Thursday, December 23, 2010

Enabling Remote Desktop server in Windows 7 Home Premium

I recently got a new pc which came preloaded with Windows 7 Home Premium. Microsoft has done some strange things to differentiate their suite of Windows 7 Offerings. One really frustrating feature that is disabled in the Home versions is the ability to run a remote desktop host. i.e, You can act as a client and connect to RDP hosts but you cannot let other RDP clients connect to you. To solve this, I stumbled across a really simple solution.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Linux Tip: Splitting and Merging multiple files

Ever so often, when you download large files from internet, you find the file being split into smaller parts. It's easier to upload this way and most file upload sites - rapidshare, hotfile etc. have a max file size limit.

There are many ways to merge these files. Let me show you two popular ways

a) Using cat to merge
cat file.1 file.2 file.3 > file

$ cat sitcom.avi.part1 sitcom.avi.part2 sitcom.avi.part3 > sitcom.avi

Using split to well, split
split [OPTION]... [INPUT [PREFIX]]
$ split -b 100M sitcom.avi sitcom.avi.

-b, stands for binary files

It's easy to write a shell script that takes in filename, chunk size, destination etc as parameters. But why not save the trouble and use the second alternative.

b) Using Gnome split

As the name suggests, you can merge, split files right from Gnome.

It also has some cool features like deleting the chunks after merge is completed etc.

Great. That was easy, wasn't it. I haven't found any KDE alternatives yet. Feel free to share them in the comments. Thanks.

How Apple sets Prices

I was psyched to see an article on Apple being featured in my favorite blog - NYTimes Freakonomics.

This article originally featured in Bloomberg Business Week
which breaks down Apple’s pricing strategy and identifies its key components. “Next time you’re sitting at an airport bar and hear two business people debate whether Apple is a technology or design company, chime in: ‘Nope. What Steve Jobs sells is pricing,’” writes Ben Kunz. “Pricing? You bet. Jobs is a master of using pricing decoys, reference prices, bundling and obscurity to make you think his shiny aluminum toys are a good deal.”"

A Fresh new start

I started writing this blog back in my undergraduate years at the National University of Singapore. I was then single, bored and jobless (perks of a scholarship stipend). And really passionate about technology, the Web and the OpenSource movement.

Life's changed a lot since then. I am currently juggling a full time job and a part-time grad school program. I haven't done serious coding in months and I am already an iteration of Ubuntu behind. Lots to catch up. Let's go.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Linux finally has a stable Chrome release

Year and a half back, I wrote about Google's step behaviour to Linux. Meanwhile, We tried the experimental Chromium build to get a taste of Chrome on Linux. It was slow, buggy and unstable.

Now, the wait is finally over. Chrome for Linux can be downloaded from the Google Chrome website. On first glance, it looks really stable, extensions are working, flash (which used to crash Chromium) works smooth. I need more time to play around and write a complete review. Check back soon and enjoy surfing :)

And here is the rest of it.

Friday, April 09, 2010

How smartphones can help you Lose weight and Stay healthy

I have never needed to go on a diet, till now. It all started two weeks back when I stepped onto the new digital weighing machine placed near my squash court. My body weight has always hovered around the 75-77 kg mark, so I expected no different. Thus I was completely caught off-guard when it showed 82.5 kgs. I checked again for zero error, but that was the fact.

I have a desk job which requires me to stare at the monitor for 10 hours. The only exercise I get is some weekend sessions of badminton and squash, which gets cancelled more often these days since my mates are either too sleepy or have more social things to do.

I realized it was time to press the panic button and take action. Logically, all I had to do was eat healthy and work those extra calories out. Which meant occasional jogs and trips to the gym. Now like a lot of you people, I am lazy and single. Thus inherently there is no motivation to sustain any such routine to look good and charm the opposite sex. I had rather sleep an hour longer in the morning than go for a jog.

Now If you are in similar situation, where you want to lose weight and get fit, but are too lazy to chalk your own routine, I have the perfect solution for you. This involves getting a free account in a food and fitness tracking website, (myfitnesspal), a Smartphone (iPhone or any web-enabled device) and a spirit for adventure to try something new for no apparent reason. So let's start our journey to fitness.

First, I downloaded the myfitnesspal app from the iPhone app store. For non-iphone users, you can use your browser to visit myfitnesspal. There, I entered my current weight and height, work profile, target weight state and no. of weeks to achieve it. The app then suggested a daily diet plan with a fixed amount of daily calorie allowance and the fat, vitamins and protein. And thus my routine began trying to eat within the allocated calorie budget. Now interestingly, if you want to eat more, all you need is to exercise and increase your allowance.

Smart, right. For instance, a 30 mins of jog burns around 200cal, would entitle you few more of those delicious cheese fries. Luckily there are some really nice apps for iphone like runtastic and runkeeper which let your track your daily exercise. I bet you can find similar apps for other platforms.

Success of this entire process depends on how diligently you follow your diet plan. To help you further, you can search and add the food you take from their comprehensive over 160,000+ food database.
I was really impressed by the food list since it covered not only popular instant food brands but also local (indian, chinese and thai) cooked food. Again, calorie count depends on the way a particular food was cooked but this gives a roughly right composition.

A lot of skeptics might turn this down, saying it isn't rational or scientific but if you delve deeper it is plain common sense. If you calculate your Body Metabolism Rate (BMR), which is amount of calories your body burns just to stay alive. For me it's around 1,394/day. This means, as long as I eat less than this, I should progressively see a reduction in my weight. The real challenge is to have a healthy and balanced diet given this upper calorie limit. So no more fast food, more fruits and green vegetables.

So does it work? I managed to shed 3 kgs in 2 weeks. Now I weigh a good 79.5 kgs.
To sum up, losing weight is easy. Eat healthy but less than your BMR requirement and exercise more. You have all the tools in your arsenal. Stay motivated and be happy :)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Excel Quick Tips: Reactivating right-click context menu after Essbase Add-in installation

If your company uses Hyperion cubes for all financial reporting, there is more a chance of you using an Essbase addin to pull financials from the Essbase cube into Excel. Interestingly, this plugin has notorious reputation of overriding your right click button with it’s own functionality. To disable this behaviour and get back your usual context menu, follow these steps:

1. Go to Essbase Addin Options


2. Browse to Global Settings and uncheck the “enable Secondary function..”

Global Setting

3. Voila, you have your context menu back. Easy!

Excel Quick Tips: Disable Privacy Warning

If each time when you save your macro enable workbook, you receive an annoying popup "Privacy warning:This document contains macros, ActiveX controls, XLM expansion pack information, or web components. These may include personal information that cannot be removed by the Document Inspector", follow these steps

1.  Go to Excel Options, navigate to Trust Center and click on “Trust Center Settings”

2. First, enable all macros in the Macro Settings (Note: Assuming all your macros are safe and tested)


3. Then go to Privacy Options and uncheck “Remove personal information…”


4. Save and close the file. Next time when you open it, no more annoying privacy warnings.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Apple's new iPad: A logical evolution or a marketing dud

Apple finally unveiled its new tablet, the iPad, after months of feverish speculation and hype online, and as usual, without any official indication by Apple that the product even existed.
In the same typical style and exuberance, Mr Jobbs' unveiled the "next big thing" in consumer lifestyle computing but the initial response from Press and the tech community hasn't been as welcoming.

Unlike a lot of their earlier successes, Apple couldn't wow or amaze the audience. The iPad was exactly as everyone predicted with no surprises, never before seen features or a radical change in end-user consumer computing. For years, I have personally bashed the Mac for all it's glitter and no purpose, but the iPhone changed my perception. Undoubtedly, It is the most practical and purposeful phone till date. It has replaced my laptop for almost everything, keeps me organized, syncs my calendars and gives the best browsing experience through Safari, which is still the best out there. For more than 3 years, competitors have tried but failed miserably trying to emulate the user experience and the rich application store that the iPhone offers. And the new iPad is no different.

The iPad is definitely a logical progression from the iPhone. It is simply a bigger looking iPhone with which Apple plans to capture the e-book reader segment (with the likes of Kindle and Sony readers), the gamers, the designers (the wacom space) and the fast paced business executives who want to show off the latest sales figures and marketing presentations to clients on the move.

For those who currently use the iPhone to read books, watch movies, surf the net or to simply blog, will appreciate the generous 9.7" multi-touch screen and a quoted 10 hour battery life. The best part is, that it can run almost all the existing 140,000 App Store apps, making it easier for developers to port their applications to a new device painlessly. Given the feature set, the first iteration of the device looks highly promising. There are already talks of major newspaper and magazine publishers lining to get their content published over iTunes. Will this be the end of the print era? I hope it is. Trees all over the world rejoice, your savior is here :)

But obviously, I have the same complaints as the rest of the community. Firstly, who in marketing thought of naming the device "iPad". iSlate or iTab would have sounded fab. It could be that Apple was a bit late in acquiring the copyrights to these names but still, "iPad" is a strict no.

Though the native Apple built-in Apps support it, I still miss multi-tasking on my iPhone, and Apple had no reason of overlooking it in the iPad. It's definitely not an architectural challenge but could be a huge battery drain on these devices but the choice should be left to the end-user. I still believe the new iPhone 4.0 and later versions of the iPad OS would some day support multi-tasking.

This one is a no-brainer. How hard is it to include a file manager and a USB support to a full blown tablet. If the device has a fully functional OS and if the target consumer is a tech-savvy net junkie, who loves his photos and movies, then why skip a built-in USB port to import and export content from 3rd party devices. Apple's decision to have a closed ecosystem of their devices accessible only via iTunes doesn't really make sense. This will only encourage jailbreaks and hacks in the future. Even the cheapest netbook has a couple of USB ports and a linux/windows filesystem manager.

To end this long discussion, the iPad isn't revolutionary, it won't blow your minds off, it may not force you to queue up for long hours. But it is the most logical follow-up to the iPhone. Apple may have guaged the response after the keynote and sure enough there may be some last minute changes before it's official launch. For now, I guess I will have to wait for another year to replace my aging laptop, hoping Apple listens and gets their act together for the next generation iPad2.