Wednesday, February 25, 2009

cool stuff by Microsoft

Microsoft is everywhere.. Till now I was even not pretty sure what products Microsoft delivers to this world. I was like Microsoft has only a few products like the windows for PC ( which is the most famous and one of the best operating systems around), mobile, embedded, and Visual Studio with all its languages. Then we have XBOX gaming along with the infamous ZUNE. And i am pretty sure that there are many that i am not even aware of.

Just to exemplify a few more of the products that I am not aware of, Microsoft also has an automotive business unit that provides products to some of the exciting features in vehicles. The other day I was checking out a new Ford Fusion and surprised to find powered by Microsoft in it. I then found out that Microsoft provides SYNC to Ford, Lincoln, Mercury vehicles, which helps us to connect to various features. A Mobile phone can be connected to SYNC, a media player, call 911 touch free and currently also provides driver services.

Then I read about  Microsoft also provides Azure, a cloud services operating system that serves as development,  service hosting, and services management environment. Here you can develop a website or a web service and host it on one of the Microsoft servers.

Microsoft also provides services to support startups and also students to effectively use its products to come up with better ideas. In this regard Microsoft started BizSpark, a program designed to help startups with enabling them to use Microsoft products for up to 3 years for free, with valid documentation and also DreamSpark, a program designed to provides products to students to develop productive applications.

And lets not forget about Microsoft surface, one of the innovative technologies which uses multi touch gestures to manipulate digital content. Initial customers being government, public entertainment, restaurants etc. Though it is priced high it is one of the coolest features and I think it will be available to regular household for a reasonable price within a short time.

Today i was going through Google’s public policy blog and there a post about the European commission and Microsoft on shipping the Windows OS with Internet Explorer. The interesting part is that most of the comments for that blog support Microsoft for this. Seriously why does any one not worry about MAC OS or Linux shipping with their own browsers, is it because their market share is much lesser than Microsoft??

Well i would finally say that Microsoft is one of the best companies that come up with some of the coolest ideas and best features.. Keep it up Microsoft. Waiting to see more cool stuff from your side.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What is WPF?

Windows Presentation Foundation is an application framework developed to produce rich client applications. It aims to provide better user interface using an Extensible Application Markup Language, XAML for both desktop and browser applications. The main aim of WPF is to separate presentation layer with business logic and data access layers. “The core of WPF is a resolution-independent and vector-based rendering engine that is built to take advantage of modern graphics hardware” as defined by Microsoft.

The presentation layer is the user interface that is written in XAML, which provides better controls in 2D and 3D formats. The code-behind layer contains the actual code that is used for event handling and data accesses. This separation is pretty good since designers and developers can work in proximity and also some of the elements that are used in the design can actually be designed with tools such as Microsoft Expression Blend, which uses XAML.

I tried the regular Hello World application and widgets looks pretty cool. I want to develop a customer database application and planning to try using WPF for this one.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Voice XML

I currently started working on voice XML for creating a IVR system for our clients. Some of the important features needed are to have an excellent user interaction instead of the dumb IVR systems that are currently out there asking the same kind of questions over and over again. Some of them were like “for English” press 1 “for Spanish” press 2. well come on cannot we just maintain a table and store their preference based on their phone number and their first choice.

My requirement was to develop a system that helps employees to manage their time sheets through IVR. It should be as simple as possible for naive users to understand and of-course  provide better user experience and also provide features that reduce the complete interaction time. I was planning to store user preferences so that some of the most common questions that have the same answer all the time, are just asked only once and then have the system store them than asking them over and over again. I will be using voice XML with ColdFusion and SQL server in my application.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Using REGEX in ColdFusion

I had to do a password validation in ColdFusion and learnt a few functions of regular expressions in ColdFusion.

REFind – Used to check if a particular string confines to a regular expression. If the string is in the regex format mentioned it returns the starting location of the REGEX of that string.

REFind("regular expression", "String", "returns")
REReplace – Used to replace the particular regular expression in a string.
REReplace("String", "regularExpression", "SubString", "Scope")
Where scope is : one – change the first occurrence of the regex, all – change all the occurrences.

ColdFusion has a set of character classes defined which can be used instead of creating the regular expressions explicitly.

:alpha: All alphabets is equivalent to [A- Z][a- z] . The set of all character classes can be found here at the very end.