Category: Tech News

Phased Upgrade of Windows Live Messenger 8.x


Hello folks, been a while, ain’t it?

This post will be about Windows Live Messenger – WLM. Call me oldstyle, but I liked the lightness of WLM 8.1. Hadn’t even bothered moving to 8.5.

What do I see today? I cannot connect to WLM because of a forced phased phorsed upgrade instruction from Microsoft to correct a security flaw that had cropped up. Now, I’ve finally decided to upgrade to WLM 2009 and I’ll give you my first impressions.

I think Microsoft has gone haywire. I want to download WLM and what I get is a bloated package of 135MB something with tons of apps that I don’t want. What the hell is that strategy? I refused to comply and searched for a Standalone Installer. Softpedia came to the rescue. The installer there is just WLM in a 24MB package. Much better.

Update: Note you may also need to install other files to get the standalone working, most notably contacts.msi to solve a 80x error message. These, and some info, are available at this MyDigitalLife post.

The installation goes smoothly. Nothing to complain here.

There are some issues with the new WLM 2009 which I don’t particularly like:

  • It’s bloated! 8.1 used to take 15MBish of RAM. 2009 takes 36MB! It’s not terribly bad, but I still like my applications slim.
  • The interface is weird. I’ve been taught that the eye reads from left to right. What the display pictures are doing in the left instead of the right is beyond my understanding. I’d think that the chat text is more important than the display pictures. That’s not what MS thinks apparently. Good thing is, you can hide the display pics like before.
  • Whenever I open any menu, there’s a lag where my PC freezes for a bit. I don’t know if it’s just me, or for everyone else too.

The good points are:

  • Probably more secured.
  • More customizable, specially for the layout and contact list. E.g. The size of the display pictures can be changed in the list.
  • Reworked color schemes. The color frames around the display pictures indicating status is a good idea.
  • Generally more organized and pleasing to the eye.
  • The interface, despite some weird points, is better. Moving the emoticons and other icons down the conversation box and removal of the send button, etc… saves space.
  • You can now display “What you are listening” and your “personal message” at the same time.
  • You can sign in from multiple computers at the same time, and sign off them remotely.

Most things are already updated to work with WLM 2009, like for those of you who use MessengerPlus, it’s already up to date.

That’s about it. I’m not terribly satisfied with the WLM 2009. I liked the 8.1 interface best, but I am forced to use 2009. Let’s hope it’s as good as 8.1.

Your views on this, if you use WLM?

Google turns 10, Wants to help people with $10m



September marks the 10th anniversary of the godlike search engine Google, repository-of-the-Internets-and-universal-knowledge *bows*. However, the exact date seems to be a variable! More info on that at Techcrunch.

*Google opened its doors in September 1998. The exact date when we celebrate our birthday has moved around over the years, depending on when people feel like having cake. For more on Google’s history:

Source: Google Support

The folks with the “Don’t be evil” motto want to celebrate their creation’s birthday by helping the world. So? They have launched a project called “Project 10 to the 100th”, or Project 10100. Quite a Googlish-name if you ask me!

Basically, you suggest some ideas that will help the greatest number of people possible, in any way possible (or so I guess). Then, you go on that website above, and post it there. You may even post a 30-seconds video to back your concepts.

Then? Google has put aside $10 million to kickstart the Top 5 ideas it receives. The public will be able to short select 20 semi-finalist ideas, and a board will select the Top 5 out of those.

There are a number of categories in which you can participate, which are (as listed on the Project 10100 page):

  • Community: How can we help connect people, build communities and protect unique cultures?
  • Opportunity: How can we help people better provide for themselves and their families?
  • Energy: How can we help move the world toward safe, clean, inexpensive energy?
  • Environment: How can we help promote a cleaner and more sustainable global ecosystem?
  • Health: How can we help individuals lead longer, healthier lives?
  • Education: How can we help more people get more access to better education?
  • Shelter: How can we help ensure that everyone has a safe place to live?
  • Everything else: Sometimes the best ideas don’t fit into any category at all.

That’s basically it. Now you can go suggest some ideas if you have some, or pass the message around. The closing date for ideas submission is 20th October!

Time for some fun. If you want to know how Google was born, bred and evolved, you can check out this interesting timeline of what Google’s been up to in the last 10 years. Here’s Google’s Tenth Birthday page too.

Seriously, I can’t imagine life online without Google. It’s been saving my rear for the last 10 years now! A big thanks and:


Behold Chrome: New contender in Browser Wars Arena!



Google just released the Beta version of its browser, called Google Chrome (why chrome anyways?). Since a few days, I’ve been seeing that pokeball-like logo all over the Internets and I thought I must add my piece of text to the already long list of blog posts about the newest browser out there. Seriously, nearly 12 million results on Google when I search for “Google Chrome”.

What’s the hype about it? Everybody is “Chrome released”, “Chrome does that”, “Chrome does this”, “Chrome makes tea”, bla bla… Let’s see… Before I move on, I need to say that Chrome is released under BSD license, and it’s Open-Source!

Continue Reading »

Orange UK sees subscribers leave


The Register has an article about Orange UK’s subscribers leaving it for other, more juicy ISP offers. Here’s the article:

Customers are continuing to desert Orange’s ADSL offerings, the firm’s results revealed today.

In the six months to 30 June 44,000 net broadband subscribers quit the firm, leaving it with 1.06 million. Orange said its UK broadband customer base was “levelling off”, but figures released in February showed that just 4,000 net subscribers were lost in the last three months of 2007. On its own numbers, Orange’s decline is accelerating.

Despite the toughening economic conditions, the rest of the big six ISPs have maintained the positive trend in their customer base as the market approaches saturation. Orange has claimed that its failure to capitalise on market growth is a deliberate strategy to allow it to sort out problems with its network.

Revenues for the UK Home Communication Services unit, which also includes fixed line voice telephony, fell 7.7 per cent. Much of the sales slide was due to the industry-wide decline in traditional home telephone usage. The proportion of margin-boosting unbundled ADSL lines rose from 23 per cent last year to 40 per cent, however.

I’m not very surprised though, considering the huge amounts of complaints made by Orange users in Mauritius.

Well, I hope that this “exodus” of subscribers as The Register termed it will influence the folks at Orange MU to offer some better services instead of low speed connections (megabit for the masses is a dream!) and weird capping and monitoring policies.

Comments please?

Rapidshare loves you: No Captchas now!


This is excellent news, coming straight from the link Shah gave me:

No more captchas – higher flexibility for premium-users

July 02, 2008

By eliminating the captchas we simplified the use of RapidShare’s free services significantly. In addition, free-users can now upload and download bigger files (up to 200 megabyte). Anyhow, to protect RapidShare from congestion caused by automated downloading, we limited the maximum download speed for free-users to 500 kilobit per second. To compensate for that, they do not have to wait anymore until starting a succeeding download.

Premium-users now profit from more flexibility regarding the download volume: It used to be limited to 10 gigabyte per day and can be “saved” now to a maximum of 50 Gigabyte. As a consequence, the volume that was not used is transferred to the following day automatically, up to a maximum of 50 gigabyte. If the complete download capacity is used up during one day, the premium-user is able to save another 10 gigabyte the following day.


Enjoy yer leeching mateys for now, yer have no lame captchas. (Ok, sorry for my lame attempt at pirate speech).

This really simplifies downloading off Rapidshare, and I wonder how and if download managers can be used now. Previously, there was competition to see who can crack the RS captchas, now that’s a non-issue.

Oh by the way, the download timer is still there, so you will still have to wait. I’m sure somebody, somewhere will figure out a way to beat that.

Regarding the speed limits and the download limit, I doubt it really affects us Mauritians. Firstly, 500Kbps download speed limit doesn’t matter. Most of us have 128Kbps, or 512Kbps. It’s not that bad. 128Kbps folks will probably be enjoying full speed.

The 10GB limit is plain off-limits to us. I doubt anybody can download 10GBs in Mauritius with our available connections (unless you are an godly haxx0r).

Overall, I find that it’s a good move from Rapidshare to promote its services. But with limits like 10GB per day, or cumulative 50GB, isn’t Rapidshare directly condoning piracy? I don’t think your videos, documents and free music that you may share with others will amount to 10GB daily, will it?

Let’s see your views. 🙂

The end of privacy on the Internet?


CCTV Cameras

A number of recent events occurring over the Internet prompted me to write this article. What were these events about? Well, if you want to know, they are about privacy decreasing over the Internet. Most users think that while they are online, they are nameless and faceless; One among the millions or billions of users and that they can do pretty much what they want.

Guess again buddy! In fact, I’d go as far as to say you are never anonymous over the Internet. Why? There is always your IP address. Hide it via a proxy you say? Your ISP still has your record, and if ever your proxy is not totally reliable, then you could easily be found.

I’ll be talking about the decreasing levels of privacy. “The Internet is an unregulated network with free-flow of Information”, or so the definition says. Is it really true? Not according to me. Do you consider bandwidth regulation schemes, commonly known as “bandwidth capping” to be unregulated flow of information?

You are not allowed to use some services at some times of the day, by some ISPs. That’s a lot of some’s, but it’s there. P2P throttling is becoming increasingly common among ISPs who are seeing their bandwidth being swamped with P2P traffic. This violates the basic philosophy of a free-flow of information, right?

But let’s see what the Japanese have to say when it comes to how they use the Internet.

We know that the Japanese are very good when it comes to high-speed Internet, with something like 100Mbps available at around $45 per month. We also know that Fair-Usage Policies were introduced by Orange in Mauritius, giving you a download-capping of around 10GB a month, or so we guessed. Guess what the Japan ISP, NTT did. They implemented an upload-capping of (!!) 30GB per day! Downloads, of course, are still unlimited. Ok… *shocked* Read more here.

Now for the decreasing privacy topic. Starting with the most recent now, let’s see flagrant cases of what I’d call “invasion of privacy” but which authorities seem to consider “normal”. You be the judge.

Read the rest of the article

New Captcha: No pets in


I was downloading a file off today, and guess what I see?

They finally acquired some common-sense! The infamous Cat Captcha system is DEAD!

The new captcha looks like this, which is very much easier to read:

Rapidshare Terrain Captcha

The new captchas look like the letters were modelled off a flat surface, like a terrain. The letters look like mountains off the ground.

This is a most welcomed change, since the Cat Captchas were sometimes very tough to decipher, and a general pain in the rear. This will surely make leeching off pirated files off Rapidshare easier for us netizens! The new captchas sometimes are not clear, but still easier than differentiating cats from dogs, specially the tiny things Rapidshare used! (Is that end letter a D or an 0?)

Thank you Rapidshare, after soooo long, you are seeing the light!