Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reco Reqd - Film Negative/Positive Scanner

There are tons of photos lying at home - beginning 4 generations ago. Both positive and film negative. Want to digitize them. Any recommendations for good film negative/positive scanners? I could find a bunch on Amazon and Ebay, however haven't done enough background homework/research.

Alternately, if anyone has this in Chennai and can spare for a few days, I'd obviously be most thankful!

Home bandwidth monitoring - Linksys WRT54GL / DLink 502T

Internet connection at home is provided via DSL/PSTN connected to DLink 502T connected to Linksys WRT54GL v1.1.

Given some of my previous experiences regarding internet bandwidth at home (ref 1 & 2),
I need bandwidth monitoring software - one that gives me current upload/download information as well as historical trending information. Unfortunately neither DLink nor Linksys provide this in their official software/firmware.

Linksys WRT54GL firmware from Tomato, DD-WRT and OpenWRT all of these seem to provide bandwidth monitoring.

Incidentally, I chatted up Linksys support today. And while they were quite helpful and gracious, they didn't have any solution to this other than to state that this is supported only on 3rd party firmware, but running 3rd party firware will void warranty :) There was no option for them to take a feature request from customer. I'm sure this is a much required/requested feature for most customers who buy home broadband wireless routers. But without official support, it's kinda stuck.


Does anyone have any suggestions or good experience with any of these without having bricked their hardware? :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bill (or sms ?) shock - Matrix Cellular

I use Matrix Cellular services while traveling to the US. In general, I've been happy with their services (just that their billing collection cycle is abysmal). It's actually quite convenient to have a "local" mobile phone at hand in foreign shores. More so in a market like US where phones are locked to the networks and it's not easy to use your own phone there - irrespective of whether it's a quad/5 band.

In view of my recent US trip, I got an SMS a few days ago which said that I'd incurred a bill for Rs.27.7300 in view of my recent usage. I was shocked (understatement of the year) that it was Rs.277300, called up their customer care, registered a complaint, was assured that it will be looked into asap and I would get a call from concerned department in about 15-20 mins. Suffice to say that I never got that call.

And then I got another SMS yesterday which said that a bill worth Rs.27.73 is being dispatched to my residence.

See - Rs.27.7300 Vs Rs.27.73 !!

Now, I'm waiting for the bill to see what it is actually!

On this related note, the situation of US telecom industry where phones are locked to networks, just makes me think that we have the best possible situation in India - at least for now. There is however, a slow penetration of network locked phones coming up in the GSM space as well and it's always been there for CDMA.

My happiness with Indian market is notwithstanding the famous India 2G scam, albeit that is a sad story in itself, not to mention that it's like reading a thrilling novel!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Virtualization on mobile phones - 2 in 1 phones!

And I'm not talking about dual sim phones.

Virutalization is very well know in the world of computers - laptop, desktop, etc. Infact, I had some of my first trysts with it _years ago_ when I ran Red Hat Linux on my Microsoft Windows desktop using VMware. There's still a lot of evolution happening in that part of the world.

Now, here's something neat and surprising. LG & VMware are supposedly working together to create a new phone which will use virtualization to support 2 phones - for personal and office use - on a single physical phone. Will be interesting to see how this takes off!

Snippet:
LG and VMware have created a partnership intended to deliver a dual-profile mobile smartphone sometime in 2011. As a result, users should eventually be able to carry a single device that logically segments personal applications and data from work resources so that IT departments can manage and secure just the corporate “side” of the device.
...
VMware mobile middleware will create two virtual instances of a smartphone in one physical device.
...
The virtualized phones will have two phone numbers – personal and work. Presumably, the employee could receive an invoice for personal usage and the company could receive an invoice for corporate charges.
...

Monday, December 13, 2010

What are Indians searching for?

To see what has been capturing Indian's mind on the web, look no further than the ultimate oracle of search - Google.

http://www.google.com/intl/en/press/zeitgeist2010/regions/in.html

The lists - Fastest rising, Most popular, Faster rising people, Most popular movies, Most popular brands, Most popular how to - are interesting and so are the grpahs/charts.

A brief from their summary.

While the IRCTC (railway ticket booking) continues to top the charts of the year-on-year fastest rising bracket, some of the newer interesting entries this year are the low cost smart phone maker Micromax Mobiles and YouTube Videos. As the FIFA World Cup grabbed the real world attention, netizens too showed the excitement catching them online. Amongst the most popular on the web – Songs, Facebook and Google remain the top three. Amongst the fastest rising people, Indians searched for British actress Aruna Shields and this year’s new Bollywood sensation, Sonakshi Sinha. Other favorites from Bollywood were Zarine Khan, Katrina Kaif; and amongst the men, Salman Khan ruled the web.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Aritel Download Speed Test - Something fishy?

I tried out download speed tests and there's something I'm either missing or fishy.

Airtel & SpeedTest.net are indicating that my download speeds are at 2Mbps.

PCPitStop, DSLReports, TestMy.net are reporting that I'm at 0.2Mbps!

That's a whopping difference.

(PCPitStop, depending on the type of test, location of server, shows different results - this is probably truly representative of what can happen with others as well)

I can speculate some reasons why some of those appear faster than other, but when I tried download software (via browser, free download manager), it still remains at around 256kbps or .25Mbps.

See the results for yourself.

2Mbps speed results

speedtest.net speed

Airtel speed

0.2Mbps or ~256kbps speed results

DSLReport speed

PCPitStop speed

Airtel "Fair" Usage Tracking - "Broadband"

I'm on a 512kbps DSL "unlimited" download "broadband" plan which defaults to 256kbps after a certain amount of download (can't recollect the limit). Airtel is my service provider.

This month is the first time, I've come across the limits being applied. And the only thing that was of significant download size for the entire month was the linux Ubuntu download (about 700MB).

Initial Message
Airtel Usage Tracking

Message after "limits" were applied
Airtel Fair Usage Tracking


And to imagine that this comes @ ~Rs900 per month, makes me cringe at the "broadband" options that are available in India.

My next phone - looking always to the future :)

I've been tempted long enough. The first two are what are available in the Indian market now. While the others are those on the global list.
Samsung Galaxy S
HTC Desire
HTC Desire HD
IPhone 4
Nexus S

Thanks to the IPod Touch 4 that I got about a month ago, I'm quite impressed with the IPhone apps platform and the number of "useful" apps on it. Not sure how the android market stacks up to that for those apps that I seek now and possibly want in the future.

The Indian market unfortunately has no "real sale" even during peak holiday seasons for things such as these. Given that this is already year end and there are rumors about dual core mobile processors (from Samsung, Qualcomm, ARM, Intel) hitting the market in Q1 of 2011, I'm tempted to postpone the "always in the future" purchase decision. But then, there's also the thought that with more powerful processors, battery may be a bigger problem and hence possibly not worth it.

Let's see how this goes.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Sunday, December 05, 2010

How do I show ads between my posts? - Blogger Help

This one finally solved my previous problem.

How do I show ads between my posts? - Blogger Help

My blog posts were associated with a previous adsense account which I'd discontinued. Ads were not being displayed due to the non-existent account association.

BTW, I'm using the Chrome "Blog This" extension to create this post. It's more of a test post :)

Adsense - initial blues

Between my regular and humor blog, there's a difference in the way adsense works.

It works fine in my humor blog whereas on my regular blog, just the sidebar container works. The ad below the first post in main page doesn't come up, nor do individual posts show the ad beneath them. Not sure how feedburner is rendering those.

Could certainly use some help in figuring this one out.

Tata Docomo Prepaid - VAS "cheating"?

At the risk of making this blog sound like a "bitching note", here's another one of those "cheap tricks to make quick money" schemes in the market.

My dad has a Tata Docomo prepaid number. Last night he got the following sms notifcation.

"Hi! Your subscription to Tamil Regional Love Tips alert service will be renewed in next 72hrs & you will be charged Rs 30. To unsubscribe, call 155223 (Toll-free).
Sender: 54321
Message centre: +919032055002
Sent: 4-Dec-2010 19:15:23"

We were surprised to see this since he is pretty much loved by the family and doesn't need additional tips, that too from a commercial entity at this stage in life! :) Just to make it clear for those who are too innocent to understand the ironical remark, he never "subscribed" to the "service".

It took some effort in navigating their "Tol-free" number to skip past language selection menus, trying to figure out if the service was caller-tunes/sms/voice/data based, and finally unsubscribing to the service and confirming that more than 2/3 times at various levels with different prompts (press "1" to confirm, press "5" to confirm, press "9" to reconfirm" and so on). I bet they are relying on the fact that some poor soul who does indeed want to unsubscribe will be frustrated and give up and they can charge a couple of Rs till he figures out how to actually do it.

It just irks me that corporates, and that too famous ones like Tata, can stoop to such low levels and cheap tactics.

HP India Warranty - being "accommodating"

Further to the earlier problem about my laptop left speaker not working, the rectification required that the entire laptop bottom casing (with touchpad) be replaced. A 21-day valid quote for Rs.3,604/- was provided.

After a little bit of back and back and forth between HP, their local repair assistance Mahaelectronics and me, they "agree" to "consider" my request as a special case and have now indeed replaced the necessary part without any charge under warranty.

I'm now thankful to all those concerned that they did indeed have the wisdom (at least in hindsight) to take care of the request of a genuine long standing customer.

I do however sincerely believe that they do need to improve their support procedure with the following (quoting from my previous post).

1. The line of questioning of onsite support is misleading and bordering on cross questioning with an intent to find fault. It is just not downright ethical.
2. If there are known software which will void HP's warranty, they must provide audit software which will help customers chose, install and use right software on their computers.
3. Such information must also be provided during warranty purchase / activation. Afterall, I paid close to Rs.4000-5000 for annual warranty and that is by no means cheap money in India (or anywhere else).


Twice indeed has the warranty program saved my "skin". An earlier display problem which required replacing the entire display of my nx7400 at possibly Rs.15k-22k and now this. It's also neat that my warranty is an "onsite warranty" which means that they come down to my residence to take care of these issues and it saves me time and effort of taking it down to their service center.

So, if you do own an HP laptop, you may want to consider obtaining the warranty, notwithstanding such instances.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

HP India Warranty - Fraud or oversight or callousness - nx7400

The sound from my HP nx7400 laptop left speaker is distorted for quite some time now.

1. I have an onsite warranty and when I called up the support center today, they asked me if the problem was apparent across media (mp3) players.
2. When they asked what media players, I said itunes, winamp.
3. There was an "innocous question" whether it was also on VLC.
4. I said it was on all players, itunes, winamp, vlc, etc.
Immediately, the question was repeated, "does it also happen on VLC media player?"
5. When I said "Yes", the support person immediately jumped on this and said "If you use VLC, warranty is not available".

This is supposedly so since VLC can be run at 400% volume levels which can cause problems. While it doesn't mean that I have run at these (or lower) levels, mere presence of this software has voided warranty now.

While I somewhat agree with such company policies, I have few major issues with this.

1. The line of questioning of onsite support is misleading and bordering on cross questioning with an intent to find fault. It is just not downright ethical.
2. If there are known software which will void HP's warranty, they must provide audit software which will help customers chose, install and use right software on their computers.
3. Such information must also be provided during warranty purchase / activation. Afterall, I paid close to Rs.4000-5000 for annual warranty and that is by no means cheap money in India (or anywhere else).

I provided feedback to the customer support on point (2) above and was asked to get in touch with in.ced@hp.com to provide feedback about such improvements. I certainly will.

So, beware - of such - policies and software.

I feel quite cheated.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Google AdSense - 6 years later

For those who have followed this blog for long, I shied away from Google AdSense way back in Jan 2005 for those documented reasons.

I'm now reviving it, albeit I've not decided how I'll put the monetary part into use, if at all I do make anything :)

Obviously the technology would have come a long way from then on and it's interesting to note that further to their acquisition of Feedburner, they have made that integration quite easy as well.

Right now, one of the best URL's that I've ever had is for my humor blog via http://feeds.feedburner.com/humor and I believe I should do more justice to that blog as well!

And, did I say that my "inspiration" to turn on AdSense was my friend Krishnamoorthy - for reasons he best can guess :)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Kindle 3 WiFi, e-readers, touchscreen tablets

So, I got Kindle 3 WiFi for Krish, still to get to Chennai with it. I like the concept of e-readers, but I'm aghast at the prices at which books sell legally :) IMHO, many product prices do not take PPP into consideration and there are possibly some valid reasons for it as well in the context of "e-goods". However, they do lose out on a large market for this very reason as well.

Well, FWIW, I'm quite tempted with the concept of touchscreen tablet when compared to a plain e-reader. I'd like to gift one to my parents who'll appreciate the ease of using a touchscreen device when compared to a regular desktop/laptop. However, I'm also sure that I'd be hogging the device if that was the only touchscreen tablet device at home :)

Samsung Galaxy Tab with 7" touchscreen, camera, wifi and android is a step in right direction - however I'm not fully convinced about screen size. I'd rather take the ~10" Apple iPad - however that's still missing camera (front & back) and is also exorbitantly priced without an external/SD card storage mechanism. I'll probably wait for the next gen tablets to make entry into the market. Apple can be quite greedy at times - afterall the 16GB iPad sells at $500 while 64GB sells at $700. $200 difference for 48GB! But then, the Samsung Galaxy Tab at $600 isn't a very inspiring price either for a 7" device. There was mention of a $500 variant with just Wi-Fi, but I can't seem to find enough information on it on the net - they mostly talk about the 3G+WiFi variant.

I do like Krish's take that a reader like kindle without extra-ordinary capabilities will keep him less distracted and dedicated to the task of reading! I couldn't agree more :) Will be interesting to see how HTC Nook Color (Barnes & Noble) stands up against Kindle.

In the meanwhile, if any of the readers are interested in gifting me one (either the tablet or e-reader), thanks in advance :)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rediscovering Freedom - on the road

It's been close to 8 years since I gave up using a 2 wheeler actively (in fact I sold my bike in about a year or 2 since I got my first car in 2003 since I was sparingly using the bike). While I've always liked the comfort of driving an air-conditioned 4-wheeler, listening to my favorite music, the traffic hold-ups, no-parking-space issues always irritated me, not to mention the time that it would take to get from point A to B within any city in India.

Of late, I've started dropping the little one at school on a 2 wheeler (used to be the car earlier, moved to 2 wheeler to save time). Began with my dad's scooter with the little one sandwiched between dad (me) & mom. And then, I "upgraded" to using my friend's bike. Slowly have started using it for my regular travel as well - ended up buying a helmet for myself, backpack for travel to office, fork-lock for the vehicle (Yamaha RX 135 has a notorious side lock that's always prone to frequent breakage).

It's bliss now! Not sure how long this'll continue. Rains can be a spoil-sport. If you've been on Indian roads, you will know what I mean - both in terms of bliss and pain! :)

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Fund Raiser Program - 13-June-2010, 6.30pm - Musical Evening with Deva

My cousin who is running an orphanage called Surabi is organizing a fund raiser musical evening program (with Deva) this Sunday. In case you are interested in attending, please get in touch with the numbers noted below. Else kindly drop me a note and I can help co-ordinate.

Thanks for your support in advance.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Discovered TweetDeck recently

Discovered TweetDeck (for desktop) recently - kind of an answer to my earlier post asking for a social networking amalgamation.

The thing with all these "wonderful" tools (including Twitter, FB) is that their business model is unknown (not fully mature) at the moment.

And, while I've handed over to TweetDeck the keys to my LinkedIn, Facebook accounts, I'm still not ready/comfortable to hand them the Google keys.

Anyone have any feedback?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Falling in love all over again

Ok, I admit, I wanted a fancy headline :) I surely don't want to get in trouble with the home minister :)

My home laptop has had 512MB RAM for about 3 years now. A few days ago, I bought a Transcend 2GB DDR2 RAM, 667MHz @ about Rs.2750 and I'm just loving the response that the "old" piece of hardware is giving me now. Can't believe myself that the laptop can be so breezy and that a computer can be so much fun!

Am tempted to plonk one at my own cost into my all other machines as well - hint ;-)

Tata Docomo doesn't like money

As silly & stupid as it sounds, I'm quite inclined to believe that Tata & Docomo don't like to make money. I've been running around a few shops for a few days just to try and figure out how I can get some prepaid phones in the family converted to their new 45p/min plan. None of them in the shops know how to do it - maybe marketing is going overdrive without implementation on the ground.

Also, their damned website has no simple way for me to give them money! I can't just go online, pick a recharge/top-up amount, input a phone number and pay money via credit card/net banking transfer.

Am guessing the top honchos obviously don't eat their own dog food. Nor do their near & dear ones.

You can see I'm pretty pissed off. And, I'm not even getting into those other complaints about bad signal quality, calls not getting transferred across networks, etc!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Airtel redefines broadband as 512kbps, ping test fails

My friend Krish recently pointed to the fact that Airtel was doubling speeds. The original Airtel press release indicated that minimum default speed will be 512kbps going foward.

Now, I'm there @ 512kbps download speed as evidenced below. Yahoo!!!

As you can see the upload speeds aren't there yet, but that's still ok :)




Update:

Look at the ping test results. While I'm not fully sure of what the implications are yet, the line quality appears to be concerning (or maybe its a function of test time of day, server load, etc).

Now.


Grade D: Concerning. Most online applications will not perform well but should function is some capacity. Test to other servers to confirm.

Earlier.

Grade B: Very good! Your connection should work well for any Internet application. Some online games may not perform optimally.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weird Problem with Itunes - no podcasts for me

I remember that I didn't accept the Apple Itune Store Application Agreement (or something to that effect) while installing Itunes. As a result, I'm not able to see the podcast, movies, music tabs on Itunes. To understand what I mean, see my Itunes tab below.



See, it doesn't show the movies/music/podcasts tab. In fact there's no way I can subscribe to new podcasts from the podcast directory. Clicking the "podcasts directory" button takes me to the application store, not podcast directory!

No amount of uninstalling/reinstalling ITunes asks me that Licensing question nor does it bring on the movies/music/podcasts tab.

Does anyone know what I'm missing in getting this to work?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Google Buzz Black Magic?

Something strange is going on with Google Buzz. Everytime I login, I find that it lists 4 sites as "connected" for me.






When I try editing, I can find only 3, and when I save and exit, it becomes 3 for the time being, only to become 4 later.





Something certainly fishy or buggy!!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Postponing the inveitable?

Getting ready to cook rice - for the first time in life. Wish me luck! And pray I don't bring a fire engine down the road!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fiction books I'm reading

The list of fiction books I've read or am reading or interested in reading.

This list is on the sidebar of my blog as well.

Do you have a list? Where is your list?

Any site/list that helps share this in better format and helps exchange views/recommendations and find similar interests/books?

Google Storage, Picasa & Photos

Google provides additional storage of 20GB at a nominal $5/year (Rs.250) that is shared between Gmail, Picasa Web Albums and Google Docs. Sounds very tempting, especially given the amount of photos that I can have and can store, share. Considering lapping it up.

Do you have it? What do you think?

Currently I use Snapfish India for storing, sharing & printing my photos. At about Rs.3/photo, they are the probably the cheapest & best in India. They provide unlimited storage provided you print with them once in a year, which is something I do anyway.

However, my photo album application on the computer is undoubtedly Picasa. Just love the app. It has a "sync" feature between the app on desktop and PicasaWebAlbums, which can make life very easy. And, sharing photos via Picasa also provides options for recipients to download albums, etc.

FWIW, I may still continue to use Snapfish for printing photos once in a while.