Tuesday, January 30, 2007

29 Day after

I'll turn 29 day after, well that means one more year left before I touch 30; the year at which I feel you can no longer call yourself young. Looking back at the last year, it was a forgettable year, maybe even more than 2005. I realize that I have lots of questions to answer to myself, lots of decisions to make (given the state of my current life I don't think there are too many choices when it comes to making decisions), off-late I've been letting my life drift away, allowing it to make all the decisions for me and I've been just meandering along. Sometimes the harder we try to hold on to something, the more it eludes us, it reminds me of that saying about trying to hold the sand in our palm; the tighter we close our fists, the more we try not letting it go, the more it slips through the cracks. Maybe, we are just not supposed to hold on to something as if it was ours, maybe we are not supposed to live our life knowing that there's always someone whom we can run to when we are feeling burnt out and outright dejected, maybe we are not supposed to take someone's material presence for granted, heck, we are not supposed to take anything for granted. Isn't life all about sharing? Isn't it all about sharing your ups and downs with someone who understands what it means to be you, and why you chose to be the person you are? Would you rather have someone with whom you can share your dreams with, someone who will put up with you and your eccentric ways and still love you or would you rather have all the riches and fame of the world? I know we draw people in our lives and at times when we need to learn something and they go away once our learning is complete, but what's the point of learning when you can't run to the person who taught you and tell them victoriously that you've learnt and learnt well? If you are reading this post and have someone who's been with you through your thick and thins, give them a hug and tell them how much it means to you to have them in your life, do it tonight cause tomorrow might just be too late.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Zune: A Review

Now that I've played around with Zune long enough, I think I can write about its virtues & vices quite confidently. While reading this please keep in mind that the review is written from my perspective, things that I *think* are must-haves for a PMP v/s things that I think are *nice-to-haves*. Anyway, without any further ado here it comes:

I don't care too much about how something is boxed, so I won't delve into that at all. The s/w installation was pretty much painless though I did find it rather weird that the first thing the installer did was to check for updates and download them! As a general rule of thumb if I get something new, I want to use it now (and I guess that's pretty much true for almost everyone), so having to wait till a 30MB something patch is downloaded is definitely not on. Zune doesn't have the shiny look like the iPod and looks a lot more retro, so if you really care about how your player looks like and that's the must-have for you, iPod is a better pick, I'm in no way implying that Zune looks ugly (even the brown one for that matter) but iPod with it's shiny metallic sheen wins over Zune in aesthetics and looks (when the players are switched off). Now comes the fun part, once you power on Zune, the large screen grows on you, and Zune comes with some pre-loaded indie content which you can play without having to sync' it to your system library. And that brings us to the most painful experience of mine with Zune but I guess I'd quite a uncommon setup: installation of Zune requires admin privileges (quite obvious) but I run my Windows under a Limited User Account, so to install Zune I had to login as an admin and during the process it asked me to connect the Zune and asked me some questions about setting up a MarketPlace (online store) account etc. Once the installation was complete and I logged in back as the normal user and plugged in Zune, it told me that I've already associated my player with another system (basically another user account on the same system) so I had two choices (if you can call them choices, btw, can you just have one choice?), either connect as a guest or remove the existing media from Zune and create a new partnership, since I had to create the new partnership, I deleted the existing media and in the process lost all the pre-loaded content. Now, to the synchronization bit: another one of my peculiar situation, I've a dual partitioned 40GB HDD on my system; so I only keep a subset of my music on the hard-disk, the rest is on my iRiver. I plugged in my iRiver and added the root folder(my iRiver is a UMS drive, which basically means it acts as an external drive when you plug it in) to my Zune library (which automatically picked *My Music* folder on my local disk); and any attempts to remove the local *My Music* folder from the library proved to be futile, Zune s/w would keep on adding the folder behind my back! The syncing was quite fast which you would expect given both of my external drives were connected via USB 2.0. So once the player was loaded with my library, I gave it a whirl and that's where Zune is at its best, playing media on the device. The screen is large and vibrant, the firmware pretty slick and responsive and quite crisp and loud music. I think the biggest usp for the Zune is its large display and the prominent album-art. Another nice-to-have is the built in FM receiver, I've read a lot of people online talking about who needs a FM anyway? well, maybe I'm from old school but barring the commercials; FM channels are generally nice way of discovering new music and the surprise element about which song's gonna be played next adds even more to the fun. The good bit about Zune FM receiver is it also displays the artist/song information that is being played (provided the channel is broadcasting those information) so you are not left wondering about the song that you just listened to. I can't write much about the video capabilities of the player as I haven't watched any video on it! Most of the videos are on my iRiver PMP which supports a much higher resolution than the iPod or the Zune and suppots xvid/divx codecs. The picture viewer is quite nice and it automatically flips the screen orienation to landscape giving you a bigger real-estate. By the way, MS touted wireless as their usp for Zune, if you're planning to get Zune because of its wireless capabilities don't even think about it, the wireless is useless in its current avatar and most probs you will turn it off permanently to save some battery juice. All in all, I guess Zune s/w has quite a few rough edges (minor quirks albeit sometimes frustrating ones) but the player is really nice! Accessories wise even though iPod has more partners than Zune, Zune almost has all the accessories you would really care about (for me the biggest pet peeve with my iRiver was the lack of a wireless remote!)
So would I recommend Zune to someone over iPod? Well, if I am not desperate to get a media player I would rather wait for Zune 2.0 or the next-gen (touch?) iPod. Zune also lacks quite a few additional frills that are part of iPod (which don't matter to me) like a clock, a contact list, an alarm and direct podcast support (if you're into podcasting you can try the freebie called FeedYourZune) etc etc., in its current state Zune does best at what it is supposed to do: playing media (audio, FM).

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Popping the first line from a file

Another trivial issue, how do you remove the first line (pop) of a file and read it's contents in a variable. Here's what I did:

head -1 somefile > sometempfile
set /p var=<sometempfile
echo %var%
tail +2 somefile > sometempfile
mv -f sometempfile somefile

I could have also used sed instead of head & tail, it would have been something like:

sed -n "1,1p" somefile (instead of head -1)
sed "1,1d" somefile > somotherfile (instead of tail +2)

The temporary file is required in XP for setting the variable value, cause XP batch files don't allow setting the variable to the output of another command, which is kind of lame!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Getting contents of a file till some text

Some time back, I wanted to parse a web page to get some images from it (as part of my album art fixer), instead of writing a full blown c# application for it I decided I'll use do some QnD hack using linux shell commands (I use unxutils on windows). Retrieving the web page was easy using wget, I'd already done it for retrieving "A Brief History on Time". The problem was that I was only interested in parsing the file till some particular text, i.e. I wanted to ignore nearly half of the file. I tried sed but couldn't find anything working, so ended up doing it the long way by using grep, cut and head, something like:

set var=
fgrep -i -n "ignore from here onwards" file.htm | cut -d: -f1 > rm.txt
set /p var=<rm.txt
head -%var% file.htm

Does anyone know of a better way of doing this?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Once upon a time...time-line tags

From the desk of "Because I have nothing better to do".

Another one of the mindless exercise that I did last night...I recently was reading on /. about the Microsoft-Speak time-line over last 30 years, in a nutshell it uses a php script tagline which generates a chronological tag-cloud of the words and helps you visualize the change in priorities/feelings as you grow and evolve. Well, I just thought off running it on my blogs to see which words I've used a lot over the time (it's been nearly 3 years since I've been blogging and though I'm quite irregular at updating the blog, I still have managed to do 100+ posts) and which words have dropped off. The only requirement for the tagline generator is that you need to organize your data in a xml format and feed it to the php file which does all the grunt work for you. To get the data in the required format, I first used Blogger Backup to get the local copy of my posts, then I wrote a QnD C# app which stripped the escaped html entities like < etc and collated all the posts into the required xml file. I generated tagline first by post and then one by month where I clubbed all the posts for a given month. I found it quite interesting to notice that in the beginning of my blogging most of my posts touched upon my personal life, sometime mid last year I started ranting a lot more about technology (check the words with large fonts) and from late last year I've once again started blogging about my personal experiences more often, anyway, without further ado here's how the time-line tag cloud looks for my blog:
  1. Per Post
  2. Monthly

Monday, January 01, 2007

Updated Blogroll

Here's the updated blogroll, ideally I should have it somewhere on the side-bar but the template that I use doesn't provide that much real-estate. I'll see if I can pin this post somewhere in the side bar. There are quite a few feeds that I don't read that often including BBC World News, Dilbert and Scoble Shared Items but they are there in case I've nothing better to do.