Monday, February 27, 2006

The time has come - Videos Everywhere

What first happened to text and then to images followed by music and finally it will happen to videos - The preperty of permeating our lives via Internet. Its really amazing to see that videos no longer seem to have the premium attached to them as it was 4 years back when I entered IIT.

I am not talking only about Google Videos. Ofcourse its one of the feathers in the hat and probably the largest one, but its the other smaller feathers that makes it beautiful. The inumerous blogs which have now started to link to videos online - say for example my blog itself ;=). The frequency of getting emails that link to some 'fundu' video online is increasing day by day, I can watch a complete movie in streaming mode ( . Some of the good links that I recently got. Enjoy!

Minority Report not far away
Honda Ad
The Moving Train (its funny)
Mockery of President Bush
Girls Just wanna have fun - coursey Nitin Gupta ;-) (might not play in India)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Testing - ViewSonic Wireless Keyboard and Mouse COmbo - CW2206

Inspite of having a laptop with both touchpad and pointer, I finally decided to buy myself a Keyboard and a Mouse. Keyboard was not so necessary but then got a good deal. With every good deal there is a freebie - A worry that will it last?

I had three options to choose from. - A wired keyboad and mouse, A high cost wireless keyboard and mouse and A cheap wireless keyboard and mouse. I decided no to go for the wired one, partly because I have never used a wireless mouse and keyboard and it was exciting to have one, and partly they were not very cheap compared to the cheap wireless version.

Logitech and microsoft rules the market in the wireless segment. They have both high end and the low end versions and I have still not been able to figure out, what are the exact differences between the two. By highend I mean around $80 and low end implies <$40. My requirements after the initial survey were well defined. I needed a wireless version of (ranked acc. to priority)

1. Optical mouse
2. The usual arrangement of 2x3 (Ins-Home-Pg Up) and (Del-end-Pg Dn) : Yes this is a concern, cus back at IIT I had ordered a microsoft keyboard and it had a 3x2 version of it which really was a pain.
3. <$40 incl. shipping and tax.
4. Black colur.

I tried and I tried hard but just did not find one that meet all the requirements. God knows what has bitten Microsoft and Logitech, they dont make a keboard with the usuall sytle of Insert-Del combination. They rotate it 90 deg probably to save space. There was the Logitech 110 (~$37 with shipping) with great reviews and satisfying all the requirements but that one. Finally I found the Viewsonic Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo CW2206 on Amazon for a price of $27 incl. tax and shipping. This was the deal I was looking for but I was not able to find any reviews for it. With my fingers crosses I just ordered it.

First Impressions:
The make does not seem too sturdy, with seemingly lower quality plastic. The keboard lacks any indicators, not even to tell if its on or off. The initial synchronization was simple enough and as I am typing on it, the response seems good. The mouse also has good precesion. The range is fantastic > 3 meters (beyond that you cant even see the text). However, most of the reviews for other wirless combos talked about the battery life and that many of them stopped working in few weeks. Lets see!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

...and they have done it.

I was thinking that in the slightest possibility can I ever climb Mount Everest,

from Wikipedia,
  • Youngest person to climb it - 15 years.
  • Oldest person to climb it - 70 years and 222 days
  • A blind person has climbed it
  • A disabled has climbed it
  • A Polish guy came cycling from poland, climbed it alone without oxygen masks and went back all the way on cycle
  • Fastest Ascent - 8 hours and some mins
  • People have married atop everest
...and they have done it.

Entropy of Events.

Day by day, the entropy of events in my life is decreasing. (For the lucky souls who still are away from such blasphemous collection of letters, entropy => randomness, like entropy of gas is high, and of solids is low). Still have not been able to figure out if that is a good sign or a bad one. If I have a birds eye view to it, it feel good and satisfying and the way it should be, after all what one needs is to settle in life, but then week to week life becomes monotonous. By mononte, I dont mean that the number of activities are less, but they are fixed to a time schedule. I know that every monday at 6:00 pm I will play soccer. Every friday at 3:00 I will be with my professor, Every firday night is movies and party night. Every Wednesday and Thursday, I will be working hard for the Friday meeting. Every Sat is reserved for Photographic Activities. Every Tuesday I will play Squash. Every Sunday and Monday, I have to cook. I can sleep as much I want (no! I am not complaing, just stating the facts), I can eat whatever I want to, every morning I have to prepare my breakfast, everyweak I have to go shopping. It looks soo organized and let me say boring. Not that the activities are boring in itself, but the joy of not knowing what next is on a different plane all together. The subconscious mind loves the situation but conscious wants more entropy(or is it the otherway round)

For records, the event with highest entropy in my life was the bike trip we had from Kanpur to Nainital and back. At 1:00 am in the night I has reasons to believe that at 3:00 am I would be sleeping comfortably on my bed. But entropy had its way and I was on a bike, driving at 60kms and hour, piercing the blackness of the night with the headlights of my bike (did'nt that sound artsy?) Next 3 days were of high entropy, not knowing where to sleep, where to stop, where to go, what to eat. Damn memories!

Calender Again.

This time its a positive news, I am starting to get hooked to SpongeCell. After a two month long turmoil (;-) to find a simple calender, this has been my final bet. Of course its not perfect, but it does one set of work flawlessly. Basically I needed calender to manage two things.

1. Things that recur yearly or monthly: birthdays etc.
2. Things that happen only once: talks, deadlines etc.

And sponge cell does the second task perfectly. Probably just what I want, I dont even have to go to their site to add an event, can mail it and it adds it automatically. Also the GUI is well suited and has got keyboard support. The only bad if I might want to pick, it that viewing the calender is slow but it still does not crosses the threshold of frustation. They say that recurring events are coming soon - eagerly waiting for it.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Innovative Search cum Bookmarking

Thats what I call it. The people who made it prefer to call it Listable. A nice concept of merging social bookmarking and search. It actually allows you to increase or decrease the ranking of the sites. They put it as 'Listible is a new way to get relevant resources quickly.' I wonder if they have some protection from bots increasing the rank of the sites.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Rebates - Why the heck!

I am completely puzzled right now. The concept of rebates just does not get in my head. For the uninformed rebated are a kind of discounts you get when you buy something. Generally they are the mail in kinds, that is you buy something at its original cost but then you mail them the receipt and some form and they send you the money back. Why if one is supposed to get his money back should he pay it in the first place. Why does'nt the company offer discount at the point of purchase itself.

Hmmm.. I can probably try to reason that the company wants to pay directly to the customers with no middle man involved or some crap reason like that and live with this kind of rebate. But right now I am baffled. I was searching for speakers to buy and came accross a product Logitech Z 2300 - that ranged from $54 - $165. thats more than 66% difference. All because of different kinds of rebates. Not that this product is of poor quality or something, infact ZDNet gives it 'Spectacular' tag with a rating of 9.0/10.0. So is this rebate from the company or from the seller? if its company how does it vary so much among different stores, and if its the seller, why is he giving it when no one else is and that too >50%. Also the rebate form needs to be sent to the company and not the seller, so it has to be the company thats giving this rebate. ... is there any fruad in this? is the product of the same quality and workmanship as the other high cost versions of it? so I buy it without any fears?

Research - What does it actually mean.

A very basic question, what is research? Off hand research is search for solutions to problems that have still not been solved and sometimes even finding problems to solve. No rules to abide by. No formalism to live with. Thats what I too used to think when I was an undergraduate, not that much has changed though in post graduate life, but there are subtle differences.

'Anything that works' is research is not true anymore, well it is but not enough to grant someone given a 'Dr.' epithet. It all developed during my last three meeting with my graduate advisior. The first of these three meetings I went in sad, but came out more jovial. The second time I met him to discuss research, I had gone in happy but came out gloomy. And today was the third of the enounters which finally went as it should have been. I went in in good spirits and came out with the same. The reason: the first time I did not have good results to show, but he pointed out the good theoritical base I was using for those. The second time I had results, but he showed the shaking grounds they were on. Today, I had some results and they were backed by theory :-). So research, atleast for a degree, is not 'Anything that Works' its 'Anything that works, and has a theoritical base to support it.'

I once read an article that discussed how language was a reflection of a socitey. And it gave an example. It said there is no word in English that captures the feeling of the common Hindi word - 'Jugad' (and I still have not got any common or even esoteric english word for it, it means to do what every is minimal to get things working). It probably does caputures a cultural difference between Americal and India. I think I was doing that till now - result oriented thought process, to tweak some cranks and make the machine work. But I always enjoy 'Jugad'. It gives me a peculiar kind of happiness to make things work with mininal input. In real life situation one probably has to have that skill. Anyways now research has a new dimension to it, atleast if I want 'The Paper' that will prove that I can do research :-). Lets see how well I fare in this 'Non Jugadu' research :-)

(btw the article also said that there is no hindi word that caputres the essence of - 'Maintenance' - well I will give it to the guy cus I really dont seem to find that good a word in Hindi. There is 'Dekh bhaal', or may be 'Marammatt' but to me it really does not give the same feel as 'to maintain something' - though I must admit that I not great at vocabulary. )

Monday, February 06, 2006

Calender Updates.

Seems that my search for a perfect working calender wont end at Calenderhub. i am just not able to get hooked to it. Still too complex for my needs. Its fast to add events - fast from the user perspective but too slow from the server side. It was a promising tool, alas I will have to search for more.

Got some more calender links (web 2.0). This one caught my attention cus of its special feature. SpongeCell - with 'Sponging' - you dont even need to go to the site to add event, you can 'Sponge' it to the site by sending an email (or sponge at the site also). They dont have a good help on that so first time I tried to add an event it was added to the year 2012! Anyways, form its response email I have been able to add the events as desired (not able to set the reminders sill - they should give a help atleast or have a standard format to add events. Right now its hit and trial but its a simple learning curve!). Apart from that all the extra benefits that common to web 2.0 calenders - RSS, drag drops, publish, share etc. I have been using it for three days now and seems good - have made it my homepage, so the first thing i see in as i open the browser are the todos/reminder for events. Simple indeed.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Event Management

As bhatti demanded more technology news on the website, here it goes.

From past few weeks I was in lookout for a service/software that lets me manage the upcoming events in my life. Be it birthdays, talks, seminars or just personal reminders. Diwaker had long back suggesgted me Yahoo calenders, but that was too complex for simple events. I wanted something that lets me add an even in less that 3 clicks and minimal typing. Well I did not find the exact match that I wanted but landed upon CalenderHub. Its closest to minimal input calender I want. Based on Web 2.0 technologies, the interface in realistically simple (well it takes 5-10 mins to get familiar with most of its operations). Some pro and cons.

1. Its online - so you can view your calender, add/delete events from anywhere.
2. It has a small widget tool that you can download and get reminders on your desktop. Good as then you dont even have to log in to their service to see whats all is stored in for you today.
3. Reminders in your email.
4. Facility to publish your calender to a webpage and get RSS feeds from it.
5. You can creat group/public calenders. I cant remember how many times I have filled that birthday reminder/alarms type of information. By group calenders on can creat say a Family calender/ School calender, in which everyone can add and view birthdays. So one needs to enter his birthdate just once for the complete group.
6. It also has import and export facilities.
7. As the trend is, you can add tags to your events.
8. The facility to add weblinks to your events - this might be useful for linking your event to a webpage if it has one.

1. As was the problem with yahoo, here too to add a recurring all day events such as birthdays, with reminder emails, one still has to click on three tabs and few drop downs to add it. But if the group thing works this will be just for one birthday.
2. The desktop widget still does not has the facility to set such events. Its good for one time events.

Anyways, I have missed quite a few talks due to lack of reminders, hope I get addicted to this and it makes my life more organized.

Philosophy: I wonder if its good to get attached to such things - what if someday they cease to exist.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

15 Park Avenue.

I was very excited to watch this movie, reading Nanda's reviews on it, but I must say it was a let down. Overall its great to see the way Aparna Sen has handled the issue of schizophernia, I am not much knowledgable on this and got whatever it was depicted in A Beautiful Mind, and here too its interesting portrayal.

But the thing that caused the let down for me was the artificial dialogues and over use of English. Its true that a new class is being formed/ has been formed in India which talks in English even at home, but I am sure its not as formal as in the movie. Moreover, Waheeda Rehmaan did not seem very comfortable talking everything in english. Charu's dialogue in Bihari tone was seemingly much more realistic and digestable.

The second thing, its about the abstract flavor she has tried to give to the movie. I generally like movies with open ending, but here there were many loose ends. Its like cut pieces are joined together to make the movie. Also there seemed no central theme to the movie. Schizophernia for sure was the main line but intermingling siter-sister, mother-daughter, adding doctor-azmi relation, no real use of brother, bose - bose's wife realtion..... all were not required and made the audiance loose track of what actually did she try to depict.

On the whole, a watch for people who like off-beat movies, a must avoid for the ones who just see movies as an entertainment tool.