Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I like a good quote and as insightful as this is - it is quite intriguing

Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.
-- Edsger W. Dijkstra
As intriguing as it is, it immediately clicks and it then it feels like a reword of what many others have said. The computers themselves are just the beginning. What you can achieve with them has no boundaries, sky is the limit.

I like to read quotes, hence I have couple good quote apps on my iPhone. One being quote of the day, which changes daily, from which I pulled this one. There is a random quote app as well.

I like to write my own quotes as well! Many of them, I don't share online, but maybe I will share some of the good ones someday.
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How to Improve Your Luck (Reference -

Feeling a little unlucky lately? Want the secret to getting lucky? You have it already - it's you. The secret to improving luck is about perspective, self-belief and erring on the side of optimism. It isn't about winning huge pots of cash - it's about making the most of the wonderful blessings already surrounding you. Here are some thoughts for making your own luck grow... [more]

My favorite tip of all - Never stop learning.
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TF2 - Mass A.I. (YouTube video)

Game engine mods for Valve's TF2

Monday, November 24, 2008

Visualizing time elapsed is always interesting

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The extremely simple journal - Muji Chronotebook

Thanks to my dear friend Andy who shared one of Jack Cheng's article, which made me stumble upon this article - which mentioned an interesting diary / journal. It has an analog watch in the middle of the page and that basically is the genius behind it. A blank area around it lets you scratch and write whatever you want around it.

If you want to visualize the basic idea behind this notebook, check this link .

Use it as a planner, diary, journal, blah.
My primary use will be as a journal and place to jot down notes before transferring interesting ones to evernote .

Now if we can only search through this thing, easily - that is the only void I feel.

PS. It won a Muji design award. Dunno what is a Muji design award, but I was impressed by the Chronotebook for sure :) Lifehacker has an article  on it as well.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What's wrong with Sitemaps?

Why are sitemaps maps? They are more like site lists. It probably goes back to that special page many sites have that serves to present a map of the entire site. The thing that clicks however about this page is that the list can organized using nested lists.

AFAIK sitemaps, despite being a XML based format, can not support neseted urls or urlset's. That I think is a fundamental disadvantage and something I am not very impressed about. Sure the major search engines support the current spec, but it has *serious limitations* in presenting the link/web page structure.

PS. Actually you can even use a text file with a bunch of links (one per line) and call that page a sitemap. Boring. How is the crawler to identify parent-child heuristics ?

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Love this project - Wikipedia Miner wikifier - Good potential and very interesting

A research progress picked up my interest lately! It's the Wikipedia Miner wikifier.

"It automatically augments web pages with links to relevant Wikipedia topics."

Try it out!
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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Preordering Call of Duty - World at War (Special Edition) - Also a brief review of the multiplayer beta

I am excited about Call of Duty 5, and hence preordering Call of Duty - World at War (Special Edition) for the Xbox 360.

Unlike Call of Duty 4 (Modern Warfare) which was developed by InfinityWard, this version of the Activision franchise is developed by Treyarch.

I and the industry overall were excited by what InfinityWard was able to accomplish with CoD4. And a lot of us gamers were bummed out *a bit* about WW2 shooters and the announcement of CoD5. But after playing the multiplayer beta I was just about having as much fun as I had in CoD4 despite the WWII guns and environments. That was a joyful feeling. And Treyarch has taken CoD5 to the next level in various areas:

  • Better textures, lighting conditions
  • Gun Recoil feels to me, a bit more authentic than CoD4
  • More perks, levels and ways to achieve "XP" (stands for experience) points
  • Maps I feel are designed to allow a greater level of multiplayer action, I feel. Every nook, corner, area, post, open ground .. feel like they have been designed after putting a lot of thought into the process. CoD4 were awesome too. Yes, but CoD5 is everything CoD4 was, but a notch better

Concluding thoughts - CoD5 multiplayer beta seems intense and should be loads of fun for days or months, heck I can see myself playing it here and there even in late 2009, early 2010. It is no ground breaker in many areas. CoD4 is a tough nut to improve on. And WW2 settings are detailed, crisp and allow for intense action scenes. That just makes the game gritty and super fun. I don't think CoD5 will be able to rack up game of the year status by many editorial personalities, but it will rejuvenate the hearts of Call of Duty fans and multiplayer shooter fans in general. It's like that perfect sequel, which always the shadow of its ground breaking prequel.

I am "GooLagoon" btw on Xbox live. Feel free to add me to your Xbox Live friends list if you too plan to enjoy CoD5.

Oh, I almost forgot - Check this Treyarch webpage for inside scoop on how the flamethrower was modeled and brought to life by the game's designers.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Google Gadgets everywhere!!! Making a Gantt Chart with Google Docs

Great way to visualize and add graphs to google docs!

Thanks for the video!!

And thanks Google, for gadget support in google docs. Awesome stuff.

Gmail now has some support for gadgets, google toolbar has gadget support - google desktop has gadget support.

gadgets everywhere...!!! Androids everywhere!!


Monday, October 27, 2008

Gmail Labs and Innovation - Gadget support now - Soon maybe - Gmail customization API

Google and Google developers have shown immense innovation in the web based email client space - Gmail rules them all, and the new labs features are just plain adorable!

Oh, the Gmail team has given us capabilities to add google gadgets (holy!!) and some predefined google gadgets are available right off the bat - google calendar, docs.

Now, my prediction says, soon we will have an API for 3rd party developers to contribute customizations to Gmail and share with the community. Simple tweaks will be available, followed by more complicated plugins and extension features. Just wait and watch.

Thank you, Gmail team. I can not wait to write my own Gmail extension! Please give me access to the Gmail customization API.

More info on the gadget support at the Gmail Blog!

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Super Mario Rescues The Princess: Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade

Funny.. Poor princess peach..


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Monday, October 13, 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My most popular command line history items on my mac Terminal

[~]$ history | awk '{print $2}' | sort | uniq -c | sort -rn | head
95 c
74 l
67 cd
31 ssh
26 python
21 svn
19 cp
14 mv
11 rm

PS. Inspiration
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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Killcams for Call of Duty 4

Awesome! Thank you Infinity Ward! and boohoodman.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Gmail security tip - Always use https

Hi all,

I am glad many of you I know use GMail for your personal emails - it is a terrific web mail client. And here is a tip to increase the security of your emails. When you go to gmail, there are 2 types of urls - and Note the 's' in https. It stands for secure http and it is the same technology used by web sites accepting credit cards on the web like Amazon, for buying products.

Now here is the reason and the cool part - https secures (encrypted) everything between your computer and gmail servers, so nobody in the middle or around your home network can sniff web traffic. If you are using http, a smart chap can read and find out what you are reading and sending.

To avoid this, there is an excellent feature to secure your gmail so that it always uses https. Go to Gmail -> Settings -> scroll to the bottom and select the option - "always use https".

That's it. Now your gmail experience is secured, nobody except you can see what you are reading or sending. You will thank me for that :)

https is supported in most browsers (up to 99%) you will be using, so do not fret. And it is not supported on some old aunt's one, you shouldn't be reading your email! Remember http and sniffing network traffic and reading others email. Huhhhh scary!


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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

3 new mac ads available from Apple

3 new mac ads available from apple - stay in touch with apple tv ads (mac vs pc, iphone, etc..) by subscribing to this feed or visiting
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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Braid (Xbox 360 Arcade) is awesome and oh, such a charm

Braid is truly amazing, statisfying and complete treasure to own and play. It is Marioesque at first, but the differences soon start to appear and the prince's love story completely makes you run to find his lost princess.

The puzzles are extremely unique and the Prince of Persia Sands of Time, style rewind motion is such a pleasure. It encourages you to try out different things, and leaves off the frustration by restarting the stage or level from the beginning by simply allowing you to rewind and try, or more appropriately explore again.

Braid is a must have Xbox 360 arcade game and Gamespot recently gave them a 9.5/10 - which is their truly elite category - Halo, Gears of War and few others could only make it up there.

Anyway, check out the Braid demo, it is free, solve some multi-dimension puzzles, find missing pieces of jigsaw puzzles by hunting them in obscure locations and using those mushroom-like face animals to spring to higher levels.

Braid -
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Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Spinning Dancer optical illusion

The Spinning Dancer, also known as the silhouette illusion, is a kinetic, bistable optical illusion resembling a pirouetting female dancer. The illusion derives from an inherent ambiguity from the lack of visual cues for depth. There are other optical illusions that originate from the same or similar kind of visual ambiguity.

The Spinning Dancer -

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Suffix Arrays and other string algorithms

My friend Xian sent me a nice paper on "Using suffix arrays to compute term frequency and document frequency for all substrings" [PDF]

That got me learning more about Suffix arrays. I have encountered suffix and occasionally prefix arrays more in my career (ex. palindromes).. And I was glad to run my memory through it and refresh it at the same time.

That led me learning more about some other string algorithms categorized in Wikipedia. Fun stuff.

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© 2008 Vishal V. Shah. All rights reserved. Contents of this web site reflect my personal work and is not representative of my employer.