Daily Musings

Archive for May 2009

Just read the news of Rajasthan Royals from IPL2 after having blast of a season last year and their event-full winning of the championship. This time around, they didn’t seem to be in their earlier form and lost a match every-now-and-then, which was in strike contrast to last year when they didn’t loose a single match.

Still I think they played well enough. Even Shane Warne had this to say after losing their deciding match: “We played Great Cricket.”

There has been sudden change in fortunes of Kolkata Knight Riders, who, after loosing almost all of their matches, were able to spring two surprises. One was their game with Chennai Super Kings, where they beat them Hands-down while chasing a massive score of 188. The second game was this one, where they were able to shatter the IPL dreams of Rajasthan Royals. Although this ain’t going to get them through to semi-finals, yet they spoiled the party of Rajasthan Royals.

Cricket has always been a strange game with strange outcomes; IPL2 surely is one such example of the same. Lets see who’s the champ this time.

After Day one, I was ready to install and softwares and start using the OS. As my system’s configuration ain’t enough for all the eye-candy of Windows 7, I settled for the Windows 7-on-diet. Here’s the look of my desktop.

My Windows 7 Desktop

My Windows 7 Desktop

I even tried to change the theme (there are laods of of them), but only the desktop background changed and rest remained the same. This happened because of the scarcity of the resources, out of which, main problem was very less physical memory.

Now comes the interesting part… I downloaded and installed latest versions of the regular softwares I use. As of now, none of them have a version for Windows 7 (quite rightly so, because the OS has not released as yet). The regular versions for Xp/Vista worked fine with Windows 7 and I had no problems in installing and using them.

The list of softwares that I use are: Avira AV Personal Edition, Foobar2000 (for music), uTorrent for torrent downloads, Firefox 3.5 beta 4 for browsing, Irfan View for images, 7Zip for archives, Google Talk and Yahoo Messenger. There some more softwares, which I use, and hence, will install during the course of time.

All the softwares I installed, worked perfectly. There was no problem what-so-ever. I haven’t installed Visual Studio, which I will have to, very soon, as my work depends on it. Installing and using VS would be the real challenge for the OS. Lets see whats in store for me….

My first day with Windows 7 was a mixed bag of emotions filled mostly with awe. Yes!! I was awe-struck with the look, feel and performance of Windows 7.

The good things about Windows 7 are:

  • Streamlined interface. Better navigation capabilities.
  • Automatic Performance adjustments according to user’s system configuration.
  • Very Good Looks and capability to change themes (I remember the good old days of Windows 98.)
  • Addition of Sticky Notes (Can come handy at times).


Certain problems that I faced with it were (yes..were…coz I have solved them now):

  • The sound card driver was not detected initially and I have to use the “update driver” option from “Device Manager” to get the driver. But the good thing was that the driver was detected and downloaded automatically. No manual download and installation was required from my part.
  • The other problem was with graphics. In XP, although my graphics solution was not detected, still I didn’t need to install graphics drivers seperately. Here, the OS set the graphics to be “Standard VGA”. And although this setup had set the required resolution of “1024×768” and color depth of 32bit, but the refresh rate was very low which caused a strain to my eye. And, there was no option to change the refresh rate. Then I downloaded the latest graphics drivers for windows (no drivers for windows 7 as yet) from the manufacturer’s site and tried to install it. At first, it gave an error during installation that its not meant for this version of OS. But then, it provided an option to install the software with recommended settings, and I did the same, which gave the required results i.e. the drivers were installed finally and I was able to change the refresh rate.


Below is the video of the first run of Windows 7 on my machine (Again with FM as background music :P):

After Days of agony, I successfully installed Windows 7 yesterday with much-needed help from our-very-own Google :). I take it as an achievement because of the fact that I didn’t use my DVD drive to install it and instead, I used my new USB Flash drive to do the same.

After many tries, I had almost given up, as I was not able to boot my PC with the USB drive. I had tried many a methods given on the internet. The problem with all those methods was that they were meant to be acted upon in Vista; and I wanted to use my XP machine for it. Finally I found a article which was yet another article about the doing the specified task in Vista. But, thanks to a person who had commented in that article, I got what I was looking for. After that I mingled all the steps to boot and install from my USB drive.

As daunting a task it was for me, it might be for others too. Hence, I decided to bring together and filter all those steps to present a short-yet-working step-by-step solution of installing “Windows 7 from a USB Drive using Windows XP“. Here is the solution:

  • Download Windows 7 RC iso file from here (Remember it’s a 2.39GB of download, so it will take time…Have Patience 😉 ).
  • Make sure your USB drive and motherboard support booting from a USB Drive.
  • Prepare your USB drive by- (1) Formatting it (Go to My Computer and right-click on your USB Drive. Then left-click on “Format”). (2) Making it “Active” by going to “Computer Management” under “Administrative Tools” in Control Panel. Then click on “Disk Management” in the left-hand panel. Then select your USB drive in the right-hand panel and make it active by right-clicking it and then selecting the appropriate action.
  • Now comes the part which made me tear my hair out..Making the USB drive bootable..The simplest solution is to download an ISO utility called UltraISO and installing it on your system. Then run UltraISO and open the Windows 7 RC iso file which you downloaded in the first step. Then click on the “Bootable” option in the top menu. Then select “Write To Disk”. Now make sure your USB drive is selected as the destination and click on the “Write” button. Your drive is bootable when it shows “Burn Successful”.
  • Now You can restart your system and change your BIOS settings to boot from the USB drive. The setup starts automatically and is easy to perform.

Hope the above solution will help those who need a solution for installing Windows 7 from a USB drive. This method might be workable for other OS’s too if someone has a bootable iso file of the OS to install.

Here is a video of my installation experience (with FM Radio as background music :P):

After days of facing the Heat-Wave, yesterday brought some relief in the form of thunder-showers. A super-cool weather followed and still remains to sooth our lives :D. A welcome respite from the burning-Sunny days it has been.

A day before, my 3 year-old CRT monitor started giving me jitters. The display would go blank (No Display Signal) any moment and then get back after a slap or two. Sometimes even these slaps didn’t work and I got so frustrated with it that I decided to replace it with my 11 year-old CRT monitor (I haven’t changed it as yet, though). It was happening so randomly that I could not complete my work and hence decided to leave it as is. Then yesterday, I was not able to switch my monitor and get my work done because of the power-cut which, in turn, was due the bad (or should I say, Good :)) weather.

..After anxiously waiting for a week or so, I finally got my hands on the RC of Windows 7 this sunday. As my DVD-Writer is at fault (yes..DVD-Writer too :(), I searched for ways to install Windows 7 from my USB drive. After hours of Research and work, I finally got a bootable USB drive with W7 setup ready to be installed. Then I took a backup of my music library and the moment I wanted to start the installation process; BLANK!!…uuurrrrgggghhhh…the monitor… What happened next has been described above.

And so, here I am waiting for my turn to get down-and-dirty with W7. I hope today would be THEE day of reckoning for me(Let’s pray to the rain-gods…Amen).

Amazing Magic Trick and illustration of how it has been done..

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More often than not, a web-designer comes face-to-face with problem of finding the right tool for a typical kind of work he has to do. This is where a few freeware tools as mentioned below might come in handy. Some of these are already being used by most of the desingers, while others are crooning for attention. So lets delve into the sea of free web-designer tools available today:

Editing, Uploading, Downloading

1. 7-Zip : 7-zip is a zip utility that completely replaces stalwarts like WinZip. It handles numerous compression file formats: arj, cab, gz, iso, lzh, rar, tar and zip to name a few. It also has its own proprietary format, 7z, which can squeeze a little extra out of a file when set to the “ultra” setting.
2. CSE HTML Validator Lite: Use this tool to create hand-coded pages and to catch coding errors before you publish. This validator will catch open tags and misspellings and it also will place quotation marks around attribute values as well as change all tags and attributes to lower case. If you don’t like to use it for coding, use it to save time on validation.
3. FileZilla : One of the best free FTP tools around. FileZilla provides unlimited uploads and downloads and supports resumption of transfers when your connection is broken. FileZilla comes in two flavors – full-featured FTP client, and FTP server. Both support FTP over open connections, SSL/TLS (FTPS) and SSH FTP.
4. KompoZer: KompoZer is a WYSIWYG Web-authoring system with built-in site management tools and CSS management system.
5. Texter: If you want a tool that can provide HTML tag shortcuts, you’ve found it. For example, tap “p” and hit Tab to open up a set of HTML paragraph tags. You also can develop your own shortcuts.

Graphics

6. FontForge: An outline font editor that lets you create and edit your own postscript, truetype, opentype, cid-keyed, multi-master, cff, svg and bitmap (bdf, FON, NFNT) fonts, or edit existing ones. Also lets you convert one format to another
7. Gimp: While not as powerful as Photoshop, Gimp is coming close. Gimp supports layers, filters, effects, brushes and textures and can handle any image file type imaginable.
8. Inkscape: This tool only gets better as the years go by. Inkscape is an Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, Freehand and CorelDraw. It uses the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format.
9. Serif Draw Plus: Use this tool to create vector drawings and smooth animations. Their DrawPlus 4 is completely free, and it allows text manipulation, fill tools and is filled with filter effects. For personal use only.
10. uMark: If you sell your images online, use this tool to create a watermark. You can protect your images with a copyright notice or logo, and add this visible watermark to hundreds of images at one time.

Photographs

11. Easy Thumbnails: How many times have you searched for a way to scale images in batches? This tool provides eleven re-sampling filters, real-time previews and quality results.
12. Gallery: Manage your photos, including automatic thumbnail resizing, rotation and other tools with this free download.
13. JAlbum: Do you need a photo gallery? JAlbum consists of free album software, free hosting (or upload to your own site), skins, ability to customize and a creative community.
14. Picasa: You don’t need Photoshop’s Bridge to organize your images. Keep images private or use one gigabyte free storage for albums – enough space for 4,000 wallpaper-size photos.
15. Picnik: Tweak photos online, create galleries and use special effects. This app works with photos at various online venues such as Flickr, Facebook, Photobucket and more.

EZ-Design

If you’re creating a Web site, where do you begin? If you’re an HTML pro, you can use the editing resources listed above. But, if you want to create heavy-duty Web designs without hiring a full staff, then the following free apps may help.

16. Webs: Choose from one of 300+ templates to get started. You can change your template at any time. And, you can use advanced HTML mode to modify your site. You also can integrate Paypal or Google Checkout.
17. Wix: Create Flash Websites, design a MySpace page, control your portfolios and add widgets. Start with a blank page or choose among various designs and go to it.

Project Management

Web designers usually know that they work long hours and that they don’t keep track of their time and that they don’t get paid for that lost time. While some might consider this problem a ‘labor of love,’ others might take advantage of the tools below to streamline productivity.

18. Clocking It: Prove to your clients that you’ve spent ‘that much time’ on their projects. Time tracking can be simple or detailed. Enjoy flexible reporting, multiple ways to communication and an interactive gantt chart and scheduling.
19. DimDim: Dimdim lets anyone deliver synchronized live presentations, whiteboards and web pages and share their voice and video over the Internet – with no download required.
20. Google Calendar Invoice Creator: Use a Google Calendar to create appointments and this tool will read the RSS feed from that calendar, calculate the total hours and create an invoice. You will need to install Adobe AIR first.
21. Google Docs: We’ve met folks who still haven’t tried the Google Doc applications, and we don’t know why. Use their documents, spreadsheets, presentation and PDF utilities and organize them by user or topic. You can share everything or nothing with your team. Also integrates a chat feature.
22. Klok: You could purchase a chess timer to keep track of how much time you spend on a project (good for when you have constant interruptions), but why? Especially when Klok is free. Track time and clients accurately. You will need to install Adobe AIR first.
23. ProjectPier: Very similar to the popular Basecamp, this free, open source and self-hosted PHP application is perfect for managing tasks, projects and teams.

Miscellaneous

These two apps are great management flow tools…

24. Premier Survey: This survey tool requires a web browser and an Internet connection to manage surveys from anywhere in the world.
25. File Dropper: FileDropper.com was created as a fresh and fast alternative for file sharing up to five GB. Files are kept forever as long as they are being downloaded.

Original Source: Best Web-Design Tools