The Media Guru

Aug 31, 2008


The beta version of WLM 9 (Build 14.0.3921.717) has been leaked during public beta testing. We came across WLM9 Beta features almost a year ago in Nov 07, but it’s now that I can really test out its features…


WLM 9 takes far longer than WLM 8.5 to sign in – mainly because the beta versions use a different server. WLM 9 was supposed to take advantage of Vista’s WPF, but surprisingly WLM 9 still has default Aero window frame instead of its own Live-styled theme. But more ironically, it’s XP that has the Live theme! LOL


WLM 9 uses the new Wave 3 design which will soon be implemented to all Live products.


The chat window has the option to collapse the display pictures & the toolbar. The new design does away with the separators as everything is blended together giving more prominence to the conversation. As expected, WLM 9 now supports animated gifs, but unfortunately, can only be seen if your contact has WLM 9!


Signature sounds! Yay! Everytime I sign-in, a 5s signature sound is played to all my contacts! You can edit per-contact sounds as well!


& because people would have certainly made abuse of it – like using a huge 5mb signature file, WLM 9 limits you to only 5s. But that was enough to catch the opening sequence of Top Gear Jessica! :)


Another innovation clickable status links!


WLM 9 also allows multiple sign-ins from different computers.

More features include Spammer notification – identify a spammer & WLM will add him to a blacklist & limit his usage! :P
WLM 9 sure has some new features, but since it’s beta the sign-in is a bit lengthy, but I would definitely recommend a try-out. The final version will be released at the end of this year.

Download Windows Live Messenger 9 Beta (Build 14.0.3921.717).
(Run only the Messenger.msi)

Download A-Patch for WLM 9.

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Aug 30, 2008


"Whatever can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time, in the worst possible way."Murphy’s Law.

My 2nd year at the University of Mauritius (UOM) has just begun & I've noticed quite a few new things, including the supposed computerisation of the campus. But is it worthwhile? (Warning: UOM rant to follow!)

First of all, I'd like to apologise for not being able to blog since my only hard disk (an 80GB Samsung SP0802N) was failing & I had to reduce my usage until I get a new one. & the last 2 weeks, after a BSOD, I didn't use it anymore.


& how unlucky was I that the next day (13th Aug) the results were finally out for Mechanical, Manufacturing & Mechatronics. I wonder why it took them so long? & the latest innovation is that you can now check results online! Wow, what a ground-breaking idea!

It was really at the end of the day that the results were to be available & because my computer was down, I had to use my mobile. With GPRS I could access the whole UOM student site except the Transcript page... At least I could access the site - Nomad users are completely blocked off from the site! I guess Nomad doesn't like UOM students (or ex-students). Read more here.

No problem, I would check it at the Cad/Cam lab the next day. Well, surprise in the lab - the computers have been "upgraded" from Win 2000 to Win XP Pro. The reason is that AutoCAD 08 doesn't work with Win 2000. But with the memory still at 256MB, I wonder how will XP be able to run it? (XP itself uses 100MB). The username/password is still the same, i.e. cadcam & blank. & if you are wondering what that bear icon is, it's no spyware, but DeepFreeze, a system settings protection app.
So with Internet Explorer 5.5 & a 512kbps connection shared by 20 computers, I loaded the UOM student site - the transcript page was still not working. Was it down or is there something wrong with IE6? Hence I downloaded Firefox 3 Portable - you can't install anything on the limited account. Firefox couldn't load the page as well! It was only when I looked at the source that I guessed that the page required Java (JRE) to run! WTF? Why didn't they say so on the first place?


Took me 5 min to find the direct link to Java 6 Update 7 & I added it to a portable download manager! It's completely impossible to download anything when 20+ people are using the same connection. The only way is to use download managers (16 parallel connections) to leech all their bandwidth! Well, I was downloading Java, but I had no idea whether it will install or not? I never managed to know because the computer crashed at 75% download...

How am I going to check those results now? How about the campus's WiFi connection? I borrowed a friend's mobile & tried to connect using WLAN to UOM's weirdly named network - Sugar Beach Resort. Nokia's browser did support Java, but the network wasn't working... (I later found out that Sugar Beach never works but it’s EDS-UOM at the CafĂ© that works!!) Am I even destined to know my results?


At home, the BSOD in question was an UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME error, meaning a corrupt MBR. In XP, a fixboot solves the problem... but on Vista, there's a new repair console which doesn't even have fixboot! Nevertheless I could still boot on XP, installed my ADSL modem & tried to access the UOM site. No luck - I still needed to install Java. So instead I tried to solve the BSOD. I couldn't find a single site describing how to fix the BSOD on Vista! Finally found it by looking on a dual-booting guide. Here it is:
Bootrec.exe /fixMBR
Bootrec.exe /fixBoot

On logging into Vista, my ADSL modem just wasn't working...(reinstalled the drivers 10+ times). My failing hard disk did more than just corrupt the boot records - it corrupted my Vista as well. No USB devices were being recognised & Vista was asking for re-activation. Pffff... How much more unlucky can I get?


In the end, I had to use... dial-up! I was incredibly frustrated for having to pay to check this BS of result transcript. On top of that, it took ages for the Java applet to load...


All this effort for this single page? Why can't they just setup a simple text-based page? I guess there are database systems available that are more secure than Java. Do they think everyone has broadband & they can download Java anytime? & the least they could have done is mention it: "This site requires Java Plugin to work. Download it here." Easy.


No comments about the Student site design. If you look at it, you'd think we are living in the 1990s... Forget the design, there's not even a Help section! & to think all students need to register online! How would they know what they need to register, when to do it & whether to do GEMs? The required info is found hidden in the main UOM site here.


Have you noticed that there's now a Manual section on the homepage. Firsties can now get softcopies for some of their manuals (most of them GEMs). Why didn't they do this last year? :@
& btw you can’t download those manuals yet – I had to take them directly from the publishing section (& I still don’t have them yet!!!)


UOM's recent switch-over to Google apps is commendatory. But with such crap connections available on the campus, you can't take advantage of services like Google Docs (there's always Office 03 on the computers & 07 in the Black Box). As for mail, very few lecturers use it to contact students with the majority of mail being spam from the Registrar (Research Week 08 BS). Have you ever tried sending something with that mail? You won't be able because whatever you send will be automatically be labeled as spam by Gmail.



The "compulsory" module Work-Based Learning (WBL) really illustrates how disorganised UOM really is. This module introduced by the Distance Learning section is a total failure. Less than 20% of students got a work placement. & since it's compulsory, what happens to the other students? Won't they get the credits? WBL is a joke compared to Industrial Training - engineering students are being sent to sit at the Ministry! LOL

Speaking of modules, that is complete disaster! Every year you get new modules, the aim of which is to have common modules for the maximum number of students. This is a big problem in terms of class size. For e.g., all my lectures have 75+ students from at least 2 sections. How are we going to do practicals? Would the current group of 5 double to 10? How are we gonna do the reports?

The problem of past-papers is worst. The newer modules having new codes, you don't know what was the original module. UOM wanted to put all papers online - but if you check the library, there's only May 2006 papers there! Another example of disorganisation - the papers are scattered over the campus - you'll find papers at the VCILT’s Learning Objects Repository & the Library’s Libero WebOpac Portal (accessible via Intranet only).


& now there's also the UOM Noodle Moodle which is supposed to be a platform for lecturers to upload notes. The graphics isn't too pleasant & it's not too hard to register but it could have been much better.

& don't forget there's a new Engineering Library found on 2nd floor. I do really pity those students who need to shuttle between these 2 libraries.


As you've probably noticed, all slide projectors have been replaced by ceiling-mounted LCD projectors. Great initiative to make all lecturers purchase laptops (& get them to learn IC3) - but every time you want to use it you need to call the technician (for the remote), thus wasting 15 min. & I think there's only 1 technician for the whole Engineering Tower.


& for lecturers who don't have a laptop, there's always the Black Box. The Black Box is no recording device (like in an aircraft) but contains a monitor-less "portable" PC - the NetPc!
UOM is providing all these facilities, but will lecturers even use them? Some lecturers are total noobs with technology. There's one lecturer who scans his notes & saves them as pics in a Word doc! & let me tell you he doesn’t even know how to use Word 2007 fullscreen option!!! (The other day he kept hovering his mouse on the fullscreen option, in deep thought whether to click on it or not, & finally decided not to, just to be cautious in case he messes something up!)


If you think C is the lowest high-level language you've come across, then you've never heard of mnemonics? That's like dealing directly with hex to program logical operations. We are currently practicing on the 8-bit 8085 Intel processor (all desktop PCs are based on the original 16-bit 8086 CPU). That's actually the only thing that I found positive so far. A simple program to mask off the least significant nibble of A6(H) & storing in memory address 2502:


That's the end of my UOM rant. First-years must have been severely disappointed by the state of affairs here - but this is only the beginning, it can only get worse, right? Welcome to Hell. As for the rest of us, we are supposed to make way for more students on the campus... Haven't you noticed how over-crowded the cafeteria is now? Btw cafeteria rant is here! Our schedules have been re-shuffled as well - the lecture theatres being occupied all the time by the larger cohorts, we are the ones being punished: 8:30am to 5:30pm on Saturday - 9 hours non-stop! The only students to remain at UOM that late on Saturday… (all other buildings & gates are already locked down). Uom SUCKS. Period.


PS. I'm now back to blogging with my new 250GB Hitachi Deskstar IDE hard disk which I got at a great bargain at Rs 2000 (VAT inc.) at ACD Computers! ;)
& here ends this 9000-character rant! :P

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Aug 27, 2008


Nokia have officially unveiled the candybar Nokia N79 & the slider N85.


The Nokia N79 has the look of the N82, but with a really cool front design giving prominence to the Nokia logo & the menu key. The N79 comes with changeable XpressCovers.

The Specs:

  • S60 3rd Edition OS 9.3 FP2
  • 2.4" 320 x 240 pixels (QVGA) screen
  • Navi Wheel & Accelerometer
  • 5MP camera with Carl Zeiss Optics & sliding lens cover. Dual-LED flash.
  • VGA Video capture at 30fps
  • Integrated FM Transmitter
  • WLAN (802.11b/g), Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR
  • Integrated GPS with A-GPS
  • 3.5mm stereo headphone jack with support for TV-out. Twin stereo speakers.
  • MicroUSB connector, 4GB MicroSD card included.
    Full specs here.


    The N79 has nothing to envy with its predecessor, the N78. The N78 being released only a few months ago, the N79 is not meant to replace it but rather provide a better choice for users looking for a mid-end Nseries.


    The N85 looks exactly like the N96... but make no mistake, it's much a smaller (& better-looking) slider but is much more powerful in several aspects.


    The N85 has 2.6-inch QVGA AM OLED screen, AM standing for active matrix. Nokia's switchover to OLEDs not only means less power usage & a brighter screen (1:1300) but also less motion blur since the AM OLED responds faster than normal OLEDs. & black colour is "blacker" now since the AMOLED has no back-lighting.


    The N85 also has built-in FM transmitter & USB charging - there's no charging port since you get a MicroUSB charger along.


    As in all Nokia models it has A-GPS, HSDPA, WiFi b/g, Bluetooth 2.0 & 3.5mm jack with Tv-out. The N85 has a 5MP camera with a sliding lens cover & dual-led flash.


    But unlike the N96, it doesn't have on-board memory & the unnecessary DVB-H. But the N85 comes with an 8GB microSD card.

    The Specs:

  • S60 3rd Edition OS 9.3 FP2  
  • 2.6-inch QVGA AM OLED Screen
  • 5MP camera with Carl Zeiss Optics & sliding lens cover. Dual-LED flash.
  • USB Charging, 8GB MicroSD card included.
  • Navi Wheel & Accelerometer.
  • Integrated FM Transmitter
  • 3.5mm stereo headphone jack with support fort TV-out. Twin stereo speakers.
  • WLAN (802.11b/g), Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR
  • Integrated GPS with A-GPS
    Full specs here.
    N85 review here.

  • The N85 is a real powerhouse with features that are better than the highly succesful N95 but at a much lower price. The only dark spot is the on-board memory. If there ever will be an 8GB variant, there's no doubt it would be a massive hit, completely cutting off the N96. & maybe that's why Nokia didn't do that...

    What next?
    After A-GPS, Wifi, TV-out & the Navi Wheel it's now certain that 5MP cameras, the FM transmitter, AM OLED & USB charging will now become standard in all high-end Nokias. With the release of the N85, the N96 barely survives with its flagship status (& it's not even launched!).
    The N97 will need cutting-edge technology to be able to keep ahead of the competition. For starters, that would mean an 8MP camera (to rival the INNOV8). Touchscreen maybe? With VGA res (better than the Tube). Wimax? Wifi b/g/n? LTE? USB Host support? The ball is in Nokia's court.

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    Aug 26, 2008


    Yeah, it's unbelievable that the Olympics are already over! But throughout these 2 weeks we've witnessed history being made - whether it is through the impressive display of Chinese athletes, the incredible 8-gold-medal feat of Phelps, the fastest man running the fastest ever 100m & of course the bronze medal won by the Mauritian Magician!



    I'll start with Bruno Julie getting the Bronze medal by reaching the semifinals where he lost to Yankiel Alarcon.



    & in the Bantamweight final, the Cuban lost hugely (16-6) to the Mongolian boxer Enkhbatyn Badar-Uugan. The Cuban boxer was so disappointed, he ran away after receiving his medal, avoiding the photoshoot!







    As for Bruno Jolie, he received a hero’s welcome back home! :D (more here on L’Express) Pics from Le Matinal & L’Express.








    Beijing Pics from

    Phelps 4x100 Freestyle

    I doubt you'd find a celebration more enthusiastic than Michael Phelps hulk-like screaming! But it wasn't winning the 4x100m Freestyle Relay that justified it but Jason Lezak's incredible performance.
    The USA were 2nd behind France & Jason Lezak swam the fastest ever 100m in 46.06s to beat France's 100m specialist Alain Bernard (who won the 100m freestyle final later in 47.51s). Watch the video here.

    Phelps 100m Butterfly

    Michael Phelps demonstrated his real superhuman strength in his 7th final, the 100m Butterfly.
    At the 50m turnaround, he was at the 7th position & everyone thought that he would never be able to come back. But against all odds he managed to beat the Serbian by 1/100th of a second - that's faster than you can blink. Check the slow-motion replay & you'd be amazed at how close that was! & there's also the speed you can see those arms move (in slow-motion!). Just INCREDIBLE! Watch the video here.


    Usain Bolt - however arrogant he may be... it's impossible to overlook how hard he had to train to become so invincible. Most athletes with long legs aren't fast, but Bolt is an exception - he was so quick over 100m that he ran the last 10m casually & still broke the world record. Watch the video here.
    For 200m, Bolt knew complacency wouldn't do - he really needed to put it all his efforts to break Michael Johnson's 1996 world record - & he did, running as if his legs were on fire! Watch the video here.


    Rafael Nadal completed a historic treble by winning the Roland Garros, Wimbledon & now the Olympics to finally get the world's No. 1 position & the end of Roger Federer's reign.

    However, the Olympics wasn't without controversy. Swedish wrestler Ara Abrahamian dropped his bronze medal in the ring to protest against refereeing.


    But the most unfortunate was the kick received by the referee from Taekwondo fighter Angel Valodia Matos. The Cuban was protesting against his disqualification for taking more than 1 minute for treatment. & due to this Taekwondo has been put on the black list.

    The closing ceremony was less glitzy compared to the magnificent opening ceremony, but again the Bird's Nest saw a blend of mass synchronization & cutting-edge technology.

    Beijing Closing Ceremony London 2012

    The Olympic flag was handed over to London who will host the next games in 2012. London 2012 Organising Committee had brought along their own double-decker "transformer" bus & stars like David Beckham, Leona Lewis & Jimmy Page.


    There's no way London will be able to surpass Beijing - they can't spend infinitely & the horrible magenta London 2012 logo has already striked controversy. You don't need a much vivid imagination to figure out what that logo depicts (apart from the 2012 i.e.). Check out here how the Beijing logo was made!


    The original logo, provoked seizures in epilepsy patients due to its psychedelic colours. Forget the logo, just check out the site!


    So now, goodbye Beijing! See you all in 2 years at Vancouver for the Winter Olympics!

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