.Net Stuff Development General

SA Imagine Cup Entrants – Update…

For the latest info, check out Ruari’s blog and his photo gallery.  Sounds like they’re off to a good start!

.Net Stuff Development Geek food General

SA Team for Imagine Cup

I just read an IT Web article on the SA entrants to the Imagine Cup.  For those who don’t know, Microsoft South Africa has run Project Firefly for a number of years… Its basically a software development competition amongst SA Academic institutions.  The Imagine Cup started after Firefly and is an international “version” of the competition.

I was fortunate to meet the guys from PE who are going to Japan this week for the international competition.  Their system looks amazing!  I had no idea that people at varsity had the ability to write such cool and useful software in .Net.  Their IDS (Intrusion Detection System) is damn awesome in what it does, and they’ve done some amazing work on it.  I know its not from some big name that we can all trust, but after hearing them talk and seeing a demo of some of their project I seriously think they have a winning product.  If I was a system admin I’d seriously want some of their features on any IDS I bought for my company.

Imagine sitting at home on a weekend, and getting a message on your iMate phone or other Pocket PC based phone to tell you that a user’s PC is being used to hack your network.  For most people that would be good enough, but in this case it goes further.  Rather than having to get to a PC or rush into work, you can quickly and easily disable their account, shut down their pc, etc, right from your phone.  Just push a few buttons and get back to watching the game/braai/beer/etc.  No stress, no hassle, network intrusion averted.  This example is just one of the many super cool things that their system does!

Aparently they have only got 15 minutes to present their project in the first round, and 10 minutes in the 2nd round (excluding a 5 minute demo).  I have no idea how they’ll get that right because they could spend hours talking about all the features they have.  Aparently they built most of their UI controls themselves, so their UI is really cool and was made locally!

Needless to say I’m VERY impressed and I hope they get the top spot in the competition!

General Internet/Links

Another free skype day…

Ok, so I just read that Wednesday (today) is a free skype day.  So hopefully this post won’t end up like my last one.  Now stop reading and go to Skype to get your free minutes!

.Net Stuff Development General Internet/Links

Google Earth and GeoCaching

I’m torn between two statements “There are two kinds of people on the earth, those who hack a use in Google Earth and those who don’t” and “There are two kinds of people on the earth, those who see the value of Google Earth and those who haven’t yet”.

A short while after the bombs in London someone posted a link to a file that contained the co-ordinates of the various sites where the bombs exploded.  It was a .kmz file and when I “double clicked” it, Google Earth opened and scrolled the locations into view.  It was pretty cool.

For an *AGE* I’ve wanted to do something with the waypoints of geocaches  in South Africa so that I can visually see how far the caches are from my house, and try and plan which caches to get in which order when I go caching.

I knew that gave you the ability to download the cache coordinates, so I set about learning their format (based on the file I downloaded), and I did the same for the Google Earth .kmz file.  Basically they’re both simple XML files (the .kmz file is just a zipped up .kml file which contains XML).  Unfortunately as a non-paying member I can only download the cache locations that are displayed in their grid, so I had to manually change to each page of their grid and download the locations on the page.  

20 minutes later I had them all downloaded, and merged into one big file, and I started processing them.  I’m not the biggest guru when it comes to working with XML so I kinda hacked my way around some XPath queries and XPathNavigators in .Net but I ended up with a pretty easy way to get all the info out of the GeoCaching .loc file, and I then outputted the right format for the Google Earth .kml file.  

The outputting of the .kml file is really bad because I got lazy so I’m not using .Net objects to create an XML Document or anything, I just use Console.WriteLine and write out what I want.  (I’ll fix that when next I have some time.)  But the result is a list of all the caching locations in South Africa.  And here is “Paul’s List of Google Earth Coordinates for GeoCaches In South  Africa” the list as of yesterday (12/07/2005)

[Update: There was a problem with the link to the file – aparently IIS 6 didn’t like the file type, butafter adding a custom mime header thingy to my IIS config, it was all sorted out.]

Geek food General Internet/Links

First day of the 10 free SkypeOut minutes promotion…

Today is the first of four days this month where you get 10 free minutes of SkypeOut calls.  Check it out on their site – Skype, or via Skype Journal.

[Update: Aparently the promotion started yesterday, so their 24 hours is over.  I’ll try and be a bit faster in posting the next time.]


News sources…

One of the guys at work asked about an hour ago if we’d
heard anything about the bomb blasts in London.  My immediate reaction was
to go to Google
, which was ok, but a bit difficult to find details quickly.  My
colleague however went to WikiPedia and got the news from there… I soon followed and
WOW, the news coverage was cool.  People had links to various
articles and while it was a bit disorganised it got the basics across
quickly and linked to relevant news articles.  At some point I ended up at
WikiNews –
their article was a lot better formatted, more journalistic sounding, but it was
just as “grassroots”.  They had an image from some guy’s moblog which he
took while in one of the trains that was trapped by the explosions.  How’s
that for news directly from the middle of the issue.

I wonder how the “old media” will deal with all this “new media”.  Its
pretty cool (even if its a bit geeky at the moment).  I’m definately not
someone who should comment on any of this – I don’t really know much about
journalism or other similar topics.  But in this case I definately
prefer reading news that’s *NOW* not 30 minutes old, as was the case with a
number of the local sites.  I have a feeling that there’s something big
that can happen with all these “grassroots-y” applications, community networks,
mobile access to the internet, and all this “always connected” stuff.

Even here in good old South Africa we’re getting a taste of it and I (the
geek) want more.  I’m sure there will be privacy and other personal
problems involved, but right now I’m looking at the good potential and I’m very

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Machine issues…

Hrm… I always knew that I disliked Norton Antivirus
(now Symantec Antivirus) but I’ve never had any proof besides a hunch that was
formed during the early 90’s after seeing their products at work.  On
monday my already ailing work computer started to die.  The “System”
process suddenly started using 99% of the cpu time and I had very little way to
find out why.  (I’m not an XP guru by any means so besides opening up the
task manager and seeing which process was hogging my CPU, I was clueless) 
I decided that trying to end the task would not be a good idea. (After all,
isn’t the System process going to be some microsoft internal thingy?)

Since I didn’t have huge deadlines and my pc was kinda stuffed to start with
(errors in explorer.exe when shutting down, IIS didn’t work at all, I kept
losing icons from my task bar, and a few other odd things like not being able to
install some internal apps we use because their activex controls “weren’t
registered” even though they were)… So I re-installed my pc. 
Unfortunately just after installing MS’s Antispyware Beta and Symantec AV, the
problem of the 99% cpu usage started again.  So I uninstalled MS’s
Antispyware Beta, and the problem was still there.  Unfortunately I
couldn’t uninstall Symmantec’s AV because our company policy enforced by
Symantec is that I can’t uninstall it without entering in a
password.  Eventually I tracked someone down who knew the password,
and the problem was solved.   So I’m now running McAfee’s AV software.

Oh, and in the re-install I lost my usual blogging tool – an old
(pre-commercial) version of BlogJet… So I installed IMHO, and I actually
managed to get it to work. (I told you my PC was stuffed, so I think it had
something to do with that that caused me to not be able to use it before) 
Anyway, it seems super cool.  So I think I might just become a regular IMHO

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