Category Archives: Microsoft

Laptop for a commerce student

Today my uncle asked me to help him shop for a laptop for his daughter who is studying her graduate course from CA institute.  Requirement was a Windows PC (trust me I asked her about Google Chromebook  she didn’t want one and Apple Macbook was way out of budget), Microsoft Office and Tally accounting software (which is free for download from their website for education purposes). My uncle’s budget was Rs.30,000 (USD 500). I did some research online on models available and average pricing, then took him to Croma electronic store in Phoenix Mall, Velachery. I should have known better, going on a Sunday evening to this mall was a bad idea, the car parking entry was clogged for miles.

Laptop

In the store I selected HP 15 R036TU laptop which was selling at a discounted price of Rs.22999. I ruled out any of the higher end models which were around Rs.30000 which will no money for buying MS Office, Mouse or an Antivirus.

HP-15-R036TU

HP 15 R036TU specs (below) was ideal for what as a commerce student my cousin sister will be needing:

  • Intel Pentium (4th Gen) Quad Core (though not i3 or i5 enough for the purpose)
  • Good Display at 15.6 Inches, 1366 x 768 LED Blacklit
  • Sufficient memory at 4GB, 500GB HDD (most other models even those at Rs.30000 came with only 2GB which is inadequate for Windows8)
  • 3 USB Ports, 1 HDMI port to connect to TV/Projector, Ethernet Port, 3.5 mm headphone port
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • DVD Drive for using learning DVDs & occasional movie watching
  • SD media card reader for copying photos from their digital camera
  • Dual speakers which were loud enough for normal music & movie viewing
  • Lastly at 2.25 Kgs quite easy to carry with them daily to college
  • A shoulder carrying bag for the laptop that was sporty

Software & Accessories

Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 was retailing at Rs.5499 at Croma.  I spotted the same was selling Rs.1000 less in Snapdeal and Flipkart. Noticing this Croma manager offered to match the price and I got it for Rs.4400 from Croma itself. I didn’t go with Office 365 subscription as I don’t see them needing any of its features for next 3 years till they graduate.

Next item was a Logitech wireless mouse at Rs.700. Croma gave an “Enter” accessories kit (USB light, Mouse, Headset, etc) as complimentary with the laptop. The kit included a small mouse but I was not comfortable with it.

AccessoriesKit

Last in my list was Antivirus, for which I went with a brand I trust. I got K7 Computing’s Antivirus Premium 1 PC/3 Years for Rs.1199. This edition of K7 was the right mix of features and protection that was adequate for this need. Buying subscription for 3 years meant for the expected lifetime of this laptop they should be covered.

k7computing-antivirus-premium

Now the total spend for my uncle was Rs.29298, a good Rs.700 below his budget. I felt good !!!

Installation

The setup was straight forward except for two irritants. One was that I had to spend two hours in burning the 5 Recovery DVDs manually, I would have been happy to pay USD 10 more to HP for shipping this out of box.  Second was installing all the Microsoft Updates (which happens in all platforms now whether its Apple or Google) and uninstalling of HP Crapware (like some games,  3rd party tools and mcAfee Antivirus

I was pleasantly surprised to find the Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 including for free “Hindi Language Pack for Office 2013” which separately retails for Rs.1299. The Hindi language pack includes features for spell checking & grammar which are needed for all other Indian Languages like Tamil as well.

calibre ebook management

While I have used calibre – ebook management in the past, those usages were limited and I had mostly used it as a ereader.

Books I bought from Amazon goes into my Kindle Touch and managed easily from Amazon.com. But I realized I have lot of ebooks from non-amazon sources especially PDFs of magazines I subscribe like IEEE Spectrum which needed better management than simply storing in OneDrive shared folders. So I explored the landscape. Since I use Apple iTunes to manage all my music, videos and iPhotos for pictures, I turned to Apple iBooks (now in Mac OS) but that didn’t work out. iBooks won’t help in Windows, which was a major dampener for me. So I turned again to calibre.

calibre is a free and open source e-book library management and ereader, written by Kovid Goyal. Its available for free download for all 3 desktop OS (Windows, Mac OS X and Linux) and numerous compatible apps from 3rd party exists for iOS, Android & Windows Phone.

my calibre library

calibre allows you to import ebooks from various formats, export to all imaginable ebook formats including ePub, PDF, Mobi & Kindle. It allows excellent meta-tagging of books, searching of books and sports a clutter free reader view. Best of all the calibre library (just like iTunes library) can be synced between PCs across OSes. I created my calibre library in my iMac to my shared OneDrive folder, synced it to my Surface Pro (Windows 8,1 Update) and everything works fine. One of the popular features of calibre is its ability to sync books from any format automatically to Amazon Kindle using USB cable or email.

If you have more than one ebook, calibre is a must have app for your PC.

Remote Desktop client for Mac OSX

I am using an iMac in my home and I connect to my Windows 8 PC at work occasionally through corporate VPN. For some time now from my home, though I can connect to VPN and access Work PC from my Surface Pro (running Windows 8) I was not able to do the same from iMac. It kept complaining machine not found or Access Denied.

It turned out I needed to upgrade the Microsoft Remote Desktop App for Mac OS X. You can download the new version (8.0.5) released by Microsoft on 12th March 2014. Its available in iTunes Store here.  This version sports an improved user interface and other benefits. Using this I was able to Remote Desktop to my Windows 8.1 Update PC at work through VPN from my iMac.

MacOSX-RemoteDesktop-For-Windows8

Share Host OS WiFi with guest OS in HyperV

In Windows 8 you have Hyper-V virtualization to create, manage and run Guest OS instances. I use it regularly in my Work PC to have multiple OS instances of Windows 7, Windows Server and even Windows 95 for testing various scenarios or while experimenting.

One of the challenges with Hyper-V has been on sharing WiFi Connection that’s present in the Host OS (Windows 8) with the Guest OS. This happens in scenarios like in Hotel room where every device connected to WiFi will be charged or in Corporate environments where WiFi is secured with RADIUS authentication against an Active Directory which prevents you from connecting to network non-domain machines. 

This article by Rick Gipson gives a step by step instruction on how to share the WiFi from Host OS to Guest OS. Its very simple, basically it is to create an Internal Virtual Switch and then using Windows 8 (assuming that to be the Host OS) Network and Sharing Center and enabling the Internet connection sharing.

HyperV-Virtual

WiFi-Sharing

Windows 2000 Launch in Chennai

(Flashback date: October 15, 1999)

The other day while going through my photo archives spotted these photos – rows of desktop PCs, bulky CRT monitors and people sitting on ground with wired mouses. I could recognize Windows 2000 in the Monitors, its startup screen had a distinct white background with colours for the Windows logo.

Windows-2000-Chennai-Launch-PCs

venkat with friends19

What was being done by my colleagues seen above was setting up about half-a-dozen PCs with Windows 2000 Beta (B2). That build was notorious for its stability especially around COM+. We needed COM+ subscriber/publisher model to work across machines and that sub-system worked only on flawless networking. This whole exercise was preparations were meant for Microsoft’s launch event in Chennai for Windows 2000.

COM+ = COM + MTS + Services

With Windows XP technical support expiring with yesterday, you are left wondering how much of then technology has become obsolete quickly!!