Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Long Overdue - Part 2

I'm sorry to keep you waiting, oh stranger who takes keen interest in my updates. Got stuck up with the happenings of life but I promise you that this post is going to be quite interesting as I did things that I've never done before in my life. Had a quite an exciting month - November.

I'll start from where I left off. My sis finished her holidays and went back to college. Kept bugging her about the results. Finally got it in the first week of December. Not bad. Considering that she stands fourth in the class despite her marks :P

And about the web hosting. Still not enough money :P I'm still saving up but it I already see another expenditure coming up in the horizon. As for work, I've been assigned (and I've taken it quite interestedly) a pet project to build a private social networking site. It going quite well. Amazing how you can set up such powerful sites with so much ease these days with the help of ready-made software with just a few tweaks for customisation.

Enough of Tech talk, you say, and I agree. A lot more happened on the cultural side. Had a lot of "firsts" and a few more in the coming week.

Finally got out of my shell and attended the Live concert of Mandolin Padmashree U. Srinivas at the Ambedkar bhavan conducted by the Times of India as part of the Times Bangalore Festival. If you know me, I'm usually the lazy and the stingy kind so you may wonder how I decided to attend this concert. Well, in the past month, something has bitten me and I've become quite inclined to attending public functions and besides, got a free pass to this concert so thought "Why not?". Yes, you caught me there.

After that had a pretty hectic couple of weeks and then just rested for the last couple of weeks. Had a good rest. If you've read my earlier blog then you'd know how much I love my sleep and did quite exactly that - sleep! Got a good night's sleep every single night for the past week.

Last Thursday, my friend Vinny dropped  in at my house and during the conversation suggested that we visit Fantasy Lagoon at KR Puram the next morning to shoot some birds (I mean the actual birds of the Avian kind, not the other kind). I agreed. Decided to leave home by 6 but finally left by 6:45AM, reached his uncle's place at 7:15 to borrow his tripod and then went to Fantasy Lagoon. This is a lake, a little after crossing the hanging bridge at KR Puram. They have boating and some other activities that I didn't know of because I had never been there before and the place was closed at the time we had reached. They open at 11AM and are open till 7PM. Anyways, we hadn't gone there to boat so, we went around the place and found a hind-side entrance. Entered the banks of the lake, with the pleasing morning breeze, the chilling cold of winter and the beautiful scenery, we were mesmerised. Started shooting, spotted a few birds and a lot of fish in the lake. Learnt that Videography is quite an art. We had to meddle so much and had to respond so quickly with the zooming and focusing to catch the bird on the recording. Finally, after having spent a good half an hour, we were very refreshed and satisfied and were getting late to office. Hit the road, returned the tripod, went back home, got ready and left for office and you know - the usual stuff happened after that.

Next day, read about a play by Evam at the Alliance Fracaise de Bangalore in the Saturday's newspaper. It was Rs.200 per ticket. Yes, I immediately denounced it from my mind and carried on reading the rest of the paper but throughout the day, something in me said I got to attend this. One of the reasons for this was the cast of Karthik Kumar (a familiar face from his tamil movie roles and sis is a big fan of his. Read that the tickets are available at some book stores near MG Road but the venue is quite close to my place. Again, me being me - LAZY, didn't want to go so far. Found a phone number mentioned there, so called. A girl named Dhanya answered and found out from her that tickets are available at the venue. This was another BIG reason that made me go.

Wanted to go for the 5:30PM show but was late because of my mechanic who had delayed my scooter service. After paying Rs. 200 I didn't want to miss even a single minute of the show. So, brought my scooter back home and asked if my sister wanted to come. She jumped in joy hearing that Karthik's going to be there. Told my mom not to cook dinner as I'll be late and that I'd eat outside.

Took my sis, entered Alliance Francaise, the parking said full but apparently it was only Car parking that was full. Bangalore is becoming choked with cars. RTO needs to stop issuing new registrations or at least limit it. Anyways, that topic is for another time. The watchman there was my ex-neighbour (he moved some years ago), so with his directions, parked my scooter inside the venue.

Remember, that I had many firsts. Entering Alliance Francaise was a first. I'm pretty embarrassed  to say this but I've never been inside it though it was so close to my home. Anyways, having done that now, I feel a little less guilty. The premises is quite large. It doesn't look that way from the outside. We were just 5 minutes earlier to the event so the my ex-neighbour watchman uncle asked us to rush in. We did and bought the tickets and immediately there was a queue entering the auditorium. Expected it to be big but wasn't quite what i expected. The crowd was overwhelming. Hadn't expected that. There must've been about 200 people at the least.

The show did not start for a while and there was a power-point presentation being played explaining what Evam does and how we can help them and some western music playing in the background.  This was all quite nice fo the first few minutes but then got a bit irritated with the delay. Anyways, waited patiently and the show began.

First act was of Karthik Kumar. What a guy! Followed by Shanon, Rabhinder and TKM. The show was named "Urban Turban - Tall tales from the top of our heads" and quite aptly the utterances of all the four artists were spontaneous (at least looked that way without a hint of it being rehearsed) which made it intriguing. Both the Karthiks - Karthik Kumar and TKM were absolutely phenomenally funny. Laughed my stomach out. Shanon was intelligently funny and Rabhinder told us a story that touched our hearts. Before we know it, we had spent more than an hour and the show had come to an end. "What a show?" both of us exclaimed. Then thought to ourselves that all good things come top an end, a big sigh and we left the auditorium to reach back home. My sis wanted a pic taken with the artists but they had disappeared behind the stage and there were no signs of them coming out. So, I told her "Next time". We collected all the literature about the Alliance that were kept outside for public consumption (I being a hoarder of such literature) and then went back home feeling very satisfied. Mom had cooked despite me asking her not to, but good that she had(How do Mom's have such instincts?). I was very hungry and had forgotten to eat outside :P. Had a satisfying dinner and went to bed.

Then came the Sunday Reunion that I had planned with my old school friends. One my friends - Gautam is leaving to Canada in January and he's going there with no plans. So, we don't know if we'll ever be able to see him again (in case he decides to settle there) so we wanted to have a get together. So, 4 of our closest friends from school - Madana, Gautam, suhas and Avinash got together at Star City, bowled a match, played a match of Air hockey and then Suhas very kiddishly, played a few arcade games which was then hogged by the other kids around. Sad that we wouldn't get another chance for a while and we being in a hurry, the day coming to an end, almost, had a few pictures taken on Madana's insistence. Then, we argued about entering Fun world but then majority decided against it as we were not too keen on paying Rs. 200 (unlimited no. of rides which won't be possible) for just 2 hours. Thought of going to Urvashi Cinema to watch Final Destination in 3D but the called them to find out that they've changed the movie to "Rocket Singh" and besides, it was around 3 and the next show wasn't until much later in the evening. Then, Avinash, very thoughtfully brought along a greeting card for Gautam (with him leaving and all, got very senti), all of us signed it and presented it to Gautam. Then Avinash went his way after his Good Byes and we hit the road to Madana's home for a (very) late Lunch. On the way, being what he is, Madana lost his way and we had to make a stop until he could find us. When he did, co-incidentally we had stopped near our School. He suggested that we go inside. After some initial hesitation considering thatwe might not be allowed inside on a Sunday, we gave it a shot anyways. Luckily we found the watchmen "Rana" who was familiar to Madana during our school days. He happily allowed us in. We did some crazy stuff inside like playing "Pen Fight", remembering our old jokes and laughing our a**s off. Felt really nostalgic. Took a lot of pics with the Nokia 5800 Xpress Music's camera. I know, we need to get a digicam but haven't yet, so made use of what we had. (By the way, I'm not getting anything less than a digital SLR.) Watch this space for pics and a video.

After our wandering the school, went to Madana's house where his mom had prepared some lip smacking B3 (Bisi Bele Bath), Rasam and Thayir Saadham, a salad and Raita. Filled our stomach to our heart's content (this was around 5PM) and after a round of Singing by Gautam and Madana, said our Good-Byes and went back home.

Reached home by 6, skipped  dinner, hit the bed straight.

Returned back to the usual routine of Work and home from Monday onwards with the exception that I get up early these days and get ready quite in leisure.

Another interesting development is that I might be out of town and am going to experience a  few "firsts" in my life this coming week. First time to visit the Bangalore International Airport, first time to travel by a plane (yeah, I know, how lame is that), first time, I'd be going north of Tirupati.

Have gotten a long leave approved from the 24th to the 3rd for the New years. Will be visiting Trichy and Madurai. Again, a pilgrimage. Seems like I'm becoming very spiritual with all these pilgrimage trips that I'm going on these days. Well, call it what you want but I want to visit these places to know their history and admire their marvelous architecture and planning and to celebrate our culture.

So, until next time...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Long Overdue - Part 1

You may wonder why no post for more than a month. If you know me, you'd know my schedule. If you know that you'd know that I like my somnolence on weekends. A reason why I haven't been able to  complete reading the Rs. 4000 worth books that I bought some time ago.

Why a post suddenly now, you may ask.  Well, I didn't want you oh regular reader to feel ignored.  So, here goes...

A lot happened over the past month. I'm writing this for my own record although oh stranger, you can bore yourself by reading this journal of mine.

Let me go in reverse chronological order.

Today I got an SMS from BSNL offering me an upgrade to  1Mbps from my current 256kbps unlimited at Rs.1499 and 2Mbps at Rs.2999. It asked me to check www.bangaloretelecom.com for details which I want to but the internet speed currently is so damn slow that I'm just able to write this blog and nothing else.

If you are a regular reader, you'd know that I've been wanting to move this blog and my site altogether to a paid host and have been procrastinating because of financial problems and not able to find the right host. Was talking about it to a friend and he has been using this host called ZnetIndia.com and vouches for their service. So, have decided to try them out once I accumulate enough money.

Earlier this week, got to seeing the Harvard lectures of the CS50 course which came on this month's Digit's DVD and have been hooked to it ever since. Also, looking at Prof. David J. Malan, even I want to get a Mac Book Pro but again, I'm broke. So, if you, the reader feels especially altruistic and want to help a fellow human being, then please donate towards my MacBook Pro Fund by shooting an email to me. :P

My sis has just finished her semester exams and has started making me envy her for she is in her holidays now. College re-opens only 16th next month. That's 20 days of freedom to her. I wish I could rewind a few years and go back to my school days too. Miss it.

In the good thought of not making you strain your eye, oh reader, I shall write the rest of the update in the next post. (Excuse for being lazy, don't believe me.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Vodafone validity

Just got a message from Vodafone:
"Hello! As a special Vodafone customer, we have extended your validity to lifelong. You can now enjoy incoming calls free for life! Keep talking!"
Wow! This is the first time that something like this that I've got. Yay! :)
I'm elated!
Perhaps this is the result of being their loyal customer since 2005. Whatever the reason, I'm not complaining.
Of course, lifetime means till their license expires, which is 25-09-2021.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bluetooth Blueprints

There was one day when I visited my friend’s house when he showing off his newly arrived Bluetooth Stereo Headset. He asked me to try it on but I was indifferent towards it saying “A headphone is a headphone, how different can it be from all the others that I’ve tried on?” and declined his offer.

It was later, much later that I realised, when another friend of mine forced me to try it on, that THIS is indeed something different. It wasn’t just different. The difference was mind-blowing. The reception was crystal-clear over Bluetooth and the best part was that with Windows 7, it just works out of the box. It was this way right from Windows 7’s beta days. My friend and I fancy things that do not require drivers to be installed manually. We would readily confess to the fact that we have an obsession for collecting products that either has drivers on Windows built-in or gets it from Windows update. Our collection of product right from the AMD Motherboard & Processor to the Hauppauge Win TV PVR 150 – MCE TV Tuner card, the Xbox 360 controller for PC, to our Microsoft Keyboards and mice and HP fingerprint reader would all stand to prove this.

Both of us recommend to our friends & family and to anyone to buy products that would work out of the box. There might be other products out there, better products than the ones we recommend but  without integrated drivers, not only on Windows, but essentially any OS, the products loses its value and many of the features that it may be capable of which just get lost on installing the drivers that came with it manually.Also, the ones that have these drivers on the OS by default, have a better integration with the OS and with the software that comes with the OS which gives a seamless, intuitive, no non-sense experience with the device.

The other irritating part that we both hate while installing drivers manually is the whole load of bull crap software that get installed which I don’t need. For example, when I install my webcam, all I need is for it to work with my IM client software that I’ve already got installed. I don’t want a whole lot of crap to get installed enabling me to view myself and record video. These software are usually crippled with very basic options. If you are from a company that makes these drivers+software packages – listen carefully: We don’t need it! Just give the “.inf” files with the relevant “dlls” and be done with it. Perhaps for the non-geeky audience an installer to install the drivers. If you still want to give your software (which mostly is anyways third-party) give a choice to install it or not while installing the drivers.

Now back to my initial topic of the Bluetooth stereo headset.

After upgrading to Windows 7 RTM, for some reason, my Bluetooth headset has stopped getting the drivers from Windows update. I thought may be, my ultra-low-cost Bluetooth dongle (that I got for Rs.120, hehehe) had some problem with it. So, i tried with the other dongle (Yeah, I have two dongles, don’t get J already), it still didn’t work. So, finally I decided to take it to my friend’s house to test it with his setup. It still didn’t work. It didn’t work with my two cheap dongles and neither did it with his X-Micro ultra-costly (Rs.1800, no, you read it right that is eighteen hundred) dongle. He asked me to leave it with him for a while for him to try again and also try his headset (exact same model The Dell BH200) with my dongles and I did.

Yesterday, I went back to collect it and asked him for the result of his experiments and guess what, all combinations of setups worked just fine and neither he nor I have any idea what the problem is. Now, I’ve brought back my hardware to carry out the same testing experiments at my house once again before I re-install the OS (Yes, I screwed it up while installing Office 2010 yesterday and it now needs a re-install damn it). Let’s see how it goes.

Now off to become the mad scientist and on with my experiments. See you all later with the results.

P.S. Wow, I just realised that this is one of my longest posts.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Weekend Wingding

Nice title han? It has to be. Scoured around the information super highway for it. “Wingding” means a kind of a noisy, exciting celebration or party. i bet you didn’t know that before now.

Well, narcissism aside, this is the long overdue post that I was supposed to make about my adventures two weekends ago. Twitter makes bloggers lazy. Those of you who follow me ( which is probably only me :P ) might recollect me tweeting the gist of this post. I hear you saying “enough already”. OK, without further yack yacking, here goes…

It was an innocent little, typical laid back weekend and I decided to visit my friend's house to check the speeds of my newly acquired BSNL EV_DO Data card. First, we started off with all the usual yada, yada, yada and then started the speed tests with a known fast and reliable Microsoft server, downloading the Windows live installer (the offline version of approx 118MB). We used Reget as our download manager, our favorite one since the first time we laid our hands on it. And FYI…We're still use the same old version (whichever that is, don’t remember :P ) and never have upgraded. The download started off and hit 50KBps (multiply by 8 to get kbps-kilobits per second) easily. It occasionally touched 100KBps and rarely even touched 150KBps. That was half of the speed that my friend had got when he had tried it earlier with another card.

We thought, may be the room has got something to do with it and started looking at things that might affect the signal reception. First thing we noticed was the Wi-Fi router being ON. We turned it off and… no difference. Then we kept the card closer to the window. And? Still no difference. Then we took out our final weapon – our Dell Inspiron 1535 laptop, plugged in the card and Windows detected it and installed drivers automatically after downloading it from Windows Update. We then took it to the terrace and tried it. Still… No difference.

By this time, it was mid-afternoon and we were undeterred at finding out the reason for slow speeds. Although we knew that it depends on the contention ratio, the time, the day and a whole lot of other factors, we still wanted to find out if the locality mattered. This is when we decided to take a ride with the laptop. With my friend zipping his Kinetic access scooter with me behind holding the laptop, we were drawing some weird stares from people on the road. They must’ve probably be thinking that we’re some crazy idiots showing off our newly bought laptop to the world. Well, all that did not matter. The only thing that mattered was the speed. We went north, we went south, we headed east, then we headed west. The speed averaged 50KBps and at some smaller lanes with concrete jungles, it was worse, it hardly touched 20KBps. This is when I uttered out saying that I wouldn’t move to this locality if ever I were shifting house. A random utterance at that point of time but a significant fact about the changing priorities of a house hunters. Realty agents, watch out. Along with the promise of Bijli, Sadak, Pani and Mosaic the Aam Aadmi now needs broadband internet access too. Wow! what a change in just a decade!

Then finally, we headed a little away towards the New horizon school on 100ft road, Indiranagar and Bam! the speed went straight up above 100KBps and stayed there. We kept moving around the school and the speed did not drop. Owing to the fluctuating nature of the connection, we decided to stop and observe the speed variation for sometime at this place. We thought that we were just lucky and expected it to go down, but on the contrary, it just refused to go below the 100 mark. That’s not the max promised (of 2.4Mbps = 256KBps) but its decent. This is supposed to be used on the go, right? Who on earth would want to download massive files on the go? Armed with this inference after our wacky experiment on the roads of Bangalore, I was relieved to know that my expense on the card was not futile.

Now comes the second part to the story…

The day after I got the data card, my BSNL Broadband DSL connection at home stopped working. Being what it is, I thought this is a typical disconnection that happens occasionally and rectifies itself in a couple of days max, but… I think the people at BSNL thought now that I have the Data card, I don’t deserve the DSL home line and disconnected it permanently. Until this moment, my DSL hasn’t been working. The modem status says “"PPP Down”. The lineman had come to my house to have a look at the settings and spoke to me over the phone saying “What is the problem sir? the DSL link is glowing and working”. I said “I know that I have the DSL Link. I never complained about the link. The modem says PPP down. The call center person said that it is a server side problem and even I think so, so go rectify that”. He said he'll check and rectify. This was on Friday and then came the weekend. Grrr…. Being the bureaucratic bull-sh** that BSNL is, he hadn’t checked anything and is probably enjoying his weekend thinking “I’ll go check if they complain again”. Gauging by his way of talking, I'm sure he knows nothing. As long as there isn’t a problem, it works just great with BSNL, but the moment a problem shows its face, it just refuses to go away until it has boiled all your blood away.

It has started raining now ( one of the advantages of staying in Bangalore), so, I shall stop with this and am going to enjoy my well-earned weekend. Later people.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Somnolent Bliss

Hey all, I finally am out of the wormhole after scotty beamed me out. Now, for rest of my arbitrary contemplations and happenings, here goes...

Six hours sleep is a man's sleep, seven hours sleep is a woman's sleep, eight hours sleep is a child's sleep, nine hours sleep is a baby's sleep and TEN hours sleep is a FOOL'S sleep was what I was taught by on of my teachers at college but what I have done last night will clearly tell you that I had not paid attention in class to those lectures.

Usually weekends aren't complete and satisfying without a good amount of sleep so, typically, I would sleep during the Sunday afternoon for a couple of hours and sleep late that night. This would always make me late the next day and I would have to hurriedly get ready on Mondays, but yesterday was different.

My friend told me that whatever business I had with him, I was to finish it by 6 o' clock because he planned to sleep at 7 on Sundays. Then, another friend of ours listening to our conversation said "7 pm? That's early!". So, my friend replied to that saying "If I plan to sleep at 7pm, it would invariably become 9p.m. because on other days I sleep at 3a.m."

Taking inspiration from this, I thought I too would sleep by 7 and I followed it through. I went to bed at 7, though I didn't get sleep at 7. I finally slept by 8 thinking that I'd wake up really early. And guess what, I did. I woke up at 4 but went back to sleep thinking it's too early. I finally woke up at 7 and felt really refreshed. That's 8..9,10,11,12,1,2,3,4,5,6,7... 11 hours of complete somnolent bliss. So, according to my teacher's saying, that makes me what? I wonder.

Unlike a typical Monday morning, today was particularly peaceful and I reached office before time. So, whoever says sleep makes you dull.. "in your face!".

Got work now, so, later folks...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Swooshing in a wormhole!

Managed to gather a lot of dope (owing to a lot of protest, I'm changing this word :p ) content last weekend but I'm caught in this wormhole of the space-time continuum and am not able to post it all. Waiting for the weekend when I will be able to get myself the molecular transporter and ask scotty to beam me out of this. So, see you all then folks...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Is it an insect? A grasshopper? A spider? Nah...

Just found this interestingly shaped fiber of coconut stuck to my indoor water tank in the bathroom of my house:

Coconut Fiber

I think my mom had washed coconuts for tomorrow's Ganesh (what we tamils call Pillayar) Chathurthi. You may ask why wash the outside of a coconut. Well, you know how Indians do somethings calling it tradition but the actual practice had got modified so much that now it makes no sense at all, but we still do it.

Looking forward to the fest as This is one occasion where "Kozhakattai"  - the item with sweet, inside a cocoon of rice flour,baked, is made. Mmm... yummy!

Colleagues, don't drool already. I shall get you some on Monday. Although, don't blame me if it is too less. My mom's not a factory you see.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

BSNL EV-DO Experience Update

Finally got my connection activated and am using it right now to write this. I must say Murphy's law works flawlessly. "When something can go wrong, it will". I just did my very first speed test on this connection. As expected the ping time was extremely high, but the worse part is that the speed test.net site itself took about five minutes to load. LOL!

My very first EV-DO Speed test result:



Considering that 0.14Mbps =144kbps. I think my card is in the CDMA mode and not the EV-DO mode. Will go through the threads on India Broadband Forum and try to figure out a solution. Too tired to look through it. Will update again tomorrow morning. Watch this space.

Friday, August 21, 2009

BSNL EV-DO Wireless Internet, Yay!

All you poor souls out there on slow internet speeds, welcome your new envy - Me! :evil laughter:

I got myself the BSNL EV-DO 3G CDMA Wireless Internet connection today. Yay!

I never even looked at wireless internet as an option as I had BSNL Broadband at home and at office had Airtel line linking me up to the multi-verse. Well, I call the internet that as it has multiple avatars and serving different sects of people. Religions of sorts, if you know what I mean. There are fan boys of this and that all over the place. Enough of digressing from the topic, back on track...

The reason for me to get this sprang from the fact that I needed it for my work and my company said it'll get me one. They proposed Tata and they have a tie-up with reliance but both didn't offer unlimited plans. I proposed BSNL and for some reason or the other, the idea just got grounded on the run-way, never took off. I waited patiently for a week and then yesterday, I lost my patience. Couldn't resist the temptation. Spoke to a few people. Went online, did some research and was satisfied with the reviews that peopl had posted online about the service. Many thanks to Broadbandforum.in members for clearing a few apprehensions that I had. Buying the modem was a better option as, then, I didn't have to pay the modem rent every month, but then if I don't get the promised level of service, I wouldn't be able to return it. I bugged my friend with my dilemma of whether it was a good idea to get the connection at all in the first place to bother about all this. He said, he required it anyways so if I don't like it or if it did not work in my place as it is supposed to then he'll take it. So, it is win-win all round. Given that backing, I got the application yesterday on the way back home and went back today to submit the required documents.

People had mentioned that I'd have to jump through hoops to get a BSNL connection with all the bureaucracy involved but I must admit that my experience was pure exhiliration. I was amazed at the kind of service that I got from the Customer service centre (CSC). BSNL has evolved a lot from its former form of being the old and dusty Public sector organization. It has metamorphosed itself into a customer centric organization. Although there are a lot of kinks to be ironed out, it is a step in the right direction.

Here are a few shots that I took at office using the Canon digital SLR that was generously offered by my colleague. (Thanks Avinash).

[gallery link="file" orderby="title"]

The experience I had was pure amazement. Now just hoping that the activation will happen withing the promised 24 hours. Watch this space for some speed test results once its active. Post in your experiences with this service if you have/had subscribed to it.

P.S.: I've described my experience at the CSC here: http://broadbandforum.in/bsnl-evdo-broadband/50851-apply-new-bsn-evdo-connection/

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Open sourcing Text Books! and the future of Human Kind?

We've all seen the computer industry fight it out with the big corporations such as Microsoft (the most famous that comes to everyone's mind) to make software freely available to everyone. The Open source community is not against people making money from their efforts. It is very much for it, but what it preaches is for the source of the creation to be public and freely available for anyone to modify. Well, all this works for something like software but for TEXT BOOKS!?

I came across this thread on slashdot where an author of a popular text book was initially happy about making money in the form of royalty but became very frustrated by the fact that the publisher hiked the price of the book when it gained popularity and became THE choice of the students of that subject. He felt very bad at this dramatic price hike every year although he was happy because he considers what the students earned from it was worth it.

If everything is copyrighted and kept writing a confined limit, then we as a race would not progress much. There needs to be a revolution of sorts to change this attitude of content creators and they need to start thinking like this author did. Text books are a source of knowledge and this knowledge will help humanity achieve greater heights. And whatever knowledge is attained by one's experience needs to be shared for the common good, don't you think?

Revolution

I imagine a world where every child born will be born with knowledge of the things that its parents have already learnt, like language, experiences, mistakes that they've made and the learning that they got from those mistakes. This way the baby doesn't have to start from scratch. It shouldn't have to learn A...B...C... again. it shouldn't need to go to school and college to learn the things its parents had learnt already spending their entire life. All that time spent by its parents need not die along with them.

Yes, I understand that this thought is out of the world. You may consider me to be a moron to have such thoughts and some of you might also have ethical issues with such things, but all these issues are secondary and we can sort it out with a proper system and proper guidelines, but we need to start somewhere. Think about it... a baby, born already with the knowledge of its parents, can spend its childhood learning a lot more advanced technologies and you know what, it might even grow up to discover a way to time travel or traverse the universe like we commute to work today. The key behind all this would be the incremental knowledge from generation to generation. No knowledge dies with a single generation. Think of what heights the human race can achieve. Think of the problems of illiteracy, poverty, health etc that it would solve. WOW!

And at the end of reading this, you may wonder how is this relating to open-sourcing text books. Well, that would the stepping-stone to such a revolutionary approach. The first step in making knowledge freely available to everyone would make the know-hows of each generation exponentially higher hence making us the only and the most intelligent species in this universe to have performed humongous feats and achieved great heights.

Put in your thoughts, even the critical ones... Looking forward to it, so that I can gauge the response of the general population on this concept. Keeping my fingers crossed for you guys to, if not accept it, at least acknowledge the fact that it is possible.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Benchmarking your machine

How many of you guys actually do it? You might think everyone does it. The retail consumers like you and me do it for bragging rights. We compare our benchmark scores with those of our friends and peers and it is sort of a competition. Some of us are adventurous enough to overclock it to insane levels and post the scores online. The big enterprises do it to compare performance with their previous set-ups and evaluate the savings/return on  investment that they get out of the new hardware, but despite all this a poll conducted on an AMD blog that I stumbled upon speaks differently.

The blog talks about the different ways in which performance is measured and also how it affects buying decisions. The poll so far has the most votes for "Don't use benchmarking tools" which means not many people actually bother. People buy their computer for their specific use and just dump it at a corner of their room which humbly serves its master. The main emphasis lies on the experience they get out of it and not the numbers that these Benchamarking tools give. It does not matter to most of the population if their computer renders the Blu-Ray movie 1 second slower than their neighbour's does. Although this is an international blog and the votes are by an international audience, I feel that it speaks the same language here in India too.

So, go ahead check it out, cast your vote and don't forget to leave your comments here on what you think about the benchmarking tools, which tool do you prefer and whether you benchamark at all.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hardware graphics boost for Windows 7 by MS

Although the thought of an "OS" using the GPU made users wary, the concept needed time for general acceptance and that time has come. It is here and now. Windows Vista introduced this concept, but its insanely large hardware requirements that were ahead of its time made it an utter flop.


Today, the hardware world has caught up with the technological evolution with M$ playing Big brother for all that has happening around us. Microsoft needs to be given credit for necessitating the standards and minimum requirements to go up. It has done this to such an extent that even the linux world has started to accept these requirements.


Most mainstream Linux distros also require almost the same level of hardware requirements as Windows in order for the user to utilise all the features that the OS offers.


Now, Microsoft is trying to improve the visuals in Windows 7 by working with hardware makers on a software interface that maximizes the use of graphics cards. With the release of Windows 7 comes the latest iteration of its API for multimedia - The DirectX 11. This allows the OS to take advantage of the latest hardware with utmost efficiency.


The eye-candy that comes as part of Windows 7 now is a given to the end-user. One doesn't have to get special hardware to get this feature. Pretty-much all mainstream hardware support this. And for the ├╝ber cool enthusiasts, it is not just about the eye-candy. It is about the overall multimedia experience. With the clarity of videos/TV on Media Centre, the realism in games, the ultra-fast response times enabled by the level of detail, the right shade of colour for designers etc. Windows 7 tries to improve all these dramatically.




With the increasing number of cores on consumer processors, DX11 drivers enable the OS to break up the tasks and provide for division of labour effectively. It not only is going to use the CPU but also the massive parallel processing capabilities of today's GPUs for performing many of its tasks that were until now only done using the CPU. This will improve the gaming and High definition experience on PCs by leaps & bounds.


The DirectX 11 enhancements could also encourage more developers to build games for Windows 7 and help the company keep pace with competition. Competition to M$ isn't keeping quiet either. Apple's upcoming OS codenamed Snow leopard has radically changed the base to take advantage of graphics and CPU cores. It comes with built-in support for Open CL too. Open CL is a set of tools enabling the management of parallel execution of tasks. (Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenCL)





"There are plans to make native DirectX 11 hardware from AMD in its ATI Radeon GPUs available when Windows 7 is released" said AMD's Robin Maffeo, a Microsoft alliance manager on a blog post.


As users demand heavier graphics from PCs, it is in Microsoft's best interests to offer an operating system that breaks up tasks across multiple graphics cores and CPUs


Nvidia and AMD have said they would support DirectX 11 and OpenCL. Intel, which offers integrated graphics on chipsets, in June released updated graphics drivers for Windows 7, but it carried support for only DirectX 10.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Windows 7 - Worth the wait

I am one of those who shifts to the latest OS just for the heck of trying it out. I must confess that although the wait for the latest iteration of Microsoft's Windows 7 has been the least, it seems like I've been using the OS for eons now.

Windows 7 Packaging

I shifted to the beta Build 7000 when it had released and later upgraded to RC (build 7100) when that had come out.  I must say that right from the beta days, it felt like a very complete OS. Not for a moment that I felt I was using a pre-release or a beta OS. This first-hand experience led me to immediately to think that this is going to be a huge success and that Vista was supposed to be like this which it never did.

Now that the versions, the packaging, the pricing and the release date is announced, it has created a whole lot of buzz around it and has got me and many others excited to find out what's in store in the final RTM. How is it going to handle the DX11 graphics and how it is going to run on old or low-powered netbook hardware.

The pricing is lower than its Vista equivalent and anything about it has managed to garner a lot of attention. So, even hardware companies like AMD are associating themselves with it to piggy-back on its news for publicity. GPU makers ATI and nVidia have announced drivers for their cards for the new OS. Every Technology Forum, every technology blog worth its salt is talking about something or the other.

So definitely, 7 is worth the wait. Steven Sinofsky's decision to keep the name simple and straight forward, to keep everything under wraps until it was completely ready unlike Vista and the Engineering that has gone behind its design to make it draw the least juice out of the hardware has made it the darling of the masses. I have no doubts that this will make a great purchase for anyone looking for a new refreshing computing experience.