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Windows mimicking Linux ? November 25, 2008

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Came across this screenshot of Windows 7 . Doesnt the desktop bear an interesting resemblance to KDE 3 ?

Also , heres a screenshot of Windows PowerShell running on a Windows 7 machine . Linux users have always enjoyed a powerful command line and Windows PowerShell , is Microsofts attempt to provide a powerful command line interface to Windows . However,as the below screenshot suggests there seems to be more in common 😉


Microsoft giving away free software ! November 20, 2008

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Its been quite a while since my last post . Have been busy with college projects and presentation stuff . Well, now here is something interesting i came across . Microsoft has started an initiative called “DreamSpark” , which aims towards giving students all over the globe access to Microsoft software like Visual Studio 2008 Professional edition , Expression Studio , Windows Server etc, which usually costs a lot of money, absolutely free ! .  Let me point out that these are not the “Express Editions” which anyways microsoft has made available for free download , but rather the commercial versions . Bill Gates recently visited IIT-Delhi , to launch the DreamSpark program in India .

Even though i love to hack on and am a big fan of GNU/Linux,  Im not “anti-MS” , like the people i talked about in my earlier post .  I absolutely hate getting into all those platform wars, and bitching about MS and all other crazy stuff like that . But still i was wondering about the “sudden interest” of Microsoft to give away its software tools to the student community for free .

I mean Microsoft is a company which has been around for a long time now, and why is it only now that Microsoft wants to give free access to its tools to the students ? . Is this because of the growing competition from FOSS , which has become a really strong alternative to the MS platform , and which gives people a lot of “freedom”, in the true sense of the word, to explore and innovate ? .

Well, i would prefer not to answer these questions myself ,and keep them open to interpretation . Readers however, are welcome to express their views in the comments . Again, no MS bashing please, just thoughtful and honest answers 🙂 .

Dont Preach Linux. Just Mention it ! October 9, 2008

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Im a big fan of GNU/Linux , but if there is one thing that is a huge turn off for me , is seeing some people preach Linux, as if its a religion . These people bash those who use Windows . They allege Windows users to be “Sheep” and refer to Microsoft as “M$” or “Windoze”, which i think more often than not is plain bragging.

But i think this reflects bad on the Linux community , and by forcing people to convert to Linux we might end up intimidating them and hurting their sentiments which might result in them rejecting or even hating it.  I think , a person who has been using Windows all the time will switch over to an entirely new OS, not if it is forced upon him, or if he is ridiculed for using the system he uses, but only if he is truly convinced that the new operating system would work for him .

Here is a nice blog post , i came across which highlights this issue : http://dogbuntu.wordpress.com/2008/07/27/dont-preach-linux-just-mention-it/

So, lets invite people to Linux , instead of ridiculing them for using Windows . We dont need religious zealots , to each one his own…..Free as in freedom 😉 .

Google Chrome Released September 3, 2008

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I recently downloaded and checked out Google Chrome , the open source browser developed by Google , and i must say that its a pretty innovative browser design . However the browser is still in its early stage in tune with Googles philosophy of “Launch early and iterate” , so i wont be shifting to Chrome from Firefox just as yet 😉 . The first thing we notice in Chrome is its minimalist design much like the Google homepage . Google says it doesnt want the browser to get in the way of the users browsing experience, but rather help them get to the content they want as easily and efficiently as possible.

The Windows version has been released and they are going to soon come up with the Linux and Mac flavors too. Now, why another browser when there are already established ones in the market like Microsoft IE , Apple Safari , and Mozilla Firefox (this ones my personal favorite 🙂 ) ?

Well, according to Google, the current browsers were made considering the Web as it used to be , not how it is now . Nowadays , the Web (a.k.a Web 2.0) is more about applications than just websites , and hence keeping this in mind they have designed a browser from scratch considering the Web as it is now and where it is heading.

In current browsers, all tabs are loaded into a single process, so if something goes wrong in one tab the entire browser crashes . Also, if we open and close many tabs then things like Memory fragmentation happen which slows down the entire browser .

Google says it has solved this problem by making use of a technique found in many modern day operating systems . Chrome makes use of a multi-process architecture where each tab is a separate process, so things like fragmentation and problems in one tab bringing down the whole browser dont happen . Chrome also makes use of a more powerful JavaScript engine, V8, to power the next generation of web applications that aren’t even possible in today’s browsers.

Also, another first in Google Chrome is the Task Manager, which is similar to the Task Manager in operating systems . The Chrome Task Manager shows you exactly how much memory is being used by each website you have open .  So, if you find some resource hogging webpage then you can kill it without affecting the other pages you have opened . Now this ones really clever, isnt it ?.

Another interesting feature is the ‘Incognito Mode‘ . Webpages that you open and files downloaded while you are incognito won’t be logged in your browsing and download histories; all new cookies are deleted after you close the incognito window .  Now this should delight all those naughty people out there who more often than not have forgotten to cover their tracks by clearing their browsing history and saved cookies…lol  😉

If you want to check out all the major engineering decisions that went behind developing Google Chrome then check out their comic-book .

Google Chrome is completely open source , it makes use of components from various open source projects like Apples WebKit and Mozilla Firefox , and hence wants others to be able to make use of its technology and improve it further . Chromium is the open source project behind Google Chrome . If you are interested in hacking chromium check out http://code.google.com/chromium/ .

Now having talked about whats there in Chrome  , i would now like to suggest a few things i found missing and would love to see in future versions :

1. Support for extensions . This is one of the place where Firefox really rocks and i think if Chrome is to have the cult like following enjoyed by Firefox then this one is a must have .

2. Smart location bar , something like the ‘Awesome Bar’ of Firefox .

3. Bookmark Tagging . This would allow tags as shortcuts in the address bar .

Alright, so heres wishing the Chrome project all the very best 🙂 .

A beautiful prayer August 24, 2008

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Where the mind is without fear
and the head is held high;

Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls;

Where words come out
from the depth of truth;

Where tireless striving stretches its arms
towards perfection;

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;

Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action

Into that heaven of freedom,
My Father
Let my country awake.

— From Rabindranath Tagore’s “Geetanjali”

Linus uses Fedora August 18, 2008

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I recently came across an interesting interview of Linus Torvalds, where he says that the distro he uses is Fedora Core 9 . Being a person who has a very specialized area of work i.e. the Linux kernel, he says he doesnt care much about distros as long as they are easy to install and use, so that he can focus on his core line of work instead of bothering with the rest of the details.

He also added that as far as user friendliness goes there are others also like Ubuntu, and now Debian also, but the reason he uses Fedora is purely historic as it had good support for PowerPC back when he was using one.

You can check out the interview at http://www.simple-talk.com/opinion/geek-of-the-week/linus-torvalds,-geek-of-the-week/.

Hope u enjoy reading it 🙂

PageRank Vs. BrowseRank . The algorithm wars August 12, 2008

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I talked about Yahoo! revamping its search service in my previous post.Now can Microsoft be far behind ?. Well, according to Microsoft, the formula behind Googles success in the search area is their “PageRank” algorithm . The PageRank algorithm rates the relevance of a page based on the number of pages that link to it, and how many pages link to those pages so on and so forth….

Microsoft says it has come up with a better algorithm which it calls “BrowseRank” . Now instead of relying on the number of links between pages , this algorithm determines a page relevance by the actual number of hits it receives by users . So, the more visits of the page made by the users and the longer time periods spent by the users on the page, the more likely the page is important. So BrowseRank brings a human touch to the assessment of a pages relevance.

Now, whether Google or Microsoft or Yahoo! will have the final word in search technology only time will tell, but so far Google no doubt leads with Yahoo! at number two and Microsoft at number three 😛

You can read more about this algo war here

Yahoo! India creates ‘Glue’ August 11, 2008

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Well, heres something that caught my eye lately . Yahoo! India RnD has come up with a brand new avatar of their search codenamed ‘Glue‘. Launched only in India as a test market, it combines traditional search with visual and relevant data from the web collated from multiple sources in a very intuitive manner.

Intuitive because it has smart algorithms which figure out what you’re looking for – so if you search for ‘Sachin Tendulkar’, you are thrown up his player profile from Cricinfo, stats etc. Search for ‘Maldives’ and you’ll see photos from the honeymoon destination, a map and other relevant data. Similarly, an entry for ‘Infosys’ gives you stock quotes, company info and such. Very clever. Interesting to see how much different search providers are ramping up their technology to compete with “The Great Google” in the search business.

In the beginning was the command line…. August 3, 2008

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I stumbled across an interesting piece of essay called “In the beginning was the command line” by Neal Stephenson . It deals with the ongoing clash between proprietary and free software and also analyzes the corporate/collective culture of the Microsoft, Macintosh, and free software communities .

This book was published in 1999, even before Mac OS X came out, so it does not deal with things as they are today, but it does induce some nostalgia in the reader by offering an interesting glimpse into the past of proprietary and free software  . I havent read it completely yet, but its been pretty engrossing so far 🙂

This essay has been published in the form of a book, and has also been made available online for free download .To whet your appetite , you can check out the Wikipedia entry for the book.

To download it visit http://www.cryptonomicon.com/beginning.html

Better than Google ? July 29, 2008

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When it comes to search engines , Google is definitely the de-facto choice of people all over the world . And it would be really very difficult if not impossible for any other search service provider to match wits with Google. But still attempts exist in this regard and one of them is a search engine built by ex-Google employees, called Cuil (pronounced “Cool”, but its Irish for “Knowledge”). The makers of this search engine claim that it searches 3 times more pages than Google does.

Also,as you can see from the screenshot below it also includes pictures along with the search results.

So is Cuil really better than google search ? . Give it a test drive and decide for yourself .