This blog has moved (..again)!

This time, I hope it is a permanent residence. The CMS is Drupal based. I have made it less cluttered and easier to read.

If you are one among the handful (feedburner indeed shows a few) who have subscribed to this feed, please take some time to update your feed reader. The new one is here.

This time around, I promise to keep it updated regularly. The content is not going to be just technical. My other interests like Photography, Music and Books too will find a place in this blog. (Thus, I have more stuff to write about!)

Thanks to WordPress folks who have hosted this blog for more than a year!

Firefox add-ons from Microsoft!

Yah. Thats true. But not the kind of add-ons that you would love to install in your firefox! These are for WGA validation extensions for Office 2003 and Windows. Earlier, for Firefox users, MS gave a small stand-alone application for genuine validation. Now they have created proper plugins.

I came across these interesting plugins when I tried to download some add-on applications for Outlook 2003. Type about:plugins on your firefox address bar to see if you have any of these plugins installed.

Laptop Power Management in Linux

One tricky thing in Linux is getting the power management settings correct in Linux. Things like CPU throttling, battery and LCD power management are little difficult to configure with the standard tools that ship with any distribution. A little knowledge of how the kernel handles power management will go a long way in configuring and using a notebook efficiently. Here is a detailed guide from the Gentoo documentation. Has enough details right – from configuring the kernel to putting your laptop on sleep.  The concepts apply, no matter what Linux distro you use.

Vista Media Center: An Update

As I noted earlier, my Vista Media Center experiences are not that good to write home about. But things are changing. I was finally able to narrow down the problems to the NVIDIA drivers used with my graphics card. The latest NVIDIA drivers for Vista have vastly improved the performance on my pretty low end graphics card. The stutters have almost vanished. The one place where video still stutters is when I expand my 4:3 SDTV feed to the panaromic 16:10 mode using the media center’s zoom functionality.

The audio driver for my motherboard is still in beta. Once a final version for those drivers are available, I think all the problems will vanish. I am saving some money for my Home Premium upgrade.

Vista: Should you upgrade?

Now that Vista is officially available for atleast two weeks, as we expected, the net is now full of articles and advices on whether you should upgrade or wait for some more time. Most of the advice come from people who have never used Vista for more than a few hours. It is all based on their past observations, which need not be correct all the time.

Here is my take on upgrading to Vista, which is based on my experience of trying it out in trial mode on various PCs for the last 2 months. Now, it is largely dependent on what sort of hardware you have. If you are using a laptop, you may want to wait. I observed that the power management functionality, even though claimed to have been improved by Microsoft, is very poor. The laptops I tested always ran hot and the whirring of the fan could be heard 90% of the times. When the machine is idle and there are no applications open, the fan was inactive. The moment you launch an application, no matter how small it is, the fan just kicks in, even if you have set the power management to “Save Battery”. All in all, I was pretty scared to run the laptops for long hours as it may cause damage due to the raising temperatures.

If you have an NVIDIA graphics card on your PC or laptop, just do not upgrade now. NVIDIA drivers are still in their early stages with even the latest beta versions exhibiting several issues. I am not a great gamer, but the MCE performance with the default drivers shipped with Vista leave a lot to be desired. I finally traced the stutter issues that I faced on Vista MCE to the NVIDIA 6200 graphics card that I used in my media center desktop. Updating to the latest beta drivers improved the performance a little, but the stutter has not vanished completely.

On the other hand, if you have a hardware that is atleast one year old, the drivers shipped with Vista are pretty stable. Some of the older desktops (upgraded to 1 GB RAM) exhibited good stability and performed well. Almost all hardware was detected and proper drivers were available.

In short, you can take the Vista plunge if you have a older hardware upgraded with enough RAM (read: atleast 1 GB). Just make sure that you are not using NVIDIA graphics card for now. Laptop users can wait for a little longer time so that some fixes are available for the power management issues. You don’t want to burn your lap, right? If you assembled a PC with the latest hardware, you may want to play the waiting game till your manufacturer(s) provide you with polished drivers for all your hardware bits.

Also note that this article is purely based on the hardware point of view. Vista definitely has more features and applications than XP worthy enough for an upgrade – but just make sure your hardware is ready for enjoying all the new features of Vista.

Droolworthy 3: ‘Ultimate’ – a new range of stunning Windows Mobile devices from i-mate

 Though the most number of new devices announced at the 3GSM were running Windows Mobile, the whole range of phones – right from the Toshiba’s G900 to HTC Vox are all looking dull, boring and very predictable. They differ just in screensize and the application processor they are running. Suddenly Windows Mobile devices started looking less appealing. The Ultimate range

Not for long. Enter the old war horse, i-mate. The Dubai based company has become an OEM (in that they no longer procure their devices from ODMs like HTC or Techfaith) and started manufacturing devices to their own specifications and design. And the first range of mobile devices called ‘Ultimate’ look very appealing. These mobiles will be sporting the recently launched Windows Mobile 6 and comes in five different form factors.

I especially like the flip phone – the model which will be called the 8150. After carrying bulky Windows Mobile devices like the Krome Spy and O2 Mini S for long time, a flip form factor is a welcome change. While the above devices only exist on paper today, i-mate says that these will be launched in Q2 2007, which means they are only a couple of months away from seeing their light of the day. Welcome back i-mate to the Windows Mobile club. We almost wrote you off after you broke your ties with HTC!

More pictures at Engadget.