Microsoft Patents Page Up/Page Down functionality.

Microsoft had applied for and has received a patent (U.S. Patent #7,415,666) that essentially patents “Page Up/Page Down” functionality in any application.

This has to be the joke of the week, if not the century ! Microsoft had applied for and has received a patent (U.S. Patent #7,415,666) that essentially patents “Page Up/Page Down” functionality in any application.

I seriously believe the patent system is absolutely screwed up. I think this is another reason why software patents are a bad idea. From the filing:

Method and system for navigating paginated content in page-based increments

A method and system in a document viewer for scrolling a substantially exact increment in a document, such as one page, regardless of whether the zoom is such that some, all or one page is currently being viewed. In one implementation, pressing a Page Down or Page Up keyboard key/button allows a user to begin at any starting vertical location within a page, and navigate to that same location on the next or previous page.

For example, if a user is viewing a page starting in a viewing area from the middle of that page and ending at the bottom, a Page Down command will cause the next page to be shown in the viewing area starting at the middle of the next page and ending at the bottom of the next page. Similar behavior occurs when there is more than one column of pages being displayed in a row.

ADrive.com tempts with 50GB of free Online Storage

ADrive is yet another startup offering it’s users 50GB of free online “Cloud” Based storage.

ADrive is yet another startup offering it’s users 50GB of free online “Cloud” Based storage. I don’t know if the “Cloud” based part has any relevance here or not, but it sure makes their homepage buzzword compliant.

Unlike wua.la, though, which I covered a while back, Adrive is not any different from the other storage startups out there. What is different is the amount of storage they’re offering.

Most companies these days offer anywhere from 1GB to 5GB to start with for free and then charge more for extra storage. This is called the freemium model. And the model has been working well for a lot of companies, since it is quite easy to run out of 1GB and then ask the user for money once he/she is locked down.

But Adrive is offering it’s users 50GB. That’s a lot of storage by any standards. I have about 4GB of photographs which I need to store, another 20GB of songs and videos and 1 or 2GB of other data. Even, after all this I’m still well under my 50GB limit. I really wonder how are they going to convert free users to the paid model. And they backup all data for even the free account. So, I don’t need to pay to even get my data backed up.

Are services like ssl/webdav really that big a deal that an average user will pay for them ? I don’t think so. My only requirement is that a service should backup my data and Adrive does that. And I don’t mind seeing advertisements to get that much free storage. Infact, show me more ads and give me more space 🙂 Gmail already shows me ads for all the convenience it gives and, trust me, gmail has much more of my sensitive data than Adrive can ever hope to get.

I would really like Adrive to succeed and keep the 50GB limit intact, but I doubt it will.

Has Ubuntu lost it's relevance – Why does it suck so much !

Ubuntu has long been the darling of the media, or at least the small number of people who actually cover Linux and related technologies. And I haven’t read anything but good things about it … until recently. Has Ubuntu lost it’s charm as the “Linux for human beings” ? Are there other contenders for the human linux title now ?

A small but growing number of users are being vocal about the fact that even after more than 5 years in the market, Ubuntu has still not been able to fulfill their promise of a Linux system which normal human beings can use.

Ubuntu has long been the darling of the media, or at least the small number of people who actually cover Linux and related technologies. And I haven’t read anything but good things about it … until recently. Has Ubuntu lost it’s charm as the “Linux for human beings” ? Are there other contenders for the human linux title now ?

A small but growing number of users are being vocal about the fact that even after more than 5 years in the market, Ubuntu has still not been able to fulfill their promise of a Linux system which normal human beings can use.

I’ve been an Ubuntu user since the last 3 years and have actually been quite happy with it. Except for small annoyances, Ubuntu had been serving me well … until recently. Because of all the problems I’d been having with it, I removed Ubuntu 8.04 from my notebook last week and have now moved back to Debian, which I used to use before I got into Ubuntu. I have to say this. The latest version of Ubuntu just plain sucks ! I’ll repeat it again. Ubuntu 8.04 sucks. And no I’m not going to upgrade to Ubuntu 8.10, 9.04, 9.10 LTS or whatever it is that they decide to name it next.

I’m not off Linux and I’m certainly not getting on to Windows. I’m off any distribution which makes me relearn everything that I’ve learnt in the last 9 years. I’m against Ubuntu because it doesn’t help me configure my graphics cards any better, and instead makes me search for well known configuration files by wandering around obscure directories because the file locations have been changed in the name of evolution.

I’m off Ubuntu because I don’t want to configure the wifi card (which was anyway a pain to configure in the first place … but that crib’s for another day) again just because I decided to update my operating system. Which is what happens to me each and everytime a major upgrade comes through … which, for Ubuntu, is almost every week.

The updates, btw, include kernel upgrades, which force me to reboot. In the two months that I had Ubuntu 8.04 for, I already had about 5 kernel upgrades in my grub.conf. I mean, seriously, if 8.04 wasn’t ready, why did they have to release it !

I don’t even understand who are they trying to compete with. Microsoft, updates their flagship operating system once in like 5 years. Apple does it once in a maximum of two years. And Ubuntu … every 6 months.

Now, to be fair, I’ve been a Linux user for the last 9 years and have been hand editing configuration files all along and have no problems with it. But, my mom can’t edit configuration files. And when a distribution claims what Ubuntu claims, I expect it to be good. And that makes me crib.

Infact, the next time a friend comes along asking me about Ubuntu, I’ll tell him to install Debian instead. Sure, it’ll take a while to configure but atleast it won’t be a hassle to maintain after that. A Debian server that I installed 6 years ago is still running along with the latest updates. Sure, it has been rebooted a couple of times but atleast I haven’t had a hardware fail on me because the latest update decided to not include the particular driver.

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Update: Iam Murdock wrote two blog posts on similar lines and those pretty much summarise my reasons for leaving Ubuntu. I welcome your comments on my thoughts but please understand that this is a personal decision. If you guys are happy with what Canonical and Ubuntu are doing, all power to you. If not, switch. You have the freedom to make your choice.

Shelfari has been acquired by Amazon

Today’s big news of the day is that Shelfari, the social network for book addicts, has been acquired by Amazon.

Today’s (or rather yesterday’s) big news of the day is that Shelfari, the social network for book addicts, has been acquired by Amazon. Now, I’m not a big fan of Shelfari, but I know a big news when I see one. I have an account at the service and did add a book to my shelf to see how the thing works, but haven’t been on the site for long enough to really use it. But, thats mostly because I’m lazy and I have no friends on the site.

I can, though, definitely understand the significance of Shelfari. I love books myself and love getting recommendations and much more likely to read a book I’ve seen on a friend’s book shelf than at a random store. But, I’m sure a lot of book lovers joining Shelfari had the same problems that I had. We’re just too lazy to list down the books we own, have read or are reading.

Hopefully, being a part of Amazon will help Shelfari solve that problem. Amazon has the users and their data and Shelfari has the social platform. Together, they sure can create magic, and get lazy bums like me on to their side.

I’m really hoping that the site does well.

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Digg vs. Stumbleupon and which one do I prefer

which one do you prefer ?

Digg and Stumbleupon are two social bookmarking sites that every blogger should care about. Both the sites allow a visitor to bookmark your site and share the link with other potential visitors. Both, follow a ranking system and getting a good rank on any of the two would ensure a huge surge in traffic. But, the question is how relevant is the traffic ?

I’ll admit that I’m not a social bookmarking fanatic. My favourite bookmarking site is del.icio.us, and I’ve only recently started using digg and stumbleupon. I use del.icio.us as an extension on the bookmarks in my browser. Infact, these days I use del.icio.us as a replacement for the local browser bookmarks and I love their tagging feature.

A lot of web publishers I know have been focusing all their energy on getting to the top page of digg. My opinion is that while digg will definitely get you a lot of visitors for a while, the digg effect doesn’t last long enough to make any significant contribution to your readerbase. Stumbleupon, on the other hand, in my opinion, has a much longer term effect. It is like advertising your property in a local daily vs. taking out an online advertisement on craigslist etc. Well, not really, but you get the drift.

The difference between digg and stumbleupon is  that while most digg users rarely venture beyond the homepage, stumbleupon suggests users links based on their interest. Since, the links are based on the readers’ interest, there is a much greater chance of the visitor becoming a regular reader of your blog/website than a user who came via digg.

Of course, the content also is useful, but in my opinion, its much easier to fool *game* digg than stumbleupon.

In the end, if you’re a new web publisher, exploit digg, but also make your way through stumbleupon and continue serving both the communities for a while. The occassional digg traffic is good but the continuous and rewarding stumbleupon traffic is what you should really aim for.

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5 Firefox Extensions I can't live without

Firefox supports extensions to the base browser which extend the functionality of the browser many times.

Firefox is the darling of the tech world. Ask any geek, which browser he or she uses and chances are the answer will be Firefox.

What makes Firefox so Interesting ?

The success of firefox among geeks is probably due to the fact that it is an open source project and consequently more secure than Internet Explorer. But there is another reason why regular people like you and I love Firefox. Extensions, AddOns, Plugins. Firefox supports extensions to the base browser which extend the functionality of the browser many times.

Most of these extensions perform small but important tasks which are better performed outside the browser. In this post I am going to look at 5 extensions that I use absolutely cannot live without. Infact, these extensions are the first things I install on a computer whenever I install firefox.

Continue reading “5 Firefox Extensions I can't live without”

iterasi helps you archive the web

iterasi is an interesting service. It is something of a cross between del.icio.us and the Internet wayback machine. iterasi lets the user bookmark a web page but instead of saving just the web page’s address, it saves the whole page.

The advantage that iterasi brings for its users is that even if the original website is down, the user can still view the information since iterasi saves the complete web page intact with all formatting.

Another very interesting feature is that you can schedule iterasi to save a copy of a web page at a defined interval. So, you can actually have your very own Internet wayback archive and see how a particular page changes during the course of a couple of days or months.

The company provides plugins for Internet explorer and Firefox on Windows and Firefox on Mac OS X to let you take snapshots of pages easily.

iterasi also lets you share the saved webpages with friends and family using Email, RSS or embed the pages on your blog/website by inserting a small piece of code that iterasi provides.

All in all, iterasi could prove to be a very useful service for some people. I can definitely see myself using it.

Wuala – Free and Simple Online Social Storage

Wua.la social storage

Move over Box.net, Mozy and Xdrive, Wuala is here ! Those were exactly the words in my mind when I first heard about Wua.la a couple of months back. Back then, it was in a closed beta and I couldn’t try the service. Well, Wua.la is open to the public now and, boy, am I glad !

Wua.la is basically an online storage service. In that sense, it is no different than Box.net, Mozy or Xdrive. What makes it different is the social aspect of it.

Wuala is storage based on p2p technology. Each and every file that you store is broken down into several pieces and each piece is then stored (encrypted, of course) on wuala’s servers and also replicated on some of the other machines connected to the wuala network at any given time. Wuala’s servers keep track of the various bits of the file. The Wuala FAQ explains the technology as:

Wuala is based on a novel technology that we have researched for the most part at ETH Zurich. In addition to servers, Wuala can harness idle resources provided by participating computers. All data is first encrypted and then split into fragments which are redundantly stored on our servers and in the grid network. This allows us to save costs for downloads (bandwidth, electrical power) and thus to provide a better service for free, with a number of advantages that others just can’t offer: unlimited traffic, no file size limits, fast downloads, and so on.

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iPhone 3G in India – Vodafone and Airtel

IPHONE 3G

So, Vodafone is finally ready to launch the iPhone 3G in India. Vodafone in an SMS to all their customers announced this yesterday.

We are delighted to announce that the iPhone 3G will be available in India from August 22, 2008
It will be available in 8GB & 16GB models, priced at Rs 31,000 and Rs 36,100 respectively.

INR 31000 equals approximately $600 and I think that’s quite steep and at this price there are a lot of other alternatives available in the market. But, what do I know. Fanboys will be fanboys. I’m sure the first batch of iPhones will be a sellout and Apple will be happily adding lots more money to their account.

Things to do in Bangkok

Bangkok is a big and bustling metropolis and, for a first time traveller, it can actually get a bit overwhelming to take in all that the city has to offer.

 

Bangkok is a big and bustling metropolis and, for a first time traveller, it can actually get a bit overwhelming to take in all that the city has to offer.

The monuments, the Wats, the markets and the sheer grandiose of the (appropriately named) grand palace can leave even the most hardened travellers spellbound.

Of course, the humid weather, the traffic and the pollution does take some sheen away out of the whole experience, but that shouldn’t really stop anyone from experiencing this beautiful city in all its glory.

Bangkok has something for everyone to offer. If you’re interested in historical monuments, head straight to the Grand Palace. If you’re the religious type, start with the Wat Po and follow your instincts from there on. There is a shrine at practically every corner in Bangkok. If you’re in Bangkok for shopping, head straight to either the Jatujak/Chatuchak/JJ weekend market, Pratunam market or the various malls surrounding the Siam square. If you’re in Bangkok for pleasures of the more sinister kind, Bangkok will still not disappoint you, although you won’t get much help from me 🙂 Hint: Ask around for the Silom area of Bangkok 😉

Don’t let the traffic and the pollution stop you from enjoying this beautiful city. Bangkok is a very easy city to move around in, if you know how. I’ve written a post earlier on using the BTS in Bangkok and that should be of some help, I hope. In this post I’d like to lay out a short and sweet 5 day itenerary for anyone new to Bangkok. I hope that by the end of the 5 days you’d be able to see and love Bangkok the way I did.

Day 1: Arrive at Suvarnbhumi International Airport. Reach your hotel. Spend the rest of the day at leisure, exploring the areas close to your hotel.

Day 2: I hope you’re staying close to the BTS (Skytrain), as that is by far the most convenient way to travel in Bangkok. Take the BTS to the Siam square station. Enter one of the malls and spend some time lazing around. Eat some nice thai food and the MBK mall’s food court. Chat with some local shopkeepers about things to do in Bangkok and for directions to the Grand Palace as you’ll be visiting that the next day.

Day 3: Take a taxi/river ferry/Tuk tuk to the grand palace. Don’t listen (or even look at) any tout/agent standing outside the grand palace. The agents will most probably tell you that the palace is closed for the day and offer to take you around some other attractions for a small fee. The grand palace and the Wat Po next door is never closed. NEVER. Walk in, take your ticket and spend the next couple of hours admiring the palace. Come out and walk to the Wat Po (If you’re lost, ask for directions from a tourist, since you will never be able to make tell if an official looking guard standing at the entrance is actually a guard or an tout dressed  like one.

The “Grand Palace is closed” scam is probably the biggest in Bangkok and all tourists invariably get hit by it. Just don’t listen to the touts and keep walking towards your destination, even if they sound and look angry.

A tip: Start your day early since afternoons are hot in Bangkok.

If you followed the earlier tip, you would be done seeing the attractions around this part by afternoon. Take your lunch at the small open air market next to the Grand Palace river pier. After lunch, you can visit the Wat Arun across the river or spend some time in an air conditioned mall 🙂

Day 4: Take a tuk-tuk or a taxi to the Pratunam market and spend a couple of hours shopping for your near and dear ones. Bargain hard. If you’re a computer geek, get your fix at the Pantip Plaza, opposite the Pratunam market. For lunch, try the street food available all around the area. Pantib Plaza has a KFC too, by the way, in case you’re really missing home 🙂 Spend the evening at the Suan Lum night market. Shop some more, drink some beer at the open air beer garden, listening to some thai rock music (!). Eat authentic thai food for dinner or spend your dough at one of the many Italian, Indian or English food restaurants.

Day 5: Make sure that your last day in Bangkok is a weekend, so that you can experience the chaos of the wonderful JJ weekend market. It’s not everyday that one hears of chaos and wonderful in the same sentence, let alone being used to describe the same place. But that is the JJ weekend market for you. One can easily spend the whole day here or even more than a day, if one wishes to. The weekend market is an institution and a landmark in Bangkok and no trip to Bangkok can be complete without experiencing it.

If you’re done with your shopping spend your last evening in Bangkok spending the last of your money at one of the fancy fine dining restaurants at Siam Paragon 🙂

Day 6: Take a cab back to the Airport. Have a nice flight.

Hopefully, you’d enjoy your stay in Bangkok as much as I did. A lot of the itineraries that I see floating around the net also include a trip to the Pattaya beach town as a part of a 5 day trip. I’d advise against that. Go to Pattaya if you have more time, but spend time in Bangkok and really get to know the city.