I recently installed Ubuntu 12.04 on my Ubuntu G780 laptop which came with Windows 8. It was relatively painless. I downloaded the ISO image and created the CD. Most online articles recommended disabling secure boot from your BIOS. This was easy to do from the BIOS menu. I also had to change BIOS setting to start from CD drive first. This setting does not seem to be reverted back to its old value once you boot into Windows. Every time I had to try booting from CD I had to change this setting.
After booting from CD the initial menu was garbled. No text was visible. Since I knew the first option was try Ubuntu without installing I just hit enter. Ubuntu booted fine and everything worked. I could use Wi-Fi without problem. So next time I booted the CD, I pressed down arrow once and pressed enter. This is the install option. After that the screen worked fine. Installation was a breeze. Ubuntu worked great. But Windows was gone. I could not boot into Windows.
The error was something about invalid EFI. Googling it pointed to some boot repair commands to run from Ubuntu. Just running those commands added some boot menu options. There are about 10 choices now. I have to choose “Windows UEFI Recovery” to boot into windows. As long as dual boot works I do not mind the name. I am sure with grub I can rename them. But it works and I want to leave it alone for now.
I recently switched to Virgin Mobile USA. Their plans are cheaper compared to any of the monthly contract plans in all carriers. But the phone selection in Virgin Mobile sucks. I wanted to wait for Virgin to get one of the latest smart phones before switching to data plan. So for the time being I got a Samsung Montage. This phone was mostly like my previous LG Rumor 2. But some simple “features” are making this phone suck compare to LG Rumor 2 which came 3 years back. Only good thing in Montage is the screen.
First the annoying beeps. If you miss a call or SMS it will keep beeping until you dismiss the notification. This becomes very annoying if you receive text in the middle of the night. You might want to keep the phone in silence mode when you are sleeping. But then you loose your alarm. That brings to the next feature.
The alarm rings (with sound) even if you set your phone to Vibrate all or Silence all. So if you have forgotten to turn off alarms in addition to setting the phone in vibrate mode and you are in a meeting when the alarm goes off you might get embarrassed.
For an incoming call you can quickly silence the phone by pressing any button on the phone. It is easy to do with volume control buttons. But when an alarm sounds you cannot silence it by pressing any buttons if the keys are locked. So if you want to snooze or turn off an alarm you need to unlock the keys and then dismiss the alarm.
Now if you leave the alarm untouched when it goes off, it keeps going for about a minute and then snoozes itself. After it snoozes guess what the phone does? It starts the beeps.
Bluetooth has some problem. I cannot pin point exactly what is causing the problem or reproduce the problem consistently. I tried connecting the phone to my car bluetooth. It connected fine for the first time. Later when I got out of the car the phone was totally powered off. This happened twice. After switching on, the phone worked fine. When bluetooth worked I was able to make and receive calls through bluetooth connection. But the battery seems to be draining fast and needs charging every day when bluetooth is enabled. My old phone worked for at least two days without charging. It had bluetooth always on.
I was following the tutorial at bitbucket to setup SSH for git. When setting up .bashrc file with the code shown in the tutorial I got the error “syntax error near unexpected token `then”. This was happening when bashrc was being run. I could not understand why. Google search did not help much. It turned out that there was some problem with file format. If I edited the file using vim directly in the console there were lots of unknown characters before the beginning of each line. After deleting all those characters bashrc worked fine. I am not sure where those extra characters came from. I used vim to edit bashrc in windows 7. I also tried changing the file format from dos to unix which did not help.
In addition to editing the file directly I also had to add the line “eval `ssh-agent`” to make ssh-add work. I found this eval solution at this blog.
If Android SDK complains about not finding JDK, you need to set environment variable JAVA_HOME to the path of JDK. The path for JDK is something like C:Program FilesJavajdk1.7.0_04. When setting the environment variable do not use quotes around the path. Setting this made the SDK continue install on my win 7, 64-bit system.
Here is a clip I found at Google news. Three different sources are reporting in 3 different directions.
Four different teams combined together to break the 10% improvement for movie rating predictions. They currently show 10.05% improvement over Netflix’s own solution. According to the rules, there is a one month period until Jul 26, 2009, for anyone to submit a prediction that will be considered for the prize. I think many more teams might now try to blend together their results.
I updated recently my Android developer phone to Android version 1.5. The images and instructions were available from HTC. The update was very easy to do and took less than 30 minutes. There were lots of improvements. Video recording is a notable feature. Camera starts much faster. I like the changes in call log. Earlier I managed to make an unintentional call from the call log almost every other day. Now they have clearly added a call icon to the left and the actual contact to the right. This alone saves me a lot of head ache. The on-screen keyboard is some times useful when you want to type text using one hand. But I found it much harder to type without mistakes. The keys are too small for my finger. A stylus is needed to accurately press the keys. It is always much easier to use the keyboard.
The battery meter seems to be broken. When the phone is being charged it seems to take forever to get to 100%. Before the update it took less than 2 hours to get to 100%. I tried disabling various features like wifi and GPS without any effect on the charging speed. I finally turned off the phone when it was around 70%. When I turned the phone back on immediately it showed 100%. I need to find a solution to this problem. I am also not sure whether the charge is lasting longer. But many people at XDA developers forum who have noticed the same problem claim to have longer lasting charge in 1.5.
I wish the music player app had a way to create your own playlist. I can’t seem to find a way. The players found in the market seem to have lots of features. But all I need is a simple player where I can define my own playlist.
If there was a face off with some one with another smart phone, I could claim earlier that I had super user access on the phone with the Terminal client. Now with 1.5 that is gone. You can get it only with USB connection as a security precaution. Still I like to have a phone were I control almost everything. You do not want to buy a house where the seller controls the door and decides who gets in.
Some menu choices seem to be slightly different for the browser. Other than that I do not see any visual difference. I do not have a data plan. So I have not yet tried GPS services, the new home screen widgets or speech recognition. I also loved the way the phone worked with web. I got a phone number in yahoo email. When reading the mail in the browser the phone number was highlighted. When I touched it the dialer opened and from there I could add the number as a new contact. I was actually looking for a pencil to write down the phone number and then add it to the contacts by opening it separately. Interfaces are supposed to work like that. This feature was probably there in Android 1.0 itself. I wish Android came with built-in Exchange push support like I-Phone.
You can check out the full Release features for 1.5 at http://source.android.com/release-features.
Calling cards must be a cut throat business. I have been using them for a long time to call India from USA. The rates are now nearly 10 times lower since I came to USA. I did use Reliance India call when it first started. I think it was around 10c per minute when it started. Then I switched to pingo which offered around 6c per minute. Currently this is 4.5c/minute. I also briefly used linq when the rate was around 5c. Now I switched to Pinless where the rate is 2.2c for mobile and 2.5c for landlines. The quality is good and the lines are available most of the time.
Recently some one pointed to me to Airtel Call Home which advertised 1c per minute. When I looked at the page their idea of the price calculation of 1c looks ridiculous. It goes roughly like this. You charge $x amount. Then you subtract an arbitrary $y from that. Then you calculate the rate per minute using ($x-$y)/total minutes. They call $y as the rental fee. You can make this any amount so that your final rate comes out as 1c per minute. Why do I care how much is $y? This is bad business practice. If their service is good they should be able to put $x/total minutes which is the real rate I am getting for the money I pay. Reliance India Call also seem to be following this practice and has put in a 1c per minute feature. Reliance calls their $y as administrative fee.
It may be just a marketing tactic and did made me notice their site. But I got back with a bad impression and I will think twice before buying anything from Airtel or Reliance. Who knows what other hidden charges might be there in their fine print.
It is always a delight to watch Amber chess tournament. They have a simple nice website with all the information needed easily accessible. If you go to the home page you will get the day’s results. If you click on the Games section you will get a link to the live games. The page which has the applet with live games also does not show any other distracting images. But I wish it was accessible from the front page with one click. They have added twitter and audio commentary this time. Click on each of the sections Scores, Schedule etc. you get exactly what you expect, simple and clean. You might think what is the big deal. But it is always a pain to try to watch games from any other big chess tournament. I don’t know how they can make a mess out of displaying 64 squares and simple 1-0 or 0.5 scores.
Amber must be very enjoyable for the players also. They can play without worrying about their ratings and for a good prize money. And of course you will get to see the occasional human side of these giants by some rare blunders.
Viswanathan Anand has given an interview to Outlook India. When he was talking about his first computer usage, he mentioned,
At the beginning I was totally proficient in using the mouse upside down. I had no idea. I had just started using the mouse in reverse and I found it moved. He was absolutely impressed that I could do it perfectly, I had no issues whatsoever. I was just doing it upside down.
This was very funny. It reminded me of my own embarrassing moments when I was first introduced to the computer.