Prashant's Weblog
Random Brain "Droppings" of yet another software engineer

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Weirdest cosmology theories

Newscientistspace recently has compiled a list of top ten weirdest cosmology theories. you can find it here. I love the "In the Matrix" theory..

Maybe our universe isn't real. Yale Philosopher Nick Bostrum has claimed that we are probably living inside a computer simulation. Assuming it ever becomes possible to simulate consciousness, then presumably future civilisations would try it, probably many times over. Most perceived universes would be simulated ones - so chances are we are in one of them. In that case, perhaps all those cosmological oddities such as dark matter and dark energy are simply patches, stuck on to cover up early inconsistencies in our simulation.

brought back memories of Keanu Reeves, Fishburne and Anne Moss in Wachowski triller trilogy, The Matrix. Probably one of the greatest movie concepts ever.

Lord Shiva's flying arms and legs and the swaying of his torso produce - indeed, they are - the continuous creation-destruction of the universe

I really wonder why there is no mention of our "Cosmic dance theory" of creation/distruction of Universe/life..

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Teach yourself Photoshop in (2)1 days - Adnan Hajj

Today TOI had this photo by Adnan Hajj of Reuters, which was found to be doctored. Do check this really interesting discussion on one of the forums about this photo

(Pic Via TOI)

TED - Touch-driven interface to computers

Recently I had the "good" fortune of teaching my dad how to use a PC. I am sure, people with similar experience would agree that its really a pain to make them feel comfortable with the mouse..Which button to click to select? Which button to click for menu? Which button to click for opening/dragging/moving? questions one point it becomes so frustrating that you will trade anything for Douglas Engelbart.

So I was able to relate to the research of Jeff Han, a research scientist at NYU's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences who has implemented this new "interface-free" touch-driven interface which makes the interation with computer much more interactive, lively and fun. He spoke at TED conference about this new interface. You can watch the video here.After watching the video, I had to agree, what he did with that new screen of his is simply amazing..You can find another kind of GUI interface called "Dontclick" here..

Staying with TED talks..this is the first time they have released the video/podcast of the conference to public..The talks are so popular that the tickets are sold out a year in advance..Do check out the talk by Larry Brilliant, Sir Ken Robinson, David Pogue and Julia Sweeney here...really nice.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

GNR version of Lord of Rings

Take me down to the land of Mordor
Where Sauron is the king
And is hungry for the Ring
Take me to hell (Oh, won't you please take me to hell)

Just an hobbit livin' in the Shire
I'm a hard case that's tough to beat
I'm your ring bearer
So buy me mushrooms to eat
I'll carry the ring to Orodruin
and dip it in crack till it meets its doom

Obscurity to fame
Or so they say
we hobbits gotta Keep pushin' every day
for when the Ring meets its doom
fortune and fame is all we'll know
until that You know it's, it's all a gamble
just a game of us nine against the Evil

Take me down to the land of Mordor
Where Sauron is the king
And is hungry for the Ring
Take me to hell

you can find some more Alternative author's version of Lord of the Rings here.

(Link via Flastaff)

Friday, August 04, 2006

Business week - Top 100 brands for year 2006

Business week has recently compiled the list of top 100 brands for year 2006 and Cisco has made it in to the top 20 league. We are in 18th position in the overall listing and we stand 5th among the IT companies behind Microsoft, IBM, Intel and HP.

18th position huh!! Though its pretty good position, But I believe we can be in top 15 or may be top 10. Also when we talk of 18th, 15th or 10th position, we are talking of two things... Familiarity and Favorability. Familiarity is how well people know about your brand and Favorability reflects how willing people are to come back for the same brand once they have known of it.

Now the obvious question to ask would be why is Cisco in 18th place and not among top 15 or top 10 brands? One reason I can think of is because we score poorly on the Familiarity front i.e. people do not "know" Cisco that well, ask them what Cisco does and you will find almost all of them tagging us as a Computer networking a.k.a. "plumbing" company. What they have failed to see or what we have failed to project is that along with plumbing we are into Internet services and software, rubbing shoulders with Google ebay etc. We are in to Computer Hardware(HP, Dell), Computer Software(microsoft), Computer peripherals, communication equipment and services(Lucent, motorola). Our products just don't cater to Enterprise segments(SONA, Unified communication) alone, but we serve the Commercial segment, The service provider segment(settop boxes from Scientific Atlanta) and the consumer segment(Linksys). Going by the no-so-latest figures, its said that there are atleast 40 million Cisco devices in the consumer segment. So though we do lot of things, we have not created the sense of "familiarity", thus resulting in not so optimal rank.

So why do I think Cisco would move within top 15 and then within top 10? Its the same reason as to why you see brands like Google and Ebay showing awesome growth in their brand values..46% and 18% respectively..Take Ebay...they don't sell products but what they sell is "ecosystems", platforms over which others can build there own applications and make money. Cisco, I believe would move up the brand ladder because they are working towards positioning Cisco not as supplier of switches or routers but as a company that supplies "Intelligent Network platforms" over which others can build there own applications and provide services.

So until pandemic like SAARS/Ebola breaks out or Al-Quida strikes heart of New York or London or the price of crude oil skyrockets to $100 a barrel and thus sending the world into another round of recession, things look bright for Cisco and yeah Cisco shares ;)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Zip a file using PL/SQL

Today was quite interesting day at office. As part of the current project I am working on, today, I had a very strange request from our client. It goes like this;

we have a table, which has a BLOB column that contains a XML file(CONTAINS!!..ok.. Contains/points to a XML file). Now the requirement is, using PL/SQL I need to zip this XML file and then insert the zipped file into another table(BLOB column), after doing so I need to send this zipped XML file to a list of people by e-mail.

At the first glance it seems impossible ..but when you break it up, we have the following three tasks to be done;

1) Zip the XML file
2) Insert the zipped file to another BLOB
3) Attach the BLOB to mail and send it.

Second and third tasks atleast look doable, I was thinking of writing a trigger which will fire after insert and will attach the file and send a mail. The mail part, I am sure I will hijack a mail package from metalink :)

Now the difficult part...Zip a file using PL/SQL!! I am not sure how to do this..I looked for some Oracle package that can do this, but couldn't find one, not sure if one exist. So alternate solution could be to take care of the file compression using java and call those java functions in PL/SQL. SIMBLE isn't it?

yeah, never have I written a single line of Java code, never have called a Java function in PL/SQL and with just 15 days deadline to do it and make it work..Life can't get any better :)