Sunday, November 30, 2008

A few questions...

Hello dudes and dudettes, 

I actually have nothing right now to really blog just putting up whatever hits my mind...hope its sensible...
This one song has impressed me to a very good extent. The song is 'I Disappear' from Metallica. The guitar riffs contain the attitude and is absolutely meaning full, and everything seems perfect with Hetfield's(the lead singer) voice too.
Also, the beats slightly remind me of 'Rock On!!'...

I Disappear-Metallica


Mayhem @ Mumbai

It was sad, shocking, exciting and in some ways good to hear about the attacks that shook Mumbai last week.
Sad, because it's disappointing to see how pathetic the intelligence is in India, though the Armed force is really doing a great job. The height of perfection in intelligence can be seen in the movie Bourne Ultimatum where the CIA seems to have its eyeball everywhere, even outside the USA. That's what we need here, in India, at least in places like Mumbai and other metropolitan cities where substantial damage can be caused to living and non living things, which are priceless...really!
Good, because its after this attack that we see many sensible changes across the country. My grandad used to tell me "When people strike among each other, soon something bigger will strike them all, bringing all of them together" and that's precisely what is taking place. India is seeing change, at last.


Another intriguing question arises:
Before that,
India-Pakistan partition, a painful event. Reason: Religion.
The worst part of human history, eradication of the Jews by Adolf Hitler. Reason: Religion.
The violent riot that broke out in Mumbai about fifteen years back, caused devastation, outright contradicting its very basis, which was Religion.
The globally known 9/11 incident made every heart on earth skip a beat. Even this incident is associated to the same reason.
And now, the blasts in Mumbai, whose actual causes are unknown, are also attributed to the violence caused by religion.

Which way is it? Religion for humans, or humans for religion?

If god is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, and everything that describes the ultimate greatness, why do we pursue baseless activities like sacrifice, pilgrimage etc...? 
IMO, half of our traditions, rituals etc actually contradict our besic definition of God. I really don't want to mention them as they would offend people. Nor do I want and arguement. Its just 'IMO'.

Actually, this question an be fine-tuned, by expanding our domains to other stupid things like Regionism, Politics etc. What do you guys say about this???

Well, I appologize if I got carried away. It's just that the more I am educated, the more I question them, and I still do not know if the force that's driving me into questioning is curiosity or opposition, gotta'  find that out!
But as always, every event teaches us a lesson. And we must look out for the lesson, instead of blaming each other, or the supernatural. Isn't it fair to live in a world where WE are responsible for OUR problems, and its OUR duty to find a solution for these? New questions arise after every answer, just like farmer grows another set of crops after each harvest, and each question has to give us a better understanding of what all is. And most importantly, a much better life.

Well, I'm not really in a mood to tell you about my travels across the web, so let's push that to the next post....
Till then,

Templar AKA Sumanth

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Go you Idiots, catch him...or Destroy the land!

Hello dudes and dudettes,

Here I am to share another part of my of my best days...

This happened a few weeks back...

I finished bursting the remaining of the crackers after Diwali and returned home to find a text message from my friend 'Klaus',


It brought back all the memories that had found themselves some nice place in the deep dwelves of my mind. I was choked with happiness for a moment. I replied an OK and then immediately switched my PC on, logged into my eMail account and sent him the mail with the file attached.
Those days...!
Well, the heading of this post is actually a quote taken from Blitzkrieg, an animated movie that I, 'Klaus'(a friend of mine), and other friends made sometime around the New Year's Day. I had completely forgotten about it until that particular day when I had seen the text message from 'Klaus' in my cell.

What I could call special is that we made the movie completely using PowerPoint and with really good voice modulation by 'Klaus' and another frined of mine who wishes to call himself by the ironic name "scholar."

Basically the Blitzkrieg, the movie gives a crude picture about alien abduction and how it results in a cross-species war.


Here's the foreword of the movie, 

"Every night, man gets some sleep, satisfied by the feeling that he is safe and no one is watching him. But is that real?
Other worldly watchers, look up and constantly watch every move of man, noting every step of development.
But this had not always been like what it is now.
Years, millenia ago, lived prosperously the Onres, on the planet Trantor, all well until sudden lighting flashes sprang up from the skies, turning each of these creatures into ashes in the recent past.
One group of Onres, the Zeds, survived the frightful lighting war, constructed a small, safe place to live and to investigate what all was...
And then, during their exploration, they saw hazardous machines which man called satellites, triggered radio signals that caused the lightning bolts.
They monitored the moves of man, trying to find a suitable moment and then in the twenty first day of the seventh month of the seventh year of earth's second millenium...Blitzkrieg"(this might get 'Klaus', or lightwarrior, little nostalgic...!)


On hearing about UFOs being spotted near the fictitious Robinson Street, Mike, the protagonist sets off to look for the 'Aliens' supposedly coming from Planet Trantor, of Waxy-Way Galaxy. Shortly after he is abducted by the aliens and taken to the planet,he is put in a Glass Prison, but soon miraclously escapes when a plate containing Pizza, served by the Alien to Mike, falls down, jamming the components of the Glass Prison.

Finding his way out, Mike takes one of those spaceships and safely returns home, but in the process, lures hundreds of such Aliens, or Zeds, to attack Earth. Saving Earth using wits and simple common sense forms rest of the story.

Characters and others:

The caracters of Blitzkrieg, namely, Mike, The Aliens, Mike's secretery, The Television Reporter, some of the humans on Earth, and the Master of the aliens were all designed skillfully, using Microsoft Paint, and Power Point, by another friend of ours, AB. His wonderful movements of that small fat Logitech mouse made wonders, making each of the characters look exactly as we all had visualized them to be.

The outer space and Planet Trantor was designed by me, though it was all "scholar's" idea of calling that place "the waxy-way galaxy". The sense of humour was perfect. Beside the Milky-way, was the! 'Klaus' designed the interiors of Mike's office while I gave my personal touch of making the office to be inside the Google-plex, the headquarters Google, Inc. 

Many vistas and cityscapes were downloaded from the net, deserving nothing special to be talked about.

Experience in THE MAKING:

On the whole, The Making of Blitzkrieg took about a month since we had completely depended on our school resources to create it from scratch. But the journey was memorable and still every incident is fresh in my mind, where 'Klaus' gave the idea of crushing plastic bags, and tearing pieces or paper to give the crackling effect of a radio, also an excellent accent and vocabulary regarding the militiary terms such as 'Roger That' and stuff, which are not heard in daily life, unless one has an abiding love for action games or movies, etc., which I don't.

One more occasion was 'Klaus' burst out laughing when he had to recite a an old hindi couplet in the background when the story takes you to the destruction of Taj Mahal, India. It took at least fifty re-records to get that perfect, but each one had its own charm, and was worth the time!

Otherwise, it also helped us a lot from the perspective of skipping classes big time and seeking justification from our computer science faculties who were proud of techies at school. The movie was set during the annual science fair, known as 'Spectra' where we were also given a chance to set up stalls allowing kid visitors to play computer gams for a limited time. We made quite some money, but didn't really show much love for it, hence gave it to the school.

End Note:

In a country like India, where nothing is more prominent than textbooks and rote memory in our system of education, we, or Psychohistorians(thats what we called the production unit, in the movie) had a chance to break through the conventional mode, and learn a lot of things such as teamwork, perseverence, and most importantly, loads about computers..!!!

Taking this as an oppurtunity, I would like to thank my friend, 'Klaus', who recently shifted half way across the country, and others, AB and "scholar" who taught me what it takes create a masterpiece...!!!

Templar AKA Sumanth

P.S. I'm sorry I did not name my friends properly. But it's for their own good.

On Thermo, Gumbo, Chrome, and others...

Hello all,
The last blog went unnoticed to some extent, probably due to its sheer size. I appologize for that!
The week went with a mix of good and bad...until this monday, I had been seriously preparing for my  IITJEE mock test, and despite the prep, I fell to a disappointing 300 on 534! 
Apart from that, I had visited my old school to attend the annual day, where I was awarded Certificate of Excellence and also met my old friends there, which cheered me up. Also, I met someone whom...ahem...that's it!


Well, recently I was browsing through a few tech sites and here's something interesting from yet another corner of the WIDE WIDE WORLD WIDE WEB!

Adobe Systems, facing greater competition from Microsoft, is updating its Flash platform with new tools for building user interfaces for Web and enterprise applications.

At its AdobeMax conference in San Francisco on Monday, Adobe will hand out a technical preview of Flash Catalyst, a new tool that aims to be a workflow system for designers and software developers creating user interfaces. Announced earlier this year under the code name Thermo, Catalyst will be released in beta early in 2009, Adobe said on Monday. It still isn't saying when the final product will ship, however.

Adobe will also give out a preview of the next major release of Flex Builder, its toolset for creating rich Internet applications (RIAs). One goal of the release, code named Gumbo, is to attract server-side developers who are more familiar with languages like PHP and Cold Fusion. The final product is due in the second half of 2009.

Flex applications run in a browser using Adobe's Flash Player, or on the desktop in its Air runtime environment. Rivals include Microsoft's Silverlight, VisualStudio and Windows Presentation Foundation, and Sun Microsystems' JavaFX.

Most Flex development so far has been for the Web, but Adobe is making a push for more enterprise applications that run on the desktop in Air. On Monday it released Air 1.5, an updated runtime that includes an encrypted database for securing data on the client. SAP will be at the show to announce that developers can use Flash and Flex with SAP's Web Dynpro environment to build better interfaces for SAP applications.

Bridging the gap between developers and designers is a big theme in the new products. With Catalyst, developers will be able to import user interface (UI) elements created by designers in Photoshop, Illustrator and Fireworks, then convert them into UI components that maintain their original "skin," or look and feel, said David Wadhwani, general manager of Adobe's platform business unit.

Designers will still do most of their work in Adobe's creative products, he said, but will use Catalyst to define how the UI components interact as a users move through an application. The idea is to create an environment where developers and designers can collaborate more easily, instead of having to exchange files via email or sitting together in front of a computer.

Catalyst could be useful addition to the Flash platform, said David Wolf, a vice president with Cynergy Systems, which develops UIs for businesses and ISVs. Getting creative types and software developers together is "like putting a humidifier and a dehumidifier in the same room," he said. "They just don't get along."

The workflow aspect is one of the few areas where Adobe's RIA tools lag behind those of Microsoft, which has done a good job with its design tool Expression Blend, according to Wolf, whose company builds applications with both vendors' products. Microsoft's RIA tools are less mature than Adobe's, he said, but Microsoft was able to learn from Adobe when it created its products, he said.

"Like any first mover, Adobe has a few weaknesses that Microsoft, in their chasing-the-tail-lights approach, was able to jump on," he said.

Still, Adobe Flex, around for about five years, is more "mature and predictable" than Silverlight and Windows Presentation Foundation, Wolf said. Flex is "the defacto choice" for most of Cynergy's clients unless they are already committed Microsoft shops. But he expects Microsoft to catch up.

"Judging from the way our Microsoft practice has been growing, and the innovation Microsoft has been doing, we think they're going to end up being a pretty even duopoly over the next 18 months," he said.

The new version of Flex Builder will be more data-centric to make it more familiar to server-side developers, Adobe's Wadhwani said. "They'll be able to drag a data source out there -- from a BI tool or a database -- and Flex Builder will predict what they want it to look and feel like and then give them the ability to tweak that look and feel, rather than having to implement it from scratch," he said.

Flex could be used instead of Adobe's PDF format to create data-entry forms like those used by hospitals and governments, he said. With PDFs "you're just sticking a paper-based metaphor up on the screen." Flash and Flex can create more user-friendly forms that reduce input errors, and PDF can be used just for the final document output, he said.

The updates also include performance and productivity enhancements. Air 1.5, for example, can boost application performance with WebKit's new SquirrelFish Java interpreter, Wadhwani said. Free to download, Air 1.5 is available today for Windows and the Mac and is due for Linux by the end of the year.

Adobe said in September that Air was installed on about 25 million PCs, making it far less ubiquitous than its Flash Player. But Adobe expects to reach 100 million PCs by February, a year after its initial release, Wadhwani said.

Wolf said he's happy with Adobe's direction but hopes to hear more this week about its long term strategy.

"I don't know what Adobe's larger vision is, which is always a concern for people. What's next for Flex? Is it just a tools play, is it a platform play, is it going to be fronting document management? That's the one outlier we have -- we don't really know where they are going with it."


Apart from that, 

Google patches Chrome

I am extremely sorry for this, but I could neither find a smaller article, nor make one of my own, since it was quite difficult to cover the whole thing up. Hence, I take this article from a site which you can google later and find out.

Google Inc. has patched Chrome to prevent attackers from stealing files from PCs running the open-source browser.

The update, however, has not been pushed out to most users yet.

Google quashed the bug in a developer-only version of Chrome that has not been sent to all users via the browser's update mechanism. Chrome users, however, can reset the browser to receive all updates, including the developer editions, with the Channel Chooser plug-in.

Chrome, which was released Tuesday, fixes a vulnerability that could be used by hackers to read files on a user's machine, then transfer them to their own malicious servers. "We now prevent local files from connecting to the network with XMLHttpRequest() and also prompt you to confirm a download if it is an HTML file," Mark Larson, Chrome's program manager, said in an entry to the browser's developer blog.

Google also enhanced Chrome by adding several new features to the build, including a bookmark manager, more granular control over the browser's built-in privacy mode and a revamped pop-up blocker.

Chrome also includes a newer version of V8, the name for Google's JavaScript interpreter.

The current "official" beta build of Chrome is

Google's browser accounted for only 0.74% of the browser usage share last month, according to data from Web metrics company Net Applications Inc.


Coming to a few Cool Websites,

This is one interesting, and funny conversation, which, to some extent makes sense, that I found in a server, which is I know not where. Do visit it, its really good.

What do you get if you cross a search engine with a religious encyclopedia? 

Creedopedia - a new way to search the web. Other search engines spew out meaningless site-names and mangled phrases.


Well, I guess, my time's up. I got to go and get some sleep before starting my routine at dawn!
[Yeah, aiming at IIT is a tough commitment to honour, and surprisingly I'm doing better nowadays! ;)  ]

Templar AKA Sumanth

P.S. I got a new guitar and have enrolled myself for weekly guitar lessons. Its going great, actually!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Look out through your Window, think beyond the Vista...look for the 7 colours...

Hello dudes and dudettes,

The week might have gone well for most of you with Bond having risen on Friday. But mine wasn't really great. I had an aweful 7-day working week, with classes even on Sunday! With the phase test(its a termly exam in the IITJEE format) closing in on next monday, all the teachers, and the students of course, are gearing up to make it to success there. This is because, the nest phase test shall be a reshuffling one, and shall include all the lessons we've done so far!

Well, now let's get back to the core theme of this blog. Technology. I've been blogging on a few general things for a while, and I suppose it shall continue, thogh, keeping in mind what things really belong to this place. It's really been a while since I have blogged on whats going on around...

So, here we go:

*Let me tell you that I have quoted a few lines, which wer best left untouched, from various sources(apart from wikipedia). And I heartily credit them, though I do not wish to mention them here. But with proper googling skills, you can find them out yourselves.

Windows 7

What if Microsoft waved a magic wand and everything people hated about Windows Vista went away? You might have an operating system that you liked--and that's what Microsoft appears to be striving for with Windows 7.

Windows 7 (formerly codenamed Blackcomb and Vienna) is the next version of Microsoft Windows and the successor to Windows Vista. Microsoft stated in 2007 that it is "scoping Windows 7 development to a three-year timeframe", and that "the specific release date will ultimately be determined by meeting the quality bar."

Microsoft has said all along that Windows 7 would refine (but not rewrite) the Vista kernel. However, some of the anticipated changes depend on support that Microsoft may not be able to control. For example, a number of cool network features will work only if your employer installs Windows Server 2008 R2 (also handed out to reviewers). Other new features require cooperation by hardware vendors, though this time their contribution won't extend to rewriting drivers. Still other changes involve slimming down the code by offloading applications (such as e-mail and photo management) that were once bundled with the code. With Windows 7 you'll get them either as downloadable apps or as Web services.


Windows Vista's interface makeover emphasized style over substance: Among its most-hyped new features were the Aero user interface's translucent window frames (woo-hoo!) and the Flip 3D window switcher (flashy, but not particularly useful). It didn't do much to repair Windows' reputation for being annoying; in fact, the in-your-face tactics of the new User Account Control security feature made Vista more aggravating. And much of what was new in Vista, such as its desktop search, amounted to Microsoft playing catch-up with Apple's OS X.

Windows 7 takes a strikingly different approach. Its interface contains plenty of tweaks, but they're relatively subdued and they emphasize everyday efficiency rather than sizzle. Several of the changes aim specifically to get the OS out of your way so you can work without distractions. And virtually none of what's new feels like warmed-over OS X.

The changes start with the Windows Taskbar, a core component of the Windows experience that has changed very little since it debuted in Windows 95. With Windows 7, it undergoes its biggest remodeling job ever: The familiar bars containing the name of a running application and a tiny icon are gone, and in their place are unlabeled, jumbo icons that represent running applications. The icons look like gargantuan versions of the tiny icons in the old Taskbar's Quick Launch toolbar--as well they should, since they supplant Quick Launch in W7. (The new Taskbar also looks a bit like OS X's Dock, though it doesn't behave like the Dock.)

Vista's Taskbar introduced thumbnail-size previews of windows that would appear when you hovered the mouse over an app in the Taskbar. They were fairly handy, but if you had multiple windows of an application open--say, several browser windows or several word-processing documents--you could see only one of them at a time. In Windows 7, thumbnails for multiple windows appear onscreen simultaneously, in a ribbonlike horizontal strip. Hover over a thumbnail, and you get a full-size preview of the window; you can also close windows from the thumbnails.

Click on an icon in the Taskbar--or on a program in the Start menu--and you get a "jump list," a new Windows feature that's a twist on the context-sensitive menus that the OS has had for years. Jump lists provide one-click access to various tasks associated with an application--Play All Music for Windows Media Player, for instance, or a list of recently opened files in Word or Excel.

Not every jumbo icon in the Taskbar represents a running application, however. In Windows 7, the Taskbar can include icons for devices you've attached to your PC, too. Hook up a digital camera, for example, and an icon for it will appear in the Taskbar; click its icon, and you'll move to the Device Stage, a new control center for activities involving peripheral devices.

Unfortunately, most of what makes the new Taskbar intriguing isn't yet ready for beta--let alone prime time. The preview version of Windows 7 distributed to reviewers and PDC attendees this week has the old-style Taskbar. Still, judging from our brief hands-on time with the new Taskbar, it could make life in Windows more pleasant in meaningful ways that Vista's splashy effects never did.

Farewell to Icons!

Windows 7's Taskbar still contains the Notification Area, also known as the System Tray--a feature that has traditionally packed more aggravation per square inch than any other area of Windows, since it tends to bulge at the seams with icons for applications that you don't remember installing and that often pester you with balloons alerting you to things you don't care about. In Windows 7, Microsoft finally supplies tools you can use to tame the mess. For each app, you can choose to display or hide its icon, and to show or suppress its notifications. The overflow area--where icons that don't fit in the Notification area live--remains, but it's far less unwieldy: It now pops up, rather than shoving applications in the Taskbar to the left, and you can move icons between it and the Notification area by dragging them from one place to the other.

At the far right of the new Taskbar you'll see a little rectangle of what looks like unused real estate. Click it, and all open windows will minimize so you can see the desktop. This feature duplicates an icon in the now-defunct Quick Launch toolbar, but if you're a fan of the desktop applets known as Windows Gadgets, you may use it more often. That's because the Sidebar, which formerly housed Gadgets, is gone, and they sit right on the desktop. (Microsoft says that users complained that the Sidebar ate up too much precious on-screen real estate, especially on laptops with no pixels to spare.)

Microsoft has also introduced a couple of easy-to-use window management features that users may find helpful: If you want to work in two windows side-by-side, dragging the second window to either side of the screen snaps them both into place so that each takes up half the screen. If you drag a window to the top of your display, it snaps to the top, taking up the width of the screen.

The Magic Touch

One major area of change in Windows 7's interface won't mean much to most PC users at first blush: Only a handful of current machines, such as HP's TouchSmart PC and Dell's Latitude XT laptop, support multitouch input; but in theory this feature would let you operate a touch-screen-equipped Windows 7 computer as if it were a massive iPhone, using your fingertips to launch applications, shuffle windows around, and enlarge and shrink photos by grabbing them with both hands. Not surprisingly, Microsoft hasn't yet enabled all of this functionality. Using a TouchSmart PC at the Windows 7 workshop, we could fingerpaint with two fingers in Paint, but we couldn't perform two-fingered photo manipulations that would be a lot more useful in real life.

Microsoft promises that Windows 7 will ship with more touch features. The company is also working to make the OS smart enough to figure out whether you're using a mouse or your fingers so it can adjust itself accordingly. For example, if you tap the Start button with your fingertip rather than with the mouse pointer, you'll get a slightly larger Start menu that requires less finesse to navigate. And you don't get a mouse pointer when you touch the screen with your finger--which makes perfect sense, since your finger servers as its own pointer. Instead, you get a momentary puddling effect to indicate that you've made contact with the screen.

Will the touch interface that makes the iPhone cool work on a notebook or desktop system? I'm skeptical after finding out things, but Windows 7 lays the software groundwork that will allow PC manufacturers to give it a try, at least.

Regarding Performance 

Some of the biggest criticisms of Vista relate to performance, and Microsoft appears to have made addressing these a priority. In our brief experience with the early-beta code, boot time seemed fast. Of course, we won't be able to make a fair comparison until we can test identical machines with the same bare-bones installations in Vista and W7, but Microsoft did identify a couple of steps it has taken to speed things up. First, Windows 7 initializes many services in parallel; and second, it has fewer services to initialize.

Microsoft engineers are working on several areas to improve general PC performance. One focus is to change the way the OS allocates memory to new windows. In Vista, the amount of memory allocated per window goes up as you add windows, to the point where the system often shuts down Aero because application windows are soaking up too much system memory. In Windows 7, each new window will be allocated the same amount of memory, and as a result adding new windows won't impose a prohibitive burden on system resources.

Other changes are designed to make the OS less crash-prone. Fault-tolerant heaps, for example, are designed to address memory management problems without crashing the problem application; at the same time, process reflection reduces crashes by allowing Windows to diagnose and (maybe) repair process problems without crashing the application involved. Microsoft says that its new OS "sandboxes" printer drivers so that problems stemming from poorly written drivers won't create problems for other drivers or for the system as a whole.

Microsoft is also working on ways to prolong notebook battery life by reducing power consumption. Examples of this endeavor include enabling notebooks to cut back on background activities, to perform intelligent display dimming (similar to technologies used with cell phone displays), and to play back DVDs more efficiently.

Devices and Hardware

Since Windows 7 is more of a major refresh than a departure from Vista, it doesn't require new drivers for peripherals: If something works with Vista, it should work with Windows 7. Nevertheless, Microsoft has instituted some changes to help people use connected devices such as cameras, cell phones, media players, and printers with their PCs.

Instead of the Auto-play window that appears in Vista and XP when you hook up one of these peripherals, you'll now get--if vendors play along--a more useful Device Stage window that shows not only a photorealistic rendering of the device but also a list of associated services and tasks. For example, with a multifunction printer you might see an icon for launching the scanning software--and you'll almost certainly see a link to the vendor's site for toner or ink supplies.

Other options might include a link to a PDF of the manual (which would save you the trouble of having to track it down on the Web) or, in the case of a cell phone, software for syncing Outlook contacts (even with a non-Windows Mobile handset).

To make these services readily accessible once you've installed a device or peripheral, Windows 7 lets you create a device icon that acts much as taskbar application icons do: The image of the peripheral appears on a taskbar button; and when you hover over it, the services in Device Stage appear as a jump list.

The Device Stage for a peripheral exists only if the vendor creates an XML document based on a Microsoft template; in order for this to happen, the vendor would have to get Microsoft to sign off on the document (Microsoft says that this prerequisite is necessary to ensure quality control). It's not clear at this point whether the overhead involved will discourage vendors from participating, but Microsoft says that the OS will download such documents whenever they're available (using the same Windows Metadata Services technology that transparently downloads cover art for albums in Windows Media Player).

Device Stage has the potential to help vendors integrate their hardware with Windows more successfully and save money on tech support (since, if you have the manual handy, you may not need to call in). The technology also gives vendors a marketing opportunity: They can prominently display their logo next to the rendering of the device on the upper half of the Device Stage window.

Another hardware-related innovation is the ability to go beyond adjusting the font size on a high-DPI (dots-per-inch) display, which you can already do in Windows Vista, and use a new Magnifier feature to enlarge a part of the display--for example, if you need to read a small block of tiny type.

Windows 7 will also pack some easy-to-use tools for adjusting external displays--specifically, to help people connect a notebook to a projector.

Ease of Networking

Networking features in Windows 7 address a number of problems that arise from the use of corporate PCs on noncorporate networks, particularly by workers who take their laptops home after work and on weekends. If you've ever spent hours trying to print on a networked home printer from a laptop tied to a corporate domain, you'll appreciate the W7-given ability to associate your notebook with a HomeGroup for easy access to printers and files on other PCs--without any tinkering with your IT department's carefully applied domain configuration settings. We haven't tested this capability yet, but Microsoft says that HomeGroup will also prevent other PCs on your home network from accessing any of the (potentially sensitive) corporate data on your laptop.

But wait: There's more. Microsoft says that Windows 7 will be smart enough to recognize when you're at home and when you're at your office. As a result, if you print a document, the OS will choose the appropriate printer to use. And a new federated search capability will let you sift through files on PCs across the network, and apply filters to your results. This means that you can do a keyword search and then refine it by specifying a specific file type.

"Windows 7 promises easier Wi-Fi network and Bluetooth peripheral setup, too, though we weren't able to test either on the early beta software. Hovering over the Taskbar icon for these network adapters produces a jump list of available networks (or devices, in the case of Bluetooth); then you merely click the one you want to connect to (or pair with, in the case of a Bluetooth peripheral)."

Another improvement is wake-on-wireless-LAN, the ability to bring a Wi-Fi-connected PC out of sleep mode remotely (just as you've long been able to do with ethernet-connected systems).

Back at the office, other networking improvements only apply if your company installs Windows Server 2008 R2 and your IT department allows them. For example, you might be able to click a link in a corporate e-mail message to launch an application behind the firewall--without having to make a VPN connection first (Windows 7 will transparently handle the security arrangements).

Searching and Organizing

One interesting new feature in Windows 7's Explorer is called "libraries." Essentially it's a way of making like content scattered in various folders easily accessible. The OS ships with several predefined libraries--for documents, music, pictures, and video--but you can create your own based on whatever criteria you choose--file type, date created, or other metadata such as music genre.

Libraries figure actively in Windows 7's improved search: Results are organized based on libraries rather than on file locations. Windows 7 also allows you to perform so-called federated searches--searches across multiple PCs on your network. So, for example, you might search for photos across the photo libraries of all the PCs in your HomeGroup.

More Multimedia

Once upon a time, Microsoft's approach to audio and video seemed to hinge on Windows Media Player and its file formats coming to dominate digital entertainment the way Windows dominates the PC. Instead, we live in a world where multiple approaches to media flourish, and where iTunes and the iPod, not Microsoft-based products, are everywhere. Windows 7's new multimedia capabilities acknowledge this reality by emphasizing features that help the OS play well with others--including with products that hail from a certain company named after a piece of fruit.

Windows 7 aims to streamline playback, too--so much so that it offers two different lightweight ways to consume media without employing full-strength Windows Media Player. You can listen to music and watch video by using the preview pane in Windows Explorer, without launching Windows Media Player at all. Or you can load up WMP but work with a simple view that hides you media library and fits comfortably into a small floating window on your desktop leaving the rest of your display visible (and usable).

No matter how you play your files, Windows 7 handles a bunch of non-Microsoft formats that Vista and Windows XP don't, including AAC audio and H.264 video--the standards favored by Apple--as well as DiVX video and AVHDC, a format used by many high-definition camcorders. That ecumenical approach lets the media player tap into entertainment libraries that you've created using iTunes. Not surprisingly, it can't play iTunes music and movies shielded by Apple's FairPlay copy protection; but rather than showing them and then choking when you try to enjoy them, it doesn't show them at all. In our tests, the updated WMP handled unprotected AAC music without a hitch; an H.264 video podcast that we downloaded from iTunes played, but it looked much blockier than it did when we watched it in iTunes on the same Windows 7 PC.

The new OS aims to play traffic cop for an array of media types and devices that may live on your home network. It can find media stored on multiple PCs on the Internet (including ones in HomeGroups), and it can route media files from them to media-streaming devices that support the Digital Living Room Network Alliance (DLNA) standard, such as the Sonos Multi-Room Music System. If a particular piece of media is saved in a format that a specific streaming device doesn't support, Microsoft says, W7 will convert it on the fly. That sounds very slick, but the proof is in the playing: We haven't tested these networked features yet, but we'll report back when we do.

Windows Media Center, the über-application that does everything from record live TV to distribute Windows' media features to networked Xbox 360 consoles. is back in Windows 7. (Microsoft hasn't announced details regarding the versions of W7 that will be available, but Media Center will presumably be included in one or more high-end consumer editions of the OS.) Microsoft says that Media Center includes new Internet TV features that give users a single guide and playback interface for video content from all over the Web. Again, that sounds intriguing--but if the feature is available in the Windows 7 preview edition we examined, it's so well-hidden that we couldn't track it down. Media Center also works with HomeGroup networking to let you find recorded video and other media files no matter where they're hiding on your network.

On Applications

As previously reported, Microsoft won't be shipping Windows 7 with all of the bundled applications that the company has historically installed by default with the OS. Instead, it will deliver e-mail, photo gallery features, and video-editing capabilities as downloadable applications, collectively called Windows Live Essentials. Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Photo Gallery, and Windows Live Movie Maker have been available in beta form for some time.

There you can also find beta versions of Windows Live Writer (a blogging tool), Windows Family Safety (parental control tools), Microsoft Office Outlook Connector (software for using Outlook 2003/2007 as a front end to Hotmail) and Windows Live Toolbar (to make other live apps easily accessible from Internet Explorer).

Windows Live Essentials should not be (but probably will be) confused with Windows Live services, which may be associated with desktop apps but require nothing more than a browser to run. For example, Windows Live Hotmail is an e-mail client accessible only in a browser, whereas Windows Live Mail runs on the desktop.

In discussing Windows Live, Microsoft's Brian Hall noted that Microsoft has yet to offer applications that relate to social networking and user-generated content (with ratings), but he hinted that such apps may be coming. Other Microsoft officials said that new Windows Live services will be announced November 12.

Not all traditional accessories have been eliminated; some old standbys remain, with face lifts. Windows Paint's basic image-editing features are now exposed via a Scenic Ribbon à la Office 2007. The ribbon also appears in Windows 7's WordPad, and the OS's APIs will make the ribbon available to third-party developers who believe that it will benefit their applications. Though some users didn't appreciate having to learn new locations for many features in complicated Office apps, the ribbon works well for the relatively few and simple tools in Paint and WordPad.

Also in the future OS: a refresh of Calculator, and a Sticky Notes feature that supports ink (as well as text) and permits resizing of notes.


Bill Gates, in an interview with Newsweek, suggested that the next version of Windows would "be more user-centric."When asked to clarify what he meant, Gates said:

“That means that right now when you move from one PC to another, you've got to install apps on each one, do upgrades on each one. Moving information between them is very painful. We can use Live Services to know what you're interested in. So even if you drop by a [public] kiosk or somebody else's PC, we can bring down your home page, your files, your fonts, your favorites and those things. So that's kind of the user-centric thing that Live Services can enable. [Also,] in Vista, things got a lot better with [digital] ink and speech, but by the next release there will be a much bigger bet. Students won't need textbooks; they can just use these tablet devices. Parallel computing is pretty important for the next release. We'll make it so that a lot of the high-level graphics will be just built into the operating system. So we've got a pretty good outline."


Phew! Well, that was kind of exhaustive, ain't it. Yeah, actually,  I have been drafting this, and also collecting from my sources since last month. It was a tough journey across the web, and time consuming to make it right! 

As ever, every hard worker deserves some rest. And that's what Iam going for. 
So till then,

Templar AKA Sumanth

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Review Blog: The fire wasn't that hot.

Hello all, its been a while since my last blog. I had been held up with series of tests at college, and my coaching classes. I also had to devote time for things that I hate most: Studying Organice Chemistry, Completing assignments of Circular Motion(Physics) and Working out problems of Trigonometry. But all the same, they did yield results ;-)

About a month back, the day before my birthday, on the twentieth of September, released a popular novel, Brisingr. I had finished reading the novel within a week after I got it, but had other things in my head to blog about.

Novel: Brisingr
Author: Christopher Paolini
Publisher: Random House/ Double Day


To people who do wonder what Brisingr is about, let me tell you a little about its prequels, Eragon and Eldest. Those who know about it may skip this part and go to the review.

*Start story*
Eragon is a farm boy who is baffled when a polished blue stone appears before him. Since he is from a poor family, he takes it, hoping to sell it for a good price. Eragon's mother is Selena, who has not been since Eragon's birth. She had left him to be raised by his uncle, Garrow and his late wife Marian to raise them as their own. Garrow's son, Eragon's cousin, Roran also lives with them at the secluded village called Carvahall.
Enter Saphira: The stone that Eragon takes cracks, and a dragon comes out. Eragon touches, and thence, the dragon, whom he names as Saphira, and he have an irrevocable bond fromed between them. And he becomes one of the legendary dragon riders.
The story of dragon riders starts when the elves bond with dragons eons ago, pooling their powers to form great peacekepers, and what we can call, 'an Ideal duo', who have very few limitations compared to any other race mentioned in the book(Elves, Dwarves, Humans, Urgals, Ra'zac, etc). Among the riders rises a evil king Galbatorix, who kills every last of those riders, and declares himself the king of the land Alagaesia. 
Eragon, is the only free rider outsied Galbatorix's crutches.
Once this message reaches the king's ear, he sends his grotesque servants, the Ra'zac, to bring Eragon and Saphira to him. They both however escape, but Garrow, Eragon's uncle dies.
To seek revenge, Eragon sets out to trace Ra'zac with the help of Brom. In the process, learns that Riders are magicians, etc etc. Near the Ra'Zac's lair, Brom dies in an ambush.
Enter Murtagh: Murtagh, a young guy who exiled the king's fortress, claims himself to be the son of on of the King's Foresworn(Foresworn are like Death Eaters of HP), but who defies the king. 
The trio later rescue an elf during their travels and reach Varden, a rebel against the King, with whom they decide to join. Here, Eragon finds himself starting to like the elf, Arya.
The climax of the story has a war where Eragon fiercely duels with a shade(man possessed by spirits), and kills him, but ends up suffering chronic injuries on his back. Also an old man appears in Eragon's reverie, who offers to explain everything that happened to Eragon since the whole plot began.
*End Eragon*
*Start Eldest*
Eldest begins soon after Eragon. This story contains 3 storylines mainly, Eragon's, Eragon's cousin, Roran's and that of Nasuada, who is the next leader of Varden, after her father Ajihad Dies in the war.
Eragon's storyline: Eragon and Saphira set out to the place of elves, along with a dwarf Orik, and Arya, the elf whom he rescued on his way to Varden. Murtagh goes missing, and is presumed dead. On reaching Du Weldenvarden, the place of elves, Eragon discovers that Arya is the daughter of Elven Queen Islanzadi, and another rider, the eldest of all that Eragon had known exists. He is the man who brushed across Eragon's ming in the war that had occured. His name is Oromis, and his dragon is Glaedr.  Oromis and Glaedr teach a lot of things to Eragon and Saphira regarding the world of Riders, their history, magic summoning energy, communication through mind and also a little information about Brom. Brom was a rider, coincidentally his dragon, Saphira's namesake died in a duel with Morzan. Morzan is Murtagh's dad, Galbatorix's most favoured servant. Brom then kills Morzan and his dragon, and then takes his sword, which now is with Eragon. 
Also, a once-in-100-years ceremony called the Blood-Oath ceremony takes place, and there some of the elves magically cure all the injuries of Eragon, and make him substantially more powerful than what he was, apt to be called an Elf-Human crossbreed. Realizing that his life now nearly parallels to that of an elf, he takes it to confess to Arya about his love for her. However, she rejects telling him that there is a very big difference in their ages, and that she does not regard him more than a good friend.
Soon news comes about a war in Surda by Varden against the King, and Eragon leaves for it.
There he faces another rider - Murtagh, who tells him that Morzan was Eragon's father too, and that both of them were brothers. The war ends leaving bitter thoughts in Eragon's mind, and Murtagh claims Morzan's sword as his Eldest son, and spares Eragon.
 Roran's Storyline: Roran is completely distressed after his father's murder, and blames Eragon for all that occured, and curses him for his absence. The king's men return again, to kidnap Roran and use him against Eragon. But in what occurs as a retaliation, a lots of people of Carvahall die, and Katrina, Roran's betrothed, is abducted by the Ra'zac. Roran vows to traverse through the Spine, across the land along the sea, and seek refuge in Surda, along with the rest of the people in Carvahall. With a lot of effort, he mobilizes the people and takes them. He finally reaches Surda during the war, contributes to the war and there, meets Eragon, the dragon rider. 
Nasuada's Storyline: This lady's storyline is somewhat dry and boring to some extent. It mainly refers to her migration of  Varden from one part of the land to other, and the challenges faced in managing. Also some politics regarding the administration of Varden is mentioned.
*End Eldest*



*Disclaimer: You may find me mentioning many incidents from the story, hence spoiling the book for those who haven't read it. Beware.

This book can be aptly compared to deathly hallows, since both are very much eventful, but lack a proper story. 
It is mentioned that there were only three dragon eggs left in alagaesia, under Galbatorix's crutches. One of them was smuggled out by Brom, and out of it came Saphira. The second one hatched for Murtagh, the dragon's name, if I haven't mentioned, is Thorn. The third one was very much expected, but there is no information regarding this in this book, which is one main drawback of the story.
The full name of the book is actually:
Brisingr: The seven promises of Eragon Shadeslayer and Saphira Bjartskular.
And the title, to some extent is apt. The story mainly describes the different promises that Eragon and his dragon saphira have made to many people.
Here they are:
  • Eragon and Saphira promise Roran to join on his mission to save Katrina from the Ra'zac, and avenge the death of Garrow.
  • The duo swear fealty Nasuada as a political stunt to earn trust.
  • They also promise Oromis that they shall mention about their existance to no one.
  • They join the Durdrimst Igneitum clan of the dwarves, allowing their king to adopt him into the dwarf race, thuse gaining all the rights reserved to the dwarves.
  • They promise to assist Elven Queen Islanzadi during the times of need.
  • He promises to cure a human girl of his untentional curse which becomes a great fiasco in Eldest, though I didn't mention that.
  • Saphira promises to rebuild Isidar Mithrim, a sort of monument of the dwarves.
Eragon keeps up most of his promises throughout the book. But the book does not attract us as much as the others did. Also, there's a lot of spicy girlish stuff regarding the love story of Roran and Katrina since she is rescued. They get married and expect a child at the end of the book.
Also a lot of Dwarf politics is described in the process of electing a new king of the dwarves, since the old king is killed by Murtagh during the last war.
Few of the new elements mentioned in this book are:
>> The Nomad Language: It is the language of the tribe Nasuada is actually native of. Though there is only one word mentioned from their language, they are mentioned in one of the chapters, where a politically sensitive incident takes place.
>>Art of swordmaking: Eragon has lost his only blade to Murtagh and seriously needs a weapon to guard himself. He eventually gets a new blade, which he names 'Brisingr' and the process takes place in a very unusual and complicated way. But this is described and explained excellently. Paolini reveals his sources for information regarding this process.

As we proceed through the story, many facts, which were actually predictable from the information in the previous books, are revealed, like, Brom being Eragon's father and not Morzan, Arya's first love and existence of Sloan, a psycho butcher of Carvahall, who is Katrina's father.
IN a nutshell, the book is an excellent piece of fantasy and imagination, worth reading, but not as good as the previous ones. But since most of the things were predictable, and some of the expectations, which the book did not live up to, I would rate the book a little lower than its prequels.

My Rating:
Characters: 2.5/5
The characters in this book were too mechanical and not much of emotions was seen in them, save for Roran, who lives on his emotions. Moreover, throughout the series, as my friend pointed out, "Arya's perfection is her flaw," she is too perfect to be realistic. Also, Eragon does not think about his feelings for Arya in this book, also others seem stoic.

Description: 5/5 
Paolini's description is perfect for a fantasy story, neither too long like Tolkien's, nor two consise, or jovial like Rowling's. It gives a richness to the story and he makes even the most uneventful and boring places of the story worth reading. You'll never feel  like skipping any part of the story. 

Concept: 4.5/5
The whole concept of the Inheritance Cycle(Eragon-Eldest-Brisingr-4th Book) is excellent and not any less in this one. But it did disappoint me at times where I found many similarities with other fantasy novels...names, setting of lairs of different characters and others. Also I had some difficulty in scaling the map of Alagaesia, since it different durations to travel the same distance at different occasions in the book. It may be due to the gradual increase in Eragon's power, but yet it, at times, confuses me.

Sense: 5/5
Usually, a fantasy story is at its best when you can put yourself into it and imagine what you'd feel like, and you can actually do that here. Most of the concepts regarding magic and other fantastic things that are usually exaggerated in other novels of the fantasy genre, is presented here excellently, showing that everything in this world has its own limitations, and his work makes very good sense, and some of it has been apparently been experienced by people on real-earth(I read similar things in a few spiritual books).

Plot: 3/5
The plot is interesting, but has a few standard things that one tends to encounter in most of the books, making it look like a story format, just like one for an Indian commercial film. For example, the protagonist is the 'chosen one' and that he is an orphan...well, its there in many more books, not just HP. But a good aspect of the plot is that Christopher Paolini has not yet revealed Galbatorix so far in the three books. Only his voice is heard partially in Brisingr. This gives a tempo to the series regarding what Galbatorix would be like. Another good part is that, Unlike Sauron, or Voldemort, Galbatorix is not someone people fear to name, which does not raise the expectations of the reader regarding how tough it would be to kill the king at the end. It was a major flaw in Harry Potter series, and to an extent, disappointing in the LOTR series.


End Word:
On the whole, I enjoyed the book, but always had a feeling that something was amiss, and thus lost the excitement as I reached the end of the book. Also, I don't really feel like reading the book again, as I did, when I had read Eragon and Eldest.
Anyway, all is not to be blamed on Christopher Paolini, because I know how boring it is to complete a series, or even a novel, when thoughts flood your mind. I experienced such a thing when I tried my hand at writing. In fact I'm still stuck at page number 192 of my story. Moreover, Paolini is quite young, and is debuting into the world of novels with this series, thus lowering our expectations a little is a better idea.
But above all, Brisingr, and its prequels, has a number of lessons of life to learn, and a wonderful set of books to read, especially for people coming of age, as it contains things that one should know when he is being kicked out from the comforst of home, into the big-wide outside world, a place where everything is deceptive, a place where the actual story of one's life begins.