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September 29, 2007

Joy’s of Windows XP

Filed under: Computer Software,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 11:47 PM

Windows XP is one of the most stable versions of Windows currently out there but it can also get to be very annoying especially to a Linux user. Things that are a snap in Linux are a pain to accomplish in XP and some things are just plain annoying. Below is a list of things that I find annoying in XP, if anyone knows a solution for any of them let me know.

1. Folder sorting doesn’t work if you add a new folder: I like my directories and files to be listed in alphabetical order sorted by file type so I have the ‘Auto Arrange’ checked with the system set to arrange icons by type. Now if I add a new folder/file to this directory it should automatically arrange the listing so that the listing is sorted, but that doesn’t happen. The file/directory ends up in the end of the directory listing. Refreshing the listing doesn’t help, I have to right click and choose ‘Arrange icongs by type’ before it sorts it correctly. This is damm annoying. In Linux (KDE) this happens automatically, at worst I have to hit F5 to refresh the screen to get the sorted listing.

2. Files/Directories get locked for no reason: I hit this one a lot. For some reason Windows randomly decides that a particular directory or file is in use (even though its not) and refuses to let me delete/rename it. It only releases the lock if I reboot the system. Which I don’t like to do often.

3. The auto-update doesn’t have a pause option: If you have Windows set for auto-updates and it decides to download a patch then you can’t pause it or cancel the download if you happen to need the bandwidth for other uses. Hit this a couple of times when Mom’s computer was downloading Windows updates and I needed to download a file on my laptop, the update was using up most of the bandwidth and my download was going really really slow but I couldn’t cancel the update.

4. The constant reboots: Windows needs to reboot for every little update that gets installed. Yesterday I switched on my mom’s computer and as soon as it started up and I logged in I got a message “An update has been installed that needs you to reboot the computer to take effect” (Don’t remember the exact words but it was something to this effect). How about that… I started up the system and it wanted me to reboot. I upgraded the Antivirus and installed the Windows updates on the system and it took a total of 7 reboots for it to make all the changes.

5. The virtual memory requirements: My laptop has a gig of RAM and usually I don’t run more than 3-4 programs at the same time (Editplus, Firefox and Thunderbird) though sometimes I also run Visual Studio and MS SQL server. invariably every few weeks I get a message stating that Windows is running out of virtual memory and is increasing the paging/virtual memory(?). I have gotten this message even when I was just running Firefox and Thunderbird. How can windows run out of a GIG of RAM when I am not running many programs? On my Linux box I run a lot more programs on a system with less RAM and still haven’t had any problems so far. I have burned DVD’s, watched a movie with 3-4 programs running at the same time without issues. Don’t dare do that on my XP system.

Ah well. Nothing is perfect. But atleast XP doesn’t crash often. I go for weeks at a time without having to reboot. Linux has its own set of annoyances but thats a story for another day/post.

Well this is all for now. Will post more later.

- Suramya

September 28, 2007

OpenDisc: Collection of open source software for download

Filed under: Computer Software,Interesting Sites,Linux/Unix Related — Suramya @ 8:15 PM

All regular visitors of this Blog know that I like Open Source Software (OSS) and whenever I get the chance I like to spread the word about them. Today I found out about OpenDisc which is a high qualiy collection of open source software (OSS) for the Microsoft Windows operating system (Most of them are available on Linux also) that can be used instead of propitiatory software.

You don’t have to download the entire CD if you just want a few particular programs, This section of their site lists all the programs they have on the CD and links to sites where you can download them directly.

Check it out. The less pirated software you use, the less the chance of getting your computer infected with a virus/trojan. If you are paying for legal software then this will save you a lot of money. Most propitiatory software on my system has been replaced with OSS alternatives so I can vouch for most of the software.

- Suramya

Importing old comments into the blog.

Filed under: Website Updates — Suramya @ 12:29 PM

Am importing a lot of old comments that were ‘lost’ when I moved from Serendipity to WordPress in 2005 back into the blog. So you might see some replies to really old posts that appear to be made by you. Don’t worry its just me.

I had forgotten about this till yesterday when I was looking at a particular post and rememberd that we had a discussion on that post in the comments but now the post had no comments. So pulled up a DB dump from 2005 and am now importing it.

Better late than never :)

- Suramya

September 27, 2007

Google Earth ‘Forces US Navy to Fix Swastika Buildings’

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 6:53 PM

The US Navy apparently has too much money because it can now afford to spend money on rebuilding perfectly good buildings that happen to look like a swastika from air.

Few symbols are as well known in the world today as the swastika and while it is common perception that the swastika is a German Nazi Party symbol, it is in fact far older that the Nazi Party. The Swastika dates over 3000 years which makes it older than the ancient Egyptian symbol for life, the Ankh and the Christian Cross. The most ancient Swastikas have been discovered in Susa in Persia, Mohenjodaro and Harappa in Pakistan and Sammarra in Mesopotamia. It was also used frequently by the Greek and the ancient Indian’s. Infact the German’s actually modified the Swastik before using it.

In Hinduism (especially in AryaSamaj, which is the branch that I somewhat follow) the swastika is one of the most holy symbols after the Om symbol and is used everywhere, in Temples, Houses (My house has a couple), weddings.

Just because the Nazi’s used it doesn’t mean it should be banned. If thats the case then we should also ban the cross as its used by Neo Nazi’s, White Supremacists and Skin heads (Some info here); the celtic Cross (Also used by White Supremacists). In fact every major religious symbol has been used by hate groups. So why aren’t the rest banned? They should be if the follow the same logic that we use to ban the Swastika.

Yes, they should ban it where its being used to spread neo-nazi propaganda but stuff like this doesn’t make sense. There are better ways to spend money.

Source: The Raw Feed: Google Earth Forces Navy to Fix Swastika Buildings

- Suramya

September 26, 2007

My trip to Garh Mukteshwar

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 6:06 PM

This Sunday Mom, Dad, Me and Richa (My cousin) made a trip to see Garh Mukteshwar which is located on the banks of Ganga and has a lot of religious significance. In-fact it used to be a suburb of Hastinnapur in ancient times. There is a temple of Mukteshwar Shiva here. Close to the temple is the ancient Jharkhandeshwar Shiva-ling. A fair is held here on Kartik Purnima which is almost as popular as the Kumbh Mela held in Allahabad.

We left at 4:15 am so that we would find empty roads and could reach there before the crowds started arriving. We got there at 5:45 am just as the Sun was rising. It looked beautiful. Once there we rented a boat and crossed the river to get to an area that didn’t have any people/shops and just relaxed over there for a while. Dad took a dip in the river to get rid of his ‘sins’ (According to Hindu belief bathing in Ganges washes off your sins). I washed my feet in it. Rest of the sins I am keeping with me.

At about 8:30 am we left from there and started the drive back. On the way back we stopped for breakfast as a road side restaurant where I had Onion Paratha’s. They were pretty good. We got home at about 11 am. Then I read a book and after that I fell asleep.

This is all for now. Will post more later.

- Suramya

September 21, 2007

Setting up NGO’s

Filed under: My Life,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 7:53 PM

Mom is starting a NGO (Non Government Organization) for charity work and watching her has been an educational experience. I never realized how much work setting up and organizing an NGO takes.

An NGO is somewhat of a incorrect characterization because all private companies can technically also fall under the NGO banner, but in India the term NGO refers specifically to organizations dedicated to social welfare/charity work that are not affiliated with the government.

Setting an NGO up requires that you have members from atleast 7 states in India and these members (called the founding members) can’t be blood relations. This is to prevent a group of friends or relatives deciding to start a NGO to get grant money and then disappearing with the money. It also shows that you have the capacity to work all over India. You can focus on a specific region but should have the capacity for broader work.

If you are wondering how I know so much, I have been proofreading the Rules and Memorandum for the NGO mom is setting up so got to know a lot from that, which was followed up with a lot of questions to mom. I will be designing and registering a website one as soon as the name is registered which should be sometime in October.

If any of you are interested in working in the NGO or want to donate money for charity work let me know and I will pass the word on. I can personally guaranty that the money won’t be misappropriated as I know most of the people who are going to be in the executive council of the NGO and they are honest people who want to work for the people. The regular memberships are not that expensive and I will let you know the pricing as soon as the fee structure has been finalized. (I have seen the drafts, but don’t want to commit incase it changes before finalization)

I won’t be active as a worker (Going out in the field) in the NGO (Lack of time) but am definetley going to be a member plus I will be the one maintaining the website and the mail servers etc.

I think its about time for me to start giving something back to the society and start helping people. This is one option that I will have.

Well this is all for now. Will post more later.

- Suramya

September 20, 2007

Starflight By Andre Norton

Filed under: Books Related,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 6:05 PM

Just finished reading ‘Star Flight’ which is an Omnibus edition containing ‘The Stars are Ours’ and ‘Star Born’ both written by Andre Norton in the 50′s. Baen released the omnibus as an ebook this month so I grabbed a copy and I liked it. The plot of the book is not very complicated but is interesting. In the first book, scientific thinking has been banned on earth (by the Pax) after an attack that destroyed most of the life on earth which was blamed on the Scientists. Now its death to be a thinker and any scientific knowledge is now taboo. But a handful of scientists are holding out and are secretly building a spaceship that would allow them to travel intergalactically under while the humans hibernate.

The person who developed the cold sleep is killed during a raid and only his brother knew the formula that he had developed. The book basically follows him and his niece as they try to join up with the scientists and then prepare the ship for flight. They make it to a planet that they call Astra after a few centuries of flight and settle happily over there.

In the second book, Centuries after the desperate flight from Earth, Pax has been overthrown on earth and humanity again reaches for the stars. A spaceship reaches the planet Astra, not knowing that the planet already has a colony established centuries ago by the fugitive humans from Earth . . . and that the apparently friendly natives of the planet are actually malevolent invaders from elsewhere, who are plotting to eliminate all humans from Astra, both the recent arrivals and the star born colonists.

I liked the first book better than the second one. A point which really bugged me was that when the colonists landed on Astra they didn’t face any major problems. All the food was edible, there were no surprises and everything was like it seemed. the only things that were different in the new planet were the colors and a couple of the plant life. The colonists had no trouble eating the native food and they pretty much faced no hardships. After reading books that portray landings on alien planets more realistically (At least to me) I thought that these guys had it really easy. The second one was better in this regard with the new guys getting pulled into an ongoing war without realizing that they were helping the wrong people.

Another issue I had with the book was all the spelling/proofing errors in the book. I have been proofing a lot of documents over the last few weeks so it really bugged me to find errors in the book. I guess they didn’t proof read it well enough when it was initially published.

In all the book was a good read. It didn’t require a lot of brain-power to follow the plot lines etc, good for light reading. When I want to do heavy reading I will read my programming text-books or Lord of the Rings (Which always puts me to sleep).

Now reading ‘Wolf Who Rules’ by Wen Spencer. Had read the eARC (electronic Advance Reader Copy) earlier and finally got my hands on the actual released version. There are not that many changes in the book (at least that I found so far) compared to the final released version.

This is all for now. Will post more later.

- Suramya

September 15, 2007

Vista ‘Wow’ factor Part 2

Filed under: My Life,My Thoughts,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 6:56 PM

I have spoken a bit about the Vista WOW factor in a previous post and in my last post I had mentioned that I had the opportunity to play some more with Vista on Gaurang’s laptop and had promised to log my ‘WOW’ experience in another post… So here it is. Without any further ado the Vista ‘WOW’ factor. :)

Gaurang had bought a new Sony Vaio laptop with is almost the top of the line, dual core, 2GB RAM and looks great. Unfortunately he got it with Vista pre-installed. I had mentioned the issues I had with Vista to him so he told me that it works ok and the automatic trouble shooter works great. According to him if a program crashed it would connect to the internet and would find a solution for the crash. So his Vista install was supposed to be very stable…. Yeah Right.

We wanted to share files between our computers so I enabled SAMBA on my Linux system and shared the folder in XP on my Laptop. I could share files without any issues between both my computers and the connection was pretty fast too. (We were both on a LAN) When I connected to my Linux box using its IP address I would get the password prompt within 2-3 seconds on Vista it would take almost 20 seconds for the password prompt to show up. WOW!

Then once he finally connected he started to copy files over but accidentally selected the wrong set so I asked him to cancel the copy and start again. It refused to cancel the copy. Once we clicked on cancel It said ‘Canceling Copy’ and sat like that for almost 5 mins… (This happened to us multiple times.) We tried killing the process but that killed explorer and we had to log out and back in so that we could see the Desktop again.

Then it kept freezing a lot. In the 1 1/2 days he was here we had to forcfully reboot his system about 10 times (Maybe more). When we applied patches and it asked us to reboot, Gaurang’s comment was “This is the first time today that I am rebooting the system normally” (This was after we had rebooted the box 5-6 times already). WOW!

Vista takes forever to reconnect to the net if you accidentally unplug the network cable. Noticed this because we had cables running all over the place and invariably one of us would pull the wrong cable and disconnect one of the laptop’s. On XP if you unplug the LAN cable and then replug it, it connects back to the net immediately. If the system is set for a dynamic IP it usually gets it within a few seconds. But Vista… If you unplug it, it took it atleast 10-15 seconds to get back on the net and this is not that we unplugged the wire and waited a min and then plugged it back it, It was me tripping on the cable and pulling it out for 1 or 2 seconds max. Talk about annoying.

Also Bit defender is one of the most annoying software ever made. Its like the Bonsai Buddy. Keeps popping up everytime making a nuisance of itself.

The best part was that my laptop is older than his, and is slower with less RAM but it is more responsive compared to his. On Vista without him running any additional programs (Except Antivirus and Firewalls) his system was using ~ 850 – 900 MB of RAM. On my system with me running 4-5 programs together the RAM usage was aprox 400 – 500 MB of RAM.

So after using it for a day I have decided that I am very Happy with Linux and if I have to use Windows I would rather use XP instead of driving myself nuts by trying to use Vista.

Have any of you had any similar experiences with Vista? Do share.

Well this is all for now. Will post more later.

Cya,
Suramya

September 14, 2007

A quick update

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 9:54 AM

Yeah I know its been a while since I last posted. Been a bit busy.
The medicines I was taking fixed the intestinal infection so now I can eat without throwing up. Gaurang visited last weekend and we had a lot of fun talking. He had brought his new laptop over so I got to try out Vista in a controlled environment and guess what I still think it sucks. I will log my ‘WOW’ experience in a separate post.

Redid some cabling in my house and bought a new UPS. So the router and DSL modem are now back in the Study and my Vonage line is hooked up to all the rooms separately. Earlier I only had it in my room (Because I had moved the router/modem over there).

Well this is all for now. Will post more later.

- Suramya

September 1, 2007

Me still alive… I think.

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 6:21 PM

The past two weeks have been interesting (as in the Chinese curse). On the 27th I fell sick, it started with my vomiting a lot all day along with a slight fever and giddiness. So we decided to go see a doctor as it had gotten to the point where I couldn’t drink a sip of water without throwing up. Instead of going to a regular doctor we decided to go to Swami Ramdev’s clinic where they prescribe aurvedic medicines. We did this because we thought that antibiotics usually have side effects and aurvedic medicines have helped me before.

The guy over there looked at me, poked a pen in my palm a couple of places and in my stomach and told us that I have hyper acidity and gave me some really horrible tasting medicines to eat. At first they helped and I stopped throwing up but today I started getting worse again with the same symptoms as before along with abdominal pains.

So this time we went to an actual doctor and got a whole lot of tests done because the aurvedic medicines had failed. This one did a lot more poking in my stomach and took my BP etc. So far we have no idea whats wrong. the Initial diagnosis is that I could have either of the following: Acute Appendicitis, Early version of Hepatitis, Mild Jaundice or a intestinal infection.

So far we have ruled out the Appendicitis after an ultra-sound. I will know more when the results of the rest of my tests come back. Lets see. I am getting tired of throwing up.

Had to give blood for the tests. Hated that part. (I am scared of needles).

Well this is all for now. Here’s hoping for the best.

Update (Sep 2nd): Well… its official. I have an intestinal infection. Taking antibiotics so that should help. On the other hand my hemoglobin is at 16.1 which is good news. Must be because of all the spinach I eat. :)

- Suramya

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