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Sunday, April 18, 2010

QtCreator is great...

 but it still has a long way to go in terms of improving usability. The build times are 3 to 4 times that of NetBeans. The debug functionality gets disabled sometimes for no reason. And you can't select multiple files in the project window.
All these things make the experience of using QtCreator a bit mediocre. If these minor issues are addressed, this would be one of the best IDE's for C++ development.

Strange AdSense Banner

I blog about a lot of topics but I just can't figure out why Google thought an ad for abattoir machinery would fit in with the content, specially on a page with a post about babies :D

Friday, April 16, 2010

Gorillaz's Plastic Beach is great for putting babies to sleep

I'm in the habit of playing some music when ever I have to put my son (whose 9 months old)  to sleep, mainly because it cancels out most of the background noises which would otherwise catch the little guy's attention.
I try to keep track of the number of songs it takes till he goes in to a deep sleep which serves as a metric which could be used to select which one to play on different occasions.
In this regard, Plastic Beach works exceptionally well. I play it with no shuffle and my son falls asleep by about the third song (White Flag Ft. Kano, Bashy & The Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music.. I love this track).
Other albums I've tried out, according to each ones sleep power :) :

1. Sade - Soldier of Love
2. 500 Days Of Summer (OST)
3. Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown
3. Bee Gees - Their Greatest Hits- The Record Disc 1
3. Timbaland - Presents Shock Value 2
3. Chris Brown - Graffiti
4. Katharine Mcphee - Unbroken
5. One Republic - Waking Up

"Soldier of Love" is the album to put babies to sleep. I usually play it when he's sleeping to help him relax and cancel external noises (like me bashing on the keyboard), and it works great.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Apple Branding vs. Micorosoft Branding

I recently read two articles, one which detailed apple's branding strategy and how it has been able to build it's image and develop an almost cult like following, and the other which focused on Microsoft not being able to maintain it's brand image after the realease of Windows Vista.

 I started wondering about how Apple has been able to create an emotional bond with most of it's customer base after the extremely successful launch of the iPad. The detailed breakdown of the hardware shows that it's nothing but a faster iPhone with a larger screen. But a lot of people have praised it as being the "next big thing in portable computing". How's it that Apple's able to push out prodducts with minor changes and generate so much enthusiasm amongst the public?

As article 1 above mentions;

"It's like having a good friend. That's what's interesting about this brand. Somewhere they have created this really humanistic, beyond-business relationship with users and created a cult-like relationship with their brand. It's a big tribe, everyone is one of them. You're part of the brand."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Infected by Malware-gen... again

I've had my fair share of encounters with this annoying virus. It first infected my computer at the University, spread to my home computer and later to that of my girl friend's. I got rid of the first two after a lot of work, but by that time Rasini's computer had some RAM issues and wasn't being used.
That was 4 years ago. My girlfriend is now my wife and we have a 9 month old son. Last week I was able to revive Rasini's dormant computer by fixing a new cooling fan and messing around with the cables. It still had the malware but I kept putting off installing any antivirus software on it for various reasons (mainly because I was lazy :)).
Yesterday while using my laptop, Chrome started giving me the "Aww.. snap" message. One of the things mentioned in the official google solutions page  was to check if the antivirus software was messing with it so I paused my  Kaspersky virus guard. After not being able to fix the Chrome issue, I ended up reinstalling it. But I forgot to restart the antivirus protection. While I was out, my wife had plugged in a pen which was used with the old computer in to my laptop to get the installation of Foxit reader. When I got back, things were looking a bit weird. My internet connection was showing a lot of uploads so I tried bringing down some processes and restarting. After the restart, explorer didn't show up (which is a typical symptom of Malware-gen infection) so I ended up restarting the process. The worst part was that I couldn't start Kaspersky. I knew then that I had gotten infected.
I was able to detect and delete most of the infected files by installing Avast Anti-virus and running a full system scan and a boot time scan. But I still get warnings of infected files once in a while so I guess it'll be some time before I'm completely rid of the nasty little fellow...

The results from my boot-time scan

A scan of the USB pen drive which infected my laptop

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Make every line of code count when writing "test" code

Yeah yeah.. you're just making "temporary" changes to test something out and you'll "re-write" it if it works out. Put a bit of effort in to cleaning up any non-sense (there'll be plenty)  as you go on and try to make it look "professional" 'cos chances are that the change will become "permenant" and you won't rewrite it till the next major refactoring session.
It's something that happens in most main software development projects. The developers test things out, try to tweak the system and improve performance. When the project managers see this, they're gonna want it in every system that they have and they would want it "right now". You'll be lucky to get enough time to copy and paste you're code (if that's actually necessary). Re-writing or re-designing won't be an option. So you're "temporary" code is gonna end up in the product source. if you don't want some ass hole to dig it up a few years (or months or weeks ) later and make fun of you, make sure that you write great code no matter what you do.
It'll save you a lot of time and the chance of getting mocked by some smart ass that you don't like.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Best Free Online E-Book Catalogs

There are several notable e-book catalogs which offer free e-books which belong to a wide array of categories, such as Novels, Poetry, Science, Fantasy etc. They are a great way to catch up on classics that you missed out and to discover fresh titles by self-publishing authors. 
I've given a list of these below.
(There are several more sites which would turn up on a Google search, but they are filled with ads and propaganda material and don't contain a lot of actual e-books)

The most famous service amongst the ones listed above would be Project Gutenburg. It was first of it's kind when it was first envisioned (and implemented) in 1971. It contains over 30000 free e-books, but it's not the most eye catching or user friendly site you'll ever see.

FeedBooks and ManyBooks might not have the same amount of content as Project Gutenburg, but they offer what it lacks in eye candy. The sites are intuitive and user friendly and you could search for titles by subject or author. You could also browse through the titles under various categories. I personally prefer to use ManyBooks over  FeedBooks but that's purely a personal choice since both these sites are similar in most aspects.

You could use FBReader to browse, download and read titles from these sites.