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Friday, October 24, 2008

Wishing you all a very Happy Diwali

Hi Folks,

Wish you and your family members a very Happy and Prosperous Diwali!


Diwali : Is also known as the Festival of Lights - most Indian homes are decked with lights and lamps for this festival. The lights or lamps signify victory of good over the evil within every human being. It is a very popular festival in India and is both celebrated religiously (by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs) and also a major cultural festival for the whole of India.

Diwali is usually celebrated on the first day of the lunar month called Kartika, which comes in the month of October or November.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

How to change the default Windows 2008 Login Screen?

Recently, I have been receiving many mails from people asking me how they could change the default Windows 2008 Login Screen to have the username / password screen or the one similar to Windows 2003 Server.

Well, I have a surprise - The default login screen in Windows 2008 can be changed by following the same procedure found here >> How to change the default Vista Logon Screen? - though it was originally intended for Windows Vista, but a few folks tested this out on a Windows 2008 Box and found it to work perfectly as expected.

Here are the screenshots below:

Click on Screenshot to Enlarge

Before applying the steps:

After applying the steps:

Breaking News : Microsoft to release an urgent patch for all Windows Versions today

I just now received an e-mail from Microsoft informing that an urgent patch for all versions of Windows will be released today at about 17:00hrs GMT. This seems to be a very Critical Patch since it has been released with so much of an urgency. Also, note that this is an out-of-band security patch (not one that is released as per schedule).

It's very good to see Microsoft act on this vulnerability so quick. I haven't seen something like that from long time now. Good Start Microsoft!!

The update has got a severity level 'CRITICAL' for Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows 2003 Server - but has severity 'IMPORTANT' for Vista and Windows 2008.

You can read the security bulletin here.

How to easily Install Ubuntu 8.10 in a USB/Flash drive from the Live CD

It's been quite sometime since I have visited the world of Linux. So here's a small tutorial I have pieced together to help you get started on having a Ubuntu Linux installion right on your USB/Pen Drive. This tutorial is very simple and lucid - the end of which it will enable the reader to install Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) into a USB flash drive / pen drive. It's basically having a Live CD installation in a USB drive.

I have also gone a step further to harness the the persistence or casper persistent feature that allows you to automatically save changes back to the thumb drive as you work, and then restore those saved changes upon subsequent boots - that's gonna be very useful for people on the move or people who change systems often.

Please Note that the final version of Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) will only be released on October 30th but you can download the beta version right now which is pretty close to the final version.

Before we get started, here are the list of things you will need to make an Ubuntu 8.10 USB installation:
  • A working CD Drive and ofcourse - an Ubuntu 8.10 CD (in a moment I'll let you know how you can get a Ubuntu CD off the internet for free)
  • An established internet connection - I would prefer a broadband one.
  • and the Most Important - 2GB or larger USB flash drive (2GB+ if you want some special script to be installed too).

Here's how you can create an Ubuntu 8.10 flash drive automatically, without much hassles.
With this method, you must use a completely free 2GB or larger usb drive - anything lesser will cause problems in later stages.
  • Now go ahead and download the latest Ubuntu 8.10 ISO and burn it to a CD.
  • Next, restart your computer and boot from the Live CD you have created.
  • Insert the 2GB+ USB flash drive.
  • Open a terminal window and type the following into the terminal window:
    wget pendrivelinux.com/downloads/u810/u810.sh
    chmod +x u810.sh && sh u810.sh
  • From here on, just follow the onscreen instructions - that'll be a breeze (trust me).
  • Once you have the complete installation of the script - reboot your computer and set your BIOS or boot menu to boot from the USB device.
  • Volla - You now have a working Live Installation of Ubuntu Linux on a Pen Drive.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

India Catapults to the Moon with the Successful launch of the Moon Mission

With text book precision, India's first lunar spacecraft(Chandrayaan) was launched from the India's Satish Dhawan Space Centre (spaceport) early Wednesday, catapulting India into the select club that have sent missions to the moon, after the US, former Soviet Union, European Space Agency, China and Japan.

Click on Image to Enlarge

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV C11) carrying Chandrayaan, lifted off from the second launchpad with the legendary orange plume breaking through the scudding cloud cover at 6:22 hrs today - exactly on schedule. The PSLV C11 which stood at 44-metre-tall and weighing over 316-tonnes moved into its designated orbit within minutes of launch and also sling Chandrayaan into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

Most likely on 8th November, Chandrayaan will fire the satellite's onboard liquid apogee motor (LAM) to take it from the GTO to the lunar orbit - which is roughly 387,000 kms away from earth. Once the 1,380 kg Chandrayaan enters closer to the moon its speed will be drastically reduced to enable the gravity of the moon to capture it into an elliptical orbit around the moon.

Once in moon's orbit, Chandrayaan will drop off its much anticipated Moon Impact Probe (MIP) which carries an Indian flag, among many other scientific instruments. The spacecraft will simultaneously activate its on-board cameras and other experimental instruments.

Chandrayaan is slated to orbit the moon for two years. It also carries 11 experimental payloads, 5 Indian, 3 from the European Space Agency , 2 from the US and 1 from Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

The Indian payload has a special terrain mapping camera (TMC). It will mainly be used to map the lunar topography, capturing black and white 3-D images. The camera has the capability to image a 20 km-wide strip of lunar surface from as close as five metres. It will also use a high resolution remote sensing camera in the visible, near infrared, microwave and X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum to map the moon. This will greatly enable the Indian scientists to prepare a 3-D atlas of lunar surface and help map it chemically.

It also caries another fantastic piece of Indian payload called the Hyperspectral Imager (HySI). This is yet another camera which is designed to obtain data for mapping minerals on the lunar surface as well as for understanding the mineralogical composition its interior.

Chandrayaan also has an onboard lunar laser ranging instrument(LRRI) which will provide data for determining the accurate altitude of Chandrayaan-1 above the lunar surface. Data from LLRI will also enable the scientists to understand the internal structure of the moon and the way large surface features of the moon have changed with time.

Chandrayaan-1 will also use a High Energy X-ray Spectrometer (HEX) to carry out the first spectral studies of 'hard' X-ray energies using good energy resolution detectors. HEX is designed to help explore the possibility of identifying polar regions covered by thick water-ice deposits as well as in identifying regions of high uranium and thorium concentrations.

Let's wish the scientists all the very best for the entire mission at hand!! , truly indeed a small step for man but a gaint leap for mankind!

Click on Image to Enlarge

Friday, October 17, 2008

What are NetBooks and NetTops really? - Demystified

Netbooks and Nettops are a a new category of simple and very much affordable computers(much like notebooks) for the Internet. Netbooks and Nettops offer both emerging and mature markets an easy-to-use device with simple interfaces and targeted performance for a good online experience.

The best thing is that Netbooks are very rugged and extremely compact in design, and offer the freedom and flexibility of wireless connectivity whereas nettops offer an affordable at-home experience on a reliable computing device.

As far as I know both these are simply Made for the Internet, Netbooks and Nettops are an affordable option for education, photo and video viewing, social networking, voice over IP, e-mail, messaging, browsing and other Internet activities as well as a whole host of basic applications.

But at the same time, Netbooks are not very powerful, and often do not have much storage space unless - you carry loads of removeable storage. I personally think they are way too small and also they do not have a very powerful processor or much of RAM. But again, if you are a Linux or basic XP user - you don't have to worry much about the RAM useable that will remain. The current offerings in the market usually offer Linux and a few variants offer Basic XP - which I feel is perfect. I know of some people who have personally considered them for the simple fact that they come with Linux.

Most NetBooks(atleast the ones currently in market) have a 7' inch diplay and sport a Intel ATOM processor with about 256MB RAM and 1-10GB of Hard Disk space. What I personally feel is that at present netbooks aren’t really touted as a complete replacement for most notebook users. These are extremely niche machines that are really only useful for those with specific needs(maybe my pal who does a lot of embedded coding on Linux). It also serves very well for those users that aren’t aware or simply not bothered by these machine’s limitations. But I suppose that one day they may become ready for business use, but unless you have a jet flying employee who travels a lot or someone who always has to have the neatest new gadget, you may be better wait for more features and add-ons.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Prices in India for the New Apple MacBooks

The prices of the new Apple MacBooks have been released in India too. Though the machines themselves will be released in India only later this month - for those who can't wait the temptation and also arrange finances to bring home some of the costly - mean looking - cosmetic machines , here we have a run down of the prices announced(unofficially for the moment) below:

The two MacBook 13.3' inch laptops with Core 2 Duo processors will be priced as follows:
  • MacBook MB466ZP/A (This has a 13.3' display with the Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz processor) - Price in India - Rs. 79,700 (USD $1600 approx)
  • MacBook MB467ZP/A (This is a smarter one with the same 13.3 ' display but sports an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz processor) - Price in India - Rs. 96,500 (USD $2000 approx)
Next we have the hyped MacBook Air, which I personally feel is only for creating style statements(sorry if I offend someone here):
  • MacBook Air MB543ZP/A ( This sports a 13.3' display with the Intel Core 2 Duo 1.6 GHz processor) - Price in India - Rs. 1,07,000 (USD $2200 approx)
  • MacBook Air MB940ZP/A (Again having a 13.3' display but has an Intel Core 2 Duo 1.86 GHz processor) - Price in India - Rs. 1,49,000 (USD $3000 approx)
Finally, the much sought after 15.4' display machines:
  • MacBook MB470LL/A (This has the huge and glossy 15.4' display and comes equipped with an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz processor) - Price in India - Rs. 1,19,600 (USD $2500 approx)
  • MacBook MB471LL/A (Again the same 15.4' glossy display but a much better Intel Core 2 Duo 2.53GHz processor) - Price in India - Rs. 1,49,000 (USD $3000 approx)

As far as I see it, the prices seem to be much on the higher end. But Mac still has it's own set of loyals who will swear by it. Let's see how the sales of these yet to be released machines will be - given that more and more Indian's travel abroad nowadays.

Prices calculated at 1 U.S. dollar = 48.6712742 Indian rupees

Friday, October 10, 2008

Surfing the internet via USB Dongles :: Demystified

Did you know that you could surf the World Wide Web a.k.a. internet using a small usb device called a Dongle? Most of us still associate an internet connection to be fast and reliable only when we have a physical wire that connects to our PC / Laptops (usually via a router / modem). This assumption or myth is especially true when we think of a broadband experience.

But, I would like to demystify that assumption of yours today. Well, you could use a very small device like the one featured in the graphic above - called a usb dongle to surf the internet. The usb can provide you speeds that one usually can compare broadband too. Technology has come a long way from the dial-up internet connections that I used to use half a decade ago to the advent of mobile internet to broadband via cable and now we have broadband via a dongle.

A usb dongle is usually the size of a pen drive and packs in a internal antenna and the DSP chip in a very small package. Once connected to the PC/Laptop - you can be up and surfing the internet in a few minutes or even seconds. The usb dongle internet device has become quite popular with the laptop excutives on the move and also with general laptop users.

How to fix the problem with IE :: Allows only to save image in .bmp format?

Today I was confronted with a strange issue with my Internet Explorer (IE) - it wouldn't let me save any image in a format other than the good old bmp. Even though I had images in the format of gif or jpg, yet I would only have the option to save the image in .bmp format.

Click to Enlarge

I did some researching around and found out that the problem was that the IE cache would have got full and this results in this problem. Here are the simple steps to fix this problem and also erase all the contents in your IE cache easily.
  • Close all instances of your IE browser, except for one.
  • Then, go to Tools -> Internet Options -> Browsing History -> Settings -> View Files.
  • Select all of the files here and delete them manually.
  • Now add \Content.IE5 to the end of the path(displayed on the address bar from the screen where you deleted the files).
  • On doing this if it didn't show you atleast 4 folders - then turn on hidden folders in Windows Explorer. (Tools -> Folder Options -> View -> Show hidden files and folders) Once the four folders are showing, go into each one of them and delete everything manually, too.
That's it. Now close all instances of your browser and then start your browser - the problem must be fixed now.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Running Windows 7 MileStone1 on a Pentium III 500MHz :: Exclusive Screenshots

The Microsoft team keeps impressing us all with each release of the much famed Windows Platform. But I guess they have gone many steps ahead with the upcoming release of Windows 7 (The next version of Windows that will be launched sometime in end 2009 / 2010 - Vista's heir).

Well, with the Windows Vista many of us had to upgrade our processors, RAM, Graphics Card, Hard Disks, DVD Drives, etc - this list became a huge nightmare to many who wanted to upgrade to a new version of Windows but didn't want to spend so much on new hardware.

Seems like the engineers at Microsoft over-heard us all - the newly released beta of the Windows 7 Milestone 1 runs on a Intel Pentium III processor with a single 500Mhz core - can you really believe this? Also, it runs perfectly on a mere 512MB RAM!! Vista's hardware requirements are almost double of this.

Below are some exclusive screenshots of Windows 7 MileStone1 running on a Pentium III 500MHz - 512MB machine.

Click on ScreenShot to Enlarge

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

How to easily Remove the Virus / Spyware - Anti-virus XP 2008 from your system without using any Anti-Virus Softwares

Recently, one of our systems got attacked by a rather nasty Virus / Spyware called by a rather unusual name "Anti-virus XP 2008" sometimes also comes with the other names as XP Antivirus 2009 and variations of those names like WinFixer, WinIFixer, and Zlob. Below are simple steps on how you can remove this without installing an Anti-Virus.

First you need to stop the program from loading on startup. This is how you can stop it:
  • Goto Start > run 
  • Then Type msconfig and hit enter
  • In the resulting screen, goto Startup tab
  • Uncheck lphc35dj0e1an
  • Uncheck rhc75dj0e1an
  • Click apply, then ok
  • Finally, Restart the computer

Then you need to delete the main files that this Malware program uses. 
So, go ahead and Delete the following files:
  • C:\windows\system32\lphc35dj0e1an.exe
Also, Delete the following folder and all contents:
  • C:\program files\rhc75dj0e1an

This should remove the program from your system but you probably still have a warning message displayed as your wallpaper in Windows and the virus removed the ability to change the wallpaper or your desktop settings.

To restore the ability to change your desktop settings and select a different wallpaper and screen saver do the following:
  • Click Start then run 
  • Then type Gpedit.msc
  • Now navigate to User configuration > Administrative Templates > Control Panel > Display
  • Finally, Right click on Remove Display in Control Panel
  • Click on Properties and then select as Disabled

Do the same steps to change the following attributes to disabled too:
  • Hide Desktop Tab
  • Prevent changing wallpaper
  • Hide Apperance and Themes tab
  • Hide Settings tab
  • Hide Screen Saver tab

You should now be able to use your computer normally and change the wallpaper to something other than the warning message Antivirus XP 2008 had actually set it to.

Who really Owns Kashmir ? An introspection

Before I start this article, let me tell you that this is indeed "The Most Authoritative Technology Blog" and I speak all about the fascinating technologies that I come across and things that simplify our lives. Once in a while, I do post articles on things that aren't anyway related to technology - so this one happens to be one of them. Secondly, I am no politico-influenced geek , so the things I have written below must not be mis-understood to be in favor of a particular geography or otherwise.

So, you may thing why Jason is writing all this huge disclaimer before a post - well, as you know our Blog family of readers here has been steadily growing and I have been very fortunate to make good friends from across the globe. At times an article I may post may be taken in a wrong sense by a few of my beloved readers.

This morning I was jostled by an e-mail from my good friend and our long time blog reader Dr. Divaker. It was an excerpt from a very ingenious speech given by an Indian representative in the recent United Nations Assembly. It serves as a very good example on how one can make the staunchest of the politicos think otherwise and also bring smiles to the world community (which currently seems a bit difficult given the geo-political equations and events that occur).

The Indian representative begins his speech as follows: 
Before beginning my talk I want to tell you something about Rishi Kashyap of Kashmir, after whom Kashmir is named.

When Rishi Kashyap struck a rock and it brought forth water, he thought, 'What a good opportunity to have a bath.'

He removed his clothes, put them aside on the rock and entered the water.

When he got out and wanted to dress, his clothes had vanished. A Pakistani had stolen them.

The Pakistani representatives jumped up furiously. But then in support of Pakistan, he shouted, 'What are you talking about? The Pakistanis weren't there then.'

The Indian representative smiled and said, 'And now that we have made that clear, I will begin my speech.'

The above speech should serve as an inspiration for people who stay on both sides of the border. As you all know, India and Pakistan are shell locked in a fiery battle(that has even resulted in a few wars / war like situations) over the region of Kashmir. But at the heart of it all, it is the common man who finds a livelihood in this region that suffers.

So, does the above lines say that Pakistan was not formed when Kashmir was formed? Well, certainly not - the people of Pakistan were always there - under a nation of Greater India or maybe even the early civilizations. Well, both the nations must bury the hatchet behind and progress to develop the region to serve as a role model for the rest of the world.

Hope I wasn't politicing or hurting anybody's feelings - if so, I apologize.