Sunday, December 31, 2006

Resolutions for the new year

I generally hate the idea of taking resolutions for the new year. I am certainly not one among those who think about setting resolutions just for the sake of a new year. I personally feel that you can make a new resolution and stick to it starting any day of the year.

But I have few resolutions I have been following for some time now and I want to continue to stay focused on them in the new year.

  • Blog good developer content - I want to make sure my blog is updated with useful .Net 2.0/3.0 content.
  • Be proactive - I have been using rememberthemilk website for sometime now for managing my to-do list and I should say it is going okie. But I could certainly improve my multi-tasking ability.
  • Financial Planning - My father has always my financial advisor all through my life. Personally I am really bad in financial planning, however I think I am getting better in this area. But still has to go a long way to be in a position to do financial planning without my dad (aka financial advisor).
  • .Net Certification - To obtain MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist) certification. I don't believe in getting certification for landing a better job offer or being offered a better position in a company, but I certainly think it's the best way of keeping yourself updated with the latest technology.
  • Reduce my weight - I think this is always going to be on my list.. I personally think this is one resolution that is tough to keep. My recent relocation from Virginia, USA to Chennai, India is making the matter worse. I am getting pampered by my friends and families with sweets that I find really hard to resist.

I hope to stay focused on these resolutions. Will keep my blog updated about how things are going..

Wishes for a Happy New Year 2007 !!!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Want to be a hacker

I have always been fascinated by what hackers are capable of doing. I have always wanted to be an ethical hacker some time in the future, but the problem is there is not much courses available on "Hacker" nor there is books available on "How to become a hacker in 21 days?".

Last night I got some free time to browse about hackers and came across this hackthissite. It is a pretty good site with nice challenges on hacking. It was very interesting to solve those questions. I wanted to try solving some more puzzles from that site to keep my brain working/thinking in different ways. Hackers normally tend to think way too out of the box. I would suggest any developer looking for something challenging to take up the basic challenge mentioned in their site.

Some other sites worth mentioning are

ngsec -
Try2Hack -
HackMe @ Elderson -
Mindlock Security Challene -
Zebulun Challenge -
Root Hack -
DataFort -
HackNull -
Digital Evolution -

Happy Hacking :)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Working on Google API's

I have been thinking to add a search functionality to my web site for a long time. Atlast I got time to sit and code last night. I was impressed after checking the Google AJAX API , it is well supported with good samples. After digging through some samples I started to work on integrating the search inside Blogger Beta, I thought it's going to be a piece of cake since both of them are from the same companies... but it turned out to be a tough nut to crack, till I was able to find some help through Hoctro and thephotofool. So atlast I have added search in my website. It felt real nice to spend some time working on improving my blog. Check it out when you have some time and let me know if you like it.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

How to keep yourself updated?

"How do you keep yourself updated with latest tech-news/technology? " is one of the common questions among software developers. Considering that there are new tools/websites introduced every day, we need to spend atleast 1-2 hours everyday just to be informed about them.

My suggestions for keeping yourself updated will be
  • Read good blogs - This is the best way to keep yourself abreast about what is happening in the industry, since most of the blogs are written by end users after using a particular tool/website it gives a better idea than the manual found in the particular website.
  • Read websites aggregating latest tech news and nice tips - To begin with you might not know which is the best blog so go to site like techmeme, digg to get informed about the latest tech news. Also, make sure you read, it will improve your day to day life with computer much easier with tricks you have never heard before.
  • Use a Blog Reader - Make sure you have a good blog reader to automatically fetch posts from your favourite blogs/tech-news sites. Even though there are hundreds of blog readers, I recently started using Google Reader and I am loving it every minute. Since it is web based you can easily use it across multiple systems and it's from GOOGLE :).
  • Listen to Podcast - Most of us dont have enought time to spend browsing online. we spend valuable time in commute but podcasts make sure we use that time usefully. There are many sites like scotthanslemann minutes, dotnetrocks offering good podcasts on weekly basis. Download them to your i-pod and you will notice that your commute became more productive.
  • Learn with tutorial videos - Sometimes I hate reading books to learn something new. Try to see if there is any free tutorial videos available for the particular technology. Tutorial videos reduce your learning curve for a new technology. The other day I was looking for some tutorials for Ajax . It was really nice to see so many videos on that subject which made it real easy on me to start learning something new.

Let me know if you have any other tips up your sleeves to keep yourself updated..

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Conversion to Blogger Beta

I noticed the link to blogger beta site couple of months back. Just for the fun of trying it out I created a new blogsite and started trying out new things in the beta version. I didn't find anything cool at that time and there was no option to migrate an existing blogger site to the beta version of blogger. When I was about to sign-in to blogger, I noticed a link to migrate the existing blogger site to blogger beta. Migrating the blog was a painless process which would have taken only about 2-3 mins. I hope they didn't loose any of my prior posts in the process. But from the beta dashboard I am still not able to view my previous posts (a note says it will be available soon). I haven't found anything exiting to write about the new blogger site so far but will write a new post if I do come across anything interesting.

As a part of migrating, I have played a little bit around the color/font of this blog and minor stuffs. Hope you like it better. I am no graphical designer but I hope I have done a decent job. Drop a comment if you don't like the way it looks

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Cool tool for automating repetitive tasks

I am sure most of you have to do repititive tasks @ work like writing the same SQL query for debugging a certain issue, creating a particular email template, etc. There are few ways to automate things in individual application like creating a new template in outlook. But if you are looking for a utility which can work across all applications in windows take a look at AutoHotKey.

It is more than text replacement/macro recorder, it includes a nice scripting language which can be used to do almost anything which needs to get done using few shortcut keys. I just downloaded and installed it and started playing around with the .ahk file. I was having so much fun and now I have automated almost all my tasks which I used to type over and over again. I wish I knew about this tool sometime ago. I would certainly say this is one tool any developer should have in his system.

Happy autokeying :)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Improvements in Scheduled Tasks in Windows Vista

I am sure most of you would have used Windows Scheduler to some extent in earlier version of Windows. After installing Vista I wanted to automate the processes like Defrag, diagnostic tools, etc in a scheduled manner. So I started to search for scheduled tasks. (In vista it is under All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Task Scheduler).

I thought it will have empty list of tasks but was rather surprised to see a total of 16 tasks. There are pre-scheduled tasks for doing defragmentation (which is really good) but I was not sure about the other 15 tasks. So I started doing some analysis and stumbled upon this article explaining about the Task Scheduler in Vista. Features of Task scheduler has improved tremendously from previous version of windows. A task in vista now resumbles more closely to a Job in SQL Server. A SQL Server job can have a series of tasks and you can configure that second task can fire only when the first task completes successfully. I was always thinking some day Microsoft will make scheduled task more close to the SQL counterpart. They have done that exactly in Vista. The coolest thing is now we can have tasks triggered based on actions like Scheduled time(defacto standard in previous versions), On Startup, On Logon, When system is idle, when a specific event occurs (some error is written to Event Viewer). I am sure all the administrators are going to have fun time scheduling new tasks.

Happy Scheduling :)

Neat tricks for Google Search

Everyone knows that searching the web using Google (the de-facto standard search engine for most developers out there.) is an art. Sometimes we spend hours together trying to find the website/information we are trying to look at but get frustrated to see everything else show up other than what we exactly want. I have been in this situation some times and you just feel like you are searching for a needle in a haystack. Remember that you trying to search thru Millions and Millions of web pages that are indexed by Google.

I think I have improved by search query tremendously after reading good article on tips for searching Google. I was totally surprised with the use of "~keyword" by Google.

Happy Searching ~~

Friday, December 01, 2006

Tools to be more proactive

I have been procrastinating a lot of my tasks for the last few weeks. I am not sure whether it is due to the nature of tasks I have been getting both at work and home. But i finally decided that I have to do something about this and start being more proactive about my tasks before people start complaining about my laid back nature. I needed a new way to start managing things and not forget about my tasks. So I thought of getting back to my old fashioned way of using yellow sticky notes all over my desk once again. But I wanted to change my habit and wanted to do a better job with one of the online to-do lists (not to mention free) available in the market.

So after googling for some time i came across a nice article written by Brian Benzinger. Anyone who wants to try different online to-do list apps before finalizing one should go thru the list of all applications he has mentioned. I am sure he has spent atleast a whole day on research before coming up this article. I spent couple of hours trying out the different applications he has mentioned before finalizing on RemembertheMilk. The name is kinda funny that I thought of staying away from this application. But after starting to use it for some time I found it so cool and I think I am going to stick with this for a long time. The best thing I like about any web application is the keyboard options they would support. I have started to expect this from every web application after using Google reader for the last one month. RTM supports cool keyboard shortcuts and I am having a blast using them. At this point I am not sure whether continuous usage of this tool will help be more proactive. But I think atleast I have made a start somewhere and hope this continues for a while. Will keep this blog entry updated about how my efforts to be more proactive is working out.