Life with the Dell Mini

So my HP Pavilion finally died after 3 1/2 years of faithful service. The VGA was gone, which means the motherboard will have to be replaced. The display was having some issues too.

Enter the Dell Inspiron Mini. The small whiz.

Why a netbook? Cost factor and ease of transport. The machine cost Rs 40k after upgrading to a 2GB RAM.

The battery life is pretty good. Can stay up to 4 hours connected to the internet.

The main issue of a netbook is the small screen. The maximum possible resolution is 1024×600, which is very low indeed. You may come across a software now and then which would tenaciously ask for higher resolutions. But can live with that.

The speed is considerably low too. The processor’s a standard Intel Atom 1.67GHz chip. One has to learn to live with that.

The system came pre-installed with a Windows Starter and I’m fine with it so far. Installed Ubuntu too, but I’m looking forward to installing a lighter variant. Crunchbang perhaps. I don’t know.

I don’t need an android

Nokia E63So I decided, I really don’t need an android. My symbian is able to provide me with almost all the stuff I would want from a phone. With it I can read books, listen to music and podcasts, scrobble to last.fm, set alarms, tweet, check email and browse the web occasionally, look up for definitions, take notes, and finally, call and text. At the moment there really is no other reason why I should look for a better phone. Why would I pay huge sums just to have several more apps and play Angry Birds? So, until the day I get a job and collect enough cash to buy an HTC Desire, my sweet little E63 will stay by my side.

Linux to Windows transition

So I had to install Xilinx 13.1 for our final year project and only the Windows version was available. Which means I had to install Windows 7 in the laptop alongside Ubuntu.

Oh, the woes in Windows. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, you get totally bewildered and frustrated in this proprietary operating system.

First, there’s no Compiz. The desktop and windows look pretty ugly. Thanks  to aero the ugliness is reduced a bit.

Then there are no multiple workspaces. Can you just imagine? Having to work in a single desktop?! But thankfully there’s a solution available, albeit a less-than-perfect answer to the problem. You can install this little piece of software and it will give you something similar to multiple desktops. Not as good or native as in linux anyway.

And the next problem was the lack of double-finger scrolling. Again a small software comes to the rescue. Still it’s less-than-perfect.

Viruses? Yes, you have to be wary of those creatures in this less secure operating system. Installed Microsoft Security Essentials just in case.

I hold no grudge against Windows. I’ve used it since the 95 version and I won’t hesitate to say it’s a good operating system. It’s just that you don’t get the good feel or ease you get in linux. Hope they learn from peers like linux and OS X and improve the OS in the upcoming versions at least.

Higher education abroad?

No, thanks. If I had any idea of doing an MSc or a PhD after this degree, it’s gone now. All that’s on my mind now is to finish the degree ASAP and to get into some employment.

That being said, I know that there are many Sri Lankan undergrads who’d love to have their higher education abroad at a reputed college or university. The main barrier for these students is the lack of information and contacts to pursue those goals. Applying to a foreign university is a process totally different from and more difficult than applying to a local one.

But thanks to a team of Sri Lankan graduate students who are now pursuing their higher education abroad, that barrier has been made negligible. SL2College, the programme they’ve launched, aims at “bridging the gap in higher education” for those Sri Lankan undergraduates interested in studying further.

Yoshani, a core member of the SL2College programme, says,

SL2College is a global Sri Lankan network of mostly graduate students who volunteer to help Sri Lankan students reach their higher education goals. We providing information about opportunities available locally and in universities overseas. There are various activities at SL2College such as mentoring students, having skype sessions to talk to students directly, educational exhibitions, research collaborations, etc. At SL2College we believe that every student has the potential to succeed and we are determined to help them out!

Further information can be found here and in their website. If you have any colleagues or friends willing to pursue higher education, please pass the message.

Evernote and me

I use Evernote a lot. Coz you think of anything and you can use Evernote for that.
First it was for saving the usernames and passwords of the khazillion of sites I’ve registered in. Another note was made to save the important bank account numbers, registration numbers and the like. Yet another note holds the serial keys of stuff I’ve purchased.
Then I got used to saving quotes and other important notes in Evernote. This is made easy by the Web Clipper extensions available in Chrome and Firefox. You can grab any part of the page, even with pictures, and instantly save in a note in Evernote.
Since recently I started saving various measurements I take in notes. For example it hold notes for my shoe size, shirt size and so forth. Saved me from a lot of hassle. You can also take notes about what you loan to others, etc. If you own an iPhone or an Android life becomes much more easy coz you can capture images and instantly send them to Evernote. And tagging the notes can keep everything organized.

P.S. And here’s 100 random things you can do with Evernote: http://www.andrewcmaxwell.com/2009/11/100-different-evernote-uses/

Facebook Questions – The good, the bad and the ugly

Bad facebook questions
What is the best school/university in this area?
In which month/year were you born?
Which country/province are you supporting for this certain sports event?

Good facebook questions
What is your favorite Metallica album?
What is the best animation movie ever?
What do you think is a violation of “human rights”, this or that?

Ugly facebook questions
What is your current favourite mobile phone platform?
Who is most trusted woman in you life?
What’s the best age to get married/do something?

Symbian and Evernote

Yes, we all hate Symbian, more or less. But if all you have is a Symbian you have to learn to live with it. And learn to love it.
The app I miss the most in my Symbian is Evernote. There’s no official or unofficial Evernote client for Symbian. There is one for Symbian^3 I guess, but that’s no longer in development and works only in Nokia N97.

But still, you can access the Evernote mobile from your phone. Yes, it’s not as slick or fast as using a native app, but you get full control over your notes in this mobile version. It won’t load images so it’s faster than a normal web site.

If all you need is to make a small note, there’s yet another option. Use Twitter. Everyone has Gravity installed, right? Include @myEN in your tweet and the tweet will automatically saved as a new note. (You have to activate this in Evernote settings and follow @myEN). Or you can simply DM @myEN.

Learn to love your Symbian.