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Crapware and Windows September 8, 2007

Posted by sk in Microsoft, windows.
2 comments

If crapware is ruining your Windows Vista experience, is Microsoft to blame? Well, I guess, sort of. After all, the operating system is the most noticeable part of your computing experience. Cheap parts, bad drivers, PCs loaded with crapware – nothing matters. If there’s a problem, it must be with Vista. I was reading a post where the writer talked about Microsoft advertising free games on the computer. The only problem — it’s not Microsoft that’s doing it but the PC manufacturer. Of course, you or I would know that but there are some ignorant people out there who don’t realize or understand it (such as the writer of that blog post). And again, I really don’t blame them. Is there no way to change things? Well, fortunately or unfortunately, Microsoft can no longer pressurize OEMs ever since the monopoly ruling. PC manufacturers, therefore, in an effort to save costs, fill up their computers with free trial versions of software.

One way out is to use a tool called PC decrapifier, which removes some of this crapware, but not all of it. Some OEMs are beginning to work on this and Dell recently introduced a line of crapware free computers (Vostro). My friend also got his XPS laptop without any of this crapware and he’s very happy with Vista Business. Most others haven’t caught up yet. Hopefully, as Apple’s marketshare continues to rise, more and more PC manufacturers will fall in line.

The other option is of course, is to switch – either to a Mac or to Linux.  Ubuntu Linux is a pretty good distro and offers some of the cool 3d animations and effects found in Vista and OS X. Moreover, it’s free and ad-free. With Macs, since Apple controls the hardware too, they load only trial versions of their own software. However, if you want a computer at bargain basement prices, like the blog author did, you have to live with crapware.

I’m not saying Vista is perfect. Like any new software, it has its share of problems. It’s still slower than XP (in my opinion) on equivalent hardware. Moreover, the wireless networking problems haven’t been fixed yet.  However, six months after I switched, I haven’t seen any reason to go back to XP. My experience with Vista has been pretty good so far. Hopefully SP1, which is due out in early 2008 will fix some of the problems.

OK. End of rant.

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Harder, better, faster, stronger September 7, 2007

Posted by sk in kanye west, Music, stronger.
2 comments

 

Not a big fan of hip hop but I love this song!

PC World – Is Apple the New Microsoft? September 7, 2007

Posted by sk in Apple, iPhone, iPod, Microsoft.
4 comments

PC World – Is Apple the New Microsoft?

Don’t look now, but the role of the industry’s biggest bully is increasingly played by Apple, not Microsoft. Here’s a look at how Apple has shoved Microsoft aside as the company with the worst reputation as a monopolist, copycat and a bully.

Apple the monopolist

The core complaint about Microsoft in the 1990s was that its Windows market share gave it monopoly power, which it abused in multiple ways. Attorneys General and others zeroed in on the “bundling” of the Internet Explorer Web browser, which they claimed was forced on users because Microsoft offered it as part of Windows.

And “bundling” works. Steve Jobs bragged this week that Apple has distributed 600 million copies of iTunes to date. The overwhelming majority of those copies were iTunes for Windows. And iTunes for Windows’ popularity isn’t driven by software product quality. ITunes is the slowest, clunkiest, most nonintuitive application on my system. But I need it because I love my iPods.

I guess it has to do with success. The more successful a company gets, the more enemy it makes. On the other hand, Apple has a lot of friends too … those starry eyed fans (you know who I’m talking about). Which other company can take an ugly product like the new fatty Nano and turn it into a bestseller? (Of course, the iPod Touch looks awesome.)

Apple launches iPod touch and new fatty Nano September 6, 2007

Posted by sk in Apple, Computers & Internet, iPhone, Microsoft.
1 comment so far

 

Another year, another iPod redesign. In my opinion, the iPod Touch is pretty cool and actually redeemed the keynote because the rest of the products were nothing to write home about. iPod Classic may be thin, but it’s also ugly. Same with the new redesigned Nano. With the iPhone, His Holiness, Jobs actually screwed early adopters. Of course, he gave them $100 back but that was a gift voucher. What can you get for $100 in an Apple store? A Shuffle or a keyboard. What can a Windows user get? A Shuffle. Obviously, this forces people to spend more money to buy a Nano or even a Mac. Smart marketing move. Of course, no other company would have got away this easy. Maybe the Reality Distortion Field hasn’t dampened yet.

Yup, the Zune is probably doomed. I’m not ashamed to admit that I actually liked it, even though I never bought one. I guess its days are numbered unless Microsoft can come up with something revolutionary when the v2 Zunes come out this fall. However, I think Microsoft should forget about the Zune and concentrate on the phone platform. The iPhone is a blessing in disguise for Microsoft. They’re obviously working on their own version of a touchscreen consumer phone OS. Thanks to the iPhone, more hardware vendors will be interested in partnering with MS now. Also, unlike the mp3 market, which was really in a nascent stage when Apple entered, the phone market has some huge OEMs and networks. If Microsoft plays its cards right, we could have a PC vs Mac type scenario once again. After all, Apple has a five year contract with At&T.

BTW, I was reading some comments about leaked Nano photos a few days ago (I think it was on Gizmodo). Most commenters felt the product was too ugly to have been designed by Apple. Yesterday, when it was confirmed that the leaked photos were indeed real, the general consensus changed. Suddenly the new Nano was HOT! Funny. 🙂

Lift off September 2, 2007

Posted by PagMax in India, ISRO, space.
3 comments

 More than a year after I mourned for ISRO’s splash down, today we finally have a lift-off  of the same launch vehicle carrying identical satellite!

GSLV-F04 successfully placed INSAT-4CR in Orbit. In my opinion, It is a defining moment for Indian space program, firstly because it is first of INSAT series to be launched from Indian Soil (Earlier INSAT vehicles were piggybacked to Arena rocket launched from Kourou, French Guiana), and secondly it puts in confidence in our mission to moon and manned space flight. And of course, dozen of high-power Ku-band transponders onboard will make your network television look even better..!!

Go ISRO!

 

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(Picture taken from ISRO website without permission).

Hyderabad! August 26, 2007

Posted by sk in Hyderabad, Hyderabad Bomb Blasts, India, Political, religion.
15 comments

image

 

I recently had a conversation with a friend about communal violence in India. He is from Ahmedabad. I told him how Hyderabad, despite the diversity was safe and how all those terror attacks etc. were things of the past. Well, how wrong I was. Within two weeks of my conversation, two bomb blasts shook Hyderabad killing over 40 people. I am not going to blame the entire Muslim community in Hyderabad, but there are definitely people who are sympathetic to Osama and Al Qaeda and they need to be weeded out of the community. Otherwise, sadly, this is not the last of such events. I’m not really sure that the AP Government is interested in tackling this issue, as much as it is in sweeping it under the carpet. Hopefully, I’m wrong on this one too.

The i Word August 19, 2007

Posted by sk in Apple, Computers & Internet, iPhone, Microsoft.
16 comments

The word being iPhone (well, not a word but…). It’s been nothing short of a success so far for Apple and AT&T. Apple has probably sold a million of them already or at least close to a million. The lack of applications (that’s a feature rather than a weakness), the initial bug reports (hey, bugs are for Microsoft; with Apple, they’re called eccentricities), lack of GPS support (it has Google Maps, that’s more than enough), 3G,… hasn’t stopped people from buying it in hordes. Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve checked out the device a couple of times at the local Apple store and it really is impressive – not something that I would personally pay $600 for but that’s another issue.

Frankly, I think this is a device that is capable of revolutionizing the cell phone industry. Microsoft, Nokia, Sony Ericsson all have something to learn from this. Don’t throw in hundreds of applications into the phone if you don’t provide users with an easy way to get to them. With the iPhone, the applications that you see in the main menu are all that you get and it looks . Like every other device designed by them, the first iteration is simple and lacks features. With subsequent iterations of the device, Apple will add more and more complexity without losing focus on their main goal – keeping the UI as simple and uncluttered as possible. I’m pretty sure the iPhone will cause Microsoft to either come up with a better design for Windows 7 or a new OS for casual users.

By the way, it looks like AT&T too is milking the device for all its worth. Blackberry Cool reports that AT&T has locked down “the GPS functionality in their upcoming BlackBerry 8820 so that the only functioning 3rd party software will be TeleNav.” Blorge also talks about a rumor that “the device’s WiFi will only be usable if you purchase an EDGE data plan to go along with it that was reported on Engadget.” Wow!

I’ve been enjoying playing around with my new Media Center PC. It features XP Media Center 2005. I will probably upgrade it to Vista Ultimate in a few months   – after SP1 comes out. I wonder why Microsoft never really advertised Media Center. Their stupid Vista ads focused on Flip3d. Who the fuck cares about an application switcher? Media Center has an amazing UI and has tons of features. It’s not only the Tivo like functionality where you can record, pause, and rewind live TV. You can also listen to FM radio and play songs, videos, photo slideshows on your hard drive. It also has an online spotlight which features material from MTV, NPR, Yahoo!, MSN, etc. Everything accessed with one remote control. Microsoft should change its marketing agency – really. They’re idiots.

The N-Word August 18, 2007

Posted by PagMax in Blogroll.
3 comments

The word being NUCLEAR. The outrage, the accusations, the anger, all following the 123 agreement of India-US nuclear deal, has put the entire political stability of the nation (India) in question.

The complexities involved in this deal and the convenient interpretation by each political party to make their point in either supporting or opposing it, has made the specifics of this agreement more obscure to common people than Aishwarya Rai is to acting.

This article summarizes the situation quite well and he rightly ends the article with this note

“Both the left and the right are being utterly dishonest in their refusal to see the answers to the questions they raise are written in stone in the 123 agreement.”

Well politics and dishonesty do not live that far and India is no exception. When we borrowed Heavy Water from US for CIRUS (Canada India Reactor US) reactor, the terms of the agreement both with Canada and with US were explicit that India will use that reactor only for civilian and peaceful purposes. Yet a official government document on ‘Evolution of India’s Nuclear Policy’ claims that

“It (India) has not violated any international agreements either in 1974 or now, in 1998.”

Yes the Pokhran test in 1974 which used the plutonium produces by CIRUS was quite ‘peaceful’.

So my point for both left and right of Indian parliament is WHY BOTHER?  Never mind reading the agreement, lets just get the nuclear technology from US while we have a chance. Once we have it, our neighbors would give us lot of ‘peaceful’ reasons for its use. Let the US worry about its interpretation and consequences, as this guy from Nuclear Control Institute, seems worried. Just an excerpt from his article:

” Today, the U.S. government appears to be preparing for a repeat performance on CIRUS, only this time the end result may be an agreement that allows India to turn an Atoms for Peace reactor into a declared military production plant.  “

We can always make additions to ‘Evolution of India’s Nuclear Policy’  and maintain the sanctity of 123 agreement, whatever that is. 

Happy Birth Day Sparks Team Blog August 14, 2007

Posted by PagMax in Blogroll.
12 comments

As we celebrate the 60th Independence day of India, there is another reason to celebrate; 1st anniversary of Sparks Team Blog. 

 Most of the year has been a wonderful blogging experience until we all went into hibernation few months back. 

While I cannot sideline the importance of all the bloggers and contributors to this blog, I cannot thank enough to Moonmoon Sen, for giving birth to a wonderful daughter who grew up to give us our blog post of the year. (I do not even want to link it anymore, it has got its fair share of track backs and comments).

And thus, MMS (well I mean MoonMoon Sen in this case, but you thought right too) has helped us sail past 100,000 hits.

Some of the other highlights of the past year were planetsk’s take on laloo prasad’s Harvard lecture, sk’s  wide and versatile thoughts on every topic from coverage on abhi-ash wedding to intellectual reviews on some of the coolest gadgets out in the market to Sania Mirza’s sporting career.

And of course comments from our hip and happening cyber neighbor attracted lot of attention too…!!!

I hope to bring back some activity with this little refreshing post.

JAI HIND and JAI SPARKS

Five steps commemoration May 10, 2007

Posted by PagMax in Heritage, India, Mangal Pandey, Meerut, Reebok, Revolution, Sepoy Mutiny.
2 comments

I missed the parade and bad chapatis at Meerut, but I commemorate 150th anniversary of start of Indian Revolution:
by
1) Looking in awe this portrait of Mangal Pandey
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2) Successfully reading this rare and historic document which is court order for Mangal Pandey’s execution
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3) Borrowing “The great Indian Mutiny” by Richard Collier from my library.

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4) Feeling sorry for the lost heritage

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5) Buying Reebok shoes from Kohls.

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