Sunday, December 31, 2006

Year 2006 : My list of top 10 tech events of the year

My list of exciting tech events in 2006 pertaining to Gaming, Linux, technology and Web 2.0 listed in random order.

  • Google's takeover of youtube
  • Launch of PS3 and Nintendo Wii vs X360
  • Gears of War, paving way to exciting hidef games in future
  • ie7 vs firefox 2.0
  • Intel Macs
  • Microsoft and Novell's controversial alliance
  • Microsoft Zune Vs ipod nano
  • Microsoft Vista finally released
  • Year of Linux as many govt. bodies like in Venezuela,Chicago,Munich and kerala ditch MS for Linux
  • I started my first blog ;)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Should I change to Vista part 1?

Microsoft is actively promoting Vista. They proudly claim that they have a package catered to every users need, be it a corporate client or a home user.
But is it really a necessary upgrades ? Let's find out.

1. Security issues: Vista is all about security. Anti phishing enabled in Outlook, ie7 etc., built in spyware filter,UAC etc.

User Account Control (UAC) is all about a great concept gone wrong. UAC prompts you for necessary action whenever the state of the system is about to change, things like switching off firewall, add/remove new user etc. Its a nice idea but repetitive prompts for passwords can be really frustrating.

How secure Vista really is, only time will tell.

2. Packaging and pricing : In order to cater to the needs of everyone, Microsoft has numerous licenses and packages. You got Home, Home Premium, Ultimate, Full, upgrade..... and so on. A normal user will have to go through all the feature lists to find which one suits his work. As the price difference is a lot, package selection is crucial and cumbersome.

3. Interface : Microsoft has finally taken a leaf off Mac Os in terms of interface and usability. The Aero looks stunning and makes it fun to play around and explore the Os. The new sidebar and live thumbnails with previews look amazing.

Vista is definitely not for older PCs. Aero is resource hungry and a dedicated gfx card (128 Mb) is highly recommended. Check the vista site for the minimum requirements. If your PC is couple of years old, an upgrade is a must.

4. Improved Networking support and UI
Vista Network setup interface looks more polished and effecient. The wireless network interface no longer connects to networks automatically. You can set up rules, add your networks, configure which network to be autoconfigured and connected etc.
The new network-sharing wizard lets you connect PC's on the fly.

To be continued....

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Booting Windows from grub prompt

This is a common problem that many users face, when they remove their linux partitions.
Grub loses grub.conf and has no way to find out where to access the bootloader (NTLDR) for Windows.
So everytime you restart your comp, you'll see


Just type these commands, and you can get into windows. Then can do fdisk /mbr using a recovery disk or Win XP cd > recovery option

grub> unhide (hd0,0)
grub> hide (hd0,1)
grub> rootnoverify (hd0,0)
grub> chainloader +1
grub> makeactive
grub> boot

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Software of the Day - Photoshop CS3 Beta

Adobe recently released its new Photoshop CS3 beta, and I'll give you a sneak preview of some of the improvements.

This is the first product photoshop edition, released after Adobe-Macromedia merge up and we are yet to see if Fireworks will be released.

Lets start off.

1. UI makeover

Changing a well established interface for a flagship product could be a risky move but adobe had pulled it off well. The new interface looks simpler, slicker and more effecient. There are n no. of ways of arranging your workspace to suit your needs.
For a change, they have a single column toolbar, which can be changed back to the old one. The nicest improvement is the new palette scheme. Your can now dock palettes together and drag and dock palettes to the edge of other palettes. Overall, everything fits and resizes properly and makes your workspace look more organised.

2. Smart Filters

I like playing around with filters in order to decide which works well. This new feature lets you to apply filters and selective remove certain filters, in order to get the best effect rather than doing and redoing everytime, you aren't satisfied.

3. The new and improved Bridge

New ways to filter images, add tags, compare multiple images , a better looking interface etc.
Bridge works and feels better, with tonnes of useful updates

Another cool thing is the inclusion of getting photos from camera directly. You can add labels, define the folder, chose to save a copy of each image, save as DNG etc. Lots n lots of updates.

4. Quick Select

Every new version of photoshop brings a newer and easier way to select things. The quick select is the best so far. Earlier, we had to use the laso tool to select an image as below, but quick select can do the selection smarly. Give it a try or see Terry white's video to see.

5. Automatic layer alignment and blending

This feature easily combines the best parts of multiple images of the same scene into one "best" image. All we do is place multiple, related images on separate layers in one document, and Photoshop will analyze the contents, moving and rotating the layers so they overlap as precisely as possible. Then using the masking tools to reveal the areas you need from different layers to finalize the elements of the composite image. Automatic layer blending seamlessly blends the color and shading into the final image.

6.Vanishing Point with multiple, adjustable angle perspective planes

This feature which was introduced in Photoshop CS2 is now even more flexible. Vanishing Point adjusts brush strokes, healing and cloning as you paint over its perspective planes. In CS3, we are no longer restricted to adding planes at 90-degree angles. We can now quickly and easily create multiple planes in any image, connected at any angle.

In addition, artwork (for example, a product label pasted from the clipboard) can be wrapped around multiple planes simultaneously.

Conclusion : Overall a nice upgrade to the already powerful CS2. Adobe has listened to their fans and users and added features which will satisfy everyone.

Other links :

A cool video preview by Terry white : ( a must watch)

Download the beta from : Adobe Site

Blogger beta template mods

I personally liked the older template system, as it was easier to edit and use. The current XML
template system, seems a little complicated, but after playing around, I have an idea of what each tag wrapper means.

I've come to realise, it's easier to edit styles. All we have to do is add the CSS property to the correct wrapper. I'll play around for a while and then try to write a small tutorial to help you all do the same.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Soc VPN Hacks - cool stuff

Don't want to install SOC VPN to access net when browsing in SOC. A very simple tip to make
lives, so much easier.

When you get connected to the network, u get redirected to this page, which asks you to
download the VPN client.

Just do this, go to this URL : (append zero in the end)

Now you can login using your NUSNET ID and password, and you are in. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sabayon vs FC6 : Round Continues

FC6 has been working amazingly well. Better than expected and removing it
and trying Sabayon again, doesn't do justice to it. Anyways, my friend was so amazed by
Sabayon's interface and great looks, he is installing it on his pc, right now as we speak.

I'll keep you all updated on the results. The round continues....

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Helium-3, the next super fuel

For NASA's planned manned lunar base camp by 2024, the most challenging aspect is the fuel reserves to maintain continual operations on the lunar terrain.
Solar fuel cells aren't enough for such a large scale operation. They have to find something readily available to satisfy the fuel requirements. Fortunately, scientists have discovered one such resource, available aplenty on the moon.

Meet Helium-3, the future. Unlike Earth, the moon has large reserves of Helium-3 which is a light, non-radioactive isotope of helium and highlty sought-after for use in nuclear fusion research.
Some experts estimate there a millions of tons in lunar soil -- and that a single Space-Shuttle load would power the entire United States for a year.

Helium-3 undergoes the following aneutronic fusion reaction, among others, although this is the one most promising for power generation:

D + 3He → 4He (3.7 MeV) + p (14.7 MeV)

The appeal of helium-3 fusion stems from the nature of its reaction products. Most proposed fusion processes for power generation produce energetic neutrons which render reactor components radioactive with their bombardment, and power generation must occur through thermal means. In contrast, helium-3 itself is non-radioactive. The lone high-energy proton produced can be contained using electric and magnetic fields, which results in direct electricity generation.

The future does look bright but experts say commercial-sized fusion reactors are at least 50 years away.

Its not a Linux Only BLog

My friends pointed out that recently my blog posts have been more inclined towards linux.
I realised that they were right, but recently nothing intresting has been happening. The Console Wars have died out. Nothing interesting to digg. Anyways, Its a technology blog. Will keep the posts balanced in the future.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Getting FC6 in shape

Follow the instructions given in the link and fc6 will work flawlesly

Mp3, divx support, flash player, JRE etc.

A must visit :

Sabayon vs Fc6 :- round 2 - FC6 improves

Round 1 was disappointing for fedora. Can FC6 make a comeback. Here goes nothing...

I had learnt well from my previous encounter, not to trust http or ftp install. I burnt FC6 complete DVD and was all set to test it. I popped in the DVD and rebooted. The familiar anaconda installer, popped up, I selected the partitions, the packages etc., and all went smoothly. I selected the bare minimum servers (dns, dhcp and apache) and started the install process. In 30 mins, everything was ready. I removed the DVD and pressed on reboot.
Hmm, fate again...... Kernel sent a panic signal everytime I tried to boot to FC6. I was really pissed, but wanted to give fc6 one more go. I rebooted using the dvd, selected the upgrade option rather than install.
Some packages were installed (not sure why), and rebooted.

Viola, everything was ready. Bootup was 20x faster than the Sabayon. Gnome and Kde looked stunning with XGL and the system seemed fast and stable. Noticable points - Flash audio worked, yum worked flawlessly and in 10 mins I had installed all audio and video codecs and apps. Good eh.

Score : round 2 - 9/10

Sabayon vs Fc6 : Round 1

It wasn't a lucky day for me. All nite I tried

Round 1:

Fc6 - I was too lazy to burn DVD so i burnt the boot.iso and opted for ftp install. The mirror was my school's own mirror, so I was pretty confident, of everything working. But, fate..
My first attempt, ftp install dint work so I tried an http install, and luckily it moved ahead.
But while I was creating a partition, an exception was thrown, and the handler showed me to inform via bugzilla. Lolz, how will someone without an OS contact bugzilla.

I din't lose hope. I tried again. This time I selected all options, packages etc. When it started installing, everything froze. I guessed that it was because of slow network connection to the mirror. Will confirm later. So FC6, score = 0/10

Sabayon - I was expecting a lot from it. Rather than trying the live cd, I decided to install, as my partitions were already screwed up b'cos of FC6's, interrupted installs. Installation went smoothly as the GUI install uses anaconda that FC and RHEL also use. But strangely, I din't see any package selection choices. It only asked which default desktop I use. That's it. Installation completed smoothly and I was ready to boot. I was excitedly waiting to see XGL + Beryl combo.
But fate again..., the OS took ages to boot, which I presumed b'cos of first time boot. I selected kde, and man was it taking too long. Patiently i waited for everything to load. Then I clicked on firefox,Opera etc, nothing happened. Luckily konqueror was working. I googled to find that i had to do :

emerge --sync
glsa-check -f all

After doing all, some parts started working. I turned off XGL as it hardly seemed to work and was slowing down everything. Dejected and disappointed, I tried gnome and it was no different.
I rebooted to see, some performance improvement in Gnome, but KDE is still the same. The boot up time also seemed painfully long.

I tried the live cd on my friends old laptop. It seemed to work decently with XGL and Beryl working wonderfully. I am planning to try again tmr. Wait for round 2.
score = 4/10

Sabayon or FC6

Rmbr we discussed how to decide which Linux distro is best for you. I finally decided to move over my existing RHEL4 rig. It had served me well for so long. I was on the lookout for the worthy successor to take its place.
I zeroed in to 2 distros. First obvious choice was FC6, the official free successor of RHEL. The second, a relatively unknown distro called Sabayon.
FC6 has all the bells and whistles of a stable and exciting next gen distro. The cool new blue dna helix theme with XGL, tonnes of packages and great support. Everyone knows FC6.

So what is Sabayon ?
Well, well, well, thats what I am going to find out. Sabayon is a Gentoo made for the masses. Gentoo is a notorious for its steep learning curve, which Sabayon is trying to overcome.
The DVD comes prepackaged with all the usual stuff + Beryl + XGL. I am not intrested in eye candy n stuff. It is fun to flaunt your desktop now and then but a stable server platform is what I am intrested in. Gentoo gives full control to user as everything is compiled from bottoms up. I have always wanted to try Gentoo but the complicated installations have been a major turn offs. There's a lot I expect from Sabayon. Only time will tell.

Currently i am downloading both fc6 and Sabayon DVDs. In an hour, they should be done. Will keep you all updated.

Upgrading your linux : Tip - 2

Once you have taken the backup of your linux partitions, copied your conf files and probably files stored in you /home/, time to start the upgrade process.

Once you pop in your bootable disk, u get a prompt. Pressing "Enter" takes you to default install mode using DVD or CD media (relevant in fc, RHEL, Suse). Type > linux askmethod.
This will ask you your preferred choice of install.

Some common choices are :
  • CD/DVD
  • FTP
  • NFS
  • HTTP
  • Hard disk
The first and last are the fastest. Rest depends on you network and internet speed. Before choosing these options, test the network speed. Some mirrors are too slow and your installation process may take ages.

Sometimes doing a media check when you select CD/DVD is recommended. If your disk sector is corrupt, installation may stall abruptly after n% installed. Keep in mind that the boot loader is installed only after the installation completes. Incomplete installs may wipe your mbr leading to the system not knowing where to find your Windows OS on the next bootup. Trust me, its not what you would want.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Installing yum on RHEL4

RHEL4 has up2date. But yum gives more flexibility in ease of adding more respositories for packages.

mkdir /usr/local/src/yum
cd /usr/local/src/yum

download : Centos4 packages (use or smthng)


rpm -Uvh *rpm

The version no. of these packages might have changed. Install the latest one. It still should work smoothly.

Upgrading your linux : Tip - 1

Nowadays distros have release cycle of less that 6 months. Many a times, one can avoid the hassle of frequent upgrades by just installing individual package updates.For instance, if fc6 comes out with a newer gnome, you can still use fc4 or RHEL4, just update your gnome version. Package managers like Yum and apt, make this look easy. In case you don't have any, I advice getting yum first.

I was using RHEL4, which has up2date, rather than yum. Being a student copy, my trial expired. So was manually installing all stuff.The big problem is dependency resolution which is so frustrating. Sites like, provide some respite but still having a package manager is a must.

fc5 > fc6 upgrade may be smooth, but moving to ubuntu or Suse, will need a full installation, leading to the loss of all your old config files.

My take : If you have a portable hdd, backup all the .conf files that you really need. For eg. httpd.conf, named.conf, xorg.conf etc. I also store all the rpms I downloaded from net to a folder. Once you install a new distro, if it supports rpms, just do :
rpm -Uvh *rpm
and you are back with all your old stuff.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Software of the Day - Mozilla Sunbird & KOrganizer

This is a section, where I describe free software that you can't live without.
Today's theme - Calendar and Organizer programs.

Contenders : Mozilla Sunbird & KOrganizer

My Take : Being a student, organizing time is very important. Scheduling time for projects, lectures and meetings is hell of a task. Both these programs look and feel similar. Give them a try today and see how great they are. Alarms, sending auto-email notifications, organizing in different timelines etc. KOrganizer is exclusive for Linux only. Sunbird's available for all platforms.

Conclusion : If you are a Linux user, use KOrganizer, small, fast and lite. It may be outdated, but still packs a punch.If you are windows user, use Mozilla sunbird. It's a little buggy, and one may need to get used to its interface, but nevertheless, has all the features that Outlook or any other commercial softwares offer.
For people like me, who use both Windows and Linux, use both. Both of them can save in the iCalendar (ics) format. Writing and reading 1 single file on both the platforms help me to maintain a consistent schedule.
If anyone needs some help in using any of them, do message me. I'll try writing a small primer.

Spike Tv Awards Forget Sony

One of the most coveted Game awards , was presented recently with Gears of War and Elder Scrolls dominating the rolls. Unlike last year, Sony PS3 titles hardly won any awards and Wii ran away with the breakthrough of the year award. Following are some of the major award winners.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Bethesda Softworks)


Epic Games (Gears of War)

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintendo/Nintendo EAD)

Burnout Revenge, XBOX 360 (Electronic Arts/Criterion Games)


Dead Rising (Capcom)

Company of Heroes (THQ/Relic)

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Bethesda Softworks)

Gears of War (Microsoft/Epic Games)

Company of Heroes (THQ/Relic)

Gears of War (Microsoft/Epic Games)

Wii (Nintendo)

For complete info visit :

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Which Linux did you try today ?

For the first timers, shift from Windows > Linux is pretty tricky. Reason being, the infinite flavors and varieties of Linux. Unlike windows, there are hundreds of distros available, each with their unique characteristics and features.

The time when I started out, there were only Red Hat and Suse. Few choices make life lot easier, and I chose RedHat and continue using it till date. Nevertheless, I do periodically check the live cds of the other distros, trying and testing and appreciating their efforts.

Here is my take on chosing the best distro for you.

  • Next analyse what you want. If you are a noob, want to experience Linux the easy way, play games, watch movies, listen to mp3s, go for Ubuntu, Mandriva, PCLinuxOS or Suse etc.

  • If you want to learn Linux the hard way, but with a stable platform, go for Fedora and Red Hat. No gfx drivers, no mp3/video support etc. You'll be compelled to install everything on your own and learn lots of stuff. You may miss out on entertainment, but nothing beats fedora/RHEL when it comes to fast and stable servers.

  • Never install and test. Try the live Cds first and see if you find the interface comfortable.

  • In case of problems, just google. The community support for Linux is amazing.

  • Finally, get a friend who knows Linux, It really helps ;)

To conclude, my personal choice. Many would disagree.
I use Fedora but lately I tried a distro called "PCLinuxOS" and was really impressed. Being a relatively experienced user, I noticed how intuitive the interface was. Even the smallest detail has been well covered.Pre-installed with all drivers, codecs and plugins, it's a must have for noobs. For instance, Linux users will know how troublesome it is, ruPublishnning flash and wma/wmv content via firefox. One has to tweak some files, download extra plugins and addons to get them work.The guys at PCLinuxOS have gone a step ahead and installed them by default in the distro. I haven't seen many distros doing that. The control centre is good and tonnes of other great features. If none of the other distros work for you, this one will surely do. This is my personal guarantee.

Megaupload Hacks

Megaupload and Rapidshare are the 2 defacto online file uploading/downloading sites. They provide a hassle free interface to upload your files onto their servers. The catch is that the same is not true when it comes to downloading them. Both of them have made downloading content so tough for free users that they have to buy the premium account.

Here we solve the two hurdles that megaupload throws at the free users.

Megaupload 1 : " All download slots assigned to your country ( ) are currently in use. Please try again in a few hours or install the Megaupload Toolbar for immediate access - with the toolbar installed, there are no more slot limitations for you! "

Hack : Download the megaupload addon for firefox from

  • Then go to Tools > Megaupload3
  • Now the country slots problem should no longer appear.

Megaupload 2 : Wait time if some one else is downloading (in case of NATs) or download limit exceeded. (works for Rapidshare as well)

Hack : Use proxies.
  • Simple way is to install the switch proxy tool from

  • Google for free proxies.

  • Create a txt file with ipaddress:port format

  • From the Proxy tool bar , create a new proxy set by clicking on Add > Anonymous

  • Give any label and browse to your proxy text file

  • Select the file and click on load

  • Specify the time you want the proxy to change automatically in seconds.

  • Everything is ready. If "download limit exceeded comes", select the proxy from the toolbar and click on apply.

  • In your status bar at the bottom of the page, you'll see the current proxy. Double click on it to change it. Try till megaupload lets you download.

Have fun. The above procedure is still painful as you'll have to keep changing proxies before you manage to spoof an ip that is not downloading off megaupload. Trick is to make a good proxy.txt file. I manage to get through megaupload 1 in 6 attempts, which is decent. If you have the money, buy the premium account, else this is the only way.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Verdict's out - Wii Vs PS3

My exams are still going on. Must have noticed, seeing the frequency of my blog posts. Anyways, thanks to digg and cnet, I was able to closely monitor the market response to the Wii, PS3, X360 and Zune.

It's been an intresting Console war. Nintendo seem to be winning the battle due to their strength in their operations, which has enabled them to churn out 4 million Wiis, this holiday season. Industry analysts say that PS3 having able to produce only 200,000 for US and European markets, may have frustrated fans, who've been queing up for days to get hold of a PS3. Ebay is seeing PS3s sold for insanely high prices and one wonders why.

The launch title for PS3, Resistance: Fall of Man , is a regular run-of-the mill,  FPS , offering the same old fight for existence story seen so many times in n number of titles
 before. Some good CGI and graphic tweaks, but bloated ( 20 gig game), is the only thing playable on PS3. A quick look at gamespot ratings reveal, apart from Resistance, none of the PS3 games have 8.0 or above ratings.

Wii on the other hand, is getting praises all over, due to its innovative new controller, fun games and easy availability on majority of retail shelves. The New York times and Popular Science rate it as the best innovation of this year, further down playing the superior and more expensive PS3s.

PS3 is Sony's biggest gamble. They are making a loss of over 300 USDs per console. Their only respite is the failing Yen rates against Dollar which may ammortize some of their losses. Nothin else seem to be working for the time being. Developers are complaining about the complexity to write codes for the multi cell CPUs. Gamers are complaining about the PS3s online experience had high game prices. And, with their supply being far less than the demand, they also have lost oppurtunity sales.

Wii might have won, but for how long is the question. Sony promises to ship out another 4 million by July and is definitely made to support games for the next 3-4 years. Only time will tell us, how Sony fares.

As far as Xbox goes, PS3 fanboys are being smitten by the awesome XBOX live service, the Gears of War title and the festival offers of Microsoft. Why not get a X360 instead, if you can't find a PS3 this christmas ? Microsoft is basking their success for now. They even reported , finally making a profit off every console sold. A year back, when it was released, Microsoft was also losing a lot, like Sony now. Time to rejoice finally, MS.

On the other hand, Zune seems to be traumatis
ed by bad reviews everywhere. Poor sales support this. More about this in my next blog. cheers.