Thursday, December 15, 2005

Google's Firefox Extensions

Google has several Firefox extensions that make it easier to use its applications. My favorite one is the ability to use Google Suggest in the Firefox search box. The Blogger extension seems interesting too but I don't like the additional markup it's adding to posts.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Thief of Time

For something to exist, it has to be observed.

For something to exist, it has to have a position in time and space.

And this explains why nine-tenths of the mass of the universe is unaccounted for.

Nine-tenths of the universe is the knowledge of the position and direction of everything in the other thenth. Every atom has its biography, every star its file, every chemical exchange its equivalent of the inspector with a clipboard. It is unaccounted for because it is doing the accounting for the rest of it, and you cannot see the back of your own head.

Nine-tenths of the universe, in fact, is the paperwork.

-- from "Thief of Time" by Terry Pratchett

Friday, September 23, 2005

iPod Nano

Business Week has an interesting article about Apple's profit margins on the iPod Nano. Apparently it costs $90.18 in materials and $8 to assemble the 2 GB Nano which retails for $199. That's almost 50% profit margin! No wonder the iPods are a real cash cow for Apple. The article also lists some of the companies who benefited from the Nano such as Cypress Semiconductor (CY), Portal Player (PLAY) and Samsung.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Turning the Pages

The British Library has an interesting project called Turning the Pages. They have put up digitized versions of original editions several books and manuscripts. For example, one can find the first edition of Lewis Caroll's Alice in Wonderland and Leonardo Da Vinci's sketches. The BBC has a brief description of the project and the technology used.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Google Talk

The rumors have finally come true - Google Talk, Google's IM service is here. Since it's based on Jabber XMPP, a variety of Jabber-capable IM clients can be used to connect to the network. Google has provided instructions on how to connect to their server using some clients. I did manage to connect to their server via Kopete version 0.10.3 which is the IM client that's part of KDE 3.4.2. Here are the step-by-step instructions for configuring Kopete to connect to the Google Talk network:

  1. Go to Settings | Configure Kopete.
  2. Click New to setup a new account.
  3. At Step One,choose the Jabber messaging service.
  4. At Step Two, in the Basic Setup tab, enter your GMail address (including the @gmail.com part) for Jabber ID.
  5. Optionally, check the Remember password checkbox and enter your password if you want Kopete to remember it via KWallet, the KDE Wallet Manager.
  6. In the Connection tab, make sure that the Use protocol encryption (SSL) checkbox is checked.
  7. Check the Override default server information checkbox and enter talk.google.com as the Server. The Port should automatically be defaulted to 5223.
  8. Hit Next and then Finish. You should now be able to connect to the Google Talk server.

Friday, July 1, 2005

USB Flash Drive with Linux

Here are the instructions to make a 128 MB USB flash drive from Edge Tech Corp work under Linux (using kernel 2.6.11.7):

  1. Compile and install the usb-storage module. This option is under "Device Drivers" -> "USB Support" -> "USB Mass Storage Support" in the kernel configuration options.
  2. Load the module using modprobe usb-storage. Look at /var/log/messages; you should see messages like this:
    Jul 1 21:10:15 trinity Initializing USB Mass Storage driver...
    Jul 1 21:10:15 trinity usbcore: registered new driver usb-storage
    Jul 1 21:10:15 trinity USB Mass Storage support registered.
  3. Plug in the flash drive and look at the messages in /var/log/messages again. This will help you identify what SCSI device the flash drive was simulated as. Here are some sample message from the log:
    Jul 1 21:10:45 trinity usb 3-3: new high speed USB device using ehci_hcd and address 4
    Jul 1 21:10:45 trinity scsi0 : SCSI emulation for USB Mass Storage devices
    Jul 1 21:10:51 trinity Vendor: Model: Secure Guard Rev: PMAP
    Jul 1 21:10:51 trinity Type: Direct-Access ANSI SCSI revision: 00
    Jul 1 21:10:51 trinity SCSI device sda: 243200 512-byte hdwr sectors (125 MB)
    Jul 1 21:10:51 trinity sda: assuming Write Enabled
    Jul 1 21:10:51 trinity SCSI device sda: 243200 512-byte hdwr sectors (125 MB)
    Jul 1 21:10:51 trinity sda: assuming Write Enabled
    Jul 1 21:10:51 trinity /dev/scsi/host0/bus0/target0/lun0: p1
    Jul 1 21:10:51 trinity Attached scsi removable disk sda at scsi0, channel 0, id 0, lun 0
    Jul 1 21:10:51 trinity Attached scsi generic sg0 at scsi0, channel 0, id 0, lun 0, type 0
    Jul 1 21:10:51 trinity Vendor: Model: Secure Guard Rev: PMAP
    Jul 1 21:10:51 trinity Type: Direct-Access ANSI SCSI revision: 00
    Jul 1 21:10:51 trinity SCSI device sdb: 2880 512-byte hdwr sectors (1 MB)
    Jul 1 21:10:51 trinity sdb: assuming Write Enabled
    Jul 1 21:10:51 trinity SCSI device sdb: 2880 512-byte hdwr sectors (1 MB)
    Jul 1 21:10:51 trinity sdb: assuming Write Enabled
    Jul 1 21:10:51 trinity /dev/scsi/host0/bus0/target0/lun1: unknown partition table
    Jul 1 21:10:51 trinity Attached scsi removable disk sdb at scsi0, channel 0, id 0, lun 1
    Jul 1 21:10:51 trinity Attached scsi generic sg1 at scsi0, channel 0, id 0, lun 1, type 0
    Jul 1 21:10:52 trinity scsi.agent[15707]: disk at /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:0a.2/usb3/3-3/3-3:1.0/host0/target0:0:0/0:0:0:0
    Jul 1 21:10:52 trinity scsi.agent[15734]: disk at /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:0a.2/usb3/3-3/3-3:1.0/host0/target0:0:0/0:0:0:1
  4. Now simply mount the appropriate SCSI drive e.g.: mount -t vfat -o umask=0000 /dev/sda1 /mnt/usb/ and your flash drive is ready for use.