Archive

Author Archive

Sony Ericsson launches the Xperia X10, X10 Mini and Mini Pro Android phones in India

Xperia X10 – The complete package

The Xperia X10 is the signature handset in a family of phones to deliver a consistent user experience where communication truly becomes entertainment. Powered by a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, it has a large 4-inch screen, 8-megapixel camera and 1GB of onboard storage.

Its new UX platform and applications like Mediascape and Timescape, let consumers organize everything in their phone in an intuitive way.

While the Sony Ericsson Timescape brings all communication together in one place so users can see at a glance text messages, missed calls, and Facebook and Twitter updates, Mediascape is the smart way to get all the music, photos and videos you want from your favourite friends and artists. It accesses content from everywhere – your phone, YouTube, PlayNow – and presents everything for you.

If you are the one who loves photos, then Xperia X10’s intelligent face recognition is dedicated to you! With the capacity to recognize up to five faces in any picture, you can automatically connect photos of your loved ones with your social phonebook and all other related communications with that person.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 is set to retail at Rs. 35,795.

Great things come in ‘mini’ packages – X10 Mini and X10 Mini Pro

The Xperia X10 Mini and X10 Mini Pro with slide out QWERTY keyboard and 2.55-inch touchscreens, are compact versions of Xperia X10, and based on the human curvature design philosophy. The two sister mobile phones incorporate Timescape to manage all communication with one person in one place without having to open lots of different applications.

To get groovy with your favourite music, let the “infinite button” on the interactive music player pull together all music content from the music store and YouTube! It’s also a smart way to search for new tracks from a favourite artis

Categories: Sony

Google TV

New York Times reports that Google has partnered with Intel and Sony to create a TV platform powered by Android.

“Google and Intel have teamed with Sony to develop a platform called Google TV to bring the Web into the living room through a new generation of televisions and set-top boxes. (…) The partners envision technology that will make it as easy for TV users to navigate Web applications, like the Twitter social network and the Picasa photo site, as it is to change the channel. Google intends to open the Google TV platform, which is based on its Android operating system for cellphones, to software developers in the hopes of spurring the same creativity that the consumers have seen in phone apps.”

The idea is not new, as many other companies tried to bring the Web to the TV. YouTube already has a version for large screens, Google already sells TV advertisingand there are many Google apps that could improve the TV experience. New York Times says that Google’s software will include a new interface for YouTube, a browser and other Android apps that will extend the functionality.

“Google has built a prototype set-top box, but the technology may be incorporated directly into TVs or other devices, like Blu-ray players. (…) A person with knowledge of the Google TV project said that the set-top box technology was sufficiently advanced that Google had begun testing it with Dish Network, one of Google’s longstanding partners in the TV Ads program.”

After the revelations of the New York Times on the project of a Google TV that would work together on Google, Intel, Logitech and Sony, we learn that the first model could be unveiled shortly.

The Wall Street Journal says that Google will unveil its software platform to developers at its annual conference I / O which will be held on 19 and 20 May. It could be presented on a Sony TV that is committed with the U.S. firm in this project.

Samsung and Apple concerned

Bloomberg says that this OS is an adaptation of Android, bears the name “Dragonpoint. We will find not only in television but also “set-top boxes and Blu-ray. Intel will take care of the hardware and provide an Atom processor, while Logitech is working on a remote control adapted to the system.

But Sony is not the only one interested in the Google platform. An article in the Korea Herald , Samsung follows the project closely and consider its “feasibility”. There are rumors that Apple might also enter the game on a segment that some see as a future growth market.

Categories: Uncategorized

Control Your Desktop PC with a Remote Using LIRC

Control Your Desktop PC with a Remote Using LIRC

Walking to your computer to change a song or to skip to the next PowerPoint slide isn’t ideal. Instead, use LIRC to control any application on your Linux or Windows PC with any infrared remote.

We’ve covered controlling your XBMC with a variety of apps and remote controls, but if you already have a universal remote and you want to control more than just XBMC center you’ll need to do some customization—this is where LIRC comes in. LIRC is a set of tools that will enable nearly any infrared remote control to communicate with your PC. Not only does it have built-in support for media programs like XBMC, but you can configure it to do almost anything in a given program—switch tracks in Amarok, give a presentation with OpenOffice, or watch a video in MPlayer without having to get near your mouse and keyboard.

LIRC was originally for Linux, though a Windows port is available (known as WinLIRC). This particular how-to will be for Linux, but where appropriate I will note the differences between the Windows version and the Linux version so Windows users can follow along—all my field testing is with the Linux version, so Windows users trying out WinLIRC should post their results and tips in the comments below.

If you’re setting up LIRC on Linux, be forewarned: there is a lot of command line work involved. Most Linux users will be pretty familiar with this, but I will say it’s the most command line and configuration file editing work I’ve done for one particular project, so prepare yourself.

Control Your Desktop PC with a Remote Using LIRC

Get Your Hardware Together

LIRC is extremely popular with homebrew IR receivers, but if you’re not quite the electronic DIY whiz, you have a few options. If you’re running this on Linux, the IRA-3 from Home Electronics has worked very well for me, and does not require recompiling the kernel which most receivers do. If you’re going for the Windows approach, you’re more or less stuck with homebrew receivers, since it’s usually hard to find receivers on their own for sale. Your best bet is to search eBay for serial IR receivers—in the past, I’ve actually found a few good-looking options there that will even tell you if they work with WinLIRC or not.

Note also that WinLIRC requires the IR receiver to be a serial device—USB won’t work, whether direct or with an adapter; you’ll either need a free serial port on your computer or use a built-in compatible IR receiver such as the one on Hauppauge TV tuner cards (you could do this on Linux, too, but you’d have to recompile the kernel, which is unnecessary if you go with the aforementioned IRA-3).

As far as remotes go, pretty much any infrared remote should work fine. I use, for my TV, media center, and other related devices, the One For All urc6131n, which is a fantastic remote that is dirt cheap. If you don’t already have a remote to control your devices, this is a simple yet awesome one to look at.

Installing LIRC and Checking Your Connections

LIRC (version 0.8.6 at the time of this writing) should be in the Ubuntu repository, so assuming you’re using Ubuntu you can just install lircd from Synaptic (otherwise, you’ll have to download and install lircd manually from their web site). In addition, if you’re using an Irman device (such as the IRA-3 suggested above), you need to install libirman-dev as well. On Windows, just download the zip file and extract it somewhere.

Control Your Desktop PC with a Remote Using LIRC

First, you’ll need to figure out in which port your device is plugged—the first serial port on a Linux PC being /dev/ttyS0, the second being /dev/ttys1, and so on. To check if it’s plugged into the right port and if it’s communicating with your remote, open up Terminal and type: cat /dev/ttyS0, replacing ttyS0 with the serial port you’re hooked into. You should see the red light on the device light up, and if you’re lucky, pressing some buttons on your remote should cause the terminal to barf up some nonsense, as seen below.

Control Your Desktop PC with a Remote Using LIRC

On my remote, only one or two buttons actually caused this, so if it doesn’t work by just mashing buttons, don’t fret—carefully go through and press every button on your remote. It’s likely one of them will cause a whole string of gibberish to fill up your terminal window, and that’s what we’re looking for—it means you’ve defined the correct port and that everything is communicating properly.

Now you need to get your hardware.conf and lircd.conf set up. You’ll need root privileges to do this, so type sudo gedit /etc/lirc/hardware.conf in Terminal to edit the it). A hardware.conf for an Irman device hooked up to /dev/ttyS0 should look something like this:

REMOTE="Irman / UIR"
REMOTE_MODULES-""
REMOTE_DRIVER="irman"
REMOTE_DEVICE="/dev/ttyS0″
REMOTE_LIRCD_CONF="/etc/lirc/lircd.conf"
REMOTE_LIRCD_ARGS=""
TRANSMITTER="None"
TRANSMITTER_MODULES=""
TRANSMITTER_DRIVER=""
TRANSMITTER_DEVICE=""
TRANSMITTER_LIRCD_CONF=""
TRANSMITTER_LIRCD_ARGS=""
START_LIRCD="true"
START_LIRCMD=""
LOAD_MODULES=""
LIRCMD_CONF=""
FORCE_NONINTERACTIVE_RECONFIGURATION="false"

Of course, you’ll need to replace the location of your device, the type of device and driver above with the attributes of your own hardware should you be using something different than I have suggested.

Control Your Desktop PC with a Remote Using LIRC

For Windows users, the configuration will all be done within the GUI for WinLIRC. Launch WinLIRC and it will give you a popup telling you it failed—click OK and it’ll bring you to the main window. Choose the COM port in which it’s installed, and leave the rest of the settings as their default, as that should be okay. If you click the browse button next to the config line and choose sample.cf, which came with WinLIRC, you should be able to test if it’s working. Hit the Raw Codes button and point your remote at your receiver. If you see codes, you’re all set and you can move on.

Configure LIRC with Your Remote

Next, you’ll need to create an lircd.conf file for your remote—the most important part of the process. This is what translates the button codes on your remote into commands for your other software to interpret. There is a list of lircd.conf files on lirc’s website that correspond to different remotes, but I haven’t had good luck with these—I prefer to create my own usingirrecord (a process that is built-in to WinLIRC if you’re on Windows). I’ve just gotten much better results doing it myself; the pre-made config files always gave me errors.

You’ll likely need to run irrecord with some options that tell it what you’re using. For an Irman device hooked up to /dev/ttyS0, your terminal command to launch it would look like this:

irrecord -H irman -d /dev/ttyS0 lircd.conf

Once again, replacing irman and /dev/ttyS0 with your respective driver and port if you’re using your own hardware. After that, it’s just a matter of following the instructions. The new version of LIRC requires that you use button names from their pre-made list, which can be found here. It doesn’t particularly matter which ones you use for which buttons; it’s just a way for LIRC to turn code into English so you can help it communicate with your desired software.

Control Your Desktop PC with a Remote Using LIRC

Most buttons on your remote will have an obvious counterpart on that list, but if they don’t, you can just use one of the other names that correspond to a button you don’t have (for example, my remote has a “Guide” button for which I saw no similar name on that list, so I just used KEY_YELLOW). After you’re finished with irrecord, your lircd.conf file will be in your home folder. Copy it over to /etc/lirc with root permissions (by typing sudo cp ~/lircd.conf /etc/lirc/lircd.conf in Terminal), replacing the old lircd.conf that was there. You’ll also want to open it up and, next to “name”, replace “lirc” with the name of your remote (for my examples, I will use “urc6131n” as that is the name of my remote). Below is a picture of a typical lircd.conf file.

Control Your Desktop PC with a Remote Using LIRC

To test if your configuration works, run irw in Terminal. It will give you the illusion of a terminal hang, but if you press buttons on your remote, it should spit the names of the buttons out at you. If it does, congratulations, you rule at UNIX.

Windows users will follow pretty much the same process. From the main WinLIRC window, hit the Learn button to start up WinLIRC’s built-in version of irrecord. Just follow the directions; it should be the same as above with the exception of the first two steps (give it an error margin of 25 and just leave the custom gap length blank) and the fact that you can use whatever names you want for the buttons, you don’t have to use LIRC’s new naming system (so you can just type “Fastforward” for the power button if you prefer). When you’ve gone through all the buttons, just leave the input box blank and hit enter. When you’re done with everything, hit OK in the main window and it will minimize to the taskbar, awaiting input.

Getting LIRC to Communicate with the Software of Your Choice

Setting up your remote is only half of the equation—the other half is getting LIRC to communicate with the software you want to control. Some software (such as our favorite media center software, XBMC) has built-in support for LIRC with just a bit more configuration (the process for XBMC is very well described here, so I won’t go through it myself). For most programs, though, you’ll want to create a global .lircrc file, and map it to keyboard shortcuts or application commands to get it to do what you want. As an example, we’ll use Amarok, although the possibilities are pretty much endless if you put your mind to it.

Create a text file in your home directory called .lircrc and open it up in gedit. The basic format looks like this:

begin
prog = irexec
remote = urc6131n
button = KEY_PLAY
config = dbus-send --type=method_call --dest=org.kde.amarok /Player org.freedesktop.MediaPlayer.Play
end

begin
prog = irexec
remote = urc6131n
button = KEY_STOP
config = dbus-send --type=method_call --dest=org.kde.amarok /Player org.freedesktop.MediaPlayer.Stop
end

begin
prog = irexec
remote = urc6131n
button = KEY_PAUSE
config = dbus-send --type=method_call --dest=org.kde.amarok /Player org.freedesktop.MediaPlayer.Pause
end

Repeat that block for each button you want to have a function. Basically, you’re mapping your buttons to specific terminal commands that control your program—in this case, dbus-send --type=method_call --dest=org.kde.amarok /Player org.freedesktop.MediaPlayer.Pause is the terminal command for Amarok to pause music (if it’s not working for you, you may need kdelibs4c2a installed). You can make slightly more complicated commands as well (incorporating multiple buttons, delays, etc.)—more information is available here. If you choose to configure it this way, you must have irexec running in the background for your remote to work (you can either launch it in Terminal beforehand or set it up to run when your computer launches in System > Preferences > Startup Applications if you’re running Ubuntu).

Control Your Desktop PC with a Remote Using LIRC

Another way to go about this would be to use keyboard commands using irxevent instead of irexec (for controlling X applications in Linux). You’ll need to install lirc-x (available in the Ubuntu repositories as well) first, and then form your .lircrc file like this:

begin
remote = urc6131
prog = irxevent
button = KEY_PLAY
config = Key space CurrentWindow
end

In order to do keyboard combinations, you’d need more knowledge of batch scripting, but since lots of programs have local, one-key shortcuts that you can configure (as shown below in Amarok), you’re better off just assigning specific functions within the application to keys. The above example presses the spacebar in the current window when I press play on my remote—effectively telling Amarok to play if it’s my frontmost window. It’s not perfect if you want to have multiple things running at once, but it works pretty well if you’re not actively using the PC at the time (though keep in mind that you’ll have to have irxevent running for your remote to communicate with the program in question, just as you would irexec in the example above).

Control Your Desktop PC with a Remote Using LIRC

For Windows, you can use Lifehacker’s favorite keymapping utility AutoHotKey to do essentially the same thing. You can get a template for the AutoHotKey script here, editing the middle section to your liking. The script has instructions inside it, so if you’re at all familiar with AutoHotkey, programming it shouldn’t be a problem—it’s the same as mapping keyboard keys, except using the button names that you defined during the setup process. For more information on mapping keys with AutoHotKey, check out our guide to turning any action into a keyboard shortcut.


These are just a few of the ways you can use LIRC to control your favorite programs. It’s extremely open-ended, so I’ve only presented you with a few basic examples, but with a little bit of research, you can figure out how to do just about anything. For more information on LIRC and doing some more advanced things with the configuration files, as well as other software that works with LIRC, you’ll definitely want to check out LIRC’s web site anddocumentation. Windows users should definitely peruse WinLIRC’s web site as well.

For mapping a specific program, your best bet is to use the irexec method if possible, so you’ll need to either look through that program’s documentation or Google around to find terminal commands that correspond to functions within that program.

Categories: Laptops

10 ways to speed up your netbook (and increase battery life).

1) Add RAM: If you’re using just 1 GB, it’s a value for money upgrade and the benefits are dramatic, especially if your hard drive has been thrashing about. Most netbooks support atleast 2GB of RAM.

2) TinyResMeter: Monitor bandwidth, RAM, CPU, and page file usage. Very useful.

3) If you are using a netbook without nVidia or ATI graphics, disable Aero, Themes.

4) Keep your HDD from thrashing: Uninstall any bloatware that gets bundled with a fresh install. Anti-virus apps are often bloated and hamper more than help, if you need a lightweight one, Microsoft Security Essentials should do, it’s free.

5) Use ReadyBoost on Windows Vista and Windows 7 with a SD card, USB stick, or hard drive. Not only does it improve performance, it will also increase battery life as your hard drive gets thrashed around less.

6) Use lightweight apps that are suited for the netbook: oldversion.com has many free apps with tiny exe files, and you can trace the code bloat, as more and more features get added over time.

7) Use Cathy to find files, it’s a lightning fast file indexing program that can replace Windows and Google Desktop search. It’s fast because it’s not thrashing through your file system in realtime looking for a file. So only files that have been indexed last show up.

Install Linux, Problem Solved: Use an OS that’s made for netbooks, I’ve used Jolicloud and liked it very much. There’s a whole bunch of them with varying degrees of difficulty and tedium.

9) Benchmarks prove it, Opera and Google Chrome are two of the fastest browsers around, best suited for netbooks.

10) Prune the services list to reduce OS memory footprint. A guide for Windows XP, Vista, andWindows 7. Takes about 10 minutes max. Also disable any software that you don’t need at boottime by removing it from the startup tab in msconfig.

Simple tips on saving battery life:

  • Reduce display brightness
  • Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth if you are not using it.
  • Use all the power management features available in Windows, the Power Options in Control Panel lets you configure when to dim and turn off display, put the netbook to sleep. Advanced settings lets you drill down to a component level.
Categories: Laptops

Nokia Announces X2 Mobile Handset For India

Nokia’s X2 is the latest device to join the Xseries line-up and is due out before the end of June for India. It’s an all new multimedia device that weighs in at just 81g and is just 13mm in depth. For the socialnetworking fan users can have the preloaded Facebook app provide live updates right from the desktop. IM and  Nokia Messaging as well as email support are also available.

This candy bar handset that appears to be running on a new S40 UI also features –

  • 2.2-inch QVGA screen
  • Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP, USB 2.0
  • FM radio
  • 5 megapixel camera
  • Micro SD card support (up to 16GB)
  • 3.5mm handsfree socket

Although the X2 has been announced for India with no specific date though. The local price is not available either but it’s estimated to retail at €85 which works out to about Rs. 5014 before taxes and subsidies. We’ll have to wait for Nokia to send out an official release for the X2 that will reveal it’s official pricing so stay tuned.

Categories: Nokia

Nokia N8 unveiled: biggest 12-MP camera sensor, 720p HD video recording, HDMI and Symbian 3

May 1, 2010 2 comments

After the disappointing Symbian S60-based Nokia N97 and the Maemo-based N900, it’s a bit difficult to take any new Nokia flagship seriously. So when the company launches the Nokia N8, based on the new open-source Symbian^3 operating system, the great hardware on board convince us as an iPhone-killer.

So what does the phone come with? For starters, there’s a 3.5-inch AMOLED capacitive touchscreen (16 million colours, 360×640 pixels), 680MHz processor and 3D graphics accelerator, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and A-GPS, 3.5mm audio jack, VGA videocall camera, 16GB of onboard storage, microSD card slot (up to 32GB), a battery with 12 and half hours of talk-time, and pretty much everything else you can think of.

On the back of the phone, users will find a large 12-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics, autofocus, Xenon flash, geo-tagging, smile and face detection, and it can also record 720p video with the flash doubling up as LED video light. And all of the HD videos can be viewed directly on an HDTV, thanks to the HDMI connectivity the phone offers.

Nokia has already put up some sample pictures and videos taken from the new camera, and they are seriously impressive! GSMArena found out that the new sensor is about 1/1.9-inches in size diagonally, which is a lot larger than other camera-phones like the Sony-Ericsson Satio and Samsung Pixon12. That size of a sensor, the site says, is competitive with most compact digital cameras!

The N8 is expected to retail at 370 euros in Europe, which comes to approximately Rs. 22,000. We would expect the cost to be a lot more by the time it gets slapped with custom duty and taxes in India.

Last week, Eldar Murtazin of Mobile-Review.com got his hands on the N8 and did an early review where he panned the device. Nokia has now stated that the handset he was using was an unfinished piece with early software, and hence users shouldn’t pay much heed to the review.

Anyway, rather than us rambling on about the phone’s features, we would advise you go through Nokia’s 17 demo videos for the N8, which really showcase all its usage potential well. To whet your appetite, check this out:

Categories: Nokia

Nokia launches C3,C6,E5 QWERTY phones in india

April 30, 2010 1 comment

If you boared using your old nokia E-series or want to buy new E-series phone so wait for some time because Nokia launches C3,C6,E5 QWERTY phones in india.

Nokia has launched three new handsets in India with a full QWERTY keypad: the Nokia C3, the Nokia C6 and the Nokia E5. The handsets are all priced less than Rs. 15,000 and the cheapest of them is a bargain at just above Rs. 5,000.

Nokia C3

The Nokia C3 is the first device to bring a full QWERTY keyboard to the world’s most popular mobile phone platform – Series 40 – and is the first in the range to enable access to social networks directly on the homescreen. People can view, comment, update their status and share pictures to their favorite social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

The phone also comes with Ovi Mail and Ovi Chat, meaning users can set up email and chat accounts straight from the device, without the need for a PC. Other notable features are the Wi-Fi connectivity, a 2-megapixel camera, a 2.4-inch screen and support for up to an 8GB memory card.

The Nokia C3 will be available for Rs. 5,317 in a variety of appealing colors, including golden white, slate grey and hot pink.

Nokia E5

The latest addition to the Nokia E-series range, the Nokia E5 is designed for those that want to be productive in both their professional and personal lives. The Symbian-based phone follows the successful blueprint of devices such as the Nokia E72 and Nokia E63, combining high-quality business features with all of the personal networking and entertainment capabilities that a busy professional expects from a smartphone.

The Nokia E5 is perfect for managing busy schedules with a variety of productivity applications available in the Ovi Store. And with direct access to over 90% of the world’s corporate email through Mail for Exchange and IBM Lotus Notes Traveler, it’s easy to keep in contact from anywhere.

The Nokia E5 can be purchased from stores for Rs. 10,634.

Nokia C6

The Nokia C6 is a Symbian-based smartphone combining the benefits of a 3.2-inch touchscreen with a full slide-out keyboard. The large screen provides a great Internet experience, as well as offering access to Facebook feeds directly on the homescreen. A full suite of email and social networking capabilities means it is perfect for people who want to stay up to date while on the go.

The handset has an impressive feature set including a high quality 5-megapixel camera with autofocus and flash, and Ovi Maps with free walk and drive navigation. In addition, thousands of apps – from games and videos to news aggregators and Web services – are available in the Ovi Store.

The Nokia C6 will retail at Rs. 13,000.

Categories: Nokia