Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

I switched to a MacBook Pro in May of this year. And it has been a pleasant computing experience so far. Yes, my MBP had an issue. But thanks to the apple warranty I had its motherboard replaced for free. And since then I’ve upgraded the memory (to 16 GB) and at some point would love to upgrade to a SSD as well. I hear SSD’s are better in terms of not just speed and booting time, but also in terms of withstanding traveling. Though I don’t travel much, I do like to just close the flap and take it with me. Other than that, the only other thing that I plan to purchase for my MBP is apple care plan for another two years. That is just for piece of mind.

My other apple device is an iPad. I bought it mostly because I wanted to travel light when I hop around for meetings. And now I have built my work flow around it replacing the planner/notebook that I used to carry. I am now teaming a workflow centered around GTD principles, but using the pre installed applications that are available both on the iPad and MBP. I like the fact that they get synced via iCloud. The worst thing that can happen to a task management app is it going out of sync.

Besides a previous iPhone3 which I used till last year these are the first Apple computing products that I have used. And I have to say I am a convert. Every now and then I go wow over the new intel ultra books. But then I remember how I used to go wow over the MBP’s when I was on Dell’s and HP’s. When it comes to consumer electronics, Apple has mastered something that the others are still playing catch up with.

Windows8 and MS’s Surface tablet seems pretty promising. That combination, along with a new sleek ultra book might pose a challenge even for apple. Ultra book + Surface + windows phone with their shared commonalities across their OS can make the everyday computing experience for users seemless like on Mac + iOS platform. Bit given that I have already invested heavily on the Mac platform I’m more likely to remain on this camp.

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Internet woes

My Internet has been giving me trouble for the past few days. I wasn’t sure what it was at first. It seemed like the connection was acting up. But the I realized. It was the router.

I am trying to make do with the equipment that I have in hand. Since I switched back to the ADSL from DSL I switched back to using an old wireless G ADSL router. And since the signal on that was crap I plugged in my old N band DSL router as a wireless access point.

The one day, during the past rainy season, the N router burned. So I was forced to go back to using the crappy G wireless signal. Not just that it was a g signal it was also an old router. So that explains why I am experiencing a crappy wireless network at home. It really is a pain.

But with my recent obsession with minimalism, I was hellbent on using what I have for as long as I could. But I think now the time has come to retire those equipment and switch onto something that is more reliable and faster. I am going to get me a better router.

Computer storage is something that you will never get enough of. Specially with the advent of the digital cameras all your life’s treasured moments seem to be stored and bits and bytes on a hard disk. Though you can put most of me online, I think it’s still cheaper and more convenient to keep the locally, specially when you’re intent may net be as fast or reliable as you may think.

I’ve been thinking of a good storage strategy for personal computing needs for a while now. And I’ve been pretty keen to build a NAS using one of the computers that were lying around. I purchased the hard drives about a month back and gave it a try. But I just could not get those old computers to boot up. I think leaving them packed Ina box did something to them. So I stripped the, of their hard drives (more hard drives now) and sold them computers for scrap.

So now I had hard drives too total capacity of around 2.5 Tb but no way of using them. I wasn’t keen on buying individual enclosures for all of them. Then I came across a multifunction hard drive docking station on eBay.

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This thing is pretty cool. It takes 3 hdd’s and apart front at it has card readers for all card types you can think of and USB ports as well. I loved it. Not only does it make easier to swap the hard drives, it will sure consume less power and space. Of course it won’t give me all the benefits of a NAS like the ability to gave it download torrents and such. But that wasn’t so much of a priority for me.

Using that and a few portable hard drives that’s had now I have a small arsenal of storage. I am using my old 1Tb external hdd as the time machine backup device for my MBP. And I am moving all my musical and photos to the other external drives on the docking station. And I am keeping one small portable and the other old hard drives as storage for my windows based computers. Since we have a few computers at home with a few digital cameras and other potable devices, the need to back them up comes up often.

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Switching seems to be a recurring topic on my blog these days. Hopefully this will be the last one in this series.

I switched ISP’s last month. As much as I was happy with the consistent service provided by my previous ISP, LankaBell, they were expensive. I was signed up for a 2Mbps connection and I was getting more than 1 Mbps consistently. Consistency is the key here, as my 4Mpbs line at work, doesn’t seem that fast, the speed is volatile and it does have a great impact on the actual throughput when you are using it.

Anyway, I was happy with the service but not with the price I was paying for it. And since SLT came up with their new broadband packages, promising minimum of 2 Mbps and maximum 8Mpbs speeds with a capped monthly usage quota, I was itching to switch. Only thing I wasn’t sure about was whether I would exceed the quota of 20 Gb per month, and whether the stated speeds would be practically available given the fact that this is shared bandwidth.

However, I faced a third dilemma. When I applied for a connection, I was told that the area I was living in was running at full capacity and that I would have to wait, indefinitely until they can activate my connection.

After about a month they did, and I managed to set up my home network using some old equipment that were in possession. Immediately, I faced some volatility issues. My connection kept dropping and it was hard to get anything done. I often kept switching back to my old LankaBell connection, in order to complete my work (I ran both connections in parallel for about a month, until I got the bill from LankaBell for another month!)

Then one day, I just turned off my LankaBell connection, and used the Wireless N router I was using with it as a Wireless N access point, and all my network stability issues vanished).

Now I am completely on the SLT broadband connection. I disconnected my Lankabell connection and they even removed their equipment. Personally for me, my Internet connection is second only to the power connection in terms of need! So far SLT had not let me down. And I am keeping a mobile broadband connection as back  up in case if something goes wrong. I am happiest when I get the bills. This connection costs me only 1/3 of what I was paying before!

I switched to Windows Phone 7!

First off, my iPhone died. Well, not exactly died as in dead. It’s more like it got crippled. The phone is working. I can answer incoming calls and take out going calls as well. But, that’s about all I can do. Because the HOME button, is dead. Ok, so it’s not that the phone died, but the HOME button died.

I am not complaining. It’s an iPhone 3G (not even a 3GS). So, I think it lived its life cycle. I’m sure nothing is made nowadays to last decades. 3 years or so is probably the maximum for a consumer electronic device. Otherwise how can they sell their new models, which they churn out every year.

So in short, it was time for me to get a new phone. So I switched to WP7.

I know! Why not a new iPhone or even a droid. Well, let’s just say I liked WP7. I liked its tiles. I was never an Android fan. I think they try to copy the iOS too closely. At least it seems like it. And besides, I wanted to start writing phone apps again. And the shortest learning curve for me is for WP7.

But it wasn’t easy finding WP7 devices here in SL. The choice was like 25 Androids for 1 WP7. But I settled for the HTC Mozart. It’s a pretty neat phone. More or less the size of my old iPhone 3G. Nicer display. And I’m impressed with the features too. Both on the Phone and the OS.

Everything seems very much more responsive. Hopefully it’ll remain the same as it grows older. And Im particularly impressed with the voice recognition on the device. It’s pretty much spot on with the SMS responses. Too bad there’s no way to use it on other apps like Twitter! Time to buckle down and get to writing that app!

This seems to be a topic which has been floating around for a while.  The main argument for this seems to be the plethora of smart phones and cheaper laptops.  It seems, that the phones are getting smarter and more like computers. In fact today’s phones pack as much computing power as earlier generation computers which occupied large rooms.

Then there are the laptops and the new kid on the block ‘netbooks’. While a decade ago a laptop was an expensive piece of equipment that was the forte of CEO’s and travelling executives, nowadays they have become essential tools of almost all business executives and even high school students.

The most notable a difference between laptops and desktops, apart from the foam factor, was the price. Or more significantly the high price tag associated with laptop computers.  But lately the prices of notebooks have become more closer to the prices of desktop computers of yesteryears. I remember, when I first bought my (desktop) computer, I paid around Rs. 80,000/-. But when I bought my first laptop, I paid less than that.

And compared with the hip-ness and the mobility of a laptop, coupled with free WiFi that seems to be available everywhere, or a 3G broadband connection, the desktop seems to be fast becoming extinct.. or is it?

On a recent poll over at LifeHacker.com, where they asked their readers to name their primary computer, desktops slightly edged out laptops. Personally, I too, after working for years exclusively on laptops, am now currently inclining more towards a desktop. So the desktops are going to be around for a while, it seems, or am I from an older generation?

Compared to the price of a laptop, a desktop is still pretty much cheaper. I think nowadays there is still a price difference of about 25%. But it is not what is pushing me towards the desktop. The flexibility of upgrading, that is driving me more towards the desktop.

For me, personally, it is a project to build myself the ultimate developer rig. I want to be able to tinker and milk the computer to my needs, add more hardware progressively and bring it to the level I want over time without making a significant improvement. It is a accepted norm that desktops can be made to perform better when compared to laptops.

Then the flexibility of upgrades is what is appealing to me. I have a pretty high spec in mind for my ultimate rig. But I don’t have the cash to invest in to it once. So I want a setup where I can build it over time, while still using the rig from the first build. I cant do that with a laptop, unless I have a lot of cash.

Thirdly, I got fed up of laptop keyboards, scratch pads and small screens. I found the solution for all three, by hooking a wireless keyboard and a mouse and a LCD display as the primary display and the laptop screen as the secondary screen. But after experiencing a dual monitor setup, I want to try out a triple monitor setup. And I would like all three monitors to be the same size. I know that I can probably achieve this with the help of some third party hardware device that can be hooked to the laptop, but I’d rather try that with a desktop and use my laptop for ‘mobile’ computing, when I need it out of the house or when I want to escape the environs of my home office and feel like working near the fountain, watching the fish!

That’s from a personal front. Another possible scenario that can emerge, by playing the same factors that were thought to cause the demise of the desktop could also be its savior. The ever powerful smart phones are increasingly reducing the need of lugging around a laptop. For example, I rarely carry my laptop around nowadays for meetings unless I have to do a presentation. Most things I would need to do on a laptop at a meeting, like retrieving an email or a document can be done on my iPhone. So the scenario that can evolve is that, smart phones may replace the laptops. And for homes, with the advent of media center PC’s, desktops may be the ideal devices sitting there with your movies and music and photos, serving them to different playback devices and constantly downloading new content from the Internet.

Well, as you can see from what I have been rambling all this time, I don’t think desktops are going to be gone anytime soon.

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I upgraded my old Acer Aspire laptop to Windows 7. This is the second upgrade it went through in probably a space of three months. Earlier I upgraded it from Vista 32-bit Home Premium to Vista 64-bit Ultimate.

So far this has done gone through any serious performance tests. I am still setting it up. Installing software and tools that I need to out it to any kind of effective use.

But I am going to put it through some tests pretty soon. I have hooked up my normal use lap top to a LCD monitor so it is currently acting more like a desktop now. So maybe it is time for me to start using this (I am blogging from the Win7 machine) more as the mobile computer. Only thing that prevents that is the pretty bad battery life this machine has got.

I always wanted to put this machine to effective use rather than just keeping it collecting dust as a backup machine. I think this still has a good two to three years of life left in this.

When I setup Vista 64-bit on this earlier I was going to use it to sharpen my RoR skills on it. I wanted to do something effective with RoR and was planning on using this as my non-MS development tools machine. But with me getting swamped with work, RoR was a non starter.

But with Min7, I also installed VS2010 Beta 2. So at least this time I will use this to test drive VS2010 and to start migrating some of the projects to VS2010. So hopefully, this time this machine will be used more frequently and will see me reaping performance out of it.

I am not a hacker. It is not something that appeals to me. I do not think I have got the patience or the motivation to keep hacking on something. I dont attempt to hack anything unless it is the last resource. And usually, I attempt to hack if the price for the original is way beyond my budget or if it is not available in its original form in Sri Lanka. Usually when you are trying to work with limited resources you are forced to hack out a few things. In the past few months I had to resort to hacking as I decided to work my hacking skills rather than spending money. And both these times I was hacking to use Apple tools.

The first instance was when I created a Hackintosh using my old desktop computer. I wanted to try out my hand at iPhone apps and was disspointed to learn that you can develop iPhone apps only on a Mac. Therefore I went on to create a hackintosh. But since then, I have been too busy with other projects and never got around to developing that iPhone app.

This  time around it was the iPhone. There are iPhone that are being sold in Sri Lanka but they are rather expensive. Actually I have a price range that I am comfortable paying for a phone. But the price for an iPhone in Sri Lanka is way above that price range. Therefore I resorted to buy a used iPhone from eBay through my SIL in UK. The phone I bought came with a Turbo SIM but unfortunately it had been upgraded to the latest iPhone OS version 2.2.1 with a baseband of 2.30, which made the turbo SIM useless. This basically made the iPhone to become an iPod which was not something I was ready to accept.

But with the help of excellent technical resources available on the Internet I managed to hack the phone; jailbreak it and also unlock it using software. It is currently running the latest iPhone OS with a baseband (modem software) version which is one version older than the latest. This shows the the power of the Internet. A complete non Apple Nerd, can basically jailbreak an iPhone on his own by Googling!

Oh and I found Bing (the latest search engine by MS) to be better in giving relevant results for search terms than Google. More on that later.

If anyone wants to know the exact steps on hacking the iPhone, let me know. I will write a post with what I did exactly. The simple reason for me not listing them here is because none of them are my original discoveries. I was just following instructions available on various discussion groups, blogs and forums. It should not be an issue for any one to find this information and at the same time they tend to slightly differ based on the phone model and the current software version you are running.

The mobile platform war seems to be heating up. So far, the dominant player was Symbian. But there are quite a few challengers to Symbians dominance. MS’s Windows Mobile is now a force to be reckon with. They are getting quite a good market share on the higher end smartphone segment.

Google is trying to grab their share of the pie with Open Handset Alliance and Android. There is LiMo, which is challenging Google and the established rest of established players as well. Then there is Apple with its phenomenal iPhone.

There in lies my problem. For quite sometime I have been convinced that mobiles are the future. I mean even if you just compare the numbers, there are far too many mobiles than computers. And apparently around 14 mobiles are sold in the world every minute. That means its growing.

The carriers also are now concentrating more on revenue from data and hence are promoting applications that will entice users to use more and more mobile applications. So if you are into software and are looking for new ideas, then mobiles are the way to go.

Most of the mobile platforms that are in use today are either proprietary or are Symbian based. Which makes my .NETCF skills more of a niche. Therefore I kind of figured that if I ever seriously consider developing a mobile application that has mass market appeal, I need to master Symbian (as of now). But with the emergence of all these new mobile platforms, is it the way to go?

What I would really like to see is MS making their WM platform open source, and then it becoming the defacto standard. That will push my .NETCF skills from being niche to mainstream. But that seems very unlikely, specially it is highly unlikely that they will make their OS open-source and secondly, even if they did….

But one thing is certain. I need to brush up my Java skills! Be it Android, Symbian or Limo, the common thing they share is the ability to write programs for them using Java! Man how I wish it was C# instead!

Since I got my hands on a Blackberry Curve yesterday, I was looking for ways to setting it up. The initial tasks included, getting my phone book into it. ALl my attempts to transfer my contacts from my Fujitsu Siemens Pocket Loox 830 through Bluetooth failed as the two devices could not identify each others services. The pairing worked fine but no transfers were done.

Then the next option was to use the software that came with my Blackberry, the Desktop Software. The CD had version 4.2.2 in it and all my attempts to install it, even after disabling UAC failed with a “Failed to Run VBScript custom actions” error message (or something like that).

Then browsing through I figured out that the error could be with the vbScript on my Vista machine and had not so much to do with the Blackberry software. So the suggested solutions were to register vbscript DLL. To do that:

  1. Locate VBScript.dll file on your machine. Mine was in Windows/System32 folder
  2. To to All Programs -> Accessories -> Command Prompt, right click on it and chose “Run As Administrator”
  3. Then navigate to the folder where the VBScript.dll file is residing (using cd commands)
  4. Run the following command: regsvr32 vbscript.dll

If your installation goes without a hitch you’ll get an error message saying that it was successfully registered.

Now run your Blackberry Desktop software. It should run without a hitch. Just make sure that UAC is turned off. I know Vista means to do good with UAC, but it seems to be messing with a lot of software out there. So I keep that permanently switched off, unless I am on a public WiFi hotspot.

I have been busy and it’s not just been my work! I joined an open source project on codeplex. I had this idea to create an application that would sync a Google calendar with a Pocket PC’s Outlook Calendar. Then I was searching around to see whether there were similar applications around and came across GMobileSync which was an open source project on http://www.codeplex.com.

I requested the project’s coordinator to accept me as a developer and I was accepted. Then I took it upon me to fix a few of the bugs that were reported on the bug list. Then Eric, who is the creator of GMobileSync, told me that if I fixed two way sync, which is the most requested feature I will become the ‘hero’ of the GMobileSync world! That prompted me to put in my free-time towards fixing this issue / feature and last weekend, I managed to fix that. I made a release to codeplex and Eric has since released it to about 500 beta testers. And now I am awaiting for beta test results and keeping my fingers crossed that there wont be any bugs!

Working on an open source project has been pretty exiting. For one Open Source projects will give you the largest audience for your applications. Already the release I did has had 88 downloads for the space of one week. All this time the release was not even public. It was the beta testers who were invited to download and test. Hopefully the number will go up once the release becomes public.

GMobileSync has had about 40,000 downloads. Even if 10% were actively using the application, then that would mean 4000 people. You know it feels good to have an application where there is some little contribution of yours, being used by so many people. The difference in the open source world is that people will be appreciative about your work, unlike in commercial software. In commercial software, since they pay for the software, they tend not to show their appreciation!

If you had been looking for a tool that would sync your Google Calendar with your Windows Mobile device, then give GMobileSync 1.3.5 a try! And feel free to let us know your ideas for improvements or bugs!

Finally, thanks to Eric for accepting me into the project and letting me contribute. And to Lushi for tolerating my coding sessions that went into late in to the night 🙂

Here is something I just discovered on Vista. I find this pretty big brotherly type of an acting, for a change, from Google.

When you install Google Toolbar on IE on Vista, Google changes the default search provider from Live Search to Google. Now the funny part is I can’t recall the installation ever asking em whether I wanted to change this setting.

Upon noticing this, I wanted to change the default search setting on IE back to Live Search, as there is a search box on the Google toolbar itself, and I wanted to have the option to do searches on both search engines, without having to go to their sites. This is where the Google arrogance comes into play.

Although, I go to Change Search Defaults and set Live Search as my default, it does NOT get changed. Google tries to be a big brother and just loads a small icon to the notifications area on the task bar. This icon just gets loaded and never even bothers to give an indication / notification as to why it got loaded. When you click on it it gives a message like, ‘ somebody wants to change away from Google as your search provider blah blah’ So to change it you have to allow it do happen from within this option.

I am a great fan of Google’s products. But I really don’t like it when they think they know what is best for it. It was them who went to legislators complaining, that MS is making it difficult for users to switch Search Providers. But from this experience, I think they too are trying to make is as difficult as possible for users to switch away from Google.

Ironic!

Have you heard of Jaxtr? Well now you have! It’s so cool. It allows anyone to call a registered users’ phone. It is a great way to receive calls on your phone, for free. Jaxtr gives you 160 Jax (that’s Jaxtr currency) free when you join and about another 100 a month.

The cool thing about Jaxtr is, it not only allows you to receive calls, but it also keeps your number free. Therefore, it is completely safe to post the Jaxtr widget on your blog or your web site. Also, you can set a setting that only allows the people you approve to call you via Jaxtr.

Thank you Manjula for sending me an invitation to Jaxtr. I know, I haven’t called you yet. But I will pretty soon.

Everybody else, check out Jaxtr

We are having Internet connectivity problems at work these days. Due to lightning, our network equipment has got damaged and hence we are on a very slow Internet connection.

This slow connection made me realize how dependant I have become on the Internet. Without a speedy Internet connection, I am seriously handicapped. Come to think of it, it is not just Internet that I have come to be dependent on. It is overall connectivity that I have come to depend upon.

I feel seriously lost if I step out of the house without my cell phone. It has become a part of my lifestyle so much I feel insecure without it. More than the incoming calls, I need it in case of an emergency. Not that I have managed to come out of many emergencies thanks to my cell phone. I wonder how my mother does without one.

The Internet too is becoming second nature. If I don’t check my mail for a day, I feel as if something is a miss. It is not that I am expecting anything on the mail. Just that I need to be on top of my mails. I hate to come to my mail box with mails that are several days old and the total running into a few hundred.

There’s another side to emails. You feel a strange loneliness when you haven’t got any mail for a day. But thanks my clients there’s hardly a day that goes without me getting a mail with some lame and sometimes stupid complaint.

What would it be like to spend a week without emails and your cell phone. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to do that while I’m on the job. I am obliged to answer my cell phone as it is a company phone and if I don’t answer my mail within the day I am bound to end up with a few more complaining about the lack of a response.

So has technology made our lives easier or has it made us more connected and tied down and made us slaves to the technology? Can we go home after work and just forget about work? We can’t. If something comes up, we are bound to get contacted over our cell phones. We will have to answer our urgent emails from home. I even work from home over the week ends, responding to client queries and resolving issues.

I think technology has blurred the line between work and private time. We can no longer have a truly private time away from work. If something comes up, by the mere fact that we are connected we will have to respond. So who gets affected? It is our families and the relationships that get affected.

I think we lack a certain level of discipline. Just because we are connected we should not jump to work while you are at home. I had a client once in Singapore who had clearly drawn a line between work time and private time. If you contacted him during off office time even for a small clarification, he would politely tell you that he would answer the query when he gets to work. I think it is a worthwhile discipline or a practice that you should develop, unless of course you are a workaholic.

The ideal Scenario

The ideal scenario out of this connectedness would be an ability to work from home. To have the ability to spend more time at home but still get work done. To be able to remotely work from home. But our mind set and the culture has not come to that stage where our physical presence is not required at work. I think we have not got used to working in that fashion.

But the good news is we are getting there fast. I have seen geographically dispersed project teams working on projects using collaboration tools and thier productivity is no less than them being on the same room.

Taking time off 

I want to take my annual leave for at least 10 days at a stretch and be away from my emails and cell phone during that time. I will dedicate all my time to spend with my family and maybe do some reading. That will be some holiday.

Now if I can sort things that are pending so I can actually go on that holiday…

 

I had an idea to create a personalized mp3 player for my Pocket PC. And ever since I had this idea I was searching for a library rhat would play an mp3 file on Pocket PC 2003. But suprisingly, I found out that there is no native support for playing mp3 files on .NETCF. There is support for mp3 by using 3rd party libraries such as FMOD.

Update: I came across the Windows Media Player SDK. Hopefully it will have some support for playing MP3, WMA files onteh Pocket PC.

Since I acquired a digital camera, I was getting a lot more pictures than I thought I would and was increasingly finding these pictures to be residing on my computer or burned to CD’s. Though I had browsed on Flickr I was not seriously considering an online photo sharing option till very recently.

I guess digital camera’s have transformed the way people communicate and record the events in their lives. Earlier, you would take a few carefully thought pictures, and then develop and print them and share them with those who visit you. not you capture the moment freely as digicams can take a whole lot of more pictures and most of the time, you don’t bother printing them. you just mail them to the people you want to share them with!

So I was looking around for an easier way to share the pictures rather than sending them across in emails and sharing them in instant chat sessions. But what I found was that most of the free services are pretty much basic and limiting. But in any case I thought of recording what my little research yielded:

Filckr – By far seems to be the favourite. But I found the limitation on the free service, well very much a limitation. Photo uploading seems to be taking ages and when I upload a few from my 7.1 MP camera, my monthly bandwidth quota is over!

Snapfish – Seems to be my best bet so far! I have not come across any storage or space limitation yet. Uploading is pretty intuitive. The only drawback seems to be in the urls they assign to albums.

PicasaWeb – I uninstalled the last Picasa version I had cos I could not see much use for that. But I installed the latest version when I read about the Picasa web. The most intuitive program and accompanying service I came across. But why am I not surprised? Guess we have come to expect such ease of usability from Google. the only hindrance is the 250 MB space limit Google has imposed on the free service. The only thing I don’t get though, when they give over 2 Gb free on the mail account, why cant they at least give that much on the Picasa account? At least allow us to share our mail box space with the Picasa web?

MS Live Spaces – Just created an account when I realized I could use the space to upload photos. Won’t be blogging there though. Will share more as I start to use it.

Webshots –  Had used this earlier. Seemed like a pretty good service apart from the commercials that they try to push to you. Should start using this more!

That’s about my experience with online photo sharing for the time being. I would like to hear some comments from those who are experts on these things. As I said in the beginning, i am pretty new to this whole thing.

Audiobooks

Well I have taken my reading habit to a new level, with the help of Audio Books. Now I listen, instead of reading. And still trying to come to terms with this change.

I am not entirely sure whether I will adopt audio books instead of paper books or PDF’s. One thing I like about them is that they are less demanding on the effort required to read. And it requires less physical action, you just plug the earphones and listen. And it gives me a chance to put my PDA to better use.

But this same lack of involvement somewhat makes audio books less engaging than reading a book. When you read a book, your eyes are on the book. This helps me concentrate more on what I am reading. But when I am listening to an audio book, my eyes are left to wander, and this causes more distractions. It is not as if you are listening to someone in person. There is no eye contact with the material. I think, if you need to study, still reading will be a better bet due to the fact that it is more engaging.

But, audio books allows you to read (listen) faster. I am able to go through a book at a much faster rate. But what I need to see is whether the rate of retention is more or less than reading. But it could also be sue to the fact that I am not that used to audio books. My learning has predominantly come from reading. Hence listening to audio books requires somewhat of a paradigm shift in the way that I am used to read. Maybe if I can make this transition effectively, then I think audio books will allow me to read more!

Staying on the same topic of travelling, these gadgets will help you fight your boredom or help you get out of a tricky situation.

Personally I think that some of the devices are merged and provide multiple functionality. In my case my PDA doubles up as my MP3 player and also the camera. But I prefer to use a PDA instead of a smartphone, because of the size considerations. Also, I use the PDA to detect WiFi hotspots, so I don't need a WiFi detector.

All in all a good story to run through. Check out The top 10 gadgets for business travellers.

EDIT: Oops, seems I have missed out on including the link. It's there now! 

Now this is a cool idea, Portable Apps! I guess you can call it the next revolution. Although the proponents have not labeled it revolutionary, I personally think it is. Or, the next big idea after the Internet!

Why I say it is the next best thing after the Internet is, if Internet propelled mobile computing to the next level and called fuelled the notion 'the network is the computer', by having web based applications that allowed people to work from anywhere by logging on to the Internet, this will enable us to work, even without the connection, from anywhere in the world!

I like the idea of carrying my web browser with all my bookmarks, my calender with all my appointments (I wont need to keep syncing my PDA between my home and work computers), carrying my virus guard with me (again, I wont have to upgrade virus guards at work and at home), etc. This is very cool!

Just imagine the possibilities, you wont be dependant on the computer or the connection to the Internet anymore! It'll be like carrying your laptop in your pocket! I know what I am talking about will take time to realize, but at least, seems we are heading at the right direction.

Man, I am hooked on to this idea!