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  • History of Marie Biscuits (Maria Cookies)

    Posted on November 29th, 2006 Sandeep 3 comments

    The humble Marie Biscuits or Maria Cookies as they are popularly known had a very interesting beginning.

    In 1875, the Grand Duchess María of Russia married the Duke of Edinburgh in a festive wedding, which caught Europe’s fancy. To celebrate the occasion, a small English bakery in England created a sweet new cookie with Maria stamped on the top. Its popularity spread throughout Europe. Most of all, in Spain it became the nation’s favorite cookie — 40% of all cookies sold in the country.

    Marías were first produced in large quantities in Spain around the turn of the 20th Century, but it was not until the Civil War that they became an integral part of the national culture. The long harsh years of the war plunged Spain deep into poverty, turning even a simple loaf of bread into a luxury. When the war ended in 1939, the nation’s top priority was for every Spaniard to have enough bread. The wheat harvests were so plentiful that the bakers turned out huge number of cartons of Marías to consume the surplus. In those days, every café had a plate of Marías on the counter — a happy sign of Spain’s recovery.

    Well, whaddaya know? Never knew Marie had a beginning in Spain.

    Source: La Tienda

  • Opera Mini – Free J2ME Browser for Most Mobile Phones

    Posted on November 29th, 2006 Sandeep 4 comments

    (Hat tip: Vinaya)

    I hadn’t noticed this, but Opera has unveiled Opera Mini, a J2ME version of its web browser for mobile phones. Apparently it can be installed over WAP or SMS (where you are sent a download link), but I dared to download it using my favorite browser, NetFront. I first tried to download the “heavy” (read memory hungry) version, but it failed to install on my beaten old Nokia 3650. So I had to be content with the lite version.

    Installation was a breeze with this one. After completing install, I quit from NetFront and headed to the Applications folder where MIDlets are available and opened it.

    Opera Mini wanted to configure itself for network access – so after a couple of seconds, it successfully detected my service provider, and then the main window opened. It looked nice, with an address bar at the top (essentially a text box) followed by the ubiquitous Google search box. Unfortunately I cannot upload any screenshots because FExplorer requires me to hit the pencil key + “0″ to capture the screenshot, but the moment I hit “0″, Opera’s address bar opens up. Urgh.

    Opera Mini

    One of the things I still have to get used to is the navigation. With NetFront, it’s left/right keys to navigate across fields (text boxes, links, etc.) and up/down keys to scroll; with Opera Mini, it’s the other way around. When I opened Techbook, it also displayed the spiffy RSS icon in the address bar. Yes, the browser comes with an integrated RSS reader! Default subscriptions include FT.com, Guardian Unlimited, My Opera Forum (for Opera Mini, obviously) and Opera Watch.

    The browser even supports SSL – I tested by logging in to my bank account, even. Another feature that I am yet to test is Photo Sharing. Essentially, you can take photos from your camera phone and post it to your blog or email it to someone. One of the quirky things about Opera Mini is that going to the previous page is a 2-step process: open the Options menu first, and then select Back. Another disappointment is the address bar itself: you cannot enter text in T9. I use this feature a lot with NetFront, and it is quite useful (of course, your phone’s T9 dictionary will be filled with all kinds of gibberish but that’s okay).

    So far, the rendering has been pretty easy on the eyes. There doesn’t seem to be a full-screen mode in Opera Mini, but it is usable. The little scrollbar on the side is very useful in keeping track where you are on the current page.

    Download from the Opera Mini website.

  • The cubicle-mate attrition syndrome

    Posted on November 28th, 2006 Sandeep No comments

    Yup, that’s what I seem to be afflicted with. This is the second time a cubicle mate decided to leave the company. The first one was over a year ago. I had an empty seat by my side for quite a few months after that. Another person joined about two months ago and chose to sit next to me. Last week he resigned as well.

    I’m thinking of requesting with the company HR to leave the seat next to me empty.

  • Get ready for the Bangalore barcamp 2.0

    Posted on November 27th, 2006 Sandeep No comments

    The Bangalore barcamp 2.0 is happening on the 2nd and 3rd of December (that’s Saturday and Sunday) at ThoughtWorks’ office in Diamond District on Airport Road. I missed the first edition as I was not in town, but this time I’ll be attending for sure. I already see quite a few interesting sessions lined up, including one on dtrace.

    Interested? Register on the website.

    Now, if only I can convince the organizers to let me talk on how to make the perfect tomato sauce…

  • Apache ANT for Windows

    Posted on November 24th, 2006 Sandeep No comments
    Apache ANT installation

    Wha…?

    That’s what I got when extracting Apache ant for Windows. Oh, and what am I doing with ant? Don’t ask.

  • Funny

    Posted on November 22nd, 2006 Sandeep No comments

    An absolute gem I found on Scoble’s weblog.

  • Weblogs.us hit bad by spammers

    Posted on November 21st, 2006 Sandeep No comments

    JD writes:

    2006.Nov.18 Notice: Weblogs.us is buckling under the weight of mass spam attacks. Approximately Mon or Tues I am traveling to our datacenter in Tulsa Oklahoma to manually upgrade and repair our servers (both hardware and software). The changes are simply too substantial for me to do remotely.

    If any of our bloggers need to switch hosts, we certainly understand. As always, we will make sure you can export your data. It just may take us a few days as we try to combat spammers and malicious attacks.

    My apologies, I wish we lived in a world where spam and attacks weren’t so prevelant. I also wish that I had taken these improvement steps earlier. But life, work and love have taken precedence over my volunteer Weblogs.us efforts. It will be good to get Weblogs.us back to the way it used to be. Strong, fast and free.

    JD, weblogs.us was and is my home, and I wouldn’t think of moving away any time soon. All the best with the upgrade! And let me know if you need any remote assistance.

  • $9000 for a 60GB PS3

    Posted on November 17th, 2006 Sandeep No comments

    Yup, that’s the winning bid. Right here.

  • Canon DC40 DVD Camcorder

    Posted on November 17th, 2006 Sandeep 1 comment
    Canon DC40

    So I finally succumbed to the Canon DC40 DVD camcorder. It features a 4.3 megapixel CCD and a nice widescreen LCD. If recording in widescreen HR (hi-res) mode, the camera apparently uses the entire width of the image sensor for true 16:9 widescreen images. Now, I don’t have a compatible TV to try it out (mine doesn’t even have audio/video inputs – it’s ancient).

    I haven’t had time to play around with it a lot, apart from a couple of hours at a friend’s wedding. I must say I was impressed at the video quality. Low-light videos turned out to be grainy – a bit of a downer there – but it was not all that bad. At high quality, I managed about 19 minutes of video on a mini (3″) DVD disc that’s around 1.4GB in capacity. I’m using DVD-RWs and initializing them exclusively to VR mode, although I don’t have a VR-compatible DVD player. (Which doesn’t really matter if you read that bit about my TV).

    You can also take digital still photos, and the DC40 comes with 9-point Ai-AF (auto intelligent auto-focus) which proved to be surprisingly useful. Again, I did not play around with it a lot. The Canon website and manual list several features that look neat.

    More soon, I promise.

  • ReviewMe

    Posted on November 17th, 2006 Sandeep No comments

    Sponsored Post! (I think)

    ReviewMe is advertising done right. It’s the missing link between companies that need to reach out to potential customers and blog authors. For the companies, it’s giving something for bloggers that they would love to write about, while at the same time get an early feedback and traffic even. This is just about ideal for new entrants in the market.

    If you are a company, there’s no definite way of saying a particular blogger will be interested in reviewing your product. ReviewMe solves this problem by giving the blogger the freedom to choose your product.

    The review does not have to be “positive” – ReviewMe’s FAQ clearly states that they do not allow advertisers to require a positive review from the bloggers – it’s a fair system.

    In the end, the bloggers get paid. For writing about something they like. Definitely a better alternative to Adsense, if you have a small readership.

    Getting onto the ReviewMe bandwagon as a blogger is easy: simply create a profile, select a mode of payment (PayPal or check) and provide your blog’s URL. ReviewMe has to first accept your blog, of course. This depends on a differerent factors like blog citations, subscribers and traffic.

    Heck, they even have a US $25,000 giveaway – if your blog is accepted, the first review offered is one of ReviewMe itself. What are you waiting for? Join in the fun.