Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Olympics and the New World Order?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 6 comments Share: Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Facebook

The medal tally at the Beijing Olympics read:

Country Gold Silver Bronze
China 51 21 28
USA 36 38 36
Russia 23 21 28

Of the 35 disciplines at the Olympics, China won Gold in 17, Gymnastics and Weightlifting with 9 and 8 Golds and the remaining 34 spread over 15 other disciplines. The US, by comparison, won Gold medals in 15 disciplines with Athletics (7) and Swimming (12) dominating the medal haul.

A look at the various sports where China won Gold is a pointer towards how single minded China was on taking as many Gold medals as it could - as varied as Archery, Badminton, Boxing, Canoe, Diving, Fencing, Trampoline, Judo, Rowing, Sailing, Shooting, Swimming, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Wrestling. While there were attempts to start winning in Athletics, etc. it was a strategy to put China on top of the medal tally. And they sure made it to the top. It was a victory for 1.3 billion people who willingly or unwillingly, pursued the Olympic dream for 7 years.

The rise of China at the Olympics over the last 2-3 decades has coincided with its rise as a world power and the spread of its medal haul mirrors its growing influence across the world – from Asia to Africa to South America and the US, in technology, military, economy and culture.

Sure there is poverty, suppression of freedom and all that, and the images at the Olympics were made for TV but you can’t hide everything, not with a population of 1.3 billion. The people of China seem to value national pride more than freedom and democracy, and don’t seem too bothered about it – you can’t lose what you don’t have.

One can imagine what would have happened in India where every Tom, Dick and Harry would have come out in protest of something or the other - Arundhati Roy furthering some agenda of hers, some political party trying to get free TV, TV pundits commenting about how India should not do this in the midst of its many social problems and poverty, how the money could have been spent elsewhere, sports commentators crying hoarse about how other sports are finally getting their due while impatiently waiting for the 2 weeks to be over so that they could start talking Cricket again.

In contrast, the focus of the Chinese is amazing, it is a country that wants to be at the top of the world order and looks like its there. It’s as if the Chinese people are saying to the world, “we will bother about freedom later, first let’s win the world” and that is a fantastic attitude to have, an amazing people for a country to have.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Asus eee PC 1000H First Impressions

Sunday, August 24, 2008 3 comments Share: Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Facebook

I usually go for pimped out, high performance configurations for my laptops/PCs (still remember the time when my graphics card had double the RAM of my new office desktop) but as I am growing older, gaming has taken a backseat and the most important criteria has become mobility and weight. Not mine (which is also a slight concern), my computer's :-). I figured something in the 1 Kilo range would be perfect but there weren't a lot of options that were cost effective.

Last year, Asus released a laptop with a 7 inch screen, less than 1 Kg, capable of doing basic stuff, connecting to the Internet, etc. I figured, why the hell would someone want to use something that small, but soon it ended up creating a "new"
category of notebooks or mini-notebooks or netbooks. Newer versions were released, the latest coming with 9 and 10 inch screens. And I thought, let's have a look.

I had a few options, the Asus eee PC 900A and 901, MSI Wind, Akoya Mini 1210, HP's mini note. Dell and Lenovo were to release their mini notebooks. I cannot buy unreleased notebooks, HP's version was a bit too expensive, 9 inch screens and cramped keyboards were not really to my liking (900A, 901) so it came down to two options:
1. Asus eee PC 1000H
2. MSI Wind

I checked out MSI Wind at a local store and what I liked about it: sooooooo light, about 1 Kg, it was sexy, I think it had a matte finish, great bright screen, built-in 1.3 megapixel webcam. Wifi G.
What I didn't like: 3 cell battery (couple of hours estimated), the keyboard, the touchpad had 1 button which could be pressed either side for functionality of a standard touchpad.
About 429 Euros. Could buy it on the spot from the shop.
Great pick especially for the 1 Kg.

I checked out Asus eee PC 1000H online and what I liked about it was the keyboard, touchpad (2 buttons) and multi-touch functionality that can be further expanded with newer drivers, a screen brighter than other laptops I have seen, built-in webcam, 6 cell battery (4-5 hours estimated), Free 10 GB online storage with 5 GB daily download limit. Wifi N
What I didn't like: 1.45 Kg weight.
About 449 Euros. The online shop (www.laptopshop.nl) said they would deliver next business day!!

I was confused because I really wanted a light laptop but also good battery life. I asked IP and told her about my dilemma. She heard me out a couple of times and I tried to explain to her that I was telling her so I could reason it out with her and eliminate one of the options. The dilemma wouldn't go away and she could not be bothered about the names of the notebooks anymore - she named them notebook with the "3 cell battery" and "6 cell battery" - and said go for the 6 cell battery. No, she doesn't like extra cells :-) but last few months, she has been struggling with the battery life of her laptop and has realised how important it is.

So Asus eee PC 1000H it was and here are some unboxing photos like they show in all those wonderful gadget sites.

The eee PC 1000H was delivered next day as promised, free of cost - thanks to www.laptopshop.nl

Front



eeePC 1000H - sexy, black





eeePC 1000H - back, not the greatest butt :-) but it's ok



eeePC 1000H - Open, there's a tiny webcam at the top, looks nice and compact



The keyboard is decent sized, not great but better than all other mini notebooks out there


Left side: Network, USB, Headsets



Right side: SD card reader, 2 USB ports, Monitor?





Specifications:
Intel Atom N270 @1.6 GHz, 1 GB RAM, 10" LED backlit monitor, 80GB HDD, 3 USB ports, Built-in 1.3 MP Webcam, Bluetooth
Accessories:

A nice pouch, cleaning cloth (?), the power brick is like a power pebble - it is really small

Here's a quick review of Asus eee PC 1000H, my initial thoughts after a day of use.

First Impressions
Body

When I got it out of the protective packaging, I thought, wow this is quite light, maybe the extra 450 grams won't hurt that much. Then I put it down and first thing I noticed were my fingerprints. Ouch. If you own one and plan on committing a crime, make sure there are no prints because the lightest touch will leave something for the Law & Order and CSI people to pick you up. This one is fingerprint magnet and I reached out for the supplied cleaning cloth. How very thoughtful of Asus :-)

It has glossy black body, really attractive, feels light yet sturdy. When you put it down and insert the 6 cell battery, the back is a bit raised which I don't really like as it tilts the keyboard slightly. The ports are as advertised, I am yet to use them all to see if they work but I can trust Asus on that (I will verify soon). The power connector is to the right instead of the back. I hate it but it is just a preference thing - I like the power connector on the back, left side.

On the screen frame is a webcam, that didn't come across as great quality but it is built-in meaning NO CABLES :-) Love that. But I don't think it will be of much use to me.

Good: Light, sexy looking
Bad: Fingerprint magnet
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Screen, Keyboard, Touchpad

Screen is awesome, one of the brightest I have ever seen, 10 inch doesn't feel all that small after a day of use and the 1024x600 resolution is handy, can't ask for more from a laptop this tiny.

The keyboard feels nice, has a good feel to it. It is not full size or even the size of standard laptops. I type quite fast so placement of keys is everything, and I don't really like the keyboard because of the size of the right shift key, I keep hitting page-up, lack of a dedicated Home key, why the hell must one use Fn + left for Home?? Considering that I won't be using the 1000H all the time, I can live with that and I definitely will not be able to type as fast as I usually do.

The touchpad is good size, I miss dedicated scroll bars but I thought that the touchpad drivers can compensate for that but it doesn't. So no scrolling with the touchpad. It is said to be multi-touch, which means it can detect multiple touches to it and can have functionality specific to it. While I didn't try out everything, I noticed that moving 2 fingers over the touchpad scrolls up and down and 3 fingers from left to right. Scratch what I said up there about "no scrolling with the touchpad" because you can.

There is more functionality, but I will try it out in the next few days. The mouse buttons are horribly hard, it feels like I will need another 1.45 Kg 1000H to press it. Ok, exaggeration, but it is not fun to use. The touchpad itself is nice, multi-touch functionality will make it even more interesting but horrible buttons.

Good: Really bright screen, Keyboard feels nice, Touchpad is smooth and multi-touch can be very interesting

Bad: Some keys I am used to are missing, right shift key is small, mouse buttons are hard to press
Rating: 4 out of 5

Performance
The 1000H came with XP Home NL version and the desktop was ready to use in 35 seconds with the installed configuration. That is VERY FAST. I later removed XP Home and installed nLite with XP Pro SP3 and software for making the 1000H functional, i.e. Codecs, BSPlayer, Pidgin, Firefox, IE 7, Crazy Browser, Opera, Crap Cleaner, GIMP that I will soon replace with Paint.NET, Tweak UI, NOD32 AV, etc. The boot up time was 1 minute 2 seconds, much slower than than the original 35 seconds but still quite fast. NOD32 is taking up quite a few seconds but need an Antivirus.

The 1000H feels snappy, windows come up quickly, even Windows Media Player and Firefox. More open windows slow things down a little, i.e. about 3-4 applications, so it is not great if you multi task a lot, i.e. someone like me. Still, it was fast enough for the price and I have no complaints.

Good: Snappy performance, good boot up time
Bad: Does not multi-task well
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Sound, Connectivity - Edited

Sound on this little notebook is good, better than the Dell D630 I have, it has Dolby surround effect, not that I care much for it, but it sounds good. Will be fun to listen to music on this one. Bluetooth is standard and I haven't tested it. The notebook comes with "Wireless N" which is really great unlike competing notebooks who mostly offer Wireless G. This will mean that in the next few months, I can upgrade my network and as IP says "matlab, aur kharcha". Wifi range is good, it can pick up signals better than the Dell and so far no issues encountered.

Accessories, Others

The 1000H came with a nice pouch and a cleaning cloth which will be put to a lot of use. The pouch is big enough to hold the 1000H, power cord/supply which is really small and light, a small mouse and a CD or two.

The software bundle was decent - Star Office, NOD32 AV, software for the Webcam. It also has a free subscription to Asus' eeeStorage online service with 10 GB of free online storage. This is an additional value of about 10$ per month when you compare with other online services.

Final thoughts

A snappy laptop, great size and weight, decent performance and reasonably comfortable to work with if you ignore the odd placement of some keys and its affinity to fingerprints. Comes with a decent software bundle and accessories. A good buy especially if you get it in the range of about 400 Euros. Free 10GB online storage is an icing on the cake.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Comic #221: Bahadur - Operation Cancer - Independence Day Release

Wednesday, August 13, 2008 17 comments Share: Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Facebook

I haven't been around much, work keeps me busy but don't feel productive, still trying to deal with some big changes and return to active blogging as in the past is proving to be very difficult.

But
15th August is around the corner, Abhinav Bindra has won an Individual Gold at the Olympics (Congratulations) and TCP posts a Bahadur comic :-)

Btw..the record collector failed to fire AGAIN in 3 tests straight, so do the other Jeetendra's of Indian cricket (30 plus if you remember the ads), i.e. Umrao Jaan, the wall that collapses in heavy rains lately, Sona Chandi Chyawanprash.

Sania Mirza hehe and I feel bad to say AGAIN. She's been a big flop show for as long as this blog remembers, but then she's got other things going for her. And she was injured. Maaf.

I also saw a comment that said TCP figured in a Magazine at Sahar airport but no chance of me laying my hands on it. It is strange that there have been mentions about the blog during the time it was very active AND I HAVEN'T seen a single one :-) Anyway, screw that and let's enjoy the comic, freshly scanned.

Hope you enjoy this comic.

COVER
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