Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cusbara - amazing parodic site!!!

If you're Israeli, or just concerned about the situation in Israel, you MUST visit Cusbara. As an example, check out their song about Israeli-made corruption. It's so sadly true you have to laugh, otherwise you won't stop crying...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Google Image Search API Fixed but...

I've updated the API to comply with the latest changes by Google. However, since the change required some code changes, in addition to the changes to the regular expressions, we will have to wait until the guys at CodeProject upload the new version to the site. I've sent them an email with a request to do it asap - usually it takes a few days. Hopefully this time it will be a little bit faster.

Update: I checked the article - it is now up-to-date. Please let me know if there are any more problems.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

What's wrong the Blogger search???

It's not the first time this happens to me, and it's starting to get on my nerves. Many of the things I write in my blog are mostly done for my own personal benefit - easily retrieval of data from anywhere I am.
Today I wanted to find my recipe for my lentil soup. I have it on paper somewhere, but not at my fingertips. So I opened my blog and did a blogsearch for "soup" inside my blog. Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? Well, my recipe was nowhere to be found, even when I tried other searches ("lentil", "rich", "Soup" with capital S, etc.).
The funny thing in all that is that when I do a simple search on Google, I get my recipe immediately.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Problems with the Google Image Search API

My Google Image Search API is currently broken. Apparently Google completely changed the format of the HTML they return, so the API doesn't work. I gave it a quick look and it seems that, unlike previous changes which tended to be rather limited, this time they completely changed the structure of the result, so I have to build the regular expressions from scratch. I'll try to do it in the next few days and post an update in 1 week or so.

Integrating Matlab and TFS

It IS possible to integrate Matlab with Team Foundation Server. Here are the steps you must take (I'm assuming Matlab and TFS Explorer are already installed on your machine):


  • Copy the existing registry entry for "Microsoft Team Foundation Server MSSCCI Provider" and give the new copy a shorter name, e.g., "MS Team Foundation Server".
  • In Matlab preferences (File => Preferences), select the "Source Control" subsection under "General"
  • Choose "MS Team Foundation Server" and click Apply.

That's it. From there on you can use TFS much like you would have used VSS. I suppose most new TFS features are not available, but at least you can do simple checkin/checkout, view history, compare files, etc.

Reference (requires a Mathworks login): http://www.mathworks.com/support/bugreports/details.html?rp=347563

אני לא ליצן

אבא: גל, תפסיקי לאכול את השקית
גל: אבל אני לא אוכלת אותה
אבא: גל, אני לא רוצה שתשימי את השקית בפה, גם אם את לא אוכלת אותה. אני לא צוחק איתך
גל: אבא, אתה לא מצחיק - אתה לא ליצן!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Did you know - Installing Team Foundation Server is a nightmare!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just to name some issues:

  1. Prerequisites (or Things You Should Install Yourself Because The TFS Setup Team Was Too Lazy To Make The Process Smooth And Automatic)
    1. IIS
    2. SQL 2005
      1. + Some hotfixes
    3. .NET 2.0
      1. + Some hotfixes
    4. SharePoint Services
    5. Team Foundation Server
    6. Visual Studio Team Foundation Server Quiescence GDR
    7. Visual Studio 2005 SP1
  2. The setup requires some 3-4 users to be already defined on the domain (that is - you don't have the option to add these during the installation process).
  3. TFS includes a license for SQL 2005 Standard Edition. But nobody tells you where you you can find the required Product Key. So we're now on the phone with Microsoft to figure that out...

I can understand problems related to the conversion of existing source management systems to TFS (up to some extent). But I NEVER thought ANY software could be THAT cumbersome to install. We didn't even reach the point of converting the data, and frankly if the setup is so complicated, I shiver at thinking of the complications we will encounter at converting...

AI to solve networking problems

Take a look at this excellent article on CodeProject. It describes the use of Ant Colony Optimisation algorithm for network load balancing.
Ever since I took the Anat Bremler-Barr's Advanced Networking course I've had the feeling AI algorithms could significantly help networking problems (not only routing, also various network attack detections for example). I've always been more attracted by Machine Learning algorithms rather than Ant and the like, but still, it's in the good direction...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Why aren't RSS readers smarter???

The blogosphere (both readers and writers) can be roughly split into two groups:

  • Those who believe bloggers must have an agenda and stick to it. These people believe that a blogger know to be "technical" shouldn't throw too many stuff about his private life at his readers, political views, etc. Some bloggers take it to the extreme and manage several blogs, each on a different subject (or various RSS feeds).
  • Those who believe bloggers should feel free to write whatever they feel like, and it's up to the readers to choose which post to read and which to skip. I'm in this group...

Well, it's fairly easy to merge these two groups. The only thing needed is some smart RSS reader, where you could define "rules" either per blog or general, which describe the content you are interested in and/or the content you don't even want to see. So if people reading my blog don't want to read my soup recipes, they can add a negative rule to my RSS feed and still enjoy (I hope) the rest of my posts. Alternatively, people who are only interested in stuff I write about search engines, could add a strongly positive rule, which will disregard the other posts. Of course, it would work better with blogs that are better organize than mine and also include tags...

As a side-note, this is a good example of applications that can be made much smarter than they are, but people just don't think hard enough how this could be done. Technically, it's no biggy. The only problem is to think about it. I think in many cases, the problem is that people designing the required features either don't understand software well enough, to see the wealth of possibilities, or are too strongly connected to the way developers think, and don't see what would really help the "simple" users.

The Angle of Health must be pissed off

I'm not a believer. Actually, I'm as far of a religious believer as one can be. But if there is some power orchestrating it all, it must have got something really strong against my family. If indeed there is such a power - then it's completely reciproqual and I'm really pissed off.

It started with all of us getting sick, for 1-2 weeks. That's not very nice with a 2-months old baby, but it's winter, so we can't really complain.

Then my wife's grandpa got sick and hospitalized. More on this later.

Then by big daughter, Gal, got sick again. This time, with a tenacious 40 degrees Celsius we just couldn't fight for several days.

Then my wife's grandpa lost the battle. He died last Thursday. I hope to be able to write a little more about this great man in a few days.

Now Gal is sick again. This time, she's got an extremely rapid fever. It can go up or down by more than 2 full degrees within the hour!! Most importantly, last night she had a (second) febrile convulsion. It's one of the most horrible experience a parent can have to endure. The most horrible thing is to hold your child in your hands for 5 full minutes, the whole body in seizure, not having anything to do to stop it. Once this nightmare is over, the whole body enters some kind of apathic state, and no matter how well you know it's going to fade away, you've got the conviction half her brain got fried by the seizure. Only after 10 more minutes did she start crying, and talking a bit, letting us know she's OK (the ambulance took some 20 minutes to arrive, of course).

So if you were wandering why I haven't been posting much lately, now you know ...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

WinSnap - makes screenshots better

WinSnap - makes screenshots better.
That's their motto, and it's o so true!!! I don't remember where I heard about it for the first time (maybe the Daily Grind? I'm not sure). Anyway, it's an amazingly cool little screenshots maker, which gives you literally all you need to do the task. When it loads, it automatically takes a screenshot, so it really takes a single click (or keyboard shortcut) to create a cool-looking screenshot.

Highlights (in my opinion):

  • Simple, no fuss. One click to create the snapshot, another to directly send it by mail/copy to clipboard/save image locally.
  • Various coloring and shadowing options.
  • Various capturing modes:
    • Full screen
    • Application
    • Window
    • Client
    • Popup menu
    • Region selection
  • Contour, Watermark, simple image manipulations.
  • Small.

Since I downloaded it I've made several tens of screenshots, some to be saved locally, others directly sent by mail. I wish all software I used was so simply tuned to fit the needs it was aimed to fullfil as WinSnap.

Sole problem I encountered: it's slightly slower at taking snapshots than I would expect (around 1 second). I'm greedy - I want it to be quasi-instantaneous (say 1/5 second).

Rating on Ilan scale: 9/10

UPDATE: I discovered in the Settings that there is a default delay of 1 second when you take a snapshot while the application is open. Once you change that to 1 ms you get the kind of performance I was expecting.
This changes the rating in my eyes to a perfect 10/10 !

Misradia.co.il - online shop (Israeli) review

I've been working from home for more than 2 years now. Every now and then I need some office stuff: recordable media, computer peripherals, printer paper, envelopes, etc.
Ever since I've started buying at Misradia I've been trying to do all my office purchases from there. The prices are good, they have a wealth of stuff, everything is always on stock (to my experience), very good service (via Skype). I made an order yesterday at 1PM. It arrived today at 11AM!!!


  • Good prices
  • All office stuff available in their catalog and it's all on stock
  • Extremely fast delivery
  • Good service
  • Simple and intuitive site
  • Free door-to-door delivery (for large orders)


  • Sometimes the packages are not sufficiently well organized and some things arrive crumpled. Usually it's only the carton box that contains the goods.
  • Some articles lack more thorough details on the site. Some lack good pictures.
  • There is a fairly high minimum order to get a door-to-door delivery (I think it's 223 NIS). So you should calculate your orders carefully to fully enjoy this benefit.

Rating on Ilan scale: 9 (of 10)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Making public transportation easier - an application idea

Tonight I tried helping my sister to figure out how she could get to Jerusalem, in the middle of the night, through public transportation.
For my non-Israeli readers - in Israel there is one major inter-city bus company (Egged) with a few minor ones. Egged also has most intra-city busses, except for Tel-Aviv where it's the Dan company. For inter-city traveling there is also an ever-growing train company. There are no subways of any kind. Most information for these companies is available online.
Now, from where she is, there are several ways to travel to Jerusalem (mainly Afula, Haifa, Tel-Aviv). The thing is - how do you find the best path?
All these companies provide a means to retrieve very straight-forward information. For example, given a bus number - show me the hours of departure. Or given a source and destination. However, none help you actually plan the trip, when you need more than one means of transportation. Let's not even speak of plans that include both busses and trains.
The thing is that it should be fairly easy to do it - there are relatively few companies (2 main ones), all providing an online search form. Writing such an application shouldn't be complicated, and would obviously help a lot of people.

Just an idea...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


"iPhone combines three products — a revolutionary mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and a breakthrough Internet communications device with desktop-class email, web browsing, maps, and searching — into one small and lightweight handheld device. ..."

And when you peek at the technical properties, you really start druling like a Rotweiler. Some goodies:

  • Wide screen iPod (4/8 GB)
  • GSM Quad band (for those wondering - works in Israel)
  • Wi-Fi, EDGE, Bluetooth
  • 5 hours Talk/Video/Browsing, 16 hours audio playback
  • 115 x 61 x 11.6 mm
  • 135 grams
  • 2 MP camera

Take a look!!!

More info:


(Thanks to my friend Gil for telling me about this little gem)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Things that make me hate good software

I've been using Foxit Reader instead of Acrobat for over a year, and I must say that I am generally very pleased with it. I really love it - it's fast (way faster than Acrobat), relatively low memory footprint, supports all PFD files I read (there were some issues with the previous version but the new one really works like a charm) and doesn't even require installation.

But ...

A few days ago I wanted to use their PDF printer add-on. Never mind the fact that it didn't work and got completely stuck - I managed without it in the end. But today I wanted to print something from Outlook, and guess what - they automatically replaced my default printer to be the Foxit PDF Printer!!!

Now THAT's something that can make me really HATE, otherwise EXCELLENT software!!!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Excellent security blog

Alik Levin has started posting very seriously (31 posts last month). His blog is very much focussed on security issues, and it's a real gem. His post are concise and thorough at the same time, each post focussing on a very special topic each of us has/will encounter at some point.
Highly recommended for anyone working with .NET and/or SQL Server.