Archive for April, 2007

A busy sunday

Monday, April 30th, 2007

Woke up rather early today. Pradeepto stopped by at WBUT on his way to the airport, to meet ART (the vice chancellor) to discuss the proposed training programs for Qt. The meeting went off well… we ended up tentatively slotting 3 training shifts over the course of the next 12 months. The first one is scheduled for 20 - 21st of July, followed by one in September 2007 and one in Jan - Feb 2008.

img_2703 img_2707 img_2705

After seeing off Pradeepto it was time for some serious work. Worked with ART to plan the programme for 11th May, when all the Vice Chancellors of the 13 Universities of West Bengal are scheduled to participate in a 1-day orientation-cum-brainstorming session on FOSS. The meeting would be addressed by the MIC, Dept of IT (Prof. Debes Das) and MIC, Dept of Higher Education (Prof. Sudarshan Roychowdhury). Also on the same day, an MoA is scheduled to be signed with NASSCOM and hence Kiran Karnik is also expected to be present and speaking at the program.

In the afternoon, there was a meeting scheduled at our regular watering-hole. Abhisek, Soumyadip and Santanu turned up. We discussed the up-coming training workshop at Calcutta University, budgets, future plans for more workshop. I gave the updates on the morning’s events at WBUT and the proposed NRC-FOSS node at Kolkata. We ate, drank, smoked, cussed… we also discussed about gcc optimizations, santanu and kakoli’s forth-coming marriage, state politics, the general state of affairs of ILUG-Cal.ORG, Japanese beer, eating sushi and wasabi dips. But not necessarily in that order.  And FWIW, Soumyadip has finally mastered the art of eating a beef steak with a blunt knife! :P

img_2708 img_2710 img_2714

Around 8:30 we decided to the Barista outlet across the road for some coffee… that ended up in a far lighter mood, with p0werp0rk going into sting-op cam mode, much unlike Karunakar’s “Indranil… are these bengali girls?”. Finally, I hustled Santanu into buying us all some cigars and we decided to call it a day.

img_2724 img_2728 img_2726 img_2728

img_2735 img_2734  img_2729 img_2738

img_2750 img_2748 img_2764 img_2770

img_2772 img_2777 img_2779 img_2783

BSNL’s IPTV service to roll out by July in Kolkata

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

Mr. Raman Agarwal - the Jadavpur Area Manager of Calcutta Telephones is going to watch today’s Cricket World Cup final on BSNL’s yet to be launched IPTV service. As I sat in his office at the Ranikuthi Exchange, a 21″ Panasonic TV was unpacked, a DataOne connection was installed and tested, next came the IPTV set-top box. It was smaller than an ADSL modem, it’s shape strangely resembled the Nivo from Ndiyo. Must be a coincidence! :-)

The Set-top box had a power-in socket, a RJ-45 socket, an USB 2.0 socket and a pair of A/V cable sockets, of which only one was being used. The box was silk-screened “Digital Dolby”. A remote completed the ensemble. The connection for the TV setup was like phone_line -> splitter -> ADSL modem with 4 10/100Mbit port -> IPTV-to-PAL converter->TV set.

BSNL is converting the digital transmissions from both pay services as well as free-to-air ones into MPEG4 format and streaming them. The proposed service would offer about 110 channels, I watched some 10 - 12 channels today. Plus I tried the VoD (Video-on-Demand) service, currently there are only 4 movies in their library, I tried the first one… it was Arjun Pandit … unfortunately, i was never a fan of Sunny Deol :-P

The picture and sound quality was consistent and sharp, but I did notice a few glitches now and then. This was apparently due to some new network switch being tested at the CalTel HO. The good news is that IPTV can be actually watched on the PC/Laptop without even the STB. What do we need of the computer… just VLC and the IP address and port numbers of the streaming server(s) :D

A look at Kolkata

Friday, April 27th, 2007

I had gone to meet the GM (IT) of Calcutta Telephones for some work. His office is on the 10th floor of the Tiretti Bazaar Exchange which is bang in the middle of central Calcutta… sitting just a few blocks away from the Calcutta Police HQ at Lalbazaar.

The view from the top was rather amazing… it looks so different from what seems like way up there… :-)


The Rabindra Seta (aka Howrah Bridge) can be seen towards the left part of the frame.


The following photo was taken on the road outside while waiting endlessly for the signal to turn green, the buses belching fumes, the 38 degree heat that felt much worse, the builders’ ad promising an affordable, mega-housing project for the middle-class and in midst of all that, the poster of a just release local movie - aptly titled “বিধাতার লেখা” quite literally “The Decision of God!” :-P


Intel UMPC boots into LTSP

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

Having some free time today, I decided to take the Classmate PC for a spin. The sample doesn’t have the provision for an optical drive. So the only way to install an operating system would be over a network using the PXE -> tftpboot approach. This would require taking the rather destructive step of removing the Windows XP Professional SP2 as shipped pre-loaded on the 2GB uDOC (formerly known as uDiskOnChip).

Rather than take the route without clearing this with the Intel people, I decided to take the middle way and boot it to LTSP. The booting was nice and fast. No tweaks from my end. There was one glitch though, the video card couldn’t be detected by the autoprobe, so it fail-overed into VESA. Although I suspect this may not be the case with an up-to-date distro. One trick that I had to resort to was to set the taskbar/panel in auto-hide mode. Otherwise, some of the dialog boxes are kind of unusable.

I took a few pictures. More on the UMPC coming shortly. Stay tuned! :)

img_2651 img_2652 img_2654

The Porient UMPC

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

At a price point of US$ 430 in volumes of 200 units, the Porient H9 UMPC looks interesting! It’s powered by a 520MHz Intel PXA270 processor, 128 MB RAM, a 20 GB HDD and comes with a 7-inch TFT touch screen (800 x 480), integrated GPS, Wi-Fi, GPRS/CDMA connectivity, and PCMCIA and SD card slot. The video of the product from CeBIT 2007 is here.

The other thing that caught my interest is that it runs off 5V DC at 2A… now *that* is something very, very nice! :D

Pictures of the Intel Classmate PC

Saturday, April 21st, 2007
00006 00009 00010 00013
00014 00015 00018 00037
00005 1.00006 00026 00021

Paying for FOSS

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

Pykota is a project that comes rather handy in my line of work, especially when I need to integrate print accounting for our clients. It has an active mailing list and the devel lead… Jerome Alet is very, very responsive and helpful. Of late I’ve been spec-ing a GUI project to Joe users interact with a pykota-based print system.

So while reading through the pykota wiki, i decided to pay the one-time USD 25 fee towards an unlimited site access. Did I really need the “extras” and value-adds that paying entitled me.The answer to that is both “yes” and “no“. “No” because me and team can easily work around the code, “yes” because why should I really waste our time to do things that Jerome and his team are already offering as a complete package. But yes, I did mentally debate if paying the money for something i got nearly completely for gratis, was worth it.

USD 25 amount to just a little less than INR 1100 (as the US$ is at one of its lowest levels in many years). It’s a small amount, but nonetheless it feels good to support a useful project. Incidentally, $25 is the same amount I pay annually at the moment for my Flickr Account without an apparent second thought :P

Playing with Intel Classmate PC

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

This evening, all of a sudden Intel folks turned up at work. After a bit of discussion on various things like what we were doing and the Intel vision of things, I was offered to test out a Intel Classmate PC which was announced in Brazil last year. The Celeron-M 900 MHz based unit was small and light, with a label “Engineering Sample” stuck above the 7″ screen, and Windows XP Pro loaded. Hence this was the 2GB solid state drive variety, with 256 MB of main memory out of which 8 MB was shared for the on-board 915 video.

Of course, one of my first attempts was to see if it would boot using Ubuntu LiveUSB. Apparently one needs to press F11 during the POST to bring up the boot-device selection list. Otherwise, its Windows, even disabling the HDD didn’t quite cut it. So far, the system boots, but there is no X11 and hence no gdm login screen. Quietly drops me to a BusyBox shell with a nice warning.

Tomorrow I shall try to see if I can install Ubuntu on it.

Impact of L10n

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

yesterday on my way back home, my driver parked the car on roadside somewhere along the way, saying he needed to pick up some spare part from a shop nearby. I got down from the car, and there was this tiny ramshackle shop. It was a 1 phone PCO, selling Coca Cola, assorted grocery items… the odd item amidst it all these was a 15″ TFT LCD monitor and a computer. A peek was enough to figure that it was running WinXP and had a few Internet Explorer windows open. As I watched the guy operating the computer, I saw people drop by the shop and talk to the operator. The operator would switch to a window that had all the text in Hindi. I *had* to take a closer look after all people actually using a Hindi website in Kolkata! And what do I find….??? It was an online lottery! :-(