Saturday, September 12, 2009

Need Web Help ? Ask Me ! (Mozilla Service Week Volunteer)

The World Wide Web, more commonly referred to as the Web, is more than a resource for most of us. It's an integral part of our daily routine, it's a way of living and often, its a second life too ;) Either through PCs at home, office or cyber cafes, we all access the Web and sometimes contribute to the Web too. It's time we realized that the Web is not a third-party or a bunch of mammoth corporations out there whose services we avail when needed. In the Web 2.0 era, WE form the Web - we express our views, we create content, we share, we discuss and we collaborate on the Web !

In order to ensure maximum productivity in the time we spend with the Web, we need to ensure a few things - pretty much the way we need to keep servicing our vehicles to ensure maximum mileage! On the occasion of Mozilla Service Week (Sept 14 - 21, 2009), I make my humble attempt to volunteer my guidance for PC owners in:
  1. Maintaining a healthy Web access environment on their PC
  2. Solving any Web related queries

Please feel free to access the form below to send in your queries to me. If you have any specific query pertaining to your internet browser, your web-based applications, messengers etc, you may provide details in the appropriate fields. If you are only interested in getting a basic Health Checkup done, simply fill up the mandatory fields and submit the form. Ensure that you provide your current active e-mail address where I can reach you with resolution of your queries or with feedback on your PC maintenance. I shall make all attempts to respond to queries within 24 hours.

Those of you who would like to get in touch with me over phone, or bring your laptops to me in person (I stay in Andheri East, Mumbai, India) for either of the above 2 issues, are also most welcome. Simple drop me an email at after you've submitted the form.

Click here to open the Web Help and Health Checkup Form.

Finally, requesting everyone to support and spread the spirit of Mozilla Service Week !

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Firefox 3.5 - The Web Has Been Upgraded !

Yes.. it's true. We're not talking about a browser upgrade or a new release here. We're talking of an upgraded web experience! Ladies and gentlemen, pros and amateurs, believers and disbelievers.. behold the new age browser in it's Fastest avatar ever - Firefox 3.5 ! Come Tuesday, 30th June 2009 and the world wide web will be a better place with the launch of Firefox 3.5 !

It's good enough that Firefox is undoubtedly the best and one of the fastest browsers around. What makes it even more exciting is that it keeps surpassing itself with every new release. Firefox 3.5, originally versioned 3.1, was later re-christened to Firefox 3.5 to signify the leapfrog improvements featured in the revamped version.

The list of features that Firefox 3.5 brings to the table is endless and needs to be experienced rather than be told. With newly introduced Private browsing mode, Location Aware Browsing, ability to re-open closed windows and tabs with a single click, Lightning fast browsing and a lighter-than-ever memory footprint, Firefox 3.5 is the ONLY smart way to surf the web. Visit the official homepage and watch the video to know more : For the curious and the impatient, the "release candidate" of Firefox 3.5 is available for download at the above webpage.

For those of you who worry about the Firefox memory footprint need to take a look at this link : Against popular myth, Google's Chrome may be as fast as Firefox but at the same time is also 3 times heavier on your RAM! Firefox 3.5 has the smallest memory footprint among all the web browsers tested. So if you love your RAM, Firefox 3.5 gives you a good reason to switch.

Going by past trends, experts predict that the the might of Firefox 3.5 might be sufficient to accelerate the decline of IE as the once-reigning web browser. Read here for more:

Get smart ! Switch over to Firefox today !

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Kate Winslet dazzles in Revolutionary Road !

I've been trying to catch as many of the Oscar nominated movies this year as possible and so far most have been a disappointment - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Milk are just worth one watch each, Slumdog Millionaire is good but you won't find me raving about it. Valkyrie, not Oscar nominated but much hyped nevertheless, was a complete disappointment. But just when one begins to lose faith in the movie churning factory called Hollywood, there's a gem that's rolled out and it manages to reinstate one's faith in the art of film-making. Welcome to Revolutionary Road. The movie, aptly named after the street on which the protagonists, Mr and Mrs. Wheeler (Di Caprio and Kate Winslet) reside, is a class apart.

Tumultuous marital reations have been the subject of many movies but very few are crafted to such excellence and topped with truly incandescent performances by the lead pair. Cutting the long story short - watch this movie to witness the sheer adroitness with which Kate Winslet carries off the character of April Wheeler. She dazzles at the right moments, and does not simply emote, but radiates emotions all over the canvas. As the aspiring wife who wants to break free from the monotonous and illusioned life she's leading with her husband, Kate Winslet takes you through a roller coaster ride of hope, disappointment, unrealistic expectations and shattered dreams. She leaves you spellbound with her performance, arguably one of the best seen on screen this year. I have reasons to believe that the only performance that could challenge this one would be her own in The Reader, which I haven't seen yet. Reviews have been raving about Kate Winslet being one of the finest actresses of her generation, and now I see a good reason why !

Leonardo DiCaprio does a swell job of playing the distressed man who's directionless about his future. He has come a long way since Titanic and complements Winslet's show-stealing act perfectly.

The movie doesn't have a story that'll bind you but makes up for it by performances and direction that'll leave you mesmerized. A must-watch this season !


Friday, March 6, 2009

Premchand - The Forgotten Master of Hindi Literature !

The Jeffrey Archers, Sidney Sheldons and Dan Browns of the world might have successfully driven the lesser known masters of the Indian prose into oblivion, but a peek into some of those literary masterieces is enough to make us realise what we are missing!

I've recently completed reading Munshi Premchand's exemplary creation - Gaban (embezzlement). For those who haven't had the privilege of being acquainted with the works of the Master of Hindi / Urdu prose, this novel is but a peek into his sheer brilliance. The story revolves around Ramanath and his wife Jaalpa. Rama is the archetypical Indian husband who is too proud to admit his weaknesses to his wife. Jaalpa is the innocent but demanding wife whose biggest incentive to marry was to be loaded with exotic jewellery by her husband. The story unfolds into a saga of rising expectations and blundering lies, leading Rama to embezzle government money and then escape for the fear of being caught. Premchand's proficiency as a writer is exhibited as he traces the growth of each of the characters, their ambitions, motivations and priorities in life. Never has another author done such justice in identifying and illustrating the psyche of the rural Indian society and its members.

But do not be tricked into believing that Premchand's stories are "outdated" and "irrelevant". Even after almost 70 years of the passing of the genius, his stories and novels remain timeless and relevant. His understanding of human behaviour and the foundations of Indian society, as depicted in his short stories and novels, are assets which we must make use of and preserve.

It's nothing less than disturbing to see that the richness, depth and the wide latitude of emotions captured by Premchand has been replaced by superfluous and commercially-oriented Hindi literature available on stands today. Step into a Landmark or a Crossword and amongst the vast rows of well arranged and indexed Paul Coelho and Arvind Adiga novels, you'll find an isolated rack of regional literature. It won't be indexed and the books will be piled up unceremoniously on each other. Last when I saw, some great masterpieces by Saratchandra were buried under a pile of "Surakshit Sex Kaise Karein" !!

We preserve national treasures and monuments (or at least we try..) - this isn't different! How we do it, is a question that's for us to answer...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Windows 7 - A leap ahead or a patch up job ?

With Microsoft finally releasing the beta of it's the much awaited and hyped OS, Windows 7, the tech world has been abuzz. Pre-release leaks on torrent sites, speculation about the feature set of Windows 7 and arguments about whether it's really a deserving candidate to be a new version of Windows OS or just a patch up job on Vista - have all helped build up the hype. I decided to grab a copy of the beta and satiate my curiosity :) Here's a complete review of Windows 7 beta, right from download & installation till the final user experience...

Downloading the beta

The download can be started from the official Microsoft website:

The download is managed by the Akamai Download manager which will need you to run an ActiveX control in your browser. I could not get the download to start in Firefox and Chrome browsers and had to (grudgingly) switch over to IE. However, a better alternative that emerged later was the direct download link posted on several blog sites: (For 32 bit systems)

I would personally recommend staying away from torrent sites for an OS download because of obvious reasons! However, I did register on the official website of Windows 7 to get a product key for my copy.

Once downloaded, the ISO needs to be burnt onto a DVD. I installed my copy of Windows 7 on a separate partition on my disk allowing it to dual boot with Windows Vista Business. Following is the system configuration:

Toshiba Satellite Pro M200
Intel Core Duo 2GHz, 2GB RAM
Intel Chipset - 256 MB shared video memory
HDD - 80 GB (55 GB + 18 GB for Windows 7) - The partitoning was done using Acronis Disk Creator Suite on Windows Vista.


The installation is surprisingly smooth and simple. I booted my laptop from the DVD, selected a few options regarding region, language etc. on the first screen of setup and the it kicked off. It didn't take more than 30-40 minutes for the setup to complete. It did a few reboots on its own and bothered me only twice in between- once to enter the product key and once again to create a logon for myself. Full marks to Microsoft for the ease of installation!

First Impressions

The booting time is similar or lesser than Vista. I would not like to comment a lot on this since I didn't dare to load up Windows 7 with a number of startup items as in case of Vista.

Gone are the days when Windows used to beg for a driver CD for virtually every device in your system. Windows 7 had all my device drivers ready and running as soon as it booted.

The refurbished taskbar is obviously the first thing on the desktop that grabs your eyeballs. It looks a little bulky and makes you wonder what exactly those huge square buttons are doing there. But a little bit of experimentation, and you know that it's pretty much feature packed and makes navigation much easier. For those of us who like to multitask, it's a welcome feature.

There's a pop-up in the system tray (newly introduced Action Center) reminding you to install an anti-virus software and giving you a link for download options.

New Additions

While I have only superficially explored the feature set so far, here are a few noticeable changes:

  1. The revamped taskbar - Groups similar windows in a single button, shows preview of all the grouped windows when you rollover a button and shows a specific window in isolation against the desktop when you rollover it's preview. Navigation just got better! However, I don't like the way the "Show Desktop" button has been pushed to the system tray end of taskbar. I'd rather have it near the start button because of the frequent use. Someone at Microsoft listening ? ;)

  2. Desktop themes - While the extent of customization remains similar to that in Vista - changing window colours and wallpapers - the desktop wallpaper shuffling is a refreshing feature. You can auto-set the shuffle frequency to 10 secs, 30 secs - 1 day. More themes are available online and they are fairly elegant.

  3. The Action Center - This gives you notifications about "actions" to be taken, like installing an anti-virus. I haven't explored this completely but it looks like an integrated Security Center + Performance Management + System Restore + Troubleshooting console

  4. Paint - Not many changes here except that it borrows the ribbon format for menu from Office 2007 and does a god job of it.

  5. Gadget Gallery - The gadget gallery has all the gadgets in Vista. But Windows 7 gets rid of the "Sidebar" and will let you place gadgets anywhere on your screen.

  6. Windows explorer - This has pretty much been left unchanged except for the tree-style navigation added on the left of every explorer window, as opposed to Vista which allowed only the favorite links to be placed in the left column.
Specific Applications

  1. IE 8 Beta 2 - Call me biased or cynical but IE just doesn't seem to work for me. After the install, IE 8 just refused to connect to my institute's proxy server forcing me to install Firefox from my external disk. And guess what.. Firefox worked like a charm. So did Google Talk with the same proxy. Eventually when IE did manage to connetc to the proxy, it was not only sluggish while switching tabs but also noticeably slow in rendering web pages.

  2. Norton Internet Security 2009 - Stay away from this if you're using Windows 7 beta. Althogh I could get it to install properly, after 2 rounds of updates from the internet and a reboot, I was stuck with a CHKDSK error screen on every reboot and a message on my desktop telling me that the disk is corrupt. Had to do a complete disk format and re-install of Windows 7 to get things back to normal.

  3. Kaspersky 8 Technical Preview - Microsoft site rcommends 3 AVs for the Windows 7 beta - Norton 360 Beta 3, Kaspersky Preview 8 and AVG Internet Security. Norton 360 didn't dwnload due to "export restrictions to India". So I decided to go alongwith Kaspersky. Worked smooth.. fixed some viruses on my disk that Norton 2009 couldn't detect and doesn't seem to be going heavy on my system either.

  4. Windows Media Player works well with MP3 and common video formats like AVI. Pretty much the same experience as Vista.

  5. Other programs that work fine so far are : Open Office, Google Talk, Firefox, 7z compression utility, IrfanView and iGetter download manager.

In terms of performance, Windows 7 doesn't disappoint. Unlike the shift from XP to Vista, this shift isn't gonna cost you RAM money :) With all the above programs installed and running, my system uses around 800-900 MB of RAM and multi-taking is smooth. Haven't tried gaming yet, though!

Shutting down is an issue at times and I'm stuck at the "Logging off" screen. Forced exit of some programs also throws up memory errors. Explorer might behave jittery at times when opening large folders with several video / image previews.


Not a leap ahead for sure! Microsoft needs to take lessons from the Windows ME to XP transition and surprise its users. However, this is still the beta and only a few days old. I'm sure that with regular usage, the "hidden" improvements are going to show up and make this a worthier contender. Keep an eye out on all those techie blogs to keep a track of the new discoveries in Windows 7 ;)

Till Next Time....
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