Sunday, October 31, 2004

Speeding up Adobe

This is simply awesome. I downloaded this neat package called Adobe Reader SpeedUp and it has resulted in my Adobe Acrobat's load time to a trifle few seconds.

It curtails those truckloads of plugins that Acrobat loads with it everytime, ones which I rarely or never require for the innocuous task of reading the pdfs. (One could always do it by pressing Shift while Acrobat loads but this is definitely a convenience.)

So, if you're one who can't do without Adobe Reader/Acrobat in this world, it's time you download this little program.

Adobe Reader SpeedUp
http://www.tnk-bootblock.co.uk

Saturday, October 30, 2004

.in for india

For those, including me, who always wished to have an Indian identity in their web addresses it's time to chalk out all P&Cs for the .in domain name of choice.

Beginning next year, Internet users and companies would be able to register .in domain names online, enabling increased traffic circulation within the country and faster download speeds, according to the Minister for IT and Communications, Mr Dayanidhi Maran.

Please suggest some whacky address where we may shift this blog to.

Seven million

If you didn't notice, Firefox download crossed SEVEN million.

Friday, October 29, 2004

A viable solution?

The past week I had written about the need for cheaper computing and Internet access devices for emerging and hugely potential markets like India. And when AMD launced its Personal Internet Communicator (PIC), Priced at $185 and $249 (the $249 would also fetch you a monitor), one can't but help get the feeling that it is a step in the right direction, involving the masses in the vision of bridging the digital divide, taking the powers of the Internet to one and all. But it is only a step. The cost is still too high- still too expensive of a computer to get into the hands of those that don't have one.

According to News.com,
The Personal Internet Communicator, or PIC as AMD calls it, will cost about $185 without a display. To reach that price, AMD selected several standard PC components, including one of its own Geode x86 processors, 128MB of Samsung RAM and a 10GB Seagate hard drive. The company also specifies a version of Microsoft's Windows CE operating system, fitted with Windows XP-extensions, allowing it to provide consumers with a graphical interface, e-mail, Web browsing, instant messaging and word processing. The PIC machines will also be able to play multimedia files and show PDF and PowerPoint files, AMD said.
This PIC from AMD certainly has whaty it takes to be a mass-market phenomenon. The market is huge, the opportunities aplenty. With applicatons like distance education, telemedicines beginning to catch the fancy of many including the Govenment and the availability of a reasonably costing device (reasonable compared to the existing. The cost is still too high) , the rural scape of the country can gain a lot. And yes, this is perhaps an ideal option for those who're going in for their second computer at home, and numerous self employed people earning their lives from the internet access nodes, aka cyber-cafes.

ComputerWeekly.com: AMD and VSNL to sell net communicator device in India
News.com: AMD offering blueprint for $185 PC

Now that's a co-incidence!

Just a coincidence that the last 7 visitors to this blog came through Google looking for the file attachment issues with GMail.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Friday for Thursday

I have absolutely no idea why would somebody do anything as weird as this! The college administration has all of a suddden sent a notification that we'll be following the Friday's schedule for this Thursday.

But, as I am free for the whole of the afternoon every Friday, why should I be complaining? That's two complete free afternoons for me. Creature of habit, I guess ;)

FireFox 1.0 Release Candidate Available

The first Firefox 1.0 candidate builds are available for testing. If you want to be involved in testing and reporting bugs, then you may go ahead and get these candidates. Else, you may laze away and wait for a couple of weeks till the official FireFox 1.0 is out.

MileWideBack Extension for Firefox

The last week I installed MildWideBack, a really superb FireFox extension. With this extension, navigation back and forth in a tab becomes very easy. All you've got to do is to 'throw' your mouse to the left edge of the screen and navigate back or forward by left-clicking or right-clicking on your mouse.

This extension works on the simple theory of Fitts' Law. For all of you who are aware of this law, you would know that the time to acquire a target is a function of the distance to and size of the target, the target here being the two *small* back and forward buttons on top left of your browser. This implies that acquiring these targets, ie, pointing to these buttons is not very easy. All the more difficult if you are using the smaller buttons so as to get more space for web page content.



http://dragtotab.mozdev.org/milewideback/


But withthis extension our 'target' effectively has considerable height and an infinite width! And thus one need just move the cursor with high velocity to the left and navigation is much easier.

Usability Glossary: Fitts' Law
Get MildWideback

It s been a while

I know its been a while since I posted anything on this blog of mine. I have just been too busy preparing for the stupid mid terms. But now I can safely say that... mid-terms are over! And I've fared well in all courses, atleast I guess so ;)

And yes, FireFox download count is well past 6 million!

Friday, October 22, 2004

We need $100 PC

Taking computers to the next level of users is someting that has remained a challenge to policy makers and the biggest of corporates in India. Just as India aspires to be a IT hotspot, there aren't two opinions about the fact that the penetration of computing resources remains nothing to boast about.

When Steve Ballmer talks of having a $100 PC, one may begin to wonder if this has potential to become the launchpad for making computers ubiquitous in the current scenario. Steve Ballmer's primary concern here may be to curb piracy, but what we could also achieve is reaching out to a completely new set of users, whom we refer to as on the other side of the digital divide.

The cost of computers may be falling continuously but is still considerable when looked at from the point of view of a common man. But a $100 PC looks to have exactly what it would take to be a mass market success, a phenomenon!

Monday, October 18, 2004

The Indian Broadband Policy 2004

The Indian Broadband Policy 2004, the drawing board of India's digital future was announced sometime ago. According to the preamble,
Recognising the potential of ubiquitous Broadband service in growth of GDP and enhancement in quality of life through societal applications including tele-education, tele-medicine, e-governance, entertainment as well as employment generation by way of high speed access to information and web-based communication, Government have finalised a policy to accelerate the growth of Broadband services.
Broadband has huge potential to bring about far reaching changes in far flung regions of India. Besides revolutionizing entertainment and communication, it can pave way towards better standards of educaton and healthcare with telemedicine and distance education programs for those in the remotest of areas.

But how do we achieve a 'ubiquitous Broadband service'? The sad reality as of now is that connectivity remains a major problem of India. The cost of bandwidth is on the higher side and as result of these, the 'broadband experience' remains restricted to a few of its huge population. Does this policy address these issues? Disappointingly, No.

Five Million

Inexorable. That's how ZDNet UK has described the rise of the browser that's igniting the world.

FireFox just crossed the five million mark!

Saturday, October 16, 2004

google_im://

Speculations about Google rolling out a new instant messaging client have been around for a considerable while now. And some recent developments are only adding to the hype and excitement amongst millions of tech enthusiasts the world over.

According to News.com, a new protocol: "google_im://" was found in the program files of the code of the recently launched desktop application from Google. This new Google IM Protocol has left many in no doubt that Google is certainly planning to come out with its instant mesaging client in the recent future.

But then Google has always mystified us mere mortals and this time too, as it appears, the guesswork will go on an on....

Friday, October 15, 2004

No 4 GHz P4 : Intel

In an announcement that was somewhat surprising, Intel has said that it would no longer focus on releasing a Pentium 4 processor that runs at 4GHz. Instead it would now try to boost performance on newer chips using other means than clock speed.

According to News.com, Intel plans to boost performance by increasing the cache from the current 1MB to 2MB so as to facilitate faster data access, a marked shift from the idea of increasing the megahertz as the primary way to increase performance.

I have this sneaking suspicion that this move may just result in Intel falling behind in the race with AMD (which is definitly catching attention with chips delivering more efficient performance than those made by Intel eating into the latter's market share) to provide the fastest of processors.

sfx Campaign 3: Overambitious

I always had the feeling that meeting a target of 1000 pics in a week was going to be tough. But it seems that we won't even get anywhere close to it. Currently we have what, some 82 pics in the gallery and just 4 days remaining. No two thoughts in saying the target was overambitious!

I sincerely feel that the newer campaigns should be much better thought of else we'll falter to build up on the momentum that we've gained from the super-success of the '1 Million Downloads' campaign.

Never the less, the gallery is nothing but laced with spunk and splendour, the images simply breath taking. How about this picture?

Googling my Desktop

You may say that my blog has been a bit too much *Google-centric* for the past few days. There's not much I could do. My fav technology company has been busy!

So now they've come up with this new big thing of theirs, Google Desktop to search for files on your computer. It's just a small download and install, followed by a few hours indexing on your PC, and you've got it working.

So now will this 'next big thing' from Google address those situations where I spend simply *too much* of time looking around for something that's definitely stored 'somewhere'? Can't say a lot as of now for I haven't actually used this much but will definitely do so once it's done with this whole indexing process. Maybe then I'll have something to write about it and probably something that's not about Google too ;)


Thursday, October 14, 2004

Google Desktop Search

Download the latest Desktop search tool from Google.
http://desktop.google.com/

GMail based blog

How about an alternative use for the huge unutilized storage space of your 1000 megabytes Gmail account? Blogging, for example!

Gallina is a blog based on Google's Gmail. Gallina allows you to post blog entries by sending a message through Gmail, with the "star" function. Any replies to the e-mail are posted as comments in the blog. This practically has given you a 1000megabyte blog!

I was just wondering how would the guys at Google react to it? For now, Blogger still remains the most popular blogging service but who knows... ;)

Gallina's screenshot:

0.1

Gallina
Gallina Demo blog

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Campaign 3: Its now time to ignite the world

In its latest campaign, the spreadfirefox members are to do some 'old fashioned, real world evangelism.' The purpose of the campaign is pretty obvious. Its time to spread FireFox to people who aren't all that techno savvy, the people who haven't yet heard of FireFox from the ever increasing number of personal blogs or the sfx site!

And now the interesting part: The members can take a picture of their contribution and submit it to the gallery with a description of the picture.

The GOAL this time around: "To have 1,000 fun, creative and relevant pictures in the gallery by October 19th"

Monday, October 11, 2004

Y! has a new front page

OK This has been out for a while now. I had only heard of it from a friend and now today, I have finally managed to find the link to The New Yahoo Front Page.

It is simply awesome, real neat and definitely more usable. [It's surprising how much more I am inclined towards observing the usability of websites these days! My User Centered Design Course Prof would be proud of me ;) ]

No Zip Files! It's Gmail

So now Gmail would not allow me to send a mail with a .zip file as an attachment. When I tried sending a mail with a zipped file attached, it popped up a message that read "Sorry, for security reasons, Gmail does not allow you to send this type of attachment".

Annoying. Isn't it? What's more, it's not just files with .zip extension. Gmail won't let me attach anything with a .tar and an .exe extension :(

Denying attachments to enhance security and curb spamming and virus, somehow doesn't make too much of sense!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Indian tail wags...

Australia romped to a thoroughly convincing victory, although it took them more than what they would have expected first thing this morning, in the opening Test of the four-match series at Bangalore. The Indian duo of Irfan and Harbhajan did their bit as they stuck in their and also heaved a couple of Sixes, but to expect them to have held fort for a full day was out of question. The end result: Australia CRUSH India by a huge 217 runs.

As an Indian fan held a banner in the stadium: SOS Sachin!

And now, AOL Browser

According to eWeek, AOL is planning to release a stand-alone Web browser of its own.
As the hubbub of alternative Web browsers keeps growing—from speculation over a so-called "Gbrowser" from search-engine leader Google Inc. to the many advances in the open-source Mozilla project—in the background, America Online Inc. has been quietly testing its own Web browser, dubbed "AOL Browser," for more than a month.
And what new features will this AOL Browser have for prospectiv users over the good old IE and the sensational Firefox? According to eWeek, the new browser would come stuffed with features like tabbed browsing, page previews on hovering over back and forward buttons, easy access to clear browsing footprints and many other accessibility features, which the other browsers lack.

AOL stand-alone browser demo, showing a thumbnail view of the previously viewed site. (SOURCE: eWEEK.com)


Thursday, October 07, 2004

Google Print

In its mission "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful," Google announced a new search technology that would allow users to search the texts of books online.

At first sight, one may easily compare it to the recently launched service from Amazon - A9.com but the service has got altogether a new dimension to it. Google Print will allow users to search for the contents and then let them read upto 20% of ther total contents of the book. For this, Google has called for publishers to include entire books in its index, which will let people take a peek at the contents of a book before deciding whether to buy it.

To use Google Print, just do searches on Google as you normally would. Whenever a book contains content that matches your search terms, we'll show links to that book in your search results. Click on the book title and you'll go to a "content page," where you can see the page containing your search terms and other information about the book. You can also search for other topics within the book. Click on the "Buy this Book" link and you'll go straight to a bookstore selling the book online.


The Internet to all of us has been one of the most accessible source of information in recent past, though not the most "Reliable". For a large number of people, books on hard paper still remain the authenic, reliable source. It is this issue that I feel will be addressed with such a service. The 20% limit would however, prove a hindrance. Never the less, for all of us, the information available has just got better- qualitatively and quantitatively

http://print.google.com/googleprint/about.html


Download.com Poll: When will you switch to FireFox?



c|net download.com are running a poll asking when will you switch to Firefox?

Comments by registered members on the poll at spreadfirefox.com

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Micro Movie @ Berlin Film Festival

The Berlin Film Festival this year has a new category- the Micro Movie Award, sponsored by Siemens. The film eligible for this category must be made using the integrated cameraphone of the Siemens SX1 mobile phone. The film, which cannot be more than 90 seconds long, should be made using the properties of the camera phone to its fullest.

The site http://micromovie-award.com has all the 20 nominated movies which can be viewed online. Which one do I like the most? It'll have to be Entry # 6, "Say Cheese", the story of a girl who's trying hard to fit in a camera frame.

The films can be viewed online at http://www.micromovie-award.com
The official festival website is http://www.interfilm.de

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Gmail Reloaded: Save drafts and Mail forwarding

Gmail has announced a couple of new features such as an improved contacts list, mail forwarding and saving drafts.


This morning when I signed in (after trying for two hours last night without any success), I found a link to New Features! and came across the following updates from Gmail:
  • Gmail Notifier
  • Search your contacts
  • Automatic forwarding to another email account
  • And finally... Save Drafts!

Monday, October 04, 2004

Behind Schedule!

As you can see, the campaign to sign up 10,000 new users on Spread Firefox in 10 days, is behind schedule. There are still a couple of days left but I don't see any way the wonder number 0f 10000 in 10 days being achieved.

Never the less, we're still on course to touch a total of 20000 registered users by the end of the campaign. Cheers! The fire continues to spread.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Real Divide - 2

In an earlier post of mine, The Real Divide, I had written about the needs to plug the loopholes present in the Indian Rural society and bridging the Income Divide, Opportunity Divide and Wealth Divide that have haunted the Rural Indians for far too long now.

E-nabling India's rural reaches gives an insight into the various projects such as free phones supported by a wireless ( 802.11b) network and wireless Internet-enabled Community Information Centres, which are helping in achieving the President's blueprint of 'Programme for Urban Amenities in Rural Areas' and bridging the so called 'Digital Divide' and more importantly the Income Divide and Opportunity Divide.

Google News - still in Beta

Ever wondered why Google News, three years after its sensational launch, is still in its Beta Mode? Wired News has this explanation

So while other online publishers like Yahoo News and MSNBC earn tens of millions of dollars in revenue each year and continue to grow, Google News remains in beta mode -- three years after it launched -- long after most of the bugs have been excised.

The reason: The minute Google News runs paid advertising of any sort it could face a torrent of cease-and-desist letters from the legal departments of newspapers, which would argue that "fair use" doesn't cover lifting headlines and lead paragraphs verbatim from their articles. Other publishers might simply block users originating from Google News, effectively snuffing it out.


Saturday, October 02, 2004

Spinach Power for your Laptop

Eating spinach may now not just add to your muscles but also power your laptops. According to this news article, researchers at the MIT have been successful in harnessing the capability of a plant to convert sunlight into energy through the process of photosynthesis.

This has to be hailed as one of the most important breakthroughs in combining the different domains like the fundamental process of photosynthesis and electronics. The technology, which could prove to be a reasonably cheaper and cleaner supply of energy for our portable devices, may still be nascent but it does promise a lot in the coming years.

Friday, October 01, 2004

XP Starter Edition for India

After countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Russia, India became the fifth country to gets its low-cost Windows (XP Starter Editions) pilot programme. The 'stripped down' version of XP is Targeted at those first PC buyers, who'll be not be needing certain high end features required by enterprises but with limited requirements. I am to believe that the executives at Microsoft think that they will be able to curtail widespread piracy in markets such as India and other Asian countries with the offering of such a version of Windows that is more affordable than the existing versions. To what extent they'll succeed is anyone's call!