Jeu George’s Weblog

Life in the fast lane

Windows Vista.. over and out

Posted by Jeu George on November 9th, 2006

Browse through open windows with Flip 3DWindows Vista

Windows Vista!! Its officially out and released to manufacturing. Don’t forget to check out Windows Photo Gallery , its what I have been working on for the last couple of years. There are tons of other new features. My personal favorites, in no particular order, Windows Photo Gallery, Search and Security

Windows Vista will be releasing in several editions. Windows Vista Ultimate will be the all encompassing one.  Are you ready for Vista?

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Vinod Khosla and Oil

Posted by Jeu George on November 4th, 2006

Vinod Khosla has started Blogging recently. If you haven’t seen this already, check out his blog and his views on oil. Its a good perspective on how the oil companies are lobbying to continue to stay in power and how the whole world is centered around oil, and what the future of oil could look like.

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Unbroken(unbreakable) Records

Posted by Jeu George on September 25th, 2006

Records are meant to be broken, or they say.  There are some records in sports that I think will never be broken.

  • Jim Laker’s 19/90 at the 1956 Old Trafford Test against Australia. Ironically, Tony Lock who took the only other Australian wicket in the match, was brought in instead of the the fast bowlers to give Laker a better chance of claiming the 20th.
  • Jahangir Khan’s 5 year unbeaten streak from 1981-86, when he won 555 consecutive matches. This is also the longest unbeaten run by any athlete in any professional sport.
  • Don Bradman’s 99.94 Test Average. Did you know that he needed only 4 runs to reach the elusive 100 in his last inning, but was bowled for a duck.

Are there records that you think, will make this list?

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Federer Express

Posted by Jeu George on September 11th, 2006

 The 2006 US open championship increases Roger Federer’s tally to 9. I had almost no doubt that he was going to add this one to his cap of feathers, the only question was if it would take 3 or 4 sets to take down Roddick. Over the last 3 years, he has been a class apart from the rest, more than any sportsmen in any other sport. Some comparable names include Don Bradman  (99.94 average), Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods
(incredible domination until Vijay Singh showed up), Michael Jordan (Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain etc come pretty close), Michael Schumacher (Ayrton Senna wasn’t far away), Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan

Federer will probably break all tennis records ever set (except maybe the fastest serve or number of aces in match, he will probably leave that to mere mortals  :) ) and set new ones that won’t be broken in a long long time, like Pete Sampras’s 14 Grand Slam records or winning all 4 in a single year. Winning 9 Grand Slams while just 25 should say of what his man is made of. And most of all, his humbleness adds to his greatness. 

Another few years of such dominance, and he will be the greatest sportsperson any sport has ever seen.

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Time for a Browser Overhaul

Posted by Jeu George on August 24th, 2006

Web Browsers have existed almost since the birth of the internet.  From the earliest web browser WorldWideWeb, to text browsers like lynx, to some early crude graphical web browsers to the modern day browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera etc., the browser has indeed come a long way, but a paradigm shift in browsing is due. Layout Engines like Gecko (Mozilla) and Trident (Microsoft) etc. were built in the 90’s for the 90’s while the internet was still a baby. With the internet growing faster than ever before and business moving to the web at a rapid pace, increasing bandwidths and demands for desktop like experiences on the web are majors asks for a Browser overhaul.

Languages like JavaScript (AJAX) are used to provide ‘rich’ apps for today’s browsers. Being an interpreted language with much less functionality and power as opposed to say C++, Lisp etc. makes the ‘rich’ experience very poor indeed. Reasons like these and the demands of the web certainly warrant a walk back to the drawing board for a serious rethink on how the browser should mould itself for the ever changing needs of the internet. Here are some of the things that are fundamental to the next gen browser and some reasons why the today’s browser might soon be a thing of the past.

  • Something faster and better than Javascript, perhaps an open standard language designed and built for working especially with Web Controls (Open Standard again) and working with Mutlimedia (Audio, Images, Videos). Yeah, just what the world needs, another language and another standard.
  • Better and more UI Controls that would make Web Apps closer to Desktop Apps or maybe even better
  • HTML is a thing of the past, enough plumbing has been done on it already (DHTML, AJAX etc..) to try to improve and add to HTML. It’s long due for a change.
  • TCP/IP is what the internet is built on today. But things like ECN (Something that I worked on for my Masters Thesis) suggests that TCP/IP and its current feedback mechanisms for handling congestion will soon be outdated with the increased bandwidth speeds and traffic, as we move along. Most applications that depend on networking (like Web Browsers) are often limited by the bounds of TCP/IP.
  • The coming few years will see the birth and rise of huge server farms like this one. This will lead to increasing demand of innovation in area of Web Applications. Browsers better be ready for this.
  • Paradigm shift to collaborative computing. Blogging, Social Networking, Sharing etc.. are pushing todays browsers to the limit. So much so that, there have been tons of desktop applications written (Windows Live Writer etc..) to just circumvent the shortcomings of the browser

It’s time for a Browser Overhaul

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Brand Name: Microsoft

Posted by Jeu George on August 7th, 2006

According to Interbrand, Microsoft is now the second most valuable brand name in the world, next only to Coca-Cola. Check out the top 100 list for the year. Eligibility criteria to be even being considered to make the list, includes things like having a third of the earnings outside the US, and being recognizable outside its customer base. Brands like VISA, Walmart etc… did not qualify due to some of these reasons.

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Banning Social Networks!!

Posted by Jeu George on August 1st, 2006

This is a surpising news. The House of Representatives have passed an act with an overwhelming majority asking Social Networking sites to be banned from federeal institutions in the US that have received funding for computers and net access via the US E-Rate scheme - primarily schools and libraries. Around two-thirds of US libraries apparently receive this funding. While I truly support the primary cause behind this act, I don’t think this is the right way to approach this problem. Putting this act into place would potentially mean sites likes MSN Spaces, MySpace, Friendster, Orkut, and even sites like Digg and other blogging sites making it to the hit list.  The FCC will come up with a definition of what qualifies as a Social Networking Site.

There are a number of reasons as to why this is not the correct solution.

  • This does not totally prevent children from accessing these sites.
  • There are going to be a ton of sites that does not make this list.
  • Not all institutions are a part of this ban.

Online Bank Fraud is a big problem in the US. To fix this problem you wouldn’t ban online banking features altogether.  Email Spam is another nagging issue. You wouldn’t ban email to fix this problem. While neither of these examples wouldn’t compare very well to problem at hand, we need to find a better way to fix the issue rather than just ban these sites. One way to do this will be at the website level, by coming up with a way to make sure whether the user signing up is an adult or a minor. The web services can then decide what content to serve to the user. Although this is possible in theory, it could prove hard to execute, and also will share some of the loopholes that banning websites have.

A better solution could be to do this at browser level instead of at the website level. Getting better parental controls into the browser and force-update such features into existing browsers already out there, without which it will be impossible to visit these sites.

It will be interesting to see how various companies react to this issue, particularly when its going to hit them from a business standpoint.

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Magnetic Memory Chips

Posted by Jeu George on July 18th, 2006

After tons of technology innovations in the memory chip industrty, the MRAM’s are finally here. Rather than relying on electric charges to store memory, this uses magnetic properties like orienatation of magnetic layers in the cells to determince the values of data bits. Unlike flash memory, this has infinite read/write endurance. 

This will give it the capability to store memory even after the device is powered off. Using MRAM in a PC, will give you instant reboot and shutdown capabilites, with the need to probably only recycle time dependant scenarios like network connections etc.

It will be interesting to watch FSL’s stock price over the coming months. 


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It’s been a while

Posted by Jeu George on July 13th, 2006

Almost a month since my last post. Lots of interesting things have happened since.

Gaurav and Ashish were here in Seattle just before the long weekend. It was great catching up with things, talking about old stories.

A bunch of us went down to Yellowstone on the long weekend for 4 days. It was a lot of fun. Took Gigs of pictures. I am still in the process of sorting and touching the pictures but I have uploaded a few of them on my MSN Space. I realized that sharing pictures is still a pain, and a lot of work needs to be done in this area. Almost all photo sharing services comprimise on quality. While its still OK with today’s technology, this is one area that needs a lot of improvement, especially with 7 MP camera phones lurking in the market for over an year now and the median MegaPixel ranges for digital cameras are already in the 5-8 MP range.

The Soccer World Cup, the biggest sporting event of the year just got over.  Argentina was my pick, though I felt they were a bit unlucky to lose the Quarter’s. Italy took their fourth, and they are now second, only to Brazil on all time World Cup Final Victories. It wasn’t a fitting finish to the Grand Finale, with things going down to Penalty Shootouts. I wonder why they didnt have the Golden Goal rule this time. Perhaps the should be do it the basketball way and have repetitive 15 minute overtimes until it gets over.

Our summer cricket league is also underway this weekend. We will be starting our pratice sessions today and looking for an unprecedented three-in-a-row Championship wins.

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Son of a Bug

Posted by Jeu George on June 16th, 2006

This was one of the earliest and probably one of the more frustating bugs I worked on. It was my first job and probably around six months into it. printf was still my favorite debugging tool, and was still getting the hang of  debuggers. My task was to improve the performance of Connection pool manager in the JDBC driver I was working on at the time. A section of this code implemented the singleton pattern, and one of the taskitems was to change the regular implementation to the Double Checked Locking Mechanism. I thought this was a pretty clever idea, but it kept breaking and I couldn’t figure out the reason for the longest time. The funny thing was that I couldn’t reproduce this under the debugger and neither were my printf’s (System.Writeline) or colleagues of any help and that made it even more frustating.

I eventually decided not to go ahead with this obviously, but I was glad to know the reason(s) when I finally knew it.

One of the explanations attributed it to a bug in the Java Memory Model (Out of memory writes).

1: public static Singleton getInstance()
2: {
3:   if (instance == null)
4:  {
5:    synchronized(Singleton.class) { 
6:      if (instance == null)         
7:        instance = new Singleton();
8:     }
9:   }
10:   return instance;
11: }

You would expect Line 7 to be atomic, but in fact you can break this up into

7.1 mem = allocateMemory();       //Allocate memory for Singleton object.
7.2 instance = mem;               //Note that instance is now non-null, but has not been initialized.
7.3 ctorSingleton(instance);      //Invoke constructor for Singleton passing instance.

In a multithread environment, you can guess what would happen after one thread loses its time slice after executing Line 7.2

 The other explanation that I heard was that the compiler would get ’smart’ and realize that there was nothing really useful between Lines 3 and 6 and nothing changed the value of the instance variable in between, and so it would ‘optimize’ the code by taking out Line 6 and combining it with Line 3. In Debug mode, it wouldn’t ‘optimize’ this and it worked like a charm.

There have been a ton of discussion around this, a good amount of which is captured here.

Sources for sources:

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