas who is an architect at Microsoft Live Labs . This exciting technology has amazing implications and will fundamentally change our online experience . Check out an impressive video below to see the technology in action .