Digit Magazine - July 2006 Issue

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Digit Magazine - July 2006 Issue Powered By Docstoc

Mobile Phone, the unifier

  I’D LIKE TO share an incident that set me thinking a
  little differently about the Digital Divide, especially in
  reference to our country. A few days ago, close to mid-
  night, I was just about to leave my home and head to
  office for some late—night finishing—up work. The
  watchman—a 20-year-old boy!—asked me what time I
  would return. Concerned about him having to stay
  awake until I returned, I told him to go to bed. “I
  might return only at four in the morning, and I’ll
  wake you up by calling out loud.” To this he shot back,
  “Don’t bother shouting at that early hour—just give
  me a missed call.”
       “Slightly taken aback” is how I would describe my
  reaction. It’s not surprising that my watchman owns
  a cell phone, really—there are plenty of stories about
  hawkers, auto drivers, and even beggars owning one.
  But what is unforeseen is that though he earns barely
  2,000 rupees a month, he feels the need to spend Rs
  1,800 on a second-hand phone, and also Rs 350 for a
                                                               Deepak Ajwani Associate Editor
  pre-paid card with a subscription to caller tunes. I
  later found out that his next plan is to save up a thou-
  sand rupees for a “lifetime incoming free” card.
       The incident left me with two things to mull over:        “If increasing PC penetration can
  first, the spending habits of not just the middle-            further the digital divide amongst
  income group, but also of those belonging to the
  lowest of the income groups, are being redefined.                 the different income groups,
  Second, if increasing PC penetration can further the
  digital divide amongst the different income groups,
                                                                   increasing mobile use will, in
  increasing mobile use will, in contrast, bring them             contrast, bring them together”
       The mobile phone, for me, is therefore a thing of       nectivity has been a significant investment for my
  wonder. It has the power to bridge a gap—a dangerous         watchman—but we’re getting there. And it’s not lim-
  and ever-increasing gap so often called the Digital          ited to the cities—mobiles are entering even the most
  Divide: a gap between those with regular, effective          far-flung rural areas of India.
  access to digital technologies and those without. For            Change happens slowly in India. People in this
  example, there is a tremendous degree of disparity in        country really do find it harder to adapt to change.
  the opportunity to access the Internet, and educa-           But technology here has gone against the grain. We’re
  tional and business opportunities are tied to this           now adapting as fast as anyone else. We can’t say what
  access. People in countries where access to digital          will happen if what the much-in-the-news Bill Gates
  technologies is cheap and more pervasive, naturally          said comes true: that hardware will one day be free.
  gain the competitive edge.
       Enter the mobile: a decade ago, India leapfrogged
  into the computer revolution, and a similar thing will
  happen now with the mass adoption of mobile
  telephony. It’s going to be faster this time round: back
  in the 1990, computers were expensive. It’s still not                                        editor@thinkdigit.com
  entirely rosy with mobile phones—like I said, con-
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    Mohd. Ansari, Shashi Shekhar Singh,                     HARDWARE                                       Transcend StoreJet 2.5 40 GB                    HP Officejet 5610 All-in-One
    Ravindra Dighe
                                                            Inkjet Printers . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66   Corel Draw Graphics Suite X3                    HP Officejet 6318 All-in-One
    Audience Development                                    EPSON Stylus C45                                                                               Lexmark P6250
    Assistant Manager Puja Punj, Krishnadas Kurup           Canon Pixma iP1200                             Inkjet MFDs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100     Lexmark X3350
    Digit Patron Cell Neha Patel, Prerana                   Canon Pixma iP 1600                            Brother DCP-115C
    Executives James D’Souza
                                                            Epson Stylus C67                               Brother MFC-215C                                SOFTWARE
    Circulation — Sales                                     HP Deskjet 460cb                               Brother MFC-3240                                Parental Control Software . . . 35
    Head Sunder Thiyagarajan                                HP Photosmart 7838                             BrotherMFC-5840CN                               Child Control 2006
    Co-ordinator Rahul Mankar                               HP Officejet K550 Pro                          Brother MFC-620CN                               ContentProtect
    Customer Service                                                                                       Brother MFC-410CN                               Cyber Patrol
    Amarjit Kaur, Radha Kathare, Manali Bagle               New and Notable . . . . . . . . . . . 76       Canon MP150                                     CYBERsitter 9.0
    Head Office: Editorial, Marketing                       Genius LOOK 315FS                              Canon MP450                                     iProtectYou Web Filter v7.10
    and Customer Service                                    GIGABYTE N211U                                 Canon MP500                                     Net Nanny
    Plot No D-222/2, TTC Industrial Area, MIDC              Nokia 6708                                     Canon MP530                                     Optenet Web Filter
    Shirvane, Nerul, Navi Mumbai 400 706                    Plantronics Discovery 640 Bluetooth            Canon MP830                                     Parental Filter 0.24
    Phone: +91 022-27629191/9200                            headset                                        Epson CX3700                                    We-Blocker 2.0
    Fax: +91 022-27629164
                                                            Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 750 GB               Epson CX4700
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6   DIGIT JULY 2006                                         (022) 56310515/14                   Phone: +919341401947               (022) 56310515/14
    Enter               Digital Passion                                55 Act Naturally
                                                                       We’re sick of being tied to the same old
                                                                       keyboard and mouse—why can’t we just talk
                                                                       to computers the way we do to people? A
                                                                       look at the future of the fabled Human-
                                                                       Computer Interface
    Mrs Iyer... er...
    Konkona Sen
    Sharma and her
    with her

    Armageddon is
    upon us!            35 A Sleazy Playground
    Gather your         How do you shield yourself and your
    supplies,           family from online smut? Plus: Nine
    protect your        parental control programs tested—how
    kiddies, and
    hide in your        well do they protect your child?
    bunker!                                                            59 The Protectors
                                                                       Three people from different corners of the
    30                  50 Inside The Xbox 360                         country come together to create a
    Why is              What makes the Xbox 360 tick? Why is it
    everyone                                                           community of ethical hackers. Find out what
                        the cat’s whiskers for gamers? We take a
    fighting for Net                                                   drives them to protect India’s Web sites from
    Neutrality?         nosedive into its innards and find out!
                                                                       malicious attackers

                                                               Contents Magazine
      Digital Tools                                                76 New & Notable
                                                                   Showcasing an über-cool Bluetooth headset, a
     65 Net Gain                                                   “Football Fever” Web cam, and Corel’s latest
     Want to send your 200 MB holiday video to                     weapon against Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
     your friends, but don’t know how to get it to
     them? Yousendit.com lets you send over even
     the most massive of files!                                    79 Tips & Tricks
                                                                   Get what you want
     66 Shades Of Colour                                           out of Google with
     On the market for a new inkjet printer? Don’t                 these nifty search
     leave home without reading about the latest ink-              tips! Also featuring
     spitters out there!                                           some all-time
                                                                   favourite Microsoft
                                                                   Office tips

                                                                   84 30 Minute Expert
                                                                   Turn your Active Desktop into something useful,
                                                                   then go build a house in Google SketchUp

                                                                   92 Agent 001
                                                                   What’s a PC if it has no life-force? Agent 001 goes
                                                                   out hunting for the best Power Supply Unit
                                                                   (PSU)—yes, brands matter!

8   DIGIT JULY 2006
      Digital Business                                                                             98 Divide And Conquer
                                                                                                   Heard a lot about grid computing but don’t know
     95 #include me_too.please                                                                     what to do with it? For starters, use the Grid to
     The Indian Software Industry is one that’s                                                    distribute your data storage over your office LAN
     making progress—not to mention money—at an
     obscene rate. And it’s not too hard for you to get
     in, either! Here’s the low-down on the road to
     software heaven

                                                                                                   100 One Device Army
                                                                                                   Print, fax, copy, scan! We put 15 Inkjet Multi-
                                                                                                   Functional Devices to the test—which one is right
                                                                                                   for your office?

                                                                                                               July 2006
       Digital Leisure                                                                                                                                   Escape

                                                                                                                                                         Ever wondered
                                                                                                                                                         who made up the
                                                                                                                                                         rules of the
   113 Sight And Sound                                                                                                                                   Internet? John
   JAWS need not conjure up bloody images of                                                                                                             Postel, and how
                                                                                                                                                         he turned it from
   shark attacks—it’s also a software that aids                                                                                                          jungle to society
   the visually impaired in computing
     115 Game On                                                                                                                                         Can a computer
                                                                                                                                                         program predict
     Spellforce 2: Shadow Wars, CSI: 3                                           118 Digit’s Believe It Or Not!                                          the outcome of
     Dimensions of Murder, and Full Spectrum                                     Presenting some of the totally weird                                    the World Cup?
     Warrior: Ten Hammers reviewed!                                              products ever cooked up!

           Three Incredibly Useful Sites ..........20             Geek Dreams ..................................63         Blogwatch ......................................123

           The Digital World ............................20       Q&A ................................................87   Tech Quiz........................................124
           Beat That ........................................24   Whatever Happened To ..................120               Inbox..............................................130
           Gender Bender ................................26       Bluff Your Way Through..................122              Tabloid Tech ..................................132
           Buzzword Of The Month ..................26             Digit Diary ......................................122

                                                                                                                                                                JULY 2006 DIGIT     9

          DIGITAL PASSION                              DIGITAL TOOLS                            DIGITAL BUSINESS                         DIGITAL LEISURE
      GAME                                         CorelDRAW Graphics                       IntelliCAD                      SMALL GAMES
                                                   Suite X3                                 IntelliCAD is the                        3D UltraPong 1.5
      Hitman: Blood Money                                                                   intelligent choice                       3D UltraPong is the classic pong game
      Hitman: Blood Money will                                                              for architects,                          with amazing 3D graphics
      deliver the most brutal                                                               engineers,
      and realistic                                                                         designers -
      simulation of life as                                                                 virtually any
      the world's                                                                           professional who creates or uses CAD
      deadliest                                                                             drawings
                                                                                            AllyCAD Freeware
      Rush for Berlin                                                                       AllyCAD is a
      Rush For Berlin is a tactical real time                                               powerful and user-
      strategy game, set on the European           Transform ideas into professional        friendly 2D CAD                          ■ 5 Days A Stranger
                                                   results!                                 package that has                         ■God  of Thunder
                                                                                            established itself                       ■ Helicopter Cacophony 2
                                                   Ulead DVD Workshop 1.2                   as the best of its
                                                   Ulead DVD                                breed
                                                   Workshop is a
                                                   powerful, yet                            ArchT 2007
                                                   flexible DVD                             ArchT architectural software is the
                                                   authoring software                       result of partnering with individuals
                                                   designed for                             and firms the world over to create
                                                   creative video
                                                   professionals and

      battlefields of World War II.                Photo Collage
      The player's goal; to capture the            Studio                                   powerful, easy-to-use yet affordable     ■ Hobo Soccer
      German capital, as either the                Wondershare Photo                        architectural software for IntelliCAD    ■ Karting Race
      British/US/French alliance or the Red        Collage Studio is a                      and AutoCAD                              ■ Ozzie and the Quantum Playwright
      army of the Soviet Union                     digital photo collage
                                                   utility that                             PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS                       MOVIES
      Titan Quest                                  assembles favorite                       ■ Advanced ID Creator Personal 5.12.30   Elephants Dream
      The Titans have                              photos into an                           ■ ART-SHOP X-Lite by MASTER-DESIGN
      escaped their                                artistic compilation                     ■ Columbus
      eternal prison,                                                                       ■ GridBlocks DISK
      wreaking havoc                               MULTIMEDIA
      upon the earth.                              ■ Super Duper Music Looper XPress 2.0    MOBILE APPS
      The gods seek a hero who can turn the        ■ Adesign
      tide in an epic struggle that will           ■ DVD Photo Slideshow
      determine the fate of both men and           ■ DVD Slideshow Builder V1.1.5
      gods. Are you ready for the quest?           ■ ImTOO DVD Ripper Platinum
                                                   ■ ImTOO MOV Converter v3.1
      Macromedia Dreamweaver 8                                                                                                       The film tells the story of Emo and
                             Macromedia            INTERNET                                                                          Proog, two people with different visions
                             Dreamweaver 8 is      ■ AV Webcam Morpher 1.0.66                                                        of the surreal world in which they live
                             the industry-         ■ FireFox Extensions
                             leading web           ■ Yahoo! Messenger 7.5
                             development tool,     ■ IMGiant Instant
                             enabling users to       Messenger 3.0                          ■ Image Explorer 0.3
                             efficiently design,   ■ Active WebCam 7.2                      ■ Best Screen Snap 1.01
                             develop and           ■ VCam 1.0.5                             ■ DAVA Picture Viewer 2.0.5
                             maintain              ■ Internet Download                      ■ Photos2Resize 2.0.1
                             standards-based         Manager 5.03                           ■ Aileron Mail 5.1.45
      websites and applications                    ■ HiDownload Pro 6.9 Beta 3
                                                   ■ Safe Chat Universal Messenger With
      LINUX                                          Parental Controls 1.8.4
      ■ Alien Arena 2006 Uranium Edition
      ■ Bbweather 0.6.3                            SYSTEM
      ■ CACAO 0.96                                 ■ Autopatcher XP April 2006 Update
      ■ Gdm                                        ■ Autopatcher XP May 2006 Update
      ■ Libxml2 - Library offering a XML parser.   ■ Cobian Backup
      ■ Linux Kernel                     ■ DirectX 9.0c Redistributable June 06   ■ Handy Expense for UIQ 2.06
      ■ MyOODB 1.7.3                               ■ Partition Logic 0.62                   ■ Softick Audio Gateway 1.06
      ■ MySQL 5.0.22                               ■ Peter's Flexible Renaming Kit 1.65     ■ SplashPhoto for Smartphone 4.41
      ■ DotDefender 2.16                           ■ SiSoftware Sandra Lite 2007.6.10.98
      ■ Nessus 3.0.3                               ■ Directory Compare and Synchronize
      ■ OXygen XML Editor & XSLT Debugger -
      ■ Java-based XML Editor.

      ■ CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor
      ■ DirectX SDK - (April 2006)
      ■ EasyMod Php
      ■ EasyPHP 1.8
      ■ CoffeeCup Button Factory 7.0                                                                                                 Zombie Muffin Munchers!!!

10    DIGIT JULY 2006
                                                                                     Contents Interactive

    DIGITAL PASSION                           DIGITAL TOOLS                              DIGITAL BUSINESS                        DIGITAL LEISURE

First Page                                3D Sci-Fi Movie Maker 2.04                 SmartMovie 3.21                         SMALL GAMES
2006 3.00
Create, edit and                                                                                                             Alien Clones
deploy Web sites                                                                                                             Take on foreign
with First Page                                                                                                              predators. This
2006. The                                                                                                                    game requires
integrated tools                                                                                                             you to be fast
empower Web                                                                                                                  and accurate
developers to develop
standards-based Web documents
                                          3D Sci-Fi Movie Maker is a multi-                                                  Badaboom
Blender 2.41                              purpose creative tool. It can be used to                                           Clear as many balls as possible.
                                          produce scenes for inclusion in home
                                          made machinima movies
                                                                                     The tools you might need to have that
                                          CA eTrust PestPatrol Anti-                 music video, film or home-movie
                                          Spyware                                    playing on your handheld device in a
                                          Spyware Removal with of                    couple of minutes
                                          CA eTrust PestPatrol Anti-
                                          Spyware!                                   Pocket DVD Wizard 4.6
                                                                                     The Pocket
                                          MULTIMEDIA                                 DVD Wizard
                                          ■ AVS DVD Player 1.6                       will allow you
                                          ■ BSplayer 1.41                            to convert                              ■   Blooming Gardens
Blender is the open source software for   ■ Zwei-Stein Video Editor 3.01             standard DVD
3D modeling, animation, rendering,        ■ ABC DVD Copy 2.01                        content, Mpeg
post-production, interactive creation     ■ AutoRun 3.1.4                            and AVI files
and playback                              ■ J. River MEDIA CENTER 11.0               into Windows Media Player files
                                          ■ MIS Info Video 2.2.0                     suitable for your Pocket PC
ImageMagick 6.2.7-8                       ■ MP3 Rectifier 1.0                                                                ■   Bush Shoot-Out
ImageMagick is a                          ■ VCDEasy 3.1.0                            PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS                      ■   UFO Joe
package for                                                                          ■ 1-4-all Account lite 1.3.5
display and                               INTERNET                                   ■ AnyCard:  Credit Card Processing
interactive                               ■ 12Ghosts Popup-Killer 8.05                 Software 3.12
manipulation of                           ■ AbsoluteToolbar                          ■ Controlling Your Business 4.0
images for the X                          ■ Celestia 1.4.1                           ■ Elohai Free Accounting 2.0
Window System                             ■ Chat with Me Now 1.0                     ■ EMS SQL Manager 2005 Lite for SQL     ■ Big Kahuna Reef 2
                                          ■ Express Dial 1.11                          Server 2.3                            ■ Brickshooter Egypt
DEVELOPER TOOLS                           ■ GroupMail Free Edition         ■ Optimik 2.36c                         ■ Baseball

■   AceHTML Freeware build 9              ■ Magitime 6                               ■ PDF Reader 2.4
■   Alleycode HTML Editor 2.16            ■ Spyware Doctor 3.2                       ■ Star EZ Inventory 1.10
                                          ■ Auto Reply Manager for Outlook           ■ Senomix Timesheets 2.61
                                          ■ CounterSpy 1.5.82                        ■ DipTrace 1.23
                                                                                     ■ Drill-Down Tally 2006 3.136
                                          SYSTEM                                     ■ I-Navigation 3.2
                                          ■ DSynchronize 2.23
                                          ■ Easy Burning 1.89d
                                          ■ Edit Pad Classic 3.5.3
                                          ■ JustZIPit 130.33a
                                          ■ MetriScope (with Windows Pack) 3.0.3
                                          ■ Microsoft Windows Malicious
■ C++ Server Pages 1.6                      Software Removal Tool                                                            VIDEOS
■ CodeJack 3.0                            ■ TrID 2.00
■ Advanced Virtual COM Port 2.3.3         ■ Quick Starter 2.8
■ Code to Chart 2.0                       ■ Window Washer
■ FTP Voyager Software Development
■ HotHTML 3 Professional 1.5.3000                                                    MOBILE APPS
■ LopeEdit Pro 5.0                                                                   ■ IPCheck Mobile GUI 2.0
■ Source Editor                                                              ■ Nyx Password Storage 1.21
                                                                                     ■ Allok Video to PSP Converter 1.2.2
LINUX                                                                                ■ GPRS Remote Control 4.0
■ FSlint                                                                             ■ Mobile Admin 3.2
■ GAV 0.9.0                               ESSENTIALS                                 ■ Spb Backup 1.1
■ GCfilms 6.2                             ■ .NET Framework 1.1                       ■ Time for Life Pocket PC 1.1
■ GTK2 - GUI Toolkit.                     ■ Avast Home Edition 4.7
■ Phorum 5.1.13                           ■ Digit Software Archive 2006 Beta
■ Predict 2.2.3                           ■ Foxit PDF Reader 1.3 build 0104
■ Sylpheed 2.2.5                          ■ Irfan View 3.98
■ Sysstat 6.1.3                           ■ K-Lite Mega Codec Pack 1.53
■ @Mail 4.4                               ■ Opera 9.0 Beta 2
                                          ■ Spybot Search and Destroy 1.4
                                          ■ Spybot Search and
                                          Detection updates
                                          ■ VLC Media Player 0.8.5
                                          ■ Winamp 5.22
                                          ■ WinRAR 3.60 beta 4
                                          ■ ZoneAlarm 6.5.7

For any queries regarding the CD or DVD, e-mail help@jasubhai.com with “CD/DVD” as the subject.                                                     DIGIT JULY 2006   11
If the subject is not mentioned, your mail might not reach the right person.

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                         Ulead DVD Workshop 1.2                                                                                                     on www.
                         Size: 242 MB
                         Autopatcher XP May ‘06
                         Size: 67.8 MB                                        Digit Reader Poll
                                                                             This Month’s Question

                                                                              You are exposed to online porn mostly from?
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                                                                                 Links from Friends/Collegues                Online Chat
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                                                       taste technology at
  FEATURED TUTORIAL FROM DIGIT FORUM (www.thinkdigit.com/forum)
  Starting this month, we will feature one member tutorial from the forum

AJAX Tutorial
29-05-2006,   Chapter 1: The grounds of our app                                                 Code:
11:55 PM      Let's first start with a generic xHTML page:                                      <?php
              Code:                                                                             printf("AJAX was here");
rohan         <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN"                    ?>
Broken In     "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">                        Now things are setup, we can go into AJAX.
                     <html        xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"             lang="en"
              xml:lang="en">                                                                    Chapter 2: The XMLHttpRequest() object
                  <head>                                                                        The XMLHttpRequest() is a JavaScript object. It has the following methods:
                   <meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html" />
                   <title>My first AJAX page</title>                                            Code:
Join Date:        </head>                                                                       XMLHttpRequest.abort() -> Abort the XMLHttpRequest request
Mar 2004
Location:         <body>                                                                        XMLHttpRequest.getAllResponseHeaders() -> Get all the headers from
Baroda             <p>Hello world</p>                                                           XMLHttpRequest request to the server
Posts: 133
                  </body>                                                                       XMLHttpRequest.getResponseHeader() -> Get only the 'status' and
                </html>                                                                         'readyState' headers from XMLHttpRequest request to the server
              Now, let's create a script object for inserting the AJAX code. Here is the mod-   XMLHttpRequest.open() -> Open(Initialize) a XMLHttpRequest()
              ified <head> section of our HMTL page:                                            XMLHttpRequest.send() -> Execute the XMLHttpRequest()
              <head>                                                                            It has the following event(s):
                <script type="text/javascript">                                                 Code:
                <!--                                                                            XMLHttpRequest.onReadyStateChange -> Event executes whenever the
                  //Our code comes here                                                         request is available.
                </script>                                                                       P.S: Actually, onReadyStateChange is a property of the object which has the
              </head>                                                                           value of the function which is to be executed when the request is available.

              Now, we come to the server-side. Here is the generic php code for outputting      For the full tutorial (and many more) visit:
              a simple string "AJAX was here":                                                  http://www.thinkdigit.com/forum/showthread.php?t=29134
     E-mail: The Good And The Bad                                            Designed In California, Made In China
     The proportion of e-mails that contain malware has                      British newspaper The Mail has claimed that iPods are made
     fallen for the first six months this year compared to                   in Chinese factories under “slave” conditions. The paper
     the same period last year. About one in 91 e-mails                      alleged that one particular factory employed 2 lakh workers,
     contained a virus or other types of malware, far less                   working 15 hours a day for a monthly pay of $50 (Rs 2,300).
     than the 1-in-35 figure of a year ago.                                  Foxconn Electronics has sternly denied the allegations.

      Konkona Sen Sharma                      THE CORE WARS

      A   lthough she was
          introduced as the
                                              A Giga-Core Processor By 2020?
      daughter of actor/director
      Aparna Sen, Konkona made

      a niche for herself with her                   research director at    will not have the memory                        multiple cores will need to
             very first feature film                 Gartner has recently    controller integrated into                      be built, and they will. It’s
               Mr and Mrs Iyer.                      said that the move      the chip. Bhandarkar did                        not clear how the chip
                 She went on to              from single- to dual-core       admit that integrating the                      giants are surging ahead
                  wow audiences in           processors has broken a         memory controller directly                      with their plans for multi-
                  films such as              certain barrier: “We’re now     into the chip would improve                     core desktop computing in
                  Page 3 and 15              in a multi-core world—          performance with some                           the absence of software that
                 Park Avenue.                there’s no looking back.”       workloads. Intel                                can use them, but that’s
                                             The core wars have begun. If    officials,                                       always been the story:
               Technology to you             you were only just                                                                 software follows hardware
           is….                              getting used to the                                                                follows software.
      … what makes us sit up and             idea of dual-core,                                                                 Something like Windows
      take notice of our                     prepare to expand                                                                  Vista’s hardware
      surroundings everyday. I               your imagination.                                                                  requirements!
      mean, with every new                       Intel officials have                                                               But Clovertown aside,
      innovation, we actually wonder         indicated that chips                                                             is a giga-core processor
      “Wow! What next?”                      with dozens of cores                                                            conceivable? No-one knows,
      What are your favourite                might be possible by the                                                          of course, but you can
      gadgets?                               end of the current                                                                never tell with
      I don’t have any particular            decade. In 10 years,                                                               nanotechnology. What’s
      favourites especially since            chips with hundreds of                                                               confusing is the variety
      technology is such a double-           cores might emerge,                                                                   of approaches to
      edged sword. For example, my           they say. And as a                                                                    increasing performance.
      cell phone, a Nokia 6100, is           natural progression,                                                                   What exactly will the
      undeniably an instrument I             we might use the                                                                      computer of 2020 look
      cannot make do without. But it         words “kilo,” “mega,”                                                               like? Will it be based on
      can sometimes be intrusive.            and “giga” to refer to                                                           multi-core silicon chips?
                                                                                      Illustrations Harsho Mohan Chattoraj
      However, I’m curious about             the ~number of cores~                                                           Will something replace
      new innovations and do keep            in a processor!                 however, think it is more                       silicon? Will it be
      myself informed.                           Intel is planning to ship   important to bring a quad-                      alternative computing
                                             quad-core chips later this      core processor to the                           paradigms, such as
      What do your online
                                             year to computer                market before AMD does.                         quantum and DNA
      activities entail?
                                             manufacturers. Not to be        Intel expects to beat AMD                       computing? Will it be
      As an actress, work takes up
                                             left behind, AMD, of course,    by a quarter or two.                            something exotic, like
      much of my time, and I don’t
                                             will possibly ship quad-core        According to                                reversible computing? We
      find the time for more than
                                             chips in early 2007.            Bhandarkar, Intel doesn’t                       live in an exponential age.
      surfing and e-mail. But e-mailing
                                                 It seems Intel will have    stand to lose much in the
      is a key activity; I handle a lot of
                                             the lead, in terms of both      way of performance by                           PARANOIA
      my work through it.
                                             performance and energy          having a multi-chip package
      Any particular incident
      where technology came to
                                             efficiency. Speaking at a
                                             conference in mid-June in
                                                                             for the quad-core
                                                                             processors, as opposed to
                                                                                                                             Error 417:
      your rescue?
      No major life-saving incident,
                                             New York, Dileep
                                             Bhandarkar, architect at
                                                                             AMD’s design—a single piece
                                                                             of silicon with four cores.
                                                                                                                             End Of World
      but technology brings small            large for Intel in Santa        The Clovertown chip’s
      mercies to everyday living. Even
      with my cell phone, for example:
      I can actually recognise an alien
                                             Clara, said that when Intel’s
                                             quad-core “Clovertown” is
                                             released in the first half of
                                                                             performance will be helped
                                                                             by having independent
                                                                             front-side buses dedicated
                                                                                                                             E   xperts are warning that
                                                                                                                                 IT disasters could be a
                                                                                                                             threat to the human race.
      number and not take the call if I      2007, it will be a single       to each processor.                              The Bulletin of the Atomic
      don’t wish to—and call back            package of two dual-core            Naturally, applications                     Scientists (BAS)—known for
      later. Isn’t that a boon?              chips, and that the chips       that take advantage of                          its Doomsday Clock, which

16   DIGIT JULY 2006
               Security Watch
                                             is now at seven minutes to        government risk
         Internet Explorer                   midnight—is holding a             assessments of possible                        YouTube
         Vulnerabilities                     series of “doomsday               cyber attacks—also recently                           The interface
                                             reconsidered” meetings to         warned that criminals or                              here is neat,
         The Problem                         look at future threats to         terrorists could target IT                            and videos can
         Mid-June, Microsoft released 12     civilisation. Executive           systems. A key target could           be rated. You can save videos
                                                                                                                     to your favourites, add them
         security updates to fix at least    director Kennette Benedict        be supervisory control and            to groups, and share and blog
         21 vulnerabilities in Windows       told a radio station that         data acquisition systems in           them. Along with a thumbnail
         and other software, including       they would be taking stock        power plants and such. Borg           of the video, you also see
         12 flaws labelled “critical.” At    of the threats that might be      told the newspaper The                when the video was posted, its
         least eight different flaws—four    catastrophic to humans.           Independent, “Think of the            rating, category, and more.
         of them critical—have been              New threats will be           control systems for chemical
         found in IE. A problem has also     investigated at the meeting       plants, railway lines or              Google Video
         been found with Microsoft’s         in addition to those of           manufacturing facilities.             Here you can’t
         implementation of JavaScript:                                               Shutting these systems          comment on
         the baddies have been known                                                 down is a nuisance.             videos, and you
         to use JavaScript flaws to                                                  Causing them to do              can’t mark a
         install bad programs. Then                                                  the wrong thing at the          video as a
                                                                                                                     favourite. The interface is
         there’s a flaw in almost every                                              wrong time is much              clumsy compared to that of
         version of Windows Media                                                    worse.”                         YouTube… and there are
         Player, and a host of other                                                     So could IT bring           other little niggles: no view
         problems have been found as                                                 about the end of the            count, and no ratings.
         well—including a security hole                                              world? That might be
         in Word 2000, XP, and 2003;                                                 fatalistic thinking, but
         a critical flaw in PowerPoint—                                              GNR (Genetics,              PATENT, WAIT, SUE… AGAIN
         and more!                                                                   Nanotechnology,
                                                                                     Robotics) technologies
                                                                                     are something to
         The Damages
         Microsoft calls a vulnerability                                             reckon with when
                                                                                     thinking along these
                                                                                                                 And Skype In
         “critical” if attackers could
         exploit it without any action on
                                             atomic weapons and such.
                                                                                     lines. Experiments are
                                                                               currently on that merge
                                                                                                                 Silly Legal
         the part of the victim. Critical
         flaws in IE are especially          Benedict said, “We’ll also be
                                             looking at new developments
                                                                               human genes with those of
                                                                               goats and other such
         dangerous because they
         expose users to the risk of         in life sciences, in synthetic    animals, recalling images of
         having their computer
         completely hijacked by visiting
         a malicious site.
                                             biology, for instance, and
                                             some of the emerging
                                                                               Greek mythical creatures.
                                                                               Nanotechnology conjures
                                                                               up the image of “grey
                                                                                                                 I  nternet phone company
                                                                                                                    Net2Phone, which was a
                                                                                                                 popular paid service in the
                                             nanotechnologies, and how         goo”—swarms of nano-              old days (read 2000) has
         The Solution                        these may converge with life      robots spread all over the        filed a patent infringement
         You need to immediately install     and developments in               atmosphere. And as for            lawsuit against Skype
         the patches. All the required       biotechnologies, and we’ll        robotics, we’ve mentioned         Technologies and its parent
         patches are available via the       also look at information          elsewhere in this issue that      company eBay. Net2Phone
         Microsoft Update Web site           technology and the                experts are already warning       alleges that Skype has
         (windowsupdate.microsoft.           vulnerabilities of civilian       of safety concerns as robots      infringed on its VoIP patent,
         com), or you can activate           infrastructure.”                  increasingly enter homes          which it applied for in 1995
         Automatic Updates on your               The BAS has a Web page:       and offices.                      and which was issued in
         computer. Office 2000 users         www.thebulletin.org.                  Technology enables—but        August 2000.
         will need to also visit                 Scott Borg, the director      it just might destroy. But all        Skype uses P2P
         Microsoft’s Office Update           and chief economist of the        this could, of course, be just    technology for its VoIP
         site to download the Office         US Cyber Consequences             plain, uninformed, old-           service, whereas companies
         patches separately.                 Unit—which gives the US           fashioned paranoia.               such as AT&T use a system

               One Silly Question                  “Whom would you compare your computer's IQ to?”

“Laloo Prasad
                                                                                                 “Bill Gates!”                                  ”
                                   “Abdul Kalam”
                                                                      rich!”                                                       pace S
                                                               “An ost
                                                                                                                             “The S
                                    Poojan                                                                                         v
                                                                     l                                                        Prana

                                                                                                                                       DIGIT JULY 2006   17
           The Digital World                                                                       A Round-up Of Technology News From Across The Globe

                                                                     EUROPEAN UNION
                                                                 The 25 EC member states and nine                                           JAPAN
                                                                 accession countries have signed an                                     NTT DoCoMo Inc has said that
                                                                 agreement committing themselves                                        the number of subscribers to
                                                                 to an “Internet for all” action plan to                                its FOMA 3G mobile phone
                                                                 ensure that even the most Web-                                         service has topped the
                                                                 disadvantaged groups can get online:                                   corresponding number for 2G.
                                                                 Web accessibility could soon be                                        DoCoMo is moving to migrate
                                                                 “mandatory” in Europe!                                                 even more subscribers to 3G.

                                                                UNITED KINGDOM
                                                             BBC director-general
                                                             Mark Thompson wants
                                                             to turn the BBC into a
                                                             truly global media                                 CHINA
                                                             brand. He avers that
                      UNITED STATES                          the Internet is the                            Shanghai will launch
                   Disney has launched a                     future for the 84-year-                        city-wide IPTV services
                   cellphone service tailored                old BBC, one of the                            as Net access speeds
                   to families with children.                world’s foremost                               improve. IPTV will be
                   The Disney Mobile family                  broadcasters.                                  officially launched after
                   plan features include                                                                    Shanghai Telecom
                   letting parents set                                                                      upgrades the local
                   allowances of minutes for                                                                network from to 2 or 3
                   talking, and tracking kids                                                               Mbps. But what about
                   via satellite.                                                                           content being ensored?

     that is centrally managed to               stupid), the patent is
     transfer calls to a                        probably much more                                     Three Incredibly Useful Sites
     traditional phone network.                 complex.
         The case is interesting                    The question, however,                           A Library, Straight Dope and
     because it seems so                        raises its head: why wait so
     frivolous. The patent in                   long? Why not sue when                 www.ipl.org                    The Internet Public Library
     question is the “point-to-                 Skype started off? This is                                            Visit this site to get an idea of how much
     point IP” patent, which                    almost identical to the                                               information you can access! The pane at
     details the “exchange of IP                situation we reported last                                            the left is infinitely expandable—hover
     addresses between                          month in this space, with                                             your mouse over a heading and you get 10
     processing units in order to               Creative suing Apple for a                                            categories, with sub-headings. With
     establish a direct                         patent on a user interface.                                           categories such as Almanacs, Dictionaries,
     communications link                        Net2Phone seems to have                                               Science & Tech, the site links to hundreds
     between the devices via the                waited for Skype to be                                                of sites, and is comparable to the old
     Internet.”                                 acquired by a large                                                   directory-style Yahoo!.
         First thoughts: the                    company before making
     above seems so ambiguous,                  their move.                            www.straightdope.com            The Straight Dope
     it describes almost every                      Perhaps we’ll see a new                                            “Fighting ignorance since 1973.” The
     data transaction on the                    law that bans suing so late                                            Straight Dope answers such questions as
     Internet! How could                        in the day! But the question                                           “How do you donate your body to
     Net2Phone have been                        we’re asking now is, will                                              science?” and “How do they get beer into
     granted this patent? They                  Skype sue back? Will Skype                                             cans?” OK, these might seem silly, but
     could sue anyone on this                   win? Or will the case be                                               imagine that you can get answers to
     basis! The Internet is all                 dismissed on grounds of                                                almost any weird question, and you have
     about two IPs                              frivolity?                                                             the ultimate trivia site at your fingertips.
     communicating with each                                                                                           What does “OK” stand for? What is a mojo?
     other, and at first sight,                 IN THE UK AND SOUTH KOREA                                              Go ahead, it’s all searchable!
     Net2Phone seems to have
     copyrighted the Internet!
         Now, when one reads
                                                Mobile TV                              www.lifehacker.com

     the patent abstract, it
     doesn’t seem as general as
                                                Trials                                                                 The site calls itself the “Productivity and
                                                                                                                       Software Guide.” A humongous
                                                                                                                       homepage boasts of an eclectic collection
     all that, but it still seems to                                                                                   of, well, links and articles. Back up your
     describe all P2P and IM
     systems. We haven’t read
     the entire patent, but in all
                                                I s the time ripe for
                                                  mobile TV, and will DAB
                                                work? That’s what
                                                                                                                       mac the smart way. Download of the Day:
                                                                                                                       Gmail Remote Command. The Daily news
                                                                                                                       roundup. Save your aching wrists; switch
     probability (American                      providers in the UK and                                                your mousing hand. Eclectic, like we said.
     lawyers certainly aren’t                   South Korea are going to                                               You need to take a look. We loved it.

20   DIGIT JULY 2006

                                                                                                                                  Digit Caption
                                                                                                                                  “Research shows CEOs
                                                                                                                                  getting younger every day”
                                                                                                                                  Last Month’s Winner!
                                                                                                                                  Manushree Gangwar
                                                                                                                                  176 Ravindra Garden, Sector-E,
                                                                                                                                  Aliganj, Lucknow-226024, UP

                                                                                                                                   E-mail your caption with the
                                                                                                                                   subject ‘Beat That’, and your
                                                                                                                                   postal address, to
                                                                                                                                   and win
                                                                                                                                   C# Programming
                                                                                                                                   by Burton Harvey,
                                                                                                               ething funnier,
                                                                                         to. Come up with som th of this month.    Simon Robinson
                                                                  ry a caption for a pho      accepted by the 15
                                        Each month, Digit will car                 e! Entries                                      Published by
           Photograph Kawaldeep Singh                         m at their own gam
                                        and beat the Digit tea

     try and find out. A                   Amongst the issues the                    that everyone wants TV on                    LOTS OF MONEY TO BE MADE
     forthcoming six-month              project will investigate are                 their phones.
     trial will cover the London
     area in the UK, and will see
                                        content protection,
                                        coverage, how the receivers
                                                                                          Some aver that most
                                                                                     people on the go won’t be
                                                                                                                                  3G For The
     broadcasts from the BBC,
     the Cartoon Network, and
                                        perform, and chipsets.
                                        Many biggies have already
                                                                                     watching television—for the
                                                                                     obvious reason: they’re on
     ITV, amongst others.
         DAB stands for Digital
                                        expressed their interest in
                                        mobile TV, but barriers
                                                                                     the go, doing something—
                                                                                     not just sitting around
     Audio Broadcast. Two               stand in the way of mobile                   where they can watch TV.
     variants of DAB, which is a
     broadcast standard that
     can be used for mobile TV,
                                        TV becoming mainstream—
                                        including regulations and
                                        rights questions.
                                                                                     (If they’re at home, they
                                                                                     have a much better way to
                                                                                     watch it.) Until holographic
                                                                                                                                  W     ill we actually soon
                                                                                                                                        see widespread 3G in
                                                                                                                                  India? Members of the GSM
     will be tested in the trial.          However, John                             projection phones come in,                   Association (GSMA)
         There are two ways of          Whittingdale MP,                             we’re talking about tiny                     approved, on June 13, a
     delivering video and               chairman of the culture,                     screens. Then there’s the                    programme called “3G for
     multimedia services to             media and sport select                       question of interruptions                    all”—sponsored by the
     mobile devices via DAB.            committee, said the                          from phone calls.                            Hutchison Group— that
     The first is DMB (Digital          industry should not be                            However, Anders Jensen                  could help bring mobile
     Multimedia Broadcasting),          overly threatened by them:                   of Vodafone and Thomas                       Internet access and third-
     which uses the MPEG-4              “These are all relatively                    Ekman of Tele2 believe                       generation multimedia
     coding system via “stream          minor matters. I hope                        that giving people news                      services to more people in
     mode” over DAB. The other          these minor difficulties                     and other content                            poor nations, including
     is via an IP application,          can be resolved soon.”                       whenever and wherever                        India. More than 72 million
     called DAB-IP.                        Minor difficulties these                  they want is the big                         people worldwide use 3G
         Having a choice of             may be, but who exactly                      benefit of mobile TV.                        GSM technology, mostly in
     methods is a key advantage         wants to watch mobile TV?                    “Mobile TV lets you kill                     the developed world. The
     for DAB, since it offers           Several analyst reports                      five minutes whenever you                    GSMA said they want to see
     flexibility and options for        have already questioned                      have them,” Jensen says.                     this number grow to
     network operators.                 the viability of this new                    “There is a convenience                      include folks in
         DAB multimedia                 medium.                                      factor to watching mobile                    underprivileged nations.
     services work with both               There still isn’t much                    TV and, in our society, a                        Through the “3G for all”
     GSM and CDMA networks.             evidence that people                         convenient service has                       programme, the GSMA
     Korea has had DMB                  actually want TV on their                    great potential to become a                  plans to establish a set of
     broadcasts since 2005,             mobile phones. Those                         good business opportunity.                   common requirements for
     with 2 million TV phones           involved with this project,                       “What people see on                     3G handsets, in an effort to
     to be sold by the end of           however, seem to simply                      regular TV, they’ll want to                  help mobile phone
     this year.                         assume that it’s obvious                     watch on their mobiles.”                     suppliers quickly bring

24   DIGIT JULY 2006
                                                                                           a new segment of ultra-low-     MICROSOFT TO END SUPPORT
       GENDER                            Anuradha vs. Bhuvan                               cost phones with wholesale
                          How Many English Pages Can You
                                                                                           prices of less than Rs 1,400
                                                                                           for entry-level handsets. The
                                                                                                                           Death Knell
                          Access On The Web?                                               GSMA has said that the
                                                                                           availability of such handsets
                                                                                                                           Sounds For
                                 00:06:15:43                                               has telecom-enabled
                                                                                           millions of people. In India,
                                                                                                                           Windows 98
                                                                                           the EMH programme has
                                                                                           helped bring the wholesale
                                                                                           cost of GSM handsets down
                                                                                           by more than 25 per cent
                                                                                                                           C   ome July 11 and
                                                                                                                               Microsoft Corporation
                                                                                                                           will be formally ending
                                                                                           since last year.                support for the Windows 98
                                                                                               Despite such a fall in      line of operating systems—
                                                                                           prices, the GSMA estimates      Windows 98, Windows 98 SE
                                                                                           that there are about a          and Windows ME. You
                                                                                           billion people worldwide        probably sit at a much faster
                                                                                           who won’t be able to afford     machine, but PCs on the
       Anuradha’s cerebral cogs and wheels got into action when we told her about          a handset for the               lower side of 128 MB RAM
       the task. She headed to Google.com and typed in “English +Web Pages”. The
       count? 63 million. Not figuring where to find the answer, she opened each           foreseeable future. The         and a 400 MHz CPU still
       result successively, without realising that the result count is displayed just      GSMA, through its               work best with this dated OS.
       below the search tab. We gave her a hint. With renewed energy, she                  Development Fund, is                After the termination of
       rephrased her search term to “English” and then “number +English” to get            looking at how to extend        support, no new security
       4.5 billion. And that was the end of that.
                                                                                           the benefits of mobile          patches, bug fixes or updates
                                                                                           communications to this          will be available. This does
               00:07:20:00                                                                 segment. To this end, the       not mean the end of the
                                                                                           Fund is financing a series      world—one just needs to be
                                                                                           of pilot projects in Africa     extra careful when surfing
                                                                                           and Asia that enable locals     high-risk sites, opening
                                                                                           to set up payphone              unknown .exe files, and so
                                                                                           businesses or Internet          on. A firewall is a good idea.
                                                                                           cafes; it has helped Airtel         Extensive help can be
                                                                                           launch a pilot project in UP    found on forums. If you get
                                                                                           that equips entrepreneurs       a Win98 error message, you
                                                                                           with handsets specially         can type in the error into a
                                                                                           adapted to function as          search engine and follow
       When we told Bhuvan what he needed to do, he seemed very confident indeed. All      payphones.                      the links to forum threads.
       smiles, he Googled “Web Pages +English”. He rephrased his terms a couple of
       times but didn’t get a decent answer. Then thought a different search engine
                                                                                               In regards to 3G, the       Two particularly helpful
       would give better results. Alltheweb.com didn’t help either. We gave him the same   Press Trust of India quoted     forums are
       clue we gave Anuradha. Bhuvan used his first phrase to see the count he had         telecom minister                www.computing.net and
       missed—872 million—a far cry from 26 billion, which is what you get when you        Dayanidhi Maran as              www.annoyances.org.
       Google “+the”. Anuradha wins—for time and for getting closer to what we wanted!
                                                                                           saying, “The Government             Microsoft had
                                                                                           has to make some money          announced the end of
     down the cost of                            handsets that meet the                    out of it (the 3G               support for Win98 and ME
     manufacture. “Our 3G                        mobile operators’ common                  spectrum)... (and) make it      earlier, and had pulled back
     handset initiative will                     requirements. The GSMA                    very competitive and does       that decision; this, according
     allow… people to take                       will endorse the winning                  not want people to sit over     to research analyst firm
     advantage of the video clips,               handset, which will then be               spectrum.” He did not           Gartner, was due to fears of
     mobile music, Internet                      widely deployed by mobile                 mention how 3G should be        users migrating to Linux.
     access… now enjoyed by…                     operators participating in                priced, leaving it to the       Win98 therefore got a new
     users in the developed                      the programme.                            TRAI. “Government will          lease of life, but this time it
     world,” said Rob Conway,                        This latest initiative                take a decision after TRAI      seems to be for real. The real
     chief executive of the GSMA.                builds on the success of the              comes out with its              concern is for small
         The programme will                      GSMA’s earlier Emerging                   recommendations.” Let’s         corporates who cannot be
     encourage phone suppliers                   Market Handset (EMH)                      see how soon that               lax about security, and who
     to compete to design 3G                     programme, which created                  happens.                        will be forced to upgrade.

                                    Google Spreadsheets
                                    E   ncroaching further on Microsoft’s territory,
                                        Google has a new online spreadsheet offering—
                                    cleverly named Google Spreadsheets—and
                                                                                                     mail address. Multiple people can view and edit a
                                                                                                     spreadsheet online simultaneously. You can view
                                                                                                     who’s accessing your spreadsheet, who’s editing it,
                                    everyone’s talking about it. The interface is intuitive,         and chat with them right there! Google auto-saves
                                    and you can work on a spreadsheet as soon as you                 your spreadsheet, freeing you from the worry of
                                    log in to spreadsheets.google.com. About the unique              power failures and system crashes. You can also
                                    features: you can choose who can edit or view a                  save spreadsheets on your system in formats such as
                                    spreadsheet you created just by typing in their e-               XLS, CSV, and HTML.

26   DIGIT JULY 2006
                                            MADE IN INDIA                   #1 DAYTIME MEDIUM                     “I hear more and more
                                                                                                              from marketers that they
                                            IIT IDC DDS? Web High Up                                          have shifted their business
                                                                                                              to be more responsive and
                                                                   In Media                                   realign. There is an active

                                            T Center (IDC) at IIT
                                              he Industrial Design

                                            Bombay showcased the
                                                                                                              movement by traditional
                                                                                                              advertisers to be able to
                                                                                                              explore platform
     Network Neutrality                     design talents of their                                           strategies,” said Horan, who
     What is Network Neutrality?
     Network Neutrality is a policy
     that aims to equalise the
                                            graduating batch at the
                                            Design Degree Show (DDS)
                                            2006 on June 10 and 11.
                                                                            N    ow, in a first-of-its-kind
                                                                                 study, it has been found
                                                                            that the Web is the
                                                                                                              believes research studies
                                                                                                              are attracting the attention
                                                                                                              of advertisers, and may
     Internet, basically stating that
                                                 Technology was clearly a   predominant information           result in a faster shift in ad
     network providers should treat
     all Web sites equally and serve        key point at the show, with     medium in the workplace,          spending to match the
     them to users the best they can.       students’ designs going         is the #1 daytime medium,         actual statistics of
     The aim is to enable users to          from the wild and               and is #2 in the home. This       consumer media usage.
     choose sites based on content          improbable to ideas that we     was documented in a report            Interestingly, the
     rather than how fast they receive      might end up seeing in our      from the Online Publishers        researchers conducting
     them from servers.                     daily lives before we know      Association (OPA).                the OPA study found a
     Who is fighting for it?                it. Among such intriguing           Further, the study says       direct correlation between
     In his paper Network Neutrality,       works was Susheel               17 per cent of all media is       Web traffic and offline
     Broadband Discrimination,              Kewalay’s interactive device    consumed via the Web. This        referrals to Web sites. For
     Columbia University Professor          for traffic policemen,          is a conservative estimate,       example, when PBS—the
     Tim Wu talks about the eerie           allowing them to effectively    and other researchers have        US public broadcasting
     idea that network operators            “wear” traffic signals on       placed the 17 per cent            network—told people they
     could decide which sites open          their hands—no more             figure even higher.               could find more
     faster for you based on how            frantic waving!                     These figures were            information on PBS.org
     much they pay the operators.
     There is also the “Save the
                                                 We were also drawn by      reached via a research            about the topic being
     Internet” Coalition that aims to       Abhishek Chitranshi’s           project by Ball State             discussed, people do go to
     unite the world in an effort to        mobile phone for the            University’s Center for           that Web site; the same
     protect Network Neutrality.            elderly—complete with big       Media Design. It tracked,         was found for print
                                            buttons and an emergency        every 15 seconds, how 350         referrals to publications
     Why are they fighting?                 button should ol’ gramps        people in the US used the         such as The New York
     The US Congress seems all set to
     pass a law that will send Network      need some immediate             media. The genders were           Times (NYTimes.com).
     Neutrality packing. Operators          assistance finding his          represented about equally,            Most of this comes as
     will then be able to sell their best   dentures (or just want to       and each person was               no surprise: Internet
     services to the highest bidder—        annoy you). Of course, the      monitored by another              penetration is ever-
     pay more, and your site will open      idea isn’t new—a similar        person for 80 per cent of         increasing, and the growth
     faster. Web hosts will become          idea debuted at CeBIT this      the waking day.                   and popularity of
     like your local cablewallah—           year, but Abhishek points           “Someone actually came        broadband is driving more
     deciding what you should see           out the brilliance of the       into their homes and              people to the Web.
     based on what’s profitable.            phone’s camera: since the       workplaces and had a              However, it remains to be
     How does it affect me?                 elderly have trouble holding    handheld computer, every          seen whether advertising
     Imagine a situation where your         their hands up for very         15 seconds registering their      on the Web can be made
     competitor pays a network              long, which results in shaky    media consumption and life        more effective, since it is
     provider like Sify to optimise         photos, the camera is           activities,” Pam Horan,           so easy to click away from
     performance for their site, and        designed at an angle, so one    president of the OPA, told        ads on the Net. Perhaps
     not for yours. Corporate
                                            can take a photo without        CNET News.com. This is a          we’ll soon be seeing more
     sabotage will go through the
     roof, and you, the user, will suffer   raising one’s arm much.         first-of-its-kind study           intrusive methods of
     the worst. Your very freedom to                                        because in all earlier            online advertising, such as
     surf whatever you want will be                                         studies of this sort, people      having to view an ad
     threatened: eventually you’ll end                                      were simply questioned            before moving on to a
     up patronising the sites your                                          about media usage via             news article.
     operator wants you to.                                                 phone surveys and such.               The 17 per cent figure—
     When did this madness start?                                               The study used census         which we can conceivably
     On June 8, 2006, the US House                                          data to determine the             augment to 20 or 25 per
     of Representatives passed the                                          spending habits of the 350        cent, since that’s a
     “Communications Opportunity,                                           monitored subjects. Web-          conservative estimate—is
     Promotion and Enhancement Act                                          dominant consumers’               significant. The finding also
     of 2006” (COPE)—an act that has                                        annual retail spending            corroborates with the fact
     no protection for Network                                              averaged $26,450 (Rs 12           that in countries with high
     Neutrality.                                                            lakh), while TV-dominant          Internet penetration, print
     Where can I find more info?                                            consumers’ spending               is going out of fashion.
     To read Tim Wu’s paper, visit                                          averaged considerably lower,      Online ad spending can
     http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/pap                                        at $21,401 (Rs 9.8 lakh).         only increase, partly
     ers.cfm?abstract_id=388863 To                                          Despite this, only about 8        because as this and other
     find out more about the Save the                                       per cent of all advertising is    studies have found, Web
     Internet Coalition, visit                                              done on the Web, according        surfers are richer and spend
                                                                            to other studies.                 more on the average.

30   DIGIT JULY 2006
                           Special Report | Computex

                                                                         ur quest to be your technology nav-           After CeBIT, Computex is the second

                                                                   O     igator saw us at Computex ‘06,
                                                                         between the 6th and 9th of June in
                                                                   Taipei, Taiwan. This was Digit’s first ever
                                                                                                                  largest technology exhibition in the world
                                                                                                                  and its popularity is growing year after year,
                                                                                                                  attracting more exhibitors not only from
                                                                   trip to Computex, and a memorable one          Taiwan but also from other nations. While
                                                                   too—we were also one of the exhibitors,        CeBIT is the place for showcasing of new
                                                                   peddling our wares to the world.               technology, Computex is more an exhibition
                                                                        For those living under the rock, Com-     of products set to hit the market in coming
                                                                   putex is an annual IT exhibition held in the   months from all major Taiwanese compa-
                                                                   capital city of Taiwan—Taipei (why not         nies—ASUS, MSI, ECS, Foxconn and more.
                                                                   Venice?). Well, most IT hardware prod-         Though the event is more for hardware
                                                                   ucts—Motherboards, VGA cards, memory           resellers, it’s the place to take a sneak peek
                                                                   modules, routers, etc. are manufactured        at the products of tomorrow.
                                                                   by Taiwanese companies, hence Taiwan.

     The Colours of Computex! (Clockwise from left) Reception ceremony in traditional Taiwanese fashion, The mascot pays a visit to our booth, Beauties
     running on Segways distributing flyers and last our decorated booth in the Media area of Computex.

32     DIGIT JULY 2006
             ▲biggest show-stopper at Computex 06 was the launch of Intel’s P965 chipset—one that will support the much-hyped Intel Conroe
             processor. As always, the 965 Express chipset has two other variants, the G965 and the Q965. While the G965 with integrated graph-
             ics is targeted towards home users, the Q965 is targeted at businesses. Shown above are motherboards from Foxconn, ASUS, MSI and
             Gigabyte. What’s notable is the use of heat pipes to cool the Northbridge and Southbridges—on high end boards, of course. Also
             expect to see lot of bundled accessories in the final box pack.


                                                                                                         ▲Flashseems toSteroids
                                                              3                                          Flash memory    have caught
                                                                                                         everyone’s fancy. Hard drives based on
                                                                                                         flash memory aren’t light years away—
▲Personal storage was boring, here are glimpses of things
                        storage                                                                          they were right there at the Computex.
                                                                                                         The first one is a Transcend 8 GB IDE
If you thought personal                                                                                  flash drive. The Second packs 32 GB,
to come! 1. great looking USB drives from Transcend available upto 2GB,                                  and the Third is a 1 GB DiskOnModule
just beside is the stylish incarnation from Apacer. 2. The elegant MP3                                   (DOM) with standard USB interface.
player from Apacer with OTG funtionality. 3. That dinky MMC card has an                                  With these drives, you will see lower
astounding 4GB— enough to transform your phone into an MP3 player.                                       power consumptions, and better yet—
4.A sleek 3mm Aluminium case harbouring 8GB of storage space and 5.                                      instant start-ups!
A USB flash drive from PQI with an integrated memory card reader.

                                                                                                                                DIGIT JULY 2006   33
Special Report | Computex

▲Small Form Factor And Home Theatre PCs company worth its salt were out there with an
If you thought Windows Media Centre Edition has gone the dodo’s way, surprise! Every Taiwanese
HTPC. Aopen was first to the market with the mini PC to rival Apple’s Mac mini. Based on 945 chipset the new mini PC looks stupendous in the black
brushed aluminium casing (Extreme Right).
    Shuttle had a rather smaller design up its sleeves, not confirmed yet for producting it is damn small and beats Aopen’s mini PC to its game. Shuttle
was also displaying its top of the line home theatre PC M1000 (Top Centre), an elegant living room PC with low decible design. Its unfortunate we won’t
be able to get out hands on the Shuttle, due to lack of distributors.
    ESC, a major player in motherboard and VGA also had some great HTPCs on display. The P60 (Extreme left) was the slimmest that we came
across. Running on Intel Pentium M low voltage

Coolermaster, Thermaltake, Foxconn, Asus etc had various chassis designs targeted at enthusiasts and gamers. While some designs were ele-
gant, others were simply wacky. All were expensive, but undeniably desirable. Shown below (From left) The new Coolermaster Mystique,
Foxconn Red riding hood and the Coolmaster Stacker
                                                                                               Digital Passion l Lead Feature


  50 Inside
     The Xbox                  55 Act
                                  Naturally 59 The Protectors
                                                                                    Fuelling the pursuit of technology knowledge

Lead Feature

A Sleazy
                                                                                    talking about—some of you might be even
Content is                     Agent 001                                            saying, “Yeah, so? What’s the big deal?”
                                                                                        Let’s all get off our moral high horses, forget
becoming more                          y day begins with checking my mail           our so-called conservative Indian culture, and
and more
                               M       along with my morning cup of coffee.
                                       Despite the spam filters, my Gmail
                                                                                    leave the sex-is-taboo attitude at the door for the
                                                                                    short duration it will take to read the following.
                               account always seems to contain spam:                Talking about it (or not talking about it, for that
especially so on               strangers commenting about the size of my            matter) isn’t going to change the harsh reality
the Net. Are                   unmentionables, or claiming the power to make        that will hit you in the face every time you or
                               me a sexual god—provided I click on that link of     your kids go online! The Internet has no morals,
parents and kids               course! Then there’s the whole slew of mails I       it has no culture, no age limit, and no gover-
prepared?                      receive every now and then about the sexual          nance—there is no moral high ground for it to
                               escapades of women who are actually men (or is       take. Pornography is everywhere, and anyone
                               it the other way round?)!                            who’s been online has encountered it.
                                   Some of you reading this might be mutter-
                               ing, “Chee chee, what rubbish he’s talking about!”   Sex Does Sell
                               Others might just be saying “How can you say         Let’s not judge whether it’s right or wrong, but
                               such things—my kids/little brother/sister/parents    I’m sure we’ll all agree that this
                               also read this magazine.” However, I’m willing       is true! I’m willing to bet that
                               to bet the majority of you know exactly what I’m     quite a few of you picked up

Illustration Pravin Warhokar
        Digital Passion l Lead Feature
        this magazine because of what was on the                                             battering ram for our moral barriers, and the
        cover, flipped past the initial pages, and came
                                                                 Because of the              stripper of our inhibitions. Perhaps that’s why
        directly to this story. Whether you’d like to            freedom the Net             there is so much of a market for pornography—
        admit it or not, sex really does sell; it rouses our     affords, there’s            child pornography included. It’s because most of
        curiosity and plays to the voyeur in us all. It’s        no need to be               the people who buy or trade illegal pictures and
        like reading the sex advice columns in                   subtle: content             videos do so knowing that it will be hard, if not
        tabloids—you may not have any of those prob-                                         impossible, to track them down.
        lems, but the curiosity that killed the prover-
                                                                 there ranges                    It’s not just to pornography that anonymity
        bial cat gets the better of you.                         from the mildly             lends a helping hand, but also to hacking, warez
            Take a look at the content on most TV chan-          titillating to the          trading and more. Most of us have done some-
        nels today, from the ads to the soaps—everything         horrendously                thing illegal online—but what’s more important
        is laced with sex and double-meanings. We’re             explicit                    is that none of us care, or need to worry about
        not here to debate whether that’s bad or good,                                       getting caught.
        and we’ll leave it to the public, the moral police
        and campaigning politicians to sort it all out                                       The Truth About Your Kids
        amongst themselves, but what we see on TV is                                         We’re raising a generation of tech-savvy kids who
        quite sanitary compared to what’s online.                                            know how easy it is to get absolutely any type of
            With Internet penetration increasing by the                                      content online. Kids today don’t need to hide
        day, and people moving from dial-up to “broad-                                       dirty magazines under their beds like earlier
        band” across the country, the demographics of                                        generations did. I remember a friend in school
        the Indian Internet populace is changing by the                                      who had a lingerie catalogue smuggled in from
        minute. Kids and grandparents alike now get                                          the US—that’s what we considered pornography
        online, and almost every urban Indian has                                            in the late ’80s. Today, almost every teenager who
        access to the big bad Net from either home or                                        goes online has a folder on his hard drive that’s
        office, or both.                                                                     full of hardcore (very explicit) pornographic
            Back to the point: Sex sells! Sexy ads all try                                   images and videos. Depending on his parents’
        to appeal to our sexual personas. Being sexy is                                      knowledge of computers, this folder might be in
        a requirement today, and ads make you “want                                          plain sight, hidden, or even encrypted.
        to be” even more. At least there’s a governing                                           Most porn is targeted at men—or boys! If you
        body for television, and this prevents the                                           have a son who goes online, he has in all prob-
        content from getting too wild. The Internet,                                         ability been exposed to pornography. If not
        however, is another story altogether, and it’s                                       through e-mail, then through friends, chat
        not so much about sex here as it is about                                            buddies, while surfing, and from Web searches.
        pornography. Because of the freedom the Net                                          Look at the bright side though: you don’t have
        affords, there’s no need to be subtle: content                                       to have that talk with him about the birds and
        there ranges from the mildly titillating to the                                      the bees—the Internet gave him a full audio-
        horrendously explicit.                                                               visual presentation!

        Who Am I?                                                                            The Talk
        On the Internet, no one except you knows that                                        Most surveys show that parents are too uncom-
        for sure—and sometimes even you will not.                                            fortable to talk to their kids about sex. Schools
        Anonymity is the ultimate aphrodisiac, the                                           and colleges have started sex education (or what-
                                                                                             ever is the politically correct name for it), but
         The Pornographers                                                                   those classes are more like biology lessons than
                                                                                             anything else. Kids don’t need biology lessons!

     P   ornographic sites are dominating the Net, but they’re being a little more careful
         about how they distribute their content. The credit card age verification process
     that a lot of them have adopted is proof of that. Though this tactic is being used by
                                                                                             Do they really need to see poor cross-sections of
                                                                                             the human anatomy? Especially when you
                                                                                             consider that they can get more practical, close-
     a few to charge your cards surreptitiously, a lot of them actually use this method to   up pictures of said anatomy being used in 15
     verify age. Some sites also put up large warnings that say “You must be 18 or older     seconds flat if you give them a computer and
     to enter.” All of them proclaim that all their “models” are 18 or older, and direct     an Internet connection—which you already
     you away from their sites if you say you’re not 18.                                     have, incidentally!
         However, like everything else, this is a business, and ethics are a pipe dream.         “Women = Meat.” That’s what many experts
     You will still get spam in your e-mail from such sites, and often, opening one of       say is the popular perception boys and men have,
     them pops up more and more of their sister sites.                                       thanks to pornography. Interestingly, this is less
         There was this whole ado about .xxx domains: pornographers didn’t want to be        true in sexually liberated cultures, like in West-
     limited to one domain suffix, even though that would make them easier to address        ern countries. In India, where saying the word
     their target audience. It would reduce their business, because content would be so      “sex” is likely to get you slapped, most men have
     easy to control—all you would have to do is block .xxx sites and you could be sure      nothing but pornography to help form their
     that your children are safe. For the pornographer, this would mean that most            opinions and aid in the sexual growth from
     search engines would just block .xxx sites from being displayed in results, unless      teenager to man. This is where your “talk” comes
     the searcher specifically asked for them. This would cut back on the amount of          in. You don’t need to explain sex to your
     people who stumble across sites while surfing—a fairly large number.                    teenager—they already know that! What experts
         A site is global, and access to it has absolutely nothing to do with where in the   are pleading for is that parents teach their kids
     world it’s hosted—while laws have everything to do with where it’s being hosted—        the value of love and the methods to prevent
     that’s the ambiguity of Internet law! Since the Internet belongs to no country, there   against diseases like AIDS. With India having
     are no laws that can govern it. Even when countries do make laws, the people who        recently overtaken South Africa to become the
     want to do so find loopholes or just move shop to a more sympathetic country.           country with the most HIV+ people, you’d better
                                                                                             start talking soon!

36      DIGIT JULY 2006
     Digital Passion l Lead Feature                                                                   Digital Passion l Lead Feature
     Back To The Net                                         It’s the older               The Tech Education
     I apologise for that little diversion, but it was                                    On the Internet, as we’ve mentioned earlier,
     necessary. For all of you parents out there who         generations that             we’re exposed to adult content through several
     are reading this article in disbelief, and those of     need to take on              avenues. The most common is e-mail spam.
     you who are saying “My son/daughter would               the responsibility           Since we have an unwritten “free” software
     never do/talk about that!”, I have a simple path        of learning                  policy in India—not the freeware type, the free-
     towards the light.                                                                   warez type—almost all of us go searching for
         Many of you have kids who use instant
                                                             enough about the             cracks, serials, key generators and the like.
     messengers such as Yahoo! Messenger, MSN                technology that              Unfortunately, almost all warez sites have ads
     Messenger, and others. Here’s what to do:               is ruling the lives          from pornographic Web sites. Teenagers often
         1. Get access to a computer away from home,         of the younger               end up clicking these links, and are promptly
     or in your own room.                                    ones                         exposed to the most explicit of adult content.
         2. Sign-up for a Yahoo! account—only, don’t do                                       Chat rooms are another source of exposure
     it with your real name. Fill in a girl’s name, and                                   to adult behaviour—even from 15-year-olds. In
     put your age at 15.                                                                  the exercise I mentioned earlier, I asked you to
         3. Make sure your login name reflects that                                       pretend to be a 15-year-old girl; that was to
     you’re a girl.                                                                       show you that although trying to solicit a 15-
         4. Get Yahoo! Messenger—a very popular                                           year-old for sex is a crime in almost every coun-
     instant messenger.                                                                   try in the world, it will still not stop people
         5. At the time of day when your son/daughter                                     from trying to find out your address and your
     usually uses the Net, go to one of the chat rooms                                    phone number, and convince you to have cyber-
     in the regional group “India.”                                                       sex with them.
         6. Announce that you are a 15-year-old girl                                          Doing that in real life with a 15-year-old
     from <your city> looking to make friends.                                            would most definitely land them in jail, but on
         7. If you have a Webcam, turn it on and wait                                     the Internet, who cares? Besides the sexual
     for the solicitations for cybersex (sexually-                                        predators,     there      are    bots—automated
     oriented, titillating chat) to come pouring in.                                      programs—spread across almost every chat
         Do the above. You’ll get a first-hand experi-                                    room online, which display URLs to adult sites,
     ence of what your son and/or daughter might be                                       a form of advertising almost all porn sites
     exposed to online every day!                                                         indulge in.
                                                                                              Another area where you will come across
     No More Internet For You!                                                            pornography is when using a search engine—
     I know that’s the strong reaction many of you                                        your son or daughter might just do a search on
     would likely have, but that would be wrong on                                        the word “sex” or something similar, out of
     just so many levels! First off, the Internet is a lot                                curiosity—and will be bombarded by links to
     more help than it is destructive—think of all the                                    pornographic sites. And apart from this, even
     useful information your kids have access to.                                         casual surfing will land you at an adult site
     Secondly, you can’t cage your kids up forever,                                       sooner or later—such is today’s Internet.
     and they’re going to start working soon enough;
     knowing how to use the Internet productively is                                      The Sex Education
     almost a job requisite now—so let them learn!                                            There are a lot of evils that teens and pre-teens
     Finally, kids are almost immune to this sort of                                          need to be wary of when online. Whether or not
     stuff. You wouldn’t believe the kind of stuff that                                       you visit porn sites is purely your business. It is
     your kids don’t get shocked or scandalised by! You                                       only for you, your parents, relatives, and society
     may be appalled at what you see, especially if you                                       to decide whether this is wrong or not. However,
     did the little exercise I mentioned above. But                                           be warned that a lot of adult sites will dupe you
     your kids will just take it in their stride. Thay are                                    into spending money or compromising your
     a lot less susceptible to being fooled, duped,                                           security. Let’s take a look at the most common
     conned, lured, etc., than you are online!                                                traps set out for you.
                                                                                                   Diallers: You will find thousands of sites
     The Tables Have Turned                                                                   that advertise free porn provided you use their
     Parents are no longer the all-knowing keepers of                                                                   dialler to connect to
     secrets. Today, the younger generation knows a                                                                     them. They charge you
     lot more about computers than anyone else,                                                                         per minute in dollars
     especially those who are growing up with it. Take                                                                  for any calls you make,
     my parents for example: I write for the country’s                                                                  and this is not counting
     premier technology magazine, but my parents                                                                        the ISD charges of
     know nothing about computers, and quite                                                                            connecting to the US.
     honestly, they couldn’t care less. Had I been 10                                                                   Make sure you never
     years younger, and up to the mischief that is part                                                                 install diallers from
     and parcel with teenagers, I’d be doing a lot of                                                                   porn sites: they might
     things my parents would tch-tch at!                                                                                even contain Trojans or
         It’s the older generations that need to take                                                                   worms.
     on the responsibility of learning enough about                                                                         E-mail: A lot of sites
     the technology that is ruling the lives of the                                                                     offer free hardcore
     younger ones. Some would go so far as to say                                                                       pictures in the form of
     that it’s not the sex education of the young            An example: a site that claims to teach people how to get e-mail       newsletters.
                                                             porn for free! We got this link via spam e-mail, but it’s
     ones we need to worry about, but the tech educa-                                                                   Almost all the time, this
                                                             also popular on warez sites
     tion of the elders.                                                                                                is just a ruse to get you

38   DIGIT JULY 2006
                                                                                                  Digital Passion l Lead Feature
to give them a valid e-mail ID so they can sell                                            Sites: Many pornographic sites are fronts for
your information—usually to a spammer. So you
                                                          The analogue                 hackers, who use malicious Web-based code to
should either never give out your e-mail address          generation of                try and extract personal information. Just by
to porn sites, or be prepared for thousands of            yesterday seems              visiting a site, you are exposing yourself to
spam mails a day. You could always create an              shocked by                   spyware and Trojans.
e-mail ID meant only for spam, and use that to            technology and                   P2P: Another very common way of getting
sign up, if you must.                                                                  porn as well as viruses. Many people share virus
    Credit cards: “Free” content is offered by
                                                          the way it is—or             or Trojan-infected files renamed to look like
several porn sites, which urge you to enter your          can be—used by               pornographic pictures or videos.
credit card information to “verify your age.” You         the digital
need to stay away from doing this, and go look-           generation of                What Can We Do?
ing for free sites with the content you want              today                        This is the question most parents are asking. The
instead. Your credit card information could be                                         answer is simple: you need to first educate your-
leaked, and you could get some strange bills.                                          selves. Only then you can go about protecting
Even at “trusted” (read notorious) porn sites, you                                     your children. The simplest solution is to use
have to read the fine print before you go about                                        content blockers, popularly referred to as porn
entering your credit card number. Very often,                                          blockers or parental control software. These
the word “free” is misrepresented: if you read the                                     content blockers will restrict your children to the
fine print, you’ll see that the content is only free                                   “clean Web” and block all pornographic sites,
for the first three days or so, after which your                                       images and videos from being viewed on your
card is automatically charged for a month’s                                            home computer.
worth of access. This could be for a shorter or                                            The settings for such software are protected
longer duration, but you will be charged. If you’re                                    by passwords, so children cannot bypass the
using daddy’s credit card, you’re going to have a                                      rules you set. Of course, there are chances
lot of explaining to do.                                                               that some safe content will also be blocked,
    Chat rooms: People are almost never really                                         but I think this is a risk most of us would
who they claim to be in chat rooms. That 16-                                           willingly take.
year-old girl you think you’re falling for could                                           Some software, which we’ll get to shortly,
well be a 61-year-old male. Don’t give out any                                         also let you set various levels of filtering,
personal information online, such as your tele-                                        depending on the age of your kids. So use a
phone number or address. Girls and women                                               “paranoid” setting for your 10-year-old, and a
need to be especially careful about who they                                           “low” setting for your 17-year-old.
fraternise with online!
    Web cameras: This is the age of broadband,                                         In Conclusion
and everyone now seems to have a Webcam.                                               It’s scary! A majority of the parents we spoke to
Yahoo! Messenger is especially popular for its                                         for this piece had no real knowledge about adult
chat rooms and liberally-used Webcams. A lot                                           content and how it can be controlled or blocked.
of people use pre-recorded feeds from some                                             A lot of these people, not named here for reasons
pornographic Web cam site to pretend to be                                             of privacy, have no real clue about how to use
women, and in turn will ask young males to                                             computers, or, more importantly, how their kids
turn on their Webcams and indulge in “cam                                              use computers. Perhaps we really are to blame
sex.” Either they’re trying to get you to pay to                                       for all those MMS scandals, simply because most
see more, to cam with a real woman, or they’re                                         of us don’t know enough about the technology!
recording you and selling your video to homo-                                               The analogue generation of yesterday seems
sexually-oriented porn sites. The bottomline is                                        shocked by technology and the way it is—or can
that if you think you’re getting digital sex and                                       be—used by the digital generation of today. The
get naked on camera, you’re probably getting                                           rapid growth of technology and the way it’s
digitally exploited!                                                                   woven itself into our lives seems to have caused
                                                                                       more of a continental drift than just a genera-
                                                                                       tion gap.
                                                                                            Thankfully, the kids of today will not be as
                                                                                       shell-shocked by whatever technology comes in
                                                                                       tomorrow, so right now seems to be the worst. The
                                                                                       only plausible solution to the porn problem is to
                                                                                       get yourself a content blocker, and make sure
                                                                                       your kids or younger siblings are not exposed to
                                                                                       content online that may adversely affect their
                                                                                       outlook in the most defining years of their lives.
                                                                                            Don’t worry—we will all weather the storm.
                                                                                       All we need to do is be positive, be open to
                                                                                       conversation about the subject, and be strict! I
                                                                                       just hope this article opens more eyes than
                                                                                       it closes!
                                                                                            Enough theory; let’s take a look at some of
                                                                                       the software that’s available and how they
                                                                                       performed when I actually used them. I stress-
                                                                                       tested the software by trying to find porn with
                           Yahoo! Messenger Chat lets you choose a room by
                                                                                       them running. I will talk about each software
                           interest. However, as you can see in the image, if you’re
                           looking for “Romance”, you will more sex than love!         individually, in alphabetical order.

                                                                                                                            JULY 2006 DIGIT   39
     Digital Passion l Lead Feature                                                                    Digital Passion l Lead Feature

                                     Content Blocking Software
     Child Control 2006
                                                                                                                           Next, I went to a

     Y   ou can get this software at www.salfeld.com.
         It’s just a 5.3 MB download. Installation and
     configuration are a breeze, as is the case with
                                                                                                                       not-so-famous porn
                                                                                                                       site and found that,
                                                                                                                       despite all the dirty
     almost all the software in this test. I used the                                                                  words on the page, it
     30-day trial, which is not limited in any way in                                                                  loaded. Child Control
     terms of functionality.                                                                                           2006 (CC06) was defi-
          As soon as I was done installing, I got a very                                                               nitely not doing a
     useful configuration screen. I found that I                                                                       smart job here, and
     could disable the Command Prompt, Registry                                                                        was just reading from
     Editor, Task Manager, Control Panel, Display                                                                      a database.
     Properties, and many more controls by which                                                                           I then raised the
     a really geeky teen could attempt to disable the                                                                  protection level and
     program. The software allows you to                       Child Control 2006 gives you a list of security options found that the soft-
     control/filter Internet content that deals with                                                                   ware was doing a
     a variety of subjects, such as pornography (obvi-                                                                 much better job.
     ously), violence, alcohol, gambling, weapons,                                           However, there was still no image blocking, and
     and drugs. It can even block chat!                                                      our “Innocuous Site” test (see box How I Tested)
          I started with a Google search for some “bad”                                      seemed to easily thwart it.
     words, and was immediately shown a page that                                                  Overall, Child Control 2006 did about as
     told me such content was banned. I then navigated                                       well as anyone would expect it to, and the cool
     to a well-known porn site, and I was blocked again.                                     features of disabling all backdoor ways of
                                                                                             bypassing it make it a good choice. Another
                                                                                             very handy feature, which has nothing to do
                                                                                             with content filtering, is the software’s ability
                                                                                             to enforce your rules in the house regarding PC
                                                                                             usage. You can specify how many hours a day
                                                                                             your children can use the computer, and until
                                                                                             what time. So there’s no need to keep looking
                                                                                             in on them and telling them to “turn
                                                                                             off that computer at once”; just configure
                                                                                             the software and then rest easy knowing
                                                                                             that your kids will have to go to bed early on
                                                                                             school nights!
                                                                                                   Child Control 2006 costs $29.90 (Rs 1,350).
     Child Control 2006 blocks the Task Manager so that your                                 It happens to be the cheapest paid software in
     kids cannot just End Task the application                                               this test.

           How I Tested

       I  chose nine content filtering software based on popularity.
          Seven of these were the most popular choices, and two were
       freeware tools that I felt people would want as options to the
                                                                             the software I tested here actually do this—all of them failed this
                                                                             test miserably!
                                                                                  Apart from this, I also navigated to sites that I know contain
       paid software. The test procedure was simple: install the             a lot of text about sex and violence, and checked if the software
       software, configure it, and then try and find ways around it.         would block that. Right at the outset, it seemed that most of the
       I didn’t attempt any Registry hacking or ultra-geeky ways of          software were only blocking based on their databases rather
       bypassing the software’s protection because I wanted to keep          than actually looking at the text or images on the pages. I tested
       the test real. If you have an über-geek for a child, no software is   each software with the normal and a higher protection level (if it
       going to stop him or her from finding what they want online.          was available). The results of the highest protection setting are
            My test system was an AMD 64 3000+ with 1 GB of RAM and          noted in the table, but are not deciding factors for me. I chose to
       an 80 GB SATA hard drive, running Windows XP Professional             only pit each software’s default setting against the other.
       with Service Pack 2 installed. All the latest drivers for the              I obviously cannot provide you with the links to the sites that
       hardware were installed, and apart from Internet Explorer,            I tested the software on, but I mainly tried to fool each software
       I installed Mozilla FireFox, and already had Opera 9.00       using Google’s search results to find adult content.
       beta (build 8367) installed.                                               Since it’s obvious that the most important thing for parents
            After installing the content blocking software, I first          would be how the software performed, Performance scores got
       navigated to Google, and used its Web and Image searches to try       a 50 per cent weightage in my decision. I gave Ease of Use and
       and find keywords that would bring up adult content without           Configuration a generous 10 per cent weightage: not too many
       being blocked. I then had a few sites that had very innocuous-        parents would be able to configure the advanced settings on
       sounding URLs, but contained a lot of nudity. This was to test if     their own! We in India love our “free” software, so I decided that
       the software was actually scanning images, looking for a lot of       price would be 20 per cent of the deciding factor. Finally, the
       flesh, based on colour. Sadly, I can report right now that none of    Features of a software merited 20 per cent of their overall tally.

40   DIGIT JULY 2006
     Digital Passion l Lead Feature
     ContentProtect                                                              Cyber Patrol

     T   his is the most expensive of all the software
         I tested, and will set you back by $39.99
     (Rs 1,800). The first thing I found was that it took
                                                                                 C    yber Patrol (www.cyberpatrol.com) is quite
                                                                                      a big download at 12 MB. At $39.95 (Rs
                                                                                 1,800), it’s not exactly the cheapest solution to
     me a while to track down the download on                                    figure in this test. Add to that the fact that this
     www.contentwatch.com, and I was given a serial                              is a recurring annual subscription cost, and
     key even for the trial version. At 5.15 MB, this was                        you have one of the most expensive content
     another decently-sized download.                                            filters out there.
         Installation and configuration took just 45                                 Installation and configuration was easy,
     seconds. This was the first software I came across                          and one good thing about the installer is that
     that had two passwords—one to uninstall it and                                                         you configure as you
     one to override the settings. I then found that                                                        install. While setting
     you could force users to log in to connect to the                                                      it up, I got an option
     Net—a very good thing!                                                                                 to select whether I
         This software has additional features such as                                                      was a home or office
     e-mail notification and the option to disable IMs                                                      user, and to select the
     and chatting tools. One terrible thing is that it                                                      age demographic of
     doesn’t disable the Task Manager, so closing down                                                      the users of the
     the application without the administrator pass-                                                        computer. I chose
     word is literally child’s play!                                                                        “young teen” and then
         ContentProtect did an excellent job of block-                                                      went through the
     ing sites, and even stopped me from navigating                                                         installation.
     any further from my innocuous test sites. Google                                                           I had to reboot to
     images seemed to be blocked on the basis of the                                                        finish the setup. I use
     ALT text or filename rather than the image itself,                                                     Opera as my default
     which resulted in quite a bit of flesh peeping
     through my Web page.

                                                               Cyber Patrol is
                                                                  not exactly
                                                              secure, and the
                                                                 bugs I faced
                                                                when using it
                                                                  soured my
                                                                 opinion of it

                                                                                 browser, and immediately browsed to a very
                                                                                 obvious porn site. To my surprise, it just
                                                                                 opened up! I then tried Firefox and IE, and the
                                                                                 same thing happened. This program just
                                                                                 refused to work. I then uninstalled it, re-
     ContentProtect is a good blocker,                                           installed it, rebooted again, and this time it got
        but without any Task Manager                                             it right.
     disbling feature, bypassing it is a                                              It blocked every obvious adult site easily,
        little too easy for my liking! It                                        bringing up a default page. It could not block
        blocked some innocuous URLs                                              the Innocuous Sites I threw at it.
                  based on the content                                                Without a Task Manager blocker, this
                                                                                 program is easy to bypass for anyone who
         The software logs IM                                                    knows a little about Windows XP. I found three
     chats though, which is                                                      processes, each easily identifiable by their
     good for the paranoid                                                       names, and ended them. What shocked me was
     parent. Here again, “Time                                                   that when I tried to restart the program, it just
     Control” was a feature,                                                     brought up an error, telling me to reboot in
     and lets a user decide how                                                  order to get it working again. I persisted, and
     much time on what day of                                                    on the third attempt to launch the program, it
     the week his kids should                                                    started up again!
     be allowed to use the Net.                                                       Overall, this is a decent software, and
         Overall, ContentPro-                                                    blocks dirty stuff pretty well, but there’s noth-
     tect loses badly because it                                                 ing special about the way it blocks it. The bugs
     has no way of stopping a                                                    in the way it works are unforgivable. Being one
     kid with basic Windows knowledge from End                                   of the most expensive, it certainly didn’t live
     Tasking it! For really little kids, however, this is a                      up to my expectations. Personally, I would
     decent investment to consider.                                              never spend $40 a year on this software!

42   DIGIT JULY 2006
     Digital Passion l Lead Feature
     CYBERsitter 9.0

     T   his is a very popular software today, and at
         2.36 MB, it’s the smallest download of them
     all. At $39.95 (Rs 1,800), it’s not the cheapest
         Installation and configuration were a snap,
     as we’ve come to expect from all these soft-
     ware—all Windows software actually! A nifty
     feature was that when installing, CYBERsitter
     offers to search your hard drive for “objection-
     able material.” I don’t have any, so I didn’t scan,
     but it’s nice to see something a little different
     amongst such software. I have also read that
     this “scan” finds spyware and porn diallers as
     well, though I had none on my fresh install of
     Windows XP Pro.

                                                            Not only does CYBERsitter force strict safe searches, it also forwards
                                                            you to a page that contains clean, free stuff online

                                                                           Search off. It forced Strict Safe Search in popu-
                                                                           lar search engines, and ignored all my attempts
                                                                           to change this—and this, with all browsers!
                                                                           Although it did not filter images for content—
                                                                           it read the associated tags and forced safe
                                                                           searches in image search engines—I gave it a 4/5
                                                                           for image filtering.
                                                                               CYBERsitter blocks silently, just bringing up a
     CYBERsitter can scan your hard drive for pornography                  “page not found” or some such error message,
                                                                           making the surfer believe that the page doesn’t
         While installing, I left the default values for                   work, rather than knowing that he/she is being
     all the various checkboxes I saw, but noticed                         blocked. I think this is a good thing, as it might
     that you can choose to filter e-mail content as                       stop the natural curiosity that kids have. It’s easier
     well! It cannot filter chat programs, but can                         for kids to accept “the site doesn’t work” than
     block them outright—good if you have pre-teens                        “Mommy/ daddy doesn’t want me to see this site!”
     around the house.
         In this 10-day trial version, password protec-
     tion is disabled, and you’ll have to buy the soft-
     ware to get that very important feature.
     However, since this is not brain surgery, I don’t
     foresee any problems with password protection
     in the full version!
         While installing, you can select the type of
     content you want blocked, and then “Update
     Filters”—which basically means you update the
     program’s database of blocked sites. The soft-
     ware lets you disable access to the Registry
     Editor, Task Manager, and either the entire
     Control Panel or just the Network/Internet
     icons in the Control Panel.
         CYBERsitter offers the time management
     feature that many of the others did as well, so
     you can control not just how but also when
     your kids use the PC. In order to make sure no-
     one can change the system time and fool the             CYBERsitter can disable the Task Manager and the Control Panel,
     application, it also lets you disable the               making it a secure program that also blocks well—a true winner here!
     Windows Time application and the command
     prompt.                                                                   This was by far the most secure software I
         The software offers scheduled e-mail report-                      tested, and it would require a really gifted and
     ing for parents who want to keep an eye on                            geeky teen hacker to bypass its security. Overall
     what’s happening at home, and also has                                a very good software, which blocks exception-
     logging that you can come home and check.                             ally well. It even blocked our “innocuous sites,”
         The software blocked everything very well,                        and made life miserable for me while I was
     and was the only software in this test to not                         trying to fool it. If you’re willing to spend the
     allow us to search Google Images with Safe                            money, this is a really good option!

44   DIGIT JULY 2006
     Digital Passion l Lead Feature
     iProtectYou Web Filter                                            Net Nanny’s            Net Nanny
     T   his software from www.softforyou.com is
         another small download—just 2.57 MB—and
     costs $34.95 (Rs 1,600). I used the 14-day free trial
                                                                     everything or
                                                                                              T   he most famous Internet nanny of all time,
                                                                                                  this software is easily the most popular of
                                                                                              them all. The Nanny has put on a lot of weight
     to test it, and found that, as usual, installation              philosophy is            over the years though, and at 22.8 MB, she was
     and configuration was easy.                                                              the fattest download in this test. And at the stan-
         Like CYBERsitter, it does offer e-mail filter-
                                                                      certainly not           dard price of $39.95 (Rs 1,800), she doesn’t come
     ing, but defaults to not filtering incoming mails,                what you’re            cheap either! You can find her at
     because with the amount of spam we all receive,               looking for in a           www.netnanny.com.
     it will have to keep blocking your mail client.                 content filter               Installation took a bit longer because of the
     These software can filter your mail, but you’d                                           size, but was easy nonetheless. Configuration
     be a lot better off installing a good, free spam                                         was a snap, and I found that you could even
     filter that is made to do that job.                                                      choose to block online games—unique indeed.
         You can set the program to auto-update                                                   There’s also a paranoid setting that blocks
     itself, and also have the option of e-mailing                                            all images and ads online, so it’s good for
     scheduled reports to yourself. You can even play                                         parents who want kids to only see text online—
     the role of a paranoid parent and have the soft-                                         but that’s a little too old-fashioned for me!
     ware e-mail you every time it blocks some-                                                   Anyway, straight to the tests: the Nanny does-
     thing—along with a screenshot!                                                           n’t seem to have kept abreast with the times,
         Instead of time management, this software                                            and this was clear when it let a few obvious sites
     lets you set traffic limitations—so you can decide                                       slip by unnoticed. Another indication of age
     that your 10-year-old gets 10 MB of surfing time                                                                   having caught up with
     a day, while your 15-year-old might get 20 MB—                                                                     this software was the
     provided they have their own user accounts on                                                                      fact that it refused to
     the PC. You can also set the usage allowance per                                                                   filter any images, and
     user, per day of the week!                                                                                         the most explicit of
         The software blocks all negative content                                                                       images      just    kept
     well, and popped up a little “Access                                                                               popping up in Google
     Restricted” warning at the bottom right when                                                                       Image searches!
     I tried regular porn sites. It was easy to fool                                                                        Internet      slang,
     the software in a Google Image search to get                                                                       which your kids are
     images of nudity. It was not very good with                                                                        likely to be using, just
     non-English sites: its database doesn’t seem to                                                                    leaves     the    Nanny
     include as many foreign sites as the other soft-                                                                   confused, and text
     ware in this test do.                                                                                              blocking was abysmal!
         To its credit, the software allowed a site               NetNanny does not have                                The only way it offered
     which had adult-oriented ads to be displayed,                      too many blocking     me a challenge was when I set the filtering level
     while blocking just the ads. This may not be a                   options, except for a   to maximum—which, incidentally, means that
     comfort for paranoid parents, but it seemed a               “Block all Web graphics”     only sites that are manually allowed can be
     good feature to me.                                         option that seems a little   viewed! It even blocked www. thinkdigit.com in
         Security-wise, the software loses miserably                            too severe.   this paranoid mode! The final nail in the coffin
     because it’s easy to End Task the application                                            was that the Nanny doesn’t seem to recognise
     using the Task Manager. I can’t understand why                                           Opera as a browser, and just let anything by!
     the authors of the software didn’t look at this!                                             Overall, this was a very unsatisfying experi-
         Overall, a good software that blocks content                                         ence, and to be honest, I expected more of a chal-
     well, and smartly, but with its poor security it’s                                       lenge from the Nanny. I think it’s time she
     not something you want to buy—especially if                                              retired. Her “block everything or nothing”
     you are one of the many families where your                                              philosophy is certainly not what you’re looking
     kids know more than you about computers!                                                 for in a content filter!

                                                                                              Optenet Web Filter

                                                                                              T  his is a software I stumbled across when
                                                                                                 reading through a few forums, and is
                                                                                              certainly not a popular choice. However, I
                                                                                              decided to include it based on a few reviews
                                                                                              from people who seemed to know what they
                                                                                              were talking about. At 17.7 MB, this software is
                                                                                              almost as fat as the Nanny, and at $39, just as
                                                                                              expensive. I got the 15-day free trial from
                                                                                              www.optenet.com, and found that installation
                                                                                              and configuration was simple enough. After a
                                                                                              reboot I was ready to pit my wits against it.
                                                                                                  I was shocked to see that it refused to open
                                                                                              the administration panel, which it was trying
     iProtectYou has a lot of features such as e-mail                                         to do in my browser. I soon learnt that it proba-
     notification and filtering, but it couldn’t block any                                    bly uses some code that Opera can’t understand,
     images or content (right) from our “Innocuous Sites” list                                because when I pasted the address it was trying

46   DIGIT JULY 2006
     Digital Passion l Lead Feature
                                                                                                     The software can be set to scan your Favorites
                                                                                                and Outlook Express, and allow you to redirect
                                                                                                to sites of your choice when adult content is
                                                                                                found. This is good: all the other software with
                                                                                                this feature redirect you to their home pages,
                                                                                                making it obvious that they’re protecting your
                                                                                                     You can also tweak the way the software
                                                                                                works depending on how much of system
                                                                                                resources you have and how powerful your CPU
                                                                                                is, by setting the milliseconds the software waits
                                                                                                before re-scanning a page.
                                                                                                     Parental Filter showed some bugs with Fire-
                                                                                                fox and Opera however, most noticeably in Fire-
                                                                                                fox, where instead of redirecting to the page that
                                                                                                I set, it just kept opening new tabs. So at one
                                                                                                point I had this porn Web site open and about 20
     Optenet Web Filter has a browser-based interface that’s very different                     google.com Firefox tabs!
     from the others—not better, just different. It offers port blocking and                         It was not too hard to bypass its filtering in
     can disable P2P applications and Instant Messengers                                        Google Images. At one point, I clicked on a rather
                                                                                                graphic image result. Google opens image results
     to open in IE, I had a username and password                                               in frames—the top frame is by Google, and the
     dialog pop up.                                                                             bottom frame is the site where the image is
         The Web interface is a little irritating, but                                          located. The top frame was redirected to
     might be easier for people less accustomed to                                              google.com (as I had set it to), while the bottom
     PCs. Every option is visible on the page in the                                            frame just went ahead and loaded!
     form of links, instead of behind tabs and                                                       Apart from these bugs, the software
     buttons like in every other software. I person-                                            performed decently, and even caught a lot of
     ally hated it though!                                                                      Internet slang for pornographic content when I
         The configuration options were easy enough                                             used them as search keywords, or when they
     to follow, and the “Advanced Configuration” link                                           were found on a page.
     took me to options where I could set port block-                                                A bug in the security meant that if you do
     ing and P2P application blocking settings.                                                 not disable the Task Manager, you can End Task
         A disappointment was the lack of a Task                                                the application and then uninstall it! It does not
     Manager disabler, which made it easy to bypass                                             ask for the administrator password when unin-
     the software’s protection. It was good at blocking                                         stalling, unlike all the other software. However,
     obvious pornography, but failed miserably in my                                            if you disable the Task Manager via the software,
     Innocuous Site test!                                                                       it will not let you uninstall while the process is
         Smart Google Image searches also brought                                               running—you have to open the administration
     this software to its knees.                                                                panel using the password and stop the applica-
         Overall, this product is just about average as                                         tion before uninstalling it.
     a porn blocker, and has nothing too special to                                                  Apart from the few bugs, this is a good soft-
     write home about. The best thing that can be                                               ware that filters as decently as the other soft-
     said about it is that it offers decent port blocking                                       ware in this test—better than quite a few,
     and monitoring, and successfully blocks IMs and                                            actually—and has only a few hiccups with Firefox
     P2P applications.                                                                          that might be addressed with the next release.
                                                                                                Considering that it doesn’t cost you a paisa, I
     Parental Filter 0.24                                                                       would recommend that everyone install this
                                                                                                software to protect your kids. If you’re willing to

     T   his is freeware from www. ecomm-
         sec.com, and is just a 3.03 MB down-
     load. It installs easily, but offers many
                                                                                                spend, however, that’s a different story!

                                                                                                We-Blocker 2.0
     advanced configuration options that
     might       confuse      not-so-tech-savvy
     parents. For those at home on a PC, this
     software offers some interesting
                                                                                                T  his is another freeware tool, and the last soft-
                                                                                                   ware in our test. It’s 2.41 MB large, and you
                                                                                                can get it at www.we-blocker.com. As usual, it’s
     options.                                                                                   easy to install and configure.
         It does not offer e-mail reporting or                                                      As soon as you install it, you can select the
     logging, but allows you to completely                                                      age of the child who uses the computer, and
     hide the application and even run it as                                                    select what subjects you want to block. Pornog-
     a Windows Service. You need to be care-                                                    raphy, adult subjects, and any categories you
     ful though, because if you set the                                                         define are blocked by default. You have to
     option to disable the Task Manager, and                                                    update the We-Blocker data after installation to
     set it to hide itself, you might not be                                                    get the latest list of blocked sites.
     able to uninstall it too easily, or even                                                       The software does not offer e-mail notifica-
     find the administrator controls for that         If anything, Parental Filter offers you   tion, but does keep logs that you can check.
     matter. Again, this is bad for PC novices,       a little too much control! It’s an        It offers password protection, but does not
     and good for those who know how to               excellent option—especially because       offer Task Manager disabling. But when I
     use it and get additional security.              it’s completely free                      End-Tasked it using the Task Manager, it

48   DIGIT JULY 2006
                                                                                                                   Digital Passion l Lead Feature
      Scoreboard                                                                              Content Filtering Software
                            Child Control 2006 ContentProtect     Cyber Patrol       CYBERsitter 9.0    iProtectYou Web    Net Nanny        Optenet Web      Parental          We-Blocker 2.0
                                                                                                        Filter v7.10                        Filter           Filter 0.24
Site                        www.salfeld.com   www.contenwatch.com www.cyberpatrol.com www.cybersitter.com www.softforyou.com www.netnanny.com www.optenet.com www.ecommsec.com www.we-blocker.com
Features (Out of 20)        14.4              11.2                12.2               16                 13.2               11               11.8             12.4              10.6
URL Blocking                ✔                 ✔                   ✔                  ✔                  ✔                  ✔                ✔                ✔                 ✔
Image Blocking              ✖                 ✖                   ✖                  ✖                  ✖                  ✖                ✖                ✖                 ✖
Chat Filter                 ✖                 ✖                   ✔                  ✖                  ✔                  ✖                ✖                ✖                 ✖
E-mail reports              ✔                 ✔                   ✖                  ✔                  ✔                  ✖                ✖                ✖                 ✖
Logs                        ✔                 ✔                   ✔                  ✔                  ✔                  ✔                ✔                ✖                 ✔
Password Protection         ✔                 ✔                   ✔                  ✔-Paid version only ✔                 ✔                ✔                ✔                 ✔
Task Manager Removal        ✔                 ✖                   ✖                  ✔-Paid version only ✖                 ✖                ✖                ✔                 ✖
Overall Security            4                 2                   2                  5                  2                  3                3                4                 3
Other Browser Support
Firefox                     ✔                 ✔                   ✔                  ✔                  ✔                  ✔                ✔                ✔                 ✖
Opera                       ✔                 ✔                   ✔                  ✔                  ✔                  ✖                ✔                ✔                 ✔
License                     30                14                  14                 10                 14                 15               15               Free              Free
Ease Of Use (Out of 10)     6.96              6.97                6.42               8.12               7.95               6.22             6.28             6.65              8.07
Download Size               5.23              5.15                12                 2.36               2.57               22.8             17.7             3.03              2.41
Setup                       4                 4                   4                  4                  4                  4                4                4                 4
Configuration               4                 4                   4                  4                  4                  4                4                3                 4
Performance (Out of 50)     24                26                  28                 44                 24                 18               18               24                16
Normal Setting
Sites Blocked (Out of 5)    4                 5                   5                  5                  4                  3                3                4                 4
Images Blocked (Out of 5)   0                 0                   0                  4                  0                  0                0                0                 0
Words Blocked (Out of 5)    4                 3                   4                  4                  4                  3                3                4                 0
Paranoid Setting
Sites Blocked (Out of 5)    5                 NA                  5                  5                  NA                 5                NA               NA                4
Images Blocked (Out of 5)   0                 NA                  0                  4                  NA                 5                NA               NA                0
Words Blocked (Out of 5)    5                 NA                  4                  4                  NA                 5                NA               NA                0
Price (Out of 20)           10.03             7.50                7.51               7.51               8.58               7.51             7.69             20.00             20.00

Overall Score (out of 100) 55.39              51.67               54.13              75.63              53.73              42.73            43.77            63.05             54.67

          promptly started up again, so there’s a decent                                                            Summing It Up
          level of security here.                                                                                   All the software here are good or bad in
              That’s where the security stops, however!                                                             different respects. There’s no perfect software
          After the installation, I found that it was only                                                          out there yet, and absolutely all of these
          working with IE and not with Firefox and Opera.                                                           were very, very disappointing in terms of
          I rebooted the computer, and then found that it                                                           analysing images.
          started blocking access in Opera, but still noth-                                                             CYBERsitter did the best in terms of filter-
          ing in Firefox.                                                                                           ing images, by forcing safe searches and seem-
              I soon found that this was because the appli-                                                         ingly checking ALT tags—according to the logs
          cation acts as a local proxy server, and you have                                                         anyway. Also, I liked the way it just stops you
          to set the appropriate settings in the browsers.                                                          from viewing a site without announcing its
          However, this means that if your child knows                                                              presence to your kids—many of whom will
          anything about proxy servers, or even stumbles                                                            promptly search Google for ways to bypass
          upon the settings, disabling the proxy server is                                                          software that’s stopping them! I would recom-
          as good as the software not being installed! This                                                         mend this as the software to buy if you want
          is unforgivable, but we cannot complain                                                                   to protect your kids.
          because you’re not being charged to use this                                                                  Parental Filter is very good, and in order
          software. It blocked content pretty well, but was                                                         to be secure, all you need to do is create a
          easily fooled with                                                                                        low-level access account for your kids so that
          Google Image searches                                                                                     they cannot install Firefox to bypass the
          and Internet slang.                                                                                       software and use IE as the default browser.
              Overall, this soft-                                                                                   Since it doesn’t cost you a rupee, and is
          ware is strictly for                                                                                      almost as good as CYBERsitter, everyone who
          parents who don’t want                                                                                    doesn’t want to spend or cannot afford
          to spend money on soft-                                                                                   CYBERsitter should install this very useful
          ware and have pre-teens                                                                                   software. Just make sure you choose to display
          who are just starting to                                                                                  the icon on your Taskbar before you choose to
          use the Internet. Even                                                                                    install it as a Windows Service. And do not
          then, Parental Filter is                                                                                  select the “Don’t show password dialog. Invis-
          free as well, and better,                                                                                 ible login” option unless you know what
          so there’s really no                                                                                      you’re doing!
          sense in downloading                                                                                          Apart from these two, another good choice
          and installing We- We-Blocker does not offer Task Manager disabling, but if                               is CyberPatrol, which came in third!
          Blocker 2.0!               you kill the process it just restarts! Bad blocking though                                                           agent001@thinkdigit.com

                                                                                                                                                                     JULY 2006 DIGIT      49
                               Digital Passion l In Sight

                                                    Inside The Xbox
                               A 360 degree         Ahmed Shaikh                                          Sins Of The Father
                                                                                                          Back when Microsoft was kicking around the
                               view on
                                                         ony’s monster brand of PlayStation has been      concept of the first Xbox, the team in-charge of
                               Microsoft’s               dominating the console scene ever since its      bringing the console to fruition did not have the
                               second gaming             inception. The first of that console’s line      luxury of time—they were already launching
                                                    usurped the crown from Nintendo and has been          after the PlayStation 2 and they needed to get
                               console              unstoppable ever since—selling more than 100          the product out at once or lose market traction.
                                                    million hardware units and up to a billion soft-      Due to this, the Xbox was practically made up of
                                                    ware units. Lately, Sony has been positioning the     off-the-shelf computer parts: a slightly modified
                                                    PLayStation 3 as a unit to replace the computer—      Intel processor, some memory, a
                                                    with Linux on its 20 GB or 60 GB hard drive,          Seagate hard drive, a slightly
                                                    keyboard support, a Web browser and HD reso-          modified NVIDIA video
                                                    lution out of the box (up to 1920 × 1080), “the PC    chipset, thrown together
                                                    is no longer needed”, Sony points. With a 100         in a huge, ugly cabinet.
                                                    million hardware base, the PS3 is thus a very real    It wasn’t the prettiest
                                                    threat to the Microsoft domination of the PC          of engineering but
                                                    market. Microsoft, of course saw this coming a        it got the job
                                                    mile away, more precisely, around the year 2000       done: the Xbox
                                                    when it took its first steps into the console busi-   sold around
                                                    ness. 2000 is when Microsoft approached
                                                    Gigapixel; getting the ball rolling on what would
                                                    be the Xbox brand.
                                                        Both Sony and Microsoft would like their
                                                    products to sit next to your television—serving
                                                    all manner of content from games, to music and
                                                    movie downloads. The potential market is huge,
                                                    the money pot at the end of this rainbow, astro-
                                                    nomical. While the business of consoles is
                                                    intriguing, this article will take a look at
                                                    what’s inside one of the two, so-called,
                                                    “next-generation” offerings-Microsoft’s
                                                    Xbox 360.
                                                        The architecture of the Xbox 360 is unique in
 3D Modelling Vikram Kathare

                                                    many aspects but hardware alone does not make
 Imaging Chaitanya Surpur

                                                    a system. Some would say that the Xbox 360’s
                                                    unique strength lies with its LIVE component—
                                                    an online matchmaking service, a marketplace, a
                                                    gaming playground, all rolled into one—LIVE is
                                                    what makes the 360. We will thus a brief look at
                                                    both these aspects of the console-the
                                                    hardware and the software.

50                             DIGIT MAY 2006
                                                                                                         Digital Passion l In Sight
24 million units by the end of its life, running                                                      thing that increases processor and
second to Sony’s behemoth and overtaking                                                              power efficiency as well as paral-
Nintendo’s Gamecube by a small, but significant                                                       lelising disparate tasks across the
margin. Mission accomplished, the Xbox brand                                                          processor cores.
was etched into the psyche of console gamers,                                                             Traditionally, cache is meant to
rap artists, and PC gamers tired of the upgrade-                                                      act as a holding unit for frequently
and-patch dance of PC games.                                                                          used data, such that the processor
     Almost immediately after releasing the Xbox,                                                     need not travel all the way to the
Microsoft got to work on its successor. The almost                                                    system’s main memory to fetch
four years of head-start that the 360 would thus                                                      and process information which is
get, was instrumental in the design that the Xbox                                                     often used. Under the Xenon
360 now sports-inside and out. It also allowed           The Xenon processor is a three core unit     however, the 1 MB of L2 cache plays
Microsoft to correct a major drawback that the           designed by IBM                              a much more interesting and flex-
original of the species had: Microsoft did not own                                                    ible role: it is possible to use the
the IP to any of the Xbox’s internals—Intel owned                                      cache in the traditional sense but it can also be
the processor, NIVIDIA the graphics chip. Microsoft                                    shared between the processor and the graphics
thus had to rely on two third-parties to supply                                        chip of the Xbox 360. This is a very unique archi-
essential elements of the console, and was depend-                                     tecture which allows a programmer to push
ent on their whims and manufacturing capabili-                                         content from the L2 cache to the GPU, much like
ties to cut prices or throttle production as needed.                                   a FIFO queue (First In, First Out). The L2 can thus
With the Xbox 360, Microsoft owns both the                                             be used as a temporary storage for the GPU.
processor and the graphics chip, and has the flex-                                         Before we head further into the 360’s core,
ibility to set up fabrication plants, drop prices, and                                 let’s take a look at one of the new “schools of
shrink processors as and when needed.                                                  thought” which we alluded to earlier in this
                                                                                       piece. If you have followed Will Wright’s upcom-
Original Of The Species                                                                ing PC game called Spore, you are probably aware
The Xbox 360 is unique in several aspects. The                                         of the concept of procedural content. The idea is
most benign of which is that the 360 is the only                                       simple: free the artists from producing high-reso-
console to simultaneously launch                                                       lution art assets and content, and utilise hard-
across the three major gam-                                                            ware and software to churn out the same. A
ing markets of USA, Europe                                                             typical game is bound to contain repeated
and Japan. More interesting                                                            content-in a title such as Grand Theft Auto III, for
is the unit’s hardware                                                                 example, you will see trees, lampposts, fire
design. It seems to do a fine                                                          hydrants, trash bins and so on, being used
job at balancing raw power,                                                            throughout the game. Presently, a game uses the
flexibility and ease-of-use. It                                                        same model and texture for each of these
is also the potential proving                                                          common objects and repeats them throughout
ground for some new school                                                             the title. The result is a bland, uniform look to a
of thought, schools rather—be                            The cool new Xbox             game, which reduces the immersion.
it unified memory architecture,                                                            Procedural creation of content would take a
procedural rendering or unified                                                        template of an object, run it through a processor
shader architecture. The 360 is also                                                   and churn out a finished product in real-time.
the first gaming console which pays attention                                          Traditionally, a game developer would have to
to its software user interface. It is a far cry from                                   hire a team of artists to produce say, trees, then
the ugly brick which was its predecessor—the                                           put them on disk, feed them to the computer
unit has a pleasant white exterior, a concave                                          memory and then put them out to the graphics
body, a chrome DVD tray, and the ring of light—                                        chip for rendering. With a procedural approach,
a circle of LEDs which indicate wireless con-                                          the developer would only need to define the tree
troller and unit status.                                                               mathematically and ship this information on
    Let us begin this dissection from within,
from the core of what makes the 360 so unique.
                                                                                                                 South Bridge
A Procedural World
Microsoft approached once-rival IBM to design
                                                                                                                                 500 MB/s
                                                                                                                   500 MB/s

the processor of the Xbox 360. The resulting
processor is a three core unit for which IBM bor-
rowed design ideas from the Broadband
Processor Architecture (BPA) that produced the

PlayStation 3’s Cell processor. The 360’s proces-        The sleek looking Xbox360           CPU    10.8 GB/s
sor, codenamed Xenon consists of three identi-                                                                                              32 GB/s
                                                                                                     10.8 GB/s
cal cores to one side, each with 64 KB of L1 cache
(32K for data and 32K for instructions) and a
                                                                                                                              22.4 GB/s

large 1 MB of L2 cache which is shared by all
three cores, on the other side. Each of the cores
has two hardware threads for simultaneous                                              The bandwidth
multithreading (SMT); the entire processor can                                         available between             UMA System RAM
thus process a total of six hardware threads                                           the core elements of
simultaneously. This multithreaded approach is                                         the Xbox 360
vital to keeping the parts constantly fed—some-

                                                                                                                                                 DIGIT MAY 2006   51
     Digital Passion l In Sight
                                 disk. The Xbox 360 would then read this mathe-         A Unified Approach
                                 matical template, send it to its processor where       Microsoft decided to award ATI the contract for
                                 one of its six hardware threads would process and      the Xbox 360’s graphics processing unit (GPU).
                                 produce the required vertices of the tree, based       ATI is thus making the graphics part for two
                                 on the mathematical template. These vertices           consoles this generation—the C1 or Xenos for
                                 would then be fed to the GPU for rendering and         Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and the “Hollywood” chip
                                 output-greatly reducing art content, developer         for the Nintendo console, called Wii (pro-
                                 costs, and even bandwidth requirement.                 nounced “We”).
                                     Such a procedural approach is not limited to           Xenos, much like its neighbour Xenon, is a
                                 geometry. It can also be used for animating game       unique chip in many aspects.
                                 objects: specifically, the game developer need only        On the PC, a graphics card divides its real-
                                 define key frames for an animation, letting the        estate between vertex shaders and pixel shaders-
                                 Xenon generate the transition frames for complet-      hardware units which act on vertices of a 3D
                                 ing the animation. The processor can also be fed       object and on individual pixels, respectively.
                                 key differences between two frames—for example,        This traditional architecture has its limitations.
                                 only certain parts of an object might change           In a given game scene, it is never clear how
                                 between two consecutive frames, the processor          much the vertex shader or the pixel shade
                                 can be fed only the difference frames greatly          would be employed, although current titles tend
                                 reducing the content requirement and alleviat-         to lean heavily on the pixel parts. Thus, effi-
                                 ing bandwidth needs to push the content.               ciency comes to question: a scenario in which a
                                     Finally, the Xenon can tessellate an object: A     pixel pipeline is waiting for the vertex shaders
                                 3D object within a game is represented via             to finish, or vice-versa is quite common. This
                                 vertices and polygons. What might be a smooth          leads to idle-time, wherein either of the two
                                 soccer ball in real life is composed of a collection   shader units is in essence twiddling its thumbs,
                                 of triangles within a game—the smoother you            waiting for the other to finish. This is a waste of
                                 want the ball to look, the greater the number of       power, not to mention of the transistors which
                                 vertices needed. It takes more data to represent       comprise the idling unit.
                                 an object as a collection of triangles, than it does       A workaround is proposed via the 360’s GPU
                                 to represent it as a bunch of smooth curves. Tessel-   in the form of unified shader architecture. Here,
                                 lation is the process of breaking up a curve into a    instead of specific shader units for each type of
                                 bunch of representative triangles. The Xenon can       data, the GPU employs transistors which can
                                 perform tessellation in hardware, thus signifi-        handle both manner of tasks-pixel and vertex.
                                 cantly accelerating the process. A game can thus       Balancing and juggling a game’s scene becomes
                                 ship with curve information on an object, and          much easier: for a game scene employing lots of
                                 take less space; the Xenon can subsequently use        special effects, the processor can put more
                                 that information to generate the final object. This    shaders for pixel work and less on constructing
                                 real-time tessellation can also be used for dynam-     the geometry of the scene, and so on.
                                 ically throttling the level of detail on an object:        A unified approach to shaders is very much
                                 take the soccer ball as an example—when viewed         on the cards for the PC space as well.
                                 from a distance, the number of polygons which              A shader is essentially a vector unit, much
                                 comprise the ball can be reduced, as you approach      like the SIMD (pronounced “simdy”) units of a
                                 the ball, the polygons can be automatically            PC processor. As such, shaders can carry out
                                 increased to give the ball a smoother look.            mathematically intense tasks not just restricted
                                     Currently, not a lot of titles use the proce-      to graphics. The in-thing nowadays is physics
                                 dural tools afforded by the Xenon’s architecture.      acceleration on a chip. We currently have two
                                 The RPG title Oblivion is perhaps the only one to      distinct proposals for such a tactic—a dedicated
                                 use the trick to some effect. It employs a third       physics processor sitting on a PCI bus, or employ-
                                 party tool termed SpeedTree which procedurally         ing a GPU to perform physics acceleration.
                                 generates the trees and the foliage which popu-        Indeed, ATI has also proposed use of its GPU to
                                 late Oblivion’s vast landscape. But even Oblivion      handle audio tasks. All of this is also doable on
                                 does not use it in real-time. Perhaps as time goes     the Xenos. Furthermore, the ATI part can also
                                 on, more titles will employ the idea.                  push and pull content to the shared 512 MB of
                                                                                        memory. This allows the unit to work on data,
                                                                                        push the result to memory and pull it back to
                                                                                        another shader unit for additional processing
                                                                                        and physics tasks. The GPU’s unified approach
                                                                                        to shaders, the multithreaded architecture of
                                                                                        the 360’s processor and the fact that both the
                                                                                        CPU and the GPU share the 1 MB of L2 cache and
                                                                                        the 512MB of system memory, all add to produce
                                                                                        an extremely flexible architecture: the Xbox 360
                                                                                        can load balance—on its six hardware threads
                                                                                        and its 48 shader units-tasks pertaining to
                                                                                        procedural synthesis, pixel shading, vertex shad-
                                                                                        ing, physics, AI, and animation.
                                                                                            Such flexibility and interconnectedness keeps
                                                                                        the entire system busy and increases its efficiency.
                                                                                            Apart from the unified shaders, the GPU also
      Oblivion showcases procedurally generated trees and foliage                       employs a very unique tool-embedded memory.

52   DIGIT JULY 2006
     Digital Passion l In Sight
     The Xenos part from ATI comprises of two cores,                                 these can take the form of wallpapers for the 360’s
     the traditional unit where the shaders lie and a                                interface, or themes, or icons for your Gamertag,
     daughter core, which is the smaller of the two                                  and so on. The Marketplace also offers free
     and is comprised of 10MB of                                                     content in the form of game trailers and game
     embedded high-speed memory                                                      demos. It is fairly common to find a demo of an
     along with some processing                                                      upcoming title to try out; we PC gamers might
     hardware. To understand this                                                    not consider these features too revolutionary but
     engineering feat we need to take                                                it is certainly a great addition to console gaming.
     a short detour and visit two                                                         This diverse range of content is presented
     places-one is the concept of                                                    via a pleasant interface comprised of “blades”.
     embedding itself: in broad terms                                                Each blade is in essence a tab, which leads to a
     the shorter the path between a                                                  different menu:
     processing unit and any form of                                                     Xbox Live/Marketplace - Connects the user to
     memory, the better it is for the                                                Xbox Live. It also offers management options for
     system. Hence, you currently                                                    the player’s list of friends, messages, and Market-
     have 1 MB and 2 MB worth of L2                                                  place transactions.
     cache for processors even though                                                    Games - Keeps track of played games and
     the system itself might offer as                                                earned achievements. Also allows access to Xbox
     much as 4 GB of memory. Embed- Seen here, the Xenos sitting next to its         Live Arcade and downloaded game trailers and
     ding things is generally a good daughter eDRAM                                  demos.
     idea, thus. The second stop is the                                                  Media - This is where one can manage media
     fast-approaching HDTV, and the whole HD-                                        content and use the Media Extender functional-
     era/revolution/better-than-sliced-bread thing.                                  ity of the Xbox 360.
         High-definition content is said to start at                                     System - Changes to the system, privacy, and
     720p resolution (1280x720, progressive or non-                                  security console settings are found here.
     interlaced scan). 720p is incidentally the resolu-
     tion that the Xbox 360 is happiest displaying at.                               A shaky start
     The Xbox 360 requires the 10 MB of embedded                                        The Xbox 360, at least on paper, does a com-
     memory to work on frame buffers at HDTV reso-                                      mendable job of balancing sundry tasks and
     lution. Think of a frame buffer as a canvas to                                     offers a compelling gaming platform. Marry
     paint on—the final image shot to the television                                    that to a collection of development tools
     screen, will come from this buffer. The 10 MB of                                   which are perhaps the most mature and easy
     eDRAM (embedded DRAM) is capable of storing                                                                       to get into in the
     up to a 4X anti-aliased image at 640x480 or a                                                                     console space, and
     1280x720 frame (720p) without anti-aliasing                                                                       one can imagine
     applied. This math applies to a single large                                                                      the 360 doing
     frame, or canvas. The Xenos cuts up the frame                                                                     much better than
     into so-called tiles and instead of working on one                                                                its    predecessor
     very large canvas, it divides the final output into                                                               this time around.
     more manageable chunks. Each of these tiles can                                                                       One of the
     now easily fit into the 10 MB of eDRAM, even                                                                      main goals of
     with 4X FSAA (full-screen anti-aliasing). Basically,                                                              Microsoft      this
     your games will look pretty.                                                                                      round was to
                                                                                                                       launch early and
     Playing It LIVE                                      The Xbox 360 can display a unified blade during gameplay.    amass sufficient
     The Xbox 360 builds on the success it enjoyed        This blade allows one to send messages, check your score and user    base     to
     with the LIVE initiative of its predecessor. LIVE,   play custom music                                            compete effectively
     in essence, is a whole bunch of services rolled                                                                   when the PlaySta-
     into a uniform package. As a match-making                                                      tion 3 launches late this year. At
     service it offers each owner of the console a                                                  this, the console has been largely
     unique identity-based on his or her username                                                   unsuccessful. Production problems
     of choice, and a display picture. This                                                         during the holiday season of 2005
     “Gamertag” displays a player’s “Gamerscore”,                                                   curbed the units sold to a huge
     tracks all the games played, his or her reputa-                                                extent. Moreover, its performance in
     tion based on peer-feedback, and acts as an                                                    Japan is actually worse than its
     identifier to online friends. LIVE also collates a                                             predecessor’s already dismal show-
     list of your online friends and messages from                                                  ing. To date, Xbox 360 has shipped
     friends or challengers. You can also link your                                                 close to three million units world-
     Gamertag to forum avatars, track your mes-                                                     wide and plans to sell around 10
     sages from a PC, send invites to a game via a        The Marketplace offers        million before the PS3 ships. Right now, it
     computer while away from the console, and so         both free and paid content seems a difficult goal to achieve. Sony mean-
     on. In addition to text, LIVE also offers voice-     to Live users                 while, plans to ship a total of six million PS3
     chat during a gaming session.                                                      units by March of 2007. Some would call Sony’s
         This communication layer is just one aspect                                    projection just as optimistic. While it remains
     of the LIVE package. The system also offers the                                    to be seen which of the two consoles will win
     Xbox Live Marketplace which offers casual and                                      this round, one thing is certain-we consumers
     arcade games (Xbox Live Arcade) for trial down-                                    have never had it better-between these two and
     loads and online purchases. You can also pay for                                   Nintendo’s Wii, everybody wins.
     additional content packs from game developers-                                                              readersletters@jasubhai.com

54   DIGIT MAY 2006
                                                                                                     Digital Passion l Tomorrow

Act Naturally                                                                        appeared, the mouse and keyboard have been a
If only we could                Robert Sovereign-Smith                               staple of our digital diets.
actually do that                                                                         Sure, the mice and keyboards being made

                                     o many of us have already spent years, in       today are anything but ordinary (see box Devices
with computers!                      terms of man-hours, sitting in front of a       Of Desire), but the fact of the matter is that this is
                                     computer, clickity-clacking away at the         just design, and not anything groundbreaking.
                                keyboard, clicking a mouse and damaging
                                tissue in our collective quest to develop the        Other Controllers
                                geek’s disease—Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.               The first major shift in input devices was
                                    Think of how much the world of IT has            brought about by gaming—so many of us grew
                                changed: phones have gone from big bulky             up playing games on our Atari and Nintendo
                                things that sat on your desk and weighed as          gaming systems. Next we saw joysticks being
                                much as a bowling ball to tiny little gadgets        connected to computers; then there were the
                                that fit into the pockets of a pair of skin-tight    wheel controllers for car racing games.
                                jeans; CPUs have gone from glorified calcula-           However, we’ve seen gaming branch off into
                                tors to teraflop-measured powerhouses; RAM           the direction of consoles, and they seem to have
                                and hard drives have gone from being meas-           taken the controllers with them: who really
                                ured in MBs to GBs today—not to mention              uses a joystick or wheel on a PC anyway? It’s so
                                having become several orders of magnitudes           much simpler—not to forget cheaper—to just
                                faster. Yet, sadly, the way we interface with our    use the default interface devices, the trusty
                                computers has remained unchanged…                    keyboard and mouse, for gaming.
                                                                                        Perhaps the truth is that we just haven’t
                                The Mouse And Keyboard                               found anything better than these relics of tech-
                                This writer is plodding away at his keyboard writ-   nology to control our PCs. Well, hopefully,
                                ing this, and all of you do the same while using     that’s about to change. Perhaps not as soon as
                                your computers. If you’re not a keyboard warrior,    we might wish, but it’ll change nonetheless.
                                you’re most definitely a mouse wrestler. Ever           Amidst all the hype over all the other thou-
                                since the GUI (graphical use interface) first        sands of new technologies and inventions that

Illustration Chaitanya Surpur
3D Modelling Vikram Kathare
     Digital Passion l Tomorrow
                                                                                           problem with such devices is that you’re gener-
                                                                                           ally confined to your chair and cannot move
                                                                                           your head more than a few inches to the left or
                                                                                           right. This is because the camera needs to focus
                                                                                           on your face or head. Now, for the physically
                                                                                           handicapped, such restrictive devices make
                                                                                           perfect sense, but not for the majority.
                                                                                               Take TrackIR 4 Pro (www.eyecontrol.com)
                                                                                           for instance, a head-control system by Natural-
                                                                                           Point Inc. This system consists of a little head-
     The typical wireless keyboard and mouse, which are the                                piece with three reflective surfaces, and which
     norm today                                                                            can be attached to almost any headwear, such
                                                                                           as a baseball cap. It has a sensor system that,
     keep popping up, there’s hope for those of us                                         with the help of software, tracks the way your
     who want to be able to sit back instead of                                            head moves and translates it to movements in
     hunching over our keyboards and reaching out                                          games. So instead of moving your mouse to look
     for that oddly-placed mouse!                                                          left, you can just look left!
         From all the news and prototypes we’ve come
     across, at least a few revolve around changing
     the way we interface with PCs. The research
     points in four basic directions: better touch-
     based devices (as in new designs for glorified
     keyboards and mice), speech control, eye control,
     and even thought control. Basically, we’re look-
     ing for computers to develop the senses we have—
     touch (they already feel us typing and clicking),
     hearing (speech control), vision (eye control), and
     extra-sensory perception in terms of thought
     control. Smell and taste we might not want them
     to develop—the last thing you need is your PC
     telling you that you smell, or chomping down on
     your finger if it gets hungry!

     Listen To Me
     Speech recognition has been around for quite
     some time now, but isn’t really going anywhere                                      TrackIR 4 Pro translates head movements into mouse
     far. We’ve reached a point where computers can                                      movements on your screen
     understand us when we talk—at least as far as
     understanding commands goes—but that’s                                                    “But doesn’t that mean looking away from
     provided you talk in an expressionless mono-                                          the monitor?” is the question everyone asks.
     tone, and are prepared to spend hours training                                        The answer is simple: sensitivity! You can set
     the software. And don’t forget that you always                                        the software to be less or more sensitive to your
     have to keep shushing people because the mic                                          movements, so moving your head left by a
     cannot tolerate background noise.                                                     degree could change your view in the game by,
          The shortcomings of speech-to-text are well                                      say, 10 degrees.
     documented, and we don’t need to focus on it                                              What’s more, TrackIR 4 Pro looks for move-
     here. All we can hope for is adaptive or intelli-                                     ments along all three axes, and also tracks
     gent software that will be able to understand                                         movements in the form of pitching, yawing,
     what we say, regardless of whether we have a                                          and rolling. This is ideal for, say, a game like
     cold, are breathless, or are talking to our PDAs                                      Microsoft’s Flight Simulator.
     in noisy railway stations!                                                                Reviewers from around the world claim that
                                                                                           this form of control is very easy to get used to,
     Watch Me                                                                              and that it shouldn’t take you more than an
     The more interesting alternative input devices                                        hour to be in complete control!
     being researched are the visual-aided ones. Eye-                                          Now if the TrackIR system is built specifi-
     control or gesture control devices use a camera                                       cally for gaming, there are other products built
     to interface with customised software, and                                            for regular computer use. An example is Quick
     translate your motion into mouse control.                                             Glance from www.iriscom.org, which is specif-
         Interestingly, this was first thought of to                                       ically targeted at people unable to use a mouse
     help the physically disabled interface with PCs.                                      and keyboard. It’s a completely custom-built
     However, as technology progresses, and as we                                          solution that comes with training, so not too
     all become a little disabled in our own way                                           much detail can be provided here. However, it
     (basically, lazy!), such input techniques might                                       does use eye-tracking to move a pointer, which
     come as a boon to us all.                                                             can click on a particular area either by just leav-
         Most devices actually track deviations in                                         ing it over an icon for a short while (by staring
     your eyes or the entire head. Some of these                                           at the icon), or by blinking slowly. As you can
     setups let you left-click with a wink of your left                                    expect, the system comprises software and a
     eye and right-click with your right eye; double-                                      camera that can be mounted on your desktop or
     clicking is taken care of by rapid blinking. The                                      laptop monitor.
                                                              Photograph Amrut Patki
56   DIGIT JULY 2006                                          Imaging Chaitanya Surpur
     Digital Passion l Tomorrow
                                                                                              tions as Nagle, the technology works! We now
                                                                                              know that thought control is actually possible,
                                                                                              and research will get us there soon enough!
                                                                                                  A Brain Computer Interface was recently
                                                                                              showcased, at CeBIT 2006. It allowed two people
                                                                                              to put on some strange-looking headgear and
                                                                                              then play Pong—perhaps one of the simplest
                                                                                              games ever made. Yes, the headgear is funny,
                                                                                              and the sheer number of wires emanating from
                                                                                              it are likely to have people cracking “Please
                                                                                              don’t hurt me, I’ll take you to my leader!” jokes.
                                                                                              But the fact is, we haven’t reached the stage of
                                                                                              aesthetics yet. When (with emphasis on the
                                                                                              word when) such technologies are perfected, we
                                  Iriscom’s Quick Glance 2 follows your eyes and clicks on    can start worrying about aesthetic appeal; for
                                  icons when you blink slowly                                 now, we’re just happy that it works.
                                                                                                  There are many research projects working on
                                     It’s clear that enough inroads have been                 this new way of interfacing with computers, and
                                  made in this field to already have viable prod-             that’s heartening for those of us who are fed up
                                  ucts. As for “tomorrow,” things can only get                of keyboards and mice! Here’s Wikipedia’s entry
                                  better and more accurate!                                   for Brain-Computer interface, which should help
                                                                                              you find more interesting news about this excit-
                                  Read My Mind                                                ing technology change: http://en.wikipedia.org/
                                  Wouldn’t it be great if PCs could read your                 wiki/Brain-computer_interface.
                                  mind? Well, they can! Back in March 2005,
                                  Wired Magazine (www.wired.com) wrote an                     We Don’t Want Silly Hats
                                  article about Matthew Nagle, a victim of a                  Well, we don’t! We don’t want to have to sit
                                  violent crime that left him with a severed                  stationary in front of our computers either, as
                                  spine—a quadriplegic for life. Nagle, thanks to             is required by head or eye tracking systems. The
                                  some innovative technology research, was able               same holds true for the gloves and other devices
                                  to regain a little control of his life. After his           that connect to limbs and allow you to control
                                  doctor suggested that he join a clinical test               motion. Most of us would not be willing to
                                  being      conducted        by    Cyberkinetics             undergo surgery for implants either, for fear of
                                  Neurotechnology Systems (www.cyberkinetic-                  short-circuiting our brains! So what do we do?
                                  sinc.com), Nagle received a brain implant.                      As the research, prototypes and products
                                  After intensive training, Nagle can now turn                mentioned here already suggest, researchers
                                  his TV set on and off, raise the volume, and                are already looking for a non-intrusive, mini-
                                  change channels. He can also interface with                 mal-fuss interface that will only limit you as
                                  his computer and play Pong, draw basic shapes,              much as a mouse and keyboard do.
                                  and more.
                                      The chip in his brain connects to software in           What Happens Tomorrow?
                                  his PC or home appliances, and Matthew “wills”              In the near future—five years or less—we hope to
                                  them to work by thinking about what he wants to             be able to see a coming together of all these tech-
                                  do. Thanks to Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology                 nologies and methods of interfacing. This is the
                                  Systems’ BrainGate Neural Interface System,                 only way in which a truly complete solution
                                  Nagle has hope. Though the clinical trials are              might emerge.
                                  only open to people suffering from similar condi-               Think about it: thought control will never be
                                                                                              perfect, because human brains are unique
                                                                                              enough to cause anomalies in the way the soft-
                                                                                              ware registers thought patterns. What is
                                                                                              “Minimise” for me might be “Close” for you and
                                                                                              so on. What can help iron out the creases are
                                                                                              speech and motion detection software. If you
                                                                                              think “Minimise,” and the PC is confused about
                                                                                              whether you meant “Minimise” or “Close,” it can
                                                                                              use the eye tracking camera and software to
                                                                                              figure out which button you were looking at. Or
                                                                                              perhaps it can use a little AI to understand that
                                                                                              your body language does not suggest that you’re
                                                                                              done with the window in front of you, and there-
                                                                                              fore would not want to close it.
                                                                                                  If someone could integrate speech recogni-
                                                                                              tion (or natural language processing, prefer-
                                                                                              ably), motion detection, thought control and a
                                                                                              little bit of AI, we might finally be rid of our
                                                                                              traditional, boring input devices. Until that day,
                                                                                              nothing is going to dethrone them—old habits
     The cap looks silly, but typing with your brain is cool! Here’s another Brain Computer   die hard!
     Interface under development at the Laboratory of Computational Engineering in Finland                             robert_smith@thinkdigit.com

58   DIGIT JULY 2006
                                                                           Digital Passion l First Hand

     The Protectors
     The founders of the 2,000-strong National Anti-Hack Group, and why they
     would rather guard what they could so easily destroy

     Nimish Chandiramani                                      The Plot
                                                              At the alarmingly young age of 18, Vineet

            s your port 80 wide open?” the Web site
            ominously asks. In these paranoid                 Kumar from Ranchi is now managing director
            times where wars are fought in cyber-             and the face of NAG. His interest in cyber secu-
     space and anybody could be a victim, who will            rity and hacking goes a long way back, and
     stand against the forces of e-vil? Who will              during his activities in hacking groups online,
     protect you from the malicious being that is             he met Rakesh Sharma (now 23), then a
     the hacker? And when will we stop with these             student of computer engineering in
     corny clichés?                                           Rajasthan. Predictably enough, the two found
         There’s probably no answer to the last               a common ground, and numerous—no doubt
     question, but in 2003, two young men sat up              healthy—conversations later, they decided to
     and decided to be the answer to the others. In           form an organisation dedicated to protecting
     the face of increasing attacks on Indian Web             Indian Web sites from malicious attack. They
     sites, Vineet Kumar and Rakesh Sharma                    would encourage and nurture budding hack-
     decided to form a community of ethical hack-             ers, making them use their powers for good,
     ers (or White Hats, as they now call them-               so to speak.
     selves) to secure the country from cyber                     Enter Anup Girdhar, an independent secu-
     attacks—the National Anti-Hack Group (NAG).              rity consultant, who, during the course of a
     Both are highly skilled hackers, and they do it          seminar he was taking at IIT Delhi in 2004, was
     because “only hackers can prevent hack
     attacks,” as they say.

     Illustration Chaitanya Surpur
     3D Modelling Vikram Kathare

59   DIGIT JULY 2006                                                                             JULY 2006 DIGIT   59
     Digital Passion l First Hand
     approached by two earnest young men with an
     offer he couldn’t refuse. He was sold on the
     idea of this budding community called NAG,
     and promptly agreed to join the group and
     lend his guidance to its members.

     The Why And How
     “I had taken a computer course in my 10th,”
     says Rakesh, “and was hooked ever since.
     When I started making my own Web sites, I
     began to take an interest in how these sites
     could be exploited, and started learning all
     I could.”
         Vineet, on the other hand, got his inspira-    From left To right: Anup Girdhar, Rakesh Sharma, Vineet Kumar
     tion from his father, who is himself an accom-
     plished programmer.
         Power corrupts, and the idea of being able                               The Result
     to wreak havoc on the Internet is one that                                   Today, NAG boasts of more than 2,500 members
     inspires evil laughs and sinister rubbing of                                 from all over the world, ranging in skill from
     hands. So what kept the devil at bay? “I come                                your average newbie to some ultra-scary virus
     from a defence background, so the desire to                                  creators and reverse-engineering experts. They
     protect my country was natural. My aim was to                                work as a security consultancy, advising even
     help India recover its hijacked sites.” And                                  government sites on how to stay secure.
     when Ankit Fadia, renowned White Hat, is one                                     “We aim to create ethical hackers so that
     of your best friends, your goal becomes a good                               they can act as early warning system for the
     bit easier to achieve.                                                       nation’s information infrastructure,” says
         How does one go about acquiring such                                     Vineet: “We guide them in learning network
     “1337 sk1llz,” then? For Rakesh, it’s “mostly                                security and ethical hacking and certify their
     through friends, books and participating in                                  hacking skills.” A large number of NAG’s
     online hacking groups and forums.”                                           members are in their teens and early twenties:
                                                                                  at 29, Anup is the second-oldest!
     Trivia Interval: Colourful Hats                                                  When not grooming the hackers of the
     You’ve probably wondered at our repeated                                     future, the NAG team helps the Government by
     mention of the term “White Hat.” It comes                                    scanning their Web sites for vulnerabilities and
     from American Westerns, where the good guys                                  advises them on security—completely free of
     would typically sport a white cowboy hat and                                 charge. They are also affiliated with the Indian
     the bad guys preferred black. So in the mean,                                Computer       Emergency      Response     Team
     lawless world of cyberspace, the White Hat is                                (www.cert-in.org.in), a wing of the Ministry of
     the force of good, the protector of the weak,                                Information Technology in the effort to secure
     the saviour of… you get the point. Then there’s                              India’s sites.
     the Grey Hat, who conveniently sits the fence—                                   If you want to learn from the experts, you
     carrying out activities that nudge the legal                                 can attend one of the many seminars and train-
     boundaries ever so slightly, but doing so for a                              ing sessions that they hold all over the country.
     good cause such as catching a criminal.                                      Their security forum, Igniteds, is a hotbed of
                                                                                  activity at all times, with members from all
     The Cast                                                                     over the world discussing new and crazy hacks—
     When he was just 14, Vineet became one of the                                from fun methods to take revenge on spammers
     world’s youngest Microsoft Certified Profes-                                 to reverse-engineering viruses and Trojans.
     sionals. He has since obtained an embarrass-
     ingly large number of certifications—ranging                                 The NAG Web site: www.nag.co.in
     from Microsoft Certified Database Adminis-                                   The Igniteds Security Forum Web site:
     trator to Novell Certified Linux Professional.                               www.igniteds.net
     As the MD of NAG, he handles most of
     its administration.                                                          The Clichéd Road Ahead
          Rakesh Sharma now works as a security                                   “Right now, we’re working on our project
     engineer for a software firm in Bangalore. He                                Abhedya—an open source effort to build the
     often simulates malicious attacks on networks                                most powerful security solution in the world,”
     to test them. One of his pet peeves is the nega-                             says Vineet. “Anyone can join NAG and
     tive connotation that his “hacker” tag carries.                              contribute to it. We are also getting ourselves
     “People don’t realise the true definition of                                 registered as an NGO.” (Which will probably
     hacking,” he says, “A hacker is just anyone who                              have happened by the time you read this.)
     tinkers with hardware or software to see what                                    So if you’d like to do your bit for the secu-
     it’s capable of.”                                                            rity of the Internet—or if you’re just curious to
          Acting as a mentor to NAG is Anup Gird-                                 see how it works—hop away to NAG’s Web site
     har, a security consultant based in New Delhi.                               and begin your training. Just remember—most
     Anup has nearly 14 years of experience in the                                members have the ability to make your PC
     field. He taught Vineet all he knows, and                                    beg for mercy, so don’t do anything to tick
     regularly conducts seminars on security                                      them off.
     and hacking.                                                                                   nimish_chandiramani@thinkdigit.com

60   DIGIT JULY 2006
                                           THIS MONTH’S CHALLENGE
      Has the “Windows File
      Protection” message ever
      bugged you? Figure a way
      to bypass this message.
                                          Bypass Windows
      Send in your solution with
      the subject “Take a Crack”,
                                          File Protection in
      and your postal address, to
                                          Windows XP

                                          Delete the Recycle Bin from the Desktop and remove the
                                          Shared Documents
                                          Here’s how to delete the Recycle Bin from the             Group Policy Editor by going to Start > Run >
                                          Desktop and remove Shared Documents from                  “gpedit.msc”. Navigate to User Configuration

     Win!                                 Windows Explorer. Before making changes to
                                          your Registry, we strongly recommend you
                                          back it up.
                                                                                                    > Administrative Templates > Desktop. In
                                                                                                    the right pane, double-click “Remove Recycle
                                                                                                    Bin icon from desktop” and select Enable.
                                               Disclaimer: Digit is not responsible for any
                                          damage you may cause to your system as a result           To remove Shared Documents from
                                          of following the steps described below.                   Windows Explorer

                                          Method 1: Open the Registry Editor. Navigate              Method 1: Open the Registry Editor. Navigate
                                          to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\                           to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\
      Take a Crack                        Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explo                    Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explor
      and win                             rer\Desktop\NameSpace. Click on Edit, and                 er\MyComputer\NameSpace\DelegateFolde
      Visual Basic                        then on Find. Search for {645ff040-5081-                  rs\{59031a47-3f72-44a7-89c5-5595fe6b30ee}.
      Database                            101b-9f08-00aa002f954e}. Delete it. Exit the              Right-click that key and delete it. Exit the
      Programming                         Registry Editor.                                          Registry Editor. Shared Documents will be
                                                                                                    removed from Windows Explorer.
      by Roger Jennings
      Published by
                                                                                                    Method 2: As with the first problem, the
                                                                                                    second method involves using the Group
                                                                                                    Policy Editor. Open it and Navigate to User
      LAST MONTH’S WINNER                                                                           Configuration > Administrative Templates >
                                                                                                    Windows Components > Windows Explorer.
          Vijay Pahilwani                 A simple registry hack to get rid of the Recycle Bin!     In the right pane, double-click “Remove Shared
             Bani Park                                                                              Documents from My Computer”. Select Enable.
               Jaipur                         Wait for a moment. When you get back to               If you want to bring the Shared Documents
                                          the Desktop, the Recycle Bin icon will have               icon back to Windows explorer, in the Registry
                                          disappeared. If you want to bring the Recycle             Editor, navigate to
      Rules and Regulations               Bin icon back to the Desktop, follow these
          Readers are requested to        steps: in the Registry Editor, navigate to
      send in their answers by the
      15 of the month of
      publication.                        Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explo
                                          rer\Desktop\NameSpace. Right-click, then
          Employees of Jasubhai           click on New, select Key, and key in
      Digital Media and their relatives
      are not permitted to participate
      in this contest.                    (without the quotes). Exit the Registry Editor.
                                          The Recycle Bin icon will have been restored.
         Readers are encouraged to
      send their replies by e-mail.
      Jasubhai Digital Media will not
                                          Method 2: Here’s another method to remove
      entertain any unsolicited           the Recycle Bin from the Desktop: open the                Remove Shared Documents from My Computer using the
      communication.                                                                                Group Policy Editor

          Jasubhai Digital Media is
      not responsible for any damage
      to your system that may be                                                                    Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explore
      caused while you are trying to                                                                r\MyComputer\NameSpace\DelegateFolders.
      solve the problem.                                                                            Right-click, click New, select Key, then key in
                                                                                                    (without the quotes). Exit the Registry Editor.
                                          Using the Group Policy Editor to achieve the same thing   Shared Documents will be restored.

62    DIGIT JULY 2006
Digital Passion | Geek Dreams

So, excited about
your shiny new        J ust how many pixels do you need to satisfy
                        your urge for bigger and clearer photos? 8, 10,
                      or 12? These numbers look minions before the
                                                                              It is the intelligence of this camera, apart
                                                                          from the brute megapixel numbers, that makes
                                                                          it special. Along with image data, the H2D-39
8 MegaPixel digital
camera? Here’s one    monstrous 39 MP Digital SLR from Hasselblad—        captures an extended set of metadata to
that makes it look    the H2D-39. The H2D-39 is the latest in the rich    perform automated correction for colour
pretty silly          lineage of consumer offerings from Hasselblad,      aberration effects. This ensures that the
                      which is known for producing some                   captures are optimised to provide the finest
                      extraordinary cameras; their photography            detail that the lens can resolve.
                      solutions are used even by NASA!                        It's difficult to imagine what justifiable use
                          Almost everything about this camera's           we can put a 39 MP camera to, but there sure is
                      specs leave you speechless. Its shutter speed       a longing to
                      can be set to as low as a full 32 seconds. The      own one—if you
                      image sensor is more than double the size of        have      $37,000
                      today's 35mm sensors! Images captured by the        (approx Rs. 17
                      H2D-39 are about 78 MB in RAW format, and           lakh) to spare,
                      with lossless compression, 50 MB. The storage       that is!
                      medium can be an optional 80 GB external
                      hard disk, a CF-II card, or a PC or Mac
                      connected through a FireWire port.

Hasselblad H2D-39

                                                                                                              Imaging Sivalal S

                                                                                                              JULY 2006 DIGIT     63
         Digital l 30 days with...
Digital Passion Passion l 30 Days With...

          ThinkFree Office
          Michael Browne

         “H      ow'd you like to spen
                 month?” my editor
         suite,” he continues.
                                       d some quality time
                                       asks me. OK, cool,
                                                             with a software pack
                                                           I think: a change!
                                                                                    age this
                                Change gone out of                               “It's an office
         thought. That's how                          the window! Anyway,
                               I was introduced to                           let's give it a whirl,
         copy, and got down                           ThinkFree Office 3.                           I
                              to installing it. You                        So I downloaded my
                                                    can use the trial ve                           self a
                                                                        rsion we gave in Jun
         Day 1                                                                                 e ‘06 CD.
         Installation was a snap                                               PowerPoint. A few quick
                                    , and with a surprising                                              clicks later,
         footprint of only 118 MB                            ly small          I'm done—it's very sim
                                     . My immediate concer                                            ilar to
         whether functionality                               n was            PowerPoint.
                                 would be affected. I fir
        ThinkFree Office Writ                             st started up
                                e, the word processor.                            By this point I have us
        the interface is nearly                         First surprise:                                   ed ThinkFree Office
                                 identical to that of W                       enough to compare it
        competitors try to ma                           ord! Some                                    with a competing prod
                               ke their office suites loo                     OpenOffice. ThinkFree                            uct,
       ThinkFree have used a                             k different;                                is much lighter on fea
                                 layout familiar to mo                       OpenOffice. Moreover,                            tures than
       I'm glad they didn't ch                          st of us, and                               OpenOffice is free, wh
                                ange the interface! Op                       will cost you. That being                       ile ThinkFree
       ThinkFree's spreadshe                            ened Calc,                                      said, it's significantly
                              et package.                                    system resources.                                   lighter on

      Day 3                                                                   Day 19
     The first niggling shor                                                 I discover that ThinkFre
                             tcoming I came across                                                      e Write can export PD
     ThinkFree's Write is tha                        today with              into Write, something                              Fs directly
                              t there's no highlight                                                  the mighty MS Word
     absolute shame! I did                           tool—an                 pleased since I can typ                         cannot do. I'm
                            like the Grow Font an                                                    e out a few mails in W
     buttons—definitely a plu                       d Shrink Font            browsing the PDFs (al                            rite while
                               s.                                                                  so in Write). After som
                                                                            typing I finish an e-m                           e distracted
     Day 6                                                                                         ail and give the spell-ch
                                                                            run. A bit of a pain, sin                         eck tool a test
     After the initial hiccu                                                                           ce the tool always goes
                            ps, I found both Write                          error I make. Word sco                              to the first
     decent on the productiv                         and Calc pretty                                 res over Write here sin
                              ity front—it's easy to na                    correcting from your cu                           ce it starts
     around the menus, an                               vigate                                        rrent cursor location.
                             d MS Office users will                        I had a quick stint wi
    any time to get used to                          hardly need                                  th Calc to discover tha
                              ThinkFree Office. Every                      cannot be created in a                          t hyperlinks
    laid out. All the basic                           thing is well                                 spreadsheet!
                            functionality is there,
    you actually think you'r                        and at times           Day 23
                              e using Word and Excel
                                                       .                  I move on to Write an
                                                                                                 d import an MS Word
                                                                          had some tracked chan                         document that
    Day 8                                                                                         ges and comments. Ins
                                                                          opening the tracked do                         tead of
    I navigate to the help                                                                        cument, Write opened
                            menu—another surpris                          Checked this again, jus                        a blank one!
   menu laid out in the sa                          e: a neat little                             t to be sure: same result
                             me order as the menu                                                                         .
   I got headings such as                            bar on top. So Day
                            File, Edit, and so on, me                       28
   the help file is organise                          aning that      I'd be lying if I said I'm
                            d according to the me                                                 not impressed. It's a mi
                                                   nu layout.        version of Office, witho                               niature
  Day 14                                                                                        ut some of the frills bu
                                                                     a few important functi                              t also without
  Needed to create a few                                                                        ons. It still has a long
                           slide shows for the good                  before getting anywhe                               way to go
  office, so I start up Th                            folk at the                              re near the functionali
                          inkFree Show, the cou                      Office offers.                                     ty that MS
                                                 nterpart to

                                                                                                            3D modeling Vik
                                                                                                                           ram Katare, Im
                                                                                                                                         aging Sivalal S
                                                                                                           Digital Tools l Jumpstart


 66    Shades
       of Colour           76     New &
                                  Notable           92      More Power
                                                            To You!
                                                                                      Technology For Personal And SoHo Productivity

                   Net gain

                   Ahmed Shaikh                             signing up. The trial will only allow you   and click on the activation link before
                                                            to send a file to one recipient.            you can sign in to use the service.

                            ost current Web mail solutions
Send files                  are a bit more relaxed on the                                                        Getting Around
as large as                 issue of attachment size, and                                                        Once you sign in, you will see
1 GB over          allow you to mail as much as 10 MB of                                                         a list of folders to your left.
                   attachments, but what if you need to                                                 These are self-explanatory and keep
the                send a 500 MB video presentation for                                                 track of items sent and people you
Internet!          a client? That's where services such as                                              have sent them to.
                   YouSendIt come into play.
                        The service comes in various
                   flavours, the basic of which is the Lite
                   account—this allows you to send a file
                   up to 1 GB in size; the file can be down-
                   loaded 100 times, and is available Sign up at the front page
                   online for a period of one week. There
                   are three flavours apart from the Lite             Take Your Pick
                   account—these require you to pay any-              Choose between a Lite
                   where between $5 (Rs 225) and $30                  account and a Plus account.
                   (Rs 1,350) per month. As you climb If you decide to opt for a paid service,
                   higher on this scale, the number of note that the site only accepts major
                   times the file can be downloaded credit cards—it does not support                    Organise your data
                   increases, for a maximum of 500 PayPal accounts.
                   downloads. Finally, a paid                                                               YouSendIt also offers a branded
                   account allows you to send a file                                                    service: you can pay to upload your
                   as large as 2 GB in size. Inter-                                                     company's logo to a YouSendIt custom
                   estingly, the major difference                                                       page, sans ads. It's an attractive
                   between the paid tier services                                                       offering if your business routinely
                   is the maximum number of                                                             transfers large files across distances
                   downloads per file; other ele-                                                       and cannot afford the associated
                   ments such as maximum file                                                           bandwidth. Click on the Branding link
                   size (2 GB) and online life of the                                                   to the left to learn more.
                   file (14 days) remain constant.
                   If you routinely send across                                                                  Get Sending!
                   large files, you can consider the Choose your account type                                     The rest is simple: add recip-
                   $5 per month YouSendIt Plus                                                                    ients in the e-mail input box,
                   account as the best value for money.               The Final Touches                 add a message if you wish to, pick the
                        To send a file to someone, you                Signup requires the usual         file you wish to send to the recipient
                   need his or her e-mail ID. YouSendIt               personal information. Here,       and click on “Send it”. Note that you
                   sends the recipient e-mail account a we signed up for the Lite account,              can make a secure transfer by clicking
                   link to your file, which can be clicked which offers the minimal features of         on the “Need secure…” link; however,
                   for the transfer. The paid accounts also keeping track of your sent items and        we aren't sure what this does, since
                   keep track of which e-mail account has maintains a list of your contacts.            our browser didn't detect any encryp-
                   downloaded your file and when. Let's Note that the 100 recipients adver-             tion settings after clicking the link.
                   take a brief tour to setting up and tised here basically implies that
                   uploading a file through YouSendIt:       your file can be downloaded 100                      The Other Side
                                                             times—assuming each recipient                         The recipient will receive a
                              Sign Up                        downloads once.                                       mail notification containing
                              Head to www.yousendit.com         The service will now send an acti-      a link to your uploaded file. He or she
                              and click on the “Sign up for vation e-mail to the e-mail address         needs to click on this link to be able to
                   free…” link to get started. Note that you specified during signup. You will          download the file.
                   you can also try the service out before need to sign into your e-mail account                     readersletters@jasubhai.com

                                                                                                                                 DIGIT JULY 2006    65
Digital Tools l Printer Test
                                                                     Digital Tools l Printer Test

                          of Colour
                          We bring you the lowdown on some of the latest inkjet
                          printers available in the market, without actually doing
                          a comparative shootout
                          Michael Browne

                           Canon Pixma IP 1200
                          The Quick And The Cheap

                                anon’s entry level Pixma model, the IP 1200, was the little boy in
                                this group—nonetheless a printer that performs and is suitable for
                                the home segment. It prints photos fast, they come out decently
                          well, and the printer doesn’t cost much either.

                          Looks And Features
                          The Pixma IP 1200 is sleek, with a forward-sloping wedge-shaped body. There’s
                          one readily apparent demerit: there’s no output tray at all! You’ll need to
                          keep the printer at least a foot away from the edge of the table, else all your
                          printouts will be on the floor. The outer body is rather flimsy, as are the
                          movable parts. Canon could have done a much better job here: the Epson
                          units we tested show how this can be done at a budget price.

                          Canon’s Pixma series feature some of the
                          fastest printers you’ll see. With timings of
                          two minutes and five seconds for printing
                          our combi-document, and just under four
                          minutes for the A4 photo, the IP 1200
                          leaves the competition chewing the dust,
                               In the pure text tests, the IP 1200 gave
                          poor results at the draft setting, with the
                          printed text looking slightly faded, and
                          with slight spiking (imperfections in lines                Canon Pixma IP 1200
                          and curves) noticeable—but nowhere near as
                          pronounced as on the Epson models. At high settings, the print quality was
                          good, though upon magnification, a slight spiking around the edges of the
                          text was noticeable.
                               The combi-document was a little blurry at medium settings—notice-
                          able in the smaller font sizes—but this cleared up at high quality. The level
                          of detail for the fruit printout was acceptable, but some of the brighter
                          colours seemed to merge at times. The embed-
                          ded photo was sub-par at medium settings, and           Very fast
                          even at high settings, the quality was just decent.     Good for photo
                               Our A4 test photo looked good with the             printouts, though some
                          Pixma IP 1200: no lines whatsoever, good detail,        colour adjustments are
                          and the fine details of facial features weren’t         needed
                          missed. The IP 1200 seemed to produce slightly          Doesn’t do too well at
                          saturated images at default colour and tone             text printing
                                                                                  Build quality leaves a
                          settings: the yellows, while vibrant, appeared too      lot to be desired
                          bright, and this caused the skin tone to change a
Imaging Pravin Warhokar                                                        Price: Rs 3,495
Photograph Jiten Gandhi   little. The highlights and contrast were good.

                                                                                           DIGIT JULY 2006   67
        Digital Tools l Printer Test

                                        Canon Pixma IP 1600
                                       For The Fast Photu-holic

                                              slightly higher-end look-alike of the IP             text was clear. The
                                              1200, this one offers much of the same               photo was repro-
                                              thing. It’s more suitable for photo print-           duced      well,
                                       ing, and is one of the fastest entry-level printers         though       the
                                       we’ve seen thus far.                                        Epson       C67
                                                                                                   edges out the
                                       Looks And Features                                          IP 1600 here.
                                       The Canon Pixma IP 1600 looks identical to its              The fruit basket                 Canon Pixma IP 1600
                                       cheaper cousin, the IP 1200. Unfortunately, the             was also done well,
                                       similarity extends to the build quality!                    with nice detailing and
                                                                                                   colour blending. In high quality mode, the qual-
                                       Performance                                                 ity was even better, of course, and even the small-
            A good photo printer       If the IP 1200 is fast, the 1600 is faster. A text docu-    est font was readable. The contrast test, too,
            Very good for text         ment saw nine seconds at the high-quality setting           treated the IP 1600 well.
            printing, especially at    and 19 seconds at the draft setting: very unusual.              A4 photo quality on the Pixma IP 1600 was
            high settings              At the draft setting, there were minor anomalies            good—better than on the IP 1200, with vibrant
            Blazingly fast             in the form of streaking and a bit of blotting. At          colours and good contrast. Facial features were
            Tawdry build quality       high quality, most of these issues were ironed out,         well detailed, though the tone and colour satu-
            Offers very good value     and the print looked crisp and clean. The Pixma             ration seemed a little too rich. At three minutes
            for the performance it     IP 1600 is therefore reasonably suitable for mass           and 52 seconds, the IP 1600 is fast, but a bit
                                       document printing; the fact that it’s lightning-            slower than the IP 1200.
            Good buy for the home
            user, all considered       fast doesn’t hurt either!                                       This printer is worthy of recommendation as
                                            The IP 1600 performed well in our combi-               both a document and a photo printer, and comes
          Price: Rs 4,495
                                       document tests; even at the normal setting, the             very close to delivering the best of both worlds.

         How We Tested

     O    ur test bed was an Intel Pentium 4 at 3.2 GHz on an Intel
          D875PBZ motherboard with 1 GB of memory. The printouts were
     timed with a stopwatch, from the moment we hit the Print button to
                                                                                   reflects off the skin of a shiny fruit.
                                                                                        The PDF also had concurrent lines drawn within a circle. We
                                                                                   tested whether these lines were straight: most inkjets have problems
     the time the document was ejected by the printer. This was the norm           with this. Next, we had a contrast test, which consisted of yellow text
     for the text, combi-document and photo printouts.                             on a black background. To make the test difficult, we threw in
          For our quality tests, we used two text-only documents. The first        different font sizes, and points were awarded for how well a printer
     was a simple one-font, one-size. It was printed once at draft settings,       could replicate this. Imperfections were noted and points deducted
     and this test was repeated at normal settings. This                                             accordingly. Finally, using the same PDF file, we
     was done because these are the most commonly-used                                               conducted a shade test. This consisted of eight
     settings for black text-only documents. The quality of                                          sample colour boxes, and seven columns of varying
     the printers was assessed on the basis of their ability                                         shades of colour—starting with the lightest shade at
     to produce flawless printouts at both settings.                                                 the top, and the boxes showing successively darker
     Anomalies such as blurring and blotting were noted.                                             shades down the line. Each box had two variations in
     The settings were kept constant for all the printers so                                         shade of the same colour, and the ability to
     they could be fairly compared.                                                                  distinguish between these two shades was something
          The second monochrome document consisted of a                                              we specifically looked for. The shades should also get
     single sentence, the first half of which was written in                                         successively darker, following proper colour
     CAPS, while the second was in lowercase. The                                                    gradation.
     sentence was repeated starting with a font size of 8,                                                Finally, we had an A4 photo test: the photo
     going all the way up to 24. Sharpness of text was                                               occupied an A4 sheet with very narrow margins on
     noted, along with the the points mentioned above.                                               the four sides. The photo was of a person wearing a
          Our combi-document was a PDF file with text,                                               multi-coloured, heavily-embroidered T-shirt sitting on
     images, and shading boxes. Once again, we used              The combi-document used to test a bright yellow sofa, with a red silk coverlet lying on
                                                                 text and image quality
     Normal and Best mode, which are the norm for any                                               one end. A flower vase with white roses is in the
     colour documents such as brochures and graphs. The text point size            foreground, while the background is a blue wall. There was a potted
     varied from 12 to 2. At the smallest point size, most of the printers         plant with lots of green leaves, behind the sofa.
     gave illegible results, but the degree of difference is what we noted              We looked at the printout of the person for facial detail—
     here.                                                                         particularly in the eyes, lips and teeth. Skin tone was checked, and
          There was also an embedded photo in the PDF file, the clarity of         the ability to reproduce the detail on the T-shirt was noted. The
     which was noted at both the settings. We also used an image with a            highlights on the sofa were noted, as was the detail on the shiny
     collection of fruits of different colours on a light blue background,         silver bracelet worn by the person. The sofa had a number of folds in
     faded in parts. We checked this part of the document for the level of         the cloth, and the ability of the printers to reproduce these folds
     detail on the fruit—for example, the contours on the body of a                well—reflecting good colour gradation—was noted. Finally, the red
     pumpkin; the texturing effect the printer could impart; and the               coverlet and the bracelet allowed us to test the printers for their
     degree of separation between fruits, for example, individual grapes in        ability to produce vivid, vibrant colours, and the flowers were checked
     a bowl. We also checked for the highlighting that appears when light          for detailing. The bright blue background, and the leaves with their

68      DIGIT JULY 2006
                                                                                                  Digital Tools l Printer Test

 Epson Stylus C45
Bangs Your Buck And Looks Cool too!

     pson’s offering to the value home user. It’s      actually take a coffee break after
     a sturdy little performer, but not as suitable    hitting the Print button! Our combi
     for photo printing as some of the others          PDF file took seven minutes and 15
here. The fact that Epson made this one real easy      seconds to print—almost 40 per cent
on the eye makes the C45 something you can live        longer than its bigger brother,
with on your desktop for quite a while!                the C67, which at four minutes
                                                       and 20 seconds was a slow-
Looks And Features                                     coach. Monochrome printing
The C45 has the smallest footprint amongst the         was a bit more acceptable, but
entry-level inkjets, and was the second-smallest       still sorely slower than what
of all the printers we received. A tiny retractable    we expected.
output tray adds to the overall compact image.             Quality-wise, text documents
The in-feeder has a small detachable paper             suffered at draft settings. At high              Canon Pixma IP 1200
guide and is top mounted—another neat space-           quality, the fading disappeared, but there was
saving trick.                                          noticeable blotting around the edges of the text.
    We liked the colour combination, as well as            For the combi-document, the C45 displayed
the translucent top. Build quality was decent—         colour detail quite well. It did not fare well in
sturdy enough for daily home use.                      the contrast test (yellow text on a black back-        Good build quality
    The ink monitoring software wasn’t accu-           ground). Black text quality was not good, with         Good looks
rate. A few printouts down and the ink indicator       visibly spiked fonts and ink blotting.                 Decent at printing
dropped to 50 per cent, and stayed there for the           The A4 photo quality was surprisingly good,        photos, but there are
rest of the tests!                                     with decent colour vibrance and contrast, and          better options out there
                                                                                                              Good value for money
                                                       accurate reproduction of detail. The photo
                                                                                                              Text printing suffers as
Performance                                            wasn’t very high-quality, but for Rs 3,295, this       far as quality goes
The C45 was the slowest in our combi-document          printer is an ideal buy for those on a shoestring
                                                                                                           Price: Rs 3,295
and photo printout tests, with an A4 photo             budget who just need to print a few decent-qual-
taking nearly 17 minutes to complete: you can          ity photos.

 Epson Stylus C67
Looks Great, Prints Great, Goes Slow!

    great-looking printer that delivers on the         respectively at the draft and high
    performance front as well. It’s stylish,           quality settings.
    prints well, and occupies a modest                     The PDF combi-document
amount of desk space.                                  gave mixed results, with
                                                       jagged spikes reappearing at
Looks And Features                                     both medium and high qual-
The C67 is bigger and even better looking than         ity modes. Some of the high-
the C45. The front portion falls open to double        contrast text was also not
up as the output tray. The unit employs                clearly visible at medium
“DuraBrite Inks,” claimed by Epson to be               settings, though at high
smudge- and water-resistant, as well as fade-          settings this was ironed out. The
resistant for 120 years! These tests are, however,     embedded photo was reproduced well, with               Epson Stylus C67
carried out on Epson select photo paper, and the       good detailing, especially at high quality. The
same won’t hold true for other photo and               level of detail in the fruit scene was good,
normal papers.                                         though the C45 highlighted the fruit better.
    The Epson C67 doesn’t have the one black and       Speed-wise, the C67 was slower than the compe-
                                                                                                                 Good photo printing
one tri-colour set of cartridges that the C45 has.     tition but faster than the C45.
                                                                                                                 Good for printing casual
Instead, it has four individual cartridges—a popu-         The C67 produced good A4 photos with good             colour printing
lar setup for photo printers. The ink monitoring       contrast and highlights, but missed out on                Great looks and build
software worked fine on the C67, which made us         colour gradation: the cloth settee in the back-           quality
believe the issue with the C45 was a one-off glitch.   ground has several folds in the cloth, which              Suffers a bit as far as
                                                       weren’t picked up properly. Facial features had           monochrome printing
Performance                                            good detail. The C67 took five minutes for the            goes, but is more
While printing black text in Draft mode, there         photo printout—which is more than three times             suitable for the task
was noticeable artefacting, similar to the blot-       faster than its sibling, though it’s still slower         than its smaller brother
                                                                                                                 the C45
ting on the C45 at high settings, but thankfully,      than what we expected.
                                                                                                                 Printing speed is slow
there was no fading in the text. At high quality,          Overall, the difference between the C67 and           for a printer of
some of the blotting prevailed, though it wasn’t       C45 is small. If you’re looking for an affordable         this class
as noticeable. Surprisingly, the C67 was slower        printer that offers high-quality photos at             Price: Rs 4,399
than the smaller C45, taking 40 and 54 seconds         Rs 4399, the C67 is a good pick.

                                                                                                                         DIGIT JULY 2006    69
           Scoreboard                                                                       Inkjet Printers
     BRAND                                        Epson                Canon                    Canon                Epson                HP
     MODEL                                        Stylus C45           Pixma iP1200             Pixma iP 1600        Stylus C67           Deskjet 460cb Mobile
     Printing Technology                          Piezoelectric        Thermal                  Thermal              Piezoelectric        Thermal
     Resolution (dpi)                             2880 x 720           4800 x 1200              4800 x 1200          5760 x 1440          4800 x 1200
     Interface                                    USB 2.0              USB 2.0                  USB 2.0              USB 2.0              USB 2.0
     Input Buffer                                 12 KB                96 KB                    96 KB                32 KB                32 MB
     Output / Input Tray Capacity                 25 / 100             None / 150               None / 150           25 / 120             None / 50
     Cartridges Included?                         ✔                    ✔                        ✔                    ✔                    ✔
     Dual-side Printing Support                   ✖                    ✖                        ✖                    ✖                    ✖
     Data Cable                                   ✔                    ✔                        ✔                    ✔                    ✔
     Power Cord                                   ✔                    ✔                        ✔                    ✔                    ✔
     Manuals and Documentation
     Troubleshooting / Quick Setup Guide          ✔                    ✔                        ✔                    ✔                    ✔
     Miscellaneous features
     Status of Ink Tanks through Driver           ✔                    ✖                        ✖                    ✔                    ✔
     Special Features                             NA                   NA                       NA                   NA                   PictBridge,USB,MemCardSlot
     Type of Cartridges                           Black/Tri-colour     Black/Tri-colour         Black/Tri-colour     4 Individual Tanks   Black/Tri-colour
     Weight (kg)                                  3.04                 2.9                      2.9                  4                    2.22
     Dimensions (H x W x D) (cm)                  16.2 x 41.9 x 19.9   16.5 x 43.5 x 24.9       16.5 x 43.5 x 24.9   19.5 x 44.7 x 24     8 x 34 x 18.4
     Build Quality
     Movable Parts, Trays, Sliders, etc. (So5)    4                    2.5                      2.5                  4                    3.75
     Movable Parts in the Cartridge Bay (So5)     3.5                  3                        3                    3.75                 4
     Speed Tests (Time)
     Plain Text in Draft Mode (Black and White;   11 sec               18 sec                   19 sec               40 sec               11 sec
     Lowest Quality)
     Plain Text in High-Quality Mode (Black       37 sec               20 sec                   9 sec                54 sec               14 sec
     and White)
     Photo Printout (Colour; Highest Settings;    16 min 50 sec        3 min 50 sec             3 min 52 sec         4 min 59 sec         3 min 53 sec
     Kodak Paper)
     Combi-Document (Normal Mode)                 1 min 57 sec         44 sec                   42 sec               1 min 41 sec         54 sec
     Combi-Document (Best Mode)                   7 min 15 sec         2 min 5 sec              1 min 58 sec         4 min 20 sec         1 min 39 sec
     Image Quality Tests
     Image Quality (Black-only Text Document)
     Text Quality (So5)                           2.5                  3                        4                    3.25                 4.25
     Image Quality (Combi-document, Normal)
     Colour Saturation (So5)                      2.83                 2.83                     3.25                 2.58                 3.50
     Spatial Resolution (So5)                     3.35                 3.3                      3.6                  3.05                 4.05
     High-Contrast Details (So5)                  1.75                 2.5                      3.5                  3                    3
     Image Quality (Combi-document, Best) (So5)
     Colour Saturation                            3.25                 3.08                     3.00                 3.17                 3.92
     Spatial Resolution                           3.5                  3.15                     3.1                  3.6                  4.3
     High Contrast Details                        2                    3.75                     4                    3.5                  3
     Image quality (Picture, Best) (So5)
     Colour Reproduction                          3.88                 3.50                     3.63                 3.75                 4.00
     Colour Saturation                            3.67                 3.75                     3.92                 3.67                 4.17
     Specular Effect                              4                    4                        4.25                 4.25                 4.25
     Level of Detail                              3.75                 4                        4                    3.5                  4.5
     Price (Rs)                                   3,295                3,495                    4,495                4,399                14,999

70   DIGIT JULY 2006
                  Digital Tools l Printer Test

HP                           HP
Photosmart 7838              Officejet K550 Pro

Thermal                      Thermal
4800 x 1200                  4800 x 1200
USB 2.0                      USB 2.0
32 MB                        32 MB
50 / 100                     150 / 250
✔                            ✔
✖                            ✖

✔                            ✔
✔                            ✔

✔                            ✔

✔                            ✔
Pictbridge,USB,MemCardSlot   NA
Black/Tri-colour/Photo       4 Individual Tanks
4.2                          9.7
15.8 x 46.5 x 23             21.3 x 49.5 x 40.3

4                            4.5
3.5                          4.25

11 sec                       12 sec

19 sec                       13 sec

3 min 3 sec                  3 min 5 sec

30 sec                       16 sec
1 min 4 sec                  34 sec

3.5                          3.75

2.75                         2.92
3.1                          2.9
2.5                          2.5

3.50                         3.42
3.65                         3.7
3.25                         3.25

3.38                         3.38
3.00                         3.83
3.5                          3
2.5                          3.5
5,499                        7,999

                                                  DIGIT JULY 2006   71
     Digital Tools l Printer Test

                                     HP Deskjet 460cb Mobile
                                    Small In Size, Big On Quality

                                           compact photo printer that gets the job          fast as well, taking 11 and 14 seconds in our
                                           done in style; in fact, it’s a safe bet to say   draft and high-quality tests respectively.
                                           this one should give many normal-sized               Our combi-test was handled very well too,
                                    inkjets a run for their money. An excellent buy         with the text crisp and clear. The embedded
                                     for the professional who needs to cart his             photo was reproduced well, with minor arte-
                                       printer around.                                      facts at normal settings. At both quality
                                                                                            settings, the fruit basket was perfectly repro-
                                         Looks And Features                                 duced with excellent detail on the colours, and
                                          The 460cb is by far the smallest printer          realistic textures.
                                              we’ve received. The in and out paper              With such results, we were optimistic about
                                                   trays and the top flap have been         the photo test as well. The diminutive 460cb
                                                       designed to fit flush with each      galloped along, taking only three minutes and
                                                         other. The build quality of the    53 seconds to print an A4 size photo. Photo qual-
                                                         movable parts is excellent.        ity was impressive: the flowers in the foreground
                                                         Being a photo printer, the         looked good, with good detail around the petals.
                                                        460cb comes with an SD/MMC          Facial features looked life-like, with perfect
                                                       and a CF slot. It uses the stan-     colour blending, giving a realistic texture feel to
                                                             dard      black/tri-colour     the skin. Tones were vivid, yet not overly bright.
                                    HP Deskjet 460cb Mobile cartridges—no individual        This printer can handle contrasts very well, and
        An ultra-compact                                     tanks here.                    the bright-coloured bracelet was reproduced
        printer; very portable                                                              perfectly. Even the red silk coverlet looked rich
        Excellent for               Performance                                             and vivid—something a few of the printers
        photographs                 Under our text tests, the 460cb performed               missed out on.
        Very good build quality     commendably, with no blotting at high quality.              This printer delivers performance, and is,
        Costly and not really       In Draft mode, the document showed signs of             like we said, very compact. No compromises
        worth the price unless
        portability is of
                                    blotting, although this wasn’t very noticeable.         whatsoever! The only sore point is the price—
        tantamount importance       At high-quality settings, the printout was as           Rs 14,999. Still, for the professional who might
                                    close to perfect as we’ve seen. This is thus a very     need to cart around a printer with him, the HP
     Price: Rs 14,999
                                    good printer for monochrome printing, and is            460cb will deliver with aplomb!

                                     HP Photosmart 7838
                                    Doesn’t Really Live Up To Its Name

                                         he 7838 is a feature-rich printer with all the     better. Qual-
                                         goodies such as PictBridge and support for         ity and clarity
                                         multiple memory slots. Its looks will win the      was      somewhat
                                    hearts of many, while the inclusion of a discrete       better at high settings,           HP Photosmart 7838
                                    photo cartridge along with the package make it a        but this is expected, though
                                    sweet value-for-money deal.                             we feel the entire page
                                                                                            could have been a tad better. Speed wasn’t an issue:
                                    Looks And Features                                      the printer took one minute and four seconds at
                                    The HP PhotoSmart 7838 is a photo printer with          the high-quality setting.
        Very good looks; a good     top-class build quality. The fit and finish of the          The 7838 completed the photo in three
        colour combination has      paper trays and top panel are great.                    minutes and three seconds. We did two photo
        been used                       The 7838 comes with PictBridge support. It          printouts—one with the regular black cartridge,
        Supports PictBridge         also supports SD/ MMC/CF and XD memory cards.           and another with the photo cartridge. With the
        plus a lot of different     This printer has a two-cartridge setup: the black       photo cartridge, the printout took 24 seconds
        memory slots
                                    one can be swapped for a photo cartridge.               longer. With the regular cartridge the photo
        Well-priced for the
        features it brings to                                                               looked a bit dull, and there was easily-detectable
        the table                   Performance                                             graininess. With the photo cartridge, the graini-
        Mixed results in the text   The 7838 produced clear, crisp text without visi-       ness disappeared, as did the problem with vivid-
        and combi tests, where      ble quality loss. At draft settings, we noticed some    ness. The tones looked much richer—in fact, we felt
        the printer performed       artefacting—unacceptable for a printer in this          the yellow sofa was over-saturated, but the lack of
        well only at higher         price range. At the higher settings, there was no       a dedicated black cartridge (you need to pull out
        settings, which will        loss in quality.                                        the black cartridge when inserting the photo
        consume more ink                The printer fared rather badly in our combi-        cartridge) caused quite a few problems, particu-
        Not really great for
                                    document test—surprising for such a printer . The       larly noticeable as blurring in the hair and around
        photo printing, which
        is the segment it’s         embedded photo was distorted, and the contrast          the pupils of the eye of the subject.
        aimed at!                   test saw a hardly-legible output when the font size         All in all a very well-built, feature-rich printer,
        Price: Rs 5,499             was reduced. The detail in the fruit scene was also     but the performance is mediocre for Rs 5,499.
                                    missing, and the colours also could have been           There are cheaper options that do the job better.

72   DIGIT JULY 2006
                                                                                                      Digital Tools l Printer Test

     Cartridges—Original Or Refilled?

  M     any consumers who use inkjet printers
        opt for cartridge fill-up kits, or visit refill
  centres after they use their first set of ink
  cartridges that came bundled with the printer.
  And why not—after all, you can easily get a
  refill for around a one-third of what a new
  cartridge would cost.
       Quality doesn’t come cheap, however, and
  using such fill-ups or re-manufactured
  cartridges can compromise printer components
  via leakages or deposits, thereby chalking up
  greater long-term costs due to repairs and
  possibly even device replacement. There are
  short-term repercussions, too: refilled
  cartridges generally do not last as long as
  originals do, because of the filling and sealing
  procedures used. And the print quality is almost
  never as good as with original cartridges.
       You might be lucky enough to find a
  cartridge refiller in your area who does a good
  job. Many don’t, but some do. We can’t
  recommend any refilling companies because
  refilling your cartridge voids your warranty!
       It’s a trade-off of sorts. Basically, home
  users, who always want value, will opt for refills
  while sacrificing on quality, while for small
  business houses and the corporate sector, its
  quality all the way. There is no real solution and
  the debate goes on; it all depends on what you
  want from your printer, and to what extent
  you are willing to trade price with quality.

 HP OfficeJet Pro K550
The Speedy Workhorse

     argeted at the office and SoHo segment,              tively. At normal settings the printout was a little
     this tank (built well, built large), can just as     light: the embedded photo lost out on clarity. The
     easily be used at home for printing photos.          fruits were reproduced well though; we
In fact, just using it for monochrome printouts           would have liked it if the
doesn’t do it justice at all!                             printer used a little more
                                                          ink at lower settings. Print
Looks And Features                                        quality at high settings was
The K550 pro is a large printer with excellent            good, with the fruits
build quality. It comes with changeable print             coming out well with all the
heads, which is a good thing, as regular use              highlights. The contrast test
degrades the print heads. The K550 has large indi-        was just OK—the K550
vidual ink tanks. The paper-in tray can hold 250          missed out on the smallest
sheets—suitable for heavy duty printing.                  font even at high settings.
    There’s a DTN variant of this printer as well,            Although not many busi- HP OfficeJet Pro K550
which has an Ethernet port. The K550DTN costs             nesses will use their inkjet to
Rs 5,500 more than this one. Besides the Ether-           print photos, we nevertheless decided to set this
net port, the models are identical.                       test up. The photo that resulted was adequately-        Supreme build quality
                                                                                                                  and sturdiness; looks
                                                          detailed, with all the facial details being captured    good
Performance                                               well. The eyes looked very realistic; the yellow        Suitable for the SoHo
This printer took just 12 and 13 seconds respec-          settee came out well; and the shiny red silk cover-     segment
tively to print our text page at draft and normal         let was very vibrant. We noticed a little graini-       Individual ink tanks and
settings. The printout at high quality was                ness at one portion of the photo, and took              changeable print heads
almost flawless. At draft quality the ink volume          another printout just to be sure—this was not           Very suitable for
seemed a little light; quality, therefore, wasn’t         repeated, but the little quirk was noted.               moderate-volume text
too good, but for a business that prints in high              Overall, a very good product that delivers for      printing
volumes and wants to save on ink, this is actu-           its price. It is perfectly suited to the SoHo           Moderately suitable for
                                                                                                                  photo printing
ally a plus.                                              segment, and even to the home user for whom a           A bit bulky though
    Our combi-document took 16 seconds and 34             little extra ink spent at high settings is well
                                                                                                               Price: Rs 7,999
seconds to print at normal and best quality respec-       worth the quality.

                                                                                                                            DIGIT JULY 2006   73
     Digital Tools l A-List
     Motherboards                          External DVD-Writers                 PVR Software                    Graphics Cards (High-End)
     Mercury PI915GVM                      Lite-On LightScribe SHW-16H5S        WinDVR 3.0                      XFX GeForce 7800 GTX
      Supports PCIe, DDR/DDR II               Good performance, EZ-DUB           Ease of use, pause TV, zoom    256 MB
      RAM, 6-channel audio                   No FireWire                         in on TV, tiled preview of       Extreme performance, great
      Only 2 PCI slots. No SATA.                                                 channels, DV-to-MPEG, good       price, exotic features
                                             Contact Mediatech India             picture clarity                  None
        Contact Kobian ECS India Pvt ltd              Distribution Pvt Ltd                                        Contact Rashi Peripherals
        Phone 022-23020767 / 774                                                 None
                                             Phone 022-26361111                                                   Phone 022-28221013
        E-mail mumbai@kobian.com             E-mail digit@mediatechindia.com      Contact www.intervideo.com      E-mail navinderc@
        Price Rs 4,750                       Price Rs 6,495                                                                rptechindia.com
                                                                                Digital Cameras                   Price Rs 32,950
                                                                                (High- End)
                                           Internal DVD-Writers                 Sony CyberShot DSC-P200
                                           Lite-On Super AllWrite                 Compact, 7-megapixel
                                           SHM-165P6S                             performance-oriented
                                             Good performance, supports           camera
                                             all DVD formats                       None in particular
     MSI RS480M2-IL                          None in particular                   Contact Sony India Pvt Ltd
      PCIe-based, 6-channel audio,                                                Phone 011-55006600
      supports 4 GB RAM, Socket              Contact Mediatech India
                                                     Distribution Pvt Ltd         E-mail mktginfo@ap.sony.com
      939, FireWire port                     Phone 022-26361111                   Price Rs 20,990
      No Gigabit Ethernet                    E-mail digit@media
                                                    tech india.com                                              Linux
        Contact Tirupati Enterprises                                                                            SuSe 9.3 Linux Professional
                                             Price Rs 3,085
        Phone 033-22251192                                                                                        Up-to-date software bundling
        E-mail mail@tirupati.net                                                                                  None
        Price Rs 4,950
                                                                                                                  Contact G T Enterprise
                                                                                                                  Phone 080-26695890/91/
                                                                                                                  E-mail gtcdrom@vsnl.com
                                                                                                                  Price Rs 4,398

                                                                               The best products tested so far in different
             The A-List                                                        hardware and software categories

     5.1 Speakers                          Hard drive-based MP3                Projectors                       LCD Monitors (17-inch)
     Philips MMS 5.500 i/C                 Players                             Sharp XR-10S                     NU QL-711V
       Good for music                      Apple iPod                            Brilliant quality and           Inexpensive
       Not suitable for gaming                                                   performance                     Below average build quality
                                                                                 Bulky                            Contact Shiba Comp Pvt Ltd
       Contact Philips India Ltd
       Phone 022-56912332                                                        Contact Sharp Business           Phone 011-26413437
       E-mail pcp.india.info@philips.com                                         Systems Ltd                      E-mail shiba@del2.vsnl.net.in
       Price Rs Rs. 4,990                                                        Phone 011-26431313               Price Rs 11,970
                                                                                 E-mail anilsodhani@
                                                                                        sharp-oa.com            LCD Monitors (19-inch)
     2.1 Speakers                            Amazing Sound Quality,              Price Rs 71,000                NU L921G
     Altec Lansing MX-5021                   Easy Interface, Plays Video                                         Low price, good viewing
       Great sound and build quality         No FM, No Protection For                                            angles
       Slightly expensive                    Screen                                                              Below-average build quality
       Contact Rashi Peripherals             Contact Apple Computer                                               Contact Shiba Comp Pvt Ltd
       Phone 022- 55090909                            International Pvt Ltd                                       Phone 011-26413437
       E-mail divya@rptechindia.com          Phone 1800-425-4683                                                  E-mail shiba@del2.vanl.net.in
       Price Rs 7,900                                                                                             Price Rs 18,000
                                             E-mail indiainfo@
                                             Price Rs 19,800

                                           Flash-based MP3 Players             LCD Monitors (15-inch)
                                           SAFAQ100                            BenQ FP51G
                                             Good Sound and Interface            Good performance
                                             Very Small Screen For Video         None in particular
                                           Playback                              Contact BenQ India Pvt Ltd
                                             Contact Arihant Computers           Phone 022-25705230
                                             Phone 022-23822424                  E-mail kamlesh.salunke@
                                             E-mail arihant_computers                   benq.com
                                                    @vsnl.com                    Price Rs 9,900
                                             Price Rs 8,600

74   DIGIT JULY 2006
                                                                                                                   Digital Tools l A-List
Burning Software                    Home Inkjet MFDs                   Keyboard-Mouse Combos                   PCs above Rs 25K
Sonic/Roxio Easy Media              HP Officejet 4355 All-in-One       Gigabyte GKM-10                         Acer Aspire ASP V4324
Creator 8                            Fax with handset, compact           Good ergonomics                         Good performance and pack-
   Feature-rich, low on system       Only sheetfed scanner               Can do with more features               age contents, low price
  resources, many bundled                                                                                        None in particular
                                      Contact HP India Sales Pvt Ltd     Contact Gigabyte Technology (I) Ltd
  utilities                           Phone 0124-2566111                 Phone 022-26526696                       Contact Acer India (Pvt) Ltd
  None in particular                  E-mail ashwini-k.aggarwal          E-mail sales@gigabyte.in                 Phone 080-25219520
  Web site www.roxio.com                     @hp.com                     Price Rs 790                             E-mail ailenquiries@acer.co.in
                                      Price Rs 6,499                                                              Price Rs 25,999

Feature-rich Cell Phones            Office Inkjet MFDs                                                         Media Center PCs
Sony Ericsson K750i                 HP Officejet 5610 All-in-One
  Very good camera & audio           Good performance
  quality, good display crispness    Expensive, No memory card
  Screen could have been bigger      support
  Contact Sony Ericsson               Contact HP India Sales Pvt Ltd
  Phone 0124-2560808                  Phone 0124-2566111
  E-mail dhiraj.soni@                 E-mail ashwini-k.aggarwal
  Price Rs. 14,995
                                      Price Rs 9,999                   Mono Laser Printers
                                                                       Brother HL-5170DN                       HP Pavilion m7280in
                                                                         Good build quality, network            Great design, features, and
                                                                         support                                performance
                                                                         Expensive                              Expensive
                                                                         Contact Lipi Data Systems Ltd            Contact HP India Sales Pvt Ltd
                                                                         Phone 022-22882960                       Phone 0124-2566111
                                                                         E-mail sharatk@lipidata.com              E-mail incontact@hp.com
                                                                         Price Rs 21,900                          Price Rs 63,999

Budget Cell Phones                  Keyboards                           Mono Laser MFDs                        Lifestyle Ultra-Portable
Nokia 2600                          iBall Power Key Designer            Samsung SCX-4521F                      Laptops
  Value for Money, Easy               Feature-rich                        Good performance and                 Sony VAIO VGN-S46GP/S
  Navigation                          None in particular                  quality                                Good looks, great performance,
  4k colour screen                                                        Low input tray capacity                excellent LCD display
                                      Contact Best IT World (India)                                              None in particular
  Contact Nokia India                         Pvt Ltd                     Contact Samsung India
  Phone 30303838                      Phone 022-3081 5100                         Electronics Pvt Ltd            Contact Sony India Pvt Ltd
  Website www.nokia.co.in             E-mail sales@iball.co.in            Phone 011-26431313                     Phone 011-55006600
  Price Rs.2869                       Price Rs 990                        E-mail vikram.negi@                    E-mail mktginfo@ap.sony.com
                                                                                 samsung.com                     Price Rs 99,990
Mid-range Cell Phones                                                     Price Rs 21,990
Motorola L7                                                                                                    Lifestyle Workhorse Laptops
                                                                                                               Acer Ferrari 4002
  Sleek and elegant looks,
                                                                                                                 Great looks and flaunt value,
  Good build quality, expand-
                                                                                                                 great performance
  able memory
                                                                                                                 None in particular
 None in particular
                                                                                                                 Contact Acer India (Pvt) Ltd
  Contact Motorola India Pvt. Ltd                                                                                Phone 080-25219520
  Phone 0124-230-3212 / 7212                                                                                     E-mail ailenquiries@acer.co.in
  Website www.motorola.com          Mice                                                                         Price Rs 99,999
  Price Rs.10,007                   Logitech G7 laser mouse
                                      Feature-rich, offers fantastic
                                                                        Value PCs
                                                                        HCL Ezeebee 4981
                                                                         Great performance and
                                      Contact Logitech Electronic        upgradable
                                              India Pvt Ltd               None in particular
                                      Phone 022-26571160
                                      E-mail kavita_nath@                 Contact HCL Infosystems Ltd
                                             ap.logitech.com              Phone 0120-2520977
                                      Price Rs 6,495                      E-mail wecare4u@hcl.in
                                                                          Price Rs 23,999

                                                                                                                                 JULY 2006 DIGIT   75
     Transcend StoreJet 2.5 40 GB                                          GIGABYTE N211U
     Your Mobile Desktop                                                   Some Of The Good, Some Of The Bad
     T   he Transcend StoreJet 2.5 external USB 2.0 hard drive is
         sleek, and the build quality is rugged. Data storage capacity
     is 40 GB. The device requires two USB ports—one for data and
                                                                            A    12.1-inch screen with a wide viewing angle, 802.11 b/g,
                                                                                standard 10/100 LAN, PCMCIA Type II slot, a DVD-Writer,
                                                                            and an MMC/SD card are the goodies here.
     one for power. Data transfer speeds are quite fast—it took just 6.5        With a 1.73 GHz Pentium Mobile 740J
     seconds to transfer a 100 MB file.                                     processor supported by 512 MB of
          What makes this drive special is the bundled software—            DDR RAM and a 60 GB hard
              StoreJet PC Lock can be used to lock your OS when the         disk, the N211U logged
                  drive is unplugged and unlock it when the drive is        above-average CPU and
                       plugged back in. Mobile IE, Mobile OE and            memory benchmark scores.
                           Mobile Address Book let you carry your           The GMA 900 video card can
                               Internet settings, bookmarks, e-mails,       handle only moderate gaming.
                                   and more such stuff around for use           The kill-joy is the extremely
                                        on any computer. All these          badly-designed touchpad. It’s
                                            utilities come inside the       hard to even move the cursor
                                            Device Desktop, which lets      around the desktop! Thankfully,
                                            you carry your Desktop          the keyboard feel was satisfactory.
                                           anywhere. The low price tag      The battery lasted only 116 minutes
                                       of Rs 5,200 is enticing.             of continuous DVD movie
                                                                            playback—a big let-down.

                              Company Mediaman                              Company Gigabyte Technologies
                        Price Rs 5,200                                      Price Rs 60,999
                   Phone 022-23828100                                       Phone 022-26526696
      E-mail sales@mediamangroup.com                                        E-mail sales@gigabyte.in
      Web site www.transcendusa.com          Rating                         Web site www.gigabyte.in        Rating

     Plantronics Discovery 640 Bluetooth Headset
      Trendy And Functional                                                despite what that sounds like! Three soft earplugs with

      E  asily one of the best-looking headsets we’ve come across,
         and by far one of the most compact, this headset comes
      ensconced in a neat little aluminium box—very showy!
                                                                           different sizes to suit your ear size are provided.
                                                                               All the attachments besides the ear assembly come in a
                                                                           steel and black finish—very classy.
      Everything about it is unique, from the three-piece headset              Voice clarity was very good, with zero distortion when the
      (you actually need to assemble this one) to the multiple             cell phone was close by. Signal integrity is good for around 20
      charger attachments and the swanky pen-like dock.                    feet, after which degradation occurs, and the signal distorts
          The Discovery 640 is ultra-compact as far as Bluetooth           badly after 28 feet. Having obstructions will only hasten
      headsets go, and features one-button operation. Volume is            distortion, but these figures are good: you can leave your cell
      controlled by a two-way button. The attachments include a                                       on your table as you move around
      small pen-like docking station that vibrates when you receive                                        the room.
      a call, and doubles up as a charger. It also clips onto your                                              The Discovery 640 is the way
      pocket, much like a pen. There are also                                                               to go you’re in the market for a
      small adapters compatible                                                                             quality Bluetooth headset.
      with most cell phone                                                                               Compact and stylish, it’s a
      chargers that can be                                                                            combination of looks and
      plugged onto the dock,                                                                       performance. The slight problem of
      so you need only carry                                                                        music playback is there, but that’s
      your cell phone                                                                                 what regular headphones are for! A
      charger with you. An                                                                               worthy buy, even at Rs 4,700.
      A/C charger has also
      been provided. The
      device itself has a
      detachable ear hook,
      consisting of a twisted
      metal wire encased in

      Company Plantronics Inc
      Price Rs 4,700
      Phone 0124-5105192
      E-mail bobby.joseph@plantronics.com
      Web site www.plantronics.com          Rating

76    DIGIT JULY 2006
Nokia 6708
Nah... We’ll Wait For The Movie
T   his is Nokia’s second touch-screen phone to hit the Indian market after the 7710.
    Touted as a business phone for individuals on the go, it runs on the Symbian7 OS
with the UIQ 2.1 interface—quite dated if you’re looking for good features.
    No grouse as far as looks are concerned; the silver-grey colour combination gives
the phone an executive look. The large 65K colour screen works in the favour of
the phone—especially when you’re using it as writing pad—and dominates the
front facia. The keypad, however, is quite cramped.
    Handwriting recognition is accurate, but needs time to get used to. Devoid
of any other option of inputting data, the 6708 doesn’t really qualify as a
good business phone—one-handed operation is a must, and the Nokia 6708
is uninspiring on that front.
    Connectivity options include IR, Bluetooth, a mini USB jack and GPRS
for connecting to the Internet. The phone also includes a universal
remote for your TV, DVD player, air conditioner, and so on. The phone
has 18 MB of memory dynamically shared between applications, and a
hot-swappable miniSD slot for memory expansion. The integrated
1.3-megapixel camera delivers mediocre performance.
    For documents, the 6708 comes equipped with the Quickoffice                                                       Company Nokia India Pvt Ltd
software bundle. It also supports all major e-mail protocols.                                                      Price Rs 21,500
    This Nokia is a decent product by itself, but falls short of being a good                                     Phone 30303838 (toll-free)
“business” phone. At Rs 21,500, we’d recommend you wait for the upcoming                                        E-mail advait.vaidya@nokia.com
E series of business phones from Nokia.                                                                       Web site www.nokia.co.in

Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 750 GB                                 Genius LOOK 315FS
Perpendicular Storage Behemoth!                                  Ready For Some Football Fever?
T  he Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 750 GB SATA—Seagate’s
   first hard drive built upon perpendicular storage—is
currently the storage behemoth in our test lab. The new
                                                                 G   enius has launched the LOOK 315FS Webcam, which
                                                                     looks like a football. After all, the World Cup is on! The
                                                                 body is made of rubber, reminiscent of an actual football,
recording technology has enabled Seagate to provide              and you’ve got to appreciate the inclusion of the 32
oodles of space for all those games and that meticulously-       national flag stickers of the 2006 FIFA qualified teams.
maintained MP3 and movie collection.                                 The LOOK 315FS has an inbuilt microphone, though its
    Seagate has, surprisingly, positioned this drive for the     quality is not too good. The DD Theme Party application
gamer, movie buff, and lower enterprise segment, which           that comes bundled is, without a
doesn’t need the raw speed of the faster 10,000 rpm drives.      doubt, the strongest reason in
HD Tach clocked it at a read burst speed of 86.1 MBps—           for buying this thingy. You
impressive, though CPU utilisation was a bit on the higher       can track a face and add
side at 26.8 percent. It also posted impressive data transfer    funky-looking theme
scores in SiSoft Sandra 2005 Pro. The size doesn’t seem to       masks to it. The image
affect the performance at all.                                   quality is nothing to
    Overall, we’re very impressed with this Goliath.             boast about, and is
Although it’s a bit of overkill for lesser mortals like us, if   grainy at times.
space is what you crave and your pockets are deep enough,            The 315FS has
this one is sure to satisfy!                                     decent gimmick value
                                                                 for Rs 2,400. Combined
Company Seagate Technologies   Rating                            with the software
Price Rs 26,200                                                  package and its looks,
Phone 011-41811694                                               this is a must-have for
E-mail msinghal@esysmail.com                                     the football
Web site www.seagate.com                                         aficionado. But the
                                                                 video and audio quality are
                                                                 no more than average, making it a can-do-without for
                                                                 someone who wants performance.

                                                                 Company Transtek Infoways Pvt Ltd
                                                                 Price Rs 2,400
                                                                 Phone 0250-3950072
                                                                 E-mail amit@ttek.in
                                                                 Web site www.geniusnet.com.tw       Rating

                                                                                                                                JULY 2006 DIGIT     77
     CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X3
     A Formidable Design Tool                                                  do with the tool

     S   eventeen years after the first one, Corel breaks away from
         its earlier naming convention (version 13 unlucky,
     perhaps?) to release the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X3. The
                                                                               you’ve currently got
                                                                               selected—a boon for
                                                                               new users.
     box pack contains four CDs—one containing the program                         Photo-Paint has
                                            files for CorelDRAW, Corel         improved on
                                             Photo-Paint and Corel             performance, and
                                              Capture, and the                 we found it capable
                                              remaining three full to          of handling
                                               the brim with clipart           complex files           The Smart Fill tool easily
                                                and fonts.                     without any             fills up enclosed areas.
                                                      Time and again,          stability issues.       Here, we just made a
                                                  CorelDRAW has                When we decided to rough boundary with
                                                  wowed us with its vast       verify the claims       squares and used the
                                                                                                       Smart Fill for the middle.
                                                   array of abilities and      that Photo-Paint is
                                                    all within a small         actually faster than
                                                     memory footprint—         Adobe Photoshop in some respects, we
                                                      both DRAW and            were quite amazed—applying a Radial Blur
                                                       Photo-Paint are         (Amount: 10) to a 66 MB, 300 dpi TIFF file
                                                        beautifully stable     took Photoshop CS2 4 minutes and 17                The Hints pane makes
                                                        and light on           seconds, and Photo-Paint a jaw-dropping 1          the new X3 Suite much
                                                         resources.            minute and 45 seconds! Its memory                  easier to learn
                                                              Among the        footprint is also much smaller with the
                                                          best new             image loaded: 104 MB to Photoshop’s 167. Factor in the fact
                                                           additions to        that the price of the entire suite is about two-thirds that of
                                                            CorelDRAW X3       Photoshop, you have a product that inches ever so close to
                                                           is the Crop tool,   the Master itself.
                                                        which lets you             The third application—Corel Capture—seems like a
                                                   crop vector graphics        gratuitous addition. It’s utterly pointless, especially when
                                              the same way you would           you consider other screen capture tools such as SnagIt and
                                           raster—just select the area         HyperSnap. Ditto Font Navigator, which still seems to be
                                       you want to keep, and double-           stuck in the stone age of font managers.
                                   click! No more hunting and                      Overall, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X3 is an undoubted
                                deleting specific points on the                must for old and new users alike. It’s lightweight and yet
                            curves. Another nifty tool is the Smart            delivers features that will give your graphics a slick,
     Fill, which automatically estimates boundaries and only fills             professional look.
     the space inside. We tried this by drawing a bunch of                         Try out CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X3 from this month’s DVD.
     squares to create a haphazard boundary, and the Smart Fill
     filled the enclosed area precisely. Text and paragraph
     formatting is a breeze thanks to new DTP features, bringing
     CorelDRAW another step closer to becoming an excellent
     page layout program. In fact, the supplied font and clipart
     catalogue was laid out in CorelDRAW itself!
                                                                Corel Trace,
                                                            the tool for
                                                            raster graphics
                                                            to vector in
                                                            CorelDRAW, is
                                                            now Corel
                                                            and gives
                                                            much better
                                                            results when
                                                            tracing            Now trace bitmaps better with PowerTrace
                       Now crop vector graphics just like       Both
                       bitmaps                              CorelDRAW          Company Sonata Information Technology Limited
                                                            and Corel          Price Rs 20,475 (full), Rs 10,200 (upgrade)
                       Photo-Paint are now much easier to learn                Phone 080-26575800
                       thanks to the addition of a Hints pane on the           E-mail rajeev.nagar@corel.com
                       right of the window, which tells you what to            Web site www.corel.com                  Rating

78   DIGIT JULY 2006
                                                                                                          and you’ll need to use your Gmail
                                                                                                          username and password. From then on
                                                                                                          until you sign out, Google remembers
                                                                                                          what you searched for and what you
                                                                                                          clicked, making it possible to give you
                                                                                                          more accurate, personalised results.
                                                                                                              Some may be paranoid about Google
                                                                                                          knowing so much about you, but in
                                                                                                          some peoples’ opinion, “Who cares what
                                                                                                          a server in California or somewhere
                                                                                                          knows about me?” It’s your choice…

                                                                                                               Forget The Dictionaries
                                                                                                                Google can replace several other
                                                                                                          kinds of searches. If you want to know
                                                                                                          what the time in New York is just now,
                                                                                                          just type in “New York time”! Similarly,
                                                                                                          if you need to know the difference in
                                                                                                          usage (or use?) between the words
                          SECRETS THAT KEEP YOU AHEAD IN THE RACE                                         “usage” and “use,” you don’t need to go
                                                                                                          to an online thesaurus or dictionary.
          GENERAL TIPS                                     30 MINUTES EXPERT                              Simply type in “use usage” into Google,
          Search                                  79       Google SketchUp              82
                                                                                                          and you’ll get results directly from
          MS Outlook XP                           80       Make Active Desktop Useful   84
                                                                                                          dictionaries and thesauri! Note that in
          MS Word XP                              81
          MS Excel XP                             85                                                      this particular example, Google does
                                                                                                          the job for you, but Yahoo! doesn’t. MSN
                                                                                                          brings up the required result second,
                                                            filtering.” The Google preferences link       which is quite nearly there.
SEARCH                                                      is to the right of the search bar on
                                                            www.google.com.                                    Force Keywords
                                                                                                                Not all words in a search string
                                                                  Excluding Unwanted Results #1           come up in search results. You’ll
                                                                  The “-” (minus) sign is used to         sometimes find that somewhere down
                                                            exclude certain words from your search. If    in the results, there are pages which
                                                            you want to search for information about      don’t contain one or more of your
                                                            5.1 speaker sets, you’ll probably get a lot   search terms at all! This is especially
                                                            of results that speak about other speaker     true for searches with many keywords.
                                                            configurations. Instead of “5.1 speakers”,    It suffices to say that it’s Google’s way
                                                            try “5.1 speakers -2.1 -4.1 -6.1 -7.1”.       of giving you the most relevant results.
                                                                                                          To force a certain keyword or keyphrase
                                                                  The Use Of Quotes                       to be included in the search, use the “+”
                                                                  Use quotes as often as possible for     sign. For example, typing in “favourite
                                                            the most relevant results, and for your       example hardware sata mouse”
                                                            desired results to appear as high up in       (without the quotes) will bring up some
                                                            the list as possible. For example, if you     results without one or more of those
                                                            want to know who the Time Man of the          words. If you need the word “example”
                                                            Year for 1990 was, it’s better to type in     (which is a common word, so Google
                    Illustrations Harsho Mohan Chattoraj
                                                            “time’s man of the year” with the             might leave it out), type “favourite
                                                            quotes, followed by “1990” (with or           +example sata hardware mouse”.
     Use A Toolbar                                          without the quotes), rather than just
      Don’t bother going to Google’s                        “time’s man of the year 1990” without              Excluding Unwanted Results #2
homepage by typing in                                       any quotes. Check it out!                           To exclude irrelevant results, try
www.google.com every time you want                                                                        using extra keywords. For example, if
to search. Don’t even set your                                    Using The “Cached” Feature              you want information on various fruits,
homepage to Google—it takes up a                                  If a result link is taking too long     such as apples, grapes and mangoes, you
couple of seconds, which add up! Use                        to open, and the information you need         might key in these words into, say,
the Google toolbar—it comes inbuilt in                      doesn’t relate to time (as in news            Yahoo! You’ll see results that include lots
Firefox and Opera, and for Internet                         items), use the “cached” link (if there is    and lots of fruits. Take a few of those
Explorer, head to toolbar.google.com                        one) after the result. This will almost       from the first couple of results and
for the small download. For the Yahoo!                      certainly load, since Google and Yahoo!       exclude them using a minus sign.
search toolbar, visit toolbar.yahoo.com.                    are almost never down!                            For example, “apples grapes
                                                                                                          mangoes” (without the quotes) brings up
     Filtering Search Results                                     Personalised Search                     84,000 results on Yahoo, with lots of
     Google and Yahoo! don’t have                                If you want your search results to       irrelevant fruits mentioned. Now, type in
parental controls, but you can control                      become more and more relevant over            “apples grapes mangoes -bananas -pears -
what you yourself are exposed to! If you                    time, and if you don’t mind Google            plums -lemons -oranges -pineapples”.
don’t want obscene images turning up                        knowing a lot about you, sign in before       Voila—just 1,100 results! Of course, this is
in an image search, for example, set                        you search. The sign-in link is at the top    just an example of how you can
your Google preferences to “Use strict                      right corner of the Google homepage,          drastically trim down your results.

                                                                                                                                       DIGIT JULY 2006   79
     Digital Tools l Tips & Tricks
           Ready Info                                                                            blank rule”. Click “Check messages
           Google has some hidden gems.            MICROSOFT                                     when they arrive”, and click Next.
     One amongst these is information
     about people, countries and such. For
                                                   OUTLOOK XP                                         In the “Which condition(s) do you
                                                                                                 want to check?” box, check the “On this
     example, if you need to know when                                                           machine only” box. Click Next. Then, in
     Mozart was born, just type in “Mozart                                                       the “What do you want to do with the
     born” (without the quotes), and Google                                                      message” box, click “Move it to the
     will give you the required date of birth.                                                   specified folder”. In the “Rule
                                                                                                 description” box, click Specified. Then
           Quick Definitions                                                                     click the folder you created—”unknown”—
           A very useful function in Google                                                      and click OK, then Next.
     is the “define” command. If you want                                                            Under “Add any exceptions”, check
     to quickly know what SATA is, simply                                                        the “Except if sender is in specified
     type in “define:sata”.                                                                      Address Book” box. In the “Rule
                                                                                                 description” box, click Specified. In the
           Searching Within Sites                                                                “Add Address List” dialog box, choose
           Some sites have a Google search                                                       “Outlook Address Book”, click Add,
     on their homepage, from where you                                                           then click Next. Type in a name for
     can search for stuff within that site.                                                      your rule, click Finish, then OK.
     You don’t need to go to the site to get
     that functionality. Simply add                                                                   Recurring Reminders
     “site:www.examplesite.com” to your                                                                Say you want to add recurring
     search terms, and you’ll get results                                                        tasks or reminders to your Outlook
     only from www.examplesite.com. You                                                          calendar. These might be things like
     can also specify domains, such as .edu                                                      “Order pizza.” For this, open the
     this way: “admissions scholarship                                                           Calendar in Outlook. From the menu,
     site:edu”.                                    which usually indicate those with             select Actions > New Recurring
                                                   attachments. You can make up and              Appointment. In “Appointment Time”
           Related Sites                           then save such a search.                      in the dialog box, select a Start Time.
           You’ve probably seen the “related”          Go to Tools, click Advanced Find,         Select the same time for the End Time—
     link after page results in Google. Again,     and then click the More Choices tab. In       this is so that Outlook will not block
     you can directly get sites related to a       the “Look for” box, click Messages.           the time on your calendar. Make sure
     certain sites by typing in something          Then in the Size list, click greater than,    “0 Minutes” is displayed under
     like “related:www.examplesite.com”.           and then type a number such as 1024,          Duration. Input your desired options
                                                   for files that are 1 MB or larger in size.    under “Recurrence Pattern” and “Range
           Bring Up Only Certain                   Select any other search options you           of Recurrence”. Click OK, then type in a
           Filetypes                               want, then click Find Now.                    name for the reminder in the Subject
     If you want results of a certain file type,       When the search is complete, you can      box of the Appointment Screen. Click
     such as PDF, you can use “filetype:pdf”       save it as a shortcut: click Save Search on   Save and Close.
     before your search query. This will           the File menu of the Advanced Find
     return only PDFs. Of course, you can          dialog box, and just save it anywhere. The         Quickly Setting Up A
     use this for any file type, including         next time you want to conduct the same             Reminder
     MP3, XLS, or anything you want.               search, double-click this shortcut.           If you don’t have the time to respond to
                                                                                                 an e-mail just when you receive it, you
           Putting Document Titles To Use               Skip Unknown Mail Senders                might want to add it to your calendar
           “allintitle” searches for pages that          If you know that only certain           so that you can be reminded to reply to
     have all your search words in the title       people are going to send you mail on a
     of a Web page. So if you want sites that      certain e-mail address, you might want
     have “microsoft” and “knowledge” in           to skip messages that come from                    Bet You Didn’t Know
     the title, type in “allintitle: microsoft     people other than these. You can               Flagging Contacts
     knowledge” with a space between the           specify rules to relocate messages from        If you’ve been using Outlook, you know
     “allintitle” and “microsoft”.                 those not on your “trusted” list to a          that you can flag e-mail messages for
                                                   separate folder, called, say, “unknown.”       follow-up. But did you know that you can
           Searching By URL                        This also helps in avoiding spam.              also flag contacts? Once you’ve flagged a
          You can also search for terms that       Besides, you’ll get only your most-            contact, you will receive a reminder to take
     occur in the URLs of documents. For           needed mails in your Inbox, and you            the action you specify.
     example, if you want to find the word         can browse through the files in your           To flag a contact, open your Contacts folder
     “mac” in sites that have “apple” in the       “unknown” folder.                              and right-click on the contact you want to
     URL, where “mac” might or might not               First, you’ll need to create a new         flag. Select Follow Up from the drop-down
     be in the URL, use this: “inurl:apple         folder in your Inbox. This will be that        menu. Select the desired action, date and
     mac”. The word “apple” will then be in        “unknown” folder. In the Folder List,          time, and click OK. This is the date and
     the URL. Note that there should be no         right-click Inbox and click New Folder.        time when you will receive the reminder.
     space between “inurl” and “apple”.            Type in the folder name, say                   At that specified appropriate time, a
                                                   “unknown”, and click OK. If your               reminder window will pop up to remind
           Saving Searches in Outlook              Folder List is not visible, click Folder       you that you need to take an action with
          You can create search files in           List under View. Now, you’ll need to           this contact. Click Open in the Reminder
                                                                                                  box, and the Contact’s information (e-
     Outlook, executing which will conduct         create a new rule using the Rules
                                                                                                  mail address, phone number, and more)
     the search. For example, say you              Wizard: go to Tools > Rule Wizard.
                                                                                                  will be displayed.
     frequently search for very large files,       Click New, then click “Start from a

80   DIGIT JULY 2006
                                                                                                Digital Tools l Tips & Tricks
it later.                                       In the “Select Available Fields                Delete The Fonts
     Drag the message from your Inbox to    From” box, make sure “All Mail Fields”             MRU List
the Calendar icon on the Shortcut Bar.      is selected. Select “Receipt Requested”       Word maintains a list of most recently
Outlook will create an appointment that     from the “Available Fields” box. Click        used fonts, which appear at the top
includes the text of the message. Make      Add to add it to the list of fields that      when you click the fonts drop-down.
sure the start time and other details are   display in your Inbox. Keep clicking OK       You’d like to modify the list, wouldn’t
entered, and also make sure the             until all dialog boxes go away.               you? But you can’t! However, you can
Reminder box is checked.                                                                  turn it off completely using the
                                                 Setting Up An Auto-Mailer                Registry Editor, which you might want
     Saturdays And Sundays                        Say you use Outlook only while          to do in a number of situations—for
      By default, Outlook combines          you’re in office. If you plan on being        example, if you’ve just experimented
Saturday and Sunday into one column in      out of the office for a while, you can        with a lot of fonts, and all of them
the month view of the Outlook Calendar.     configure the Out of Office Assistant to      keep appearing.
Of course, this is customisable: you can    automatically respond to any e-mail               Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\
change it to make it show a separate        you receive while you’re away.                Software\Microsoft\Office\10.0\Word
column for the two days.                        From the Inbox menu, select Tools         \Options. (The “10.0” becomes “11.0” if
    So where’s the command? Right-          > Out of Office Assistant. Complete the       you’re using Word 2003.) Choose Edit >
click anywhere on the Calendar and          dialog box and click OK. Outlook will         New > String Value, and call it
select Other Settings. Remove the           send the response you’ve indicated for        NoFontMRUList. Press Enter. Now with
checkmark from the option that says         as long as “I am currently out of the         the NoFontMRUList string value
Compress Weekend Days.                      office” is selected. When you return,         selected, choose Edit > Modify. In the
                                            follow the same path as above and             Value Data box, type in “1”. Click OK
     Minimise Outlook To The                click “I am in the Office” to deactivate      and exit the Registry Editor. You can,
     System Tray!                           the Out Of Office Assistant.                  of course, change the setting back by
You might want to make Outlook                                                            changing the value to “0”.
go and sit in the System Tray
when you minimise it. Here’s how
to make it do this: open the
Registry Editor. (Remember to
make a backup first.) Navigate to
Preferences. Add a new DWORD
value called “MinToTray”. Assign
it a value of “1”.

     Attachments Taking
     Long To Open?
                                              Pinacle Ad
Some folks might experience
this problem: when you double-
click an attachment, the
computer seems to hang,
although the attachment
eventually opens. There is a way
to rectify this. When you double-click      MICROSOFT                                     Turn off that MRU Font List
on the attachment, the familiar dialog
box is displayed, asking you whether
                                            WORD XP
you wish to open the attachment or                                                              Paste Quickly
save it to disk. Beneath that is a box                                                          Not too many folks use the
that says “Always ask before opening             Emphasising Text                         [Insert] key to switch between insert
this type of file…”. This box is checked          To give your text some kind of          and overwrite mode. You can turn the
by default. Uncheck the box. Opening        emphasis, highlight the text, right-click,    [Insert] key as a shortcut for pasting.
future attachments could be                 and select Font. When the Font dialog         Go to Tools > Options. In the dialog box
significantly faster.                       box appears, select Text Effects. A list of   that appears, click the Edit tab. Check
                                            effects will appear such as Shimmer,          “Use the INS Key for Paste” and close
     The Intrusive Read Receipt             Blinking Background, and more. Select         the dialog box. Now whenever you press
      Read Receipts can be irritating.      your desired effect. You can see how it       [Insert], the contents of the clipboard
For example, it could seem rude if          will look in the Preview area. Press OK       will be pasted into the document.
someone asks for a Read Receipt and         to close the dialog box.
you don’t send one. At the same time, if                                                       Save All And Close All
you do send one, it will indicate what                                                         If you’re working on several
time you opened the message—an                    Bet You Didn’t Know                     documents at once, you may want to
invasion on your privacy!                                                                 save or close all the documents
                                             Quick Messaging
You can choose to mark which                                                              without closing Word. To do so, hold
                                             To quickly create a new mail message to an
incoming messages have Read Receipts         Outlook contact, drag the contact to the     down the [Shift] key and click the File
attached: set your Inbox to display that     Inbox on your Outlook Folder List. Of        menu. The Save option will become
field. At the Inbox menu, select View >      course, the contact must have an e-mail      “Save All”, and the “Close” option will
Current View > Customize Current             address associated.                          become “Close All”.
View. Click the Fields button.

                                                                                                                        DIGIT JULY 2006   81
     Digital Tools l Tips & Tricks

                          Building Homes In Google SketchUp
                          Free 3D design tools have never been this easy to use

                                                          More Complex Building               use the Push Tool to push it to where
      Nimish Chandiramani                                You can now draw rectangles          you want it. Now click on the next leg,
                                                         (or circles (shortcut: [C]), for     and hover the mouse cursor at the

      T   hey did it again, minus the
          “oops.” Google’s SketchUp will go
      down as yet another of Google’s
                                                 that matter) on the surface of the box
                                                 you just made. To be absolutely sure
                                                 you’re drawing on the surface, just
                                                                                              bottom of the first. The new leg will
                                                                                              automatically extend to that height.
                                                                                              Lather, rinse, repeat!
      victories, this time in the world of 3D    hover the cursor where you’re
      modelling. You will find SketchUp on       drawing, until a tool tip tells you
      the June 2006 CD. Here’s the dirt you      where you’re drawing. And once you
      need to get cracking at creating your      draw these rectangles, you can use
      own monument.                              the Push Tool again to create
                                                 protrusions and dents.
                Getting Around Quickly
               When you start SketchUp, all
               you will see is a 2D human
      figure. To move around the centre of
      the scene (called orbiting), hold down                                                  Hover the mouse cursor to make the
      the middle mouse button and drag                                                        heights match
      the mouse. To move from side to side
      (called panning), hold down [Shift] as
      well. Alternatively, you could press [O]                                                        Cutting Holes In Objects
      to select the Orbit Tool and use the                                                            To cut holes into your models,
      left mouse click, and hold down [Shift]                                                         first draw a shape on the
      when you want to pan.                      Use the Rectangle and Push Tools to create   surface of the model. Now use the
                                                 more complex structures                      Push Tool (shortcut: [P]) and push this
                                                                                              shape towards the surface at the other
                                                                                              end. When the two surfaces meet, let
                                                          Real-World Dimensions               go of the mouse button. Peek-a-boo!
                                                         SketchUp is meant for                    To prevent unnecessary
                                                         building houses, right? So           confusion, turn on the X-Ray display
                                                 where does the ever-important                mode: select View > X-Ray. To make
                                                 “accurate to scale” part come in?            sure the surfaces intersect properly,
                                                 Hidden in the bottom-right corner,           use the method described in Step 5.
                                                 you will see a little box that contains
                                                 the dimensions of the figure you’re          1                     2
                                                 drawing. If you’ve just drawn a new
       The default start-up screen               rectangle, just key in the dimensions
                                                 you want—if you wanted 12 feet by 15
                Start Building!                  feet, you’d type “12’, 15’”. You can
              To lay the first block (which      also use other units—“m” for metres,
              you will then manipulate to        “in” for inches and so on. This applies      1. First draw the hole and push…
      turn into a house), first select the       no matter which tool you’re using.           2. …then marvel at your handiwork
      Rectangle Tool (shortcut: [R]) and
      draw the rectangle as shown in the
      screenshot alongside. Then use the                                                              Grouping Objects
      Push Tool (shortcut: [P]) to give it                                                             Once you’re done poking
      some depth.                                                                                      holes and making random
                                                                                              protrusions on objects, it’s a wise idea
                                                                                              to group them to prevent any
                                                                                              accidental editing. Hit the spacebar to
                                                 The little dimension box that nobody sees    switch to the Selection Tool, and draw
                                                                                              a selection box around the object to
                                                                                              select all its edges and surfaces. Now
                                                          All Are Equal                       right-click on it and choose “Make
                                                         If you’re modelling something        Component”. Give it a name, and now
                                                         like a platform, chair or table,     you can’t accidentally edit this object.
                                                 you will obviously need to have legs of      To edit it, double-click on the
                                                 equal height. One way to do this is by       component with the Selection Tool—
                                                 using dimensions as above. However,          you can now edit it while the rest of
                                                 you can also use the following simple        the objects in your scene fade out.
       draw the rectangle, then push!]           method: start with the first leg and             nimish_chandiramani@thinkdigit.com

82   DIGIT JULY 2006
                                                                                              Digital Tools l Tips & Tricks
     Using The Mouse More                    When the Customize dialog box              Table Options dialog box, then click OK
     Effectively                             appears, choose Options and check          to close the Table Properties dialog box.
To select a line of text or a paragraph,     Large Icons. The toolbar icons will
you probably move the mouse pointer          instantly get big!                              Track Changes Options
over the entire line or paragraph you                                                         If you use the Track Changes
want to select while keeping the left                                                   feature in Word, added text is shown in
mouse button held down. There’s a                                                       a different color, and deleted text is
much easier way to do this, which works                                                 shown with a strikethrough. You may
with many different software.                                                           want to change how Word shows your
Move the mouse pointer to the left of                                                   changed text. To make your
the line or paragraph until the cursor       Get bigger icons for Word                  configuration changes, first go to Tools
changes from the “I” looking stick to                                                   > Options. Word will display the
the standard arrow cursor. Click once to                                                Options dialog box. Select the Track
select the current line of text, twice to          Adjusting Column Width               Changes tab. Using the controls in the
select the current paragraph, or three             If you have a table in your          dialog box, indicate how you want your
times to select the entire document.         document, you may find that your           changes to appear when you have Track
                                             overall table width is the way you want    Changes turned on. Click OK.
     Sorting Names                           it, but the columns within the table       The following are some of the options
      Say you have a list of                                                            available:
names in a document, and                                                                    *Track Changes Options: Here you
need to sort them. You can                                                              specify how you want text insertions to
accomplish this task using                                                              appear. They normally appear as
tables, but if you don’t want to                                                        underlined text in a different colour,
mess with tables, here’s the                                                            but you can instruct Word to use
alternative approach.                                                                   different types of formatting for the
    First make sure the names                                                           text you add to the document.
in your document are arranged                                                               *Balloons: The controls in this area
so there is only one person per
paragraph. Select all the
paragraphs that contain
                                               Pinacle Ad                               allow you to specify if Word should use
                                                                                        change balloons. These balloons appear
                                                                                        at the right side of a document and
names. Choose the Sort option                                                           indicate the changes made at different
from the Table menu. Word                                                               points.
displays the Sort Text dialog                                                               *Changed Lines: This setting is used
box. Click Options. Word                                                                to specify how any lines that contain
displays the Sort Options                                                               changes should be noted. Normally,
dialog box. Select Other.                                                               Word adds a vertical bar to the outside
    Erase the contents of the                                                           border of the line.
box to the right of Other,
replacing it with a single
space. Word will now know that you           are not just right. As an example, you
want to consider spaces as the dividing      may want the columns to be the same
point between the sort fields. Click OK      width as each other—this without
to close the Sort Options dialog box.        disturbing the overall width of the
Then, use the Sort By drop-down lists to     table. To achieve this, select the table
specify the word by which you want to        and then choose Table > AutoFit >
sort. For instance, if you want to sort by   Distribute Columns Evenly. Done!
last name—which is the word after the
first space—you should choose “Word                Freeze Tables
2” in the Sort By drop-down list. Click             If you don’t want your table to
OK, and your names will be sorted.           readjust itself to fit whatever you put
                                             in it, Word allows you to freeze a
     Table-To-Text                           table’s layout. For instance, you might
      There will be many occasions           want the cells to be a certain size, and
when you want to convert a table to          never change even when you place a         Use the “Track Changes” feature in Word to
text. To do this, first select the entire    large amount of data in the cell. The      track changes in your documents
table. Choose Convert from the Table         first step is to adjust the column width
menu, then chose Table to Text from          so that the columns in your table are
the resulting sub-menu. Word displays        the way you want them. Then, choose             Deleting Pages In A Document
the Convert Table to Text dialog box.        Table Properties from the Table menu.            If you need a quick way to delete a
Select an appropriate character for          Word displays the Table Properties         page in your document, you can use the
Word to use to separate the columns of       dialog box. Make sure the Row tab is       following macro:
text. Click OK.                              selected. Select the Specify Height        Sub Delete_Page()
                                             checkbox, and enter a height for the       ActiveDocument.Bookmarks(“\Page”).Ra
     Large Icons In Word                     rows. Use the “Row Height Is” drop-        nge.Delete
      The icons in the Word toolbar—         down to choose Exactly. Now, go to the     End Sub
such as the disk icon for Save—may be        Table tab. Click Options. Word will            Assign the macro to a toolbar
too small for you, or perhaps you just       display the Table Options dialog box.      button or a shortcut key (we’re
like large icons. You can make them          Clear the “Automatically Resize to Fit     assuming you know how to do so), and
bigger. Under Tools, click Customize.        Contents” box. Click OK to close the       you can easily delete the current page,

                                                                                                                      DIGIT JULY 2006   83
     Digital Tools l Tips & Tricks

                             Use Windows XP’s Active Desktop
                           Did you even know your Desktop can ably act as a window to the Web? That “Active
                           Desktop” means just that? Here’s how to get your Desktop to go beyond icons
                                                                                               window. Click Properties, then on the
      Jayesh Limaye                                          Create A Web Item                 Schedule tab. Here, select “Using the
                                                             Click the New button. In the      following schedule”. Click Add.

      H    ow can you make your Windows
           desktop more useful—for
      example, have it deliver the news?
                                                             New Active Item box, enter the
                                                    URL http://www.itools.com in the
                                                    Location dialog box. Click OK. This new
                                                                                                        Make A New Schedule
                                                                                                       In the New Schedule box, type
      Well, via a generally neglected (and          Active Item will now begin to                      in the fields to change the
      discarded!) Desktop feature called            synchronise itself with the Web, which     default schedule. Once you’re done
      Active Desktop, which has been                will take a few seconds to complete—do     with the scheduling, click OK thrice.
      around since Windows 98. At that              not interrupt the process. Click OK        Both your Active Items will be
      time, it was (rightly) blamed for             twice, and the Active Item will be         displayed on the Desktop with their
      consuming system resources and was            visible on your Desktop.                   current contents.
      irritating, so folks just turned it off.
      But as we will see here, the Active
      Desktop is surprisingly useful, and
      can be used to deliver Web content to
      your Desktop even on dial-up.
          We’ve chosen two useful sites for
      the purpose of this exercise. The first is
      www.itools.com, a site that not only
      allows you to search the Net right from
      your Desktop, but also lets you query
      online dictionaries, translate text, and
      search for news stories. The second is
      http://news.bbc.co.uk, one of the best        Open the Web tab in Desktop Items          Schedule the Synchronisation
      news portals around. Get ready for a
                                                             Lather, Rinse, Repeat                      Moving Them Around
                Turn It On                                   Repeat step 3 for                         Active Web Items are quite
              By default, Active Desktop is                  http://news.bbc.co.uk, and let            like regular windows. You can
              always on in Windows XP.              the synchronisation happen. Since          resize them by dragging the borders.
      Turn it on if it is off. To do this, right-   this is a news site, schedule it to        You can move the entire window by
      click anywhere on the Desktop,                update after a certain interval of time.   placing your cursor near the top
      mouse over to Arrange Icons By, and           Click on the item called                   border, after which a title bar will
      click Show Desktop Icons.                     http://news.bbc.co.uk in the Web Pages     appear: click on the title bar, drag the
                                                                                               window, and place it wherever you
                                                                                               like on the Desktop.

      Turn on Active Desktop if it is off

                Open Desktop Properties                                                        Your Active Desktop
              Right-click anywhere on the
              Desktop and select                                                                        Endnote
      Properties. This will open the                                                                  You can, of course, place as many
      Display Properties dialog box. Click                                                            Web Items on your Desktop as
      the Desktop tab and the Desktop                                                          you want, but remember that they do
      Items window opens. Here, click on                                                       consume some memory. If you’re low on
      the Web tab and set the Web items                                                        RAM, don’t create too many.
      you wish to display on your Active                                                          Interesting Desktop, eh?
      Desktop.                                      The web contents get synchronised                      jayesh_limaye@thinkdigit.com

84   DIGIT JULY 2006
                                                                                              Digital Tools l Tips & Tricks
the one in which the insertion point is    formula, by pressing [Ctrl] + [Shift] +      name is actually used in doing the
located. The macro bases its               [Enter]. If the list contains blank cells,   calculation. Since the formula uses
determination of a page on the current     then the formula becomes a bit more          only relative references since you got
pagination of the document, which is       complex. The following long array            rid of the dollar signs, it is always
affected by the printer driver you’re      formula will work if there are blanks:       relative to where you use the name in
using and, of course, the formatting       =SUM(IF(FREQUENCY(IF(LEN(Countries)          the worksheet.
characteristics of the document.           >0,MATCH(Countries,Countries,0),””),
                                           IF(LEN(Countries)>0,MATCH(Countries,               Formulas And Values
                                           Countries,0),””))>0,1))                             Excel normally displays the results
                                                                                        of your formulas, but you can also force
MICROSOFT                                       Assigning Names To Formulas             it to display the formulas themselves. If
EXCEL XP                                         Once created, formulas are
                                           valuable, and you may need to use them
                                                                                        you’re like most people, you choose Tools
                                                                                        > Options, then on the View tab, make
                                           over and over again. Unfortunately,          sure the Formulas checkbox is selected.
                                           Excel has no way to paste commonly-          A much faster way to get the same result
     Blank And Non-Blank Cells             used formulas. But there’s something         is to press [Ctrl] + [`]. The second key is
      Figuring out the number of non-      you can do to make your formulas more        the one to the left of [1]. The shortcut is
blank cells in a range is not entirely     accessible: assign names to your             a toggle, which means you can press it
straightforward. The COUNTBLANK            formulas in the following manner.            repeatedly to switch between the display
function returns the number of blank          Enter your formula. Select the cell       of formulas and results.
cells in a range, but what if you want     containing the formula and press [F2].
to count the number of non-blank cells     This brings Excel to Edit mode. Hold               Using the TEXT function
in the same range? One way is to                                                             Say you want a description for
use the COUNTA function:                                                                your data. One approach is to put the
=COUNTA(B1:B13)                                                                         description near the cell containing
     The problem with this                                                              the data—for instance, a numeric value
formula is that it doesn’t return                                                       could go in cell B1, and the unit
the complementary value to what                                                         description in cell C1.
COUNTBLANK returns. In other
words, the result of COUNTA
added to the result of
COUNTBLANK doesn’t equal the
total number of cells in the
original range. The reason for this
                                            Pinacle Ad
is that both COUNTBLANK and
COUNTA treat formulas
differently. COUNTBLANK
includes, as blank, formulas that                                                       Use the TEXT function in Excel
return a blank value. COUNTA
does not consider such cells                                                            Another approach is to put the
blank (even though a blank is                                                           description text and the numeric value
returned), so it includes them in                                                       together. Creating text strings does
its count. If you consider non-                                                         this. So to display “2 + 2 is 4”, you’d use
blank cells to be those that are not       down [Shift] as you use the cursor           =”2 + 2 is “ & 2+2
returned by COUNTBLANK, you will need      control keys to select the entire                 The disadvantage of this approach
to use this formula:                       formula, including the equals sign at        is that formatting the value takes more
=(ROWS(B1:B13)*COLUMNS(B1:B13))-           its beginning. Press [Ctrl] + [C]. Then      effort; since the result is a text string,
COUNTBLANK(B1:B13)                         press [Esc] to get out of edit mode. The     numeric cell formatting does not apply.
     This subtracts the COUNTBLANK         cell with the formula is still selected.     For example, considering the above
result from the total number of cells in       Choose Name from the Insert              formula, say you need to display two
the same range.                            menu, then choose Define. Excel              decimal places. You might select
                                           displays the Define Name dialog box. In      Format > Cell > Number tab and then
     Counting Unique Values                the Names in Workbook box, enter the         choose a Number format that has two
      Excel provides several different     name you want assigned to the                decimal places, but the results would
ways in which you can count unique         formula. Select whatever is in the           not change. (The result of the formula
values in a long list. Say you have a      Refers To box at the bottom of the           is text, not a number.)
worksheet in which there is a list of      dialog box, and press [Ctrl] + [V]. The           To affect the value formatting, use
first names, in cells A1:A100, which can   cell reference is replaced with the          the TEXT function. To force the above
contain duplicates. Say you need to        formula on the Clipboard.                    results to display the value to two
determine the number of unique names           You need to make sure there are no       decimal places, use the following
in the list. First define a named range    dollar signs in the formula. If there are,   formula.
that represents the list of first names.   select and delete them. This method of       =”2 + 2 is “ & TEXT(2+2, “0.00”)
In the following examples, we assume       using formulas, therefore, does not          Here’s an example that displays “Today
that the range is named FirstName. If      work well with absolute references.          is” along with the current date. Enter
the list contains only text entries and        Now, whenever you want to use the        the following formula:
no blank cells, the following will         formula, you simply enter an equal           =”Today is “ & TEXT(NOW(),”dddd,
provide a count:                           sign and the name you gave to the            mmm dd, yyyy”)
=SUM(1/COUNTIF(FirstName,FirstName))       formula. Even though the name shows               The quotation marks are important,
    This should be entered as an array     in the cell, the formula assigned to the     since you’re constructing a text string.

                                                                                                                         DIGIT JULY 2006   85
     Digital Tools l Tips & Tricks
           Finding The Smallest Or                   The result is that Excel combines the         make sure you have the Analysis
           Largest Values                            values from the specified cells and           ToolPak installed. The SMALL function
     There may be times when you need to             places spaces between them. The               is a part of the Analysis ToolPak.
     derive the smallest or largest value            ampersand character (&) is used to            Choose the Add-Ins option from the
     from a range, unless the smallest or            indicate that Excel should add text           Tools menu and make sure there’s a
     largest value is zero. For instance, you        together to create a new text value.          checkmark next to the Analysis
     might have a range of values such as                                                          ToolPak option.
     {0, 3, 1, 4, 2}; in this case, the lowest            More Useful Averages
     value is zero, but the value you want                The average value for a set is in             What Is Excel Doing?
     returned is 1. There is no intrinsic            many cases determined by removing                   It’s often frustrating to figure out
     function within Excel to return such a          the highest and the lowest scores and         exactly how Excel arrives at a
     value. However, you can use a formula           then averaging the rest. You may need         particular result, particularly if the
     that will do the trick. Assuming that           to do similar types of averages. To           formula is complex. But Excel provides
     the range of values you want to                 perform this type of averaging, you can       a tool you can use to help figure out
     analyze are in A4:A8, the following             use the SMALL function. Consider the          what is going on when it evaluates a
     formula will return the lowest non-             following formula, which assumes you          formula. To access this tool, select the
     zero value:                                     want to find an adjusted average of the       cell containing the formula you want
                                                     range A10:A14:                                to evaluate. Choose Formula Auditing
     =IF(MIN(A4:A8)=0,SMALL(A4:A8,COUNTI                                                           from the Tools menu. Excel displays a
     F(A4:A8,”=0”)+1),MIN(A4:A8))                    =(SUM(A10:A14)-SMALL(A10:A14,1)-              sub-menu. From the sub-menu, choose
                                                     SMALL(A10:A14,2))/(COUNT(A10:A14)-2)          Evaluate Formula. Excel displays the
         This formula uses the MIN function to                                                     Evaluate Formula dialog box.
     determine if the lowest value in the range          The SMALL function is used to                 At this point, Excel shows the full
     is zero. If it is, then the SMALL function is   determine the two lowest values in the        formula from the cell, and part of it is
     used to derive the lowest value, excluding      range, and these are subtracted from          underlined. This underlined area
     the zeros. The COUNTIF function returns         the overall sum of the range. The             represents the part of the formula that
     the number of zeros in the range, and           resulting value is then divided by the        Excel will next evaluate. This allows you
     therefore tells SMALL which item from           COUNT of values in the range. Note            to see what intermediate steps Excel
     the range to pick.                              that the COUNT value is decreased by 2        follows in arriving at a result. Every
         A small change to the formula               to compensate for the fact that you are       time you click the Evaluate button,
     allows it to be used to return the              ignoring the two lowest values.               Excel replaces the underlined portion
     largest non-zero number in a range:             Another way to calculate the same             of the formula with a result.
                                                     average is to use an array formula:           Nothing you do with the formula
     =IF(MAX(A4:A8)=0,LARGE(A4:A8,COUNTI                                                           evaluator actually affects the formula in
     F(A4:A8,”=0”)+1),MAX(A4:A8))                    =AVERAGE(IF(A10:A14>SMALL(A10:A14,            your worksheet; it remains unchanged.
                                                     2),A10:A14))                                  Instead, Excel simply shows you what
        These formulas will work for any                                                           happens as it works through each part of
     range, unless the range is made up                   Since this is an array formula, you      the formula to arrive at a result.
     entirely of zeros. In that instance, a          need to enter it by pressing [Ctrl] +
     #NUM! error is returned.                        [Shift] + [Enter]. It examines each of the         From CAPS To Sentence Case
                                                     values in the range and only considers               Some people type everything in
           Concatenating Cell Text                   them for use in the average if they are       CAPS, and if you receive a spreadsheet
           It’s easy to combine the contents         larger than the second smallest value in      from one such person, what do you
     of your cells. Say you have a list of last      the array.                                    expect? You can use a macro to select a
     names in column A, a list of first                   While the array formula is shorter       range of cells and convert any
     names in column B, and a list of                than the longer regular formula, there        constants to “proper case.” After you’re
     salutations in column C. If you wanted          is one thing to remember: the array           done, the first letter of each word will
     to derive a full name for these people,         formula will produce an undesired             be uppercase, and the rest will be
     you could use the following formula:            result if there is a two-way tie in the       lowercase. If a cell contains a formula,
                                                     second-lowest value in the range, or a        it is ignored. Here’s the macro.
     =C4 & “ “ & B4 & “ “ & A4                       three-way tie in the lowest value. For
                                                                       instance, if the values     Sub MakeProper()
                                                                       being averaged are 3, 2,    Dim rngSrc As Range
                                                                       10, 3, and 7, then the      Dim lMax As Long, lCtr As Long
                                                                       array formula will          Set rngSrc =
                                                                       produce an average of       ActiveSheet.Range(ActiveWindow.Selec
                                                                       8.5. This is because only   tion.Address)
                                                                       the values 10 and 7 are     lMax = rngSrc.Cells.Count
                                                                       above the second-lowest     For lCtr = 1 To lMax
                                                                       value, and the average      If Not rngSrc.Cells(lCtr).HasFormula
                                                                       of those two is 8.5. If     Then
                                                                       you use the longer          rngSrc.Cells(lCtr) =
                                                                       formula, then the           Application.Proper(rngSrc.Cells(lCtr))
                                                                       average returned is         End If
                                                                       6.666667,                   Next lCtr
                                                                       which is the average of     End Sub
                                                                       10, 3, and 7.
     Concatenate text from different columns and display the result         If these formulas         The “l” in “lCtr” and “lMax” is a
     in another                                                        don’t work, check to        lowercase “L.”

86   DIGIT JULY 2006
                                                                        Read the modem manual and set the appro-
                                                                        priate modem initialisation string and also
                                                                   the country setting. Sometimes, the country
                                                                   setting might not be “India”; you might have to
                                                                   use trial and error to figure the correct country
                                                                   setting. If that doesn’t work, uninstall the drivers
                                                                   and install the latest drivers from the manufac-
                                                                   turer’s Web site. You can also try to lower the
                                                                   baud rate of the modem to, say, 33.6 kbps and
                                                                   then try to connect. If it does connect, there’s
                                                                   surely a noise problem with your telephone line,
                     Your Questions, Our Answers                   and you’ll need to contact your phone company
                                                                   to find a solution. Also try plugging the modem
                                                                   into a different PCI slot.
Multi-Session VCDs?
     I have Nero 6.0.1. Please tell me how I can write
     video files (in VCD format) onto a multi-session
CD, so that I can add video files the next time I write                  When writing files to CD using Windows
to the CD. I want to run the CDs on a VCD player.                        Explorer in XP, the date and time of the files
    Also, when a video file is on the hard drive, a                change to the current date and time. Is there a
certain size is displayed, say 630 MB. But when I                  setting that can prevent this change so that the orig-
add this to Nero for writing in the VCD format, it                 inal values are retained?
shows a much smaller size (like 580 MB). Why?                                                            Dr Kiran K Kalra
                                        Chatendra Dev
                                                                                    When you copy a file to CD, a new
      It is possible to create multi-                                               file is created on the CD, so the
      session VCDs or even DVDs                                                “Created” date and time is set to the
using Nero. The problem is that the                                            current date and time. Bear in mind
VCD created may not be playable on                                             that the “Modified” date and time
your VCD player, since it will not be                                          remain the same as in the original.
compliant to the standards set by                                              This cannot be changed using just XP.
the VCD industry. You will still be                                                You might want to use Nero
able to play it on your computer.                                              Burning ROM for burning CDs: you
    Most standalone VCD players
can read only the first session of a
VCD—the remaining sessions will
                                                      Pinacle Ad               have three options—to retain the
                                                                               original date and time, to set them
                                                                               to the current values, or even to set
remain inaccessible to the player.                                             custom values!
Some new VCD players support
multi-session VCDs, but since you
haven’t specified what VCD player
                                                                               My Music’s Running Away!
you have, you’d do best to burn a                                                   I have an Intel 845GL chipset-based
VCD in a single session.                                                            motherboard with a Celeron 2.4 GHz
    MPEG-1, used in VCDs, provides                                            processor and an AC’97 supported audio
352 x 240 at 30 fps, 15-bit colour, and                                       device. I’m running Windows 98. My prob-
CD-quality sound. So your video files                                         lem is that is the speed of the audio—the
get converted to MPEG-1. If you’re burning, say,                   tempo—is faster than normal. What can I do?
an uncompressed video file, the size may reduce                                                                   Sanjay
to as much as 10 per cent of the original!
Similarly, if you’re burning a DivX movie, it gets                      The problem of audio playback at a higher
upsampled since it’s more compressed than                               tempo is caused if you install the audio driv-
MPEG-1, and you’ll see a larger file size in Nero.                 ers for AC’97 audio devices before you install the
    There are two other things to consider here:                   chipset drivers for your Intel motherboard, or if
first, a VCD is burnt in Mode 2/XA instead of                      you have not installed the chipset drivers at all.
ordinary data mode. This mode has less error                       Download the latest drivers for your audio and
correction than data mode, so some of the space                    motherboard chipset from the manufacturer’s
reserved on the CD for error correction can be                     Web site. We recommend that you download the
used to store data. Second, a larger DAT file on                   latest chipset drivers for your motherboard from
the hard disk appears lower-sized on a VCD                         www.intel.com, which is mentioned as an INF
because some of the data is stored in the sub-                     Update utility. The current version is
channel area of the CD.                                                Uninstall the audio driver you’ve installed.
                                                                   Install the motherboard chipset driver you
                                                                   downloaded. Then install the audio driver, and
Mad At My Modem                                                    your problem should be solved.
    I recently bought a v.92 56.6 kbps Krypton
    internal modem for my AMD Athlon64 3000+
based PC with Windows XP SP2. The modem only
                                                                   An Obscure Error Message
generates noise and never connects, whereas it                         I recently installed Internet Information Server.
works fine on other PCs.                                               The problem is that whenever I click on Default
                                             Abhishek              Web Site, I get the 0x8ffe2740 error. What does this

                                                                                                          DIGIT JULY 2006   91
     error mean, and how can it                                                 DLL for this screen. Continue-8027:6623”. I tried
     be resolved?                                                               uninstalling and re-installing the program but the
                       Nitika Raturi                                            problem persists.
                                                                                                                           Y Thakkar
          This error occurs if a
          port conflict exists on                                                    Do one or more of the following to address
     the system. IIS uses port                                                       this issue:
     80 for communication by                                                    Solution 1: Uninstall fonts using the
     default. If an application                                                 CorelDraw 6.0 font utility if you have installed
     other than IIS is using the                                                CorelDraw 6.0. Use the bundled font utility to
     same port and IP address,                                                  uninstall the fonts it installed. The FontMaster
     and then when you try to                                                   6.0 utility installs fonts incorrectly and causes
     open a Web site using IIS                                                  the issue you’re facing. To remove fonts using
     manager, you get the                                                       FontMaster 6.0:
     above error.                                                               1. Close all applications and start FontMaster by
         The error can be                                                       choosing Start > Programs > Corel Graphics >
     resolved in either of two                                                  Corel FontMaster 6.
     ways. Stop the application                                                 2. Select all the fonts in the “Permanently
     that is using port 80 and                                                  Installed” section of the Corel FontMaster
     then start the Web site                                                    window and choose Edit > Delete. You need not
     using IIS manager. Or, you                                                 delete fonts from the other sections in this
     can change the port bind- Change the port number for the Web site in IIS   dialog box.
     ings for that Web site to a                                                3. Open the Fonts folder by choosing Start >
     port other than 80 in the IIS manager. To do this,                         Settings > Control Panel, and then double-click
     open Internet Services Manager; right-click                                Fonts.
     Default Web Site and view its Properties. On the                           4. Select the fonts that need to be removed and
     Web Site tab, change the TCP port number from                              choose File > Delete.
     80 to a port number of your choice.                                        Solution 2: Temporarily remove TrueType fonts
                                                                                in the Fonts folder until you have a hundred or
                                                                                fewer, and then restart your computer. Don’t
     Driving Sound                                                              remove Windows standard fonts, which are
           I have a Sound Blaster Live! Value sound card. I                     required by various applications. For a list of
           recently installed XP, and it doesn’t have inbuilt                   these fonts, see Additional Information. If
     drivers for the sound. They aren’t there at Creative’s                     PageMaker starts without an error, read the fonts
     site. Where can I find them?                                               a few at a time, starting PageMaker after you add
                                              Anirban Ghosh                     each set of fonts to determine which fonts cause
                                                                                the error, or how many fonts you can have
         The Windows XP/2000 drivers for the Sound                              installed without errors.
         Blaster Live! Value card can be downloaded                             Solution 3: Remove and reinstall PageMaker
     from www.fileshack.com/ file.x?fid=544. It’s a 27                          Aldfont*.fon files:
     MB download.                                                               1. Locate the PageMaker application folder. Open
                                                                                the folder and select each of the Aldfont*.fon
                                                                                files (Aldfonta.fon, Aldfontb.fon, Aldfonte.fon,
     Covering Your Tracks                                                       and Aldfontf.fon), and choose File > Delete.
          Is it possible to clear the Run dialog box                            3. Reinstall the Aldfont*.fon files by performing a
          history?                                                              Custom Install of PageMaker from the installa-
                                               Nishant Joshi                    tion CD (that is, select only PageMaker from the
                                                                                list of items to install). Make sure you install
          Assuming you’re using XP, right-click on the                          PageMaker to the same location on the disk.
          Taskbar and choose Properties. Navigate to                            Solution 4: Delete and re-create the ttfCache file
     the Start Menu tab and then click Customize.                               by exiting all applications, locating and deleting
     Another pop-up window will appear with two                                 the file, and then restarting Windows in Safe
     tabs—General and Advanced. Click on the                                    Mode to create a new file.
     Advanced tab and then on the Clear List button.
     This will clear all recently opened files and
     commands, and it will also erase records of Web
                                                                                Pretty Darn Funny
     sites visited through Internet Explorer.                                       I use Windows XP Professional, and I am not
         If you just want to clear the entries from the                             able to download PDF files. When I try to open
     Run dialog box, open the Registry Editor and                               a PDF file, a message appears: “An internal error has
     navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\                                    occurred.”
     Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\                                                                       Sarabjeet Singh
     RunMRU. Delete the value corresponding to the
     command you want to remove, or remove all                                       This problem can be caused by a variety of
     the entries to clear the list entirely.                                         reasons. Sometimes, it occurs if you don’t
                                                                                have enough memory installed. The error can
                                                                                also occur if you have an older version of Acrobat
     No Pages Being Made                                                        Reader installed or if you have more than one
          I am not able to run Adobe PageMaker 6.5. It                          version installed at the same time—in which case
          displays an error message: “Unable to load icon                       you should uninstall both versions and reinstall

92   DIGIT JULY 2006
      Create Ringtones And Wallpapers For Your
      Mobile Phone
      We bet you’d love to have one of your favourite MP3s as a ringtone—and really, it’s easy!
      And how about putting your desktop wallpaper on your phone? Here’s how you can

                                                        Click “Just Run Audio Converter”,         menu and simply click “Save my
       Sanket Naik                                      doing which, obviously, starts the        Ringtone as”, give it a name, and
                                                        audio converter!                          select the file format—MP3 or WAV.

              lmost all entry-level cell phones
              today have colour screens and                  From the File menu, select                Creating Wallpapers
              polyphonic ringtones, and                      “Open an audio File from my               From the main menu, click “Just
       allow customisation of these. While              PC”, or press [Ctrl] + [O]. From the      Run Image Converter”. It should open
       most phones bundle good ringtones                browser window that opens, browse         the image converter, which looks
       and wallpapers, creating some of                 to any audio file—such as an MP3          pretty much similar to the audio con-
       your own has its own charm. Various              file—and select one from which            verter; however, the tools and menus
       applications are available for creating          you’ll extract your ringtone. Upon        pertain to image manipulation.
       ringtones; we chose Create-Ringtone              selecting the file, the application
       because apart from ringtones, it also            will process it and open it in the
       allows you to make custom wallpa-                editing window.
       pers for your screen.
           You can download a 15-day trial                    Once the audio file has
       copy of Create-Ringtone from                           opened in the editing win-
       www.create-ringtone.com, and if you              dow, you can select the portion of
       like it—we think you will!—you can               the song that you want to set as
       purchase it for $19 (Rs 850).                    your ringtone.
                                                            In the editing window, left-
                                                        click where you want the portion
                                                        to start, then right-click where   Select your phone model from the drop-down
                                                        you want to end it. Alternatively,
                                                        while keeping the right mouse but-
                                                        ton pressed, drag the cursor to               From the File menu, select
                                                        select the portion. The selected part         “Open Image”, or press [Ctrl] +
                                                        will be highlighted in white.           [O]. This should open the browser.
                                                            To play the selected portion,       Browse to your image collection and
                                                        click Play in the top panel.            select the image you want to use as
                                                                                                your wallpaper.

       Create-Ringtone’s main user interface                                                             Once the image is selected, it
                                                                                                         opens in the image converter.
                                                                                                  Create-Ringtone has an inbuilt data-
             Creating A Ringtone                        Select the bitrate and amplification      base for screen sizes of selected
            The main interface of Create-                                                         phones. Just select the phone model
       Ringtone is as shown above. To create                  While creating ringtones, do        from the drop-down list, and the
       a ringtone, select from one of the                     pay attention to the file size.     application will automatically crop
       three choices listed under the Ring-             Create-Ringtone allows saving of          the image to match your screen size.
       tones menu.                                      ringtones in both the WAV as well as      If it fails to, select Custom, and spec-
          For this exercise, we’ll select the           the MP3 formats. If your phone does-      ify the pixel size yourself.
       source audio file from the PC; you               n’t support MP3, you will have to
       can also get it from an audio CD.                save it as a WAV file. The settings for         After choosing the phone model
                                                        both formats are available in the               and selecting the part of the
                                                        left-hand corner of the application.      image to be cropped, go to the File
                                                            For MP3, we would recommend           menu and click on “Save my Wallpa-
                                                        you set the bitrate to 64 kbps. The       per as”. Before clicking Save, give it
                                                        amplifier allows you to set the loud-     a name and select the file format.
                                                        ness—don’t touch this unless your         Voila! You have a wallpaper ready for
                                                        MP3 is too faint. The final size of the   your phone.
                                                        ringtone will be shown in the status          To transfer the ringtones and
                                                        bar at the bottom.                        wallpapers to your phone, connect it
                                                                                                  to the PC via Bluetooth, cable or
                                                             Once the settings are taken          infrared.
       Select the portion of the song you want to use        care of, you can go to the File                   sanket_naik@thinkdigit.com

94   DIGIT JULY 2006
  Is 64-bit Worth It?                                                cient number of applications that use the 64-bit       Questhe
                                                                     architecture. There are a few, though—for                of nth
       I recently bought a new system with an AMD Athlon64           example, The AMD64 version of Far Cry is avail-          Mo
       3200 processor, ASUS A8N-VM motherboard with inte-            able for the 64-bit version of XP. The AMD64
  grated graphics (NVIDIA GeForce 6100 256 MB), 512 MB 400           version is an upgrade that installs on top of the
  MHz Transcend RAM, and a Seagate Barracuda 80 GB SATA              retail boxed version, and AMD claims it “gives you an
  hard disk.                                                         enhanced Far Cry experience.”
      Should I install the regular Windows XP Professional with          Earlier, the non-availability of 64-bit driver support was
  SP2 or should I go for Windows XP 64-bit? What are the advan-      an issue with the 64-bit operating system, but 64-bit drivers
  tages of the latter? I use my system mainly for home applica-      for your system are easily available and can be downloaded
  tions and gaming.                                                  from the respective manufacturers’ Web sites.
                                                      Ayush Sobti        32-bit applications will, of course, run on XP 64-bit, but
                                                                     in 32-bit mode—just as in the 32-bit version of XP. So for the
       While the 64-bit edition of Windows XP has been               time being at least, there’s no point opting for the 64-bit
       around for quite some time now, there isn’t a suffi-          version of XP.

the latest version. Another reason could be that                                  people say it can increase download speeds up to
your firewall or proxy server is corrupting PDFs                                  500 per cent. I use a 128 kbps connection. What
while they download. The solution here is to                                      other download accelerators would you recom-
download the PDF to your hard drive and then                                      mend? Also, I use Opera 8.5. I can’t incorporate any
view it rather than viewing it in your browser.                                   download manager into Opera. What do I do?
                                                                                                                         Saurabh Sood
TV-Tuner Trouble                                                                       Download managers try to give you the
    I use Windows XP Media Center Edition.                                             highest download speeds from your
    Recently, I installed a Pinnacle PCTV 50i TV-                                 Internet connection by splitting the file being
Tuner card. It works fine with the Pinnacle Media                                 downloaded into multiple segments and then
Center software, but whenever I start the                                         downloading the segments simultaneously.
Windows XP Media Center TV application, it                                        The highest download speed you can get is
shows an error: “Your TV card is not compatible                                   limited by the speed of your Internet connec-
with Windows or is not configured properly…”                                      tion which in your case is 128 kbps. Then
Does this mean that I can’t use the TV card with                                  again, the Web site from which you are down-
Windows XP Media Center?                                                          loading files also is a factor in the maximum
                                 Siddhartha Biswas                                download speed you can get. The 500 per cent
                                                                                  claim is almost rubbish; it does say “up to
     We would like to bring to your notice that                                   500 per cent,” which can be as little as 5 or
     you can only install and use Windows XP                                      10 per cent!
Media Center Edition OS if you had bought a                                           A good download manager we can suggest is
Media Center PC. Windows XP Media Center                                          FlashGet, from www.amazesoft.com. The
Edition is not available off the shelf and only                                   FlashGet plug-in for Opera can also be down-
comes bundled with Media Center PCs. If you                                       loaded from the same site.
obtained from elsewhere, it is pirated, and we
cannot help you.
    If you have a Media Center PC and are trying                                  The Registry To The Rescue
to replace the TV-Tuner with the Pinnacle PCTV                                         I own a cyber café. People come and down-
50i, then we must tell you that there are a                                            load files, and I want to change the download
limited number of TV-Tuners that are compati-                                     location of the files to a location of my choice. How
ble with Windows XP Media Center Edition. Your                                    do I do this?
TV-Tuner is not supported by this operating                                                                            Abhishek Yadav
system—hence the error message. You can still
use this TV-Tuner with the OS by installing the                                        You can set the download path using the
required drivers and using third-party PVR soft-                                       Registry Editor. Browse to HKEY_
ware as in other flavours of Windows XP, but it            Get Help Now!          CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Interne
does not fulfil the TV-Tuner hardware require-                                    t Explorer and find the String “Download
ments of this OS—and hence cannot be used with         E-mail us your computing   Directory” in the right pane. Double-click on
                                                       problems along with your
the Windows XP Media Center TV application.            contact details and
                                                                                  this and change it to a valid location of
    You can find out about TV-Tuners supported         complete system            your choice. This is where files will get down-
by or compatible with Windows XP Media                 configuration to           loaded the next time someone clicks a down-
Center Edition from www.microsoft.com/                 sos@jasubhai.com ,         load link.
windowsxp/mediacenter/partners/dfw/tvtuner-            and we might answer            However, this location can be changed if a
cardsreq.mspx.                                         them here! Since we get    new location is specified. To prevent the user
                                                       many more mails per day    from       doing      this,    navigate       to
                                                       than we can handle, it     HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Mic
500 Per Cent Indeed!                                   may take some time for     osoft\Internet Explorer\Restrictions. If this
                                                       your query to be
    I use Windows XP Pro and IE 6. I have installed    answered. Rest assured,
                                                                                  value is not present, you can create it. In the
    Internet Download Accelerator. But the down-       we are listening!          right pane, create a new DWORD called
load speeds are more or less the same, when                                       “NoSelectDownloadDir” and set its value to 1.

                                                                                                                        DIGIT JULY 2006   95
     Digital Tools l Agent 001
                                                                 Agent 001

     More Power To You!
     Have you bothered about what power supply your dealer bundled with your computer? If you
     have, skip the following! But if you don’t even know what brand of PS you have, read on...

            o begin with, I just love the Mumbai                                         watts to the components inside; the remaining 30
            monsoon: it allows me to take a break from                                   per cent is wasted as heat. While the 70 per cent is
            my usual routine and sit by the window                                       for PSes available abroad, the PSes in the Indian
     pane sipping coffee. But somehow, my computer                                       market are not a patch on them in terms of effi-
     back home doesn’t like the rains—it breaks down                                     ciency. There are certain brands that we know are
     every year when the rains come!                                                     good for sure, and we shall mention these later.
          Having stacked my cabinet with three hard                                          There are quite a few things that have
     drives, a deluxe motherboard, two DVD-Writers                                       cropped up in the power supply category. To
     and a GeForce 7900 card, my not-so-well-powered                                     reduce wire clutter inside the cabinet, manufac-
     supply died when it tried to satiate the demand. I                                  turers have come up with detachable wires. The
     still blame it on the rains! Now, I can live without                                wires have connectors on both ends, where one
     food or water, but without a computer is out of                                     end plugs into the PS and the other into the
     the question.                                                                       respective devices. Gamers can soup up their
          While there is no dearth of options are far as                                 cabinets by putting up PSes with neon lights on
     the availability of brands or models is concerned,                                  them. Most importantly, the new PSes support
     the real problem is finding a good, reliable power                                  ATX v2.0. All new motherboards require 24-pin
     supply. In the absence of a proper test from our                                    power connectors and not the 20-pin ones used
     Test Centre, or for that matter by any technology                                   by older motherboards.
     publication in India, spurious, low-quality power                                       Coming down to market realities, Mercury,
     supplies (PSes) are handed across the counter and                                   HIS, PERX, Frontech, and iBall sell cabinets that
     are well-received. With hardware getting power-                                     ship with Pses, unless you are smart enough to opt
     hungry, these low quality PSes generally fail to                                    for something better. In our office of 200 people,
     deliver when overloaded.                                                            we have used all these brands and have found
          Also, over the past year, the hardware industry                                nothing wrong with them: they work for three to
     has undergone a remarkable change. It has seen                                      four years without problems—unless one stresses
     the launch of a myriad new chipsets (the 945, 975,                                  them with loads of hardware. But from our test
     and more), new technologies in graphics cards (SLI                                  lab experience, we can definitely vouch for Antec
     and CrossFire), new processor architectures (dual-                                  for their quality of PSes and performance under
     core), and so forth. The resulting new components                                   load. Currently, this is the only international
     require a power supply capable of providing                                         brand available in the Indian market, and is expen-
     sustainable, clean power—since the system as a                                      sive. However, considering the fact that one does-
     whole requires more power than it used to earlier.                                  n’t upgrade a power supply every six months,
          While a 350W power supply was de facto a year                                  spending some extra cash is money well spent.
     ago, and a 400W sold for a premium, with the                                            VIP makes good power supplies, and we have a
     new hardware requiring more power, these PSes                                       couple of them running our test benches 24x7. I’d
     are being replaced by 450W, 500W and 600W                                           recommend VIP to those who can’t afford Antec
     beasts. The first question that springs up is, what                                 but want a reliable power supply. Zebronics, an
     wattage do I need? If you’re building                                                      Indian company, also offers good power
     a regular PC with onboard graph-                                                            supplies, especially their Diamond series.
     ics, a single hard drive and an opti-                                                       Here, I’m listing some good brands and
     cal drive, then a 400 W PS is more                                                           models, with prices in rupees.
     than enough to supply your
     demand, even at full load. On the
     other hand, if your PC has all the                                                                    Power Supplies: Brands & Prices
     latest and best hardware such as SLI
                                                                                                      Brand       400W       500W    600W    720W
     graphics cards and a top-end proces-                                                                         Rs.600     800     1,200
                                                                                                      Frontech                               NA
     sor, make sure your system has at least                                                          Zebronics   Rs.1,500   1,900   5,500   7,000
     a 500W power supply.                                                                             VIP         Rs.1,500   2,800   5,000   NA
          A higher wattage rating, of course,                                                         Antec Models                    Price (Rs.)
     does not necessarily mean a better PS, so                                                        Antec Phantom 350                  10,717
     this shouldn’t be used as a rule of thumb when                                                   Antec Smart Power SP 350           2,854
     buying one. What’s more important is the effi-                                                   Antec Smart Power SP 400           3,636
     ciency of the PS. As of today, most high-end PSes                                                Antec True Control 550             8,037
     available abroad typically have efficiencies in the                                              Antec True Power TP 550            7,576
     70 per cent bracket. Some new PSes have been able
     to breach the 80 per cent barrier. What does that                                    Want more of Agent 001? Turn over to read his
     mean? Well, if your power supply draws 100 watts                                     answers to your buying questions
     of energy from the mains, it will deliver only 70
                                                            Illustration Pradip Ingale

92   DIGIT JULY 2006
                                                              Ask Agent 001                                  Digital Tools l Agent 001

Music On The Move                                                                               Your budget is too low for me to suggest
    I am planning to buy a new cell phone soon. I                                               a good 2.1 speaker set. The Zebronics SW-
    have my sights set on the new Nokia 3250 music                                        8000 will fit your budget, and it performs well
phone. I need a recommendation: should I opt for this                                     enough for the price tag.
phone? Are there better music phones around? My
budget is about what the Nokia 3250 retails for.                                          Have Money, Will Spend...
                                                     Vijay                                     I want to buy a home theatre system along with
                                                                                               a large screen TV. As far as large screens are
        The keypad layout and interface of the                                            concerned, I don't understand the difference
        3250 is typical of Nokia—simple and intu-                                         between LCD and DLP: could you please elaborate on
itive. There isn’t much difference between this                                           these? I have set aside Rs 50,000 for the audio part
phone and the older 3230 phone. You get a 512                                             and Rs 3 to 4 lakhs for the video devices.
MB Micro SD card to store your music, and a 3.2                                                                               Samrat Mazumdar
mm stereo jack—good, because you can connect
any headphone set. Another phone you should                                                        Wow, will you adopt me? Four lakhs is
check out before you choose the Nokia 3250 is                                                     more than enough to build a fantastic
the Sony Ericsson W810i. Since both these are                                             home theatre system. There are two parts to a
touted as music phones, and you plan to use your                                          home theatre; Video and Audio. The proper
phone primarily as a music player, I suggest you                                          combinations of both makes the theatre experi-
get a good feel for both before buying. Go to a                                           ence richer. As far as video goes, bigger screens
shop and spend some time checking out the                                                 naturally mean a better experience. There are
keypad and the music buttons.                                                             two ways to bigger screens—first, via multime-
                                                                                          dia projectors, and second, by using large screen
A Good Old CRT                                                                            LCDs or plasma TVs.
    I want to buy a good 19-inch CRT monitor. What                                            You get two types or projectors based on
    brand and model should I opt for? Please give                                         the technology they use—LCD and DLP. Most
me two options!                                                                           multimedia projectors today are based on DLP
                                                 Arindam                                  technology, and an entry-level device will set
                                                                                          you back Rs 2 to 3 lakhs. Frankly speaking,
       There are hardly any choices in the CRT                                            nothing compares to the level of experience a
       market: Samsung, LG, and Philips are the                                           projector provides; however, your living room
predominant brands. The choice is further                                                 should be long enough for the projector to
limited in the 19-inch category. I’d recommend                                            project a large-format image. You will also
a Samsung, not because they are exceptional,                                              need a good projector screen. On the other
but because they seem a little more serious                                               hand, if you have space constraints, you should
about the CRT business. (Most traditional CRT                                             consider opting for a large screen LCD; plasma
manufacturers are moving to TFT panels, and so                                            TVs are out of vogue.
are focusing less on CRTs.) Samsung has a good                                                If you want to buy a new large screen LCD,
CRT line. There are two Samsung models I would                                            make sure it supports HDMI (High Definition
recommend—the SyncMaster 997DF and 957MB.                                                 Multimedia Interface). This is a new interface
                                                                                          capable of transmitting uncompressed, high-
                                                                                          definition video and audio content over a single
Cam Confusion                                                                             cable, thus reducing cable clutter when
     I am planning to buy a digital camera and my                                         connecting home theatre systems.
     budget is Rs 18,000 to 20,000. I have no partic-                                         On the audio front, you will have to invest in
ular model in mind.                                                                       a good “receiver,” probably from brands such as
                                           S V Subba Rao                                  Denon, NAD, and others, and a 5.1 speaker set
                                                                                          from brands such as Whrafedale, PSB, and Sono-
        Your budget is good enough to get a really                                        dyne. Also, to play DVDs, you will require a good
        good digicam. I’m considering street prices                                       DVD player; brands available are Denon,
and not the official prices—which are atrocious.                                          Marantz, and some others. A good receiver will
Check out the Panasonic DMC-FZ7: this is a pseudo-                                        set you back by Rs 40,000; the 5.1 speaker set
SLR-styled digital camera, has 12x optical zoom,                                          will cost you a lakh, and the DVD player another
Leica lenses, and image stabilisation. The FZ7 will                                       Rs 25,000. Whoops, I think I just overshot even
set you back by around Rs 20,000. The only prob-                                          your generous budget!
lem with the FZ7 is its size, and if you’re looking                Ask Away!
for a compact point-and-shoot camera, opt for                  Want a tech product, but
                                                                                          I Want A Nano!
Canon’s A700 or Sony’s W50 and W70 series. These               don’t know how to go            I want to buy a Digital Audio player (DAP). I have
will cost Rs 15,000 or so.                                     about buying it? E-mail         a budget of around Rs 15,000; will I be able to
                                                               agent001@thinkdigit.com    buy an iPod Nano or Samsung YP-T1?
On A Tight Speaker Budget                                      with your complete                                               Mayank Rajawat
      I am an avid gamer and am looking for a speaker          contact details, and he            For Rs 15,000, you can easily get your
      set. I have space constraints, so I’ve decided to        might answer them here!            hands on an iPod Nano. I’m not sure
settle for a 2.1 set. Can you suggest a good set that costs    Please note that           about the YP-T1 though. If you want to look at
about Rs 2,500? Also, I listen to heavy metal or rock          Agent001 only answers      the grey market, you can easily get a 30 GB iPod
                                                               purchase-related ques-
most of the time, so clarity is of utmost importance.          tions in this space.
                                                                                          Video for the same price. If I were in your posi-
                                                   Akshay                                 tion, I would have chanced the grey market.

                                                                                                                                  DIGIT JULY 2006   93
      TECH                  Finding your life partner!
     Its marriage time
     now—in less than
                            Kailas Shastry (kailas_shastry@thinkdigit.com)
     a month two of
     my close friends
     found their
     respective better
     halves. These two
     marriages were
     arranged in
     radically different
     ways. Asha’s
     (name changed)
     parents believed
     in the newspaper
     matrimony while
     Mahesh’s (name
     changed again)
     family however
     moved with the
     times and decided
     to look at
     brides online.           Sifting through contacts and newspaper ads...                 Looking online for a compatible partner....

                            After some struggle to trace the match maker, Asha            After some initial coaxing, Mahesh registered himself

                            and her parents had to patiently explain him their            on two matrimonial sites—www.shaadi.com and
                            idea of an ideal groom. He promised to get back to            www.bharatmatrimony.com. Registration took about
                            them with prospective grooms ‘as soon as possible’—           15 minutes during which he specified his interests
                            which turned out to be 8 whole days!                          and gave a brief on his family background.

                            With Asha’s insistence, after the fourth day, the             He also browsed through existing profiles by using

             2              family decided not to be dependent on only a single
                            source and decided to place an ad in Sunday’s
                            matrimonial section in a leading newspaper. The
                            number of words was a constraint, and they ended
                            up editing most of their requirements.
                                                                                          narrower search criteria. He found prospective
                                                                                          brides matching his interest and his father’s
                                                                                          preference of family background in his city. It took
                                                                                          a little encouragement from his parents to send a
                                                                                          mail to three of the girls whose profile he saw.

                           The match maker turned up with 7 horoscopes but all            A mail followed by a reply, then another mail,

                           of them were refused by Asha. The ad appeared on               then the inevitable Yahoo! and MSN chat (A
                           Sunday and was followed by eight calls. The ad was             matrimony site even offered a chat service
                           repeated on the following two Sundays and the                  between members who are online). Though never a
                           family collected half a dozen mails from the                   substitute for meeting a person eye to eye, Mahesh
                           newspaper office during the following weeks. Finally           did gain some sort of the insight about the
                           with Asha's participation the family narrowed down             persons he was chatting with. It must have been
                           the choices to three.                                          the same for the prospective brides as well.

                           The parents and the couple-to-be spoke on the phone            Our man finally zeroed in on one girl who

                           for what seemed like hours! Finally, a visit was               seemed to reciprocate his intentions. IMs led to
                           arranged with the prospective groom. As the families           telephone calls which eventually led to the two
                           spoke, Asha and her prince charming got talking as             families meeting up.
                           well and began sharing their experiences, likes and
                           dislikes…you get the picture!

            5              Some (no, a lot!) more talks and meetings followed
                           and it was finally decided that the couple would now
                           be ‘committed’. One of the marriages was settled!
                                                                                          The comfort level was much better (as far as I could
                                                                                          tell) as each of them knew what exactly the other
                                                                                          was looking for owing to the detailed profiles
                                                                                          online. It was one more match made!

                             Time taken to                                                  Time taken to
                             establish contact with groom: 30 days                          establish contact with bride: 16 days

                                                                                         gives great freedom to the person(s) in choosing his / her
       The                 A   nd the winner is… obviously the Tech Way! You can
                               create your own detailed profile, view detailed
                           profiles, and even chat online. Searching through
                                                                                         partner besides being really easy to put up a profile. No
                                                                                         visiting the newspaper office, no drafting and cutting
      Winner               members of your city, preferred educational background        down on words and no waiting for it to appear in print
       Is...               and career are as easy as specifying search criteria. This,   once a week. Mahesh certainly had it easier!

74      DIGIT JULY 2006

98    Divided We
      Conquer      100     One Device
                           Army            110       Live Chat
                                                     Or Dead?
                                                                           How Technology Can Help Your Organisation

Tech Career

#include me_too.please
                                                                            phenomenal pace, demand is high, and there just
Here’s how you     Nimish Chandiramani                                      aren’t enough IT professionals in this country.
                                                                            Some companies have even begun hiring students
can edge your              f you’ve ever spent time in cities such as       from non-IT backgrounds and training them for
way into India’s
most wanted
                     I     Bangalore, Hyderabad and Gurgaon, or,
                           for that matter, any metropolitan city
                   you’d probably appreciate how tough it is to turn
                                                                            the role. Engineers and MCAs, though, still
                                                                            remain the cat’s whiskers, and a good number of
                                                                            companies still hire only from that pool.
tech career        a corner without bumping into an IT geek. And                “Engineers, we find,” says a senior HR execu-
                   with their populations approaching obscene               tive from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), “are
                   numbers, you won’t be receiving respite anytime          better at conceptualising and reasoning, and usu-
                   soon, especially if you join the brigade yourself!       ally do well in the long run. Of course, I wouldn’t
                       The lure of the ever-growing Indian software         like to generalise.” These sentiments are echoed
                   industry is near-universal. Apart from being part        by Rakesh Gupta, Director of Engineering at
                   of India’s biggest industrial sector, you will be        Impetus Technologies. “Engineering programmes
                   exposed to cutting-edge technology and will get          help a student develop strong logical and analyt-
                        paid a goodish bit more than your counter-          ical skills, and these, more than technical skills,
                             parts in other fields. However, you don’t      make them desirable candidates.”
                              want to jump into it without knowing              So what do they look for when hiring fresh
                              what it’s all about, do you?                  graduates? For starters, you need to have a good
                                                                            academic record. While a number of companies
                               Getting In                                   don’t specify a cut-off, an aggregate of at least 60
                                   Making your way into a software          per cent will ensure that you don’t walk away
                                   company has never been easier.           from your campus notice board cursing under
                                   With the industry growing at a           your breath. In addition, you will have to take an
                                                                            aptitude test, the format of which varies from
                                                                                     company to company. TCS, for example,
                                                                                     has separate tests for aptitude and per-
                                                                                     sonality. You will also need some basic pro-
                                                                                     gramming skills to do well in these tests.
                                                                                          Once you clear the aptitude tests, it’s
                                                                                     time for the interview. Says Bharti Kakroo,
                                                                                     HR Manager at Impetus Technologies,
                                                                                     “We conduct two separate rounds of inter-
                                                                                     views—one to judge the technical knowl-
                                                                                     edge of the candidate, and another to
                                                                                     judge his or her personality.”

                                                                                          I’m In! Now What?
                                                                            Once you’ve been selected by a company, your
                                                                            training begins. Training typically lasts three to
                                                                            four months, and will cover all the fundamentals
                                                                            you need—programming and database concepts,
                                                                            developing algorithms and so on—before you are
                                                                            trained on a specific platform such as Java or .NET.
                                                                            Non-computer engineers needn’t worry—compa-
                                                                            nies have standardised training programmes that
                                                                            take this into account, and by the end of your
                                                                            training, you’re going to be just as well-placed
                                                                            technically as the rest of your batch.
                                                                   Illustration Chaitanya Surpur
                                                                                                                  DIGIT JULY 2006   95
     Digital Business l Tech Careers

          Manage customer                  Group
          relationships for many          Software
                                                                                    Design projects at the highest level
          projects                        Manager
                                                                                    Evaluate technologies for use on project
          Participate in the cultural
          training and induction of

          Maintain customer               Project                                   Project              Research &            Research new
          relationships for your          Manager                                  Architect            Development            technologies and
          project                                                                                                              feasibility of use
          Take a bigger role in                                                                                                Recommend and
          organisational activities                                                                                            implement good
          Act as a consultant to                                                                                               programming practises
          other projects as well                                                                                               for the company
                                                                                                                               Develop reusable
                                                                                                                               components for use
                                                                                                                               across projects
                                                                                             Take ownership of a complete module—the
                                                                        Tech Lead
                                                                                             technology and the team
                                                                                             Contribute to its technical architecture
                                                                                             Interact with the customer

                                                                        Software             Analyse, develop and test the unit assigned to you
                                                                        Engineer             Gain experience and exposure
                                                                                             There are usually multiple grades of Software

        The Road Ahead. This is just a general
        idea—the actual job titles and number of                                             Learn the technology used in the organisation
        sub-levels for each organisational level                        Trainee
                                                                                             Learn the organisation’s philosophy and culture
        may vary

         Training also helps build communication                                               The Long And Winding Road
     skills and soft skills such as working in teams—all                                       For an idea of the path your career can take in
     to help you better fit into the company.                                                  the software industry, take a look at the mind-
         Database fundamentals are usually taught                                              map above. As you can see, there are distinct
     using Oracle as a reference, but this doesn’t                                             tracks you can follow depending on your passion.
     mean you’d be working with Oracle once out of                                             Incurable geeks will most likely find happiness
     training. However, the front-end technology                                               in R&D and architecting software; the half-geek-
     you’ll be trained on, be it Java, .NET or any-                                            half-management types are best suited for project
     thing else, is usually decided based on the com-                                          management.
     pany’s requirements, with some thought given                                                  From time to time, you will be encouraged to
     to your preference. A notable exception to this                                           take various certification examinations. As
     rule is Larsen & Toubro (L&T) IT, whose training                                          Rakesh Gupta puts it, “On-the-job training is good,
     covers all the technologies you might work on,                                            but it doesn’t have a specific target. Certifications
     letting you further build your skills once                                                help individuals brush up on their technical
     assigned to a project.                                                                    skills, and define a base for their knowledge.”

           Small Is Beautiful?                                                                 What’s Next For The Industry?
                                                                                               While it may sound foolishly jingoistic, there is a

       K  een on joining a start-up company, but wondering whether it’s the best for
          you? There will always be a bunch of mavericks that break away from the
       “safety” of a larger company to write software for a smaller one. Working for
                                                                                               remarkable amount of truth in the statement
                                                                                               that the Indian software industry can only go up.
                                                                                               Many companies from abroad have started setting
       a small organisation will ensure you don’t get lost in the crowd, a common              up shop here, contributing to the already bloating
       concern now that bigger companies are hiring hundreds of people at the                  number of jobs in the sector. And think about it—
       same time. The lesser manpower translates into more work and more                       Indian companies mainly provide customised
       responsibilities for you, which in turn will help you learn more. So, as the            solutions to specific clients today. We’ve yet to get
       company grows, you grow too.                                                            both feet into commercial
           But there are things you need to think about first. Says Akshat Jain,               product development,
       Systems Engineer with NeoAccel Inc., “It’s a job that requires a lot of passion.        and when that time
       We find ourselves in ‘all work and no play’ situations most of the time, and            comes, it’s going to be
       you’d end up extremely frustrated if you don’t love the job.”                           as exciting as an
           And who knows—if you’ve got stock options in the company and they get               exploding goose!
       bought over by a big multinational, you could become a millionaire overnight!              nimish_chandiramani@

96   DIGIT JULY 2006
      Digital Business l Smart Business

      The best answer
      to your storage
      woes is to share
                         Divided We Conquer
      the load
                                                                                       GridBlocks DISK
                          Nimish Chandiramani                                          GridBlocks is an open source project by the
                                                                                       Helsinki Institute of Physics. GridBlocks DISK
                                   bout as mystical and “ooh”-provoking as             (Distributed Inexpensive Storage with K-Avail-
                           A       the Matrix itself is this crazy new con-
                                   cept called The Grid. Still being
                                                                                       ability) is one of the three applications they are
                                                                                       working on—its purpose is quite obvious from
                          researched by universities and big corporations              the acronym. Unlike solutions such as SCSI or
                          alike, Grid Computing will change the way the                SATA RAIDs that would set you back a pretty
                          network works. Soon, we will be able to harness              penny, GridBlocks DISK (GB-DISK) will make full
                          the processing power of every computer on the                use of the resources you give it, with a near-zero
                          Grid to make complex processing the matter of                investment.
                          a jiffy. This, however, is a scenario we’ll have to               GB-DISK ships as Java .jar files, and is thus com-
                          wait for—for now.                                            pletely platform-independent. So even if your grid
                              And then there’s the case for Grid Storage.              is a mix of Windows and Linux servers, you should
                          The term is quite suggestive—grid storage is                 face no problem at all. If you wish to try out GB-
                          when you don’t have one dedicated file server                DISK, you can find it on this month’s DVD.
                          for your LAN; rather, the task of storing data can
                          be extended to nearly every computer on your                 How GB-DISK Works
                          network.                                                     The GB-DISK architecture consists of two main
                                                                                       components—the Front End service (FE) and the
                          The Grid And You                                             Storage Element service (SE). Users will interact
                          So what use could you possibly derive from a                 with the FE, which will break the file into
                          storage grid in your office? Well, for one thing,            “stripes” and spread them to SEs on the network.
                          you won’t need to invest in a pow-
                                                                   The GB-DISK architecture                          Storage
                          erful built-for-serving-files machine
                          as a file server—you could actually                                                        Elements
                          make do with a few half-decent PCs                                       TP
                          that nobody is using any more.                                      Gri HTTP/
                              More important, though, is the                                       FTP
                          question of failure. When your cen-                                                 Office

                          tral file server decides to pack up,                                                 LAN

                          you and your team will most likely

                          spend the rest of the day twiddling
                          your thumbs or playing table-tennis,
                          generally not doing much to earn                          Front
                          their worth—we know from experi-                          Ends
                          ence! However, a storage grid is quite
                          like having a RAID (Redundant Array
                          of Independent Devices) setup over a LAN—if one It also saves the metadata—data about the files—
                          unit goes poof, there are always the others to to the Infosystem, where it is accessible to all GB-
                          keep your data available.                            DISK services on the network.
                              Still not convinced? With a storage grid, you        Downloading files from the grid works in the
                          can squeeze the most out of old hardware even opposite way. When a user requests a file using
                          after it’s time to upgrade the rest of your PCs— the FE, it uses the metadata to determine where
                          just add it to the grid and go!                      it has stored the different fragments of the file,
                              By now, you’re probably curious to know how and begins to download them. Once all the frag-
                          exactly you can turn your office LAN into a ments have arrived, the FE strings them together
                          storage grid, so here goes.                          to form the original file.
                                                                                   All this isn’t apparent to the user—all he or
                                                                               she will see is a plain old Web page or Web folder.
                           WebDAV stands for Web-based Distributed                     Firing It Up
                           Authoring and Versioning. When Tim Berners-Lee              Before you start using GridBlocks, you will need
                           conceptualised the Internet, one of his intentions          the Java Runtime Environment. Once you’ve
                           was to make it a writable medium as well—                   installed that, start the Windows command
                           basically, you should be able to use the Internet           prompt (Start > Run > “cmd”) and navigate to the
                           the way you would use your own hard disk. The               folder you extracted the GB-DISK files to. To start
                           WebDAV protocol is an extension of the HTTP                 the Front End service, use this command:
                           protocol for data transfer over the Web. Nearly all             java -jar gb-disk-fe-0.8.1.jar
                           operating systems come with inherent support for                Once you’ve started up a Front End, you need
                           WebDAV, letting you use files on the Internet as if         to complement it with at least one Storage Ele-
                           they were stored right on your PC.                          ment. You can start the SE service on the same PC
                                                                                       as well, making it take part in the actual storage.

100   DIGIT JULY 2006
                          Illustration Shrikrishna Patkar
                                                           Digital Business l Smart Business

The Front End, as seen through your web browser

                                                     Setting up the Web Folder

                                                     Ah, the comfy world of Explorer-like folders

                                                     command line to manage files on the grid. Using
                                                     the command prompt, navigate to the folder
                                                     with the GridBlocks .jar files and use the fol-
What happens to your files in the Storage Elements   lowing command:
                                                         java -jar gb-disk-0.8.1.jar [put/get/delete/
To start the SE, use this command:                   exists] [file name] [FE URL]
    java -jar gb-disk-se-0.8.1.jar                       Adding more machines to the grid is as easy
    You will want to set up multiple Storage Ele-    as can be—just launch the SE service. Launching
ments—certainly more than Front Ends—this            the Storage Element service automatically sends
way, you can have some machines dedicated to         out a message to all the other machines, effec-
the task of storage, rather than having to           tively saying, “Hey, I’m here to share the load
manage storage and the interface.                    too!”
    Once you’re done setting up Front Ends and
Storage Elements, you can start using the grid.      Nearly There
You can either use a browser, or set up a Web        With all this capability, and completely free to
folder. To use your browser, just navigate to        boot, you would probably want to embrace GB-
http://[IP Address of Front End]:8080/gb-disk        DISK with open arms right about now. Be
    Using this interface, you can now choose the     warned, though—it is not without its limita-
files you want to upload to the grid. To see the     tions. Firstly, support for subdirectories is shaky,
fate of your files, you can use the above address    and you will most likely encounter failure mes-
and replace the IP address of the Front End with     sages if you try uploading folders.
the IP address of a Storage Element. What you            Secondly, while it does support authenti-
will see is a bunch of incoherent file names that    cating users to have their own private folders
actually represent the fragments of the files you    (you will find a “private” folder through the
uploaded through the Front End.                      front end), this feature is buggy at best and not
    If you would prefer not to use the browser       recommended for use.
and have it look more like the familiar Windows          Finally, with a dearth of proper documenta-
folders, you can set up a Web Folder—GridBlocks      tion, configuring GB-DISK can be quite the pain
supports the WebDAV protocol (see box WebDAV)        in the hindquarter area.
and will let you do this. Just open My Network           All this aside, if what you’re looking for is a
Places and select Add Network Place. When            place to dump files where they will be available
asked where you would like this network place        almost perpetually—even after failures of one or
to be created, select “Choose another Network        more machines—this is the solution for you.
Location” and click Next. In the Internet address        On the bright side, the GridBlocks team seem
field that comes up, use the aforemen-                    to be working night and day to perfect their
tioned address. You can now view                               program. Scarcely had we finished
the contents of the storage grid in                            bundling version 0.8 of the software on
a transparent folder-like environ-                             the DVD than they came up with ver-
ment.                                                          sion 0.9! You can track their progress at
    Finally, if you’re feeling par-                             http://gridblocks.sourceforge.net.
ticularly geeky, you can use the                                    nimish_chandiramani@thinkdigit.com

                                                                                              DIGIT JULY 2006   101
Photograph Amrut Patki

                         One Device
                                                                                           Digital Business l Business Test

A device that prints, faxes, and copies our documents? We’re all for one!
Join us as we go under the hood of 18 inkjet multi-functional devices
                                                           Print quality, time taken to print, and ink
Jayesh Limaye and Kailas Shastry                       consumption are the variables in the printing
                                                       equation. Different printers/MFDs find different

          ne device, many functions, is the core       points of balance under different modes—Draft
          philosophy driving innovation today.         or Fast, Normal, and Best or Fine. The HP 4355
          Consumers want more from a single            took a reasonable 15 seconds for the first print
          device—and manufacturers are only too        in Draft mode and 23 in Normal. The 3240C took
happy to oblige—at times even creating the need.       the longest to print on the average, with a draft
Printers that can scan are preferred over vanilla      text coming at 23 seconds; a full A4 photo test
printers. It makes more sense to have a copier on      print took over 16 minutes.
the device even if it cannot compete in quality or         The colour copy quality was satisfactory with
economy with standalone photocopiers. You now          the Epson CX3700 and HP Officejet 4355, which
need not get your photos scanned at your “DTP          took a leisurely 97 and 72 seconds respectively to
Centre”—the scan quality of most of these MFDs         copy an A4 document composed of text and
is good enough to convert your old photographs         graphics. The Lexmark X3350 and Brother MFC-
into digital data.                                     3240C were quicker, taking just about half the
    The 18 inkjet Multi-Functional Devices (MFDs)      time as the Epson, but the pace is of no avail as
we received from Brother, Canon, Epson, HP and         the quality leaves a lot to be desired. The black
Lexmark ranged from the bare-bones basics to           and white print copy was acceptable on all the
those with photo-quality printers. Needless to say,    MFDs, with the 3240C spitting out something
the price disparity was huge, and it would not         that was a little smudged.                                  JULY 2006
make sense to compare a Rs 4,000 MFD to one that
costs Rs 12,000. For this test, therefore, we made     Build Quality And Ease Of Use
a broad classification based on their photo-           The CX3700 was missing a display,
printing capability. All non-photo class MFDs were     which is surprising, given its price of
looked at as home solutions, while photo-quality       Rs 5,999—Rs 1,000 more than that of the
MFDs were segregated, based on price, into Office      Lexmark X3350. The X3350 and 3240C
and Professional categories.                           have a basic single-colour display,
    Fourteen of the 18 MFDs fell under the photo-      making life that much simpler for
printing bracket, and those that cost below            the user, especially during trou-
Rs 10,000 are primarily targeted at office users.      bleshooting.
The ones on the other side of the five-figure mark         The lack of a display on the
are for imaging enthusiasts and for heavy office       CX3700 is compensated for with a
printing, with bulk printing and networking            dedicated button for head cleaning,
capabilities.                                          which doubles up to get the print
                                                       head into an accessible position
FOR HOME USE (NON-PHOTO MFDS)                          to replace the cartridges. Error
Performance                                            indication is by way of two warning lights,            HP Officejet 4355 All-in-One
Mostly used for black and white printouts, an occa-    one for a “General Error”—that is just as descrip-
sional colour print that is not all-important, and     tive as the Epson gets—and the other for low/no
the copy function used when in a tearing hurry—        ink. The paper feed and output trays fold in neatly,
that sums up the functionality of this category.       leaving no protruding parts while not being used.
The Lexmark X3350, Epson CX3700, Brother MFC-              The X3350 is the most inexpensive MFD in this
3240C, and the HP Officejet 4355 All-in-One make       category at Rs 4,999. Unfortunately, this shows in
up this bracket. Colour printing is certainly not      the fit and finish. There is no place for the paper
the strong point here, save for the 4355. Even black   feed tray to slot into while not in use, and as a
ink printing is not up to the mark on the Lexmark      result, it sits awkwardly on the cover. The buttons
and the Epson. This is especially telling with small   are noisy, too.                                               JULY 2006
point size text. The HP 4355 and the Brother 3240C         The HP 4355 has plastic trays jut-
offer the best quality amongst the four here.          ting out everywhere. It is difficult to
    Even though these devices are classified as        close the output tray once you have the
non-photo printing MFDs, we still carried out a        face-plate installed. The Brother MFC-
photo print test just to see whether they managed      3240C and the Epson CX3700 had
vivid colour prints. We were in for a pleasant sur-    good build qualities.
prise, with the 4355 and the 3240C giving us a             The HP 4355 doubles up as a
rather good printout. In fact, the photo quality of    phone as well—and why not, con-
the 3240C is better than its brother, the Brother      sidering it already uses the phone
MFC-115C, which is marked as a photo printer! The      line to fax. Now this is an MFD that
HP Officejet 4355 can give some photo printing         is truly multifunctional. Space has
MFDs a run for their money. The CX3700 managed         definitely been the priority in the design
to give an acceptable print, but the same can’t be     of the 4355—it is compact and has a flip that
said about the X3350—it churned out a speckled         covers the buttons while leaving the display
image that had a “burnt” kind of effect.               exposed. However, with all flaps and trays open, it    Brother MFC-3240C

                                                                                                                         DIGIT JULY 2006     101
         Digital Business l Business Test
          demands more space for itself. The build quality is       and volume printing for the SoHo user—these
          reassuring, and our only crib is that its pure white      units are suited to both scenarios.
          body is an open invitation to stains.
              A quirk with the Brother 3240C is that the            Performance
          USB cable plugs in inside the printer: you need to        The Brother DCP-115C, at a very affordable
          open the cover that exposes the cartridges and            Rs 4,490, marks the entry point to this category.
          then plug the cable in, guiding it along a narrow         Its print quality looks acceptable from a distance,
          recess. There simply is not enough room to com-           but once you bring it under even a low-powered
          fortably accommodate the ferrite core that comes          magnifying glass, faint lines show up in the black
          at the end of most cables. This holds good for all        text. At the Fast setting, these lines are easily
          the Brother MFDs across all the categories.               apparent to the eye. You have to choose the Fine
                                                                                                                                       JULY 2006
                                                                    quality setting in order to get rid of them.
          Our Conclusion                                                 The DCP-115C takes 17 sec-
          Good print quality is essential, and HP’s Officejet       onds for the first print—not
          4355 All-in-One and Brother’s MFC-3240C scored            great news in an office setting.
          well on that front. Between these two, the 4355           In Normal mode, the time taken
          with its rich feature set and compact form right-         was 26 seconds, the highest in
          fully takes the Digit Best Buy Gold award. Losing         the category. A full A4 photo
          this position by a whisker is the Brother MFC-            printout generated some bands
          3240C, which wins the Digit Best Buy Silver award.        in the print, which doesn’t speak
                                                                    too well for uniformity. At a dis-
          FOR OFFICE USE: PHOTO MFDS UP TO                          tance, though, the print can pass off
          RS 10,000                                                 as satisfactory.
          Here you will find MFDs that boast of photo-                   The copier function is just about passable,
          printing capability and do not cost a bomb                with black as well as colours appearing washed                HP Officejet 5610 All-in-One
          either. These are suitable for both the home and          out. The DCP-115C is cheap, but these are the
          SoHo segments. Printing the occasional photo              compromises you need to make if you are on a
          along with the usual black-and-whites at home,            tight budget.

          How We Tested
      The Test Bed                                     The Printer Tests                                  scanner’s capability to capture minute details.
      Our test bed for the Inkjet MFD tests            We used a text document to test the raw print           Finally, we did an OCR test to check the
      comprised an Intel Pentium 4 3.6 GHz             speeds of the printer part of the MFDs. To test    scanner’s ability to differentiate light and
      processor, an Intel 925XCV motherboard with      the ability of the MFDs to handle the various      dark areas: a print article was scanned into
      1 GB of Micron 533 MHz DDR2 RAM, an              aspects of a regular document, we created a        the trial version of ABBYY Fine Reader Pro
      NVIDIA GeForce 7600 graphics card, and a         combi-document with black text interspersed        8.0 PE, and scanned for wrongly-interpreted
      120 GB 7200 rpm ATA IV Seagate Barracuda         with graphs and images. The quality settings       letters. We then counted the number of
      hard disk. We used Windows XP with SP1 as        used were Draft and Normal for text, Normal        misinterpreted characters.
      the OS. The system was loaded with all the       and Best for combi-document (refer to the
      latest chipset and graphics drivers as well as   combi documnet snapshot in the printer test),
      the latest version of DirectX.                   and Best for photo. We clocked the time taken
      We used the following media:                     in each case, and analysed the print quality.
      Text/combi-document printouts: 100 g/sm          The final test for the printers was the photo
      paper from Berga (A4 size)                       test, where we used 270 g/sm Novajet Glossy
      Photo printouts: 270 g/sm glossy photo           Photo Paper to print an A4 image. We used
      paper from Novajet (A4 size)                     the highest available quality settings here.
          We divided the MFDs into three
      categories. The non-photo printers comprised     The Scanner Tests
      the Home category. The Photo MFDs were           We tested the scanners for speed using an
      categorised based on price. Those below          average of five previews of an A4 size image.
      Rs 10,000 came under the Office category,        This was done with the scanner fresh out of
      and the rest under the Professional category.    the box, in order to incorporate the warm-up       The Kodak IT8 sheet used to test scanning qulity
      MFDs that did not fit in any category, or were   time. We imported the same A4 size image at
      priced too high, are given special mentions.     150 dpi and 600 dpi in Adobe Photoshop, and        The Copier Tests
                                                       scanned a full text document in B&W mode at        We copied the text document in black and
      Features                                         200 dpi. The scanner then underwent a test         white, and the combi-document in colour,
      Various features such as PictBridge, memory      to determine its colour differentiating            and rated the MFDs on their speed and
      card readers, input/output tray capacity, and    abilities using a Kodak IT8 card with different    print quality.
      maximum print and scan resolution were           shades of colour—each a little different from
      noted. For the scanner part, the maximum         the preceding one. Next, we tested using the       The Awards
      scan resolution, bit depth, scanner type, ADF    resolution chart. This is a chart with five        The scores from Features, Performance, and
      presence, etc. were noted and rated. For the     boxes consisting of parallel lines very close to   Price were given category-relevant
      copier aspect, the ability to work as a          each other, each with the lines packed more        importance. An overall score out of 100 was
      standalone device, the maximum number of         densely than in the preceding box. We              calculated. The product that scores the
      pages that can be printed in multi-copy mode,    scanned the resolution chart at 300 dpi. This      highest here was adjudged the winner of the
      reduction or enlarging a copy, and so on, were   test checked whether the scanner could scan        Digit Best Buy Gold award for the category.
      noted. Obviously, most of these features were    and differentiate between the parallel lines in    The second-highest scorer gets the Digit Best
      standard on the higher-end MFDs.                 the chart, and gave us a measure of the            Buy Silver award for the category.

102       DIGIT JULY 2006
                                         Digital Business l Business Test
        The Canon PIXMA MP150 is next at Rs 6,495.
   The black print quality is almost as good as that
   of the much higher-priced HP Officejet 5610
   All-in-One. Even under the magnifying glass, we
   could not find any gaps in the print, which is a
   good thing—but it does show an occasional
   smudge. However, this is no cause for worry: the
   print looks good even under close inspection with
   the naked eye. Just 10 seconds for the first print
   is going to keep a lot of office people happy. For
   colour printing, however, the Normal                          JULY 2006
   mode robs images of their
   vivid colours. You can
   make out speckles that
   can even be counted
   individually at some
   points! This is obviously
   an effort to save on ink.
   If you need a better print,
   you’ll have to set the quality
   to Best—the images suddenly
   get their life back, which will
   leave you pleasantly surprised.
        The Brother MFC-215C and the Lex-                    Brother DCP-115 C
   mark P6250 are dearer than the Canon MP150
   by about Rs 1,000 (at Rs 7,990 and Rs 7,999 respec-
   tively). Black printing is better with the P6250, but
   it is still not in the league of the HP 5610 or even
   the lower-priced Canon MP150. The Lexmark is
   one of the fastest printers with just 11 seconds
   taken at the Normal setting. The 215C, like its
   little brother the 115C, took a lazy 26 seconds. But
   when it came to colour printing, the Lexmark pro-
   duced very visible bands, which did not go away
   even at the Best quality setting. The Brother 215C
   produced better colours, but with some specks
   visible in the Normal mode—an ink-saving com-
   promise again. The Best mode got the prints to
   look much better, though the specks could not be
   entirely eliminated. Black and white copy quality

    Canon PIXMA MP530
 his a heavy-duty MFD targeted those                 it all.
Tcopyisfunctions are all supported. atphotoswho wantspecialThe print, scan, fax are
  The MP530 is capable of printing          and has          features for this
purpose: the PictBridge feature lets you connect a compliant digital camera or
camcorder directly to the MFD. You can preview a photo in the 6.3 cm colour LCD
screen before printing it. There are five separate ink cartridges to print photos in
colours as close to those of the original image as possible. In addition to being
capable of printing on a variety of media, there is also an attachment that allows
you to print to CDs and DVDs.
    A 33.6 kbps modem allows you to send faxes at 200 x 200 dpi. It can receive
and store up to 150 pages of fax while you are away. Up to 40 numbers can be
stored and recalled as required. The Activity Report feature logs all faxes sent and
received from the MFD—a feature useful for system administrators.
    The scanner is a 48-bit flatbed and does its job at 1200 x 2400 dpi, which is
good enough for scanning fine details. The ADF can hold 30 pages. The copier can
be set to make up to 99 copies of a document, either in colour or black.
    Build quality is very good. The MP530 weighs 12.8 kg—a bit on the higher side
for an inkjet MFD. Printing was quite fast—it printed the first page in just seven
seconds, and it printed the test photo in an average time of 180 seconds. The
scanner performance, however, wasn’t spectacular, with average scan times, but
the quality of the prints was quite good.
    The Canon PIXMA MP530 is priced at Rs 20,995.
    + Fast Printing Speed
    – Slow Scanner Speed
    Price: Rs. 20,995

                                                                                       DIGIT JULY 2006   103
                                                    JULY 2006                                    JULY 2006                                      JULY 2006
        Scoreboard                                                                Home MFDs
  BRAND                                        Brother                 Epson               HP Officejet          Lexmark                 Brother               Brother
  MODEL                                        MFC-3240C               CX3700              4355 All-in-One       X3350                   DCP-115C              MFC-215C
  Features (Out of 40)                         27.35                   14.97               28.91                 19.63                   20.70                 24.70
  Printing Technology                          Piezoelectric           Piezoelectric       Thermal Inkjet        Thermal Inkjet          Piezoelectric         Piezoelectric
  Input Paper Tray Capacity                    50                      100                 100                   100                     100                   100
  Cartridges/Toner Included                    ✔                       ✔                   ✔                     ✔                       ✔                     ✔
  Number of Cartridges                         4                       4                   2                     2                       4                     4
  Maximum Optical Resolution (dpi)             600 x 1200              600 x 1200          1200 x 1200           2400 x 600              600 x 2400            600 x 2400
  Bit Depth                                    36                      48                  48                    48                      48                    48
  Scanner Type                                 Sheet-fed               Flatbed             Sheet-fed             Flatbed                 Flatbed               Flatbed
  Scan Area                                    NA                      A4                  NA                    A4                      A4 / Letter           A4 / Letter
  Scan to E-mail                               ✔                       ✖                   ✔                     ✖                       ✔                     ✔
  Automatic Document Feeder                    ✔                       ✖                   ✔                     ✖                       ✖                     ✖
  Option for B&W or Colour                     ✔                       ✔                   ✔                     ✔                       ✔                     ✔
  Enlarge/Reduce                               25 - 400%               Fit to Page Only    25 - 400%             25 - 400%               25 - 400%             25 - 400%
  Multiple Copying In Standalone Mode          99                      1                   200                   99                      99                    99
  Dialpad Provided                             ✔                       ✖                   ✔                     ✖                       ✖                     ✔
  Miscellaneous Features
  Weight (kg)                                  5.5                     5.8                  3.91                 4.5                     5.5                   5.5
  Dimensions (W x D x H) (mm)                  388 x 525 x 279         430 x 345 x 170      426 x 451 x 330      442 x 320 x 173         373 x 345 x 135       373 x 345 x 135
  Cable(s) Provided                            Power Cable             Power and Data Cable Power & Data Cable   Power & Data Cable      Power Cable           Power Cable
  Display Interface Type                       Mono LCD                None                 Mono LCD             Mono LCD                Mono LCD              Mono LCD
  Menu Ease of Use (So5)                       2                       0                    2.5                  2.5                     2.5                   2.5
  Build Quality
  Ruggedness of Flaps (So5)                    2.5                     2.5                 2                     2.5                     3                     3
  Overall Ruggedness (So5)                     3.75                    3.75                3                     3.5                     3.5                   3.5
  Moveable Parts in Cartridge Bay (So5)        3.25                    3.5                 3                     3                       3.25                  3.25
  Extra Features                               None                    None                Handset               PictBridge              Multi-card Reader     Multi-card Reader

  Performance (Out of 40 (Home) or 45 (Office)) 22.60                  21.05               22.17                 23.76                   24.87                 24.53
  Text: Draft/Normal (seconds)                    24 / 61              19 / 24             15 / 23               8 / 11                  17 / 26               26 / 62
  Combi-Document: Normal/Colour (seconds) 50 / 128                     93 / 250            68 / 158              38 / 67                 54 / 140              55 / 141
  Photo: (seconds)                                644                  643                 444                   293                     240                   441
  Image Quality - Combi Document (Normal)
  Text Print                                      3.5                  3                   3.75                  2.75                    2.5                   3.25
  Circles in Concentric Pattern                   3.25                 2.5                 3.25                  2.75                    3.25                  3.25
  Yellow Text on Black Background                 3.25                 2.5                 3                     3                       3.5                   3.25
  Quality of Reduced Photo                        2.75                 2.5                 3.25                  2.25                    2.75                  2.5
  Highlights on Red Berries                       2.75                 2.75                3.5                   2.75                    3                     3
  Details on Fruit                                2.75                 2.75                3                     2.75                    2.75                  3
  Image Quality - Photo (So5)
  Natural Colour of Skin                          3.25                 3.5                 3.5                   2.25                    3.25                  3.25
  Good Contrast in Dark Areas of Plant            3.5                  3.25                3.5                   3                       3                     3.25
  Clear Specular Effect on Bracelet               3.5                  3                   3.25                  2.75                    3.25                  3.5
  Overall Image not Overly Bright or Dark         3                    3                   3.5                   2.75                    3.25                  3.25
  Point Size Document (Normal Mode) (So5) 3.5                          3                   3.75                  3                       3                     3.5
  Black Scan at 200 dpi (seconds)                 8                    10                  13                    18                      18                    19
  Colour Scan at 600 dpi (seconds)                127                  120                 129                   138                     184                   173
  No. of boxes in Visible in IT8 card (out of 22) 18                   22                  18                    20                      20                    19
  Black Copy Quality (So5)/Speed (seconds) 3.25 / 23                   3 / 37              3 / 37                2.75 / 31               2.5 / 30              2.75 / 24
  Colour Copy Quality (So5)/Speed (seconds) 2.5 / 45                   3.5 / 97            3 / 72                2.25 / 45               2.75 / 43             2.5 / 42
  Price Index (Out of 20 (Home) or 15 (Office)) 11.44                  13.34               12.31                 16.00                   13.36                 7.51
  Price (Rs)                                      6,990                5,999               6,499                 4,999                   4,490                 7,990
  Final Score (Out of 100)                        61.39                49.36               63.39                 59.39                   58.93                 56.73

                                                   Fast scan speeds        None in             Fax with hand-        Good print speed;       Value for money       Fax feature
                                                   Expensive; only         particular          set; compact          PictBridge              Sub-par scan          Sub-par scan
                                                   sheet-fed scanner       No display          Only sheet-fed        No fax                  quality               quality
                                                                           interface           scanner

104      DIGIT JULY 2006
                                                                                                          Digital Business l Business Test
                                                          JULY 2006
Office MFDs                                                                                           HP Officejet 6318 All-in-One
  Canon                   Epson                    HP Officejet            Lexmark
                                                   5610 All-in-One
                                                                           22.74                  T   he HP Officejet 6318 All-in-One is targeted
                                                                                                      at small offices that need good performance
                                                                                                  at a price that is not too high.
  Thermal Inkjet          Piezoelectric            Thermal Inkjet          Thermal Inkjet              The printer unit is a thermal inkjet with a
  150                     100                      100                     100                    print resolution of 1200 x 1200 dpi. It has a
  ✔                       ✔                        ✔                       ✔                      specified duty cycle of 3,000 pages per month,
  4                       4                        2                       2                      which is quite adequate for a small office. The
                                                                                                  input tray can hold up to 100 sheets of plain
  1200 x 2400             1200 x 2400              1200 x 2400             1200 x 2400            paper, whereas the ADF can hold up to 35. You
  48                      48                       48                      48                     can directly print a photo via the PictBridge
  Flatbed                 Flatbed                  Flatbed AND Sheet-fed   Flatbed
                                                                                                  interface with a compliant camera. A variety of
  A4                                               A4                      A4
  ✖                       ✖                        ✔                       ✔
                                                                                                  memory cards are supported such as
  ✖                       ✖                        ✔                       ✖                      CompactFlash, Memory Stick (MS), MS Pro, MS
                                                                                                  Duo, Secure Digital, MMC and xD-Picture Card.
  ✔                       ✔                        ✔                       ✔                      The maximum card size that you can use here
  Fit to Page Only        Fit to Page Only         25 - 400%               25 - 400%              is 1 GB.
  9                       9                        100                     99                          The scanner unit consists of a sheet-fed as
                                                                                                  well as a flatbed scanner, with an optical scan
  ✖                       ✖                        ✔                       ✖                      resolution of 2400 x 4800 dpi—which is great
                                                                                                  for any purpose
  5.4                     6.8                      5.9                     4.8                    including OCR and
  443 x 381 x 181         430 x 354 x 181          435 x 418 x 235         434 x 333 x 178
                                                                                                  photo scanning.
  Power Cable             Power and Data Cable     Power and Data Cable    Power and Data Cable
  Mono LCD                Mono LCD                 Mono LCD                Colour LCD
                                                                                                  48-bit scanning
  1.5                     1.5                      2.5                     4                      ensures that all the
                                                                                                  colours of scanned
  2.5                     2.5                      2                       3.25                   photos are captured
  3                       3.75                     3.5                     3.5                    perfectly.
  3                       3.5                      3.25                    3.5                         The printer and
  PictBridge              Multi-card Reader,       None                    Multi-card Reader,     scanner combine to form the copier unit.
                          PictBridge                                       PictBridge             You can make up to 100 copies of an original
  29.34                   26.17                    24.70                   26.97                  document and can also digitally zoom from 25
                                                                                                  to 400 per cent. If the original document is
  8 / 10                  8 / 22                   16 / 21                 9 / 11                 smaller than the A4 size, which is the size of
  29 / 90                 25 / 90                  61 / 145                38 / 97
                                                                                                  the scanner glass, there’s an option to copy the
  223                                              376                     287
                                                                                                  document in such a way that it occupies
  3.75                    2.75                     4                       3.25                   maximum space in the A4 size copy.
  3.5                     2.5                      3.25                    3                           You can send and receive faxes at speeds
  3.25                    3                        3.5                     3.25                   up to 33.6 kbps (this figure can be lower
  2.5                     2.75                     3                       2.5                    depending on your telephone/fax line). A 120-
  2.5                     2.75                     3.25                    3                      page fax memory ensures that you receive
  2.75                    2.75                     3                       3                      faxes even when you are away from the unit. It
                                                                                                  can also be used as an automatic fax/answering
  3                       3.5                      3                       3                      machine, and 110 speed dial numbers can be
  3.5                     3.25                     3.25                    3.5                    stored in memory so that you can easily dial
  3.5                     3.25                     3.25                    3.25
                                                                                                  the required number at the touch of a button.
  3                       3.5                      3                       3.5
  3.75                    2.75                     4                       3.5
                                                                                                       There is also a facility to block junk faxes
                                                                                                  (faxes from spammers). In order to be able to
  20                      16                       16                      28                     use this facility, you need to subscribe to the
  75                      154                      116                     158                    caller ID service.
  22                      22                       18                      21                          As far as performance goes, this MFD was
                                                                                                  quite the average. It printed the text document
  3.5 / 25                3.5 / 38                 3 / 37                  3 / 25                 in 15 seconds, and the photo was printed in 168
  3.25 / 57               3.5 / 53                 2.5 / 73                2.5 / 39               seconds. Only an excellent print quality saved
  9.24                    6.67                     6.00                    7.50                   the day for this MFD.
  6,495                   8,999                    9,999                   7,999                       The build quality was quite rugged. The
  55.16                   49.06                    59.03                   57.21                  MFD is network-capable, which is an added
                                                                                                  bonus for small offices. The only gripe is that
                                                                                                  the trays seemed flimsy. Another issue was that
                                                                                                  there were only two cartridges in this printer:
                                                                                                  considering that it costs Rs 12,999, we expected
                                                                                                  more cartridges, which would have made it
       Excellent print        None in particular       Good performance;       Colour LCD; fast   more suited to printing photos.
       quality                No zoom or mem-          ADF                     printing                + Excellent Print Quality
       No zoom or mem-        ory card support         No memory card          No Fax                  – Average Print Speed
       ory card support                                support                                         Price: Rs. 12,999

                                                                                                                                      DIGIT JULY 2006   105
          Digital Business l Business Test
                                                                                                                      taken in a single go is only nine, while the others
            Canon PIXMA MP830                                                                                         offer 99. (The HP 5610 offers 100.) Only the
                                                                                                                      HP 5610 offers sheet feed for scanning, while all
        T    he Canon PIXMA MP830 supports print, scan, fax and copy functions. Like the
             MP530, this one is capable of printing photos. Its five-cartridge printing aims
        at enabling printing photos and images with life-like colours at a resolution of
                                                                                                                      the others make do with a flatbed. The Epson
                                                                                                                      CX4700 has only a minimal display, which shows
                                                                                                                      the number of copies set.
        9600 x 2100 dpi. In addition to PictBridge, the MP830 has an inbuilt card reader
                                                                                                                          A fax function with a dialpad is provided by
        that supports a variety of formats: CompactFlash, Micro Drive, SD, MMC, MS, MS
                                                                                                                      the HP 5610 and the Brother 215C. This is com-
        Pro, MS Duo, MS Pro Duo and XD. A photo can be previewed on the 6.3 cm colour
                                                                                                                      plemented by a dedicated fax button apart from
        LCD screen that swivels to suit your viewing angle. The CD/DVD printing feature
                                                                                                                      the copy and scan buttons. The other MFDs have
        lets you label the CDs and DVDs that you burn.
                                                                                                                      buttons for scanning and copying (separately for
             The 33.6 Kbps modem can receive and store up to 250 pages of fax while you
                                                                                                                      black and colour).
        are not near the unit. The fax operates without the necessity to connect to a PC.
                                                                                                                          The HP 5610 had flimsy paper trays that just
        You can store up to 100 fax numbers in the memory and eight one-touch-dial
                                                                                                                      about hold on to the unit: a gentle push and off
        numbers. The automatic document feeder (ADF) can automatically scan both
                                                                                                                      comes the tray. The CX4700’s scanner cover can
        sides of the page without the need for intervention. Broadcast, delayed, and
                                                                                                                      be simply lifted off its body—we wonder why it
        scheduled faxes are the other features available.
                                                                                                                      could not be fastened somewhere. As far as the
             The scanner unit of the MFD is a 48-bit CCD, and can scan at 2400 x 4800 dpi.
                                                                                                                      overall build quality goes, the Epson CX4700 is
        The ADF can hold 35 sheets of paper. The copier unit can scan up to 99 copies of a
                                                                                                                      compact and also more rugged.
        document, and can also print the copy with a zoom of 25 to 400 per cent.
             As expected, the MP830 printed at blistering speeds. The first black and white
        text document printed in five seconds flat! Similarly, the photo printed in just a
                                                                                                                      Our Conclusion
                                                                                                                      If we were to consider performance alone, the
        little over two minutes. Scanning was also very fast, and the
                                                                                                                      Canon MP150 would have been the clear winner
        full colour photo was scanned in a mere 29
                                                                                                                      due to its superb print quality and speed. But
        seconds. The overall scan quality was good, and
                                                                                                                      life isn’t that simple for MFDs—there is the price
        the print quality was amazing even in Draft mode.
                                                                                                                      factor and feature set to consider. The HP 5610
        Sadly, the Canon PIXMA MP830 is priced very
                                                                                                                      looks good on the spec sheets and performs just
        high: Rs 26,999.
                                                                                                                      as well. With good printing quality, the Digit Best
             + Excellent Speed and Quality, Duplex ADF
                                                                                                                      Buy Gold goes to the HP 5610. At Rs 4,490, the
             – None
                                                                                                                      Brother 115C is second on the charts offering
             Price: Rs. 26,999
                                                                                                                      value for money, thus earning the Digit Best Buy
                                                                                                                      Silver award.
          is acceptable when seen from a distance, and just                                                                Coming close to second place are the Lex-
          about passable when viewed closely. Colour                                                                  mark P6250 and the Brother MFC-215C. Both are
          copying was bad on both the P6250 and the 215C.                                                             priced the same, and the P6250 scores in per-
              Next up was the Epson CX4700 at Rs 8,999. It                                                            formance while the 215C makes up in the fea-
          took 22 seconds in Text mode, there were no vis-                                                            tures. If there were to be a Bronze award, these
          ible smudges or gaps in print, but the print looked                                                         two would tie for it.
          dull, as if not enough ink had been deposited on
          the paper. Copying took 38 seconds for black and                                                            FOR PROFESSIONAL USE:
          white and 53 seconds for colour. The photo                                                                  PHOTO MFDS ABOVE RS 10,000
          printout could have been brighter and more vivid.                                                           The target market for this segment is businesses
              The most expensive MFD in this category,                                        JULY 2006               looking for bulk printing and network printing.
          the HP Officejet 5610 All-in-One, is just                                                                   These MFDs are heavy-duty machines with
          a rupee short of the 10,000 mark.                                                                           extensive features. Naturally, price is of the least
          Through priced similarly, there is                                                                          importance in this category, and it goes without
          some difference in the print quality                                                                        saying that the most expensive inkjet MFDs land
          of the CX4700 and the 5610, with the                                                                        up in this category.
          5610 being the better of the two. In
          fact, it can boast of some of the best                                                                      Performance
          print qualities in this segment. In the                                                                     Opening this segment is the Brother MFC-410CN
          copy test, however, the 5610 was disap-                                                                     and the Canon PIXMA MP450 at Rs 10,490 and
          pointing, given its good print quality and                                                                  Rs 10,995 respectively. The 410CN, like other
          also its positioning in this price segment.                                                                 Brother MFDs, shows gaps in monochrome print,
                                                                                                                      which appear as lines under the Normal setting.
          Build Quality And Ease Of Use                                                Brother MFC-5840CN             The colour print loses out on detailing, which
          The Canon MP150 and the Epson CX4700 do not                                                                 can only be regained at the Best quality setting.
          have a zoom function except for the “Fit to Page”                                                           The MP450 takes a blistering eight seconds for a
          feature. This is disappointing: all the other MFDs                                                          Draft print and nine for a Normal, with the num-
          provide for a 25 to 400 per cent reduction or                                                               bers for the 410CN being 20 and 29 seconds.
          enlargement. The number of copies that can be                                                                   Copying is certainly not a feature the
                                                                                                                      Brother 410CN can brag about—at least in black
            Contact Sheet                                         Inkjet MFD                                          and white mode; the quality is so bad, it looks
                 Company                              Phone          E-Mail                        Website            like someone took a bad photograph of your doc-
      Brother   Godrej & Boyce Mfg Co Ltd             022-55961609    nad@godrej.com              www.brother.com
                                                                                                                      ument and then took a bad printout of the
      Canon     Canon India Pvt Ltd                   0124-516 0000   info@canon.co.in            www.canon.co.in     photo! In colour mode, the text quality is a lot
      Epson     Epson India Pvt Ltd                   080-30515000    rajeshp@eid.epson.co.in     www.epson.co.in     better, but the graphics seem to contain less of
      HP        Hewlett-Packard India Sales Pvt Ltd   0124-2566111    ashwini-k.aggarwal@hp.com   www.hp.co.in        every colour—essentially the “washed out”
      Lexmark   Lexmark International India Pvt Ltd   022-26057744    sandeepk@lexmark.com        www.lexmark.co.in   effect. The MP450’s copy appears almost as good

106       DIGIT JULY 2006
                                                     JULY 2006                                     JULY 2006
      Scoreboard                                                            Professional MFDs
BRAND                                          Brother               Brother                 Brother                 Canon                Canon
MODEL                                          MFC-410CN             MFC-620CN               MFC-5840CN              PIXMA MP450          PIXMA MP500
Features (Out of 40)                           26.94                 30.80                   30.68                   22.24                22.03
Printing Technology                            Piezoelectric         Piezoelectric           Piezoelectric           Thermal Inkjet       Thermal Inkjet
Input Paper Tray capacity                      100                   100                     350                     100                  150
Cartridges/Toner Included                      ✔                     ✔                       ✔                       ✔                    ✔
Number of Cartridges                           4                     4                       4                       4                    5
Maximum Optical Resolution (dpi)               600 x 2400            600 x 2400              1200 x 2400             1200 x 2400          1200 x 2400
Bit Depth                                      36                    36                      48                      48                   48
Scanner Type                                   Flatbed               Flatbed AND Sheet-fed   Flatbed AND Sheet-fed   Flatbed              Flatbed
Scan Area                                      A4                    A4                      A4                      A4                   A4
Scan to E-mail                                 ✔                     ✔                       ✔                       ✔                    ✔
Automatic Document Feeder                      ✖                     ✔                       ✔                       ✖                    ✖
Option for B/W or Colour                       ✔                     ✔                       ✔                       ✔                    ✔
Enlarge/Reduce                                 25 - 400%             25 - 400%               25 - 400%               25 - 400%            25 - 400%
Multiple Copying in Standalone Mode            99                    99                      99                      99                   99
Dialpad Provided                               ✔                     ✔                       ✔                       ✖                    ✖
Miscellaneous Features
Weight (kg)                                    5.5                   6                       10                      6.2                  9.6
Dimensions (W x D x H) (mm)                    373 x 345 x 135       373 x 345 x 165         432 x 340 x 460         417 x 443 x 185      448 x 426 x 205
Display Interface Type                         Mono LCD              Mono LCD                Mono LCD                Colour LCD           Colour LCD
Menu Ease of Use (So5)                         2.5                   2.5                     2.5                     4                    4
Ethernet Port                                  ✔                     ✔                       ✔                       ✖                    ✖
Build Quality
Ruggedness of Flaps (So5)                      3                     2.75                    2.75                    3                    3
Overall Ruggedness (So5)                       3.5                   3.5                     3.5                     3.75                 3.75
Moveable Parts in Cartridge Bay (So5)          3.25                  3.5                     3.5                     3.5                  3.5
Extra Features                                 Multi-card Reader     Multi-card Reader       Multi-card Reader       Multi-card Reader,   Multi-card Reader,
                                                                                                                     PictBridge           PictBridge
Performance (Out of 50)                        27.67                 25.57                   27.09                   31.84                30.05
Text: Draft/Normal (seconds)                   20 / 29               42 / 62                 22 / 33                 8/9                  12 / 15
Combi-Document: Normal/Colour (seconds)        54 / 163              53 / 139                52 / 135                29 / 100             23 / 27
Photo: (seconds)                               405                   406                     376                     105                  168
Image Quality - Combi-Document (So5)
Text Print                                     3.5                   3.5                     3.5                     3.75                 4
Circles in Concentric Pattern                  3.25                  3.5                     3.25                    3                    3
Yellow Text on Black Background                2.75                  3                       3                       3.25                 3.25
Quality of Reduced Photo                       2.75                  3.25                    3.25                    2.5                  2.75
Highlights on Red Berries                      3                     2.75                    2.75                    2.5                  3
Image Quality - Photo (So5)
Natural Colour of Skin                         3.25                  3.25                    3                       3                    3.25
Good Contrast in Dark Areas of Plant           3.25                  3                       3                       3.25                 3.5
Overall Image not Overly Bright or Dark        3                     3.25                    3                       3                    3.25
Point Size Document (Normal Mode) (So5)        3.5                   3.5                     3.5                     3.75                 4
Black Scan at 200 dpi (seconds)                15                    17                      15                      20                   17
Colour Scan at 600 dpi (seconds)               167                   121                     129                     76                   74
No. of Boxes Visible in IT8 Card (Out of 22)   20                    21                      21                      22                   22
Black Copy Quality (So5)/Speed (seconds)       2.75 / 22             2.75 / 33               3.5 / 26                3.5 / 25             3 / 120
Colour Copy Quality (So5)/Speed (seconds)      3 / 39                2.5 / 41                3 / 45                  3.25 / 75            3 / 123
Price Index (Out of 10)                        9.06                  6.83                    6.51                    8.64                 5.59
Price (Rs)                                     10,490                13,900                  14,590                  10,995               16,995
Final Score (Out of 100)                       63.67                 63.21                   64.28                   62.72                57.67

                                                   Inexpensive;          Network-ready           High input tray          Good print           Excellent print
                                                   network-ready         Slow text print         capacity;                quality              quality and speed
                                                   Poor black copy       speed                   network-ready            No ADF               No ADF;
                                                   quality                                       Bulky                                         expensive
                                                                                Digital Business l Business Test
as the original, leaving no room for complaint.                         no network port, something missing on the
It took 25 seconds for a black copy and 75 sec-                         MP450 as well.
onds for colour.
    Next in line were the MFC-620CN and 5840CN                          Build Quality And Usability
from Brother at Rs 13,900 and Rs 14,590 respec-                         The three Brother MFDs all have a fax dialpad
tively. These were the only two in this category                        and networking capability, which makes them
with a sheet-feed mechanism for scanning—apart                          better suited for an office environment. The pos-
from the standard flatbed. Being up in this price                       itive feeling doesn’t persist when we looked at
range, one would have expected better quality                           their build quality: the plastic flaps were not as
from them, but they didn’t seem any better than                         good as what one would expect of MFDs in such
the 410CN with black printouts. The 5840CN is a                         a high price range. The scanner cover does little
pleasant change, with colour prints that are good                       to inspire confidence in the longevity of the
for the most part. It also boasts of the                JULY 2006       device; ditto for the paper feed tray. Only the
highest paper capacity: 350                                             5840CN exudes a rugged feel. The Canon MP450
sheets. Ink saving takes its toll,                                      and MP500 seem better built than the Brothers,
bringing up visible specks in                                           but we would have liked them better if they had
Normal mode. The copy mode,                                             not been shaky. All the devices here have dedi-
while not bad, could have been                                          cated scan and copy buttons, making for ease
better on MFDs in this segment,                                         of use. The Brother MFDs offer a fax button to
especially with the Brother                                             ably support their fax keypads. Display, how-
5840CN, which boasts of a higher                                        ever, is a simple monochrome on the Brothers,
scanning resolution and bit depth                                       while the Canons offer colour LCDs.
than its… brothers.
    At the top of the line sits the                                     Our Conclusion
Canon MP500, which has, by far, the                                     The Brothers have all the glory in the segment,
best print quality on offer here. It uses                               with the MFC-5480CN taking the Digit Best Buy
five colours rather than the standard               Brother MFC-410CN   Gold despite being the second-costliest device
four. In Normal text print, there were no                               here. Its good feature set and performance make
smudges or gaps to be picked up even by a lens.                         up for the price. The MFC-410CN takes second
Under Normal colour printing, speckles are vis-                         place—the Digit Best Buy Silver crown, with
ible. This can be gotten rid of by using the Best                       a lower price tag, a good feature set, and value
quality setting. Colour copying takes 123 sec-                          for money.
onds, and what you get is the best copy quality                                               jayesh_limaye@thinkdigit.com
in this segment. Our only gripe is that there’s                                              kailas_shastry@thinkdigit.com

                                                                                                            DIGIT JULY 2006   109
                                            Live Chat Or Dead?
                                   How effective is the “Chat with us NOW!” button on your site?

      Live chat is more convenient                                    We found that the idea was
      than addressing queries over                                    wrong for us from the get-go
      the phone
                                                                       Innovision India, established in 1997, is a Web design and
      Kumbh Design is an Ahmedabad-based design firm                   graphics firm based in Gurgaon. Their services also include
      specialising in Web site design, logos, corporate identities     search engine optimisation and Web maintenance. In addi-
      and brochures. Their clients, based in India and abroad, are     tion to their Indian clientele, they cater to clients from the
      a mixed set, ranging from technology companies to fan sites.     USA, Canada, Germany and Holland, among others.

      A                                                                W
            bout seven months ago, we decided to                                e decided to implement a Live Chat service
            incorporate a Live Chat system powered by                           on our Web site to deal with queries from
            Boldchat into our site. It was to give us direct                    prospective customers and generate busi-
      contact with visitors and prospective customers.                 ness by converting them to clients.

                                       “We’d definitely
                                                                               “It certainly wasn’t
                                                                                profitable to have
                                       implementing a Live Chat
                                                                            someone to constantly
                                       service to other
                                                                                monitor the chat”

                                                                                                            Vishal Verma
      Ramesh Patel                                                                                          Founder/President,
      Founder, Kumbh Design Inc.                                                                            Innovision India

                                                                           We found that the idea was wrong for us from
          Being an online business that caters to clients              the get-go. Our business doesn’t depend on location,
      from all over the world, we needed a simple,                     and a large number of people who contact us for our
      convenient system to interact with people. Live chat             services are from abroad. Due to time zone differ-
      is certainly more convenient for us than addressing              ences, their working hours rarely matched with
      queries over the phone, and more so for our                      ours, and they couldn’t take advantage of the Live
      customers. Ever since we implemented the service,                Chat system—they prefer to contact us via e-mail or
      we’ve seen a definite increase in the number of                  telephone. When they do need to chat with us,
      people approaching us for queries. We’ve even                    clients prefer other, more feature-rich chat tools
      converted a number of these into clients.                        such as Yahoo! and MSN Messenger.
          We are a small team right now, and monitoring                    Another concern for us was the waste of man-
      the chat in rotation works for us. However, as we get            power. It certainly wasn’t profitable to have someone
      bigger and the queries increase, having someone                  to constantly monitor the chat—on slow days, the
      dedicated to addressing queries will be a good idea.             operators would end up waiting hours for nothing.
          Would we recommend implementing a Live Chat                      Any business looking to implement such a sys-
      service to other companies in the same line of                   tem needs to take a look at their target audience
      business? Definitely! It makes us approachable to                and their timings. Since the chat can be online only
      customers who aren’t local and/or don’t want to be               during working hours, it is important to know
      inconvenienced by having to call us up, especially for           whether prospective clients will visit your site dur-
      minor matters. We are more than satisfied with the               ing that time. Only then does it justify the time
      effect it has had on the way we do business, and we              investment required.
      have no intention of changing that.
                                                                                                      As told to Nimish Chandiramani

110   DIGIT JULY 2006
                                                                                Digital Leisure l Touched by Tech


115 Game on           118 Digit ’s Believe 132 Pink... For
                          It Or Not!           Posh?
                                                                         Technology Beyond Work

               Touched By Tech

               Sight And Sound
                                                    visually handicapped all over       spread that to not know how to
The visually   Jyotsna Rege                         the country.                        use them is a big impediment to
                                                        Upon first thought, it sounds   gaining employment. The insti-

                      rtificial limbs. Cochlear     incredible that the blind can be    tute therefore hopes that the
rely on               implants.     Pacemakers.     taught to use computers. The        ability to use computers with
hearing and           People with disabilities      concept is simple, however: have    the help of JAWS will make a dif-
               have benefited tremendously          the software read out everything    ference in gaining employment
touch to       from these marvels of technol-       on the screen. JAWS does just       for the students,” says Vikas
learn, work,   ogy. But entire eye transplants      that: everything that is typed—     Joseph, head of the Institute.
               apart, a cure for blindness still    word for word, letter for letter—       The courses are of a six-
and play.      seems far away. So how is society    it reads it all out and helps the   month duration. Tanya Balsara,
Enhancing      to help the blind lead lives that    user understand what they've        who herself learnt computing
their          could be considered “normal”?        just done and what actions are      with the help of JAWS, teaches
                   Most learning happens via        available.                          the courses and conducts the
abilities is   association. As children, we see a                                       examinations as well. The
a software     fruit red in colour and round as     Effective Empowerment               students are anywhere between
               an orb, and we hear “apple.” The     The MN Banaji Institute at          18 and 45 years old. Balsara says,
called JAWS    next time we see the object, the     Mumbai for the Blind is one of      “It's a pleasure to teach them.
               mind connects the image to the       the institutes that teach basic     Because of my own disability, I

                                                                                                                             Photograph Sandeep Patil
                                                                                                                             Imaging Pradip Ingale
               word—now etched in our               courses in computers. The visu-     personally understand their
               memory—and we know it is an          ally handicapped here have long     confusion in not comprehending
               apple. Association, however, is      been trained in various indus-      a particular detail, so I can take
               not limited to the sense of sight:   tries such as weaving and stitch-   added care to explain features
               the visually handicapped use         ing so they can work to support     and tasks.”
               touch and hearing to discern,        themselves financially, but it is
               make associations, and learn.        only recently that an institute
                                                    for the blind has been opened to
               Using Their Ears                     instruct them in the use of com-
               One way of empowering the            puters. “To learn and be a part
               blind is to teach them to use        of the social world is a
               computers: this not only enrich-     human need. Besides,
               es their lives, it also helps them   the use of computers
               gain employment. A piece of          is so wide-
               software is bringing light to
               thousands of lives: called JAWS,
               it is a screen reader, and is used
               by most training centres for the
      Digital Leisure l Touched By Tech
                              Balsara was a student of the     employment for the visually          courses that teach program-
                          Indian Association for the Visu-     handicapped, since they can          ming, medical transcription
                          ally Handicapped (IAVH), located     interact with customers and use      and call centre training—all of
                          at the University Club House         JAWS to read information off the     which are gateways to employ-
                          near Churchgate station in           computers.” He, however, adds:       ment. The courses have a nomi-
                          Mumbai. The IAVH has been            “The software is expensive—Rs        nal fee associated, and potential
                          involved in imparting basic          44,000—and this is a possible        students have certain criteria to
                          computer knowledge to the visu-      deterrent to potential employers.    meet. For example, to enrol for
                          ally handicapped since 2000. The     Besides, there are certain other     the advanced computer opera-
                          students, like those at the MN       things to be taken care of. For      tions course, a candidate has to
                          Banaji Institute, are taught MS      example, the earphones have to       have a grasp of the basic opera-
                          Office and the use of the Internet   be placed in the right slot; it is   tions on a computer, and also
                          in a six-month course. The IAVH      difficult for the blind to find a    needs to clear an eligibility test.
                          allows the students to access the    slot. We need to be sensitive to         Wouldn't setting preliminary
                          Internet; the computers there        such matters even as we prepare      requirements deter the visually
                          have JAWS installed. Material in     them to be independent.”             impaired from pursuing such
                          Braille is also provided.                                                 courses? “We do not just plan to
                                                               A Boon For The Blind                 train them, but impart thorough
                                                               Ram Agarwal, president of the        working knowledge so that they
                                                               IAVH, says, “JAWS is designed to     are prepared for work in the soft-
                                                               complement MS Word. But it is        ware industry,” says Charudatta
                                                               user-friendly when it comes to       Jadhav, project manager for soft-
                                                               Skype as well. Now, even Yahoo!      ware solutions at GTL. Jadhav
                                                               has configured itself such that      also oversees the work at the
                                                               the screen reader can read off       Centre. “We plan to prepare indi-
                                                               the pages of the site. The soft-     viduals so that they can compete
                                                               ware is American, and when           with other candidates for posi-
                                                               JAWS was introduced, users had       tions. The idea of having require-
                                                               to cope with the differences in      ments is to prepare the visually
                                                               pronunciation. But today, the        handicapped for the seriousness
                                                               software is designed with an         of the situation.”
                                                               Indian voice called “Sangeeta,”
                                                               which has greatly eased the          A Helping Hand
                                                               problem.                             Frank Fernandes, head for CSR
                                                                   It is important for the blind    (Corporate Social Responsibility)
                                                               to gain mastery over the             at GTL, talks about their plans
                                                               keyboard, and there is another       to develop a screen reader soft-
      ‘Each one teach one’ is the motto for some               software the IAVH uses—the Talk-     ware very much like JAWS. If
                                                               ing Typing Teacher—which helps       there will be a difference, it is in
                                                               students acquaint themselves         the price. Fernandes says, “JAWS
                          The Keyboard Is Key                  thoroughly with keyboard func-       is expensive, which is some-
                          A screen reader cannot accom-        tions.                               thing that anyone who is visual-
                          plish everything the blind need,         Besides helping the visually     ly impaired or who hires a visu-
                          of course, but it helps. To begin    handicapped gain employment,         ally impaired person does not
                          with, the visually handicapped       which is the primary aim, there      miss. They all are put to incon-
                          cannot use the mouse. All com-       are other benefits associated        venience and strained financial-
                          mands and shortcuts are there-       with the use of JAWS. For exam-      ly. Hence, we're planning to cre-
                          fore taught on the keyboard.         ple, Braille books can be cumber-    ate software that can be
                          They are also familiarised with      some; with JAWS, the blind can       obtained for just about Rs
                          the various parts of a typical       easily read e-books and e-jour-      5,000.” The GTLF plans to use
                          computer. For example, after         nals.                                this software for purely philan-
                          being explained what a mother-                                            thropic reasons, and hence will
                          board and a CPU do, they actu-       In The Real-World                    not be marketing it.
                          ally hold the components, feel       While the two institutes men-            Besides training, the CSR
                          the grids and bumps on the sur-      tioned above do not charge their     activities of GTL include helping
                          face of the devices, and get a       students, there are a few organi-    the blind play computer chess:
                          feel for what they are. Once they    sations that do. The GTL             the company has developed a
                          have the tactile idea in place,      Foundation (GTLF) is one such        software called Talk 64, which
                          association with the concept         charitable trust that set up an      can read chess software.
                          becomes easy.                        advanced computer training               With evolving technology
                              After getting up to speed with   centre for the visually impaired     and continuous efforts being
                          the use of the keyboard, typing      at Wadala, Mumbai, in mid-           channelled towards developing
                          to and reading from the              2005. The institute teaches not      software for the handicapped,
                          computer screen is easy, because,    just basic computer operation        the disabled can be aided
                          as we've mentioned, JAWS reads       with the help of JAWS, but also      towards their goals—goals at the
                          aloud the letters, words and         has a “train-the-trainer” pro-       same level as those lucky enough
                          sentences on the screen.             gram for someone who is              to be able to perceive the world
                              Joseph explains, “We see         already teaching others how to       through five senses.
                          BPOs as a possible place of          operate computers, besides                     readersletters@jasubhai.com

124   DIGIT JULY 2006
Digital Leisure l Game On

                     From The Shadows
                        I t The Light
                   pellforce 2: Shadow Wars       acter in RPG style, and his          complete quests and explore
                   provides great divergence      entire army in RTS fashion.          some more, very RPG-ish!
                   from both beloved genres       Character evolution is deep,             The epic single player sto-
              (RTS and RPG). Yet it’s this com-   but not as much as a dedicated       ryline adds a good deal to
              bination that’s thrillingly and     RPG. with regular fighter/           the gameplay, while the
              intriguingly addictive!             archer and mage classes. The         actual game experience is
                  Dark clouds threaten as the     skill tree is highly hierarchical.   engrossing enough to be a
              Shadows team up with the dark       There’s a huge variety in equip-     winner all by itself.
              elves, and advance steadily         ment available, with a virtually         Multiplayer hasn’t been
              towards the Kingdoms of Light.      unlimited inventory system.          ignored either, with the full
              It’s up to you—a Shaikan war-           Missions are very diverse, at    campaign available for play co-
              rior—to save the world.             times typically RTS-esque, other     op style for up to 3 players, mul-
                                                  times very RPG-like—such as          tiplayer battles are also possi-
              Gameplay                            when exploring the countryside       ble against human opponents.
              Spellforce 2 blends the RTS and     with just your party. The maps
              RPG genres extremely well—          are very non-linear, encourag-       Sights And Sounds
              you’ll control your avatar char-    ing you to explore, return to        The world of Eo comes to life
                                                                                       beautifully with the spectacular
                                                                                       Spellforce 2 engine. The graph-
                                                                                       ics rock! Character animation is
                                                                                       top class, (even NPC characters
                                                                                       and units), movements are very
                                                                                       lifelike, while the environ-
                                                                                       ments are simply breathtaking.
                                                                                           Battles are very well animat-
                                                                                       ed, with just the right touch of
                                                                                       blood, and the spell and special
                                                                                       feat effects look awesome! The
                                                                                       game has a nice soundtrack with
                                                                                       some voice acting is good, the
                                                                                       sounds during battle are particu-
                                                                                       larly notable, with the clangs of
                                                                                       blade on shield, and the whoosh
                                                                                       of a fire spell incinerating all
                                                                                       those who oppose you.

                                                                                       This Spell Forces You To
                                                                                       An epic storyline, Gameplay that
                                                                                       involves you with a near perfect
                                                                                       blend of genres, all this with
                                                                                       swanky graphics and engaging
                                                                                       gameplay make Spellforce 2
                                                                                       Shadow Wars a must play
                                                                                       regardless of whether you’re a
                                                                                       fan of either genres or not.


                                                                      Rating:        9/10
                                                                      Publisher:     JoWood Games
                                                                      Developer:     Aspyr / Phenomic
                                                                      Genre:         RTS/RPG
                                                                      System Requirements:
                                                                      Pentium 4 1.6 GHz, 512 MB RAM, 128 MB
                                                                      Direct X 9.0 compliant video card

                                                                                                           DIGIT JULY 2006   115
      Digital Leisure l Game On

                                   The Woes Of Urban Warfare

                            f you’re sick of all the World   anyone! Instead, you’ll be giving    is quite a pain. You will be com-
                            War II games but are still       soldiers a rough “fire zone” with-   manding a maximum of four
                            fascinated by being in a war-    in which they will eliminate the     teams, and thankfully you don’t
                        zone, Full Spectrum Warrior:         enemies. An addition over its        need to keep switching teams to
                        Ten Hammers (FSW: TH), the           predecessor is the ability to        call them to a location—if you
                        sequel to Full Spectrum              “Precision Fire” from behind         have one team selected, you can
                        Warrior, is probably for you.        your team member’s shoulder—a        command the rest to your loca-
                        Set in the fictitious country        decidedly fun feature, and quite     tion in no time. However, there’s
                        Zekistan, FSW: TH tells the          deadly for your foes. The trade-     no guarantee they won’t be shot
                        story of UN peacekeeping             off is that it makes your soldier    before they get there. The nature
                        troops fighting for control of       more vulnerable to enemy fire,       of the controls hampers any
                        the only pass through the Tien-      and when your men can be             quick reactions you may think of
                        Hamir (the Ten Hammers)—the          downed by just two or three          having—so even if an enemy
                        unforgiving mountain range           shots, this is one feature you       saunters into your line of fire,
                        that cuts through the country.       need to use with caution.            you’ll still be fumbling while he
                        After overthrowing its dictator,         Visually, FSW: TH looks          leisurely decides on where to
                        the forces must now fight the        good, but there’s really nothing     take cover. The lack of control
                        disgruntled citizens of the land     special here that we didn’t          over your soldiers’ firing causes
                        to maintain peace in the region      expect already. Every now and        mounting frustration and bore-
                        (hmm…sound familiar?).               then you’ll see seams in the 3D      dom, more so when you can’t
                            You will be controlling up to    models—something that didn’t         have them track a moving
                        four teams of four soldiers          go down too well with us.            enemy.
                        each—the Team Leader, a                  With its team-strategy-meets-        Try this if you’re bored of
                        Rifleman,       an      Automatic-   third-person-shooter approach,       the same old war-based FPS or
                        Rifleman and a Grenadier. The        FSW: TH could have been a really     strategy games and want to try
                        intention is quite Commandos-        great game, if it weren’t let down   something new, but casual
                        ish, with strong emphasis on tac-    by its clunky interface. Getting     gamers are bound to tire of this
                        tics rather than all-out shooting.   used to the controls is no mean      quite swiftly.
                        In fact, it’s all tactical—you’ll    task, and even then, moving your
                        never directly be shooting at        troops long distances, RTS-style,    nimish_chandiramani@thinkdigit.com

                                                                                                   Rating: 6/10
                                                                                                   Minimum System Requirements:
                                                                                                   1.5 GHz processor, 256 MB RAM,
                                                                                                   DirectX 9.0b compatible
                                                                                                   GeForce 3 (or better) Graphics
                                                                                                   Developer: Pandemic
                                                                                                   Publisher: THQ
                                                                                                   Distributor: E-Xpress
                                                                                                   Contact: 022 - 2885 0245
                                                                                                   Price: Rs. 699

116   DIGIT JULY 2006
Digital Leisure l Game On

                            The Game’s Afoot,
                     ased on the insanely popular CSI TV series (the original one, based in Las Vegas), CSI: 3

              B      Dimensions of Murder has you as the new CSI (Crime Scene Investigator) on the team,
                     solving some of the most difficult crimes in Las Vegas with some forensic science, detective
              work, common sense and a little help from your friends.
                  The game has you solving five different cases, our favourite one being the one with the murder
              of a big game company boss at the game s fictitious version of E3 (the Electronic Entertainment
              Expo) heated opinions on the morality of violence in games, even broaching the subject of Why
              can t we all just play happy-fuzzy games?
                  In each case, you need to build an Evidence Trinity         a tool used by real-life CSIs to form a
              triangular link between the victim, the crime scene and the suspect. Accompanying you on your sojourns
              will be one of the original CSI team, asking the questions that you may or may not think of, but are
              crucial to the progression of the plot like revealing the shady past of a suspect.
                  The point-and-click interface of this game after dozens of recent shooter, strategy and
              adventure releases is oddly refreshing. There is undoubted appeal in using your brain more than
              your hands, and use your brain you must. You will be going through the standard CSI procedure
              examining and searching the crime scene, analyzing evidence in the lab, and finally scoring warrants
              from the Brass to question, search or arrest suspects. While getting your criminal doesn t require
              you to be Sherlock Holmes, you can t sail through cases without paying close attention and
              exercising those gray cells a bit. When we played it with dulled senses in the dying hours of the day,
              missions took an average of an hour and a half, so don t expect to be stuck to this one for long.
                                                                       lig                       r
                  For such a recent release, CSI: 3DoM looks appa l n . The 3D counterpats of the real actors
              should have looked much better. However, when you consider its light system requirements, you see
              the sense in it all this game was made to be enjoyed by anyone with a half-decent PC hardcore
              gamer or not. It s saving grace is the voice acting, which is brilliant for the suspects you question,
              though a little bland for the original CSI cast. Overall, this isn t a title you should crave, but if you re
              looking for a break from the other genres, pluck this one off the shelves.

              nimish_chandiramani@ thinkdigit.com

              Rating: 8 1 ; Developer: Tel ltale Games; Publisher: Ubisoft
              Distributor: E-Xpress Interactive; Conta t (022) 2885 0245; Price: Rs 699

              Minimum System Requirements   :
              1 GHz Processor, 64 MB DirectX 8.1 Compatible Graphics Card, 256 MB RAM

                                                                                                            DIGIT JULY 2006   117
      Digital Leisure l Weird Products

         Digit’s Believe It Or Not!
       Innovation is alive and kicking…

                                                                                Bad Carma
         ure there’s a lot of crazy people out there, but
         just how crazy? Take a look at these inven-
         tions, products and random stuff they’ve                               Because people are liable to start thinking for when
      come up with, and you’ll know just how much…                              their television sets are switched off, someone
                                                                                decided to cover a Mercedes SL with diamonds. Keep
                                                                                the TV on!
      Barbie Gets A Head Of Herself                                             www.leftlanenews.com/2006/05/15/diamond-covered-
      In the summer of 2005,
      Ska King Cody of the b3ta
      forums mortally assaulted
      and gutted his Barbie doll
      (yes, he had one). He then
      declared to no one in
      particular: “Gentlemen, we
      can rebuild her. We have
      the technology,” and
      promptly stuffed a USB
      drive into her head-bereft
      body. You can brush my hair;
      behead me everywhere, imagination—life is your creation…
      Batteries not needed.
                                                                                Finding Nemo
                                   Water Time You Got?                          In some morbid way, this
                                                                                invention is sure to balance
                                   The first implement that Earth’s pioneer     the karma of flushing your
                                   time travellers brought back from the        pet goldfish down the
                                   future was this clock, seemingly powered     bowls—the Fish ‘n’ Flush is a
                                   by two parts hydrogen and one part           fish aquarium embedded
                                oxygen. Gasp. A wiser man than us once          into the flush tank of your
                              said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is    toilet. Pesky guests are sure
                            indistinguishable from magic,” a phenomenon         to freak out and flee scream-
                            this clock aptly displays: fill the liquid reser-   ing; children might be
                            voirs located at its back with water, and an        tempted to go investigate
                            internal converter (a flux capacitor?) strips the   further. PETA is advised that
                            liquid of its electrons and powers this devil’s     the fish are safe from being
                            own machine. Like Black Voodoo Magic. Also          sucked down into the sewer
                            works with beer!                                    system as they reside in a
                            www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/lights/757e/           separate compartment that surrounds the actual
                                                                                toilet tank. We would like an option that will show-
                                                                                case desert scorpions within the flush tank; or
                                                                                puppies apparently drowning.

                                                                                one. This “Digital Clock T-Shirt” utilises an elec-
      No Time For This Shirt                                                    tro-luminescent panel in front to display the
                                                                                current time. The four AAA batteries that power
      Altogether Andrews got tired of
                                                                                the unit are cleverly hidden within a companion
      spilling hot beverages on self, every
                                                                                compartment and are rumoured to last between
      time someone asked him the time.
                                                                                12 and 36 hours depending on the flashing
      With fire in his soul and a song in
                                                                                mode selected.
      his heart, he set out to build this
      incredible machine—an invention to                                        www.latestbuy.com.au/digital_clock_tshirt.html
      serve one’s needs, if there ever was

                                                                                                             Illustrations Pradip Ingale and Pravin Warhokar

118   DIGIT JULY 2006
                                                                                            Digital Leisure l Weird Products
                                                            Jenny Phone Home
Quantum Rock
                                                            Jenny L Chowdhury, a B.S. in Electrical
Dustin Carr, grad student                                   Engineering and a member of the IEEE, has
in physics, and Harold                                      created what we consider the present-day version
Craighead, professor of                                     of the pocket-less pants: The Cell Atlantic
applied and engineering                                     CellBooth. It’s a wearable phone booth you can
physics, got together to                                    carry on your back. The concept goes as follows:
create one of the                                           when you receive a call, you unzip and literally
world’s smallest                                            wear the booth to create an illusion of private
mechanical devices—a                                        space. Why, you ask? We’ll let Jenny explain: “We
six-string guitar. The                                      talk on cell phones everywhere we go,
nano-guitar is about 10                                     disregarding issues of privacy (and also those of
micrometers long, or                                        courtesy). People often don’t care if others hear
about the size of a single                                  their end of the conversation… What would
human cell. Each of the                                     happen if we were forced to stand still while we
six strings measures 50                                     spoke on the phone? As I grappled with these
nanometres—as wide as 100 atoms placed together.            issues of privacy, personal space and nostalgia for a
When plucked by an atomic force microscope, the             ‘simpler time,’ the idea for portable phone booth was born… What
strings would resonate at inaudible frequencies.            emerged was a wearable/portable phone booth and subsequently a
The device was constructed using electron-beam              piece of performance art that calls the attention of New Yorkers to
lithography which consists of scanning a beam of            the changes in human behaviour due to the ubiquitous use of cell
electrons across a surface covered with a thin film,        phones.” Preach it sister!
called a resist. The electrons produce a chemical           http://jennylc.com/cellbooth/
change in this resist, which allows the surface to be
patterned. But who will play it?
www.news.cornell.edu/Chronicle/97/8.14.97/nanoguitar.html                                        “Do These Make
                                                                                                 Me Look Stupid,
                                                                                                 Number One?”
A Salt And Battery
                                                                                                 In our efforts to look as stupid-
Amos Latteier, called the “Best Fake Professor                                                   cool as Geordi La Forge of Star
in Portland,” and a self-confessed lover of                                                      Trek: The Next Generation, we
pigeons, woke up one day to build a battery                                                      have often resigned ourselves
out of 500 pounds of potatoes. Each potato                                                       to wearing a hair-band across
generates about 0.5 volts and 0.2                                                                our eyes—if only we’d learned
milliamperes, he explains. Amos connected groups                                                 of this wondrous machine
of potatoes in series to increase voltage, and then connected                                    earlier, oh, the shame it would
these groups together in parallel to increase amperage. The                                      have spared!
entire 500-pound battery generated around 5 volts and 4                                              This implement wraps
milliamperes. He then hauled the battery onto a truck and drove it                               around your eyes, and if you
around town, powering a sound system off it. “Don’t eat potatoes                                 survive the heckling crowds, it
after using them for a battery,” Amos advises.                                                   allows you to watch DVDs as
http://latteier.com/potato/                                                                      you walk (or run, if the crowd
                                                                                                 is particularly nasty).
                                                                                                         The movie is delivered
Cubicle Missile Crisis                                                                                   through a tiny 320 x
                                                                                                         480 LCD monitor
Mortals! The USB slot’s true purpose on our planet has
                                                                                                         embedded in the right
been revealed—and a bloody purpose it is too! The USB
                                                                                                         eyepiece. The glasses
Missile Launcher, straight from the desk of George
                                                                                                         also feature an inbuilt
Bush lets you bomb your neighbouring colleague if he
                                                                                                         pair of ear-bud
refuses to pass the pen. With the aid of the mouse,
                                                                                                         headphones. The video
the launcher pans 180 degrees and tilts up to 45
                                                                                                         display is placed on the
degrees; a click and you will launch a harmless foam
                                                                                                         upper right of the
projectile... Complete with sound effects.
                                                                                                         glasses, giving you the
www.latestbuy.com.au/usb_missile_ launcher.html                                                          ability to view the
                                                                                                         surroundings while
                                                                                                         watching a DVD. Not
                                                                                                         recommended for one-
                                                                                                         eyed pirates!

                                                                                                                 By Ahmed Shaikh
                                                                                                                      DIGIT JULY 2006   119
      MacIntelTosh Gets A New Meaning                                           There’s TV At Home
      A start-up called Parallels has introduced software                       A US company called Blue Coat is selling a service to
      that lets Macs run Windows and Mac OS X                                   businesses who are afraid employees will keep
      simultaneously. This is rather unlike Apple’s Boot                        downloading football World Cup matches. Customers with
      Camp software, which lets users boot their Intel-                         Blue Coat SG appliances can “prevent the network impact
      based Mac hardware in either Windows or Mac mode                          of employees viewing FIFA World Cup Soccer.”

      Brazil Vs Italy                                                                                                    Happened To…
                                                                                                                         The Tablet PC

              ere’s news you can
              use. Really. You can,
              with an 83 per cent
                                             efforts, whether or not their
                                             predictions come true.
                                                 The basis of the
                                                                                 would have liked to research
                                                                                 things like pitch condition,
                                                                                 temperature, age of players,
                                                                                                                         W     hen Microsoft
                                                                                                                               advertised Windows
                                                                                                                         XP Tablet PC edition in
      chance of winning, bet that            prediction is a statistical         experience and many other               2002, we all thought that
      Brazil will beat Italy to win          model: the two students             variables. Then we could                Tablets were the cat’s
      the World Cup. Of course,              went back 20 years and              have been even more                     meow. Pen-driven input
      there’s a disclaimer: if you           collected such information          accurate.”                              had just started to become
      lose, don’t come                       as past team performance,               FIFI, Fanaswala and                 popular, so the idea of a
      complaining to us—approach             past scores, and so on.             Fasihnia have certainly made            full-powered PC that you
      Imran Fanaswala and Yashar                 The predictions are             the news, partly because                could operate with a pen
      Fasihnia of the American               pretty detailed: one semi-          everyone is so eager to know            just had to work.
      University at Sharjah.                 final will feature the              who will win. If the                         And to a respectable
      Fanaswala, by the way,                 Netherlands and Italy, and          predictions come true, the              extent, it did—Tablet PCs
      is Indian.                             the other will see England          duo will almost certainly be            have found remarkable
           What Fanaswala and                and Brazil. England will get        in the news for quite a                 popularity in healthcare
      Fasihnia have done is build            there by beating old rivals         while. They will be called              and education, but
      an AI program that can                 Argentina. Germany will             upon to predict all sorts of            analysts doom them to be
      predict the outcome of the             lose to The Netherlands in          things, including the                   stuck in such niches for a
      FIFA World Cup. The                    the quarter-finals.                 outcome of the forthcoming              goodish bit now.
      program is called FIFI—                    There have been                 cricket world cup, whether                   One of the main
      standing for FIFA                      statistical tests, too,             or not George W Bush will               reasons behind this is the
      Intelligence. FIFI was                 though we don’t know                get a third chance to ruin              fact that Tablet PCs
      developed by the two                   what that involved; but             the environment, and the                command a heftier price
      computer science students              according to the tests, the         weather. They will be heroes.           than their keyboarded
      under the guidance of Prof             FIFI program has an                 But it seems too good to be             counterparts. Then there’s
      Joachim Diederich, their               accuracy of 83 per cent.            true: if AI really could                the possibility of
      project overseer. Apparently,              It seems to have been a         predict such things, we’d               mechanical failure,
      this program was developed             rushed project: according to        have seen a lot more AI                 because touchscreen
      as a student project. They             Fasihnia, if they had more          projects based on statistical           technology isn’t as
      got an irrevocable A for their         time and manpower, “we              analysis to predict a lot of            reliable as we’d all want it
                                                                                                                         to be. Naturally, people
                                                                                                                         wanted some security—
        My Desktop                                                                                                       something they’ve found
       Avinasha S took it this month with his desktop                                                                    in “convertibles” like
       living room! Here’s how he did it:                                                                                Acer’s TravelMate series,
       StarDock Object Desktop—DesktopX, plus widgets                                                                    which plays the double
       by StarDock                                                                                                       role of a laptop and tablet
       FoodObject By an Unkown source                                                                                    PC. So even if the pen
       Shutdown, Dustbin, Mailbox objects all made by                                                                    goes poof, there’s the
       himself                                                                                                           good old keyboard to fall
       System Tray, Taskbar with object slider also made                                                                 back on.
       by himself                                                                                                             Nobody’s conceded
       Ditto the background, created using Google                                                                        defeat yet, so don’t
       SketchUp and modified in Macromedia Fireworks                                                                     expect the tablet to fade
                                                                                                                         away. Windows Vista will
       Participate in this contest and win                                                                               come with tablet support
       Wireless and Mobile                                                                                               integrated, say Microsoft;
       All-IP Networks                                     Send your desktop with description of how you made            perhaps that will help this
       by Yi-Bing Lin, Ai-Chun Pang                        it to mydesktop@thinkdigit.com with the subject               wonderful idea get back
       Published by                                        ‘My Desktop’ and tell us your postal address, too.            on its feet.

120   DIGIT JULY 2006
                                                                                                              People Who
                                                                                                           Jon “Protocol” Postel
                                                                                                           Jonathan Postel is
                                                                                                           remembered as one of the
                                                                                                           powerhouses behind the
                                                                                                           early Internet. He edited or
                                                                                                           co-edited more than 2,500
                                                                                                                          RFCs (Request
                                                                          like 38DD, and she doesn’t                      For Comment).
                                                                          wear much. But what about                       These RFCs
                                                                          male characters, who are                        were the
                                                                          similarly exaggerated? Well,                    foundation for
                                                                          it’s a fact that male and                       the technical
                                                                          female characters in games                      standards
                   He wins
                                                                          are both portrayed as young,     Jon Postel
                                                                                                                           that govern
 This month’s                                                             strong, and sexy, only female                    the operation
 winner is         Web Development with
                                                                          characters display the           of the Internet.
 Rohit Kumar Singh Microsoft Visual Studio 2005                           physical traits humans               Postel’s contributions
 e-mail:                 by John Paul Mueller                             actually display “when           began way back when the
 rohit3787@gmail.com     Published by
                                                                          they’re ready for sex:           Internet “was the ARPANET.”
                                                                          partially open mouths, with      In 1969, Postel would
                                                                          large red lips, and heavy        manage the ARPANET’s
  WIN!                                                                    eyelids.” And Ray says it’s      protocol numbers using
  Send in your entry and you could win an exciting gift just by sharing   these “sex object” images        scraps of paper. His
  an amusing picture with a tech angle to it. The picture should have     that don’t appeal to the         contributions to the fields
  been shot by you, and should not have been published anywhere           average female gamer.            of computer
  earlier. E-mail your picture with the subject ‘DigiPick’ and your
                                                                               So to bring more women      communication protocols
  postal address on or before the 20th of this month to
  digipick@thinkdigit.com. One prize-winning picture will be              into games, then, how            such as IP, TCP, UDP, Telnet,
  published each month.                                                   about “sexualising” the          SMTP, and ICMP are
                                                                          male characters as well?         monumental.
                                                                          That won’t cut it, according         The man’s love for
things. It would have been a          it’s that video games don’t         to Ray. She said, in effect,     computing began when he
billion-dollar industry!              understand women.                   that women gamers aren’t         was studying towards his
    On the other hand, if                  Ray has the credentials:       that excited about what the      graduation at the University
nothing of what they’ve               she’s been a game designer          game looks like.                 of California at Los Angeles.
predicted happens, there              for the past 16 years, is a              So what do women            Postel was one of the
will be a little booing, and          veteran of Sony Online              gamers look for in games?        members of the project that
FIFI forgotten. It’ll have been       Entertainment and the               Tough question. As tough as      created UCLA’s first (and
just another student project.         Cartoon Network, author of          “What do women want?”            then the only) Web site.
But then, they made the               the book Gender Inclusive                Males reading the               The Internet, quite
grade, and the news—what              Game Design: Expanding the          following are going to say,      simply, could not have been
more could one ask for?               Market, and a long-time             “Oh, please!”—Ray said the       what it is without Jon
                                      spokeswoman for women               importance of the                Postel. For instance, it was
WHY WOMEN DON’T GAME                  gamers.                             emotional experience can’t       he who suggested the dot
                                           Women or girl gamers           be trivialised. And that         notation for Internet
They Want                             need more than just action
                                      to stay involved, Ray said.
                                                                          games need to provide a
                                                                          way for women to have a
                                                                                                               Postel was an easy-going,
An Emotional                          She narrated an incident
                                      where a 13-year-old girl was
                                                                          deeper experience with the
                                                                          game characters.
                                                                                                           casual man: he was once
                                                                                                           ordered to put on his shoes
Experience…                           good at a popular game,
                                      and instead of wanting to
                                                                               Video game companies
                                                                          that want to get into the
                                                                                                           before boarding a plane
                                                                                                           when he was to help the
Aarghh!                               advance to higher levels,
                                      she got bored and quit the
                                                                          women-gaming market
                                                                          full-time will have to
                                                                                                           US Air Force with its
                                                                                                           computers. Amongst his
                                      game. When Ray asked why,           provide a way for players to     interests were hiking and

         omen make up less            the girl said, “I pulled his        become acquainted with           British whodunits.
         than 10 per cent of          heart out once, why do I            their characters, Ray said.          In 1998, Postel received
         the gaming                   need to do it again?”               This includes allowing for       the International
population. Why? In San                    Also part of the reason,       an emotional attachment          Telecommunication Union’s
Francisco, at the Sex in              Ray essentially says, is that       to develop.                      prestigious Silver Medal in
Video Games conference in             women are portrayed as sex               Yes, we told you you’d go   recognition of his
early June, keynote speaker           objects in games. The typical       “Oh, please!” Emotional          contributions to the
Sheri Ray said that it’s not          game heroine, as we know,           attachments in games?            development of the global
that women don’t                      has the word “sex” written          What’s wrong with plain,         information infrastructure.
understand video games,               all over her. She’s something       good old action?                 He died the same year at 55.

                                                                                                                         DIGIT JULY 2006   121
                                            We’re Not Grown-ups!
                                            O    ur cover story this month was quite
                                                 the talk of the office. Sex is still
                                            controversial enough to cause a stir—even
                                                                                            work on the images. When Pillai-ji
                                                                                            (Shivasankaran Pillai) was laying out the
                                                                                            story, a lot of people gathered around,
                                            in an office of geeks who have reportedly       hoping for a free show—much to Deepak
                                            seen all there is to see in technology!         Ajwani’s consternation! Too bad for them
                                            When Agent 001 walked in after a week’s         that all the images had already been
       Protocols                            absence, clutching his “Sex” story, he          censored!
       Spouting TLAs ending with a P        seemed pale and... drained. “Viral fever,”          Then there were the fights between
       is a great way to mark yourself      he explained. No-one believed him!              the liberals and conservatives: The “that
       up as a network guru when                Then there were the problems of             image just has to go” vs. the “why, what’s
       you’re amongst folks who don’t       explaining it all to the graphic designers      wrong with it” kind! This was promptly
       know their TCP from their IP.
                                            and layout artists. They had to come up         followed by an “I-have-more-porn-on-my-
       And if your water cooler crowd
                                            with visuals and ideas of how to depict         hard-disk-at-home-than-you” competition
       is doing it all the time, you’re
       going to feel left out. In either    what kids face online, without hurting          by some of our more liberal colleagues!
       case, you’d do well to mug up        too many sentiments. What you see are           At the end of it all we think we’ve done a
       the following protocol names!        blurred / censored images, but our              decent job of tastefully portraying the
                                            designers were “exposed” to the                 truth that’s out there.
       UDP                                  originals. Some were only                                    We can now finally get back
       One of the protocols that            too happy, but                                                to the more familiar
       allows two programs on a             others, like                                                       territory of gadgets and
       network to send out short            Sivalal S, were too                                                 gizmos, and leave all
       messages called datagrams.           embarrassed to                                                     that porn behind us!
       This is an “unreliable”
       protocol; data may arrive out
       of order or go missing.                 Anyway, will de-sexing       about the technology                 One thing we aren’t clear
       Something like your boss’ SMS       games, including emotions        landscape today: people are      about is, why the emphasis
       never reaching you.                 and attachments and              actually getting concerned       on sex? Who cares if a few
                                           possibly even relationships,     about robo-sex and robo-         perverts decide to indulge in
       TCP                                 and including less action        paedophilia!                     robo-sex? It might even be of
       A “reliable” protocol, TCP          and more human                       The issues may seem far      therapeutic value, and at
       allows applications in              interaction do it for women?     out now, but in the next few     least they won’t be out on
       networked systems to                Say a game like Bob and Alice:   years they will become           the streets looking for kids!
       exchange data. TCP ensures          The Untold Story or something    increasingly relevant,           As regards robot safety,
       data is received in the order       along those lines?               according to experts. It’s       wouldn’t the emergency
       in which it was sent—like how           Perhaps. But no-one          apparently high time we          switch-off button work fine
       your girlfriend very effectively    knows what women want,           think of things such as the      enough? Even if the
       communicates what she wants         including women!                 robots turning against us,       behaviour of the robots can’t
       you to buy for her!                                                  and about robo-sex.              be predicted, why should we
                                           ROBOPHILES AT LARGE?                 Regulating the               assume that they will
       ICMP                                                                 behaviour of robots is           function in a destructive
       Used by networked computers’
       OSes to send error messages,
                                           Keeping The                      going to become even more
                                                                            difficult in the future,
                                                                                                             manner? After all, they’re
                                                                                                             supposed to be programmed
       such as a router not being
       reachable. Straightforward          Bots Under                       since they will increasingly
                                                                            have self-learning
                                                                                                             to be smart—so why not
                                                                                                             expect them earn their keep
                                           Control                          mechanisms inbuilt. Their
                                                                            behaviour could become
                                                                                                             in a decent manner?
                                                                                                                 All this reeks of sci-fi-
       Real-time Transport Protocol                                         impossible to predict.           inspired paranoia—or

       is used to send streaming                 specially in Japan—but         Probably the area likely     probably another case of
       audio and video packets over              in other countries as      to prove most controversial      research for the sake of it.
       the Internet. Like when your              well—robots are            is the development of
       mother-in-law is incessantly        increasingly coming into         robotic sex toys, says Dr        CHEATIN’ STUDENTS
       screaming and gesticulating         homes and workplaces.            Henrik Christensen,
       at the same time.                   Robotics experts are now
                                           getting more and more
                                                                            chairman of the European
                                                                            Robotics Network at the
                                                                                                             Wales: Don’t
       Address Resolution Protocol is
                                           concerned about safety
                                           implications, and have come
                                                                            Swedish Royal Institute of
                                                                            Technology. “People are
                                                                                                             Blame Me!
       used to find the hardware           together to try to find ways     going to be having sex with
       address if the IP address of

                                           to prevent robots from           robots in the next five                 survey conducted by
       the destination is known. Like      harming people. Reminds us       years,” he says. (And dead              CBSNews has found
       a postman finding a town
                                           of Asimov and the Three          serious he sounds, too.)                that one in five
       from the PIN code.
                                           Laws of Robotics. Apparently,    These robots will initially be   American teenagers uses the
       SMTP                                apart from safety, sex is one    pretty basic, but that is        Internet to cheat on school
       Simple Mail Transfer Protocol       of the big concerns in regard    unlikely to put people off, he   assignments. As expected,
       is a text-based protocol that       to robots becoming more          says. “People are willing to     there’s a difference between
       e-mail clients use. It works on     popular: for example, should     have sex with inflatable         the sexes: 24 per cent of boys
       top of TCP, and is the best         robotic sex dolls resembling     dolls, so initially anything     and 14 per cent of girls have
       thing to have happened to us        teenagers be legally allowed?    that moves will be an            plagiarised material online
       since pigeon post.                  Sit back a minute and think      improvement.”                    at least once.

122   DIGIT JULY 2006
whatweretheythinking.com                                                        The survey results are
                                                                            surprising. Why isn’t the
                                                                                                                  college students, saying they
                                                                                                                  flunked because of his site!
www.thebeerbelly.com                                                        number higher than that 20                Wikipedia is considering
                                                                            per cent average? After all,          putting up a fact sheet on
W     hen we came across thebeerbelly.com, it took us several
      minutes to shake our heads and finally acknowledge that
the site did sell, on order, a strap-on body sac within which a
                                                                            who goes to libraries any
                                                                            more? They all have access to
                                                                                                                  the site. It would explain
                                                                                                                  why it’s not a definitive
beverage pouch could be hidden. Its not the ludicricity of the              the Internet, and then, of            source of information, and
object on sale that stunned us—the Internet is a notorious hub              course, there’s Wikipedia.            teachers could hand it out,
for sales of all kinds—what amazed us is that there have been               You can’t blame the kids,             Wales said. Actually, it
                                 people who have actually                   really. It’s all there, and why       should be obvious: how can
                                 already bought the thing and               do serious research when              something that’s edited by
                                 think its cool! If the claims of the       you can lift stuff off a page?        users be cited?
                                 site are to be believed, beer                  The answer is online                  But still, with Wikipedia
                                 bellies are in fashion.                    research. Kids can actually           and other online sources
                                     There are accessories for the          do research on the Internet,          providing so much well-
                                 beer belly on offer as well.               while validating the                  formatted information for
                                 There’s the ice pack “pleasure             information they garner.              free, we think plagiarism—or
                                 extender,” to keep your drink              They can then perform a               at least online “research”—
                                 hot or cold depending on what              critical analysis of what             can only increase. There’s
                                                                            they’ve found, and use that           something wrong going on
 A pouch to augment your paunch! the beverage is—and a cleanser             for their assignments—                here. Consider this: (a) The
                                 and brushes to clean out the
pouch. Talk about a full deal! And then we have the ever-                   just as if they’d been                information and analysis is
gracious buyers and visitors, who have kept up the spirit of                to a library.                         out there; (b) Assignments
the whole thing with plenty of community blog posts. The site                   Talking about plagiarism,         demand that students collate
even offers instructions with their very own Tips & Tricks                  Wikipedia is in the news              and analyse the same
on how to use the Beer Belly. What were the parties on both                 again: founder Jimmy Wales            information; and (c) There’s
sides thinking?                                                             has asked that college                no stopping the growth of
     We all agree that the site is humorous, but the site forgets           students refrain from citing          info on the Web.
to mention an important detail: what would people who                       Wikipedia as a source of                  Why, therefore, don’t
already posses a beer belly do with a contraption that will                 research. Some students are           schools and universities
make them look doubly rotund? The blessing in disguise that                 complaining to him when               accept that the times they
we spot in the whole idea is that the desire for a such a thing             teachers fail them for citing         are a-changin’, and revise
might actually convince some of the pot-bellied to try and get              the user-edited                       their grading methods? It’s a
rid of the original—so they can sport one of these!                         encyclopaedia! Wales                  problem of an old system
                                                                            reportedly receives 10                caught up in an age it wasn’t
                                                                            complaint mails a week from           prepared for.

                             Guest Columnist                                               Joel Walsh
                             http://snipurl.com/blogjul1                                   http://snipurl.com/blogjul4
                             (www.thoughtmechanics.com/2006/06/20/retiremen                (www.sourcearticles.net/computer-articles/googles-
                             t-of-bill-gates-from-microsoft-is-no-big-deal/)               good-writing-content-filter.html)
                             Retirement of Gates from MS Is No Big Deal                    Google’s Good Writing Content Filter
                             People seem to be making a big deal about the                 The web pages actually at the top of Google have only
                             announcement that Bill Gates will be retiring from            one thing clearly in common: good writing. Don’t let the
Everyone’s talking           active involvement in Microsoft...                            usual SEO sacred cows and bugbears, such as
about Vista, Google,              His retirement may be delayed by CEOs of other           PageRank, frames, and JavaScript, distract you from the
and Microsoft. (As           companies trying to retire. They may complain that            importance of good content.
always.) Here’s              Gates has an unfair monopoly on retirement. At this               I was recently struck by the fact that the top-ranking
something about the          point the Justice Department may have to get involved         web pages on Google are consistently much better
Gates-stepping-down          to analyze the impact of his retirement on the CEOs of        written than the vast majority of what one reads on the
thing. Also, a               other companies...                                            web. Yet traditional SEO wisdom has little to say about
                                                                                           good writing. Does Google really only display web pages
negative rant about
                             Robert Accettura                                              that meet arcane technical criteria? Apparently not.
Vista, and two                                                                             Google is doing a good job of identifying websites with
Google-related posts.        (http://robert.accettura.com/archives/2006/06/09/wi           good content and rewarding them with high rankings...
Lots of links and            ndows-vista/)
comments at these            Windows Vista                                                 sophistry
blogs!                       Am I the only one who is not very impressed with              http://sophistry.org/blog/?p=13
                             Windows Vista? Several things so far have just shown          The nonexistent Google-Microsoft rivalry
                             to be a complete turnoff.                                     Google’s newest products seem to be challenging the
                                  It warns me about everything. Warnings stink,            Office suite. This makes it easy to write articles about a
                             people just ignore them if they happen to often...            Microsoft-Google rivalry. But it’s also wrong... Google’s
                                  Learning Curves are evil. The new Save dialog isn’t      business is ads. Microsoft’s is software. If Google’s apps
                             totally evil, but it’s quasi evil. It took me a few seconds   make a dent in Microsoft, it will be incidental to their
                             to figure out how it works, and still feels really really     real goal, which is improving your search results. The
                             awkward no matter what method I use to navigate...            key to Google’s plan is getting as much of your data
                                  Despite my best effort, I’m still not sure why I’m       online as possible, search it and have their technology
                             denied permission to my Application Data directory...         determine what ads best match your growing profile...

                                                                                                                                      DIGIT JULY 2006   123
                                 2=3? Really?
                                                                                 c) Entertainment sites
                                   1 Toshiba recently pushed                     d) Warez sites                                      9 What company will soon
                                                                                                                                         launch a payment system to
                                      laptop storage all the way to
                                                                                                                                   rival PayPal and others?
                                 an impressive amount. The disk is
                                 Toshiba's first to use perpendicular               5 What will Bill Gates be                      a) Adobe          c) Google
                                                                                       primarily focusing on when                  b) eBay           d) PayMate
                                 recording. How large is it?                     he quits everyday work at
                                 a) 160 GB       c) 300 GB                       Microsoft?
                                 b) 200 GB       d) 512 GB                                                                          10 What has Microsoft identified
                                                                                 a) His golf skills                                      as the most significant threat
                                                                                 b) Philanthropy                                   to Windows PCs?
                                                                                 c) His affiliation with PETA                      a) Malicious bot software, turning
                                 2 Several states in the US have                 d Anti-smoking and anti-drug                         the PCs into "zombies"
                                     tech plans for convicted sex                   campaigns                                      b) Rootkits
                               offenders. They will...                                                                             c) Viruses
                               a) Be allowed to play sex video                      6 What does S.M.A.R.T. stand                   d) Worms that spread via Outlook
                                  games before being electrocuted                      for?
                               b) Be constantly tracked via GPS                  a)Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and
                               c) Be constantly tracked via RFID                 Reporting Technology
                                  tags                                           b) SATA, MAID and RAID
                                                                                                                                                                Did You
                               d) Receive implants that will warn
                                  when they approach a woman
                                                                                 c) Smart Motherboard Analysis and
                                                                                                                                    T  he Eudora e-mail
                                                                                                                                       program was named
                                                                                                                                    after the American writer
                                                                                    Reporting Tool
                                                                                                                                    Eudora Welty—because she had
                                 3 What is the latest about                      d) Small Matrix Analysis in Real
                                                                                                                                    written a short story called
                                     Nicholas Negroponte's $100                  Time
                                                                                                                                    “Why I Live at the P.O.”
                               a) It will not be launched after all                 7 An old portal is soon going to
                               b) The launch will be delayed by                       get a new look. Which?
                                  two and a half years                           a) OneName                                         Answers
                               c) It will probably cost around $140              b) Yahoo! Small Business
                               d) Bill Gates will help pay for the               c) Netscape                                        PCs into "zombies"
      Got an                      final development stage                        d) MyMSN
                                                                                                                                    software, turning the    5. b) Philanthropy
                                                                                                                                    10. a) Malicious bot        sites
      interesting                                                                                                                   9. c) Google             4. a) US Government
      question?           4 Google has launched a new                               8 In which programming lan-
                                                                                                                                    8. c) FORTRAN
                                                                                                                                    7. c) Netscape
                                                                                                                                                                cost more like
      Send it in with        search engine that will search                            guage can you actually                          Technology            3. c) It will probably
      the answer to     what?                                                    change the value of 2 to 3?                           Reporting
                                                                                                                                       Analysis, and
                                                                                                                                                                tracked via GPS
                                                                                                                                                             2. b) Be constantly
      TQ@thinkdigit.com a) US Government sites                                   a) LISP           c) FORTRAN                       6. a) Self-Monitoring,   1. b) 200 GB
      Mark “TQ” in the b) Porn sites                                             b) Eiffel         d) Ada
      subject area.

       Crossword                                                                                                                  Winners:
                                                                                                                                  April 2006: Chitra Bharti             Win!
       ACROSS                                                                                                                     May 2006: A.G. Francis
       1. Comes in A4 OR A3 sizes-is used in printing(5)
       4. _____Valley - Californian region famous for
       its high-tech industries(7)
                                                                                                                                  Send in your entries with
       8. Play_____video game console(7)                                                                                          complete contact details to
       9. Network Operations Center (abbr)(3)                                                                                     TQ@thinkdigit.com on or
       10. Asynchronous Transfer Mode (abbr)(3)                                                                                   before July 15.
       11._____Code reader or price scanner(3)
       12. Standards Electronic Automatic Computer(abbr)(4)
                                                                                                                                  One lucky participant will win
       16. _____Or storage card(6)                                                                                                Web Work In Action
       17. Collection of pixels describing an image(6)                                                                            by Patrick Lightbody & Jason Carreira
       20. Popular warning ‘Your computer is at —’ or danger(4)
       22. Disk Operating System (3)                                                                                              Published by
       23. Short for ‘Clear’(3)
       27. Interactive Connectivity Establishment(abbr) (3)                                                                       May 2006 Solution
       28. Mumbai based back-office and software
       development company(7)
       29. Novell’s widely installed server(7)
       30. Wireless(3)

       1. _____word or codeword(5)                                 14. Uniform Resource Locator(abbr)(3)
       2. A ghost dial-up connection(7)                            15. Recycle_____(3)
       3. Redundant Array of Independent Disks (abbr)(4)           18. Virus distributed as an e-mail attachment(7)
       4. _____Checker-programme to check natural languages(6)     19. Application that magnifies or reduces an image(4)
       5. Leased or telephone_____used for dial-up                 21. Keyboard key that converts letters into Capital or small
       connections(4)                                              case(5)
       6.High-speed storage device(5)                              24.’M’ in MB(4)
       7. Commercial browser-part of AOL(8)                        25. Photo or Paint_____software(4)
       13. ‘A’ in AWG-US standard set of wire conductor sizes(8)   26._____ID(4)

      Crossword by Nitta Jaggi

124   DIGIT JULY 2006
                                                   per cent of them do not earn their own               life changed! Today I am considered a
                                                   living. When they do, should they buy a              ‘Tech Encyclopaedia’ by friends. Your
                                                   home, a car or legal software? People                May issue was really awesome. Fast Track
                                                   don’t buy software because they cannot!              to Photoshop was spectacular. In its initial
                                                       What if suddenly some technology                 pages you rightly wrote that most people
                                                   like hardware integration is done which              don’t use Photoshop because they think
                                                   bars you from installing a pirated OS on             it’s very sophisticated. I was wondering
                                                   your system like in the case of 900 series           how you guys gauge the thinking of a
                                                   chipset motherboards from Intel, which               common man so perfectly. Having read
                                                   does not install Windows 98? People are              your Fast Track I indeed realised that it
                                                   forced to use Windows XP (may be pirated)            was not very tough and now I am
                                                   and not all can suddenly switch over to              teaching it to computer teachers at my
                                                   Linux - human nature resists change.                 school. I would like to thank you for
                                                       If you analyze the problem of piracy             introducing such a great magazine.
                                                   from a different point of view you will find
                                                   that piracy may have created a huge army                                                 Regards
      June 2006                                    of potential customers who are training                                              Rahul Gupta
                                                   themselves to give a big boost to the
                                                   software industry. Patience is the virtue.           Dear Rahul,
      Piracy                                                                                            It is heartening to know that our Fast Track to
      Dear Digit,                                                    Lokesh Bazaj, Raniganj,            Photoshop was a delight for you and also helped
      Piracy is considered a crime all over the                                 West Bengal             you learn a few tricks of the software. It has
      world, but let’s face it, India is still a                                                        always been our endeavour to scale up the
      developing country and 90 per cent of the    Dear Razil and Lokesh,                               learning of our readers and increase their
      populous are middle class or live below      I share some of your opinions, but not all of        knowledge quotient in technology.
      the poverty line. The price of a basic       them. In an article in the April 2006 issue of                                        —Associate Editor
      computer is not more than Rs 20,000, but     Digit, I wrote about how piracy may even be
      not everyone can afford to buy legitimate    good for software vendors. Of course, this does      Wasting Money On Digit?
      software. Pirated CDs cost between Rs 30     not make it right! I have to disagree with some of   Congratulations for Digit’s 5th anniversary
      and Rs 200. Unless the Americans realise     your suggestions, like making piracy legal—it’s      and best wishes for the years ahead. Your
      that they need to price their products       almost as ridiculous as saying that we should not    fourth anniversary issue was the first
      more affordably in Indian rupees, piracy     punish murderers, because they are helping us        issue I bought, and since then I have never
      should be made legal! Piracy is playing a    control the population explosion!                    been disheartened till now. Your June
      major role in promoting the use of                The economic situation of our country is our    issue cost Rs 200 and I had expected much
      computers in India, which is not a bad       problem, not a software vendors’. Yes products       more than what you have given on CD’s
      thing. You may not agree with my views       could be priced more in tune with our earnings       and the so called dual-layered DVD,
      and not even publish this letter but         in India, but then maybe our earnings should be      although the content of the magazine and
      please do look into this piracy issue        more in tune with the rest of the world! But if we   fast track was superb. CD, DVD content
      because if this stops—we middle class        earned as much as “Americans”, we would have         was not up to the mark. Frankly the free
      Indians will be technologically              to shut down one of our fastest growing sectors—     game CD (Monster Truck Madness 2) was not
      handicapped.                                 the BPO industry. So as you can see, things          useful and a waste of money. On DVD you
                                                   aren’t as simple as they seem.                       had nothing more than some very old
                                  Razil (Kuku)          As Lokesh rightly points out, piracy is         movies. But the articles like five decades
                                        Akhtar     (hopefully) creating potential customers—so if       of technology were interesting. My
                                                   you use pirated software right now and can           complaints are before you. I know, you
      Piracy Creates Customers                     afford to go legal, please do so now! Moreover,      would not publish this first ever letter of
      Today’s pirates are tomorrow’s potential     encourage your friends to do so too. Finally,        mine. Still if you would do something
      customers. Though pirated software is        there’s a lot more open source software out          regarding my complaints it will be worth
      cheap or free, they have their own           there, many of which offer you nearly all the        writing this letter.
      disadvantages. They cannot be updated        capability of paid software. If money is your                                        Neeraj Singh
      online and there is no customer care         problem, go Open Source!                             Dear Neeraj,
      service for them. Be it an OS like                                                  — Agent001    Thanks for your appreciation and an honest
      Windows XP or antivirus software like                                                             feedback. It’s always a challenge to strike a
      Norton or Quick Heal, they all need to be    Teaching The Teachers!                               balance for our readers: Will they like the issue?
      updated. Some people may be happy            This is my second letter to Digit. The first         Will they flame us? While we have received e-
      with older versions, but all are not.        one was a complaint letter due to a                  mails that echo your sentiments, we’ve also had
      There is a section of pirated software       faulty copy of SKOAR!, but thanks to your            people who liked the game and some more who
      users who use it because of ignorance        customer service I received a brand new              were really interested in the Business Plan
      and financial problems.                      copy within two days. I just can’t forget            contest. Even the movies have received mixed
          54 per cent of the people in our         the first day I picked up Digit. It was 21st         reviews, and many have appreciated the timeless
      country are below 25 years of age, so 90     December 2004 and from that day my                   classics that you can’t even see on TV today! I

220   DIGIT MAY 2006
Write to the Editor                                                                  Digit will publish the best letters on these pages. Letters may be edited for clarity.
                                                                                     You must include your complete address in all communication.
E-mail: editor@thinkdigit.com
                                                                                     For subscription queries, call the help desk at
Snail Mail: The Editor, Digit, D-222/2, Om Sagar Building, MIDC, TTC Industrial
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                                                                                     send an e-mail to help@jasubhai.com
Navi Mumbai 400 706

guess you win some, you lose some. We hope to              Dear Manish,
give you content that will make you write letters          Many thanks for your mail, and the news that
                                                                                                                    Just Can’t Wait
of praise to us in the near future; keep writing.          even more people are contributing to Digit’s             Congratulations on
                                                                                                                    completion of yet                  Letter
                                                           disappearance from the stands. Q&A was
                                  — Associate Editor       removed only for June, due to space                      another year of                    of the
                                                           constraints. It’s back now.                              excellence and best of             Month
                                                                                       — Associate Editor           what a technology
Subscribing Is Easiest                                                                                              magazine can give.
I was a subscriber of Digit for the past four                                                                           This is my first letter to
years, but unfortunately I was not able to                 Hooked                                                   you. I’ve been a Digit patron since
renew this year. So, for the first time I had              I am currently in the 10th grade and                     April 2001, and a subscriber from
to buy Digit from a shop. Usually the                      Digit has made me addicted to                            April 2001 to July 2005. There is a
courier boy used to bring it to my                         technology since I was in 5th! Then I                    strong reason behind discontinuing
doorstep at the first week of the month.                   bought it only for the Maal in the CDs                   the subscription. I now buy directly
But this time, I think I checked about six                 you gave. But the language and the                       from the shop. Reason being, the
times before I finally got a copy of your                  hilarious illustrations made me read                     anticipation, the excitement I get
5th anniversary issue on 7th June. As                      the magazine carefully and I haven’t                     when your magazine hits the news
usual, loads of surprises, the best being                  missed an issue since then. In my class                  stands every month, that tickling
the content of the Dual layer DVD that                     8th I asked my Mom to subscribe the                      feeling as if I’ve got butterflies flying
you guys packed. The magazine content                      magazine for one year. At the end of it,                 in my stomach cannot be defined.
was superb as usual. But I understood the                  a nice letter came to me with thanks                         I can’t wait even for a day more,
difference between a subscriber and a                      from the Digit team. It really changed                   and have to grab it fast. The
news stand buyer. No tensions, no                          my mind and I re-subscribed the                          anniversary issue was very special. I
struggles and no price hikes. Thus my                      magazine for three years! All your                       bought it and sat with the soft board
advice to all Digit readers—”Subscribe at                  reviews, the prank language, tips, funny                 binding in my hand (which only
the earliest and plug in to the tech world                 illustrations, the offers (subscription                  comes in the non-subscriber issues),
and enjoy unlimited offers!”—as I myself                   and Digit Patron esp), Fast Track series                 going through it and as I read along
will do now. Hearty congratulations to                     and many more kooool features of your                    the whole binding, as to what’s
team Digit for bringing out yet another                    mag have made me absolutely techno-                      stored in this special issue’s CDs and
monster of an issue.                                       geek. The problem is that as a                           DVD...........my stomach started
                                                           subscriber I usually get your mag late.                  drooling exactly like it does when I
                                   Kelvin Ralph            Make sure that your issue reaches as                     am really hungry n sitting in a
                                     Ernakulam             early as possible. Your mag rocks! One                   restaurant.
Dear Kelvin,                                               more thing—could you please put a                            Finally I started getting goose
Thanks for your wishes and glad to know that               “Playstation 2 Emulator” on your                         bumps (wish you guys were here to
you value our subscription schemes and                     upcoming Digit CDs or DVDs, that’ll                      see the scene).
acknowledge the benefits of subscribing.                   work on XP.                                                  Kudos to you people for creating
Indeed, the comfort of sitting happily at home                                                                      such an asset for us who wouldn’t
and being delivered your favourite magazine                                                     Haroon,             have known a lot about technology
right at your doorstep is a great experience.                                                    Jammu              without you being there for us, now
                               — Associate Editor          Dear Haroon,                                             and always.
                                                           We are overwhelmed by your affection and we
Get Your Own Copy!                                         glad that you extended our relationship by                                      Gaurav Maheshwari
Whoooooola! I never expected such a                        subscribing to us once again. As for your
great anniversary issue from you. It was                   concern for early delivery of subscriber copies,         Dear Gaurav,
a swashbuckling act from your team and                     well we are indeed trying our best to reach the          Thanks a ton for the appreciation and
of course alarming for other so-called                     copies earlier but many a times postal delays            praise. It is people like you and letters like
tech magazines. Apart from all this                        are unavoidable due to natural causes like               yours that motivate us month after month
praise I want to inform you a very                         rains or truck/ rail delays. But we are still            to create a special Digit every issue.
interesting fact. I have a group of 6-7                    continuously trying to improve our delivery                   It’s sad that you have discontinued our
common friends, and all have their own                     mechanism. I know this might sound yet                   subscription, but as long as you continue
computers, but they never buy Digit,                       another tall claim, but we even change courier           to buy Digit every month from the news
although they borrow it from me. But                       service when we get complaints from our                  stand/bookseller, I’m assured that this
this month they all rushed to nearby                       subscribers. We always attempt at improving              relation will last for a very long time.
bookshop and bought a copy each for                        our delivery services and hence try to find out               Keep Reading and most important—
themselves. And now all are planning to                    which courier service is best in every area,             writing to us.
be full time subscribers. Your                             and engage them to reach our magazines.
anniversary issue was missing the Q&A                           As for your request for a Playstation 2                                             — Associate Editor
segment. Where has that gone?                              Emulator, their use is illegal and hence we
                                                           won’t be providing them on our CD or DVD.
                                Manish Kumar
                                     Via E-mail                                         — Associate Editor

                                                                                                                                                       DIGIT APRIL 2006       221
                                                                               Pink... For Posh?

           People And Events That Grabbed Headlines—For Better Or For Worse

         Domained At Birth
         She was born in Namibia, and       we think her name is clumsy
         is called Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-     in the first place.) Jolie seems
         Pitt. Her mother is, of course,    to have learn her lesson:
         Angeline Jolie, and her father,    angelinajolie.com isn’t hers.
         is, of course, Brad Pitt. Now      There’s even a gag Shiloh
         here’s one baby who’ll never       Nouvel Jolie-Pitt MySpace
         have to lock horns with a          page been found, which
         typosquatter: Jolie (rather, her   says: “Shiloh’s interests:
         lawyer) registered at least        Africa, eating.”
         three domain names for her:             With all the unofficial fan
         ShilohNouvelJolie-Pitt.com,        sites out there anyway, what’s
         ShilohPitt.com, ShilohNouvel.      this newfangled thing about
         com, and more. Clumsy, but         celebrities and domain
         they’ll do the job. (Actually,     names?

         When You Gotta Go...
                                                                                      avid Beckham is a gay icon. He’s been voted as a gay
                                                                                      marriage favourite. He topped a gay radio poll of the

                    e’re a bit late on this one, but at the JavaOne                   best-looking football stars. All of which make us prick up
                    conference in San Francisco last month, former Sun         our ears when we hear he bought a pink cell phone in early June.
                    CEO Scott McNealy engaged in a bit of rare humour.             It happened this way: a certain mobile phone maker, who
         (He’s the one who said infamously, “You                                                  wants to remain anonymous, was smiling from
         already have zero privacy... get over it,” in                                            ear to ear when they heard Becks was interested
         regards to consumer privacy issues and                                                   in one of their models, the StarTrk. The StarTrk
         shopping online.) McNealy drew up a list                                                 comes in black and pink, for men and women
         of top ten great things about not being                                                  respectively—or so we would believe. Surprise:
         CEO any more, having handed over the                                                     Beckham’s henchmen went on to order the pink
         baton to Jonathan Schwartz. Here are                                                     version.
         some:                                                                                        The dealer was understandably surprised.
         #10: “I don’t have to apologize for the                                                  “He can’t be seen using one,” was his reaction—
         stuff I say to Wall Street, Jonathan does.”                                              “because of the new deal he has with Motorola.”
         (This is a little confusing: how can                                                     As though he could be
         Schwartz apologise for what McNealy                                                      seen using one if he didn’t have a deal
         says?)                                                                                   with Motorola.
         #9: “I’m no longer on the most overpaid                                                      (By the way, some Googling revealed that
         CEO list.” (Why doesn’t he want to be?)                                                  the StarTrk is probably manufactured by a
         #8: “I just say, ‘See Jonathan on that.’” (Of                                            firm called HTC. So much for not wanting to
         course.)                                                                                 be named.)
         #6: “I shave even less often.” (He seemed                                                    Ostensibly, then, the phone is for Victoria
         pretty clean-shaven to us most of the time...)                        “Posh” Beckham. A gift. However, it can’t be for her birthday,
         #4: “I have someone to blame now.” (We’d all love this.)              which falls on the 17th of April. Their wedding anniversary,
         #3: “I can sell my last business suit.” (On eBay?)                    however, is on the 4th of July—
         #2: “Jonathan doesn’t golf, so I guess I gotta do it.” (Good one.)    so could Becks have wanted to procure the phone a full month in
         #1: “My new office is very close to the men’s room.”                  advance? Or was it a just-like-that gift? The words are whirling
         (No comment.)                                                         round in our heads. Beckham... Pink... Gay...

      For any queries regarding the Digit Patron programme, e-mail us at digitpatron@jasubhai.com

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Description: Digit Magazine - July 2006 Issue