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Wine Is Good For Linux

Wine for Linux seems to be maturing into a fine piece of software. I’m running Wine 1.7 on Fedora Linux 19 LXDE Spin (64-Bit, Linux Kernel version 3.10.10-200) on my Toshiba Laptop, and am comfortably using the following free and excellent Windows applications under Wine.

All of them have worked flawlessly for me, so far. Good job, Wine developers !

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Kchibo KK-8108T Portable AM / FM Radio Receiver:

Cheap, and sounds like it.

I purchased the Kchibo KK-8108T AM / FM Portable Radio from eBay for about Rs. 660 (less than 12 USD). Here’s a quick review.

Technical Specifications
Model: KK-8108T
Unit Size: 165 (W) x 78 (H) x 35 (D) mm
Uses 2 Standard AA batteries.
LED Tuning Indicator
Telescopic Antenna (~ Max. Length: 650 mm)
Socket For Adaptor (3V DC)
Standard 3.5 mm Earphones Socket
Power Source: DC 3V (150mA) (2 x 1.5V AA Cells / External Adaptor)
Single Loudspeaker
Standard 3.5 mm Earphones Jack
Weight: 420 gm (Approx.)
Analog Tuner
Frequency Bands:
TV1: 56 – 108 MHz
TV2: 174 – 223 MHz
MW: 526 – 1605 KHz
SW1: 5.5 – 6.4 MHz
SW2: 6.8 – 7.8 MHz
SW3: 9.0-10.0 MHz
SW4:11.6-12.05 MHz
SW5:13.5-13.9 MHz
SW6:15.1-15.6 MHz
SW7:17.5-17.9 MHz

Good

  • Cheap
  • Runs On Standard AA Cells
  • Has Socket For DC Adaptor (3V)
  • Wide Range Of Frequencies
  • Has Tuning Indicator LED
  • Reasonably Loud For A Radio Its Size

Bad

  • No 3V DC Power Adaptor Supplied
  • No Earphones Supplied
  • Poor Build Quality
  • Poor Sensitivity / Poor Reception
  • Terribly Inaccurate Tuning Frequency Indicator

Overall Recommendation: Avoid buying the Kchibo KK-8108T AM / FM Radio unless you need something cheap to rip apart and use in your own Electronics project !

So why did I buy this ? Had way too much time on my hands, and wanted to check the Shortwave reception capabilities of cheap handheld radios.

Kchibo 8108T AM / FM Radio Receiver

Kchibo 8108T AM / FM Radio

Any guesses which FM Frequency Band this radio was tuned to when I took this picture ? 107 MHz ? 106.something MHz ? Wrong. 104.8 MHz !

Kchibo 8108T

Kchibo 8108T AM / FM Radio Receiver Tuned To 104.8 FM !

The Tuning Frequency Indicator is just completely useless. The tuning needle was around the 107 MHz (FM) mark when the radio was actually tuned to 104.8 MHz !

FM Reception was average at best. The AM reception however, is quite disappointing. Offering a wide range of frequencies doesn’t really count if the receiver is not sensitive enough to pick up the signals. The single speaker was loud enough to fill up a small room.

Build quality is quite bad. The battery compartment cover doesn’t fit securely enough. The antenna is a little loose, and is likely to shift under its own weight, unless it’s kept perfectly straight, and perfectly still. There is a single red LED that serves as an indicator of signal strength, and it mostly does what it’s supposed to do.

Conclusion: This is radio is not really up to the mark, even for a cheap receiver. AM (especially Shortwave) reception on this piece is terrible. FM reception is just about average, but a lot of mobile phones have much better (digital) FM radios built-in these days anyway. The poor build quality and inaccurate Tuning Frequency indicator make it really difficult to recommend this radio receiver, even at that low price.

I released the first official version of Infant today. Infant is a free, ready-to-use, easy-to-configure, extensible Information Retrieval (IR) system – and a powerful multi-threaded web-crawler, written entirely in Java. Visit http://www.infant-ir.info/ for more information about Infant 1.2012.

 

   “What do you mean by ‘prepone is not a word‘ ? Of course it’s a word, how can it not be a word ? I’ve used it all my life !”, said Dad. Only a few seconds earlier, he had used the word ‘prepone’ while talking to me, thereby prompting the purist in me to tell him that ‘prepone’ is not a valid word in the English language. I was, of course, referring to the fact the word ‘prepone’ is not listed (not yet, at least) in any British-English dictionary or thesaurus that I personally regard as authoritative – Cambridge, and Chambers, in particular.

   When I was much younger, Dad had himself advised me to adopt British English, and not American English, as Indians are expected to follow British English; India is a commonwealth nation after all. I preferred British English over American English myself (still do), simply because English, the language, originated in, well, England. That, in my mind, made British English original and pure, and American English an unnecessary perversion. Back then, we (Indians) we aware of just two major flavours of English – British, and American.

I will not use 'prepone' in class.

   Things have changed. We now have our very own perversion of the English Language, and it’s called ‘Indian English’. Seriously. And, according to the Oxford English dictionary, ‘prepone‘ is a perfectly valid word in ‘Indian English’. Cambridge and Chambers do not list ‘prepone’ as a legitimate word, as of October 28, 2012. So technically, I was right. ‘Prepone’ wasn’t a real word in British English. Most people in this part of the world, use ‘prepone’ as an antonym of postpone, blissfully unaware that it is not really a valid word in British English. And yet, I feel awkward each time I educate someone about the non-existence of ‘prepone’ in British English. Languages evolve. They do, they must. And I believe that British English should accept and recognize ‘prepone’ as a real word. After all, there might just be a rather strong case favouring the inclusion of ‘prepone’ in mainstream British English…

   The etymology of the word ‘postpone’ has its roots in Latin. The English word ‘postpone‘ originated around the year 1500 A.D., stemming from the Latin word ‘postponere‘, which itself was formed by combining ‘post’ (meaning ‘after’) and ‘ponere’ (meaning ‘posit’, or ‘put’). Well, well… In much the same vein, ‘preponere‘ too should’ve been added to Latin. But that did not happen, and we don’t know why. (Maybe they never preponed anything back then, and did not even think about coming up with a single word to represent the act of rescheduling something to an earlier time…) Yet, the fact that ‘preponere‘ is not a real word in Latin, doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t include ‘prepone’ in mainstream British English. ‘Prepone’ should’ve been added to the English language as a legitimate word, soon after the inclusion of ‘postpone’ ! Really, ‘pre’ is just as good a prefix, as ‘post’.

   Better late, than never. British English currently does not have a single, convenient word to represent the act of rescheduling something to an earlier date or time. I vote for the official inclusion of the word ‘prepone’ in mainstream British English. Its meaning is intuitive enough, it bears an etymological resemblance to ‘postpone’, and it is already being used widely in India.

prepone (verb) – to reschedule something to an earlier date or time
preponed (verb), preponing (verb), preponement (noun)
I am preponing my business trip to the first week of December, so I can be back in time to bring in the new year with my family.

Cambridge, Chambers… Are you listening ?

Thought Of The Day

This too, shall pass.

Researchers at the University of Michigan are working on a way to improve battery life in Smart Phones. They call it Energy-Minimizing Idle Listening or E-MiLi. Here’s a excerpt from an online Press Release about E-MiLi…

Even when smartphones are in power-saving modes and not actively sending or receiving messages, they are still on alert for incoming information and they’re searching for a clear communication channel. The researchers have found that this kind of energy-taxing “idle listening” is occurring during a large portion of the time phones spend in power-saving mode—as much as 80 percent on busy networks. Their new approach could make smartphones perform this idle listening more efficiently. It’s called E-MiLi, which stands for Energy-Minimizing Idle Listening.

Here’s how E-MiLi works: It slows down the WiFi card’s clock by up to 1/16 its normal frequency, but jolts it back to full speed when the phone notices information coming in. It’s well known that you can slow a device’s clock to save energy. The hard part, Shin said, was getting the phone to recognize an incoming message while it was in this slower mode.

“We came up with a clever idea,” Shin said. “Usually, messages come with a header, and we thought the phone could be enabled to detect this, as you can recognize that someone is calling your name even if you’re 90 percent asleep.”

In addition to new processor-slowing software on smartphones, E-MiLi requires new firmware for phones and computers that would be sending messages. They need the ability to encode the message header—the recipient’s address—in a new and detectable way. The researchers have created such firmware, but in order for E-MiLi use to become widespread, WiFi chipset manufacturers would have to adopt these firmware modifications and then companies that make smartphones and computers would have to incorporate the new chips into their products.

[ Read the full Press Release here. ]

Sounds cute, but I have serious doubts about this.

Extending battery life of a mobile handset using this approach alone, is not likely to provide a 50% improvement as claimed. This “50% improvement” seems more like a theoretical blanket statement, which can only be true if test devices are not used for anything except sending and receiving a modest number of messages. By definition, a smart phone does a lot more. I own a Samsung Wave S8500 running Bada OS, and every weekday, I use my phone for talking to friends / colleagues, exchanging text messages, listening to music (a lot), and browsing the web on WiFi / 3G (mostly WiFi). Do note that these are just the most commonly used functions of my phone, I’m not even talking about taking pictures with the phone’s camera or playing games. We need numbers to crunch here, some data to analyze. By tracking usage patterns of a few hundred randomly selected users of smart phones, we need to figure out roughly how much time an average user spends doing things other than passively waiting for a message to arrive !

Here’s an enumeration of factors that very, very, very significantly impact battery life. In no particular order…

  • Actual Time Spent Talking !! Do note that for all handsets – smart or not-so-smart – Talktime is measured in hours (6-8 hours on an average), whereas Standby time is measured in days (18-24 days, on an average) ! Since this research is all about conserving power in “idle” mode, I’m sure this “50% improvement” doesn’t consider a single minute of talktime. Boo. Obviously, power consumption in “idle” mode isn’t really as scary as these guys make it out to be ! 18 days is a lot. A 50% improvement there would get me a standby time of 27 days. But I’d still have to charge my phone everyday, since I actually use my phone… Battery life on smart phones is an issue, battery life on idle smart phones is not. This technology cannot make me use less power when I’m actually using my phone to talk.
  • Bluetooth Radio On / Off – Huge hit ! Keep it switched off when you don’t need it. Power saving applications that automatically switch off the Bluetooth radio when it’s not in use, are already available for Android, Blackberry and iOS.
  • WiFi Radio On / Off – Once again, a huge hit ! Switch off WiFi when you don’t need it ! Power saving applications that automatically switch off the WiFi radio when it’s not in use, are already available for Android, Blackberry and iOS. E-MiLi could potentially help you here, but these Software Apps will most certainly make your battery charge last much longer ! Besides, why go through all the trouble of modifying the firmware of the sender’s phone or computer, when a much better, sender-independent, easily installable software-based solution already exists ?
  • 3G Radio On / Off
  • GPS / Location Based Services
  • Display Size (Larger displays use more power.)
  • Display Brightness (Brighter displays use more power.)
  • E-Mail Polling / Fetch Intervals (More frequent poll / fetch operations use more power.)
  • CPU Load And Overall Time Spent Messaging, Playing Games, Using Applications etc. (This is when your screen size and brightness really start hitting your phone’s battery, in addition to the CPU’s own power consumption.)

Given these issues, E-MiLi cannot really extend my Cellular Phone’s battery life in day-to-day use.

Those were the technical reasons, here are practical ones why E-MiLi might not be a viable option for extending the battery life of mobile handsets…

  • For this technology to work, the sender’s handset would need a modified chip / firmware. Sender’s handset ??!! That’s just silly. Unless the entire world simultaneously switches over to this technology, nobody can start using it. I can buy such a power-friendly handset for myself, but how do I ensure that everyone I know has a similar device ? If I put my handset to this reduced-idle-frequency sleep mode, and somebody sends me a message from a regular handset or computer, I would simply not receive it. Users wouldn’t be too thrilled at the prospect of missing messages completely, even if that allows them to extend their battery life by 500%…
  • The miniscule real-world power saving that this technology offers might not be significant enough to entice device manufactures to incorporate this technology into all their handsets / WiFi chipsets. After all, a very significant percentage of mobile phone users do not use smart phones, and battery life often isn’t an issue for them. These guys have already applied for patents… Why would handset manufacturers invest in this technology and build it into all their handsets, when it’s only likely to improve battery life by about 6%, for less than 35% of all users ?

Lastly, one other thing that caught my attention, was this line…

“This idle listening often consumes as much power as actively sending and receiving messages all day.”

That’s simply not true. Those are the words of a marketing professional, not a scientist. Then again, if they can hire lawyers to file for patents, I’m sure they can hire marketing professionals as well !

In all honesty, I’d be very surprised if this technology ever gets commercialized.

I laughed my donkey off when I first read this !

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, … nor his ass, …

Exodus 20:17, The Bible (American Standard Version)

That’s an excerpt from The Ten Commandments of Christianity. Who would’ve thought a divine decree could be so insanely funny ?!

I don’t mean to offend anyone through this post; it’s written in good humour.