Sunday, November 9, 2008

Handy Shortcuts

If you love short cuts when using your PC or notebook them you might find these handy.

IE tips
Goto address bar: Alt+D
Show or Hide the search bar: Ctrl+E
Show or hide History bar: Ctrl+H
Add current page to Favorites: Ctrl+D
Toggle Full screen on or off: F11

Windows Programs
Open a new document: Ctrl+O
Move the cursor to the beginning of a document: Ctrl+Home
Move the cursor to the end of document: Ctrl+End

These shortcuts are the courtesy of “PCWorld”.

Note: I have not included the obvious shortcuts which most of us are aware of. If you would like to know about the whole range of shortcuts, email me or leave a note and I’ll post the remaining shortcuts.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Fundamental Q...

Many of us have wondered often - What is it that gives matter mass?

Matter is supposedly made of 16 elementary particles categorized as Quarks, Leptons & Force Carriers - that are together called the “standard model”. Quarks consist of protons and neutrons and make up the nuclei. Lepton consists of particles such as electrons while Force Carriers are the forces holding the atom together.

The Big Bang states that an infinitely small dense matter expanded rapidly. Gravity separated from the other forces and many new particles were formed including quarks which started to gather mass by passing through the “Higgs field”. As particles gathered mass, matter was created and eventually stars and planets started to form millions of year later.

In short scientists attribute the reason for matter having mass to the “Higgs particle”. Just one problem; unlike the particles of the std model – Higgs particles has never been discovered and this is precisely what the worlds most expensive experiment hopes to discover.

Scientists from CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research), Russia, Canada, India, Japan and the United States have built a Large Hadron Collider(LHC) - a particle collider. The LHC is 27kms (17miles) in diameter and is constructed bellow the French – Swiss border. The LHC collides protons rotating in opposite direction at 99.999999% the speed of light, using superconducting magnets

video

The scientists hope that the proton collision will be similar to a miniaturized Big Bang which produced the elementary particles. They hope the elementary particles including the “Higgs Particle” will be formed from the collision and they can learn more about it from the traces collected by the “Particle detectors”. The Scientists also hope to learn more about Anti-matter, Micro-black holes, additional dimensions, etc.

The LHC was inaugurated on 10th Sept 2008 but was shut down due to a soldering problem which is being worked upon.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hello ANDROID!

Finally Google released the demo of Android. Android is an open-source Linux based software platform for mobile devices. The code is in a Java like language that utilizes Java libraries developed by Google. Android will support a variety of connectivity technologies including GSM, CDMA & EV-DO. A number of companies have shown interest in developing Android based smartphones. If I was a programmer working on Android this would freak me out. Just imagine trying to develop a code which has to work across all platforms and simultaneously cater to the needs of a plethora of smart phones from different companies. Now compare this with a team working on Apple’s iPhone. Their task is so much easier because they have to build an OS catering to the needs of a single hardware.

video

The four layers of the Android are - the Linux Kernel (basically drivers), Libraries, the Application framework (OS management) and finally the Applications themselves. It’s been developed by Google in conjunction with industry leaders like Intel, HTC, Qualcomm, T-Mobile & Wind River Systems. It being open-source means you can create applications for the platform using the Android SDK and win upto $10,000 dollars. Interestingly, the name Android comes from the start up company Android Inc which Google bought. Google has been working closely with T-Mobile and is scheduled to release Anroid based HTC phones in the 4Q of 2008.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

DEEP ZOOM and PHOTOSYNTH Technology

Photosynth is a really cool product to come out of the staples of Microsoft Live labs which produces interactive 3-D Images from 2-D images. It also makes use if another really neat technology known as the Deep Zoom technology.

Deep Zoom technology allows users to look at Giga bytes of image data in a seamless fashion. This technology takes a set of tiled images created using a Deep Zoom Composer and will send the user only that portion/tile which he/she wishes to view at any given instant. This is akin to how map quest or google map works.

My limited and simplistic understanding of how Photosynth works is that initially a 3-D physical model of that place is initially simulated. Then key points of the 3-D structure are identified and are pictorially recreated using several overlapping 2-D photos of that key point. Here is a link to better understand how Photosynth technology works. http://labs.live.com/photosynth/videodemo.html.

Having taken Computer courses on Digital Image Processing I can easily think of challenges that can come with combining pictures with varying camera angles, varying picture resolutions, varying light intensity and so on and so forth. But the end product looks great and I guess the practicality of the application is endless. I guess the Orkut or Myspace profiles of the future are going to have Photosynth enabled models rather than mundane 2D pics. I’ll leave it to you to think of more useful places where this marvelous piece of technology can be used

Saturday, July 12, 2008

BMW GINA Concept Car

Talk about thinking outside the box. BMW has released it's new GINA (Geometric and Functions in 'N' Adaptations - seriously why cldn't they come up with a better name) concept car at their museum in Munich. Unlike conventional cars, in GINA the outer material of the car is composed of a fabric thats pulled over the skeletal framework of the car. Electro-hydraulic devices controls the skeleton of the car and can be used to actually change the structure of the car. The elastic nature of the outer fabric has no qualms accommodating this change. This specialty can be used to adjust seat shapes, expose or close headlights and open hood at the center.

Apparently this car was developed 6 years ago and was kept in wraps until recently (wonder why!). Though I think it's pretty innovative, I still think GINA (plz change the name) will continue to remain what it is - a concept car.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Nokia's Morph Concept

If it wasn't for the video, I probably wouldn't have been able to convey how cool Nokia's Morph Concept is. Nokia's R&D and Cambridge are trying to incorporate nano-technology in electronic devices which will help revolutionalize the way electronic devices operate in the new future. It weaves a 3-D mesh with Fibril proteins, a thin elastic structure is created which creates a highly flexible, stretchable, transparent and strong structure. What's most remarkable is that the material can adapt itself to perform it's task at hand.
video

It's got built in solar absorption capabilities to re-charge itself. It's surface cliams to be self-cleaning and hence repels water or dirt. To top it all it's made of bio-degradeable materials. So essentially it's got everything to give a environmentalist a mini-orgasm. Cambirdge researchers claim to have all the basic technologies in place but admit they are still no where near creating the first prototype. The rough estimate as to when this might become a reality is around 2018-2020. Tell then enjoy the video...

What's Up!

Like the rest of you(except MAC fans who rejoiced at its failure) I was disappointed with Vista as well. However, I am really excited about Vista's successor Windows 7 (formerly called Vienna) which is due to launch in late 2009(yup...already). So why am I excited? Coz it's the first full-fledged PC OS to be released which has multi-touch feature.

Multi-touch is a feature which essentially allows direct human-computer interaction while keeping traditional input devices like mouse and keyboard out of the loop. Over the span of the last few years different techniques have been used to achieve multi-touch functionality - finger pressure, high speed camera captures, capacitive technique or infrared in conjunction with advanced image processing. For instance the Capacitive technique uses the capacitive nature of our body and the capacitive material on the surface to cause distortions in the reference field to pass positional information.

Here is a sneek peek at Windows 7

Video: Multi-Touch in Windows 7

Pretty cool right...maybe it's the harbinger of times to come when even even the office whiteboard will have multi-touch feature in them.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Picture Perfect

We don't have 20yrs or a Billion dollars to immortalize our loved ones by creating a Taj Mahal, so ordinary mortals like myself take refuge in photos to capture moments of joy. However, many times - photos end up slanted, contain red eyes or are poorly lit. Thus far, we have overlooked these flaws. However, we now have an option to salvage these pictures and make them "Picture Perfect" using software editing tools like Picaso(Bless u Google) which is extremely self-intuitive.
Source: http://picasa.google.com/download/

Here are some of the cool fixes you can do with Picaso
Remove Slants: Basic Fixes -> Straighten
Remove Redeye: Basic Fixes -> Redeye
Brighten dark Photos: Basic Fixes -> Fill Light
Darken Photos: Tuning -> Shadows
Simulate time of the day: Tuning -> Color Temperature
Make it B&W: Effects -> B&W
Tint it: Effects -> Tint
Crop Photos: Basic Fixes -> Crop (good bye Windows Paint)

Picaso also offers a wealth of other options. Now you can modify and frame your favorite picture sitting in the comfort of your home taking all the time in the world & free of cost instead of being in the mercy of photo shops.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Useful Software Utilities - Part 1

This is the first of a many part series where I am gonna include applications which I feel are quite handy. I am NOT the equivalent of Indiana Jones in the virtual world. So it's not like I am going to discover some amazing applications you have never heard of. However, it's highly likely that there would atleast be a couple of applications in this blog that you might not have come across before which you will find quite handy. So here goes...

1. COMODO Firewall
http://www.personalfirewall.comodo.com/
Most firewalls cost you and if they are free they happen to be sub-standard. If you are looking for a quality, hassle-less, free firewall then COMODO is the one stop solution. It's got all the features you expect of a standard firewall. In addition to normal firewall features like preventing malware( term to describe malicious software like virus, trojan, rootkits, spyware) installations it also does automatic lab analysis of files it finds suspicious without affecting your applications and compromising your computer. It is also able to authenticate websites in real time. So why is a software which could easily cost you appx $75/year available free of cost? It's kinda complicated to answer and it's better described in the link provided above. But the one line answer is that Comodo gets revenue from websites or service providers who pay Comodo for getting themselves authenticated and hence become available to Comodo users.

2. Registry Cleaner
http://www.pctools.com/registry-mechanic/
Fragmentation and Registry related issues are amongst the two most common problems which causes PCs to crash. I am no exception, I have run into all sorts of problems with my registry countless times and every time it's a hassle debugging it coz I know very little about registries and it's akin to shooting in the dark. Plus, messing with registry tends to have really bad repercussions. Which is why this handy piece of software is listed high amongst the must have applications. What the application does is scans the registry for problems and repairs them in two simple self intuitive steps. The application come with a couple of other features but for most part repairing the registry is what it's best at. If you think your registry is in excellent state then you are in for a surprise...

3. Switch Sound File Converter
http://www.nch.com.au/switch/plus.html
If you are a music junkie like me it's possible you might have downloaded music files which are not really in the format you would like it to be. So here is a useful software which seamlessly converts audio files from one format to another. I am sure there are a plethora of similar applications out there, but I just happened to find this the fastest and most complete sound converter software. In addition to audio conversion it performs other features like Riping CDs and even Video Conversions as well. It's not free but I have repeatedly used the trial version for free.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Heads up of the 2 COOLEST Phones in the Market: INSTINCT vs iPHONE

Just when I thought nothing could top $199.0 for a 8GB iPHONE, Sprint has launched the INSTINCT for a very affordable $129.0 (it uses MicroSDs for memory).

Let me first start of with some of the coolest features that I liked in the new INSTINCT.
- It's GPS works like a charm. It's fast, accurate and got cool features like ability to show lowest gas prices, instant traffic updates and voice search feature. Both the phones offer voice based directions.
http://nowisgood.com/
- It's got the haptic feature...a very useful feature for someone with butterfingers like me.
- It's streams live video at a pretty decent rate.

Now for the iPHONE
- Apple seems to be one step ahead of the competition with the SDK(Software Development Kit). SDK provides the tools and technologies which will allow independent software developers to create and sell programs on the iPHONE. This is gonna take customization to a totally new level. For instance check out this video.

-The iPHONE has an unmatchable brand image that gives it a who new level of coolness factor.
- The GUI looks better in iPHONE though it's more practical in INSTINCT.

So in terms of features the two phones are pretty evenly matched. However, the real advantage that I feel INSTINCT customers would have over the iPHONE users is that Sprint offers the unlimited data plan for $99.99. No such offer is being made by AT&T(it only offers unlimited voice). Seriously, why would you bother to have a smart phone if there are restrictions on data usage. At the end, I feel if price is a factor or someone uses their smart phone efficiently INSTINCT is a better choice. If you wish to own a phone purely for the zaz factor then go for the iPHONE.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What's Round the Corner

These are some of the things you all can expect in the near future

1. 10 neat applications u can install in your PC.

2. 2 minute guide to becoming a tech whizz.

3. Tech trends

4. Cool Tricks

5. Personal Reflections

Purpose

Hey Everyone,

Technology can be a bane or boon depending on how much command you have over it. The pace at which the IT landscape keeps changing is so fast that it tends to sometimes overwhelm even seasoned veterans. I am not a tech guru and will not pretend to be one, but technology appeals to me and through this blog I hope to make technology and IT in particular seem simple and fun. There are tons of really neat sites out there containing useful information. I just hope to present capsule sized information contained in those sites since ‘time’ and ‘patience’ are two commodities most of us never seem to have enough of.

Your response will be the adrenalin that's gonna keep me going. Good, bad .. it doesn’t matter. Just keep it honest. Appreciate your comments in advance.

Note: The views expressed int his blog are personal and does not necessarily represent the views of the company I work for.