Harshdeep 2.0

June 26, 2006

Bumptop 3D Desktop Prototype

Filed under: Geek — harshdeep @ 6:21 am

An ultracool 3D desktop prototype inspired from physical desks.

It's the work of Anand Agarwal, an MSc student in the University of Toronto


June 18, 2006

A book of cartoons

Filed under: Cartoons — harshdeep @ 8:03 am

A book of cartoons by an Indian author is both rare and uninviting. It’s because the standard of Indian cartoons has been abysmally degraded by silly strips like Hum Tum that just stole jokes from forwarded emails.

The most famous Indian cartoonist is probably Mr. RK Laxman who has been running a cartoon strip for more than 50 years. But all he ever talks about is corrupt politicians and poor common man – it’s too repetitive.

Yesterday when I picked up a cartoon book by one Rajneesh Kapoor from the order counter in Barista, it was just out of curiosity – I wasn’t expecting anything. But this guy is surprisingly good! His jokes are fresh and he is in touch with the times. We ended up finishing the entire book over coffee and bought another volume of the series.

He’s definitely not in the league of, say, Scott Adams yet, but his strip asserts that the quality of cartoons in India is getting better.

He runs a daily strip, This is Our Life.

June 16, 2006

WidSets – Fancy RSS Reader for mobile phones

Filed under: Mobile — harshdeep @ 3:47 pm

When I first read about WidSets (Widget Sets),  I was expecting something like Yahoo Widgets for mobile phones. But “widgets” in WidSets (Widget Sets) are limited to RSS feeds that are displayed in a nifty way. Apart from tweaking the look of the feeds and their placement, you can’t really do much with them.

Even the RSS capability is very limited right now. When you click on a story from your phone, it shows first few characters and there’s no way to read the entire text if it’s longer than that limit. No embedded pictures are displayed either. But then, the service is in Beta right now – maybe this will change.

You select which widgets you want and how they should be placed relative to each other on your desktop browser. This is how my configuration screen looks –

This arrangement then gets reflected on the phone. This is how it looks on my Nokia 6630 (Viewing in WidSets client, available for free download) –

Did I mention that you can create your own widgets? It’s pretty straightforward – just enter the feed URL and optionally, tinker a bit with the look of the widget. I created a widget "Harshdeep 2.0" that links to the feed of this blog. This is how it looks on the phone

You can publish your widget on WidSets so that anyone can use it.

I think WidSets should be spending time on filling the gaps in the RSS functionalilty of widgets by, for example, displaying full text with images.

But it would definitely be cool to have something like Yahoo widgets for mobile phones in the not-too-long run.

Umundo: Abazab’s nemesis

Filed under: Internet, Mobile, Video — harshdeep @ 5:48 am


The similarity between Umundo and Abazab does not end with their difficult-to-spell names. Like Abazab (that I mentioned in my last post), Umundo let’s you upload videos directly from your camera phone. People can view your videos at a webpage that Umundo creates for you, or you can embed a widget on your own webpage just like Abajab. Here is my Umundo page.

MobileCrunch has a comparison between the two.

One annoying thing about Umundo is that once you’ve uploaded a video, you can’t delete it. This is a serious handicap especially when you are dealing with public sharing of personal videos.

Update: Deletion is now possible in Umundo as mentioned by the readers in the comments.

June 13, 2006

Abazab says yo!

Filed under: Internet, Video — harshdeep @ 5:53 am

This is the subject of the beta invite I just got from Abazab. I quickly created an account, shot a little video from my Nokia 6630 and uploaded it (you've to mail the clip to me@zab.bz to upload it – the address is tied to your account through your email address). It's kinda cool actually. It let me customize a widget in which others will be able to play the videos that I upload – they call it the playbox. With my limited aesthetic sense, this is how it looked after some tweaks –

Abazab widget

In case you want to see a very exciting video of my cubicle walls showing off a Geek Quiz Certificate and Best Special Effects trophy (for an amateur commercial that I didn't have anything to do with), please follow the link to my old Blogspot blog as WordPress won't let me insert the HTML clipping for abazab widget.

I think it would be very useful to have community playboxes in Abazab. For example, there could be a common playbox for everyone in my college batch – everyone can post videos, they are all there in the same playbox and anyone can host it on his blog. It'd be a cool way to stay in touch.

Register for Abazab beta here

June 10, 2006

Zyb – Online mobile data backup

Filed under: Internet, Mobile — harshdeep @ 9:35 pm

Zyb betaNewly offered Zyb is essentially a free online backup service for mobile phone data. It lets you save the contacts and calendar data from your phone to its web servers so that they are safe even if you lose your phone.

There are, of course, other methods for backing up mobile data. I have a Nokia 6630. I can use Nokia PC Suite to couch my mobile data in the safety of my laptop, home computer or a CD. In case I lose my phone, I can buy a new one and use the backed up data to load it with my contacts etc. But wait – I’m using Nokia PC Suite, right? If my new phone is not a Nokia, I can’t extract anything out of the backed up data – it’s a blackhole for me. Maybe I’ll find a hack to convert .nfb and .nfc files created by Nokia PC Suite to backup my data to something that can be used to update the new phone. Maybe I won’t. In any case, it will be time consuming.

Zyb sounds like a better option in this respect because it supports a wider range of mobile phones.

It synchronizes data using SyncML (Synchronization Markup Language), a platform-independent synchronization standard backed by Open Mobile Alliance. Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and Siemens AG have been making their phones compliant with SyncML for quite some time now.

Setting Zyb up on my Nokia 6630 was a breeze. They have done a commendable job at making the setting up process simple and tailormade for specific phone models – at least for 6630, I found very specific instructions.

However, synchronization wasn’t that smooth. I kept getting “Connection failed” error. Curiously, this error would come after 66 or 191 out of 271 contacts have been uploaded. Maybe it’s got something to do with the buffer size used in the transmission. I guess Zyb’s servers have been overloaded with sudden deluge of users right now.

Apart from data backup, Zyb provides some other neat features as well. For example, if your friends (who have a Zyb account) change their phone number or other details, it gets automatically updated in your Zyb database and consequently on your phone the next time you synchronize.

Zyb doesn’t provide a way to integrate with Outlook yet. They say they are going to provide it for a fee in some time. As of now, one can buy an Oulook plug-in here to do the job.

But there are security issues involved in using a service like this. Many users will hesitate uploading private information like contacts and calendar details to a remote server unless they are absolutely convinced about the security of their data. It will be vey important for Zyb to gain that kind of confidence.

Since mobile phones are quickly taking on the responsibilities of a laptop, are more prone to theft and get upgraded more frequently, mobile data backup is becoming important and Zyb seems to be a timely solution.

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