View Ravichandran J.V.'s profile on LinkedIn RJV 's Blog Tweet @ravichandranjv


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

"Lazy" vs "Greedy" Design

Martin Fowler's "Convention over Configuration" always intrigued and fascinated me although I knew, deep in my heart, I did not understand a word of the trilogy of words! So, when I chanced upon this opportunity to relate two examples of design that I happened to come across (one, due to my recently, of some years, acquired liking for simplicity and two, as a user with limited resources), I chose the middle path - not to coin any new set of fancy words but to rely on the existing set of terminology doing the rounds in technical forums - "lazy" and "greedy".

The process of authentication has become far more refined and varied than it used to be in the days when WSE sounded like some Chinese royalty among peasants so, rather than go into all the intricacies of "packaged" libraries or encryptions of the Da Vinci code type, I decided to check out the OTP (One Time Password) with Time and Space as the chief factors of ensuring the authentication cycle. The "Time", as in the 'time' that the OTP gets sent to the 'time' that the user uses the OTP and the "Space", as in the 'space' between the email window and the application window. For this form to be called a "lazy" design is not exactly correct if not, contrived but when put in relief with the other forms of authentication doing the rounds, it does have a "lazy" tinge to it even though, put to some severe test, it may break due to the space factor but the 'laziness' becomes pronounced when seen in relief with the following description of a 'design' that I found on a gateway (and possibly, that which exists, across the world!) - that of a payment gateway authenticating the OTP sent to the user by automatically picking up the OTP sent by SMS to the user's mobile and then submitting it for processing to the gateway!

There is a huge flaw in such a design that is far too greedy in its functioning and the greediness can be better perceived with an elaboration using a Context and a Domain diagram but since there is no real need for me to prove a point or score one over the application (anyway, it is my blog so what I say is always right ! :)) designers, suffice it to say that it fails a test scenario where the network or the network signal of the user's service provider gets broken and the session, too is lost, or quite simply, in a dual SIM mobile, the user simply switches on the SIM (which is the registered mobile for the payment gateway to send the SMS to) a few seconds or minute after touching the "Pay now" option (obviously, this is a dual sim mobile phone app test scenario).

There is a hilarious story that explains the parallel human behavior (I am a strong believer that software design evolves (not just out of tests as in TDD) out of the culture of the region) of such a scenario nutcase that goes, "I know, I know what he 'thinks'" to another nutcase that calls it up to ask for an 'update' (with no possibility of corroborating on a 'thought' of another person (leave aside the thought of the same person) but it gets best explained by actually knowing the nutcase and its group of  'girlfriends' (ie., because the nutcase 'thinks' (it is quite possible for roles to get switched here due to the language and interpretation ! :D) that the other person 'thinks' that it is talking to a girl, it uses words that one uses only with girlfriends while, on the other end of the phone, the man may simply be cursing the nutcase or quite simply, the mother (as in 'Psycho's mother)!

To get back to the bug, this means that while the app tries to desperately read the last (most recent) SMS received and does not find it and gives the user the option to use the "Regenerate OTP" option and one scenario is that the user touches it as a selection, by which time, the previously generated OTP gets sent and the app once again, goes into the automatically submit OTP option! This now results in the second scenario that of the "Enter OTP manually" option, which if the user uses results in the wrong OTP getting entered into the text area because the newly generated OTP is queued but has not yet been received by the user (for whatever reason, one being that the user's messaging space is full and the other being, the network) and if the user loses patience and presses the Regenerate option and deletes the earlier SMS then it results in another cycle of confusion!

Sometimes convention is not the best of reasons to use or follow in design (especially in software design) and neither should too much of user friendliness the right design because over-zealousness, in software design, actually translates to "greedy" and even though a "greedy" design may work but an "over zealous" design will (or must) fail as the human factor, that of time and space, will always succeed!

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

When a famous singer becomes your Facebook friend...

Quite a few have begun to notice that I am an extremely humble person especially after I mentioned this wonderful trait of mine in this blog, a few posts back! It is not often I repeat myself but, somehow, this instance seems too good to indulge in fickle humility - fickle, because it rarely stays by my side, humility, that is.

A very famous singer (or maybe quite a famous one) sent me a friend request on Facebook and when the notification appeared on my mobile screen, I was skeptical - there were so many of these fake profiles, it could hardly be her, could it, I mused for a few seconds, before accepting the Friend request.

As soon as I could put my hands on my laptop, I quickly decided to login to Facebook and check her profile out. The tick mark that is usually associated with famous personalities was missing but looking at the friends list, the nationalities seemed to match - quite possible that she has just joined in with Facebook, which is quite strange, because she is of the current generation and although, Instagram could have been her patron's or her sponsors' choice, Facebook was not so bad, was it, that they gave it a miss for their star?

Putting aside all these thoughts, I decided to pen a few lines of poetry for her, hoping for either getting a Like from her (she had only 73 friends in her profile, so the possibility of her reading my poetry was quite high - that a Facebook status updated would not consist of poetry is hardly a thought of substance to much dwell on and I don't waste my time on dwelling) and I did come up with some really beautiful lines that I managed to collect while watching "Doctor Strange" (in 3D) as the scene where the mirror dimensions and the real time juxtapositioning happen between Doctor Strange and The Ancient One.

What you see is how they are,
How you see is what they are,
Sometimes dark, sometimes blue and sometimes grey they are,
Shaded to protect what you are.
What they see from within is under the skies
What they see from without is within Space
and without Time but with the same eyes
that sees Time and Space but without the skies.

The inspiration was in 3-D and in sci-fi but the tragedy was in black & white that when I reached back and posted the lines and tried to find the name, it just would not appear in typeahead !!

She was gone! Not in my friend's list !! I felt like Steve Martin in The Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, when Michael Caine introduces the Princess and is rapped on the knuckles and made to squat on the toilet seat, and Martin goes, "NOT MOTHER?" Another way of saying it is like when the notorious female tries to swindle the two swindlers by dreaming about others' hard-earned money but finds herself in prison for having gone too far than her limited intelligence would allow her.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Angular material - Cards tip

The fact is, that many times, we miss some obvious solutions that exist in the form of a simple attribute of an object and waste time using techniques that are no longer applicable because of the way technology and tools have emerged and those who do not recognize either end up with redundancies - in practices, techniques and attitudes.

So, when I read a question that was about managing a user login that was not returning to the login page after the user logs out or the session expires, I noticed the usage of a 'localStorage' object, which is the most common thing to do but if instead, the sessionStorage object were to be used, many knowledgeable would see that it solves some major problems straight away, without the usage of any special 'routers' (the software ones), it became clear to me that what the knowledgeable know is not through knowledge or more years of study but due to their experience.

AngularJS and Material (or for that matter, any technology that uses declarative forms of programming - declarative, in this context, does not mean annotations (as in Java) or attributes (as in C#), but as in programming through attribute (as in XML) values and directives (as in AngularJS)) are quite likely to put many of its programmer users in such situations.

One such instance that I wanted to share is inspired by another question on the same forum that was about deciding on AngularJS as a language to use in the project and what should be the criteria in making such decisions.

Rather than elaborating far too much on what could be bread and butter for many, suffice it to say, here goes !

Layouts, for the mobile, any-size-device, and the web, can be as simple as

<md-content layout-gt-sm="row" layout-gt-xs="row" layout-padding border="solid">

and the same layout fits for any device.

One of the most effective example of what should be the criteria for deciding on a language for a requirement (web or mobile app, though, only!)

Friday, 24 June 2016

White in Angular Material - tip

It is not a matter of black or white or any racial discrimination; it is quite simply a matter of the palette. Not that this indicates any taste or lack of it but because it is a colour, it must exist in some palette.

In Angular Material, the colour 'White' simply does not exist. It does, so to speak, but in the .backgroundTheme and to use it, you need to extend the grey palette (using the Google colour themes).

So, what do you do to colour your background 'white'? You simply create a new background theme and extend the palette whose hue you want to change or use! Like so,

var app = angular.module('modulename', ['ngMaterial', 'ngAnimate', 'ngMessages'])
    .config(function($mdThemingProvider) {
        var background = $mdThemingProvider.extendPalette('grey', {
            'A100': '#FAFAFA' // Not exactly white
        $mdThemingProvider.definePalette('background1', background);

The newly defined palette now can be used with any other palette like the primaryPalette.

But that is not all for, this, you can find in the issues list of the Material forum. Where it gets tricky is when you need to make AM recognize the colour, which Angular Material simply refuses to.

To make the new palette work for, say, md-toolbar, you need to wrap your md-toolbar in md-content for Angular Material to pick the colour from the theme.  

Friday, 25 March 2016

Nuttify to contextify and be nuttified

The all new circular references

I guess somebody out there got really miffed (which is not surprising because the government as defined by political parties is usually to 'represent' masses (to get votes) and if the masses are nutcases then the government will be representing nutcases - a kind of a circular reference or a Catch -22, for progressive minded sane people) with how the bureaucracy and the government works, who keep blaming each other or asking for newer things; much like how the traffic cops usually know how to ask for docs that you don’t have and at times for bribes, for which you do not have the money!

With JsDom, it is similar. JsDom requires a particular version of NodeJS. 

Cool, so you get the latest version or upgrade with npm, right? Wrong. Because NodeJS simply refuses to respond until you nativize your Contextify.

But, why do you want to Contextify, in the first place? You don’t but you have to because you want to use JsDom.

But why do you want JsDom? Because you want to jQuerify.

But why do you want to jQuerify in NodeJS if you can simply use jQuery?

Because you want to jQuerify and Ajaxify the scripts in your HTML DOM so that you could trick the user into believing that you are using a server while using a browser but which in turn is false because it turns out that it is not a trick because even a browser is not used.

And to do all these Trickifys, you need your native IDEs like Visual Studio or xCode because you cannot compile native modules as they are machine specific!

Much like how nutcases who believe that you cannot survive by doing everything on your own without their help (imagine Nuttifys to make believe the nutcases to believe that they are not nutcases and you get the picture!).

Or, in much clearer terms, it is how some nutcases want to 'liaise' with you to fix a marriage or even a job interview for another while being already married. So why should the nutcases do so? Because...dash it, that is why they are nutcases, I can't possibly answer every question in this world, can I? Do some homework on your own.

Friday, 12 February 2016

VS2015, NUGet and NUnit Test Adapter bug

Is it a VS 2015 bug or a NuGet one - there are so many weird bugs whenever NuGet is used to install packages!

One such bug can be replicated by following the below bullet-ed steps:

  1. Install NUnitTestAdapter with NUGet (not the one with the WithFramework) in your NUnit test project. Set the test project's target framework version to "4.5"
  2. Check the Test Explorer and the target framework Settings of the project to ensure both synchronize.
  3. Add another project (say, for example, a class library to be tested from your NUnit test project). Set your project's target framework version to "4.5.2"
  4. Add reference to NUnit v2.6.4 (not v3.0 and not through NUGet) after downloading it from NUnit dot org and add some tests in your test project. 
  5. Build solution. You should see some warnings as below.

Open the Test Explorer window. from Test->Windows->Test Explorer and click Run all... No tests will appear in the Test Explorer because the tests cannot be discovered due to Build errors!!

Warnings are errors? Rhetorical question, of course.

Change the other project to target the same framework version as your test project's and rebuild.

Now check out the Test Explorer.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Given, when, then

One of the most fascinating games that humans play is Chess because it is not just a great mind game (or game of minds), it is also a game that enables many institutions and disciplines to function in a standard, universally acknowledged manner.

The fundamentals of Chess begins with the opening.

A chess opening is a sequence of moves that have to be played in a certain way (not as in 'discipline' that you have to play so but in a form much like how constellations are identified). There are many chess openings, as there are many constellations and design patterns (software), that are identified with the formation of the pawns structure, the placement of the other pieces in relation with the pawns etc.

Much like other conventions, many are puzzled as to why these openings emerge. One of the best way to understand the need for Chess Openings, as an accepted tool of study to play better and competitive chess, is by looking at one of the most popular Chess Openings of them all - the Dragon variation of the Sicilian defense.

The Sicilian - Dragon variation

As the name suggests, it is played by the player playing Black hence, the name 'Defense' but it is popular because of the high octane attack that it enables for Black on the Queen side of the Chess board.

The 'simulated' Dragon

Sicilian Dragon is one of the few variations in Chess Openings that can be explained clearly not just as an opening but why the Black Bishop serves its purpose at g7.

Here is a 'simulated' dragon (the theory is the same but the Bishop's position is not where it should be even though the diagonal remains the same) that loses black two to three moves that shows in the subsequent moves of the game how handy the two or three moves 'lead' time, also called as 'tempo', could have been for black.

Edit: This game was being played Live while I wrote this and I expected the 'tempo' was lost for Black and that White would capitalise on it, in the subsequent moves (if White had been enterprising and sacrificed with Ndxe6, fxe6, followed by Bxc5 !! recovering the sacrificed Knight, losing the White Knight on C3 immediately, but following with either Rxd6 or Bxd6, winning the exchange and a pawn and, of course, the simplest bxc5, Qa5 Ncb1 not Nb3 because Qxa3+ wins back a Knight with Bxc3) but...!

Given that the black Bishop was not in 'f6' but in 'g7'. 

And after just 7 moves, after move 15...Bf6, here is the resulting board position!

And after just another move, White is in total disarray.

The reason why it is called the Dragon !

Season's greetings, happy holidays and wishing a great happy new year for all my readers, followers, blogger family and friends ! :)

To be contd.

Monday, 7 December 2015

The Scrum Planner

Organizing the story board is usually dependant on the automated tool that is used. Often, when we use a real life story board like a white board, there are the same maintenance issues that usually pertain to communication. How to convey the right picture to the team?

When a task is slipping or lagging, do simple updates in stand-ups help or do you need an additional input? And if you do, where should the output, a graph or alerts, be conveyed to - the team, the management or presuming you are doing Scrum, with the ScrumMaster?

Role based users - the Scrum Planner is accessible only for Scrum-mers and the Sprint Planner only for the Sprint-ers !

The Scrum / Sprint Planner does just this - it helps you with a template of pre-assigned roles and responsibilities as defined in Scrum and as an experienced Agile practitioner, like me, would use it. Developed for Excel, this add-in is the complete solution for all your Scrum needs. Follow my blog to stay updated on the release date for this tool.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Working with Code 2015 using Sharepoint 365

This (please refer to the steps below) will work only if you use IE as your internet browser. 

1. Open your Sharepoint site (Site Collection).
2. Click on Documents in the left pane menu.
3. Click Library on the tab above.
4. In the Ribbon menu, locate "Open with Explorer" and click it.
5. Once the Windows Explorer opens, copy the url
6. Click Map Network Drive from Windows Explorer's left pane and paste this URL.
[7. Check if Keep me signed in option had been checked when you logged into your Sharepoint site otherwise, an error may occur. If it still does not work, check if your Sharepoint site is added to your browser's Trusted sites].
8. Open Visual Studio Code or copy/paste your existing VS Project to this location.
9. Microsoft's OneDrive will take care of syncing the files/folder with your Sharepoint Document Library.

So, beyond Napa 365 and Visual Studio 2012 Ultimate, you can now also use the lightweight super IDE - Code!

Happy Code-ing !

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

A case of too much thinking !

Imagine my chagrin, as I was watching "Pawn sacrifice", a week after mentioning it in another blog post, that most of the mentions of Life and other magazines in that post, were actually happening in front of my eyes.

They must have showed it in the promos that I had seen, was what I told myself but what about the creeps that are somehow beginning to look like stalkers to me, who invariably find a seat, (*next or near to me*, without this correction, it sounds quite pompous as if creeps should not find a seat even in a near-to-empty cinema hall) in a near-to-empty cinema hall?

This time the moron was more eager to make some munching sounds (for those not familiar with Indians, these are creepy types that go around thinking that if they 'irritate' others, they are either making them 'cute' to others, when they describe such moronity or that they are 'psyching' others.) as if to make me specially take note that 'it' was making those sounds!

Probably, the nutcase wanted to make a point 'tellingly' that 'it' had read my blog post because there was another similar creep, talking to its friend, outside the cinema, that "These are the kind of people that people hear about" and then repeated it, tellingly, even as the other remonstrated that once was enough! Quite clearly, a case of too much thinking beyond what their faculties could allow them.

The point is while you expect some to respond, if not favorably upon reading a blog, to at least not make my life 'stalked' and 'witch hunted'.

Co-incidentally, this is how the life of Fischer, the American Chess genius, was thought best to be described as by the filmmakers of the bio-pic. Strange!

Nevertheless, the biopic, as they call it, is well made.

Boris Spassky, played by Liev Schreiber, is almost like how we, my friends and I, used to talk about Spassky in our childhood - with awe and admiration.

To be absolutely objective, Schreiber seems to have got stuck with the introverted, controlled-in-a-repressed-manner roles - The Manchurian Candidate, even in the Omen - you name them and he looks "ready to look troubled" like an instant mix of "troubled and haunted by ghosts" pack.

But in all fairness, good enough a portrayal of Spassky to merit an Oscar for the best supporting role. I am sure the Russians would agree, too, and back him for the award.

And hey, in my previous blog post on the same topic, I had mentioned that Tobey Maguire looks more like Karpov than Fischer.

Made, then, only with having seen the promos and the ad banner but yet, how right I was.

This was not the Fischer that we used to visualize and probably, not as the screenplay writers must have either, because at many places, the dialogues clearly left me feeling that, "This line should have been spoken by some other type of character, in a lighter vein, but not this person."

I am almost certain that Fischer would have been appalled at how he was being cast had he been alive to see the movie but all credit to Maguire for having produced such a film and for having learnt Chess for the film !!

And they also show the real Bobby Fischer during the credits, bulky, tall and heavily bearded.

Myself, I am almost sure that no Hollywood producer is going to consider me for a role after this or even talk to me for not having praised one of their fraternity or if not praised, at least not have picked on the film at all.

But, as I said at the beginning of the post, the same applies to many blog readers, who are setting stalkers and witch hunters, however harmless they may be!