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Friday, February 27, 2004

Bits and Bytes and Blogs 

What Is a Weblog?

A weblog is a Web page that one or more people update on a regular basis, usually with time-stamped entries. It can be personal, technical, or just about any topic. Many people abbreviate weblog to just blog. Rai Umair thinks it's a little strange that an abbreviation has an abbreviation, but there you go. Besides, why is abbreviation such a long word? You can think of it as just another Web page, or as a diary (or journal if you're a "guy"), or as a great new way of informing people about what you know about. For example, Rai Umair loves to read about the latest gadgets he can't afford on the Gizmodo weblog, while others like to read about the latest nugget of wisdom from Dan Gilmor on his blog.

Why Should I Care About Blogs?

While it is certainly possible to earn the ire of your boss by "wasting time" reading blogs all day, it is also a great way to learn. For example, did you know that there are a number of Microsoft employees now blogging? Just a quick look at http://blogs.msdn.com and you are sure to learn something. For example, the good doctor sees that there is now another WS-specification, information about a cleaner for your Microsoft® Word HTML documents, and an announcement about a briefing with Mr. Steve Ballmer himself. In the past, Dr. GUI has read incredible items on deep Microsoft® .NET topics from some of the architects of .NET.

What Is RSS?

RSS (it is an acronym, but different people expand it to different items; it's either Really Simple Syndication or RDF Site Summary) is an XML format that contains the last few updates to a Web site. This is similar to the Active Channels that Rai Umair remembers from back in the middle ages of Microsoft® Internet Explorer 4.0. However, it differs from channels in that it is broadly accepted. By watching the RSS for a Web site (or rather, having a program monitor it), you can easily tell when it has changed. No more wasting time visiting sites; you will always know just when it has updated.

Most blogs also support RSS: so, you can use a program, such as SharpReader or NewsGator, to subscribe to the RSS for a number of blogs. Then you can read their contents at your leisure.

Where Can I Get More Information About Blogs?

The best way to learn about weblogs is to start reading them. You can find many excellent weblogs on .NET and related information at:

http://weblogs.asp.net
http://blogs.msdn.com
http://www.geekswithblogs.net

In addition, if you have something to contribute, perhaps you should start a blog as well, and share your knowledge with the world. You may find you like it.

Get The Report For FREE 

'The Best ERP Vendor Experience' report by Forrester Research.

Summary:

ERP apps are a commodity. Who can tell one G/L from another? Users should assess ERP vendors based on how easy they are to work with. The best so far is MAPICS.

Download:

http://www.mapics.com/downloads/documents/forrester-erp.pdf

.NET Html Agility Pack 

Here comes an agile HTML parser that builds a read/write DOM and supports plain XPATH or XSLT. It is an assembly that allows you to parse "out of the web" HTML files. The parser is very tolerant with "real world" malformed HTML. The object model is very similar to what proposes System.Xml, but for HTML documents (or streams).

Sample applications:
* Page fixing or generation. You can fix a page the way you want, modify the DOM, add nodes, copy nodes, you name it.
* Web scanners. You can easily get to img/src or a/hrefs with a bunch XPATH queries.
* Web scrapers. You can easily scrap any existing web page into an RSS feed for example, with just an XSLT file serving as the binding. An example of this is provided.

There is no dependency on anything else than .Net's XPATH implementation. There is no dependency on Internet Explorer's dll or tidy or anything like that. There is also no adherence to XHTML or XML, although you can actually produce XML using the tool.



http://www.devcity.net/smourier/download/htmlagilitypack.zip

A Billion Dollars and More 

I wish I had that much financial muscle; a really nice piece of dialog I liked from the God Father Part III (one of the favorite movies) is that ‘Finance is a gun and politics is the Art Of Knowing when to pull the trigger’.

Well Forbes latest Billionaire List is out and Bill Gates with $ 46.82 billion tops again, but what I really like about the new list is that Larry Page and Sergey Brin are on their too, for people who don’t know who the two our… one word for them ‘Google’. I adore google, it helps me find what I need when I need it and amazingly Yahoo search is a lot better now then it used to be, I guess yahoo will content sharply with Google, MSN Search well now that they have switch the back end from Google to Inkatomi that they now already own.

One day I want to see my name up with the giants till then I better keep shut and work more. Just in case you happen to read this and feel interested let me know.

Post-it For The DeskTop! 

Software solutions cater to business or in this case individual problems. One such sticky idea is sort of the Post-it notes for the digital era. Well I was thinking of developing a Taskbar application where I can sketch out little ideas, tasks and put alarms to it and guess what 3M has got one for instant download and that too for FREE:

Post-it LITE Software Notes on your computer let you:

•Create your own notes with pictures and hyperlinks
•Stick notes on your computer desktop as a visual reminder
•Add alarms to your notes so you don't forget
•Subscribe to receive information on a Post-it® Software Note from websites that provide this service
•Attach notes to documents, such as Microsoft Word

Download it from the 3M site: http://pmb001.3m.com/pub/psnotes/pn30lous.exe


.au! .au! .au! 

I have a confession to make; Australia’s to me is the most online country in terms of government, businesses, and people.

All there websites are nicely done and it looks quiet convenient moving from one site to another finding details, getting answers to questions and if you live there, pay bill, taxes and do what not online.

It’s truly surprising to see so much stuff online in Australia; the country sure gets my award for the DRI (Digital Reference Index).

Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Billionaire? 

Play this nifty flash quiz, well I am not disappointed to find out that I can not be a Billionaire but then that’s not on my priority list any way. Play and share the results, guys pasting comments on my blog does not charge money, so take at go at it. Wham!

http://www.forbes.com/maserati/billionaires2004/cx_mn_0226quiz_bill04.html

Be Careful Where You Build 

I recently read Eric Sinks article

Longhorn Developer Center: Be Careful Where You Build (The Business of Software).

A little point I would like mentioned is:

Hey the best thing for ISV's is to study the roadmap from all the big vendors and read the latest to be trends. This will decrease the uncertenity in there decisons and will lead to better understanding of the future trends in this ever volatile industry.

Knowledge Quote 

Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves or we know where we can find information about it....

I guess Samuel Johnson was thinking about the web when he said this. In todays world of information overload, finding let alone knowing the requisite stuff is hard if not impossible. Good web search tatctics and ultra sharp memory is needed to recall the latest and greatest around us.

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