Archive for November, 2009

It’s all in the minds – The Man Who Thinks He Can!

I couldn’t resist sharing this gem:

The Man Who Thinks He Can Attitude is Everything!


If you think you are beaten, you are;

If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you’d like to win, but think you can’t
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost.
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will:
It’s all in his state of mind.

If you think you’re outclassed, you are:
You’ve got to think high to rise,
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You’ll ever win that prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the one who thinks he can.

 

Attributed to WALTER D. WINTLE, “The Man Who Thinks He Can.”—Poems That Live Forever, comp. Hazel Felleman, p. 310 (1965).
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Learnt Vs. Learned – What’s the difference?

In commonwealth countries, people use “learnt” for past tense and past participle for learn. Here’s an explanation from AskOxford on this matter:

http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/aboutspelling/learnt

What is the difference between ‘learnt’ and ‘learned’?

* Learnt is more common in British English, and learned in American English.
* There are a number of verbs of this type (burn, dream, kneel, lean, leap, spell, spill, spoil etc.).
* They are all irregular verbs, and this is a part of their irregularity.

The *prescriptive* answer is:

“learned” should used in phrases such as “a learned professor”, in which case it is pronounced with two syllables.
“learnt” should be used in phrases like “I learnt a valuable lesson today”.

The *descriptive* answer in British English is:
“learned” is used in phrases such as “a learned professor”, in which case it is pronounced with two syllables.
Either “learnt” or “learned” are used interchangably in phrases like “I learnt a valuable lesson today”.

The *descriptive* answer in American English is:
There is no such word as “learnt”. Use “learned” always.

Learned and learnt are basically the same. They are both used as the past tense form and past participle of “learned”.

Google search for both the words results in:

* EDU(USA) sites : I learned/learnt 3,860,000/158,000 I have learned/learnt 8,350,000/171,000 learned man/learnt man 2,970,000/59,900

* UK sites : I learned/learnt 1,600,000/1,950,000 I have learned/learnt 3,940,000/1,720,000 learned man/learnt man 1,730,000/763,000

What the results tell are:

1. American speakers mostly use “learned” for the past and the verbal past participle, while “learned” and “learnt” share roughly equal among British speakers.
2. “Learnt” is used as an adjectival past participle in neither American English nor British English.

Linguistic specialists suggest them to be used in the following ways:
LEARN is the present tense, and the conjugated form of the verb “to learn”.
It can be converted to the past tense in the following ways:
I LEARNED lots of things along the way. The main verb is “learned”.
LEARNT is the “past participle” in the following sentences. (Past participles are used in conjunction with other verbs).
I have learnt not to be prejudiced towards Americans or people of other nationalities. (creziauk!)
I had learnt my lesson on peer pressure, the hard way.

To summarize, both learned and learnt are alternative spellings of the past tense and past participle of the verb learn.

Learnt is more common in British English, and learned in American English.

In addition, there are a number of verbs of the type -ed ~ -t:

burned, burnt
dreamed, dreamt
kneeled, knelt
leaned, leant
leaped, leapt
spelled, spelt
spilled, spilt
spoiled, spoilt

All are irregular verbs.

Fixing the back button for Ajax apps to enable bookmarking into history – jQuery, ASP.NET Ajax, YUI & other ways

Most of you might already be aware of the paradigm shift problem in ajax apps in terms of the browser back button not working out of the box.

The problem and some of the generic solutions to it is described in more detail in the following articles. Suffice is to say that by integrating ergonomic display features such as back and forward navigation, we can make it simpler and more intuitive for the end user to immerse into the richer internet applications (RIA) that we can now create:

Fixing the Back Button and Enabling Bookmarking for AJAX Apps

AJAX: How to Handle Bookmarks and Back Buttons, Advanced Example

Fixing the back button that AJAX broke

AJAX: How to Handle Bookmarks and Back Buttons

How to build a cross-browser history management system

Now here’s Microsoft’s effort in solving the problem with the help of ASP.NET AJAX library:

Enable Back button support in ASP.NET AJAX web sites – This is a server-centric solution that gets translated into client side history management code.

Managing browser history from client script

ASP.NET AJAX History Part 2: Client-Side

AJAX History and ASP.NET AJAX Preview 3

Client History Points in ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions

The link below is a Yahoo Developer Network effort in attending the issue:

YUI 2: Browser History Manager

Now onto the implementations by my most favorite JavaScript library (I would love to call it a Framework someday soon!) jQuery. There are tons of jQuery plugins that do this. All but one of them below uses address mangling technique in the form of page.aspx#5 to solve the problem. There are pros and cons for both the techniques as explicitly assigning mangled address like that helps in bookmarking. Whereas, if you don’t want to show the values you want to store in the history to the user, then hidden iframe technique below comes in handy:

jQuery BBQ: Back Button & Query Library

History/Remote – jQuery plugin solution for hijaxing links and enabling history

Restoring conventional page navigation to your javascript application with jQuery history plugin

jQuery History Plugin – Uses hidden iframe technique so that the address is not mangled with hash.

jQuery Address – Deep linking plugin – Supports Deep linking

History plugin

jHistory plugin

 

 

Weekly Link Roundup – November 21, 2009

Economics:

A Visual Guide to the Financial Crisis

A visual illustration of how the entire global financial crisis or credit crunch started in a flow chart manner. Things can’t be expressed any easier!

The Crisis of Credit Visualized

Video illustration of the global credit crisis. This is a two part series.

Golden Parachutes: How the Bankers Went Down

Excellent depiction of how the bankers and in essence the entire banking system went down.

Invest in Gold Without Getting Scammed

What glitter isn’t always gold. Investing in gold and other precious metals is one of the best ways to maintain your footing in an otherwise unstable economy. But while gold, silver, platinum (and their lesser known cousins ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, and iridium) have maintained their status as solid investments, you need to be wary of unscrupulous dealers and the many scams they perpetrate on unsuspecting investors …

Infographic:

The rebirth of the infographic

Complex data-based images are all the rage now. Are infographics worth your time? As data and graphic design tools become more widely available, the infographic is becoming the trendy way to display complex data sets to readers …

5 Tips For Building Effective Infographics

Infographics (short for Information Graphics) are part design, part data visualization. Like generic data visualization tools such as charts and graphs, infographics typically represent some data in a way that a viewer can quickly understand. But infographics are customized specifically to the data, topic, and audience – each infographic is essentially a creative work that gets a point across.

By pairing your infographic with software, you can allow people to interact with the visualization and explore the concepts, giving a more powerful and immediate ability to understand the point you are making.

Inspired by the visualizations that we regularly see in Good Magazine, Wired, and New York Times, we created some sample interactive infographics. Take a look at obesity trends in America, or explore the job roles that go into creating a web site.

Creating a slick infographic needs a bit more effort than is needed to fire up a generic charting or graphing tool. But the extra work can really pay off, making your visualization stand out from the crowd.

And to help you out, the above is a compiled list of handy tips for creating effective infographics …

The Anatomy Of An Infographic: 5 Steps To Create A Powerful Visual

Information is very powerful but for the most bit it is bland and unimaginative. Infographics channel information in a visually pleasing, instantly understandable manner, making it not only powerful, but extremely beautiful. Once used predominantly to make maps more approachable, scientific charts less daunting and as key learning tools for children, inforgraphics have now permeated all aspects of the modern world …

NiXLOG | INFOGRAPHICS

The infographics weblog above is a running collection of links to infographics found on the web through my own research and the submissions of many individuals.

Often more powerful than words or imagery alone, infographics utilize visual elements of design and words to convey a message in such a way that context, meaning and understanding are trancended to the observer in a manner not previously experienced. The observer becomes enlighted, having learned from the visual feast and is motivated to seek out more knowledge in this medium. They can present a wealth of information without intimidating you. Or sometimes they intimidate you, but make the digesting of the information much more bearable …

Websites as graphs

Everyday, we look at dozens of websites. The structure of these websites is defined in HTML, the lingua franca for publishing information on the web. Your browser’s job is to render the HTML according to the specs (most of the time, at least). You can look at the code behind any website by selecting the “View source” tab somewhere in your browser’s menu.

HTML consists of so-called tags, like the A tag for links, IMG tag for images and so on. Since tags are nested in other tags, they are arranged in a hierarchical manner, and that hierarchy can be represented as a graph. This blogger has written a little app that visualizes such a graph, and there are some screenshots of websites from that.

Visualcomplexity.com | A visual exploration on mapping complex networks

VisualComplexity.com intends to be a unified resource space for anyone interested in the visualization of complex networks. The project’s main goal is to leverage a critical understanding of different visualization methods, across a series of disciplines, as diverse as Biology, Social Networks or the World Wide Web. I truly hope this space can inspire, motivate and enlighten any person doing research on this field.

InfoGraphic Designs: Overview, Examples and Best Practices

Information graphics or infographics are visual representations of information, data or knowledge. These graphics are used where complex information needs to be explained quickly and clearly, such as in signs, maps, journalism, technical writing, and education. They are also used extensively as tools by computer scientists, mathematicians, and statisticians to ease the process of developing and communicating conceptual information.

Data Visualization and Infographics Resources

Information graphics or infographics are visual representations of information, data or knowledge. These graphics are used where complex information needs to be explained quickly and clearly, such as in signs, maps, journalism, technical writing, and education. They are also used extensively as tools by computer scientists, mathematicians, and statisticians to ease the process of developing and communicating conceptual information …

Art of Speaking:

Art of Speaking

Here you will find Tips & Techniques, Vocabulary, Templates, Images, and other resources for your Presentations.

The Art of Speaking: “There is a special circle in hell for those who use laser pointers,” this and other advice from a master speaker.

Some great tips and advices for mastering the art of speaking.

Compression:

Port80 Compression Check

Just enter a website and get a detailed report for Compression status i.e. Compressed (gzip), Original size, Compressed size, Savings in bytes, Percentage saved by compression, Transfer speed improvement etc.

Software Development:

Experts Announce Agreement on the 25 Most Dangerous Programming Errors – And How to Fix Them

Title says it all. This is a followup on the consensus list of the 25 most dangerous programming errors that lead to security bugs and that enable cyber espionage and cyber crime.

Explained: ASP.NET Formula for Reducing Contention

The formula for reducing contention can give you a good empirical start for tuning the ASP.NET thread pool. Consider using the Microsoft product group-recommended settings if the following conditions are true:

  • You have available CPU.
  • Your application performs I/O bound operations such as calling a Web method or accessing the file system.
  • The ASP.NET Applications/Requests In Application Queue performance counter indicates that you have queued requests …

Breaking Down ‘Data Silos’ – The Open Data Protocol (OData)

The Open Data Protocol (OData) is a web protocol for querying and updating data. OData applies web technologies such as  HTTP, Atom Publishing Protocol (AtomPub) and JSON to provide access to information from a variety of applications, services, and stores. This protocol emerged organically based on the experiences implementing AtomPub clients and servers in a variety of products over the past several years. OData is being used to expose and access information from a variety of sources, including but not limited to relational databases, file systems, content management systems, and traditional web sites. Microsoft has released OData under the Open Specification Promise (OSP) to allow anyone to freely interoperate with OData implementations. We intend on working with the community to move the features of OData into future version of AtomPub or other appropriate standards.

OData is consistent with the way the web works. OData makes a deep commitment to URIs as a means to identify resources (just like the web). OData commits to an HTTP-centric protocol with a uniform interface for interacting with those resources (again, just like the web). OData builds on the conventions over HTTP popularized by AtomPub, which have simplified the process of sharing data, content and information across independently developed systems. OData defines additional conventions that implementations may optionally implement to support basic query and schema information to be exchanged. To simplify integration with HTML and JavaScript clients, OData defines an optional JSON representation of the protocol that complements the XML-based AtomPub format …

Iframe related JavaScript Development:

Cross-Domain Communication with IFrames

Resizing an iframe according to its contents

jQuery : Auto iFrame Height

Mind:

Hack your brain – How to hallucinate with ping-pong balls and a radio

DO YOU EVER want to change the way you see the world? Wouldn’t it be fun to hallucinate on your lunch break? Although we typically associate such phenomena with powerful drugs like LSD or mescaline, it’s easy to fling open the doors of perception without them: All it takes is a basic understanding of how the mind works.

The first thing to know is that the mind isn’t a mirror, or even a passive observer of reality. Much of what we think of as being out there actually comes from in here, and is a byproduct of how the brain processes sensation. In recent years scientists have come up with a number of simple tricks that expose the artifice of our senses, so that we end up perceiving what we know isn’t real – tweaking the cortex to produce something uncannily like hallucinations. Perhaps we hear the voice of someone who is no longer alive, or feel as if our nose is suddenly 3 feet long …

Inflation, Deflation, Stagflation – Visual Guide

When hard core topics from economics such as Inflation, Deflation and Stagflation prop up in a discussion thread, things start to get blurry for the uninitiated.

It’s almost head scratching time when basic questions like these beat you to death:

What is Deflation and How Can it Be Prevented? Is printing money going to solve this?

What is Stagflation?

Why does money have value?

Are Diamonds Forever?

Then I came upon two gems to unravel some of the mystery. Have a look at the infographic representation:

A Visual Guide to Inflation

A Visual Guide to Deflation

Project Tip for Project Managers: Conducting a Pre-Mortem

As we all know, a Post-Mortem helps us learn why a patient has died. A Pre-Mortem explores why a project might die in the future. Rather than conducting a project post-mortem, after a project has died, why not conduct an imaginary project pre-mortem at the start of the project? Here’s how Gary Klein describes the approach in September’s ‘Harvard Business Review’.

“I find it works well at the end of an open space after the planning process is complete. It injects an additional level of realism into the plans.” – source

“Research conducted in 1989 by Deborah J. Mitchell, of the Wharton
School; Jay Russo, of Cornell; and Nancy Pennington, of the University
of Colorado, found that prospective hindsight — imagining that an
event has already occurred — increases the ability to correctly
identify reasons for future outcomes by 30%.”

  1. Materials:
    • Butcher’s paper (or whiteboard) and markers to write things up.
  2. Time:
    • From 30 minutes to 3 hours depending upon the size and complexity of the project.
  3. Directions:
    • Step 1: Preparation. Team members take out sheets of paper and get relaxed in their chairs. They should already be familiar with the plan, or else have the plan described to them so they can understand what is supposed to be happening.
    • Step 2: Imagine a fiasco. When I conduct the Pre-Mortem, I say I am looking into a crystal ball and, oh no, I am seeing that the project has failed. It isn’t a simple failure either. It is a total, embarrassing, devastating failure. The people on the team are no longer talking to each other. Our company is not talking to the sponsors. Things have gone as wrong as they could. However, we could only afford an inexpensive model of the crystal ball so we cannot make out the reason for the failure. Then I ask, “What could have caused this?”
    • Step 3: Generate reasons for failure. The people on the team spend the next three minuted writing down all the reasons why they believe the failure occurred. Here is where intuitions of the team members come into play. Each person has a different set of experiences, a different set of scars, and a different mental model to bring to this task. You want to see what the collective knowledge in the room can produce.
    • Step 4: Consolidate the lists. When each member of the group is done writing, the facilitator goes around the room, asking each person to state one item from his or her list. Each item is recorded in a whiteboard. This process continues until every member of the group has revealed every item on their list. By the end of this step, you should have a comprehensive list of the group’s concerns with the plan as hand.
    • Step 5: Revisit the plan. The team can address the two or three items of greatest concern, and then schedule another meeting to discuss ideas for avoiding or minimising other problems.
    • Step 6: Periodically review the list. Some project leaders take out the list every three to four months to keep the spectre of failure fresh, and re-sensitise the team to the problems that may be emerging.

References

  1. Klein, G. (2003). Intuition at Work: Why Developing Your Gut Instincts Will Make You Better at What You Do. New York, Currency Doubleday.
  2. Performing a Project Premortem Harvard Business Review, September 2007 By Gary Klein, ARA Klein Associates Division.