Linux in Windows 10

In my brief stint in Microsoft, I worked on a project that was called Services For Linux. It was a project to get the posix commands working on the command line.

I was pretty excited as I had been a long time user of Linux already, and thought it was quite rad to have this thing in linux iteself. I had already been using cygwin shells before in other companies. However, the excitement turned sour quite early on due to the attitude within the company. If there was a bug, it was mostly marked as 'as per design', and any argument that this is not how it works on linux was met with 'We are Microsoft. We do it our way'.

So, I am quite surprised and excited to see that Microsoft partnered with Canonical to get this in Windows10. So, far the demo seems to show it as an actual full fledged bash shell, instead of the lame implementation the SFU team was working on.

As usual, expect quite a big backlash from the online Linux community towards Canonical.

More details at :

The New Exciting Microsoft

Usually the name of Microsoft does not excite people in the same vein as Google or Apple.

However, all that is changing.

The recent events all point towards a positive direction ( marring the privacy issues). The shift started with the Windows 10 release, and is picking up with the Windows Hardware event.

A hardware event from Microsoft - that was something unexpected.

Well, Microsoft has dabbled into hardware before. The very forgettable Zune that Microsoft tried to beat the iPod with - but with Apple already moving towards the iPhone, the Zune was a disaster. Microsoft then tried again with the Surface - unfortunately that too did not do so well when compared to the iPads or even with Android based tablets.

However, the latest 6th October event is going to change that.

Now, there is a lot of stuff written about the surface pro and the surface book etc. However, in this blog post I am going to concentrate only on the phones.

Why ?

Because these phones double up as full fledged PC experience. Yup - plug in the laptop using the adapter - and BAM! You can run full screen apps on the monitor. Just watch the video below.

So, what does that mean ?

Well, it means that you can actually leave your laptop behind. All you need is the phone. For business users, who are mostly just using emails or working on a few documents, this is all you need. Have a dock at home and in office, plug in and you are all set. Microsoft is calling this continuum.

I am becoming a believer.

Apple Pencil

Last week the Apple Event '15 happened. As usual, a plethora of information was released from Apple - a lot of which was already known as Apple seems to have become a leaky bucket post Steve Jobs. But the one that sticks out to me is the Apple Pencil. A few years back, I was very bullish about the camera in the iPhone4s , and now I think this new thing is quite good.

But, the customary rewind first

Well, apparently, Apple thinks it does now :D

The difference though is huge between 2007 stylus and the current stylus. For one, at that time, if you used a Palm or an O2 device, you just had to use a stylus to do anything. Using your fingers rarely got anything done, unless you could tap on it with your fingernail.

Fast forward to today. The iPad pro still uses finger multi touch for its interface. However, Apple has added the pencil for activities that use a lot of detailing. Watch the demo below.

I do a little bit of sketching. And I find using the finger very cumbersome. I tried it on the iPad and also on my Nexus. So, then I got a pen which allows you to sketch. That too is cumbersome cause it has a very broad tip, something like this.

This still does not give me the control that i can get with a pencil or a pen's tip.

That's where I think that the Apple pencil is going to shine. With its thinner tip, and also the ability to sense the angle to broaden the stroke (instead of going to an archaic menu to change the stroke width), is a pure win in my view.

And I think it is going to decimate the competition. In this niche area, the company that has a monopoly as of now is Wacom. Their products are expensive and not so great, but till now, there was not much competing products. I think they are going to die just like Blackberry.

To do a comparison, I checked out Wacom's line of tablets which has a display. The one that closely matches the iPad Pro ( thats the only iPad model as of now that will be able to work with the pencil) , is the Cintiq 13HD .  At the time of the writing, Wacom's online store is offline, so I can't get the price from there, but a quick google search throws up that they start at $999.

$999 for Cintiq 13 HD vs $898 for the iPad Pro and Pencil

And the iPad can also do the other things that an iPad does ( email, browsing, games), while with the Cintiq you are stuck with just sketching.

I rest my case. Bye bye Wacom.

Email TRAI for Net Neutrality in India

You may have heard about net neutrality in the social media, or on news channels in the last few days. It is basically about unconditional access to the internet. Would you like to have to pay packs for accessing whatsapp or facebook over and above the data plan you pay ?

Telco companies think you should. TRAI has put out a consultation paper soliciting responses. Unfortunately, as with most govt papers, it is difficult to understand the questions and provide responses which are pertinent.

That's where the internet is working to save the internet. The folks over at savetheinternet have provided canned responses. All that I ask you to do is to to the website, copy the response in your email, and mail to TRAI ( email id given on the website). That's as simple as it can get.

I also urge you to read the answers to the questions as that will make more clear what is going on and what the save the internet is all about. If you have better knowledge of net-neutrality, I also urge you to edit the responses as you see fit.

#SaveTheInternet #NetNeutrality


Is Google becoming less Geek friendly ?

Google has totally killed GTalk

That is sad on so many fronts.

Gtalk used to be a small app that would sit quietly in the notification part of the computer and when someone chats with you, it would pop up. If you used Yahoo messenger or MSN messenger - you know what I mean.

However, now to get the same functionality - you have to run through a few hoops. Firstly there is no standalone app available anymore. The alternate to GTalk is Hangout. Firstly the name itself has no Googly connotation to it. And to install it first you need to download the Chrome browser and then get the Hangout plugin. If you try it any other way - this is what you get.

Which makes me think - is Google becoming less Geek friendly ? By sacrificing the fun of being able to mix and match, people like me will be turned off. Sure it makes sense to have a nice unified experience by dumbing it down for the masses - but the torch bearers are the Geeks and Nerds who influence the masses. Once these guys start moving away to other platforms, the current platform starts to die bit by bit. The recent movies by Google reminds me of an earlier post Microsoft shooting itself in its foot ?

Its the same feeling I got when I used Inbox - now I am back to using the earlier Gmail interface.

All around in the Google ecosystem I see the same. More and more focus is going into making Chrome the one point of access. At one time Google used to have a lot of apps on Linux - which seemed quite cool as the entire Google platform (including Android) is Linux based. But they have been quitely shelving support on Linux ( Google Officially Drop Picasa For Linux ). Search results are now returned for your geo instead of actually useful links from around the world.

I am sure some of you may be thinking that I am cribbing about things which affect only a few people. But I think that these few people are the influencers for their friends and family when it comes to tech stuff. As people like us start using other platforms ( e..g Search on Duck Duck Go instead of Google ), we start recommending these to our influence circle.

The question that keeps revolving in my mind is - Is Google becoming less Geek friendly ?

The Pebble Watch

This is my review of the Pebble Watch which I have been using for the last few days now. Of course the watch has been out for ages now, so there is nothing new - just another view point. Notice that I did not label it as a Smart Watch for that is something which has a long way to go before a watch is really smart.

The Display

The watch has an eInk display. What that means is that the display is always on - unlike the other Android watches. The eInk does not use any battery while it is on, only while changing anything on it ( e.g. changing the minutes). So, it should last longer than the other watches in the market. e.g. For Android watches, you need to charge it every day. Even the Apple Watch will need charging everyday. So far, I have seen that the battery goes down by about 10% every day. It seems to indicate a 10 day life, but the official figures are around 7 days.

Since the display is a fully electronic one, it means that the watch face can be customized in many ways. There are 3 inbuilt faces, but you can get a lot of others from the pebble store. Some of these that I am using are :

The other fantastic thing about this display is that it is readable in broad sunlight.

Another difference from the other watch displays is that it is always on. This is a big thing. Usually android watches displays switch off to save on battery, so what you have is a blank display. True, they have motion detectors for turning on the display, but that makes it feel less and less like a watch.

The only drawback of the display is that it is monochrome ( where art thou colour eink?) and the pixel density is less, so lines look jagged.


The watch requires a phone to work with. It works with either Android phones or iPhones using bluetooth (BT). Everything is fed to the phone through your phone. To add more functionality (in terms of apps or watch faces) is done through an app on the phone.

The amount of apps is limited to just 8 - which I find very very small for a device trying to be smart.

Another problem is that with BT on, your phone will discharge faster.

However, there are quite a lot of advantages of having this on all the time. Some of these that I really like are :

  • When you move out of BT range, the watch will vibrate. This is extremely useful when you forget your phone ! 
  • When going for a run, it still needs your phone for gps, but instead of looking at your phone (which I usually carry in my pocket), the display shows the details of how far you have gone, the time of the run, etc. 
  • Notifications come on the watch, so you don't need to take out the phone or even look at it till you get something you have to respond to. Sometimes, e.g. with whatsapp, the notifications become too much - so I usually turn off notifications entirely, or just mute the whatsapp group from the phone. 
  • Notifications can also be changed to have only phone calls show up. I think this will be a godsend when I am on the bike (not yet checked it out) as it will show up the name of the person when I am riding. Or, when at home and I am in a different room than where the phone is. 
  • It updates the temperature using the phone's data connectivity. I now no longer need a dedicated weather app on the phone. 


I am still trying to figure this out. Some apps that are cool are : 
  • A whatsapp app to see the last few conversations
  • Pedometer apps
  • Go Pro remote !
So far, I am really liking this watch. I do wish it had a lot more features ( see my earlier post on my expectations from Apple's smart watch - though it would apply to all smart watches) . It has become my defacto watch over the last few days, and my earlier timex lies neglected :-/ 

We are Martians

Today morning India's maiden mission to Mars was a success.

And I went berserk. A moment of feeling so proud of what our nation has achieved. A moment of vastness encapsulated in a moment of time. I can only imagine how awesome the Scientists at ISRO must have been feeling!

I got up at 6:30am in the hotel room. I did not even need an alarm to wake me up - just got up as if I subconsciously knew that it was Time. I am travelling now and unfortunately Hyatt does not have DD channel. However, ISRO is just one step ahead of everyone at this time and they had a livestream on their site ! Immediately switched to that and turned on the TV news channels ( which were using that same stream).

The whole event lasted for almost 2 hours. 2 hours glued to the laptop, tv, facebook and twitter. And at the end - the best clapping sounds I have ever heard.

MOM is in orbit !

There are some very interesting facts about this momentous event.

  • India is the 3rd nation in the world to have a successful mission to Mars
  • It is the first nation to have done it on the 1st attempt. 
  • It is the first Asian nation to have reached Mars. 
  • It is the least costly mission to the red planet. NASA's just reached MAVEN is about 10 times more costly. 
  • It takes 12 1/2 minutes for the message to reach Earth from the orbiter. In comparison it takes about 8 mins for the light from the sun to reach earth. 
  • Most of the maneuvers for getting in orbit were done automatically during the time that the orbiter was behind Mars - so no message from Earth would be reaching it when it was in the most critical part of the journey.  
Just take a step back and think about it. A probe launched in Nov of last year is now orbiting Mars. 

Man. That's a huge deal. 

Science has again trumped Superstitions. 

Post the confirmation that the process was executed flawlessly, there was some more awesomeness. The guys at ISRO are really into the social networks now. So, immediately after , we got our first tweet from the official MOM account : 
And then some more awesomeness followed.

Thats the ISRO Mars Orbiter talking to NASA's Curiosity rover :)

As the amazing feeling is still sinking in, I would also like you to go over to my friend's blog and read his views also ( ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission is a success )

Once again - Dear ISRO. /Respect