Firefox 3 download to be made available tonight IST

Firefox 3 – the latest version of web browser from mozilla would be available for download tonight here. These guys are attempting a World Record by clocking 1 million downloads in the first 24 hours. By the no of pledges that they have received so far (~ 1.5 million) I wouldn’t be surprised if they manage to do it.

 

World Record or no, I’m really looking forward to this newer version of the web browser which apparently has a lot of improvements. I have tried the beta version and it *looked* great. Unfortunately didn’t use much since my add-ons were not supported. Hope that the release will come along with all popular add-ons

Send/Receive SMS using Java

In the last couple of months for some reason or the other I have faced a requirement to send/receive SMS for the applications that I have been working on. This post talks about how I achieved the same.

There are plenty of SMS vendors that provide simple APIs (typically HTTP based) that allow one to send an SMS. Once you register with any vendor (typically after paying), then all it takes to send an SMS is to invoke a URL programmatically. I have been using http://sms.sms2india.info for my last project and have been pretty happy with their service. The service gives me 500 credits (500 SMS) for Rs 300/- (60 paisa an SMS – which I’m okay to spend). To know more about the API format, visit their website and click on Developer API Link.

If for any reason, you don’t like this option; There are other ways of sending an SMS. I had earlier written a simple application that could interact with a handset connected with the computer over serial cable through AT Commands and instruct it to send an SMS. It could also read the inbox in similar manner. Other options include professional services that provide interface with an SMSC over simpler APIs. Check out this product from Simple Wire. Though I haven’t really used it, but it looks fairly neat.

I’m pretty sure there are plenty of other options that exist and might probably be better for one reason or the other. If you know of some, please feel free to add a comment.

To receive an SMS, you would need to set up a short-code. There are plenty of vendors that allow one to do this. Searching Google with keywords like “SMS Shortcode India” for example will expose you a list of vendors. Once you get a short code registered for yourself (again by paying some amount), for a particular keyword, your vendor would allow you to configure handling of this keyword. If your application requirements are static in nature, it will provide tools to send you notifications (email or sms) on every sms that comes to your short-code. If your needs are dynamic, then you can set up the key-word so that it hits a URL (of your application) passing on the incoming sms along with the sender’s mobile number and whatever you return (in plain text) is sent back to the sender.

6 reasons to take up freelancing : A Gurgaon Based Freelancer

Its been six months since I quit my last regular job. I have been working as a freelance software developer in this duration. I have really enjoyed freelancing and provide below a few good reason for you to consider it as well.

Increased Productivity

As a freelancer, I’m more productive at work. The reasons for this are not difficult to understand – I concentrate on completing my work. There are not too many meetings; There are not too many coffee breaks; there is no office politics to be worried about. All these things that usually have a negative impact on a person’s productivity are not there at work any more – Hence a boost in productivity.

Sharper Learning Curve

This one too is not difficult to understand either. Since the duration of work at different assignments would be shorter as compared to regular job the learning curve would obviously be sharper. For example, in the last 6 months I have written an application to simulate increasing load on a web-site and monitoring its performance; I have worked on building an application over salesforce’s force.com platform; I have written a scrapper application that can compare prices of similar products on different websites & last but not the least I have built a website – http://www.chahiye.info with a partner.

More Hands On

If you have a decent number of years of experience in IT industry in India, you would have noticed how quickly on joining an organization you are given a team to mentor and grow. Gradually as the team grows, your daily routine moves away from actually solving technical problems to helping your team solve them for you. This definitely takes away the fun out of work. With Freelancing there is no team to worry about. Its only you and the problem – the stronger one would win (and here I hate to lose)

Better Paying

Freelancing work usually fetches more money as compared to a regular job. The organization hiring you (as a freelancer) does not much over-head in maintaining you as an employee. There is no PF, no medical insurance, no stock options, no annual increment/bonus, No need to worry about under-performance; no need to worry about quality of work assignment etc. All these reasons are good enough for an organization to dish out slightly more than a regular employee of similar back-ground.

Leaves with you more CPU cycles

With a regular job, a work assignment was more like “My Work” which resulted in my mind spending more time thinking about it. Even after work the mind was usually at work. A bright idea could strike in the shower or any where else. However with freelancing the association with work is not that tight – Somehow that association with work is weakened. Though I still think about work when away from it, but the frequency has reduced. As a result you are left with more free thinking time.

Stand-out in the crowd

Not many people in India seem to be doing what I have chosen for myself. This can be considered as an advantage as well as a disadvantage. When relatives ask me what do I do – I’m at a loss at explaining them. However I’m already getting exposure to meeting a lot of interesting people at a lot of interesting companies doing a lot of interesting work. This advantage clearly out-weighs the disadvantage.

Windows Live Writer

I just downloaded Windows Live Writer and the tools looks great.

It allows basic editing capabilities that I get directly from blogger. I’m hoping to use this as a single window for managing my own and chahiye’s Blog. Setting it up against my blogger account was a breeze and I hope it would be as easy with chahiye’s blog (wordpress based) as well. It appears to support features like editing & supports adding tables and provides a neat way to organize un-finished posts. It also allows to publish at a later date (I’m sure I can use this feature sometime).

I’m sure there would be plenty of other tools out there doing similar things. If you know of other such tools, please let me know about it and your experience of the same.

BarCamp Delhi 4 was great

Bar Camp Delhi 4 just got over yesterday night. Came back home after the event around 10:30 pm saturday night richer with some new friends & a great experience.

This time I was a bit involved in organizing the event as well. It all started last weekend, when I got a call from Piyush Gupta (Co-Founder routeguru.com) who wanted to know if I can help him out with organizing the event. To that I agreed only to realize that a lot of work was still to be done. With even the venue to be finalized, I remember telling him on the phone that I don’t think we will make it. I’m happy to acknowledge that I was wrong – BarCamp Delhi 4 happened and it happened well.

Last weekend; besides calling me, Piyush had called up few other guys as well. He pulled together this small team of people who wanted the event to happen and were willing to set aside some time from their schedule to contribute towards it. What was remarkable was that no-body in this team had ever met any body else but we could still all work on TODO items and get rid of them one by one.
When I had last checked at the registration desk (sometime around 4pm on the event day) there were around 180 people who had registered. The venue – Amit Campus had two locations for Bar Campers ; a Huge Auditorium and an Incubation Center comprising of various small rooms that were utilized for sessions. There were around 25 sessions there.
I had given a session too on Salesforce which went fine. Nirat’s session was well received as well. This time we did two new events called Bug Tales and Web Tweaks which went great. There were around 25 odd hard-core techies in a room where a lot of interesting bugs & tweaks were discussed. Two Ipods were given out too as prizes.
Chahiye.info had sponsored the stationary which included a really cool folder and a pad along with our fliers. A lot of people checked out our website during the event and gave good feedback. The good news is that almost everybody liked the design of the site.

Announcing Chahiye.info

Last couple of weeks, besides developing a salesforce application for one of my clients, I was also involved in building a new website – http://www.chahiye.info along with a couple of friends. Yesterday night (9th May’ 08) at around 10pm IST we moved the site from staging to live environment on our servers. Do have a look at the site and let me know your views.

About chahiye.info

Through chahiye.info, we intend to be bring various Services to our customers offering them un-paralleled customer service. To start-off we are doing a pilot in Gurgaon with Real Estate sector where we intend to reduce the pain involved in searching for an apartment at a negative cost to the end customer (we are offering cash back) . The way it works is pictorially described in the image below (click to expand).


We are also offering free APPLE IPODs for referrals. So if you know people who are looking out for an apartment in NCR region, do refer your friends here – if we are successful in helping out your friend, you will win a free IPOD shuffle delivered directly to your home.

The team is raring to go and our road map includes launching other services soon. If you wish to stay updated on the happenings, you might want to add chahiye.info/blog to your Feed Reader.

Google Apps from within Salesforce

Very recently Google and Salesforce tied up to make Google Apps accessible to SF users. Here are more details about the story on Tech Crunch.

Since, I’m right now involved in building an application over Salesforce’s force.com platform, I was kind of excited and was waiting for google apps to be made available. To my surprise I saw links for “Google Apps” showing up in my SF account. The speed with which this came out was pretty cool.

Check-out the video below to know more on how the two work together.

Adding a WYSIWYG Editor on a HTML Text Area

One of the applications that I’m currently working on required me to write a small Java program that allowed users to send email from a web page. [Yeah – Nothing so great about it but sending emails is not what this post is about]. The page allowed user with basic email facilities and also supported Email Attachments (Thanks to Apache commons File upload). It allowed users to compose text emails through a regular HTML Text Area.

On Completing the application, one of the first enhancement that came my way was to enable rich text & spell checker in the body of the email. This initially looked quite a challenge to me as I had no clue how to go about building this. However After spending some time with my dear friend – Google, I found a couple of Tools that could help me out. I ended up using FCKEditor, which enabled writing/editing rich text through Java Script.

The product was not very costly (license details can be found here) & was fairly easy to set up. After a couple of hours, I managed to set it up properly and the HTML text area in my form got modified to that shown below (click to en-large). Notice the tool bar on top of the email body text area. One of the greatest feature of this editor was that it supported copy/paste from MS Office applications (Word, Outlook) without breaking down the formatting.

The reset of this post provides brief instructions on how to set this up. For more details, please refer to their online documentation here.

1) Download FCK Editor from here [I used version 2.6].

2) Unzip the downloaded compressed file into your web-app directory. With Tomcat for example, the un-compressed folder (fckeditor by default) should be placed into %TOMCAT_HOME%\webapps\%YOUR_WEBAPP_NAME% directory.

3) Point your web browser to the following linke in order to test the installation. If correctly installed you would see a text area with a tool bar similar to the one shown above.

http://yourip:port/your-webapp/fckeditor/_samples/default.html

4) Add the following lines to your web page in the section

window.onload = function()

{

var oFCKeditor = new FCKeditor( ‘my_text_area’, ‘90%’, ‘400’, ‘Default’, ” ) ;

oFCKeditor.BasePath = “fckeditor/” ;

oFCKeditor.ReplaceTextarea() ;

}

window.onload = function()

{

var oFCKeditor = new FCKeditor( ‘my_text_area’, ‘90%’, ‘400’, ‘Default’, ” ) ;

oFCKeditor.BasePath = “fckeditor/” ;

oFCKeditor.ReplaceTextarea() ;

}

Note(s)

1. This example adds rich text toolbar to a text area with the name ‘my_text_area’. You might want to replace this with the actual name that is being used in your HTML form.

2. The Base Path refers to the directory where the editor is installed. It defaults to fckeditor which is the default directory in which fckeditor is unzipped.

3. For more details, please refer online documentation here.

March’ 08 – Update

Last couple of weeks kept me really busy. I have been working on two different projects at the same time. The first one involved building an on-demand email centric application primarily over Force.com for a client. I’m nearing completion of phase – I of this project. The project provided good exposure to the capabilities of the platform provided by salesforce.com. I intend to post more details of the project soon.

The other project that I haven’t talked about so far is that of my own. I (along with a couple of friends) am trying to put a web based solution that initially attempts to ease out some pain in from real-estate sector. We would be ready for a pilot in another 2-3 weeks. I would be posting more details about the project soon.