Monday, December 25, 2006

Windows Vista Sample Music

Bringing you... Windows Vista Sample Music. They are a total of 11 files (in WMA format), across a spectrum of different genres. Get them here.

(Thanks to Pak for this.)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

HanWorks Research wishes all readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

(Image source: Wikipedia)

2006 has been an exciting year on the technological front. Chances are, 2007 will be an even more promising year for the technology market. Since our inception, HanWorks Research has accumulated over 350 posts. We will like to take the opportunity during this holiday season to reach out to our readers. If you have any feedback on HanWorks Research or suggestions on how we can improve things in the coming year, please drop us an email or a comment.

Many thanks, and have a wonderful holiday!

New Adobe Icons Sucks

Above, you can see the new Adobe icons, and the overwhelming opinion is that the icons sucks.
1. Having 2 letters (looks like a periodic table?) as an icon does not bring out the idea of what the application represents. Just by looking at the new Adobe Icons, how on earth am I suppose to know what is AE, Sb or En? They are meaningless.
2. Adobe has always pushed itself to be at the forefront of graphics design. Its kind of ironic and sad that the new icons do not reflect Adobe's vision.
3. What about non-english users? Chinese users are going to have a hard time deciphering which applications those icons represent. With a staggering 29 two-lettered symbols to familiarise with on the "wheel-o-icons", one is going to have a hard time.
4. Iconography should transcend culture and language. The "wheel-o-icons" appear to be "generated." The icons seem to be created by a programmer rather than a graphic designer.

Adobe should really do something, even the new Microsoft Office 2007 icons are intuitive.

Anyway check out Adobe Kuler, which allows you to explore colours. You can search, create and share colour themes online. Launch it now.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Jajah - Free calls

Jajah is another VoIP service, except that its different from Skype.

Jajah Web connects existing traditional landline or mobile phones with calls that are set up via Jajah's Web site. Callers type in their own number and their desired destination number in a Web form. The Jajah service first rings the caller. After the caller picks up the phone the destination number is then dialled and the connection is established.

Jajah claims that their service works with any standard web browser. It does not require a broadband connection, but it is necessary to have internet access to originate the call.

(Source: Wikipedia)


Currently, one can go to their website for a trial. The trial lasts for only 5 minutes per originating phone number.

One can also sign up for the service for free and a certain credit will be automatically given. Registered users also enjoy Free Global Calling.

JAJAH Free Global Calling allows you to make free local and international phone calls. It applies to land line and mobile calls to and within: the United States, Canada, China, Hong Kong and Singapore; and it applies to landline calls to and within Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, the UK, Germany, France, Italy and most other European nations.

It applies when both call participants are registered and active JAJAH users. In countries where free phone calls are not available, or if someone is calling a non-JAJAH member, calls are subject to JAJAH’s regular low rates.

The free service depends on users paying for other Jajah services and it depends on people using JAJAH in a “fair and reasonable” way. Of course, there are several conditions for the call to be free (Read this page). Another point to take note is that Jajah is giving free calls for any registered user to any landlines in the world on 25 Dec 2006. So I realised that one way to 'make active' your account for 2 weeks will be to use register and call someone on Christmas day for free.

Anyway some clarifications (on how Jajah works) from the forums:
Technically speaking, when you initiate a call through JAJAH, from the phone company's perspective it is like you are accepting an incoming call. Normally phone companies do not charge for incoming calls, but if you normally pay for incoming calls, the same will apply with JAJAH. The payment for the calls initiated by JAJAH is done separately from your regular phone bill directly to JAJAH.

Also if you are outside your mobile provider’s coverage, certain fees, called “roaming fees” will apply. This additional charge is by your cellular carrier and it is paid to him, and not to JAJAH

The one BIG advantage of Jajah to other VoIP services like Skype is that it would be possible to use it even with a slow dial-up connection (which is too slow for voip).

See also: Interview with Roman Scharf, CEO of Jajah

Friday, December 15, 2006

Flickr Photo of the Day: White Menorah

White Menorah, originally uploaded by oskay
A DIY mini-LED menorah for hanukkah. These are "regular" size, 5 mm diameter LEDs; they take up a lot more room than that tiny chip does.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Of Beer and Diapers

Urban legend has it that a large supermarket chain "did an analysis of customers' buying habits and found a statistically significant correlation between purchases of beer and purchases of nappies (diapers in the US). "
It was theorized that the reason for this was that fathers were stopping off at Wal-Mart to buy nappies for their babies, and since they could no longer go down to the pub as often, would buy beer as well. As a result of this finding, the supermarket chain is alleged to have the nappies next to the beer, resulting in increased sales of both.
This urban legend has grown to become one of the most famous exemplar of the usage of data mining. (Anyway, correlation does not imply causality!)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Adobe Reader 8 Debuts

Adobe has released Adobe Reader 8, which sprouts an entirely new interface and a slightly faster start up time. Scrolling is a lot smoother and comfortable as well. Still, the reader eats up more than 50 MB of memory when in use, as compared 8 MB for Foxit Reader, which starts up blazingly fast. (So if you have not done so, download Foxit Reader and give it a spin.)

Anyway, the PDF file in the above screenshot is the presentation "The State of the Internet", presented by Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley at the recent Web 2.0 Conference.

And if you are bored you can always take a look at funny videos.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Subservient Chicken

The Subservient Chicken is an example of viral marketing by Burger King. You can make the man (dress in a weird chicken outfit) do lots of stuff. Commands you may want to try: Walk, Sleep, Laugh, Smoke, Burger, Sing, Pray, Fly, etc [The videos are pre-recorded.]

Its a laughing stock. Crap videos, but great chicken.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Recommended Reading

Once in a while, an good book pops by. Once in blue moon, I put up a list of recommended reading (the last time I officially did this was a year ago). Thus, below is my list of recommended reading. Here goes...

1. The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture (by John Battelle)
Its an insightful book, dedicated not only to Google, but also the past, present and future of Internet search.

2.The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century (by Thomas L. Friedman)
I recently profiled this book.

3. Freakonomics (by Steven Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner)
This book is rather "old", but not everyone has read it!

4. To Cut a Long Story Short (by Jeffrey Archer)
Jeffrey Archer is the master of short stories. This new instalment contains a few "true stories" written in the entertaining Archer style.

5. The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More (by Chris Anderson)
I have yet to get my hands on this book, but the Amazon reviews have been promising.

I have tried to put together a list of books from different genres. Most of these books are inter-disciplinary, but all of them have one thing in common - they are not boring (at least to me), thought-provoking and shouldn't be too hard to follow (think "Smart words, interesting ideas").

Others (these are available online):
1. - I recently chanced upon this site. There are a couple of manifestos that are worth reading, such as The Talent Myth, How to be Creative and One-Minute Site. (Keep on exploring!)
2. Free Culture (by Lawrence Lessig)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Heisenbug, Bohrbug, Mandelbug, Schroedinbug

You may have heard of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, the Bohr model for an atom or even ways to catch Schrödinger's cat. However, its unlikely that you have heard of the Heisenbug, Bohrbug, Schroedinbugs or Mandelbugs. For the geek, these funny names are actually unusual software bugs!

The name may seem to rhyme well with Heisenberg, but the Heisenbug is actually "a bug that disappears or alters its behavior when one attempts to probe or isolate it." The Freenet Project describes a Heisenbug in certain Java virtual machines.

The Bohrbug is a sort of antonym of the Heisenbug, as this bug does not disappear or alter its characteristics when it is researched.

The Mandelbug, named after Benoit Mandelbrot (think Mandelbrot set), is a bug whose underlying causes are so complex and obscure as to make its behavior appear chaotic.

The Schroedinbug is a design or implementation bug in a program that doesn't manifest until someone reading source or using the program in an unusual way notices that it never should have worked, at which point the program promptly stops working for everybody until fixed. Here, an Office developer describes "stupid SQL tricks" to get rid of a "classic Schroedinbug."

Install IE 7 without Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA)

Steps on how to install Internet Explorer 7 (IE 7) without Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA).

1. Download the setup file from the IE 7 website (Direct link for Win XP SP 2 - IE7-WindowsXP-x86-enu.exe).
2. Extract the files (to a folder of your choice) inside the setup file using a program such as WinRAR.
3. Download iecustom.dll & normaliz.dll from here.
4. Replace the file iecustom.dll in the folder called "update" (inside the folder which you have extracted the contents of the setup file to.)
5. Run update.exe from within the "update" folder and choose to restart at a later time.
6. Copy normaliz.dll into your system32 directory (usually C:\Windows\System32\)
7. Run xmllitesetup.exe which is located in the "update" folder.
8. Restart your computer. After this is done, IE 7 is ready to use.

Note: the above steps worked for me.

If you run into into an error saying that normaliz.dll cannot be found by explorer.exe after the first reboot, do the following:
1. Goto Run (Windows_key + R on keyboard)
2. Type: ‘cmd’ and push enter. The command prompt window will then appear.
3. Type: ‘copy c:\normaliz.dll c:\windows\system32\normaliz.dll’ and hit enter.

Note: If you use Outlook or Outlook Rxpress and you can't use Windows update because you did not install WGA, you may be faced with a HTTP authentication error (0x800ccc32) with Outlook or Outlook Express. Read Microsoft Article and download WindowsXP-KB904942-v2-x86-ENU.exe for Windows XP.

Related: Install Windows Media Player 11 (WMP 11) without WGA. The process is much simpler. Also, if you are in the United States, and you install WMP 11 with URGE, you can get a 14-day trial with unlimited music downloads.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Norton 360 (beta)

Norton 360 (beta) (aka Project Genesis) key features:
  • Virus detection and remediation
  • Spyware detection and remediation
  • Two-way silent firewall
  • Intrusion prevention
  • Vulnerability assessment

Currently, you can download the beta for free, but what happens after the beta terminates (probably Feb 07) will be your own problem. (The setup also recommends you to uninstall ZoneAlarm first).

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Omnidrive (currently in beta) is a storage platform of sorts. Sign up is currently free, with 1 Gb of space. I can say that the service is definitely better than what I have seen at One thing is also certain - the web interface is germane and exceedingly easy to use. Although the web interface only allows upload of 5 files at a time, users can also avail the Windows client, which makes uploading a breeze.

For some beta testing, I have uploaded some Vista wallpapers which I have downloaded from some sites. Check them out!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Flickr Photo of the Day: Can You Find Me in This Picture

Can You Find Me in This Picture, originally uploaded by Thomas Hawk.

Note: Thomas Hawk is a well known San Franciscan photographer and blogger. He is also the "Chief Evangelist" of

Friday, November 10, 2006

Web Politics

(Click to enlarge the image above.) This is modern-day web politics (1.0, 2.0, 3.0, etc)... and its for real. (I checked it myself, but I don't know if it has been removed.) For the record, Magneto befriended Charles Xavier. Maybe these are the "bad things" on the web.

However, to quote one of my previous posts...
Moreover, the ease with which the internet spreads wrong-headedness–to say nothing of lies and slander–is offset by the ease with which it spreads insights and ideas. To regret the glorious fecundity of new media is to choose the hushed reverence of the cathedral over the din of the bazaar. (The Economist)

Web 2.0 Update: Microsoft's Photosyth has been hailed as a killer app. (The Technology Preview is out!)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Virtual Earth

Virtual Earth is simply awesome. If you computer has problems rendering, try this video which shows you a helicopter-like tour using Virtual Earth.

Anyway, I am still trying to find a way to install IE 7...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Google

HOST: I’m curious, have you ever googled anybody? Do you use Google?

BUSH: Occasionally. One of the things I’ve used on the Google is to pull up maps. It’s very interesting to see — I’ve forgot the name of the program — but you get the satellite, and you can — like, I kinda like to look at the ranch. It remind me of where I wanna be sometimes.

This is the link to the Bush interview regarding Google.

Anyway, here is a documentary on Google. Its called Google behind the screen.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Data Centre for $500K

SUN Microsystems has developed a "data center in a box."
The expandable computer system, called Project Blackbox, is based on a standard 20-foot shipping container and can be deployed virtually anywhere there is electricity, chilled water and an Internet connection.
The water cooled system is painted black, and has seven racks of 35 server computers based on either Sun’s Niagara Sparc processor or an Opteron chip from Advanced Micro Devices.

There can be no doubt that this simple idea can be revolutionary.

Update: more photos here

Monday, October 16, 2006

What the world needs...

What the world needs is just some human warmth...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Globalisation 3.0

Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman terms this era Globalisation 3.0 in his highly acclaimed book The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. Friedman vividly describes 10 reasons which have shaped the flow of globalization.
  1. 11/9 was the fall of the Berlin wall, and it had as much an impact as 9/11.
  2. August 9 - Friedman is referring to the Netscape IPO, not Singapore's National Day.
  3. Work Flow Software - think PayPal
  4. Opensourcing - Linux and the rebel code
  5. Outsourcing - Its a friend and foe
  6. Off shoring - Its about dismantling a factory in Canton, Ohio and rebuilding it in Canton, China.
  7. Supply Chaining - All about Wal-Mart
  8. Insourcing - According to UPS, on any given day, 2 percent of the world's GDP can be found in UPS delivery trucks or package cars.
  9. In-forming - It matters because I can Google your name, your address and even your telephone number.
  10. Wireless - the next generation communications devices can only shrink the world.
In the book, Friedman begins by exploring these intriguing 10 flatteners and how technology as a whole, has been a key factor in challenging the frontiers of globalisation. Probably, every economist knows deep down in his heart, that there would not have been globalisation before there was technology, and that globalisation has only grown in strength because technological waves ebb and rise, pushing the shorelines of globalisation forever back, and to conquer it with its unpredictable nature. Of course, some would choose to liken globalisation to a runaway train on a collision course. Point of view.

But then, Friedman is different.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Optimising Firefox

Some people may have noticed that Firefox uses a lot of memory.
Here are some tips:
1. Config.trim_on_minimize set to true. This allows Windows to reclaim memory when the program is minimized (a feature prominent in IE 7). This value may not be on by default in Firefox. You may need to go to about:config, right click to add new boolean, and set it to true.
2. Browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers set set to '0', i.e. 32 MB.
3. browser.cache.memory.capacity

With these optimizations, and disabling of unnecessary extensions (like 'DOM Inspector'), I managed to run Firefox under 45 MB with 5 Ajax-based websites opened in tabs. More tips on reducing memory usage here.

Recently, Yahoo launched an electronic Time Capsule. This was overshadowed by a bigger news - Google acquiring YouTube for 1.6 billion bucks. [This was close to the initial estimates and rumours that were flying all over the blogopshere before the deal was sealed.]

Its a classic Silicon Valley story. And indeed, those are very, very happy men.

In addition, Microsoft just set a new record by releasing patches for fixing 26 security holes. Wow! =p

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Firefox 2.0 RC2

Firefox 2.0 RC 2 is just out, and its uber fast.
Some of the new stuff in Firefox 2.0 I really like:
- Better support for previewing and subscribing to Web feeds. (You can assign Firefox to add your feed automatically to your favourite feed reader like Google Reader.)
- Inline spell checking in Web forms. (This is damn useful when you are blogging. The word that is spelled wrongly is underlines in red, and you can right click on it to choose the correct word.) [see screenshot below]
- Support for JavaScript 1.7

Some tips:
- If you don't like the default theme in Firefox 2 RC 2 and your current theme is not compatible, I recommend Azerty III.
- Don't forget to update your extensions. (the auto update does not seem to be foolproof)
- The download link. Tell the world!


A Game of Brinkmanship

Chess is a game of brinkmanship. It is a game that requires pure intellectual wit involving strategies, threats and bluffs. It is a game that amplifies the signifiance of the journey more than the destination. It is the game in the capacity of every word that can ever describe it -- mind-boggling, spectacular, intriguing, volatile, even fearsome. Indeed, these are immortal words for an immortal game. While a minor co-ordinate miscalculation may alter the trajectory of a starship by thousands of light years, a rash move on a chessboard is bound to have dire consequences. Imagine two opponents vying for every opportunity through focused deliberations and a pugnacious clash of tactics - there can be no doubt of its brinkmanship.

For now, its Kim Jong Il versus the rest of the world.
Will it be stalemate or checkmate? No one knows for sure.

Friday, October 06, 2006


The PHP time function is defined as follows:
int time ( void )
Returns the current time measured in the number of seconds since the Unix Epoch (January 1 1970 00:00:00 GMT).

This presentation, normally using a 32-bit signed integer, is commonly know as the UNIX time format. This means that the latest time that can be represented in this format, following the POSIX/UNIX time standard, is 03:14:07 UTC on Tuesday, 19 January 2038. Times beyond this moment will "wrap around" and be represented internally as a negative number, and cause programs to fail, since they will see these times not as being in 2038 but rather in 1970 or 1901, depending on the implementation.

This Y2k38 problem, is reminiscent of the Y2K bug, which was also due to memory contraints. In the 1960s, it was the de facto standard to use two characters for every date field since storage were scarce and expensive (those were the days when RAM was measured in bytes). With many industries using computers at the turn of the millenium, there was widespread fear that computers would stop working at exactly midnight, January 1, 2000, leading to a global catastrophy.

Of course, the Y2K bug posted major problems, with many companies rushing to check their source code for the bug. The amount of work generated, however, greatly benefited India, as such work to check and correct source code was outsourced to India. Even Johns Hopkins foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum thinks that "Y2K should be called Indian Inter-depedence Day." This millenium bug is reputed to have cost the global economy $US 300 billion. Things could have been very different if early pioneers had more foresight.

Mark Twain once remarked that "20 years from now, you will be disappointed by things that you didn’t do than by the things that you did do." If history is to be any gauge, we can be certain that unless programmers start taking appropriate contingency measures to retify the bug, Y2K38 will post more problems in future.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Mozilla Flaw is a Joke

Recently, 2 developers at the ToorCon hacking convention in San Diego claimed that there was "a previously known Firefox vulnerability that could result in a stack overflow ending up in remote code execution."
The duo called Mozilla's implementation of Javascript a "complete mess" and "impossible to patch," according to the article. The hackers reportedly claimed to have 30 more Firefox vulnerabilities that he intended to keep to themselves to set up "communication networks for black hats."

Unfortunately, its a case of jokers looking for quick fame. Maybe they could have been sued by Microsoft if they had played the same trick on IE. However, all these cannot distort the truth - the number of FireFox users continue to grow.

And of course, those two presenters have apologized. More comments by those involved can be found here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Book of Mozilla

And so at last the beast fell and the unbelievers rejoiced. But all was not lost, for from the ash rose a great bird. The bird gazed down upon the unbelievers and cast fire and thunder upon them. For the beast had been reborn with its strength renewed, and the followers of Mammon cowered in horror.

from The Book of Mozilla, 7:15

Type about:mozila into your Firefox address bar and you will get this "easter egg". Of course, Mammon refers to MS IE. For the interpretation of the above "holy text", please refer to Wikipedia.

Some other tricks in Firefox:
about:config, about:buildconfig, about:cache, about:plugins, about:credits, about:mozilla

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Long Tail

When humour complements the reality, you know that the term "the long tail" has hit the mainstream. The last time we mentioned something like that, it was regarding the Cathedral and the Bazaar.

"The long tail" was coined by Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of the Wired magazine in 2004. Today, the long tail stretches all the way from Packard's garage in Silicon Valley to Bangalore to China - because the world is flat.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Ajax & Web 2.0 Updates

It has been a long time since the last Ajax updates, so we will start off by looking at frameworks. just did a survey regarding the popularity of ajax frameworks and ajax platforms, and of course, the results are within expectations.

Note that PHP remains by far the most popular. Speaking of PHP, here is a comparison of 10 PHP frameworks.

If you don't need heavy-weight ajax functions, I will recommend moo.fx. For a quick demo of moo.fx, click on the "Archives" or "Subscribe" title on the right hand column of the main page. Moo.fx is relatively light - moo.fx.js, moo.jx.pack.js and prototype.lite.js weights a total of only 12.9 kb, as compared to 56 kb for prototype.js and scriptaculous.js combined.

Currently, with so much going on in the Ajax community, we also have people going COWS over Ajax.

At the Web 2.0 webfront, Israeli startup Dapper has been raising lots of eyebrows. It allows you to "create an API for any website", with some 2000 new data sources that anyone can mix and mash from sites around the web. (Check out the demo to get a better idea.)

Instead of solely creating services for the general audience, we are starting to see these type of "for developers by developers" sites. Another previous such example will be

Update: Over at HP, Dunn has finally resigned.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Dining Philosophers Problem

Five philosophers spend their time eating and thinking. The college where they live has a dining table with a large bowl of spaghetti in the center of the table. There are five plates at the table and five forks set between the plates.

Eating the spaghetti requires the use of two forks (often, the problem is explained with chopsticks instead of forks, because it is easier to understand requiring two chopsticks to eat spaghetti than two forks) which the philosophers pick up one at a time. The philosophers never speak to each other which creates a dangerous possibility of deadlock in which every philosopher holds a left fork and waits perpetually for a right fork (or vice versa).

So how do we write out a procedure such that this procedure applies to each and every philosopher, and so that the philisophers can eat using two forks when they are hungry and not starve?

This is the dining philosophers problem, originally proposed by none other than EW Dijkstra in 1971. It is perhaps one the most famous example of a common computing problem in concurrency.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Create your own webDNA! They actually run a business creating and selling DNA art!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Windows Live Dashboard

Windows Live Dashboard, which is part of Windows Live Essentials. Its nothing more than a small program that displays what you have installed. And Microsoft invited me to download this program.

Apple updates: the news about iTV and the iPod Nano remastered is all over the web. But don't forget to check out the presentation itself.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The HP Way

Hewlett once said that the HP Way was "a core ideology . . . [that] includes a deep respect for the individual, a dedication to affordable quality and reliability, a commitment to community responsibility, and a view that the company exists to make technical contributions for the advancement and welfare of humanity."

Well... after the take over of Compaq, things don't seem to be going very well for HP. The unethical spy scandal at HP has certainly created a huge furor in the blogosphere. To recap the posts by Robert Scoble...
If the HP way is to be preserved, someone has to go.

Update: Dunn has resigned.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


According to Kirk McKusick at BSDCon 1999:
The way it was characterized politically, you had copyright, which is what the big companies use to lock everything up; you had copyleft, which is free software's way of making sure they can't lock it up; and then Berkeley had what we called ‘copycenter’, which is ‘take it down to the copy center and make as many copies as you want.

Besides the more well-known Creative Commons License and the GNU GPL, there is also the BSD License.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Agassi: The End of an Era

"The scoreboard said I lost today, but what the scoreboard doesn't say is what it is I have found. And over the last 21 years, I have found loyalty. You have pulled for me on the court and also in life. I've found inspiration. You have willed me to succeed, sometimes even in my lowest moments. And I've found generosity. You have given me your shoulders to stand on to reach for my dreams, dreams I could have never reached without you. Over the last 21 years, I have found you. And I will take you and the memory of you with me for the rest of my life."
-- Andre Agassi

23,000 people at Arthur Ashe Stadium - they came from near and far to see his last match - the last of his 21-year career. And they gave him a tribute that lasted four minutes. Eyes filled with tears, Agassi rose from his armchair and moved to the center of the court for a second round of bows and kisses to the four sides of the arena, gingerly bending his bad back.

When asked if he would do it all again, Agassi shook his head no and laughed when someone pressed, "Why not?"
"Because I did it. I did it," Agassi said.
And this: "I'm at peace." (Source)

Technorati: Agassi

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

FileMaker Campus Productivity Suite

An excerpt from MacWorld News:

"The cross-platform Campus Productivity Kit is a Universal binary that runs natively on Intel and PowerPC-based Macs. Features include the ability to print phone lists, complete with pictures of contacts; store PDFs, Web pages, images and Wikipedia Web data; group project management; To Do list due date tracking and prioritization; and item list printing."

I figure this would be a hit amongst students. I downloaded it myself, and am going to test run it to see how it goes.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sui generis

Sui generis, as we know it, is Latin for unique, or one of a kind.

Recently, the blog pointed out a really sui generis way of using that phrase:
"George W. Bush criticizing someone for not understanding the world is like... well, it's like George W. Bush criticizing someone for not understanding the world. It's sui generis: No parallel quite captures the absurdity so succinctly."
(From Slate Magazine)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Reality Distortion Field or a Cult of Personality?

What exactly makes Steve Jobs tick? How is it that Steve Jobs has such a loyal following that he has developed a personality cult? Even more mysterious - people who have worked with Steve Jobs claim that he is able to set up a reality distortion field (RDF).
RDF distorts an audience's sense of proportion or scale. Small advances are applauded as breakthroughs. Interesting developments become turning points, or huge leaps forward. RDF focuses less on outright deception and more on warping powers of judgment.

To quote some examples Mac followers know too well:
For example, when he revealed notepad and todolist (among other small improvements) the audience clapped like there was no tomorrow...

I was thinking the exact same thing... WWDC conferences Reality Distortion Field is an incredible phenomenon, truely wonderful for those under its spell, and creepy as hell to those left out. Other examples as the adding of 2 extra USB ports as a brilliant new idea, as well as... two optical bays?
(Source: Wikipedia Talk Page)

One more thing, this reality distortion field that Steve Jobs has when giving speeches (like this inspiring one) ... it is too good to be true.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Pioneers Hitchhiking in the Valley of Heart's Delight

Some enterprising artists decided to mix technology and art, to create likenesses of technology industry titans, attach a Java phone to the sculptures, and set them free to find their way home. The project relied upon the kindness of strangers. Public spirited individuals that contributed to the return of the artwork to its rightful destination would leave their email address on the back of the artwork, and receive a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the sculptures.

SUN's Jonathan Schwartz has decided to acquire the artwork of Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard (after they were rejected at HP!)

This project, by YLEM (Artists using Science and Technology), serves to honor some of the inventors and engineers whose breakthroughs and business skills made Silicon Valley possible.

In the words of Mario Wolczko, their website engineer:
I like this project because it honors some of the (mostly unsung) inventors and engineers whose breakthroughs and business skills made Silicon Valley possible. Ask the person in the street for a name they associate with Silicon Valley today, and it will most likely be a businessman: Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, maybe; I bet quite a few people will name Bill Gates, even though Redmond is nearly a thousand miles away. Ask again, what is the dominant industry of Silicon Valley, and they'll most likely answer 'computers' or 'software'. But the Valley's 'core competence' is electronics, and the pioneers we celebrate as hitchhikers were electronic engineers. Each, in his own way, helped shaped what the Valley does, and how it does it.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Friday, August 18, 2006

Singapore Digg-Based Blog Bulletin

With so many Singaporeans owning a blog nowadays, the Singapore Cyberspace (if there is such a term) have become cluttered with many many stories posted by our fellow Singaporeans, some exciting, some alarming, some boring, and some downright lame.

It is thus important to for Singaporean to easily seek out all the juicy and interesting images, stories, videos and podcasts floating around in cyberspace, to be entertained and to indulge in serious discussions.

Some Singaporeans before me, seeing the need for a fully democratic blog bulletin system, established sites based on the model. However, they have failed miserably, due to lack of stories and active users.
Instead of creating a clone based on the model, I intend to create an integrated online community, where all sorts of discussions and stories, including technology and politics which were seldom found on This site also aims to mould our youngsters and teenagers to be more political aware, so as to guarantee a more colourful political scene in the near future.

Would love to see a Singapore-based site taking off!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ahmadinejad has a blog

According to BBC News, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has launched a blog,, which was also reported on the Iranian state TV.
Mr Ahmadinejad's first posting, entitled autobiography, tells of his childhood, Iran's Islamic revolution, and the country's war with Iraq.

His blog actually runs on aspx (Mircosoft technology), and also utilises AJAX. There is actually an English translation of his posts on his blog. Click on the flags below the header on the right hand side of the page. The source code of his blog also has such a line:

<meta content="Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 7.1" name="GENERATOR"> <meta content="Visual Basic .NET 7.1" name="CODE_LANGUAGE">

Now, more interestingly (according to O'Reilly Net),
Several Israeli bloggers, including Yael K.’s Step By Step, which I read regularly, report that if you access the Ahmadenijad blog from an Israeli IP address the site sends you a little gift, a cyberattack in the form of a virus or trojan (reports vary) designed to exploit an Internet Explorer vulnerability.

So now Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can also use the Internet to "wipe Isreal off the map of Middle East." So much for free speech on the Internet. Maybe Israeli hackers will do something about his blog.

Update: Recently, Ahmadinejad spoke with CBS's Mike Wallace about Israel, nukes & Bush.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Top 100 Gobals Universities According to Newsweek

The Newsweek magazine has published a ranking of the Top 100 Global Universities, utilizing selected criteria from the Times Higher World University Rankings and the rankings compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, with the additional criterion of library holdings (number of volumes). It aimed at "taking into account openness and diversity, as well as distinction in research."

Note: The Times Higher Education Supplement rankings for 2006 is expected to be out soon.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Firefox Extension: Page Saver

For Firefox users, check out Pearl Cresent Page Saver. It lets you capture images of web pages (whole page or a portion only) in PNG format. It sure comes in handy sometimes, and take a look at the this image capture of HanWorks Research

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

That AOL Data

The blogosphere is abuzz with AOL's "voluntary release of search data". Basically, this is the summary of what has happened:
AOL has released very private data about its users without their permission. While the AOL username has been changed to a random ID number, the abilitiy to analyze all searches by a single user will often lead people to easily determine who the user is, and what they are up to. The data includes personal names, addresses, social security numbers and everything else someone might type into a search box.

If you are really interested in that data (AOL's description), here is where you can download it (439MB)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Former Prime Minister of Britain, Benjamin Disraeli, remarked that "there are 3 kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

A story too good to be true? Or is really the next Google?

Too bad it’s a blatent lie. BusinessWeek knows it. They prove it themselves in the article:

So far, Digg is breaking even on an estimated $3 million annually in revenues. Nonetheless, people in the know say Digg is easily worth $200 million.
Companies lie to their customers all the time. They lie when they say that their customers come first. (their investors do) They lie when they say it isn’t about the money. (it always is) They lie when they say that they have so many users. (they never do) They lie when they say they’re worth so much money. (they never are)

Journalism seems to be getting awful.

Anyway... it never ends... thats what statisticians are for. The next time you see statistics (from your government) in the newspaper, think it through.

Icons of England

What do the Tower of London, Monty Python, fish and chips, Sherlock Holmes, the Oxford English Dictionary, and a pint of beer have in common with each other?

Answer: They have all just been declared "Icons of England" following an online poll.

The ICONS project, was launched in January 200. Funded by Culture Online, part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, ICONS has attracted more than 350,000 votes for the England's favourite icons and more than half a million people have visited the site.

Take a look at the list of icons.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Flickr Photo of the Day: A Time for Peace

With the Royal Marines on patrol on Kabul. Visiting the local big man.
Photo originally uploaded by Ben Hammersley (journalist).

In times of war, we are reminded that there can be peace.

Windows Live Update: I have invites to Windows Live QnA Beta. Contact me if you want one.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Apology from Microsoft

This is a follow up post to the previous post on the Windows Vista Speech Recognition Demo.
Now, Larry Osterman, a Microsoft techie has finally admitted to the mistake. That, requires a lot of courage. Its also good to see that Microsoft programmers have taken to blogging to stay in touch with the end-users.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Microsoft Live Labs: Photosynth

For once... this Microsoft idea looks really cool...

Photosynth takes a large collection of photos of a place or object, analyzes them for similarities, and displays them in a reconstructed 3-Dimensional space.

With Photosynth you can:

  • Walk or fly through a scene to see photos from any angle.
  • Seamlessly zoom in or out of a photograph whether it’s megapixels or gigapixels in size.
  • See where pictures were taken in relation to one another.
  • Find similar photos to the one you’re currently viewing.
  • Explore a custom tour.
  • Send a collection to a friend.
Don't miss out the video demo. (Currently, there is no application for you to download yet.)

Anyway, if this idea takes off... (it will if there is enough support from the bosses at Microsoft), we can be sure that its going to be cooler than Google Earth. Talk about phototourism.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Windward Shorts: Cubicle War

Windward Reports, a .NET-based solutions company has made an awesome and hilarious short clip called Cubicle Wars. Even better - according to a guy at Windward Reports, the video has been getting 10,800 views per hour on YouTube. Brilliant video, excellent publicity.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Politics 2.0

Web 2.0 is about participation. And now Wikipedia founder, Jimbo Wales (user page), wants to change the way politics is run. He has started a political wiki, called Central Campaign Wikia on Wikia to user in a new era of web-based "participatory politics". Indubitably, if he succeeds, the Internet will see Politics 2.0.
Blog and wiki authors are now inventing a new era of media, and it is my belief that this new media is going to invent a new era of politics. If broadcast media brought us broadcast politics, then participatory media will bring us participatory politics.

To add on to Web 2.0 observations...

With regards to Wikipedia, Emigh & Herring argued in 2005 that "a few active users, when acting in concert with established norms within an open editing system, can achieve ultimate control over the content produced within the system, literally erasing diversity, controversy, and inconsistency, and homogenizing contributors' voices."

In the same vein, somone has finally found out that the top 100 Digg users control 56% of Digg's homepage content. Looking at the latest Ajax Aiki startup, called Wetpaint, its easy to notice that there are always a few people who are doing the work. In addition, look at 43things, and you will realise that after so many months since it was founded, the number of users seem to be stuck at below 500,000 - rather, the nummber of users have more or less reached a plateau.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Tragedy and Legacy of Zinedine Zidane

A swift exchange of words, a moment of madness, followed by a flurry of action - that was all it took to prove the mortality of Man. First, it was Germany vs Argentina, then Rooney, and now Zidane. Adidas Teamgeist or not, the ball can never be perfectly round, and the beautiful game will always be imperfect. This imperfection - a verity of life, is what makes soccer so spectacular - from the Hand of God to the Schumacher-Battiston incident and now the Zidane-Materazzi incident.

Despite all the hype about Zidane, Zidane still remains a man. History will be kinder. His actions will be forgiven, and the man himself will not be forgotten. Zidane will be remembered - he may not share a place among soccer greats like Pelé and Diego Maradona, but he will have a place alongside Franz Beckenbauer and Michel Platini.

It has been a lifetime of outstanding performance for Zidane. He has given soccer fans more than they had ever dreamed of. The son of an immigrant brought up in the aftermath of the Algerian War, he has defied critics and inspired countless others living in the spotlight of discrimination. There can be no doubt that Zidane will make the best of his circumstances. The journey is far more important than the destination. His spirit lives on.

Technorati: Zidane, Worldcup

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Flickr Inspector

Flickr Inspector gives you all kinds of interesting information about your flickrstream. The display of information is clean and tidy. And don't forget to check out the analysis of my flickrstream: minghan's flickr score: 731

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta

Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta - a program with an ultra long name, is Microsoft's live solution, or rather replacement, for Outlook Express. Among Microsoft's claim is that the program gives you "a massive 2GB* of online inbox storage." This, unfortunately, only applies to those who are in Windows Live Mail Beta.

Currently, Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta, has nothing special. It sprouts a search bar at the top (more like Google's idea), a 3 column interface (one for folder treeview, another for listing of message and viewing messages like in Outlook Express), and one column proudly labelled Advertisement. Other than that, you can view feeds (but this feature requires IE 7 to be installed), and there is a puzzling "Messenger Contacts" button at the bottom of the page, which when clicked, opens up Windows Live Messenger (notice that thanks to Microsoft's ingenuity, I have managed to mention 3 WLMs in this post).

And WLM Desktop Beta comes with a "photo email" feature...
so we decided to play with it...

Technorati: Microsoft, Windows Live

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Check it out - an operating system that runs within a browser.
Developed by MIT.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Google becomes a verb

Google is now officially a verb in the English language. First the venerable authority on the language that is the Oxford English Dictionary added Google as a verb to its online edition. Now Merriam-Webster has added google, without the capital "G" as a generic term, as a verb to its 11th edition released this autumn.

From the Oxford English Dictionary:

1. intr. To use the Google search engine to find information on the Internet.
2. trans. To search for information about (a person or thing) using the Google search engine.
2000 Re: $Emergency_Number in NYC in alt.sysadmin.recovery (Usenet newsgroup) 10 Jan., I've googled some keywords, and it came up with some other .edu text.
2001 N.Y. Times 11 Mar. III. 12/3, I met this woman last night at a party and I came right home and googled her. 2005 ‘BELLE DE JOUR Intimate Adventures of London Call Girl 115 Obsessing over the details, including Googling his name every few hours? Too right I did.

From the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:
Etymology: Google, trademark for a search engine
: to use the Google search engine to obtain information about (as a person) on the World Wide Web

Monday, July 03, 2006

Flickr Photo of the Day: They don't have no right to be so cute

They don't have no right to be so cute, originally uploaded by meeralee.
Seriously, aren't they? And that brick, and the swirls of spray paint on the top -- practically an ode to urban decay.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Imagine …11 or more individual applications on your flash drive. Now, imagine the frustration of opening My Computer and navigating to these apps everytime you want to open one. Step in TinyComp. It manages shortcuts on your thumbdrive and can be set to launch itself everytime you plug your drive in. Splendid!

Simple and easy interface.

For more information, check it out @
And don't forget to Digg it!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Germany vs Argentina ended with a brawl

The intense Germany vs Argentina FIFA World Cup match ended with penalties in which Germany downed Argentina 4-2 to proceed on to the semi-finals. But what followed was a 90 seconds brawl between Argentina and German players, the coaches, the refree and FIFA officials, infront of 72,000 astounished spectators looking on in the stadium and millions more worldwide on television.

In the heat of the moment, the unexpected happens.

The trouble appeared to start when midfielder Tim Borowski gestured towards the Argentina players to "keep quiet" having scored his penalty to make it 4-2 in Germany's favour.

Several of the South American players walked towards him and when Esteban Cambiasso's final Argentina spot-kick was saved by German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, the Argentina defender Fabricio Coloccini approached Germany's Oliver Neuville.

Punches were thrown in a brief melee before it was broken up.

Germany captain Ballack also gave his version:

"The first provocation came from Argentina, they were shouting at our players as they were going to the penalty spot. They shouted something in Spanish and we didn't understand what they were saying. But they were definitely trying to influence our strikers.

After Tim Borowski scored he put his finger to his lips to tell them to shut up. They were a bit mad at that. After that I didn't see much but I saw one or two lying on the ground. I didn't see what happened."

Read more here, here and here.

The brawl ended with Argentina's Leandro Cufre, an unused substitute, shown the red card by the referee after he was seen kicking Germany defender Mertesacker, and Mertesacker was left lying on the grass after being kicked in the groin.

This has go to be one of the most disgraceful moments of the beautiful game. It appeared ironic that while thousands of fans could coexist and stand side by side watching their countries fight for honour and glory, the players themselves betrayed their fans.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter was left to comment, "What I always say is in football you learn to win, but you also have to learn to lose." Sports when played on the international level, is cruel, but it does not mean that we cannot play it professionally. The Germany Argentina match was an intense match pitted against two giants - both deserved to go one to the semi-finals, but of course, there can only be one winner.

Anyway, the world cup does have an effect on Internet traffic:

A graph showing internet traffic decrease in the Netherlands during the 2006 FIFA World Cup game between Netherlands and Serbia & Montenegro on 11 June 2006.

Technorati: worldcup, germany, argentina

Thursday, June 29, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

"What we take for granted might not be here for our children."
-- Al Gore

Scientists have long suspected that the reality of global warming has always been underestimated and blatently ignored by an environmentally apathetic public. Now, former US Vice President Al Gore, has produced a groundbreaking book accompanying the film, entitled An Inconvenient Truth.

The Inconvenient Truth is actually a documentary which premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and it received three standing ovations.

An Inconvenient Truth movie trailer:

Visit to unearth this inconvenient truth.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Steve Ballmer doesn't matter

Business 2.0 have released a list of 50 people whom they think are important (i.e. matters) and 10 people who who don't matter.

Surprisingly, they list Steve Ballmer and Jonathan Schwartz as people who don't matter... I don't really agree with that, because Microsoft is starting to take note of all these ajax stuff... but they can't seem to get their right.

My two cents worth on

1. The products and services have such long and confusing names. The newest's product - Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta (WLM Desktop) is easily confused with another WLM (Live Messenger) and also Windows Live Mail.

2. Their Live Search looks cool, feels cool, but something is just not right. Traditionally, search engines always have page numbers below, listing an approximate 10 results for every page. Any user looking for data will have a sense of 'search', a sense of how deep he has searched. E.g. I can skip to page 10 or 15 or go back to the previous page. On the other hand, presents an unorthodox method of presenting search results - by listing results infinitely using ajax into a small portion of the window. Though innovation, this makes searching a pain in the neck. [Trivia: Search for 'microsoft' in their live image search and the second first image is a penguin!]

3. Firefox 2.0 when it comes out, will be better than IE 7. More and more people will use Firefox..

But of course, I agree that Linus Torvalds don't really matter... Yes, and I do back the argument that "commercial businesses like Red Hat and Novell increasingly steer its future." (i.e. the future of Linux). Admittedly, I don't see Torvalds playing a big role in desktop software for linux (like multimedia programs or even web related programs like Firefox).

Conventional wisdom says that technological companies rise and fall with the tides of innovations that lash the shores of the technological business. According to Business 2.0, the most important person is the consumer. That reflects the wisdom of the crowd.

Update: Jonathan Schwartz has replied regarding his 'award'.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The future of nanotechnology

Interesting article on nanotechnology.

Here's a video linked from the article, showing the possibilities that nanotech can bring.

Productive Nanosystems (From molecules to superproducts)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Web 3.0, Enterprise 2.0

So Web 2.0 has hit saturation point... since so many prominent bloggers are already complaining? Bloggers, venture capitalists, technologists, programmers, etc, you name them... are starting to talk about Enterprise 2.0 and Web 3.0.

But besides all these talk about Enterprise 2.0 and Web 3.0, there has been lots of exciting stuff happening on the AJAX front.

1. Recently, Ajaxian talks about how the current use of Ajax is not really true "asynchronous communication." Among the four kinds of asynchronous usage proposed, Microlink is something that stands out. Check out the demo for TiddlyWiki, its fantastic, although I feel its a bit confusing.

2. ZK is now among most active. The live demo is impressive as well.
ZK is an open-source Ajax Web framework that enables rich UI for Web applications with no JavaScript and little programming. With event-driven feature-rich components, developing becomes as simple as programming desktops. With a markup language, designing becomes as simple as authoring HTML.

3. Google has released a new search API that lets you add an Ajax version of Google Search to your site (instead of just a simple search box that redirects to the Google webpage).

Lastly, if you don't want to hear anything about Ajax, you might want to check out some of the cool stuff that have been produced in Blender.

Friday, June 16, 2006

FIFA World Cup 2006

Did you know that ...
During World War II, the trophy was held by Italy. Ottorino Barassi, the Italian vice-president of FIFA, also the President of FIGC, hid it from the Germans in a shoe-box under his bed after attracting the interest from Nazism.

There is quite a bit of history to that solid piece of gold... the FIFA World Cup Trophy.

Anyway, some people on the other side of the world (like me), are stuck because the television here (Channel 5, MediaCorp) only show the opening match, two semis and the final match. And since there are people like me who are desperate to watch the game live at home... thanks to technology, there are some solutions!

1. ASCII Live Streaming, via Telnet
on Windows, run 'cmd' and type in "telnet 2006"

2. Goto and see the flash-based game cast live. (updates only)

3. Use a p2p streaming program like PPLive or PPStream. PPStream is more popular because there is this caifu sports channel, which has good quality streaming (but setting up PPStream is slightly troublesome). Anyway, such p2p streaming programs stream from China's server, so unless you have a really good connection... forget about it. More information on such programs on (you have to register an account, login and post 1 message first before you have access to the actual info)

4. Try LiveFooty. (I don't know if this works or not. Try at your own risk!)

Cometh the hour, cometh the man... and cometh the team. (hey... what the origin of that phrase?)
So... July 9... may the best team win!