TerraCopy: Copying files the way it’s meant to be copied

TeraCopy is an amazing tool for Windows which allows users to queue up copy requests, pause them, re-order them and change copy file lists at run time. It’s got a lot of power and great integration with Windows. It’s a tool which I highly recommend.

Go check it out! I bet that you’ll love it so much that you wouldn’t mind paying $20 for it! ;)

Trying Minefield 3.7a1pre

Ever since I started using Win7 (first public beta) I have liked one thing about Internet Explorer that Firefox couldn’t do. This was the ability to use Win7’s Aero prowess completely rendering each tab in the Aero preview for Firefox. At the time, Microsoft hadn’t come out with the Win7 UX Interaction Guide but it’s been out for a few months and I was quite disappointed that Mozilla didn’t jump at the opportunity to release an upgrade.

A couple of weeks back, I saw screen shots of my friends’ browsers and noticed they were using Minefield. They confirmed that 3.7a1pre does indeed have full Aero support so I finally upgraded. I must say, it’s a great update.

As you can see from the screen shot, it doesn’t really like some pages in the Aero preview. I am pretty sure it’s an AJAX thing.

Of course, if you consider updating, quite a few of your plug-ins will not work simply because of the version compatibility checks. A simple way to by pass this is to install the Nightly Tester Tools to skip Firefox’s version compatibility checks. Most add-ons should work fine.

There are a few add-ons I’d like to recommend with this alpha. Try checking out Strata40, StrataBuddy and StrataGlass. StrataGlass is amazing (works on any machine running on Vista/7) but it did give me problems on some pages so I disabled it. However, it is a great idea and it looked really nice. If someone irons out the wrinkles, I’d love to wear it everyday with my Firefox :)

Another small change I’d definitely recommend to users is going to about:config, past the warning, searching for the browser.ctrlTab.previews setting and setting the value to true (simply double click on it to toggle). After this, try Ctrl+Tab to get tab previews. If you think this is cool, try Ctrl+Shift+Tab to get previews with the ability to search between them. Doesn’t that make life easier when you have loads of tabs? ;)

I’d like to thank my friend Nitro for showing me the Strata add-ons and telling me about the Ctrl+Tab setting ;) Ctrl+Shift+Tab was purely luck ;)

PS: Manan asked me over twitter about the memory usage of Minefield 3.7a1pre and I must say, it’s quite low. In fact, with 8 tabs (none of which are heavy on AJAX other than the WordPress panel), I’m using 125MB RAM. Though I’ve not confirmed it, I’d say that’s slightly lesser or the same as regular Firefox and Minefield even seems a tad bit faster and more responsive even with all my regular add-ons ;) Impressive :)

VS 2010 Beta 1: User Interface

Well, I’ve been browsing through Visual Studio 2010 for a while now. I’ve not gotten into coding but did get a chance to have a look at the User Interface for this product. Here are some of the things I’ve noticed.

  1. WPF is in: Oh yes, you heard right! The start page uses WPF for a clean and slick use. Have a look at the start screen (image in the gallery at the bottom)
  2. New context highlighting: Its bigger and better than ever! The editor looks slicker that ever before and I’m loving every byte of it ;)
  3. Changed Intellisense drop down menu: I must admit, my favourite part of the VS editor is its code intellisense and they have changed things up a bit in this department. I must admit though, I haven’t figured out what the Ctrl+Alt+Space exactly does :(
  4. Inbuilt support for Office projects: Want to write managed code extentions for Office products? Go right ahead. Start your work out of the box ;) I believe you don’t need to export PIA with your projects any more. (More on this in a technical detail post)
  5. F# supported OOB: I’m sure you have heard of F#, the object oriented functional programming language. Well, it isn’t an outcast any more. :P Visual Studio 2010 has full support for the language. No more need for downloading and installing separate binaries. :)

One thing still remains the same. The installer takes a lot of time to finish up the entire process. Also, .NET Framework 4.0 Beta 1 asked me for a reboot before proceeding with the rest of the installer (Don’t remember 3.5/2.0 asking for reboots in prior Visual Studios). I dislike installers asking me to reboot but I especially hate it when it doesn’t give me an option to restart later ¬¬. The installer isn’t going to go ahead either way. The rest will be completed after reboot. You should let me restart later ;( I’ll make sure I mention that in my feedback to the VS team :)

There are a lot of videos out there about Visual Studio. You might want to check out channel 9 for 10-4. The 10-4 shows are downloadable so you can get the weekly video podcast whenever you want :)

Au revoir!

Windows 7: A second look

I’ve had a bit of reprieve from work here and I finally got some time to install Windows 7 on my laptop. Though my desktop has had the latest builds available to me, they have all been on a test drive. My laptop however had to wait until I was done with my academic work before it could move permanently to Windows 7 and afford any issues that might come its way.

So here are a few things I’ve found interesting in Windows 7 that should make your Windows 7 User eXperience a lot more enjoyable.

  1. Basic Application Overhaul: This one is something that us users have known would be part of Windows 7 for months prior to the first Public beta. Windows ships with a lot of basic applications that make life so much more awesome. These applications have been more or less the same for ever now. Well, its 2009 and its time for a facelift and some bottox ;) The most notable ones are Paint, Wordpad and Calculator
  2. Virtual WiFi: Bhavik Vora told me back in 2007 about Microsoft working on a certain technology to connect to multiple WiFi networks virtually by using continuous switching. I was excited back then to see this in action but the lack of an actual WiFi device other than my Windows Mobile made practical applications limited. You’ll be happy to hear that Windows 7 is shipping with this technology (limited a tad bit though) allowing you to do more with your Windows. Read the original post by Long Zheng on Windows 7 adding native Virtual WiFi technology from Microsoft Research. If you’re asking yourself why do you need Virtual WiFi, refer to my reply to AI’s comment which says..

    @AI: Why wouldn’t you? :P Ad hoc networks are totally awesome. With the ability to (virtually) connect to multiple networks, you can create mesh and relay wireless networks. Say user A is in range of an access point X but user B isn’t. But user B is in range with user A. User A could relay the connection from X to B providing B with an active connection to the network.
    Also, you can play multiplayer games without need for any ethernet cables on your laptops or any other infrastructure for that matter. No need for a router or any other hardware to create a local area network ;)

    If you can have all this, why wouldn’t you want virtual WiFi? ;)

  3. UI Standardization: Windows 7 products UI consistent with first looks at Office 2010 previews. A couple of days ago Long posted some blurry screencaps of Office 2010 which are consistent with the UI seen in Windows 7. Do you notice the similarity in the new Ribbon on the two products? Not that Vista and Office 2007 weren’t in sync, its just that a lot of the applications packaged with Windows Vista weren’t all in the same UI style. Some still seemed to style legacy looks. Windows 7 does seem a lot more complete though there are still some exceptions.
    Screencap of Office 2010 (off istartedsomething.com) Paint Screenshot
  4. Open in new process: Here is something new. Pressing shift+right clicking on a folder/app allows you to launch it in a separate process. If you do this to open a folder, you will see a second explorer.exe in your task list. This could open up whole new avenues for polygamy ;)
    Normal Right Click Menu Shift Plus Right Click Menu
  5. PowerShell is in!: And its about freaking time! I first came in contact with PowerShell a day after its v2 release (a coincidence). I needed to use it to do a couple of things and it did it really well. I loved the power it possessed but I never really needed it again. I was always wondering why they took so long to make it main stream. I’ve known about it for years now, blame Matt for it :P
  6. XP Mode: Do you have applications that don’t work on Vista? Usually using Vista’s compatibility wizard helps. Still, there are some which don’t work. Windows 7 has a much more elegant solution (at least in my opinion). Install XP in Virtual PC and start up XP mode ;) For more information, read the Life Hacker page on Setting Up and Using XP Mode in Windows 7
  7. In-built and custom create-able Troubleshooting wizards: Windows 7 became the first operating system that I know of, at least in the Windows line up that has in built support to fix issues. Jus click start and search for “Fix” and the first result you get should be “Fix problems with your computer”. If you have issues listed there, the tool will provide you with a chance to fix it ;) How does it work? Simple! Its a collection of uber-powerful Powershell scripts. Can you make your own? Sure you can! Just head on over to WithinWindows.com and Rafael will explain the rest ;)
  8. Popular keyboard shortcuts all retained: I don’t know about you but I certainly loved Windows Vista. I wasn’t a fan of its UAC, but I liked the OS. One of the things that made me love the OS so much were the nifty keyboard shortcuts which keyboard lovers like me can’t live without ;) Two of my favourite ones were the Win+<num> to access quick launch icons and Shift+right click to open command prompt in specified folder. Considering that the new Windows 7 Superbar has no such thing as a quick launch, the Win+<num> shortcuts now refer to the icons on the superbar ;) The shift+right click to open command prompt in specified folder sure does save a lot of time for users like me who are command prompt addicts. ;)
  9. Remembering System Tray Icon Status: This is one that almost everyone would know out there but its important enough for me to put up because it was really irritating for me in Windows’ past Operating Systems. Now, if you ask Windows to hide an icon in the System Tray and then the application crashes, you no longer need to reset the status (Hide always, Hide when not being used or Show always) when restarting the application. Sure, you still need to wave your mouse over the icon to make it disappear and until then, two copies are shown but that’s still better than having to reset the status.

Also there are a few things that need to be fixed.

  1. Maximum usage = 101%? :D Just have a look at this screenshot and it should be clear what I mean :-D This one is included for the lulz :)
    Resource Monitor
    Have a look at the Maximum Frequency and you'll see what I mean
  2. New User Account Control: Well, I’ve already made it clear that I find UAC on Vista extremely irritating bugging simply because I needed to (at least in Vista RTM) acknowledge an action multiple times. Microsoft did make a few changes to UAC since then to make it single prompt but it still remains off on my desktop. On my laptop, considering I don’t often do work that would set off UAC (unlike work on the desktop), I let UAC stay. When it comes to Windows 7, Microsoft has made a few changes to the implementation to make them “less irritating” by allowing auto-elevation of processes. A few concerns were raised by certain tech users made popular by Long Zheng and Rafael Rivera in posts such as Malware can turn off UAC in Windows 7; “By design” says Microsoft. Clearly, Microsoft needs to move back to Secure Desktop for changes to UAC. We don’t mind UAC prompts as long as we don’t have to go through multiple windows like Vista RTM where you’d have to sometimes go through a normal prompt and a secure desktop to perform a restricted action (For example: addition/modification/deletion of Start Menu entries).
  3. High Quality Icons: As I’ve already mentioned in my previous post, with the arrival of Superbar, the icons being shown need to be of a much higher resolution to avoid tearing. Yet some icons are still not up to the mark. This is like Windows Vista’s non-standardized UI all over again just not as bad. Microsoft has put in a lot of effort into revamping the UI on most applications but I guess it has missed out on a few. Nothing that can’t be fixed in a giffy ;)

There are more features in Windows 7 just waiting to be discovered. Windows 7 RC does look quite promising. These are just some of the things that make this such a great OS. Quite a few of them are minor, probably don’t feel like much when being mentioned while others are fixes to old problems that have plagued users for many a year but all of it contribute to make this a worthy successor to Windows Vista :)

Checking out Windows 7 Build 7077

I admit, its not a public build but I really couldn’t help myself so I got hold of a copy off a public torrent and here I am. I’ve had Windows 7 discs and keys around for a couple of months now but I never really got time to install them. Finally, I queued up the latest build a couple of nights ago and FINALLY it completed downloading.

Needless to say the new taskbar is pretty cool. I do have a few suggestions though.

  1. Aero Snap for minimization: Aero Snap provides us with a set area on the screen, where if a window is dragged to, it snaps vertically or maximizes. Taking it to the left/right of the screen causes it to vertical snap to the left/right of the screen (respectively) while taking a window to the top causes it to maximize. Why not allow minimization when the window is dragged to the bottom (towards the taskbar).
  2. Jagged Icons: Seriously.. this is 2009. Anything that expects to show up in the taskbar deserves a 256×256 pixel icon to be shipped with it. Also, I am not sure how the UI team didn’t notice that the middle click to scroll (what I call “smooth/easy scroll”) icon is terrible! For an OS with high emphasis on UX (User eXperience), this sure seems to be a bad move :P

All this being said, there are a few things to give Microsoft real credit for. On my desktop, I didn’t need to install a single driver to start using the machine and get on to the internet. Now that’s called a fully functional operating system ;) I’ll try the same on my laptop (Dell Studio XPS 1640) and I hope to get a similar result. The only thing I expect to install is the Sensible Vision FastAccess facial recognition software which I hope works. It certainly is bound to Dell machines (I’m sure it checks for Studio XPS 1640s via the same source as dxdiag) but I hope it won’t mind if I try to make it work on Windows 7 :)

One of my favourite parts about this OS so far is the ability to easily hide system tray icons. I hope that unlike previous versions of Windows, it doesn’t have a habit of forgetting these settings :) Hopefully, it also remembers the new applications options instead of tagging everything as new randomly. I’m also yet to check out if the Vista start menu bug of “Programs” showing up still exists, after all Windows 7 is an incremental build of Windows Vista, ain’t it?

Another change is that Windows 7 doesn’t calculate the Windows Experience Index (WEI) score during first boot which is surprising to me because I remember it doing something like that. WEI takes a lot longer to run through now as compared to Vista but also has increased the maximum WEI score from 5.9 in Vista to a 7.9 in Windows 7. I’m sure all you high end machine owners can’t wait to run the new WEI ;) I know I can’t wait to do so on my laptop :D

Speaking of WEI, the ugly Games folder opening freeze bug hasn’t come up so far. For those who aren’t aware, Windows Vista came up with the new style Games folder (that people like me love and use a lot :D). Its extremely useful, though there could have been a few improvements. Quite a few games aren’t automatically detected and added and so their game art isn’t downloaded either. You could always add the icons there automatically but you would be unable to have game art unless you have a tool. But this wasn’t the worst thing about it. Some times, the games folder would take up to 30-45 seconds to open up which was because it was reading the WEI score for your system (speculation based on observation but no conclusive proof). I think Vista saw that your WEI score was outdated and tried to do something about it. Hopefully, Windows 7 won’t fall prey to these two issues. The former I can test in a couple of hours by installing a few games. The latter on the other hand will have to wait a while for :) If I have any interesting results, I’ll let you know :)

In the up coming weeks, I’ll try to go deeper into Windows 7 trying to unravel new features along the way. I shall also try to check out if Microsoft has fixed every annoyance I have ever had in Windows Vista in Windows 7. That way, we can all expect a better UX (User Experience) ;) Hopefully, my orals examinations in the upcoming weeks and final project presentation in college won’t come in the way :)

Dell Studio XPS 1640 Issues

Once upon a time, not too far long ago, I got a Dell Studio XPS 1640. I found that the laptop was great. I knew before I got it that it had a slight heating problem so ever since I got it, I would give it some cooling space. The performance on this machine was simply amazing but I had a few issues. Here are the issues I had:

  1. Didn’t receive any Intel Centrino 2 and Microsoft Windows Vista labels.
  2. Bottom (access) panel wasn’t correctly fit in.
  3. Left hinge on my laptop was incorrectly fitted.
  4. Broadcom Ethernet card was a 10/100Mbit card instead of a 10/100/1000Mbit card as promised.

Of all of them, the final issue was the most serious so that’s the one I took up first. The list however is the order in which I noticed these issues so I will continue this post in that order. It is my request however that if you’re reading this as a Dell Studio XPS 1640 that you please make sure you pay close attention to the last problem. If you have the same issue, I’ll let you know what exactly to do :) (Note: I’m writing this so that I can let other Dell Studio XPS 1640 users know what it is that Dell has done)

It is important to note that this isn’t something that I have against Dell exactly. I just think they could have handled this issue better. They did nothing for me for well over a month until my family members go tired of listening to the same old story every time, took the phone from me and started getting a bit more aggressive asking the case to be immediately elevated. So here is my story.

The day I got my laptop, I was in college and I got a call from my family about the package having arrived. I gave a call to the “service engineer” and asked him to come over to my place. Dell India has a policy of having them open the package and making sure everything is in there rather than us doing it since that prevents customers from making false claims of missing/incorrect received parts. So the guy came over on time as requested and opened up the package. The machine seemed perfectly fine but the labels were missing. Problem 1 found! We searched everywhere but it was no where to be found. So I asked the guy what the protocol was in case of a missing element in the package. We did make sure that the order list confirmed that the labels are supposed to have been sent. Since they were clearly no where in my package or by default stuck on on the palm rest. He asked me to make a note of this on the report sheet that he had. I did so in the customer comments section. He told me I’d be called back about this in a couple of days.. lol :D

Ok, I agree. Its something minor and picky. So I didn’t really worry about it. I was more in awe with the awesomeness of the machine so I just used it for a couple of days. The next morning I flipped over the machine and checked out the bottom. That is when I noticed that the bottom panel was incorrectly fitted. If you refer to the image to the right, you can see that the access panel was not properly fit in. Not a big deal, right? That’s exactly what I thought. I decided that I’d wait for the call that I was supposed to get for my labels. On getting the call, I’d simply ask them to send another one of their technicians to refit it. Sounds simple enough, eh? :)

So I opened up the laptop and started using it on the second day, not at all freaked yet.. other than about how great the machine was. Right then, I noticed something. The left hinge is incorrectly fitted :O I have attached at image of what I mean. Now that is something I don’t really fancy. This is serious. A machine hardly a handful of days old and it has a defect :O :(

At the time, I was a tad bit busy. A few important things had cropped up. Of course, this could wait a day or two, right? Sure it can :P

A couple of days later, I’m transferring files from my desktop to my laptop over wi-fi. I’m only getting about 5 MBps (obviously :P). Of course, if I were to connect using a cross over ethernet cable, I should get 1000Mbps because that is the card I supposedly have on my laptop and on my desktop as well :) So I get the cross over cable (a brand new one that I got with my newly bought router) and connected my desktop with my laptop. I then started the data transfer only to get about 10-11MBps. Wait. That’s the speed I get on a 100Mbit network too. Clearly, its time to do some troubleshooting. Is it the cable? No. I tried out an alternative cable that I had lying around. It clearly couldn’t be a switch/router of a lower rating because there is nothing between these two machines. Are one or both of the machines not set to work on a 1000MBit network? Well, last I checked my desktop was on auto negotiate mode. So I checked out the setting again and it was set to Auto negotiate. That seems fine to me. Now lets check out the settings on my laptop. Its set to auto negotiate. Lets ask them to force 1000MBit. So I set the option on my desktop. I click the drop down menu on my laptop and there seems to be no 1000MBit option. Oh jeez. This is a problem! I seem to have received a 100MBit card instead of a 1000MBit one.

To the left you can see a screenshot of my desktop’s network card properties. Clearly, I have an option to set it into 1000MBit Full Duplex mode. I was expecting the same for my laptop who’s screenshot is to the right. Now do you see the problem? Quite seriously concerned, I decided to contact Dell the next morning. But I then realised that it was a Friday night so I wouldn’t be able to call them until Monday. I was seriously pissed at the magnitude of the blunder that Dell had committed and I wanted to talk to them immediately. In came Dell’s award winning support website. I instantly wrote them a note using the site. I realised I’d have to stand the excruciating pain in my heart for the duration of the weekend but that is something I’d have to deal with.

Yes, I did notice that the device is called a “Broadband Netlink Gigabit Ethernet” card but I guess the word “Gigabit” had nothing to do with the actual device speed :( If you’d like to check out this on your laptop then click start, right click on my computer and click Device manager on the left side pane of the window which opened up. If you’re asked for elevation, please do allow Device manager to open up. Once device manager opens up, go to the Network Adapters section and expand it. Right click on “Broadcom Netlink Gigabit Ethernet” and click properties. Go to the Advanced tab and click “Speed & Duplex” and check the values you have available.

A couple of days later, I got a call from the people at Dell asking questions. For the next 2 weeks, I told them the same thing over and over again. I always gave them my system service tag number followed by a few details of mine for confirmation. Then I’d explain what my problem was and they would ask me the same set of questions for checking i know what I want. I knew it that they used to have logs of past customer interactions and so I was unsure why they would ask me the same questions over and over but being the guy that I am, I’d answer them perfectly nicely. Now I do realize the magnitude of the mistake here and how it could probably happen. Ethernet cards come along with the motherboard which is supposed to be an Intel PM-45 and is. I’ve checked :) How could the ethernet card be incorrect? My only explanation was that the manufacturer Dell gets their motherboard from, at least for this model might be incorrect. If that is the case, it isn’t Dell’s mistake directly but I would have assumed that they would check the system out before shipping it out. In the next few weeks, my interaction with Dell got them to conclude things along the same line. In the end, I was offered a motherboard change or a machine replacement. Now my question is, if your entire lot of motherboards is incorrect, wouldn’t the replacement be faulty too? Also, I don’t want you to open up a brand new laptop. The service tech agreed and decided to get the replacement over but it would take him a few days to get the permissions. So I waited another couple of days. Like all previously promised call backs, I got nothing! So I happened to call them back again for the millionth time and this time it went into the same type of conversation again.

At this point I must tell you that my brother works in the service industry and is used to talking to a couple of customers daily. He has a fair bit of experience in talking to service techies. Even though he doesn’t live with us anymore, I did keep him updated about what was happening. He happened to be in India on that faithful day when I called Dell. This would be the single longest tech support call I’ve ever been part of. What happened next was 2 hours of argument over the phone and it had nothing to do with the shitty service they were providing. I had been patient with them for well over a month and my brother was tired of listening to this entire thing go on and on. He took the phone from my hand and immediately asked for the lady’s superior. Eventually we reached the a senior on the Tech Support team at Dell (or at least their call centre) in Bangalore. I’d rather not take names so lets just refer to him as Mr. X. Now we didn’t just have Mr. X on the phone but also a certain Ms. Y who was the customer care representative who was handling my case. Both of these people were on the line conferencing with me and my brother. I was handling all the technical questions but all of this was after about an hour’s worth of telling them how they have handled the entire case quite poorly just telling me things were being done with absolutely no results. It seems that Dell wanted me to send my laptop back for a replacement, something I straight out denied. You don’t want to know what my brother did to them after this to show them why they were wrong when they asked me to do this. I was against the motherboard change since I thought it was a stupid idea (as explained earlier) and that the machine was brand new (who really wants to open up a new machine. At the end, Mr. X said that the problem seems to be a Broadcom-Vista compatibility issue. Oh God!

Are you telling me, despite Broadcom being a decently big sized company and that Dell being a pretty big company as well, never saw that Broadcom’s network cards didn’t work on Vista which I must say has been around for a couple of years now and has millions of user, didn’t give a 1000MBit option? I know, the number of people using 1000MBit networks is slim but its not that slim. And why didn’t Dell’s tech team check the system on a 1000MBit network while deciding to use a Broadcom card in their machine? Mr. X could only say “Sir, you’re the first user to have ever reported it to us” Oh. My. F*%$ing. GOD! So I just asked him what’s his next step? He replies that a patch should be out soon. Now this day was the 26th of March, 2009. He asks for time till the 3rd of April, 2009 which is a week away. I accept his terms. He promises to call back and I laugh at him telling him his organization’s pathetic call back record.

Surely enough, the third came and went and nothing happened. Now I’m pissed off. I call them back on Monday and ask to speak to Mr. X but he is apparently on another call, which seems to be Dell’s single most common excuse. I ask for his superior but all of them seem to be in a meeting. The guy on the phone how ever gives me an update about the case. Seems that the patch isn’t out, surprise surprise. Now I’m in the right mind to install XP one of these days and check out their theory of it being a Vista-Broadcom incompatibility. The guy says that Mr. X should be available some time later and that he can have Mr. X call me back. I let him know about how I never get a call back so I’d rather wait. The guy asks me if I have any other problems and them I realize I hadn’t brought up the other issues in ages. The hinge and access panel issue I’ve mentioned once or twice to a few other people but nothing was done (spot a pattern yet? :P). I told him how I’ve shown a couple of people including Mr. X the pictures that I have shown you guys a bit earlier in this post. He asked to see the images himself so I sent it to him as well. He came to the conclusion that the face plate and the access panel would have to be changed. Now, I thought the face plate means the thing which has the Dell logo on it because that and the silver metallic finish seem to all be connected in one piece. I was wrong, I got the entire monitor 2 days later. As for the access panel, I told him I didn’t really need a new one and that refitting should do but he sent me one (seems they replace such things so oh well.. who am I do argue? :))

I also told him about the labels so he transferred my call to the missing parts team. Get ready, another problem to arise here. The lady on the other side, Ms. Z, noticed that it had been 37 days since I got delivery and that Dell only accepts missing/incorrect part reports for 30 days. Wait. I told your representatives a couple of times. None of them told me this was the wrong department to say this. Even Mr. X’s inbox has a mail with all the above mentioned issues when sending him snaps (he hadn’t done anything about it for over a week while the guy I was on the phone a couple of minutes ago, Mr. A, solved the issue in a couple of minutes). She just kept saying its their policy. I asked her if its my responsibility to know where exactly to complain. I also told her about the fact that I had made a note of the missing labels to the first Service Engineer who had come to my place when I got my laptop and that his report had a note of this. He was supposed to do things but nothing happened. She read out his report to me and told me it said nothing about the labels. I asked her to read my note. The funny part is that, she didn’t get the document I signed but an electronic receipt of the guy’s report. How sad. I told her to fetch the original report and read my note. This would take a day or so according to her so she gave me a case number and sent me back to Mr. A who had by this time finished writing up a request to get me the 2 things I needed. His work was done. About time someone solved one of my problems. Mr. A said that he would ask Mr. X to call me back the next day and that’s the best he could do since it was past their work time. I agreed and decided to call it a day.

2 days later I received my packages and got a call from the team in Mumbai asking when they could send a techie over. The issue was that I know that the package is at home cause my dad called me about it. I wasn’t at home. In fact, I couldn’t get home till 4 PM cause I was in college. They, it seems, didn’t have anyone who could come by then. What the hell? Their work timings are till 6 PM. I don’t stay out of the way in the corner of the universe. The previous techie didn’t mind coming over at that time for the system check up. I wasn’t in a mood to argue so I accepted the offer to have him come over the next day at 4. By now, its the 9th of April and the engineer comes over to my place. I’m out with a couple of friends so my parents over see the guy replacing the parts in question. A couple of hours later, I have a new monitor and access panel with my old one still lying beneath my bed. While he was working on it, I decided to talk to Mr. X about the driver/patch update that I was supposed to get. Excuses excuses.. nothing again. He now wants to get a guy over to give me a new motherboard and check it out. If that doesn’t fix it, he wants to keep waiting. I’ve told him that I’m busy next week but I will be calling him back on Monday telling him that if he wants to test on motherboards that he can get a spare machine (which I’m sure he does have already) and test on that. If he has a fix, he should let me know. If its hardware based, he can replace my motherboard. If its software based, I’ll accept a patch. He is still waiting for Broadcom to reply.

So this is what it comes down to. I’m playing hardball. I have exams till the 25th of this month and I hope they have a fix till then else I’ll be going out with this. I’m prepared to take this to the next level. Do I have a card capable of working at the promised speeds? If yes, why isn’t it? If no, why not? Either way, I want a fix. I’m a customer who has paid in full for a product and I accept my device to work.

This is where you come in. Are you a Dell Studio XPS 1640 user, do you have a 1000MBit Ethernet card on a Dell Machine of yours or do you have a Broadcom 1000MBit Ethernet card? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, you’ve come to the right place. Please make sure you have the right hardware that works at the right speeds. If you have the same issues as me, I urge you to call your local Dell support number and ask them what’ should be done about this. You can tell them that Dell India is looking into it and that they should do the same in co-operation with them. The quicker we get a solution, the better.

If you have any suggestions or thoughts, let me know. Have I gone wrong somewhere? Do you want help in looking if you have this problem? Feel free to ask me. Let your friends know. This is serious. You must believe that I am not looking for trouble or any freebies. I just want what I deserve and have paid for. I want the ability to use 1000MBit networks. I am a peace loving person which is why for the longest period, I was totally patient with them. They just took forever in my opinion. They’ve never shown that something is actually being done other than over the phone assurances. They refuse to acknowledge the existence of the problem on paper or e-mail. So this is where we are. Dell better fix this or I don’t mind wasting my time going through the headache of either publicizing this issue letting other Dell users (at least in India) know that they should look out for this issue or worse. I just hope it doesn’t come to that and I actually get this fixed soon. May be that’s just the eternal optimist in me speaking.

Updates: I shall keep updating this post regularly with the latest information.

10th April, 2009 @ 21:58 IST: Its been around 6 weeks since I got the laptop and made the complaint. This is when I’ve written this post up. I’m about to link people over on the Notebook Review Forum about my issues so that they can check their machines. I’d be glad if they’d tell me if they have similar problems and if there are any other places I can reach out to other Dell Studio XPS 1640 users. The label issue has apparently been investigated and according to the call yesterday, I’ll get the labels by the 15th pending an approval from the managers of the department which I hear I should get. I hope that’s the case else I’ll be calling them all over again. Thank god for Toll Free numbers :)

Apple Wheel: Is this meant to be a joke?

First of all, I should say, the only source I have is this youtube video.

Apple wheel is a “revolutionary” laptop with no keyboard, just a giant scroll wheel :| I kid you not, that’s what it says :-/

The guy in that video apparently took 45 minutes to type a mail (with a million mistakes) and he still likes the product… jeez. I like write a few hundred lines of code in that time :|

Me and SK call this Apple’s Reality Distortion Fieldâ„¢. This is single handedly the shittiest technological innovation I have seen in my time on this planet. I’m sure there might be something equally (or may be more) stupid in the past but this certainly is the stupidest thing I have heard of in the mainstream.

It looks seriously slim. I think it was a 12 odd inch form factor which is cool. Its nice to see Apple put stuff in such compact spaces but the idea of removing a key board all together, to me at least, is JUST WRONG! Typing on that machine would be next to impossible. Using it would be really cumbersome too. You want the “next generation” of Hardware User Interfaces? Go Touch Screen. Go take a page from Microsoft’s book (Windows 7, to be precise).

The worst part is that Apple Fanboys are loving it :-/ I admit, I am a slight Microsoft Fanboy. I do like their work but this does not, in any way, mean that if they pull of something as stupid as this, I wouldn’t slap them to oblivion.

Please continue doing what you do best. Keep making products like the new MacBook Pro 17, the MacBook Air and the iPod Classic/iPod Touch/iPhone. Thanks! :)

Bad Apple! :(

Windows 7 Public Beta Serial Key Fiasco

Earlier today at CES 2009, Microsoft announced that they would release 2.5 million copies of Windows 7 for public beta (build 7000) which came out around 25th December, 2008 for all those lucky people who have MSDN subscriptions.
The plan was to release the ISO around 12 CET and a page to release 2.5 million keys but here’s what happened.

12 CET – Nothing’s up on TechNet :(
12.30 CET – A statement stating the site is ill equipped for the load and things are being “set up”.. sure I’d buy that :P
13.30 CET – Start download from direct download links.. not ETA on the keys
13.45 CET – Download links killed. If you have the beta, good for you. If you don’t.. well.. :P

I guess I’ll have to wait for the official serial. I guess I can run the 30 day beta till then and keep rearming the beta (if any of you tested the Windows Vista beta or used the Windows Vista RTM early, you’d remember that :P). Either way I can’t install the beta until I get my new 1 TB HDD (should take a couple of days) due to lack of space :(

* JA has to wait a bit longer before getting a chance to test Windows 7 :(

Thanks for ruining my sleep for tonight by making me wait for a key for nothing :(

Browser Tryouts: Google Chrome

Google Chrome: The Next Gen Open Source Web Browser
Google Chrome: The Next Gen Open Source Web Browser

Having heard all the rage about Google Chrome, I decided to try it out this Friday morning before leaving for college. What’s this I see? An online install? Of course it doesn’t mean much to people who have connections which can download the 7.3MB installer in a few seconds but for others, its a bit more arduous. Here’s a direct download link to the Google Chrome installer for others like me who have connections which are as slow as if not slower than broadband ;) To download the full Google Chrome Installer (7.3 MB) click here.

Chrome is Google’s Next Generation browser and I must say, it does feel good :) (This post is being written in Chrome :P). It did take some time to load up the page but I suspect that’s because of the page not being cached yet and that Chrome doesn’t seem to have Google Gears. O.o I distinctly remember reading that Chrome has the Gears engine in the Chrome Web Comic but when I tried enabling Turbo in the WordPress panel for Chrome it said that I didn’t have Gears installed. So it sent me to the Gears webpage which said my browser wasn’t supported. :P Seems like I’m not the only one who noticed ;)

Like most other Google products, Chrome has a simplistic yet powerful UI which puts UX above everything. Its technical specs are pretty impressive too. The process isolation for tabs, sandboxing them for extra security and omnibox are things that almost every experienced internet user would want. Moving from Firefox to Chrome would be easy considering that all the shortcuts remain the same :P Ctrl+J opens the downloads window in Chrome, Ctrl+T for tabs (pretty standard), Ctrl+Shift+T for opening recently closed tabs etc. If you don’t already know about memory fragmentation and how Google Chrome deals with it, you should read Page 6-7 of the Google Chrome Web Comic.

You can right click any web page in Chrome and click “Inspect Element” and this would take you to the page source. Viewing page source in a browser was never so awesome. Chrome highlights and formats the code beautifully but I can’t get it to search through the source for some reason. Also the resources tab allows you to “put the blame where it rightfully belongs” when it comes to memory leaks ;) But the Firefox addons development community is huge and the 3 addons that are going to keep me using Firefox are delicious bookmarks synchronisation (for access to bookmarks across multiple computers), FlashBlock and the almighty AdBlock! :) Also, having individual processes for each tab is a neat thing when it comes to functionality but for someone like me who lives half his life in the processes tab of Windows Task Manager, seeing all those chrome.exe processes does get a tad bit annoying :)

Chrome is an excellent start and I’d say, with a few tweaks and changes its going to be a great browser. I’ll just wait a few builds (or at least till I have ports of AdBlock and del.icio.us bookmark syncing) and then use Chrome a bit more regularly.

PS: Why do I have the feeling that the age of the browser war threads on forums across the intarwebs are back? :P

Update: Oh I knew this would happen!

Command Line e-mailing

Ever wanted to send a quick email but then though, “nah.. cba to open my inbox right now”?

Now you can send emails via command line! It doesn’t have to be installed though you could do so if you please. I give you Blat!

Here is a simple example from the documentation:

@echo off
:::::::::::::: Lets set some variables ::::::::::::::
set eMail=[email protected]
set subj=-s “Test Blat”
set server=-server localhost
set x=-x “X-Header-Test: Can Blat do it? Yes it Can!”
set debug=-debug -log blat.log -timestamp
::::::::::::::::: Now we run Blat! :::::::::::::::::
blat %0 -to %eMail% -f %eMail% %subj% %server% %debug% %x%