Thursday, January 29, 2009

All-in-One Chat Client

Recently, I came across a download list for Windows at One of the applications listed there was Pidgin, an IM Client that lets you chat on multiple protocols like Yahoo, Google, AIM and MSN. I have been using Pidgin for about a week now and have found it really useful. So here goes a quick and dirty review of Pidgin.

The download and installation experience was  very smooth. Once you install the software you then have to configure the accounts you will use Pidgin with. Of course, you can add more protocols later if you want.

One of the biggest advantages that I have seen of Pidgin is that it is very lightweight and does not take long to load. That means that Pidgin has to do away with niceties such as video and audio conversation. Having said that, one of the features I have taken a liking to is new mail notification. Pidgin will notify you of any new mails if you turn the option on.

Pidgin The other nice feature of Pidgin is that it neatly organises your groups from different chat clients. So if you have a group called “Friends”  in both gtalk and AIM, it will show up in one group under Pidgin. Pidgin, by default supports tabbed chatting. Though it is very convenient, sometimes, you can miss out when a new message comes in. Luckily, the customization options in Pidgin is quite exhaustive. If you go to preferences you can see a whole host of options.


For the want-all freaks who are not satisfied with the default features that Pidgin provides there is something in for you too; Plug-ins. Pidgin comes with a set of plug-ins, so you can include whatever you think adds “jazz” to your client. I have not quite started playing with them yet so I will hold my comments and suggestions. Pidgin is open source so you can also develop your own plug-ins. I will leave it at that for a start. As I said, I am still playing around with this so do feel free to leave me comments on Pidgin or anything else that you have come across.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Developing Websites in Regional Languages

Recently, I had a couple of queries on how to develop sites in Hindi, Marathi and other regional languages so I thought I will actually blog about it. I have also had questions on whether using images for regional text is the way to go but fortunately, .NET and Windows gives you better and slicker ways of doing this so read on. I am using Windows XP and VS 2008 but the steps should be similar for almost all the Operating Systems.

One of the first things that you need to do if you are developing sites in regional language is to set up your webserver to display this text. This is how you can do it.

Step – I

Go to Start -> Control Panel - > Regional and Language Options

Click Languages Tab and then check the two text boxes. If you are developing sites only in Indian Regional languages, checking the second check box should do.

Step – II

The next step is to add the ability to enter Hindi Text on your machine. This can either be your Development Machine or your web server.

In the same screen click on Details under the Text Services and Input Languages. You are taken to the Text Services and Input Languages Screen. This is the screen where you tell your computer that you wish to add the regional language of your choice as an input mechanism.

Step - III

In your installed services click Add and Select the Language you want to be able to input. This is how your screen will look when you do this. You will see that I have added Hindi.

Another small change that you will probably not notice is in your task bar. On the bottom right you should see EN next to the System tray. Click on that EN and you will see the screen below

Click on Hindi to be able to enter text in Hindi. The easiest way to check this is to open a Word document and type there.

Now we have our system enabled to enter text in Hindi. Its time we move on to our application. As I have said before I am going to use VS 2008 to demonstrate this to you. Open VS 2008 and create a new website. In the Default.aspx page add a calendar control. Open the web.config and add the following tag inside the system.web element

<globalization uiCulture="hi-IN" fileEncoding="utf-8" requestEncoding="utf-8" responseEncoding="utf-8"/>

 Now run the website. If you have done everything right you should see the calendar in Hindi, something like below

Monday, January 26, 2009

Jan quizzes in Chennai

The long weekend of the 24th, 25th and 26th Jan had three quizzes in Chennai. I attended two of those. The Mylapore Quiz which was a part of the Mylapore festival on the 25th and the IQL India Unplugged on the 26th of Jan. Both of them where conducted at the same venue. Hotel Karpagam Hall in Mylapore. Read on to know my views on how it went
The Mylapore quiz was a part of the Mylapore Festival that is fast becoming one of the famous neighborhood events in the city. The quiz master for the afternoon was Ashwin Prabhu. There was a prelims of 20 questions followed by the finals which was 6rounds.
The questions were very well framed and the enthusiasm of the participantsand their love for Mylapore was quite evident. The team of V.V. Ramanan and Ram Shankar walked away with the laurels. Overall the quiz was a very good experience. For somebody who is trying to get back to quizzing regularly, it was very enjoyable. Thanks to Ashwin and Srinivas for putting together a set of intriguing questions.
The second quiz was the India Unplugged conducted by the India Quizzing League. Personally, I thought the quiz would have had better participation if it was slotted in the evening. The quiz was scheduled at 09.30 AM in the morning. Karthik Narayanan started off the quiz with a fun question on JK Rithish. The prelims was a set of 30 questions. Again 6 teams got into the finals. This is where the quiz started to falter I thought. The questions for the finals could have been thought out better. Infact, the quiz seemed to get very long and the third round was a bit dry. I couldn’t stay till the end but kudos to the IQL Team for putting up this quiz. Jan 26th Is usually the date for the Odyssey Quiz but that didn’t happen this year. The IQL Team came forward and filled the void. This can only get better.