All About Microsoft Azure

I have just published a long coverage article about Microsoft Azure: All About Microsoft Azure. Even if the title is in Romanian, most of the article can be useful for English readers.

Microsoft Azure

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Short Version of The Tipping Point

I just finished reading the well-known book written by Malcolm Gladwell: The Tipping Point. This is the sort of book that you can summarize in just a couple of sentences (that’s not to say it is not a good reading).

The book is built around the central thesis that:

Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do.

Malcom Gladwell

If you want yours do the same then what you are looking for is:

  • finding the right people (connectors, mavens and salesmen)
  • making your message sticky (a message that sticks around, that is easy to be remembered, etc)
  • paying much attention to and using the context

Even if I was able to summarize it in just 2 paragraphs, the book was an enjoyable read, full of interesting and sticky stories that are helpful in understanding the above ideas.

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Ice Hockey: Games on 10/23

NHL games scheduled for today:

  • tor.pngToronto Maple Leafs (TOR) 23:6-2-1 – bos.pngBoston Bruins (BOS) 14:2-1-3 (7:00PM)
  • dal.pngDallas Stars (DAL) 21 – nyi.pngNew York Islanders (NYI) 29 (7:00PM)
  • car.pngCarolina Hurricanes (CAR) 12:3-1-1 – pit.pngPittsburgh Penguins (PIT) 7:4-2-1 (7:30PM)
  • cgy.pngCalgary Flames (CGY) 24:2-3-1 – nsh.pngNashville Predators (NSH) 18:3-3-0 (8:00PM)
  • buf.pngBuffalo Sabres (BUF) 4:5-0-1 – min.pngMinnesota Wild (MIN) 11:4-0-0 (8:00PM)
  • edm.pngEdmonton Oilers (EDM) 9:4-1-0 – col.pngColorado Avalanche (COL) 17:3-3-0 (9:30PM)
  • wsh.pngWashington Capitals (WSH) 13:3-2-1 – phx.pngPhoenix Coyotes (PHX) 28:2-3-0 (10:00PM)

Which one is the game of the day? I’d say Sabres vs Wild and Hurricanes vs Penguins, but what do I know 🙂.

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Ice Hockey: What team should I watch?

I don’t think I’ve said it before, but I really love hockey (and to be correct ice hockey). Anyways, in my part of the world, there isn’t much happening related to ice hockey. Indeed, we have a couple of teams playing a regular season, but the level is really disappointing. So, the best I can get is to wait for the Ice Hockey World Championship and hope that some TV channel will broadcast a couple of the final games.

Well, things are changing! Not about our ice hockey league and unfortunately not about broadcasted games. (in case you cannot identify one of nhl team logo you can drop me a comment, as I’ve spent some time learning them)

Couple of weeks ago, I’ve been to Toronto and even if I was really busy at that time, I had the chance to watch a couple of NHL games for the 2008-09 season. Man, I love that! And now I am really trying to follow NHL much closely.

There is one small issue though. I don’t know what team I should be watching! I guess you are usually a fan of your hometown team, but as long as I don’t live in US or Canada things are a bit different. So, I am wondering: what team would you recommend me? I know this may sound a bit stupid and that it will be difficult to become a real fan, but I do think that I should have one or two teams that I should be more fanatic about. So, what team are you a fan of? And why?

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Python, Unicode and UTF8

I’ve thought of putting together a short list of links as a reference on how to handle Unicode, UTF8 in Python.

Before jumping to Python resources, you should also read Joel’s article on Unicode and Character sets (before going forward you need to be sure that Unicode and UTF8 are clear).

Python, Unicode and UTF8

You can read about unicode in the newer versions 2.6 and 3.0 respectively.

Python 3.0 has completely revamped Unicode usage and even if I don’t think there are many places where Py3k is in production, you should make sure that you read about these changes.

If you have other good links about Python, Unicode and UTF8 just drop a comment.

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Quick Python Reference

Python support for Internet Protocols

The documentation for the packages for Internet Protocol handling can be found at Internet Protocols and Support

  • urllib: This module provides a high-level interface for fetching data across the World Wide Web
  • urllib2: efines functions and classes which help in opening URLs (mostly HTTP) in a complex world — basic and digest authentication, redirections, cookies and more.
  • httplib: defines classes which implement the client side of the HTTP and HTTPS protocols. It is normally not used directly — the module urllib uses it to handle URLs that use HTTP and HTTPS.
  • urlparse: defines a standard interface to break URL strings up in components (addressing scheme, network location, path etc.), to combine the components back into a URL string, and to convert a “relative URL” to an absolute URL given a “base URL.”
  • cookielib: defines classes for automatic handling of HTTP cookies. It is useful for accessing web sites that require small pieces of data – cookies – to be set on the client machine by an HTTP response from a web server, and then returned to the server in later HTTP requests.
  • Cookie: defines classes for abstracting the concept of cookies, an HTTP state management mechanism. It supports both simple string-only cookies, and provides an abstraction for having any serializable data-type as cookie value.
  • uuid: provides immutable UUID objects (the UUID class) and the functions uuid1(), uuid3(), uuid4(), uuid5() for generating version 1, 3, 4, and 5 UUIDs as specified in RFC 4122.

urllib2 tricks

As far as I can tell urllib2 supports by default only GET and POST requests (ref). In order to be able to generate the other types of requests (PUT, DELETE, OPTION) I think you’ll need to extend urllib2.Request and override the get_method() method to return the type of request you want to make.

Special method names

A class can implement certain operations that are invoked by special syntax (such as arithmetic operations or subscripting and slicing) by defining methods with special names.This is Python’s approach to operator overloading, allowing classes to define their own behavior with respect to language operators.

Special method names

The How-To Guide for Descriptors defines descriptors, summarizes the protocol, and shows how descriptors are called.

classmethod and staticmethod

It’s still not very clear what is the difference between the @classmethod and @staticmethod (except the first parameter accepted by the annotated method — for @classmethod it is the class).

Future versions

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Wozniak: Where Is the Reward?

From a recent interview with Steve Wozniak:

The rewards are in your head. The reward is invisible. It’s what you like to do,

Sometimes when you’re short of resources it forces you to do better work

Steve wants to be this guy…who wants to change the world. Every time we’d create something great, he’d have the idea to sell it,

As the Apple computer’s designer, Wozniak got employee No. 1. “Sometimes I go into an Apple store and say ‘I’m an employee, I get a discount.’ They say, ‘What’s your number?'”

So, the secret is in passion and scarcity?

If you are interested in the Romanian online market (and you read Romanian), you can check my other blog: Koolapp: web-ul viitorului. web de calitate

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Did you Know that…

Did you know that the iPhone doesn’t allow background applications?

I know this sounds unbelievable, but 3rd party apps are really not allowed to run in background. You can ask Google to verify it.

Did you know that the Amazon EC2 filesystem was temporary?

As pointed in a previous post, the Amazon EC2 was not offering a persistent local filesystem and you had to use some smart setup using Amazon S3. Anyways, this is fixed now, as Amazon launched the Elastic Block Store.

Did you know that the iPhone doesn’t support Copy&Paste?

Wicked, ha? There is an open source initiative (OpenClip) to get this one fixed. Unfortunately, I am not sure that Apple will embrace it and so the Apple apps like Safari, email, and SMS, where copy&paste is really needed, will still miss it.

Do you know any other such wicked facts?

If you are interested in the Romanian online market (and you read Romanian), you can follow my other blogs: Koolapp: web-ul viitorului. web de calitate and Din fotoliu

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What Smartphone Would You Pick?

Lately I have spent some time trying to figure out what smartphone should I buy. I must confess upfront that I haven’t owned one before and sometimes I am quite picky.

The phones that caught my attention so far are:

  • Nokia E71
  • BlackBerry Bold 9000 (just released)
  • Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 (not released yet)
  • HTC Touch Pro (available) or HTC Dream (the Google Phone – not released yet)
  • iPhone 3G (not available from my carrier)

In terms of features most of these are looking pretty similar (one feature that I do consider quite important is the QWERTY keyboard). Unfortunately, in terms of costs, the phones span 2 different ranges: Nokia and BlackBerry being under €500, while the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 and HTC Touch Pro seems to be around €800. So, I’m wondering what would you recommend me?

I have also watched the Android demos on Gizmodo and the one below on MobileCrunch:

and even if I think the Android platform might be a good option, I am worried that the price of the HTC phone will be quite high.

Update 1: According to an article posted on VentureBeat: BlackBerry Bold is strong but ‘not a game changer’. Not sure what is missing, though.

If you are interested in the Romanian online market (and you read Romanian), you can follow my other blogs: Koolapp: web-ul viitorului. web de calitate and Din fotoliu

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Where do you put your web application?

Here is my question: say you have a pet project and you would like to put it live for a couple of friends to get feedback or for a very private alpha. What solution do you use?

I’ve been thinking about this for the last couple of days and even if I don’t have an answer, here is what I’ve looked at.

Google App Engine

Considering you have already got your Google App Engine account, then it looks like for a pet project/private alpha this option will be free. But you’ll have to conform to a set of very strong constraints:

  • the app must be developed in Python
  • you don’t have access to a real filesystem
  • you don’t have any scheduling capabilities
  • your app must be developed using the framework from Google. More or less – and this is not intended to start a flamewar – your app is locked in

Now, what I think is quite limiting with Google App Engine is the lack of any scheduling capabilities. Considering you can overpass all the other constraints, this one seems to me a very important missing part.

Amazon Cloud

The 2nd option I’ve been looking at is the Amazon cloud offering. The clear advantage over Google App Engine is the fact that you get a real OS where you can install everything you’d like. So, even a multi-language environment is ok.

The downside is evidently the fact that you have to take care yourself of the installation, upgrades, etc. Secondly, afaik, the Amazon EC2 is not yet offering a persistent local filesystem — it was announced for later this year — and so you’ll have to set up a custom solution for backing up your FS on Amazon S3. This is a constraint also for using normal relational databases. For dedicated persistence, Amazon has the SimpleDB, but this will also lead to have a locked-in-like app.

Traditional solutions

You can probably always go for the traditional solutions of using either a self-hosted server or use an ISP hosting. For these the pros and cons are quite clear and so I will not spend time on them.

As you can probably read between the lines, I’d prefer:

  • to have an environment that would allow me to use different language environments (Java, Python, Php, Ruby, etc.)
  • not be required to create a framework locked-in application

I would really appreciate if you can share what is your experience and what solution are you using.
Emphasizing the pros/cons that made you pick your choice will also help me a lot.

If you are interested in the Romanian online market (and you read in Romanian), you can follow my other blog: Koolapp: web-ul viitorului. web de calitate


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