Give the user the chance to ask for forgiveness

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fish and chips in bagWhile eating my fish & chips I found this quote from the article "What reading Tufte won't teach you":-

Give the user the chance to ask for forgiveness rather than forcing them to confirm a (destructive) action. Gmail and other web applications are pioneering this one. Rather than asking something like “Are you sure you want to delete this conversation?” they provide a success notification “The conversation has been deleted” with an “undo” button next to it. The insight here is that, although the application must provide a way to immediately abort a destructive action like this, 99% of the time, users actually intended to perform the destructive action. That should be the easy, one-click case, and aborting the destructive action should be the rarer, two-click case.

If the application pesters users with a confirmation dialog for destructive actions, users memorize a multi-step destructive command: click delete, then click OK — and when they accidentally delete the wrong thing, they miss the chance to abort. Many, many applications are guilty of this.

Text Analytic Tools from IBM

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

IBM have recently released a set of interesting text analysis tools for Eclipse. The description of IBM LanguageWare is very promising, and will undoubtedly be helpful for anybody working in text analytics. It'll probably have been very helpful when I was working on the Newspaper Information Extraction project.

From the IBM Website:-

IBM® LanguageWare® is a set of run-time libraries and an easy-to-use Eclipse-based development environment for building custom text analyzers in various languages. Deployable in Apache UIMA, these analyzers can expose the information buried in text to any application. The Eclipse-based tools makes creating analyzers simple and fast, even for non-technical users. The tools make it easy to build dictionaries, ontologies, and rules for identifying key information, relationships and meaning.

The package is a complete development environment that requires no specialist knowledge of the underlying technologies of natural language processing or UIMA; therefore, you can focus on concepts and relationships of interest and develop analyzers that extract them from text without writing any code...

IBM LanguageWare® provides a full range of text analysis functions. It is useful in solutions that mine facts from large repositories of text and it makes it easy to create, manage and deploy analysis engines and their resources.

Free software for windows

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Check out this list of open source (Free) windows software for a wide list of applications. From the obvious Firefox to Freemind note taking, VLC media player, media coder for ripping CDs and DVDs, some games and developer tools.

Quick and Easy way to backup DVDs

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I can't explain why when I borrow DVDs from friends my usually dormant sysadmin nature kicks in. All of a sudden I get this urge make a backup of their DVDs just in case. We all know that backups should be kept offsite so from the kindness of my heart I offer to keep the backup copy of the DVD myself. After all they wouldn't want to lose their collection if their house goes on fire.

For some cruel reason some movie companies try to dampen my altruistic spirit and make it very difficult to make backups by adding encryption to the DVDs. Guess they're right when they say that there's no room for kindness these days.

Well, I keep doing my best to help friends, and until today these are the most effective ways to copy DVD's. I'm in no way an expert on this, in fact I keep asking my brother how to do it and the reason I'm writing this down is not to have to spend another hour on the phone with him.

Required Software:

  • Clone DVD
  • DVD Shrink
  • DVD Decrypter

1st attempt: Use Clone DVD to make a clone of the DVD and copy it. This is the easiest way to copy but the least likely to succeed.

2nd attempt: If Clone DVD doesn't work then try DVD shrink. (This never worked for me but apparently it sometimes does)

3rd attempt: Extract the DVD files using DVD Decrypter than use Nero (or any other writer software) to burn on DVD. If the extracted files are greater than the DVD storage size then use Clone DVD to write the extracted files to DVD.

Play the ripped DVD
You can play the ripped DVD without having to burn it using VideoLan. This software lets you to play a DVD from a folder retaining the menu structure and chapter markers of the DVD. (Link found through hackszine)

Tip 30: Word Count in vi

Friday, November 17, 2006

You can execute shell commands from vi by typing ! [shell command]. To count the number of words in the current document run the wc (word count) program as a shell command in vi and specify % as the wc argument. The % references the current open file in vi. The file must be saved for this to work otherwise, a file not found exception is returned.

To use the result of any shell output command use the :r! instead of the ! before the shell command. This will append the output of the command to the end of the current open file.

Sources: Vim tips: Working with external commands

Tip 26: Play Quicktime and Real Player files without installing the applications

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I find RealPlayer and Quicktime very bulky useless applications I could happily live without. The problem is I can't because these files are everywhere. At last I found a solution, install the codec files to play these files without installing the whole applications.

Once the codecs are installed you can still access QuickTime and RealMedia content through the browser (IE/Mozilla/Opera) and play offline files using the standard media player.

QuickTime Alternative

Real Media Alternative

Tip 22: Tracking down large files

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Do you want to know which files are filling your disk? Do it with ease and style with SequoiaViewer. This free small application maps out files on disk and represents them as squares whose size is dependent on the size of the file. Files are bundled together logically according to the containing folder and different colour schemes can be selected to colour code different file types. If you scroll the mouse on the square you'll see the name of the file.

Sequoia screenshot

If you like this unusual information representation you might want to check this site: information aesthetics

Source: Computer Active: PC Tuning Solutions

This article is part of the Tip of the day project

Tip 21: Why I use Winamp and not other media players

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Global Hotkeys
emp_skin.jpgWhen you enable global hotkeys from options->preferences->global hotkeys you can play, pause, stop, volume control, etc. just by pressing the hotkey buttons without having Winamp in the foreground. I find this extremely handy when I'm working and need to turn off music without activating Winamp.

5 Cool Winamp Skins

  • MMD3 - Quite simply the best
  • Aqua X - Simple Mac Style
  • EMP - Compact, accessible and with an extensive colour scheme.
  • Lord of the rings - The only themed skin I've ever used
  • Fire Elemental - Excellent visuals, poor usability

Tip 16: Note taking software

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

My criteria for research collection or note taking software is this:-

  • Can add web content easily with 1 or 2 clicks from both IE and Firefox
  • Can add a text selection or full web page
  • Not restricted to the web browser
  • Keeps reference to the source
  • Easily syncronise between different copies running on different machines
  • Keeps all notes organised in a single place
The software I use to satisfy all these criteria is Evernote. I've been using Evernote since March '05 and even if there was a time I was about to abandon it for Notepad2, I'm still using it today.

Tip 5: Date Arithmetic in Excel

Friday, October 20, 2006

If you want to find the difference between two dates in Excel you can use a normal subtraction formula. Ex. =A1-A2.

This returns the difference in days but autoconverts it into a date. The converted date is incorrectly formatted so to get the number of days between the two dates change the cell format to general (type Ctrl+Shift+~).

If you want to get the number of years between the two dates divide by 365.25 and round up by 1 decimal place. Ex. =ROUND((A1-A2)/365.25,1).

Source: Excel Timesaving Techniques for dummies - Greg Harvey

This article is part of the Tip of the day project

Good Reads

Friday, December 9, 2005

I'm not posting too much nowadays and the excuse I'm using with my writing soul is that I'm focusing on doing things rather than writing about doing them. Today I've managed to read longish posts and it was time well spent, so I'll share:-

Software usage update

Saturday, December 3, 2005

Promissing new blog
Nev n Dave - Promising blog with comic strips and good tips

Downloads this week
Firefox 1.5 - Allows tab reordering but invalidates most of your previous extensions
Notepad 2 - Notepad on steroids retaining its speed.

Frustration of the week
Installing Gnome 2.12 from source - It's taking to much time compiling all the dependent libraries required for garnome. Hassle.

Consolidated adoption
Pluck - Moved all my work feeds to pluck. Now I can my work feeds from home. - This makes browsing and juggling between 3 different computers much easier.

Recent abandonment
Evernote - I didn't quite continue using this tool even though it's fantastic. Notepad, (actually Notepad2 now) reigns supreme

The Battle of the Readers

Friday, October 28, 2005

I've never been an avid news reader but with the advent of blogging all this change and like many others I started a quest just the right RSS Newsreader. For the uninitiated RSS is a simple XML based technology by which content (normally text but not limited to) is published in a machine readable format. For more information on RSS check out Wikipedia's RSS page. News readers are the programs that automatically poll RSS files to retrieve their content to facilitate the delivery of information to the user. The primary advantage of RSS is that it is an information pushing technology which means that information is sent to the user not waiting for the user to fetch the information himself.

Newsgator - Newsgator was my first RSS love and I've been loyal to it since the times when RSS was as popular as my mom. The one and only reason I use Newsgator is its formidable integration with Outlook which makes reading news as easy as reading e-mail, with the additional advantage of not giving any clue to your manager that you're reading blogs at work. I tried the web version of Newsgator a couple of times but it was too slow for my tastes.

Pluck - Pluck is my weapon of choice at home where I prefer using a web based internet reader. This was one of the first web based readers I tried and since then I didn't feel the need to change. The advantage pluck has over other readers is its extensions that integrate with IE or Firefox thus making it much faster than other web readers with the additional functionality browser components can provide. Recently I was about to ditch pluck because of some very annoying problems with the Firefox extension but as soon as I tried the new Windows version (Pluck 2.0) I reconsidered. This is the only reason I still use IE but it's a damn good reason.

Google Reader - Google Reader was the contender against pluck when I was looking for an alternative but the functionality of Google's solution wasn't anywhere near that offered by Pluck.

FeedLounge - I've read about FeedLounge in Rand's Information Report and the screen shots on the main site look pretty promising. I think it might appeal for people who're still looking for a good reader.

Digg - For me, digg is a crossbreed between a content aggregator and social bookmarking application, and even if it isn't a news reader per se it still fits in the category of news delivery. You can use digg in two ways; say you found a really cool technology related article and you want others to know about it, all you've got to do is digg the article by submitting the article's URL to digg. Other people then go digging for news and see the article that you posted, if they like it then they digg it too to increase its rating. If on the other hand you want to know what are the hottest tech articles at the moment just go into the digg main page and check out the articles with the highest hits. Really Nifty!

Standalone readers - I'm not a big fan of standalone readers like Feeddemon and co. as I already have enough applications running simultaneously. Standalone readers might appeal for dedicated news lovers without serious levels of NADD.

Do you think that the news reader you use is better than these? Go ahead and post your comments.

Will people ever get fed up of Google

Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Google LogoI was wondering how long will it take for people to start developing an antipathy towards Google in the same way we have the tendency to rebel against over-successful organisations like say, Microsoft or Manchester United. Let's face it, we tend to have a soft spot for the underdogs.

Google had just released Google Reader, an RSS reader developed in the now famous Google AJAX style when I started writing this article, but did the world really need another RSS reader (check out the exhaustive list at the RSS Compendium)? I haven't had the time to review Google Reader in depth, though I have to say that the interface looks clean and very functional. There were some people who claimed that it was buggy and slow. Google slow? I thought that these two words were incompatible, but then Google spoiled us by being fast and efficient.

Apart from Google Reader, Google also released Google Talk (an IM client), Google Desktop 2 and Google Blog Search. All these four tools are all well established technologies, it seems that Google is just improving on the ideas everybody likes and adding the Google touch of class (and AJAX). Would you bet against a Flickr like tool in the pipeline? We'll wait and see.

Another thing, did you notice how so many people complain about popup ads or banners or other foul looking adverts on pages yet nobody ever says anything about Google ads that are littering every page on the web. Google does this advertising so unobtrusively that it seems not to matter to anyone. Mind you not that anyone is going to pay heed to the ads when the can get to 2Gb of free e-mail or a faster news reader or a super compatible IM client. I think Google is managing to thread the fine line of a win-win situation by generating loads of revenue from ads and at the same time delivering excellent value quality software to its fans.

Warning: Motherload is Contagious

Monday, October 10, 2005

Don't click on this link, Motherload, if you don't want to get infected with this contagious game.

Looking for company

Monday, October 10, 2005

If anyone is going to attend the software test and performance conference in NY next month send me a mail. My company is poor enough to send me alone and I wouldn't mind knowing somebody before the conference.

In the mean time these links are going to be useful for the rest of the week.
Pavel's Online Presence - Pavel's software engineering oriented blog
Testing Reflections - The title says it all

Mindspill is plucker friendly

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Now that I've got the facility to read websites on my Treo I've tested reading mindspill after extracting it with Plucker. For the uninitiated Plucker is an offline website reader which extracts webpages and compiles them into a pdb file that can be uploaded on the palmtop.

At the moment I'm watching a documentary about the death of the Italian cyclist Marco Pantani, who died of an overdose in February 2004. The doctor who performed the autopsy claimed that in his blood there was 6 times more cocaine than a human body could possible survive.

Deep thought from the Penguin Girl

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I'm a bit late on catching up with the Linux User Show but in show 8 Kelly Penguin Girl expressed a thought worth of a computer guru.

"The reason why people like Linux is because it allows you to tell the computer what to do. The reason why people hate Windows is that it only has a certain space that you're allowed to manipulate within its realm and that's it."

Kelly ditch you job and get into computing full time, the industry needs more people like you. The guys at the Linux Link Tech Show also realised this. You're making a name for yourself.

While talking about Kelly Penguin Girl, I tried to search for the string Kelly Penguin Girl in Google and Kelly's real site (the one about art) turned up in the first page. The great thing is that there isn't anything mentioned about "Penguin Girl" in the site yet Google still managed to identify it.

Will this mean the death of notepad?

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

What's you favourite note taking practice, do you fill your desktop with dozens of notepad documents or keep a single document with random notes? Until a couple of weeks ago these were the only note taking options I had until I came across Evernote. Evernote is a free note taking program that tries to look like a real notebook and acts as a very useful one.

As you'd expect from such a program Evernote allows you to create notes, organise them with tags, and search for notes. The greater benefits of Evernote though is when it comes to take notes from web pages. Evernote interfaces with both IE and Firefox (through the Web Clipper Extension) to allow you to directly cut and paste text, images or whole web pages with through the right click menu. Gone are the days that I'll have to bookmark a whole site for a sentence never to return to it again. The other feature that completes the usefulness of this program is the export facility. Evernote exports the notebook's contents into a single XML file, which can then be imported and merged into another instance of Evernote on a different machine, thus making it very practical to transport notes between different computers.

The only pity with this great product is that there is no Linux version, otherwise it's the best product I've come across in the last few months.

Get $25

Friday, July 29, 2005

Let's get symbiotic - Get $25 free and promote me by registering to Green Zap through this link

Knoppix is mmmmmmmmm ....

Friday, July 8, 2005

Knoppix is as easy as ABC and as useful as a Swiss knife, it's just too good. The whole thing about it is that it's a live CD which means that you pop it in your CD-ROM, reboot and off you go with a 600Mb Linux installation that's got all the software you'd normally use on a personal home PC and more, with loads of eye candy and user friendliness. In the words of Kelly Penguin Girl, eye candy is good (I took of my sys admin hat here). Apart from being a desktop Linux tool it's got hundreds of other useful uses;

  • you want to browse the web and loose any trace of the history – now you can with Knoppix
  • you haven't got any rights to do anything on your work PC because the windows machine is tightly secured and you've got no Administrator password - run Knoppix;
  • you need to run a program on a machine and you don't want to install the program - run it from Knoppix;
  • you want a mobile software repository so you can use any machine as your own familiar machine - customize Knoppix and run it;
  • one of your web servers died and you need a quick backup fixer - run Knoppix to minimize down time ...

Start using this great tool and the ideas keep flowing and flowing. Knoppix Hacks from O'Reilly has another 100 hacks to get you started.

Linux Linux Everywhere

Thursday, June 16, 2005

At the moment I'm having Linux for breakfast, lunch and dinner in a desperate attempt to learn anything about Linux in preparation for the RHCE course next week. The more I learn the more I realise how little I know, and how unlikely I'm going to pass this exam. At least though its fun learning, and I'm gradually uncovering the huge community of Linux Users which seems bigger and bigger every day. These are some interesting sites I came across these few days.

Has got loads of Linux live CD's. Live CD's are Linux distributions that run only from a single CD without touching anything of your current OS. I've downloaded a Kill Bill edition of SLAX and Kanotix both of which were very easy to install and use.

With all these distribution you need something to help you choose. Distrowatch is the answer.

LUG Radio
The site of the most popular Linux Radio show around. Worth downloading some podcasts there's much to learn from hear (including some swear words).

The Linux User Show
Home of the best podcast I've listened to till now. This was the first show but I'm eager to hear what Jon has to offer. Highly recommended
Download any Linux Distribution from here

Really Linux
For those who're still new to the Linux world this is a friendly introductory site to this new world.

Podcasts are cool

Sunday, June 12, 2005

This podcast thing got on my nerves so I decided to check out what the fuss is all about. First of all thankfully podcasts have nothing to do with iPod as the name suggests. This was the first misconception and barrier blocking me from checking out podcasts as I'm still one of those who are still immune to the iPod craze. The crudest definition of podcasts is that they are audio files (mp3/ogg etc) with audio shows (i.e. similar to radio shows). The difference between podcasts and radio is that they are not live so you can download them anytime you want. The other difference is that podcasts can be delivered automatically via RSS in a similar ways blogs are downloaded to news readers but this is just an additional benefit. Some software that does is iPodder and FeedDemon. For a much better description of what podcasts are you check out this post – Podcasting is not radio. These are some sites that can help you start listening to podcasts.