Do Not Disturb Registry

For those you who haven’t heard of it, the DND (Do Not Disturb) registry service allows us register to opt out of all unsolicited promotional SMSs and calls.

If you want to register for the DND registry, just call 1909, or send an SMS with START 0 to 1909. It takes 7 days to be fully activated.

While the DND registry is great, and does a pretty good job of keeping the big marketers away… it was only a matter time before people started finding workarounds.. so now you have marketers (usually small-time agencies) who ignore the DND registry…

So how do you register a complaint against offenders of your DND rights? Just call 1909, or send an SMS to 1909 with the following format:

brief description of the call, Phone number of SMS header, dd/mm/yy
e.g.
call related to selling land plots, 9792124000, 15/05/13
or
SMS for bank loan, LM-BANK, 15/05/13

After you send the SMS, you should get a reply saying that your complaint has been registered, you’ll soon get an SMS from your mobile operator with a complaint ID, and the date by which you’ll receive an update of the action taken (usually within 1 week)

And thats it… you’ve done your duty!

Quick Links:
Official Govt. website: http://nccptrai.gov.in/nccpregistry/
Check your registration status: http://nccptrai.gov.in/nccpregistry/search.misc
Check you complaint status: http://nccptrai.gov.in/nccpregistry/UccSearch.misc

And a bit of gossip, it seems that the DND really got a push for implementation after Pranab Mukherjee once received a call offering him a loan during a very important meeting… he was the Finance Minister of India then!

Tagged ,

Ubuntu Tips

Here is a collection of applications, tweaks and other gems that make life in Ubuntu more livable. I plan to keep updating and expanding this list as I wade through the unfamiliar world of Linux. One guarantee is that all these solutions will be tried and tested by me personally. So if it doesn’t work for you… then you can be quite sure, its just you.

  1. Windows 7-like snapping windows to half/full screen size: http://www.mikesubuntu.com/2010/06/snap-windows-to-sides-like-windows-7-using-compiz/
    I have tried this on Ubuntu 10.10, and it works beautifully.

Acer Aspire 5745 laptop review

I just bought a new Acer 5745 laptop from SP Road, Bangalore a few days ago (on Dec 17, 2010).

Well, I’m very excited, and after watching “The Social Network”, I am feeling more compelled than ever to start publishing the details of my life to the world in general. So here is my (personal) review of the Acer 5745.

Acer Aspire 5745

Acer Aspire 5745: Here you can see the full keyboard, touchpad, 15.6" screen, USB ports and DVD drive on the side.

First off, here is the config:

1. Processor: Core i5 460M (2.53 GHz, turbo boost upto 2.8 GHz.. here’s the full spec). Note: Some (even costlier) Core i5 laptops come with the 430M, which is only 2.26GHz, turbo boost to 2.53GHz.

2. Graphics Card: No separate graphics card, just the in-built Intel HD graphics that comes with the processor… hardly worth mentioning.

3. RAM: 2GB DDR3-1066

4. HDD: 500GB

5. Screen: 15.6″ 16:9 (widescreen) HD LCD (I am not very discerning when it comes to LCDs, and this is no exception)

6. Ports and DVD drive:

  • 4 USB 2.0 ports. 1 port on the left side and 3 on the right. The ports are well-spaced, so that you can even plug in fat USB devices like internet dongles without making the other ports inaccessible.
  • Multi-card reader: Supports Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, SD, xD-Picture Card and MMC
  • HDMI: For playing HD movies on your TV/external monitor
  • VGA: Also for connecting external monitor/projector.
  • RJ-45: Ethernet connector (for internet)
  • 1 Headphone (supports SPDIF) and 1 microphone jack.
  • DVD Super Multi Dual Layer Drive: Typical laptop DVD writer, writes even dual-layer DVDs.

7.Communications:

  • Wifi: Acer Nplify 802.11 b/g/n (pretty standard)
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (also pretty standard)

8. Sound: Well, it says “Dolby Home Theater” and “Virtual SurroundSound“. Pretty tall claims for a low budget laptop, but actually the sound is pretty good. Its loud and quite clear, which is all I (or any reasonable person) should expect from laptop audio. Don’t expect crisp highs and thumping base from these eraser-sized speakers.

9. Battery : 6 cell Li-ion (again pretty standard)

10. Miscellaneous stuff and some neat extras:

  • 1.3 MP webcam and mic built-in for hassle free video chatting or crappy recording.
  • Touchpad supports multi-touch! So you can use stuff like pinch zoom, 2 finger scrolling (like in Mac) etc. Its not very smooth, but still usuable. And very cool.
  • Has a full chiclet keyboard with numpad.
  • Comes with a free carry case: Its pretty much a look-alike of the Sony Vaio carry-case , but without the excellent materials. Overall it looks pretty decent, but I think I’ll stick with my back-pack for now.

11. OS: Free DOS. I found that this saves you around Rs 6,000, from the price differences I saw. I was able to get a free (legal) copy of Windows 7, so it was worth it for me. Otherwise life without Windows can be difficult.

12. Warranty: 1 year international warranty.

13. Cost: I got it for Rs 32,200, all-inclusive. (Yeah, I paid the taxes 😛 ). I bought it from S P Road, Bangalore, which is one of the cheapest places to buy genuine computer hardware. Also there’s not a lot of bargaining (just a little). I have never found a variation of price between shops of more than Rs 500, even in laptops costing around Rs. 30,000 (I’ve bought 2 from S P Road). Note: There may be more significant differences if you are buying cheap stuff like USB, headphones, computer peripherals etc from local brands.

GENERAL NOTES

Well, its only been 3-4 days since I got it, so this is mostly just my first impression. But I must say this, I’m impressed. This thing is, to quote a friend, “pure value for money”. So if you’re not bored yet, then please read on for my more subjective opionions… (and be prepared for some rambling)

Build Quality

This is not something that Acer is famous for… well… not in a good way at least. But the look and feel of this laptop is great. The chiclet keyboard is large and well-proportioned and has a nice tactile feel. It also has a full num-pad. The touchpad is well sized. The top of the laptop is glossy and black, with some subtle grey stripes. Looks nice and elegant. The palm rest has a grey matte finish, which is great since it doesn’t attract fingerprints and feels cool and smooth. The screen has a glossy finish, just like most new laptops today. I personally have a preference for the matte finish on screens, because it prevents reflections (which become all too apparent when you have a black/dark image showing on the screen). This laptop has a weight of 2.6 kg, which is quite comfortable to carry. Another nice touch is that the eject button is located above the keyboard, rather than on the side of the DVD drive, so no need to feel around for that button anymore.

One minor downside of this laptop is the there is only one opening at the bottom of the laptop for replacing RAM and hard disk. This cover is also affixed with a sticker that says “warranty void if removed”. I had to remove this sticker to upgrade my RAM, and I had to take the word of the laptop salesman that my warranty would still hold. Not a great way to do business I think…

Left side view with screen closed

Acer Aspire 5745: On the side you can see (starting from the front) headphone, mic, USB, ethernet, HDMI and VGA ports. Also see the glossy top.

Performance

The Core i5 460M is a 2.53 GHz (turbo boost to 2.8) processor, with 2 cores and 4 threads. You will see 4 CPU graphs in your windows task manager, those are for the 4 threads. Before buying this laptop I researched a little bit into the need for a graphics card. I found out that a graphics card is only useful if you are into graphics-intensive games, or do a lot of video encoding, or your work involves 3D graphics tools. Since I don’t do any of those things (and neither do most people), this laptop is well suited to handle almost any normal task without breaking a sweat. Also, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a graphics card for all new games, only the ones with 3D graphics. So you can easily run games like Need For Speed, Fifa, Age of Empires (obviously), Prince of Persia: Sands of Time etc. You could even use a graphics card emulator like 3D Analyze to squeeze out some extra juice. I haven’t tried, but probably new versions of Counter Strike, and similar games would not work properly.

Here is the Windows Experience Index for those of you who care:

Acer 5745 Windows 7 Experience Index

Windows Experience Index

After you turn it on…

There were a few hick-ups in beginning. Acer doesn’t have an exclusive manual or driver CD for this particular model. So I had some trouble figuring out which drivers to install, since they had multiple ones for each device. Acer doesn’t even provide any instructions, so it was a game of hit and miss (and not a fun game). Bluetooth also wasn’t working for me initially (but then it suddenly started working one day). Touchpad is nice to use, and multitouch is quite useful as well. The included touchpad software has loads of useful gestures (for single and multi-touch), that can make your life easier. I have installed Windows 7 Professional, and its working beautifully. Though there is a lack of dedicated media buttons, some of the keyboard keys can be used as media keys (when function key is pressed). Other than that, everything is pretty standard, and I haven’t faced any problems yet.

Conclusion

So, if you haven’t got the drift yet, I really like this laptop. I think its great for everyday use, and its pretty cheap at Rs. 32,300.

Do leave your comments (even if you don’t have any). If you have any questions, those are welcome too, I’ll try to reply.

Interesting C code

This is interesting only for C programmers, and probably not useful even to them.
But you’re still reading, so I guess you’re really jobless. So here it is:
Anyone familiar with pointers in C knows the output of this code:

int arr[3] = {5,6,7};
printf("%d",arr[2]);

(OUTPUT : 7)

But did you know that even this code works :

int arr[3] = {5,6,7};
printf("%d",2[arr]);

(OUTPUT : 7)

Amazing, huh?

(Nah, not really… I just write these articles to show people that they’re geeks! But do read on…)

Well, here’s how it works:

You probably know that arr[2] is equivalent to *(arr + 2)

Actually, arr[2] converts internally to *(arr + 2) before evaluation

So, if

arr[2] => *(arr + 2)

Isn’t it quite reasonable to  expect that

2[arr] => *(2 + arr)

Well, reasonable or not, thats how it works! And I’m sure you know *(x + 2) is equivalent to *(2 + x), so there!

Makes perfect sense doesn’t it!

arr[2] is equivalent to 2[arr]     !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why I hate ubuntu (right now)

The thing about problems in Ubuntu is that they just never go away. Here is my painful experience:
My second round with Ubuntu has gotten off to a rocky start (just like my first attempt about a year ago…. ) It all started with a simple prompt in Firefox to install flash-player. I had some important work I needed to do, but I thought, “I’ll need to do this sometime or the other, might as well do it now. Its only a click anyway.”
Well…. I should have known better.
It started off decently enough and I continued with my other work …. but I kept getting nagged by the fact that the update hadn’t completed…. it was probably my spider sense giving me a warning.
Anyway, I saw that it had gotten stuck, and decided to pull the plug on the sucker. A click on the red X in Windows XP would have done the trick, but not here…
I tried to close the update window, which caused it (also) to get stuck. Then I tried to close firefox, but guess what ….. it was (also) stuck (too).
Now my mouse click stopped working (though the cursor moved and hover effects were still working…. so at least I had graphics through the ordeal)
Somehow I noticed that my mousepad (I’m using a laptop) still had a functioning click, so I at least had some consolation.
Now I found myself cut-off from the internet, the one place where I might get help.
But with my mousepad I was able to restart…..
Now I was back and things seemed fine, so I decided to install pidgin so that I could at least have a lifeline to my brother when (not if) things went wrong.
But guess what?
Now I couldn’t install anything because the flash player install had locked up my synaptic manager, so that nothing could move forward.
Now I speak to you after 2 hours of going through at 30 different links and solutions, only to find that nothing works!!
Anyway, I guess its things like this that allow programmers to have jobs. So cheers!

The lesser known triple-click, and its famous cousin.

Have you ever been frustrated with trying to select the whole line in the google search bar, browser address bar? Ever gone on a crazy clicking spree get everything selected, only to click extra and lose it all? Well I’m here to tell you about a wonderful invention called the triple-click!

So I’ve made a short tutorial, its suitable for all but the completely brain-dead.
Click once on text in the address bar: Nothing happens
Double-twice: the word gets selected
Triple-click!: the whole line gets selected!
Oh, and by the way, some browsers select the whole line on the first click, but if you screw up that first click, and click more than once, then you have go with a triple click after that (or click somewhere outside to reset the behavior).

The middle click!
Also while we’re on the subject of clicking, let me also tell you about the middle mouse wheel, which is extremely underutilized. Here are few ways to use it:
1. Middle click on a tab to close it (works in almost all applications with tabs).
2. Middle click on a link to open it in a new tab. Go ahead…. middle click me! (Very useful when opening multiple tabs from a google page)
3. Press CTRL while rolling the mouse wheel, and watch the page zoom in and out.
Wondering how to use the (highly addictive) middle click on your laptop touchpad? Well, just click on both L and R buttons at the same time.

Well, I hope you enjoyed that, but now its time for payback!
Leave a comment if you have any shame.

Tagged , , , , , ,