Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wolfram Alpha: Get your answers

After being dubbed the next Google killer - in one line, Wolfram Alpha is: It is certainly not a Google killer but will make Google really think about how it can improve presenting data.

The introduction screencast left all of us waiting for the launch on 7pm CST on last Friday. The screencast had raised the expectations and scores of thousands were eagerly awaiting its launch. To top the expectations, Wolfram had announced that it will video cast the release, which was a first of the kind for a service with such big expectations. Though it started with a small glitch, the computational knowledge-base search engine did quite well.

Wolfram Alpha is certainly impressive and has raised the bar with how the objective data can be computed in real time and facts presented in a neat format. I typed in some of the queries and Wolfram Alpha handled them exceptionally well:
  2. (a+b)^2
  3. Coimbatore India
I did have some no-showers/bloopers:
  1. first president of india
  2. common cold
The Verdict: Wolfram Alpha did amazingly well when given a mathematically corelated input or statistically inclined input. It still has to climb some mountains for Natural Language Processing (NLP).

But given the fact that it is still Alpha, Wolfram Alpha has a long way to go and has shown us all a new dimension. It may not be a immediate threat to Google, but will surely be one to Wikipedia.

Kudos to the team at Wolfram Alpha for a new relevation!

Twitter: I did see the real power of Twitter in action during the Wolfram release. On TweetDesk, I could get a consolidated view on what people were thinking about Wolfram Alpha instantly! Makes me more appreciative of Twitter!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Speed up VS 2005

VS2005 is always thirsty for more memory. There are a few tricks that could save up some RAM for you.

Speed up the launch of VS2005
  1. Disable the 'Start Page' - Tools->Options->Environment->Startup section
  2. Disable Splash screeen - Properties->Add parameter /nosplash to the target
  3. Close all unnecessary panels and tabs so that the IDE does not reload them on restart
More Options
  1. Turn off 'Track Changes' - Tools -> Options -> Text Editor
  2. Turn off 'Track Active Item' - Tools -> Options -> Projects & Solutions
  3. Turn off 'Auto Populate Toolbox' - Tools -> Options -> Windows Form Designer
HDD speed matters. 7200 r.p.m is better than a 5400 r.p.m. Read here to see why it's important.

And of course, having more memory helps :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Google Hosted JQuery

Roughly a year back, Google announced that it would host widely used open source JavaScript Libraries on their Content Distribution Network - jQuery, Prototype,, MooTools to name a few. Google suggests the use of their Google AJAX API Loader's google.load() method to gain application speed.

How to use in ASP.Net Application?

This is how the JQuery library could be loaded using Google AJAX API Loader's google.load() method.

There are certainly some benefits using Google's CDN
Decreased Latency

Caching - Better speed
The main advantage of using Google's CDN is they manage all the bug fixes, recent updates and provide a high speed access due to better caching, etc. The simple idea behind this is speed - the user's browser does not have to download multiple copies of JS libraries from different public facing websites.

Decreased latency
Certainly, you could make use of Google's distributed servers to download the JS files from a server located physically close to you.

Google takes out the pain of staying upto date with the source code, bug fixes, minifying and version changes.

However, there are certain things that a developer needs to be aware of before taking the road of Google CDN.
  1. What if Google goes down? Will your code be prepared to handle something like this. Well, if you will take care of it, you are all set!
  2. There will be a performance speedup only when the user happens to have those libraries loaded from some other site that uses google’s service

A Good Programmer Cartoon