Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mac mini server farm :)

Wow!! I dint know there are server farms that use Mac Mini. 

Refer to the photo in the article in AppleInsider on why Mac Minis are here to stay.

Each one of those small boxes is a cute Mac Mini PC from Apple. Really surprising to know what people could do with such a small mac.

Even more surprising, from this article, is that information that Las Vegas alone uses atleast 10,000 mac minis in its various hotels and casinos and mostly for video surveillance.

For instance, here in Las Vegas, I know there are at least 10,000 Mac minis running in the different hotels and casinos on the strip," said Brian Stucki, who owns and operates the Mac mini colocation service. "Many are used for video security points. Certain casino companies use Mac minis in each of the slot islands on a casino floor to manage the backend. I know of one nationwide salon franchise that uses two Mac minis for each one of their stores."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blackberry Storm - My thoughts

I had been waiting to publish this post on Storm ever since its user guide had leaked on the net and lots of post started appearing on in the blogosphere. And now news is out that Verizon Wireless is launching it.

I think, the phone looks amazing and I have seen the video of the Storm in action (look at the video at the end of this post) and its impressive.

My personal take is, Verizon+Storm is going to be more successful at the enterprise level (and that really matters) because of Blackberry's reputation and acceptance in businesses across the world. I think many agree with me.

One of the biggest concerns with using smart phones (which are naturally glued with a camera - phone manufacturers never care about folks who don't need a camera) nowadays is that we need to carry them to our offices and camera phones a big NO NO. But what I came to know from one of the person in my office (not very sure if thats true) is that the camera on the Storm (and other blackberry devices) can be controlled from a central location. Wow!.. organizations are going to be OK with that and i am double OK with that too. I can't do that with iPhone today.

Talking about Storm and iPhone, here is an article comparing both.

And on an separate note, it seems that Blackberry is also launching an AppStore.. heard of app store some where.. :).. thats what everyone is launching nowadays.. Apple iPhone, Google Android, et al.

Alright, enjoy the video..

Update: Oct 29, 2008
Check out this post in GigaOM - Why BlackBerry Storm Is An iPhone (and G-1) Killer. Reiterates my thoughts.

How many of you know about Knol (Google's Wikipedia)?

I knew about this site many months back. In spite of this being a Google site/service, it never was compelling enough to be remembered/revisited.

You can check - Introduction to Knol - to know more about it.

Interesting Read - Similarities of current economic crisis to the crisis of 1870s

I found this article an interesting read (The Real Great Depression).

Though many claim that the current economic crisis is the biggest one after The Great Depression of 1929, most of us mistake the current economic scenario to be same as The Great Depression (that includes me - or maybe just me :)).

Then I came across this article which explains this misunderstanding and also gives some interesting insight on an other great crisis of the 1870s which in many ways, as the article proves, is similar to the existing one.

I found this article interesting. What is also interesting is the point that author makes about the shift in economic power from Europe to America (eventually leading it to its current state) and also hints that the same might happen again and that the power may shift to countries like India and China ;).

Isn't everything coming together.. what say.. Abdul Kalam and other great minds in the recent past claimed that India would become a superpower in the next 20-30 years. That would be great.. isn't it ;)...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

How to get information on Hardware, Software, Driver versions, environment variable and other useful information about your Windows PC?

Its very simple.. from [windows]+R (Run - Utility), start the application "msinfo32".

Msinfo32 gives you every bit of information about your PC in this one place.

I used it for getting driver version of the Nvdia graphics chipset on my HP Pavilion Notebook.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Nokia's answer to iPhone - Tube

I am happy to see the detailed video review of Nokia's Tube (5800 XpressMusic) in Engadget.

Like everyone, i have been a loyal Nokia fan for years and off late, my skepticism on Nokia's smartphones was also clarified after I bought a Nokia E61. My E61 has been the best phone ever I had got till date. And Symbian s60 is the best OS ever.

Looking at the videos, I am sure Nokia's Tube will be a huge success, if not for touchscreen, but at least for the features packed in it and for usability sake.

You may refer to this link to read through the specifications of this phone.

Gmail's New Feature - Sounded like a April Fool prank

This new feature from Google called Mail Goggles apparently will ask you solve math questions before letting you send an email.

Read Google's blog post to know more.

I read lot of other blogs to confirm if this was some kindof a joke. But since every believes (some think its very cool) that its a new feature.. I've started believing too.. :)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Nintendo DSi Video - With dual camera

If you are a hardcore gamer, then you may already know by now that Nintendo has released its next generation handheld gaming console - Nintendo DSi

This one looks just the DS physically, but with dual cameras. Engadget claims that it is much slimmer than the previous one.

You may find the review of DSi in the below links interesting. Below that is a video of DSi featuring some capabilities of the kind of games that it was host and its touch screen functionality.

I also found this side-by-side comparison of PSP, DSi and iPhone hardware specs interesting.

PS: One a total unrelated and stupid note from me, I dont know why they add a post fix "i" when they add a camera to the existing model - DS => DSi. The same happened with Nokia E61i (which is same as Nokia E61, the one that I have currently, but with a added camera).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Screenshots of Windows 7 Engineering build

If you want to know how the next version of windows is going to look like, then you can look at this site where snapshots of the next generation windows (named Windows 7) have been posted.

I did not find any big deviation from Windows Vista except for changes in the look'n'feel of applications like calculator, wordpad and paint. All of these have their menus looking like that of Office 2007.

I am sure there must be a lot cooking than improvements to these utility applications.

Below is a video of how the calculator looks in this engineering build of Windows 7.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What new in Internet Explorer 8 beta?

I had written about IE8 beta1 long time back. But never really had time to try it out until now. By now, IE8 Beta2 is out. I am not going to focus on intricacies of web standards supported by IE8 beta and I am also not going to talk about the performance improvements. So here is a layman's review of IE8 beta. In this review, I am going to revisit all the features released since beta1

I finally had the time to tryout IE8. So let me give you the verdict first and then get on explain whats news in IE8.

IE7 + Not so great features appearing to be great at first + Few good usability enhancements borrowed from others = IE8

Initial Configuration:

So below are the screenshots of the initial configuration that you would get after you finish installing IE8 and restarting the PC.

I decided to use custom settings to have more control over the configuration.

Wondering what would have been this option in case of express installation. Maybe Microsoft might have wanted to change the default search provider to anything but Google :).

Ok.. I wasn't very sure on what Accelerator providers were, so I choose the second option.

I really dint want to turn on this option due to privacy concerns. But with words like "recommended" and "malicious software"!!, Microsoft did influence me to turn this option on.

Default Browser - No thanks! for now. Now you can see something interesting here. I don't remember Microsoft ever trying to import settings from other browsers (very stubborn). The last I vaguely remember was during the Netscape days. Now I can see that Microsoft seems to have gone a bit soft or maybe going defensive. Trying to import whatever it can from my Firefox installation.

And finally I get the first page that gives me options to getting started with some of its highlight features like Accelerator and InPrivate Browsing.

And below is how the Add-ons user interface looks. From here, you can manage your toolbars, extensions, Accelerators, etc.


Webslices are a new feature in IE8, which allows you to subscribe to a portion of a web page. This has interesting use cases. For instance, in the below example, I can track the status of my friends in Facebook.

Similarly, in ebay for example, I can track the bidding of a particular product that I am interested in.

Webslices require the website to use special tags. And once a particular website supports the webslice syntax, you will notice a green button in the toolbar (as shown below).

And on clicking this button, a special button (more like a bookmark) appears on the toolbar. Clicking that will bring up a drop down mini windows like the one shown below.

Now for users in India and especially for folks from the state of AndraPradesh, you must by proud of Eenadu (you online local daily) because of the fact that they were the only one of the 10 or so webslices currently available in the internet. I appreciate the fact that the guys running Eenadu are very advanced in trying on new stuff. Good going guys. But sad part is when I went to the Eenadu website, the green icon never glowed/appeared, so IE8 could not detect any webslice in their web site. Never mind! I anyways do not know Telugu :)

Personally speaking, this is a great idea.. but it depends on the extent to which web developers intend to support this feature. Say for example, most my favorite sites are with Google and Yahoo.. now I don't expect Google and Yahoo to support webslices. But if W3C comes with some similar standard that can be widely adopted by both web developers and browsers, then nothing like it.

For web developers and techies, you can get to know more about webslices in this MSDN link.


These are context sensitive options that appear in the right-click menu option. And based on the content displayed/selected in the web page, the accelerator will display the relevant information.

For example, one of the highlighted use case is when you hover your mouse on top a address that appears in the website, a blue marker appears. Clicking that marker will show a list of accelerators. Assuming you have the Live map accelerator and you click on it, a small window appears showing the address on a map.

In the below example, I installed the wikipedia accelerator and when I select/highlight a word and launch wikipedia accelerator, a small window appears showcasing the article by that word(s). Look at the below screenshot.

Microsoft initially called this feature "Activities" and later on changed the name to its present state.

Again, web developers and techies can find more information about this feature in this MSDN link.

InPrivate Browsing:

Now that's interesting. Google's Chrome has a similar feature called Incognito.

Well, what "InPrivate Browsing" means is, when you create a new browser tab/window by selecting the "InPrivate Browsing" option, then IE8 creates a tab/windows in which you can browse as usual, but when you are finished browsing and close the tab/window, IE8 ensures to cleanup any trace of that session.. like browsing history, cookies, form data, passwords, etc.

This feature is extremely useful especially when you browse in public places like internet kiosks or in other scenarios where you share your PCs.

Now, one additional facility in IE8's private browsing option compared to Google's Chrome browser is this feature called as InPrivate Blocking. With this option, IE8 blocks content in a particular web page that is being pulled from other places and does not belong to that particular website/webserver. That does not mean that all external content is blocked. IE8 has some level intelligence in detecting which of these external content is used in your browsing behavior and to get other analytics about your usage.

What I mean by external content is that, say for example, the widgets in this blog pull contents from other web services like Google Reader, ClustrMaps, etc. Note that the examples I've quoted here are good examples of external content and these may not be necessarily blocked by "InPrivate Blocking".

IE8 also gives you better control over Deleting Browsing history in that, it lets you retain cookies and temporary internet files to a trusted website so that these sites can remember who you are are and that they load faster.

InPrivate features are a right step in the right direction for IE8. This is one of the (maybe the only one too) features that I really found useful.

But what surprises me is the fact that how come both Google and Microsoft thought of a similar feature for their browsers. Too much of a coincidence!!

You can get to know more about InPrivate features here.

Visual Search:

This is again a feature which I found very useful, where you can see images related to a particular search result while searching through the search bar. For example, the below screenshot shows the results from the New York Times site when I searched for the term Obama.

Below is another example where I change my search provider to be amazon and when i search for a particular book, I get front cover photo of the book along with the name of the book.


While browsing through a particular website, if you click on the "Suggested Sites", it shows a list of similar sites. Now the suggestions were not that great. These were pretty straight forward suggestions of similar web sites. For example, while I was browsing, the "Suggested Sites" gave the below recommendations. You are better off finding similar sites of your interest in Google than going with IE8's suggestions.


This not so great feature of IE8 which I personally found to be very useful is the "Caret Browsing" option. There is nothing great about this feature. Its just than you enable Caret Browsing, a cursor appears in the web page which lets you scroll through the page as you would do in a word document.

This feature is very useful while copying snippets from a particular web page. You don't have to use your mouse at all. Just use Ctrl+Shift+Left/Right Arrow to select the text (as you would do in your word processor). Then just copy it (Ctrl+C) and then quickly do a Alt+Tab to choose your favorite editor that you have kept opened to paste the copied text.

IE8 has definitely taken cues from Firefox on some usability aspects and features.

For example, "Find in page" has improved. Instead of displaying a very outdated search pop-up, you get a toolbar which is less intrusive. The search matches are highlighted in yellow.

Similarly, you can reopen a tab that was closed during your current browsing session. Useful in case you want to revisit a page that you closed some time back.

IE8 also can remember you last browsing session and can reopen all the pages that you had left open during your previous session.

All of the above of very small but very important usability features borrowed from Firefox and Opera. Again, no harm and not to shy in copying such features which users take it for granted.

On a whole, the IE8 team and its product manager(s) have done a great job in terms of bringing in small usability enhancements. But in terms of new features, not many new features which will give you a Wow! feeling.

IE8 still lacks a strong platform where developers from around the world can develop rich addons. That's where Firefox scores compared to any other browser currently available. I use lot of addons which I cannot do away with. This is the kind of stickyness that IE8 and other browsers need to develop. They need to cash in on the creativity of thousands of developers around the world.

So thats about it..

And finally I manage to complete this post after 4 days.. :)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Chrome - Proof that it is much more than a browser for Google

As I had guessed in my earlier post, Google must have had a very good reason to bring out a new browser.

And today as I read Tim O'Reilly's insightful post on how and why Microsoft is losing ground to Apple and Google, the below words were ringing in my ears throughout the day.. much of a realization for me on why Google must have released Chrome.
Let me be absolutely clear: Chrome is not a Web browser, it's an application runtime. Chrome is really Google Gears with a browser facade.
Thats a very interesting and thought provoking description - Application Runtime. Aahaa! So thats it. Google wants to build a runtime that is independent of an operating system. And of course you cannot rely on other browsers when your web application demands much more than what a browser can provide.

I can prove that Chrome is intended to be runtime for web application. One very good demostration of this fact is the "Create application shortcuts.." option in the menu.

What this option lets you do is that you can create a shortcut to particular web page and place it on your desktop, quick launch bar and even the start menu !!

And the next time you click on one of these shortcuts, it opens the web page inside Chrome. But as you see from the screenshot below, none of the browser related aspects are visible. It just appears to be like a normal application windows. Now thats interesting, because, for me, I essentially have a Gmail client (as it appears for me) which I can launch anytime.

Though creating shortcut for webpages and launching browser window disabling menu and other toolbars is not something new, but the way Chrome does this gives us a clue about the bigger plans Google might have in mind.

Just imagine, tomorrow you have an office suite from Google (Google docs) which launches inside the Chrome "runtime". The web app may look so rich that you would be unable to distinguish it from a local application residing in your hard disk.

And this article in Cnet - Chrome's JavaScript challenge to Silverlight, convinces me more about the fact that Google Chrome is much more than a browser and is something close to a runtime.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Bill Gates featuring in Microsoft's Ad

Hmm.. So Bill Gates is trying his hands in acting after his retirement (from active role in Microsoft).

Below is the video.

Here is the official note from Microsoft explaining its upcoming ad campaign to connect with its customers and enhance the Windows brand.

Google Chrome - Some interesting links and information

Its been a long time since I have blogged. Was heavily loaded with work. I think my only link to the web is through my Nokia E61, which I use extensively to browse my favorite sites.

As soon as I saw the news about Chrome - Google's new web browser, I was so exited. I could think of qualities like light-weight, fast, simple, elegant, etc. associated with most of Google's other Apps.

I am finally using Chrome in my laptop.. right now.. as I write :)

But I was also confused on why Google would want to create its own browser when it could have collaborated with one of the famous open source browsers avaiable today - Firefox. But I guess Google must be having some mega plans and a good reason to come up with its own browser. Especially, given the fact that most of the Google's applications are web-based.

My take is, what would differentiate Google Chrome from the rest of the pack is innovative ways of bringing web pages and web applications to the user, through their browser.

For those of you who haven't been tracking news, Google announced Chrome through a comic book released to Google Blogoscoped which a famous blog tracking Google's activities. A much faster loading copy of this comic is available here.

You may want to read Google's official announcement here. Below is also the official video introducing the browser.

Read Write Web's post says that Google Chrome has already got a browser market share of 1%, referring to the stats being tracked by Market Share.

My experience with the browser seems to be OK. I did find some problems like it inability to support Microsoft's silverlight plugin (similar to Flash plugin). I also noticed that you can only scroll down using the laptop's touch pad. You cannot scroll up.

I am sure Google is going to fix these minor issues very soon. What remains to be seen is how Google to going to compete with heavy weights IE and Firefox in the coming months.

UPDATE (Sept 7th, 2008): You can also view the comic book now hosted in google's website.

I also found this video useful.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Yippee!! I am a PMP

I am glad to tell you that I am a Project Management Institute certified Project Management Professional(R) (PMP) ;)

After more 2 months of hard work (especially the past week has been a gruelling experience), I finally had the confidence to face the exam today.

Personally I felt that the exam was tough. So I was a bit upset half way through the exam. Upset more so because I never had time to review all my answers. I took the exam for the whole 4 hours without a break. But the end result was that I had cleared it.

The exam preparation and test experience has been very good. The exam questions ensure that you truly deserved to be called a PMP (;)). More than the certification, the knowledge I gained is invaluable.

So look out for my changed signature :)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

MIX08 Microsoft Presentation - Great introduction to latest Microsoft Products

I finally managed to watch (bit by bit) the 2.5 hour video of the presentation by Microsoft at MIX08.

It was a great presentation by Microsoft on various upcoming products and releases. The presentation starts with a keynote from Ray Ozzie, Chief Software Architect, Microsoft, after which the stage is conducted by Dean Hachamovitch, General Manager Internet Explorer, and Scott Guthrie, Corporate Vice President, .NET Developer Division.

Watch the Live Streaming Keynote: Ray Ozzie, Dean Hachamovitch, and Scott Guthrie

I had covered Dean's presentation on Internet Explorer 8 in my previous blog post.

Now I had watch the rest of the video showcasing Silverlight 2.0 beta 1 and .net services. This second half of the presenation with main focus on Silverlight 2.0 beta was even more interesting and engaging than the IE8 demo. I was so thrilled by the showcasing of Silverlight 2.0 beta.

One thing is for sure.. Adobe has some serious competition for their solution for writing Rich Internet Applications (RIA) - Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR).

Btw, I learnt from the presentation that NBC is hosting the official olympics website which is going to provide live streaming of sports events and also provide a Video-on-demand. NBC apparently has used Silverlight extensively for their web site.

NBC Olympics Player

Monday, March 10, 2008

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 - Most Notable features

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 is available for download. Though this was announced last week, the news never got me excited. I was a voracious beta tester myself during my college days and I would be one of the first to try our any new release of Internet Explorer in the class or college. But offlate I never have time to do such beta testing. Even, I had time, probably the utter disappointment of Internet Explorer 7 din't excite me to try IE8. I thought, what was the big deal.. I am sure the user interface would be the same and the performance would be more bad if not same as IE7.

But my perspective/impression of Internet Explorer 8 has changed a lot (for good) after I saw Dean Hachamovitch, General Manager Internet Explorer, explain about the features of IE8 during the Mix '08 continuation of Ray Ozzie's keynote (for the less informed, Ray is the Chief Software Architect, Microsoft).
The most notable features that I liked (and also what Microsoft seems to be marketing) are: Activities, WebSlices and HTML 5 support for connection events and DOM Storage.

I would highly recommend you to watch Dean's part in the Mix '08 video. But here is the official explanation of these features.

Activities are contextual services that provide quick access to external services from any webpage. Activities typically involve one of two types of actions:
"Look up" information related to data in the current webpage
"Send" content from the current webpage to another application
Watch this demo video on Activities. This is great because it lets you do lot of activities (research/search as i would call it) with the content of a particular web page.

Coming to WebSlices, you can read this page for more details. This is a very cool feature. It lets me just keep a watch for changes/updates in particular portions of a webpage. Yes, you heard me right, I can monitor a particular portion of the web page.. think of it as an RSS for portions of a web page. My favorite WebSlice was that for Facebook where I can watch for updates from friends. Watch this video for a demo.

Users commonly visit many websites several times a day to check for updates. The introduction of RSS feeds can make this experience easier for users, although RSS feeds requires a nontrivial amount of work on behalf of the developer.

WebSlices is a new feature for websites that enables users to subscribe
to content directly within a webpage. WebSlices behave just like feeds in that
users can subscribe to them and receive update notifications when the content changes. Websites are polled at user-defined intervals, similar to the way RSS feeds are polled. Website operators may also define a minimum wait time between polls to minimize requests.

Developers can mark parts of webpages as "WebSlices" and enable users to monitor information they rely on as they move about the web. With a click in the Favorites bar, users see rich "WebSlice" visuals and developers establish a valuable, persistent end-user connection.
Get started building WebSlices at the Microsoft Developer Network.

For both, Activities and Webslices, it does involve the content developers to expose the required information.

Activities for example requires the web page developer to write a very simple Activity XML. The is explained by the OpenService Format Specification (covered under the Microsoft Open Specification Promise*) which is released by Microsoft under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License (version 3.0).

Similarly, Webslices require you to write a light weight html markup. The format is again defined by WebSlice Specification (again covered under Microsoft Open Specification Promise).

Some of the other not-too-obvious and/or common-sense features that I like are the support for HTML 5 features like connnection events and DOM Storage.

Web page developers can use connection events to monitor the break in network connectivity and change the look of the page accordingly to warn the user and also change the user behavior. And using DOM Storage* you can store client specific data locally. Some of the places where it will be useful is the above example when you are about to store/post some data to a web server and the connection goes off. In which case, using DOM Storage, you can store the data locally and then post it when the connection is back online. Again, these are not my thoughts.. just explaining whatever I saw in Dean's presentation. (Btw, from John Resig's post on DOM Storage is when I got to know that Firefox was the only browser until now to support it. So Microsoft has closed that gap.)

Also, there is good support for developer tools inbuilt into IE8. You can debug a script live from within IE8 (do stuff like set breakpoints, watches, etc.) and developers can also locate and change the CSS attributes live to see how the page looks.

Okay, I am on my way to download IE8 beta1. Enjoy! :)

* - Notes

Microsoft Open Specification Promise - This is interesting. I need to do a bit more reasearch about this. Looks to me like Microsoft is trying to position itself as an Open Standards (and Interoperable) company. Good for all :).

DOM Storage - Believe me, I am not an expert in HTML 5 nor did I know about DOM Storage until I wrote this post. If you would like to know more about DOM Storage, then I suggest you read this blog post by John Resig (God bless for this nice tutorial). This post also gave me insights on how Firefox does session restoration whenever it crashes :). It actually uses DOM Storage damn it!.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Only foreground 3rd party apps on iPhone - Intentional or Design flaw?

I read this post in Techcrunch which discusses on iPhone's limitation to allow only foreground 3rd party applications. 3rd party applications are the ones developed using the iPhone SDK.

While the Mike thinks that this is an intended restriction owing to the limited memory and resources, I personally do not think thats the only reason. And I know why I am correct for some reasons ;).

I believe the restriction is more of a design flaw of the iPhone SDK. I believe that Apple engineers haven't yet figured out a way (or most probably did not have time to do so) a way to switch between the native applications and the 3rd party applications. You would need a robust layer which will take care of remembering the 3rd party applications' running context and bring back the UI when the application again comes to foreground. Also, there might be scenarios wherein what about happens if a native background application wakes up and wants to use the UI. In which case, how would the 3rd party application behave. Would it be able to yield the user interface for the native application.

Most of the above use cases need lot of thinking and through integration of it into the SDK layer. I am sure Apple would later release an updated SDK which will allow 3rd party applications to run in the back ground as well.

There may be a work-around for this problem. The 3rd party application developer can care of trapping/getting notification from the OS/platform for exiting its own context and then saving the relevant context information in the memory. The next time you launch the application, it can read the previously saved context and bring itself back to the state of previous execution. Its very similar to playing the brick game in your blackberry.

[Article imported from Mobile Computing Trends]

Is Sun getting desparate not to lose mobile JVM market?

After Apple announced last Thurday of its intention to release the long awaited SDK for iPhone*, Sun has unveiled its intention to port JVM onto the iPhone.

Its looks like Sun does not want to waste any time bringing the mobile version of JVM (J2ME) onto the iPhone. Obviously this sense of urgency should be due to the fact that iPhone provides a very good platform for mobile applications and also because of the impending threat from Google's Android. Sun should already feel frustrated by Google's clever coup of replacing Sun's JVM with their own.

The way I see the future is that Apple and Google may be in a direct collision course towards mobile dominance. And Sun may want to be present in one of the camps.

What also remains to be seen is how would Sun JVM affect Apple's business model of trying to sell iPhone applications through their iTunes store (App Store as it may be called). With the JVM present on the iPhone, would mobile application developers like to leverage it or will they rather choose to directly use iPhone SDK. With Apple bringing in restrictions on the development platform (only Mac can be used has the host to develop and debug iPhone applications), it gives a point of leverage for Sun.

And what about performance! iPhone SDK is already a layer on top of the native iPhone OS APIs. Now JVM would be one more layer on top of it. Will the java applications written for iPhone in future have the same performance as other platforms?

The war for a mobile computing platform is going to get interesting as days go by. Keep watching this blog to see how this unfolds.

Useful Links:
* You may be interested in reading this coverage of the iPhone SDK Press Release by Ryan Block of Engadget.
- You can also watch Apple's official video on the iPhone SDK Press Release here. Note: You need quicktime player.

[Article imported from Mobile Computing Trends] is down - Affects loading of blogger/blogspot

For some reason,, the famous social bookmarking web site has been down today. I don't know how long it has been that way, but I noticed that for some reason, my blog's home page was not loading completely and the status bar was showing "Waiting for".

I have two embedded scripts - one for sharing my bookmarks and other to let know what my user name is. Only after removing both these scripts did my blog page load completely.

What surprises me is that why should my blog page and its rest of the elements not load just because one or two of the embedded scripts are unable to load/fetch data from a 3rd party web site. Why can google maintain these embedded scripts as AJAX-enabled widget boxes so that if some script doesn't load, it doesn't prevent rest of the web page from loading.

I had moved all my bookmarks to some time back from Google Bookmarks for obvious reasons. Now, I am worried about my bookmarks in Why is no one complaining about this anywhere and why is yahoo taking so long to fix the problem?? I am totally clueless :(.

Update 1:
Just as i was posting the above post, my bookmarks got loaded after much difficulty. But the site is still damn slow and doesn't load for most of the time.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Wonderful live coverage by Ryan Block - Apple's iPhone SDK Press Release

Man.. this guy (Ryan Block from Engadget) did a great job of covering live, the Apple iPhone SDK Press Release.

I was following his post very closely all along. Ryan did a great job of posting quotes from the folks on stage. And more importantly, it had relevant photos.

Ryan, if you did this all alone.. then I really admire you. I must agree.. live coverage over a blog is really a skill.

Silverlight vs Flash - War for mobile web dominance

Microsoft (Silverlight) and Adobe (Flash) are trying desperately to push their respective technologies for developing RIA (Rich Internet Applications).

Both seem to be taking this further ahead to mobile devices. Recently, Microsoft had signed a deal with Nokia to integrate Silverlight on Nokia's latest S60 based smart phones.

Adobe though having a dominance in the PC space must be doubly worried after Steve's comments on why Flash may not suited for iPhone.

I found this post from Robert Scoble providing interesting insight on why Apple may feel that Flash is not good for iPhone. More than the article, I found the user comments more intreseting.

Also, it got clear to me from the user comments that Apple was trying to port Flash 8 (and not Flash Lite - stripped down version) onto the iPhone.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Did you know about Microsoft Works?!

At least I dint know until few minutes back.

I had bought a new laptop recently which had a trial version of MS Office 2007. The trial version could be used without registering for not more than 25 or so tries. I had only a few tries left and hence I did not want to use it for not-so-important stuff.

So I typed "word" in Vista's start menu (for those of you haven't used vista yet, you get a nice search bar in start menu which quickly lets you search of applications in the start menu). I was hoping to see wordpad.. but something else caught my eye. There was this application called "Microsoft Works Word Processor".

What the hell was that.. I clicked it open and it threw a license agreement which I had to agree. Initially it looked very similar to "Wordpad". I thought it was a to-be replacement for "Wordpad".

But as I explored it a bit, I learnt that it was much more powerful than "Wordpad". I was thrilled because I could possibly use it as a replacement for MS Office which I was planning to buy in a few days. I was still unclear and confused what Microsoft Works Word Processor was and why would Microsoft club a powerful utility with Windows Vista (potentially canibalizing MS Office).

Quickly looking into Wikipedia, I learnt that Microsoft Works is a stand-alone mini office suite aimed at mostly non-techy folks and students. Wow.. I dint know Microsoft had a mini version of office suite. The speciality of MS Works is supposed to be its affordable price. Here is what Wikipedia says about MS Works.

Microsoft Works is an office suite ("home productivity software suite") available from Microsoft. Smaller, less expensive with fewer features than the Microsoft Office suite, its core functionality includes a word processor, a spreadsheet and a database. Newer versions have a calendar application and a dictionary while older releases included a Terminal emulator. A 'Works Portfolio' utility offers Microsoft Binder-like functionality.
Now it made sense to me that my HP Laptop came pre-installed with the OEM version of Microsoft Works.
Due to its low cost ($50 retail, $10 OEMs) companies frequently pre-install Works on their consumer grade machines. Microsoft provides a converter for Office programs to open and save Works 6.0-9.0 documents.
Now, I searched for "works" and the search bar of vista start menu and now I got to see the entire suite of MS Works.

There is a word processor, spreadsheet, database, calender, a common place to launch all these and a office binder kind of application.

Coming to Microsoft Works Word Processor, I read in Wikipedia that I can still open MS Office files. Thats perfect. I am going to use MS Works Word Processor for now and see if it a worthy affordable replacement for MS Office.

You can take a nice Quick Tour about Microsoft Works that can be launched from Microsoft Works Task Launcher.

Update 1:
Microsoft Works Word Processor crashes consistently whenever I copy a web page's content and try to paste on Word Processor. Thats bad :(.. Very basic stuff that a word processor (that too from Microsoft) is supposed to take care of.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Gmail Tips: Reducing Spam with Email Alias

Well, I always want an option of creating alias for reducing spam. For example, if my mail id is then I also want an option to create an alias such as The idea is, whenever I need to provide an email id for subscribing/registering in any website, I can always use my email alias. And when I see that I am getting lot of spams for a particular alias, then I can just go ahead and delete it. My original mail id is still unknown to spammers.

I could never find any support for email alias in gmail.

Sometime back, I read this post from Amit, where he explains how to generate email alias in gmail.

From his post, what i learnt is that, all our gmail ids have 2 domain names, one is "" and other is "". For example, I would be having 2 mails address both pointing to my same gmail inbox - and

So the idea is that we can use one gmail id (for example, as an alias for our public domain and use the other one for close friends and family. Then I can filter mails from one of the mail domains and do whatever I want (archive it or delete it.. etc.)

But this concept is not useful when you want to have multiple aliases. Referring to Amit's earlier post, I found that we can have multiple aliases as well. All you need to do it that you add a '+' at the end of your gmail id followed by some meaningful tag. For example, if I want to subscribe to news alerts from The New York Times, then I would use an email alias such as this -

Gmail basically ignores any that comes after the '+' symbol (including it). But the search inside gmail is capable of detecting this '+' and the tag that follows it. So you can filter mails coming to a particular alias and take action accrodingly.

Also read through the comments on Amit's post and you can see other suggestions on how to create email aliases for gmail. Most of the users were suggesting that gmail basically ignores the dot '.' in the user id. So basically, is same as or So you can use this option also a way of creating aliases.

So go ahead and use email aliases and control the spam that comes to your inbox.

Note: Gmail in itself is good at detecting spam.

PS: is not my real mail id :).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Are you writing Java Apps for Android ? Maybe and Maybe not

Lot of people who are aware of Android think that they actually write mobile applications using Java. This is only partly correct.

What many people miss out is the fact Google Android uses ONLY Java Syntax. The java code that one develops for Android is converted in to standard Java bytecode. This again is converted in a different bytecode format (which Google claims that is an optimized, minimum memory footprint bytecode).

Basically, Android does not use a standard JVM (it uses a non-standard JVM called Dalvik) . The SDK also contains android.* packages apart from the usual java packages.

I found this post from Stefano Mazzocchi very interesting. He claims that the reason for Google using a non-standard JVM is not really for just optimization sake, but instead to get around any licensing issues with Sun for using J2ME. Wow! I never thought of that.

Its natural. If I were to run the Android project (instead of Andy Rubin), then I would start using J2ME as a preferred virtual machine for obvious reasons that we have a huge group of developers who can be readily moved/attracted to developing applications on Android. And then when it comes to licensing, I would think of someway to circumvent the problem and the one smart way is to make sure the final bytecode is not the same of the one generated by the standard java compiler. Thats exactly what Google engineers have done by developing Dalvik.

Other interesting links:

Changing blog's name

I am changing my blog's name from Xprezzions to Mohasin's Weblog.

"Xprezzions" is probably unique. But then again I thought I will change it to much more simpler.. and what could be more simpler than letting you know that its my blog :).

I would also be changing it for my mirror blog in wordpress.

The links to post and RSS feeds remain intact.

Update 1:

I have changed the blog name again to an unique name again. How about "Mind Internals" ? :). Sounds like OS Internals.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

HD DVD - Blu-Ray war finally coming to an end!!

Yes.. thats one of the important news in blogosphere. I followed this news in Reuters via Engadget.

Toshiba (with its HD DVD) and Sony (with its Blu-ray) have been fighting this war for the past 2 years or so, trying to win over production houses to establish their format supremacy.
I think, Sony has the brand name, might and game console (PS3 is also Blu-ray player) was able to slowly but surely is killing (consider it killed by now) HD DVD.Most the above new sources (including this story at claims that it was Wal-Mart's decision to stock only high-definition DVDs and player which are Blu-ray based, is what gave the final blow to Toshiba.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wow!! Android Phone is a reality!!

Wow... I read this news at about a Chinese company called E28 (haven't heard of it.. me neither) showcasing a real quad-band phone with wifi that runs on Android. Its available for sale.

Look at the video below to believe it :).

Android is going to give big mobile OS players like Symbian and Microsoft a run for their money. As I can see, smaller and unknown mobile phone manufacturers from around the world are going to benefit from open-source and freeware mobile phone operating system stacks. They will not have to worry about paying royalties/licensing fee for running a proprietary mobile operating system.

And last but not the least... WOW!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Videos about Android!!

I was surprised to find very good videos in Youtube explaining about Android. Most of these official videos could be found under the username androiddevelopers.

Here is my favorite video from Sergey Brin and Steve Borowitz where they give a nice demo of Android features.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Did you know that The Wall Street Journal was free from Google News!!

Wow!!.. never knew this.

But before.. Whenever I used open a WSJ article that was listed in Techmeme, it only used to give a abstract about the whole story. The WSJ page always says that I have to be a paid subscriber in order to access the whole story. For this reason, I never used to open a WSJ post from Techmeme.

Then I read this post by Danny Sullivan where he explores the options of accessing WSJ for free. Thats' where I came to know that clicking WSJ news listed in Google News actually fetches the entire article. As Danny points out, WSJ has a special provision/login/subscriber id for Google. Either Google should be paying WSJ for this or WSJ should be allowing Google to index its contents entirly in order to drive more traffic to its site.

Restoring web pages even after closing and opening Firefox!!

Gone are the days when you used to do a Ctrl+N and Shift+Ctrl+N to open a web page in a new window. I remember running out of space in the task bar and it was a frustrating thing about browsing.

Nowadays, Tabbed Browsing is a taken for granted feature. As far as I know, I had used it in the late 90's and early 2000 with NetCaptor (an IE Shell) and Opera. I always thought it was a cool feature that time. But I could not understand what took Microsoft so long to bring this into Internet Explorer (IE7 has this feature now). Also, Wikipedia agrees with this fact. In fact, one of the primary reasons why i had been using Opera was the tabbed browsing feature.

Then Opera came with another cool feature - Session Restoration (Please correct me if I am wrong about this.. because Opera is where I first saw this). Let me explain what "Session Restoration" means. Now that I have multiple tabs open, I don't have much time to read all the web pages. Nor do I want to bookmark them anywhere so that I could read them later. And I also have to shutdown my PC/Laptop. Now, this is where "Session Restoration" helps. If your browser supports "Session Restoration" then you can just go ahead and close it without worries. The next time you open your browser, it will open all the web pages that were open earlier in different tabs in the same order as before.

Cool isn't it!!.. But I had a problem with my Firefox.

Firefox would restore a session only when I kill Firefox forcibly from the task manager. But it wouldn't let me restore sessions whenever I close and open Firefox in a normal way. I remember.. whenever I wanted a session to be restored, I used to kill Firefox from the task manager. Funny and stupid isn't it. I used to curse Mozilla folks for not including such a nice feature.

But the fact is that Firefox does support session restoration ever since version 2. I got to know this when I was reading the features of Firefox 2. Man.. how dumb and lazy I am.. could have google'ed long time back to know if such a feature exist. At least, I could have read the feature list in

The point that I don't understand is that, why did Mozilla not enable this feature by default like Opera. One of the reasons as I could understand is that if Firefox has session restoration enabled by default, then the next time the user opens firefox, its going to load web pages that were already open. So Firefox will lose the up sell/opportunity to load Google's search page which is the default home page. And this means a lost opportunity to earn revenue out it.

Basically I am assuming here that Google pays Mozilla foundation for traffic which flows from the default home page (I am not sure if my assumption is correct.. but at least I read on the internet about the fact that Mozilla does earn revenue from the traffic that flows from the search box that is placed just next to the address bar).

Thats' fine. I thought I will have Session Restoration enabled in my Firefox browser. But it wasn't easy enabling it. The problem was that, I could not locate a setting/checkbox which would let me enable session restoration. I was searching for it for the past 15 mins and finally I came to a point where I thought I will give it up or start searching for it in the internet.

Then something told me that I should look at the default home page setting.. and Voila.. :) finally. Refer to the screenshot below. This is where you choose an option for restoring your previous session.

Guys at Mozilla.. this is one place where usability was not good.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Judgement Day ?

Oh.. don't worry.. I am neither John Conor nor am I Terminator Model TX-101 :)

I was referring to Michael Arrington's post where he says that today could be the day when the Yahoo board would be taking decision on the company's fate.

There are hundereds of post about the deal.. but very few post provide an interesting insight about the possible merger.. and this post is one of them.

I also found this post on PBS by Robert X. Cringely about this deal. The post is interesting because this is one of the few posts' which tells as to what led Yahoo! to its present sad state.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Opera Mobile 9.5 announced - But whats the big deal

Opera has announced the latest version of their Opera Mobile.

You can watch this guided tour of the Opera Mobile 9.5 user interface and features.

Now, most of you who have been using Opera browser on your phone should be confused between Opera Mini and Opera Mobile.

Opera Mini and Opera Mobile are different in many aspects. If you have been using Opera on your phone for a long time now, then you should be having Opera Mini.

Opera Mini is java based browser application, whereas Opera Mobile is written as a native application for a Symbian S60 or Windows Mobile operating system (Opera Mobile 9.5 also seems to be available for embedded linux).

An other difference is that Opera Mini uses an intermediate proxy server which converts the web pages to much lower sizes. Opera Mobile on the other hand directly downloads the web pages onto the mobile and then figures out a way to render it on the screen.

Last, but not the least.. Opera Mini is free, whereas, one needs to buy Opera Mobile.

Now, is it worth buying a browser for your phone. May be and May be not. I don't want to comment on it unless and until I try out the 30-day trial version of their previous version of Opera Mobile.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Google's Social Graph API - Making a social application really social!!

Google recently released a new web API called the Social Graph API.

Now, this I feel is really cool.. because it lets social networks "understand" eachother. Yes.. it lets social network only understand each other and NOT communicate with each other (thats what I have understood from their blog.. please correct me if i am wrong).

So, whats the big deal about social networks understanding eachother. Well, rather than me trying hard to explain to you.. i suggest you see this video below where this Google Engineer (Brad Fitzpatrick) explains very clear what this is all about.

If you don't have a good broadband connection, then please read this Google blog post on Social Graph API.

Would be great one day when social networks also talk to each other. But why would that happen.. if I were to develop a social network site, I would rather use the Social Graph API, the way it is today to invite more friends to my social network.

Social networking is the current vogue and it is no brainer that Google would want to ensure that social network related search is also taken care of.

Btw, I also found this post from Dare Obasanjo on his thoughts on Google Social Graph API. Who the hell is Dare Obasanjo.. :) ??!!

I just found out that he is product manager at Microsoft. Interesting to see a guy from Microsoft appreciating the useful of Google's social graph API.

What is more interesting is the fact that he is the son of former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo :)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Is Google getting scared about MSFT-YHOO deal ?

It sure looks that way :)

Here is Google's official statement about the proposed MSFT-YHOO deal. As you can see from the statement, Google is warning users of unethical and closed practices of Microsoft to creep into the internet world as well.

Could Microsoft now attempt to exert the same sort of inappropriate and illegal influence over the Internet that it did with the PC? While the Internet rewards competitive innovation, Microsoft has frequently sought to establish proprietary monopolies -- and then leverage its dominance into new, adjacent markets.
The statement also clearly tells you what Google is so scared about.. you guessed it - Email & IM.

In addition, Microsoft plus Yahoo! equals an overwhelming share of instant messaging and web email accounts. And between them, the two companies operate the two most heavily trafficked portals on the Internet. Could a combination of the two take advantage of a PC software monopoly to unfairly limit the ability of consumers to freely access competitors' email, IM, and web-based services? Policymakers around the world need to ask these questions -- and consumers deserve satisfying answers.
Now why would Microsoft keep quite when they see that Google is creating a negative PR for them. So here is Microsoft's official statement against Google. But its not entirely intended against Google. Also, the statement is a bit gentle.

Today, Google is the dominant search engine and advertising company on the Web. Google has amassed about 75 percent of paid search revenues worldwide and its share continues to grow. According to published reports, Google currently has more than 65 percent search query share in the U.S. and more than 85 percent in Europe. Microsoft and Yahoo! on the other hand have roughly 30 percent combined in the U.S. and approximately 10 percent combined in Europe.
Here is a post from Michael Arrington about Google's stand on the proposed deal.

Best Read on "The Making of iPhone"

One of my friends has shared an interesting article in his Google Reader. The shared post was that of a Slashdot user who was pointing to this article in Wired - The Untold Story: How the iPhone Blew up the wireless industry.

If was like reading a very short book on "The Making of iPhone". Very informative and very motivating.

The article talks about how iPhone was concieved by Jobs and how they struggled to make it into a reality.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Microsoft to take over Yahoo!!!

Wow!!.. This would be one hell of a merger. Microsoft gave a press release on its intent to buy Yahoo! for $44.6 billion ($31/share).

Think about the kind of services that Microsoft would be acquiring.. along with a huge customer base. Very good potential to upsell or promote Microsoft products and services.

As Long Zheng listed out.. there is a huge overlap of web services between Yahoo! and Microsoft. Would be interesting to see how Microsoft goes about consolidating these services if this acquisition becomes a relality.

Coming back to Microsoft's press release.. if you had read Steve Ballmer's letter to Yahoo Board of Directors, you can feel a threatening tone in it.. This is what the letter says:

Depending on the nature of your response, Microsoft reserves the right to pursue all necessary steps to ensure that Yahoo!’s shareholders are provided with the opportunity to realize the value inherent in our proposal.
And this how it translates to.. :)

Guys.. dont give a bullshit answer. If you don't want to be acquired, then we'll take it up with the shareholders.

You can get more insight about this news in this post in The New York Times.

My personal feeling is that.. Yahoo! is not doing very good. In fact, its dying slowly. It is better that it gets acquired by Microsoft.. better for the company and its shareholders.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tata Nano: World's Cheapest Car making news across the globe

Tata Motors unveiled the much awaited Rs. 1,00,000 (US$ 2500) car on January 9th, 2008 at Auto Expo 2008, New Delhi. The car has been called by names - "People's Car" and "1-Lakh Car". But officially, it is called as Tata Nano. :)

Tata Nano - Luxury Edition

You can read more about this car at Tata Motors' press release here. Search for "Tata Nano" in Google News and you will find reviews and photographs from lot of web sites.

What surprised me (also made me happy) is that the news of Tata Nano appeared in TechMeme (which is primarily as technology news site). and this story was run by The New York Times. Wow!!..

Tata Nano - Standard Edition - The 1-Lakh No-Frills Car

World must be surprised that India can make cars at US$ 2500.. without compromising on looks, safety and performance. (at least thats what Tata claims :) )

I liked this video below which is a collage from different channels like CNBC, CNN, ABC, etc. put together. (The video comes with its advertisements in between.. you would have to bear with that)

PS: Tata Motors was also in news yesterday for acquiring the Jaguar and Land Rover brands.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Finally buying a laptop - HP Pavilion DV6707US

I am finally buying a laptop after thinking a lot. I was not sure if I really needed a laptop. But I have a reason to get a laptop now. Nazia needs a laptop so that she can complete her pending office work (when it is there) either her parent's home or mine. So, primarily its going to be used by my wife.

I think this laptop is really good in terms of hardware configuration and features. Most of all.. very good value for money.

You can find more about this laptop in HP's product site.

Initially, I was planning to get a HCL Leaptop which is far less in terms of hardware configuration (only 1GB RAM and really bulky). And for which I would have to shell out approximately INR 35,000/- (US$ 875).

But HP Pavilion DV6707US is far better configuration and I would get it for US$729 (from Circuit City) or for US$755 (if I get it directly from HP).

My friend Sankar Dhanapal would be getting it for me today noon and Shafiq (who is my ED) will bring for me next week.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

WinXp License Question: Reinstalling Windows XP on a new PC or Hardware

I have a Genuine Windows XP Home Edition which I had got last year. You can read my earlier post (in wordpress blog) on this topic.

Now, I am planning to get a laptop for my wife, which has FreeDOS installed on it. So, I have been thinking of uninstalling Windows XP from my desktop (I will have linux alone on my desktop) and install Windows XP on the new laptop that I intend to buy. Basically, my wife cannot live without Windows and I can live happily with Linux (I occasionally use Windows.. I love it too.).

Now, I read it somewhere that Windows forms a complex key (called a Installation ID) using 10 different hardware components on the installed PC and then activates Windows using the same. The idea is to ensure that we do not install Windows on multiple PC (this is for a single license windows). So, I install the same Windows on a second PC, Microsoft can talk to second instance of Windows on the new PC and will come to know that its a different hardware.

So, I started wondering if uninstalling WinXP from my desktop and installing it again on Laptop would make Microsoft think that my Windows XP is a pirated version. I was worried if they would blacklist my genuine windows thinking it is actually a pirated one.

I started searching the net to find out if I can go ahead and transfer my Windows XP to a new hardware (laptop in my case) without any licensing issues.

Searching Google did not get me any relevant results. So, I thought let me chat with Microsoft Customer Support to get this answered.

This is what I asked Customer Support.
I have a doubt on windows xp license. Can I uninstall winxp from my old hardware and install it on a new PC. Will the license still be valid ?
And this is what the Customer Rep had to say.
Please note that, the End User License Agreement (EULA) for Windows XP stipulates that this software or product can be only installed on a single computer. If you wish to install it on a second computer, please purchase an additional license for Windows XP. However, you can uninstall it from the old Hard Drive and you can install it on new Harddrive without purchasing additional license.
The Rep also told me that.
I recommend that you contact Microsoft Product Activation Team at the following toll free number: (888) 571-2048. They are available 24 hours per day.
You see the entire chat conversation by clicking on the below image.

I also checked the Windows XP Product Activation page and this is what they have to say (refer the red colored font quoted below).

Product Activation Overview

Microsoft Product Activation is an anti-piracy technology designed to verify that software products have been legitimately licensed. This aims to reduce a form of piracy known as casual copying. Activation also helps protect against hard drive cloning. Activation is quick, simple, and unobtrusive, and it protects your privacy.

Product Activation works by verifying that a software program's product key has not been used on more personal computers than intended by the software's license. You must use the product key in order to install the software and then it is transformed into an installation ID number. You use an activation wizard to provide the installation ID number to Microsoft either through a secure transfer over the Internet, or by telephone. A confirmation ID is sent back to your machine to activate your product.

The installation ID number includes an encrypted form of the product ID and a hardware hash, or checksum. None of the information collected during product activation will be used to personally identify you. The confirmation ID is simply an unlocking code for the Windows XP installation on that particular PC.

If you overhaul your computer by replacing a substantial number of hardware components, it may appear to be a different PC. You may have to reactivate Windows XP. If this should occur, you can call the telephone number displayed on the activation screen to reactivate the software.

So basically, this answers my question.

You can reinstall WinXP on a new hardware (harddrive) after uninstalling the same from the old hardware (harddrive). I would be asked to reactivate Windows XP and I may be required to call Microsoft.