Monday, December 17, 2007

Upcoming Google Knol - a Wikipedia killer?

Google has just announced their latest upcoming application called 'Google Knol'. It's a tool for posting and sharing information in the form of articles. Much like Wikipedia, Google Knol just seems to be more social and focusing more on the author's name, and of course its 'Google' branded. 'Google branded' means Knol will have more higher rank results than the Wikipedia, or other sites in search results on general topics.

Users can share, rate, suggest edit, add contents to articles. There can be more than one article on a topic from different authors, unlike Wikipedia. In Wikipedia, all aurthors edit/enhance one article per topic. Wikipedia is 'topic centric' where as Google Knol will be 'author centric'.

Here's the intro at Google's official blog:
"The web contains an enormous amount of information, and Google has helped to make that information more easily accessible by providing pretty good search facilities. But not everything is written nor is everything well organized to make it easily discoverable. There are millions of people who possess useful knowledge that they would love to share, and there are billions of people who can benefit from it. We believe that many do not share that knowledge today simply because it is not easy enough to do that. The challenge posed to us by Larry, Sergey and Eric was to find a way to help people share their knowledge. This is our main goal."

So is this a Wikipedia killer? In my point of view, it's not gonna be an easy task for Google to takeover the popularity of Wikipedia anytime soon. They need something more jaw breaking (a feature, functionality or an idea) to do so. Well only time can tell the 'actual' story.. :).

More on Google's Blog:

Constructive comments by Roger Ehrenberg, who's not so optimistic about the success of Knol, is here:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Visual Studio.Net for free

Yes, many of us do not know this fact but there are free editions of the mighty Visual Studio IDE, the languages: Visual C++, Visual C#, Visual Basic and SQL Server. It's called the 'Express Editions'.

Visual Studio Express Editions (2005, 2008, etc) are free versions of Visual Studio professional editions with limitations on some professional and enterprise features. Targets of Express Editions are mostly beginners, hobbyist and students.

This very good strategy of Microsoft is definitely targeted to reach the mass market and make more programmers divert to or become Visual Studio developers. Open source tools, languages and operating systems are causing Microsoft to loose ground at an alarming rate over the last few years. The free editions are one of few and good steps of Microsoft against it.

Whatever the reasons for the express editions are, it's a great news for beginners, students and hobbyists. I've used C# express edition (2005) for a moderate sized application earlier this year and hardly noticed any significant changes. You can easily switch between the Visual Studio professional and express editions too. So, if you begin developing an application in Express Edition and want to move to professional edition later, it's a piece of cake!

Web site & downloads:

Ext JS 2.0 final is out

As the title says, Ext JS 2.0 final has been released on December 4, 2007. You can check it out and download it at

Ext JS 1.1 rocked my heart. I had used it in a bio-informatics web 2.0 application (basically a DNA sequence/template modification application with lots of complex business rules, built with .Net 2 and Ext JS). Ext JS 1.1 dramatically improved the application GUI over another GUI framework we used earlier.

Ext JS is definitely one of the best choices if you're planning for a heavy weight GUI based web application but may not be a good choice if you're planning for a lightweight application. The main reason behind this is the 'bluky' size of the library. To use all features of the library, you can include the full library in your application, which is around 580 KB for Ext JS 1.1.1 and 614 KB for Ext JS 2.0. In that case, the only thing may bother you, the lightweight lovers, 'a lot' is the load time of your page/application. It's definitely very noticeable in the slower speed internet connection (like dial-ups).

With Ext JS 1.1, it was difficult to choose the specific library parts of the library for any specific features or widgets, for example the nice window message box dialogs. 'Packages' didn't help much, or I do not know how to use them :). If you have any expectations from Ext JS 2.0 about being it any more lightweight or choosing specific library parts easily, it may disappoint you. But you'll definitely like the more dramatics Ext 2.0 has to offer over its predecessor.

Ext 2.0 offers newer components, layouts, better examples and a better documentation. It's worth of upgrading to it for your current web 2.0 application, if time permits.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Animoto - A.I. creates your music videos!

"Animoto is a web application that automatically generates professionally produced videos using patent-pending Cinematic Artificial Intelligence technology and high-end motion design. Each video is a fully customized orchestration of user-selected images and music. Produced in widescreen format, Animoto videos have the visual energy of a music video and the emotional impact of a movie trailer.

The heart of Animoto is its newly developed Cinematic A.I. technology that thinks like an actual director and editor. It analyzes and combines user-selected images and music with the same sophisticated post-production skills and techniques that are used in television and film. The technology takes into account every nuance of a song: the genre, song structure, energy, rhythm, instrumentation, and vocals. Whether it's punk, pop, hip-hop or a classical Stravinsky piece, every Animoto video is totally customized. Even videos generated with an identical set of images and music will each have a completely distinct set of motion design. No two videos are the same. They can be emailed, and embedded in pages on websites including social network sites like Facebook and MySpace."

The above text is taken from the Animoto web site.

So A.I. creates music videos for you! Can things be anymore cool? :) I guess this application will get huge popularity in a few days. YouTube fans won't wait to publish thousands of their own music videos, created with this, right away.

You can create only short length, 30 seconds videos for free but you can create as many as you want.

Check it out at

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Why Good Programmers Are Lazy and Dumb

Please check out this very interesting article, you'll surely be convinced that you're lazy and dumb and will realize why you've been coding so hard all these years :). I really liked this article. Here goes the first few lines from the article:

"I realized that, paradoxically enough, good programmers need to be both lazy and dumb.

Lazy, because only lazy programmers will want to write the kind of tools that might replace them in the end. Lazy, because only a lazy programmer will avoid writing monotonous, repetitive code – thus avoiding redundancy, the enemy of software maintenance and flexible refactoring. Mostly, the tools and processes that come out of this endeavor fired by laziness will speed up the production."