Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tech Notes:-Buying A Tablet

Now a days every big manufacturer has their on branded tablet. When we plan to buy one, there are lot of options and we need to know what to look for in a tablet. I hope this articles helps in arriving at a decision.

Screen Size

As far as the screen size is concerned, we have choice ranging from 5-inch to 11-inch.Although I prefer something around 10-inch, its a choice that can be based on ease of use and convenience to carry around.

Technology

As far as technology is concerned there are few things to watch out. First one is the screen resolution.More pixels per square inch generally means a sharper picture for movie-watching and clearer text for reading. The next one to lookout is the screen responsiveness. Tap and see how responsive is the screen.Next thing is that a glossy screen might look great in even lighting, but can cause horrible glare in bright light or sunlight, especially once you have smudged it up with your fingers.

Connectivity Options

WiFi

Although most tablets come with a WiFi options, you can have more than that in a tablet.

3G-CDMA or GSM,Locked Or Unlocked

You can look for 3G which allows you to use a SIM card in your tablet to browse even if you are outside the WiFi hotspot range.You need to select the 3G option carfully, there are tablets which offer 3G through CDMA and 3G through GSM. So if you are planning to use the SIM from your mobile phone occassionally, you need to choose the same connectivity technology as your mobile phone. Another important thing to consider is to buy a unlocked tablet or the one which has a service contract with the service provider like AT&T ,T-Mobile etc although personally I would prefer to go with an unlocked one so that you can put the SIM of your choice.

GPS

You also might want to consider a model with GPS, since a tablet’s larger screen size makes it to read than a smaller GPS-enabled phone.

Bluetooth

Bluetooth can be useful, as well. For one, it offers easy wireless data transfer. Connecting a Bluetooth headset or headphones can also be useful for chatting and listening to music. You may also want to use a Bluetooth keyboard  or mouse. 

Operating Systems

The main choices here are Apple's Iphone OS,Google's Android,Microsoft's Windows 7 and HP WebOS(looks like HP is going to get rid of this soon). Apple’s iOS offers a large number of  apps through their app store as well as very good hardware and software integration, but lacks support for Adobe Flash, limiting the web experience.Android as well as Windows 7 got an app market and  has a lot of great apps, but the quality control isn’t as tight as Apple’s. But personally I would prefer Android.

More comparison can be found here


Input/Output Options

Obviously you cant expect all the I/O options that you have in your laptop in a tablet. But you can expect some decent minimum options that include

3.5 MM Headphone Jack

This option is available in almost all tablets.

USB or Mini USB

Although most tablets have this port or the mini USB port I have noted that Apple iPad don’t  have a USB port, so you are limited to gadgets that work with its proprietary iPod connector.

Ethernet

You can plugin directly to the router instead of using WiFI.This is useful if you dont have a wireless router or you have one with week WiFi signal.

HDMI

With most of us having big HD TVs at home, HDMI is a good option to have in a tablet.This option allows us to show videos/photos on a TV screen with good quality.

Additional Connecters

Some tablets allow connectivity through custom connectors mostly for attaching external monitors or for for storage.Docking stations are available for few of them,

Storage

Flash-based storage used in most tablets are expensive, meaning we might  have to settle for a fewer GBs. A tablet with an SD or microSD slot is a big advantage, since it will let you upgrade your storage by adding a removable memory card.Also a tablet with USB or Mini USB will also help you to add more storage by connecting external hard drives.

Speakers And Camera

surely, most of us like to use headphone especially on tablet, but there are times when we like to use a speaker or wish we could attach an external speaker. Surely quality of speaker is an option that we should consider while planning for a tablet.

We should be looking for a Front facing and a rear facing one. Front facing one obviously for video chat or video calls.

Finally my personal opinion is that the choice of tablet should always depend on our need. For example a person who uses a tablet just for browsing internet and reading emails need not bother about camera,OS etc.

Here is an easy comparison chart for tablets currently available in market.



Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tech Notes :- Uniden DECT 6.0 Display Shows Searching

I have faced this frequently with my Uniden DECT phone.The solution is simple.Press and hold the end key on one of the handsets, while holding the end key, press and hold the # key. After 2 or 3 seconds the handset should beep and read "deregister Handset" and underneath that "Base Unavailable". Select base unavailable option and confirm. Then handset should read "Handset not registered" now, you can place handset on base" Once you place the handset in the base it should register in 2 - 3 seconds and you are good to go, Sometimes you might need to remove the battery of the handset and connect it back and then repeat the above process.

Monday, November 21, 2011

How to calculate tax refund in US


Most of us are very happy to see the fat tax refund check or refund in bank account from IRS....surely HDTVs,laptop,tablets might be going through the minds of many,but in reality we are loosing some money for that.

The reason why we get a huge refund is mostly due to the fact that we were paying the government too much as tax on our income throughout the year.A withholding tax allowance is simply a number that you can claim on your W4 form that will change the amount of your income that your employer will withhold from you throughout the year. The number of allowances can vary, but is most likely 0, 1, 2 or 6. The higher the allowance number, the less tax will be withheld from you with each paycheck. A W4 is filled out by an employee when they start employment. Allowances on a W4 can be updated at any time by filling out a new one. Most employers will allow you to do this whenever you desire  and your withholding tax amounts should take effect in your next full pay period (normaly next month).

So imagine if you were not paying government more than required tax and were investing that for high return. That's what my point is. You were loosing this high return..... 

There are numerous website to calculate tax allowances.Some are listed below.You may consult a tax professional if you are still unclear..

IRS Withholding Calculator
H & R Block withholding calculator

Saturday, November 19, 2011

How To Make Virgin Coconut Oil At Home

Last week I was buying some coconuts from the local grocery store. The cashier was curios to see the number of coconuts I was buying and she asked me what I am going to do with that. I explained that I use those for making virgin coconut oil. She was amazed to know that we can make that at home because she  used to spend a lot of money to buy the bottled ones from market.I have learned this from my grandmother because I am from Gods Own Country-Kerala which is the southern most state of India and there we use virgin coconut oil a lot.... in curries,dishes,as hair oil, for body massage,as baby oil, to make bath soap and in lot of Ayurvedic medicines
Its easy to make virgin coconut oil at home. Follow the below simple steps and watch the video.
  1. Get ripe coconuts.
  2. Trim off the brown off the coconut.
  3. Break the coconut into two part.(you may collect the coconut water and drink it.Its good).
  4. Shred the coconut.
  5. Use your hands to squeeze maximum milk out of the shredded coconut.
  6. Add  enough water to the squeeze shredded coconut residue to squeeze out the remaining milk.
  7. Strain the milk to a saucepan and set the stove to medium heat.
  8. Keep on stirring the milk.
  9. After sometimes the milk starts curdling and oil starts to get separated.
  10. Boil until the residue becomes golden brown and the oil somewhat stops to bubble.
  11. Now take the saucepan off the stove and place the saucepan in a slanting position so that the oil settles down and gets separated from residue.
  12. After the oil cools off,carefully scoop the oil off the pan to a dry container
  13. Your home made virigin coconut oil is ready for use. :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Movie Time:-Adaminte Makan Abu Shines In 58th Indian National Film Awards



Adaminte Makan Abu
is a new Malayalam film which will be released in June 2011,
a simple yet evocative narrative of a man’s pursuit of religion, which was adjudged the best at this year’s national film awards.The director and producer of the movie, debutante Salim Ahamed, says that the story of this film has been in his mind since almost ten years and it is only now that the dream of portraying the story to the public has come true. It is a story of a poor Keralite Muslim who passionately wishes to go for Hajj but is not able to do so because of financial and various other reasons. The movie has topped the list of films in the country and has bagged several awards at the National Film Awards and state awards. The main roles in this film have been essayed by Salim Kumar and Zareena Wahab. Being a debutante in the direction field, this recognition and fame would surely increase the confidence of Salim Ahamed as well as other newcomer directors in the field. The script, screenplay and dialogues for Adaminte Makan Abu have been written by Salim Ahamed.

The story of Adaminte Makan Abu revolves around an aged couple who long to go to Mecca to perform the holy Hajj. The protagonist, Abu (Salim Kumar) earns his income for livelihood by selling Athar and copies of the Quran. The popular and talented actress Zareena Wahab plays the role of Abu's wife. Both the husband and wife have only one wish and nurtures a dream of going for Hajj. Zareena tries to make an income by
breeding cattles and poultry so that the couple can fulfill their only dream,going to the holy land,Mecca. They have a son who lives in Dubai but there is no help from him. To make the money needed for their trip, Abu decides to cut off a huge tree standing in front of their house but only after he cuts it does he realise that the tree is not of good quality to be sold. Many other people including travel agencies are ready to help the couple by lending them the much-needed money but Abu is not willing to perform the Hajj using borrowed money. Ultimately when Abu realises that he will never be able to fulfil his dream, he begins to think about a great sin that he did long back. The sin was the cutting of the huge tree upon which many other lives were dependent. Abu feels that this could be a major reason why he is not able to go for Hajj. The film also deals with environmental issues.










Sunday, May 15, 2011

Facebook As A Crowdsourcing Tool













Facebook is well-known for connecting friends, publicising events and allowing people to be in touch and up to date. But recently, a scientist conducted a fish survey using the social networking tool.In January, doctoral candidate Devin Bloom of the University of Toronto helped conduct the first ichthyological (fish) survey on Guyana's remote Cuyuni River. Led by Oregon State University's Brian Sidlauskas, the goal was to find which species of fish live in the Cuyuni and get a good estimate of their abundance.Bloom and the research team spent two weeks catching as many fish as they could. But after collecting more than 5,000 specimens, the team had a big problem.The team needed an accurate count of each species and provide a detailed report to the Guyanese government. That's when Bloom, who isn't exactly the most tech-savvy guy out there, suggested Facebook. Sidlauskas uploaded photos of each species. And in less than 24 hours, their network of friends - many of whom hold PhDs in ichthyology - had identified almost every specimen.With 5,000 identifications in hand, the team was able to deliver their results and return home on schedule.The team's novel use of Facebook to accurately crowd-source could change the face of facebook in coming days

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tech Notes:-Using Google Maps,GPRS Connection And GPS Module To Make Your Phone Into A GPS In India

If you have a phone with GPS module and google maps installed and you have GPRS or 3G or wifi, you can use your phone as GPS in India.My phone is HTC Touch 23333 with BSNL 3G/GPRS connection,google maps and GPS module. This was handy when I was in Chennai last time.It was a rainy and I was not able to get a taxi even after waiting for almost 45 Mins. Then I decided to use public transport. I keyed my destination address in google maps installed in my HTC touch 2333, one of the cheapest phones with GPS module.It showed me that all that I need to do is to cross the street and get into the Chennai Metro train , I did that and got the down at the station which it was showing as nearest to my apartment. Then it showed me the walking route as well. I reached home in less than 25 mins, were as it takes almost one hour in taxi to go through all the traffic blocks :) and it costed me just 5Rs only.

The only feature that you dont have here when compared to a GPS device is that you dont have voice guided navigation.I tried this even at my home town,Thrissur,it was guiding me even through small pocket roads.

Another new feature coming up is Google Maps Navigation which is in beta phase now.Unfortunately, this is not available for my Windows mobile :(. See the videos below.










Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tech Notes:-Using Knoppix Linux Boot CD to Back Up Your Personal Data



What is Knoppix?

Knoppix is a Linux boot CD created by Klaus Knopper. Knoppix can be used on most Windows computers and is best suited for instances where your Windows operating system has been corrupted and you are unable to boot into your desktop workspace. Knoppix is basically an entire operating system (like Windows) on a single CD. Your computer loads the Linux operating system stored on the CD instead of your normal Windows operating system, when you boot from your CD-ROM drive. This allows you to bypass any faults or errors that are occurring in Windows and access the data stored on your hard drive. Knoppix sports an intuitive graphical user interface that, when combined with the instructions below, is easy for anyone to use.

Where can I get a Knoppix boot CD?

The Knoppix software can be downloaded from the Knoppix web site (http://www.knoppix.org) and burned to a CD. However, the file is quite large (700 MB), so a high-speed Internet connection is recommended, and the site can be somewhat difficult to navigate.

External Storage Devices

If you are using Knoppix to access and back up your data, you will need something to store the data on once you have booted up using the Knoppix CD. Depending on how much data you need to back up, this could be a USB flash drive or a USB hard drive. A USB flash drive is usually smaller than a hard drive. If you are only backing up a limited number of documents or files, this will be sufficient. If you are backing up a larger amount of data, such as pictures and music, a USB hard drive may be necessary.

Using a Knoppix Boot CD to Back Up Your Data

Note: Before starting in on these instructions, make sure that your computer is set to boot from a CD

  1. Turn on your computer and place the Knoppix CD in your CD-ROM drive.
  2. Once you have booted from the Knoppix CD, you will see the following screen. Press the Enter key.



    Knoppix will begin a colorful, text-based initialization stage that will look like this:



    After Knoppix has finished initializing, it will load the graphical user interface:



    When Knoppix is finished booting up, your screen will look like this:


  3. Close the Knoppix 4.0.2 - Konqueror window by clicking on the X in the upper right-hand corner of the window.
  4. Insert your USB hard drive or USB flash drive into an open port on your computer. A new icon will appear below the Trash icon on the desktop named something like to sda1.


  5. You will need to set the permissions on the USB device to allow Knoppix to create new folders and transfer items from your hard drive to the USB device. Right click on the icon for your USB device and choose Properties, then click on the Permissions tab.
  6. On the Permissions tab, change the Group and Others drop-down menus to Can Read & Write and check the Is executable box.


  7. Next click on the Device tab. On the Device tab, remove the check from the Read only box and click the OK button.


  8. On the desktop, click on the icon for your USB device. Knoppix will “mount” the device and then open a window to show you the contents.


  9. If you already have data on the USB device, it will display in this window. Create a new folder to store the data that you are attempting to back up. Right click in the empty space in the right-hand side of the window and choose Create New, then choose Folder.

Note: If the Create New option does not appear when you right click, you have not set the permissions correct according to the directions above. Go back to step 5 and continue from there.

10. The New Folder window allows you to enter a name for the new folder you just created. In the example below, the new folder is called “backup”. Once the folder has been created, it will appear in the right side of the window.

11. Next you need to locate the files on your local hard drive that you want to back up. Drag the USB device’s window to the upper right-hand corner of the screen and look back on the desktop. Click on the Hard Disk icon to display its contents.

Note: If you have more than one hard drive, or a single hard drive with two partitions on it, you will see two Hard Disk icons (most probably hda0 and hda1). You will need to check each one to see which contains the files you want to back up.

12. Select the files and folders you want to back up and drag them to the USB device window backup folder. In this example, we are going to back up the My Documents folder.

- In the Hard Disk contents window, click on Documents and Settings folder (which may display as Documents a…).

- Find the folder with your Windows account user name and click on it.

- Find the My Documents folder and click and drag it to the USB device window. When you release the mouse button, a pop-up menu will appear.

- Choose Copy and Knoppix will copy the data from the hard drive to the USB device.

13. Now that your data has been backed up, you can disconnect the USB device. In Knoppix, you have to do this carefully to prevent damaging the device or data loss. Right click on the icon for the USB device and choose Unmount. It may take anywhere from a few seconds to a couple of minutes to unmount itself.

14. After it has finished unmounting, drag the USB device’s icon to the Trash icon on the desktop. Click Yes to confirm you want to remove the device. You should no longer see the USB device icon on the desktop. It is now safe to unplug it from the computer.

15. To shut down the computer properly in Knoppix, click the "K" button on the far left of the bottom tool bar and choose Log Out from the options presented.

16. On the End Session for "knoppix" screen, choose Turn off Computer. Your computer will run through the shut down process and your CD-ROM drive will open. Remove the Knoppix disc and press the Enter key.


You have completed backing up your data using a Knoppix boot CD.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

You Dont Need To Look Up To Big People For Lessons On How To Get Better -Biggest Lessons Can Come From Simple Smalll Folks Around You






All of us tend to look up to big people for lessons on how to get better. We are keen to learn the secrets of their success. But we forget that sometimes the biggest lessons in life come from the smallest folks around us.



Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ivor Madom Inching Towards Limca Book Of Records


Ivor Madom is located in the banks of Nila river (Bharathapuzha), towards the north of Thrissur district in south Indian state of Kerala. This holy place located in a small village witnesses several hundred of people all along the country visiting, worshiping and performing rites and rituals every day. Cremation here is believed to be a very holy.

The legends says that Ivor Madom is the place where Pandavas, after Kurukshetra war, got relief from their mental agony by doing prayers and Bali Tarpanas for their Guruji’s and cousins who were killed by them in the war. Bharathapuzha is believed to have cleansed them of all their sins and restored their mental strength. Even now, hundreds of people come to Ivor Madom Sree Krishna temple and do the last rites and Bali Tarpanam to those departed souls dear to them.

This is the only public crematory which followed Hindu rituals in the state of Kerala.Ivor Madom is getting entry in Limca book of records for the largest number of cremations as per Hindu rituals( more than 150000).

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tech Notes:- SSH Login Without Password





There are certain circumstances which demand login to mutiple linux servers/desktops without a password. One such situation is to initiate a remote shutdown script to shutdown all servers/desktops in a network. So how do you do it.Here is how it is



Create public key and private key using ssh-key-gen on local machine

sudeep@local-host$ ssh-keygen
Generating public/private rsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (/home/sudeep/.ssh/id_rsa):[Enter key]
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase): [Press enter key]
Enter same passphrase again: [Pess enter key]
Your identification has been saved in /home/sudeep/.ssh/id_rsa.
Your public key has been saved in /home/sudeep/.ssh/id_rsa.pub.
The key fingerprint is:
22:b3:42:cf:a5:b5:28:11:21:c5:be:26:2c:f3:3b:f9 sudeep@local-host

Copy the created public key to remote host using ssh-copy-id


sudeep@local-host$ ssh-copy-id -i ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub remote-host
sudeep@remote-host's password:

ssh-copy-id appends the keys to the remote-host's .ssh/authorized_key



Now try login to the remote host without password

sudeep@local-host$ ssh remote-host
Last login: Thu Feb 24 21:58:45 2008 from 10.0.0.5
[Note: SSH should not ask for password here.]

sudeep@remote-host$ [Note: You should be on remote-host here]

Using ssh-copy-id along with the ssh-add/ssh-agent

If you have loaded keys to the ssh-agent using the ssh-add, then ssh-copy-id will get the keys from the ssh-agent to copy to the remote-host. That is it copies the keys provided by ssh-add -L command to the remote-host, when you don’t pass option -i to the ssh-copy-id.


sudeep@local-host$ ssh-agent $SHELL
sudeep@local-host$ ssh-add -L
The agent has no identities.

sudeep@local-host$ ssh-add
Identity added: /home/sudeep/.ssh/id_rsa (/home/sudeep/.ssh/id_rsa)

sudeep@local-host$ ssh-add -L
ssh-rsa BBBBA2NzaB2cc1AAAAACIAAAAREcsJLFILxfcR2ASxcA328c62vf72DxbVA
a2rcPHTypq3kIeMUszAPnsxsepe12c/Ow== /home/sudeep/.ssh/id_rsa
Justify Full
sudeep@local-host$ ssh-copy-id -i remote-host
sudeep@remote-host's password:

Now try logging into the machine, with "ssh 'remote-host'", and check in:
.ssh/authorized_keys

to make sure we haven't added extra keys that you weren't expecting.
[Note: This has added the key displayed by ssh-add -L]

Sunday, February 6, 2011

lazybeggers.com - At Least We Are Honest !..Be Happy,Be Lazy,Be You..



You see these guys in Seville, Spain. And they gets a lot more attention. They even accept donations by paypal.They are there in both virtual and real space, they have facebook page ,they have a URLThe photos are kinda creepy but you gotta admire the honesty and sense of humor. Are they clever or creepy? www.lazybeggers.com

These are not ordinary people, they are there to collect some money, of course just like that :).The important thing is they are very honest and clever. They disclose how they use the money(not like some of our politicians).Below is some of the items they spent money on.
* Beer
* Travel
* Food
* Nemo (Resaca)
* Noem (Whisky)
* Beer in bars to charge the laptop Yep. We finally got one! The Lazy Beggars - Laptop with WiFi, no battery but a friendly beershop (this is different, OK?!)


Lyndon was working as a Network Engineer/Architect for multinationals companies/banks etc(was getting paid around 6 lakh Euros per year).He was fed up with job which involved rigorous travel and ultimately made him sick. Thats when he decided to leave the job and start as a juggler. He traveled through England, France and Spain finally ending up in Granada where he met Jose.Later they got Nemo, the laziest dog in earth :)

Jose was born in the Canary Islands (Tenerife).Before he joined Lyndon and Nemo, he was doing a variety of jobs

Tax Collector
Solar Energy Technician
Carpenter, Salesman for many things, Chef, etcetera...

Then they started their lazy enterprise(Lazy Beggars - Four Signs Unlimited) with the healthy purpose of making people (often including them) both laugh and think.

"We are honest. We make you smile. What more can you ask?" is their slogan

All this is genius enough. In celebrating their rejection of nine-to-five life they give themselves and others like them far more dignity than the most well-meaning charity could ever provide. They very much do not represent themselves as objects of pity. They live like this, they say, because they enjoy it. But even better is the fact that most of those spare euros are spent not on cocaine but in the internet cafe, where the pair work on their website.

The website features pictures of the pair on the streets, plus pictures of other local homeless characters they know. It also shows the Lazy Beggars in various cities around the world on their travels.The site is full of charm and wit, and its crowning glory is: you can give them spare change by Paypal! Truly, begging has entered the electronic age. With the internet, you can keep on asking for spare change even when you're asleep!!!

Of course the Lazy Beggars will also accept gifts sent by more traditional means. You can send them letters to be collected at their local post office. In the Middle Ages begging was dignified by the example of the mendicant friars. Today it is dignified by the example of the Lazy Beggars so congratulations to them :) and wish all the best to keep up the good work of making every body smile