Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Books 2

Here is the new batch of the books that I have read and liked.

[Homeland] Cory Doctorow wrote a sequel to Little Brother. His protagonist, Marcus, continues the fight against the police state. If you enjoyed the first book, this is certainly going to entertain you. You can get the book here.

[Lost Symbol] The Lost Symbol is a masterstroke of storytelling that finds famed symbologist Robert Langdon in a deadly race through a real-world labyrinth of codes, secrets, and unseen truths . . . all under the watchful eye of Brown’s most terrifying villain to date. Set within the hidden chambers, tunnels, and temples of Washington, D.C., The Lost Symbol is an intelligent, lightning-paced story with surprises at every turn. You can get the book here.

[Inferno] Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon awakens in a hospital in the middle of the night. Disoriented and suffering from a head wound, he recalls nothing of the last thirty-six hours, including how he got there . . . or the origin of the macabre object that his doctors discover hidden in his belongings. Langdon's world soon erupts into chaos, and he finds himself on the run in Florence with a stoic young woman, Sienna Brooks, whose clever maneuvering saves his life. Langdon quickly realizes that he is in possession of a series of disturbing codes created by a brilliant scientist-a genius whose obsession with the end of the world is matched only by his passion for one of the most influential masterpieces ever written-Dante Alighieri's dark epic poem The Inferno. Racing through such timeless locations as the Palazzo Vecchio, the Boboli Gardens, and the Duomo, Langdon and Brooks discover a network of hidden passageways and ancient secrets, as well as a terrifying new scientific paradigm that will be used either to vastly improve the quality of life on earth . . . or to devastate it. You can get the book here.

[A.I. Apocalypse] Leon Tsarev is a high school student set on getting into a great college program, until his uncle, a member of the Russian mob, coerces him into developing a new computer virus for the mob’s botnet - the slave army of computers they used to commit digital crimes.

The evolutionary virus Leon creates, based on biological principles, is successful -- too successful. All the world’s computers are infected. Everything from cars to payment systems and, of course, computers and smart phones stop functioning, and with them go essential functions including emergency services, transportation, and the food supply. Billions may die.

But evolution never stops. The virus continues to evolve, developing intelligence, communication, and finally an entire civilization. Some may be friendly to humans, but others are not.

Leon and his companions must race against time and the military to find a way to either befriend or eliminate the virus race and restore the world’s computer infrastructure. You can get the book here.

[Influx] Are smartphones really humanity’s most significant innovation since the moon landings? Or can something else explain why the bold visions of the 20th century—fusion power, genetic enhancements, artificial intelligence, cures for common diseases, extended human life, and a host of other world-changing advances—have remained beyond our grasp? Why has the high-tech future that seemed imminent in the 1960s failed to arrive?

Perhaps it did arrive…but only for a select few. You can get the book here.

[Flash Boys] In Michael Lewis's game-changing bestseller, a small group of Wall Street iconoclasts realize that the U.S. stock market has been rigged for the benefit of insiders. They band together—some of them walking away from seven-figure salaries—to investigate, expose, and reform the insidious new ways that Wall Street generates profits. If you have any contact with the market, even a retirement account, this story is happening to you. You can get the book here.

[The Money Bubble] The US, Europe and Japan are making financial mistakes that will soon cause a crisis of historic proportions. This book explains those mistakes and the likely shape of the crisis, and offers advice to those hoping to protect themselves and profit from what's coming. You can get the book here.

[Beginning Python] is not a bad book to remind yourself of the basics. It is written for Python 2.4.

This tutorial offers readers a thorough introduction to programming in Python 2.4, the portable, interpreted, object-oriented programming language that combines power with clear syntax
Beginning programmers will quickly learn to develop robust, reliable, and reusable Python applications for Web development, scientific applications, and system tasks for users or administrators
Discusses the basics of installing Python as well as the new features of Python release 2.4, which make it easier for users to create scientific and Web applications
Features examples of various operating systems throughout the book, including Linux, Mac OS X/BSD, and Windows XP

This is it for now and if you liked my selection, please drop me a note or recommend another book.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Aspose document generation


In today's business world reporting comes out as the end result of the functional application and it serves the purpose of giving introspection into the system, functionality, current and future needs and much more. Having a good system to produce reports is a challenging requirement as one has to balance functionality, requirements, price, potential support needs, easiness of use and widespread acceptance in development community, documentation, performance, interoperability etc. There is a huge potential of various products on the Internet when searching for a suitable framework to satisfy such needs.

During one of my last projects, we needed to accommodate several requirements in finding a product that can do it all :). I believe that we have come across a product that in our testing and POC proved to be a right choice. That product is Aspose.

Aspose is a leading vendor of .NET, Java, Cloud and Android APIs, SharePoint components and rendering extensions for Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services and JasperReports. They provide various products for working with Word, Excel, Images etc. To make the process easier, Aspose offers a license for all of the products called Total license. The pricing is very competitive too.

The benefit of using the Aspose is that end reports or document templates can be designed by business users in form of Excel of Word document and Aspose can be used to programmatically populate these documents. Documentation is very good with a lot of examples. Support is done primarily through the forums. The response times for support requests at the time I was writing this were very good even for unpaid support.

Usefulness of the Aspose comes from the versatility of the product, in a way that we can for example, start working with Word and add Excel details or pull parts of it, convert and standardize both and produce combined PDF, and then insert images or graphs on the go. Product comes in a form of library and supports both Java and .NET worlds. Library use is straight forward and license is loaded through the code before invocation of the function calls. Documents can be processed from the files or from the streams (if you keep them in the database). Library supports multithreading and in our tests proved to be very consistent and without apparent memory leaks. Data population uses Mail Merge functionality from Word, and supports both plain fields and repeating fields (like tables). Nesting tables require some playing around design in Word documents but it is doable and result looks very good. The product can run in both Windows and *NIX world and having Word or Excel installation in not needed.

I also have to add that libraries can be converted into OSGi friendly libraries and they work quite well in OSGi container too, whether you package them as JAR dependency or expose them as an OSGi bundle.

When working with Aspose and Mail Merge, data stream is established through the java.sql.Statement and has to be passed like this. We have tested functionality on both Oracle and DB2 and both work really well. Minor overriding needs to be done in case of BLOB fields to accommodate output based on the client library that you want to use.

A sample generic application (you can find this code on Aspose site in various sections):