From Windows 8 to 10 – The excitements and the disappointments.

tl;dr

I have been a Linux user for the past few years, but I grew up using Windows, and I have always been closely interested in it’s progress and moves.

When Windows 8 came out, I was like the only person I knew who didn’t hate the Metro. All my friends thought it was ridiculous, and truth be told, it was. It seemed as if they had forgotten that people neither have a bunch of huge touchscreens lying around in their place nor do they love the desktop experience in full touch, and Windows 8 was a weird cross between an OS optimized for touchscreen, and an OS that didn’t look like it would ever work well with touchscreens.

Accessing the desktop by clicking on a tile at the bottom left corner of the screen was oddly disturbing.. it felt like the desktop had lost it’s old integrity.. Like it was only a tile among many, like it was just another app like the ones accessed by clicking the other tiles. Furthermore, at times, it was hard to decide which world to live in: the metro, that had a really long way to go, and was far from mature, or the desktop that we’d both loved and hated for ages. For Developers, it both sucked and was an opportunity at the same time. They had a new platform to master; some would go on to proudly declare themselves to be of the first 100 developers for Windows apps. Some developers saw it as mere clutter. Another language and platform to come across and not-read articles of.

The question was: “Why?”

… 

 

Connect to the Internet via a Network Bridge [Windows]

You’ve got 2 computers at your place. A nice laptop, and a desktop that’s deprived of a wireless adapter. The laptop connects to the internet through the router, to which it wirelessly connects, however the PC has to do without internet since the router’s a bit too far away from the computer for a wired connection. 

In such a case, you might wanna consider (or might already have unknowingly) going for a network bridge. The idea is that you connect your computer to the laptop via an ethernet cable,  and the laptop to the router (WiFi). So in simple terms, you are connecting to the internet through the laptop which is connected to the internet.

But it’s not as simple as simply plugging in a cable. Some configurations have to be made, so here’s what you can do:

Open the “Network and Sharing Center” on your Laptop, and click on the “Change Adapter Settings” link. Select/Highlight both the Wireless and the Ethernet adapter, right-click, and click on “Bridge Connections.”
Now sit back and relax while Windows sets up the bridge and once done, check if another icon appeared among the adapters, representing the “Bridge.” Also, you might wanna check if both the two adapters are part of the Bridge. It’s pretty simple and all you gotta do is see whether or not it says ‘bridged’  next to enabled on the adapters’ icons. If either of them doesnt, right-click and select “Add to Bridge.”

Before you proceed, on your laptop, fire up CMD, and type in “ipconfig /all”, Note down the values it returns for “IPv4 address”, “Default Gateway”, “Subnet Mask” and “DNS Server.”

Now the Client-side configuration. On the other computer, go to the Ethernet Adapter’s IPv4 properties; check “Use the Following IP address.” Fill in the ‘Subnet Mask’, ‘Default Gateway’, and ‘DNS Server’ fields with the values you previously copied after running the ipconfig command on your laptop. However, in the IP Address field, add 1 to the last three digits, so that e.g. 168 becomes 169. As for the ‘Alternate DNS Server’ field, add 1 to the last digit just like you did for the IP Address. That’s it; check “Validate Settings upon exit”, click “ok”,”ok”,”close.”  After a few seconds, the other computer would be connected to the internet.

 

How to Assign a Static IP to on Windows Computer

A Static IP differs from a Dynamic one in the sense that the latter changes with every router reset, while the former always stays the same.

To change your IP to a dynamic one, follow these steps:

  1. Fire up CMD, and type in “ipconfig /all”
  2. Note down the values it returns for “IPv4 address”, “Default Gateway”, “Subnet Mask” and “DNS Server.”
  3. Open Network and Sharing Center (quickest and simplest way is to right-click the network icon in the system-tray and clicking on the link therein.)
  4. In the sidebar on the left, click on the ‘change adapter settings’ link.
  5. Double-click on the icon of whatever adapter you are connecting to the internet through.
  6. A window would pop-up. Right in the centre of the box, would be a list of items that the connection makes use of. Look for “Internet Protocol Version 4(IPv4)” in the list; select it; click properties.
  7. Another box would pop-up, but this one’s the last in the row. Now this step is where you make the real changes, but before you change anything, check if the “Use the following IP address” radio button is already checked, and if it is, quit straight away since it’s already static. However if not, then do check it.
  8. At least three of the previously disabled input fields would now be enabled. Fill the fields with the details you copied from the results to the ipconfig command. The last bit of the IP Address is variable and you can give it any value you wish, however, copying the existing would do the trick too.

That’s it you are done.

 

Creating a Counter-Strike Server using Port Forwarding and the dedicated-server application

First off, to create a server, you need additional files. The main executable of them being the “hlds.exe”, and if this one’s present, we must assume that the other prerequisites are present too, (including swds.dll, which is like a patch that allows non-steam clients.) If not present, just search for them, and download them.

Creating a server on a machine is no big deal. All you have to do is run the HLDS, and fill in the slots with whatever you wish, (who am I to limit the max no. of players on your server?) and I assure you that the slot for Server Name can carry anything. However, in the “UDP Port” slot, type “27015” since it’s the preferred (actually most-widely-used) port for CS. The Server’s up the moment you click But the thing is that the server’s local. It’s accessible only on your PC and on other computers on the same network, but not globally accessible over the internet. So how do we make it global?

That’s what we forward the ports for. To do so, login to your router, by typing the router’s IP address into the browser. TP-LINK users may consider this a complete step-by-step guide, though of course this applies to all, however different ones have slightly different UIs.

Anyways, once logged in, goto Forwarding and then to Virtual Servers, and click on . A form should greet you. Now in the Service port slot, type “27015”, (if there’s an “internal port” slot, leave it blank.) The rest can be left to the defaults, however in the IP Address Slot, type in your computer’s ipv4 address, and it should be static (unless you are looking forward to having to go through the whole damn procedure again and again.)
After inputting the IP, save the changes and now you are good to go.

Now others can connect to your server by typing into their CS consoles:

connect xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx:27015

(Replace ‘xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx’ with your router’s global IP address. To find out the global IP, the quickest and easiest way is to visit whatsmyip.org.)

 

Chromecast

Came across the term for the first time when I was checking out stuff on the play Store. It’s another project by Google, which in itself is naught but like a USB flash drive, but there’s more to it.
The Chromecast enables you to enjoy media content on your HDTV. Means if for example you come across a YouTube Video, while checking out your Facebook feeds, all you have to do is look for and press the chromecast button. It would prompt you with a list of available devices, selecting any of which would play the content on whatever device you chose. To do so, what you are gonna need is true chromecast USB device of course which has to be plugged into the TV.

Here, a link to the official video:
The Chromecast

 

Microsoft Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2

Couple of days back, Microsoft announced the ‘coming’ of the new Microsoft Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2; the former being the successor to Surface RT, while the latter of course succeeds the Surface Pro.

So, what else did Microsoft say about the two? and what new features do they pack?
First off, to the new and similar ‘features’. Both of them now come with a, what they call, “dual-angle Kickstand” , that can be adjusted to meet your requirements, so called improvements in battery life, ‘faster’ ‘than ever before,’  HD Screens, and support for USB 3.0. With both, you get about 200GB on SkyDrive free for 2 years, along with an year of ‘unlimited free voice calling to landlines in over 60 countries’, and ‘free Skype Wi-Fi at over 2 million hotspots worldwide.’

Now to the DIfferences.
The Surface 2 comes pre-installed with Windows RT, and touch optimized Office RT, to which, the addition of Outlook has been made. Battery life of about 10 hours, and the NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor ensure that you work ‘faster’ and ‘longer’ 😛

The Pro 2 would come with Windows 8.1, packs an Intel Core i5 Processor, and about 512GB of Storage. They also say that they’ve ‘taken advantage of the latest processor technology to provide longer battery life on a single charge.’ Apart from that, it has its own stylus i.e. the Pro Pen, and a ‘ brilliant 1080p widescreen display.’

Accessories include a Docking Station, Wireless adapter for type-covers, the touch/type-covers of course, and the Surface Music Kit (similar to the covers), an Arc Touch Mouse, and a car charger.

 

Cloud Services – Quick Reviews

With the passage of time, as ‘everything is moving to the cloud’ (pardon my excessive use of this quote, but it does really sum things up), the use of cloud storage is becoming common, and there are dozens of such services on the cloud each with its own uniquity, now the questions that arise are, “which one of them is the best?” “which one should i go for?” “can we really trust them with our data?” e.t.c. So, in this post, I’m going to talk a bit about the most popular (or at least the ones i prefer) cloud services on the web.

Microsoft’s Skydrive(formerly Windows Live Folders): Microsoft’s own cloud, that offers about 7GB of free storage. Apps are available for Windows, MacOSX and Mobile Devices i.e. Android and iOS. These apps are well integrated once you fully install them and do offer a Sync feature, but the best thing about SkyDrive is that it serves well as both: “access-through-browser” service and when installed, it can sync files between your PC and SkyDrive very well too. The Web Interface is what most people love about Skydrive, and you can also create and to some extent, edit documents e.t.c. It has this own great photo viewer, e.t.c. So on the whole, Skydrive isn’t too bad.

Google Drive: Taking into account the factors stated in the description of skydrive, Google Drive is perhaps the only other such service that’s in any way close to Skydrive. Google however offers 15GB, and, the photos and documents don’t take up storage space on the google drive, so it doesn’t really matter, and in fact, the later feature is good. About the Document thing, they can be created through Google Docs. Interface is good and clean and it too offers applications so that you can sync between PC and Drive.

Ubuntu One: Ubuntu One, my favorite, unlike the above two, has apps for all three platforms, offers 5GB of Storage and has an awesome Sync. Despite how lame the phrase ‘awesome Sync’ sounds, i really mean it. I never really could ever make efficient use of cloud services until i tried Ubuntu One. Google Drive can be troublesome when installing and Skydrive’s Sync features were kinda limited to special folders back then, and neither offered the speed and everything that Ubuntu One did. It merely flows, but the major drawback about it is that the Web interface doesn’t really go beyond listing the files and offering a few basic features like ‘delete’ and ‘download.’ And you might find that it doesn’t run as smooth on Windows as it does on Ubuntu itself, but then that’s what it was made for.

Bitcasa: Bitcasa offers about 10GB of free storage, and has a nice and clean interface. It too offers applications for Windows, Mac, and phones, but my usage of Bitcasa never went beyond creating and account and installing its chrome extension. I never really tried its apps so i cant say much about it. However I created the account in order to use it like a DropBox, where i can throw files when i have to. However what I liked about BitCasa was it’s Chrome Extension that allowed you to directly download stuff to your bitcasa drive, and thus beside ever download button is a ‘download to bitcasa’ button.

Flickr: Flickr is a photosharing website, backed by Yahoo, which, according to what it says on its home, offers about 1TB of free storage space, which you might not ever run out of. So if you have to store huge masses of pictures. Go for Flickr.

CloudApp: CloudApp is the best cloud service that exists. It’s quick and amazingly user-friendly, but it’s only available for MacOSX.

These  were the cloud services I normally use and prefer. As for the Question about ‘trust’, well, all i can say is that Microsoft are what brought computers to us, and thus have been in the game for ages. So i doubt that they care about what a single user from millions in his 196th country is storing on their servers, and as for Google, well, you trust google with quite a lot already + u use their email services. Clouds like bitcasa can be a problem, as even I didn’t really hear anything about it. I just came across it somewhere and liked it; tried it. Flickr’s Yahoo’s.

 

The UbuntuStart/StartUbuntu Project to shun XP

Windows XP, successor to 98, was a huge leap for MS, and well perhaps the most stable version of Windows ever in its time, the first release of which was launched in 2000, is still widely used. Whether it should still be used or not, is highly debatable. Some loyal supporters would argue with the fact that it’s about 3 versions old and yet extremely stable and supports everything, while others who have (or at least claim to) have looked into the issue state that, it’s no longer secure, and that it has compatibility issues and all.

Canonical seized the chance and began working on it immediately. The Ubuntu Start Project, the first releases of which are already up and available, aims to provide Windows XP users, (or users with PCs that support nothing much higher than XP,) with a “modern, unique, stable, fast, powerful, highly customizable, active and amazing community based system, open-source, free Linux-based system which should replace their very old no longer supported system.” 

From what I can make out after reading this, in itself, the project is more of a campaign to gain more users than a new redefined OS. Means that despite its purpose,  and how big the whole thing sounds, 50% of the project is just about persuading people to switch to Ubuntu, while the rest i.e. the software bit of the project is a script that has to be run after installing ubuntu, that would kinda enhance it for windows users so that they don’t have trouble getting used to the new environment, e.g. moving window buttons from left to right 😀 . Auto-mounting NTFS drives, (cause we are too lazy to make a single click), and it also installs GIMP, WINE, DropBox, some torrent client, and other such tools that one might need.

Can’t really say much about this myself as i haven’t tried the script myself yet.. however this was a smart move by Canonical, but on the other hand, XP users, if you are by any chance planning to make the switch, be prepared, for Linux is Linux. (no offence meant)

 

Where’s the ‘Innovation’?

Two days back, Sony unveiled its Xperia Z1 smartphone, that packs a 2.2Ghz Quad-core processor and a 20.7MP camera, and the same magnificent display, perhaps that’s a little larger too, and that’s the point. Every now and then, a new phone comes out, and it’s pretty hard to choose the best among them, as the competition is tough, but what exactly is it that a day-newer smartphone carries? A slightly better processor? perhaps an extremely high-res camera? or a water proof display? Or…Just a larger screen.

If this is what makes one phone superior over the other, then it’s no competition, considering that one carries better hardware, and thus is bound to perform better. Comparing a dual-core HTC with a Quad-core Samsung, or comparing the Water-proof Xperia with a normal Huawei, or a 41MP Lumia with any camera-ed device is similar to comparing a tank with a Vespa (no offence meant).

When Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone, in 2007, it didn’t pack a Quad-core either, but it really hit the market, and people fell in love with the idea, cause it was one. The idea behind the iPhone wasn’t to sell Dual-cores or water-proof phones, or integrated cameras,  or even fancy touch screens, but it was the Revolutionary UI that set it apart from others. If you dont get it, simply watch the video,( it’s available on Youtube, so i wont bother sharing a link.)

And soon, support for something similar was ported into Android, which arrived a bit earlier than the iOS, and yet, the latter is considered to be superior, (though personally, i love both.) That Android is what powers up most of todays’ smartphones, and the best of which is itself based on Steve Jobs Revolutionary UI.

True that Samsung introduced the ‘smart pause’ and the ‘eye focus’ is another rumored release, but even these two, though a huge leap, aren’t exactly needed, nor are they going to make life better for us.. They are simply building up on the same thing and adding to it, whatever they see, but this won’t do. They are supposed to be building mobile devices but going on the wrong track by enlarging the screen with every release. Similarly, it’s good for the phones to carry a camera, but the phone is not supposed to be a camera. The eye tracking thing of Samsung’s, is in itself, good, but do we really need it? though it sounds pretty simpler, it might put strain to the eyes, and it might be a bit error-prone, and what’s the point of it being in a phone? 

The floating touch / motion control, rumored to be in some model of Xperia, and the latter in SmartTVs, is pretty advanced too, but we dont need all this in our phones.. People prefer simplicity. Microsoft could have introduced it in their windows phones ages ago if they wanted too, seeing as we’ve seen something similar yet better in the XBox, but they dont have to or need to. The Simple UI of the Windows Phone 7+ is an example, of how they are keeping it simple, and how people are loving it.

The MotoX introduced the talk to your phone thing, and that was kinda something new, and so was the shake to open camera, though they are minor improvements, but do fall in the category next to the the Huawei’s Screen Temperature, HTC Zoe, and the Samsung’s counterpart to Zoe.

Nowadays, all improvements that are made to the smartphones are enlarging the screen or making it persistent, better RAMs or CPUs e.t.c., or perhaps in terms of better software, but it’s still the same smartphone. Where’s all the creativity, the innovation? Are they really running out of ideas?

 

Microsoft Acquires Nokia

Nokia, the Finnish manufacturer of Mobile devices, which has been a bit ‘out of the game’ in the recent years, especially since they gave up on the Symbian Mobile platform, and started with the Asha series, and could have had to face worse if it hadnt been for Microsoft, and they hadn’t produced the Lumia series of Windows Smartphones.

Yesterday, it was announced that the two have come to an agreement, where Microsoft is to purchase Nokia, and ensure the delivery of better and yet exciting devices. The transaction, according to the Technet blog, is to be made during the first quarter of 2014.

This might really put Nokia back in the game as a rival to HTC, Samsung and Apple, (which it already was, but not totally,) except that it will not be the same nokia anymore, but merely Microsoft, cloaked under the name, a change of which hasn’t yet been announced, and is likely to stay that way.

So,
Samsung, Apple, Huawei and of course HTC…
GAME ON!

 

GIMP – The free alternative to Photoshop

gimp28

Not everyone bothers to research on the subject, but almost every one of us comes to think of it. Photoshop truly is one of a kind; at least what most fans say, and satisfied with it, no one bothers to look for an alternative. However, it so happens that PS aint free, and that can be a bit of a problem, seeing as most people just need it as a side software, and arent exactly graphic designers, and thus to them, PS is not at all worth the money.
So they dont have much of an option but to use the trial, or pirate it.But there are those who dont feel too good about Piracy, or maybe they just dont wanna go for pirated software, OR maybe they think that pirating, the PROCESS, is not worth the time and effort or is a bit too taxing, and thus they prefer going for an alternative.The best Photoshop Alternative i ever came across, is the Gnu Image Manipulation Program, mainly known as GIMP. GIMP has almost all the features of PS, at least most of them, or more like all that know of. But well im no expert, nor much of a Graphic designer, so I wont make a good judge but still, the tool is definitely worth a try for those who are looking for an alternative to photoshop. Oh and I’d like to add that its UI can be a bit confusing for PS users, as its totally different from what i expected, but it works too, just different 🙂 .

 

Access Linux partitons through Windows

Linux and Windows, two of the most widely used OS’, and ‘which one is better’ is highly debatable. Now both have their own pros and cons, and well, experience can be a bit different and frustrating, when switching from one to the other.

Well, a common problem usually faced, especially by those who go for a dual-boot, is that Windows cant read/write/access Linux partions, while on the other hand, Linux can Windows’. But there are a variety of tools available that do enable you to access Linux partitions through Windows. Some only offer the read feature, while some even let you write changes to the disk.

After trying a whole bunch of them, the best i could find was the ParagonExtFS. This one works on all 3, i.e. XP, 7 and 8, and it has no confusing UI to deal with. Just a simple mount feature, just as in Linux, and thats it. Now you can Explore, view and edit Linux files through the Windows Explorer.

You can download ParagonExtFs from hereYes you have to register, but well doesn’t exactly matter. Just fill in the form with whatever’s required and click submit.

Now, check your email, i.e. the address you provided while filling in the form, for an email from eservice@paragon-software, that contains the download link.

Installing and operating is relatively easy, once installed, just run it, and a box will popup carrying a list of partitions; Linux ones marked yellow. Select a partition and mount it; specify a drive letter and thats it. Now you can explore the partition normally through the windows explorer.

 

Celestia

cel

Celestia is a 3D simulator of the Solar System. It’s pretty amazing actually. You can move about, lock onto planets, land on their surface. It’s not exactly limited to the solar system, more like the Universe, i.e. as much of it is known to mankind. You can even move out and visit other galaxies, systems, e.t.c. 

It also has a “TLC Feature 😀 ” that enables you to speed up or slow down time, or even stop it, or reverse it. That;s not all, it has a lot of features and is definitely worth trying.

Installing it in Ubuntu is relatively easy, simply fire up a terminal(CTRL + Alt + T), and paste the following code:
sudo apt-get install celestia-gnome

 

Nokia Lumia 1020, the first such smartphone to go 41MP

The Lumia 1020
The Nokia Lumia 1020, that’s said to be available on AT&T by the 26th of July, makes even the best of DSLR’s look inferior, it’s own rear-camera being  41MP with a max resolution of 7712 x 5360. Lenses: Zeiss, Flash is Xenon for still-captures, while there’s an LED one for Videos, their quality being 1080p, 30fps.

So well, let’s move to the rest of the specifications; Starting with Display. Screen-size is 4.5″, 15:9 aspect ratio, AMOLED Gorrilla Glass. Processor’s a 1.5GHz Dual-core snapdragon; slight disappointment for those expecting a quad-core. RAM 2GB, and Storage capacity 32GB, and front-camera is 1.2MP; another dissappointment.  

Well, quite a charm, and i’d love to get my hands on one. Who cares if it aint quad-core eh? It’s 41MP, and well, 2GB of RAM aint bad either. + its not-being-a-quad-core makes it comparatively more-affordable, seeing as the same model with a quad-core wont exactly go cheap.