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Guess text encoding with scalar product

Playing with an 8-bit to multibyte text converter recently I came across with a rather interesting problem. The converter is intended to help with converting legacy text data encoded with older monobyte character encodings into UTF-8. Yes, the converting process itself is not a big deal. In fact it's a very basic and straightforward program a student would usually challenge him- or herself just after they accomplished the "Hello World!" one. However, the interesting part here is the fact that that "old encoding" can be one of a bunch of variants of slightly different ad hoc character sets. And to make things worse, the user doesn't usually know which code page exactly the original text was encoded with. And as always the user is reluctant to make any effort to find it out before using the tool. Where such ad hoc code pages came from and why they been used at all is a whole different story but it's not the point here. The point is how having only a piece of plain text to determine which code page it is encoded with. So...

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Paypal Payment vs. Micropayment comparison

If you sell stuff online and receive payments using Paypal you probably already know that you have two options for the payment fee with Paypal. One is the standard 2.9% commission + ¢30 transaction fee. The other is so called Micropayment Discount or 5% + ¢5 per transaction. The latter, as Paypal says, is better if your typical sales are less than $10. But how much better and what is typical? - are the questions that neither Paypal nor anybody else can answer for you. Here is a simple graph showing the total percentage you'd pay to Paypal from your merchant profit depending on the transaction amount. The graph is to help you understand your odds.

Fees graph over transaction size

Below is my humble "analysis".

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BLINK℠ and NFC, the swipeless credit card - what's the point?

Hearing all this buzz about cell phone manufacturers starting to offer credit card services using the near field communication (NFC) interface in their devices, I noticed that my Chase credit card has the BLINK℠ thing in it. It's not that I didn't know about it before, I remember (vaguely) how I received some years ago a renewed card with a colorful booklet describing a bunch of benefits the new BLINK℠ technology carry. Although the booklet was designed in a mood how it is impossible to stay alive anymore swiping credit cards old school, I was not very convinced that time. OK, I tried the new card once at a fast food register's BLINK℠ marked reader to make sure it works. Well, it worked. And that's about it. The question is, is it really "Fast, Easy and Secure" as it is advertised?

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Google+ circles

OK, as far as I could find so far the major, if not the only, advantage Google+ have against Facebook is their circles concept. But I'm still a little confused what would be the right way to use them. The circles are great, I agree, they prop your networking up into multidimensional space. However in my opinion it's still a half-way solution. And here is why I think so.

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Amazon Web Services

I know that to have your own personal blog is cool, but to have it on your own web host is double cool. That's true. However what can be even cooler to have your web host running in your own Linux virtual box? No, not running it in a real box in your garage. It was cool, even geeky, but some years ago. These days everything more or less advanced goes into... clouds. Yes, cloud computing they call it. Is it a right thing? - Yes, I want an answer on this question too. And there is only one way to find out - to try it on.

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