Harsha Vashisht is a Software Engineer working for Yahoo! out of Sunnyvale, California. You can contact him at mail@harsharv.com, rvharsha@yahoo.com, rvharsha@gmail.com. He is a YDN Evangelist and has done talks/ dev support in numerous hack events.

Talk in MSRIT

September 5, 2009 Leave a comment

(The blog is on YDN also. http://developer.yahoo.net/blog/archives/2009/03/pipes_yql_talk.html)

On a bright Monday morning, I was giving a talk on Pipes, YQL and web development to a bunch of students in MSRIT. After meeting the HOD of the Computer Science Department and other senior professors, I was taken to the seminar hall. There were at least 100 people in the room. They were all students – under grads, who were in third and fourth year of their Engineering. I was a bit skeptical of they being able to digest what I was going to feed them. But in the end I was pretty happy with the outcome.

First, I spoke to them about web development and how it was discouraged in the present day Universities in India.

Then we spoke about Pipes for half hour. Most of them appreciated the beauty of Pipes. Some of them had already started thinking of using Pipes in their projects. We did a quick demo; where in the news about “Lok Sabha Elections 2009″ was aggregated from various sources (news sites and search) and the data was consumed /displayed else where.

Then we had a look at YQL and that is when I realized the beauty of the YQL console. It is not only easy to write SQL style queries, YQL scores in being easy to demo, evangelize and play around with.
We also touched upon writing open tables with simple examples(Twitter).

In the end we also looked at the other useful services of Yahoo! like BOSS, YUI and what has been built using it.

The Q&A section was Pipes centric. Some questions about licensing and other operators in Pipes.
A couple of them who were building websites for their department and batch were interested in YUI. I wanted to show them YUI Grid Builder but the internet failed on us. So they had to settle for pointers on YUI.

There were two people who came up later and asked if there was any location based services of Yahoo! They were building a low cost GPS system and they were happy to find out Fire Eagle and Geo helped their cause.

I really wish the PR could have arranged for some goodies. The event was overall successful, served its cause.

The feedback that I got was more than satisfactory.

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YQL – makes you want to hack more

September 5, 2009 Leave a comment

Yahoo! Query Language (YQL)

YQL is a SQL like Query Language developed by Yahoo! to provide a single interface for all the properties of Yahoo! which have exposed their APIs. The best part of YQL (unlike most of the other (*)QLs) is the concept of open tables, in addition to the 50+ Yahoo tables. You can as well fetch a RSS feed, select what is required, massage them and display it.

What makes YQL even more attractive then other (*)QLs is the Console. Developers can type their queries in the console, test them and get the REST URL for the query.

For quick understanding, let us say that a developer has to:
1. Search for photos from Flickr Search the web for data, photos
2. Search for local business
3. Fetch weather info
4. Fetch(add) events from(to) Upcoming
5. Fetch contacts, updates, profiles from profiles (social)
6. Fetch RSS and render it

The developer can use YQl for the above operations. Sample YQL queries are as below:
1. Flickr photo search
select * from flickr.photos.search where text=’Angelina’
2. Search the web
select title, abstract from search.web where query=’Taj mahal’
3. Read RSS
select title from rss where url=’http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/15722583.rss’
4. Read from a HTML page
select * from html where url=’www.harsharv.com’ and xpath=’//body/div[@id=”doc2″]/div[1]/h1′
5. Social: Fetch contacts for a user
select fields.value from social.contacts where guid=[the guid]
6. Social: Updates for a user
select * from social.updates where guid=[the guid]

Other SQL commands like limit, in, joins, sub-queries, unique hold good too.

Overall, YQL is one of the big hit promises that Yahoo! has shown recently. I personally appreciate and love it. It makes me want to hack more. I will use YQL in situations where I would use pipes.

More examples can be found and tried at http://developer.yahoo.com/yql/console

The documentation can be found at http://developer.yahoo.com/yql/guide

Coastal Karnataka

September 5, 2009 Leave a comment

Half of office was in holiday mood. We decided to hit Coastal Karnataka. We (7 Yahoos – Prajwal, Sanchit, Ritesh, Saurabh, Ram, Swaminathan and me and 4 non Yahoos Ganesh, Jayanth, Shegde, Rahul Panicker) left Bangalore at 9.30 PM on 24th Dec (Wednesday) in a Tempo Traveler. We stopped at a dhaba on Tumkur Road for dinner and then continued the journey. We reached Kundapur at around 9 AM and had breakfast at Sharon’s. From Sharon’s, a guide took us to the Amgol tropical island resort which was 9 km from Sharon’s. It is a small island in a river (name I forgot) and had beautiful cottages and was really peaceful. We have to take a boat to this island and the ride is fun. The facilities on the island are good (although slightly over priced) and we had fun. Next day, we checked out and headed to Marvanthe beach. We stayed at Turtle Bay Beach Resort. The resort has a private beach and is an amazing place. There were 3 rooms and we convinced the guy that 11 of us could squeeze in. We had lunch and booked for a boat ride to a nearby island. The fishermen take tourists on boat rides for some extra money. We saw a couple of crabs and other sea creatures in the island and we swam (most of them with the help of floating jackets) in the Arabian Sea. After the boat ride we continued to swim and went pretty deep inside. It was fun with the wonderful sun set in the background. Finally, when I was getting out of the beach, I lost a golden ring that was gifted to me by my father. After playing poker for 2 consecutive nights, we left the resort and left to Murudeshwar. Murudeshwar is 50 km from Maravanthe. It has an awesome Shiva statue and a huge gopura on a small hillock right by the sea. The sight is breath taking. Murudeshwar is commercialized and is heavily crowded. As we dint find any accommodation there, we decided to try the water sports. Finally 5 of us (Ritesh, Sanchit, Swami, Saurabh and me) decided to do Snorkeling. We were going to Nethrani Island which was 22 km from the shore. The speed boat ferried us 4km and Swami started freaking out. To tell truth, my legs were also a bit shaky. The guide told us their morning trip was brilliant and they had seen a shark. After comforting ourselves by saying that we will quickly get on the boat if we see a shark, we continued the ride. It was a no moon day and the sea was getting rougher and rougher and the ride was getting bumpier and bumpier. The guide told us that the sea had become to rough and it was risky to continue further. We headed back to the beach with mixed feelings, feeling happy that we didn’t have to jump into water which is 1 km deep and feeling sad that we couldn’t see the colorful fishes and coral reefs. We left Murudeshwar and checked for accommodation in Marvanthe. No rooms were empty. After a small part of the group started wining that they wanted to head back to Bangalore, we left for Bangalore after having dinner at Sharon’s in Kundapur. We reached Bangalore at 10 AM next day.

Quick facts:
Distance: Kundapur to Bangalore :450 km
Kunapur to Maravathe: 16 km
Maravanthe to Murudeshwar: 50 km

Route: Bangalore -> Shimoga -> Kundapur

Kundapur, Marvanthe, Udupi and Mangalore

December 24, 2008 Leave a comment

I will be visting coastal Karntaka this week end. We will be staying at a place called Amgol (an island resort).  I will give more details when i come back.

Categories: General

Windows phones… The suck!!!!

December 2, 2008 Leave a comment

I have been using HTC Touch P 3452 for the last 6 months. Initially I liked the phone and its features. With time the phone became slower than my dads driving. As if that was not enough, it started switching off on its own. It used to happen once a day without fail whenever I expected important calls and so I thought it was high time it went to the service centre.

To my surprise it was a Sony Ericsson service centre. The receptionist promptly asked me to wait. After waiting for almost half hour, my number came. I listed the problems, as switching off on its own, bad battery back up, network issues. Later I realized these were inherent problems of HTC (High Tech Crap) phones. The guy says he will return my phone in 3 days after replacing the mother board. Happy that I was getting an almost new phone I went back. After one and a half weeks of them not picking my calls, they picked up my call. A guy said that the phone would be ready and I could collect it the next day. I promptly go there the next and they promptly make me wait for an hour. After an hour I get the phone and to my surprise they had just updated the software to Windows 6.1 (a cheap copy of Phone).  This pissed me off. I shouted at them and this guy called Razzaq told me that there were hundreds of HTCs with the same problem and he had fixed it by updating the software.

Partially convinced, I take my phone back. It now switches off on its own 5 times a day, bad battery backup, it has network issues and to add to the misery it has speaker issues, I cant hear anything properly.  Windows 6.1 has a lot of bugs. After another week of them not picking up my calls, I get it touch with them. I spoke to the same guy Razzaq. He said that the HTC Company is not co-operating by sending the mother boards. He had requested 85 mother boards and that it would take me a minimum of a week for repair. He then gives me the phone number of the main HTC service centre. I call them and I came to know that it is also a Sony Ericsson service centre.

For the last time, I will give the phone for service. If the problem continues, then I will change the phone.

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