Saturday, October 29, 2005

Desktop Blog tool for Gnu/Linux

Here is an application which you can use in Gnu/Linux operating systems to post blogs to popular blog services like Blogspot, LiveJournal, WordPress etc:


This could save you time logging in and traversing through lots of interfaces just for posting a small entry. On the other hand, if you want to post an elaborate message with images etc, i recommed the web interfaces over this.

There are others too: BlogGTK, but i like Gnome-Blog better. Debian users can install it using 'apt-get install gnome-blog' and start blogging by running 'gnome-blog-poster'.

(this post is from Gnome-Blog; above picture was added manually from the web interface; images can be dragged and dropped in Gnome-Blog.)

if you like, you can add it to your panel and keep jotting down text until you are finally ready to post it. Right-click on the gnome panel, select "Blog Entry Poster" and click OK. Enter the information requested and you are ready to post. I could not find a way in which multiple accounts can be used with this application.

Debian: My favourite OS

Debian gnu/linux OS is by far my faviourite operating system. What do i like *most* in debian? Like everyone else, it has to be its package manager - apt. I just install the base system with the installation dvd and then mount the two Debian dvds that i have on a local web share directory and add this location to apt sources.list file. that's it. whatever package i want to install, its just one 'apt-get install' away! if a package is not present in the DVDs then Debian would isntall it from the internet from one of its mirrors. No dependency hassles.

The other positives are : stability and security. Security may not be a big concern for me on a desktop machine, but stability sure is. Debian stable versions are released roughly once per 3 years!! Only FreeBSD can compete with Debian in both stability and security. The tradeoff here is that you don't get the latest packages, those which are in their alpha and beta stages. if you want the latest versions of everything, you can use the 'test' version of Debian(which still is very robust) or go for Ubuntu or Gentoo(If you don't have a fast internet connection, then Gentoo or Ubuntu may not be the best choices - you may have to fall back on Mandriva or Suse).

Anything i miss in the OS? Debian is very reluctant to support nonfree software. you can still install such software but its not always straightforward. take the example of Sun's Java technology. simple 'apt-get install' won't work with Java and you have to manually download it from Sun's website(the .bin version, not the .rpm.bin version) and convert it to .deb package and then install it using dpkg. very un-debian way. same with software like flash player, real player etc.

Finally, what applications do i use most on Debian? the usual ones: Epiphany Browser(Firefox is not installed by default in Debian Sarge!), XChat IRC Client, Gaim IM, Mozilla Thunderbird, Beep Media Player,, Emacs, KDevelop.

More info:
http://www.debian-administration.orgIRC Network - FreeNode, Channel - debian

Friday, October 28, 2005

End of Sourav Ganguly?

that's it then. this may be the time Saurav Ganguly has to bid adeu to international cricket - one day version atleast. there is a small possibility of Saurav bouncing back in the days to come but i find it less likely. he playing the next test series itself is a bit unlikely. and it all came at the right time in my opinion. india had two emphatic victories back to back and it always looked difficult to make any major changes to this well knit unit. so no politics, no controversies. decision made purely on performance basis. for the first time BCCI did not do any thing silly and took a sensible decision. but we are not going to forget you Saurav, you will ever be remembered as a great cricketer for all our lives. thanks for entertaining us all through your wonderful career. and have a very great time in whatever you do in the future.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Live Cricket Scores on Mobile Phones

Here is a nifty utility to track live cricket match scores on a J2ME enabled mobile device :

LiveCricketScore (License: GPL)

Its free, small in size, downloads minimum amount of data for every fetch of the latest score and it works on any J2ME enabled mobile phone. The application tracks only those matches that are played by India(ODIs and Tests). Source code is now available on the site or here.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Who is the second greatest test batsman of all time

comparisions of great cricketers can never be done in a fair manner, but the analysis at the following blog by Rajendra Parikh is worth a read and it makes one thing very clear, that the analysis was done using only the statistics of the players:
Download it.
Read it online.
(Result? Bradman, the best player and Sachin Tendulkar, the second best)

'Shortcuts' mini film festival

Its all happening here in Hyderabad. When people just started to feel elated that one is finally getting to watch some interesting cinema(2005 has been really eventful with Black, Page 3, Iqbal, Hazaaron Khwahishen Aise, Parineeta and a lot of others), more joy is in store for film buffs in the form of some of the best short films and documentaries. All this was made possible by a bunch of passionate film lovers from the organisation called 'Short Cuts' which organises a monthly film festival of short films, many of which have won national and international film awards. Every month they also showcase the local talent by screening atleast one film made by a Hyderabadi film-maker. Do have a look at their web site for more information about what films they have screened so far.

Let me point out my favourites from the last two film festivals that i got to attend. “Me, Meera” by Subhakar was the best out of all. It was also the longest at 53 mins. It impressed me at various levels 1) it covered all the famous places from Hyderabad including best irani hotels, book sellers and pirated hollywood vcd shops, 2) it had a good dose of quotes. one was attributed to churchill "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.", which other sources attribute to Ralph Waldo Emerson. And another killer ad: "Smoking cures Cancer" 3) It has lots of humour, which was never loud 4) It touched a chord or two philosophically too, which is unlikely with someone who has a very distinct take on philosophy regarding everything. It also got a stylish treatment to the whole film, and you gotta love the art work in the starting titles!! if only i had a copy of it on my disk - i would have shown it to everyone who came my way.

The other film i liked is
"Girni" by Umesh Kulkarni. It was born from an idea - to enter into the mind of the child and see from his eyes the imapact of noise (that of a 'girni', flour mill) and the best compliment one could give it is that the execution has been perfect. You feel right inside the innocent mind of the child right through the film and that itself is a huge achievement. The film won "Best Film", "Best Director" and "Best Cinematography" national awards (short film category) is no surprise to me at all.

More film talk after the next film festival - sometime around 15th of november.

WorldSpace Radio: Mixed Feelings

Radio is Back!
I first came across the WorldSpace Radio in Prasads Multiplex Theatre and felt very happy to atlast see 'cd quality radio' at the disposal of the hyderabadis. The initial cost of Rs.5,500 and rather high Rs.1200 per month prompted me to take some time before deciding to go with it. After sometime, I revisited the shop at Prasads with the intention of giving it a go for atleast one year, but another surprise was waiting for me: one year subscription would now cost Rs.1800. That's equal to my cable tv rent. I was assured that the fee would not be increased again for around another 5 years and that was some consolation for me. But i decided to wait for the festival season and see if they come up with some nice offers: they came with one and that sealed the deal for me. The BPL Diva Reciever(Radio Device) + 3 month subscription to around 35 channels for less that Rs.2000. I decided to buy the reciever, try it for 3 months and then decide whether its for me or not and then either renew the subscription or not based upon the experience. I went to the shop that very day and bought the package.

I was warned that because of the festival season, they got lots of orders and hence they can do the installation only after 10 days. I was also told that the manual installation is not that hard. The manager then went on to say that it would take 3-4 days for the installation and one week at max. He suggested me not to try the installation manually. So much for their own confusion. I was asked to register the device with customer support office, get the password and unlock the signal(all but 5 free-to-air channels are encrypted). That dampened my spirits because i can't listen to the radio(yes, i decided to install it manually) until the next day as it was already beyond 8:00pm, the closing time for their customer support office. Called the customer support next day, gave them the details, got the password, entered it and started trying to recieve the signals.

I was told that the antenna should have clear Line-of-Sight to the sky, and trees, glasses etc are not a problem. What manual says is, curtains, glasses, plastic etc are no problem but walls and trees are. So much for the knowledge of the sales people. I got in a fix now: i have my house covered with either trees or other houses. Still tried to direct the patch antenna that comes with the device towards a small patch of sky partially visible under the sky and voila! got the signal after the annoying 'TDM GONE'(means no antenna/signal) for all morning. But it kept diconnecting and only some(Carrier 80) channels were coming. I tried it again in the evening and the signal was slightly better but only channels from Carrier 80 were coming - none of the channels from Carrier 75 were coming. Tried the next day and the 'TDM GONE' signal was all i saw for the whole day. Got a call from customer support saying that the installtion would be done on monday or tuesday - that's only 4 days from the buying date! so gave up on trying it myself and started waiting for the technician. Contacted the customer support again on thursday to be promptly told that it will take more than 10 days because of 'festive season' and started to give all kind of statistics as to the number of orders and available personnel to handle them - wonder what statistics they used when they last called me. I decided to go with external Yagi antenna and extension cable for an additional cost of Rs.1000.

Spent another thousand bucks and bought the antenna and cable and installed the antenna on the roof. That was it. Got a very good signal strength(4 bars compared to 1 flickering bar earlier) and the music play was uninterrupted. The quality was better than what i had expected. And i was able to recieve all the channels: from both the Carrier 75 and Carrier 80. Finally, was able to tune in to Jhankaar and Farishta - channels for hindi film music.

In the end, i am pleased with the quality of the music and the kind of music that is played and as a bonus it also has some news channels like NDTV(English and Hindi) and CNN (BBC needs Gold Subscription - Rs.250 per month). Those who like English music would like it more as no radio in india plays that kind of music for 24 hrs a day; and there are like 10+ channels covering various genres(jazz, pop, country, blues, rock n roll etc).

Unlike FM, there are no advertisements(except NDTV). Anyhow the FM in Hyderabad is not something to talk and rave about. But the management and customer support leaves much to be desired. It works like any Indian government organisation - different departments are not well co-ordinated with each other and you don't get proper responses to your queries. The website is decent( but the forums are empty with just 9 members. There was another forum( which had good traffic with lots of users but that has been closed or moved. There is also a group at Yahoo! Groups: which has good activity.

So in summary, those who like only hindi film music may not like to pay such a hefty subscription fee for just 2 channels, especially if you can listen to sth like Mumbai FM. I listen to only hindi film music but i still got the subscription because i love music very much. Those who like english music channels or classical music(hindustani, carnatic, devotional etc) can buy the package with their eyes closed, especially during the offer period.