Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Rahul's revenge with the Kolkata crowd - Rahul's way

I love to watch Saurav play when he is in full flow. well, who doesn't? he hasn't been at his peak form in the past few months and eventually got sacked from the team by the indian selectors. many supporters of Saurav may feel disappointed about it but the decision cannot be called too unfair. at the same time, over-criticism of Saurav is also unfair; as he was the second highest run aggregator in the previous calendar year, he scored 80 against pakistan and two fighting 90s against England under extremely difficult conditions, faced Shane Bond with a lot of steel in the recent final against New Zealand, scored a century against Zimbabwe(which only Dravid and Laxman could do) etc. he may not deserve a place in the playing eleven but he was not as horribly bad as is now being made out of him by some. but still, feeling disappointed is one thing and taking out processions, burning effigies and booing the indian cricket team is going one step too far. we indians take cricket too seriously and forget that its just a game. nobody has died even if Saurav is excluded from the team unjustifiably. so the alleged show of displeasure by (part of) the kolkata crowd in the recent ODI was in bad taste. they reportedly booed the indian fielders on the boundary lines and did not spare even the indian coach Greg Chappel. more worse was the way the kolkata pitch was prepared by the curator: he clearly wanted to show the demons in the form of the pitch to the indian batsman as a revenge for the treatment meted out to their local hero - Saurav. this might have happened for the first time in the history of cricket, where one player has taken importance over the entire team and its victories. that was shameful for everyone. but the indian team was absolutely quite about it all. Rahul infact praised the kolkata crowd before the match and did not complain anything after it. but he had his own way of replying to them - the sober style. after the mumbai match was over, rahul removed his helmet, placed it on the ground, and clapped with both the hands as a gesture to thank the mumbai crowd for their excellent support throughout. that was more gentleman-like(in contrast to what Greg did earlier and went on to deny it - how can someone respect a person like him??) and a fitting reply to the kolkata crowd's behaviour. Rahul is a thinking cricketer/person and I like him.

now that india has drawn the series by winnning the last one day match at mumbai, the media can start pouring unrestricted accolades over the champion of it all: Greg Chappell. whenever india did well in the past, nobody used to credit a big share of it to the then coach John Wright. things have changed since then, and Greg has got enough charisma and media adulation that more than 60% of the credit is always given to him. think what would have happened if india were to reach the world cup finals under him!! he might have been awarded the kingdomship of a part of our country, provided that was legal.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Changing face of the Indian Television

The recent addition of new programmes on most of the tv channels was a pleasant surprise to me...and it goes on to prove that the humanity evolves in round circles. the best time for indian television has been the 1980s, when some high quality serials(Udaan, Buniyaad, Nukkad, Yeh jo hai zindagi etc) were created by those who were passionate about their work. they believed that quality serials automatically mean sufficient amount of viewership. the equation was completely reversed during the past 5-6 years when, lower the quality of the serial, higher the moolah it was supposed to generate. past few years have seen the kind of serials which were low in quality, low on morality, low in entertainment value and low in everything else, but abundant in stupidity. these were the serials which banked on the foolishness of the audience and successfully made a mockery of the intelligence of the entire Indian TV viewership for a long period. when the makers of such dumb serials were confronted at odd occassions by a saner mind, they shamelessly hid themselves behind the silly argument of 'we give what the audiences ask for.' exactly how they measured up what the audiences wanted is a mistery today, because just one year after the release of 'Star One' channel, which boasted of reasonably good quality serials in its schedule, every other channel is going through a complete transformation today.

'Star One' swept away with most of the awards from this years' Telly Awards. what were these channels talking about when they said that its the market forces that compel them to create such crap tv shows? Today, 'Sony' is making its earning mostly through the reality shows. 'Star Plus' is banking on KBC-II and at the same time trying to think new. 'Zee' has introduced some new serials as well with nice and fresh themes, like 'Mum, Tum aur Hum', 'Kaboom', etc. 'Star One' has finally forced the others to play the game fairly: to open their eyes to the reality and return the lost respectability of the intellect of the Indian viewership. today i switch on the television not just to watch cricket and news as earlier, but also for catching up with my favourite serials. me watching soaps on the television, that was unbelievable two years ago!! here are my favourite shows on the telly:
  1. Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2005 - by far the best serial on TV today. i make the time to watch this one. ultimate pleasure to watch(or hear?) it.
  2. Siddhant - the only other tv serial that makes me feel disappointed if i were to miss it. Anuradh Prasad weaved her magic once again.
  3. The Great Indian Laughter Champions - Ehsaan Khureshi! the name itself evokes laughter!!
  4. Kaun Banega Crorepati (Dweetiya?) - whose list can miss this one out?
But most importantly, other ones are not too bad. i don't have to jump to a different channel as soon as i accidentally get to a Sony or a Star Plus or a Zee channel. i can catch up a bit of "India Idol" and "Deal ya No Deal" on Sony, "Nach Baliye" on Star One, "Mum Tum aur Hum" on Star Plus and even "Rabba Ishq Na Hove" on Zee channel. Good times are here for the TV viewers. Finally. I hope it lasts atleast another 5 years before another (inevitable?) turn around.

Know yourself: A Simple Test

i am no great believer of these kind of tests, but it is fun. Go here and answer some straight-forward questions(be honest and accurate) to get back some 'instrospectives' at the end of it, in terms of 'Big Five' personality model. For eg., i got this:

Extroversion |||||||||||| 44%
Orderliness |||||||||||||||| 68%
Emotional Stability |||||||||||||||||||| 82%
Accommodation |||||||||||| 50%
Inquisitiveness |||||||||||||||| 70%

The Big Five is currently the most accepted personality model in the scientific community. The Big Five emerged from the work of multiple independent scientists/researchers starting in the 1950s who using different techniques obtained similar results. Those results were that there are five distinct personality traits/dimensions. Here are your results on each dimension:

Extroversion results were moderately low which suggests you are reclusive, quiet, unassertive, and private.

Orderliness results were moderately high which suggests you are, at times, overly organized, neat, structured and restrained at the expense too often of flexibility, variety, spontaneity, and fun.

Emotional Stability results were high which suggests you are very relaxed, calm, secure, and optimistic.

Accommodation results were medium which suggests you are moderately kind natured, trusting, and helpful while still maintaining your own interests.

Inquisitiveness results were high which suggests you are very intellectual, curious, imaginative but possibly not very practical.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

'Harry Potter GOF' is a children's film no more

i am not sure if its good or a bad news : 'Harry Potter' movies have taken the final step with 'Goblet of Fire' for not being a fun movie for children anymore. the makers of this edition of 'Harry Potter' might have believed that the market of adult viewers is greated than that of the children. but there was no necessity to kill the beautiful(and occasionally scary), imaginative world of 'Harry Potter.' they could have opted for some other subject. infact, the rating requires that under 13 year kids be accompanied by an adult! can you believe it!! and we were thinking the potter world is the sole property of the children.
i tend to give more points to those films which have a good background score, and 'Goblet of Fire' is one among them. The background score of this edition is some degrees better than the earlier ones(including COS). but alas, the film as a whole doesn't make any impression on the viewers. when you come out of the theatre, you just remember some well shot sequences and that's all. the best one was the harry's duel with the dragon during the first task of Tri-wizard tournament.
IMO, the highlights of the book have been the following, and i was particularly excited about watching them before going to the movie:
  • Quiditch World Cup!! do i need say more!
  • The three tasks of Tri-wizard tournament, especially the first one.
  • Rita Skeeter! (she was terribly under-utilised in the movie)
  • Yule Ball(needed sophistication and grandeur; the film lacked both. there is a discotheque-style dance in the end!)
  • Ralph Fienes
Fine, agreed that the last one was not part of the book, but i was really excited to see what magic Ralph Fienes, one of my favourite actors after 'The English Patient', could put into Lord Voldemort's character. boy, did he look funny! worst thing in the movie, inarguably, was the pathetic way in which the first ever rendezvous of voldemort with the audience was handled. he was supposed to look ugly, real ugly, and was supposed to create that sickening feeling among the audience that we witnessed in the book. that's what voldemort is all about. alas, he never looked like threatening, let alone scaring the hell out of the audience. he infact looked very healthy and handsome and Ralph has just read out the lines that were given to him, that too, in his usual boring tone(not in whispers i mean). but his transformation into human form near the climax (and that of Prof. Moody to Crouch Jr ) was well shot. other well shot scenes include the arrival of two other schools for participation of Triwizard tournament and the final task in the maze before the climax.

Now for the next biggest disappointment: Quiditch world cup. it looked grand...for a moment it commanded every bit of my attention...i was just collecting myself for a real treat here...the few seconds were shot with so much grandiose! but that was it. it hardly lasted a few seconds and it was all over by then. the actual competition between the two teams is not shown. that alone was sufficient to put me off. but more importantly, the spirit of the potter book was murdered again and again through out the rest of the movie. you don't feel for harry and ron when they have a fight with each other, the role of yule ball in the personal lives of harry, ron and hermione isn't handled well, the return of voldemort doesn't terrorise you, and the usual conversations between the hogwarts students, that generally evokes so much laughter, is completely sidelined. you won't find a single emotion in the whole movie; just the special effects. the magic of potter movies is sorely lacking in the latest edition. moreover, the movie looked like being shot with extremely low budget...the usual grandeur was missing, and one got to see very ordinary costumes and rusty locations. maybe it was a conscious decision to give it a very earthy and an ancient(medieval?) look.

like all Potter movies, you ought to watch it atleast once - if only for the riveting duel with the dragon(or harry shaking a leg with parvati patil, if you are an indian). but go with very low expectations, because you are not going to find the usual 'magic' associated with the potter books, and until now, to some extent, with potter movies.

Monday, November 21, 2005

NDTV's 'Big Fight' on Khusboo issue

i find it ridiculously outrageous to find ONLY women being targeted by the people, who have so conveniently adopted 'moral policing' as their favourite pastime. NDTV 24x7 yesterday revisited the Khusboo controversy and to my delight, N.Ram(Editor of 'The Hindu') was also present. He attended the debate session in itself is a sign as to how much frustration this whole fiasco has generated in India. once again, just an expression of one's personal opinion about something has invited so much wrath from the others...just goes on to show the magnitude of intolerance among us. why should one bother so much about what someone's personal opinions about something are? what is so outrageous about a person being OK with pre-marital sex? even if it is assumed that she has crossed the line, is this the proper way to respond to it? condemning it in itself sounds very foolish(countering it is absolutely fine, everybody has got a right to present a counter-view), but what followed was completely ridiculous. more than 15 cases had been registered against her in the courts, various threats were sent and she was forced to tend an apology!! apology for what? prosecuting for what offence? now this was completely unaccebtable; you don't hijack the personal life of someone for such a silly reason. people who are doing all this should be ashamed of themselves. if you really seriously think that khusboo has committed a serious offence, then taking her to the courts should have been sufficient. why threaten her with her life, burn her effigies, take out processions against her and turn her life into hell overnight? even terrorists have relatively calm prosecutions.

isn't this all happening because all moral policing in our country is solely dedicated towards the women community and khusboo is a woman? why is the culture of our country so intricately woven only with the women community? where were the so called saviours of the culture when a school-going girl was raped by a constable on duty? but that should not affect the culture of ours because the offence was done by a male, which effectively turns it into a law-and-order problem rather than affecting the culture, and it was committed against a woman, which infact makes it cease to be even a serious law-and-order problem. where as every act of a woman is closely scrutinised with microscopes and all kinds of threats are used against those who fail to understand the rules set out for them by the 'society'. what is worse is that no political party is ready to defend her and assure her of safety(Left has just spoken in her support) and AFAIK no major organisation is supporting her(except the national women's organisation) in her present crisis.

N.Ram was right on the money when he concluded by saying that the only thing to come out of it all is the exposure of the 'intolerance' of a section of our society(he has also written a thought-provoking editorial on the same issue two days ago). as a pleasant surprise, it was a rare occasion when almost everyone finally accepted to atleast condemn the uncivilised behaviour against khusboo. except a middle-aged woman, that is; who believed that using the word 'culture' 10 times in a 15 word sentence would provide a lot of credibility to her argument(whoever said that the biggest enemy of a woman is another woman!!).

if what khusboo spoke should not have really been spoken, then the proper thing to do is to form a consensus on such matters and force the legislation to make a law barring people(or only 'women' as they would like to prefer) from airing such views. then we can collectively celebrate the ignominiousness of the entire civilisation of ours with out any discriminations.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Praising Rahul Dravid

I have been a huge admirer of Rahul Dravid since very long now, so much so that i have always counted him as the best batsman in the Test cricket arena, giving Sachin the crown only for the one-day variety of the game. But the praises showered on Rahul Dravid these days is bordering on stupidity and i see yet another making of a scape goat ableit for the far future. As soon as Sehwag takes a wicket(1st ODI vs Sri Lanka) in his very first over, Ravi Shastri comments that Rahul is 'The Right Captain' for India because Saurav had always under-utilized the part-time bowlers. Maybe true. But what makes Mr. Shastri believe that Rahul is going to use them more in his tenure as the captain? it was just the first over of the very first non-regular bowler!! why can't he wait another 2-3 years and then make the comment when he might have sufficient basis to make it? he refuses to act smarter. and so does so many others. forget about the general Indian fans and the media. Indian coach Greg Chappell just declared that 'Dravid will become the best captain for India.' why speculate? what are Dravid's achievements as a captain in his short tenure so far when compared to Pataudi, Azharauddin, or Saurav to name just a few? he may indeed surpass them all in time to come, and being an admirer of Rahul Dravid as a player as well as a person, i can only wish that he indeed does so. who won't be happy for that? but why speculate now, when he is barely in his second series as a (permanent) captain? this is not smart stuff at all. over-praising or pampering may not be undesirable, but praising for wrong and absolutely ridiculous reasons definitely is.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Flock - New kid (web browser) on the block

Flock is a FireFox based web browser with more emphasis on social networking . almost a month old, it is still in the developer preview stage, so use it only to test out its features and not as a sole web browser on your system(unless you are an adventurous type). it might crash once in a while and it has a bigger footprint on system's resources than firefox. but that is because of the following additional features:
  • Better management of Favourites - using Collections to store related web pages, Tags to label the favourite web pages and Favourites Star Button to quickly bookmark a web page(see next)
  • Direct integration with de.licio.us - removes the only limitation of de.licio.us - the time it used to take to bookmark something. you can still add tags to the bookmarks but with just a single click now. Just click the Star button near the adress bar or click the down arrow of the Star button and select "Star and Tag this page."
  • Good support for RSS feeds. Whenever you visit a webpage that contains RSS feed urls, you can switch to 'RSS View' that shows you the feeds available on that web page. Click 'Feeds' button that is displayed in the address bar to switch view.
  • Blog away from with in the browser - compose, drag-n-drop stuff and post to most popular blogging services, from the web browser itself. best thing i found is that you can manage multiple blog accounts in it. Use View->Top Bar->Blog Topbar. see the image.

  • Integrated support for flickr. If you are a flickr user, then you can share photos using a flickr account from within the Flock web browser using View->Top Bar->flickr photos.

Currently it doesn't import anything from existing web browsers(Firefox, IE on windows), but may support it in the future. still at a very nascent stage, might offer a good alternative to the existing web browsers in the future. to keep a tab on the development of Flock, go here.

Most of the rest of the things are similar to Firefox - you can download new themes and extensions if you don't like the default look etc. If you use de.licio.us, flickr and blogging a lot, then you must check out Flock(btw, there is a lot of hype going around regarding this web browser...claimed as the next 'big' revolution on the internet...don't give in to that...just see what conviniences it provides to you and whether you would buy them or not). Some links should help:

Remote control Winamp from your mobile phone

i had long wished to test out the application Bemused which allows one to control the Winamp media player remotely using one's mobile device(atleast series 60 and UIQ devices, see below). yesterday i did it. except the connection part, everything else is a breeze on windows. the server provided for gnu/linux OS, which controls the XMMS media player, did not compile on my system - will give it another try sometime.

here is how bemused can be used for Windows OS. first download the entire package from sourceforge.net for your preferred platform. the package contains a README file with detailed instructions about how to use it.

this is what i did to get it working on my Nokia 3660 mobile phone. i first installed the bemused.sis file on the mobile device using Nokia PC Suite. this is the bemused client that runs on the mobile device and sends requests to the PC. then i executed the BemusedServer.exe file on Windows OS(which is the bemused server and needs to be executed on the PC to recieve the instructions from the client running on the mobile phone). entered some basic info in the startup wizard, like the location of songs on my hard disk, location of the Winamp executable and the COM port to listen on for the incoming requests from the bemused client. after entering this information(COM port can be left blank for now, if it is not known), a new .ini file was created in the current directory with all the information stored in it.
in the main window, i first tried auto detection of the COM port(by clicking 'Find') but it failed. I knew COM4 is used to establish a connection between my 3660 and the PC Suite, so i tried that next. i got the error that the COM port is already in use. I then tried with the next COM port available - COM5. the server successfully bound to COM5 and started listening on it. now i needed to connect to COM5 from the bemused client on my mobile device.

from the mobile device, i launched the bemused client, which has the icon of a musical note, and selected Options->Refresh List. I got the error that "maximum bluetooth connections are already in use." after a lot of attempts using trial and error, i got it working this way. the mobile device for some reason was allowing only one bluetooth connection, and that was already in use with Nokia PC Suite. so i closed PC Suite, disconnected the mobile phone from COM4(using the bluetooth driver interface), tried to access the server from the mobile phone, and noted down the COM port on which it is sending the requests. my bluetooth driver interface flashed a message saying "connection request recieved on COM7." so i closed the bemused server, closed the bemused client on the mobile device, restarted the bemused server, bound it to COM7 this time, and finally, started the bemused client on 3660. the client got connected to the server, downloaded the playlist and was ready to be used as 'remote control' for the Winamp player. when i played some songs, the player was automatically started on my PC by the server and i could see all the albums and their songs on my 3660. the interface looks nice and is very easy to use( additional skins are available through author's website or - google). how to bind to a specific COM port depends on bluetooth adapter in use and instructions are present in the README file for WIDCOMM drivers. here are some pics to give you more idea.

Bemused started as a way to remotely control the Winamp media player, but today it is a general client-server framework to control many applications. you can see some examples on the author's website. It has also been ported to many mobile device architectures: google 'bemused' for your architecture to see if your mobile device is supported or not (yet). For gnu/linux users, this article might be helpful(note:most of the links on the page are broken).

Monday, November 14, 2005

Mini Anthikad-Chibber's take on "Me, Meera"

Mini Anthikad-Chibber writes about the short film(59 mins) Me, Meera in the daily paper 'The Hindu.' I had earlier written that it is one of my favourite short films so far. Mini sees it as "random thoughts of a hyderabadi jotted down that has taken a celluloid shape." very true indeed. it never aspires to be extra-vagant, yet it leaves a strong impression on you by the time the film comes to an end. Mini writes about the journey taken by Meera, the main protagonist in the film, thus: "As she walks, landmarks appear and there is Meera's take on stuff that is intrinsically hyderabadi - from the Irani cafes to Best Book Center, pubs and Charminar to the hoardings, fairness cream ads to Babukhan Estates and the countless malls." She can remember quite a few things from the movie! She adds, "There is an amusing encounter with a poet at an Irani cafe and another with a Romeo at the MMTS station." The "amusing" encounter with the poet was the only thing that seemed a bit overstretched in time in my opinion but it ends thus:

Meera: paanch hi minute mein pyaar hogaya mujhse?
Poet: paanch minute mein nahin hua to woh pyar kaisa?

and at the MMTS:
Meera to the Romeo: If you want to ask a lady out, then ask. Don't stare.

regarding the pretty long 59 mins of time for a short movie, subhakar(director of the film) says "I just made the film without an eye on festivals. I look the film as a first scratch, like my portfolio." i like the honesty about his film making. The movie was said to be shot in over 100 locations, 10 youngsters helping him out and with a budget of Rs.85,000(~USD 2000). Any die-hard hyderabadi fan ought to see this movie - given any chance comes their way to watch it.

Update: Mr. Subhakar corrects me that "Mini" is 'she' and not 'he'. thanks to him :)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Funny Field Placement for Dhoni

This is the field placement that is suggested by 'Sportstar' sports magazine of India for Mahendra Singh Dhoni. After the blistering 183* against sri lanka with 10 cracking sixes, the suggestion doesn't just look apt but also sensible - why waste the fielders inside the boundary line when he is able hit the ball out of the ground at his will? As Sportstar puts it, "The better thing for them[fielders] would be to relax on their lounge chairs outside the boundary and wave a white flag."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Launch of 'The National Portal of India'

Thiru. Dayanidhi Maran, Hon'ble Minister of India, officially launched the national portal of India - india.gov.in at 3:00 pm today and dedicated it to the citizens of India.

It is needlessly heavy in the use of the images, but has got some good content in it and is way better than the other (indian) government related websites that i have seen. for example, navigation is extremely good and no part of the webiste (that i have come across) is broken. except for the home page, the other pages are light on the bandwidth. hope the website is maintained well and doesn't remain the same as it's created for all its life.

From the website : "This is the National Portal of the India, developed with an objective to enable a single window access to information and services being provided by the various Indian Government entities."

PCQuest talks to legal expert: Gaurav Sabnis vs IIPM

PCQuest talked to Rodney D Ryder, who leads a full service law firm called Preconcept which specializes in technology and media laws, about the recent notices sent by IIPM to Gaurav Sabnis, an indian blogger. The entire interview is published in the November 2005 edition of PCQuest and is up for the grabs in the market.

Rodney expressed his surprise on more than one occassion regarding the kind of legal notice that was sent to Gaurav Sabnis, apart from shedding more light on the various options that are at the disposal of both IIPM as well as Gaurav Sabnis to take the matter forward legally.

Some excerpts from the interview:
Rodnet has to say this, "At the outset, one must confess sheer and utter bafflement at the notice. As a legal notice, it is unclear in making out the case against either the Blogger or his employer..." and regarding the 'arrest warrants' in the legal notice, he said, "...the legal notice is quite baffling!...It is essential that the grounds for a potential complaint or suit be made out. Libel, as it might be, would not lead to arrest"

regarding the claim 'we are also providing your details to various corporations within India and abroad', he said, "Another mystifying and bamboozling statement! Why should they do this?" he also added that "'notarized and legally ratified' through Google and blogspot[in the legal notice] makes no sense." When asked about the liability of a blogger, a forum or wiki in such matters, he clarified, "Merely pointing or linking would not invite liability, except contributory liability, which in this case is far fetched, but comments if not carefully worded could be construed as libel and invite legal action"

When i just thought that the entire media is just waiting for something to happen before commenting anything about the ongoing 'war' of principles, PCQuest has done a good job by trying to atleast get clear about some legal issues. To read the full interview, grab the November issue of PCQuest and turn to page 62. i wish PCQuest makes the interview publicly available to everyone on their website. Another technology magazine, Digit, has also published a news item regarding the same controversy.

Inquisitor Search: an AJAX-style web application

If you liked the suggestions from Google Suggest, then you must check this out: Inquisitor Instant Search. Try searching for ipod in both of them to see the difference. Inquisitor is defined as "an instant search technology that takes the waiting out of searching the web. It is an AJAX-style web application that retrieves web results and suggestions as-you-type."

If you are a Mac-Tiger user, then there is a plugin for the safari web browser. You need to contribute something to download it. As with Google Suggest, this is also a beta software as of now.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Why Gaurav Sabnis had to quit the job?

its more than a month now, but the drama(Gaurav Sabnis vs IIPM) refuses to die down. better late than never and whoever thinks that grave injustice has been done to Gaurav Sabnis for no fault of his should put a word of support for him in his/her blog/website/whatever. here is my two cent's worth.

i had only one complaint all through this controversy: why did Gaurav Sabnis has to quit his job?

even if it may be argued that IIPM has every right to defend its reputation, or that claims made by Gaurav Sabnis are completely untrue, still influencing him to quit from his job crosses all the boundaries of decency. If Gaurav's claims are untrue, then its _only_ JAMMAG writer who needs to be taken to the court and tried, because Gaurav has only done the job of quoting them and did not offer any new or material facts. Even otherwise, how proper was the act of emotional black-mailing the IBM mgmt by the IIPM and of bullying Gaurav endlessly, which finally resulted in Gaurav quitting his job? why didn't IIPM follow the legal procedures respecting the law of the land and take proper action against JAMMAG and Gaurav Sabnis without resorting to goonda-ism through their students and threats? IIPM has lost every bit of respect in my eyes by acting like power hooligans who have no decency to follow the customs of the land. when educators from the so called premiere institutes of india display such examples of arm-twisting to meet their ends, what can we expect from the uneducated lot?
i am surprised at how this injustice done to Gaurav has largely gone unnoticed and unopposed by the mainstream media in India and the blogging community of non-indians around the world. Still, it has not gone completely unnoticed; today the ripples could be traced in a large section of the blogging community:

if someone can respect an institution which sends a legal notice of this kind, then i have serious reservations regarding the mental stability of such a person.

Opera Mini doesn't like Internet sharing

Opera Mini, which was recently released in only a few countries, has another shortcoming: you can not use it on a mobile device that is sharing an internet connection with a PC. all Opera browsers work only with GPRS access points and not with the access points that are created using a shared bluetooth connection with the PC's.

though the world-wide release of the software is due before the end of this year, those who just can't wait getting their hands to it are getting the unofficial opera Mini jar files that are uploaded to the internet from the Nordic countries, so just do a google search for such files, and test them out, if you too can't wait for the official release. they may or may not work with your device.

or become a member of the Opera community(registration is free) and then you can download the software from anywhere in the world by logging in and going to http://mini.opera.com/my. remember, you need to do this from a mobile device which has internet access other than through a WAP gateway.

MINIX in its new avatar: MINIX 3

remember the famous tussle between Andrew Tanenbaum and Linus Torvalds that was later archived on various websites going by its popularity? their respective operating systems became the central points of discussion during that exchange of emails. Andrew Tanenbaum has always been recluctant to add any new feature to his operating system, MINIX, which would add unnecessary complexity to it from the student's point of view. He wanted MINIX to be used for educational purposes only - so kept it small and tidy. If Tanenbaum had allowed for major changes in MINIX according to the requests of innumerable MINIX fans, it just might have been in the shoes of gnu/linux today. But Tanenbaum achieved his goal with MINIX - a generation of students have gained the knowledge of designing operating systems and implementing them by looking at the code of MINIX and doing slight modifications to it. Tanenbaum's Operating Systems - Design and Implementation book acted as documentation for MINIX for a long period now. But lately, Tanenbaum has different plans for his extremely popular operating system in its 3rd version: MINIX 3.

In Tanenbaum's own words, "MINIX 1 and 2 were intended as teaching tools; MINIX 3 adds the new goal of being usable as a serious system on resource-limited and embedded computers and for applications requiring high reliability." What more, it is available as a Live CD!! download the iso file, burn it on a cd-rom and boot into MINIX directly from the cd-rom - no installation to hard disk is needed. The best thing about the MINIX operating system is that its extremely well designed and it is the perfect example where academics meet the real world. Linux is a 'practical' OS, which means it works like a dream on a lot of architechtures with good stability and security; but the internal design of the kernel is not something to boast about - its less modular than it could have been. in the first version it was almost monolithic - and its moving towards more and more modular design since then. the design of MINIX has always been close to perfection and its also very stable and secure. But MINIX currently is only a kernel that supports only i386 architecture - lots of drivers and applications are yet to be created with support for multiple architectures. but don't compare it with gnu/linux, which is a complete operating system for desktops and servers etc. MINIX is supposed to be used on embedded systems, so it is better compared to linux kernel plus some additional programs.

the official minix mailing list comp.os.minix is buzzing with lots of activity - so that is the place to be at if you want more updated information. Download the Live CD from here. the website is here.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Opera Mini: Free Web Browser for mobile devices

In one of my previous posts i have noted about lack of good, free web browsers for the mobile devices. Opera has come up with a new version of web browser that is specifically meant for the mobile devices which have difficulty in installing its 'Opera 8 for Mobile' web browser : Opera Mini. The installation of this browser can be done only through a mobile device(cannot be downloaded from the PCs) by browsing to http://mini.opera.com/ from the mobile device. It is absolutely free to use and runs on any mobile device that supports J2ME. Do note that the software is currently in its beta stage. More questions are answered here.

This would raise some eyebrows:
"Opera Mini will keep a record of your phone number, make, and model for use with maintaining your history, cache and cookies."

To understand it fully, we need to understand how Opera mini works. With this web browser, whenever a request is sent to some web site, the request is first recieved by an intermediary server. This intermedairy server then sends the request to the actual web site, gets the response, proecesses it such that it can be rendered properly on a small screen and then sends it to the mobile device. The obvious advantage is that navigating through the web pages will now be more convenient - the pages are specially customized to be rendered on the mobile devices. On the downside, response time may increase because of the overhead at the intermediary server. And ofcourse the privacy concern noted above; no idea how Opera plans to use the data collected from our mobile phones and archived at the intermediary server.

You may also be interested in Opera Accelerator which aims at increasing the browsing speeds (using an intermediary proxy server that does caching etc) on mobile devices and can be installed from the Opera browsers by going to www.opera.com/proxy for a 14-day trial .

Friday, November 04, 2005

New, improved Google Desktop (Search)

The Google Desktop Search tool is in its new avatar as Google Desktop 2. See all the features. Download it from here(also contains a quick summary of its features).

If you are not satisfied with the available number of features then try the plugins from here. If none of the plugins meets your needs, then don't panic - perhaps others also are feeling the same kind of requirement and someone may come up with their own plugin that does the job. Yes, good news for the developers is that writing plugins for the Google Desktop is now possible with the Google Desktop SDK.

If you want to install it on a network, then the Enterprise edition may suit you better. It is completely free.

Log into multiple wireless networks

If the need comes to be able to log into multiple wireless networks(places where multiple hotspots could be found), then use this still-under-development Virtual Wi-Fi software from who else but Microsoft:
My primary interest in this software is that it is from Microsoft and it is Open Source!! In the past one year, there have been many open source programs from Microsoft or Microsoft employees, some of which are even hosted on SourceForge.net - world's biggest repository of Open Source software. See this for an example.

Clocky is a hide-n-seek alarm clock

More Pics

Just today i came across this piece of information about an alarm clock that is designed by Gauri Nanda from MIT, U.S., who has become a minor celebrity after her work won the Ig Noble. Her creation Clocky is a shag covered alarm clock that runs away from you so you can't shut off the alarm and go back to sleep!! Hit its snooze button to shut it off and it waltzes away to find a hiding place - from which it continues to ring shrilly till you get out of bed. It is programmed to choose different hiding places each time the snooze button is pressed. According to the creator, she "wanted Clocky to be a troublesome pet that you love anyway."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Moon on your desktop

If you ever wished to look at the only moon of this planet more closely, then help is on offer: World Wind.
And here is the news release.

The software lets you view lots of other things as well, but the data pertaining to Moon is the most interesting. We have already seen Google Maps and Google Earth for others.
You need .NET framework and DirectX installed on your system(gnu/linux version will be released only by january, 2006).

Windows Live is for real

Just weeks after the reports that Google has shelved the project to create an online office suite application, Windows has announced the beta release of Windows Live that can be initially accessed for free at live.com. Also, Microsoft Office can now be accessed from just a web browser, without any installation or maintanence hassles.

If you got impressed with all the dragging/dropping and minimizing/closing of different boxes on live.com site, then don't worry: you can create a similar website with much ease by using ASP.NET 2.0. Just wait for the hosting providers to start supporting it and until then, just be ready for it by getting your hands dirty with some ASP.NET 2.0 code or read some articles on the topic here: Code Project and MSDN Magazine.