Digit Magazine - December 2005 Issue

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Digit Magazine - December 2005 Issue Powered By Docstoc
					         Editorial

         2006: Delivering On Dreams
                                                                     Bangalore. Forget about info parks. For
                                                                     the urbanites amongst us, it’s easy to
                                                                     forget that the real India lives in the
                                                                     villages. The implications of these new
                                                                     developments are immense. Imagine
                                                                     what happens when rural computer
                                                                     education is recognised for what it is: a
                                                                     billion-dollar industry. Imagine what
                                                                     happens when WiMax and pedal-
                                                                     powered laptops bring the Internet to
                                                                     villagers who don’t even have access to
                                                                     power. Imagine when suddenly, we as a
                                                                     country have a chance—and it is,
                                                                     admittedly, just a chance—to bridge the
                                                                     digital divide.
                                                                         On the other side of the planet, we
                                                                     are witnessing profound changes that
                                                                     go beyond Moore’s law. Google indexing
          Maulik Jasubhai Publisher                                  libraries. 64-bit personal computing
                                                                     taking off. VoIP phones everywhere.
                                                                     HDTV livening up the home. The arrival
                                                                     of Internet TV. Nanotechnology creating


                         L
                               AST MONTH, Nicholas Negroponte        products you and I can use. High-density
                               of the MIT Media Lab, with Kofi       optical discs coming to store shelves.
                               Annan, unveiled a prototype of the    Intensely immersive multi-player
                         much-awaited $100 laptop. In an             gaming, incredibly powerful and
                         interview, Ajay Chowdhry of HCL             versatile personal assistants, truly
                         discussed his plans to develop a PC that    digital workplaces! It all seems to be
                         can be powered by pedalling—meaning         happening now!
                         you’d no longer need to worry about             My personal favourite is the
                         regular electric supply.                    possibility that newer games with
                             In the past twelve months, we have      increased complexity and the ability to
                         also seen new stories about the             create truly immersive experiences will
                         Simputer—an extremely economical            make us more intelligent. One theory
                         handheld computer—and the e-Choupal         goes that games such as SimCity and
                         initiative, which places Internet-enabled   Grand Theft Auto actually teach us new
                         computers in rural areas. E-Choupal is      skills, without us realising that we are
                         used by farmers to get better weather       learning them. They teach us to make
                         forecasts and better prices for their       simultaneous decisions which are
                         grains. Then there’s Intel’s “community     obvious to the situation as well focus on
                         PC” initiative, as well as their WiMax      the macro issues of the overall objective.
    Imagine what         initiative in Uttaranchal. Think about      Surely these are skills that are not the
                         Project Shiksha, for that matter, which     exclusive domain of simulated environs.
   happens when          aims at making the masses IT-literate.          On both sides of the planet, 2006
                         What happens when you have an entire        could well be the tipping point in mass
WiMax and pedal-         new generation that is tech-savvy?          rollout of tech.
                             These sound like interesting stories,
 powered laptops         and they pique common urban
                         curiosity. However, one can’t dismiss
bring the Internet       such news as merely interesting. These
       to villagers      events are the rumblings of something
                         seismic waiting to happen. Forget about
                                                                    Tell Us What You Feel About Digit                                Advertisers’ Index
                                                                    Each month, Digit walks through the
    YO U R T EC H N O LO GY N AV I G ATO R                          technology maze to bring you the most                           Client                                         Page
                                                                    relevant, most researched stories. If you have
    December 2005 • Volume 5 • Issue 12                                                                                             Acer ................................168,169, 171
                                                                    an opinion about anything published in Digit,
    Chairman                                                        or about technology in general, please write to
                                                                                                                                    Adline..............................................91
    Jasu Shah                                                       editor@thinkdigit.com
    Printer, Publisher and Editor                                                                                                   Altec................................................21
    Maulik Jasubhai                                                 Product Testing
    President and Publishing Director                                                                                               Canon ............................................59
    L Subramanyan
                                                                    Want your product reviewed by Digit?
                                                                    Contact our Test Centre at:                                     Citizen ............................................13
    Editorial                                                       testcentre@jasubhai.com
    Associate Editor Deepak Ajwani                                                                                                  Cricket Today ................................159
    Deputy Features Editor Aditya Kuber
    Copy Editors Robert Sovereign-Smith,                            Software On DVD/CD                                              DB Power ......................................165
    Ram Mohan Rao, Renuka Rane                                      To submit and suggest software for                              Dell ............................................14-15
    Writers Mithun Kidambi, Preethi Chamikutty
                                                                    inclusion in the Digit DVD or CD, contact us
    Test Centre                                                     at: cdcontent@jasubhai.com                                      Enjay ..............................................37
    Deputy Head Deepak Dhingra
    Reviewers Sanket Naik, Jayesh Limaye,
                                                                                                                                    Gayatri ............................................57
    Anup Nair                                                       Help!                                                           HCL ........................Inside Back Cover
    Coordinator Gautami V Chalke                                    For any subscription or copy-related issues,
    Design                                                          send an e-mail to help@jasubhai.com                             Hitachi ............................................63
    Creative Head Kabir Malkani                                     You may also contact the following
    Head - Editorial Design Solomon Lewis                           executives for local queries:                                   IIT Kharagpur ................................161
    Senior Designer Shivasankaran C Pillai                          Bangalore: Marshall S (09341809286)                             Intex ..............................................79
    Designers Vijay Padaya, Sivalal S, Pradip                       Chennai: L R Laxmanan (044-33629283)
    Ingale, Vikram Kathare, Chaitanya Surpur,                                                                                       Jet Airways............................39,41,43
    Shrikrishna Patkar                                              Delhi: Puja Punj (011-51608659)
    Photographers Jiten Gandhi, Sandeep Patil                       Hyderabad: Norbert Joseph (09396229281)                         Kunhar Peripherals ..................71,73
    Coordinator Rohini Dalvi                                        Kolkata: Jayanta Bhattacharyya
    Multimedia                                                      (09331829284)                                                   LG ............................................Cover
    Content Coordinator Robert Sovereign-Smith                      Mumbai: Arpita Ganguli (022-27629200)                           Man’s World ..................................155
    Sales                                                           Pune: Sachin Kamble (09372429280)
    Vice-President, Sales Vijay Adhikari                                                                                            Microsoft ........................................69
    GM, Consumer Sales Saurabh Pandey
    Head, Non-IT Sales Bhavesh Thakor                               Endorsements/Reprints                                           NEC ................................................74
                                                                    Interested in ordering article reprints, or
    Marketing                                                       using our logos?                                                Neotech ..........................................23
    Brand Head Nabjeet Ganguli
    Brand Executive Rohini Krishna                                  Contact: rohini_krishna@jasubhai.com                            Nikon ..............................................7
    Marketing Communication Mona Talati,
    Elizabeth Jacob, Thomas Varghese, Raj Vora                                                                                      Pinnacle ..................96,97,99,101,103
    Ad-sales Coordination Ramesh Kumar
                                                                    Digit Patron
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    Production and Logistics                                        Register for the Digit Patron programme at
    Head Operations Shivshankar Hiremath                            thinkdigit.com/digitpatron, or send an                          Romonov ........................................19
    Managers (Production) Harish Suvarna,
    Shiv Hiremath                                                   e-mail to: digitpatron@jasubhai.com                             Rooman ..........................................77
    Deputy Managers
    Mangesh Salvi, Prashant Nair                                    Disclaimer: For every Digit contest, there will be only         Samsung ..........................................4
    Production Executive Ravindra Dighe                             one winner, unless specified otherwise. In the event
    Logistics Anant Shirke, M P Singh,
                                                                                                                                    Seagate ................................28-29,31
                                                                    of a dispute, the Editor’s decision shall be final
    Vilas Mhatre, Sriram Iyer, Mohd. Ansari                                                                                         Seagate............................195-196,197
    Shashi Shekhar Singh
    Audience Development                                                                                                            Sony................................................45
    Assistant Manager Puja Punj, Krishna Kurup            Product Index                                                             The Week ......................................157
    Digit Patron Cell Ghazala Siddiqui
    Executives Neha Patel, James D’Souza                      New and Notable                                                       Topgun............................................35
    Circulation — Sales
    Head Sunder Thiyagarajan                                  Adobe InDesign CS2                                 95                 Viewsonic ........................Back Cover
    Coordinator Arun Kumar
                                                              Apple iPod nano                                    95                 Webex ......................................93,108
    Customer Service                                          Kodak EasyShare V530                               94
    Coordinator Arpita Ganguli                                                                                                      Xerox ..............................................61
    Amarjit Kaur, Radha Kathare                               Logitech G7 Laser Cordless Mouse                   94
    Head Office: Editorial, Marketing                         MSI NX7800 GTX 256 MB                              94                 X-serve ..........................................167
    & Customer Service                                        Samsung SGH-E530                                   95
    Plot No D-222/2, TTC Industrial Area, MIDC
    Shirvane, Nerul, Navi Mumbai 400 706
    Phone: +91 022-27629191/9200
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    Model Sania Mirza


6   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                             220 221 222 223 224 225                           226        227 228
     Enter                 Digital Passion

                                      25 Concocting Dreams
                                      Much of what they depict in
                                      the movies these days—
                                      including those from
     16                               Bollywood—doesn’t come
     What does                        straight from the camera. Find
     singer Shaan                     out what goes in between!
     have to say
     about gadgets
     and                                                                 32 The Future Is Paper
     technology?                                                         Forget about the paperless office. You’re
     Find out in                                                         going to see more and more paper around
     Celeb Geek                                                          you—only, it’ll be electronic
     22
     Yet another
     browser, you’d
     say, but Flock is
     our buzzword
     for a reason

     24                  38 The Battle Of The Blue
     Get the When,       You’ve probably heard about the battle over
     What, Where,        next-gen, high-capacity DVD formats. But
     Why, Who and
     How of Web 2.0      what are the differences? Who will rule? We
                         answer these questions and more



                                                                   Contents Magazine
     46 The ZERO1 Awards                                                 Digital Tools
                                                                        117 Buyer’s Guide
                                                                        Spanning 22 categories of products, our
                                                                        Buyer’s Guide tells you what you need to
                                                                        judge your new hardware/software by and
                                                                        what to look out for. It also gives you insights
                                                                        into the products themselves

                                                                        75 Towards Comfort
                                                                        Back aches, hurting fingers, etc. due to
                                                                        computer use means you haven’t paid
                                                                        attention to ergonomics. We show you how to
                                                                        enhance your productivity by getting the
                                                                        basics right




    The votes are in, it’s time to applaud the winners of the coveted
    ZERO1 awards. Find out what hardware and software figure in
    our definitive list of the best tested products of this year

8    DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
 Digital Business

   163 Shifting Spaces
   Here’s about dotcoms that decided to get down
   on the ground to reach a wider audience. Why
   did they do it? What has this done for them as
   online brands?




                                                                                               166 Wiki At Work
                                                                                               The wiki is a new, fast way of collaborating at work
                                                                                               and sharing information. Get the why and how of
                                                                                               setting up your own office wiki. The best part is, it
                                                                                               won’t cost you anything!

173 Trend
Integrated security solutions is what many offices today                                       170 Face Off
are opting for. We spoke to a few companies to take                                            The Linux versus Windows debate continues into
stock of this trend                                                                            the server space in this month’s Face Off




                                                                                    December 2005
 Digital Leisure                                                                 200 Tech Critique                                                          Escape
                                                                                 It’s easily the most awaited game of the
193 Accelerating IT Literacy                                                     year. Quake 4 will surely have you asking for                              205
Can India become a nation of computer                                            more. A blockbuster yet again!
literates? Project Shiksha plays catalyst by
training teachers in basic computer skills


                                                                                                                                                            A brief
                                                                                                                                                            introduction to
                                                                                                                                                            Brin and Page,
                                                                                                                                                            creators of the
                                                                                                                                                            world’s best
                                                                                                                                                            search engine

                                                                                  195 Hi-tech Products                                                      205
                                                                                  Take a look at these drool-worthy                                         Would you want
                                                                                                                                                            a technology that
                                                                                  electronic goods, and you’ll rue the                                      makes sure that
                                                                                  fact that you’re not a millionaire a                                      you see no skin?
                                                                                  few times over!

           Three Incredibly Useful Sites ..........18             Tips & Tricks ....................................81     Bluff Your Way Through ................206
REGULARS




           The Digital World ............................18       Q&A ................................................96   Digit Diary ....................................206
           Beat That ........................................20   Tech Quiz ......................................198      Blogwatch......................................207
           Gender Benders ..............................22        Tech Critique ................................200        Digit Forum ....................................222
           Buzzword Of The Month ..................22             Mediawise/Adwise ........................202             Inbox ..............................................222


                                                                                                                                                            DECEMBER 2005 DIGIT      9
DVD

          DIGITAL PASSION                             DIGITAL TOOLS                                                                         DIGITAL LEISURE

      NetBeans IDE + JDK 5.0                      Macromedia Flash
      Update 5                                    Professional 8                             INTERNET
                                                  Design, develop,                           n Yahoo Messenger 7 Build 7.0.0.437
                                                  and maintain                               n MSN Messenger 7.5
                                                  interactive online                         n mIRC Power Pack 7.10 RC5
                                                  experiences with                           n Windows Live Messenger 8.0.0328
                                                  the latest release                         n SysUtils LAN Administration System 1.1
      This distribution of the J2SE Development
                                                  of Dreamweaver,                            n Spyware Hospital 1.0
      Kit (JDK) includes NetBeans IDE, which is
                                                  Flash Professional,                        n TurboFTP 4.60 Build 432
      a powerful integrated development
                                                  Fireworks,                                 n SpamExperts Home 1.0 beta
      environment for developing applications                                                                                           Gun Trailer #6
                                                  Contribute, and                            n Mantis 1.0.2090
      on the Java platform.                                                                                                             A Western shooter mixing first and third-
                                                  FlashPaper.                                                                           person viewpoints, this simplistically
      J2EE 1.4 SDK 2005Q2 UR2                                                                SYSTEM                                     entitled game is far from a simple
      Contains: Sun Java System Application       Macromedia ColdFusion MX 7                 n SiS UniVGA Drivers                       shooter in chaps and a holster. This
      Server Platform Edition 8.1 2005Q2          Developer Edition                          n Realtek AC'97 Audio CODECs 3.79          original story follows the life of Colton
                                                  Design, develop, and maintain              n nVidia ForceWare 81.85
      UR2; J2SE 5.0; J2EE 1.4 SDK Samples                                                                                               White, reared as a mountain man in
                                                  interactive online experiences with the    n Kaspersky Anti-Virus Personal 5.0
      2005Q2 UR2; J2EE 1.4 API                                                                                                          Montana close to the headwaters of
                                                  latest release of Dreamweaver, Flash       n VMware Player 1.0.0 Build 18007
      Documentation                                                                                                                     Missouri. The game offers free-roaming
                                                  Professional, Fireworks, Contribute, and   n Catalyst 5.10 Windows XP
                                                                                                                                        exploration as well as set story missions
                                                  FlashPaper.                                n Microsoft Office 2003 Service Pack 2
      DEVELOPER TOOLS                                                                                                                   and side missions.
                                                                                             n Windows XP TheHotfix.net Pack
      n SQL Manager 2005 for SQL Server
        2.0.5                                     CyberLink DVD Solution                     n Panda Titanium Antivirus 2006
                                                                                                                                        Mini Golf Tournament 1.0
                                                  CyberLink DVD Solution consists of over    n Norton Internet Security 2006
      n Pronto Survey 1.0.5                                                                                                             Mini Golf Tournament puts you on the
      n Web Questionnaire 3                       10 software programs integrated in one                                                greens and challenges you to make a
                                                  application: CyberLink PowerStarter;       DIGIT IN PDF
                                                                                                                                        hole-in-one. Have fun beating par on
                                                  CyberLink PowerDVD 6 Express;              By popular demand, archives of the
      GAMES                                                                                                                             creatively
                                                  CyberLink PowerDirector 4 Express;         past 12 months are back!
                                                                                                                                        designed
      Age Of Empires III                          CyberLink PowerProducer 3; CyberLink                                                  courses. Chip
                                                  Power2Go 4; CyberLink LabelPrint;                                                     and putt the
                                                  CyberLink                                                                             ball in true 3D
                                                  InstantBurn;                                                                          and experience
                                                  CyberLink                                                                             remarkable
                                                  PowerBackup;                                                                          real-world
                                                  CyberLink                                                                             physics.
                                                  PhotoNow!;
                                                  CyberLink                                                                             E-BOOKS
                                                  MediaShow 3;                                                                          Including:
                                                  CyberLink                                                                             n The Last Journals of David Livingstone
                                                  PowerDVD Copy                                                                         n “Unbounding the Future: the
      Serious Sam 2 Demo 2                                                                                                                Nanotechnology Revolution”
                                                  Ulead Photo Express 6                                                                 n J2ME & Gaming
                                                  Ulead Photo Express 6 is home photo            DIGITAL BUSINESS
                                                  creativity software that makes it easy                                                1495 WALLPAPERS
                                                  to edit and share digital photos and       OpenOffice.org 2.0
                                                                                             OpenOffice.org is a multiplatform and      n Our Pick: 431 Wallpapers we liked
                                                  create fun photo projects. Edit and                                                   n 79 Movie Wallpapers
                                                  enhance images, browse your photo          multilingual office suite and an open-
                                                                                                                                        n 45 Anime Wallpapers
                                                  collection and express your creativity     source project. You may need Java
                                                                                                                                        n 11 Island Wallpapers
                                                  with stunning special effects and          Runtime Environment installed, if you
                                                                                                                                        n 52 Lake Wallpapers
                                                  creative photo projects. Ulead Photo       do not have it, install it from the
                                                                                                                                        n 143 Miscellaneous Wallpapers
                                                  Express puts you on the fast track to      Developer tools section on the CD.
                                                                                                                                        n 110 Motor Wallpapers
                                                  photo fun.                                                                            n 72 Mountain Wallpapers
                                                                                                                                        n 26 Music Wallpapers
                                                                                                                                        n 63 National Park Wallpapers
      X-Men II: Rise Of Apocalypse                                                                                                      n 36 Nature Wallpapers
                                                                                                                                        n 35 Ocean Wallpapers
                                                                                                                                        n 11 Rainbow Wallpapers
                                                                                                                                        n 83 River Wallpapers
                                                                                                                                        n 15 Rock Wallpapers
                                                                                             SpeechToolsCenter 2.0
                                                                                                                                        n 61 Sky Wallpapers
                                                                                             Recover and reuse your PDF content
                                                                                                                                        n 62 Space wallpapers
                                                                                             with Solid Converter PDF to Word
                                                                                                                                        n 34 Sunset Wallpapers
                                                                                                                                        n 47 Tree Wallpapers
                                                                                             PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS                         n 41 Vista Wallpapers
                                                                                             n Window Eyes 5.5 Beta 2                   n 10 Volcano Wallpapers
                                                                                             n OpenOffice.org 2.0                       n 28 Winter Wallpapers
                                                                                             n Excel Invoice Manager Express
                                                                                               2.1.1007
      Pro                                                                                    n Sydock XForms 2.5.4.4
      Evolution                                                                              n iMediaCONVERT 3.3.12
      Soccer 5                                                                               n SpeechToolsCenter 2.0
      Demo                                        MULTIMEDIA
                                                  n Nero 7.0.1.2 Premium                     MOBILE APPS
                                                  n iTunes 6                                 n Oxygen Express 1.1
                                                  n AVS Audio Tools                          n Nokia PC-Suite
      PLUS                                        n Blender 2.40 alpha2                      n Sony Ericsson PC Suite 1.7.10
      n Sunrise Extreme Demo [Single &            n mosascii m2 2.0.053                      n Cell Phone Manager 5.4
        Multiplayer]                              n bcTester 4.0                             n MOBILedit Lite 1.99.0.3
      n Age of Empires 3 Update 1.01              n My Pictures 3D 0.9



10    DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                      Contents Interactive




                                                                                                                                                                             CD
    DIGITAL PASSION                           DIGITAL TOOLS                               DIGITAL BUSINESS                            DIGITAL LEISURE

Java Runtime                                                                          PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS                          3D Chess 1.0
Environment                                                                           n DocTagger 1.0                             For over a thousand years, people
5.0 Update 5                              Macromedia Dreamweaver 8                    n DocYouMeant Hound 1.2.0                   throughout the world have been
The latest, complete                                                                  n Transparent 1.1                           seduced by chess. Here’s a realistic 3D
                                          Design, develop, and maintain
Java Runtime                                                                          n XML Viewer 2.3                            version of the computer chess game.
                                          interactive online experiences with the
Environment that                                                                      n Batch Text Replacer 2.0
                                          latest release of Dreamweaver, Flash
contains the core                                                                     n CT Quick Spell 1.0
                                          Professional, Fireworks, Contribute, and
executables and files                                                                 n Formulator Pro 3.0
                                          FlashPaper.
that constitute the                                                                   n OfficeToExe Converter 1.0
standard Java                                                                         n Online Functions - Exchange Rates 2.0
                                          MULTIMEDIA
platform                                                                              n Powerpoint-PPT to AVI-GIF Converter
                                          n Babya Logic 1.0
                                                                                        1.10
                                          n Babya Photo Workshop 10.5
MyGeneration 1.1.4.1                      n Digital MC 1.0
                                                                                      n Softinabox Paste Fast 1.2.0 Build 30
MyGeneration generates code from                                                      n Total Doc Converter 1.01
                                          n Lalim MP3 Player 3.0.0
templates that can be written in C#,                                                  n XLS Converter 1.5.9
                                          n MyPixelVault 1.0 Beta
VB.NET, JScript, and VBScript.            n Rip Wiz 2003 2.4.0
MyGeneration is for generating ORM        n ShotGenius 1.0
                                                                                      Outlook Anywhere 1.01
architectures or O/R Mapping files for    n SKMP3 3.3.3
                                                                                      The anywhere service lets you easily        Foosball Frenzy 1.0
architectures such as Gentle.NET, and                                                 share files with others under your          Foosball Frenzy's colorful graphics,
                                          n t@b ZS4 0.946
NHibernate.                                                                           control. It offers private and secure       realistic sound effects and true-to-life
                                          n VH Screen Capture Driver 1.2.0
                                                                                      management of shared files to only those    physics.
                                          n WinMP3Shrink 1.1
                                                                                      people you designate.
                                          n Audio Edit Magic 7.5.9
                                          n AVS Audio Editor
                                          n HyperSnap-DX 6.00 Beta 3
                                                                                      NXPowerLite 2.0
                                                                                      Automatically reduce the size of your
                                          n Industrial Audio Editor 1.0.0.15
DEVELOPER TOOLS                                                                       PowerPoint presentations!
                                          n InterVideo DVD Copy 4 Platinum
n Microsoft Application Compatibility     n JPEGtoASCII 1.0.0
  Toolkit 4.1                                                                         MOBILE APPS
                                          n Jriver Media Center 11
n AWinstall 4.0.1                                                                     n IceCendol Mobile Phone Instant
n CyD WEB Menu Creator 2                                                                Messenger 1
                                          INTERNET
n Pageflix 1                                                                          n Magic Button 2.0 build 51023
                                          n IceChat IRC Client 7.0
n PDF Split Merge ActiveX 1.0                                                         n Card House 2.4
                                          n MegaIRC 2.85
                                                                                      n Create Ringtone 3.1
                                          n Opera 9 Beta 1Build 8031
Galacticards 1.002                        n Portable FileZilla 2.2.17
                                                                                      n Keep Track (Smartphone) 2.0               SMALL GAMES
In Galacticards, five players start out                                               n ListPro 4                                 n Backgammon Lite 5.0
                                          n Staff-FTP 2.85
with a home world, some defensive                                                     n MetaTrader CE 1.52                        n Blocks Annihilator 1.0
                                          n Syncnotes
ground units, and a hand of five cards                                                n MP3 To Ringtone Gold 3.15                 n Castle Constructor 1.0
                                          n MetaProducts Integra 1.0.63
with which they begin their struggle to                                               n Numberz 3.4                               n Elite Gomoku 1.0
                                          n MetaProducts Mass Downloader 3.2
become the largest species in space.                                                  n P900Themer 1.0.1                          n Just Sudoku 1.0
                                          n mIRC 6.16
                                                                                      n Pragma PocketVT                           n Royal Sudoku 1.0
                                          n SmartFTP 1.5.991.7 Beta
                                                                                      n SaveBackup 2.0                            n Switcheroo Deluxe 1.0
                                          n Web Lightning XP 3.0.1
                                                                                      n Top of the League 1.6.1                   n Air Hockey Adrenaline 1.0
                                                                                      n WeatherGuide 1.0.1                        n Checkers Ultimate 1.0
                                          SYSTEM
                                                                                                                                  n Crystal Lines II 1.00
                                          n APO USB Autorun 1.0
                                          n Attribute Editor Wizard 1.0
                                                                                      WOWScreens Standard 1.5                     n Mahjong: Journey of Enlightement 1.0
                                                                                      WOWScreens places lively animated           n Pangea - Conquest For Fun 1.5
                                          n Central Brain Identifier 7.7.0.1
                                                                                      characters and backgrounds at your          n Rainbow Web 1.1
                                          n Chaos MD5 1.0
LINUX                                                                                 fingertips providing you with a fully       n Shuffleboard Showdown 1.0
                                          n Cpu-Z 1.31
n CreditCruncher 0.8 beta                                                             interactive 3D interface. Zoom in or out,   n Starcars 1.1
                                          n EaseUs Disk Copy 1.0
n DSPAM 3.6.1                                                                         move left or right, and even rotate 360
                                          n nLite 1.0 RC3
n GeoServer 1.3.0 RC5                                                                 degrees.                                    E-BOOKS
                                          n ReNamer 2.20
n gvSIG 0.4.2                                                                                                                     n Hackers, Heroes of the Computer
                                          n SpeedFan 4.27
n mechanoid 0.5.21                                                                                                                  Revolution, by Steven Levy
                                          n Tony Arts EasyCleaner
n Newega 0.6b1                                                                                                                    n MEN OF INVENTION AND INDUSTRY -
                                          n Unlocker 1.7.4
n Play What I Mean 0.08                                                                                                             Samuel Smiles
                                          n SiSoftware Sandra 2005.1.10.69 SR3
n Simput 0.4                                                                                                                      n Nonsense Novels by Stephen Leacock
n Big Faceless Report Generator 1.1.28                                                                                            n TAMBURLAINE THE GREAT
                                          ESSENTIALS
                                                                                                                                  n THE THEORY of NUMBERS
                                          n Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.5
File Beamer 0.1.5                         n AntiVir Definition Updates                                                            n Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K.
File Beamer is an easy to use file        n Avast Home Edition 4.6
                                                                                                                                    Jerome
transfer tool. The programm is platform   n AVG Definition updates
independent. That means it runs with      n Kaspersky AV Definition Update
                                                                                                                                  505 WALLPAPERS
Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, Linux, Unix        n Kazaa Lite Mega Codec Pack 1.40
                                                                                      Sony Ericsson SendFile 1.2                  n Wallpapers provided by our reader
and MacOS X.                                                                          With SendFile you can send any support-     and forum member Jayant Kaul (aka
                                          n Kerio Personal Firewall 4.2.2
                                                                                      ed file to an Ericsson mobile phone,        “Ice” on the forum). We thank him for
                                          n Norton AntiVirus Definitions Update
                                                                                      incuding: E-Melody (*.emy), I-Melody        sharing his personal collection with
                                          n Spybot S&D detection updates
                                                                                      (*.imy) and MIDI (*.mid) melodies, GIF      our readers.
                                          n Spybot Search & Destroy 1.4
                                                                                      and JPG pictures, and more
                                          n WinRAR 3.51


                                          In the Digital Tools > Internet section
                                          of the CD, a software called High-
                                          Octane Skrypt II was found to contain
                                          a virus during replication. This file was
                                          removed, but the link for it remains in
                                          the interface. This link will not work,
                                          and there is no threat to your system.
                                          Inconvenience is regretted.
For any queries regarding the CD or DVD, e-mail help@jasubhai.com with “CD/DVD” as the subject.
If the subject is not mentioned, your mail might not reach the right person.                                                                       DIGIT DECEMBER 2005       11
     Online                                                                                                             Digit Patrons
     By Demand                                                                                                          It really does
                                                                             December 2005

     You get to choose what goes in Digit                                                                               pay to be loyal!
     Interactive. This month, you chose:                                                                                Find out more
     Age Of Empires III                                                                                                 on www.
     Macromedia Dreamweaver 8                                                                                           thinkdigit.com




                                                                                       Last Month’s Question:
                                                Digit Reader Poll                       What would you like to see more of on the
                                                                                        DVD/CD?
                                                This Month’s Question
                                                                                        Linux Software

                                                                                           Office                                      Games
                                                What would you like to




                                                                                                                                                     infographic Vijay Padaya
                                                                                        Software               13.3%
                                                read about more in                                      4.6            22.2%
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                                                     Careers In Technology
                                                     Linux                                                                      7.3%
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                                                     Software Reviews                                                          11%
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                                                 Log on to www.thinkdigit.com                Software                            Videos/
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                                                                                                                                Total votes 13,208




                               taste technology at
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        There’s something for everyone on the Digit Forum www.thinkdigit.com/forum




12
     Another First For Samsung                                                     Microsoft Says Yes To Supercomputing
     Samsung unveiled the world’s first wireless broadband                         Software giant Microsoft has released the second beta of its
     handsets—called WiBro mobile handsets—at the Asia Pacific                     mainstream technical computing software or supercomputing
     Economic Co-operation Summit. WiBro prepares to be fully                      software, Windows Compute Cluster 2003. This is the company’s
     implemented and utilised next year. Samsung put on display                    first foray into supercomputing software, where it is up against
     both the mobile phone-type H1000 and the PDA-type M8000.                      open source competitors such as Linux.




     Enter
                                           SHOULD WE CALL IT ‘SONYWARE’?
      Shaan
      Singer

      S  haan gave a new
         dimension to Indipop with
                                           Windows Labels XCP
      his songs, right from his first
      release Q-Funk to the hugely
      popular Tanha Dil. Is the
                                           Spyware
            singer tech-savvy too?


                                           S
               Read on…                         ony thought they were              in computer viruses to hide             updates of its anti-spyware
                                                just protecting their              itself on users’ machines.              kits would have XCP
                    What does                   music from being                   Specifically, XCP uses a ‘root          removal tools!
                    technology mean        ripped and stolen, but a                kit’ to conceal itself deep                 According to Microsoft,
                    to you?                Windows programming                     inside Windows.                         the XCP software qualified
                   Technology means        expert by the name of Mark                  A root kit is a set of tools        as spyware under the
                  progress. It helps us    Russinovich recently                    used by an intruder after               “objective criteria”
                achieve what would         unearthed something dirty.              hacking a computer. These               Microsoft uses to assess
           otherwise be beyond our         Used as a protection system             tools can help the attacker             potentially malicious
      reach. It enhances the way we        for their audio CDs, Sony’s             maintain his access to the              programs. The company, in
      live and work, and it has also       XCP system has turned out               system and use it for                   its corporate blog, also
      made us dependent on it—and          to be the darling of a                  malicious purposes. It could            recently said, “Root-kits
      life sans technology is now          number or spyware and                   also be a hacker security               have a clearly negative
      unthinkable. Gadgets such as         virus writers. This support             tool that captures                      impact on not only the
      the mobile phone that were           to malware provided by the              passwords and message                   security, but also the
      earlier a luxury have now            copy protection system,                 traffic to and from a                   reliability and performance
      become a necessity—such is the       albeit inadvertently, has               computer, or a collection of            of the users’ systems.”
      growth of technology in our life     resulted in Sony staring                tools that allows a hacker                  There also has been news
      and society.                         at a number of class                    enter into a system.                    of virus writers taking
                                           action suits and other                      Subsequently, Microsoft             advantage of the XCP system
      How do you use technology in         legal hassles.                          labelled the system as                  to hide their malicious
      your daily activities?                   The XCP system is                   malware, and has                        pieces of code. The resulting
      I primarily use technology for       controversial because it uses           announced that further                  negative publicity has meant
      calling people. I also use e-mail.   techniques more often seen                                                      that Sony has suspended
      However, I prefer to maintain a                                                                                      the manufacture of audio
      fine balance between using and                                                                                       CDs with the XCP
      over-using technology.                                                                                               protection system.
                                                                                                                               To add to Sony’s woes,
      What gadgets do you own?                                                                                             amateur sleuths have
      I own a number of gadgets, but I                                                                                     claimed that the code used
      rarely have the time to use                                                                                          to create XCP, which guards
      them. A Motorola Razr is the cell                                                                                    CDs against copyright
      phone of my choice—it’s neat                                                                                         infringement, itself has
      and sleek. My earlier phone                                                                                          been culled from the code
      tried my patience. I also have a                                                                                     written by Jon Johansen to
      Hitachi DVD camera which can                                                                                         circumvent DRM (Digital
      record directly onto DVDs.                                                                                           Rights Management) on
                                                                                                                           DVDs! Sony had outsourced
      How has technology                                                                                                   the coding work for XCP to
      influenced your career?                                                                                              First4Internet, a British
      Technology hasn’t played a big                                                                                       software firm. Now the
      part in my career. Admittedly, it                                                                                    sleuths claim that
      has made recording and                                                                                               First4Internet lifted pieces
      playback convenient.                                                                                                 of code that are covered by
      Personally, I would never use                                                                                        the Free Software
      devices such as pitch correcting                                                                                     Foundation’s LGPL, or Lesser
      machines for recording.                                                                                              General Public License. This
                                                                  Illustrations Harsho Mohan Chattoraj
                                                                                                                           license covers the author’s

16   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                    Security Watch
                                                      right to chunks of code                        explicit permission from
           Macromedia Flash Player                    rather than a complete                         the books’ authors.                                         DVD-Writers
           Vulnerability                              program.                                            Google began the                                        These can burn
           The Problem                                    With this new twist to                     library-scanning project                                     DVDs and CDs and
                                                      the tale, it looks like Sony                   late last year. The company                                  also play back
           A vulnerability has been                                                                                                                               almost all
           reported in Macromedia Flash               has a number of new battles                    had postponed the
                                                                                                                                                                  formats. Most
           Player, and has been described             to contend with, and their                     scanning of copyrighted                          come for about Rs 3,000,
           as “highly critical.” Many users           copyright protection codes                     books in August to give                          including high-quality ones.
           have Flash Player 6 or 7                   will be off the CDs for a                      writers and publishers                           We think DVD-Writers should
           currently installed, and the               while. So, it’s a field day for                more time to opt out of the                      be part of standard
                                                      music pirates?                                 program; the scanning of                         equipment on any computer!
           vulnerability has been reported
           in Flash Player version 7.0.19.0                                                          copyrighted material
           and prior on Windows.                      COPYRIGHT ISSUES AGAIN                         resumed early last month
                                                                                                     with a larger emphasis                           Combo Drives
           Damages                                    Google Print                                   on books that were no
                                                                                                     longer in print.
                                                                                                                                                      Combo drives
                                                                                                                                                      were huge sell-
           The bug could be exploited by
           using specially crafted                    Faces                                               Google claims that since
                                                                                                     only excerpts of the books
                                                                                                                                                      outs when they
                                                                                                                                                      hit the market.
                                                                                                                                                      However, we think it’s time
           (malformed) SWF files to
           execute arbitrary code on                  Roadblocks                                     will be made available to
                                                                                                     anyone who searches them,
                                                                                                                                                      to say goodbye to them!
                                                                                                                                                      Who needs a Combo drive
           the machines of users induced                                                                                                              when you can get a DVD-
           into visiting sites under the                                                             they are not violating any                       Writer for just a few
           control of hackers.
                                                      T   he Authors Guild, an
                                                          association of published
                                                      authors, and five major
                                                                                                     copyright laws. However,
                                                                                                     the copyright cases being
                                                                                                     filed by publishers may
                                                                                                                                                      hundred rupees more?

           Solution
           To find out what version you               publishers—including                           still prove to be an obstacle              photo sharing services, a
           have installed (if you have                Penguin and McGraw-Hill—                       in the company’s                           new service from Redwood
           different browsers installed,              are suing to prevent Google                    gargantuan copying and                     City, California, which
           you’ll have to check each                  from scanning copyrighted                      indexing project.                          automates the tagging of
           browser independently), use                material in libraries                               For us, of course, the                pictures using artificial
           your browser to access                     without explicit permission.                   project is good news—do                    intelligence and face
           www.macromedia.com/softwar                 But Google seems keen on                       visithttp://print.google.com               recognition technology, is
           e/flash/about. If it’s below               thumbing their face—they                       and tell us what you think!                hoping to stand out and
           version 7.0.19.0, you’ll need to           have launched Google Print,                                                               grab some market share.
           update to Flash Player 8                   a service that provides users                  AI AND FACE RECOGNITION                        The service, called Riya,
                                                      with entire texts of books                                                                has developed software that
           (8.0.22.0) or apply the Flash
           Player 7 update (7.0.61.0 or               and government
                                                      documents, scanned and
                                                                                                     Automatic                                  can recognise who is in a
                                                                                                                                                picture, and tag it with
           7.0.60.0). The Flash Player 8
           download is at www.                        indexed from five major
                                                      libraries in the US.
                                                                                                     Photo                                      their names. Photos can be
                                                                                                                                                uploaded to Riya from hard
           macromedia.com/shockwave/d
           ownload/download.cgi?P1_Prod_                  These books, according
                                                      to Google, are in the public
                                                                                                     Tagging!                                   drives, photo-storage sites
                                                                                                                                                such as Yahoo! Photos, and
           Version=ShockwaveFlash.
                The Flash Player 7 update is          domain, which means their                                                                 from e-mail attachments in
           at http://www.macromedia.com/
           go/d9c2fe33. Note that the
                                                      copyrights have expired
                                                      and that anybody can
                                                      access them and use them
                                                                                                     T   here are a number of
                                                                                                         photo sharing and
                                                                                                     image management
                                                                                                                                                Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo!
                                                                                                                                                Mail. The service will soon
                                                                                                                                                be including uploads from
           only reason you’d want to
           apply the Flash Player 7 update            for copying and publishing.                    software to suit your                      Flickr, Outlook, Friendster
           is that Flash Player 8 is not              But Google also plans to                       specific requirements.                     and MySpace.
           supported by Windows 95,                   scan and index many other                      Flickr and Picasa are the                      The results of this new
           Windows NT, or classic                     books that aren’t yet in the                   most preferred, and the rest               service have been said to be
           Macintosh operating systems.               public domain. The groups                      of the field is struggling to              very impressive: testers have
                                                      suing Google are accusing                      keep up with them.                         said that the software was
                                                      it of not having obtained                          Amidst this crowd of                   even able to differentiate


                    One Silly Question                     “What would you rename ‘Windows’ to?”




“The ‘Sea’, sin
               ce   it’s unfathom                                                                          ows’!”                                                                s’?”
                                 able”                                                               i-Wind          “I feel ‘Peep-out’ is
                                                                                                                                                                          t ‘Door
Mudasser Mu                              “I don’t know. ‘Furniture’ maybe?”            call   it ‘Min                                        fine.”
                                                                                                                                                                   else bu
                                                                              “I would                                                                       “What
           lla, Mumbai                                                                                               Nirja Gandhi, Mumb
                                                                                                                                       ai                                      bai
                                                                                              Gujara
                                                                                                    t                                                                    i, Mum
                                         Pooja Chipalia, Mumbai                        Doshi,                                                                       anghv
                                                                                Bhavik                                                                        Heer S



                                                                                                                                                                DIGIT DECEMBER 2005     17
     Pulse
           The Digital World                                                                                A Round-up Of Technology News From Across The Globe
       UNITED STATES                                                                                     CHINA
                                                     FINLAND
       Despite support from only 1 per                                                                   The number of Internet users in China           JAPAN
                                                    Too many mobile phones are turning                   reached 103 million in June of this year.
       cent of the public, the State                up in the sewage system of the Helsinki                                                              Tokyo offers the cheapest
       Department has finalised plans                                                                    China's Internet sector is now the world’s
                                                    metropolitan area. At the sewage plant               second largest. This despite Chinese            broadband amongst major
       to go ahead with passports                   in Viikinmäki, a thousand tons of solid                                                              world cities, and Japan
       containing RFID chips. It plans to                                                                authorities doing their best to control
                                                    junk is collected every year, a lot of this          the medium.                                     claims its broadband is the
       have all passports RFID-enabled              being in the form of mobile phones.                                                                  cheapest. Flets ADSL in
       by October of 2006.                          Talk about e-waste!                                                                                  Tokyo charges just ¥4,850
                                                                                                                                                         per month (Rs 1,850).


                                  UNITED KINGDOM
                                  The British Library, which holds 13 million
                                  books, will begin digitising its collection and
                                  make 25 million pages of it available online.
                                  These will be available for free on Microsoft
                                  Web sites: Microsoft has pledged $1.7 million
                                  a year to pay for the project, probably in
                                  response to Google Print.




                                                                                        AUSTRALIA
                                                                                        Australian telecom major Telstra recently
                                                                                        announced it will roll-out a W-CDMA network
                                                                                        that will cover 98 per cent of Australia’s
                                                                                        population! This bolsters the idea that
                                                                                        mobile can play a prime role in providing
                                                                                        rural broadband connectivity.




     between identical twins and                   viewable by friends in the
     spot family members! In                       photos or by the general                                      Three Incredibly Useful Sites
     addition to this, the                         public. Friends may search
     software can also read street                 each others’ images and                                     Et Cetera
     signs in a photograph and                     even add their own tags.
     thus identify a location. The                 Riya plans to make the                         www.bplans.com                      Bplans.com
     service’s context-based                       images and metadata                                                                Are you looking for information to
     approach looks at 50                          exportable to ‘any                                                                 help start your own business? First of
     variables in a photograph,                    application.’                                                                      all, chalk a business plan. And a visit
     including hair, eye colour,                                                                                                      to Bplans.com will do you a whole lot
     shirt colour, height, sex, etc.               HARDWARE VIRTUALISATION                                                            of good. It has it all—legal information,
         Munjal Shah, CEO of                                                                                                          business plan software, 500 sample
     Riya, says the software’s
     mission is to make every
                                                   As Good As                                                                         plans—you name it.

     photo in the world
     searchable.
                                                   Two
                                                                                                  www.avantGo.com                     AvantGo.com
         Of course, to tag a photo                                                                                                    If you’re tired of the way Web pages
     by identifying its contents,
     the software needs to be
     trained. The training
                                                   E   arlier last month, Intel
                                                       launched two Pentium
                                                   IV chips—the Pentium IV
                                                                                                                                      look on your handheld device, AvantGo
                                                                                                                                      is the answer to your prayers. The
                                                                                                                                      company offers customised Web
     software is available on the                  672 and 662 processors—                                                            content from Reuters, Wired,
     Internet and is currently                     which will support a                                                               AccuWeather and The New York Times.
     offered for Windows-based                     technology that allows                                                             You just need to sync your handheld
     computers. A user would                       computers to                                                                       once beforehand daily, and your
     train the software by                         simultaneously run several                                                         favourite sites will travel with
     identifying, or tagging,                      operating systems, and also                                                        you all the time. And yes, the service
     individuals in their photos.                  tools such as anti-virus and                                                       is free!
     As the software learns                        other high-end applications
     who’s in your pictures, it                    such as image processing                                                           Grokker.com
     begins to auto-tag the                        and video editing software.                    www.grokker.com                     Grokker returns query results
     photographs, quickly                          The technology, called                                                             organised into a visual map. What this
     scanning the rest of your                     ‘virtualisation’, is said to                                                       means is your search results are no
     photos and identifying each                   impact the multitasking                                                            longer mere hyperlinks on a white
     person it can recognise.                      capabilities of a PC                                                               page: they’re colourful and cross-
         Photos uploaded to this                   tremendously. Intel claims                                                         referenced. And how good are the
     free service for tagging can                  these processors are the                                                           search results? Well, it depends on
     be made private, or users                     first desktop processors to                                                        what kind of search you’re conducting.
     can choose to make images                     have these capabilities.                                                           Go ahead, give Grokker a shot!

18   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
     Pulse




                                                                                                                             Digit Caption
                                                                                                                             ‘You shoot me, I shoot you!’

                                                                                                                             Last Month’s Winner!
                                                                                                                             G.S.Sahota,
                                                                                                                             Qr.No.AP-11,Atlanta Point,
                                                                                                                             Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar
                                                                                                                             Islands-744102
                                                                                                                             ‘Greasing Communications ‘




                                                                                                                              E-mail your caption with the
                                                                                                                              subject ‘Beat That’, and your
                                                                                                                              postal address, to
                                                                                                                              beatthat@thinkdigit.com
                                                                                                                              and win Fundamentals of
                                                                                                                              Network Security
                                                                                                                              by Eric Maiwald
                                                                                                           ething funnier,    Published by Dreamtech,
                                                                                       to. Come up with som
                                                                ry a caption for a pho accepted by the 15th of this month.
                                     Every month, Digit will car                e! Entries                                    New Delhi
          Photograph Jiten Gandhi                          m at their own gam
                                     and beat the Digit tea

     Formally, the 672 and the       the new Pentium IVs. More                   EFFICIENT MULTICORE                         aimed at the server market.
     662 will feature Intel          manufacturers are expected                                                              The Ultra Sparc T1 chip,
     Virtualization Technology.
     They are priced at $605
                                     to begin selling machines
                                     with the chips in early 2006.
                                                                                 A New                                       code-named Niagara,
                                                                                                                             promises to be more than
     (Rs 27,000) and $401
     (Rs 17,500) respectively, in
                                         With virtualisation in
                                     desktop computer chips,
                                                                                 8-Core Chip                                 just a chip off the old,
                                                                                                                             umm, chips! Powered by
     1,000-unit quantities.          Intel can claim an area                                                                 eight cores on a single chip,
         Virtualisation will be
     extremely beneficial in a
     business setting, where the
                                     where it’s beaten AMD. Intel
                                     had a big setback earlier this
                                     year when they lost the race
                                                                                 I s this the rise of a new
                                                                                   Sun? Well, Sun
                                                                                 Microsystems surely hopes
                                                                                                                             the T1 at 70 watts
                                                                                                                             consumes less than half the
                                                                                                                             power required to run
     system administration can       for coming out with the first               it is. The company has just                 similar processors.
     carry on with their             dual-core processor for                     launched a new processor
     maintenance duties without      servers. In this respect, Intel
     interfering with any            was over six months behind
     workers’ PC use.                AMD. With the current pace
     Virtualisation could also       of developments, Intel will
     isolate virus attacks to only   make virtualisation available
     the setting in which the        for its Itanium and Xeon
     attack takes place—this will    server processors as well as
     ensure that the virus will      the Pentium M chip for
     not spread and infect the       laptops by next summer.
     entire system or even           Intel also plans to introduce
     a network.                      these in dual-core Pentium
         The virtualisation          processors for desktop
     concept and technology are      computers by mid 2006.
     themselves not new. Several         Intel is making
     software-based                  virtualisation technology
     virtualisation solutions        available now, even though
     already exist in the market.    software makers have not
     However, when                   yet introduced operating
     implemented in the              systems that can take
     hardware, virtualisation        advantage of the technology.
     could become more               Intel expects the software to
     efficient in terms of space     be available by the middle of
     and speed.                      next year. However, analysts
         Computer makers such        are of the opinion that these
     as Acer and Lenovo, will be     software may be available as
     the first to offer PCs with     early as January 2006.

20   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
      Pulse
                                                                                          and eco-responsible way.”         mobile phones. These chips
                    Nachiket Mhatre vs Urmila Rane                                            According to Sun,“The         are slated to cost not more
     GENDER         Enabling A Tone Alert For Num
                                                                                          impact on our environment         than Rs 250 a piece. This is a
                                                                                          is real: if half the entry        major cost reduction from
                    Lock, Caps Lock and Scroll Lock                                       servers sold in the last three    the current levels of over
                                                                                          years were replaced with          Rs 1,000 per chipset.
                                                                                          the UltraSPARC T1                     By undertaking moves
                                                                                          processors, over 11 million       that will help the general
                                                                                          tons of CO2 emissions, or         masses, especially those
     BENDERS                                                                              the equivalent of that            who haven’t yet benefited
                                                                                          emitted by about a million        from the boom in the
                                                                                          SUVs, would be eliminated         technological advances and
                                                                                          each year.”                       innovations, of the past few
                                                                                                                            years, Philips is attempting
                                                                            5 sec         PHILIPS EYES INDIA                to become a truly global
                                                                                                                            corporation that can meet
                    A computer engineering student, Nachiket was excited
                    about Gender Benders. On being told his task, he just said,           Mobiles for                       consumer demands
                                                                                                                            anywhere in the world.
                    “That’s in the Accessibility Options, right?” We were kind of
                    taken aback. He went the window to do the changes by
                    typing the following command on the Run window -
                                                                                          Less                              SKY-HIGH WI-FI
                    access.cpl. And next he enabled the ‘Use ToggleKeys’ option.
                    There, the job was done in the blink of an eye. And he didn’t
                                                                                                                            Balloon
                    even have to think much! Very impressive Indeed!
                                                                                          P   hilips, the electronics
                                                                                              giant, sees India as a
                                                                                          testing ground for its            Beams
                                                                                          products. Speaking to
                                                                                          reporters in Bangalore, CEO
                                                                                          Gerard Kleisterlee said
                                                                                                                            Broadband!
                                                                                          India’s large population
                                                                                          makes it the best testing
                                                                                          ground for solutions that
                                                                                          address the unmet needs of
                                                                                                                            A    balloon floating 24,000
                                                                                                                                 metres above the earth
                                                                                                                            has been used to test, for
                                                                           3 min          the four billion people at        the first time, a lightning-
                                                                           22 sec         the bottom of the global          fast data downlink (read
                                                                                          economic pyramid.                 broadband!) from the
                    Urmila was at ease, though she wasn’t sure about the solution.
                    She went to the right place anyway—the Control Panel. She                 In a bid to address a         stratosphere, one of the
                    considered ‘Sounds’ and ‘Audio Devices’ first. But nothing            number of technological           topmost layers of the
                    there! Next, she looked at other options including ‘System’,          concerns, Philips plans to        atmosphere. The helium
                    ‘Keyboard’ and ‘Accessibility’. She felt she couldn’t nail it here,   increase both the staff and       balloon was tested on 31
                    so she exited that window just as fast as she had entered it.
                    When she did realise that the answer actaully lay within              manufacturing and research        August for several hours.
                    ‘Accessibility options’, she went back there and zeroed in. Good      capabilities in the country.      Analysis now shows the test
                    line of thought, girl, but be quicker next time!                      Among many of the                 was a success, and that it
                                                                                          initiatives undertaken by         sent data to the ground at
          The T1s will be the brain                With an energy crisis                  Philips are the DISHA             1.25 Gbps—which is a
      behind the Sun Fire servers             looming on the horizon,                     (Distance Healthcare              thousand times the speed of
      that the company plans to               albeit distant, any move                    Advancement) programme, a         a typical home broadband
      launch later this month.                towards energy                              telemedicine initiative that it   connection.
      Sun claims that this chip—              conservation will be met                    began in July 2005 to provide         The test craft was
      with eight processing                   with applause. Sun is                       healthcare to rural               developed by the Capanina
      cores—is a five-year leap               hoping that this applause                   communities, and the              Consortium—14 European
      over its existing                       turn into sales figures and                 endeavour to manufacture a        academic and industry
      competitors, namely IBM’s               lift sagging profits. At Sun's              sub-Rs 1,000 mobile phone.        partners funded mainly by
      Power chip and Intel’s Xeon             Summit on 21st Century                      To achieve this, Philips is       the EU. They hope such
      microprocessors. Sun hopes              Eco-Responsibility on 14                    currently developing the          craft may be able to provide
      this energy-efficient chip              November, CEO Scott                         Nexperia cellular system,         low-cost internet access in
      will drive customers to buy             McNealy said Sun would                      which will develop and mass-      the developing world, or
      Sparc-Solaris servers.                  make money in a “socially                   produce low-cost chipsets for     perhaps communications in


                                  Flock
                                  B   logs of a feather Flock together—that seems to
                                      be the idea behind a new browser that will soon
                                  hit the average Internet user. Flock, the browser,
                                                                                                     and-drop blogging tools.
                                                                                                         Advertised as a ‘social browser,’ Flock
                                                                                                     incorporates very well with ‘social’ things on the
                                  looks very similar to Firefox, which isn’t surprising              Web such as Flickr and del.icio.us. With the mission
                                  considering both share the Mozilla core. The best                  of integrating all our Web activities—blogging, photo
                                  part about this browser is that it lets you add blog               sharing, wikis, maps, podcasting and video blogging
                                  posts right through the user interface: it has a blog              included—into a one-system-one-UI product, Flock
                                  tab, and features widely-compliant WYSIWYG, drag-                  sure is the buzz in the tech world!


22    DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
     Pulse
                                           areas stricken by a disaster.   launching Internet             computer to watch her
                                           David Grace from the            television as early as 2006.   daily soap you know
                                           University of York, one of      In a bid to beat Internet      which plug to pull!
                                           the project scientists          companies such as Yahoo!
                                           behind the test, says           and Google, who are            CHEAPER PRINTS NOW GET
                                           stratospheric                   planning to use                DONE QUICK
                                           communications balloons         computers and the

      Web 2.0
                                           can indeed provide wireless
                                           alternatives to fixed
                                                                           Internet to relay television
                                                                           shows, Time Warner is
                                                                                                          HP’s New
      What is Web 2.0?
                                           Internet infrastructures.
                                                The main concern with
                                                                           readying to launch In2TV.
                                                                               This ad-supported
                                                                                                          Printing
      Web 2.0 is a term often applied
      to the perceived ongoing             balloons as communications
                                           hubs is ensuring they don’t
                                                                           Internet TV model will
                                                                           have six channels,
                                                                                                          Technology
      transition of the World Wide
      Web from a collection of Web         interfere with commercial       comprising the comedy,
      sites to a full-fledged
      computing platform serving
      Web applications to end users.
                                           aircraft. Controllers on the
                                           ground can alter the
                                           altitude of the balloon,
                                                                           drama, animation, action,
                                                                           classic and
                                                                           superhero/villain genres.
                                                                                                          L   ate last month, HP
                                                                                                              launched the Officejet
                                                                                                          Pro K550 colour printer.
      Ultimately, Web 2.0 services         but they can’t steer it—as      With 4,800 episodes of         This, HP claims, is the
      are expected to replace              of now.                         various shows and over         fastest printer in its
      desktop computing
                                               The consortium is also      3,000 hours of                 category. HP also
      applications for many
      purposes. If Netscape was the        looking to develop other        programming, the               launched a photo printer
      standard bearer for Web 1.0,         types of communications         Internet TV model has a        for home users—the HP
      it’s Google for Web 2.0.             craft that can fly at very      huge bank of ready             Photosmart 8238, which
                                           high altitudes. Craft such      content to go live. The        can print high quality
      Where is Web 2.0?                    as airships could be useful     company plans to show          colour photographs in 14
      Web 2.0 is not a physical entity,    when heavier                    already-aired episodes to      seconds.
      but is, rather, the way the Web
      will be used in the future. For      communication equipment         start off before conceiving         What’s interesting
      instance, Google started its life    such as radio antennas          original content for           here is that both ranges of
      as a Web entity and has              need to be carried to the       this medium.                   printers incorporate
      remained so ever since. It           skies.                              Time Warner also           technology that HP claims
      never created any products                                           hopes to sell Microsoft a      is revolutionary as far as
      that could be shipped                SOAPS ON YOUR PC                stake in this venture. The     the printing and imaging
      physically. Its income was                                           move to non-traditional        industry is concerned.
      generated through users—
      directly or indirectly—and will
                                           Net TV As                       media for airing television
                                                                           shows has been on the
                                                                                                          Designed using what HP
                                                                                                          calls Scalable Printing
      continue to do so. Moreover,
      the integration of its services is   Early As                        anvil for a couple of years
                                                                           now, and the advent of
                                                                                                          Technology, these printers
                                                                                                          have print heads that have
      a good example of what the
      Web 2.0 definition
      encapsulates.
                                           2006?                           the Video iPod and
                                                                           podcasting has only
                                                                                                          been created
                                                                                                          photolithographically.
                                                                           quickened the pace of          This process of creating
      Who is running Web 2.0?
      Web 2.0 is not a piece of
      software; it refers to the way       M   edia giant Time
                                               Warner has
                                           announced they will be
                                                                           development in this area.
                                                                           So the next time your
                                                                           mom tunes into your
                                                                                                          nozzles in the print head
                                                                                                          has been borrowed from
                                                                                                          the chip fabrication
      an application or service or
      domain exists on the Web.                                                                           process. It ensures that
                                                                                                          the cost of printing comes
      Why do we need Web 2.0?                                                                             down by almost half.
      Web 2.0 is about ‘glocalisation’                                                                         HP has designed a kind
      —making global information                                                                          of common core for all
      available to local social                                                                           print heads, thus making
      contexts and giving people the                                                                      sure that the cost for
      flexibility to find, organise,                                                                      manufacturing them in
      share and create information in                                                                     bulk comes down—and
      a locally meaningful fashion
      that is globally accessible.
                                                                                                          thus the price of the
                                                                                                          printer, too, comes down.
      When will Web 2.0 be                                                                                     The photo printer
      available?                                                                                          features six separate ink
      Look at Web 2.0 as a set of                                                                         cartridges. The printer
      compliance guidelines. There                                                                        also incorporates a smart
      already exist sites that comply
                                                                                                          printing technology that
      with these, for example, Flickr.
                                                                                                          ensures no print job is
      How is it different from what                                                                       left half done.
      we have now?                                                                                              Digit is yet to test HP’s
      The technology infrastructure                                                                       claims, and we’re hoping
      of Web 2.0 is complex and                                                                           to get our hands on one of
      evolving, but includes server                                                                       these printers soon!
      software, content syndication,
      messaging protocols,
      standards-based browsers, and                                                                              Compiled by Aditya Kuber,
      various client applications.                                                                        Mithun Kidambi, Ram Mohan Rao
                                                                                                                         and Renuka Rane

24   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                 Digital Passion l Lead Feature

                                                                      Digital

 30 Geneva Sound 32 The Future Is 38 The Battle Of
    System          Paper            The Blue
                                                                      Passion
                                                                      Fuelling the pursuit of technology knowledge


                    Lead Feature



                    Concocting
                        Dreams                                        editing technologies, but we’re certainly catching
                        Aditya Kuber                                  up. We’re quickly learning the new art of creating
When it comes to                                                      things that cannot be shot through the camera.
technology in                      ustre, Flint, Smoke, Combus-           There was a time when movies were made

movie-making,               L      tion, Fire, Flame… no, we’re not
                                   talking about making a bomb!
                                                                      with a camera, a lot of lights and a great deal of
                                                                      sweat. They still are, but now, they have help from
India is,                  These are the software used today to       technology. A nip here and a tuck there… it’s all
                            digitally enhance a movie—or create       in a day’s play! Movies today are being shot digi-
admittedly, just             scenes for one. The way it’s done is     tally, with live voice (no dubbing), online editing
catching up. But              quite marvellous, and very often        (deciding the edit points—where a shot will be
we’re getting                  you don’t notice that there’s a        edited and joined—as one shoots), and are being
                                computer at work behind the           processed digitally.
there pretty fast                scenes, literally. We take a look
                                  here at where India stands in the   The Old Days
                                  adoption of the computer as a       Let us first understand, though, how it happened
                                   tool in movie-making.              earlier. It was relatively simple. A film would first




                                                                                                                              Shrikrishna Patkar
                                                                                                                              Imaging Vikram Kathare and
                                         India lags behind Holly-     be ‘canned’, meaning it would be shot on film
                                     wood (or for that matter, most   stock in negative format. Then, it would be
                                      technologically-advanced        processed; this meant converting the negative
                                       countries that make movies)    format into positive, which could be projected.
                                        in implementing advanced      This is quite similar to the film processing we do
     Digital Passion l Lead Feature
                           (or used to) for our photos. After this, the canned        But DI is going beyond post-production: it is
                           and processed film would be edited to create the       now being used in pre-production. “Dhoom 2 will be
                           movie, which would be output and duplicated for        using a pre-viz (pre-visualisation) technique that
                           projection at movie theatres.                          will create a blueprint of all shots. This will mean
                               While some parts of this process still remain,     that everyone on the set knows exactly what is to
                           there are new stages that have been added to this      be done before they even reach the location. The
                           workflow, if you will, which are dramatically alter-   cost saving and clarity of job responsibility this
                           ing the way a movie looks.                             offers is phenomenal,” says Pankaj Kedia, Regional
                               Take, for example, the recent blockbuster          Manager, South East Asia and India, Autodesk
                           Black. The entire soft, dreamy look the movie has      (Media and Entertainment Division).
                           could not have been possible using just the                Indeed, one of the greatest advantages DI and
                           camera. Enter the post-production experts. Using       other such processes have offered is the cost
                           software such as AutoDesk Lustre, the entire           savings. At the same time, these have also resulted
                           movie (after editing) was given a look and feel that   in increased creativity and better planning—
                           was consistent throughout, and did not cause the       which has, in turn, has meant that less time is
                           viewer to think there was something ‘special’          spent wondering what to do when on the sets.
                           going on. This, however, is a special case. What is        “Tools such as pre-viz are finally being used.
                           not a special case, though, is the Digital Interme-    These allow the director to decide where everyone
                           diate (DI) that virtually all movies today undergo.    in the unit will be for a shot. Everyone involved,
                                                                                  too, is aware of this, and that makes for less time
                           Digital Intermediate                                   spent on the sets,” says Pankaj Khandpur, Creative
                           DI is an ever-evolving process. In a nutshell, it is   Director Visual Computing Labs, Tata Elxsi.
                           the middle one-third of the operation loosely
                           termed ‘Digital Film’. The other two-thirds of Digi-   So Will Tech Take Over?
                           tal Film consist of acquisition (the obtaining of      Some time ago, myths circulated as the use of tech-
                           the source material through some form of               nology increased: for example, that cinematogra-
                           capture) and presentation (the distribution,           phers might go obsolete, or that they would not
                           projection and/or transmission of the final result).   have to work as hard. But these were never true.
                               But before DI comes acquisition and editing.       “Yes, there were a lot of ideas that now cine-
                           The entire movie is usually transferred to a           matographers will not have to work as hard, when
                           computer and digitised, making it easier to edit.      these processes were gaining popularity in the US
                           In some cases, though, filmmakers prefer to edit       around 1990. But this is definitely not true,”
                           in the linear format—from tape to tape, without        assures Sibille Cooney, Senior Trainer, Autodesk
                           transferring it to a computer or digitising it.        M&E Division, US. Cooney is, in fact, engaged in
                               In either case, the DI process begins after        training upcoming Indian editors in the art of DI
                           editing is complete. The transferred film is           and post-production effects.
                           colour-corrected, ‘cleaned up’ (more on this               Agreeing with Cooney is one of India’s leading
                           later) and composited (put together again as one       post-production and Visual Effects (VFX) artists,
                           package). The final product is then output to          Huzefa Lokhandwala of Prime Focus Studios.
                           either analogue (film) format or digital format        “Each aspect of the post-production process some-
                           for projection.                                        times requires varied specialised training. Hands-
                               What happens in DI is, colours are made            on experience thereafter definitely helps. Not
                           consistent, edit jerks are cleaned, and special        speaking technically, however, we could safely say
                           effects—even the basic ones—are added. Remem-          that the basic requirement would be the ability to
                           ber the multiple screens in Dhoom where four           observe and visualise. The ability to combine man
                           different shots were visible at the same time? All     and machine in the most effective and aesthetic
                           four were shot separately and were made to look        fashion is what makes a good post-production
                           consistent using DI.                                   artist in this technological age,” he says.




                            Gayab




                                        Mughle Azam


26   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                                          Digital Passion l Lead Feature
  VFX
  Computer Graphics (CG) encompasses all there                                           Scanned Data                   Data conformed to
                                                                  Data Scanner           with heads and
  is to Visual Effects (VFX). CG is, in fact, the                                          timestamp
                                                                                                                          output norms
  engine that drives this train. There are various
  sub-branches under CG—such as animation, 3D
  character animation, creation of inorganic 3D                    Processed
                                                                                                                       Archive              HD
  objects, and even mixing and compositing them                     negative                                                                  SD o/p
  all.                                                           (original input                          Additional
       To explain these terms a little, 3D character              media) form                             VFX etc if
                                                                                                           required
  animation would refer to movies such as Shrek
  and Ice Age, where the characters were entirely                                                                              Final film
  created using a computer, and lived out their                                                                              output to data
  lives right there! In the case of 3D inorganic                               Final                                          network and
                                                                              Output            Arrilaser                     archive and
  objects, these are things such as hurricanes and                            media             recorder                         output
  smoke, and sometimes live action. Remember
  the twister in Twister?                                  The process above is the Digital intermediate that involves scanning the film, processing
       In India, though, there is not much of a            it, adding FX and releasing the final output for presentation
  market for either. If anything, there is a small
  market for 3D inorganic objects. “The problem           want to hide! A blast has to be bigger, better and
  is that not too many filmmakers in India                more realistic. This is where we are trying to
  include this as part of their budget. They are still    create experts by working on a mentor-protégé
  unable to quantify the results of using these           system,” adds Khandpur.
  technologies. By that, I mean they cannot trans-            Some of the other forms of effects that are
  late it into monetary benefits,” says Khandpur.         commonly done include wire stamping. This
       Lokhandwala agrees to some extent, but is          just involves cleaning out the wires by which
  sure that India will catch up. In fact, India has       actors hang during stunts. “Not just us, but most
  already started using these technologies.               people involved in this work hate wire stamp-
  “Creatively, the number of filmmakers employ-           ing. But we can’t help it. If only the director
  ing and getting aware of digital tools is increas-      involved us earlier, I think we could do some-
  ing. VFX has become an integral part of Indian          thing about it,” laments Khandpur.
  filmmaking. It could be features, advertising               An example of this much-hated stamping
  commercials, music videos, documentaries.               would be the climax scene of the recent
  From subtle enhancements, to crucial correc-            Salman Khan-Fardeen Khan-Anil Kapoor star-
  tions, to seamless compositions, to in-your-face        rer No Entry. When all three leading men are
  computer generated imagery… we use them all,”           hanging on to dear life on what is shown as a
  he says.                                                cliff, in reality, they couldn’t be safer, standing
       Differentiating between the two basic types        on terra firma at Khandala. But the actual shot
  of VFX—the subtle and the in-your-face—reveals          shows them on a cliff overlooking the sea. The
  that the covert form is tougher to execute simply       sea, the cliff and the actors, too, were added
  because no-one should notice it. “These are the         using a computer. The entire scene (and the
  subtle effects that need to be in a movie, but if       film) was then processed to maintain the same
  they’re noticed and someone says, ‘Hey, that’s a        colour temperature, and composited to look
  nice effect’, it’s actually like telling us we didn’t   like they were hanging over a cliff. The only
  do a good enough job of integrating it into the         thing that was real here was the hanging!
  movie,” says Khandpur.                                  To complete the entire sequence, the safety
       The other form, the obvious one, requires          rope they were hanging by had to be
  blasts, pyrotechnics, prosthetics, robotics and         stamped out later, as well as any traces of
  even miniatures. “These are the ones you don’t          harnesses and hooks.




TV Commercial                                                                              Darna Mana Hai




                                                                                                                       Promo



                                                                                                                                    DECEMBER 2005 DIGIT   27
      Digital Passion l Lead Feature

     The Software
 Discreet Lustre                                most demanding artists. It features non-        Discreet Flame
 Discreet Lustre system software is Autodesk    destructive workflow, an extensive toolset,     A powerful 3D compositing environment, this
 Media and Entertainment’s award-winning        and the kind of power professionals demand.     delivers amazing creative results using
 high-performance DI system for colour                                                          industry-leading tools specifically designed
 grading and look creation. The design of the   Discreet Flint                                  for high-definition, multi-format post-
 software is such that it delivers real-time    Flint lets you design stunning graphics with    production—from video and HDTV to 2K
 primary and secondary colour correction        speed and interactivity. It provides instant    digital cinema. Flame tools include Action (a
 and grading capabilities, while providing a    feedback for complex compositing, paint,        3D visual effects design environment), 3D
 sophisticated feature set for working with     motion-graphics animation and visual            tracking, Motion Estimation, and the
 high-resolution imagery and digital            effects. It also lets you work with high-       powerful Colour Warper and Modular Keyer
 intermediates. It has come to be regarded as   quality RGB images with real-time video I/O.    features.
 the industry standard today.
                                                Discreet Inferno                                Discreet Fire
 Discreet Smoke                                 Inferno provides the instantaneous              This is a premier online editing and finishing
 Discreet Smoke is an all-in-one integrated     feedback required for fully-interactive         system designed for 2K/4K digital
 creative editing and finishing system.         online experimentation and rapid                intermediate, HDTV, and video post-
                                                turnaround. Now architected for 64-bit          production. It lets you interactively
 Autodesk Combustion                            performance, Inferno provides the best          manipulate up to 30 layers of high-
 Autodesk Combustion 4 is an all-in-one         real-time performance for high-definition       resolution film in its advanced 3D DVE
 professional compositing application           post-production, from 4K feature film and       (Digital Virtual Environment) and
 designed to meet the needs of the world’s      digital cinema to HDTV and video.               compositing environment.


      Hollywood To Bollywood                                                             we show them what is possible, they realise their
      It took over a decade for post-production and                                      mistake of not having involved us earlier. It’s a
      special effects technologies to cover the distance                                 one-time thing we have to do with all directors,
      between the western coasts of the US and India.                                    but it’s starting to pay off,” says Khandpur.
      And during this time, the technology
      leapfrogged. “We in India will catch up, though.                                   The Professionals
      We are always playing the same game even                                           What directors lack today is the presence of VFX
      when it concerns other technologies or aspects                                     supervisors on the sets. “It’s important to get the
      of technology. It will not be too different here                                   logic right when planning or executing effects.
      either,” says Kedia.                                                               Unfortunately, the concept of a VFX supervisor is
          Acceptance of the technology was not                                           absent in India. There is activity, though, to create
      overnight in the US either, says Cooney. “There                                    such specialists,” says Namit Malhotra, managing
      were doubts about the abilities of these software                                  director of Prime Focus.
      and technologies and then, of course, there were                                        While filmmakers struggle to come to terms
      the sceptics. But eventually, when the first big                                   with the possibilities before them, those behind
      hit that used technology extensively was deliv-                                    the scenes making things happen are already
      ered, everyone wanted to do it,” she says.                                         having to grapple with problems of their own.
          Precisely what Khandpur thinks is required                                     “DI and VFX are two totally different aspects. To
      for the Indian film industry to completely realise                                 get into either, though, you need knowledge of
      the potential of these software. “One big hit and                                  editing,” says Cooney.
      the whole industry will be making special effects                                       There seems to be an abundance of editors
      oriented movies,” he assures. But for now, it’s                                    willing to learn the tricks of the trade, but there
      mostly clean-ups and corrections. “When direc-                                     hasn’t always been a place they could go to learn
      tors come to us today, what they are looking for                                   it from. So most end up learning on the job. “It’s
      is to mainly clean up some grey areas. But once                                    a good thing and a bad thing too… while the new




28
                                                                                                 Digital Passion l Lead Feature
guys can see what the real needs are, they don’t
always get enough time to fathom the possibili-           Upcoming Movies
ties. We do put them through the paces and
handhold them for some time, but eventually, we       Life Ho To Aisi: India’s first HD (high-     Bluffmaster: Abhishek Bachchan
have to tell them it’s time they started on their     definition) movie. Shot on HD                is led into the computer and the
own,” says Khandpur.                                  cameras, this children’s film will           film gets a slick new look and feel.
                                                      include some great quality visuals.          Dhoom 2: Including pre-
Cases In Point                                        Ek Ajnabee: Watch out for the fight          visualisation, this film will be
There has been a wide range of movies that have       sequence. Stars Amitabh Bachchan             planned to the last detail before
either undergone the DI process or had a great        and a little boy!                            the shooting even starts. As a
amount of VFX in them. Some of these you know         Home Delivery : One of the most              matter of fact, a couple of scenes
about, some you don’t. Presenting an exposé:          talked-about films of late, this film        using pre-viz and including VFX
    Kal Ho Na Ho: A love story with virtually no      has a range of effects and of course,        specialists and supervisors have
action scenes, you must wonder where the VFX          DI. Spot the effects if you can!             already been canned.
were. “There are a couple of scenes where it
was required that VFX step in. The movie was
shot on location in the US and there was a                                         special effects… a fact that is not often realised
scene when snow was required. The director                                         when you watch a movie, and that, perhaps, is
ordered only one snow machine thinking it                                          the best compliment for the creators!
would be enough, but when they started shoot-                                          Mangal Pandey - The Rising: A period film and
ing, it was less than adequate. After talking to                                   an epic, this movie has it all: DI, VFX and a great
us, we gave a solution: just make sure the two                                     deal of wire stamping!
main actors in the scene were covered with                                             Assuming you’ve watched the movie, let’s
snow, and we’ll take care of the rest. You could-                                  jump right into the scene when Aamir Khan has
n’t even tell that the snow was added later,”                                      challenged the might of the British regime. The
reveals Khandpur.                                                                  Rangoon regiment is on its way to handle him
    Dhoom: Here was a movie with loads of SFX.                                     and his group of revolutionaries. Now, the very
Not just VFX, but plenty of special ones! “This                                    reason this regiment was called in was because it
was an out-and-out action thriller, and there                                      had 50,000 soldiers. Hiring as many people had
was plenty of scope to work on it. Take for                                        monetary and logistical implications… actually
example the stunt scene where the motorcy-                                         nightmares. So just about 200 people were shot
cle rider has to jump over a rake… we were on                                      and then replicated to make the regiment look
the set when they shot it and everyone was like                                    like it was attacking in all its glory.
‘Wow’. But when we saw the scene a little more                                         Right after this scene is the part where Khan
objectively, the thrill was missing. The scene                                     is tried and is about to be hanged. Again, the
showed the motorcyclist jumping over an                                            problem was the number of people that could be
empty rake between two bogeys. What we                                             realistically had on the sets. Once again, replica-
realised was that the rake was too long and                                        tion was done. This time, though, some ‘creation’
this took the thrill away… so we reduced the                                       was also done—and not through the camera. A
length of this! The effect was superb,” says                                       tent, an elephant and some villagers behind the
Khandpur.                                                                          lead actor were added. Also cleaned up was some
    “Another scene where we got the chance to                                      lighting equipment that had crept into the shot!
add some special effects was the one after the                                         Over the years, as the Indian film industry
title song-and-dance sequence. In this one, there                                  matures and gets more professional, there is a
are lines of petrol spill along the ramp, and these                                good possibility that a special effects film could
are supposed to be lit by the actor. He is supposed                                well come out of Bollywood. “We might be a long
to fling his Zippo lighter into the petrol. When                                   way away from making our own Matrix-like tech-
his close-ups were shot, it hardly looked appeal-                                  centred movies, but the signs are positive.
ing. But we took this onto the computer and                                        Who knows, but soon, we could…” says
made it dramatic,” says Khandpur. Eventually,                                      Khandpur. Amen.
this movie ended up having over 20 minutes of                                                                  aditya_kuber@thinkdigit.com




                                                                                                                                             29
Digital Passion | Geek Dreams

The Geneva Sound
System redefines      P  assionate about music? Here’s a sound
                         system that not only packs in powerful
                      audio, but is eye-candy as well! Enclosed in a
                                                                       nano to its integrated universal dock.
                                                                           The Geneva Sound System can also work
                                                                       with any other type of audio input inluding
home entertainment
with its refreshing   single, stunning piano lacquered wooden          the computer, TV, game console, turntable,
design and singular   cabinet, the Geneva Sound System uses            and more, through its line-in port. An LED
audio output          advanced, patented algorithms to digitally       display shows the source and the currently
                      adapt the left and right sound signals to        playing track.
                      ensure a balanced sound output, regardless of        Sleek and contemporary, the Geneva Sound
                      where you are in the room.                       System actually lives up to its tagline—Passion
                          The system is available in two models and    and Simplicity! Priced at $599 for model L and
                      in three colours—white, black and red. Model     $1075         for
                      L measures 17x11.1x15 inches and produces        model XL, these
                      100 watt RMS, while model XL measures            beauties      are
                      21.7x23.5x15.8 inches and generates a            available     for
                      thumping 600 watt RMS. Each unit features        pre-order at the
                      an iPod Universal Dock connector, a built-in     manufacturer’s
                      slot-loading CD, and an FM radio—all             web site.
                      controllable by remote. You can plug in your
                      iPod Video, iPod Photo, iPod Mini or iPod




Geneva Sound System




Imaging Sivalal S

                                                                                                   DECEMBER 2005 DIGIT   30
     Digital Passion l Tomorrow




     The Future Is Paper
                                                                                      capabilities to make devices powerful yet small.
     The future of                Robert Sovereign-Smith                              Again, the problem has always been displays: a
                                                                                      display that’s too large not only results in an
     displays could

                                  I
                                     n Gadgetopia (Digit, July 2005), we designed     unacceptable form factor, but also eats up
     see a radical                   the theoretical Gadget of Our Dreams             battery power by the watts.
     shift in                        (GOD)—basically, a single gadget most of us          But what if there was a technology that
                                  would like to have, provided someone put it         could provide you with a large display screen
     technology.                  together and marketed it. It was conceptu-          which could be rolled, folded and manipulated
     Coming soon:                 alised using existing technologies, one of          to fit into a tiny space when not being used?
                                  which was the paper/foldable display.               And at the same time it used less battery power
     displays as thin                 Thus far, gadget sizes have been defined by     than the backlight of your cell phone?
     as a human hair!             the size of their screens. Too large a screen and       Amazing, right? Well, not quite: this is old
                                  the gadget cannot be sold as a ‘portable’ device;   news now. The problem is that the black-and-
                                  too small, and the screen becomes barely read-      white era is behind us, and we’re not interested
                                  able, ruling out full-fledged computing on it!      in going back there—most such displays are
                                  This, perhaps, is why there’s still a market for    only monochrome capable yet, with the opera-
                                  PDAs, despite the fact that mobile phones—          tive word being “yet”!
                                  which have a much more compact form
                                  factor—have enough processing power to              The Legacy
     Illustration Pradip Ingale




                                  accomplish the tasks of a regular PDA.              The idea of paper displays, or ePaper as it’s also
                                      We may not yet be at the stage of bringing      known, is hardly new. Back in 1975, Nicholas
                                  high-end 3D gaming to a mobile phone, but we        Sheridan, a physicist working at the Xerox
                                  certainly have the technology and hardware          PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), started his




32   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                                                                     Digital Passion l Tomorrow
                                                                                                                        The list of companies that are actively




                                                        Infographic Shrikrishna Patkar
     Xerox PARC’s SmartPaper                                                                                        researching paper displays is even longer.
                                                                                                                    Needless to say, the market is waiting impa-
                                                                                                                    tiently to see some significant progress in this
                                                                                                                    field, and researchers are working overtime to
                                                                                                                    meet this demand.
                                                                                                                        E-Ink’s technology is similar to what Sheri-
                                                                                                                    dan came up with at Xerox PARC, but is defi-
                                                                                                                    nitely not the same. Instead of using
                                                                                                                    microcapsules that are coloured half-black and
                                                                                                                    half-white, E-Ink uses microcapsules that
                                                                                                                    contain granules of a positively-charged white
 Here you can see that the spheres are coloured half-
                                                                                                                    pigment and granules of a negatively-charged
 black and half-white, and are contained between                                                                    black pigment.
 thin plastic films                                                                                                     These capsules are suspended in a clear
                                                                                                                    fluid that lies between thin layers of a plastic
research on ePaper. To give you an idea of how                                                                      material, which is, in turn, laminated on a
ahead of his time Sheridan was, the novel idea                                                                      layer of micro-circuitry and electrodes. The top
back then was to replace paper with portable                                                                        plastic layer is a transparent electrode, whereas
flat-panel displays, which, as we all know, were                                                                    the bottom layer contains the control elec-
not exactly portable back then, were very                                                                           trodes.
expensive, and had terrible contrast—you could                                                                          Now, in order to draw a display, the elec-
hardly make out the screen in a lit room, forget                                                                    trodes are charged either positive or negative,
about outdoors!                                                                                                     according to the image requirement. The
    Sheridan’s dream was to make a flexible
paper-like sheet that could not only display                                                 How E-Ink Works
text and images, but also be re-written by using
                                                                                                                                                                 Source: E-Ink
an electrostatic charge. The solution he came
up with was to use tiny electrically-charged
spheres, enclosed in the oil-filled cavities of a
thin layer of a transparent elastomer.
    Incidentally, this is the technology Xerox
PARC still uses in its research of ePaper, which
they call SmartPaper. Each 100-micron sphere
is coloured half white and half black (or
another dark colour). The spheres contain a
dipole—like a magnet, with positive and nega-
tive charges on opposite ends.
    Thus, when an electric charge is passed over
certain pre-designated areas of the elastomer
film, the spheres in those areas rotate to show
their dark side, colouring the area. A chip can                                          This image explains how E-Ink works, and you can clearly see the advantages it
                                                                                         offers over Xerox PARC’s texhnology
control the charges at different areas to
produce a sort of advanced, electronically-
controlled etch-a-sketch!                                                                                           micro-circuitry is small enough for two elec-
    Since the spheres are reflective in nature,                                                                     trodes to be placed under each microcapsule,
they are extremely high-contrast, making them                                                                       and if both electrodes are charged positively,
readable even under direct sunlight. This tech-                                                                     the positively-charged white pigment granules
nology has already been used to make some                                                                           in the capsule directly above them are pushed
interesting products. We will talk about those                                                                      to the top, thus forming a white dot, or pixel.
a little later. Needless to say, this technology,                                                                   Similarly, a negative charge causes the nega-
though easily implementable, has the draw-                                                                          tively-charged black pigment granules to be
back of being monochrome. Still, it’s a step in                                                                     pushed up, thus forming a black pixel.
the right direction.                                                                                                    Now, the two electrodes under each micro-
                                                                                                                    capsule can be polarised differently as well,
The Leaders                                                                                                         thus forming a half-white and half-black pixel.
Say the words “paper display” and the name                                                                          This is how E-Ink’s technology achieves higher
that springs to mind is E-Ink Corporation—the                                                                       resolutions and apparent shades of grey. All
Xerox or Discman of paper displays! A pioneer                                                                       this circuitry forms a screen with a calculable
in this field, E-Ink is consistently working                                                                        resolution, which can then be controlled by a
towards building better and slimmer displays.                                                                       display driver or graphics chip.
    E-Ink currently provides technology and                                                                             Moreover, the “E-Ink” is reflective in nature,
paper displays to many corporates—not just to                                                                       and it looks just like print on paper, has a read-
help them build prototypes, but also for full-                                                                      able angle of 170 degrees, and is clear even in
fledged products. E-Ink’s investors include                                                                         direct sunlight.
Toppan Printing of Japan, Intel Capital Corpo-                                                                             But enough on costs and technology
ration, Motorola Corporation, Philips Compo-                                                                        briefs—let’s get on to the actual prototypes
nents (a division of Royal Philips Electronics)                                                                     that have been developed to further illustrate
and Vivendi Universal Publishing (France).                                                                          the road ahead.

                                                                                                                                                       DIGIT DECEMBER 2005       33
     Digital Passion l Tomorrow
     Prototypes                                                                         this means is that, say, you prefer The Times Of
     Here we’ll take a look at some products that                                       India for their sports news, The Indian Express for
     are currently in development, and which,                                           their political news and The Hindustan Times for
     hopefully, should reach the markets, and you,                                      general news, you could program your paper
     within the next few years. Instead of looking                                      display to show you the relevant news from the
     at the available prototypes individually, we’ll                                    desired news source. This is akin to using a
     look at some of the possible implementations                                       news site that allows you to personalise the
     of paper displays, and see what products are                                       way your news appears, except that using the
     being developed to fill those gaps.                                                paper display you could be anywhere at all—
                                                                                        travelling in a train, standing on a street corner
     Electronic Newspapers / Books                                                      waiting for a bus, or even while in the loo!
     This is the very first implementation that the                                         So what products have been, or are, being
     world thought up, which, unfortunately, is still                                   developed in this context?
     only in the prototype stage. The most obvious
     implementation of a paper display is to replace                                    Sony LIBRIé
     paper! Since the most common interaction                                           Though only available in Japan right now, this
     people have with actual paper is perhaps the                                       is an e-book reader that uses a paper display. It
     newspaper, it is only natural that paper                                           can store up to 10 MB of e-books, and boasts of
     displays try and find their way into this space.                                   an impressively sharp resolution of 170 pixels
         How can a paper display replace your news-                                     per inch. The display, unlike all other displays
     paper? The answer is simple. Consider this: you                                    available on readers or PDAs, is absolutely
     probably go out and buy a newspaper everyday,                                      clearly readable even in direct sunlight.
     or wait for the delivery boy to drop off one at                                    Though the screen has a dull plastic look, it’s
     your home. What happens if you have to leave                                       almost as readable as newsprint.
     home early on certain days? What about the
     news that happened after the paper was
     printed? What about those of us who like to
     read three and four different newspapers?
     Though TV and the Internet have fulfilled
     some of these needs, it’s still not enough!
         Now think of a paper display that’s the
     same size as your newspaper. It’s foldable, for
     easy storage, just like your newspaper, and isn’t
     40 pages thick! Now imagine if you could
     connect this paper via Wi-Fi or WiMax to news
     servers. Essentially, you would just need the
     single paper display to read all the news from
     all your favourite news sources. Obviously,
     news distribution would have to become
     subscription services, much like iTunes.
         Not only do paper displays in this form
     solve the problem of storage and mobility, it                                      The Sony LIBRIé is not exactly the perfect e-reader, but
     also means that this sort of a system would                                        it has a great contrast ratio for reading e-books, even
     enable you to access news as it happened,                                          under direct sunlight
     much like RSS feeds do for you right now. The
     added advantage here would be that you can                                             The reader runs on four AAA batteries,
     sit and read it like a newspaper, which beats                                      which can last for as much as 10,000 page
     peering at a monitor any day!                                                      changes. Thankfully, the option of AAA batter-
         Another advantage is that you could essen-                                     ies means that you can just pick up a fresh set
     tially sort your news according to taste. What                                     at almost any general store across the world,
                                                                                        and not have to rely on a power outlet to
                                                                                        recharge any internal batteries!
                                                                                            There’s a memory stick slot to add addi-
                                                                                        tional memory to the LIBRIé, and a small
                                                                                        speaker and headphone outlet to play any
                                                                                        embedded audio in your e-books. It also
                                                                                        features a keyboard that lets you use the
                                                                                        inbuilt dictionary, so that you can translate
                                                                                        words into English. We’re hoping to see a fully
                                                                                        English version soon!
                                                                                            There are drawbacks though, namely
                                                                                        screen refresh rates—or the lack thereof! When
                                                                                        you click to turn a page, it takes a second to
                                                                                        refresh the screen. While it may seem that
                                                                                        we’re being unreasonably harsh by complain-
                                                                                        ing about this, try entering text on a display
     This is a wall-sized paper display that was set up at an exhibition in Japan. It   that takes a second to show every letter you
     used E-Ink’s technology to display newspaper articles on the paper display,        type! Hopefully, these kinks will be ironed out
     while images were displayed on the smaller LCD                                     soon—perhaps when a “LIBRIé 2” is launched!

34   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                  Digital Passion l Tomorrow




The Philips READIUS has a rollable display that lets you carry around a
much larger screen in a pocketable form factor

Philips READIUS
This is a really cool gadget! It features a rollable paper display
in a device that can best be described as a “mobile e-reader.”
The display is capable of four monochrome shades, that can
be rolled up to a radius with a curvature as little as 7.5 mm.
The contrast ratio displayed is 10:1 (bright to dark), more
than sufficient to be able to read it in direct sunlight. The
screen resolution is 320 x 240 (QVGA) pixels at a diameter of
five inches. When closed, the device measures a mere
100 x 60 x 20 mm, obviously making it extremely pocket-able.
We’re not quite sure about battery power, but reports say
that the consumption is minimal.
    Being a mobile gadget, it should be able to receive news
and updates of various kinds (traffic, weather, and so on)
quite easily, through Wi-Fi, WiMax, or even cellular
networks. All this has still not been finalised, of course, but
we’re hoping for the best!
    This product is still a prototype, and its makers, Philips’
Polymer Vision, currently have no plans to mass-produce it—
unless popular customer demands say otherwise. Basically,
what this means is that they built this prototype to give us a
glimpse of what’s possible, and should we decide that we just
have to have one, some manufacturer or the other can lease
the patent rights and provide us with products! A tall order
indeed, but if you would like to support the “Build me a
READIUS” cause, go to http://www.polymervision.com/
contact/Index.html and demand that Polymer Vision start
mass manufacturing some!

Everyday Life
Apart from the standard uses of paper displays in e-newspa-
pers and e-readers, paper or rollable displays might have an
important part to play in everyday life as well. The simplest
example would be hoardings, where space can be sold as per
the time of the day. So you could have animated advertise-
ments that are just as visible in the day as in the night—
current neon signs are useless in the day! There are also huge
power savings that paper displays offer over neon signs. As
for standard painted or printed billboards, they’re no compe-
tition to cheap paper display billboards that can be animated.
     Apart from this, you could also see ultra-thin watches
being made, which could be possible of displaying news or
traffic updates at the push of a button.
     Then there’s the whole print advertising industry to be
thought of. Imagine if you got a copy of Digit that was just two
pages thick, yet contained 10 times more content than it does
currently! After all, all print magazines are limited to a certain
number of pages due to printing and handling costs. But that’s
still the content—what about the advertisements? Imagine if,
instead of flipping pages, all you had to do was press a button,
and as things are even now, there would be advertisements

                                                                          DIGIT DECEMBER 2005   35
     Digital Passion l Tomorrow
     placed at strategic points between text. The                                          were flexible monochrome displays. So, when
     difference here is that advertisements could be                                       E-Ink’s technology was recently used to produce
     animated, and perhaps even supported by                                               colour paper displays, it resulted in a great deal
     sound—sort of like the Flash advertisements you                                       of excitement. However, E-Ink is still working on
     come across online!                                                                   making these displays flexible or rollable.
         If connectivity improves, you could                                                   Let’s look at a few products that have been
     perhaps use the (imaginary/future) WiMax                                              made using this colour paper display technology:
     public network to avail of a special offer that
     was advertised! Of course, we’re getting ahead                                        Microsoft Xbox’s Point-Of-Purchase
     of ourselves here… or are we?                                                         Jade Empire Game Release
         Let’s take a look at a few ways rollable                                          Yes, we realise it’s a mouthful, but that’s what
     paper displays have started to revolutionise a                                        it’s called! A Point-Of-Purchase (POP) promotion
     few areas of everyday life. Expect to see a lot                                       is basically an advertising or promotional
     more of these examples in the near future!                                            gimmick that’s undertaken in stores (the
                                                                                           points of purchase) to attract customers to a
     Seiko’s “Future Now” E-Paper                                                          particular product.
     Display Watch                                                                              Those of you into Pink Floyd might remem-
     This watch looks like a stylish wristband, and                                        ber that their album Pulse utilised a revolu-
     is incredibly slim and sleek. The watch’s                                             tionary method of attracting attention—the
     display is made up entirely of a paper display,                                       Laser Disc of the album had a red LED on the
     and offers, as usual, a high-contrast screen.                                         box that would blink “Pulse” every couple of
                                                                                           seconds. This actually increased sales!
                                                                                                Neolux Corporation, a leader in the field of
                                                                                           POP promotions, devised a plan which could use
                                                                                           E-Ink’s paper display technology to create a revo-
                                                                                           lutionary POP promotional method called the
                                                                                           “Ink-In-Motion”. Basically, they could use paper
                                                                                           displays to attractively animate the packaging of
                                                                                           a product!
                                                                                                Apparently, someone at Microsoft thought
                                                                                           this was perfect for the launch of the new Xbox
                                                                                           game Jade Empire. Shown here are three images,
                                                                                           one with all displays off, the second is the next
                                                                                           step in the animation and the third is an even
                                                                                           more enhanced animation. You can also see the
                                                                                           GIF file at:         www.eink.com/press/images/
                                                                                           image_release_82.html/ to get a better idea of
                                                                                           how the animation appears .
                                                                                                Considering all this was done, affordably,
                                                                                           using paper displays, you can well imagine how
     Seiko’s watch displays the time using a paper display.                                stores are going to look in the future. Perhaps
     The flexibility of the paper display allows for some                                  low-cost products may not employ such tactics,
     innovative designs                                                                    but game distributors are surely going to be
                                                                                           looking into this technology.
     Since the display has pure black and pure                                                  As the paper displays improve, we may even
     white particles, it offers almost the same read-                                      be able to preview actual screenshots from
     ability as printed paper, and about twice the                                         games before buying them. Or even turn the
     contrast of an LCD screen. Since the display is                                       box over and read reviews of the game, from
     flexible, it helps Seiko use only curves in the                                       our choicest Web sites, which can be down-
     design, which is why the watch looks so sexy!                                         loaded off the Net! The possibilities are well
     This also opens up a whole new world of                                               and truly limitless!
     outlets for the creative juices of watch design-
     ers: they can now achieve designs that were
     not possible earlier, due to the inflexible
     nature of previous faces and displays.
         Because the paper display is so small, and is
     a simple implementation, it has virtually no
     power consumption, at least when compared
     with any other existing display technologies.
     You can hope to see the “Future Now” watch to
     hit stores somewhere in mid-2006, since release
     dates have been set for spring 2006 for Japan.

     Colour?
     So far, we’ve only seen products that offer
     monochrome displays, as those were easier to
     produce. However, this does not mean that                It’s impossible to show you animation in Digit... yet! Somewhere down the line,
     colour displays were ruled out. Till date, all the       perhaps, even we can use paper displays the way Microsoft did—to help draw
     aforementioned products and technologies                 attention to their new Xbox release. Notice the changing colours!

36   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                    Digital Passion l Tomorrow
                                                      The Return Of Paper
                                                      If, or rather, when, these displays are success-
                                                      fully made flexible, perhaps all of us will be
                                                      able to enjoy gadgets that don’t keep running
                                                      out of battery life, and have screens we can
                                                      actually read easily in the daytime.
                                                           Although we normally cover technologies
                                                      of the near future in this section, this time we
                                                      focussed on paper displays, which were first
                                                      invented in the ‘70s. The reason for this is:
                                                      within the next two years, we see paper
                                                      displays being used a lot more, and becoming
                                                      a part of everyday life, thanks to their reduced
                                                      manufacturing costs and battery use.
                                                           Since every development that’s happened
Shown here is the new colour display                  in the past few years has revolved around
that has been produced by E-Ink and                   mobility and the ease of information flow,
Toppan Printing. The image above shows                paper displays seem to fit right into the
you the device’s capability of displaying             mould for the future. They’re cheaper, less
text, while the image on the right shows              fragile, offer better readability, are lighter,
off the decent image resolution offered—              and use less battery power. Now, if only manu-
all in 12-bit colour of course!                       facturers and researchers can find a way to
                                                      rival LCD and CRT refresh rates, we’re set to
                                                      see the return of the paper era, albeit in the
E-Ink And Toppan Printing’s                           new form of e-paper!
Colour Paper Display                                       Would you be interested in buying any of
We foretold the coming of this product in             the products talked about in this article, as
Gadgetopia in the July 2005 issue, and just six       and when they’re available? Does the idea of
months later, here it is!                             an interactive Digit printed on e-paper excite
    This is a colour paper display screen that        you? Write in and tell us—we’d love to hear
was developed using E-Ink’s display technology        your take on the subject.
and Toppan Printing’s flat panel colour filters.                             robert_smith@thinkdigit.com
Incidentally, Toppan Printing is the world’s
largest supplier of colour filter arrays for flat
panel monitors.
    The display offers a sharpness of 83 pixels
per inch at a resolution of 400 x 300, and
achieves 12-bit colour! The custom-made colour
filter array, provided by Toppan, uses high-
brightness colour (RGBW) to maintain paper-
quality contrast. Basically this means that the
white is as good as paper, and the black and
other colours are shown up in high contrast to
give the display a proper magazine page look!
    The screen is six inches in diameter, which
is the size of an ordinary paperback novel. This
step forward by E-Ink and Toppan now makes
the dream of colour paper displays in mobile
devices an achievable reality!
                                                    1/4th AD
    Since the display uses minimal power and
has a readability angle and contrast on par
with paper, it’s already got conventional
mobile displays beat. The colour display report-
edly uses as much as 100 times less power than
a conventional LED, which means that battery
life on existing mobile products can easily
double if this technology is used—not to
mention a sizeable reduction in weight!
    Perhaps the first adopters of this technol-
ogy will be everyday devices such as electronic
sign boards, digital cameras (for the preview
screens), ATMs, GPS devices, and kiosks,
thanks to the amazing readability under
direct sunlight. Later, we might see the display
being used in mobile phones, PDAs,
laptops, and other mobile devices that
need to save on battery power. The product is
said to be able to hit production lines soon—
by the end of 2006.

                                                                                    DIGIT DECEMBER 2005    37
            Digital Passion l In Sight




                 The Battle
                    Of The Blue       Ram Mohan Rao
                                                                                            BD will be capable of holding up to 50 GB. HD-
                                                                                            DVD offers about 15 GB on a single layer. Dual
              Your new DVD-                                                                 and triple-layer discs of this format have been


                                      W
                                                e don’t need to tell you that technology    manufactured.
              Writer will soon                  moves at a fast pace, do we? But we have        Again, for those who came in late, there’s a
              be obsolete. But                  here an indicator of just how fast: in      format war of unprecedented proportions taking
              which blue-laser        September of 2004, in Space: The Final Frontier, we   place. The Internet is abuzz with discussions,
                                      talked about the DVD format wars. Back then, we       news, views, and speculation on which format—
              technology will         just mentioned Blu-ray and HD-DVD in passing.         which camp, so to speak—will emerge the winner
              replace it?             Just about a year later, the DVD format wars have     and become the standard, whether there will be
                                      been all but forgotten. Blu-ray and HD-DVD are        a peaceable co-existence, and a host of other
                                      already upon us, and we need to talk about them       things. What follows is a W5H of sorts on Blu-ray
                                      in much more detail than we did last year.            and HD-DVD, followed by the much-asked ques-
                                          For the uninitiated, Blu-ray and HD-DVD are       tion, “Which format will win?”
                                      the next generation of optical storage, though
                                      there do exist several competing formats as           So What Are Blu-Ray And HD-DVD?
                                      well. Blu-ray offers about 25 GB of storage on a      The Blu-ray standard was developed by a group of
                                      single layer, but a Blu-ray Disc (BD) can and will    companies called the Blu-ray Disc Association
                                      host more than one                                    (BDA). Blu-ray gets its name from the “blue-
                                      layer—hence                                           violet” laser used to write the data to disc. (Differ-
                                      a typical                                             ent laser wavelengths have different colours.)
                                      dual-layer                                            The blue-violet laser has a wavelength much
                                                                                            shorter than that used to write conventional
                                                                                            DVDs, which happens to be red. The shorter
                                                                                              wavelength makes it possible to read and write
                                                                                                 smaller “pits,” meaning that data can be
                                                                                                    packed more densely.
                                                                                                           Ones and zeroes are stored on opti-
                                                                                                                       cal media—CDs and
                                                                                                                           DVDs included—in
                                                                                                                               the form of
     3D Modeling Vikram Kathare and
     Pradip Ingale




38           DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                                          Digital Passion l In Sight
                                                                                     area of illumination, which allows for the focus-
     Some Blu-ray And HD-DVD specs                      Where the                    ing of the beam with higher precision—and
 Parameter               Blu-Ray      HD-DVD            technical specs              therefore, the possibility of a reduction in the
 Capacity (ROM SL)       23.3/25 GB   15 GB             are concerned,               track pitch and pit length.
 Laser wavelength        405 nm       405 nm            the main                         Where the technical specs are concerned, the
 Numerical Aperture      0.85         0.65                                           main difference between Blu-ray and HD-DVD is in
 Read power              0.35 mW      0.50 mW
                                                        difference                   the disc structure itself. HD-DVD uses specifica-
 Protection layer        0.1 mm       0.6 mm            between Blu-ray              tions similar to DVD: the base disc is 0.6 mm thick,
 Track pitch             0.32 µm      0.40 µm           and HD-DVD                   and the protective layer is 0.6 mm thick. Blu-ray
 Minimum pit length      ~150 nm      204 nm            is in the disc               uses a 1.1 mm base disc, with a protective layer
                                                        structure itself             only 0.1 mm thick. This “small” difference means
bumps and pits. A bump is an area of the substrate                                   a lot: in Blu-ray, the recording layer is closer to the
(the material on which the data is written) where                                    disc surface. This means the laser has to pass
there is no pit, so the pit is what is taken into                                    through less material to read from and write to.
consideration when one talks about burning data                                      This in turn makes for a higher NA for the laser
onto optical media. It is definitely not as simple as                                lens (see figure The Effect Of NA On Lens Focusing). A
“a pit is a one and a bump is a zero,” but one can                                   higher NA, as we said, means a lower track pitch
think of it that way to simplify things.                                             and a smaller pit length. And the lower track pitch
    HD-DVD, too, uses the shorter-wavelength blue-                                   and smaller pit length mean more data can be
violet laser. The name “HD-DVD” itself stands for,                                   packed onto a BD than an HD-DVD.
of course, High-Density Digital Versatile Disc.                                          So why does HD-DVD use a thicker protec-
    Both the Blu-ray and HD-DVD camps say they                                       tive material, and how come a BD won’t get
will initially be providing “hybrid discs,” with a                                   scratched easily?
high-definition disc on one side and a regular DVD
on the other—so that consumers will be able to               Track Pitch And Pit Length
play movies on their DVD players for now, in a
measure of future-proofing.

How Are BD And HD-DVD Different?
We need to explain three terms here—numerical                                Track Pitch                                Smaller Track Pitch
aperture (NA), track pitch, and pit length.
    The light-gathering capacity of a lens is indi-
cated by its NA. It is dependent on the diameter                                                                                        Smaller
of the lens as well as on the quality of the optics.                                                                                      Pit
The higher the NA—meaning the lens can gather                                                                                           Length
more light—the better.
    The track pitch (see figure Track Pitch And Pit
Length) is the distance between the centres of two
successive rounds of the spiral track on which
the pits are burnt. The smaller the track pitch,
                                                                                              Pit
the more the number of tracks on the disc, and                                              Length
hence the more the data that can be stored on
                                                                    Regular DVD                              HIgh Density DVD
the disc as a whole.
    The pit length (again, see figure Track Pitch
And Pit Length) is simply the size of the burnt pit.     At left is the pits and bumps on a DVD substrate. The bumps are the areas where
    Now, the NA and the wavelength define the            there are no pits. The pit length, and the track pitch—the distance between two
                                                         consecutive rounds of the data spiral—are marked. To right is a high-density (blue
size of the laser beam. A higher NA and a shorter
                                                         laser) DVD; the pit length is smaller, and so is the track pitch
wavelength means a laser beam with a smaller




                                                                                                                         DIGIT DECEMBER 2005      39
                                 Digital Passion l In Sight
                                           HD-DVD went with the thicker protective layer                                          with a capacity of 100 GB had been developed. It is,
                                       so that, by virtue of its similarity to DVD, no hard          Data transfer                of course, the most advanced optical media
                                       coating was required; this also meant it was easier           speeds, though               developed to date.
                                       to make future drives backwards-compatible                    not as important                 What about speeds? Data transfer speeds,
                                           Indeed, backwards-compatibility with DVD is               as capacity, are             though not as important as capacity, are still an
                                       one of the things HD-DVD proponents frequently                still an important           important factor in the adoption of any storage
                                       state. However, it might well turn out that Blu-ray           factor in the adop-          medium. Here, Blu-ray is ahead again by virtue of
                                       drives will be forced to be backwards-compatible              tion of any stor-            the specifications themselves—specifically, the NA
                                       with DVD as well.                                             age medium                   and the wavelength. Blu-ray needs a lower disc
                                           Early BDs were indeed susceptible to scratches,                                        rotation speed than HD-DVD to reach the same
                                       so much so that they had to be enclosed in plastic                                         data transfer rates. 36 Mbps (1x) is the base speed
                                       caddies. But in January of 2004, TDK introduced a                                          for BDs, but BD-ROM movies will require a 54 Mbps
                                       proprietary clear polymer coating under the name                                           data transfer rate—so the minimum speed the BDA
                                       ‘Durabis’. This made BDs even more scratch resist-                                         is expecting to see in drives is 2x (72 Mbps).
                                       ant than DVDs! Now, BDs with the coating can also                                              Blu-ray also has the potential for much higher
                                       withstand attack by a screwdriver. according to a                                          speeds. While the media itself limited recording
                                       release on CNET News.com: “Researchers at TDK                                              speeds in the past, the only limiting factor for Blu-
                                       have developed a tough coating that will make                                              ray is the capacity of the hardware. The upper limit
                                       scratched DVDs a thing of the past. In a test                                              of today’s drives in terms of constant rotation
                                       conducted by CNET News.com, a DVD treated with                                             speed is about 10,000 rpm. This speed would result
                                       TDK’s coating survived a determined attack with                                            in a 12x (400 Mbps) transfer rate for a BD, and
                                       a screwdriver with no effect on playability.”                                              “only” 9x for an HD-DVD.
                                                                                                                                      It’s true that such high speeds are not required
                                       Layers And Speeds                                                                          today, and HD-DVD proponents are likely to point
                                       A single Blu-ray layer holds 25 GB; a single HD-DVD                                        out that 9x or 12x should make no difference to
                                       layer holds 15 GB. But it’s not as simple as “Blu-ray                                      the end user—you. In reply, Blu-ray proponents
                                       is higher capacity than HD-DVD,” as you’ll find out.                                       would say that the 9x/12x difference showcase the
                                            In March of this year, at the Media Tech Expo                                         superiority of their technology.
                                       2005 in Las Vegas, the two camps demonstrated
                                       their current disc production capabilities. A stan-                                        Where And When Can I Get Them?
                                       dard two-layer HD-DVD-ROM is 30 GB. Toshiba                                                We can provide a few indicators here: for the
                                       showed off a three-layer HD-DVD-ROM, which is                                              general consumer, 2006 seems to be the year. Play-
                                       45 GB; this was essentially their response to the                                          ers for Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs should arrive in
                                       criticism of HD-DVD’s lower capacity. Now a dual-                                          stores in the US, Japan and many other countries
                                       layer Blu-ray disc is 50 GB, but with 45 GB possi-                                         sometime in 2006. BD-ROM pre-recorded media
                                       ble with three layers, HD-DVD had narrowed the                                             will probably be available by early 2006. Recorders
                                       difference to a mere 5 GB.                                                                 should become available later in 2006 or in early
                                            The capacity game itself is indicative of what’s                                      2007. It’s not clear how much of a delay there will
                                       going on in the format war. For instance, in                                               be in terms of availability in India.
                                       response to Toshiba, TDK, a member of the BDA,                                                 Pioneer might soon introduce a Blu-ray writer
                                       said it was working on a four-layer Blu-ray disc,                                          for PCs. Toshiba might soon introduce drives for
                                       which would have a capacity of 100 GB. And in                                              reading HD-DVDs in laptops. Imation, a member
                                       June, it was reported that TDK had delivered on                                            of the BDA and a name familiar in India, is final-
                                       their promise—a prototype recordable Blu-ray disc                                          ising the development of both HD-DVD and Blu-
                                                                                                                                  ray media, utilising a protective disc coating for
                                                The Effect Of NA On Lens Focusing                                                 both formats. During 2006, Imation plans to
                                                                                                                                  launch BD-RE (rewritable) and BDR (recordable)
                                                                                                                                  25 GB (single-layer) and 50 GB (dual-layer) media.
                                                                                                                                  At around the same time, the company also plans
                                                    CD                                                                            to launch the HD DVD-R (recordable) and HD
                                                                                                                                  DVD-ReR (Re-recordable) 15 GB single-layer and 30
                                                                                  DVD
                                                                                                                                  GB dual-layer HD-DVD formats.

                                        Laser
                                        Lens
                                                                                                                Blu-ray           Who’s On Whose Side?
                                                                                                                                  There’s news every week or so about someone
                                                                                                                                  having joined one camp or the other. Here are
                                                                                                                                  some of the more important or interesting facts.
                                                                                                                                       The first consumer Blu-ray device in the US is
                                                                                                                                  expected to be PlayStation 3. In October, Para-
                                                                                                                                  mount became the first studio to lend its support
     Infographic Shrikrishana Patkar




                                                                                                                                  to both sides—earlier, it was part of the HD-DVD
                                                                                                                                  camp. Closer home, Moser Baer, interestingly, is on
                                                                              Recording Layer                                     the HD-DVD side.
                                                                                                                                       Prominent companies on the BDA (Blu-ray
                                         At left is a laser lens focusing the laser onto a CD substrate. Note that the distance   Disc Association) include Sony, TDK, Dell,
                                         between the lens and the top of the CD is quite large. Next is the DVD case; the NA      Hitachi, Apple, HP, Philips and Samsung. The
                                         value is larger, and the beam is more sharply focused. Finally, in Blu-ray, the NA is
                                         even larger, the lens gets even closer to the disc surface, the amount of material the
                                                                                                                                  list of consumer electronics companies on Blu-
                                         laser has to go through is the smallest, and the beam is the most tightly focused.       ray’s side is long—from Panasonic, Samsung,
                                                                                                                                  Sharp and Pioneer to LG Electronics and more.

40                                 DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                               Digital Passion l In Sight
Video game maker Electronic Arts is with Blu-                                  Managed Copy is a guaranteed feature in HD-
ray, as are the entertainment companies Twen-
                                                       In the case of          DVD that enables consumers to make legiti-
tieth Century Fox, Vivendi Universal, Walt             Blu-ray, new            mate copies of their discs to a hard disc.
Disney, and, of course, Sony Pictures.                 facilities will be      Proven low-cost, high-volume manufacturing.
    HD-DVD is being promoted by, amongst               required in all         HD DVD-ROM discs will offer dual-layer 30 GB
others, NEC, Sanyo, and the Wintel duo—Microsoft       areas—disc and          discs at launch, compared with BD-ROM discs,
and Intel. Toshiba leads the HD-DVD consortium.                                which will be limited to (single-layer) 25 GB.
Entertainment companies backing HD-DVD are
                                                       player production,      The compatibility of HD-DVD with DVD facili-
HBO, New Line Cinema, Universal Studios Home           and movie-disc          tates development of slim drives for integra-
Entertainment and Warner Home Video.                   replication             tion in notebooks.
                                                                               HD-DVD supports the iHD interactivity stan-
What Do HD-DVD Proponents Say?                                                 dard, that uses XML—and Vista uses XML. Blu-
Blu-ray boasts of higher capacities, and that’s                                ray does not!
enough to make one wonder, “Why HD-DVD?” It
appears that Blu-ray has everything going for it,                           So Which Format Will “Win”?
including a lot of support from hardware makers.                            We’re as unsure as anyone else out there! Here’s a
    But HD-DVD has one key advantage for now:                               disjointed set of facts that could possibly have a
cost. In the case of Blu-ray, new facilities will be                        bearing on the issue.
required in all areas—disc and player manufac-                                  First, a word about hybrid discs. We mentioned
ture, and also movie-disc replication. Since the                            that both camps will initially offer hybrid discs
physical specifications of HD-DVD have a lot in                             that can be played on existing DVD players. That
common with DVD, most manufacturing plants                                  was a simplification: the truth is that Microsoft
currently making DVD players, discs and movies                              and others claim hybrid discs will be a reality with
can also be used for HD-DVD.                                                HD-DVD, but probably not so for Blu-ray.
    Proponents of the two camps say different                                   In late September, Richard E Doherty, program
things, and sometimes quote obscure sources.                                manager in Microsoft’s media entertainment tech-
We can’t be sure who’s accurate, but we know                                nology convergence group, stressed the matter of
that Microsoft and Intel have joined the HD-DVD                             timing in delivering a solution. Saying that “HD-
bandwagon, thus lending some weight to the                                  DVD has shown that hybrid discs will be a reality
HD-DVD camp. Here are some things that HD-                                  for consumers at launch,” he indicated there was
DVDers (if we can call them that) are likely to say:                        “no roadmap for the development and availabil-
                                                                            ity of a BD hybrid disc”!
   “HD DVD has a proven 30 GB capacity, while                                   Some say Microsoft will eventually support
   currently, Blu-ray has only delivered 25 GB                              Blu-ray due to its inherent capacity advantage—
   outside of the lab—this is half of what its                              there might not be native support for Blu-ray in
   proponents promised.”                                                    Vista, initially, but it will be there! Vista is, of
   “Both formats said they would develop a stan-                            course, something one must think about when
   dard that supports playing of both, DVDs as                              talking about technological storage and enter-
   well as their next-generation standards, but so                          tainment issues these days.
   far, only HD-DVD has delivered.”                                             Who will get to the market first with higher
   “The capacity for volume production of HD                                capacities? It’s not obvious that it will be Blu-
   DVD discs is already in place.”                                          ray. Remember, we spoke about Blu-ray being
                                                                            limited to 25 GB (single-layer) at launch,
    And as to Microsoft and Intel backing HD-DVD,                           compared to HD-DVD that would be 30 GB (dual-
they cited the following requirements of “any                               layer) at launch.
successful next-generation optical format for high                              Here’s an example of the kind of bickering that
definition,” which HD-DVD can deliver right now.                            seems to be going on these days: two months ago,




                                                                                                            DIGIT DECEMBER 2005    41
         Digital Passion l In Sight
         the above claim was refuted by Blu-ray, which said                                    license Betamax to OEMs, while JVC and
         that BD-ROMs will be 50 GB at launch, although no
                                                                   When VCRs were              Matsushita licensed VHS to whoever wanted it.
         launch date was mentioned. Doherty had this to            introduced, Sony            VHS became the standard. Sony is now pushing
         say about the 50 GB launch: “The 50 GB claim for          was pushing Beta-           the technologically superior Blu-ray…
         BD-ROM discs is unproven and will not be avail-           max, considered                  Talking about Betamax, one of the reasons
         able for many years to come, based on discussions         technologically             your old video cassettes are VHS and not Betamax
         with major Japanese and US replicators. Replica-                                      is because pornographers took to VHS and not
         tors not only do not have test lines running, they
                                                                   superior; JVC and           Betamax. Like it or not, much of entertainment
         cannot even pre-order the equipment to begin              Matsushita were             technology has been driven by “The Other Holly-
         evaluating this disc. They cannot judge the cost of       pushing VHS. VHS            wood.” The porn industry releases over 11,000 new
         these discs, or even whether they can be manu-            became the                  titles on DVD every year, compared to about 400
         factured at all. Major replicators can mass- manu-        standard. Sony is           by Hollywood. In which case, we don’t know
         facture 30 GB HD-DVD discs today…”                                                    anything right now about whether HD-DVD or
             There are more computer manufacturers
                                                                   now pushing the             Blu-ray will win—the fate of the format wars
         backing Blu-ray, again because of the storage             technologically             might lie in the hands of the pornographers.
         capacity aspect. Blu-ray is ready to go with 50 GB,       superior Blu-ray                 It may not even be Blu-ray or HD-DVD at all: it
         and the theoretical limit for a four-layer HD-DVD                                     may be EVD, China’s next-generation DVD format!
         disc is only 60 GB. The present might be in favour                                    EVD is a red-laser format, and promises capacities
         of HD-DVD, but remember that a 100 GB BD has                                          of 16 GB. So what’s so great about EVD? Not much,
         already been developed!                                                               except that China wants it. That country produces
             In terms of the security and anti-piracy                                          70 to 80 per cent of the world’s DVD players, and
         features that will be offered by the two formats,                                     manufacturers pay a large amount in terms of
         Blu-ray has BD+ and ROM-Mark, which HD-DVD                                            licensing fees to the international owners of the
         doesn’t offer (see box Enhanced Security In Blu-ray).                                 intellectual property patents for DVD players.
         That means in theory, Blu-ray discs will be                                           China is not happy.
         tougher on pirates than HD-DVDs, which is good                                             According to the state-owned news agency
         news for the studios.                                                                 Xinhua, China will put EVD on the market “before
             News of hardware support for Blu-ray keeps                                        2008.” Hollywood is behind much of the develop-
         coming in. Just last month, it was reported that                                      ment that’s happening in the high-definition stor-
         Panasonic would soon begin sampling what it                                           age arena, but what about China’s thriving movie
         claims is “the first optical drive control chipset                                    industry, and Bollywood as well—considering that
         capable of writing to any recordable or re-write-                                     China’s biggest potential export market is India?
         able disc format”—except HD DVD. Not much of a                                        Things could change as 2008 comes by.
         surprise, since Panasonic’s parent company                                                 There is some weight behind the idea that it
         Matsushita is backing Blu-ray. The chipset speci-                                     will be the consumers who will ultimately decide
         fications list format support, and amongst these                                      what format will rule. So if HD-DVD is initially
         are CD-ROM, CD-R/RW, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM,                                                cheaper, which it might well be, it could gain the
         DVD±R/RW, BD-ROM, and BD-R/RE. No HD-DVD                                              advantage—and take over from there.
         here, definitely! Panasonic said mass production                                           This opinion is, in fact, shared by a large
         of the chipset would begin in January next year.                                      number of people: that they would upgrade their
             One could look to history and see that this is                                    DVD players when the alternative became cheap
         just another format war. Case in point: when                                          enough—so it makes sense to think that
         VCRs were introduced, there were two compet-                                          whichever format becomes “cheap enough” first
         ing formats. Sony was pushing Betamax, consid-                                        will obviously be “the winner.”
         ered technologically superior; JVC and                                                     It could even be something as silly as a name!
         Matsushita were pushing VHS. Sony refused to                                          Historically, consumers have been more likely to
                                                                                               adopt a new product when it comes as a natural
         Enhanced Security In Blu-ray                                                          progression from what it is replacing. HD-DVD
                                                                                               seems the natural progression of DVD, in terms of

     C   opy-protection schemes on blue-laser discs are more advanced. BD+ and ROM-
         Mark are specific to Blu-ray; the scheme called AACS will be used by both HD-
     DVD and Blu-ray.
                                                                                               the name. “HD-DVD” sounds like something to do
                                                                                               with DVD, and, admit it, “Blu-ray” sounds like the
                                                                                               name of a dangerous fish!
          BD+ is an encryption scheme that allows for dynamically changing encryption
     schemes. If the encryption scheme is hacked, as happened in the DeCSS, it can be          In Conclusion
     updated and used on all new discs.                                                        The blue-laser DVD format war has been on for
          Why is this required? Content-Scrambling System (CSS) is an unsuccessful             some time now, and will be on for the foresee-
     encryption system used on some DVDs. When the contents of a DVD are encrypted,            able future. There are far too many aspects to it
     “keys” are required to unlock the content—more technically, “key sets” (because           to have explored here, and we can only hope
     there is more than one key involved). These key sets are licensed to manufacturers,       you’ve gained a foothold on what’s going on in
     who incorporate them into DVD drives and movies. As a matter of fact, the CSS             this space. 2006 will be an exciting year in the
     algorithm was reverse-engineered in 1999, and a program called DeCSS was                  unfolding of this drama, what with mass ship-
     released onto the Internet. And from then on, all DVDs became crackable! BD+ will         ments of drives and studios and other companies
     avoid such a scenario.                                                                    switching loyalties.
          ROM-Mark is a watermark that players need to see before the disc can be played.          On the other hand, some people are tired of
     Only licensed parties will be able to produce the watermark, and when you copy a          the deluge of news coming in about HD-DVD/Blu-
     disc, the watermark, which is undetectable, will not be copied—so piracy is, in theory,   ray. It might be just as well that you sit back and
     defeated. In addition, if the watermark is detected by any means, the ROM-producing       wait for a 50 GB (should that be 45 GB?) drive to
     devices, into which the technology will be built, will not reproduce the content.         ship to a store near you—and then go upgrade!
                                                                                                                          ram_mohan@thinkdigit.com

42       DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                          THIS MONTH’S CHALLENGE

  You have the original Office 2003
  CD, and also the Service Pack 2
                                           Slipstream Service
  CD. How would you integrate them
  onto one installer?
  Write in with the subject ‘Take a
                                           Pack 2 Into An Original
  crack’, and your postal address, to
  takeacrack@thinkdigit.com with your
  solution
                                           Office 2003 CD
LAST MONTH’S CHALLENGE              To change the background and foreground colour of the text in the
                                    command prompt
                                      To change colours in  Hex Value Colour
                                    the command prompt      0         Black

Win!                                Open the Registry Editor.
                                    Navigate      to    HKEY_CUR-
                                    RENT_USER\Software\Micros
                                                                         1
                                                                         2
                                                                         3
                                                                                       Blue
                                                                                       Green
                                                                                       Aqua
                                    oft\Command           Processor.     4             Red
                                    Locate the DWORD value               5             Purple
Take a Crack and Win                “DefaultColor”. If it does not       6             Yellow
JAVA and XML                        exist, create the value.             7             White
By Brett McLaughlin                     In the right pane, modify        8             Gray
Published by Shroff Pulishers &     the “DefaultColor” value, put-       9             Light Blue          The command prompt with green
Distributors Pvt Ltd                ting in a hexadecimal num-           A             Light Green         text on a grey background
                                    ber, say “82”. The first digit of    B             Light Aqua
 LAST MONTH’S WINNER
                                    this value determines the            C             Light Red           ware\Microsoft\Command
Rajul Anand
                                    background colour, and the           D             Light Purple        Processor, locate the exact
S-99, Sector -12, NOIDA,
Gautam Buddh Nagar                  second digit determines the          E             Light Yellow        same values as above and
U.P. PIN-201301                     foreground colour of the text.       F             Bright White        make the same change. Finally,
Rules and Regulations
                                    In this case, “8” corresponds to                                       exit the Registry Editor.
    Readers are requested to send   grey, and “2” corresponds to        Command Processor. Locate              All changes will be visible
in their answers by the 15th of     green. The result is a com-         the       DWORD          values    when you open the com-
the month of publication.           mand prompt window with             “CompletionChar”            and    mand prompt the next time;
   Employees of Jasubhai
                                    green text on a grey back-          “PathCompletionChar”; if           there is no need to restart
Digital Media and their relatives   ground. Similarly, the value        they do not exist, create them.    Windows.
are not permitted to participate.   “1E” would yield yellow text            “CompletionChar” is for
                                    on a blue background.               autocomplete of file names         Disclaimer: Modifying the
   Readers are encouraged to
send their replies by e-mail.
                                    Here is a table that shows what     and “PathCompletionChar”           Windows registry may cause
Jasubhai Digital Media will not     hexadecimal value corre-            is for autocomplete of folder      serious problems that may
entertain any unsolicited           sponds to what colour:              names. Modify each of the          even require you to re-install
communication.                                                          above values to “6”. The value     Windows. Hence, you should
    Jasubhai Digital Media is
                                     To change the                      “6” corresponds to [Ctrl] + [F],   use the Registry Editor with
not responsible for any damage      Autocomplete key                    which is what we wish to set       extreme caution. While edit-
to your system that may be          in the Registry Editor, navi-       it to.                             ing the Registry, there is no
caused while you are trying to      gate to HKEY_CURRENT                    Next,     navigate       to    way to undo any changes
solve the problem.
                                    _USER\Software\Microsoft\           HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Soft            you make!




                                                                                                                       DECEMBER 2005 DIGIT   43
           Digital Passion l 30 days with...
            Digital Passion l 30 Days With...



                                   MSI MEGA VIEW 588
                                   Deepak Dhingra

                                  P  ortable media playe
                                    flutter among the
                                 thrilled to be able to
                                                           rs have been aroun
                                                                               d for a while now. No
                                                          reviewers. I guess it’s
                                                                                  because reviewing
                                                                                                    netheless, the arriva
                                                                                                                         l of one in our test
                                                        spend a few days wi                          a product in this ca                     lab still creates a
                                                                            th the new MSI ME                             tegory is a lot of fu
                                                                                                GA VIEW 588. Here’                              n! I was rather
                                 Day 1: Features Galo                                                               s an account of my
                                                         re                                                                              experiences.
                                Boy, this one is sure pa                                                   VIEW 588 reproduced
                                                           cked with goodies! It too                                                the audio faithfully. Th
                                while to just read the                                   k me a           speaker was OK, but the                              e in-built
                                                          features MSI MEGA VI                                                        bundled earphones we
                                video, music, photos, vo                            EW boasts of— The                                                            re better.
                                                            ice recording, FM radio                           FM radio was very us
                                audio/video recording                                  ,                                               eful when I wanted a
                                                         , SD/MMC card slot, an                           could also record from                                 change. I
                               storage. Whew! One ca                                d portable                                      the FM directly to the
                                                          n even plug-in a digita                                                                            MP3!
                               DV or memory card rea                                 l camera,           Day 18: Useful At W
                                                           der directly into the pla                                               ork
                               or view media. I plugg                                  yer to play       I planned to check the
                                                          ed in the charger and                                                   voice recording feature
                               my dose of entertainm                                got ready for       conference I was to att                               at a press
                                                         ent.                                                                     end. Selecting the voice
                                                                                                        function from the ma                                 recording
                              Day 2: Loading It Up                                                                              in menu, I pressed the
                                                                                                        on top. Got a good vo                              record button
                              The 1.8-inch 20 GB ha                                                                             ice transcript of the pr
                                                      rd drive in the MEGA                             enough to complete my                              esentation—
                              promises enough stora                             VIEW 588                                           report at work.
                                                        ge capacity for long ho
                             entertainment. The pla                                urs of              Day 25: Picture This
                                                        yer supports many po
                             and audio formats, inc                               pular video          The digital images I ha
                                                        luding the DivX, WMV                                                     d captured over the yea
                             WMA. On connecting                                    9, MP3, and        great companion in the                                 rs found a
                                                      it with my PC, the pla                                                       MEGA VIEW 588. I cou
                             detected as a removab                              yer was               them wherever I was,                                   ld view
                                                      le drive. File transfer thr                                              and also view them at
                            USB 2.0 interface was                                  ough the           connecting it to a TV                              home by
                                                      fast and I copied videos                                                and running a slidesh
                            photos in seconds.                                    , music, and                                                          ow with music.
                                                                                                     Day 28: For The Reco
                            Day 3: Now The Fun                                                                                   rd
                                                       Starts!                                       There was a cricket ma
                           The press of a button                                                                               tch between India and
                                                     brought its 3.5-inch TF                        and I wanted to captu                                 South Africa,
                           life. Using the 5-way                                 T display to                                 re some of the action.
                                                    navigation key, made                            player to my TV using                              I connected the
                          menu child’s play. Al                                handling the                                    the AV cable and used
                                                   l I had to do was scroll                         remote controller to rec                             the wireless
                          the desired function,                                 and select                                     ord replays from the com
                                                   click the file I wanted                          armchair. This is one                                   fort of my
                          was all set!                                         to play, and I                               gadget I don’t want to
                                                                                                                                                      let go of!
                                                                                                   Day 30: All Good Th
                         Day 5: My Personal                                                                                  ings…
                                                   Movie Theatre                                   It was end of the road
                         I had to fly to Delhi for                                                                           for me and my MEGA
                                                     some work. During the                         And I was sad to see it                            VIEW 588.
                        flight, I tried out my                                   two-hour                                     go. I sure hope another
                                                  new personal movie the                                              comes along soon. Sig              one like it
                        plugged in my earpho                                  atre! I                                                         h!
                                                  nes so as not to disturb
                        passengers and starte                                  my co-                                                   deepak_dhingra@thi
                                                                                                                                                            nkdigit.com
                                                  d the action flick I ha
                        Video playback on the                               d loaded.
                                                   gizmo was decent and
                        movie ended just as the                               the
                                                    landing was announced
                                                                                 .
                       Day 10: Play It Again
                       When I played some
                       music, the MSI MEGA




Imaging Sivala
              l S Ph   otograph Jiten
                                        Gandhi




44        DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
     ZERO1 Awards 2005




     Citius, Altius, Fortius




                           Illustration and Imaging Pradip Ingale
                           3D modelling Vikram Kathare
46   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
The Olympic motto perhaps comes closest to describing
Digit’s Zero1 awards this year. With hundreds of the best
products in each category vying for Gold, victory has never
been sweeter for the winners than this year




I
     n technology, more than in any         terabyte! And that’s not all—SATA was
     other market, the race for the         new to the race last year, but is
     laurels is as hotly contested as in    omnipresent this year, and is already
     the Olympics. Races are won by a       being challenged by SATA II. This has
hairsbreadth, scores are often tied to      brought amazing amounts of storage
the very end, and when in competi-          at terrific read and write speeds.
tion, even superb products may fall by          As with real-world sportspersons,
the wayside, losing to the mighty.          our contestants, too, got numerous
    The difference between the              face lifts. Manufacturers have
Olympics and Digit’s Zero1 awards is        suddenly begun to take the looks of
that we encourage competitors on            several products—including mother-
steroids and welcome performance            boards and graphics cards!—seriously.
enhancers with open arms! This is,          And when it comes to lifestyle prod-
after all, technology we’re talking         ucts, looks are just as important as
about, and performance is a key chal-       performance. The drop in LCD prices
lenge here. Of course, reliability and      has helped large-scale adoption of the
reasonable costs also play a big role in    TFT-LCD monitor. Printers have curves
our recommendations to our readers.         and all-new space-saving designs.
    As the year draws to a close, we        Speakers are more powerful and
recap which products have survived          smaller, not to mention a lot prettier!
our gruelling tests, shedding the digi-         The year has also seen devices
tal equivalent of sweat and blood to        compete inter-category, most notably
emerge as the 2005 champions.               the mobile phone. Today’s smart-
    There has been a fair share of          phones contend head-to-head with
upsets this year, as you will see.          PDAs, entry-level digital cameras and
However, nothing pleased us more            MP3 players as well. MP3 players have
than finding out that the predictions       morphed into portable media players,
we made last year were spot on!             adding video to their list of features.
    Just a year ago, AMD stole the lime-    And all the while, prices have fallen
light with its 64-bit processors, and we    drastically, so it’s now not ridiculous
predicted that this year would see a        to think of owning a device that will
shift towards 64-bit CPUs. As you read      let you watch hours of movies on the
this, both Intel and AMD are now grad-      go—or one that will let you click
ually shifting towards 64-bit comput-       megapixel-resolution images, listen to
ing. What’s more, there are already         music, FM, record video and audio,
dual-core CPUs from both companies          surf the Internet, check your e-mail,
in the market.                              while still letting you make and
    This fever hasn’t hit only the CPU      receive phone calls!
industry—the GPU community has                  We’ve seen the same trend in the
seen nVidia’s SLI and ATi’s CrossFire       digital camera segment, so much so
dual-GPU technology really begin to         that it almost makes no sense to even
take off. ATi and nVidia have battled it    look at a film camera anymore. Entry-
out in the graphics card champi-            level cameras boast of features that
onship this year, and the result is         were only available on the expensive,
graphics that make you squeal with          “high-end” cameras of just a couple of
delight. Not only did this battle bring     years ago.
us high-end gaming products, it also            Almost every urban Indian home
increased the options for those of us       bought a technology product in the
who play in the lower leagues—              past year, and this has prompted
onboard graphics. Graphics chipsets         multinationals to flood the markets
from ATi and nVidia that can be found       with a seeming embarrassment of
even on lower-end motherboards, are         choices in every category. Perhaps this
better performers than the best graph-      is what makes this year’s Zero1
ics cards available just a few years ago!   Awards most significant.
    Competitions were fought not just           Let’s take a look at the crème de la
in the silicon arena, but also between      crème of technology products that
the champions of “iron oxide valley”.       have won the Gold medals in our
Hard disk capacities doubled this year,     tests. Remember, no prizes for second
and we actually saw sizes of half a         place here!



                                                                   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005   47
     ZERO1 Awards 2005
                           CELL PHONES                                   Walkman branding is justi-
                           Sony Ericsson W800i Walkman                   fied by a couple of unique fea-
                           Specs: 262K Colour Screen, Tri-band,          tures: the ability to use the
                           Bluetooth, Infrared, 2-mp Camera with         device as just a music player
                           Flash, GPRS, Stereo FM radio, Expandable      when the phone is switched
                           Memory, 512 MB Memory Stick Duo               off, and the provision of a
                                                                         standard 3.5 mm jack on
                           Our Verdict: The best cell phone we’ve seen   the headset, which lets you
                           in the year, the Sony Ericsson W800i is the   connect your own head-
                           first mobile phone to sport the Walkman       phones—or even connect the device
                           branding. It weighs just 99 grams, but        to a home theatre system.
                           packs in some mean features! In terms of          Whether you’re a music lover, a shutter-
                           memory, the 512 MB Memory Stick Duo           bug, or just want to make a style statement,
                           card is decent.                               this is a great cell phone to own!
                               Frequent SMSers will love the joystick
                           and the keypad on the W800i. The              Runner-Up: Sony Ericsson K750i



                           DIGITAL CAMERAS                               shape with slight-
                           Low-End                                       ly curved edges,
                           Canon PowerShot A400                          this camera has
                           Specs: 3.3 Megapixel CCD Sensor, Maximum      sound build qual-
                           Resolution 2048 x 1536, 2.2X Optical Zoom     ity; it also has an
                           With Additional Digital Zoom, 1.5-inch LCD    inbuilt lens cover.
                           Display, Integrated Flash, SD Memory              At purchase, the camera relies only on
                           Support, USB 1.1, Video-Out, AA battery       16 MB of SD memory, which obviously can’t
                                                                         store too many snaps. A notable aspect of
                           Our Verdict: In this segment, a combination   the A400 is its wait time of only two sec-
                           of over 3 mp with a 2X optical zoom lens      onds between two shots, which is good!
                           would make for an good camera—and that’s          Good performance, a decent feature set
                           where the Canon PowerShot A400 stands.        and sensible pricing makes the Canon
                               Colour reproduction is remarkable.        PowerShot A400 stand tall in the competi-
                           The camera is comfortable to use, and the     tive entry-level segment.
                           menu navigation buttons are ideally
                           placed and sized. Very rectangular in         Runner-Up: HP PhotoSmart M307



                           Mid-Range
                           Sony CyberShot DSC-W5                         tion      capabilities.
                           Specs:   5.1 Megapixel CCD sensor,            Featured on this cam-
                           Maximum Resolution 2592 x 1944, 3X            era is the Carl Zeiss
                           Optical Zoom With Additional Digital          lens—a lens that has
                           Zoom, 2.5-inch LCD Display, Integrated        partnered with Sony
                           Flash, MS Pro Memory Support, USB 2.0,        in its success. 32 MB of internal memory
                           Video-Out, AA Battery                         lets the camera hold a few snaps without an
                           Our Verdict: We felt this camera could have   additional memory card, but that is defi-
                           done with a higher optical zoom rating        nitely not an alternative. The camera’s size,
                           than 6X, but the Sony stands tall with its    build quality and ergonomics make it an
                           excellent and unmatched picture reproduc-     ideal choice for travel.


                           HP PhotoSmart 945                                 The 945 can only
                           Specs:  5.3 Megapixel CCD Sensor,             captures 60 sec-
                           Maximum Resolution 2608 x 1952, 8X            ond movie
                           Optical Zoom With Additional Digital          clips,   and
                           Zoom, 1.5-inch LCD Display, Integrated        the resolu-
                           Flash, SD Memory Support, USB 2.0,            tion of this
                           Video-Out, AA battery                         capture    is
                                                                         unusually
                           Our Verdict: Somewhat on the bulkier side,    low, at 288 x
                           this camera houses a rather small LCD         208. Excellent
                           screen. The HP 945 looks and feels like an    ergonomics and
                           SLR; the huge lens zooms to 8X. This is one   good performance puts the HP
                           feature-rich camera; you can use the print-   PhotoSmart 945 in the winners’ category.
                           er USB attachment to directly print the
                           snaps on a compatible HP printer.             Runner-Up: Sony CyberShot DSC-S40

48   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                                                               ZERO1 Awards 2005
           High-End
           Sony CyberShot DSC-P200                                     nator—this
           Specs:  7.2 Megapixel CCD sensor,                           emits light to
           Maximum Resolution 3072 x 2304, 3X                          facilitate focus-
           Optical Zoom With Additional Digital                        ing when the
           Zoom, Manual/Auto Focus, 2.0-inch LCD                       subject is in
           Display, Integrated Flash, MS/MS Pro                        dark surroundings. 3X optical zoom may
           Memory Support, USB 2.0, Video-Out, Li-                     sound a little low, but the camera’s high
           Ion battery                                                 megapixel rating and excellent print and
                                                                       image quality make up for it. Low image
           Our Verdict: The DSC-P200 is sleek and                      noise and excellent low-light perform-
           compact, and the Carl Zeiss lens provides                   ance make the CyberShot DSC-P200
           amazing picture clarity. The ergonomics                     a winner.
           of the camera is perfectly designed for
           travel. The camera features an AF illumi-                   Runner-Up: Nikon Coolpix 5900


           GRAPHICS CARDS
           AGP cards - Budget
           XFX GeForce FX 5200 256 MB
           Specs: nVidia GeForce FX 5200, 256 MB
           DDR Memory, 4 Pixel Pipelines, 250                              O u r
           MHz Core Speed, 400 MHz Memory                              tests showed
           Speed, DirectX 9 and OpenGL 1.4                             that    the    card
           Compliant, AGP 8X, Dual-Monitor                             allows for moderate
           Support and S-Video TV-Out                                  gaming at low resolutions.
                                                                       The XFX GeForce FX 5200 256
           Our Verdict: Support for DirectX 9 means                    MB attempts to give you high-end fea-
           this card supports Pixel Shader 2.0 and                     tures at rock-bottom prices, and in many
           Vertex Shader 2.0, so most games using                      ways, it succeeds in doing just that.
           these will be playable on this card,
           although at low resolutions.                                Runner-Up: XFX GeForce FX 5200 64 MB



                AGP Cards - Low-End
            XFX GeForce 5700 Ultra 128 MB
            Specs: nVidia GeForce FX 5700, 128 MB
            DDR Memory, 4 Pixel Pipelines, 425 MHz                     well as
            Core Speed, 550 MHz Memory Speed,                          OpenGL 1.5.
            DirectX 9 and OpenGL 1.5 Compliant,                            You can get
            AGP 8X, Dual-Monitor Support and                           big-screen gaming at a
            S-Video TV-Out                                             considerably low price via
                                                                       the S-Video TV-out. This card is for those
            Our Verdict: If 1024 x 768 is the gaming                   who still have an AGP system and are get-
            resolution you never breach, the XFX                       ting warmed up for a bit of gaming with
            GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128 MB is the card                   decent visual quality.
            for you. This card can deal with most
            games with the eye-candy turned down.                      Runner-Up: Gigabyte GeForce FX 5700
            There is support for Shader Model 2.0+ as                  128 MB



                 Bose Wave Music System
                 If you’re looking for a                                              shows the time and other informa-
                 music system that will fit                                           tion such as ID3 tags. All the func-
                 on the corner table of your                                          tions to run this device are packed on
Showstoppers!




                 bedroom, your search                                                 the remote control, which explains
                 ends here. The retro-looking Bose Wave Music                         why the thing is devoid of buttons on
                 System is packed with current-generation features,                   the front panel.
                 including an audio CD player, an MP3 player, an            Other nifty features include automatic night-
                 AM/FM radio tuner and an alarm that can wake           time dimming of the display, gentle increments in
                 you up to your favourite radio station. That’s not     volume to avoid sudden bursts in sound output, and
                 all; the sound quality of the System will make a       the power cord that doubles up as an antenna.
                 high-end 2.1 surround system sound ordinary.               And, of course, the sound output is pure
                      These features are packed in a trapezoidal        Bose—pristine, clear and vibrant, with hardly a
                 casing with a green display on the front panel that    trace of distortion.


                                                                                                                                   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005   49
     ZERO1 Awards 2005
                           AGP Cards - Mid-Range
                           Gainward GeForce FX 5900XT                   digi-
                           128 MB                                       tal dis-
                           Specs: nVidia GeForce FX 5900XT, 128 MB      play can be
                           DDR Memory, Pseudo 8 Pixel Pipelines,        connected to this
                           420 MHz Core Speed, 700 MHz Memory           card.
                           Speed, DirectX 9 and OpenGL 1.5              In our gaming tests, this
                           Compliant, AGP 8X, Dual-Monitor              card gave more than acceptable frame
                           Support, TV-Out                              rates at high resolutions and high set-
                                                                        tings. The performance is more than sat-
                           Our Verdict: This card has the core and      isfying and it gives you more bang for
                           memory overclocked so you get the high-      your buck.
                           est performance possible at its specifica-
                           tions. The DVI connector means that a        Runner-Up: None


                           AGP Cards - High-End
                           Gainward GeForce 6800GT                      such    as
                           256 MB                                       Doom 3
                           Specs: nVidia GeForce 6800GT, 256 MB         and appli-
                           GDDR3 Memory, 16 Pixel Pipelines, 350        cations
                           MHz Core Speed, 1000 MHz Memory              such as
                           Speed, DirectX 9 and OpenGL 1.5              3DMark
                           Compliant, AGP 8X, Dual-Monitor              at the highest of
                           Support, TV-Out                              resolutions with all settings
                                                                        cranked up to the max. It is priced very
                           Our Verdict: The Gainward GeForce            high, but for those with a real passion for
                           6800GT 256 MB is the big daddy of all the    gaming, price never does matter.
                           AGP cards we’d tested. Its unique dual-          Those insane frame rates at the high-
                           fan heat sink is designed to provide extra   est resolutions ensure this card is our
                           cooling to the 6800GT core.                  Zero1 Award winner!
                              The card churned out frames at blind-
                           ing speeds in resource-hungry games          Runner-Up: PowerColor Radeon X800 Pro


                           PCI Express Graphic Cards - Low-End
                           Gainward GeForce 6200 256 MB                 card, albeit
                           Specs: nVidia GeForce 6200, 256 MB           at    lower
                           TurboCache, DirectX 9.0c Compliant, DVI      resolutions.
                           Connector, S-Video out                       The card per-
                                                                        formed pretty
                           Our Verdict: The Gainward GeForce 6200       well in our
                           256 MB graphics card is targeted at the      game and syn-
                           budget segment of the graphics market,       thetic benchmark
                           and it gives you access to high-end fea-     tests, and the price
                           tures that you generally see only on high-   is just right.
                           er-version models. It features Shader
                           Model 3.0 and OpenGL 2.0, which means        Runner-Up: PowerColor X300 256 MB
                           you can play every current game on this


                           PCI Express Graphic Cards - Mid-Range
                           XFX GeForce 6600GT 256 MB                    scores in its cat-
                           Specs: nVidia GeForce 6600GT, 256 MB         egory in games
                           GDDR3, DirectX 9.0c Compliant, Dual          such as Doom 3
                           DVI connectors, S-Video Out                  and FarCry, and
                                                                        it also scored
                           Our Verdict: The XFX GeForce 6600GT,         the      highest
                           which is based on nVidia’s GeForce           3DMark points.
                           6600GT chipset, features 256 MB of fast          This card is
                           GDDR3 memory at 1 GHz. It supports           priced a bit on the high side for the mid-
                           Shader Model 3.0 and OpenGL 2.0, so all      range segment, but its superb perform-
                           current games should be playable on this     ance more than makes up for that.
                           card at a fluid pace even at high resolu-
                           tions. The 6600GT posted the highest fps     Runner-Up: XFX GeForce 6600GT 128 MB


50   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                                                                   ZERO1 Awards 2005
            PCI Express Graphic Cards - High-End
                XFX GeForce 7800 GTX 256 MB                                technique          that
                Specs: nVidia GeForce 7800 GTX, 256 MB                     improves upon the
                GDDR3, DirectX 9.0c Compliant, Dual DVI                    older      technique—
                connector, ViVo Capable                                    IntelliSample 3.0—
                                                                           and yields better-
                Our Verdict: The core of the XFX GeForce                   quality anti-aliased
                7800 GTX is clocked at 430 MHz. The card                   textures. There’s also
                features 256 MB of high-speed GDDR3                        UltraShadow II, using which the card ren-
                memory running at 1.25 GHz. It’s a card                    ders highly realistic shadows for a fuller
                in a class of its own.                                     3D experience in games such as Doom 3.
                    It supports DirectX 9.0c—which essen-                  Then there’s HDR—High Dynamic Range—
                tially means Shader Model 3.0—and it’s                     imaging, which is used to render real-
                also 100 per cent OpenGL 2.0 compliant.                    world scenes that contain light ranges
                This means gaming on this card will be a                   exceeding the normal dynamic range. This
                veritable feast for your senses—expect                     is visible in effects such as realistic glares
                lightning-fast performance even in the lat-                in games such as FarCry.
                est games such as Quake 4 and Call of Duty                     Of course the XFX GeForce 7800 GTX is
                2. This card treated the games in our tests                expensive. But if you’re a hardcore gamer,
                like office applications, even with all the                go get this card right now—this is the best
                eye-candy turned on.                                       there is!
                    The card sports exotic features such as
                IntelliSample 4.0, which is an anti-aliasing               Runner-Up: MSI NX7800 GTX 256 MB



            HARD DRIVES
            Western Digital Caviar SE                                      Like the any
            250GB WD2500KS                                                 other SATA
            Specs: 250 GB, SATA II, 16 MB Data Buffer,                     drive,      the
            7200 rpm Spindle Speed                                         WD2500KS       has
                                                                           hot-plug    support,
            Our Verdict: The WD2500KS turned out                           but the added advan-
            impressive real-world test scores and                          tage is the high shock
            decent scores in the synthetic tests. Data                     resistance figure. This drive is ideal if
            transfer rates were good, but the drive is                     you want a capacity as high as 250 GB at
            tailored for intra-drive transfer perform-                     an affordable price.
            ance, thanks to the large data buffer.



                Hitachi Deskstar 250GB                                     II). The good aver-
                HDT722525DLA380                                            age read and write
                Specs: 250 GB, SATA II, 8 MB Data Buffer,                  speeds did trans-
                7200 rpm Spindle Speed                                     late into good inter-
                                                                           drive transfer speeds.
                Our Verdict: The Hitachi Deskstar 250GB                    The Hitachi Deskstar
                tied with theWD2500KS. The Hitachi                         250GB is a performer despite
                Deskstar hard drives are SATA II, but                      the smaller 8 MB data buffer (as opposed
                they are shipped as SATA I; to enable                      to the 16 MB of the WD2500KS).
                SATA II, there’s a feature tool utility—a
                bootable floppy to change the drive set-                   Runner-Up: Western Digital Caviar RE2
                tings (if the motherboard supports SATA                    (400 GB) WD4000YR


                 Apple 30-inch Cinema HD Display
                 Apple this year came up with yet another one-of-its-      image correction
                 kind product—the Apple 30-inch Cinema HD Display,         control such as hor-
Showstoppers!




                 which has a native resolution of 2560 x 1600, which       izontal/ver tical
                 translates to four million pixels! This top-of-the-line   position and size.
                 display is also the world’s largest desktop screen.       The broad 170-
                 Couple it with a framework made of anodised alu-          degree      viewing
                 minium that feels divine to the touch, and you have       angle           and
                 a product that’s truly awe-inspiring.                     the crystal-clear
                      There are just three soft-touch buttons along        hi-res images should leave you awestruck.
                 the right-hand side, one for power/sleep, and two              Considering the price, this display seems ideal
                 for brightness control. The interface to this LCD is      for multimedia centres and such—it’s out of the ques-
                 via a dual-link DVI connector, so there is no need for    tion for the typical home user.


                                                                                                                                       DIGIT DECEMBER 2005   51
     ZERO1 Awards 2005

                           EXTERNAL HARD DRIVES                            run the drive. The drive’s
                           Portable Hard Drives                            splendid speed in our
                           Seagate 100 GB ST9100801U2-RK                   data transfer tests
                           Specs: 100 GB, 5400 rpm Spindle Speed, 8        is a noteworthy
                           MB Data Buffer, USB 2.0 (no FireWire),          mention.
                           Power Over USB Interface, Blue-LED
                           Visual Indicator

                           Our Verdict: An external portable hard drive
                           with a large data buffer size of 8 MB and
                           high spindle speed of 5400 rpm is without
                           doubt an exceptional product. The USB
                           interface also supplies the power needed to     Runner-Up: Western Digital Passport 40 GB



                           Desktop External Hard Drives
                           Maxtor 300GB One Touch II                       data buffer. The
                           Specs: 300 GB, 7200 rpm Spindle Speed, 16       drive can be con-
                           MB Data Buffer, USB 2.0 and FireWire, pow-      nected via USB or
                           ered externally by adapter, power button        FireWire, and also
                           single press initiates backup.                  includes     backup
                                                                           utilities. Maxtor has
                           Our Verdict: External desktop drives are tar-   also priced this
                           geted as backup solutions. The Maxtor One       product affordably.
                           Touch II with 300 GB of storage space had
                           everything going for it. It performs like a
                           dream, thanks in good part to the large         Runner-Up: Seagate 400GB Barracuda



                           INPUT DEVICES
                           Logitech G7 Laser Cordless Mouse                and fea-
                           Specs: 2000 dpi Laser Engine, 6 buttons,        tures by
                           USB dongle, 2.4 GHz Wireless, Sensitivity       adding
                           Switching      Buttons,   Battery    Level      programmability to the
                           Indicators, 2 Lithium Ion batteries.            various buttons and
                                                                           adding the option to access
                           Our Verdict: The Logitech G7 laser cordless     sensitivity levels other than
                           gaming mouse delivers extreme gaming            the three presets available in hard-
                           performance and control with its 2000 dpi       ware. Even without drivers, the sensitivity
                           high precision laser engine. The bi-direc-      switching buttons offer the option of
                           tional USB connection sends a blazing 500       changing the mouse sensitivity in-game
                           reports/seconds over 2.4 GHz wireless. The      allowing you to quickly adapt to various sit-
                           twin “hot swappable” Li-ion battery packs       uations at the press of a button. This one
                           help reduce “downtime”.                         gets a well deserved Zero One award.
                               The Setpoint software that accompanies
                           the mouse augments the G7’s performance         Runner-Up: Logitech MX-1000


                           BUSINESS NOTEBOOKS
                           Workhorse Notebooks                             Radeon
                           MSI MegaBook M510C                              9700 on-
                           Specs: Pentium M 1.5 GHz, 256 MB RAM,           b o a r d
                           ATi Mobility Radeon 9700, 15.4-inch LCD,        ensure that
                           80 GB Hard Drive, Combo Drive, 802.11g,         this notebook
                           Gigabit LAN                                     is ready for a
                                                                           fair amount of
                           Our Verdict: TThe MSI MegaBook M510C has        gaming.       The
                           an ergonomic keyboard and touchpad,             ample 80 GB hard
                           which are desirable in a Workhorse laptop.      drive was the highest-capaci-
                           The 15.4-inch LCD has a native resolution of    ty drive in this category. Battery life is a
                           1400 x 1050, the highest in its category.       decent two hours.
                           This, along with the large viewing angles it        Overall, this is a good buy, especially
                           provides, makes it easy to work on without      considering the moderate price tag.
                           straining the eyes.
                               The fast processor and the ATi Mobility     Runner-Up: ACI Emerald C2

52   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                                                                      ZERO1 Awards 2005
                Ultra-Portable Notebooks
                                                                          well in most of
                Fujitsu LifeBook S2020                                    our performance
                Specs: Athlon XP-M 2100+, 256 MB RAM,                     benchmarks.
                ATi IGP 320M, 13.3-inch LCD, 40 GB Hard                       This happened
                Drive, Combo Drive, 802.11b+g, 10/100                     to be the only laptop
                Mbps LAN                                                  in our comparison
                                                                          test with a serial as
                Our Verdict: The S2020 is a good looker, with             well as a parallel port, for
                its small form factor and polished styling.               support of legacy devices. Overall,
                The integrated graphics provide for some                  a good, affordable ultra-portable.
                moderate amount of gaming. Despite
                being an ultra-portable, it scored decently               Runner-Up: Dell Latitude D410



                LIFESTYLE NOTEBOOKS
                Workhorse Notebooks                                       an external digital
                Acer Ferrari 4002                                         display. Connectivity
                Specs: AMD Turion 64 ML-30, 512 MB DDR                    options        include
                333 RAM, 15.4-inch Widescreen LCD, 80                     Gigabit LAN, a 56
                GB Hard Drive, DVD-RAM drive, ATi X700                    Kbps            modem,
                PCIe 128 MB Graphics                                      infrared,           and
                                                                          Bluetooth. The 4002 can
                Our Verdict: The Acer Ferrari has the ulti-               also read most types of
                mate in flaunt value. It is literally                     memory cards and PC cards.
                crammed with features. The DVD-Writer                         Whatever was thrown at it—
                happens to be a multi-writer: it can even                 games, real-world or synthetic bench-
                read and write DVD-RAMs, which is a type                  marks—this laptop returned solid perform-
                of DVD good for applications such as video                ance. A cool bundled accessory is a
                capturing because data can be directly                    Bluetooth mouse with the Ferrari logo sim-
                edited on the DVD.                                        ilar to the one on the notebook.
                    The 15.4-inch widescreen display pow-                     Now here’s something that doesn’t
                ered by the PCIe ATi X700 is sure to                      just look good—it’s got plenty on the
                delight, whether you’re a gamer or a                      inside as well!
                movie buff. And if that weren’t enough,
                there’s even a DVI connector to connect                   Runner-Up: Fujitsu LifeBook LBN3510



                Ultra-Portable Notebooks                                  VGN-S46/GP
                Sony VAIO VGN-S46/GP                                      performed
                Specs: Intel Pentium M 1733 MHz, 512 MB                   very well in
                RAM, 13.3-inch widescreen LCD, 60 GB                      all our bench-
                Hard Drive, Dual-layer DVD-Writer                         marks       and
                                                                          emerged as a
                Our Verdict: This VAIO has the elegance of                top performer.
                a Porsche and the ruggedness of a                         We don’t have any
                Mustang! The 13.3-inch widescreen display                 doubts about award-
                is the best in its class, with unmatched                  ing it the Zero1 in this
                picture quality and very large viewing                    category.
                angles.
                    The nVidia GeForce Go 6200 PCIe card                  Runner-Up: Acer TravelMate 3002WTCi and
                means decent gaming capabilities. The                     Fujitsu LifeBook LBS6240


                 Palm LifeDrive Mobile Manager
                 The LifeDrive is one of those rare handheld devices      from a 4-way navigation key
                 to exclude cell phone features. However, it does         with a centre button.
Showstoppers!




                 have excellent features, so you won’t mind carrying            In terms of connec-
                 two devices in your pocket. The LifeDrive is pow-        tivity the LifeDrive has it all-
                 ered by a 416 MHz Intel XScale processor, 64 MB of       Wi Fi, Bluetooth, USB 2.0,
                 RAM and a 4 GB hard disk (a micro drive) running         no infrared though but you
                 Palm OS 5.4 Garnet.                                      won’t miss it. It is a brilliant
                      Sporting a 320 x 480 TFT LCD touchscreen, the       organiser and portable
                 device is sleek. The gorgeous 65k screen is a god sent   entertainment           centre
                 for the eyes and the image quality is extremely crisp    which will make your life
                 and clear. The four buttons under the screen are for     synchronised. This pocket PDA is worth the buy,
                 music, photos, home menu and file browser, apart         though, of course, if it’s only a PDA you’re looking for.


                                                                                                                                          DIGIT DECEMBER 2005   53
     ZERO1 Awards 2005
                           MFDs
                           Office Inkjet MFDs
                           Lexmark X7170                                    highest in its
                           Specs: 1200 x 4800 Optical Scan Resolution,      segment.
                           PictBridge-Ready, Input and Output Tray          Though this is
                           Capacities of 100 and 25 Sheets                  not the top scorer
                           Respectively, Flatbed and Sheet-fed              across all segments,
                           Scanning Elements                                it does have an edge over the others when
                                                                            you take the whole picture into account. It
                           Our Verdict: The first thing you’ll notice       is competitively priced, ink consumption is
                           about this printer is the great user inter-      the lowest in its class, and it’s a great per-
                           face. Print quality is decent; optical scan      former to boot!
                           resolution, one of the highest in its seg-
                           ment; and scan quality, again, is one of the     Runner-Up: HP PSC 2310 All-in-one


                           Photo Inkjet MFDs
                           HP Photosmart 2608 All-in-one                    and resolutions
                           Specs: 2400 x 4800 Optical Scan Resolution,      as high as 2400
                           PictBridge-Ready, MMC Reader, Input and          x 4800.
                           Output Tray Capacities of 150 and 50                 Print speeds
                           Sheets Respectively, Flatbed CCD Scanner         are blazingly fast
                                                                            with all types of doc-
                           Our Verdict: The 2608 has an MMC card            uments, without print quality being sacri-
                           reader, and is PictBridge-compliant—so you       ficed. Scan quality is no less amazing.
                           can print without the need for a PC. The             Stunning performance together with
                           print unit uses traditional Black and            very competitive pricing make the HP
                           Colour cartridges.                               Photosmart 2608 a winner.
                              The scanner unit supports scanning
                           of A4-size media at 24-bit colour depth          Runner-Up: None


                           SoHo Laser MFDs
                           Canon MF 3110                                    depend on the
                           Specs: 1200 x 600 dpi x dpi Print                computer      to
                           Resolution, 1200 x 2400 Optical and 9600         send the docu-
                           x 9600 Interpolated Scanning Resolution,         ment in chunks—
                           250-Sheet Input Tray Capacity, Flatbed           which is the way
                           CCD Scanner                                      complex print
                                                                            jobs are handled
                           Our Verdict: This unit’s printing resolution—    by printers with a
                           1200 x 600 dpi—is the highest amongst the        smaller buffer.
                           MFDs we tested in its category. It also boasts       This MFD gives decent-quality scans,
                           of the highest optical scan resolution of        and is one of the lowest-priced MFDs in
                           1200 x 2400 dpi. The 15,000-page duty cycle,     this category. Canon has 130 service cen-
                           again, is the highest in its class.              tres where you can avail of service and the
                               The 64 MB of buffer memory means             one-year on-site warranty.
                           the printer can accept large and complex
                           document print jobs at one go; it doesn’t        Runner-Up: Lexmark X215


                           Workgroup Laser MFDs
                           Brother MFC-8440                                     This unit has
                           Specs: 1200 x 600 Printing Resolution, 600       the highest print as
                           x 2400 Scan Resolution, 250-Sheet Input          well as scan resolu-
                           Tray Capacity, Flatbed (CCD) and Sheet-Fed       tions in its category.
                           (CIS) Scanner                                    The unit features fax
                                                                            with broadcasting and
                           Our Verdict: The Brother MFC-8440 is one         scheduling features, and
                           rugged MFD, which bundles in a fax unit.         the fax memory stores up to 600 pages.
                           The printer duty cycle is huge—20,000                This MFD was reasonably fast in text
                           pages! There is a flatbed CCD scanner as         printing, and the print quality, in general,
                           well as a sheet-fed CIS scanner to handle        was much better than that of other MFDs
                           various types of scan jobs. The presence of      in its class. Brother has a decent network of
                           an ADF (Automatic Document Feeder)               service centres across India and offers a
                           means you won’t have to keep manually            three-year on-site warranty.
                           feeding in sheets to be scanned—the ADF
                           does the job for you.                            Runner-Up: Samsung SCX-4720F

54   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                                                              ZERO1 Awards 2005
                MONITORS
                CRT Monitors (17-Inch)                                 common feature
                Acer AF715                                             among 17-inch
                Specs: 0.25 mm Dot Pitch, 1600 x 1200                  tubes. The anti-
                Max Resolution @ 75Hz, 200 MHz Video                   reflective coat-
                Bandwidth                                              ing reduces glare
                                                                       and     enhances
                Our Verdict: The fine dot pitch of 0.25                picture viewing.
                mm, and the outstanding video band-                    The good picture
                width, makes this CRT the most remark-                 clarity and these
                able 17-inch tube in its class. Clear colour           excellent specifications come at an
                image reproduction on a naturally flat                 affordable price.
                screen with a highest resolution of 1600
                x 1200 at a refresh rate of 75 Hz is not a             Runner-Up: ViewSonic E71f



                CRT monitors (19-Inch)
                                                                       ness settings for
                Samsung SyncMaster 997DF                               various     viewing
                Specs: 0.20 mm Dot Pitch, 1920 x 1440 @                conditions such as
                64Hz Maximum Resolution, Shadow                        dim ambient light.
                Mask, 250 MHz Video Bandwidth                              The flat-screen
                                                                       997DF is reason-
                Our Verdict: This Samsung 19-inch CRT                  ably priced, and is
                showcases consistent overall perform-                  an attractive option for
                ance. Graphics professionals and gamers                those looking to migrate
                should take a look at this one, since it did           to a quality big-screen monitor.
                not display any ghosting or streaking in
                our tests. Unfortunately, there are no fac-            Runner-Up: Samsung SyncMaster 957MB
                tory-preset colour, contrast and bright-


                LCD Monitors (15-inch)                                 Common fea-
                Acer AL1512                                            tures such as
                Specs: 450:1 Contrast Ratio, 350 cd/m2                 a VESA wall
                Luminance, 23 ms Response Time, Inbuilt                mount and
                Speakers                                               D-Sub    and
                                                                       stereo    pin
                Our Verdict: The Acer AL1512 blends good               input types
                performance with great features at a                   are present.
                decent price tag. Other than the price                 It’s also PC
                advantage, the AL1512 sports good view-                and      Mac
                ing angles. Colour reproduction is excel-              compatible!
                lent, the picture is sharp, and the high
                luminance assures screen visibility even
                in bright ambient light. The 23 ms                     Runner-Up: CMV CT-529A
                response time may not be the best for
                gaming and movie watching, though.




                Netgear MP101 Wireless Digital Music Player
                 If you want the music on your computer to be          LCD panel on the front to display the song details,
                 playing in your bed-                                  and no buttons; all functions are controlled via the
                 room or living room—                                  feature-rich remote.
                 assuming the PC is in                                       Setting up the device is not a problem, but
Showstoppers!




                 some other room—and                                         you need to have a Wi-Fi card on your PC.
                 you don’t want to                                           The MP 101 comes with an audio RCA jack,
                 create audio CDs or                                         stereo-in pin for speakers, and an RJ45 LAN
                 MP3 CDs for your music                                              port to connect to a LAN switch if you
                 system because your song                                             are using one. Set up an Access
                 collection is too large, then                                        Point on your PC running server
                 you’re looking for the Netgear                                      software that configures DHCP con-
                 MP 101 Wireless Digital Music Player.                              nections for its clients, and the MP101
                      The MP101 is a wireless device that can stream              will look for a server, and gain an IP
                 music from your PC, sending the output to the                 address and subnet mask by itself… all you
                 speakers connected to the device. There’s a large     have to do is choose your music and hit ‘Play’!

                                                                                                                                  DIGIT DECEMBER 2005   55
     ZERO1 Awards 2005
                           LCD Monitors (17-inch)
                           Acer AL1714sm                                 duction at high reso-
                           Specs: 350:1 Contrast ratio, 370cd/m2         lutions is comparable
                           Luminance, 14 ms Response Time, Inbuilt       to that seen on high-
                           Speakers                                      end LCD screens.
                                                                             The unit itself is
                           Our Verdict: The combination of features      compact with an oval
                           and performance was just about right, but     base—it is approxi-
                           the Acer AL1714sm is also unbeatably          mately two inches
                           priced. Even the response time, among         thick. Unfortunately,
                           other features, matches the necessary         the inbuilt speakers
                           standard. The viewing angle of the screen,    are not good enough for music.
                           and the colour reproduction, are remark-      We must emphasize that the Acer
                           able. The screen also showed low ghosting     AL1714sm offers amazing value for money!
                           effect while playing movies—thanks to the
                           14 ms response time. Crisp colour repro-      Runner-Up: CMV CT-712A



                           MOTHERBOARDS                                      All our
                           With Onboard Graphics For AMD                 tests without
                           Processors (Low-End)                          exception saw the
                           MSI RS480M2-IL                                RS480M2-IL posting
                           Specs: Socket 939, PCI-Express, Onboard       high scores. It scored well
                           ATi Radeon XPress 200 Graphics, 10/100        in our gaming tests as well,
                           LAN, FireWire, SATA With RAID, Four           on account of the onboard DirectX 9 graph-
                           USB 2.0 Ports                                 ics. This motherboard is dual-core ready,
                                                                         and can accommodate the X2.
                           Our Verdict: The MSI RS480M2-IL is based on       Though it is priced considerably higher
                           the PCIe architecture and has an x16 slot     than other motherboards in its category,
                           for PCIe graphics cards, but the onboard      its excellent features and performance
                           graphics is decent enough for moderate        fetch the MSI RS480M2-IL our Zero1 Award.
                           gaming. It supports up to 4 GB of 400 MHz
                           DDR memory in dual-channel mode.              Runner-Up: TUL A480A7-VF



                           Without Onboard Graphics For AMD
                           Processors (Low-End)                          DDR memo-
                           Winfast NF4K8MC                               ry in dual-chan-
                           Specs:  Socket 939, Supports AMD              nel configuration.
                           Athlon64 X2, PCI-Express, 8-channel               A score of 30.3 in ZD-
                           Onboard Audio, Gigabit LAN, SATA With         Bench Business Winstone
                           RAID, Four USB 2.0 Ports                      2004 means this is a motherboard that can
                                                                         handle office applications much better
                           Our Verdict: This motherboard is based        than other ‘regular’ motherboards can.
                           on the nVidia nForce4 chipset usually         Couple this with the fact that this is one of
                           found on high-end motherboards, which         the lower-priced boards in this category,
                           simply translates to high-end perform-        and we have a Zero1 Award winner!
                           ance. This motherboard is AMD dual-
                           core ready. It supports 3 GB of 400 MHz       Runner-Up: Winfast NF4K8AB



                           For Intel Processors (Low-End)
                           Mercury PI915GVM                                  The scores
                           Specs: Socket LGA775, PCI-Express architec-   this board post-
                           ture, Onboard Intel graphics, Four SATA       ed in our stock
                           ports, 10/100 LAN, Four USB 2.0 Ports.        benchmarks were all
                                                                         very good, and it is
                           Our Verdict: The Mercury PI915GVM is based    decent for moderate gam-
                           on the Intel 915GV chipset, and has onboard   ing requirements and effortless handling
                           graphics in addition to the PCIe graphics     of day-to-day applications. It is a little
                           slot upgrade option. It supports up to 2 GB   expensive for an entry-level motherboard,
                           of both DDR as well as DDR2 memory at 400     but it showed good enough all-round per-
                           MHz and 533 MHz respectively. The six-        formance to win our Zero1 Award.
                           channel onboard audio is sufficient for
                           home theatre use, gaming or music.            Runner-Up: Gigabyte GA-8TRS 350MT

56   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
     ZERO1 Awards 2005
                                           For AMD processors (Mid-Range)                       PCMark04
                                           MSI K8N Neo Platinum                                 proves       the
                                           Specs: : Socket 754, AGP 8x Port, Four SATA          prowess of this
                                           With RAID, Gigabit LAN, Eight-Channel                motherboard in han-
                                           Audio, Four USB 2.0 Ports, FireWire                  dling day-to-day office
                                                                                                applications such as word
                                           Our Verdict: The MSI K8N Neo Platinum is             processors, spreadsheets, etc. Being a
                                           based on the nVidia nForce3 250Gb chipset.           Platinum series motherboard, it comes
                                           It has the best component layout in its              with a generous bundle of goodies in addi-
                                           class, with a processor area free of capaci-         tion to its features, yet it is reasonably
                                           tors and perfectly placed storage ports.             priced. Add everything up and what we
                                               Scoring a very healthy score of 32 in            have is the winner of the Zero One award.
                                           the real world benchmark Multimedia
                                           Content Creation 2004 and 3640 in                    Runner-Up: Asus K8N-E Deluxe


                                           For Intel processors (Mid-Range)
                                           Gigabyte GA-8I915G Duo                               gamer;     the
                                           Specs: Socket LGA775, x16 PCI-Express, 4             hard-core
                                           SATA Ports, Supports DDR and DDR-II                  gamers can of
                                           (400/533), On board Video and 7.1                    course add-in the
                                           Channel sound                                        fast PCI express
                                                                                                graphic card. Since
                                           Our Verdict: Based on the Intel 915G                 915 chipset board use ICH6 Southbridge,
                                           chipset, this motherboard is skilfully               the support for SATA storage media is
                                           designed with pack of features – sup-                excellent especially for I/O intensive
                                           porting both DDR and DDR2, 7.1 channel               work that needs higher data transfer
                                           sound, Gigabit LAN and it also sported               rates. Although this board isn’t an
                                           x16 PCI express slot when most AMD                   outright performer, it is a value for
                                           motherboards were reluctant to imple-                money product.
                                           ment it. The on-board video satisfies the
                                           light gaming experience for a casual                 Runner-Up: Gigabyte GA-8I915G MF



                                           For AMD Processors (High-End)
                                           Gigabyte 8S Series GA-K8NXP-SLI                      ga m e :
                                           Specs: Socket 939, Supports AMD Athlon64             this
                                           X2, nVidia nForce4 SLI Chipset, Eight SATA-          mother-
                                           2 Ports with Hot PnP, Dual Gigabit LAN,              board sup-
                                           Dual BIOS                                            ports the dual-
                                                                                                core AMD Athlon64
                                           Our Verdict: This motherboard comes                  X2, and even has very good overclocking
                                           with a lot of bundled goodies such as the            features if you really want to push it to
                                           U-Plus DPS power system, an 802.11b+g                the limits.
                                           Wi-Fi card, and lots of cables and con-                  If you’re looking to invest in a moth-
                                           nectors. The board posted very high gam-             erboard for an AMD processor that’s
                                           ing scores, and it returned excellent                packed to the gills with features and that
                                           scores in the Content Creation and                   offers top-notch performance, look no
                                           Business Winstone benchmark applica-                 further than the Gigabyte 8S Series GA-
                                           tions, which are indicative of real-world            K8NXP-SLI!
                                           performance in office applications.
                                               Future-proofing is the name of the               Runner-Up: Asus Proactive A8N-SLI




                                            MSI MegaView 561
                                            The MegaView 561 is MSI’s answer to the iPods       cables,
                           Showstoppers!




                                            and iRivers in the media player segment. This       MegaView
                                            player has a respectable 3.5-inch TFT LCD screen,   can record
                                            and 20 GB of storage capacity. The device sup-      from and
                                            ports viewing and playback of the DivX, MPEG-4,     play back
                                            WMV, WMA, GIF, TIFF, JPEG and BMP formats.          to a TV.
                                                Other features include voice recording and           A little more horsepower to play video of
                                            an FM tuner programmable up to eight stations.      higher bitrates without stutter would have made
                                            The microphone is very sensitive; it records        the MegaView 561 truly impressive, but the 561
                                            ambient sounds with good clarity. Using AV          is still a very decent portable player.

58   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
     ZERO1 Awards 2005
                           For Intel Processors (High-End)
                           MSI P4N Diamond                                       T h e
                           Specs: LGA775, Supports Intel Dual-core          board returned
                           Processors, nVidia nForce4 SLI Intel             very high scores in
                           Edition, DDR2 667 MHz, Dual Gigabit LAN          the ZD-Bench Business
                                                                            Winstone 2004, which is indicative of real-
                           Our Verdict: The P4N Diamond has Creative        world performance in office applications.
                           SoundBlaster Live! 24-bit on-board, an exter-         The P4N Diamond is steeply priced, but
                           nal SATA port, and a Bluetooth/Wi-Fi             its exceptionally good feature set and great
                           combo card. It aslo has MSI’s Core Cell chip     performance make it a winner.
                           which allows real-time dynamic overclock-
                           ing, power saving, and diagnosis of temper-      Runner-Up: Asus Proactive P5ND2-SLI Deluxe
                           ature and CPU fan speed.                         and MSI P4N SLI


                           MP3 PLAYERS
                           Flash-Based MP3 Players - 1 GB
                           Samsung YP-T8                                    stand out as a unique
                           Specs: Flash-based 1 GB, Internal Li-Ion         solid-state MP3 player.
                           Rechargeable Battery, 262K TFT LCD Colour            The 262K colour
                           Screen, Supports Audio (OGG, MP3, ASF,           TFT-LCD screen gives
                           WMA) and Text Files, Photo Viewer, Video         vibrant video playback. Data transfer
                           Playback, USB 2.0, Voice Recording,              speeds between a PC and the YP-T8 is the
                           Firmware Upgradeable, FM Tuner, Direct           fastest amongst the solid-state MP3 players
                           Line-In Recording                                we saw. Bundled accessories include a neck
                                                                            strap, a USB cable, earphones, a line-in
                           Our Verdict: The ergonomics and ease of use      cable, a pouch, and an installation CD.
                           of the YP-T8 is superior to that of any of the       There are many preset equaliser modes
                           flash-based players we’ve seen so far. Not       on the YP-T8, but we felt the sound quality
                           only is it portable, the placement of the        lacked some punch. Overall, however, the
                           menu buttons is very comfortable. The            Samsung YP-T8 is a feature-rich product at
                           video playback feature makes the YP-T8           an affordable price.


                           Flash-Based MP3 Players - 256 MB
                           Yes YMP-910                                      The YMP-910 can be used
                           Specs: Flash-based 256 MB, Internal Li-Ion       as a TV remote control
                           Rechargeable Battery, 65K LCD Colour             (IR) . Bundled acces-
                           Screen, Supports Audio (MP3, MP2, WMA,           sories include a
                           ASF, WAV), Text and Photo Files, USB 2.0,        USB cable, a neck-
                           Voice recording, Firmware Upgradeable,           lace ear-phone, a
                           Direct Line-In, FM Tuner and Recording, 5-       carry case, a line-in
                           Preset Equaliser, A-B Repeat                     cable, an arm-band, and an install CD.
                                                                                Audio quality is very good—it can
                           Our Verdict: YES… it is a sturdy YMP-910!        play heavy bass and extreme treble with-
                           Longitudinal in shape, the portability of        out any distortion or noise. IR remote
                           this player is remarkable, but the place-        control ability is a feature unique to this
                           ment of the menu and navigation buttons          player, and it also records a high battery
                           is just about satisfactory.                      life.


                           Hard Drive-Based MP3 Players
                                                                            playback perform-
                           Samsung YH-J70                                   ance; it can play
                           Specs: 30 GB, 262K TFT LCD Colour Display,       heavy bass and
                           USB 2.0, Supports Audio (MP3, WAV, WMA,          extreme treble
                           OGG), Video, Photo and Text Files, FM            without noise.
                           Tuner and Recording, Line-In Encoding, 11-           Bundled acces-
                           Preset Equaliser, A-B Repeat                     sories include a case, earphones, a line-in
                                                                            cable, a USB cable, a docking cradle, and
                           Our Verdict: “Now watch movies on the            the installation CD. Menu and naviga-
                           move”—that’s the message the Samsung             tion buttons are well-placed on the sleek
                           YH-J70 is giving out, with 30 GB of storage      dual-tone casing. Top all this up with
                           capacity and video playback capabilities         dashing looks!
                           on a 262K colour TFT LCD colour screen.
                           Samsung has not compromised on audio             Runner-Up: iRiver H10

60   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
     ZERO1 Awards 2005
                                       PDA PHONES                                               sheet and presenta-
                                       Nokia 9500 Communicator                                  tion applications.
                                           Specs: 65K Colour TFT, Tri-band GSM,                     The device fares
                                           GPRS, EDGE, Wi-Fi (802.11b), Bluetooth,              well on several fronts—
                                           Infrared, VGA Camera                                 contact management,
                                                                                                calendaring, and e-mail management fea-
                                           Our Verdict: The 9500 Communicator’s                 tures. The Communicator 9500 offers fea-
                                           65K colour display is nice, crisp, and per-          tures even the most choosy business execu-
                                           fectly legible even in outdoor lighting.             tive would be pleased with. It lives up to its
                                           The screen is horizontally oriented, and             name, sporting the ultimate in connectivi-
                                           is perfect for reading documents and                 ty options—even offering a proprietary Pop-
                                           browsing the Net. A sufficiently spa-                Port for USB connection with a PC. All this
                                           cious QWERTY keyboard makes data                     makes the 9500 Communicator an ideal
                                           entry a breeze. The 9500 Communicator                device on a business trip.
                                           features a full QWERTY keyboard, and
                                           includes a word processor and spread-                Runner-Up: O2 XDA II Mini



                                       PRINTERS
                                       Home Inkjet Printers                                     cartridge is drained.
                                           Canon Pixma iP 1000                                  This, along with the
                                           Specs: 4800 x 1200 Interpolated Printing             lowest       cartridge
                                           Resolution, 150-Sheet Input Tray Capacity            price, meant this
                                                                                                printer has the lowest
                                           Our Verdict: The Canon Pixma iP 1000 is              ink consumption per
                                           quite a performer. This lightweight device           printed page.
                                           is capable of printing at interpolated reso-             Print quality, too, is better than that of
                                           lutions as high as 4800 x 1200. When it              the others in its category—and the price,
                                           comes to print speeds, the iP 1000 is faster         surprisingly, is also amongst the lowest.
                                           than any other in its category. In fact, in          With everything going for it, the Pixma iP
                                           our tests, it excelled in printing every type        1000 had to win the Digit Zero1 Award in
                                           of document. It printed the highest num-             this category.
                                           ber of pages in the drain test, where we
                                           print documents until all the ink from the           Runner-Up: HP DeskJet 3745



                                       Office/Photo Inkjet Printers                             print quality without
                                           Canon Pixma iP 3000                                  compromising           on
                                           Specs: 4800 x 1200 Interpolated Printing             speed.       PictBridge
                                           Resolution, PictBridge-Ready, Dual Paper             facilitates connecting
                                           Feed (Total Capacity 300 Sheets)                     directly to PictBridge-
                                                                                                ready cameras, so you
                                           Our Verdict: This photo printer is really            can print photos with-
                                           fast even at the default settings, making            out an intervening PC.
                                           it ideal for office use. The dual-feed                   This printer was the best in its category
                                           paper tray means paper can be fed from               in terms of print speed and quality, while
                                           the top and the bottom. It also supports             also being one of the lower-priced ones. The
                                           duplex printing, as well as CD/DVD face              Canon Pixma iP 3000 is, overall, the best
                                           printing.                                            office inkjet printer available in its class.
                                               The iP 3000 uses the CMYK system
                                           employing four cartridges, to enhance                Runner-Up: Canon Pixma iP 4000



                                             Sony PlayStation Portable
                                            The glossy black exterior and the large display      be recharged using the
                                            sporting 16.77 million colours are what first        bundled AC adaptor.
                           Showstoppers!




                                            strike you when you get your hands on the Sony           The PSP is somewhat bulky for a pocket,
                                            PSP. The package bundles quality PSP ear-            measuring 17 x 7.4 x 2.3 cm. It can play MPEG-4
                                            phones, a 32 MB MS duo pro card, the AC              movies and MP3 songs apart from the gaming
                                            adapter, and the PSP battery pack—apart from         action it’s meant for. The gaming experience is
                                            the case, hand strap and user manual.                amazing, as the PSP feels perfectly well-balanced
                                                 Communication interfaces include USB,           when held in both hands; the graphics quality is
                                            infrared and Wi-Fi—yes, it has 802.11b wireless      so outstanding you can even see the reflection of
                                            integrated, which lets you play multiplayer games    a bridge and trees on the roof of a car! The 4.3-
                                            with another PSP! The unit is powered by a           inch 16:9 TFT LCD screen provides you with a
                                            replaceable 1800 mAh Li-ion battery, which can       wholesome gaming experience.

62   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
     ZERO1 Awards 2005

                           Mono Laser Printers (SoHo)
                           Canon LBP 2900                                    This     was
                           Specs: 600 x 600 dpi x dpi, 150-Sheet Input   one of the
                           Tray Capacity, Additional Paper Tray, Toner   fastest printers
                           Duty Cycle 2,000 Pages, USB 2.0 and           we’d seen, and
                           Parallel Interfaces                           we found the
                                                                         print quality
                           Our Verdict: The LBP 2900 is a small, styl-   the best in the category. Remember, also,
                           ish printer. It features an additional        that this is a Canon, and Canon has a good
                           paper tray, and you have the option of        number of service centres all over the
                           adding a network card if and when you         country. The price of this printer is
                           feel the need to use this printer on a net-   amongst the lowest in its class.
                           work. The printer supports both
                           Windows and Linux.                            Runner-Up: Lexmark E230


                           Mono Laser Printers (Workgroup)
                           Brother HL-6050D                              amongst        the
                           Specs: 600 x 600 dpi x dpi, 500-Sheet Input   printers it was
                           Tray Capacity, Additional Paper Tray,         compared with.
                           Toner Duty Cycle 7,500 pages, USB 2.0 and         A duty cycle
                           Parallel Interfaces                           of 7,500 pages is
                                                                         considerably
                           Our Verdict: The HL-6050D is targeted at      high, and the
                           small- to medium-sized offices. You won’t     printer yields the
                           complain about the input tray capacity,       lowest cost per page among all the printers
                           nor about the additional paper tray! There    in its class. Throw in a three-year on-site
                           is support for printing languages such as     warranty with 105 service centres across
                           PCL6 and PS3, which means it consumes         the country, and factor in the low price—
                           very little system resources.                 and you’ve got a sure Zero1 Award winner
                               This wasn’t the fastest printer in its    in the Brother HL-6050D.
                           category, but it was still very fast; in
                           terms of print quality, it was the best       Runner-Up: Brother HL-5140


                           Colour Laser Printers
                           Epson AcuLaser C1100                              This colour
                           Specs: 600 x 600 dpi x dpi, 180-Sheet Input   printer    was
                           Tray Capacity, Dual-Side Printing,            the fastest of
                           Windows and Mac ready, Network Port,          them all, be it
                           USB 2.0 and Parallel Interfaces               text      docu-
                                                                         ments, combi-
                           Our Verdict: The AcuLaser C1100 has a         documents or
                           unique, boxy look. It supports dual-side      colour photo
                           printing, which allows you to print           printouts. The
                           something like a book or a manual with-       price is also
                           out the need for human intervention.          lower than that of most in this category.
                           There’s an LCD screen that displays the           Epson has a network of 211 service cen-
                           status of the task being carried out. It is   tres across the country.
                           network-enabled, which is especially
                           useful in offices.                            Runner-Up: Samsung CLP-500


                           PROCESSORS                                        This is a 64-bit
                           AMD Athlon64 X2 4800+                         processor, but
                           Specs: 2.4 GHz, Dual-Core, 1 MB L2 Cache      remember that
                           per Core, Socket 939                          to experience
                                                                         the extra power
                           Our Verdict: Based on the low power con-      afforded, a 64-bit OS
                           suming Venice core, this dual-core            must be used. As you
                           processor has a stock clock speed of 2.4      might expect, this 64-bit
                           GHz. It supports various instruction sets     dual-core returned superlative perform-
                           such as 3DNow!, MMX, SSE, SSE-2, and          ance in every single benchmark that was
                           SSE-3—minus the hyperthreading compo-         thrown its way. There is simply no other
                           nents, which are Intel specific. It works     processor today that can come close to the
                           with all the 939-pin motherboards avail-      Athlon 64 X2’s lightning-fast performance!
                           able, provided the BIOS is updated to
                           recognise this new processor.                 Runner-Up: None

64   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
     ZERO1 Awards 2005
                                           PROJECTORS
                                           Desktop Projectors
                                           Acer PD113                                            movie
                                           Specs: DLP, 800 x 600, 1600 Lumens,                   tests, in
                                           2000:1 (Full On/Off), 4:3/16:9, 27.5” - 330”          both 4:3
                                           Projection Range, 200 Watts / 2000                    and       16:9
                                           Hours, 2 Kg                                           aspect      ratios.
                                                                                                 Moreover, it sports
                                           Our Verdict: The Acer PD113 sports a great            the     picture-in-picture
                                           set of features, prime amongst them                   mode, for when you need to
                                           being a healthy 1,600 lumen brightness                showcase a movie presentation alongside
                                           and a zoom ratio of 1.2:1. It also has a              graphs. The remote has features that
                                           high image display size of 330-inch diag-             afford flexibility and style. To top it all
                                           onal, which is big enough to address an               up, the Acer PD113 is priced just right.
                                           audience over 50.
                                              The PD113 fared very well in our                   Runner-Up: Sony VPL-ES2



                                           Mobile Projectors
                                           Panasonic PT-LM1E-C                                   lightest projector
                                           Specs: LCD, 800 x 600, 1200 Lumens,                   in its class, carry-
                                           4:3/16:9, 33” - 300” Projection Range, 130            ing it around
                                           Watts / 4000 Hours, 1.6 Kg                            shouldn’t be too
                                                                                                 much of an issue.
                                           Our Verdict: The Panasonic PT-LM1E-C—an                    We present the
                                           LCD projector—returned good results in                PT-LM1E-C the Digit
                                           our presentation tests, with good colour              Zero1 Award for 2005 because it’s a great
                                           reproduction and faithful animation. In               all-round performer.
                                           our movie test, though, it only returned
                                           watchable results. Though it’s not the                Runner-Up: BenQ PB2120



                                           SURROUND SPEAKERS
                                           2.1 Speakers
                                           Bose Companion 3                                      mounted on a
                                           Specs: Acoustimass Module (Subwoofer)                 monitor       with
                                           and Two Satellite Speakers With a Control             speaker brackets.
                                           Pod, No Bass and Treble Controls, Volume                  The control
                                           Control With Feather-Touch Mute                       pod houses a vol-
                                                                                                 ume control and
                                           Our Verdict: Bose calls its subwoofers                also provides a
                                           ‘Acoustimass’; whatever that means, the               connection for a
                                           Companion 3 definitely comes with a won-              second       audio
                                           derful subwoofer, so much so that we felt             source. If you are an audiophile, and if
                                           the satellites didn’t match up. The two tiny          money is no object, you can’t do any bet-
                                           speakers deliver amazing sound quality                ter than the Bose.
                                           when playing anything, be it MP3s, CDs,
                                           DVDs or games. The speakers can also be               Runner-Up: JBL Creature II



                                            Archos AV400
                                            The 3.5-inch display may not make a spectacular      songs took all of three seconds—astounding!
                                            impression on you, but the Archos AV400 is bun-          The Bookmark feature allows you to resume
                                            dled with tons of features: video playback           a movie or song from where you left off. Virtual
                                            (including AVI and MPEG-4 in DivX format), audio     dub and front-end proprietary software ensures
                           Showstoppers!




                                            playback (MP3, WMA, WAV), and image viewing          that encoding settings are auto-corrected, so it
                                            (JPEG and BMP). Well, that sounds commonplace        can play a non-optimised video file without
                                            these days, but hang on: the Archos AV400 also       framing (jerky playback).
                                            has a CF card reader inbuilt, and it also supports       The AV400 also allows you to record from a
                                            a 4-in-1 adapter to read from dif-                                  TV and play back movies or images
                                            ferent memory cards. And that’s                                     to a TV. The feature list seems to go
                                            not all: you can use Windows                                        on and on: the thing can also be
                                            Explorer to copy media files onto                                   used as a Dictaphone! Creating,
                                            the device and when you unplug it,                                  deleting and renaming of files,
                                            it automatically scans and classi-                                  folders and playlists can be done
                                            fies the files under Artist, Genre,                                 within the player itself. This is one
                                            Album, and Title! Updating a GB of                                  amazing, feature-packed player.

66   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
     ZERO1 Awards 2005
                                           4.1 Speakers                                         deliver awesome tre-
                                           Altec Lansing 641                                    ble and bass. Even
                                           Specs: Subwoofer 109 W rms, Satellite                the DVD audio qual-
                                           Speakers 32 W rms, Frequency Response                ity    was
                                           27 Hz - 20 KHz, Wired Remote Control for             unmatched
                                           Bass, Treble and Volume                              by the other
                                                                                                quality
                                           Our Verdict: The sturdy build quality and            speakers such as the Creative Inspire 4400
                                           classy looks of the Altec Lansing 641 PC             and the Cyber Acoustic CA 4100. The 641s
                                           speakers strike you right when you open              never gave up even at high volumes.
                                           the box! This set is power packed with tons              In one sentence, the Altec Lansing 641
                                           of watts to blow you off your seat: the tall         has excellent bass reproduction, extreme-
                                           subwoofer houses dual drivers in its mas-            ly good treble, and unmatched clarity. If
                                           sive casing. The satellite speakers come             you happen to have the money, this is the
                                           with a mid-range driver and a Mylar tweet-           way to go!
                                           er, delivering crisp sound. The quality pair-
                                           ing of the subwoofer and speakers helps              Runner-Up: Cyber Acoustic CA 4100



                                           5.1 Speakers
                                           Artis X10                                            much more
                                           Specs: Subwoofer 90 W rms, Satellite                 expensive.
                                           Speakers 28 W rms, Frequency Response 25             The X10’s
                                           Hz—20 KHz, Wireless Remote Control                   subwoofer
                                                                                                system     is
                                           Our Verdict: The design of this speaker set          slightly dif-
                                           seems to have been inspired by Bose: the             ferent—it
                                           Artis X10 consists of really sturdy and top-         encases a
                                           quality speakers. In our tests, the bass and         driver facing the ground, and has separate
                                           treble were both good, but the sound dis-            knobs at the back to assign output levels for
                                           torted a little at high volumes. The Creative        centre, rear and treble. This is a feature
                                           5.1 Megaworks 550 THX deserves a mention             rarely seen in 5.1 speaker systems.
                                           here: it delivered top-quality bass and tre-
                                           ble even at high volumes, but that set is            Runner-Up: Creative 5.1 MegaWorks 550 THX


                                           TV-TUNERS
                                           Internal PCI TV-Tuner Cards
                                           Compro VideoMate PVR/FM                              detection
                                           Specs: Based on the Philips SAA7134HL                test. We
                                           Chip, MPEG 1 and 2 Capture Support, FM               found
                                           Radio, Full-Function Remote Control                  the FM
                                                                                                tuner, too, quite
                                           Our Verdict: Exceptional clarity in TV               powerful—it could tune
                                           image quality is the biggest plus of the             into almost every station there was.
                                           Compro VideoMate PVT/FM. The accompa-                    Another great thing is the full-fea-
                                           nying Personal Video Recorder (PVR) soft-            tured, 32-button remote; an FM aerial
                                           ware supports capturing video in the                 comes bundled as well. The card is priced
                                           MPEG-1 and 2 formats, and also supports              moderately for its features, and is there-
                                           the Timeshift feature.                               fore a must-buy.
                                              This TV-Tuner could tune into most of
                                           the weak signals in our cable TV channel             Runner-Up: Mercury TV-Tuner Card



                                            Mitashi DivX-999 DVD Player
                                            Mitashi’s DVD players have caught up with the
                                            gaining popularity of the DivX format. The new
                           Showstoppers!




                                            DivX-999 DVD player is sleek and has a trayless      movie, it provides a explorer-like
                                            slot design. It can play DVDs, VCDs, audio CDs,      interface that lets you browse and
                                            and the MP3, WMA, XviD, and DivX formats. The        play compatible media files.
                                            playback quality and the setup menu are better             Did we forget to mention that the device plays
                                            than those of the earlier model, the DivX-555        HD-CDs as well? The Player also offers 5.1-channel
                                            player. Setup options include audio, video, and a    audio through both analogue and digital connec-
                                            password option to prevent kids from operating       tivity. You can even connect it to a standard PC mon-
                                            the device when the parents are away. When you       itor. This is a great all-round player, and since it is
                                            insert a disk which is not a standard VCD or DVD     region-free, you can play any DVD without hassles.

68   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
     ZERO1 Awards 2005

                                       External USB TV-Tuners                                   trol over every
                                           Pinnacle PCTV MediaCenter                            function of the
                                           100e                                                 TV-Tuner.
                                           Specs: External USB 2.0, Full-Featured                    TV picture
                                           Remote Control, Coaxial In, Composite In,            quality was also
                                           S-Video In, Pinnacle MediaCenter                     very good, and
                                           Software                                             when we tested
                                                                                                it, it detected 73 of
                                           Our Verdict:     The     Pinnacle      PCTV          97 of cable TV channels,
                                           MediaCenter 100e with its cool blue LED              which is decent. The capture quality was
                                           and curved shape is the most elegant-look-           the best in its class, and it didn’t drop a
                                           ing of all the USB TV-Tuners we’ve seen.             single frame during our capture test.
                                           Bundled with it was one of the best PVR                   This TV-Tuner is priced much higher
                                           software we’ve seen, as well as the Pinnacle         than the others in its category, but it’s a
                                           MediaCenter software, which gives your               winner by virtue of sheer image quality
                                           Windows XP PC functionalities similar to a           and great performance.
                                           Windows XP MediaCenter PC. The feature-
                                           rich remote allows you to exercise full con-         Runner-Up: Tech-Com SSD-TV-811



                                       External Set-Top TV-Tuners                                  This
                                           Tech-Com SSD-TV-712                                  TV-Tuner
                                           Specs: VGA In, VGA Out, S-Video In/Out,              gets the
                                           Audio In/Out, Coaxial In, VGA-to-TV Box              Zero1
                                           Cable, Stereo Cable                                  Award
                                                                                                because of its
                                           Our Verdict: The Tech-Com SSD-TV-712 is the          rock-bottom price
                                           only no-frills TV-Tuner in this category, con-       as compared to the
                                           centrating instead on pure functionality.            other products in its category.
                                                The image quality is excellent. It detected
                                           all available TV channels in our test.               Runner-Up: AVerMedia AVerTV Box 9




                                       SOFTWARE
                                       Accounting Software
                                           T++
                                           Our Verdict: The interface of the T++ pack-
                                           age is a cross between that of a Web brows-
                                           er and Windows Explorer. It has a profes-
                                           sional layout, with the menu laid out on
                                           one screen, so you don’t need to hunt
                                           around for the various options.                      almost identical to Tally’s, with a few
                                               The software’s home page provides all            extras thrown in. All in all, this is an easy-
                                           accounting data at a glance, and this can            to-use software rich on features, available
                                           be configured. Data entry forms are also             at an affordable price.
                                           very user-friendly. Navigation through dif-
                                           ferent forms is a snap. T++ has a feature set        Runner-Up: Tally 6.3


                                           D-Link MediaLounge DSM-320
                                           The slender MediaLounge has many connecting          network to access the DSM-320 either wirelessly
                                           ports at the back. Most of these are for outputs     or via Ethernet.
                                           such as optical and coaxial SPDIF, S-Video, com-         Once the installation process is done you are
                                           posite video and RCA stereo audio; the two                 ready to test the streaming capability. The
                           Showstoppers!




                                           input ports are for Ethernet and 802.11g                         MediaLounge can play back the MP3,
                                           (Wi-Fi) to interface with the PC.                                        WMA, AIFF and also playlist
                                           OK, there’s no need to worry                                                (M3U and PLS) formats; it
                                           about so many connections:                                                  supports five photo image
                                           they are provided so as to sup-                                          formats and popular video
                                           port a full-fledged home theatre                             playback formats (MPEG 1/2/4, Quicktime,
                                           system’s requirements, and you won’t                 AVI and XviD). There is only one button on the front
                                           need them all. Of course, if you do have a full      panel, the On button; the remote is what you’ll be
                                           fledged home theatre system, the manual              using all the time. You can browse through your
                                           should make it clear what goes where.                PC with the TV as the display, and run any sup-
                                           Connecting to a TV is very simple—just install the   ported media on your home theatre system. Now,
                                           necessary software on the PC and configure the       forget about watching movies on your PC!

70   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
     ZERO1 Awards 2005

                                           IMAGE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
                                           Adobe Photoshop Album 2.0                             facilitating easi-
                                           Our Verdict: Adobe Photoshop Album 2.0 is             er search and
                                           an image manager with a neat and simple               retrieval. There
                                           interface for importing photographs. It               are many touch-up
                                           allows for creation of your own albums,               options that allow
                                           slideshows, VCDs, eCards, calendar, and               you to manipulate
                                           photo book. It provides you with more                 images and straighten
                                           templates than you would need for creat-              out rough edges. Adobe Photoshop Album
                                           ing that special album or calendar.                   2.0 also gives you the option to back up
                                           Photoshop Album 2.0 does all the neces-               your photos to CD or DVD or to another
                                           sary optimisations for printing an album              machine on your network. It also has
                                           on your desktop printer.                              options for incremental backup.
                                               Images can be hierarchically tagged
                                           and segregated into different categories,             Runner-Up: Picasa 2



                                           LINUX DISTRIBUTIONS
                                           Linux For Power Users                                 comes good is the way
                                           SuSE 9.3 Professional                                 it customises individ-
                                           Our Verdict: Most Linux distros have accept-          ual packages to look
                                           able user interfaces, but SuSE has always             and work better.
                                           been different. Now they have even mas-                   The          notable
                                           tered the art on X.Org, which replaces the            upgrades in the distro
                                           XFree86 X-server.                                     are Linux Kernel 2.6.11,
                                               The KDE of SuSE 9.3 has such a pol-               GCC 3.3.5, glibc 2.3.4, X.Org
                                           ished look and feel that even the best-               6.8.2, Open Office 2.0 and Eclipse 3.0.1.
                                           looking Windows is no match. The five-                    The new Linux Kernel plays a major
                                           CD installation pack contains everything              role in hardware detection. We recom-
                                           you can dream of. You can set up various              mend SuSE 9.3 as a complete package for
                                           servers just as with any other power user             any user.
                                           based distros such as RedHat. Well, that’s
                                           no big deal in itself, but where SuSE                 Runner-Up: Asus K8S-MX2



                                           Windows Replacements
                                           Xandros Desktop OS                                        The partition manager
                                           Our Verdict: Linux as a desktop OS is gain-           of this distro is so good
                                           ing a lot of attention. The trend to make             that Microsoft can proba-
                                           this pro server OS penetrate more and                 bly take a lesson or two
                                           more homes as a user-friendly desktop OS              from the folks at Xandros!
                                           has forced it to clone the Windows inter-             The elegant file manager
                                           face. Xandros is one such Linux distribu-             provides the user with
                                           tion: it apes certain Windows interfaces so           easy access to the PC’s drives,
                                           the migration becomes easier for regular              CD/DVD drive, network shares, etc. Xandros
                                           Windows users.                                        comes loaded with the Mozilla and Firefox
                                               The striking feature here is the graphi-          browsers, CodeWeavers CrossOver Office
                                           cal installation procedure, with a very               4.1, and ‘Xandros Network’, which is a tool
                                           helpful partition manager that makes sure             that helps you organise installed software
                                           even a novice can create successful Linux             and download newer ones.
                                           partitions without disturbing the existing
                                           FAT and NTFS partitions.                              Runner-Up: Linspire 5.0



                                           Contour Design’s Roller Mouse
                                           Contour Design’s Roller Mouse consists of a           If you are still
                                           roller bar that lets you move the cursor around       wondering why
                           Showstoppers!




                                           and click on icons. It works in conjunction with      this product is unique,
                                           a keyboard and can also act as its base; the          then here’s the story: a reg-
                                           roller bar and button then falls within easy          ular mouse makes you move one
                                           reach of your thumbs. The roller bar doubles          hand away from the keyboard, putting
                                           as the left-click button.                             your shoulder in an awkward, stress-inducing posi-
                                           Sensitivity can be easily adjusted—by tightening or   tion. The Roller Mouse is an innovation by which
                                           loosening the knob at the base. Windows ME and        you can have the function of your mouse right
                                           later editions of Windows install the necessary       under your keyboard: you won’t need to move your
                                           drivers, so all you need is a free USB port.          arm any more to reach out for a mouse!

72   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                                      Digital Tools l Jumpstart

                                                                                   Digital


  94          New &
              Notable         100The Display 117 Buyers Guide
                                 Dilemma
                                                                                   Tools
                                                                                   Technology For Personal And SoHo Productivity




Enhance




Working Comfortably
                                                                                   Work Forces
Do you suffer                 Robert Sovereign-Smith                               It’s still a popular misconception among many
                                                                                   that only those who do manual work need to
from backaches?

                              E
                                    rgonomics is the science that studies the      consider ergonomics. This just isn’t true—a
Eyestrain?                          relationship of humans to their working        worker who daily loads heavy packages on or off
Fingers hurting?                    environment. It seeks to improve working       a truck is exposed to the same level of risk to his
                              conditions and increase efficiency.                  or her back as is a call centre employee. And
No, this isn’t an                 The human body is fragile, more so as one        chances are, the manual worker and the call
ad for a balm or              grows older. Those of you above the age of 30 will   centre employee will suffer from back pain as
                              have realised this. Those below that age will        the years go by!
spray! Those are              come to realise it soon—you just don’t seem to            The same applies to a teacher who spends
the cures—we’re               be as flexible as you were when younger; and         hours a day grading papers, as well as the
here to tell you              niggling aches and pains creep in.                   students who spend hours writing them. When
                                  The problem is compounded when you intro-        it comes to ergonomics, there’s no difference
about prevention              duce the work factor. Today, many Indians spend      between a journalist writing articles for hours
                              more time working than doing anything else,          on end on a computer, and a gamer mesmerised
                              and this is where ergonomics comes in—at least,      by the latest title for hours or days!
                              it should.




3D Modelling Vikram Kathare
Imaging Chaitanya Surpur
     Digital Tools l Enhance
         The problem lies in a condition called repet-        ture does not mean you’re safe—you also need to
     itive stress injury (RSI), where you can injure          know how to use it.
     your body by doing the same thing in the same
     posture day in and day out. RSI can attack               Chairs
     anyone, from the manual worker to the gamer.             The major cause of back and neck aches, a bad
         In what follows, we stick to the dangers posed       chair can really mess up your spine, especially if
     to us by long hours spent on the computer. To            you are sitting in it eight hours a day.
     find out how to protect your body while doing                As a rule of thumb, a good chair is one in
     absolutely any type of job, refer to the box:            which you feel comfortable. This may sound
     The Ergonomic Web on page 78.                            vague, but our point is that comfort is a very
                                                              subjective matter—one person’s comfort could
     The Aches                                                be another’s pain. So to begin with, just make
     People have been known to suffer from backaches,         sure your chair feels comfortable.
     neck pain, eye strain, finger and forearm pain               Most chairs today have adjustable parts, so if
     after exceptionally long computer use. Of these,         your chair just doesn’t seem right, try adjusting
     eye strain and finger and forearm pain are direct        the height. The proper height is achieved when
     effects of using a computer (of course, it’s the         you can sit in the chair and comfortably rest the
     monitor, keyboard and mouse that are to blame).          soles of your feet on the ground. A low height
     Backaches and neck pains are a result of the way         would be if you find that the backs of your thighs
     we sit. Let’s take a look at these side-effects one by   are raised above the chair seat, and too high
     one and figure out the best practice in each case.       would be when you cannot comfortably place
                                                              your feet flat on the ground.
     The Back And Neck                                            The next thing to look for is an adjustable
     Those of you who have suffered severe back pain          seat. Since our heights differ, a shorter person
     or slipped discs will surely vouch for the impor-        would need less seat space, and may need to
     tance of looking after your spine. This is not just      move the seat backwards towards the backrest.
     another ache, and not just another part of your          On the other hand, a tall person would need to
     body: injuries to the spine can be debilitating,         move the seat forwards.
     and even life-threatening in extreme cases. The              An adjustable backrest is also important—not
     body just cannot function without the support            just in terms of height, but also in terms of the
     of the spine, so you need to make sure you take          angle at which it meets your back. The more
     every little backache and muscle spasm in the            adjustable the backrest, the more the chances of
     spine region very seriously.                             you feeling comfortable in various positions.
         At work, the spine is put to risk by the type            Leaning back on an adjustable backrest helps
     of chair you use, and how you use it. A chair that       to take weight off your lower spine, and that’s
     hasn’t been designed with ergonomics in mind             very relaxing. Contrary to popular belief, a
     can cause back pain. But even if you have a good         straight-back chair is not exactly ergonomic—not
     chair designed to take weight off your back, are         unless you’re strapped to it. It’s better to have a
     you sitting the correct way? We’ll soon talk             chair with an adjustable backrest that allows you
     about chairs with good ergonomic design.                 to bend your back a little from time to time, in
                                                              order to shift the weight.
     The Eyes                                                     Apart from the design of the chair, you need
     Eye strain is almost always associated with the          to remember to keep shifting your weight about
     type of monitor you use, the distance and angle          at regular intervals. This helps improve the blood
     at which it is placed, the screen resolution you
     work at, and also whether you remember to
     blink and take focus away from the monitor
     from time to time. More on this later when we
     look at monitors.

     The Fingers And Arms
     Very often, discomfort in these areas is not
     caused by using the keyboard and mouse the
     wrong way, but simply by not positioning them
     properly. A chair can also help the arms by
     providing good padded arm rests, as can placing
     the mouse at the correct location and height.
         The most common complaint is the Carpal
     Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), a disorder that affects a
     nerve in the wrists, causing tingling, pain and
     weakness in parts of the hand. CTS is perhaps
     the most well-known RSI, and is beginning to
     affect more people worldwide—all because of
     the bad placement of a mouse or keyboard!

     Office Furniture
     Here we show you how you can decide whether
     the furniture you’re using is ergonomically right        Well-designed chairs can make life at work much easier,
     or wrong. Remember, just having the right furni-         and can also bring relief to your aching back

76   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                      Digital Tools l Enhance

                                    Monitor Placement
Infographic Chaitanya Surpur




                                 As shown in the figure, the monitor needs to be placed lower than
                                 the line of sight. The top of the viewable area should be at least 15
                                 degrees below the line of sight and the bottom of the monitor’s view-
                                 able area should be no more than 50 degrees below the line of sight

                               flow to your back and buttocks, and ensures that
                               you do not suffer from RSI. You should try not to
                               slouch in your chair, and take short breaks by
                               standing up and walking about to help the blood
                               circulate. Stretching, more so, after a long stint
                               of sitting, is a beneficial practice.

                               Monitor Placement And Lighting
                               Lighting? Yes, even lighting is a factor when
                               deciding monitor placement. You’ll often see
                               someone at your workplace twisting and contort-
                               ing when trying to read a particular area of their
                               monitor. So also, you may place your monitor in
                               an equally awkward position, just to be able to
                               view it properly.
                                   When deciding where to place a monitor, it’s
                               best to make sure there’s no light source behind
                               the user, as this causes a glare on the screen and
                               makes areas of the screen unreadable. Also, in
                               larger offices where the workforce is seated in
                               cubicles, rows and columns, such as in a call
                               centre, diffused lighting is a good idea. This cuts
                               out the one bright source of light and reduces
                               the glare on the monitors.
                                   The second most important aspect is the
                               distance of the screen from the eyes. The closer
                               the screen, the more the strain on the eyes. This
                               is easily demonstrated by doing a simple test:
                               hold up your index finger at a full arm’s length
                               from your face. Now focus on your nail and grad-
                               ually bring your finger closer to your eyes. You’ll
                               notice that the closer the finger gets to your eyes,
                               the more strain you’ll feel while focussing.
                                   So what is the correct distance at which your
                               monitor should be placed? The answer is more
                               complicated and involves more than a simple
                               measurement in inches. Though it is widely
                               suggested that you place the monitor at least
                               two feet away from the eyes, this doesn’t account
                               for the other variables you come across when
                               dealing with computer monitors.
                                   For instance, placing a 14-inch monitor two
                               feet away from your eyes is good, but what about
                               those with 19 or 21-inch monitors? Then there’s

                                                                                                         DECEMBER 2005 DIGIT   77
        Digital Tools l Enhance
                                                                                               rule of thumb, try and work with dark text on
        The Ergonomic Web                                                                      light backgrounds. Keep in mind that correct
                                                                                               ergonomic placement of the monitor requires
     There are plenty of onlineand more. Mostwilltheseyou all theare dedicatedyou
      need about ergonomics,
                               resources that
                                              of
                                                  give
                                                       Web sites
                                                                 information
                                                                               to
                                                                                               the monitor to be tilted away from the eyes, so
                                                                                               that the bottom of the screen is closer to the
     the science of ergonomics, and you can be sure that the information provided is
                                                                                               body than the top of the screen.
     correct. Here’s a list of a few sites you should visit:
                                                                                                   To better understand why a tilt is needed,
                                                                                               notice the way you’re holding this copy of Digit.
     The Ergonomics Society (www.ergonomics.org.uk)
                                                                                               You’ll see that the magazine is tilted away from
     This is a society of people dedicated to the study of ergonomics. You can find
                                                                                               you, just as when you hold anything else, say, a
     everything from information to job vacancies for ergonomic specialists here.
                                                                                               newspaper or book. This happens because we’re
                                                                                               used to objects being further away when at the
     Office Ergonomics (www.office-ergo.com)
                                                                                               eye level and closer when below our line of sight.
     This is a site that’s dedicated to providing you information on how you can be
                                                                                                   If you sit down and look straight ahead, you
     more ergonomic at work, from tips for employees to guidelines for employers.
                                                                                               will notice that the objects at and above your
                                                                                               line of sight are further away, and the objects in
     Ergonomics: Posture Movement and Ergonomics (www.ergonomics.org)
                                                                                               your field of vision that are below this line of
     This site covers all the do’s and don’t’s of office behaviour, including the correct
                                                                                               sight are much closer. It’s only obvious that if
     postures and monitor placement.
                                                                                               you tilt your monitor away from yourself to
                                                                                               reflect a more real-world sight, you will strain
     Cornell University Ergonomics Web (http://ergo.human.cornell.edu/)
                                                                                               your eyes less.
     This site has information from research studies and class work by students and
     faculty from the Cornell Human Factors and Ergonomics Research Group.
                                                                                               Keyboard And Mouse Placement
                                                                                               The next step towards protecting your body
     International Ergonomics Association (www.iea.cc)
                                                                                               when working with computers is to protect
     Pethaps the largest ergonomics society, the IEA site will give you details on
                                                                                               your hands—your fingers, wrist, forearms and
     conferences and technical contacts in case you want to get your products
                                                                                               elbows. As we mentioned earlier, the most
     certified as ergonomic-friendly.
                                                                                               common injury resulting from computer use is
                                                                                               the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, caused by exces-
        the problem of resolutions. Placing a 19-inch                                          sive use of a keyboard. Though a keyboard that
        monitor three feet away from the eyes might                                            solves this problem has not yet been invented,
        seem like a good idea, but when you’re running                                         especially for those who have to type hundreds
        at a resolution of 1600 x 1280, this could make                                        of thousands of words a day (data-entry opera-
        the text on the screen look minuscule, and force                                       tors and the like), there are models that try and
        you to strain your eyes anyway!                                                        reduce the risks.
            A good practice is to keep the monitor at                                              Split keyboards: These are keyboards that
        least 25 inches away from the eyes, and adjust to                                      are broken into two parts. Some designs feature
        the resolution that causes the least eye strain.                                       a single keyboard with the keypad split in two—
        Instead of using a 19-inch monitor running at a                                        and each half is positioned at a different angle.
        resolution of 1600 x 1280, placed at 25 inches
        away from the eyes, consider placing the moni-
        tor three feet away, and running it at a resolu-
        tion of 1280 x 1024 or 1024 x 768.
            The next consideration is the monitor tilt,
        and the height at which it is placed. Here’s
        where your table comes into play. Since you’ve
        already decided on the height of your chair, you
        need to make sure the tables are low enough to
        keep the monitor at the correct height. Remem-
        ber, it’s a lot easier to increase the height of a
        monitor by placing something under it than it
        is to decrease the height.
            Since heights are very subjective, monitor
        placement is always decided by angles. Studies
        have found that in order to protect the neck, a
        monitor’s viewing area should be 15 to 50                                 Split keyboards attempt to let you place each hand as comfortably as
        degrees below horizontal eye level. This means                            you want to, and at whatever angle you desire
        that if you sit in your chair and look straight
        ahead, focusing on an object at the same height                                        This style of keyboard tries to solve the problem
        above the ground as your eyes, the top of your                                         of unnatural angles for the wrists.
        monitor should be at a minimum of 15 degrees                                               To illustrate the problem, look at your regu-
        below your line of sight, while the bottom of the                                      lar keyboard. It is flat and has the same angle
        monitor screen should be a maximum of 50                                               towards your body for all keys. Now place your
        degrees below the line of sight. This is illustrated                                   hands over the keyboard as you would when
        in the diagram alongside (see Monitor Placement).                                      beginning to type. You’ll notice that your wrists
            A few other things to consider are the results                                     are bent slightly outwards (towards your little
        of studies that have shown that white text on                                          fingers). This posture is not natural, and we often
        black backgrounds seem to strain the eyes more                                         find ourselves rotating our keyboards in one
        than black text on white backgrounds. So as a                                          direction or the other to ease the stress on our

78      DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
     Digital Tools l Enhance
                                                                                              Here’s another simple test. Hold your hands out
                                                                                              in front of you, palms facing the floor and
                                                                                              fingers straight. Now bend the hand downwards
                                                                                              from the wrist so that your fingers point at the
                                                                                              floor. Now do the same thing in reverse and try
                                                                                              and point your fingers at the ceiling. You’ll see
                                                                                              that it’s much easier to bend the hand down-
                                                                                              wards than upwards. What negative slope
                                                                                              keyboards do is try and ensure that your wrists
                                                                                              bend upwards as little as possible, and even
                                                                                              favour a bend downwards.
                                                                                                  It’s widely acknowledged that placing a
                                                                                              keyboard low is desirable so the arms can
                                                                                              straighten as much as possible. Unfortunately, a
                                                                                              standard keyboard placed low will cause you to
                                                                                              further bend your wrists upwards, thus risking
                                                                                              harm. So if you like to place your keyboard as
                                                                                              low as possible, a negative-slope keyboard could
                                                                                              help ease the tension in your aching wrists.
     Taking tented keyboards even further, some manufacturers offer                           Ergonomic mice: Though many manufactur-
     vertical keyboards. They claim to offer as much as 50 per cent less                      ers make ergonomic mice, all of which are
     muscle stress, but the bigger question is what is the learning required?                 designed differently and can be really expen-
                                                                                              sive, it’s perhaps only gamers and those who
     wrists. This typing posture is in sharp contrast to                                      use the mouse for extended periods of time
     the way we place our hands on, say, the dinner                                           without breaks, who might need them. The
     table. You’ll notice that at the dinner table, your                                      designs of ergonomic mice are decided in
     hands are placed much further apart than when                                            pretty much the same way as that of the afore-
     at the keyboard. This is the specific problem that                                       mentioned keyboards.
     split keyboards attempt to solve.
         Palm rests: Most keyboards today come
     with palm rests. The simple reason for a palm
     rest is that it allows your hands to be placed on
     a firm surface rather than being held in the air
     by your muscles. This reduces the strain on your
     muscles and helps relax your arms a lot more.
         Tented keyboards: These keyboards look
     very funny at first, until you understand why
     they’re made that way. Another simple exper-
     iment: stand up and leave your arms loosely
     by your side. Now bend your arms at the elbow
     and bring your hands up, perpendicular to
     your body. You’ll notice your palms are facing
     each other (inwards), and not the floor. This is            Here are just a few of the
     in sharp contrast to the way they are placed                alternate mice available
     when using a normal keyboard, where your                    that are ergonomic
     palms are resting on the table or palm rest,
     and facing the floor.
         Even in the previous dinner table example,
     if you notice that when you put your hands up
     on a table, comfortably, the palms are never
     facing the table: they face each other. This is
     the natural position for your hands. So
     although split keyboards solve the problem of                                            In Short
     angles, they don’t solve the problem of natural                                          From what you’ve read thus far, it should be
     palm placement.                                                                          obvious that good ergonomic design means
         This is where tented keyboards try and kill                                          keeping your body in as natural a position as
     two birds with one stone—the keyboard is split,                                          possible, reducing strain on the muscles and
     and also angled like a tent, to keep your hands                                          tendons. This is why ergonomics is often called
     in as natural a position as possible when typing.                                        the science of fitting a job to the person, rather
     Of course you will make a good many typos                                                than fitting a person to the job.
     trying to get used to this style of keyboard, and                                            No matter how stressful your work or
     you’ll also slow down your typing speed, but as                                          how busy your schedule, always remember to
     with everything else, you’ll get used to it.                                             take a break, shift the body, stretch and relax—
         Tented keyboards are an option only for                                              all this will help make you more productive,
     touch typists, for those of us who look and type,                                        and also eliminate the unwanted costs of
     the split keyboard is as good as it gets!                                                balms and sprays! If nothing else, by following
         Negative-slope keyboards: These are                                                  these guidelines, you might just start to feel a
     keyboards that have height-raising feet at the                                           little younger!
     front, instead of at the back like most keyboards.                                                             robert_smith@thinkdigit.com

80   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                                              Speeding up IDE-based
 Linux                                                                                                        drives
Linux being an open source                                                                                           This tip is useful for just
OS gives you the power to                                                                                            about any Linux desktop
alter the system to your                                                                                      machine using IDE-based
needs. But this power must be                                                                                 drives. By default Linux uses
utilised with caution. As the                                                                                 conservative settings for IDE
‘root’ (Administrator) user of                                                                                for instance the DMA mode is
your machine you must take                                                                                    disabled. This is done to
care that you do not corrupt                                                                                  achieve stability at the cost of
the config files and scripts                                                                                  speed. But there is no cause
otherwise you may end up                                                                                      for concern, as you can
with a malfunctioning                                                                                         change the settings through a
system.                                                                                                       command line utility called
                                                                                                              hdparm. Do #man hdparm
Speeding up boot process                                                                                      for details regarding this
      Most new users install a                                                                                feature.
      particular distro and                                                                                        Out of the many options
use it with all the default                         SECRETS THAT KEEP YOU AHEAD IN THE RACE
                                                                                                              it suggests we will look at
process running. Processes                                                                                    only a few that will help us
such as pcmcia, nfs, sshd etc.                                                                                improve performance of the
are not required on a home            GENERAL TIPS                       30 MINUTES EXPERT                    system. Before we start
desktop machine; these                Linux                        81    Use VirtualDub To Split         83   making changes to a drive’s
processes are mainly used on          PowerToys For Windows XP     82    Movie Files                          setting we should look at its
a server and some can be              Windows XP General Tips      87    Keep Your Registry Clean With   86   deafult setting. If you are
used on a desktop if you have         Windows Keyboard Shortcuts   88    RegCleaner 4.3                       logged in as a user, then
a small network running a                                                                                     logout and log back in as
Squid proxy. The normal boot                                                                                  root. Now, type #hdparm -v
process of Linux will start          command is #chkconfig --           will disable the respective           /dev/hda and hit [Enter]. This
most of these unwanted               level <levels 3 or 5> <process     process.                              command will display the
processes resulting in a long        name> on|off                           Some of you may wonder            current device setting of your
wait. It is easy to turn these           eg: # chkconfig --level 5      what a level is. Level 3 boots        hard drive. For those who are
unwanted processes off,              kudzu off                          the machine in text mode              not aware: hda = primary
especially on a Redhat-based             For Redhat users this task     while level 5 is the GUI mode         master, hdb = primary slave,
system.                              is extremely simple; thanks        that directly starts X-server         hdc = secondary master and
     Use the command                 the nifty use of ncurses.          and the X-windows                     hdd = secondary slave. On our
#chkconfig --list to display         Typing the command ‘ntsysv’        environment (KDE or                   system running Redhat
the list of process and its          on a konsole prompt will list      GNOME).                               (Shrike) on Seagate 40GB HDD
status for levels 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5   out all the process with its           Once the necessary                (IDE) we got the following
and 6. Of all these levels only      status indicated in ‘[*]’ box      processes are set, reboot the         output:
3 and 5 are concerned with           preceding the process name;        system, you will see a marked              [root@aryan rc.d]#
desktop user operation.              use spacebar button to             difference in the boot up             hdparm -v /dev/hda
Instead of suggesting that you       remove the ‘*’ in the box, this    time.                                      /dev/hda:
disabled these processes, we                                                                                        multcount = 16 (on)
would rather tell you what                                                                                          IO_support = 0 (default
processes are necessary for                                                                                   16-bit)
ideal operation. The essential                                                                                      unmaskirq = 0 (off)
processes are anacron, crond,                                                                                       using_dma = 0 (off)
echo, gpm, keytable, network                                                                                        keepsettings = 0 (off)
(enable this if the PC belongs                                                                                      readonly = 0 (off)
to a network), random,                                                                                              readahead = 8 (on)
sendmail, sshd, syslog and                                                                                          geometry =
xfs. You may enable other                                                                                     4865/255/63, sectors =
process that you think are                                                                                    78163247, start = 0
necessary, say, for instance,                                                                                      Most of the new hard
kudzu is a hardware                                                                                           drives will display
detection process that takes                                                                                  ‘using_dma = 1’ which is
considerable time in the boot                                                                                 good and that’s exactly what
process; most of us don’t                                                                                     we will do here.
open our machines and                                                                                              To enable DMA mode on a
replace the PCI cards too                                                                                     hard drive use the flag ‘-d 1’
often so kudzu can be                                                                                         command along with the
disabled. To disable a process                                                                                command hdparm. Similarly,
you will have to use                                                                                          we will add flags viz. -a, -A, -d,
‘chkconfig’ command                                                                                           -X, -m and -u. Before we
repeatedly for every process                                                                                  continue, let us warn you
that needs a change in its                                                                                    that manipulating drive
status. The complete                                                                                          settings can cause problems if
                                                                                                              your chipset is not supported

                                                                                                                          DIGIT DECEMBER 2005      81
     Digital Tools l Tips & Tricks
     or the drive doesn’t support        in order to reduce their noise     the following command in
     the setting fully. That is the      output, so the flag ‘-M’ is used   konsole or xterm #convert -
     reason for choosing only a          to change the acoustic level       depth 8 -colors 14 -resize
                                                                                                                  PowerToys For
     few flags as listed above and       of a drive, the numeric value      640x480 /root/grub-
                                                                                                                  Windows XP
     the -u flag is a crucial one,       used with this flag is between     pics/photo.jpg /root/grub-           The Windows XP PowerToys is
     use it only if you are              128 and 254; the silent and        pics/photo.xpm assuming              a set of applications you can
     confident that your chipset         hence the slowest is 128. Use      that your image is in a folder       download for free from
     and kernel can handle it.           0 is disable or to use the         called ‘grub-pics’ under /root.      Microsoft. They are not
     Let’s test speed of the drive:      default drive setting. We          Needless to say that convert         officially part of Windows XP,
         [root@aryan 00-anup]#           prefer a value of 192.             command converts the image           but Microsoft makes them
     hdparm -t /dev/hda                       The flag ‘-A 1’ enables the   in the necessary format but          available as enhancements to
         /dev/hda:                       auto read-ahead feature of         we still have to compress it to      it. One could say that the
          Timing buffered disk           the drive and ‘-a 64’ tells the    ‘gz’ format; so under                functionality the PowerToys
     reads: 64 MB in 24.30               drive how far to read ahead.       /root/grub-pics do #gzip             provide is something that
     seconds = 2.63 MB/sec               The ‘-m 16’ flag is a courtesy     photo.xpm. The output of the         should have been available in
         We got a speed of 2.63          as most modern IDE drives          command is the file we need          Windows all along, but for
     MB/sec as the DMA was               have this feature enabled;         ‘photo.xpm.gz’. Now, copy the        some reason is not. As such,
     disabled. You may try the           this feature reduces operating     image to /boot/grub                  several of the PowerToys
     command again to recheck.           systems overhead on a drive’s           #cp /root/grub-                 could be considered essential
     Now, let’s use the flags to         I/O. Now, let’s test for any       pics/photo.xpm.gz /boot/grub         to the OS.
     change drive settings and then      difference in speed of the              The last step is to edit             The XP PowerToys site is
     look for any performance            drive using #hdparm -t             GRUB’s config file. Open the         www.microsoft.com/window
     difference. The ideal               /dev/hda command.                  grub.conf file in /boot/grub         sxp/downloads/powertoys/xp
     command option is: #hdparm               [root@aryan 00-anup]#         using any of the command             powertoys.mspx
     -d 1 -X 69 -c 1 -M 192 -A 1 -a 64   hdparm -t /dev/hda                 line text editor such as vi.              The following is a list of
     -m 16 /dev/hda hit [Enter] to            Output:                       Look for the line                    the PowerToys you can
     execute the command. The                 /dev/hda:                     ‘splashimage= ‘ change the           download from there.
     output of the command shows               Timing buffered disk         path of splash screen image
     the change in settings.             reads: 64 MB in 1.67               from /grub/splash.xpm.gz to          Color Control Panel
         For Example:                    seconds = 38.32 MB/sec             /grub/photo.xpm.gz (as in            Applet For Windows XP
         [root@aryan 00-anup]#                You can see from the          our example).                              Professional-level
     hdparm -d 1 -X 69 -c 1 -M 192       output that the speed has               Reboot your system to see the         photographers and
     -A 1 -a 64 -m 16 /dev/hda           gone up from 2.63 MB/sec to        change in GRUB’s screen. You can     designers know that getting
         Output:                         38.32 MB/sec.                      avoid the task of converting         consistent, accurate colour
         /dev/hda:                                                          image to xpm format by using         from file to screen to print
          setting fs readahead to        Changing the GRUB                  readily available splash-screen      and beyond is a requirement
     64                                  Splash image                       images from the Net. Just save       for great results. On XP, the
          setting 32-bit IO_support             GRUB (GRand Unified         the image in /boot/grub and          means to obtain great colour
     flag to 1                                  Boot loader) is             change the path of splash image      is built into the OS via Image
          setting multcount to 16        commonly used to boot OSes         in the grub.conf file. Flaunt the    Color Management (ICM) 2.0.
          setting using_dma to 1         by almost all Linux                new look!                            ICM 2.0 is an International
     (on)                                distributions. If you are                                               Color Consortium (ICC)-
          setting xfermode to 69         bored seeing the same blue
     (UltraDMA mode5)                    GRUB screen every time, then
          setting drive read-            take a break—you can change
     lookahead to 1 (on)                 the GRUB ‘splash’ image by
          multcount = 16 (on)            editing GRUB’s config file.
          IO_support = 1 (32-bit)        Before we proceed to replace
          using_dma = 1 (on)             it with another image, let’s
          readahead = 64 (on)            understand the image
          setting acoustic               requirements.
     management to 192                        The image has to be 14
          acoustic = 192                 colours with a maximum
     (128=quiet ... 254=fast)            resolution of 640 x 480, and
         We have discussed ‘-d’ flag     in the xpm format. The
     to enable DMA earlier, so lets      immediate question is “how
     look at the other flags used        do I make such an image?”
     in the above command. When          Well, some distributions like
     enabling DMA, the ‘-X’ flag is      Redhat 9 have a command
     used to set the drive to a          line utility called
     particular DMA mode. Here:          ImageMagick. Do #man
     the numeric value 69 means          ImageMagick to know more
     64 plus the value of DMA            about it. Let’s consider that
     mode 5 is UltraDMA mode 5           you have an image in jpeg
     ATA100, add 6 for ATA133)           (*.jpg) format that you want
     and ‘-c’ flag enables/disables      to load as your splash screen.
     32 bit I/O support (the default     To change ‘photo.jpg’ into a
     is 16Bit). Modern hard disks        splash screen image switch to
     have the ability to slow down       root (administrator) then use

82   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                              Digital Tools l Tips & Tricks



                 Use VirtualDub To Split Movie Files
                Now, fit high-quality DVD rips on CDs!

                                                    Adjust Audio/Video                  frame number and the elapsed time.
Anup Nair                                           Settings                            Move the slider to the last frame,
                                                  The most important point to           note the total number of frames,

W      hat do you do when you want
       to resize or cut a large movie
file—say an AVI file—into two or
                                        remember is that we’re not
                                        encoding a file, so go to Video >
                                        Direct Stream Copy. Failing this,
                                                                                        and divide it by two if you think it
                                                                                        will result in appropriate split file
                                                                                        sizes.
more parts, so that they can be         VirtualDub will re-encode the movie
written onto CDs? DVD ripping tools to its default format.
have inbuilt splitters, but one often
ends up with problems such as
sound lag and low volume in the
ripped output file. The ideal method
would be to let the DVD ripping tool
rip the entire DVD movie to a single
AVI file, and then use VirtualDub, a
tool for splitting such files into
smaller chunks - and if need be,
correct the volume and sound lag
problems.
     VirtualDub is freeware licensed
under the GNU General Public                                                            The selected length of the moive turns blue
License. You can download it from                                                       indicating part
http://sourceforge.net/projects/virtu
aldub.                                                                                      Now move the slider back to the
     Choose the package named          Ensure that you select ‘Direct stream copy’ in   first frame and press [Home]. This
VirtualDub-1.6.11.zip (i386 type) for  video menu                                       will create a starting point. Keeping
a computer running a Win32 OS.                                                          [Shift] pressed, move the slider to a
Unzip the package to a folder with          The default audio settings are              frame number that is close to half
preferably the same name. Just          preferred, but if the original ripped           the total number of frames. At this
locate the file named                   file is lacking in audio volume, you            point, press [End]; the selected time
VirtualDub.exe and run it. The          can increase the recorded volume by             length turns blue.
process does not involve                choosing ‘Full processing mode’                     Click File > Save as AVI, and
installation; just accept the GNU       from the ‘Audio’ menu. This enables             provide a file name such as
license, and the main window of         more audio settings. Now go to back             “movie_name_ part 1.avi”. The
VirtualDub pops up.                     to the ‘Audio’ menu and choose                  progress indicator dialog box
     You can also split files of other  ‘Volume…’, enable ‘Adjust volume of             appears, displaying the progress,
formats using VirtualDub. If you’re     audio channels’, and increase or                projected file size, and other related
splitting a DivX file, note that        decrease the volume bar as per your             information.
problems have been reported with        judgement.                                          For the second part of the movie,
splitting older versions of DivX-           If you leave the audio settings             press [Home] to set the last frame of
encoded video (DivX version 4.02), so here, you’ll get a rather large output            part 1 as the first frame of part 2.
it is advisable to upgrade to a newer   file, since the audio will be in PCM            Drag the slider to the last frame of
version of the codec before             format (WAV). So, we need to do a               the movie (remember to hold down
proceeding with VirtualDub.             step or two more. Go to                         [Shift]) and hit [End] to select the
                                        ‘Compression’ in the ‘Audio’ menu               second part of the movie. Follow the
         Open The Video File            and choose ‘LameMP3’. A set of                  same file-saving procedure to save
         Select File > Open Video       formats appears on the right.                   the second half. Remember, if the
         File, and choose the AVI       Choose ‘44100 Hz, 256Kbps, CBR                  movie is very long, you might even
video file you want to split. Click     stereo’ and then click ‘OK’. (If this           want to split the file into three or
‘Open’. You’ll see the movie file       option is not available, go to                  more parts - which you can easily do
opened with two previews, and           ‘Conversion’ under the ‘Audio’ menu             using the above procedure.
under it will be a timeline with a      and enable 16-bit audio.)                           VirtualDub can also be used for
slider showing the length of the                                                        other audio/video editing processes
movie. The left window is the source              Split The Movie File                  such as changing a movie from
file and the right one is a preview of            The timeline has a slider             portrait to landscape view and vice-
the same frame of the output file.                that you can move along the           versa, which comes in very handy for
Both will be the same until you tell    length of the movie. While moving               videos shot using a mobile phone.
it to make a change.”                   the slider, note that the frame count
                                        just under the timeline shows the                              anup_nair@thinkdigit.com


                                                                                                                 DIGIT DECEMBER 2005   83
     Digital Tools l Tips & Tricks
     compliant colour                  RAW Image Thumbnailer
     management system exposed         and Viewer
     through Win32 API                       If you’re a serious
     functions, so it is readily             photographer, you can
     available to any application,     now organise and work with
     device driver, device             digital RAW files in Windows
     calibration tool, or Color        Explorer, much as you can
     Management Module (CMM).          with JPEG images. This tool
     Windows itself, and many          provides thumbnails,
     Windows-based software            previews, printing, and
     applications, use ICM 2.0         metadata display for RAW
     ‘under the covers’ to improve     images.
     the appearance of pictures
     and graphics.                     [Alt] + [Tab] Replacement
         Until now, Windows has               If you constantly run
     lacked a central Control                 several applications,
     Panel interface for               the [Alt] + [Tab] application
     managing ICC colour               switching functionality in
     profiles and ICM 2.0 colour       Windows would be one of
     settings across the system.       your most often used key
     The new Microsoft Color           presses. This PowerToy
     Control Panel Applet for          replaces that functionality
     Windows XP addresses this         using a thumbnail preview        XP has always lacked a way to fine-tune ClearType, which is a neces-
     by adding a Color tool to the     of each window in the task       sary feature, since different displays and different people’s eyes prefer
     Control Panel, making it          list, displayed in a manner      different types of text display. Now, ClearType Tuner gives you the
     easier for you to manage          consistent with XP’s look        freedom to do this successfully
     Windows colour settings.          and feel.
                                            Here’s how it works. Once
     SyncToy                           you have two or more
            These days, files come     applications running, hold
            from every direction:      down [Alt] and press [Tab].
     digital cameras, e-mail, cell     This displays the first
     phones, portable media            application window in the
     players, camcorders, and          task list, using an attractive
     PDAs. Increasingly, computer      thumbnail image. Release
     users are using different         [Alt] and [Tab] to select that
     folders, drives, and even         application, or hit [Tab]
     different computers (such as      repeatedly until you find the
     a laptop and a desktop) to        application to which you’d
     store and retrieve files.         like to switch.
     Managing hundreds or                   This PowerToy could be a
     thousands of files is still       pain to use. The problem is
     largely a manual operation.       speed—generating and
     In some cases it is               displaying the thumbnails
     necessary to get copies of        could bog down the system.
     files from one place; in
     other cases there is a need to    CD Slide Show Generator
     keep two storage locations              This tool is great if      technology, which effectively         Advanced mode where you
     exactly in sync.                        you’re into digital        triples the horizontal                modify sample text until you
          SyncToy is a free            photography. It generates a      resolution of text displayed          get the effect you desire.
     PowerToy that provides an         slideshow of digital photos or   on your LCD display. However,             This PowerToy is even
     easy-to-use, highly               other images. The CD Slide       XP has always lacked a way to         more recommended if you’re
     customisable program that         Show Generator integrates        fine-tune ClearType, which is         using ClearType on an LCD
     helps users to do the heavy       into XP’s CD Recording           a necessary feature, since            display.
     lifting involved with the         Wizard, providing an extra       different displays and
     copying, moving, and              step when you’re trying to       different people’s eyes prefer        Slide Show Wizard
     synchronisation of different      burn image-only CDs. There’s     different types of text display.            The Slide Show Wizard—
     folders. Most common              even an option that asks         With the addition of the                    previously called the
     operations can be performed       whether you’d like to add a      ClearType Tuner, XP users can         HTML Slide Show Wizard—is a
     with just a few clicks of the     picture viewer to the CD; if     get OS-level ClearType tuning         standalone application that
     mouse, and additional             you choose ‘Yes’, you can        capabilities.                         generates a Web-based
     customisation is available        bring the CD to a non-XP PC          ClearType Tuner installs          slideshow. You can add
     without added complexity.         and still view the slideshow!    as a Control Panel applet             individual pictures and
          SyncToy can manage                                            called ClearType Tuning (the          folders—though the ‘Browse
     multiple sets of folders at the   ClearType Tuner                  applet itself is called               for Folder’ dialog it uses
     same time; it can combine              One of the biggest          ClearType Settings). You can          begins in ‘My Documents’
     files from two folders in one          usability improvements      run it in two modes—either as         rather than ‘My Pictures’.
     case, and mimic renames and       in Windows XP was the            a wizard that steps you                   In the next step, you can
     deletes in another.               inclusion of ClearType           through the process, or in an         name the slideshow, provide

84   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                                          Digital Tools l Tips & Tricks
an optional author name,              Pictures’ dialog will appear,                                                            lets you manage
determine the location to             giving you options to resize                                                             the Desktops.
which it will be saved (by            the images at 640 x 480
default, it saves your                (Small), 800 x 600 (Medium),                                                             Taskbar
slideshow to a folder named           1024 x 768 (Large) or 240 x                                                              Magnifier
‘My Slide Show’ under ‘My             320 (Handheld PC-sized, for                                                                  This is
Documents’), the picture              Windows CE-based Pocket PC                                                                   similar to
sizes, and so on. You can             and other handheld devices).                                                           the Magnifier
choose between a simple               When you resize the images,                                                            tool that comes
slideshow and a more                  new versions are created with                                                          with XP (Start >
advanced one that offers              slightly different file names                                                          Programs >
thumbnails. You can also              by default. For example, if                                                            Accessories >
determine whether the                 you resize an image called                                                             Accessibility),
slideshow plays in a normal           “Digit Magazine” to Large, it                                                          providing screen
browser window or in full-            will be renamed “Digit                                                                 magnification
screen mode. The finished             Magazine (Large)”.                                                                     capabilities. The
product is good, but with two             There is also an                                                                   difference is
serious flaws:                        ‘Advanced’ button you can use                                                          that the
     First, you must be               to enable more options. This                                                           PowerToys
running IE to display the             includes a choice to make                                                              version sits in
slideshows correctly. Second,         images smaller during                                                                  the Taskbar and,
if you’ve upgraded to SP2,            conversion, but not larger,                                                            as a result,
then the slideshows you               and one that will replace the                                                          offers a smaller
create with this tool generate        original rather than make a           The Power Calculator gives you many more         viewing area.
a lot of Active Content               copy.                                 options than the standard Windows calculator     To activate this
Protection errors.                                                                                                           PowerToy, right-
                                      Command Window Here                                                                    click the
Image Resizer                               This PowerToy adds an           calculations, but you might         Taskbar and select ‘Taskbar’,
      This little PowerToy                  ‘Open Command                   often find yourself looking         then ‘Taskbar Magnifier’. If
      allows you to resize a          Window Here’ item in the              for additional functionality.       you right-click the PowerToy,
picture or group of pictures          right-click context menu. You         The Power Calculator                you get options for following
without changing the                  just need to right-click a            provides those
originals. It works in a              folder and choose ‘Open               additional features
manner similar to the ‘Send           Command Window Here’,                 including functions,
Pictures via E-mail’                  and a DOS command window              graphing, precision
functionality that’s inbuilt          will open in that folder              settings, and basic but
into Windows XP, but with             rather than in the root,              useful conversions.
easier control over the sizing        which is the default. This
options, and with the                 PowerToy is a must-have if            Virtual Desktop
batching functionality for            you use the command line              Manager
resizing multiple images at           often!                                      Windows NT has
the same time.                                                                    always had the
    To use this PowerToy,             Power Calculator                      ability to generate
select any image or group of                The calculator app that         multiple desktop
images, right-click, and select             ships with Windows XP           displays. Now you can
‘Resize Pictures’. The ‘Resize        is adequate for basic maths           get one free for XP.
                                                                            The PowerToys version The magnifier helps those with vision
                                                                            of this tool lets you      problems to clearly make out text and icons
                                                                            work with up to four
                                                                            virtual desktops, each of
                                                                            which contains a copy of the      the mouse cursor and
                                                                            Start Menu, Desktop, and          keyboard focus, and a
                                                                            Taskbar—each virtual desktop      setting for the zoom level
                                                                            can be running different          (1x to 8x; 2x is the default).
                                                                            applications. So if you’re a      TweakUI for Windows XP
                                                                            serious power user, you might             The XP version of
                                                                            separate groups of running                TweakUI is the best
                                                                            applications into their own       version yet (it was a standard
                                                                            Desktops.                         Control Panel applet that
                                                                                To launch the Virtual         came with Windows 95).
                                                                            Desktop Manager, right-click Basically, TweakUI for
                                                                            the Taskbar, choose               Windows XP brings up a user
                                                                            Toolbars, and then Desktop        interface for numerous
                                                                            Manager. This will add a          system settings that are not
                                                                            new toolbar to the Taskbar        normally exposed through
                                                                            that lets you switch between the default XP interface. Most
                                                                            the virtual Desktops,             of these options would have
The Image Resizer will let you easily resize images into predefined sizes   numbered 1 through 4. It          previously required you to
such as 640 x 480 or 1024 x 768                                             also provides a button that       edit the Registry.

                                                                                                                             DIGIT DECEMBER 2005     85
     Digital Tools l Tips & Tricks



                           Keep Your Registry Clean With
                           RegCleaner 4.3
                           You don’t have to know what the registry is and what it does… just use
                           RegCleaner4.3!
      Anup Nair                                             Cleaning The Registry
                                                           The task of cleaning the

      M     any Windows users are not aware
            of the Windows Registry. Even if
      you’ve heard about it, you may not
                                                           Registry has never been this
                                                   easy. Just go to Tools > ‘Registry
                                                   Cleanup’; this will display four
      know what it does and why one needs          options - ‘OLE cleaner’, ‘Orphan file
      to get rid of unwanted entries.              reference finder’, ‘Automatic Registry
          Windows maintains a log, in the          Cleaner’ and ‘Do them all’.
      form of the Registry, which records an           ‘OLE cleaner’ cleans unused and
      entry for every software installed and       invalid Object Linking and
      being used. It even stores information       Embedded entries. (Object Linking
      such as each user’s profile and              and Embedding allows objects from
      hardware devices. This information is        one application to be embedded
      continuously referred to by Windows.         within another, for example, taking
          If you regularly install and                                                           You can use Uninstall menu to display those
      uninstall applications, you’ll have a                                                      applications that are not listed in Add
      lot of unwanted entries in your                                                            Remove program
      registry that will adversely affect the
      functioning of your PC.                                                                    Menu’, ‘File Types’, ‘New File’, ‘Shell
      RegCleaner4.3 helps you with the                                                           Extensions’ and ‘Backups’. ‘Uninstall
      task of cleaning the registry by                                                           Menu’ can be used effectively to
      scanning for irrelevant entries.                                                           remove unwanted applications not
                                                                                                 listed in ‘Add and Remove Programs’
               Download and install                                                              in the Control Panel.
               RegCleaner4.3 is freeware. It                                                         Clicking on the ‘Uninstall
               can be downloaded from              Choosing ‘Do them all’ option in ‘Tools’      Menu’ tab will display a list of the
      http://www.worldstart.com/weekly-            registry cleanup will scan the registry for   software installed on your system.
      download/archives/reg-                       irrelevant entries                            Drop down the ‘Options’ menu, go
      cleaner4.3.htm/.                                                                           to ‘Uninstall…’, and select ‘Show
          Double-clicking the executable              an Excel spreadsheet and putting it        only hidden software’. This will
      file will start the installation                into a Word document.) Entries             display only hidden applications
      process. You can deselect ‘Language             pointing to non-existing files are         such as NetMeeting, Outlook
                                                             removed by the Orphan file          Express and so on, programs
                                                             reference finder. ‘Automatic        that are not visible in ‘Add and
                                                             Registry Cleaner’ scans the         Remove Programs’. Just select the
                                                             registry for old and invalid        ones you don’t need and click
                                                             entries.                            ‘Uninstall’.
                                                                  All the options display a          Be careful when you click
                                                             list of invalid entries that you    ‘Remove Selected’, as this will not
                                                             can select and remove. If you       uninstall the software - it will just
                                                             want to clean the entire            remove the entry. This option is
                                                             Registry at one go, select ‘Do      useful only when a software is
                                                             them all’. This option scans        already uninstalled but the entry is
                                                             the registry for irrelevant         still there in the ‘Add and Remove
                                                             entries and lists them out.         Programs’ list.
      The RegCleaner4.3 with various tabs displaying the     You can now select them all,            We’ve talked only about cleaning
      action to choose from                                  and then click ‘Remove              the Registry and getting rid of
                                                             Selected’. Make sure you’ve         unwanted software. RegCleaner has
                                                      enabled ‘Create only one backup file’      additional utilities that can alter file
      Packs’ from the setup options. When             before you remove entries without          types. It can also remove unwanted
      the process says ‘complete’, there’s            checking each one.                         shell extensions. We do not, however,
      still something left: you need to                                                          want to get into that, as deleting an
      double-click the desktop ‘RegCleaner’                   Using The Uninstall Tab            extension without knowing in detail
      icon to finalise installation. Accept                   The main menu of                   about what you’re doing can crash
      the disclaimer, and RegCleaner4.3                       RegCleaner shows up tabs -         your PC!
      pops up.                                        ‘Software’, ‘Startup List’, ‘Uninstall                    anup_nair@thinkdigit.com


86   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                                    Digital Tools l Tips & Tricks

                                                                        functions, use this hack—but      Perform A Boot
                                                                        only if your system has 256       Defragment
                                                                        MB or more of RAM.                       There’s a simple way to
                                                                        Change the value of                      speed up XP startup:
                                                                        HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE                make your system do a boot
                                                                        \SYSTEM                           defragment, which will put
                                                                        \CurrentControlSet\Control        all the boot files next to each
                                                                        \Session Manager\Memory           other on your hard disk.
                                                                        Management\DisablePaging          When boot files are in close
                                                                        Executive to “1” to disable       proximity to each other, your
                                                                        paging and have the kernel        system will start faster.
                                                                        run in RAM. Set the value to           On most systems, boot
                                                                        “0” to undo the hack). Exit       defragment should be
                                                                        the Registry and reboot.          enabled by default, but it
                                                                                                          might not be on yours, or it
                                                                        Alter Prefetch                    might have been changed
                                                                        Parameters                        inadvertently. To make sure
                                                                               Prefetching (the           boot defragment is enabled
                                                                               reading of system boot     on your system, run the
TweakUI has hundreds of hidden tweaks that you would never come         files into a cache for faster     Registry Editor and go to
across when working normally with Windows XP. You have to install it    loading) is a commonly            HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOF
to believe the customisability that it offers                           overlooked component that         TWARE\Microsoft\Dfrg\Boo
                                                                        can have a significant impact     tOptimizeFunction. Edit the
    Unlike previous versions        whether to resize the images,       on system boot time. This         “Enable” string value to “Y” if
of TweakUI, TweakUI for             the local or Internet               tweak allows you to select        it is not already set to this.
Windows XP is a standalone          destination for saving the files,   which components will make        Exit the Registry and reboot.
executable. This means you          and other options.                  use of the prefetch
should delete any old copies                                            parameters. To see which          Don’t Empty The Prefetch
of TweakUI before installing                                            files are gathered using each     Folder
this version. The PowerToy           Windows XP General                 setting, clear the prefetch             Many people
features a cascading tree view       Tips                               cache located at                        recommending a way of
of options on the left, and                                             C:\Windows\Prefetch, and          speeding up boot times that
selecting any option will           Change The Start Menu               then enable one of the            might in fact slow down the
display configuration options       Speed                               settings listed here. Clear the   amount of time it takes to
on the right.                             You might want to             cache and repeat for each         boot up, and will probably
    You can do all kinds of               change the delay you          setting.                          slow down launching
things with this PowerToy.          notice when you click the               Set the Registry key          applications as well: the tip
You can configure various UI        Start menu. The default             HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE                recommends going to your
effects, such as menu fading,       speed can be adjusted with a        \SYSTEM                           C:\WINDOWS\Prefetch
error beeping, cursor shadow,       quick Registry hack. Go to          \CurrentControlSet\Control        directory and emptying it
and the like. You can               the Registry key                    \Session Manager\Memory           every week. Windows uses
configure the mouse, the            HKEY_CURRENT_USER                   Management\PrefetchParam          this directory to speed up
taskbar, and the desktop. You       \Control Panel                      eters\EnablePrefetcher to “0”     launching applications. It
can edit common dialogs,            \Desktop\MenuShowDelay.             to disable prefetching, “1” to    analyses the files you use
and determine the location of       The default value is 400. Set       prefetch application launch       during startup and the
special shell folders, such as      it to 0 to remove the delay         files, “2” to prefetch boot       applications you launch, and
the CD burning cache. You           completely, but if you do           files, or “3” to prefetch as      it creates an index to where
can also do things like             that, it will be nearly             many files as possible.           those files and applications
preventing drives from              impossible to move the                                                are located on your hard
showing up in Explorer.             mouse fast enough not to            Disable 8.3 Name                  disk. By using this index, XP
    TweakUI for Windows XP is       activate ‘All Programs’ if you      Creation In NTFS                  can launch files and
definitely something that           mouse over it while going to              Files that use the 8.3      applications faster. So, by
should have been inbuilt in XP!     your selection. Pick a                    naming convention can       emptying the directory, you
                                    number that suits you, make         degrade NTFS drive                are most likely slowing down
Webcam Timershot                    the change, and test it until       performance. Unless you have      application launch.
       This is a good Web           you find a good compromise          a good reason for keeping the
       camera tool that offers a    between speed and usability.        8.3 naming convention intact      Hack Your BIOS For
lot of functionality. It can                                            (such as if you’re using 16-bit   Faster Startups
capture images from the             Place The Windows Kernel            programs), a performance               Most people don’t
camera at specific intervals        Into RAM                            gain can be achieved by                realise that you can also
and automatically save it to a            Anything that runs in         disabling it.                     speed up the time your
location, even an FTP or Web              RAM will, of course, be           Set the Registry DWORD        computers to get to Windows.
site. The sheer number of           faster than something that          key                                  Quick Power On Self Test
options is impressive: when         has to access the hard drive        HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYS            (POST)
you hit the expand button, the      and virtual memory. Rather          TEM\CurrentControlSet\Co          When you choose this option,
window opens up four-fold,          than have the kernel that is        ntrol\FileSystem\NtfsDisabl       your system runs an
with options for choosing the       the foundation of XP using          e8dot3NameCreation to “1”.        abbreviated POST rather than
picture-taking interval,            the slower Paging Executive         Exit the Registry and reboot.     the normal, lengthy one.

                                                                                                                     DIGIT DECEMBER 2005    87
     Digital Tools l Tips & Tricks
         Boot Up Floppy Seek            ClearPageFileAtShutdown to
     Disable this option. When it’s     “0”. Exit the Registry Editor       The
     enabled, your system spends a      and restart your computer.          accessibilit
     few extra seconds looking for          Whenever you turn off XP        y options
     your floppy drive, a relatively    from now on, the paging file        will let you
     pointless procedure, especially    won’t be cleared, and you           customise
     considering how infrequently       should be able to shut down         how your
     you use your floppy drive.         more quickly.                       keyboard
         Boot Delay                                                         behaves
     Some systems let you delay                                             when
     booting after you turn on
                                         Windows Keyboard                   certain
     your PC so that your hard
                                         Shortcuts                          keys are
     drive gets a chance to start       You know of the obvious             pressed
     spinning before bootup. Most       keyboard shortcuts, such as
     likely, you don ‘t need to have    [Ctrl] + [V], and [Alt] + [Tab].
     this boot delay, so turn it off.   You probably don’t know
     If you run into problems,          them all, however.
     however, you can always turn       Experiment with them all -
     it back on again.                  most of them which we’ve
                                        listed here - and see which
     Fine-Tune Your Registry            ones you’d like to adopt!
     For Faster Startups
           Over time, your Registry         [Windows] + [E] opens My
           can turn bloated with        Computer in Windows
     unused entries, slowing down       Explorer
     your system startup because            [Windows] + [Pause/Break]      Manager                                When enabled, this
     your system loads them every       opens the System Properties             [F2] will rename an item      function causes modifier
     time you start up your PC.         dialog box                              [F3] opens the ‘Search for    keys to ‘stick’ until they are
     Get a Registry clean-up tool to        [Windows] + [U] opens the      files and folders’ window          either manually released, or
     delete unneeded Registry           Utility Manager                         [F6] cycles through the       until a keystroke
     entries and speed up startup           [Windows] + [R] opens the      different types of elements        combination is complete. In
     times.                             ‘Run…’ prompt                      that can be selections on a        other words, it makes
         After you clean out your           [Windows] + [F] opens the      screen or window                   modifier keys behave more
     Registry, you might want to        ‘Search for Files and Folders’          [F10] selects the menu bar    like locking ones. There are
     try compacting it to get rid of    window                             in the active program (usually     a number of settings to
     unused space.                          [Windows] + [Ctrl] + [F]       ‘File’) so you can use the         allow options like
                                        opens the ‘Search for              arrow keys to navigate             confirmation sounds, to
     Shutting Down Faster               computers on the network’          through the menus and              automatically turn it off
            For security reasons,       window                             [Enter] to select                  when no longer needed, and
            you can have XP clear           [Windows] + [M]                     [Shift] + [F10]: for a        so on.
     your paging file (pagefile.sys)    minimises all windows              selected item, this does the       FilterKeys: This feature can
     of its contents whenever you           [Windows] + [Shift] + [M]      same thing as a right-click        be considered the opposite of
     shut down. Your paging file        maximises all windows (after       with the mouse                     the typematic feature; it
     is used to store temporary         you’ve minimised them)                  [Ctrl] + [Esc] opens the      causes Windows to suppress
     files and data, but when your          [Windows] + [D]                Start Menu                         or ignore bursts of keystrokes
     system shuts down,                 minimises all windows to the            Clicking [Shift] five times   that are sent too quickly -
     information stays in the file.     desktop, and then restores all     turns StickyKeys On or Off         either fast streams of the
     Some people prefer to have         Windows                                 Holding down the right        same key or clumps of
     the paging file cleared at             [Windows] + [L] locks the      [Shift] for eight seconds turns    different keys sent all at once.
     shutdown because sensitive         computer                           FilterKeys On or Off               Such bursts might, for
     information, such as                   [Windows] + [B] selects             Holding down [Num Lock]       example, be made by
     unencrypted passwords,             the first item in the System       for five seconds turns             someone who does not have
     sometimes ends up in the           Tray; use the arrow keys to        ToggleKeys On or Off               perfect control of his or her
     file. However, clearing the        cycle through the items and                                           fingers due to a tremor. A
     paging file can slow               use [Enter] to open a selected     StickyKeys, FilterKeys,            number of settings let you
     shutdown times significantly,      item in the System Tray            ToggleKeys                         control how long a key must
     so if extreme security isn’t a         [Alt] + [Enter] opens the             StickyKeys: This feature    be held down for it to
     high priority, you might not       ‘Properties’ page of a selected           changes the way             register, set audible
     want to clear it.                  item                               modifier keys work. Normally,      confirmations and other
          To shut down XP without           [Alt] + [Esc] cycles between   keys like [Shift] and [Ctrl] are   options.
     clearing your paging file,         open programs in the order         only ‘active’ while they’re        ToggleKeys: This feature
     run the Registry Editor and        they were opened                   held down. When you release        causes Windows to provide an
     go to:                                 [Alt] + [Spacebar]: in the     them the system forgets they       audible indication when any
     HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYS             active window, this brings up      were ever pressed. This causes     of the permanent (locking)
     TEM\CurrentControlSet\Con          the corner dialog box for          problems for some users who        modifier keys is pressed. In
     trol\Session                       Move, Size, Minimize,              can’t, for example, hold down      essence, this is like an
     Manager\Memory                     Maximize, or Close                 three keys at once to enter        audible version of the
     Management. Change the                 [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [Esc]       certain combinations like          indicator LEDs on the
     value of                           Opens the Windows Task             [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Tab].            keyboard.

88   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
      OLD
      WAY Reading A Book Physically vs
      TECH
       WAY Reading It Online
     The one book          Renuka Rane (renuka_rane@thinkdigit.com)
     I have read in
     physical form
     and also online is
     Wuthering Heights
     authored by
     Emily Brontë.
     This novel is one
     of the greatest
     masterpieces of
     English literature.
     Why did I read
     the same book
     online as well as
     offline? Just to
     see which of the
     two offered me a
     better reading
     experience—
     honestly, just
     for kicks!
                            The Physical Book...                                           ... And The Softcopy

                           First of all, I had to get my hands on a copy of              To get Wuthering Heights online, I straightway headed
                           Wuthering Heights. I dropped into the nearby                  to the Mecca of free online text downloads on the


             1
                           bookstore that I usually frequent. And there it was—          Internet—Project Gutenberg. I nailed it in no time. To
                           the complete, unabridged version. Published by Rupa           be precise, it was at www.gutenberg.org/etext/768.
                           Co., it cost just Rs 70. I could scarcely believe my luck!        Of the two choices offered, the HTML and the
                           And the book was truly delightful—its cover, design           plain-text version, I chose the former. I could now
                           and layout had a singular Victorian charm.                    read the text in the font I like!

                           Time taken: 20 minutes                                        Time taken: 3 minutes

                           The book had it all—an introductory note, the                 After a couple of hours of reading, I realised that
                           prologue, and the pages filled with the story of the          reading your favourite novel on a computer is not


            2
                           doomed lovers, Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw.             such a good idea. Unless you can deal with a stiff
                           I curled up in bed, picked up a packet of munchies            neck and watery eyes. Somehow, I managed to
                           and started reading. As the story unfolded, I read            finish a third of the novel.
                           the first half late into the night.

                           Time taken: 2 hours                                           Time taken: 2 hours

                           The next day, I carried the book with me as I had to          I proceeded with my reading online. One good thing



            3
                           go out of town. The to and fro journey took nearly            was that whenever an unfamiliar word cropped up, I
                           two hours. And there I was, reading in the train,             quickly looked up the online thesaurus (I prefer
                           oblivious to the world. As the journey ended, I only          Hyperdictionary.com). It’s quite tiresome to lug the
                           had some 50-odd pages left. Hurrah!                           heavy Oxford Dictionary around!

                           Time taken: 2 hours                                           Time taken: 2 hours

                           As I read the last few pages, I re-read certain               Being online, it was easy to locate a precise word


           4               passages in the text. No distractions here! I
                           completed the book, finally!


                           Time taken: 1 hour
                                                                                         or para. Also, I couldn’t help visiting other Web
                                                                                         pages to read reviews and other studies. Lots of
                                                                                         distraction online, nevertheless, very informative.

                                                                                         Time taken: 2 hours

                            Total Time Taken: 5 hours, 20 minutes                         Total Time Taken: 6 hours, 3 minutes
                            Total Cost: Rs 70                                             Total Cost: Rs 0


                                                                                             While reading e-books is becoming more
       And
       The                  D   espite the extras the Tech Way has to offer, I have to
                                say that for me, the Old Way was infinitely better. In
                            terms of portability, I could read the book wherever I
                                                                                         commonplace, nothing beats the experience of
                                                                                         reading a book the way it should be read—the good
      Winner                wanted—like I did on the train. And it’s still some time     old-fashioned way. The feel of paper is indeed a
       Is...                before I can afford a laptop or a handheld!                  tangible thing!


90      DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                            DVD Burning
                      Lots of people have started buying DVD-Writers, but problems abound


                                                                                                     1440 minutes (24 hours). Now you can
     Robert Sovereign-Smith                                                                          leave your computer unattended while
                                                                                                     burning DVDs or CDs.

     M    aking the Digit DVD every month, we
          come across problems we never
     knew existed. Some we’re able to solve,
                                                                                                     Problem: You use your DVD drive to back
                                                                                                     up important system data. Even though
     some just leave us perplexed. We also get                                                       you burnt the data successfully, you find a
     a lot of questions from our readers. Let’s                                                      lot of it is corrupt when trying a restore.
     take a look at a few.                         Run the “net stop wuauserv” command to stop       Solution: This problem is common with
                                                   the Windows Update service                        older DVD-Writers. As the lens gets dirtier
     Problem: The drive says it can burn at                                                          and the laser weaker, errors start to creep
     16x, yet if a DVD is burnt at anything        second one is the one that will reboot your       in to your discs. Burning a DVD with Nero,
     above 4x, the drive spits out a coaster.      system automatically, so leaving your             you might see the “Burn completed
     Solution: This sounds a little like the       system unattended when burning discs is           successfully” message and think all is
     following joke:                               a no-no.                                          well, but this isn’t always the case.
     Patient: Doctor, it hurts when I do this.          You could just turn off the Auto-                 The problem lies either in an
     Doctor: Well, don’t do that then!             Update feature, but then you might miss           underpowered system, or a faulty DVD
     The simplest solution is to burn at slower    out on something critical. We don’t               drive. Try and close all other
     speeds. The problem is generally caused       recommend this.                                   applications when burning a DVD. If your
     by bottlenecks in your hardware—a slow             You can temporarily disable the              computer has been on for a long time,
     CPU, older and slower hard drive or too       restart option by going to Start > Run,           turn it off for 15 minutes and then start
     little RAM can cause problems when            and typing in “net stop wuauserv”. This           it. Then end all unnecessary applications
     burning at higher speeds. Yes, new            is a good temporary solution, as it               and burn the DVD. If you are on a
     generation drives are supposed to use         enables the Windows Update service at             network and have a lot of frequently
     error correction and caching to avoid         next reboot. This solution is the only            accessed shared folders, you might want
     producing coffee-cup coasters, but            choice Windows XP Home users have.
     they’re only machines! You can’t                   Windows XP Professional users can
     seriously expect a drive to burn at 16x on    use the Group Policy Editor: go to Start >
     a system configuration of a 700 MHz           Run, type in “gpedit.msc” and press
     CPU, a 5400 rpm hard drive and 256 MB         [Enter]. Find your way to Local Computer
     of SD RAM. 1x would be the safest option      Policy > Computer Configuration >
     in this case!                                 Administrative Templates > Windows
                                                   Components > Windows Update. Here you
     Problem: This actually happened when          will see many options that should be self-
     we were burning the current month’s Digit     explanatory. The most important ones
     DVD master! The Windows XP Auto-              are: “No auto-restart for schedule
     Update feature rebooted the computer          Automatic Updates installations”, which
     when no one was looking, and there was a      can be set to “Enabled”, or set “Re-              Check the ‘Verify Written Data’ checkbox
     DVD being written!                            prompt for restart with scheduled
     Solution: There are quite a few solutions     installations” to something like                  to disable the network connection while
     to this problem, and none of them involve                                                       you burn.
     the DVD drive or your burning software.                                                             For important data, it is imperative
     It’s a Windows problem. There are two                                                           that you check “Verify Written Data”,
     types of reboot warning bugs that appear—                                                       which is at the bottom left when you
     the one that asks for a confirmation and                                                        start the burning process. This function
     pops up every 10 minutes, and the one                                                           is available on all major DVD or CD
     that automatically reboots in five minutes.                                                     burning software, but may be named
     Both are just as deadly, because if you are                                                     differently. What this option does is
     typing something when the first one pops                                                        match the data written on the DVD, byte
     up, hitting [Enter] or [Y] will reboot your                                                     by byte, with the data on the hard drive
     computer, and you will lose anything you                                                        that you burn. If the data verification
     didn’t save—DVDs or CDs currently being                                                         succeeds, you have successfully written
     burnt will be of no use except to adorn                                                         the DVD without corruption.
     auto-rickshaw rear-view mirrors! The          You can permanently disable the restart feature                 robert_smith@thinkdigit.com

92   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
     MSI NX7800 GTX 256 MB                                             Kodak EasyShare V530
                                                                       Little Wonder
     T   he NX7800 GTX is a spanking new graphics card from
         MSI. It is based on the nVidia GeForce 7800 GTX. The
     card has 256 MB of GDDR3 RAM and dual DVI outputs. It             T  he V530 is a shiny little 35 mm digicam. It's not tiny on
                                                                          features though, and boasts of 5 megapixels with 3x optical
     is also ViVo capable. It performed on par with the 7800           and 4x digital zoom and auto-focus. What's more, it can even
                            GTX-based card from XFX which we           record video at 640 x 480.
                              had tested earlier, but fell a little        The Kodak EasyShare V530 connects to a Kodak
                              behind in 3DMark03 and 3DMark05.         EasyShare dock for file transfer and printing. It uses USB 2.0
                                Still, the card is blazingly fast—                                    for PC transfer, and features
                                 faster than almost all cards                                         PictBridge. The photographs we
                                  currently available.                                                took were crisp, and the colours
                                     The card supports Shader                                         perfectly reproduced. Thanks to
                           Model 3.0 and has 24 pipelines—the                                         the powerful inbuilt flash, the
                         highest yet in the graphics industry—so                                      photographs were just as
                    all the latest games can be played on this                                        brilliant even when we shot in
              card in their full glory. The bundled game is                                          total darkness.
       Chronicles of Riddick: Butcher’s Bay. At Rs 36,000, this card                         Unfortunately, internal memory is a paltry
      is out of the reach of most, but die-hard gaming addicts         16 MB—which means that the cost of an SD or MMC card should
     should start saving!                                              be added to the price tag.
     Company Micro-Star International                                  Company Kodak India Pvt Ltd
     Price Rs 36,000                                                   Price Rs 15,999
     Phone 011-51758808                                                Phone 1600-224949
     E-mail info@msi-india.com                                         Web site www.kodakindia.com
     Web site www.msi-india.com                                        Rating
     Rating                                                                     1      2         3       4       5
              1        2       3        4   5




     Logitech G7 Laser Cordless Mouse

     For When You Want To Win                                                two days, which consisted of eight hours of daily use,

     T   he G7 mouse, which is the top-of-the-
         line mouse from Logitech right now, is a
     remarkable product. It is arguably the only
                                                                               of which three were specifically for gaming at 800
                                                                                dpi. There is a five-level battery indicator which lets
                                                                                you know when the ammo, umm, the battery, needs
     gaming mouse with features that make                                     to be reloaded.
     ordinary mice look like relics.                                                     The only patently bad thing about this
         The G7 features a super-high resolution 2000                                    mouse is that the middle mouse button,
     dpi laser engine that processes an                                                       which also has side-scrolling, is
     astounding 6.4 megapixels per second.                                                      particularly hard to press and can
     To add to precision, it features a full-                                                  cause fatigue. The workaround for this
     speed, bi-directional sampling rate of                                                  is to use the Setpoint software from
     500 reports per second.                                                            Logitech to program the thumb button as
         A 2.4 GHz RF USB dongle connects                                                 the middle button and get used to it.
     the mouse to the PC, and it can plug into                                              Another weakness is that it is aimed at
     either a USB port or a battery charging                                                 right-handed people: left-handed people
     station that in turn connects to the PC’s USB                                            will have a hard time getting
     port. The instant access to the three                                                    comfortable with it.
     sensitivity levels of 400, 800 and 2000 dpi while                                            Even with these weaknesses, the G7
     gaming allows easy shifting between pixel-precise                                       is a formidable weapon for gamers, who
     targeting and fast-twitch manoeuvres. The cool thing is                               will probably not mind the price tag of
     that all this is done without any need to install drivers!                        Rs 6,495. After all, the mouse, like we said,
     The polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) gaming feet facilitate            can make all the difference in a deathmatch!
     smooth gliding, which add to the ergonomics.
         The sleep mode in this mouse has been deliberately               Company Logitech Electronic India Pvt Ltd
     disabled to avoid even a split-second delay between the              Price Rs 6,495
     mouse switching On from the Off state, which can make a              Phone 022-26571160
     difference between fragging and getting fragged. This                E-mail kavita_nath@ap.logitech.com
     obviously means that the batteries drain quickly, and here           Web site www.logitech.com
     is where the bundled twin Lithium-ion battery packs                  Rating
     come in handy. We found that the batteries drained in                          1       2       3        4        5


94   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                 Digital Tools l New and Notable
                                                                   Apple iPod nano
Samsung SGH-E530
                                                                  Thinner Than Thin!
I n keeping with its lifestyle image, Samsung
  has introduced the SGH-E530, a clamshell
GSM phone targeted primarily at women.
Sporting lavender pink shades and an
                                                                  H     ere comes another iPod—the iPod
                                                                        nano. It uses Flash memory, is
                                                                  available in 2 and 4 GB versions, and
extremely compact, elegant oval design, the                       comes in black as well as white.
phone will fit perfectly even in skin-tight                       Measuring 3.5 x 1.6 x 0.27 inches (yes,
jean pockets. It weighs just 85 grams and                         it’s a quarter of an inch thick!) and
measures 86 x 43 x 26 mm, so it can also                          weighing 42 grams, the nano is
be strung around your neck.                                       something like a credit card. Pictures
    The internal LCD is 262K, while the                           just do not do it justice—you have to
external OLED screen is 65K. Other key                            hold it to believe it!
features include an integrated 1-                                      Features include a 1.5-inch
megapixel camera with flash and 4X                                backlit colour 176 x 132 LCD, touch-
digital zoom, an MP3 player, 64-                                  sensitive click wheel, and support
polyphonic ringtones, 1-hour video                                for a variety of audio formats. It
recording, and a phonebook capacity                               also supports photos, but no video,
of 1,000 contacts. Connectivity options                           FM or voice recording.
include GPRS and Bluetooth. The internal 90 MB memory is               The interface is typical iPod—extremely intuitive.
shared between applications and, sadly, there is no option to     As with the other iPods, the audio is excellent. The bundled
expand this. Another feature lacking is FM radio.                 ear buds produce crystal-clear music with good bass and
    Other aspects that will appeal to women are calculators       almost no distortion at high volumes.
for biorhythm and height/weight ratio, a calorie counter, a            The colour screen is brilliant for menus, but too small for
pink scheduler, and shopping list functions.                      viewing photos. The battery is great—it lasted us about 12.5
    The screen is extremely crisp and vibrant. Voice clarity is   hours of continuous playback at full volume.
clear, but network reception needs improvement. Images                 Overall, there is really no need to upgrade to the nano if
captured in good light turn out pretty decent. Overall, the       you already have a Mini, but it’s a great buy otherwise.
E530 will surely appeal to the fashion-conscious.
                                                                  Company Apple Computer International
Company Samsung India Electronics Pvt Ltd
                                                                  Price Rs 15,200 (2GB), Rs 18,200 (4GB)
Price Rs 15,299
                                                                  Phone 1600-4254683
Phone 011-51511234
                                                                  E-mail indiainfo@asia.apple.com
E-mail vikas.tagra@samsung.com
                                                                  Web site www.apple.com
Web site www.samsung.com/in
                                                                  Rating
Rating                                                                      1        2         3       4       5
         1       2        3        4        5

Adobe InDesign CS2
A Fabulous Package!                                                                have to be the Ink Manager. By specifying

O     ne of the biggest advantages with
      using this package is how well it
integrates with Photoshop and
                                                                                  the maximum percentage of ink your
                                                                                  printing paper can absorb, you can scan
                                                                                  your entire layout to see which areas will
Illustrator, which, for all practical                                             have excess ink, thus preventing the
purposes, are the de facto tools of                                               glossiness it causes. Control freaks have
graphic designers today. PSD files can be                                         never had it better.
directly imported into page layouts, and                                              The package comes with a video
although Quark Xpress 6.5 has the same                                            workshop CD that quickly takes you
feature, InDesign seems to do this better.                                                        through the steps of creating
Its toolbar closely resembles Adobe                                                                a document and using the
Illustrator’s, so veterans of these programs                                                         salient features.
should feel right at home from the word go.                                                               Before you grab a
     InDesign’s flexibility can be experienced                                                         copy, however, make sure
by the way you can create your own keyboard                                                              you have a powerful PC,
shortcuts to quickly access commonly used                                                                 because the system
tasks. As an added bonus, users switching from                                                             requirements on the
Quark can opt to use the latter’s shortcuts in                                                            box are a blatant lie.
InDesign, greatly easing their transition time.                                                  To avoid pulling your hair out
     Other notable features include a full-fledged                                       in frustration while you wait for the
implementation of layers, including letting you set the                       program to do its thing, make sure you have a
transparency of each layer to give you a whole new degree of      CPU upwards of 2 GHz, and at least 512 MB of RAM. Not to
control over your layouts. The ability to add effects such as     mention, bucketloads of money for the program itself!
drop shadows and feathers straight from within the program
further adds to the feeling of completeness.                      Company Adobe Systems
     Talking about depth of user control over the page layout     Price $699 (Rs 32,000)
process leads us to the Separations tool, which lets you see      Phone 0120-2444711
the CMYK components of your page without having to                E-mail sheraz@adobe.com
undergo the pain of creating a PDF file and viewing the           Web site www.adobe.com
output separately. The icing on the cake, though, would           Rating
                                                                           1        2     3          4     5

                                                                                                                   DECEMBER 2005 DIGIT   95
                                                           install it using Add/Remove Programs >
                                                           Install/Uninstall tab”. How do I restore my
                                                           Windows disk defragmenter?
                                                                                                 R Vivek, Assam

                                                                This problem is caused because O&O
                                                                Defragmenter set itself as the default
                                                           Windows defragmentation tool when it was
                                                           installed. After it was uninstalled, the default
                                                           disk defragmenter was not re-instated. To
                                                           correct this problem, open the Registry Editor
                                                           and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\
                           Your Questions, Our Answers     SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVers
                                                           ion\Explorer\MyComputer\DefragPath”. In
                                                           the right pane, double-click the string
     Mandrake Black Magic                                  ‘Default’ and set its ‘Value Data’ to
          My system has 768 MB of RAM, a Hitachi           “%systemroot%\system32\dfrg.msc %c:”. The
          40 GB SATA hard disk and a Samsung DVD           Windows defragmenter should now be restored
     drive. I tried to install Mandrake Linux 10.1 which   as the default disk defragmenter tool.
     came on the Digit February 2005 DVD. After boot-
     ing from the Installation CD 1, I get a message:
     “Detecting USB Devices.” After this, an error pops
                                                           Mad Monitors
     up—“No CD-ROM device found.” When I click ‘OK’,           I bought a new PC with a Samsung SyncMaster
     a notice comes up—“Please insert the Additional           591s 15-inch monitor. My problem with the
     Drivers Floppy.” I don’t have any such floppy.        monitor is, it starts flickering in no time; some-
     However, all the devices work fine in Windows XP.     times it works fine, but sometimes it starts to
                   Sandeep Rohtak, via e-mail                        flicker at random. I tried changing the
                                                                     resolution, but it doesn’t work. My PC is
         The most probable cause of your                             just two months old.
         problem is that your installation                                               Imtiaz Khan, via e-mail
     CD has not been burnt properly. Burn
     the CD again and this time, make                                      First check if you have loaded
     sure the written data is verified.                                    the latest drivers for your display
                                                                      adapter as well as for your monitor. If
                                                                      the problem you’re experiencing is
     Age Of Problems                                                  limited to Windows, then it’s likely
          I am running Windows XP. I tried                            that your monitor’s refresh rate is
          to install Age of Empires 3 from a                          not optimal. You can set this using
     CD, but the installation stopped                                 ‘Display Properties’ in the Control
     midway and I had to restart. Now                                 Panel. Go to the ‘Settings’ tab and
     whenever I start my computer, the                                click ‘Advanced’. Now click ‘Monitor’,
     Windows installer starts up and tries to                         set the refresh rate at anything above
     install Age of Empires 3, and asks for                           70 Hz, and click ‘Apply’.
     CD 1. Why does this happen?                                          If the selected refresh rate is not
                             Ashmit, via e-mail                       supported by your monitor, wait for
                                                                      15 seconds, after which your earlie
          The program launches itself when                 refresh rate will be restored. Then choose
          Windows boots because it’s been placed in        another refresh rate to see if it is supported. This
     the Windows startup. The reason could be a            way, set the highest refresh rate supported by
     corrupt installation CD, and this problem can         your monitor for the resolution you’re using,
     be easily solved once you install the game again      and the flickering should go away.
     from the original CD (assuming you made one               In addition to this, degauss the monitor
     legal copy). If the original CD is damaged, you       using the controls on the monitor, and move
     can probably get it replaced.                         any items that have a magnetic field (such as
         If you just want to get rid of the program        speakers) some distance away.
     being loaded at startup, run “msconfig”. Go to            If the flickering persists and if it is not
     the ‘Startup’ tab and look for entries that           limited to Windows, then the problem is most
     pertain to the Age of Empires 3 setup, and            probably that the monitor is faulty and needs
     uncheck those entries. The problem should not         to be replaced.
     occur the next time you boot up.
                                                           Hibernating Mouse
     F-r-a-g-m-e-n-t-e-d                                        I have Windows XP installed. Whenever I try
         I was using Windows XP SP2 with O&O                    the hibernate or standby feature and then
         Defragmenter 4.0 Server Edition. Now that I       restart my computer, my mouse doesn’t work.
     have uninstalled it, I am not able to use the                               Aman Jain, Rourkela, via e-mail
     Windows defragmenter. When I press “Defragment
     now” after right-clicking my hard disk icon, I get         Your mouse with its current drivers does-
     the error: “There is no defragmenter. Please               n’t support the power management

96   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
features of Windows XP. The solution to your                            order to play the videos you created, you need
problem is to download and install the latest                           to install Windows Media Player 10, which
drivers for your mouse, and if the drivers                              includes Windows Media Codec 10.
support power management, your mouse
should work after hibernation or standby.
    Please send us the full configuration details
                                                                        Access Gone Awry
of your system when writing in to us so we can                               I was working on Microsoft Access when there
be of more help.                                                             was a sudden power failure, and all my data
                                                                        got deleted or corrupted. Is there a way to restore
                                                                        data from corrupted Access files?
Camera Prefers 98                                                                                     Sajan Mishra, via e-mail
     I am using an icam Robo - 351 Web cam. I have
     Windows 98 SE and Windows XP (dual-boot-                                There are several utilities that attempt to
ing). In Windows 98 SE, the cam works fine, but in                           recover corrupt MS Access files. One such
XP, when the cam is started, the video stops within                     utility is AccessFIX from Cimaware Software,
10 seconds. Then I get an error message: “Error                         which can restore damaged database files and
80070450: cannot preview graph.” I tried re-                            rebuild table data even if the files are password-
installing the driver from the Web site, but the                        protected. You can download a free demo from
problem persists. I also happen to have a Pinnacle                      www.cimaware.com.
TV-Tuner card.
                                  C S Laxmi, via e-mail
                                                                        Sticky Windows
     First, install the latest version of DirectX                            I’ve got keyboard problems. When I press [D],
     for your version of Windows. You can get                                all open windows get minimised. When I press
this from the Microsoft Web site or from one of                         [M], the active window is minimised. When [U] is
the Digit DVDs. You will also need to install the                       pressed, the utility manager opens. On pressing [L],
latest drivers for your TV-Tuner card                                               my computer gets locked. I have these
from www.pinnaclesys.com.                                                           problems even when several applica-
                                                                                    tions are open. I even formatted my
                                                                                    hard drive and re-installed Windows,
Swap OSes                                                                           but I’m still facing this problem!
     I have installed Windows XP                                                                   Bhabatitdev Das, via e-mail
     Professional on both my hard
disks. Can I reverse the order in which                                                  The only possible cause of your
the OS choice is displayed in the OS                                                     problem is that the Window key
option menu?                                                                        of your keyboard is stuck. This
                    Hemant Sahi, via e-mail                                         happens because of dust accumulat-
                                                                                    ing in the keyboard, and the
     All you need to do is edit the                                                 keyboard getting dirty in general. Try
     boot.ini file, which resides in                                                to release the key, and if possible,
the root of your system drive. Enter                                                clean and service your keyboard
“%systemdrive%/boot.ini” into the                                                   because this problem may occur with
Run dialog box. Boot.ini will open in                                               the other keys as well.
Notepad. The file is divided into two
sections—“Boot       loader”      and
“Operating Systems”. The two OS options for
                                                                                    LAN Woes
your PC will be mentioned under “Operating                                   I have a Pentium IV on an Intel 915 mother-
Systems”, in two lines. You can edit this and                                board with onboard LAN (Intel Pro VE
reverse the order of how the OSes are                                   10/100), and I’m using Windows XP SP2. The driv-
displayed. In order to change the default OS,                           ers for the LAN were successfully installed from
change the text in the line next to “default=”                          the motherboard’s driver CD, but XP always
to that which matches the OS into which you                             shows that the network cable is unplugged.
wish to boot first.                                                                                    Rajiv Chopra, via e-mail

                                                                                                         This can happen
Codec Issues                                                                                             when there is a link
     I used Windows MovieMaker 2 to create some                                                     speed mismatch between
     movie files. When I copied the files to a Compaq                                               that set for the network
Presario laptop, the files I’d created played on the                                                adapter and that avail-
laptop as audio files instead of as videos. All I could                                             able on the network. If
view were some visualisations. They’d worked                                                        you do not know what
perfectly on my computer. The Compaq laptop had                                                     the speed of your local
Windows Media Player 9 installed on it.                                                             area network is, you can
                        Swathy Sudarsanan, via e-mail                                               try setting various speeds
                                                                                                    for your network adapter.
    Windows MovieMaker 2 uses Windows                                                               To do this, open ‘Network
    Media Codec 10. The Compaq laptop which                                                         Connections’ from the
had WMP 9 installed could not play your files                                                        Control Panel. Right-
because these codecs were not installed. In               Set the link speed of the network adapter click on the network

                                                                                                         DIGIT DECEMBER 2005      97
      Use Gimp 2 For Windows

      The Gimp is advanced image software for Unix/Linux. Here’s how to use it on Windows
                                                   Installation’ under ‘Select Components’,
      Anup Nair                                    and do not associate any file type with
                                                   The Gimp. Both the above-mentioned


      M
              ost of those who work on a Win-      choices are the default.
              dows-based machine use Adobe              After the installation is done, Gimp
              Photoshop as their primary           will start a customisation process by
      photo editing software, while others are     which it will create a temporary folder
      satisfied with simple editing software       for its files and a swap space—just follow
      such as IrfanView. Those who use             the instructions and you are done with
      Unix/Linux-based OSes use ‘The Gimp’—        setting up The Gimp 2.                        The folder browser of Gimp is unlike Photoshop
      GNU Image Manipulation Program. This
      software on a Windows machine can                     Familiarising Yourself               ting such as brush size, opacity, colour
      mean the power of Photoshop for free!                 With The Gimp                        etc. if the paintbrush is selected. The
          The Gimp is free, so anyone can                   A regular Photoshop user will        tools can be categorised into ‘Selection
      download, install and use it. The source     get accustomed to The Gimp in no                               tools’, ‘Sizing tools’,
      code is also available for those keen on     time. The Gimp starts by loading two                           ‘Content tools’ and
      recompiling the software. Let’s not dig      floating windows—one is the main ‘The                          ‘Other tools’.
      into the intricacies of open source and      Gimp’ window and the other for ‘Layer,                             The ‘Hand-drawn’
      recompilation, and concentrate on get-       Channels…’                                                     selection tool is sim-
      ting The Gimp to work on a Windows               Closing the main ‘The Gimp’                                ilar to Photoshop’s
      machine!                                     window will close all other associated                         Lasso tool. Choose this
          This workshop will also introduce        windows, but you can close the ‘Layers,                        tool from the Gimp
      you to the Gimp’s *nix interface. We         Channels…’ window without affecting                            tool    panel      and,
      can’t cover the entire process of editing    any other Gimp windows. Do [Ctrl] + [N]                        keeping the left mouse
      an image, but we’re sure you’ll be able to   to open a new file, or [Ctrl] + [O] to open                    button pressed, draw a
      do it yourself once you’ve understood        an existing file. The workspace with a                         selection      on   the
      the purpose of the tools in The Gimp.        new file or a chosen one opens in a sep-                       working image. The
                                                   arate window; as all these windows are                         selection is marked as
               Why Do I Need GTK+ When             detached from each other, they appear                          a dotted border.
               Installing The Gimp?                to be floating on your desktop.                                    Many other tools
                Every operating system has its         The folder browser of The Gimp is                          such as ‘Fill with
      own native graphic library. For              new to Windows users, but it’s not com-                        paint/pattern’ (iden-
      example, Windows is based on the             plicated. The left section shows the root                      tical to Photoshop’s
      Win32 API, Linux’s KDE is based on the       (the parent folder); the central section       The Gimp tool   Paint Bucket tool) can
      Qt graphic library, and Gnome is based       displays all the files and folders present     options         be used in conjunc-
      on Gtk+. It therefore becomes difficult      under a selected root partition/folder;                        tion to alter the
      to implement a software that will have       and the right section shows a preview of      selected area.
      the same user interface on different         an image if any is selected.                      Using ‘Fill with paint/pattern’ and
      operating systems.                                                                         opting for pattern fill from the ‘Tool
          Keeping this in mind, many software                                                    Options’ panel, you can change the
      such as Gaim, Dia, OpenVPN-Admin, etc.                                                     black background to a pinstripe pat-
      are compiled to run with Gimp Tool Kit                                                     tern. Almost all the tools work similar
      (GTK+), which is a multi-platform tool kit                                                 to those of Photoshop, making a migra-
      for creating a graphical user interface.                                                   tion to this free and powerful utility
      GTK+ creates a runtime environment for                                                     a cakewalk.
      such software so that they can run on
      Linux and Windows-based OSes with                                                                    Saving an image
      negligible changes to its compilation.                                                              To save an image, use File > Save
          It is important to check which ver-                                                             in the image window, and then
      sion of GTK is ideal for the software you                                                  choose ‘Save as’ or ‘Save’. If the image is
      want to install. You can download both       The Gimp windows are detached so they         being saved for the first time, select a
      GTK and The Gimp for Windows from            appear to be floating on desktop              destination folder to save your work to.
      http://gimp-win.sourceforge.net/                                                           By default it saves in the current loca-
      stable.html.                                                                               tion; notice the ‘Browse for other loca-
          After downloading the two executa-                A Demonstration                      tion’ and ‘Select file type’ options,
      bles, install GTK first and then proceed              Let’s move on to the tools sec-      expand boths options and experiment.
      with the installation of The Gimp. The                tion. ‘The Gimp’ window con-             Now that you have a brief idea
      installation wizard will guide you           tains the main ‘Gimp tool’ panel and the      about ‘The Gimp’ for Windows, let
      through a simple installation procedure,     ‘Tool options’ panel. The ‘Tool options’      loose your creative talents to explore
      but make sure you’ve selected ‘Full          panel allows a user to change a tool’s set-   this free software!


98   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
     My Computer Is Deaf!                                                                                              even be muted.
                                                                                                                       Before you use any
          While recording a program on a TV-Tuner card through                                                         third-party PVR
     cable on my PC, it only records video and not audio.                                                              software, ensure
     However, while watching TV, both video and audio work                                                             this is not the case.
            properly. My PC configuration is as follows: Windows                                                       To find out if this is
            XP with SP2, P IV 3.2 GHz, 1GB of RAM, a Samsung                                                           the problem,
    tion    160 GB hard disk and an Asus TV FM Tuner card. I use                                                       double-click on the
Questhe     InterVideo WinDVR to capture.                                                                              volume icon in the
 of nth
 Mo                                          Dipak Pimple, Via e-mail                                                  system tray. See if
                                                                                                                       the Line-In is low or
                   While using video capture software such as                                                          muted. Now click
     InterVideo WinDVR, you need to specify the audio source                                                           Options >
     if it is not automatically detected. To do so, open                                                               Properties >
     InterVideo WinDVR, right-click anywhere in the video                                                              Recording and
     window and click 'Setup'. Navigate to the 'Record' tab.                                                           click OK. Check the
     Here, you will be able to select the audio source. Select             box next to Line-In, and raise the volume to a comfortable
     'Line-In' as the audio source.                                        level. Close it and launch the PVR program, and under
          The second thing to check is whether the Line-In                 Options, check if Line-In is selected as the audio source. Also
     volume of your sound card might be set to zero, or it might           check its volume level there, if it exists.


    adapter and click ‘Properties’. Now                                                                   Download the Windows 2000/XP
    click ‘Configure’. In the window that                                                                 version of Multimounter from
    opens, click ‘Advanced’. Against ‘Link                                                           ftp://ftp9.nero.com/attach/
    Speed/Duplex Mode’, select different                                                             Multimounter_2k_xp.zip.          Run
    speeds one by one to see which works.                                                            Multimounter, and open the proper-
    Set the highest speed at which the                                                               ties of your CD drive. Select the
    network adapter works.                                                                           ‘Volumes’ tab. Each burn session will
                                                                                                     show up as a separate volume, with a
                                                                                                     checkmark indicating the volume
    BIOS Gone Boom                                                                                   presently active and accessible.
         I got the latest BIOS for my mother-                                                            Select the volume or session you
         board—an Asus P4S800-MX/s—from                                                              want to access, and click ‘Apply’.
    the Asus Web site, and used the Asus EZ                                                          You may need to refresh your
    Flash utility to flash it. Everything during                                                     Explorer window before the change
    the flashing process went well, and the                                                          shows up. You’ll only be able to
    computer said it was successful. But                                                             access one session at a time, not all
    when I tried to reboot, I was unable to,                                                         the files at once.
    and I had to use my support CD to try and
    recover my BIOS.
        After erasing the BIOS while flashing it, it
                                                                                                     Password Prompts
    suddenly said there was a “data compare failure”,                                         I have Windows XP Pro installed. Every time
    and it stopped. I tried even older BIOS versions, but                                    I log into Windows, I get a username and
    the same problem occurs. I used the Aflash utility,                                  password prompt even though I haven’t set a
    but nothing seems to work. Do I actually have to get                                 password. As a result, I need to press [Enter]
    a new motherboard? The error message that shows                                      every time I boot into Windows. Is there a way to
    up on my screen is “BIOS ROM CHECKSUM ERROR.”                                        eliminate the username and password prompt?
                                 Vinay Krishna, via e-mail                                                             Ashish Rana, via e-mail

        Though this is a rare case, chances are your                                          You will need to edit the Windows
        BIOS chip has developed a fault, and it                                               Registry. Proceed only if you know what
    needs to be replaced. If your motherboard is                                         you are doing, because one wrong step could
    under warranty, you may avail of this, or else               Get Help Now!           make Windows unbootable.
    you can try to get the BIOS rewritten by a BIOS                                          In the Registry editor, navigate to
    writer. Rest assured, there is no need to buy a          E-mail us about your        “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft
                                                             computing problems
    new motherboard!                                         along with your contact
                                                                                         \WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\WinLogon”. In
                                                             details and complete        the right pane, double-click on the string
                                                                                         “DefaultUserName” and change the Value
    Sessions, Volumes, Tracks                                system configuration to
                                                                                         data to your username. (If the string is not
                                                             sos@jasubhai.com ,
         My system is running Windows XP Pro (SP2). I        and we might answer         present, create it.) Similarly, change the
         want to know how I can access different             them here! Since we get     strings “DefaultPassword” and “Default
    volumes/tracks on a CD—that is, after creating a         more mails per day than     DomainName” to your password and domain
    multisession CD, how can I access a previous             we can handle, it may       name respectively. Finally, delete the string
    session on the disk? I know the method in                take some time for your     “AutoLogonCount”.
                                                             query to be answered.
    Windows 98, but that method doesn’t work                 Rest assured, we are
                                                                                             The next time you start Windows, you
    with XP.                                                 listening!                  will not be asked to enter a username
                                Nishank Gupta, via e-mail                                and password.

                                                                                                                          DIGIT DECEMBER 2005    99
      Digital Tools l Agent 001
                                                           Agent 001


      The Display Dilemma
      When it comes to monitors, CRT or LCD is the biggest decision, but there are tonnes of brands
      and models out there too. So what did Agent 001 settle for?



      T
             here are two things on my office desk I      Samsung and LG                     LG has an expansive line of monitors. The
             absolutely adore—my Eizo monitor and                                        15-inch 500G CRT retails at Rs 4,300, whereas
             my Creative 4.1 speakers. Both these have
                                                          are the most                   the 17-inch 700E retails at Rs 5,200. (If you’re
      a special place in my heart because of their        popular brands,                looking for a 19-inch LG model—well, they’re
      antique value and the performance they deliver      followed by                    not available any more.) The full-flat CRT
      despite their age.                                  Philips and Acer.              models cost nearly Rs 500 to 1,000 more. LG has
          That monitor has been on that desk for          ViewSonic has                  some value LCD monitors too—their 15-inch
      nearly 10 years now, and is probably the only 17-                                  L1515s is at Rs 10,500, and their 17-inch L1720B
      incher I’ve come across that scales up to 1600 x
                                                          made an                        retails for Rs 14,750. LG doesn’t have any
      1200 @ 60Hz. Unfortunately, age is catching up      appearance.                    models in the 19-inch LCD category, either.
      with the Eizo, and much as I hate it, I have to     Sonys are                          ViewSonic has both CRT and TFT monitors
      switch to a newer monitor before the display        difficult to find;             ranging from the 15-inchers to 19-inchers, and as
      artefacts render me visually challenged.            so are NECs.                   expected, they looked splendid. The 15-inch E50
          You’ve got to put a lot of thought and                                         CRT retails for Rs 4,400, and the 17-inch E70 goes
      research into buying a monitor, because once
                                                          BenQ is coming                 for Rs 5,600. The 19-inch E90, too, looks stunning.
      bought, it tends to stick around on your desk       up with some                   Do look out for sub-models in the 19-inch series—
      for a really long time—and also because there       good models                    they’re priced according to features; for example,
      are so many choices. And with just Rs 15,000 in                                    the base model retails at Rs 12,000, and the flat-
      my pocket, which was alotted by the accounts                                       screen model goes up to Rs 16,000.
      department, I had to make an informed choice.                                          In the LCD panels, you can get a 15-inch LCD
          I was tired of using a 17-inch monitor, so my                                  for as little as Rs 10,250. A 17-inch retails at Rs
      initial thought was of going in for a 19-inch                                      14,500, and a 19-inch will set you back by Rs
      CRT, since I was sure of finding one within my                                     21,500. (Availability of ViewSonic monitors,
      budget. However, with LCD prices falling, I was                                    however, can be a problem in smaller cities.)
      also somewhat sure of getting a nice LCD at                                            Philips and Acer compete in the value
      around the same price…                                                             segment, and offer great value if you are on a
          Samsung and LG over                                                            shoestring budget. The 15-inch CRT from
      the years have grown to                                                            Philips—the 105s—and the Acer AC511 retail at
      be the most popular                                                                Rs 4,500 and Rs 4,299 respectively. Similarly, the
      brands, followed by                                                                 17-inch CRTs, the Philips 107s and the Acer
      Philips and Acer.                                                                        AC711, come for Rs 5,200 and Rs 5,299
      After a period of                                                                            respectively. 19-inch CRTs will set you
      dormancy,       View-                                                                          back by Rs 11,000 and Rs 12,999 for
      Sonic has again                                                                                 the Philips 109E and Acer AC915
      made an appearance.                                                                              respectively.
      Sony monitors are diffi-                                                                              Acer’s 15-inch AL1500 LCD
      cult to find; so are NECs.                                                                         comes at a palatable Rs 10,500; so
      BenQ is coming up with                                                                              does Philips’ 150s. When it comes
      some good models in its TFT                                                                         to 17-inch, Philips beats Acer on
      line-up.                                                                                            the pricing front by a small
          No matter what shop you                                                                        margin—the 170s from Philips
      enter, you’re sure to be                                                                          retails for Rs 14,500, Rs 500 less
      presented with a Samsung or an                                                                   than Acer’s AL1900.
      LG when you ask for a monitor. Samsung                                                               Keeping in mind my limited
      seems to be the standard with almost all                                                        desk space, I opted for a 17-inch
      vendors; their CRT range starts from Rs 4,500                                                  LCD. This offers nearly the same view-
      for the 15-inch model, and goes up to Rs 25,000                                               ing area as a 19-inch CRT, but I won’t
      for the 21-inchers, the most popular ones being                                             be able to run it at very high resolu-
      the 17-inch SyncMaster 793 S/DF that retails for                                           tions. I wasn’t able to wangle a deal,
      Rs 5,500/6,500 (DF models offers the full-flat                                            though, and settled for the list price of
      tube). The 19-inch SyncMaster 997DF was Rs                                              the Philips 170s.
      14,500, and I was tempted for the first time.
          LCDs from Samsung still sell at a premium,
      and a 15-inch LCD will set you back by Rs                                           Want more of Agent 001? Turn over to read his
      18,500; similarly, a 17-inch Samsung LCD retails                                    answers to your buying questions
      for Rs 26,000.                                        Illustration Pradip Ingale



100   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                         Ask Agent 001                            Digital Tools l Agent 001
                                                                                     MP3 Player: Flash Or HDD?
Pondering Printers                                                                        I want to buy a MP3 player with a minimum capac-
     I’m planning to buy a laser or economic inkjet       As far as                       ity of 1 to 2 GB from a reputed brand. My budget
     printer. Can you suggest one? The printer should     ergonomics is              is a modest Rs 10,000. Also, please give me some
have a card reader and networking capabilities.           concerned,                 general information on MP3 players.
                                             K Mugilan                                                                               Shantanu Mishra
                                                          mechanical
        First ascertain the role of the printer. Do       keyboards cannot                   There are two types of MP3 players avail-
        you need a high-volume printer or a casual        be said to have                    able—Flash-based and hard drive-based.
printing solution? Laser printers will keep running       any advantage              Flash-based players are compact and have a maxi-
costs down, but they’re devoid of features such as        over membrane              mum capacity of around 5 GB. Hard drive-based
card readers and LCD screens. You will, however,                                     MP3 players offer larger capacities, but are gener-
find network capabilities on laser printers.              keyboards                  ally more expensive and won’t fit your budget.
    A mono laser printer will cost you anywhere                                          The iRiver iFP-799 is a 1 GB Flash MP3 player
between Rs 10,000 and 15,000 depending on the                                        that retails for around Rs. 11,000. Samsung’s YP-C1
features it offers. Look for the Canon LBP-2900 or                                   will set you back by Rs 7,900 for 1 GB.
Lexmark E230. A colour laser will set you back by                                        Apple has officially phased out the iPod mini,
at least Rs 40K; we suggest the Samsung CLP-500.                                     but these are still available in the market. If you’re
    Card readers allow you to print photographs                                      lucky enough, you might get one for a good price.
without the need for a PC; however, they are avail-
able only on photo printers, which in my opinion                                     Too Much Typing
won’t suit high-volume printing needs. If you do                                                        I’ve been experiencing a lot of pain
want one, we’d suggest the Lexmark                                                                      in my wrists, and I think it’s because
P915 or the Epson R310.                                                                            of the eight hours of typing I do daily. I’m
                                                                                                   using a Logitech membrane keyboard; I
The Cheapest Possible PC?                                                                          want to know what keyboard suits my
    I need a PC just to run tutorial soft-                                                         work best. Do mechanical keyboards have
    ware for an exam, and I want to                                                                an advantage over membrane keyboards
assemble the cheapest possible PC for this                                                         as far as ergonomics is concerned?
purpose. Configuration, please...                                                                                                         Toney Jacob
                             Sidharth Sen
                                                                                                       You should first mend your
         You might want to consider a                                                                  sitting position. Your arm—
         Celeron 2.53 GHz processor, a                                                         starting from your fingers to the
Foxconn 865M01-G-6LS motherboard,                                                              elbow—should rest on a flat table so
256 MB of DDR RAM, an 80 GB hard                                                               that the wrists are not strained. Have a
disk, a 15-inch monitor, a Sony CD-ROM                                                         look at the Towards Comfort article in
drive, a Logitech keyboard and mouse                                                           this issue for more on ergonomics.
combo and an ATX cabinet. This config-                                                             As far as ergonomics is concerned,
uration will cost you around Rs 19,000                                                         mechanical keyboards cannot be
while giving you decent performance.                                                           said to have any advantage over
    If you need the cheapest deal, I’d                                                         membrane keyboards.
suggest the Mercury PVCLE266M-L, which has a                                            Try out the ergonomic keyboards from
VIA C3 Samuel 2 CPU onboard. It supports DDR                                         Microsoft—they might just ease the wrist pain.
RAM and has on-board graphics, sound and even
LAN. I would like to remind you, though, that                                        In Quest Of The Latest Games
you’ll get very low performance from this system—                                          I want to buy gaming titles such as UT 2004,
so buy this only if you want to spend not a penny                                          Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay,
more than necessary. This motherboard-CPU                                            Swat 4, and more. Planet M stocks quite a few titles, but
bundle, along with the other components I’ve                                         not all. Where in Mumbai—apart from Planet M—can I
mentioned, will cost you about Rs 15,000.                                            find new gaming titles?
                                                                                                                                               Mandar

Have Money, Will Upgrade                                                                     You can purchase gaming titles from the
     I have a Celeron 1.7 GHz CPU with 128 MB of DDR                                         Crossword stores, which are spread
     RAM. I want to upgrade. Should I go for a DVD                                   across the suburbs. You could also try online
player and 256 MB of RAM, or for 2.1 or higher speak-                                stores such as fabmall.com, rediff.com, and
ers with 256 MB of RAM? I have to choose from one             Ask Away               indiatimes.com.
among these two options.                                  Want a tech product, but       Here are the names and contact information
                                                Rocky     don’t know how to go       of the big game distributors in India.
                                                          about buying it? E-mail
        Your PC just doesn’t have enough memory.          agent001@thinkdigit.com          Indian Game Distributors
        You should first go for the 256 MB memory         with your complete
upgrade—a single 256 MB DDR memory module                 contact details and get    Name                    Phone                           Web Site
will cost you about Rs 1,450. As for the option           your queries answered.     Milestone Interactive   022-28203319   www.milestoneinteractive.com
between a DVD drive and a 2.1 speaker set is              Please mention your PC’s   Sujata Softech          022-22846574   www.sujatasoftech.com
                                                          detailed configuration     Worldwide CD-ROMs       022-56973894   www.wwcdrom.com
concerned, it depends entirely on what you want!          to ensure consideration    Gayatri Impex           022-56973895   www.gamemasti.com
A good 2.1 speaker set from Creative or Artis would       for this section           E-Xpress                022-28870017   www.e-xpressindia.com
cost Rs 2,000, and a DVD drive would cost Rs 1,700.

                                                                                                                               DIGIT DECEMBER 2005         101
      Digital Tools l Net Gain


      Righttoinformation.gov.in
      Before you head to a Public Information Office to exercise your right, visit the homepage of the
      Act to gain a better perspective

                                                Notification’, and ‘List
      Renuka Rane                               of Public Information
                                                Offices’, among others.


      T
            he enactment of the Right to        Simply access each link
            Information (RTI) Act was a         and you’re bombarded
            turning point in the history of     with information.
      Indian public life. It came into force        The body of the
      on 12 October, 2005.                      page displays what
          RTI Act gives citizens the right      appears to be six
      to access information held by or          prominent speech bub-
      under the control of any public           bles that deal with RTI
      authority. This includes a right to       in detail—‘What does
      inspect public authority’s work,          RTI mean?’, ‘Who are
      documents, records, and take              the Officers and what
      notes, extracts or certified copies       are their obligations?’,
      of documents/records and certified        ‘What information is
      samples of the material, and also         available?’, ‘How to
      electronically stored information.        request for informa-
          Any citizen can request such          tion?’, ‘What are the
      information by making an applica-         i n f o r m a t i o n Righttoinformation.gov.in has comprehensive information on the RTI Act
      tion in writing or via electronic         Commissions?’,        and
      means in English or Hindi, or in the      ‘What is the role of the                                    The left side of the page is inter-
      official language of the area, and        Central/State Governments?’.                            esting—it has 10 or so links. These are
      paying the prescribed fees. The               As an example, if you click on                      ‘Preliminary’, ‘Public Authorities’,
      application has to be sent to the         the ‘Information Commissions’                           ‘Central Information Commission’,
      concerned Regional Head—the               link, it will take you to a page with                   ‘State Information Commission’,
      Public Information Officer of the         a list of FAQs. These range from                        ‘Powers And Functions’, ‘Protection
      region to which the information per-      the constitution of the Central                         of Actions’, ‘First Schedule’, ‘Second
      tains, and who shall dispose off the      Information Commission, their                           Schedule’,        ‘Circulars’,       ‘GOI
      request within 30 days of its receipt.    service conditions, functions and                       Dept/Offices’, ‘States of India’ and
                                                reporting procedure.                                    ‘Districts of India’. If you were to click
      Your Right To Information                                                                         on ‘States of India’, you will straight-
      Now, when you actually want to visit      Useful In Its Entirety                                  away be taken to the online directory
      the RTI Act’s Web site, understand-       All the above is just what the user                     of the GOI.
      ably, you can’t expect a jazzy site       would be looking for. You can also                          In the FAQ section are 30-odd
      loaded with graphics. The home            download the complete Act in HTML                       questions that deal with reporting
      page is choc-a-bloc with numerous         of PDF (English as well as Hindi).                      procedures, penalty provisions,
      links such as ‘Home’, ‘Appeal Rules’,     This certainly earns the GOI brownie                    jurisdiction of courts and so on.
      ‘Circulars’, ‘Feedback’, ‘Disclaimers’,   points—the site lives up to its name!
                                                                                                            On The Whole
                                                                                                            If we were to focus on the layout,
                                                                                                            and other aesthetic details, the less
                                                                                                            said the better. Seen in that context,
                                                                                                            this site seems a very amateurish
                                                                                                            attempt; even in terms of other
                                                                                                            nuggets of information scattered
                                                                                                            across the site.
                                                                                                                 But, we’re looking at the bigger
                                                                                                            picture here. Perhaps, streamlining
                                                                                                            all the facts and details would have
                                                                                                            made it easier on the users. Well,
                                                                                                            let’s not forget that the site has been
                                                                                                            recently launched and will improve.
                                                                                                                 But the fact is that despite this,
                                                                                                            the information you’ll find is com-
                                                                                                            prehensive and extremely useful to
                                                                                                            all citizens. This is what makes a
                                                                                                            visit to Righttoinformation.gov.in
                                                                                                            worth the while.
      Users also have the option of downloading the RTI Act in HTML format                                             renuka_rane@thinkdigit.com

102   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
      How Disk Defragmentation
      Works
                      One platter of a hard disk
                expanded here to show a sector,
                 the smallest unit of storage (in
                     red). Several sectors taken
              together (in yellow, orange, green
                   and blue) form a cluster, the
                 smallest unit addressed by the
                                      filesystem.




                                                            1                                           A 2D view of the cluster




                        1. When you freshly install your
                        OS, your files are arranged                                                     2. When you add a file (represented
                        nicely, starting at the beginning                                               by the green space above) the OS
                        of the drive. The blue and                                                      places it wherever it finds space.
                        orange areas are occupied. The                                                  The OS could have placed it
                        grey area is free space.                                                        contiguously, but it didn’t.


                                                                                                   2


                                                                Fragmentation

                                              3


                                                                    3. Over time, this is what your
                                                                    hard disk begins to look like,
                                                                    with files scattered all over the
                                                                    place, placed non-contiguously.




      Imaging Chaitanya Surpur
      Text Ram Mohan Rao




106      DIGIT OCTOBER 2005
                                                                  Digital Tools l Visual Explanation


                                                              1
        1. We have a blue file and an orange
        file. Both are fragmented. The first
        part of the orange file has data in it
        that points it to the next part, and so                          2. When you begin defragmenting the
        on. The OS can thus figure out how to                            drive, the defrag program calls the
        access the entire file.                                          filesystem API (Application Program
                                                                         Interface) to move the first part of the
                                                                         orange file to a different location. It
                                                                         makes a best effort to place it such that
                                                                         the orange file will eventually become
                                                                         contiguous.


                                                                  2




                 3

                                                  Defragmentation



3. The OS knows which part of the
orange file belongs where, as mentioned
in step 1. Eventually, all of the orange
file is accessed and placed contiguously.
The same happens with the blue file.
There needs to be enough free space for
this to happen successfully.




                                                                               The earlier example showed what
                                                                               happens with, say, Windows
                                                                               defragmenter. Better defragmenters
                                                                               such as PerfectDisk would arrange
                                                                               the orange and blue files this way,
                                                                               beginning at the start of the drive—so
                                                                               they can be accessed faster.
           A Complete lowdown on 22 categories to help you make that crucial buying decision

INDEX                                        Laser MFDs . . . . . . . . . . . . .130     RAM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .146
                                             LCD Monitors . . . . . . . . . . . .132     Speakers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .148
Accounting software . . . . . .118           Motherboards . . . . . . . . . . .134       TV Tuners . . . . . . . . . . . . . .150
Digital Camera . . . . . . . . . .120        MP3 Players . . . . . . . . . . . .136      UPS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .152
Optical Disc Drives . . . . . . .122         Multifunctional Copiers . . . .138          Graphics Cards . . . . . . . . . .154
Flash Drive . . . . . . . . . . . . .124     OCR Software . . . . . . . . . . .140       Inkjet Printers . . . . . . . . . . .156
Hard Disks . . . . . . . . . . . . . .126    Optical Media . . . . . . . . . . .142      Laptop Accessories . . . . . . .158
Laptops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .128   Projectors . . . . . . . . . . . . . .144   Laser Printers . . . . . . . . . . .160


                                                                                                                         DIGIT DECEMBER 2005   117
         Digital Tools l Buyer’s Guide                                                                                                       Imaging Shrikrishna Patkar




                                                   ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE
         E
              very entrepreneur has productiv-               and/or viewing financial data. Is such a          bly check for it yourself when you get
              ity in mind and using technology               feature available?                                the bill for the new software!
              to achieve it is definitely a not a            This can be very important, and will              Will the software run on my current
         bad idea—but if the choice and imple-               help you prevent unauthorised access to           hardware, or will I need an upgrade?
         mentation is not done wisely, the                   financial information of your company.            Enquire if any kind of additional hard-
         same idea can be detrimental to busi-               Access control can only be applied if the         ware or software is needed for the
         ness goals.                                         package supports it. A dealer and the             accounting software you want to buy.
             Use of accounting software to                   manufacturer’s support staff are the              This need can be upgrading the operat-
         enhance your business is one such                   right people to ask about this feature.
         implementation. There are many soft-                Can the new accounting software
         ware available in the market for this               import data from the existing software?
         purpose, but it is not necessary that a             While migrating to a new accounting
         particular package meets your needs.                software, you cannot afford to waste
         For example, a package could lack                   time copying reports and data manually
         expandability. Similarly, the most                  from your existing software. Hence,
         expensive package may not be the right              confirm with the dealer, and if possible,
         choice either. There are several ques-              verify with experts or the manufac-
         tions you need to ask the software                  turer’s support team about this feature.
         vendor before you decide on a software.             This can save you a lot of time.
                                                                 Ensure that the product you buy is
         Questions to ask the dealer                         ‘VAT ready’, as this will be a very impor-        ing system from Windows 98 to
         I want to employ access control to                  tant inclusion. VAT has been enforced in          Windows XP, or a hardware upgrade for
         prevent certain users from editing                  the Indian market, and you will proba-            better processing capability.

          Points To Ponder
      What are the features or factors of accounting       or exporting data/reports into Microsoft Excel     manufacturer, first cross-check the availability
      software that I should assess before making          and Adobe PDF formats would be the icing on        of professionals for it, or just be sure that
      the decision to purchase one?                        the cake. An Indian-style accounting software      the learning curve for the new package is not
      You are expected to have good idea of your           could make your accounting experience easier.      too steep.
      business accounting needs, based on which            I have a dotcom business. Are there any            Interface usability… how important
      you can analyse the capability, flexibility and      packages that have ‘Web store’                     should that be?
      expandability of a package. If you are selling a     integration?                                       If you are very dependent on the user interface
      product, it is important that your software be       Most packages support offline business struc-      and want everything at the click of a mouse,
      able to track inventory. If you are selling serv-    tures, and there are a few that facilitate inte-   you should check demos of the product before
      ices, the software should have a good client         gration for a dotcom business. This feature will   you buy it.
      tracking system.                                     help you keep track of your online business        Should cost be a criterion?
           Other than basic accounting required to         transactions and generate the necessary            As a businessman, this can be one of your
      monitor sales and balance sheets, the rest of        reports with absolute ease.                        main concerns. There may be a battalion of
      the package should include tax reporting,            Are there enough professionals                     cheap and perhaps free accounting software
      invoicing and pay roll needs. Similarly, the soft-   proficient in the software?                        available, but they may not support your
      ware should also have the feature of expand-         People involved in this kind of work are trained   needs. Compromising on this means compro-
      ing with the future needs, for instance, adapt-      to use the most popular software packages—         mising on your productivity. It is advisable that
      ing to VAT. Keeping this need in mind, some          those that are installed in most companies,        you spend the money that your needs demand.
      software manufacturers design their products         and tutorials for which are easily available at    Most feature-rich accounting software cost
      to include support for upgradation. Features         your nearest computer education centre. So, if     approximately the same, so you can decide
      such as supporting ASCII dot-matrix printers,        you are migrating to a package by another          based solely on your needs.


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                                                                          DIGITAL CAMERAS
                                                                                                        Usage Tips

         T
                he digital camera was developed           over the quality of the photograph,
                after the invention of the CCD            which you might sometimes need.                  Do not expect too much from digital
                (charge coupled device) which             What memory card formats does the             zoom; the photo quality deteriorates
         replaces replace film as the light sensor.       camera support?                               when you start using it.
         A CCD is much more sensitive to light            Try and avoid cameras that support               When using zoom, see if you can
         than film is, though it lacks the ability        proprietary memory card formats.              mount the camera on a tripod, because
         to accurately capture the entire range of        These usually tend to be expensive.           even mild shakes are amplified when
         the electromagnetic spectrum. Digital            They’re also usually hard to obtain.          taking a zoomed shot.
         cameras give you the convenience of              Prefer cameras that support popular
         clicking away without worrying about             formats such as SD, MMC, and CF
         film, and the ability to print directly to       (Compact Flash).
         a printer is sheer convenience.                  Does it support recording of video?
             It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the           Video recording capability is fairly
         sheer range of digicams available today,         common now. Check for this.
         but you need not be. What you really
         need to do is to thoroughly familiarise          Interesting Facts
         yourself with the details common to all          Prior to 1973, Texas Instruments had
         digicams, such as optical zoom,                  designed a filmless but analogue-based
         megapixel rating, and so on.                     electronic camera, but that, of course,
                                                          cannot be categorised as a digital camera.
         Questions to ask the dealer                          In 1973, Steven Sassoon developed the        Always remember to carry extra
         What is the maximum resolution                   first solid state digital camera. The         batteries with you while travelling.
         supported by the camera?                         camera weighed in at eight pounds and            While photographing with a long
         The higher the megapixel rating of the           had a sensor in the form of a digital         exposure time, use a tripod to steady
         camera, the higher the resolution the            cassette tape at 0.01 megapixels. CCDs        the camera.
         camera supports.                                 had only just appeared at that time, and         Turn off the flash when not required
         How much optical zoom is available?              their application in this field hadn’t been   to conserve battery power.
         Optical zoom is especially important             explored.                                        Remember that often, shooting at
         outdoors to be able to take close-ups of             Sassoon’s digital camera consisted of     the highest quality is not necessary,
         faraway subjects.                                an analogue-to-digital converter, a           and a lower-quality photo will look just
         Does the camera support manual mode?             movie camera lens, and CCD chips. 1981        as fine—and it will occupy less space.
         The ability to manually set the exposure         saw the launch of the first commercial        This, of course, translates to more
         and shutter speed means more control             digital camera.                               photographs before you need to do
                                                                                                        a transfer.
          Points To Ponder                                                                                 In many cases, you should do fine
                                                                                                        using the viewfinder instead of the LCD
      Should I consider a high-end camera?              How much memory should it have?                 screen for previewing. This will
      Select a high-end digital camera only if you      There should be at least 16 MB of memory to     conserve battery charge.
      are very serious about digital photography -      accommodate a decent number of photos. Of
      an amateur might never use some of the            course, this depends on the resolution at       The Future
      features of such cameras.                         which the photos are shot.                      Film is on its way out, and it has been
      Is the weight of the camera important?            What about connecting directly to a             predicted that by 2008, digital cameras
      If you travel a lot with your camera, you might   printer to print photos?                        will completely replace film cameras.
      want to get yourself a light-weight camera.       Look for a digital camera that supports stan-   CCD technology, which is currently
      On the other hand, a heavier camera is stead-     dards such as PictBridge—this standard allows   used in most consumer digital
      ier to hold and reduces the problem of            you to print photos directly to a compatible    cameras, is being challenged by CMOS
      camera shake.                                     photo printer without using a PC.               (complementary metal oxide semicon-
                                                                                                        ductor) technology.

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                                                                                             DVD-WRITERS
                                                                                                           Interesting Facts

         T
               he fastest growing segment in the         What accessories come bundled?
               storage industry today is, without        Many manufacturers bundle writing                 The analogue optical disk was developed
               a doubt, the DVD-Writer segment.          software with the drive. Some also                way back in 1958 by David Paul Gregg
         In fact, they’re the best thing to have         bundle data cables and bezels.                    and it was primarily meant to record
         happened to the storage industry after                                                            video. The Laserdisc standard for movies
         CD-Writers a few years ago.                     Usage Tips                                        was later developed from this standard
             DVD-Writers have raised the optical            Make sure that the PC is not over-             in 1978, and suddenly Laserdisc video
         backup capacity of desktop PCs to a mini-       clocked before you plan a CD/DVD burn-            players started appearing in the market.
         mum of 4.7 GB from the 700 MB of a CD.          ing session. Overclocking affects the
         Users can now create high-res digital           speed of IDE devices too, and this may
         video content using DVD-VR technology,          lead to the DVD not writing properly.
         which allows the capturing of video to a           Some media have capacities above
         DVD on the fly.                                 the standard. In order to write to such
             Though there were a lot of initial          media, the DVD-Writer as well as
         compatibility issues between the DVD            the writing software must support
         formats supported by various companies,         overburning.
         the differences have since mostly been             Videos from a DV-Cam can be
         ironed out.                                     captured directly to certain DVD-Writers,
                                                         but for this, the DVD-Writing software
         Questions to ask the dealer                     must support the DVD-VR format. This is
         What are the different formats                  available on the DVD+R specification, so          The world saw the launch of the CD drive
         supported by the drive?                         drives supporting DVD+R can be used               in 1982, which was a milestone, and the
         Look for drives supporting DVD+R, DVD-          for this.                                         CD drive became a piece of household
         R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, DVD+R DL, and                   Some DVD-Writer manufacturers                  equipment. DVD players made their
         DVD-R DL. An older-generation drive may         specify that certain brands of media may          appearance in 1996 in Japan and in 1997
         not support anything double layer, since        have some problems with their drives.             in the US. Creative Labs, Diamond Multi-
         they existed at a time when DL was only         Referring to the DVD-Writer’s manufac-            media and Hi-Val released PC DVD-ROM
         on the drawing board.                           turer’s Web site is a good thing to do.           drives bundled with hardware decoder
         What is the form factor of the drive?              Check if DMA mode for the drive is             cards in 1997.
         Most optical drives today are available in      enabled in Windows XP. This will enable
         the half-height form factor. Such a drive       quicker data transfers at minimal load            The Future
         is much shorter than a traditional full-        to the CPU. Instead of a 40-conductor             The DVD was thought to be humon-
         height drive. Installing such a drive is        cable, use an 80-conductor one.                   gous, capable of storing a minimum of
         easier as it fits in almost any cabinet and        Check for firmware updates for your            4.7 GB and up to 17 GB of data. As tech-
         is less likely to interfere with the moth-      optical drive on the manufacturer’s Web           nology manages to squeeze in more and
         erboard. This also leaves the interior of       site. These can contain bug fixes and             more data into the same dimensions,
         the PC with more breathing space.               address other issues.                             the hunger for storage space only seems
                                                                                                           to have increased! This has driven the
          Points To Ponder                                                                                 development of newer standards such
                                                                                                           as Blu-ray and HD-DVD, which are a hot
      Does my PC meet the minimum system               you’re buying an external drive.                    topic of discussion these days.
      requirements for a DVD-Writer?                   Should I buy an internal drive or an                    Few people doubt that one of these
      A DVD-Writer will work with any PC with a        external drive?                                     two will dominate the optical disc stor-
      minimum of a 400 MHz processor, 32 MB of         For a home user, an internal drive is the best      age industry in the near future. The
      RAM, and hard drive space enough to store        choice from every angle, be it cost, perform-       only question is, which of the two will
      the data to be written. In addition to this,     ance or features. An external drive is useful for   it be? It’s difficult to say. Refer The Battle
      there should be a free IDE connector, unless     people such as PC hardware professionals.           Of The Blue in this issue for more on HD-
                                                                                                           DVD and Blu-ray.

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                                                                                        FLASH DRIVES
         H
                ow many of us use floppy drives         mount the partition if it is not auto-        year 2004, WIZO (pronounced Vee-Zoh),
                and floppies? We wouldn’t be too        mounted.                                      a German punk-rock band, was the first
                presumptuous in saying that             Is the Flash drive bootable?                  artist to release music in MP3 format on
         people don’t even think of buying one          For booting through a Flash drive, the        a USB drive titled the “WIZO Stick-EP”.
         today. People mostly transfer files via        BIOS must have the option to boot such
         the Internet using e-mail. If you do not       a device—check your motherboard               Usage Tips
         have an Internet connection, you should        manual. Moreover, the device itself              Always cover the USB connector of
         consider investing in a Flash drive            should support ‘bootability’; consult the     your Flash drive with the cover provided
         instead of using floppies or even              dealer before you assume this support.
         rewritable CDs.                                If this option is supported, the manu-
             Flash drives are not only convenient       facturer will provide the necessary tools
         to use, but also much faster, more reli-       to make the drive bootable.
         able, and have far greater capacities          What type of warranty, if any, is
         than floppies. ‘Chewing gum stick’-            preferable?
         sized pen drives are durable (if used          Warranties differ between manufactur-
         properly), and large capacity drives (1 GB     ers. Local manufacturers may or may
         and above) can be used to store personal       not provide a warranty, but the known
         information when using a shared                brands do. If price is not an issue, opt
         computer. Current generation BIOSes            for a good brand that offers a replace-
         also support booting from a USB                ment warranty of at least one year.
         Flash drive.                                                                                 by the manufacturer in order to protect
                                                        Interesting Facts                             it from damage.
         Questions to ask the dealer                    A USB Flash drive is made up of a NAND-           When removing the Flash drive from
         Will the Flash drive work on Windows           gate circuitry-based Flash memory (a          the USB port, always un-mount the
         98 and Linux?                                  form of EEPROM) integrated with USB           drive, that is, use the ‘Safely remove
         Flash drives require a mass storage class      1.1 or 2.0 interface. A Flash drive derives   device’ option that Windows provides.
         driver. This driver class is included in       the power for its operation from the              Use write-protect, if available, with
         Windows ME, Windows 2000 and                   host USB port. A USB Flash drive has          your drive to avoid accidental overwrite
         Windows XP by default. So, users will          several names, including “Pen drive,”         or deletion of data.
         have to download the driver for                “Thumb drive,” “USB key,” and more.               If you are using some kind of secu-
         Windows 98 from the manufacturer’s                 IBM invented the Flash drive way          rity tool, be careful not lose your
         site. The USB Flash driver will work in        back in 1998 as a replacement for floppy      password.
         the Linux operating system running             drives in their ThinkPad line of prod-
         kernel 2.4.6 and above. You may have to        ucts, but they never patented it! In the      The Future
                                                                                                      In order to reduce the overall cost of
          Points To Ponder                                                                            Flash drives, semiconductor corpora-
                                                                                                      tions are working on integrating many
      Do I need a Flash drive?                        forth between, say, work and home. Again, if    features into a single chip. Lower capac-
      Flash drives are meant for those who work       you don’t have a reliable Net connection,       ity Flash drives are being phased out.
      regularly on two or more computers. These       consider buying a Flash drive!                      The U3 platform has been designed
      drives come in a variety of capacities. The     Are there many manufacturers for this           to transform a simple Flash drive into a
      primary need of a Flash drive is to transport   kind of product?                                USB smart drive; for this, the applica-
      data from one PC to another. Choose one         Yes. Of the companies that sell Flash drives,   tions used also have to be U3 compliant.
      considering the maximum size of data that       there are some who contribute to the devel-     A U3 smart drive enables a user to carry
      you may have to carry around. If you only       opment of the technology, and some are local    not only his or her data, but also appli-
      need to carry around a few small documents,     marketing companies. It is advisable to buy a   cations that can be used on any
      you could, of coure, e-mail them back and       Flash drive from a recognised brand.            machine, without the need to actually
                                                                                                      install those applications.

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                                                                         HARD DISK DRIVES
          T
                hose who have been associated               titioned. If possible, perform a disk check        Do not keep the hard drive loose or
                with computers for the past decade          using a drive-check utility.                    vertical within your cabinet. Tightly
                would recollect the 32 GB limit—an          What is the warranty type?                      screw in the drive to the cabinet, and do
          indication of how early motherboard               Prefer drives that come with a replace-         not cover it with any insulating material
          manufacturers underestimated the                  ment warranty.                                  such as plastic. A hard drive, like most
          development of storage media. Since                                                               other components in a PC, needs to dissi-
          then, storage capacities seem to have             Interesting Facts                               pate heat and needs ventilation.
          skyrocketed; even the speed of data trans-        IBM’s ‘Drum’ epitomises the amount of
          fer has increased steadily. The interfacing       research that has gone into developing
          technology between the motherboard                what is probably the most important
          and the disk drive has seen a major               component of a PC—the hard disk. You
          improvement as well.                              can replace your processor; all it takes is
                                                            money. But if your hard disk were to
          Questions to ask the dealer                       crash, what happens to your data?
          What models do you have?                              IBM’s Drum was a rotating cylindri-
          Although you have a model in mind, you            cal device on which data was stored as
          should ask the dealer for any new models          magnetic patterns. It was replaced with
          that have arrived, and compare the                hard drives that resemble the ones we
          features with the one you’ve decided on.          use today, except that they had much
          Is the drive brand new?                           lower capacities and slower speeds.                Only use cables that are recom-
          Don’t let the dealer con you with a used                                                          mended by the manufacturer to inter-
          product. Many users are not aware of bad          Usage Tips                                      face the hard drive with the
          sectors and they use the drive with the               Internal hard drives are fragile and        motherboard. For instance, if an ATA133
          defect—some dealers may try their luck.           are not designed to be repeatedly               hard drive is interfaced using an ATA66
          So check the disk at the dealer’s outlet          attached and detached from a system. It         IDE cable, data transfer speeds are
          by attaching it as a slave to their test          is advisable that you be extremely careful      affected.
          machine and see that the drive is unpar-          when transporting your hard drive.                 If you are using Windows, an occa-
                                                                                                            sional disk defragmentation would not
          Points To Ponder                                                                                  only clear cluttered data, but will also
                                                                                                            improve the performance of the operat-
      How large a hard drive do I need?                   in much larger capacities—as much as 500 GB.      ing system.
      A good way to decide this is to see the amount      The rpm factor is very important as well, as is
      of times you have burnt CDs to shift data off       the buffer/cache size. Look for a hard disk       The Future
      your drive. If you do not have a CD-Writer, try     with a buffer/cache size of 8 MB or more, and     The growing need for space and speed,
      and remember how many times you wished you          an rpm speed of at least 7200.                    especially at server levels, has brought
      had one, and buy a hard drive accordingly. This     What type of hard disk will my                    researchers back to the drawing board.
      question, though, is often decided more by the      system support?                                   The need of the moment is, quite simply,
      budget than by space requirements. Still, if you    Understanding your system is the most impor-      higher data densities.
      can afford it, buy the largest hard drive you can   tant requirement, because if you buy a SATA           The single most exciting develop-
      afford—you won't regret it!                         hard drive and your system doesn't support it,    ment we see happening is Perpendicu-
      What do I look for in a hard drive?                 you will be forced to upgrade your mother-        lar Recording (PR). PR offers much
      Currently, hard drives are available in two         board or exchange your drive for an older         higher storage capacities. In PR, data
      different interfaces—Parallel ATA (PATA) and        PATA one.                                         bits will be stored “one above the
      Serial ATA (SATA). If possible, buy the newer       Read through your motherboard manual for          other” as a stack of bits, rather than
      SATA drives, provided your motherboard              SATA support, or open up the cabinet and look     “side-by-side” as they are today. We’re
      supports these, of course. SATA drives are          for the model number and then search the          keen to get our hands on a drive that
      faster than PATA, and are generally available       Internet for the model specifications.            uses this technology—and we’re sure
                                                                                                            you are, too!

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                                                                                                                  LAPTOPS
                                                           Interesting Facts

          L
               aptops today are powerful enough                                                                 Use the power-saving features of the
               to take on their desktop counter-           The laptop computer was invented by               laptop and of the operating system to
               parts. They come with features such         Adam Osborne of Osborne Computers, a              extend battery life.
          as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and sport fast           book company, in 1981. It was called the             Viewing the laptop’s small screen for
          processors—some even come with 64 bit            Osborne 1 and cost $1,795 (Rs 18,000 in           prolonged periods can be very taxing on
          processors. Battery life is increasing. And      those days). It weighed 24 pounds. Epson          the eyes. Consider using a monitor while
          the price gap between desktop PCs and            later released the HX-20, which had a 20-         working in office or at home - many
          laptops is reducing at a quick pace.             character by 4-line LCD display and an            laptops come with a D-Sub connector to
                                                           inbuilt printer. In 1989, the NEC Ultralite       connect a monitor.
          Questions to ask the dealer                      was released. It weighed just five pounds,
          Is it upgradeable?                               and this is considered by many to have
          Though not all the components in the             been the first notebook-style laptop. The
          laptop will be upgradeable, some                 Macintosh Portable was also released
          major components such as the CPU                 that year by Apple Computer, which later
          and RAM should be. A hot-swappable               evolved into the Powerbook.
          drive bay will allow you to upgrade the
          optical drive.                                   Usage tips
          What is the battery life, and is there an           Laptops have air outlets to let out
          extra battery pack?                              heated air. Place the laptop in such a way
          Ask the dealer if the stated battery life is     that there is no obstruction to this outlet.
          accurate, in his experience. An extra               When you’re using the laptop at
          battery pack is a big plus.                      home or office, consider using a USB                 To conserve battery charge, turn off
          What connectivity options are there?             mouse and keyboard—these are more                 the Wi-Fi when you’re not using it.
          Look for USB 2.0, FireWire, a memory             ergonomic than the touchpad and the
          card and a PC card reader.                       laptop keyboard.                                  The Future
                                                                                                             nVidia has introduced MXM modules,
          Points To Ponder                                                                                   which are replaceable graphics cards.
                                                                                                             Future laptops will use this approach to
      What kind of a notebook do I need?                 Do I need a processor with power saving             upgrade the graphics subsystem, just like
      Home users and students should opt for             features?                                           in desktops. Laptops with OLED displays
      moderately powerful laptops paying less            The latest processors from both Intel and AMD       are not far off. This will result in
      attention to the portability factor. Business      come with power saving features. These have         an improvement in battery life—OLEDs
      professionals should look for connectivity and     better battery lives.                               consume much less power as compared
      removable drives in a moderately powerful          Do I need DVD reading capabilities?                 to LCDs.
      laptop that is not only portable but also          DVD reading has become a must: DVDs have                64-bit processors have already made
      rugged. Power users such as gamers and             become fairly common, and many programs             an appearance in the laptop segment.
      multimedia enthusiasts should get a laptop         will soon be available only on DVD. In fact, look   Dual-core processors, too, are making
      with the fastest possible processor and a 3D       for a Combo drive or a DVD-Writer.                  their way into laptops, guaranteeing
      graphics card, ignoring portability.               What communication options should I                 considerably higher performance than
      How much battery life should it offer?             look for?                                           their single-core brethren.
      If you will be using the laptop while on the       You should look at Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, infrared,          Laptops capable of playing multime-
      move, high battery life should be given prime      Ethernet, and a modem.                              dia content off CD and DVD without
      importance. Two hours is the minimum you           What kind of pointing device should                 booting into the operating system are
      should be looking at. Also, look for an addi-      it have?                                            already available.
      tional battery pack.                               Choose the pointing device you’re comfortable           With the price difference between
      Is the hard drive capacity enough for me?          with. While a touchpad is preferred by some,        laptops and desktops fast closing, you
      Most people should be happy with 40 GB.            some swear by the pointing stick.                   shouldn’t be surprised to soon see
                                                                                                             laptops entirely replacing desktops!

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                                                                                                     LASER MFDS
                                                          Questions to ask the dealer
          A
                 n MFD or multifunction device                                                             Is the MFD upgradeable?
                 combines the features of copy-           What type of PC interface does                   Pay attention to upgradeability and
                 ing, faxing, printing and scan-          it have?                                         scalability. Upgrade options will
          ning into a single unit. This is a              Most laser MFDs support the USB 2.0              extend the functionality of the device
          sought-after commodity by small and             interface. However, if you are going to          as your needs grow.
          medium offices because space is of              connect it to an old PC, you should              What type of warranty is being
          prime importance, and since an MFD              look for a parallel interface, which will        offered?
          packs in the functionality of so many           most likely be the only interface avail-         Laser MFDs are heavy—lugging them
          devices in a single unit, it saves that         able on that PC.
          much space and cost.                            What is the toner and printer
              Laser MFDs are more expensive               duty cycle?
          than their inkjet counterparts, but             The printer duty cycle is the number
          they offer superior print quality and           of pages the printer can print in a
          are much faster. They also require              month at default quality settings. The
          lower maintenance, and boast of a very          toner duty cycle is the total number of
          low cost per printed page. As a result,         pages that the toner can print. Need-
          the popularity of laser MFDs is on the          less to say, look for a higher number.
          rise. These are basically printer-based         Does it support duplex printing?
          MFDs, and hence have a higher cost              Duplex printing means the ability to
          per page and lower page per minute              print on both sides of the paper. This
          than copier-based MFDs. But they cost           eliminates the need for manually flip-           around is not feasible; make sure
          a lot lower than their copier-based             ping the paper and putting it back in.           your model is covered by an on-
          counterparts.                                   This is useful for printing booklets,            site warranty.
              A copier-based MFD is nothing but           manuals and such.
          a digital copier with added function-           Does it have networking support?                 Usage Tip
          ality, and has a separate toner                 Small and medium businesses gener-               Not all MFDs have the fax feature. If
          cartridge and drum—whereas a                    ally have a network consisting of                you’re not planning on using fax, or if
          printer-based MFD is less complex, and          a small number of computers, so                  you already have a fax machine, you
          has these two integrated into a single          you should look for an MFD with                  can save a little by investing in an MFD
          toner drum.                                     network support.                                 without the fax feature.

          Points To Ponder                                                                                 The Future
                                                                                                           The next few years will see a lot of
      What are the advantages of a laser MFD?           printer engine-based MFD. If fax is your main      exciting innovations in the laser MFD
      Laser MFDs print at the most economical rate      concern, opt for a specialised laser fax, which    segment. LEP (liquid electro-photo-
      and have the lowest running cost. They are very   doubles as a laser printer and scanner.            graphic) technology used in high-end
      fast and their print quality is also very high.   What other features should I look for?             digital printing presses has the poten-
      Are there any disadvantages of an MFD             Look for features such as paper capacity, buffer   tial to revolutionise office and home
      over discrete devices?                            memory, duplex printing, toner save, etc. Make     printing alike. Other innovations such
      Yes. If, for example, the scanner of the MFD      sure the MFD can print on the kinds of paper       as printing over wireless are already on
      stops working for some reason, the copier also    products you use, such as envelopes and            their way to market. Direct printing
      will not function since it depends on the         index cards.                                       from cell phones is another possibility
      scanner.                                          Does it have a user friendly interface?            that is being explored. Similarly, there
      What type of an MFD should I buy?                 Try the console interface to figure out how to     are advancements being made in the
      Consider your usage pattern. If you print less    operate the device. Check out the control panel.   field of scanners. And with Wi-Fi gain-
      and copy more, choose a copier engine-based       It should have a good LCD panel to display         ing popularity in offices, Wi-Fi capable
      MFD. If you print more and copy less, opt for a   status messages and warnings.                      MFDs are something to look forward
                                                                                                           to in the near future!

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                                                                                          LCD MONITORS
         L
              CD monitor prices have dipped in             ets that are compliant with the VESA              Dead pixels are normally manufactur-
              the past few months, and now                 mounting standards. Enquire if the LCD            ing defects, and usually go unnoticed.
              even budget home users can afford            you are buying has this feature or if you
         one. Apart from the cost of the LCD,              need to spend extra money to get it done.         Usage Tips
         there has been remarkable improve-                Can I connect a VCD/DVD directly to                   Do not keep an LCD monitor On when
         ment in the quality of colour repro-              my LCD?                                           the system is idle—this will reduce its life.
         duction.      Manufacturers        are            Some LCDs have an S-Video connector,                  An LCD screen is made up of fine crys-
         introducing screens with lower                    which allows you to connect VCD/DVD               tal sheets, and you may notice a change
         response times, wide-screen displays,             players directly to your screen.
         anti-glare coatings, etc. However,                Can I use the LCD on both Mac and PC
         choosing an LCD over a CRT monitor                systems?
         must be done after understanding the              There are some LCDs that support both
         advantages of each.                               Mac and PC systems.
                                                           Does the manufacturer support the
         Questions To Ask The Dealer                       product with warranty and service
         What is the native resolution?                    centres?
         LCD screens, unlike CRT monitors, have            Make sure that the manufacturer
         a fixed maximum resolution called the             supports their product with a good
         native resolution, which is set by the            warranty period, and also check for serv-
         manufacturer. This resolution will vary           ice centres close to your home.
         depending on screen type (such as SVGA,                                                             in colour as soon as you touch it. Use non-
         XGA, WXGA etc) and screen size (12 inch,          Interesting Facts                                 static cloth or cotton cloth to clean your
         15 inch etc).                                     Not many of us are aware of dead pixel            LCD screen. Protect the LCD from any
         Does the LCD monitor support wall-                phenomenon in liquid crystal displays.            kind of jerks, because any damage of the
         mounting?                                         A dead pixel is a pixel on an LCD screen          liquid crystal alignment is permanent.
         You can mount an LCD on a wall using              that doesn’t light up when it should be               Some LCDs have memory card read-
         certain wall mount patterns and brack-            active and displaying some colour.                ers using which you can run movies or
                                                                                                             clips or see photos without having to
          Points To Ponder                                                                                   start your PC.
                                                                                                                 If open windows do not fit properly
      Will LCD monitor suit all PC users?                black; it is simply an indication of the colour     on the screen, you can use the auto reso-
      The technology involved in CRT is different        representation of LCD. A contrast ratio of          lution set button—which is available on
      from LCD; each has its own advantages. The         400:1 and above is a good choice.                   most LCDs—to automatically resize the
      LCD immediately impresses an onlooker or           Luminance is an indicator of how bright a           screen to fit within the LCD.
      buyer for its sleek ‘lifestyle-like’ look, power   surface—here, the LCD Screen—will appear
      consumption and the soothing effect it lends       when looking at it from a particular angle.         The Future
      to the eyes of a user. Therefore, LCD suits        For a PC, an LCD screen with a luminance            Usage of LCD is gaining popularity—LCD
      users who are into documentation, program-         factor between 320 cd/m2 and 400cd/m2               TV entered the Indian market some time
      ming, and other non-moving graphics-inten-         is ideal.                                           ago and is now making its presence felt
      sive work. CRT is a better option for gamers       Response times give us an idea of how fast          with 17- and 21- inch screens. There is still
      and frequent movie goers since LCDs do not         an LCD can respond to fast-moving images.           a long way to go for them to enter every
      respond fast enough when displaying moving         An LCD with a high response time results in         household. Just like the LCD monitor,
      graphics.                                          the streaking effect, which is, basically, slight   LCD TVs are expensive to begin with.
      What are the important parameters to               blurring of the image. To avoid this, look for      These new sets can be interfaced with a
      consider when buying a LCD?                        low response times. The recommended                 PC, VCD/DVD player etc. and also sport
      Contrast ratio is the measure of light intensi-    response time for gaming and movies is              memory card slots. Before it can chal-
      ty between the brightest white and darkest         10 milliseconds.                                    lenge plasma TVs, LCD technology is yet
                                                                                                             to overcome poor viewing angles!

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                                                                              MOTHERBOARDS
         T
               he motherboard is one of the most         Express graphics card at a later date.        factor gained prominence duding the
               important of all the PC compo-            Does the motherboard have overclocking        era of the Intel 80386 processors. The
               nents—it handles all the compo-           features?                                     ATX form factor, a miniaturisation of
         nents and their interactions with each          While most motherboards have over-            the AT, was next, and this was again
         other. System performance depends to a          clocking features of some sort,               miniaturised into Mini ATX and Micro
         large extent on the motherboard. Today,         some manufacturers offer extensive            ATX which are in use today.
         we see motherboards that come with a            overclocking features on their premium            The architecture of the motherboard
         host of features such as RAID, SATA,            boards.                                       evolved from the ISA to PCI and now to
         WiFi, SLI, etc., to name a few. The archi-      Does the motherboard support faster           PCI-Express.
         tecture has also evolved from the slow          CPUs and memory?
         ISA bus to the faster PCI bus and now on        You should verify that the motherboard
         to the even faster PCI-Express bus.             supports faster processors than what you
                                                         are currently purchasing. It should have
         Questions To Ask The Dealer                     support for memories with speeds faster
         Does the motherboard have dual-core             than what you have right now. This is
         processor support?                              important for upgrades in the future.
         This can be usually determined from the
         chipset on which the motherboard is             Interesting Facts
         based. But certain chipsets are known to        Motherboards have been available in a
         partially support or require a BIOS             variety of form factors designed mainly
         update to support dual-core processors.         keeping the size of the computer cabi-
         Is the motherboard graphics                     net in perspective. IBM created the           Usage Tips
         upgradeable?                                    PC/XT for the IBM PC in 1981, and soon            Check the motherboard manufac-
         If the motherboard you’re looking at            it became the de facto standard for moth-     turer’s Web site periodically for updated
         purchasing has onboard graphics, check          erboards. Then came the AT form               BIOS, chipset and other integrated
         if it has a PCI-Express graphics slot. This     factor—also known as full AT—which            component drivers. These updated driv-
         will enable you to upgrade to a faster PCI-     succeeded the PC/XT, and this form            ers provide bug fixes and enhance system
                                                                                                       performance.
         Points To Ponder                                                                                  If you are overclocking, use a power
                                                                                                       supply of at least 400 watts for stability.
      Should I opt for a PCIe- or AGP-based            than a full ATX motherboard, which will not         CD and DVD writers are likely to
      motherboard?                                     fit. It should be noted that a full ATX         produce coasters when a system is over-
      AGP is all but obsolete. PCIe has almost         motherboard generally comes with better         clocked, so you should not overclock if
      replaced it. And if you plan to upgrade the      features, and is priced higher.                 you need to do tasks—such as disc
      graphics of your PC at a later date, PCIe        What type of power supply connector does        buring—that are dependent on the
      would be your best bet.                          the motherboard require?                        system’s FSB.
      Is the onboard graphics capable of               There are two types of power supply                 While mounting the processor on
      running Windows Vista?                           connectors—20-pin and 24-pin. Make sure         the motherboard socket, take care to
      In order to be able to run Windows Vista, the    that you check this if you are upgrading the    properly align the notch on the CPU
      motherboard’s onboard graphics must be           motherboard.                                    with that on the socket to avoid damage
      DirectX 9 compliant.                             What are the frills that I should look for in   to the processor or motherboard.
      What form factor should the motherboard          a motherboard?                                      A motherboard needs housekeeping,
      have?                                            Buy a motherboard that has features such as     and you should periodically clean it to
      If you are upgrading, buy a motherboard with     FireWire, USB 2.0, SATA, RAID, and support      remove the dust that gathers. This
      the form factor that can fit inside your PC      for 64-bit processors and dual-core             reduces accumulation of heat and static
      cabinet. If you have a small cabinet, a Micro    processors as well as dual graphics card        electricity, and lengthens the life of the
      ATX motherboard should be purchased rather       configurations such as SLI and CrossFire.       motherboard along with that of
                                                                                                       other components.

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                                                                                             MP3 PLAYERS
         P
              ortable cassette players became            How long will the battery last, and what        This victory was almost the turning
              history when MP3 players were              type of battery is it?                          point; more and more companies came
              introduced. Initially, there were          Most people like rechargeable batteries,        up with products… competition rose,
         only a few models to choose from, but           while some prefer AA or AAA cells.              and the rest is history.
         now they’re crawling out of the                 Make sure you confirm that the battery
         woodwork!                                       is user-replaceable!                            Usage Tips
                                                         Does the manufacturer have service                 Quite often, the earphones bundled
         Questions To Ask The Dealer                     centres and how long is the warranty            with the player may not be top-notch. If
         What is the storage capacity, and are           period?
         there any additional features?                  It is important to check for warranties.
         Even if you know what the capacity of           Also, confirm that the manufacturer
         a particular model is, it is better to          has service centres across the country.
         cross- check with the dealer. Also bear
         in mind your growing music collec-              Interesting Facts
         tion—you certainly don’t want to be             Digital Audio Player (DAP) is the
         disappointed about your purchase a              ‘formal’ name of MP3 player, but due
         few months down the line. Ask about             to the ubiquity of the format, the name
         additional features in a model. These           ‘MP3 player’ still exists. Early DAPs
         additional features include video play-         were CD players and mini disc players.
         back, varied format support, and                The first non-mechanical DAP was
         the number of colours the LCD                   introduced in the summer of 1998, and           you think the sound quality isn’t great,
         screen supports.                                had 32 MB of memory. The second DAP             try changing the earphones before
         Does it record?                                 was released in September 1998 and              returning the player.
         If your job requires you to record voice        was a big hit; the popularity of the               Some manufacturers provide special
         when at meetings or press conferences,          player was followed with lawsuits that          casings for their players to protect them
         you will need this feature. If the player       were won by the manufacturer. The               from scratches and dust; if you have
         has FM radio, you should ask if it can          lawsuits, however, alleged that the             something like this, use it.
         record FM as well.                              device aided illegal copying of music.             Some players need specific applica-
                                                                                                         tions to transfer music files to and from
          Points To Ponder                                                                               the player, whereas some are just plug
                                                                                                         and transfer (via the USB port).
      What are the types of MP3 Players?               however, expensive if cost per MB of storage is
      There are two basic types of MP3 players,        considered.                                       The Future
      Flash-based and hard drive-based. Flash-         Which one fits the bill?                          Mobile phones have started including
      based players have memory made up of solid-      It’s just a matter of the right combination of    the MP3 playback feature. This, as a
      state semiconductors, while hard disk drive-     features. The supported audio formats may         matter of fact, has pushed MP3 player
      based players, as the name suggests, have        not be too important to you, but if you have      manufacturers into a corner, demand-
      memory units mostly made of 1.8-inch             files in other formats, say OGG, then you have    ing more out of them at affordable
      hard disks.                                      to look at the supported formats very care-       costs. Flash-based drives will come
      Which type of player suits me?                   fully. Once you’ve narrowed the list down to a    with higher capacities of up to 8 GB by
      Hard drive-based MP3 players are usually         few players that have the features you’re look-   the end of 2006, and 16 GB by 2007.
      more feature-rich than Flash-based ones.         ing for, it’s time you chose a player based on       More and more MP3 players are
      They normally have larger screens and a          your favourite brand. Brand name becomes a        turning to video playback capability to
      larger capacity. If you among those who listen   factor because certain manufacturers have         gain a market advantage. In the
      to music while jogging and such activities,      attained popularity based on the excellence of    future, we’ll see almost all portable
      hard drive-based players are not for you.        their products, and so you are assured of qual-   players playing back video—even
      Flash-based players are very robust. They are,   ity without a doubt.                              DivX—and perhaps then we’ll have to
                                                                                                         drop the ‘MP3 player’ name tag!

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                                  MULTIFUNCTIONAL COPIERS
                                                                                                          Usage tips

          T
               he multifunction copier is an               available with multifunctional
               MFD based on a copier-based                 copiers?                                          Power users or high-production
               engine.       Being     copier-based        Some of the upgrades available are             departments should be put on a sepa-
          implies that the cost is much higher             as below:                                      rate network segment to minimise LAN
          than that of a printer-based MFD, but            Puncher: This enables punching of              congestion in case of networked
          the duty cycles are much higher. The             holes in the print medium after print-         devices.
          multifunction copier is very rugged,             ing. This is useful for binding purposes.         Use the software tools provided with
          and its cost per page is also much lower         Binder: Sheets of papers can be trans-         the device to manage printer resources
          compared to that of its printer-based            formed into booklets using this
          cousins. It is also capable of standalone        feature.
          operation.                                       Duplex Automatic Document Feeder:
              The multifunction copier usually             Most MFDs come with an ADF, but
          caters to corporate users such as enter-         a duplex ADF can also be added to
          prises, DTPs and the legal industry,             some MFDs.
          where high-volume output is the need.            Stacker: If you need additional output
                                                           capabilities, a stacker augments the
          Questions to ask the dealer                      output paper capacity.
          What is the maximum possible scan                    The above features and more are
          and print size?                                  available on some models, but these
          Look for a product that can scan and             can be added any time after purchase
          print documents large enough for your            to most of the models that don’t come          across the network and reduce support
          particular needs.                                with these frills.                             time and maintenance expenditure.
          What are the toner and printer duty              What is the warranty offered?                     Certain devices provide clustering
          cycles?                                          Given the heavy-duty usage of this class       capabilities, where the print job is
          The printer duty cycle is the number of          of products, warranty is of the utmost         spanned across multiple devices, thus
          pages the printer can print in a month           importance. Every player in this arena         increasing the page output per minute.
          at default quality settings. The toner           offers on-site warranties. Therefore,
          duty cycle is the total number of pages          what you need to for is how good the           The Future
          the toner can print. Needless to say,            service network is, in addition to, of         Quite a few innovations are underway
          look for a higher number.                        course, how many years the warranty            in the field of multifunction copiers.
          What are the additional upgrades                 is for.                                        Some already have features similar to
                                                                                                          computers, such as a CPU, RAM and
           Points To Ponder                                                                               hard drive.
                                                                                                              Upcoming technologies include
      Why should I buy a multifunction copier in         What are the advantages of a copier-             Canon’s Multifunctional Embedded
      the first place?                                   based MFD?                                       Application Platform (MEAP) J2ME
      Opt for an multifunction copier when:              Copier-based MFDs have a separate toner and      Java-based technology, which enables
          You wish to save office space, and/or want     drum. This means that when one of them is        customised business applications to
      to replace your copier with a better solution      exhausted, you need to replace only that. This   be created and installed on the device.
          Your print volumes are very high               reduces the overall running cost as compared     These can be controlled via the MFD’s
         You want to be able to purchase add-ons as      to printer-based solutions, where the toner—     user interface. As an example, using
         your needs grow                                 which is not separable from the drum—has         an MEAP application installed on a
         You require advanced features such as           to be discarded and replaced when it’s           device, a bank could train the device
         advanced document management                    exhausted.                                       to differentiate between a home loan,
         You wish to eliminate the time lost in moving       In addition to this, the printer duty        personal loan and credit card
         documents from one device to another—such       cycle is very high, and print speeds are also    application, and the device could elec-
         as printer to fax                               very high.                                       tronically route scanned paperwork
                                                                                                          for processing.

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                                                                                    OCR SOFTWARE
         O
                  ptical Character Recognition          useful when there are a large number            order to increase the OCR’s accuracy.
                  (OCR) is the process of transla-      of documents to be scanned. Using this             While scanning text documents,
                  tion of optically scanned             feature, you can just stack up the docu-        use 300 dpi, and scan in line art mode.
         bitmaps of written or printed text into        ments in the ADF (a scanner with an             This will greatly reduce the size of the
         character codes such as ASCII—mean-            ADF is necessary in this case) instead          scanned file without any loss in accu-
         ing you scan a newspaper clip (or              of sitting in front of the scanner and          racy. The scanning speed will also be
         anything else) and extract the text            feeding in one paper at a time.                 faster.
         from it. OCR software is used to
         convert a scanned document into a              Interesting Facts
         document understandable by a word              David Shepard, a cryptanalyst at AFSA,
         processor.                                     the forerunner of the National Secu-
              Such software is not limited to           rity Agency of the USA, along with Dr.
         offices; it can even be used at home. As       Louis Tordella and Harvey Cook, built
         an example, you can scan a form, use           ‘Gismo’—a machine that could convert
         OCR to convert it to a document, and           printed messages to machine language
         fill it in electronically, thus eliminat-      for computer processing, in 1951. Shep-
         ing the need to fill in a new form in          ard then founded the Intelligent
         case you make a mistake. Or, say you           Machines Research Corporation, or
         want to send someone a newspaper               IMR, and went on to deliver the world’s
         clip. Instead of cutting up the newspa-        first OCR systems used in commercial               If the OCR software allows you to
         per and then relying on snail-mail, you        operation. The first IMR scanner was            control the threshold (brightness), try
         could scan the paper and send off the          installed at the Readers Digest in 1955.        using different threshold levels to scan
         content as an e-mail attachment!               Postal departments around the world             a document that’s giving you a high
              OCR software really does seem             have been using such equipment for a            number of errors. You could be able to
         amazing the first time you use it—good         very long time now.                             improve the accuracy.
         OCR software will recognise fonts,                                                                Keep the glass pane of the scanner
         pictures, formatting, and much more.           Usage tips                                      clean—this, too, improves the OCR
                                                           The document to be scanned must              accuracy.
         Questions to ask the dealer                    be free of wrinkles, ears, smudges or
         Does it save in a variety of formats?          creases in order to increase accuracy.          The Future
         Most OCR software save documents in               Keep a white paper sheet behind              Advances are being made in the field
         Word format. Apart from this, look for         the document to be OCRed, especially            of OCR, such as the Predictive Optical
         support for saving in other formats            when you are scanning a newspaper or            Word Recognition algorithm from
         such as PDF, HTML and Excel.                   thin paper.                                     Scansoft Inc. Research is being done on
         Does it support batch processing?                 Keep the edges of the document               document recognition in which the
         The batch processing feature is very           aligned with that of the scanner in             software will use knowledge of parts
                                                                                                        of speech and grammar to recognise
          Points To Ponder                                                                              individual characters. OCR software
                                                                                                        today offers an accuracy of 90 per cent,
      Is it accurate enough for me?                   mistakes during previous OCR sessions, and        but with the introduction of software
      This will depend on the importance of the       adapts so as not to repeat the same mistakes.     being able to train, this is expected to
      documents you are OCR-ing: if you will not be   Is the price justified?                           improve. Similarly, efforts are under-
      OCr-ing critical documents, go for a cheaper    In OCR software, very often, the price doesn’t    way to improve script and handwritten
      OCR software.                                   correlate with how good the software is. You’ll   recognition. Improvements are not
      Does it have a learning mode?                   need to get an informed opinion on this. Try      only being done on the software algo-
      Many OCR software come with a learning          and ask those in the know, and don’t rely         rithms, but also in the hardware
      mode. In this, the software learns from its     entirely on what the vendor says.                 aspect, using better quality CCDs in
                                                                                                        the scanner elements.

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                                                                                      OPTICAL MEDIA
         C
                omputers rely on optical storage          speed. Check this, and buy the one that           lint cloth. Do not clean the CD/DVD in a
                media such as CDs and DVDs to             supports the highest speed.                       circular motion—clean across the radius,
                back up and store data because of         Is it scratch-resistant?                          moving from the centre towards the edge
         the sheer speed, the huge storage capaci-        There are some media available which              in a straight line.
         ties, and also convenience and cost. The         have a protective coating that reduces its            Store optical media in a cool place
         booming video CD, audio CD and movie             susceptibility to getting scratched.              away from direct sunlight and other
         DVD industries are testimony to the              Though such media come at a premium,              sources of heat, as this is likely to damage
         success of the optical storage medium. As        go for them if the data you are writing is        the medium.
         important as the optical media writers           very important.
         may be, the optical storage media is no          What is the maximum capacity of
         less important.                                  the disc?
                                                          There are some discs available whose
         Questions to ask the dealer                      sizes are a cut above the regular media,
         Is the media compatible with all                 for example, 800 MB CDs. These can be
         optical drives?                                  useful if you have files whose sizes exceed
         Some brands of CD and DVD media have             700 MB. Again, your CD/DVD writer
         known compatibility problems with                should support writing to such a disc.
         certain brands of CD and DVD drives.             What is the warranty, if any?
         Some encounter problems burning in a             Some manufacturers provide a replace-
         specified brand of optical writer, whereas       ment warranty for their media, and you
         other media can be burnt perfectly in the        should check which manufacturers do so.               While creating an audio CD, burn it
         same writer. Such problems are usually                                                             at a slow speed, such as 8x, so that older
         specified on the drive and/or media              Usage tips                                        CD players with poorer lasers will be able
         manufacturer’s Web site, and before                 While labelling on the CD/DVD media            to play the disc thus created.
         purchasing the media, you should do              face using a marker pen, use the lowest               Do not rely solely on optical media for
         some research about whether it will work         possible pressure so as to avoid damage.          data storage and backup, as they tend to
         in your optical drive.                              If burning at the maximum speed                degrade over a period of time and become
         Is it certified to burn at a specified           almost always produces a coaster, try             unreliable.
         speed?                                           lowering the speed.
         Every optical media is certified to be able         Avoid touching the surface of the disc.        The Future
         to be written to at a certain maximum               While cleaning a CD/DVD, use a soft            Optical media have evolved from CD to
                                                                                                            DVD and now to Blu-ray and HD-DVD. This
          Points To Ponder                                                                                  has been possible with technological
                                                                                                            advances that make it possible to use
      Will the particular type of media work in         Are there compatibility problems with               lasers of higher frequency and shorter
      my drive?                                         various DVD formats?                                wavelength, which makes it possible to
      This problem is regarding DVDs. There are         There are certain incompatibilities in certain      store a larger amount of data on a disc of
      many different types of DVDs, including DVD-R,    types of DVD media. As an example, a                the same size.
      DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, DVD-R DL, DVD+R            DVD+R/RW drive can’t write a DVD-R or DVD-              Blu-ray, with storage capacities of 25
      DL and DVD-RAM. Most drives support almost        RW disc, and vice versa.                            or 50 GB, and HD-DVD, with capacities of
      every type of media these days, but there are     Does it support overburning?                        15, 30 or 45 GB, are almost here, and are
      some media such as DVD-RAM which very few         Overburning is the process of writing to an opti-   set to replace DVD. These make it possi-
      drives support. Also, some drives may read        cal disc beyond its specified capacity. As an       ble to record over two hours of HDTV—or,
      dual-layer DVDs, but may support writing only     example, using overburning, 715 MB of data          for us, over 13 hours of standard TV
      to DVD+R dual-layer media. Also find out if the   may be written to a 700 MB disc. This has to be     broadcast. Some way in the future is 3D
      specified media capacity (such as 800 MB CDs)     supported by the media as well as the drive,        Volume Optical Storage Nanotechnology,
      is supported by your optical drive.               and also by the CD/DVD writing software.            which promises to be able to cram 100
                                                                                                            terabytes of data onto a single disc!

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                                                                                                  PROJECTORS
          V
                 ideo projectors come in two              separate connector or adapter. Ask about         semiconductor chip known as the DMD
                 flavours—tubed and LCP (Liquid           this connector.                                  (Digital Micromirror Device), which is
                 Crystal Projection). Tubed projec-       What extra features are available?               made up of millions of tiny mirrors that
          tors are widely used in cinemas and             Look for features such as power zoom, a          can rotate at an angle of 10 to 12
          public displays. The LCP type of projectors     remote control, and input ports such as          degrees. These mirrors can be switched
          are again classified as standard LCD, poly-     DVI, BNC, and S-Video and audio.                 on and off thousands of times per
          silicon LCD and DLP (digital light process-                                                      second, and direct light towards and
          ing)—the latter is fast gaining                 Usage tips                                       away from the pixel space.
          prominence. The image quality of tubed              Avoid using an LCD projector at a
          projectors is better than that of LCP, but      stretch for more than 10 hours. The heat
          tubed projectors are much heavier.              will cause the quality of the LCD to dete-
                                                          riorate, and may even cause permanent
          Questions to ask the dealer                     damage to the LCD.
          Does it have a zoom lens?                           In order to achieve optimal viewing
          A zoom lens allows you to adjust the size       quality, increase the brightness of the
          of the projected image, which is very           projector in places where total darkness
          convenient and allows you to project on         cannot be achieved.
          screens of various sizes and at varying             Always remember that the projector
          distances.                                      will do its job best when its resolution
          What are the video formats supported?           matches that of the computer you're
          The projector should support a minimum          connecting it to. So, if you're using a              DLP projectors are generally believed
          of three video formats—NTSC, PAL and            projector with SVGA resolution, set your         to provide smoother images and better
          SECAM.                                          computer to 800 x 600 resolution.                colour accuracy, and have lower power
          Does it have ceiling mount support?                 Never rely on the Internet connection        consumption as well as higher contrast
          Verify if the projector can be mounted on       for presentation of a Web site! Download         and brightness than LCD projectors.
          the ceiling, and also if it is capable of       the pages beforehand, or take screen-                CRT projectors aren’t very often used,
          projecting images upside down.                  shots of the Web pages and make slides           and we haven’t even mentioned them
          Can it be used with a Mac?                      from these.                                      thus far. As it happens, the image quality
          PC and PC compatibles should not have                                                            offered by a CRT projector is tough to
          much of a problem in this regard, but if        Interesting Facts                                beat! The problem here is that the cost is
          you are using a Macintosh, it requires a        DLP technology is based on an optical            very high, the projector is too large, and
                                                                                                           the calibration needs expertise.
          Points To Ponder
                                                                                                           The Future
      How bright should the projector be?               going to use the projector for. XGA is suitable    Various new types of projector technolo-
      The brightness of a projector is specified in     for projecting finer images such as spread-        gies are being developed or are nearly
      ANSI lumens. Typically, small conference rooms    sheets, where numbers and letters need to be       available. LCOS (Liquid Crystal On Silicon
      or classrooms require less than 1000 lumens.      legible. For very fine images such as engineer-    wafer) is a combination of the LCD and
      Large conference rooms, say, may require 2000     ing drawings, and high-resolution maps, you        DLP technologies. It has high pixel
      to 3000 lumens, whereas auditoriums, theatres     might need SXGA or even UXGA, depending on         density, which results in high-resolution
      and the like require projectors with a bright-    the resolution of the image to be projected.       projectors that are especially good for
      ness above 3000 lumens.                           What about the weight and portability?             multimedia applications. LCOS resolu-
      What should the resolution be?                    If you travel, and make presentations on the go,   tion starts at SXGA. Then there is holo-
      The various resolutions available are SVGA        the projector should be light enough to carry      graphic projection, in which a projector
      (800 x 600), XGA (1024 x 768), SXGA (1280 x       around. If you only intend to make presenta-       shines on a thin holographic screen
      1024) and UXGA (1600 x 1200). SVGA is             tions at your office, for example, a heavier       attached to a semi-transparent surface
      perfectly OK if presentations are what you are    projector should be just fine.                     such as plexi-glass—and the image
                                                                                                           appears to float in mid-air!

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                                                                                                                                    RAM
         T
              his era belongs to DDR RAM. DDR             content. Static RAM is faster than                   SDRAM, like most logic circuits,
              started with a speed of 266 MHz,            Dynamic RAM for this reason, but is very         responds only to the low-to-high transi-
              and now has clocked speeds of               expensive.                                       tion of a clock pulse. This led to the evolu-
         1066 MHz (DDR2). The market has                      DRAM is used for fabricating system          tion of DDR (Double Data Rate) RAM,
         recently witnessed changes such as the           memory as it is cheap. The RAM we use            which reacts to both the low-to-high and
         implementation of dual-channel RAM.              today is an evolution of DRAM. The earli-        high-to-low transitions of the clock
                                                          est of this family was FPM DRAM (Fast            pulse—so it can read/write data twice in a
         Questions to ask the dealer                      Page Mode DRAM); it was designed to              single clock pulse.
         What type of packaging does the                  enhance system performance when read-
         module come in?                                  ing or writing bursts of data. Later came
         Prefer RAM modules that come in                  EDO (Extended Data Out) RAM, which
         tamper-proof packages. Also check with           had a feature by which it could start a
         the dealer about the hologram, if any,           new access cycle while maintaining the
         to verify the originality of the RAM             data output of the previous cycle.
         module.                                              The demand for more speed and
         Does the RAM come with a warranty? If            performance led to the development of
         so, how long is the warranty period?             SDRAM (Synchronous DRAM). DRAM is
         The warranty is manufacturer-depend-             asynchronous; SDRAM synchronises with
         ent. Some manufacturers give a three-            the clock pulses when responding to the
         year warranty, and others give only one          incoming commands. This changed the
         year. It’s therefore important to ask the        method of functioning of DRAM by
         dealer about the warranty.                       enabling more complex patterns of oper-          Usage Tips
                                                          ation. But the pipelining involved here             In the BIOS, select the highest clock
         Interesting facts                                led to a slight delay termed latency, which      setting supported by the system. Prefer
         Static RAM maintains its data for as long        means that data is accepted even before it       a low-latency memory module if you
         as the memory chip is supplied with              is actually written to the address. Simi-        intend to overclock it for a better
         power. Dynamic RAM needs continuous              larly, requested data is read a few clock        gaming experience.
         re-writing of data so as to maintain its         pulses after issuing the read command.              A lower CAS latency setting leads
                                                                                                           to a slight improvement in perform-
          Points To Ponder                                                                                 ance.
                                                                                                              While inserting a RAM module,
      What type of RAM is supported by my               ing and such, you shouldn’t need more than         match the notch on the RAM chip with
      system?                                           256 MB. Graphics professionals should look for     that on the motherboard RAM slot.
      You need to first figure out what basic type of   at least 512 MB of RAM. 512 MB will also result    Hold the RAM at the ends and use your
      RAM (SDRAM, DDR RAM or RDRAM) is                  in a slight performance increase for those         thumb to push it into the slot. You will
      supported by your system. This information is     with moderate computing requirements.              hear the lock on the motherboard slot
      available in your motherboard’s manual.           Gamers, of course, should start with nothing       snap, which indicates that the RAM is
      Second, find out the speed of the RAM             less than 1 GB.                                    fixed. If you are not able push it in,
      supported by your motherboard. The speed          What should I consider when upgrading              don’t force the module—instead, cross-
      may be 266, 333 and 400 MHz for DDR, and 533      RAM?                                               check the position of the notches and
      or 800 MHz for DDR2. For RDRAM the speeds         It is very important that the new RAM module       also make sure you have opened the
      are 533 and 800 MHz, and the older SDRAM’s        match the older module(s). That is, if the clock   locks of the slot.
      clock ticks at 66, 100, 133 and 166 MHz.          speed of the new RAM module is different from         When cleaning a RAM module, do
      How much memory do I need?                        that of the older one(s), the mismatch will        not use cloth—especially artificial
      Our answer is “as much as you can afford.” If     result in frequent reboots. The POST screen        fabric such as nylon—because it causes
      that doesn’t make sense, look at your needs. If   displays the clock speed of the RAM below the      static charges that may damage the
      you use your system mainly for Internet brows-    memory count.                                      module. Use an eraser to clean the
                                                                                                           system bus interfacing pins.

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                                                                                                        SPEAKERS
         R
               emember when a branded PC                 you’re familiar with. To test the bass         is not fixed properly by the engineers, it
               came with two speakers with a             output, turn the volume high and play          will result in poor sound output. Thus,
               simple On/Off button and a                a song that produces bass (drum beats          a replacement warranty is preferred.
         volume control knob? Today, most                and bass guitar); listen carefully to the
         branded PCs bundle sub-woofer speaker           sound from the sub-woofer and check            Usage Tips
         systems. The reason is mainly because           for cracking or jarring.                          It is appropriate to place the sub-
         newer motherboards feature onboard                  If it passes this test, play a song that   woofer below ear level and on a solid
         sound with up to 7.1 channels. This             has stringed instruments such as               platform. If the woofer fires in horizontal
         means we’ve moved into an era where             violins or lead guitar and check the
         the PC has become an affordable alter-          output from the speakers at high and
         native to a home theatre system—thanks          low volumes. If the sound doesn’t crack
         to the advancement in the technology            at high volumes then the speakers have
         of PC sub-woofers and speakers.                 passed the test. Finally, if at low
             You will find multiple and affordable       volumes the sound is clear and distinct
         choices for PC sub-woofer systems in the        enough for you to be able to distin-
         market, and most often, you’re not sure         guish every note variation, you have a
         which one would be the right choice for         real winner.
         your machine.
                                                         What sort of warranty do I get?
         Questions To Ask The Dealer                     Don’t forget to ask the dealer about
         Can I listen to the system?                     replacement      warranties      because       direction, with the hole on the woofer
         Ask for a demonstration and test the            woofers are delicate things to repair. For     being parallel to the ground, place it
         sample sub-woofer system using music            instance, if the cone of the sub-woofer        facing a wall for good bass.

          Points To Ponder                                                                                 If the room is large, angle the speak-
                                                                                                        ers towards yourself, and if the room is
      What are my requirements?                        which is not a true measure of the amplifier,    small, face them towards the walls to get
      The type of music you listen to is a crucial     and so you must check the RMS power rating.      uniform surround sound.
      parameter: it helps you decide on a two-         Any rating above 20 watt RMS is very good.
      speaker or sub-woofer system. If you are not     Also, prefer a speaker set with a wired          The Future
      very particular about the quality of sound       or wireless remote control for the sake          Computer accessories are getting a
      output, and the music you listen doesn’t         of convenience.                                  lifestyle angle, and so are speakers. Big
      produce too much bass, you can settle for a      Are there any physical considerations?           brands in sound system technology
      two-speaker system; otherwise, you will need     Yes. Wood is an ideal material for sound         have entered the computer speaker
      a sub-woofer system.                             systems, and so a sub-woofer with a wooden       market, challenging the big compa-
      What else should I know before I buy?            casing is a good choice. Gold-plated             nies by providing high-quality Dolby
      Check if your sound card or on-board sound       connectors are preferred because gold plating    Digital systems.
      supports more than two channels. If the          eliminates oxidisation of connectors and             The future will see more advance-
      sound card is two-channel, then a 5.1 sub-       provides low resistance, thus improving the      ments in THX technology, and the
      woofer will not produce actual 5.1-channel       output quality; the heat dissipation also        development of separate, powerful
      output. You can override this problem by         improves due to gold plating. Gold-plated        amplifiers that can be interfaced with a
      employing a good sound card with 5.1-channel     connectors may not be part of the pack, so       PC sound card producing output in
      (or above) sound. This will add to the overall   you may have to buy them separately. The         excess of 150 watts rms.
      cost of a sub-woofer speaker system. A           size of the sub-woofer should be proportional        Now is perhaps not the right time to
      speaker set’s manufacturer specification is      to the RMS power; small size and high output     invest in a home theatre, especially if
      all-important. Most manufacturers specify the    power will result in cracking of sound due to    you’re buying a top-of-the-line PC and
      output as PMPO (Peak Music Power Output),        quick and multiple sound reflections.            speaker system! Also look for wireless
                                                                                                        speakers with THX certification.

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                                                                                                          TV-TUNERS
         C
                onsumers expect their PCs to not         broadcasts in India. If you happen to have       riorating the quality of reception.
                just be a computing machine—they         encrypted cable services such as DTH,               For optimal quality reception, select
                increasingly want it to perform as       then you will need a digital TV-Tuner,           the proper TV system for your region in
         an entertainment device. The TV-Tuner is        which might not be available.                    the PVR software.
         one of the prime components that add            Does it feature FM radio?                           Install third-party codecs such as DivX,
         this functionality to the PC. Feature-          FM radio is a feature is not worth miss-         because videos in this format offer good
         packed TV-Tuners these days are giving          ing, considering the little extra you’ll         quality in smaller file sizes than formats
         TVs—or for that matter, standalone home         have to pay.                                     such as MPEG 1 and 2.
         theatres—a run for their money, given           What kind of driver support is there for
         their extremely low prices.                     the particular model of TV-Tuner you
              There are three types of TV-Tuners         intend to buy?
         available in the Indian market—internal         Driver support is very important for a TV-
         PCI cards, external USB 2.0, and external       Tuner in order to keep up with newer
         set-top tuners. While the first two support     operating systems. Considering this
         recording in addition to viewing, the           aspect, buying a TV-Tuner card from a
         latter connects directly to a monitor, and      known brand is advisable.
         does not support recording.
                                                         Usage tips
         Questions to ask the dealer                        Check for updated drivers for your
         Does the card come with a remote?               model on the manufacturer’s Web site
         A TV-Tuner with a remote control will           because newer drivers generally contain          Interesting Facts
         offer you the same convenience your TV          many bug fixes.                                  In 1989-90, VCA frame-grabber cards were
         remote offers you, and much more!                  In many cases, you might want to              launched. These were capable of single-
         Does it have the ‘Pause live TV’ feature?       install third-party PVR software for better      frame capture. Shortly afterwards, the
         Many TV-Tuner cards allow you to pause          functionality and features than what             IBM M-Motion Adapter was launched on
         live TV and continue where you left off!        comes bundled.                                   the IBM PS/2 workstation, and this was
         Do I need to install any drivers for               While       capturing,    background          later replaced by the IBM Action Media II
         the TV-Tuner?                                   programs including the Anti-Virus                card, which could capture video at 30 fps.
         For set-top TV-Tuners, there is no need to      program should be shut down, as these            It was in 1992 that Animation Studios
         install any drivers to be able to view TV.      may affect the capture process.                  (LifeView) and Hauppauge introduced the
         Will it work at my place?                          Minimise the number of joints in the          first TV-Tuner cards for the PC
         You should check the TV standards the           co-axial cable that brings the signal to
         TV-Tuner supports. It should support the        your TV-Tuner card. Each joint causes a          The Future
         PAL standard to be able to receive TV           drop in the magnitude of the signal, dete-       Microsoft’s launch of the Windows Media
                                                                                                          Centre PC, of which the TV-Tuner is prob-
          Points To Ponder                                                                                ably the most important component,
                                                                                                          signals the beginning of the transforma-
      Will the TV-Tuner be able to capture TV          What does a TV-Tuner need in order to              tion of the PC into a full-fledged enter-
      broadcasts with decent quality?                  capture content from any video source?             tainment centre.
      This depends more on your system configura-      Check for ports such as S-Video and Composite          Much of India can only receive
      tion and the video format in which you intend    In, which facilitate capture from video sources.   analogue television signals, but with the
      to capture than on the TV-Tuner itself. A 2.0    Some TV-Tuners have a FireWire port, and so        appearance of digital encrypted services
      GHz processor, a 7200 rpm hard drive with        can even capture video from digital video          such as DTH starting to make their pres-
      enough free space, and 512 MB of RAM will        sources. A TV-Tuner can capture video at a         ence felt, this will change.
      generally yield good quality video capture.      decent quality, but you should consider getting        Many countries are already shifting
      Capturing in MPEG2 is more taxing on the         a dedicated capture card for professional-         to Digital Terrestrial Transmission. Digi-
      system than capturing in DivX or XVID.           quality capture.                                   tal TV-Tuners will become commonplace
                                                                                                          in the near future.

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                                                                                                                                        UPS
          W
                    ith the power situation in India       Does the UPS feature modem and surge               reduces PC downtime while the UPS is
                    showing no signs of improving,         protection?                                        dysfunctional.
                    it’s the UPS market that’s             Most UPSes—but not all—come with
          getting better! The UPS (Uninterruptible         modem and power surge protection,                  Usage Tips
          Power Supply) provides a PC with a grace         which can be a lifesaver for your PC                  Periodically check the UPS by deliber-
          power backup time in which open appli-           in extreme scenarios such as thunder-              ately stopping the power supply.
          cations can be saved and closed and the          storms.                                               Completely discharge the batteries
          PC shut down normally. More home users           What kind of warranty does the dealer              about once a month—this enhances the
          than ever before are investing in UPSes.         provide?
              While there are many different types         You should look for an on-site warranty
          of UPSes, the common ones are Standby            for the UPS, since the UPS is likely to be
          UPSes, which become operational in the           heavy. Similarly, look for UPSes from
          event of a power failure; Online UPSes,          manufacturers that provide a support
          which power the PC all the time; and             number and have a good support
          Line-interactive UPSes, which are the            network.
          same as Standby UPSes, but which                 Does the UPS produce a sine wave
          provide limited voltage regulation.              output?
                                                           Generally, cheaper UPSes produce a
          Questions to ask the dealer                      square wave output, and those producing
          Does the UPS feature any sort of voltage         a sine wave are more expensive. A sine
          regulation?                                      wave UPS is much more efficient than the           life of the batteries and increases the time
          Some UPSes come with AVR (Automatic              square wave type, and the power it                 for which they stay On when powering
          Voltage Regulation), which reduces the           supplies is closer to normal AC power.             the PC.
          damage caused by brownouts. A                    Does it have a manual bypass switch?                   The monitoring software that comes
          brownout is a period when the electrical         With a bypass switch, the UPS allow will           bundled with the UPS can automatically
          voltage is reduced below normal level—           pass power to through it to your equip-            shut down the PC when there’s a power
          you see this when the lights get dim.            ment if it is broken or being serviced. This       failure and the battery charge becomes
                                                                                                              critically low.
           Points To Ponder                                                                                       Do not overload the UPS by connect-
                                                                                                              ing equipment such as laser printers
      What type of UPS do I need?                        How should I decide on the power rating of           which draw heavy power, unless the
      A Standby UPS is the most commonly available       the UPS?                                             manufacturer has specified that you
      type. This type of UPS charges when the AC         To decide on the power or VA rating of the UPS,      can do this.
      power supply is on, and springs into action in     you need to take into account the power rating of        Don’t subject the UPS to temperature
      the event of a power failure.                      your PC’s power supply, the size of the monitor,     or humidity extremes, dust, or static
           The issue here is that when the power goes    and any extra accessories connected to the PC        electricity. Keep the area around the
      out, the switch to battery power happens almost    that you may want the UPS to power. As a simple      UPS clean.
      instantly, but not quite; and though it’s rare,    rule, multiply the power rating of your PC’s power       Make sure the UPS is properly earthed
      there’s a chance that the switching might not be   supply in watts by 1.4, and add it to the product    all times.
      fast enough, in which case the PC could get        of the volt and ampere ratings of the monitor, to        Never mix new and old UPS batter-
      reset. An Online UPS powers the PC all the time,   decide on the power rating of the UPS.               ies. This will cause more power to be
      even when AC power is on, and so doesn’t do any                                                         drawn from the new battery, and will
      switching when the power goes off. It charges      For home use, how long should the UPS                reduce its life.
      on the AC power.                                   battery backup last?                                     Sealed Lead Acid batteries contain live
           A Standby UPS is less expensive, and is       The UPS battery backup time should be at least       electrical current and can be extremely
      preferred by home users. Corporations prefer       10 minutes, so you can save your work and prop-      dangerous. When changing the UPS
      the more reliable Online UPSes.                    erly shut down the PC in case of a blackout.         battery, never touch the battery terminals
                                                                                                              directly or with metal objects!

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                                                                            GRAPHICS CARDS
         T
                he graphics card (aka display card      bundled with a TV-Tuner. Such extra              facilitate efficient cooling.
                or video adapter) plays a very          features require extra accessories such             There are many utilities available to
                important role in bridging the          as cables, a remote control, etc., and           overclock graphics chips and memories.
         communication gap between a computer           you should check if the necessary                This will give a small performance boost
         and the user by helping display the            accessories are bundled. Most graphics           in 3D games.
         computer’s output information on a             cards also bundle a free game.
         monitor. At least that was what graphics       Is there proper driver support?                  The Future
         cards were meant to do when they were          Proper driver support will keep the              It is an undisputable fact that today,
         first invented. Today, though this is the      graphics card in tune with the latest            the gaming industry is the driving
         primary function of a graphics card,           applications and operating systems.
         there are many other things that depend        Certain vendors provide special features
         on it, such as 3D capabilities, multiple       in their drivers such as support for 3D
         displays, TV-out, etc. A graphics card         goggles, which are not available in
         today can be one of the most expensive         generic drivers.
         components of a PC.
                                                        Usage Tips
         Questions To Ask The Dealer                       Check for updated drivers periodi-
         How many years is the warranty period?         cally on the manufacturer’s Web site.
         While most vendors offer a three-year          These address many bugs, and some-
         warranty, some don’t. Check for this.          times provide such a performance boost
         What interface does the card have?             that you may liken it to a free upgrade.
         There are two types of interfaces avail-          Keep the graphics settings to the             force behind the graphics card indus-
         able, AGP and PCIe. You should make            defaults to improve system performance.          try. Graphics cards have evolved into
         sure what type of graphics card you need.         Change the display settings in-game           much more than display adapters.
         What accessories come with it?                 where possible.                                  Already, there are systems with multi-
         Some graphics cards have a video                  Keep the space near the air intake of         ple graphics cards—the technologies
         capture facility, whereas some are             the graphics card clear of obstacles to          for this are SLI from nVidia and Cross-
                                                                                                         Fire from ATi. These claim to almost
          Points To Ponder                                                                               double 3D graphics performance. Then
                                                                                                         there are some who put two graphics
      What type of graphics card will my              high-end system. Also, some high-end               chips on the same graphics card to
      system support?                                 graphics cards consume a great deal of             achieve similar results.
      Consult your motherboard manual to find out     power, and the system’s power supply                   Looking at the many similarities
      if you need an AGP or a PCIe card.              must be powerful enough to cope with               with the CPU, GPUs, as graphics chips
      What type of applications do I run?             its power needs.                                   are known today, will move on to
      If you primarily run 2D applications, any       What should be the compliance require-             newer fabrication processes, and more
      graphics card will be good enough, but for 3D   ment of the 3D graphics card?                      transistors will be packed onto the
      applications and gaming, a 3D graphics card     Newer games require an OpenGL 2.0 or               chip. The chip will therefore consume
      will be required.                               DirectX 9.0c compatible graphics card to run.      less power, and will run at cooler
      How powerful a graphics card will my            Buy a graphics card that supports the highest      temperatures. Newer cards will ship
      computer support?                               version of OpenGL and DirectX.                     with the amazingly fast GDDR6, which
      A high-end graphics card will work with any     What type of outputs should the graphics           will provide a humongous bandwidth
      compatible system, but in order to get the      card have?                                         increase.
      most juice out of it, a powerful CPU and a      If you have a digital display, the graphics card       Microsoft will soon be moving on
      good amount of memory has to complement         should ideally have a DVI-Out. Similarly, if       to DirectX 10, and Shader Model 4 will
      it. Similarly, a low-end card will not give     you are keen on big-screen gaming, you’ll          be the next frontier that graphics chip
      great performance even when used with a         need a TV-out.                                     makers will keep in mind when design-
                                                                                                         ing their next-generation chips.

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                                                                             INKJET PRINTERS
         T
               he newer inkjet printers we’ve             photograph. Trust your eyes—what you            What about warranty and service?
               tested have surprised us with their        see here is what you’re going to get.           Don’t forget these details—such periph-
               compact sizes, feature-rich printing       What about the cartridges?                      erals often need expert attention.
         and affordable prices, which wasn’t the          It is crucial that you have an complete
         case until even a year ago. This hints that      picture of the costs you are going to           Usage Tips
         the printer market is becoming even              incur. It’s the running cost of a printer          Do not print on an empty cartridge—
         more competitive—the big players are             that matters, and you need to find out          this may damage the printer. The ink in
         waging price wars, while still maintain-         how long a cartridge lasts and how much         the cartridge also acts a coolant for the
         ing quality control.                             a new one is going to cost. Remember,           heat sink of the print head.
                                                          entry-level printers can actually be
         Questions to ask the dealer                      cheaper than the cartridges themselves.
         Can I print a test page?                         What else do I get?
         Never assume the quality of a printer            Confirm the accessories that you will
         without testing it. Stats on paper might         get along with your printer; these may
         not reflect true values. Carry a document        include printer cables, a power cord
         that you made yourself and demand a              and even some photo paper. Make sure
         test page print. The document should             to check the package contents
         contain simple text of different font            mentioned on the box before you leave
         sizes, graphs ,and a quarter-page colour         the store.

          Points To Ponder
                                                                                                              You can refill an ink cartridge, but
      When do I choose an inkjet printer?               slower than other printers. The ideal             this is not advisable. Stick to manufac-
      Inkjet printers are typically suited for home     resolution for a photo printer is between         turer-produced cartridges as far as possi-
      users and small offices. They are cheaper         1200 x 1200 and 4800 x 1200 dpi.                  ble. Some manufacturers also have
      and have enough features bundled for home              The speed of printing will be a factor for   provisions to collect used cartridges for
      users, such as PictBridge support to print        those who aren’t bothered about the quality       recycling. Also, visit the manufacturer’s
      photos directly from a camera. Some               of the printer output. The manufacturer will      Web site to find out how to identify orig-
      printers also include memory card support         have listed ppm (pages per minute) figures        inal cartridges, as you may get ripped off
      and an LCD display, which allows the printer      in their specification sheet, but remember        by dealers selling refilled and repackaged
      to work without connecting it to a PC.            that real- world performance is always a          duplicates. This happens a lot in India—
      What options do I have?                           little lower. A printer with a resolution of      so beware!
      inkjets may be classified as general purpose      600 x 600 to 1200 x 1200 dpi and 20                   Do not keep your printer idle for too
      and photo inkjet printers. Do not confuse         pages per minute for a draft printout is          long (over two to three months)—the ink
      photo inkjets with photo printers: the latter     a decent buy.                                     may dry up inside the cartridge!
      are designed specifically for printing 4 x 6           If your printer is shared on a network           Some printer drivers can automati-
      (or smaller) photo-quality prints.                and you expect the printer to be accessed by      cally optimise a printout by detecting the
      What specs should I look for?                     many users at once, then a printer that has       content type for printing. This helps save
      Print quality can be inferred from the            more memory and a good processor is               ink—use it!
      resolution, which is given in dots per inch. If   preferable. For a single user, a processor-           Windows XP users can use the print
      a printer can print more dots per inch, it will   based printer isn’t an important criterion.       wizard to print pictures—the wizard lets
      print a sharper picture. But with the                  Paper can be fed from the top or from        you choose different layouts and album
      precision and increase in resolution, the         the bottom of the printer. It is up on the        sizes (such as 4 x 6) with an embedded
      speed will be compromised. If your purpose        user to decide what suits him, but a bottom       preview window.
      is to print photos, then you should consider      (horizontal tray) feed is generally preferred,        You can print images onto iron-on-
      a good-quality inkjet printer with a high         since papers can be left in the tray without      transfer sheets and then iron them on
      resolution, even if it is more expensive and      worrying about paper folds.                       to any clothing. Make sure you print in
                                                                                                          Best mode when doing this.

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                                                           LAPTOP ACCESSORIES
         D
                 esktop computers today happen             What is the warranty available on the             to get warm. Those with poor ventila-
                 to be some of the most powerful           product?                                          tion can run really hot. Laptop coolers
                 computers ever made! Unfortu-             Some dealers are reluctant to give any            generally consist of large cooling fans
         nately, they aren’t portable! But laptops         warranty at all on products such as               that run really quiet and provide effi-
         are now rivalling desktop computers in            Bluetooth dongles, USB hubs, cheap                cient cooling. Power consumption is
         terms of processing power. And we’re              headphones, etc.                                  very low, at a max of 110 mW, with the
         not just talking about working with               If the product goes bad, will it be               cooler drawing power from the laptop’s
         spreadsheets or word documents; it’s              replaced, or will it be repaired?                 USB port.
         also about multimedia and gaming.                 Replacement is the option you should
              However, since laptops are meant to          be looking at.
         be carried around, there are some issues          What is the turnaround time for the
         they all have to contend with. These              product if it has to be repaired?
         include issues such as cooling, battery           Will you be provided with a stop-gap
         life, and more. With rising laptop sales          solution during this period? Most deal-
         everywhere, manufacturers have been               ers will be reluctant to answer this
         made to sit up and take notice. This has          question.
         brought about interesting innovations
         that improve your laptop computing                Usage tips
         experience—which is what we’ll talk               Accessories available for the lapto-
         about here.                                       prange from batteries to exotic-cooling
                                                           systems that keep a laptop running cool               Connectivity dongles: In today’s age
         Questions to ask the dealer                       for hours on end.                                 of Bluetooth and FireWire, it is a draw-
          Does the product come from a well-                  Extra Batteries: If your work involves         back to not have these connectivity
          known company?                                   a lot of hours with the laptop, you               options on your laptop. Off-the-shelf
          There are plenty of no-name companies            should definitely consider getting your-          USB devices are available that connect
          in the market that make laptop                   self an extra battery pack.                       to the USB port on the laptop, and offer
          accessories; the quality of these isn’t             Laptop Cooler: This is a must-buy for          you the power of using both Bluetooth
          great, and some can actually harm                any laptop user. Irrespective of how long         and FireWire devices on the go!
          your laptop.                                     they are used, laptops have a tendency                Speakers: So you’re in this hotel
                                                                                                             room far away from home, and want to
          Points To Ponder                                                                                   listen to some music. But you’d rather
                                                                                                             listen to silence than your tinny laptop
      We’re here assuming you already have a laptop      Does your laptop consume a lot of power?            speakers! Well, there happen to be
      and are looking to purchase accessories for it.    Calculate the amount of time your laptop            speakers available for just this kind of
      Now, it’s only you who can determine your          battery runs. If it doesn’t run long enough for     situation. Laptop speakers connect to
      usage pattern and identify issues related to it.   you, consider a battery pack.                       the laptop’s sound card, and in most
      Here’s a list we think should be foremost on       Does your laptop have the necessary                 cases are self-powered. Some manufac-
      your mind when you’re buying an accessory for      connectivity options for you to remain              turers also offer USB connectivity,
      your laptop.                                       truly mobile?                                       where the speakers connect to the
      What is the number of hours you use your           By connectivity options, we mean Bluetooth,         laptop using the USB port and draw
      laptop for at a stretch?                           FireWire etc.                                       power from the port.
      As you’ve probably experienced, laptops have       Do you use your laptop mostly for work and              USB mouse and keyboard: Not many
      a tendency to generate a lot of heat, more so      for some entertainment, or vice-versa?              people are comfortable with the touch-
      with poorly-designed laptops that have little      This is important since if you are looking for      pad, or with the pointing stick for that
      or no room for ventilation. Also, are you          entertainment on the move, your priority of         matter. Laptop keyboards are cramped
      doing yourself harm by working so long at          laptop accessories will be different from that of   in most cases, and are un-ergonomic. A
      the laptop?                                        users who use the laptop solely for work.           USB mouse and keyboard can provide
                                                                                                             considerable relief.

158      DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
          Digital Tools l Buyer’s Guide




                                                                                     LASER PRINTERS
          P
                rices of laser printers have fallen          most, so take a typical document that               What interface and operating system
                significantly over the past few              you would print and test the printer’s              support is available?
                months, but they are still more              output before you lug it all the way to             Almost all printers support USB 2.0, but
          expensive than their inkjet counterparts.          your home or office. If you like what you           you should check for additional connec-
          Laser printers have the advantage of               see, buy it; if you don’t, remember that            tivity options such as parallel and
          speed and running costs over inkjets,              this is the output when it’s new—it’s only          FireWire. Also check the operating
          but it is still a considerable initial             going to get worse with time.                       systems supported by the manufacturer,
          investment.                                        What is the duty cycle for the bundled              and whether they provide the drivers for
              The technology involved in printing            toner as well as a new toner?                       all supported OSes.
          is different in the two cases, therefore           The bundled toner normally has
          the nature of output and media type for            a lower duty cycle than a new toner.
          printing will merit some consideration.            Also enquire about the cost of
              Consider your needs, features and              toner cartridges, as they vary between
          specifications, the volume of usage and            printer brands.
          the content you need to print—after all,           Is the printer network-ready?
          you’re buying the printer to print!                Some printers are network-ready and can
                                                             be directly connected to a LAN. Some
          Questions to ask the dealer                        printers offer optional networking capa-
          Can I test the printer?                            bility, allowing you to add a network
          You know what you need to print the                card later.

           Points To Ponder                                                                                      Interesting facts
                                                                                                                 The laser printer’s roller pulls in a sheet
      Does a laser printer suit my purpose?                it to flip the page. This saves a lot of time and     of paper from the tray; the charged
      Laser printers are fast and give crisp text and      also printing costs, as you can utilise both          roller causes the paper to stick. The print-
      graph printing. They can print page after page       sides of a page.                                      ing drum is given the opposite charge. A
      with ease and accuracy. This suggests that           Networking is a very important option for             laser scans the surface of the drum and
      laser printers are great for high-volume             business and SoHo environments, where                 discharges it, leaving only those points
      output with their high speed and low cost per        multiple uses access the same printer. You can        that correspond to text and graphics
      page. If you are a photographer and your             share the printer directly on the network and         charged. The charged toner particles on
      work involves printing on photographic               allow users to directly print on it!                  the drum stick to the oppositely charged
      sheets, stick to inkjet printing. If you are in a    It is good to have an LCD display on the printer;     paper. Finally, the fusing rollers heat the
      business that requires a large number                this helps you better interact with the printer. In   paper and melt the toner, permanently
      documents to be printed on a daily basis,            some situations, the printer just doesn’t act as      fusing it onto the paper’s surface.
      laser printers would be a good choice.               you would like—this is when an LCD comes to
      What type of laser printer should I buy?             the rescue and tells you that the printer is low      Usage tips
      Mono and colour are the two basic types of           on toner or that the paper is jammed!                    Occasionally turn the printer Off to
      laser printers. If your work involves more of              If you are looking for a network printer,       reduce the downtime and provide
      B&W text, opt for a mono-laser printer.              ensure that you have enough memory buffer.            cooling time to the heating elements
      What are the specifications for a laser              Sufficient memory buffer means speeding up of         and laser.
      printer?                                             the printing process, because many users will            To share a printer on a network,
      Let us not discuss specs that are available on       access the printer simultaneously.                    attach it to a computer that acts as a
      the leaflets of every printer. Let’s look at those   Although size is not as important as the above        server. Provide an alias and auto installa-
      that are present in one printer and not in the       features, it does matter if your office is small      tion of drivers on the remote computer.
      other; the ones that make all the difference.        and space is at a premium. Bigger devices                Do not use special media such as iron-
      Automatic duplex printing prints on both sides       handle more workload; so decide what is               on transfer sheets and thin photo-qual-
      of the paper. You do not have to stand next to       more important.                                       ity paper—these may cause severe
                                                                                                                 damage to the printer.

160       DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                              Digital Business l Case Study

                                                                                   Digital

     166 Wiki At Work 170 Linux vs 190 Integrated
                          Windows      Security
                                                                                   Business
                                                                                   How Technology Can Help Your Organisation




    Case Study




   Shifting Spaces
                                                                                       In what follows, we have tried to analyse
                                Preethi Chamikutty                                 why companies that were once entirely dot-
                                                                                   coms are focussing on offline areas of work as
    Online businesses                   n a cutthroat market, it’s essential for   well? And why do they feel the need to look at
    also need to                  I     businesses to think of different ways to
                                        hold their own. As the Web space sees
                                                                                   offline methods at all.

    engage in offline           increasingly ruthless competition, businesses      The Need For Change
    activities to               that were hitherto exclusively online, are now     Over the past couple of decades, methods have
                                establishing an offline presence to ensure their   been developed to precisely rate the effective-
    supplement their            survival and growth. In fact, Web sites such as    ness of various marketing platforms. And mar-
    business and                Monster.com, Timesjobs.com and Shaadi.com          keting on the Internet is not the same as
                                among others are now vigorously supple-            marketing offline.
    facilitate growth           menting their business with offline activities.        JuxtConsult, a research firm based in New
                                    Shaadi.com attributes as much as 60 per        Delhi, conducted a survey in April 2005 of
                                cent of its growth to its offline initiatives.     Internet usage in India. They found that
                                Timesjobs.com attributes its tagline—“fastest      Internet penetration in India stands at a mere
                                growing jobsite”—to its offline activities as      2 per cent. The Internet in India is, for the
                                well. The media plans of most large online         most part, limited to the metros, with the per-
                                businesses now include offline advertising         centage of rural Internet users being practi-
                                and promotions as an integral part. However,       cally negligible. Also, over 50 per cent of Web
                                this is not limited to advertising—offline         users in Indian metros are between the ages
                                events, too, play an important part.               of 19 and 30, and another 22 per cent between




Illustration Chaitanya Surpur
      Digital Business l Case Study
      the ages of 31 and 40. “Young and urban”,                                            Omprakash Hassanandani, business head of
      therefore, is quite accurately the demographic                                   Shaadi Point, says, “In India, even today, par-
      of the Internet user in India.                                                   ents are the decision makers, and they tend not
          If, as an online business, you limit your                                    to use the Internet. So apart from the Web site,
      marketing to the Web, you restrict yourself                                      we had to come up with an idea to reach this
      from reaching prospective customers who are                                      segment. Shaadi Point enables us to do that.
      mostly patrons of traditional media—those                                        We also conduct three to four Swayamvars
      who are not young and do not live in urban                                       monthly in different cities. This gives a plat-
      areas. Offline advertising helps reach out to                                    form to people to see, meet and talk with each
      people who may not be Internet-savvy. While,                                     other in person.”
      newspapers have been the preferred medium                                            Fropper.com, a People Interactive (I) Pvt Ltd
      to advertise, exhibitions and TV advertise-                                      initiative, is a friendship, dating and net-
      ments are also being used.                          Our presence in the          working site all in one. Started in 2003,
                                                          newspapers is a              Fropper.com has a one million-strong member
      Methods Of Promotion                                result of                    base, and it also has a gamut of offline activi-
      Dhruvkanth        Shenoy,     VP,    marketing,     relationships built          ties to supplement its online presence.
      Monster.com, says, “Offline activities, espe-       over the last few                Navin Mittal, business head, Fropper.com,
      cially TV and newspapers, help us build a           years, which                 says, “Conducting offline, live events is chal-
      stronger brand salience over a long period.         provides offline             lenging. Apart from online promos, we hold
      Actual results in terms of visits to the site are   readers as well as           public events such as shows, concerts, and
      faster through Internet advertising, though,        online users                 exhibitions that are open to the public, and
      as we are an Online brand. Apart from news-         more choice                  advertised in other media. We also promote
      papers, we have exclusive alliances with some       in job search”               Fropper.com by sponsoring college festivals, as
      popular magazines.”                                 Dhruvkanth Shenoy            the youth are the main target audience.”
          Timesjobs.com, too, uses a blend of offline     Vice President, Marketing,
      mediums. R Sundar, director corporate and           Monster.com                  Sign Of The Times
      head, Internet initiatives of Bennett Coleman                                    Offline media events encourage customers to
      and Company Ltd, says, “Each medium, offline                                     go online, become members and then avail of
      or online, has its own strengths, and any media                                  more benefits. As with Timesmatri.com, the
      plan is incomplete if both are not taken into                                    idea is not to branch out into some kind of
      account. We aim to reach the audience in every                                   offline enterprise. However, in the case of
      medium. There are millions of highly-skilled                                     Fropper.com, people who attend their offline
      unemployed or underemployed youth across                                         event need to eventually go to its site—which
      India. Like any FMCG marketing company, we’d                                     helps to cement the online brand.
      like to reach our target audience through an                                         Shaadi.com plans to increase the number
      effective combination of various media.”                                         of franchises for Shaadi Point to 500 across the
          It’s clear that ignoring offline media is no                                 globe. International expansion, prospect
      longer an option. Even a dot com has to think                                    grooming programs, pre-marital workshops,
      like any other brick-and-mortar company for                                      wedding planning and lots more is on
      effective market.                                                                the cards. Fropper.com wants to enable people
          Apart from job portals, matrimonial sites                                    to connect to each other in every possible way.
      such as Shaadi.com and Timesmatri.com are                                        Brand building in the form of promotions
      also increasingly concentrating on offline pro-                                  on mobile phones, hiking trips, singles-night-
      motions and events. The former holds Shaadi                                      out programs etc. is what Fropper.com has
      Point, which has been a great success. While,                                    planned for.
      Timesmatri organises the Timesmatri.com
      Swayamvar. In these events, prospective brides                                   Offline Is Essential In India
      and grooms can meet each other along with                                        Only when the majority starts looking at the
      their parents.                                                                   Internet as an alternative to newspaper classi-
          However, the primary objective of these                                      fieds, will there be a real breakthrough for
      Swayamvars, according to Sundar is, “to build                                    online businesses in India.
      the Timesmatri.com brand and increase usage                                          Internet use is mainly limited to the met-
      of the site.” While these events were not                                        ros—so while Monster.com, Shaadi.com,
      designed to be purely offline undertakings; the                                  Timesjobs.com, Fropper.com are primarily
      need to cement the presence of the site is an                                    online businesses, they need to ensure that
      important factor.                                                                people also see them elsewhere—at least for the
          For instance, Shaadi Point is a network of                                   coming decade. Offline activities act as value-
      centres—retail outlets—across India. Every                                       additions for online businesses by building
      Shaadi Point is connected to a central database                                  brand awareness, and encouraging people to
      of prospective brides and grooms through a                                       go online.
      specific proprietary technology. This creates a                                      Physical presence, for these businesses,
      pool of all prospective brides and grooms all                                    helps them gain the credibility and trust of the
      over India, and is available to Shaadi Point                                     masses. By and large, Indians still prefer a
      members from any Shaadi Point Centre.                                            touch-and-feel approach when it comes to
          Shaadi Point Centres offer people                                            buying, investing or match-making! So, for
      the facility to add their bio-data to the central                                online businesses, offline activities—be it set-
      database, search for a suitable match,                                           ting up shop in remote areas to organising
      and communicate with them, regardless of                                         glitzy events—are here to stay.
      their location.                                                                                    preethi_chamikutty@thinkdigit.com

164   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
      Digital Business l Smart Business

      A lot of
      businesses today
      spend good
      amount of
      money on
                            Wiki At Work
                                                                                  Wikipedia.org, the most well-known user of this
      software that         Mithun Kidambi                                        tool, and this connection often results in people
      offer basic                                                                 assuming that ‘wiki’ and Wikipedia are synony-
                                      ne of the key processes in any office is    mous. As a matter of fact, ‘wiki’ in Hawaiian
      information
      sharing, but           O        that of managing knowledge resources.
                                      It could be a small publication or Web
                                                                                  means ‘quick’ or ‘fast’.
                                                                                       In computing terminology, it is the revolu-
      we’re here to tell    site with a bank of articles and features to          tionary tool that is talking matter from Atlanta
                            manage, or a BPO that takes care of client infor-     to Zambia. Over time, the ‘wiki’ definition has
      you how a Wiki        mation. It has become imperative to come up           come to mean the act of creating a wiki as well.
      can do the same       with an easy solution for knowledge manage-           By Wikipedia’s own definition, the wiki is a sim-
                            ment (KM), courtesy its growing awareness             plification of the process of creating HTML
      thing for free!       among companies. The solution would be per-           pages. This results in a very effective way of
                            fect if it were to feature a high degree of trans-    exchanging information.
                            parency while being collaborative.                         How does this happen? A wiki can be used to
                                Looking at this growing demand, companies         co-author documents on the Web, documents
                            are churning out software that fulfils this need.     that will eventually look and act as a Web page.
                            There is a catch, however—that of price. Never-       And this will not need any programming or dab-
                            theless, wherever there is proprietary and expen-     bling in any code from your side. All you’d need
                            sive enterprise software, you’ll find open source     is the software and a Web browser. The flexibility
                            and freeware replacements. Many a time, these         afforded by the tool makes it easy to maintain
                            work better and offer far more flexibility than       records or any form of database.
                            their pricey counterparts.                                 To quote again from Wikipedia, “A single
                                Collaborative software is something that          page in a wiki is referred to as a ‘wiki page’,
                            allows several users to concurrently create and       while the entire body of pages, usually highly
                            manage information on a Web site or network of        interconnected via hyperlinks, is ‘the wiki’; in
                            pages. A wiki is a strong example of such software.   effect, a very simple, easier-to-use database.’
                            Everyone associates the word ‘wiki’ with




166   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005                                                                                   3D Modelling Vikram Kathare
                                                                                Digital Business l Smart Business
                         The Origin Of The Wiki
In layman’s              The first wiki site was developed by Ward
terms, a wiki can        Cunningham, who received a Master’s degree
create a Web             in computer science from Purdue University in
page for you             1995. He was working at the Portland Pattern
without you              Repository, and he called his idea the
                         WikiWikiWeb.
having to fiddle             In the late 1990s, wikis were seen as a very
around with              efficient way to develop and maintain both
any code                 public and private knowledge bases. This lead to
                         a number of online collaborative ventures
                         opting to use this tool. Most notable among
                         these was Wikipedia.
                             Enterprises soon followed suit, looking at the
                         advantages provided by the tool. Very soon,
                         tasks, project schedules and documentation,
                         office intranets and other forms of internal com-
                         munication in offices were managed using
                         wikis. The spurt in the use of wikis saw com-
                         mercial versions of the tool being offered.
                             The most widely used wiki software was
                         SocialText, by a company by the same name. Based
                         on the Kwiki software, it was one of the earliest
                         enterprise wikis, and was available as a hosted
                         service from the company’s server, or as a package
                         that could be installed on the client server.
                             Free, open source downloads of wiki soft-
                         ware, too, were available. A few of them, such as
                         MediaWiki, were customised to handle specific
                         tasks including hosting video clips and audio
                         files. Others such as Twiki and Kwiki could be
                         customised to a large extent and worked much
                         like a Content Management System. These tools,
                         when installed on an office intranet, would be
                         sufficient to take care of all resource manage-
                         ment and knowledge management needs.

                         Wikis: The What And The Why
                         Now what exactly does a wiki do, and why is it
                         beneficial to implement it on an office network?
                         Putting it simply, a wiki is a tool that allows
                         anyone to contribute, edit, and browse through
                         content on a network or Web site. In layman’s
                         terms, a wiki can create a Web page for you
                         without you having to fiddle around with any
                         code. All you need to do is enter the required
                         text after selecting the template format (just like
                         in a blog), create links, and you have a site ready.
                             To create a new page or a link, most Wikis have
                         an “Edit” or “Create” tab at the top. You click on
                         this tab and enter the link name. Most wikis
                         require you to enter the link as a WikiWord.

    The Advantages Of Collaborative Tools
 Collaborative management tools facilitate and manage group activities.
 These include:
   Electronic calendars (also called time management software)—schedule
   events and automatically notify and remind group members
   Project management systems—schedule, track, and chart the steps in a
   project as it is being completed
   Workflow systems—collaborative management of tasks and documents
   within a knowledge-based business process
   Knowledge management systems—collect, organise, manage, and share
   various forms of information
   Social software systems—organise social relations of groups
 Collaborative software can be either Web-based, such as UseModWiki and
 Scoop, or desktop systems such as CVS or RCS.


                                                                                                  DIGIT DECEMBER 2005   167
      Digital Business l Smart Business
                                                                               Most wikis on the Web have a non-linear navi-
                                                           Newer search        gational structure, which means that the links
                                                           engines such as     to other areas in the wiki are found in the body
                                                           MetaWiki allow      of the text. This leads to massive cross-linkages,
                                                           users to search     and can be too confusing at times.
                                                                                   In the case of an office wiki, however, a hier-
                                                           across a number     archical navigational structure is preferred. This
                                                           of wikis            looks and acts in the same way as a Web site
                                                                               with sections and sub-sections.




      Creating a new page in WYSIWYG, HTML or XML format

      WikiWords are two or more words written in
      title case without any space between them, for
      instance, NewLink. The Wiki recognises these
      as links and no HTML is required to link to
      these words.
          Alternatively, you can also use normal words
      and hyperlink it to the required URL. This how-
      ever is just a roundabout way of doing things.                           Links and place holders are differentiated by their colour
      Creating a link in Wiki using WikiWords is a
      two-step process. After you finish entering the                              Searching for content on a wiki is similar to
      link name in the template and saving it, you                             doing so on any other intranet. Because of the
      have created what is called a place holder. This                         nature of most wikis—that of being a repository
      is essentially a link to an empty page.                                  or database of knowledge—search is a very
          These place holders (see screenshot on the                           important aspect. The basic search options of
      right) are shown as a link with a question                               title search and full text search is the norm in
      mark at the end. To convert them to full links                           most setups.
      all you need to do is click on them and type in                              Newer search engines such as MetaWiki
      the required text in the template provided.                              allow users to search across a number of wikis.
      This converts the place holders to links like                            This comes in handy if each department in your
      any other link on the Web. This ensures that                             workplace were to have its own wiki.
      adding a new section on a wiki or scheduling                                 Unlike regular intranets, which require a
      a new task which requires creating a new page                            large amount of installation on the internal
      is as easy as editing content. This mechanism                            server, a wiki can run efficiently with minimal
      of creating pages by using links makes sure                              installation on a server or even on individual
      orphan pages (pages that lead to and from                                computers. The content in any wiki is stored on
      nowhere) are not created.                                                the server as plain text. This makes sure that
          The links could be within the body of the                            very minimal server space is needed to store any
      text, or the section heads on your site could be                         data.
      links as well, just as with any regular Web site.                            The wiki engine is the only code that is
                                                                               stored on the machine. The wiki thus acts as a
           Wikis For Free!                                                     very basic HTML server that translates plain text
                                                                               into a page that can be accessed over any net-
       Name of Wiki          Website                   Type                    work with all the required formatting. Because
       TWiki                 www.twiki.org             Download from the Net   of this minimal use of hard-disk space, the wiki
       JotSpot               www.jot.com               Hosted on the Net       can be setup on any computer connected to a
       Xwiki                 www.xwiki.com             Hosted on the Net       network and not just a server as with other Web
       TiddlyWiki            www.tiddlywiki.com        Hosted on the Net       sites. Thus the Wiki can be classified into two
       Quake Wiki            www.wiki.quakesrc.org     Download from the Net   different types as per their installation: server-
       MediaWiki             www.mediawiki.org         Download from the Net   side wiki and client-side wiki.
       SeedWiki              www.seedwiki.com          Hosted on the Net           Most establishments prefer a server-side
                                                                               wiki, as it makes sure the content is located on




168   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                              Digital Business l Smart Business
                                                                                        The Change Challenge
                                                             The biggest                According to Cunningham, wikis are designed
                                                             hurdle in                  with the philosophy of making it easy to correct
                                                             implementing a             mistakes, rather than making it difficult to
                                                             tool like the wiki         make them. The most common grouse against
                                                                                        the use of wikis is also its biggest plus—anyone
                                                             is convincing              can open and edit or create a page in a wiki.
                                                             people about                   To keep vandals away and to verify the
                                                             the feasibility of         validity of an addition or editing, wikis provide
                                                             the software               for a ‘Recent Changes’ link. This gives a list of all
                                                                                        the additions and changes done to a particular
                                                                                        wiki within a certain timeframe.
                                                                                            Some wikis can also filter this list and
    A wiki can handle a number of different tasks                                       remove minor edits as well as changes made to
                                                                                        the document by bots that crawl the Web. This
    a central server and not spread across a number                                     feature is very useful when your wiki is open to
    of terminals. Also, centralised handling and                                        the Internet. A typical case would be for docu-
    storage of content makes sure no data is lost if                                    mentation of software or program development
    one of the local terminal crashes.                                                  with developers strewn across the globe, as is the
        The most common operations on a wiki,                                           case with development of most open source tools
    such as editing and creating pages of content,                                      and application software.
    and managing schedules including the control                                            In addition to the ‘Recent Changes’ link,
    functions on a wiki page, are on the server. The                                    every wiki has a Revision History, which shows
    engine that forms the core of the software—                                         previous page versions, and where the
    also called a wiki engine—renders the content                                       differences between the two versions are
    in the same way a Web browser renders pages.                                        highlighted. This enables any person accessing
        In a client-side wiki setup, individual com-                                    a particular page to make note of the change,
    puters act as servers, only the data files are                                      and this comes in handy for processes that
    located on the central server, which acts as a                                      change frequently and need to be documented.
    database. All the execution needed to convert                                           A regular wiki user can view the differences in
    the wiki text into a normal display page is                                         an edit listed on the ‘Recent Changes’ page and, if
    found in the browser used by each terminal.                                         something is an unacceptable edit, he can consult
        Similarly, all the tools for creating, editing,                                 the history and restore a previous revision.
    saving and managing documents and schedules,                                            Apart from this, the tool has various other in-
    or for taking any other action, are present in the                                  built customised filters, that provide high levels
    browser as a plugin. Such plugins are available as                                  of content control. Some Wikis use login and pass-
    downloads for most browsers such as Mozilla and                                     word authentication and can thus track which
    Firefox; other browsers such as Flock have these                                    user made changes and when. This type of Wiki is
    plug-ins bundled with the installation files.                                       used in offices. Other tools include ones that mon-
        This flexibility afforded by the application                                    itor a page quality, and send alerts to the admin-
    makes it highly customisable. You can decide                                        istrator whenever modifications are marked on a
    where to host the application, depending on                                         page. This feature is useful for pages that detail a
    the size of the wiki and the number of users.                                       particular method to do a process or to house case
                                                                                        studies, where changes are not frequent.
    The Easy Wiki Way
Wiki Syntax               HTML                                   Rendered Output
                                                                                        The Collaborative Game
                                                                                        The biggest hurdle in implementing a tool
A simple WYSIWYG          <p>                                    A simple WYSIWYG
                                                                                        like the wiki is convincing people about the
format makes typing       A simple <em>WYSIWYG</em> format       format makes typing
                                                                                        feasibility of the software. Training and incen-
out a text in a wiki so   makes typing out a text in a wiki so   out a text in a wiki
                                                                                        tives are very important to get people accus-
easy. What are the        easy. What are the advantages?         so easy. What are
                                                                                        tomed to, and contribute to, the system. A
advantages?               </p>                                   the advantages?
                                                                                        major shift in the mindset of the company,
Using Wiki does away      <p>                                    Using Wiki does
                                                                                        however big, is necessary to implement the
with the cumbersome       Using Wiki does away with the          away with the
                                                                                        wiki; the move will have to be from corporate
HTML codes.               cumbersome <em>HTML</em> codes.        cumbersome HTML
                                                                                        to co-operative.
                          </p>                                   codes.
                                                                                                            mithun_kidambi@thinkdigit.com




                                                                                                                        DIGIT DECEMBER 2005     169
             Enterprise Servers: Linux vs Windows
                                The common perception is that Linux is more secure than Windows.
                                        How does that translate for enterprise servers?

      The Linux server makes for a                                  Performance-wise, Windows
      stable and robust choice                                      server is one of the fastest

      A                                                             S
             n FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods)                          atNav develops hi-tech, computer-aided facilities man-
             company, Eveready Industries India Limited has               agement (CAFM) products, and provides facilities
             a portfolio comprising dry cell batteries,                   management to industries. It conceptualised an in-
      flashlights and packet tea. The world’s third-largest         car navigation system, an in-house routing engine, and a
      producer of carbon zinc batteries, Eveready sells more        vehicle tracking system amongst others.
      than a billion units a year. In India, Eveready’s carbon          “While developing our business infrastructure man-
      zinc batteries dominate the market, with a complete           agement system, we decided to go for a server that had a
      range for all equipment types.                                user-friendly interface and would be easy to deploy and
          “We chose a Linux server due to many factors. The         administer. We didn’t want to compromise on the reliabil-
      primary reason being our ERP package, which is the            ity, scalability and performance of the server. We found
      Oracle e-business suite. Since Oracle also supports           the Windows server to be suitable for our requirements.




                                       “One factor that put                  “Microsoft IIS 6 is the
                                       Linux hugely in our                   platform of choice for
                                       favour was the issue                        business-critical
                                       of security”                                   enterprises”

      Arup Choudhury                                                                                      Selvamuthiah Somasundaram
      GM, IT                                                                                              Associate VP,
      Eveready Industries Ltd                                                                             Business Development, SatNav


      Linux, we felt it would be ideal for us to use a Linux            “The Windows server is one of the fastest, and also an
      server. Also, as opposed to Windows, Linux offers             industry leader in performance and scalability. Be it file-
      better security and stability.                                server throughput or serving static or dynamic Web con-
          “It cannot be denied that Linux servers are               tent, Windows servers are fast and reliable.
      certainly affordable vis-à-vis Windows servers. In our            “Microsoft IIS 6, the Web server for Windows Server
      case, we have been using Linux for more than a year.          2003, is the platform of choice for business-critical enter-
      And so far, we haven’t encountered any difficulties           prises. It provides the sophistication vital for today’s Web
      with its functioning. Moreover, we are yet to                 server. With it we could build a highly secure environ-
      experience any downtime with it! Even the cost of             ment, manage application pools and create clusters to
      usage for the Linux server is considerably lower than         achieve maximum uptime.
      that of Windows.                                                  “As far as site hosting capabilities of the Windows serv-
          “Another major factor that put Linux hugely in our        er are concerned, sites developed using different tech-
      favour was the issue of security. As opposed to               nologies such as ASP, .NET, and PHP can be hosted. The
      Windows, it cannot be denied that only a few viruses          Windows server includes Enterprise UDDI (Universal
      have cracked the Unix kernel till date.                       Description, Discovery and Integration) Services and a
          “We have a very convenient setup when it comes to         dynamic and flexible infrastructure for XML Web services.
      maintenance and support. As a matter of fact, we have         This standards-based solution enables companies to run
      a three-tier support. We are using the Advanced Server        their own UDDI directory for intranet or extranet use,
      3.0 provided by Red Hat, which also takes care of             making it easy to discover Web services and other pro-
      implemeting new concepts. Our performance issues              grammatic resources.
      are handled by Oracle, and our day-to-day downloads               “Our intranet is developed on .NET and with an MS SQL
      by Tata Consultancy Services.                                 Server backend. And as regards service, being members of
          “From experience, we can declare that a Linux             the MS Empower Program, we could access the support
      server makes for a stable and robust choice. Moreover,        team for any technical queries. The support we get is excel-
      due to its affordability, Linux enjoys a huge popularity      lent, with an unbelievable turnaround time.”
      in the Asia-Pacific region. It is a sign of times to come.”                                            As told to Renuka Rane
                                                                                                        renuka_rane@thinkdigit.com

170   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                               Trend


                                                       C
                                                              isco’s security approach stems from its
                                                              self-defending network strategy.
                                                              Essentially, we integrate security in every
                                                       aspect of the network to create an end-to-end
                                                       integrated system. This helps the network
                                                       identify threats, react accordingly as per risk
                                                       levels, isolate infected endpoints, and
                                                       reconfigure the network resources in response
                                                       to an attack or anomalous behaviour. This
                                                       enables networks to deal with threats on their
                                                       own, with minimal human intervention.
                                                           All enterprises look at lower total cost of
                                                       ownership (TCO) for any product or solution.
                               Jagdish Mahapatra       Security is no exception. Comprehensive
                               Regional Manager,       security solutions are cost-effective and easy, as
                               Channels,               opposed to separate security devices that are
                               Cisco India and SAARC   resource-hungry, and difficult to manage.
                                                           Comprehensive security solutions integrate
                                                       various functionalities like IDS, VPN, anti-virus
                                                       and authentication into a single device, with
                                                       provision for scalability and compatibility.




                                                               Integrated
                                     Companies are increasingly opting for integrated security solutions vis-à-vis varied
                                     point-to-point options. Digit tries to examine the reason for this trend...




                                                                                                            O
                                                                                                                    ur integrated security solutions
                                                                                                                    comprise Firebox X Edge, a line of
                                                                                                                    firewall and VPN endpoint security
                                                                                                            appliances. They deliver network protection to
                                                                                                            small businesses, remote offices and
                                                                                                            telecommuters. For instance, the Firebox SSL
                                                                                                            Core VPN Gateway is a product designed
                                                                                                            specifically for growing enterprises that allows
                                                                                                            authorised users to connect through an auto-
                                                                                                            updating, Web-deployed client, among
                                                                                                            other features.
                                                                                                                Customers are fed up of piece-meal
                                                                                                            solutions and would like one vendor to take
                                                                                                            care of all the threats, and hence would prefer
                                                                                  Ajit Pillai               an integrated appliance. We also provide Live
                                                                                  Country Manager,          Security Service (LSS) to registered customers.
                                                                                  WatchGuard                This includes software maintenance, technical
                                                                                  Technologies Inc          support, hardware warranty, LiveSecurity E-
                                                                                                            mail Alerts, Broadcasts, and related
                                                                                                            editorial content.
                                                                                                                We mostly cater to the growing enterprise
                                                                                                            segment, which would have anywhere between
                                                                                                            100 and 2,000 users. Earlier, different vendors
                                                                                                            offered different solutions. Now, customers get
                                                                                                            an integrated appliance and can hold one
                                                                                                            vendor responsible for the complete solution.
      Imaging Vikram Khatare




                                                                                                            We have been able to eliminate a lot of
                                                                                                            compatibility issues as well. Even globally,
                                                                                                            organisations are increasingly using integrated
                                                                                                            security solutions.

190                            DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                               B
                                     asically, a mix and match of various products make up our
                                     integrated security solution. We use WatchGuard’s firewall
                                     products, McAfee’s anti-virus solutions, Trend IMSS is our e-mail
                               scanning product and so on. We use the best and integrate them all
                               at a common place that’s centrally managed.
                                   Earlier we used point-to-point solutions. We shifted to using
                               integrated security solutions around 16 months ago. And in
                               retrospect, it was a good decision for us. Ever since the
                               implementation of the integrated solution, performance has
                               improved considerably. There has been a phenomenal increase in the
                               uptime of systems, and the loss in man-hours has declined. Other
                               related problems have also been solved (up to 95 per cent) as
                               compared to the point-to-point solution.
                                   An integrated solution is better than a point-to-point solution as
Subhasis Gupta                 the latter has innumerable points of failure. Moreover, the
AVP, Dept of IT,               maintenance cost of each and every node is rather high when
UTI Technology Services Ltd    compared to an integrated solution. The future of integrated security
                               solutions is promising, as they offer customers a good bargain.




Spells Security
                                                        T
                                                              WS doesn’t use a fully integrated security suite. We use an
                                                              integrated security platform incorporating the best of breed
                                                              components from Cisco, Symantec, F-Prot, Foundry Networks as
                                                        well as Open Source solutions such as Spam Assassin, Snort and Nagios.
                                                        TWS’s integrated security platform covers firewalls, all intra-site traffic
                                                        via private line or IPSec IP VPN, inbound and outbound e-mail for both
                                                        viruses and SPAM, and more.
                                                            When TWS’s primary business was related to dotcoms in the 1990s,
                                                        we focussed on external threats. As we entered the BPO space in early
                                                        2000, we started to look out for internal threats. This system will
                                                        continue to evolve and is a central pillar of our IT infrastructure. By
                                                        leveraging the best of breed commercial solutions with Open Source,
                                                        we delivered significant value in terms of cost-effectiveness for IT
                                                        security. We’ve never faced a violation on any of our core servers,
                               John Cumming             routers, firewalls or telecom equipment.
                               Senior VP and CIO, TWS       In the future, integrated security solutions could be integrated
                               (Tracmail, Webhelp &     considering site-specific needs, as opposed to the current one-size-fits-
                               Spherenomics)            all approach. As interoperability increases, the costs will also decline.



                               P
                                     ointsec mainly deals with endpoint security. We develop secure
                                     encryption solutions to protect enterprise information on
                                     computers and mobile devices against intrusion and data theft.
                                   For organisations who want to store confidential or classified
                               information on mobile computing devices, we have a solution for
                               automatic data encryption that extends enterprise security to the end-
                               points of the network.
                                   We cater to a wide range of customers ranging from Wipro, ITC
                               Infotech and Syntel in India to Ericsson, TeliaSonera, Telenor, Astra
                               Zeneca and CapGemini abroad.
                                   We think it is important for companies to concentrate on securing
                               enterprise data, more so, considering the increasing requirements for
                               enterprises to comply with security regulations such as the India
                               Information Technology Act, and globally, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the
                               Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the EU Data Protection Directive.
Sascha Beyer
Managing Director,                                                               As told to Preethi Chamikutty
Pointsec Middle East & India                                             (preethi_chamikutty@thinkdigit.com)

                                                                                                                 DECEMBER 2005 DIGIT   191
                                                                                Digital Leisure l Touched by Tech

                                                                         Digital

 200 Quake 4 202The Rise Of 205 The
     Reviewed   The Body Bots   Searchmeisters
                                                                        Leisure
                                                                          Technology Beyond Work



Touched By Tech


Accelerating IT Literacy
                                                   mum of three lectures to explain      Project Shiksha is part of
Tech-savvy   Renuka Rane                           photosynthesis;      now,   with      Microsoft’s Partners in Learning
teachers                                           computers, I can do it within 20      Programme, which includes


             A
                     class of 50-odd students is   minutes! And the students’ atten-     empowering students, educators,
make for             eagerly listening to their    tion is guaranteed!”                  the developer community and IT
tech-savvy           biology teacher explain the                                         professionals    by    providing
students.    action of photosynthesis. She uses    Project Shiksha                       greater access to the latest tech-




                                                                                                                              Illustration Chaitanya Surpur
             a PowerPoint presentation with        Yadav is one of the 42,000 teachers   nologies and locally tailored
Project      numerous images to elucidate the      who have undergone IT training        training content.
Shiksha      synthesis of compounds. Sound         for teachers as part of Microsoft’s       Launched by Bill Gates, chair-
             like a typical elite English-medium   Project Shiksha, which aims at        man and Chief Software Architect
brings       school? Well, the teacher is inter-   “Empowering the future.”              of Microsoft, during his visit to
technology   acting with the students in Telugu,
             and the location is the Govern-
to the       ment Boys High School at Mustaid-
masses       pura near Hyderabad.
                 The teacher, Sunita Yadav,
             claims that ever since she started
             using technology in the class-
             room, learning has become accel-
             erated, more enjoyable, and more
             interactive for students. She says,
             “Earlier, I would require a mini-
      Digital Leisure l Touched By Tech
      India in November 2002, the proj-         wherein we are working closely                              training at the Microsoft IT acad-
      ect addresses critical challenges of      with academia, universities, the                            emy at Banjara Hills. We were
      Information and Communication             developer community, as well as                             coached on many aspects—right
      Technology (ICT) access in educa-         the education departments of the                            from learning how to operate a
      tion in India.                            State and Central Government, to                            computer to using it for academics
          Project Shiksha is designed to        ensure IT adoption in the educa-                            and administration. This has
      deliver affordable software solu-         tion process at various levels.”                            helped me tremendously.”
      tions, and comprehensive train-               Microsoft also has a tie-up                                 Yadav further shares, “The
      ing and curricula—for students as         with the Navodaya Vidyalaya                                 students in my school come from
      well as teachers—in the Indian            Samiti (NVS) schools, which are         Early access to     underprivileged backgrounds, and
      government schools.                       under the Ministry of Human             technology          work in their spare time. Learning
          The Project entails an invest-        Rerource Development. In addi-          can                 with, and about technology instils
      ment of $20 million (Rs 92 crore).        tion, Microsoft is also extending       contribute          a great measure of self-confidence
      It seeks to reach out to over two         the reach of IT to students and         significantly       in them. In fact, they now
      lakh school teachers and one crore        teachers in the schools that come       towards             complete most of their assign-
      students—within a period of five          under the Municipal Corporation         creating an IT-     ments online. Knowledge of
      years. The key deliverable of the         of New Delhi.                           proficient          computers has improved their
      project is, indeed, the teacher               Kumar mentions, “Our objec-         next-               overall grasp of the subject, and
      training programme.                       tive is to take IT to the grassroots    generation          they now do better in exams.”
          Thus far, Microsoft has signed        level. We believe that early            Rohit Kumar
      Memorandums of Understanding              access to technology for students       Country Head        Promoting IT Know-How
      (MoUs) with the State Govern-             can contribute significantly            Public Sector,      So far, Project Shiksha has reached
                                                                                        Microsoft
      ments of Andhra Pradesh,                  towards creating an IT-proficient       Corporation India
                                                                                                            out to over 21 lakh students. Under
      Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh,                next generation.”                                           the programme, the Innovative
      Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan,                                                                       Teachers Leadership Awards were
      Tamil Nadu, Uttaranchal, and              Ensuring Tech-Savvy                                         announced in 2004. This year, 15
      West Bengal to implement the              Pedagogy                                                    teachers were selected from a
      Project Shiksha programme.                Under Project Shiksha, teachers                             nationwide contest; who will now
                                                are trained at Microsoft IT acad-                           attend the Microsoft regional
      Bridging The Tech Divide                  emy centres in Andhra Pradesh,                              event in Korea. This will help
      Rohit Kumar, Country Head,                Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttaran-                            Indian educators get exposure to
      Public Sector, Microsoft Corpora-         chal, Lakshwadeep, and even in                              global teaching methods.
      tion India, says, “Project Shiksha is     the Andamans. The Project has                                    Kumar adds, “In an Internet-
      a nationwide initiative, wherein          helped build an online commu-                               dominated era, we have to ensure
      Microsoft is collaborating with           nity for teacher collaboration, best-                       that the younger generation has
      state governments across India to         practice sharing, and honing of                             the ability to access, use, and
      reach students and teachers.              skill sets.                                                 adapt to the tools of our time, to
          “We have a comprehensive                  Yadav says, “In June of 2004, I                         enable them to compete at a
      India education programme                 underwent ten days of intensive                             global level. This has to be across
                                                                                                            the spectrum of population, no
                                                                                                            matter what part of the country
                                                                                                            they live in. We believe educators
                                                                                                            are essential to making this
                                                                                                            happen, and they need to be
                                                                                                            recognised for this.”
                                                                                                                Technology, it is clear, facili-
                                                                                                            tates the enhancement of teacher
                                                                                                            and student skills. Hence, it is
                                                                                                            essential      that     technology
                                                                                                            becomes an innate part of the
                                                                                                            learning process for students in
                                                                                                            all corners of India—not in A and
                                                                                                            B grade cities alone. Such initia-
                                                                                                            tives are the need of the hour, and
                                                                                                            may help turn India into a nation
                                                                                                            of computer literates.
      A teacher training class in progress. The subject—Computers!                                                     renuka_rane@thinkdigit.com




194   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                                  Consumer Durables


Sony Handycam DCR-DVD403
This Sony Handycam looks like any normal MiniDV camera; the only
difference is that it records directly on to a DVD. Superior video quali-
ty, a 5.1 surround sound recording and amazing still photography capa-
bilities make this a very good buy. As is typical for Sony camcorders,
most functions are accessed via menus on the LCD touch screen. The
menu is programmable, so you can put your most-used functions on the
first screen. For casual shooters, there is an “Easy mode” that puts the
camera in a fully automatic mode. All you need is a rewritable DVD, and
you’re ready to go and shoot your first DVD film. The camcoder’s
Rs 50,000 (approx) price tag seems affordable for all the jazz!




                                 uber Cool    Here’s a look at the latest gizmos—droolmaal that’s
                                              out of your reach. But, it never hurts to know!

                                                                        Alienware Aurora ALX
                                                                        Every self-respecting gamer knows that apart
                                                                        from the specs of his beefy machine, the looks
                                                                        also count. Most would go in for a special gaming
                                                                        case to hood their system, but there are those
                                                                        who would just pick up an Alienware.
                                                                            This computer manufacturer specialises in
                                                                                 high-end, nay, extreme desktops and lap-
                                                                                     tops. Take a look at the Alienware
Krell HEAT                                                                             Aurora ALX, this machine is pow-
If you thought Bose made the most expensive home the-                                   ered by an AMD 64 processor, 1 GB
atre systems you need to refine your search                                             RAM, dual nVidia GeForce 6800 GT
criteria. Krell, a home theatre manufacturer from                                       256 MB DDR3 graphics cards, a
Louisiana, US, is known for their super-expensive high-                                 Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS
fidelity equipment. The latest from their stable is HEAT                                7.1 audio card that supports
or the High End Audio Theatre. The set of                                              HD Audio.
16 speakers contains 2 tower speakers, 7 amplifiers, a                                     In addition, the system also has a
center speaker, 4 surround speakers and 2 sub woofers.                                 250 GB hard disk. Alienware also
If its watts that you’re looking out for, then hold your                               offers to customise your system. And
breath, the output is an earth shattering 11,500 watts!                              just so that you don’t hear the sound
Now comes the hard part. The Krell HEAT would set you                          of the system fans Alienware did away
back by around Rs 1.5 crore. Talk about home theatre                    with them altogether and instead opted for liquid
systems costing more than your house. Time to turn on                   cooling. Just for the record the Aurora costs
the HEAT!                                                               around $4,500—roughly Rs 2 lakhs.
      Consumer Durables

                                              Touch&Glide
                                              The following product
                                              isn’t exactly what
                                              you’d call a gadget. At
                                               least, it isn’t some-
                                                thing any geek would
                                                 drool over. Still, the
                                                  Oliso-Touch&Go is
                                                  an iron with a dif-
                                                 ference, or rather
                                              an iron that can carry
      its own weight. It’s one smart iron that won’t let you burn
      your shirts even if you leave it switched on and unattended.        Nuvo
      The Touch&Glide has a sensor in the handle that can sense
                                                                          Is a made-to-order robot the hallmark of a futuristic
      whether it is being held or not. The moment you leave it
                                                                          society? If you think so, then be glad for the future
      unattended, two heat resistant plastic stilts extend and lift
                                                                          is here. Meet Nuvo, an English speaking humanoid
      the iron over an inch clear off the cloth. If you want to get
                                                                          robot for home usage. Designed by the same person
      back to ironing just grab the handle and it drops back on to
                                                                          who designed the Ferrari Enzo, Nuvo is a
      the cloth. It costs around $130 (Rs 6,000 approx).
                                                                          formidable piece of technology with four sensors, a
                                                                          dual-microphone, speaker and wireless LAN. It can
                                                                          understand and respond to many different verbal
      Sony KDE-P61MRX1                                                    commands and can be controlled via any Web
                                                                          browser. It can walk up and extend its hand when
      The Sony KDE-P61MRX1 is sure to rivet your attention.               meeting someone, play MP3s on demand. Because
      Take the sheer sheer size of this Plasma Panel TV—at                these babies are made to order it is sure to burn a
      61”, it is one of the largest televisions available today.          hole in your pocket. Drool worthy indeed!
      This high-end marvel is integrated with all the latest
      media features. These include a Memory Stick recording
      device, a PC input so that you can watch the
      latest Internet TV episodes on your
      widescreen at a resolution of 1365 x 768.
      And of course, it is HD-TV enabled. The
      sound department is well equipped with a
      Virtual Dolby surround sound and BBE
      digital sound processing. Of course that
      size needs adequate support so Sony gives
      you a choice of either a wall mount or a
      stand.
          Now, you may wonder why would Sony
      give any accessory as part of the unit?
      Here’s the answer. This flat panel wonder
      costs £14,000 a piece. Converting it into
      rupees doesn’t quite cut the ice as the price
      would double with all your taxes and
      duties. Suffice to say, could buy a Mercedes
      for the same price.




196   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                 Countries, Companies, And Cellulose
                                                                                                                            of mechanisms
                                   1 What is the                               4 Which country has the highest           c) An undocumented bug
                                      online term for                             per capita rate of broadband
                                 books that originate                        connectivity—70 per cent?                   d) A bug, a fix for which the
                                 from Web logs?                              a) Norway          c) The UK                   developers are willing to pay
                                                                             b) South Korea d) The US
                                 a) boogs
                                 b) blogbooks                                                                               9 Which is the first country
                                 c) blooks               d) webooks            5 Which of the following is                    that has allowed its citizens
                                                                                   not reported to be amongst            to vote over the Internet in
                                                                             the list of the most common                 national elections?
                                                                             passwords?                                  a) Estonia        c) Germany
                                  2 Which of the following has               a) “Love”         c) “Hate”                 b) Finland        d) The UK
                                     not been offered as an                  b) “Sex”          d) “Lucky”
                               explanation for the origin of the                                                           10 Which of the following is not
                               term ‘bug’?                                     6 Which country recently                        known for being a
                               a) The cellulose in early computers                 expressed concern that the            microprocessor manufacturer?
                                  attracted larvae, which attacked           United States could cut off its             a) Transmeta      c) Logitech
                                  the storage media                          Internet access anytime it                  b) SiS            d) Centaur
                               b) A certain programming pioneer              wanted to?                                                       Technology
                                  had the habit of exclaiming “I’ll          a) Iraq           c) Iceland
                                  be buggered!” whenever an error
                                  came up
                                                                             b) Iran           d) Ireland
                                                                                                                           I BM’s first hard disk,
                                                                                                                             introduced in
                                                                                                                           1956, was the           Did You
                               c) In the 19th century, telegraphy              7 Name, in order, the top three
                                  keyers had a graphic of a beetle                players in the international             RAMAC. It had a          Know?
                                  on them                                    hard disk market.                             capacity of about 5
                               d) A moth was responsible for the             a) Samsung, Maxtor, WD                        MB. And the storage cost
                                  Harvard Mark II computer being             b) Samsung, WD, Seagate                       per MB—mind you, not GB—
                                  shut down for a while                      c) Seagate, WD, Hitachi                       was about $10,000!
                                                                             d) Seagate, Hitachi, Fujitsu                 Answers
      Got an                      3 How many English pages do                                                            10. c) Logitech       5. d) “Lucky”
      interesting                    Google, Yahoo! and MSN                    8 What is an ‘Easter Egg’                 9. a) Estonia         4. b) South Korea
      question?                respectively index, based on a                      in software?                          of mechanisms         lion, 2.5 billion
                                                                                                                                               3. a) 8.5 billion, 11 bil-
      Send it in with          search for the word “the”?                    a) A hidden virus that emerges
                                                                                                                         a variety
                                                                                                                         can be unlocked by    er an error came up
      the answer to            a) 8.5 billion, 11 billion, 2.5 billion          when the user executes certain           feature that          be buggered!” whenev-
      tq@thinkdigit.com        b) 20 billion, 11.5 billion, 8.5 billion         keystrokes                               8. b) A fun, hidden   habit of exclaiming “I’ll
                                                                                                                         Hitachi               ming pioneer had the
      Mark “TQ” in the         c) 86 million, 120 million, 2 billion         b) A fun, hidden feature that               7. c) Seagate, WD,    2. a) A certain program-
      subject area.            d) 10 billion, 1 billion, 500 million            can be unlocked by a variety             6. b) Iran            1. c) blooks



       Crossword                                                                                                        Send in your answers to
                                                                                                                        the crossword with
        ACROSS                                                                                                          complete contact details
        1. E------ sending and receiving of                                                                             to TQ@thinkdigit.com on
        messages(5)
        4. ------ Vista-search engine(5)
                                                                                                                        or before December 15.
        10. Bug-free code(5)                                                                                            One lucky participant will
        11. Tanatos virus worm(7)                                                                                       win Beginning Cryptography
        12. Unicode and double-byte ------                                                                              With Java
        software modification(8)
        13. ------ or credit card(4)
                                                                                                                        by David Hook
                                                                                                                        published by Wiley Publishing            Win!
        15. ‘S’ in ‘bps’(6)
        17. ASCII character ‘=’(6)
        19. Chat acronym ‘Oh No, Not Again’(4)                                                                          November 2005 Solution
        20. World’s largest mobile company(8)
        23. European Forum for Open
        Systems(3,4)
        24. To enter data in a computer(5)
        25. Alternate or pen name(5)
        26. Alignment of text inside the
        margin(6)

        DOWN
        2. ------ Multimedia-a division of Aptech
        Institute(5)
        3. Traditional wired telephone
        service(4,4)
        5. Company emblem(4)
        6. ‘A’ in ‘AOL’ (7)
        7. User passwords (6,5)                                   16.‘Ctrl’key(7)
        8. Short for Active Backbone(5)                           18. Audio or ------ card(5)
        9. Two edges of a graph next to each other(10)            21. Order Code Processor(abbr)(3)
        14. Maths statement using equals sign(8)                  22. Data Processing Management Association(abbr)(4)   Sushant Kumar of Allahabad wins the prize
                                                                                                                        for the November 2005 crossword
      Crossword by Nitta Jaggi

198   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                          Quake 4 is the latest id software release; we
                                                                          take a look at what all the hype is about


                                                                      1




                                                                          You start off having to accomplish tasks—get a medic

       2                                                              3




                Then the monsters attack Kane...and die                         You get a lot of help from fellow marines


       4                                                              5




           You help them too—stay away from my friend freak!              Use a cannon to blow stuff up, then blow up the cannon

                                                        Software’s Quake 4 is the follow-           and an XFX 7800 GT and it played at 12
                                                        up of the popular multiplayer               FPS! I had to select a saner resolution
                                                        deathmatch game Quake III                   of 1024 x 768 with 2x AA and the ‘High
                                                Arena. However, the single-player cam-              Quality’ graphics setting to be able to
                                                paign story is a direct sequel of the               get an acceptable 35 FPS!
                                                older Quake II. The story is simple: you                 It was a little annoying to see the
                                                are Matthew Kane, a corporal fighting               Autodetect function choose 640 x 480
                                                alongside a human army against aliens               with no AA and the Low Quality set-
                                                called The Strogg. This alien race                  ting! “I have a 7800 GT for christsakes,”
                                                reminds us of the Borg from Star Trek,              I screamed!
                                                but are much uglier looking.                             Anyway, it was all worth the wait and
                                                    Although majority of the gaming                 initial frustration. The game has good
                                                world was waiting for Quake 4 mainly                gameplay, decent AI and an entertaining
                                                for its multiplayer gameplay, since that’s          story line. The graphics were amazing,
                                                what Quake has become, personally, I’m              even at the mere High Quality mode.
                                                not a big deathmatch fan. I need a story,                I decided that rather than write a
                                                and some purpose to want to run                     long review of the game, saying all the
                                                around for hours on end, shooting every-            things that have already been said
                                                thing in sight! Sure, perhaps ridding the           before by gaming magazines and Web
                                                solar system of alien scourge isn’t exactly         sites, it would be better to show you
                                                new or exciting, but it’s reason enough             how the game looks, courtesy loads of
                                                to pop in a game that needs GBs of space            screenshots! We hope you like our take
                                                and boasts of the best graphics to date!            on Quake 4. Our Recommendation: buy
                                                    There’s a shock in store for those              it! The multiplayer rocks, and the sin-
                                                who even think of running this game                 gle player will remind you of Doom 3—
                                                on ‘Ultra High’ quality! I used a FX-53-            not as scary, but just as entertaining!
                                                based system with 1 GB Corsair RAM                               robert_smith@thinkdigit.com

200   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                                               Digital Leisure l Tech Critiqe

6                                                                   7                                                                         8




        You return to your mothership for new orders                          Then it’s back to making scrambled Strogg                       Some good lighting effects


9                                                                   10                                                                       11




     Marine Technicians will help improve your firearms                 Then you ride in a tank, and kill some spiders on the way                 Look! Better lighting


12                                                                  13                                                                       14




      Spider attacks; spider eats BFG shell and chokes               Captured! A laser anally probes me, and, voila, I’m Strogg!              Strogg women still hate me


15                                                                  16                                                                       17




         I take a tram ride and solve a few puzzles                      That’s a big monster flying; then a big monster dying               Strogg’s such a pretty place!


                                                                   18                                                                        19




                                                                     I kill the Big Boss and then blow up the controller brain               Thank’s buddy; Earth is safe




                                        Publisher: Activision
                                        Minimum System Configuration: Pentium 4
                                        2 GHz or AMD Athlon 2000+, 512 MB RAM,
                                        64 MB DirectX 9.0c compatible card
                                        Price: Rs 1,299                                   20
                                        Distributed in India by World Wide CD ROMs
                                                                                          Hey... wait... who the hell is going to date me if I look like this?
                                        Tel: 022 - 56973894

                                                                                                                                        DIGIT DECEMBER 2005         201
        MediaWise
      IEEE Spectrum, October 2005                                                        Wired.com, November 9, 2005

      The Rise Of The Body Bots                                                          Battling Bugs: A Digital
      EXOSKELETONS ARE STRUTTING out of the lab—and they                                 Quagmire
      are carrying their creators with them. Erico Guizzo and
      Harry Goldstein of the IEEE Spectrum give us an insight                            HOW EFFECTIVE ARE our computer bug battling techniques?
      into this future possibility                                                       Why is it that we slip up in the same areas all the while? This
                                                                                         article by Simson Garfinkel tries to find the reasons
      Science-fiction fans have long become accustomed to the idea
      of steely commandos clad in robotic exoskeletons taking on                         In 1976, computer pioneer Edsger W. Dijkstra made an observation
      huge, vicious, extraterrestrial beasts, shadowy evil cyborgs, or                   that would prove uncanny: “Program testing can be quite effective
      even each other. Supersoldiers encased in sleek, self-powered                                                           for showing the presence of
      armor figure memorably in such works as Robert A. Heinlein’s                                                            bugs,” he wrote in an essay,
      novel Starship Troopers, Joe W. Haldeman’s The Forever War,                                                             “but is hopelessly inadequate
      and many other books and movies. In A Good Old-Fashioned                                                                for showing their absence.”
      Future, for example, Bruce Sterling writes of a soldier dying                                                                Thirty tears later, Dijkstra’s
      after crashing in his “power-armor, a leaping, brick-busting,                                                           words have the ring of
      lightning-spewing exoskeleton.”                                                                                         prophecy. Companies like
           Today, in Japan and the United States, engineers are finally                                                       Microsoft and Oracle, along with
      putting some practical exoskeletons through their paces outside                                                         open-source projects like
                                 of laboratories. But don’t look for                                                          Mozilla and Linux, have all
                                 these remarkable new systems to bust                                                         instituted rigorous and
                                 bricks or spew lightning. The very first                extensive testing programs, but bugs just keep slipping through.
                                 commercially available exoskeleton,                     Last month, Microsoft’s monthly drop of bug patches included fixes
                                 scheduled to hit the market in Japan                    for 14 security holes that escaped prerelease testing, four of them
                                 next month, is designed to help                         rated “critical.”
                                 elderly and disabled people walk,                            On Tuesday, the company fixed three more Windows bugs, and
                                 climb stairs, and carry things around.                  all three were the same basic genus of bug—the “buffer overflow”—
                                 Built by Cyberdyne Inc., in Tsukuba,                    that helped spread the first Internet worm in 1988. It seems
                                 Japan, this exoskeleton, called HAL-5,                  programmers and software architects manage to make the same
                                 will cost about 1.5 million yen (around                 mistakes generation after generation. Even back in 1988, many of
                                 US $13 800).                                            the bugs that haunt us today were already old hat.
                                      Meanwhile, in the United States,                        “We solved buffer overflows and the Y2K problem with Multics
      the most advanced exoskeleton projects are at the University                       in 1975,” says Peter Neumann, a senior scientist at SRI International
      of California, Berkeley, and at Sarcos Research Corp., in Salt                     who has been researching bugs and their impact on society for
      Lake City. Both are funded under a $50 million, five-year                          more than two decades. But while Multics—the first secure multi-
      program begun by the Defense Advanced Research Projects                            user operating system—addressed some thorny problems, bug
      Agency, or DARPA, in 2001. During the past several months,                         history keeps repeating itself.
      each group has been working on a second-generation                                      The reasons for that are both simple and complex, experts say,
      exoskeleton that is a huge improvement over its predecessor.                       having to do with the programming languages themselves or with
      Little information about the new models had been officially                        programmer psychology and the environment in which software is
      released by press time, but IEEE Spectrum has learned that the                     developed. To understand why bugs occur, it helps to start by
      Berkeley unit was successfully tested in a park near the                           looking at the general classes of faulty code.
      campus this past summer and the latest Sarcos model was                                 Bugs can be broadly divided into two categories. Typographical
      demonstrated to a panel of military observers at Fort Belvoir,                     bugs and errors in reasoning are one type. Then, there are the
      VA., last April.                                                                   deep, conceptual bugs that make a program malfunction even
           http://webench.national.com                                                   though all the code is more or less correct.
           HAL-5, in Japan, and the systems by Berkeley and Sarcos,                           Memory misdeeds
      in the United States, appear to be the first of a platoon of                            Buffer overflows and race conditions are examples of the first
      considerably more capable exoskeletons aimed at real-world                         kind of bug. A particularly tenacious beast, the potential for a
      uses that may soon, quite literally, be walking near you.                          buffer overflow is created when a programmer allocates a certain
           Most of these systems are designed to help physically weak                    amount of memory to hold a piece of information—for example,
      or injured people gain more mobility or perform rehabilitation                     nine characters to hold a Social Security number. But then the
      exercises. But researchers are quick to mention other                              program tries to store more data in that space when it actually
      commercial possibilities for their creations: rescue and                           runs. The rest of the data overflows the pre-allocated buffer and
      emergency personnel could use them to reach over debris-                           overwrites something else in the computer’s memory—frequently
      strewn or rugged terrain that no wheeled vehicle could                             with disastrous results.
      negotiate; firefighters could carry heavy gear into burning                             The 1990s saw buffer overflows reach near-epidemic
      buildings and injured people out of them; and furniture                            proportions in programs written in the C and C++ programming
      movers, construction workers, and warehouse attendants could                       languages, because these languages require coders to manually
      lift and carry heavier objects safely.                                             manage the memory used by their programs. Like driving a
                                                                                         performance car, control of the memory might let a skilled
                  For the entire article go to http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/oct05/1901   programmer eke a bit more out of the computer, or accomplish
                                                                                         neat tricks and stunts. But the danger of a stall or a crash is
                                                                                         ever present.
                                                                                                                                                 For the entire article go to
                                                                                             http://wired.com/news/technology/bugs/0,2924,69369,00.html?tw=wn_16techhead


148   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                       AdWise
Fortune, November 28, 2005

From Megs To Riches
MULTIPLAYER GAMES ARE taking off, and with them a vast
and unexpected new market. People are trading imaginary
things in imaginary worlds yet making real money. Roger
Parloff of Fortune analyses this fast growing trend

“Paul” and I are seated on a plush couch in the atrium-style living
room of his starter mansion north of Dallas. A 71-inch flat-screen
HDTV dominates the far wall. His Porsche 911 Carrera and his wife’s
Lincoln Navigator nestle in the garage. It’s a good life and would not
be a surprising one for a 33-year-old corporate litigator like Paul,
except that he quit his law partnership two years ago. Since then,
he’s been self-employed at an even more lucrative calling: He plays
a medieval-themed online videogame called EverQuest.
Because so many young people now spend so much of their lives
immersed in the simulated 3-D worlds of games like this one, the
noncorporeal emoluments they accumulate in these environments—
virtual swords, cloaks, gauntlets, in-game currency etc—acquire real
value to them, and they will pay real US dollars and euros, yen,
won, and yuan to acquire them. So Paul buys and sells virtual items
                                 and currency for a living. “The
                                 valuation is always difficult,” he
                                 concedes. “When you think about
                                 people paying real cash for
                                 something you can’t even touch,
                                 smell, taste-that’s tough.”
                                      Launched in 1997 and now
                                 owned by Sony Online                                     Sony’s Fan Club
                                 Entertainment, EverQuest is one of                    Sony would like to rub its competitor’s face in grime. “We’ve
                                 the increasingly popular computer                     got the superior technology”, they’d say. But is the superior
                                 games called massively multiplayer                    technology restricted to just high-end televisions and are
                                 online role-playing games (MMO for                    the rest still part of the Wege Fan Club?
                                 short). Though EverQuest has
                                 about 300,000 player-subscribers
worldwide, a 2004 entry into the market called World of Warcraft
(made by Vivendi subsidiary Blizzard Entertainment) has become
the industry’s transformative, breakthrough blockbuster. WoW, as
it’s known, has already garnered 4.5 million subscriptions
worldwide and is expected to gross $500 million this year alone-
more than most hit movies ever earn at the box office.
     Paul is one of a growing number of people who either make
their living or supplement their income through businesses
catering to needs that arise only in virtual worlds. Anshe Chung,
for instance, is the in-game character, or “avatar,” created by a
German woman who teaches school near Frankfurt. Since March
2004, Chung has accumulated more than $200,000 worth of in-
game currency and “land holdings” by conducting businesses
inside a serene synthetic world called Second Life. Chung buys
“land” there, builds communities using tools provided by the game
developers, and then rents or resells plots to other players. Second
Life is a world simulated by 1,400 servers run by a San Francisco
company called Linden Lab. The money Chung earns is convertible
to dollars over an exchange run by Linden Lab.
     Estimates of the size of the nascent market in virtual
property range widely-from about $200 million to $1 billion
worldwide-but most industry observers agree that it is increasing
at a breakneck pace, possibly 100% year over year. Because it
involves commerce between imaginary worlds and the real one
(known to some gamers as “meat space”), it raises knotty
questions. The things Paul and Anshe trade, for instance, are
                                                                                         Reverse Engineering
merely the graphical manifestations of data entered into
                                                                                       Really, why change things from the way they were easy
spreadsheets owned by Sony and Linden Lab. Do they constitute
                                                                                       and simple? All you had to do was holler for anything. In
“property” recognizable by US courts? If so, whose?
                                                                                       fact, some people think that getting down from the trees
                                                        For the entire article go to   was a big mistake in the first place!
       http://www.fortune.com/fortune/technology/articles/0,15114,1130814,00.html


                                                                                                                                  DIGIT DECEMBER 2005   149
      Most Expensive Cellphone                                                   $100 Laptop Closer To Reality
      The most expensive mobile phone is being crafted in                        MIT Media Lab head, Nicholas Negroponte has unveiled the
      Austria. Costing over £500,000 the phone has sections                      design for the $100 laptop that will go into production early
      of pure gold and 2950 blue diamonds embedded on                            next year. The laptop is powered with a wind-up crank, has
      the cover. Peter Aloisson, the creator, makes around                       very low power consumption and will let children interact
      three phones a year with most retailing at £200,000.                       with each other while learning.




                                                                                                                                                                 First
      Escape
      HE DIDN’T EVEN DO IT!

      The MPAA Strikes Again
                                                                                                                             The Firefox Plug-in
                                                                                                                             Finder Service

      W
                hen will the RIAA              infringement in early              Bernards, VP of corporate
                (Recording Industry
                Association of
      America) and the MPAA
                                               November against 67-year-
                                               old Fred Lawrence, seeking
                                               $600,000 (Rs 2.64 crore) in
                                                                                  communications for MPAA,
                                                                                  claimed illegal downloading
                                                                                  costs the movie industry an
                                                                                                                             F    irefox is a good browser.
                                                                                                                                  Still, there are instances
                                                                                                                             when one would be better off
      (Motion Picture Association              damages. This was after            estimated $5.4 billion a year.             using good old IE (or any other
      of America) stop suing                   Lawrence refused an offer              It would be interesting                browser for that matter). So
      innocent people? No, we                  back in March to settle the        to find out how they come                  what do we
      mean really innocent                     matter by shelling out             up with such figures. Would                have here? An
      people—those who haven’t                 $4,000 (Rs 1.76 lakh).             someone who downloaded a                   awkward
      even downloaded illegal                      Lawrence said his              movie necessarily have                     situation of
      stuff at all?                            grandson, who was then 12,         bought it if they hadn’t                   having a single
          There was a case some                downloaded the movies in           been able to get it for free?              ‘great browser’
      time ago of a grandmother                December 2004, “out of                 What about people who                  installed, and at
      being sued for downloading               curiosity,” and that he had        actually go to the theatre                 the same time No embedded
      music, but there, well, you              deleted them immediately.          after seeing what they liked               the necessity video in Firefox!
      could have pinned it down                He also said the family            on their PC screens?                       of resorting
      to something like                        already owned three of the             The $5.4 billion figure                to another browser for
      “ignorance of the law is not             four titles on DVD.                probably assumes that                      certain sites.
      sufficient grounds for                       Now, we’re guessing            movie pricing is correct and                     OK, some sites aren’t
      pardon.” This time it’s a                that’s what his lawyers told       fair: what if it’s not, and it             coded with Firefox in mind,
      grandfather who doesn’t                  him to say—why should the          turns out people think                     but we also have the situation
      even “like watching                      grandson have deleted them         DVDs are priced too high?                  of missing plugins. For
      movies.” He’s been sued                  immediately after                      The debate will rage for               instance, check http://
      because his grandson                     downloading them? And              some time. Only two things                 snipurl.com/digitdec1, a
      downloaded all of four                   why would he have                  are for sure: first, P2P is                typical blog. Try it in IE and
      movies on their home                     downloaded movies they             here to stay, and second,                  everything’s fine. You cannot
      computer over the P2P                    already had on DVD?                that suing a 67-year-old                   say the same for Firefox.
      service iMesh.                               In any case, the $500,000      grandfather for something                        Moreover, Firefox talks
          The MPAA filed a federal             suit is, of course, in order to    his 12-year-old grandson did               about a missing plugin, offers
      lawsuit for copyright                    set an example. Kori               is plain stupid.                           to find a plugin, and then says
                                                                                                                             it isn’t able to find one. Worse
                                                                                                                             still is the case with http://
        My Desktop                                                                                                           snipurl.com/digitdec2.
                                                                                                                                   There’s an embedded
        T  hink you have the most beautiful, most
           innovative desktop around? E-mail us
        with subject ‘My Desktop’ and your postal
                                                                                                                             video on the page, and Firefox
                                                                                                                             shows up nothing, not even
        address to mydesktop@thinkdigit.com, and                                                                             the video Window! The plugin
        Digit will publish the most eye-catching of                                                                          finder doesn’t even pop up. To
        them each month.                                                                                                     activate the plugin required
                                                                                                                             (Windows Media Player), and
         Next month’s winner                                                                                                 to make the video window
                                                                                                                             appear, you need to mess
         will receive a copy of
                                                                                                                             around with a .dll file.
         Local Area Networks                                                                                                       Even after that, the plugin
         Management Design                                                                                                   finder service doesn’t detect
         And Security                                                                                                        WMP as the missing plugin!
         By Arne Mikalsen and                                                                                                And we’re talking about the
         Per Borgesen
                                                          There is no winner for this month. The majority of                 latest version of Firefox—1.0.7!
         Published by John Willey & Sons Ltd              entries we received used desktop theme packs. This is              As you might expect, the same
                                                          not allowed!                                                       site works just fine in IE.


204   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                                                        People Who
                                                                                                                         Changed
                                                                Triple-core?                                            Computing

                                                                                   This month’s winner is           The Searchmeisters
                                                                                   Manju Nath
                                                                                   JP Nagar                         Larry Page and his partner
                                                                                   Bangalore                        Sergey Brin have changed the
                                                                                                                    way people use the Internet—
                                                                                                                    they co-founded Google.
                                                                                    He wins                             Page and Brin were just
                                                                                    SAMS Teach                      computer science grad
                                                                                    Yourself EJB                                     students at
                                                                                    by Ragae Ghaly                                   Stanford
                                                                                    and Krishna                                      when they
                                                                                    Kothapalli
                                                                                    Published by
                                                                                                                                     came up with
                                                                                    Pearson                                          a search
                                                                                    Education, Delhi                                 algorithm.
                                                                                                                                     That was back
                                                                                                                     Page and Brin   in 1995. The
                                                                                                                                     two were not
  WIN!                                                                                                              a made-for-each-other pairing:
  Send in your entry and you could win an exciting gift just by sharing an amusing picture with a tech              their first meeting was
  angle to it. The picture should be shot by you, and should not have been published anywhere earlier.              anything but cordial, and has
  E-mail your picture with the subject ‘DigiPick’ and your postal address on or before 15th of this month           become part of Google lore.
  to digipick@thinkdigit.com. One prize-winning picture will be published each month.                               Their opinions differed so
                                                                                                                    much they frequently had
                                                                                                                    showdowns. One thing they
MOBILE TV COMING SOON?                          The new category will             putting up a mobile-only          did agree on, however, was
                                                recognise “outstanding            version of their hit TV show      technology—technology that
Emmys For                                       achievement in content for
                                                non-traditional delivery
                                                                                  24. Other channels and
                                                                                  networks such as MTV are
                                                                                                                    powered searchability.
                                                                                                                        By early 1996, Page and
Mobile                                          platforms.” To be eligible
                                                for the awards, the shows
                                                                                  also developing content for
                                                                                  this platform.
                                                                                                                    Brin had begun to collaborate
                                                                                                                    on a search engine called
Content                                         have to be created
                                                specifically for mobile           STAMP OUT THE SMUT!
                                                                                                                    BackRub. Their algorithm
                                                                                                                    created a buzz at the Stanford
                                                devices, and cannot be spin-                                        campus, and the duo decided
                                                                                  The Pixels
T
      he US National                            offs of existing TV shows.                                          to put their PhDs on hold to
      Academy of Television                     The shows must be less than                                         set up Google and take it
      Arts and Sciences,
which gives out the annual
                                                20 minutes in length.
                                                    “What we are seeing is a
                                                                                  Say It All                        mainstream. There was one
                                                                                                                    problem though—money. But
Daytime Emmy Awards, has                        burgeoning rise in this type                                        soon enough, they were in


                                                                                  P
introduced a new category                       of programme making,”                   ixAlert is an Irish smut-   talks with Andy Bechtolsheim
to reward creators of                           Peter Price, president of the           busting firm, and the       of Sun. Bechtolsheim was
content for mobile phones                       Academy told the BBC News               name, as you’ll see, has    impressed and wrote a
and other portable media                        Web site. It certainly does       rhyme and reason to it.           $100,000 cheque to “Google,
devices such as the Video                       seem that way.                        It has developed              Inc.” Google didn’t exist yet,
iPod and the Sony PSP.                                  Apple has inked a         technology which, it claims,      so Brin and Page promptly
                                                      deal with ABC, the          “completely prevents              incorporated their company.
                                                       largest broadcaster in     pornographic images being             Page and Brin managed
                                                       the US, and Disney, to     displayed and viewed on           the company until it grew to
                                                       offer legal downloads      computer screens” by              more than 200 employees in
                                                       of TV hits such as Lost    blocking “illegal or              2001. They then handed over
                                                       and Desperate              inappropriate images as they      the CEO position to Dr Eric
                                                      Housewives for the Video    are rendered.”                    Schmidt. Page still plays an
                                                     iPod. In addition to this,       PixAlert says they            important role in running the
                                                     Apple is also planning       manage to do it using “high-      company, along with Schmidt
                                                      to offer brand-new          speed image analysis              and Brin.
                                                      animation content           software” that can detect             After Google’s IPO in
                                                      from Pixar.                 “images actually being            September 2004, Page and
                                                            Rupert Murdoch’s      displayed on any screen and       Brin have become multi-
                                                        News Corporation          originating from any              billionaires: Forbes Magazine
                                                         that owns the Fox        computer source.”                 ranks Page as the 55th-richest
                                                          network, and a              Understandably, there’s a     man in the world. But the
                                                          number of               good market for the               two still haven’t earned their
                                                          Hollywood studios—      technology, because as            PhDs—they’re both still
                                                         including Twentieth      PixAlert marketing manager        technically on leave from the
                                                        Century Fox—is also       Andy Churley explains,            doctoral program at Stanford!
             Illustration: Harsho Mohan Chattoraj

                                                                                                                             DIGIT DECEMBER 2005     205
      Escape
                                             All In A Month’s Work
                                             E   ach month—this month being no
                                                 different—the story idea meeting is
                                             where it all begins. Brainstorming soon
                                                                                              closing has already crept upon us. It’s
                                                                                              during those late nights that we all turn
                                                                                              into armchair theoreticians, raving and
                                             gets us locking horns. Substitute ‘man’          ranting about all things under the sun
                                             with ‘idea’ in “May the best man win!”           over icy-cold cola and hot pizzas
                                             and you’d know what we’re talking                dripping with mozzarella! Such a
       Apple Mac OS X                        about! To give you an example, just try          perfect setting!
       Tiger                                 and point fingers at Opera—it brings out             For Raaabo and Ram at this time of
       There are operating systems           the gladiator in Raaabo.                         month, Digit is a home away from home.
       and then there’s Tiger. In its            And receiving the ‘Loudspeaker of            Ram, hypochondriac that he is, keeps his
       latest avatar, Mac OS X is            the Year’ award at our Diwali party has          pill-box handy, not to forget his beloved
       faster, better and as graphically     only reinforced ed Deepak’s resolve to           pillow—apart from a jar of powdered
       appealing as ever. Chances are,       use his lung power to get us all cracking!       caffeine and a ladder of cigarette packs.
       though, that you’ve never used            Then follows the story board                 And you can safely trust Mithun to
       it. There are times when you          meeting, where we tell the design team           juggle tasks, big or small—the nearer the
       want to stand out of the crowd        about our stories. The design team—              deadline, the faster he delivers!
       and throw jargon, but with a          Pillaiji, Solomon, Vijay, Pradip,                    Film aficionado Renuka will share all
       Mac, it isn’t straightforward.        Chaitanya, Vikram and Brother Zivalal            that she’s learning in her script-writing
       But that’s what we’re here for!       (real name: Zony Ericsson)—have made             course with anyone who will lend an
            Tiger includes a lot of new      life here more colourful, literally!             ear! Sadly, it was also Preethi’s last
       additions such as Widgets and         They’ve put up lifelike sketches and             month—with the Don of Digit gone, it’s
       the Spotlight. Spotlight is the       caricatures of Digit team members on             time we get someone to fill in her shoes!
       lightning-fast search                 their pin-up boards. And indeed,                           In fact, we’re eagerly awaiting
       technology that displays results      passers-by do gaze, admire                                   the new members soon to
       as fast as you can type them!
                                             and even smirk!                                                     come on board. Watch
       You can search everything on
                                                 And then before                                                   this space for more
       your system—files, e-mails,
       contacts, images, movies,             we know it, issue-                                                    on them next month!
       calendars, and even
       applications. Just say “I’m                                                      images have in          GET USED TO THEM
       throwing the spotlight on some                                                     common: skin,
       files” when you want to talk
       about searching your desktop!
                                                                                          and lots of it. And
                                                                                          when it comes to
                                                                                                                Splogs: Spam
            The new Dashboard (a.k.a.
       Expose) hosts a ton of mini-
                                                                                          porn movies,
                                                                                         there’s skin-
                                                                                                                Reaches
       applications called Widgets,
       which appear instantly and
                                                                                           coloured
                                                                                           textures that
                                                                                                                Blogs
       keep you up-to-date with
       information from the Net. View                                                      move, without


                                                                                                                I
       stocks, check weather                                                                the overall            t had to happen sooner or
       forecasts, track flights, convert                                                    amount of              later, and now it’s upon
       currencies, even look up                                                           the colour               us. Spam has reached the
       businesses in the phone book.                                                      changing much.        blogosphere, and in a big
       Think of it as the inbuilt Google                                                       According to     way. As always, it’s all about
       Deskbar. Usage: “Let me check                                                        PixAlert.com,       money, of course.
       the Dashboard for the latest                                                          “PixAlert              Since there are so many
       price of Digit stock”. Of course,                                                    Auditor’s Image     blogs around, there must be
       there is no Digit stock—so                                                          Analysis Engine      spam-related ways to make
       substitute for that wisely!                                                    has been proven to        money off the idea—and
            And since we’ll be bluffing     “Inappropriate images in the     provide results which are          spammers seem to have
       anyway, remember that the            workplace are becoming a         95-98% accurate. The               found at least three such.
       Mac OSes are built around the        real threat to business          software has been tested on            “Splog” doesn’t have a
       UNIX platform. Here’s some           operations. Their presence       millions of images.”               concrete definition yet, but
       worthwhile info you could pass       on corporate PCs and             Actually, the FAQ itself           think about them as spam
       along as you make small talk:
                                            dissemination through a          provided us with quite a           blogs, or spam postings on
       “Under the hood, the easy-to-
       use interface and rich graphics
                                            network can have severe          few laughs, including, as it       blogs, or as anything that’s a
       are powered by Darwin, an            consequences for an              does, stuff like the               combination of spam and a
       open source, UNIX-based              organisation and its officers,   following:                         blog. Splogs push the same
       foundation built on                  including exposure to civil           “Can PixAlert (also)          kind of stuff most spam
       technologies such as Mach and        litigation, brand and            detect illicit cartoon             does: Viagra, organ
       FreeBSD.”                            reputation damage,               images?”                           enhancement products, get-
            Also, Tiger has significantly   financial loss and breach of          “PixAlert Auditor is          rich-quick schemes... you get
       improved support for dual-           corporate policies.”             designed to detect all images      the idea.
       processor performance when                Now for the burning         but is optimised to detect             It’s a relatively new
       reading and writing files to disk    question: how does it work?      pornographic images. As a          phenomenon, and most
       and when using Mac OS X with         They won’t tell, but we can      result, PixAlert Auditor will      people who visit blogs don’t
       NFS file servers.                    make a good guess. It            detect life-like cartoon           expect anything irrelevant—
            A suggestion: memorise!         doesn’t take an Einstein to      images as being of an              so there’s been a lot of
                                            figure what all pornographic     illicit nature.”                   confusion amongst those

206   DIGIT DECEMBER 2005
                                                                                                                                               E sc ape
      whatweretheythinking.com                                                      who encounter splogs.
                                                                                    Search results have been
                                                                                                                            The second form of
                                                                                                                        splogging involves creating a
         That ’70s Show!                                                            dramatically affected,              fake blog filled with links to
                                                                                    especially on services such         other sites. People using a

         T he late ’70s and early ’80s were a tumultuous time and one when
           not many knew what was happening. This fact is also reflected in
       “The Past Passes By”. ’
                                                                                    as Technorati’s, which focus
                                                                                    on blog tracking. “It’s the
                                                                                    #1 problem for search
                                                                                                                        search engine to find a blog
                                                                                                                        on, say, breast cancer, would
                                                                                                                        get to a site full of ads for,
            This, of course, we’re guessing, is the title of this site, since       engines,” says Matt                 and links to, porn sites.
       ‘Crystal Machine info’ is the title of the page.                             Mullenweg of WordPress, a               And third, you could use
            “In 1971 Tim Blake met the French Light show artiste                    blog-software service.              blogs’ feedback fields.
            PATRICE WARRENER.                                                            The first way to make          Sploggers can post totally
            When Tim left GONG in 1975, they formed the                             money off splogs is this:           off-topic comments,
            “CRYSTAL MACHINE”.                                                      find a topic—say Servers—           including a sales pitch.
            Who these folks are is explained in the text that follows:              that draws consumers who                Jason Goldman, Product
       they were “The first group in the world dedicated to electronic              may be valuable to                  Manager for the Blogger
                                    music and light show, featuring,                advertisers on big search           division of Google says
                                    Lasers, for the first time ever”. Our           engines. Then, register for         they’ve tightened up the
                                    point of concentration, though, is their        the programs that let those         blog-creating process—
                                    site, which is as colourful as their shows      search companies place ads          Google now offers a quick
                                    perhaps were. With each line of text in a       on the blog.                        way to report bogus pages so
                                    different colour, it’s indeed a visit back in        Next, set up a blog that       they can be blocked from
                                    time to the days of Web page design in          takes in news items via             the search engine.
                                    the early ’90s and the spirit of the ’80s.      feeds about that subject. If            Other blog hosts and
                                         Some of the group’s achievements           all goes well, the search           search engines are fighting
                                    include shows in Spain, Japan, Holland          engines will identify your          splogs. Goldman admits that
moonweed.free.fr/crystal_intro.html and Gladstonbury Festival. For some rea-        blog as a prime place for           like with spam, splogging
                                    son, we decided we should Google that           ads. Now all you need to do         could take on the “arms-
       last, and it turned out they’d actually performed at the Glastonbury         is find (and pay peanuts to)        race” aspect, with the
       festival—although there does exist a Gladstonbury festival too!              someone who’ll keep                 baddies always trying to be
            Did we mention the blue background on which a fuzzy,                    clicking the ads!                   one step ahead. Well, we’ve
       blurred, pink-tinged photograph is placed? That is the only visual                Programmes such as             got used to spam—and if you
       relief on this entire page. There are all of three links—one of which        Google’s AdSense pay out            read blogs, you’d get used to
       displays no text—and these lead to some photos. Very 1976! Let’s             each time someone                   splogging as well.
       just keep it in its time—accept our apologies for bringing this site         responds to an ad, so a                   Compiled by Aditya Kuber,
       to your notice!                                                              splogger could make big                Mithun Kidambi, Ram Mohan
                                                                                    money this way.                                Rao and Renuka Rane

                                       India Uncut                                                Don’t trust the Indian media
                                       http://indiauncut.blogspot.com/2005/10/question-of-        http://presstalk.blogspot.com/2005/10/ponytail-and-
                                       principles.html                                            legal-notice.html

                                       A Question Of Principles                                   The Ponytail And The Legal Notice!
                                       A few months ago Jam Magazine, edited by Rashmi            Really like Desipundit, not only because they have
                                       Bansal, did a story exposing some of the claims made       brought a whole lot of new readers to this site—even
         This time round our           by IIPM, the educational institute run by Arindam          though few of those new readers leave comments—but
         selection is all about        Chaudhuri. After that happened, some of the IIPM staff     also because these guys can sometimes uncover some
         the IIPM blog                 barged into the Jam office. They “did not offer any new    gems of hilarity from the Indian blogosphere. Blogger
         controversy, which            or material facts, other than argument.” Then Rashmi       Gaurav Sabnis has been served a legal notice by the
         began with a story            got a legal notice from them.                              ponytailed management (maybe) guru (joke) Arindam
         written by Rashmi                  A number of blogs sprung up overnight defending       Chaudhari. Now, I know giving space to this person is a
         Bansal in the                 IIPM and defaming Rashmi and Gaurav Sabnis, a              waste of server space. But this letter is too hilarious!
                                       popular blogger who had linked to Rashmi’s article…        Digit note: The letter—at the Blogspot page mentioned
         JAM magazine
                                                                                                  above—is worth a read!
                                       Desipundit.com
                                       www.desipundit.com/2005/10/08/lies-damned-lies-            Vantage Point
                                       and-fake-blogs/                                            http://gauravsabnis.blogspot.com/2005/10/update.html

                                       IIPM Blog Wars Redux                                       An Update
                                       This time it is personal. Rashmi Bansal has been           I have resigned from IBM.
                                       attacked by so-called IIPM graduates. Gaurav has been          I got a call from a Senior Executive of Lenovo.
                                       served a legal notice (via e-mail) asking him to retract   Apparently, IIPM called him up, complaining about my
                                       his statements against IIPM. Couple of days later,         posts… The next day, I got a call from him again.
                                       another blogger Varna got an identical legal notice        Apparently, the Dean of IIPM wrote him a mail saying
                                       from IIPM. More importantly, this attempted                that the IIPM Students Union had decided that if my
                                       suppression of freedom of speech shall not be              blog posts were not deleted, then they would gather all
                                       tolerated. Kaps has issued a call to join the fight        the Thinkpads they had been given by the institute,
                                       against IIPM. Bloggers all around the world have           and burn them in front of the IBM office in Delhi. Yes,
                                       responded magnificently.                                   that’s right. Burn laptops!


                                                                                                                                     DIGIT DECEMBER 2005     207
                  Digit Forum
      Can you legally Download TV Serials?
      crazybutt
      Analogue Novice
      Location: The 5th dimension
      I am a Beri Beri Big follower of d Simpsons,
      I would desperately like to get the
      episodes. Is it legal?
      ****************************************
      Nemesis
      Digitized Moderator                                                                                   Dear Hitikant,
      Location: New York
                                                        Registry Fast Track?
                                                                                                            Thanks for your appreciation; it is such words
      Let's say you missed a couple of episodes of      Your Fast Track is “paisa wasool”! Tips &
                                                                                                            that motivate us to work hard and give you the
      Lost when they were aired. Would it still be      Tricks has made me popular amongst
                                                                                                            latest and the best technology news and
      legal to download them? You didn't even           my friends. Why don’t you bring out a
                                                                                                            analysis month after month. Regarding in-
      see them so how would you claim any               fast track that gives comprehensive
                                                                                                            depth information about mobile technologies,
      rights to the content?                            knowledge about Registries?
                                                                                                            well, we have been writing about them from
           As far as I see, recording and keeping                          Arnab Kumar Mondal
                                                                                                            time to time in different articles for the last few
      copies is perfectly legal—TiVo wouldn't have                                           Allahabad
                                                                                                            years. But yes, we could do one big story on it,
      existed otherwise. But it is the distribution     Dear Arnab,
                                                                                                            or even a Fast Track. Thanks for your
      that I think is illegal. Especially since DVDs    I am glad to know that Fast Track is proving to
                                                                                                            suggestions—keep them coming!
      of entire seasons and recently single             be a good knowledge resource for you.
                                                                                                                                            — Associate Editor
      episodes for the iPod Video are being             Regarding an entire Fast Track on ‘Registries’,
      retailed, I wonder if there is any way            well, let us see whether there is enough
      downloading episodes can be legal.                material for it to merit a book. Otherwise, we      In Love Since 7th grade
                                                        can definitely carry a series of articles on it.    I have been reading Digit since I was in
      ****************************************                                          —Associate Editor   the 7th grade. Now I am in the 10th. Digit
      iinfi
      Digitized!                                                                                            has convinced me that I should build a
      Location: Navi Mumbai                                                                                 career as a software expert. I would like
      I think its is illegal to download/save using                                                         to thank you for inspiring us young
      PC (with TV tuner card), even if u have paid                                                          readers. It’s only due to you that I’m the
      ur cablewallah for viewing the serial or                                                              most tech-savvy person in my class. Your
      movie on TV...                                                                                        hardware and software tests have helped
           Coz u have paid only to see the serial or                                                        me and my dad a lot while deciding on
      movie once i.e when it was aired on the TV                                                            what new hardware to buy. My
      at that particular time and not whenever                                                              collection of past Digit issues and CDs
      you please.                                                                                           help not only me when I need certain
           I feel once you record it LIVE, no one                                                           software, but also my friends.
      can stop u from distributing it.                                                                                                 Amritanshu Kar
                                                                                                                                                        Delhi
      ****************************************                                                              Dear Amritanshu,
      netarget
      Analogue Novice                                                                                       Back in 7th grade, you were probably one of
      Location: A small room in a big house in a                                                            the youngest readers of Digit! It is avid
      small street in a big city                                                                            learners like you who will further the fame of
      I wholly accept there is a hairline difference                                                        our IT industry, and on whose shoulders rests
      between legality and illegality such is the                                                           our nation’s IT potential. I am glad that Digit
      case in most questions of law. The exact                                                              has been your choice to step up your
      study of this is called Jurisprudence. No                                                             technology quotient. Keep reading and giving
      wonder lawyers (like me) interpret it as                                                              us your feedback as well!
      they want to claim Justice. It is upto the                                                                                           —Associate Editor
                                                        More About Mobile Phone
      Court to interpret it, which of course would
      be final.                                         Technologies                                        Philippines Calling
                                                        I have been a keen reader of Digit for              Your mag is one of the few I keep on
      ****************************************          the past two years, and find it the best            buying not only in India but also in my
      KHUBBU
      Resident Techie                                   computer magazine, enlightening us on               country, the Philippines. In that country,
      Every Music channel airs video songs. One         the knowledge of science and                        where there are many techies, and
      can simply record it, save the sound from         technology in a very simple way. The                where software and Internet
      the file, convert it to MP3 and u have a          most interesting part is the cover story            proliferation is common, I find a big
      good MP3 collection of your fav songs—no          of the month, covering GPS,                         vacuum on Indian Internet hi-ways! Can
      need to buy or download. Now is this legal?       comparisons of motherboard and cell                 someone tell me what the official Web
      Of course if one shares it then its illegal.      phones, etc.                                        site of India is? I asked for help from Mr
                                                            It would be great if you were to                Genius Yahoo! and the tech- savvy Ms
      ****************************************          cover mobile technologies in detail,                Google, but they can’t figure it out. It
      srijit
      Analogue Novice                                   such as GSM, CDMA, TDMA, 3G, etc. You               seems that India, a country I consider an
      Very important point in all this is that          could also answer questions about the               oasis of techies, is left far behind on the
      Microsoft is coming out with the Media            various spectrums, tell us something                Net. Someone told me the Indian site is
      Center PC. So even if it is illegal to do these   about WAP, and so on. I feel that your              yet to be launched.
      things the companies might not want to be         magazine believes in spreading and                                                 Noel Arellano
      in a legal battle with MS who is promoting        sharing knowledge, and it does have the                                            The Philippines
      Media Center PC left and right.                   potential to change people’s lives!                 Dear Noel,
           Idea: get a Media Center PC and blame                                    Hitikant Sahoo          It makes us feel proud to know we are being
      everything on MS :)                                                                      Cuttack      read and appreciated as far as in the


220     To post your comments on the Digit Forum,
          visit http://www.thinkdigit.com/forum
                                                       Write to the Editor                                  Digit will publish the best letters on these pages.
                                                                                                            Letters may be edited for clarity. You must include
                                                       E-mail: editor@thinkdigit.com
                                                                                                            your complete address in all communication.
                                                       Snail Mail: The Editor, Digit, D-222/2, Om Sagar
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                                                                                                                                         Inbox
                                                       quoting the 16-digit patron code mentioned on
Philippines. As far as the “official Indian site” is   the last page of your November issue, and we
                                                                                                            Games Companies Play
concerned, it is www.india.gov.in, which is the        will replace it for free. It should take less than   Let me congratulate your team on their
official portal of the government of India. It has     two weeks to reach you.                              superior performance! I'd like to share
recently been completely revamped and spruced                                           —Associate Editor   some issues with you.
up to tell you all you need to know about India.                                                               I installed the Serious Sam 2 demo on
                                  —Associate Editor                                                         my Compaq PC with Intel Northwood
                                                       Faulty DVD                                           2.4 GHz, 1 GB RAM, DVD-Writer, GeForce
Searchable Index On CD/DVD                             I’m a regular newsstand reader of Digit              4 MX etc. But the demo didn't work. The
I am a regular reader of Digit for the last            for the last four years. I think there’s             readme file recommends GF 5900
two years, and have all the CDs and DVDs.              something going wrong with your DVD.                 and even GF 7800 for optimal
One day I wanted to locate a specific                  For the last three years I have never                performance! I tried out the
software—Advanced Notepad. I knew it                   received a faulty CD, but I did get a                demo on my friend's PC
was on one of the DVDs, but which one? I               faulty DVD five or six months ago. I’ve              (GF 6600), and frankly,               Letter
had to insert all your DVDs and CDs one                again received a faulty CD this month.               even two year old games               of the
by one, which was quite frustrating—the                Could you do something about this?                   like Unreal Tournament 2003          Month
whole operation took two hours! Please                 Also, in terms of content, your DVD has              or Painkiller easily rank
include a searchable index of the CD and               more demo games and Linux software                   ahead in terms of graphical
DVD contents, so that we do not have to                than regular software. Please give us                quality. What is more surprising
physically search through our collection—              more of system software, multimedia                  that my GF 4 MX (highly overclocked)
and please don’t ignore this letter!                   and system essential software, since not             can play UT 2003, Painkiller, and Call of
                                  Nitin Kumar          many of us use Linux or have the latest              Duty 2 (on the latest Digit DVD) at 1280 x
                                             Patna     configuration to play intensive games.               1024 with 4X AA very easily.
Dear Nitin,                                                                    Shatrughan Prasad                  We might have a lot of firepower
We do not, and never will, ignore any of our                                                  New Delhi     today, but are we getting enough
reader’s letters! On the point of a searchable                                                              productivity in return? Especially
index, we certainly are working towards                                                                     considering the 1 lakh+ cost of high-
developing a search program that will give you a                                                            end PC, which soon turns out to be
database of not just the existing, but also of all                                                          obsolete?
our past CD/DVD software. This will take some                                                                  I really liked the article on modding
time, but once done, I assure you it will save you                                                          the PC cabinet. Many of us have never
lots of time and effort.                                                                                    handled such high-speed tools and
                                 —Associate Editor                                                          expensive lights, fans etc., so a detailed
                                                                                                            guide from Digit is highly welcome.
Fast Track On PDF?                                                                                             One more suggestion is, people at
First off, I would like to congratulate your                                                                Digit always play with the latest
entire team for the fine work they do for                                                                   gizmos, and we're excited too. Why
Digit. We eagerly wait for the next issue,                                                                  don't you give a live video (on the DVD)
every time. But I have some suggestions                                                                     about the actual testing procedure,
and a complaint.                                                                                            installation, etc. done at your Test
     One, how about dividing each issue                                                                     Centre? You could also give demo
into separate areas of IT information?                 Dear Shatrughan,                                     recordings the games you test for
Second, how about putting up PDF                       Regarding faulty DVDs, yes, we are taking            your readers.
versions of Fast Track on your special                 definite steps to ensure this doesn’t happen.              I hope the Digit team is listening!
issue DVD or even a separate CD? Now for               There have been a few cases when our DVDs
my complaint: my copy of the November                  have either got damaged in transit or have                                   Bhavesh N Momaya
issue came with cracked CD/DVD pack.                   been stolen en route. We have since laid                                                Jalgaon
Please send me an additional pack and                  down stringent measures to track the
tell me what I need to pay.                            culprits and also to further improve upon
                                    Sehaj Kang         our transportation means. Still, if you do get       Dear Bhavesh,
                                     Hoshiarpur        a faulty CD or DVD, please feel free to return       Serious Sam 2 is one of the latest games, and
                                                       them, quoting the 16-digit patron code on            requires a DX9.0c-capable card. The review of
Dear Sehaj,                                            the last page of that month’s copy of Digit,         the game in the same month pointed out that
We cannot separate our articles merely on the          and ask for a free replacement from our              this game does not have Doom 3-like
basis of the information they contain, because         customer service help desk.                          graphics, and is known for funny- looking
there are umpteen categories that these articles           Coming back to your request for more             characters and bosses.
can be slotted into. Fast Track on PDF… well, we       software, we always need to balance                       Some card vendors have had problems
are currently debating on that; maybe once a           increasing demands for game demos, Linux             with DirectX and OpenGL games, but all that
quarter or every six months we can give you the        software and system software. Satisfying             is slowly being resolved.
past issues of our Fast Track on PDF.                  everyone does become a difficult task. But yes,           As for the videos, we have planned this,
     And no, you don’t need to pay to get your         we will bear your request in mind.                   and you should see it happen in the next
faulty CD/DVD replaced. Just send it back to us                                     — Associate Editor      few months.


                                                                                                                                        DIGIT DECEMBER 2005       221
                                                                                An Online Funeral To Mourn
                                                                                A Gamer’s Death
                                                                                C
                                                                                       hinese players of the         other, and sit with their heads
                                                                                       MMORPG hit World of           bowed for a while. OK, if you still
                                                                                       Warcraft (WoW) held an        don’t get it, check out the
                                                                                online funeral service last month    picture at http://snipurl.
                                                                                after a gamer—a young girl—died      com/digittabloid1.
                                                                                playing the game. ‘Snowly’ died           On that page, Joi Ito, another
                                                                                in October after playing WoW for     avid WoW player, writes: “Players
                                                                                many days during a national          often play until they pass out,
                                                                                holiday, in preparation for a        especially when they are
                                                                                particularly difficult stretch       questing in a group, where their
           People And Events That Grabbed Headlines—For Better Or For Worse     of the game, in which she            participation is required... There
                                                                                would have to kill the Black         is also a lot of pressure to catch
                                                                                Dragon Prince.                       up if you drop behind in order to

         Kelly Brook’s                                                              Members of the online
                                                                                community remember her to be
                                                                                “a diligent and dedicated player.”
                                                                                                                     play your role.”
                                                                                                                          This comes just a little while
                                                                                                                     after another gaming-related

         Pics From Three                                                            So what exactly is an online
                                                                                funeral? Do members get on a
                                                                                chat board and offer
                                                                                                                     death, and the Chinese
                                                                                                                     government is planning to
                                                                                                                     introduce monitoring tools that

         Leaked Online                                                          condolences to the bereaved? No
                                                                                way! An “online funeral” is just
                                                                                what it sounds like—people get
                                                                                                                     will prevent players from
                                                                                                                     logging on and gaming for long
                                                                                                                     hours. Gamers are already
                                                                                on the game, come towards each       protesting, of course.



                                                                                IT Firm Bans Whinging!
                                                                                G
                                                                                       ermany-based IT company       work official after one female
                                                                                       Nutzwerk Ltd has added        employee refused to subscribe to
                                                                                       whinging (informal            the company’s philosophy of
                                                                                disapproving) to a list of things    always smiling.”
                                                                                that can get an employee sacked:         Employees who wake up
                                                                                employees have to constantly be      grumpy need not come to office
                                                                                in a good mood as part of their      and can stay at home rather
                                                                                employment contract!                 than spoiling the work
                                                                                    Manager Thomas Kuwatsch          ambience. However, employees
                                                                                said, “We made the ban on            who take too many leaves may
                                                                                moaning and grumpiness at            also be sacked!



                                                                                The First Amendment,
         Explicit images of Brook from her upcoming film are already online
                                                                                Now For Schoolkids
        B
              rit actress Kelly Brook is     shows a topless Kelly in the


                                                                                W
              getting free publicity for     ocean writhing around with                    hen Ryan Dwyer built          Dwyer was suspended for a
              her upcoming movie             some dude, with a tom-peeper                  his Web site in 2003,     week, banned from playing
        Three, courtesy the Web site         in the bushes watching them.                  little did he know it     baseball for a month, and
        What Would Tyler Durden Do?               Brook has objected            would become a profit-making         even barred from going on a
        (WWTDD). In public, however,         strongly to the “explicit”         venture! His school in New           class trip.
        Brook is acting furious.             nature of the scene, but the       Jersey has promised to pay               And the school didn’t even
        Apparently, the site posted          actual reason, according to        $117,500 (Rs 5.17 lakh) as           have a rulebook with such
        nude scenes from Three for the       commentators at WWTDD, is          compensation for punishing           disciplinary action—or any
        benefit of the general public.       because it is pure “crap”.         him on critical statements           guidelines to handle such cases—
            WWTDD said, “Kelly is                 The site has also remarked,   about his middle school. One of      mentioned. OK, the amount
        suing because she felt certain       “If that second dude was there     the entries in the guestbook         might seem too much, but
        scenes were too explicit and she     to judge the bikini contest,       section of his site, too, was        remember that the First
        didn’t want them to be seen.”        he’s gonna be pretty               considered unacceptably              Amendment is taken, well, very
        The scene we’re talking about        disappointed.”                     critical by school authorities.      seriously in America.




222
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