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.

Read More »

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.

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.

Enhance page loading time for your blog

Darren over at Problogger has a guest post by technosailor on  optimising web pages for faster load time post on some of the points to take care of when optimising your blog.

Most bloggers start with a small site hosted on a shared server and as most shared servers can’t handle the kind of traffic a good blogger is likely to see, it is generally a good idea to optimise your blog and carefully monitor the response times.

The post covers the use (or minimal use of) images,  avoiding third party scripts, caching and (surprise, surprise !!) avoiding flash.

A must read.

FUSE: Filesystem in Userspace

According to wikipedia, a filesystem is:

is a method for storing and organizing computer files and the data they contain to make it easy to find and access them.

It is the filesystem which provides us the abstraction of folders, directories and sub-directories that we use to store files on a computer. Infact, it is the filesystem only which lets us store and retrieve any data that we store in a computer.

Filesystems are usually a part of the kernel, the heart of the operating system and the code runs in a privileged mode known as kernel mode which means that only the operating system has access to that code. That is also the reason why developing a real filesystem is usually the domain of highly talented kernel developers.

FUSE changes all that. FUSE, which stands for “Filesystem in USErspace”, provides an API (application programming interface) for anyone to create their own filesystem, which runs like a normal user program. If all this is confusing you, don’t worry, cause you don’t really have to worry about these details.

How is FUSE useful for you ?

Read More »

Srinagar Trip

I’m in Srinagar right now and will try and update the blog as much as I can. Hang on for a travelogue which will be coming soon. I plan to visit Gulmarg definitely and a couple of other places, if possible. Wait for a full post and pics from the trip soon.

TechCruch’s Tablet PC – And what we really want

Michael Arrington from TechCrunch recently posted about a tablet PC that he wanted built. And I have to admit that the mock up looks very cool. And he wants to sell it around the $200 price point, which is doubly cool.

What is not so cool, however, is that our man Arrington hasn’t put in much thought in the product itself. Don’t get me wrong here, I, more than anyone else, would love to have a gadget like the one that is being talked about, but I just don’t think it is technically feasible to make such a device right now. And given the cost of the parts it is highly unlikely that the cost can be anywhere close to $200. I’d  have been less skeptical if Michael had spoken of a $1000 price point.

Read More »

Serial Blasts in Bangalore

There have been a series of 5-8 (the exact number is not clear yet) low intensity blasts in Bangalore. One person has Three people have died till now and about 20 injured.

There is general chaos around the city and all telephone networks are Jammed right now.

This is the link to IBN Live’s coverage.

Google Knol – Wikipedia killer or just another hubpages.com

So, Google launched Google Knol today and the whole blogosphere is talking about it. That’s understandable. It’s not everyday that Google releases a new product which gets its own sub domain. But, what I don’t understand is: why is everyone, including reputed blogs like Lifehacker, Problogger and others calling it a wikipedia killer ?

I think that this is just another way for Google to display adsense advertisements on the internet. And the real competitors are sites like hubpages.com which work on almost exactly the same model, that Google Knol is working on. You know, the model where you write something on someone else’s site and include advertisements in it and hope to earn some money. The difference is that this is Google and the reason why people are worried is that Google might give a preference to one of it’s own sites when displaying search results for a particular topic, rather than displaying, say, a wikipedia article, which is what comes up now if you search for a lot of generic topics.

But, I don’t think this will be the case. Even if Google tries to give a preference to it’s own sites, a backlash from users will probably contain Google’s evil plans and if Google still doesn’t agree, most users, including I, will happily move to another search engine. Infact, looking at the kind of knols that Google is hosting right now, most of them are not the kinds that would be competing with wikipedia articles. It looks exactly the kind of content that hubpages holds.

So, I think the blogosphere should just relax and let Google roll out another product and another way for the publishers out there to make money :-)

Unix 101: Unix processes

I’m sure you’ve heard people tell you that Unix (and Linux) is a multiuser/multitasking operating system. But, what does that mean ?

Well, for one, you can create multiple users on linux and let all of them use the machine at the same time, by letting them login remotely (We’ll cover this later). And thus, Linux is a multiuser operating system.

Multitasking is a little more complicated.

You see, a Unix system at any time is always running more than one programs simultaneously. Ah, but I am only running my browser, you ask ? Well, yes and no. The browser is the only program that you are running but there is more to the operating system, than just the browser, right ? For example, the graphical interface that you’re running. And what if there are more people working on the same system (the multiuser part of it), then all of them would be running their own programs, right ? So, to cut things short, any Linux or Unix system at any time is always running multiple programs/tasks and thus, is a multitasking system. How does it do that ?

Read More »