Posts about technology

iPhone unlocked

According to various reports and first hand experience, it seems that the iPhone has finally been freed from the AT&T network and it is now possible to use it on other networks. For the other geek fans, time to make your orders even before it’s being distributed here!

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Linux machine behind every seat

It will no longer be miserable flying economy class. Singapore Airlines will be installing a linux machine behind every seat in its new fleet of aircraft for a more pleasant journey.

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If programming languages were cars

An interesting series of jokes wondering about what if programming languages were cars.

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Solving the Rubik's cube in 26 moves

A rubik’s cube has approximately 43 quintillion possible configurations, even which a supercomputer takes a long time to unscramble it. However, a computer scientist at Northeastern University in Boston has proved that 26 moves are enough to solve any Rubik’s Cube, no matter how scrambled.

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Web trends for 2007, part 2

Earlier this year, I published an entry on how the folks at Information Architects have developed a train route look-alike map of this year’s big web trend.

Now, they have come up with version 2 of the Web Trend map that’s closely modelled after the Tokyo metro map.

iA WebTrends 2007 v2

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The real-life desktop

Top secret war planes of Area 51

Stealth jets? Hypersonic bombers? What’s really being developed at the military most famous classified base, also known as Area 51.

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Why does the shower curtain moves towards the water?

Have you ever wondered why does the shower curtain moves towards the water while you are showering? David Schmidt has found some answer using fluid-simulation technology on this common phenomenon.

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Concept: Transparent toaster

The concept of a transparent toaster is one of the best inventables in my opinion. No longer will you have a burned toast on the breakfast table.

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Cool widgets

Yahoo! widget is one of the coolest applications I’ve installed in a while. I haven’t been able to stop meddling around with the widgets since installing it and I’ve spent hours searching for widgets and customizing it to my needs.

At the click of the mouse, I’m able to obtain the latest weather forecast, news report and even tune in to my favourite radio station. Daily horoscopes are delivered right to the desktop and what’s more…I do not need to pull up my mail client just to keep track of appointments and tasks as I can now take a quick glance right from my desktop! However, the downside of this is that I’ve yet to find a widget that enables me to be notified of new emails arriving in my inbox.

In terms of system resource management, the application consumed a fair bit amount of memory though it really depends on how many widgets you’ve got running in the background. At the time of writing this entry, the application consumed about 50 MB of system memory on my machine and I’ve yet to feel any difference in term of speed and stability.

Overall, I’d give two thumbs up for this awesome application. It comes in handy especially for those who constantly need to monitor stocks exchange as well as those whom find it a hassle to visit websites just to check on the latest scores.

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Peer Influence

For the past few hours, I have been hesitating to install the newly released Command and Conquer 3 game on my computer. Ever since my colleague purchased the game and loaded on his laptop, I’ve seen him played for days now and the game play somewhat captured my attention. I’m not who’s into computer games but occasionally, I would play one or two. And so, I’ve finally installed it and within an hour, I’ve completed two missions!

On a side note, the Nokia E61 mobile phone seems to be selling like hotcakes. I’ve seen too many of it both at work and on streets. At work, almost one would purchase the phone after another and I guess it could be due to the fact that they may want to keep up with trend and technology or otherwise, it would be peer influence. Of course, I’m tempted to new gadgets as well but time and time again, I’ve always restrained myself because I know I can and would never be able to catch up with technology. Furthermore, I’m not one who will buy things on impulse and normally, before I make a purchase, I would ask myself if I really need it. I’m not criticising anyone here but personally I feel that one should have values and should not be so easily influenced.

Anyway, this week was a great week to catch some breath as there were no exams or time pressing projects. All I had was a presentation on Avionics and IPPT in the morning. Still, I was rather annoyed with some issues at work but I’ve learnt to live with it and let things be. From past experiences, I’ve learnt to be wiser and sometimes, it’s better to observe and react as accordingly.

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rm -rf failed

I’m trying to remove a directory on my UNIX machine but the system says otherwise. Normally, rm -rf directory_name/ would do the job of removing directories recursively, ignoring any files in it.

This time, it simply refused my input. The system grumbled and returned a permission denied. I’ve tried various directory permissions and returned nothing positive thus far.

Any help appreciated!

Update: I just realized that I’ve enabled htpasswd for the directory previously and that’s why I got permission denied. Let’s try to remove the htpasswd protection and see if it works.

Update 2: Nope… things are still broken despite removing the directory protection. I’ve contacted my webhost and they have resolved it by using the root account to remove the directory. Somehow, even though I’m the owner of the directory, unix refused to let me touch the directory.

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Web trends for 2007

The folks at Information Architects have developed a train route look-alike map of this year’s big web trend. It shows the big players, current internet trends and how they are connected.

Like they mentioned, this is completely unscientific and almost useless but I find it as an interesting way to present the data.

Update: Version 2 of the map is now available.

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Internet is taking a break

As reported in the news, the earthquake in Taiwan has damaged a few undersea cables that connect us to the rest of the world. According to IDA, it is expected that the internet connection speed will be slow for the next few days.

Upon hearing this, I wondered how slow things could get and decided to check it out. True enough, surfing speed has come to a crawl and it took me a few attempt to login and post this entry. In fact, it’s slower than the 56K dial-up service I used in the past.

Depending on how soon connections will be restored, I’ll try to keep things organized and updated. Meanwhile, if you’re not receiving any email response from me, it’s simply because the internet has decided to take a break and there’s nothing really I can do to help improve the situation.

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All I want for Christmas

Although it doesn’t and will never snow here, there’s somewhat this sense of magical feeling in the atmosphere. I’ve never celebrated Christmas but I do receive gifts from my aunt and cousins. The best Christmas present for me this year is a complete revamp of my room with new furniture, as well as a new LCD screen for my computer. It’s a 19′ wide-screen LCD monitor from Samsung that’ll enhance my movies watching experience on computers.

To complete the sentence, all I want for Christmas is not geeky gadgets or fanciful stuff. Instead, I’d wish for peace, prosperity and blessings from god.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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Context menu hacks

Feeling irritated by applications which adds an entry to the Windows context menu without permission? Or the amount of unnecessary menu item that displays when you right click the start menu button? I was figuring out how to remove these items from the context menu when I came across this link which proved to be useful.

This hack involves editing the registry and it is strongly recommended that you make a backup copy of your registry before commencing. To keep things short, here’s a list of registry entry involved:

  1. HKCR \*\shellex\contextmenuhandlers
  2. HKCR\AllFileSystemObjects\shellex\ contextmenuhandlers
  3. HKCR\Folder\shellex\contextmenuhandlers
  4. HKCR\Directory\shellex\contextmenuhandlers
  5. HKCR\ \shellex\contextmenuhandlers
  6. HKCR\Directory\Background\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers

Where HKCR refers to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT.

To start off, determine which item you want to remove from the context menu. For me, I wanted to get rid of certain items from the start menu right click context menu. Thus, I would navigate to the key HKCR\Folder\shellex\contextmenuhandlers & HKCR\Directory\shellex\contextmenuhandlers respectively. You would have to look through the list of keys and delete the entire key once you’ve located the right one.

With this, you would now have a clean and slick context menu.

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Firefox 2 reviewed

I’ve finally found time and am convinced to upgrade my firefox browser from version 1.5 to 2. Actually, I couldn’t resist the temptation to give it a try even before it was officially released and I ended up installing the RC3 build, with the 1.5 version running in parallel. In short, here’s the list of top most wanted features that made me want to make the switch:

  • Built-in spell check function
  • Stability and memory management
  • The improved tab browsing experience
  • Better management of RSS feeds

Since version 1.5, I’ve been using the Tab Plus Mix add-on to enhance my browsing experience. Initially, I thought I could do away with it now that version 2 has improved tab browsing features but I soon realized that the former were still better in terms of features and control. One thing to note is that I’ve to part with Google Toolbar for FireFox as it constantly caused my firefox browser to crash for no apparent reasons. I’m still patiently waiting for Google to release an update. Apart from this, the browser runs well with a couple of add-ons which I think are great to have. I’m trying to keep this list to the minimum but here are some of which I’ve installed:

  • Cooliris
  • UK & US Dictionary
  • FlashGot
  • Tab Mix Plus

Overall, I would rate it as a must upgrade software item and I would strongly recommend this browser to my colleague and friends. It’s so much better off than Internet Explorer but I would suggest that one keep the IE browser in order to view sites that doesn’t support FireFox.

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The keep in contact dilemma

Very often, we would find ourselves exchanging contacts with one another and asking one to keep in contact. We are so used to keying in names, phone numbers, email address or even address into our cell phone and PDA without a second thought. Unknowingly, we would soon find ourselves buried with a long list of contacts and unsure of how to go about dealing with it.

When I say to deal with it, it means deciding how to go about keeping in contact with friends from primary school to polytechnic, colleague and many others. Are you guilty of looking through your list of contacts thoroughly only when the need arises — such as marketing etc, or do you really call for social purposes? As I was looking through my contact list few days ago, I realized that over these few years, I’ve somewhat established a wide network of friends and associates.

I realized that not only have I encountered difficulties in trying to maintain the list, it is also not easy to track which number is still valid as some may have missed out a few contacts to inform when there is a change in their cell phone number and the list goes on. This means that one would not know about the change until you make the call one fine day. So, how should we actually go about keeping in contact with one another? Is it really necessary to call each other up every few months or even years just to say hello? I believe there are many ways of going about maintaining contact and it all depends on individual preferences.

It would be interesting to hear your say. Feel free to leave your comments and even share your experiences on this subject.

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Windows live messenger

Microsoft finally released the final version of Windows Live Messenger today. My first impression when I heard about it was that it is related to the infamous Windows Messenger that came with Windows XP. However, after reading from various websites, it turned out that Microsoft is simply renaming the product and moving away from MSN Messenger. Most of the other Microsoft products that will be released in the near future will come under the “Live” idea.

You must be wondering what’s so great about it that I decided to make the switch. As compared to MSN Messenger 7.5, Windows Live Messenger has better memory management. On my 2.4 GHz computer with 1GB of RAM, it utilised about 32MB and this was further reduced to 1.8MB when minimized to tray! Next, it has built in nickname and contact editor that enables me to better organize and rename my contacts — without the need for a third-party plug-in. What’s more, I heard from my colleague that the changes made to the contact list (including renaming of the contacts) are saved to the messenger server. This means that I will not have to stare at a few unfamiliar contacts nickname and trying to “match make” the email address with the contact nickname when you access Messenger on public terminals. I’ve yet to try it personally but I think it’s a cool feature!

Having said so many good things about the new messenger, there are downside. One of it is that the messenger team have not worked on improving the chat logging feature. I actually had to rely on the Messenger Plus! Live plug-in to keep my logs organized and secured. Next, once you have decided to rename your contacts, there’s no way to view their original nicknames. Previously, I was still able to view my contact’s original nickname by simply moving my mouse cursor over their names. Apart from the above, there are many other features which I do not really utilize. Overall, I would give it a grade of 4 out of 5, mainly for better interface design and improved memory management.

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04.05.06

This is a self-programmed entry that has been programmed to be published on 04-05-2006 (or May 04, 2006). The last time such sequential date exist was in February 01, 2003 (01-02-03). The next time this entry will be programmed to appear on 07-08-09 (August 07, 2009).

So, what are you doing at this particular moment? For me, obviously I’ve long drifted deep into the wonderland!

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Indecisive

My contacts list on both my cell phone and MSN Messenger is growing rapidly. I’ve been scrolling through each name now and then and have been wondering if I should delete those I seldom contact. I don’t like the idea of deleting numbers from my cell phone unless I’m absolutely sure the number is no longer in use since this will save the trouble of looking for the person’s number someday.

When MSN Messenger first introduced grouping of contacts back in version 6, I thought that was a great idea as I can now group my contacts accordingly. Recently, I realized that many of the contacts within a group are those whom I do not really speak to and those contacts whom I frequently contact are all over the place — in various groups. This can be troublesome as I have 150 over contacts on my list and had I expand every group on my list; it would have defeated the purpose of grouping them in the first place!

Now, I have to resort to using the old method — sorting by online and offline status. Fortunately, there is this great add-on that allows me to rename my contacts. This helps to organize my contact list and saves time as I do not need to search for personal nicknames or email address every time I need to talk to someone. Even then, I find that of these contacts online, there are about 20% of which I do not really talk to. Perhaps, I’ll be less-reluctant to delete contacts if there is a better alternative or when things start to get out of hand.

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Fedora core 5

Having spent the entire night downloading the latest Fedora latest release, I decided to roll up my sleeves and wipe out my broken Fedora Core 4 Linux partition on my hard disk and await to see what the latest has got to offer. Turned out that overall, FC5 has improved quite a bit from its predecessor and I’m glad my efforts (of downloading) haven’t gone down the drain.

Now, If only I have the time to explore its new features and configure this nix’ box to my preference…

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Importance of data backup

While reading an article on the importance of data and weblogs backup in today’s Straits Times, I suddenly remembered that it has been a while since I last bothered to perform a full system backup as well as export my weblog settings and entries. You see, during the dial-up era, I have set up an exact configuration of my website on my machine for testing out as well as acting as a backup. Thus, all site entries and development templates would be posted there (this is so as to save on my dialup charges) before duplicating a copy online.

Now that I’m on broadband, it is as simple as logging on to my website and posting directly off here. As such, the offline entries on my computer are outdated and I would’ve been in a loss should the server’s hard disk crash and could not be recovered. I think the issue many computer users face today is the hassle of having to go through tons of unwanted files and purging it and to configure the system for data backup.

Fortunately, I managed to figure out a solution to solve my woes (not exactly but it’s better than nothing) — that is to use the in built Microsoft Backup program (not one of the best backup program) and task scheduler and to configure it such that it’ll automatically perform backup on selected folders and files. I’ve also yet to find a reasonable method to manage my backups, which can significantly amount to a few gigabytes of disk space.

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Inconvenience of 2 cell phones

As the military camp does not allow the use of camera phones, I have to resort to switching between my old Nokia 6610 on weekdays and my camera phone on weekends. Not only does this bring great inconvenience everything I make the switch, I have to ensure that my contacts on both phones are synchronized. This can be a hassle as I have to manually take note of which contacts have changed and copy it to my SIM card so that I can recopy it to my camera phone while making the switch.

Thus, can anyone please advice if there are any other easier methods? Note that most new phones store its contact information on the phone instead of the SIM card. Yes, I can still view my contacts from the SIM card but it is more troublesome.

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Christmas gift

This Christmas, my family decided to invest on a digital camera since our good old Chinon camera isn’t functioning as well as it should and that it is just too troublesome to buy films and eventually send it for printing. Here I present the stylish eye-catching baby of the family:

Nikon Coolpix S3 camera

With a high resolution of 6 mega pixels, 12x optical zoom and a beautiful 2.5-inch display screen, this babe is going to capture precious moments & memories as well as keeping me busy for the next few weeks while I go about snappin’

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