शुभ आरम्भ

“क्या आप मुझे अपनी डायरी मिल्क का एक छोटा सा पीस दे सकते हैं? ”

“क्या में आपको जानता हूँ? ”

“नहीं.”

“तो?”

“मेरी माँ कहती है कि कोई भी शुभ काम करने से पहले कुछ मीठा खा लेना चाहिए.”

*gives piece*

“वैसे तुम कौनसा शुभ काम करने जा रहे हो?”

“मैं सोच रहा था कि आपका सर फोड़ दूँ.”

*

This because

a) It’s getting to me

b) I’m using this:

This ridiculous software has ruined my life.

Stabilizing the Blinking ADSL Light

Remember the post on boosting your MTNL broadband I had written some time ago? It was written in a time of blissful ignorance, and my early days as a blogger. Why I didn’t take it down, you ask? Because of hilarious comments. Do read the comments page.

So this post is equally ridiculous. I don’t know why it works, but it works. And Indians have an in-built feature to do so many jugaads.

Cables were stolen in my neighbourhood few weeks ago, leaving me with twenty days of no Internet. When they reinstalled it, the connection was highly erratic. The main problem, the freakin’ ADSL light used to blink on and on.

This wasn’t new. It used to happen when I first got broadband about five years ago. I had developed a jugaad back then. And it’s time I publish. The secret to making *drumroll* that ADSL light *nails biting* stable *music reaches to crescendo* is…

Unhooking the phone.

Huh?

Huh?

You heard me! Unhooking the phone! So next time, when your ADSL light begins to blink periodically, and it appears that it is never going to be stable, simply unhook the phone. Hear the dial tone, keep the phone aside, the ADSL light will be stable in about a minute or less.

I  this is ridiculous, I know it shouldn’t work, but hey it does. And that’s what matters. I even tried it at Mridul’s house. He was as surprised as you were.

Poof. Try this at home. And then hurl abuses at me. I’m off to reading chemistry.

Download And Install All Software You Need On A New PC

Apologies for a really long (and lame) title.

We’ve all faced the problem of a crashed computer. (Thank you, Windoze). And almost always, once in half-a-year your Windows machine will crash. And mess stuff up to such an extent, that you have to reinstall Windows.

After you’ve done that, you reinstall all drivers necessary, and you proceed to download all the other software you are used to. At bare minimum, you’ll need a browser (Firefox), a media player (VLC), media codecs (K-Lite), software bloatware for your iPod (iTunes), and so on. It’s highly impractical to download all setup files one-by-one (but that is what you do anyway).

What I had planned initially, was downloading all these files once, and storing them on a DVD. But again, it will be outdated soon. Then you’d install all those apps, realize they’re outdated, and update them manually again.

Here comes Ninite Easy PC Setup. This brilliant initiative by Patrick Swieskowski and Sascha Kuzins ensures that you don’t need to do all that manual download and install stuff. Just download a custom installer, and leave your PC overnight. There are ~75 applications to choose from, and it’s really, really simple. Below is a screengrab of the website. Notice the clutter-free design and clear cut objective – select, download and enjoy. As you can see, nearly all popular apps exist. Four browsers, twelve media players, and even important stuff such as .NET Framework, Java and Flash.

Ninite Easy PC Setup

Applications I Download Using Ninite

The best part is that the entire process is unattended. Only one window is open – the Ninite Installer Window. You won’t even have to restart your computer. Be warned though. Ninite will install everything in the default path Windows installation path.

Amazingly, each installer you make gets a unique link, which you can share with others, or even keep with you for downloading the online installer for all these apps again. Of course, you can always store the installer…

Applications Download Page

Applications Download Page

There’s also a Pro service Ninite provides, known as Ninite Pro (how innovative!). It’s a paid service and costs $20 (Rs 950) per month. That is, in my opinion, quite steep. I still recommend it for use if you are an administrator in a school or office. Ninite Pro offers an offline installer, which works just like the one in the free edition – unattended usage. You can download a set of software on the offline installer, copy it to each computer’s hard disk, and sleep while they all install away.

Ninite

Ninite Pro

Link to my customized installer (the software in the image above).

Do tell me about your experiences with this service in the comments.

Eddie

His name’s Eddie. Eddie is the Heart of Gold’s shipboard computer, and is always in a constant state of amazement and excitement. That’s how this new PC is.

It was a real pain to get this one. My older PC was pretty much dead. It wasn’t broken down, but all support for hardware had ceased. Intel’s graphics drivers for 82845G had a virus which disabled the Task Manager and Registry, and I was forced to use Process Explorer, which, for the record, is fantastic.

Right, so I had to persuade dad to get a new PC. He delayed it till the boards ended, and little further away till the holidays started. Then I really began to pester him, with constant reminders. He gave an offer for a Dell desktop, which didn’t have even half the configurations I actually wanted, and cost nearly as much.

With Digit magazine’s help, I could design a PC which fit my budget, and conveniently forgot to include a PSU. The Zebronics cabinet I mentioned was not designed for the motherboard, and I now have this iBall cabinet. Dad was getting my PC assembled with the help of his office’s technicians. Apparently, none of them understood by AMD-based configuration. After a lot of “please papa”, he finally relented, gave the go, and here the PC is ready.

2×2 GB Corsair 800MHz DDR2 RAM

AMD Phenom II X4 @ 3.00 GHz per core

Leadtek GeForce GT 240 1GB

ASUS M4A785D-M PRO Motherboard

Seagate Barracude 7200.12 SATA 500GB Hard Drive

No floppy drive 😦

While it may be a “far cry” (pun intended) from a gaming rig, it is enough for me. I’ll just play the occasional game at medium settings, but I really wanted to watch videos in HD. A friend handed over a Blu-Ray rip of Avatar. Bliss…

I have Windows 7 installed, and a download of Ubuntu’s Lucid Lynx has just been stopped. It’s Isadora all the way.

Now why did I go for AMD? Simple. It’s cheaper. Way cheaper. Core i7 began at Rs 14000/- and I could get my Phenom at 7500/-. Nice, huh?

Well, I’ve already finished Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. As usual, don’t expect any reviews.

*

Do watch this.

Don’t forget to watch in full screen high definition.

“Ronal–d’oh!”

**

Also, the UEFA Champions League final was epic. Hats of, Milito, though I was really was supporting Ribery-less Bayern Munich. Seems like Jose has got a magic wand with him.

Don’t worry, the best football club in the world will win the League next time.

Prepare for trouble treble

And make it double!”

Aditya’s Law Of Run Rate

If the runs scored in an over are equal to the current run-rate and the numerical value of the current over, the run-rate is increased by 1.

For example, if the Delhi Daredevils are pwning the Kings XI Punjab, and score 152 in 15 overs, their current run-rate is…

So now, Piyush Chawla is sent into the attack. At this moment, Virender Sehawg is batting at 78. He’s really angry, that Chawla was picked ahead of his Delhi buddy Amit Mishra in the World Twenty20 squad. So he goes all boom, bang and all that.

Do note, that Chawla is bowling the sixteenth over. So Sehwag scores ten plus sixteen runs in the over, which equals to twenty-six runs in the over. That takes the total to 178 of 16 overs.

It may surprise you, that the current run-rate is 11.13. If you do some simple math, the run rate has increased by…?

Tell me in the comments.

Widget!

So here’s the new Opera Widget for Shadow Line! You can get all new posts delivered to you right at your desktop. And once you install the widget (assuming you have Opera 10.50), you can run it even without Opera running! Sweet!

Widgetize!

I’m even adding a link in the sidebar, so in case you re-install Opera, or recommend this blog and widget to someone (which you will!), the widget link will always be there.

P.S: I’m finished with Social Studies. Forever.

Review: Nokia E63

I really, really needed a new phone. I missed my good-old. gun-metal, chick-magnet Nokia 7610 Supernova, which decided to swim in the washing machine.  It was a slider phone, with great features. Most of all, I missed Opera Mini and mobile web. So I got this new phone from HotSpot in Ashok Vihar, about which I will be making a blog post soon (which means “in the next three months”) . Also, if you notice in the pictures which follow, my E63 is red in color. It is how I publicly display my love for Manchester United. And hatred for Chelsea (the E63 is also available in Blue).

Er, this may seem like a long post (it is). So if you want, you can skip to various parts of the review: Design, Camera, Operating System and Software, Security, Connectivity, Music, Battery Life and the final summary.

Nokia E63

Nokia E63

Nokia E63

Network: 2G and 3G (with UMTS)

Dimensions: 113 x 59 x 18 mm

Weight: 126g

Screen: TFT, 16 Million Colors, 320 x 240 Screen Resolution

Storage Memory: 120MB Internal, 1GB MicroSD card included, Supports upto 16GB

RAM: 128MB

Processor: ARM 11 369 Mhz Processor

Camera: 2MP, 1600 x 1200 resolution

Video Recording: QVGA at 15 frames per second

Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g

Battery: Lithium-Ion 1500 mAh (BP-4L)

Price: Rs 10,500

Review


Design

Once you hold it, you get a nice feeling of power with the E63. The buttons are ergonomically placed, and the spacebar is convenient to use. It also doubles up at a flashlight key!  Only problem is the function key and the shift key are at the bottom right corner of the phone, and those with large thumbs will end up pressing both sometimes. The keys are rubbery to feel, which is good. The call buttons are large, and so are the soft keys. The D-pad is also easy to use. Three out of the four one-touch buttons you see can be programmed to do anything (other than cook food), irrespective of what the icons on them suggest. A short press and a long press have different functions. The screen is also quite large with a weird resolution of 320 x 240. This may be a drawback, as you’ll find it hard to search for games and themes (speaking of themes, I did find an excellent brushed-metal theme). On the other hand, the screen is very bright, a treat to watch videos on. The keyboard is really well laid out. A few minutes of practice, and you’re good to go. A problem I faced was the absence of the _underscore_ key, which should be an important part of any business device because of the plain fact that many e-mail addresses contain underscores. It can only be accessed by the Character key, which spawns open a menu.

Moving on the the back of the phone, we see the camera lens, the flash and reflecting mirror. The case is also really easy to remove – the slide that black slider upwards, and tada! The SIM card is a little difficult to push through, though.

On the sides, is a port for a hot-swappable memory card, and a port for connecting the mini-USB cable (which isn’t proprietary).

There’s a navi-light which blinks when you have a new mail, message or missed call.

Camera

The camera is a huge disappointment. I didn’t expect any dSLR-type quality, but the 2 megapixel camera is utterly worthless. It gives mediocre pictures even in very bright sunshine. The flash looks powerful, but the quality of the image itself cannot be improved. Looks like Nokia didn’t think that business guys would need a camera. Video recording is pathetic. Lets just not talk about it.

Operating System and Software

The phone runs Nokia’s very own Symbian OS (3rd Generation) with Feature Pack 1. Symbian OS seamlessly handles all the applications. Multitasking is an added bonus. There are some problems, though. You cannot disable the camera sounds, and even the flash. There is a “Flash Off” option, but doesn’t seem to work.

The E63 comes pre-loaded with some Tetris game called GlobalBloxx. But the games are not important – its the software. You have a licensed version of QuickOffice (with Word, Excel and Powerpoint support). Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with the new Office 07 extentions (*.***x), but reportedly does so with a free update, which is a whopping 6 MB and will set AirTel users back by a whopping thirty-seven bucks. There’s also this superb call manager called Advanced Call Manager, which handles all your calls and rejects the ones you don’t want. It also has an inbuilt answering machine! The E-mail set up wizard is really easy, and you’re hooked up with your mailbox in about five minutes. It supports a large number of e-mail providers and has pre-configured settings for all. You can also key in setting for your e-mail provider if it is not listed. New mail, missed calls, and text message notifications appear on the homescreen itself. So you can see who the message is from without reading it.

You all know how Symbian is. Many feel it is slow and lags dreadfully, but that is because it often doesn’t have any adequate hardware to do well. Symbian ran quite perfectly on my E63 (which has a 369 Mhz processor). But the main problem with all those third-party apps any Symbian user installs (and loves) is that they all need to pass through an application-signing test. Certain functions the app needs to access can be granted easily and any developer can self-sign them. But some of those advanced APIs which software use require mandatory signing. This is done to prevent viruses spreading in your phone and wreaking havoc. But it only turns out to be plain irritating. If you’re a bhakt of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and everything on your phone (except the OS, of course) is pirated, then you’re in for a disappointment. You. Cannot. Install. Those. Cracked. Applications.

Of course, there are ways where you can sign the apps yourself, and they’ll be specific to your IMEI. But zat is hacking, isn’t it? A post on that coming soon. I promise. No! Seriously.

You know Opera Mini? You don’t? And you own a Java-enabled phone? Throw it away.

You know Opera Mini? Good. In my E63, a single press of the spacebar triggered of a series of spaces for no clear reason. So I cannot type properly in Opera Mini. The original Symbian browser is pretty good, but nothing can beat Opera Mini’s eye candy. I have to, unfortunately, switch to the normal text editing mode. However, typing messages and e-mails in Nokia’s inbuilt applications are a treat. Predictive text accurately guesses which word you’re going to type almost every time, saving you much hassle. The spelling correction is superb too, letting you add words to the phone’s dictionary. You can even tell the phone to read you messages in your inbox.

Security

Since a business person (or any of us, for that matter) is concerned about privacy, Nokia has done a decent job of it. You can set the time for an automatic keypad lock or even a phone lock. In case of theft (or pesky people), a predefined SMS sent to your phone will lock it immediately, rendering the user unable to access any data at all. There’s even an encryption feature which will encrypt your memory card and/or phone memory with a key. Surprisingly, however, there isn’t any antivirus bundled! This is surprising, since it is a business phone. And there’s also that Symbian Signed limitation mentioned above.

Connectivity

Call connectivity was good. The call quality was not bad at all, though there was initially some lag while answering calls, but its fixed now. WLAN works pretty well. The OS allows you to use a WLAN access point for any application that demands a web connection. Rejoice, Skype customers! And a special pat-in-the-back to those Fring fans too! I still haven’t tried 3G, though. You know why.

Music

In one word: disappointing. The music quality is seriously not good at all. Symbian’s Music Player tries its best by adding some standard settings such as an equalizer, loudness and stereo widening, but the problem here is the hardware itself. The loudspeaker is not very loud, so you can forget playing your favourite track to your friends and expect them to catch every syllable. I tried Hotel California by Eagles and Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin, both of which have some excellent guitar work. The instruments are not clearly audible over the speaker, though this improves considerably over the bundled earphones. The earphones are decent, but not good enough. They are strictly fro call purposes. However, Nokia has provided a standard 3.5mm jack, so you can use those $400 Bose headsets (yeah, you bought the cheap ones) with the phone.

(A note here. The best music quality in a phone I’ve ever seen is that of the iPhone and Nokia’s N91. Yeah, that old fat phone which is now obsolete.)

Battery Life

This is the big one. The E63 has a standard Li-Ion 1500 mAh BP-4L battery, which supplements the business phone. Businessmen always on the move will need their device always ready, and the E63 does just that with its battery. I had installed iON Batter Timer, and it displayed about two days till the battery discharge, which is quite good. It is definitely made for people on the go. In the real world, the phone managed about eighty hours with full brightness while I was playing Java games, browsing the web on Opera Mini (not on Wi-Fi, though), and listening to music via the bundled earphones.

Summing Up

The E63 is an excellent cheap business phone for those who don’t want to disconnect from the outside world. An ergonomic keyboard, bright screen, excellent battery life and the good ol’ Symbian help as well. Social network fanboys will be addicted too. But if you’re looking for decent music quality or a decent point-and-shoot camera, avoid.

Detailed Ratings (Out of 10)

Design: 8

Features: 9 (a mark cut for poor camera and no GPS)

Security: 8 (two marks go down for the absence of an antivirus solution)

Value for Money: 10 (You cannot get such a device at Rs 10, 500!)

Battery Life: 9 (Very Good, but could have been better)

Overall Rating (Out of 10): 8.8/10 (Superb!)

Also, do tell me how the new look is. iNove had become too old.

January Wrap-Up

The new year began with a bang. In terms of stats.

Bang!

Bang!

See that? I was so surprised during the middle of the month, that I even wrote a post expressing my disbelief and joy. So here are the posts that made Shadow Line so popular. And oh. It has even appeared on some popular quiz blogs, for which the credit goes to Shikhar Gautam and Shreyans Jain.

Posts That Made It Big

Posts That Made It Big

Not bad, eh? Notice how the home-page got so many hits? I did. Astonishing.

Thanks guys, for making my humble blog so popular. I mean, look at the stats two years ago. Near zero. And look now. Great stuff.

And you! You feed subscriber! Yes, you there. A special thank you to yoo too. Woo hoo!