Last week, I watched Vanity Fair when I was back home for my week off. And somehow this film has increased my interest in learning about 19th century England.  I was reading Kenfollet’s  “A dangerous fortune” which also had a story line in the same age as that of the film.Perhaps the interest in the book also cascaded into the movie as I watched it. So what is the reason behind the sudden interest?

Ken follet’s book seemed to be a boredom in the beginning,may be because the context of the story was completely referring to the previous century. But as the story progressed, I came through many references of places such as Soho and MayFair which in the modern-day are very famous for a number of reasons and somehow I was well aware of those places. So does this mean that knowledge about a certain thing would make a boring story into an interesting one? I cannot say – perhaps this is human tendency. (Other reasons would be how Britain portrays these places in various programs like  “The apprentince” and the lot).

While we always have to imagine how things would be like if a story only had to be real, my experience must be a coincidence. Watching the movie made me to get back to the book and finish it for good. Mira Nair’s  adaption of the original Novel was fantastic.Every single shot in the movie looked so authentic.I could hardly believe that it was directed by someone from India. But again it’s Mira Nair! The Costumes,the music and the screenplay would want me to go back in time. And to my amusement –  there was an essence of  India in one form or the other – occasionally throughout the film.

Becksharp shaking  her hips on an  Arabic number in a british film seemed un fitting ,the ending with a traditional “aadab” was a cliche .Watching it for the first time – I did not understand the underlying plot but after reading wikipedia, I watched it again and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Reese Witherspoon giving an aadaab

Interest in western civilizations is not something new to Indians,since our grand fathers and great grand fathers have lived most of their lives under the british Raj,they keep sharing about the freedom moment and to a greater extent how things were running back then. My Grandmother once told me how they were told to sing a song which should praise  queen Vicotria while she was on a visit to India. And as with the Elizabeth Trilogy where shekhar kapoor has made Indians proud,Meera Nair has left no stone unturned. The rajasthani folk song in the end was a pleasant surprise but again it truly made sense to the situation where BeckySharp had undergone so many difficulties and succeeded in her life at last.Next one on my list – Pride and Prejudice!

Almost a year ago,I delved into the world of Andorid . As time progressed, I tried to do what most people would have done – to install a custom ROM which would undoubtedly run faster and also provide a better experience than the factory version of froyo on my phone. But that was not satisfying my quest-so to learn more about this customized experience ,my brain would say there is a lot more to check out so go on!

At first the thought of rooting my phone and installing it with a custom rom was to get the best of the reigning version .But as time passed and newer versions started rolling from the stables of  Cynogenmod, I would  crave to get it  on my tiny Xperia X10 minipro. I knew that the tech specs of the phone would not satisfy the  requirements of  newer releases of Android,but thanks to people like nAa (No body at all)  and a customised version of Cynogen, things would happen

. And so when GingerBird could not satisfy my quench, I decided to jump  the ICS ship which was a major release and required quite an amount of memory power for itself. nAa’s custom kernels once again were a blessing in disguise and helped me to install an ICS version on my X10 mini pro! No wonder a Jelly bean version is in the makes already.All of this has been possible due to all those developers who are sparing their time to  help out people to get the best of the Android experience and to all those people who risk loosing their phones during the testing process but still volunteer for things to move on

ICS lock screen

After using a custom ICS rom on my tiny phone,I realized that it was not easy to go along with my daily tasks as the phone was struggling at times to run some apps like Instagram and Youtube. So there was no point in  sticking to something if I could not enjoy the experience that the phone meant for . By then I had got used to flashing and installing firmwares on my particular model so CM7 as it was called was my only option.

No phone should be without Titanium backup

How ever,I did go through some interesting stuff at the XDA forums – posts explaining how to change the UI and the look of a Gingerbird into ICS or Jellybean. These procedures like the rest were risky and would have resulted in soft bricking my phone and they did!I would just keep my fingers crossed hoping that everything would just go fine… The Android tinkering continues…

Waiting for the downpour

They clouds are playing hide and seek for the past couple of  days,the monsoons were supposed to hit the shore last week but something is causing them to move back.For the past two days I’ve seen dark could hovering over the heavens both in my hometown and in Hyderabad. Hopefully things will be better once the monsoon picks up its pace this week.It was supposed to be day of heavy downpour yesterday here in my native place,but nothing has happened as of now.

One of the hottest days in Summer

All this anticipation is due to the scorching summer temperatures which I’ve never seen before. I never imagined having to face 43 C of heat at 7 in the evening. Imagine that! . While I could escape the heat during  my office hours for 4 days a week, the other 3 days had to spent in the confines of  my bedroom in my home, since that was the only place we had an AC unit  running. And boy it was running for almost the entire day! . Nothing could prepare us for the worst temperatures and  I agree with my mom to a certain extent to have brought the AC unit for a good bargain during last year.

Dark Clouds in Hyderabad – A promising sign

There were stark differences in the way which I faced the wrath of the summer this year – or I did  observed the changes for the first time between the two places where I shuttle now.while my hometown Warangal has always been known to have some of the highest temperatures in India,things would not even get better until 12 in the midnight.One day I checked the current temperature at 10.45 and found that it was hovering around 39 C! That for me was un-imaginable since things in Hyderabad was very different. I don’t know how things work out but the evenings would become cool. This was an unusual phenomenon for me. My mom says that since Hyderabad is situated at the higher altitude there were chances for it to cool down much cooler.

Monsoon clouds moving towards Warangal

For now things seem to be building up,I am eagerly waiting for the monsoons to start,A trip to Bangalore is also on the cards since this would be the best time to visit that place.There will be un-expected burst of rain in Bangalore but that is when the monsoon fun begins!

I started to tinker around the so-called “custom roms” in the Android ecosystem when I realized that,I could not upgrade my Sony Xperia to the latest and greatest which Google would provide.So I was wondering how I could get over with this frustration of mine.Much to my delight I was not the only person who was facing the issue.A friend of mine from a community in which I participate suggested that I should check the  awesome things at the xda developers. By that time I had already heard about them – when they made the news for running Android on the HP  Touchslate.

Custom Rom information on my phone

So I got interested in those folks and the work they do only when I had a the frustration which other people out there faced.As the saying goes,better late than never – I dived into the vast forums at the xda developers. It took me  a day or two to clearly understand how things were running there and what amount of brain hammering must be done to understand the  complicated method of rooting the phone. Complicated in my opinion because — If you don’t know what you are doing,you would end up with a bricked phone which would then be useful as a nice paper weight!

nAa Kernel — Supercharges your phone like never before!

So all of this background research and endless hours of reading the many forum posts  boiled down to some of the basics of the Linux Kernel.The first time I installed Android was a mere fluke. It took 6 hours for me to figure out everything involved in rooting a Sony Phone. So then I heard about the last incarnation of the cygenmod Rom coming up,I thought that it was time for me to refresh my phone again. The second time,it took  several days for me to narrow down to the prerequisites,because I ignored some of them – which caused my phone to brick.Luckily I was able to restore the phone to the original eclair rom. (Restore features are helpful only in these kind of situations ;) )

The lifeline during a rooting process — Recovery phase

I figured out that to install the custom rom this time,I had to have the latest nAa kernel running on my phone. This seems to be a custom kernel designed to run on Sony Ericsson devices.The procedure was quite arduous in nature as every step involved would brick the phone – had I not did it in the right way. It so happened that I had to restore the phone for 2 or 3 times and start from the beginning again. And after some hours I finally made it!

For those of you people who want to run custom roms on their phone I have an advice.This comes from the experience I faced during the readings and background research.

Never follow the rooting way if you don’t know what you are up to.It is very important to understand the technical terminologies which are involved in the process.Basic knowledge and working of the Linux OS and kernel would help you get on to understand the process.

Awesome customization after rooting

Always follow the procedure mentioned in the posts to the book.Never blindly download a custom Rom because – there are hundreds of Roms out there!  It would be beneficial for  you if you check out the Bugs which the current Rom is facing,so that you can decide upon perfect fit for your phone accordingly.

Never get fooled byany of  the attractive screenshots  of a particular ROM,make sure that the feature set which they provide will satisfy your needs.There might be more but these are some of the generic situations which I came across untill now.

Current look

FYI — Rooting your phone would void your warranty,so make sure that you do not lose it. Installing Custom Roms is at your own risk too since there would be no support from the OEM and your phone might also be exposed to some serious malware exploits. In a nutshell – Check thoroughly and then decide.

Happy Rooting!

As the new year passed into February,I had the opportunity to use the thinnest  ThinkPad which ever was produced.While it was released in the later half of 2011,I was still enthusiastic about the arrival of the X1 at  my home. So what would make me go gaga about this baby? There are many,but it would take me a month before I could really decide about its usage in my day-to-day life. Because unlike the other hardcore ThinkPad fans/users out there, I was oblivious of  the ThinkPad ecosystem. My first ThinkPad  was an X200T,it was very light with an awesome keyboard.Since then I had the same kind of intuition on the whole range and especially on the X series systems.

Photo courtesy --- Lenovo Singapore

For starters,I always liked the Chiclet keyboard although all of ThinkPad’s keyboard designs are legendary. My friend used to have a sony vio with an island style keyboard and I  always kind of envied him.I no longer do that though :).Laptops which are light in  weight are always a welcome relief,not to mention they are easy to carry around. This is also one of the many reasons of my fondness towards the X series. I used an X220T for some time and it had the same good feel as the X200T. But I was certain that the X1 had something special,and not until a friend of mine would  mention about the inclusion of the latest version   of Dolby Home theater.So I wondered would this mean that this is more than just a business class notebook?that Lenovo was trying to bridge the gap between entertainment and portability without compromising on performance(The X1 notebooks come with full voltage i3,i5 and i7 processors unlike the other tablet offerings).

X1 fully illuminated

While the durability and build is as good as any of the ThinkPads,performance wise I see no compromise. The X1 which I  had the following configuration

Memory : – 8 gigabytes

HDD :- 160 GB SSD

CPU : Intel i5 with vPro technology and

a special 3 year base warranty.

I could see the raw power of the notebook both during the boot times of  Windows 7 and while executing various SQL queries in Oracle. The screen is bright and comes fitted with Corning ®  Gorilla ® glass.And Unlike the Macbook air which sacrifices the inclusion of ports,the X1 has a reasonable number of ports.(USB2.0,USB 3.0,HDMI,Headphone,eSata and Ethernet)

Photo courtesy -- Lenovo Singapore

The little red nub is still there and so is the spill resistant keyboard.The keys make a pleasant clicking noise,and with the back-light thrown in this must be one of the best keyboards out there. The only issue I find with the notebook is the glossy screen — Continuously staring at it might strain your eyes.Something which Lenovo can look into and can offer  a Mattie screen option.The built in battery lasted almost 4 and half hours for me,you might get more juice for your laptop if you were to opt for the optional slice battery.

photo courtesy -- Lenovo.com

Last week while I was on the X1 using my Facebook,when my mom came over to me and was curiously looking at it.she was  particularly interested in the thin design and asked me if she could use it for some time! She even wanted to be on facebook now!.For now I am satisfied with the notebook — Great Audio and Video experience,near instant app initialization being some of the few.Its sexy sleek and speedy.I would call this the SR-71 of all the notebooks  in its class!

Sometimes things happen for a reason and they do so un expectedly . It was the same for me almost 4 years ago on this day when I found a community portal without a proper  reason in my mind. How things have turned up ever since have had quite a bit of impact on me from a technological perspective. I was just one  of the thousands of graduate students who would go to the college to pursue my studies and come back home to tinker with the favorite pass time of mine – To tinker with a desktop PC I’ve got.

Old recovery media and Linux cd's dating back to 2002

This tinkering was not always done in the right way and sometimes, I would screw up a lot of things in the process.I had to be very careful when experimenting on new things since I shared the PC with my twin brother. This lead me to do these experiments in the night times mostly from Midnight to wee hours in the morning. Initially It was my sister’s Compaq pc which was my test bed and then later on a Lenovo desktop.Among other things,I was introduced to the world of Unix in my college and it was sort of enigmatic experience for me. I wanted to learn everything about the open source stuff  out there and I would patiently wait for a popular magazine to release a cd with the latest Linux distro.One these  experiments on my newer desktops in 2008  led me to the Lenovo community portal.

Knowledge base for the broader set of audience

As with anyone who were searching for answers,I was a ranting customer.I was a bit frustrated about somethings which were not to be found in my PC when compared to other models from the same company.As time progressed, I was drawn to the place as it seemed to be a hub of knowledge sharing.By that time I used to help out people on other social sites with their PC issues.But this portal seemed to be more intriguing.I never knew that companies maintained their own portal or community hubs to interact and collaborate with their customers till that time.I couldn’t think of any other place where there were people from many backgrounds and countries who would come together with the same zeal and passion to help out their fellow customers.

I learned about ThinkPad ecosystem at the Lenovo forums

Till date,I am just amazed by the sheer diversity of the people with whom I interact during times.They include Philosophers,Industry leading Malware experts and people who are dexterous with everything related to creative and graphics. Sometimes I really think that – had I not tinkered with the system I’ve got,I wouldn’t have found such a platform to find interact with like-minded people as I. Initially I supposed it to be Stockholm syndrome .But now it is no longer the case.

Its back! and this time with some new intriguing features.2 years ago,I first tried  Soluto when a friend of mine told me about it. The way it worked was very different when compared to the regular tuneup apps out there. After reading about the latest version at the Zdnet Blogs,I couldn’t wait so I took it out for a drive on two of the systems which I have.Both of the test systems are Lenovo thinkpads running Windows 7. The reason I wanted to try on two systems this time was to see the way in which the remote support feature would work between these two systems.

To start with things,I installed the app on a Thinkpad T410 which I use as a desktop replacement in my home. The installation was not successful at the first time and after trying for many days,it finally worked. For users who want to help other people you can add upto 5 PC’s in your account which can also include your own.People who require help from  the main user are supposed to accept invitations – which leads them to download a client version of the app which then connects to the helper’s pc at any given time. After I installed the client version on another notebook,this time a thinkpad X1,I logged into soluto.com to see and tinker with all the new stuff which was touted about it on the tech sites.

Soluto correctly labled my other notebook as a Thinkpad X1

Much to my surprise,I was immediately presented with a screen which showed a brief history of my other notebook in the site.This included app history,System crash logs and performance issues. Soluto combines all of this data into so called “frustration level”.  Since the X1 was a new notebook,the frustration level was very low :). The way in which the system information of my X1 was presented also seemed to be intuitive – Short but crystal clear.

In comparison,my frustration level with my older thinkpad was justified with what  the app history  was been shown  and also its  associated problems.

After it was installed on the X1, I had to wait for some time before data could be collected from in from it so that I could really see what was being detected. The app presented with a lot of information including Configuring the browser,Windows updates and Application installations.And sure enough after some time,it figured out that there were a couple of windows updates for the newer PC which could be installed.

Remotely configuring google chrome

Configuring windows update

I thought that the updates would installed right away in the remote computer,but they did not.Soluto says that its magic and the actions would be performed only when the user on the remote PC is idle.The goal for them is to perform these changes without the user being not getting disturbed.So the next day when I opened the X1,I saw both the apps which I installed remotely.Windows update and Google talk. Voila!


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