Friday, November 28, 2008

Media: TV Via Internet

It has been a couple of months since we asked the community members if we could put a satellite dish on the roof of the house to get some extra channels for us, particularly Russian ones. A week ago or so we got a negative answer from them with the classic explanation that no one would be responsible for the accident if the satellite gets broken and hits another balcony or person. Well, nothing we could do here. I did a small research in the market of the alternatives and realized that there are several companies that are doing quite a good job at transferring TV content via internet. With 2 megabit line it is possible to get a really decent quality picture. It costs almost as much (15 Euros) per month as Swedish cable TV provider ComHem would charges just for one Russian channel. So, I gave it a try and decided to purchase it. It is possible to purchase a digital box that would transfer the video to your TV which becomes really handy if you want to watch it on the big screen or keep you computer for other needs. The picture looks like a good DivX movie on my 24" screen, so I guess it will be pretty good on the 46" TV as well.

What we have ordered now is 1 year subscription, and a wired digital box for the TV (it is possible to get a wireless one too). It cost 328 Euros including the shipping of the digital box. Now we can already watch Russian channels on the computer and the digital box has been shipped to us. Until now I cannot complain about the quality of the service. Even during the peak times when the news is shown, it does not get any worse and I am satisfied. If you are living abroad and are interested in seeing Russian channels via Internet on the TV (2 megabit line is enough), you might consider this alternative to the satellite TV. The service is provided by a German company Kartina GMBH (not Katrina as some people, including me, read the first time).


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Games: Buying A Console for Christmas

Christmas time approaching, I was thinking about giving myself a present in a form of a game console. I discussed the question with couple of friends and these are my thoughts.

There are 3 main game consoles available these days, which are PlayStation 3, XBOX 360 and Ninetendo Wii. Even though the sales of Will sky rocked:

September 2008 figures:
Wii - 34.55 million
Xbox 360 - 22.5 million
PS3 - 16.84 million

leaving behind PS and XB, the console, on the large scale, is concerned to be one for the kids and some sports enthusiasts. If you are into strategy, action and first person shooters, you can hardly go with Wii. Someone would ask, which console would deliver better graphics? The question is -- you can hardly distinguish between them. It is not like the time when you would compare Sega with Nintendo or Spectrum with Commodore. These days you must go with additional features, exclusive games and price. As always with MS, it took a year to fix the bugs with the red rings of death (or whatever it is called) and add HDMI input, so not the console is ready for a serious buyer. PS on the other hand has a BlueRay player which is considered to be a huge plus. Again, for me, I am satisfied with the DVD quality and the way my DVD player upscales it to the 46" TV. I am not a guge movie collector, so, BlueRay is unnecessary addon for me which I would skip this time and buy a dedicated player later on. Both consoles support HDMI, 5.1 sound and are noisy. Lastly the price. when I looked roughly at the prices in Sweden, I could see that comparing the most basic editions and most advanced editions of consoles, PS is 2 times more expensive than xBox.

There are not so many exclusive games for each of the consoles. Quite often a game comes out on both and there is a PC version as well. Some of the games come out on PC only, for instance. I must admit I prefer using keyboard and mouse to the gamepads but that is just a habbit that I will learn quite fast. There are some classic games being released for both consoles, like ones from Sega Genesis, for example, or Action Packs from Microsoft or Namco with Arkanoid, Pacman, Motos and so on. Everyone has got the favorites from that time (that time meaning if you are of the same age as I).

I have found one video with graphics comparison of the same game on XB and PS. Obsiously it depends on the programmatic implementation and not only on hardware limitations and not using a full potential on one of the systems. But it can give some ideas anyways.

So, mailny based on price and no-need-for-BlueRay-player, my choice will be XBOX360 Elite.


Music: Ace of Base 2009

Ace of Base was popping out hits after hits during my high-school years. They have an album called "Happy Nation" which one of the best albums ever produced and it managed to sell 23 million copies worldwide. 2008 - they are trio now (Linn [the blond girl] left the band) and have released a remixed version of Wheel of Fortune and are promising to come up with a single and album next year. This year they are releasing 2CD+1DVD pack of their greatest hits and videos. There is some information on their website with the video of WOF2009 and 2 interviews. WOF2009 has been quite electonized to compensate for the missing vocals but I think it is a good track for clubs and I kinda like it like that. They were/are touring quite a few countries, including Russia, Lithuania and Belarus.



Thursday, November 06, 2008

Music: Per Gessle - Party Crasher

A week ago, Per Gessle has released a single "Silly Really" from his forthcoming album Party Crasher. He seems to always experiment with the sound, so this time he picked up 70's disco style, not so much of a guitar, no live drums. The album will see the daylight on November 26 in Sweden, and depending on the success in Europe and then maybe worldwide. It feels almost like a comeback to the Joyride days with the catchy melody, bubblegum and baloons. Per Gessle will most likely go on European tour with that album.

Here are the previews of the songs on YouTube.

Silly Really

Stuck Here With Me

Sing Along


Monday, October 20, 2008

PC Games: Tackmania Nations - Freeware Racing Game

A couple of years ago I received an email with an add that there is a free racing game out there available for download. It is a decent game if you consider the price (free) and you can play multiplayer which becomes a lot of fun with the crazy loops and jumps and ability to create your own tracks. Single player mode will not disappoint you either. It is fairly easy to learn as well. Take a look. It's a great time killer :).

Trackmania Nations


Monday, October 06, 2008

Cartoons: Подруга (USSR 1989)

It happened a couple of times to me that I recall a movie or a cartoon that I have seen during my childhood. Most of the times it is rather easy to find it with the help of the Internet. However one of the cartoons that I was searching for took me quite a long time. First, this cartoon was shown in cinema before the movie “Flight of the Navigator” and it was quite some time ago. Second, it did not have any dialogs so I was not sure if it was a cartoon made in USSR or it was a foreign cartoon. And finally, it had a bit weird story plot where a fish drowns in the end :) .

Just like with the most of the movies from the past, this cartoon does not look as inspiring as it did at the time when I watched it for the first time. However it did manage to won a prize at that time. See it for yourself:

info on Wikipedia (rus)


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Music: Swedish Side of Roxette

Most people know Roxette, not so many know the solos that both parts of the duo have done. I am not a big fan of their off-Roxette works either but here are 2 Swedish songs from both artists that I like the most.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Music: DJ Boyko & Sound Shocking

It was almost 2 years ago, when, being in Klaipeda in the night club Metelica I picked up a song by DJ Boyko and Sound Shocking called Глубоко (Deep). I listened to the album and that was the only song that I really liked. And after 2 years this is the song that I still listen to almost every day. This video is a club/long version of the song. However a shorter/radio version was released as well. This is hardly a live performance but it is just for the sake of listening to the song.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Technology: Microwave Inverter by Panasonic

Microwaves became almost a must have at home mostly for heating up the food or defrosting. Choosing a microwave becomes a matter of design and size and programs and not so much about the technology behind it. So when we were choosing one, I looked up for a couple of reviews and found and interesting video about Panasonic trying to enhance the technology with the Inverter. And I wondered why was not it used in every microwave in the first place because it is really how microwaves should work. Take a look.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Technology: Universal Remote Control

I could hardly imagine my life without having a single remote control in the house. You end up having TV, DVD and Stereo as the minimum setup for the room. And what comes up with it - 3 remote controls. Here, in Sweden, I have seen in the shops that there are universal remote controls for sale but I never believed they could do a good job at actually supporting most of the devices. While searching for a set of speakers and information on how to place them, I have found the solution for not only a great universal remote control but also a way to put all the devices inside the furniture and still be able for the signal from the remote control ro reach them. The device is Power Blaster that has some wires that get connected from the device to the place where the signal gets received by your device. So, there are 2 options to buy. First, if you want just the remote control. The second the the pack that includes the remote control and the Power Blaster (that makes it possible to hide your devices inside the furniture and still be able to reach it with the remote control..

The solution is for the North Americal market but I will try to find something similar in Europe (without the trippled price for the import) or I will get it shipped here.

Press Release from 2006
Remote Control Description
Amazon Page

Some of the companies went beyound that and created bigger, with the color touchscreens remote controls that include quite a few additional features and even games. However the price of such devices will popup really high. I would mention that if your mobile phone has Infra Red port, it can also be used as a remote contol with some additional software.


Monday, September 01, 2008

Freeware: PDF Toolset for Everyday Use

There used to be times when Adobe Acrobat (not reader) and Distiller were the only tools to create the PDF files, arrange them, extract pages from, convert to other type of documents and so on. I was really surprised how many people still believe that Adobe Acrobat is the only tool for that. It is the tool if you are planning a serious publishing tasks and you need to deliver a really specific PDF file tweaked for a certain typographical settings or if you need to create scripts inside PDF Files that will do some text manipulations. However if your major task is to send the documents between each other and just to make sure it prints the same way from every computer, here is a set of tools that will be able to help you with that.

To start with, both Open Office and Microsoft Office (although MS Office requires a separate free download addon) support Save As PDF.

Here is a set of freeware tools that might help you when not using Office application but for example if you want to create a PDF from your browser, notepad, development application, etc. The programs listed here have support for XP and Vista both x86 and x64 platforms. Obviously there are more tools that can do the same thing but these are of my personal preference:

1. PDF Creating Tool (via a PDF printer driver installed on the computer)
BullZip PDF Printer

2. PDF Tools (encrypting, decrypting, joining, splitting, stamping, rearranging)
Sheel PDF Tools

3. PDF to DOC Converter (converts your PDF files to Word DOC files)
PDF to Word Doc


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Music: Marie Fredriksson First #1 Hit Ever

While it has been a long time since the last news about Roxette came up, there has been some work done by both members of duo separately. Per Gessle had released an album and Marie Fredriksson has been doing some paintings and exhibitions. However recently Marie Fredriksson managed to get to the Top1 list of singles with her new work which is the soundtrack to the second part of the Swedish movie Arn. This is the first time when Marie Fredksson (as a solo artist) reaches #1 in charts. I am planning to see the movie soon so I cannot reflect on it now but here is a video for the movie:


Monday, August 25, 2008

Politics: Big Guys Fight - Small Guys Suffer

One of the most talked topics these days is the conflict between [pause] well, originally used to be Georgia and Ossetia, now it is Georgia and Russia but it is almost USA and Russia. Quite a few people asked me what is my opinion about it, since I am considered to be Russian more than anyone else. I was not much into politics before since I believe that all politicians and [joke start] lawyers are the first in the line to burn in hell [joke end] .

However I decided to express my thoughts on this topic. First, conflicts like these make me mad because, as always, these are the civilians who pay the highest price. Second, it only now proved to me that USA is really getting to dominate the world and none of the so called world organization and unions (UN, NATO, EU) are able to go against the policies of the USA. As an example to compare the current conflict with Iraq conflict. It is unbelievable how easy the whole world agreed that US should go into Iraq, like they were the only ones who were able to "liberate" the country. You are on the other opposite side of the planet, for God's sake. I am really sick of the USA policies of bringing the peace and security into the world by placing the military bases in every country and cutting off their GDP.

I never supported the violent way of solving the problem and I do not thing that either Russia or USA doing any good. My observation is the world's reaction to conflicts like that, when you can see who is winning (probably the most important) the media war, who is holding other countries under control and trying to place weapons there and who is just a little freak who is dancing around big guys earning money and letting civilians of his country suffer.

Overall, I really hope that this conflict will not grow into anything bigger and that the two giants will calm down.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Web: Old Russian Cartoons

My sister, being a big fan of the internet pointed out website page where one can watch Russian/Soviet cartoons. Some of them are really old good classics.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Freeware: Disc Defragmentation

A couple of days ago, in the news I saw a review of the company Paragon releasing a new version of the computer defragmenter and I recalled the time when I was thinking about purchasing a defragmentation tool for my computer but realized that the features that they provide are not that of the need that I require and that the standard Windows defragmentation engine would do.

Basically what most of the free tools will do is defragmenting the files and placing them to the first place possible where it fits. The commercial applications, on the other hand, will use the smart way and/or ask you if you want to place the files according to the frequency of use, how often they change or you even could select the place for the individually.

These are probably the most-talked-about defragmenting tools on the web:

Diskeeper Pro: $49.95
PerfectDisk 2008 Pro: $39.99
O&O Defrag: $49.95
Total Defrag 2009: $29.95

All four of them have the upgrade options, which means that in a year or two if you want to upgrade to a newer version, you will have to pay around 50% of the initial price for the upgrade.

It is not the question whether you should or not do the disc defragmentation (which you obviously should) but which tools to use for that. If you are not concerned about 2%-10% increase in the performance that the commercial tools will give you, I guess the free tools will do the job. These days I use a free Auslogic Disc Defrag that works on x86 and x64 systems. See CNET the video and maybe it will be worth giving it a try.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Transportation: Think Electric Cars

Today I talked with my colleague about the situation in Lithuania, electricity prices, global warming and other things. He happened to mention that Norwegians started to produce a Think car that is fully electric and gives around 200km of driving, which is excellent for the city. Obviously it is environmentally friendly. You would not pack your IKEA furniture in it but for getting to work or to the sports place is just what you need. I have been thinking about a car like this.

It is not a prototype and is being produced in Norway already. This year Denmark and Sweden will follow. The battery for the car is rented and includes a full service. It is going to cost around 25000 Euros and for 200 Euros per month, you are going to get full service, insurance and electricity.


News: Back from Holidays in LIthuania

Last weekend we came back from our 2 week holidays in Lithuania. As always the time flew really fast and we had quite a few things to do and even did not manage to meet all our friends. Together with some business, we had some relatives coming to meet us as well. So, it was pretty intensive holidays with not too much rest and we are sorry if we missed some of you this time. We managed to get to the seaside for a couple of times and see the first day of the Sea Festival in Klaipeda.

There were quite a few things waiting for us back in Stockholm. First, this Friday we will be fully moved to our new apartment. We have ordered some furniture and there are so many things to thing and consider for the new apartment.

So, I am back at work, enjoying an empty office (all of the development guys are still on holidays this week) and going through the list of bugs that I need to fix.

So many things, so little time.

N-Joy the summer.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

News: Apartment, Football,Traveling

Tomorrow (July 27th) we are getting the keys to our new apartment. Today we signed the papers in the bank and tomorrow we officially will become the owners of our new apartment. There are lots of things to do, most of which are nice and exciting.

At the same time we have planned our next trip to Klaipeda. We will come on the 13th of July and will stay there for 2 weeks until the 26th of July. So, I guess I will see some of you around. Next time we will try to coordinate the dates a bit more carefully so we would see as many people as we could. We will also try to combine/coordinate our travel plans with some of our friends from Spain, Russia, Netherlands and some others so we could meet together for a big party.

In addition today Russia plays Spain in football semifinals and that is going to be an interesting game I guess and I hope to see Russian in finals.

All for now.
Have a good weekend everybody.


Monday, June 02, 2008

Freeware: Antivirus for Personal Use

Antivirus applications were always a critical element for computer beginners and for people who might expose themselves to threads by downloading something from not so much trusted websites. Almost 10 years ago I made my first choice of choosing antivirus software. There was not so much choice at that time. Most popular ones were Norton Antivirus and McAfee. I talked to my friends (there was not so much available internet at that time to read the reviews) and Norton became my choice. And it was my choice for a very long time. It was about a year ago or so when we got a notebook for Marie and I really thought to look if there is a freeware version of the antivirus protection software for the home/personal use. I also noticed that the thing I do not like in Norton is the interface. Just like when I dropped WinAmp and started using Foobar, that says, "The quality of the sound is not skinnable," Norton provides a pretty heavy interface for the application, that loads pretty slow and has a heavy installation pack while you access it not so often and usually just see the icon in the notification area. So, "The quality of the security is not skinnable" either. Obviously, it is a matter of personal preference.

So, going back to the Antivirus software, I am currently using Avast. That was the first software that would work with Vista x64 that I have at home. After reading a review on 3dnews, I am thinking about giving a try to another antivirus software (that was actually almost hated in the computer lab during my college years for not being able to handle/scan the macros in the Word and Excel files but I think they had improved during the last years).

Anyways, if you are looking for a free antivirus solution for home, it might be a good choice. It's free for personal use, it is rather light and has a good reputation.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Movies: WALL·E by Pixar

I always liked cartoons produced by Pixar. They seem to know what they are doing. To name a few of their works, they have done Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille.

We were in the shopping center yesterday and I saw the preview of a cartoon WALL-E that will appear in the cinemas June 27 the in US and September 5 in Sweden (OMG!). I also looked at the profile of Pixar on IMDB and saw that they are announcing some more cartoons that will be released before 2011, including Toy Story 3.

Wall-E on Disney
Wall-E on Pixar


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Opinion: Sweden -- A Thing I Hate About It

Sweden is a good country in many aspects. Each and every country has its own peculiarities and Sweden is not an exception. After almost 2 years of living in Sweden, the worst thing that I have faced here is bureaucracy. There could easily 2 institutions sending you back and forth saying they need a paper from the second one before the first one can proceed. If you need to do something about documents, registrations, dealing with the mobile, cable and internet providers and any kind of paperwork first you will be in a line for half an hour, then there will be a different person than the one you talked to yesterday and you will have to tell the whole story again. And the answers from different clerks of the same institution could be insanely different. Most of the time they just do not care and are really happy to send you to another person or tell that someone is on vacation and you should come in 2 weeks. There are exceptions but you need to be lucky to get lucky. Even Lithuania was a bit better in this case.

A good image of a bureaucrat was created in the movie “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sports: Russia -- World Ice Hockey Champion

I just finished watching the final World Ice Hockey Championship game where Russia played Canada. I must admit it was a really great game where Russia losing 2:4 was able to gain control of the game and make the score even 4:4 by the end of the game and then score the final gold goal in the over time. 5:4 and Russia is a champion after a long 15 years break. Congratulations!

Pictures from the game
International Ice Hockey Federation
World Ice Hockey Championships on Wikipedia


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Music: Back to the 90's - Dr Alban VS Haddaway

Today I heard Dr Alban song on the radiostation and decided to look his webpage online and was nicely surprised by the amount of media available on his webpage. There are video clips available there and description of the discography. I know there might be some people from my school and college years who liked this artist and might be interested in checking out if they have missed something. There is also a new project by Dr Alban in collaboration with Haddaway (another great artist from the 90's) and they are preparing a new single to be prepared. Even though both artists have been releasing abums all the time, there was not so much attention on them and I had listened to their works and it didn't feel like it was something special. This time however, I really hope that this cooperation will produce something worth worldwide attention.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Русский язык: Не совсем русское слово, но…

Как то помню один знакомый человек как то сказал что слово пацан на самом деле имеет корни уходящие немного не в русский язык и имеющие довольно сомнительное значение. Пробежался я по поиску и нашел несколько страниц совпадающие с этим утверждением. Так вот, прежде чем говорить, «я на пару часов с пацанами пивка выпить», может неплохо вот эту цитату прочесть.


Все наверняка неоднократно слышали такое громкой слово как "пацан", которое должно изображать нечто нимеоверно крутое, все при понятиях и все такое... недавно я задумался, случайно услышав одно из еврейских ругательств.. оно звучало так: "ты настоящий поц". Услышано было в одном из фильмов:) Дык вот, чего-то от нечего делать перерыл инет в поисках перевода сиего перла народного искусства и нарыл презабавную статейку... зачитав ее, выяснил, что "поц" - ни что иное, как мужской детородный орган". Тут же пришло в голову явная однокоренность (хз, короче как правильно, по русскому все равно тройка в школе:) ) слов "поц" и "пацан":) еще чуток попозже выяснилось (у соседа - стопроцентного евремя, когда покурить вышли вместе), что "пацан" в вольном переводе с еврейской мовы означает ни что иное как тот же самы детородны орган, только уменьшенных размеров:))) (жаль матом высказать не получится - правила есть правила)
А теперь, внимание! Вопрос: кто тут еще есть пацан?:)))
Мне вот лично себя как-то стремно пацаном назвать:))


Science: Large Hadron Collider

I saw it on Discovery channel one day. A huge group of scientists are building a tunnel where they want to accelerate the particles up to the speed that would produce something similar to a black hole. What kind of interest do I have in that, you would ask? Well, I read quite a few sci-fi books and seen quite a few movies (just like many of us) where people travel through outer space and have cars that, I could say, flying. Well, after reading so much so much fantasies, it is kinda shame that we still use gasoline to move on 4 rubber wheels and manage pollute the environment with that. I really hope that during my life there will be radical discoveries and there is something left to discover and ... yes I would like to travel to space and see the earth from the surface of the moon or something.

Anyways, here are the links to the websites dedicated to the "Large Hadron Collider" project:
Large Hadron Collider


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Jobs: Remote Job Opportunity in Stockholm

In-between the jobs, I was working part time for one company that is an online store for the sportswear and underwear. After I got another job, and started to learn Swedish more intensively, I can hardly find any time for keeping up with this project and I would really like to find a reliable person who could take over my project there.

It can be a person from almost anywhere in Europe or Russia :) who could work part time from home (or even full-time is possible) via remote software and could get some days (maybe a weekend) to fly (the company will pay) to Stockholm for orientation and when it is necessary to be there when there is a new project coming. It is not an intense job and it is fun. You do not need to know Swedish but you do need to know English. Well, you need to be a C# .Net developer and have some sort of experience in Windows Forms (ASP .Net would be nice as well) and MS SQL Server. I would help the person with the information and help to take over the code. So if you know someone who would be interested, please let them know (or contact me). :)


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Apartment: We Bought Our First "Bostad"

Getting an apartment in Sweden is not an easy task, especially it is so in Stockholm. If you want to rent second hand, you need to pay 60 Euros for 45 days just to be able to look at what people want to rent out. Then, when you find one you like (and it is not easy either), you must schedule a meeting with the owners of that apartment to come and see it and bring the job contract and recommendations from people from whom you rented previously. Considering you are one of 15 people who came and want to rent it, it might become a really frustrating task, especially when you need the apartment asap.

Buying an apartment is a bit different story which doesn’t make it more easy. Besides the need to have a permanent job and good income, the system is much different from most of the countries. I used to see the fixed price for the apartment and then you come to a real estate agent and negotiate and try to lower the price a little. In Sweden you first come and see an apartment, and then you sign up for bidding. So, most of the time it’s one third of the price that goes on top of the starting price. If the agent is not satisfied with the final price, he can make a second round when more people will come and see the apartment and then bid as well.

After renting 4 apartments in 2 years, we decided that out economical situation is stable enough to afford buying an apartment. We chose the area just outside of Stockholm (20-30 min by subway) and started looking for what is available for sale. And today after bidding we finally got one. The price is a little bit higher than we hoped for but we like the apartment. It requires some work to be done but it is a nice location, very sunny, high sealing, well, I will take some pictures later. For now, here are the pictures that the agent used for display on the bwebsite:

ps: Bostad - is place to live; house; flat; room Swedish


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Software: Color Theme/Scheme Picker

When creating templates for the presentations, colorful headers for the documents, layouts for the brochures, quite a few people rely on the feeling of the color scheme which is basically trial and error and you know it feels right when the colors match. Obviously there is a pattern/rule/law for the matching colors. Colors can we warm or cold, bright or dark, with high or low contrast. There is an online tool that might help in picking up the matching colors for you. I think it is a pretty nice tool for the mentioned purposes. Take a look.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Technology: BigDog, the Robot

A colleague from work showed me a video on YouTube where a BigDog robot is demonstrated. I was really impressed. It's a good job people from Boston have done:


Monday, March 03, 2008

Computers: Folder as Drive

Every computer user has his/her own tweaks and special widgets that help with the everyday work. My latest discovery was about creating a virtual drive on the computer that would be mapped to the folder on the same computer. Well, for example I would like to have drive X: pointing to My Documents all the time. Not too bad right? It appearts that it has been possible to do that since DOS times (and it still works on Vista). It is achieved via running the command:


For example to map a folder C:\temp to the drive W:


SUBST w: C:\temp


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bits and Bytes: Firefox Addon

It has been a long history of download managers on the web and there are quite a few of them out there these days. Some are free, some are less free and some have built in games just to make people pay for it. I remember back in my college days downloading bigger files and splitting them into floppy discs. The internet speed was not that great but the files started to grow. At that time I did not know much of the alternatives to GetRight. It was a great tool and it did the job -- resumed downloads, autodialed modem, shut down the computer.

These days for most of the users the idea is still the same -- download a group of files and resume if something goes wrong. In the broadband times it does not happen very often but it is a nice feeling to know that those files will be downloaded safely.

Since the day the first free download managers came to the scene, I have tried quite a few of them. I believe only Opera has put something similar to the download manager into their browser but I am with Firefox these days.

So, after giving up on FlashGet (it turned out to be quite buggy on my Vista x64), and not really finding anything suitable for native 64 bit support, I have found a plugin for Firefox called DownThemAll that does almost everything that I need (except for the speed control) so if you are a firefox user, take a look, you will not be disappointed.



Saturday, January 26, 2008

Объявления: туда ни хади, сюда хади...

Пытаясь найти подходящее для нас жилье в Стокгольме, пробежался по объявлениям и собрал несколко перлов по разной тематике.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Online Shopping: Negative eBay Experience

I have been on eBay for quite some time already and it is really hard sometimes to stay away from cheap prices for products that come from sellers in Hong Kong, China and some other not that reliable places. One needs to be really careful not to purchase fake items that can even have a hologram and a package like original. 3 major problems with electronics from China that I had was a Sony Duo memory card for my phone, mp3 player and GPS receiver. The memory card that I received worked on some other devices but didn't work on my phone. I contacted the seller and he told that this is a compatibility problem and accepted the return. In this case I lost my shipping payment and I also had to pay for the shipping it back. It was a light item and it didn't cost much.

The mp3 player worked for about 4 months and then the buttons stopped responding, it would turn off from time to time. With MP3 players I can definitely say -- buy it only in the local stores. The last mp3 player that I bought was SanDisk Sansa Clip and I had to replace it with another one because the battery wasn't functioning well. There was some kind of energy leak. It would discharge after a couple of hours of use. After I changed it to a different one, the problem was solved. So, there could be problems even with the branded merchandise and that is the case when you want to make sure you can exchange it or get your money back. Generally if you buy a branded thing, you will have more esthetical feeling (you will enjoy it more), it will last and you will have warranty. How much time it will take to contact customer support and actually replace the defective widgets is another story but at least it is possible and feasible.

With GPS receiver however it is a different story. I paid a price that was much lower than in the stores but it was a non-branded GPS receiver. When I got it, it worked for a couple of weeks and then just died. I have contacted the seller (ebay name: cardmagasin, real name: Yee Yuen Pang) and he told me that I should try to replace the battery and try if it will work. I told him that I do not have this type of battery and I probably should send it back to him for replacement. And guess what -- no answer back. He disappeared and then was no longer registered on eBay. It was a non-branded so I could not go and complain to the customer service or get it fixed. It even might be dangerous since it should send the Bluetooth signals. So, my GPS receiver has to go into the recycler. Here is a picture of what not to buy on eBay:

One very obvious thing to do is to check the feedback of the seller. If there are some people saying that the sold things were not working, fake or similar, do not take the risk. Generally, do not risk buy electronics from eBay. Things like cameras, phones, mp3 players, some of the computer-related hardware should not be bought from unknown sellers from mentioned regions.
I have to mention that I bought quite a few good things on eBay. However all of them are from Europe, US and Japan: a notebook, 3 phones, router, USB Hard Drive, TV Tuner, USB Flash Drive and some others.

Just a note, if you are looking for a good memory, flash drive seller from eBay, I would recommend jjmedia_usa.


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Computers: Free Video Tutorials

While browsing the web I have found one very interesting resource that might help to get started (or learn new tricks) when usug Adobe products (Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, etc.). There are basically videos created by them and posted on YouTube. It is a great resource if you want to learn how to create fancy buttons, learn masking or discover how to use particular filters. It a nice free learning resource. Take a look.