Wednesday 26 December 2007

Time management

Every morning I wake up and say to myself, 'There are 16 more hours of the day left so I have plenty of time for everything I want to do today'. But by the time the day ends I realize that I have managed to do hardly 25% of the things I wanted to..... I just don't understand where does time fly ....
I need to learn time management.........................................................................

Friday 21 December 2007

ALSA pains

They say that ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) is the future for multimedia sound systems in linux. But somehow, I am yet to see a fully functional and elegantly installed ALSA system. The problem is not installation of the basic system but upgrading it. More than once, I have seen ALSA just falling apart during an upgrade. First, it happened with my Suse. But I was doing a manual upgrade back then. Yesterday, I did an automated upgrade of my kubuntu (I wanted to play with adept and friends), and ALSA just broke. And this time it wasn't me.... I did what adept suggested me to do
Invariably I ended up compiling my own ALSA which is a PITA. Anyways, Now I have a working sound system but for some reason flash plugin has been muted. God knows how to fix that. I believe flash plugins use esd instead of alsa or oss. And I have absolutely no experience with esd. In fact I never had it installed on my box (but my flash had sound until yesterday). One thing is clear though ... youtube is not all that fun without sound...

P.S.
Meanwhile to all those who are suffering because of unavailability of 64 bit Flash player and Java plugins, here is the simplest way to get it.It simply installs a 32 bit browser and related plugins. The best thing about it is all you need to do is answer a few questions. This should keep us happy till the official 64 bit software is out.

Saturday 15 December 2007

32 or 64?

Let me accept that. I had always fancied 64 bit processors. 16 billion billion .... Theoretically thats the maximum integer they can handle. How many of us can even imagine a number that big. In fact, the reason why I have 64 bit processor in my lappy is ..... it is 64 bit :-D

But I must say, the world is still not prepared for it yet. And also may be as individuals people like me never really need that kind of processing capability, at least not in near future (I should take a defensive stance here... even god almighty may not predict future of technology considering the mind boggling speed it is advancing at). Anyways, the point which I am trying to make is you may have a 64bit processors but they may still be no better their good old 32bit counterparts. For two reasons :

1. How many applications really need 64bit processing ?
2. Even if they do, do we have a enough softwares around ?

Though I am not a expert in microprocessors and do not how exactly a 64 bit processor functions, but I cannot think of a particular application that is made for a normal PC user and requires really great processing power in terms of word size. What does a normal PC user need ? Word-processors, Spread sheets, Mediaplayers, Internet....I can't think of anything more. Multimedia is probably the only field where we may use 64bit processors to actually enhance performance. I will not include the networking applications here because the available bandwidth is still a more important issue than the processing power of the equipment, in my opinion.

And as a result of this, we still don't see many 64bit applications around. Most of them are probably recompiled versions of the same source code. Because I do not see any significant performance gain in general... In fact, just a few days back I realized that Adobe Flash Player does not have a 64 bit distribution (not at least in GNU/Linux, I don't know about Windows) and they haven't yet given any expected date of its release either. In fact, I haven't seen many Windows 64 bit distributions around. And I daresay, the only reason for having a lot of 64bit GNU/Linux distros is that most of GNU/Linux users happen to be geeks or techo-freaks.

All this makes me wonder whether it makes any sense to put in more and more bits in the wordsize ? Won't it be rather useful to have more cores and more processors. Because we definitely need more parallel-processing power. As I type this, I have at least five applications running on my desktop in addition to all those daemons running in background.

Intel, AMD, Sun.......... I am waiting for quad-core PCs.

Comments, Criticisms are welcome....

P.S.
I cannot think of a good title for this post.... I will appreciate if someone can help me with that

P.P.S.

Day by day,the length of my post has been increasing. May be I have started liking blogging or may be I just love writing about technology :-D

Tuesday 11 December 2007

Alvida Suse

Suse had been my preferred linux distro for last three years. Though there were a lot of things I did not like, it was only distribution other than Fedora and Mandrake which had entire off-line RPM based installation kit. People who have grown up without internet or with dial-up network (whose optimal connection speed does not shoot above 128Kbps) will understand importance of having an offline installation kit. I usually find Suse much intuitive and easy than Fedora. But I should agree that I never had any opportunity to use Mandrake. But Suse had its drawbacks. I think their release cycle is slow and they for some reason do not distribute RPMs of a lot of popular softwares. In fact, I found that Suse RPMs are most defficult to get (if Novell themselves do not distribute them). And if you are using a x86_64... God bless you.

I had made up my mind to replace Suse with kubuntu but was being lazy to do so. The final nail in Suse's coffin came when I decided to update my Suse distribution including the kernel. I was expecteing graphics drivers and Alsa ro break (because I had custom-compiled them) but no that was not enough. My wireless lan (I was usinf ndiswrapper) collapsed. Despite reinstalling Alsa, Amarok kept crashing. And today evening,even my ethernet went down. It wasn't really a problem in Suse, but I had a scapegoat already infamous for previous crashes :-D

So finally my favourite distribution of three years was laid to rest. I installed kubuntu. The main reason being large user base (which just increased by one :-) ) and ease of updating and maintaining stuff.....

So here I am, writing this post from freshly installed kubuntu system. The most amazing thing about linux systems is if you just keep your /home and / on separate partitions, you can just keep changing the distros without affecting any of your personalize settings. I still do not understand why Windows does not allow to have "documents and settings" folder on separate partition. It will save Windows use a lot of trouble. Not that I care about it... Just a passing thought.

Alvida Suse...May your soul rest in peace....

Saturday 8 December 2007

Chaiiiiiiiiii

I just realized that the university dairy store (besides cheap and yummy Ice-creams) also serves chai tea (i.e. Indian tea with milk and cream). And to my surprise it is good in all terms of acceptability.
I never really appreciated this amazing drink due to its over abundance India. But now coming to think of it, I realize how I miss tea. Somehow the black coffee (which is the "default" coffee here) doesn't appeal to me.
Oh how I missed chai.....

Thursday 6 December 2007

Swiftweasel

For quite a some time I was looking for a 64 bit version of firefox/iceweasel. Though I did not find any, I found this and this. I decided to experiment with swiftweasel. And I must say it does run a bit faster. The difference is not too much. But some websites do load few milliseconds faster. If you test with something like google.com you will never feel the difference. So choose your test cases wisely. Besides, It also has many customizable features, which are attractive.
One small issue (which may not be an issue, who knows) is that the 64bit version is compiled for AMD Athelon and I have Turion X2 (64 bit dual core). The websites recommends Athelon64 build for AMD 64x2. But I am curious to know if a fully custom build can still save me a few milliseconds....