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Picasa 2 works on PCBSD!

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Good news!

There has been a long long wait for Google’s Picasa on FreeBSD / PCBSD. And the wait is now over… if you are running PCBSD, just go get the latest Wine 0.9.32

Step 1: Install Wine – double click on the .pbi file and follow on-screen instructions.

Step 1.1: Install arial.ttf in c:\Windows\Fonts ( /home/username/.wine/drive_c/windows/fonts )

Step 2: Install Picasa – start up konsole, navigate to the directory where your Picasa installer is located ( cd /home/username/Desktop/ ) and run the installer by typing ( wine picasa2-current.exe )

Step 3: Thank the Wine Team and enjoy!

Written by hiway

April 5, 2007 at 5:36 am

The Future of Coffee Machines

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Let us imagine, you have a few thousand Rupees to spare so you go out shopping. Being the hard-working person that you are, you need some caffeine to squeeze that 25th hour out of the day. A good decision – you purchase the brand new Panorama Coffee Maker. It has the capability to download the latest coffee recipes off the Internet and can serve you different styles of coffee from espresso to Mexican mocha.
It also has one nifty feature – suppose you want to make a cup of orange coffee, all you have to do is get a small brown box labelled “ingredients for orange coffee” from the shop and attach it to your Panorama Coffee Maker. From that point onwards, you can enjoy as much orange coffee as you like!

You have been told that you should not try to tinker, or the Panorama Coffee Machine will stop functioning. “That’s fair enough.”, you think to yourself as you slide in your favourite mug for another refreshing dose.

“ERROR! RECIPE PROTECTING CUP NOT FOUND!” The Panorama Coffee Machine screams at you. You are slightly shocked at what you just heard… all you did was use *your favourite* mug instead of the one that came with the Panorama Coffee Machine! You try to press the buttons to coax the machine into pouring some coffee but it plainly refuses to budge.

Smart machine! So you put the recipe protecting cup into the machine and it promptly fills it with sweet caffeine. You take your fave mug in one hand and try to pour the coffee into it – but the smart cup detects the absence of lips on the edge and swiftly blocks the coffee from falling out. Huh?! You try to put in a straw and it gets zapped by invisible lasers. Whoa! That is hi-tech!

Well, it lets you pour out the coffee, but only after the cup removes all the special ingredients – what you get is tasteless brown hot liquid.

You love this coffee maker because it makes you so many varieties of coffee at your convenience… but you can’t stand the smart coffee cup – you cherish the mug your buddies bought you for your birthday. The geek inside you comes to life, you set out looking for a smart cup that might spill some coffee. After long nights working on a hack, you find a way to make the original cup give in and you smile as you pour the coffee into that lovely mug.

The news is out soon, your friends who own such machines want to know how to get *their* coffee in *their* mugs. You tell them how and everybody rejoices.

A few days later, you wake up to get your coffee and the Panorama Coffee Maker barks out “ROGUE CUP! NO COFFEE FOR YOU!”. After a lot of persuading, tinkering, smashing you decide to skip the coffee and turn on the TV. Everybody is complaining that their Panorama Coffee Machines are refusing to work! The world is in chaos!

Panorama Coffee Maker’s manufacturers found out that the smart cup they were supplying was compromised and people were drinking coffee in their own mugs – which meant that people could find out the secret recipes. The people who sold these recipes and the ingredients were very angry that the smart cup was not “robust” enough. So the company decided to revoke the authorization for ALL the stock smart cups!

Now, only people who had already bought smart cups from different vendors and authorized them early are able to have their coffee. Some people tried purchasing a new smart cup but were greeted with a very unfriendly message telling them that they needed to re-register their coffee maker to work with the new cup.

You remember that it was not so a few years back. You could get a recipe for free from the Internet – people loved to share their creations. And that there were actually a few coffee machines like the Panorama Coffee Maker that could use the freely available recipes and needed just plain raw ingredients – no closed brown boxes. But the recipe makers decided that it was time to make more money, The company that made the Panorama Coffee Maker decided that it was time to get the competition out of the way and an alliance was formed.

This alliance declared that nobody is to be trusted – not even the people who pay for the coffee. If their recipes are leaked out, it would mean the end of the world! So instead of the simple, inexpensive coffee machines, the market started seeing a whole new bunch of snazzy looking gadgets that claimed that they could make any type of coffee available on the earth… eager to enjoy, people purchased the new machines and let go of the old ones.

The alliance also declared that the ingredients will be sold in closed boxes that only the Panorama Coffee Maker can open. If anyone tries to sell the ingredients out in the open, they will be persecuted and sale of their product will be stopped immediately, also their license will be revoked. Same applied or the smart cups – if they could not deliver coffee from the machine to the user in a very secure manner – they would lose the permission to do business. If one cup failed, they would have to redesign the future cups and also provide the current cups with a new “patch” to make them more secure. And for the time that these cups are fixed – every person owning the cups will not be allowed to drink coffee from that cup.

And the bad part was – all this security needed a lot of extra gadgetry – and the customers were made to pay for it.

The alliance also declared that the recipe must not be made to perfection – the Panorama Coffee Maker deliberately reduced the taste while pouring into the smart cups so that it would be more difficult to guess the recipe from the flavoured steam that rises from the cup. Then the cup was supposed to amplify the taste as the coffee touches the edge of the cup and passes into the customer’s mouth. This meant that there would always be less quality in the coffee – but it was deemed necessary for the security of the recipes.

To top it off, if a company designed a new secure smart cup, its security was to be tested by none other than the recipe makers. You had to have a written permission from at least three big recipe makers before you could get authorization from the company.

You sink deep into this nightmarish scene… wondering why didn’t you realize this plot in the beginning. You remember people screaming about it in the streets. You remember thinking “this will never happen to me”. You remember the smell of home-brew coffee and your favourite mug!

Suddenly you realize that we are only imagining this scenario…

Welcome back! If you read the whole thing and if you think that this is ridiculous, you should see what Microsoft is planning with Windows Vista. I’ll rather not repeat – Peter Gutmann has done a great job in documenting it all very clearly. Please, take the time to read his words – they are very important

http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/vista_cost.html

Written by hiway

February 1, 2007 at 2:35 pm

Okay, finally…. got broadband!

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Hahaha :-)

Alright. I’ll stop. But almost 8 years of dialup use had made me thinking in 56k by now. Hopefully this means more frequent photo uploads!

Written by hiway

November 20, 2006 at 5:36 pm

Posted in news

Independence!

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Happy Independence Day!Happy Independence Day to all my fellow Indians!

Celebrating 59 years of ruling ourselves! Whoa, look what a mess we made! I’m only kidding… I’m glad to be born an Indian. And I’m proud that we are one strong nation – the utter chaos that seems to be overwhelming the country, is actually its driving force! Like a well adopted organism, India keeps growing and flourishing in the face of all the threats and setbacks.When I sit back and think… I wonder, what exactly is independence? Is it something that a teen thinks of – sheer joy of freedom from rules and rulers? Or is it something more similar to adult independence – responsibility that comes with the freedom to choose your own destiny?

Are we still celebrating the joy of losing the foreign rule? Or are we coming to grips with the situation – that we need to make our own decisions – good and strong decisions. Decisions that improve the nation as a whole. Decisions that are visionary – that take the future into account. Decisions that reflect our culture that we are so proud of!

Introspection as an Indian leads me to a broad opening, the future is beyond the horiozon, what I can see is the present – and what I see sometimes shocks me. Our advantage – the diversity among people, cultures and languages – is also our biggest disadvantage. We fight among ourselves even after learning a lesson from the British Empire. Our own people are turning hostile, joining the terrorists and killing their bretheren. And we have people who reach out to the needy and give everything they have to save other lives – even to the length of sacrificing their own life!

India is a country that lives in the past and the present at the same time. When we have advaced technology in almost every field, we also have people who cannot even afford a pair of bullocks to plough their field! Such a huge gap is not easy to fill up. It is a daunting task – and I would like to believe that our government is doing its job, even though it seems like it is taking forever!

Independence, I feel, is more of responsibility than just fun. And a quick observation of my fellow citizens shows that not all of us feel that way. The recent past has brought the ‘reservations’ conflict into light. Why do people want reservations in almost every institution? When we talk about eradicating the caste system, why does every admission form of education institutes ask for my religion and caste? If we want a more secular and unbiased education, let there be more scholarships that are aimed at the underpreviledged people. By giving them a handicap, it clearly shows that they are incapable of achieving what we can! There are exceptions – and they need no reservations anyway. We are not making a good decision on this issue… among many others!

We talk about our military – that it too is corrupt and so on. But that, think is an exxageration because I have grown up in a military controlled area. It is not usual for a civillian to be living in such a place, but I luckily got a chance to interact with soldiers, engineers and trainers. And I firmly believe that they are among the finest men that India has produced. The discpline is marvellous! (something I never learnt) Their readiness to take up any task, any risk is amazing. And when you talk to them off-duty, you wonder how these tough nails can be such caring humans too!

Exhibition at Tank MuseumToday’s experience at the Tank Museum in Ahmednagar was similar. The security was tightened due to terrorist threats. I had to empty my camea bag thrice, had to go through the metal detector and answer a few questions before i could get in. After the check, that same stern oficer returned my “thanks” with a very polite smile – it reminded me of the childhood days when I lived near the military colony! The soldiers and officers at the displays were very cooperative and answered all our silly questions – and even the slightly more informed queries about the ammunition. The soldiers were kind to the old, helping them climb on to the tanks as they marveled at the technology. And they were very responsible in making sure that nobody got hurt.

I think that at least the military is fairly independent! But as for us, we still need to gain true independence! So… Forward! March!

I believe in you India! We can do it!
—-
PS Yes this is a long winding rant, and though slightly interlinked – it staggers away from the topic – but isn’t it the nature of the thought train? ;-)

Written by hiway

August 15, 2006 at 9:00 pm

Posted in news, rant

Bats! Rats! Congrats!

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Bats! Rats! Congrats!
Funny title there… and a not so lovely photograph – but hey! When in the last three years did you and I see such a photograph in my collection?

Not once!

That was because I was using a point-and-shoot Nikon coolpix 2000 camera all these days. Yes, all those silly photos and some beautiful landscapes were from that little 2MP camera.

So what has changed? Triple the number of pixels and a manyfold increase in versatility that has been added to my arsenal – a Nikon D50 digital SLR camera!

What does it really mean? Simply speaking, better pictures. Better – technically. Such as this one of a flying bat captured at midnight. A lot of creative experiments are now possible too! Just hang on till I get the working of the camera in my head. Once it starts feeling natural, the quality of photos is bound to go up.

What next? I’m now in a position to save up more $$ than before – simple – I’ll be able to earn more! And so, the next plan is to add a Nikon D200 to the weaponry in the coming 6 months. Hopefully the plans should materialize as per schedule.

I’ll now go grab a few more photos, while you can think of some ‘doable’ experiment/assignment that is both fun and challenging – so that we can test the camera’s abilities and limits… do let me know if you have been trying something on a simpler camera but was not possible due to it’s limitations – I’d like to try and teach my camera some tricks! hehe :-D

Congratulations to Nikon – for making another photographer happy – really happy, for spending that precious money on something worth it!

Written by hiway

July 30, 2006 at 1:11 am

Posted in news, photography

Constant Change

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The only thing constant, is change.

While sipping on the morning tea, I am collecting all my XML data, posts from all previous blogs, and importing them into this new blog. Uniting my collective rant of over two years into one place.

The history goes like this – after blogging on blurty.com for a while, I moved on to livejournal.com… then to blogger.com and now to WordPress.com. I liked blogger.com because it allowed me to keep my blog on my own server and integrate it with my website. But I have noticed that it is better to keep the two seperated – since my website now represents me as a professional… and my blog is very casual/personal/silly in nature.

Apologies to those few gems of friends who have bookmarked my site, you will have to update those bookmarks.

Oh, and hopefully, as I find out more features here, I will be able to improve my blogging skillz too!

Good luck to this new blog!

Written by hiway

July 6, 2006 at 1:03 am

Posted in news, rant

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