Loading... Born a day after the American Independence in Jalandhar, Punjab, India, I've spent most part of my life there. Studied till 5th standard in St. Joseph's Convent School, Jalandhar, and later had to join Apeejay School, Jalandhar as, perhaps, the former school decided boys could be troublesome in a girls' school after 5th. After completing schooling in APJ (till 12th), joined National Institute of Technology [NITJ] (again, in Jalandhar) as a Computer Science & Engineering student in 2005. During the worst period of downtime (recession), got an on-campus placement in Accenture in 2008. Graduating from college took another year after that, and finally joined Accenture in mid-2009. This is my story so far... Btw, you can find me on: google+, twitter last.fm github librarything granular steam
@AnuragBhandari twitter updates
Tech enthusiast, open source evangelist, book worm, software developer, sports fan, passionate gamer, movie buff.
  • Libre / Open Office sucks beyond measure. Seriously, we are no longer living in 2003! A highly overrated suite! Even Google Docs is better! —
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  • Hope sabse badi tope ~ Navjot Singh Sidhu —
Jun 22

Instant MeteorLast month I got a review request from Packt Publishing for a recent book of theirs on meteor.js. About six months back, I was heavily involved in developing my first real-time web application at work (Accenture). The idea of using the meteor.js framework for building that app came from my mentor who had then recently given a presentation on it at an event. Awed by the concept of reactivity, a rich API and the power of MongoDB, I fell in love with Meteor pretty quickly. As it went, it didn’t prove difficult convincing my boss to using Meteor as the basis of a “social” TODO app we were planning to create at the time as the various virtues of this splendid framework clicked immediately.

Officially, meteor.js supports only Linux and Mac OS X as development and deployment environments, whereas Accenture is a Microsoft technologies driven company. So I had to do my research and come up with a way of deploying our meteor app on a Windows server. I blogged about the complete process of hosting meteor.js apps in IIS, and perhaps that’s how Packt Publishing found me.

Instant Meteor JavaScript Framework Starter by Gabriel Manricks is a light read that promises to get you started with a whole new paradigm of web application development instantly. The book is a whole of 76 pages long, including the usual table of contents, introduction and credits. I found that the book is written in a simple language and somewhat focuses on web development beginners, while at the same time dealing with complex and intricate topics through its mind-graphing app project. Even during my busiest days at office, I was able to read the book to completion in 6-7 days, although it may take a bit more time if readers explore Meteor simultaneously by practising themselves using the code snippets provided in the book.

Gabriel has done a good job with the introduction, and I liked the way he doesn’t ignore programmers who haven’t ever seen the black of a command-line. He keeps the overall tone simple and easy to understand. But assumes the reader has had at least some experience developing websites, which is fine as this book is not targeted at web development itself. Almost all important Meteor API functions and concepts are covered, and these make up for a natural flow in the book. Gabriel’s explanation of how Meteor implements the MVVM model makes this scarily perceived topic seem simple. The best part of the book has to be “Grapher” project, through which Gabriel has illustrated the process of creating a mind-graphing web app from planning to coding to securing the app. I personally loved the coding style used and agree with the emphasis laid out on the planning phase. Having been involved in web dev since the last 6-7 years, I even learned a few new tricks. I think anybody would be amazed on how developing such a complex app becomes so easy when using Meteor.

Topics like publish-subscribe framework and app deployment are touched toward the end of book, but I felt a couple more pages should have been dedicated to these two important topics, although what’s covered applies well to starters. In my experience, using publish-subscribe in a more complex data setting can become overwhelming and cumbersome if done wrong.

I conclude my review by congratulating the author and Packt for a crash course on Meteor, especially when there aren’t many (any?) books on Meteor available out there. Highly recommended for people wanting to get started on real-time web app development!

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Mar 22

No, it hasn’t yet been released. But thanks to Engadget, I was able to download Firefox 4 a day before its official release date. To begin with, I was quite excited for this release as Firefox had been, unfortunately, lagging behind Chrome and Opera in terms of speed in the recent times. I was looking forward to Firefox 4 for a speed boost – both surfing speed and UI loading speed. It was time for Firefox to hit back again in the highly intense browser market.

The installer download was around 12 MB, and the installation/upgrade process was essentially the same as before. I upgraded from my latest FF 3.6.15 installation without hassles. But as expected, more than half of my installed add-ons were incompatible with FF 4, and thus were auto-disabled by FF. No issues, I’ll update those add-ons as soon as new compatible versions are released.

So FF finally loaded, and “what the hell?” A major revamp of the UI. But nothing bad here. The changes were for the good. The new interface is much more Chrome-like than Firefox-like, and I liked it. The status bar has gone; the open/close tab animations are fluid; the page loading icon has changed (for the first time ever?); the go, stop and reload buttons are now one unified button; the search box has been preserved; there is this “Tab Groups” feature (quite like Quick Tabs in Internet Explorer), and probably much more which I haven’t yet explored. All-in-all, the new Firefox 4 is the best of two worlds (Chrome + Firefox), and shows how Chrome should have been. And yes, the page loading speeds were evidently better than 3.6.x. Go download it now if you cannot resist to see the changes yourself.

Firefox 4 gets a thumbs up from me. Go, rule the world again! :)

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Mar 19

Software come and go. We like some, despise some and are neutral to others. Most of the good and useful software obtain a huge following and userbase, and usually survive for a very long time until either a better software appears or the technology changes. There also are software that are based on innovative ideas, but do not get sufficient attention, due to the lack of which they perish sooner than others.

And finally, there are software that initially create waves, catch all the attention due to the wonderful concepts they are based upon, attain significant fan following, and then… disappear! In this article, I am going to talk about just these kind of software, err, that were. These are such software that I would have hoped to see flourish till, at least, a couple more years. And yes, all these softwares were free.

Microsoft Reader

MS Reader was Microsoft’s noble attempt to change the way ebooks were read. Reader offered an actual book-like interface that was easy on eyes. It had two other advantages. First, the ebooks created in Reader format (.lit) were considerably smaller in size than an equivalent PDF. Second, it introduced text-to-speech in ebook reading (it would read the book word-by-word with adjustable voice speed).

In my opinion, MS Reader was a novell software. Many popular ebooks were published in “lit” format, but as time passed, such ebooks also disappeared. Today, the most ebooks we see are in PDF format.

Continue reading »

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Dec 05

The category of small-sized Linux distributions (or mini distributions) is fast evolving. Every now and then we see a new mini distro coming out, sometimes as a light-weight edition of an already established distro and sometimes based on an innovative concept. The likes of this category involve Damn Small Linux, Yellow Dog, SliTaz, and Puppy Linux. But believe me, Puppy Linux is not yet another mini distro. It is an everything OS. Puppy comes as an installable livecd, and can be installed on a number of medium, such as hard-disk, USB pen drive, external hard-disk and more.

I happened to have my first stint with Puppy about 3-4 months ago, when I found it bundled with a local computer magazine in a companion disk; it was Puppy Linux 3. Since that very day, I knowingly or unknowingly became a hard-core fan of the distribution.

A month later, Puppy 4.0 was released and I upgraded from version 3 to version 4. As now I’ve spend considerable amount of time with this beautiful distro, I am in a state to mention some points about its goodness.

Waking up Puppy
Puppy’s boot process is a no thrills-and-frills thing. The booting is plain, but the developers have made it to look impossibly simple. We see a black screen with only relevant boot-time messages appearing, nothing more, nothing less.

The booting time is not large (about 35-40 seconds) and is almost the same when booting from hard-disk or livecd. That is a considerable improvement in the booting time of a livecd.

The interface
Once the booting has completed, Puppy logs you in as the ‘root’ user and takes you directly to the main interface. No password is by default required to login. Puppy uses JWM as the desktop environment which is extremely light-weight (occupies less space). So the interface is quite simplistic, sometimes primitive, and comes with a limited set of functionality. But there are so many other options in Puppy which will never let you feel the lack of features in JWM. Basic customizations are very easy, like changing the wallpaper, window decoration, icon theme, GTK theme, etc.

Setting up and configuring Puppy
Although Puppy detects and configures most of your hardware and other settings, there could be some areas that need to be setup by you. Say, for example, setting up an Internet connection, setting up a printer, and so on. Puppy makes it extremely easy to accomplish these common configuration tasks by providing you with a number of easy-to-follow wizards. And guess what? There is even a wizard for all other wizards by the name ‘Wizard wizard’ which serves as a central point to all configuration tasks. For installing new software, Puppy comes with its own package manager, PETget.

All-in-all, most configuration tasks in Puppy are very easy which are otherwise difficult in many other Linux distros.

Play me baby
Throw just any multimedia file at it and it will play! That’s what Puppy has to offer in this department. With the xine engine pre-installed, the multimedia application – gxine – is capable of playing just any audio or video format you have heard of (and even the ones you haven’t heard of). Although I would personally prefer a more feature-rich player than gxine, it proves a wise choice to save space. Puppy also comes with software for ripping CDs, DVDs, editing metatags and recording audio. It even has a Puppy community-made audio player Pmusic.

To complete the multimedia section, it includes Pburn – a very nice community-made software for burning CDs/DVDs and comes with sufficient options for authoring discs. Puppy even has an ISO file editor!

Internet
No Firefox! But Puppy comes with a light-weight cousin of  Firefox – Seamonkey – adored by many for its speed. And it’s not just a browser, it’s a complete suite of applications – a browser, a mail client, an address book, and a HTML editor. After you have easily setup your Internet connection, you’ll be all set to browse the web (Seamonkey), chat with friends (Ayttm), check email (Seamonkey), talk through VoIP (Psip) or download stuff (Pwget, gFTP, Pctorrent).

Fun & Work
Puppy contains many popular office utilities, like Abiword (documents), Gnumeric (spreadsheets), a pdf viewer, personal organizer (to-do, calender, contacts), scientific calculator, and even a CHM file viewer. In the fun section, there are more than a couple of games that could keep you busy for a long time.

Miscellaneous utilities
Puppy comes with some additional stuff, like a personal blogging system (PPLOG), a personal wiki system (DidiWiki), partition manager (GParted), archiver (XArchive), scanner software (XSane), firewall, torrent creator and many more such software.

Killing the Puppy
Not literally. I mean shutting down Puppy. And believe me, even if you have had enough Puppy experience, shutting it down would be just like killing a lively little being on your computer. The experience is most of the time so interactive and fun-filled (and not to mention ‘light’), you would want to switch it on again very soon. And Puppy boasts of the fastest shutdown time around. It shuts down in a mere 5 seconds or so, when most of the other well-known Linux distributions take 10-20 seconds for the same task.

Puppy also offers the feature of saving your current session to a file of desired size during shutdown or reboot for future use. The ‘current session’ includes all your custom settings (wallpaper, theme), newly installed packages etc.

Conclusion
Puppy Linux proves that even simplicity has the power to get all the things done. The basic interface may require sometime from you to get you accustomed to it, but you’ll like it afterwards.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a Linux newbie or a seasoned Linux user, you will like Puppy as much as I did. This has to be one of the best Linux distros around. And it certainly deserves more attention than it is getting right now. Puppy is a tiny atom bomb – loaded with plethora software and utilities – that you can carry in your pocket – in your pen drive, CD, etc. Puppy has so much to offer in so little a size!

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Sep 25

Simply hats off to it! A brilliant and rare combination of a thriller script, excellent performances, state-of-art direction and moral value.

Very rare will you find such movies in the Bollywood industry, where most of the movies’ stories are derived from Hollywood or the films are made keeping in mind the action and comedy loving population.

It was a relatively short movie, as compared to the normal Bollywood standards, but its every minute was full of thrill. The film was devoid of any songs, contrary to 95% Indian movies, to make sure the quality of entertainment (which we get from the thrilling and chilling moments) does not fade away.

It seemed that Naseeruddin Shah put all of his life’s experience behind his stunning performance in the film, and he admitted that in a recent interview published in a local newspaper. Anupam Kher’s was also a brilliant performance. Other notable character was that of Jimmy Shergill; his was an impressive personality.

I just hope that more of such movies are made in Bollywood and we get to see such moral imparting stories in future. Other good reason to make such films is that people would get variety!

Finally, the movie shows the world that Bollywood is also capable of making excellent movies, as is Hollywood, and does not shy in making such movies with the fear of getting lesser revenues. 10 out of 10.

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