Windows 8, Developer Preview, my way

props

I downloaded the Windows 8 developer preview yesterday and got a test disk and installed it today to check out the all new OS in town. I got to say, the smartphone and the tablet has taken their toll on the PC. Now, the PC’s OS has a tablet interface in it! damn! the world has changed.

As you might usually think, I am not writing this off in Win 8. The reason? well, I tried to install the Windows live writer to it and it started downloading .NET framework 3.5.1 or something from Windows update and I saw my Win 8 BSOD’s twice in an hour. Those are the BSOD’s I saw for a long time in any PC. (Are we missing them? Confused smile) So I put the screenies I took to a flash drive and started writing off in Win 7 instead.

metro

This is it. The all new Metro style interface for Windows 8. It has most of the apps that we use day-to-day I guess. IE, a twitter app, and a Social Network app to connect Facebook to, RSS reader and some other stuff.

tweeet tile

The tiles update themselves after configuring accounts on them. I could not try adding/removing tiles coz I forgot to try that.

The metro UI has the search feature that comes with Windows 8. It is the only way we can open an application, even Paint. The start menu is now a thing of the past.! When we open the metro mode (or whatever its called) and start typing, the search bar comes alive from the side and starts searching through apps, settings and other stuff.

appsearch

The spotlight of discussion that was on the Building Windows Blog was the existence of two Internet Explorers. The PC type one and the tablet type one. Although both share the settings, history and all, the experiences are quite different.

desk

This is IE 10, on the desktop. You might notice that the desktop is pretty much the same thing except for the Windows Logo. When you click that, the screen goes straight back to the tiles. (Ah, NOW you miss the start menu?)

metroIE

This is the metro style tablet friendly IE. Notice the entire thing is full-screen and when I right-click, the top and bottom bars appear with tabs and the address bar shown here as well. It’s a real pain in the back to right click every time you need to switch tabs. But in a touch environment, that would make some sense. Even though the Windows team expects a lot of bad comments about dual-IE, I think it’s a good thing to keep both in line to cater the PC and tablet users. (Or in tablets’ case, when using the keyboard or the touchscreen)

download

Given below is a snap of the downloads progress bar.

The release is full of bugs. apart from the BSOD, I experienced that sometimes the app tiles don’t work when clicked. And there was a time that things wouldn’t just show up in the screen after login. And this social network app crashed saying I need to login.

errors

errors

and the Store was not available Open-mouthed smile (well its not a bug anyway Winking smile)

store

But the twitter app worked fine

tweet@Rama

 

The animations in the system are also revamped. Take a look at this waiting animation at installation.

Windows 8 setup animation

The lock-screen is real eye candy. Take a look at this;

Lockscreen animation

The desktop environment has also gone through some changes as well.

First, these are the properties.

props

props

And some eye watering reality

index

Most of the changes are to good old Explorer. The ribbon is now official for explorer.

ribbon

ribbon_video

I know for sure this will make things really easy to work with and will take some considerable amount of time getting used to.

The title bars have gone through some design change.

These are the new buttons

close button

As opposed to the old ones in Win 7.

image

They look somewhat square I guess.

copy

I tried to mimic that multiple copy case, but ended up in an error saying the desktop was in use.! So we cant put two files from two sources to the same destination at once? That’s peculiar.

copy

That’s about it.

At the end of it all, I have to sum up. 2 great working apps, @ BSODs, 0 shutdowns (yes, it was a restart and a reset!) and some time later, I think I still like the new OS. We have to keep in mind, this is pre-beta (in mozilla terms, aurora channel)

I’ve got a feeling we will get one heck of an OS with this Windows release. I wish the Windows team all the best, and I will keep track of the changes when they happen.

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The Great Virtual Wall

Just read some news regarding Chinese search engine Baidu doing some development copying the Google's OS Android to make a mobile OS called yi.

When seeing the website, I realized how lame China has become. And this came in to my head. The great firewall in place in China. I wanted to do a comparison of a controversial search term.

Enough words, see the pics. This is what internet censorship means. Lets hope our government don't implement something like this.!

The search term was "Tianamen Massacre"
This is the bing results set:


Google's hits:

 What our old friend Yahoo! had to say:


And finally, this is the Baidu result set! According to them, I've searched for a myth! XD









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Barclays Sri Lanka cheating when selling computer hardware

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[update 2011-11-17]
Nalin, from barclays personally called me. As per Nalin, they have got a set of cards from Singapore hand delivered to the shop. But I insisted that Nalin look in to the matter and I told him how sure I was about this. I'm putting this on top because this post is showing up in the 3rd Google hit for "Barclays Sri Lanka".

Nalin assured me that he will look into it and he will personally monitor the hardware sold. So I think we need to give these guys a small break and see.

Hope you can get the stuff done my friend. Hope we all can go back to Unity Plaza and buy good stuff as we have done in the past.

 Cheers.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The story starts when I went to Unity Plaza to buy some RAM for a project at office. We needed five 2GB DDR 2 RAM cards to expand the memory of some of our computers used for a project. So armed with petty cash (some 'petty' cash that is!) Nalaka and I went there.

Since I have purchased a lot of items from Barclays and know the price is cheap, I went straight to the shop. Its what I normally do. If you have circled around unity plaza you might know that the final destination is most of the time, at Barclays. So I cut the crap, we needed the cards so that the colleagues installing the software can have it as soon as possible.

Once we asked the counter, the salesman asked the usual questions with his usual intentions. What is the bus speed.? I straightaway asked whether they have 667MHz or 800MHz. The man asked the question only to reply me saying "we only have 800MHz". The purpose of the question might be to judge whether we are complete IT illiterate or in the higher end of the spectrum. They do that to ether sell crap or to increase the prize of products I guess.

After that, we were told that there were two brands. I insisted on buying Kingston rather than the other which if I heard correctly was ADATA. The prize was 3300 rupees and we told him we needed five of it.

Then they billed it, as usual, and then another guy in the counter for issuing stuff was told something in tamil by the salesman.(Geez, I should have taken Kuru with us!) Then he took out the cards.

Then did I spot that three of the cards were in the Kingston packing and two were not!

I took the cards which did not have packing to my hand and gave it a good look. My Gosh! Any idiot who has seen a RAM card could say it was used!

The the following discussion took place which made my blood boil!

Me: Why is that two cards are out of the packing and three are in the packing?
Issue Guy: [silent, keeps packing other stuff]
Me: Where is the packaging of these cards
Him: We can give you a packaging, but its from a 1GB card
Me: I dont want a packaging, I want to know why these cards dont have their OWN!

And when I looked closer I could see that the Kingston stickers were rolled up in the sides, indicating clearly, the RAM was used. Usually the heat inside the casing loosens the glue of the sticker and when you remove the RAM from the slots which are usually tightly packed between the cooler and the PSU, you tend to roll up the sticker. Besides, there were marks in the gold contacts which showed insertion!

Me: These RAM are used. Mister, I'm not here to practice buying RAM, I want original cards.
Him: We're out of stock. These cards are the last. And these came as bulk, thats why no packaging!

At that point my boiling point passed!  How stupid does this guy think I am to assume RAM cards come without a packaging. What does he think I'd assume! That the cards come wrapped in a rubber band strapping them together?! I was furious over the statement. I lectured him a bit and I straightaway told them that I am NOT paying for the used cards.

After some mumbling to themselves they decided to return me the money for the two cards. Nalaka was adamant that we leave all FIVE of them behind and buy somewhere else! I just couldn't do that because we'd risk the availability factor of RAM in other shops! you know Unity, some stuff go rare all of a sudden!

So we paid for the three cards and came back. I told the salesman clearly that I would never buy from them again!

More than that, this is not the first time they tried to cheat me.

When I went to buy dad's laptop, after all the payment and stuff was finalized the salesman tries to give me the laptop on the shelf for show! On that day too they tried to give me the "last of the stock" trick. I straightaway told him that I want the money back. Then he sends someone to bring me a brandnew laptop! I think they try this trick with everyone!

And that laptop lost its motherboard in a month. The warranty is that they repair it and give it back. Those of you who think this "1 year warranty" is part to part, its a hoax! What they do is they repair it and ask you to wait 2,3 weeks till it gets back. Dad had to wait 2,3 weeks.

Same thing happened when my monitor went haywire at the end of its 3 year warranty. I had my BIT project going. I didn't claim the warranty. I somehow kept the thing going till I finish the project!


I have the following items in my PC from them
  • Foxconn 45cm-s Motherboard
  • 2x 1GB DDR2 667MHz Kingston RAM (Good thing I registered and verified them then)
  • HD501LJ Samsung HDD
  • Sony DVD+RW drive (the model number sadly is forgotten :D )
  • Foxconn 9600GT nVidia card

I would never buy from Barclays again. And those of you who are planning to buy from them, I cant stress this enough, DO NOT BUY FROM THERE!



I will send complaints to memory.lk and Kingston Taiwan, whom I believe are the dealers for Sri Lanka and Asia.

And one more thing. Kingston has their website for verifying the RAM. (http://kingston.com/verify/)If you have a mobile phone or a laptop which you can access the net, do it ON THE SPOT and verify the RAM.



Facebook apps

With the boom of the social networking sites comes the apps. Facebook has almost the number of apps equal to the number of users. But with apps come security issues that is not a good thing to ignore.

I needed to develop an application at office for some test. Got me quite some time to figure out the API requirements and authentication schemes. It is with some training and trail and error that I figured the thing out.

With that, I got a warning to give out to you guys. When an application adds to your profile, it requests some rights. You might remember the window that has two buttons saying "Allow" and "Disallow". When you allow an app the right, say to post to your wall, its normally granted when you are online and for a limited time. (but, there is a certain mode that apps can request to function when you are offline)
When this right its granted, the third party site can use a token to request information in your profile from facebook.

The risk with this API is that, when you grant the permissions, its for ever. Until you remove the app from the profile, it can play GOD!
If it has the correct permissions, which you seldom check when granting by clicking "yes", it can add or remove friends, access your pictures (and even store them in their site) and even send and respond to your friend's messages.

So when you add an app next time, make sure you read what's in the rights dialog box. And refrain from adding apps like "what kind of celebrity ass you have" or "what color is your ghost's ass". I think you realize we don't need to give access to some stupid app to ruin our account. Remember, once you add the app, it takes seconds for it to gather almost all the information it can from the profile, and even if you remove it later, that information is still there in a third party sever!

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Logitech’s Idea of languages

2

do you speak this language? I don’t!

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youPissMe, iPayback! Unlocking an Apple iPhone 3GS.

After my cousin brothers asked me whether I could unlock an iPhone 3GS, I could not say no to it because of two things. Firstly, I know damn well the guides are out there and there is this small grudge with mister Jobbs, for ruining the face of technology and for suing my favorite hardware developer Samsung for no apparent reason other than the definition of the word “icon”.!

So I got the phone yesterday for the ultimate task, unlocking the iPhone. Strange thing though, I didn’t feel much awe towards it when I laid hands on it. This was the first time I got my hands on an iPhone like this. Beforehand, I just got glimpses or I got to hold it and give it back. But after all that droid over me it was just another phone, far inferior in technology and innovation. A mere shadow, which was once the great iPhone. I remember how much I awed it back then when the first iPhone came out. But, people in the office had some love towards it though.

The first thing I did to it was take some photos of the phone with it’s Chinese cousin. Harsha was using a phone from Korea called the “WiFi phone” which was a copy of the iPhone. Look at the friends in hands.

IMG_20110707_163721

The unlock screens of the phones. Hey Mr. Silva in the real phone and Master Chipmunks in the fake.! Please ignore the time on the 3GS, its never been up on a network to get SL time on it.!

IMG_20110707_163812

The sides. Notice the contacts on the lower one? That’s the wifi phone’s dock connector. It has a small diary like dock mechanism which has a qwerty keypad in it. We’re so used to calling Harsha “Talking to the Diary to get an appointment” when he speaks on it! (For that same reason he doesn’t bring the dock to office anymore!)

IMG_20110707_163844

IMG_20110707_163850

Top and left sides. Notice the volume rocker in the iPhone.

IMG_20110707_163907IMG_20110707_163922

The backs.! the real iPhone is on the right side.

So I took it home. After coming home, it was reading for the methods all along. There were so many methods. Rather confusing ways than rooting an android!

For those of you who don’t know, the iPhone is given to people on a contract. The “Contract” says that you need to produce a credit check to the seller. Only valid citizens of the country and in case of USA, green card holders can produce this. You MUST sign the contract to get the iPhone at the lower price. Even if you don’t want the contract, you still need to produce the documentation and buy the phone at a alarming prize. Usually about $200 more than what you pay with the contract, and this is the best part…you still get an operator locked phone! (yes, and are you still wondering why I have grudges with Jobbs?)

Unlike android phones having a simple setting to permit apps to be installed from sources outside the market, the stock iPhone does not let you install apps off anywhere other than the apple’s “App Store”. This, however can be avoided. Its called “Jailbreaking” the iPhone. This of course violates the terms and conditions of the contract and voids your warranty. Its of course synonymous to “the crap at the top of the ‘I agree’ button” in SL!

Its still not operator unlocked. To do that there is an app called Cydia. which can be installed a software addon called ultrasn0w to unlock the device.

So after some reading, I decided to use the redsn0w method to Jailbreak the device. It was on IOS version 4.3.3 and had a baseband version 05.16.02. According to this guide, this baseband cannot be unlocked with ultrasn0w. I need to upgrade the baseband to 06.15.00 to do that.

The baseband upgrade can only be done with flashing an IOS of the iPad to the iPhone. Don’t ask me how that works, I think it works as fine as the HTC firmware working on my X8!

So I did that at office today. I cant download that effing 400M file at home. It would take forever to download.!

So I got iTunes to restore the downloaded firmware, and reflashed it with the redsn0w application in the PC. Its all there in the guide.

IMG_20110708_115847

The problem was at step 13. (yeah. 13) The application crash exited with no message in the PC! The phone is now in a special mode to flash it. It does NOT turn ON and there is no response! Now I started panicking a bit. Re-run the software, same thing.!

Then I gave the lappy a reboot! That did the trick! It went forward.! Phew. That got me worried a bit.

After some time, it booted up. The cydia app was there. Now to download the ultrasn0w add-ons! Not that easy! You see, this is still an operator locked phone! But there’s always WiFi! I burrowed a Mobile WiFi hotspot that was in for testing, and then used the HSPA network to link the iPhone to the internet. An alternative would have been to use Barnacle WiFi tethering on my phone – and that would have been ironic – but barnacle was somewhat unstable.

So I downloaded the add-ons and ran it and after a reboot….

Image258

Image260

Image261

It was up and running on the home network!

I got some 3G signals as well. Its not that good in the place I sit, maybe due to some interference. Used a code to change the SMS center number and SMS was OK!

The phone was collected by my brother in the evening. He must be giving it some hard time now! Open-mouthed smile

Today is one hell of a day!

The Plus hype

Google recently launched it's latest product Google Plus to a limited number of users. I got the invitation from one of my friends at work despite Google's message saying that they have run out of invitations.
At first it was way too complex for me to use. But after some time I got the touch of it. The only problem now with plus is that there are no active users there. About 5 purple asked me to invite them, but they don't seem to have come forward.

google better let this loose before this becomes the next wave!

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Bad cheap 3D glasses

I got one of those Red-Cyan 3D glasses from eBay to check out the 3D options in my 9600 a long time ago. I was playing GRID back then and I tried to play the game in 3D.

IMG_20110527_231132

But the glasses didn’t seem to give any good quality 3D feeling rather than the game looking washed out and grayish all over. And it gave me a funny feeling in the eyes too.

Today, I found a link saying that You Tube has rolled out some 3D vids and I used the same glasses to check it out. Again, no change and same crap experience.

But after removing the glasses, I had this funny feeling in the eyes.! Turns out I see a more bluish version of the world from my left eye and a more reddish one from the right! Damn you eBay! I’m not going to use these glasses again. And if you have one of these, please use caution using it. My recommendation is not to use it, and if you’re planning to buy, THEY DON’T WORK!

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Easter egg in Angry Birds for Chrome?

I installed the Angry Birds for Google Chrome application and after some slingshots I got this weird chrome icon spinning inside the window, but in a very large height.

I’m used to dive bomb the birds when I cant aim good enough. Look at what I found!

birds

birds

This chrome icon spins around the black bar seen above. Cant see anything on this on the web!

The Solid State

I’ve been drooling at SSDs ever since they came out to the market. Two things stopped me from buying them. First was the price and the second is the unavailability of the drives in SL. I remember Anusha and Gayan imported two Intel SSDs. I had more dire needs at that time than installing an SSD into the PC.

But last week Podi mama said he’s coming from USA to SL. So he asked me at the last minute whether I needed anything transported Open-mouthed smile 

Gave me a dizzy feeling trying to remember something that was light enough for him to bring and something that I could not buy here. After a rigurous search for five minutes (yeah, you read right, that’s what I meant by “last minute”! Confused smile) I got the Samsung 470 series SSDs.

The cheapest was $130 which was 64G. So I went for that since I don’t have much cash for PC hardware! Besides, I wont need a bigger SSD since I don’t have enough RAM to disable the pagefile and pagefiles on SSDs are not a good config.

So he bought this for me from FRYS.com.

ssd1

The looks of the drive are great.

ssd2

ssd3

Had to do some software juggling with BIOS to initialize the drive. The same thing that I had to do when I got the new 500G Samsung.

But performance wise, I don’t see any major improvement! Why? This is why;

SSD_Effect

SSD_Effect

These guys are slowing me down. Add to that the pagefile in the older drive, you get one sluggish system. So I fear that I’d go for a processor upgrade. It’ll happen if I manage to do two things;

One is to upgrade the BIOS. Yes. Shitcon (aka Foxconn) has a new BIOS updated in their site. It boasts 4G RAM support. If I manage to install the BIOS (which I think wouldn’t be much of an issue) and get another 2G DDR2 RAM from someone and test, I’d be able to verify the 2G+ support.

The second is to sell the existing processor and RAM! I have only 2 RAM slots, so if I get a good offer from someone for the stuff, I’d certainly upgrade.

Ah…almost forgot. The drive labelled “MASCOT”, a present from Madhawa aiya is now a valid data transportation device rather than a Readyboost Drive. Check this out;

SSD_Effect2

Hope this drive continues to satisfy me! Enough for now. Just installed Live writer and Windows is bugging me to restart! I sneaked in to write this post. Theoratically this post should not upload Winking smile.

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