Pqi i810 : Worlds Smallest USB Flash Drive?

Pqi i810 series USB flash drives from Power Quotient are extremely tiny in size. They not much larger than your finger nail. But don't let that fool you they pack lots of storage space, the one that landed in lap was whopping 8GB. And they are cute and pink :) . The Power Quotient product page claims that these are world's smallest USB flash drives. However I didn't find any reference to this neither on Engadget nor anywhere else on the web.

Pqi i810 product image from Power

At first glance its looks more like a MMC card than a USB slot. It really felt strange to plug it into my USB drive. Like most exotic hardware I thought it would be a pain to make it work with gnu/Linux OS. And Surprise, surprise it worked just fine on my Ubuntu Jaunty 9.04 laptop.
The USB Id's of this device are given below. Bus 002 Device 006: ID 3538:0059 Power Quotient International Co., Ltd If you are planning to buy one, go ahead and indulge yourself.

Openoffice.org Spell Checking

Openoffice.org spellcheck doesn't seems to work on Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty either. It's a well known problem that can be easily fixed but somehow it gets carried on from one release to the next. When you run a spellcheck, Openoffice immediately says that spell check is complete even when the document has mis-spelled words.

Openoffice.org SpellCheck doesn't work

Openoffice.org uses hunspell so you better check if its installed. Secondly make sure that the default language is set correctly.
# apt-cache policy hunspell hunspell: Installed: (none) Candidate: 1.2.6-1ubuntu2 Version table: 1.2.6-1ubuntu2 0 500 http://jp.archive.ubuntu.com jaunty/main Packages # sudo apt-get install hunspell Reading package lists... Done Building dependency tree Reading state information... Done The following packages were automatically installed and are no longer required: libyaml-syck-perl libftgl2 libchm1 python-chm libalut0 libindicate0 Use 'apt-get autoremove' to remove them. The following NEW packages will be installed: hunspell 0 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded. Need to get 91.5kB of archives. After this operation, 246kB of additional disk space will be used. Get:1 http://jp.archive.ubuntu.com jaunty/main hunspell 1.2.6-1ubuntu2 [91.5kB] Fetched 91.5kB in 2s (45.2kB/s) Selecting previously deselected package hunspell. (Reading database ... 190374 files and directories currently installed.) Unpacking hunspell (from .../hunspell_1.2.6-1ubuntu2_i386.deb) ... Processing triggers for man-db ... Setting up hunspell (1.2.6-1ubuntu2) ...

Go to Tools > Options > Language Settings > Writing Aids. Select Hunspell Spellchecker and set the default language, on my computer it is English (USA). OpenOffice.org Hunspell language options

Also make sure to do the same for all the menus under Tools > Language. Ooo Language for selection Ooo Language for paragraph Ooo Language For Text selection

Enable Ctrl-Alt-Backspace in Ubuntu

Here is one change in the latest Ubuntu release Jaunty (9.04) that is *really* not blind friendly. You can no longer use the Ctrl-Alt-Backspace key combination to restart the graphical (X) session by default. Most of the Orca screen reader users have to resort to using this key combination to start over when Orca screen reader stops or hangs for some unknown reason.

Its not very difficult to turn on this feature back on. To enable this Ctrl-Alt-Backspace key combination you have to use the dontzap program. You might want to install this package on your computer. They type this command in the terminal.
sudo dontzap -d
Reboot the computer and you are ready.

Update In Ubuntu Karmic the dontzap has been removed. You have use the keyboard preference tool.

  • Select "System"->"Preferences"->"Keyboard"
  • Select the "Layouts" tab and click on the "Layout Options" button.
  • Select "Key sequence to kill the X server" and enable "Control + Alt + Backspace".

Tracker index corruption in Jaunty

Few hours into the Jaunty Update, I ran into the Tracker index corruption issue mentioned in the Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Release Notes.
In some cases it can happen that the index of the "tracker" desktop search engine becomes invalid. A dialog will be shown, offering you to "Reindex all contents". This button does not work, and the tracker service might start to use large amounts of CPU and disk resources. As a workaround, please press Alt+F2 and run tracker-processes -r. This will be fixed in a post-release update soon (361205).

Tracker Applet Reindex tracker database

However tracker-processes program was not installed on my laptop, so I installed tracker-utils package and ran the tracker-processes -r which seems to fix the problem.

2nd International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala

2nd International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala

19th - 25th June, 2009
Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India

The Kerala State Chalachitra Academy announces the 2nd International Documentary and Short Festival of Kerala to be conducted from the 19th-25th June 2009 at Thiruvananthapuram (formerly known as Trivandrum), Kerala, India. The festival, a unique venture in India is being organized by the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy for the Dept of Cultural Affairs, Govt. of Kerala as part of its endeavor to catalyze a vibrant documentaryand short film movement. Increasing accessibility and affordability of film and other media technology has led to a boom in the production and scope of films. The media is now used by image-makers from all walks of life to express, experiment, learn and as an effective tool to conscientise and bring about social change. The festival aims to map and reflect the exploding nature of the medium in its many facets of creativity and resistance. To participate in this unique event please read the rules and regulations and download the entry form and submit before 1st May 2009 to
Kerala State Chalachitra Academy
Mani Bhavan
Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala 695010
Ph: 0091 471 2310323
Fax: 0091 471 2310322
iffkoffice@yahoo.co.in, ivfkoffice@gmail.com
You can download the Entry Form and Rules & Regulations.

Free Software Camp for Ngo's and Civil Society Groups in Delhi, India

Free Software Workshop for NGOs and Civil Society Groups
Effectively compute and communicate in your local language using free and open source software tools and techniques

NGO In a Box Workshop
June 5-6,2009,Delhi and NCR,India
Call for Participation

What is NGO in a Box?
NGO-in-a-box is a collection of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) tools selected for use by non-profit organizations,along with workshops conducted to help users effectively deploy the software in their organizations.The software is distributed in down-loadable form and as a physical box set of cd's. Several customized editions of NGO-in-a-box exist to provide organizations with the software they need in relation to different topics and requirements.

This is a Call for participants for our 8th workshop.Make use of this free software workshop to enrich your knowledge and help your organization effectively leverage free software without the licensing hassles.Learn about free software components and methodologies and how to enable it in your everyday work.

Limited accommodation can be arranged for out-of-station people, on a first-come, first-serve basis. All participants will be expected to bear their own travel costs.

For details of our previous workshops, visit http://ngoinabox.mahiti.org
Organizers: This workshop is being organized jointly by Sarai,Delhi and Mahiti Infotech,Bangalore.

Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope) Released

Few hours ago latest version of Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope) was released. After three days without Internet connection, today evening the damaged optical fiber was patched just in time for the release. As I am writing this post my laptop is downloading the packages to complete the upgrade from Alpha release.

Read more about the features of Ubuntu 9.04 in the following press releases:

Meanwhile in the server room I am seeding ubuntu 9.04 desktop (i386) image via bittorrent . If you are downloading Ubuntu in India, I suggest you download this torrent file. I think I would continue seeding this image until the end of the month (30 April, 2009).

Reliance Netconnect USB card in Ubuntu Jaunty

New version of Ubuntu Linux 9.04 (Jaunty) is due to be released next week. So if you are a Reliance Broadband USB CDMA modem user then you should make these (slight) changes to your configuration .
Thejesh has already posted a detailed Reliance Netconnect USB card on Linux Howto so I don't think I should repeat myself again.

In Jaunty the usbserial module is complied as builtin in the linux kernel. So if you are searching for us usbserial module you won't find it. What you have to do instead is to pass USB vendor ID and Product ID at boot time.

Add this line at the end of default kernel line in your /boot/grub/menu.lst usbserial.vendor=0x19d2 usbserial.product=0xfffd
Happy Browsing !!!

Tansalesian Radio Show

Tansalesia is fictional country created as part of curriculum at IISE. In this wonderful radio show participants and catalysts share their experiences and story behind this idea. Enjoy!

Ubunchu! The worlds first Ubuntu romantic school comedy

ShadowMax76 reported on Ubuntu news list that we now have worlds first ubuntu manga comic. "Ubunchu!" tells the story of three school students in a sys-admin club who dive into Ubuntu Linux. Not before a huge fight that features deadly weapons like broomstick and compat disk Shuriken :).UBuntu Manga comic Ubunchu!

You can download the Japanese Version or the one in English here. And don't forget to read doctormo blog post :).

Titan Braille Watch Review :: Video

Yoshimi interviews Victor about his new Titan's Braille watch in this video. This well crafted tactile watch for blind is both affordable and sturdy. Braille watches have definite advantages over talking watches, which can be really annoying sometimes. Yoshmini and Victor are the participants of International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs (IISE) and they are both blind.

Titan Braille Watch ImageTitan Braille watch is designed by the Titan Design Studio and is manufactured in India by Tata. The watch come with a special instruction manual in Braille, which has been developed in consultation with the National Association for the Blind. The watch is priced at Rs.995 ($20 US) which is cheaper than other braille watches produced worldwide.

Update: Not surpisingly the ACM article A blind person's interactions with technology reflects the Victor and Yoshimi's ideas in the video

Guido Van Rossum :: History Of Python Programming Language

Python Programming Language LogoPerhaps Guido Van Rossum's legacy is not the creation of celebrated and equally hated Python Programming language. It is his steady fast adherence to the three great virtues of a programmer: laziness, impatience, and hubris. Rossum talks about the history of python programming language design and implementation in this lecture. A must watch even if you don't use Python.

Click to download lecture video and slides.

Solar Powered Cellphones

Having a lazy Saturday morning. Flipping through this mornings newspaper I stopped in my tracks when I saw this clipping about LG Solar-powered phone. Living in one of the sunniest places on this side of planet I would love to have one of those cellphones that charge under the sun. And to top it all the phone is built with eco friendly materials.

Designed to symbolize a flat and well rounded shiny pebble, Blue Earth is the first solar powered full-touch screen phone. By charging with the solar panel located on the back of the phone, users can generate enough electronic power to call anytime anywhere.
Blue Earth is made from recycled plastic called PCM, which is extracted from water bottles, helping to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions in the manufacturing process. The device, including charger, is free from harmful substances such as Brominated Flame Retardants, Beryllium and Phthalate.
read me

Louis The Cat Strikes Back

Louis the cat caught on camera for the first time. Louis named in honour of Louis Braille, he showed up at the IISE campus one day and adopted us.

Laurie Baker Remembered

1 April 2009: Yesterday was the second death anniversary of Laurie Baker British-born Indian architect. COSTFORD(Centre of Science and Technology for Rural Development) organized this event in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), Kerala.

Accessible Portable Media Players

There aren't many accessible portable media players for blind. In a group discussion on this topic at IISE, Robbie mentioned about Rockbox project. Rockbox provides firmware for some audio player from Apple, Archos, Cowon, Iriver, Olympus, SanDisk, and Toshiba. This project features voiced menu's. I have yet to get hold of a compatible player and try this out.

Meanwhile fourth generation (4G) iPods introduced voice menu too. I don't think its targeted for blind per se (correct me) but aims for different non-visual functionality as explained in this technology Review article published few years ago.