Thursday, February 28, 2008

FreeBSD 7.0 Released. 15% better than Linux

The world knows quite a lot about Linux, but before Linux there was a branch from AT&T Unix called the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD). After a lot of bsd changes to the code, we have something which is completely free and its called the FreeBSD. Unlike Unix which is proprietary FreeBSD is free in terms of money as well as source-code.

Today, the FreeBSD team announced the availability of version 7.0. It is the stable build of the kernel and contains a host of improvements in performance, security and has a lot of bug fixes. According to the release notes, the performance in multiprocessor systems has increased dramatically and when compared to Linux performs about 15% better. This means that compared to previous versions of FreeBSD, the performance is even greater since Linux performed better than FreeBSD previously.

Scheduler, Filesystem and Networking have all been improved in this release. You can download from FTP here or through Bittorrent here.


For a complete list of new features and known problems, please see the online release notes and errata list, available at:

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Google doesn't want Microsoft's OOXML to be standard

Google has been bashing Microsoft quite a bit these days. A few days back it was with the Yahoo bid and today its about Microsoft's request to ISO to make OOXML format a standard. For people who haven't heard about OOXML (Office Open XML), its Microsoft's new XML-based format used across Microsoft Office 2007 which replaces Microsoft's earlier binary format. Microsoft has been trying to make OOXML as a standard through ISO, but last time the draft text was not approved by the ISO committee and Microsoft has resubmitted the draft.

Google at its blog mentions that ODF (Open Document Format) is already a standard and Google supports this format. ODF is used across a host of products including Open Office, KOffice, IBM Lotus Symphony and Google Docs but is not supported in Microsoft Office 2007. IBM has shown open criticism earlier regarding OOXML and is very much behind ODF. Sun Microsystems originally developed the ODF format and has also been lobbying against OOXML or transition from OOXML to ODF. The deadline for the vote from the ISO members for making OOXML as a standard is March 30th and Google hopes there is unification of OOXML to ODF.

There are also others who are running a campaign against OOXML becoming a standard. These people have mentioned various problems with OOXML and have been lobbying that ODF should be the standard for documents. Even Microsoft somewhat agreed that there are problems with OOXML, but thinks those can be resolved. Microsoft could easily add a filter to add ODF documents and still keep the docx as default and end the matter. I know Microsoft can lobby and make OOXML, but it would be better for everyone, if Microsoft added ODF to Office 2007 SP2.

NewsPond - A Sleek Looking Techmeme + Digg

I'm not a big fan of bling and show, but sometimes some things make you realize that "sleek" feels great. A few days back I came across a website Newspond, which is an automated news engine like Techmeme, but with a lot more oomph attached to it. Infact, I have to say that I'm completely in awe with the design of the website and every edge looks well polished.

Now before you think that I have been paid to talk good about these guys, let me assure you that is not the case. I will first talk about the bad things I've seen at the web site. I have seen some downsides with the news aggregator algorithm that they seem to use. Some news just come above others because of the comments and hence you can actually write spam comments and get the stories higher. Even the indexing of the websites from which stories are shown is not very fast and generally stories take some time to appear at Newspond. May be I am comparing it with here, but techmeme is a river and this is a pond right ??

But when you consider the look and feel of the website, you tend to forget if the stories appear a little late. Chan Karunamuni needs to be applauded for the brilliant design that he has done on the website. His portfolio shows some of his previous designs and speaks of his skills with the bling. The animations with javascript are great and you can turn off the animations if you are on a low-end computer. Ian Reardon, the other founder of the website has also done a good job with the stories that automatically appear on the website. All the digg-like code where users can comment on stories and give their own views is also good work from Ian.

In the world of Web 2.0 where people share stories, talk about other people's stories on their own blogs, finding different views on a story can be very useful. That's what Web 2.0 is all about. Newspond truly gives you a gorgeous view of the entire blogosphere (as a pond)...

Microsoft to Release IE8 Beta at MIX '08

Microsoft will be releasing the latest beta build of Internet Explorer 8 for everyone to download during the MIX conference 2008 which will be held at Las Vegas. There are also a number of security improvements to IE8 and it should be interesting to download the first builds to get a flavour of IE8. The release date of IE8 IEis not yet known, but its expected to be out sometime before SP2 for Vista. IE8 also contains a lot of different modes of operations due to compatibility  starting on March 5th. Internet Explorer 8 has been under heavy development and Microsoft seems all set to bring improvements to its ill-famed browser. Microsoft developers have been talking a lot about all the development around IE8 in the team's blog.

IE8 also passed the ACID test for web browser standard compliance and hence will be the first version of Internet Explorer which is standards complaintreason with previous versions. Since previous versions of IE weren't standards complaint, a number of changes have been made in IE8 to make it adhere to the standards. This may result in breaking sites which already work well with older versions of IE. This is primarily the reason why the IE8 team wants web developers to start testing IE8 and hence is releasing early beta builds to the public.

Internet Explorer 8 is an important release for Microsoft because it has received stiff competition for the first time in terms of the number of web users from other browsers like Firefox, Opera and Safari. IE still holds the highest number of users for a web browser, but the people who dislike IE has grown quite a bit in the past few years. Firefox has also matured into a real competition for IE and for the first time has crossed more than 25% of web users. Microsoft wants Internet Explorer to be back with a bang in IE8, a product which Microsoft had forgotten after IE6.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Intel To Release Hex-Core Processors

According to Maureen O'Gara from, it seems that Intel is all set to release a processor with Six cores. Yes, you heard me right...six. I think Intel understands that if AMD can start making tri-cores then may be six cores isn't a very bad idea.

The six core or hexacore processor goes by the codename "Dunnington" and has been designed at the Intel Design Center at Bangalore. It is a successor to the Harpertown processors of the Xeon-line of server processors from Intel. It is again supposed to be a sandwich of 3-dies, but this time its 3 dual-core processors that have been stitched together. The cores are sharing a 16MB L3 cache. Like other Penryns, Dunnington still uses a front-side bus. Dunnington is supposed to come at different clock speeds, with a total power consumption of less than 120W.

Intel will be releasing these just before the Nehalem are out and should be an interesting development. AMD on the other hand is just struggling with speed of the processors as well as the manufacturing and releasing of its products. Intel seems to be double of whatever AMD wants to do. AMD Tricore Vs Intel HexaCore.

Monday, February 18, 2008

AMD Releases Browser & Media Player

AMD which is known for making processors has released a set of software tools for its Live platform. The AMD Live is the product package from AMD to sell multimedia computers with software that can enable you to bring the computer to the living room. Intel also has a similar product and is called the ViiV. Don't they rhyme well!!

Today, AMD released a new piece of software known as AMD Live Explorer which is a software package built over Vista components. AMD will be shipping it free of cost along with its CPUs and Live machines. AMD recommends Phenom processors, but I'm sure you just need an AMD Live PC.

ALE Photo and Vid Window

The AMD Live Explorer is a software suite with Image gallery,  Web browsing (using IE7 engine), Audio player (using WMP 11) and TV viewing. AMD Live Explorer is actually a UI over the Vista software components. I liked the look of the interface overall, especially the 3D video (just like the NorthFace demo which Microsoft had shown before Vista launch) and the video rendering was pretty good. It is in the beta testing and hence AMD asks users to give feedback for the software.

Download the beta of AMD Live Explorer from here.

Download the demo video which AMD created.

Google Already Does What Wikia's Trying - Social Search

It wasn't all that long back when everyone was disappointed with Wikia's launch of alpha search. With Wikia Search everyone was expecting it be a Google killer from day one and the disappointment was made very public by a lot of tech bloggers. At that time, I thought that it was a little harsh of everyone to be criticizing something so "alpha". But I guess the Web is now v2.0, its growing rather rapidly and people can't wait for social evolutions any more.

Give Social Search Some Time

Wikia Search is about social searching where people search for a specific keyword, follow links, vote for good search results and the contribute a small relevant mini-article. Darwin realized it long back that evolution is slow and made the world know about it. Social evolutions in behaviour patterns are even slower... Then why in the world would anyone think social search will start working from day one?? The success of social networking in the last 2-3 years may be the primary reason where people have started to expect faster growth from social phenomena on the web. But the reason for success was that people did not change their behaviour. They just got a completely new experience since social networking didn't exist earlier.

Search on the other hand already exists and people are behaviorally already accustomed to using algorithmic search. Better web users can already think of good keywords and get their results google'd (since that's a verb these days). So really, Wikia or for that matter social search will take its own time to grow. And if I were to predict, after it matures it'll be better than algorithmic search.

Google understands Social Search

I performed 3 tests over a period of a 30 days and have come to the conclusion that Google performs Social Search, but seems to be a little confused on how much priority it needs to give to social valuations.

Test 1 (Google Reader & Feedburner): I created 6 blogs with the same content and kept posting and pinging the Google BlogSearch equally. Each blog was updated daily at the same time from the same location. But I subscribed different users to the feeds differently using feedburner and google reader. Initially without any feed subscribers, all the blogs would randomly appear above/below each other for a week. After a week, with different number of subscribers, I found that Google would display that blog first which has more number of feed subscribers. Thus Google very well knows which blogs have more subscribers and displays those in the result higher than the others.

Test 2 (Search Result Clicking): This was a weird one to detect. I found that sites which are clicked more in the results got the better ranking in the future. But this was not a general higher ranking in the search results. I observed that it was only limited to that IP subnet where the clicks were made. It meant that Google was able to understand which sites the user visits and hence brings it above others in the search results.

Test 3 (Orkut & GTalk Contacts): Google's social networking site Orkut was my next target. Considering orkut scraps and communities weren't part of Google's index, I didnt think they would have any effect, but I was surprised!! I couldn't spam a lot of friends with the blog links, but I did some in communities which had foolish admin's accepting me as a member. I spammed about 200 communities with the blog links and found a change in the search results. These weren't as straightforward and sometimes the higher ranking would be lost and would come back again at times. But there were more times when pages with orkut links ranked higher.

When I did similar spams with Gtalk contact though none of sites changed. They were still random in the results.

Random Observations:

  • Blogger/Blogspot sites ranked higher: Initially I didn't realize this, but later found out about 2 weeks into the testing that Google was ranking blogger/blogspot sites higher in the results. It was surprising at first, but then I found out that Blogspot's subdomain had a higher ranking. Other blogs that are subdomained to good domains also had a similar effect. The conclusion I reached is that Google seems to be checking the domain name first and then its content. Even if the subdomain name was more apt to the search keyword, Google cared more about the domain name.
  • Knol could be the missing link: I have not tested Knol yet, but it could be the primary decision maker for the Google's engine on social search. Knol articles and the links it mentions could be more valuable because Google has stated that Knol articles are expected to come from experts on any given subject.
  • Gmail could also be used: I tried sending lots of emails (16000 in all) with blog links. None of it had an effect :( I think Google could use it very effectively to improve search results. But I guess there could be some privacy concerns with that happening, although Google already has the rights to index our emails in the EULA for Gmail.

The tests are completely my own observations and are limited in resources (6 blogs) and time (30 days). But they give us a slight indication that Google may be social searching already. How much they rely on it is completely unknown and will be unknown forever... Google already knows so much about society on the Internet that they are probably the only company (with enough resources) that can accelerate social search and implement it successfully today!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Google Adds Malware Protection to Firefox 3

The latest beta of the upcoming Firefox 3 comes with a new feature known as "Malware Protection". The feature warns users when they arrive at sites that are known to install malwares like virus, trojans, spyware or other malicious code. This feature is supposed to be part of the final release of Firefox to be released in the next few months.

Firefox is able to tell you that the page is malicious by looking at a database provided by Google similar to the current implementation of phishing filter in Firefox 2. Google maintains a list of sites that are known to have installed malware. Whenever you visit a website, the address is checked if its par of the list which Google updates regularly. If it matches with a malicious site on that list, Firefox displays a warning and you can be taken back to your homepage.


I guess with the feature on, Google does know what sites you are visiting regularly and which sites you like... Google does not know any info on which sites you are visiting and by default Firefox downloads a list from Google and crosschecks!! May be they can show relevant ads to you based on this data... But you know, I'm just speculating... And does it even matter if Google knows that info?? THEY DON'T DO EVIL!!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Microsoft To Show Blockbuster Movie At Server 2008 & VS2008 Launch

The launch of Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 & SQL Server 2008 is upon us. Microsoft has just RTM'd these products and is ready to launch them across the world. Microsoft is celebrating the launch of these products in Bangalore, Mumbai & Delhi. Register today. You can also get a sneak peak on what's new in Windows Server 2008 by registering for live Webcasts.

Microsoft is doing the launch events at movie theatres in all these cities and it will be full day event. Look at the following screenshot for the event agenda:


I hope the blockbuster movie is something among the new Hollywood movies and not some viral Microsoft marketing video. Also it should not be the Bill Gates's last day at office video that they recently showed.

Register for MySQL Roadshow India 2008

If you are one of the developers who use MySQL, then this is your chance to meet fellow devs. MySQL is organizing a Roadshow across 4 Indian cities in Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai.

During week 8, MySQL AB will conduct free MySQL Seminars in four cities in India:
February 18, Chennai
February 19, Bangalore
February 20, Hyderabad
February 21, Mumbai

Learn more about these events and register:

I'll be attending the roadshow in Mumbai. Hopefully, we can meet up and discuss some tech!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Download drivers to make Asus EEE PC on 1024x768

Anyone who has used the Asus EEE PC will know that the 7" screen does get small at times. During those times, you wish you had a larger screen or sometimes you want to increase the screen resolution. The default resolution on the EEE is very small and would be great to have it increased to 1024x768. I had seen videos on youtube showing off the higher resolution, but couldn't find how to do it.

Today I found a driver which is able to increase the resolution to 1024x768. Its a Win XP driver and will scale 800×600 and 1024×768 down to the EEE PC’s native resolution. The site also specifies for the newbie how to install the driver and get the higher resolution running.

You can download the drivers here.

*Disclaimer* If your Eee breaks for some reason its not my fault TRY AND YOUR OWN RISK

Sony Ericsson to Ship Windows Mobile

Sony Ericsson which has been touting the UIQ to be the future of mobile interfaces and has been shipping it with its phones, will now be shipping phones with Windows Mobile. Sony Ericsson yesterday announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that it will ship its first Windows Mobile based device,the XPERIA X1.

The XPERIA X1 is a feature-rich PDA/Smartphone with a touch-screen interface. It has a resolution of 800x480 which is amazing because its the same resolution which 7" display UMPCs like EEPC or HCL X showcase. It also weighs just 145g. There is 400MB memory and has data standards like GPRS, EDGE, HSPA and HSUPA. It has a 3.2megapixel camera, WiFi, Bluetooth 2.0, FM Radio, aGPS. Another useful feature is the QWERTY keyboard that can slide from the bottom of the phone.

x1 x1slide

Other than Windows Mobile, another difference that Sony Ericsson has done to this device is that it requires the MicroSD card for external memory unlike Sony's MS or M2 card. So with the XPERIA X1, Sony does want to change a lot of things. The iPhone has been very popular and successful in the PDA/Smartphone market and if you look at the demo video below, you'll see some excellent UI.

The press release from Sony Ericsson is here:

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Google Reader Has Slowed Down

I love using Google Reader. I think its one of the best RSS aggregator service out there and its got a pretty good interface. But lately I have seen it slow down quite a bit. Earlier I used Google Reader to get updates from my favourite websites, but now its as slow as 6 hrs to show the update. So, is better to go to my favourite site and get the update by manually looking through it.

And this slow down is not just experienced by me. I found out this blog, and he seems to have the same problem of slow updates to Google Reader. Before I read that blog, I was thinking that the feeds on the site wasn't updating itself as fast as Google Reader may be looking through them, but then I realized its not that. I also use Live Feeds in Mozilla or MyBlogLog or Techmeme and they seem to update it in a few minutes time. So, its a definite problem with Google Reader.

Something similar was experience a few months back with which was not able to display the updates to a blog in time. They faced a lot of criticism from the blogosphere then. The developers from Wordpress even replaced their updates and incoming links on the dashboard from technorati to Google Blogsearch back then. Google's indexing through blogsearch is pretty fast and obviously they have the resources to fix this problem, but I think such things should not even happen at Google. And the biggest surprise to me is that even with so many tech bloggers using Google Reader as a service, not many people are talking about it!!

Friday, February 8, 2008

NetBeans 6.0.1 Released

A bugfix update has been released for NetBeans known as the netBeans 6.0.1. It resolves a few bugs in the netBeans 6 final released about 3 months back. nb-logo

The entire list of fixes can be found here. The latest of GlassFish v2 UR1 is also part of netBeans 6.0.1

You can download the latest release from here.

Yahoo Launches Web Streaming Service

Yahoo amidst making a decision to sell itself or save itself launched a live video streaming service for users called Yahoo Live. It is similar to other live video YLiveblogging websites like and Blogtv. Its like you broadcast your own live tv channel. Registered users create these channels and allow people to see what they are doing.

The service is still very much in its infancy and has been down at times. Since the website is already telling that there are 2134+ people watching 89+ live channels, its understood that there is quite a bit of load on it very quickly.

And that may be the reason yahoo hasn't made much fanfare about the launch of this service. Bradley Horowitz, who is the head of Technology Development Group At Yahoo just mentions a single line on his blog.


Yahoo Live also has put up an API where users can use the service and get content out on other places. The Yahoo Developer Blog talks more about the API and lists the following as some of the API features:

  • Find out who's broadcasting right now
  • Get data about past broadcasts
  • See snapshots of past broadcasts
  • Embed live video in your blog or web page

You can also have a look at the API Docs and there is an example of how you can use it.

Microsoft's web strategy is called Live. Everything it integrates with the OS is called Live like Live Maps, Windows Live Writer, (Search) etc... Is this the omen of a Microsoft acquisition being successful and Yahoo becoming a service from Microsoft ?? Yahoo Live atleast sounds like it is!!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Google Docs Brings Form Filling

Google FormsHow many times have been online and want to ask friends, students, visitors, clients to fill out forms to get feedback?? I'm sure its a common thing to get feedback from people using forms. Google docs has released a new feature that enables users to create forms and share these forms on any webpage. You don't need to setup a database or code any form webpage. Just create the form in Google docs and share it on your page.

The big idea here is to simplify the creation of forms and collecting information instead of passing the spreadsheet across. The responses that the users give on the forms are automatically updated on your spreadsheet. There is also a Google docs iGoogle Gadget that can be used to display your recent active forms and also the responses that you have received.

After all the feedback you have received all you have to do click on the "Add Chart" button to create good look diagrams to represent the data you have collected. Nice fun to do things fast!!

Microsoft Wants Testers For Games

Microsoft is announcing to its current group of testers on Microsoft Connect that it wants people who will be able to test games from Microsoft Games Studio. And they are not just wanting hardcore gamers, but everyone and anyone who is interested in gaming. Microsoft Games Studio is looking for testers on a wide variety of plaforms like XBox 360, PC, Zunes and even mobile phones.


Microsoft's email states:

Dear Microsoft Game Studios Beta Tester,
We are gearing up for a year of great betas. To prepare for these upcoming betas we have a new survey on the beta website. Please follow this link to access the new survey: Survey. We will be using this new survey to select participants for our betas. If you do not complete this new survey, you will not be able to participate! But don't worry, the survey is quick and painless.

Remember, we are always looking for all types of game players. Whether you play once a year or every day, whether you pre-order the latest consoles or wouldn't think of paying for a game - we want feedback from you! If you know of someone who would be interested in participating in the Microsoft Game Studios Beta program, please feel free to forward this mail or direct them to:

Questions? Please contact: Microsoft Games Studios Beta Program Administrator

This is an opporunity for a lot of people who like playing games and want to make some contribution by giving their views to games in the future from Microsoft. It will also give a sneek peek on Microsoft Games. Good for guys who have a XBOX 360 Live account!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Google To Offer Free Music To Counter Baidu In China

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google will be launching a free, licensed music download service in China. China is a fast growing internet hub of the world and it is probabaly the only place where Google is not the market leader in search. In China, Baidu rules the internet search and services market and Google knows that it needs to invest some resources in order to stay in the game.

The online pirated music market is a huge one in China and Baidu has been accused to be providing links to the pirated music. Thus, Baidu users find it very easy to find music through its search engine. To counter this, Google thinks that if it can give users licensed music downloads for free, people would start using Google's services instead of Baidu.

As WSJ notes the stats, "A significant part of Baidu's success has been its music search service, which draws a sizable chunk of traffic -- at least 7% of its total -- to the site by facilitating easy access to free music. Baidu makes money by selling ads directly on its music pages."

Google plans to bring 3 global music companies in its forte to fight Baidu. Vivendi SA's Universal Music is a confirmed partner in this quest to provide free music. EMI Group Ltd. and Sony BMG Music Entertainment are also in talks and will also try to come to the Chinese market with Google. Google hasn't confirmed any of this, but it seems evident that Google will have to do something similar to fight Baidu. Google's Eric Schmidt had said during the China visit last year that Google was late in entering the Chinese market and hence it is the only place where Google is not the leader in internet search.

I completely agree that Google should be trying to get into the Chinese market, but without localized services its going to be tough for any company to enter markets like China. China still has most of its web in the Chinese language and the government also has policies that are different from other markets in the world. India on the other hand in the near future, will also be another hub of the internet world. But a market like India, where most web users understand and primarily use English as the language of communication, it is easy to target and get into. Also, Google is already the internet giant in India. But there is lot of room for more competition from Microsoft, Yahoo, Zapak (Reliance) and other companies to take a pie of the Indian internet market.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Windows Server 2008 WDK Released

Today, Microsoft released the RTM of the Windows Driver Kit (WDK) to developers and beta testers and is available for download on the Microsoft Connect website. The Windows Server 2008 RTM WDK is used to create drivers for Server 2008 as well as earlier operating systems like Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista. Microsoft advises everyone that this is the supported platform for the development and release of all production drivers.

WDK was earlier known as Windows Driver Development Kit (DDK). With the release of Windows Vista last year, Windows Driver Foundation (WDF), Installable File System Kit (IFS) were added and a separate Windows Logo Kit (WLK) was also created for signing the drivers.

A few highlights in this release are:

KMDF 1.7:

  • A new wait/wake policy for parent drivers
  • New samples
  • New Tools

UMDF 1.7:

  • Now supports Windows Server 2003 along with Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, and Windows XP
  • New debugger extensions
  • New and updated samples

WDF 1.7:

  • WDF 1.7 is native on Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista SP1
  • WDF 1.7 is completely backward compatible with WDF versions 1.0, 1.1, and 1.5


  • SDEL has been added to WDTF to make querying simpler and easier


  • SDV supports KMDF drivers in addition to WDM drivers and parallelization over rules. Now, rules will be verified in parallel.


  • PFD is enhanced with driver-specific annotations that make it an even more powerful tool.


  • USB Power Management and now more robust and stable


  • New look of the WDK documentation for Server 2008/Vista SP1
  • new docs for Viridian and Kernel Transaction Manager
  • Subset Filtering (allows you to search by technology subset such as Audio)
  • Requirements Block information for all new topics
  • Kernel Reference technical scrub and TOC restructuring

After I downloaded, the new documentation felt simpler for navigation and allows easier understanding of the process of creating drivers. This release will be useful for all the hardware vendors who will be creating the next version of the drivers using this RTM release. I'm currently trying to find some mention on creating friendlier drivers supporting virtualization for Microsoft's new Hyper-V, but its surely not in the bold-print and would be useful if someone can point it out to me!!

Opera Mobile 9.5 - Desktop Internet for Mobiles

Opera announced the commercial release of the latest version of its mobile browser Opera Mobile 9.5. Opera will be previewing this version exclusively at the Mobile World Congress 2008 that is to be held between Feb 11-14 at Barcelona, Spain.

Opera Mobile is currently shipped on more than 100 million phones around the world and Opera is expecting the OEM's will upgrade the mobile browser to version 9.5 and the reasons to do that is compelling. Opera Mobile 9.5 brings the desktop internet experience to the mobile phone through a lot of new innovations. Javascript, AJAX and Flash run on the Opera Mobile 9.5 just like it would on the desktop. If mobile handset manufacturers install Flash Lite 3 in the devices, then users would be able to experience youtube videos just like they would on the desktop. Opera Mobile 9.5 allows Web-page zooming, password management and offline browsing.

The Opera Mobile 9.5 experience includes many of the innovations found in Opera's trend-setting desktop browser including:

  • Intuitive user interface
  • Tabbed browsing
  • Improved text wrap
  • Page overview, zooming and panning
  • Landscape mode
  • Save Web page for future offline access
  • Call phone number from Web page
  • Send link as SMS/MMS
  • Send image as SMS/MMS
  • Small Screen Rendering™
  • Password manager
  • Web address input auto-completion
  • History and bookmarks
  • Copy text
  • Opera Widgets

There will be obvious comparisons of Opera Mobile 9.5 to WebKit, which is Apple's contribution to brining the desktop web experience to the mobile phone. WebKit is open-source and will be part of Google's Android platform. Currently its part of Apple iPhone's browser and Opera Mobile 9.5 has similar features to the iPhone's browser. But the good part about Opera Mobile 9.5 is that it can be installed on a wide variety of handsets and the vendors don't have to put in much efforts. Opera Mobile 9.5 also allows use of  Widgets that allow data retrieving from the internet without opening the browser. This enables a lot of different applications and new avenues for internet-based software applications on the mobile phone.

As I mentioned earlier, the Opera 9.5 SDK can help bring these features to other devices and thus opens a lot of new places for the developer. You can watch the video demo of Opera Mobile 9.5 below:

Wordpress 2.3.3 urgent release

Wordpress has released a quick security fix for its popular blogging platform. The new version Wordpress 2.3.3 is an urgent security release. According to the release announcement, a flaw was found in the XML-RPC implementation due to which it could allow a user to edit posts of other users on that blog. This is huge security issue and Wordpress has urgently requested everyone to do the upgrade to the newer version.

You can download the Wordpress 2.3.3 from here, and the upgrade instructions are here. The XML-RPC bug can be fixed by just replacing with the newer xmlrpc.php from the Wordpress 2.3.3 zip file. Other than the XML-RPC bug 3 more fixes have been done in the zip file:

  • Trac 3780 gettext fails to determine byteorder on 64bit systems with php5.2.1
  • Trac 5090 maybe_create_table call to config.php issue
  • Trac 5273 some registration emails fail in 2.3.1 b/c of "callout verification"

Another flaw exists in the WP-Forum plugin which is very popular and is used to create forums on the Wordpress platform. The announcement advises users to remove the plugin and install a newer version whenever it is released. The developer for the plugin is working hard towards releasing a fix.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Fourth Undersea Cable Cut - Conspiracy Or Doomsday

In what seems to be the next twist in the tale of events happening in the world of internet connectivity, another undersea cable has been cut after last week's 3 cable cuts in the Middle-East. According to the reports from ArabianNews, Qatar Telecom (Qtel) said on Sunday the cable was damaged between the Qatari island of Haloul and the UAE island of Das on Friday.

This fourth cable cut has affected the internet connectivity of Qatar only and UAE has been largely unaffected by this mishap. Earlier, there were suggestions and reports all around the world that the earlier cable cuts were due to the anchoring of a ship. But the latest news suggests that the place where the cable cuts had taken place is a prohibited area and ships cannot travel through that region.

Egypt's Minister of Communications issued a statement, "A marine transport committee investigated the traffic of ships in the area, 12 hours before and after the malfunction, where the cables are located to figure out the possibility of being cut by a passing vessel and found out there were no passing ships at that time,".

These confusing reports have resulted in conspiracy theories that these have been done by terrorist organizations. Some people have also suggested that the cable cuts are a way to move the attention away from the phone-tapping news in UK. Whatever be the reason, it seems extremely odd that 4 cables have been cut in a span of just 5 days. Is the doomsday for internet arriving??

Asus EEE PC Vs HCL MiLeap X

The Asus EEE PC has made its mark around the world. Yesterday I was reading Stephen Fry's blog post about it and I realized that Asus EEE PC is now a gadget for adventure. Since most people can't get the OLPC/XO (even after donating one to a child), its good to use the Asus EEE PC. I happened to be among the first to see the Asus EEE PC officially in India and it was an interesting experience although not a "Wow" one...

Asus plans to sell lots of these laptops in India and to compete in this new market of small laptops, India's largest manufacturer of hardware, HCL has released its own version of small & cheap laptops. The HCL MiLeap X Series is a direct answer to Asus's EEE PC and I happened to use one just today evening at an HCL workshop.

HCL X               ASUS_Eee

The following is a comparison able between the HCL X and the Asus EEE PC:

  HCL MiLeap X Series Asus EEE PC
Processor: Celeron-M (900 Mhz) Celeron-M (900 Mhz)
Chipset/GPU: Intel GMA 900 Intel GMA 900
RAM: 512 MB 512 MB
Display Size: 7" 7"
OS: Linux Linux
Harddisk: 2 GB SSD 4GB SSD
Weight: 1440 gms 920 gms
Price: Rs. 14000/- Rs. 18000/-

From the above comparison chart you can see that both the products have the same configuration with the difference in harddisk space and price. The 2GB on the HCL X seems a little less, but then the price is also about Rs. 4000/- less. If you will not be installing any other software other than those pre-installed, then it doesn't make much sense to have more space. Normal avi and divx works well but h.264 video stutters on both the machines. The speakers on both the machines isn't very good and hence you can't expect to load too many songs into either of the laptops. The HCL MiLeap X has slightly better trackpad compared to the EEE PC, but the Asus EEE PC had a better interface, not that the HCL UI is bad!! HCL also has been selling its laptops with Linux instead of windows for sometime now and hence Linux support from HCL has been there from the beginning.

After looking at the HCL X, I can say that its a worthy competitor and it saves a few bucks. You can always fit in your USB drive and get more space. I'm not sure about HCL's service, but in that sense Asus partners haven't done very well in its motherboards service and support. The build quality is an important criteria for ultra-mobile laptops, but I can't comment on this factor since I haven't owned any of these laptops for a considerable period of time.

Now to the conclusion: Which machine do I think is better?? Personally in my frank opinion, I don't think much of both these machines. They aren't as powerful as I would like them to be. I'm not saying that these are bad products. On the contrary, I think cheap portable computers are extremely necessary and both these machines have special capabilities and are great designs. But I would rather run a slightly more powerful machine, with a touch interface and more RAM and disk space, which does not need to be kept on the lap for typing. May be a UMPC with Origami 2.0 and Via Isaiah CPU and these features is more my type!

Windows Vista SP1 RTM'd

Finally after a lot of days, the Vista development team has announced on its blog that it is finished with the development of SP1 (Service Pack 1) and will be shortly giving it to partners and friends. The whole world will be able to get it through Windows Update and Microsoft Download Center in mid-March. So hold you horses for another month is what Microsoft means by this announcement.

If you have been following the leak, then you probably have already realize that it won't take another month to get it into your hands. The advantages that the Vista SP1 is supposed to bring is more under-the-hood in the form of stability, compatibility and performance improvements. You can read a well explained piece on what's changed with Vista SP1 on Paul Thurrot's website.

Vista SP1 is also an important update for Microsoft because quite a lot of people were holding their upgrade to Windows Vista from Windows XP until SP1 will be released. May be those people were expecting some more goodies and features like Microsoft has earlier provided with Windows XP SP2. But Unlike XP SP2, Windows Vista hasn't added new features to SP1. Even people who were expecting some Ultimate Extras to be shipping with SP1 will be in for some disappointment. Earlier Microsoft has hinted that people who bought Vista Ultimate would be provided regular Extras, but not much has been released after DreamScene, which is a animation/video desktop background.

Lets hope Microsoft will start working on some Ultimate Extras, now that they have stopped working on SP1.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

AMD gives unreleased Opteron 2352 to Isohunt (P2P servers)

AMD is about to release its bug-free quad-core processors in a few days and has been providing these unreleased processors to a few people for testing. Among the people who received these is is thanking AMD for providing it with pre-released processors for testing and has "2 pre-production engineering samples" of the Opteron 2352.

Isohunt is supposed to have installed these processors on their primary database servers and have been running them without any problems. The TLB bug which affected the previous Opteron 2350 has been a major headache for AMD and thus has caused delays in production of these chips. The Opteron 2352 runs at 2.1Ghz and has an L2 cache of 2MB.

Isohunt has been on the target of a lot of piracy talk and MPAA and RIAA have already tried their FUD stunts with these guys. Isohunt is a very busy P2P site with a lot of traffic on its torrent trackers. Thus, it seems like a nice place to test your processors in the real-world applications. AMD has given its processors to a nice place and hopefully AMD will work faster in the future.

A yahoo store is selling it at $650 at the moment (but I'm wondering how??)

The CPU Specs as listed by is as below:

Processor: 0
Vendor_id: AuthenticAMD
CPU family: 16
Model: 2
Model name: Quad-Core AMD Opteron(tm) Processor 2352
Stepping: 2
CPU Mhz: 2100.089
Cache size: 512 KB
Physical id: 0
Siblings: 4
Core id: 0
CPU Cores: 4
FPU: yes
FPU_execution: yes
CPUid level: 5
wp: yes
Flags: fpu, vme, de, pse, tsc, msr, pae, mce, cx8, apic, sep, mtrr, pge, mca, cmov, pat, pse36, clflush, mmx, fxsr, sse, sse2, ht, syscall, nx, mmxext, fxsr_opt, rdtscp, lm, 3dnowext, 3dnow, constant_tsc, pni, monitor, cx16, lahf_lm, cmp_legacy, svm, cr8_legacy
Bogomips: 4209.90
TLB size 1024 4K pages
Clflush size: 64
Cache_alignment: 64
Address sizes: 48 bits physical, 48 bits virtual
Power management: ts ttp tm stc [6] [7] [8]

Opera is truly everywhere

One important requirement in today's fast moving world is staying connected. The internet is what we today understand as the connected world and its the web-browser that is the door to connect to the internet. So, when I heard about the world's first WiMax enabled gaming device, I was anxious to know what  browser it is running. And I found out that Opera delivers the Web on world's first mobile WiMax gaming device...


The POSBRO G100 is advertised as the world's first mobile WiMax gaming device and comes with Opera installed. The G100 will start selling in Korea sometime by Q2 of this year, and is supposed to hit the US market between Q4 '08 and Q1 2009. WiMax hasn't been picked up very well and its not got very popular. Intel has been behind it for sometime now and after all the hype that was created, it tough to find WiMax networks around the globe. Intel also hasn't been able to sell its single chip solutions which was expected to be shipping with most of the Intel notebook motherboards by 2008.

Anyway, the Opera 9.5 SDK was used to deliver the browsing experience on the G100 and it just goes to show how well Opera seems to be doing with its browser in the devices market. Opera has recently been concentrating a lot on its mobile and mini browser and its popularly as "the mobile browser" is increasing by the day. Opera has also been recently opening new offices around the world and expanding its business across the globe. With the help of the Opera SDK for devices, Opera can be created on a lot of devices like car navigation systems, GPS devices, TV, set-top boxes and a host of other devices.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Detailed Images - Find the Undersea Cable that affected 75million netizens

Its been 3 days since the undersea cable between India and Middle East got cut by a ship and according to some analysts about 75 million people got affected by the cable cut. The internet speeds across India and the Middle East was slow, but I personally haven't observed any speed drops on my connection. May be the global torrents have slowed down, but downloads from http/ftp and surfing speeds have been unaffected.

A Detailed Image of Undersea Internet Cables (courtesy Guardian & Telegeography: click for a larger image)


A gist of what everyone's reporting:

The Inquirer - Middle East loses internet

DailyTech - No YouTube for You

Reuters - Internet disrupted in Egypt and India - Internet Down

The latest reports suggest that there has been a third cable cut in the Middle-East known as the Falcon. But this won't affect the current traffic which is now being temporarily redirected through the older SeaMeWe-3 cable.

Intel With Core 2 Duo At 3.3Ghz - Great Overclocker

Intel has won this round of the processor wars, but does not want to sit down and watch AMD. Instead, Intel has made up its mind that its going to continue to hammer (... pun intended) at AMD with better processors. Intel will be releasing a 45nm based Core 2 Duo working at 3.33Ghz on the codename-Wolfdale architecture in the next few weeks. Intel already has these in production and you can expect these sometime in Q2 2008.

The model number for these processors is E8600 and will have a total cache of 6MB. These processors will be manufactured on 45nm and are likely to have a TDP of 65W, which is something of an achievement considering these are 3.3Ghz processors. A 65W TDP ensures that there is enough potential for this processor to overclock and the processor won't mind a little more heat that overclocking causes.

By the looks of it, the E8600 is expected to be a good buy since Intel is pricing it lower than the quad-cores. Intel will also be releasing a few mainstream quad cores in March and hence the E8600 will have great price-performance ratio. AMD is going to struggle again to sell its Phenom Tri-Core and Quad-Core chips in Q2 with the E8600 around!!