Hello reader! 2007 is about to end, and MBB wanted a theme (Theme #4) about the end, so here is my contribution. Thought it might be a good idea to review the year from my point of view, and talk about things that marked this interesting year, alas with a bloody ending.

For me, 2007 started on a good tune, with my HSC coming to an end, and results being announced. Not bad actually, those Aaa and BB. I kinda sux in Maths and Physics sooo.. :/

Nothing much after that. The long months of holidays, doing nothing, unless spending 12+ hrs per day on a computer can be considered to be an "activity". I think my mom didn't consider it to be, so I was "motivated" to go for N+ and S+ courses. Was nice, specially after some friends and myself accidentally wrecked havoc there! I think I'm officially banned from bringing a laptop now! :( Those were nice. Very nice. The teacher, Ikhlass was fun! Miss those times! Sorely miss them. :(

After that? Uni! That was the best! A totally new experience for me, and totally worth it. New friends, new faces, new poke victims, new things to learn. Niiiceee! The only thing I complain about is that I have too much free time during the day. Why can't all the courses be crammed in morning, leaving afternoon free? This remains to be answered.

Basically, this was my year. Nothing so great after all. Now, how did the world change in 2007? If I could resume it all in one idea, I'd say that 2007 was just a bloody year. Call me a pessimist or negative person, but it was the truth. Want proofs?

Virginia Tech Massacre. Iraq war. Assination of Mrs. Benazir Bhutto. Oh yes, it has been a bloody year for most of it. War. Bloodshed. Terrorism. Violence. Suicide-bomber. Those might be the most used words in the news in 2007 IMHO. The pictures down can only remind us of the violence we came to face in 2007. A bloody year indeed.

The year is going to end in the world mourning the death of a woman. Benazir Bhutto was assassinated less than a week before the year ends, on the 27th December of the bloody 2007. I personally think that killing a woman, defenseless at that, can simply be called inhuman.

However, the year also had its positive sides. Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize for his priceless work on climate change, and his movie which is a real eye-opener, and is a must-watch.

We also saw the coming of the much hyped device from Apple, the Iphone. It might not be the gadget of the century, but that small thing surely packs enough power to satisfy most users in performing usual tasks.

Another happening that surely got much media coverage was the Digg revolt, whereby users posted the famous "Numbers" related to HD-DVD encryption, and this line came "You'd rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company." That should indeed be a clear sign that big companies can't simply mess with customers as they see fit.

After a while, we finally got to see the end of the Harry Potter series. Not much of a big event, but still, it reaped some millions to Rowling. So it's worth mentioning.

I dunno what more I can say. These events are those that marked my year, and I'd be glad to hear what marked yours! So? Comments appreciated! :P

Right! It's THAT time of the year... you know... pine trees, snow, twinkling lights, fireworks, GIFTS! It's:

Christmas Time! :P

I'm sure many of you have already chopped their tree, or bought their plastic thingy one, and have already filled it up with twinkling, shining, roundish and spikish stuff which makes it all pleasant to see. Why all the effort? Come on! I'm sure it's because of the gifts that will be placed at its foot. This plant deserves special attention IMHO. Maybe some of you have even readied their:


Ok, I don't put up socks 'cuz I don't want my gifts being restrained by the size of the sock! Lol.

Anyways, I'm sure good old Santa Claus is riding to your place a-la Ghost Rider style, sky flaming snowing, along with the rocking music and beard flapping in the wind. Vrooom! (I don't know what sound reindeers make)

Check out the "ride"! :P

So I think you will find

gifts under the tree tonight! What are you expecting?

Gentlemen might be expecting something like this:

Wonder if it fits under the tree...

While ladies might be looking for this:

Twinkling lights! Where does Santa get the $$?

While the bad kids can only expect to see this:

Coal, folks!


Oh yes! Anybody who knows me, knows that I love these! I just hope there is no void in there! :P

Anyways, on this note, I wish you, dear reader


and hope that you get what you wish tonight, whatever it may be, physical, material or emotional. Santa is here, time to make a move.

Inf has booby-trapped his place with motion sensors, lasers, homing cameras, alarm systems, trapdoors, cages and other stuff. I'm gonna catch the one who leaves things in my room for Christmas! Come'on Santa! Try evading me this time (even if you did for the last few 20ish years)...

In the morning, I reset my router because I wanted to know if it was causing Daryna's (Linux Mint) Static IP addressing to go haywire. Figures that it had nothing to do.

However, I had to reconfigure my router, and made a huge blunder. Somewhere, I forwarded port 81 and 82. At first I got no issues, but troubles soon came.

I wanted to check my mail, and saw that I could not access my Hotmail account. Nothing from the Live domain worked, even msn and Microsoft's site. Weird. Digg didn't work too. However, other sites worked normally.

I thought Hotmail was down or something, maybe the DNS servers in Mauritius got some problems, but nothing. Neelesh said Hotmail was up and running, and there was no mention of MSN/Live servers having any trouble. That meant the problem was on my side.

I searched like mad, checking my routing tables, pinging addresses, netstat, virus scan and whatever I could think of. Nothing.

The funniest thing is that, even Daryna could not access Hotmail. Meaning it was not OS related. I then turned towards my router. I changed settings. Nothing.

Then I noticed the 2 forwarded ports, 81 and 82. I suspected that this might be the problem, since 80 is for HTTP traffic. I deleted the forwards, and tada! I could access everything again.

Moral of the story: Never forward ports you are not sure of. That holds for ports less than 10000. These are especially important. It's a lesson learnt for me.

I woke up yesterday, and got really irritated at Kubuntu. I suddenly hated its bulkiness, its looks, its bugs and all. I wanted something minimalistic. I wanted GNOME. Dunno why. It was just an urge. I checked out Ubuntu Gutsy. After a while, I got a bit tired of anything *buntu-related. I wanted something new, and I required simplicity. I wanted things to work out of the box. After some checking, I found a new distro that is quickly rising to fame. Linux Mint. I wanted to try it out, the distro that claims "with freedom came elegance". Nice slogan. So here's my nooby review of Linux Mint. I got Linux Mint 4.0: Daryna.

Linux Mint is essentially based on Ubuntu, running kernel 2.6.22-14, and GNOME as interface.

~700MB later, I had my new distro ready. I booted into it via LiveCD. Yikes! Gripes. Dunno why, but it didn't boot at first. It just showed me a nice black wallpaper, and my cursor. GNOME was not starting. Reboot! Again, but this time, I saw the GNOME bottom panel, but blank, and no icons! WTF! REBOOT! Poof! This time, for a weird reason, everything loaded fine, and I got my desktop and all icons and all. Strange...

Desktop and Menu

After this rough start, I wanted to try it out, to see if it lives up to its name. At first sight, I really really liked its minimalism. No longer did I have to see a large KDE panel at the bottom. The sleek GNOME panel was awesome. The wallpaper, and the default theme gave an incredible look.

From the menu, I could see a whole bunch of applications already installed, most notably Firefox, Thunderbird, Pidgin, GIMP, Totem, Mplayer, Amarok, Open-Office 2.3 and Serpentine. All the awesomeness of Linux already there! These are really useful, and I didn't have to install those. Overall, I had what I needed out-of-the-box.

Regarding drivers, I was amazed. My WiFi (Intel Pro Wireless 4965) worked directly, prompting me for ESSID and the other usual settings, and minutes later, I was on Google. Same for my graphics driver (Intel GMA 965), giving me my 1280x800 native resolution. Sweet!

What really amazed me in Mint was its support for formats. Most audio I threw at it worked, directly out-of-the-box! Same goes for video. I tried mp3, avi, mov, rmvb, flv and wma. Anything I tried, Mint ran them all! This is superbly great! I had a whole portable media player system directly from LiveCD. Flash plugin was also installed by default! Here I come, Youtube!

Media support (Rmvb playing)

So much awesomeness prompted me to rapidly discard my bulky and buggy Kubuntu Gutsy install, to be replaced by Mint.

Install went on smoothly, with the usual questions of language, keyboard, timezone, partitioning and all. 15 minutes later, I had Mint installed and running fine.

File browsing is handled by the quite heavy Nautilus, but I didn't complain. I might try Thunar some time later.

File Browser - Nautilus

What I want to say is that Linux Mint is really great for users that want a simple and clean system, that is fast and efficient, and that works without hours of configuration. Judging from what it offers, I confidently say that I'm moving away from Ubuntu, towards Mint. It's that good, and I tend to be very exigent. Even then, it manages to satisfy me very well. I didn't have to set permissions for my File Browser to run. I didn't have to ndiswrapper anything (note that there is a GUI front-end to ndiswrapper in Mint - useful for beginners), and did not have to install anything to get an almost complete system. My devices were all recognized out of the box, and I can say my sound is better on Mint than on Vista! I hear bass more clearly now. Dunno why.

In fact, till now, I only installed gkshutdown - to shut my pc automatically at desired times, and the updates being offered. Nothing else was required till now.

Aside from all this goodness, there is also a control centre, sort of control panel where you can do all your system setting changes and customization. It's pretty useful if you want to tinker with loads of settings.

Control center

Note that for eye-candy lovers, Compiz is already installed and usable. Unfortunately, I am unable to use it due to issues with the GMA 965. Maybe later, when the issues are resolved. I've seen guides to make it work, but I'm not in the mood to be downloading Xserver packages and all. Maybe later..

Mint is a complete Linux system, with added support for media formats, already installed goodies and apps. It also has the generic features of linux, like workspaces, terminal and everything you might expect to see in any decent distro. And it has this with GNOME: Custom panels. This is extremely useful.

Custom Panels

To conclude, I'm heartily recommending Mint to anybody who wants a simple and sleek Linux distro that works. It easily handled all my media, detected and ran all my devices and has all the apps that I commonly use. What more can I ask? Apart from the initial booting problems of LiveCD, I have no complaints. I think that after loads of searching, I finally found my soulmate distro. For now.. :p

Anyways, whatever I say here might seem great, or bland, depends on you. The best way to get to know Mint is to go download it and give it a try. Even if you don't install, check out the LiveCD. I can say it's one of the most usable ones out there.

Btw, this also qualifies for Theme #3 of ThemBB Weekly Themes! This is my review of Linux Mint.

As always, comments appreciated! Thanks for reading.

I'll start a sort of "bi-monthly post" as from this week, titled Useful Apps, in which I'll TRY to make you discover a new application, or one that I use often. It might help you, just as it helped me. Most of these apps will be freeware/open-sourced. Say twice per month or so. Might be more frequent. Might be rarer.

So, this week's candidate is... *drum roll* IZARC!

IZArc is what people will call, a free alternative to the popular WinRAR. In fact, that's how I came across it. I was looking for free Zip programs to use, and after using 7Zip for quite a while, I was sorely missing a very useful feature from WinRAR which is called "Extract to Separate Folders". This allowed me to select a bunch of archives, and have them extract to each one's separate folders. Eg. 1.zip, 2.zip, 3.zip would extract to folders 1,2,3 and with their subfolders if any.

7Zip did not offer me that facility. WinRAR was not free. Possible choices were: IZArc, Zip Genius and some other names. Just google "WinRAR freeware alternatives" and come up with your own list. Some offered me "Extract to Separate Folders", but none offered me the simplicity of IZArc.

As you can see from above, the interface of IZArc is really clean and friendly, and a bit WinRAR like. I like this simplicity. The task of extraction is furthur simplified since IZArc integrates with your Explorer shell, as shown in the menu above. Vista is also supported. Like WinRAR and others, IZArc offers the common things people look for, like self extractor, test archive, backgrounding tasks, and more.

Regarding compatibility, IZArc supports:


As you can see, the list is quite extensive, including: ZIP, RAR, IMG, ISO, NRG. This means that IZArc can open ISO files generated by your burning program, and you can extract the contents like an archive. Pretty nice and useful.

Nothing much to say more, except that it's the best Archive manager I came across till now. It's freeware, and spyware-free. It's totally worth the download. If you want a new Archive manager, give it a try. No regrets from me, and no complaints till now.

For more info, check their site.

And for people who want portability, check out IZArc2Go, the same greatness, but portable! Very useful if you need to extract/pack something on the go, without the need to install anything. Run IZArc2Go from your flash drive or portable media, and you are off.

File sizes: ~3.5MB

One of my contacts on MSN sent me a link: http://www.free-offers-your-clicks.com.

I immediately thought it was some kind of spamming program that sends its links to the person's contacts.

Being curious, I went to the link and saw it redirected to www.blockdelete.com

As soon as I saw this site, I knew there was something wrong with it. I didn't even bother to test it.

According to me, this site is a SCAM SITE / Spam Harvester that will phish for your msn account and get your email address to spam you. I really think this is a phishing site that's after your username and password.

I will NOT advise using this site, putting in your login name and password. If you have been a victim, it's important to change your password as soon as possible.

AFAIK, there is NO sure way to know who blocked you on MSN, and site like these will NOT help. DO NOT input your credentials (username, password, or personal details) on sites you are not sure of.

More info here:

Peter Bromberg's Blog
Whirlpool Forums

I saw a Mind Test off Neelesh and thought I'd give it a try.. Personally I think it's highly accurate! :)

Lemme know ur comments. Here's the results..

ISTP - "Engineer".
Values freedom of action and following interests and impulses.
Independent, concise in speech, master of tools.
5.4% of total population.
Free Jung Personality Test (similar to Myers-Briggs/MBTI)

Introverted (I) 53.33% Extroverted (E) 46.67%
Sensing (S) 52.78% Intuitive (N) 47.22%
Thinking (T) 57.58% Feeling (F) 42.42%
Perceiving (P) 52.78% Judging (J) 47.22%

hidden, private, has trouble describing feelings, not very affectionate, loner tendencies, lower energy, can be insensitive to the misfortunes of others, disorganized, messy, fears drawing attention to self, anti-tattoos, anti counter culture, not comfortable in unfamiliar situations, avoidant, rather unemotional, does not like attention, more interested in intellectual pursuits than relationships or family, hermitic, not complimentary, dislikes leadership, more submissive then domineering

favored careers:
aerospace engineer, technician, computer scientist, software engineer, software developer, scientist, bar owner, automotive technician, electrician, engineer, mathmatician, industrial engineer, nuclear engineer, biotechnology, mechanic, systems analyst, computer animator, data analyst, video game designer

(OMG! Check all the geek things in that list! :P)

disfavored careers:
artist, fashion designer, theater director, poet, dancer, actor, singer, english teacher or professor, art teacher, healer, stage manager, florist, art therapist, school teacher, music journalist

And my Global Personality Test...

withdrawn, not wild and crazy, private, loner, not relationship obsessed, not swayed by emotions, insensitive to the needs of others, unhelpful, interested in intellectual pursuits, avoidant, does not put the needs of others ahead of self, thinks before acting, very scientific, not upset by the misfortune of strangers, avoids small talk, values solitude, private, does not get worked up about most things, fearless, unaffected by the suffering of others, calm in crisis, not easily excited, won't do much to avoid rejection, not known for generosity, not easily confused, cold, not prone to complimenting others, dislikes most people but tries to get along to minimize hostility, hard to get to know, more dominant than submissive, not easily hurt, driven by reason, influenced more by self than others, rarely worried, hard to impress, not that interested in relationships, hard to influence, not concerned about failing when trying something new, self confident, knows why they do things, not easily moved to tears, not prone to jealousy, not guided by moods

During my casual news scanning, I saw two interesting articles which I thought are worth commenting here. One of them is an interesting program, and the other is a new type of network. Here goes:

1. Gonein60's (via Lifehacker)
Quite a name, right? What does it do? It allows you to un-close your accidentally closed programs. Say you are working on an important doc, and you accidentally close your word processor. Two things follow: the extreme frustration at losing your unsaved work, and regret. Not now. Use Gonein60's. Essentially, what it does it that it hides your closed windows for a duration of time, instead of closing them immediately. After this delay, the windows are then closed. During this delay, you can un-close those closed windows.

Note that the site from which you download Gonein60's contain LOTS of useful windows programs, such as one to dim the screen on inactivity, to disable the close button of certain windows, to mute on idle, to make windows transparent, add toolbars and much more. Feel free to explore. It's really a great site with lots of useful tools. Here's the site.

2. BAN (Body Area Network) (via Arstechnica)
It's now official. IEEE has formed a work group for devising the 802.15.6 standard, that is, Body Area Network. This low-frequency network will allow wearable devices to interact using their own network, a-la SC-FI. This technology opens avenues for loads of interesting uses. I've listed two here: You approach a person at a conference, and you automatically exchange business cards when you are within range. Your wristwatch connects via your mobile to the Internet, and automatically syncs the time with time servers.

Now, there are some security concerns that need to be addressed before it becomes widely used, but that won't be too difficult considering the short range of the BAN.

Prepare yourself folks, such things as bone-connectivity devices, skin connectivity, brain implants and the other cybernetic body implants are not very far away... :P

That would be all. Comments awaited.

Via Engadget:

Remember that blisteringly fast channel bonding modem Comcast showed off earlier this year? Turns out that the firm's CEO is apparently aiming to roll out internet services that can reach up to 160Mbps down / 120Mbps up sometime in 2008. As in, next year. In a recent interview with Fortune, Brian Roberts stated that service based on DOCSIS 3.0 technology would start "rolling out" sometime in 2008, and casually noted that it should provide "more than enough bandwidth to do multiplayer online gaming." Additionally, Cable Digital News explains that the firm has plans to cover some 20-percent of its footprint with the uber-quick service before 2009, and while we're left to guess what areas will be covered, we'd bet locales fetching FiOS could entertain some competition. Granted, we've still got aways to go before we can go toe-to-toe with a certain Swede, but we'll take any progress we can get.
Only three words comes to my mind: WTF OMFG WOW!

But that's sooo friggin awesome!! 160 friggin Mbps DOWNLOAD! 120Mbps UPLOAD! That's even faster than 100BaseTX LAN!! That means a damn maximum of 20MBps down and 15MBps up. That's the theoretical maximum, but it's still awesome. Even 10MB/5MB would be bliss!

In comparison: You'll a full 4.5GB DVD of your aXXo rip Linux Distro in like 70 seconds considering 10MB down. 1 minute. That's all.

And that would be in.... 2008. Next month. NEXT MONTH IS 2008! That's not 2009. Not 2018. It's 2008!

Now, imagine 160Mbps in Mauritius. Right... 2098. Nothing before! Till then, enjoy your crappy bandwidth that sux, like Avinash Meetoo says. :P

Note: It's not bad enough yet. 160Mbps is nothing. We need THIS!


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