Sunday, May 30, 2010

Disabling traffic enforcement cameras using paint

While we were in South Africa, many times we would slow down our car to avoid getting "snapped" by a speed camera. There were a few cameras close to our home, and these were a frequent source of irritation for us. We sometimes wondered - how to impair these cameras without causing damage to the devices?

A speed camera in South Africa (source)

After a few discussions, one seemingly good idea that hit our minds was coating the camera's lens with black paint - effectively blinding it - without causing any visible damage. This act should be done at night, so that the camera doesn't capture the perpetrator's face.

I wonder whether damaging/disabling/impairing traffic cameras is a frequent occurrence in the world.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I want a simple, solid phone. Please.

I'm tired of having to take care of my Nokia N72 all the time, as dropping it would most likely damage it. It's a good phone no doubt, but it's too overloaded and tender. There are way too many features in it that I don't need or want, and too many others that I need and want are absent. What I need is a phone that:
  1. Is solid, yet lightweight
  2. Has a set of only the essential features
  3. Looks elegant and manly
  4. Has a long battery life
  5. Has excellent voice quality and volume
  6. Has excellent network reception
  7. Is dust-resistant and water-resistant
  8. Is easy to use and ergonomically designed
  9. Is something I can depend on
I don't need MMS, or camera, or games, or calendar, or Java, or multi-color display, or GPRS, or a Web browser, or music/video playback, or fancy ringtones, or other fancy features. I only need voice calling, SMS, call-recording, multiple alarms, and a few other capabilities. Actually, I realize that none of the phones I've ever seen fit my needs perfectly. What I really need is something I can only design myself.

When I look at some of the phones of 90s and early 2000s (Bosch World 718Ericsson GA 628, Ericsson GF 788eEricsson GH 688, Ericsson I 888, Ericsson SH 888Ericsson T28 World, Ericsson T28sMotorola StarTAC 75, Nokia 8810, Nokia 8850, Nokia 8855Siemens S10Sony CMD Z1 plusSony CMD Z7), I wish that the makers of these phones start making and selling these again. So simple, manly, and graceful. Almost what I need. 

Such a graceful phone (source)

I want to own and use each one of these. By saving contacts and SMS data only in the SIM card, I can ensure that I'm not locked-in to any handset, and can place the SIM in any of these to ready it.

Update (17-Jul-10): Among the relatively more recent phones, I especially like Nokia 2600 and Nokia 3120. Both of these phones are really durable/rugged, and both have soft keypads that feel nice!

Nokia 2600 (source); Nokia 3120 (source)

The Apple MacBook I want to buy

As I'm thinking of buying a new laptop computer these days, I see that the MacBook selling for $999 has nearly everything I need (it's light, fast, durable/strong, beautiful, ergonomically designed, graceful, decently priced, and has a good feature set), except the following:
  1. 8 GB RAM (so I can disable the swap file, and use RAM disk)
  2. 40 GB Intel MLC SSD, so I don't have to worry about jerks
  3. SD card slot, so I can more easily transfer data
  4. GSM SIM card slot and appropriate communication chips, etc., so I can stay connected on the move
I really wish that the current MacBook - along with the above 4 features - was available in India, and priced at the equivalent of 1099 USD. I would've happily gone ahead to buy it...

PS: continues to impress me. In contrast to the tasteless and trash-worthy websites operated by Dell and HP, actually manages to inform and impress you.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Is it possible to sabotage someone's Google AdSense account with repeated clicks?

I first experimented with Google's AdSense service back in early 2006. One of the thoughts that arose back then in my mind was this - is it possible for someone - say someone who dislikes/hates me - to get my Google AdSense account banned/disabled, by deliberately causing repeated clicks on the ads (either automatically or manually)?

I felt that the answer should be yes. Ever since, I wanted to pen this concern on my blog. And today - after 4 years - when I (finally) started writing this post, I was (a little) surprised to see that many other people have already voiced concerns regarding this (here and here).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Renaming this blog...

I'm renaming this blog today. It's current name is "Rishabh Singla's Main Blog". Henceforth, it'll be titled "FirstStep (by Rishabh Singla)".

This name change was long due, as ever since I created a new blog on my own domain name, I was concerned about the word 'Main' in the title of this blog. This isn't my main blog (HyperBlog is), and so the word 'Main' was required to go from the title.

I've chosen FirstStep as the new name, because it reflects that this was the first blog on which I started posting more serious ideas and thoughts. It'll take some time to adjust to the new name, but this change is a much-needed one.

Some screenshots of SERPs with the original name are here.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Opera Software should consider switching to third-party layout and JavaScript engines

After over 8 years of using the Opera browser, I'm in a position to say that Opera Software should consider switching the innards of its Web browser to an Open Source, third-party engine (preferably WebKit). I say so because based on my years of usage of this great Internet suite, as well as extensive reading of the business and technical aspects of Web browsers, I feel that Opera's key attractions are its:
  1. User interface
  2. Security and reliability/stability
  3. Speed
  4. Features
  5. Low resource usage (less valid with Opera 10.x)
  6. Standards-compliance
These attractions continue to hold true if Opera switches to third-party layout and JavaScript engines. Why then is Opera continuing to invest a significant amount of cash in the development of proprietary engines? Would it make more sense to redirect this money to increase the abysmally-low penetration of Opera's desktop browser? Or to speedup the development and refinement of new/existing features?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Has the quality of McDonald's McAloo Tikki burger gone down in the last few months?

I remember clearly (CLEARLY) that the quantity of the characteristic orange-colored sauce inside a McAloo Tikki burger (also called just Aloo Tikki burger) used to be quite higher than what McDonald's gives these days. Although the orange sauce would nearly overflow as one ate the burger, it made the burger softer and more easily chewable, even without ketchup. The burger they give today is dry. Sad.

(This one was bought from Sector-18, Noida)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Web counter replaced to StatCounter

I've replaced the hit counter on this blog, from Tiny Counter to StatCounter - the former's counter didn't show up quite often. I've started the count of StatCounter's counter at 21,115 - the latest count displayed by Tiny Counter's counter for this blog.

Why I bought Swift petrol, and not diesel

When I bought Swift in Oct'08, I had a choice between buying the petrol and diesel variants. The diesel variant was priced ~1 lakh INR above the petrol variant. Following factors made me go for petrol:
  • 1 lakh rupees translate into ~2,000 liters of petrol, which translate into ~24,000 km worth of driving (a reasonable estimate). I estimated that I'm going to drive ~20 km per weekday, and I shall need a total of ~600 km per month. Which means that by going for the petrol variant, I shall be driving for "free" for the first three years, by not paying 1 lakh rupees for the diesel variant. Notably, this calculation includes only the premium needed for purchasing the diesel variant, and excludes the additional cost of buying fuel.
  • Lower maintenance.
  • Lower NVH.
  • Low external noise (but not too low to not alert others).
  • Lower pollution.
  • Higher acceleration/pickup.
(My Swift looks almost like this; Image source)

My Swift's odometer currently reads ~9,000 km. Excluding my 6-month stay in South Africa, I've used the car for ~1 year now, and 24,000 km is still far away - which means that my car is still running for "free". And I'm a happy owner of this beautiful, modern automobile.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Pay-by-usage software pricing? Yes please!

This post (and its title) is inspired by:
Consider two individuals:
  1. User A: Needs certain features available only in Photoshop CS5, but uses them infrequently
  2. User B: Uses many features of Photoshop CS5 heavily
Should A pay as much as B to buy a Photoshop CS5 license? No, in my opinion. It's neither fair, nor value-based, to quote Duncan Jones.

(However, I'm against the "limited duration" and "limited number of times" models sometimes used to implement pay-for-usage. From my observation, these models act as a constant "concern/distraction layer" in the minds of users trying to complete a task, forcing them to also focus on their usage, hurting productivity/quality and killing the fun of using software. Examples include limited minutes on phones and data-transfer limits in Internet connections. You may give less features, but don't limit their usage.)

What solution do I propose? None as yet. I'll think about this some other day when I have more time.