30 December 2004

Donate for a cause.

Not many people read this blog, but those who do, I request you to contact the nearest Tsunami Disaster Relief agency and chip in whatever you can afford. Every penny counts. This is the time when the social resposibility towards other humans requires us to do as much as we can to help the survivors of the South Asian Diasaster. I'm sure we can forego our daily cup of tea/coffee and contribute to the cause.

I did my part by donating to Red Cross. Here are a few other agencies you can donate to:
Tsunami Blog

28 December 2004


There is only ONE superpower - Nature. No nukes, patriots, or even cruise missles can provide the defence to anyone from it. The best defence is to repect nature.

25 December 2004

Futureshop.ca Woes

Just like last year, I braced up myself to buy a bit of computer hardware during the Boxing Day (BD) sale at Futureshop(FS). Last year, I was just plain lucky to to actually get the rebate as Futureshop completely refused to honor the Mail-in-Rebate as I had made the purchase 5min before midnight PST! Do they open their stores in the East coast according to their store times for the West coast? However, Western Digital was considerate enough to understand the problem and send me the MiR.

This year(BD sale started at 0000hrs 25Dec05), I was expecting more rush for the online BD sale with more and more people subscribing to high speed internet. So as expected, the site was almost unreachable till 0200hrs 25Dec04. When I was finally able to login(FS asked me to quote one of earlier order numbers, nice security if you haven't ordered something for some months), I selected the 256MB Kingston USB key drive and added it to my basket. Trying to checkout was futile because all I was getting was VB Script errors. When I got through about half an hour later, it again asked for my login and password!! Why did they ask me a second time? OK, fine. I assume that my session expired. But then I had to tell them an older order number from my record again. On submitting the info again for the second time, I got to a page telling me that the site was very busy. Didn't they know that the website will be busy during their boxing day sale? They should have taken appropriate measures so as to provide the users a pleasent experience.

I finally got to the point of providing payment information. Typed it in, and clicked confirm payment info button. That went in allright, but the confirm page had a message at the top that the product I was trying to order was already soldout! It was just like someone took stuff out of your basket while you were still shopping in an actual store.

And that was not all, worse happened the next night. I wasn't even able to login between 0000hrs and 0200hrs 26Dec04!

A better system would hold the item for the user for a few minutes or so. They could alert logged-in users just before the holding time expires, or keep the item if the user has initiated the payment process. They need to update their systems or atleast lease more computing power for the few days when they know it will be very busy. Not all systems need additional power, even increasing the computing power for the login and payment system would be of great help. I think it would be a good idea for Futureshop to spend sometime on improving their own Future by working on their customer dealing methods.

11 December 2004

After Browsers and WWW Search, Desktop Search is heating up

With the ongoing wars between different search engine companies and internet browser companies going on, a new front is opening up: The Desktop Search. Yes, its time we got good destop searching softwares. Its getting hard to find stuff on such huge hard disks we are able to get these days!
  • Goolge has just recently released their Google Desktop Search Tool.
  • Microsoft will soon release their MSN Toolbar Suite (possibly in December 2004), which will be configured to run in Outlook, Outlook Express, Internet Explorer and as Deskbar Toolbar. Report and Screenshots. This is probably something to fill the void of a delayed Longhorn release which initially was advertised to the have Microsoft's revolutionary file system WinFS.
  • Yahoo! is too planning to release their own desktop search system and make a niche in destop search field. The major difference in Yahoo! destop search will be that it won't employ a browser to show the results.
  • Copernic, which already offers a wonderful desktop search system, just recently announced the integration of their desktop search software with Firefox.
It will be interesting to watch the big players fight to get their share of the desktop pie in the coming few months. I just hope that we, the users, get the best possible software for our desktop searches.

7 December 2004

The French err... Swiss Connection...

After a long time I have heard good news about Chandigarh, one of the creations of the famous architect, Le Corbusier. Two tapestries from the courtroom of Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice were restored by the National Museum. The process of restoration took almost 2 months. Of the 12 tapestries created by Le Corbusier(woven by the then East India Carpet Company), 11 remain and the National Museum team will taken on bigger ones of the 11 for restoration. This was reported in The Tribune.

A little bit more about Le Corbusier: He was born in 1887 in the Swiss town of La Chaux-de-fonds and later adopted French nationality. In 1951 he was appointed the Architectural Advisor to the Punjab Government to design their new capital, Chandigarh. More detailed biography of LeCorbusier can found at the Foundation Le Corbusier website.

For a good introduction to Chandigarh and Nek Chand's Rock Garden, visit Carl Lindquist's Carl Lindquist's web site and Nek Chand Foundation website.

6 December 2004

Ubuntu Linux CDs

After a long wait the Ubuntu Linux CDs I had requested finally arrived today. Canonical Ltd. is doing a very good job at spreading Linux to the masses by providing FREE, pressed CD sets of Ubuntu (Live CD + Ubuntu "Wharty" 4.01).

Now that the CDs have arrived, Canonical's part has finished and now my part of distributing the CDs starts.

If anyone wants to order Ubuntu Linux CDs, visit www.ubuntulinux.org as they are still shipping the CDs free of charge to where ever :)

4 December 2004

Help needed for NvuHelp

Due to the unavailability of a Mac OS based machine we are not able to verify the correctness of the MacOS "keyboard shortcuts" for NvuHelp. We need to know if any of the keyboard shortcuts have been wrongly documented. As NvuHelp is packaged in Nvu 0.60, the current keyboard shortcuts as documented right now are available in it.

If you have a MacOS based machine and are interested in helping please check if all the keyboard combinations work for you or not. If there are errors, write down the command and the correct keyboard shortcut combination and send the list to me.(Email at "kdsDOTsahambiATgmailDOT com" or just add the list as a comment to this post.)

1 December 2004

XHTML query

Can anyone help me with this?

I need to have an hyper-link in an XHTML document. The link contains a few & symbols for variable separation. If I use it directly, & is considered as a start for special entity and is not validated (browser shows an error). And if I use its Hex code %26 in its place, clicking on the link does not open the intended page.

Any suggestions?

For the timebeing I am using tinyurl.

30 November 2004

OOoFf calculations.

Recently, Linspire announced that they were going to sell a software package consisting of OpenOffice and Firefox in retail stores and online for US$29.95. There has been a lot of heated exchange of words between mozillazine community members and at other places too.

People have complained that selling the "open source" softwares which are available for free from the web, would be equivalent to cheating the customers. I think provinding the information that the softwares can also be downloaded from the web free of cost would be playing fair with the customers.

However, the question of legitimacy of selling the open source softwares still remains. The licenses under which the softwares are provided might allow users to sell the software under certain conditions.

But is it justfiable to actually sell the software which is free? I would say YES (in majority of cases), if you consider the following analysis. Consider the people who just have a dialup modem connection available and pay their phone company by the amount of time of phone use rather than a lumpsome. (Its sad that today's average high speed internet user assumes that everybody else is also using a high speed connection!!) Simple calculation* would result into a total time of a little less than 3hours(2h57min) to download OpenOffice(44MB) and Firefox(4.7MB) for Windows (other OS distros are much larger). Is it justifiable to spend so much time and money to download the softwares which one could get by paying a few extra dollars(or whatever unit of money) from a nearby retail store? I would definitely go with the second choice. And in effect would end up getting some exercise by going to the retail store rather than resting my bum on the chair in front of the PC!! Moreover, Linspire's funding of various open source projects makes the money go the complete cirle :)

If you still don't agree, I would suggest you advise the parent open source organizations to concentrate on marketing themselves.

* assuming a sustained transfer rate of 5kBps (I get something about 4.3kBps).

29 November 2004

Linux Discoveries ....

Linux IS fun to play with :)

kds@localhost:~$ hddtemp /dev/hda
/dev/hda: MAXTOR 6L040J2: drive is sleeping
kds@localhost:~$ hddtemp /dev/hdb
/dev/hdb: WDC WD800JB-00ETA0: 32 C

27 November 2004


Lt. Gen J.J. Singh to be the country's first Sikh Chief of Army staff.

24 November 2004

We should learn form them...

Just read this news article on BBC News. Although, Man has progressed so much but I still think we have to learn a lot of stuff from our other friends on the planet. Had we learnt this earlier, we wouldn't have 9/11, Darfur, Iraq, etc happening here on Earth.

Let there be peace.

Edit: Minor spelling corrections.

23 November 2004

Paris aime le Bollywood?

It looks like Bollywood is spreading. The latest in the news is the fashionable and romantic capital of France, Paris. After the hits like Bend it like Beckham and Monsoon Wedding and more lately Bride and Prejudice, Paris will be the center of stage for the upcoming movie "One Dollar Curry". Read the report in Times of India.

The only thing which comes to mind is: Why are they pricing using "$" in France? Didn't it use to be Franc or Euro? Ah......probablement l'influence de bollywood ;)

22 November 2004

Interruption in serving web pages

After getting some annoying advertisements, I had moved the couple of pages I had on geocities to my own machine. Off lately, actually in the last two days, I have been trying to get some hardware to work in Linux and had to reinstall the Windows part of the machine. Not that I boot my machine in Windoze too often(last time was a couple of months ago), the decision was made just because the bloddy $OS$ refused to do an update and was giving errors.

So in case you were trying to view the couple of pages I host myself (for the time being), and couldn't get to them due to machine downtime, please accept my appologies. The machine is working fine now and you should be able to view the pages any time (barring any unforseen reboots!).

10 November 2004

Who killed Firefox?

Ah, so Firefox 1.0 is finally out. I couldn't load the Mozilla.org website in the morning, and heard similar complaints from a couple of people who have it as their homepage. I'm sure the Fire is out there burning $ome and hope it doesn't burn its own servers!

But my Firefox(Debian build 0.99+1.0RC1-4) and Mozilla(Debian/1.7.3-5) were both killed today. And guess who was responsible for that: www.spreadfirefox.com. Seems kind of ironic to be killed by one of your own!

8 November 2004

Bookmarks with Delicious and Firefox

I have been thinking of a way to make all my important bookmarks available to me when I am browsing the net. One way was to copy the bookmarks.html file to all the machines I work on. But that meant that I would have to update the file on all other machines when I added another bookmarks. And what about when I am at a friend's place using his computer?

So the next idea was a webserver with WebDAV enabled. This idea was also scratched as I neither own a domain nor have a web host. And the internet connection at my place is pretty unreliable.

Third option, a USB key drive. That would be ultimate option as I could carry around the Firefox installation and run it off the drive. Doesn't matter where I go, I would only need a USB port. But I don't have one yet, and I'm hunting for a nice deal for a 1GB USB drive under $50. I'm sure I'll be able to buy one with these contraints by January.

So, for the time being I am using delicious for my bookmarks. Firefox's latest release has RSS support for bookmarks and they are called "Live Bookmarks". Delicious provides RSS feeds for all categories for my bookmarks. I added the categories as Live Bookmarks in a Personal toolbar folder. Below you can see a snapshot of Live "Delicious" Bookmarks in action. The last Live Bookmarks in the folder is for all categories.

Ain't got Firefox yet. Get the 1.0 release on Tuesday, 9 November.

7 November 2004


For a long time, I had not fiddled with an home appliance. Today, a friend of mine called me up and said that the new antenna he bought from the $$ store did not give any performance boost to his TV reception. So off I went to his appartment and saw that he was right. But it was surprising that not even the free PBS channel was being picked up. Then I noticed that he was using the AV cable from the VCR to the TV. And there was no way I could find out to start the VCR channel tunning.

Then I thought why not try to hook the antenna straight to the TV. Here was the problem, the jack for the antenna cable was broken :(. No probs, I have worked with tuners earlier too. I opened up the TV, and the tuner, soldered two cables to it and connected the antenna cable. Lo and behold!! Upon tuning we were able to catch about 8 channels, with 5 of them crystal clear (although 3 were French :( ). But the best part was the Butter Chicken his wife cooked for us....yummy.

This guy is lucky for me. Keeps my hands in technicals stuff. Last time I had ended up opening and soldering his partly broken old laptop. It still is running happily :)

4 November 2004

Built PC all by myself.....Yeah

As the title says, I built a PC from scratch. Its a bit hard to get the processor assembly on the board, everything else can be marked as a medium difficulty task. The machine was at my part-time job so I had to be really careful to not to mess it up. As a result, I am now confident enough to buy a PC in parts and assemble it myself.

Gotta get some money in the bank for the parts then.......

2 November 2004

Once burnt, never cautious!!

I don't think I will ever learn!! Today while making tea, there was not sugar in the sugar pot. I checked the storage and found a jar with sugar in it. Made tea, took first sip, yuck!! What the f***!!

The one spoon of "sugar" I had added was actually salt. Damn it, when will they learn to have sugar and salt granules of different sizes.

Thats one of the reason I luv Indian sugar.

31 October 2004

Three cheers for Mozilla/Firefox :)

I feel bombarded with all these animations which come up on various webpages, especially on news websites. These constantly moving animations are such a distraction that sometimes its just like I felt while working in the smithy shop during my first year of engineering.

Solution: In Mozilla/Firefox change the preference( in about:config) image.animation_mode to "once" and the animations will play only once and stop give you peace of mind.

Gmail in ICEWm sucks

This is the first time I used gmail while logged on with ICEWm window manager. While composing a message even pressing a space bar gives a spike touching 100% processor usage!!

Could it be the Javascript which is playing spoilsport? Even backspace is working as if the machine has had half a dozen Buds! Even my Pentium133MHz old box works faster than this.

For the record: blogger also crashes if I use the gui button for adding html links (irrespective of which window manager I use).

19 October 2004

Cascades(Nvu) Review - II

Reading the recent "Nvu Wishlist" by B.Smedberg, I finally thought of gathering up the few ideas I have had about the CSS editor, during the few hours I tested Nvu 0.50. Carrying on from the CaScadeS UI review, here are a few suggestions (feature requests/improvements) that would make CaScadeS more user friendly and an easier to use tool for a beginner.
  • Right-click menu in the left pane for the listed style sheets. The menu could contain choices like: disable, delete, unlink stylesheets and/or view in a text editor.
  • (OT) Add a menu to change the style sheet being used without the need of firing up CSS editor.
  • Better way to save the changes done by CSS editor. Presently, one can only save the changes if he saves the document immediately after closing the CSS editor. Whereas, if any other change is made between closing the css editor and saving document, all style changes are lost.
  • Comments. All the features like "Up Button", "Down Button", and "Comments" are basically providing better way to organize your style sheet. I'm sure experienced users can appreciate the importance of a well organized and commented stylesheet. I understand that the css editor is aimed to make style sheet generation easy for beginners as there is no actual text editing involved. But providing the feature for commeting is a must have.
  • CSS editor should stop using absolute paths for style sheet file name and other style definitions like background-color as it breaks the web page viewing almost every time when it is published.
  • When CSS editor is started, it should focus on either the only style sheet linked to the webpage(internal or external) or it should focus on last used style sheet or the one which is enabled. Right now, the focus is on none. Also, when a users clicks on "Refresh" focus is lost again.
With all the effort needed to get accustomed to using the CSS editor with Nvu, these changes (and more as they keep popping in my head now and then) will definitely help in making Nvu a web-authoring system for newbees.

The (unofficial) manual for CaScades can be found here. I was referring to it yesterday, and due to its lack of structure and flow, I'm planning to update it soon. Suggestions/critiques are invited to make it a better reference.

KDE Discovery!

Useful or not? Don't know! But here goes:

If you want to use a window out of a grouped task bar window list, instead of clicking and selecting, hover your mouse over it, and roll the mouse-wheel. The window focus will cycle through the list of windows in that group.

17 October 2004

Good Luck Akbal.

Akbal, good luck for future. Just thought that I should say good bye, as I'll most probably not wake up early to see you off.

I hope your application process finishes in regular time so that you come back soon. And this time, with your wife.

I'm sure we will be seeing each other in 3-4months back home. I envy you as you will be eating home made food(be careful, I advise joining a fitness club!) and enjoy at University Point. I can't wait to go back home. I'll catch you there mate....Enjoy and have a nice time.

Which File Extension are you?

You are .rpm  You have a nice package.  You can be useful, but your many variations sometimes make you tough to find.  You aren't apt to get jealous.
Which File Extension are You?

Which OS are you?

You are Debian Linux. People have difficulty getting to know you.  Once you finally open your shell they're apt to love you.
Which OS are You?

15 October 2004

Form items in Firefox improved

Garrett LeSage has improved the way form elements are displayed in Firefox. Form fields are much enahanced and buttons actually give a feeling of being pressed when you click on them. You can download the second version of his forms.css from his blog. The second version include an improved display of radio buttons over the first one.

This is another example of how easily Firefox can be improved if you don't like it.

12 October 2004

Nvu 0.50 is out

New version of the WYSIWYG html editor, Nvu, is out. Download it from here. Features include:
  1. State-of-the-art Gecko rendering engine

  2. Syntax highlighting (New)

  3. Positioning rulers: Horizontal and Vertical

  4. CaScadeS. The inbuilt style sheet editor

  5. Bidirectional text capability

  6. Internal HTML validator

  7. Spell Checker

and more....

11 October 2004

Linux Discoveries

I just discovered two wonderful Linux programs which rival any of similar ones available for Windows(but are not free...hehe).


Kile is a TeX/LaTeX editor with an easy to use GUI. Kile also has other fantastic features like auto completion of latex commands, project manager, easy insertion of citations and bibliography manager, etc. If you are using similar program in Windows, Kile is another reason for you to shift to Linux.

You are afraid that on Linux you will have to burn your CDs using age-old command-line terminal? Here is the solution for you:K3b. K3b is a CD and DVD burning software optimized for KDE. Its GUI can challenge any other commercial programs available (for windows) in the market. You can easily copy a CD, make audio CDs, and even write your own DVD with it(DVD authoring tools are different from K3b). Although I was happy using the commandline for my CD/DVD burning needs, but K3b discovery has given me another good reason to explain to my friends the benefits of shifting to Linux. Check out the list of features K3b has to offer.

Gone are the days when people used to say that one won't be able to adapt to Linux after being a M$ Windows user. There are so many programs available in Linux ranging from Kids education to C++ programming, 3D imaging, and professional quality image editing softwares. And the best thing is:Its free!!. I'm sure if you grab one of the Linux distros from DistorWatch and try it, you will be surprised how easy it is to work in Linux.

8 October 2004

Bush-Cheney Corp's IT knowledge

Cheney: factcheck.com
Bush: Internets


Bush Kerry debate II

The Bush and Kerry debate number 2 just started at Washigton University. And from Bush's expression, it just looks like he has already lost it.


Lately, there were many posts on the web speculating that Google is planning to introduce a new browser of its own. While people are still speculating and without any concrete evidence, Google has been busy introducing its Google Print and Google SMS services to the world.
Looks like this is just the start of things. Lets see what Google has in store for everyone!!

Windoze and NAV

Phew!! A couple of days ago I helped a friend re-enable his Norton Antivirus realtime protection. The process took about 4 (four) hours!!

My friend has a Dell machine and uses WinXP Pro. He complained that his scheduledl virus scans did not start and there was an error whenever he tried doing a manual scan. So when I got some time, I went fully loaded (Knoppix Live CD, a CD-RW containing Firefox, Thunderbird, Spybot, AdAware, Zone Alarm, Norton Corporate(University license allows students to use at home. Hence is a legit copy!!) AV, and PMagic boot floppies.
I tried changing settings and stuff but the scan would not start. I asked my friend since when was this happening. He said since he did some settings change, installed SP2 and a system restore!! :( I have never trusted a system restore and this SP2 was a bigger pain. So to be on the safer side, I did a manual update of the virus definitions and tried a manual scan after rebooting. Nothing!

Finally, I decided to uninstall NAV and redo the installation. When I tried to uninstall, it asked for a password. I figured that being NAV corporate client version it might require some special password, which obviously I didn't know. So back to google searching for solutions. The most promising(and dangerous) one was: manual uninstall.

Backed-up the registry in case I screwed up the manual uninstall. Then I started the steps of manual uninstall one-by-one. Symantec spills a lot of registries when it installs the antivirus. It took me almost an hour and a half to finish it. And still I'm sure there would be some registries present indicating previous NAV install. Somebody should sue Symantec for screwing up the users machine even when they have unistalled the software.

Reboot. Check antivirus. Absent. Install again. Done. Manual virus definitions update. Reboot. Realtime protection was still not on. But I was able to scan the machine. Live update wasn't working either.

Realtime protection was set to ON after another reboot. That was a breather... But liveupdate was still not working. After a bit of searching, I checked the list of Remove/Install Programs. Lo and behold, Live update which should have been there was not listed. I started the liveupdate setup and got it to work in the end.

His NAV client is working fine now. Also as the SP2 has a firewall, I told him the the rest i.e. Firewall, and malware check will have to wait for next time. I just hope everything stays the same the next time visit him for pending things. You never know when problems will be there in your Windoze OS.

:) It feels nice to be using Debian after seeing these kind of things.

27 September 2004

DVD backup on Linux

I was finally able to backup a DVD that I bought on a DVD+R and a DVD-R. I had been planning on doing this for a few days, but did get down to it. So yesterday, I did a little search about DVD writing in Linux and how to copy the data from a DVD to your HDD. Here is how I did it:

  1. Copy data from the DVD using the following command and you will get an iso image for the DVD.
    $ dd if=/dev/hdd of=/data-disk/dvdimage.iso

  2. To write the iso image to the DVD-R or DVD+R, use the command
    growisofs -dvd-compat -dvd-video -Z /dev/hdd=/data-disk/dvdimage.iso

You will get an exact copy of the original DVD. The DVD I copied did not have a region lock, so I don't know what happens if your hardware is not for the same region. I will try doing that if I can get hold of some other region's DVD (..he he ..just for fun).

I didn't get the max speed from the writer even though it can support it 8x. The writing speed also depends on the media used, which may not be fully supported by your hardware. To check media support use the following command:
dvd+rw-mediainfo /dev/hdd

Above /dev/hdd should be changed to your dvd drive's device listing. And /data-disk/ is a partition (25GB) on my HDD for huge data storage. For copying a single sided DVD you should have more than 4.2GB of space. For double sided its around 8.3GB. For the backup process, I used my NEC ND2510a Dual Layer DVD writer.

Beware! JPEG virus exploit is here.

As expected, someone has already put up an exploit making use of the JPEG vulnerability announced by *Misrocoft* about a problem in their GDI driver that processes the way JPEG images are displayed. It was posted on Usenet today (26, Sept 2004). More detailed information can be found at http://www.easynews.com/virus.txt and it also contains the link to the file, so be careful.

17 September 2004

Using feed readers

Yesterday I had just bumped into Liferea(Linux Feed Reader). A free RSS, ATOM, etc feed reader for linux users. I was impressed with its ability to show feeds like I reading good email without junk. It is also capable of searching feeds from Feedster and showing it to you, all from within Liferea. Smart isn't it?

And just after an apt-get today I found new official packages for mozilla-thunderbird 0.8 were available for my Debian box. Thunderbird also has a nice interface for a feed reader. It can be made much more powerful by adding the Feedster search feature of Liferea.

The only feature I was expecting theses feed readers would have is to show comments too. Wouldn't that make the blogs like really "tiny" newgroups. Hope the people using newgroups do not stop using them with all this blogging thing happenning now.

15 September 2004

N|vu nightlies coming soon.

N|vu the standalone version of Mozilla composer will be soon available as a nightly version build on an old PC. The builds will be FC2 based. This info was given out on the main dev's blog.

What about nightlies for other architectures? Hey, its progress being made, albiet step-by-step.

Spread Firefox : Button campaign!!

The Spread Firefox team has announced a preview release of their beta website. They are aiming to get a million downloads for Firefox's latest 1.0PR release. Also, the site will monitor the number of visitors which are referred by your webpage/weblog with a new set of shiny buttons available from the same site. I'm sure the target of a million downloads will be achieved easily as was the case with the Download.com review campaign. However, I noticed one surprisingly odd thing regarding the Button campaign:

Most of the Mozillazine.org hosted weblogs do not support Firefox buttons!!

Out of the 24 hosted weblogs, only 8 of them support the "Get Firefox" buttons. That is only 1 out of 3!! And out of the 8 which support those buttons, they are obvious on only 5 of the weblogs. By "obvious" I mean that one doesnot have to scroll the page to make the button visible. Also, there are some dead blogs among them. If the dead blogs are not considered, its still only 8/18 ~ 44.44% of support from the very people who are closely linked to Mozilla.org/Firefox. (I did consider Asa's blog in the 5, but it could be debated as the button on his blog is visible but hidden and looks like the part of the image on the left side of the page)
The Mozillazine.org hosted weblogs should have been the first ones supporting the buttons as these people are linked to Mozilla.org more than anyone else. The button campaign should have started from within the Mozilla.org community. Still, it would be a good move if the Spread Firefox team contacts the respective weblog owners and requests them to include "Get Firefox" buttons on their weblogs.

10 September 2004

Nvu CaScades UI review

I have had a hard time learning how to use Nvu's CSS editor. While I was learning myself, I did write down a few points to remember and over time it has developed into a decent tutorial/manual(although now that I read it again, I think it needs a redo for better flow and structure). It can be found here.

Also, there have been others like me who struggled to find ways to use its functions. Below is a simple review of CaScadeS's UI from a beginner's point of view:

Nvu CSS editor, CaScadeS, is a very easy way to style your webpages. It is capable of using inline style rules, internal style sheets or even external style sheets. You can easily have alternate (multiple) style sheets attached with your webpage when using it. And the final style sheet code produced by the CSS editor is standards compliant.

However, for the new users the CSS editor is something they have to "learn" to use rather than being an "intuitive" interface. Here are a few suggestions on how to improve it:

  1. Saving of the style sheet should be made more obvious. As of now, style sheets can be saved by first creating/editing rules in the editor, closing it and then clicking the "Save" button in Nvu. Untill unless someone tells the new user that he has to follow this procedure to save the style sheet, I don't think he would beable to "discover" it himself.
  2. Buttons like "Link elt." and "Style elt." need to renamed to something more obvious. As Nvu is aimed at a general user and not at web designers, the button's function should be such that it "speaks out" its own function. Even having tooltips for these buttons would be really helpful.
  3. I have read somewhere that the "Down" button is still pending implementation. I wonder how hard it would be to implement it when the "Up" button is already working (though the opposite way!).
  4. The CSS editor window design has some serious bugs. For example, if there is an image linked by a rule and the corresponding image's path is too long, users loose the visibility of "Close" button.
  5. Automatic focus on default style sheet. When one opens the CSS editor, no style sheet is selected and the user just gets a blank right-pane. A style sheet should be automatically selected (may be the default one). This way the right pane won't look plain blank but show basic info about the selected style sheet.
And for those who know the web designing well, it would be really helpful to include a feature to add comments in the style sheets. Every web designer knows that when a style sheet becomes larger, comments are the only tool to make logical sections in the style sheet.

I hope the Nvu developement team considers the suggestions given above and implement atleast some of them to make the css editor a better tool accompanying Nvu.

Back online....

Finally, I'm fully back online. For those who are still wondering what happened:

I couldn't browse several sites for the last week and the audio was gone too. I tried solving the problems for a couple of days, but was unlucky. Finally, it all started with me working into the wee hours to "clean" someone's Windoze machine and the very next day I was able to solve the audio problem on my Linux box too. The "Timed Out" error for several sites too long but I was satisfied to get to the root of the problem. I guess this is what happens when you stay on the burning edge with Debian Unstable.

My next small project will be tinkering with Gmail, will post if successful. And did I forget to tell that I have 4 spare Gmail invites!! Drop me a comment with unobfuscated email address if you want an invite.

1 September 2004

Mozilla.org's new website design

Mozilla.org published their redesigned website. The new design is a sleek one and looks pretty modern. Good Work.

I think these kind of changes are important as the old website with the "ochre" kind of theme was also a good design when it was revealed. Redesigning directly shows that the organization is actively developing their products and attracts users (old and new ones) when there is a redesign.

Guru Granth Sahib: Quadricentennial Celebrations

Congratulations too everyone on the 400th anniversary of installation of Guru Granth Sahib. The teachings in the scriptures have become more and more important to be understood and practised in the present world for peace and prosperity.

In Pictures, PhotoEssay, Celebrations, News1, President's message, Eternal Guru .

27 August 2004

Happy B'day Mother Teresa

Happy Birthday Mother Teresa(26 Aug 1910 - 5Sept 1997). Was it just by coincidence that I went to St. Joseph's Oratory on this day?

Official website for Cause of Canonization
In Pictures

25 August 2004

Gmail account give away

I have 1(one) gmail account to give away. The first person to post 10 links about 400th anniversary of the compilation and installation of the Guru Granth Sahib' functions anywhere in the world will get it. All links should be for different places where celebration is going to be held.

24 August 2004

Firefox(pka Firebird, Phoenix)'s pre-public release turbulences

Firefox (earlier know as Firebird and before that as Phoenix !!) , the standalone browser form Mozilla, has had some hickups before recent public releases. Firefox's(Firebird at that time), new release 0.8 was planned to be released around 2nd week of Dec2003. However, users didnot get any news about the intended date of release even with the setting in of 2004. It was only on 08Feb2004 that 0.8 was released, with the new name "Firefox". The users expecting the release in Dec2003 were surprised to know that for more than a month the Firefox/bird team was busy finding a new name for Firebird so that there would be no copyright violations.

Come 0.9 release point, there was a huge controversy about moving to a new default theme from the earlier default by Arvid Axelsson. As you can see the discussion went on to be 36 pages long resulting in a pretty bad atmostphere at that time.
And the latest thing I hear is that Firefox will not have "View Source", "Work Offline", and the neat "Style sheet switcher". The first two features are available in every browser I have used. Any person moving to Firefox would not cite using Firefox as a good experience if they happen to see that some basic features do not exist in it. "Work Offline" is THE feature dialup users rely on to read pages they visited when they were connected to the net. I think the Firefox team should know that everyone doesnot subscribe to a high speed ADSL/cable connection. If that was not enough, the eye-catching feature that Firefox has(had), "Style Sheet Switcher", is gone. The style switching capability is usually provided on blog-sites by the authors so as to allow the user to choose the style they like. The 0.10PR (preview release before 1.0) will not have it (most probably neither 1.0).

The excuse given for removing features is "its a buggy feature". I know Firefox is still pre 1.0, and hence is expected to have buggy features. But that doesnot warrant removal of nice features. Firefox volunteers have been trying to convince other users to change over to Firefox from other browsers. And recently, thanks to security advisories for other browsers, there has been a huge conversion of users to Firefox. Advocating the Firefox's user friendly features and advertising it as a secure browser, and then removing some so called "buggy" features might have a negative effect to its userbase.

It would be much better if bug removal is better managed. Why should there be need to "remove" a feature? If it wasn't a good one, it should have not been there in the first place. And if it is useful enough so that it should be there, the bugs should be dealt with. Removal of a feature just before a public release will probably be detrimental to Firefox's image. Maybe a change in roadmap would be a better choice than taking away features from the users. Or the style sheet switcher could also go the same way as "Remove Offline" which will be available in the nightly builds till it is back again.

13 August 2004

You are Computer savvy? Sometimes it doesn't help

British railway has been recently helped by Indian Railways for fixing some victorian-era signaling boxes.

Britain's Network Rail did not have qualified engineers who could revamp the system dating back 19th century. Finally, they got help from engineers from Indian Railways, world's largest employer as they still use old manually operated signalling system at many places.

Details: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3561640.stm

Nvu 0.41

Nvu's latest release 0.41 is out and available from the Nvu download page. Nvu is an open source, Gecko based WYSIWYG web authoring system.

PS: In case you don't see listing for 0.41 release on Nvu's download page ----> Use Refresh button in your browser.

6 August 2004

Drew Carry Show

In tonight's "Drew Carry Show":

Kate: Why didn't you say "NO"?
Drew: I know someone else would screw me. They screw me all the time. I'm the system's BITCH.

5 August 2004

Quizzes in the US.....Duhh!!

There is a new series called "Studio 7" being shown on www.thewb.com. There are 7 candidates who answer a few questions relating general knowldege and current events mainly in the US. The winner takes home $77,000.

An indication of the level of the candidates* can easily be judged by the following question and the corresponding answer by on candidate.
Q- Who was the 2003 Nobel peace prize winner who was a social worker in India and came a step closer to sainthood after being beatified by the Pope?
A- Queen Noor!!!!

Give me a break.

-For future candidates of "Studio 7", go to an IAS coaching center in New Delhi.

* = (3,1) at Studio7 website

29 July 2004

Do you need to learn stuff before you are the PM?

Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India, was going on his first journey by air after becoming the PM, and the one question he asked his aides was "Where is my air ticket?" Answer: "Sir, there is a special flight just for you."

That's why academicians try to stay in academia and away from politics.


Finally, I setup a blog. Still trying to find my way in the blogspot system and planning a redo of template.