Month: November 2010

CodePlex

Posted by – November 27, 2010

I’ve been monitoring CodePlex for a while now — looking out for VB.NET projects seeking additional help.

Most of them were either not to my liking (too much reliance on third-party library files, too far outside of my interests, etc.), but I did stumble upon one that I felt like I could help out with.

I decided to help out with goTranslateIt. It’s not the most complex project out there, but I saw enough of the code to see opportunities for improvement.

It was fun to work on.

Realistically, I’m not sure how practical the application is in terms of real-world usage. For me, if I need to translate something, I typically just load up a web-based translator, get the translation, and I’m done.

There aren’t many situations I can think of where people need to do enough translations where they’d want a winform-based application installed on their system.

I like doing fine-tuning of GUI functionality or coming up with ways to make things a bit more efficient. I had a lot of opportunities for that.

Also enjoyable was closing out the only open issue of the app — a bug that seemed to only affect translations for Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Cajun Creole when using the Bing translation API. The problem was easy to identify and thanks to other changes I made during my initial code cleanup, the fix was pretty simple.

Going forward, the biggest improvements I could see for it would be to make a more generic Translation Provider class and implement the Google and Bing methods within that. Hopefully this would help simplify things a bit and make it easier to add additional translators later on…

DNA & You

Posted by – November 24, 2010

23AndMe is doing another holiday promotion.

The good news is that their complete kit is on sale from the usual $499 price to only $99

The bad news is that it looks like they are switching to a subscription model… They want you to pay $5/month if you want to keep getting updates…

Previously, just having the “complete package” would give you free ongoing updates as new discoveries are made.

You can opt not to do it beyond the first year, but when you buy it, you’re agreeing to a year’s worth of monthly updates, so you’ll have to pay for it either way initially.

That means that the $99 discounted rate with the mandatory year’s worth of updates (at $5/month) comes out to $159.

Not as good of a deal as before, but still decent… and I’m sure it’s probably a better business model for them in the long-run.

For those of you who already use the service, like me, we’ll be grandfathered in and not have to pay for the updates. Sweet!

Also, they are making changes to allow customers of these packages to get a discounted upgrade later on once the company switches from basic geno-typing to full-sequencing. That is pretty cool, I have to admit…

The current genetic testing package includes Health & Ancestry reports.

The Health reports are interesting for learning about health risks you might not realize you have or bad genes you might be passing down to kids in the future. It covers carrier status, disease risk, and drug response information.

The second report is a bit different. It can help show you, based on genetic markers, where your ancestors likely came from. The newest feature is their “Relative Finder” service, which can help identify potential relatives. Also included are global similarity matching and a maternal/paternal lineage mapping

If you’re interested in stuff like this, it’s definitely worth checking out. At $99 (even with the extra $60 for updates), it’s definitely worth the money.


Website: https://www.23andme.com/store
Promo Code (to use at checkout): 8YGK7C
Valid: 11/24 at 10am PST through 11/26 at 12am PST

Problem 013

Posted by – November 17, 2010

This one took me a while to solve. The numbers were too large to fit any of the built-in datatypes, so I couldn’t solve this the easy way.

I had to come up with a different approach.

I decided to “kick it old school” and add up each column of digits individually. As long as I handled the remainders right, I figured it shouldn’t be too difficult.

Originally, I just tried working with it as one giant string, like I had done in previous problems. Ultimately, it made more sense to just toss the 50-digit numbers into an array and work with it there.

Not only did it work like a champ, but it was fun to do.

Work out the first ten digits of the sum of the following one-hundred 50-digit numbers.

37107287533902102798797998220837590246510135740250
46376937677490009712648124896970078050417018260538
74324986199524741059474233309513058123726617309629
91942213363574161572522430563301811072406154908250
23067588207539346171171980310421047513778063246676
89261670696623633820136378418383684178734361726757
28112879812849979408065481931592621691275889832738
44274228917432520321923589422876796487670272189318
47451445736001306439091167216856844588711603153276
70386486105843025439939619828917593665686757934951
62176457141856560629502157223196586755079324193331
64906352462741904929101432445813822663347944758178
92575867718337217661963751590579239728245598838407
58203565325359399008402633568948830189458628227828
80181199384826282014278194139940567587151170094390
35398664372827112653829987240784473053190104293586
86515506006295864861532075273371959191420517255829
71693888707715466499115593487603532921714970056938
54370070576826684624621495650076471787294438377604
53282654108756828443191190634694037855217779295145
36123272525000296071075082563815656710885258350721
45876576172410976447339110607218265236877223636045
17423706905851860660448207621209813287860733969412
81142660418086830619328460811191061556940512689692
51934325451728388641918047049293215058642563049483
62467221648435076201727918039944693004732956340691
15732444386908125794514089057706229429197107928209
55037687525678773091862540744969844508330393682126
18336384825330154686196124348767681297534375946515
80386287592878490201521685554828717201219257766954
78182833757993103614740356856449095527097864797581
16726320100436897842553539920931837441497806860984
48403098129077791799088218795327364475675590848030
87086987551392711854517078544161852424320693150332
59959406895756536782107074926966537676326235447210
69793950679652694742597709739166693763042633987085
41052684708299085211399427365734116182760315001271
65378607361501080857009149939512557028198746004375
35829035317434717326932123578154982629742552737307
94953759765105305946966067683156574377167401875275
88902802571733229619176668713819931811048770190271
25267680276078003013678680992525463401061632866526
36270218540497705585629946580636237993140746255962
24074486908231174977792365466257246923322810917141
91430288197103288597806669760892938638285025333403
34413065578016127815921815005561868836468420090470
23053081172816430487623791969842487255036638784583
11487696932154902810424020138335124462181441773470
63783299490636259666498587618221225225512486764533
67720186971698544312419572409913959008952310058822
95548255300263520781532296796249481641953868218774
76085327132285723110424803456124867697064507995236
37774242535411291684276865538926205024910326572967
23701913275725675285653248258265463092207058596522
29798860272258331913126375147341994889534765745501
18495701454879288984856827726077713721403798879715
38298203783031473527721580348144513491373226651381
34829543829199918180278916522431027392251122869539
40957953066405232632538044100059654939159879593635
29746152185502371307642255121183693803580388584903
41698116222072977186158236678424689157993532961922
62467957194401269043877107275048102390895523597457
23189706772547915061505504953922979530901129967519
86188088225875314529584099251203829009407770775672
11306739708304724483816533873502340845647058077308
82959174767140363198008187129011875491310547126581
97623331044818386269515456334926366572897563400500
42846280183517070527831839425882145521227251250327
55121603546981200581762165212827652751691296897789
32238195734329339946437501907836945765883352399886
75506164965184775180738168837861091527357929701337
62177842752192623401942399639168044983993173312731
32924185707147349566916674687634660915035914677504
99518671430235219628894890102423325116913619626622
73267460800591547471830798392868535206946944540724
76841822524674417161514036427982273348055556214818
97142617910342598647204516893989422179826088076852
87783646182799346313767754307809363333018982642090
10848802521674670883215120185883543223812876952786
71329612474782464538636993009049310363619763878039
62184073572399794223406235393808339651327408011116
66627891981488087797941876876144230030984490851411
60661826293682836764744779239180335110989069790714
85786944089552990653640447425576083659976645795096
66024396409905389607120198219976047599490197230297
64913982680032973156037120041377903785566085089252
16730939319872750275468906903707539413042652315011
94809377245048795150954100921645863754710598436791
78639167021187492431995700641917969777599028300699
15368713711936614952811305876380278410754449733078
40789923115535562561142322423255033685442488917353
44889911501440648020369068063960672322193204149535
41503128880339536053299340368006977710650566631954
81234880673210146739058568557934581403627822703280
82616570773948327592232845941706525094512325230608
22918802058777319719839450180888072429661980811197
77158542502016545090413245809786882778948721859617
72107838435069186155435662884062257473692284509516
20849603980134001723930671666823555245252804609722
53503534226472524250874054075591789781264330331690

Solution:
Function Prob013() As String
Dim arrNum As New System.Collections.ArrayList

arrNum.Add("37107287533902102798797998220837590246510135740250")
arrNum.Add("46376937677490009712648124896970078050417018260538")
arrNum.Add("74324986199524741059474233309513058123726617309629")
arrNum.Add("91942213363574161572522430563301811072406154908250")
arrNum.Add("23067588207539346171171980310421047513778063246676")
arrNum.Add("89261670696623633820136378418383684178734361726757")
arrNum.Add("28112879812849979408065481931592621691275889832738")
arrNum.Add("44274228917432520321923589422876796487670272189318")
arrNum.Add("47451445736001306439091167216856844588711603153276")
arrNum.Add("70386486105843025439939619828917593665686757934951")
arrNum.Add("62176457141856560629502157223196586755079324193331")
arrNum.Add("64906352462741904929101432445813822663347944758178")
arrNum.Add("92575867718337217661963751590579239728245598838407")
arrNum.Add("58203565325359399008402633568948830189458628227828")
arrNum.Add("80181199384826282014278194139940567587151170094390")
arrNum.Add("35398664372827112653829987240784473053190104293586")
arrNum.Add("86515506006295864861532075273371959191420517255829")
arrNum.Add("71693888707715466499115593487603532921714970056938")
arrNum.Add("54370070576826684624621495650076471787294438377604")
arrNum.Add("53282654108756828443191190634694037855217779295145")
arrNum.Add("36123272525000296071075082563815656710885258350721")
arrNum.Add("45876576172410976447339110607218265236877223636045")
arrNum.Add("17423706905851860660448207621209813287860733969412")
arrNum.Add("81142660418086830619328460811191061556940512689692")
arrNum.Add("51934325451728388641918047049293215058642563049483")
arrNum.Add("62467221648435076201727918039944693004732956340691")
arrNum.Add("15732444386908125794514089057706229429197107928209")
arrNum.Add("55037687525678773091862540744969844508330393682126")
arrNum.Add("18336384825330154686196124348767681297534375946515")
arrNum.Add("80386287592878490201521685554828717201219257766954")
arrNum.Add("78182833757993103614740356856449095527097864797581")
arrNum.Add("16726320100436897842553539920931837441497806860984")
arrNum.Add("48403098129077791799088218795327364475675590848030")
arrNum.Add("87086987551392711854517078544161852424320693150332")
arrNum.Add("59959406895756536782107074926966537676326235447210")
arrNum.Add("69793950679652694742597709739166693763042633987085")
arrNum.Add("41052684708299085211399427365734116182760315001271")
arrNum.Add("65378607361501080857009149939512557028198746004375")
arrNum.Add("35829035317434717326932123578154982629742552737307")
arrNum.Add("94953759765105305946966067683156574377167401875275")
arrNum.Add("88902802571733229619176668713819931811048770190271")
arrNum.Add("25267680276078003013678680992525463401061632866526")
arrNum.Add("36270218540497705585629946580636237993140746255962")
arrNum.Add("24074486908231174977792365466257246923322810917141")
arrNum.Add("91430288197103288597806669760892938638285025333403")
arrNum.Add("34413065578016127815921815005561868836468420090470")
arrNum.Add("23053081172816430487623791969842487255036638784583")
arrNum.Add("11487696932154902810424020138335124462181441773470")
arrNum.Add("63783299490636259666498587618221225225512486764533")
arrNum.Add("67720186971698544312419572409913959008952310058822")
arrNum.Add("95548255300263520781532296796249481641953868218774")
arrNum.Add("76085327132285723110424803456124867697064507995236")
arrNum.Add("37774242535411291684276865538926205024910326572967")
arrNum.Add("23701913275725675285653248258265463092207058596522")
arrNum.Add("29798860272258331913126375147341994889534765745501")
arrNum.Add("18495701454879288984856827726077713721403798879715")
arrNum.Add("38298203783031473527721580348144513491373226651381")
arrNum.Add("34829543829199918180278916522431027392251122869539")
arrNum.Add("40957953066405232632538044100059654939159879593635")
arrNum.Add("29746152185502371307642255121183693803580388584903")
arrNum.Add("41698116222072977186158236678424689157993532961922")
arrNum.Add("62467957194401269043877107275048102390895523597457")
arrNum.Add("23189706772547915061505504953922979530901129967519")
arrNum.Add("86188088225875314529584099251203829009407770775672")
arrNum.Add("11306739708304724483816533873502340845647058077308")
arrNum.Add("82959174767140363198008187129011875491310547126581")
arrNum.Add("97623331044818386269515456334926366572897563400500")
arrNum.Add("42846280183517070527831839425882145521227251250327")
arrNum.Add("55121603546981200581762165212827652751691296897789")
arrNum.Add("32238195734329339946437501907836945765883352399886")
arrNum.Add("75506164965184775180738168837861091527357929701337")
arrNum.Add("62177842752192623401942399639168044983993173312731")
arrNum.Add("32924185707147349566916674687634660915035914677504")
arrNum.Add("99518671430235219628894890102423325116913619626622")
arrNum.Add("73267460800591547471830798392868535206946944540724")
arrNum.Add("76841822524674417161514036427982273348055556214818")
arrNum.Add("97142617910342598647204516893989422179826088076852")
arrNum.Add("87783646182799346313767754307809363333018982642090")
arrNum.Add("10848802521674670883215120185883543223812876952786")
arrNum.Add("71329612474782464538636993009049310363619763878039")
arrNum.Add("62184073572399794223406235393808339651327408011116")
arrNum.Add("66627891981488087797941876876144230030984490851411")
arrNum.Add("60661826293682836764744779239180335110989069790714")
arrNum.Add("85786944089552990653640447425576083659976645795096")
arrNum.Add("66024396409905389607120198219976047599490197230297")
arrNum.Add("64913982680032973156037120041377903785566085089252")
arrNum.Add("16730939319872750275468906903707539413042652315011")
arrNum.Add("94809377245048795150954100921645863754710598436791")
arrNum.Add("78639167021187492431995700641917969777599028300699")
arrNum.Add("15368713711936614952811305876380278410754449733078")
arrNum.Add("40789923115535562561142322423255033685442488917353")
arrNum.Add("44889911501440648020369068063960672322193204149535")
arrNum.Add("41503128880339536053299340368006977710650566631954")
arrNum.Add("81234880673210146739058568557934581403627822703280")
arrNum.Add("82616570773948327592232845941706525094512325230608")
arrNum.Add("22918802058777319719839450180888072429661980811197")
arrNum.Add("77158542502016545090413245809786882778948721859617")
arrNum.Add("72107838435069186155435662884062257473692284509516")
arrNum.Add("20849603980134001723930671666823555245252804609722")
arrNum.Add("53503534226472524250874054075591789781264330331690")

Dim tmpVal As Double = 0
Dim tmpRemainder As Double = 0
Dim strVal As String = ""

For NumPos As Integer = arrNum(0).ToString.Length To 1 Step -1
For k As Integer = 0 To arrNum.Count - 1
If tmpRemainder > 0 Then
tmpVal += tmpRemainder
tmpRemainder = 0
End If
tmpVal += Integer.Parse(arrNum(k).ToString.Substring(NumPos - 1, 1))
Next k
strVal = tmpVal.ToString.Substring(tmpVal.ToString.Length - 1, 1) & strVal
If tmpVal > 9 Then tmpRemainder = CDbl(tmpVal.ToString.Substring(0, tmpVal.ToString.Length - 1))
tmpVal = 0
Next NumPos
If tmpRemainder > 0 Then
strVal = tmpRemainder.ToString & strVal.ToString
End If

Return strVal.Substring(0, 10)
End Function

All Your State Are Belong To Us

Posted by – November 17, 2010

I don’t know quite what it is about some websites that just leave me with a bad taste in my mouth.

With Allstate, though, there are definitely a few things that come to mind….

The interface always seemed a bit clunky, for one. Way too many button clicks. Perhaps it all makes more sense when you have many different policies, but — at least for me — it just didn’t flow very well. There were little things they could’ve done to improve things, like automatically choosing my ONLY policy automatically rather than making me choose it manually…

Secondly, there were basic features that I took for granted with other insurance companies, but were seemingly missing entirely from Allstate’s website. The main one that comes to mind are replacement cards. I’m sure at one time or another, everyone has misplaced their insurance card. What is nice about Allstate’s competitors is that their websites typically give you the option to print out your own card. Some companies do this as a temporary solution while you await the official replacement in the mail. For others, that’s the only thing you get from them unless you request one be sent in the mail. This makes things more convenient and saves time for me. Also, if I don’t need them to print out and mail something to me, that’s saving the company money. So not only is Allstate saying a big F-U to the whole “going green” paperless movement, but it’s also just blatantly wasting my time and their money…

I’ve stayed with Allstate more out of lethargic apathy than as a loyal customer.

I’m just not a big fan of filling out paper work, so I don’t switch companies very often — not unless there’s a nice amount of financial incentive behind it.

Since I don’t typically get into car accidents, I have no idea how good their service is when it comes to claims or any of that.

Really, my only experience with them is through my online interactions when I need to pay bills, check my balance, or make adjustments to my policy.

When I logged in this morning, though, I was “greeted” by a screen informing me that my account had been migrated to a new system and I needed to update my information. That’s fine.

Apparently, they were toughening up their password security and added a “security question”. Pretty standard stuff these days, I guess. I’m still not a fan of having pre-defined security questions, but I never use real answers to them, anyhow, so I guess it doesn’t matter.

After filling out the form and trying to continue, I was warned that my new password did not meet their requirements. Hmmm.

Most of it was pretty normal — at least six characters, at least one number, one capital letter, one lowercase letter… yes, yes, I know the drill…

I used another password.

Nope.

I read the requirements again. Looks like I had missed the fact that the password could only be a maximum of ten characters. UGH!

The password tried using had apparently been longer than that, so it was failing.

Not cool.

I changed it to something temporary that would meet their requirements (and was less secure than my original password, mind you).

Allstate apparently felt that “Password1″ was way more secure than what I had been trying to use previously… Nice.

After logging in, I went straight to the account details page.

Is it really necessary to use a drop-down when there are only four choices? And, really, the first two should probably be combined, so it would just be three choices…

Especially when they are displaying all of the choices on the page, anyhow, why not just make them hyperlinks and be done with it? Whatever.

Clicking once to open the drop-down and a second time to choose what I wanted, the Account Info page, I came to the password screen:

I have no idea what “My Online Name” is, but the rest was pretty self-explanatory.

I attempted to update my password to something I would actually be able to remember. No luck. I tried another. Nope.

Apparently, it prevents you from using any of the past five passwords you’ve already used.

….seriously?

I’m not logging into a missile silo or trying to transfer funds to an off-shore bank account, guys.

I’m fine with warning users… “Hey! You used that password two months ago. Are you sure you want to use it again?” Trying to prevent me from using what I want, though, is silly.

When systems only care about the most recent five passwords, it’s just a case of changing my password five more times to stuff I’m never going to use again. Now I can use the password I want.

The bottom line is, antiquated password rules just look bad and make me feel like the company is either “out of touch” or use some old COBOL-based systems or something.

Passwords are a big deal for me. If I can’t log in when I want without having to use some ridiculous password that has to be changed frequently, it’s just not worth it to me.