Everyone’s moving to the Cloud

Everyone is moving to the cloud. With the release of Google Drive, everybody else there is pulling up their socks, and real fast. Having worked a little on Cloud technologies, and having used different services for more than a couple of years, I thought it might not be a bad idea to write a short write-up on some popular services that I use/used to use,

MobileMe – Apple’s service that the fan-boys lapped up even if it meant you had to pay 100$ a year. (Not that it was a bad service at all. I think it was pretty good at what it was meant for.) I had a MobileMe account till recently, but if you follow your Apple news, you know that it is going away, replaced by the iCloud.

The two services I particularly liked about MobileMe were the Gallery and the iDisk. I never needed the Contacts or the Calendar, since I do not own an Apple device like and iPod/iPad/iPhone. (I did have a iPod touch briefly, but that didn’t really warrant having my contacts or calendars on it.) The password protect feature of the Gallery was rather nice, and the share files feature of the iDisk, I found to be useful. I could also mount the iDisk on my Windows machine as a network drive, so it was pretty neat. I used to use iWeb also briefly, to host web-pages – that was pretty decent I would say. Quick publishing, and hosting on your disk quota. Nice things to have.

Now, both the Gallery and iDisk will go away in June, and I was looking for an alternative to put that data somewhere.I don’t know how Photo Stream on the iCloud works just yet – as I mentioned before, I don’t have an iOS device to test this out. Also, I am not sure if you have to be locked in to Pages, Numbers and Keynote (iWork) to upload documents to the iCloud.

Dropbox
Ever since I started with my Masters degree, I knew all my documents like assignments, lab reports had to go on the cloud. If I was ever to lose my laptop, or if my hard disk was to die on me, I did not want to data to disappear with it. iDisk would have been my first choice, but, on Windows, I cannot really “Sync” content unlike a Mac, and on top of that I knew it was going away as well. No point in putting your data there. I was already using Skydrive at that point, even if it was called Live Mesh or something like that. (I don’t recollect it that well.)

Skydrive didn’t really hold up to iDisk at that time. iDisk almost allowed you to do things you would do on your desktop, on the browser, by using Sproutcore, and using it very well. At times, it could irritate you, but most times it was pleasing. In comparison, Skydrive had very limited options, and still worked the old world way of going through menus to move stuff around, create folders, using check-boxes …etc, which is the shittiest thing when you want to manage files.

Coming to Dropbox, it is a very neat service, which I plan to continue using. All my academic documents will remain on Dropbox, and I can sleep peacefully at night, that my report will not disappear. I had my hard disk pull a fast one on me a few weeks back, when I tried dual booting Ubuntu, and Windows complained. Thankfully, I could work on another computer and still access all of my files. Life saver!

Dropbox has also increased the free storage, and they offer some cool new features. I like the fact that on my Android phone, I can access the documents. I can sit in my classroom, and look at the lecture slides in class, without having to carry (lug is a more appropriate word) my laptop around. The new version of Adobe Reader, on Android even allows you to annotate your pdf’s right from your phone – talk about cool. I really wanted this feature on the phone, even if the Reader keeps hanging from time to time when you load large pdf’s on it.

The Camera Upload option is pretty neat as well. I mean, I lost a few pictures sometime back, and these were important pictures – drawings on the white board which I was supposed to share with a larger set of people. I had moved the photos out of my memory card and on to my Computer, only to lose the partition due to some dumb&%%$ fault of mine. Well, once bitten, I appreciate the auto-upload feature.

Looks like Dropbox is coming up with even more features. I may not readily use everything new that they implement, but it is still nice to see they are innovating.

Skydrive

Skydrive has improved a bunch since the last time I used it. And for having joined Skydrive early, I got 20Gig worth of storage space. Now, I read somewhere that this is for a limited period, so I don’t intend on filling the space up, only to delete them later. Also, the interface has improved quite a bit on the web. The desktop app is a welcome sign. It works just like Dropbox now. But I shall not switch from Dropbox just yet. For now, my academic documents stay on Dropbox, and my personal stuff that needs backing up shall stay on Skydrive – basically everything that used to be on MobileMe.

As an Android user, Skydrive is not available on it. But I don’t know, I might not really switch or even try out Google Drive – maybe except to have a redundant copy just for the rainy day when something in Dropbox goes horribly wrong, or they have a downtime.

Sony Ericsson-K810i Clear (Hard) Case

I went to a cell phone accessories shop a few days back and was asking for a leather case for my phone. I wasn’t going to buy it unless it was authentic. I saw a pouch and it was in a case and all which said Sony Ericsson written on it. I asked for the price and he quoted < 100 Rupees for it. Well, now, I know my accessories and know that Sony Ericsson cases cost at least 7-8 times that. (There is a store in Nungambakkam on Haddows road right opposite to Shastri Bhavan where they have almost every accessory of Sony Ericsson. I was impressed. But they didn’t seem to have the tripod I wanted. 🙂 ) I wonder what these peoples’ definition of ORIGINAL is. Then he showed me a few covers which had NOKIA written on it. Why would I buy a cover that says NOKIA when I have a SONY ERICSSON phone ? The shopkeeper didn’t think it was a big deal. I’ll tell you what, it is. If it had nothing written on it, its a different thing.

So I decided I wasn’t going to buy them after all. But I lay my eyes on this “crystal” case and though not great by any stretch of imagination, it was pretty good. And what’s more, I had to pay < 50 Rupees for it. That’s cheap. It’s not authentic, but if you drop your phone, it will at least take a bit of the impact. When I bought the phone, the case wasn’t available yet. It has taken some time for it to come to the market.

The case: (I hate to call it crystal. It’s just molten plastic.)

Here are a few snaps of the case (on the phone) which I captured with a 1.3 MP camera. It looks really bad. (Thanks to a wonderful camera) I wish I had another k810i just to photograph my phone. Other phones don’t do justice.

Front viewRear ViewLeft Side ViewRight Side ViewTop View

(Click on thumbnail to enlarge.)

Photos with description:

Front ViewRear ViewLeft Side ViewRight Side ViewTop View

(Click on thumbnail to enlarge. )

To see how the phone actually looks, read here

Sony Ericsson K810i

Microsoft Reader

Before people get started on Microsoft bashing and all that, (which you can do later. I won’t object) I would like to declare that I am not endorsing this product or anything. Just writing about it.

I came across a e-book that was in .lit format. I didn’t know of a .lit format or of the Microsoft Reader till then. I said to myself, that I might as well check out how good this ebook is considering it is only 200 odd KB. (Well, compare that with e-books in pdf format which occupy a few MB normally.)

To my surprise, the .lit format is pretty good. It is easy on the eyes and the page layout looks exactly like the book. What’s more if you had a mobile phone running Windows Mobile, you could read these books on your phone. Nice isn’t it ?

You should check it out for yourself.

Download this book and rename the file extension to .lit

Julius-Caesar

You may obtain the Microsoft reader from here,

Download

You can read about it, here.

Infosys Checklist

Checklist

I thought I’d make a list of things to carry to Mysore. It’s always better to make check lists and make sure you are carrying everything before leaving. The check list I have made tries to be complete but I might have missed out on some details or certain other mundane things. If I have missed out on anything important, then do let me know. You always have the comments section.

Not everything is a necessity. If you want to find out what you are supposed to take, then you should refer to the offer letter. The content between [ and ] are my comments. The content between ( and ) are official.

Some of it might seem very less important and maybe even funny. In any case, even if you miss out on these things, you can always buy it once you go there.

Infosys-checklist

Infosys FAQ’s

I have the most impossible questions when it comes to knowing about things. I read lot’s of FAQ’s on Orkut and other places. I thought I’d compile my own list as most of them are unnecessarily long and badly typed out.

Do note that I do not have first hand information and all sources of information have been collected from here, here and here. I have done a considerable amount of poring over badly written comments and statements. So if there are inaccuracies, don’t hit the roof.

FAQ’s

1. What is the training program that I will undergo on joining?

2. What are the technologies that I may be expected to work on?

3. Will there be any evaluation during my training?

4. Is there an agreement/bond to be signed?

5. What should I do in case I am not able to open the PDF attachment and print the e-letter before I leave for the location of my initial reporting and training?

6. What are the documents that I need to carry on my joining date?

7. I am yet to receive my final mark sheets and provisional degree certificate. Can I produce then after I join?

8. Will the offer be valid till the completion of my studies?

9. Whom do I keep informed about a change in my postal address/email id?

10. Can I bring my personal computer or laptops to the Infosys campus?

11. When will I receive details of my initial accommodation? Till when can I avail the accommodation?

12. Where do I report on my joining date? Whom do I contact for my initial accommodation arrangements at my training location?

Answer to questions 01 through 12 can be found in the e-mail sent by Infosys. If you haven’t gotten it yet, be patient.

Other Questions

13. Do I need to prepare anything before joining the training?

Answer: Infosys had indeed given a list of books to read up on before joining the training. But if you haven’t done that, no sweat. You will be evaluated on how well you can learn and not how much you already know. It does give you an edge, but that’s all really. They teach you very well and as long as you don’t sleep,(there as well) chances are it won’t be a problem.

14. How long is the training for?

Answer: I hear that there will be a test even before the training starts.(First day of joining mostly.) It might only be for the CSE and IT students. The people clearing this test will be assigned to Short Cycle or Fast Track (as it seems to be called.) The others will be in Long Cycle. Short Cycle supposedly lasts for 8 weeks while Long Cycle lasts for 16 weeks.

15. What will we be learning in training? (Also see FAQ 2)

Answer: The training is broken into two sections. Generic Stream and Specific Stream. (You should log into your Infosys login to find out what you are expected to learn in that.)

16. How are we assigned Specific Streams?

Answer: I am not sure if there is an internal system to monitor your performances, but as far as I can see (from other comments), it seems that it is totally AT RANDOM. So all of you who cribbed about not getting a chance to choose your electives there you go, the real world is just as cruel as Engineering colleges are. It is put as based on business requirements.

17. Do I have to buy books and take any study material as such?

Answer: Not really. They have libraries. (And they will be nothing short of magnificent.) And you are given study/course material. A few say the study/course material is all you need to know to pass their exam.

18. Why is their course material called Champak ?

Answer: Your guess is as good as mine.

19. How will the exams be conducted? (or) What will be the mode of examinations?

Answer: Online I hear. It’s apparently called OLE’s (On-Line Exam)

20. What will the daily routine be like?

Answer: Morning Yoga

09:00 – Training Classes

13:00 – 1 hour Lunch

14:00 – Training Classes

17:00 – 1 hour break

18:00 – Training Classes

20:00 – Dinner

21. Are weekends off?

Answer: Yes and thank God for that.

Mysore Specific Questions:

22. So, how are hostels or rooms allocated?

Answer: A room is shared by two people. I hear the room has TV’s and two beds. It also has such things as toiletries, towels, tea bags…etc. The allotting of rooms is again random. You cannot choose your room mates.

Apparently, you can also make use of Swimming, Bowling, Tennis and Library Facilities.

23. Where in Mysore is Infosys?

Answer: The address is as follows:

Infosys Technologies Limited.

No. 350, Hebbal Electronics City,

Hootagalli,

Mysore – 570 018

24. How far is Hootagalli from Mysore Railway station?

Answer: I am not very certain of this, but it looked like less than 10 Kilometers on Wikimapia. There seems to be a station called Belagola very close to Hebbal Electronics City, but then I am not sure if Suburban Trains ply between stations.

25. How much do I have to pay for my rooms?

Answer: I hear it is Rs 1,500 -1,800 per month and it is deducted from your salary.

26. How about food? Do I have to pay for it from my pocket?

Answer: Yes, food is not on credit basis and one has to pay money. I will not comment on the quality of food. Both North Indian and South Indian Cuisines are available.

27. How will I commute within the campus?

Answer: This is one of the coolest things if you ask me. You get to drive bicycles inside the campus. Don’t worry about finding yours in the crowd. You can drive off on any bicycle as long as you stay within the campus. You better know riding a cycle though.

28. I hear there is a multiplex on the campus?

Answer: Right you are. There is one. Don’t ask me what movies will play though. With some luck you could catch The Dark Knight there.

29. What clothes do I wear?

Answer: That is clearly mentioned in the offer letter.

30. Can I take any form of electronic media inside? If, not why?

Answer: Seems like you cannot. No Cd’s ,DVD’s,Thumbdrives…etc. I heard even MP3 players are a no. Not sure of this though. You can have a cell phone with you. Camera or no camera.

As to the why, all software companies have sensitive data that should not be revealed to the outside world. They would not want you selling their company secrets. 😉

31. Do I need to carry any money with me when I go to Mysore for training?

Answer: Yes and the Infosys offer letter clearly states that it is advisable to carry a sizeable amount of money with you. Rs 5,000-6,000 should be adequate.

32. I fall sick very often. IS there a doctor on campus?

Answer: Yes. They seem to have given it some thought.

33. I have been called on 23rd June. Can I go report on the 22nd of June and stay there for the night?

Answer: Seems so. But it is best you call them up or email them and find out. But from what I read and hear, you can report one day in advance.

34. How about salary and salary accounts once inside?

Answer: Salary will be credited to your salary account. An ICICI account will be created for you on the day you join. You should have an ATM inside the campus.

35. Is it cold in Mysore? And should I carry any woolens?

Answer: Compared to Chennai yes. And maybe you should carry some woolens.

36. Can I go outside the campus on Saturdays and Sundays?

Answer: Thankfully, this is not like a Jeppiar run college. You are free to go outside the campus on weekends. Actually, you can even go on weekdays.

37. What are the other Formalities before joining ?

Answer: You need to have applied for a passport, a four wheeler driving licence and registered yourself with NSR. (National Skills Registry.)

38. I have more questions. What should I do?

Answers: Mail Infosys. Also read here and here.

P.S: I am turning comments off because I do not want stupid questions like, I am afraid of joining, what should I do ?

Here are a few pictures of the Infosys Mysore campus I found online:

5 Reasons Not To Buy K810i or K790i

I own the K810i and my friend Vibushan has K790i. Except for a few cosmetic changes and 3G, the phones are pretty much the same. I had earlier written about K810i here Sony Ericsson K810i

While there are plenty of reasons why you should buy the phone (and I am not just saying that because I own it), there are also a few reasons why you shouldn’t buy the phone. Sony Ericsson needs to know that they are idiots to miss out on these features,

  1. Lack of keypad password protect-Now, this is on top, because it is the most annoying feature or rather the absence of it which drives me crazy. Most entry level Nokia phones have this feature. Some Motorola phones go a step further by having separate passwords for each application. While that might not be necessary, here’s why you need at least one master password for your phone: Would you like to have your contacts taken from your phone ? Would you like people to peek into your camera folder and see all the pictures you shot ? Would you like people to simply take your phone and make calls ? Or use the internet for that matter ?
  2. Cannot Pause Videos-I installed ImToo the other day and cracked it at the expense of having to re-install XP (thanks to the spyware it introduced) just so that I could watch a few videos on my phone. But Guess what ? You cannot pause a video!! That’s just lame. You expect me to watch a 30 minute video without ever pausing it once ? You must be really crazy. As Manish points out in his comment, it is indeed possible to pause videos when you launch them through the video player. Thanks to him for that piece of information.
  3. Cannot FFWD ,RWD Videos-You also cannot fast forward or rewind videos.Now, this is just as bad, if not worse than the lack of the pause feature. Not only can you not pause videos now, you can’t go forward to the scene where you stopped the video. In a day and age where players can remember the pause location of multiple videos, this is lame. As Manish points out again in his comment, it is also possible to fast forward and rewind videos when you launch them through the video player.
  4. Stopwatch lacks save feature-If you have used Nokia phones, then you know that after you have used the stopwatch, you can save the timings and later on look at it. With Sony Ericsson though, you can’t. That’s just plain dumb. What would it take to add such a feature (assuming Nokia didn’t patent it. Even if they did, why can’t SE license it ?) For someone who times walks and stuff, this feature even if only small is infinitely annoying.
  5. I like some individuality– 🙂 This has nothing to do with the phone. It’s just that I like to own things that the majority of the people don’t normally consider. So, buy another phone.

There are some other reasons too, but I’ll compile them and post it sometime later. Till then, don’t consider buying Sony Erisccon K810i and K790i. Also K800i

Vodafone Advertisements

Vodafone makes some good advertisements and some bad advertisements. The worst Vodafone advertisements however are the ones that have Irfan Khan in them. If there is one person who puts Indian Newsreadres’ intellect to shame, it has to be this guy.

Now, The advertisement I am talking about is not yet available on You tube. It’s the one that talks about how how when you have sisters in two cities, you talk less to the sister to whom you have to make STD calls. Bravo, bravo. It ends with a sentimental, Local or STD, a sister is a sister.

All wonderfully done. Just like stupid Indian movies. Now lets look at it logically.

  • Vodafone charges 1 Rupee for every call you make per minute inside India. Nice. So they are trying to enforce equality and all that.
  • I know the scheme makes sense to people who make a lot of STD calls. (But then there’s Skype these days for those of you who have computers. Otherwise, if you are really keen on making STD calls, there’s Reliance. 😀 )
  • Now, coming to whether the scheme makes sense, how many sisters do you have ? One, Two ? Three at the most ? Actually, forget that. How many of those sisters live in another state in India but not in another country ? (I know of cases where more siblings live abroad than in other states.)
  • How many of you actually make more STD calls than Local calls ? (No, missed calls don’t count.)
  • Now, I have a scheme under which I can make calls to three numbers inside TN (Vodafone) for 10 Paise per minute. Which means, I can talk ten minutes for the same one Rupee I’d be paying per minute if I made a local call under the aforementioned scheme.
  • Now, I know lots of people would like to argue that you make quite a few STD calls, but believe me, statistically it can be proved (George can maybe help me with it 🙂 ) that you are more likely to discuss what you want to do over the weekend more often than what you want to do next year during holidays. You will be discussing local train timings more than you will be discussing about making a trip to your relatives house.
  • Now, why would I want to change to this 1 Rupee scheme when am actually better off with my current scheme ? 

Vodafone, stop making fools of people even if they are willing to be fooled. 🙂 You know I am actually happy with such advertisements. You know why ? Because it makes me feel good about myself. All those supposedly creative people who said “Engineering is for losers”, come up with loser advertisements like this themselves. So bad that all it takes is an Engineer to realise that the guy who did the advertisement forgot his creativity somewhere and is still searching for it. I feel good about myself. 🙂 About being an Engineer.

Here is one Irfan Khan Vodafone advertisement:

 

This is the 99 Rupee per month scheme I accidentally recharged with. And I ended uo spending more than 200 Rupees for the  month anyway. At least, I didn’t look at the advertisement before recharging with thhe scheme. That would have been adding insult to injury.

In this advertisement, according to Irfan Khan,

A new movie releases, we end up spending 200 rupees.

Wrong!! I almost never watch movies in theatres and even if I do, I never spend 200 rupees for a movie. Ever heard of torrents mate ?

Tea and water costs you more than 100 Rupees these days.

What ? How many litres did you have ?

To end it, he asks the hotelier the bill, to which he replies, 155 Rupees. What ? How ? You can have a decent meal in a decent restaurant for that much. If you eat in places George does, maybe for a week. 🙂

On the other hand, I thought the advertisement with the Credit was actually pretty good. (No doubt it’s just another scheme to make more money by fooling you. But at least it’s creatively good.)