Saturday, December 3, 2011

Android 2.3.6 OTA update rolls out to Samsung Galaxy Note

I was a bit surprised to receive the notification for an update for my galaxy note device this morning. This was an update to release 2.3.6 and I just bought the device couple of weeks back. So I opted to install the same. On my network the complete process took less than 10 minutes.








The update was close to 10MB. It was pretty straight forward, but however it was not a one step process. I had to trigger the process 3 times (Accept terms, download file, Install it) from the notification bar. Each time I waited for something to happen before I manually triggered from the notification bar.




It did end well. The last alert told me that the phone was updated to version N7000JPKK2 (this is the UAE update version as per @SamKiesUpdates tweet).





I learned from forums that this update improves the performance and battery life of the device, will have to use it for few days to confirm this.

Friday, November 25, 2011

UAE to block fake phones

I do not know how well the clamp down on fake phones would go, but if you are concerned about your phone, here is a method to check if your device is genuine or counterfeit. I did not invent this, it is published in Gulf News (link below).

If you picked your device from another country or from a back lane store (including Dragon mart), or an online store, or have rooted or unlocked it; I suggest you give this a try.
  1. Identify your phone IMEI
    Dial *#06#
     
  2. Jot it down on a piece of paper
     
  3. Next SMS this IMEI No to 8877.
     
  4. Wait for few minutes. This may take some time. You will receive another SMS, like below one, that confirms your device status.

















Reference
Gulf News article 24-Nov-11

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Purple tint on Samsung Galaxy Note Display

After a thoughtful day, I decided to finally buy the Samsung Galaxy Note. I was happy to see that the device had hit the shelves at the local electronic stores. So I picked one up, yes damn expensive (AED 3000/-) . I am told that the device will come down by AED 200 to 400 in about couple of weeks time.





I got a one evening chance to do hand-on session with the device, before I found out a fault with the display. During a dim light reading, I actually noticed a purple tint on one corner of the screen. This is not visible when the brightness is high or if the room is well lit. I installed the "Screen Filter" software from Market to further reduce the brightness to about 30%. This made the purple tint quite visible.

I had to explain and demo this to about 4 store staff, none found it convincing. It was just not visible in bright store light. I had also taken pictures of the purple tint in dim light, this was convincing. So I returned the device and the stock is also out! I will have to wait till the new stock arrives, this could take weeks..









Saturday, November 12, 2011

Samsung Galaxy Tab (GT-P1000) personal review

Yes, looks like a late review for a device that has been launched more than a year back. I bought the Samsung Galaxy Tab P1000 few months back. This is the one with wireless as well as GSM/3G capabilities.

Interestingly, it is actually a sensible idea to buy a device after few months of launch. After the initial hype hoopla is over, the device value actually slides down to a more reasonable and rational level.


I was looking for a substitute for my 10" tablet that was becoming cumbersome to carry around and failed to keep with the multiple application processes. I used the Samsung Tab for about 20 days. Here are some inputs based on my experience.

  • P1000 is a 7" model and has all the Network and phone functions. You can get all the technical Specs on web, google it. In short,

    • 7" inch TFT capacitive touch screen with pinch-to-zoom capability, WSVGA resolution of 1024x600 supporting 16 million colors.
       
    • 1GHz processor, 3MP back camera and 1.3MP front camera, Back camera support 480p video resolution quality at 30fps approximately.
       
    • Has GSM, 3G/EDGE, Bluetooth, WIFI, USB connectivity.
       
    • 16GB of internal memory.
       
    • On Android 2.2 OS.
       
    • Has slot for SIM and MicroSD card, 3.5mm audio jack.
       
    • Good Battery life, can last about 2 days with normal use.

  • This is a perfect size to fit my hand and carry around. This however does not look like a suitable device for regular phone function, there is no ear piece to directly take a call. Ear plugs, either cable or Bluetooth based is needed (or call can be taken on the speaker directly).
     
  • I found it best suited to hold and use. I have had no issues in operating the device, lying down or slouching on the sofa. If you are looking for a larger screen experience with just about comfortable device to carry around, Tab is good to go.

  • Browsing internet is smooth and I have had no issues. It would be best to use a more feature-rich browser like Dolphin HD, this can be downloaded from Market.

  • The device is rugged and is built for rough use. It does not mean that we can throw it around, it is just that one need not be extra cautious when handling it.

  • Though I put on a screen protector, the device has scratch proof gorilla glass, the toughest there is at this time. So a screen guard is actually not needed for scratch prevention, I still put a screen guard for its other benefits - To reduce Fingerprints and light reflections.

  • The screen is very responsive. I don't recollect a moment when the screen delayed in responding. However there could be response delay if there are too many jobs or a few resource hogging jobs running at the same time and the 1 GHz processor is preoccupied.

  • After being disappointed with samsung's decision in the past to disable Android Market (possibly for devices being launched in this region), I was happy to see that this one came with the market app.

  • Samsung has put in a lot of bloatware on this device. It also came preinstalled with religious applications. I personally don't need this and I was disappointed to not find an uninstall option. Samsung decision to include religious software is probably a marketing strategy to cater to the larger masses, fair enough, but then not giving an option to uninstall is something I did not like. So the next option - root it.

  • I rooted the device and removed the unwanted bloatware. This also gave me superuser access. This gives access to a lot more software on the market. Software such as Appszorter are now available to better customise the look and feel. Rooting was a simple process, there are many sites out there who can give information on this.

  • The TouchWiz UI is good. However the widgets could not be sized. This is a disadvantage as the widgets do not benefit from the higher resolution and wider screen. So I decided to try the different launchers. All worked well, I chose to use ADW Launcher. This gave the option to resize my widgets to fit the required space and show more information. For instance, I was able to resize my Turtle photoframe widget to show a much wider frame and allow for more pictures viewing.

    Custom launcher also give the option to remap available buttons. For instance, I could change the home button to actually open the application menu.

    Bottom line, the default Android software with Samsung TouchWiz interface is good for normal use. However, if the need is to make the look and fell more richer, launcher software such as ADW Launcher or LauncherPro could be installed and used. Apart from this the device comes with its own office suite support and has some good seeded software.

  • Most android market software worked as expected. However some failed to make use of the wide screen. This is specific to software and nothing to do with the device itself.

  • The big screen also gives the advantage of a wider keyboard. This makes typing much easier. Yes it is possible to do thumb typing in portrait mode, I prefer it this way.

That's all from my side. Final comments, this is a decent device and I am satisfied using it for both personal and professional work.



Saturday, October 1, 2011

Motorola Charm MB502 customization


This note talks about the software customization I have done on Motorola Charm to make it usable, for what it is worth.


I bought this device for one reason - productivity. Read more about my thoughts in this note.






In-Short
A very good hardware and form factor, excellent keyboard, optimal performance using the 600MHz processor. Unfortunately, lacks in display (QVGA) and video (max CIF) support. The screen is indeed bad and some widgets look squashed.


Customization
I did some customization to improve on the UI and brighten up the pixelated looks. My current home screens..

 Turtle Photoframe
 Turtle Photoframe
 Screen Filter, uptime, Weather, Agenda widget
Precious Metals Price Widget, aCurrency, Google Finance
 Turtle Photoframe, Drinking Water
 Mensa Word of the Day, Google+, Seesmic
 Android's Fortune, Babyage, Calorie Counter
Lock Screen














I am jotting down the list of changes I did on the device.

root it
Don't do this if you are concerned about support. Else do yourself a favour and root the device. Motorola is not interested in upgrading this device any further, you are left alone (check official Motorola forums on this). This device is probably on end of life list and may not get any more updates.

I downloaded and extracted the SuperOneClickv1.6.5-ShortFuse.zip, and followed the instructions (look for reference link below). This also needs the Android SDK and Java SDK to be available on the system. Note, version 1.6 is required for this device, the higher version did not work for me.



Partition the SD card
This is required for the subsequent step for linking apps and moving them to SD card. I made use of MiniTool partition software to make three partitions on my 16GB SD Card (look for reference link below).

Cell1 -  11GB  (for actual data)
Cell2 -   3GB (for link2sd app)
swap  - 840MB (for additional memory space support)


















 
link2sd - move apps to SD card
Downloaded and installed link2sd from market. The software link2sd requires a second primary partition. This basically moves all apps related files to the 2nd partition of the SD card and leaves a link in the internal memory that points to the actual file on SD. This saves huge amount of internal space and therefore allows installation of large number of apps. Something just not possible without rooting the device.




ADW Launcher as UI

Motoblur UI isn't that bad, but this is a small screen and I did not want it wasted on the dock bar and screen position indicators. The more space available for actual data and widgets display the better.

Installed ADW Launcher from market for easy screens. As the screen size is small and there is a physical keyboard available, I decided to remove the dock bar. Next I made some changes in the keyboard quick launch options to gain easy access to my frequently used apps.

Changed the home key to point to apps drawer and the double tap on home key to phone dialler. The quick launcher option also allows setting of search+ key to directly invoke apps. This is pretty cool as I can now avoid putting apps shortcuts on the desktop.


Font Changer

Downloaded and installed Font changer app from market. Font changer allows changing of font density from the default 120 to 140 or higher. This basically makes the font look bigger on the small screen. Though 140 was good to look at, it also increased the sizes of some of my apps. For instance,  the ADW Launcher 5-icons panel extended beyond the screen size. At a higher sizing, even the default dialler misbehaved due to the spillover of
buttons. I decided to keep the density at 120 and change the default font instead. I copied the Liberation fonts from my Linux desktop to the font changer folder. Then set Liberation Sans font for display from font changer app. This is much more crisp and easy to look at than the default font.

I found out that using a Mono font, such as Droid Mono, gave a good reading quality that did not strain the eyes. However, this takes up lot of space and most short-cuts and widget data is truncated. So will have to stick to a type face font.

Quite a few apps also allow setting there own custom font, this serves well for such small screens.

Some of my widgets did not allow font sizing and are barely readable. You will be able to make out from the screen shots. I still keep them as they act as reminders to get into the app itself.


Issues
I faced following issues with the device.

Battery charger conked
The battery charger worked for the first use. It just failed to work after this. The phone is getting charged from the USB link when attached to a computer. The phone is also getting charged from my wife's Samsung charger (same Micro-USB port). So Motorola does have some quality issue here. Checked some forums and realised I am not alone. It is OK for me as the alternatives work.

Washed out pictures
I knew the video quality on this device is pathetic. Was not happy with the pictures, 3MP should have been able to deliver better. With no flash present, the pics are unbearable in low light. There is a Kodak app included in the device that does picture enhancement. This is working out good for most pictures I take. So will use this as a process to enhance my snaps.

Not much can be done of the video quality. The CIF format is the best one can get from this phone. This will remain a bad score for me.



keyboard Delivers

This is the best part of getting the device. I typed most of this note on the device itself. I setup quick launch keys for my most frequently used apps (calendar, Seesmic, catch, Springpad, MySettings, greader, email clients..). Gotten used to this now. The keyboard is where the device delivers.

Working apps
I use the following apps on the device. Haven't noticed any issues in these. Some show a smaller font size though, have tweaked the settings of some to give better looks. Have put some screen shots here.

- aCurrency lite
- Adobe Reader

















- Astro















- Agenda widget
- Android's fortune
- AVG Anti-virus
- Babyage
- Business calendar free
- Default Browser
















 

- Default Dialler














 

- CamScanner
- Catch

 












 
- Calorie Counter
- Drinking water
- Font changer
- Folder Organizer lite
- Google+
- greader
 







 


















 




- Default picture Gallery












 


- Link2SD
- Load Monitor

 















- Default Messaging



 























- Mensa word of the day
- MortPlayer Audio Book
- Market

 














- MySettings














 
- Openoffice document reader
- Precious Metals Price Widget
- Root explorer
- Seesmic
-
Screen filter
- Seven mail
- SMS backup
- SMS popup
- Springpad















 
- Turtle photoframe
- Google services (gmail, contacts, reader, maps, youtube etc.)

 












 































Final note
The device is much more acceptable with the above changes, but not quite there. Guess this is the maximum I can achieve on this hardware. I will be using this device till I get another up-scale qwerty device, may be in a few months time.

Reference
http://www.dkszone.net/root-motorola-charm-one-click-root-motorola-charm
http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/Droid-Serif
http://blog.wirelessground.com/motorola-charm-battery-issue/
http://www.diy-computer-repairs.com/partition-sd-card-android-installation/



Android devices with physical QWERTY keyboards - for Productivity sake please

I have used Android devices for two years now, all touch screens with virtual  keyboards. Before this, I was a Palm freak and relished the Treo series. Ironically, I am still struggling to achieve the productivity levels I had with my Palm Treo series.


Using touch screen makes me realize that while I have gained on the quality and richness of contents in my hand, I have somehow lost on the productivity portion. This means a lot to me as I use my device as a personal assistance - manage my calendar, tasks, todo, meetings, reminder, grocery, notes, take pictures/videos, quotes, read ebooks, track my activities etc., besides doing the usual phone calls and messaging. Yes my device also reminds me to drink water and track calories?? I sometimes type notes for hours while travelling around.

Now for me, the good part of Android is that it has a very good presentation layer for reading docs or viewing media. The bad part is capturing text. I am finding it difficult to feed data on touch screen. While the virtual keyboards and Word corrections have improved a lot and definitely add to faster inputs, I am still not there with the pace I had on Palm. I prefer looking at the text while my fingers do the capturing. This does not work out very well on touch screens as my gaze has to constantly shift between the keyboard, the word correction bar and the text itself. Adding special characters becomes even more cumbersome as another set of keys pop up for selection. I find myself searching for the home keys (F, J) to position my thumb and start the flow; but then this happens too often.

Physical keyboard also gave the option of having keys assigned for quick launch. For instance I could just press a combination to start capturing a task on my calendar. I did find some quick alternatives on touch screens to somehow make up for this part.

Inadvertently, I also find myself occasionally indulging in endless customization of my device to find the right looks and apps, rather than focus on getting things done.

I might sound stupid to people who are more focussed on media contents and text inputs limited to tweets. I believe most blackberry and Palm folks can relate to this. So in my quest to find the ultimate Android device for my use, I have decided to try my hands on physical QWERTY keyboard based Android devices. Unfortunately, not many to choose from at this time. I am looking for devices that give Portrait QWERTY keyboard and yes with the M aligned under K (not under J). This is how computer keyboards are designed and my thumbs are used to similar alignment on cell phones.

I did find few devices out there to try out.. will update my blog again..

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Epic Browser for a Nation

The only country to have a dedicated Web browser, based on open source Mozilla Firefox. It is also being promoted as the the first browser with an in-built anti-virus tool. Learn more..

  http://www.epicbrowser.com/

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Reliance 3G Tab out-for-grab


This is the cheapest in branded models, you will get it for about INR 12-13K now. With some plus, it goes with a reasonable 3G data plan.

















The other Indian make, Olivepad is now stocking at INR 14-15K.  Google for more news...       











What! you still want an ipad??

Monday, August 15, 2011

How to change User Name/Login name in Oracle EBS (FND_USER_PKG)

A very rare requirement, this is what I did to change the name for an active login. Oracle provides a user maintenance package FND_USER_PKG, this has a routine that allows login name change. For example, existing application user name is AMARKP and this needs to be changed to AMAR.PADHI.










() Before Change
The Application FND tables have below information.

SQL> select user_name, end_date from fnd_user 

  2  where user_name in ('AMARKP', 'AMAR.PADHI');

USER_NAME       |END_DATE
----------------|---------
AMARKP          |


SQL> select user_name, role_name from wf_local_user_roles
  2  where user_name in ('AMARKP', 'AMAR.PADHI');



USER_NAME              |ROLE_NAME
-----------------------|-------------------------------------
AMARKP                 |FND_RESP|SQLGL|MS_GL|STANDARD

AMARKP                 |FND_RESP|SYSADMIN|SYSTECH|STANDARD
AMARKP                 |FND_RESP|SYSADMIN|SYSTEM_ADMINISTRATOR|STANDARD


() Performing the change
Below simple routine call is made to change the user name.


begin
  fnd_user_pkg.change_user_name(
                               x_old_user_name => 'AMARKP',
                               x_new_user_name => 'AMAR.PADHI'
                              );


  commit;
end;
/


() After change

SQL> select user_name, end_date from fnd_user
  2  where user_name in ('AMARKP', 'AMAR.PADHI');

USER_NAME         |END_DATE
------------------|---------
AMAR.PADHI        |

SQL> select user_name, role_name from wf_local_user_roles
  2  where user_name in ('AMARKP', 'AMAR.PADHI');

USER_NAME              |ROLE_NAME
-----------------------|-------------------------------------

AMAR.PADHI             |FND_RESP|SQLGL|MS_GL|STANDARD
AMAR.PADHI             |FND_RESP|SYSADMIN|SYSTECH|STANDARD
AMAR.PADHI             |FND_RESP|SYSADMIN|SYSTEM_ADMINISTRATOR|STANDARD


The new user name is now being accepted at login time. Checked few old transactions created by the user, all are now showing the new user in Audit information.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fedora 15 Installation issue - Graphics card Fan not stopping

Just installed Fedora 15 on my workstation (HP pavilion p6610) that has a graphics card (NVIDIA GeForce G315). All went well except I kept hearing a paced-up wheezing sound of an internal fan. The fan failed to slowdown or stop even when there was no activity on the system. Never had this issue in Fedora 14. Little bit of analysis made me realise that card specific drivers are required. Fedora 15 by default installed the Nouveau driver for this card, this one is incompatible with Nvidia card I had.

 I downloaded the driver file from http://www.nvidia.com/Download/index.aspx?lang=en-us site. Provided the applicable information about my card to get the appropriate driver. Following steps were then taken to resolve the issue.

- Ran "yum update" as root to get all latest RPMs installed.

- Blacklisted the Nouveau driver to prevent its usage. Below line added in /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf
blacklist nouveau


-Made a copy of the latest initramfs<>.img file present under the /boot folder.

- Rebuilt the initramfs file using following command as root.
# dracut -v /boot/initramfs-$(uname -r).img $(uname -r)

- Rebooted the system in runlevel 3. Note that the runlevel setup in /etc/inittab file is no more usable in Fedora 15. A new service and system manager functionality, systemd, is implemented in this release. This uses sysmlinks to manage runlevels.The link file is /etc/systemd/system/default.target. This needs to be pointed to the correct target. There are basically two commonly used targets as below -

multi-user.target : this is the equivalent of runlevel 3 (character, multi-user).
graphical.target : this is the default and equivalent of runlevel 5 (graphical access).

To get into character mode, I issued the below command as root.

# rm /etc/systemd/system/default.target
# ln -sf /lib/systemd/system/multi-user.target /etc/systemd/system/default.target
# init 6



- The machine now restarted in character mode. Logged in as root and invoked the nvidia graphics driver, followed on screen instructions and completed installation.
# ./NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-280.13.run



- To get back to graphical mode, changed the symlink again to point to graphics file now.

# rm /etc/systemd/system/default.target
# ln -sf /lib/systemd/system/graphical.target /etc/systemd/system/default.target
# init 6


- The fan will continue to wheeze every time the system is started, till the time Nvidia driver gets loaded as part of booting.


Links
I got most details from below links.
http://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/ubuntu-63/nouveau-kernel-driver-825432/
http://www.freedesktop.org/wiki/Software/systemd/FrequentlyAskedQuestions


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Using Concurrent Requests for running sqlplus scripts

Concurrent request execution method can be pointed to a Sqlplus script. This option is available in the executable definition screen.

(1) Advantages
  • Quick option to deploy a SQL script from outside the database and make it part of the application.
  • Less development effort and involvement.
  • Out-of-database solution, as script will be placed at OS level.
  • Quick alternative to regularize commonly used scripts (and avoid back end access to users).
  • Good alternative for administrative scripts that can be scheduled with application.
  • One more quick alternative to generate formatted output reports and even print them directly to printers.

(2) Possible Disadvantages
  • Not a good alternative to host important business logic. This should preferably reside within the database or in Java classes in mid-tier.
  • This alternative is not for a named "program" code, it is a script that is invoked every time the request runs.
  • Frequently used compiled program units are cached and save on execution time. This will not apply to a script call, though the executed SQL will be cached (and phased out as per LRU method).
  • Re-usability factor : external scripts are not as easy as reusing a database routine. Choose wisely.
  • Out-of-site, out-of-mind; could result in chaos and security lapses if not controlled and organized. Most shops focus on programming languages and the objects used there of. Such alternatives have to be made part of the regular change process cycle to ensure ownership issues and control.
  • Custom scripts may get removed during major updates to system. Have proper backups in place.

(3) Process of Deploying a sqlplus script
To explain this part, I am using a sample sqlplus script as an example that will return the market price of recently modified Inventory items. User will provide the organization and a date from when to pick up the items and the same needs to be passed to sqlplus script for generating the output.

(3.1) Create a SQL script.
- Makes use of FND_FILE to pass the output back to user as well as log errors.
- Make use of bind variables to accept defined argument values from the concurrent request call.
- If using a PL/SQL block, don't forget to add the slash at the end.
- Abort the script with error to mark the concurrent request status as Error also.

declare
  l_buffer varchar2(240);
  errexc   exception;
    
  -- Try to pass the file name in error log
  -- for immediately identifying the script..

  l_prgnam constant varchar2(60) :=
               ' [xx_mkt_price_for_items.sql]. ';


  -- The ampersand variable below get their
  -- values from the parameters defined in
  -- concurrent request.

  cursor c1 is
    select to_char( organization_id ) inv_org_id,
           to_char( inventory_item_id ) item_id,

           segment1 code,
           to_char( round( market_price, 2 ) ) mkt_price

    from   mtl_system_items_b
    where  last_update_date >=
                  to_date( '&1', 'YYYY/MM/DD HH24:MI:SS' )

    and    organization_id = &2;

begin

  -- putting a column header with the below statement.
  fnd_file.put_line( fnd_file.output,
         'InvOrgID ItemID    Code            Price' );


  -- cursor to fetch the data and dump it into the output file.
  for r1 in c1 loop
    l_buffer := rpad( r1.inv_org_id, 9, ' ' ) ||
                rpad( r1.item_id, 10, ' ' ) ||
                rpad( r1.code, 15, ' ' ) ||
                rpad( r1.mkt_price, 8, ' ');

    fnd_file.put_line( fnd_file.output, l_buffer );

  end loop;

exception
  when others then
    fnd_file.put_line( fnd_file.log,
        'Error : ' || substr( sqlerrm, 1, 100 ) || l_prgnam );

     -- Below exception will mark the 

     -- request status as Error (Red)

    raise errexc;
end;
/


(3.2) Place the SQL script under proper application top folder.
For instance, my inventory related script will be placed in $INV_TOP/sql folder.

(3.3) Create a concurrent program executable with the execution method as "SQL*Plus".



(3.4) Create a concurrent program for the executable. In my case, the program will have a date and a number parameter that will get passed to the sqlplus script.

How are variables passed?
Oracle will by default pass all variables received from the concurrent request as &1, &2, &3.. (and so on) to sqlplus script. Make use of these in the script to perform needful action. The arguments are passed in the same order as defined in the concurrent request parameter screen.


(4) What Concurrent Manager does automatically

  • As per Oracle Development guide, Concurrent Manager will automatically insert the following prologue of commands in the sqlplus script call -

    set term off
    set pause off
    set heading off
    set feedback off

    set verify off

    set echo off

    whenever sqlerror exit failure

  • The manager also inserts a command into the script call to set the LINESIZE as per the print style of the request. This is handy if the generated output is being sent to a printer also.

  • If you trap the error before exiting the script, the concurrent request will not receive any error status and will show as successfully completed. Instead, trap all errors at end of code (WHEN OTHERS) and raise an exception to abort the script after logging proper message.

  • I found that using single '&' calls multiple time will reuse the value already passed. No need to use '&&' to reuse existing argument values.


(5) Bad script?
- The error will usually show up in the output file.

- The log file will have something similar to below lines -
Concurrent Manager encountered an error while running SQL*Plus for your concurrent request 26577406.
Review your concurrent request log and/or report output file for more detailed information.

- Any trapped error should be passed to the log file, as in above case. Error like below will be easier to debug when they show in the log file.
Error : ORA-01861: literal does not match format string [xx_mkt_price_for_items.sql].


(6) Bind variable not declared error?
Try putting quotes around the bind variable of date/varchar2 type. Ensure the date format is as per what is defined for the passing parameter.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dell low on quality these days?

What's up with Dell these days? I was a die hard customer of Dell for about 10 years. The 3 notebooks I purchased during this period were from Dell and all had at least one visit to the service centre. The last series XPS M1330 was rigged two times to change the motherboard. The 2nd time around, I had to convince the Dell service centre to bear the expenses as this was a widely known issue on this model. I gave up buying Dell products in 2009. Moved on to Acer, have 3 of their units and not a single has been sent back.

Few months back I decided to take the Dell Streak mini-tab as this was the only 5-inch model available in the market. Guess what, it lasted me 4 months before having a hardware failure. I returned it to the shop and was informed that about 5 of these units have been returned due to hardware issues and there is no support available in this region (UAE) to fix these. Great, what a hogwash. Maybe it's just my stars..

I get a feeling that dell is more focused on the presentation than what the unit should deliver. For now, I am not wasting any more of my resources on Dell.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The dot in the Gmail email address

Learned this recently, the dot in the email address of Gmail account does not have any importance, it is just a place holder for easy reading. Gmail is actually geared to identify the email address without the dot. In other words, Gmail will deliver the message to your in-box no matter where a dot is placed in your email address.

For instance, all below address point to the same email box.
thisis.cool@gmail.com
this.iscool@gmail.com
thisiscoo.l@gmail.com
thisiscool@gmail.com

This could be handy if there is a need to open multiple accounts on a site with the same email address. While most systems consider these as different email addresses, Gmail will simply point it to one box. 

Picked this up from a tweet. Cheers.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Twitter or Facebook : Which one for what?

This is my take on how I use the two most popular social sites and how these assist me in my day-to-day life. Note, I say "assist" and not control.

I created a Facebook (FB) account with the intention of staying in touch with friends as well as making it a single source for all the information I need. I got in touch with a lot of my friends, some way back from school days. Great. But then something was wrong. FB was slowly taking over my life. There were way too many updates popping up on my device and I soon realized that a good chunk of that was a waste of my time. While I did love to read updates on life experiences and personal views, I hated those typical bragging or aimless updates. Note, this is just my personal preference. While such updates would be good for some, it was no-no for me. The bad part was that some need-to-know or important updates were getting lost in the muddle.

So FB was slowly turning out to be a white elephant. At this age, I would rather spend time with my family and interests than waste time digging into the status updates. Maybe, I would have enjoyed all sort of updates if I would have been few years younger. Maybe, I have an introvert personality that does not gel with all the extroverts out there. Maybe, I am a jerk! Point remains - FB is killing my time.

I need a filtering mechanism that could do some category or priority based feed. Something that would collate the incoming information based on my choice and needs and then present it to me. FB does not have any category based mechanism to filter updates and I have tried whatever it had to offer at the moment. Nothing at present works except preventing further updates from a source. This has its pros and cons that will be obvious to online folks. Disabling updates from some of the sources actually saved about 80% of my time on FB. Though I am still friend with these sources and can have a private chat, I am saved from their global updates.

 I tried Twitter next. Unlike FB, twitter is more in line with a short messaging system. You are allowed a short 140 characters tweet to all your followers and you got to make it sensible enough. I am currently following all sources of my interest. The good part is that the short no nonsense tweet gives you an idea about what is being fed, if interesting click further to read more or just let it pass. So I have got two advantages here - Follow what I am interested in and pick up what I want to read. Well, close enough for me. Yes I could make out that this service has also been abused and could feed you aimless tweets, choosing whom to follow is an important call here.

So my current status - I use Twitter for the information feed, the daily dose of tit-bits that I like to hog on and enrich myself.

I use FB to socialize in the true sense. Connect with friends and that's it. Of late, I am more active on Twitter and this is one reason why my FB responses have been untimely. Sorry folks, I am still working on it .. If you got a better idea, pass it on please..
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