Digit Magazine - December 2002 Issue

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                    ON THE CD
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TIPS & TRICKS                     over a hundred reasons to not upgrade
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     8                                                                                                   DECEMBER 2002
index I
                I   colophon

VOLUME 2, ISSUE 12                                                                                                    ADVERTISERS’ INDEX

Chairman Jasu Shah                                          Write Back                                      CLIENT                              PAGE
Printer, Publisher and Editor                               Got feedback on Digit or                        3M . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .97
Maulik Jasubhai
                                                            www.thinkdigit.com? Have something to say       AMD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13
He a d - Publications & Web sites
Louis D’Mello                                               about an article we published?                  ASUS . . . . . . . . . .75,77,79,81
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Editorial
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Head - Writer Marco D’Souza
W riters Veer Kothari, Ahmed Shaikh,
                                                                                                            Elnova . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .110
Rachana Sanghani, Srinivasan                                                                                Gigabyte . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59
Ramakrishnan
                                         Product Testing                                                    HP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18,19
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              16                                                                                                                    DECEMBER 2002
        pulse I
                    I   news




        hypethesis                           Internet on the roof                                                        Playing a new tune
         Pixie Dust
         I What is it?
         Pixie Dust is an indigenious
         technology that IBM uses to
                                             S   oon, a hundred lucky
                                                 households in Cardiff,
                                             Wales, will live the broadband
                                                                                    antennas that lock onto other
                                                                                    antennas, each mini base sta -
                                                                                    tion achieves nearly a 100 per
                                                                                                                         F  or all MUSICMATCH fans,
                                                                                                                            here is a reason to rejoice—
                                                                                                                         MUSICMATCH Jukebox 7.5
         pack data on a portable             dream and, perhaps, a glimpse          cent cover. If a station goes        (www.musicmatch.com) has just
         hard drive. IBM developed           into the broadband future—               down, recovery is easy—            been released. The latest ver-
         this new technology a year          movies on demand,                                come back on and           sion brings with it new online
         ago, and all IBM notebooks          broadcast      quality                              lock into the           jukebox technology that
         integrate this technology           video chats and                                       neighbour’s           allows for effortless transfer to
         into their hard disks.              d o w n l o a d                                       antenna.              portable devices, lesser time to
                                             speeds at 4                                                M o s t          create custom CDs and
         I How does it work?                 Mbps. This                                             broadband            advanced music tagging and
         IBM uses a home grown data          new service is                                         users in India       labelling that will help you
         storage technology called           based       on                                        suffer because        quickly and effortlessly add
         the antiferromagnetically-          Mesh radio, a                                             there are too     track information for digital
         coupled (AFC) media. Pixie          high capacity wire-                                      many sub-          audio files using the compa-
         Dust is a three-atom-thick          less network. Unlike                            scribers and too little     ny’s Radio MX subscription
         layer of the element Rutheni-       conventional wire -                            bandwidth. In this           service. It also comes with a
         um. The Ruthenium element           less networking services,                  radical new system, Mesh         sleeker, easy-to-use interface.
         forces adjacent layers to ori-      this one turns every end user’s        radio will not slow down                  Though MUSICMATCH
         ent themselves in magneti-          house into a mini base sta -           when a lot of people access it       decided to stop supporting the
         cally opposite directions. This     tion. With four directional            at the same time.                    Mac version late in October,
         makes the structure appear                                                                                      this one carries support for
         much thinner than it actually                                                                                   quick-syncing the Apple iPod
         is—so small that high-density
         bits can be written easily on        SMS causes divorce                                                         for Windows operating sys -
                                                                                                                         tems. It still has syncing sup -
         it, while retaining the mag-                                                                                    port for all the popular
         netisation due to the media’s
         overall thickness.                   W       ith the rapid accept-
                                                      ance of cell phones by
                                              the Indian middle
                                                                                    With all the heat on the ill
                                                                                    effects of wireless telephony
                                                                                    being focussed on the radia -
                                                                                                                         portable MP3 players, includ -
                                                                                                                         ing the Nomad Jukebox. Ver-
                                                                                                                         sion 7.5 also lets you create
         I What can it do?                    class, the newest cause                 tion emitted from mobile           full-colour CD labels and
         IBM is now packing five lay-         for concern is marital                     devices, this is one of the     jewel case inserts for all of
         ers of Pixie Dust, allowing          disharmony, claims the                        first protests of its        your custom CDs.
         up to 70 billion bits of data        National      Human                            kind against the
         to be written on each square
         inch of disk space, up from
                                              Rights Council. The
                                              group burned a cellu-
                                                                                             spread of SMS. The
                                                                                               Council argues that
                                                                                                                         snapshot
         40 billion bits. IBM predicts
         that it will achieve 100 billion
                                              lar phone in
                                              protest in a
                                                                                                 the brief, yet
                                                                                                 effective language
                                                                                                                           89% of internation-
         bits per square inch in 2003.        demonstration in                                  used in SMS sparks         al e-commerce users
         The Travelstar 80GN series of        New Delhi on                                     discord       among         base their buying
         mobile hard disks have               November          11,                            married couples.
         proven reliability with high         2002. Subhash Gupta,                            Perhaps cause for            decisions on transac-
         shock robustness and low             the group leader,                             concern rises from the         tion security, while
         power consumption. 8 MB
         cache makes it the world’s
                                              alleges that SMS is
                                              against     Indian
                                                                                            nature of SMS, where
                                                                                            one can chat with just
                                                                                                                           59% base theirs on
         highest performing 4200-             culture and has                                 about        anybody         price
         rpm mobile hard drive.               resulted in a rather                               using a mobile
                                              large number of divorces.                           phone.                 Source: WorldPay eCommerce Survey


I New   research proves computing causes strain and lethargy I Mitch Kapor, co-founder of Lotus Development, to build a free, open-source equivalent of MS Outlook



                  20                                                                                                                      DECEMBER 2002
101 reasons to switch to Mozilla                                                                                  redalert
W       ord on the street is that
        there are 101 things
that Mozilla can do
                                      community, Mozilla is a
                                      standalone     open
                                            browser created by
                                                              source
                                                                              multiple windows through
                                                                              tabs and the inability to block
                                                                              popup ads. Other grievences
                                                                                                                  Roron
                                                                                                                  A new worm called Roron or
                                                                                                                  Oror.B could help hackers
that Internet                                  Mozilla.org. Deakin            include the lack of people-         control home computers. It
Explorer 6 can-                                though       cautions          friendly tools such as the abil-    can spread through e-mail,
not. The list                                 against reading too             ity to zoom text, save plugins      shared drives and the KaZaA
that has been                                much into his list—              while saving a Web page,            network. Each copy of the
filtering through                             quite a few of the              adding detailed information         virus contains several hacker
programmer news-                                     items on the             about bookmarks and the abil-       tools that let an infected
groups and discussion                                  list are long          ity to block images from third-     computer be controlled by
forums was created by                                  time grouses           party sites. There is also addi -   messages from Internet Relay
Neal Deakin, a 28-                                   against Inter-           tional mention of user-friend-      Chat (IRC). Once Roron
year-old resident                               net Explorer, such as         ly cookie management, easy          infects a system, it spreads by
of     Toronto,                                      the lack of              password management, form           creating e-mail messages
Canada. Popu-                                          being able to          filling, better security and the    with different subject lines
lar with the                                           navigate               claim of being able to run          and names for the attached
open       source                                      through                straight off a CD or a network.     file. Once opened, Roron
                                                                                                                  copies itself to several folders,
                                                                                                                  including those used to share
Philips joins the DVD format war                                              Mac-ing it easy                     files on the KaZaA network,
                                                                                                                  as well as to any shared hard

E   arly in November 2002,
    Philips Electronics annou-
nced that it has developed a
                                      speeds of up to 8x. Philips
                                      holds the key patents and
                                      stands to obtain significant
                                                                              I  f you are a PC user moving
                                                                                 towards a Mac, this is just
                                                                                              the software
                                                                                                                  drives on a network. Finally,
                                                                                                                  Roron installs a backdoor into
                                                                                                                  the PC that lets remote
new DVD Writer in an                         revenues from licens -                           and hardware        attackers run attack tools.
effort to promote the                        ing, should DVD+RW                               combination         Though Kapersky Labs
DVD+RW          format.                      become a dominant for-                           that could ease     attaches high risk to the
Philips debuted the                          mat in the near future.                          the transition.     virus, Symantec rates Roron
main meat of a pro -                         The     company      will                        Move2Mac            as only two on its threat scale
posed DVD+RW drive                           license and sell compo -                         comes with a                         /
                                                                                                                  of five. Updating your anti-
that has an integrated                       nents for the drives and         lot of software and a cus-          virus software should take
chipset, optical pickup unit          hopes to see manufacturers              tomised USB cable that lets         care of the virus.
and a reference design. The           making them available in the            PC users move many of their
drive claims to record at             first half of 2003.                     files and settings into a Mac-      Fishy on Linux
                                                                              intosh running the new OS           Backdoor.Bofishy.C is a Trojan

statattack                                      INFOGRAPHICS:   Jaya Shetty
                                                                              X. The software will also let
                                                                              you keep your background
                                                                                                                  that affects the libpcap packet
                                                                                                                  capture library and the tcp-
                                                                              pictures, by transferring them      dump sniffer on Unix and
                                                                              onto the Mac.                       Linux systems. It comes as
                                                                                   Detto Technologies, the        modified source packages
                                                                              developers of this software,        that create a backdoor during
                                                                              reportedly received no fund -       their installation that gives the
                                                                              ing from Apple, though              attacker access to a shell on
                                                                              Apple intends to carry it into      the local computer. Users and
                                                                              their retail store. Apart from      administrators are advised to
                                                                              Internet settings, files and        turn off unnecessary services,
                                                                              contacts, the other things          patch all running software
                                                                              such as pictures and music          with the latest updates, espe-
                                                                              are automatically moved into        cially Internet services and
                                                                              the right location on the new       configure e-mail servers to
                                                                              Mac, without much tinker-           block or remove e-mail that
                                                                              ing. With Apple’s new cam -         contains file attachments that
                                                                              paign focussing on luring PC        are commonly used to spread
                                                                              users to the Mac platform, it       viruses, such as vbs, bat, exe,
                                                                              appears that the scales may         pif and scr files.
                                                                              just have been tilted!


 I AOL   offers instant messaging servers and clients to businesses I Japanese firm develops technology to transfer data via handsets at 10 Mbps


           21                                                                                                                     DECEMBER 2002
    pulse I
                  I   news

     A leaking keyboard                   followup                                                                           heroes
                                           Symantec deletes more than spam
    I  n what looks like an amaz-
       ing security goof up, an HP
     wireless keyboard user in Nor-
                                           Users of Symantec’s Norton
                                           Internet Security 2003 have
                                                                                  ory allocation errors that lead
                                                                                  to e-mail deletions. For such
                                                                                                                      Supercomputing
                                                                                                                      On November 4, more than
                                                                                                                      1,000 computers across
     way discovered that what he           discovered that the software           e-mail, all that appeared in        Canada were wired up to
     typed into his screen appeared        causes e-mail to be deleted                   the inbox was a cryptic      create a huge networked
     on a friend’s monitor, some           before it reaches the                                message with          supercomputer, used to
     150 metres away—supposedly            user’s inbox.                                         ‘Symantec E-mail     model the interaction of two
     far out of range and blocked          Symantec says                                         Proxy Deleted        molecules in 20,000 different
     by at least two solid walls.          that the flaw                                            Message’ in       positions and measure the
     With HP and the user initially        comes from the                                           the subject       energy bonds which this cre-
                                           anti-spam fea-                                           line.             ates—a single desktop would
                                           ture in the                                                   The prob-    take over six years for this.
                                           software that                                            lem faced by
                                           tags suspect-                                            Norton’s cus-     Tablet PC
                                           ed spam, and           Illustrations: Farzana Cooper     tomers is simi-   Microsoft has signed deals
                                           has fixed the problem with                     lar to what many Hot-       with top publishers Forbes,
                                           a patch. If the user had a large       mail account users face, with       Financial Times , New Yorker,
                                           volume of mail arriving or if          strict spam filters in place.       Slate, France’s Les Echoes and
                                           the client was frequently              Hotmail follows a very strict       Germany’s Wirtschafts Woche
                                           checking e-mail, then Norton           policy of blocking all the mail     to help make the Tablet PC
     assuming that this was a one-         Spam Alert would cause mem-            from offending ISPs.                more popular. A trial set of
     off fault with that particular                                                                                   the magazines should be
     keyboard, they settled on a                                                                                      available for download in
     replacement.      Even
     replacement, the keyboard
                                 after
                                         Blockbusters on the Net                                                      2003.

     signals still reach across 150
     metres! HP is now considering
     doing field tests to ascertain
                                         Y   ou could soon be buying
                                             and legally downloading
                                         movies from the Internet, or
                                                                                 the movie is. Once down -
                                                                                 loaded, it will remain for 30
                                                                                 days on the hard drive, though
                                                                                                                             zeroes
     the reasons behind it.              so hope five of the major stu-          once you have started to play
                                                                                                                      Digital voting
         HP has sold some 65,000         dios in Hollywood. Sony Pic -           the movie it will remain only
     wireless keyboards in Europe                                                for 24 hours. Moreover, it can-      America is pioneering digi-
     and a smaller number in                                                     not be transferred to any other      tal voting, but security chal-
     North America. What is wor-                                                 device, and this they hope will      lenges seem far too many.
     rying is the fact that such a                                               curb trading of movies over          Large-scale fraud, like vote-
     strong signal gives the users                                               the Internet via P2P networks        buying and selling, are sim-
     no control over who receives        tures, MGM, Paramount Pic -             such as KaZaA and Morpheus.          pler on a computer that is
     it, compromising on their           tures, Warner Brothers and              This service is operational only     vulnerable to hackers and
     security. Already, it is possible   Universal Pictures have joined          in the US right now and dial-        viruses. Moreover, the soft-
     to illegally intercept signals      together and announced tech-            up users are strongly discour-       ware used for voting pur-
     emitted from them, but in           nology partnerships with                aged. While it is an interesting     poses is proprietary and the
     this case, the device is literal-   Microsoft and RealNetworks to           concept, it does have its prob-      vendors control it, leaving
     ly beaming the signals far          jumpstart movie-rental servic-          lems. Firstly, you could rent        its accuracy to question.
     and wide, singing away to all       es on the Net. Industry execu-          DVDs and keep them for at
     and sundry!                         tives are ecstatic at what they         least two nights for the same        Philanthropy
                                         call the bounty of video-on-            price. Moreover, even with           PowerUp, a three-year-old
                                         demand. Moreover, distribu-             broadband connections, it            project that gave away
     snapshot                            tion is planned to be secure            could take up to 4 hours for a       computer equipment to
                                         and unbreachable. You can               single download. On the other        schools and community
      $4 billion worth                   now download over 175 new               hand, code hackers aren’t            centres across the United
      of Linux servers                   and     old     movies    from          keeping quiet—pirates are            States has been shut down.
                                         movielink.com . The movies, of          already talking about circum -       The weakening economy
      expected to sell in                course, don’t come for free—            venting these measures. They         has forced its founders to
      2003, shipping about               you are required to pay any -           claim that unless the movie          close down the program
      8 lakh units                       where between $1.99 (approx
                                         Rs 100) and $4.99 (approx Rs
                                                                                 ‘self destructs’, there is every
                                                                                 possibility that a solution
                                                                                                                      aimed at bridging the great
                                                                                                                      digital divide..
     Source: Gartner Dataquest           250), depending on how new              could be found!                                                       §

I Nokia   to launch N-Gage, a-game-console-and-cell-phone-in-one, by February 2003 I Shockwave.com launches GameBlast, a new subscription game service



                 22                                                                                                                  DECEMBER 2002
       pulse I
                   I   news

       Buy 1, get 1 virtually free                                                                                   Don’t fight P2P

       I ntel has just released the
         fastest ever Pentium 4
                                            underlying software into
                                            believing that there are in
                                                                                 OS and so on. With Hyper-
                                                                                 Threading, this overhead will
                                                                                                                     T   he last bastion of P2P is
                                                                                                                         under threat—realising that
                                                                                                                     university networks offer stu-
       processor, that clocks a cool        fact two CPUs. The software          be negligible. Tests by several     dents high bandwidth and the
       3.06 GHz and is the first to         can’t make out the differ-           enthusiast sites on the Inter -     opportunity to swap music and
       feature Hyper-Thread-                ence, so it works as though          net have revealed that this         movies, the Recording Industry
       ing. However,                                   there were two            chip does score very well—in        Association of America and the
       Windows                                                  a c t u a l      fact, it is not incorrect to call   Motion Picture Association of
       XP is the                                                 CPUs. It        this mock-SMP (Symmetric            America sent letters to more
       only Windows                                             w o u l d        Multi Processing), a setup          than 2,000 colleges, warning
       OS that can take                                       mean, for          where more than one CPU is          them that their networks were
       advantage of this.                                   example,             used. All this is expected to       used to trade illegal file copies.
       Hyper-Threading technology                          that      while       come at an expectedly heafty        The Electronic Privacy Infor-
       should yield between 14 to           playing a game, frame rates          price and the CPU has               mation Centre (EPIC) sent let-
       26 per cent improvement in           are slightly lower because of        already caused an immediate         ters to universities asking them
       performance, claims Intel.           the processing done by the           price war with AMD halving          to consider before installing
       The technology ‘tricks’ the          CPU for the soundcard, the           prices of its older CPUs.           tools to monitor the file swap-
                                                                                                                     ping networks, as increased
                                                                                                                     network surveillance could

       Hitman 2 publishers apologise                                                                                 dilute the already scarce uni-
                                                                                                                     versity resources.



       R   eleased last month, Hit-
           man 2: Silent Assassin ,
       from the UK-based publisher
                                            released by the company,
                                            Eidos and IO Interactive, the
                                                                                 has apologised to the Sikh
                                                                                 community for the depiction.
                                                                                 Eidos claims to have reached
                                                                                                                     snapshot
       Eidos, had come under fire                                                an amicable position with the        Online music sales
       from members of the Sikh                                                  Sikh Coalition and will now                $545
                                                                                                                      drop to
       community for having depict-                                              edit all offending content.          million      in the
       ed the religions’ adherents as                                                All the relevant content
                                                                                                                      first three quarters
       members of an evil cult.                                                  from the Hitman 2 official
           In the final mission, Hit-                                            Web site will also be removed        of 2002, from
       man 2 features a violent show-                                            and changes will be made to          $730 million
       down in a gurudwara and the                                               the forthcoming GameCube             in the first three
       player is encouraged to enter                                             version of the title, which was
       and kill a group of fanatical        developers, have stressed that       scheduled for release early
                                                                                                                      quarters of 2001
       believers. In a statement            no offence was intended and          next year.                          Source: ComScore Networks




       Looking better                                                           Musical directory
       I ridigm, a San Francisco
         based company has devel-
       oped a new reflective screen
                                            tal displays, while consuming
                                            less power. The display is
                                            made of two conductive
                                                                                P   hilips may soon help you
                                                                                    place a song you can’t
                                                                                remember. All you will have to
                                                                                                                     narrow frequency bands and
                                                                                                                     the energy of each band is
                                                                                                                                  measured. When
       technology using a micro -           plates—one is a thin film stack     do is dial a number                                 a     tune    is
       electromechanical       system       on a glass substrate, and the       and place your cell                                   played, the
       (MEMS) called an Interfero -         other is a metallic membrane        phone near                                             computer
       metric Modulator, or iMoD.           suspended over it. The gap          the speaker                                             cross checks
       This device can yield screen         between the two is filled with      when the                                              it with the
       brightness as much as three          air. The basic principle is the     track      is                                   existing database.
       times that of other liquid crys-     idea of light interference—the      played. A com-                                    Philips hopes to
                                                          same principle        puter tallies it                                   have a database
                                                          found      within     against a database                                 of      over    a
                                                          shimmering but-       and sends you a text message                      1,00,000 songs
                                                          terfly wings that     with the relevant information.       and estimates that just three
                                                          give it the irides-   Hashing, the technology used         seconds of playtime should
                                                          cent colours!         here, breaks the tune into 33        give you an accurate match.          §

I MS   memo claims its efforts to disparage open-source software may be backfiring I Apple to add DVD writer to PowerBook I IBM to push mobile HDDs to 80 GB



                 24                                                                                                                   DECEMBER 2002
pulse I
              I   news

Privacy at stake                     Acting digital                                                              quoteworthy
I n a hard blow to the fight for
  right to privacy on the Net,
the Virginia Supreme Court
                                     I  f it wasn’t enough that com-
                                        puters are being used to cre -
                                     ate special effects in movies,
                                                                           flip a switch. Intelligent lights
                                                                           change colour, focus and fade
                                                                           right on cue with smoke pour-
                                                                                                                   “Breaking into Mac
                                                                                                                   isn’t something that
ruled against America Online’s       Broadway has now embraced             ing through ports on the floor
                                                                                                                   gets a hacker kudos
plea that a subpoena calling         the PC passion-                                        and      music         in his or her com-
for revealing a subscriber’s         ately.                                                  p u m p s             munity. Breaking
identity be quashed. Califor -             In a new                                           through              Microsoft gives that
nia-based Nam Tai Electronics        m u s i c a l ,                                          speakers             person the ego
filed a complaint in January         Dance of the                                             monitored
2001     alleging    that     51     Vampires, the                                            by a com-
                                                                                                                   dollars that they
unknown individuals, includ-         entire        set                                        puter-assist-        depend upon”
ing an AOL subscriber, had           made up of a                                             ed keyboard,
                                                                                                                   Dan     Kusnetzky,    Vice
posted false and unlawful mes-       six-ton ceme -                                            g i v i n g
                                                                                                                   President of systems soft-
sages on a discussion board.         tery, changes in                                          enthusiasts
                                                                                                                   ware research at IDC,
                 Claiming            under a minute. The                                      the perform -
                                                                                                                   explaining why Microsoft
                 trade libel and     entire arrangement, from the                          ance of a life-
                                                                                                                   systems are more often
                 violations of       lighting effects right down to                  time. One does won -
                                                                                                                   hacked than other OSes
                 California’s        shifting the six-ton graveyard,               der though, if the show
                 unfair busi-        is governed by a computer             would go on, should the com-
                 ness practice       needing a supervisor to just          puter crash!                            “All legitimate busi-
statutes, Nam Tai requested                                                                                        nesses online have
the California Supreme Court                                                                                       an incentive to fight
to subpoena the AOL user. Pri-
vacy and democratic rights
                                     No XXX in BMX XXX                                                             piracy, obviously as
                                                                                                                   this study shows. It
groups are appalled at the rul-
ing, as courts all over the US
protect the individual’s privacy
                                     A   cclaim     Entertainment’s
                                         BMX XXX will not contain
                                     topless nudity in
                                                                           as the refusal by big retailers to
                                                                           stock the controversial game
                                                                                          have finally led
                                                                                                                   affects everyone”
                                                                                                                   A representative for the
and anonymity rights.                its PlayStation2                                     to an edited ver-
                                                                                                                   Recording Industry Asso-
     AOL filed a motion argu-        version.      The                                    sion for the
                                                                                                                   ciation of America, on the
ing that it cannot reveal sub-       game’s    trailers                                   PlayStation       2
                                                                                                                   need for anti-piracy meas-
scriber information as it            featured    strip -                                  release.      The
                                                                                                                   ures, in view of a study by
would infringe on the First          pers, coarse lan-                                    XBox and Game -
                                                                                                                   ComScore Networks that
Amendment rights that guar-          guage and the tag                                    Cube versions,
                                                                                                                   showed a drastic slump in
antees an individual the free-       line ‘Keep It                                        however,       will
                                                                                                                   online music sales this year
dom of speech and the right          Dirty’. However, protests from        not be ‘sanitised’, said the
to anonymity. AOL now has            various parents groups as well        company.
10 days to appeal to the Vir -
ginia Supreme Court or turn
over the name. If the Virginia
                                      tomorrow’stechnology
court rules against AOL, then          Organic Light Emitting Diode
AOL can appeal to the US
Supreme Court.
                                       A    technology using devices
                                            called Organic LEDs
                                                                            OLEDs to be fabricated at sig-
                                                                            nificantly lower costs, giving
                                                                                                                tric Global Research Center in
                                                                                                                New York, will allow multiple
snapshot                               (OLEDs) might just end the
                                       quest for a more cost-effective
                                                                            them higher brightness, con-
                                                                            trast levels and resolutions. It
                                                                                                                colours. Through this process,
                                                                                                                an OLED is placed face down
 Reliance is targeting                 alternative to TFT displays.         will also eliminate the need for    on a glass substrate and the
 40-50 lakh                            While this new technology            a backlight, thus greatly saving    opposite side of this substrate
                                       initially used an expensive fab-     power requirements—ideal for        is deposited with particles of
 customers, and
                                       rication process where multi-        mobile display applications.        dyed polymers. When light
 expects to make                       ple layers of light-emitting              Also, while OLEDs were         from the OLED enters the

 Rs 4,000 crore                        materials had to be deposited
                                       sequentially in the devices,
                                                                            originally capable of emitting
                                                                            only a single colour, a newer
                                                                                                                polymer layers, some of the
                                                                                                                photons are split or down con-
 in the first year of its              recent breakthroughs have            process called down-conver-         verted by the phosphor parti-
 WLL service                           allowed them to be fabricated        sion created by Anil Duggal, a      cles into two longer wave-
                                       using a single layer. This allows    researcher at the General Elec-     length photons.
Source: Economic Times


    I   BMG to manufacture only copy-protected CDs henceforth I Tablet PCs from Acer, Toshiba and ViewSonic range from $2,000 to $2,500



            26                                                                                                                  DECEMBER 2002
pulse I
         I   letters




                                                                    Dear Venkatesh,
                                                                    Your belief that 40 GB hard disk drives have a greater tendency
                                                                    to develop bad sectors is a fallacy. A simple case of bad luck might
                                                                    have more to do with your friend’s drive crashing, than its 40 GB
                                                                    capacity (we’ve got a substantial number of similar capacity
                                                                    drives that are running completely trouble-free in our offices). The
                                                                    best way to avoid bad sectors is by taking necessary precautions
                                                                    such as refraining from moving the drive while it’s in operation
                                                                    and providing clean, uninterrupted power to your computer.




                                                                                       Your vote counts
 Q. What do you think about Digit’s unique                      This month’s question:
 half-flap covers?
               For        Against   Gimme Models                “Would you replace Backbyte with a
              34%         33%           33%                     monthly technology quiz?”
 Since you are this undecided, we’ll stick with the tried and
 tested for now.
                                                                                 Log on to www.thinkdigit.com and vote on it


        28                                                                                                         DECEMBER 2002
                                                                                                   Short Bytes
                                                                                                   Miss October
                                                                                                   Hi Vinit,
                                                                                                   Your October edition was a
                                                                                                   real treat; the centre-
                                                                                                   spread workshop on
                                                                                                   ‘Reviving your Dead PC’
                                                                                                   was especially outstanding.
                                                                                                   I am a hardware student
                                                                                                   and I found that piece to
                                                                                                   be of great help.
                                                                                                   Shiva Kumar
                                                                                                   Via e-mail

                                                                                                   Spread the good
                                                                                                   word
                                                                                                   Dear Vinit,
                                                                                                   I have been reading your
                                                                                                   magazine since its incep-
                                                                                                   tion and I love the articles
                                                                                                   and reviews. Lately I’ve
                                                                                                   run out of storage space,
                                                                                                   but I simply cannot get
                                                                                                   myself to give away Digit
                                                                                                   to the raddiwalla. Can you
                                                                                                   please suggest an alterna-
                                                                                                   tive means to give the old
                                                                                                   issues away?
                                                                                                   Chirag
                                                                                                   Via e-mail

                                                                                                   Since knowledge and wisdom are
                                                                                                   best shared, you could donate the
                                                                                                   old issues to your local library
                                                                                                   and give countless others an
                                                                                                   opportunity to learn about the
                                                                                                   wonderful world of technology.



                                                                                                        Goof Ups
                                                                                                   I The Walking Gigabytes story
                                                                                                   on Page 74, Digit November
                                                                                                   2002, incorrectly mentions that
                                                                                                   the Zip 250 and 750 do not fea-
                                                                                                   ture a manual eject button.
                                                                                                   Both the Zip drives have the
                                                                                                   said button.
                                                                                                   I In November issue’s Bazaar
                                                                                                   section, the contact informa-
                                                     Hi Srinivasa,
                                                                                                   tion provided for Busy Lite 3.0
                                                     You are absolutely right. Falling speeds as
                                                                                                   on Page 89 is incorrect. The
                                                     a result of an increase in the subscriber
                                                                                                   correct contact is Busy
                                                     base is a primary problem affecting
                                                                                                   Infotech Pvt Ltd, Phone: 011-
                                                     broadband services in India. Service
                                                                                                   7375062, Price: Rs 1,500.
                                                     providers need to strictly enforce Quality
                                                                                                   I The Drive-in Bytes story on
                                                     of Service and ensure that their bandwidth
                                                     increases in proportion to the number of      Page 56 in the same issue
                                                     subscribers.                                  mentions that the LG 8320B
                                                                                                   contains 8 MB of buffer. It in
                                                                                                   fact only has a 2 MB buffer.
                                                                                                   Thanks for pointing this one
            Send your letters marked ‘Readers Letters’ to the Digit office:                        out, Vishwanath.
D-222/2, MIDC, TTC Industrial Estate, Om Sagar Building, Nerul, Navi Mumbai 400 706,
                   Phone: 022-7629191/9200 Fax: 022-7629224                                        Notice any goof-ups? Write to
                    E-mail: readersletters@jasubhai.com                                            goof@jasubhai.com



 29                                                                                                             DECEMBER 2002
Feature-Tech next option final.qxd 4/28/2004 5:23 PM Page 32




             features I
                               I   technology next




                                                                                                                                           ?
             Popular culture has always been bombarded
                                                                  Sleek, black, fast and talkative. Riding
                                                                  autonomously on all fours with an indestructible
             with the thoughts of science fiction writers and
                                                                  body to boot. This was KITT, a Pontiac Trans-Am
             pop directors. Whether it is mass-hysteria cre-      and the star of the 1982 television series Knight
             ated by the radio transmission of H.G. Wells'        Rider. Can we ever hope to own a car that drives
             War of the Worlds, or the drones of fans that        itself?
             religiously subscribe to the worlds of Star Trek
             and Star Wars, fiction has always teased and
             appeased the human mind. Cars that can talk         T   he bad news is that KITT is still
                                                                     years away—as of now, you cannot
                                                                 hope to control your car with a cell
                                                                                                             trucks and pedestrians are all accumu
                                                                                                             lated within the database. Mounted i
                                                                                                             front of the car are cameras that tak
             and drive themselves, buildings that fly, robots    phone. The good news is that there are      snapshots of the surrounding environ
             that help around the house, androids that are       autonomous systems that allow some          ment and send them to the processo
                                                                 amount of back seat driving. Typically      nestling within. The processors the
             almost human, universal translators, aircraft       such systems, such as the Distronic         use the AI routines to compare the pic
             that do all the flying for us…joining all these     found in the Mercedes S Class of cars,      tures to the ones within the database
             seemingly disparate dots is the common thread       do little but regulate the distance         The car will thus ascertain its positio
                                                                 between vehicles, speeding and slow-        and speed with respect to the othe
             of Artificial Intelligence. The concept that we,    ing as and when required. The better        vehicles, the road and pedestrians. Th
             as humans, will one day create entities that will   news is that something a little more        processor then steers, accelerates an
                                                                 evolutionary, that can cope with the        decelerates as needed. The system
             be non-differentiable from us in thought and in
                                                                 urban traffic, where lane rules and road    not perfect since the decisions ar
             action. Will the line between fact and fiction be   regulations are easily forgotten, is in     based on ideal road widths and it pe
             always a thick bold one? Are we doomed to           the making. This new car contains two       forms best on slow speeds.
                                                                 microprocessors that figure out where            Future cars could share a collecti
             conjure up things larger than life whilst we        the car is in relation to others and to    consciousness of sorts; a distribut
             struggle to cure the common cold? Let us see        the boundaries of the road. The vehicle    software environment reminiscent
             whether science today has succeeded in ren-         is driven by software AI techniques of     the Borg collective. Akin to the swarm
                                                                 shape recognition and comparison. It’s     ing behaviour of birds, AI routines w
             dering some of our fondest dreams into reality,     based on a database consisting of three-   render this collective to act in uniso
             even as we look further, into the brave new         dimensional models of roads and road       keeping distance, maintaining spe
             world of the future.                                elements. Thus, facets of road intersec-   .and ensuring that you reach your de
                                                                 tions, types, typical road-widths, cars,   tination safely and effectively.
                                             AHMED SHAIKH



                        32                                                                                                            DECEMBER
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                                                                                           ?
                "Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose any                                             Automated Help
                more. Goodbye." Thus ran the chilling conversa-                                                Mechanised wheelchairs
                tion between the AI program HAL 9000 and the                                                   that help the disabled are
                space explorer Dave, moments before Dave                                                       already a market reality.
                breathes his last. Are software programs smart                                                 These futuristic wheel-
                                                                                                               chairs can take
                enough to be compared with HAL from Stanley                                                    the form of
                Kubrick’s Space Odyssey 2001?                                                                  motorised,
                                                                                                               gyro-controlled

                M     aking up for the lack of a brain
                      in Dr Frankenstein’s monster,
                scientists are busy tinkering with cre -
                                                               biologists: the analysis of protein
                                                               structure. In one such scenario, the
                                                               programs successfully ‘self-discov-
                                                                                                               vehicles that offer
                                                                                                               stability and an abil -
                                                                                                               ity to climb stairs.
                ations that can think. A computer              ered’ a previously unknown carcino -            They also sport pres-
                program that closely mirrors the               gen. They were also able to extrapo-            sure-sensitive manoeu-
                manner in which humans learn in                late and extract new rules that gov-            vring systems that can be
                the social menagerie of life. These            ern the manner in which a three-                used to steer the machines
                new portents of intelligence use a             dimensional protein structure is                with the faintest of blows
                technique called inductive logic pro -         formed. Success has not been restrict-          from the mouth. Experts at the
                gramming—knowledge supplied by                 ed to the field of biology—mathe -              Osaka University in Japan have
                the scientists in the form of rules and        matics was gifted a new sequence of             used AI techniques to take the
                rule-execution criteria. The programs          integers called refractorables, by a            current-generation of wheel
                use this information to learn from             similarly thinking software routine.            chairs onto a higher level of
                their system in what can be termed                 A thinking piece of software is             automation. You can call the
                as ‘experience’; and for their own            well in demand in various fields, rang-          chair towards you, for example,
                benefit, tweak and change the base            ing from military—a smart bomb that              by simply gesturing with your
                rules. It is an evolutionary process          designates and destroys enemy targets;           hands. Video cameras mounted
                that relies on feedback from the envi -       to medicine—a smart pill that finds              on the machine along with facial
                ronment.                                      home in your body and delivers drugs             recognition and motion detectio
                    So what are the benefits of such          based upon the feedback it receives              software allow just such behav
                programs? Researchers have already            from your immune and circulatory                 iour. The chair can be steered
                assigned them the role of molecular           system.                                          with sideway head motions—




                                                                                                                                            ?
                 The 1986 Disney film, Flight of the Navigator, showcased the story of a young boy
                 taken on an interstellar ride by a sleek silver spacecraft that called itself MAX.
                 When can we expect our current modes of flight to go sentient and fly us around
                 the universe?

                U     sing a combination of data collected from radars, satel -
                      lites and wireless networks, an airplane is more aware of
                itself and its airspace than it has ever been. These systems act
                                                                                     something awry is detected by the control system, the
                                                                                     neural net kicks in and takes control. The network sifts
                                                                                     through the alarming data six times a second to work out th
                as early-warning alarms, automated co-pilots, navigational aids      best means of using the operational systems of the plane t
                and even landing assists. For instance, when a rudder or the         maintain normal flight. For example, if it detects a useles
                wing flaps of an airplane malfunction, there is precious little      wing-flap, the net would guide the airplane into a pre-dete
                that a pilot can do to avert disaster, since these systems do not    mined manoeuvre, maybe banking the entire structure to com
                have fallbacks. AI routines developed by NASA have been used         pensate for the flaps. The neural net was able to keep a te
                to keep a plane flying even when it otherwise wouldn’t. The          plane in control even at a supersonic speed.
                software is based on a neural network—an AI routine that                  A neural net, along with surface recognition algorithms an
                enables a program to perform a series of tasks by learning          data gathered from satellites can theoretically, fly and land
                through trial and error. A flight control system keeps an eye on    aeroplane. Although such a system might never find everyd
                data such as the plane’s airspeed, heading and the forces expe-     use, scenarios wherein the pilots are not available would not en
                rienced by its elements such as the wings and the tail. This        in disasters, like they currently do. Hostage situations, in part
                data is then compared to a safe set of numbers, which would         ular, could be foiled, as a neural net would guide and land t
                be encountered when things are working optimally. When              plane in a safe territory without needing human input.



                       33                                                                                                              DECEMBER
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                       features I
                                        I   technology next




                                                                                                     ?
edsters                     We grew up with the Jetsons family and half
                            expected the wonderful world of flying cars, auto-
                            mated sidewalks and the floating buildings to
                            come alive. Will robotics bring Rosie the robot
                            maid out of the television screen and into our
                            homes?

                          P  robotics, a small company, has
                             developed Cye—an answer to
                          domestic woes that took 10 years in
                                                                      interpolates the data from its treks and
                                                                      conjures up a map of the space in
                                                                      question. Once mapped, the machine
                          the making. Cye resembles a dustpan         navigates using a pair of wheels that
                          on wheels and is designed to serve you      double up as rudimentary sense
                          dinner and clean the carpet. It uses a      organs. Whenever the wheels




                                                                                                                                               ?
                          personal computer as the hub of its         encounter resistance to their motion,
                          tasks. The user defines the chores that     the force is translated into electronic
                          need to be performed, by dragging and       signals that the machine can under-         Go back to the
                          dropping icons within a computer            stand. Cye can therefore detect obsta-      1986 hit movie,
                          program and Cye takes over from             cles in its path using these wheels.        Short Circuit, star-
                          there. Before bending its back though,      Thus aided, the robot will arm itself
                          the robot needs to know the lay of the      with a vacuum cleaner and attack the
                                                                                                                  ring an emotionally
                          land. This task requires the owner’s        carpet with the vigour reserved for         wrought, self-
                          input, so that the robot is guided from     mechanical nuts and bearings. When          aware, existential
                          one extreme of a room to another            it runs low on power, it stops what it      robot, Number 5.
                          using a mouse. It then explores             is doing and heads to the nearest
                          between boundaries thus defined,            recharging pod for a breather.
                                                                                                                  Can AIBO, Sony's replace
                                                                                                                  ment dog, ever hope to b
                                                                                                                  as emotive and expressiv
                                                                                                                  as that movie’s star?




                                                                                                      ?           K
                            The inimitable series by Douglas Adams, The                                                ismet is a robot, complete with
                                                                                                                       eyes, eyebrows, ears and lips—
                            Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, had a peculiar ele-                                  an experiment that is destined fo
                            ment to it—an alien fish, which when appropriately                                    adorable, if not great things. Creat
                            inserted could instantaneously translate between                                      ed by a Massachusetts Institute o
                                                                                                                  Technology (MIT) team headed b
                            any and every language. Termed Babelfish, will the                                    Rodney Brooks, the robot is mean
                            real world ever hold it with its ear?                                                 to self-learn just like a two-year-old
                                                                                                                  human toddler. Traditionally, AI ha

                          T   he German Research Center for
                              Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) along
                          with IBM and Siemens has jointly
                                                                       sentences, cross-lingual information
                                                                       access, linguistic analysis and grammar
                                                                       checking. The system has been com -
                                                                                                                  been about implementing softwar
                                                                                                                  algorithms that define a set of rule
                                                                                                                  to replicate the world and anothe
  scending remark.        developed an AI system that aims to          mercially implemented in the form of       set to define the robot’s behaviou
                          bridge the language gap. Language            Verbmobil, a cellular phone service        within the simulated world. Brooks
                          resources such as lexicons, grammar,         that can translate spoken English, Ger-    thinks differently. Rules are neve
                          and test suite form the foundation of        man, Japanese and Chinese in a few         defined, but are emergent. Kismet i
                          the technology. Built upon this are          milliseconds at an accuracy rate of        built on a tree-structure of simpl
                          components for the design and imple-         close to 90 per cent.                      components; the complexity o
                          mentation of a language such as word             Better AI routines are all that stop   behaviour is only visible on an over
                          ‘taggers’, sentence parsers and sentence    speech synthesizers from becoming uni-      all scale—the robot can communi
                          generators, along with tools for the        versal translators. Spoken words are a      cate its desires using a range o
                          maintenance of terminologies and dic-       part of the communication process,          expressions that cover interest, sad
                          tionaries. Finally, AI routines that help   which includes gestures and body lan-       ness, surprise and anxiety. Simila
                          in speech analysis and synthesis are        guage. The ultimate translator would        techniques can equip us with th
                          brought to task. The entire system          thus be one that analyses not only words    tools to implement complex emo
                          performs a bevy of tasks including          but also the slight tilt of the head that   tion and feedback systems into th
                          information extraction from spoken          separates a comment from a conde-           robots of tomorrow.



                                 34                                                                                                       DECEMBER
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                                                                                            ?                                        ?
                  Precogs: Humans with the ability to predict a                                          “Agent Smith”, say
                  crime even before it is committed. Thus went the                                       it in the soporific
                  premise of the 2002 hit movie, Minority Report.                                        drone of the vil-
                  Can science ever develop a piece of software or                                        lain that plagued
                  hardware to predict the future?                                                        Neo and the crew
                                                                                                         in The Matrix.
                                                                                                         Smith was created
                H    umans bring with them cognitive
                     biases: they rely too much on one
                set of information without looking at
                                                             tions can also be introduced in the
                                                             progeny by toggling the 1s and the 0s
                                                             involved. The resultant offspring are
                                                                                                         as a figure to police and
                the entire picture formed, often with        similarly evaluated on their successes
                                                                                                         maintain hegemony ove
                disastrous results. To minimise errors       and the process is repeated till a          the humans in the virtua
                and to eventually produce a silicon          healthy ecology emerges wherein soft-       network that enmeshed
                stock market capable of simulating the
                lows and ups of the real thing, AI tech-
                                                             ware agents of repute move up the lad-
                                                             der while the faulty ones fade into
                                                                                                         the fictional world. Can
                niques are pitched together. Rule sets       extinction, taking the associative rule
                                                                                                         scientists come up with
                are created with data extracted from         sets with them. To add to the heady         software codes that will
                market snapshots of the past. Software       mix are fuzzy logic elements that can       serve the Internet in a
                agents are then hired to simulate buy-
                ing and selling decisions based on
                                                             base decisions on a range of data,
                                                             rather than discrete values of the same.
                                                                                                         similar fashion?
                these rules. These decisions are then
                passed on to a human who does the
                actual transactions. Each decision
                                                             Such cocktails have been used to con-
                                                             struct expert systems—software pow-
                                                             erhouses designed to replace a human
                                                                                                         H     ow are viruses, bacteria and th
                                                                                                               Internet inter-related? Sex. Th
                                                                                                         Net is a mass of connections, strun
                made by such an agent is accorded a          professional such as a market analyst.      together at nodes that physicall
                weightage based on the degree of suc-             Built upon the power of supercom-      manifest as routers. These router
                cess of the choice. Successful agents are   puters, an expert system can perhaps one     have a fixed buffer capacity tha
                then ‘bred’ together—a snippet of code      day answer the age-old questions about       determines their ability to accept
                from here, a snip from there and you        ‘Life’. Nirvana, via your friendly neigh-    store and re-route data. Sometime
                have birthed something new. Muta -          bourhood computer!                           the data arriving at these nodes ar
                                                                                                         lost by the router. What is neede
                                                                                                         then, is a mechanism by which th




                                                                                            ?
                                                                                                         buffers monitor themselves, analys
                                                                                                         the incoming packets and adjus
                  Bicentennial Man, the 1999 film starring Robin                                         their lengths accordingly. So wher
                  Williams told of Andrew Martin, a household                                            does sex come in? Bacteria repro
                  android who begins to feel genuine human emo-                                          duce in a very efficient, albeit non
                                                                                                         exciting manner: when two such
                  tions. Will a robot ever reach a level of intelligence                                 cells come in contact with each
                  to be considered sentient and maybe, even human?                                       other, genes snippets are exchanged
                                                                                                         Successful genes are propagated

                M      ove     over     AIBO,
                       Robokoneko. Proving compre -
                                                   enter

                hensively that cats are indeed smarter
                                                             neurons. Since the task of program-
                                                             ming a bank as complex as the kitty’s
                                                             brain seems illogical, the scientists
                                                                                                         while ineffective ones fade away
                                                                                                         Software codes behave similarly—
                                                                                                         strings of data imitate the gene snip
                than dogs, the robot kitten is all set to    turn to genetic algorithms for respite.     pets that are then collated and inte
                take centre stage with a brain powered       Codes of software will be let to brew,      spersed between the software. Thes
                by the electrical firings between some       intermingle and share snippets              code snips let the buffer adapt and
                40 million artificial neurons. The           amongst each other, eventually lead-        evolve as per the needs of the data
                brain will consist of 72 programmable        ing to the creation of a neural network          This could be put to use acros
                silicon chips whose connections              based on the best-of-breed software         phone lines, making dropped call
                between constituent transistors can be       snippets.                                   and busy lines a thing of the past.
                electronically rewired. To maximise               Take a brain as complex as
                their potential, connections will           Robokoneko’s, add in the expressions
                repeatedly be reconfigured to repre -       and the emotional ability of a Kismet and
                sent 32,768 different modules. As the       stir vigorously. Blend in face recognition
                brain cycles through these modules at       software, speech analyzers, speech syn-
                a rate of 300 times per second, the         thesizers, a healthy dollop of automated
                effect will be akin to a singular entity    limbs and voila, a fully functional
                with a virtual bank of 37.7 million         android is at your service. Happy living.



                       35                                                                                                       DECEMBER
features I
               I   droolmaal

Panasonic DVD-LV65
For your viewing pleasure
This portable DVD player offers 2.5 hours of
viewing time. Its 5-inch widescreen LCD
monitor can be adjusted for a wide range of
viewing positions and allows you to view
DVD movies in the 16:9 widescreen format
or conventional 4:3 format. The DVD-LV65
can play a variety of audio and video disc
formats such as DVD-Video, DVD-RAM,
DVD-R, Video CD, Audio CD and CD-R/R.
You can also view JPEG images and MPEG4
video, and listen to MP3 files. There are out-
puts for optional DTS and Dolby Digital sur-
round sound decoders, providing six dis-
crete audio channels. So switch on the DVD
player, bring out the popcorn and enjoy!
Web site: www.panasonic.com




                                                 Digital accessories to match your attitude



                                                 HP Jornada 928 WDA Pocket PC
                                                 Two-in-one wonder
                                                 Voice, data and personal information management integrat -
                                                 ed in one device? That’s what the 928 WDA offers you. It is
                                                 based on Microsoft’s Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition software
                                                 and combines a PDA with a GSM/GPRS-enabled phone.
                                                 Thanks to its dual screen design, you can access the phone
                                                 and Pocket PC functions independently of one another—the
                                                 PDA applications on a 16-bit colour reflective TFT screen,
                                                 and the phone functions on a blue-backlit phone display.
                                                 The 928 WDA features voice-activated dialling and a dual-
                                                 battery system that includes a rechargeable lithium-polymer
                                                 battery which gives you an estimated 3 hours talk time or 12
                                                 hours PDA usage and 120 hours standby time.
                                                 Web site: www.hp-expo.com

         38                                                                                      DECEMBER 2002
                                                      Archos Jukebox FM Recorder 20 GB
                                                      Your entertainment centre
                                                      A 20 GB hard drive, USB 2.0 compatibility, data transfer rate
                                                      of up to 480 Mbps, 300 hours of CD quality MP3 music at
                                                      128 kbps, 450 hours of radio recording at 96 kbps, 700 hours
                                                      of voice recording at 64 kbps, continuous playback time of
                                                      up to 12 hours or 20 GB of data. No, we are not listing out
                                                      the specifications of a PC. This tiny little pocket-sized MP3-
                                                      player-cum-recorder-cum-FM-radio allows you to record from
                                                      any analog or digital source and to port your recordings back
                                                      to the PC without any specialised software—just drag and
                                                      drop MP3 files from Windows Explorer. This versatile device
                                                      can also be used as a voice recorder.
                                                      Web site: www.archos.com




Casio Exilim Wearable Card
Camera EX-M2
Slim is in!
This little device has a 2.0 megapixel CCD, 4x
digital zoom, and the ability to record up to 30
seconds of video. For memory, it has an SD
Memory Card, a MultiMedia Card and 12 MB of
Flash memory. The camera supports Print Image
Matching II and comes with a USB cable and
software that simplifies image management—all
in a package that is 11.3 mm thin and weighs
just 88 grams. Oh and did we mention that it
acts as an MP3 player also? You can get nearly
five-and-a-half hours of playback on a full charge.
What more could you want in a camera?
Web site:
http://world.casio.com/exilim/en/ex_s2/style




                                                          MadPlayer
                                                          Tunes for you
                                                          An MP3 player is an MP3 player, is an MP3 player.
                                                          Right? Take a look at MadPlayer and you just might
                                                          change your ideas. This MP3 player can store music in
                                                          all the popular file formats, including MP3, WMA and
                                                          MIDI. It has a karaoke functionality, an FM radio and
                                                          uses a soundbank of over 550 instruments and sounds so
                                                          you can create tunes in a huge range of styles and gen-
                                                          res. Besides, it lets you be your own DJ—you can choose
                                                          the music style, add samples and effects and even share
                                                          your creations. There’s a standard 32 MB Smart Media
                                                          card, upgradable to 128 MB. A built-in audio output jack
                                                          lets you connect it to practically anything—your home
                                                          stereo or any other device that can record MP3s or burn
                                                          them on CDs. So if you’ve got a tune, just play it!
                                                          Web site: www.madplayer.com


         39                                                                                          DECEMBER 2002
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          features I
                           I   firsthand                                                                    ILLUSTRATION:   Atul
                                                                                                            Deshmukh




          COMPUTING FOR

          Absolutely Everybody
         “    Our vision when we started the company was a computer on every desk and in every
              home.
              In this setting, I think the word to emphasise is ‘Every’. The PC can be a tool for everyone



         H
                       ari Raghavan, aged 24,        between hiring an able-bodied per-       methods. This is especially difficult
                         comes across as your reg-   son and a blind one is already made.     for those who have lost their sight
                         ular MBA yuppie, sport-     In this kind of economy, especially      gradually or by an accident.
                         ing a clean shave and an    in a developing country, it is quite a        K. Ramakrishna, a general man -
          endearing twang. What makes his            struggle for the disabled to acquire     ager at IDBI bank, found that
          colleagues take a double take as he        jobs. In order to amend this, it is      Braille was inadequate for his
          marches into his office is the red         essential that they are educated by      mathematical        and    statistical
          and white stick he uses. ‘Chal-            the same standard and have similar       requirements. “Not that the teach-
          lenged’ by retinal degeneration            skill sets as others so that they can    ers at the National Association for
          since the age of 17, Raghavan is a         easily fit into existing work envi -     the Blind didn’t try their very best
          marketing executive with one of            ronments.                                to teach me Braille,” says he with a
          India’s leading publishing houses.              The need then is for chameleon      snigger, ‘I think I was just too lazy
          His job profile involves two               like devices and applications that       to learn.”
          extremely sight-centred activities—        blend in with the already existing            Also, the introduction of, say a
          computing and travelling. Thanks           environment. Fortunately, there          Braille printer or keyboard in a
          to special tools built into common         are plenty of tools available that       functional workplace spells addi-
          applications and some add ons, he          allow this.                              tional effort, which few are ready
          is able to do his work remarkably                                                   to undertake. However, this same
          well within the same setup that is         Inherent support                         crack lets in the light for comput-
          used by the rest of the office.            The source of input and feedback is      ing—since Braille has such limita-
               In the overall employment and         the most crucial part of an applica-     tions, we have to fall back upon
          market scenario, where every half a        tion for those who are incapable of      regular alphabet reading. For those
          degree separates the employed from         receiving conventional feedback.         who already have the concept of a
          the unemployed, physical impair-           This naturally points to Braille, the    PC and its navigation, OCR and
          ment can be a big drawback—espe-           tried and tested medium of com-          screen reading software are ideal.
          cially so if it is of the visual nature.   munication. However, a basic                  Visual disability can be classi
          In a workplace, the employment of          drawback with Braille is the learn-      fied as either partial or complete
          any differently abled individual           ing curve involved, not to mention       blindness. The former obviously
          means extra investment in terms of         the ‘unlearning’ one has to do of        lends a certain degree of independ-
          infrastructure and hence, the choice       conventional reading and writing         ence compared to the latter. A


                    40                                                                                                 DECEMBER 200
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          features I
                            I   firsthand

          transparent architecture to support either     ability, a boon for users with weak or fail-
          of the disabilities is inherently present in   ing eyesight.
                                                                                                          Assistive Devices
          most technologies. Simple magnification            However, both the Magnifier and
          methods present in Windows such as             the Narrator are but assisting tools that        Karishma Enterprises, run by Ram
          increasing the font sizes and using spe-       can not offer the user complete inde-            Agarwal, who is also visually
          cial, high-contrast colour schemes help        pendence. The Magnifier helps only               impaired, specialises in importing
          the partially blind.                           those with failing vision, while the Nar -       assistive devices. The company’s
               Among the enhanced accessibility          rator, by its maker’s own confession,            Web site, www.brailleworldindia.com
          features in Microsoft’s Windows 2000 and       “allows only a minimal level of func -           lists the different devices that can
          XP are two utilities called Narrator and       tionality for users with special needs”.         be ordered, and also has a job
          On-Screen Keyboard, which along with           The situation demands utility programs           directory and a space for those
          the previously introduced Magnifier, are       with advanced features that let users
          installed by default with the operating        perform day to day tasks with complete
          systems. They appear along with the            independence.
          Accessibility Wizard and the new Utility
          Manager in the expanded Accessibility          A glimmer of light




                            “
                                                              Many a surprised colleague has
                                                              stopped by Raghavan’s desk, kindly           Brailleworldin-

                                   Braille was                letting him know that his monitor is
                                                              switched off as he types furiously away
                                                                                                           dia.com has
                                                                                                           an exhaustive
                                   inadequate                 at his keyboard. Raghavan explains           directory of
                                   for my                     patiently that he doesn’t need the           assistive
                                   mathematical               monitor to be switched on since he
                                                              uses a software called Window-Eyes.         interested in setting up computer




                                              ”
                                   and statistical            Developed by GW Micro, this is a            and electronic training institutes
          K. Ramakrishna           needs                      screen navigating software that reads       and projects. Karishma Enterprises
          GENERAL MANAGER , IDBI                              out explicitly what is presented on         undertakes the setting up and
                                                              your monitor display—default but-           installation of these centres as well
                                                              tons, spaces, line breaks and punctua-      as the training and orientation of
          menu, found under the Start button. Such       tion included. A series of configured keys       the staff. It also provides consultan
          utilities provide a minimum level of func-     let you choose a particular line to be read
          tionality for many people with disabili-       out slower or even spelt out. The rest of the
          ties, without requiring additional soft-       functions, such as file saving, changing its    out the words. Since Raghavan was alread
          ware and hardware.                             location, and maximising and minimising         accustomed to using the PC before he los
               While Magnifier, Narrator and On-         a window can also be configured as per the      his sight, the screen narration emanatin
          Screen Keyboard do not replace full-fea-       user’s convenience and preference. The          in an American drawl from his speak
          tured accessibility aids, they allow users     pace of reading can be set to a speed com-      ers/headphones as he used Window-Eye
          with disabilities to effectively use a com-    fortable to the user.                           was easy to decipher.
          puter running Windows. Narrator is par-             Raghavan got through his BCom years             While the thought of travelling acros
          ticularly useful to the visually impaired as   with the help of traditional human readers      two continents to learn computing ma
          it is a text-to-speech program that can        and writers during examination and by           seem impractical to most visuall
          narrate as a user types. The On-Screen         studying with the aid of audiotapes record-     impaired people, help is available close
          Keyboard displays a virtual keyboard on        ed by his mother. The vacations preceding       to home. Karishma Enterprises in Mum
          the screen, enabling users with limited        his final year took him to the US where he      bai is the master distributor in India
          mobility to input text using a pointing        was introduced to various OCR software                                  w
                                                                                                         JAWS for Windows ( ww.freedomscientif
          device like the mouse. The Magnifier, as       and to Window-Eyes. By the time Ragha-          ic. com), a popular and user-friendly scree
          suggested by the name, enlarges sections       van returned, he was happily rattling away      reading software. It enables the visuall
          of the computer screen for increased read-     at his keyboard while the speakers prattled     impaired to learn and operate computers
                                                                                                         independently.
                                                                                                              JAWS for Windows, developed b
           Hardware Solutions                                                                            Freedom Scientific USA, has the credit o
           Apart from software enablers, there           aimed to provide such an experience.            being a pioneer in its field. Ramakrishna
           are hardware devices that let a visually      But such devices are not easily avail -         one of the early users of JAWS for Win
           impaired person use the computer in           able and may not match the budget               dows, used a DOS-based version as early a
           as natural and effortless a way as pos -      and preference of the user. Adapting            1986. The software reads informatio
           sible. Devices that give the users the        them to an already set infrastructure           from the computer screen and speaks i
           ‘feel’ of the screen through various          like say, a work place where the basic          back via a speech synthesiser. The USP o
           products such as refreshable Braille          work devices such as the printers and           the software is its intuitiveness and eas
           displays, touchpads, screen reading           PCs are connected to each other,                of use. This is further enhanced by the fac
           software or speech synthesisers, are all      becomes quite a task—to install a               that most of the people working on th
                                                                                                         project are visually impaired. The speec


                    42                                                                                                           DECEMBER 200
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            Tool Shop
            Bobby: A Web accessibility software         tuguese, French, German, Italian, and
            that is compliant with existing acces-                 Spanish.
                          sibility guidelines. It                  Web site: http://www-
                          enables visually impaired                3.ibm.com/able
            people to access and enjoy the same                    /hpr.html
            information available on the Internet
            that is available to the rest of the        JAWS 4.5: Job Access With Speech is
            world.                                      designed to add speech output to
            Web site: http://bobby.watchfire.com/       applications. It uses configuration
            bobby/html/en/index.jsp                     files to record speech parameters
                                                        such as volume, rate, pitch and frame
            Focus: The Focus series of Braille dis-     and macro definitions. The latest ver -
                               plays come with keys     sion supports Windows XP and Inter -
                               that allow the user      net Explorer 6.
                               to navigate any soft-                Web site: http://www.free-
                               ware without reach-                  domscientific.com
            ing for the computer keyboard. They
            also have two audio inputs and one
            output for maximum usability. Two           /fs_products/software_jaws.asp
            USB ports and programmable but-
            tons further enhance its usefulness.        PAC Mate BNS: A handheld designed
            Web site:                                   exclusively for the visually impaired.
            http://www.freedomscientific.com            Running JAWS for Windows, it pro-
            /fs_products/displays_focusinfo.asp         vides the same applications that have
                                                        been built for devices such as the
            IBM Home Page Reader 3.0: This soft-        Compaq iPaq. The PAC Mate BNS has
            ware utilises IBM’s ViaVoice text-to-       Braille in and speech out capabilities
            speech synthesizer for reading out          and the PAC Mate BNS has a QWERTY-
            text, frames, images, text links, data      style keyboard with speech output.
            input fields and other details on the       Web site:
            Web. It is available in Brazilian Por-      http://www.freedomscientific.com



          synthesiser offers support for seven lan-     with Windows, which means that any
          guages—US English, British English, Ger-      enhancement in the OS, such as XP will
          man, Italian, French and Latin Spanish.       be adapted to JAWS for Windows.
              The latest version incorporates fea -
          tures such as Smart Screen Technology to      Filling the void
          provide flexibility with menus and dialog     So are these tools restricted to a privileged




                            “
                                                                  few? Not at all. The makers of
                                                                  the technologies themselves are
                                   Technology is                  instrumental in spreading it to
                                   what technolo-                 the intended audience. Most
                                   gy does, and it                NGOs that set up computer
                                   has made it                    training centres for the visually
                                                                  impaired consider only the costs
                                   possible for me                of their sighted teachers—the




                                              ”
                                   to have a main-                equipment is sponsored by evan-
           Hari Raghavan           stream career                  gelist NGOs and developers of
           CONSUMER MARKETING ,                                   the technology. The Indian
                                                                  Association of the Visually
                                                                  Handicapped (IAVH), an associ-
          boxes. A speech pad enables single-hand -     ation dedicated to informing, counselling
          ed operation and voice configurations. It     and aiding the visually impaired, was
          possesses enough intelligence to analyse      built on grants from IDBI Bank, Microsoft
          the screen content and then speak, mak-       and the HDFC bank. It has training cen-
          ing it easier for the user to work unfamil-   tres in Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Hyderabad
          iar applications. It also works in tandem     and Thiruvananthapuram. The Victoria


                    43                                                                                  DECEMBER 200
test drive I
                   I   start up




How we Test
 It looks good and the technology is glitzy, but does it do the job?
                                                                                                          In Test this Month




T
                                                                                                          After having tested and
         he Digital Media                                                        The Awards               reviewed 588 hardware and
         Test & Research                                                          Digit awards out-       software products during
         Centre (DMTRC)                                                           standing products       the course of this year in
         conducts a series                                                        by selecting a Best     Digit, we bring to you the
of elaborate tests to eval-                                                       Performance     and     Zero1 Awards, the defini-
uate the merit of each                                                            Best Value winner in    tive award for excellence in
hardware and software                                                             each     comparison     performance. If you want
product. To ensure that                                                           test. The winner of     to find out who’s the best-
our readers have all the                                                          the Best Perfor-        of-class in the various
information they need to                                                          mance Award will be     product categories, turn to
make an informed buy-                                                             the product that        the Zero1 Awards feature
ing decision, engineers at                                                        scored the highest in   this month. From 3D
DMTRC evaluate and                                                                the performance seg-    graphics cards to games,
review the latest hard -                                                          ment of our tests.      laser printers and scanners,
ware, software and technology services in accor-     This award represents the best performing prod-      we bring you the products
dance with the most up-to-date evaluation            uct in our tests and doesn’t factor in any other     that have excelled in tech-
processes and methodologies used around              parameter such as value for money, features, sup-    nology, innovation and
the world.                                           port, etc. The winner of the Best Value Award        performance.
                                                     will be the product that scores the highest in           We also bring you a crop
Comparison Tests                                     our value for money parameter which is derived       of some of the most bleed-
We use a dual rating system, the first of which is                   taking into account the ratio of     ing-edge products in our
                    applied to the Comparison                        a product’s performance and fea-     Bazaar section. Reviewed
                    Tests in which we compare                        tures to its price. The product      here is the formidable Her-
                    the performance of products                      winning this award offers good       cules 3D Prophet 9700 Pro
                    within a particular category.                    performance at a great price.        graphics accelerator—to
                        Each product is evaluat-                                                          date, the fastest graphics
                    ed under different parame-       In Bazaar                                            card in the world for gam-
                    ters such as performance,        The second part of the rating system is used to      ing. The product that could
                    value for money, features,       evaluate individual hardware and software prod-      just make the sub-Rs 20,000
                    warranty and support, etc.       ucts in the Bazaar section. The evaluation covers    PC become a reality. Find
                        Weightages are then          parameters such as performance, ease of use,         out also how the new Mini-
                    applied to the various test      value for money and the build quality/features of    ITX form factor mother-
                    parameters according to          the product in question and then arrives at an       board from VIA stacks up in
                    their     importance      for    overall rating.                                      our tests.
                    that particular category of          Here each of these parameters is given a             There are also a host of
                    products.                        weightage of 25 per cent and is rated on a scale     droolable peripherals such
                        These weightages are         of 5, which is represented by arrows ( ).            as the Logitech Cordless
                    then used to arrive at an            The greater the number of arrows, the better     Freedom Optical keyboard
                    overall grade for each indi-     the product. This simple five-point rating system    and Microsoft’s new wireless
                    vidual product. An overall       is designed to give you an easy-to-interpret         Intellimouse Explorer optical
                    grade of A+, therefore, indi-    assessment of a product. For example, a product      mouse.
                    cates that the product is        that receives an overall score of five arrows sig-       On the software front,
                    close to perfection.             nifies an outstanding buy!                           we review the newest itera-
                                                                                                          tion of Red Hat, version
                                                                                                          8.0, and also a couple of
                  The 5-point Rating System used in Bazaar
                                                                                                          great tools such as Norton
               Excellent: a brilliant combination of price, performance and features—far                  AntiVirus 2003 for combat-
               beyond expectations                                                                        ing the threats posed by
               Good: a good buy, better than most products in its category                                the increasing army of
               Average: reasonably competent but nothing spectacular about the product                    viruses, and Adobe LiveMo-
               Mediocre: does not live up to expectations, needs improvement in many areas                tion 2.0, which will help
               Poor: has serious drawbacks and needs improvement before it can be                         you add pizzazz to your
               used for its target application                                                            Web sites.



          44                                                                                                            DECEMBER 2002
01 Award final.qxd 4/28/2004 5:39 PM Page 46




                      46                       DECEMBER 2
01 Award final.qxd 4/28/2004 5:39 PM Page 47




             L   ike with passengers on a speeding train, our perception of
             technology is but a fleeting blur—technology is constantly
             changing, sometimes faster than you can grasp! And this year
             has seen some of the most influential arrivals in the field. With
             advancements in processor fabrication processes, quantum
             leaps in 3D graphics hardware design, and smoother and mor
             efficient application software, our experience of technology ha
             evolved from working with toolbars to getting the maximum ou
             of our beige box.

             Be it games, communication or office tasks, the combination o
             today’s bleeding-edge hardware and feature-rich software has
             raised our levels of interaction, efficiency and experience to
             higher peaks. We have been witnessing these changes
             throughout the year in our labs, so we think it only fitting to
             bring you the best on a platter at the end of the year.

             In the never-ending quest for the faster, higher and stronger,
             we bring you the Zero1 Awards 2002.




                                                                     IMAGING:   Swaroop B




                      47                                                 DECEMBER 2
01 Award final.qxd 4/28/2004 5:39 PM Page 48




             3D GRAPHICS

            A
                    rdent gamers are not used to settling for anything lower         Nominees
                    than the best when it comes to their favourite games,            Name         Contacts          Comments
                    be it a first person shooter or a racing simulation. But                      Xserve India Pvt
                                                                                      GeForce4                     This GeForce4-based card has 64 M
             at the rate that graphics technology advances, what’s hot                Ti 4600     Ltd,             of DDR memory. It logged a com
             today is stone cold a few months down the line. This year has                        Ph: 080-5202915 mendable score in our gaming bec
             seen some of the most formidable technologies, where more                                             marks, making it an idea complem
                                                                                                                   to a fast gaming system
             pipelines, and faster core and memory speeds have allowed
                                                                                      GeForce4    Xserve India Pvt With a 250 MHz core and a 444 M
             cards such as nVidia’s GeForce4 and ATi’s Radeon 9700 to blur
                                                                                      Ti 4200     Ltd,             memory speed, this 64 MB DDR
             the line between high performance gaming and cinema-like                             Ph: 080-5202915 memory-based card packs the hor
             graphics.                                                                                             power to get you through your ga
                                                                                                                   ing escapades comfortably
             Behind the polygons
             Forthcoming games will use larger, more detailed textures.              These factors will ensure that you won’t have to live thro
             Game developers are already going all-out in creating high-             your first DOOM 3 experience like it was a slideshow!
             polygon count models and game characters. These games will
             demand Programmable Pixels, at least 64 MB of DDR video                 And the award goes to…
             memory and of course, faster core and memory                            The graphics card that impressed us this year with its best-of-c
             speeds. Programmable GPUs allow game                                    processing power and stunning frame rates in games was
             developers to create custom effects in                                  Gainward GeForce4. Sporting a 300 MHz core speed and 128
             models and environ-                                                           of DDR memory (effectively running at 640 MHz), the c
             ments—all this spells                                                               delivered the highest frame rates we have ever see
             the need for the fastest                                                                  gaming: in Quake III Arena, even with the r
             video memory you can                    Gainward                                          lution cranked up to 1024x768, with 4x a
             afford on your graphics                 GeForce4                                      aliasing, 32-bit texture depth and with all o
             card and faster AGP                     Gainward Co Ltd,                              quality settings kept at their maximum values,
                                                     Ph: 886-2-26966777
             interfaces such as AGP                                                                card pushed out over 100 fps on a test system c
                                            The verdict: This card has a massive 300 MHz core
             8x. Also remember that you     and 640 MHz of DDR memory. It shattered all record     prising of a 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 processor! W
             will need a powerful system    on our gaming benchmarks, proving to be the fastest    this card, you will be able to enjoy the latest ga
             processor to run these         vehicle for a killer gaming experince!                 at butter-smooth frame rates without sacri
             graphics      powerhouses.                                                            on graphics quality.




             GAMES
             Unreal Tournament 2003                                                     Incorporat -



            S
                  moke streaming through floor gratings, a flickering blue           ing a very                     Unreal
                  light reflecting off a steel door, rusted girders looming          powerful set                   Tournament
                  through a murky corridor—Unreal Tournament 2003 is the             of level edit-                 2003
                                                                                                                    Milestone
             path-breaking game that set new standards for realism in 3D             ing and cre-
                                                                                                           Interactive Software,
             gaming. It sports a radically new game engine that allows for an        ation tools, the      Ph: 022-28381614
             intensive level of detail and environmental splendour, which            playability and       The verdict: With a new game
             can be enjoyed even on a mid-range machine without slowing              the level of varia-   engine that allows greater detail, Unreal
             down to a slideshow. Retaining all the classic elements of a            tion in this game     Tournament 2003 sets new standards for
                                                                                                           realism
             winning First Person Shooter, the game has vast and playable            can be supple-
             levels, radical weaponry and modes of gameplay to keep an               mented        with
             enthusiast riveted for hours. It also features one of the most          user-created add-ons and enhancements, ensuring that
             realistic physics engines where bodies and elements move and            Tournament 2003, like its predecessor, will continue to enj
             react to external stimulus more realistically.                          long life.


                       48                                                                                                             DECEMBER 2
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             CD-WRITERS

             O
                      nce upon a time, CD-Writer drives were so expensive            Nominees
                      that they didn’t feature on most people’s upgrade list.         Name         Contacts           Comments
                      But the technology behind these drives has developed
                                                                                      ASUS         Neoteric           This 48x CD-Writer boasts of very
             rapidly and simultaneously, the cost of manufacture has                               Infomatique,
                                                                                      CRW-                            good write speeds and features te
             dropped, resulting in a range of very affordable drives.                 4816A        Ph: 022-           nologies that let it write disks even
                Today, prices of CD-Writer drives equal those of DVD-ROM                           24172600           data is temporarily suspended, allo
             drives and most budget processors. Most CD-Writers (in similar                                           ing it to take off from where it
             speed ranges) are priced in the same range, making it difficult to                                       stopped
             choose one. However, keeping in mind the parameters that do              LITEON       Mediatech India,   This CD-Writer drive did well in th
                                                                                      48x12x48     Ph: 022-           write and re-write tests and given
             affect the performance and reliability of these drives, one can                       56396696
                                                                                      CD-                             its performance, it is also very
             decide which is best suited to a particular task. While different        Writer                          affordable
             CD-Writers support varying speeds for write and re-write tasks,
             there is a point beyond which the effective speed of CD-Writers           RW drives are such that the variance is not more than a th
             does not make any real difference.                                        sand rupees between the slowest and the fastest drives
                                                                                       there. If your work involves occasional CD-writing where
             The burning decision                                                      would not need to burn many CDs on an ongoing basis,
             A year ago, CD-Writers supported speeds such as 12x write, 4x             an entry-level 40x drive would be a good choice. Howeve
             re-write and 32x read. Then a 650 MB CD-R written at an 8x                speed is critical, especially in professional applications w
             speed, for example, would take about 15 minutes. In compari-              quality is also paramount, then it would make sense to in
             son, today’s fast 48x20x48x drives can write a 700 MB CD in               in a 42x drive that features at least an 8 MB buffer with s
             under 4 minutes at the fastest setting. However, every disk has               form of buffer underrun protection so as to prevent any
             a lead in and lead out which takes about a minute to                                 CDs while other applications are also running du
             complete. Therefore, even with faster CD-Writer                                            the burn process.
             drives, you would not be                                                                             In the case of external CD-Writers
             able to tell the difference                                                                         most important parameter is the in
             in speeds as you would                                                                              face. While external CD-Writers
             between, say, a 12x and a                  Iomega                                                   functionally similar to internal CD-W
             24x drive. Also, you need                  CDRW55296INT-B                                          ers, their performance is maximised
                                                        Neoteric Infomatique,
             to have media that is                                                                          if your computer sports an interface sim
                                                        Ph: 022-24172600
             compliant with such high          The verdict: This 48x write, 24x rewrite drive boasts of     to that of the external drive. Therefor
             write and re-write speeds.        best-of- class speeds and also performs very well while      you plan to buy an external drive base
                 Hence, your choice of CD-     reading CDs                                                  the new USB 2.0 standard, it exploit
             Writer should not be dictated                                                                  fullest potential only if your computer
             by speed alone, but in con-                                                                    has a USB 2.0 port. Otherwise, it woul
             junction with other parameters such as the buffer size and the            limited to the significantly lower 12 Mbps bandwidth of
             buffer underrun technology. The larger the buffer on your drive,          1.1 and you won’t be able to write CDs at more than 4x. If
             the lower are the chances of facing buffer underrun errors while          are going to be taking the drive with you between compu
             writing a CD even if you are performing other tasks on your               it would also be advisable to invest in one that is lig
             computer. This becomes very crucial, as most of us tend to                yet built sturdy so that it can withstand a rigourous life
             multitask.                                                                the road.
                 Along with faster write speeds, today’s CD-Writers also try
             to write more reliably even with other applications running in            And the award goes to…
             the background. In order to take full advantage of these tech-            The Writer that came out a winner this year was the Iom
             nologies, you need to look for similar support in your drive’s            CDRW55296INT-B 48x24x48x drive. It boasted of high w
             software for creating various types of CDs such as Video CDs              speeds and very good data transfer performance, even
             and for creating Audio CDs directly from the MP3s on your                 CD drive. Despite the fact that it featured just 2 MB
             hard disk. With most internal drives pushing the 48x write                buffer memory, its SMARTBURN technology ensures th
             speed mark and the lowest drive beginning at 32x, the limits              reliably writes CD-Rs and CD-RWs even at the highest sp
             of speed have been redefined. Also, prices for most internal CD-          setting.


                      50                                                                                                                  DECEMBER 2
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            CELL PHONES

             T
                   his year has witnessed a host of new technologies in the               Nominees
                   cellular cosmos. While the beginning of the year saw a                 Name       Contacts           Comments
                   lot of improvement in the basic GSM cellular services,
                                                                                           Nokia     Nokia,             Boasting of a keyboard for easier
             towards the latter half of the year, many of the big service                            Ph: 011-6779000
                                                                                           5510                         SMS entry and an in-built MP3
             providers introduced new, more advanced functionality in                                                   player, this cellphone integrates a
             cellular services such as always-on Internet connectivity and                                              of functionality
             new standards such as CDMA and MMS. While we are                              Nokia     Nokia,             With trendy looks, a large contact
             gripped at the cusp of this explosive growth, it is only testa -              8310      Ph: 011-6779000    memory and an integrated FM ra
             ment to the fact that the forthcoming year will put the world                                              this phone delivered very good
                                                                                                                        performance and functionality
             in your palm, via your cell phone. With service providers
             ramping up their technology, it follows naturally that
             the Indian market will be flooded with new cellular devices                  experience when used with other Bluetooth-capable devi
             that support these technologies and services—we are already                  GPRS compliance and MMS functionality should also be
             seeing the first trickle with GPRS and MMS-capable                           in mind for a better multimedia experience and for enab
             cellular phones.                                                             access to information on the Web. To facilitate all this, y
                                                                                          phone will need a good screen with a relatively high resolu
             Make the right call                                                          and preferably with colour support. Last but not the le
             Various factors are instrumental when you go out to buy a cel-               consider parameters such as weight, size and looks—th
             lular phone. At its very basic level, every cellular device in the           would, of course, depend upon your individual preferen
             market lets you make and receive calls, work with SMS and pro -              and personality!
             vides basic scheduling and contact management functionality.                     If you want exclusive boasting rights, search for fu
             Depending on personal preferences, one would either need as                  features such as backlit displays with many colours, p
             many functions and features the phone has to offer with the                  phonic ring tones and full-colour screens. Finally, always
             price being no bar, or one would require basic functionality, with                      the phone and ask the vendor to demonstrate a
             the price being a crucial aspect.                                                         of the features of the phone to you. Use it f
                  If you intend buying a new cell phone in the new year,                                 while and see if it is comfortable to hold
             look for a combination of basic functionality and support for                               operate, especially if you have large or sm
             future standards and services. Along with considering the tra-                               hands. Make and receive calls and see that
             ditional factors such as memory for contacts and messages,                                    volume of the speaker is loud enough for
             long battery life, scheduling, calendar and PIM functionali-                                  to hear clearly without having to str
             ty, you should also demand                                                                     yourself.
             higher specifications in
             each of these. Set your                                                                         And the award goes to…
             sights on a phone that                         Sony Ericsson T68i                               The cell phone that stood out head
                                                            Ericsson
             offers storage for at least                    Ph: 022-24962142                                  shoulders above this year’s crowd in te
             250      phone     numbers,                    The verdict: With features                         of functionality, features and performa
             greater memory for storing             like MMS and GPRS capability, a                            was the Sony Ericsson T68i. Fusing te
             SMS, and standby and talk              large phone and message memory                              nology with great looks, this pho
                                                    and a full colour screen, this tiny
             time in excess of 15 days and                                                                   supports various standards such as GP
                                                    cellphone packs a lot of technol-
             5 hours, respectively. Even in         ogy into a small size                                    MMS and Bluetooth, and is a true pion
             the lower end phones, you                                                                       of cellular phones to come. It keeps
             should ensure that there is                                                                     busy on long trips with eight games
             some form of basic PIM functionality such as scheduling and                  can hold 510 contacts, 150 messages and 30 calls. With
             remider capabilities. Also, it is a wise choice to go in for a phone         advanced Lithium Ion battery, it delivers a standby time o
             based on Lithium Ion batteries as they feaure long talktimes and             to 15 days and a talk time of over 6 hours on a single ch
             useable life.                                                                session.
                  On a higher plane, you should also look at more advanced                    With its 256-colour screen, joystick menu navigat
             features that will let the phone adapt to newer technologies.                system and lightweight form factor, this phone gives
             Bluetooth compliance is one such feature to look for. This                   a surprisingly wide array of technology in a very sm
             wireless standard promises to deliver a transparent wire-free                package.


                       52                                                                                                                  DECEMBER 2
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            DESKTOP PCS

             T
                   he type of computer you buy is largely decided by the             Nominees
                   choice of its components and your budget. At the outset,          Name          Contacts            Comments
                   there is an array of system components and even platforms
                                                                                      HCL         HCL Infosystems  With a 2.4 GHz Pentium 4 CPU and
             to choose from. The best way to approach this decision is from           Beanstalk   Ltd,             DDR RAM, this computer delivered v
             the point of view of the applications you have in mind for your          4455        Ph: 0120-4555219 good performance and also came wi
             machine—are you going to use it for gaming or to surf the Net?                                            good set of connectivity options and
                                                                                                                       peripherals

             Name your brand                                                          HCL         HCL Infosystems  Running on a 2 GHz Pentium 4 CPU
                                                                                      Beanstalk   Ltd,             DDR RAM, this computer fared com
             A Pc for gaming and entertainment would need a robust multi-
                                                                                      4458        Ph: 0120-4555219 mendably in the tests
             media subsystem. For gaming, buy the fastest processor, the most
             RAM and the best graphics card your wallet permits. Also invest
             in a 17-inch monitor at the very least and a good sound system.            and using e-mail, word processing and spreadsheets, a sati
             The latest motherboards integrate full 5.1-channel sound and               tory choice would be built around an 800 MHz to 1.2 GHz-c
             Dolby Digital soundcards are also pretty affordable now. Team up           processor, 256 MB RAM, a 40 GB 5,400-rpm drive and a 15-
             one of these sound systems with a good speaker system—go for               monitor. A motherboard with integrated sound, video and
             at least a four-channel speaker system. A good system for enter-           working subsystems would be quite economical here.
             tainment would be one based around a 1.5 GHz processor or
             higher, 256 MB to 512 MB of RAM, at least a 40 GB 7,200-rpm                And the award goes to…
             hard disk and the best 3D accelerator card you can afford.                                            The computer that delivered the
                 For Web and multimedia authoring, or system-intensive soft-                                     performance during 2002 was the V
             ware such as page layout and image editing applications, your sys-                                  alan Lavish. With its best-of-class
             tem should allow you to                                                                             systems,     it    showed     excel
             multitask effectively, with                                                                              performance in all our tests. R
             ample room for running                                                                                   ning on a 2.53 GHz Pentiu
             and storing your applica -                   Visualan                                                   processor, 256 MB of DDR RAM
             tions and data. Go for a sys-                Lavish                                                    a 40 GB 7,200-rpm Seagate Barrac
             tem with a 1.3 to 1.5 GHz                    Visualan                                         hard disk, this PC did very well in the o
                                                 Technologies,
             processor, 256 MB RAM, at least     Ph: 022-27686817                                          productivity tests. When coupled with
             a 40 GB hard disk and a 17-inch     The verdict: Powered by a formidable 2.53 GHz             ATi Radeon 7500 and a 17-inch LG E700S
             monitor to give you enough          Pentium 4 CPU, DDR RAM and an ATi Radeon 7500             tron monitor, its gaming performance
             real estate to work the applica-    graphics card, this computer performed brilliantly—       also quite commendable. This system imp
                                                 ideal for processor and graphics-intensive applications
             tions at higher resolutions.                                                                  ed additional functionality with its wire
                 For simply surfing the Net                                                                mouse and its 32x CD-Writer drive.




             SYSTEM SUITES
             Ontrack SystemSuite 4.0                                                 partitions! Anoth-



             T
                    he system suite most worthy of the Zero1 Award this year         er tool backs up
                    was Ontrack SystemSuite 4.0. This software comprises a           critical     system
                                                                                                                           Ontrack SystemSuite 4.0
                    wide array of tools and functionality to keep your system        files—an invalu-
                                                                                                                           Ontrack,
             operating at its peak levels. Its good performance can also be          able feature for                      E-mail: sales@ontrack.com
             attributed to its effective firewall and registry cleaner. This reg -   users who install            The verdict: With plenty of functiona
             istry cleaner provides a power interface that lists duplicate and       numerous        applica -    such as an integrated firewall and the
                                                                                                                  ability to recover files from even forma
             null entries from where you can delete specific entries. The fire-      tions and expose their
                                                                                                                  ted partitions, this suite is a must-have
             wall not only protects your computer by blocking ports but also         critical files to rogue
             includes functionality that makes it suited to home users.              programs. All these
                 This software presents a unique tool called EasyRecovery, which     protective and innovative measures are available at a very aff
             recovers permanently erased data as well as files from formatted        able price tag, spiralling Ontarck to the top pedestal.


                       54                                                                                                                  DECEMBER 2
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            DIGITAL CAMERAS

            O
                     nce things get into the digital realm, it naturally gains         Nominees
                     advantages such as portability, ease of archiving and              Name          Contacts              Comments
                     most importantly, no loss of quality even after duplica -
                                                                                        Fuji         Jindal Photo films     Boasting of a 6x optical zoom, thi
             tion. Though digital cameras have been around for some time                             Ltd,
                                                                                        FinePix                             2.1 megapixel camera sported ma
             now, their technology and functionality has come to the fore               2800         Ph: 022-               controls for great photography ev
             only in the recent past. With denser CCDs, smaller form factors,           Zoom         28514441               for amateurs
             more features, exhaustive options, longer battery life and, most           Nikon        Aver Software          Sporting a 2x optical and 2.5x dig
             importantly, a fall in prices, digital cameras are slowly but sure-        CoolPix      Technologies,          zoom, this 2.11 megapixel camera
             ly creeping into the price bracket of the amateur shutter-bug.             800          Ph: 022-               boasted of a large number of cont
                                                                                                     26320472               options for creative photography w
                                                                                                                            many controls over manual setting
             Getting in focus
             The optical parameters of a digital camera are identical to those
             of conventional cameras. This includes the focal length of the                storage. Opt for at least 8 MB of Flash memory or higher—
             camera, the optical zoom, the exposure modes, the manual and                  more you can afford, the better. Optical zoom gives clearer cl
             auto focussing methods and metering modes. However, more                      up shots compared to digital zoom. Digital cameras are also n
             important than these are parameters such as the CCD sensor,                   rious for chewing up batteries. Opt for Lithium Ion batterie
             the amount of memory for storage, the LCD viewfinder, battery                 they are lighter and offer greater capacities; the next best
             type and menu navigation system.                                              NiMH batteries.
                 A camera with a 1.3 megapixel CCD sensor is a good place to
             start for beginners—their resolutions go up to 1280x1024 at 72-                               And the award goes to…
             dpi. Though not suited for printing, it is adequate for viewing                               The camera that shone bright in our tests
             and sharing them                                                                              year was the formidable Olympus Camedi
             online. For basic print                                                                       2100 Ultra Zoom. With its 2.11 megapixel
             photo needs, you need                   Olympus Camedia                                       sor and various modes for metering, flash
             at least a 2.1 megapix-                 C-2100 Ultra Zoom                                     white balance, the camera captured stunn
             el CCD—this allows a                    Komal International,                                  images. The icing on the cake was the 10x o
             resolution     up    to                 Ph: 022-22614015                                      cal zoom and class-leading 27x digital zoom
                                             The verdict: This 2.11
             1600x1200, which is ade-        megapixel camera, with its outstanding 10x optical            allowed you to get really close and personal w
             quate for postcard-sized        zoom and 27x digital zoom, delivered unbeatable pic -         your subject. With a wide array of features, ex
             prints.                         ture quality with plenty of features for creative digital     lent build quality and brilliant imaging
                 All digital cameras         photography                                                   formance, this camera turned out to be
             use some form of Flash                                                                        undisputed winner.




             IMAGE EDITING
             Adobe Photoshop 7                                                         mand is an effective



             T
                    he most-loved image editing software has just become bet-          one-click     colour
                    ter. Adobe Photoshop 7 has enriched the user interface with        correction      tool.
                                                                                                                                    Adobe
                    smoother buttons and inherent cosmetic enhancements.               With      numerous                           Photoshop 7
             Your workspace and the arrangement of palettes and toolbars can           additional     func-               Adobe Systems India Pvt Ltd,
             now be saved and used later by different users. Underneath this           tionalities such as the            Ph: 914532026
             new interface is a range of new tools such as the intuitive visual        improved Liquefy tool              The verdict: With plenty of enhance
                                                                                                                          ments such as the visual image man
             image management system. You can browse through your image                and the Pattern Maker,             agement interface, many new custom
             files here in a thumbnail view with an intuitive Explorer-like nav-       the creative possibili-            brush settings and tools that simplify
             igation interface, which also displays a preview and information          ties are widespread,               commonly used tasks, Photoshop 7
             about the image. Another enhancement is the bloated number of             making Photoshop 7 a               still remains the best in image editin
             over 50 brush presets. The newly incorporated AutoColor com -             clear winner.


                       56                                                                                                                      DECEMBER 2
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            DVD-ROM DRIVES

             D
                     VD-ROM drives are here to stay. Armed with complete                 Nominees
                     backward compatibility for CD-ROM drives, enhanced                   Name         Contacts              Comments
                     functionality in terms of larger data storage and the fact
                                                                                          Liteon       Mediatech India,      A very commendable performer
             that you can watch Dolby Digital movies on them, these enter-                LTD-165H     Ph: 022-56396696      this 16x DVD-ROM drive deliv
             tainers are on everyone’s wish list! A lot has changed over the                                                 ered very good performance an
             past year with DVD-ROM drives—most importantly, the speeds                                                      is also very competitively priced
             and the price. Till recently, users dismissed DVD-ROM drives as              Pioneer      Mnemonic              With its slot-in interface, this
             an unnecessary expense. But due to the spread of DVD movies                  DVD-         Systems,              DVD-ROM drive boastd very
                                                                                          106S/2       Ph: 022-28010871      good performance with excellen
             and the fact that their price has been plummeting for the past
                                                                                                                             build quality.
             one year, DVD-ROM drives are now considered an essential
             upgrade from the CD-ROM drive. Even though there aren’t too
             many applications made for the DVD, it still makes sense to                  Also, it is always adviseable to go for a DVD drive that
             invest in this drive as it warrants higher speeds and total                  packages a good bundle of software which can be used on
             compatibility with CD-ROM drives, especially if you are a                    drive such as DVD playback applications. Since the prim
             movie buff.                                                                  use of DVD-ROM drives is for DVD movie playback, go for
                                                                                          that bundles an application such as PowerDVD or WinD
             Under the lens                                                               Some of the less popular drives do have an advantage
             When considering a DVD-ROM drive, there are a few parame -                   being better-priced, but they might not have a corporate
             ters that you should consider. These are not very different from             site that feautres things like regular updates to the dri
             the things that you would examine when buying CD-ROM                         BIOS to take care of possible bugs or adding functionaly
             drives—the read data transfer speeds, access time and interface              performance.
             still need to be considered. Most 16x DVD-ROM drives available                    Finally, if you create a lot of MP3 files, you should chec
             today boast of sequential read speeds in the range of 6 MBps to              see if the drive supports Digital Audio Extraction (DAE) and
             8 MBps. The access times of these drives range from 70 ms to                 does, see that it is able to do so at speeds of at least 12x if you
             150 ms—the lower, the better. Don’t buy a drive that is rated                             looking for performance.
             to run lower than this speed and stay far away from sub-                                              There are standards like DVD-RAM, D
             16x DVD-ROM drives. Drives with access times lower                                                        RW, DVD-R, DVD+R and all of thes
             than 70 ms will be                                                                                        not necessarily supported by
             slow when you work                                                                                         drives—if a drive does not suppo
             with CD and DVD-                                                                                           particular standard, you will no
                                                     BenQ DVP-1648A
             based      applications,                BenQ India Pvt Ltd,                                            able to read from that media. E
             especially if those                     Ph: 022-25705230                                        though most users stick to DVD disks, there
             applications cause the                  The verdict: This 16x DVD drive                        come a time when other DVD media formats
                                             performed brilliantly in the read tests over various
             drive to read in a random                                                                      be available. Therefore, it makes sense to in
                                             types of data, making it the best suited to applications
             fashion.                        needing frequent CD and DVD access                             in a drive that supports as many standa
                  As with any optical                                                                       as possible.
             drive, make use of its DMA                                                                         Finally, make sure that the drive is abl
             (Direct Memory Access) support by enabling the DMA mode                      play all the DVDs available in your region. Most DVD drive
             from your operating system and from the BIOS. Your machine                   region locked, that is, they can only play DVD movies f
             may show symptoms of degraded performance during DVD                         regions that match their own. You can change the region co
             playback if you run the drive in PIO (Programmed Input/                      a maximum of five times, after which it stays locked at
             Output) mode.                                                                last setting.
                  Most drives are based on the ATA/33 standard though there
             are a few that support ATA/66. However, this standard isn’t                  And the award goes to…
             very crucial, as optical drives never reach even half the band -             The drive that really shone in performance this year was
             width offered by this interface. Finally, look for a drive that has          Benq DVP-1648A 16x DVD drive. With blistering performa
             a large buffer—512 KB is standard but some drives are built                  in the read tests and an excellent access time, the d
             around 256 KB buffers—stay away from these. Apart from per-                  crunched through all the applications it was subjected to.
             formance, also consider support for as many standards as pos -               icing on the cake is that it is also one of the most afford
             sible to ensure that it can be used with a vast spread of media.             drives in the market.


                       58                                                                                                                     DECEMBER 2
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            EXTERNAL STORAGE

             W
                        ith the barriers between our professional and per -                Nominees
                        sonal lives blurring, the need of the day is some -                Name          Contacts            Comments
                        thing that will let you transport your data efficient-                           JIngram Micro
                                                                                           Iomega                            This sleek 20 GB portable hard dis
             ly and reliably between computers. At one time, all we had                    HDD 20        India Pvt Ltd,      provided quick access times and d
             were the trusty CD-R and Zip drives. But today, there is a vast               GB            Ph: 022-            transfers, making it highly suited t
             variety of external storage devices tailor-made for our many                                25202901            transporting large multimeida files
             requirements such as the storage capacity, speed and most                     Freecom       J.S Equipments,     Boasting of a 60 GB size, this hard
                                                                                           FHD-1 60      Ph: 022-            disk sports a USB 2.0 interface and
             importantly, adaptability with the wallet. As a result, we have
                                                                                           GB HDD        23810713            suited to transferring large amoun
             portable CD-Writers based on the USB 2.0 standard for fast
                                                                                                                             of data between computers
             write speeds and even portable hard disk drives that can with -
             stand physical shock and rough treatment.                                    capacities comparable to CD-RW drives, they are not suite
                                                                                          situations that require transfer of large volumes of data, quic
             Choosing your backpack                                                           The most suitable performance devices for external data
             The ideal external storage device for you is largely dependent on            age are the external hard disk drives. They offer high-speed
             your applications. There are three basic kinds of portable storage           transfer and plenty of storage capacity. Also, since they are b
             solutions available today—portable CD-RW drives, portable hard               around high-speed interfaces such as USB 2.0, data transfe
             disks and Zip drives. Each of these are characterised by different           and from these devices is faster than any other external sto
             performance levels, capacity, compatibility and cost.                        device. The USB 2.0 standard connects them to any comp
                 The performance characteristics you need to consider are the             that has a USB port, though you would see the maximum tr
             read and write data transfer speeds between the drive and your               fer rates only when used on USB 2.0 compliant computers.
             host computer for different file types. Also consider the latency            only downside is that they are expensive.
             and the access time when transferring and reading data. Exter-
             nal CD-RW drives are known for the low cost and univer-                                  And the award goes to…
             sal compatibility of their media and are therefore most                                       The external storage device that gets kudos for s
             suited to home users and                                                                          performance this year is the Freecom FHD-
             applications that involve file                                                                     GB external hard disk drive. It is based on
             sizes under 700 MB. Zip drives                                                                      USB 2.0 standard and delivered susta
             are suited only to applications                  Freecom FHD-1 20 GB                                data transfer rates of 17 MBps when rea
             where the installed base of the                  J.S. Equipments,                                   data sequentially. With blistering perfo
                                                              Ph: 022-23810713
             drives among users is large                                                                         ances in both read and write tests for a
                                                    The verdict: With USB 2.0 functionality, this drive pro-
             enough to warrant you to buy           vides the fastest method to get large amounts of data        ety of file types, this drive is ideally suite
             one. Since they are not known          ported from computer to computer                             applications that required gigabytes of
             for their speed and have storage                                                                    to be transferred between locations.




             VIDEO EDITING
             Adobe Premiere 6.0                                                           ly for full-quality



            A
                     dobe Premiere brings with it a host of added function -              previewing. You
                     ality and a very powerful set of features for working                can create video
                     with digital video. It includes FireWire support                     for the Internet in                     Adobe Premiere 6.0
                                                                                                                                  Adobe Systems India
             through which you can hook up a DV cam to your computer                      a variety of opti -
                                                                                                                                  Pvt Ltd,
             and transfer high-quality video for processing in NTSC or PAL                mised      formats               Ph: 914532026
             format. Many parameters such as the frame size and rate,                     such as QuickTime and            The verdict: With a host of features
             compression ratio, colour depth, audio, etc can be config-                   RealMedia. Premiere 6.0          like FireWire support for DV cameras,
                                                                                                                           export to web-based video fomats,
             ured.                                                                        also contains a complete
                                                                                                                           added effects and robust audio sup
                 There is also support for the widescreen (16:9) format. A DV             99-track Audio Mixer             port, this a brilliant digital video edi
             editing mode enables the program to send captured and rendered               for professional-level           ing tool for professionals
             digital video through the FireWire port to an external device direct-        audio mixing.


                       60                                                                                                                          DECEMBER 2
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             HARD DISK DRIVES

             O
                     ver the past year, hard disk drives have evolved from the           Nominees
                                                                                         Name          Contacts         Comments
                     entry-level standard of 5,400-rpm to 7,200-rpm and
                     capacities now dictate that hard disks of 40 GB are the                          Wales             This hard disk has a 2 MB buffer an
                                                                                          IBM
             bare minimum for any application. With further enhancements                  IC35l080A   Technologies,     7,200-rpm spindle speed. It is idea
             in fabrication processes, manufacturing costs have been low-                 V VA07-0    Ph: 022-          suited to applications that require
             ered and this has resulted in a drop in prices. This is the primary                      23828100          response from the storage subsyste
             reason why some 7,200-rpm drives today are only marginally                   Western     ACI Infocom,      Sporting a whopping 200 GB capa
                                                                                          Digital     Ph: 022-          this hard disk delivered astonishing
             more expensive than their 5,400-rpm counterparts.
                                                                                          WD2000      28266031          speed in various types of data trans
                                                                                                                        applications
             On the right track
             When looking for a hard disk drive, the best way to decide                    maximum potential, they have to be supported by your m
             which one is ideal for you is to evaluate the technology used,                erboard and the resultant speed gains are only noticed w
             along with the capacity it offers. The parameters that influence              the rotations speed of the hard disks are higher. There
             the performance are the data transfer rate while reading and                  7,200-rpm drives use these interfaces more efficiently
             writing different types of data, access time, amount of buffer                5,400-rpm drives. Finally, the buffer on the hard disk play
             memory and finally the interface.                                             important role in holding information temporarily when
                 The 5,400-rpm drives naturally deliver lower data transfer rates          is being written to or read from the hard disk—the large
             compared to the 7,200-rpm drives. For example, 5,400-rpm drives               buffer, the faster is the response of the hard disk. Nearly al
             generally offer sequential read data transfer rates in the region of          hard disks available today have a 2 MB data buffer.
             32 to 42 MBps, while 7,200-rpm drives offer 48 to 54 MBps. The
             access times specified for 5,400-rpm drives should not be more                And the award goes to…
             than 12 ms, while for 7,200-rpm drives it should not exceed 9 ms.                                 The drive that has the honour of being
             Faster access times will result in                                                                    fastest drive of the year is the Western
             speedier access to distributed sets                                                                        ital WD1000. This 100 GB mons
             of data across your hard disk.                                                                                  based on a 7,200-rpm spi
                 Today’s hard disks sport                        Western Digital                                               speed. It blazed through our
             ATA/100 interface and the                           WD1000                                                       and clocked some of the fa
             newer ones are just beginning                       ACI Infocom,                                                data transfer rates we’ve seen
             to feature ATA/133 interfaces. Both                 Ph: 022-28266031                                           IDE hard disk drive. With exce
                                                        The verdict: Boasting of a 7,200-rpm
             these interface feature maximum                                                                           data transfer rates in both seque
                                                        spindle speed and a 100 GB storage capacity, this hard
             data transfer rates of 100 MBps and        disk drive shattered all records for data transfer speed       and random reads and writes, this d
             133 MBps, respectively. However,           over various applications                                      is ideally suited to applications
             in order to utilise them to their                                                                         demand the best in storage bandw




             OPERATING SYSTEMS
             Windows XP Professional                                                    uring new peripher-



             A
                    proven operating system in a swanky new dressing,                   als and technologies
                    Windows XP Professional still rules with its powerful fea -         is intuitive with
                                                                                                                                Windows XP
                    tures, security and added functionality in a good-looking           most of the manage-
                                                                                                                                Professional
             and intuitive interface. It incorporates features such as ClearText        ment tasks being                        Microsoft Corporation
             and the integration of hardware-accelerated graphics for the GUI.          wizard driven. This            India Pvt Ltd,
             The re-worked Start menu gives access to often used applications           OS even works well             Ph: 011-26292640
             and can be customised to individual preferences. On the security           with older programs as         The verdict: With a host of function
                                                                                                                       ity, great looks and a robust architec
             front, it incorporates the robustness and stability of Windows             they can be defined to         ture, this operating system still shine
             2000 and has a firewall for added security. With a redefined layout        run in an environment          for even the most demanding office
             for applications and system settings, controlling and accessing the        that mimics older              applications
             settings and components of the OS is easy. The process of config-          Windows OSes.


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             INKJET PRINTERS

             I
                nkjet printers bring all those visualisations, documents,               Nominees
                presentations and pictures to vivid life on paper. While                Name          Contacts             Comments
                most high-quality printers in the beginning of the year
                                                                                         HP           Hewlett-Packard      This printer sports a print resolutio
             touched resolutions of 1440-dpi, towards the end of the year                             India Ltd,
                                                                                         Deskjet                           of 2400-dpi and features a 2 MB
             we saw the best of the pack boasting print resolutions of up to             920C         Ph: 011-6826000      buffer. It delivered excellent result
             2400-dpi—and there seems to be no signs of this rise in                                                       photo printing
             resolutions stopping.                                                       Canon        Canon India Ltd,     Based on a 1440-dpi print engine
                                                                                         S4500        Ph: 011-6806572      this bubble jet printer delivered go
             Read the fine print                                                                                           results when printing graphically
                                                                                                                           detailed images
             When talking about the performance of a printer, there are two
             parameters that should be kept in mind—print quality and
             printing speed. In print quality, the primary factor that deter -            understandably be lower than while printing plain text. A g
             mines the clarity is the resolution of the printer—the greater               inkjet printer should have a text printout rate of about 9 p
             the resolution, the greater is the number of dots it can pack into           per minutes (ppm). In the case of colour photo printouts
             a unit of area on a page. The latest printers support print reso -           time taken will vastly vary according to the type of print
             lutions of up to 2400 dpi, which results in photo-quality prints             the quality chosen.
             when using the correct paper. Before buying a printer, always                    While looking for speed, print using draft or econ
             analyse a sample print under best quality mode and make sure                 mode as this uses less ink and subsequently takes less tim
             it meets your quality needs.                                                 print. Finally, the interface plays an important role, espe
                If you are looking for quality, the type of paper supported and           ly if you print in large quantities or if you print graphic-in
             the setting of the driver are two very important factors. For the            sive files. A faster interface such as USB allows the comp
             best possible prints, make sure that your printer                             to spool print information much faster than an older inte
             prints on special kinds of paper such as coated,                                          such as a parallel port. Finally, choose a pri
             glossy or inkjet paper, as this results in superior                                            with a print buffer of at least 64 KB. The gre
             quality printouts. Also see that the printer has spe-                                          the amount of buffer memory, the smoo
             cial modes of printing images and photographs.                                                  the    printing     of     larger   files   s
                Secondly, analyse the print speed—this is                                                   as photographs.
             largely depen-
             dant on the                                                                                  And the award goes to…
             type of docu -                   HP Deskjet 970CXi                                       The best inkjet printer this year was the HP Des
             ment     being                   Hewlett Packard India Ltd,                          970CXi. With its formidable 2400-dpi print resolu
                                              Ph: 011-6826000
             printed. In the                                                                      capability and support for a variety of papers, this p
                                              The verdict: With an astounding 2400-dpi
             case of graph-          print capability and 4 MB of buffer memory, this print-      er produced truly stunning prints and delivered g
             ics-intensive           er delivered stunning results in photo printing and          performance when it came to print speeds over text
             documents, the          graphically demanding applications                           graphics. It even managed to impress us in the pr
             speeds     would                                                                     sional print domain.




             PAGE LAYOUT SOFTWARE
             Adobe InDesign 2.0                                                        tables   can    be                      Adobe



            I
                                                                                                                               InDesign 2.0
                 n the battle for the perfect page layout software, Adobe              imported directly
                                                                                                                               Adobe systems India Pvt Ltd,
                 InDesign 2.0 proved its mettle. With its extensive support for        from Word and                           Ph: 914532026
                 text and image handling, it makes working with complex                Excel files. The magic            The verdict: Adobe InDesign 2.0 ha
             files such as brochures and magazines a snap. InDesign has spe -          of layers has been                very powerful text and picture han
                                                                                                                         dling capabilities, and gets top hon
             cial support for working with image files from within the pro -           exploited well. It can
                                                                                                                         ours in the page layout software cat
             gram itself, therefore, you don’t need to resort to a separate            also open files from              gory. For users of Adobe products, t
             image editing software. Its ability to handle text effects and            other applications such           application sports a similar interface
             tables is far superior compared to other page layout software and         as Quark Express.


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             INPUT DEVICES

             T
                    he ubiquitous mouse and the keyboard are our real inter-        this decides the smoothness of the response. Choose one w
                    faces into the digital world. Though there have been            rating of at least 1000 dpi and a sampling rate of at least 80
                    numerous suggestions for more advanced forms of get-            Avoid mice based on a serial interface as these support very
             ting information into the computer all through the years, there        sampling rates. Look for additional buttons
             is no device that has quite matched the convenience that the           for added func-
             keyboard and mouse offers—even after the arrival of such tools         tionality      in
             as speech recognition.                                                 working     with                  Microsoft Wireless
                                                                                                                      IntelliMouse Explorer
                                                                                    applications. For
                                                                                                                      Microsoft Corporation
             Pushing the right buttons                                              performance,                      India Pvt Ltd,
             Input devices are broadly characterised by their interface, func-      choose an opti-                   Ph: 011-26292640
             tionality, ergonomics and the technology used. In the case of          cal mouse over            The verdict: Using the tried and proven
             keyboards, the best kinds are those that offer good features and       a roller mouse as         optical sensor, this mouse takes on the
                                                                                                              wireless advantage with a very contoure
             are comfortable to type on. If you use many multimedia appli-          the former is far
                                                                                                              and comfortable styling
             cations such as audio and video players, look for a keyboard           smoother         and
             that offers many function keys with programmable buttons for           requires less main-
             specialised tasks. Go for one with a USB interface.                    tenance. Finally, try it out for feel and make sure that it is
                 Wireless radio-frequency (RF) or infrared keyboards elimi-         fortable in your hands and offers enough tactile response.
             nate the tangle of wires on your desktop. Opt for
             the RF kind since they offer the freedom of                            And the award goes to…
             being anywhere in the room, and not nec -                              Sporting a great looking design and colour combination,
             essarily in the line of sight of the computer                          Logitech Cordless Freedom Keyboard is easily the keyboar
             to be able to                                                           the year. It has an array of buttons to control your multim
             use them.                        Logitech Cordless                     applications and has shortcut keys and application key
                The most                      Freedom Optical Keyboard              accessing specific features of your programs. The keys
             important                        Logitech, Ph: 022-26427501            ergonomically placed and are tactile and responsive.
             performance                      The verdict: Using a wireless RF          The mouse voted to be the best in its category is the Micr
                                              technology, this keyboard offers a
             characteristic                                                         Wireless Intellimouse Explorer. Using optical sensor techno
                                     hassle free interface to your computer. It
             of a mouse is the       sports a good design, with responsive keys     this mouse features programmable buttons that can be use
             resolution     (in      and plenty of shortcuts for accessing often-   navigate through applications and control various featur
             dpi) and the            used applications                              games. It gives you accurate control without the hassle of w
             sampling rate—                                                         on your desktop.




             VECTOR GRAPHICS/ILLUS-                                                 created as ‘symbols’, which can then be saved in a library
             CorelDRAW 11                                                           recalled on later projects. A bundled application called R



             O
                      ne of the best illustration software has just got better—     lets you create cool rollovers and 3D vector extrusions to
                      CorelDRAW 11 has some amazing new features and                pizzazz to your vector-based animations. With
                      functionality, making it one of the most powerful vec-        numerous new intelligent tools, CorelDRAW 11
             tor drawing applications. Its numerous drawing tools let you           is the best illustration application you can work
             create a variety of elements, and the customisable toolbars                     with for fast and professional results.
             and menus with individual macros can be saved to specific
             workspaces. The cross-platform functionality lets you work
             with files from different sources and the import/export filters                 CorelDRAW 11
             make this task simple. The three-point drawing tools let you                    Triffin Technologies, Ph: 011-6486447
                                                                                             The verdict: Integrating powerful new vec-
             create a variety of curves and shapes with a minimum num-
                                                                                     tor image manipulation capabilities, support for user-created symb
             ber of clicks. Tools such as Weld, Trim and Intersect allow speed       and macros for accessing often-used commands, this is the most
             and efficiency when working with a variety of objects in a sin-         comprehensive and powerful software for vector illustrations
             gle drawing. You can also save shapes and drawings that you’ve


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            LAPTOPS                                                                    Nominees


            L
                   aptops let you take your work home, your home to work                Name         Contacts              Comments
                   and your play to the road—and today’s laptops do this
                                                                                         ACi        Allied Computer        This laptop features a 1.5 GHz Penti
                   better than ever. Now the name of the game is immense                 Impression International (Asia)   4 Mobile processor, 256 MB of DD
             functionality in terms of integrated peripherals and connectiv-                        Pvt Ltd,               memory and even a DVD-ROM driv
             ity, with no compromise on processing power.                                           Ph: 022-26366800       ideal for the power-hungry professio
                                                                                         Zenith      Zenith Computers Sporting a 1.6 GHz Pentium 4 Mob
             One for the road                                                            Portable    Ltd,             processor and 128 MB of DDR mem
                                                                                         Desktop     Ph: 022-28377300 ry, this laptop is a suitable desktop
             The most important question to ask when buying a laptop is
                                                                                                                      replacement and offers many route
             what application is it going to be used for? This will help give                                         configurability and peripheral supp
             you the parameters to judge it by. For example, a laptop replete
             with features and processing power but slightly heavy and on
             the larger side, would suit users who plan to carry it between             tooth connectivity. Also keep an eye out for integrated perip
             places but the bulk of the usage would be at a desktop and in              als such as a CD-RW drive or a DVD-ROM drive.
             transit. On the other hand, those who want portability over all                If portability is your main requirement, go for the smallest
             else, should look for the smallest, thinnest and lightest device           lightest laptop you can find, though you might have to trade
             they can find, even at the cost of a slight loss on the processing         on processing power and integrated functionality. Finally, con
             power and perhaps on the functionality front too.                          er the battery life—since the device is primarily meant for the r
                 This gives us a few characteristics that need to be evaluated          search for a laptop that specifies a standby time of at least 4 hou
             before buying a laptop. Firstly, the processor is very important                       anything less would require you to carry around y
             since it gives you the power to run all your applications. Go for                      charger and stay on a constant lookout for power sou
             one that complements your applications and needs. The same                            you can charge it from.
             applies for the amount of RAM and the hard disk capacity.
             Next, evaluate the number of connectivity options you                                 And the award goes to…
             need. If you make                                                                   The laptop that screeched with sheer performance
             many presentations,                                                                         the ACi Emerald. Boasting a 2 GHz Pentiu
             you need video out -                     ACi Emerald                                         processor, 128 MB DDR RAM and a 20 GB h
             puts for displaying on                   Allied Computer                                    disk, this laptop has the power to keep you w
             a projector, integrated                  International (Asia) Pvt Ltd,                      ing smoothly while on the road. In terms of c
             Ethernet and modem                       Ph: 022-26366800                                   nectivity, it featured four USB ports, a FireW
                                             The verdict: Built around a 2 GHz Pentium 4 mobile
             for connectivity. In newer                                                                  port and integrated Ethernet and modem. W
                                             processor with DDR memory, this computer is a very
             laptops, you can even get       viable desktop replacement, even for the most graphi-       adequate power and plenty of connecti
             features such as 802.11b        cally intensive tasks                                       options, this device blurs the difference betw
             WiFi compliance or Blue-                                                                    a desktop and a laptop.




             ANTI-VIRUS
             Norton AntiVirus 2003                                                      tial for safety. It packs



             O
                     ne of the most trusted names in the industry, Norton’s             the trademark compul -
                     newest version strives to give you higher security.                sory scheduling agent
                                                                                                                                       Norton
                     Norton AntiVirus 2003 incorporates a new scanning                  and auto-update feature.                       AntiVirus
             engine; it even scans your instant messenger for any harmful                   With a wide array of                       2003
             programs that might sneak in through file transfers during chat            features, easy interface           Symantec, Ph: 022-26570658
             conversations. Norton AntiVirus 2003’s new, smoother engine                and the ability to track           The verdict: Norton AntiVirus 200
                                                                                                                           boasts of a new scanning engine
             is both light on the system and fast at scanning, making it less           even your instant mes -
                                                                                                                           that is significantly lighter on the
             tedious to scan large volumes or entire hard disks.                        senger, Norton AntiVirus           system, newer and up-to-date viru
                 The software protects your computer against SMTP-based                 2003 wins top honours              definitions and the ability to even
             worms, Trojans, etc. It is extremely user-friendly, with numerous          for    protecting    your          restore files damaged due to viruse
             wizards for configuring and setting the various parameters essen-          systems.


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             LASER PRINTERS

            L
                   aser printers have always been the machines of choice for             Nominees
                   applications that require large volumes of printouts with -           Name         Contacts              Comments
                   out sacrificing on print clarity. As a technology, it is more
                                                                                          Samsung     Samsung Electronics   This printer returned very good pr
             expensive than any other print technology, but when it comes                             India Information &   quality in text and graphics. It has
                                                                                          ML-1450
             to dealing with text, no other comes close to delivering the                             Telecommunication     some interesting features such as t
             speed and quality of a laser printer. This is why they are the de                        Ltd,                  ability to print documents on 6 by
             facto standard for mass printing in the corporate environment,                           Ph: 011-6322517       sheet sizes for posters
             where the workflow is heavy.                                                 Hewlett-    Hewlett-Packard       This printer offers very good print
                                                                                          Packard     India Ltd,            quality for monochrome document
                                                                                          Laserjet    Ph: 011- 6826000      and fared very well even in speed t
             Look sharp                                                                   1200se                            when printing large documents,
             When evaluating the performance of a laser printer, two param -                                                thanks to its 8 MB print buffer mem
             eters need to be considered—the print quality and the print
             speed. The resolution of the laser printer defines the clarity of the         icantly higher amount of buffer memory compared to inkjet
             printouts and is usually in the range of 300 to 600 dpi for most              dot matrix printers. Entry-level laser printers should feature at
             laser printers. High-end printers boast up to 1200 dpi resolution.            2 MB of buffer memory. Depending on specific needs, this spe
             While this is significantly lower than inkjet printers, it is ade -           cation can go all the way up to 64 MB. Some enterprise-class p
             quate for printing text and graphics with reasonable clarity.                                  ers even have dedicated hard disk drives for sto
                 Most laser printers have speeds ranging from 15 to 25 pages                                   print jobs while they are being processed.
             per minute (ppm) and some others built for enterprise appli-
             cations go all the way up to 40                                                                    And the award goes to…
             ppm. This is the primary spec-                                                                          The laser printer of choice for the
             ification that defines the cost                Canon LBP1210                                             2002 is the Canon LBP1210. This d
             of the printer. Another very                   Canon India Ltd,                                          top printer sports a 600-dpi print en
             important component is the                     Ph: 011-680 6572                                     and has a USB as well as parallel interf
             buffer, which is the memory                    The verdict: Based upon a                       With a 250-sheet paper tray, it packs the cap
                                                     600-dpi print engine and sporting both a
             that holds the print jobs before        USB and a parallel interface, this laser print-    ty to handle most medium load print jobs. It
             they get printed—since laser print-     er boasts of commendably high print                has a 2 MB print buffer and delivers swift prin
             ers are meant to handle large print     speeds in the text as well as graphics modes       speeds while printing both text as well as mo
             volumes, they must have a signif-                                                          chrome graphics.




             OFFICE SUITES
             Microsoft Office XP                                                         paste options that



             T
                    he arrival of Microsoft Office heralded a new age of sim-            let you choose from                   Microsoft
                    plicity for tasks such as word processing and working                a variety of copied                   Office XP
                    with spreadsheets. Even though Microsoft Office XP has               objects, from differ-                 Microsoft
                                                                                                                        Corporation India Pvt Ltd,
             been around for a year, it is still the best office suite in terms          ent formats. You can also
                                                                                                                        Ph: 011-6292640
             of functionality and features. With a range of intuitive and                perform multiple selec-        The verdict: Still the reigning bes
             task-simplifying tools, getting work done in Office XP is                   tions from documents,          Office XP integrates wizards, the
             easier than ever.                                                           which helps you manage         task pane and extensive tools,
                                                                                                                        offering you the greatest function
                 New features such as the task pane give you a dashboard view            formatting options and
                                                                                                                        ality and features for working with
             of everything from wizards to settings and options for the vari-            editing tasks with much        Office tasks
             ous tools. This arranges all your tools in front of you so that you         greater ease. Incorporat-
             don’t have to dig deep into the menus to look for a particular              ing a greater number of
             formatting setting. Small enhancements such as the Smart Paste              features such as formatting, fonts, etc has also enhanced
             function let you choose whether you want to copy text along                 right-click menu. With excellent functionality and intuitive
             with formatting options or if you want to discard them and use              methods of accessing configuration menus, this applica
             new formatting options. Along with this, it also has multiple               incorporates features that let you get more done, faster.


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            CRT MONITORS

             W
                        hile the basic functioning of a CRT monitor has not             Other Winners
                        changed much over the years, there have been                    Name         Contacts           Comments
                        tremendous advancements in the way CRTs are                     14- AND 15-INCH MONITORS
             manufactured. Resolutions have increased, and technolo-                     Viewsonic Priya Ltd,        This high-performance 1280x102
                                                                                         E53        Ph: 022-22663611 capable 15-inch monitor features
             gies used to fabricate the picture tubes have been improved,                                            0.28 mm dot pitch and even inte
             resulting in image quality far greater than what we were                                                grates a USB hub in the base—exc
             used to even as recently as a year ago.                                                                 lent for office and home applicatio
                                                                                                                     where quality it a must
                                                                                        17-INCH MONITORS
             The big picture                                                             Viewsonic Priya Ltd,        Sporting a 0.25 mm dot pitch, th
             CRT monitors range from the lowly 14-inch screens to the 22-                G73f       Ph: 022-22663611 one of the few 17-inch monitors
                                                                                                                     delivered a screen resolution of
             inch big screens. If most of your work is centred on word pro-                                          1600x1200. This was accompani
             cessing, spreadsheets, the Internet and e-mail, a 15-inch monitor                                       with brilliant imaging and geome
             will serve you adequately. However, with the fall in prices of 17-                                      performance
             inch monitors, it would be a wise decision to invest in a 17-inch-
             er in view of the higher resolution and refresh rate it supports. This       the-line specifications and features. With support for a stunn
             greatly enhances the experience in the gaming and entertainment              2048x1536 resolution, this 21-inch monitor is a designer’s dre
             areas. Also consider the resolution. With a 17-inch monitor, you             toy. It performed brilliantly in our tests and delivered outsta
             should be able to run your display at a resolution of 1280x1024              ing image quality in the colour and screen geometry tests.
             and a refresh rate of at least 75 Hz to reduce eyestrain.                                                In the 14- and 15-inch category,
                 Finally, look for a monitor that lets you adjust the colour and                                 Viewsonic E53 performed brilliantly
             resolution settings for finer picture and image quality. This would                                 terms of colour reproduction and espe
             include support for modification and tweaking of parameters                                         ly in resolution support—this was the o
             such as focus, colour correction, along with screen geometry                                       15-inch monitor that supported
             control such as raster size                                                                        1280x1024 resolution.
             and shape—all this will let                                                                             In the 17-inch monitor category,
             you tailor your monitor’s                     Sony Multiscan G520                                  Viewsonic G73f delivered brilliant
             display to suit your applica-                 (19- and 21-inch category)                           formance. It was one of the few 17-in
             tions and needs.                              Rashi Peripherals,                                   montiors to support a resolution
                                                            Ph: 022-28260258
                                                                                                                1600x1200. This flat monitor delive
                                                   The verdict: This 21-inch true flat CRT monitor sports a
             And the award goes to…                resolution of an astounding 2048x1536 with a stripe          good colour and geometry reproducti
             The Sony Multiscan G520               pitch of 0.24 mm, resulting in truly brilliant image quality making it an ideal choice for demand
             impressed us with its top-of-                                                                      professional applications.




             WEB AUTHORING SOFT-
             Dreamweaver MX                                                             editable list of all tags



             D
                     reamweaver offers WYSIWYG functionality to Web site                and their attributes in                 Macromedia
                     creation. In its new MX incarnation, the familiar multi-           the current document.                   Dreamweaver
                                                                                                                                MX
                     window, floating-palette interface is replaced by the new             UltraDev—an
                                                                                                                                Wipro Infotech
             MX look and feel. It takes some getting used to, but the dockable          invaluable tool for                     Enterprise Software Group
             panel groups and tabbed document windows prove far more effi-              high-end Web developers         Ph: 080-8440011
             cient. Other welcome changes include the new tabbed Insert                 working with ASP and JSP        The verdict: With a brilliant com
             toolbar, integrated file browsing and the revamped context-sen-            to produce data-driven          nation of WYSIWYG functionality
                                                                                                                        coupled with powerful HTML edi
             sitive Properties panel. HTML coding has also been brought to              Web      sites.     Overall,    ing capabilities, this application i
             the fore with enhanced functionality while working directly with           Dreamweaver MX shines           ideally suited to authoring basic
             code—Code Hinting suggests appropriate alternatives to your                with its ability to author      well as advanced database-driven
             code as you type it. Greater stress is laid on the tag-based nature        hard-hitting Web sites          Web sites
             of Web authoring with the new Tag Inspector showing an                     with the greatest of ease.


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             LCD MONITORS

             T
                    here is something inherently futuristic about LCD dis -            Nominees
                    plays—their sleek form factor makes them every PC own -            Name          Contacts           Comments
                    ers dream peripheral. While LCD-based displays boast of
                                                                                        LG Flatron   LG Electronics,    This whopping 22-inch LCD mo
             lower space requirements, higher contrast and brightness levels            295LM        Ph: 0120-          tor features a widescreen aspect
             compared to their CRT counterparts, they still lag behind CRT                           4560900            supports a resolution of up to
             monitors when it comes to performance. The best LCD moni -                                                 1600x1024 and is ideal for view
             tors offer resolutions of up to 1600x1024, but this is still lower                                         ing DVD movies and demanding
                                                                                                                        page layout and graphics applic
             than that of a CRT’s 2048x1536 resolution on a similar screen                                              tions
             size. This is attributed to the fact that the pixel size of LCD
                                                                                        Sharp        Sharp Business     This 15-inch TFT monitor suppo
             monitors is lower than that of CRT technology.                             LL-T15V1     Systems India      a resolution of up to 1024x768
                                                                                                     Ltd, Ph: 022-      and delivered sharp and stable
             The flat truth                                                                          2884452            images
             At this point in time, however, the main reasons why one would
             choose an LCD monitor is not for its performance but for conven-           where their higher brightness and contrast levels allow them t
             ience and for staying ahead of the technology curve. When look-            viewed from a distance. Many LCD monitors support special
             ing for an LCD monitor, besides the specifications of resolution           tures such as integrated USB ports. Finally, since LCD monitor
             and pixel size, note its response time—this specification decides                                 inherently digital, some of them offer
             the speed with which a pixel can be switched on and off. The lower                                port for special kinds of input such as a
             the response time, smoother will be the display and this will be                                  connector—this allows the monitor to
             apparent while viewing fast-moving content on your screen such                                    driven by a pure digital signal, resultin
             as games and video. The area                                                                      significantly greater image clarity.
             where LCD monitors score
             over CRT is the inherently                                                                         And the award goes to…
                                                         Samsung SyncMaster 171MP
             higher contrast and bright-                 Samsung Electronics India                           The LCD monitor that excelled in
             ness levels—these specifica-                Information &                                       formance proved to be the Samsung Sy
             tions should be at least 300:1              Telecommunication Ltd,                              Master 171MP. With stunning image q
             and 150 cd/m2 to ensure sharp        Ph: 011-6322517                                            ity and a resolution support of up
                                                  The verdict: Supporting a maximum resolution of
             images even with bright ambi-                                                                   1280x1024, this TFT monitor delive
                                                  1280x1024, this TFT monitor features an integrated TV
             ent light. This characteristic       Tuner and at 250 cd/sq.m, it is one of the brightest       very good results when evaluated
             makes LCD monitors ideally           LCD monitors around                                        colour reproduction and response tim
             suited to a public display system                                                               real world applications.




             WEB GRAPHICS
             Adobe LiveMotion 2.0                                                     doing so by frames.



             A
                     dobe LiveMotion 2.0 matches and even exceeds the                 This makes it a snap
                     capabilities of Flash. Users already familiar with the           to change element                         Adobe
                     Adobe suite of products will find the interface of               properties without                        LiveMotion 2.0
             LiveMotion very comfortable to work with. It provides a com-             editing its attributes                    Adobe systems India Pvt Lt
             prehensive set of tools for editing bitmaps and ties seamlessly          in each frame.                            Ph: 914532026
                                                                                                                       The verdict: This software packs i
             with Photoshop for more advanced pixel editing.                             Armed with a power-           numerous capabilities for handling
                 LiveMotion packs some very effective vector-handling tools,          ful set of tools, LiveMo-        virtually every aspect of Web anim
             by allowing basic vector shapes to be effortlessly converted into        tion provides a lucid            tion. All in all, LiveMotion provide
             buttons. Like Photoshop, it also allows you to place special             and effective platform           a lucid and effective platform for
                                                                                                                       creating dynamic content for you
             editable effects to your elements such as drop shadows, bevels           to accomplish Web
                                                                                                                       Web site.
             and embosses. A unique feature built into this application is the        graphics and animation
             ability to plot changes to object attributes over time, instead of       with the greatest of ease.


                       67                                                                                                                  DECEMBER 2
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            MOTHERBOARDS

             T
                    here have been continuous advancements in desktop tech-            Nominees
                    nologies ranging from display to storage, to processors,           Name          Contacts             Comments
                    stretching even to the RAM. All of these advancements are           For AMD CPUs
             reflections of the new, futuristic motherboards.                           DFI AD70- Zeta Technologies,      Built around the KT266 chipset, thi
                                                                                        SC/SR     Ph: 022-24102288        motherboard features a bus speed
             Across the board                                                                                             port of up to 266 MHz and suppor
             For Intel processors, check if your motherboard supports either            DFI AD73     Zeta Technologies,   DDR memory
             RDRAM or DDR memory. RDRAM offers greater bandwidth,                       PRO          Ph: 022-24102288     Sporting the KT266A chipset, this
             while DDR is a good cost-effective solution and with the advent                                              motherboard also supports PC2100
                                                                                                                          DDR memory along with ATA/133
             of DDR II memory, its performance is close to that of RDRAM.                                                 IDE drives
                                                                                        For Intel CPUs
             However, availability of this new memory is scarce and the full                        Nebula Technologies This motherboard is based on the i
                                                                                        Intel
             potential of these motherboards will not be realised until they are        D850MD Pvt Ltd, Ph: 022-        chipset and supports PC800 RDRAM
             used with the compliant memory. The second most important                              2673 0567           along with integrated Ethernet and
             factor is the type of processor supported. While the Pentium 4                                             audio functionality
             Northwood is still Intel’s most popular processor, there are oth-          MSI 845E Priya Ltd,             Built around the i845E chipset, this
             ers on the anvil that will support even greater clock speeds such          Max2-BLR Ph: 022-22663611 motherbaord supports a bus speed
                                                                                                                        up to 533 MHz, supports DDR mem
             as the new Pentium 4s with HyperThreading technology. Check
                                                                                                                        and also integrates Bluetooth suppo
             if the motherboard supports these new processors, especially if
             you want to upgrade later. Even with AMD processors, evaluate
             whether the motherboard reflects the technology sup-                      bus speed support and the inclusion of Bluetooth complia
             ported by the new processors, especially the                              this motherboard provides the fastest platform for your
             Opteron.                                                                  AMD processors and has a host of connectivity and
                                                                                         peripheral options.
             And the award goes to…                                                      The Intel motherboard that shone this
             The AMD mother-                                                           year was the Gigabyte GA-8ITXE, based on
             board that shat-                                                          the Intel D850GB
                                                  MSI KT4
             tered our records in                                                      chipset. With sup-
                                                  Ultra                                                                      Gigabyte
             performance and                      Priya Ltd,                           port for PC800                        GA-8ITXE
             utility was the MSI                  Ph: 022-22663611                     RDRAM, this imple-                    Nebula Technologies Pvt Ltd
             KT4 Ultra. With a                    The verdict: Based upon the for-     mentation of the                      Ph: 022-2673 0567
             host of features such as     midable KT400 chipset, this motherboard      i850    family    of                  The verdict: Built around the
                                          features support for DDR memory, has                                     i850 chipset that supports a bus speed
             the new VIA KT400            six USB ports, six-channel onboard audio     chipset lets the North-     of 400 MHz and RDRAM support, this
             chipset, support for         and serial ATA, making it the highest per-   wood P4 processors see      motherboard proved to the be the
             DDR/333 memory, 8x           formance platform for AMD processors         their maximum per -         fastest platform for Pentium 4 processo
             AGP, a 200/266 MHz                                                        formance levels.




             LINUX DISTRIBUTIONS
             Mandrake Linux 8.2                                                        ware and installing                       Mandrake



            A
                                                                                                                                 Linux 8.2
                    n immensly easy installation and an attractive interface           drivers. If you want
                                                                                                                                 G.T. Enterprise,
                    makes Mandrake Linux 8.2 an excellent Linux distribu -             to switch to Linux,                       Ph: 080-6606093
                    tion. Its ability to install to different profiles of applica-     Mandrake Linux 8.2 is a            The verdict: With very
             tion areas makes it ideal for users who don’t want to install             brilliant place to start for       comprehsive support for vir-
             components of the OS they don’t really need. This means that              professionals who need             tually every type of application
                                                                                                                          and usage area, this Linux distribu
             you can tailor your installation to a specific need such as gam-          an OS that offers tweak-           tion is highly configurable and is
             ing, Web server, e-mail server, multimedia authoring, office              ability, as well as for first-     suited well to amateurs and sea
             applications, etc. There are numerous wizards to help you with            time adventures into the           soned users alike
             everything, from installation to loading and configuring hard-            world of Linux.


                       68                                                                                                                     DECEMBER 2
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             MP3 PLAYERS

             W
                        hen MP3 players first came out, the very thought of             Nominees
                        carrying along a part of your 500-track MP3 collec-             Name          Contacts          Comments
                        tion sent a surge of excitement through every audio-
                                                                                        Creative      Compuage          Capable of reading CDs, CD-Rs an
             phile’s spine. The primary components that these devices are               DAP-          Infocom Ltd       CD-RWs, this MP3 Audio CD playe
             built around a signal processor to decode the MP3 tracks and               CD0001        Ph: 022-          supports ID3 tags and boasts of p
             Flash memory to store the tracks. Since these ingredients                                23842200          ty of song control features
             accounted for a major portion of the cost of the player, accept -          Napa          Moon Computers Capable of reading CDs, CD-Rs an
             ance was not very high initially. However, with the drop in                DAV316        Ph: 022-       CD-RWs, this MP3 Audio CD playe
                                                                                                      22653390       features NiMH batteries and also h
             Flash memory prices over the latter half of this year, MP3 play-
                                                                                                                     ID3 tag support
             ers are coming closer to every music lover.

             Hear the right notes                                                        at their highest capacity, can store audio equivalent to ab
             MP3 players are characterised by the features they support in a             2,000 CDs worth of music!
             given form factor and by their price tags. Also, since they are                  If you want reasonable storage capacity but are on a bud
             meant to be used while on the move—while exercising, com-                   CD-MP3 players are your best bet. With the ability to play b
             muting or walking—the effective audio quality of most MP3                   about 120 songs on a single CD, they are a good solution w
             players hardly differs. It is only when the audio signal is closely         compared to solid state and hard disk based MP3 players. Be
             scrutinised that differences begin to emerge. However, these dif-           all, this genre of MP3 players are the most inexpensive.
             ferences are too minute to be noticed when these devices are                     When on the road, another very important factor wi
             used in everyday situations. Therefore, one of the most impor-                           portable device is power—you have to have enoug
             tant considerations in buying an MP3 player is the number of fea-                             it to run through your journey. Look
             tures they offer in a given size. Also, look for an intuitive navi-                                  for an MP3 player that has a longer
             gation system that lets you locate and play your tracks quick-                                       time and one that uses an easily avail
             ly and easily. The controls of the player should also be eas-                                        battery format such as the AA or A
             ily accessible and the                                                                             batteries.
             bundled         software                                                                          There should also be an adequate numbe
             must be easy to under-                                                                       modes for your tracks such as looping, shuff
                                                      Creative PA-20
             stand and work with.                     Compuage Infocom Ltd,                               and programmed play. Look out for players
                 Enhancements to                      Ph: 022-23842200                                    offer special support for digital audio proces
             digital audio codecs                     The verdict: This little player                     on the player itself—an MP3 player that supp
             and       standards    keep       packs plenty of performance into a very small package.     a graphic equaliser or specialised bass and tr
                                               With 32 MB of memory and support for formats such
             emerging and it is there-         as MP3 and WMA, this MP3 player is the ideal com-          controls with preset audio profiles is alw
             fore important that your          panion during those morning jogs                           preferred.
             player has robust driver                                                                         Finally, since you might have to carry the
             support on the company                                                                       player around with you, make sure that it is c
             Web site for newer digital audio formats.                                   fortable to hold and navigate through. CD and hard disk ba
                 Arguably, the most important component of an MP3 player                 MP3 players are larger in size and also involve moveable p
             is its storage system and capacity. Since the MP3 player is meant           that could be prone to damage due to rough treatment or p
             for being used while on the move, it is important that you have             ical shock. Therefore, if you are going to tag your MP3 pl
             enough room for your songs. Most entry-level MP3 players come               along for your workout or morning jog, it would be advise
             with 32 MB of memory and this can store about 30 minutes of                 to opt for a solid state MP3 player as it will be significantly m
             near-CD quality audio. Therefore, it is recommended that you                robust compared to other kinds.
             choose one with at least 64 MB of memory—the more the mer-
             rier. Also, if you happen to have another device with Flash mem-            And the award goes to…
             ory, such as a digital camera, go for an MP3 player that supports           The MP3 player that wins this year is the Creative PA-20
             a similar format of memory so that you can exchange memory                  account of its great audio performance, a small size and feat
             between the two devices. If price is not a bar, then the best you           Built around a very small form factor, this MP3 player boast
             can opt for when it comes to storing all your songs would be an             superior audio quality and the ability to support MP3 and
             MP3 player that features a hard disk drive in it—these are avail-           formats, in addition to the range of audio control capabil
             able in capacities ranging from 8 GB all the way up to 40 GB and            such as shuffle and programmed playback.


                       69                                                                                                                  DECEMBER 2
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             PROCESSORS

             T
                   he processor landscape changes more frequently than the             Nominees
                   seasons. Every few months, the megahertz war reaches a              Name         Contacts            Comments
                   culmination and begets a new breed of processors to be
                                                                                        Intel       Nebula              Reaching still higher with faster clo
             born of AMD and Intel. With each family of processors, these               Pentium 4   Technologies Pvt    speeds and with support for a 533
             chips feature lower power consumption and heat dissipation for             2.8 GHz     Ltd,                MHz bus, this processor is highly s
             greater reliability and lower operating costs. Also, as processors                     Ph: 022-2673 0567   ed to processor-intensive applicatio
             advance at a frantic pace, other system components sprint to               Intel       Nebula              Based on a 0.13 micron core, this
             keep up with them, resulting in a healthy situation where you              Pentium     Technologies Pvt    processor delivers brilliant perform
                                                                                        2.53 GHz    Ltd,                without drawing on too much of
             have faster overall systems.
                                                                                                    Ph: 022-2673 0567   power

             The power trip
             When choosing a processor, the most important factor is its appli-          ensure it is supported by the motherboard as well. Also, in
             cation. Once you’ve defined your application area, look at suit-            Intel Pentium 4 or an Athlon XP, it is important to choose o
             able specifications such as the processor speed, the brand and              supporting components such that they complement the pro
             other factors such as the L1 and L2 cache, fabrication process, etc.        sor and do not slow it down. Therefore, if you are looking
                  If your needs centre on non-intensive tasks such as word pro-          pure performance in, say, a 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 processor, c
             cessing, surfing and e-mail, then your processing requirements              ple it with an RDRAM-based system and a fast hard disk dr
             will be satisfied by a 1 GHz-class processor. However, if you like          Similarly, pair up an Athlon XP processor with the fastest D
             to live on the cutting-edge with 3D games and 3D rendering and                     RAM you can afford, along with a complementing m
             multimedia authoring software, then you will need a proocessor                                      erboard.
             with enough horse power to efficiently run these applications.
                  The cache on the processor is crucial in applications such as                                  And the award goes to…
             image-editing and gaming,                                                                           The processor that wins kudos for be
             where there are repetitive                                                                          the fastest one as per our lab tests
             routines and frequent access                  AMD Athlon 2600+                                      year turned is the AMD Athlon 26
             of data sets.                                 AMD Far East Ltd,                                     With the 0.13 micron technology,
                                                           Ph: 011-6238620
                  Newer processors have                                                                       integer and floating point units, this pro
                                                           The verdict: Armed with six processing
             moved to the 0.13 micron              units and a high clock speed, this processor turned out    sor is ideally suited to applications
             fabrication process. When con-        to be the best overall performer across applications       involve streaming data such as audio
             sidering such a processor,                                                                       video encoding.




             3D AUTHORING TOOLS
             3ds max 5                                                                realistic effect. Once



             T
                    he 3D rendering application that scaled new levels of utili-      a separate package,                   3ds max 5
                                                                                                                            Discreet,
                    ty and enhancement, 3ds max 5 is a bubbling cauldron of           Reactor is now bun-                   Ph: 022-
                    functionalities, ranging from the interface, modelling, ren-      dled with 3ds max 5                   26952000
             dering, animation and special effects features. In the interface, the    and allows you to add         The verdict: With an array of new
             menus have been re-ordered such that similar tasks are grouped in        dynamic properties to         features such as advanced animatio
                                                                                                                    controls, environment effects and a
             more logical and intuitive task groups for easier access. Tools such     objects such as water
                                                                                                                    improved menu layout, 3ds max 5
             as the Dope Sheet make it easier to change animation characteris-        droplets,      explosions,    bags top honours for 3D animation
             tics, without worrying about the animation curve, while the              smoke, etc. The Toon          applications
             Bones tool greatly simplifies skeletal animation. When used in           Shader function provides
             conjunction with the IK Spline solver, the connected elements in         far smoother control
             complex models move much more realistically and far greater              over the colours and textures in cartoon animation.
             control has been affected over them. In tasks such as realistic lip-        With a plethora of added functionality and a far greater
             synching, the Progressive Modifier gives animators control over          trol over complex tasks, 3ds max 5 provides an unbeatable p
             the morphing stages in steps, providing a much smoother and              age for 3D animators and modellers.


                       70                                                                                                                   DECEMBER 2
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             SCANNERS

            I
                n today’s age of free Web sites and Web-based image hosting               Nominees
                services, it would be great to port all your memories to a last-          Name          Contacts           Comments
                ing digital format to be viewed by your relatives around the
                                                                                           Microtek   Rashi Peripherals, Built around a 1200x2400, 48-bit
             world. Scanners enable this and with increasing resolutions,                  ScanMaker Ph: 022-28260258 scanning engine, this Legal-size fla
             vivid colours, smaller form factors and low prices, it is easier              X12USL                        scanner is ideally suited to applica
             than ever to embark on your digital imaging journey.                                                        where large documents need to b
                                                                                                                         scanned at the highest quality
             Get the picture                                                               HP ScanJet Hewlett-Packard    Featuring a 2400x2400 resolution
                                                                                           5400       India Ltd,         48-bit colour support, this scanner
             Since scanners are used to convert photographs and printed
                                                                                                      Ph: 080-5216121 exhibited very good performance
             documents into digital format, their performance is largely                                                 acteristics in photo and text scann
             dependant upon the resolution, the colour depth and the speed
             offered. The primary factors that affect the quality of the scan-
             ner are the resolution along with the colour depth supported.                 of a scanner is its scanning speed. This is decided by two
             For most entry-level scanners, a 600x1200 dpi resolution is a                 tors—the motor used to advance the scanning element and
             good start as it can scan with a maximum optical resolution of                interface of the scanner to the computer. Some brands h
             600 dpi.                                                                      inherently better implementations of the scanning assem
                 The most crucial scanner specification is the optical resolu-             allowing them to scan faster without sacrificing on qual
             tion—this is the true resolution with which the scanner oper -                Therefore, before purchasing a scanner, take a couple
             ates. Second comes the interpolated or software resolution—this               scans using different modes such as photo quality, te
             is the resolution at which the scanner increases its resolution               monochrome, etc.
             and creates the in-between scan points by ‘guessing’ their value                  Finally, the other factor that affects the scanning speed is
             using algorithms in software. Therefore, the interpolated resolu-             interface—choose a scanner with a USB interface as this feat
             tion will not necessarily have the same clarity as an optical scan.           much higher speeds compared to parallel port scanners.
             The scanning resolution decides the size of your scanned image
             as well as the size it is converted to as a graphic file.                                 And the award goes to…
                 The other important parameter that decides the image qual -                                    The scanner that delivered outstanding im
             ity is the colour depth. As a rule of thumb, the higher the colour                                      ing quality was the HP Scanjet 547
             depth, the greater is the scanner’s ability to reproduce true-to-                                          With its support for true 2400x2
             life colours. Go for a scanner                                                                               dpi resolutions and a 48-bit co
             with a colour depth of at least                                                                              depth, this scanner showed ex
             48 bits. During the scanning                         HP Scanjet 5470C                                        lent results in colour and clarity.
             process, information is general-                     Hewlett-Packard India Ltd,                          added functionality, it has 11 butt
             ly lost and therefore, if the scan-                  Ph: 080- 5216121                                    that can invoke a range of tasks, let
                                                                  The verdict: With its robust
             ner can sense a greater number                                                                           you use the scanner as a copier if
                                                         2400x2400 scanning resolution, coupled with a 48-bit
             of colours, the greater is its ability      colour depth and a host of intuitive controls, this scan-    have a printer connected, along w
             to capture the original colour.             ner delivered stellar performance                            a range of other cross-applica
                 Another important parameter                                                                          shortcut keys.




             OCR SOFTWARE                                                                                                         ABBY FineReader
                                                                                                                                  6.0 CE
             ABBY FineReader 6.0 CE                                                      application created                      Net Spider, Ph: 022-286335



             I
                n the OCR software segment, ABBY FineReader 6.0 CE                       an editable docu -                       The verdict: This OCR soft
                logged 96 per cent accuracy in identifying words. This                   ment that retained the           ware offers unmatched capabilites
                                                                                                                          in recognising documents. It is
                application is a brilliant solution for getting all those hard -         columns, images, for-
                                                                                                                          also able to retain formatting
             copies and newspaper clippings into editable document for -                 matting and even the             faithfully, and is your best bet
             mat. The factor that set it apart from others was that it man -             fonts in the original            for digitising your printed docu
             aged to retain even the formatting in the document—even                     document with unpar-             ments
             newspaper and magazine pages were correctly reproduced. The                 alleled accuracy.


                       71                                                                                                                     DECEMBER 2
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            SOUNDCARDS

             U
                    ntil recently, system integrators and branded comput-             Nominees
                    ers alike, did not pay much attention to the audio sub-           Name         Contacts            Comments
                    system. As long as one could attach stereo speakers to
                                                                                      Creative SB Compuage            With brilliant performance in hand
             the computer, that was all the audio needed. However, things             Live! DE 5.1 Infocom Ltd,       multi-channel audio for movies and
             have changed—with the integration of advanced audio pro -                             Ph: 022-23842200 gaming, this sound card is a great
             cessing in most motherboards, entry-level users can enjoy                                                for home theatre systems
             multi-channel sound, with some budget cards even boasting                Zoltrix      Kunhar Peripherals Sporting 4-channel support and ve
                                                                                      Nightingale Pvt Ltd,            low CPU utilisation scores, this sou
             Dolby Digital compliance. This is corroborated by the fact that
                                                                                      PRO 6        Ph: 022-22345758 card delivers plenty of performanc
             most entertainment applications such as games and movies                                                 even at a low price
             are now authored using more than two channels of audio.
             Due to this convergence, most sound systems today are inte -             CPU’s power while in operation. Go for a card where the CPU
             grated directly into the motherboard in the form of a codec.             isation is not more than 5 per cent. Though the difference isn’
             The main processor handles the audio processing and in some              significant with newer processors, it could be noticeable if you
             cases, discrete audio processors are built into the mother-              the soundcard into an older machine.
             board. While this has been consolidated by a number of                       The features that a soundcard supports are just as importa
             soundcard manufacturers, some prefer to go with dedicated                choose a soundcard that supports at least four channels of so
             external soundcards.                                                     and a standard such as EAX or A3D, as these standards are u
                                                                                      in many of today’s games.
             Are you listening?                                                           Finally, make sure the soundcard can drive your spe
             Numerous factors affect the performance of a soundcard, such as          speakers—some high-end speakers have a provision for di
             the frequency response, S/N (signal-to-noise) ratio and the MIDI                                     input and your soundcard sho
             implementation. Good soundcards have a frequency response of                                         have a similar output for the hig
             20 Hz to 20 KHz with an S/N ration of 80 dB. The wider the fre-                                      level of audio quality.
             quency response and the greater
             the S/N ratio, the better the sound-                                                                  And the award goes to…
             card. Another important charac-                   Creative Audigy Platinum                           The soundcard that shattered
             teristic is the extent to which the               Compuage Infocom Ltd,                         records in performance and clarity
             soundcard depends upon the main                   Ph: 022-23842200                            the Creative Audigy Platinum. Thank
                                                               The verdict: This soundcard
             processor while in operation. Ide-                                                            its support for true 5.1 channel D
                                                       has 24-bit digital audio playback,
             ally, a soundcard should be able to       robust audio interface support and 5.1-channel      Digital support, 24-bit audio quality a
             handle all audio requirements inde-       support. It hits the highs in gaming and movie      very low CPU utilisation, this sound
             pendently. However, in reality, the       performance                                         performed excellently in all the ta
             soundcard uses some part of the main                                                          applications.




             SOUND EDITING
             Sound Forge 6.0                                                         precious bits of your



            W
                                                                                                                            Sound Forge 6.0
                         ith digital audio, very few tools come close to the capa-   time. There is also a
                                                                                                                            Sonic Foundry,
                         bility and power of Sound Forge. This robust audio          set of 35 preset effects               E-mail: customerser-
                         editing software incorporates a vast range of tools to      such as flanging, cho-                 vice@sonicfoundry.com
             let you perform basic audio editing on digital audio such as copy-      rus, reverb, etc, that        The verdict: One of the most robu
             ing, pasting, and lengthening and shortening audio files. In addi-      help to add a dimension       Wave editing tools around, this
                                                                                                                   application boasts unparalleded fea
             tion, it offers full 32-bit file support, with sample rates from 2      of depth to your audio
                                                                                                                   tures and functionality for creating
             KHz to 192 KHz, giving very high-quality audio. The zoom ratio          tracks.                       effects and processes with audio fil
             for working with audio has also been increased to 24:1 to let you           With professional-
             edit the waveform on even a sample level. The new multitasking          quality audio editing fea-
             environment allows the application to render in the background          tures and a host of controls and effect capabilities, Sound F
             while you are editing other files in the foreground, saving             6.0 is your ticket to mastering audio at the home or in a stu


                       72                                                                                                                 DECEMBER 2
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             SPEAKERS

            C
                    omputer speakers used to be humble boxes spreading the             Nominees
                    sound in a 50 cm radius. Now they’ve grown into mam -              Name          Contacts            Comments
                    moth sound blasters. It all started with the advent of              4.1 and 5.1 SPEAKERS
                                                                                        Artis X8     Kunhar Peripherals This speaker system boasts of a larg
             multi-channel audio support on the computer. Ever since the
                                                                                        5.1          Pvt Ltd,           and powerful subwoofer with punc
             quad channel and 5.1 soundcards hit the scene, manufactures cre-                        Ph: 022-22345758 satellites, making it a very good co
             ated speaker systems that were complemented these systems.                                                 panion for a 5.1-channel home the
             Thus was born the 4.1 and the 5.1 speaker systems we know today.                                           system.
                                                                                        Labtec       Aditya Infotech Ltd This quad-channel speaker system
             Hear the difference                                                        Arena 530    Ph: 022-26338555 foms very well, especially when rep
                                                                                                                         ducing sound effects and is ideally
             PC speakers are specified by the audio characteristics of frequency
                                                                                                                         ed to movies and really loud gamin
             response, Total Harmonic Distortion (THD), Sound Pressure Level            2.1 SPEAKERS
             (SPL) and of course, power rating. However, the specified charac-          Artis S320   Kunhar Peripherals Boasting of especially good perform
             teristics often belie the true capability of the speakers. Thus, always                 Pvt Ltd,           ance during DVD playback, this spe
             judge the speaker quality after you have heard how they sound.                          Ph: 022-22345758 system also provided very sharp hig
             Always consider the RMS rating—the PMPO rating, though larger              Labtec       Aditya Infotech     Suited very well for gaming, these
                                                                                        Pulse 325    Ltd, Ph: 022-       speakers delivered excellent respon
             in value, is misleading and should not be relied upon.
                                                                                                     26338555            in reproducing sound effects and
                  In a four-channel speaker system, ensure that the power rat-                                           out impressively even at high volu
             ing of each satellite and the subwoofer is at least 4 Watts and 15
             Watts RMS, respectively. The higher this rating, the greater is
             the power delivery of your speakers. For THD, the acceptable              music you specifically listen to—carry a CD of your favourite m
             levels are 0.3 per cent. The frequency                                    to test the speakers’ quality. When testing, set the bass and tr
             response should be between 20 Hz and                                      controls to a mid point and see how loud the speakers get be
                        20 KHz. SPL should be 75 dB.                                   the sound begins to distort. This will help you decide whether
                                                                                               ‘room-shaking’ power of the speaker is
                      Artis S880                                                               actually present or if there’s just a tinny
                      (4.1/5.1-channel category)                                               cacophony!
                      Kunhar Peripherals Pvt Ltd,
                      Ph: 022-22345758                                                 And the award goes to…
               The verdict: Though diminutive in size, this quad-channel speaker
                                                                                       The 4.1/5.1-channel speaker system that
               setup boasts crisp highs and defined bass, making for an excellent
               speaker system for performance gaming and immersive movies              delivered outstanding performance in the
                                                                                                categories of gaming as well as

                 Consider buying digital speaker systems—these have a                              Sumoku Alpha 4R
             decoder that encodes multi-channel encoded sound such as                              (2.1-channel category)
             Dolby Digital. These speakers produce the highest sound qual -                        Palesha Electronics Industries, Ph: 9520-6355702
                                                                                                   The verdict: Sporting a separate amplifier unit containing
             ity, but you need to have a soundcard that features a digital-out
                                                                                         the controls, this speaker system delivered sound quality and powe
             to drive them. At the upper end of the scale, speaker systems fea-          that belied its size
             ture dedicated multi-channel amplifiers that can decode four-
             channel and 5.1-channel audio signals from your games and
             movies, amplify them and send them to the matched speakers.               movies was the Artis S880. This speaker system was also abl
             These are ideal for a PC-based home theatre system, where you             handle high volume levels with ease and is therefore ide
             need power and compliance with multi-channel standards.                   suited to users who like to play audio at blaring volumes.
                 Newer breeds of four-channel and 5.1-channel speaker                      Among the 2.1 speaker systems, the Sumoku Alpha 4R d
             systems have taken audio power levels to new heights with sup-            ered very good response in our tests, especially during DVD p
             port for industrial-strength audio standards such as THX. These           back where the response was very sharp. This was also refle
             speakers boast of power ratings in the realm of 300 to 500 watts          in its superior treble response.
             RMS—enough to bring the roof down! Such speakers are best suit-               The speakers have a separate amplifier that contains all
             ed to home theatres—there is virtually no difference between              controls, so they can be placed in a convenient location with
             watching a DVD movie in your home and in a movie theatre!                 bothering to keep them within arm’s reach. If it’s stereo so
                 Make sure that you hear how the speakers sound with the               that you’re looking for, this one offers superior sound qualit


                       73                                                                                                                    DECEMBER 2
test drive I
                  I   reviews




         We test the latest and the best hardware and software products available in the market



 Hercules 3D Prophet 9700 Pro                                    VIA EPIA Mini-ITX motherboard
                                                                 Good things come in small packages
 When speed matters

 T    he Hercules 9700
      P r o
                                                                 T   he VIA EPIA series mother-
                                                                     boards are based on the
                                                                 EDEN platform and are intend-
                                                                                                   able to four) present.
                                                                                                        When used with the fan-
                                                                                                   less EDEN ESP 5000 processor,
 graphics                                                        ed as low-cost, ultra low-power   the CPU heats up a bit during
 card boasts                                                     and compact platforms for         intensive operations, so a
 of an 8x AGP                                                    mobile and compact systems        fan is recommended—when
 interface and                                                   that are mainly used for surf-    using the optional CPU with
 128 MB of 310                                                   ing the Net, watching movies      the fan, it was always at
 MHz DDR RAM                                                     (DVDs), or working with office    below-room temperature.
 with a 256-bit inter -                          with 256        applications.                          The motherboard system
 face. With a maximum                 MB DDR RAM. In the                                           provides you with more power
 of 256 MB of RAM onboard,        3DMark 2001 SE test, the                                         than you’ll need for running
 it can reach a bandwidth of      card achieved an impres -                                           your everyday business pro-
 19.2 GBps! It has a 325 MHz      sive score of 12,085. The                                              grams. Try to give it
 core,     eight     rendering    Unreal Tournament 2003                                                    something        even
 pipelines, dual 400 MHz          benchmark was also very                                                    remotely graphical
 RAMDAC                    for    high—130      fps     when                                               though, and it suf-
 dual-monitor support and         played at 1600x1200 in the                                           fers—it performed poorly
 DirectX 9.0 support.             flyby demo, with all set-           The                          in all our graphics bench-
      The 9700 Pro nicely         tings at maximum level.        EPIA Mini-                        marks. To be fair, this mother-
 blends form and function.            If you’re looking for      ITX is an all-                    board is aimed at the average
 It features an all-copper fan    the fastest video card         inclusive board                   budget user and not at gamers
 assembly and heat sinks on       around, then this is the       that features an embedded VIA     and graphics professionals
 both sides of the card,          one for you. All this good -   Cyrix C3 E-series processor       and it’s powerful enough to
 which gives it a very pow-       ness comes at a high price,    with an optional fan-less         smoothly run DVDs and DivX
 erful look. For the very first   though—Rs 34,750 to            EDEN ESP 5000 processor           movies. At Rs 4,500 for the
 time, it actually packs a        be precise.                    (these cannot be upgraded),       533 MHz variant, you really
 floppy-type power connec -                                      support for up to 1 GB of         shouldn’t be asking for more.
 tor on the card, because the     SPECIFICATIONS                 100/133 MHz SDRAM, AGP 2x              The motherboard sup-
 AGP bus cannot satisfy this      ATi’s R300 GPU, 128 MB DDR     Trident Blade graphics con-       ports processors ranging from
 power-hungry monster. So         RAM, dual output, DVI to D-    troller with up to 8 MB of        533 MHz to 933 MHz, and
 unless you have a power          sub connector included, The    memory with a TV Out option,      variants that support DDR
                                  Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
 supply of at least 300 watts,    game CDs                       AC ‘97 sound codec with           memory are also available.
 don’t even consider own-         System Requirements:           S/PDIF output and a 10/100
 ing this graphics card.          Pentium 4/III/II/Celeron or    Mbps integrated Ethernet.         SPECIFICATIONS
      We tested the card on a     compatible with AGP                 There’s only one PCI slot    Embedded 533 MHz processor,
 2.2 GHz Pentium 4 proces -       8x/4x/2x slot, 128 MB RAM,     and one serial port, but this     onboard AGP 2x graphics, inte-
                                  300 watts power supply,                                          grated sound, 10/100 Ethernet,
 sor, on the 845-based MSI        Windows XP/Me/2000             shouldn’t be a problem, as its    mini-ITX form factor, ATX-com-
 Max2 BLR motherboard,                                           intended users will not need      pliant power supply
                                  Hercules 3D Prophet      B+    the extra expansion slots, and
                                  Performance                                                       VIA EPIA M    ini-ITX
 Price: Rs 34,750                                                new devices can make use of                                  B+
                                  Build quality                                                     Performance
 Contact: MediaTech India                                        the two USB ports (expand-
 Phone: 022-2396696               Value for money                                                   Build quality
 E-mail: sales@mediatech          Features                       Price: Rs 4,500                    Value for money
 india.com                        OVERALL                        Contact: Via Technologies          Features
                                                                 E-mail: ravi@quaza.com
                                                                 Web site: www.via.com              OVERALL


         74                                                                                                      DECEMBER 2002
MSI 845PE Max2
A feature-rich and stable performer

T   his motherboard features
    a DDR 333 solution based
on Intel’s latest 845PE
                                  applications such as floating
                                  point computations. In the
                                  Business Creation and in the
chipset, which supports           Content Creation test, the
Intel’s HyperThreading tech-      scores were well above your
nology. This allows software      average P4 motherboard.
                                             The board is armed
                                         to the teeth with fea -
                                         tures. It has six-chan-
                                          nel sound capability
                                          with an onboard
                                          AC’97 5.1 sound
                                           decoder. The mother-
                                           board supports a
                                           maximum of 2 GB of
                                            DDR RAM with three
                                            DIMM slots. A Giga-
applications to exploit the       bit Ethernet controller is also
processor’s resources to the      integrated. Another interest-
fullest by running threads        ing feature is the presence of
belonging to applications in
parallel. However, it requires
a CPU that can perform
HyperThreading, and Intel
has just launched its first
                                  an onboard Promise RAID
                                  controller with RAID 0 as
                                  striping and RAID 1 as mir-
                                  roring. The board comes bun-
                                  dled with a USB 2.0 module
                                                                    1/2 p AD
such CPU—the P4 3.06 GHz.         with diagnostic LEDs. This
Also, applications need to be     helps in debugging system
written to take advantage of      problems without opening
this technology, so it might      the case. Also included are an
be some time before its bene -    IEEE 1394 module, an S/PDIF
fits are actually visible.        (Sony/Philips Digital Inter-
     The board was tested on a    face) module, four detailed
P4 2.8 GHz, with 256 MB of        manuals and a driver and
266 MHz DDR RAM along             software CD that contains
with a 7,200-rpm hard disk,       Live Update, a BIOS updating
and a GeForce4 Ti 4600 graph-     software for Windows and
ics card on Windows XP. The       PCAlert4, a diagnostic utility
board performed well in indi-     that gives information about
vidual tests, though, the over-   various system parameters
all performance was slightly      and displays a warning when
less than an RDRAM-based          the threshold limits are
motherboard. One area where       crossed.
it showed excellent perform-
ance was in the video encod -
                                  SPECIFICATIONS
ing test, where it encoded a 55   845 PE chipset with
MB MPEG file to the DivX for-     HyperThreading technology,
mat in just 58 seconds—this       DDR 333 support, onboard AC
means we can expect a better      ‘97 5.1 channel support, IEEE
performance when used with        1394, Gigabit Ethernet,
                                  Promise RAID controller, 4x
the upcoming 333 MHz mem-         AGP, 6 PCI slots, 1 CNR slot,
ory module. This board is         USB 2.0 module
excellent for CPU-intensive
                                   MSI 845PE M   ax2         B+
Price: Rs 9,000                    Performance
Contact: Priya Ltd                 Build quality
Phone: 022-22663611                Value for money
Fax: 022-22664154                  Features
E-mail: salesbom@priyagroup.com
                                   OVERALL
Web site: www.priyagroup.com


         75                                                               DECEMBER 2002
test drive I
                   I   reviews

Canon LBP 1210 laser printer                                          smooth and silent, and the          smoothly. The Logitech
                                                                      layout and shape of the key-        MouseWare Control Centre
In black and white
                                                                      board makes for very com-           lets the user porgram func-

I f you are scouring the mar-
  ket for a workgroup laser
printer that can take care of
                                  dled with a power cord, inter-
                                  face cables, manuals, a driver
                                  CD and also a quick start
                                                                      fortable typing.
                                                                          The keyboard, when used
                                                                      from 20 feet away worked
                                                                                                          tions for the extra button as
                                                                                                          well as the middle button.
                                                                                                              With great looks, plenty
                                  guide.                              quite satisfactorily, but the       of functionality and comfort,
                                       In the test, the LBP 1210      bundled mouse (Logitech             this keyboard-mouse combi-
                                    delivered good results,           Cordless MouseMan Optical)          nation is a good deal for users
                                     printing a text and graph-       was not as responsive—it            for whom price is not an issue.
                                      ics document in under 17        missed the signals at times,        SPECIFICATIONS
                                      seconds. The tonal varia -      making it unsuitable for            Radio frequency communica-
                                           tion and greyscale         applications such as presenta-      tion, 20 hotkeys, PS/2 interface,
                                              reproduction      in    tions, where you would be at        6 feet range, package includes
                                                                                                          keyboard, mouse and radio
                                              monochrome              a distance from the base com-
                                                                                                          receiver
                                            images was smooth.        puter. The mouse is also a bit
                                       Even when taking a large       heavy but works quite               Logitech Freedom             B+
                                  number of printouts, the                                                Performance
your daily office print jobs,     printer did not cause any           Price: Rs 3,380                     Build quality
                                                                      Contact: Rashi Peripherals          Value for money
then look no further than the     paper jams.
                                                                      Phone: 022-28260258                 Features
Canon LBP 1210.                        With a good set of fea-        E-mail: ho@rptechindia.com
    The front panel has a sim -   tures, fast speeds and sharp                                            OVERALL
                                                                      Web site: www.logitech.com
ple interface design; the back    and defined prints, this
panel features a USB and a        monochrome printer is the
parallel port interface along     best bet for office applications    ACID PRO 4.0
with the power connector.         that need a combination of          Music on the rocks
    This printer is provided      both speed and quality.
with a 250-sheet paper tray,
which is sufficient for most
daily printing loads. There is
                                  SPECIFICATIONS
                                  600 dpi maximum resolution,
                                                                      A    CID PRO 4.0, the latest
                                                                           version       of
                                                                      Foundry’s music cre-
                                                                                               Sonic
                                                                                                          matic fades. It also supports
                                                                                                          16-bit and 24-bit Audio for -
                                                                                                                           mats, as well as
                                  2 MB buffer, 250-sheet paper
also a provision for manual       tray, parallel and USB interface    ation tool, has a                                     importing of
paper loading and the paper-                                          very clean interface                                  WMA       and
in tray can be detached.          Canon LBP 1210                B     that might take a                                    WMV files.
    The printer comes bun-        Performance                         little time to get                                      The package
                                  Build quality                       used to, but it’s                                   includes a CD
Price: Rs 21,192                  Value for money
Contact: Canon India Ltd                                              powered to create                                  containing more
                                  Features
Phone: 011-6806572                                                    professional-grade                                than 400 music
                                  OVERALL
E-mail: brijesh@canon.co.in                                           music. The new                                   loops from Sonic
                                                                      version has a lot                               Foundry’s ‘Loops
                                                                      more      features                             for ACID’ collec -
Logitech Cordless Freedom                                             than its prede-                               tion.
optical keyboard                                                      cessors, such as                                    ACID PRO is
                                                                      Auto-save, Crash                             most definitely rec -
Freedom from wires
                                                                      Recovery and 5.1-channel            ommended for professionals

T   he Logitech Cordless
    Freedom       Optical
uses radio frequencies
                                                                      mixing to enable great music
                                                                      creation. One particularly
                                                                      new, useful feature is the abil-
                                                                                                          and is priced as such—ama-
                                                                                                          teurs will probably be put off
                                                                                                          by its Rs 19,551 price tag.
and doesn’t even                                                      ity to rip CDs, edit the music
require you to                                                        files and burn them.                SPECIFICATIONS
be in the line of                                                          ACID PRO saves to a vari -     System requirements:
sight of the receiver.                                                ety of formats such as WAV,         Windows 98 SE/Me/2000/XP,
                                                                                                          300 MHz processor, 64 MB
The keyboard-mouse com -                                              WMA, RM, AVI, and MP3. It
                                                                                                          RAM (128 MB recommended),
bination is good looking                                              allows you to add effects such      Windows-compatible sound-
and packs a lot of features                                           as Resonant Sweeps and dra -        card and DirectX 8.0
such as 20 hotkeys for Inter -
net, multimedia and so on.        comfortable tactile response        Price: 19,551 (local taxes extra)   ACID PRO 4.0                  B
The receiver has two PS/2         and feel, it is ideally suited to   Contact: PRO-MUSIC Inc              Performance
connections for the keyboard      those who need to type a lot        Phone: 91-44-8261445/               Ease of use
                                                                      8213607                             Value for money
and mouse.                        such as programmers and lay-        E-mail: promusic@vsnl.com           Features
    The keyboard has an           out artists who use a lot of        Web site: www.promusic-
excellent layout—given its        hotkeys. The keystrokes are         online.com                          OVERALL


          76                                                                                                           DECEMBER 2002
Adobe LiveMotion 2.0
Animate your world

L    iveMotion 2.0, Adobe’s lat-
     est offering, is pitted
against Macromedia’s Flash
MX. It allows object-based
animation—instead of frames
as seen in Flash, there’s a
TimeLine that displays a list
of layers within which you
can make changes to the
objects and also control how
an object’s attributes will
change over time. Layer
groups appear as a collapsible      and TIFF formats.
list of objects, so you can ani -       It brings along with it a
mate individual objects as          library with predefined styles,
well as the complete group.         textures, sounds and shapes.
Changing the frame rate does        You can store presets in the
not involve re-doing the tim -      Styles palette and apply them
ing of the movie—a 10 sec -         later to objects in the same or
ond animation will take 10          in other compositions.
seconds irrespective of the             The Export panel allows
frame rate it is played at.         you to set global quality
      Version 2.0 has a new fea-    options for all bitmapped
ture called Time Scaling—by         objects in the document, as
pressing [Alt], you can resize      well as specific settings for
segments on the timeline and        particular objects. Hence, by
the key frames within those         reducing the quality of all
segments are automatically
repositioned so that the exist-
ing animation is scaled to fit
in the new time period. This
                                    bitmapped elements in the
                                    object, you can cut down on
                                    the size of the animation.
                                        In version 2.0, the sup-
                                                                       1/2 p AD
feature allows you to make          port for scripting has been
last minute changes without         beefed up. The scripting lan-
having to alter any of the          guage is based on JavaScript.
animation.                          The script editor is extremely
      LiveMotion offers you a       functional and relatively easy
great set of tools. The draw-       to use. Plus there are a num-
ing tools offer four shapes—        ber of sample scripts to make
circle, ellipse, rectangle and      your task simpler.
square, to help you draw the            To sum up, Adobe has
basic layout of your anima-         brought LiveMotion to a
tion. You can then play             level where it can be thought
around with the advanced            as a serious alternative to the
alteration tools such as opac -     Flash authoring environ-
ity, size or distortion to give     ment.
it any look you like. The soft-
                                    SPECIFICATIONS
ware includes image editing         System requirements: Pentium
features and integrates well        III 600 MHz or faster processor,
with Photoshop and Illustra -       Windows 98/Me/2000/XP, 64
tor, so you don’t have to           MB RAM, 50 MB free hard disk
                                    space, CD-ROM drive, 800x600
invest in a separate image
                                    or greater monitor resolution
editing application. It sup-
ports BMP, JPEG, PSD, ES, AI          Adobe LiveMotion 2.0      A-
                                     Performance
Price: Rs 20,700                     Ease of use
Contact: Adobe Systems India         Value for money
Pvt Ltd                              Features
Phone: 0120-4444711
                                     OVERALL
E-mail: sandeepm@adobe.com


          77                                                                 DECEMBER 2002
test drive I
                  I   reviews

Red Hat 8.0
Hat full of goodies

A   first look, Red Hat 8.0
    might fool a Red Hat user
into thinking that it’s a brand
                                  packages pertaining to it are
                                  selected by default.
                                       A standard Personal Desk-
                                                                     the same configuration tools
                                                                     appear again and again under
                                                                     different headings.
                                                                                                            patenting issues, this causes a
                                                                                                            major setback in the multi -
                                                                                                            media performance. It also
new distribution. The graph-      top installation consists of           Integration is another             lacks some games that were
ics have changed quite a bit,     369 basic packages (these are      user-friendly design aspect.           present in the older version.
and the images and characters     non-deselectable       compo -     Red Hat integrates some                     In order to see just how
look clear and bold. This new     nents) plus 132 additional         applications such as Open              Red Hat 8.0 performs under
look has been dubbed by Red       packages such as Gnome,            Office 1.0, Mozilla Open               ‘stress’ tests such as hardware
Hat as ‘Blue Curve’.              games, etc. This installation      Source Browser and Ximian              changes (this has always been
                                  type will need 1,558 MB of         Evolution (an e-mail client,           a thorny issue in previous ver-
                                  space and takes about 20 min-      calendar and contact manag-            sions), we decided to change
                                  utes to install. A Complete        er, all in one) as part of the         some hardware. The Intel
                                  Personal Desktop, with all the     installation process. It pro -         motherboard used in the test
                                  packages, takes 4,680 MB of        vides an alternative to Star           bed had an onboard GPU, so
                                  hard disk space and 50 min-        Office with the Open Office            we decided to remove the
                                  utes to install. These times       package.                               GeForce2 card. When we
                                  were logged on a system using          The most important fea -           started the machine, Linux
                                  the Intel 1.7 GHz CPU, Intel       ture for developers, the GNU           properly detected the change
                                  D845GBV motherboard, 256           Compiler Collection (GCC),             and prompted us to remove
                                  MB DDR (266 MHz) RAM,                            has also been            the GeForce drivers and add
                                  nVidia GeForce2 Ultra graph-                     upgraded to ver-         the Intel onboard graphics
                                  ics accelerator, a 40 GB Sea -                   sion 3.2. How-           adapter to the system config -
                  Looks aside,    gate Barracuda hard disk and                     ever as a result,        uration. The following instal -
version 8.0 offers several        a 48x LG CD drive. Since a                                                lation was successful. The
enhanced      features.    For    majority of potential Linux                                               problems started with X-Win-
instance, there’s a new           users may not have such a                                                 dows—it wouldn’t initialise.
option to check the installa-     high system configuration,                                                We then tried the XF86Con-
tion medium for problems          installation times can be                                                 fig. It started in text mode and
just    before    installation    expected to be significantly                                              asked for all sorts of details
begins—quite a thoughtful         longer.                                                                   such as the horizontal scan
addition given that less-than-         The Boot Loader Configu-                                             rate and vertical refresh rate
flawless installations are a      rator, which sets up your sys-                                                                  and so on.
sure-shot recipe for disaster     tem to boot Linux or shares it                                                                  Even after
in Linux.                         with other OSes, has upgrad -                                                                    giving all
     A new installation type,     ed features. You can now spec-     The Red Hat 8.0 features a neat and clean new interface       the details,
called Personal Desktop, has      ify the boot sequence (for                                                                       X-Win-
also been added. This is in       example: CD-ROM first, then        the GNU C++ compiler has               dows wouldn’t start. This is
addition to the usual Work-       floppy, then hard disk). For a     some compatibility issues              one area where the user-
station, Server and Custom        single-boot system (only           over the type of object code it        friendliness needs to be
installation types. The pack-     Linux), installation is quite      produces. GCJ (GNU Compil-             enhanced.
age selection and installation    simple but for a dual-boot         er for Java) has been upgrad -              Overall, Red Hat 8.0
has been given a new look         system (say, Linux and Win-        ed, as also the GDB (GNU               promises to be pretty good
and has been grouped into         dows), experience in creating      DeBugger). The C and C++               but if something fails, it’s
five categories: Desktop,         and assigning partitions is        libraries have also been               quite difficult to amend
Applications, Servers, Devel-     required.                          enhanced and the overall               things.
opment and System. The                 The first time Red Hat        compiler performance has
Desktop group contains KDE        starts, a new agent activates      been improved.
                                                                                                           SPECIFICATIONS
and Gnome, the Application        itself and configures system           The bundled MP3 players
                                                                                                           System requirements:
group contains various edi-       date, time and sound settings.     present in version 7.3,               Pentium-class CPU or better, at
tors, calculators, games and      The Setup Agent also helps in      mpg123 and XMMS, are not              least 650 MB hard disk space,
applications. The Servers         installing any other packages      included in version 8.0 due to        128 MB RAM
group contains FTP, DNS,          from the additional CDs.
                                                                                                              Red Hat 8.0                 B-
SAMBA and other protocol               Red Hat 8.0 also has a bet-   Price: Rs 8,750 (Professional),
                                                                     Rs 2,200 (Personal)                     Performance
servers, while the Develop -      ter control panel—the entire
                                                                     Contact: Red Hat India Pvt Ltd          Ease of use
ment group has compilers          menu structure is well-organ-
                                                                     Phone: 022-22853452                     Value for money
and several Software Develop-     ised. Repetition, an essential                                             Features
                                                                     Fax: 022-22845343
ment Kits (SDKs). When you        element of user-friendliness,      E-mail: info-india@redhat.com           OVERALL
choose the installation type,     has been achieved by making        Web site: www.in.redhat.com


         78                                                                                                               DECEMBER 2002
Norton AntiVirus 2003
The ultimate protector

A    nti-virus software contin -
     ually strive to reach high -
er levels of effectiveness to
                                    worms and blocks infected
                                    mail. It notifies the user of
                                    such attachments and also
keep pace with viruses that         suggests an appropriate action
evolve to find stealthier and       for the situation.
more devastating ways to                The software allows you
attack our data. Norton             to password protect the access
AntiVirus 2003 is one such          settings. This is helpful if sev-
software that has earned plen-      eral people use your PC, as it
ty of respect and confidence        prevents others from access -
for protecting computer sys -       ing your data.
tems from virus attacks.                Norton AntiVirus 2003 is
     Norton AntiVirus 2003          easy to use and sports the
has some additional features        same interface as the earlier
compared to the previous ver-       one; but even if you haven’t
sion. It has an                          used any of the previous
expanded file repair                                 versions of the
and deletion fea -                                   software,   you
ture, which helps                                   will not have to
in restoring and                                    struggle with its
repairing         files                            interface and con-
infected        with                              figuration.    The
worms or Trojans                                 icons and captions



                                                                        1/2 p AD
with the possibili-                             are self-explanato -
ty of even saving                               ry and the Scan,
the original doc -                             Live-update       and
ument. Like in                                 Option setting tasks
the older ver -                               are very easy to get
sions, if the virus cannot                    to and perform from
be removed from the file, Nor-              the convenient front
ton offers to delete the file.      interface.
     In today’s connected age,          The Live-update feature is
small files can be easily trans -   very transparent and one of
ferred through instant mes -        the     best        implemented
sengers and these could con -       amongst anti-virus packages.
tain viruses—the instant mes -      If you are updating the pro -
senger support option safe-         tection updates daily, the
guards the system from these.       download size will not be
Norton automatically detects        more than 80-90 Kb.
the messengers installed on             If data protection under
your system and enables the         any circumstances is your
protection mode by default          priority,       then     Norton
during installation. It scans       AntiVirus 2003 will put your
MSN, Yahoo! and AOL mes -           mind to ease.
sengers for possible malicious
files—all files received through
these messengers are scanned        SPECIFICATIONS
for viruses and then passed         System requirements: Win-
forward. Users do have the          dows 98 SE/Me/2000/XP, 300
option of enabling or dis -         MHz processor, 128 MB RAM,
abling this feature.                70 MB hard disk space, IE 5.0
     Norton AntiVirus 2003
scans all outgoing mail for         Norton AntiVirus 2003         B
                                    Performance
Price: Rs 2,025                     Ease of use
Contact: Symantec                   Value for money
Phone: 022-6570658                  Features
Fax: 022-6570671
                                    OVERALL
Web site: www.symantec.com


          79                                                                  DECEMBER 2002
test drive I
                   I   reviews

Lindows 2.0                                                           Antec Performance Plus 660 AMG
Stepping stone to Linux                                               Sturdy and cool

L   indows, as the name sug-
    gests, tries to bridge the
gap between Windows and
                                  configure settings for display,
                                  sound, etc.
                                       The interface is extremely
                                                                      W      hat are the specifica -
                                                                             tions for a top-class
                                                                      cabinet? The basic require -
                                                                                                        designed such that the drive
                                                                                                        has to be fitted to a clip and
                                                                                                        then slid into the bay—nice
Linux.                            simple to use. If you’ve cho -      ment of any cabinet                            and easy. The hard
     The installation is pretty   sen a dual-boot configuration,      is a capable power                             disk can be fitted
smooth. You can let Lindows       Lindows           automatically     supply, proper ven-                            into the internal
take up the whole hard disk,      mounts the partitions belong-       tilation system and                            3.5-inch bay cage,
or, if you’ve already installed   ing to the other OS so that it      sturdy build.                                  which can be
Windows, it can share the         is accessible directly from the          The      Perfor-                          removed just by
partition and set up your         ‘My Computer’ icon in Lin -         mance Plus 660                                 sliding a clamp.
                                     dows. If you’re on a LAN,        AMG from Antec is                              The bay is provid -
                                     you will get an icon called      awesomely rugged.                              ed with a clamp
                                        ‘Network Browser’, simi-      The 5.25-inch drive                            for a fan; useful if
                                        lar to ‘Network Neigh -       bay front cover is                             you use one of the
                                        bourhood’ in Windows.         made of plastic and                            faster drives which
                                             On the applications      can be removed just                            dissipate a lot of
                                        front, Lindows is mini -      by pushing the two                             heat. Just next to
                                        mal, but these are suffi -    side buttons. Below                            the hard disk cage
                                        cient for a non-power         these bays are the                             is a washable filter
                                        user. One feature that        3.5-inch bays. On the front       for ensuring clean airflow.
                                        stands out is the Click-      bezel, a small plastic spring-    Finally, there is space for a
                                        N-Run. It allows you to       loaded flap opens to give         stock fan just below the hard
computer to boot to either        download an application,            access to two USB and one         disk cage.
OS. If you have some experi -     install it and run it with a sin-   FireWire connection. The               Being a mini-tower, it’s
ence in partitioning hard         gle click—a definite improve -      power and reset buttons are       slightly cramped, especially
disks, you can perform the        ment over the RPM package           present on the front bezel,       near the CPU region, due to
whole process manually.           management software used            with two LED indicators and       an irritating cross metal rib
     Lindows 2.0 eliminates all   by other distributions. How-        two extra LEDs in case you        that serves as the lateral
applications it considers         ever, to use this feature, you      want to monitor the status of     strengthening device. Also,
unnecessary for a first-time      need to register with the Web       any other device. The only        the power supply needs some
user. That would include over     site for a fee of $99.              sore point is the reset           sort of support, since it was
50 per cent of the applications        Lindows uses WINE (Win-        switch—it’s too small and a       seen to tilt a bit due to its own
normally found in other dis -     dows Emulator) to run many          bit hard to reach.                weight and due to the dan-
tributions. It might make no      Windows-compatible applica-              The cabinet comes with       gling cables.
difference to a new user, but     tions such as MS Office.            330 watts power supply with            Overall, we were pretty
is certainly a disadvantage for        One cannot deny the            two      fans—one      normal     impressed with the build qual-
a veteran.                        extreme simplicity of use, the      exhaust at the back of the        ity and the smart thinking that
     Like most new distribu-      freshness of the interface, the     case, while the other is placed   went into making this cabinet
tions, Lindows automatically      ease of configuring hardware        right above the CPU. This         user-friendly. But then all good
configures a wide variety of      and the various settings pres -     design really provides some       things come for a price—at Rs
hardware, including the           ent in Lindows—an excellent         heavy-duty cooling and is rec-    7,650, it’s priced way too high
network card and the net-         stepping stone for those who        ommended for people using         by Indian standards.
work connection—a definite        want to venture into the            the AMD Athlon CPU. The
                                                                                                        SPECIFICATIONS
advantage for the new user.       world of Linux.                     quality of wiring used inside
                                                                                                        Mini-tower, 17.25x8.1x18.6
     After the startup, you’re                                        is splendid, with the mother-     inch (HxWxD), seven expan-
taken straight to the graphical   SPECIFICATIONS                      board power supply connec-        sion slots, three 5.25-inch bays,
                                  System Requirements: Intel or                                         five 3.5-inch bays (two of them
interface, which is very simi -                                       tor wire wrapped in nylon net
                                  compatible CPU at 400 MHz,                                            convertible), P4 compatible
lar to Windows. With nearly       128 MB RAM, 2 GB free hard          and all the peripheral power
                                                                                                        330 W power supply, net
the same layout, this is noth-    disk space, broadband Internet      connectors you will ever          weight approx 10 kg, two USB
ing but a Lindows version of      connection recommended for          need. The drive bays are          and one FireWire front connec-
KDE. Exactly like Windows, in     Click-N-Run                                                           tors, washable air filter
the left hand corner is an L-                                         Price: Rs 7,650
                                  Lindows 2.0                 B                                           Antec Performance Plus     B+
shaped icon that serves as a                                          Contact: Cyber Space Abacus
                                  Performance                         Pvt Ltd                            Performance
start button. From here you
                                  Ease of use                         Phone: 044-4464468                 Build quality
can access any program or
                                  Value for money                     Fax: 044-4915490                   Value for money
                                  Features                            E-mail: shunmugavel@theitde-       Features
Price: Freeware                   OVERALL                             pot.com                            OVERALL
Web site: www.lindows.com                                             Web site: www.antec-inc.com


          80                                                                                                          DECEMBER 2002
Microsoft Wireless IntelliMouse
Explorer
Smooth operator

T   his wireless mouse is con-
    toured so that it fits snug-
ly into your palm, making it
                                       The mouse is good for
                                   gaming as well as regular
                                   office   applications.     The
easy to use even over pro -        smooth response will make
longed periods. During instal-     for very accurate aiming
lation, the mouse was detect-      when playing Quake sessions!
   ed and automatically con-       The additional buttons are
       figured in Windows XP.      especially suited to gaming
             The buttons are       since they can be configured
              easy to click and    to perform special tasks.
                   the      two        Overall, it’s a great com-
                      hotkeys      panion to applications where
                       are just    you need accuracy in your
                        under      pointing device.
                        t h e
                       thumb       SPECIFICATIONS
                                   Two AA batteries, a receiver,
for faster access to commonly
                                   software CD and manual
used tasks that they can be
programmed to activate.            IntelliMouse Explorer        B+
Price: Rs 3,380                    Performance
Contact: Microsoft Corporation     Build quality
India Pvt Ltd                      Value for money
Phone: 011-6292640                 Features
E-mail: connect@microsoft.com      OVERALL
Web site: www.Microsoft.com



Kodak Digital Camera CX4230
Sharp shooter
                                                                          1/2 p AD
T  he CX4230 is fully Plug-n-
   Play compatible, with USB
connectivity for downloading
                                   to properly set the target area.
                                   Indoor photographs with
                                   flash capture all the details,
photos to your computer.           but the ones without flash are
During the test, the installa-     not too clear. Outdoor photo-
                        tion       graphs come out pretty clear.
                                   The Macro Mode option for
                                   close-ups captures even finer
                                   details. The colour composi-
                                   tion is truly excellent in this
                                   mode. However, this camera
                                   is costly for the 2 Megapixel,
                                   16 MB mid-range segment.
was auto-
matic with Windows XP              SPECIFICATIONS
detecting the device and           16 MB internal memory,
installing the drivers on its      MMC/SD slot, 2 Mega pixel
own, without requiring the         resolution, 3x optical, 2x digi-
                                   tal zoom, 1.6-inch TFT colour
driver CD. A 1.6-inch LCD          LCD screen, weight 220 gm,
screen enables even a novice       JPEG/EXIF v2.2 compression

Price: Rs 19,900                   Kodak Digital CX4230         B-
Contact: Neoteric Informatique     Performance
Pvt Ltd                            Build quality
Phone: 022-4172600                 Value for money
Fax: 022-418 5294                  Features
E-mail: sales@neoteric-info.com
                                   OVERALL
Web site: www.neoteric-info.com                                       §

          81                                                                    DECEMBER 2002
test drive I
                   I   reviews

Samsung ML-1210 laser printer
Print baby, print

T   he Samsung ML-1210
    offers speedy printing at
an affordable price. The print-
                                  just 26.73 seconds for the
                                  image print test. However, it
                                  took a slow 280 seconds to
er supports a maxi -                       print 50 pages of the
mum resolution                                 test word docu -
of 600 dpi, has a                                ment. It logged
USB as well as                                    some       good
parallel interface                                results in our
and comes with                                     print quality
8 MB of onboard                                   tests, especially
memory.         The                              when printing
paper-in tray can hold                     text and was able to
150 sheets of paper. The             print even small sized text
printer also supports manual      with clarity. All in all, this
paper feed.                       printer is a good choice if you
    The build quality of the      need a value solution.
toner flap, the paper-in and
                                  SPECIFICATIONS
the paper-out tray is quite       600 dpi resolution, USB and
impressive. As far as perform-    parallel interface, 8 MB
ance goes, this printer took      onboard memory
Price: Rs 14,500
                                  Samsung ML-1210               B
Contact: Samsung Electronics
India Information & Telecommu-    Performance
nication Ltd                      Build quality
Phone: 011-6322517                Value for money
E-mail: marketing@samsungin-      Features
dia.com                           OVERALL
Web site: www.samsungindia.com

DeDupe 1.0 duplicate file finder
Copy cat
                                                                      1/2 p AD
D    eDupe 1.0 is designed to
     search and eliminate
duplicate files that clutter up
                                  drives). However, each time
                                  you need to look for duplicate
                                          files or change your
your hard drive. DeDupe                      preferences, you have
provides enough                                to save them with a
safeguards                                       different     file
against los-                                       name.
ing files in                                                Though
the process of                                          a feature-
eliminating                                             rich appli-
duplicate files and                                   cation,  it’s
by default protects                           expensive if you
the system files and                 consider similar freeware
folders.                          utilities available on the Net.
    DeDupe can also carry out
an automated process of find-      SPECIFICATIONS
                                   System requirements:
ing duplicate files based on
                                   Windows 95 or higher,
scheduled tasks. It also checks    Pentium or compatible proces-
for duplicates in multiple         sor at 100 MHz, 32 MB RAM,
drives (removable and network      20 MB hard disk space

Price: Rs 1,419                    DeDupe 1.0                   B-
Contact: TechnoPundits Systems     Performance
Pvt Ltd                            Ease of use
Phone: 044-6524326/27/28           Value for money
Fax: 044-6247847                   Features
E-mail: info@technopundits.com
                                   OVERALL
Web site: www.technopundits.com


          83                                                                DECEMBER 2002
test drive I
                   I   undercover



I
    t was not a particularly dark night and    to buy a set of speakers…Armed with cash
    the weather was especially upbeat. I       and a spring in my step (new gadget up                 I   If you are into music only, a
    leaned over Atul’s shoulder as he          ahead!), off I went.                                     good 2.1 speaker set will serve
flicked open the sleek, black case and tri -       I started with a small shop that had                 you well
umphantly exhibited the six-stringed           the knack of disappearing into its sur-                I Always test the speakers you

beauty. It was a Fender! It took a dedicat-    roundings when viewed at a particular                buy on your music—take a CD or
ed application of my secret agent training     angle. The keeper was adamant that I buy        tape with you and test the speakers
to muffle my excitement and broadcast it       the Adcom 660 W Multi-media Speaker—            using your music
as a nonchalant grin. “Plug it into the        a 2.1-channel speaker set. The asking price     I When you buy a multi-channel speak-

amp”, said he. I plugged the beauty into       was a shade over Rs 600 and I was               er system, make sure that your sound-
the home-made 400 W beast, which drove         intrigued. The set had reasonable bass out-     card has the correct outputs
my Sony speaker set, the showpiece of my       put, but the treble lacked the aural nuance     I There are some THX and Dolby Digi-

computer system. A riff, a strum and away      I was looking for. My next run-in was with      tal certified speaker sets available in the
it went, taking the speakers with it. “Must    an even cheaper unit, a Mercury 440 W           market—look for these if you want to
have been the OP-Amp, I had to compro-         that alas was only stereo. Mercury speak -      set up a home theatre
mise with its specs”, the wannabe engi-        ers are affordably priced and are hot sell-
neer put in. Right. To market, to market,      ers and I could tell that the set would be
                                                                                             an ideal buy for a desktop setup where




Speak easy
                                                                                             music makes a sporadic appearance. The
                                                                                             shop also exhibited a two-piece Philips
                                                                                             system, rated at 600 W and priced at Rs
                                                                                             699. An elder sibling from the same com-
                                                                                             pany packed a 1000 W punch, called itself
                                                                                             the Philips Fun Power Plus and was Rs
                                                                                             1,295 away from a purchase. None enticed
  Agent 001 goes out on a hunt for a replacement set of speakers                             me however, not even the Rs 750 Creative
                 after blowing up his original set                                           SBS15, another stereo set. These were all
                                                                                             good systems, with output ranging from
                                                                                             very decent to pretty good, but the punch
                                                                                             that I was looking for was missing.
                                                                                                  So on I went, bravely venturing into
                                                                                             the my-wallet-feels-lighter territory. Three
                                                                                             sets greeted me on this side of the market.
                                                                                             The Aztec (rated at a cool 2000 W), the Cre-
                                                                                             ative Inspire 2.1 (12 W RMS subwoofer and
                                                                                             4.5 W RMS satellites) and the Cambridge
                                                                                             SW320 (12 W RMS subwoofer and 4 W
                                                                                             RMS satellites). Priced equally at Rs 2,500,
                                                                                             my vote went to the Cambridge set for its
                                                                                             wonderful sound reproduction (the bass,
                                                                                             especially) but the set lacked the multiple-
                                                                                             channel support and the inputs that I was
                                                                                             looking for. Dejected, but neither shaken
                                                                                             nor stirred, I pointed to the Creative 4.1
                                                                                             speaker set that nestled in the corner. At Rs
                                                                                             4,150, the set seemed like a nice compro-
                                                                                             mise between price and performance.
                                                                                                  Logitech is doing great things in the
                                                                                             speaker segment, a vendor told me, point-
                                                                                             ing to the Soundman Extrusio DSR-100, an
                                                                                             800 W, 4.1 set that was priced Rs 12,000.
                                                                                             He also told me that the Z560, a 400 W,
                                                                                             THX certified, 4.1-channel speaker set was
                                                                                             expected to arrive any time soon. Patience
                                                                                             was never my forte and I settled for a Jet-
                                                                                             way Artis 5.1 unit, a Rs 12,000 set code-
                                                                                             named X8L/5. It has discrete inputs for all
                                                                                             the channels and the requisite plugs where
                                                                                             the Fender could find port—all in all, a per-
                                                                                             fect fit. Though my wallet is lighter, my
                                                                                             ears ring with pleasure.


          84                                                                                                            DECEMBER 2002
insight I
               I   MMS



C
           olours. They rule our lives. We     Partnership Project (3GPP), which is also       sages. At some point, additional services
           enjoy them. But all along, on a     collaborating with other standards bodies       are envisaged, such as receiving messages
           one-and-a-half inch by one          such as the WAP forum to assist in certain      with rich multimedia content from com -
           inch screen on a mobile hand-       areas. The Global System for Mobile Com-        mercial content creators. These services
set, all you could see, receive and share      munication (GSM) association is active in       may be commercial transactions, where
were monochrome text-based messages            collecting operator requirements to             users would have to pay for them, much
interspersed with the odd emoticon.            address to 3GPP to help advance these           like the Web sites that allow users to pay
Then, there’s the 160-character limit.         standards.                                      for and download ringtones and logos for
While SMS has had its share of the lime-           MMS itself will emerge in two phases,       their phones.
light and was once the killer app in cellu-    the first phase being 2.5G, right now, fol -        With the newer mobile devices, peo -
lar technology, there was something            lowed by services on the 3G networks of         ple will soon be sharing small video clips
missing—SMS is fun, but it isn’t colour-       the future. In practical terms, it means        or slideshows (complete with audio). In




     You aren’t satisfied simply saying it with words? How about adding some colour and pictures?
                             MMS makes all this possible on your cell phone

ful. You can send short messages but you
still cannot send pictures, videos,
audio clips. Creativity is still lim -
ited to sending monochrome
pixellated emoticons.
And it grossly under
utilises the band-
width offered by
technologies
such as GPRS,
which      promise
desktop-level
Internet     access
speeds on your
mobile handset.
     Well, not any
longer.     Multimedia
Messaging System (MMS)
is the new buzzword in mobile
communications. You have heard of
it. It promises the ability to send colour
pictures, video clips, audio clips and even-
tually, a whole lot more—a quantum step
up from the text-only SMS service and a
shift into rich multimedia content on          that at present, under the
mobile handsets. This shift isn’t far in       2.5G standard (which includes
coming; in fact in parts of the world,         GPRS networks), your MMS messages
                                                                                               PHOTOGRAPH:    Jiten Gandhi,
including India, this is already happening.    would look like an animated slideshow or
                                                                                               IMAGING :   Neeta Wadiker
From North America to Japan, telecom-          like the Flash files you see on the Internet.
munication companies are integrating           With 3G, MMS would be available as
MMS services into their network.               streaming video and audio and more              short, MMS is all
                                               bandwidth-demanding           downloadable      about dynamic messages.
What it means                                  multimedia content.                             Even if the phone may lack
For MMS to be deployed, the network                 MMS will allow for several elements        a proper true life colour screen,
operators have to upgrade their infra-         within the message. Immediately, we can         with shades of greyscale one can
structure and devices supporting MMS           expect messages with rich text content,         still enjoy a dynamic message. Using
must be available.                             photographs (in JPEG, PNG and GIF for -         this technology, you could send picture
     The principal standards setting organ-    mats), sound and animation. As with SMS         postcards with phones that feature imag-
isation for MMS is Third Generation            messages, users can create their own mes -      ing capabilities, animated greeting cards,


          86                                                                                                                  DECEMBER 2002
  Connecting People
 In order to implement MMS, it needs to be        connectivity standard the user is using,         loaded. Once the receiver has successfully
 enabled on the side of the service provider      which could be GPRS (which is 2.5G) or a         downloaded the message, a confirmation is
 as well as the user. When you send an            newer 3G standard like UMTS. On receiv-          sent by the MMSC to the receiver—some-
 MMS, it is sent through the existing cellular    ing the message, the Multi Media Service         what like what happens when you down-
                                                                  Centre (MMSC) sends the          load a file from the Internet.
           Setup of MMS Network                                   sender a confirmation that           On the side of the network operator,
                                                                  the message is received. The     the user’s MMS handset (the MMS client)
                                                                  MMSC then sends the              talks to a central MMS server. This is the
                                                                  receiver a notification that a   core component that handles the technol-
                                                                  new message is waiting.          ogy behind the MMS service where mes-
                                                                  Since MMS messages are           sages are stored and transmission proto-
                                                                  larger than SMS messages,        cols are implemented. This server works in
                                                                  service providers have intro-    tandem (and is sometimes even integrated
                                                                  duced an option where the        into) an MMS Proxy-Relay. The Proxy-
                                                                  user can choose to down-         Relay is the intermediary between the user
                                                                  load the message immedi-         and the MMS server. It works to grant
                                                                  ately or download it later.      access to the messaging and storage serv-
                                                                      On downloading the           ices, which could be as varied as cellular
                                                                  message, the receiver gets       phones, tablet PCs, PDAs, etc. It also pro -
                                                                  an acknowledgement from          vides access to the messaging services on
                                                                  the MMSC that the mes-           other messaging systems such as e-mail,
                                                                  sage is successfully down-       SMS and paging.



scribbles and doodles to other handsets          that) and yes, they are
that support MMS.                                meant for more than
    The fun doesn’t stop with just mak-          punching      numbers
ing and sharing movies, audio and pic -          and exchanging mes-
ture clips. MMS is just the beginning of a       sages. They don’t talk
whole slew of services. In its present form,     back (yet!) but the
2.5G networks let you access the Net on          newer phones are
a mobile device at between 20-70 Kbps            more than just phones.
(the theoretical speed is 144 Kbps), equiv -     With Java enabled
alent to a regular modem/phone line              functionality, you can
access. An average MMS is 5 to 15 KB in          actually download and
size. Hence, most new MMS-compliant              play games, whenever
devices have at least 30 KB of memory to         and wherever you
suport them.                                     want and create richer
    When 3G, the next level, finally turns
up, you could experience speeds anywhere
                                                 MMS messages.
                                                     Mobile       phone
                                                                                           1/4th AD
from 144 Kbps right up to 384 Kbps. Your         manufacturers        are
MMS messages would then take on the              making newer phones
form of high-quality streaming video and         into colourful, fun
audio. Services like these are already being     devices. There are
seen in the new 3G networks in Japan and         going to be quite a few
South Korea.                                     technological innova-
                                                 tions in the near future
The gear                                         as      manufacturers
To use and enjoy this multimedia-rich            scramble to integrate
service over a mobile device, you need an        more into a phone.
MMS-enabled mobile device or an MMS-             The Sony Ericsson
enabled PDA (see box, ‘Phones that Make you      T68i, for example, has
Go Mmmm!’). Though older handsets that           built-in support for
do not have support for MMS will not be          POP3 e-mail. The T68i
able to use this services, already mobile        as well as the upcom-
phones are getting smarter. Phones now           ing Sony Ericsson P800
offer PDA like functionality (the Sony Eric-     and the Nokia 7650 all
sson P800 comes very close to doing just         feature cameras.


          87                                                                                                                   DECEMBER 2002
insight I
               I   MMS

                                                       Of course, your cellular network oper-      problem. Realising that the penetration of
 Phones that Make you Go                          ator should offer MMS services. Compa-           MMS-enabled phones is going to be slow,
 Mmmm!                                            nies around the world are jumping into           the standard setters have a simple strate -
 Sony Ericsson P800: With a 208x320               this. In Japan NTT DoCoMo is a leader,           gy: use e-mail to send and receive MMS
 pixel, 4,096-colour display, built-in camera     having been in this business for some            messages.
           and Bluetooth connectivity, this is    time now. DoCoMo offers next-genera -                Don’t expect to do this overnight,
             one power-packed MMS                 tion services such as high-speed ‘always         though. Implementation and functional -
               device. It features the Sym-       on’ Internet access at an astounding 384         ity depend upon the network operators.
                 bian 7 OS and can down-          Kbps—true 3G services. Another emerg-            Industry insiders such as the Mobile
                   load Java applications.        ing market is South Korea, where the             Streams believe that this is going to be a
                   There is an internal 12        DoCoMo’s Japanese success story has              primary driver for the MMS services to
                 MB and an external 16 MB         inspired local carriers to implement 3G-         take off, so once rivalries kick in, every-
          Memory Stick. It comes with view-       level services. In Europ, service providers      body should be offering it. Those with
 ers for numerous formats, including Word,        such as Orange and Vodaphone have just           SMS enabled phones should receive a
 Excel and PDF documents, and you can             introduced MMS services. In the US, all          URL pointing to where the message has
 send and receive e-mail, surf the Net and        the big players have introduced or are           been stored.
 do just about everything a PDA can do.           introducing a whole range of services.
                                                       Closer home, BPL Mobile is the first off    The future
 Nokia 7650: The 7650 features a tiny             the block having introduced these services       Now that users will get a taste of what
 camera and comes with                            in India. The full range of MMS services         multimedia messaging offers, the need for
 the Symbian OS. The                              available is dependent on the network            greater support for audio and video in a
 screen is 176x208                                operator. Compatibility issues may exist         handheld device is only going to increase.
 pixels and the phone                             initially, but as the standards are finalised,   Perhaps the single most influential driver
 has Java applications support.                   one can expect these to get resolved.            that would facilitate true multimedia and




                                                                     “
 This MMS-capable camera-phone                                                                                    advanced forms of interac -
 features several modes, and images can                                                                           tive messaging will be a cel-
 be captured at a 640x480 resolution.                                                                             lular service network that
                                                                             The step up from                     allows for greater band -
 Sony Ericsson T68i: This is a curvy MMS-                                    SMS to MMS is as                     width. We’ve already heard
             enabled phone. It features Blue-                                important as the                     of 3G networks like NTT
              tooth and has a plug-n-play
                                                                             transition was from                  DoCoMo, which offers




                                                                                                   ”
               camera. The screen is a                                                                            bandwidths of up to 384
               80x201 pixels, capable of dis-                                DOS to Windows                       Kbps on a mobile device.
               playing 256 colours. This          Simon Buckingham           for your PC                          Tomorrow’s 4G networks are
              phone packs in a number of          CEO OF MOBILE STREAMS                                           going to boast of wireless
              features and boasts of being                                                                        bandwidth like most people
           one of the first to feature MMS. It                                                                    can only dream of. In Octo -
 supports POP3 e-mail and also has 80 KB          The costs                                        ber, DoCoMo announced the impossible:
 of internal memory   .                           The rate structure for MMS traffic is con-       under experimental conditions, with a
                                                  trolled by the operator, so costs are going      working prototype of a 4G mobile system,
 Nokia 7210: The 7210 weighs in at a              to vary from region to region. Within the        an incredible 100 Mbps downlink and 20
 mere 83 grams, features                          same region, expect the costs to be more         Mbps uplink conditions. This, DoCoMo
 stereo FM radio, and                             or less identical once all the operators         claims, is the fastest data transmission
 comes with some rather                           implement MMS. Internationally, cus-             achieved to date over mobile links. DoCo-
 wild colour options and                          tomers get charged either on a per mes-          Mo itself is looking at the key technology
 exotic styling. It also features                 sage basis or by the amount of data trans-       being developed by 2005 and possible
 a high-resolution screen, is set                 ferred in the MMS message. There are also        commercial deployment of the 4G archi-
 as a triband world phone and is                  some tariff plans that charge a flat rate for    tecture by 2010. The possibilities that this
 Java enabled.                                    Internet access (this would include MMS),        kind of bandwidth, coupled with the slew
                                                  over a fixed period. As a basic guide to the     of more advanced mobile devices, is going
 Panasonic GD87/88: This phone boasts             cost of an MMS message, the Mobile               to bring is only limited by one’s imagina -
 of a high-resolution 65,536-colour TFT           Stream’s      MobileMMS        forum       at    tion. However, MMS will become popular
         screen, and an elegant clamshell         www.mobilemms.com suggests a rate equal          only when prices come down and servic-
           body design. Did we mention the        to three times the rate for one SMS mes-         es and devices become easily available.
            built-in camera and IrDA support      sage. Ultimately though, the rates will be       Analysts predict that it would be a couple
              to connect to your PC? The          set by the operators themselves.                 of years before MMS reaches the same
                 110,000-pixel CMOS cam-                                                           level of acceptance and reach as SMS. But
                     era also has a built-in      I don’t wanna be left out!                       for now, MMS holds promise and is a def -
                      timer to take those         Maybe you don’t have a mobile phone or,          inite step towards pictures, sound and
                      priceless group pictures!   even more frustrating, your device does          video on your mobile device.
                                                  not support MMS. So you feel left out? No                            SRINIVASAN RAMAKRISHNAN



          88                                                                                                                  DECEMBER 2002
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          insight I
                            I   palladium




           Microsoft’s Palladium is all set to secure the computing world in ways unimaginable…we find out how




         S
                 ecurity has been reduced to an       the content on the Internet.                  user from the pitfalls and challenge
                 ‘all talk and no show’ buzzword           The trick apparently, is to make secu-   that an all-pervasive network such a
                 that is so typical of today’s fast   rity ubiquitous—like the buzzword that        the Internet poses. A drastic change in
                 and furious world. You can keep      it is, but only practically implemented       the PC hardware is not feasible due
          your virus definitions updated, config -    and not verbally announced. If everyone       largely to economic reasons. What Pal
          ure your favourite e-mail client such       is secure and every computer ‘trusts’         ladium hopes to introduce is a minima
          that it does not automatically execute      every other machine, there is little rea-     change that will serve the dual purpose
          attachments and hope that your chil -       son to be afraid of a malicious hack or       of granting a computer user security
          dren do not stumble onto adult Web          attack. Thus goes the thinking behind         even as it maintains backward compat
          sites while surfing. You can try to         some new-fangled initiatives that are         ibility with existing applications.
          avoid spam by using a number of             meant to bring together the seemingly             These changes will be reflected in
          whitelists, blacklists and mail filtering   dichotomous boons of security and pri -       the key components of the centra
          services. You can hide your personal        vacy within the same computer. We take        processor, a motherboard chip, inpu
          data within encrypted partitions and        a close look at one such initiative,          devices and output components such a
          folders to save it from the prying eyes     Microsoft’s Palladium, with the intent of     the graphics processor. Palladium is no
          of spyware. With all these measures,        offering an insight into both the work-       a separate operating system; rather, it i
          things ought to be fine and secure in       ings of the technology involved and the       based on low-level changes to the Win
          the computing world. But reality dic -      implication that it will have on the way      dows kernel itself. Secondly, it is mean
          tates otherwise; security and privacy       we work and communicate.                      as an enforcer of security measures—
          are community-derived—you cannot                                                          measures that will either be defined by
          hope to be secure even if one person on     Think different
          your network does not take the same         Palladium is a content-protection con -
          defensive measures that you do. You         cept that has spawned from the belief
          cannot afford to pretend that your          that the PC, as it currently stands, is not
          server is safe when all it takes is just    architecturally equipped to protect a
          one mouth to utter a vital password.
          You certainly cannot pretend that your
          kids are safe from the social scum that
          seemingly influence a large chunk of




          IMAGING:   Solomon Lewis



                       90                                                                                                     DECEMBER
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          an end user or a content generator. Think       potentially malicious, pieces of code. This     cations do not trespass into restricte
          of Palladium as a policing system whose         micro-kernel dictates the rudimentary           memory or file systems. Thanks to th
          actions are guided by laws set by a third       security policies that the rest of the system   way a CPU works, it is not possible for an
          party, akin to the judiciary.                   must follow. Under Palladium, a Nexus can       software to modify the Nexus or subver
                                                          be changed, thus changing the security          the policies laid down by it.
          Think secure                                    parameters and guidelines. Under Palladi-           The Nexus is thus protected by th
          Palladium is meant to cultivate a comput-       um, these rudimentary policies can be           hardware, while it protects the softwar
          ing environment, termed as ‘trusted space’,     changed by using a different Nexus.             that forms the applications and data. Whil
          which a user can rely on for security and           The Nexus is the manager of trusted         the Nexus maintains a low profile, mana
          privacy. At the heart of the system lies a      memory and an arbitrator of access to the       gerial stance, entities known as Truste
          secure cryptographic co-processor, that is,     cryptographic co-processor. When a Palla-       Agents (TA) do the legwork of interactin
          a tamper-resistant embedded smart card,         dium PC is booted for the first time, an        with the user. A TA can either be a Palladi
          which contains unique keys and a variety        inventory of the system hardware is taken       um-enabled application or an add-on to an
          of cipher implementations. It thus acts as      and authenticated. If a part of the hard-       existing program, imparting Palladium




                                                            “
          a unique identifier of a par-                                                                              awareness to it.
          ticular system and is the base                                                                                 Although existing applica
          on which Palladium’s security                            Palladium is a new                                tions will run on a Palladium
          measures are implemented.
          Additional changes made to
                                                                   hardware and software                             system, they will not be able to
                                                                                                                     use the security features with
          the CPU (in terms of exten -                             architecture that will run                        out TAs. To better comprehen
          sions, similar to 3DNow!) will                           applications in a memory                          the relation between a Nexu
          allow the central processor to
          run in a special mode. Finally,     John Manferdelli
                                                                   space that is highly                              and TAs, consider the analog
                                                                                                                     of a language. If the Nexu




                                                                                                          ”
          to enable secure communica-         GENERAL MANAGER ,    resistant to tampering                            defines the rules of grammar fo
          tion over a motherboard’s           MICROSOFT PALLADIUM
                                                                   and interference                                  the language, the TA uses thos
          data buses, the chip too will       UNIT                                                                   rules to construct sentences a
          have to be modified.                                                                                       a means of communicating
              Built upon this hardware foundation          ware is later changed or replaced, the sys-    securely with other systems and users.
          and extending its functionality is a tiny        tem will have to be re-authenticated via a
          piece of software termed the Nexus. It rep-      central authority. Assuming that the sys-      Think trust
          resents a change in the kernel of the oper-      tem’s hardware is recognised as legal, the     The Nexus and TAs together provide trus
          ating system and takes the form of an inde-      Nexus is then loaded in an encrypted state     ed data storage, encryption services fo
          pendent micro-kernel. The Nexus is run in        into the restricted memory space. It will      applications and facilities to enable hard
          an ultra-privileged mode of the CPU where        then reside there as long as the system is     ware and software to authenticate them
          certain areas of memory are strictly             up, all the while dictating the system’s       selves and each other. Central to th
          reserved for it and are restricted to other,     security policies and ensuring that appli-     Palladium concept are ‘Spheres of trust’
                                                                                                          wherein a user can not only define which
                                                                                                          program to trust but can also ask it to us
                                          Storage Vaults                                                  only a certain set of data. Its like trustin
                                                                                                          your doctor with very sensitive health
                                                                                                          information. You are unlikely, however, t
                                                                                                          share with him the particulars of you
                                                                                                          bank account—details that your broker i
                                                                                                          aware of. The broker, in turn, is in the dar
                                                                                                          about the details of your health. Thus, th
                                                                                                          trust you lend to your physician does no
                                                                                                          extend into your financial life, just as you
                                                                                                          broker’s ‘sphere of trust’ does not encom
                                                                                                          pass information on your health.
                                                                                                              Similarly, Palladium divides user dat
                                                                                                          into separate spheres or vaults. Each
                                                                                                          trusted application is granted access t
                                                                                                          either a section or an entire vault. Th
                                                                                                          user thus controls what is revealed an
                                                                                                          to whom. This policy is akin to the Zone
                                                                                                          that can be set within Internet Explore
                                                                                                          and it can be used to grant you a high
                                                                                                          security environment while working an
                                                                                                          a low or zero-security space while play
                                                                                                          ing games or movies—all on the same PC
                                                                                                          and in the same user session.


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          insight I
                         I   palladium

          Think information
          Using the Nexus and the supporting hard-                                       Securing your Data
          ware, a Palladium system is cryptographi-
          cally verifiable to the user and to other
          computers or services. The system can
          ascertain that other computers are trust-
          worthy before engaging them in a transac-
          tion involving sensitive data. This is
          termed as attestation and it forms a cor -
          nerstone of successful security and privacy
          measures. Take the instance of a bank oper-
          ation. Banking software has to be highly
          trusted and moreover, it must be ensured
          that the computer dealing with it does
          indeed belong to you and not to some
          malicious party masquerading under your
          identity. You hardware should thus trust
          the banking software and vice-versa. This
          virtual handshake to exchange and verify
          credentials is made possible by attestation.
              Once attestation is done, exchange of
          data takes place. It is important that data is
          only accessible to applications that have
          been identified as trusted. Once your per-
          sonal data is transmitted to the bank, you
          could so arrange the transaction that only
          particular software can read your informa-       graphic co-processor. To seal a piece of data,      encrypting a file, you will have to go bac
          tion. Such control is made possible by a         it is appended with the hash of the system’s        to the older one to read the file.
          mechanism called sealed storage.                 Nexus identifier (a 160-bit number). It is               Thus, your applications can onl
              Sealed storage is done by encryption or      then encrypted with a private key—a secret          decrypt sealed data if they run on the sam
          decryption techniques using the crypto -         key unique to each system. When a sealed            hardware and under an identical softwar
                                                           data is given to a Palladium system, the co-        environment (as dictated by the Nexus
                                                           processor attempts to decrypt it using its          under which the data was sealed. Thi
           A Nice Thought
                                                           platform-specific private key. If successful,       ensures that under a trusted Nexus, an
           Palladium is widely touted as a system          the hashed Nexus identifier is extracted and        application can decrypt and process th
           that will put an end to virus attacks and       decrypted to determine which Nexus is per-          data but cannot subvert a TA’s policy. I
           spam. Can it hop to achieve those lofty         mitted to receive the data. If the Nexus that       you’re not running under a trusted Nexus
           goals?                                          currently resides on the computer is the            you could run software that undermine
           How does Palladium hope to stop                 same as the one that was present while the          the policy set by a TA, but the applicatio
           viruses?                                        data was sealed, the data is unsealed and           will no longer be able to decrypt the sealed
           Trusted code runs in memory that is             read. Two things emerge from this:                  data since the Nexus has changed (see info
           physically isolated, protected and inacces-     1. You cannot take a sealed file and transfer       diagram, ‘Securing your Data‘).
           sible to the rest of the system, making it      it to another machine to be unsealed there
           inherently impervious to viruses.               since the platform-specific key will change         Think implications
               Most viruses exploit the way software       and the process will fail at the first step. Such   Palladium does not require user informa
           applications use scripting. A virus can thus    a measure is essential if you wish to store sen-    tion for authentication purposes; instead, i
           infect a trusted application and use it mali-   sitive data on a non-trusted hard disk or over      secures the hardware and software envi
           ciously without infecting memory space.         a network. Since this is an inconvenience to        ronment. The Nexus identifier is no
           You will still need antivirus software.         most users who demand transportability of           unique to a system, since it is likely that th
           How does Palladium hope to stop                 their data, Microsoft has defined wrappers,         majority of people will use the same Nexus
           spam?                                           which are software extensions that will             The only identifier unique to your system
           A Palladium enabled e-mail client will          implement one of three migration policies:          will thus belong to the cryptographic co
           only download mail from ‘trusted’               (a) migration is entirely prevented by default      processor. Although Palladium discourage
           machines and servers, thus spammers are         setting, (b) migration is permitted upon            the transmission of any private informa
           automatically blocked.                          entry of a valid password, (c) migration is         tion, Microsoft has defined the concept o
               Spamming is a very lucrative business.      allowed with the consent of a third party, for      identity servers. These are third-party serv
           To get around the security measure              instance, permission is required while down-        ices that will grant you a unique identit
           imposed by Palladium, all a spammer had         loading an MP3 file from a music company.           credential using Palladium, and may o
           to do is use a trusted machine to do the        2. The same Nexus must be present while             may not reveal personal information.
           dirty work.                                     sealing and unsealing the data. If you                  The implications of using Palladium
                                                           have changed the micro-kernel after                 are many and not all scenarios make


                    92                                                                                                                      DECEMBER
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          rosy picture. To begin with, although you      a price. The way that software and hard -       ket-grabbing tactic. If a leading office suit
          could write and use your own Nexus, or         ware work together under Palladium              refuses to read files created by other appli
          trust a non-Microsoft party to service you     could ensure that while running the             cations, what can you do?
          one, chances are that like the Web brows-      movie, screen capture hardware and soft-
          er, most users will stick to the micro-ker-    ware can be disabled as part of the con-        Think about it
          nel that ships with a Palladium PC—a           tract, dictated by the content provider and     Thanks to product activation, Microsof
          Microsoft one. If Microsoft emerges as the     enforced by the TAs and the Nexus. While        has already prevented Office XP and Win
          sole or the most used identity server, the     this may slow down piracy, it could also        dows XP from working if parts of you
          system could place the company as the          mean that your TV tuner and video com -         computer are changed or if you do no
          gatekeeper of identification and authen-       bination card has been disabled, render-        divulge some personal information. A cen
          tication, a powerful role to say the least.    ing one section of your system useless.         tral security repository has been imple
          Finally, if the Nexus and TAs served by            A TA, in combination with a Nexus           mented in the form of the MS Passport and
          Microsoft take a monopolistic market           can also define expiry dates for data. E-       its Wallet system—if your Wallet account i
          share, the company could ask application       mail can be automatically and perma -           cracked, all the sensitive information wil
          developers for royalties while granting        nently deleted after a period of 30 days,       be visible to any malevolent user. The Pass
          them use of its enabling software.             doing more harm than good. While                port system has already shown some weak
              Palladium is also a good Digital Rights    national security might demand such a           nesses. Security patches for Microsoft’
          Management (DRM) solution. Content             system, market manipulation, shady              server, OS and even its mail clients regu
          can be granted or denied to a computer         accounting or other anti-trust policies of      larly feature in our download queues.
          based on its identity and the level of trust   companies might very well go unaccount-              The cornerstone of the Palladium sys
          tagged to it. Consider content renting,        ed for. Finally, a security policy defined by   tem is trust. It is a philosophy that i
          where a content provider can release a         a TA can ascertain that only a particular       reflected across its architecture via truste
          movie to your PC in return for a contract      pair of application and data goes hand-in-      spaces, trusted agents and spheres of trust
          (implemented by TAs) that dictates your        hand. While such a system can provide           The question to ask is then, ‘Can we trus
          application to collect Rs 50 from you          enhanced security to a user—your e-mails,       a single monopoly to manipulate our per
          every time you view the movie. This is         for example, can only be read by a propri-      sonal data and communication under th
          understandable till the content provider       etary application developed in-house, thus      pretext of security? Is this really securit
          insists that you download its trusted soft-    minimising corporate espionage and infor-       and at what cost?’
          ware at a price to watch the movie, also at    mation leaks—it can also be used as a mar-                                      AHMED




                                  1/2 page H AD




                    93                                                                                                                DECEMBER
Building software robots
K
           aul, the logistics manager at the      with the same tools, doing the same things       template. Macros stored just in the file are
           head office of the courier compa-      over and over again. Not only does this get      available only while that document is
           ny, walks into office and boots up     thoroughly boring, it also turns out to be       open. If the macro is stored in the template
           his PC. It’s the end of the month      quite time-consuming. Microsoft has              for that file, it will be available to all doc-
and he has a lot of work today—managers           included support for macros that can
from all regions have sent him reports            automate a lot of repetitive tasks and, con-
which he has to compile and pass on to            trary to popular belief, the feature is            Macro Viruses
the accounts department and his boss. He          extremely simple to use.                           Since macros are actually executable code,
fires up his mail client, saves all the attach-                                                      they can be malicious, just like viruses.
ments into neatly organised folders and           Personal robots                                    Viruses are also executable code and can be
starts compiling all the data into one doc-       A macro is a series of commands and                executed independently, or via another
ument. Having worked hard at it till a            instructions grouped together, which,              program (an infected EXE). Similarly,
much-delayed lunch, he gives the entire           when run, execute these instructions auto-         macros are executed via Office documents.
document one final glance before sending          matically. They are used to perform repeti-        A simple block of code that selects all text
it off. It wasn’t a slow PC, the copy-paste       tive tasks in Microsoft Office. Thus, they         on the document, deletes it, saves the file
operations or the two cigarette breaks that       are actually software robots that are ‘taught’     and closes it can be the worst nightmare
took him five hours to make the final             a specific set of instructions once and these      for most people.
report—he was busy changing the format-           are mimicked in the exact same manner                  Microsoft has included a very crude
ting of each document from the various            every time you ‘switch them on’. Struc-            virus protection technique in Office applica-
regions to one consistent look and cross-         turally, a macro is a block of program script,     tions. Click Tools > Options and enable
checking the data in the Excel sheets.            using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA).         Macro Virus Protection. With this, whenever
    Microsoft Office is by far, one of the        VBA is a modified version of the popular           you open a document containing macros,
most common Office suites in use today.           programming language, Visual Basic.                the software will ask you whether you want
Whether it’s for writing letters, making              You don’t need to understand a single          to enable them or not. If its a document
project reports, managing balance sheets          line of code for creating basic macros. In all     that is not supposed to have macros, or if
or making presentations, it is used as much       Office applications, you can literally             you are unsure of its source, you can dis-
at home as it is in the office. All applica-      ‘record’ a macro—the software tracks your          able macros and thus prevent infection.
tions in the suite highly simplify the            actions (mouse clicks and keyboard entries)        However, you should always have a good
processes of creating, updating, managing         to generate the macro for you.                     anti-virus software running that can trap
and, to some extent, even sharing content.            Macros are stored in the file you are          and warn you of macro viruses.
However, often we find ourselves playing          working with, its template, or the default                                                         §

          94                                                                                                                     DECEMBER 2002
insight I
               I   workshop

uments that are based on that template.
Macros stored in the default template (for         One-click Fix
example, Normal.dot for Word) are always           Assigning macros to toolbar buttons or key-      list of macros that you can drag to any tool-
available while the application is open,           board shortcuts makes it very convenient to      bar you want. Once you place the button
irrespective of where and from what tem-           access them. One way to assign these             on the toolbar, click Modify Selection to
plate the file is created. These robots can        shortcuts is when creating the macro             rename the button and change its image.
also be shared with other users, either by         itself—just click the relevant button. If you         If you click the Keyboard button, simply
sending them the file containing the               click the Toolbars button, you will see the      type in the key-combination that you want
macros, or by saving the macros to a sepa-                                                          to assign to it. If the combination is current-
rate script file.                                                                                   ly assigned to some other action, it will be
    You can use macros for virtually any                                                            displayed. Make sure you check this before
task in an application, such as formatting,                                                         clicking Assign—you may not want to over-
stylising, replacing text, printing, sorting,                                                       ride one of the existing keyboard shortcuts.
filtering, etc. If you are comfortable with                                                              Another way to assign macros to tool-
scripting, you can even stretch the func-                                                           bar buttons and keyboard shortcuts is to
tionality of the application to do tasks that                                                       right-click on any toolbar and click Cus-
are not readily available in the software. For                                                      tomize. Click the Keyboard button to
example, many dotcoms and content man-                                                              assign a keyboard shortcut, or select
agement systems use macros to automati-                                                             Macros in the left pane and drag the rele-
cally generate XML from Word documents.            Assigning macros to toolbar buttons              vant macro to any toolbar.
The XML documents can be directly
uploaded to their Web site. Thus, convert-
ing existing content is just a matter of                                                           ing the Organizer button. If you have
opening a document and clicking a button.                                                          assigned a toolbar button or keyboard short-
Also, writers can continue writing in the                                                          cut to the macro (see box, ‘One-click Fix’), you
confortable Word environment, instead of                                                           can also use these to run the macro.
having to work with clunky HTML forms.                                                                 If you want to save a macro to an exter-
                                                                                                   nal file, say, to distribute it to all the region-
Recording macros                                                                                   al offices, open Tools > Macro > Visual Basic
To begin with, we’ll use Word. Before you                                                          Editor. On the left pane, you will see the
start you need to decide where you want                                                            templates and documents that are open.
to save the macro—in the document or in          Name your macro and choose where it should        Double-click each item to open the code
a template. If you want to save the macro        be saved                                          stored in it. Locate the code you want to
in a template other than the default tem-                                                          save, right-click the module on the left
plate, a document based on that template         You will be asked for a name for the macro        pane, and click File > Export . The recipient
or the template itself must be open.             and where it should be stored. You can also       would have to follow a similar procedure
    Plan the steps you want the macro to         enter a description for the macro and assign      to import the code. However, it is easier to
perform. List them down if required. A           it to a toolbar or keyboard shortcut (see box,    simply send over a document or template
macro will perform each and every record-        ‘One-click Fix ’). Click OK and                   containing the macros and use the Orga -
ed action, exactly as it is executed, so this    Word will record every action                     nizer to copy the required macros.
is important. If you make an error while         henceforth. It will also show
recording a macro, the error and correc-         the Stop Recording toolbar,                        Removing unwanted text in Word
tions will also be recorded. If you are com-     from where you can pause or stop record -          When you get Word documents from sev-
fortable with scripting, you can edit the        ing the macro. Click the Stop Recording            eral sources, or even when you collect infor-
macro later to remove the extra lines of         button once you are done. It is best to undo       mation from the Web, you may get a lot of
code, otherwise it is best to start over.        all the steps you recorded in                                  junk that you spend hours
    If you want to use the macro in other        the macro, then run the                                        cleaning. The most typical
documents, ensure that it does not depend        macro to test it. Next, test the               When you        replacements are for double
on the current document’s contents. If you       macro with another similar                     record a        spaces, multiple paragraph
record a macro to embolden and italicise         document if you intend to           macro with a name          marks, manual line breaks,
some text in the document, Word will             use it across documents. You        that already exists,       acronyms, etc. Let’s create a
assume that it has to stylise whatever text      are now ready to use the            the existing one will      macro to remove these from the
is currently selected. If you need to stylise    macro and let it do all the         be overwritten             document and apply some for-
a particular string in several documents, it     tedious,      time-consuming        without warning            matting to the text.
would be better to use the Find function to      work for you.                                                      To list out all the steps, we
find that text, then stylise it, so that the         To use a macro, click Tools                                want to Find and Replace all
Find action is also recorded and only the        > Macro > Macros . From here, you can run,         double spaces with single spaces (doing
matching text will be formatted.                 delete, edit and debug macros. Editing and         this several times over will take care of
    To record a macro, click Tools > Macro >     debugging will require at least basic knowl-       multiple spaces), then do the same for
Record New Macro . Alternatively you can         edge of VBA. You can also copy macros              paragraph marks and remove manual line
click the area marked REC on the status bar.     across documents and templates by click-           breaks. Next, we will replace ‘&’ with ‘and’,


          96                                                                                                                      DECEMBER 2002
‘%’ with ‘per cent’ and ‘, etc.’ with ‘ and so on.’. Finally, we need
to format paragraphs to include 12 point spacing after them and
format the entire document with Garamond, black, 12 pt.

1                                        1. Text copied off the
                                         Internet




                                         2. The document after
                                         running the macro

                              2

    Click Tools > Macro >
Record New Macro and
name it CleanupDocu -
ment (macro names can-
not have spaces). Since
we would be using the
macro with several docu-
ments, save it in the Normal template. Click Edit > Replace and
click the More button. Ensure that the search direction is set to All
and enter double spaces in the Find box and a single space in the
Replace box. Click Replace All and repeat this for paragraph marks
(you can access special characters by clicking the Special button).
Next, choose to find Manual Line Breaks and replace it with a

                                                                         1/2 page Ver AD
blank; replace the symbols and acronyms too. Use [Ctrl] + [A] to
select all text and click Format > Paragraph. Set the Spacing After to
12 pt and click OK. From the Formatting toolbar, set the font to
Garamond, font size to 12 and the colour to black. Hit the Stop
Recording button and you are done.

Printing in Excel
When printing from Excel, usually, we would want to change
the scale at which it is printed, specify headers, footers and mar-
gins, change the print quality, etc. This is true with several kinds
of documents in Word too. All you need to do is create separate
macros for your different printing needs, and run the right one
when you need to print.
    Let’s create a macro in Excel that prints three copies of the
worksheet in Landscape format with gridlines, scaling the sheets
to 70 per cent. The pages should be centred horizontally and ver-
tically and must be numbered. Click Tools > Macro > Record New
Macro to begin recording. Name the macro Print3CopiesNum-
bered and click OK. In Excel, macros saved in the Personal Macro
Workbook will be available to all sheets. Click File > Page Setup
and choose Landscape for the Orientation and 70% for the scal-
ing under the Page tab. Under the Margins tab, check the boxes
to centre the worksheet horizontally and vertically. On the Head-
er/Footer tab, choose ‘Page 1 of ?’ for the footer and enable Grid-
lines on the Sheet tab. Click the Print button and set the number
of copies to 3. Hit Print and stop recording the macro. To allow
for further customisation, you may want to skip the last step and
just stop recording. Now, whenever you want to print a work-
sheet with these settings, simply run this macro.
    Macros provide a very powerful and efficient way to perform
repetitive tasks, so why spend your time doing mundane, time-
consuming tasks when you can have the software do it for you?
                                                          VEER KOTHARI



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  Your PC as a VCR!
Tired of hunting for blank video cassettes every time you want to record your favourite soap while you
                  are away? There’s a better way if you look towards the digital realm




T
          he hottest thing about TV today      ba RD X2, with an 80 GB hard disk and
          isn’t TV anymore. With access to     DVD burner retails for around $1,499               The Shopping List
          virtually every type of television   (approximately Rs 75,000). The Panason -
          programme, the challenge is in       ic DMR-HS2 comes with a 40 GB hard disk       Hardware
taking charge of seeing what you want,         and a DVD burner and retails for $999         n A standard PCI TV Tuner card (available

when you want. Enter Personal Video            (approximately Rs 50,000). Devices like       for as little as Rs 2,550 to Rs 3,700). For
Recorders (PVRs).                              the TiVo let you program the device so        this workshop we chosen the Pinnacle
     These devices are incredibly utilitari-   that you can see any show by download-        PCTV Plus (Aditya Infotech Pvt Ltd, Phone:
an—just plug your cable TV line into them      ing listings from the Internet. Again, they   022-26338555)
and you can record straight to the built-in    don’t come cheap.                             n Pentium III 500 MHz processor

hard disk, then burn all of it onto optical         But here’s the cool thing—you don’t      n 128 MB RAM

media through a built-in DVD-RW or CD-         have to spend serious money to get most       n At least 1 GB of free hard disk space for

RW drive. They get even better. You can        of the features that commercial PVRs give     the replay buffer and additional 1 GB
program them to avoid recording adver-         you—a little hardware and software            space for saving video footage—the
tisements. They also have timer facilities     tucked into your PC will give you almost      more free space, the better
so that if you don’t want to miss The Simp-    all of this functionality!                    n A normal coaxial cable that is hooked

sons while working, you can set the clock                                                    into your TV to provide cable and satel-
and the channel and the device does the        Putting together the bits and                 lite TV channels. The RF connector that
rest. You can then watch it whenever you       pieces                                        goes into your card is the same one that
want. Besides, having it in a digital format   You should have the TV tuner card and its     goes into the TV set
gives you the advantage of enjoying clear      driver CD. There may also be additional       n If your budget permits it, add a CD-RW

digital quality video and sound, and easy      CDs containing software—it’s time to get      drive. You can archive your recorded
distribution through the Internet, P2P         them all out. You may be prompted for         shows without filling up your hard drive
networks and other means of sharing.           some Windows components, so get hold
     So where’s the catch? Well, the catch     of your Windows installer CD. Don’t for -     Software
is that they cost an arm and a leg. A Toshi-   get the screwdriver.                          n PVR software—for this workshop, we

                                               Install the TV Tuner card and drivers:        are using Cyberlink PowerVCR II 3.0
               DirectX 8.1                     Ground yourself of all static charges by      Deluxe.
               Cyberlink PowerVCR II           touching a metal object and open the casing   n The latest versions of your graphics

               Find them on the                of the cabinet. Locate an empty PCI slot in   card drivers and DirectX 8.1 on your
               Mindware CD                     the motherboard and insert the TV Tuner       system
                                               card into it. Apply even pressure along the


          98                                                                                                            DECEMBER 2002
                                                                      PowerVCR: What’s Where?
                                                              Main Panel               The Main Interface
                                                              Live/Digital Recorder

                                                              Instant TV Replay

                                                              PowerDVD

                                                              File Player

 The Pinnacle PCTV Plus                                       Recording Scheduler

                                                              File Converter

                                                              Video Trimmer
                                                              DV Tape Transcoder
                                                              (DV to MPEG)
                                                              iPower
                                                                                      Channel surfing        Video Panel

                                                         PowerVCR Panel                                  Volume Control TV tuner control



Inserting the TV Tuner card                              ON/OFF switch


whole card and lock it down with a screw.                            Settings           Help Indicates time recorded /        Playback
You can now close the computer.                                                              space usage on the hard disk     controls
Connect the equipment: Before you
load the software, hook up the cables into     minute replay buffer to view 10 minutes of
the card. There will be directions for this    real time TV. You should optimally keep at               Tweak Me!
in the card’s manuals, but here’s general -    least 1 GB for this working directory and
ly what you have to do. Connect the coax-      additional space for saving video footage.        Capturing, encoding and storing video
ial cable (from the cable TV line) into the    After this, the software will run a couple of     footage is quite stressful for your com-
cable/antenna socket. Also, connect the        diagnostic tests and recommend some set-          puter. These are the tweaks that will help
cables from the card to your soundcard.        tings based on it. Since capturing video          you on your road to PVR bliss.
The external interface is easily connect-      feed is a stressful exercise on the subsys -      DMA: Enabling DMA (Direct Memory
ed—hook up the 3.5 mm jack into the            tem, we suggest you tweak your hardware           Access) for hard disk drives and CD-ROM
Audio Out on the TV Tuner card and on          settings to get the best out of it (see box,      drives results in freeing up the CPU dur-
the other end, into the Line In connector      Tweak Me!).                                       ing read/write operations. To enable
for the soundcard.                                  PowerVCR comes bundled with Pow-             DMA, right-click on My Computer and
     Having done this, boot up your com -      erDVD. This is very useful if you have a          choose Properties. Open the Device
puter. As Windows loads up, it will detect     DVD-ROM drive, as PowerDVD is one of              Manager tab and expand the Disk drives
your card and prompt you for the card          the best DVD playback tools available. The        tree. Choose your hard drive and click on
drivers. Insert the driver CD and follow       install program will also give you the            Properties. Under Settings, check the
the instructions on screen.                    option of installing the Intel Indeo codecs.      DMA option. Windows 98 may have a
                                               Configuring the software: Before start-           small warning popping up. Don’t worry
3, 2, 1… PVR!                                  ing the software, make sure that the cable        about it and select close. Repeat the
A PVR software may be bundled along            line is plugged in firmly. Also check and see     same with your CD-ROM drives. Restart.
with the card, but it would be better to use   if the audio connectors are in place.             DMA should now be enabled. If DMA is
a dedicated third-party PVR software for            PowerVCR is made of three primary ele-       not enabled, check if your BIOS, hard
higher control and functionality. Cyber-       ments—the main panel, the video display           drive and CD-ROM drive support DMA.
link PowerVCR II has an attractive inter-      and the PowerVCR panel. The main panel            Drivers: Get the latest drivers for your
face, is highly configurable and the codecs    will let you switch between PowerVCR,             graphics card from the vendor’s Web
that come bundled with it are fast and         PowerDVD, Recording, Editing, and                 site. Most PVR software require DirectX
deliver good quality video. Before instal -    Live/Replay as well as File play modes of the     drivers, which you can download from
lation, check for any known conflicts (see     software. The Video display panel shows           Microsoft’s Web site. Also, check with the
box, ‘Tweak Me!’).                             the video feed as is received by the TV Tuner     TV Tuner card’s manual and Web site to
Install the software: Install the PVR          card. Finally, the PowerVCR panel comes           see if there are any known conflicts with
software and follow the directions on          with controls to switch between channels,         your graphics card drivers, and install
screen. The installation program will then     play and stop the video (buffered or on file)     patches for these. Also install the codecs
locate a working directory on the drive        and increase and decease volume levels (see       for converting raw video footage into an
that has the maximum free space. You will      ‘PowerVCR: What’s Where?’).                       appropriate format.
need a minimum of 500 MB for a 10                   When you start PowerVCR for the first


          99                                                                                                                DECEMBER 2002
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time, the system settings menu opens up            Under the TV Replay tab, set the
and allows you to enter the settings.          Replay Buffer Time/Disk Space options.
    To check and see if the card is correct-   Remember, the minimum amount of
                                                                                                      Jargon Buster
ly recognised by the software, go to the       space required is 500 MB for 10 minutes                 Television standards: Televi-
System Settings menu and under the V/A         of replay time. Set the Replay Buffer Time      sion standards used around the world
Devices tab you should be able to see the      /Disk Space to the highest possible, sub-       vary. Unfortunately, video recorded in
TV Tuner card in the Video capture device      ject to the free disk space available. You      one particular format is not normally
menu. V/A Devices sets the configuration       may also want to change the Replay              compatible with another format. The tel-
for all video and audio devices. Set video     Working Directory.                              evision standards are:
source as Composite Video, and click on            The Profiles tab allows you to set the      n PAL: Based on a 50 Hz power system,

Cable. Also check the audio settings.          quality of encoding raw video footage           PAL (Phase Alteration Line) is the stan-
                                               coming in through the TV Tuner card.            dard format for television broadcasts in
                                               There are several default profiles and you      Asia and Western Europe. By reversing
                                               can also define your own.                       the relative phase of the colour signal
                                                   You should apply a profile that best        components on alternate scanning lines,
                                               suits the hardware you have. A rule of          it avoids the colour distortion that occa-
                                               thumb is to use MPEG-1 for low resolu-          sionally appears in NTSC broadcasts.
                                               tions (normal usage) and MPEG-2 for             n NTSC: NTSC (National Television Sys-

                                               high resolutions. For example, if you have      tems Committee) is a standard format
                                               a machine that is not too high in pro -         adopted by the FCC for television broad-
                                               cessing power and system resources, settle      casts in the United States, Japan, Canada
                                               for the Average profile—at MPEG 1, the          and Mexico. This is commonly referred
                                               picture quality is still reasonably good.       to as Composite Video because of the
V/A Devices tab shows the TV Tuner card        Likewise, if you have a machine that’s          convergence of luminance and colour
                                               absolutely state-of-the-art, go ahead and       into a single analog signal.
     The Channels tab lists available sta -    choose the Superior profile, at MPEG-2. If      n SECAM: SECAM (Sequential Couleur a

tions in your area and allows you to name      you want to further specify the quality of      Memoire or Sequential Colour with
specific channels. Under Video Signal For-     the encoding, you can do so by trying out       Memory) is the video format used in
mat Setting, select India. This would          the other options under Advanced and            France, Eastern Europe and some Middle
automatically set the Video Signal Format      DVD Profiles. You could also set custom         Eastern countries. Like PAL, SECAM is
for India, which is PAL B. You can then        values for video and audio compression,         based on a 50 Hz power system. Colour
choose the Cable option and click on Auto      bit rates, frame rates, frame sizes and         signals are transmitted sequentially.
Scan. The application will scan across all     other parameters. Remember though, for          MPEG: MPEG (Moving Picture Experts
available input signals and list them out      recording at resolutions such as 640x480        Group) is a compression technology for
in the Channel Listing table. As the auto      and upwards, you need to have at least a        digital video and audio signals. It includes
scan proceeds, you will be able to see the     Pentium III 700 MHz-class processor.            the following standards: MPEG-1
video feed in the main viewer panel. Once                                                      (Audio/Video), MP3 or MPEG-1 Audio
set, you can view the video, but hold on—                                                      Layer 3 (Audio), MPEG-2 (Audio/Video),
you haven’t set the other options yet.                                                         MPEG-4 (Interactive Multimedia System).
                                                                                               MPEG is responsible for multiplexing and
                                                                                               synchronising one video stream with a
                                                                                               single or multiple audio streams. MPEG-1
                                                                                               was designed to reproduce VHS/VCR
                                                                                               quality in digital format, while the MPEG-
                                                                                               2 concept, similar to MPEG-1, is intended
                                               Set the profile that best suits your hardware   to cover a wider range of applications
                                                                                               with DVD quality and broadcast TV.
                                                   Although you can leave the settings         Composite Video Signal Format:
                                               at their default values, you should con -       Generally used for less expensive types of
                                               sider experimenting with some cus-              video devices, it produces a single video
                                               tomised options to take advantage of your       signal. Used in VHS camcorders or VCRs.
Auto Scan detects available video signals      hardware and get better results.                Digital Video Format: Digital video
                                                                                               signals are split up into three compo-
    Under the Video tab, you can change        Director’s cut                                  nents: luminance, luminance minus red
the options for brightness, contrast, hue      Ever seen something on TV that you              and luminance minus blue. The compo-
and saturation. Now you can also set the       wanted to see again? Like a football goal       nent video signals can create a picture
snapshot and TV replay options. Go to          you just can’t believe? Or maybe a catch        free of common distortions that result
Snapshots and set the options for where        that you just missed seeing? Those are the      from combining and then separating the
you want the screen captures to be             times that you wished you could replay          video signal components. This technolo-
stored—these can be used later to sort         ‘live’ TV! Your PVR can actually do that!       gy is used for DVDs.
through archived videos.                       Switch to the Instant TV Replay mode and


           100                                                                                                             DECEMBER 2002
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you can pause, rewind, play in slow                                                         To delete a task, click on Delete or press
motion, replay live TV feeds and also skip       Saving for the Future                      [Delete] on your keyboard after selecting
those pesky commercials! All this can be         MPEG files occupy a lot of space on the    the task in the display area.
easily achieved with the keys on the Con-        hard drive. To counter this, there are         So there it is. You have unleashed the
trol Wheel of the PowerVCR Panel.                other formats such as DivX that have       awesome PVR capabilities of your com -
    Of course, there is even more that the       higher compression. You could also         puter with just a little software and hard -
PVR software can do—refer to the manu -          convert your MPEG files into VCD
al and see the facilities offered by it. Some    format (DAT files) and write them
of the functions include unattended video        onto CDs. Most CD writing software
recording (by scheduling it), DVD Play-          has built-in tools for this. You could
back, playing and editing video files and        also convert your MPEG files into DVD
trimming video files.                            files. This can be done by DVD author-
                                                 ing tools such as MyDVD and others,
Set it and forget it                             when used in conjunction with a
You can use the Scheduling Wizard for            DVD-R drive.
recording programs when you’re away
from your computer. So there will never
be a show that you will miss!                    ing Mode, you can choose between
     To start the Recording Scheduler, click     recording daily, a particular day of the
Recording Scheduler on the main panel to         week or on just weekends or weekdays.
launch the wizard. The wizard can also be        You can also set a date and choose to      Scheduling recordings in PowerVCR
started by clicking on the Sched-                record only on that date.
uling Wizard icon located in                                                                ware tucked in. No more scrounging
the Recording Scheduler                   Remember to        Editing scheduled tasks        around for mouldy old tapes and messing
panel. Select Enable this                 keep your          For editing scheduled tasks,   with arcane VCR settings! So hop into a
Schedule, verify and confirm     computer on during the      switch to the Recording        nice, comfortable armchair with a king
the video settings and choose    period for which the        Scheduler mode and double-     size bowl of popcorn and enjoy. And
the channel from the drop        recording is scheduled!     click on the task in the       don’t forget to junk that VCR!
down menu. For the Record-                                   Recording Scheduler panel.                         SRINIVASAN RAMAKRISHNAN




                                                1/2 page H AD




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                                              Blog
                                                                                  in!

                                                                                                                             ILLUSTRATION :   Mahesh Benk




                  Blogs offer a little private space in the public domain of the Internet. Are blogs just another
                                       fad or will they be the biggest offering since Napster?




          T
                    he Internet has become a domi -      are meant to hold more text content than         otherwise may not get published until th
                    nant means of communication          images.                                          publishers of traditional media like them
                    across the globe. It has enabled          Blogs are quite similar to Web forums.
                    highly successful services such as   On a forum, the creator sets the mood and        Personally speaking…
          e-mail and chat for direct conversation,       topic for the discussions, and people post       Blogs provide the ideal medium for shar
          and newsgroups and forums for publish -        their views and ideas for others to see. The     ing your daily activities with others. You
          ing ideas and thoughts. People share not       forum may be moderated to allow only             can jot down all the interesting events
          only opinions over the Internet, but also      certain content to be made public, to            new things you learnt, the little foolish
          photographs, video, music and money.           maintain the quality of the forum. A mod-        things you do, the pranks you play, virtu
          The Internet has evolved into a huge           erator can also ban malicious users from a       ally anything you want. It’s an easy wa
          graffiti board where anyone can stick up       forum. Think of a blog as your own per-          for others to keep up with you, so the nex
          their creations, for feedback and com -        sonal forum, where you are the creator           time you meet a friend, your conversatio
          ments from people from all walks of life.      and moderator. The topic of discussion is        can go a bit further than, “…so what’s
              The Internet has also produced its         you and your activities. You can invite sev-     been up with you?”
          share of fads and failures. One phenome -      eral people to view and comment on your               The most important attribute of blog
          non that ranks high on the hype meter is       posts. If you wish, you can control what         is that they are personal. In a vastly pub
          Web logs, or blogs. Being free and with -      they post. When you sign up with a blog-         lic medium such as the Internet, the idea
          out the burden of requiring additional         ging site, it creates a personal space for you   of personal space can be very compelling
          infrastructure, they may just become as        that is completely under your control.           Not only is it quite addictive for thos
          popular as forums, attracting large, like-          Over time, people tend to discuss spe-      who maintain these diaries, it has a simi
          minded communities.                            cific threads on their blogs and lots of         lar effect on visitors too. Also, persona
                                                         blogs have evolved into valuable discus -        blogs by nature are attached with a lot o
          Scientifically speaking…                       sion chains of topics as diverse as tech-        credibility—a person tends to write th
          Essentially, at the heart of it, blogging is   nology, sports, art and even kung fu. Peo -      bare truth, so a first-person view of the fa
          just a personal online diary that you can      ple concentrate more on the quality of the       of the Twin Towers on a blog holds muc
          share with your friends and family. They       content than on writing styles and punc-         more value than a similar write-up in th
          are quite like the online photo albums you     tuation—in fact, blogs enable a lot of           local newspaper. Readers know tha
          can create at various Web sites, only blogs    ingenious essays to be published, which          behind the blogs are people who are no


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                              “
                                                                                   (www.livejournal.com).
                                     My work involves a lot                        In fact, the site has      Blogging Etiquette
                                                                                   become so popular          Blogging is a form of communication and
                                     of research and I use                         that the developers        publishing on the Internet. It involves
                                     blogs to find relevant                        have put up restric-       several communities, from various walks

                                     and reliable informa-                         tions for signing up.
                                                                                   If you have a friend
                                                                                                              of life so it’s wise to follow a few guide
                                                                                                              lines so that you don’t end up offending




                                                                       ”
                                     tion on a particular                          who’s already blog -       anyone.
            Jacob Joseph
            MARKETING PROFES-
                                     topic at one location                         ging on it, he or she      I Don’t use abusive language on public
                                                                                   can invite you to          blogs. Though it may be common
            SIONAL, SYNAPSE
                                                                                   join LiveJournal for       among your friends and peers, there
                                                                                   free, otherwise you        could be several others reading your
          restrained by industry or social pressures.       will have to blog at a price. LiveJournal,        blog. An alternative is to keep your blog
               Blogs can be completely personal, that       like many other sites, takes blogging very        completely private, allowing only friends
          is, the writer may not allow anyone to see        seriously and provides excellent security         to read it.
          what’s on it, but this is not the idea of the     features so that bloggers can freely dis-         I Be discrete with the pictures and don’t
          Internet. One of the primary reasons why          cuss whatever they want to, without wor-          use revealing ones—they might offend
          material is published on the Net is the           rying about intruders. LiveJournal is             even friends.
          unhindered wide audience it automatically         open source and has been used as a base           I Respect all bloggers. Be polite when
          offers. However, a person can dictate what        by many Web sites to provide free                 you post comments on someone else’s
          appears on his or her blog and what does-         blogging services.                                blogs, be it in tune with or against what
          n’t. This increases the respect and trust a            At LiveJournal, you can configure            they have posted. Blogging is no different
          blogger gains because unlike forums,              your account so that you have complete            from conversation. Don’t say anything on
          though the blogger allows others to post          control over the content posted in your           your blog that you wouldn’t say to a face.
          messages on the blog, it is still his or her      space. You can choose to display your             I Healthy blogging is for the open-mind
          personal space. No blogger would allow any        contact information, location and birth-          ed. Don’t ban a user because he or she
          violation of this personal space even though      day with your blogs, and whether every-           has a differing opinion. Opinions should
          he or she may try hard to get together the        one can view it or only the users listed in       be welcomed, or disabled completely.
          ideas of several people to get as open an         your Friends list. As a measure against           I Don’t hesitate to ban mischief-makers
          opinion or as real a truth as possible.           spam-robots, which harvest e-mail                 from your blog. You will be doing a great
               Blogging can also be used as a means         addresses from Web sites, LiveJournal can         service to your fellow-bloggers.
          of direct communication with your peers,          display your e-mail address differently, so       I If you are referencing items from other
          building a thread of conversation and an          that it is not recognised by such software.       Web sites, provide a link to them. This
          ever-valuable archive of intelligence.            Whether your space is indexed by search           not only helps readers, but also tremen
          Omar Javaid, Chief Technology Officer             engines or not can also be controlled by          dously increases the credibility of your
          and founder of the mobile-computing               you. You may even choose to hide your             blog. Also, remember to give due credit
          consulting firm, Mobilocity, used to regu-        Friends list from your online profile with        to the original source of content, be it
          larly e-mail interesting URLs to colleagues       the site.                                         articles or quotes.
          and clients. Now he just maintains a Web               To ensure high quality of content on
          log, which he updates frequently.                 your blog, you can enable or disable vari-
                                                            ous restrictions. You can choose to disable     even help towards the development of th
          Window shopping                                   message boards completely, which means          service.
          There are several free blogs on the Net.          that no one can post any replies to your                                        w
                                                                                                                 Another service, Blogger ( ww.blog
          One of the most popular is LiveJournal            posts. You can allow anyone, only users         ger.com), has an impressive Web log offer
                                                            registered with LiveJournal or only users       ing, ideal for those who don’t want to
                                                            from your Friends list to post messages on
                                                            your blog. The service can optionally log
                                                            IP addresses of people who post messages.
                                                            This can sometimes be useful in deter-
                                                            mining whether the message was actually
                                                            posted by that person, especially with the
                                                            growing number of cable Internet con-
                                                            nections, where a lot of computers have
                                                            static IP addresses.
                                                                 Being open source, LiveJournal gives
                                                            you complete access to the code. Thus,
                                                            advanced bloggers can simply understand
                                                            the LiveJournal structure and take better
          LiveJournal is one of the most popular            control of their blogs. For example, you        Blogger is a simple, no-frills site, where you ca
          blogging sites, offering excellent features for   can override the stylesheet your blog uses      post your thoughts, opinions, ideas and
          amateur and seasoned bloggers                     by modifying the header information or          happenings of the day


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                           “
                                                                                    At          Blogroots
                                                                                (www.blogroots.com ), you
                                   Writing HTML,                                can easily create your
                                   uploading and man-                           own blogs and other
                                   aging archives for my                        users can reply to your
                                                                                posts. Blogroots keeps a
                                   Web site was tedious.                        track of news about the

           Mahesh Shantaram
                                   Blogging allows me                           Web logs. Here, you can
           AN INDEPENDENT
           WRITER , REGULARLY
                                   to concentrate on                            suggest a post by provid-
                                                                                ing its URL, title and a




                                                     ”
           UPDATES HIS BLOG AT     what I do best—think                         short description. You
                                   and write
           www.techrose.org
                                                                                will find a dense jungle      At Blogroots you can post your views and
                                                                                of information here, but      comments on articles posted on the Net unde
                                                                                this site is not quite like   three categories: News, Technology and
          many frills. You can simply sign up with           the traditional blogging sites. More of a        Culture
          the site and start blogging. When you cre-         collection of blogs and a discussion board,
          ate a blog, you can specify whether the            this service is not about personal diaries       in environments and vocation. Then
          blog is public or private. Next, you choose        online. This is great if you want to discuss     again, there are people across countrie
          whether you want to host the blog with             issues, but not if you want to share a part      that have similar interests and informa
          BlogSpot (www.blogspot.com), or FTP it to          of yourself with the world.                      tion needs. NASA researchers, for exam
          your own server. With the former, your                                                              ple, need the same information that spac
          blogs will be attached with advertisements,        Here to stay?                                    observatories in Australia and Russia do
          though you can pay to remove these. Final-         Are blogs a trend that will transform the        Bloggers typically read up news, journals
          ly, you choose the colour scheme for your          way people use the Internet or just a fad        discussions and blogs from variou
          blog and you’re done. All you have to do           that will run its due course and die quiet -     sources. If they find value in what the
          now is keep posting messages. The site puts        ly in some corner of the massive World           read, they may link to it from their blogs
          up fresh and noteworthy blogs right on the         Wide Web?                                        Thus, they are a filtering system for infor
          homepage, so you can browse through the                Today, everyone’s information needs          mation, and people with similar interest
          ones you find interesting.                         are quite different, dictated by differences     can further contribute to their research o
                                                                                                              benefit from their postings.

            Starting your First Blog                                                                               On the personal front, blogs are
                                                                                                              much more efficient way of lettin
           Let’s create a blog at LiveJournal, one of the    here, save your changes and you are done.        everyone keep in touch with your lif
           most popular blogging sites. If you want to           You may want to download the desktop         and staying in touch with others’. It’s
           blog for free, find someone who already has       software for uploading messages, or do it        also a great way to make new friend
           a blog there and ask him or her to invite         from the Web directly. Now you can keep          with the same interests, experiences o
           you. Your friend can create account creation      posting messages as you see fit.                 even expertise.
           codes, which you can use to get in. Once              If you want to use a different style for          However, the primary advantage o
           you enter the code, simply sign up with the       your journal, you can change the look and        blogging could turn out to be its own
           site and you can begin.                                                                            downfall—blogging is completely person
               LiveJournal will send you an authorisation                                                     al, so bloggers must update their blog
           e-mail, to make your blog live. You can now                                                        often enough for them to stay alive. Also
           edit your personal information, which helps                                                        the content on blogs determines their life
           people identify with you or find you based                                                         Good bloggers tend to develop bloggin
           on your interests. You can also enable or dis-                                                     as a discipline and take great pride in th
           able various security features for your blog on                                                    quality of their blogs. In fact, blogging i
           this page. With a new blog, when you are                                                           now giving rise to some professional blog
           just building your community, you may want                                                         gers. Andrew Sullivan (www.andrewsulli
           to display your e-mail address and instant                                                         van.com) makes as much as $6,000 (appro
           messenger details with your online profile.       Configure how your blog is used and by whom      Rs 3,00,000) every month from just dona
           Also, make sure your biography and interests                                                       tions from readers. The Poynter Institut
           are as descriptive, yet concise, as possible.     feel as and when you like by clicking Modify     (www.poynter.org), a journalism school
           You can even upload your photograph here.         Journal. You may not want to bother with         hired Jim Romenesko, an early blogger to
           If you already have a group of friends whom       the advanced options yet, until you’ve seen      produce      the    MediaNews       Weblog
           you want to share your journal with and can       the source code of LiveJournal from the          (www.poynter.org/medianews/), as early a
           do without additional people, you just need       Developers’ section.                             1999. These and many more examples go
           to build up your Friends list. Now choose             If you have restricted your blog only to     to show the value that people find in
           who can view your contact and personal            friends, remember to add other users from        blogs and bloggers. If nothing, its still
           information, who can reply to your posts          LiveJournal to your Friends list by clicking     great way to publish your mind on th
           and other content security options from           the Your Friends link.                           Internet.
                                                                                                                                              VEER KOTHAR



                    104                                                                                                                  DECEMBER
insight I
               I   quick start




                              Follow the Tune!
Y
       ou know the problem all too well—        MoodLogic and click on the ‘Activate’ but-     TagMaster, MoodLogic,
       all those years of sourcing MP3s         ton. The trial version allows you to acti-     MP3db v1.40
       from friends, the Internet and your      vate only 25 songs for free, beyond which      Find them on the
personal CD collection has left a mass of       you have to activate additional songs by       Mindware CD
music that is difficult to sort through. The    logging credits or by paying for it.
problem with MP3s is that most of them                                                        play it—you can easily customise a playlist
don’t use any particular system of classi-            Configuring MoodLogic                   to suit your mood by choosing songs from
fication as they are created from numer-              Navigate to the My Active Music         various artistes and albums. But Mood-
ous sources—you probably have songs             section from the main interface to find       Logic takes you one step further—you can
with their names misspelled, under              the 25 songs that MoodLogic has sorted        view your music based on a number of
wrong band or artiste names and they are        by genre, category, artiste, etc. Here you    parameters such as tempo, year of the track
probably placed in random folders on            can fix the ID3 tags and even the song        and even the mood of the particular piece.
your hard disk.                                 names for sorting the MP3s by clicking        So you can choose songs by tempo such as
    But take heart. With tools that help        on the ID3 & Files button at the bottom       romantic, party, relaxing, etc. You can also
you rename, organise and even categorise        of the interface. MoodLogic has a large       view them by genre.
your MP3 files, there is still hope of intro-   database of music on its Web site
ducing some sanity and organisation into        (www.moodlogic.com), which you can
your 8 GB music collection. Let’s take a        access to fix your MP3 track’s naming and
look at MoodLogic, one such tool that           ID3 information.
helps bring order to your MP3 chaos.

      Getting started
       MoodLogic incorporates a suite of
MP3 management tools that let you
organise, fix and playback your MP3s in
a more intuitive and orderly manner.
   You need to activate the MP3s on your                                                      Activated and recognised music shows up in
hard disk so that MoodLogic can recognise                                                     the My Active Music screen
them and process them further. Simply
select your songs from the song listing in                                                       Another very interesting feature is the
                                                                                              Instant MusicMix tool. This tool lets you
                                                                                              group songs that ‘sound’ like each other,
                                                                                              taking into account musical phrasing,



                                                Fix and format ID3 information using the
                                                ID3 & Files button

                                                   MoodLogic can even move the
                                                renamed songs into specific folders for
                                                each artiste. Once you hit the Fix All but-   Generate playlists of your favourite music by
                                                ton, you’ll have all your MP3 files organ-    sound, tempo, genre, etc
                                                ised, renamed and properly tagged. The
                                                time taken to complete this process is, of    tempo, etc. Finally, with MoodLogic you can
                                                course, dependant upon the number of          also transfer your MP3s to a portable MP3
                                                MP3 files you have on your hard disk.         player and refer to and categorise your music
                                                                                              from other sources such as CDs or Zip disks.
                                                     Let’s get rocked                            Now that you finally have command
The main interface of MoodLogic lets you            The real benefits of organising your      over all your MP3 files, play away!
activate songs                                  music come through when you want to                                          MARCO D ’SOUZA



           105                                                                                                              DECEMBER 2002
insight I
               I   troubleshooting




         From problems with Web cam drivers to AGP compatibility issues—find your answers here


XP incompatible Web cam                                                                         There are a few things you’ll need to
    I have a PC with a Pentium III 933                                                      do to enjoy the full benefits of your sound
MHz CPU and 256 MB RAM running two                                                          system. Once you’ve bought the 5.1 chan-
OSes—Windows Me and Windows XP.                                                             nel soundcard, in Windows XP, go to the
Now the problem is that Windows Me                                                          Control Panel > Sounds and Audio Devices .
runs my Web cam (D-Link’s DU-C300) but                                                      Click Advanced under Speaker Settings
XP doesn’t. Whenever I try to install it                                                    and set your speaker setup to 5.1 chan-
from the Scanner & Camera section in the                                                    nel. You will find extra settings in the
Control Panel, it gives a list of different                                                 Control Panel, depending on your sound-
brand names but D-Link is missing. When                                                     card, which will let you set up and test
I try to install it from the driver disk, a                                                 your speaker system. We’re using Windows
message appears saying, ‘The specified          Downloading Hotmail messages into your      XP as an example, since the closest options
location does not contain information           Outlook Inbox                                                            available   in
about your hardware’. What could be the                                                                                  Windows 98
cause of the problem?                           chances are you won’t be able to create                                  SE are Quadro-
Rajesh Iyer                                     a Hotmail account. To download your                                      phonic     and
Secunderbad                                     Hotmail messages, go to Tools > E-mail                                   Surround
                                                Accounts > Add a new account and click                                   Sound.     You
    It looks like your driver disk does not     Next. When asked which protocol to                                       will also have
contain the drivers for Windows XP.             use, select HTTP and click Next. Now                                     to ensure that
All you have to do is download the rele -       type your Hotmail login name for User                                    your MP3 and
vant drivers from http://www.dlink.co.in/       Name: and ensure that Hotmail is dis-                                    CD player sup-
dlink/Drivers/WindowsXP/dsbc100whitecase__XP_   played in the top right box. Click Next                                  port 5.1 out-
driver_b2.exe to get your Web cam up and        and then Finish. The next time you click    Set up your speaker system   put.     Check
running.                                        on Send/Receive, Outlook will download      to receive 5.1 channel      your      audio
                                                the mail from your Hotmail account.         sound                       player’s Web
Transferring Hotmail to Outlook                                                                                         site for any
    I want to know how to transfer              Dolby Digital from the soundcard            available plugins. However, since you
Hotmail messages to Microsoft Outlook               I have a discrete 4.1 channel speaker   have a 4.1 speaker system, you will miss
(not to Outlook Express). I have tried to       system. If I buy an AC-3 5.1 channel PCI    out on the centre channel. Fortunately,
configure Outlook but have not been suc -       soundcard, can I enjoy Dolby Surround       most applications such as software DVD
cessful. Please help me.                        Sound while playing Audio CDs and           players are able to send Dolby Digital
Preetinder Virk                                 MP3s? Will there be much difference         sound streams into your four-channel
Via e-mail                                      between a Dolby Pro-Logic Surround          speaker system.
                                                home audio system and my PC sound               As far as your second query is con-
   You can set up a Hotmail account             system?                                     cerned, Dolby Pro-Logic is far inferior to
only if you have Outlook 2002. If your          Sumanta                                     the Dolby Digital 5.1 channel system, so
version is earlier than 2002, then              Via e-mail                                  stick to the latter.


             106                                                                                                       DECEMBER 2002
Dial-up networking
    In the Quickstart section of Digit,           Buying a new computer                         ible, that is, it will be capable of run-
September 2002, you demonstrated how                  I’m contemplating buying a new P4-        ning older games. However, the latest
to connect to another computer through            based machine, primarily for entertain-       card is the latest only till a new game
a dial-up connection. Is it possible to con -     ment purposes. But after going through        pushes the graphics higher.
nect to a computer in another country             some comparisons, I have a few doubts:        2. Yes, any AGP card marked thus will
too? My husband wants to connect to my            1. Is it true that with a GeForce2, 3 or 4-   support both kinds of games and the
system in India and he is in the UAE. Will        based AGP card, I can play the latest as      newer the Direct3D/OpenGL version
the calls be charged by ISD rates? Please         well as older games?                                 supported, the better. The newest
let me know.                                      2. If an AGP card is marked                                         cards are DirectX 9
Abha                                              OpenGL/Direc-                                                       and OpenGL 1.3
Via e-mail                                        tX compatible,                                                      compatible.
                                                  does it mean                                                          3. The CD for -
    The Quickstart primarily dealt with           that it has both                                                        mats supported
connections established over a telephone          capabilities and                                                        by DVD drives
line and though connections can be                can play both                                                          vary according
established across the globe, one of you          types of games?                                                        to the manufac-
will have to call the other to establish          3. What types of                                                        turer, but gener -
them, inviting international call rates. An       CD formats are                                                           ally,       they
alternative is to set up a dedicated point-       supported by a                                                           support      CD-
to-point connection between your com-             DVD-ROM drive? Is it                                             ROM, CD-ROM XA,
puters, but the costs of such an operation        also capable of writ-                                           CD-R, CD-RW, Photo-
for home users is too prohibitive to even         ing CDs?                                                        CD, Video-CD, Multi-
discuss. So if you need to transfer files to      4. Is it true that in order to play             Session, CD TEXT and CD Extra. A
each other, the best solution is to use           games I must have the same type of RAM        DVD-ROM drive, as its name suggests, is
instant messengers such as MSN Messen-            for my processor and AGP card?                only able to read DVDs and CDs. DVD
ger (www.msn.com ) or Yahoo! Messenger            Vishal Arora                                  R/RW drives are able to write DVDs and
(www.yahoo.com ). The Windows XP Mes-             Delhi                                         CDs, but again, the exact formats sup-
senger gives you far greater control over a                                                     ported depend on the manufacturer
remote computer and the file transfer                 Let’s tackle your questions point by      and the model. Check the specifications
application is also very user-friendly.           point:                                        of the writer before you buy one.
                                                  1. Yes, you will be well equipped to play     4. The RAM types of your system and
Post removal hard disk problems                   new and old games with any of these           your AGP display controller have
    When I connect my 20 GB hard disk to          cards, particularly the GeForce4 Ti 4600      absolutely nothing to do with each
a friend’s PC, both our computers work            or the ATi Radeon 9700. Please note           other and do not affect one another in
fine. But after I disconnect my hard disk,        that any new card is backward compat-         any way.
my friend’s machine shows two CD drives,
one of which does not work. The system
also slows down a lot. Please give us a         facturer, you can go to www.motherboards.org    completely de-allocated until some other
solution for this.                              to identify the board type.                     program requests it. Check to see that too
Taral B. Khasiya                                                                                many programs aren’t loading themselves
Via e-mail                                      Problem with free memory                        during startup—ensure that your System
                                                   I have a 466 MHz Celeron CPU, Intel          Tray is not too filled with running pro-
    Unfortunately, you haven’t mentioned        815 motherboard, a 40 GB hard drive,            grams. To free up more RAM, remove
your system configuration, so based on          52x CD-ROM, 320 MB RAM and onboard              unnecessary programs from the Startup
your information, do the following.             graphics with 1 MB of shared memory.            program group in your Start menu. Any-
Reboot the PC and enter the BIOS by press-      When I run and then close a lot of pro -        way, as long as you don’t get any ‘Low vir-
ing [Del] or the appropriate key for your       grams, Windows’ System Monitor shows            tual      memory’      messages—which,
BIOS. In Standard CMOS Setup, set the           244 MB of RAM utilised. Is this reading         considering your RAM, is highly unlike-
drive type for all the IDE drives to Auto.      harmless or do I have to do something           ly—you have nothing to worry about.
Then go back to the main menu and enter         about it? Please help.
Integrated Peripherals. Change the PIO          Raviteja                                        Virus problems
and UDMA modes to Auto. Now save your           Via e-mail                                           I have two computers running
settings and reboot. It’s also a good idea to                                                   Windows 98, which are connected to
examine the IDE cables to see if they’re           Since you have 320 MB of memory, you         each other through a LAN card. The main
properly connected. The long end should         should not have any problems with low           computer      is   plagued    with      the
go to the motherboard, while the two con-       resources for most applications. The rea -      Win32.Worm.datom virus and gives the
nections close by on the other end go to        son why System Monitor shows this high          following error messages: ‘Cannot find file
the devices. Finally, download the latest       reading is because it probably takes some       MSVXD.EXE. Could not load or run
drivers for your motherboard’s chipset. If      time to refresh its information or because      MSVXD.EXE specified in the WIN.INI file.’
you don’t know the motherboard’s manu-          the memory used by these programs is not        Is there any software to remove this virus?


             107                                                                                                            DECEMBER 2002
insight I
               I   troubleshooting

                                                                                               selection. Go to Start > Settings > Control
  Unstable motherboard                          PC, call a service technician to exam-         Panel and double-click on Regional Set-
       When I turn my PC on, it boots per-      ine your processor to see if the               tings. Make sure that the language list-
  fectly, but it goes blank after 20-25 min -   heatsink is properly seated on the CPU         ed here is English (United States). If the
  utes. The LED on the monitor flickers                                and that the cool-      problem still persists, reinstall the fonts
  on and off too. When I switch on                                   ing fans are operat-      in your system from another Windows
  the power switch on the LED,                                       ing correctly. Your       98 computer. If all else fails, the best
  the monitor goes on and off                                         CPU fan may be           (but most time-consuming) solution
  nearly 10-12 times                                                   blocked by a wire       would be to re-install Windows 98 on
  before it boots.                                                     or might have           your computer. This will restore the
  Why does this hap-                                                   accumulated             required fonts, as well as other system
  pen?                                                                dust; or your cabi-      settings that might have been corrupted
  Vaishali                                                            net might not be         due to a malfunction.
  Via e-mail                                                            able to ventilate
                                                                         and air the sys-      Hidden free space
      Your problem                                                      tem     enough.             I have a Pentium III 700 MHz CPU with
  seems to be possi-                                                     Also, observe if      196 MB RAM and 20 GB hard drive running
  bly heat-related.                                                    certain actions         Windows Me. The hard disk has six parti-
  It’s possible that ILLUSTRATIONS: Mahesh Benkar                  trigger the crash.          tions, allotting the C: drive with 2,532 MB.
  the CPU or the                                This should help you pinpoint the              I have a tough time formatting and rein-
  motherboard chipset is generating too         cause of the problem. Also, enter the          stalling Windows Me at least once a month.
  much heat for the system to handle,           system’s BIOS during power-up by               I have set the swap space manually to 196
  resulting in the crash. In case you           pressing [Del] and select the Load Fail-       MB. The problem is that the C: drive gets
  aren’t comfortable with opening your          safe Defaults option.                          filled up and a message appears saying,
                                                                                               ‘Warning: Low disk space. Would you like to
                                                                                               uninstall any programs to free up disk
Another virus called BKDR_NEWBIERO has         the Windows directory. Delete all refer-        space?’ But since I did not install any appli-
infected a file in my C:\WINDOWS\SYS-          ences to these files in the ‘load=’ and         cations on the C: partition, uninstalling pro-
TEM\LVMGI.EXE on the other computer.           ‘run=’ lines (the second and third line) in     grams from other partitions would not
Shaikh Mohammad Wasi                           the file. Save the file and close it. Alter-    make any difference. The strange thing is,
Via e-mail                                     natively, download a free removal tool          when I select all the files and folders of C:, it
                                               from       http://www.bitdefender.com/down-     shows 1.14 GB and a free space of less than
   Viruses can be removed automatically        load/download.php?file=AntiDatom.exe.           100 MB. Nearly 1 GB of disk space is miss-
by most anti-virus software with updated          To remove the BKDR_NEWBIERO, a               ing! How do I retrieve this disk space?
                                               Trojan, open regedit and go to the key          Where is this 1 GB of space?
                                               HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Micros               Vyjesh
                                               oft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run. In              Via e-mail
                                               the right panel, search for the registry key
                                               that contains the registry data value               There are several reasons why the disk
                                               ‘Microsoft Diagnostic=”%Windows%\               space might be reported incorrectly. Fore-
                                               [random filename].exe’ and delete it.           most among them is the possibility of an
                                               Close regedit and restart your PC.              error in the filesystem, which results in
                                                                                               incorrect reporting of disk usage. Run Scan-
                                               Font despair                                    disk from Start > Programs > Accessories > Sys -
                                                    When I tried to install Norton AntiVirus   tem Tools > Scandisk and choose the
                                               2002 on my computer (based on a P-III           Thorough option. Scan all your partitions
The ‘load=’ and ‘run=’ lines should be empty   933 MHz CPU, 256 MB RAM, 40 GB hard             for errors. If that doesn’t throw up any-
                                               drive running Windows 98 SE), the setup         thing, check your disk’s actual allocated size
virus definitions such as Norton AntiVirus     initialisation box showed some square           and available space. To do this double click
and McAfee. To remove them manually,           boxes instead of English letters and I could-   on My Computer and then right-click on
do the following: For Win32.Worm.              n’t complete the installation. I also could     C:. Check the capacity and ensure that it is
datom, restart Windows in Safe Mode by         not install Office 2000. I find these square    actually 2,532 MB and see how much of it
pressing [F5] during boot-up. Now to           boxes in some other applications too, for       is being used. Click on Disk Cleanup to
eliminate the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE               instance, in the left pane of the help win-     start the wizard and remove unwanted files
\Software\Micr-osoft\CurrentVersion\           dow of Outlook Express 5.0. Please tell me      from your computer. Finally, consider mov-
Run\MSVXD registry entry, go to Start >        how to get rid of this problem.                 ing your permanent swap file to another
Run and type regedit . Then press              Kamal Kishore                                   partition to free up space on the C drive.
[Enter]. Delete all the MSVXD.EXE,             Via e-mail
MSVXD16.DLL and MSVXD32.DLL files                                                              Backing up virus definitions
in the Windows\System folder. Finally,            The problem could lie with missing              I run Windows 98 SE on a PC with a
using Notepad, open the win.ini file in        system fonts or the system language             Pentium III processor and 192 MB of RAM.


             108                                                                                                              DECEMBER 2002
                                        FAQs                                                   I use Norton AntiVirus 2000 for protec-
                                                                                               tion. I update the virus definitions every
                                                                                               month and as a result, I have updated 13
Unable to search in Windows XP                  virtual memory management to ‘System           times in the last 13 months. Recently, I
    I have a Celeron 1 GHz with an Intel        managed size’—if this option was already       upgraded my hard drive from 20 GB to 40
810-based motherboard and a 40 GB               chosen, then it means that you’re low on       GB. So now I have to transfer all my data
hard drive running Windows XP and               hard disk space. You’ll need to restart your   to this drive and install a clean copy of
Windows Me. When I run the Search                                                              Windows 98. How do I back up my virus
function from Windows XP, it gives an                                                          definitions so that I don’t have to update
error saying, ‘A file that is required to run                                                  them again?
Search Companion cannot be found. You                                                          Namrata
may need to run setup.’ The search win-                                                        Via e-mail
dow appears, but there are no fields in
the pane on the left. When I click on the                                                          Updates of Norton AntiVirus include
character, it keeps repeating the same                                                         virus definition updates as well as updates
action—even right-clicking on it has no                                                        to the scanning engine. Although you
effect. Please help me.                                                                        won’t be able to carry over your engine
Chandru                                                                                        upgrades, transferring the virus definitions
Via e-mail                                                                                     is a simple task. You can find these defini-
                                                                                               tions in the C:\Program Files\Common
    This is a documented error that hap-                                                       Files\Symantec Shared\VirusDefs folder.
pens with some installations of Windows                                                        Just copy this folder and paste it in the
XP—download the patch for it from                                                              same location in the new installation.
http://www.microsoft.com/Downloads/Release.as
p?ReleaseID=39318. After downloading, fol-      ‘System managed size’ suits most users         Compatible AGP slot
low the on-screen instructions.                                                                    I recently bought an MSI 845E
                                                computer for the changes to take effect.       MAX2-BLR MS-6398E motherboard. I
Flickering screen and low virtual               Note the drive in which the swap file          intend to buy a GeForce4 graphics card.
memory                                          resides and free up at least 250 MB in that    In the motherboard manual, it says ‘AGP
    I have a Pentium 4 1.6 GHz processor,       drive by deleting unnecessary files.           4x slot (1.5V only)’. Will I be able to use
Intel 850 MV motherboard with 128 MB                                                           the GeForce4 GPU on my motherboard?
RDRAM and a 17-inch monitor that flick-         Restoring file associations                    Is there any way I can increase the 4x to
ers around the edges. Also, very light             My PC has MS Office, therefore MS           anything higher for future use? How
curves appear on the display when I set         Photo Editor is installed with it. Hence, I    long can I use 4x to play the latest
no wallpaper. I normally work in                cannot open JPG and GIF files in Internet      games?
Windows XP. What can I do to solve this         Explorer. How do I uninstall it?               Leejo
problem? Another problem is that after          Samar                                          Via e-mail
playing Duke Nukem, when I exit, some-          Via e-mail
times an icon appears in the system tray                                                           To answer your second question first,
showing the message, ‘Your system is low            Rather than uninstalling Photo Edi -       you cannot upgrade your AGP slot’s
on virtual memory.’ I had the same prob-        tor, which is rather an awkward process        capabilities as this will involve changes in
lem with Real Player until I uninstalled it.    requiring you to re-run the Office instal-     the circuit and power requirements. How-
What can I do to solve this problem?            lation, you can restore file associations      ever, you have no cause for concern as
Yash                                            back to Internet Explorer. To do this,         your motherboard will support even ATi’s
Via e-mail                                      locate the JPG or GIF file you want to         Radeon 9700 and other new graphics
                                                open. Click on it to select the file and       cards. Regarding the relevance of 4x, as
    To solve your first problem go to           then, while pressing [Shift], right-click      the latest cards have just begun to sup-
Desktop > Properties > Settings > Advanced .    on it. In the popup menu, choose ‘Open         port the 8x mode, rest assured that you
Go to the Monitor tab and set the               with…’ You will then be presented with         can use your board for quite some time
Refresh Rate to 75 Hz or more. You              a list of applications that can be used to     to come. Your 4x AGP interface has
could set a higher refresh rate but make        open the file. Scroll down until you see       enough bandwidth to run the present
sure your monitor supports it.                  the entry ‘iexplore’. Select it and make       crop of games, giving you no reason to
    Your second problem lies with the           sure that the checkbox titled ‘Always use      fret for a while.
operating system’s virtual memory set-          this program to open this type of file’ is
tings. A permanent solution would be to         checked. Click OK and the setting will
                                                                                                                Send your computing
upgrade your memory to 256 MB. Anoth-           be finalised. Repeat this procedure for
                                                                                                                problems to
er solution would be to go to Control Panel     all the other file types that you wish to
                                                                                                                sos@jasubhai.com
> System > Advanced > Performance and click     open with Internet Explorer. The proce-
                                                                                                             or write to Digit,
on Settings. Click Advanced in the new          dure is approximately the same with all
                                                                                                D-222/2, Om Sagar, MIDC, Nerul-400
window and go to Change. Here set you           versions of Windows.                            706, and we may answer it here!



         109                                                                                                              DECEMBER 2002
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                       Add pizzazz to your images
                            using Photoshop                      contents
                                                                 90   Increasing productiv
                                                                 91   Image editing
                                                                 92   Text effects
                                Photoshop 7 trial                93   Working with layers
                                version                          94   Web graphics
                                Find it on the                   94   Filters
                                Mindware CD                      94   Special effects


              ILLUSTRATIONS :   Mahesh Benkar




                          111                                              DECEMBER 2
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             insight I
                            I            tricks
                                tips and tricks

                   INCREASING PRODUCTIVITY                                           Preview pane: In the                size options such as Small,
                                                                                     Preview pane, you can view          Medium, Large, Large with
                 Manage multiple images and avoid repetitive                         a larger image of the selected      Rank and Detail. The Large
                             tasks through simple actions                            thumbnail.                          with Rank displays a large
                                                                                     Metadata pane: The                  thumbnail along with the
                 Gamma correction               together and edit them. To           Metadata pane provides the          image’s rank while Detail
             Often what you see on              tile the images, open all the        user with detailed informa-         provides information about
             screen does not match what         images you require and then          tion about the current selec-       each image shown such as
             you get in print. The gamma        select Window > Documents >          tion such as the image              file name, date created and
             correction setting calibrates      Tile from the menu in Pho -          filename, date when creat-          modified, copyright, file
             your monitor so that it            toshop 7 (Windows > Tile in          ed, image format, along             format, colour mode, image
             remains in synchronisation                                                      with any additional         size (in pixels), file size, and
             with your printer and your                                                      information entered         rank.
             scanner. Under Windows > Set -                                                  in the File Info dialog         The Rank By and Sort By
             tings > Control Panel, select the                                               box. It even displays       menus help to create a rank
             option Adobe Gamma and                                                          EXIF (Exchangeable          for your images, such as
             the wizard will guide you                                                       Image File) data (that      proof or final, and sort your
             further. Choose the step-by-                                                    is, information about       images according to their
             step wizard option and then                                                     images created with a       stage of completion.
             proceed accordingly.                                                            digital camera), if it’s        The File Browser lets you
                                                                                             available.                  sort images by file name,
                 Changing scratch disk          Working with multiple images is easy         Thumbnail pane:             file width and height, file
             Scratch disk refers to the loca-                                                The Thumbnail pane          size, file type, resolution,
             tion on your hard disk where       Photoshop 6). The images             displays thumbnails by size,        colour profile, date created,
             the data is stored while you       get arranged in tile format—         rank and text detail. They          date modified, and copy
             are working in Photoshop.          you can toggle between               can be viewed with different        right.
             This will be a lifesaver when      them using [Ctrl] + [Tab]
             you are running out of disk        and edit the images.
                                                                                        Actions Speak Louder than Clicks
     90      space in the current drive. Go
             to Edit > Preferences > Plug-Ins &     Managing your images              Here’s how you can use the         Load Actions. Now locate
             Scratch disks and under First,     (Photoshop 7)                         Actions feature to save time       your action and click OK. The
                                                Within the File Browser               and effort:                        action will now appear in the
                                                menu, you can open, select,           I To open and save multiple        Actions palette under its own
                                                name, rotate and view                 files of the same size, resolu-    section from where you can
                                                images. You can even man -            tion and mode in one step.         run it.
                                                age your files and folders—           I If there is a folder of images   I When you create actions,

                                                create, rename or delete              that you need to convert to        Photoshop runs them so
                                                them. You can rename mul -            Web graphics and if the            quickly that you would gener
                                                tiple files using the Batch           images are somewhat similar,       ally not be able to track a
             The scratch disk dialog box        Rename feature or even                then don’t do it individually—     missing or wrong step. To
                                                rotate one or multiple images         choose Actions.                    slow down or even put a
             fill in the path where you         with the Rotate feature.              I If you downloaded an             pause between each step,
             would primarily want all your          The File Browser displays         action from the Web but Pho-       choose to play your action
             data. Under Second, Third          four panes: Tree, Preview,            toshop doesn’t seem to             Step by Step in the Playback
             and Fourth, fill accordingly.      Metadata and Thumbnail.               recognise it, then first make      Options dialog box in the
                                                Tree pane: The Tree pane              sure that the action has the       Actions palette’s drop down
                 Working with multiple          shows the files, folders and          file extension .atn. Then go to    menu. As an alternative, enter
             images                             drives of your system, mak-           the Actions palette and from       the number of seconds for
             The Tile feature allows you        ing it easy to navigate and           the drop down menu, choose         which you’d like it to pause.
             to view a number of images         locate images.




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                                     IMAGE EDITING
                                                                                                                                    Patch it u
                    Crop them, skew them, play with them. Give                                                                      When working wi
                           your images the perfect look                                                                     the Patch tool, you need n
                                                                                                                            make your initial selection
                    Image modes: RGB,                  Removing noise from                                                  with this tool. Instead, sel
                  CMYK, Duotone, Tritone             digital camera images                                                  it with any selection tool a
                  Before you begin editing an        Images taken from a digital         A low resolution image             drag the selection with th
                  image, save it in the correct      camera show noise when                                                 Patch tool to the portion
                  mode, else it won’t show accu-     opened in Photoshop, usually                                           the image from which yo
                  rate colours. If you are going     in the Blue channel. To correct                                        want to clone, and then
                  to use the image on the Web,       this, go to the Channels                                               release your mouse butto
                  save it in RGB mode; for print,    palette and make the Blue
                  save it in CMYK. You can also      channel active. Now click
                  save the image as Duotone          Gaussian Blur (Filter > Blur) and                                       Creating gradients f
                  (two colours) or Tritone (three    add a slight blur to the                                              photos
                  colours)—these modes impart        image—start with 0.5 and            The low resolution image after    Seen a nice combinati
                  interesting effects to an image.   increase the blur by using the      brightening and sharpening        background somewhere?
                  If you want to use an image        Up Arrow key. When the noise                                          neat little trick will show
                  for the Web as well as for         has pretty much disappeared,        Layer > Flatten Image and see     how you can use it in
                  print, make sure that you have     click on the RGB composite          the difference between the        own creation. Open the im
                  two copies, one RGB and the        channel and continue with           new and the original image!       and select the Gradient
                  other CMYK.                        the regular image correction.                                         In the Gradient Options
                                                                                           Working with the Heal -         click on the Gradient sam
                    Perspective in cropped              Fixing stray pixels              ing Brush and Patch tool          to bring up the Gradient
                  images                             Many a times when we use            With the old Rubber Stamp         tor. Click on the first C
                  The Cropping tool offers a         Magic Wand or Color Range,          tool, you can clone pixels        Stop button on the left o
                  wide range of options. For         Photoshop leaves some stray         from a sampled area and           Gradient bar. Now move
                  instance, you can skew the         pixels unselected. To select        apply them to an area need -      cursor outside the Grad
                  cropped image by selecting         these, under Select > Modify >      ing correction. However, it       Editor, onto your image
                  Perspective in the Options bar.    Smooth, enter a sample radius       does not take care of the         click on the first colour
                  You can even resize the            of 1 pixel and click OK.            shadows and highlights of
                  cropped image by expanding                                             the flawed area. The new
                  the cropping edges beyond the         Making a dull image              Healing Brush tool in Photo -
                                                     brighter and sharper                shop 7 clones by using the
                                                     Need to make a low-resolu-          texture from the sampled
                                                     tion image sharper and              area and then using the
                                                     brighter? Duplicate the layer       colours around the brush
                                                     which has your image and            stroke as you paint over the
                                                     under the Filter menu,              flaw. You can sample and          The original photograph
                                                     choose Filter > Other > High        heal between two images but
                                                     Pass. In the example shown          you need to make sure they
                  The Perspective option lets you    here, the radius is set to 2        are in the same mode.
                  skew cropped images                (choose the radius according            The Patch tool is similar
                                                     to the resolution of the            to the Healing Brush but
                  image size. Use the [Alt] key to   image). Now in the Layer’s          instead of painting with brush
                  maintain the centre and the        palette, choose the Hard            strokes, you select the flawed
                  borders when you click and         Light option under Blend            area and apply the patch to it.
                  drag the mouse. Use [Shift] to     Modes. You could further            It can be useful for selecting    The gradient created from t
                  maintain the proportions.          flatten the image by choosing       larger flawed areas.              photograph




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             insight I
                            I   tips and tricks

             you want in your gradient.          erases back to how the            mouse away from the text, it
             Your Color Stop will take on        image looked originally.          changes into the Move tool.
             this colour. Add another                                              You can now move the Type
             Color Stop by clicking just to        Changing colour and             in the Edit mode too. The
             the right of your first stop        luminosity effects                moment you bring the
             under the Gradient bar.             Open your RGB image and           mouse nearer to the text, the
             Again, move outside the             make a copy of it. Now press      cursor blinks again and you
             Gradient Editor into your                                             can edit the text again.               Get your curve to look like this
             image and sample the next
             colour. Keep adding stops                                                You [Enter] only once
             and sampling colours until                                            In the edit mode, when you
             you have the required gradi-                                          press [Enter], the cursor goes
             ent effect. Give the gradient                                         to a new line. When you fin-
             a name in the Name field                                              ish editing, press [Enter] on
             and click on the New button                                           the Numeric keypad. This
             to add this to the Gradient         You can                           will finish the editing task
             picker so that you can access       add cool                          and the cursor will turn into          ‘Steel’ made of metal and chrome
             it easily.                          effects by                        a Move tool.
                                                 changing                                                                 Go on to the Channels
                Erasing back to your             the image                           Metal and chrome                     palette and click on Alpha 1.
             original image                      luminosity                        effect                                 Next, under Filter > Blur >
             When editing an image, to                                             Open a new document in                 Gaussian Blur, enter 1 pixel.
             revert to an earlier stage,         [Ctrl] + [I] to invert your       RGB mode and type in Steel .           Select the background layer
             select the Eraser tool              image in the new layer. Go to     Hold down the [Ctrl] key and           and under Filter > Render >
             (instead of File > Revert ,         the Layers palette and change     click on your Type layer in            Lightning Effects, go to Texture
             which will revert to the orig -     the blend mode from Normal        the Layers palette to put a            Channel and choose Alpha
             inal image). Press down [Alt]       to Difference in the inverted     selection around your text.            1; click OK.
             and start erasing the areas         layer mode. Now make a copy       Now under the Select menu,                  Now press [Ctrl] + [A],

     92      you don’t want to keep.
             Usually the Eraser tool eras -
                                                 of the original background
                                                 layer and place it above the
                                                                                   choose Save Selection. Press
                                                                                   [Ctrl] + [D] to deselect and
                                                                                                                          [Shift] + [Ctrl] + [J] to put this
                                                                                                                          entire image on its own layer.
             es the image, but when you          inverted layer. Finally, change   then delete the Type Layer.                 Under Image > Adjust
             hold down the [Alt] key, it         the layer blend mode from                                                ments, choose Curves, create a
             acts like a history eraser and      Normal to Luminosity.                                                    curve like the one shown
                                                                                                                          above, by clicking on the
                                                                                                                          lower left hand side of the
                                 TEXT EFFECTS                                                                             curve       and         dragging
                Some shortcuts and effects that will make                                                                 upwards. Release the mouse
                                                                                                                          button and then click on the
                          your text stand out
                                                                                                                          right hand side and drag
                Kerning text                     the leading changes by 10         This is the text without the effect    down to give it a chrome
             The kerning effect is used to       points. To increase or decrease                                          effect. Once you get a curve
             crunch or expand words while        the font size, press [Shift] +                                           similar to the one in the fig
             retaining     even      spacing     [Ctrl] + [>] or [<].                                                     ure, click OK. Now choose
             between letters. Just select the                                                                             Load Selection from the
             word you want to kern and            Moving Type in Edit                                                     Select menu. Make sure
             press [Ctrl] + [Alt] + left/right   mode                                                                     Alpha 1 is selected under the
             arrow. This will increase or        Haven’t you always wished                                                Channel popup. From the
             decrease the spacing by 100         to be able to move the text to                                           Select menu, choose Modify >
             points. On pressing the [Ctrl]      its proper position while you     The Lightning Effects dialog box       Expand. Here you need to
             + [Alt] + up/down arrow key,        edit? As soon as you take the     with the angle setting for the light   evaluate how many pixels to




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                  put in so that it will select all   deselect. Add a soft drop            Applying the same style         Bevel and Emboss to a la
                  of the text. We’ve put in 3         shadow by choosing Drop            across layers                     everything you do on
                  pixels as the value. Press          Shadow from the Layer              You have a style which you        layer will have this e
                  [Shift] + [Ctrl] + [I] and press    Style. That completes the          want to apply to all the layers   applied to it. If you wan
                  [Delete]. Press [Ctrl] + [D] to     metallic effect.                   but the thought of doing the      avoid this, create a
                                                                                         tedious action is bugging         blank layer by clicking
                            WORKING WITH LAYERS                                          you? Simply link all the lay-     the New Layer icon,
                                                                                         ers to which you want to          drag this new layer ben
                             Managing layers more efficiently
                                                                                         apply the same style. Then        your Bevel and Emboss la
                    Grouping: an excellent            previous    or   next    Blend     under the Layer menu, go to       Click on your Bevel
                  bridge                              mode.                              Layer Style and choose Copy       Emboss layer and press [
                  Grouping layers essentially lets                                       Layer Style. Go back to the       + [E] to merge it with
                  you move one object within            Organising related layers        Layer menu and choose Paste       blank layer directly ben
                  another. Press [Alt] and in the     If you need to work on sever-      Layer Style to Linked, and        it. This will remove
                  Layers palette, click between       al layers simultaneously, you      your copied style(s) will         active effect from the l
                                                      can keep them in sync by           instantly be applied to all the   so it no longer appl
                                                      clicking the ‘Create a new set’    linked layers.                    Bevel and Emboss to
                                                      button in the Layers palatte                                         new things on that laye
                                                      and dragging and dropping            Selecting a letter after
                                                      the related layers in Set Layer.   the Type layer has been              Creating your own
                                                      Else, you can link the layers—     rasterised                        styles
                                                      hold down the [Alt] key and        To do this, just make a loose     If you have created that
                                                      from the Layer palette’s drop-     selection using the Lasso         terpiece of art and wan
                  The two objects before grouping     down menu, choose New Set          tool around the letter. Hold      use it in your future proj
                                                      From Linked.                       down the [Ctrl] key and           you can do so by saving
                                                           You can also keep related     press the Up Arrow key once       a Style.
                                                      data in a more accessible for-                                            Open the Layer Style
                                                      mat by pressing [Alt] and                                            log box (double-click on
                                                      double-clicking on the layer.
                                                      In the Layer Properties dialog
                                                      box, choose a colour and
                                                      click OK. This will colour the
                  The two objects after grouping      left side of that layer in the
                                                      Layers palette and make it         The selected letter can be
                  the layers you want to group.       easier for visual identifica -     tweaked as required
                  In the figure, first and second     tion. Apply the same colour
                  layer are shown individually        to all related layers.             and then the Down Arrow           Using your own styles as an
                  and after grouping.                                                    key once. The letter will be      when you want
                                                        Moving multiple layers           selected without disturbing
                    Rotate through the                between documents                  anything else on the layer.       effect on that layer in
                  Blend modes                         To move more than one layer        Now you can play with this        Layers palette) and clic
                  It is a test of your patience       at a time from one document        letter as it is now a ‘floating   the New Style button. A
                  when you try to get the right       to another, link your layers       selection’.                       Style dialog box will ap
                  effects in the layer Blend          and make sure you drag your                                          where you can name
                  modes because you have to           layer from within the docu -          Preventing Layer styles        style. To apply this styl
                  go back to the Blend mode           ment itself rather than drag-      from affecting your new           to the Window menu
                  drop down menu every                ging from the Layers palette. If   work                              choose Show Styles.
                  time. There’s a simpler way         you drag it from the Layers        Layer styles apply to all the     style you just created
                  to do this: simply press            palette, you can only get one      elements in the layer. For        appear as the last style in
                  [Shift] + [–] or [+] to go to the   layer at a time.                   example, if you apply a           palette.




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             insight I
                           I   tips and tricks

                               WEB GRAPHICS
              Smart ways to get sharp, yet small images for                             Portable Network Graphics (PNG)
                            use on the Web                                        PNG was originally designed       they contain more colours and
              Reducing file size for           Web and slice it too by using      to replace the popular Gif for-   don’t compress like JPEG. The
             Web images                        layer-based slices. If you cre -   mat. It supports 24 and 48 bit    biggest disadvantage is that
             To save images for the Web,       ate a layer-based slice, when      images, while gif supports only   they are not supported entirely
             preferably save them as           you move the layer, Photo -        8 bit. PNG also supports RGB,     by the browser world. Though
             transparent images so that        shop will automatically            Grayscale and Indexed colour      they are natively supported by
             they take up less space. Go to    adjust all the slices to accom-    image modes as well as vary-      Microsoft Internet Explorer
             the Layers palette and simply     modate your move and it            ing levels of transparency, for   and Netscape Navigator, their
             delete the Background layer.      will also create a new slice       example, soft drop shadows,       32–bit RGB transparency is not
             This leaves only transparent      layer for your layer. From the     which are not supported by        supported by Windows Inter
             layers above it. Now when         Layer menu, choose New             GIF and JPEG. The downside is     net Explorer. So they are ideal
             you click on Save for web,        Layer Based Slice in case of       that in PNG files, the colour     ly suited only for small images
             the checkbox for Trans-           changes in the layer. Also, if     images are often larger than in   such as buttons and thumb
             parency is no longer grayed       you let Photoshop do the           GIF or JPEG images because        nails with details.
             out.                              slicing, you don’t have to
                                               drag out slices—Photoshop
               Clean Type for the Web          does the slicing exactly at        the selection border gets         for mobile devices such as
             For use on the Web, a type        the size of your layer.            annoying, press [Ctrl] + [H].     cell phones and PDAs. This
             size below 12 points                   The new Slice options in      By doing this, your selection     format supports only 1-bit
             becomes blurry. To maintain       Photoshop 7 allow you to           remains but the marching          colour, that is, either the
             the visibility, do not reduce     link and unlink your slices.       ants disappear. This com-         pixel is black or white. You
             the type size further. Instead,   Linking the slices allows          mand is known as ‘Show            can use masks from Type lay
             increase the positive tracking    them to share the same             Extras’.                          ers, Shape layers and alpha
             and try to keep the tracking      colour palette and dithering                                         channels to vary the Dither
             anywhere between 20 to 50         options, which prevents vis -        Using the WBMP                  percentage across an image.

     94      points. This will not only
             keep the size small, but will
                                               ible seams that occur
                                               between the lines due to
                                                                                  format
                                                                                  Photoshop 7 supports a new
                                                                                                                    This technique produces
                                                                                                                    higher-quality results in crit
             also maintain the visibility      changes.                           file format called WBMP.          ical image areas without sac
             of the type.                                                         This is designed specifically     rificing file size.
                                                 Get rid of those annoy -
               Trim for the Web                ing marching ants
             Another way to keep file          There are times when the                                    FILTERS
             sizes small is to use the Trim    selected portion in an image
                                                                                    Filters can give you some amazing effects,
             function from the Image           shows annoying lines called
             menu. It will crop your Web       selection border, popularly        provided you know how to use them correctly
             graphic as tightly as possible    known as ‘marching ants’. If          Straighten those
             for the smallest possible file                                       jagged Lasso tool selec-
             size. It does this by looking                                        tions
             at the pixel colour in the                                           Can a Lasso tool give a
             upper left hand corner of                                            smooth selection? Draw the
             your image and it keeps                                              area you want to use as your
             cropping down until it hits                                          selection and press [q] to        Getting smooth selection edges
             another colour.                                                      enter Quick Mask mode
                                                                                  (your selection will now be       you raise the radius of the
               Layer-based slices              The selection still remains even   surrounded by solid pink).        Median filter, the edges
             Photoshop can automatical-        after removing the selection       From the Filter menu, under       smoothen out. When you
             ly flatten your image for the     border                             Noise, choose Median. As          find it satisfactory, press [q]




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                   again to return to Standard      a copy of your existing             maker, highlight the portion        hold 20 patterns in its h
                   mode.                            light.                              of the image you want to use        ry, so you can always
                                                                                        in the pattern and click on         back and play around
                     Placing lens flares              Extract and Liquify               the Generate button. A ran -        the controls. You can
                   The location of the lens         commands in Photoshop 7             dom pattern is made from            trol the size and layou
                   flare centre can be con-         In Photoshop 7, the Extract         your selection, which will be       the pattern tiles too. Fin
                   trolled precisely. Go to the     and Liquify commands                tiled to cover the whole can-       when you get the patter
                   Info palette and click on the    have been shifted from the          vas. If you don’t like the          your choice, click the
                   cross hair in the lower left     Image menu to the Filter            result, simply generate it          icon to save it as a pat
                   hand side of the palette. In                                         again. Pattern Maker can            preset.
                   the screen for measurement
                   values, insert values in pix -                                                        SPECIAL EFFECTS
                   els or inches. Place your
                                                                                                  Make your design work stand out
                   cursor over the exact spot
                   where you want the lens                                                                 in the crowd
                   flare to appear. If you look                                           Creating a motion
                   in the Info palette, you will                                        effect
                   see the exact position in        The Liquify filter in Photoshop 7   This is a simple example to
                   inches. Note this value and      has many options                    show the motion effect of a
                   go to the Lens Flare dialog                                          moving vehicle. As shown
                   box; press [Alt] and click       menu.     The     enhanced          in the image, select one
                   in the Lens Flare preview        Liquify filter gives you            wheel with the help of the
                   window.                          greater control over image          Elliptical Marquee tool. Press      The effect seen on the imag
                       In the Precise Flare Cen -   warping with zoom, pan              [Shift] to get a circular selec -   after moving the image in t
                   ter dialog box, enter the X      and multiple undo. You can          tion. From the Filter menu,         opposite direction and reduc
                   and Y coordinates that you       also save your meshes,              choose Blur > Radial Blur and       the opacity to 50%
                   have noted. Click OK and         which lets you return to an         enter the number of pixels
                   you will see the lens flare      image after experimenting           as 50 (select the pixels
                   right where you wanted it.       with the Liquify tools and          according to the file size).
                                                    start where you left off. You       Now repeat this process with
                     Working with the               can even apply the same             the other wheel. Next, select
                   Lightning Effect filter          mesh to different images or         the car using the Polygonal
                   Here are a few things you        experiment on a low-resolu -        Lasso tool and use Filters >
                   must remember when using         tion image before applying          Blur > Motion Blur with a value
                   this filter.                     the mesh to a high-resolu -         of 50 pixels. Copy and paste        The car in rapid motion
                   I Press [Tab] to jump from       tion version. Create effects        this layer by using [Ctrl] +
                   one light to another.            such as smoke or fire with          [C] and [Ctrl] + [V]. Select        motion. Reduce the opa
                   I You can create your own        the new Turbulence brush.           the Move tool and move the          to 50 per cent. Make a c
                   styles (presets) by configur -   You can also use the new            replicated image in the             of this layer and drag
                   ing the Lightning Effects        backdrop option to view             direction opposite to the           image further behind in
                   and clicking on the Save         individual layers or a flat-                                            opposite direction
                   button at the top of the dia -   tened version of the file so                                            reduce the opacity to 25
                   log box, just below Style.       that you can see your dis-                                              cent.
                   I To delete a light, simply      tortions in context as you
                   click on it and press [Back -    create them.                                                               Reflection in water
                   space].                              The Pattern Maker has                                               effect
                   I To add another light, click    been introduced in version                                              Here is a special effect
                   and drag the Light icon into     7, which is also located                                                will create the reflectio
                   the preview, or hold the         under the Filter menu. In           Radial selection of the wheel in    water effect for an ob
                   [Alt] key and click and drag     order to use the Pattern            the image of a stationary car       Take the Lasso tool




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             insight I
                            I     tips and tricks

             select the objects in the
             image. Copy and paste the
                                                                                                      Must-know Shortcuts
                                                                                     Fill selection with foreground colour . . . . . . . . .[Alt] + [Backspace]
             selection using [Ctrl] + [C]
                                                                                     Fill selection with background colour . . . . . . .[Ctrl] + [Backspace]
             and [Ctrl] + [V]—this cre -
                                                                                     Display Fill dialog box . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[Shift] + [Backspace]
             ates another layer. In the
                                                                                     Free transform . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[Ctrl] + [T]
                                                                                     Transform again . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[Ctrl] + [Shift] + [T]
                                                                                     Increase brush size . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
                                                  The plain text without any         Decrease brush size . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
                                                  effects                            New layer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[Ctrl] + [Shift] + [N]
                                                                                     Cut selection to a new layer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[Ctrl] + [Shift] + [J]
                                                                                     Clone selection to a new layer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[Ctrl] + [J]
                                                                                     Scroll image . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[Spacebar] + drag with the mouse
                                                                                     Scroll left or right . . . . . . . . . . . .[Ctrl] + [Page up] or [Page down]
             The original image                                                      Cancel operation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[Esc] or [Ctrl] + [.]
                                                                                     Close image . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[Ctrl] + [W]
                                                                                     Save Image for Web . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Shift] + [S]
                                                                                     Brushes palette . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[F5]
                                                  The text when rotated by 90        Color palette . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[F6]
                                                                                     Layers palette . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[F7]
                                                  degrees CW
                                                                                     Info palette . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[F8]
                                                                                     Actions palette . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[F9]
                                                                                     Just palettes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[Shift] + [Tab]
                                                                                     All palettes, status bar, options bar and toolbox . . . . . . . . . . .[Tab]
             Align the vertically flipped image
                                                                                     View rulers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[Ctrl] + [R]
             with the base of the original

                                                                                     degrees CW. From the Filter                         Image menu and under
                                                                                     menu, choose Stylize > Wind.                        Mode, choose RGB.
                                                  The ‘flaming’ effect on the text   In the Wind dialog box,                                 Switch to the duplicate

     96                                           mode with the background
                                                                                     make sure your chosen
                                                                                     method is Wind and that
                                                                                                                                         of the text layer. Once
                                                                                                                                         again, go to the Layer menu
                                                  layer kept black and the           your direction is From the                          and choose Duplicate Layer.
                                                  foreground layer white. Now        Left. Press [Ctrl] + [F] to run                     In the dialog box, change
             The final image showing the          create your type and ras-          the same filter again with                          your destination to the
             reflection in the water              terise the type using Layer >      the same settings.                                  name of your main docu
                                                  Rasterize > Type. Create a copy         Now go under the Image                         ment (the one in which
             new layer, press [Ctrl] + [T]        of the layer by going under        menu, under Rotate Canvas,                          you’ve applied the effects).
             to bring in Free Transform           the Layer menu and choos-          choose 90 degrees CCW.                              The text layer will appear in
             selections. Right-click and          ing Duplicate Layer. In the             Choose Filter > Stylize >                      exactly the same position as
             select Flip Vertical from the        dialog box that appears,           Diffuse and make sure it is set                     it was, before the duplica
             options. Bring down this             change the destination to          to Normal mode. Again                               tion.
             flipped image by keeping             New. This will duplicate           choose Filter > Blur > Gaussian                         Finally, press [d] to set
             the [Shift] key pressed and          your text layer to a new doc-      Blur and enter 2 pixels.                            your foreground colour to
             dragging it. Now scale the           ument.                                  Now go under the Image                         black and then press [Shift]
             image to a lesser width and               Go back to your origi-        menu and under Mode                                 + [Alt] + [Backspace] to fill
             decrease its opacity.                nal document and merge             option, choose Indexed                              your text with black. Lastly,
                                                  your text layer with the           Color. Go back to the Image                         go to Filter > Distort and
             The flame effect                     background layer by press-         menu and under Mode,                                choose Ripple. Choose 27
             In order to get the flame            ing [Ctrl] + [E]. Under the        choose Color Table and                              for amount, and choose
             effect on text, open a new           Image menu, choose Rotate          Black Body in the Table                             Large for size. Click OK to
             image in the Greyscale               Canvas and choose 90               popup menu. Go to the                               complete the effect.




                        118                                                                                                                                DECEMBER 2002
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          arcade s
                           s tactics




                             Unreal Tournament 2003
          much more; follow this guide and exercise your right to frag!


                                                            Under the HUD
                                                                                                                             Adrenaline
                        Rank/Spread                                                                                          Shows how much
               The first number indi-                                                                                        adrenaline you hav
           cates your position in the
            current competition, the
                 second tells you the
             number of participants.
           The Spread is how many
            places behind the leader
                    you currently are



                                                                                                                             Ammo Indicator
                                                                                                                             Shows the amount
                Health Indicates your                                                                                        ammunition the ac
                        health points                                                                                        weapon contains




              The Cheats of the Trade
                                                            The tools of the trade
            Press [Tab] key to bring down the con-          BioRifle                                       ondary       fire
                      sole and then type:                   The BioRifle is an excellent defence and       shoots out a
                                                            retreat weapon—shoot where your oppo-          slow-moving
                               - Makes you invulnerable     nents are likely                               plasma       ball
           ghost               - Lets you walk through      to walk and use                                that can cause
                                  walls
                                                            its bio sludge as                              major damage.
           loaded              - Gives you all weapons
           allammo             - Gives you infinite
                                                            a mine. A few                                  The balls are
                                 ammunition for your        good       shots                               more useful in close combat. The ta
                                 weapons                    from this gun                                  master with this gun is shooting the
           skipmatch           - Lets you win the           are         good                               ma balls with the primary fire of th
                                 current match              enough to kill                                 that is the laser. This combination r
           behindview 1        - Changes to a third         anybody. The secondary fire charges up         in a huge and deadly explosion th
                                 person view (0 will turn   the sludge and a maximum fill is enough        clear multiple targets.
                                 it off)                    for a one-shot kill. Ensure that you are not
           invisible 1         - Makes you invisible
                                                            too close to the opponent to avoid splash      Link Gun
                                 (0 will turn it off)
                                                            damage. The weapon should be used to           The gun spews green balls at a d
           amphibious          - Lets you breathe
                                 underwater
                                                            booby-paint surfaces such as walls and         speed that are pretty accurate and
           stat fps            - Displays the FPS rate      floors of your base, while guarding a flag.    a healthy dis-
           stat net            - Displays the network                                                      tance. The sec-
                                 status                     Shock Rifle                                    ondary fire is
           stat all            - Displays various           The Shock Rifle shoots a laser beam that       where the gun
                                 statistics                 covers great distances accurately. Keep        shines, firing a
                                                            mental track of the charge-up time taken       steady stream
                                                            by the weapon between shots. The sec-          which is more

                         132                                                                                                       DECEMBER
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          accurate and easier to control, albeit not        grenade that does an awesome amount of              Double Jump: An excellent techniq
          as damaging. Keep a close eye on the              damage—it can be a one-shot killer when             get on to ledges and high nooks, a
          ammunition while in this mode. The                used accurately. The secondary mode for             effective as an escape move when s
          secondary fire reveals the true power of          long distance firings and the primary               rounded. To execute a double jump
          this weapon: during team matches, the             mode for short distance shootings is how            jump once and when at the peak, p
          guns can be linked together with devas-           the Cannon likes to be used.                        the jump key once more to gain m
          tating effect. A teammate can fire a beam                                                             Backward Leap: This leap can be
          onto another carrying a Link Gun and              Rocket Launcher                                     to quickly retreat to a safe spot. A
          when the second member secondary-                 The Rocket Launcher shoots a single,                invaluable if you have a long-rang
          fires his weapon, his beam will cause             straight rocket                                     weapon in hand and are being ch
          twice the damage.                                 that travels at                                     by someone equipped with a clos
                                                            a good speed                                        ranged weapon. Double-tap on th
          Minigun                                           and has a large                                     back button to perform the leap.
          This is the bread and butter gun of               blast radius.                                       Strafe Leap: Rockets can be a rea
          UT2003. Its rapid-fire action ensures that        Always aim at                                       in UT2003, ditto the Shock Rifle a
                                      you need not          your      oppo-                                     the Link Gun. The key to reducin
                                      be a good shot        nent's feet to                                      ache is dodging—double-tap the
                                      to get a kill. It     maximise the effect of the splash damage.           keys to perform this miracle in eit
                                      is the ideal          Also try to lead the foe a bit with the rock-       direction.
                                      weapon        to      et: predict where your target is likely to be       Elevator Leap: Use the elevators t
                                      harass some-          and then aim your shot on that spot.                extra air. While on an elevator, if y
                                      one with at           Hold the secondary-fire button to load up          jump as it stops, inertia will impart
                                      long        dis-      to three rockets that shoot simultaneous-          jump a significant boost. The eleva
          tances—it’s more effective than the               ly—a good strategy to cover a large area,          leap is particularly good in combin
          Assault Rifle at slowly eating away at            although accuracy thus decreases. You              with the double jump.
          armour and health. The secondary mode             can lock on to a target by tracking it with
          takes a longer spin-up time to fire shots         the aiming cursor of the Launcher for a         your position, so those fine campin
          that cause greater damage, at a higher rate       few seconds. Rockets fired post-lock will       are numbered. The secondary fire le
          of fire. You can safely stick to this mode        home in on their target. Finally, hold sec-     zoom in and frag someone. Headsho
          as long as you keep an eye on the ammu-           ondary fire to load multiple and then           a breeze in this mode and the gun
          nition.                                           immediately press the primary fire but-         becomes a great defender of flag
                                                            ton, followed by releasing both the but-        domination points.
          Flak Cannon                                       tons simultaneously—the Launcher will
          This gun is mighty powerful. The primary          fire swarming missiles.                         Ion Cannon
                                      mode fires off                                                        The primary fire of this gun is us
                                      a     diverging       Lightning Gun                                   paint a target area, whereupon an o
                                      array of hot          This is the sniper gun of UT2003. The pri-      satellite anni-
                                      flaks that are        mary fire shoots lightning bolts that are       hilates     the
                                      extremely             one-shot killers if on target but the           tagged     area.
                                      effective     at      recharging                                      Paint enemy
                                      close range.          time between                                    areas for maxi-
                                      These     shots       shots is quite                                  mum effect.
          can be bounced off walls and around cor-          long. Also note                                 The secondary
          ners, thus making this gun an ideal one to        that the blue                                   fire lets you
          possess while retreating to a safe spot. The      arc is a dead                                   zoom, very much like the Lightning
          secondary mode fires off a single flak            give away of
                                                                                                            Redeemer
                                                                                                            The primary fire shoots a nuclear
          The Moves of the Trade                                                                            head that causes insane damage
                                                                                                            good       nuke
          When you get 100 adrenaline points, you can perform a special move for a set amount of
                                                                                                            should. Note
          time. To increase the adrenaline points, gather the pills strewn around a level or bag more
          kills.                                                                                            that the mis-
                                                                                                            sile can be shot
          Key combination            Move             What the move does                                    down, where-
          Forward, Forward,          Berserk          It increases your attack speed by about 40 per        upon it harm-
          Back, Back                                  cent                                                  lessly    blows
          Back, Back, Back, Back     Invisibility     You turn invisible                                    up.
          Left, Left, Right, Right   Regeneration     You regenerate health points and shield points            The secondary mode lets you
          Forward, Forward, For-     Speed Booster    Movement speed and jump height are                    the missile to its destination, such
          ward, Forward                               doubled                                               enemy base.
                                                                                                                                             AHMED


                    133                                                                                                                DECEMBER

				
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Description: Digit Magazine - December 2002 Issue