Quick Solution to stop SPAM on your Facebook Wall

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There has been a sudden outrage of SPAM on Facebook, with spam bots posting videos and links on your wall. Here’s a quick tip to keep the garbage away:

Go to: Account >Privacy Settings > Click Custom > Customize Settings > Under the column “Things Others Share” Uncheck the checkbox under “Friends can post on my Wall”

Anything important, people can still send you a private message instead of posting on your wall.

I hope this helps.

Tech Shopping: Feature Gadget OR Performance Gadget?

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Gadgets

Gadgets: Features or Performance?

“8MP Camera with LED flash, 1Ghz Dual Core Processor, 512 MB RAM, AMOLED display, Android 2.3 (Grrh.. should have been able to  boot two OSs), Capacitive Multi Touch Screen, QWERTY Keyboard. I want a “Power Packed” phone.” Excuse me if I missed to mention some other necessary specifications. Somebody was asking me for a phone that has all these features. Phone or computers, whenever we are up for gadget shopping we want to ‘buy’ as many features as we can. Let’s see what makes a good gadget, the features or the performance?

Simplicity in Design:

A friend once asked me, ” Do you get bored of the Google’s Home Page design?”. No you don’t or perhaps you don’t even care about it! You don’t get bored of simplicity, you only get bored of stylish designs. Let not the fancy styles and extra make up of your new gadget deceive you. Choose a design that is simple and would look fresh even after a year!

Simplicity in Use:

Why do people love the iPod and the iPhone? You’d say because of the “Apple Hype”. But what/who creates the “Apple Hype”? Steve Jobs? Why is he able to do that? It’s because Apple products are easy to use. You can use them straight out of the box, without reading the product manual. Go back to an Apple Keynote, and you’ll see they always talk about what your new Apple toy can do, and little details on it’s features. Features tell, Benefits Sell!

Technology should simplify things, not complicate them.

The Speedometer:
Fasten your seat belts. Speed!  More Speed! More Speed! Arghh.. Crash!  High processing speeds would definitely not crash your system but why go for a Core i7 when you can work even on a Core i3 processor.  Agreed, new applications need good horse power to run  but adding more cores to the processor doesn’t really affect the performance of your application after a certain limit.

Our Obsession with the Mega Pixels:
Phones, laptops, tablets, PCs – camera’s have crept everywhere and we need the camera’s with the most mega pixels in it. Why not buy a good digital camera then? A good camera comes with a good lens, one that has enough size to capture good number of photons and give you a high resolution picture.   So a 5MP camera with a good lens may be as good as a 8MP one with an ordinary lens.

Critics and their stars:
The stars of the gadgets are in danger after Mr. Critic has given his ruling.

1- I tried it for two minutes on the go and it’s pathetic.

2- I haven’t used the gadget.  I am reviewing after reading some other reviews on the internet!

3- I like it. (Because everyone in the international market does).

4- Amazing. My “personal” favourite.

5 – The Company is our main sponsor. How can you neglect this product?

I am not against critics. But I don’t like the way they rate the products. They never analyze the performance of the gadgets. The rating comes out the next day of the product launch. How can you review something that you have just used for a few minutes perhaps.!

It could be a better idea to look at video reviews, reviews from users or the ones which come feature in reputed media.

What I didn’t mean?
I definitely didn’t mean  that go for an old model of your gadget that did wonderfully well years back. I didn’t mean bag all the good old technology and get it for a cheaper rates!

What I really meant?
The moral of the story is that trade features for performance. Sacrifice on a feature if it’s no use to you! Choose something that performs betters.  Say if it’s a portable device – it has a better battery. It is lighter and easy to carry. If it’s a phone and you already have a good digital camera, neglect the camera specs.

Your investment on features must yield some good performance!

Gulp The Tablet!

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Galaxy Tab

No Particular liking for the iPad. See, I preferred the Galaxy Tab Picture over the iPad here. 🙂

 

This article comes as an aftermath of a tablet overdose!

Year 2010 has been the year of tablet computing. Tech Companies have been desperate about manufacturing and selling tablets to you. Though every year some or the gadgets turns up on my wish list – I haven’t been very keen on the tablets. Who needs a tablet after all? Okay, I must admit – it’s absolutely fine if someone gifts me one!

We all know the theory of a tablet bridging the gap between a Smartphone and the Laptops. What Ever.  My question – Who needs a tablet after all? With all the companies going gaga over tablet, this is something that’s kept me thinking. Lets see who would/wouldn’t need a tablet and why:

Students:

Make Class notes on this gadget? Forget about it. A good tablet would always come with a capacitive touch screen ( a lame explanation: iPhone like and Touch Screen + Stylus phones unlike) and you’ll always end up writing too big characters or making a ‘b’ read ‘o’. So may be as an e-book reader? Digital bookmarks, instant Googling, highlighting with different colors, different fonts – seems cool. The problem is that aren’t many “text books” on the digital book stores. If there are,  they are too expensive for you to switch to digital reading.

What it can do though is replace your over filled file of assignment sheets, lab manuals or project instructions. If you like reading from PowerPoint Slides or from the internet, you’d really find this helpful. You’d love sharing a video with a friend or showing him pictures of your recent outing without having to open up that bulky laptop or compromising on the quality with the tiny low-res mobile phone screens [ some good screen phones excluded ].

Sales and Marketing Executives:

This is one area where the tablets have been already put to great use. There have been restaurants that switched to ‘iPad Menus’. The sales executives at some luxury car show rooms are now being provided with tablets (iPads and Mercedes to be precise) to calculate EMIs and provide technical information about cars. BMW integrated the iPad in its car.

Its easier to maintain spreadsheets on a small handy device as it gives you instant access to frequently required data. Colorful Product Catalogs that may be have to shown to a client – tablet is such an impressive way to do it.  Though the negative that comes with all this is the high cost of tablets. So you can’t expect a tablet welcome at all restaurants, car show rooms or a small electronics store in the nearby market. Links for more information.

http://engt.co/bhP6dY – BMW iPad integration
http://bit.ly/bAJBGx – Restaurant with iPad menus

Business:

For a businessmen whose core computing work is done being by his office, tablet is not a bad idea! E-mailing, Net Banking, going through spreadsheets, a couple of video conferences in a day – don’t require huge computing power – a tablet fits right in place. Though the constraints of a touch keyboard, compatibility of banking sites on mobile browsers is an issue.

Law:

If you’ve seen a case file of a lawyer, you’d realize how better it is holding a tablet than a 1000 pages with popping bookmarks! But you can also imagine the plight of typing those 1000 pages on a touch screen keyboard. Again this points to the same thing – tablets are not stand alone devices. They need your laptop or PCs to support them.

Archaeology:

Grrh… Excuse Me. Another reference to  the iPad. I’d like to directly quote from Apple’s website:

In Pompeii — the longest continuously excavated archaeological site in the world — iPad is revolutionizing how scientists work in the field. Rather than recording notes and sketches on paper, researchers at the site use iPad and apps to capture invaluable historical data faster, more easily, and with far better accuracy.

Games, Fun Apps and utilities

Casual gaming and fun to use apps work great on large touch screens. People have been doing some amazing stuff with apps – and the video would give you an idea on how powerful mobile apps could be.

You may check out http://www.apple.com/ipad/apps-for-ipad/ for videos on apps. Let me know the links for the other device as well. 😛

What do you think about the ‘Tablet Outrage” ? Would  you like spending  Rs. 25,000 + for another entertainment device? Another Power Point Presentation Device? Another Business Device? Another Gaming Device may be?

Do you think if there is space for another gadget in our daily lifestyle? I would love to hear from you.

Happy New Year 2011!

Video:

1080p, 720p, 1080i, 480p: Understanding the Numbers

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You must have seen these numbers referring to quality of laptop screens, TVs or monitors.  You might argue associating these numbers with video quality as well. Oh, wait did you also see these numbers written on a digital camera? The numbers are indeed confusing.  So an easy to read yet technical description on these numbers  –  just read ahead!

The letters suffixing the these numbers. The i in ‘1080i’ stands for ‘Interlaced’.   Have a look at the pictures below:

 

P1

 

The 2 parts of the same picture:

 

P2

P2

 

 

P3

 

A word of caution before we proceed – I’ll be talking in terms of  ‘Video Quality’  first. There is the original picture – P1.  Pictures P2 and P3 are say the blocks of a puzzle which combines to form p1.    If the  pictures P2 and P3 are flipped at a very high frequency, the human eye cannot distinguish if these where two different pictures at all  and what you see is a single picture as in picture 1.  But a video is not a single image. Right, a video is a collection of pictures flipping at a very high rate.When you pause a video you get some still image on your screen. The image that was being projected was a combination of two pictures as I showed above. So at any point in the video, only half the picture is being projected, which is obviously being flipped so fast that you can’t make out. To get a bleak idea on how it may feel – save these pictures in a new folder and then change them using the arrow keys in Windows Picture Viewer.

You can also compare interlaced projection to painting a picture – with odd lines painted first followed by the even lines.

Now for the letter ‘p’. ‘p’ stands for ‘Progressive’.  As the names suggests pictures are progressively flipped in such type of a video. Unlike an interlaced projection where virtually only half of the image is screened at any point of time in progressive projection complete pictures are screened.

So you may  think, obviously the progressive is a better quality any day.  A full picture being flipped is obviously better than a half. I recommend you to read ahead before you make a decision.

Now for the numbers. We can’t leave the numbers behind in our discussion of progressive and interlaced projections. 1080 corresponds to the resolution of 1,920×1,080 pixels or 1080 lines of vertical resolution. 720p stands for  1280 x 720 pixels or 720 pixels of vertical resolution. So 1080i would mean a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels being projected in a interlaced manner and 1080p would mean the same resolution being progressively projected. Now we can safely say that 1080p is a better quality projection than 1080i. But there is ambiguity over the 720p projection. Some say that the 1080i quality is better than the 720p while others believe that progressive projection improves video quality and hence 720p is better than 1080i. However 1080i is definitely better than 420p. Even though 420p is progressively projected – the resolution is very low with just 640×480 pixels.

Talking in terms of the displays – the TV’s, the computer monitors and in terms of the pictures that are clicked by modern day digital cameras. As I mentioned 1080 is equivalent to 1920x 1080 pixels, but your screen should support that resolution to display such high quality. So if your screen supports that kind of resolution you’ll find it labelled HD Display or HDTV for a TV. (There are other factors determining if a display is HD or not – but we leave that discussion of frequencies and bandwidths for this post). Even if your display is not HD capable it does plays the HD videos or display HD Pictures. That’s where referring the quality in terms of lines of resolution comes into play. Your picture or video may have a resolution of 1080/720/480 vertical lines with no consideration of the display it will be projected on. The quality of the output is retained irrespective of the display.  You’ll feel the difference between the quality of the videos of different on most screens (barring the CRT displays – again a long explanation on why).

You might like calling these numbers with some special names:

High Definition or HD for 1080p.
Standard Definition for 720p. Also called HD in 720p.
Enhanced Definition for 480p.

My take on content quality is  1080p>720p ≈1080i>480p.  I hope you find this information helpful for your next ‘Gadget Shopping’!

Emerging Trends and Technologies: The App Stores

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There is an app for this. There is an app for that. Apple  says there is an app for almost everything on the iPhone (or more correctly I should say the iOS devices). I’d like to modify that a little – There is app for almost everybody. Apple have no doubt been the pioneers of the ‘App Store’ and lead the market with over a million apps and a greater downloads.

Apps

Now let me not crib about other companies ‘copying, following or taking inspirations ‘ from the Apple idea ( Apple might now be used to it! ) but lets take a moment and realize that how the mobile phone applications are changing the way we use our phones, much the way applications did in the mid nineties (the era of Windows 95 and Windows 98) to the PC. Remember taking a ‘floppy full’ of those bow and arrow games or the Aladdin and Mario Games from your friends. Let’s see how this development affects the developers, the mobile operators, the handset manufacturers and most importantly us – the consumers.

Talking about the mobile operators. Airtel has an App Store, Vodafone has an App store and you definitely might have seen the Aircel ads recently. Excuse me for using the word ‘App Store’ – it is much like calling the (musical instrument) keyboard a CASIO. A store where applications are sold – the App Store for Apple , the Android Market for Google or the OVI (Ovee – the correct pronunciation) from Nokia . Even if you don’t have a handset which by defaults links you to the company app store or perhaps doesn’t have one – your operator is reaching out to you.  Common, how does the presence of these operator app stores affect at all? Well there are more people talking about the features in terms of downloads instead of the ones listed at the back of  the cell phone box.  “Yeh feature to download karna padega”.

Next the manufacturers. I don’t have any access to the inside scoop of the policies being implemented by the manufactures but what you can definitely see is that there are more of the ‘applications store’  phones in the market than the ones which just focused on playing your music and taking pictures.  The manufacturers have their own application markets. Nokia has one – the OVI store as I mentioned above, the Windows Market Place – from Microsoft for there Windows powered phones and others. The app store not only gets them more profits but reduce the burden of powering your handsets with different software. So if the Motorolla shipped a dedicated facebook app with their phone – Nokia doesn’t have to launch a new ‘Facebook’ phone.

The Developers. Here is an interesting calculation to show to you. An app popularly sells for $ 0.99. 1 Billion Apps were downloaded in just 9 monts on the Apple App Store. If you have  great idea, and your app gets on the Top 25 List or tops it’s category or even makes it to the ‘App of the week’ section – chances are that you’ll sell say roughly a 4000 copies of your app worldwide. 4000 because the no of apps on the App Store are 2,50,000. So number of Downloads/No of Apps.

Now check this:

$0.99 x 4000 = $3960 or Rs. 1,82,160

A good developer would have is app on multiple platforms – Nokia, Android and Blackberry.

$3960 x 3 = $11880 =  Rs. 5,46,880

Add to this the operator app stores. The value goes up further!  ” One  App gets over $11,000″. Though developers get only 70% of it on most app stores!

Yeah, these calculations are completely baseless. But you see if even some pie of that is correct, the amount is huge :P.

It’s not only about the money. There were apps earlier and there were no stores but some malicious websites that sold you these applications. What happened was most users were reluctant to visit these websites, download them first on the computer and  transfer them to the phone. Application development for mobile phone had little space in the market. Who’d know if you made a Criss Cross app for the Nokia N72? With these application markets, developers just need to focus on developing the app. The application markets take care of the popularity.

Let’s see how it was buying a phone couple of years back.

– New phone launched in the market.

– Huge hype and excitement.

– Every 3rd person gets the same phone.

– The phone has some very basic features. You explore them  within a week.

– Games. 4? 5? Pre-installed games. Take a couple of more from friends.

– 6 Months Later. Phone prices dropped by 25 %.

– No new games/applications.

– New handset, with new games and new applications.

– Get bored with your handsets, perhaps even before the warranty expires.

Now, with app stores on your phone, you can add more power to your existing handset with  just a click. No going to the websites and transferring data through PC Suites. So you buy a phone today and keep adding new features to it every month!

What do you feel about the ‘App Revolution’. Let me know! Would love to hear from you…

Difference between Intel Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 processors

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3<5<7. Toh Core i3<Core i5, Core i7 bhi hua na?” – Curious me. Was quizzing a computer vendor on my last visit to buy a pen drive!

So, second in series of processor analysis, I bring to you the technical yet readable differences between the Intel Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 processors. Absolutely right, Core i7 is more powerful than Core i5 and Core i5  is more powerful than Core i3. But what exactly makes them different? To explain that, I first need to describe two technologies:

1. The Intel Turbo Boost Technology: Intel Turbo Boost Technology helps deliver more performance when and where you need it. If the processor detects that it is below its power, temperature, and current limits, its clock frequency increases to boost performance for active processor cores.  (Processor Cores. What are they? Read my previous post). Optimization of available resources. So if you are running a multi threaded application, that requires more power the technology intelligently increases the clock frequency. And  if you are running a legacy application that is not multi-threaded the clock speed is increased further. Now for an analogy to this. Relate this to the problem of allocation of resources. Suppose you work for a construction company, and the company is working on construction of multiple buildings. With the available resources you have two options: Either divide the entire work force for different constructions or deploy some and keep a buffer. What Intel Turbo Boost Technology does is analogous to keeping a buffer. So you see that the Swimming Pool construction needs more labour, you direct the buffer to that. Or may be all except one building are complete, you direct the entire work force there. So what happens is that all work is completed in time and you make the best use of your available resources.

2.The Intel Hyper Threading Technology: This is the ‘HT’, you’ve seen over the Pentium 4 logo some years back. What this does is that, it allows multiple threads to be processed by a single core. But what’s a thread? I quote from the famous Wikipedia:

In computer science, a thread of execution is the smallest unit of processing that can be scheduled by an operating system. (For more, check the link at the end of post).

More simply relate multi threaded applications to be multiple applications. I safely make that statement as many of the Intel Technologies videos use the same terminology. Since this is a technology we have also seen with the Intel Pentium 4 processors, this must be coming as a standard with all processors? No, not all processors use the Hyper Threading Technology, and it may be even that the processors without Hyper Threading Technology are faster than the ones with it. To understand that better, let’s analayse the working of different kind of processors.

Single Core Processors: Processors that processed  just single threads.

Single Core Processors with Hyper Threading Technology: Process Multiple Threads at single Time. The Pentium 4 stuff.

Dual Core Processors: Two threads are processed in two separate cores on a single processor. The important point here is that this isn’t Hyper Threading, since one core is processing only a single thread.

Quad Core Processors: The same technology as the Dual Core Processors, except that the Dual Cores as the name suggests have 2 cores and the Quad Core have 4 Cores. More Cores, more power!

Multiple Cores with Hyper Threading Technology: This is something really fast than any of the previous processors, I  have discussed through out the post. In such processors, every core on a multiple core processors processes 2 threads. So a Quad Core Processor with Hyper Threading Technology, can process 8 Threads at a time!

Now that you know about the different kind of processor technologies, the comparision between the Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 becomes more easy to understand. (For specific clock speeds. Don’t forget to read the important note below). **

A Core i3 processor has 2 Cores, and it manages 4 Threads. Yes, it supports Hyper Threading but no Turbo Boost.

A Core i5 processor has 4 Cores and it manages 4 Threads. It doesn’t support Hyper Threading but it does support the Intel Turbo Boost Technology.

A Core i7 processor has 4 Cores and it manages 8 Threads. Yes, it supports Hyper Threading and Intel Turbo Boost Technology.

What’s also different is that the Core i7 and Core i5 processors have different cache sizes.  If you have little knowledge about cache, just take it for now that more the cache, more the speed.

**The comparison is for desktop processors with certain clock speeds. Cores on Core i7 can go up to 6, and hence number of threads up to a whooping 12. Mobile Processors, have different configuration of cores and clock speeds. But now being familiar with these technologies, you are ready to read between the lines of the technical specifications sheets.

As usual, before you leave, I request your feedback! 🙂

Difference between Core 2 Duo and Dual Core Processors

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After hours of research on the Internet, surfing through various websites and finding nothing. Interpreting data from Intel’s official website, here I have the most comprehensive discussion online on the difference between two most confused processors.

The Intel Core 2 Duo and Intel Dual Core processors. Here’s a collection of the all time popular answers I have heard:

Core 2 Duo, naya hai ji. Advance to hona hi hai“. – The vendor when I was buying a PC.

“Dual Core? Just a different name for Core 2 Processor Series.”- Some tech forums.

“Dual Core. Core 2 Duo. Aren’t they supposed to be the same?” – The most common answer.

But back to business. Jumping on directly to the correct answer of our question.

Dual Core processors are 2 processors working in series at the same time, whereas Core 2 Duo are 2 processors working in parallel and sharing their load.

Might remind some of us the combinations of electrical resistance as an analogous, but since that’s not exactly the situation, I have better explanations for this. Some non-technical analogy. Consider that you and me have been given a task to complete. Take that task to be reading and signing a document. Assume that each page has to be attested by either of us only. Now there are two ways to do that. The first, I sign my pages, pass on the document to you and you follow suite. The other way, I give you your set of pages, take out mine, and we simultaneously sign our different set of the pages. Obviously the second approach is much faster than the first one. Our second approach is what Core2Duo does, and our first what Dual Core does. Note that work is shared in both cases. Our load is shared, I don’t do your task and neither you do mine. This explains the difference between the two processors. If you’ve read till here I caution do not skip the next paragraphs. Some disclaimers follow.

Core2DuoSo, are Dual Core processors a waste? Okay, please allow me to take another analogy. The last one in this post. This time I’ll explain it mathematically. Take two functions. One ‘n’ and other ‘n^2’ (n square). For values of n between 0 and 1, n is greater than n^2. And for values of  n>1 the difference starts to get bigger as we move towards right on the number line, the values of ‘n^2’  is bigger than ‘n’.  Same is the case here. Which performs better or questions like “which is better ?”, “which suites my needs?” are all answered through this analysis. For tasks like creating some word documents, surfing the internet, downloading and uploading pictures through a Digital Camera, which are not that complex tasks, Dual Core is not a bad choice. For gaming, high-end Web Development, photo and video editing Core 2 Duo would be better any day.

Let’s go a more technical now. More precise information on how Core 2 Duo is actually more advanced than the other processors? See, I say advanced rather than saying better. That’s important to be right in technical terms. Below are points of our interest:

1. The cache size is increased by more than 50%.

2. Energy Efficiency: Core 2 Duo processors are not only high on performance but energy-efficient too. The processors operate at lower frequencies that require less power to run. (That’ll take me another round of research on the Internet to explain you. Some time later may be).

3. Better Acoustics:  I quote it directly from the Intel Product Brief for this.

Intel® CoreTM2 Duo processors are equipped with a Digital Thermal Sensor (DTS) that enables efficient processor and platform thermal control. Thermal sensors located within the processor measure the maximum temperature on the die at any given time. Intel® Quiet System Technology, included in the Intel® Express Chipset families1, uses the DTS to regulate the system and processor fan speeds. The acoustic benefit of temperature monitoring is that system fans spin only as fast as needed to cool the system, and slower spinning fans generate less noise.

Even if you’ve just scrolled down to the last line of the post. No problems, check out this video. Anyways I recommend DO CHECK this video (link below), it really well explains the difference between all kinds of Intel processors.

Before you navigate away from this page, don’t forget to leave your feedback! 🙂

Click here to view the video.