Font smoothing on Edgy Eft

I made a small update to the ever-popular post on this blog: OS X like font rendering in Linux.  The guide now covers Edgy too. Turner’s patches for Edgy are now available through a private repository. You can download it from here:

By the way, here is how my Edgy desktop looks now:

Edgy desktop
The icon theme is the ultra cool Echo from upcoming Fedora core 7 artwork. You can grab it from here. The GTK theme is clearlooks and the window manager is vanilla compiz.

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Baffling Beryl – Useless eye candy

I have been using Compiz with AIGLX for a while and thought I would checkout the Beryl project, which is a fork of compiz. So I added the Beryl repository to my sources list and installed all the associated Beryl software.

After I launched Beryl, I got a nice theme for my window manager. Though it looked good, I preferred the simple and cute title bar that came with original compiz. I fired the “Beryl Settings Manager” to see where I can change these settings. Voila! I was greeted with an application that had more options than anything I have ever seen before! Here is the sample:

Beryl settings manager
You are only seeing a part of all the options available. Note the scrollbars – there are plenty of other settings for each plugin! Needless to say, most newbies will have no clue understanding what all these options mean.

Now I feel that it is good that the compiz project actually forked! I am sure an organization like Novell will not include anything like this into a mainstream desktop they sell to enterprises. While I can understand the enthusiasm of Beryl developers, it is sad to see that this project is now going in a direction where the software is heavily overdone and will not be of any use to anyone. At this point of time, most of the plugins are mere eye-candy and many a times more of an annoyance than anything useful. The default settings are ridiculous with those animated menus wobbling like hell.

Eye candy in conjunction with usability is what will click with the end user. Good example are Mac OS X and to an extent Vista. (I personally feel that Vista could have also done without some of those silly effects).

I promptly uninstalled Beryl and went back to vanilla compiz. Sorry developers.
(I later found out that the settings for Window Manager are changed through “Emerald Theme Manager”, which is another nicely overdone tool.)

Cost of a Vista Upgrade

My Compaq presario v2000 laptop is about 10 months old. It runs Windows XP SP2 comfortably. The specs are as below:
Pentium M 1.6 GHz
768 MB RAM
80 GB Harddrive
Intel 915 GMA 900 graphics

I tried 3 beta releases of Vista (5478, pre-RC and RC1) on it. Barring some issues like no aero support, huge memory usage and some multimedia glitches, it does run Vista in a OK sort of manner. But the performance is nowhere near as XP. I just did an estimate of how much it will cost me in case I want to upgrade XP on it to Vista ultimate. Vista itself takes about 10 to 12 GB for a plain Vanilla install and with the fact that there is only 3 GB of space left in my C drive, it becomes essential to upgrade my hard drive too. So here is the final result:

Kingston DDR2 1 GB RAM upgrade : Rs 7000
120 GB Hard drive 2.5"         : Rs 6800
Windows Vista Ultimate         : Rs 11396 ($259 for upgrade from XP Pro at exchange rate of $1= Rs 44)
                         Total : Rs 25196 (==$572)

That is the price of a new Celeron/Turion 64 based laptop in India!!   
Now, here is another interesting calculation.

Cost of Vista Upgrade                : Rs 25000
Sale price of my 10 month old laptop : Rs 25000 (Bought for about 49k)
Additional 12 k from my pocket       : Rs 12000
                               Total : Rs 62000.

INR 62K is the price of a new 17″ Core 2 Duo iMac in India. 🙂

Best free anti-virus ?

Softpedia came up with a list of best free anti-virus software. Unfortunately, the list is missing the best of them all – AOL Active Virus Shield. AAVS is powered by Kaspersky Labs anti-virus engine, which is rated by many anti-virus reviews as the No.1 in Virus detection rate. AAVS gets updated daily and is prettly low on resources. Though the AOL logo on the software may put many people off, it is only a slightly stripped down version of Kaspersky’s commercial product. Interestingly, it also has a built in spyware check tool, so you reduce the burden on your system by cutting down one more daemon process.

I was using AVG previously. When I ran AAVS for the first time, it detected a few minor viruses which were missed by AVG free edition! If you are searching for a free AV tool with low footprint and CPU utilization, look no further. Here is the download link to AAVS.

Newsgator Alternatives?

As I noted in a previous post, I was happily using the newsgator web front-end/Netnewswire and their pocket pc client for my RSS reading purposes. ‘Newsgator Go’ recently came out of beta and the trial version that I installed on my Pocket PC is about to expire in a few days. I have no intentions of buying ‘Newsgator Go’ as it is heavily over priced at about $30. I personally feel that a simple RSS reader like Newsgator Go does not demand such premium. I will be surprised if anyone pays that much money for this piece of Software which can be written by a school student in a week’s time. Moreover, NG can hardly be called a feature-rich client as freeware alternatives like pRSSReader (my previous favorite) can beat NG handsdown in any side-by-side comparision.

My only reason for using NG was its ability to sync with Newsgator Online. It helped me to keep my feeds ‘in Sync’ irrespective of where I am at a given time.

So what are the alternatives? Create a new feedreader from scratch that can sync with bloglines/Google Reader? Well, I am too lazy to do that. Can some one suggest some good alternatives? I am not too keen to use the bloglines mobile interface as it is slow. I would like to cache the content on my PDA and then read it, rather than clicking on a link and then wait for the page to load.