Microsoft released a new and more powerful command line shell and task based scripting technology called Windows PowerShell today. Powershell brings in Unix style shell scripting to Windows Vista as well as Windows XP and Windows 2003 platforms.

Powershell supports features like pipelines(dir | more), allows you to quickly solve storage problems for instance how many 700MB cds are needed to backup 11GB? (11GBMB/700MB) Alex of Windows Vista blog has a more simple definition of Powershell. He describes Powershell as “If you haven’t heard of Windows PowerShell before, think of it as an integrated version of the Windows Command Prompt (cmd.exe) and VBScript.”

You can use it to unleash the power of wildcards and working objects too. Say you wanted to get all the services that start with “a” and then get all the dependent services associated with it, simply typing “PS> get-service w* | format-list DisplayName, DependentServices” should do the job.

History: Before being released as Windows Powershell, it was previously known as Windows “Monad” Shell and MSH or Microsoft Command Shell.

Prerequisites: Windows PowerShell requires the .Net Framework 2.0. You can download Framework 2.0 here

Cool New Features/ can do with Win PowerShell …. I think I will call it Win Pow

1. You can test your commands before committing to them(use feature called Whatif )

2. You can start and stop transcripts of all your commands

3. Can use Win Pow to access applications such as Windows Media Player 11

4. Can configure the much hated User Account Control (set-itemproperty -path HKLM:\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\WINDOWS\CurrentVersion\Policies\System -name ConsentPromptBehaviorAdmin -value 0) where a 0 will turn of UAC and 2 will turn it back on.

Look at the example below where I display the services and use powershell as a calender calculator

The need for speed: According to a recent survey by Akamai and JupiterResearch, four seconds is the maximum length of time an average person will wait for a web page to load before potentially abandoning the site. When comparing to online shopping sites, they report that poor site performance came in second with high product prices and shipping costs as the leading factors for dissatisfaction among online shoppers.

While their research was focussed on online shopping, it still suggests that fast websites are essential to get traffic and more important retaining them. So, how do you go about determining what is the bottleneck in your site, slowing down the page load times. Is there a particular image(size, resolution) causing the low startup times or is it a Javascript or is it a CSS? So, how do you go about determining the bottleneck?

Optimizing your site

Online shoppingUsers are becomming less and less accepting when it comes to slow sites as internet maturity increases. The size of the page is the main deciding factor for download times, coupled with bandwidth.

Although you can influence the bandwidth of your webservers, you cannot influence the bandwidth of your users. So make sure that your pages are no larger than they need to be. To reduce the size of your pages, you can;

Decrease the size of your images:

  • Use JPG instead of GIF or BMP. Sometimes PNG files are smaller than JPG files
  • Use harder compression on your jpg images
  • Make the images smaller in size
  • Reduce the number of images
  • Use HTTP compression on your web servers, which may compress code/text by up to 90%

 

If the first part of your page loads fast, and the parts that aren’t visible yet take longer, than that’s ok, because the users don’t care about information that they’re not ready to look at yet. Check out the tool below to help diagnose your load times …

Like.com promises to be the next biggest thing in search. So, how is like.com different than any other search engine. Like.com is a visual search engine, allowing us to search for items by their appearance, rather than just text. Their theme could have been ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ and it would be so true.

A lot of you might have been well aware of Riya. Riya was one of the first darlings on the web 2.0 world. It lauched with the objective to make facial and object search as simple and easy to use as text search.

What Riya used to be? Riya’s original theme was to use face recognition to make personal photos identifiable without explicitly tagging them or using labels. Riya’s method proved to be so popular that to date, they have over 10 Million photos uploaded by users in around 7 months. Comparing them to the most popular photo management and sharing application right now, Flickr took around 2 years to hit its 10 Million photo mark.

So what algorithmic prowess powered Riya? Riya performed its image recognition tasks based on a learning system which probabilisticly just learns whether the face is right or wrong. Keep feeding the system examples and achieve a base line to determine whether or not the answer returned matches the query performed. It also used contextual recognition to identify a face based on their nose, jewellery, clothes etc.

The switch from Riya to Like.com: According to Riya’s CEO Munjal Shah, where riya.com represented the company web 1.0 effort, like.com is their web 2.0 front. One of the reasons for their switch was that riya’s customer base did not search their own photos everyday. An equally important reason was that riya1.0 did not allow them to make any money out of it. Hence when they switched to like.com, they are focussed on products which together constitute a $30 Billion online market.Imagine the power to be able to take this industry to a whole different level by allowing people to search for exactly what they want and not just describe what they want as they do through any other search engine.

Motive behind like.com and how Riya managed to acquire it. Like.com is being built as a visual search engine, looking for things that are similar. Like.com fits the bill perfectly. As expected, like.com was not a domain that was freely available. In order to acquire this domain, looking up the owner through whois or emailing him did not work. So they tracked him down to his address, left a nice bottle of champagne along with their contact info. That seemed to have done the trick as the guy calls Riya back and bought it out for $100,000. Other names which Riya considered for their new initiative was better.com which was being quoted at $450,000. In the end, like.com it was. This is a pretty smart move too with respect to search engine rankings as any query you type in say ” I really like the Halo Master Chief costume” and you can be sure, like.com would be right up there with an answer to your query.

So, what is like.com. What are the brains behind it.. and what about the people behind this brain? Like is a visual search engine, the first on the web, where you can submit a photo as your query. Right now, for their initial launch, the search works best for aesthetic products such as shoes, shirts, jewellery, handbags. This is a feature lacking in most of the search engines out there as it is something that can’t be described in text… stuff with designs, china patterns in anything less than a paragraph. They are launching with about 200 merchants such as Amazon, eLuxury, ice.com, ShoeBuy, Zappos etc and about 2 million unique products. However, expect this number to significantly grow within the next couple of weeks. They are launching with 1000 cores or 250 servers with 16Gigs of RAM on each of these machines to handle the tremendous amount of image processing. This huge amount of processing power is needed because like also lets you dig into more details of a picture which compare a section of the visual signature of each product and then compare it against other sections of each product. Say, you like the buckle of a handbag, you can then go search for other similar handbags which have that kind of buckle. Also, when people start uploading pictures for comparison, image quality does matter. The system also has a full text based search engine too, you can drill down by brand name too if you so desire.

Gears of WarA third-person tactical shooter from Epic, running on the Unreal Engine 3. Gears of War thrusts gamers into a deep and harrowing story of humankind’s epic battle for survival against the Locust Horde, a nightmarish race of creatures that surface from the bowels of the planet.Unlike other shooters, Gears of War is all about teamwork in a big way. All game modes, levels and scenarios are designed specifically to encourage co-operative play, whether it be with A.I. partners or human players (with A.I. teammates designed with specific strengths, weaknesses and personalities.) On top of that, voice recognition will be available for players, and obviously voice chat to discuss strategy with your friends. In addition to voice chat, gamers will be able to experience individualized matchmaking, view player statistics, earn player achievements, customize their games, and build and personalize their gamer profiles.Gears of War

Games and Hollywood.. aahh.  Although their marriage has not resulted in mind blowing Oscar winning material, they never fall short on entertainment. Most of the video game movie adaptions generally have a common theme: The movie is about bad guys assembling the pieces of an ancient stone triangle/relic/artifact/disease in order to control the world’s supply of American cheese. No, that can’t be right: in order to control all the power in the world. Yes, that’s it. In this video-game-to-movie-genre, most of us, including yours truly have been waiting for Halo the movie, by Peter Jackson(LOTR fame) to come out. However, I am sure you might have been disappointed by the recent news that it has been put on the backburner.

Halo movie poster with Master Chief 

While the rest of the world waits for Master Chief to come and rescue us, in this article, we will take a look at the top 10 game-to-movie adaptions so far.

#10. Pokemon – the First Movie – Mewtwo vs Mew

Pokemon the movieStarring: Veronica Taylor, Rachael Lillis Director: Michael Haigney, Kunihiko Yuyama

Synopsis: Pokemon first came out as a video game for the Game boys. The games were decent, but nothing special. The world domination of Pokémon begets their first theatrical movie. This adventure is a little more complex and dark than the popular TV series, but kids who live for the show will gobble up this film and ask for seconds. Those baffled by the show’s popularity, however, will see nothing better here. Mewtwo, a new type of Pokémon designed by scientists to be the ultimate fighter, decides he wants to rule the world and challenges all the great Pokémasters to battle. Of course, our intrepid heroes Ash, Misty, and Brock are there to tangle with Mewtwo and spoil his devilish schemes. The film is a tad more emotional than the show (that is, there is some emotion), with Ash sacrificing himself to defend his beloved Pikachu (but don’t you worry, Ash will be just fine).