Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Google SoC Launched on Fyodors B'day

Google Summer of Code 2007 which has the most number of Sri Lankan students in the 3 year history of the program, is now officially underway. It started on 28th of May which happened to be the birthday of the popular Open Source developer Fyodor. This reminds me that I haven't posted anything about me being participating GSoC. Well, in fact I am taking part in GSoC 2007, obviously with Nmap :) Sorry, I forget to post that. It has been a very hectic (yes, hectic) few weeks for me (about which I don't feel like writing right now :)

Ok, I know I have to slow down. Well, Google Summer of Code (GSoC or SoC) is a program where Google pays selected students who in turn will work for an Open Source software development project during 3 months of the summer (from end of May to end of August). It draws attention of thousands and thousands of students all over the world. I'm not yet aware if the number of applications received this year, but the number of selected students for this year is 600 according to an unofficial source. I went through the student list and found out that there are 30 (or 29) students from Sri Lanka which is 5%! The official statistics will be available after the program.

Then Nmap is arguably the most popular Open Source security/networking tool around. Nmap was founded by and still lead by Fyodor. To get a picture about the popularity I'll mention this. If you do a Google search for fyodor, the first hit you'll get is about this Fyodor. The very popular writer Fyodor Dostoevsky will come in second to him (who claims he in turn made his handle after Fyodor Dostoevsky :). Anyway, Fyodor of insecure.org remains one of the most respected and most friendly developers around. So to me, it is a privilege to work with Nmap project.

As some of you may remember I applied last year also, but didn't make it there. However I wasn't discouraged by that. As you can see, I applied again this year for the Nmap Scripting Engine - Script Developer slot, and I made it. So now I'm working on creating an interesting set of plugins to utilize the new NSE system. So if anyone of you has ideas about this, please leave a message or try to contact me. Your ideas are welcome. If you are looking for more details about my GSoC work please refer to my Wiki site at Schtuff.

PS: My Wiki site is now moved to PBwiki.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Just Another Week

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Just another week. Not with too many interesting things (except a lot of personal affairs), but some troublesome situations which I can smile at as usual. Well, as usual patchy telephones lines caused Net connectivity blackouts forcing me to stay offline much. This was the centerfold of my week.

There were some notable sports events with mix results from my perspective. Shahid Afridi leading Pakistan to victory against Sri Lanka with his impressive brute force :), wasn't my favorite sports event of the week, naturally. My favorite sports event was Chelsea beating Manchester Unites for the FA Cup yesterday. It was Drogba with support of Lampard, got the goal in the 116 minute of the game (extended time) and won the cup for Chelsea. Not to mention, Chelsea is my favorite Football (Soccer, if you prefer) team. United had already won the FA Cup for 15 times or so where this was Chelsea's 4th time. Chelsea is the winner of this years League Cup too. They also ended up the 2nd in Premier League table this year behind United (but with lesser number of lost games).

For anyone who's not familiar with Chelsea, it's a football club with a long history who has taken the domination in UK football arena lately. I've been following their games (whenever I could) since 2003/2004 Premier League which was roughly the time when it started transforming to the team which it is now. Frank Lampard (vice captain) is their super star player, while others like John Terry (captain), Michael Ballack, Hernan Crespo, Claude Makelele, Didier Drogba, Andriy Shevchenko, Joe Cole, Ashley Cole, Solomon Kalou and Glen Johnson are also popular for their brilliance in the field. If you watched Football World Cup (FIFA World Cup) you'll certainly find most of the names sound familiar.

Nothing much else (to include in a blog post) happened, of course other than me working on some software and ICT related projects (I'm going to put more details in a separate post) and Nadee's mother being hospitalized for some treatment (about which I'll not put anymore details :). Up to now her progress is good, so everyone in the families are happy about that. Her discharge from the hospital is expected on Tuesday.

So my personal front have been somewhat hectic (which got worse by catching flu). That may be excuses for my lower activities in Technology front and on the blog. I've kicked back into action since. So I'll post more about the tech stuff soon. I'm glad to inform that I've got some interesting work to do in Open Source software, on which I'm going to concentrate for the next couple of months (more details on a later post). So as usual, stay tuned :)

Friday, May 04, 2007

Bad Weather even for Ducks!

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"Bad weather even for ducks" was the term which was used by Arun Dias, who was a presenter at yesterdays ceremony to receive the national Cricket team. He was describing yesterdays bad weather. It was said rain was 121mm during a 3 hour period in Colombo. I didn't think what Arun said was real, not just colourful presenting until I had to reach Colombo from outside today morning using public transportation. What a joy ride it was!

I was out of Colombo and today I had to reach there for some important matter. So I took a bus hoping to get to my destination. It was raining heavily (in fact very heavily) in Colombo. Even before we reached the city limits, we were diverted from the main road to take an alternative route. The reason we learned later was a caved-in on the main road which created a huge crater. So we took the alternative route and joined the traffic jam only to be greeted with frequent lightning. The rest is just history, at least for me :)

For your information I'll post a part of a text message conversation with a friend who asked about what it was like reaching Colombo today. Pardon me for the language here :)

Me: Brush up your swimming skills and prepare your amphibious kit :) It's raining cats & dogs out here.
Thila: You mean I'm screwed if I come there?
Me: If it rains like this.... yes.
Thila: Well, I'm on my way. Guess I'll be screwed then. Nice to know what that feels like :)
Me: :) It's like,... you are knee deep in filthy water, You can't see a damn thing because the heavy rain is beating your face. Traffic is jammed, roads caving in, trees fallen on roads, careless drivers splashing you,.. umbrellas wouldn't hold & you are in a flooded city street, nowhere to go for shelter. Hell, that's not so bad!

Well, that sums up most of the things :) Again pardon me for the language. I was feeling funny (humorous) after traveling 4 hours in wet attire. Anyway it is now known that this bad weather has caused more than irritation. There is a few deaths reported over the country. The most notable two are one lady getting killed by falling and downing in a manhole which wasn't seen because of the flooded road, and another lady getting electrocuted to death due to an electricity leakage into the water.

I usually love rain. But this kind of raining cannot be loved like that unless you are gambling something on it :) I hope the weather will get better soon (weather forecasts aren't too positive though) and life returns back to normal.

PS: By fifth of May disaster management authorities have announced the damage so far by the bad weather is 11 deaths and over 50,000 people displaced all over the country.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Warm Welcome Home for the National Cricket Team

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"Before this battle is done, even a god king can bleed"
- quote from "300" the movie

I remembered this quote today when I tried to recall Sri Lankan Cricket teams feat at the World Cup. Some people thought of Aussie team as an invincible unit. Although they have been the most dominant team of all times they surely are beatable. Everyone watching the game felt that, when Kumar Sangakkara and Sanath Jayasuriya were going at Aussies before the officials claimed "mornie utulie" (darkness has come :) Anyway todays post is about the welcome home the Sri Lankan team received today.

"I've taken my bows and my curtain calls
You brought me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it
I thank you all but
It's been no bed of roses - no pleasure cruise
I consider it a challenge before the whole human race and
I ain't gonna lose

And we mean to go on and on and on and on

We are the Champions my friends....
And we'll keep on fighting till the end"
- quote from "We are the Champions" a song by Queen

Today morning the Sri Lnakan Cricket team arrived the island only to be surprised by the reception they would receive. They might not have expected such a warm welcome having reached only the runners up spot in the World Cup 2007.

The team was received with the red carpet at the Katunayake International Airport with traditional "mangul bera" even in the rain. They gave brief interviews to the media at the VIP area. All mentioned the teams gratitude to the Sri Lankan cricket fans for their support and enormous belief in them. They also thanked the cricket fans through out the world (especially from Caribbean, Indian, and other cricketing countries). One special thing to notice during the day was, different media and personnel requesting Sanath to play till the 2011 World Cup, to which he smiled and shook his head disapprovingly (but we hope that he'd stay).

They were scheduled for a grand state honored welcome at the Independence Square in Colombo, but ironically the rain had the final saying again. The ceremony was re-located to the Sri Lankan Cricket head office due to the very heavy raining.

They received welcome from thousands of the public awaiting by the roads from Katunayake to Colombo, despite the pouring rain. The team members (including the coach Tom, assistant coach Trevor, trainer CJ, physio Tommy, manger Michael and others) were seen waving and hand shaking from the bus.

They again received a grand welcome at the ceremony. There the captain Mahela spoke a few words representing the whole team. And several others made speeches. Most notable ones were of the Minister of Sports and the Chief Minister of Western Province. Eventhough everyone want sports kept away from politicians, what they said was agreeable this time :)

CMoWP (as a government representative for the occasion) said that the team achieved something which no president, prime minister or politician could ever achieve; the good name of the country. The team was popular for their sportsmanship, discipline and Sri Lankan style of Cricket in Caribbeans. And the MoS said that we only lacked the cup itself. The country considers our boys the champions, our champions!

Cricket has been the common religion of Sri Lanka and it remains so. Cricket has been the beacon of hope for Sri Lankans who are spending a not so luxurious life. It will remain so until there are people to love the game. May this blog post be a tribute to Sri Lankan Cricket (including the past and present players and fans).

PS: I didn't want to ruin the ending of my post. But I have to admit no Sri Lankan is thankful for the way Arjuna Ranathunga, the former cricket captain (who was the captain of 1996 world cup winning team) acted and commented during the past few weeks. He stated that India was going to win the World Cup. No offense to India (who in fact was a very strong team), but was it the appropriate way for a former captain to send off the national team to the World Cup, especially when they were doing so well? There's an even bad rumor that Arjuna verbally assaulted two of the most promising new players and called the Sri Lankan cricketers "hungers" in an TV show. If this is true it will be so bad even the fact that he lead the world cup victory will not compensate. We all know what guts Arjuna has (just imagine,... calling Aussies premier bowler "over-rated" before a world cup final and go with the bat to prove it), but if these rumors are true...... ?! Some people in SL have gone far enough to claim that Arjuna doesn't like to share the glory. I don't know about these allegations or rumors. So I'll just leave the time to reveal things.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Online on Vesak

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To day despite being the May Day, is also the Vesak full moon poya day, a day with immense importance to the Buddhists all over the world. Think of it as the Buddhist equivalent of X'mas. To day Buddhists celebrated the birth, enlightenment and passing away of lord Buddha, the great one. Anyway, when all the others were out there in the streets and temples, I was right here because I had to try some software very urgently.

I tried Pentaho BI Server and Alfresco CM. Pentaho is the premier Open Source Business Intelligence product while Alfresco is its Content Management counterpart (WebGUI is a very close contender). I have tried Pentaho beforehand, but it was my first experience with Alfresco. Pentaho is a great product. Alfresco seems great, too. But it's too soon to comment on that.

Yesterday I've been playing with Nessus (after updating the plugin set) and Nmap, running them against my new Ethernet router. Results were amazing as usual. Other than that, yesterday was my first experience with so called WebOSes. I heard about Desktoptwo, YouOS and eyeOS. I got to try all except YouOS. It was a good experience and an introduction to a new realm. With all the Ajax buzz going on all around, I'm just beginning to see the possibilities of web applications. Quite a fun ride it was (eyeOS public server had pre-installed Sonic the Hedgehog and Aladdin for users).

Here is a few screenshots to whet your appetite.

This is Desktoptwo running several applications including e mail client, MP3 Player and IM client.

This is eyeOS with an opened window

For anyone interested in more screenshots please visit my Picasa Albums.