Trying out Windows Live Writer


Wanted to check if there are any good blogging tools and the Windows Essentials provides this Windows Live Writer. So trying this out.

Easy to include pictures, fonts and spacing. Got to see how it looks on once posted.

Here is how the window looks while editing:

image

Now let me post this…

DNS323 NAS harddisk upgrade.


I have been using a Home NAS product by Dlink (DNS323) for close to 3 years. It is rock solid and serves me well.

But, I keep running out of hard disk space. Initially i had 1TB (500+500). Then I upgraded one of the Disks to 1.5TB to have total 2TB.

And I have run out of space on that too!

So, just upgraded it to have total 3.5TB, by putting in a low power 2TB drive (consumes 50% less power).

The biggest challenge of all was transferring the existing data. DNS323 has no interface to transfer/backup contents between its two drives, though it supports an external USB drive. Had to pull out the drives and connect Hard disks (with EXT2 file systems) to a Linux system to get the job done fast.

Working well so far…

Sony & its deathwish.


In 80s and 90s, Sony was the brand I looked up to. They used to have the coolest techology, best designs and high reliability in all that they chose to produce. They used to be priced at a premium, but used to be worth the buy.

How things have changed!

Today, Sony products continue to be priced at a premium, but they certainly do not command that premium.

The user interfaces in most of their products is non-intutive. The quality is no where close to what it used to be (I have half a dozen head phones, camera and such at home to prove my case).

The last sony product I bought was their Reader PRS505. While it does its job and hasn’t died on me yet, it isn’t the best of the products out there!

When it is out of Battery, it just displays the last displayed page, and doesn’t respond at all. I’d have thought the product had died, if I hadn’t done extensive search on the web, and left it for recharge for a day, after a reset! How difficult would it have been for them to have an external light to show battery status?

Their software support for the library is atrocious. I use calibre instead of the one provided by sony. The positioning of the buttons on the reader are not very ideal either. A Year back, this seemed like a better deal than Kindle for the PDF support is better. Today, i’d blindly go with the iPad, when they support some multitasking.

I have many other products of Sony at home, one thing that stands out is the lousy user experience. If this company needs to survive (leave alone achieving the heights of 90s), then they need to reinvent their user interface skills.

Apple Monopoly?


Have been using more and more of Apple’s product in the past year or so, After owning various iPods for a long long time.

I like most of what apple has to offer, especially their breathtaking designs for their products. I had earlier used Mac for a brief while in late 90s and didn’t find them as much fun, now MacOS certainly is the best out there (Windows7 being close). The best thing I like about MacOS is the built in Time Machine, which makes sure I never loose data, or productive time.

However, I dislike the tightly held nature of some of Apples products. iPod is tightly coupled with iTunes (Never understood why!). No SD support in iPod or iPhone, why are they so scared of people adding their own memory?

iPad extends this further by not supporting certain third party products.

Ok.. They have good products, but why is it that Apple looks more and more the monopolist, and non-Apple products more open??!!

Blackrain & Blacksnow.


iPhone is tightly controlled by Apple and as with every digital device that restricts usage, iPhone gets hacked too. Each time Apple plugs a loophole Hackers find new ones.

3 Days ago, iPhone superhacker GeoHat (George Hotz) released a new hack to unlock the new baseband of iPhone (05.11.07) by name Blacksnow. He also created Blackrain earlier, the easiest jailbreak available for iPhone, which enables the use of non-apple approved software on iPhone. It hardly takes 30seconds to get rid of the locks (The older methods needed firmware changes, which were time consuming affairs). The one by GeoHat is so simple and brilliant.

Just goes to prove, locking mechanisms are just a nuisance that never really work. While companies may have business reasons to lock phones and restrict usage, it has rarely worked if the product is used by large enough number of people.

A good hacker can reverse engineer and figure a way to overcome such artificial locks. And typically this creates an subsidiary industry which thrives on breaking such locks.

Wonder if there isn’t a better way for business to be conducted than resorting to locks and other such restrictive measures.

Podfather…


Watched this lovely Documentary, ‘The Podfather’,  by BBC Four – about one of the Intel’s founder – Robert Noyce.

Noyce’s story reminded me of Malcolm Gladwell’s book – Outliers. Here is one more example of what Gladwell calls as a Outlier. Extraordinarily gifted individual  helped by freak co-incidences of life to position him perfectly to achieve extraordinary things. In noyce’s case, build something that created silicon valley and something that has made this whole new way of worlwide communication possible.

A must watch Documentary for Computer/Electronic enthusiasts.

Snow Leopard and Dlink NAS DNS323


An MacOS upgrade to Snow Leopard killed all the mapping to the home NAS server I had setup on Dlink DNS-323 NAS box.

Snow Leopard won’t let me connect to the NAS Box at all. The shares were fine, and I could access them from other systems.

I had fairly recent version of firmware for the NAS too. Some people had posted messages saying updating the firmware to 1.08 (which is a beta) solved this problem for them.

I wasn’t about to install a beta software on my NAS box.

I could map the volume if I took off the passwords to the shares, but that too wasn’t an acceptable solution.

After a few trial and error, I found a strange thing. If i set the passwords only as Numeric then SnowLeopard mounts it!

Haven’t figured why this should be so. It can’t be a protocol problem if it works fine with a numeric password.

Anyway, it works fine again, though I have to remount the network volume on three other home systems. 🙂

Mac Mini with Windows XP.


I hadn’t installed the Bootcamp and dual boot on the Mac Mini..The primary reason for my shift away from windows is to experience Mac fully, and having a dual boot would’ve tempted me to go back to windows for some common functions – When you have used an OS day in and day out for so long, you do get into a comfort zone and I needed to break that.

But, today I tried the bootcamp, and the experience was massively frustrating.

1. It just doesn’t feel the same. May be I am sort of used to Mac logic by now.

2.The ultra-cool Bluetooth Keyboard and the Mighty Mouse don’t feel the same with Windows XP. This is a major no no for me. I have come to love the small little Mac Keyboard, and can do everything I can do with the larger keyboards. But, with Windows, I miss many keys…  Ins/Del and so many other keys that Windows uses regularly. I do have a slim USB keyboard, but as I said, I might as well use my Regular PC.

3. While Windows zips through running on the Mac, there are some weird glitches. I had a bit of struggle to get the entire thing going. Getting the Bluetooth Kbd/Mouse wasn’t automatic, and when you switch on from ‘standby’  it takes a bit of time to recognize the keyboard, and it wasn’t recognizing the mouse at all. After a bit of messing around I figured it works only after you press the mouse once. This is not how it worked with OSX. Strange.

4. The Nvidia drivers and application messed up my screen and set it to 800×600 4bit mode. I wasted some half hour trying to figure what happened. Replacing the drivers didn’t work. I had to completely remove all drivers, reset the system and reinstall mac drivers from scratch. Ofcourse now it works.

5. Haven’t yet tried mounting the HFS but, apparently there is read support now with Snow Leopard. While that’s useful, I’d like to use the volume without the restriction. I think there are paid software, but don’t want to get there.

6. While I don’t like the Mighty mouse a lot, one nice thing I like is the side scrolling. And that isn’t supported under Windows.

7. I had put about 200GB for the Windows partition, but now I realize this isn’t useful at all. I think I’ll have to reinstall with perhaps a small 40-60GB partition, and use it in extreme circumstances only. Apparently Parallels can run a boot camp partitions within OSX. Perhaps that’s a better way to go. I was using virtual box, but, that’s not what I want.

Overall, I guess I’ll stick to OSX on Mac Mini. This system wasn’t meant to do Windows and it shows.

Any one who’s planning to buy a Mac Mini to do windows  –  Your money may be better spent on buying a regular PC (may be something like Dell Studio Hybrid, but then that’s not available in India as of  now).

Wonder what PC manufacturers are doing? Mac Mini has been around for 3 years now.. Not a single worthy competition!

————- LATE NIGHT UPDATE —————–

The Windows I had on Mac Mini Died. It is the Anti-virus I installed – AVAST, which works fine for me in all other windows system. Not even 24hrs of bootcamp and now It can only do safe boot, but every time I get back to regular boot it is hanging. And that does it for me. While I can retrieve this,  I don’t want waste time try to revive windows.  I’ll just throw this out and stick to having a virtual windows within Mac..

Sticking to Snow leopard is far easier and better! Perhaps I’ll give it one more try when Windows 7 is supported well on Mac Mini.

peacock's tail?


Do we all suffer from Peacock tail syndrome? A BBC program called “upgrade me” had an interesting proposition that people upgrade their gadgets (an other technology thingies) with the same psychological mind frame of a peacock.

You see, Peacock’s tail serves no purpose other than to show off during the courtship. Peacock by displaying a very well maintained long tail is making a statement – “look how strong I am”!!!

Being a tech junkie myself and having so many friends who are gadget junkies, I can’t help but wonder – Do we use all these gadgets like a peacock’s tail? A way of saying “look I am important because I have such a latest gadget”?

I can recognize such behavior all around us. People buying most expensive car that they can (or at time can’t) afford. People living in homes that are beyond their means. Wearing clothes which are patently “LOOK AT ME”.

But, tech?

Difficult to say. Most of my relatives (in fact almost all of them) can’t distinguish between an ordinary phone and a smart phone. They won’t care much about the complex web of protocols that makes internet happen, all they know is they have to click on Firefox to get somewhere.

How would you impress someone, with things they won’t understand?

Only other possibility is that I am trying to impress my peer group.. Could that be so?

The reality is almost always I am behind my peer group in most tech acquisition, and normally buy it after the ‘peak of expectations’ in gartner Hype Cycle. But, do others in my peer group trying to make a statement?

I don’t think so either. Most of the peer group I have are all technically savvy people who are genuinely interested in technology. They see use for  new technology and can think of so many things they can do with them that most others can’t.

So, if they bought a expensive designer phone (like Vertu mobiles), I’d say ‘yeah’ there goes the peacock tail.

Peacock’s tail is purely a biological farce. It has absolutely no use but as an attention grabber.But, almost all of the tech my friends buy are put to good use.

But, every so often I feel we do develop a variation of the syndrome – Like the iPhone I got. I have come to realize that I was just as happy with any other smart phone (having used Blackberry, Palm & Nokia). But, I still wanted iPhone. I don’t think the purpose was to show off to others as much as satisfy my own curiosity and tech lust.

Lesson:

The concept of peacock’s tail does hold a good lesson for a good software product design. It isn’t sufficient to design a product that does its job, it should also provide that extra something, that makes people want to own it.

Make people want to upgrade from the previous version, which already does almost everything they want to do. iPods and iPhones are nothing but just good examples of such terrific product designs.

They do offer fantastic tails to people like me, even though the ownership of these gadgets are impressing no one else but oneself. 🙂