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.