Saturday, September 27, 2008

The GNU Cake.

Today is GNU's 25th Birthday and the FSF Student Chapter (of which I am a member too) at GRIET, my college, celebrated the event with great enthusiasm.

It was a two day event where we organised technical Quiz and C Programming Competitions on 26th September, and then Seminars from Special Guests and Prize Distributions (for the previous day's Events) on 27th (Today)

But yeah, the main part was the cake Cutting at the end where all us FSF members and Staff of CSE Department ate a GNU!..... Cake :P

I and my Senior (Raam) went and ordered the Cake yesterday and out of all the 3 bakeries visited, only one guaranteed us that it would be ready before 10 AM (and its ALWAYS the last place we try :P )

It took a whole hour to get the Cake! It was this less only because I left to the Bakery on my Bike, else it would have taken way longer on a car! How far was the bakery you ask? well.. it was a whopping... 4Kms :P Well, yeah, thats the amount of traffic we have here in Hyderabad (even in one of its remote areas) The amount of Holes, and craters on the road proved a huge challenge to cross without damaging the cake.. It was like traveling through a Mine Field!

But in the End everything came home fine and all had a blast! More on that later.. now, the Star of the Show!

The GNU Cake!

Visit the Whole Gallery for our Celebration Pics.

GNU Celebrations

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

All-Nighter : Chrome Chronicles

Ever Since I saw that episode of spongebob SqurePants where he time-travels to the future and finds the whole world coloured in "Chrome" (as its the colour of "Future") , It was implanted in my head that.. Chrome infact, is the colour of future :P Even in my university's "Soft Skills" Class when they asked me what my favourite colour was (2 years ago) I replied it was "Chrome" :P Why all the chrome talk you ask? well, Just yesterday, Google released its own browser which is named, you guessed it.."Chrome" So lets find out if it really is "The future"...

What follows is a log of things I did and noticed yesterday when I spent an all night playing around with Chrome.

After a long day of playing Resistance Co-op with friends and then playing some GTA4 myself, I logged in and checked what my friends were tweeting. The whole place was abuzz with Google Chrome Talk. It was only yesterday that I realised that google was actually making a browser of its own and that too, it was going to release tomorrow itself! I am the kind of person whose pc life is more "browser dependant" than "OS dependant" , hence, as soon as I found out about Chrome, I knew that I HAVE to download it and have a look at it no matter what, and see if it will let me stay in Vista always (I mainly use linux because it works oh so nicely with me opening bazillion tabs with all kinds of MM things running) So I cancelled my plans of watching a movie (4 brothers) and waited for the download.

As soon as I downloaded the thing I started Tweeting about all the things I felt about it, now that thing proved pretty useful, as all along this post I will refer to one of those and expand on what I was saying :D

Remember that I will only be posting about how things that I frequently use, work in Chrome. And yes,I do understand that this is a beta. To know how Chrome is Completely different and awesome.. Check out the Chrome Comic here

It Begins!

First Impressions

After installing chrome, right before clicking the icon, I was wondering if the browser would have an awesome splash screen like "Picasa" has.. but then again, the browser is made to load fast, so a Splash screen would prove the opposite :P I.E. no Flash Splash screen. Then I saw that opening and Closing Tabs, had Slick animations, which were just as good as the way the splash screen in picasa appears. Its so nice that it makes you want to open and close tabs again and again. It smoothly animates also when you move tabs from one place to another, which is also a welcomed addition.

First Things First.

The First thing I tried after starting chrome was to see if the address bar is as useful as FFs. In FF (even in FF2) I always type my destinations as words and the address bar does a "I'm feeling lucky" whenever there is an exact match or takes me to the google search result if there is none. For Instance, If I type "Four brothers IMDB" in FF's address bar, it directly takes me to the imdb page for the movie, it removes an extra click from the burden and is very useful in many other ways too. This works by default in any fresh FF2/3 install.

So what About Chrome?

Well, in Chrome.. eventhough its by google, the address bar is not as intuitive as FFs, when I type that in, it takes me to the google search result page rather than doing a "I'm feeling lucky" . So thats one disappointment right there :(

The Start Page

Now you might be wondering how I didnt notice this before doing the address bar thing, well.. the thing is that , I like that address bar feature that my basic instincts didnt allow me to notice anything else :P So yeah, what about it? How does the start page look? Well, its pretty good :D It looks a bit like Opera's but is somewhat different.

Instead of allowing you to manually assign what is to be shown in those boxes at the start page (like in Opera) it automatically puts small snaps of your "most visited websites" which is pretty nifty, but I always prefer a keypress over a click. (look at bookmarks impressions below to know more). Not of much use to me, other than to have a good looking start page :P In the Same page you have a list of recently bookmarked pages and recently Closed tabs, which I feel will prove useful to many.

Bookmark Woes

Bookmarks are something that I see as very near and dead to me, however, I am ok with the fact that there is no default syncing option available. There was Google browser sync back in the FF2 days, I was thinking they will have that in this, but , No, they dont have it here.

A Very important feature that I use for my bookmarks is the "keywording" feature where in I just put a single letter keyword for my most visited/important bookmarks and use them to visit those pages. For example, I just put the keyword "p" for my Gamespot posting History page and whenever I feel like seeing if there is a new post in any of the topics I have posted I "CTRL+T -> P -> Enter" and the page loads. It gets the work done, quick and easy :D

So what about Chrome?

I right clicked a bookmark and then edited it.. to my surprise , only "Name" , "Address" and "Where to Store" options were available. I was disappointed as it was one of my most frequently used features from FF. However, I saw that , my imported bookmarks with the "P" keyword was infact, working in Chrome.. How did that happen? I dont know.. maybe there is a possibility to give keywords somewhere hidden, if that is to be true, one thing is for sure, it isnt accessibly placed :|

BookMark Management

I dont know how many of you spend time organising the way your bookmarks are placed, in which order and down to the separators that separately different types of bookmarks, but I sure do that. I also try to get related things in a single folder , as much as possible. There is a easy option in FF/IE where y0u can manage bookmarks (it opens up a window and lets you manage things just like any file manager/explorer does)

So what about Chrome?

Its not that I am only mentioning those things which are absent in Chrome, but these are the things I use very much, and once again, I was surprised that this simple feature was absent from Chrome. Only way now is to drag and drop things here and there, which can get really tedious if you have 60+ things to move around in. I Hope this feature gets added later on.

Tabs and Performance

The Most demanding feature of any browser is its performance quotient. There are many factors which decide the overall performance quotient, i.e even the OS. I dont want to go all Benchmarky, the basic thing I need is, I want it to work with no performance drop or delays in tab changes when atleast 10 MM Intensive pages are open.
I wonder... what all these add up to... seems to be pretty hi... on TwitPic
FF On Vista gives me a LOT of problems with mem fragmentation and leakage. And many times, when I load many tabs, Embedded videos get this strange problem (only on Windows, not on Linux) where they play only for 3 secs and there is no Audio. The performace stays the same if you close all the open tabs , only choice left is to restart the browser, which is a very big pain.

What about Chrome?

Well, after reading all about how awesomely the google labs people had made the memory management and stuff for the browser, I felt like directly giving it the ultimate test of opening "All bookmarks" now we are talking about more than 60 tabs here.

I was totally surprised to see that the pages did load and all tabs were open.. the SYSTEM didn't slow down, like it doesn't when using FF but the browser sure did. The main problem was that there were many pages which had embedded videos in them. Because of which I got many errors asking me to disable the "Flash" and "DivX player" Plugins.

This was a very nifty feature as I didnt have to restart the browser. Also.. when all these tabs opened, after a long gap of no response, a small window opened asking me if I wanted to close those tabs that were not responding. This was the first time I got to see the famed, "task manager" in action. It feel like it the best thing to happen to browsers since .... tabs? One can manually popup the task manager whenever they want and use it just like the task manager in any Windows OS. but for Tabs ofcourse :P

Accessing multiple tabs will prove to be a burden here :( no ... on TwitPic

One thing I found very disappointing was the fact that there was NO way to understand which tab was which when you have many tabs open so as to not make the favicon visible (which happens to me many times when reading Feeds after a huge gap) in FF you have a DropDown menu that shows you a list of all the tabs open so that you can atleat select and pick the one you want to watch. you can hover over a tab and know its Title but thats is not as good an alternative for the drop down menu.

On a Side Note.. some nerd Stats :P

29 tabs = No Favicon Display
60/61 Tabs = No way to hover over new tabs.. only CTRL+Tab

How did I close all those Tabs?

I was wondering how I would close all those tabs, I didnt want to restart the browser as I was testing how long I can make it work without crashing. after a bit of looking around, I found that right clicking on any tab gives you two nice options "Close other Tabs" and "Close Tabs to the Right". I used the latter option and it did the job.

The best thing was that the performance returned to being good after closing the many tabs (unlike in FF where restarting the browser is the only option)

Now the Small Stuff
(click heading for tweet)

All those "no Image Found" and other page errors, have nice icons with personified versions of folders, processes etc etc, which is a neat touch and makes the experience better

It would have been better if the CTRl+Tab feature of Chrome would be like it is in Opera where it works more like the OSes Alt Tab Feature (i.e you get to choose to which tab you want to change by keep pressing "tab" Button)

In FF when you do a "View image" It opens the image in the same tab, leaving you with two options, to either copy the location and paste it, or drag and drop the image in an empty tab space. But In this you have the nice feature to directly right click an image and open it In a new tab :D

The Browser has the same shortcuts found in ther major browsers, which is obviously a good thing.

Ctrl+Tab -> Change Tab
Ctrl+T -> New Tab
Ctrl+W -> Close Tab
Ctrl+Shft+T -> Re-open previously Closed Tab
Ctrl+J -> Open Download Manager

And many more..

At first sight I thought that it has a hidden Menu bar like in IE7 but pressing Alt didn't bring it up.. i.e it has No menu bar! was surprised by seeing that. you have two buttons beside the address bar which have the Basic functions.

There is NO Title bar either, and there is no status bar.. I was wondering how I would know where to a link is linking wihtout visiting it.. But once you hover over a link it pops up a small bar at the bottom left showing the address in the link. Which is quite good :D its of fixed size though, sometimes doesnt display the whole linke (cutting the end)

My whole day revolves around reading and checking many RSS feeds, and I was expecting the browser would have something in the lines of opera with its own Feed Reader, but it doesn't and neither does it have any addon support till now.. so thats a very big nono for the browser.

New Tabs in Chrome Open just like in IE i.e right beside the one from where you opened the new tab (unlike in FF where it opens always at the last)

But one thing it lacked was that, reopening a closed tab, places the tab at the end, instead of in the same place where it was when it was closed (it happens in FF)

Chrome Shows, that its not only the guys at Apple that are great making things look good and feel good, everything in Chrome feels good and neat, The animations for things like "Download started" and other things are really good to look at too.

I did the Acid test that many talk about.. for the browser, and it Chrome was able to create a perfect recreation of the face, just like FF3, unlike IE7, which is waay off from the reference picture.

One would expect a plethora of options for modifications in Chrome, as it is an open source program, but to my surprise the thing had less options than any browser seen, it lacks very much in this department. Hope it improves in the next versions!

When you search in a webpage, for some reason the search is not jumping to the location of a match if it is in the Text area of a WYSIWYG editor, which is a real pain if you are trying to manually insert HTML Codes in a blog.

Finally, What do Me thinks?

Well, The broswer with its "No title bar", "Good performance", "Great on Slow System"-ness and the very "Closed" options.. feels very perfect for computers where people will just do a little bit of working and then leave. I.E perfect for places like Cyber Cafes and Schools, where the systems are usually of very low config (something FF would kill in minutes) and places where you wouldnt want to make it look like some home computer

I however dont see myself using this as my primary browser anywhere in the near future. I have many addons in FF which completely define my daily life, and I dont see even one of those being implemented here. neither do I see anything like "Addon Support" for the browser..

I Might use it everynow and then to see if there are some developements, and to log into my other accounts for same portals (different blog Ids, different Gmail Ids, etc etc)

All in All, the browser is a great breakthrough in how it works and deals with things, but in terms of functinality lacks a lot of things, but this being still beta, I hope has all those things soon so that it makes more people use it.