Digit Magazine - June 2003 Issue by docstocfun

VIEWS: 711 PAGES: 167

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									                  Publisher’s Note

                  Wish List for the year ahead

                  E      very year in our anniversary issue, I am expected to write
                  about our vision and plans for the coming year. This year, I have
                  decided to do away with the Vision mumbo jumbo! Instead, here’s
                  my Wish List for the computer industry in India:

                  1. Computers for everybody: Technology giants have promised us,
                      many a times, to bring and build an affordable computer. While
                      there has been some progress on this front, the real ticket is the
                      Rs 10,000 computer.
                  2. Software in OUR languages: Why is it that all the software giants
                     (read Microsoft), can invest more than $100 million in developing
                     Chinese language versions and not make a slightest of dent in
                     putting together a ‘local’ language software for India?
                  3. Internet for the masses (Finally!): I hope that in 2003, the
                     Internet—infrastructure efforts such as DSL and satellite; content
                     such as Web sites, e-mail and other services; access and usage by
                     wider groups—will finally begin to work.
                     Huge sections of our people do not, yet, have access to Internet.
                     Until now, limited access also caused limited content. I hope that
Maulik Jasubhai      in 2003, the Internet will grow into a real World Wide Web, and
                     finally begin to contribute to solutions for the many problems of
                     poor education, promote economic growth and make us as a truly
                     ‘technology-enabled’ country.
                  4. Substance, NOT Speed: How much faster do you need your
                     processor to be to load MS Word? Enough! Can someone please
                     ask the technology industry to wake up and smell the coffee?! We
                     have all the speed we need; now can we have software and content
                     and connectivity to actually use that speed?! Moore’s law, RIP.
                     What we really need are user-focused innovations. Tech industry
                     has been the fountainhead of innovations (heck, the auto industry,
                     after a century, is still stuck on the internal combustion engine).
                     But we need innovations for the ‘Human Being’, not for the
                     number-crunching monsters.
                  5. Surprise ME!

                  Tell me your Wish List at maulik44@jasubhai.com

                  We promise to continue to work tirelessly to make your wishes come

                  Maulik Jasubhai
                  Publisher and Executive Director, Jasubhai Digital Media
■   editorial

                Social software
                      ocial software make a virtual space useful for people who interact
                      either directly by engaging in conversations, or indirectly where the
                      consequences of people’s actions and choices make it easier for other
                people to pick up the thread. Software such as blogs and forums are
                typically organised by time, while others such as Wikis and Amazon’s
                recommendations are organised by topic.
                     The buzz is led of course, by tools such as Web log or blog software.
                Blogs are mostly a one to many communication medium, with the blog
                owner writing about whatever catches his fancy at any convenient time.
                The heavy cross-linking that is common among blogs, form communities
                of interest. By travelling these links, any chance visitor could discover a
                network of active people whose interests match his own. This spontaneous
                formation of communities exhibited by blogs is one of the key                    Sumod Hajela
                characteristics of social software—though less permanent networks can be         Assistant Editor
                formed over group Instant Messaging. Instead of the top-down mandated
                nature of a newsgroup or chat room typically run by a moderator, or
                channel operator, loosely connected blogging communities are formed           “After the
                and act purely by associations and reputation built within the community.     spectacular rejection
                     Similarly, an experimental tool from Microsoft called ‘Three Degrees’
                does just that—help groups of people share discussions, music and other       of 'old' style IRC and
                     The power of a network grows exponentially with the number of
                                                                                              Usenet groups,
                connections. The momentum behind software that facilitates emergent           social software as a
                networks, and let you carry your own social network online, in mediums
                that suit your needs is building. With the right tools becoming available,
                                                                                              class of tools is now
                it is about time we reach out and connect with technology.                    gaining mindshare
                                                                                              on the Internet.      ”

     index ■
JUNE 2003              ■   magazine

            Telecom: David vs Goliath .........28                      INSIGHT
            Vipul Shah talks about the workings of                     Table manners.........................221
            telephony                                                  Tabulate your work, with a little help
                                                                       from Microsoft Word
            Living with Bluetooth .................30
            Kiran Jonnalagadda talks about his new                     Jazz up that desktop .............224
            significant other—Bluetooth... and the                     Use window managers to dress up your
            percussions thereof                                        Linux desktop

            FEATURES                                                   One world, one language .....228
            Talk to Me.......................................32        Watch language barriers disappear with
            Getting your computer to understand                        online translation tools
            your verbal speech is not as hard as you
            would think. It’s harder!                                  Watch your shares .................231

            TEST DRIVE
                                                                       Find out who is accessing your shared
                                                                       folders and files over your network         224 ▲ Pretty. Easy. Linux. Have
                                                                                                                       ▲ a great desktop!
            Hardware Unlimited....................40
            Dive into the ever-changing ocean of                       Leaving explorer behind.......237
            computer hardware for pearls of know-                      Browse smart with the latest versions of
            how, and what-to-buy                                       Opera and Mozilla

            A-List ..............................................158
            A comprehensive list that will help you
            pick up the best hardware money can


            Office-in-Waiting.........................172                   So, you can talk to your
            We test drive some of the new features                             computer in the near
            that Office 2003 promises to deliver                             future. The question is:
                                                                                 Will it understand?

            ▲   40 Beforefind out what isand jump what iscomputer
                          you hop, skip
                                          hot and
                                                  to the
                                                                                                    ▲   228 Use Web sites to translate important e-
                                                                                                            mails and documents

                   8                                                                                                                         JUNE 2003
                                                                                                                                 Two browsers that go
                                                                                                                                 many-up on Internet

       A sneak-peak
       at Office 2003

       40 CPUs,
       processors, cell
       phones, we got
       them all covered

                                                                                                       Reviewed this month

                                          HARDWARE                          ■ FREECOM FHD-1 20         4K080H4                   ■ Samsung SP2001H
                                          A-List . . . . . . . . . . .158    GB                       ■ Mercury KOB650GL         ■ Samsung SyncMaster
                                          ■ AMD XP 1700+                    ■ Gainward Ultra/650 TV    NDSMx                      171MP
                                          ■ ACi Emerald Pro                 ■ Gainward Ultra/750 8X   ■ Mercury Optical Scroll   ■ SMEDIA GeForce4
           NEWS FEED . . . . .16
                                          ■ Artis S880                       XP-Ti4800 SE              Mouse                      MX440
           LETTERS . . . . . . . .26      ■ ASUS A7S266                     ■ HP 3325                 ■ Microsoft Multimedia     ■ Sony Ericsson P800
           DROOLMAAL . . . .38            ■ BenQ DVP-1648A                  ■ HP Photosmart 130        Keyboard                  ■ Sony Ericsson T200
           Q & A . . . . . . . . . .232   ■ Bose MediaMate                  ■ HP Scanjet 4570c        ■ Microsoft SideWinder     ■ Sony-Ericsson T68i
                                           Computer Speakers                ■ iball The King           Precision 2               ■ Toshiba Protégé 3500
           OFF THE SHELF . .254
                                          ■ Canon Digital IXUS              ■ Intel Pentium 4 3.06    ■ Microsoft Wireless       ■ Tungsten T
           DIGIT DIARY . . . . .258        330                               GHz                       Desktop                   ■ Typhoon iTek
           BACKBYTE . . . . . .260        ■ Canon LBP 1120                  ■ Iomega CD-RW            ■ Microsoft Wireless        RF@Mouse and key-
                                          ■ Canon S530D                      48x24x48x (External       IntelliMouse Explorer      board
                                          ■ Creative DAP-CD0001              USB 2.0)                 ■ MSI 845PE Max2           ■ UMAX Astra 2500
                                          ■ Creative Megaworks              ■ Iomega                  ■ MSI KT4 Ultra            ■ Wipro Laser 1540
                                           THX 5.1 550                       CDRW55296INT-B           ■ NAPA DAV316              ■ Zoltrix Cool Disk -
                                          ■ Creative NOMAD                  ■ Iomega HDD 20GB         ■ Nokia 3650                128MB USB Pen drive
        To subscribe to Digit, fill        MuVo                              Portable hardrive        ■ Olympus C-               SOFTWARE
       out the subscription form          ■ Creative SoundBlaster           ■ LG 8320B                 5050ZOOM                  ■ Office 2003 Beta
           available online at             Audigy 2 Platinum                ■ LITEON LTD165H          ■ Philips 150MT
       www.thinkdigit.com/subscribe       ■ Creative Vibra 128              ■ Maxtor D540X-           ■ Samsung PC Keyboard

                    9                                                                                                                             JUNE 2003
index ■
          ■   digit interactive

                      ON THE CD    KNOW YOUR CD
 Airport Tycoon 2                  If it’s gaming that matters                                   hottest game demos. This
 Type: Trial    Size: 59.8 MB      to you, then this is the one                                  month      we     feature
 Playware\Arena\Games              section that you should                                       NASCAR Racing 2003 Sea-
                                   start off with. If you have                                   son—the hot-rod racing
 Aqura8                            the enthusiasm to game,                                       sim that has a legendary
 Type: Trial  Size: 1.44 MB        we have the games for you!                                    fan following the world
 Mindware\Software\Office               With four sections that                                  over. Look at Airport
                                   contain all the holy grail of                                 Tycoon and Restaurant
 DVD Movie Factory                 gaming every month, this                                      Empire—two sims that
 Type: Trial   Size: 38 MB         is the section that is meant for all people   will have you building your empires! And
 Mindware\Software\Multimedia      with that instinct to play and ace through    we also carry Postal 2, the game that
                                   their games! Within Arena, look at the        already has a name as a rocker! So when
 Magic Utilities 2003 2.10         Games section for all the latest and          are you goin’ postal, dude?
 Type: Trial      Size: 0.87 MB
                                   MUST TRY SOFTWARE
 Mass Downloader
 Size: Trial  Size: 0.98 MB        NASCAR Racing 2003
 Mindware\Software\Internet        Season
                                   NASCAR Racing
 Postal 2                          2003 Season will
 Type: Trial   Size: 123 MB        immerse you in
 Playware\Arena\Games              the most capti-
                                   vating NASCAR
 Restaurant Empire                 racing experience
 Type: Trial   Size: 142 MB        available on the
 Playware\Arena\Games              PC. Tracks come to life as dirt, debris and   apply volume envelopes and even create
                                   oil buildup on the windshield, clouds cast    hidden tracks. CD Architect supports a
 Super Collapse 2                  shadows and flags wave in the breeze, giv-    long list of drives, including many
 Type: Trial    Size: 1.99 MB      ing players the most engaging driving         FireWire and USB devices.
 Playware\Arena\Funzone            experience available for the PC. With         Size: 16 MB       Type: Trial
                                   extraordinary 3D graphics, an explosive       Mindware\Software\Multimedia
 SuperShredder 1.01                sound system, driving lessons and track
 Type: Free    Size: 0.15 MB       tutorials, and 2003 drivers, teams and        Mozilla 1.3 for Windows
 Mindware\Software\System          paint schemes, get ready to enjoy the the     Mozilla is an open source Web browser,
                                   legacy of award winning NASCAR Racing         designed for stan-
 Toolfish Utility Suite 2.0b       games. Get ready to burn rubber and take      dards compliance,
 Type: Trial       Size: 1.45 MB   control to lead in the NASCAR champi-         performance and
 Mindware\Software\Internet        onships!                                      portability. It is con-
                                   Size: 119 MB      Type: Trial                 tinuously updated
                                   Playware\Arena\Games                          and supported by
                                                                                 an enthusiastic community of developers.
                                   CD Architect 5.0                              Development and testing of the browser is
                                   CD Architect provides the most precise        provided via discussion forums, software
                                   audio CD mastering and burning tools          engineering tools, releases and bug track-
                                   available. Arrange your project using sim-    ing. New for this release are junk mail and
                                   ple drag and drop operations. Produce         newsgroup filters besides the usual fixes for
                                   complex      crossfades   and      DJ-style   performance, standards compliance and
                                   megamixes. Generate multiple takes of a       site compatibility.
                                   song before burning. Create live-style CDs    Size: 12 MB        Type: Free
                                   with audio in the time between tracks,        Mindware\Software\Internet

        10                                                                                                        JUNE2003
index I
                 I colophon

Chairman Jasu Shah                                          Write Back                                                   ADVERTISERS’ INDEX
Printer, Publisher and Editor                               Got feedback on Digit or
Maulik Jasubhai                                                                                               CLIENT                                      PAGE
Head - Publications & Web sites                             www.thinkdigit.com? Have something to say         Aci . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .130
Louis D’Mello                                               about an article we published?                    AMD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .101
Editorial                                                   We’d love to hear from you. Send us your          Anirox . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .169
Assistant Editor Sumod Hajela                                                                                 Axis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58
                                                            rants and raves at
Senior Writer Ahmed Shaikh                                                                                    Bigapple . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19
Writers Srinivasan Ramakrishnan,                            readersletters@jasubhai.com                       Creative . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .119
Kaizad Vajifdar, Upendra Singhai
                                                                                                              Digiquest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .145
Copy Editors Mitali Parekh, Robert
Sovereign-Smith, Garfield D’souza                                                                             Elnova . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .237
                                          Product Testing                                                     Focus software . . . . . . . . . . . . . .45
                                          Want your product reviewed by Digit?                                Fraser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .103
Art Director Marshall Mascarenhas
Designers Shivasankaran C. Pillai,                                                                            Gayatri . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .151
                                          Contact our Test Centre at
Ashwin Boricha, Sachin Dalvi,                                                                                 Gigabyte . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .127
Mahesh Benkar, Atul Deshmukh,
                                          testcentre@jasubhai.com                                             IBM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Back cover
Solomon Lewis                                                                                                 Intex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51
Photographers Mexy Xavier,                                                                                    Iomega . . . . . . . . . .159, 163, 167
Jiten Gandhi
Test Centre                                              Software on CD                                       Karrox . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47
                                                                                                              Kobian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13
Head Hakimuddin K. Badshah                               To submit software for inclusion in the Digit
Reviewers Deepak Dhingra,Badri                                                                                Maxtor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55
                                                         Interactive CDs, contact us at                       Microsoft . . . . . . . . . . . .25, 33, 35
Narayan, Sanket Naik, Praveen Kurup
Co-ordinator Gautami V. Chalke                           cdcontent@jasubhai.com                               Moserbare . . . . . .Inside front cover
Multimedia                                                                                                    Neoteric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15
Design Kamlesh Vishwakarma                                                                                    Numeric . . . . . . .Inside back cover
                                                                                                              Olympus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .259
Programmer Devendra Chipte
                                          Help!                                                               Pearson education . . . . . . . . . . .37
Media Studio                              Complain about your missing copy?
Bimal Unnikrishnan, Priya Ramanathan,                                                                         Penram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .155
Afzal Mazgaonkar, Prasanth Uyyul          Cover CD not working properly?                                      Priya . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53
Production                                Renew your subscription                                             Samsonite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29
GM Shivshankar Hiremath                   Report a change in mailing address                                  Samsung . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17, 31
Managers Shiv Hiremath, Harish                                                                                Stellar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .129
                                          Order a back issue
Suvarna                                                                                                       Symantec . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21
Executives Mangesh Salvi, Sriram Iyer     Need assistance on any of these?                                    TVSE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11
Pre-press                                 Contact Customer Service at                                         Verbatim . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .97
Prashant Nair, Shailesh Salvi, Ravindra   Tel: 022-27629200/9211 Extn: 1013/1016
                                          Fax: 022-27629274
Operations                                help@jasubhai.com
Manager Shailesh Iyer                                                                                               Promise
Circulation & Logistics                                                                                        to our readers
Adarsh Kaul
                                                          Endorsements/Reprints                                While every effort is made to
Customer Service
Reema Sadarangani                                          The Best Performance and Best Value Awards          ensure that the information and
Marketing & Sales                                          are the undisputed stamp of excellence for          prices provided are correct, there
Brand Manager Shubhendu Nath              technology products in India. If you are a winner and are            may be some variation due to dif-
Deputy Head - Sales Vijay Adhikari
Marketing Manager Bhavesh Thakor          interested in ordering article reprints or using our logos,          ferences in local taxes across
Manager - Consumer Mktg                   contact                                                              states. Please keep this in mind
Nabjeet Ganguli                                                                                                before buying any product.

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              12                                                                                                                                  JUNE 2003
contents ■
               ■   online

                                                                   taste technology at www.thinkdigit.com

      WEB SPECIAL                                                 SUBSCRIBE
                    Your PC as a VCR                      Want to subscribe to Digit? Or is it
                    Tired of hunting for blank            time to renew your subscription? You
                    cassettes every time you want         can now subscribe online!
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     BY DEMAND                                                      WEB SPECIAL
 You get to choose what goes on Digit Interactive. This
 month you have chosen:
                                                          Net Nasties
                                                          The Internet is the best
                                                          thing that ever happened
               JASP - Just Another File                   to those who like to stay
               Split Program v1.5                         connected. But every

               Size: 0.39 MB                              Jekyll has a Hyde…

               Unreal II: The Awakening

               Size: 153 MB

        12                                                                                       JUNE 2003
           pulse ■
                       ■   news

             Athens PC
                                               A grid effort                                                             Karnataka signs
                                                                                                                         MoU with IBM
             ■ What is it?                            new initiative has            Gateway for its grid computing
             The Athens PC is a prototype             been taken by D2OL            Service. The ADA will use
             PC, which is considered by
             HP and Microsoft to be the
             the future business desktop
                                                      (Drug Design and
                                               Optimization Lab), to test
                                               drugs that might help to cure
                                                                                    ‘Gateway’s Processing On
                                                                                    Demand’ solution, backed by
                                                                                    United Device’s Grid MP
                                                                                                                         T   he Karnataka government
                                                                                                                             and IBM signed a Memo-
                                                                                                                         randum of Understanding on
             PC. With all communication        SARS. The project uses a com-                        Alliance plat-       9th May, to advance e-learn-
             media, including voice,           puter’s idle time to create a                        form, to acceler-    ing initiatives based on Open
             video, and text converged.        supercomputer capable of                             ate      diabetes    Source technology. IBM will
                                               testing the effectiveness of                         research. The        work with BITES (Board of IT
             ■ How does it work?               potential drugs. Around                              platform with        education Standards) and IIT,
             Athens PC aims to shift from      15,000 computer users                                7,000 comput-        Hubli, to develop an e-learn-
             designing isolated hardware       have downloaded                                      ers will run soft-   ing platform and to develop
             and software components to        the project softwar .                                ware to help the     IBM centre of Excellence,
             a whole system approach. It           Grid computing                                   ADA       analyse    which will be devoted to open
             provides unified communica-       can screen potential                                 clinical     pro-    source software.
             tion through integrated           drugs much faster                                         grams and            Steve Hills, Senior Vice
                                                                       ILLUSTRATIONS: Farzana Cooper
             telephony and RTC (Real           than laboratorial                                         t r e a t -     President, IBM, said that with
             Time Communications). It          researchers. They are used to        ments, develop clinical prac-        this, IBM would leverage local
             includes integrated tele-         analyse different compounds          tice guidelines, study the effi-     talent and bring existing syl-
             phone, controls for telepho-      as candidates for the suitable       ciency of care processes, set        labus, faculty and students on
             ny, convergence of a variety      drug. After the compounds            priorities and plan its research.    par with the IT emerging tech-
             of telephony interfaces such      are pinpointed, they are                  The Gateway Grid can            nologies. The e-learning por-
             as PSTN, PBX and cellular         ranked in order of how likely        produce more than 11                 tal will entail content, facul-
             interfaces. The display is a      they are to work, and then           TFLOPS (trillion floating point      ty training, mentoring of stu-
             high resolution, wide, 16:10      tested in that order.                operations per second) at peak       dents and application devel-
             aspect ratio flat panel.              The American Diabetic            capacity.                            opments. The courseware will
                                               Association has also signed                                               be based on Linux and Eclipse
             ■ What does it do?                                                                                          OSS(Open Source Software)
             Athens PC switches between                                                                                  and work on the development
             on and standby mode in less
             than 2 seconds, thus you
                                               Crystal ball monitor                                                      of technologies, such as
                                                                                                                         Middleware       Components,
             don’t wait for the PC to boot
             up every time. In case of
             power failures, the PC goes
                                               T   he Perspecta 3D System is
                                                   a 360-degree spatial dis-
                                               play, powered by the Perspec-
                                                                                     million volume pixels, or
                                                                                     ‘voxels’, using Actuality’s
                                                                                     patented technologies, with-
                                                                                                                         Device Drivers, and Real Time
                                                                                                                         Applications etc.

             into a hibernate mode, saving
             important data. Controls on
                                               ta platform and application
                                               software. In this
                                                                                     in a transparent Lexan dome.
                                                                                                    Recently, Actu-
             the keyboard are organised in     system, the screen                              ality       Systems
             logical groups, including         is a rotating disk                              announced its first        30,674,408
             media transport, system-wide      that is capable of                              European sale to           The total
             volume and mute, notifica-
             tion and telephone controls.
                                               producing light at
                                               any point it passes
                                                                                               ENEA, the Italian
                                                                                               National Agency
                                                                                                                          number of.com,
             The integrated telephony has      through. The result                             for New Technolo-          .edu, .net,
             physical buttons and displays,    is a real 3D repre-                             gies. The Perspecta        .org and .co.uk
             so that the phone features        sentation of the                                3D System will be          domain names
             can be seen and used without      object, which can be viewed           used as part of the centre’s
             turning on the computer. It       from any angle, without the           applied research and devel-          worldwide:
             features high-quality audio       need for any special goggles.         opment work in 3D imaging
             and operates silently.            The display illuminates 100           of scientific data.                 Source: Domainstats.com
■   NEC launched the MobilePro 900—a Windows CE 3.0-based device is aimed at the enterprise ■ Windows XP 64-bit Edition will require a minimum of 1GB of memory

                      16                                                                                                                           JUNE 2003
pulse ■
              ■   news

Everybody’s doing the DMCA                                                                                                    redalert
                                                                                                                              Freaky fizz

U     nder the Digital Millenni-
      um     Copyright
(DCMA) section 512, a copy-
                                        withdrew the notice sent to
                                        the Penn State University
                                        by a temporary worker
                                                                                           by artistes such as Creed.
                                                                                            Speakeasy reverted back and
                                                                                             was satisfied with their
                                                                                                                              A new worm called
                                                                                                                              arrives as an e-mail attach-
right holder can send a ‘take-          and apologised for the                               timely response.                 ment having a .com, .exe,
down’ notice to an ISP whose            incident.                                               Even after such inci-         .pif or .scr extension. It
network is used for distributing             In another case, an                               dents, the RIAA contin-        sends itself to all windows
copyrighted music and other             ISP called Speakeasy                                      ues its threatening         address book contacts,
files. The Recording Industry           received a notice stat-                                  stance. One of their         independent of the e-mail
Association of America (RIAA)           ing that a certain                                       ideas is to warn users       software. It also spreads
sent 24 notices, without con-           user’s Web site was                                     against file swapping         itself via the KaZaA file-shar-
firming that the files were             illegally    offering                                   by using the instant          ing network. Fizzer has a
available for download. CNet            approximately 0 sound files                       messaging found within peer-        key logger that can be used
News reported that the RIAA             for download, including songs                     to-peer software.                   to steal passwords and
                                                                                                                              other sensitive data. This
                                                                                                                              sneaky worm attempts to

DVD next                                                                                                                      disable your anti-virus soft-
                                                                                                                              ware and updates itself

T   oshiba and NEC have
    developed a prototype of
what they tout as the next
                                        pared to current red-laser
                                        technologies, but it would be
                                        easier to make backward com-
                                                                                          disk structure used in current
                                                                                          DVDs—back-to-back bonding
                                                                                          of two 0.6 mm thick, 120 mm
                                                                                                                              automatically. It can be
                                                                                                                              remotely controlled via IRC
                                                                                                                              and AOL’s messenger for
generation of DVD technolo-             patible with current DVD                          disks. Toshiba claims to have       distributed denial of service
gy. The prototype was                   technology. Current produc-                       stored 36 GB of data on a           (DDoS) attacks. All versions
unveiled at Optical Data Stor-          tion facilities would require                     dual-layer, single-sided, read-     of Windows are at risk.
age 2003 show, held in Van-             comparatively lesser modifi-                      and-write disk.                     Check for the latest virus
couver. This technology dif-            cations to mass-produce the                           Toshiba and NEC are             updates or visit
fers from the Blu-Ray format.           new discs called Advanced                         working with an association         http://www.symantec.com/av
     The disc is based on short-        Optical Disc (AOD). The pro-                      of 215 companies to define          center/venc/data/w32.hllw.fiz
er length blue lasers as com-           posed format utilizes the same                    the future format.                  zer@mm.html for a removal.

                                                                                                                              Maax hit
statattack                                                                                Son for sale                        W32.HLLW.Maax.B@mm, is
                                                                                                                              a worm that spreads

                                                                                          A    man, who offered his son
                                                                                               for sale on the Internet in
                                                                                          jest, was in trouble when a
                                                                                                                              through e-mail. It uses
                                                                                                                              MAPI programs to mail
                                                                                                                              itself to all your contacts.
                                                                                          concerned        Web       surfer   The e-mail contains a sub-
                                                                                          informed the police. Alex Wil-      ject from the worm’s pre-
                                                                                          son of Scotland placed an           determined list, and con-
                                                                                          advertisement about 2 years         tains a file called Tca.exe. It
                                                                                          ago to tease his son Liam, who      attempts to disable any
                                                                                          was then 5 years old. After         anti-virus and then deletes
                                                                                          placing the advertisement, he       several system files It also
                                                                                          forgot about it until this Cana-    makes modifications to your
                                                                                          dian woman spotted it on a          system.ini and win.ini files.
                                                                                          Web site selling bicycles and       If it succeeds in modifying
                                                                                          prams, and informed the             the autoexec.bat file, your
                                                                                          police. The advertisement           C and D drives may be for-
                                                                                          read, “Hyperactive kid for sale,    matted when you restart.

                                                                                          good at vacuuming, not great        Visit
                                                                                          at washing dishes because he’s      http://securityresponse.syman
                                                                                          too short. Guaranteed to            tec.com/avcenter/venc/data/
                                                                                          annoy. Five pounds or nearest       w32.hllw.maax.b@mm.html
                                                                          Sachin Dalvi

                                                                                          offer.”                             for a removal.
                                                                                               Alex had to remove the
                                                                                          advertisement from the site.
Source: Central Command

        ■   "Most Web sites that display lyrics of songs are breaking the law”, Sarah Faulder, chief executive of the Music Publishers Association

            18                                                                                                                                      JUNE 2003
           pulse ■
                         ■   news

           Postal too                           ‘X’ marks the box                                                                   heroes
            A    man in Cleveland, USA
                 killed a postgraduate stu-
            dent, and injured two others
                                                K    een on boosting the sales
                                                     of the Xbox, Microsoft
                                                 announced new additions and
                                                                                      players to transfer music and
                                                                                      images from their PCs to their
                                                                                      Xbox consoles. The software
                                                                                                                            Apple’s new iPod
                                                                                                                            Apple has launched a
                                                                                                                            redesigned iPod in 15 and 30
            by firing in rage, when              improvements for the game            supports 2D and 3D visualisa-         GB versions. The redesign
            his Web site destroyed by a          console just before this year’s      tions, and lets you make              improves on the earlier beauty
            hacker. Biswanath Halder,            Electronic       Entertainment       playlists and sing along to           making it even smaller than its
            believed that Shawn Miller, a        Expo      (E3)    show.      The     your favourite tunes, with            predecessor and lighter. It now
            school computer lab assistant        announcement           included      lyric-stripping technology.           sports four backlit buttons
            hacked his site and destroyed        exclusive game                                         XSN Sports is       between the wheel and the
            his life’s work. Halder tried to     such as Halo 2,                                   a line up of sports      display.
            convict Miller in the civil          Project Gotham                                    games that let you
            courts, and made numerous            Racing 2 and                                      form your own            Mobile gaming
            complaints to the university         Crimson Skies:                                    leagues and main-        With its dominance in the gam-
            president, the campus police,        High Road to                                      tain stats on            ing console market well estab-
            the Mayor of Cleveland, the          Revenge coupled                                   www.xsnsports.com,       lished with the PS2, Sony now
            FBI and even the US House            with an Xbox                                      making it a more         plans to launch the PlayStation
            and Senate Judiciary Com-            version of Counter Strike. All       comprehensive experience.             Portable (PSP). This will take on
            mittees.                             these have innovative online              Meanwhile, a new book            Nintendo’s GameBoy Advance,
                Halder was a loner and           gameplay modes.                      titled “Hacking the Xbox: an          which has enjoyed a virtual
            was unable to get a job for              New features for its             Introduction to Reverse Engineer-     monopoly. The new PSP will
            last 15 years. He used to sue        online gameplay system               ing”, is being sold by the            also play music and video. Sony
            companies that did not take          Xbox Live are also being             author Andrew ‘Bunnie’                wants to make it “the walkman
            him. He thought he pos-              introduced. It now has the           Huang, on his Web site.               of the 21st century”. Nokia also
            sessed the secrets to peace          ability to page a friend’s           According to Huang, the book          plans to enter this market with
            and prosperity and shared his        mobile device with an invita-        is so controversial that the          its N-Gage gaming phone.
            secrets through his Web site.        tion to play, and even a place       publishers are afraid to pub-
            He said in court, “I try to          to meet online and use voice-        lish it. So he’s taken it upon
            solve mankind’s problems
            through the Internet. In a few
                                                 chat. Microsoft is hoping to
                                                 have at least a 100 Xbox Live
                                                                                      himself to publish it in its
                                                                                      entirety. The Web site says
            seconds, the evil man wiped          games by mid next year.              “Hacking the Xbox looks for-          SCO Group
            out everything that it took              Another add-on; the              ward and discusses the impact         The SCO Group has sent
            my lifetime to create.”              Music Mixer, will be available       of today's legal challenges on        legal notice to 1,500 of the
                Halder has been living on        as a $40 (Rs 1,900) package          legitimate reverse engineering        world's largest corporations
            disability pension for some          later this year. This will allow     activities.”                          claiming they may be liable
            years and thus was unable to                                                                                    for the use of Linux since
            afford psychiatric treatment.                                                                                   they claim it is “an

                                                 Mobiles threaten planes                                                    unauthorized derivative of
                                                                                                                            UNIX’ to which SCO holds
                                                                                                                            the rights”. According to
            snapshot                            S   tandard cell phone use can
                                                    cause serious threats to
                                                                                      “Occasionally during the taxi
                                                                                      out, we overhear the charac-
                                                                                                                            SCO, since Linux distributors
                                                                                                                            do not warrant the ‘legal
             There are                           planes by creating interference                 teristic chirping of a     integrity’ of the Linux code,
                                                 with the aircraft’s naviga-                        mobile      phone       the user may be liable for its
                                                 tion system, according to                          through        our      development and use.
             38,118,962                          a recent research done                              headsets. More
                                                 by The Civil Avia-                                  often than not, it     Spyware and Adware
             Web sites on                                                                                                   Studies show 493 types of
                                                 tion Authori-                                       turns out to be a
             the                                 ty, at UK.                                          crew phone; we         spyware lurking on 1,317
                                                                                                                            Web sites, up from 56 types
             57.62% of the                       Mobile phones
                                                 cause the plane
                                                                                                    switch it off, and
                                                                                                   then       continue
                                                                                                                            on 125 Web sites a year ago.
             Web sites run on                                                                                               Adware with KaZaA and
                                                 compasses to freeze or over-                with no ill effects.           other such applications tracks
             Apache Web server                   shoot and navigation bearings        Sometimes,        however,     it     browsing habits and reports
                                                 to be inaccurate.                    becomes necessary to hold
             while    31.87% use                      A poster on the Profession-     clear of the runway and make
                                                                                                                            them to advertisers. Visit
                                                                                                                            www.spywareinfo.com or
             Microsoft IIS                       al Pilots’ Rumour Network—a          an announcement reminding             www.doxdesk.com for help
                                                 popular online community for         passengers to switch their            online.
           Source: netcraft, 2002                airline pilots and crew, says,       phones off.”

■ Intel   is developing a wireless, pocket-sized personal server that may replace laptops and PDAs altogether ■ Intel commands 81.7 percent of the PC processor market

                       20                                                                                                                         JUNE 2003
        pulse ■
                       ■   news

         Present success, future tense?                                                                                     quoteworthy
                                                                                                                              “The Tablet PC is just
        A   pple Computer’s digital
            music service, iTunes
        Music Store sold
                                                     According to Billboard
                                                 magazine, the retailer gets
                                                              around 36.7 per
                                                                                       dows version of Music Store.
                                                                                            iTunes 4 has a Music Shar-
                                                                                       ing feature that allows people
                                                                                                                              a buzzword, nobody
                                                                                                                              is buying it. Market
        2,75,000 music tracks                                 cent of the price        to share music over the LAN.           nahi hai.”
        in the first 18 hours.                                of a normal music        The music is not downloaded            Hirji Patel, Chairman of Allied
        The songs, including                                  CD. Forbes maga-         permanently but it can be              Computer Industries explains
        videos from Eminem,                                   zine says that           heard as streaming audio.              that the Tablet PC is current-
        Bob Dylan, Sting and                                  Apple takes on 35        Many programmers have                  ly a niche product
        others, can be pre-                                   per cent for each        found a way to extend this fea-
        viewed for free as 30                                 track it sells.          ture from LAN to the Internet.         “We have started
        second samples. All                                        Apple plans         They have developed software           to block access to
        numbers can be copied to a               to make iTunes compatible             that allows people to search
                                                                                                                              immoral sites, as
        CD and are automatically                 with PCs by the end of the            Net-connected Mac’s in order
        synched to an Apple iPod.                year with its upcoming Win-           to listen to songs online.
                                                                                                                              well as political sites
                                                                                                                              which rudely make
                                                                                                                              fun of religious and
        New, improved pop-up ads!                                                                                             political figures in the
        B   rian Shuster, a long time
            figure in the Internet
        pornography world, has
                                                 take control of a user’s com-
                                                 puter    and     send    them
                                                 to unexpected Web sites. One,
                                                                                       site—in Shuster’s case. For
                                                                                       example, typing in www.hot-
                                                                                       mail.com        instead       of
                                                                                                                              Iranian deputy post and
                                                                                                                              telecommunications minister
        recently received the patent             called ‘Method, apparatus and                  http://www.hotmail.com        Masoud Davari-Nejad. The
                                                                                                                              Iranian government has
        for an advertisement format.             system for directing access,’                   will deliver a pop-up
                                                                                                                              ordered Internet service
        Shuster’s patent—the Traffic             describes the use of hidden                     porn window, and
                                                                                                                              providers to block around
        Management Utility—claims                frames to inject Java script                     then     send    the        15,000 Web sites
        that pop-up ads account for              onto an user’s computer                  browser to Hotmail.
        20 percent of the revenue of             that can be later                            Online       advertising
        the two most profitable Inter-           used to send the                              software vendor, Uni-          “We omitted panels
        net segments, online casinos             browser        to                               cast, is coming up           for notebook PCs
        and adult entertainment. He              another     Web                                 with a 15 second,            from this exhibi-
        has set up Ideaflood Inc., an            site. This tech-                                300 K online adver-          tion… they do not
        intellectual property holding            nology changes                                  tisement that fills
        firm, to license revenue from            the system’s set-                            the entire PC screen.
                                                                                                                              yield profit."
        sites that use pop-ups and               tings and registry,                       This ad opens when a               A spokesman for Samsung
        other advertising technology.            sending the user                        user clicks a link to go to          Electronics at the Electronic
            Other Shuster patents                continuously to a                     another page on the same               Display Forum in Tokyo,
        include similar technology to            specific site—a porn                  Web site.                              earlier this month.

        tomorrow’stechnology                                                                                                 snapshot
          Nano a Mano                                                                                                         For the quarter
                                                                                                                              ended      March 1,
          I BM has built the world’s
            first array of carbon nan-
          otube transistors. These tiny
                                                 otubes may provide an alter-
                                                 native at the time when the
                                                 physical limits of silicon tech-
                                                                                     together in a rope like struc-
                                                                                     ture and get overpowered by
                                                                                     the metallic nanotubes. This
                                                                                                                              online auction
          carbon atomic cylinders                nology will be reached.             required each tube to be                 site, eBay earned
          measure about 10 atoms
          across, are 500 times smaller
                                                     Only semiconducting car-
                                                 bon nanotubes can be used to
                                                                                     moved and separated individ-
                                                                                     ually. The IBM team were able
          than today’s transistors and           make transistors—the key            to overcome this using con-              million, more
          said to be 1,000 times                 component in electrical com-        structive destruction, where             than double the
          stronger than steel. These             ponents and chips. Earlier          only semiconducting nan-
          findings will help in the mak-         manufacturing          processes    otubes are produced with the             $47.6 million
          ing ofsmaller and hence                caused the semiconducting           electrical properties useful for         it earned last year
          faster chips. Carbon nan-              carbon nanotubes to stick           making transistors.
                                                                                                                            Source: Associated Press
■ Microsoft   plans to turn MSN's free content services into fee-based subscription services ■ MIT professor comes up with a technique to harness energy from vibrations

                     22                                                                                                                                JUNE 2003
  pulse ■
                 ■   letters                                                                An offer you ca
                                                                                                           n’t refuse
                                                                                             Dear Sir,
First post!                                                                                 The writing of th
                                                                                                                  is letter is the co
                                                               ? You                        sequence of re                             n-
Hi Sumod,                                       a Digit forum                                                  ceiving the Di
                                from starting                   back                                                               git,
               ping you guys                     uss obtaining                              May 2003 issue
What is stop                         rs can disc                                                                 , containing th
                one  where membe                 ch that , people like                      mind blowing                              e
already have                      u extend it su                 logy                                         offer for new su
                  Why don’t yo                     other techno                            scribers. It really                       b-
issues of Digit.                    buy and have                                                                is a fabulous offer
                 out  products to              e to share views espe-
 us, can talk ab               be a good plac                     give
                                                                                           and I congratu
                                                                                                               late the entire
                sions? It will                     gy forum. Do
 related discus                     dian technolo                                          Digit team for
                 ere is no such In                                                                           this great effort.
 cially since th                                                                           Everyone will ag                          ILLUSTRATIONS: Mahesh Benkar
                 consideration.                                                                               ree that the col-
  this a serious                                                                          lection of such
                                                                                                             a comprehensiv
                                                                                          is an asset for th                       e, 10-CD collecti
  Bye,                                                                                                        ose eager to upgr                      on of software
                                                                                         updated.                                    ade or to keep th
  Ajay                                                                                                                                                 eir computer
  Via e-mail                                                                                  Frankly speakin
                                                                                                                 g, I am shocked,
                                                                                         ed. Having recen                               jealous and high
                                                                                                             tly renewed my                               ly frustrat-
                                                                    a copy of            opportunity to                            subscription, I ha
   Hi,                                              never missed                                           grab this offer. Do                        ve missed the
                                    igit and have                       start a                                                     not you think th
   I am an av    id reader of D            98. I think  Digit should                    an injustice for
                                                                                                           the existing subs                          at the offer is
                     sin ce May of 19                d share th eir views and                I believe there                      criber?
   the magazine                       s can meet an                        very                                will be many su
                    all the reader                        s world-wide,                 package and it                               bscribers eager
    forum where                           lakhs of forum                        -                          will be highly ap                         to get such a
                       ou gh there are            saying that   you get thou            offer it to us at                          preciated if you
    knowledge. Th                   u have been                         ible for
                                                                                                          an affordable pr
                                                                                                                                                     would please
                     centric. Yo                             not poss                       Thanks and warm
     few are India-                           ion, and it is                                                       regards,
                             the Q&A sect                         to this also.
            s of mails for                        be an answer                          Sudip Ghosh
                        all; the   forum could            talk, Software
                                                                                        Via e-mail
      you to answer                         as Hardware                         n
                     be  sections such             Ps, etc An  d with the fa
      There could                 rnet services/IS                     g to be a
                      ing, Inte                doubt that it
                                                              is goin                   Hello,
      Troubleshoot                                                  d you won’t
                              s, there is no
       follo wing Digit ha           y doubts, co nduct a poll an             it is
                                                                                       After going thro
                                                                                                          ugh the May iss
                        u have an                            ree. And yes,                                                ue of Digit, I fel
       huge hit. If yo                         who wont ag                        g    jealous of the ne                                    t just a little bit
                       Dig it reader saying        unity in In dia as it is goin
                                                                                                          w subscribers—th
                                                                                                                            ey will be getting
        find a single              t online comm
                                                                                       with all the lates
                                                                                                         t software, while                      10 CDs free,
                        e bigges
        going to be th                                                                my subscription!                     I got only two wh
                                                                                                                                               en I renewed
         to be from Team                                                                  Just a suggestio
                                                                                                            n: why don't yo
                       , Ludiana                                                      subscribers at a                       u offer this pack
         Dr. G. S. Paul                                                                                 cost?                                   to your old
         Via e-mail                                                                   Aba Saheb
                                                                                      Via e-mail
    Dear Ajay and Paul,
    We have plans for a forum on the Web site that would                                           Dear Sudip and Aba,
                                                                                                                                          and better on offer the
    help our readers connect with and help each other                                              There is always something bigger
                                                                                                   next day. To computer owners,      it is a familiar feeling: buy
    regarding various technology issues. However, we are
                                                                                                                                            and watch it become
    working on the goals for such a forum. All too often,                                          the latest and greatest this month
                                                                                                   yesterday’s equipment, the next     .
    such forums, started with great fanfare, languish for
                                                                                                                                                readers who either
    lack of a purpose. We would like to hear your opinions                                               The 10-CD pack is only available to
                                                                                                   renew or subscribe after the offer   commenced. There are no
    about the subject through this month’s Reader Poll.
                                                                                                                                            a stand-alone product.
                                                                                                    plans for offering the 10-CD pack as
                                                                                                    If you are already a subscribe r, a renewal will extend your
                                                                                                                                             sponding number of
    Gender protection fault?                                                                        current subscription for the corre
                                                                                                    months and entitle you to rece   ive the free gift.
    In the Digit Diary of May 2003, you have a picture of the sixteen
    candidates that were selected in the Talent Hunt conducted by JDM.
         I noticed that not a single woman was selected.
                                                               Dear Sunita,                                         ics
                                                                                                  at those statist
    Statistics shows that women are far ahead than men,                          to have a look            that we did-
                                                               W e would love                    amazed
    academically. It is extremely hard to believe your                        ly, we are just as                       r
                                                               because frank                         of women in ou
    results, any explanations?                                                     representation
                                                                n’t get adequate               ust us; it is not some-
    Sunita                                                                     begin with. Tr
                                                                applicants to                      gineer.
                                                                                  deliberately en
    Via e-mail
                                                                thing we would

                                                                                                                    Your vote counts
     Q. What would you like to see on the Mindware CD?                                  This month’s question:
                                                                                        Question: What kind of forum would you like to use on
            Business Software      Utilities    Whitepapers / E-Books
                                                                                        the Digit Web site?
                  12 %              72 %               15.8 %
                                                                                        ! Trouble shooting and advice            ! Buying discussions
     Though Mindware is already chockfull of utilities, here is to more of              ! Magazine feedback                      ! All of the above
     the same                                                                            Log on to www.thinkdigit.com and vote

               26                                                                                                                                        JUNE 2003
   Need more pages                                                                                                                  Short Bytes
  Dear Sumod,                                                   zine reaches the hands of the readers, the virus sig-               Fame and Digit
                                                                                                                                    Dear Sir,
  I have been a regular reader of your magazine                 natures get outdated by a week or so. Instead you
                                                                                                                                    I started reading Digit a few
  for two years. I have found that the pages in                 can include plug-ins for Winamp and Windows
                                                                                                                                    months back and now, I
  Digit are in fact less in number than they used               Media Player 7.1, as well as Windows Media Player                   eagerly await a new issue. I
  to be. In 2001, when you guys celebrated your                 9. This would definitely save the expenses that                     would like to congratulate,
  anniversary, the magazine had 320 pages. All                  occur due to prolonged Internet usage.                              and thank you for giving us
  the issues in that year had at least                            Subramaniam                                                       great and useful knowledge
  200 pages.                                                              Via e-mail                                                about computers and now,
     But now there are only 122                                                                                                     even cell phones. Thanks to
  pages. I would suggest to you to                                           Sir,                                                   Digit, I have become a
  include more topics, and carry at                                           That you are coming up with the                       famous computer consult-
                                                                                                                                    ant at school and home.
  least two articles on Linux every                                           annual issue next month is indeed
  month, so that people will find Linux                                       great news. We are up to our necks                    Suyah Misra
                                                                                                                                    Via e-mail
  a worthy OS and a cost effective alter-                                      with CDs; can you, for a change,
  native to Windows and Mac. This method                                       give us more reviews and compar-
  could be used to increase the number of pages.                isons, instead?                                                     In the April issue, ‘Stuck in
     There is no point in including anti-virus                  Mukul                                                               a moment’ by Ahmed
  updates in the Digit CDs. By the time the maga-               Via e-mail                      d Muku in store for                 Shaikh and Badri Narayan:
                                                                                      niam an               e
                                                                      Dear S ubrama ave a surpris rsary issue                       they quoted the price of a
                                                                                sa y we h         our annive           than         pirated game as between Rs
                                                                      Did we             nd that              longer
                                                                                u will fi            for far             ons        200 to Rs 500 in Mumbai.
           guin                                                        you? Yo             reading              w secti u
Adopt a pen                                                            ke eps yo
                                                                                   u busy
                                                                                          o ha ve som
                                                                                                         e ne
                                                                                                                ld keep yo          But living in a small city
                                                                                 We als               at shou                       such as Berhampur, Orissa,
Dear Sir,                                      and                      before.               onth th a little longer.
                                it Magazine                                         d this m                            f virus
                reader of Dig                                           introdu
                                                                                          ur com
                                                                                                  pute rs
                                                                                                               stead o
                                                                                                                                    I am able to buy the latest
I am regular                                                                     with yo tuting skins in                     ny     games for Rs 25 only. If any
                technology-                                              active         ubsti                       the ma
make my                                                                        As for s                  in mind le Inter-
                 ses on the                                                                mus  t keep           orda b             of you would like to buy
 related purcha                                                                    s, you              e an aff               an-   any new game please
                reviews.                                                  update              not hav               an we c r,
 basis of your                                                                       who do                 not me             e
                     u stress                                              readers         ut th at does s Media Play               inform me and I will defi-
       Although yo                                                          net a ccess. B     for W  indow                D from   nitely parcel you one.
             the use of pi
                           rat-                                                       y skins                      d on C
                                                                                                         le to fin
                       do not                                               not carr should be ab                                   Vikram
                 you                                                                  ou                  s.
  ed software,                                                               which y            onward
                    x in your                                                         t month
  fo cus on Linu                 st                                           the nex                                               There you have it: high cost of
                 nux is the be                                                                                                      living, high cost of law-break-
   magazine. Li                          are and the
                         pirated softw
   way to avoid
                                     is being acce
                                                   pt-                     d prices                                                 ing. Metros are a bane!
   idea of  Open Source
                                  le everyday.
                                                                Of specs an                                           a
                   d more peop                                                                         les; Digit, is
    ed by more an                             ur mag-                                   chnical artic
                       te a fe w pages of yo                    In addi  tion to the te                      ailable in
         Please dedica                     include at                                          on what is av
                                  d also                                         information                of us who
                  ds Linux an                                   good source of                e. For those
    azine towar
           some softw   are for Linu
                                       x. How abou
                                                                 the market,
                                                                               for what pric
                                                                                               Digit is often
                                                                                                              our only                      o
                                                                                                                                          Go f Ups
     least                        dicated to                                    a major city,                         es
                  magazine de                                    live far from                         specs and pric
     a separate                                                                        However, the
                    are you lis tening?                                  of such info.                        ad to the             " In the May issue, we list-
      Mr Jasubhai,
                                                                  source                       ect, and can le
                                                                                 etimes incorr                continue
                 ne                                               given are som                hope you will
                                                                                                                                    ed E-Monitor as one of the
     Rohan Narava                                                                 decision. I                          .            products reviwed in the
                                                                   wrong buying             to eliminat  e such errors
     Via e-
                                                                   to make se rious efforts                                         Bazaar section. The pro-
                                                                                                                                    ducted will be carried in
   Dear Rohan,                                                     Zotin Kuma                                                       the upcoming July issue.
   Solving the problem of                                          Via e-mail
                            piracy by throwing aw
   entire software platfo                            ay your                                                                        " In your review of Nokia
                           rm is much like throw                                                                         ,
  baby out with the bath-w                           ing the      Dear Zotin,                              of going away
                                                                                           ows no signs                             8250 on page 47 in the
  needs to be addressed
                              ater. Piracy is a problem
                                                         that     The Go  ofs column sh           to ensure ac   curacy of          May issue, you wrote that
                            at multiple levels, and                               e every effort
  by technology.                                     not just     but we do mak                           .                         the phone features a FM
                                                                                    and  configurations          te prices,
       However, we do agree                                       product details                we get accura                      radio and a picture editor.
                                                                                        re that
  of the temptation with
                                that Linux takes away a
                                                          lot           While we ensu                     ry considerab
                                                                                                                                    I found that the phone
                          plenty of free software                                      nent prices va
 tives. From this issue onw                         alterna-       com  puter compo                  move up     and down           lacked both of the above
                             ards you will find a new                               region and can                        s-
 ular workshop on putting                               reg-       from region to                         it almost impo            mentioned features. I want
                             all that free software to                     unpredictab   ly. This makes
 use. You can look forwa                               good        rather                            s to mat   ch those at         to know if I was cheated by
                            rd to increased covera                                  e printed price                      ca-
 Linux in both the magaz                               ge of        sible to get th                     r prices as indi            the vendor or it was one of
                            ine and the CD to hel                         local dealer. Please use ou
 make the most of it on                               p you         your                               t.                           your goof ups!
                         your personal computer.                                     e of the produc
                                                                    tors to the valu                                                Abhinit Tiwari

                        Send your letters marked ‘Readers Letters’ to the Digit office:                                             We confess, it was a goof up!
            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?
                                    E-mail: readersletters@jasubhai.com                                                             Write to goof@jasubhai.com

              27                                                                                                                                        JUNE 2003
pulse ■
         ■   opinion

                       Telecom: David vs Goliath
                                part from municipal water, which is the               A small, 70 employee, U.S start-up called
                                most essential and monopolistic service          Vonage DigitalVoice is emerging as a huge
                                that we big city residents use day after         threat to the copper landline companies. Von-
                       day? The answer is basic telephony. It’s reach            age does away with copper wiring to every cus-
                       and demand is growing. All homes, offices and             tomer home. Instead, it uses any existing
                       shops in developed cities, towns and villages,            broadband Internet connections you may
                       have a phone. None of us would dare refuse a              already have—such as DSL, Cable or Ethernet.
                       Diwali gift—read extortion money—when the                 You get to choose between 70 city and area
                       telephone linemen come calling.                           codes, even if you do not live there. For exam-
VIPUL SHAH                   Customer service is virtually non-existent          ple, you could live in Atlanta, but have a New
                       for basic telephony companies. Last year, while           York city code. This way all calls to, and from
                       travelling by train, I saw an ad for MTNL’s ECS           New York are treated as local calls, and you can

                       service. The catch line for the ad was, “Why              give the impression that you are based in New
                       wait for hours in a queue to pay phone bills.”            York.
                       This is probably the only corporate company                    The calls travel from Vonage DigitalVoice
                       in the world, which proudly advertises the fact           to subscribers over their broadband connec-
      MTNL is          that they make their customers wait in line for           tion. Subscribers are provided with a Cisco
                       hours to make payments.                                   ATA 186 analogue telephone adapter, that
probably the                 The entry of private players, such as Tata          connects the Internet to a regular or cordless
only corporate         Indicom, Bharti etc has changed the industry.
                       These companies have logical business plans,
                                                                                 phone or even an EPABX. Vonage is offering
                                                                                 free caller-ID, free call-forwarding to any num-
company in the         and try to provide the best possible customer             ber in the U.S or Canada, free voice mail that
                       support. But still, the situation in India, and           you can access from anywhere via the Web ,
world, which           most of the world, is one of ‘duopoly’, where             and call waiting.
                       two operators serve most cities. Although                      All these features cost $25.99 per month,
proudly adver-         there is a significant rise in service levels, there      and include 500 minutes of outgoing calls
tises the fact         isn’t enough motivation for them to radically
                       improve their approach and appeal. The
                                                                                 anywhere in the U.S or Canada, as well as
                                                                                 unlimited local calls. The international call
that they make         knowledge, that customers don’t really have a             charges are also cheap. It costs 5 cents per
                       choice, only serves in pushing prices upwards.            minute to call Hong Kong, 19 cents to New
their customers              Today, even middle class households                 Delhi, 5 cents to London, etc.
                       receive bills in excess of Rs 1,000, only for local            Even while traveling, you can carry this
wait in line for       calls and dial-up Internet access. Over the               ATA adapter with you and connect to a hotels

hours to make          past decade, the prices of CPUs, RAM, band-               broadband connection, or to an Internet con-
                       width and even international phone calls,                 nection on flights. Here, you can make and
payments               have reduced. However, local call costs are               receive calls at no extra roaming costs, while
                       still rising.                                             outside your city or even overseas.
                             In the early 1990s, when Internet was just               This radical concept is sending shock-
                       being accepted into homes, telephony com-                 waves through phone companies in the U.S.
                       panies didn’t worry. Even when e-mail began               Most high-value customers already have
                       to replace fax and international voice calls,             broadband Internet connections, and can save
                       SMS was replacing STD calls, and VoIP started             about $40 per month per connection. In one
                       becoming popular, companies such as AT&T,                 year of operations, Vonage has got 20,000 sub-
                       MCI or VSNL didn’t worry. The problem was                 scribers and connected 15 million calls. Even
                       that you still needed these companies to make             when changing services, subscribers can keep
                       and receive local calls.                                  their existing phone number, this has prompt-
                             Today, in India and even the U.S, phone             ed many users to give up any second phone
                       companies charge for every little feature or              lines and replace it with a Vonage lines.
                       service. Services, such as Caller ID, Voice Mail,              Our Indian phone companies need to
                       Call Waiting or Call Forwarding, all have                 learn from this and start offering what they
                       charges and hefty taxes loaded on top of each             can, instead of sitting and waiting for some
                       other. It is common for an American house-                new technology to make them obsolete.
                       hold to receive a monthly phone bill of $80.

                       Vipul Shah is Chartered Accountant, and writes/consults on Internet, e-commerce, banking, finance technologies,
                       he can be reached at vipuls@yahoo.com

       28                                                                                                                 JUNE 2003
pulse ■
          ■   opinion

                        Living with Bluetooth
                            jumped onto the Bluetooth bandwagon a               an SMS arrives, I don’t have to rummage
                            few weeks ago. I had been hearing about             around for the phone because the message is
                            it for months. Of how Bluetooth removes             already showing on my screen, from where I
                        the clutter of cables from your desktop; of             can either save it, or send a reply. I can syn-
                        how your computer, mobile phone and PDA                 chronize my address book and calendar with
                        can wirelessly synchronize with each other;             the phone so I don’t have to maintain each
                        of how a range of Bluetooth devices around              separately. Using SEC’s proximity sensor, I can
                        your house, all using their low-power short-            have my computer stop playing music when
                        range communications abilities, would make              I walk out of the room and start again when I
Kiran Jonnalagadda      the smart home a reality.                               return. When I make a presentation, I have
                             And yet, all of this was just potential, still     the freedom to walk around and still switch

                        untapped. Nobody has yet created a killer               slides without having to return to the laptop,
                        application that uses Bluetooth to do some-             and without needing a minion assigned to
                        thing fantastic that couldn’t be done before.           spacebar-duty.
                        The best I came across was the ability to send               A friend of mine who visited California
      Nobody            and receive SMS messages from your desktop,             happened to meet Steve “Woz” Wozniak of
                        and at over Rs 15,000 for a decent Bluetooth            Apple fame there, and described to me how
has yet                 capable phone, that ability was totally not             Woz uses Bluetooth. American cellular service
created a killer        worth the price.
                             And then one likely candidate appeared.
                                                                                company, Cingular, offers a scheme where you
                                                                                can get up to four phones in a family pack, and
application             Salling Software’s Sony Ericsson Clicker (SEC)          all communication between these four phones
                        for Mac OS X lets you program a menu on to              is free. Woz has two phones on this scheme.
that uses               your phone that executes scripts to control             One sits at home connected to a DSL line, the
                        applications on your desktop. Use it to switch          other sits in his pocket with Bluetooth enabled.
Bluetooth to            tracks on your media player, navigate                   When Woz wants to get online, he uses his lap-

do something            through slides on your presentation, control
                        your mouse and do just about anything that
                                                                                top to make a data connection over Bluetooth
                                                                                to the phone in his pocket, which in turn
fantastic               you can write a script for. I use an Apple              makes a data call to his phone back home,
                        PowerBook running Mac OS X. All I needed                which is connected to a DSL line. Woz can get
                        was a USB Bluetooth adapter from D-Link                 online from anywhere in the US without a
                        and a Sony Ericsson phone (other phones do              phone line or a network connection, for free.
                        not have programmable menu abilities of the             To hell with all the hype about WiFi!
                        SE phones). D-Link doesn’t sell their USB                    So if there are funky things that can be
                        Bluetooth adapter in India, but Nokia sells a           done with Bluetooth, why isn’t everyone
                        Bluetooth kit for their 6210i phone which               using it yet? Let’s look at Woz’s case again—
                        includes a PCMCIA Bluetooth adapter. But a              Something like that isn’t possible in India.
                        quick Google search revealed that it didn’t             Sure, Indian cellular providers have schemes
                        come with drivers for Mac OS X and third-               for free calls between phones, but that doesn’t
                        party drivers cost more than I was willing to           include free data calls. If you want data at a
                        pay. So D-Link, it had to be, and I asked a             reasonable speed, it’ll cost you an arm and a
                        friend visiting California to pick up one for           leg, and Bluetooth is really all about data.
                        me from the Apple store.                                     As it stands today, Bluetooth does little
                             A week after he returned with my adapter,          more than eliminate cables at a very high
                        I got myself a Sony Ericsson T68i. Unlike IrDA,         price. If you really want the benefits of the
                        Bluetooth is omni-directional. You can’t just           technology, you’ll only get it with large scale
                        point two phones at each other and beam                 adoption, and therein lies the dilemma.
                        your address card because the phone across              Unless prices drop significantly, technology
                        the hall will also receive the transmission.            users will not adopt it. And unless there is
                        Bluetooth therefore requires that devices               demand, prices will not drop. If a killer appli-
                        authenticate with each other first, which I did.        cation appears, it could remedy the situation
                        I can now point at a phone number in my                 by making people more willing to pay, but
                        address book and tell the phone to dial. When           no one has figured one out yet.

                        Kiran Jonnalagadda is a technology enthusiast, and believes in the open source philosophy. Currently working
                        with Pandey Labs,USA, he can be reached at jace@pobox.com

        30                                                                                                               JUNE 2003
features ■
                ■   technology next
                                                                                                               ILLUSTRATIONS:   Mahesh Benkar

 Talk to

              i Honey, I’m home. Get me
              some black coffee, read out
              today’s headlines and, uh,
just pour Garfield some milk, OK?” says
Jon. No, he’s not talking to his sub-
                                              While you’re about it, yeah, like, get some
                                              for Jon, too.”
                                                   2. “Procure that quantity of water
                                              that is typically consumed by a human
                                              being when he or she is thirsty. Then
                                                                                             and get a meaningful
                                                                                             response! Meet computer
                                                                                             systems with near human

                                                                                             request by bringing, say, a bucketful of
                                                                                             water. But it’s not so easy for the robot to
                                                                                             figure out what ‘some’ means. ‘While
                                                                                             you’re about it’ is an expression that needs
                                                                                             to be programmed into the robot, because
servient significant other. This is the       place that water in an appropriate con-        the ‘it’ is obvious only to humans. Finally,
future, and he’s talking to his Natural       tainer. Immediately after that, procure a      when you say “get some for Jon”, it is not
Language Understanding Enabled com-           similar quantity of water and place it in      obvious to the robot that you want it to
puter-bot named ‘Honey’.                      a different, appropriate container. Give       get ‘some water’ for Jon too.
    But that is the future. Right now,        me the first container, and give Jon the            In Dragon Naturally Speaking, a pop-
Honey doesn’t exist, and your computer        second container.”                             ular NLP software, what you say to the
doesn’t understand you. The complexity             If we all spoke and wrote in the man-     computer gets typed out in a program,
of human speech and writing, and the          ner of the second sentence, Natural Lan-       say, Microsoft Word. Sounds neat doesn’t
speed at which it changes to include slang    guage Processing (NLP) might not be so         it? But those of you who have used it
makes it difficult for a computer to under-   hard. But we do not, cannot and will not,      know that there’s a lot to be fixed. And
stand it. To get an idea about the com-       speak this way, right?                         speech recognition is only the tip of the
plexities in human language, look at               In the first sentence, ‘get’ is ambigu-   NLP or Natural Language Understanding
these two sentences, as commands spo-         ous—does it mean ‘receive’ or ‘bring’? Sim-    (NLU) iceberg.
ken to a robot.                               ilarly, how much exactly is ‘some’ water?           Speech recognition is certainly one of
    1. “Get me some water, I’m thirsty.       A human being would not respond to this        the most important applications of NLP,

          32                                                                                                                       JUNE 2003
but there are many others. As a matter of
fact, an ideal NLU system would put mil-
                                               IBM’s MASTOR
lions of people out of work. So why is NLP      IBM is developing a tool called MASTOR
so big, why is it difficult, what’s being       (Multilingual Automatic Speech-to-
done out there and what an ideal NLU can        Speech Translator), which will enable
do for us, is what this story is about.         conversation between two people who
                                                do not speak a common language. The
Eliza revisited                                 first speaker speaks into a PDA or laptop,
Eliza is a primitive NLU program written        and the other person can hear the trans-
in the 1960’s that emulates the way a psy-      lation, spoken out by the PDA, in his or
chiatrist speaks. Eliza recognizes simple       her language.
sentence structures such as subjects and
predicates, basic words such as I, go, tell,
etc., and a few special words such as fam-     loud for you, and then give you a
ily and mother. If you were to type in ‘I      little printout of exactly what you are
love my mother’, Eliza may reply with,         interested in. You’d have to hardly read
“Who else in your family do you love?”         anything!
Sounds pretty intelligent, doesn’t it? But          And if you are one of those who wade
when you say something it doesn’t under-       through thousands of lines of technical
stand, Eliza just says, “Please go on”, or     journals and papers just to gather a few
something similar.                             titbits of information, NLU systems could
     Eliza is a good attempt at NLP, but       improve your life manifold. They could
you’ll realize its primitiveness when you      provide you with a weekly digest, and
type in something like, ‘My father wins        store information in a continually
the chad mouse with Greek demons and           expanding database. With all the time
no chicken soup for Fido’. In this case,       saved, you would be able to take weekly
Eliza would reply with something like,         vacations to Goa!
“Tell me more about your father”, because           Need to read a text in Italian? Trans-
of the word ‘father’ in that sentence. The     late it using Google’s patented technolo-
problem is, Eliza doesn’t understand most      gy, of course. And how does Google do it?
of what you’re saying.                         It’s not as simple as translating word for
     An ideal NLP, as far as possible, would   word; the system must, to an extent,
store information and perform actions          understand the source text. Unless it
that you would expect of a machine that        understands the context, it translates
could understand what you are saying           poorly. For example ‘mein Arm’ (German
given your peculiar speech pattern. Some       for ‘my arm’), is translated by Google into
progress has been made along the direc-        ‘my lever’, as ‘Arm’ in German can means
tion of getting a machine to understand        both arm and lever.
human language, but we are still very far           And wouldn’t it be wonderful if you
from where we would like to be.                could ask a database to “find me all of
                                               Jon’s records for the past year, except for
Why NLP is big                                 the ones in March. Also, no personal
Why is so much serious work being done         information; just the official stuff”. Now
out there on NLP? What can ideal NLU           that would require your machine to
systems do for us? Think of the possibil-      understand what you’re saying, and is def-
ities that these systems would open up.        initely more complex than speech recog-
They could read newspaper headlines out        nition.
                                                    Speech recognition has a range of
                                               applications beyond being able to tell
 Thought Treasure
                                               your computer what to do. Some of them
 Thought Treasure is a powerful, natural-      include automated customer service over
 language processor that can interpret nat-    the phone, training systems—where a
 ural-language queries, respond to queries     computer is the instructor, in say, a dis-
 in natural language and identify emotions     tance learning program. In speech, recog-
 in the conversation. It has an extensible     nition is one aspect, but generation is
 knowledge base. Applications of Thought       quite another.
 Treasure include question answering,               Systems that read out text for visually
 common sense-enabled agents and story         impaired persons, such as JAWS, can be
 understanding. Check out http://www.sig-      augmented so that the voice is infused
 niform.com/tt/htm/tt.htm for more details.    with some emotion, and doesn’t sound
                                               machine-like. This cannot be done unless

          33                                                                                  JUNE 2003
features ■
                 ■   technology next

                                                       Bot with an understanding
 An advanced NLU could eliminate the need for everybody in a clothes shop, except perhaps the guy at the counter. Here’s a typical
 scene at a regular clothes shop, only, it has NLU-capable bots. Notice the words in italics and what they could have meant.

   The bot figured the person’s gender            ‘No-frills designs’, not ‘T-shirts with         ‘Both’ meant both kinds of shirts
                                                  aeroplanes on them’

the computer, to some extent, under-                 A smattering of common sense also         us to figure out that they refer to Jon, but
stands the text it is speaking.                 goes a long way. The sentence, ‘It’s late      for a machine, even if you tell it that
                                                and I want to go’ tells you that I want to     Garfield is the name of the cat, it will not
Why NLP is hard                                 get out from the place I am in now. But,       automatically know who the ‘he’ and ‘his’
NLP is probably the best example of what        it’s difficult to make a machine under-        pertain to.
AI is all about. But there are quite a few      stand that I want to go ‘out’, without             The need for phonetic information is
hiccups on the road to building the per-        explicitly using that word.                    extremely essential in speech-recognition
fect NLUs.                                           While using slang, parts of speech are    systems, since a word can be identified
     Suppose one was to say, “Garfield’s        often used interchangeably. A noun is          based only on how it sounds. There needs
sitting back in his chair and relaxing”.        sometimes used as a verb, and vice-versa.      to be a knowledge base that links words
You would definitely understand it to           So if you say, “House him somewhere”,          and sounds. The problem is that, when
mean that Garfield’s relaxation is, at least    an NLU system might generate an error,         words are spoken at a normal pace, the
partly, a result of his sitting in his chair.   saying that ‘house’ is a noun. A trivial       sound is not the same as when they are
But a naïve NLU system would take it to         solution to this problem would be, “just       spoken as distinct words.
mean that Garfield is doing two activi-         supply all this information to the pro-            Often a word can mean different
ties—(a) sitting on his chair, and (b) relax-   gram”. But that amount of information is       things, in different contexts. For exam-
ing; the NLU doesn’t co-relate the two          huge, and the task of using it correctly,      ple, if the setting is an infotech office
individual bits of information to com-          humongous.                                     party, then ‘host’ would probably mean a
prehend the sentence in its entirety. An             References to other words, is a classic   server, and not the person who is hosting
NLU system also needs to fill in appro-         example of what makes a NLP system’s           the party.
priate pieces to an incomplete sentence         work hard. Suppose you say, “Garfield
such as, ‘It’s hot today.’ A naïve NLU          and Jon are funny. I like the way he gets      The logic-and rule-based
would wonder what is hot today, while           disgusted when the cat pours mustard in        approach
an evolved one would naturally conclude         his coffee.” Now look at the ‘he’ and the      There are a few fundamental approaches
that you mean the weather.                      ‘his’ in that second sentence. It’s easy for   to NLP, including statistical approaches.
                                                                                               Essentially, the three phases in bringing a
                                                                                               textual sentence to the desired form are
 Research Groups in India
                                                                                               the syntactic (structure), semantic (mean-
  The NLP focus of the AU-KBC Research          the range of 75 per cent. They also have       ing) and the final representation.
  Centre of Anna University, Chennai, is        the Tamil Morphological Analyzer that can           The syntactic phase takes care of the
  Indian languages. The group works on          handle nearly 3.5 million word forms,          parsing of the sentence, i.e., the breaking
  building lexical resources such as diction-   including compound words, with accuracy        down of the sentence into its component
  aries, a Tamil version of WordNet (an         as high as 95 per cent!                        parts of speech such as nouns, verbs and
  online lexical reference system) and              A group at IIT Kanpur is also working on   adjectives. Parsing for NLP has a few sig-
  tagged corpora (text that has been            projects such as Anglabharti—the Machine       nificant differences from programming
  tagged in a desired manner). These are        Aided Translation system from English to       language parsing. Among them is the fact
  essential for researchers working on vari-    Indian Languages, as well as Speech-to-        that there is no standard grammar to work
  ous areas of NLP. The group built the         Speech Translation, Lexical Knowledge-         with. Writing a grammar for a natural lan-
  Tamil-Hindi Machine Aided Translation         Base Development, Transliteration and          guage is not easy. In processing natural lan-
  system, which has achieved accuracy in        other linguistic projects.                     guage, part of speech organisation is essen-
                                                                                               tial, as opposed to word-by-word parsing

          34                                                                                                                     JUNE 2003
‘Price’, not ‘quantity’; and ‘R43’ was         It realised ‘size of T-shirt’, not of something
not said by someone                            else

that can be done when parsing programs.           two assertions—‘all cats are alive’, and
Even the composition of a very simple sen-        ‘Garfield is a cat’. When you express these
tence can be seen as a complex combina-           in the FOPC, you would have a semantic
tion of noun phrases, verb phrases and so         representation of those two facts, and you
on. Determining these is not an easy task;        could automatically deduce that Garfield
issues such as the order of the phrases           is alive.
come into play. For example, a verb phrase             In order to bridge the gap between the
such as ‘killed the mouse’ always follows,        syntax and the semantics, we have to rea-
(and never precedes) a noun phrase, such          son with the parsed sentences. The Lamb-
as ‘Garfield’, hence—‘Garfield killed the         da Calculus is one way of doing this. It
mouse.’                                           allows one to express an idea with the
     Once this is done, organising the            actual details removed; say you want to
components into semantic relationships            talk about ‘redness’ without referring to a
would be the natural step, because from           red object like an apple. You could say
established knowledge, we know the roles          that       “lx.(expression_containing_x)”
of those components. This semantic rep-           means ‘the role of the x in that expres-
resentation can be in the First Order Pred-       sion’. With x standing for ‘apple’ and
icate Calculus (FOPC). The FOPC allows            ‘expression_containing_x’ being ‘a red
one to make assertions in a formal way. If        apple’, that entire Lambda expression
you had to say, “There are people who             would mean “redness.” An expression in
cross this bridge, but they do it only            the Lambda Calculus can take one or
between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm”, this                more arguments, and results in a concrete
might be expressed in the FOPC as fol-            expression that is the result of the idea
lows: (P: (C)) AND (C: (C = B)), where            applied to that concrete argument—so
means ‘there exist’, x means ‘for all x’, P       when that entire expression is applied to
is ‘people’, C is ‘crossing the bridge’ and       ‘tables’, it would result in ‘red tables’.
B is ‘crossings between 6 and 8’. You can              But how do we reason with, for
reason using the FOPC. Suppose you had            example, ‘Jon likes Garfield’? We need a

 The Loebner Prize
 In the 1950’s, Alan Turing made the famous       ment. It judges whether a computer’s
 statement that if a computer’s responses to      speech can fool a human listener into think-
 a human questioner left the human in             ing it’s a person speaking. The Grand Loeb-
 doubt as to whether he were talking to a         ner Prize receiver is the machine that fools
 computer or a human, then the computer           everyone that talks to it, and the annual
 could be said to be thinking. That state-        prize is for the programmer of the most
 ment is extremely debatable, and debated         human machine each year. Visit
 too. Anyway, an award called the Loebner         http://www.loebner.net/Prizef/loebner-
 Prize seems to be built on Turing’s state-       prize.html to know more.

          35                                                                                     JUNE 2003
features ■
          ■   technology next

                                way of expressing the verb phrase ‘likes      engine. A good example is the cyc proj-
                                Garfield’ as a predicate—which can then       ect. For more details visit www.cyc.com.
                                be used in the FOPC representation.
                                Think of a predicate as an incomplete or      The Perfect NLU system
                                tentative statement which, when               Imagine that you work for a magazine
                                applied to a particular subject, is either    and have perfected NLU systems all
                                true or false. The way to do this could be    around your office. These NLUs would be
                                (lx (x likes(Garfield)). This can take only   able to understand each of the italicised
                                one argument, namely, ‘the x likes            words in the snippet given below:
                                Garfield’. If the argument were ‘Jon’, it          You walk into the office building at
                                would mean ‘Jon likes Garfield’. At this      10 PM and speak to the voice recogniser:
                                point, we have an intermediate repre-              “Open the gates, and if my friend
                                sentation.                                    doesn’t get here within 3 minutes,
                                     We now need to structure the inter-      close them. Oh wait, make that 10 min-
                                mediate representation into a machine-        utes, OK?”
                                meaningful and logical form. At this               You walk in and tell your NLP per-
                                point, one might say that the sentence        sonal assistant, “Get me all back issues
                                has been, in a sense, understood. The log-    that have the phrase ‘natural language’
                                ical form used could be the FOPC. For         in them. Oh wait, forget the January issue,
                                example, ‘Garfield hates all his mice’,       I don’t need that one.” Your machine can
                                would be expressed thus:                      do the correct search, and there you have
                                     (∃: M) AND (M: Garfield hates M),        your back issues.
                                where M is a set of mice that belong to            Now you say, “We want to reprint the
                                Garfield.                                     article which—now wait, which one was
                                     The final representation is derived      that… yeah, the one with references to
                                from the semantic representation, and is      Garfield. Just take off all the images and
                                application specific, as the knowledge        put it on the server.”
                                gathered usually has to be incorporated            Next you tell the e-mail server, “Hey,
                                into some kind of database.                   mail everyone in Digit tomorrow there’s
                                     There are many other things to be        going to be a reprint, and tell them to do
                                taken care of, and the above is only a        whatever’s required.”
                                rough outline. For example, world-                 Come to think of it, if we do get to
                                knowledge plays an important role,            the point where we can build the ideal
                                because if you want to understand some-       NLP, why come into the office at all—you
                                thing someone says, you need to know          could just do it all over the phone. But
                                something about the world we live in.         hey, if the technology does get this far,
                                Several AI projects have had as their aim     how many of us would be needed at all?
                                the construction of a common-sense                                        RAM MOHAN RAO

     36                                                                                                        JUNE 2003
features ■
         ■   droolmaal

                                                    Gateway Media Center PC

                                                    with Plasma Display
                                                    Big and beautiful
                                                    Take an already cool WindowsXP Media Center PC,
                                                    add a huge 42-inch plasma display, and you’re on
                                                    your way to entertainment nirvana. Watch TV,
                                                    pause live programs, record your favourite shows,
                                                    listen to music and burning your own DVDs—
                                                    without budging from the couch.

                                              It’s all
                         about the form
                           Here are a few things that technology did differently

                               NEC Powermate Eco

                               Compute with a conscious
                               This simple looking NEC desktop features an all-in-one boxless design.
                               It’s been built with the environment in mind, and features a lead free
                                    motherboard and a boron free LCD. It also uses less power and
                                      generates less heat than traditional PCs.

                                                                                               JUNE 2003
            Philips DesXcape 150DM

                  Detachable Monitor
                   Convenience at home
      The 15-inch Philips DesXcape is one of the
    youngsters from the new generation of smart
 displays. It’s powered by Intel’s XScale processor
 providing the performance needed to access PC
     applications and data from anywhere in the
home using a wireless network. It has pen-based
input, a wireless keyboard and stereo speakers to
                         complete the experience.

                                           Gateway Profile 4XL

                                           Where did the cabinet go?
                                           The Profile 4XL is an instantly desirable desktop PC with
                                           a comfortable 17-inches of desktop real estate. And this
                                           looker is quite a performer too. It packs a 2.8 GHz Pentium
                                           4, 512 MB RAM, 200 GB of space and a DVD-RW-cum-CD-
                                           RW drive. It saves space by skipping the external PC case—
                                           everything is squeezed into the back of the display!

                                                MSI MegaPC

                                 Boxful of entertainment
 MSI’s MegaPC is a pretty comprehensive entertainment system,
 not to mention a full-fledged Pentium 4 desktop. This toy box
  features a front panel LCD, an MP3 CD player, integrated six-
   channel audio, a remote controller, a TV tuner, FireWire and
 USB 2.0. It reads six types of memory cards and features handy
                                           front panel controls.

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HARDWARE                            INSIDE . . . . . . . .
                                    CPU . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43
                                    Motherboard . . . . . . . . .49
                                    Display . . . . . . . . . . . . .59

                                    Printer . . . . . . . . . . . . .69
                                    Scanner . . . . . . . . . . . .80
                                    Primary Storage . . . . . .85
                                    Secondary Storage . . . . .95
                                    Input Devices . . . . . . . .105
                                    Graphics and Sound . . . .115
                                    UPS . . . . . . . . . . . . . .125
                                    Laptop . . . . . . . . . . . . .131
                                    MP3 Players . . . . . . . . .137
                                    Cellphones . . . . . . . . . .143
                                    Digital Camera . . . . . . .149

                                    B   uying hardware is never easy.
                                        Your choice directly influences
                                    the performance of your PC, as well
                                    as the health of your wallet. Over a
                                    dozen expensive components go into
                                    the making of each computer, and
                                    you can choose from dozens of
                                    options for each of those compo-
                                    nents. Every month we bring you
                                    comparisons to help you make
                                    sense of the bewildering variety
                                    of hardware.
                                        Compiled here is the distilled
                                    knowledge from all that testing—a
                                    complete reference to buying and
                                    making the most of every piece of
                                    hardware you could want. Turn over
                                    for market advice, maintenance
                                    guides and power tips to improve
                                    every part of your digital experience.

      40                                                            JUNE 2003
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     Buyer’s Guide


      43                            JUNE 2003
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                                                                                            Market Overview

                                            ike detergents, which become ‘New &
                                            Improved’ with every passing year, com-         The last year or so has been a dramatic one for
                                            puters too keep getting revamped—with           the processor market. The race intensified even
                                     progressively fancier badging. The stuff in wash-      as the industry saw a massive jump in process-
                                     ing soap that warrants an upgrade (active oxy-         ing power from 2 GHz to 3 GHz. With vendors
                                     gen, stain digestors, et al) may sound dubious,        vying with each other to introduce higher speed
                                     but there’s no doubt what makes a computer             processors, prices have taken a beating—and
                                     meaner and faster—it’s all in the enhancement          Intel and AMD have been pushing the P4 and
                                     to the CPU or Central Processing Unit.                 the Athlon XP respectively.
                                          The CPU may sound boring, but it’s the com-           A scant 3 years ago, the Indian processor
                                     ponent of a computer system people refer to            market did not compare favourably with what
                                     most while describing the PC they have (such as        was available internationally. But now, it’s on
                                     a Pentium 4, a Celeron, or an AMD). The CPU            par with the western world, and any processor
                                     can be called the brain of your computer. How-         launched internationally is available in India
                                     ever, this brain requires a body and limbs to func-    right away. Entry-level processors from all three
                                     tion effectively. Even if you have a fast processor,   major players—Intel, AMD and VIA—are avail-
                                     the rest of the components must be able to             able for Rs 3,500 and up. Intel’s entry-level
                                     handle the output of that processor—or you’ll be       workhorse, the Celeron 1.7 GHz, is still going
                                     saddled with a system that crawls rather than          strong with a price range of Rs 3,500 to Rs 3,800.
                                     zips. Keep this in mind when you decide on                 On the other hand, AMD’s entry-level
                                     the right CPU.                                         Athlon, the XP 1700+, has a price tag between Rs
                                          There are a number of CPU manufacturers,          3,800 and 4,000. But the majority of users in
                                     including AMD, VIA, Motorola—and the                   India still prefer Intel’s P4 1.7 and 2.4 GHz,
                                     grand-daddy of them all, Intel, which has the          which come for Rs 8,000 to Rs 11,000. And
                                     largest share of the consumer market. Intel’s          although higher-speed CPUs (such as the P4 3.06
                                     Pentium 4 CPUs are high-speed processors,              GHz) are available, the price tag is very high—
                                     ranging from 1.4 GHz to 3.06 GHz. However,             around Rs 25,000 to Rs 28,000.
                                                the AMD line of CPUs—which include              In the past, we’ve seen a major price cut
                                                the economy-focused Duron and the           from Intel, specifically in the P4 segment— the
           Buying tips                          high-performance            Athlon—has      maximum price drop has happened in the 3.06
            ■ Present-generation CPUs are
                                                become increasingly popular, as they        GHz, almost 32 per cent. In the next couple of
         power-hungry, so ensure that
                                                cost less and offer comparable per-         months, this segment could once again observe
 your power supply is rated at 350 W at
                                                formance. AMD has also made great           a major drift in terms of technology and price,
 the least.
                                                strides in the last 2 years in terms of a   with both rivals Intel and AMD planning to shift
 ■ While buying a CPU, either from Intel
                                                valid alternative to the Intel line of      to 64-bit architecture CPUs with their Itanium2
 or AMD, make sure that you buy a gen-
                                                processors.                                 and Opteron respectively.
 uine one. Genuineness can be con-
                                                     So which is the right CPU for you?         The thrust today from vendors as well as
 firmed by the hologram seal on the
                                                Well, if you are buying a new one, and      resellers is to provide a low-cost PC solution to
 Intel CPU box. In the case of AMD,
                                                want the fastest computer available for     the masses. VIA, the minnow in the pond, has
 make sure that the plastic casing is not
                                                graphics, games, and Internet applica-      taken a massive initiative and launched a
                                                tions, look no further than an Intel        motherboard that has an onboard processor
 ■ If you plan to do CPU-intensive tasks
                                                Pentium 4 3.06 GHz. This processor          with all the relevant peripherals. This has also
 such as graphics processing, animation
                                                supports the latest performance-            helped AMD gain market share drastically, with
 and gaming, opt for a CPU that has
                                                enhancing technology from Intel,            market sources saying that in one year it’s
 256 KB or more of L2 cache. The
                                                called HyperThreading.                      doubled its sales figure from 7.5 per cent to
 Pentium 4 Northwood, for example,
                                                     If you cannot afford a Pentium 4       around 16 per cent.
 has 512 KB of L2 cache.
                                                processor, consider the AMD Athlon              This segment has been facing some unique
 ■ The new AMD processors sporting              XP 3000+. If you wish to upgrade in the     problems, especially that of refurbished and
 the Thoroughbred core name require             future, you might want to buy an Intel      repackaged CPUs being sold in the market.
 less core voltage and have lower power         P4 2.0 or 2.53 GHz, which will give rea-    Refurbished or used CPUs from a certain area are
 dissipation, which makes them expen-           sonable power for today’s applications.     bought back by resellers and system integrators
 sive. So if power requirement and heat              If you’re running on a wafer-thin      and shipped to countries that lag behind in
 dissipation are not an issue, you could        budget but still desire power, go in for    terms of technology. There’s also a possibility
 opt for the more affordable Palomino           the AMD Athlon 1.7 GHz.                     that since a couple of CPUs come in tray pack-
 cores.                                              Those who want to spend only the       aging for volume sales, they cost less, and are
 ■ Invest in a good heatsink and fan            absolute minimum can go in for VIA-         hence bought and repackaged in boxes to get
 combination for your processor, even if        based processors, but please bear in        good price margins. Although this phenomenon
 you do not plan to overclock your              mind that you may have to say good-         may not be very prevalent, it does occur at times,
 system.                                        bye to all your high-end games and          especially at times when there is shortage, and
                                                resource-hungry applications.               you have to learn to be on guard.

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Speed of Thought
         ost and performance are the parameters that determine             This information is sent to a small storage region known as Level
         whether a processor fits into the ‘budget’ solution catego-       1 cache. The data cache stores data, and the instruction cache
         ry or is an out and out ‘performance’ solution. The prices        stores the instructions in the program that is currently running.
of mainstream 32-bit processors have fallen substantially and you               The Arithmetic and Logic Unit (ALU) forms the core of the
can now buy an Athlon XP 2400+ GHz processor for about Rs 5000             processor and performs the actual mathematical processing on the
giving you performance equivalent of a Pentium 4 2.2 GHz which             data such as addition and subtraction. There are two ALUs, on
retails at around Rs 9,500.                                                which handles intergers and another that handles decimals or
                                                                           floating-point numbers, such as 75.13. The Floating Point Unit is
Technology Insight                                                         responsible for handling any mathematical operations involving
The processor is a device that receives information from software,         decimal numbers. The Pentium 4 is generally better at calculating
processes it in a predetermined fashion and returns the results.           floating-point numbers, and thus more suited for graphics and
                                                                                                             gaming. The AMDs have decent
                                                                                                             FPU performance but are much
                                            Decision Maker                                                   more coste effective, so the y
                 General desktop use        Home entertainment            Gaming and graphics               may be a good buy for running
                                                                          professionals                     productivity applications.
 You need        Decent performance         Lag-free performance in all   Movies, music, gaming and              The Branch Prediction Unit
                 in office productivity     graphic, multimedia, and      complete home entertainment       inspects the nature of the
                 Applications               video oriented applications   with oodles of processing power   instructions in the instruction
 Look for        Any Celeron/VIA class      A processor with speeds in    An Athlon/Pentium 4 class         cache and decides which ofthe
                 processor with speeds in   excess of 900 MHz             processor with speeds in excess   ALUs is best suited forprocessing
                 excess of 1 GHz                                          of 1.2 GHz                        the data fastest. This is done to
 Our pick        Celeron 1.7 GHZ /AMD       Pentium 2.0 GHz or            Pentium4 3.06 GHz or              ensure that no ALU is left idle.
                 1700+                      AMD 2400+                     AMD XP 3000+                      This streamlinesthe data transfer
 Price range     Up to Rs 5,000             Rs 8,000 to Rs 15,000         Rs 30,000 and above               and thus increases the efficiency
                                                                                                            of the processor.

                                                  1/2 pg H AD

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Power Tips for                                                             Workshop: The right way to install
Intel-based Systems                                                        a processor
The right installation will pave the way for a trouble-                    STEP 1. Preparing the
free operation and let you harness the full potential of
                                                                           Set your motherboard to run
your PC. Keep in mind the following tips while buying and installing
                                                                           at the correct core voltage,
an Intel processor.                                                        bus frequency and clock mul-
Keeping your cool: Since processors are continuously run at high           tiplier setting by consulting
speeds, cooling becomes an important issue—gift your processor a           the manual. In some cases,
high rated heatsink combined with the best cooling fan.                    you may need to do this
Power to run: Due to additional power requirements, all Pentium 4          through the DIP switches on
processors need the extra +12 V rail to run correctly. Therefore,          the motherboard or the Frequency/Voltage settings in the BIOS.
make sure the power supply for your new processor has the neces-
sary four-pin +12 V connector that goes into the ATX12V connector                                         Step 2. Preparing the processor
                                                                                                          Apply thermal paste on your proces-
on your motherboard.
                                                                                                          sor by using a thin plastic visiting
Go for quality: Don’t pinch pennies and choose a cheap mother-
                                                                                                          card—a plastic card is best suited to
board. A high-quality motherboard may cost a few thousand rupees                                          spreading the paste smoothly across
more, but it will guarantee far greater stability and support for the                                     the surface of the processor core.
hardware, the chipset and the BIOS. You’ll also get more features,                                        You can also extend this paste
such as more overclocking options and integrated peripherals.                                             around the core, but smoothen out
BIOS updates: Make sure you buy a motherboard that offers regular          the paste so that there are no air bubbles. Also, the paste should
BIOS and driver updates on the company Web site. Regular BIOS              be in contact with every portion of the processor core.
updates means great support for newer hardware, and helps iron out
any bugs and flaws. Newer BIOS updates can also mean significant           Step 3. Preparing the heatsink
                                                                           Locate the region on the underside
performance boosts.
                                                                           of the heatsink where the proces-
To HyperThread or not?: Intel’s new 3.06 GHz processor now
                                                                           sor is going to touch the processor
incorporates a technology called HyperThreading, which enables the         core. This is usually in the centre of
processor to perform far better when running multiple applications         the flat area of the heatsink. Once
simultaneously. However, this comes at a price, and you should opt         you have ascertained this zone,
for it only if you need high performance for executing multiple            wipe it clean of any dust. Then
tasks. You will also need to confirm if your motherboard supports          evenly spread some thermal paste,
HyperThreading.                                                            carefully avoiding any air bubbles.
A question of memory: The current scenario gives users a choice of
SDRAM, DDR and RDRAM memory in a Pentium 4-based system—                                                            Step 4. Seat the processor
                                                                                                                    in the socket
DDR memory offers high data transfer bandwidth and is priced lower
                                                                                                                    Clamp the processor
than RDRAM. However, RDRAM’s higher data transfer rate makes it
                                                                                                                    firmly into the socket on the
ideally suited to demanding applications such as gaming, CAD mod-                                                   motherboard and see that it is
elling and graphics-intensive, texture-heavy applications. Also, RDRAM                                              correctly aligned with the pins.
needs to be installed in pairs, unlike DDR or SDRAM—this needs to be                                                Do so without forcing the
kept in mind while buying memory modules. These three types of                                                      processor.
memories cannot be used on the same system, so choose with care as
you will not be able to change your memory type without changing
the motherboard, if you need to do so in the future.                       Step 5. Install the heatsink
Willamette or Northwood?: While the newer Northwood Pentium                Place the heatsink on the proces-
                                                                           sor gently, but firmly—and take
4 processors—built around the 0.13-micron fabrication process—are
                                                                           care not to damage the core of
more popular than their older 0.18-micron Willamette counterparts,
                                                                           the processor while doing this.
the latter is still available in the market. Willamette processors draw    Make sure that the heatsink is
more power and therefore generate more heat. Also, Northwood               seated such that it is in complete
processors integrate twice the amount of L2 cache (512 KB) as com-         contact with the processor core.
pared to 256 KB integrated by the Willamettes.                             After it has been positioned, fasten the clasps into the retention
Special drivers: Intel supplies drivers for the new 800 series chipsets    hooks of the processor socket to ensure that it is in firm contact
(including the 845, 845-DDR and 850 chipsets) called the Intel                                                with the processor.
Application Accelerator driver. These increase the performance of your
IDE devices significantly. They offer better boot times and also surpass                                      Step 6. Connect the CPU fan
                                                                                                              Finally, connect the CPU fan on
the 137 GB limitation of the IDE drives in the native Windows drivers.
                                                                                                              the correct point on the mother-
Application support for special instruction sets: Intel processors
                                                                                                              board. Make sure that the heatsink
have always had special instruction sets such as SSE2 that help deliv-                                        assembly is firmly seated—there
er better performance with certain types of data. You may need to                                             should be no play in it. You’re
install specific patches that let these applications use the special                                          now ready to zoom!
instruction sets.

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Power Tips for
Athlon-based systems
Consider the following steps to build a reliable and
high-performance AMD-based system:
Take care while mounting: Processors have a very delicate core as the
silicon is exposed on top of the chip. Therefore, great care needs to be
taken to ensure that the processor is not damaged by rough and incor-
rect installation of the heatsink. Ensure that the heatsink is installed flat
down, do not try to slide it in, as this could render it useless.
Keep your cool: AMD processors are extremely susceptible to heat
problems, and it is critical that they be kept cool. Therefore, the CPU
fan has to be plugged in before powering on the system, otherwise the
CPU and possibly the motherboard would be damaged within seconds
of switching on the system. Also see that the CPU fan is correctly
mounted on the system using thermal paste so as to maintain good
contact between the heatsink and the processor.
Stick to ratings: Always use a CPU heatsink and fan combination that’s
been certified by AMD. If you prefer to buy a separate one, make sure
it is rated and can run with your particular processor, as Athlon has
stringent cooling requirements.
Power considerations: If you plan to use the faster Athlon processors
(XP 2000+ and above) along with power-hungry peripherals such as a
CD-Writer, large hard disks and a powerful graphics card, use a high-
quality power supply with a rating of at least 300 Watts. Most low-end
power supplies cannot deliver clean power to systems built on these
components, resulting in an unstable system.
Follow the instructions: AMD processors also have specialised instruc-
tion sets like 3DNow!, which streamline the power of certain applica-
tions. To realise the full potential of these processors, make sure that
your applications integrate support for the special instructions. In some
cases, you might need to load special patches to enable the support.
Memory matters: AMD processors let you choose between SDRAM
and DDR memory. While SDRAM is the cheaper of the two, DDR
memory offers higher bandwidths and is continually evolving in
terms of technology and speed. SDRAM is a good cost-effective
option if you don’t plan to run memory-intensive applications.
However, DDR’s inherent speed and falling prices make it a good
investment for the future.
Which processor?: AMD gives you three choices in processors. While
the Duron range offers reasonably good performance given its price, it
makes sense to choose the Athlons, as Duron processors are on their
way out. Here again, you get to choose between the older Palomino
processors built around the 0.18-micron process and the new 0.13-
micron Thoroughbred core. While the latter boasts higher clock speeds,
lower power consumption and consequently better performance, not
all motherboards support them. Ensure that your motherboard inher-
ently supports these processors before buying them. Optionally, you
could download a BIOS update that would enable the support, if your
motherboard allows it.
Don’t scrounge: A cheap motherboard will not only ruin your proces-
sor, but will also put the stability and reliability of your system at risk.
Also, there are plenty of features that a good-quality motherboard
allows you in the form of better hardware support, cutting-edge fea-
tures, even support for overclocking. A branded motherboard will also
feature BIOS and driver updates on its Web site.
Drive it in: Ensure that you download and run your AMD motherboard
with the latest chipset drivers for high performance—and to eliminate
any bugs or compatibility issues. Visit the chipset manufacturer’s Web
site frequently for driver updates.

           47                                                                   JUNE 2003
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 Also Remember…
 ■ If you are on a very tight
                                                            The Future of CPUs
 budget and only need basic
 office productivity, you
 should go for the low-cost
                                M       icroprocessors have been around for over
                                        three decades. It was in 1971 that Intel
                                introduced the 4004, its very first processor—
                                                                                       be. Newer processors will
                                                                                       need mainboards that have
                                                                                       chipsets specifically designed for
 Cyrix MIII processor from      which ran at 108 KHz to power the Busicom              them. A good example is the Intel 3.06
 VIA. This works with any       calculator. This started a revolution by making        GHz processor, which supports 800 MHz FSB.
 socket-370 motherboard.        the device intelligent enough to carry mathe-          This will not work at 800 MHz FSB on older
                                matical functions. This processor was packed           boards, and clock down to 533 MHz. Hence
 ■ If you play a lot of         with total of 134,000 transistors.                     one will have to buy a new mainboard to sup-
 games you need to look               It would be ridiculous to compare any            port the gigahertz monster.
 for a processor that sup-      modern day processor to the pioneering but
 ports special instruction      lowly 4004. Current processors, such as the            64-bit Computing
 sets like 3DNow! or SSE.       Intel Pentium 4 3.06 GHz Prescott, support 800         After having tested the route to success by
                                MHz FSB. These processors are designed                 increasing the core clock of the process and
 ■ For high-end 3D design       around a dual execution unit architecture,             FSB, what could be next on vendors’ minds?
 and CAD applications, you      delivering the extra performance you                      The answer: 64-bit architecture over the cur-
 will require a processor       might get from two CPUs in a single                          rently available 32-bit architecture.
 with the highest clock         package.                                                              Processors will soon embrace 64-
 speed you can afford and             The future promises lots of                                    bit architecture. The Opteron from
 the largest amount of          excitement in the processor                                               AMD and the Itanium2 from
 cache on board. This           arena. Irrespective of                                                       Intel are just two of the
 would make the Pentium         demand CPUs continue                                                          most-talked about 64-bit
 and Athlon processors          to get faster, hitting not                                                  processors. These processors
 your best choice.              only 4 GHz but also the next                                             are currently available only for
                                big jump to in speed to 10 GHz.                                      the server segment, but processors
                                Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Intel, recent-                              for the desktop should be available in
                                ly said that Intel’s engineers are adding                     a few years.
                                25 MHz every week-and that this will                            It will take some time for software ven-
                                come down to a day in a few years. While                 dors to come up will software optimised for
                                this is a tiny fraction of current clock speeds, its   these processors—a time-consuming task, but
                                still an inexorable climb to more speed.               one that is inevitable. There are other vendors
                                      The 386SX processor in supported not             such as Sun, IBM and HP that are in the race to
                                more than 16 MB of memory, but the Itanium2            keep their customer base intact by offering 64-
                                processor, which is waiting in the wings, will         bit platforms of their own, or implementing
                                have as much as 6 MB of level 2 cache on it.           Intel and AMD solutions in their architecture.
                                The new processor will also consume lesser
                                power. The lesser power requirement translates         Embedded chips
                                into lesser heat dissipation, which in turn            The future will see embedded microprocessors
                                means a longer life span. All this is made pos-        grow unfettered. While embedded chips, which
                                sible by developing new techniques that enable         are inexpensive, are often treated as poor
                                vendors to make smaller transistors that are so        cousins, they still account for 98 per cent of
                                small that sub-atomic quantum effects become           total processors sold. Typically innovation
                                important; These techniques reduce width of            developed for more expensive chips trickle
                                wires that make up processor circuitry, lower          down to embedded chips in a year or two. And
                                current leakage by improving the fabrication           some companies focus exclusively on develop-
                                process, and more.                                     ing embedded chips, which requires a special
                                      As far as developing better performing           kind of hardware-software synergy.
                                processors goes, the common technique is to
                                simply push for ever greater core clock and FSB        In the end…
                                speeds to get higher performance, while others         There’s a whole world existing outside the realm
                                approaches from companies such as IBM take             of Intel and AMD. Processors from these ven-
                                the route of fabricating two processors on one         dors are used more in the handheld and mobile
                                chip to achieve the same goal of better per-           consumer products because of their lower power
                                formance. Workstation-level computing power            consumption and affordable price. But since
                                continues its migration to desktops.                   such vendors are positioned in a completely dif-
                                      But as newer processors with newer archi-        ferent segment, they have very little presence in
                                tectures are released, the upgrade path becomes        desktop computing, but will definitely be mak-
                                correspondingly more difficult than it used to         ing a place in our homes and offices soon.

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      Buyer’s Guide

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                                           he mother of all PC components—the             be removed, and highly integrated mother-
                                           motherboard—is the backbone of your            boards often require non-standard cabinets.
                                           PC. It’s also called the mainboard (or         Moreover, replacing a single faulty component
                                    ‘mobo’ for short), and holds the processor,           may mean buying a new motherboard.
                                    memory and any add-on boards. It’s located                 Consequently, those parts of the system
                                    inside the cabinet and is the component all           whose specification changes fastest—such as
                                    your peripherals plug into. If you open up the        RAM, CPU or graphics—tend to remain in
                                        case, it’s the thing that looks like a big        sockets or slots for easy replacement. Similarly,
                                               circuit board—usually green, but it        parts that not all users need, such as
                                                  can be any colour.                      networking or SCSI, are usually left out of the
                                                    Oddly enough, the motherboard         base specification to keep costs down.
                                           seldom receives much attention. Early               In the late 1990s, the trend was towards
                                      PCs had minimum integrated devices,                 putting peripherals designed as integrated chips
                                    generally ports for a keyboard and a cassette         directly on to the motherboard. Initially, this
                                    deck for storage. Everything else, including a        was confined to audio and graphic chips—
                                    display adapter and floppy or hard disk               obviating the need for separate sound or
                                    controllers, were add-on components that were         graphic cards—but in time the peripherals
                                    connected via expansion slots.                        integrated in this way became more diverse,
                                        Over time, more devices have been                 and included items such as SCSI, LAN and even
                                    integrated into the motherboard. It’s a slow          RAID controllers. While there are cost benefits
                                    trend though—I/O ports and disk controllers           to this approach, the biggest downside is the
                                    were often mounted on expansion cards as              restriction of future upgrade options.
                                    recently as 1995. Other components, such as                A board with onboard features is more
                                    graphics, networking, SCSI and sound, usually         popular among branded PCs. If you buy a
                                    remain discrete.                                      system from a big computer manufacturer,
                                        Several manufacturers have experimented           you’re likely to get a fairly recent motherboard.
                                    with various levels of integration, building in       You’ll find that manufacturers often switch
                                    some or even all these components. However,           motherboards and other components without
                                    there are drawbacks. It’s hard to upgrade             notice. They put in the latest technology they
                                    specifications if an integrated component can’t       can find. However, if you buy your machine
                                                                                          from a local dealer, you need to carefully select
                                                                                          the right motherboard, as such dealers tend to
 What is a chipset?                                                                       give you a motherboard that’s average at best—
                                                                                          after all, they need to keep prices low.
 The word chipset is a term that is commonly used to refer to the core logic of a              While selecting a motherboard, check out
 motherboard. The motherboard is built around a chipset that supports a specific          specific sections such as USB ports—the more
 class of processors and a specific type of memory. The main system chipset con-          the merrier. If you have a digital video camera
 tains the logic circuits that contain a blueprint of how the processor, memory and       and want to connect it to your PC, make sure
 other integrated components on the motherboard are meant to communicate. It              you ask about FireWire or USB 2 connectivity.
 acts as a hub, controlling the transfer of data between the processor, its cache, sys-   Most motherboards do not come with FireWire
 tem buses and peripherals.                                                               ports, even today. FireWire add-on boards are
     The timely transfer of data without errors is probably the most important func-      pretty cheap nowadays, so you won’t have to
 tion of a system chipset and its proficiency in performing this task dictates exactly    pay much extra. Digital video cameras today
 how well the system as a whole performs. Apart from the main system chipset              support USB 2.0, which is much faster than
 which handles the core components (and is commonly referred to as the North              USB 1.x, and comparable to FireWire in speed.
 Bridge), most motherboards also have a separate South Bridge that integrates,                 If you’re concerned about upgrading,
 manages and controls all the ‘external’ peripherals such as IDE, ISA, PCI, USB, etc.     find out how much memory and what type
     A chipset defines the feature set and the performance of a motherboard—and,          of memory your computer can handle. Ask
 by extension, the entire system. The maximum speed of a processor that the               how many PCI slots the motherboard has,
 chipset supports is important; for any further upgrades you’ll need to change only       and how many will be filled up when you buy
 the processor. For example, if a chipset supports up to 2.8 GHz CPUs, and you            your system.
 decide to buy a 2 GHz, you could upgrade to a 2.8 GHz CPU over a period of time               If you buy a dinky little motherboard that
 without having to invest in a new motherboard.                                           can only take two DDR DIMMs, or have only
     The type of memory that a chipset supports is also important because there are       two USB ports, and you end up needing three,
 three types of memory running at different speeds—SDRAM (the slowest type),              you will be in trouble. So keep this in mind, just
 DDR SDRAM (faster than SDRAM) and RDRAM (theoretically the fastest). The DDR             in case you need to upgrade suddenly to
 variant is all set to become the new standard for memory as its prices are falling       support new hardware or software. Ideally, you
 and RDRAM is being increasingly marginalised.                                            should buy a feature-rich motherboard that
                                                                                          doesn’t need upgrading often.

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                                                           If you prefer the Intel    motherboards are more in demand.
                                                     platform, the Mercury KOB        Motherboards supporting Celeron and PIII are
                                                     845G-NDSmx would be the          also available in the market, but there are few
                                                     best buy due to its low price.   takers. Entry-level boards for both AMD and
                                                     If it’s sheer performance you    Intel are available in the range of Rs 3,500 to
                                                     want, the MSI 845PE-Max2         Rs 3,800, and with processor prices falling in
                                                     would be the right choice.       the future, even motherboards may see a
                                                           On the AMD front,          plunge in prices to the tune of 5 to 8 per cent
                                                     the MSI KT Ultra 400             in the mid-range and premium segments.
                                                     would give you top-notch              With market demand also gaining
                                                     performance. On the value-       momentum in smaller cities and towns, the
                                                     for-money plank, the ASUS        focus is on low-cost PCs, and vendors offering
                                                     A7S266 offers reasonably         real value for money are the ones who stand to
                                                     good performance.                gain. The demand for high-end motherboards,
                                                                                      once concentrated in metros, has now moved
                                                     Market overview                  to B and C class cities all over India.
                                  With technological updates happening at a                Recently, some new brands have become
                                  brisk pace, new and innovative features such as     available in small pockets of India. Prominent
                                  Serial ATA, USB 2.0 and RAID are needed to stay     among these are Jetway, Proteam, Epox and
                                  ahead of the competition.                           AOpen. These new entrants are focusing on the
                                      AOpen has, for instance, added FM Radio         value segment, with various chipsets. When
                                  on its motherboard, making it a complete            talking about the most popular chipset, Intel’s
                                  entertainment machine. Another trend is the         845G supporting SDRAM memory is hot,
                                  shrinking size—the latest entrant from VIA is       followed by others such as 845E for DDR. SiS,
                                  almost half the size of its competitors, but        with its 650 chipset, is the one of the front-
                                  offers comparable performance.                      runners in this transitional phase, supporting
                                      The major players in terms of volume are        both SDRAM to DDR. With its low cost of
                                  Mercury, Digi-Link, DFI, Krypton and HIS.           around Rs 4,000, this is indeed a great buy.
                                  Brands such as MSI and ASUS, which are                   Another important—and very recent—
                                  priced slightly on the higher side, are             trend is that DDR memory is fast replacing
                                  preferred more by technology enthusiasts and        SDRAM. In the near future, DDR RAM will
                                  users looking in for performance. Since P4          become an entry-level feature, rendering
                                  processors sell the most, P4-compliant              SDRAM obsolete.

          Buying Tips
      ! To get the best deal, always poke around a few shops          many boards available in the market might not support the
 before you make the final decision. This will give you a fair        clock speed of your processor. Even if it does, it may not
 idea of what’s currently available in the market. The best way       support your CPU’s fast FSB and underclock it, lowering the
 to buy the ideal board is to first read reviews and then look        performance.
 around for either the same board or its nearest variant in the       ! With your applications in mind, ensure that your
 market.                                                              motherboard is sufficiently feature-rich. In particular, make
 ! A motherboard may present itself in various guises. The MSI        sure it has enough PCI and memory slots for future expansion.
 845 MAX2, for example, is available in Pure, FIR and FISR            ! If cost is not a hindrance, opt for a motherboard that has
 variants. Pure is the base model, and the others have certain        both an onboard video chipset and an AGP slot. This will give
 feature additions such as RAID and USB 2.0, but for minimal          you greater flexibility while making future upgrades. Also
 increments in price. Don’t buy the costliest board if you think      check whether the AGP slot supports the latest 8X transfer
 you will never use the additional features. Buying extra             rate. Many new cards now support AGP8X and future cards
 features means additional maintenance of drivers and ports.          will run on this.
 ! If you’re a hardcore gamer or a fan of overclocking, check         ! Ensure that your motherboard has an onboard sound
 that the space around the CPU is spacious enough for you to          chipset (and, if you so require, integrated Ethernet). Newer
 install a larger heatsink-fan combination to keep things cool.       boards also support 5.2 channel Dolby Digital and Gigabit
 Go in for a board that allows overclocking of FSB in steps of 1      Ethernet, which have started showing up on some high-end
 MHz, and allows core voltage adjustment.                             boards targeted at desktop users.
 ! While buying a motherboard, ensure that its chipset                ! While buying a motherboard, check whether the board
 supports both, the speed of your processor and the speed of          supports the type of memory your system has—buyers of DDR-
 the Front Side Bus (FSB). This is very critical today, where         SDRAM should be especially careful in this regard.

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                                    Motherboard                                                              Also Remember…
                                                                                                             ! Always check the
The right base                                         There are generally three types of slots available:   maximum CPU speed
The scenario in the motherboard market has             Socket 370 (for Via), Socket A and Socket 478.        supported.
radically changed over the past year or so.            Chipset: Different chipsets are used to support
There are now choices for every single type of         functions that are offered by the board—the           !  Look for onboard USB
consumer need, beginning from ‘plain jane’             RAM and, more importantly, the processor. For         ports, options for
motherboards, to fully featured powerhouses,           example, the Intel 845 chipset supports Pen-          additional USB ports and
for every single type of mainstream processor.         tium 4 and DDR SDRAM. AMD processors                  also for Firewire ports.
However, technology changes so quickly that            (Duron and Athlon) require VIA KT 333 or 400
yesterday’s powerhouses become out-                         chipset-based motherboards.                      ! Onboard thermal and
dated tomorrow. Owning the                                         Interface slots: These slots are used     fan speed monitoring are a
‘best there is’, is a short                                              to connect add-on cards such        must for servers and AMD
lived     pleasure.                                                            as a soundcard or a net-      users.
Thus, keep-                                                                           work card, to the
ing up with                                                                                  computer.       !  Voltage and Bus speed
the technology                                                                                 There are     tweaking, for overclocking
curve for mother-                                                                       primarily two        is an added advantage.
boards could mean an                                                                types of slots found
investment of thousands of                                                    on today’s mother-             !  Buy an ATX or Micro
rupees each year.                                                        boards—PCI and AGP. PCI             power supply—the ATX
    There are ways to avoid this con-                               cards are the most commonly              power supply has better
stant upheaval of hardware, and it                             available, whereas the AGP interface is       power management
begins by choosing the right technology and              meant solely for high-speed graphics cards.         features.
feature set. This alone can ensure that your           RAM slots: DDR RAM is the most popular
PC is ready to tackle the next-generation of           option today, with SD RAM fading into obliv-          ! The higher the number
hardware.                                              ion. Most motherboards have at least two              of IDE devices supported.
                                                       slots, but more expensive models have four            the better.
Jargon busters                                         slots for RAM. Remember that the total
The primary function of a motherboard is to            amount of RAM that you can install in your            !  Look for support for ATA-
provide a base upon which other components,            system is also dependant on your mother-              133 IDE, Serial ATA
such as the processor and RAM, can reside.             board chipset.                                        standards.
Since different types of components reside on          BIOS: Every motherboard carries a special cir-
the motherboard, it also has to be capable of          cuitry called the BIOS (Basic Input Output Sys-       ! Check for the highest
co-ordinating the flow of information between          tem), which exists on a Read Only Memory              FSB (Front Side Bus) speed
these components. It also orchestrates the             (ROM) chip. The ‘jumperless’ motherboards             supported.
transfer of data and information within the            that are the norm today, allow all parameters
system.                                                to be automatically detected and configured.          !  Support for ECC (Error
                                                       For example, the processor core voltage and           Correction Capability) RAM
Smart tips                                             clock multiplier, and the configuration and           is advisable.
Processor interface: This is the socket on the         control of integrated peripherals are all auto-
motherboard that the processor is mounted on.          detected.                                             ! Integrated features, such
                                                                                                             as onboard soundcard and
                                                                                                             display card (for SoHo
                                         Decision Maker                                                      users) will save you a pretty
                Bare necessities            Future resistant                Performance seeker
You need        Basic support for current  Flexibility and upgradeability   Maximum performance and          !  Look for additional
                processors and peripherals                                  overclockability.                features, such as Wake-on-
Look for        Minimum three PCI slots   Minimum five PCI slots,           The latest chipset for your      Modem-ring (integrated
                with integrated sound and three RAM slots, an AGP 4x                                         into the BIOS)—it allows the
                                                                            processor and options for
                                                                                                             computer to power on
                video in the Micro-ATX    slot in the ATX format.           easy over clocking
                                                                                                             automatically for receiving
Our pick        Mercury KOB650GL            DFI NT72-SA (Intel), ASUS       MSI 845PE Max2 (Intel),MSI
                NDSMx (Intel), ASUS         A7S266 (AMD)                    KT4 Ultra (AMD)
                A7S266 (AMD)
Price range     Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000        Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000            Rs 10,000 and above

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 Make sense of dealer-talk
 ACPI: Advanced Configuration and Power Interface is a power              control the interfaces between the system processor, RAM, I/O
 management specification that allows the OS to control the power         devises and adapter cards.
 distributed to the computer’s devices.                                   CMOS: Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductors are chips
 AGP: Accelerated Graphics Port is a PCI-based interface that was         that hold the basic start-up information for the BIOS.
 designed for demands of 3D graphics applications. The 32-bit AGP         Form factor: This is an industry term for the size, shape, power
 channel directly links the graphics controller to the main memory.       supply type and external connector type of the PCB (personal
 While the channel runs at only 66 MHz, it supports data                  computer board) or motherboard. The standard form factors are
 transmission during both the rising and falling ends of the clock        the AT and ATX, although TYAN also makes some Baby-AT boards.
 cycle, yielding an effective speed of 133 MHz.                           FSB (Front Side Bus): The FSB connects CPU to main memory
 BIOS: Basic Input and Output System program resides in the ROM           (RAM) and is a critical component in determining the speed of
 chip, and provides basic instructions for controlling the hardware.      your computer.
 Both, the OS and application software, use BIOS routines to ensure       IDE: Integrated Device Electronics is a simple, self-contained hard
 compatibility.                                                           drive interface, that is most commonly used in desktop systems.
 Bus: This is a data pathway. The term is used especially to refer to     ISA: The Industry Standard Architecture is a slower 8-bit or 16-bit
 the connection between the processor and system memory, and              Bus that is only used with very old hardware.
 between the processor and PCI or ISA local buses. Local buses are        PCI: The Peripheral Component Interconnect is a 32-bit local bus,
 those that operate within a single system (as opposed to a network       faster than ISA, and the current standard for add-ons such as
 bus, which connects multiple systems).                                   network and sound cards.
 Cache: This is a temporary, fast storage area that holds data from       RDRAM: Developed by Rambus, Inc, RDRAM is the fastest memory
 a slower storage device for quick access as needed by an                 technology used. While the more common SDRAM delivers data at
 application. Access time is fast using a cache, because the needed       a maximum speed of 133 MHz, RDRAM currently transfers data at
 information is stored in the SRAM instead of in the slower DRAM.         up to 1200 MHz.
 Note that the cache is also much smaller than your regular               UltraDMA/33/66/100: This is a fast version of the old DMA
 memory: a typical cache size is 512 KB, while you may have as            channel. UltraDMA is also called UltraATX. Without UltraDMA
 much as 2 GB of regular memory.                                          controller, your system cannot take advantage of the higher data
 Chipset or core logic: Two or more integrated circuits which             transmission rates of the new UltraDMA/UltraATA HDDs.

Tips On Installing Motherboards
The motherboard is the physical and electronic foundation of your         get in the way of mounting the CPU heatsink.
system. Here are a few tips that will help smoothen the installation      Make sure your heatsink does not push against
process:                                                                  these, as this could damage or dislodge them from
Get it set right                                                          the motherboard. Also, if you have a special heatsink,
Before you install the motherboard, consult the accompanying man-         make sure it does not push against other surface-mounted compo-
ual. You may have installed motherboards numerous times, but              nents such as capacitors next to the processor socket.
manufacturers have addenda that describe special considerations or        Anchor the board
last-minute changes incorporated into the board. Also, mark all the       Make sure that your motherboard is comfortably seated in the cabi-
jumper settings in the manual tables so that they correspond to your      net. Ideally your cabinet should have a detachable backplate, which
processor, RAM and other system components.                               lets you mount the motherboard using the spacers and mounting
Handle with caution                                                       screws outside the system. Ensure that the motherboard has anchor
The motherboard has very sensitive electronic components that are         points near all the extremities of the board so that it’s firmly seated
susceptible to damage by static charge. Therefore, ensure that you        and all edges are adequately supported.
are properly grounded and that the motherboard is kept in its anti-       Tighten later
static packaging until the time of installation.                          Most of the time, one would tighten all the screws of the mother-
Set the jumpers                                                           board on placing it into the system. A better option is to lightly fas-
Set the jumpers to their correct positions before installing the moth-    ten all the mounting screws so that there’s still a bit of play in the
erboard into the system cabinet. It’s far easier to access certain        motherboard after it has been mounted. Tighten the motherboard
jumpers when the board is outside the system.                             mounting screws after the rest of the add-on cards have been
     Mount the processor, heatsink and RAM beforehand. It can be          placed in their respective PCI or AGP slots. This eliminates any
quite difficult to mount the processor after the board is seated in the   unnecessary use of force to get cards into a slot.
cabinet; since the power and IDE cables get in the way. This also         Attach the IDE cables
allows you to visually verify if the heatsink is properly seated on the   The IDE cables are usually situated near one edge of the mother-
processor. Remember to connect the CPU fan to the correct point           board. Make sure the board is not bent when plugging in the
on the motherboard.                                                       ends of the cables. If you’re not careful, this could cause break-
Ensure a comfortable fit                                                  ages in the delicate tracks on the motherboard surface, rendering
The power conditioning capacitors next to the processor socket can        it useless.

          56                                                                                                                         JUNE 2003
Attach the CPU fan                                                      Listen for diagnostic beeps
This cannot be stressed enough. Ensure that the CPU fan is              Remember to connect the motherboard speaker. Study the mother-
plugged into the correct point on the motherboard. Failing to do        board manual for deciphering the sequence of the diagnostic beeps
so could result in your CPU and motherboard being permanently           that are emitted when the motherboard is powered up—a single short
damaged and all this could happen within seconds of powering            beep means things are in order. Otherwise, you need to diagnose
up the system, leaving you with absolutely no time to realise           what’s wrong by listening to the beep sequence. Check if all fans are
your mistake!                                                           spinning, and that the cards and RAM modules are properly seated.

                                     The ABC of Motherboards
       he overall performance of a computer system is dependent         happens when a large amount of data is suddenly pushed through
       on its ability to perform a collection of tasks optimally. It    the bus, which then collapses due the load).
       depends on various specialized subsystems to perform these
different tasks—the processor subsystem, the disk subsystem, the        Graphics subsystem
memory subsystem and the graphics subsystem.                            The graphics subsystem deals with the video performance of the
                                                                                system. This is the part that actually generates the images
The processor subsystem                                                              that you see on your display. The realism of comput-
A motherboard is designed from chipset up                                                er games depends to a large extent on the total
to support a specific type or class of                                                 amount of bandwidth offered by AGP. More impor-
processor. The chipset it incorporates                                             tantly, however, the graphics card needs continuos flow
will therefore determine how the mother-                                       of data from both the processor and the memory. Although
board performs and the basic feature set that it                           the performance of this subsystem is largely dependent on the
offers. For instance, since the Pentium 4 processor                     graphics card installed, you will be amazed to find large differ-
works differently when compared to even the Pentium III,                ences in performance due to the use of different chipsets and the
the motherboard design is varied to take advantage of the higher        manner in which they are implemented in a motherboard.
performance available. It needs to take advantage of the higher
clock speeds at which the processors runs and also the higher
(quad-pumped to 400 MHz) FSB frequency ( Athlon XP requires
266 MHz of FSB). The ability to integrate a particular type
of processor without compatibility issues and then to fully
utilize its potential performance is the motherboards first
and foremost goal.

Memory subsystem
The memory subsystem is probably the most critical subsystem
because it needs to constantly feed the processor with data. To
squeeze every last ounce of performance, the memory subsystem
must have very tight memory timings and implementation.
Despite the presence of strict memory standards, there will be
slight variation in the memory modules produced by different
manufacturers. The motherboard has to ensure that the memo-
ry—slots can handle these possible variations and at the same
time maintain accurate and tight timing cycles to ensure error-free
and high-speed data throughput.

Disk subsystem
Performance within this subsystem depends heavily on the
chipsets implementation of an IDE controller. An under-per-
                                                                                 1/4 th AD
forming IDE subsystem can cripple performance when it comes
to video editing and other data-hungry, streaming media-based
applications. Each time that these applications read or write data
from or to the disk, instructions are passed to the drive’s con-
troller’s device driver. The driver then pumps data through the
PCI bus to the IDE controller. Improper implementation of this
part of the entire subsystem can severely hamper the entire data
transfer process. This happens when the PCI bus has not been iso-
lated from noise from other devices on the motherboard which
causes data corruption and lock ups due to large file transfers (this

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                                  The Future of Motherboards
           otherboards now have Serial ATA support, Dolby               specifically involved in the research of a
           Digital sound and RAID controllers onboard. Support          new form of solid-state memory called
           for Dual Channel DDR, connectors for card readers, IR        Magnetoresistive RAM (MRAM). This type of RAM
ports and onboard LED indicators for fault diagnostics are some         uses the principle of alignment of magnetic particles as the basis
other futuristic features that have not made much inroads into          of storing zeroes and ones in a digital system.
mainstream motherboards.                                                     An inherent advantage with MRAM is that it since it’s
Chipset: New processors need newer chipsets to support them.            based on the principle of magnetism; it retains whatever
Some of these are the 875P chipset from Intel, nForce2 from             information is contained in it even after power is switched off.
nVidia, UniChrome KM400 from VIA (for the AMD processor),               Additionally, these elements do not need an electric charge to
SiS655 and SiS748-Dual channel DDR333 (for the P4), and                 retain information, hence power consumption of these devices
DDR400 with support for AGP8X (for the AMD). These are,                 is minimal compared to that of DRAM. Finally, with the
however, found only in high-end boards.                                 absence of the delays associated with transferring electricity
    There are some very recent launches for the AMD family—             between the storage elements for retaining the information,
nForce3 Pro 150, 250 and Intel has released the I875P (earlier          MRAM is expected to be up to 30 times faster than DRAM.
known as Canterwood) and Springdale chipsets. nForce3 Pro is                  MRAM is thus poised to give rise to a new breed of
build specifically for single processor workstations. nVidia has                  instantly-on computing devices.
bundled the latest goodies with nForce3 Pro’s single                                        The technology is already up and running in
chip design such as Serial ATA/ATA-133 with                                                  some high-tech labs around the world. But
RAID.                                                                                              only after the fabrication process
    nForce3 Pro is to be a                                                                              for this memory becomes
single chip design, making                                                                                   commercially viable will it
the    manufacturing           and                                                                                 makes its way into
designing of boards easy for                                                                                         mainstream home
third-party manufacturers. It’s built                                                                             PCs and handhelds.
using 0.15 micron fabrication process,                                                                      Graphics support: The
allowing room for more features. The single                                                            nForce chipset was the first in
chip will most likely make over-heating less of a                                                 recent times to deliver a decent
problem, and reduce latency between the                                                      onboard graphic solution. As newer games
motherboard sub-systems, which will translate to                                        and ever-demanding software are released, users
increased platform performance.                                                    are always looking for that extra bit of graphical
    The I875P chipset will support DDR-400 memory and                         processing power. The AGP 8X graphics interface has
with quad-pumped 800 MHz FSB and the new HyperThreaded                  already become the standard interface in most boards today.
P4 processors. The Canterwood chipset has the tweaked ‘turbo            Interfaces: Support for up to 10 USB 2.0 ports, IEEE 1394
mode’ PAT (Performance Acceleration Technology), named                  (FireWire), card readers etc., are some features that will soon
after CEO Pat Gelsinger. The Springdale chipset, on the other           become standard with every motherboard. As users acquire more
hand, will be available in three flavours—865G, 865P                    and more devices with PC connectivity—such as digital cameras
and 865PE.                                                              and cell phones—it will become necessary to have such features
    The year 2004 might see the replacement of Canterwood               on board. PCI-X, which has a 1 GB transfer rate, has a
and Springdale by the Grantsdale chipset. This will sport the           performance boost of at least 32 times over the current PCI
cost-efficient LGA (Land Grid Array) 775 pin layout which will          standard. PCI-X standard is backward-compatible and therefore
oust the current BGA(Ball Grid Array) and PGA(Pin Grid Array)           will support PCI cards as well.
pin layout. There’s going to extensive replacement of current           DPS: DPS (dual power system) is a new technology that
generation chipsets across the board, and support for new               enhances the stability of the system. This technique allows the
technology as well. But all this is targeted mainly at the high-end     board to have a total of six phases for power circuitry—twice
segment, and will take some time to percolate to the majority of        the number recommended in the standard motherboard
home users.                                                             design guideline. A 3-phase power circuit Dual Power Voltage
RAM Support: Intel still continues to offer support for RDRAM           Regulator Module (DPVRM) daughter card can be added on the
by releasing its last RDRAM chipset (the 850e), but there’s zero        board, to help provide more stable power circuits.
support from other chip manufacturers. DDR memory is what’s             Design: Motherboards are likely to go both bigger and smaller.
being pushed in a big way by major mainboard chipset                    With additional features going into standard motherboards, it
manufacturers. Gigabyte has already released its board based on         might get bigger rather than smaller. However, single chip
SiS655, supporting Dual Channel DDR memory. Memory                      designs and high level of integration will drive sizes down as
supporting dual-channel DDR is pretty expensive at the                  well. Companies as ViA have come out with a complete
moment, because of the limited availability. But as time passes,        platform known as IDEN, which has an onboard C3 processor
prices will fall to realistic levels. The older SDRAM memory is still   running at 1 GHz, 5.1 channel sound and graphics. The board
around but will diminish soon.                                          is right now targeted at basic office users and comes in a very
    Manufacturers such as IBM, Motorola and Infineon are                small form factor.

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     Buyer’s Guide

                                                        This section is sponsored by

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      59                                                                               JUNE 2003
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60                  JUNE 2003
         t’s hard for a monitor to remain incon-            LCD monitors, on the other hand, use a
         spicuous. While others components              completely different technology. These mon-
         shrink with each passing year, monitors        itors are not only more compact, they also
     appear to be getting bulkier—if you ignore         consume less power. Inevitably, they are also
     the snazzy new LCD monitors, that is.              more expensive than their CRT counterparts,
          Yes,     monitors      are                                     because of the complexity of
     undoubtedly bulky; they hog                                         the technology and the high
     a lot of power and take up a                                        rejection rate during manu-
     lot of desk space. However,                                         facture. LCD monitors are
     the monitor is often a long                                         also much brighter than CRT
     term companion for any PC                                           ones.
     user, since it does not need to                                         The only problem with
     be updated very often—good                                          LCD displays was that the
     ones remain trouble-free for                                        person using it had to sit
     years.                                                              exactly in front of it—you
          The monitor is also one                                        cannot view the content on
     of the more important things                                        the screen from an angle.
     to consider while buying or                                         This problem has been taken
     assembling your computer. First of all, the        care of, to some extent in current LCDs. The
     display, which depends on the monitor and          phosphor in CRT monitors, on the other
     the graphics card, is one of the more expen-       hand, emit light in all directions, making it
     sive components that you would buy—it              possible to view content even from an angle
     makes up roughly a quarter of the cost of          of 180-degrees.
     your entire computer system!                           The sales of LCD screens are picking up,
          Monitors available in the market today        especially in the office users segment in
     support 16.7 million colours and are capable       metro cities. Since some LCD screens can be
     of displaying a resolution of up to 1,600 x        wall-mounted, these have found a place in
     1,200 pixels, at refresh rates as high as 85 Hz.   departmental stores and public places such
     And monitor sizes have now gone up to 22-          as railway stations, airports and hospitals for
     inches. Due to mass productio, large moni-         the display of information.
     tors have become affordable; a few years ago           Apart from CRT and LCD, there are other
     such huge monitors could be found only in          display technologies such as gas plasma dis-
     laboratories.                                      play, but due to the high prices involved,
          There are mainly two technologies avail-      along with non-suitability for high-end
     able in the CRT (cathode ray tube) monitor         graphics and games, these are not very pop-
     segment—Shadow Mask and Sony’s Aperture            ular.
     Grille. Both technologies have their pros and
     cons, and both are doing well in the market.       Market Overview
     CRT monitors have quite a few disadvantages        LCD is fast becoming the display solution of
     over the other alternative—LCDs.                   choice in offices, thanks to its small size and
          CRT monitors are heavy and bulky, and         elegant looks—not to forget prices that are
     power-hungry. Their high-voltage electric          dropping fast. For CRT the shift in the last
     field, high and low frequency magnetic fields      six months has been from 15-inch to 17-inch
     and radiation may be harmful to users, and         monitors.
     the scanning technology they employ makes              Small, 15-inch CRTs have become popu-
     flickering unavoidable, causing eye strain         lar in the SoHo segment, where there is a
     and fatigue. Their surface is often curved and     need to cut costs. Another reason why users
     therefore the lines don’t appear straight at       are increasingly opting for bigger monitors is
     the edges, hindering design focused actvities.     the fact that high-end graphics cards are eas-

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                                       ily available, whether it’s for gaming, or for            ular with users include the LG 500G in the
                                       graphics applications.                                    15-inch category with a price tag of around
                                           The cheapest CRT monitor currently                    Rs 5,800, whereas the LG 700G, with a price
                                       available is from Krypton, whose 14-inch                  tag of around Rs 8,500, is a monitor of choice
                                       model (the 454LR) is available for under Rs               in the 17-inch category.
                                       4,000. The most popular 15-                                                   LCD monitors—a new
                                       inch CRT monitor is the                                                   craze among technology
                                       Samsung 56V, which costs                                                  enthusiasts,    CEOs      and
                                       around Rs 5,800. This model                                               CTOs—have had a massive
                                       appears to be a favourite                                                 price drop of around 25 per
                                       with system integrators—                                                  cent over the past year. Fur-
                                       largely because Samsung is a                                              ther, LCDs are seeing a spurt
                                       pioneer in bundling prod-                                                 in demand as many call cen-
                                       ucts, giving good returns in                                              tres set up bases in India.
                                       terms of value for money.                                                 Hence, some major PC ven-
                                           In the 17-inch CRT cate-                                              dors have started bundling
                                       gory, Samsung’s 7535 is the                                               LCDs with their PCs, particu-
                                       choice of people looking for                                              larly Zenith, HP and HCL.
                                       real value for money, with a price tag of Rs              This has created more awareness among buy-
                                       7,100 to Rs 7,400. Other models that are pop-             ers. Seizing the opportunity, more vendors

            Buying Tips for CRT Monitor
         A monitor is an essential part of any      a smaller diagonal measurement. Most mon-         is measured in kilohertz (KHz). The vertical
computer system. After a bit of research,           itor manufacturers measure the entire glass       scan rate is the time the monitor takes to scan
you’ll be able to select a monitor with the         of the CRT which extends beyond the moni-         the CRT from top to bottom, and is measured
size and image quality that suits your needs.       tor bezel (case) thus giving a false impres-      in hertz. The faster the scan rate, the less flick-
The falling prices of CRT monitors are making       sion. For example, on some CRT monitors, a        er the monitor will have.
larger monitors more attractive and afford-         monitor sold as a 14-inch may have a view-        Refresh Rate
able, and can reinvigorate your computing           able area of only 12.5 inches, a 15-inch may      ■ This is a measure of the time it takes for
experience and keep you happy.                      have 13.8 inches, a 17-inch may have 15.6         the monitor to refresh the screen. It’s calcu-
 Dot Pitch                                          inches, and a 21-inch may have 19.8 inches.       lated using the horizontal scan rate and the
■ The first criterion to look for in a monitor is   These figures may vary slightly from manu-        resolution of the monitor. Often the refresh
the ‘Dot Pitch’. Every object and character on      facturer to manufacturer.                         rate is given in the manual provided with
a monitor is made up of dots, and the dis-          Scan Rate                                         the monitor. You may come across the spec-
tance between the centres of two dots is            ■ The scan rate is the period that a monitor      ifications 1,024 x 768 @ 75 Hz. In this case,
called the dot pitch. The smaller the dot pitch     takes for the electron gun to refresh the dis-    75 Hz is the refresh rate of the monitor. As a
the closer the dots are to each other and the       play. The electron gun inside the monitor         rule of the thumb, a refresh rate of 72 KHz
image on the screen will be that much sharp-        scans each row of the display area typically a    or higher will produce a flicker-free display,
er. Typically a dot pitch of .28 or less is good,   display with the resolution 1024 x 768 has        provided your video card can produce a sig-
anything above .28 will look grainy.                1024 pixels in a row and 768 rows. Each dot       nal at that refresh rate.
Screen Size                                         in these rows must be continuously refreshed      Resolutions Supported
■ The monitor size is actually the size of the      by the electron gun as those dots (made up        ■ Typical resolutions include 640 x 480, 1,024
CRT measured diagonally from one corner             of phosphor) lose their charge quickly and        x 768, 1,280 x 1,024 and 1,600 x 1,200. Note
to the opposite corner, but this is not the         begin to fade. The time it takes for the elec-    that your video card must be able to support
actual size of the image that you will see.         tron gun to refresh an entire line horizontally   the higher resolutions as well. A monitor might
    The actual viewable area will usually have      is called the Horizontal Refresh Rate, and this   support a resolution of 1,600 x 1,200, but the

          62                                                                                                                                JUNE 2003
                                      such as D-Link and CMV have jumped on                     needs to be replaced.
                                      the bandwagon to earn an extra buck—other                     Today, entry-level LCD monitors are
                                      brands such as Sony and Acer have even                    available for Rs 18,000 and upwards. This is
                                      pulled out of the CRT segment and started                 a stark contrast from the starting price of Rs
                                      concentrating only on LCDs.                               25,000, last year. Sharp has the widest prod-
                                           Warranty is a major issue                                             uct range, with around 17
                                      for monitors, and most ven-                                                monitors catering to all
                                      dors do provide carry-in war-                                              kinds of users. Right from
                                      ranty to the nearest location.                                             first-time buyers (Rs 24,000
                                      Quite a few vendors provide a                                              and up) to the rich and
                                      3-year warranty on all avail-                                              famous (Rs 1,00,000 plus). A
                                      able sizes. As LCD is a new                                                lot of vendors from Taiwan
                                      technology, it demands more                                                and China are also making
                                      in terms of warranty—even a                                                an appearance in India. The
                                      single pixel going out of                                                  next couple of months
                                      synch could cause users to                                                 might see some major
                                      return their prized posses-                                                changes in entry-level mon-
                                      sions. But industry sources                                                itors, such as a shift from 15-
                                      mention that the standard convention is that              inch to 17-inch; home users may even ven-
                                      if there are more than six bad pixels, the LCD            ture into the LCD market in a big way.

highest resolution available depends on the       away colour swirls produced by random              with silica coating, which reflects light at dif-
highest resolution that the PC’s video card is    (or the earth’s) magnetic fields.                  ferent angles to eliminate glare. Older moni-
capable of producing.                             Features                                           tors often do not have this coating.
Controls                                          Some monitors offer BNC connectors for red,        Warranty
■ Take a look at the controls on the monitor.     green and blue signals, besides the standard       Be sure to check out the monitor’s warranty
Every monitor allows you to adjust the screen     15-pin HDD VGA connector. Typically, moni-         as the warranty can vary from 1 to 3 years.
image, brightness and colours. Three types of     tors using these BNC connectors provide a          Some manufactures offer on-site warranty,
controls are available—analog, digital and on-    sharper image. These BNC connectors will           which means you don't have to ship your
screen digital. Economy monitors offer analog     connect to a standard VGA connector via a          monitor or carry it into a service centre. With
controls in the form of knobs or dials on the     special cable. This is usually included with the   some monitors requiring two adults to lift
monitor case. Digital controls are microproces-   monitor, as no special video card is required.     them, an on-site warranty might prove
sor-based and more precise. Adjustments to        Looks                                              handy. Also ask about where to get your
monitor settings made with digital controls are   ■ Check out the focus and clarity of a moni-       monitor repaired when it is out of warranty.
saved when you turn the power off. On-screen      tor before you buy, as the clarity of monitors     Safety and Energy Ratings
digital controls allow adjusting the monitor      varies between brands. The only way to tell        Many monitors conform to a variety of
with just a few controls and menu options         just how well a monitor will look is to physi-     power saving and low emission (electromag-
which appear on the screen.                       cally see it yourself. So if possible, view the    netic) standards. A monitor conforming to
   Older monitors only have brightness and        monitor while using the computer at several        MPR II guidelines states that it is within a set
contrast controls. New monitors have addi-        different resolutions. Remember, a good            standard for electromagnetic energy emis-
tional controls that can control the size and     monitor will have a low Dot Pitch (.28 or          sions, which some studies have linked to
position of the display. The latest monitors      smaller) and a high refresh rate (72 KHz           health problems. Even stricter than MPR II
allow for the adjustment of advanced fea-         or higher).                                        guidelines are TCO guidelines. A FCC Class
tures, such as colour convergence, vertical       Anti-Glare Coating                                 B rating states that the monitor conforms
centering, vertical size, pincushion correction   ■ Anti-glare coating on monitor screens            to a reduced amount of interference to
and many other adjustments. All CRT moni-         makes images clearer. This anti-glare is           nearby TV and radio reception. Consult
tors have a degaussing circuit which zaps         obtained by spraying the monitor screen            the monitor’s documentation for details.

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        Buying                                            Delightful Displays
       Tips for

                                              ith LCD's appearing in the market,        Dot pitch: Dot pitch plays an important role in
   LCD Monitors                               users now have a new display that         the crispness of the image. The smaller the
LCD monitors use liquid                       provides     a   far                                        diagonal dot pitch, the crisper
crystal filled grids activated    crisper vision, emitting less                                           the image. Diagonal dot pitch
by electric fields to create      amount of glare.                                                        is more critical than horizon-
smooth, finely defined                Going by the market sce-                                            tal dot pitch. For instance, a
images. Quality varies some-      nario, the 15-inch LCD, which                                           horizontal dot pitch of 0.24
what for certain LCD moni-        was once priced at around Rs                                            mm usually corresponds to a
tors.                             35,000 is now placed at an                                              diagonal dot pitch of approxi-
Resolutions                       affordable price of Rs 25,000.                                          mately 0.28 mm. Most 15-
Make sure that the native res-    However, the 17-inch and 18-                                            inch monitors come with
olution matches the one you       inch category that houses                                               0.28 mm diagonal dot pitch,
use regularly. Also, look for     models such as Samsung Sync-                                            whereas for the 17-inch
models with a one-touch auto      Master171 MP, still remains                                             models it’s between 0.24 mm
adjust feature that matches       unreachable due to its high                                             to 0.28 mm.
your screen display with your     price. LCD monitors use minimal desk space,           Screen Geometry: Screen geometry refers to the
computer resolution.              have a crisper display, low power consumption         accurate display of shapes such as circles, squares
Dead Pixels                       and minimized eye strain, since there is no           and polygons. The monitor should be capable
A problem with LCD screens        radiation. The newer technology incorporated          of displaying images without any geometric
is dead pixels. This refers to    nullifies the ghosting and streaking of images.       distortion. In most inferior monitors you
pixels that are either always     Viewing angles have increased to 140 degrees          will find that circles end up looking slightly
‘on’ or ‘off’. After hooking up   with a reduction of contrast and brightness.          elliptical in shape.
the monitor, run a totally                                                              Video bandwidth: The higher the bandwidth
white screen and look for         Smart Tips                                            of the monitor, the greater the range of resolu-
stray black dots, then switch     Viewable area: Monitor size (say 17-inch) is          tions it can support. Ideally, you should look
to a black screen and check       measured diagonally. However, there is a max-         for support for 85 Hz at the resolution you nor-
for white or coloured dots. A     imum viewable area specification that you need        mally use, to avoid the flicker that will invari-
few dead pixels won’t serious-    to pay closer attention to in CRT monitors. This      ably take place at refresh rates of 60 Hz. This
ly impact your display. But       would be in the region of about 13.8 inch view-       can add considerably to reducing fatigue, espe-
too many dead pixels or dead      able for a 15-inch model and close to about 16        cially for people that spend a major part of the
pixels in the wrong place can     inch viewable for most 17-inch monitors.              day sitting in front of their computers.
be a constant irritation.
Digital or Analog Inputs                                                   Decision Maker
Almost all flat-panel displays
support analog input, which                      Office productivity       Home and Internet             Gaming and graphics
is the standard for PC video.                                                                            professionals
All PC and Macintosh sys-         You need       A display that            You are looking for           A large display with a high
tems can produce analog                          reproduces crisp text     display that fits into your   resolution support and excellent
output. If you want a sharper                    for office applications   overall PC budget.            colour reproduction
display, you can get an LCD       Look for       15-inch monitors          14--inch, 15-inch, or         19-inch, or 21-inch monitors
monitor with digital input,                                                17-inch monitors
called DVI (Digital Video         Our pick       View Sonic E53 (CRT),     Samsung 753S (CRT),           Samsung SyncMaster 955DF (CRT),
Interface). To use the DVI                       Sharp LL-T15V1 (LCD)      Samsung 171 MP (LCD)          LG StudioWorks 995e (CRT),
input, you’ll need a special                                                                             LG StudioWorks 221U (CRT)
graphic card with a DVI out-      Price range    Rs 5,500 (CRT) to Rs      Rs 12,000 (CRT) to            Rs 20,000 and above
put connector.                                   33,000 (LCD)              Rs 75,000 (LCD)

         64                                                                                                                       JUNE 2003
Also Remember…
■ Warranties from
                               Differences between CRT and LCD Monitors
manufacturers are usually
valid for one year. However,
some manufacturers such        T    echnology gets cheaper and better as time
                                    goes by. This is evident from the fact that
                               faster and better processor are
                                                                                    the on-board electronics, which control the
                                                                                    charge sent to the rows and columns. The liq-
                                                                                                      uid crystal material is sand-
as Microtek and Samsung
offer a 3- year warranty on    now available for much less                                            wiched between the two
their products.                than a few years ago. The same                                         glass substrates and the
                               is the case with display tech-                                         polarising material is added
■ Integrated speakers, USB     nology. Some years back, LCD                                           on the outer side of each
ports and a user friendly On   screens cost more than Rs                                              substrate. To make the pixel
Screen Display are other
                               50,000, but now they come for                                          work (or turn it on), a charge
features that you might
                               much less—and with many                                                is sent by the integrated cir-
want to consider.
                               more features. CRT monitors                                            cuit to the correct column
■ Models that come with        too have become cheaper; a                                             and ground is activated on
flat picture tubes are         15-inch monitor can be had                                             the row of that pixel. The
generally more expensive.      for as little as Rs 5,500 and a                                        row and column meet each
                               17-inch for approximately                                              other at the pixel to be
                               Rs 11,000.                                           turned on—and delivers the voltage to
                                    The technologies used to manufacture            ‘untwist’ the liquid crystal at that pixel.
                               CRT and LCD are completely different. CRT
                               monitors use a cathode ray tube which hous-          Why does LCD cost so much?
                               es in it the electron gun at one end and a           The cost of LCD displays increases dramati-
                               tough glass coated with phosphor at the              cally even if the screen size increases by just
                               other. The electron gun fires electrons              one inch. The main reason is that many thin
                               towards the phosphor screen and the mag-             film transistors have to be incorporated with-
                               netic coil precisely deflect them from their         in the additional space. Because the technol-
                               path so that they hit the correct part of the        ogy is still in its early stages and the rejection
                               screen. The screen is made up of phosphor            rate is very high (in large LCDs it can be as
                               dots which are placed in triad formation (in         high as 40 per cent), good LCD displays sold
                               a colour monitor).                                   in the market have to bear the manufactur-
                                    There are three electron guns; one each         ing cost of the bad LCD displays that get
                               for red, green and blue. Each gun fires the          rejected. The only way out of this vicious cir-
                               electron on the corresponding dot. The screen        cle is further advancement in technology and
                               is refreshed according to the refresh rate           more refined manufacturing techniques.
                               selected if it’s 75 Hz, the screen will be drawn
                               75 times. Due to the width of the tube inside        3D TFT-LCD Monitor
                               the monitor, CRT monitors are bulkier than           Advanced graphic cards have entered the
                               their LCD counterparts.                              world of computers, and they are capable of
                                    LCD displays, on the other hand, are            rendering 3D objects in real time. To comple-
                               made up of liquid crystals. The technology           ment this, some world-renowned monitor
                               used is more advanced than the one in CRT            manufacturers have made 3D TFT monitors.
                               displays and calls for lots of precision. To light   These monitors make users feel as if images
                               up the pixel, LCD uses a grid to supply the          on the screen are real.
                               charge. Two glass layers are used as a sub-               These monitors have a glass panel that is
                               strate. One of the substrates is used as the row,    sandwiched between two LCD panels. Each
                               and the other as the column, and are made of         LCD panel reflects half the light, allowing
                               a transparent conductive material. This mate-        permeability. This effect creates the 3D sen-
                               rial is mostly Indium-Tin oxide.                     sation. Such monitors can be used in many
                                    These rows and columns are connected to         critical areas such as medicine, fighter aircraft

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                       simulation, deep-sea projects and radioactive    of displaying 640 distinct dots on each of 480
                       areas where humans cannot go. They are suit-     lines, which is about 3,00,000 pixels.
                       ed for 3D-gaming too, because they can add       Refresh Rate: This is the rate at which each
                       that extra depth to the game and make it look    pixel is redrawn on a screen. If you view an
                       more realistic and playable.                     image at lower refresh rates (say, 60 Hz), the
                           These monitors have yet                                       images will flicker, causing
                       to make an impact in the                                          eye-strain. The ideal setting
                       local market because of the                                       for flicker-free viewing about
                       high price and complexity of                                      85 Hz, but 75 Hz is comfort-
                       the technology. But we can                                        able too. Make sure that your
                       hope they will become                                             monitor supports a refresh
                       affordable in future.                                             rate of at least 75 Hz. If you
                                                                                         have a powerful graphics card
                       Easy on the eye                                                   that can generate images at
                       For anyone who spends more                                        high-resolutions and refresh
                       than couple of hours a day in                                     rates, make sure that your
                       front of a computer, eye                                          monitor is able to support
                       strain is an important consid-                                    them.
                       eration. There are several factors that impact   Radiation: Long hours spent in front of a
                       the eye-friendliness of a monitor.               monitor can cause severe headaches, and even
                       Resolution: This refers to the sharpness and     permanent damage to the eyes. While modern
                       clarity of an image. For monitors the screen     CRT displays abide by the new, and stricter
                       resolution is expressed as number of dots        emission standards, it would still be advisable
                       (pixels) on the entire screen. This means that   to use anti-glare screens to eliminate electro-
                       a 640 x 480 pixel (or VGA) screen is capable     magnetic radiation (EMR) from the display.

                           Workshop: Setting Up Dual Monitors
                            he introduction of the graphical user       tions and more windows to work with, the
                            interface (GUI) has made it a pleasure to   strain on one’s fingers has increased. This can
                            work on the PC. But with more applica-      be reduced through a smart option—dual
                                                                             Working with dual monitors is always
                                                                        more productive because you can get your
                                                                        work done faster with having to switch with-
                                                                        in windows. The market is flooded with dual-
                                                                        monitor cards and their prices are falling fast.
                                                                        Big players like ATI, nVidia and Matrox have
                                                                        deluged the market with different variants of
                                                                        such cards.
                                                                             Another interesting thing is that manufac-
                                                                        turers aren’t just providing a dual-monitor-
                                                                        ready card, they're also making their cards fea-
                                                                        ture-rich by providing TV-tuner compatibility.
                                                                        Now you can watch your favourite program on
                                                                        one monitor while you surf the net on anoth-
                                                                        er! These cards are also very simpleto install and

      66                                                                                                      JUNE 2003
                                 configure, as we shall soon discover.              e-mail as soon as they arrive. But naturally
How to calibrate                      A dual monitor set-up can be a boon for       that’s not the only application you’ll be keep-
your display                     graphic designers and video or image editors, or   ing open. A dual-monitor solution allows you
                                 for those who work with office applications most   to avoid clutter—you can place Outlook on
!   How do you get a brand-      of the time. Imagine working on a video- or        the secondary monitor while you complete
new monitor to display an        image-editing application with                                       your tasks on the main mon-
image that’s as perfect as       multiple images open. A dual                                         itor.
possible? The answer is to       monitor set-up allows you to                                              Here’s how you can get
calibrate and characterise the   reduce the stress and make the                                       your dual monitor up and
monitor. Calibration removes     whole experience more fun. By                                        running in no time. Place the
colour casts, and sets a         enabling an extended desktop,                                        monitors side by side. Install
known white point on your        you can easily space out the                                         the graphics card in the sys-
monitor as a reference point     whole application across two                                         tem and connect the D-Sub
for variation in brightness      monitors.                                                            cables from the two monitors
and contrast; and character-          Another area is office                                          to it. If your card features a
isation creates a monitor        applications. Working with                                           DVI port instead of an extra
profile for use with a colour    different types of office appli-                                     D-Sub port, use a DVI to D-
profile.                         cations like Word, Excel, Out-                                       Sub adapter. Switch on the
! Specialised software are       look and so on all at the same time can get        system. Your second monitor should get
available for calibrating mon-   cumbersome. The number of times a user has         detected. Install the proper drivers for the sec-
itors. For PCs running Win-      to task-switch between applications is simply      ond monitor and open display properties.
dows, a commonly used pro-       mind-boggling. Here too, a dual display comes          Now select the second monitor and click
gram is Adobe Gamma,             to the rescue. You can drag and drop applica-      on ‘Extend my windows desktop on to this
which comes bundled with         tions of your choice in either of the monitors     monitor’. Click on Identify and check if your
most Adobe products.             and work at ease. For example, let’s say you       selection of primary and secondary is proper.
! To calibrate your monitor,     like to keep Outlook open all the time to check    And that’s it—you’re set!
go to Start > Run > Control
Panel > Adobe Gamma. Select
the ‘Step by Step’ wizard. It
will prompt you to give a
unique profile name. Next, it
                                              The Future of Displays
will prompt you to adjust the          pace has become a major cause of worry       financial institutions tend
brightness and contrast so             for the corporate segment. Even home         to buy big-sized LCD dis-
that the centre box is as dark         users would like to have that extra space    plays as well.
as possible. It will then dis-   on their desks. And so, many people are turn-          So what’s the new display
play the phosphor that your      ing to LCD displays.                               technology taking shape in labs around
monitor displays.                    CRTs have, over a period, tried hard to        the world? Plasma display is one technique
! Adjust your gamma set-         stay in the competition by offering flat tubes     that’s been around for some time but this
ting and set the hardware        instead of the curved tubes characteristic of      hasn’t really made a mark because of the
white point according to         low-end monitors, and adding anti-glare glass      very high costs involved. Plasma displays are
your preferences. Save your      to monitor. Some new monitors even have a          toys of the rich and famous and they’ll con-
profile. The next time you       dedicated button to set the display for nor-       tinue to be that way for sometime. They are
boot your machine, the same      mal, gaming or cinema mode, where the mon-         better for home theatres than for business pur-
profile will apply.              itor adjust the best brightness and contrast for   poses.
                                 that particular mode.                                  CDT Ltd, a UK-based company that
                                     LCD screens, on the other hand, are gain-      licenses its patents and technologies to other
                                 ing wide acceptance in the market—data cen-        companies, is developing a polymer organic
                                 tres, banks and call centres are some of the       light-emitting diode (OLED) display technol-
                                 main buyers of LCD monitors. Banks and             ogy. Once this technology is implemented,

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                       LCDs will be thinner, lighter and consume less      with gadgets. Before long, mobile gadgets may
                       power than today’s LCD.                             allow you to carry information with you and
                           But just like other new technologies that       access it wherever you want. Flexible displays
                       have already been developed but are waiting         can be wrapped on your sleeve and you can
                       for mass acceptance, this technology will also      read the news from your favourite Web site, or
                       need large quantities of key                                         spread it on the table to show
                       material and fabrication                                             friends a movie from your
                       plants. The process will take                                        collection.
                       time and lots of convincing-                                             There are many ways to
                       and much interaction with                                            achieve the goal of making
                       vendors—to adopt this tech-                                          flexible displays. Silicon on
                       nology.                                                              plastic and polymer electron-
                           There are two types of                                           ics are two ways to achieve
                       technologies in the OLED                                             this flexibility. To create an
                       industry—small-molecule                                              active matrix on plastic there
                       and polymer. Industry insid-                                         are a couple of ways, the most
                       ers say it will take another 10                                      common being transferring
                       years for this technology to                                         existing silicon process from
                       become a serious threat to the LCD market.          glass to plastic. Some prototypes using this
                       The number of steps involved in manufactur-         method have already been unveiled by
                       ing the LCD is much more than it is in with         Philips, but a major hindrance in transferring
                       polymer display. This ease of manufacturing         the silicon technology to the polymer sub-
                       translates directly to increased yield. This will   strate needs to be addressed, so it may take a
                       help polymer displays compete with LCD in           while before the technology becomes com-
                       yield basis, and therefore it is just the matter    mercially viable.
                       of time before other manufacturers start                On the CRT front, prices are expected to
                       adopting this technique.                            drop further, though there doesn’t seem to be
                           But even if this technology takes off, past     any point in manufacturing screens larger
                       investments in LCDs will not go down the            than 22-inch. The reason could be the huge
                       drain—there will be improvement in this             footprint of the monitor, and the very small
                       technology as well. The current display mar-        market for displays bigger than 19-inch.
                       ket stands at $50 billion and this will go up to    Gamers and designers are not using displays
                       $85 billion over the next two years. This           bigger than 19-inch because current graphics
                       means there’s space for new technology. In          cards don’t perform any better at resolutions
                       around five years, we will know if this new         higher than 1,600 x 1,200 pixels.
                       technology finds acceptance and whether we              As far as technology improvements go,
                       can buy products based on this technology,          CRTs are more or less the same as they were a
                       off the shelf.                                      year back and there doesn’t seem to be any
                           There are many other technologies in the        significant change. Video bandwidth has
                       making such as Ferro Electric Display, Digital      improved, so even 15-inch monitors are capa-
                       Light Processing (Micro Mirror, D-ILA-              ble of displaying 1,024 x 768 x 32 at a refresh
                       Direct/Digital Image Light Amplifier) which         rate of 75 Hz. Dot pitch has improved too,
                       promise to be superior to the current tech-         and now some monitors sport dot pitches as
                       nology. Some have already been implemented          small as 0.22 mm.
                       in a small way, whereas others are still in the         To sum up, CRTs don’t look as hot as LCDs
                       development phase.                                  and plasma displays do. While introducing
                           Companies such as Philips are working in        the new iMac with its flat-panel monitor,
                       the area of flexible displays, which will revo-     Apple’s Steve Jobs even spoke about “the
                       lutionise the whole concept of interacting          death of CRT”.

      68                                                                                                       JUNE 2003
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     Buyer’s Guide

                                    This section is sponsored by

      69                                                           JUNE 2003
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      70                            JUNE 2003
            C penetration in homes and small              or less suitable for the home segment, where
            offices has increased to such an extent       the work load is occasional, and restricted to
            that the need for peripherals such as         a few pages. High-end inkjet printers provide
     printers has skyrocketed. Whether you seek a         excellent digital imaging for professionals who
     decent home printer, or a professional print-        require quality print-outs. In an inkjet print-
     ing solution, the market offers a variety of         er, one should be looking at features such as
     options, depending on your need and budg-            USB interface, which increases printing speed
     et. The printer market is divided into two           drastically over the older parallel interface.
     major chunks, one that offers reliable bulk          High-end inkjet printers today have the facil-
     printing solutions (in the form of laser print-      ity to print from a digital camera directly.
     ers), and one that caters to the home printing       Some vendors also have specialised printers
     category with inkjet printers. Also included         for the same job.
     in the latter category are high-end inkjets that         If you need a printer for the typical office
     for design and digital photography profes-           environment, one that is going to be used as
           sionals.                                       a shared resource, a laser printer is the best
                     The choice of printer depends        bet. But if you are looking for a home printer,
                       largely on usage, than on          to carry out small jobs, an inkjet printer will
                             quality of printing or       suffice. If you need a printer for a small office
                             performance parameters.      where you will be using it for just a few print-
                             Laser printers have tradi-   outs a day, opt for a mid-range inkjet printer
                             tionally been expensive,     that can do the job without burning a hole in
                             but they offer good eco-     your pocket.
                           nomic and crisp print-
                    outs—at least as far as bulk          Market Overview
             monochrome printing is concerned. So         Gone are the days when people would shy
     who would need a laser printer? If your daily        away from a inkjet printer, or a laser printer
     work routine involves printing a large num-          simply because of the cost involved, and set-
     ber of sheets for office use and, more impor-        tle for an ageing dot matrix printer. Due to the
     tantly, you need the print-outs fast, you need       fierce competition between the major players
     a laser printer. If you’re not satisfied with your   in the printer market, costs have drastically
     old inkjet printer and are thinking of upgrad-       fallen, making them more affordable. This cut-
     ing to something better and faster, and some-        throat competition among the vendors has
     thing that still fits your budget, you need to       benefited end-users in more than one way.
     look at a laser printer.                             Where an entry level inkjet printer used to
          Printing in offices and SoHo segments           cost around Rs 6,000 to Rs 7,000, a year ago,
     mostly involve bulk text print-outs and hence        today the same printer costs around Rs 3,000
     laser printers are the most viable options. Also,    to 4,000. Similarly, an entry level laser print-
     as these printers come with a network                er that cost Rs 20,000 earlier, costs around Rs
     option—they can be used over a network as a          13,000—a huge reduction when you look at
     shared resource, making them ideal for an            the price to performance ratio.
     office environment. Another important fea-                The laser printer market, was previously
     ture one should look for is the amount of            ruled by two major brands—HP and Canon.
     buffer memory—the more the better, espe-             But now companies such as Samsung, Lex-
     cially if the printer is on a network. Having a      mark, Wipro and Epson have entered the fray
     large paper capacity is also an added advan-         and the resulting competition among them
     tage for professional laser printers, for a fill-    has seen prices take a nosedive. All of these
     and-forget mode of operation.                        companies have slew of models that one can
          Inkjet printers provide good colour print-      opt for depending upon the budget and
     outs at a reasonable price, hence they are more      requirements. Wipro offers the cheapest solu-

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                                        tion at Rs 14,000. Similarly, companies              cheapest solution with its Z13 inkjet printer.
                                        such as Samsung and Canon have models                HP is not left behind and offers the cute little
                                        ranging from Rs 14,500 upwards. HP and               3325. Similar models are also offered by
                                         Lexmark also have entry level models cost-          Epson and Canon.
                                         ing around Rs 15,500 and above.                         In the mid-range inkjet segment, Epson
                                                           Today, the competition is         has some decent offers that offer excellent
                                                      fiercer in the inkjet market           performance at a very good price, like the
                                                      than in the niche laser print-         C61sx. Among high-end inkjets, Canon,
                                                      er segment, because a majori-          Epson and HP have a plethora of models to
                                                      ty of prospective buyers—              choose from, such as the Canon S530D,
                                                      home and small-office users—           Epson stylus 915 and the HP 7550. These
                                                      don’t find a laser printer eco-        photo printers are capable of printing photos
                                                      nomically     viable.    Major         directly from a digital camera, have good
                                                      brands that have a strong              colour management controls and are provid-
                                                      presence in the inkjet segment         ed with a small LCD for direct control.
                                                      are HP, Epson, Canon and Lex-              Low-end inkjet printers start at Rs 3,000
                                                      mark. HP has been around for           and can go up to Rs 6,000, whereas mid-range
                                          a quite a while, and has used this advan-          inkjet printers are priced between Rs 7,000
                                         tage to build up a good reputation when it          and 16,000. High-end printers retail for any-
                                      comes to inkjet printers. Lexmark offers the           thing over Rs 18,000.

            Buying Tips for Inkjet Printers
        ! Choose your printer based on the kind of print quality you      change the cartridge.
 require. In general, inkjet printers offer excellent quality as far as   !  Check the manufacturer’s Web site for the type of support
 images and graphics are concerned, while laser printers offer the        offered—do they offer regular software updates, patches for new
 best text printouts.                                                     operating systems, and so on.
 ! If you are planning to buy an inkjet printer, make sure you check      ! Check the space requirements of the printer so that it fits
 the page per minute (ppm) speed, since the manufacturer-rated            comfortably on your desk.
 speed is always relative to the printer’s fastest print mode, and not
 the normal or best quality mode which are used more often.               Buying Tips for Laser Printers
 ! If you intend to share the printer over a network, check the
 amount of buffer memory—the more the better.                             !  A carry-in warranty is definitely a big pain as far as bulky items
 ! If you are buying the printer for photo printouts, always take a       like laser printers are concerned. The warranty should be
 test print to ensure you get the required quality. Also check if you     comprehensive and on-site.
 need to purchase a separate ink cartridge for photo quality              ! The greater the warranty period, the better. It indicates that the
 printouts.                                                               manufacturer has greater faith in the product.
 ! Check for the type of interface supported by your PC. Most             ! Faster and higher quality printers are a lot costlier than slower
 computers today have USB ports, so buy a printer with a USB              ones. If you’re in no hurry to take your printouts, or don’t need
 interface since it offers higher speed of data transfer.                 excellent quality, set your sights a little lower. You’ll end up saving
 ! Consider the total cost of ownership and not just the purchase         much money that way.
 price. Depending on how many pages you print, even a small               ! With costly peripherals such as laser printers, it breaks your
 difference of a rupee will save you a sizeable amount of cash over       heart when they crash or malfunction. Add lousy customer service
 the lifetime of the printer.                                             you are ready to throw the said peripheral out of the window. Ask
 ! Check whether the printer supports additional features like ink        people who’ve already bought printers about their experiences
 status determination via software, so you can be sure when to            with the customer-support staff. It might take some effort, but is

          72                                                                                                                           JUNE 2003
                A Coloured World: Inkjet and Laser Printers
    nkjet printers have become         charged ink particles onto           Laser printers can better        connect directly to the net-
    popular due to the fact that       paper by using magnetised       an Inkjet printer’s output at         work and support the kind of
    they provide users with the        plates to direct the ink into   similar resolutions in terms of       protocols you use.
ability to print in colour at a        the required patterns.          quality and sharpness, as             Paper: Check that the print-
fraction of the cost of basic              A laser printer uses a laserthere isn’t any smudging or           er accommodates the paper
monochrome laser printers.             beam to draw the document       spreading of ink.                     sizes and volumes you plan
The prices for inkjet printers         on a selenium-coated drum       Speed: Print speeds are usu-          to use.
begin from about Rs 5,000              using electrical charges. The   ally inversely proportional to        Memory: Printers come with
and go up to Rs 50,000.                drum is then rolled in          print quality.                        a buffer (RAM). A larger buffer
     Laser printers are used in        toner—a dry powder-like ink.         Laser printers offer much        allows storage of high-resolu-
office environments, where             The toner adheres to the        higher speeds than Inkjets            tion documents or a larger
fast, high-quality, economical         charged image on the drum,      counterparts. Beginning at            number of regular documents.
and hassle-free printing is            and is transferred and fused    about 6 ppm, the speed can            Postscript for laser printers:
needed. Prices of laser printers       onto a paper with heat and      go as high as 45 ppm or               It is important for laser
begin from about Rs 17,000             pressure.                       more.                                 printers to have postscript
for a basic laser printer and go                                       Colour: Although low-end              support. This decreases the
up to over Rs 1,00,000 for a       Smart tips                          inkjets don’t offer great quali-      time taken to print vector
full-blown network printer.        Resolution: This is measured        ty, the high-end ones offer           graphics—an advantage in
                                   in dots per inch (dpi), and is      photo quality output when             pre-press set-ups and other
Technology Insight                 a rough measure of the image        printed at high resolution on         such       graphics-intensive
Inkjets work by placing            quality output.                     glossy paper. Although the            print processes to create
                                                                          cost of printing each colour       colour separation prints etc.
                                                                          page is higher than compa-
             Medium volume                Heavy-duty printing             rable colour laser printers,
             printing                                                     the price of the printer itself     Also Remember…
 You need    Cheap, average quality,      Money no bar, fast and          is much lower.                      ■ The cartridge life is a num-
             and decent speed printing quality printing                   Connections: Check that             ber that manufacturers arrive
                                                                          your computer has the               at considering that each
 Look for    An A4 printer with a reso- Resolution of 1,200 x 1,200
                                                                          right kind of port for the          printout will print ink on only
             lution of 600 x 1,200 dpi    dpi, and the ability to han-                                        5 per cent of each page. In
                                                                          printer you have selected.
                                          dle larger print loads          While newer models have             reality, the life of a cartridge
 Our pick    Minolta QMS PagePro          Lexmark Optra M412, HP          USB ports, parallel port            will vary according to the
                                                                          models are also quite com-          type of printing you do.
             1100                         LaserJet 1220se
                                                                          mon. For networks, a
 Price range Up to Rs 20,000              Up to Rs 50,000                                                     ■ Duplexing is the ability to
                                                                          printer should be able to           print on both sides of a
                                                                                                              page. It is a useful paper sav-
                Home use                        Intermediate                   Professional                   ing feature but usually costs
                                                                               Photorealistic printouts,      slightly more.
                Cheap, average quality          Fast, better quality, larger
You need                                                                       quality all important
                and acceptable speeds.          paper size support                                            ■ To judge print quality,
                An A4 printer with the          Faster print speeds, photo     Resolution of 2,400 x 1,200    take a look at a few sample
Look for        ability to print colour. Res-   cartridges or larger paper     or 2,880 x 1,440 dpi. Six      printouts on plain paper
                                                                                                              before making a decision.
                olution of 1440 x 720 dpi       sizes up to A3                 colour printing
Our pick        Canon BJC 3000,                 Lexmark Z52                    HP DeskJet 990Cxi              ■ Dpi ratings tend to be
                Epson Stylus Color 880                                                                        misleading.
Price Range     Up to Rs 8,000                  Up to Rs 15,000                Up to Rs 30,000

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Power Tips
Inkjet printer                                                             and humidity do not change rapidly. Try to avoid
!  It is very important to align the ink cartridge properly when you       areas with heavy dust build-up.
install it the first time. The software that comes along with the          ! Position the printer on a sturdy and level surface,
printer allows you to do this. All you have to do is click on the          and allow sufficient space around the printer for air flow
‘Align’ button and the printer will automatically align the ink            ! Always use a lightly dampened cloth to clean the outside of the
cartridges.                                                                printer. To clean the inside, use a dry, lint-free cloth. This will ensure
! Store the cartridges in the right packaging: Always store extra          that no liquid enters the innards of the printer. Most manufacturers
cartridges in their factory-supplied containers. If you regularly switch   provide useful cleaning information on their manuals, so refer to
between colour and black ink, store the swapped-out cartridge in an        them.
old factory-supplied container or in a small, zip-lock bag.                ! Use paper that’s been manufactured specifically for your printer,
! Always use your printer’s power switch rather than the switch on         and select the correct paper type for your print job.
a surge protector to switch off your printer.                              ! Keep your printer up-to-date by downloading the latest drivers
! To avoid paper jams, clean the rollers and the internal mechanism        and patches from the manufacturer’s Web site. This helps because
with mild alcohol. Set the paper guides carefully when placing the         most manufacturers provide driver updates for your unit, including
paper in the tray for printing.                                            patches that add fonts or correct incompatibilities.
! The outside of the printer can be cleaned by spraying a mild glass       ! If debris is the primary cause of failure, toner is the primary cause of
cleaner on a soft cloth.                                                   debris. All toner cartridges will release a small amount of toner into
! Use the right paper. Most ink jets print reasonably well on              the machine. This is why it’s important to clean the machine when
standard A4 paper. However, the type of paper you use strongly                     you change the cartridge. It is important that the density
affects the quality of inkjet output. Some grades of paper                              control of the machine is properly set, to prevent the
absorb too much ink, causing images to be either                                        machine from pulling too much toner. We all like dark
too light or too blurred. If you want the                                                prints, but if your print settings are too dark, it could be
best image possible, use the paper                                                       detrimental to the life of the cartridge in the long run.
recommended by your printer                                                               ! Don’t pile documents or miscellaneous objects on top
manufacturer.                                                                                  of your printer, as they could damage it. Your printer
! While printing photos, use                                                                        may overheat and this could result in
manufacturer-recommended photo                                                                   malfunctioning, and even a reduction in the printer
paper or the ink won’t dry and the results                                                  life.
won’t live up to your expectations.
! Over a period of time, the prints you get will                           Smart Printing
become faint and you will see lines running across the page. To            A printer doesn’t print only boring old text. You can go ahead and
restore the original print quality, many inkjets come with a nozzle        print pretty much anything you want.
cleaning function that blows ink through the nozzle and unclogs it.            You can print multiple copies of the same document without
Use this feature on a regular basis if you use your printer only once      giving a print command each time. Whenever you select the Print
in two weeks.                                                              option from the File menu or a printer icon, a small printer dialog
! For optimum and trouble-free performance, always insist on an            box opens up. Here, under the ‘Number of copies’, just increase it
original ink cartridge. Do not get them refilled to save money             to the number you want printed.
! Never shake the ink cartridge as this can create bubbles. Air                Are you one of those who head straight for the print command
bubbles in the cartridge can cause the printer to shut down.               when you see something you like on a Web page?
! If you find ink leaking, do not attempt to open the printer. Call an         Well, consider this. You can easily select specific parts of your
authorised service person immediately.                                     document, so you don’t have to print it entirely. This can obviously
! Don’t place the paper stack in the tray without separating them          be helpful in saving ink. To do this, simply select the area or the part
as it could lead to paper jams.                                            of the document you want to print. Now, in the print dialog box
                                                                           just choose Selection in under the Page range. Now your printout
Laser printer                                                              won’t have banner ads or pictures that are of no use to you.
! Select the proper location to place your laser printer. A properly           Many times it happens that you want to print at a lower
ventilated area is recommended. Select a place where temperature           resolution to save ink, or you want to print on both sides on the

           74                                                                                                                            JUNE 2003
paper. Various printers offer different types of printing options,          are recycled, also called re-manufactured cartridges. These are
which you can use to suit your printing needs. Let’s take a look at         professionally recycled to guarantee high quality and good
some of these options. Many printers also offer some kind of toner          performance.
or ink saving mode, which lets you print really fast using much                The bottomline is that there are reliable alternatives to refill
lesser ink. This is especially useful for printing drafts or rough copies   cartridges, which are easy on pocket and at the same time, do not
of long documents.                                                          harm your printer.
    The printer dialog box lets you print specific pages in a
document, or a specific range of pages. You can also print multiple         New Interface For Printers
copies of the same document if you want. For more options you can           With the rapid growth in the usage of mobile devices such as
click on the Properties button. This will let you do many things,           handhelds and mobile phones that are capable of word processing,
such as select the resolution at which you want to print. A higher          a need for printing the documents directly from these devices has
resolution uses more ink but gives better quality, and vice versa.          led to the development of wireless printing solutions. And today we
    You can also choose to print on both sides of the paper, which          have many vendors coming out with printer models that support
comes in handy for things such as manuals or books. You can                 cutting-edge technology such as IrDA and Bluetooth.
choose the size of your printing media, if you, say, want to print on           IrDA is an acronym for Infrared Data Association. IR devices work
envelopes or postcards. You can also change the orientation of your         using infrared technology, and hence don’t require any cables to
printout, so you can print in portrait or landscape mode.                   connect them to the printer. Using such printers, one can print
    Another very useful feature is the Print Preview option. This lets            directly from a mobile device supporting IrDA interface without
you see what your printout will look like after it’s been                                 the need of any cables or even a PC. The only
printed, so wastage is minimised. You can even                                                shortcoming is the line of sight restriction—as the
zoom in, and out of your document to get a better                                              devices work using infrared rays, there should not be
look at it. In most applications, this command can                                              any obstacles between communicating devices.
be accessed in the File menu by clicking on the                                                     Some HP printers with IrDA support are HP
Print Preview icon in your toolbar.                                                               DeskJet 340, HP LaserJet 5MP, HP LaserJet 6MP, HP
    Do bear in mind that the exact options will differ                                                  2100M and HP4050N. Some of these are
with each printer model. The important thing is to                                                        already available in India, and the rest will
be aware that they exist. So, whatever your printing                                                   make it here before long.
demand, you know how best to meet the need.                                                             Bluetooth is the latest addition to the ever-
                                                                                             increasing plethora of interfaces available for printers.
Refilled and original cartridges                                                    Bluetooth is a low-cost, low-power, wireless radio frequency
Inkjet printers are expensive to maintain primarily because of the          technology that allows various electrical devices to communicate with
high cost of cartridge replacements, and the costs incurred as a            each other. These devices operate in the 2.4 GHz ISM (industrial,
result of using poor quality cartridges.                                    scientific, medical) band. One of the advantages of Bluetooth over
    It is very important to replace cartridges as soon as they dry          IrDA is that close proximity between the communicating devices is
up—keeping dried-up cartridges inside the printer for too long can          not required, distances of up to 10 metres are allowed. Also,
clog the print head, causing poor quality printouts.                        Bluetooth does not suffer from any line of sight restrictions.
    Users have an option of either using original cartridges or                 A fascinating aspect of Bluetooth-enabled devices is their ability
refilling them. Typically, users do not prefer original cartridges as       to communicate with each other spontaneously when they come
they are expensive (Refill kits are available, which contain all the        within each other’s range. Thus, a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone can
tools required for refilling inkjet cartridges at home). However, the       be configured so that it can automatically print out all its stored
problem with refill kits is that the ink provided with the kit cannot       messages using a Bluetooth printer as soon as you enter your office
be used with all cartridges, since different cartridges have different      without any manual intervention. Another advantage of using
standards. A single kit cannot provide a one-stop solution.                 Bluetooth is its support for point-to-multipoint communications.
    One could opt for compatible or replacement cartridges, which           Thus, a single printer can simultaneously connect to both your cell
are printer cartridges manufactured by third parties or various             phone, as well as your computer and any other Bluetooth-enabled
OEMs. Compatible cartridges are generally of good quality and               device within its vicinity. The HP 995c Bluetooth printer is one such
reliable because they are manufactured keeping in mind the specific         inkjet printer with built-in Bluetooth support, though it has yet to be
printer model.                                                              available in India.
    Another variety of cartridges that are extensively used these days

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                                       Workshop: Iron-On Transfer Paper
                                                                         STEP 4: Take care not to overheat the paper. Stop ironing when
                                                                         the paper turns slightly dark in colour. Carefully peel the paper
                                                                         from one edge. If you feel the transfer has not yet been achieved,
                                                                         continue with the ironing

 STEP 1: Take a T-shirt and place it on a flat and firm surface like a
 table, so that the under surface does not bend and provides even
 heating to all parts of the paper

                                                                         STEP 5: After you peel one edge of the paper and see the transfer
                                                                         has taken place, continue to peel the paper slowly with one hand
                                                                         holding the T-shirt in place and the other peeling the paper

 STEP 2: Now place the Iron-on-transfer paper with the printed
 side down on the T-shirt and arrange it properly so that the
 edges are parallel to the T-shirt’s edge
                                                                         STEP 6: After peeling off the paper you will see a plastic coating
                                                                         over the printed surface. Don’t try to remove it—it’ll go once you
                                                                         wash it

 STEP 3: Now set the iron to maximum heat and move it over the           STEP 7: Wear your attitude!
 iron-on transfer paper so that it receives even heating across the
 entire area

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    Under the bonnet of a Laser Printer

 Jargon Buster
 Align: To line up typeset or other graphic material as specified, using   Coated: Printing papers which after making have had a surface
 a base or vertical line as the reference point.                           coating with clay etc., to give a smoother, more even finish with
 Blanket cylinder: The cylinder which the inked litho plate transfers      greater opacity.
 the image to the paper. The cylinder is covered with a rubber sheet       Cropping: The elimination of parts of a photograph or other original
 which prevents wear to the litho plate coming into contact with the       that are not required to be printed. Cropping allows the remaining
 paper.                                                                    parts of the image to be enlarged to fill the space.
 Bleed: The region of the page that is beyond the marked area within       Colour Balance: This term refers to the correct combination of Cyan,
 which printing usually occurs.                                            Magenta and Yellow required to exactly reproduce the colours of the
 Buffer: Memory within the printer that stores data from the comput-       original scene or object
 er until it can be printed. Buffers vary in size, with the average for    Colour separations: The division of a multicolored original or line
 laser printers being around 8 MB. Greater the buffer, the better the      copy into the basic (or primary) process colors of yellow, magenta,
 handling of large print jobs.                                             cyan and black. These should not be confused with the optical pri-
 CMYK: Short for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. These are the            maries; Red, Green and Blue.
 colours used in the industry-standard ‘four colour process printing’.     DPI: Short for Dots Per Inch, this is a measure of the vertical resolu-
 By combining these colours, a printer is able to print all possible       tion of the printer. Higher dpi values (1200 and above) produce
 colours. Most full-colour media that you see are created by this          sharper printouts, while lower dpi values (300 and below) produce
 method (magazines, brochures, retail packaging, etc).                     images that have noticeable dots in them.

                                          78                                                                                           JUNE 2003
 Duplexing: This refers to the ability of a printer to print on both       International paper sizes: The International Standards Organization
 sides of a paper. It is a very handy way of saving paper. However, this   (ISO) system of paper sizes is based on a series of three sizes A, B and
 option is neither cheap, nor common. An alternative is to use manual      C. Series A is used for general printing and stationery, Series B for
 duplexing. In this method, you print the odd, or even-numbered            posters and Series C for envelopes.
 pages first, and once the job is completed, you manually flip the         LASER: An acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of
 pages over and the printer prints on the other side.                      Radiation, it is a process that produces a very intense light beam. In a
 Epson emulation: The industry standard control codes for dot              laser printer, this beam is used to fuse the toner, or ink, onto the
 matrix printers were developed by Epson and virtually all software        paper.
 packages and most dot matrix printers either follow or improve on         Layout: A sketch of a page for printing showing the position of text
 these codes.                                                              and illustrations, and giving general instructions.
 Halftone: An illustration reproduced by breaking down the original        Overprinting: Printing over an area already printed. Used to empha-
 tone into a pattern of dots of varying size. Light areas have small       size changes or alterations.
 dots and darker areas or shadows have larger dots.                        Pantone: A registered trademark for an ink colour matching system.
 Ink jet printer: Unlike daisy wheel and dot matrix printers, which        Printer Command Language: A language developed by HP for use
 rely on physical contact with the an inked ribbon and paper, ink jet      with its own range of printers. Essentially a text orientated language,
 printers simply spray ink in a series of dots to form characters. While   it has been expanded to give graphics capability.
 early ink jets were prone to clogging, they were capable of delivering    PostScript: This is a computer language, or protocol used for com-
 good print speeds and relatively high-quality text and graphics.          munication between the computer and the printer. The computer
 Today’s best ink jet printers have eliminated most of the clogging        sends information about the pages to be printed by the printer in
 problems, rival laser printers for text quality, and can also produce     PostScript format.
 color images with near-photographic quality—all for even less             Print engine: The parts of a page printer which perform the print-
 money than a low-end laser printer.                                       imaging, fixing and paper transport. In fact, everything but the con-
 Interface: This is the type of connection that the printer has with the   troller.
 computer. Older printers use the parallel interface, but this has         Progressives: Colour proofs taken at each stage of printing showing
 become obsolete. The latest printers use either USB or FireWire con-      each colour printed singly, and then superimposed on the preceding
 nections as their interface.                                              color.

                                           The Future of Printers
T    he advocates of paperless environments had predicted the
     death of the printer. Concepts such as e-mail, e-paper, e-
books and digital collaboration have certainly taken us closer to
                                                                           two such printers. The availability of spe-
                                                                           cialised photo-printers such as these is all the
                                                                           more relevant because of the current boom in the
a paperless work culture. However, the printer is here to stay. The        digital camera industry. Due to falling prices, more and more
dot-matrix printer, once the norm, is dead—it’s limit-                         people are now buying digital cameras instead of normal
ed to billing and accounting applications. The future                                     film-based ones, and a whole range of models are
lies in laser printers. Currently though, inkjet print-                                   available from various vendors that cater to enthu-
ers rule when it comes to photo-quality printing.                                         siasts and professionals both.
     The past few months have seen the emergence                                              Not too long ago, laser printers were expen-
of a new breed of inkjet printers called ‘photo-                                          sive, and out of reach for the average SoHo user.
printers’. Earlier, a user needed to download                                            Even with its long-term benefits and convenience,
images from a digital camera to his PC before tak-                                    price proved to be a stumbling block. However, the
ing a printout, a photo-printer connects directly to a dig-                past few months have seen significant reduction in the prices of
ital camera supporting this feature, allowing you to get your              laser printers, bringing a wide range of options that suit the
prints straight from the camera.                                           requirements of various kinds of users—from SoHo to large cor-
     What’s more, their light weight and compact size allow com-           porates that require networking capabilities, storage and paper
plete portability. HP’s Photosmart 130 and Canon’s CP100 are               management—built into the printer.

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      Buyer’s Guide

                                    This section is sponsored by

      80                                                           JUNE 2003
                                                  hat better way to show your better      but if it scans at a snail’s pace, your invest-
                                                  half how much you love him or her       ment’s not going to be wildly useful. Hence,
                                                  than by putting their picture on        before buying, always scan a document to
                                      your desktop? You’ll need to know how to use        check the speed and look for the ability to
                                      a scanner, of course. No sweat. Place the desired   reproduce colour adequately.
                                      picture on the scanner glass, push a single but-         Go for a USB scanner rather than one that’s
                                      ton without even starting a software, and hey       parallel port-based, as this will give faster
                                      presto—the picture’s scanned and ready to be        speeds. Also, make sure you buy a scanner that
                                      put up as your new wallpaper!                       you gives you a reasonably good image-editing
                                          Scanners have become so readily available,      and OCR software bundled with the product, so
                                      and user-friendly that almost anybody can use       you can save some money on software. The
                                      them. They’ve become a great multipurpose           warranty should also be carefully checked,
                                      tool for the office and the studio. From enhanc-    especially whether it’s ‘carry in’ or not.
                                      ing Web sites to digital data management, scan-          Scanners have not really been an integral
                                      ners make it all possible.                          part of a regular home PC user, and the last cou-
                                          Scanners have become popular because            ple of years have not seen any major technolog-
                                                          people like to digitise the     ical enhancement. Most of the home and SoHo
                                                          analogue life we live—the       segment have been buying scanners mainly for
        Buying Tips                                       average person wants a          scanning photographs, and the falling prices of
         ! Select a hardware resolution                   colour scanner for photos,      digital cameras has affected this segment. The
     depending on the kind of document you                graphics, or plain document     only major technological enhancement perhaps
are going to scan; for example, 300 dpi is not            scanning. A small to medium     has been in the interface, where the shift has
enough if you plan to scan photographs                    business enterprise might       been from Small Computer System Interface
! Check the packaging contents and make                   look for a scanner that can     (SCSI) to Parallel to USB 1.1. Of late, some scan-
sure that the requisite cables and connectors are         do fast black-and-white scan-   ners even ship with USB 2.0.
included                                                  ning, which can later be             Entry-level scanners available in the mar-
! Check whether the vendor gives carry-in or on-          OCR-ed into editable text.      ket today cost Rs 3,500 and up. The Benq S2W
site warranty—on-site warranty is a better option         Graphic artists or desktop      4300U and HP Scanjet 2300 are available at a
as the technician comes to your place for repairs         publishers—and professional     rock-bottom price of around Rs 3,500. With
! A transparency adapter is a must if you are             imaging studios—might seek      very few players (and Epson opting out of the
going to scan negatives. Also ensure that the             an ultra high-end, spe-         race) the competition in this segment is severe.
scanner has an interface to connect the required          cialised,      feature-packed   Another problem with such scanners is that of
adapter                                                   photo scanner.                  heavy wear and tear during transportation,
! New scanners might have thermocol bits on                    But how do you go about    which leads to malfunctioning of devices to a
their inner sides that will show up as black dots on      choosing a scanner? Is a        great extent.
the media scanned. Remove such particles from             36-bit scanner better than a         HP is the undisputed leader, with around
the scanner by wiping it with a soft cloth and            48-bit scanner? What about      50 per cent marketshare. HP is followed by
make sure there are no scratches on the glass             resolution? Do you need         Canon and Umax. With all vendors under-
surface                                                   600-dpi (dots per inch) or      standing the market reality, the focus now is
! If you’re scanning thick books or such, go for a        will 300-dpi be sufficient?     shifting towards multi-functional printers
scanner with a removable lid, or one where the                 Well, most home users      (MFPs), or AIOs (all-in-ones) as some vendors
lid can rise to a height of two inches or more            should find a 300 dpi scan-     prefer to call them. The focus is to provide a
! 36-bit scanners are on their way out; 48-bit is         ner sufficient. However,        low-cost solution and save precious desktop
now considered entry-level for scanners.                  power users need to have a      space for users.
! A good OCR and imaging software bundled                 minimum of 600 dpi. Speed            Market indications are that low-end inkjets
along with the scanner will not only save you             is also another factor which    and scanners would be phased out over the
additional investment, but will also extend the           you should consider. A scan-    next few months, and the home and SoHo
usability of your scanner                                 ner may be sleek and have       segment are likely to go in for these multi-func-
                                                          support for high resolutions,   tional devices instead.

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 Also Remember…                  A quick scan                                          Xenon lamps provide better performance.
                                 The scanner, which used to be a luxury not so         Resolution: The higher the resolution of the
■ Upgrading your system
RAM is probably a good idea
                                 long ago, is now well within the reach of most        scanner, the sharper will be the image repro-
if you are going to be scan-     people. Prices have fallen, due to competition        duced. Most low and mid-range scanners
ning high-resolution images.     between manufacturers and also due to the             today have an optical (or hardware) resolu-
This will have a significant     advancement of the technology used. This              tion of 600 x 1,200 pixels. Here 600 is the
impact on overall scanning       has put it high on the shopping lists for many        number of CCDs or CIS (Contact Image Sen-
performance.                     home users. Today, scanner prices begin at            sors) that are arranged in a horizontal row,
                                 about Rs 4,000 and offer pretty acceptable            and 1,200 means that the stepper motor is
■ Check for sRGB support.        performance in terms of quality and speed.            capable of moving in steps of 1/1200th of
This is a new standard that      USB has helped ease the pain of installing the        an inch.
makes Web images look bet-
                                 scanner, and increasing speed                                 Platform size: For most home users,
                                 due to the higher data trans-                                    A4 size scanners are sufficient.
■ Consider buying a trans-       fer rates it supports.                                              However, for professional uses,
parency adapter if you plan                                                                              a scanner with an A3 sized
to scan negatives, slides and    Technology Insight                                                         platform is preferred.
transparencies directly. Auto-   The main components of a                                                     Colour depth: 48-bit
matic document feeders           scanner are: a light sensitive                                               colour depth is pre-
(ADFs) are a boon to people      diode, a light source, the lens,                                            ferred, and you should
with large text scanning         and the stepper motor—which                                                not opt for anything less
needs.                           moves the scan head and the mirror on                                that 36-bit colour depth.
                                 which the document is placed. The light hits                    Connectors: If you have a free USB
■ To get good results with
35-mm slides or negatives,
                                 the document and the image is reflected back             port in your system then a USB scanner is
you should look for a special    to the diodes via mirrors. The image is then          the recommended choice. Parallel port scan-
scanner that has been            focused on the CCD array, which converts              ners have lower data transfer rates, and
designed for them.               photon into electrons, thus converting the            although the SCSI models offer the fastest
                                 image to digital format.                              rate, they require you to buy special adapters.
■ Ensure that your printer is                                                          OCR software: Most bundled OCR software
good enough to reproduce         Smart Tips                                            offer basic functionality. For heavy text-based
the high quality scans that      The light source: This is either a cold cathode       scanning you should look to buy third-party
the scanner produces.            fluorescent lamp (CCFL) or Xenon lamp.                OCR packages, such as ABBY FineReader 6.0.

                                                                         Decision Maker
                                               Basic use                       Intermediate use            Professional use
                                 You need      Something that you will use     Something for more          A scanner with high
                                               occasionally to scan home       serious scanning, either    resolution and speeds
                                               photos or something from a      for text documents or       because of large volumes
                                               book or magazine                images                      of scanning
                                 Look for      Any A4 scanner, with USB        Any A4 scanner with         A scanner with 1,600 x
                                               support and a minimum           USB support and a mini-     3,200 dpi or better resolu-
                                               resolution of 600 x 1,200 dpi   mum resolution of           tion, A3 platform size and
                                                                               1,200 x 2,400 dpi           preferably a SCSI interface
                                 Our pick      UMAX Astra 2500,                HP ScanJet 3500C,           HP ScanJet 4570C,
                                               HP ScanJet 2300C                UMAX Astra 4700             HP ScanJet 4500,
                                 Price range   Below Rs 5,000                  Rs 5,000 to Rs 12,000       Rs 12,000 to 20,000

          82                                                                                                                JUNE 2003
Power Tips For Better Scanning
Scan Smart                                                                Accessories for your Scanners
Select your scanning area: Instead of placing a document or image         If you thought your scanner was intended just for
and scanning the full area, always select the area to be scanned. This    scanning images, you’ll be in for a surprise—you can do much more
will reduce scanning time, as well as file size.                          than casual scanning. All you need is a couple of accessories such as:
Resist scanning at high resolutions: If you intend to scan your           Transparency adapter: With this, you scan negatives, slides, and
documents only for viewing on a PC or on the Web, scanning at a           larger transparencies.
resolution of 100 to 150 dpi is usually sufficient as monitors can only   Automatic document feeder: This will let you feed a
display at 72 dpi, and scanning at any higher resolution for this         stack of pages for scanning without having to
purpose would be useless. However, if you intend to print your            manually place each page on the
images, you should scan at a higher resolution .                          scanner.
Using descreen: When you scan content from magazines or                   Software: Whether you need to use
newspapers you will notice moiré patterns on the content. The best        your scanner for faxing, copying,
way to reduce this is by using the Descreen option that comes             optical character recognition or graphics,
within the TWAIN drivers. If you have a scanner that does not have a      you’ll need the right software to do the job.
descreen option in its scanning software, you can minimise this           Depending on what the manufacturer bundles with the scanner, you
effect by applying it from an image-editing software.                     may need to buy additional software. Be sure to consider the added
Save format: First identify the target format you would like to save      cost when comparing prices.
the image in. If you are using it for the Web or for animation, it
would be appropriate to save it as a JPEG or GIF, as these save a lot     Care and Maintenance
of disk space. But if you would like to send the image for printing,      If you find the images you are scanning are smeared with light or
TIFF is the best format as it can compress the image with no loss in      dark stripes, or displaying a checquerboard pattern, it’s time you
image quality.                                                            cleaned your scanner glass. In order to effectively clean the glass,
Correct ghost images: A ghost image occurs when the scanner               unplug your scanner and raise the front lid. Apply a very mild streak-
picks up images from the back of a page. Often this can be                free cleaner to a soft lint-free cloth and clean the glass. Now, dry the
corrected by changing the brightness and contrast controls. You will      glass with a soft cloth.
have to experiment to find the best setting of these controls for your    Do’s:
particular scanner.                                                       ✔ Always unplug your scanner before cleaning it
OCR scanning: Almost all scanners come with Optical Character             ✔ Place your scanner away from heating vents or windows, or other
Recognition software, but this is usually a stripped down version of a    locations where moisture might affect its functioning.
full package that the software company wants to sell you. Although        ✔ Always keep the scanner on a level surface so that it has a good
these packages lack some of the sophistication of full-fledged OCR        grip, otherwise the mechanism carrying the CCD and fluorescent
programs, they are much simpler to use. Simpler programs                  lamp may get damaged over time
sometimes have problems with multiple columns of text, or                 Don’ts:
documents that include photos and logos, etc. There’s an easy             ✖ Never apply solution directly on the scanner glass. If you find that
solution to this. Photocopy the original and cut the columns into         the glass is dirty or has a slight dust or smoke film underneath and on
                    strips and remove the photographs. Now                the inside, do not unscrew the lid and try to clean it from inside. It’s
                           identifying the text for the OCR software      always advisable to call an authorised service centre.
                                 will be much simpler.                    ✖ Never use abrasives, isopropyl alcohol, benzene, acetone etc on
                                        Adjust brightness, contrast       the scanner glass, as this will streak and cloud the glass, and can
                                            and sharpness: Often you      even cause damage.
                                            may notice that a bright      ✖ Never place your scanner near heating vents or windows, or other
                                            image turns out pretty dull   locations where moisture might affect its functioning.
                                            when scanned. This can be     Also remember:
                                      easily manipulated through the      If you are moving the scanner from one place to another, make sure
                                Twain driver (if it is supported), or     that the transportation lock is enabled, as this prevents the CCD
                           through an image-editing software that lets    array mechanism from moving. Push down the lock, which is
you increase the contrast and brightness levels so that the dull          located at the back of the scanner. Remember to unlock the scanner
image looks much brighter.                                                before you attempt to operate it, or you may end up damaging it.

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OCR Tips                                                               machine), connected to a PC through a modem. This transmission
!  Always choose a scanner that has a white surface under the lid—     uses the TAPI protocol.
this will give more accurate results.                                  Scan to Print/Copy: This allows users to print a scanned document
! Always keep the document flat, and see that there are                directly from a locally connected or network printer. The document
no wrinkles or folded corners—this may produce                         is saved as an image, which can be used later. This saves you the
black patches.                                                             trouble of initialising the printer program to take the print-out.
! Look for de-skew and despeckle                                               Scan to e-mail: This feature lets users mail the scanned
options. This will give more accurate                                               document directly. The moment the Scan-to-mail button
images and also increase the accuracy of                                                  is pressed the system initialises the default mail
OCR software.                                                                                   client. Type in an e-mail address, and hey
! Do not scan a document with black                                                              presto, the scanned document gets mailed
fonts on white background in line-art mode;                                                     instantly.
it will return very poor results. The results will                                              Scan to OCR: This is a new addition that’s
not improve even if you increase the resolution.                                               becoming quite common. It scans the document
Use greyscale mode instead.                                                              and initialises the OCR software. Scanners that have
! 48-bit setting at 200-dpi is more than enough for most                           this feature are usually bundled with an older or light
new OCR software. If the document has images, increase                        version of OCR software.
the resolution to 300-dpi, and preserve the format of the                Scan to CD: This relatively new feature scans the document and
document.                                                              burns it directly onto a CD, saving lots of hard disk space, and
                                                                       imparting mobility to your data.
Hotkeys                                                                Scan to Post: This scans the image and posts it directly to a Web
Scan to Fax: This lets users fax documents using an application that   page. You save on the time taken to open a browser, typing in the
comes bundled with the scanner. It needs a telephone (not a fax        Web address, and uploading the image.

                              The Future of Scanners
           ith the growing popularity of digital cameras,              option is the one-button approach that
           scanners have been pushed out of the average home           automatically completes tasks, such as
           user’s shopping list. However, quite a few users still      sending a scan directly to a printer, or faxing
feel the need for one, especially the flatbed models. They are         a scan.
used to turn paper documents into files, digitise photos and e-            Another improvement that will definitely continue is the
mail them, make reprints, and upload images to Web sites. In           increased number of scanners using a USB port to connect to
the business sector, scanners help to create brochures,                computers, rather than parallel ports. USB connections are
presentations and Web content. There’s never been a better             easier to use and provide faster scan rates. It is also likely that
time than now to purchase a quality scanner at a low price.            mid-range and high-end models will continue to include a SCSI
    Flatbed scanners are the most in demand as compared to             connection, which are even faster, but require users to install a
other types, primarily because they can easily scan bound              SCSI controller card inside the computer.
documents such as books and magazines. Several flatbed models              In the future, you can expect to see an increased
now offer automatic document feeder (ADF) attachments and can          availability of speciality scanners as well as multifunction
scan transparencies and film negatives as well. As a result, both      devices (MFDs) with scanning abilities. Specifically, look for
sheet-fed scanners (which scan loose pages) and handheld               the digital-imaging craze to catch on so that models are
scanners (that require users to move them across a document            expressly designed to scan existing film photos, 35 mm
manually) are now almost history.                                      negatives and slides. These models will scan at a higher
    The popularity of flatbed scanners can be expected to grow         resolution, produce better results and provide users with an
as manufacturers make more improvements in design and                  alternative to buying a digital camera.
ease of use. Look for the incorporation of one-touch button                However, scanner prices are unlikely to fall much lower
functionality, which allow users to bypass the process of              than they are today. Today’s models represent great value—and
using software programs to perform specific functions. A good          are an asset for any serious computer user.

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      Buyer’s Guide

                                    This section is sponsored by

      85                                                           JUNE 2003
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           Full page AD

      86                            JUNE 2003
           ith every passing year, the per-      boomed. With a lot of multimedia files
           formance and capacity bar of          being used today, including MP3, Flash
           digital storage technologies has      files and movies—even today’s entry-level
been raised. This is good news for com-          40 GB hard disks aren’t enough for users.
puter users, as the need for larger and faster   The cost of a 40 GB hard disk ranges from
storage solutions is imperative, consider-       Rs 4,300 to Rs 4,500.
ing how resource-hungry today’s applica-              On the other hand, 60 to 80 GB, 7200
tions and operating systems have become.         rpm drives are also available and are pre-
Usage patterns have also changed rapidly,        ferred by professionals. These are avail-
and the home PC is now increasingly used         able for Rs 8,500 to Rs 9,000. Seeing the
for data-intensive tasks, such as ripping        demand for higher capacity drives, Max-
entire Audio CD collections to MP3 files         tor recently launched its 250 GB hard disk
and making VCDs of special occasions to          in the IDE interface for around Rs. 16,000.
share with loved ones.                           With Serial ATA hard disk technology
    The digital age has brought with             knocking at the door, users might once
               it the need to store vast         again see an upheaval in the coming
                  amounts of data, which         months. This technology, although its
                     has in turn created         infant stage would really push the exist-
                        a     market     that    ing ATA 100/133 to its end due to the
                           witnesses      the    sheer fact of ease of use and low power
                              spawning of        consumption as compared to the existing
                              bigger      and    drives. As it uses a much smaller interface
                              faster storage     connector and cable, the space inside the
                             devices     with    cabinet increases and provides for more
                    amazing regularity.          efficient cooling.
                Of course, all of this would          Today some of the drives available are
mean little if the devices in question           as fast as 15000 rpm which are extremely
weren’t affordable. The good news is             good for multimedia applications such as
that thanks to a very competitive market         ripping of movies and MP3 songs. Due to
and demanding consumers, the storage             the speed, these drives generate a lot of
subsystem has kept pace with the band-           heat and thus need special cooling, for
width demands of today’s applications,           which vendors, such as Antec have
and 7200 rpm hard disk drives with a             launched special hard disk cooling devices
minimum storage space of 40 GB and               that bring down the temperature of the
above are now more common than ever              disk by around 10 to 15 degrees—this
before.                                          enhances the performance as well as the
                                                 life of the disk. Although not popular yet,
Market Conditions                                it has many followers with users looking
The demand for storage in PCs has                for performance.

          Buying tips for Hard Disks
          ! Speed or space? If you need to       of warranty. Some manufacturers will
       store MP3s and DivX films, or to          replace the hard disk only in the first year,
 back up heavy image files, buy the largest      after which they will only repair it. This is
 hard disk you can afford. On the other          rather unreliable and can lead to more
 hand, if you extensively use applications       problems in the future.
 such as image editing or audio processing       ! Confirm the time it takes to replace a
 software, look for the fastest hard disk you    faulty hard disk. This is especially
 can afford—at least a 7200 rpm drive -          important if your business relies heavily
 and buy the largest in that speed range.        on data storage. Generally, manufacturers
 ! Research the market. Ask your friends         who run a service centre are able to
 or dealers you know, or search the              provide quick replacements, while those
 Internet for information about the              who don't have service centres could take
 manufacturer, the reputation they enjoy         weeks to replace a faulty hard disk.
 and their after-sales service.                  ! Check for accessories such as IDE
 ! Check the warranty. Apart from the            cables, disk management software and
 time frame covered, also check the type         operating manuals.

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                                 Pick a Platter
            oday, the entry-level drives are the       Sustained data transfer rates: This is a
            5400 rpm drives, which deliver             measure of the drive’s performance in
            sequential read and write speeds of        terms of data transfer to and from the
     about 25 MBps. This is sufficient for             drive. This should be about 20 to 30
     applications such as word processors,             MBps for 5400 rpm drives and 30 to 50
     Internet surfing, etc. These drives are at        MBps for 7200 rpm drives. The new SATA
     least ATA/66 compliant, which implies a           drives support even higher rates.
     peak theoretical transfer rate of 66 MBps.        Average seek time: This is the average
         The higher performance 7200 rpm               time taken by the drive to access data
     IDE models are generally ATA/100 com-             stored on the drive. A time between 5.5
     pliant and are ideally suited to applica-         to 10 milliseconds is acceptable for most
     tions such as audio and video processing.         mainstream applications.
     The prices for these drives begin from Rs         Data buffer (cache): This is the amount
     4,000 to 4,300 for a 40 GB unit. The              of onboard memory that the drive pos-
     brand-new Serial ATA (SATA) drives sup-           sesses. It increases transfer speeds when
     port the ATA/150 standard. SATA II in             data is copied from one location in the
     fact even goes as far as enabling a theo-         drive to another. This ranges from 512 KB
     retical throughput of 300 MBps! An 80             in the 5400 rpm drives to as much as 8
     GB SATA drive costs around Rs 10,000.             MB in the 7200 rpm IDE models. The
         When it comes to sheer performance,           most common data buffers size is 2 MB.
     however, the latest SCSI technology still         Motherboard/IDE controller card: In
     takes the honours with a theoretical              order to tap the full potential of a hard
     transfer rate of 320 MBps, and the abili-         drive, you need to make sure that your
     ty to daisy chain several devices on a sin-       motherboard’s IDE controller supports
     gle controller. However, this technology          the same specification (ATA/66/100/
     comes at a high price.                            133) interface. If you’re buying a SATA
                                                       hard disk, your motherboard should
     Smart Tips                                        have onboard SATA support, else you’ll
     Capacity: For most users an entry-level           have to buy a controller card as well.
     40 GB drive would be sufficient. Howev-           Finally, be aware that there are two types
     er, IDE drives of capacity up to 250 GB           of SATA controllers—native and bridge.
     are available. SCSI models are available          A bridge merely acts as a connection
     in sizes ranging from 9 GB to 80 GB.              between a SATA drive and the mother-
     Rotational speed: This refers to the spin-        board’s standard parallel ATA interface,
     dle rpm of the drive under consideration.         while a native controller is a true SATA
     Higher spindle speeds lead to faster read         controller. Since a bridge uses the same
     and write performance. These range from           underlying technology that runs the
     5400 to 7200 rpm for IDE drives and               current ATA interface, it wipes out
     7200 to 15000 rpm for SCSI models.                SATA’s performance advantage.

                                       Decision Maker
                  General home use Focus on capacity               Cost no bar
     You Need     A hard disk for gener-   Large data storage   You want the maximum capaci-
                  al applications, such    capacity and speed isty available. Speed becomes a
                  as word processing       not such an issue.   top concern as well. Price is not
                  and Internet surfing                          a problem.
     Look For     40 GB, 7200 rpm,         A minimum of 80 GB, A 200 or 250 GB drive at 5400
                  supporting ATA/100       7200 rpm, supporting rpm or 7200 rpm, supporting at
                  transfer rates.          at least ATA/100.    least ATA/133.

                                           Seagate Barracuda     Maxtor DiamondMax 16
     Our Pick     Samsung SP4002H          ATA IV 80 GB, Western 250 GB
                                           Digital WD1200.
     Price Range Up to Rs 4,500            Up to Rs 6,500        Up to Rs 25,000

88                                                                                    JUNE 2003
Power Tips For for Using
Primary Storage
How Much Space Is                               Also make sure the screws
Enough?                                         that come with the hard drive match the
Depending on your computing needs,              bore size on the drive.
users can be classified into the following      ! Never try to open a hard disk if it fails to
types:                                          respond. Even a particle of dust entering
Less is good…                                   the insides of the drive can destroy the
…if your time on the PC is spent surfing        platter on the disk.
the Internet and maybe creating a               ! Enable S.M.A.R.T. from the BIOS. This
spreadsheet or two. A hard disk with the        slows the drive down, but the difference is
bare minimum capacity should be enough          hardly noticeable for most applications -
for you. The same holds true for businesses     only 2-5 per cent. S.M.A.R.T. is a
where the PC is primarily used for              technology that warns you when there’s a
accounting and billing purposes, or for         problem and the drive is about to fail.
creating letters and spreadsheets. A 40 GB
drive should be sufficient, that’s the entry-   Tip For Organising Files And
level solution available today. Given your      Folders
frugal need for space, this hard disk should    As you install more programs, the number
last you several years.                         of files and folder naturally increases. If
Size does matter…                               you’re not properly organised, you will
…if you’re a typical home user who              waste a lot of valuable time searching for
stores the latest                                    files—and this also makes the hard
applications, MP3s,                                       drive slower. The best way to keep
videos, movie                                                 a check on this is by
trailers and even                                                 partitioning the hard drive
full-length movies,                                                  and allocating each
not to mention space-                                                    partition a size
hogging games. No                                                        according to the
amount of space is ever                                               number of applications
going to satisfy you. Go for                                 that are going to be installed on
at least a 60 GB drive. If you                     the system, and the amount of data that
feel you might exceed that as                   will be stored.
well, 80 GB might be more appropriate.          Here are some simple tips.
Space also matters if you use CAD/CAM           ! Always store files and folders on the
software, or are a graphics professional        secondary partition.
with a penchant for 3D animations.              ! Name the folder according to the data
Speed is your mantra…                           being stored in it—such as ‘Accounts’ for
…if you are a power user, but lack the          files relating to accounts.
purchasing power to buy a SCSI drive.           ! Name the files in such a way that it
Consider a 7200 rpm drive—the capacity          carries enough information regarding its
you get would depend on how much you            content, date it was generated and the
can afford, but an 80 GB drive should suit      name of the concerned person.
you just fine.                                  ! Keep separate folders for different kind
                                                of files, such as images, spreadsheets, text
5 Tips to Keep your Drive                       documents and so on.
Shipshape                                       ! Try not to install games, application and
! Protect the drive from shocks and jerks.      other system utilities on this partition as it
! Always handle the drive by its side.          will clutter the disk with other kind of data
Never touch the underside of the drive or       and slow down disk access.
the drive electronics.                          Over a period of time, as a lot of data is
! When installing the hard drive, take care     stored and deleted it becomes imperative
to screw it firmly to the chassis of the        to defragment the data, which essentially
computer to protect it from vibrations          means rearranging the data at one place
when using the PC. The maximum                  so that access becomes faster. Windows
damage that a drive suffers is usually due      itself provides you this utility, so you need
to improper handling during installation.       not bother installing a third-party

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     program. To access this utility, go to Start    problem with the hard drive. But the main
     > Program > Accessories > System Tools >        cause could be something else—such as
     Disk Defragmenter. The time required to         file corruption, a virus, damaged boot area
     complete the defragmentation will depend        etc. What you can do before going to the
     on the hard drive capacity.                     repair centre is to attach the hard drive in
         Another very useful built-in option you     another system and take a backup of
     get with Windows is Scandisk, which can         important data. After this, if you have the
     also be found in System Tools. It checks        disk repair utility handy, run it and try to
     the hard drive for any errors—lost clusters,    analyse the problem. If this exercise fails,
     bad sectors, etc. You should perform this       format the hard drive and try to reload the
     task once a month to keep your hard drive       OS and other software. If this is successful,
     free from errors.                               go ahead with further installation. If it fails,
                                                     the only option is to go to the service
     Software To Repair And                          centre for repairs.
     Diagnose Hard Disk Errors                            SHDIAG is a program that is used to
     The hard drive is one the most important        diagnose hard disk problems. It works in
     devices in your computer. It not only           DOS mode. The program automatically
     determines the amount of data you can           detects different hard drives attached to
     save, but also affect the performance of        the system and asks the user to select one.
     your system. It’s a very sensitive device, so   We recommend that you take a backup of
     even small shocks could make it unusable.       your data before proceeding. Six different
     Bad sectors are a common problem most           parameters of the hard drive are tested by
     users face. The desktop-level utilities         SHDIAG. If there is no error found, it will
     available for such a problem are very basic     complete the test and stop. If an error is
     and cannot eliminate such bad sectors.          found, the utility asks for permission to
     However, hard drive manufacturers have          perform a low-level format. If the user
     taken pains to develop utilities that take      press ‘Yes’, all information on the drive
     care of many such problems.                     will be lost. If the problem still persists,
                                                     check the cables. Unplug the hard drive
     Is it really a hard drive problem?              and try either a different cable or different
     If your system crashes endlessly and the        connectors on the same cable.
     program refuses to load, you may feel it’s a

90                                                                                      JUNE 2003
              Workshop: Backing up your Data
Clone Me                                      after every test. Thus hard disk cloning
Hard disk cloning is nothing but a            makes all these tasks in different
process by which you create an image or       organisations both manageable and
clone of your hard disk for fast and easy     reliable.
recovery of the operating system during       Norton Ghost 2003 Personal Edition is
disasters. This image could either be         one of the most popular hard disk
stored on another hard disk or a CD.          cloning software, and comes from the
There are many hard disk cloning                    makers of Norton Antivirus,
software available today, such as Drive                   Symantec Corporation. It
Image PRO, Norton Ghost,                                         offers fast and easy
Instant Recovery etc.                                                    cloning recovery
Some advantages of using                                                for both corporate
hard disk clone                                                    and individual users. It
software are:                                                  also provides unmatched
PC Migration: When                                         flexibility, control and features
you shift between PCs or                               additional standalone utilities
plan to upgrade to a new PC,                       such as GDISK. The workshop that
you will need to swap disks                    follows will show you how hard disk
while keeping the original configuration      cloning can be done using Norton
and software intact. Cloning software         Ghost 2003.
helps you take an image of the original       To create or clone an Image File on a
hard disk so that after the swapping is       Partition:
done, the image can be used to restore        Open Norton Ghost through program
the previous configuration.                   files. Click on Backup to open the
Hard disk backups: Data backup is the         backup wizard. Click Next. The wizard
most important task today for any             asks you the source of the image (the
individual or organisation. Data that is      hard disk or partition whose image is to
backed up can be referred to when some        be created). Select ‘File’ as destination,
information is needed or during               and not ‘CD/DVD’. Next, browse to the
formatting of hard disk or a system crash.    other partition where the image has to
The data that is backed up is to be           be stored and give an appropriate name
brought back to the original                  to the image file. The wizard then gives
configuration of the system using the OS.     you the list of devices and drivers, which
The image created by the cloning              cannot be restored from the image. The
software program helps in restoring the       next wizard shows an advanced settings
OS, which in turn can be used to recover      window where the list of external devices
backed-up data.                               and drivers, such as USB or FireWire is to
Disaster recovery: Disasters could occur      be mentioned for later restoration. The
due to power failures, virus attacks or       image can also be password-protected
various other reasons. During these times     using this option. Just click ‘Next’ if you
the hard disk has to be restored after        do not use any USB or FireWire devices
formatting, and one cannot spend ages         and don’t want password-protection.
installing the OS and drivers all over        Now, the wizard shows you a screen to
again. The hard disk image stored in          tell you the interface that is used after
another partition or a CD can be used to      the computer restarts in DOS mode.
restore the OS during disasters.              Click Next, and you will get information
Hard disk cloning can be effectively used     on disaster recovery. The wizard prompts
wherever a large number of computers          you to create a recovery disk and gives
are used. Corporations are often required     you tutorials on how to go about doing
to install a consistent and tested            it. Create a recovery disk as per the
environment on a large number of              instructions and use it in case Windows
computers. Computer labs used as a            fails to boot. The next screen is the task
place of experimentation and                  summary showing details of the source
exploration, run a high risk of virus         and destination. The wizard prompts you
attacks and crashes. Testing labs require a   to save all data and close all applications
basic test configuration to be restored       and then click OK. The computer restarts

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      in DOS mode, an interface opens up and         detected then there’s a chance you can
      the image of the source is created on the      recover your data via software.
      destination partition or hard disk that            Plug in another hard disk to your
      you chose. After another restart, check                   computer so that the data you
      your hard disk or partition for an                          recover can be stored on it.
      image file (.gho extension).                                  However, ensure that the
      You have successfully created                                  second hard disk has more
      an image of your hard disk!                                      free space than the size of
                                                                         the data you need
      Restoring Your                                                      restored. If you wish,
      Computer Using The                                                    you can plug in a Zip
      Image                                                                  drive as well, but
      If you have saved the image and                                         make sure that the
      want to restore it, here’s how to go                                      recovery software
      about it:                                                              you’re using
      Open Norton Ghost and click on                                supports such media.
      ‘Restore’. Click ‘Next’ in the Restore                Remember that though you might
      wizard. Now, the wizard asks you to            have another partition on the crashed
      select the source file—hard disk or            hard disk, you can’t recover data on the
      partition where the image was originally       same hard disk. Hence, it becomes
      created. Next choose the destination           mandatory to plug in another storage
      hard disk or partition that is to be           medium in which data can be stored.
      restored. The wizard issues a warning              Make sure you have a bootable floppy
      that Windows will be rewritten. Check          disk. Insert the floppy disk and boot your
      the box for confirmation and click next.       machine from the floppy. After booting in
      In the next screen the wizard shows the        DOS mode, insert the recovery software
      devices and drivers that it cannot restore     floppy diskette. We’ve taken the example
      from the image. The Advanced settings          of Easy Recovery software from Ontrack,
      allow you to choose external devices           which is considered to be one of the
      that are to be restored. Click ‘Next’ if       most effective. You can also use other
      you don’t use any USB or FireWire              software such as Stellar Phoenix Data
      devices. The wizard now shows the DOS          Recovery Software, Final Data etc.
      interface that it will use during                  You will get an option to select the
      restoration. In the next screen the            primary hard disk (the one that crashed)
      wizard displays the summary of                 as the ‘Recovery source’ and the second
      restoration, and prompts you to save           hard disk as the ‘Restore destination’.
      data and close all applications. Click         The software then analyses the data it
      ‘OK’. Your Computer will reboot. The           has to recover from the crashed hard
      ghost creates a virtual partition and then     disk. It does this by trying to match it to
      reboots again. After rebooting, the            the FAT Tables. The data that matches
      restoration process takes place in the         the FAT table is the data that is still
      interface. The computer reboots again          visible to you, and the data that does not
      after the restoration process is complete.     match the FAT table is generally the data
      By restoring the ghost image you will          you’re trying to recover.
      be able to get your computer up and                Once the utility finds raw data on the
      running in a matter of minutes!                disk that equals a file, but finds no
                                                     similar entry in the FAT Table, it marks
      On The Road To Recovery                        the data as a recoverable file and adds it
      Here’s how you can go about                    to the existing list of files it has. All the
      recovering your data:                          files that exist on the hard drive,
      As soon as you realise your hard disk has      whether in the FAT or detected by the
      crashed, shut down your machine to             software, are shown as recoverable files.
      prevent any further damage to your disk.       Once this is done, you can choose what
      Then restart your machine, go to the BIOS      you want to recover, and it will be
      and check if the hard disk is being            copied to the destination drive. The
      detected. If your hard disk is not detected,   whole process might take hours to
      you won’t be able to recover data through      complete, depending on how much
      any software. However, if the hard disk is     data has to be recovered.

92                                                                                      JUNE 2003
 Serial ATA: Hit or Miss?
 With the upcoming ATA/133 standard            more efficient cooling. In fact, Serial
 pushing the limits of the maximum             ATA uses just four signal pins (there are
 transfer rates supported by the Parallel      a total of seven pins; the others are
 ATA interface, the next step to               used for transmitting overhead
 revolutionise hard disk interfaces will be    commands) that actually carry the data
 Serial ATA. It offers greater speed, easier   and include the power and ground
 fabrication and application.                  pins. This is significantly lower than the
     The Serial ATA interface is to ATA        80 lines that are used in today’s
 what FireWire is to SCSI—the entire           ATA/100 and ATA/133 cables.
 approach is to convert the parallel               This standard will support transfer
 standard that is used by existing ATA         rates of up to 150 MBps. Also, since this
 interfaces to a serial format (where one      is a point-to-point protocol, there will
 bit is transferred at a time) so that         be no place for master and slave devices
 higher data transfer frequencies can be       on a single cable—and bandwidth will
 supported. Also, this approach greatly        not need to be shared between devices.
 simplifies the fabrication of cables and      Another big advantage with this
 connecting wires that are used by the         standard is that it is backward-
 interface, since there are fewer signals      compatible with the existing parallel
 to deal with, facilitating a less cluttered   ATA standard at the driver level.
 cabinet.                                      Therefore, all existing applications that
     This translates into easier airflow       use the parallel ATA standard can be
 within the system—and, subsequently,          fully extended to support Serial ATA.

             Under the bonnet of a Hard Disk

                                                             Sectors are further divided
                                                             into clusters, which are logi-
                                                             cal units of data storage

                                                               The shaft acts as the axis
                                                               for the platters of the
                                                               hard disk

The cylinder con-
sists of corre-
sponding sectors
across all platters                                             Platters have concen-
of the hard disk                                                tric areas called
                                                                Tracks. Each track con-
                                                                sists of several sectors

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     The Future of Primary Storage
     E  merging technology plays a big role in
        today’s business. Peripherals like moth-
     erboards, processors and other system
                                                    connector as against a nor-
                                                    mal 40- or 80-pin cable,
                                                    which translates to a complete
     components are getting faster and demand       reduction in the number of jumbled up
     much more bandwidth from internal and          wires within the cabinet.
     external interfaces. The world of hard disk         One such formation of eight compa-
     manufacturers is changing and the              nies, including some of the largest names
     demand for storage is also on the rise. Wel-   in Japan’s electronics industry, have formed
     come to the next generation revolution in      a consortium to promote and license a new
     hard disk interface, the Serial ATA, popu-     removable hard disk system for use in per-
                                                    sonal computers and consumer electronics
                                                         The IVDR, or Information Versatile
                                                    Disk for Removable usage consor-
                                                    tium, was established by Canon,
                                                    Fujitsu, Hitachi, Phoenix Tech-
                                                     nologies, Pioneer, Sanyo Elec-
                                                     tric, Sharp, and Victor of
                                                     Japan, along with support
                                                     from electronics connector
                                                    maker FCI Japan and com-
                                                    puter peripherals maker Mit-
                                                    sumi Electric.
     larly known as SATA. SATA is one such               IVDR disks are little more than
     standard that will be hitting the internal     conventional 2.5 inch hard disk
     interface industry with a big bang.            drives of the type commonly found in
          Seven key industries worked together      notebook computers, and increasingly in
     to develop a working group for Serial ATA      consumer electronics products such as dig-
     in February 2000 and named it the SATA         ital video recorders and some digital music
     workgroup. The promoters were: APT             players. To the conventional drive, the
     Technologies, Dell Computers, IBM, Intel,      consortium members have added a new
     Maxtor Corporation, Quantum Corpora-           connector, better suited to such a remov-
     tion, and Seagate Technologies. Of these,      able system, and also a plastic case to pro-
     Intel has been the leading player on the       tect the drive.
     host side, with Maxtor taking a key role on         Led by Sanyo, which first considered
     the device side. By December 2000, there       such a system two years ago, the consor-
     were more than 70 contributing compa-          tium members began discussing remov-
     nies covering the disciplines required to      able hard disk drives as a solution to an
     enable this technology.                        ever more common problem: as hard disk
          Serial ATA interface helps transfer       drive technology continues increasing,
     data at a speed of 150 MBps with ease and      maximum drive capacity is roughly dou-
     is moving on to pick up speeds of up to        bling each year which means that con-
     300 MBps by 2005 and 600 MBps by               sumers who buy a product designed to
     2010. This interface is completely differ-     last several years will very soon be left
     ent from parallel ATA interface. The seri-     behind by drive technology.
     al ATA interface is a small thin                    As for cost, the group expects IVDR
     cable with just a 7-                           drives to retail for around 10 or 20 per
                                                    cent more than a PC hard disk drive.
                                                         The highest capacity 2.5 inch hard
                                                    disk drives available now, at around 60 GB,
                                                    already have six times the capacity of dou-
                                                    ble-sided DVD-RAM disks and exceed the
                                                    capacity of the Blu-ray optical disk format.
                                                    Blu-ray was proposed in February by some
                                                    of the same companies, but is not expect-
                                                    ed in the stores for at least a year.

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      Buyer’s Guide

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                              he humble floppy drive is as good as         and more affordable than Zip diskettes.
                              extinct, and the CD-ROM is treading on            So how does one decide on the ideal sec-
                              similar grounds, with faster and more        ondary storage device? A lot depends on what
                       feature-rich DVD-ROMs all set to dominate           you are going to use it for. A CD-Writer forms
                       the food chain. DVDs not only promise an            an excellent secondary storage device because
                       end to multiple-CD games and applications           of its versatility and economy. Falling prices
                       (and the irritant of ‘disk-swapping’ that invari-   and easy availability make CD-R media a
                       ably follows), but also bring with them the         lucrative option when compared with any
                       wonderful world of DVD movies—the concept           other secondary form of storage. CD-R media
                       of the home theatre was never a more likely         offers excellent data integrity and reliability,
                       proposition.                                        and if you back-up important data frequently,
                           In the field of optical storage, an interest-   a CD-Writer is the best solution for you.
                       ing situation has developed in the market—               On the other hand, a DVD-Writer can
                       the prices of DVD-ROM and CD-ROM drives             hold huge amounts of data, which makes it
                       have plummeted dramatically. This has result-       an ideal backup and storage solution for
                       ed in a situation where you can now buy a           design professionals who constantly deal with
                       DVD-ROM or CD-RW drive for approximate-             file sizes running into many gigabytes. Despite
                       ly the same price! Also the speeds of these         their huge capacities, DVD-Writers and DVD-
                       optical drives are at an all-time high—DVD-         R media are quite costly (and hence uneco-
                       ROM drives are maxing out at 16X speeds             nomical), but this will certainly change as the
                       while CD-ROM drives can read data at 52X            adoption increases.
                       ROM speeds.                                              For people who can’t invest in a DVD-
                           CD-Writers today can burn 700 MB of data        writer—already launched by LG at a price of
                       in less than three minutes, and a rewritable        around Rs 25,000—but still want a high-capac-
                       CD (CD-RW) allows you to burn data more             ity storage device, an external hard disk is an
                       than 50 times on the same disk with reason-         excellent proposition. With a USB interface
                       able reliability.                                   these drives provide fairly good data transfer
                           DVD-RW, which is still in a nascent stage       rates. Moreover, you can take the data wher-
                       of development, shows tremendous scope as           ever you go, so your work is not limited to the
                       the ideal data backup solution, with capacities     office PC.
                       ranging from 4 GB on a normal DVD-R to 23                On the other hand, USB Pen drives are
                       GB on the new Blue Ray DVD disk. It will cer-       good for moving small document files and
                       tainly take some time for the DVD-R to catch        other important data that’s not more
                       on, simply because the prices are too high          than 512 MB. But the real advantage of these
                       right now. But make no mistake—they are the         solid-state storage devices is their size—they
                       future.                                             can be easy slipped into your pocket or used as
                           Another category of storage devices are         keychains.
                       external hard drives and the cute USB Pen                Some models like Creative MuVo and
                       drives; ideal solutions for people who shuttle      Apacer Steno offer another advantage—they
                       data to and from their home computer and            can double as MP3 players. Windows XP does-
                       office PC. The Darwinian theory is certainly        n’t even require you to install drivers, so oper-
                       holding true for Zip and Jaz drives, which are      ating most of these devices is child’s play.
                       seeing a rapid downfall as CD-Rs become more
                                                                                       Market Overview
                                                                                       In optical storage, CD-ROM has
                                                                                       gone out of focus both for buyers
                                                                                       and resellers as CD-Writers have
                                                                                       made inroads in a big way. The
                                                                                       prices for CD-ROMs have plum-
                                                                                       meted to an all time low of approx-
                                                                                       imately around Rs 1,000. Market
                                                                                       sources mentions that this is the
                                                                                       lowest possible and beyond this
                                                                                       point, the vendors would pull CD-
                                                                                       ROMs rather than selling at a loss.
                                                                                       Eventually in another 6 months or
                                                                                       so, in optical drives CD-ROMs
                                                                                       would be extinct and only DVD-
                                                                                       ROMs and CD-Writers would be
                                                                                       available. With prices for CD-Writ-

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                                                              These should be considered only if         Also Remember…
                                                              you really need them.
                                                                                                         ■ Types of media that can
                                                                  Though DVD-Writers have been
                                                                                                         be used are CD-R and CD-
                                                              touted by vendors for a year or so,        RW. The advantage of the
                                                              they have been priced far out of reach     more expensive CD-RW
                                                              of the average home user. Nearly all       media is that it is reusable.
                                                              DVD-Writers are priced between Rs
                                                              27,000 and Rs 35,000, which can            ■ If you have an older sys-
                                                              hardly be called affordable. Also, the     tem, you may not be able to
                                                              price of DVD-R media can vary from         write at speeds faster than
                                                              Rs 90 for unbranded ones to Rs 400         8x, because your system is
                                                                                                         incapable of feeding the
                                                              for good-quality branded options.
                                                                                                         writer with data at the
                                                              Further, there’s a lot of confusion over
                                                                                                         required rate. This is usually
                                                              DVD-R media formats currently avail-       due to slower hard drives,
ers falling fast, they are virtually replacing all   able in the market.                                 low processing power and
other secondary storage devices at the desk-             Though this technology is far superior to       limited RAM.
top level as the primary storage and backup          CD-Writers in terms of amount of data storage
solution. Today a 52X CD-Writer costs only           and reliability, the high cost makes them
around Rs 5,000. In contrast, even a year ago        affordable only to a handful of people. But it’s
a 32X used to cost at least Rs 8,000. Similarly,     only a matter of time for prices to fall and for
CD-R media sold for Rs 25 to 35 a year ago, but      DVD-Writers to become as affordable as CD-
today they cost around Rs 13 for a 700 MB            Writers, so do have the patience to wait!
disk. These drives can also read CD-RW media,            USB Pen drives from popular brands like
which can be used up to 50 times and cost            Iomega, Creative and IBM have suddenly
around Rs 75 each. This further reduces run-         caught the attention of buyers. These drives
ning costs in a big way.                             no longer come as just a storage device—many
     All these advantages have seen CD-              have integrated a full-function MP3 player
Writers being accepted in a big way, whether         into these drives. The prices for these drives
it’s for data backup, moving work from office        vary a lot depending on the capacity of the
to home, or creating back-ups for all                drive and any extra frills it has. A standard 128
your favourite MP3s and movies. So, CD-              MB drive should cost around Rs 3,500, and the
Writers could be your best choice at the             same capacity drive with an integrated MP3
moment. The same cannot be said for exter-           players should set you back by Rs 7,500 or so.
nal CD-Writers, since today a 48X external           These drives can be considered as an ideal
CD-Writer can cost as much as Rs 9,000.              replacement for floppy drives.

             Buying Tips
          DVD-ROMs                                   CD-Writers
!  Since 16X is the fastest speed available it is    !  Make sure the drive has a high spin speed and
advisable to go in for that.                         low access times. Access time is more important
! Please take a look at the various formats the      if you need to read non-sequential data such as
drive can play. Most DVD players can’t play all      games.
the formats. If you have a DVD-RW it may be          ! It should support oversizing/overburning.
possible it can’t read that disc. In that case, a    ! It should support TAO, DAO, Multi-Session
new DVD-ROM will be a bad investment.                and Incremental Packet Writing.
! Also ask for the warranty period and the parts     ! It should support RAW writing.
covered in the warranty.                             ! It should include CD-burning software.
! Make sure you buy a DVD-ROM drive which
has at least a buffer memory of 512 KB.              General Checklist
! A slot DVD Rom will last longer than the tray      !  The drive’s firmware should be upgradable for
one. Hence it is advisable to invest in a Slot       future support.
DVD-ROM.                                             ! Drivers for all major operating systems should
! Ensure that a good DVD playback software such      be included.
as WinDVD is provided along with the drive.          ! The audio and IDE cables should be included
! A DVD-ROM drive should be able to read             in the package.
dual-sided DVD media.                                ! It should have at least a one-year warranty.

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                                               Secondary Storage

           hether you need to back up important files or trans-          and cartridges have the advantage of quick access to data stored
           port data from one computer to another, a wide                on the media. If you have larger data backup requirements
           array of external storage options are available to you.       then opt for a drive with higher speed to save time.
From a few megabytes of data to several gigabytes, you can be            Portability: If you share your data with others, it makes sense
sure to find a unit that suits your storage requirements, and at         to consider options that are in widespread use. Iomega’s Zip
the same time fits your budget.                                               drives, for example, are quite popular. The other options
                                                                                          are the newer Flash-memory-based drives that
Spinning the Disc                                                                          utilise the USB port on any PC and make data
CD-ROM drives offer data transfer speeds rang-                                             portability even simpler.
ing from 2.5 MBps to 4.7 MBps for the IDE mod-                                             Build quality: Some cheaper drives have very
els. SCSI CD-ROM drives are available, but are not                                         fragile loading and unloading trays. This tends
something that most mainstream users will consider.                           to fail over a period of time. Look for a drive with a stur-
     The differences in transfer rates between CD and DVD-               dy mechanism.
ROM drives are very significant. DVD drives are usually adopt-           Durability: Media that is enclosed in a case will withstand the
ed by users who have easy access to DVD movies.                          test of time better than exposed media. CD-ROM discs, which
     CD-R and CD-RWs are the choice of today for inexpensive             are the most popular means of data storage nowadays, are high-
storage options, and cost between Rs 3,000 and Rs 7,000 for              ly susceptible to scratches—which could render them useless.
most 48X to 52X drives.                                                  Interface: IDE is the least expensive and most popular option.
                                                                         SCSI models require an additional SCSI card to be installed,
Technology Insight                                                       but result in lower CPU utilisation. External models tend to
A CD-ROM drive consists of a laser that is mounted on an                 use the USB interface.
assembly that can align it with any part of the disc as it spins.
This laser reads the data which is stored in the form of a pit (bit
0) and land (bit 1). DVD-ROM drives differ only by the higher
density of information stored on the media.                                Jargon Buster
     CD-Writers are similar to regular CD-ROM drives except               Back-up: The essential job of saving and storing data on a tape or
that they let you burn the data on blank media. The media has             other storage device, such as a CD-ROM, outside your computer
a compound layer which, while in a crystalline state, allows the          hard disk or computer network.
laser beam to pass through and reflects it back from the metal            Copy Protection: Both discs and players come equipped with
layer. When in the amorphous state it doesn’t allow reflection            hardware mechanisms to prevent the illegal copying of DVDs. You
of light. This describes the 1 and 0 states of information stor-          will not be able to copy the movie to a VHS tape, your computer’s
age. The laser beam is powerful enough to change the state of             hard drive or any other data -recording device.
the dye in the medium used for writing.                                   DAT: Digital Audio Tape (DAT) is a compact, high capacity form
                                                                          of data storage, suitable for archiving or backing up large
Smart Tips                                                                amounts of data.
Capacity: This really depends on your application, or the                 DVD: DVD (digital versatile disk) is a high-density format for
quantity of data you need to back up. There is no real need to            playing full motion video. It provides vast data storage capacity.
go overboard on storage capacity, as the cost of such media               Although popular within the home market, DVDs can also be used
and devices are quite steep.                                              to hold computer data.
Speed: Random access media such as hard drives, CD flavours

                                                            Decision Maker
                Inexpensive backup           Fast backup                 Portability and space                  Entertainment enthusiast
You Need        Speed is not an issue; you   Speed is everything, and    Speed becomes a concern as well.       To watch high quality
                are just looking for a       you have no intention of    Price is not a problem.                movies as well as have
                cheap, reliable backup       spending more than 5 or 6                                          the regular CD-ROM
                solution                     minutes to burn a CD.                                              functionality
Look For        32X, 48X CD-ROM              A 52X CD-Writer             A drive that can store approximately   Look for a DVD-ROM that is
                                                                         1 to 2 GB of data on a single disc;    rated at 16X or better.
                                                                         SCSI or FireWire connectivity.
Our Pick        Samsung, LG or Liteon        Liteon LTR55246S, MSI       Iomega Jaz drive,                      LITEON 16X DVD Drive,
                                             CD-RW CR52-A2               Castlewood ORB drives                  Pioneer 16X DVD Drive
Price Range     Rs 3,000 to 3,500            Less than Rs 5,500          Rs 17,000 to Rs 28,000                 Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000

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Power Tips for for Maximising CD-Writer Performance
!  Enable ASPI (Advanced SCSI Protocol Interface). ASPI drivers             double-click the System icon, choose the
mainly consist of these four files: apix.vxd, apienum.vxd,                  Performance tab, select File System, click the
winaspi.dll, and wnaspi32.dll. They allow the CD-Writing                    Hard Disk tab, and under ‘Typical role of this
software to access the hardware.                                            computer’, change ‘Desktop computer’ to ‘Network
! Keep your hard drive in top condition by regularly running disk           server’.
tools like Scandisk and Disk Defragmenter.                                  ! If you need to burn a CD while you are still on the network,
! Disable programs running in the background (screensavers,                 disable ‘File and Print Sharing’ under Network Properties, to
alerts, anti-virus programs, etc) to free up system resources.              prevent other users from accessing your hard drive.
! Shut down all other applications while burning CDs; do not                ! Enable DMA from Start > Setting > Control Panel > System >
use the computer for any other tasks while a CD is burning.                 Device Manager > CD ROM > Device Name > Setting > DMA. This
! For a CD-to-CD copy, always create an image before writing.               helps the device to directly talk to the hard drive rather than
! Keep the firmware versions up to date. Check the                          going through the CPU and then accessing the drive.
manufacturer’s Web site for latest updates.                                 ! If you have a fast CD-Writer but a slow processor and hard disk
! If you use an ATAPI (IDE) CD-RW drive, make sure it’s on a                subsystem (ATA 33), it is safer to burn the CD at a speed lower
different IDE channel than the hard drive. PCs come with at least           than the maximum possible.
two IDE channels (primary and secondary) built into the                     ! Use Track-At-Once instead of Disk-At-Once to burn an Audio
motherboard. Each channel supports two IDE devices on a single              CD. This will make the Audio CD look more professional because
cable: a master and a slave. Hard drives should always be on the            a 2 second gap will be inserted between each burned track and
primary channel, and ATAPI devices (if any) should be on the                the CD can then be mass produced error-free.
secondary channel. Preferably keep your CD-Writer as the                    ! Always finalise a burned Audio CD to ensure that it plays on
secondary master device.                                                    your home music system.
! Disable auto insert notification from Start > Setting > Control           ! Use branded CDs for burning critical data—cheaper media are
Panel > System > Device Manager > CD ROM > Device Name >                    prone to damage and can’t hold data for long.
Settings.                                                                   ! Try to simulate a burn process if the CD-Writer has just
! Windows 98 users can increase the disk cache for frequently               presented you with a coaster. Most CD-Writing software will
used hard-disk data. Select Start > Settings > Control Panel,               allow this.

                                             Workshop: Using CD-Writers
 How to Make a Bootable CD using Nero                                       Make Music CDs using Nero
 Step 1: Get a bootable CD or a bootable floppy of the operating            You can also burn CDs using Nero Burning ROM
 system to make the new bootable CD.                                        Step 1: Click on Start > Programs > Ahead Nero > Nero Burning ROM.
 Step 2: Start Nero and select the CD-ROM (boot) in the main win-           Step 2: Select the Audio CD option and click on the Next button.
 dow. You will be greeted with a new window with an option where            Step 3: Use the Finish button to confirm all the details.
 you can select the drive in which the bootable floppy/CD is locat-         Step 4: Select the songs you wish to save on the CD from the
 ed. Here, make sure the bootable media is in the drive, otherwise          File Browser on the right side of the screen. Drag them to the
                                           the drive letter will not be     Compilation window on the left by holding down the left button
                                           highlighted.                     on your mouse.
                                           Step 3: Put the blank media      Step 5: Once you have dragged all the files across, you are ready to
                                           in the CD-Writer and leave       save (or ‘burn’) to a CD. Go to File > Write CD… option to launch
                                           the ISO and Misc tab as it is.   the Burn CD Wizard.
                                           Give the appropriate name        Step 6: Click the Burn button to start writing process.
                                           in the label section for the     Step 7: Once your CD has been written, click the Discard button.
                                           bootable CD. Select the          You can now retrieve your recorded CD from the drive.
 Burn tab and check the write and Finalize the CD. Select the               Note: After the
 Disc-at-Once write method and click on the New tab.                        burning process is
 Step 4: Since the bootable CD will be left with lots of unused             over. To exit from
 space, it can be utilised to burn drivers and updates for your PC.         Nero, select File >
 Step 5: Select the Write tab and in the window which opens,                Exit from the menu
 select the safe writing speed according to the configuration of            bar. Now you will
 your machine.                                                              be greeted with a
 Step 6: Now you are ready to write the CD. The typical size of the         window
 bootable CD for windows 98SE should come to around 125 MB                  asking you to save
 and it will take around 4 to 5 minutes to complete the process.            the session. Click the No button.
 Step 7: Check by booting the system with the CD you burned.

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                  Software Bundles and Package Contents
W      hat is a CD-Writer without CD-Writing software—or with
       software that can’t do half of what the CD-Writer promis-
es? CDs often get damaged due to problems with the writing
                                                                           size is not very big and this is without doubt the most easy-
                                                                           to-use CD-Writing software. The popularity of this software
                                                                           among top CD-Writer manufacturers is reason enough for it
software rather than the CD-Writer—its inability to                        to be the most widely recommended CD-Writing software
properly recognise the writer or the operating                                             suite.
system’s file system and/or other intrica-                                                      Verdict: Nero has probably the best wizards
cies.                                                                                       designed for CD writing, making the whole process
     Also, support for the wide array                                                        very simple. It also has a really large CD-Writer
of formats is critical. Providing the                                                        database, ensuring high compatibility.
best compatibility when it comes to                                                              NTI Professional: NTI professional has an
operating systems and the ability to                                                        interface that appears similar to Nero’s. It comes
recognise a wide variety of CD-Writ-                                                        bundled with a simple CD label creator. Apart
ers is critical. Some software like                                                         from supporting normal CD creating modes, it
Nero and Easy CD Creator have made a name for them-                                        has a very interesting feature—Live Audio Writ-
selves in this arena.                                                                      ing, which allows voice recording directly on to
     The contents of the package are also a measure of the total           a CD. NTI also has a built-in ISO and file comparing tool. Anoth-
value offered by the company. Since no software comes for free,
getting high-quality software bundled with the CD-Writer is def-
initely an advantage.
     Nero Burning ROM: This is probably the most popular CD-
                                                                             DVD Region Locking
Writing software. The latest version now comes equipped with                As a part of DVD technology licensing arrangements, the world
speed selection for erasing the CD-RW media. Another new fea-               has been divided into six geographic regions. This means that
ture that attracts immediate attention is the CD cover designer.            movies from Region 1 (USA and Canada) will not play on a DVD
Backing up your hard disk is also made easy.                                player designated for regions 2 to 6. Effectively, Region 1 discs
     The Wave Editor tool extends the functionality of the soft-            play only on Region 1 DVD players, Region 2 discs play only on
ware by allowing you to load and edit music files. Reducing noise           Region 2 DVD players and so on.
in tracks, increasing volume and giving other such effects is now           A region code is embedded in the DVD-ROM drive. The first DVD
not only possible, but easy as well. This version has features even         disc inserted into a drive sets the region code for the drive. The
for Mac users. It has support for Hybrid CD and HFS partition.              drive’s region can be changed four more times before it is
You also have an integrated tool that adds support for virus scan-          permanently locked to a region. Inserting a disc that has a
ning over the Internet.                                                     different region code than the drive’s current code makes these
     The latest version of Nero has two additional diagnostic               changes.
tools, Nero CD Speed and Nero Drive Speed. The installation

  Maintenance Tips
  The drive                                                                The Media
  Do’s: Your CD or DVD-ROM drives is probably the most used                Do’s:
  peripheral, when it comes to playing games, movies, songs or             ! The media, that is the CD-ROM is supposed to be long lasting
  installing any software. In order to extend the life of your CD-         however very often one finds that they fail to do so due to
  ROM, one should use a lens cleaner at least once a month which           mishandling. The media should always be kept in a jewel case so
  is freely available in the market to clean the lens of the CD/DVD-       that it remains free from dust and scratches.
  ROM drive.                                                               ! If you find dust settled on the media then you should clean it
  Don’ts: One common mistake that usually everyone does is                 with a soft clean cloth to prevent scratches, as the drive will take
                           closing the disc-loading tray by manually       longer time in reading the dirty media or it may even fail to read
                                pushing it by the hand resulting in        it completely.
                                     misalignment of the tray due to       ! Always hold the media from the edges.
                                          the extra force exerted by the   ! Always clean the media from the centre to the outer portion.
                                           human hand. It is               Don’ts:
                                                  recommended to           ! The media should not be exposed to direct sunlight as it may
                                                  close the tray by        damage the CD-Rom.
                                                  pressing the button      ! Never clean the media in circular motion.
                                               from the panel thereby      ! Make sure you there are no fingerprints on the Media.
                                       avoiding any sort of

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                                                                          Clicking on the graphical representation of the media in the
                                                                      recorder brings up Disk Explorer and the Properties menu, dis-
                                                                      playing information regarding the media. It also has a step-by-
                                                                      step help file in HTML format.
                                                                          There’s a list of supported formats and a comprehensive error
                                                                      message list. The software has good support on the Net and is a
                                                                      good choice for those looking for a stable and hassle-free CD
                                                                      writing software.
                                                                          Verdict: This is a well-developed CD burning software but the
                                                                      interface could do with a facelift.

                                                                        Taking Care of Your
er advantage is that it is very light on the system.
    Verdict: NTI Professional detects all major CD Writers and is
                                                                        Optical Drive
easy to use, but it doesn’t offer any outstanding features.            !  Never use poor quality detergents and sprays for cleaning.
    Easy CD Creator 5 Platinum: This is a big software as far as       Clean the drives using a soft, dry fabric.
install size is concerned—but it’s worth it, given the extensive       ! Keep the tray clean. Use a duster for thorough cleaning.
feature list. The software sports one of the neatest interfaces,       ! Use a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) for your computer
making it easy to access different features. Access to the sub-        and the Writer. This will protect your system from any surge or
menu is through the main menu, and it’s very difficult to make         dip in power.
mistakes. The software comes bundled with Direct CD, which             ! Do not push the tray to close it; always use the eject button
allows you to drag-and-drop files from Windows Explorer. To            instead.
increase audio and video quality, Easy CD has built-in filtering       ! Never try to force the tray out, if it doesn’t eject automatically.
software.                                                              Use the pin provided with the drive to manually remove the tray.
    Creating an audio or video CD takes just one click. Copy-          ! Use a good quality lens cleaner to keep the lens clean, as this
ing a CD using the CD Copier option is an easy task. Those             is one of the most important parts of the drive.
who regularly take backups on CDs will be pleased with Take
Two backup tool, which takes backups and even looks for
updates on your drive. Like other CD burning software, Easy
CD Creator has an online Web Check Tool and a CD label
    Verdict: This is one of the best designed and most feature-rich
CD burning software available.
    Prassi PrimoCD Plus: This one has a relatively simple inter-
face. The software takes very little time to install—it has an
install size of just 2.23 MB and no memory-hogging tray icons.
Instead, it has very small buttons that take just a few attempts
to get used to.
    Burning a data/audio/video CD is very easy as there are but-
tons for them on the main interface. This speeds up the process
by eliminating scrolling time. A box at the bottom displays
appropriate messages to guide the user.

 Is my CD-Writer too
 Fast for my PC?
 CD-Writer speeds now touch 52X but is your system capa-
 ble of sustaining those data transfer rates? Does buying a
 fast CD-Writer make sense when you have a slow perform-
 ing system? Well, don’t be fooled into upgrading just
 because you bought a fast CD-Writer. For your ‘fast’ CD-
 Writer to give you optimal performance, it is sufficient to
 have a PC with a 500 MHz processor with 128 MB RAM
 (256 MB recommended). Though the data transfer rate to
 the writer is fast, it is still much lower than the data
 throughput a hard drive can achieve. Hence, any 5,400-
 rpm hard drive should suffice.

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                  CD-R Demystified                                                      DVD-R Demystified

                        The Future of Storage Devices
S  econdary storage devices have evolved a great deal from the
   slow, cumbersome and low-capacity floppy drives to the lat-
est DVD-Writers capable of storing gigabytes of data. The future
                                                                        ing fails and the media becomes unusable. This
                                                                        can happen when attempting to burn a CD-R
                                                                        while performing other tasks, or when recording
seems very bright, with new inventions and newer standards              from a relatively ‘slow’ source to a ‘fast’ target.
being formed to cope with the growing storage needs on multi-               In the past, you needed to shut down all the other activities
ple platforms.                                                          running on your PC and wait till the CD-Writer finished writing
     CD-Writers have theoretically reached a saturation point           the CD. With the advent of Burn-Proof technology, you no
from where further upgrading seems impossible. Many vendors             longer need to continuously monitor the buffer bar. Introduced
like Plextor have invented new ways of crunching more data into         by Sanyo, CD-Writers featuring this technology have become
a normal 700 MB disk but they are plagued with incompatibili-           intelligent enough to synchronise, wait and then burn the data.
ty issues with existing CD-ROM drives, which are incapable of               Using this technology, recording is paused at a specific loca-
reading such ‘oversized’ disks.                                         tion when an impending buffer-underrun condition is detected.
     On the other hand, DVD-Writers are still in a nascent stage        The writing process resumes only when the buffer has been suffi-
and hence more promising than other devices. Currently avail-           ciently replenished and after repositioning the CD-Writer’s opti-
able DVD-R can store about 4 GB of data, but the newer Blue Ray         cal pickup mechanism to the appropriate sector.
disks—which have just appeared on store shelves—can store a                 Most major drive manufactures either license similar tech-
mammoth 23 GB data on a single disk.                                    nology or have developed their own variants. Mitsumi and LG
                                                                        Electronics use OAK Technology’s ExacLink system, Yamaha does
Burn-Proof Technology                                                   the same but under the brand name SafeBurn. Acer Communi-
Buffer underruns occur when the computer fails to provide data          cations refers to their technology as Seamless Link and Ricoh
to the CD-Writer in a continuous stream. As a result, the record-       calls theirs JustLink.

                                                                        Hybrid DVDs
  External v/s Internal Writers                                         Nine leading consumer electronics manufacturers have jointly
  Choosing between an external and an internal drive depends            established the basic specifications for a next-generation large-
  primarily on your requirements.                                       capacity optical disk video recording format called Blue Ray. These
  ! Internal drives are usually cheaper. You can choose these if        DVDs can hold six times as much data as current standard disks.
  you are a home user and not always on the move.                       The new format can store more than 13 hours of film, compared
  ! Till now external writers were slower compared to internal          with the current limit of 133 minutes.
  writers due to their interface but with the arrival of FireWire and       High Density-DVD is an enhanced form of current DVD for-
  USB 2.0, this is no longer a problem. Drives based on the SCSI        mat. Blue lasers have a much shorter wavelength than the red
  interface were traditionally the fastest.                             lasers used in current DVD players, allowing for much greater disk
  ! The greatest advantage of an external USB CD-Writer is that         capacity. The new high definition format allows a capacity of 4.7-
  it can be hot-plugged to the PC (that is, there’s no need to          15 GB on a single-sided, single-layered disk, and a capacity of 8.5-
  shut down and restart).                                               30 GB on a single-sided, double-layered disk. Some feel this is a
  ! External writers come with the added baggage of                     cost-effective upgrade path for media vendors—and a backward-
  SCSI/FireWire/USB 2.0 cards, which adds to the budget.                compatible solution for those who’ve already built DVD libraries.
  ! Internal CD-Writers tend to hog a great deal more of the                Current DVD players use 650 nanometre (nm) red lasers,
  system’s resources.                                                   while CD players use 780 nm diodes. It won’t be possible to play
  ! Buffer underruns used to be a big problem with internal             Blue Ray disks with existing DVD and CD players, since these
  drives, but that’s been solved with the advent of buffer              don’t contain 405 nm lasers. Blue Ray drives will need to contain
  underrun protection technology.                                       780, 650 and 405 nm lasers in order to be compatible with CD
                                                                        and DVD disks.

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      Buyer’s Guide

                                     This section is sponsored by

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          n the good old days of the clickety-       at a humble Rs 300 and touch the sky at
          clack typewriter, nobody gave the          Rs 5,000, so it all depends on the brand
          keyboard a second glance. It came          and the type. For instance, a wireless RF
      with the equipment, and that was about         (Radio Frequency) keyboard could cost
      it. The arrival of the personal computer       over Rs 4,500. A keyboard with a PS/2
      changed things drastically. So much so         interface, on the other hand, starts at just
      that even the 101-key keyboard is now          Rs 300.
      passé. Newer multimedia keyboards sport            Keyboards from Typhoon, Frontech
      as many as 22 hotkeys, and                                      and Neotech also have a
      boast of aesthetic and                                             built-in microphone,
      ergonomic         designs.                                         along with multimedia
      They can cost as much                                              functional keys. Look
      as Rs 12,000, but you                                             for keyboards that
      can pick up a                                                    accommodate          extra
      regular keyboard for                                           function        keys     for
      as little as Rs 300.                                          increased productivity—
           Important factors to be considered                      for surfing the Internet,
      before purchasing a new keyboard               running a CD audio player or opening
      include the comfort it gives you while         the mailbox. However, these keyboards
      typing, the layout of the keys on the          rely on software to run the different
      device, tactile feedback, the presence or      programs, and work with only certain
      absence of a palm rest or wrist support,       operating systems.
      the number of hotkeys available,                   Cordless keyboards are also available,
      integrated trackballs and other mouse          but at higher prices. These keyboards
      controls, the interface (USB or PS/2), and     come with an incorporated touchpad
      of course, overall build quality.              (something that works like a mouse),
           The popular brands in the market are      saving a lot of space. If you consider an
      Microsoft, Logitech, Samsung, Acer,            infrared keyboard, check for the type of
      Typhoon, Odyssey, Frontech, Gigabyte,          battery the keyboard uses, as well as the
      Neotech, Vesta and Mercury. Prices begin       average battery life. Further, these devices
                                                     work only along the line of sight, which
                                                     may be problematic for some users.
                                                         For users who are paranoid about
                  Buying Tips for                    security,    there     are   identification
                  Keyboards                          keyboards with fingerprint verification.
               ■ The keyboard needs to be soft       These allow you to lock and unlock your
       and smooth                                    computer with a mere touch of your
       ■ Leg pegs on the keyboard should be          finger. However, they may be difficult to
       sturdy; most tend to break with the slight-   find in the market.
       est of jerks.                                     Keyboards come in different
       ■ The keys should be tactile and not          layouts—typing keys are generally laid
       require too much pressure to register.        out in the same style that was common
       Since it’s in constant use, any glitch with   for typewriters. Critics of the QWERTY
       the keyboard can be very irritating.          layout (taken from the letters on the first
       ■ An ergonomic keyboard is split in the       line of the said keyboard) have adopted
       middle, offsetting the keys where the         another layout, called Dvorak, which
       two hands lie. This type of keyboard          places the most commonly used letters in
       does take some time to get used to,           a more convenient arrangement.
       especially since the arrow keys have          However, these may be difficult to use for
       been completely changed.                      people used to working on QWERTY
       ■ Many vendors offer a combination of a       keyboards.
       keyboard and mouse in a cheap package             AT-connector keyboards are sought
       deal. This is worth exploring.                after by users with older motherboards.
       ■ At the minimum, any Windows user            You can find this keyboard with a PS/2
       should opt for a keyboard with a              converter with a few vendors. This
       Windows shortcut key.                         interface, anyway, does not apply to new
       ■ Try to fit in a wrist pad that provides     computers.
       additional comfort and causes less strain         As far as mice are concerned, critical
       on your wrists.                               factors that should be taken into account
                                                     include the accuracy they provide in

106                                                                                  JUNE 2003
                 gaming      and     image           ergonomic, good to look at, and fall
                      editing, the degree            within the price bracket of Rs 3,500 to
                       of symmetry that              Rs 6,500. Some of these boards—such as
                        they      afford—            Logitech’s Freedom Optical—aim to
                          making things              offer a complete solution: in this case, a
                           easy for both             wireless, optical one.
                            right-handed                  Joysticks   form     an   important
                       and left-handed               component in the buying list of any avid
people—both on a surface and with the                gamer. The Indian market has some of
palm. The placement of buttons and                   the best joysticks in the world. A glut of
design aspects, the quality and stability            low-priced sticks storms the arena every
of the buttons, and the length of the                few months, and then vanishes off the
cable are other critical features. Optical           shelf at the same speed. Major players are
mice are fairly common these days, and               Microsoft and Logitech, with awesome
are preferred over ball mice. In terms of            technologies and prices to match.
interface, those that plug into the                  Companies such as Saitek, Frontech and
USB port should be chosen instead of                 Typhoon provide a price to performance
PS/2 mice.                                           advantage.
     Current market analysis shows that                   Features that make a difference
the two-button scroll mouse is still selling         between good and bad joysticks are force
more than any other type of mouse. Of
late, optical mice from vendors such as
                                                     feedback, number of axes, the presence of
                                                     a hat-switch, a push throttle and the
Mercury and The Best can be bought for               number of programmable buttons.
anywhere between Rs 700 and Rs 1,000.                Comfort is also of paramount importance
They are thus becoming more affordable,              when judging the usability of a joystick.
but mass acceptance is still another price-               As far as the button quality is
cut away, especially when a normal ball              concerned, consider the play the button
mouse can be had for less than Rs 400.               offers—the less the play, the more sturdy
The professional user would of course like           it is. For overall finish, look for panel
the reduced hassle and the greater                   gaps and squeaking sounds that are
accuracy afforded by these optical                   usually present in a bad quality product.
devices.                                             In terms of interface, USB joysticks
     A     keyboard        and      mouse            should always be preferred over ones that
combination is meant to be a one-stop                plug into the gameport. However, make
solution for discerning and wallet-                  sure your PC has a free USB port before
heavy users. These bundles are                       you buy one.

Power Tips
!  Adjust the height of the chair until your fore-   face or edge of your table.
arms are parallel to the keyboard when typing,       ! Pads can be used to protect
and your wrists are in a neutral position.           your elbows if necessary.
! Ensure your eyes are at the same height as         ! Avoid hitting the keys on the keyboard with
the top of the monitor.                              excessive force.
! Keep the keyboard and mouse close to you           ! Avoid holding the mouse tightly.
to avoid stretching to reach these devices.          ! Take frequent breaks from typing.
! Leave space in front of the keyboard for you       ! When typing, keep hands relaxed and fin-
to rest your hands when you are not using the        gers gently curved. Your hands should ‘float’
keyboard.                                            easily above the keyboard.
! Keep the screen and keyboard in a position         ! Allow wrists to rest on a wrist pad during
that's best suited for your task. They could be      preparation for next entry, not when typing.
directly in front of you or slightly to one side.    Avoid extended wrist positions.
! Maintain a good posture when working at            !     Try a different keyboard, mice and
the keyboard. You can avoid back pain by             trackball. There are many designs available
using a chair that offers back support.              in the market and you should find one that
!   Keep your shoulders relaxed, with your           works best for you. If you find a mouse
elbows close to your sides, when working.            uncomfortable, you could try switching to a
! Avoid resting your elbows on the hard sur-         trackball.

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                                           Input Devices
                                                                      Technology Insight

          nput devices consist of keyboards, joy-
          sticks and mice. The market is full of                      The flat QWERTY layout is the most pop-
          a wide variety of products, and decid-                      ular, but some people prefer more
      ing which one is right for you can be con-                      ergonomic models. The Natural and split
      fusing.                                                         keyboards from Microsoft are examples
           You can buy a cheap, no-frills key-                        of these.
      board that is sturdy, and does the job at                            Most mice use a roller-ball mecha-
      a rock-bottom price of Rs 300. There are                        nism to track horizontal and vertical
      several kinds to choose from, including                         movement. Some mice use an optical
      regular 104-key PS/2 keyboards and                              motion tracking system instead of the
      newer cordless models that use radio                            ball. These use a beam of light reflected
      waves or infrared rays to communicate                           off the work surface to track movement.
      with the computer. Due to their increas-
      ing popularity, these are now available in                      Smart Tips
      a price range of Rs 1,500 to Rs 1,800.                          Ergonomics (and Weight): For any
           Mice, like keyboards, have so many                         input device, the most important factor is
      options that it is hard to choose one—                          the way it feels. This is a combination of
      from simple scroll mice to optical, infra-                      the weight, balance and the placement of
      red, multiple-buttoned beauties that will                       buttons. A badly designed device can
      leave you drooling. The prices range from                       cause discomfort and, in some cases, even
      Rs 300 to several thousand rupees.                              Tendonitis.
           The three primary types of game                            Useless features: Quality comes before
      controllers—wheels, joysticks and game                          quantity. Before being overwhelmed by
      pads—are individually suited to a certain                       the number of buttons or features, see
      game genres. A joystick is the ideal con-                       that the device fits your needs, and is
      troller for flight simulators, while game                       comfortable.
      pads and wheels are better suited for                           Configuration and Drivers: While a lot
      driving games. However, most first-per-                         of these devices will work with the gener-
      son action games are still best played                          ic drivers supplied with Windows, device-
      with a combination of a keyboard and                            specific drivers will allow you to calibrate
      mouse. Microsoft and Logitech might be                          and optimise your device’s performance.
      the big boys, but a lot of other smaller                        Connector: USB devices are becoming
      brands such as JS Equipments have solid,                        increasingly popular. They are easy to
      reliable units as well. An exciting feature                     install and have better reaction times.
      found in high-end devices is force feed-                        Efficiency: Scroll wheels, hotkeys, hat
      back—this adds considerable realism to                          switches, throttle controls, etc., are all
      game playing in arcade, driving and                             nifty little add-ons to these devices that
      flight simulation games.                                        will make using them a snap.

                                                     Decision Maker
                        Keyboards                                   Mice                    Game Controllers

                 Low budget No budget                Low budget No budget              Low budget         No budget
      You need   A cheap and        The ultimate     A cheap yet     Extreme           A satisfactory     A joystick that
                 long lasting       incomfort and comfortable        precision and     gaming experience lets you feel
                 solution           good looks       mouse           supreme comfort at minimal cost      the action

      Look for   104 keys,          Ergonomic,a      Scroll mouse    Optical scroll    Two axis,          Three axis,
                 membrane           PS/2 or USB      with PS/2 inter- mouse, extra     4 button, with     8 button, force
                 type, PS/2         interface, palm face, preferably programmable      a Gameport or      feedback, with
                 interface          rest, hot keys   optical         buttons, PS/2, USB USB interface     a USB interface

      Our pick   Samsung            Microsoft        Benq M100       Logitech MX500 Typhoon 3D            Microsoft Side
                 SEM-DT35N          Multimedia       Optical Mouse Optical Mouse       Joystick           Winder Force
                                    Keyboard                                                              Feedback 2

      Price range Upto Rs 300       Upto Rs 1,300 Upto Rs 700        Upto Rs 5,000     Upto Rs 1,000      Upto Rs 8,000

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      Power Tips for Keyboards
      The keyboard is an integral part of your       Stuck keys
      computer, so care must be exercised when       If a key does not work, or
      using it. Here are some tips for basic key-    is stuck in the down posi-
      board care, as well as some common             tion, you may try to remove it
      problems and possible solutions.               with a pointed tool, such as a pin. Once
      Dirty Keyboard                                 you’ve pulled out the stuck key, you can try
      Keyboards should be cleaned regularly          to stretch the spring to reanimate its action.
      with a cleaning solution and a cloth or tis-   Some keys don’t work
      sue. Ensure that the computer is not pow-      Check to see if there are any obstructions
      ered up while cleaning the keyboard. You       to the keys. If other keys work, your key-
      could also use a vacuum cleaner to suck or     board is faulty and needs to be replaced.
      blow air into the keyboard to clean it.
      Accidental liquid spillage                     Don'ts:
      If you spill any liquid on the keyboard,       ✖ Do  not use alcohol, solvent or anything
      turn it upside down immediately. Drain all     that could remove the lettering on the keys
      the water out, shaking it if necessary. If     or melt the plastic.
      you’ve spilled water into the keyboard, let    ✖ Avoid spilling anything on the keyboard
      it dry before you attempt to use it. Don’t     as the liquid may seep inside and make cer-
      plug a wet keyboard into your PC as you        tain keys—or even the whole keyboard—
      may end up damaging the electrical cir-        non-functional.
      cuitry. If the keyboard still doesn’t work,    Mouse Maintenance
      you may have to replace it.                    If your mouse seems sluggish or extremely
      ‘Keyboard Not Found’ error                     difficult to move, then it’s time to clean it.
      This generally happens if your keyboard is     ■ First turn off the PC. Once it’s powered
      not plugged into the computer properly.        down, unplug the mouse.
      Unplug it, plug it back in and the problem     ■ Turn the mouse over. You would see a
 AD   should go away.
      Wrong installation
                                                     ‘locking ring’ that holds the mouse ball in
                                                     place. This should have arrows indicating
      Many mice and keyboards today use a            the proper direction to turn the ring to
      PS/2 connector. If you plugged your key-       unlock it. You may have to press gently
      board into the mouse port (or vice versa),     while you turn the ring.
      shut down the computer and                     ■ Once you unlock the ring with a twist,
      plug the keyboard into the                                   the mouse ball can be taken
      keyboard port. The key-                                                out.
      board port is usually                                                    ■ Moisten a tissue
      marked with a ‘key-                                                      with cologne or
      board’ symbol or is                                                      any mild cleaning
      colour-coded to help                                                    solution, then hold
      you identify it.                                                      the mouse ball and
      PC does not take input from                                         clean it with a gentle
      keyboard                                                          rubbing motion. If the
      Check if the keyboard is connected to the                      tissue gets dirty, use
      computer. Ensure that it’s plugged into        another one.
      the keyboard port and not the mouse            ■ You will notice rollers inside the mouse.
      port. If the keyboard was unplugged,           After you have cleaned it just wipe it with
      plug it back in and reboot the computer.       the cleaning solution with the help of the
      If the keyboard still doesn’t work on          cotton swabs. It will be obvious when the
      boot-up, power down the computer and           rollers are clean. Now all you have to do is
      borrow a working keyboard for trou-            give the mouse a few minutes to dry
      bleshooting. Plug the new keyboard in          completely.
      and boot up the computer. If the new           ■ Lastly, put the mouse back together.
      keyboard works, the old keyboard is            Once you are sure it is dry, plug it back in
      faulty and needs to be replaced. If the        and turn the PC on.
      good keyboard doesn’t work, check your
      BIOS to make sure it recognises the key-       Don’ts:
      board. It should say “installed”. If the       ✘ Never use your nails or any other sharp
      BIOS recognises the keyboard, the key-         device to clean the inside of the mouse, as
      board port may be faulty.                      it may damage the internal components.

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Troubleshooting Joysticks
Make sure your joystick is connected             Check your sound card and graphics card
properly                                         documentation to make sure you have the
Some joystick connectors fit loosely into the    correct driver installed. Having the wrong
interface and will become dislodged if the       driver will result in your joystick not work-
cable is pulled even a little. Check the con-    ing properly. You can usually find the game
nection first to make sure your problems are     port driver under ‘sound, video and game
not being caused by a dislodged connector.       controllers’ in the Device Manager.
First, shut down your computer. Make sure        Power management
the joystick connector is firmly connected to    Joystick calibration relies on timing. If the
the correct port. When you have finished         CPU speed of a system changes, so does the
checking the connector, reboot your              joystick calibration. Sometimes power man-
machine.                                         agement will activate and change the CPU
Enable joystick control in your game              speed to conserve power. This may cause
Games will often assume that you want               the joystick to behave erratically. You may
to use a joystick. If you want joystick con-         want to try disabling power management
trol in your games, make sure it’s enabled.               temporarily to see if this is causing
Many games will give you an option to                      the problem.
select joystick, keyboard or mouse.                            Older sound cards, I/O cards,
Check your game’s documenta-                                      speed-fixed game cards
tion to see how to enable joy-                                      If you have an older game
stick control.                                                     card, sound card or I/O
Be sure only one joystick port                                  card, you may want to
is active on your system                               upgrade to a dedicated, speed-
No more than one joystick port can be            adjustable game controller. The joystick
active on your system at one time. If you        ports on older game controllers can’t han-
happen to have more than one port active,        dle the speed and timing requirements of
your joystick will not function properly. You    newer games. Such joystick ports, which
may encounter this situation if you have         were designed for a slower system, may
recently purchased a dedicated game card,        cause problems on faster PCs.
recently upgraded your sound card, or if         Recently upgraded to a faster CPU
your joystick is plugged into a dedicated I/O    If you upgraded your CPU, you may have
controller.                                      some timing issues. You may want to check
Check to see that you have the correct           your motherboard manual and make sure
driver installed                                 the system settings in CMOS are recom-
Sometimes problems can arise if the wrong        mended for your CPU by the motherboard
joystick driver is loaded. Check the driver in   manufacturer.
Windows Control Panel to make sure the           Resolving USB controller installation
correct one is installed.                        issues
Calibrate in Windows Control Panel               In Device Manager, USB game controllers
Open Game Controllers in the Control             are listed under Human Interface devices
Panel. Under Installed game controllers,         (in the ‘Devices by type’ view). If the con-
click the controller you want to calibrate,      troller does not appear in Device Manager,
and then click Properties. Here, on the          USB may not be enabled in the BIOS.
Settings tab, click Calibrate, and then fol-     When you are prompted as you start your
low the instructions on your screen.             computer, enter BIOS setup, and enable
Testing a game controller                        USB. However, If USB is enabled in BIOS
Again, open Game Controllers in Control          but the USB host controller does not
Panel, and under Installed game con-             appear in Device Manager (under
trollers, click the controller you want to       Universal Serial Bus controllers), or a yel-
test, and then click Properties. On the Test     low warning icon appears next to the host
tab, test your controller by moving or press-    controller name, you may need to get cur-
ing each control, including the stick, wheel,    rent drivers for the motherboard. Contact
yoke, pads and buttons. After performing         your computer vendor and obtain the lat-
each of these actions with the controller,       est version. If the controller does appear in
view the results on the Test tab.                Device Manager, right-click the controller
Other Possibilities                              name and then Properties. Problems and
Make sure the proper game port driver for        suggested actions are displayed under
your sound card or graphics card is installed    Device Status.

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            Universally applicable keyboard commands
          !   [Left arrow] moves to the previous           repeatedly press the down arrow, you will
          letter                                           select multiple lines in descending order
          ! [Right arrow] moves to the next letter         #    [Shift] + [Up arrow] selects the line
          # [Ctrl] + [Left arrow] moves to the pre-        above the one on which the cursor is posi-
          vious word                                       tioned and if you hold down the [Shift] key
          # [Ctrl] + [Right arrow] moves to the next       as you continue to press the up arrow, you
          word on the right                                will select multiple lines in ascending order
          # [Home] moves to the beginning of the           # [Shift] + [Page Down] selects the con-
          current line                                     tents of the entire page beginning with the
          # [End] moves to the end of the current          area following the point of the cursor
          line                                             # [Shift] + [Page Up] selects the page text
          # [Ctrl] + [Down arrow] moves down one           beginning with the area immediately to the
          paragraph                                        left of the cursor
          # [Ctrl] + [Up arrow] moves up one para-         # [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [End] selects all the text
          graph                                            from the point of the cursor to the end of
          # [Page Down] moves the cursor down              the document
          one page                                         # [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [Home] selects all the
          # [Page Up] moves the cursor up one page         text to the left of the cursor to the beginning
          # [Shift] + [Right arrow] selects the letter     of the document
          to the right                                     # If you want to select one line and remove
          # [Shift] + [Left arrow] selects the letter to   it completely, use [Shift] + [Down arrow] to
          the left                                         select, and then simply press the delete key.
          # [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [Right arrow] selects           Having selected the text you wish to
          the word to the right                            work with, use the following commands
AD        # [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [Left arrow] selects the
          word to the left
                                                           to place the text in the clipboard.
                                                           # [Ctrl] + [A] is select all
          # [Shift] + [Down arrow] selects the entire      # [Ctrl] + [C] is copy
          line on which the cursor is positioned. If you   # [Ctrl] + [X] is cut
          continue to hold down the [Shift] key and        # [Ctrl] +[V] is paste
      Under the bonnet of a Mouse




112                                                                                            JUNE 2003
  Under the bonnet of a Joystick


                                   Pivot Yoke


                                   Buying Tips: Joysticks
           ■ Joysticks are ideal for playing
  flight simulators and space combat games,
                                                         don’t buy it.
                                                         ■  Before you zero in on a joystick, hold it
  so if you are a great fan of these don’t               to see whether your palm and fingers feel
  settle for a game pad.                                 comfortable, and your fingers reach the
  ■ Joysticks are available in many flavours,            buttons without extending them.
  but ideally they should have a hat-switch,             ■ Always buy a stick with a heavy base,
  a throttle control and at least six program-           since a light base will skid or trip when the
  mable buttons.                                         stick is moved with force.
  ■ Before you buy a joystick, check out the             ■ If you are an avid fan of flight simula-
  ball joint to ensure its durability. Do this by        tors, go for a stick that has three axes.
  holding the broomstick and moving it                   This will give you better control over the
  sideways—if the motion is jerky or sticky,             rudder of a flying unit.

                                    Future of Input Devices
Futuristic Keyboards                                     three equal pieces.

    f you’re using a standard QWERTY                     The two outermost
    keyboard—and most of us do—your                      pieces are placed verti-
    keyboard design is over a century old.               cally, with keys on the
Keyboard design has stagnated over the                   outside, and a couple of mirrors placed
last few years, and users do not have                    alongside. The horizontal middle piece
much choice as far as design goes. How-                  has the number keys.
ever, some vendors have launched prod-                        A ‘user-to-computer interface tool’
ucts that are wacky, to say the least, and               called DataHand looks extremely futuris-
ergonomic as well.                                       tic and aims to minimise movement, thus
     For instance, SafeType Inc has                      drastically reducing the amount of effort
launched a keyboard that they claim has                  needed for typing and pointing. The
been designed according to scientific                    DataHand System consists of two inter-
biomechanical principles and virtually                   connected hand units that can effective-
eliminates the high-stress postures that                 ly assume the role of keyboard and
contribute to Repetitive Stress Injury.                  mouse. The palm rests on rubber sup-
This device looks like a standard QWER-                  ports, and the fingers are placed on the
TY keyboard that’s been broken up into                   keys just beyond. The thumb is placed in

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      the canal to the side of the palm support.     to-Speech tab in Speech properties to ini-
      When using this device, you would never        tialise and customise speech-enabled
      have to lift your hand from the palm           applications. These settings control gen-
      rest. Mastering this device takes a long       eral attributes such as input and output
      time though.                                   devices, the language used, as well as the
          The TouchStream LP lets you type           playback voice and the accuracy of word
      using gestures. Incorporating a technol-       recognition.
      ogy called MultiTouch, this device has              You can choose between several pref-
      the ability to detect multiple points of       erential option settings and customise the
      contact as well as detect patterns in          speech profile according to your needs.
      their movement (or lack of movement).          You can also create a new profile or set a
      On recognising a gesture, the Touch-           profile to accommodate your speaking
      Stream LP will apply whatever behav-           style. A new Recognizer Profile should be
      iour has been assigned to that touch and       created if you move offices, the noise
      movement pattern. The gesture recog-           level changes on a permanent basis, or
      nition is accomplished on the same flat        additional people are present.
      area that the keyboard is mapped on. In             Training allows the speech recogniser
      a nutshell, it enables a user to type,         to adapt to the sound of your voice, word
      point and perform simple gestures, all         pronunciation, accent and speaking man-
      on one surface.                                ner. This is done through the Voice
                                                     Training Wizard. Training for
      Speech Recognition                             even a short period can
AD    Researchers have been working for a long
      time on alternatives to conventional
                                                     effect an improvement
                                                     in the accuracy of
      modes of input. Although features such         speech recogni-
      as speech and handwriting recognition          tion. The system
      are not new, they have just started to         also adapts to
      become mainstream and you can find             your speech on
      these on devices such as tablet PCs.           an       ongoing
           Over the past few years, many ven-        basis, and recogni-
      dors have come up with software prod-          tion increases over time.
      ucts that can recognise the spoken word,
      but most of them have died out. Imagine        Handwriting Recognition
      speaking normally to your PC and hav-          The Windows XP Tablet PC offers major
      ing your words appear on the screen. The       improvements in handwriting recogni-
      objective of accurate speech recognition       tion. You can write directly on the screen
      has existed for a long time, but only          with a stylus, and what you write is con-
      recently has the dream become a possible       verted to text that can be inserted into
      reality.                                       applications such as MS Word and
           Are we there? Not yet. Are we getting     Notepad. Consider the convenience of
      there? Sure! Depending on whether you          taking notes in meetings or conferences
      use Windows XP, Microsoft Office's built-      in your own handwriting, converting
      in speech engine or a third-party speech       them to text later and e-mailing them to
      engine, ease of use, accuracy, and enjoy-      people. It’s not only this convenient, but
      ment of the feature may vary.                  quite accurate too.
           IBM and Dragon Naturally Speaking             You can use handwriting recognition
      are two large companies involved in the        in programs that support it. These include
      development of speech recognition tech-        Internet Explorer 5.0 or later, where you
      nology. Microsoft’s Windows XP and             can use handwriting in text boxes that
      Office applications incorporate this fea-      appear on Web sites, but not in the
      ture. The Tablet edition of Windows XP         address bar; and Outlook Express 5.0 or
      has significant improvements in this           later. In addition, all Microsoft Office XP
      regard, and though complete accuracy is        programs, such as Microsoft Word 2002
      still difficult to achieve, users can look     or Microsoft Outlook 2002, and any other
      forward to exciting times ahead. Not only      software program that is enabled to use
      is this feature extremely useful for normal    the Microsoft handwriting recognition
      users, it also opens up a lot of options for   engine. To use handwriting recognition,
      the disabled.                                  you must first install a handwriting
           In Windows XP, you can use either         recognition engine, which is language-
      the Speech Recognition tab or the Text-        specific.

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      Buyer’s Guide

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                              C users in India are very price-conscious,    card. The same goes for the sound card—if the
                              but in a rather odd way. They may             motherboard has an integrated low-quality
                              splurge on high-end processors and            sound chip, expect to shell out anything
                        high-capacity hard drives, but when it comes        between Rs 1,000 and Rs 12,000. The market
                        to graphics cards they tend to stick with           is not as flooded by brands of sound cards as
                        onboard graphic chips. Although such graph-         it is by graphics cards, because many users find
                        ic chips cannot run most of the new games at        a good quality onboard sound chip sufficient
                        playable frame rates, vendors often forget to       for their needs.
                        reveal this fact to buyers.                               Some high-end motherboards offer inte-
                            To play games like UT2003 or Medal of           grated six-channel sound, which is as an
                        Honor Allied Assault, you need to have a            attractive feature. This makes more sense, as
                        decent graphics card. Onboard solutions will        the user gets a complete solution which
                        at best let you play these games at the lowest      lessens the headache of maintaining addi-
                        resolution, and after sacrificing realistic visu-   tional add-on cards. The best part about hav-
                        al settings. The other advantage of having a        ing onboard sound is that this does not hin-
                        separate graphics card is dual monitor sup-         der your upgrade path—if you feel the need
                        port, which makes work much easier.                 for better sound in the future, just disable the
                            Then there are cards that do much more          onboard sound from the BIOS, and install a
                          than just churn out high frame rates. These       new card.
                          high-end cards, which cost upwards of Rs                Remember it’s the speakers that deliver the
                          18,000, also come with a Video-in/Video-out       sound. No matter what sound card you use, if
                                    module. This not only allows you to     your speakers are not capable of delivering
                                    use your television as a monitor, but   and handling enough power, you may find
                                    also to record TV programs on your      Britney Spears screeching like a peeved parrot
                                                       hard drive using     (on second thoughts, that may not be the
                                                       the bundled soft-    fault of the speakers at all). Speaker prices, like
                                                        ware. The TV-       that of other peripherals, have also come
                                                        Tuner chip is an    down. The price at which 2.1 channel speak-
                                                        add-on       that   ers were available earlier, can now buy you a
                                                        allows you to       decent set of four-point surround speakers.
                                                        use that big 19-
                        inch monitor as a television. These are just        Market Overview
                        some of the great things you can do with a          Graphics or video has been one of the fastest
                        good graphics card.                                 moving segments of IT in terms of develop-
                            Hardcore gamers will not look beyond a          ment. It has come a long way from 256 K
                        high frame rate with full-scene anti-aliasing       memory-based graphics cards to the latest
                        and anisotropic filtering—after all, eye-candy      nVidia’s GeForceFX chipset that can support
                        is what satiates their hunger.                      128 MB DDR2 memory, and requires special
                            The virtual experience will be incomplete       cooling when running at full throttle. The
                        if you use a paltry set of speakers driven by a     Indian market for high-end graphics cards has
                        stone-age onboard sound chip or an unknown          been dominated mainly by demand from
                        sound card. You may have the best graphics          gamers, and today someof the mainsteam
                        card in the world, but it’s completely useless if   cards available include the Geforce4 MX from
                        you can’t hear that death-bullet before it hits     nVidia and the ATi Radeon 7500/8500LE, with
                        you. Also, since prices of DVD drives have fall-    prices ranging from Rs 4,000 to Rs 8,000,
                        en in the last couple of years, many people         depending on the brand.
                        buy these as well—and for watching movies,              For instance, Asus and Gainward cards
                        a good graphics card, a great sound card and        come at a higher price as they are bundled
                        good speakers are mandatory. Couple this            with a lot of goodies—games and applica-
                        with the TV-out feature of the graphics card,       tions). On the other hand, cards from brands
                        and you get a true home theatre experience.         like Ennyah and Xserve are targeted more at
                        But if one of these three devices is a weak link    budget-conscious users looking for plain vanil-
                        in the chain, the whole experience goes for a       la cards. A good example of this is the SMedia
                        toss.                                               Radeon 9700 card, which is sold in a box the
                            It is thus very important to choose the best    size of the low-end TNT2 card, with only a
                        available graphics card, sound card and speak-      driver CD and a manual within.
                        ers that your budget can buy. As far as graph-          For value users, TNT2 chipset cards are still
                        ics cards go, you need to have some level of        the front-runner. That’s apart from the ever-
                        interest in PC-based gaming in order to want        popular Intel’s 815 integrated onboard graph-
                        to invest a few thousand rupees on an AGP           ic chipset for the Pentium III—and now the

      116                                                                                                          JUNE 2003
845 chipset for the Pentium 4, more suitable for business class
users. TNT2 chipset cards are available for around Rs 1,000 to
Rs 1,500. On the other hand, motherboards supporting AMD
processors have the NForce 2, which is more suitable for those
who aren’t avid gamers. These onboard graphics cards from
nVidia and ATi have been a great success, and helped vendors
bring down the cost of PCs by at least 15 to 20 per cent.
         Market reports indicate that in the coming months,
          this segment would see little momentum in terms of
                    volume. And at the technology level, no
                           major development is predicted.
                                  Apart from the GeForce FX
                                    launched recently, the new
                                    roadmap from nVidia does
                                    not indicate any further
                                    development in the high-
                                   end graphics cards segment.
                                   Only a drop in prices for
                                   mid-range and high-end
     cards would persuade users to buy newer cards.
    The speaker segment has also seen a major upward shift in
terms of technology and availability of brands. Almost all PCs
sold today support multimedia, and so speakers have become
virtually indispensable. Brands like Creative, Logitech, Altec
Lansing, Typhoon, Frontech and Samsung are the front-run-
ners; with a market share of around 70 to 80 per cent. Other
brands like Artis, Bose, JBL, Mercury and Sumoku are not far
behind, and doing quite well in some pockets. Today, the
demand for 2.1 and 4.1-channel speakers is on the rise, and
prices have dropped by 25 to 30 per cent over the years. Some
4.1 speakers—Artis, for example—are available for as low as Rs
3,000. And some 2.1 speakers—Frontech, Typhoon and Mer-
cury for examples—are available for just Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,500.
    Creative recently unveiled its 6.1-channel speakers in the
premium segment, at a price tag of Rs 10,000, targeted specif-
ically at movie lovers and hardcore gamers.
    Around 80 per cent of the sound cards sold today are
onboard, offering basic stereo support and targeting the value
segment. Others like Creative Vibra 128 or Audigy offer true
5.1 channel support. Creative also has Extigy, which claims to
be the only external sound card available in the world. This
was launched last year, keeping in mind the growing demand
by professionals for high-fidelity sound cards—to be used by
plugging and playing on several PCs. Brands like Zoltrix also
figure in smaller numbers, especially in western India, at a com-
petitive price of around Rs 2,000 for a 4.1 speaker set.

  Jargon Buster
  3D textures: It makes hollow objects solid with true 3D mate-
  rial properties such as wood grain or marbling.
  Pixel Shaders: A part of the latest APIs, such as DirectX 9.0,
  Pixel Shaders allow realistic lighting and surface effects.
  Anisotropic filtering: A screen pixel is elongated when it
  mapped onto the texture space. This is known as anisotropy,
  a malady that conventional texture filtering techniques
  (such as bilinear filtering) cannot cure. Anisotropic filtering
  aims to sharpen a texture by using varying algorithms
  that basically serve as 'corrective glasses' to alleviate the
  elongation caused.

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             Buying tips for Soundcards                                ■ Frequency response: If your speaker system has a frequency
        ■    Define your usage. If you are an avid music lover, go     range that is limited at the upper end (for example, if it cannot
 for a soundcard that supports multiple channels (like 4.1             perform above 16 KHz), you will not hear any of the high treble,
 surround). If you want a gaming solution, buy a card that             and will lose definition in your music, especially if you listen to a
 supports the standard 3D sound APIs, like DirectSound, EAX,           lot of classical music. Similarly, if your speakers can’t go below 50
 A3D and I3DL2.                                                        Hz, they won’t be able to render deep bass well, like drums, and
 ■ The vendor should provide a minimum of a one-year warranty          explosions in movies.
 for budget soundcards (under Rs 2,000) and at least a three-year      ■ Stands: If you have 2.1 speakers that are primarily meant for
 warranty for more expensive ones.                                     music playback, you won’t need to have speaker stands as you
 ■ Before buying, make sure that the soundcard’s interface is PCI      would probably place them right on your desk. However, if you
 or USB and not ISA. If you plan to use your soundcard for playing     have a 4.1 or 5.1 speaker system, you would need to ensure that
 games or watching DVD movies, get a PCI soundcard.                    they either have stands on all the satellites, or a base attached to
 ■ Check that the soundcard you are buying has drivers for your        these speakers. This is useful if you want to place them behind
 favourite operating system. Windows users should not face             you on a wall, or even standing on the floor at ear-level for proper
 problems, but the software required for Linux, for example, might     surround sound imaging.
 be hard to come by.                                                   ■ Controls: Speakers with an in-line volume control give you the
 ■ If you are an audiophile and care about things like signal loss,    freedom to control the master speaker volume without having to
 buy a soundcard that has gold-plated connectors on it.                reach troublesome locations like the subwoofer where the volume
 ■ Check to see if the soundcard comes bundled with a decent           controls are generally placed.
 variety of applications (such as games and media players). If you     ■ Audio inputs: If you have a 2.1 stereo speaker system, you only
 are a first time buyer, these will prove very useful to get you       need standard analogue left and right channels. However, in the
 started with your soundcard.                                          case of a four-point surround sound system, you would need to
                                                                       look out for four separate channels of analogue audio inputs to your
 Buying tips for Speakers                                              speaker system. This would be in the form of two 3.5 mm stereo
 ■  Power rating: In most speaker systems available today, the         inputs (left/right for front and left/right for rear), or four separate
 power rating, in watts, is deceptively specified as Peak Music        RCA inputs. Also watch out for pseudo-four channel speakers that
 Power Output (PMPO). This particular specification is nothing         are basically just stereo, with two speakers for each side. In the case
 but marketing hype—you should always go by the RMS power              of 5.1 speakers, you would either need to have six separate RCA
 of a speaker system as this is the true technical measure of the      inputs for the discrete AC-3 channels (if the signal is already being
 speaker’s capability to handle continuous power. For surround         split by an external decoder like in the Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 DE
 sound speaker systems, a rating of 40 Watts RMS is a good             soundcard), or you would need a DIN connector that is fed by the
 place to start for your computer-based surround speaker               digital output of your soundcard in order to have true Dolby Digital
 system.                                                               rendering in your surround sound system.

                                     Soundcard Connecters Demystified

                                                                                                            MIDI/Joystick connector

       Centre speaker
       and subwoofer

                        Line In                           Microphone   Front left and right
                                                                                                        Rear left and right speakers

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                                  Video Vanguard                                                             Also Remember…
                                                                                                             ■ All video cards use a VGA
                                                                                                             output connector that allows

           ith the demise of 3dfx, ATi and              nVidia GeForce FX and the ATi Radeon 9800            the signal to be displayed on
           nVidia are the only high-end                 Pro.                                                 a monitor. Some cards supply
           graphics chip manufacturers with                                                                  and receive the video signal
significant market domination.                          Video RAM: Video RAM on the graphics card            from television monitors, pro-
    Mainstream desktop display solutions                is used to store the extensive graphical infor-      jectors and video cameras
starting from Rs 1,500 to Rs 40,000 are now             mation, such as textures of 3D objects. It is        through optional coaxial or S-
available in the market with a great number             also used as the frame buffer—the part that          video interfaces.
of manufacturers offering a wide variety of             holds the final frame that is to be displayed
                                                                                                             ■ Some cards have a feature
solutions in the lower segments. With an                on the monitor. This RAM is very similar to
                                                                                                             connector which supports
increase in competition, the                                       system RAM, except that it is faster      devices such as a TV tuner or
choices available have now                                          and optimised for working with           a video capture board. A spe-
improved significantly.                                              video and graphical information.        cial flat ribbon connector is
                                                                      RAMDAC: The Random Access              used to connect the video
Technology Insight                                                    Memory Digital to Analog Con-          card to these additional
The main aim of a graph-                                               verter is a chip on the graphics      devices.
ics accelerator is to process                                           card which converts the digital
the 2D or 3D elements                                                    information in the frame            ■ The memory bandwidth
associated with the GUI                                                   buffer into a signal that can      refers to the rate at which
                                                                                                             data is transferred between
and games or software                                                      be displayed on your moni-
                                                                                                             the graphics processor and
applications. The execu-                                                    tor. The RAMDAC on a             graphics memory. The effect
tion of graphics involves                                                           graphics accelerator     that memory speed has on
the transfer of texture                                                             is specified by a fre-   the total memory bandwidth
maps, image geometry,                                                               quency. The higher       and the importance of it, can
commands etc., over                                                                 the frequency of the     be understood by looking at
to the accelerator for                                                              RAMDAC,           the    the following examples:
processing.                                             greater the resolutions and refresh rates that       GeForce FX5800:
                                                        can be supported by the card.                        128-bit (16 bytes) x 800 MHz
Smart Tips                                              Interface: The best choice available today is        = 16 x 800 = 12.81 GBps
                                                                                                             Geforce2 Ultra:
Graphics processor: The core of a graphics              the AGP interface, which provides a very
                                                                                                             128-bit (16 bytes) x 460 MHz
card, this is the component that actually               high-speed pathway for moving large quanti-          = 16 x 460 = 7.36 GBps
processes the video information. Some of the            ties of graphic and image data between the           TNT2 M64:
best graphics processors in the market are the          graphics card and the rest of the system.            64-bit (8 bytes) x125 MHz
                                                                                                             = 8 x 125 = 1 GBps

                                         Decision Maker
                 Limited budget              Should run most                Top-notch
                                             games, but price is a          performance in 2D/3D,
                                             consideration                  price no
You need         A card that will run at     A card that will give you a    Maximum performance with
                 32-bit colour and 1,024 x   minimum of 30 fps in low to    all the eye candy enabled and
                 768 at 85 MHz with          medium resolutions with        no compromise on either
                 support for the odd game    little compromise in quality   resolution or quality
                 at low resolutions

Look for         Cheaper or lower variants   A card with at least 32 MB     A card with 64 MB RAM or
                 of faster chips. A card     or more memory                 more with features such as
                 using the AGP interface                                    dual-monitor support
                 with minimum 16 MB
                 onboard RAM

Our pick         Riva TNT2                   GeForce2 MX 200                ATi Radeon 9700 Pro,
                                                                            Geforce FX 5800
Price range      Up to Rs 1,500              From Rs 2,500 to Rs 5,000      Rs 36,000 onwards

           120                                                                                                                  JUNE 2003
Power Tips
Step-by-step procedure for installation of a                          favourite program in case you’re busy at the
graphic card                                                          time of the telecast. You can then watch the
                                                                      recorded program at your convenience. The
As new games are released, one feels the need upgrade to a            time-shifting feature allows you to pause, replay or
newer generation of graphics cards. If you would like to move to      skip live TV without interrupting an ongoing recording
a new graphics card but are not sure how to go about                  session. This feature allows you to take a break while watching
successfully installing it, these tips will prove useful.             a live show, and resume where you left off. You can also
     Before opening the cabinet and pulling out your old graphics     capture stills.
card, uninstall the drivers for the old graphics card from the             However, keep in mind that storing movies in MPEG format
Control Panel. Now, shut down the computer and open up the            takes up considerable space. The memory requirement will
cabinet carefully. Remove the VGA connector attaching your            depend on the quality of the recording. For example, a one-
monitor to your video                                                                                             minute MPEG-2 file
card. Pull out the old                                                                                            recorded at 720 x 480
graphics card carefully.                                                                                          resolution and a good
Hunt for the AGP slot                                                                                             bit rate would take up
(which is brown in                                                                                                about half a gigabyte
colour and smaller than                                                                                           of memory. So think
white PCI slots).                                                                                                 twice before you
     Now you can insert                                                                                           record interminable TV
the new graphics card                                                                                             soaps, especially if
into the brown slot and                                                                                           storage space is scarce.
screw it in tightly.                                                                                              In any case, you will
Close the cabinet and                                                                                             definitely need a CD-
switch on the                                                                                                     RW drive to archive
computer. The card                                                                                                your recordings.
should be recognised                                                                                                   There’s usually a
by Windows, and                                                                                                   user-friendly control
Windows will install the                                                                                          panel for performing
basic VGA drivers.                                                                                                all these functions. A
When asked to install                                                                                             fully functional remote
the drivers for the card,                                                                                         is also provided with
choose No, and                                                                                                    some models like the
continue. Insert the                                                                                              Compro VideoMate.
driver disk provided                                                                                              The installation process
with the card and                                                                                                 is quite simple, and is
follow the on-screen                                                                                              clearly explained in the
instructions to install the drivers for the card. Restart your        user’s manual. Get a large, high-resolution PC monitor—and leave
machine and your new graphic card should be installed                 it to your PVR to record your favourite program while you read
successfully.                                                         this article!
     In case your graphic card does not come with the driver
software, you can download generic detonator drivers if your card     Speakers
has an nVidia Video Chipset (find them online at                      Optimum Speaker Placement
www.nvidia.com), the Catalyst drivers if you have an ATi-chipset      To get the best out of your home theatre system, place the left
based card (www.ati.com), or Matrox drivers if so required by         and right speakers along the width of your room. From where
your card (www.matrox.com)                                            you are going to sit, the front speakers should be approximately
                                                                      60 degrees apart from each other with the listener at the
Watching TV on your PC                                                reference central position. The rear speakers should form a 110-
Watch television on your PC! This is one more step towards            degree angle from this reference position.
making the personal computer the centre of all your activities.            For optimum effect, the four speakers should be kept at
Apart from live telecast, TV tuner cards come with other              (or slightly above) ear level. You can place the subwoofer
capabilities like recording and playback, making television viewing   anywhere. If you find that the bass in your system is a little low,
more flexible than ever before. The hardware consists of an           place the subwoofer facing a wall, preferably in a corner of
AV/Tuner Box, and cables that connect it to the video card. The       the room.
coaxial cable goes into the tuner box instead of in the back of            If the surround sound channels are too faint, ‘toe-in’ the
your TV.                                                              surround speakers so that they point towards the listener.
    Personal Video Recording (PVR) software lets you preview TV       Conversely, if they are too prominent, place them facing the wall
channels and encode the broadcast into MPEG 1 or MPEG 2               as this helps disperse the sound from the rear channels, resulting
video format in real time. It also allows you to record your          in a more enveloping effect.

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                    Under the bonnet of a Speaker                                     Speakers: Do’s and Don’ts

                                                                                      ✔ Wipe the speakers using a soft cloth dampen-
                                                                                      ed with a mild detergent
                                                                                      ✔ Lightly vacuum the grille to remove dust

                                                                                      ✖  Do not listen to music at extreme volumes;
                                                                                      reduce the volume when you can notice
                                                                                      ✖ Never unplug the speakers while they are on
                                                                                      ✖ If you use an adapter that did not come with
                                                                                      your speakers, make sure the ratings of the
                                                                                      amplifier (in RMS wattage) and adapter (in
                                                                                      ohms) match, or you could cause severe
                                                                                      damage to your speakers

                    The Future of Graphics, Sound and Speakers
T   he future of graphics cards and gaming has always dominat-
    ed Web site and magazine headlines. The abiding interest
computer buffs have in graphics cards was mainly generated after
                                                                    ric RGB output, Matrox-dual-display plus TV
                                                                    output and older triple-head output. And ATi
                                                                    and nVidia are working hard to come out with
manufacturers started fiercely competing with each other for        better and improved drivers to eliminate any issues
the coveted top slot. The gaming industry is the main engine        their cards may currently have with some games and operating
behind this growth. Developers like ID software and EPIC            systems.
MegaGames continue to release ever-demanding games that                 Trident and VIA (Savage graphic chip) are also in the race
require the appropriate hardware.                                   but in a very small way. Trident offers a very low-level solution
     The reigning king, nVidia, and the almost-there ATi are two    (Blade XP) and VIA integrates the Savage Pro graphics chip into
                                              major rivals who      their motherboards because there’s virtually no market for their
                                              keep this arena       graphic solutions if sold separately. But not everyone requires
                                              hot-as-hell     by    the best graphics cards, and not many can afford them. So most
                                              coming out with       of these companies will survive some way or the other.
                                              souped-up tech-           Speakers and sound cards don’t change at the same pace as
                                              nologies as fast as   graphics cards. However, players like Creative (whose products
                                              microprocessors       are widely available in India), Zoltrix and Turtle Beach are offer-
                                              change. The latest    ing sound cards with improved technology, but these cards are
                                              graphics chipset      mainly bought by professionals rather than regular desktop users
                                              from nVidia is the    because of the high prices. American company M-Audio has also
                                              GeForce FX 5800       started offering a 7.1-channel surround sound card, increasing
          Ultra which sports a 500 MHz core clock and a memo-       the number of speakers to eight, with 24-bit/192 KHz audio for
          ry clock of 1 GHz.                                        enhanced audio experience.
     The graphics card market last year also saw companies like         Some labs are already working on 9.1-channel surround
SiS and Matrox entering the fray with offerings in the mid-range    sound. This increase in the number of channels (and hence,
segment, fuelling the competition even more. The largest mar-       speakers) will not only make future movie experiences more
ket anywhere in the world for graphics cards is the value seg-      immersive, but also give hardcore gamers an edge over rivals by
ment, therefore once the company comes out with their                          allowing them to precisely predict where an attack is
most powerful chipset they also start to offer stripped-                       coming from, and move out of harm’s way.
down versions of the same chipset at much lower, afford-                           There are more models of speakers available now
able prices.                                                                   than ever before, and there’s been tremendous improve-
     So what does the future hold for graphics                                                       ment in packaging as well. Har-
cards? Take two new cards—the Matrox                                                                 mon Cardon speakers, for
P650 and the P750. These cards are                                                                   instance, come with a glass shell
equipped with some improved tech-                                                                    in which the drivers are enclosed.
nologies like dual DVI output, dual-dis-                                                             Before long, speakers could well
play gamma correction, fully symmet-                                                                 become a design statement.

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                                                 e’ve all experienced power failures at        cause damage.
                                                 some time or the other. Whether you           ! Power surge: Here, the power level rises
                                                 live in a metro that has relatively           above the normal value for a period and then
                                      dependable power or in a smaller city with               drops to normal. This condition can be
                                      regular power outages, electricity problems can          detrimental to electronic equipment—while
                                      throw a spanner in the works of our gadget-              most computer hardware can handle slightly
                                      dependent lives. In fact, electricity is the life        higher input voltages over small periods of
                                      force behind most of the work we do daily.               time, powerful surges can spell instant death
                                          Office and home desktop computers,                   for electronics if they are not protected.
                                      company networks and communication                       ! Voltage spike: This is a condition where
                                      systems such as phones and fax systems—if any            there is a brief impulse of a very high voltage,
                                      of these undergo a downtime during working               after which it returns to the normal. This
                                      hours, it can spell a substantial loss of money          condition can be lethal to sensitive electronic
                                      and, worse still, data. Besides, with the arrival of     equipment, including computers. Such
                                      the monsoons, the reliability of power delivered         conditions often occur during rainstorms—
                                      to our homes and offices plummets to an all-             when a bolt of lightning hits a power line, for
                                      time low.                                                instance.
                                                                                               ! Frequency variation: Here, the frequency of
                                      Without Power…                                           the AC voltage differs from its normal value of
                                      Just as in any other combat situation, you need          60 Hz (the default frequency for conventional
                                      to know what you are up against before                   AC power in India). This can cause electronic
                                      choosing your line of defence. There’s a general         equipment to malfunction. Computers are
                                      misconception that a power failure involves just         especially affected, as they are so dependent
                                      one situation—a blackout. This is but one of             on voltage frequency.
                                      several problems that can be attributed to                   Each of these faults in power can be caused
                                      power failure. Here are the different types of           either due to faulty wiring (lack of proper earth
                                      power fluctuations that can occur:                       for your power lines), faults in the power lines
                                      ! Blackout: This is when there is a total power          themselves, errors in the power transmission
                                      failure. It is akin to a light being switched off-       grid and weather conditions such as lightning
                                      the power from your electrical outputs falls             and storms.
                                      from normal level to zero.
                                      ! Brownout: This is a condition where the                …But Not Powerless
                                      output voltage drops to a lower level than its           The implications and the extent to which each
                                      normal value (230 Volts in India) for an                 of these conditions can affect computer
                                      extended period of time. This can affect the             hardware are different. Accordingly, there are
                                      operation of electronic equipment and even               different solutions available to counter them.

             Buying tips for UPS
            A UPS is specified by its VA rating. This is a measure of the   requirements of the equipment you are going to connect to the
         amount of power the UPS can provide—usually for about 10           UPS. As a rule of the thumb, a 1 GHz processor-based machine with
 to 12 minutes. Therefore, if a 500 VA UPS is loaded with equipment         a 20 GB hard disk, CD-ROM drive and 17-inch colour monitor
 that draws 500 VA of power, it will last for about 10 minutes. If the      would require a 500 VA UPS.
 load is halved to 250 VA, the backup time will increase to 16 to 18        ! Backup time: This is the specified time for which the UPS can
 minutes. This is assuming, of course, that the battery is fully charged    provide power from its battery for a given load. Look for a backup
 and functional. Hence, when buying a UPS system, you should first          time of at least 10 minutes at maximum load.
 ascertain what equipment is going to be connected to it and, more          ! Switching/transfer time: Used interchangeably, switching or
 importantly, what kind of power conditions you want to protect             transfer time is the time taken by the UPS to switch from normal
 your equipment from.                                                       delivery power mode to battery mode when it detects any power
    UPS systems should be used to power only the most critical parts        anomalies. Ideally, look for transfer times under 5 milliseconds.
 of your computer. The following points need to be considered while         ! Alarms and connectivity: Most UPS systems have LEDs on the
 buying a UPS:                                                              front panel that indicate the state of its batteries and the condition
 ! Input voltage range: This is the range beyond which the UPS              of the input and output power. This visual indication of its operation
 will deliver power through its batteries. The greater the range the        is important, especially during power failures, so look for a UPS that
 UPS can handle, the more versatile its power protection. Look for a        has these indicators.
 voltage range between 150 and 270 V.                                       ! Charging time: This is the time taken to charge the UPS batteries
 ! VA rating: This is a rating of the power that can be provided by         from a completely drained state to a fully charged condition. This
 the UPS. You should choose the rating on the basis of the                  should be between 4 and 6 hours.

          126                                                                                                                           JUNE 2003
The solution you opt for is also decided
by your budget and the level of
protection you require for your hardware.
     When combatting power problems,
there are several weapons with which you
can arm your sensitive electronics
! Circuit breaker: This device is a
switch capable of responding to
dangerous overload levels in an electrical
circuit. When installed, the switch
detects if the current level of a line is too
high and instantaneously (in tens of
milliseconds) ‘trips’ and switches off.
This effectively disconnects the circuit
it’s connected to and prevents the
equipment from receiving dangerously
high input power levels. However, since
it effectively switches off the power, it’s a
rather quick-and-dirty way to implement
power protection.
     Circuit breakers are particularly useful
if you want to protect your computer
                                                AD 12m x 25 cm
from damage due to failure or
malfunction of other equipment that is
on the same circuit as your computer. The
circuit breaker does not provide any
backup power, nor does it regulate the
voltage reaching your equipment. For
good power protection, this system
should be implemented in conjunction
with one or more of the methods given
! Spike buster: This device comes
almost as standard with new computer
purchases. A spike buster (also called a
surge suppresser) looks similar to a
power strip that provides added power
outlets, except that it contains circuitry
that can detect impulse increases (or
spikes) in the input voltage. When it
detects a higher voltage, it shuts off and
its fuse opens. This prevents a
dangerously high voltage from reaching
your equipment. Such devices can
protect your computer in case of errors
in power lines or even lightning strikes,
which can cause sharp voltage increases.
However, in case of a power failure, a
spike buster will not be able to power
your equipment, hence it is not the best
way to implement power protection.
! Stabiliser: A stabiliser is a slightly
better device for power protection—it’s
capable of detecting both power surges
and brownouts and can rectify them to
deliver a regulated AC voltage to your
computer. It continuously senses the
input voltage (and in some cases even
the output voltage). It uses a closed

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feedback circuitry to clamp the output voltage to a constant              electronic circuit called an inverter. This gives clean power to
value by either bucking (lowering) or boosting (increasing) the           the equipment connected to it.
input voltage, depending on its level.                                        There are three types of UPS systems in use—offline, online
    The principal element of a stabiliser is a transformer whose          and line-interactive. In an offline UPS, the equipment is driven
output voltage is controlled depending on the input voltage. It           directly by the mains power as long as it remains within
controls the output voltage between the low and high voltage              threshold limits of the minimum and maximum values. During
thresholds at which the device operates, but if these limits are          this time, the batteries of the UPS are continually charged. In
surpassed, it simply switches off. A stabiliser cannot regulate the       case of an extreme power condition or a power failure, the UPS
frequency of the output voltage or provide any form of backup             switches on very quickly (usually under 5 milliseconds) to the
power, but does provide adequate control of voltage for most              batteries.
applications in case of occasional low-level fluctuations.                    In an online UPS, the equipment is continually driven
! UPS: This is the most effective way to implement power                  through the batteries even during normal conditions, during
protection. A UPS is a device capable of maintaining pure AC              which time the batteries also charge. Therefore, this type of UPS
power and can even provide backup power in case of very poor              under-standably provides the purest form of power protection
input power or a total power failure. Here, DC power provided             available—no matter what the input power conditions, the
by the UPS batteries is converted into AC power by an                     output power is provided through the battery.

                                          The ultimate protection
        nti-virus protection is dandy, but how do you safeguard           power that can be provided by the UPS. You should choose the
        against losing valuable data to a black out? Prevention is        rating on the basis of the power requirements of the equipment
        better than cure, invest in a suitable power protection sys-      you are going to connect to the UPS. As a rule of thumb, a 1
tem to safeguard your equipment and data.                                 GHz processor-based machine with a 20 GB hard disk, a
    Before you buy a UPS, you need to add the total power con-            CD-ROM drive and a 17-inch colour monitor would require
sumption of your system. Decide which pieces of equipment                   a 500 VA UPS.
need UPS support. Typically, only the CPU and                                    Backup time: This is the specified time for which
monitor are supported, this reduces the power                                    the UPS provides power from the batteries for a fixed load.
drawn from the UPS.                                                              Look for a backup time of at least 10 minutes at maximum
    If the power draw is expressed in Amps, then                                              load.
multiply that value by your nominal line voltage                                              Switching/transfer time: Used interchange-
(230V). If the power draw is expressed in Watts,                                             ably, switching or transfer time is the time
multiply by a factor of 1.3 to 1.4 for VA load. For                                          taken by the UPS to switch from normal deliv-
example, 250 Watt power supply (x 1.4) = 350 VA load                              ery power mode to battery mode when it detects power
(assuming that your monitor is drawing power from the power               anomalies. Look for transfer times of less than 5 milliseconds.
supply of the PC). For redundancy and safety, a 500 VA UPS should         Alarms and connectivity: Most UPS systems have LEDs on the
be enough for most PCs.                                                   front panel that indicate the state of its batteries and the condi-
                                                                          tion of the input and output power. This visual indication of its
Technology Insight                                                        operation is important especially during power failures—look
Here's how the UPS system works and keeps your computer up and            for a UPS that features these indicators.
running. The rectifier or the charger converts the incoming Alter-        Charging time: This is the time taken to charge the UPS batter-
nating Current (AC) mains into Direct Current (DC), which is              ies from a completely drained state to a fully charged condition.
used to charge the battery, and in some cases to power the invert-        This should be between 4 and 6 hours.
er. Then the inverter takes DC
power from the rectifier or the
battery and converts it into AC                                               Decision Maker
power for the load. Most UPS                        Single computer protection                    Mission-critical applications
systems include additional filters                  Protection for a single computer compris-     Protection for a server that needs to be
                                     You Need
to eliminate spikes.
                                                    ing a monitor, system unit, keyboard and      continually running with mission-critical
                                                    mouse, for example, a 1 or 2 GHz              applications, for example, a 1 GHz-proces-
Smart Tips
                                                    processor-based machine with a 20 GB          sor, with up to 1 GB of RAM, up to four
Input voltage range: This is the
range beyond which the UPS                          hard disk, a CD/DVD-ROM drive, 256 to         SCSI hard disks, a CD-ROM drive, backup
delivers power through its bat-                     512 MB of RAM and a 17-inch monitor           device and a 17-inch monitor
teries. The greater the range the    Look For       An offline or line-interactive UPS with a     An online UPS with at least 1 KVA rating,
UPS can handle, the more versa-                     450 VA to 650 VA rating, and a backup         and a backup time of 10 minutes. It should
tile its power protection. Look                     time of 10 minutes                            also support remote monitoring through a
for a voltage range between 150
                                                                                                  serial port with alarms and indicators in
and 270 volts.
                                                                                                  case of power anomalies
VA rating: This is a rating of the

          128                                                                                                                     JUNE 2003
Also Remember…                  Power tips for UPS
■  To buy a UPS all you need    !  Before cleaning the UPS, make sure the power        discharge the battery of the UPS once
to do is add up the total       is completely switched off. Then unplug all the        a month to prolong the battery life. To do this, run
power draw of your equip-       attached peripherals and clean the UPS with a          the computer from the battery itself so that it is
ment.                           dry soft cloth.                                        completely discharged, and then recharge it.
■ First, decide which pieces    ! It is advisable to completely charge and
of equipment need UPS
support. Typically, only the
CPU and monitor are sup-
ported to cut down on
                                                             Future Of The UPS
power draw to the UPS.                   PS systems have come a long way from          ageability and intelligent prod-
■ If the power draw is                   being just batteries connected to small       ucts. UPSes are as important for
expressed in Amps then                   circuits in a box. Today’s UPS systems,       mission-critical applications as any other
multiply that value by your     especially those catering to the enterprise seg-       element, and reliability is a major issue. At the
nominal line voltage, 230V.     ment, have control and power management fea-           same time, intelligent products will be able to
If the power draw is            tures that would put some of the geekiest equip-       maximise power availability for the equipment
expressed in Watts, multiply    ment to shame.                                         that needs it most, shutting down non-necessary
by a factor of 1.3 to 1.4 for         With time, UPSes have evolved from being         equipment at different stages of battery usage.
VA load.                        simple, relay—controlled switching behemoths           Running costs will also be a driving factor.
■ Example: 250 Watt power       to DSP—based compact systems. The search is                 Terms such as Reliability, Redundancy, Intel-
supply (x 1.4) = 350 VA         still on for the perfect UPS, which will have fea-     ligence and Remote Manageability are new buzz-
load (assuming that your        tures like optimum redundancy, highest MTBF            words of the power conditioning industry. With-
monitor is drawing power        (mean time between failures), lowest MTTR              out a doubt, UPSes will very soon be synony-
from the power supply of        (mean time to repair), best power control features,    mous with power conditioning, as other solu-
the PC). Add a measure of       better remote management features and so on.           tions simply cannot compare with the power
safety and 500 VA is                  One of the biggest boons to the enterprise       that a UPS can offer you.
enough for most PCs.            has been the introduction of centralised UPS sys-           As UPSes grow in popularity, expect to see a
                                tems. Earlier, the power-conditioning infrastruc-      shift towards top-of-the-line online UPSes. This
                                ture depended mainly on distributed UPSes for          shift will be made possible by falling costs, as
                                smooth, clean power flow. In centralised UPS           technology becomes cheaper and more accessi-
                                solutions, a single UPS is used to feed a dedicat-     ble. Online UPSes feature more interactivity and
                                ed ring main, which supports several critical load     scalability, not to mention greater standby time.
                                items. Although it’s an expensive solution, such       Considering the direction the power condition-
                                centralised UPS systems are more versatile and         ing industry is headed, and observing the tech-
                                cost-effective in terms of load utilisation and bat-   nologies being developed to enhance reliability
                                tery capacity. They’re easier to maintain, upgrade     and efficiency, we'll certainly hear more about
                                and manage than distributed UPSes. The price           these devices soon.
                                per KVA also comes down with such systems. It's             UPSes are gaining increasing visibility
                                much easier to configure the power conditioning        among home users as they realise the impor-
                                system in case new additions have to be made to        tance of securing their expensive electronic
                                the network.                                           equipment from the vagaries of Indian power
                                      The next trend in the Indian UPS industry        companies. It won't be too long before we see a
                                would be a major shift towards reliability, man-       UPS in every home.
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                                     This section is sponsored by

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            Full page AD

      132                            JUNE 2003
          kay, so your assortment of          sync with this, vendors have been reduc-
          portable devices—PDA, digital       ing laptop prices to make them affordable
          diary etc—make you feel you’re      to all, with varying levels of success.
the King of computing-on-the-go, but              Now there’s an alternative. The
haven’t you ever wished you could do          ‘desknote’, which is more of a laptop but
more with these devices? That you could       big enough to replace a desktop, has start-
play more than chess or do more than read     ed gaining momentum, largely due to the
an e-book or listen to MP3 music when         cost factor. A chief feature of the desknote
you’re bored with that in-flight movie?       is that it does not come with a built-in
That you could go beyond just editing of      battery—the same is available as an
your Word and Excel files on your PDA?        optional extra. One of the prominent
That you wouldn’t miss your laptop so         brands available in India is the Kobian
much?                                         desknote, which costs from Rs 45,000 to
      Handheld devices already let you take   Rs 55,000 depending on the model.
notes, schedule your day, catch up on e-          Technological development in this
mail messages or plug in headphones to        segment has been tremendous, and the
listen to MP3s during your daily jog. You     emphasis is on making products lighter
can even use them as a stand-in for times     on power. Intel, with its SpeedStep tech-
when you cannot—or do not—want to             nology for mobile processors, promises
take your laptop with you. But they still     longer battery life. Transmeta’s Crusoe
fall short of being the complete compan-      processors consume the least power and
ion for your computing needs on the                     are specifically designed for
road.                                                   mobile devices. AMD uses its
      This void for a portable                           PowerNow technology for
device that’s somewhere                                  longer battery life.
between a laptop and a desk-                                 In the last couple of months
top in computing power and                               we’ve seen rivals such as IBM,
is still small, is being filled by                         Toshiba and HP battling it out.
a slew of futuristic portables.                                All of them launched new
These new devices incorpo-                                         models, particularly
rate technologies that inte-                                          with the Centrino
grate several functions into an                                   platform targeted at the
all-in-one device that’s also easy to                   premium segment. Celeron-
operate.                                      based notebooks form a major percentage
                                              of notebooks sold in the entry-level seg-
Market Overview                               ment, where there is a large market for
A processing powerhouse that sits on          refurbished notebooks. These notebooks,
your lap is no longer a dream. Some lap-      which are often backed by service and
tops available today are real powerhous-      support, provide good value for money at
es in themselves, with processing speeds      prices that range between Rs 30,000 and
as high as 2.4 GHz, with 512 MB DDR           Rs 40,000.
RAM, and they come with DVD-Writers               With increasing demand, vendors are
and other matching peripherals. Laptops       also looking at providing more flexible
once considered to be worthy only for         solutions. Some, such as HP, Acer and
top-of-the-line marketing teams are now       Wipro, are even considering setting up
becoming a reality for most professionals     assembly plants in India.
on the move. Although many vendors are            Among handhelds, a trend observed is
still pushing Celeron-based PCs, some         that of providing solutions rather than a
vendors such as Toshiba, HP, Sony, ACi        product. Hence a couple of vendors have
and Fujitsu have geared themselves up         started concentrating on software devel-
with the latest technology and are offer-     opment. With bigger brands such as Sony,
ing Centrino-based PCs, along with an         HP and Palm failing to make an impact on
option of tablet functionalities.             the higher price bracket, vendors such as
     Today, mobile PC technology is mov-      Pushpam have started targeting the gov-
ing at a brisk pace. Features such as sup-    ernment sector to gain momentum.
port for Bluetooth and wireless network-          Overall, the mobile segment is seeing
ing support are no longer a futuristic        increasing demand, particularly in low-
dream. Most users who’ve used a desktop       cost solutions, and is poised to attain new
for a couple of years and have got hooked     heights in the coming months.
to it now want to move on to a laptop. In

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                                   Note Perfect
              otebooks come at a premium,              Drives/bays: Though, it makes sense to
              but for anyone who needs to be           have all drives (floppy, DVD/CD ROM)
              mobile, it's a premium that's            built into the main casing, a hot-swap-
      worth paying. Laptops generally lag con-         pable bay gives you greater flexibility.
      siderably behind desktop PCs in absolute         Hard drive: Capacity ranges from 6 GB
      performance, and upgrades can be really          to 50 GB. Most users find 12-20 GB
      expensive. Compaq, Toshiba, IBM, and                         enough. Anyway you will not
      Dell dominate the inter-                                       save much by buying a small-
      national laptop market.                                        er capacity HDD, and will pay
                                                                     a lot more to buy a bigger
      Smart Tips                                                     capacity drive.
      Size/weight: The weight                                        Communication: Look for a
      ranges from 1.5 kg to 4 kg                                     built-in 56 Kbps modem with
      and it could be as little as                                   a RJ-45 connector for your
      1-inch thick. External                                             phone line. If you spend a
      power supplies and periph-                                              lot of time on a net-
      erals can add considerably                                                    work, you will
      to the weight.                                                                also want a
      Display: This will require a                                                  built-in Ether-
      compromise if you decide on an                                           net port. While IrDA
      ultraportable model. Most diplays                             is available on many units, this
      now support 1024 x 768 pixels and a 14-           has not really been a popular option.
      inch notebook display may be larger              Pointing device: You can choose between
      than most 15-inch desktop CRT units.             a pointing stick (like IBMs Trackpoint), or
      Processor: While the Crusoe, Duron and           a touch pad. Pointers are easier to control
      Athlon mobile processors are available,          but can give you a sore finger especially if
      Intel's mobile processors are more popular.      used for a long stretch of time.
      Battery: Realistically, the uptime for           Ports: Most peripheral devices connect
      most Lithium-ion battery powered mod-            to a USB port; make sure you have at least
      els is about three to four hours.                two USB ports. You will also need paral-
      Keyboard: If you are going to be doing           lel (for printers), serial, and PS/2 (for key-
      a lot of typing, a larger keyboard will          board/mice) ports.
      add considerably to your comfort. Hav-           Docking stations: This is useful if you
      ing the eight cursor-control keys is             are using your notebook as a desktop
      very important.                                  replacement.

                                         Decision Maker
                    Entry level                      Desktop                 Ultraportable
      You need      A purely functional device       Something that gives    An ultra light
                    that offers what any casual      a high performance,     notebook; something
                    user might need, at affordable   and has several extra   with a bit more
                    prices.                          features as well        panache
      Look for      A model that has an extra bay    Something that          Extremely lightweight
                    that would hold a CD/DVD-        gives you all the       devices that are
                    ROM, floppy drive, add-on        functionality of your   different from the
                    battery or even a CD-RW          existing desktop PC     crowd
                    drive. These generally will
                    offer a 13/14-inch XGA display
                    and weigh less than 3 kg
      Our pick      ACi Ethos 4                      ACi Emerald Pro         Toshiba Protégé 3500
      Price range   Rs 1,00,000 and below            Rs 1,00,000 to          About Rs 2,00,000
                                                     Rs 1,50,000

134                                                                                      JUNE 2003
          Buying Tips for Laptops
          ■ Battery Usage: Before              majority of all users this should be an
purchasing a portable laptop check the         important consideration. Are the software
battery life. Be cautious as many              full-version or just demo programs and
manufacturers will indicate a battery usage    shareware?
time at the lowest possible power settings.    ■ Legal software: When purchasing a
■ Modem and Network Card: If you use a         laptop, make sure it comes with legal
dial-up Internet connection, ensure that a     software. Many end-users or small laptop
modem is included with the portable            companies who build or sell laptops may
laptop. In addition, verify if the modem is    not provide you with legal copies of the
an internal or PC-CARD (PCMCIA) modem,         software. Verify that the software that
as you may require all the available PC-       came with your laptop is on an original
CARD slots in the future. PC-CARD              CD and has a software licence or
modems are Type II; Network PC-CARDs           registration number. An example of
are also Type II: if the laptop needs to be    software that includes such certificates
connected to a LAN, you need to ensure         and/or licenses is Microsoft.
that it has a network card. Again, verify      ■ Beware of Scams: It's possible to
whether the card is integrated or PCMCIA.      overclock a processor, making it appear to
■ Documentation: Although most                 be faster than it's rated for. To determine
manufacturers today tend to reduce the         the processor speed, open the laptop and
amount of documentation included with          look at the processor itself. Do not look at
laptops, all laptop manufacturers will         the processor through a software program
include some type of paper                     or through BIOS, as these values can be
documentation or paper inserts. But check      changed.
if this includes documentation on              ■ Upgradability: You may not consider
upgrading the laptop in the future, about      this at first when purchasing a laptop, but
connecting the required cables and how to      it is important all the same. Here are some
use the bundled software.                      options to look for when upgrading the
■ Refurbished Laptops: ‘Refurbished’ is a      laptop: RAM, CPU, Hard Drive, etc. Are the
term used to describe a laptop or a            upgrades something that you can do
hardware device, that contains one or          yourself, or does it require a visit to a
more component that’s been used or             service centre?
repaired. Refurbished laptops will have a      ■ Location: Before you buy a laptop,
lower price and are generally a good deal      make sure you can easily return it to the
for the budget-conscious.                      dealer if it proves unsatisfactory. Also
■ Software: Does the software include          check if the dealer can service your
Microsoft Office or Corel Suite? These         laptop. If not, where is the closest
packages allow you to have a word              location where your laptop can be
processor and/or a spreadsheet. For the        serviced?

Buying Tips for Handheld Devices
■ Memory: Depending on the types of            ■ Screen size and resolution:
applications you plan to use, a handheld's     Monochrome screens are suitable for most
integrated memory could run out faster         applications; colour screens are for those
than you’d imagine. You will need at least 4   who intend to work with graphics and
MB of memory for text-based aplications,       video files. Look for a colour screen with
and 16 MB for storing media files.             good resolution, clarity and brightness,
■ Compatibility: Your handheld should          and one that is clearly legible in darkness
support your applications. It should also be   as well as in bright light.
able to communicate with your desktop          ■ Battery life: Make sure it has a run time
PC and preferably with other handheld          of at least 10 hours, or you'll find yourself
devices.                                       spending a lot of money on batteries.
■ Expandability and upgradability: Choose      ■ Integrated features: Opt for devices
handhelds that allow the OS to be upgraded     with additional features such as a cellular
to higher versions. Also, look out for ones    phone or camera only if you are going to
that allow the firmware to be upgraded         actually them. These frills add significantly
through flashing.                              to the cost.

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      Power Tips for for using a Laptop Computer
      ■  Laptops are Unergonomic: Laptop               screen such that you can do not
      design violates a basic ergonomic                strain your body
      requirement for a computer, namely that          ■ Full-time Users: If you use your
      the keyboard and screen should be                laptop at work as your main computer you
      separate. The reason is simple—in a fixed        should position this on your desk/work
      design, if the keyboard is in an optimal         surface in front of you so that you can see the
      position for the user, the screen isn’t and if   screen without bending your neck. Use a
      the screen is, then the keyboard isn't. This     separate keyboard and mouse. Use the
      means that you need to pay special               keyboard on a negative-tilt keyboard tray to
      attention to how you use your laptop             ensure a wrist neutral posture. Use the mouse
      because it can cause you problems.               on an adjustable position mouse platform.
      Consider purchasing a separate keyboard.         ■ Laptop Dimensions: Many laptops offer
      ■ Laptop Posture: As indicated above,            large screens and can work as desktop
      laptops violate basic ergonomic design           replacements. The larger the screen the
      requirements, so using a laptop is a trade-      more difficult it will be to use this in mobile
      off between poor neck and head posture,          locations (e.g. airplane, car, train).
      and poor hand or wrist posture.                  ■ Laptop Weight: If you are a mobile
      ■ Occasional Users: Because the neck and         professional, think about the weight of the
      head position is determined by the actions       system. By the word 'system' we mean the
      of large muscles, you are better off             weight of the laptop plus all its accessories.
      sacrificing neck posture rather than wrist       Many lightweight portables can become as
      posture. Find a comfortable chair, position      heavy as regular laptops when you add the
      your laptop on your lap and angle the            weight of all of the components.

                        The Future of Laptops
            DAs will be capable of handling full       MPEG-4 and H.263 video-
            motion (30 fps) video as easily as they    conferencing codes. They
            would handle gaming and 3G com-            also feature Windows CE .Net
      munication. Devices such as the HP iPAQ          support.
      H3950, Pocket LOOX 600, Toshiba Genio                 Besides these processors, there are a
      E550G and O2 XDA, based on newer                 slew of other devices, like the Handspring
      processors such as Intel’s XScale chips are      Treo 270 based on the 33 MHz Dragonball
      enhancing mobile computing power.                VZ processor, and the HP Jornada 928,
           The XScale processors are available in      based on the 133 MHz TI OMAP710
      two variants—the PXA250 (400 MHz, 300            processor. All these enhancements indi-
      MHz and 200 MHz) and the                                  cate that the new super-breed of
      PXA210 (200 MHz and 133                                      handhelds will enable users to
      MHz). They consume up to                                     run applications that were
      one-third of the power of                                   never thought possible, at
      their predecessors, the Strong                              speeds never experienced
      ARM processors. The PXA250                                  before.
      is aimed at handheld lap-                                        As for future laptops, they
      tops, while the PXA210 is                                           will have faster micro-
      tailored for entry-level hand-                                           processors     with
      helds and cell phones. These                                          more memory. The
      processors also incorporate                                      storage devices may change
      advanced power management fea-                             from removable disks (Floppy,
      tures.                                                Zip, CD, and DVD) to solid state
           By integrating memory and LCD con-          memory, which could make them even
      trollers onto the chip itself, they reduce       lighter and thinner. While some models
      the number of components in the hand-            of laptops already have the ability to send
      helds they are used in. Both these proces-       and receive data using infrared and wire-
      sors come with 64 KB of cache and fea-           less Internet technologies, this feature
      ture Intel’s Integrated Performance Prim-        may become more common.
      itives (IPP), which provides in-built func-           In the more distant future, regular
      tions for signal processing (for speech and      laptops may even eventually be replaced
      handwriting recognition), MP3 codecs,            by wearable computers.

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      Buyer’s Guide

                                     This section is sponsored by

      137                                                           JUNE 2003
                                                   hen Sony first introduced its TPS-L2    The market is flooded with such devices, so it’s
                                                   personal audio in 1979, it created a    critical for you to decide early on whether you
                                                   sensation in the world of music.        want a plain-vanilla MP3 player, or a gizmo
                                      After some false starts, the name ‘Walkman’ was      that comes with all the bells and whistles.
                                      bestowed upon it, primarily because it was a              The menu structure should be simple and
                                      cassette-based portable music device that could      the functions accessible with minimal clicking.
                                      be easily carried with you wherever you go.          Some solid-state players don't come with an
                                           Over a decade later, Fraunhofer revolu-         LCD screen—a basic requirement of any MP3
                                      tionised the way music was recorded by devel-        player. Turn a deaf ear to such obsolete players,
                                      oping the MP3 format. This not only reduced          which are still available in the market and sold
                                      file sizes drastically but provided decent sound     to unwary buyers.
                                      quality. The emergence of the Internet fuelled            A robust earphone is important because it
                                      the success of this format because it allowed        is the termination point in the audio chain. If
                                      one to swap music files online, with ease.           it does not deliver good audio quality, the
                                           The market for portable music players con-      entire experience is lost. As far as portability is
                                      tinued to be dominated by Walkman till a cou-        concerned, go in for smaller, lightweight
                                      ple of years ago, but things are changing. The       devices.
                                                           technology employed in MP3           Warranty is important in the case of
                                                           players has improved tremen-    portable devices, because they are going to be
          Buying tips for MP3 Player                       dously and we now get crisper   used while travelling or on the move. Chances
           You should check out the features first         sound, extended battery life    of damage or malfunction are high, so the bet-
       before buying any MP3 player. Given below           because of the absence of       ter the warranty the more faith you can rest in
are some features that you should look for:                moving parts in solid-state     the brand. The same is true for after-sales sup-
! See if the player has support for more than one          MP3 players and large storage   port—the more outlets in a large number of
format, e.g. MP3 and WMA.                                  space for songs.                cities and towns, the better.
! The player should have a big enough LCD                      Since MP3 players are
screen with backlit function, so you can read the          portable devices, you’ll need   Market Overview
information even in the dark.                              to keep a few things in mind    Creative, Sony and Philips are some well-
! The buttons should be ideally placed so that if          while buying one. Ergonom-      known brands available in the market, along
you have to operate a player that’s buckled to             ics play as important a role    with cheaper Chinese counterparts like the
your belt (or is in your pocket) you can do so             in the buying decision as do    NAPA-DAV, which retails for under Rs 5,750.
without having to unbuckle or remove it.                   features. Easy portability,     Solid-state MP3 players cost around Rs 8,000 to
! A rechargeable battery is a must, or the device          convenient placement of         15,000, depending on the memory and features
will need frequent battery changes if used                 buttons, and usability, are     offered (LCD screen, volume control on head-
regularly.                                                 hot; bulky size, tiny buttons   phones etc). This is at least 5-7 times costlier
! A sturdy carry case is very important, as any            and menu navigation that        than normal CD MP3 players that retail for as
scratch or pressure on the LCD screen can harm             needs a reference guide are     little as Rs 3,000. Solid-state MP3 players are
this delicate device.                                      not.                            more expensive than CD MP3 players because
! Go in for a good set of earphones. The                       Buttons should be ideal-    their storage media is more expensive.
earphones need to reproduce sound faithfully.              ly on the front panel, and           Solid-state MP3 players have a memory lim-
! Make sure the MP3 player is covered under                should be within easy reach.    itation—they come with a memory card, which
warranty for at least a year.                              These days, MP3 players         is a costly means of storage. CD MP3 players,
! The Line-out if present is definitely an added           actually sport a whole range    on the other hand, offer very long playtime
advantage as you can plug your MP3 Player to a             of new features, putting        because a 700 MB CD, which is now available
music system.                                              them into the category of       for as little as Rs 10, can easily store 100-125
! Upgradable memory is preferable to a fixed               hybrid devices rather than      songs of 6-7 minutes in length.
memory with no upgrade option.                             pure music players. Compa-           CD MP3 players are bulkier and much
! See that electronic shock protection of at least         nies like Casio and Apacer      heavier than solid-state players. The fidelity
100 seconds is provided with CD-MP3 player.                have even built MP3 players     they offer is also not as great as that of the solid-
                                                           into watches and USB drives.    state players.

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 Also Remember…
■ Some devices come with
                                                                  Shades of Music
voice recording capability.

This would allow you to use                  hen they first entered the Indian             useful. Most players have single or two-line dis-
the player as a dictaphone.                  market, these devices were exorbi-            plays but some (like the Lyra) feature a multi-
                                             tantly priced, but this scenario is           line 16-character by 6-line dot matrix display
■ Built-in FM tuner is a useful   changing. With the explosion in the number               capable of displaying ASCII characters.
feature on a long journey         of such devices available abroad, a ripple effect        Control and menu navigation keys: Similar
when you have had your fill       is being seen here in the Indian markets, with           to regular CD players, you have buttons for
of the songs stored in the        prices dropping and greater variety available.           functions such as Play, Stop, Forward, Rewind,
player's memory.                      The most commonly available MP3 play-                               Search, Random, Programmable
                                  ers are the solid-state devices with storage                             tracks, etc. Additional shortcut
■ It is useful if the MP3
                                  capacity beginning from 32 MB. There are                                   and navigation keys are a wel-
player can play back other
file formats such as WMA.         two major Flash RAM standards in use                                        come addition.
                                  today—Compact Flash and the                                                 Batteries: The digital signal
■ Make sure that you have         newer Smart Media. Since                                                     processor forms the heart of
the right port (parallel or       memory is the most expen-                                                    the MP3 player and per-
USB) free on your PC.             sive component of an MP3                                                      forms the task of decoding,
                                  player, it has a major impact                                                 processing and converting
■ Encoding your music CDs         on the overall cost of the                                                    the MP3 data into audible
into MP3s is a very CPU-          device. Popular brands in India                                               audio format using a built-
intensive task. Make sure that
                                  include Creative and Diamond's                                                in codec.
you have a reasonably power-
                                  Rio. The prices range from Rs                                                 File transfer Interface:
ful processor (at least 400
MHz) on your PC. Otherwise        8,000 to Rs 25,000.                                                         This is the medium for the
it would take you quite a                                                                                  transfer of MP3 files between
while to encode or transfer       Technology Insight                                                    the player and your PC. The most
MP3s.                             Most devices use Flash RAM (mini-                                   popular method is through a serial
                                  mum 32 MB) but some newer mod-                               cable, which connects to your PC’s paral-
                                  els can read MP3 CDs instead. A few prod-                lel port. Newer devices use the hot-pluggable
                                  ucts use a hard disk (6 GB for the Creative Juke-        USB interface, which allows faster file trans-
                                  box) as their primary storage medium. Flash              fers.
                                  memory, however, completely eliminates skip-             Memory expansion: You can buy add-on
                                  ping.                                                    memory modules (Compact Flash cards or by
                                                                                           Flash RAM) depending upon the standard sup-
                                  Smart Tips                                               ported by the device. Make sure that the play-
                                  LCD screen: A backlit display that allows you            er supports memory upgrades in case you
                                  to view track and status information is very             decide you need it in the future.
                                                                                                             Headphones: The head-
                                                Easy listening                 Music enthusiast              phones that come bundled
                                   You need     Something you pick up          A player that you intend      with most MP3 players are
                                                while on the go                to live with and want         usually of a low quality. If you
                                                                               your entire music             are a music connoisseur you
                                                                               collection accessible         should look around for
                                                                                                             better-quality headphones
                                   Look for     A player that uses Flash       A player that uses            from brands such as Sony,
                                                RAM and has at least 64MB either a hard-disk or              Sennheiser or Koss. Here
                                                of memory with the option      CDs as the medium             again, make sure that you
                                                to upgrade                     for storing music             actually try out the head-
                                   Our pick     Apacer Audio Steno             Apple iPod                    phones with the device
                                                                                                             before you actually put down
                                   Price range Up to Rs. 10,000                Up to Rs 30,000               the money for it.

          140                                                                                                                    JUNE 2003
 Tips For using MP3 Players
Power is a serious issue with MP3 players as you seldom get the rated       Since MP3 players are portable devices and are used
battery life. It’s just like motorcycle manufacturers claiming incredible   on the move follow, these tips to ensure long,
mileage for their motorbikes “under standard test conditions”. To get       uninterrupted life.
the maximum out of the battery, try these techniques.                       ! Always carry the MP3 player in its carry case.
! Never set the volume level to maximum. This will protect not only         ! Avoid direct contact of other objects with the screen, as it may get
the battery life but also your hearing.                                     scratched.
! Use headphones that cover your ears completely rather than plugs,         ! Take care of the earphone cord. If it’s stretched, it can leave one or
because the latter allows other noise into the ears and you will be         both plugs useless.
tempted to increase the
volume level.
! From the menu, reduce
the time the backlit stays
                                                                             More music please
active. The feature is very                                                  Some solid-state MP3 players come with 32 MB or 64 MB
helpful at night, but eats a                                                 memory and cannot store more than 6-12
lot of power.                                                                songs encoded at 128 Kbps. However, you
! Organise your songs                                                        can increase the number of songs—but at
into playlists. For instance,                                                the expense of quality. If the Kbps
put all rock music into one                                                  count is decreased to 64 Kbps or
playlist and jazz into                                                       lower, the file size will reduce even
another. This will save you                                                  further and allow you to store more
time, and you won’t have                                                     songs. The quality of sound will not be
to access the backlit                                                        as good as it is at 128 Kbps, and even
option for long.                                                             playing at maximum volume might not be
! Always use a good                                                          sufficient. To encode the music at a lower or higher bit rate, go
branded battery to avoid                                                     to Tools > Option in Windows Media Player and click on Devices.
leaks that can damage                                                        Select MP3 player from the list and click Details. The new
components inside the                                                        window will let you set the quality level by dragging the bar to
player and render it unusable.                                               the right or left.

  Player On Four Wheels
 B    ored with the limited number of audio cassettes you have?
      Dismayed by the quality of music your car audio system plays?
  Here's a simple solution. If your car deck has a Line-in, most of the
                                                                            cassette, with a connection port on one end where the stereo
                                                                            cable is connected. The other end goes in the headphone jack on
                                                                            your MP3 player.
  problems of connecting an MP3 player to your                                          The only trade-off is sound quality, which may not be
  car deck is solved.                                                                      as good as your car deck with Line-out, because
  Get an RCA cable from the market, connect                                                 there’s a magnetic coupling inside your car deck
  the red-connector and white-connector to                                                  between the cassette head and the car audio’s
  the car deck, and the single pin connection                                                head. This causes magnetic interference, which
  to your MP3 player’s headphone jack. The                                                    produces noise and hence loss in quality. But it’s
  LCD on your car deck will display auxiliary-                                                still much better than what you get from regular
  in or MP3, which means the MP3 player                                                      cassettes.
  is successfully connected to the car                                                       There are car MP3 players available in the market
  audio system.                                                                          that are hard disk based, and which can be removed
  If your car’s system doesn’t have a Line-in function, you will have       and plugged into a PC through a USB connection, but since their
  to buy a car MP3 adapter. This adapter looks exactly like a               prices are very high they are yet to become popular.

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                                                   Sound Formats
MP3                                                                     WMA
Because of its inherent versatility, portability and swap-value,        This is Microsoft’s own audio format that is part of the Windows
the MP3 is most popular format by far. However, compared to             Media family of audio and video codecs. In it's latest incarnation
newer formats, MP3 clearly shows up as inferior. It provides            of WMA 9, teh format offers audio quality superior to MP3 at com-
very decent sound quality at high bit rates, but the                       parable bit rates, and can do much better at smaller file sizes.
quality drops audibly at lower bit rates. This                             Since it is the native format for Windows Media Player, it is
means you cannot hope to have small files                                   conveniently accessible.
with premium audio quality.                                                     If you choose to encode your music to WMA 9, be sure to
                                                                             uncheck the option to ‘Copy protect music’, or you will not
Ogg Vorbis                                                                   be able to play the encoded file on any other PC or device.
An open source music format, Ogg Vorbis has plug-
ins for popular applications such as Winamp and                               AAC
Sonique. It supports multi-channel streams, so you                               An encoding scheme owned by Dolby, this is the pre-
can encode a surround sound recording, and not                                  ferred codec for the highest quality compressed audio. At
just 2-channel stereo. However, this format is popu-                          low bit rates, it out-performs all other known codecs. How-
lar only within the geek circles and open source                        ever, Dolby has been very slow with its licensing, hence there is
zealots, much like MP3 in its early days. Ogg Vorbis                    a dearth of good encoding tools. If you do need to play AAC
offers better audio quality at smaller file sizes as compared to MP3.   files, you can download the Winamp Plug-in from
     This is the ideal format if you are developing an application—     www.audiocoding.com.
such as chat, game sound, etc.,—that needs audio compression.                Apple is using AAC in the newly launched iTunes online audio
Do remember that you need to pay to use this Codec in business          shop, and it's iPod player is one of the early adopters of this for-
applications. This format is most suited to small developers.           mat, though it is currently only supported on a Mac.

                                         Future Of MP3 Players
      he future holds a lot of promise for MP3 players. Today           manufacturers to pay a licence fee. This
      many of these players double as watches or storage                format is a product of the open source
      devices. Even PDAs and cell phones ship with                      movement and since it’s as good in quality as
MP3 players!                                                            the MP3 format, it’s widely used online and has
    One thing we’ll certainly see is a tremendous                               increasing support from media players like Winamp.
increase in memory. Today, solid-state MP3 players                                    Designs will also change for the better. MP3
are bundled with 128 MB, but with the introduction                                players of the future could be worn on the wrist. A
of the iPod from Apple (which has as much as 30 GB                                more radical design revamp for the CD MP3 player
storage space), one will not need to load new music                               involves the introduction of 8 cm CDs to replace the
for awhile! This is just the beginning; in future we’ll                           existing 12 cm CDs. This makes the players more
have MP3 players with as much as 40 to 60 GB                                      compact, but play time is reduced by almost 50 per
storage that will connect wirelessly to your desktop to                           cent.
transfer music.                                                                       A new breed of players hitting the market—like
    With the advent of wireless standards such as                                 the Creative MuVo—is the size of a finger but stores
Bluetooth and widespread use of RF-based PC                                       128 MB of songs. It also works as a portable storage
peripherals, soon there will be receivers bundled with                            device. Other designs include a cassette that can be
MP3 players too to talk with PC using RF signals.                                 used as both MP3 player and cassette in a regular
    Manufacturers are also integrating support for other                home audio system. In the not-too-distant future, don’t be
standards like Ogg Vorbis, WMA and AAC into one player.                 amazed to see an MP3 player integrated into your beloved’s
Formats like Ogg Vorbis are free and don’t require                      diamond ring!

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      Buyer’s Guide

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                                          few years ago, a cellular phone was           and depending on their success, more will fol-
                                          considered a luxury item. However,            low. The entry-level price of a cell phone has
                                          with tariffs going down, owning a cell        dropped around 15 to 25 per cent over the past
                                  phone has become a necessity. And most peo-           year, and basic phones such as the Nokia 3315,
                                  ple do own one, right from your neighbour’s           Sony Ericsson T100, T200 now cost between
                                  school-going kid to your local subziwallah. In        Rs 4,800 and Rs 5,800.
                                  fact, things will soon reach a state where not             In the mid-range segment, which has
                                  having a cell phone is a sign that you’ve             some additional features such as calendaring,
                                  arrived—a subtle message that hints: “Look,           large capacity address book, larger screens,
                                  I’m far too important to be at your beck and          IrDA ports and so on, prices hover between Rs
                                  call all the time!.”                                  10,000 and Rs 20,000. This is also the largest
                                       Joking apart, a cellular phone today is more     category of cellular phones. Phones such as
                                  than just a phone. It allows you to store appli-      the Nokia 6310, and 8310i are among the
                                  cations, manage meetings, appointments, etc.          more popular models. On the other hand,
                                  More over, newer phones come with a built-in          Sony Ericsson’s T68i does not have many
                                  camera, giving the PDA market a run for its           buyers despite a relatively low price of around
                                  money. Cellular handset manufacturers have            Rs 15,000. This is because there’s very little
                                  been flooding the market with new models,             awareness among users, even though the
                                  and this can only make your buying decision           phone has been available for more than
                                  more complicated.                                     a year.
 Also Remember…
                                       So which is the right phone for you? If you           In the high-end segment, Nokia’s 3650
 ■ When you send a long
                                  wish to use the phone simply for messaging            with a built-in camera is the latest craze. In the
 message you charged for
 each 160 letters. Hence if
                                  and receiving calls, you can get a good deal for      premium segment the latest entrant from Sony
 you send a message which         Rs 5,000. However, if you’re looking at features      Ericsson is the P800. Sold at around Rs 40,000,
 consists of 450 letters, you     such as calendar, PC synchronisation, Blue-           this comes with plenty of features to justify the
 will be charged for three        tooth connectivity, voice recorder, WAP brows-        proce tag.
 messages by your service         er etc, you could end up paying anywhere from              Prices in India are still on the higher side
 provider.                        Rs 10,000 to Rs 16,000. Phones bundled with           when compared with international markets,
                                  a camera and multimedia messaging could set           at least in the premium segment. Hence a lot
 ■ Tri-Band phones give you       you back by Rs 20,000 to Rs 40,000.                   of models get smuggled into the country
 the convenience of talking                                                             through grey channels, and are available at
 in five continents. However,
 make sure your service
                                  Market Overview                                       lower rates. But with the industry maturing,
 provider has tie-up’s interna-
                                  With the market growing, even Indian brands           this price difference has decreased, especial-
 tionally which will connect      such as VKMunoth have made an appearance,             ly in the entry-level and mid-range segments.
 you international networks.

 ■ While opting for a roam-
 ing scheme your service
                                                                  Market Scenario
 provider may not provide

                                         he ‘wired’ society is giving way to one        devices provide access to information
 outgoing calls from all                 that is wireless. Computing is getting         anytime, anywhere.
 states.                                 legs, with people increasingly accessing           Prices for entry-level cellphones begin
                                  the Internet and communicating with each              from about Rs 4,000 and go up to about
                                  other via small, hand-held electronic devices         Rs 40,000. Most users however will probably
                                  such as cell phones and personal digital              find a suitable cellphone for less than
                                   assistants (PDAs). Freed from the plug, these        Rs 10,000.

                                                                             Decision Maker
                                                 Basic use                    Amateur enthusiast            Performance Seeker
                                  You need       Average looks with basic     Sleek looks with PC           Camera, PDA, Tri-band, exter-
                                                 features                     connectivity                  nal Memory module support

                                                                              Phone book with a storage     Camera supporting a
                                  Look for       A phone that gives 100 or    capacity of 500 names and     resolution of 640 x 480,
                                                 more phone book entries      150 SMS, GPRS, infrared or    loads of internal memory,
                                                                              Bluetooth connectivity        fast CPU.
                                  Our pick       Nokia 2100                   Sony Ericcsson T68i,          Nokia 3650,
                                                                              Nokia 6310i                   Sony Ericsson P-800
                                  Price range    Up to Rs 7,000               Up to Rs 15,000               Up to Rs 40,000

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          Buying tips
        ■ Budget: The market is flooded with all sorts of mobile        between the computer and the mobile phone devices. You can
 phones. You may be lured to buy a more expensive phone than            use IR to send and receive phone book entries (business cards)
 you can afford, but resist the temptation!                             and reminder notes.
 ■ Talk-time: You should always check the talk-time of the cellular               ■ Bluetooth: This is the wireless standard of the future,
 phone before making a purchase. Most mobile manufacturers                              and provides a very user friendly way to transmit
 specify this on the packaging box.                                                     data at high speeds, over short distances. If your
 ■ Battery type: There are three types of batteries available in                        phone supports Bluetooth, you’re all set for the
 the Indian market: Lithium Polymer, Lithium-ion and Nickel                             future.
 Metal Hydride. While buying a new phone it’s advisable                                ■ Internal antenna: This feature allows you fit the
 to buy a phone with a Lithium Polymer battery, as it’s                               phone in the pocket as the phone size is compact.
 slimmer and has a larger power capacity. Nickel Metal                               Most current cell phones have this feature.
 Hydride batteries are heavier and have less power                                  ■ Vibrating alert: This feature allows you to make the
 capacity.                                                                         phone vibrate when a call, or a message is received. It’s
 ■ Phone size: It is advisable to go in for a medium-                             useful when you can’t keep the ringer on, such as in a
 sized phone that can easily fit into your pocket.                                theatre, or at an important conference.
 It’s easier to hold and use such phones than the                                 ■ Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS): Most high
 newer tinier models, even if the latter look more                                end phones have this feature that allows you to send and
 appealing.                                                                        receive rich media messages (comprising text, sounds,
 ■ Scheduling: Most phones give you the functionality                              images and video). However, most phones have a size
 of a calendar and task options, which allow you to                                restriction per message or they don’t allow you to for-
 create daily schedules. However, the calendar could                                ward audio. Before buying a MMS-enabled phone, make
 prove inconvenient if you’re not provided with a                                  sure you take into consideration the file size, restriction
 monthly view.                                                                    and its capability to send audio.
 ■ Internal memory: Some basic phones do not give you                            ■ Concatenated messages and character support: The
 any sort of internal phonebook memory. High-end phones                       GSM standard restricts you to messages containing only 160
 provide fixed allocated memory ranging from 300 to 500                 characters, so a phone that supports concatenated messages
 contacts, and also give you the flexibility of adding multiple         could enable you to send longer messages easily. Blinking mes-
 entries for each contact. Hence, before buying a phone,                sages can’t be displayed on all phones. Phones having support
 take a look at the amount of internal phone memory that                for ‘Unicode’ will allow you to display blinking messages.
 it ships with.                                                         ■ Voice dial: A voice recognition system that allows you to dial a
 ■ Colour display: If your budget permits, buy a phone that pro-        telephone number stored in your phone memory by just saying
 vides a colour display—the prices of these phones, such as the         the person’s name. Voice dial is very convenient and fast, and
 Nokia 3530, are coming down. You get phones that have an               useful in places where you cannot see the keypad or when you’re
 8-bit colour display—Panasonic has just released a cell phone          hands aren't free. Most new Nokia phones lack this feature, so
 with a 16-bit display—but it’s advisable to go in for at least a       don’t take it for granted that a new cell phone will come with
 12-bit display to ensure crisp quality.                                voice dial.
 ■ Tri-band or dual-band: While buying a phone, check if it sup-        ■ Accessories: Most expensive phones bundle quite a few acces-
 ports dual-band and preferably triband, which ensures that you         sories in the form of communication cable, desktop charger,
 can use the phone globally.                                            leather case etc. If your phone gives you such freebies, you can
                          ■ Enhanced Full Rate Speech (EFR):            save money by not having to buy them separately.
                           Make sure your phone supports EFR as         ■ Support service: What happens when your phone breaks
                           this codec helps in reducing the amount      down—does the warranty cover all the critical parts such as cir-
                           of background noise that gets transmit-      cuit board, screen, software installation and BIOS? Check this
                           ted along with your voice.                   while buying the phone.
                           ■ General Packet Radio Service               ■ External memory support: Most new phones give you the
                           (GPRS): If you’re a power user who           flexibility of adding external memory modules, which allow you
                            wants to surf the Web, and access e-        to add more data. If you’re buying a high-end phone, it’s advis-
                            mail, you could go in for a phone that      able to buy one that supports external memory.
                            supports WAP over GPRS. This will allow         Battery life: Most manufacturers claim to have a 15 day stand-
                             you to be continuously connected to        by time, however these are under test conditions in analogue
                             higher capacity Internet-based services.   mode. Hence if your buying decision is solely based on this then
                             ■ Infra-red port: Most new phones          you need to reconsider it.
                              give you a plethora of connectivity           Weight: The weight mentioned by the manufacturer could be
                             options. Phones having an Infrared         without the battery. Hence this could be misleading. Always install
                            option allow wireless connections           the battery and check if you are comfortable with the weight.

         146                                                                                                                        JUNE 2003
C     ell phones are no longer just communication devices;
      they reflect one’s lifestyle and attitude, and this leaves a
lot of space for customisation options such as add-on kits and
                                                                       ferent types of chargers. The ACP 12E is the best of the lot—it
                                                                       reduces charging time by half.
                                                                            You also get MP3 and FM radio sets that plug into your
other accessories. These accessories can be lifestyle-defining or      phone, and let you listen to music on the go. Nokia has an add-
they could simply enhance and simplify the overall cell phone          on MP3 adapter for most of its phones, whereas Sony Ericsson
experience.                                                            offers an FM radio kit for some of its models. Nokia has recent-
     These accessories can be classified into functional (those that   ly introduced its ‘Music Stand’, an audio device that sits on the
improve the usability) and the non-func-                               desktop and lets you play music via built-in speakers.
tional (those that improve the aesthetics).                                 With the advent of MMS and due support from service
Among the functional accessories we have                                providers, manufacturers such as Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motoro-
various options such as headsets, music                                        la and Panasonic have introduced external cameras for
stands, music players, external video cam-                                            some of their models. These plug into a port and
eras, desktop chargers and batteries.                                                    let you use your cell phone for some decent—
     Headsets have being around for quite a                                                if clandestine—photography.
while. They allow you to receive and make                                                       Apart from such functional accessories
calls without your having to bring the phone                                             that make your life simpler and more organ-
near your ear. Just plug the earpiece in your ear,                                     ised, phone makers also offer colourful change-
and your hands are free to do whatever mischief                                      able covers for nearly all models. All Nokia models
they’re up to at the moment!                                                              support this feature, and other manufacturers
     For business users who are always on the move, long battery                          have introduced such features in their
life is always an advantage. But a having spare battery is equal-                        latest models. Some high-end models even
ly good. Nearly all manufacturers today provide spare batteries        sport an elegant leather carry case.
and a desktop charger to charge them. Nokia even provides dif-

Power Tips
Phone Care                                                             of children.
You just spend your hard earned money buying an expensive              ■ Never forget your cell phone in your vehicle—
mobile phone, so make sure you keep the following points in your       apart from the fear of being stolen, the heat
mind while handling them else you could end up damaging it in          could shorten the life of electronic devices, damage
the long run.                                                          batteries and melt certain plastic components. Similarly, do not
■ Never keep your cell phone near heat and magnetic sources                  store your phone in cold areas because when the phone
(gas stove, direct sunlight, audio speakers, etc).                           warms up to its normal temperature, moisture can form
■ Avoid dropping it as it could damage the delicate circuits inside           inside it, which may damage the electronic circuit boards.
the phone. Use a wrist strap or a belt clip. Covering your                     ■ Never attempt to open the phone yourself, as non-
phone (and possibly making it look less attractive) is a                       expert handling of the device may damage it.
more prudent choice than damaging it by dropping it.                           ■ If you wish to clean your cell phones, do not use harsh
■ Switch the device off if it’s not going to be used for a                     chemicals, cleaning solvents, or strong detergents to clean
long period of time. If you do not tend to use your                            it. Just take a soft moistened cloth to wipe of the dirt.
mobile phone for a long time, then remove the battery                          ■ A new battery usually lasts for two years provided you
and put in a dry and a cool place.                                             use it in the right way. Never recharge a battery unneces-
■ Keep the device away from moisture and liquids. Avoid                        sarily, this in effect reduces the charge cycle. Always make
taking the phone into areas like kitchens or washrooms.                        sure you use the specified charger, else even this will affect
Avoid storing or using it in dusty, dirty areas as its mov-                    the battery performance.
ing parts can be damaged.                                                      ■ In a country such as India, where temperature and
■ While charging the device, do not pull the adapter                                humidity levels are high your phone may stop function-
cord out from the device until the main electricity supply                           ing in extreme cases. If this happens do not try to open
is switched off.                                                                    the phone yourself instead give to the authorised service
■ Switch off the phone before removing the battery or                          centre and they will do the needful.
changing your SIM card.
■ Use only approved accessories and batteries. Do not connect          Health and Safety Tips
incompatible products. Always use the rated and factory specified      ■ Never use your phone while driving. It may not be a punishable
accessories for your phone. If, for example, you use a higher          offence in many states, but you could cause an accident.
power rating for charging your phone, it could get charged faster      ■ As an alternative, you could use one of the many hands-free
but will lower the life of the battery or even damage the phone.       accessories available today, but be aware that using these while
■ Ensure you keep your mobile and its accessories out of the reach     driving could also be an offence.

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■ Avoid taking a call while crossing the road, as your attention
could be diverted, and you may stray into the path of oncoming
traffic—stand on the pavement if you receive a call.
■ Always buy a cell phone that’s SAR-approved. This ensures that
the radiations emitted are minimal.

The Future of the
Cell Phones
F   ive years ago, mobile phones were only for the wealthy,
    who could afford their fat price tags. However, now there
seem to be more mobile phones than households in metro
cities of India, and the numbers are growing. We have already
approached the time when it will be considered unusual
not to have a mobile phone. Projections suggest that the
majority of voice calls will be mobile-to-mobile in the near
future, due to low tariffs. Fixed lines will mostly be used for
data connections.
     All this depends, of course on pricing. GPRS is booming
on various service providers, and the cost of calling a mobile
phone from a fixed phone is becoming expensive. SMS text
messaging—and now MMS—have become the communication
                      medium of choice for many in their teens
                          and twenties, despite the relatively
                          high cost. In fact, this is the only real-
                          ly new form of communication to have
                          emerged in decades.
                              Mobile phones are evolving fast.
                          Today’s latest handset model is new for
                          just a few weeks, and obsolete in a few
                           months. And network technologies are
                           moving just as fast.
                               We can soon see ‘third generation’
                           (3G) frequency networks that will
                           offer much faster data access and more
                           capacity. It’s likely that this trend will
                           displace many fixed-line phones.
                           However, the huge price paid for the
                           licenses suggests that these facilities
                          won’t come cheap.
                            Another interesting thing that one
                     might see soon in the mobile phone market
                 is disposable cell phones. Randi Altschul from
New Jersey will soon provide the world with her unique con-
cept of disposable cell phones. The phone will be extremely
small (about the thickness of three credit cards) and extreme-
ly lightweight. Better still is the price; the phones are expect-
ed to sell for under $20, which will include 60 prepaid minutes
of calling time.
     This Phone Card Phone can make outgoing calls only;
the consumer will be able to add phone minutes with their
credit or debit cards until the non-replaceable battery dies.
A large part of this phone will be made out of paper products
that can be colourfully printed with images and advertise-
ments, which would make them great give-away items for
company promotions.

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                                            hotographs are not just bits of paper;          all their life and who had never heard of terms
                                            they’re priceless memories. But prints          such as macro-mode or sepia, now talk in a lan-
                                            fade with time. Now you could convert           guage that makes even professionals look up and
                                      your images to digital format by scanning             take notice. That’s largely due to the prolifera-
                                      them, and store them on your PC. This is one          tion of digital cameras and the features that
                                      method of storing images, still widely used.          come with them.
                                          Digital cameras, on the other hand, capture            The charge coupled device or CCD, which
                                      information and transfer data in digital formats      replaces the film in a digital camera, has also
                                      such as JPEG, TIFF and so on. It took a while for     witnessed tremendous refinement. From a VGA
                                      digital cameras to gain mass acceptance though,       camera, to 5.0 effective megapixels packed in the
                                      because of their high cost—and the fact that you      same device is a huge leap. LCD screens used in
                                      needed a computer to transfer the data.               such cameras have changed too—from dark
                                          As PC penetration increased, so did the           screens that needed to be held in front of the
                                      usage of such devices as digital cameras. This        eye to the vividly colourful, crystal-clear LCD
                                      has motivated manufacturers to bring out bet-         screens of today. Lack of storage space used to be
                                      ter digital cameras loaded with the best fea-         an issue, because early digital cameras couldn’t
                                      tures. Indeed, these cameras have improved            store many images, but now memory expansion
                                      tremendously in past two years. The resolution        slots let users add memory at will.
                                      has skyrocketed, the feature list now includes             Another major boost is now coming from
                                      high-end, professional features such as               printer manufacturers, who are designing their
                                      1/10,000 shutter speed, white balance modes           printers to either directly read the removable
                                      and 10X optical zoom for landscape and out-           memory storage and print, or plug the camera
                                      door photography.                                     directly for photo printing. This bypasses the
                                          People who used point-and-shoot cameras           computer completely.
                                                                                                 With a further drop in prices, digital cam-
                                                                                            eras are going to be as common as the televi-
 Tricks to be a Sharp Shooter                                                               sion in the not-so-distant future. Even now,
 ■  Brace yourself and avoid excessive hand movement to get those sharp photos.             there are hundreds of thousands of digital cam-
 The camera needs to be stable to get a good focus, and adjust the white balance            eras around us, and this number can only
 and meterering.                                                                            increase as better technology arrives, along
 ■ Use the flash wisely. In bright sunlight, where parts of your subject might be           with more affordable prices.
 darker, use ‘flash fill’ to brighten up the darker areas for a balanced photo.
 ■ Flashes only have a range of up to 10 to 12 feet so don’t bother using it for            Market overview
 objects farther than this. Use red-eye reduction to get rid of the monster-glow eyes.      So far, there was no proper channel in the mar-
 ■ The overall tone of a photo looks different in certain kinds of lighting. Experiment     ket to buy digital cameras from. Buying cameras
 with the white balance and if you want more natural colours, manually set the              from the grey market was a risky proposition
 white balance to match the scene before you shoot.                                         because they cost only marginally less and came
 ■ For portrait shots, avoid a crowded background, as this tends to take away the           with no guarantee. But now most companies—
 attention from the subject. Either move to a more neutral background or adjust the         such as Canon and Sony—have a presence, and
 f-stop to the widest setting possible so that the background is as out of focus as         offer ample after-sales support and service.
 possible—this creates clarity for the main subject.                                             Keeping pace with technology, the digital
 ■ Use the Flash-fill mode, especially when shooting portraits as this eliminates harsh     camera has also moved up the ladder, at the
 shadows on the subject. Avoid such shots at high-noon as this creates very harsh           same time witnessed a drop in price. Now a reg-
 shadows.                                                                                   ular 2 megapixel camera can be bought for as
 ■ Flash reflectors are great for filling out harsh shadows. You can use a simple car       little as Rs 15,000 to 18,000. And a 5.0 megapix-
 window reflector as a flash reflector or even a large white board. Reflect light on        el camera with 3X optical zoom can be yours
 the subject’s face to eliminate shadows and you will have great portraits.                 for Rs 50,000.
 ■ If you are going to use your digital camera for outdoor shoots, use a neck strap as           There are also cheap alternatives such as the
 this is a very delicate device and you may drop it accidentally, resulting in              BenQ 1300, which captures images at 1.3
 considerable damage.                                                                       megapixel, and costs around Rs 10,000. Other
 ■ Always keep in mind while taking a snap that you should not focus on very bright,        players such as Creative and Logitech have
 or very dark areas. Instead, keep the focus on neutral areas where lighting conditions     something to offer too, if you’re looking at VGA
 are not extreme.                                                                           (640 x 480) cameras. These offer basic features
 ■ If you are shooting, say, a building with the bright sky in the background, keep rest    such as macro mode and shutter mode, and also
 of the settings such as the white balance to auto and increase exposure by one point.      let you record small movie clips.
 In the image the building will retain all the details but the sky will look less bright.        Vendors that traditionally manufactured
 ■ While taking close-up photographs, always turn on the macro mode. This is the            film-based cameras, such as Kodak, Nikon and
 minimum range at which the camera can take a photograph of the target.                     Olympus, now have a complete range of digi-
                                                                                            tal cameras on offer.

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 Also Remember…
■ Memory upgrades are
                                                                  Trigger Happy
available in the form of a

Compact Flash card, Smart               s little as two years ago, anyone buying
Media or Sony's memory                  a digital camera would have had to put
stick. Some cameras don't               down as much as Rs 50,000 for a VGA
allow upgrading, which is a     camera with just 2 or 4 MB of storage space.
severe limitation.              These early models were very inefficient in
                                power usage. Other features such as zooming,
■ Optical zooming is all that   which are common in regular cameras, were
counts; Don’t take the elec-
                                also missing. However, in the current market,
tronic zoom function too
                                most mainstream cameras give you mega-pixel
                                resolution (more than 1 million pixels), better
■ Floppies for storage aren’t   battery life and even optical zoom lenses, all
a great idea because they       for as little as Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000.               responds to about
tend to be very unreliable,                                                            1,600 pixels x 1,200 pixels.
not to mention the limited      Technology Insight                                     Memory: Since cameras come with limited
capacity.                       Digital cameras use either a CCD or CMOS sen-          built-in memory (between 8 to 16 MB), this
                                sor, which captures light and converts it into         becomes a limitation when you are taking pho-
■ Look for features such as     an electrical charge to capture an image. CCD          tos at higher resolution settings. At a resolu-
printing directly from the
                                sensors lead to higher quality images. The size        tion of 1,600 x 1,200, you’d be able to store
camera through a special
                                of a CCD sensor is approximately 4.4 mm x 6.6          just a few images in the TIFF format.
cable, taking sepia photo-
graphs, setting the shutter     mm as against the 24 mm x 36 mm size of the            Interface: Connection to the computer is
speed, selecting macro          regular film.                                          through USB or parallel port. The USB inter-
modes, auto focus, etc.                                                                face is preferable due to greater convenience
Some cameras even let you       Jargon Buster                                          and higher data rates.
capture short video clips.      Resolution: This is often expressed in                 Power: You will need a set of rechargeable
                                megapixels. For example, 2.1 megapixels cor-           batteries because the consumption tends
                                                                                       to be high, especially when you are using
                                                                                       the LCD viewfinder. Some manufacturers
                                                                                       ship their cameras with power adapters, which
                                                                                       is pretty useful when you are shooting indoors.
                                                                                        Separate monochrome display: It makes
                                                                                       sense to have a separate monochrome display
                                                                                       for camera status when you are trying to
                                                                                       conserve battery life by switching off the
                                                                                       LCD screen.
                                                                                       Viewfinder: Some cameras have a regular
                                                                                       viewfinder in addition to the small LCD
                                                                                       screen that also serves the purpose of
                                                                                       power saving.

                                                                          Decision Maker
                                               Casual user                  Photography enthusiast Professional
                                You need       To be able to take photos    High-quality images with     Very high quality photographs
                                               to compile personal          plenty of configurability    with all the knobs and switch-
                                               albums or publish to the                                  es, plus expandability
                                Look for       Between 640 x 480 and        1,280 x 1,024 resolution     2,048 x 2,048 or higher with
                                               1,024 x 768 resolution       with at least 2X optical     special lens options and a
                                               and 2 MB memory;             zoom and 8 MB storage        minimum 16 MB memory
                                               maybe one that doubles
                                               as a Web cam
                                Our pick       Logitech Click Smart 510     Fuji FinePix 2,800 Zoom,     Olympus C-5050ZOOM
                                                                            Nikon COOLPIX 775
                                Price range    Around Rs 10,000             Up to Rs 30,000              Up to Rs 60,000

         152                                                                                                               JUNE 2003
test drive ■
                                                  ■   hardware unlimited

Power Tips
■ Almost all digital cameras come with an automatic adjustable zoom          photographs 1,024 x 768 is the ideal resolution.
lens, which you can also adjust manually. If you have kept it to auto,       ■ Always remove the batteries if you are not going to
press the shutter button halfway, then press it completely to take the       use the camera for a while, because batteries can leak
picture. This will adjust the focus of the lens, and give you sharp          and damage the camera.
focused results.                                                             ■ When on the road, remember to carry many sets of batteries or
■ To allow your LCD screen to consume less power, always keep the            invest in rechargeable ones—digital cameras have a way of chewing
powersave mode on. Almost all cameras have an LCD-off option,                through batteries and you wouldn’t want to miss a great photo
which can be used to save power.                                             opportunity.
■ If the camera comes with a power adapter, keep it connected
to the device while transferring images to a PC, especially a
camera with the RS-232 (serial) connection which has very slow
                       transfer rate.
                                                                               Digital camera vs Web camera
                                  ■ While choosing a camera don’t only         ■ Web cams usually don’t feature resolutions over 640 x 480 if
                                             go for the features; but also     you use them for taking snaps, whereas digital cameras can
                                                 look for its ergonomics.      easily provide a resolution of 1280 x 960 pixels.
                                                 While taking snaps, see       ■ A Web cam cannot take pictures when not connected to a PC
                                                 that the button is within     since it draws power from the interface cable. Digital cameras, on
                                                 reach of your fingers,        the other hand, have their own power source and are capable of
                                                 and that your fingers do      taking photographs—and even recording small video clips.
                                                 not come in the way of        ■ Some high-end cameras come with a built-in microphone to
                                                 the lens or flash.            record audio while recording the video clip, whereas Web
                                                 ■ Never keep the              cams need a microphone connected to the PC separately to
                                                 resolution to the             record audio.
                                                 maximum, if you are           ■ Digital cameras have adjustable focal length, which is not the
                                                only going to view it on       case with Web cams.
                                          the PC screen. For such
    Under the bonnet of a Digital Cameras

                                            154                                                                                        JUNE 2003
                           The Future of the Digital Camera
        few years ago, digital cameras were costly and rare          more flexible in this regard and hence
        gadgets. They had CMOS sensors that were almost as           produces better results. But a new technology
        costly as a lens, and were capable of clicking images at     from Fuji promises to eliminate this problem. This
not more 640 x 480 pixels. But in the last 2 to 3 years, the         is achieved by putting in one more low-sensitivity sensor to
technology has advanced immensely. From a meagre                     each pixel, to deal with the change in exposure levels.
8 MB storage, some cameras now boast as much                                    Today, USB and FireWire are the interfaces of choice
as 64 MB memory. Almost all of them support                                                   for most digital cameras. But as devices
external memory cards, and can be                                                                   from laptops to PDAs, and even
plugged directly into a compatible photo                                                              cell phones embrace wireless
printer that will print you photographs of                                                            connectivity to ‘talk’ with the PC
excellent quality.                                                                                    and other mobile devices, the
     Earlier digital cameras lacked good                                                             digital camera will surely follow
image quality. This issue was resolved by                                                           suit. Some gadgets such as the
replacing the CMOS with a CCD                                                                     Casio wrist camera already have an
(charge coupled device). The CCD                                                                 IR port. And cell phones that have a
allows cameras to capture images                                                                 camera also come with an IR port to
at 10 megapixels. Cameras today                                                                 let users download pictures wirelessly
are equipped with 10X zoom lens                                                                 to their PC.
and can take even external SLR                                                                     Digital cameras of the future won’t
(Single Lens Reflex) lenses to                                                            simply be more feature-rich, they will also
make things better for professional                                                  offer better photo quality and function in a
users. In fact, newer digital cameras                                  variety of weather and lighting conditions.
have all the features a professional
would require.
     The best part is that manufacturers can include as many
feature as they wish because of the hardware and software
combination. The normal 2 to 3 megapixel cameras have white
balance settings, macro mode, red-eye reduction, video-clip
recording, and 2X to 3X optical and up to 6X digital zoom.
These features help even novices to capture brilliant images.
     The wide acceptance of digital cameras and the ready
availability of software to modify captured images have
prompted newer operating systems such as Windows XP to
bundle built-in driver support, making the devices virtually
     There are a few features found only in high-end cameras,
which will surely be implemented in entry-level cameras soon.
This includes TruePic technology from Olympus, which uses all
the pixels even at lower resolutions. The software or algorithm
has been written to enlarge the image even when it is in RAW
                                                                                  1/4th Page AD
format on the camera, to get a higher interpolated resolution
than what’s available with current cameras. This will reduce the
artifacting that occurs while enlarging photos using image-
editing software.
     Future cameras will also have the lenses specifically
designed to suit digital cameras. This is necessary because as the
CCD count goes up, the density increases manifold. Even
cameras equipped with the best CCD might not produce a great
image if the lenses do not let the CCD see through it precisely
when zooming in or out.
     CCDs used in digital cameras have one very visible
shortcoming as compared to film. Because of the way they
function, CCDs cannot respond to the dynamic range—the
range of light and dark values that can be recorded. Since CCDs
are linear devices, the limit within which they can respond to
the dynamic range is predefined: once they are fully charged
they will not respond to any incremental exposure. Film is

          155                                                                                                                JUNE 2003
test drive ■
                  ■   a-list

                  A-List Reviews
                 A listing of the best products in different hardware and software categories

      very Digit reader must surely be aware of the various com-      merit as per the money you pay for it. The ‘A’ listed products are
      parison tests we do at our Digital Test and Research Centre.    those which are truly the best among the best. What we are giv-
      The comparison includes various products from all cate-         ing here are products, that you can safely bet on. When you buy
gories. They range from motherboards to keyboards, and other          one such product you can be absolutely sure that it will perform
cool gadgets such as digital cameras and MP3 players. We grade        up to the mark you expect. Read on to find out more about the
these products based on their performance, features and their         product you have been hunting for all this time.

                                                                                                            Mercury KOB650GL NDSMx     B+
                            C P U                                     board features onboard
                                                                      graphics but does not leave          Build quality
Intel Pentium 4 3.06 GHz                                              out the AGP 4X port either.          Value for money
                                                                      Overall, its low price makes         Features

H   yperThreading     finally
    becomes a reality for the
desktop PC with Intel’s Pen-
                                    This is as fast as you can get!

                                     Pentium IV 3.06 GHz        B+
                                                                      it a great buy.                      OVERALL

                                                                      Specifications: SiS650 chipset, DDR and SDRAM support, onboard
tium 4 3.06 GHz processor,                                            sound, onboard Ethernet, 4X AGP, 2 PCI slots, native USB 2.0 support
              which truly                                             Price: Rs 3,300 Contact: Kobian India Ltd Phone: 080-5566626
                                     Build quality                    E-mail: rohit@kobian.com Web site: www.kobian.com
              impresses              Value for money
              with its per-          Features
              formance.              OVERALL                          MSI 845PE Max2
Specifications: 3.06 GHz clock speed, 512 KB on chip cache, North-
wood (0.13 micron)
Price: Rs 37,000 Contact: Nebula Technologies
                                                                      T   his motherboard features
                                                                          a DDR 333 solution based
                                                                      on Intel’s latest 845PE chipset,
                                                                                                            MSI 845PE Max2             B+
Phone: 044-22323715 Email: pratik@nebulatech.com                                                            Performance
                                                                      which supports Intel’s Hyper-         Build quality
Web site: www.intel.com
                                                                      Threading technology. It’s a          Value for money
                                                                      nice little board that provides       Features
                                                                      great features and good               OVERALL
AMD XP 1700+                                                          speeds to boot.

T   he AMD Athlon XP 1700+
    takes the crown for the
best value processor. As far
                                      AMD XP 1700+               B-   Specifications: 845 PE chipset with HyperThreading technology, DDR
                                                                      333 support, onboard AC’97 5.1 channel support, IEEE 1394, Gigabit
as performance goes, this            Build quality                    Ethernet, Promise RAID controller, 4X AGP, 6 PCI slots, 1 CNR slot,
one delivers on all fronts. It       Value for money                  USB 2.0 module
                                     Features                         Price: Rs 9,000 Contact: Priya Ltd Phone: 022-22663611
was able to beat all its com-                                         E-mail: salesbom@priyagroup.com Web site: www.priyagroup.com
petitors with its price to           OVERALL
performance ratio.
                                                                      MSI KT4 Ultra
Specifications: 256 KB L2 cache, 133 MHz FSB, Thoroughbred core
Price: Rs 4,250 Contact: AMD Far East Ltd Phone: 011-26238620
E-mail: amd@surfgold.com Web site: www.amd.com
                                                                      T   his latest motherboard
                                                                          from MSI is built around
                                                                      the KT400 chipset for the             MSI KT4 Ultra              B+
                MOTHERBOARD                                           fastest AMD processors. The          Performance
                                                                      Athlon XP, when paired with          Build quality
Mercury KOB650GL NDSMx                                                this motherboard, zooms              Value for money
                                                                      past the Pentium 4 2.8 GHz.          Features

A   s far as the Best Value
    motherboard goes,
this product wins
                                       running office applica-
                                            tion. One of the fea-
                                                  tures you may
                                                                      It’s recommended for per-
                                                                      formance enthusiasts.

hands down;                                             f i n d       Specifications: KT400 Northbidge, VT8235 Southbridge, Bus Speed:
it is an out-                                          handy is       200/266MHz, Memory Support 3 184-pin DDR SDRAMs (Up to 3GB),
                                                                      6- PCI bus slots (support 3.3v/5v PCI bus interface), 6 USB 2.0 ports
standing buy even                                 that it supports
                                                                      (4 Rear/ 2 Front), Serial ATA Interface (Optional)
for hardcore gamers.                         both DDR and SDR         Price: Rs 7,850 Contact: Priya Ltd Phone: 022-22663611
The board is also good for               memory standards. The        E-Mail: salesbom@priyagroup.com Web site: www.msi.com.tw

          158                                                                                                                  JUNE 2003

T  his board is a good buy
   for the office, where Word,
Excel and PowerPoint are used
                                    With a price tag of just Rs
                                    5,000, it is essentially, a low-
                                    cost and feature-rich mother-
far more frequently than            board for the AMD platform.
                         tions.       ASUS A7S266                B+
                        T h e
                   perform-          Build quality
             ance is decent;         Value for money
        gaming tests prove           Features
that you can run Quake III           OVERALL
Arena at a playable frame rate.

Specifications: SiS 740 chipset supporting up to Athlon XP 2600+,
DDR and SDRAM support up to 2 GB, onboard sound, onboard LAN,
4X onboard video, 4 PCI slots, USB 2.0
Price: Rs 3,950 Contact: Neoteric Infomatique
Phone: 022-24172600 E-mail: sales@neoteric-info.com
Web site: www.asus.com

                        D I S P L AY
Samsung SyncMaster 171MP

T  his one is a masterpiece.
   Unfortunately, if gaming is
what gets you going, this one’s
                                    not for you. It’s capable of dis-
                                    playing images at 1,280 x
                                    1,024 pixels. This LCD moni-
                                                                         1/2 pg V AD
                                    tor is also able to deliver clear
                                    and sharp images, thanks to its
                                    0.26 x 0.26 mm pixel size. It
                                    has built-in speakers, which
                                    deliver passable sound quality.
                                    Overall, this LCD combines
                                    good looks with performance.

                                     Samsung SyncMaster              A
                                     Build quality
                                     Value for money

Specifications: 1,280 x 1,024 at 75 Hz pixel resolution, 250 cd/m2
luminance, 0.26H x 0.26 V pixel size, 8.5 Kg
Price: Rs 75,000 Contact: Samsung Electronics
Phone: 011-51511234 E-mail: marketing@samsungindia.com
Web site: www.samsungindia.com

Philips 150MT
T  he Philips 150MT is a slim
   LCD monitor sporting a
two-tone colour scheme. The
                                    The 150MT provides an array
                                    of ports for connecting a DVD
                                    player, a video CD player and
monitor has built-in speakers       a VCR. It also has a TV coaxi-
that save space, but thier          al-in port and includes a PiP
quality is, at best, average.       feature. It ensures sharp and

         159                                                                           JUNE 2003
test drive ■
                     ■   a-list

clear images, making movie-            Philips 150MT               A-    formance front too, the print-       Canon S530D                  A
watching a joy. Since this            Performance                        er certainly delivers. If you’re     Performance
LCD monitor has a native              Build quality                      looking for an inkjet printer        Build quality
support of 1,280 x 1,024 pixel        Value for money                    that’s the best in terms of per-     Value for money
resolution, professionals will        Features                           formance and features, look          Features
find it worth the price.              OVERALL                            no further.                          OVERALL

Specifications: 1,024x768 @ 75 Hz pixel resolution, 250 cd/m2 lumi-      Specifications: USB interface,2,400 x 1,200 dpi (colour)
nance, 0.3 H x 0.3 pixel size, 5.8 Kg                                    Price: Rs 24,995 Contact: Canon India Ltd Phone: 011-26806572
Price Rs 49,999 Contact: Philips India Ltd Phone: 022-56912353           E-mail: brijesh@canon.co.in Web site: www.canon.co.in
E-mail: sanjay.maheshwari@philips.com Web site: www.philips.com

                                                                         HP 3325
Canon LBP 1120                                                           T   he HP 3325 is a cute
                                                                             printer targeted specifi-
                                                                         cally at home users. Despite
                                                                                                             other high-end printers a run
                                                                                                             for their money. We consider
                                                                                                             the HP 3325 the best value
                                                                         its minimalist features, the        printer available in the

T   he LBP 1120 is an entry-
    level printer from Canon
that offers the best in its class.
                                     speeds—and at a very decent
                                                                                    gives                    market.

                                                                                                              HP 3325                     B+
This good-looking printer             Canon LBP 1120               B+                                         Performance
offers many features. The                                                                                     Build quality
printer exhibited superb per-                                                                                 Value for money
                                       Build quality
formance when it comes to              Value for money
printing both text and images.         Features                                                               OVERALL
The Canon LBP1120 offers               OVERALL
superior print quality at good
                                                                         Specifications: USB interface,1,200 x1,200 dpi
                                                                         Price: Rs 2,999 Contact: HP India Ltd Phone: 011-26826000
Specifications: USB and Parallel interfaces, 1200 dpi, 512 KB buffer     E-mail: ashwini-k_agarwal@hp.com Web site: www.hpindia.com
memory, 250-sheet paper tray
Price: Rs 16,995 Contact: Canon India Ltd Phone: 011-26806572
E-mail: brijesh@canon.co.in Web site: www.canon.co.in
                                                                         HP Photosmart 130
Wipro Laser 1540
                                                                         T   his neat-looking printer
                                                                             is a specialised photo
                                                                                                             ance it delivers.

                                                                                                              HP Photosmart 130            B
T   he Laser 1540 from the
    Wipro stable is the cheap-
est laser printer around. The
                                     speeds, at an attractive price.

                                      Wipro Laser 1540             A
                                                                         printer, loaded with features.
                                                                         One cannot make out
                                                                         whether the photo was
                                                                                                              Build quality
                                                                                                              Value for money
printer gave some acceptable          Performance                        developed in a store or taken        Features
results in our print quality          Build quality                      from a photo printer. Its
tests. It deserves the Best           Value for money                    price is worth the perform-
Value award for its good              Features
print quality at decent               OVERALL                            Specifications: USB interface, 4,800x1,200 dpi
                                                                         Price: Rs 8,500 Contact: HP India Ltd Phone: 011-26826000
                                                                         E-mail: barkha.deva@hp.com Web site: www.hpindia.com
Specifications: USB and Parallel interfaces, 1,200 dpi, 250-sheet
paper tray
Price: Rs 13,750 Contact: Wipro PeripheralsPhone: 022-26397418
E-mail: helpdesk.mumbai@wipindia.com, Web site: www.wipindia.com
                                                                         HP Scanjet 4570c
Canon S530D

T   he Canon S530D is one of
    the most feature-rich
                                                        card reader
                                                         that allows
                                                                         I f quality is all-important
                                                                           to you, the HP 4570c will
                                                                         meet your requirements
inkjet photo printers                                   you to insert    hands down. With a resolu-
around.                                               the compact        tion of 2400 dpi and a 48-
    The printer                                        flash on any      bit colour depth, this sleek
comes with a USB                                         digital cam-    scanner brings eyepleasing                                extends
2.0 interface for                                        era and take    images to your monitor. It                            its usability
faster    data                                           direct print-   also has a connector for a                       to other media
transfer and a                                         outs of pho-      transparency adapter, which         types. The price of Rs 17,999
compact flash                                        tos. On the per-    makes it multifunctional and        makes it out of reach of most

           160                                                                                                                       JUNE 2003
home users, but its build              HP Scanjet 4570c             A              SECONDARY STORAGE
quality and performance                Features
are excellent, making it a             Build quality
perfect tool for those that            Ergonomics                          Iomega CDRW55296INT-B
                                       Value for money
can afford it.
                                       OVERALL                             I omega’s CD-Writer includes
                                                                             a 2MB buffer, and SMART-
                                                                           BURN technology to ensure
                                                                                                                 Iomega CDRW55296INT-B          A-
Specifications: 1,200x1,200 optical resolution, USB interface, 48-bit      there are no errors during the        Build quality
colour depth                                                               write process. It’s rather            Value for money
Price: Rs 17,999, Contact: Hewlett Packard India Ltd,                      expensive at Rs. 6,500, but           Features
Phone: 011-6826000, E-mail: ashwini-k_aggarwal@hp.com,
                                                                           delivers where it comes to per-       OVERALL
Web site: www.hpindia.com
UMAX Astra 2500                                                            Specifications: 48X (write), 24X (rewrite), 48X (read), 2 MB buffer
                                       UMAX Astra 2500              B
T   he UMAX Astra 2500 is a
    workhorse. It’s a very
affordable and no-nonsense
                                       Build quality
                                                                           Price: Rs 6,500, Contact: Neoteric Informatique, Phone: 022- 24172600,
                                                                           E-mail: salesbom@neoteric-info.com,
                                                                           Web site: www.neoteric-info.com
solution for simple day-to-day
                                       Value for money
scanning, and is a worthwhile
                                       OVERALL                             LG 8320B
Specifications: 600x1,200 dpi optical resolution , USB interface,48-
bit colour depth
                                                                           T   he LG 8320B is not only
                                                                               affordable but also feature
                                                                           rich, with a decent perform-
                                                                                                                for an combination that is
                                                                                                                easy on price and high on per-
                                                                                                                formance, go for this drive.
Price: Rs 3,950, Contact: Neoteric, Phone: 022-24172600,
                                                                           ance to boot. If you’re looking
Email: sales@neoteric-info.com, Web site: www.neoteric-info.com
                                                                                                                 LG8320B                        A+
           PRIMARY STORAGE                                                                                       Build quality
                                                                                                                 Value for money
Samsung SP2001H                                                                                                  Features

T   hough the Samsung
    SP2001H offers only
20GB space, it makes a great
                                       Samsung SP2001H

                                                                           Specifications: 32X (write), 10X (rewrite), 40X (read),8 MB buffer
                                       Build quality
buy if you require a speedy                                                memory
                                       Value for money
                                                                           Price: Rs 3,400, Contact: LG Electronics, Phone: 0120-2560900,
drive and do not require               Features                            E-mail: response@lgezbuy.com, Web site: www.lge.com
too much hard disk space.              OVERALL

Specifications: 20 GB storage capacity, 7,200 rpm
                                                                           BenQ DVP-1648A
Price: Rs 3,550, Contact: Samsung Electronics India Information
Telecommunication India Pvt. Ltd, Phone: 011-51511234,
E-mail: marketing@samsungindia.com,
                                                                           T    he BenQ DVP-1648A
                                                                                DVD-ROM drive gives the
                                                                           best results across the board.
                                                                                                                 BenQ DVP-1648A


Web site: www.samsungindia.com                                                                                   Build quality
                                                                           Its transfer rate is quite good.      Value for money
                                                                           The best part is its competitive      Features
Maxtor D540X-4K080H4                                                       price, which will force rivals        OVERALL
                                                                           to rethink their pricing policy.

T   his mammoth drive has
    a capacity of 80 GB and
its competitive price makes
                                      it ideal for those who are look-
                                      ing for oodles of affordable
                                      storage space.
                                                                           Specifications: 16X (read for DVD), 48X (read), 512 KB buffer memo-
                                                                           Price: Rs 2,995, Contact: BenQ, Phone: 022-25705230,
                                                                           E-mail: elwinarevello@benq.com, Web site: www.benq.com
                                       Samsung SP2001H                 B
                                       Build quality
                                       Value for money
                                                                           LITEON LTD165H
                                       OVERALL                             L   ITEON’s LTD165H DVD-
                                                                               ROM comes at a price that
                                                                                                                will be a sure attraction for
                                                                                                                many. The price matches sim-
                                                                                                                ilar to that of CD Writers. It
                                                                                                                also serves as an excellent sub-
Specifications: 80 GB storage space, 5,400 rpm                                                                  stitute for a CD-ROM drive,
Price: Rs 6,150, Contact: Cyberstar, Phone: 011-26438216,                                                       thanks to its fast data transfer
E-mail: sushilb@cyberstarin.net, Web site: www.maxtor.com
                                                                                                                rate. The drive has 512 KB

         161                                                                                                                         JUNE 2003
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                   ■   a-list

cache and comes bundled              LITEON LTD165H                  A    Iomega CD-RW 48x24x48x
with Power DVD 4.0 DVD
                                     Performance                          (External USB 2.0)
playback software. This drive        Build quality
offers a good blend of per-
formance, features and price.
It is also the cheapest drive
                                     Value for money
                                     Features                             F  ed up with slow, bulky
                                                                             external burners? The
                                                                          black beauty from Iomega

                                                                                                                 Iomega CD-RW 48x24x48x         B+
available.                                                                gives you enough reason                (External USB 2.0)
                                                                          to smile. This product is a            Performance
Specifications: 16X (read for DVD), 48X (read for CD-ROM) , 512 KB                                               Build quality
                                                                          good buy for those on the
buffer memory                                                                                                    Value for money
                                                                          move. Blazing-fast writing
Price: Rs 2,550 Contact: Media Tech Phone: 022-56396696                                                          Features
E-mail: sales@mediatechindia.com Web site: www.liteon.com                 and rewriting speeds make
                                                                          this drive a total paisa-vasool

FREECOM FHD-1 20 GB                                                       Specifications: External, USB 2.0 interface, 48X (write), 48X (read),
                                                                          24X (rewrite)
   drive manages to outrun
every other contender in
                                     FREECOM FHD-1 20GB              A
                                                                          Price: Rs 9,900 Contact: Neoteric Phone: 022-24172600
                                                                          E-mail: sales@neoteric-info.com Web site: www.iomega.com
terms of pure performance. If
                                     Build quality
you require a sleek drive            Value for money                                      INPUT DEVICES
that is USB 2.0 ready and            Features
does not cost a packet, go           OVERALL
for this one!                                                             Microsoft Multimedia Keyboard
Specifications: USB 2.0 interface, 20 GB storage capacity.
Price: Rs 15,500 Contact: JS Equipment Phone: 022-23810713
E-mail: jse@vsnl.com Web site: www.freecom.com
                                                                          M     icrosoft’s Multimedia
                                                                                keyboard is a sheer
                                                                          delight to use. The keys are
                                                                                                                smooth, and the feel is
                                                                                                                fantastic. It's definitely a

                                                                                                                 Microsoft Multimedia           B+
Iomega HDD 20GB Portable                                                                                         Keyboard
Hard Drive                                                                                                       Features
                                                                                                                 Build quality
T   he Iomega 20GB Portable
    Hard Drive weighs only
400 grams and is ideal
                                    makes it a clear winner.
                                                                                                                 Value for money
for those who travel a lot.          Iomega HDD 20GB Portable        A
Costing about 60 paise
per MB, the drive offers                                                  Specifications: 16 hotkeys, PS/2 interface, wrist support
                                     Build quality                        Price: Rs 1,606 Contact: Microsoft Corporation India Pvt Ltd Phone:
great satisfaction as far as         Value for money                      011-2629 2640 E-mail: connect@microsoft.com Web site:
value for money is concerned.        Features
The manufacturers provide a          OVERALL
one-year replacement warran-                                              Samsung PC Keyboard
ty and its attractive price

Specifications: USB 2.0 interface, 4,200 rpm, 20 GB storage capacity
Price: Rs 12,200 Contact: Neoteric Infomatique Phone: 022-24172600
                                                                          S  amsung has got it right
                                                                             with a sleek, great-looking
                                                                          black keyboard that provides
                                                                                                                 Samsung PC Keyboard            B+
E-mail: salesbom@neoteric-info.com Web site: www.iomega.com                                                      Features
                                                                          good value for money. All said         Build quality
                                                                          and done, Samsung sure has             Ergonomics
                                                                          a winner on its hands with
Zoltrix Cool Disk - 128MB USB                                             this economical keyboard.
                                                                                                                 Value for money
Pen Drive
                                                                          Specifications: No hotkeys, PS/2 interface, wrist support not bundled
W     ith good performance,
      protection     against
unauthorised access and a
                                     Zoltrix Cool Disk - 128MB USB
                                     Pen Drive
                                                                          Price: Rs 300 Contact: Samsung Asia Pvt Ltd Phone: 022-2281 4886 E-
                                                                          mail: marketing@samsungindia.com
                                                                          Web site: www.samsungindia.com
very good price, this drive          Performance
hits the sweet spot. A very          Build quality
good buy if you need a               Value for money
                                                                          Microsoft Wireless IntelliMouse
solid dependable portable

Specifications: Write-protect switch, status LED, bootable
Price: Rs 5,500 Contact: Kunhar Peripherals Pvt ltd Phone: 022-
                                                                          T  his wireless mouse from
                                                                             Microsoft is a delight to
                                                                          work with. It fits perfectly
                                                                                                                shape, making long working
                                                                                                                hours easy on the hand. The
                                                                                                                twin colour—black and grey
56345758 E-mail: salesbom@kunhar.com Web site: www.zoltrix.com
                                                                          within a palm of any size and         metallic—makes it look

          162                                                                                                                           JUNE 2003
attractive. The mouse is              Microsoft Wireless           A-
                                      IntelliMouse Explorer
good for both gaming as well
as regular office sessions. In         Features
all, this optical mouse is a           Build quality
worthy upgrade from the
                                       Value for money
previous corded optical or
the cordless Infra-red mouse.

Specifications: Optical mouse, USB interface, two extra buttons, two
AAA batteries, Infra-red cordless.
Price: Rs 3,380 Contact: Microsoft Corporation India Pvt Ltd
Phone: 011-2629 2640 E-mail: connect@microsoft.com
Web site: www.microsoft.com

iball The King
T   he King is a functional
    combination of a trackball
and a traditional three-button
                                     scrolling, and the device
                                     offers a good upgrade path for
                                     those looking to move on
scroll mouse. The trackball is       from traditional scroll mice.
extremely convenient for
                                      iball The King               A-
                                      Build quality
                                      Value for money

Specifications: Optical mouse, PS/2 interface, no extra buttons
Price: Rs 950 Contact: The Best Phone: 022-26935135
E-mail: lata@bestitworld.com

Mercury Optical Scroll Mouse

T   he Optical Scroll Mouse
    from Mercury is a low-
end optical solution for those
                                      Mercury Optical
                                      Scroll Mouse
who wish to evolve from
                                      Build quality
the ball-mouse. If you’re             Ergonomics
looking for an inexpensive            Value for money
optical mouse, look no                OVERALL
further than this.

Specifications: Optical mouse, USB interface, two extra buttons Price:
Rs 550 Contact: Kobian India Ltd Phone: 080-5566626
E-mail: rohit@kobian.com Web site: www.kobian.com

Microsoft Wireless Desktop

T   his simple-looking wire-
    less multimedia keyboard
and mouse gives a complete
                                      Microsoft Wireless Desktop


                                      Build quality
cordless solution for the             Ergonomics
desktop, ideal for users              Value for money
interested in a clutter-free          OVERALL

Specifications: 10 hotkeys, PS/2 interface, package includes a palm
rest and a cordless optical mouse
Price: Rs 3,634 Contact: Microsoft Corporation India Pvt Ltd
Phone: 011-26292640 E-mail: connect@microsoft.com
Web site: www.microsoft.com

         163                                                             JUNE 2003
test drive ■
                    ■   a-list

Typhoon iTek RF@Mouse and                                                your newly bought system.            SMEDIA GeForce4 MX440         A-
Keyboard                                                                 This card can easily run most
                                                                         of the OpenGL based game             Build quality

T   he      Typhoon     iTek
    RF@Mouse and keyboard
combination works on the
                                      Typhoon iTek RF@Mouse
                                      and Keyboard
                                                                         without worrying about the
                                                                         frame rates. A decent buy for
                                                                         the price and features it
                                                                                                              Value for money
radio frequency band. The             Features                           comes along with.
unit isn’t ideal for long             Build quality
                                      Ergonomics                         Specifications: GeForce4 MX440 chipset, dual monitor out,
typing sessions. However, it’s
                                      Value for money                    S-Video TV out
a good bundle at an afford-
                                      OVERALL                            Price: Rs 4,000 Contact: Xserve India Phone: 080-5572601
able price.
                                                                         E-mail: vivek_gupta@xserves.com Web site: www.smedia.com
Specifications: 16 hotkeys, PS/2 interface, package includes
a palm rest
Price: Rs 1,950 Contact: Hitech Computers Phone: 022-24927323
                                                                         Gainward Ultra/750 8X
E-mail: bom@hitechit.com Web site: www.hitechit.com                      XP-Ti4800 SE

Microsoft SideWinder Precision 2                                         T   his Golden Sample card is
                                                                             made from the best hand-
                                                                         picked components and is
                                                                                                              Gainward Ultra/750 8X         A-
                                      Microsoft SideWinder
T   he Microsoft SideWinder
    Precision 2 is ideal for the
Indian gaming market. Its fea-
                                      Precision 2
                                                                    A-   one of the best you can buy
                                                                         in the market—if you’re look-
                                                                         ing at highest-quality gaming
                                                                                                              Build quality
                                                                                                              Value for money
tures and build quality make           Build quality                     experience and loads of fea-         OVERALL
this product a reasonably                                                tures, that is.
                                       Value for money
priced choice for the causal
                                       OVERALL                           Specifications: Ti4800 SE chipset, 128 MB DDR memory at
                                                                         550 MHz Price: Rs 16,275 Contact: Mediatech India
                                                                         Phone: 022-56396696 E-mail: sales@mediatechindia.com
 Specifications: Three-axis control, eight programmable
                                                                         Web site: www.gainward.com
 buttons, hat-switch, excellent throttle
 Price: Rs 2,160 Contact: Trifen Technologies Phone: 011-26236061
 E-mail: trifen@vsnl.com Web site: www.microsoft.com                     Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2
           GRAPHICS CARDS/
                                                                         M     usic freaks will rave
                                                                               over it, multimedia
                                                                         professionals have been
                                                                                                             brought along with it. It’s
                                                                                                             not meant for everyone—
                                                                                                             only for the select few who
Gainward Ultra/650 TV                                                    waiting for it, DJs and RJs         demand nothing but the
                                                                         will cover it. This is the kind     best. Believe us, if you can

T   his card is equipped with
    Ti4200 GPU which is
nothing but the strip down
                                     choice for those who like to
                                     play games at high settings
                                     and watch movies.
                                                                         of image that Creative’s
                                                                         new Audigy2 Platinum has
                                                                                                             afford this card, it will turn
                                                                                                             your world around!

version of Ti4600 in terms of                                                                                 Creative SoundBlaster         B+
                                                                                                              Audigy 2 Platinum
     core and memory clock.           Gainward Ultra/650 TV         A-
               It’s an excellent                                                                              Performance
                                      Performance                                                             Build quality
                                      Build quality                                                           Value for money
                                      Value for money                                                         Features

                                                                         Specifications: DVD-Audio capability (24-bit with 192 KHz in stereo
Specifications: Ti4200 chipset, 270 MHz core clock, 570 MHz mem-         and 96 KHz in 5.1), 106 dB Signal to Noise Ratio, 6.1 surround sound
ory clock, dual monitor outputs, TV out (S-Video), 350 MHz RAM-          capability, EAX Advanced HD support, WMA 9 support, FireWire port
DAC.                                                                     Price: Rs 15,500 Contact: Creative Technology Ltd
Price: Rs 10,500 Contact: Mediatech India Phone: 022-56396696            Phone: 9820357713 E-mail: rajshekhar_bhatt@ctl.creative.com
E-mail: sales@mediatechindia.com Web site: www.gainward.com              Web site: asia.creative.com

SMEDIA GeForce4 MX440                                                    Creative Vibra 128

I s eye candy less important
  to you than skip free gam-
ing? Then the SMEDIA
                                     GeForce4 MX440 graphics
                                     accelerator is a real steal, and
                                     an efficient companion for
                                                                         C   reative Vibra 128 is one of
                                                                             the best cards available
                                                                         for those who want decent
                                                                                                             sound and have a budget of
                                                                                                             under Rs 1,000. The card has
                                                                                                             an built in amplifier for the

          164                                                                                                                         JUNE 2003
test drive ■
                    ■   a-list

Line-Out port, which might            Creative Vibra 128             B+
be a boon to those with non-
                                                                          Creative Megaworks THX 5.1 550
amplified speakers. It offers
an ideal upgrade path for
those stuck with onboard
                                       Build quality
                                       Value for money
                                                                          C    reative’s latest offering,
                                                                               the Megaworks THX 5.1
                                                                          550, will rock any music
                                                                                                                music, don’t miss out on
                                                                                                                the best thing in the world
                                                                                                                of sound since—well, sound
sound or an ISA-based card.            OVERALL                            listener. These speakers are          itself!
                                                                          among the best you can buy
                                                                          for your personal computer.            Creative Megaworks           A+
                                                                                                                 THX 5.1 550
Specifications: 16-MIDI channel, 2.1 surround output, 16 bit CD-          On the flip side, there are
quality recording and playback, Mic-in, CD-Audio in, Line-out, Auxil-                                            Performance
                                                                          only analog inputs, no digital
iary in/rear out, MIDI/Joystick port                                                                             Build quality
                                                                          input This is one hell of a
Price: Rs 1,100 Contact: Creative Technology Limited                                                             Value for money
                                                                          sound system, simply superb!           Features
Phone: 9820357713 E-mail: rajshekhar_bhatt@ctl.creative.com
Web site: asia.creative.com                                               If you’ve got deep pockets,
                                                                          a large room and love

Bose MediaMate Computer                                                   Specifications: 5.1 speakers, 150 W RMS subwoofer, 5 x 70 W RMS
Speakers                                                                  satellites, Frequency range 25 Hz to 20 KHz, 99 dB SNR Accessories:
                                                                          Cable, desktop stands for satellite speakers, monitor stand for centre

B   ose, a pioneer in the man-
    ufacturing of high-quality
professional audio speakers,
                                     speakers. This speaker set is
                                     very expensive, but that’s the
                                     price you pay for the telling
                                                                          satellite speaker, wired remote control
                                                                          Price: Rs 25,500 Contact: Creative Technology Ltd
                                                                          Phone: 9820357713 E-mail: rajshekhar_bhatt@ctl.creative.com
                                                                          Web site: www.creative.com
has come up with a solution          ‘Bose’ monogram on the front.
for the perfect PC audio expe-
rience with its MediaMate             Bose MediaMate Computer        B+          HANDHELD & LAPTOPS
                                       Performance                        ACi Emerald Pro
                                       Build quality
                                       Value for money
                                                                          A   CI’s latest offering in
                                                                              India is the Emerald Pro,
                                                                          which boasts of a 2.4 GHz
                                                                                                                applications, at a very reason-
                                                                                                                able price.

                                                                          Pentium 4 processor. It may            ACi Emerald Pro              A-
Specifications: Full-range stereo speakers, two RCA inputs, stereo        not sport the style or design          Performance
headphone jack, 8.9 x 21.6 x 19.1 cm                                      of the big brands, but it’s            Build quality
Price: Rs 9,800 Contact: Bose Corporation India Pvt Ltd                   definitely a good choice for           Value for money
Phone: 022-28324537/79 E-mail: bose_store@sify.com                                                               Features
                                                                          those who require superior
Web site: www.bose.com                                                                                           OVERALL
                                                                          performance for business

Artis S880                                                                Specifications: Intel P4 2.4 GHz, 480 MB DDR SDRAM, 15.1-inch
                                                                          LCD Screen, 20 GB Hard Drive, 24X CD drive, built in

T   his     all-back
speaker features a
                                       well-defined sound. If
                                       you already have a four-
                                                   c h a n n e l
                                                                          Webcam,leather carry case, 2.8 kg weight
                                                                          Price: Rs 94,000 Contact: Allied Computer International (Asia) Pvt. Ltd
                                                                          Phone: 022-26733122 E-mail: sales@aci-asia.com
                                                                          Web site: www.aci-asia.com
black wood                                         sound card, or
finish    and                                      intend to buy
sports a very                                      one, this is a         Toshiba Protégé 3500
sophisticated                        good choice.
This speaker strikes a good
balance between price and
                                      Artis S880                     B+   T   he Toshiba Protégé 3500
                                                                              is one of the first devices
                                                                          to feature the Tablet Edition
                                                                                                                Targeted essentially at the
                                                                                                                business user on the move,
                                                                                                                the Protégé 3500 churns out a
performance. S880 system                                                  of Windows XP Professional.           decent performance. Its price
                                      Build quality
stood out for its superior                                                                                      may not be a limiting factor
                                      Value for money
sound quality in gaming, as           Features                                                                  for a mobile executive but for
well as the movie tests where                                                                                   others it is still too high.
it provided powerful and
                                                                                                                  Toshiba Protégé 3500        B+
Specifications: 10 Hz to 18 KHz frequency response, volume and bass                                              Performance
control, 31 x 10 x 23.5 mm for subwoofer and 8.5 x 9.5 x 9.5mm                                                   Build quality
for satellite                                                                                                    Value for money
Price: Rs 4,000 Contact: Kunhar Peripherals Pvt Ltd
Phone: 022-56345758 E-mail: sales@kunhar.com
Web site: www.kunhar.com                                                                                         OVERALL

          166                                                                                                                         JUNE 2003
Specifications: Pentium III 1.3 GHz mobile processor, 256 SDRAM,
40 GB hard drive, 12.1-inch TFT, 10 Base-T/100 Ethernet, integrated
modem, infrared, integrated 802.11b wireless LAN, two USB 2.0
ports, one RGB port, one Type II/Type I PC card slot, one SD card
slot and one Compact Flash Type II slot
Price: Rs 1, 99, 999, plus taxes Contact: HCL Infosystems Ltd
Phone: 0120-4544534 E-mail: notebook@hclinsys.com
Web site: www.tabletpc.toshiba.com

Tungsten T

T   he Tungsten T comes in
    corporate grey, to go with
the pinstripe suits; is tiny
                                     faster ARM-based processors
                                     and a 320 x 320 resolution.

enough for a snug fit within           Tungsten T                 B+
the palm of your hand and             Performance
inside your shirt pocket; and         Build quality
stays at the forefront of inno-       Value for money
vation, thanks to the new             Features
Palm OS 5.0, support for              OVERALL

Specifications:159 gm, 16 MB RAM, Palm OS 5.0, 320 x 320,
65,536 colours reflective TFT display, rechargeable lithium-ion poly-
mer battery, Bluetooth 1.1 compliant, dual expansion via SD/Multi-
MediaCard expansion slot, Palm Universal Connector for peripheral
attachment, Infrared port
Price: Rs 28,500 Contact: Tech Pacific Technology (India) Limited
Phone: 022-55960101 Web site: www.palm.com

              MOBILE PHONES
Sony Ericsson P800

T  he P800 is the first
   attempt from Sony Erics-
          son to break into
                                     who is always on the move
                                     and would actually make use
                                     of the variety of options
           the phone-and-            offered by this phone.
            PDA combina-
             tion   market.            Sony Ericsson P800         A-
              We     recom-           Performance
               mend      this         Build quality
                only for the          Value for money
                   business-          Features
                   class user         OVERALL

Specifications: Symbian 7.0 OS, Expandable memory, Excellent
PDA functionality, Triband, GPRS, WAP
Price: Rs 39,995 Contact: Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications
International Phone: 011-26180808 E-mail: sudhin.mathur@sonyeric-
sson.com Web site: www.sonyericsson.com

Sony Ericsson T200

A   look at the T200 will
    impress most users. This
phone is a very feature-rich
                                     enough grip so it does not
                                     slip out of your hand. The
                                     T200 scores on the feature
companion with a weight of           front too, by having a WAP
just 85 grams and decent             1.2.1 browser and GPRS capa-

         167                                                            JUNE 2003
test drive ■
                   ■   a-list

                bility    for a       Sony Ericsson T200         A     era can be used to record          card. Sadly, it has no internal
               43.2 Kbps data                                          short movies of a maximum          memory. It has excellent
              transfer rate over     Build quality                     of 30 seconds at the lowest        features and great compati-
             the Internet. It        Value for money                   resolution. The constraint is      bility with the PC. However,
            is definitely worth      Features                          the camera's limited memo-         would you pay twice the
           the cash you’ll           OVERALL                           ry—just 8 MB. The movies           amount simply for a better
          shell out for it.                                            can be viewed on a television      design, user-friendly inter-
                                                                       screen using an AV connec-         face and a few other features?
Specifications: Triband, GPRS, WAP                                     tor. The camera brings along
Price: Rs 6,495 Contact: Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications Inter-    8 MB Compact Flash (Type 1)
national Phone: 011-26180808 E-mail: sudhin.mathur@sonyerics-
son.com Web site: www.sonyericsson.com                                                                     Canon Digital IXUS 330     B+
Nokia 3650                                                                                                 Build quality
                                                                                                           Value for money

T   his new release from
    Nokia is built on the
    Symbian Operating sys-
                                    design. The buying point
                                    would be the cheaper price
                                    tag, external memory support

               tem 6.1, just        and a 16 MB bundled stick.
                 like      the
                                                                       Specifications: 2 megapixel maximum 1,600 x 1,200 resolution, 3X
                Nokia 7650.           Nokia 3650                 A-    zoom lens, 1.5-inch LCD screen, 8 MB compact flash, Canon Li-Ion
               It     includes                                         NB-L1H 840 mAh Lithium-ion battery, JPEG storage format
              some minor             Build quality                     Price: Rs 39,995 Contact: Canon India Pvt Ltd
             improvements            Value for money                   Phone: 011-2680 6572 Fax:011-26807180
            such as Triband                                            E-mail: brijesh.verma@canon.co.in Web site: www.canon.co.in
           support,        and       OVERALL
          completely a new                                             Olympus C-5050ZOOM
Specifications: 176 x 208-pixel display, Video capture and play-
back, image capture at 640 x 480, 4MB internal dynamic memory,
Bluetooth, GPRS
                                                                       T   he Olympus C-5050
                                                                           ZOOM is an upgrade from
                                                                       the C-4040 and offers better
                                                                                                          some added features. The
                                                                                                          large number of fine adjust-
                                                                                                          ments makes this an ideal
Price: Rs 23,399 Contact: Nokia India Pvt Ltd Phone: 011-26779001 E-
                                                                       resolution, a sleeker look and     camera for the semi-profes-
mail: k.sriram@nokia.com Web site: www.nokia.com
                                                                                                          sional photographer.

Sony-Ericsson T68i                                                                                         Olympus C-5050ZOOM         A-

T   his phone gives strong
       competition to high-
        end cell phones with
                                    appeal to people from all
                                    walks of life, making it a far
                                    better buy than other phones
                                                                                                           Build quality
                                                                                                           Value for money
         its features and per-      in its category.                                                       OVERALL
          formance—not to
           forget the terrific        Sony-Ericsson T68i         B
            price. The T68i
                                     Performance                       Specifications: 5 megapixels, maximum resolution 2,560 x 1,920,
            comes       loaded       Build quality                     optical viewfinder, Auto Focus, CCD sensor, 1.8-inch TFT colour
             with features that      Value for money                   LCD display, 3X optical zoom, support for RAW, JPEG, TIFF picture
             can out many a          Features                          formats
              high phones to         OVERALL                           Price: Rs 49,995 Contact: Komal International Phone: 022-22631366
               shame. It will                                          E-mail: indiaolympus@vsnl.com Web site: www.olympus.com

Specifications: GPRS, HSCSD, WAP, Bluetooth                                              M P 3 P L AY E R
Price: Rs 14,995 Contact: Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications
International Phone: 011-26180808 Email: sudhin.mathur@sonyerics-
son.com Web site: www.sonyericsson.com
                                                                       Creative DAP-CD0001

              DIGITAL CAMERA                                           T   his MP3 Player
                                                                           not    only
                                                                       looks good, but
                                                                                                                  player delivered consi-
                                                                                                                     tent performance
                                                                                                                      in the audio test,
Canon Digital IXUS 330                                                 also comes with                                which       means
                                                                       an impressive                                  everything from

C    anon’s Digital IXUS 330
     is probably the best-look-
ing digital camera. It is a com-
                                    pact beauty in a steel-alu-
                                    minium case with an excel-
                                    lent metallic finish. The cam-
                                                                       buffer to elimi-
                                                                       nate skipping. This
                                                                                                                      bass,       treble,
                                                                                                                      vocals and so on
                                                                                                                    are rendered with-

          168                                                                                                                 JUNE 2003
out any distortion. It also        Creative DAP-CD0001        A-   Creative NOMAD MuVo
comes with a power save
mode and a line-out to get
attached to external systems.
This is one gizmo you must
                                   Build quality
                                   Value for money                 Y   ou’ll really enjoy listen-
                                                                       ing to songs on this one.
                                                                   It can dish out some pretty
                                                                                                      interface to connect to the
                                                                                                      computer and battery pack.
                                                                                                      What’s more, it can detect all
pick up the next time you go       OVERALL                         high decibels. The MuVo’s          the MP3 files on the drive.
shopping.                                                          USP is that it doubles as a        Although a 64 MB storage is
                                                                   removable USB drive—a              a bit disappointing with 128
Specifications: Reads 700 MB CD-R and CD-RW, earphones,
                                                                   uncommon feature. The              MB available and 256 MB on
two AA batteries, weight 205 gm
Price: Rs 8,625 Contact: Compuage Infocom Phone: 022-23842200
                                                                   player uses the same USB           the way. Crank up the vol-
E-mail: info@compuageindia.com Web site: www.creative.com                                             ume to the fullest and you
                                                                                                      get ear-splitting sound, with
                                                                                                      hardly any distortion. Excel-
NAPA DAV316                                                                                           lent stuff, this.

I f you want a feature-rich
  MP3 player but don’t
have the required moolah, the
                                  of the cheapest CD-MP3 play-
                                  ers available in the market.                                         Creative NOMAD MuVo         B-
NAPA       DAV316     CD-MP3       NAPA DAV316                A-                                       Build quality
player is the answer to your                                                                           Value for money
prayers. The player comes with     Build quality                                                       Features
rechargeable batteries but no      Value for money                                                     OVERALL
warranty. Performance was          Features
good with perfect brass and        OVERALL
treble. Although bulky it’s one
                                                                   Specifications: 64 MB internal memory, neck strap, earphones,
Specifications: Reads 700 MB CD-R and CD-RW, neck strap,           manual, driver CD
                                                                   Price: Rs 11,299 Contact: Creative Technology Ltd
earphones, AA NiMH battery, 300 gm weight
                                                                   Phone: 9820357713 E-mail: rajshekhar_bhatt@ctl.creative.com
Price: Rs 5,650 Contact: Moon Computers Phone: 022-22653390
                                                                   Web site: www.creative.com
E-mail: sales@moonindia.com Web site: www.moonindia.com


         169                                                                                                              JUNE 2003
                   MS Office 2003
Microsoft is making available the 2nd Beta version of the next Office to all comers.
Take a look at what’s on offer.

    n practice, Microsoft releases a new ver-                                                  Write inside of Word comments:
    sion of its Office suite every two years.                                                  Word provides an ink comment bubble
    This time, it has condensed the gap,                                                       feature, which allows you to ink inside of
giving users less time to decide whether to                                                    Word comments with all of the same fea-
upgrade or not. This is due to fine compe-                                                     tures, such as the ability to filter by the
tition from opponents such as Sun, which                                                       author. Using Comment bubbles ensures
performs well with its StarOffice and small                                                    that the annotations will remain
time developers. Dubbed as Office 11, this                                                     anchored to the text that was comment-
upgraded version has got a few added fea-                                                      ed on as the document is edited later on.
tures to its name such as OneNote for E-                                                       Two ink modes: In addition to anno-
note making (for Tablet PC users) and Info                                                     tating directly on the document surface,
Path to create XML documents.                                                                  users can insert hand-drawings in Word
     It has also come up with its Business                                                     through the same interface as pictures or
Contact Manager—an Outlook add-on—                                                             text boxes. You are given a canvas inside
to help sort contact databases. An added                                                       the document for their sketches, which
feature called the Rights Management Ser-                                                      acts like an ink picture. Double-clicking
vice helps users protect files and e-mails.     Formatting restrictions                        on the ink image produces a format ink
     The new SharePoint Team Services 2.0                                                      dialog box, in the same way as a text box
(which works only with the new Win-             Range Permissions: Range Permissions           or picture, with options to wrap text
dows Server 2003, Internet Information          allow portions of a document to be pro-        around the ink, resize the canvas, etc.
Services 6.0 and SQL Server) features a         tected against editing by some or all users.   Thumbnail view: Apart from the usual
document workspace where employees              Hence you can first protect the whole          views provided, an all-new thumbnail
share documents with co-workers. Share-         document against any edits, then assign        view; very similar to the thumbnail view in
Point also offers a new Meetings work-          permissions to individual portions of the      Adobe Acrobat Reader, has been provided
space for conducting online presen-             document by selecting them and choos-          for easy navigation in large documents.
tations, sharing meeting minutes and            ing which users should be able to edit that    Thesaurus: Word 2003 now includes a
action items, and managing all materials        selected area.                                 thesaurus via the Research task pane, for
and follow-up actions.                          New reading mode: The new Reading              those times when you are looking for just
     All in all, Microsoft has focussed more    Layout makes it easier to read documents       the right word.
on ease of use in most applications and                                                        XML in Word 2003: Word 2003 allows
some of them have been awarded with a                                                          documents to be saved in XML and sup-
lot of new features. To an individual user,                                                    ports the creation of templates based on
there may not be major compelling rea-                                                         customer-defined schemas. You can
sons to upgrade from first looks, but for an                                                   choose to save just the data or round-trip
enterprise environment with long docu-                                                         with full formatting preservation.
ment lifetimes, XML integration and
beefed up collaborating features are very
serious reasons to take a look.

                                                The new reading mode makes on screen read-
                                                ing easier
Style and formatting restrictions:
With Word 2003, you can use the Style           on screen. The text is displayed with
Lockdown feature that disables direct for-      clean margins, shorter lines, a larger font
matting. This allows complex documents          and space permitting two pages per
to be edited by many people while retain-       screen. This makes on-screen documents
ing structured formatting.                      easier to read.                                User-defined XML schemas structure documents

          172                                                                                                                 JUNE 2003
                                                Access also performs a Compact and
                                                Repair action to ensure that the file is
                                                internally consistent.
Excel 2003 is now able to consume and           Dependent objects: The new Depen-
generate XML data files expressed in cus-       dent Objects feature will make it easy to
tomer-defined XML schemas, not just the         determine the dependents of any object
XML Spreadsheet Schema. Apart from a            in a Jet database, reducing the debugging
spreadsheet application, Excel is also an       time needed to make a modification to an
                                                           existing Access application.
                                                           This feature is only available
                                                           for Jet database files. There is a
                                                           new ‘Dependents...’ command
                                                           added to the shortcut menu
                                                           when right-clicked on a data-
                                                           base object. This will only be
                                                           visible while right-clicking on
                                                           a Table, Query, Form or Report.
                                                           The ‘Dependents…’ command
                                                           is also available in the View
Generate XML data files expressed in XML                   menu.
schemas                                         Font control for the SQL window:
                                                while this is not a mission-critical feature,
efficient XML editor for analysing and          it sure does make working with the SQL
displaying up-to-the-second business            window less painful. This accessibility fea-
information. Some of the new features in        ture allows developers and users that cre-
Excel are as follows:                           ate and edit Microsoft SQL Server queries
Mapping tool: Excel 2003 provides a
mapping tool that works much like a field
chooser. With it, you can easily map exist-
ing Excel spreadsheets to XML data struc-
tures such as databases for import without
writing any code.
Excel lists: You can now add structure
around the data that you track in spread-
sheets. The List feature provides a data
entry row at the bottom of the list that
automatically expands the list region as
new items are entered. In addition, once        Now control the font in the SQL window
data is in an Excel list, operations such as
printing, charting, or creating a pivot table   to control the font size of the text in the
are made easier to perform.                     SQL window.
                                                Font control can be accessed from the
                                                Tools menu, under Options, by selecting
                                                the Tables/Queries tab. There is a set of
                                                controls that allow you to set the font
Integration with spreadsheet Web                and size.
component: The new Spreadsheet Web              Make Local Table: Copying a linked
Component feature in SharePoint Services        table into the local database is a common
can accept any Excel spreadsheet that is        technique for optimising performance for
mapped to an XML schema, and provide            slow running reports that use linked
that data to both SharePoint and non-           tables or queries. In previous versions of
SharePoint data sources.                        Access, you needed to create a complex
Back up database: Office 2003 gives             Make Table query to perform this task.
users a way to back up critical database        Now, you can simply copy the linked
files directly from within Access.You can       table to the clipboard and paste it back
now conveniently back up your impor-            into the database, or find this action in
tant database files to a consistent location    the task pane as a common task for
on a local system or shared network.            Linked Tables.

          173                                                                                   JUNE 2003
Propagate field properties: This fea-                                                                  control over the information in their
ture allows you to modify a field proper-                                                              inbox, through a feature called Block
ty in one place and propagate that new                                                                 External Content. If an e-mail message
value to all controls that are bound to            Shared data: Sharing is simplified                  tries to connect unannounced to a Web
that same field. Anyone that develops              by presenting shared data right along               server on the Internet, Outlook 2003
Access applications will appreciate how            with a user’s own data. For instance,
easy it is now to propagate properties set         you can view other calendars to which
on a table to all of its related forms and         you have access, right next to your own
reports. In the past, developers had to go         calendar.
through each related object and set the            Expand distribution lists: Distribu-
property manually— at the risk of for-             tion Lists can now be expanded to dis-
getting some. This feature greatly                 play the names of the people on the list.
reduces that risk as well as the time con-         This makes it easy to add or remove a
sumed by this task.                                few names before sending, without hav-
     Whenever you modify a property that           ing to modify the distribution list or start
is inherited on a field, when in the Table         from a scratch when addressing an e-
Design view, Access will display the ‘Prop-        mail message.
erty Update Options’ Smart tag that offers         Block external content: By default,
an option to “Update <property name>               Outlook 2003 helps protect the privacy of
everywhere <field name> is used.”                  its users, and provides them with more              External content settings in Outlook 2003

          Junk e-mail filter:                 Navigation Pane: The Navigation Pane is designed to build more efficiency into
     Outlook’s new junk e-mail                Outlook by combining the main navigation and sharing aspects of the application
      filters evaluate whether a              into one easy-to-use pane. With the Navigation Pane, users get more relevant and
    message should be treated                 context-sensitive navigation through Outlook and not simply a static list of folders.
  as junk based on several fac-
   tors, such as the time it was
           sent and its contents.
  You can still create a Trusted
  and Junk Sender list that will
        supersede the decisions
  made by automatic filtering.

                                                                                                                           New mail desktop
                                                                                                                           alert: An all-new
                                                                                                                           alert feature is incor-
   Search Folders: With the                                                                                                porated in Outlook
   introduction of these new                                                                                               2003, which pops up
   folders, Keeping track of                                                                                               on receiving a new e-
   mail that satisfies a complex                                                                                           mail. It contains but-
   search criteria is easy.                                                                                                tons to open, flag or
   You could set up a folder                                                                                               delete the e-mail mes-
   that keeps track of all mails                                                                                           sage, and fades out
   to a certain account that                                                                                               just as subtly as it
   contain interesting words,                                                                                              faded in if it's ignored
   for example. Some sample
   folders are created by
   default.                         Outlook rules and alerts Improvements:                  Hide when minimized: At last Microsoft
                                    The experience for creating new rules has been          includes a feature, that was much needed by
                                    streamlined and made easier for common rules,           regular users. Outlook does not appear in the
                                    making it easier for people to stay organised using     taskbar when its main window has been mini-
                                    simple inbox rules, and to view and change rules        mized. Instead, Outlook disappears into the
                                    once they’re created. Common rule actions can be        notification area, still collecting messages and
                                    viewed graphically and modified quickly. In addi-       waiting for the user to double-click the icon
                                    tion, users can associate alerts with their rules to    and bring Outlook back
                                    stay abreast of current information

          174                                                                                                                             JUNE 2003
                                                                                               Publish view: You can use the Publish
 Business Contact                                                                              view to publish an entire Web site or to
 Manager                                                                                       selectively publish individual files. You
 Outlook 2003 with Business Contact            Annotations in slide show: Power-               can also synchronise files between two or
 Manager makes small business owners           Point 2003 has improved annotation              more locations —that is, make sure sites
 and sales people more productive by           support, allowing Tablet PC users to            with the same content are up-to-date
 enabling them to track their business         mark up slides with ink while in Slide          with recent changes.
 relationships and sales opportunities         Show. You can take notes on slides, and              When you view folder contents in
 in one place. Outlook 2003 with Business      save the ink on the slides for later use.       Publish view, the files are marked with
 Contact Manager also helps small busi-            PowerPoint has also updated the pen         icons and descriptive text indicating the
 nesses connect to their customers             tools in Slide Show with more colours           publish status, such as Don’t Publish,
 through integration with List Builder, an     and types of pens to choose from, as well       Changed, Unchanged, New, and Conflict.
 e-mail marketing service from Microsoft       as giving you the ability to highlight parts    You can filter the view to show the fold-
 bCentral, and to their business data          of the presentation using a new high-           er contents, files to publish, files not to
 through integration with other Microsoft      lighter tool.                                   publish, and files in conflict.
 Office 2003 applications.                                                                     Quick tag selector and quick tag
                                                                                               Editor: You can use the Quick Tag Selec-
                                                                                               tor, located just above the document win-
blocks that connection until you decide                                                        dow, to view all the tags in your Web page
to view the content, which takes only one      PowerPoint viewer and package                   in a central location.
click. This feature can also be turned off     for CD: In PowerPoint 2003, in con-             Interactive buttons: You can add pro-
if the user prefers.                           junction with the Package for CD feature,       fessional looking buttons to your Web
Contact picture: Pictures can be               authors can package presentations onto          page by selecting from a list of JavaScript-
added directly into a contact, giving          a CD and optionally include the new             based buttons. Once you have selected a
you the ability to associate a face with                                                       button, you can change the settings, such
the name and other information in the                                                          as add the button text, choose the font,
contact.                                                                                       button colour, define a link and define
Intelligent Connectivity: The Intel-                                                           the image and text settings for original,
ligent Connectivity feature introduces                                                         hover and pressed states.
network awareness to Outlook 2003, giv-                                                        Improved ways to view Web page
ing it the ability to be more responsive                                                       content: With more advanced features
over low-speed or unreliable network                                                           in FrontPage, Page view types have been
connections.                                                                                   appropriately renamed to Design, Code
Expanded play list formats: Power-                                                             and Preview views. If you are familiar
Point now supports the following play                                                          with HTML, you can display the HTML
list formats: ASX, WMX, M3U, WVX,                                                              tags in Code view and write and edit the
WAX and WMA. Also, if a media codec            Packaging presentations for CDs                 HTML tags yourself. With the optimised
(necessary to play the files) isn’t present                                                    code features in FrontPage, you can cre-
on the system, PowerPoint will try to          PowerPoint viewer. Now authors can dis-         ate clean HTML, and it is easier for you
download it using Windows Media Play-          tribute PowerPoint presentations without        to remove any code that you do not
er technology.                                 worrying if their recipients have the cor-      want. You can now also view your Web
                                                      rect version of PowerPoint to view       page content in a split screen format
                                                      them. The package for CD feature         called Split view. This enables you to
                                                      also allows the author to choose to      review the content in both the Code and
                                                      automatically play presentations         Design views as you edit your page con-
                                                      once the CD is inserted.                 tent. If you are a beginner, you can learn
                                                      Web Packages: You can package a          HTML more quickly using Split view,
                                                      portion of your Web site based on        because you are able to see the code
                                                      Microsoft Windows SharePoint Ser-        develop in Code view as you work in
                                                      vices Beta 2 into a functional mod-      Design view.
                                                      ule that other users can add to their    Optimise HTML: You can generate
                                                      site. For example, you can package       clean HTML code in your pages when
                                                      a service solution that is specific to   you publish files from a Web site to a
                                                      a certain type of business. You can      remote Web site. This means that you
                                               then convert that functionality into a          can reduce the size of a page by remov-
Extended sound playing capabilities in Power   convenient single file format, and import       ing unnecessary formatting and tags,
Point                                          it to other Web sites.                          thereby optimising the code. Web

          175                                                                                                                  JUNE 2003
designers often use white space to make        them to your Web pages. The layout              entered onto these templates.
HTML more attractive to view, but it is        tables are located in an easily accessible          That allows customers to decide,
unnecessary for the page to function           task pane. Therefore, when you are plan-        through their own schema, what that
properly. You can remove empty tags,           ning and designing your Web pages, you          data should look like. And because it's
redundant font and nested tags, unused         can quickly and easily try a variety of lay-    XML, we can then parse that data out
and empty style definitions and even           outs before you make your final decision.       of the document and send it to any
certain tags that you specify.                 Image tracing: Image Tracing is when            XML-enabled back-end system from
XML integration: You can use Extensi-          you create a mock-up image of a Web             where it can also then be retrieved. It
ble Markup Language (XML) to compli-           page in a graphics program and then use         thus complements customers' existing
ment, rather than replace, your use of         it as a visual guide to create or trace the     infrastructures.
HTML. You can view or edit files, apply        Web page design in FrontPage. You can           A better way to take notes: One Note
standard formatting to the structure of        show or hide the image, set its opacity,        allows for handwritten or typed notes, or
code in XML files, view the XML tree and       and change its position. You can view the       both. Audio files, such as recorded con-
create custom displays of XML data on          tracing image in both the Design and            ference calls, can also be inserted into
Web pages. For example, you can use            Split views in FrontPage. Site visitors do
FrontPage to create a Web page that dis-       not see the tracing image when viewing
plays data from an XML file, format that       the site using a Web browser.
data, and apply filtering, sorting, and con-   Layers: A layer is a container in a Web
ditional formatting to display the data the    page that holds HTML page elements such
way you want.                                  as text and graphics. You can overlap, nest
Macromedia Flash support: To                   and show or hide layers on a page. You can
enhance and update your FrontPage Web          also animate layers by using the Behaviors
site, you can add Macromedia Flash con-        task pane, which enables you to add
tent such as short movie strips, repetitive    Dynamic HTML (DHTML) script to any tag
audio-enhanced animations, previously          within a Web page. In the Layers task pane,
recorded educational presentations or          you can view an itemised list of all the lay-
courses and more. You can set options for      ers within your Web page.
automatic playback such as playing a
short animation once when the site visi-       Other new additions                             Improved note making
tor first loads the page or looping the con-   InfoPath: This application, named X
tent to play continuously.                     docs in its beta stage, allows you to create    One Note, as can images captured from
Behaviors: Behaviors are scripting             templates and schemas; and the editor           sources such as the Web or hand-made
options that enable you to quickly add         allows information to be entered and            sketches with a stylus. One Note is aimed
interactivity or increased functionality to    viewed. The idea is to provide you with a       at a larger audience ranging from students
text or other elements of your Web page.       set of 25 templates based on industry-          doing research to business people man-
For example, you can specify that a sound      standard XML. That will enable develop-         aging notes taken down at meetings. One
file must play as a result of a site visitor                                                   Note integrates, in some fashion, with
clicking a graphic on a Web page. You can                                                      Office applications. From One Note, for
also view and edit the scripts associated                                                      instance, you'll be able to e-mail your dig-
with the current page by viewing a list in                                                     ital notes via Outlook.
the Behaviors task pane.
Dynamic Web templates: You can                                                                 Will it, won’t it?
save an HTML file as a dynamic Web tem-                                                        It is indeed good to see that Office appli-
plate (*.dwt) that you can use to create                                                       cations will have support for XML. How-
and attach other HTML pages that share                                                         ever, as seen above, Microsoft has
the same layout. You can protect your lay-                                                     improved FrontPage and Outlook a great
out by specifying regions within the tem-                                                      deal but the rest of the applications in the
plate as editable and non-editable. This                                                       Office suite have been given minimal
means that you can allow other users to        Creating templates and schemas using            improvements. Unlike the Office 2002
add and edit content but not change the        Info Path                                       release, which had major improvements
layout of the master page template. Each                                                       from 2000, we don’t see significant
time you update a dynamic Web tem-             ers, third parties, corporate IT program-       improvements with this release. Since it is
plate, all pages that are based on that tem-   mers and technical users to create addi-        yet in its beta stage, we will have to wait
plate update as well.                          tional templates, based on the XML              and see what the final release has in store
Layout tables: You can select from a list      schema they define, specific to their busi-     for the users.
of pre-defined layouts and then apply          ness or industry. Information will then be                                      MITUL MEHTA

          176                                                                                                                  JUNE 2003
test drive ■
                     ■   undercover

                                 Here be the fire   Agent 001 stares piracy in the face

       act: Software companies lose crores            Professional Rs 9,900, Office XP
       of revenue annually to piracy, 70 per          Professional Rs 18,500, Macro…”,
       cent of the software in India is pirat-        you had to hear the screams! Hell
ed—we are the eight largest consumers of              indeed hath no fury like thus dis-
pirated software. Most of us don’t even               played. “How can software, some-
care. Last week I found out why.                      thing that comes on a plastic-ka
    It was a normal day in the life of Agent          CD cost so much? This is daylight
001—just saved the world from invading                robbery! Insanity!” Hands flayed
aliens, installed a wireless home network             with murderous intent, lips
for my grandparents and cajoled a friend to           uttered words that dare not appear
opt for an AMD solution—the evening                   in print. The world reeled.
would be quality time with my PC. Or so I
thought. The phone rang. The assembly                 Run Agent run
stork had just delivered a spanking new                   If software be the new religion,
computer to my neighbourette. The lady                    piracy is the taboo that everyone
was in distress and if there is one thing that            loves to indulge in. Everyone.
appeals to this double-O, (apart from the                 Given the asking price of most soft-
Palm Zire 71) it is rescuing budding                      ware, there is little left to debate,
princesses from the evil clutches of tech-                but morality. The latest Windows
nology. Where’s the fire?                                 OS costs upwards of Rs 7,000;
    “Now that I have this spanking beige                  Microsoft’s Office suite upwards of
blinding my senses, how can I use it to                   Rs 15,500 and may the angels send
best extract all the Rs 20,000 that I sunk                you a cheque if you work with a 3D
into it?” asks the lady, pointing out the                 publishing tool—Rs 1,45,000 for                                 ILLUSTRATION: Mahesh Benkar
fire. “Software, madam is the antidote to                 3D Studio MAX!
all your problems, stuff it with office                       A brisk walk to the nearest market, and      made and the suppliers come around on a
suites, anti-virus solutions, firewalls,                  illegal copies of games and productivity         monthly basis asking around for new
image editors and games; and pretty soon,                 applications abound with naked excess.           orders. They take back the unsold CDs and
you will have fun and productivity ring-                  Burned using the fastest CD-Writers (Rs          replace them with newer versions.
ing through these pink walls.” My suave                   3,000 and falling) on the cheapest CD                The market is just one source of such
best, a pseudo-Amrican accent duly                        media (Rs 10 and falling), adorned with the      warez: your friend, your colleague, your
attached, to further enhance the air of                   flimsiest covers (photo-copied at 10 paisa,      neighbour… with the Internet pinging
superiority and foreknowledge of all                      thank you very much) and displayed on            every home, all you need is bandwidth and
things digital. She asked prices. Of all the              make-shift shacks that can disappear faster      peer-to-peer software to get your hands
things she could have asked about, she                    than a magicians' rabbit; voila—Rs 80 for        dirty. The thing is, most of us are unaware
had to ask about prices! “Windows XP                      the laatesh maal!                                of the wrongs attached to piracy. It is tan-
                                                                                      Authority? “We       tamount to stealing, you are supposed to
                                                                                  have to grease the       pay for it, so cough up and put up. Those
        A Hole in your Pocket                                                     palms of cops on a       who can afford to cough, do it. Those who
                                                                                  regular basis”, says a   can’t, shrug and pirate.
                                          Licensed Copies Pirated Price
                                                                                  local seller. Those          If morality be the bone of contention in
 Windows XP Professional OEM                        Rs 6,900            Rs 80     anti-piracy dudes?       your kebab, then open-source software
 Windows XP Professional Full                       Rs 9,900            Rs 80     “Even those people       offers a handy toothpick. You can get a
 Office XP Standard                                Rs 15,500            Rs 80     get their cut”. Sur-     Linux distribution, for example, for a little
 Office XP Professional                            Rs 18,500            Rs 80     prise raids? “Does-      over Rs 3,000. A distribution packed with
 Macromedia Flash                                  Rs 19,900            Rs 80     n’t      make        a   all and sundry: office suites, games, image
 Director 8.5                                      Rs 43,500            Rs 80     difference, we know      editors, MP3 players, you name it, it got it.
                                                                                  in advance when          Linux is young for the desktop—teething
 Tally 6.3 Single-User                             Rs 18,500            Rs 80
                                                                                  they will raid, and      and crying, it grows everyday—but is
 Tally 6.3 Multi-User                              Rs 37,000            Rs 80
                                                                                  we hide most of the      unlikely to be able to run your favourite
 Adobe Photoshop 7                                 Rs 33,000            Rs 80
                                                                                  CDs before they          game or the application you are most
 3D Studio MAX 5                                 Rs 1,45,000            Rs 80
                                                                                  come.” He further        familiar with.
 *All prices are indicative and are subject to change and may differ from         added that all these         What India needs is affordable software.
 region to region                                                                 CDs are locally          Is anyone listening?

           178                                                                                                                             JUNE 2003
insight ■
               ■   smart@work

insight ■

               ■   smart@work

                       Use tables in Word 2000 and XP to improve efficiency and aesthetics

      ables, in Microsoft Word, are pow-         pops out, and click when you see the              the top-left corner. Just click on it and
      erful tools for organising and for-        desired number of rows and columns.               your entire table is selected.
      matting while being flexible and               Once your table is ready, you can
easy to use. Here’s how to get started with      directly enter text into the cells by clicking    Restructuring and resizing the table
tables, and use them to their maximum            and typing. For navigation among the cell         More often than not, you will need to
capacity. Tables are used to present data in     using the keyboard, see the box Keyboard          make changes in the number of rows and
a readable and structured format.                Shortcuts.                                        columns in your table. So lets see how we
                                                                                                   can do this. To add a row at the end of
Inserting Tables                                 Selecting the cells                               table, simply press [Tab] when the cursor
There are many ways to insert tables into        Before formatting text or data, you need to       is at the bottom right cell of the table. To
documents. The simplest method is to use         select an object. Selection of one or more        add a column to the right of the last col-
the namesake tool, Table. Just go to Table       adjacent cells can easily be achieved by          umn in a table, click just outside the right-
                                                 dragging the mouse across the cells. Rows         most column. On the Table menu, point
                                                 and columns can be selected by this               to Insert, and then click ‘Columns to the
                                                 method as well. You can also use the menu         Right’. Similarly, click ‘Columns to the
                                                 option       Table       >     Select     >       Left’ to insert columns to the left. To insert
                            From the Insert      Table/Column/Row/Cell, to select whatever         rows, click Table > Insert > Rows Above or Rows
                            Table box, you can   you want. However there are certain               Below, depending on your requirement.
                            choose the number    shortcuts to select entire rows, columns               Sometimes, you might need to merge
                            of rows and          and tables. When you move your mouse              certain cells to be merged into a single cell.
                            columns of your      pointer on the upper border of the table,         This can be achieved by selecting the cells
                            table                the mouse pointer changes to a down-              you want to merge, and going to Table >
                                                 ward-pointing black arrow. Now when
> Insert > Table, to bring up the Insert Table   you click, the entire column is selected.
box. Choose the number of rows and               The same procedure can be applied for               Let your Data Breathe
columns you want, click OK, and your             selecting rows as well—instead of moving            White space is an important design
table is created.                                your cursor to the top, move it to the left.        element, whether you’re designing
     Another simple method of inserting                                                              Web pages, documents, brochures, or
tables is to click the Insert Table button,                                                          tables. In a table, giving the data room
move your mouse across the grid that                                                                 to breathe makes the table more
                                                 You can select entire rows or columns with a        appealing.
                                                 single click                                            To adjust the space in your table,
                                                                                                     select the entire table. In the Format
                                                    Selecting the entire table is very easy.         menu click Paragraph. The Paragraph
                                                 When your mouse pointer is anywhere                 dialog box will appear. You can then
                                                 over the table, you will see a small box at         add consistent spacing to give some
                                                                                                     cushion between the text and the cell
                                                                                                     boundaries. To do this, under Spacing,
                                                                                                     in the Before box, type ‘4 pt.’
                                                                                                         And your readers are likely to stick
Using the Insert Table button, you can                                                               around long enough to understand
instantly create a table with the desired        You can select the entire table, by clicking at     what you are trying to show them.
number of rows and columns.                      the top-left corner

          221                                                                                                                          JUNE 2003
                                                                                                       AutoFormat is a quick way to format
                                                                                                   your tables. It changes borders, shading
                                                                                                   and resizes the cells to fit the content.
                                                                                                   Using this is fairly easy. Click anywhere in
                                                                                                   the table, and in the Table menu click
                                                                                                   Table Autoformat. You will be presented
                                                                                                   with a dialog box with various formats,
                                                                                                   which you can choose from, to format
                                                                                                   your table.
                                                    Resize rows and columns by dragging the

                                                    width you want. Use the same technique
Inserting rows or columns, can be done using        to resize rows.
the Insert menu
                                                    Formatting table
Merge Cells. To split a cell, click the cell you    You can enhance your table by adding
want to split, and click Table > Split Cells,       borders and filling cells with colours, pat-
specify the number of rows and columns,             terns, or shading. You can also use the
and click OK to split the cell. For deleting        Table AutoFormat command to quickly
cells, select the cells and go to Table > Delete    give your table a different look, using a
> Cells. To delete the entire column or row,        predefined template.
go to Table > Delete > Rows or Columns.                 To add a border to the entire table,
     When Word creates the table, by                click anywhere in the table. Then in the
default, it acquires the whole page width.          Format menu, click Borders And Shading         Using the Table Autoformat option, you can
                                                    and click on the Borders tab. When you         customise your table
                                                    insert a table, it has a black, half-point,
                                                    solid single-line border by default. Use the
                                                    Style, Color and Width options to add a
                                                    different border. Make sure the correct
                                                                                                           Tips for Power Users
                                                    option—Table or Cell—is selected under
                                                    Apply To.                                        ■ Automatically labelling figures and
                                                        To specify that only particular sides        tables with captions
                                                    get borders, click Custom under Setting.         To make Word automatically label your
                                                    Under Preview, click the diagram’s sides,        figures and tables with captions, go to
You can merge or split                                                                               Insert > Caption > AutoCaption, under
cells from the Table                                                                                 ‘Add caption when inserting’, choose
menu                                                                                                 the items you want, click OK and then
                                                                                                     OK again to save your settings.
When you want to resize the table, hold                                                              ■ Fixing a ‘bumpy’ Word table
the pointer over the table until the table                                                           Sometimes the cells of a Word table can
resize handle (a little box) appears on the                                                          become misaligned so that the columns
lower-right corner of the table. Now, hover                                                          have jagged edges. To fix this problem,
the pointer on the table resize handle,                                                              click inside the table and open the
until a double-headed arrow appears. Drag                                                            Table menu. Click on Select Table, then
the table boundary, until the table is the                                                           open the Table menu again, and click
size you want.                                                                                       Convert Table To Text. Finally, open the
    To resize the column, rest the pointer                                                           Table menu once more and click Con-
on the column boundary until it becomes                                                              vert Text To Table.
a resize tool (parallel lines with a double         Format the borders and shading from Format       ■ Drawing a diagonal line in a cell
headed arrow through it), and then drag             menu                                             After you insert your table, right-click
the boundary until the column is the                                                                 any tool bar and click ‘Tables and Bor-
                                                    or use the buttons to apply and remove           ders’ from the pop up menu. Use the
                                                    borders. Click OK and you’re done.               pencil tool and individualise any cell.
                                                        To add shading in a table or cell, go to     ■ Wrapping text around a table
                                                    Format > Borders and Shading, and then click     Click on the table, go to Table > Table
                                                    the Shading tab. Select the options you          Properties > Table. Under Text Wrapping,
Resizing a table to fit into your window, is done   want. Be sure to click the part of the doc-      click Around.
by dragging the border when the resize handle       ument you want to apply shading to,
appears                                             under Apply To, and finally, click OK.

           222                                                                                                                        JUNE 2003
                                                                                                      ‘Other’ under ‘Separate’ text at, and put a
  Keyboard Shortcuts                                                                                  comma—as our text is separated with
                                                                                                      commas. Click OK, and the text is con-
  Use these key combinations in Word to hasten your work with tables:                                 verted into a table.
  To select the entire table                  [Alt] + Num [5] (NumLock should
                                                        be off)                                       Achieving decimal align in a col-
  To update the table                                   [Alt] + [Ctrl] + [U]                          umn of cells
  formatting to match the applied formatting set                                                      Highlight the cells to be decimal-aligned.
  To add a new line to current cell                     [Enter]                                       Make sure they are aligned left to start. At
  To move to the next column (on the right)             [Tab]                                         the left of the ruler line, click the little L
  To the previous column (on the left)                  [Shift] + [Tab]                               (left tab) until it becomes a decimal cen-
  To the cell in the next row (one row down)            The [Down] Arrow key                          tring tab—inverted T with a dot on it.
  To the cell in the previous row (one row up)          The [Up] Arrow key
                                                                                                      Then click on the ruler line above the
                                                                                                      highlighted column of numbers. The dec-
  To the beginning of a cell entry                      [Home] or [Ctrl] + [Left Arrow]
                                                                                                      imals should jump into alignment. You
  To the end of a cell entry                            [End] or [Ctrl] + [Right Arrow]
                                                                                                      can adjust them left or right, by clicking
  To split a table                                      [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [Enter]
                                                                                                      on the new decimal tab on the ruler line.
  To select entire column                               [Alt] + click
                                                                                                      You will see a vertical dotted line, which
  To insert a TAB mark in cell                          [Ctrl] + [Tab]
                                                                                                      you can drag left or right to decimal-cen-

                                                   alignment by right-clicking the cell, click-
                                                   ing on Cell Alignment, and choosing the
                                                   alignment you want.                                You can decimal
                                                                                                      align a table using
                                                   Converting between text and                        only the mouse, to
                                                   table                                              drag columns
                                                   Now let's look at a few advanced topics.
                                                   The first is converting text into tables, and
                                                   vice versa. To convert a table into text, select
                                                   the table and go to Table > Convert > Table To
                                                   Text. It will ask you about the character to be
                                                   used as a separator; the default setting will
Change the way text flows by selecting Text        do, so just click OK. The table is converted
Direction from the Format menu                     to text, which can be transferred to other
                                                   software that do not support tables.
Change the orientation of text                          Similarly, you can convert text into a
By default, Microsoft Word aligns text             table. Suppose you have some text like
horizontally in table cells. You can change             ABC, DEF, GHI
the text orientation. Select the cell that              1,1,1
contains the text. Go to Format > Text Direc-           2,2,2                                         tre the cells. If you drag it off the ruler line,
tion, and click the orientation you want.               To convert this into a table, select the      you will not see it again, and will have to
Click OK and the orientation changes.              text and go to Table > Convert > Text To Table.    start from scratch.
     Word aligns the text in cells, to the         In the dialog box that pops up, choose                  You can download tutorials on Word
upper left corner. You can change this                                                                by Microsoft from http://www.microsoft
                                                                                                      .com/education/?ID=O2kTutorial. You can
                                                                                                      also join newsletters, which keep you
                                                                                                      updated about the latest in Microsoft
                                                                                                      Word and send you tips and tricks as well.
                                                                                                      One such newsletter, called Inside Office,
                                                                                                      from Microsoft can be subscribed to at
                                                                                                                                      UPENDRA SINGHAI

                                                                                                       Sites to visit
Choosing the type of cell alignment you want       Converting tables to text, and text to tables,      http://desktoppub.about.com/cs/word/
for your table is just a right-click away          are pretty easy and precise

          223                                                                                                                              JUNE 2003
insight ■
              ■   linux works
                                                                                                        IMAGING:   Atul Deshmukh

                             Jazz up that

      It’s colourful, its funky and yes, it’s Linux. Personalise Tux by changing the look and feel of your
                                favourite window manager. Here is how you do it.

       weaking the appearance of the Win-      dow managers in Linux—WindowMaker                 Themes. Experiment with the available
       dows desktop is a breeze—a few          and Metacity. We put these window man-            themes listed in that menu. This should
       clicks, and you can change just about   agers through their paces on a computer           brighten your desktop quite a bit.
everything, from backgrounds to themes.        with the SuSE Linux Office Desktop dis-               A theme defines the look of every
If you are new to Linux, it’s about time you   tribution installed.
discovered how easy it is to be get a desk-
top as colourful as Windows. Sure, it may      Using WindowMaker on SuSE
seem confusing at first, with Linux distri-    You can select the window manager or
butions coming up with variations of the       desktop environment right at the login
Gnome and KDE desktop environments,            screen. To use WindowMaker, select Win-
and a plethora of window managers to con-      dowMaker from the drop down box that
trol the appearance of windows within          appears at the login dialog.
these desktop environments. But here’s the           The default environment and theme in
interesting part—within Linux, you can         WindowMaker is very different from what
tweak just about every component of the        you get to see in your typical Windows
window manager beyond what any version         desktop, and takes some time to get used to
of Windows allows.                             it. If it appears rather drab and insipid, this
     For this workshop, we show you how        is how you can enliven it—click anywhere
to put to use two of the most popular win-     on the desktop, then, go to Appearance >          Changing themes in WindowMaker

          224                                                                                                                      JUNE 2003
element of the interface. You can customise                                                    pop-up menu and select Run...
individual aspects by changing Styles and                                                           Type ‘nautilus’ in the Run command
Backgrounds. To do this, go to the Appear-                                                     dialog that comes up.
ance > Styles or Appearance > Backgrounds                                                           You should see some pretty interest-
menu. You can always save the custom look                                                      ing changes on your desktop. The Win-
you’ve created using the ‘Save Theme’ com-                                                     dowMaker theme will disappear and the
mand in the Appearance menu.                                                                   Gnome desktop appears, with the Nau-
                                                                                               tilus file browser window that shows you
                                                                                               the contents of your home directory.
                                                                                               Notice that the Gnome desktop comes
                                              The WindowMaker control panel lets you           with its own titlebar. If you would like to
                                              customise appearance                             access the WindowMaker desktop, close
                                                                                               the Nautilus file browser and move the
                                              effects using the ‘kill’ command. (See box       Gnome desktop around by dragging its
                                              ‘Processes in Linux’) Play with this feature     titlebar. You should see the WindowMak-
                                              only if you are comfortable with this com-       er desktop hiding behind it. To access your
                                              mand-line tool.                                  custom theme, click anyhere on the Win-
                                                  Finally, use the WindowMaker Prefer-         dowMaker desktop—that should do it.
                                              ences application to change the interface        You can click on any of the shortcuts on
                                              and several aspects of window behaviour.         your Gnome desktop to run the corre-
                                              Each option is pretty much self-explana-         sponding application.
                                              tory. These preferences can be found in
Tons of styles to choose from here            WindowMaker > Wprefs.

    WindowMaker supports a very eye-          Getting new themes for
catching feature—dynamic backgrounds!         WindowMaker
Go to SuSE > System and choose from a wide    WindowMaker comes with plenty of
range of applets including ‘The Matrix’—      themes but there are always more to be
our favourite. These applets are rather       found. If you would like to add in some
tricky to get rid of—you will have to man-    more themes, you can get some really
ually kill the process to stop the dynamic    interesting ones at http://alge.anart.no/proj-
                                                   WindowMaker themes come in the              Gnome running over WindowMaker
                                              compressed tar.gz format. You will have to
                                              extract the themes from the compressed              Since what we pulled off here is an
                                              file into the Themes directory. The default      undocumented hack, you may face some
                                              WindowMaker Themes directory is                  unexpected events such as automatic wall-
                                              /usr/X11R6/share/WindowMaker/Themes.             paper changes.
                                              Open a terminal (console) and uncom-
                                              press the files with the following com-          Using Metacity
                                              mand: tar -zxvf downloadedtheme.tar.gz           If you choose Gnome at the SuSE login
                                                   You will find a directory by the name       prompt, the default window manager is
                                              of downloadedtheme.themed inside your cur-       Metacity. It’s quite limited as compared to
                                              rent home directory. Move this directory         WindowMaker, but at least you’ll get to
                                              to the default WindowMaker themes                change the system theme and one aspect
                                              directory by using         this command:         of window behaviour. Click on the ‘Desk-
                                              mv downloadedtheme.themed /usr/ X11R6/           top Preferences’ icon in the taskbar (the
You can choose Dynamic backgrounds here       share/WindowMaker/Themes                         spanner and screwdriver icon). Then dou-
                                                   You should now be able to see the           ble-click on Metacity Setup to bring up the
                                              installed theme listed within the Themes         configuration screen.
                                              pop-up under Appearances when you click
                                              on your desktop. Just click on the theme
                                              name to change into it.

                                              Run Gnome over WindowMaker
                                              If WindowMaker is getting boring and you
                                              are looking forward to working within the
                                              good old Gnome desktop, here is a simple
                                              work around in which you can switch
The Matrix—Coming to a Linux desktop          desktops without logging out. Click on the       Use Desktop Preferences to launch the
near you!                                     WindowMaker desktop to get the standard          Metacity configuration utility

          225                                                                                                                     JUNE 2003
insight ■
              ■   linux works

     As you can see, there isn’t too much                                                        Processes in Linux
to do here. The themes listed in the box
aren’t as comprehensive as the themes in                                                         What is a process?
WindowMaker—they just change a few                                                               Any program invoked on your Linux
aspects of windows, such as borders, title                                                       machine runs as a single process or a
bars, etc. You can download extra theme                                                          group of processes. Every process is
files and install them using the ‘Install                                                        assigned a unique process ID that is used
New Theme’ button. A little more cus-                                                            by the kernel to identify it. To get a
tomisation can be achieved by changing                                                           snapshot of all the current processes
                         the title bar font.                                                     and their process Ids, use the command
                         The last two                                                            ps -ax
                         options      allow
                         you to deter-                                                           Killing a Process
                         mine how the            Two Desktop Environments running                It’s possible that a process may not
                         active window is        simultaneously                                  terminate as expected or you may want
                         chosen and how                                                          to manually terminate a process.
                         many       virtual      it is slightly tricky.                               To kill a process within Linux, obtain
                         desktops        are          To do this, open a terminal on your        the process ID and type in kill pid into a
                         available. The          desktop and type the following command:         terminal.
                         default is four              ps -ax | grep kwin                              This should kill the process. However,
                         virtual desktops.            This will give you an output similar to    if a process ignores the kill command and
Metacity configuration                           the one given below                             does not get terminated, you would
offers limited             Switching into             2701 ? S        0.00 kdeinit: kwin         need to enforce the kill command. For
customisability            Metacity with-             The first number gives the process         this, type in kill -9 pid
                           in KDE                ID of the kwin window manager; you                   The -9 flag here ensures that the
Even if you are a Gnome fan, you might           can use this ID to kill the window              process is terminated, as the it cannot
find yourself using KDE, especially with         manager by typing the following                 ignore this kill signal from the kernel.
the sheer number of applications that are        command in the terminal:
bundled with it. KDE comes with its own               kill -9 2701
window manager, kwin, which is tightly                The last number in the preceding          dow manager, you will notice that all the
integrated into the desktop. You could           line—2701 in our example—is the                colourful borders of the opened windows
still replace kwin with Metacity, although       process ID of kwin. After killing the win-     have disappeared and you are unable to
                                                                                                move them around. You can still use
                                                                                                them—this is because the desktop is still
 About Managers and Environments                                                                alive and running, but it cannot figure
                                                                                                out how to go about handling the win-
 Here’s some information to help you             monplace product. You could choose to          dows since kwin, the window manager,
 understand the differences between win-         implement a new style just as often as you     has been killed and no other window
 dow managers and desktop environments.          want to!                                       manager is running. Now choose Run
     The X server, commonly called X, is a           This is where the window manager           Command… from the start menu, and
 portable GUI used on several platforms and      comes in. The window manager manages           type ‘metacity --replace’ in the dialog box
 systems, but mostly associated with UNIX.       the windows, and provides the interface        that comes up. Click on Run and you
 There are several implementations of X avail-   where the users can interact with various      will have Metacity managing your open
 able, with the free version-XFree86-used for    application windows and defines the look       windows under KDE.
 Linux. X gained wide acceptance with its        and feel of your workspace.
 eleventh revision, famously known as X11.           Desktop environments provide a com-        Running KDE inside Gnome
     X achieves its complete functionality       plete user interface and come bundled          Open the Run Command… dialog from
 through the working of several independ-        with several applications and utilities,       the start menu and type ‘startkde’, which
 ent components, rather than a single            eg. GNOME and KDE (K Desktop                   starts the K Desktop Environment inside
 monolithic—and thus hard to manage—             Environment).                                  the Gnome desktop environment. You’ll
 structure. The most significant advantage           Window managers can work without           get two different desktop panels, one above
 of such a modular structure is its cus-         desktop environments, but the reverse          the other, from where you can access the
 tomisability.                                   is not possible. This happens because desk-    start menus and applets of both KDE and
     The individual components of X can be       top environments always need a window          Gnome. This can be of help when you
 tweaked and changed by users and this is        manager to manage their windows, while         need to quickly use the KDE apps straight
 where the window managers come in.              window managers can draw and manage            from the KDE taskbar and start menu.
     Since users can choose to change the        their windows by themselves. Sounds like            However, if you’re running two desk-
 look and feel as well as the interaction of     a reason to junk that heavy desktop envi-      top environments, you will need a lot of
 windows, a streak of individualism can be       ronment? Hold on, you forgot all about         memory or else your Linux box is going to
 added into what is essentially a very com-      those wonderful bundled applications!          slow down to a crawl!
                                                                                                          PRAVEEN KURUP   AND   BADRI NARAYAN

          226                                                                                                                      JUNE 2003
insight ■
              ■   netreturns
                                                                                                                   IMAGING:   Mahesh Benkar

One wo rld,
   One language
  Usted habla español? Well neither do we, but you no longer need to speak, read or write a language
to be able to communicate using it...

             lückwünsche”, the subject line   in more ways than one. Web sites with          erally considered the best. Some other
             of the e-mail screams. You       translation engines bridge the language        translation engine providers are Free-
             click on it and gibberish        divide by offering free and paid translation   translation.com, PROMT-Reverso and
shows up. Who wants to continue read-         services for all major languages. Small or     WorldLingo.
ing a mail that begins, “Ihr Stellengesuch    medium-sized businesses can now avail of           Popular sites such as Google and Dic-
auf Mercedes Benz wurde angenommen.” You      cheap translation solutions, and jump          tionary.com offer what is known as
instinctively click on Delete, and perhaps    over the language barriers that hinder         ‘Machine translation’, which, while not as
even block the sender, but had you trans-     growth on foreign lands. Net surfers don’t     competent as a human translator, conveys
lated the text, you would have found that     have to miss out on relevant content they      the gist of the text. For example, Google
the e-mail reads “Congratulations! Your       find in foreign languages.                     would translate that German e-mail as
job application to Mercedes Benz was                                                         ‘Their job application on Mercedes Benz
accepted.” Kicking ourselves, aren’t we?      Sites and Services                             was accepted’—not entirely correct, but it
    Many of us would like to talk to our      Systran Information and Translation Tech-      gets the message across.
Japanese correspondents in Japan, or have     nologies is one of the biggest players in          The most popular sites are obviously
e-pals in Russia, but who has the time to     the translation software business, and has     the ones that offer free translation. Google
learn Japanese or Russian?                    an admirable 30 years experience in the        offers a wide range of translation services,
    But now, the Net is shrinking the world   field. Systran’s translation engine is gen-    ranging from translating text and Web

         228                                                                                                                     JUNE 2003
insight ■
               ■   netreturns

 Hamara Bharat mahan!
 Some IIT Kanpur students developed a translation service for translating from English into
 Hindi. The site is called AnglaHindi (http://anglahindi.iitk.ac.in/index2.html) and offers a Hindi
 true type font for download, in case you can’t display the Hindi translation properly on your
                                                                          computer. It also has an
                                                                          online editor, which allows
                                                                          you to further edit and
                                                                          tune up obvious translation
                                                                          mistakes by using a pop-up
                                                                          Hindi font keypad. Another      Babel Fish: your guide to the translation
                                                                          exciting feature is the fact    galaxy
                                                                          that you can upload a plain
                                                                          text file, and have it trans-   by Douglas Adams. It can be found at
                                                                          lated within minutes. It        http://babelfish.altavista.com/, and was the
                                                                          even shows you how many         first online translation success story. It
                                                                          sentences your file has, and    uses Systran’s translation technologies to
                                                                          shows the real time             offer both text and Web page translation.
                                                                          progress of the translation.         FreeTranslation.com (www.freetransla-
                                                                          Once done, it allows you        tion. com) offers both paid and free trans-
                                                                          to view, edit or save the       lation. You can translate important docu-
  AnglaHindi is what IIT Kanpur’s attempt at translation is called        translated file.                ments as well, albeit at a price. A click of a
                                                                                                          button and you can translate anything via
                                                                                                          human translators. You can get free
pages to searching for sites written in spe-          language you want to see it in.                     machine translations as well.
cific languages. It also allows you to view                Remember that some languages, such
searches, and the Google site itself, in a            as Japanese, Arabic and Hindi, use a non-
variety of exotic languages, such as Japan-           English script. You’ll have to install the
ese and Ukrainian. Adding an Indian                   fonts for these scripts before you can view
flavour, it also supports Indian languages            the translated output. Usually the Web site,
such as Hindi, Bengali and Marathi.                   or your browser, will inform you that a cer-
Google uses Systran’s translation technolo-           tain site cannot be displayed correctly, and
gy for its online translation service, avail-         will offer to install the font onto your sys-
able at http://www.google.com/language_tools.         tem. All you do is click Download or OK,
                                                      depending on the message you get, and
                                                      view the Web page in that language.
                                                           T-Mail (www.t-mail.com) allows you to          Dictionary.com offers so much more than just
                                                      translate e-mails too. You will need to             word searches
                                                      send a mail to yourself and send a copy to
                                                      T-mail with the ‘Cc:’ address in the pre-
                                                      assigned format. For example, to convert
                                                      a French e-mail to English, you type fr-
                                                                                                           5     cool ways to use Online
                                                                                                                 Translation Services
                                                      en@T-Mail.com in the ‘Cc:’ box and send the          1 E-mail your better half in Japanese, when
                                                      e-mail. You receive the translation as a             both of you are at work. If someone sees
                                                      reply. The service, however, is quite                the e-mail, they won’t understand a word.
Google offers translation services, a small part      painful to use—the return e-mail is sent             However, this only works for people who
of their extensive language services                  only after a few hours, and there’s gibber-          work outside of Japan, and who don’t
                                                      ish mixed with actual text.                          have Japanese bosses!
     Using translation Web sites is a snap.                There are also some sites that do trans-        2 Conspire to overthrow your boss’ evil
All you have to do is navigate to a Web               lation between two specific languages, such          regime by sending e-mails in German to
site, say, www.systransoft.com, go to their           as     Ajeeb.com       (http://tarjim.ajeeb.com/     your colleagues.
translation page, and you will see a text             ajeeb/default.asp?lang=1), which translates          3 E-mailing e-pals in their native tongue to
input or a URL input box. Enter the text              from English to Arabic. Ajeeb offers its Tar-        impress them. Especially if they’re cute
you want translated into the text box,                jim translation tool for free, which you can         and plan to visit your country soon.
choose the source and destination lan-                download and then use to get instanta-               4 Setting up multilingual personal
guages, such as English to Japanese, and              neous English to Arabic translation. How-            Web sites, to get geographically distrib-
click on translate, or press [Enter]. A few           ever, you’ll have to pay to get an Arabic to         uted hits.
seconds later you’ll get the translated text.         English translation.                                 5 Learn French words and phrases, and
The procedure is similar for Web page                      AltaVista’s translation services, is            use them in classy restaurants, to sound
translation—just enter the URL of the Web             called Babel Fish—taken from the cult                more chic, especially when on a date.
site you want translated, and select the              novel The Hitch Hikers Guide to The Galaxy

           229                                                                                                                                 JUNE 2003
insight ■
               ■   netreturns

                                                                           The languages they speak...
                                                                             AltaVista   Dicti- FreeTransla-
                                                                                                             Google Systran T-Mail.com
                                                                             BabelFish onary.com tion.com
                                                       Chinese <=> English       ✔         ✔         ✔         ✖       ✔        ✔
                                                       Dutch <=> English         ✔         ✔         ✖         ✖       ✔        ✔
                                                       French <=> English        ✖         ✔         ✔         ✖       ✔        ✖
                                                       German <=> English        ✖         ✔         ✔         ✖       ✔        ✖
                                                       Greek <=> English         ✔         ✔         ✔         ✔       ✔        ✔
                                                       Italian <=> English       ✔         ✔         ✔         ✔       ✔        ✔
Systran’s translation software and services            Japanese <=> English      ✔         ✔         ✔         ✔       ✔        ✔
are the most popular choice for Web sites              Korean <=> English        ✔         ✔         ✔         ✔       ✔        ✔
                                                       Norwegian <=> English     ✖         ✔         ✖         ✖       ✖        ✖
How good are they?                                     Portuguese <=> English    ✖         ✔         ✖         ✖       ✖        ✖
We        used         Google,        Systran,         Russian <=> English       ✔         ✔         ✔         ✔       ✔        ✔
Dictionary.com, AltaVista and FreeTrans-               Spanish <=> English       ✔         ✔         ✔         ✔      ✔✔        ✔
lation.com to translate a snippet of a
popular French song into English. We
then translated the output back into                  then, he liked, on this beach, and in this             You’d probably get the idea from
French and then back into English, just               storm, he disappeared. And J? shouted,             these translations that Systran, Free-
to see what the sites would come up                   shouted! for the qu? it turns over. And I          Translation.com and all the others do a
with.                                                 cried, cried, the OH! J?avais, too much pain.”     terrible job. But remember that prose,
     The snippet in French was: “J’avais                   AltaVista’s Babel Fish translation            especially simple sentences, get translat-
dessiné, sur le sable, son doux visage, qui me        service also uses Systran’s Internet trans-        ed much better than poetry and the like.
souriais. Et puis, il a plu, sur cette plage, et      lation technology to translate text and            Also remember that we got the results
dans cet orage, elle a disparu. Et j’ai crié,         Web pages, and thus gave the exact same            above by translating from French to Eng-
crié! “Alline!” pour qu’elle revienne. Et j’ai        output as Google.                                  lish, then back to French and back again,
pleuré, pleuré, Oh! J’avais trop de peine.”                FreeTranslation.com’s machine trans-          just in order to see how well the final
     Here’s what it means when translated             lator came up with: “I had drawn, on the           translation would come out. The results
by a competent human translator: “I drew              sand, his soft face, that smiled me. And           are much better for a single one-way
her sweet face, which smiled at me, upon the          then, it pleased, on this beach, and in this       translation.
sand. And then it rained on this beach. And           storm, she disappeared. And j’s’ screamed,
in this storm, she disappeared. And I cried           screamed! “Alline!” for qu’ she returns her-       Future speak
out, “Alline!” so she’d come back. And I cried,       self. And cried j, cried, Oh! J’avais, the too     With better speech recognition and
cried. Oh! I am hurting so much.”                     much penalty.”                                     translation software being developed, we
     Google came up with: “I had drawn,                    Dictionary.com offers many more lan-          could soon have only geographical barri-
on sand, his soft face, which smiled I. And           guages to translate between, but our pas-          ers separating us. IBM is developing a
                                                                         sage was just as badly          Multilingual Automatic Speech to Speech
                                                                         translated. It came up          Translator (MASTOR), allowing people
Trekkie translation                                                      with: “I had drawn, on          who do not share a common language to
Calling all Trekkies! There is a Web site that has translation serv-     sand, his soft face, which      communicate. If you have a laptop with
ices for alien languages from Star Trek—namely Klingon, Vul-             smiled I. And then, he liked,   the software loaded, you can talk into the
can and Romulan. You can convert from these to English or                on this beach, and in this      microphone, and the laptop will trans-
vice versa. Now you can watch the reruns and understand                  storm, he disappeared. And      late and speak to your audience in their
what the Klingons and Romulans are saying. Try it at                     j&#8217; shouted, shouted!      native tongue, and vice versa.
http://startrek.t35.com:8000/php/entrans.php                             &#8220;Alline!& #8221;              Technology and software that can
                                                                         for qu&#8217; he turns          recognise your speech, your tone of voice
                                                                         over. And I cried, cried, the   and mood, are also being developed.
                                                                         OH! J&#8217;avais, too          Once perfected, all we will ever need
                                                                         much pain.”                     is our laptops on our travels abroad.
                                                                             Systran’s translation       The software will convert whatever we
                                                                         was the best: “I had            write, speak and hear into any language
                                                                         drawn, on sand, his soft        accurately.
                                                                         face, which smiled I. And           For now, those of us who are inter-
                                                                         then, he liked, on this         ested in all things alien, can use the cur-
                                                                         beach, and in this storm,       rent online services for basic translation
                                                                         he disappeared. And I           needs and wait for them to evolve. Till
                                                                         shouted, shouted! “Alline!”     then, we have no choice but to live with
                                                                         so that it turns over. And I    the imperfections of current machine
  Translation tools that will help while navigating in space             cried, cried, the OH! I had,    translators.
                                                                         too pain.”                                            ROBERT SOVEREIGN-SMITH

           230                                                                                                                            JUNE 2003
insight ■
              ■   quick start

Watch your shares
      haring folders over a LAN and          Add/Remove Programs > Windows Setup >            some of the shared folders, or share
      accessing other’s shared folders is    System Tools.                                    more folders. For each folder, Net-
      quite easy. If                                                                          Watcher will show you a list of people
you do not main-                                                                              connected to it, and the files they are
tain      discipline                                                                          working with.
with your sharing                                                                                  The third view shows the complete
habits, you may                                                                               list of open files on your system across
end up sharing                                                                                shares and users. An interesting option
dozens of folders                                                                             for people on a LAN with Windows NT
from all over your                                                                            or 2000 servers is NetWatcher’s ability
system. Keeping                                                                               to connect to the server and display
tabs on what fold- Which shared folder has the highest traffic?                               the activity on the server.
ers are shared and                                                                                                      If you run Win-
who is accessing them is rather difficult,                                                                          dows 2000, or XP
if all you have is Windows Explorer.                                                                                on your computer,
     Windows 98, 2000 and XP all have                                                                               there is no Net-
utilities to help you manage your shared                                                                            Watcher applica-
resources and track their usage. As far as                                                                          tion to be found.
the Windows file-sharing system is con-                                                                             Instead,     similar
                                                                                                                    functionality can
                                                                                                                    be accessed via
                                              Keep tabs on people picking up your files                             Control Panel >
                                                                                                                    Administrative Tools
                                                   When you run NetWatcher, you will          > Computer Management > Shared Folders.
                                              be presented with a list people that are             The Shared Folders snap-in has no
                                              currently connected to your
                                              computer, and the resources
                                              they are using. You can select
                                              any of the people listed here
                                              and disconnect them. A
                                              forced disconnect will termi-
                                              nate all file transfers, or
                                              printing tasks immediately.
                                              However a disconnection
                                              does not impose a ban on
                                              that user. He can reconnect
                                              and start transferring files or
                                              printing again.
Install NetWatcher from your Windows 98            The second view in Net-
CD ROM                                        Watcher will show you the
                                              list of shared folders on your
cerned, there are three objects to be         computer. From this view, Windows 2000 and XP offer unified computer management
managed—the list of shared resources,         you can choose to un-share including shares
people connected to these resources and
the specific files opened, or printers                                                        toolbar to perform actions, but every-
used. On Windows 98, NetWatcher lets                                                          thing that you do in NetWatcher can be
you keep track of, and manage, all three.                                                     done via the context menu. Right-click
      NetWatcher is not installed with the                                                    on any object to get a list of actions pos-
default configuration of Windows 98. If                                                       sible with that object, including discon-
it is not in your Start > Programs > Acces-                                                   necting users, adding and removing file
sories > System Tools menu, then you          The global perspective on every file accessed   shares etc.
must install it from Control Panel >          on your computer                                                              SUMOD HAJELA

          231                                                                                                                  JUNE 2003
insight ■
               ■   troubleshooting

  Get your vaccinations here for bogus clock speeds, dirty fans, BIOS flashing, Linux problems, dual OS
                                    installations and much more...

Compulsory activation                            taken back to the Window where you acti-
    My PC runs three operating systems—          vate Windows. If you get the later win-
Windows XP, Windows 2000 and                     dow, then you can carry on with the acti-
Windows 98. A few days ago, during               vation process and if you have any issues
reboot, I was asked to activate Windows          getting it done over the Internet, you can
XP. I tried to do so online, but it showed       contact Microsoft India’s toll free number
me the error message ‘Online Services            and get it activated over the phone.
temporarily unavailable’. I then formatted
the old partition, and installed the OS on       Flashy BIOS
a different partition. After a few days, I got        I have a Pentium III 733 MHz proces-
a pop-up box asking me to activate               sor on a Mercury KOB 815e FSX mother-
Windows, again. Strangely, after pressing        board. I recently downloaded an update          Take a backup of the BIOS before updating it.
the OK button, it never asked me to acti-        for my BIOS. As per the instructions, I cre-
vate again. What could be wrong?                 ated a DOS disk, copied the flash utility       A:\AMIFLASH xxxxxx.bin or A:\AWARDFLASH
Tamilarasan                                      into it and ran it after restarting. It         xxxxxx.bin. Here, xxxxxx.bin is the name of
                                                 prompted me to provide the necessary            the BIOS file. Press [Enter], and follow the
                                                 ‘File Name to Program’. Since I did not         instructions. After you are done, remove
                                                 know the name of the file, I just typed the     the floppy and restart the machine. This is
                                                 model number of the motherboard, and            the correct way to flash the BIOS. Howev-
                                                 the name of the updated file as the source      er, before you do this, please refer to the
                                                 file. It made me wait for more than a half      motherboard users manual and see if a
                                                 an hour, after which I had to restart again.    corrupt BIOS flash can be recovered by set-
                                                 Before the memory test, it showed an            ting any jumper on the motherboard. If it
                                                 error in the BIOS. Please help.                 can be done, please recover the BIOS,
                                                 Rejin Ravi                                      reboot the computer and check if it is
                                                                                                 working fine. Then shut down the com-
                                                     Updating the BIOS is always a danger-       puter and perform the instructions men-
                                                 ous affair and the error you get is due to an   tioned above to flash the BIOS properly. If
Manually activate Windows to get updates         improper update. It is advisable to take a      however, the corrupt BIOS cannot be
                                                 backup of the BIOS. Also, before upgrad-        recovered and your system remains unus-
    It seems that you have already activat-      ing, make sure you have downloaded the          able, then you will need to contact your
ed your copy of Windows XP. You can ver-         right version for your motherboard. In          system vendor to get this issue resolved.
ify this to be sure. To do so manually, go to    your case, go to http://www.kobian.com/
Start > Run and type ‘oobe/msoobe /a’. If        dl_mb_get.php for the latest version. Unzip     A backup number
Windows XP is activated, then you will           the contents to a floppy, and configure the         Can you please tell me how to take a
get a window say that the product is             first boot device to Floppy in the BIOS. On     backup of my data in Tally using Nero?
already activated. If not, then you will be      restarting the machine, type the following:     Saura

          232                                                                                                                        JUNE 2003
                                                   Incompatible music player                         sion CDs. There are a few exceptional
                                                       I run Windows 2000 and use Nero               players that can read multi-session
                                                   5.5 to write my CDs. The problem                                CDs, but most do not
                                                   is that if I create a multi-session                              support this feature. You
                                                   MP3 CD, the songs recorded in                                     will have to buy a CD
                                                   the first session are read by my                                  player that reads multi-
                                                   CD player, while those record-                                    session CDs. You writ-
                                                   ed in second, or later sessions                                   ing at 8X speed is only
                                                   are not. I write at 8X speed.                                     going to matter if you
                                                   What is the problem and how can                                  are making an audio
To backup a company’s details, note its code       it be solved?                                                  CD(.cda audio files) as
number in Tally                                    Arindam Singha                ILLUSTRATIONS: Farzana Cooper  some players cannot recog-
                                                                                                               nise audio CD’s written at
    Locate the Tally data directory manu-              It is quite common for CD player’s            higher speeds. The core of the issue
ally, and copy the entire directory to the         to only recognise the first session, as it        here is multi-session CD’s which is not
Nero window. The default location of this          is not designed to handle multi-ses-              being recognized by your CD player.
folder is C:\tally\data. Press the Burn but-
ton, and that’s it.
     If you wish to copy just one company              You can also clear the temporary               To view pages offline, open an Internet
and not the entire directory, then first          files, cookies and uninstall unnecessary        Explorer window and on the Favourites
start Tally and note down the code num-           programs on the hard drive to get more          menu click on ‘Add to Favourites’. Select
ber shown beside the name of the com-             hard drive space. Otherwise, you will           the ‘Make available offline’ checkbox. To
pany, go to the data folder and copy all          need to get a new hard drive.                   update the page regularly, you can specify
the files with the same number.                        This problem can also be caused by a       a schedule and also the amount of content
                                                  virus. You need to run an anti-virus            to be downloaded for that page by clicking
Space-eating virus                                check with the latest virus definitions for     on Customize. Then follow the onscreen
     I use a Pentium 4 system with NT and         your software. In case you cannot update        instructions. Remember this will only save
Windows 98. After using Windows 98 for            your virus definitions, you can do an           the current Web page for offline viewing.
a while, I get an error saying, ‘Hard disk is     online scan by logging on to www.panda-         You can repeat this for all the web pages
full. Delete unwanted files or disk               software.com.                                   that you want to save.
cleanup’. I have 367 MB of free disk space,                                                            You can also use utilities such as
and have installed Norton AntiVirus, but          Extension confusion                             WebZip or WinMHT to download, and
the problem persists. What should I do?               Can you please tell me which program        save entire Web sites to your hard drive so
Manoj Nambiar                                     can play RM extensions, as I am unable to       that you can view them offline.
                                                  play downloaded songs with this exten-
    Windows NT and Windows 98 use sep-            sion? Also, what are files with the PHP         Reset your cookies
arate swap files. The default setting is set to   extension?                                          Whenever I try to log into the Yahoo!
‘Let Windows manage my virtual memory             Sandesh                                         Messenger, it shows an error message say-
settings.’ Since you are getting this error in                                                    ing, “Reset your cookies”. However, my
Windows 98, what you can do is specify                The RM extension for songs refers to        friends can log in from the same computer.
the amount of swap space to be used by            the Real Media format popularised by Real       What should I do?
Windows. You can do that by going to Start        Networks. Either download the latest Real       Shantanu Bhattacharya
> Settings > Control Panel > System > Perfor-     Player software from www.real.com, or get it
mance > Virtual Memory. Set the options as        from the Mindware CD we have provided.              The Yahoo! Messenger stores your
per your requirement. You will need to            The PHP extension is used for files con-        preferences as cookies on your comput-
restart the computer to save the settings.        taining scripts in PHP language. These files    er. Whenever you visit, or connect to
                                                  are used by software programmers to             their services, these cookies are sent back
                                                  design Web sites.                               to the Yahoo! server. Some even store
                                                                                                  sensitive information, such as your
                                                  Online, offline                                 password. Generally, these cookies are
                                                      I use Internet Explorer 6 SP1 as my Web     created and deleted automatically by the
                                                  browser. Recently, I haven’t been able to       messengers, as and when required. But
                                                  view Web pages offline. I can see the Web       sometimes due to some reason, the cook-
                                                  pages offline through history only just after   ies are not updated. This results in error
                                                  disconnecting from the Internet. But, when      messages. To solve this problem, you
                                                  I try to view the pages later, they do not      have to reset all cookies by deleting
                                                  open. I have tried reinstalling Internet        them. As you have not mentioned your
                                                  Explorer but that didn’t help. What should      operating system, you have to locate the
You can perform an online scan at                 I do to view pages offline?                     cookies folder. To do this go to Start > Find
Pandasoftware.com                                 Jodil Davis                                     > Files or Folders and type ‘cookies’. Press

           233                                                                                                                       JUNE 2003
insight ■
                ■   troubleshooting

‘Find Now’, and delete all the files that
are found.
                                                  Unauthorised modem                          4X, the card should run at 4X. To verify
Virus Attack                                          I have an 800 MHz Processor with 128    this download the latest 4-in-1 drivers
     I have a 10 GB hard disk with two par-       MB RAM and a Conexant Soft 56 Kbps          from the Via Web site and install it. Con-
titions. The second partition has a file          internal modem. I run Windows XP and        figure this utility and it will show you
named win386.swp. Can I delete the file?          Windows Me. Whenever I try to install the   the information about your mother-
      Another problem is that when I open         modem drivers in Windows XP, I get the      board including the AGP information.
the HTML files from my Web site in                message ‘Modem is not digitally signed’.
FrontPage, I get an error stating illegal         The modem drivers were working per-         Type mismatch
operation. When I open the same file in           fectly with Windows 98, and the problem         With reference to the January 2002
Notepad, it opens showing a new line.             started only after I upgraded the OS.       issue of Digit, whenever I type 'gpedit' in
The line appears to be some sort of VB            Pawan Sudedi                                the run command, it gives the message
script that I do not remember adding in                                                       ‘Windows cannot find gpedit, make
the file. When I removed the line, the                Microsoft has a laboratory called       sure you typed name correctly, and
HTML file started loading faster. What can        Windows Hardware Quality Laboratory
the problem be?                                   (WHQL) that tests drivers and digitally
Parimal Satyal                                    signs them. The purpose is to ensure
                                                  that the user gets drivers which comply
                                                  to a standard quality. The drivers that
                                                  are provided by manufacturers along
                                                  with the devices are the latest ones, and
                                                  in most of the cases are not tested by
                                                  Microsoft. The unsigned drivers are
                                                  recognised during installation in Win-
                                                  dows XP, due to which you get that error
                                                  message. Go ahead and install the driv-
                                                  ers by clicking on the ‘Continue any-
                                                  way’ button. Just make sure that you
                                                  download and install the latest WHQL
Certain viruses add lines of code to files        drivers from the device manufacturers
                                                  Web site as soon as they are available.     then try again. To search for a file, click
    Win386.swp is the Windows swap file.                                                      start button, and then click search’.
If you delete the file, Windows will recre-       The upgrade dilemma                             I also wish to know how to allow
ate it. But it is essential for Windows to            I have a Pentium III 800 MHz,           and deny access to the DOS mode
have this file as it will cease to boot if this   256 MB SD RAM, Creative Vibra 128,          using the registry. I use Windows XP
file is absent. The default setting is set to     ASUS CUV4X-E, GeForce4 Ti4200 128           Professional and have an administra-
‘Let Windows manage my virtual memo-              MB and a 10 GB 7,200-rpm hard disk.         tive account.
ry settings.’                                          My motherboard manual clearly          Gajendra S
     To change this, go to Start > Settings >     states its support for AGP 4X. But,
Control Panel > System > Performance > Virtual    when I connected the above men-                 What you need to type is ‘gpedit.msc’
Memory. Here set the option ‘Let Windows          tioned graphics chipset in the AGP          (you missed out the .msc file exten-
manage my virtual memory settings (Rec-           slot, it seemed to work in 2X mode.         sion). This command actually means
ommended)’ to Yes. Here, you can also             When I try to change it to 4X, nothing      Group Policy Editor, which controls the
specify a new partition, the minimum              happens. I have also checked the BIOS       administrative rights for the user.
swap file size and the maximum swap file          settings, which is set at AGP 4X. The           To deny access to MS-DOS Com-
size.                                             driver version is 31.00, which the latest   mand Prompt, follow these steps:
     Your second problem is caused by a           version available from MSI. Upgrading       Using Regedit find the key below:
virus called HTML.Redlof.A (also known            to version 43.45 might not help as I        HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Micr
as        VBS/Redlof@M,           VBS.Redlof,     might not be able to get the MSI tabs.      osoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Poli-
VBS_REDLOF.A and VBS/Redlof-A). It                Hardik Malekar                              cies\WinOldApp.
acquires control of your machine, and                                                             Create the key if it does not exist. To
modifies the registry and infects all the            You are right in assuming that           do this, right-click in the right pane of
.html, .htm, .asp, .php, .jsp and .vbs files      upgrading to driver version 43.45 may       the window, select DWORD Value,
with the line you found in your HTML file.        not have the MSI tabs. But that does not    name it ‘NoRealMode’ and modify the
Once a machine is infected, each e-mail it        impair the functionality of your video      value of NoRealMode to ‘1’. If you wish
sends will be infected with the virus.            card in any manner. You have not men-       to enable it in the future, you can do so
     Update your anti-virus package, scan         tioned the manner from which you have       by changing the value to ‘0’. Note that
the entire hard disk and delete all infect-       concluded that the card is running in       you need to reboot your PC for this
ed files. If you do not have backups of the       AGP 2X mode. Since, the BIOS is set to      restriction to come into force.
files, you will have to remove the VB script

           234                                                                                                                  JUNE 2003
                                                                                                amount of size. The difference in the disk
  Blurry monitor                                                     three OS’, the             consumption shown and as assumed by
      I have a Pentium III 866 MHz                                    problem rests             you is because you are not considering the
  CPU with 128 MB RAM. For the                                        either with your          size of the hidden files.
  past few months, I have noticed                                     display adapter,               In order to check if you are indeed
  that the display gets blurry a few                                   or your moni-            consuming 3.77 GB of space, in Windows
  minutes after I turn my computer                                      tor. First, try         Explorer go to View > Folder Options. Select
  on. This happen with all the three                                  uninstalling              ‘Show all files’ and press OK. Now go to
  OS I run.                                                          your                       the C drive, select all files and check the
       If I turn my monitor off for half                              display adapter           total usage of disk space by right-clicking
  an hour, I get a sharp picture for a                                    drivers and           on it and selecting Properties. This
  few seconds after I turn it on again.                                   then re-              will confirm the amount of space you
  Kindly suggest a solution.                                           install them. If         are using.
  Alip Kumar Saha                              the problem still persists, then get the
                                               picture tube of your monitor checked             DirectX misbehaving
     As the problem persists in all the        from your vendor.                                    I have a P4 1.7 GHz computer, 128 MB
                                                                                                DDR RAM, running Windows XP. I have a
                                                                                                problem running my games. I tried the
from each of the HTML files manually. If       startup time taken by Windows.                   DirectX diagnostic troubleshooting tool,
you miss even a single file, it will spread        Regarding your second query, it seems        and found that there is some sort of Direc-
again.                                         that your CMOS battery has drained out.          tX error. When I ran the Direct3D test, a
                                               Even though it shows the correct time, it        message is displayed saying, “You can-
Aging battery                                  will decrease over a period of time. We          celled the test by pressing a key”, even
    I have a Pentium 4 1.7 GHz with a SiS      recommend you to replace it.                     though I never touched any key. I installed
chipset motherboard, with Windows 98                                                            DirectX 8.1 from one of the earlier Digit
SE and 2000 installed. When I start my         Exaggerated disk usage                           CDs, but even that didn’t help. I tried to
computer in Windows 98, the logo                   I have a PC with Pentium 4 processor,        repair Windows XP, which solved the prob-
remains for a long time, but then the          845E mercury motherboard, 256 MB                 lem, but only for a few days. I have Win-
machine starts normally.                       RAM, 40 GB Seagate hard disk and                 dows XP and 2000, and the problem
     I also have another problem. The          Windows 2000 Professional. The problem           persists with both the operating systems.
CMOS system password works until an            is that my machine shows my disk usage           Please help me.
error occurs or I restart the PC. Then it      more then it actually is, i.e., I use 2.11 GB,   Suman
displays a message ‘CMOS checksum              but it shows that I use 3.77 GB. The parti-
error defaults loaded’. I think it is due to   tion size is 9.31 GB. Can you tell me why           It seems that some application is
the low power in CMOS battery, even            Windows extrapolates my disk usage?              modifying settings in your computer
though it displays the time correctly. What    Ramprasad                                        that is preventing or disabling DirectX
can be the problem?                                                                             from functioning properly. What you
Shiladitya Mohpatra                               Windows is not extrapolating your disk        can do is restore your computer using
                                               usage; in fact, your OS is showing the exact     the System restore feature. Then check if
    Normally, Windows loads applications                                                        DirectX functions properly, and if you
after the boot up process. If your PC takes                                                     are able to carry out the diagnostic tests.
a long time to start, it is because of the                                                      Then install the applications that you
device drivers and files loading in the                                                         normally would. Check after each appli-
background. You can also use the Mscon-                                                         cation or game installation, if the Direc-
fig utility in Windows to disable all back-                                                     tX functionality remains. If you face this
ground programs that may affect your                                                            problem after installing a game, then the
Windows startup time. After you have                                                            game is to blame. An easier way around
reached the Windows desktop, perform                                                            this is to download and install the latest
these steps below                                                                               DirectX 9. It will upgrade your version
     Click on Start > Run. Type ‘MSCONFIG’                                                      of DirectX and also fix any corrupted, or
to get a window with a title ‘System Con-                                                       missing files.
figuration Utility’. Click on the Startup
tab. Here you will see a list of programs
installed on your computer. These are                                                                        Send your computing
programs that load automatically when                                                                        problems to
Windows is started, and they keep run-                                                                       sos@jasubhai.com
ning in the background. Please clear all                                                                     or write to Digit,
the check boxes except for ‘ScanRegistry’                                                       D-222/2, TTC Industrial Area, MIDC,
and ‘SystemTray’, then click OK. The                                                            MIDC, Nerul, Navi Mumbai-400 706,
computer will now prompt you to restart.       Remember to select hidden files as well if you   and we may answer it here!
This should help you reduce some of the        want to know the exact hard disk space usage

          235                                                                                                                    JUNE 2003
insight ■
        ■   tips and tricks

                                                                We dissect two of the best Web browsers          41
                                                                that serve to tame the Internet experience:
                                                                Opera and Mozilla take up the Web
                                                                gauntlet and teach Internet Explorer a trick
                                                                or two. With features galore, we show you
                                                                how to get the best of the two
                                     IMAGING:   Atul Deshmukh

        For Windows and Linux
        Opera 7.10 with Java
        Mozilla 1.3

        For Windows
                                                                                      42   Opera
        Plug-ins for both browsers
                                                                                      45   Mozilla

      237                                                                                            JUNE 2003
     insight ■
                     ■     tips and tricks

                                   OPERA                                          a link and select-                                   thankfully, can
                                                                                  ing ‘Open in                  Press F11 for          be tweaked into
      Tabbed browsing, mouse gestures and a great                                 background                   the full-screen         a leaner inter-
         e-mail client Opera never looked better                                  page’—a better           mode toggle;                face. Right-click
                                                                                  feature as it lets       [Shift] + [F11] is the      on the Main
                                          advised. Note that you can              you browse the           small-screen mode,          Bar, click on
                                          always recall these saved Web           parent page while        for handhelds and           ‘Images only’,
                                          site sessions even while                the link opens           other small-screen          and         then
                                          browsing some other sites;              without disturb-         devices                     uncheck ‘Large
                                          File > Sessions > Insert Session will   ing you. Note that                                   images’. Right-
                                          take care of this.                      once a background tab fin-             click on it again and choose
                                                Next, press [Alt] + [P] to        ishes loading a Web page,              Left; then disable the Per-
                                          bring the Preferences dialog,           the text of the tab will               sonal Toolbar by right-click-
                                          and head to File > Preferences >        change colour to indicate              ing on it and selecting ‘Off’.
                                          Start, and Exit. Then click on          this.                                  Switch off the Hotlist by
                                          the ‘Show startup dialog’                    You can browse between            pressing [F4].
                                          check-box. This will show               tabs using the [Ctrl] + [Tab]               Go to View > Status Bar >
                                          the startup dialog box every                                                   Bottom, View > Page Bar > Top,
                                          time you boot into Opera.                                                      View > Address Bar > Top, View
                                          This box allows you to main-                                                   Navigation Bar > Auto. You can
         ILLUSTRATIONS:   Mahesh Benkar   tain multiple sessions and                                                     drag-and-drop elements to
                                          eliminates the frustration                                                     the toolbars. We will do so
        Multiple sessions                 associated with a browser                                                      for the Address Bar. Right-
     You can start your browsing          crash—you can start brows-                                                     click on it and choose ‘Cus-
     experience with the same set         ing at exactly the point                                                       tomize toolbars’. You will
     of Web sites every time by           where the crash occurred—a              Done rendering background tab          find three tabs here, Large,
     saving those sites as a session.     very useful feature.                                                           Small and Fields. The last tab
     This done, you can ask Opera               The default path for the          combination. You can also              is where you will find search
42   to start with your saved ses-
     sion whenever you boot the
                                          saved sessions is:
                                                Windows            2000/XP:
                                                                                  use the mouse to do this:
                                                                                  Keep the right-mouse button
                                                                                                                         options—Zoom and Status
                                                                                                                         field. Let us add the Google
     browser. For example, if you         C:\Documents and Settings\              pressed and use the scroll             search field to the Address
     visit a Web-based e-mail and         <login        name>\Application         button to move up and                  Bar. Just click on it and drag
     a few news sites, open them          Data\Opera\Opera7\                      down the list of tabs.                 it to the bar. Note that it is a
     and click on File > Sessions >       profile\sessions\opera.win                   Any active window, such           drop-down field and an
     Save session. A session is saved           Windows 95/98: C:\ Win-           as a tab, can be closed by             especially useful search crite-
     with a .win extension. You           dows\Application Data\Opera\            pressing [Ctrl] + [W]. You can         rion is the ‘Find’ in page
     can save this file anywhere,         Opera7\sessions\opera.win               close all open tabs by press-          search, which highlights
     but the default location is                                                  ing [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [W]. To         keywords within the Web
                                              Tabbed browsing                     close all tabs but the one you
                                          Opera comes with a great                are browsing under, press
                                          tabbed browsing feature. To             [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [W]. You can
                                          use this, first ensure that the         also change the position of
                                          Page Bar is enabled; View >             the tabs by dragging and
                                          Page Bar > Top should do this.          dropping them wherever
                                          Call a new tab by either                you deem them to be fit.
                                          pressing [Ctrl] + [N] or by dou-
                                          ble-clicking on an empty                   Clothes that make the
                                          Page Bar area. You can also             browser                              You can drag and drop toolbars
     You can recover your crashed         open a tab in the back-                 The default user interface of        to customise the Opera UI
     browsing sessions from here          ground by right-clicking on             Opera is a space-hog but

                238                                                                                                                         JUNE 2003
page as you type in the field.       password’ for added security.                                           you back to a site in the
                                     You can also change it when                                             history. If you have jumped
   Bound together                    Opera asks you for the pass-                                            from        Google.com          to
You can create copies of the         word, and when it asks                                                  Thinkdigit.com, you can
current page that you are            whether the same should be                                              rewind back to Google by
browsing. This enables you           used for both the e-mail client                                         pressing [Shift] + [Z]. Rewind
to maintain a cloned copy of         and the Wand.                                                           takes you back a Web site, so
the page for cross-referencing                                                                               unless you have followed
or comparison. Right-click on           Download manager                 Opera supports searching            more than one link at
a page and select ‘Duplicate’        Opera comes with a down-            from the Address bar, find          Thinkdigit.com, you can
or press [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [N] to   load manager (Transfers) that       the appropriate alphabets           press [Shift] + [Z] to go instant-
do this.                             can pause, resume and               for engines here                    ly back to Google. Pressing
                                     retransfer a corrupted down-                                            [Z], on the other hand, would
   Magic Wand                        load. You can specify a default     the list of engines supported       take you just one page back.
Logging into Web sites is a          download directory. Press [Alt]     and the associative alphabet.       Note that [Shift] + [X] takes
much simpler task, thanks to         + [P] > Programs and Paths and      Here, you can also change           you forward in a similar vein.
the Wand feature—a pass-             the relevant pane can be            the number of results dis-
word and forms manager. Log                                              played per page.                       Slideshow
in to a site and let Opera save                                              To use the Address Bar for      In a Web site that has a lot of
your username and password.                                              a Google search, press [F8] and     images linked in a continu-
When you next come to the                                                precede a query with a g, eg:       ous manner (eg. a site that
same site, the login boxes will                                          g X-Men movie Web site              displays family photos or
be bordered golden. Press                                                [Enter], will search for the ‘X-    screenshots of games), you
[Ctrl] + [Enter] at the login                                            Men…’ string in Google.             can use the Slideshow feature
screen and Opera will fill the                                                                               of Opera to enjoy the pic-
requisite personal informa-          Choose a default path to               Forward rewind                   tures better. The FastForward
tion and automatically login.        download all files to                  When viewing a page with no      button displays photo files
     All Wand passwords can                                                 user forward history, Opera      on the Web in a slideshow.
be cleared from Delete private
data on the File menu. Your
                                     found on the right. You can will try to detect a possible
                                     also choose external pro- forward link that you can
                                                                                                             To see photos full-screen on a
                                                                                                             black background, press [F11]
usernames and passwords are          grams for viewing the source access. The Forward icon will              to invoke Opera’s presenta-
scrambled by the Wand before         code of a page, etc here. Press change into a FastForward               tion tool OperaShow.
they are saved to disk. Howev-       [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [T] to quickly call icon when this is possible.
er, for added protection you         the Transfer window.                   Certain Web sites, mostly           Reload time
may set a master password in                                                forums and search engines,       Opera can reload a Web site
Opera's Security preferences.            Search me                          have a single link at the bot-   after a user-specified time.
Press [Alt] + [P] and go to the      Opera        supports       several tom that takes you to the           Right-click on a Web page and
Security section of the Prefer-      search engines. You can next page of posts. Try it with                 go to Reload every > Enable. Note
ences dialog box. Click on ‘Set      either type in a query into a search engine to go to the
password’ next to ‘Master            the search field—[Shift] + Next page link, or when read-
                                     [F8]—or you can use the ing a multi-page article. It can
                                     Address Bar to do the same. detect link-next elements,
                                     Every engine is associated and will perform checks to
                                     with a single alpha-                                find one if not.
                                     bet, thus Google                  Press [F12] for       Press     the
                                     gets a ‘g’, Down-                quick access to    spacebar       to
                                     load.com gets a 'w',          preferences, such     follow the link
                                     etc. Press [Alt] + [P]        as pop-up block-      to the next          Opera can automatically reload
You can enable or disable the        and go to the                 ing and disabling     post, or page.       a Web page after a set amount
Wand from here                       Search option for             GIF animations        Rewind takes         of time

           239                                                                                                                    JUNE 2003
     insight ■
                    ■   tips and tricks

     that you can also set a custom      background window. Here are          Keyboard shortcuts
     time to reload at, say, every 2     some of the gestures support-        Here is how you can use the keyboard to navigate and use Opera
     minutes and 30 seconds. The         ed by Opera, to use them: Click      more efficiently:
     Custom dialog box also lets         and hold right mouse button,
     you reload only if the Web page     move the mouse in the indi-           Command                                         Key combination
     has expired (as determined by       cated directions then release         Find text                                               [Ctrl] + [F]
     the site programmer).               the right mouse button.               Find next instance of text                                      [F3]
                                              Open new document                Find previous instance of text                       [Shift] + [F3]
        By proxy                              Move down                        Display context (right-click) menu                    [Ctrl] + [M]
     To set up a proxy server, press          Reload                           Preview page as if printed                                       [P]
     [Alt] + [P] > Network > Proxy            Move up and down                 Close all pages and exit Opera                         [Ctrl] + [Q]
     Servers. Add the address and             Restore or maximize              Enter a Web address                                             [F2]
     port number for the appropri-            window                           Paste and go                                           [Ctrl] + [D]
     ate proxy server type here and           Move up then right               Enter nickname for fast bookmark access              [Shift] + [F2]
     make sure that the check box             Minimise                         Go to parent directory                       [Ctrl] + [Backspace]
     is ticked. You can also disable          Move down then left              Go to next page in history (or Fast Forward)                     [X]
     proxy for certain addresses,             Duplicate window                 Go to previous page in history                                   [Z]
                                              Move down then up                File a page as new bookmark                             [Ctrl] + [T]
                                              Close document                   Save selected link as new bookmark           [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [T]
                                              Move down then right,            Manage bookmarks                               [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [B]
                                              or move right-left-right         Show transfers                                 [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [T]
                                                                               Set your preferences                                     [Alt] + [P]
                                         Note it down                          Set focus to address field                                      [F8]
                                         Opera lets you keep snippets          Set focus to search field                            [Shift] + [F8]
                                         of text from Web sites as             Check e-mail                                            [Ctrl] + [K]
                                         notes. For example, a partic-         Write new e-mail                                        [Ctrl] + [E]
                                         ularly interesting piece of           Go to next e-mail                                                 [J]
     Enter information on your proxy     news can be saved for pos-            Go to next unread e-mail                               [Shift] + [J]
44   server here                         terity as a note. To do this
                                         select any amount of text off
                                                                               Go to previous e-mail
                                                                               Go to previous unread e-mail
                                                                                                                                     [Shift] + [U]
     such as within a LAN, and           a Web page, right-click and           Reply to e-mail                                                  [R]
     can point Opera to an auto-         click on Copy to note ([Ctrl] +       Reply to all recipients of e-mail                     [Shift] + [R]
     matic proxy configuration           [Shift] + [C]). Notes can then        Recognize sender of e-mail as new contact                        [A]
     URL, if your ISP requires such      be accessed by pressing the           View all e-mail associated with sender                           [E]
     a setting.                          [F4] key, to invoke the Hotlist
                                         under the Notes section. You                                             here. It also provides a quick
        Mouse gestures                   can delete notes here and                                                listing of all the windows
     Mouse gestures are a novel way      create new ones as well. You                                             open (Windows), informa-
     to navigate the Web using           can also send a note via e-                                              tion on the Web page that
     Opera. For example, you can         mail by right-clicking on it.                                            you are browsing (Info), and a
     hold the right mouse button                                                                                  listing of all the links off a
     and draw an 'L' into a Web               The Hotlist                                                         Web page (Links).
     page to tell Opera                             The Hotlist panel is                                               If that is not enough, you
     to close it. Similarly,       Double-click     toggled by the [F4]                                           can customise this panel by
     you can hold a               on a blank        key. It is a reposito-                                        adding games, news pages,
     right-clicked mouse     page or press          ry of useful stuff—                                           dictionaries, etc. To show a
     over a link and         [Ctrl] + [Space]       Bookmarks, Mail,                                              Web page in the Hotlist,
     move the mouse          to go to your          Contacts, History                                             bookmark the page by press-
     down, then up to        home page              and Transfers can        You can play a game like Snake       ing [Ctrl] + [T] and select to
     open the link in the                           be accessed from         here, right inside the Hotlist       show it as a panel. You can

               240                                                                                                                      JUNE 2003
find more panels, specifically         Mail                                                   MOZILLA
designed for the slim, vertical     It is possible to import e-
layout that the Hotlist offers,     mails to Opera’s M2 e-mail         Claiming to be the fastest browser out there,
at http://my. opera.com/cus-        client, from earlier versions      Mozilla has lots of tricks up its sleeve, such as
tomize/panel/.                      of Opera, Outlook Express,
                                    Eudora, Netscape Mail (only                  an IRC and an e-mail client
   Bookmarks                        version 6 and 7), or any                                                          group messages
To file a bookmark, press           mailbox stored in the gener-                                                       from here.
[Ctrl] + [T], you can show the      ic mbox format, including
page under the Hotlist or on        older versions of Netscape.                                                        Popup
the Personal Bar here. You          Select File > Import > Mail to                                                 Windows
can also give a bookmark a          import your e-mail. You can                                               Those        annoying
Nickname. For example, by           import different accounts,                                               popup ads can be
giving Thinkdigit.com the           folders, settings and con-                                              turned off from Edit >
nickname of Home, you can           tacts. When importing from                                                   Preferences > Privacy
enter Home in the Address           Opera 6, the folder structure                                                 & Security > Popup
bar and Opera will take you         will be copied to My folder                                                 Windows. You can
to the Web site. Make sure          and the imported e-mails                                                 also define Web sites as
you do not assign a com-            will be saved to the Received                                          exceptions for both,
mon URL such as Microsoft.          folder.                              Image blocking                allowing and suppressing
A bookmarked site gets                  Quick reply is useful for     You can change the behav-        pop-up windows. Additional-
precedence over a URL. So           chat-like conversations. You      iour that Mozilla defaults to
typing Microsoft will take          can type a short text that will   for images. Image loading
you to Thinkdigit.com in            be appended to the top of the     can be turned off complete-
this case.                          original quoted message.          ly, image animations can be
     Manage your bookmarks          When you are viewing a mail,      forced to loop once or never,
by pressing [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [B].   type your message in the text
Note that deleted ones are          box and click on the Quick
stored in a Trash folder. You
can import bookmarks from
                                    reply button. This will send
                                    the reply to all the recipients
IE, Netscape, Mozilla, etc, over    of the original e-mail.                                            You can specify certain Web
here. You can also export your          Set up filters for My                                          sites, which Mozilla will allow
current bookmarks for backup        folders and Spam by right-                                         pop-up windows for.
or other purposes.                  clicking on a folder and
                                    then Properties. Click on                                          ly, Mozilla can play a confir-
                                    Add filter, Boolean operators     You can change default           mation and can display an
                                    are supported—you can             behaviour for images here        icon in the status bar, upon
                                    match your filters by com-                                         successful popup blocking.
                                    ponents such as Sender, To        or you can specifically ask
                                    header, or Entire mail. The       Mozilla to only load images         Form manager
                                    condition can be set to           that originate from the          To better fill out forms on
                                    ‘Contains’, ‘Doesn’t con-         server you are visiting—         Web sites, the Form Manger
                                    tain’, or ‘Matches regular        effectively       eliminating    can remember your personal
                                    expression’. When you are         advertisements and banners       information. Go to Edit > Pref-
                                    finished with each filter, set    that are hosted on other         erences > Privacy & Security >
                                    the filters to ‘And’ if your      servers. Go to Edit > Prefer-    Forms and click on the ‘Save
                                    messages must satisfy all         ences > Privacy & Security >     data from…’ check box. Fur-
Assign a nickname to a Web site     the filter terms or ‘Or’ if       Images to defines such intent.   ther more, you can also pre-
to visit it via the nick in the     they only need to match           Note that you can also block     fill personal details by
Address bar                         one of them.                      images in Mail and News-         clicking on the 'Manage

          241                                                                                                               JUNE 2003
     insight ■
                     ■   tips and tricks

                                                                                 right into the Sidebar.

                                                                                 The Sidebar can display
                                                                                 browsing History, your Book-
                                                                                 marks, and the search engines
                                           A master password can be used         amongst other things. These
                                           to effectively lock your sensitive    'other things' can be down-
     The Form Manager can store            data                                  loaded from http://dmoz.org/        Mozilla’s in-built IRC client can
     your personal data to better fill                                           Netscape/Sidebar/. There, you       be accessed with [Ctrl] + [F3]
     online forms                          also be tagged to a timelim-          will find calendars, games,
                                           it—useful if your PC is used          news, and reference sites. To       the channel.
     Stored Form Data' button.             by multiple users.                    add something to the Sidebar,          Also available is a down-
     Contact information, billing                                                click on its name, and a con-       load manager—Tools > Down-
     details and shipping particu-               Search                          firmation window will let you       load Manager—which lets you
     lars can all be separate sets Mozilla lets you perform a                    complete the process. The           pause and resume your down-
     of data, granting                      search on Google, amongst            Sidebar can be toggled on and       loads (double-click on a file to
     greater flexibility.                                    other popular       off by pressing the [F9] key.       do this) without the need for
         After you have            Type about:config         engines. You
     configured this,         in the address bar to          can type the
     you can save a rel-      get a comprehensive            text that you
     evant form's data        listing of all the             wish to search
     from Edit > Save         tweaks and under-              for    in    the
     Form Info and the        the-hood operations            Address      Bar.
     saved data can be        that Mozilla will let          This      should
     loaded by clicking       you play with                  bring down a
     on Edit > Fill in                                       drop-menu
     Form. You can                                           from       where                                        Pause and resume downloads,

46   select    which
     auto-fill here.
                          fields     to you can select the search
                                            engine and press [Enter].
                                                                                 The contents of the Sidebar can
                                                                                 be customised to suit your need
                                                                                                                     using the Download Manager

                                                To change the engine used,                                           an external manager. Howev-
         Password Manager                   go to Edit > Preferences > Naviga-                                       er, it cannot split a file into
     The Password Manager can tor > Internet Search; you can                     You can add, remove and             multiples for faster downloads.
     store your login information also choose to display search                  change the order of entries in
     for password protected Web results in the sidebar.                          the sidebar by right-clicking          Proxy server
     sites, mail and news servers.              If    you      choose     the    on the bar and selecting Cus-       You can define your network's
     You can turn on this option Advanced radio button of the                    tomize Sidebar.                     proxy server (if it has one)
     from Edit > Preferences > Privacy Sidebar Search Tab Preference,                                                under Edit > Preferences >
     & Security > Passwords. You can you can type in text to search                 Miscellaneous tools              Advanced > Proxies. If your net-
     also encrypt this stored data.                                              Mozilla comes bundled with          work uses a script for proxy
     Stored data such as passwords                                               an IRC client, press [Ctrl] + [3]   detection and switching, you
     can have a master password                                                  to invoke it. You can choose        can type the address of the
     acting as a safety mechanism.                                               from the default list of servers    script file under the Automat-
     This way Mozilla can confirm                                                that are tagged within the          ic proxy configuration URL
     your identity before auto-fill-                                             client or go to a personal          radio text.
     ing login information, and                                                  favourite by typing in the
     such. You can ask the brows-                                                address in the input line              Tabbed browsing
     er to ask you the master pass-                                              below. To join a channel type       Taking a page out of Opera,
     word the first time it is               You can change the search           ‘/join xyz’ in the input line,      Mozilla also allows opening
     needed or every time. It can            engine from here                    where ‘xyz’ is the name of          new Web pages onto tabs.

                242                                                                                                                        JUNE 2003
                                                                          file—Exit Mozilla,                                     Filtered
                                                                          including Quick               The Windows         mail
                                                                          Launch, go to            version of Mozilla       You can set up
                                                                          your profile folder      can notify you of        filters for e-mail
                                                                          (see the Who am          new messages if          messages. Start
                                                                          I? box for further       Mail or News is          the         e-mail
                                                                          information),            open. Go to Edit >       client, go to
                                                                          back      up      the    Preferences > Mail       Tools > Message
                                                                          prefs.js file in case    & Newsgroups >           Filters > New and
                                                                          of problems, and         Notifications            enter the appro-
Tabbed browsing in Mozilla is                                             Create (or edit)                                  priate informa-
not as appealing as it is in                                              the file user.js. Add this tion. You can filter by Subject,
Opera                                 Assigning a keyword to a            line to the file: user_pref(“net- Attachment, Sender, etc. Fil-
                                      bookmark acts as a nickname         work.protocol-handler.exter- tered messages can be moved
You can play with how this            for the address field               nal.mailto”, true).                  to another folder, labelled dif-
works under Edit > Preferences >                                              This will open the default
Navigator > Tabbed Browsing.          [Ctrl] + [B]) and select the        system e-mail program when
Click on ‘Load links in the           bookmark you want to set a          you click on an e-mail link in
background’ to open links in          keyword for. Click Properties       Mozilla.
the background tab. You can           or press [Ctrl] + [I] and enter a
also define a middle-click on         keyword for that bookmark.             Exporting mail
a link or a [Ctrl] + [Enter] in the   You will now be able to go to      Since Mozilla stores e-mail
address bar to open a tab by          that address by entering its       files in the standard plain text
default, instead of a new win-        keyword in the Mozilla             mbox format, almost all mail         Here any message from
dow. Tabs can be navigated by         address bar.                       programs can use or import it.       Programmers Heaven will be
using the [Ctrl] + [PgUp] and                                            Your e-mail files are inside         moved to the PH folder
[Ctrl] + [PgDown] keys. Tabs,            Browsing on speed               your profile (see Who am I?),
like any daughter window in           Go to Edit > Preferences > in the Mail and (if you use                  ferently, deleted, etc.
Mozilla, can be closed by
pressing [Ctrl] + [W].
                                      Advanced > HTTP Networking IMAP) ImapMail folders. Each
                                      and check Enable Pipelining. mail folder (Inbox, Sent, etc.)
                                                                                                                  Mozilla has automatic
                                                                                                              junk mail detection; some-
    Save sets of tabs as a group      Mozilla defaults this to ‘off’ as is stored as two files; one with      thing that can be helped by
bookmark by going to Book-            certain servers and proxies no extension (e.g. Sent),                   tagging spam messages as
marks > File Bookmark                 have problems with pipelin- which is the mail file itself (in           junk using the Junk Mail
([Ctrl]+[Shift]+[B]) and check-       ing, but when ‘on’, the mbox format), and one with a                    toolbar button. Tools > Junk
ing File as group. Now, when          browser fetches everything .msf extension (e.g. Sent.msf),              Mail Controls under the e-mail
you go to this bookmark, all          on the page in a                                   which is the         client can be evoked to
the tabs will open at once.           single     connec-          Open Mail/News         index to the         change spam settings.
    Multizilla is a Mozilla add-      tion, rather than          and go to Tools >       mail file. Tell
on that adds better tabbed            one connection          Import to import e-        the other pro-          Malicious e-mail
functionality to the browser.         per item, boost-        mail messages from         gram to import       JavaScript is switched off by
Get it at http://multizilla.          ing browsing per-       other mail clients         e-mail from the      default for mail and news, so
mozdev.org/. A stable version is      formance.                                          file with no         an e-mail cannot run script
slated to be out by the time                                                             extension.           code just by being opened.
you read this.                           A different mail                    If you want to transfer          Mozilla Mail will not allow a
                                      To make Mozilla use another an e-mail file to another                   virus or worm to execute
   Bookmark keywords                  e-mail program, you can either Mozilla profile or another               automatically. Attachments
Keywords are custom short-            install or re-install just the installation of Mozilla, simply          can be viewed without a virus
cuts to bookmarks. To set a           browser using the Custom put the e-mail file into                       being able to execute. You
keyword, go to Bookmarks >            installation method. Or you the             other     installation’s    would need to save an attach-
Manage Bookmarks (or press            can customise the profile Mail folder.                                  ment to your system and

           243                                                                                                                    JUNE 2003
     insight ■
                    ■   tips and tricks

     run it to cause                                    and create a           Keyboard shortcuts
     harm, if it is              You can export         new      profile.      Here is how you can use the keyboard to navigate and use
     a virus.                  your bookmarks by        Exit    Mozilla        Mozilla more efficiently:
                             pressing [Ctrl]+[B] to     (also     Quick
        Profiles             bring the Bookmark         Launch).              Command                                      Key combination
     Your profile is         Manager, then click-       3. Go to the          Close Window                                           [Ctrl] + [W]
     what        Mozilla     ing on Tools >             profile folders       Find                                                    [Ctrl] + [F]
     identifies      you     Export. Import in a        and copy all          Find Again                                                       [F3]
     with. It contains       similar fashion            files from the
                                                                              Find Links As You Type                          ['] (apostrophe)
     your bookmarks,                                    old      profile
                                                                              Find Text As You Type                                              [/]
     mail, news files, account set-         folder to the new profile
     tings, stored passwords,               folder, allowing existing         Open search engine page                       [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [F]
     address book, security certifi-        files in the new profile’s        Open Context Menu                                   [Shift] + [F10]
     cates and preferences. You             folder to be replaced.            Exit Mozilla                                           [Ctrl] + [Q]
     can set-up multiple identities      4. If you want to copy your          Start Navigator                                         [Ctrl] + [1]
     if others share your comput-           form data and passwords:          Start Mail & Newsgroups                                 [Ctrl] + [2]
     er. Mozilla will boot with             save some any form data
                                                                              Start IRC Chat                                          [Ctrl] + [3]
     the Profile Manager if                 and passwords in your
                                                                              Start Composer                                          [Ctrl] + [4]
     multiple profiles exist. Go to         new profile. Find the two
     Start > Programs > Mozilla > Pro-      numbered files with *.w           Start Address Book                                      [Ctrl] + [5]
     file Manager to add multiple           and *.s extensions in your        File a Bookmark                              [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [D]
     profiles.                              new profile’s folder. Find        Reload                                                  [Ctrl] + [R]
           For Linux: Open a shell          files with the same exten-        Select all text in Location Bar                         [Ctrl] + [L]
     prompt, cd to the Mozilla              sions in your old profile         Open Web Page Location                        [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [L]
     program directory and enter            folder, make copies of            Caret Mode (toggle)                                              [F7]
     mozilla -profilemanager.               them and rename them
                                                                              Full Screen (toggle)                                           [F11]
          To find out where your            so that the numbers
     profile is stored, look in the         match those of the files in       Zoom text Smaller                                        [Ctrl] + [-]
                                                                              Zoom text Larger                                        [Ctrl] + [+]
48   ‘Who am I?’ box.                       the new profile folder.
                                            Copy them to the new              New Navigator Tab                                       [Ctrl] + [T]
        Rescue me                           profile, replace files.           Switch to next Tab                          [Ctrl] + [Page Down]
     If your old profile has been        5. Restart the Profile Manag-        Switch to Previous Tab                         [Ctrl] + [Page Up]
     corrupted, follow these steps          er and start as the new           Sidebar (toggle)                                                 [F9]
     to rescue your data:                   profile. The contents of
     1. Note the name of the                your old profile should
         folder containing the old          now have been successful-           Add-Ons
         profile.                           ly restored to the new          VISIT HTTP://WWW.MOZDEV.ORG/
     2. Start the Profile Manager           profile.                        PROJECTS/ACTIVE.HTML

                                                                            FOR MORE ADD-ONS

      Who am I?                                                             MozBlog
      Mozilla creates profiles for storing various settings, passwords,     Blog with Mozilla while you
      etc. This information is located at different places for different    surf
      OSes; note that some of these files or directories may be hidden:     http://mozblog.mozdev.org/          Add Piemenu to Mozilla
      Windows XP/2000: C:\Documents and Settings\[Windows Login             Mouse Gesture Support
      Name]\Application Data\Mozilla\Profiles\[Profile Name]\[random        Navigate the Web using click-       Mozilla UI, piemenus reduce
      string].slt\                                                          and-drag mouse gestures             mouse movements and are
      Windows 95/98: C:\Windows\Application Data\Mozilla\                   http://optimoz.mozdev.org/          thus easier and faster to get
      Profiles\[Profile Name]\[random string].slt\                          gestures/                           used to
      Linux: ~/.mozilla/[Profile Name]/[random string].slt/                 Piemenus                            http://www.gamemakers.de/mozil
                                                                            A radical way to access the         la/radialcontext/

               244                                                                                                                    JUNE 2003
arcade I
              I reviews

             Strike Fighters: Project 1
             Iron Eagles
S   trike Fighters closely simulates a flight
    model that will make a fighter pilot
feel completely at home. There’s still
                                                                                               (Heads-Up Display) and gun predictor
                                                                                               sights et al are conspicuous by their
                                                                                               absence due to the vintage nature of the
some hope for the rest of us flightless                                                        planes. Thus, when we finally came
people, though.                                                                                across an enemy Mig, it managed to blow
     The game puts you in the cockpits of                                                      us into oblivion in a few seconds. Until
jet fighters from the 1960’s, such as the F-                                                   then, we did take in quite a bit of the
100 Super Sabre, F-104 Starfighter, A-4                                                        beautiful landscape and all the varied
Skyhawk and the F-4 Phantom I.                                                                 camera angles that the game offered. The
     There are four modes of play—               THE AMAZING RUBBER PLANE! - A crashed         graphics are excellent. Looking at the
                                                 fighter decides to hang around long after
Instant Action, Single Mission, Cam-                                                           plane glistening in the sun is a sight you
                                                 it's bitten the dust.
paign and Multiplayer. Firstly, a pilot                                                        won't forget too quickly.
needs to be created in the Pilot Record          between various aircrafts and ground              The gameplay and realism levels are
section. Here, you can choose the air            control. You’re presented with a vast         highly customisable. Occasional crashes,
force you’re going to represent.                 array of controls in an extremely realistic   and strange errors (witness a plane that
       Once you begin flying, the full           cockpit—the plane is near-impossible to       never knows when to stop) mar the expe-
impact of the game’s realism begins to hit       control with a keyboard. The electronic       rience to quite an extent. Still, this sim-
you. Messages are constantly exchanged           tools such as radar screens, full HUD         ulator does its job well.

Genre: Flight Simulator I Developer: Third Wire Productions I Distributor: e-xpress Interactive Pvt Ltd I Phone: 022-28870017
Web site: www.thirdwire.com Price: Rs 699 I System requirements: 400 MHz CPU, 128 MB RAM, 3D accelerator, 500 MB hard disk space, CD-ROM
drive, Windows 9x\2000\Me\XP, DirectX 8.1 I Rating: ###$$

           All your credits are belong to us…
C    irca 1998. Microsoft decides to team
     up with Digital Anvil to remake the
veritable genius of Elitefor the current gen-
                                                                                               stronger shields, faster thrusters, and
                                                                                               meaner enemies.
                                                                                                    The gameplay is also simplified to a
eration of gamers. The result is Freelancer—                                                   great extent—making navigation and ship
a space-combat-cum-trading game as fine                                                        control easy to learn. This makes the game
as its source of inspiration.                                                                  immediately accessible to all and sundry.
     You play the role of Edison Trent, an                                                     The game excels in recreating the universe
intrepid spacecraft mechanic who decides                                                       in a breathtaking manner. Nebulae, incred-
to make his fortunes as a pilot for hire. Los-                                                 ible jump holes, brilliant stars, asteroid
ing your ship, wealth and hope to an acci-                                                     belts and great music; all conspire to dis-
                                                 WHAT HAPPEN! - Somebody set us up the
dent, you find yourself drawn into the                                                         tract you from the great gameplay.
midst of a government conspiracy.                                                                   Freelancer is truly one of the best expe-
     Freelancer improves over the Elite          ing for adventures. Accomplish missions,      riences you’ll ever come across. It has the
series by including an engaging storyline.       earn credits and advance in levels to gain    ‘just one more mission’ attraction attached
Follow the storyline, or wander off look-        access to better ships, bigger guns,          to it, that is the hallmark of all good games.

Genre: Space combat I Developer: Digital Anvil I Distributor:Sujata Electronics I Phone: 022-22885096 I E-mail: sanjiv@sujata.net
Web site: www.microsoft.com/games/freelancer I Price: Rs 1,499 I System requirements: 600 MHz CPU, 128 MB RAM, 16 MB video card, 900 MB
hard disk space, 8X CD-ROM drive, compatible sound card I Rating: #####

          254                                                                                                                    JUNE 2003
arcade I
              I reviews

             A Word a Day
             Sugar-candy for word-o-philics

A    Word a Day (AWAD) is a slim,
     attractively-designed volume
that will be enjoyed by people
                                                                  The book is a collation of
                                                              the most interesting of the
                                                              daily e-mails sent to sub-
                                                                                                           The biggest complaint about AWAD is
                                                                                                      that it’s a small book. It doesn’t quite cut
                                                                                                      it as a reference for crossword or etymol-
who love words for words’ sake.                               scribers from www.word-                 ogy enthusiasts—because it only talks
It’s written by the people behind                             smith.org. It’s organized into          about 327 words.
the Wordsmith Web site. To quote                              interesting sections much                    Some of the example usages seem
the cover, “It’s a romp through                               like the newsletter—words               contrived. Also, AWAD is not written in a
some of the most unusual and                                  that make the spell-checker             style that is likely to make linguophiles
intriguing words in English”. If                              ineffective, words to describe          out of techies: it sometimes gives the
you are wont to be enchanted by                               people and so on. A typical             impression of having been quickly cob-
such words as ‘zephyr’, just for the                          page consists, apart from the           bled together from old pieces.
sound of it and the imagery it                                words and their meanings, of                 Nevertheless, browsing through it a
evokes, you should buy this book.                             a riot of diversions: etymolo-          random page at a time is fun; and when
Or, if you revel in knowing the cor-                    gy, an example of usage, an                   you read it like a regular book, it’s a laid-
rect term for something such as                   instance from history where the word                back, breezy stroll through word-nuggets.
‘defenestrate’ for ‘throw out the                 was used, a story related to the word and           AWAD's appeal lies in the sense of delight-
window'. Also, if you’re the kind that likes      a quote at the bottom of the page. The              ing in words that it gets across. However,
to drop a word here and there during a con-       quote collection is also pretty good, and           there aren’t too many who would care for
versation, and then explain it to everyone        includes quotes from Nietzsche, Mark                such pleasures, and this makes the book
around, you’ll find enough material here.         Twain and such.                                     unlikely to be picked up by most of us.

Publisher: Wiley Dreamtech India I Author: Anu Garg and Stuti Garg I Distributor: Prakash Books I Phone: 011-23243050/1/2
 I Fax: 011-23246975 I E-mail: sales@prakashbooks.com I Web site: www.prakashbooks.com I Price: Rs 149

Rating: ###$$

            Video Demystified
            A detailed dissection

U     nderstanding video is complex; for-
      tunately Video Demystified is a
well-researched book, but the array of
                                                   into the way current
                                                   digital video and
                                                   compression works.
                                                                                                                the basics right and move
                                                                                                                onto advanced topics. The
                                                                                                                same topics covered here
technical intricacies covered here are                 The amount of                                            apply to newer techniques and
just mind-boggling. That’s not to say              technical data it                                            standards of compression,
that it should be avoided at all costs,            packs makes it good                                          such as DivX and Windows
but even for an avid enthusiast, this              reference      book,                                         Media codecs. The under-
book is far too extensive. For example,            rather than some-                                            standing of digital video that
there are more than 20 pages describing            thing you are likely                                         this book provides will help
and illustrating the technicalities of the         to read end to end.                                          you get the best out of these
different types of test signals used in            The two CDs includ-                                          technologies. The author
video.                                             ed contain a digital                                         knows what he’s talking about,
     The book starts with analog and               version of the text,                                         but most of us don’t want to
digital video basics, and the real world sit-      sample files for test-                                       know all the details. Simple
uations of broadcasting and recording.             ing your video and                                           PC-based editing applications
Standards and formats are discussed in             som