Installing Google Gears on Mac OS X

Posted by chetan on July 14, 2009

If you’re looking to install Google Gears on OS X, installation order can be somewhat important. The Safari version installs as a standard OS X browser plugin and will be picked up by all the browsers on your system. Sounds good, except that the Firefox version is actually a standard Firefox XPI extension and the two will conflict — you actually won’t be able to install the XPI unless you first disable the plugin via the Tools > Add-ons > Plugins menu option.

Installshield sucks

Posted by chetan on May 31, 2009

And furthermore, Peachtree sucks. Last weekend I battled this error thrown by the Peachtree 2008 installer and this weekend I had the great pleasure of upgrading to Peachtree 2010 and being greeted by the very same error.

The fix in both cases? Simply copy the contents of the CD to the local harddisk (a network share works just as well) and then run setup.exe from there. Don’t be fooled by the suggested “solutions” from Microsoft or Installshield like I was.

Error of the day

Posted by chetan on October 08, 2008



Pointless rewrite? Probably.

Posted by chetan on August 06, 2008 (sorry, it’s just plain old “Delicious” now) 2.0 finally launched a few days ago and the response so far has been mixed. But now that the dust has settled some, it’s time to think about just how we got here and if it was really worth all the trouble.

According to the official blog post, the new and improved Delicious brings us speed, usability, and oh so good looks among other features and it was a long time in the making. The Yahoo acquisition was announced on Dec 9, 2005 and the new site finally went live a little over two and a half years later on July 31, 2008. So why did it take them so long?

A key change as a result of the Yahoo! acquisition was their decision to rewrite the whole thing in PHP using the Symfony framework, for no other reason than that it’s the current corporate standard at Yahoo!. Oh, and, coincidentally, Yahoo! Bookmarks was also built on PHP+Symfony.

So now it starts to make a bit of sense: you take a system being actively used by millions of users around the world and you start over from scratch with the goal of building it bigger and better, toss in a couple of hot buzzwords to meet Web 2.0 compliance guidelines, and before you know it 2 years have gone by.

I find it very hard to believe that with all the talent and the thousands of man years combined software development experience over there, that no one understands the pros and cons of rewriting vs refactoring a code base, especially given the enormous success of the service and the relatively trouble-free history as compared to, say, Twitter.

At the same time, I understand it all too well. From where I sit, and having been involved in a similar situation in the past as well as with my current employer, the decision to move to PHP was clearly not based on a cost/benefit analysis of maintaing the current system. In fact, I wonder if they even understood what the real problems, if any, were with the existing system before deciding to not just rewrite it, but write it in another language.

Moving to another language is a pretty drastic step to take and will rarely solve your problem.

Ghetto Profiling for MySQL

Posted by chetan on July 29, 2008

MySQL is generally an all-around kickass piece of software, and like any good open source application, there are a host of tools you can use to squeeze every last drop of goodness out of it. Nearly all of them, however, are geared towards the operational DBA, leaving the wayward developer out in the cold.

Continue reading…

“Made by India”

Posted by chetan on March 17, 2008

Indians are everywhere in the software world — from engineers to CEO’s — but they all share one thing in common: the products they’ve helped build are all for companies based outside of India and for the most part in the US. I had this very conversation with one of our developers in Chennai on my last trip to India. He’s also spent time abroad, in the UK, but had not noticed it until I pointed it out to him. My guess is that there’s just no domestic market for many of the products being developed abroad. Especially with regards to the Internet, with access at home out of reach for most people, it’s not hard to see why most entrepreneurs might end up in California instead of Bangalore.

Fortunately, that all appears to be changing. I was glad to learn that the recently announced Live Documents is made entirely by an Indian company based out of Bangalore (though it was founded by Sabeer Bahtia of Hotmail fame). I’d be curious how their product does in the Indian market, as opposed to the rest of the world, for which it seems to be primarily targeted.

Suits suck

Posted by chetan on February 21, 2008

I still intend to finish the series of posts I started earlier, but this quote pretty much sums it up:

In this regard management is also to blame, especially when it comes to dysfunctional schedules, wrong incentives, poor hiring, and demoralizing policies.

SimpleDB: MapReduce for the masses?

Posted by chetan on December 16, 2007

On Thursday, Amazon announced SimpleDB, “a web service for running queries on structured data in real time.” As many others have noted this more or less completes the cloud computing stack that Amazon has been steadily building, ever since they launched the Simple Storage Service (S3), early last year.

Where their earlier releases (S3, Elastic Compute Cloud [EC2], Flexible Payments, Mechanical Turk) commoditized much of the infrastructure required for building scalable applications, SimpleDB (SDB) and the earlier Simple Queue Service (SQS) are bringing cutting edge technologies and design patterns to the masses. First they made it cheap and easy to have a cluster; now they’ve made it cheap and easy to use a cluster! Amazing.

What’s even more startling is just how much Amazon gets it, and just how far off base Salesforce was earlier this year when they announced, as a “platform as a service”.

Then again, maybe they’re not even competing services at all.

Amazon is clearly providing services targeted towards developers and entrepreneurs with the goal of enabling them to explore new and innovative ideas by lowering the cost of entry. They’re providing the basic building blocks for developers to do exactly what they have done (and spent the last 10 years building) and they’re providing it at a very competitive price.

The proposition is different: they market to the same target audience but the selling point is not their tools — they offer a run of the mill JAVA-based platform — their selling point is the market that they can deliver. A built-in customer base of [enterprise] users and a marketplace for connecting those users with the applications they want.

But I digress. Amazon’s SimpleDB is an important, if small, step towards moving the web to column-oriented databases like Google’s BigTable, or the relatively unknown, opensource Hadoop project, now largely sponsored by Yahoo!.

What sticks out to me most, however, is the choice of name. It’s called “SimpleDB” and yet it’s neither a “database”, as most would understand it, nor is the concept of a column-oriented database “simple”; it requires an orthogonal way of thinking. What is clear, however, is that the choice of name was a very deliberate move by Amazon to market this technology to the masses. It will take some time for developers to come around and see the light, but when they do, we’re in for another huge advance in dynamic web applications.