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  • Blu-ray

    Posted on January 30th, 2004 Sandeep No comments

    Move over, DVD. The Blu-ray disc is here. Unlike today’s DVD players that use red laser, the blu-ray uses (surprise!) blue laser. It touts a capacity of 27GB (single-sided capacity) or 50GB (dual-layer discs), as compared to the 4.7GB of the DVD.

    Dell and HP have announced their support for blu-ray discs (read more about this on CNET’s report), adding to the long list of supporters that include heavyweights Philips, Sony, Sharp, Samsung and LG among others.

    Due to the relatively high cost involved in assembling blu-ray disc playback devices, most manufacturers might not make it backward-compatible. This means that you will have to say bye-bye to your existing CDs and DVDs.

    In other news, Mike Rowe, of MikeRoweSoft fame, is auctioning off (on ebay) the WIPO book and letters that he received from Microsoft lawyers for having a website that sounded similar to the bigger company. Click here to place your bid and own a “piece of Internet history.” When I checked it yesterday, the offer price was around $2,000. As of now, it stands at a cool $23,692. Wow. Why wasn’t I born in the prestigious Rowe family, and why didn’t my parents name me Mike?

  • HAL’s back

    Posted on January 29th, 2004 Sandeep No comments

    (From Wired’s article)

    Believe it or not, now your desktop computer can monitor your emotions and abilities – using sensors, transmitters and computer software. Thanks to researchers at Sandia National Laboratories, your PC can send information about how you are feeling to other connected (interested?) PCs. Using face-recognition software and sensors that measure heartbeat, blood oxygen, breathing rapidity and muscle acitivity, the Mentor/PAL system can sense whether you are at the top of your abilities or just plain tired/bored at what you are doing.

    I can’t help but think “Do we need such a system?” This would be sort of invading my privacy. Suppose I’m in a meeting where Mentor/PAL is used; that is, each attendee’s status is sent to every other attendee… how would you feel in such a situation? When an important task (that you really want to do) comes up, and your manager thinks you are not up to it because your computer says so, you would be losing a very good chance at doing that task!

    Are you a better judge of your capabilities, or your dumbass PC?

  • Virus!

    Posted on January 28th, 2004 Sandeep No comments

    By popular demand:
    Cartoon for 28-Jan-2004

    (From Symantec’s site)
    <QUOTE>
    W32.Novarg.A@mm is a mass-mailing worm that arrives as an attachment with the file extension .bat, .cmd, .exe, .pif, .scr, or .zip.

    When a computer is infected, the worm will set up a backdoor into the system by opening TCP ports 3127 through 3198, which can potentially allow an attacker to connect to the computer and use it as a proxy to gain access to its network resources.

    In addition, the backdoor can download and execute arbitrary files.

    The worm will perform a Denial of Service (DoS) starting on February 1, 2004. It also has a trigger date to stop spreading on February 12, 2004.
    </QUOTE>

    From yesterday, I have deleted some 25 mails containing this virus. Sheesh.

  • One Billion GSM phones

    Posted on January 27th, 2004 Sandeep No comments

    (From The Register’s article)

    The number of GSM phone users is set to reach 1 billion this quarter. The full press release from GSM Association is available here. In India, the number of GSM phone users, which was at 10.5 million in December 2002, stood at 20.8 million (a staggering 98.8% growth!) in December 2003. But that hasn’t stopped Reliance and Tata Indicom from going all out to woo customers to their CDMA mobile phone services, offering subscriptions that come with Nokia CDMA phones, like the Nokia 3586 and Kyocera Blade.

    Agreed, CDMA services are cheaper than GSM services, but from what I’ve heard, the quality of reception is not all that good. Wonder who the one-billionth user will be. Shit, this means that there’s a GSM phone for every six people in the world!

  • Cartoons: Part II

    Posted on January 26th, 2004 Sandeep No comments

    Ok, I did work on Saturday and Sunday to give shape to the “Cartoons” thingy. But I don’t have anything solid to put up on my site as yet. Then there’s the question of 100MB limit imposed by weblogs.us (bless their souls). IAC, I will be scanning my cartoons as PNGs. (I support this site). The scanner I have at office is a HP Scanjet 8250 – a pretty decent USB 2.0 flatbed scanner, with an optical scan resolution of 4800×4800 dpi. Should be good enough for my B&W cartoons :-)

    While looking around the web for some tips, I came across this tutorial that I really liked. And another great site here. Wow. Wish I had the time and energy like these guys who are so passionate about their work.

    In other news, I am yet to find a Nokia employee who can get me some inside information about their stand on Python/Perl for their Symbian-based smartphones – so that’s still pending (I promise to update as soon as I find the necessary info!).

  • Cartoons

    Posted on January 23rd, 2004 Sandeep No comments

    A colleague gave me this idea: cartoons for Techbook. Looks like I have some work over the weekend – need to sharpen my old HB pencil, clean the drawing board and fill ink for my lettering pens. (No, I don’t do digital – although I am quite good with Gimp).

    No tech-related post today – sorry folks!

  • Python for Nokia Smartphones

    Posted on January 22nd, 2004 Sandeep No comments

    According to this report on The Register, Nokia is evaluating Python as the preferred language, not just Perl, for developing applications on their Symbian-based smartphones.

    I feel that Python is actually better suited for developing applications on an operating system like Symbian that has been written in C++ from the ground up. I have programmed in both languages on Linux, and am just waiting to get my hands on any SDK that supports Symbian – that is, if Nokia decides to make it available to developers for free. I’ve been programming in C++ for my Nokia 3650 smartphone and, although I am comfortable, nothing beats writing stuff like:


    class CVoiceCall (CActiveObject):
    def HandleIncoming (callObject):
    self.NotifyIncomingCall(blahStatus)
    User.WaitOnStatus(blahStatus)
    callObject.AnswerCall()
    callObject.HangUp()
    ...

    I mean, Python makes it so much more sensible and easy to understand! Now, if only I can find someone who works for Nokia to get me that SDK :-)

  • Wi-Fi, anyone?

    Posted on January 21st, 2004 Sandeep No comments

    (From The Register’s article)

    BT Openzone (British Telecom) is setting up Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) hotspots around the United Kingdom in railway stations. How cool is that? Imagine you are traveling from one place to another, and you want to be in constant touch with your e-mail and, perhaps, your clients who are online. Just whip out your Wi-Fi-enabled laptop and you are connected to the Internet.

    That’s all very good, but what’s the technology behind it, you say? Wi-Fi is pretty much similar to cell phone technology; Wi-Fi enabled computers/devices send and receive data anywhere within the range of a base station. The best part about Wi-Fi is the speed, which, according to this site, is several times faster than the fastest cable modem connection available today.

    Wi-Fi is based on IEEE‘s 802.11b standard for wireless networking that operates in a frequency range of 2.4GHz to 2.4835GHz (Bluetooth devices also works in this range, as do cordless phones). The expected throughput is of the order of 11 Mbits/sec, within a 30m range. That’s fast. There’s also the 802.11a standard that is slated to work in the frequency range of 5.725GHz to 5.850GHz), with a data transfer rate of up to 54 Mbits/sec (the drawback is that it has a 15m range).

    If you are wondering where in India you can find Wi-Fi hotspots, Sify has already launched 120 of them in Bangalore, covering restaurants, hotels, local administrative offices and coffee shops. To find a hotspot near you, click here. Charges are Rs.60 per hour.

  • Online newspapers

    Posted on January 20th, 2004 Sandeep 1 comment

    ActivePaper from Olive Software allows newspaper publishers to create a web-version of the newspaper – it has the same look and feel as its printed counterpart. According to their website, the online version is automatically generated from PostScript/PDF files, thus reducing costs.

    Recently, The Slimes of India announced that they were coming out with such an online edition using ActivePaper. The URL is http://epaper.timesofindia.com. I wanted to check it out and found the time today to browse through their e-paper site.

    First off, you must have an Indiatimes ID to access it. If you are thinking about getting one, be warned: the (free) e-mail address that you get along with it is spam-prone. And the interface is not very good. If you are wondering why I registered there in the first place, it was because I wanted a junk e-mail address that I could give out to websites. If you are wondering why I get Times of India delivered to my home, there’s one very good reason: Calvin and Hobbes, period. If it wasn’t for that, I would get rid of that newspaper altogether.
    Read the rest of this entry »

  • VoIP’s comeback

    Posted on January 19th, 2004 Sandeep No comments

    How many of you remember using Dialpad free service of allowing you to make international telephone calls through your PC? They were one of the first few companies to get hooked to VoIP, or Voice-over-Internet Protocol – a technology that allows users to make telephone calls through the Internet.

    According to this report on CNET, VoIP is slated to be the next big thing. Companies are said to be offering local and long-distance calls, voice mail and caller ID for about $20 per month, which works out to Rs.900 per month. This, I must say, is rockbottom compared to the exhorbitant rates that BSNL charges for international calls.

    Whether these services will be made available in India is one question that nags me. Back then, VSNL (the country’s oldest and biggest ISP) had blocked access to sites such as Dialpad, citing huge losses to the telecom industry as the reason for such a move. Although VSNL is now owned by the Tatas, even now they may not want to allow access to such sites, as this would mean a significant hit to BSNL’s profits. If people are allowed to access VoIP services, it will mean an immense amount of savings to them.

    My guess is that access to international VoIP sites will be banned, and VSNL will have its own service and they will be charging a substantial amount for that. I definitely don’t mind shelling out Rs.900 per month for unlimited local and international calls. If they decide to put slabs in such a way that the charge decreases for increased online duration, this will not be as good an option as the first one, at least for me.

    Until I know for sure, I am not splurging on that much-needed set of headphones and microphone for calling my friends abroad.