Technology

Hunting for my next mobile phone

I want:

  • Brand: Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, HTC, BlackBerry
  • OS: Any except Windows Mobile (So HTC is almost out of question)!
  • WiFi
  • BlueTooth
  • Qwerty keypad
  • Screen: at least 3.5 inch
  • FM radio
  • 3G
  • Good quality camera with at least 3 Mega pixels and a Flash
  • Fast processor

At present I am using i-mate JAMin a rebranded HTC phone with Windows Mobile 5.0.

Windows Mobile sucks! The processor sucks! The combination is slow, the phone hangs often. There’s no querty keypad which I have found is must for a smartphone. It’s tedious typing emails or even SMS on the tiny on screen keypad. FM radio is something that I miss sorely from my Sony Eriscsson K750i. And 3G is round the corner, I would better get a 3G capable phone.

Nokia E90 is already out there but is expensive at 35K. Nokia E75 is another contender and is just out but it has an odler OS in Symbian S60. I am interested in Nokia N97 which is due in June. It has everything I want plus 32 GB in built memory and a 3.5 inch screen. The feature set is impressive. Lets wait and watch!

2pl.us – a URL shortening service with password protection

Just launched 2pl.us – a URL shortening service.

Why one more URL shortener?

Agree URL shorteners are dime a dozen. But we felt there was a need for one more. And 2plus has some unique benefits to offer.

Since its the latest one, there are one and two letter aliases available for grabs while most of the well established sites now generate aliases with 4 or more letters. At the moment 2plus generates the shortest URLs.

2plus also allows custom aliases, so if your favorite alias is not available on other sites, you can pick one here.

Then it has the unique ability to protect the shortened URLs with a password. You can share your private URLs only with a select few without worrying that someone may view it by simply typing a random string after http://2pl.us/.

Apart from this we some more exciting features coming up in the next few days. Below is a non-exhaustive list

Statistics – we are already tracking the hits on the URLs and are in the process of building a nice report of it.
Developer API – to integrate 2pl.us’s URL shortening abilities in applications.
Widgets for websites and blogs so that your users can quickly shortens URLs before posting them on the site.
Bookmarklets for browsers to shorten URLs instantly.

Do check out http://2pl.us

iPhone in India, is it for you?

Indian bloggers can’t have enough of the iPhone! Every blog that I’ve been reading regularly is talking about it and crying fowl over its pricing. iPhone is priced at 31K and 36K for 8Gb and 16Gb versions respectively. Apparently iPhone costs the most in India. People have been asking who’s going to buy it?

iPhone is an aspirational product. It is really an iPod with phone capabilities – a music player that can make and receive calls and has a web browser. Technically speaking it suffers with same kind of drawbacks as earlier versions of Windows Mobile. By pricing it at a premium, Apple is making sure that it remains a lifestyle product. May be Apple doesn’t want your average Indian IT professional buying it. An average IT/tech guy might go for a Nokia N series,Sony Ericsson P series, HTC or BlackBerry after comparing the features with iPhone. iPhone is not just a phone, its an experience. Apple products have always been about an experience and iPhone is no different. Users of lifestyle products are willing to a paying a premium for that experience, brand and that little exclusivity. What’s special in having a phone that everyone has? Unlike Microsoft, Apple doesn’t want to rule every desktop/pocket. It’s all about experience.

In the US and elsewhere things are a little different though. There carriers are subsidizing the iPhone because they have a large market of consumers of lifestyle products who don’t mind signing long term contracts for expensive data plans. In India very few people will be ready to do that. The fact that 85% of the subscribers are prepaid subscribers and lack of 3G networks only makes the matters worse. iPhone in India is no more than a music player with phone and we already have market flooded with such phones so Apple has decided to launch the product in premium segment targeting the top of the pyramid. Bottom of the pyramid is already overcrowded. I guess the reason why Apple decided to launch iPhone in India was to tap the gray market demand. Apple knows people are paying 25K+ for unlocked iPhones in the gray market, so why don’t sell an official premium and pocket those customers. Personally I’d rather buy an official (under warranty) phone at 31K instead of buying an unofficial(cracked-unlocked) phone for 25K. Apple could not have sold it for less than the gray market price. Apple is importing the phones in India legally and they have to pay applicable taxes and duties.

It’s clear that Apple isn’t in the game for market share, they are here for the mind share!

Firefox 3 is out – downlaod now!

Just saw that Firefox 3 is out. I tried to access Mozilla.com and firefox.com but it seems down because of the heavy traffic. I managed to download it from Downlaod.com.

Download Firefox 3.

The installation was fast, it checked my existing add-ons for compatibility and downloaded the updated versions of ones that were not compatible. I am still checking it out and will write a review after I use it for a few days.

Review of Compaq Presario V3749AU

As I mentioned in one of the earlier posts, I was comparing two notebooks and I decided to go for Compaq Presario V3749AU. It’s been a couple of days since I am using this new notebook of mine and here’s a little review of its performance so far.

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Standard specifications:

  • Processor: AMD Turion 64 X2 Dual-Core TL-60 2.0 GHz, 512 KB + 512 KB L2 Cache, Up to 1600 MHz system bus
  • OS: Windows Vista Home Basic
  • memory: 2048(2 x 1024 MB) MB DDR2 667 MHz
  • Maximum memory: Up to 4GB DDR2 memory
  • Hard disk: 160 GB SATA 5400 rpm
  • Optical drive: SuperMulti 8X DVD±R/RW with Double Layer Support
  • System features: 5-in-1 Card reader, 56K modem, Integrated Ethernet LAN,
  • Wireless capability: 802.11b/g WLAN, Bluetooth
  • Ports: 3 USB 2.0, VGA, RJ-11, RJ-45, TV-Out (S-video), Expansion Port 3, Headphone out, Microphone in, Firewire, Consumer IR, AC adapter
  • Expansion slots: One ExpressCard/54 slot (also supports ExpressCard/34)
  • Screen: 14.1″ WXGA High-Definition HP BrightView Widescreen Display
  • Max Display resolution: 1280 x 800
  • Video adapter: NVIDIA GeForce Go 7150M
  • Video RAM: Up to 799MB Total Available Graphics Memory
  • Speakers and microphone: Altec Lansing speakers
  • Keyboard: 101 key compatible keyboard with 1 Quick Launch Button
  • Pointing device: Touch Pad with On/Off button and dedicated vertical and horizontal Scroll Up/Down pad
  • Power supply type: 65 W AC Power Adapter
  • Weight: 2.45 kg
  • Dimensions (W x D x H): 33.4 cm (L) x 23.7 cm (W) x 2.6 cm (min H) / 3.9 cm (max H)
  • Warranty: 1 year, parts and labour
  • Price: Rs. 35,499/=
  • Purchased from: HyperCity – Malad, Mumbai.

The system comes with just a single partition, Windows Vista Home Basic and a host of HP software pre installed. Since there is no Driver and application recovery disk, you have to make system recovery disks yourself which takes up two DVDs. There was a folder on C: with all the installers for the all the pre installed software, that was handy because that way I can reinstall specific software in future. You should backup that folder on a DVD as well. I did.

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I wanted to install Windows Vista Business because I wanted to run IIS and all other Vista goodies like Windows Aero. The initial Windows experience index was 2.5, lower than what Microsoft recommends – 3.0. I noticed it was because the shared Video memory was only 64 MB, I went to BIOS and changed that to 128 MB – the maximum allowed and the score went up to 3.0. I installed Vista Business and was happy to find that Aero worked flawlessly. I am enjoying the Aero experience. :)Speed is good. Applications like Visual Studio and SQL Server Management Studio open quickly. It’s not blazing fast though. It’s on par or slightly better than my old Compaq Presario V4118AP which had a Pentium M 1.73 GHz processor. Graphics are certainly good, but I can feel a bit of jitteriness when I use Flip 3D to switch windows. I haven’t tried to install any games on it, but notebooks are not made for gaming for sure. The only game I have tried is Hearts and it runs slow on full screen mode with all the NVidia’s maximum quality settings.

The notebook is lightweight because of its 14.1″ screen. The keys are smooth and the touchpad is good. Integrated webcam is of good quality although its a VGA cam. The Cyberlink YouCam software that is included adds some nice lighting (or may be its in the cam itself) so images at night are also bright. The special thing about this notebook is the touch sensitive buttons for volume control. Mic and headphones jacks are in front instead of sides which is also a good idea. This notebook also doesn’t heat up much. May be because it has vents on the back and not underneath. This is a great improvement because my old notebook had vents on the belly and it used to heat up a lot when used on an uneven surface like a bed or lap because the vents would get blocked. That is not a problem with this one. Vents are behind where I can feel warm air being pushed out.

The collection of bundled software is very good. CyberLink OEM suit is included for all CD-DVD burning purposes. It has fairly good features and is comparable to Nero. CyberLink YouCam is the software for webcam which can also capture movies and snapshots. Adobe reader 8 and SQL Server 2005 express edition are also there. I don’t understand why SQL Server is included. That is something only developers will use! Anyway I liked it. A trial version of Office 2007 is also pre installed. It keeps asking you for registration key every time you run any application, and it won’t accept any keys I would enter! I am not sure which version was that but ultimately I had to install a fresh copy of Office 2007. A nice DVD player is also bundled called DVDPlay which also has a quick launch touch sensitive button. It starts automatically when you insert a movie DVD. Altec Lancing speakers have a good quality output as well.

Overall its a good notebook computer with a nice balance of performance and style. 2 Ghz, Dual Core, 64 bit processor and 2 GB of memory gives it a lot of power. NVidia’s graphics and included applications promise a good multimedia experience. It is small, lightweight and stylish. At Rs. 35500, it is one of the best budget notebook computers out there.

D-Link DWL-G122 driver for Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise

I installed Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise on a computer today and then tried to install D-Link DWL G122 USB WiFi adapter with the drivers that came with the adapter. It didn’t work. Searching for a driver on D-Link’s site turned futile because D-Link has since discontinued the product. Some search on Google and I came to know I can use driver for another adapter that uses same chip. I am not going in technical details – important thing is that you can use driver for D-Link WUA-1340 Win2K for DWL-G122 on Windows Server 2003.

You can download the driver from here.

Download driver version 1.30, plug in your DWL-G122 WiFi adapter and select the Win2K driver manually in the Found New Hardware wizard. Make sure you select driver for Win2K. Works perfectly for Win2K3 as well!

Buying a new notebook – Acer or Compaq?

I sold my 2 and a half year old Compaq 4118AP notebook. Its hinges were broken and battery was also worn out. The costs for repairing/replacing them was excessive – Rs. 7000 for battery and 4000 for battery. Instead of appending 11000 (approx. $275) on an old notebook, I thought it would be wise to sell it off and buy a new one since new ones are available for as low as 20000 Rupees ($500). SO I sold the old one and now I am looking for a new one. I have short listed two – Acer Aspire 4520 WXMi and Compaq Presario V3749AU. Both are AMD x64 Dual core and both have 2 GB of RAM and NVIDIA graphics. Something that I always wanted in my notebook. Although it won’t be able to run any latest games (I don’t want to either) it’s better than Intel’s on board graphics!

Now I am thinking which one to go for.

Acer one is bit cheaper at 34000($850) than Compaq one at 35500($887.5) but is better looking and has Dolby digital surround sound. The Compaq is bit faster than Acer. Below is the comparison chart of the features that I feel are important for me.

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The Acer wins in looks and multimedia with its Dolby sound and 0.3 MP web cam, the Compaq is better in terms of CPU (2 GHz as against 1.90 GHz) and better graphics chip. But the most important factor for me is Windows Experience Index. I wasn’t able to run Windows Aero on my last notebook because it had low end Intel onboard graphics. The Acer Aspire 4520 WXMi has Windows Experience Index of 3.0. I haven’t had a chance to see the same for Compaq Presario V3749AU. Microsoft recommends a score of 3 to run Windows Aero. Tomorrow I am going to buy one of them, and before finalizing I will check the Windows Experience Index. If both have the same index then I will go for Compaq. Computer maintenance Boynton Beach offers reliable repair, virus removal, data recovery services.

In fact when I am writing this post, I am thinking if both are going to be same then I should just select Compaq because it is better in terms of performance. With its specs Compaq one can sure not have a score below 3, so it looks like I have made up my mind!

Got my ubuntu CD

Well I am a Windows guy, but heard a lot about ubuntu of late so thought of giving it a try. I was amazed and surprised toknow that Canonical – ununtu’s owner company – sends out free CDs. SO I ordered one. Even Microsoft sends out free trial CDs of their software but you have to pay for the shipping. ubutu doesn’t cost anything. I just received my ubuntu 8.04 LTS server edition CD. I am yet to install it.

Software as a service – will it replace my desktop applications? I don’t think so.

For some time now Software as a service – SAAS in short – is generating a lot of buzz. People say its the future. In future you won’t have any desktop applications. Everything will be online, word processing, spreadsheet, entertainment, personal information management, CRM everything will be hosted online. People say Google’s online office applications like writely and Google Docs will replace MS Office. I do not think so. Make sure to get a recover data software to protect all your documents.

No matter how powerful the online applications become, they will always have to be accessed through a web browser, that means I will have to rely on FireFox or Internet Explorer to access anything. So executing however powerful and useful SAAS, is at the mercy of the browser. Then it also means every time I want to access any of my documents, I will have to be connected to the net and I will have to have a great bandwidth in order to get my document as fast as I can with a desktop app. Sure Internet bandwidth is improving but will they ever improve to the extent where I can open my document in a second like how MS office does?

Then what if I am in a plane and I want to access one of my files through my laptop or I want to create a PowerPoint presentation while I am in car? Will wireless Internet connection ever be as fast as a wired connection?

Then what technology will be used to build all the web apps? AJAX? Flash? How will you decide between grafana vs kibana? Whatever tech you use, it will have to be loaded in your browser every single time you want to access that app. This will mean wasted bandwidth because the same data is downloaded again and again. It also makes all the power of the latest processors chips useless. There is not much processing to be done left for the chip, all that is now used in my computer is the browser cache and the bandwidth.

The biggest issue with SAAS approach is speed. Sure, storing your word docs, Excel files on Internet makes them accessible form anywhere but I cannot have an icon on my desktop to open my daily used excel sheet. I can create a shortcut on the desktop that takes me directory to my online document but then every time I open that I will have to enter my login name and password. Surely my browser can remember that for me but again the document will not open as fast as it would on my computer within a desktop app.

Another issue is of privacy. How can I be sure that an employee of the company that hosts my docs is not reading my personal data? When I have something on my computer, I have full control over it. When I have my stuff on someone else’s servers, I can’t be very sure about who controls it.

Then there are certain apps which are very powerful to be created online with their complete feature set. Can you create Photoshop as SAAS? What about Auto CAD or Maya? Heck I haven’t even seen a complete replacement for Frontpage or dreamweaver in countless WYSWYG HTML editors out there.

Visit the following site for all your pdf solutions – www.sodapdf.com.

Speed, Performance and Privacy – these are the area where online apps will always fall behind the conventional desktop apps.

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