Zaki Mirza’s Blog

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… About software and beyond!

Late Night Bloggin’: Windows Live Mail vs GMail Part 1

I have been planning to write about this topic for a while now but couldnt get time to research and write. Anyways, i still dont have time and havnt researched a lot but from a lay man’s point of view (and from the point of view of a designer/developer that i am) let me compare the two (dominant) email services for the next few days.

I do not want to go into the history and background of the services. There is plenty of information about that available elsewhere. It is just “a google” away. I shall be focusing on the following major points keeping my post short and precise:

a) Graphical User Interface
b) Useability
c) Features
d) Spam Filtering
e) Anything else i can think of … and conclusion

This, by no means, is meant to discourage or create a bias about the two companies involved. (Microsoft and Google) and this is not a “Microsoft vs Google” post. Both are great companies which provide good set of services.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Comparisons, general, Late Night Blog, Live mail vs Gmail, , , , , ,

Late Night Bloggin’: Bentley and the ‘double’ trouble quiz

Working at Bentley has been a great experience for me. Partly because of the great enviornment but mostly because of the problems I faced during coding one of the new features in the Microstation PlantSpace Designer Series. The problems ranged from  creating quick documentation solution to document lots of vb6 codebase in python to dealing with a massive Microstation API to solving a series of problems that required inventing new data-structures, dealing with graphs and adjacency lists and developing algorithms to traverse the graph in a specific manner which wernt supported in the API. (i shall be writing about them soon).

Since i was dealing with 3d elements, handling points in 3d space was unavoidable. Engineering applications (such as the CAD/CAM category, in which PSDS lies as well) are designed to cater a divesture of standards in terms of metrics used. In the core of the software though a uniform format is used to represent values. For example a point in 3d space can be represented in many differnet formats (inches, feet, fractions etc). The format used to represent the same point in the underlying software architecture in PSDS is usually a ‘double’ (since we’re working in C – or a subset of C called MDL: microstation developer language, and yes i was creating my own adjacency lists in C and traversing them recursively). So basically the x,y and z coordinates of the point are representated as a structure of 3 doubles.

One way to compare two points (and well the most obvious way) is to calculate the distance between the two points using the distance formula. Thats all well and solved and thats not the quiz. The quiz is, given two double values, how do you compare the two to N decimal places? In other words how would you compare two points to see if they are “close enough”. (and that can be anything from being equal to 5 decimal places or being absolutely equal).

Filed under: Late Night Blog, quiz, , ,

Late night Bloggin’: Refactoring myself

Just been going through re-organizing my blog. Reading articles by Jakob Neilsen (Useability Guru) has pretty much changed my thoughts about blogging, how to percieve it and how to go on about doing it. He is right in his articles (here, especially) that the web really needs proper, well formed, well thought and specialised content rather than 2 second rants about something you found annoying or loved like Scoble’s over obsession with everything iPhone and everything about blogging. So i was here, seeing my categories list and I see just too many categories with single entries. I have narrowed down the categories to the following major ones:

Blog Log: My category for stuff I write about others’s blogs. Like this one.
General: For general talks. Like this one, again.
Code and Programming: Code talk and snippets.
Design: Problem (and software) design articles/comments.
Late Night Blog: Quick rants about something i found really useful.
Troubleshooter: For articles related to troubleshooting problems others found and approached me for, and my own fixes.

Apart from these major ones, there are short categories for Linux, MS Windows, MS Visual Studio, OpenGL, C++, and .Net.

So comming back to the topic “refactoring myself”. If you havn’t been studying refactoring then i highly recommend that you do. It will add up to your skillset of software engineering. I really can’t go deep into the topic right now (and how useful a skill it is) here in this post, nor do I have many cool links to hookup here for refactoring but I know you know your way to google. (Just for information, one of my favourite shortkut keys in Visual Studio 2005 C# workspace is the F2. It renames all the instances of the variable/function/etc currently my cursor is at). There are a lot of features in VS2k5 to explore for refactoring for beginners. One of the great articles i read today is the article at One more pointless blog called Refactor yourself. Eddie approaches the refactoring phenomenon from a totally different angle but does it very beautifully. A must read for anyone, not just software specialists.

As for the weekend, its really not very intresting. I’m really intrested in taking care of my new house so been searching some proper toolkits to have here, here and here. After an hour long searching in google I found some nice links.

Reading my news feeds is getting to be like life to me. I’v just been reading Ali Eteraz recent articles. One i found fairly intresting and thought provoking is the Geneology of prostrating (Muslim silence since 9/11).  Apart from all the MI and ISI covert battle shit being related to the Lal Masjid issue by my uncles and their wives, Ali Eteraz has his own views on its end here. I find a lot of consonance with his school of thought. Keep it up Ali.

Recent entries on my reader include A list apart, some Adobe blogs, and The News feed(which i dont read at all, i just added it because of the lal masjid issue. Did I say on my blog that I literally hate reading newspaper news, especially here. They never fail to disappoint me… its all just about deaths and shit).

A GREAT news I recently heard is that Rico Mariani (Someone i really lookup to meeting in this life) has finally taken charge as the Chief Architect of Visual Studio. I hope he’s not too late to take charge for Orcas and hope to see some great innovation comming up next Feb’ when microsoft releases Visual Studio 2008, Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 etc. Way to go Rico, i wish you the best! I’m so happy, i wonder why. hehe!

So much for the latenight blog, im hoping to write a few articles this summer on my blog. Lets when I get the click.

Filed under: Blog Log, general, Late Night Blog, , , ,

Late Night Bloggin’: Do bugs bug bugs?

Seriously, do bugs bug bugs? Can they really? Because if bug can bug bugs, then bug itself wont get bugged by a bug. It’s used to being bugged. And secondly, can a bug bug itself??

In software that happens all the time. An initial bug can bug later bugs. They start bugging each other and we get “oh it just worked a while ago on roh-53… I dunno why it doesn’t on koh-54”. The bug really is in not realizing the inner bug of ones self. Its the bug really that stops one from improvising and improving ones self while at work. We all have a tendency to persue the easiest of paths. We need to get the work done, the code written, the assignment off our desks. What gives us that resistance? Its the bug of self denial and procastrination. All it requires is a Bug of Passion and Persistance to Bug the first Bug off.

There are more exotic kinds of bugs found in all sort of …. ermm… places! Just a little thought of the night.

So….. Do bugs bug bugs?

edit: A must read article on refactoring one’s self.

Filed under: Late Night Blog, software

late night bloggin’ : Anomorphosis

anomorphosis by julian beever

Late night again, but this time with something more intresting.  See that picture up there? no its not an illusion or a 3d pic. Its julian beever’s anomorphosis pavement painting. yes me too, i thought it was crap! but then i researched into it and found this on wikipedia. Also found out that there is this another guy kurt wenner who does something similar. Im still researching about the science behind this art, till then take a look at this. (image courtesy of wikipedia)

Filed under: art, Late Night Blog

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