Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Asus Doesn't Think India As A Market

While I was reading this interview at the Inquirer, I couldn't stop thinking of Asus' state of affairs here in India. The interview is with Asustek President, Jerry Shen.

Asus has no doubt been an excellent company in terms to product innovation and business growth, but there are few questions about its service to customers. Jerry Shen being outspoken doesn't bother to mince his words about other companies like Nvidia or AMD. But when he talks about those points, I think he forgets that atleast in India (and the reactions on Inq tells more) the service for Asus products hasn't been anywhere close to even "Satisfactory".

The customer troubles can be read at different forums like, etc. But if anyone is expecting any improvements in the service then read the interview again!! Jerry Shen mentions only about US, Europe and to some extent Japan and China as his markets. Although the Indian PC market is growing enormously, Asus seems to have completely ignored India as well as other Asian markets. Maybe he mentions, high-end to be his interest and India is not a high-end market. But then it somehow reflects the ignored state of Asus products and service in India.

Even after all that, Asus has the largest market share of motherboards in India. The products that Asus has in the market are wonderful and top-notch, but I wish, they didn't completely alienate the Indian consumer...

Another Ad Program To Monetize Your Blog

As much as I hate, blogging about blogging, this post is very much going to be that. I have a few friends who also have blogs and they monetize their blogs in different ways. This post may be useful to them, since I haven't heard much info around, about this new Ad Publisher Network called "ShoppingAds".

ShoppingAds comes from the same team thats behind AuctionAds. But the vital difference between the two products is that ShoppingAds is based on CPC and CTR, which means as a publisher you get paid for clicks and impressions. AuctionAds is basically an eBay Affiliate and it helps show auctions as ads onm your website.

Just recently I read here, how CPC ads earn 50 times more than Affiliate (CPA). So may be the guys at AuctionAds have understood what the publishers are looking for and they are testing this new CPC & CTR ad programme. is currently undergoing a private beta, which shows that they are still trying to understand where the money can come from. Patrick Gavin, president of AuctionAds recently mentioned that the click-through rates for CPC ads have double in the last few days and this means they are beginning to realize the success in this kindof advertising.

ShoppingAds is currently showing ads from Amazon, Dealtime and other big online retailers. It should be interesting to see if after the not-so-successful AuctionAds, will the guys at MediaWhiz make a winner!!

Only time will tell, but the business of ads is as much technical as its marketing. Along with marketing you require good technology to monitor users, calculate revenue and target ads!!

Intel Wants Developers To Program For MultiCore

Intel Organizes Seminar On Multi-Core Programming In Mumbai

I have just come back from an Intel Software Seminar Series held in Mumbai at Leela. Intel organized this seminar for developers, so that they could make a paradigm shift towards programming for Multi-Core processors. India is a major hub of software developers and Intel thinks they need to help programmers make the shift!!

A while back I had read this article on "Multi-Core Crisis" and found it as an interesting representation. Today, at the seminar, the first speaker, Vivek Venkatesh showed few slides on why there is a need for multi-core processors and how the future is going to be multi-core processors. How Intel plans to move by increasing the number of cores in the future. He made a statement that, "Youtube and multimedia require multi-core processors"... Im wondering how I watch youtube videos on my single core AthlonXP machine?? :-)) He also stressed on, "the free lunch is over" statement made by Herb Sutter.

Free Image Hosting at Free Image Hosting at

After the session was over, the Q&A session started and I put a question of how RapidMind would help realize this goal. James Reinders dismissed RapidMind's innovation as being too tough to implement in the current state, but mentioned that the idea has some promise!!

Next to come on stage, James Reinders was the main speaker at the Seminar. James has been working with Intel for 19yrs and he has been a multi-core evangelist for sometime now! It was great listening to his insights and made some very interesting points on what software developers and architects need to think when programming multi-core computers.

James mentioned 1-2-3 recommendations that developers can do today to use multi-core processors:
1.) Libraries - James mentioned that use of libraries that are written for multi-core processors are like putting your burden on someone else's shoulders.
2.) openMP - Intel was one of the main contributor to this standard and nearly every C/C++ compiler today uses it. James recommends using modern compilers like MS C Compiler and gcc that use openMP
3.) Threading Building Blocks (TBB) - This is Intel's new software to help multi-core programming by providing abstraction. James said this is an opensource software and should be used by developers who want to program. He showed example codes of how hand-made optimization for multi-core processors to Tacheon (2-D Ray Tracing) was complex and in just 17 lines of code using TBB, the work can be reduced.

He also mentioned challenges for multi-core programming:
1.) Scalability
2.) Correctness
3.) Maintainability

At the end, he talked about the 8-points that any developer must follow for multi-core programming. James wrote this for a Dr. Dobb's Journal, in the October edition. Read here...

In the concluding part before lunch, we had a quiz contest and I won a personally autographed book named "Intel - Threading Building Blocks" from James Reinders.

I also asked James Reinders about HT and Nehalem, since I knew he was one of the minds at Intel who supported Hyper-Threading (HT). He told that Core architecture wasn't benefiting much from HT and hence HT wasn't added to Core. But he told that Nehalem would be with HT enabled and would be processing 2 threads in each core. He also said that in the future Intel may go through Sun's Niagara 2 path of more threads per core, atleast in the server space.

Overall it was a nice insight into what's happening at Intel and what Intel feels about multi-core programming.

Other Photos from the event (2 other colleagues: Mandar & Namrata also attended):
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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Opera Opens Office At Silicon Valley

Opera Software, popular for its browser opened its office at Silicon Valley today. This is Opera's 2nd office in the United States. Opera has its headquarters in Oslo, Norway and is one of the most popular software company from Norway. Opera Software opened its first U.S. office in 2005 in San Diego, California. Its two U.S. offices aim to enrich the company's existing relationships in the United States while exploring new ones.

Opera has a browser everywhere starting from desktops to mobile phones and is one of those companies that has led in browser innovations. Opera's mobile web browser, Opera Mini is the most popular web browser for mobile phones and has wide industry acceptance. The silicon valley office is majorly going to push Opera Mini to a lot new customers which already includes companies like Google, Yahoo!, Adobe, Motorola, Palm, Nintendo of America, and Qualcomm.

From the press release:
To announce Opera's arrival in Silicon Valley, the browser leader has chosen a San Francisco venue, the Rickshaw Stop, to host its next product launch party. The doors will open to the "Rock Opera" event at 7 p.m. (PST) on Thursday, October 25, 2007. Guests will include Opera's partners, customers and community members as well as members of the media. For details on Rock Opera, including how to participate, visit:

The new Opera Software office is located at 700 E. El Camino Real, Suite 310, Mountain View, CA 94040. Hmmm... now the name Camino resembles another browser right?? Yes, the Mac OSX version of Firefox!! What a coincidence!!

You can read the news release here.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Intel Nehalem Will Be Socket LGA 1366

Intel is known to change sockets and platform approximately every 18 months. But LGA 775 seems to have gone longer than expected. If I'm not making a mistake then, the Pentium4 released in Q4'04 was the first LGA 775 and till date we have the LGA775. To be released next month on 11th November, Intel's new processor-Peryn will also use LGA 775 (may be some extra power requirements). This means that Intel has lasted the LGA 775 for 3 years and that's odd considering Intel's past socket changes.

But Intel's next major change to processor architecture will come in the form of the much-awaited Nehalem line of processors. The Nehalem will be released in Q4 2008 and will use a new socket 1366. That's actually the "number of dots" that connect the processor with the motherboard... The increase in the pin count is actually because of the integrated memory controller. The Integrated Memory Controller from Intel may be a copy of AMD's architecture, but Intel surely will bring lot of enhancements along. Among other things inside Nehalem, Intel also copies a point-to-point interconnect called CSI (now called QuickPath) from AMD (Hypertransport).

Nehalem will also be the first processor to support DDR3 memory and it'll be the first time that the motherboard's northbridge won't decide the memory to be used for an Intel system.

The desktop version of Nehalem will be called "Bloomfield", probably to depict the cash flowers that have bloomed in intel's field. The mobile version "Gilo" and "Becton" for server version... All will be a 45nm fabricated chip and Intel already has a few early samples and has demo'd it to people at IDF a few weeks back.

The Nehalem processor may also be the first native 8-core processor. Integrated GPU may be another reason for the increase in the pin count in Nehalem, but that's another topic altogether. The first generation of Nehalem processors which Intel demo'd at IDF did not have the integrated GPU, so when it releases in Q4 2008 don't expect it to start with an integrated GPU.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

82% of iPhone Customers Are Very Satisfied

Although the "so called geeks" have been bashing the iPhone for not having some feature or the other, people who have bought the iPhone are very satisfied with the product.

I quote from ChangeWave's website, "According to ChangeWave’s latest consumer cell phone survey, completed Oct. 2, 2007, the Apple (AAPL) iPhone has continued to enjoy solid growth while racing to a huge lead in terms of customer satisfaction."

The report mentions that 82% of all the iPhone customers surveyed replied "very satisfied" with the product. For the owners of the iPhone, obviously the looks, interface and usability is what matters more than the 3rd party applications. A lot of iPhone users I know, think that iPhone already comes in with quite a lot of applications and others who want to install 3rd party apps don't mind using jailbreak.

Although the sample size of the survey is 3,654, my personal acquaintance of iPhone users tells me that they are truly a satisfied lot. Also the report mentions about the increase in the share price of Apple after the launch of the iPhone. Thus, Apple has not just satisfied its customers with the iPhone, but also helped make itself some money as well as made its shareholders satisfied!!

Another significant success story of the iPhone is how its captured the market share very quickly. It now stands at 2% of all the cellphones sold in the last 3 months. And the loser in Apple's gain is Motorola. Although Motorola still has the largest US market share, its dropped to 30% from 31% in July 2007.

This is great news for Steve Jobs and his team at Apple, who might have imagined such success after the hype that they created for the product before launch.

Original Report Release: ChangeWave

Friday, October 19, 2007

Windows Programs Sometimes Run Faster On Linux Than XP

A popular myth among old linux users is that they need to dual-boot because their fav windows program does not work in Linux. I tell them, there's wine and cadega and they tell me the performance of these are slower than Windows... and this post is to break this myth!!

Recently, after my openSuSE 10.3 review, I asked a friend to start using Linux instead of Windows. And the old debate again came up. I opened a rar file using WinRar using Wine and even to my surprise, the file opened 5 secs faster in Linux than Windows XP (a 700Mb file ==> Windows XP took 46secs and Wine on openSuSE took 41secs)... I didnt really expect that much of a difference, but it actually did and I was pleasantly surprised. I tried another 1Gb file and there was a 6sec difference... Your results may vary, but it does say something... Doesn't it??

Not that every windows program works faster in Linux using Wine, but atleast some do. People who dont play games, can really be happy with the performance that Wine gives on Windows programs.

I found these benchmark on Wine's site. I haven't tried all those programs, but then there may be some truth to it. I'll also try the comparison on Vista and analyze the results. Don't believe me or the wine's benchmarks blindly, you'll be pleasantly amazed...

Doesn't Make Any Sense To Sell Audio On USB

Just read an article on DailyTech, that Universal Music will be selling Audio on USB drives instead of CDs. It would cost $10 to buy a single on a USB drive. I'm wondering what would be the size of these USB drives and what would be the size of the audio song...

I think there is some kind of a mistake here, since having a single on a USB drive doesn't add up to the logic of digital being small. People download mp3 and use an portable audio player with it. If you want to buy 10 popular single, you would have to carry 10 USB drives. Does it make any sense?? May be they will sell an entire album on the 512 Mb USB drive... Even then why would I not buy mp3 from iTunes at $0.99 and then load them on my iPod/any mp3 player...

The article quotes, Universal UK’s commercial director Brian Rose told The Times Online UK that, “This is aimed at the younger, 12 to 24 year olds, who no longer believe that the CD is as cool as it used to be.” Many music fans in that age group won’t be swayed to a new digital format that is more expensive and less convenient than a digital download.

Who believes that carrying a lot of luggage is cool??... and spending more money is also not cool!! Atleast not as cool as the new iPod Touch or DRM-free music from iTunes!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

iPhone SDK could open a Pandora's Box

I just received a feed notification about a blog post on Tech-Buzz, about the iPhone SDK when I remembered this post from the wired.

As soon as Steve Jobs, announced the SDK will be released for the iPhone and the iPod Touch in February, I wondered what would happen to AT&T and their exclusivity. Like I mentioned here, the iPhone with its WiFi has a very good scope in the VoIP space. I'm sure this SDK means a lot of help to the developers planning to make VoIP softwares for the iPhone.

But it's not just good news for the good developers. Its also good news for the developers on the evil-side of things... Call them hackers or whatever... these guys have done quite a lot of work on the iPhone already. The Wired article mentions about different vulnerabilities already found on the iPhone and how they can be easily exploited. As more and more softwares are developed and people start installing these, you do open a big Pandora's box. Apple has to take care about these vulnerabilities before giving away the SDK, so that the users are protected from any Virus, Snooping Programs and Trojans that the hackers SDK intends to create.

By releasing the SDK, Apple will make the iPhone/iPod Touch a good platform for apps, but before that, can we have a firmware release that does not just brick the iPhone??

Ubuntu's 3rd Birthday & 7 Reasons To Fame

Ubuntu 7.10 was released 2 days back. I have used Ubuntu since the first version and have always loved working on it. According to most online surveys on Linux, Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution. I don't completely rely on distrowatch's popularity list, but then it's a good indication of what Linux people are using when they visit distrowatch.

3 Happy Ubuntu Years

Ubuntu's first release was on 20th October 2004. Tomorrow will be Ubuntu's 3rd Birthday. Anyone who has heard Linux, knows the popularity that Ubuntu gained in a very short period of just 3 years. When it started, I remember Ubuntu to be just a fork from the Debian Team. The first released really didn't make me believe it'll be as big as it's today. But after the 2nd released and the publicity effort that was put into it, I knew it'll be the big distro in the coming years. Read about "The Ubuntu Story" for more.

We analyze a few reasons to the success of Ubuntu and think about what lies in the future for Ubuntu and open-source!!

7 Reasons For Ubuntu's Sucess

1.) Publicity: I attribute the biggest reasons for the success of Ubuntu to be it's marketing and well publicized effort. Not that Ubuntu is a good product. But even good quality stuff requires marketing, so that it atleast reaches the consumer's eye. Ubuntu's developer team as well as Mark Shuttleworth have done considerable amount of work to tell everyone about Ubuntu. Mark's money and effort has to be acknowledged in all this fame for Ubuntu.

2.) Philosophy: Ubuntu as a name is as much a philosophy as is open-source and freedom. Read here, about the interpretation of Ubuntu. The philosophy of helping the other person and the community is another very important reason for the sucess of Ubuntu. Ubuntu's philosophy is summarized in the 3 points from their own site:
  1. Every computer user should have the freedom to download, run, copy, distribute, study, share, change and improve their software for any purpose, without paying licensing fees.

  2. Every computer user should be able to use their software in the language of their choice.

  3. Every computer user should be given every opportunity to use software, even if they work under a disability.
3.) Free of cost: Another lame, but true explanation for the success of Ubuntu is it's free... and free here means you don't pay money!! You can easily think of all Linux's being free, but then we have had distros which require you to pay money. Some charge for support, some for software installation, some for the packaging. Ubuntu also has commercial support, but a strong community means you have a lot of people who want to help you solve the issues for free!!

4.) Ship It: Another important reason for the success of Ubuntu is that they ship CDs to you free of cost, anywhere around the world. Yeah, most people download it, but for the branding and logo stamped on the CD, a lot of people want it shipped. These CDs not only are good show-offs, but also are another form of publicity for Ubuntu. People who don't know the Linux world or Ubuntu, get curious when they find a CD with the nice Ubuntu logo and some nice guys/gals in a round formation... ;-)

5.) Synaptic (Apt): For people who thought Linux was tough and software installation was a pain, please use apt-get!! Installing software off the net was never so simple and apt-get is synonymous with installing anything on Ubuntu. It does all the dependency scanning and gets the packages installed on your computer. Fedora has yum, openSuSE has yast+online repositories, but there's something about apt that it requires lesser steps to install a package.

6.) Debian based: Not the most important reason, as there are host of other debain-based distros, but then being debian-based has its advantage for Ubuntu. Lot of packages are already available for debian and debain developers quite an experienced bunch of geeks.

7.) User community: The user community for Ubuntu is the strongest and it has been the case from the very beginning of the project. Somehow every Ubuntu user has spread the word of mouth and helped make Ubuntu popular. No other community of a Linux distro is as tightly-knit as Ubuntu and believe me I have seen a lot of community-driven projects over the years.

Future of Ubuntu & Open-Source Software (OSS)

For success, some luck and external factors do play an important role. Ubuntu's success is also somewhat dependent on these. Novell sponsors openSuSE while RedHat sponsors Fedora. Both have their tie-ups with proprietary software makers. Some OSS evangelist's do not approve of such relationships and thus love Ubuntu more than others.

Normally, the Ubuntu distro is released twice every year. In 2006, Ubuntu also started something called Long Term Support (LTS), which is released every 18 months. These versions are considered to be more suitable for large corporations that do not upgrade very often and require long-term support for an OS. The next LTS will be 8.04 released in April 2008.

Ubuntu is special example of OSS, because it's got popular quickly. Along with Firefox, it is probably the best success story of desktop OSS. For the future success of OSS, its important that projects like these become a success. There is quite a lot of work to be done, but Ubuntu's just started the engine... and there is a long road to success...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

2 Million Quad Core CPUs sold by Intel in Q3 '07

I'm wondering if AMD is even in the CPU competition these days? Intel just annaounced at its IDF (Intel Developer Forum) in Taiwan that it has sold 2 million chips with 4 cores!! AMD just launched Barcelona, its 4-core CPU and AMD is having problems producing enough of them. The channel does not have enough of these CPUs and only the tier I manufacturer have some of these.

2 million of these quad-cores does mean a lot of money and margin for Intel. This all goes to show that even if the quad-cores aren't native (as AMD says not real quad cores), people are buying them in numbers and Intel is earning quite a lot of profit. Infact, Intel is so confident that it says in 2008 its going to increase the cost of Core 2 Extreme processors by as much as 50%.

The 2 Million CPUs are not just desktop ones, but includes Xeon, Core 2 Quad and Extreme CPUs. Intel actually has 20 different versions of quad-core CPUs in the market at the moment. But it's still quite an achievement and we need to look at the dollar figures in the Q3 earnings. which is at a 43% increase...

AMD currently doesn't seem to be in the race and as Intel's earning all the bucks, I'm sure its preparing itself to hit the final nail on the AMD's coffin with Nehelam. Good luck AMD, coz it seems you really do need a lot of luck!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Programming Lesson 2: Switch On Switch Off

Thanks a lot for the emails that I received as replies to the previous story!! In the previous lesson (You are the bug. You are the solution), we talked about how thought process creates bugs and how it can be reduced. This is second-part of the seven stories that I'm going to use to improve programming skills

Programming Lesson 2: Switch On Switch Off
Two monks were traveling together, an older monk and a younger monk. They noticed a young woman at the edge of a stream, afraid to cross. The older monk picked her up, carried her across the stream and put her down safely on the other side. The younger monk was astonished, but he didn't say anything until their journey was over. "Why did you carry that woman across the stream? Monks aren't supposed to touch any member of the opposite sex." said the younger monk. The older monk replied "I left her at the edge of the river, are you still carrying her?"

The story is a great lesson that teaches us how to switch between different projects. The old monk breaks the rules of his religion, but then he doesn't carry that event of his life through him.

When we are working on a project, we need to think only about that project and what it requires. Objectivity is the keyword here and extremely important to understand what goals we wish to achieve. We can bring all the nice features of our previous project and add them to our current project, but we need to understand what we wish to achieve with our new project. Just bloating every project with every innovation that we have done till date doesn't make much sense!!

But the lesson in the story is not to forget the past. Past success & mistakes teach us lessons, but the idea is not to be affected by those success or failures of the past. Also, we all play different roles in projects. Sometimes as a developer, sometimes database designer, sometimes tester on the same project. We need to objectively play each role and behave in a non-attached manner on all these roles.

For eg. My 2 current projects on MobileATM and Distributed Video Encoding, both require network optimization and peer management. But the requirements and devices on the projects are completely different. If I were to be attached to one technique that I discovered for intelligent load management and use the same in both the projects, I know either of the project would fail miserably in performance and scalability.

So the lesson to be learnt from this story is of detachment and to be unaffected by past success and failure. We need to learn to Switch On-Switch Off between different roles that we play. And this does not just apply to programming, but to life itself, where at times we are parents, friends, colleagues, students, kids...

* Here unaffected means "remembering & feeling" but not lingering and doing actions based on those feelings

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Show Latest Blog Updates On Your Orkut Profile

Like most online Indians, I am also an Orkut user and have my share of social networking world. About a month or two back, Orkut updated its design and brought RSS feeds to follow the scrapbook and profile updates of orkut friends. They also started showing updates that friends make to their profile on the homepage.

Hmmm... nice features to keep track of what's happening to friends/psuedo-friends. I was interested in showing my orkut friends, the updates that I make on my blog. I wrote an RSS reader and autoupdater software that would do that for me.

But the worst thing was later discovered. I found out that orkut's webpage textfield only allowed max 61 chars... What crap!! This is surely a bug that orkut's webpage textfield has... Im sure they need to increase the maxlength for that field. There are a lot of pages that are more than 61 chars in length. Infact, all the permalinks from my blog posts were more than 61 chars

I think orkut should increase the size of the textfield. And allow use to display the updates using some RSS reader, or even better integrate Google Reader with Orkut!! Yeah...some Web 2.0!! :((

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Programming Lesson: You Are The Bug...

There are a few things that inspire you, that make you think, that give you a new outlook. Somethings that help you introspect. And programming for me has always been the combination of all of the above things. Programming is what you could call, my way of praying or praising God.

This post is not completely technical, but I'm somehow compelled to share it with all my colleagues, friends, students and all those who read my blog. And I add some analysis for my project teams, so they start believing that software is equally philosophical as much its technical.

Programming Lesson 1: You are the bug. You are the solution

There was once a monk who would carry a mirror where ever he went. A priest noticed this one day and thought to himself "This monk must be so preoccupied with the way he looks that he has to carry that mirror all the time. He should not worry about the way he looks on the outside, it's what's inside that counts." So the priest went up to the monk and asked "Why do you always carry that mirror?" thinking for sure this would prove his guilt. The monk pulled the mirror from his bag and pointed it at the priest. Then he said, "I use it in times of trouble. I look into it and it shows me the source of my problems as well as the solution to my problems."

A lot of developers are great at writing code. They are really good at getting the results. A lot of people whom I've taught programming think that getting the desired output is the goal of writing programs. Thinking objectively is great when you want to finish the project, but when the bugs start calling, thinking philosophically is the best thing to do. And the first step is taught by this story!!

Realizing that the bugs appeared in the program, due to some thought process during the time of writing the program is the first step to improve as a programmer. I always ask everyone to have a bookmark of what's coming to mind when problem solving. The bookmark can be either on a piece of paper or in your mind. Later, whenever you find bugs, try to correct the thought process first and then the code. Understand that you have written the bug yourself, and "Unlearn the Learning". Forget all that you know about the program and start over again on the module with a different thought process!!

My reflective mirror on programming is the JavaVM/OS (with garbage collection) which I had written for my BS project. It ran Java programs on a microcontroller with 8KB memory and I implemented a robot on it. It was my masterpiece of art but it's a mirror that tells me I have to build things that are useful/understandable not just to me, but others.

You can have your own reflective mirror that tells you what you do wrong. Use it positively and learn from the good things and not so good things that "you thought"*, you created!!

Update: This was initially supposed to be a single post with 7 stories, but I realized that its going to be longer than comfortable to read all the posts. So I'll continue with a new post for each story

Part 2 - Lesson 2: Switch Off-Switch On

* - thats a different philosophy all together

Tata Indicom Launches 1Mbps Unlimited Plan

A few days back saw a CNN/IBN report, about the woes of a Tata Indicom customer. Big downtimes, slow browsing speed, bad customer suppor etc... I have found their service pretty good at a few places and their wireless datacard seems to be pretty good in Mumbai.

Just found out just now that Tata Indicom have launched their 1Mbps Unlimited Plan. In India, broadband is just about high-speeds with data caps and you have 2Mbps plans with a download limit of 1Gb a month. Its like giving someone a F1 car, but then limiting the speed to 20km/hr.

But Tata Indicom plans to change that. They have started something which other ISP have not even thought of. 512Kbps plans are also such a rare thing in India, that giving a 1Mbps unlimited connection is unthinkable. They will be charging Rs. 3600/- a month, which seems to be quite a lot, but atleast its a start. As time goes on, I think we will have other companies with similar plans and the price will go down then!! Good work Tata Indicom/VSNL... Just take care of the service now...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Unreal Tournament III Demo Leaked & Benchmarked

The much anticipated and highly delayed game Unreal Tournament 2007, now called Unreal Tournament III had a demo which was finally leaked and people got to play it... Not just play it, but the guys from PCPerspective benchmarked it as well!!

Just for history sakes, the game was showed at E3 2004 by the publisher's Epic Games. Later it was again demo'd at E3 2005. Most people expected that the game would be released sometime before the end of 2006, but it's still not out. part of the delay can be attributed to the new Unreal III Engine, which is used by the game. The Unreal III Engine is said to have the best pixel rendering and it seems there will be many more hit games using this engine.

The leaked downloads seem to be extremely slow.. Good luck to all you eager fellas!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New Linux Kernel v2.6.23 Released

I got an email just now from a colleague that, the new Linux kernel v2.6.23 was released today. This released was greatly delayed due to a lot of bugfixing and some noise regarding the process schedular.

For those who haven't followed the story read here, about the CFS Vs SD. Linus finally chose to integrate CFS and this is the first major release of the kernel with the CFS process schedular.

The ChangeLog at, will be able to give you complete details of a lot of improvements in this kernel. If the changeLog seems a little complex, the summary can be read here at Kernelnewbies. We expect this kernel to be rolled into major distros in the coming months!!

This is a group photo from the Kernel Summit 2007 at Cambridge U.K. (courtesy: Was trying to lookup for a friend there, couldn't find him!!

Update: The guys at have done some preliminary benchmarks on the new kernel and it doesn't show as much performance. Its truly preliminary, so take it with a pinch of salt!!

Indians Can Now Search Google With SMS

Found an interesting story at that Google has started its 5GOOG service in India.

Searching Google on the really slow world of GPRS in India is a complete pain. Quite a lot of places in a city like Mumbai have a very low coverage of GPRS connectivity, and hence browsing google and performing searches is a test of one's patience.

Google has just launched beta service of its text messaging service in India. You have to write your search query as an SMS and send it to 54664 , (represented on keypad as 5GOOG). You can go to the site and test the results for the service.

Google SMS is a premium SMS service; queries sent to 54664 will be charged at the following rates:
Aircel: Rs. 3.00
Airtel: Rs. 2.00
BPL: Rs. 3.00
BSNL: Rs. 0.80/1.00 (post-paid/pre-paid)
Reliance: Rs. 3.00
Note: Incoming messages from Google are not charged.

Requirements: Text messaging enabled mobile device; mobile operator networks supported at this time: Aircel, Airtel, BPL, BSNL, Reliance.

I tried this a few times since morning but haven't got any replies for results from Google. I have an Airtel mobile and I'm located in Mumbai. I was querying for the Pizza Hut phone number located at Malad... and till now my hunger for Pizza just died... and I swallowed my Daal-Chawal.

The idea of the service is useful and is quite a good way to monetize as well. I'm wondering though if it's worth spending if you don't get accurate results, as has been my experience with web searches. You require atleast 3-4 searches with different keywords before you get the desired results.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

AMD Joins Eclipse Foundation

We do use a lot of different IDEs within our organization and like I mentioned earlier in my Visual Studio 2008 vs netBeans comparison, I'm not an IDE fanatic... Eclipse is a very popular IDE that we use in our organization. So, have a few friends at Eclipse.

Just heard that AMD will be joining hands with Eclipse's team. AMD has recently given support to a few software projects and openSuSE seems to be one of them. Eclipse leaders will be announcing this new friendship with AMD at the Eclipse Summit Europe.

The exact details of what interest AMD has in Eclipse is yet to be understood, but may be we'll have some announcement at the summit on what the exact collaboration is all about. Will there be any money exchanged... is also another question?? Eclipse is not just an IDE, but also popular as a platform on which other companies have made different tools. BEA and IBM quickly come to mind, when talking of using Eclipse as a platform to make developer tools!!

Let's wait and see what AMD gets from this partnership!! May be some compiler advantage or plugin for AMD's processors in store... Or just some community goodwill

How To Convert Media Center Videos (dvr-ms to avi)

I record a lot of TV content for playback later and all these days have been using Nero Home, WinDVR or MythTV. Recently, I formatted my hard disk to reinstall Windows Vista. And all of a sudden, a friend called and told that I had to record a TV show in which she starred and it was starting in 5mins. You know when the bad times hit you, they hit you hard. I couldn't find my Nero installer and downloading it again would take more than 5 min to complete, considering how bloated the package has become lately. Instead, logic prevailed and I remembered Windows Vista Ultimate's Media Center. Scanned the channels, and started recording. The show finished and I completed recording.

Happy with the recording quality and ease of use of Media Center, I went on to look at the recorded file. The dvr-ms file which was created is an MPEG2 with some ASF Wrapper. I said to myself, "How tough is it going to be to remove the wrapper and get the MPEG2 stream". I scoured the internet to discover "The Green Button" and I decided to press the button (I mean download DVRMSToolBox). It said, "some process failed"..or something. I said, "Ok, lemme try GraphEdit". Connecting the arrows between the input to a video demux would again throw some incompatible stream error. After, some 2hrs of searching for solutions and trying all the different things, I couldn't find a solution.

A little while later, as I was swearing on Microsoft, I remembered Windows Movie Maker... The saviour had arrived!! Sorry, if the story was boring, here the tutorial begins:

Tutorial to convert dvr-ms to avi and then DIVX/XVID/MPG/MP4 or anything else

Step 1.) Drag your recorded TV show into Windows Movie Maker's Library (You could import the dvr-ms file as well)

Step 2.) Here, you can cut/split files and play with it however you may like. (Ignore this step, if you wish to convert the whole video)

Step 3.) Drag the split/complete video file to the timeline.

Step 4.) Then, Click Publish to: This Computer from the left "Tasks" section. Give a name & location and hit "Next"

Step 5.) Put the radio button on "More Settings" and from the drop down select "DV-AVI" and click Publish... and that's it!!

The output process will create and uncompressed AVI file. It's an extremely quick process compared to other video processing tasks from other softwares. This uncompressed avi may be later compressed into DIVX/XVID/MPEG using VirtualDub or GordionKnot... I prefer using Nero Recode and create Nero Digital MP4 files. I couldn't find a quick solution like this anywhere online and hence decided to write this tutorial. Hopefully it'll help a few others to convert dvr-ms to avi, since Vista's Media Center does excellent recording and is simple for dummies... Happy recording!!

Review: openSuSE 10.3

For the last 10+ yrs, I have spent quite a lot of my PC experience on SuSE beginning with v4.2.
openSuse 10.3 was released 4th Oct, 2007. A lot has improved over the years and I've seen how SuSE has improved with every new version. My last linux installation & review was Shift Linux 0.5 RC2 some days back and I was eagerly waiting for openSuSE 10.3 to be released. I have been following the development of v10.3 and installed a few milestones builds on the way to the final release.

What's New
There are a plethora of improvements in openSuSE 10.3. I wouldn't go through all the changes, since the link explains everything. But I wouldn't mind mentioning my special favorites in this version. 1-Click Install, Official Repository List, Improvements in YAST, Compiz-Fusion, KDE4 Games... These are some of my favorite enhancements in openSuSE 10.3.

Over the years, Linux installation has simplified and become user-friendly. SuSE was probably the pioneers in simple, intuitive GUI installation through a tool called YAST. It's my favorite system administration and configuration tool among all distros. In openSuSE 10.3, YAST has some interesting improvements. Its faster and better integrated. One example of this is, when you right-click on an rpm in konquerer's file browsing, you'll see an install option. This will call yast and install the package.

I downloaded the i386 DVD version from Bittorrent. openSuSE 10.3 is also available in CD versions of KDE and GNOME. Burned the DVD and booted. And yes, I was happy to see the "Green Welcome Screen" (see below). The green of the chameleon is back and it looks great! Then, it asks me to choose if I wish to boot from HDD or Install. I selected "installation" and the linux kernel loaded and the installation started. Other than the openSuSE branding, the loading process is the same like other distros, with a loading process happening the background of a graphical screen (image 2, below) (click on the images to see a larger version)

The Green Welcome
Boot Selector
Linux Loading
Language Selection
After, the loading completes, YAST starts up the installation. YAST shows a language selection screen and contains Bengali, Gujrati, Hindi, Marathi, Sindhi, Tamil among the Indian Languages. This should be helpful for the uptake of Linux in India, since the recently passed an order in India makes it mandatory to use free-software in schools. The next few screens ask for installation type and desktop environment.

I like KDE and hence installed it as my default environment. You can check the screenshot below which shows the default packages that are installed. openSuSE 10.3 installs a few non-opensource stuff like flash player, agfa-fonts, jdk 1.5.0, jdk-plugin in the default and asks the user for agreeing to some license agreement. The default installation size is 2.2GB, not too much, not too small!! Expert Settings tab on this screen allowed me to change grub bootloader settings. People will multi-boot can change the default from openSuse to anything else.

It also shows -
Processor: 2x Intel(R) Core(TM)2 CPU 6300 @ 2.13Ghz &
Main Memory: 512 MB

Default Packages
OS Starting
openSuSE 10.3 Desktop
openSuSE AutoUpdater Applet
The file-copying process starts and takes about 20min to complete on my system. In the meantime I read the release notes. The following are from the release notes:

==> By default, the new YaST gtk front-end runs on the GNOME desktop, and the YaST qt front-end on all the other desktops.

==> GNOME 2 is installed under the /usr file system hierarchy since openSUSE 10 3 and KDE 4 now follows KDE 3 will stay in /opt for compatibly reasons

The desktop looks neat and clean. The Beagle Search, Clipper and AutoUpdater Applet and placed in the tray icons at startup. Every piece of hardware from my system was detected including webcam, HP Printer, USB Cable Modem, Wireless Router...

The AutoUpdater Applet is an interesting addition to openSuSE 10.3 and is extremely useful for quick updating and bug fixes. It uses YAST's modules (which inturn uses zypper) in the background and works pretty good, checking from openSuSE's official update repository. It downloaded 12 updates, including security and package updates and installed it, without me having to worry about anything...

1-Click Install: 1-Click Install is an extremely useful feature included in openSuSE 10.3. Completely rocking... and is the need of the hour for success of linux on the desktop. apt-get is easy, but then this is even better. I installed the Compiz Fusion through the 1-Click Install link provided on openSuSE website. Clicking on links for 1-Click Install opens a .ymp file and the associated application is called "YAST Meta Package Handler". In reality, it required 3 clicks, but one was "Next" and other was a security warning. Both good things, right?? I think Linspire tried something similar, but openSuse's technique looks slick and is FREE!! Great work Benjamin Weber and other devs!!

1-Click Install
Compiz 3D-Cube
Compiz-Fusion Burn Animation
Compiz-Fusion Explode Animation
openSUSE 10.3 contains the latest Compiz 0.5.4 installed by default and Compiz Fusion (Compiz + Beryl) is available in the official online repository. Like I said, I installed it in 1-Click. The default installation of Compiz means that a lot of people don't have to bang their heads with the download and installation. I'm not a fan of 3D effects on desktop, since I dont see much productivity gains. But for those who love it, just a single command (gnome-xgl-switch --enable-xgl) activates Compiz, and a restart later, we are ready to play with the 3D Cube etc...!! Few other screenshots of Compiz Fusion and different animations and effects are above. The Cube also does bounce and do a lot other stuff. Check here. But I found Compiz-Fusion to be a little slower. May be the System RAM was low, but then I didn't expect it throw segmentation faults on KDE.

KDE 4 Preview
openSuSE 10.3 DVD includes a preview of KDE4 which is still under heavy development. Its unstable and hence is an optional install. By default, openSuSE 10.3 comes with games from KDE4. The games have interesting look and feel and has great graphics for arcade and board games. Check the screenshot below.

KDE4 Games
Buggy KDE4 Desktop
OpenOffice 2.3.0
Improved YAST
The KDE4 I downloaded off the SVN was unstable and after 2 downloads, I wasnt able to see the desktop manager correctly (check the screenshot above). It didnt show the icons correctly, not was I able to load Oxygen. Some problem with Oxygen's installation I guess...

After watching openSuSE 10.3 from its early days in development, I think the developers at openSuSE have done a great job. After the review finished I was sure that for a newcomer to the linux world openSuSE 10.3 is the best place to be. With Autoupdater, 1-Click Install, Easy Repository Management, Easy Software & System Administration, you can not go wrong with openSuSE 10.3. So does it mean it's perfect?? No, still a lot has to be done in terms of Compiz-Fusion performance and stability. Sometimes my system slowed down with Compiz-Fusion running. Other times KDE threw a Sig Fault when Compiz-Fusion started. KDE4 needs to be fixed. It has promised quite a lot of features and hopefully it doesn't become a burden on stability.

All In All, openSuSE 10.3 is highly recommended and is among the best distros released this year!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Amit Paul Rocks Again

Amit Paul rocks again. After end of Indian Idol 3, Amit performed again at his hometown Shillong, Meghalaya. He rocked the entire stage and created his magic again!!

He performed at a place called "Polo Grounds" in Shillong and some 50,000 audience came to watch his show. Its was a jam-packed show and Amit showed his humble attitude here. He obliged to every request the audience made and performed free of cost for the audience. No tickets, nothing!!

He will also be performing at different places at Shillong in the next 2 days. He was gifted 24-carat decorations by the Meghalaya government. He has also recorded 2 songs for unnamed films. After his trip from Meghalaya, he'll be coming back to Mumbai and performing many more shows around the world.

I also discovered 2 videos. Go and watch and enjoy vintage Amit Paul!! The Jhalak Dikhlaja performance was not his and prashant's best, but was enjoyable to watch him after so many days on TV. The second video, of his journey at Indian Idol is awesome watch!!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Does The Web Deserve Version 3.0 ??

Yesterday, I was reading about the "Official Definition Of web 3.0", and I thought what a wannabe. I couldn't stop thinking does the web even deserve the version 2.0, forget about 3.0!

Many people would say that the world of the internet has drastically changed in the last couple of years, specially after the dotcom bubble burst that it deserves the newer version. Things like Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal and other free CMS systems have made it easier for anyone to have a web presence. Then came AJAX and people thought it was some new language (it actually isn't) for the web. Then we had YouTube, Flickr and host of other media websites. And then came a lot of social networking websites. And then you have bookmarking and websharing like Digg, Delicious, Technorati and the rest!! According to the media, the internet had changed. The marketing and show organizers wanted something new to camp around... and they called it the Web 2.0

Analyzing the Web 2.0 Moniker
Google will tell us the different existing definitions to Web 2.0 here. You can call it "participatory web" like Bart Decrem or "as a platform" mentioned by Tim O'Reilly. Yes, today most of the activity on the internet is participatory. Social networking, Blogging is the big hit thing on the internet, but then we need to ask ourselves if none of this was being done earlier?? Coming to the idea of "network as a platform". Such definitions have varied and wide implications and wasn't Sun Microsystems saying that in the '80s??

Few other characteristics of web 2.0 discussed by the media were:
1.) Data as the driving force (Database web application have existed for a long time)
2.) Distributed Independent Developers (Collaborated efforts in software development has existed since the beginning of the internet)
3.) Lightweight business models enabled by content and service syndication (Haven't tech magazines and newspapers doing this for eternity??)

Comparison To Other Popular Projects
Who decides the version change?? May be the CTO or Project Manager or the team decides. There are generally some milestones to be completed before a project gets a new version.

Linux is one big old project. There have been a lot of changes since Linus released it in 1991. Quite a few changes in the Filesystem, Process, Memory management... but we are still after significant changes at v2.6.xx. There are many more examples that come to mind. After changes to some million lines or significant percentage change to code, they get new version names like MS Office, Windows, Python.

On the other hand, the internet or web hasn't really changed drastically. If I remember my first days on the internet in 1995, I used to have mailing lists and BBS where I would write some content and other users would share the same. So the "participatory web" was still alive that time. Data sharing was active when the first university networks joined the internet. Like I mentioned earlier, OSS and lightweight models existed long time before the Web 2.0 name was created. To make a gross comparison: HTML is written the same way we used to in the earlier days!!

Still not convinced and want Web 3.0

If you still aren't convinced and want Web 3.0, then be my guest!! How about giving you the definition for Web 4.0??

Definition of Web 4.0: You speak to it and it speaks back. It does all your household work. It can transport you physically from anywhere in the world to a given place in seconds. Web 4.0 is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient. Web 4.0 can even... (oops I remembered this is "G" website)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Google Gives 25GB Gmail To Google Apps Clients

Google is all set to give 25GB email box to corporate clients who buy the Google Apps service. The corporates have to sign up for the Google Apps service and pay $50/year for every user using Google Apps.

Along with this the users get access to Google Docs, Google's fast support, Better Security, Better Spam Filtering. There will also be features from Postini, a company Google bought recently!! So we now know, what was Google's cunning plan when buying Postini!! I think Google's main USP (Unique Selling Proposition) here is that they want to advertise this to companies which want to reduce their IT support staff for emails.

The service is supposed to be available from 2008 and Google will also offer Premium Google Apps Service to existing Postini customers.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Yahoo Creates AJAX 'ified Search

Just observed that Yahoo has changed its search engine. Yahoo search field has something they call, 'Built-in Search Assistant". They seemed to have done something similar to what's available at the firefox's google search field on the right... Firefox has an option called "Show Search Suggestions" and it'll show you suggestions to search keywords. Look how yahoo does it, in the screenshots below.

After writing some keywords, the hints appear,

May be an AJAX query is sent to the set of popular keywords that are in the yahoo database. The keyPress on the field fires a query on the database and returns the popular keywords in a dropdown. Probably this technique has been the most common use of AJAX lately.

Is this web 2.0?? I'm still wondering!!

MySpace Takes Features From Facebook

Recently I was reading BigAdda Vs Orkut, and I wondered how the other social networking websites are working! Went into MySpace and saw a newer changed look with a lot of the stuff which was there are Facebook. I regularly use Facebook and identified those features...

The new features on MySpace are:
1.) New Friends View (Facebook, Orkut already have this one - MySpace has Mutual friends now!)
2.) Forums (more like real forums now!!)
3.) New Music Player
4.) Spam Control (CAPTCHA to send you a friend request)
5.) Tagged photos (Like Flickr and Facebook... this should be a nice one)

Login to your myspace and enjoy the new features