How to hyper activate your USB Thumb Drive

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Nearly everyone of us carries around a flash drive with some of our important information with us. But flash drives have evolved, not only are they now growing in capacity and speed. But with a small push from the software industry the humble flash drive will play an important part in the whole cloud computing phenomenon. As applications move from computers to the cloud, it is quintessential for the applications of the desktop to move around a bit as well, with the user I mean. The applications that cannot (at the moment) be realized from the cloud need to be for the user to be able to use. They also need to essentially provide another important feature i.e. not to leave any files on the host computer once you take them to your friends place. This is essentially something that separates a normal application from a portable application.

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How did I get into this is also an interesting story, I work on a construction site and IT facilities there can be a little poor. Like restricted internet access for an hour a day with ridiculously slow download speeds. Anyway, the company where I work is considerably large and the IT department there had issues with things like virus on machines being transferred from USB drives, people installing malicious software accidentally etc. So they decided to have a restriction on installing anything on the computer. That started some issues with inaccessibility to software, legitimate open source software included. In that scenario I was forced to use only the software on that computer like, internet explorer (of which I am not a big fan) and Office, no image editing tools etc. I had to work on a few image editing assignments as well as could not stand to use Internet Explorer. I wanted either Chrome or Firefox, firefox being the second choice. So like always necessity is the mother of all inventions and finds. Well in that scenario I tried to look for software that I could use without installing it, and walla a whole new world of portable apps greeted me.

The portable application suites that are available are built in such a way that you do not need to actually worry about your information being left on another computer, you plug in your USB into another computer, run the application and once your work is done; remove the USB and you are done. In fact there are applications that keep the data in the USB encrypted so in case you lose the USB drive the person who finds it will definitely not be able to see any information that is on the thumb drive.

If you have not been looking at the portable apps world, you will be surprised to see and know the vast libraries of applications that are already available either official releases from the companies who are making the software themselves, like firefox portable etc, and then there are unofficial releases done by Portable Application enthusiasts. Most of them work like a breeze. Essentially portable apps are available as individual applications but for starters or to better organize the portable apps on your thumb drive, it is better to use an application launcher like portableapps.com, liberkey, or geekmenu. Then there are those that come preloaded onto USB drives like the U3, which comes standard on all Sandisk drives; which although are not open source but definitely free with their drives.

Today not only do you get portable applications but also complete Operating systems that are portable on USB drives called Live USB. In fact windows 7 can be ported into your USB to make a portable windows 7 OS Drive.  Well enough spoken about these nifty tools, let me just add some links for you guys to check them out.

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These flash drives  make a great Holidays present to your geek friend also 😉 Load in one of the above mentioned portable app launcher and some apps for a great surprise. In case you cannot find your favorite application yet, then you can in fact create your own. Package factory is a portable application creator for the U3 launcher system. They claim that they can convert any application into a portable application, let’s hope it works. Check out the Package Factory here. Some of my favorite tools on my USB drive at the moment that I really use would be, Gimp portable, Sketch Up portable, Chrome Portable as well as Firefox portable, VLC portable, Picasa 3 Portable, Keepass portable, Thunderbird portable, Sunbird portable, convert All portable and last but not the least 7-zip portable.  Most of these from the POrtableapps.com launcherAll awesome tools that let me do a lot without having to install them on my machine.  Have also installed recently Opera tor portable which helps me access Flickr at work, which is essentially blocked in the UAE. Although I have to admit, for the one hour of slow browsing, Opera Tor is not really ideal. I hope someone makes a good chrome extension to mimic the performance of tor.

Infographics – Information and Graphical Design

I have a big fascination for information display and design, especially after I started working on the company presentations for my previous employer. During preparing presentations I always would get stuck with that page that needs to have a lot of information within a small space and with clarity. And would always come across these images mostly in newspapers, magazines and in various websites called info graphics which did exactly that. So what exactly are these info graphics ? This is what wikipedia has to say about them :

Information graphics or infographics are visual representations of information, data or knowledge. These graphics are used where complex information needs to be explained quickly and clearly, such as in signs, maps, journalism, technical writing, and education. They are also used extensively as tools by computer scientists, mathematicians, and statisticians to ease the process of developing and communicating conceptual information.

What sparked this post you ask ? I was looking for information about plastic bottles and what a big hoax it is (my thoughts about this another time) and I came across this awesome info graphic from onlineducation.net about the bottled water.

They have other interesting info graphics about A day in the internet, talking about the data exchanges over the internet through the social web. There is also this interesting piece about why Americans are fat ? :)

The interest for info graphics has spread wide and far, even to the extent that google made use of infographic (baloon comic) for their launch of Google Chrome. One of the most famous examples of info graphics is the London Metro system. Timelines, Data maps and even recipes … well I think you should check out more info graphics, see below.

If you find this interesting then you should definately try out googling “infographics”, it will bring up great resources for the images.

Check out some of these great videos about infographics as well :

And my personal favourite : The Did you know series

Useful Links apart from the Google search :

3 new web innovations / finds that are awesome ;)

I am self proclaimed online citizen, I mean spend a lot of time looking for information, sometimes mindless. I have always been a strong believer that to be intelligent in the modern times you do not need to know everything, but knowing where to find information about everything is what would make it easier. I know most of you were thinking google or wikepedia when reading the sentence above. Its not that simple, it is sometimes but then to have an understanding of which links will have more information and which will have less, you need to be on a familiar ground. Anyway, the point I was trying to make is that it is necessary in this day and age to be online at least for sometime everyday to be able to just browse the internet. About a couple of years ago, on the advise from my former boss, I took up browsing as an activity, Looking up for information or movies or just anything. Anything apart form your social networking, Youtubing, Mailing… for an Hour daily. It changed from an hour to 2 hours now, and to be honest, I am now hooked.

Most people will ask me what does it mean no FB ? Youtube ? email ? so what do you do ?? My answer is simple, Just browse for anything eventually you will find that one interesting thing that you are passionate about. Well I think I am talking to an audience that has the qualities that I am talking about, cos I am not sure that my blog comes under the social networking, entertainment etc umbrella. Ok then, getting back to the three web innovations that I found and are pretty cool.

1. PICAPP : This revolutionary service is actually awesome for any and all bloggers like me, You can find press and creative photography that is legally distributable, and embedded into blogs everywhere. I have started using the same, you can see it in my blog starting with the previous post and that is when I thought I should dedicate the entire post to it. You can check it out at http://www.picapp.com

2. Facebook Lite : Hehehe (Laughing sheepishly).. After all the talk about browsing apart from the social networking etc I am again suggesting another site related to social networking. However, this is an awesome application. Its from the facebook team and is a liter version which loads faster than the regular facebooks as the ads are lesser (non flash based) and also the information that you would get is also a little lesser than the regular facebook. But it’s a boon for me, cos I sometimes use facebook from my phone, and so the app has to be lighter to make it through the GPRS billing here in Dubai. Check it out here http://www.lite.facebook.com

3. IndiBlogger.in : This awesome resource is a compilation of all the Indian bloggers who have registered to have a Indian Blog ranking. I am glad that someone thought of it, actually I am now thinking, “Why did’nt I think of that ??”. However from recipies to politics, from poetry to photography this is an awesome resource of Indian Bloggers. Its not a lie that Bangalore is the Silicon city of India, cos you would see the highest bloggers in India are actually from Bangalore. Whohoo … me included 😉 Check out their site, http://www.indiBlogger.in

There is one other innovation which by far is the most anticipated atleast from my side. It’s the Chrome OS. Please see the video below yourself, to get an idea of chrome Os. Will pen my thoughts about this another time.

Social Networking a Boon or Curse !

Well ever since Gulf News posted an article of my favorite Social Networking Website Orkut, Emirates Internet I.e Etisalat have blocked the website from accessibility within UAE.

Its been three long and painful years in Dubai for me, and for these three years I had lost in touch with a lot of my fiends back home, some very near and dear to me. In this time and age of emails, work get so hectic that mailing friends goes down to the bottom of the priority list. When I was at my vacation last year a few friends in Bangalore mentioned Orkut to me. I was impressed with the idea, created an account just before I got to Dubai. When I got back here, I was surprised to find the number of long lost friends there were on Orkut. Some from more than 10 years back. A lot of my coffee table conversations at that time involved around which friends I found and which ones I was looking for more. It even gave an idea of which of my friends made it and which of them were on the brink of success.

Few months into using Orkut I discovered Groups, there was a group for the School Alumni, One for my college Alumni, One group for the place I worked first, Groups for people with similar interests and even a group for people who had joined too many groups lol. I thought that was interesting. Well for us poor souls it is a boon in disguise. Moreover the assurance that it is run by Google is something noteworthy as well. How many times have you forgotten a friends birthday, Orkut would help remember birthdays as well.

But like everything on the net, the blog has been bitten by the sex bug. There are other tons of communities promoting sexual interests, one of them called Dubai Sex with over 2000 members in it. Interesting as it may seem, this is an issue which is far fetched than just Orkut or any networking site. Alas, the people who are running such communities do not realize the long term effects it has. Not that I do not support it, I mean its their lives and their preferences, and that is the very fact that makes us human. Our perspectives and choices. Well human, choice and perspective are not words that are very widely appreciated in the Middle East and being what they are they have blocked the site.

There goes the days of connections, back to celibacy from friends. I think we will have to wait for someone to say its Ok. Maybe Google to make some modifications or Etisalat to relax a bit. Either way now is the time for alternatives. And my first stop is FaceBook. A little more privacy and tons of features, this application is beginning to loose its charm in my perspective.

Mother Tongue

Throughout my use of the internet I have been surfing sites in English. Localization was not a big issue for me, as in I did not want Google in Hindi or to be able to blog in Hindi. Well they are beautiful features nevertheless, but then personally I do not find as much use of it. Maybe it’s just me, but then I can’t picture the next generation of vernacular based software developers and planners using any of our national languages to do the programming of the next gen software. Unlike countries like Russia or France or Hungary etc where people thrive on the vernaculars; India is a nation where the respectable person is only one who speaks English well. A person is regarded as well learned by the Metro Generation only if his English is good, no accent. Well I think we don’t think outside the box here in India.

I can confuse most people, when I am talking in my mother tongue cos its very rarely used. Well to tell you some interesting facts about the languages in India, Indian main languages are Hindi and English, But practically they are one of 800 Languages spoken in India and a total of 2000 Dialects exist for them. Out of the 28 states and 7 union territories, only 10 states and 3 union territories have Hindi as the principal official language. Every other state has its own regional language. And although I am from the state of Karnataka, my mother tongue is Konkani. The official language of Goa. It is so cos the name Konkani is derived from the region I am from originally called Konkan. And Konkan spans 3 states with different state languages. Confusing huh.

Anyway the Metrosexual personalities of people in India is driving the vernacular languages and people who speak vernacular languages to the side. Well that’s a bit more of the vernaculars digging their own graves, cos the commotions and strikes that all the antisocial elements conduct are under the veil of the vernaculars. Anyway, someday people will realize. But in the mean time the fact that the vernaculars are seen as outsiders is prompting more children to learn English more than any other language in India. At least so the metros, well there is only one issue with that. We are going to loose out on the language soon, in one or two generations we are going to be a complete mass of English speaking Indians and loose our vernacular individualities.

Konkani being my language is prompting me to take notice for the same reason. When I am thinking of the same thing, I am prompted to look at some options online. http://www.maaibhas.com/ ; http://www.daijiworld.com/, http://www.mangalorean.com/ and http://www.daijidubai.com/ are some of the options I looked at. But the most impressive for them, is the site called http://www.savemylanguage.org