Saturday, February 07, 2009

iTouchberry

I now own a iTouch 16GB. I think it is the best MID/web-tablet currently in the market. Being a web-tablet was something which my N82 was failing at miserably. Though it had opera mini and a decent Webkit based browser, it just was not cutting it. But I did not want to get an iPhone because a) Its costly and b) It's costly..

A couple of days back, I read Steve Litchfield's blog on www.allaboutiphone.net about how he had combined the iTouch with the N82 to get the best of both worlds and that is when I realized that I was doing the same thing. My N82 has a great camera and the iPhone's 2.0 Mpx one does not even stand a chance against it. The iTouch has the best web browsing experience ever on a mobile device. But that again is not the best thing about it.

The best part of the iTouch is an application called NetNewsWire or rather the iphone application for the Newsgator RSS feed reader. It allows you to download RSS feeds to the iphone and then browse them offline. Think of it like a blackberry for RSS feeds. One can add new RSS feeds via the Newsgator website or the Feedgator desktop application. And there's more, the feed read/unread status gets synced between the three platforms.

Using the NetNewsWire application has been great for on-the-go catching up on news. I can now finish off most of my news during the morning commute. This would not have been possible on a EDGE/GPRS based connections. The UI is great to quickly dispatch off a couple hundred unread items and the feed-sync means when I login to my desktop once I reach office, I have the exact read/unread items. The iTouchberry is not only the best web-tablet but when combined with the NetNewsWire iPhone application, the best feed reader.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Kübler-Ross model for the IPhone India News

Here is how Apple fanboys reacted to to the Vodafone press release about the launch of the iPhone in India.

  • Denial : "How can this be happening to an Apple product ?"
  • Anger : "36K for the 16GB model? Are they crazy ?"
  • Bargaining : "Maybe if I take a personal loan I can buy it"
  • Depression : "This is too costly, I'll never own an iPhone."
  • Acceptance : "I dont need the iPhone. A phone should just be used to make calls."

The Kübler-Ross model.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

The Death of the Feed-Reader

Well what do you know ?! Two blog-posts in two days.

Have been thinking about this for sometime and thought it would be best to just get it out. I've used a lot of feed-readers in my (short) Web 2.0 life. I've used Liferea, Sage, Microsoft Outlook, Google Reader, Netvibes, Pageflakes, FeedDemon so I'm not looking for recommendations. What I'm more interested in is how Twitter (here we go again) has killed the classical feed-reader for me.

This is how I use Twitter as my feed-reader. On twitter I follow Slashdot, Ars Technica, Engadget and Techmeme and each time a new news item comes up on these sites it gets posted to my Twitter feed. Now I know I could possible roll my own RSS feed based on a combination of RSS feeds but doing it the "twitter-way" is more fun as I can get my (limited) social networking fix also. All in all it works out great. A combination of tweets and RSS items gives me the feel of the 'river of news'.

The other reason why I feel the classical feed-reader is dead is because of Techmeme which has changed the way I consume tech-news. If you are new to Techmeme go ahead and visit the site it's a great way to keep in touch with hat's hot at the moment in technology. Instead of having to peruse through 250+ blogs I just wait for the blogosphere to do it's job and bring the most important tech news to me. I then wait for Techmeme to post it on it's Twitter feed and then wait for TwitterFox to fetch it from my Twitter feed. In all quite a bit of abstractions but it's good as I do not need to have a RSS feed-reader open all the time.

Ofcourse I'm not following all the 250+ feeds on Twitter just the most important ones. For the rest of my feeds I still use FeedDemon which is perhaps the best RSS Feed-reader for Windows. The other reason why I've picked FeedDemon is because it has the best three-screen-play among the feed-readers. It has a desktop based client which is really really fast once you set it up with a few turbo-RSS-munching settings. It has a really simple, low-bandwidth mobile-version which till now has worked the best for my GPRS (!!) connection. And finally it has a passable web-based reader which can be used whenever I need to access my feeds from elsewhere. Also it syncs my read/unread items across all three platforms hence I dont need to suffer at the hands of data-reconsumption.

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Still Alive and Kicking

I guess this is it right ? Once someone posts a 'Still Alive and Kicking..' entry the blog is dead. Well that's what it looks like from here. I'm still regular at Twitter and if you are interested in following me then that's the place to catch me.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Free PDF Viewer for Windows

Logged into Windows to install a few security updates and update my laptop BIOS. Also ended up downloading a pdf file and found that I did not have Adobe Reader installed on this machine. Funny, as this laptop is close to a year old. Shows how much neglect Windows on my laptop gets.


Anyway, just wanted a lightweight PDF viewer and looked around on Wikipedia and saw that there is an excellent program called Sumatra PDF. It's based on libpoppler which is the same pdf rendering library that evince uses. Nifty!

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Cowon , now in india

My favourite MP3 player manufacturer, Cowon just started distributing it's hardware in India. Though I've never owned a Cowon product, I've been following them for nearly a year and my must-have MP3 player is the Cowon iAudio X5 60GB. To my surprise as I was browsing the official Cowon website, I came across the 'Where to Buy' link and (surprise, surprise), there was our dear Indian flag.


Here are the contact details if anyone needs them:
LipLap Systems Pvt. Ltd, A-213 , Virwani Industrial Estate, W.E Highway, Goregaon, Mumbai - 400063. Email : iaudio _at_ liplap _dot_ com.


Here is a detailed review of the MP3 player I'm interested in, iAudio X5 (60GB). It's a bit outdated player but still one of the most feature rich, non-DRM supporting, open-formats(Ogg) playing player which runs Linux (yay). Also it's fully hackable by installing the rockbox firmware. Liplap did seem to have the X5L which has better battery life but a bit thicker for around Rs.17,000


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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Bandipur : A tale of two bandhs

me decided to go to bandipur to visit the Bandipur National Park on Friday. Well this trip was even less planned than the dandeli one. Atleast for the dandeli one, I had an address, a telephone number and a name to look for when I got there. The Bandipur trip was totally chaotic from the word go.


Day 1 : Saturday March 31st
Started at 10:00 from Bangalore. When we landed at KGBS, heard that there was a strike in Tamilnadu and all outward buses to T.N were cancelled. Bandipur lies on the border of Karnataka and T.N and one needs to take an Ooty bus from Bangalore to reach there. Once we got the refund, we decided to take a bus to Mysore. Reached Mysore at 14:00 (blame the traffic), had lunch there and took a bus to Ooty (strange!). Bandipur is 18 KM from Ooty and around 13 KM from Gundlupet (the last place where IT-people can survive). Reached Bandipur at 17:00 and immediately took the mini-van jungle-safari.


The mini-van safari costs around Rs.75 and is recommended if you are on a shoestring budget or are travelling with a large crowd(15-20) in which case you can book the whole van for around Rs.3000 (will tell why this is a good thing later). The problem with the mini-van is that it's very very loud (animals in Africa can hear it), it's crowded (and hot), you'll have babies in the bus who can't stop crying and that everpresent jerk who thinks he's funny everytime he shouts "Look! TIGER!". Saw a bunch of peacocks, spotted deer and a elephant family which practiced "We 2, Our's 1".


Tusker


After the safari, we had a problem, No place to stay and it was getting dark, fast! We tried the forst department if they will have us for the night, but they just shooed us away. As luck might have it, the person manning the STD/ISD booth helped us out by giving us the contact info of a farm owner who might have a "room with a double bed". Seeing the sun go down, we had two options, take the offer or prepare to be scratched and mauled by local langur's. We took the safer option.


The farm house we were to go to was around a couple of kilometers from the national park. It's pretty close to Tuskar Trails, a pretty well known resort. The owner (?) of the farmhouse Mr.Shumalu was very kind and showed us to the room. It was nothing to talk about: a double-bed, a bulb and an attached bath. We took the room and cleaned up. I guess we were just lucky as all throughout the night, cars kept pulling up to the farmhouse asking if any room was available. The place is packed during weekends as people come in from Kerala and T.N to dirty up the place. We just got lucky in finding a place to sleep.


Day 2 : Sunday April 1st


Saw daybreak after a long time. Beautiful..


Dawn at bandipur


Was back at the Bandipur National park at 7:00. Not quite satisfied by the mini-van safari the previous day, we decided to take the Gypsy Safari. This has a bag of advantages. It's quite, the driver stops the vehicle when you want it to, your party is the only one in the vehicle and he will take detour's into the jungle rather than follow a tar road. Downside ? it's costly, around Rs.1750 per jeep (can accomodate 6 people).


Peococks in mating ritual


Moving into the internal parts of the jungle gives you the probability of catching a glimpse of shy wildlife. We saw a bunch of tiger pugmarks all around the place. Either we were late in spotting the tiger or it didn't want to be seen. At all times you have the feeling that a tiger is watching you from the tall grass which is prevalent in the jungle. Spotted a Malabar red squirrel which os pretty huge for a squirrel. We saw a bunch of sambar, it's strange how sambar look so meek in photos but if you get close to one you can really feel it's presence. The male sambar is almost as big as a horse and is a daunting sight as it leaps away at the faintest sound. Though the jeep safari is around 90 minutes long, the last half hour was kinda boring as it was almost 10:30 and was starting to get hot. No hope of any animal coming out of the coolness of the jungle to be photographed by a bunch of camera weilding IT folk.


We had plans of visiting Ganeshgudy Betta but couldn't find anyone to take us there. So by 11:00 we decided to start the journey back to Bangalore and boarded a Mysore bus.


A turn of events
When we got to Gundlupet, people were talking about riots in Bangalore and Mysore. When we got to Nanjangud, the bus stopped and we were told that all buses to Mysore have been cancelled due to bus/lorry burning on Mysore highways. Time is around 11:30. After a hour of sitting at the Nanjangud bus terminus and getting our nerves in order we decided enough was enough and decided to keep moving towards Bangalore.


Took a private van to Mysore. On the way to Mysore we saw the burnt vehicles being towed way. Reached Mysore at 14:00 to see large groups of people walking and the city almost shutdown. Most of the shops were half-closed. Immediately took the next bus to Bangalore and reached 'bang' safely at 18:00.


Will definitely visit Bandipur again, just to relive the travelling experience. There's something about mixing with the local population and eating, sleeping and commuting as one among them.


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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

LibraryThing.com

LibraryThing is my obsession of the day.


It's amazon.com done right the community way. Think of it like flickr but only books. You can search and add the books which you have read and found interesting and tag them. This way you make a book-list of yourself. You can see mine here.


Once you do that you can discuss with the community which liked that book and see what other people have to say about it. Members can also write mini-reviews and rate the book.


You can also view the Zietgiest to see what are the top books and what books are reviewed most.


LibraryThing has exploded in the online scene and they have already surpassed Amazon in the number of tags. Also, like in flickr they also have communities for books where members can discuss books which gives it a book-club like feel. Here's the Green Dragon community for Tolkien, it's the largest and the most active community. Go Join!


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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Songbird 0.2.X

I'm revisiting Songbird after a considerable break and what I have to report is very encouraging. First, there are now linux builds available (YAY!) so it's on it's way to become the iTunes of the Linux desktop.


Second, there is now a URL bar so setting the proxy values though is slightly shady is now possible without having to hunt down files in the mozilla profile directory. Songbird is really a great example of what can be done with Gecko using xulrunner.


The software is pretty neat in what it can do. You can browse Music blogs, listen to online radio and even play your local media files. Not sure what are the underlying codecs but I think it's VLC. It also has inbuilt search with a bunch of options ranging from Google/Yahoo to Music based domain search engines. And yes, Creative Commons is there too.


At the end of the day though this is just a browser so it can also function as your default browser though there doesn't seem to be support for tabs :( which would have been interesting as I can then consider it as a 2-in-1 application and take firefox off my desktop-app list.


Still, Songbird is definitely worth a try for those who are on the continuous search for the one-true-media-player.


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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Twitish

I'm a huge twitter fan and it has even replaced Blogger as my prime blogging outlet.


Twitter has an API. The access methods is REST (of which I'm a huge fan) and the data obtained is in XML or JSON format. I'm a JSON newb so I picked the XML methods and came up with a REST based CLI shell for twitter called twitish.


You can download and use twitish. Will also put it up on the twitter wiki.


It's written in Perl and hence you will need that. It runs on Linux and might run on Cygwin and Windows. It also needs the following perl modules.


You can install the above modules using CPAN or from your Linux distro's repositories. The XML::Liberal is a very rarely used module in distro's so you might need to compile it.


Once you have those modules installed, you can start interacting with Twitter through the command line shell. It supports only three commands.

  • post will post a message to twitter. Something like "post Hi from twitish" will post "Hi from twitish" to your twitter-stream.
  • updates will print the last 10 updates made my you and your friends.
  • public will print the last 10 updates made by the general Twitter junta aka the Public Timeline.


Will add mode functionality soon. Also you will need to change some code in the twitish.pl file. Just replace "XXXXXX" with your username(e-mail) and "YYYYYY" with your password.


Have fun and do drop in your comments.


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Monday, January 15, 2007

IJCAI 2007

I was in Hyderabad the whole of last week attending the 20th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence or IJCAI-07 in short. This was perhaps the biggest conference held in India which I've attended, but I've also not attended many conferences.


I restricted myself to only Machine Learning and Data Mining talks and some of them were really interesting. Was able to take-away a lot from the papers presented at the conference. The Tutorials and the Workshops were the best part of the conference as that's where most of the learning was done. I did go into uncharted territory once with "Intelligent Agents" , just to learn something new. The presenter , Hiranmay Ghosh from TCS did an excellent job of introducing Intelligent Agents and Multi-Agent Systems in about 3 hours.


Lot's of new idea's to take away from the conference and met a bunch of exciting people from academia who were surprised to see people from the IT industry interested in A.I. Photos are up on flickr.


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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Blogger Custom Domains

I'm now using Blogger's Custom Domain service to map my domain 'toufeeq.net' with my blogspot blog. If you are a Blogger-user you can make use of it too.

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Wikiasari - Wikia Search project

Wikia is launching a Wikipedia based search service. Though the service will only launch early next year, the project homepage has this to say :
Search is part of the fundamental infrastructure of the Internet. And, it is currently broken.
Amen!


Nowadays I notice that almost 70% of my search queries end up at Wikipedia. Why shouldn't there be a we just bypass Google. Also wikipedia's references on a particular topic are peer-reviewed and on-topic so not only do I get an explanation of what I’m looking for but I also get the best references and not have top bother “screening” Google search results. Is this the dawn of the real Web 3.0 ?


Wikiasari is also based on Lucene/Nutch which is a Open Source search engine. Right now, the only way to keep an eye on developments of the Wikiasari project is to join the mailing list. I'm already in.


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Thursday, December 21, 2006

HiPC 2006

I was away attending HiPC 2006 for the last three days. It was a nice conference, small and very focussed on the Supercomputing and High Performance Computing industry. It was also a chance for me get back to my Beowulf/Clustering roots, something which I've not been in touch for the last two years. Suffice to say nothing much has changed in the field. The only major development is the use of multi-core CPU's int eh field which should have some very good effects.


This was an opportunity for me to sit down with hari to discuss some virtualization ideas which I had filed away for some time. I should really dedicate some time from weekends for Xen and VMS. Also got a chance to meet old buddies from ILUGC, students from CEG who were there for HiPC and presenting posters.
Photos are up on flickr.


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Friday, December 08, 2006

Alex Martelli - Highly-technical Management of Software Development

Heard an excellent podcast from OpenSource Conversations yesterday and thought I would share with all. This was a talk given at OSCON 2006 by Alex Martelli of Google wherein he talks about software development/engineering methodologies followed at Google.


He starts of by talking about what strategic technical managers are and what are their roles and then moves on to the defining what are good programmers and how the technical-manager can get the most from his development team. He also talks about synergy among developers and how to get over day-to-day hurdles which one faces in the working environment. He finally concludes by listing the merits of Agile development practices.


Definitely a must-hear.


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