Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's Possible...!

Kudoz to professor emeritus James F. Crook for having devised an algorithm for solving Sudoku puzzles. Here are some quick pointers about his "Pencil-and-Paper Algorithm":

  • The algorithm is made up of five logical steps
  • It requires players to mark up empty boxes in the Sudoku grid with all possible remaining number and, by comparing number sets, to labour through a "tree" of options that ultimately provides a solution.
  • As of now, the computer takes takes over an hour to solve a Sudoku puzzle. (See humans always outsmart computers ;))
  • The paper text can be viewed here.

This algorithm is certainly an achievement in the mathematical world and reinforces the fact that almost everything that can be depicted as a flowchart is solvable by computers. After all computers have been known to be super efficient in deconstructing seemingly tough problems and hammering out their solutions using computing power!

What puzzles me though is how come human beings are able to solve a difficult Sudoku in just 10-15 minutes time while this latest algorithm takes an hour to crack a Sudoku puzzle? Is it our logic sense or intuition or just our imagination that does the magic-Well, I don't know! What I do know is the fact that struggling with my pencil (I don't mean chewing the back of the pencil over and over again ;)) and working out a Sudoku puzzle on a Sunday morning is an adventure in itself. And the "Ahaaa" feeling (emotional high) you get post solving a puzzle keeps the excitement and the desire to solve the next puzzle on :D

Happy weekend folks and good luck for today's puzzle!
"A moment's thinking is an hour in words."~ Thomas Hood

Monday, March 23, 2009

Swimming with the Dolphin...!

[Image Courtesy-Sun]

Ever wondered what's common attribute among the coolest sites you see on the now ubiquitous WWW? Here are some examples of the kind of sites I am referring to - Zappos, Craiglist, Wikipedia, LinkedIn, Zimbra, Booking, Footnote, DocASAP etc.

Well, all of them are powered by the world's most dominant open source database [MySQL] that claims to have more than 11 million installations across the globe. Infact, it has almost become a default choice for a new generation of applications built on the LAMP Stack. What is particularly notable is that you get ace performance, reliability, flexibility and total control over your application with every MySQL installation. Call up that "cool" friend of yours who worked in a startup firm for sometime to knwo about specific advantages of MySQL.

I have been working on MySQL for quite sometime now and I would describe my experience as a "breeze". DB Installation , DB Programming and even DB Administration are way too simplified in MySQL and whatever you set out to do is like an experiment which makes it all the more fun!

So whether you a fresh college graduate who is aspiring to become a DB Developer or an established DBA waiting for next release of Oracle or SQL Server DB, do give MySQL a try sometime. Believe me you'll love this hassle free and trendy DBMS ! Meanwhile let me continue to swim with
Sakila in the days to come :D

"Don't reinvent the wheel, just realign it."~ Anthony J. D'Angelo

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Vrooom Vrooom...!

[Image Courtesy-Worldcarfans]
As Software professionals, we are supposed to use our left brains most of the time, which makes sense considering the kind of complex work (Ahmmm Ahmmm - that was my inner voice ;-)) we do everyday. But haven't you ever felt that satmetimes images, illustrations or just a quick pencil sketch (I just love Whiteboards!) seems to aid in better and quicker understanding of convoluted concepts than plain logic? If you've ever wondered about studying art or if you love visiting art galleries or museums, I am sure you would perhaps grasp the point I am trying to make here.

However, if you are sure that you are a left-brained (smart, clever, intelligent,quick problem solver) person with an exceptionally high IQ (Lucky You :D) and live on East Coast, consider yourself blessed and plan a trip to NYC soon:) Yes, I am referring to the much talked about the upcoming "BMW Art Car Exhibition" that will feature (the gorgeous) BMW 3.0 CSL Coupé. Try visiting the upcoming Art exhibit at Grand Central Terminal [NYC] and let me know in case you fall in love with the black and white graph paper patterned design on the CSL coupé, by Frank Stella, an ace artist, or with art in general! See you at Grand Central then :D

Exhibition Dates: March 24 to April 6, 2009
Location: Vanderbilt Hall, Grand Central Terminal, NYC
Exhibition Details - Here

PS: There are some really good technical conferences you might wish to check sometime such as-A, B or C - just in case you wish to hone your technical skills or learn that super cool new Performance tuning concept. Good Luck & have a great weekend ahead !

"The first requisite for success is the ability to apply your physical and mental energies to one problem incessantly without growing weary"~Thomas Edison

Friday, March 06, 2009

Spring Forward...!

[Image Courtesy-TIME]

Its that time of the year again when accurate "TIME" matters so much and you want it or not-all your gadgets, your car clock and all your electronic gadgets grab your attention atleast for couple of minutes :) Yes, I am referring to 'Daylight Saving Time' here.

If you are an IT Professional, I am sure you would be aware of the hoopla that surrounds this yearly event in every company. Infact, DST reminds me of the amazing time I spent in a big Indian IT consulting firm I worked for in Mumbai four years ago. Back then, in March, our Program Manager used to make a detailed plan outlining numerous tasks and used to emphasize the criticality of every task quite visibly (meetings, meetings and more meetings!). The best part was that our DBA Team was conveyed a very strong message - "With great power comes great responsibility!" (remember Peter Parker ?) and we were conditioned to believe that we are like special task force commandos whose mission is to keep the IT systems of BIG Clients alive during the crucial flip-over moment when clocks are moved forward in the States. Orders were orders and thus we did our jobs with utmost devotion, sincerity and passion and the celebrity treatment ("Amazing work team!" emails from Senior mgmt) that we used to receive post DST sure felt awesome back then!

Anyways, coming back to present-here are some quick facts about DST:

  • In simple terms, the clocks are set ahead one hour on first Sunday of March to create an extra hour of daylight in the evening during summers.
  • The correct term is 'Daylight saving time' and not 'Daylight savings time'.
  • The first American to advocate for daylight saving was Benjamin Franklin.
  • America's EST time zone makes the switch before the rest of the country.
  • The states of Arizona and Hawaii do not follow DST.
  • Post DST, Central Time will be referred to as CDT instead of CST.
  • Mathematically speaking, you loose an hour's sleep but hey you can always cover up by either going to bed early on Saturday night or taking a nap on Sunday afternoon :)

So remember to spring forward your analog clocks at 2 a.m. this Sunday and have a cool weekend ahead!
"If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be the greatest prodigality"~Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Messengers Of Peace...!

[Image Courtesy-Queenbgy]
Can someone please suggest the people who keep trying so hard to disrupt world peace to turn their focus on bigger issues like acquiring new skills, helping their families amidst the turbulent economic times and most importantly let others shine for God's sake !

While news alerts like this, this or this have always shaken me to the core, I just hope that atleast 0.01% of the incorrigible terrorists and the likes transform for good this year! Can somone send me email/postal addresses of some of the terrorists so that I can send them biographies of few world renonwned peacemakers such as Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Dalai Lama, Aung Saan Suu Kyi, Mahatma Gandhi and the likes or send them some interesting real-life projects/challenges or even comics to keep their minds engaged elsewhere...Sighh :(

"Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing."~Albert Schweitzer