Monthly Archives: October 2011

Comparing Outlook w/Thunderbird

What do I prefer Thunderbird or Outlook 2010? For an ex-Microsoftie, I’d say that Outlook is very very dear to my heart. Yet, how does it compare to Thunderbird?

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I’ve thought of a few things to measure it by and if you’ve got some other criteria, I’d love to add them. Wikipedia’s comparison lists the following:

  • OS support
  • Protocol Support
  • Authentication Support
  • SSL & TLS Support
  • Other features
    • General Features
    • Message Features
    • DB, folders & customization
    • Templates, scripts, and programming languages

My criteria will be a bit different. I’m working on the Windows platform, so OS support while important to many isn’t a major concern for me (for now!). Protocol support – hey what email client does not support IMAP and POP? So, outta my list. Authentication support – yes yes, I won’t start without SSL, so again, given and won’t compare on that. What’s left then are the general features and more. So here’s my list:

  • Features
    • PIM stuff (personal info management – calendar, tasks, etc.)
    • Views
    • Sorting / Categorization (well, this is not so big for me now that I get under 20 mails a day)
    • Searching – a biggie always!
    • Scripting
  • Performance (speed)
  • Maturity
  • Backend Integration
    • Hotmail
    • Gmail

Maturity first – it’s easy. Outlook’s been around longer, has a bigger user base, most of whom are paying customers. So, considering the improvements, enhancements, support and all that Outlook does rock. Just because it’s better doesn’t mean Thunderbird’s bad. For a free product, Thunderbird does kick ass. I had a few issues with crashes, but the current build I’m using (7.0.1) appears very stable. No hiccoughs whatsoever.

Performance – Frankly, maybe it could be the fact that MS guys write outlook, but it does start up a lot faster. And when it does go up, I’ve rarely felt the need to slow down to accommodate Outlook. Mind you it does happen, but it happens a lot more with Thunderbird.

Features – PIM stuff. This is a bit of a toughie. Frankly with what the Android phone has to offer, I’d say neither Outlook nor Thunderbird (w/Lightning) can really match up. I mean Outlook lacks the option of having more than one mobile number that syncs well. And so does Thunderbird. It happens often enough that it’s a bother for me. Take my dad for example. He travels all over the world and has a cell phone for every major country he visits. And he uses them whenever he travels. I’d rather not create 20 accounts for him. And my wife – she’s got an Indian cell and a German cell. Ok, maybe it’s me being anal, but frankly I don’t like the idea of having more than one contact per person. Gmail rocks, but I’m not using Gears and it ain’t going to be my offline client. I love Offline clients. Calendaring – I think feature wise both Outlook and Thunderbird are well matched. Recurring events, and all that stuff works. Outlook hasn’t changed all that much in those areas, however the cool stuff like calendar overlay and all, Outlook has it. So for pro biz users, Outlook rocks. For the home users – can you beat a free product? Well, I guess I could compare it to Live Mail. Note to self – compare to Live Mail.

View/Sorting – can do with both, but Outlook’s a lot easier with this. It is a mature product.

Searching – I guess if I could find an extension that gets Windows Desktop Search integrated with Thunderbird, that would do it.

Scripting – well, I think I mean this differently from the Wikipedia article. They meant scripts in messages. I mean something along the lines of Macros. Outlook’s got them and with 2010 you have these awesome things you can do with them.  Thunderbird has similar stuff and it’s to be found in the Message Menu – create filter. So, check.

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Frankly I’d choose Outlook 8 times out of 10, but for now I’m sticking with Thunderbird. For me, the extensions to Thunderbird are the clincher. Integration with most back-ends is easy with Thunderbird and with a rich set of extensions, it’s a matter of finding the right one. I can’t say the same for Outlook – frankly, I never needed to look but with Google integration being the way it is, it’s been a challenge.

I’ll put a post up about my favorite extensions to Thunderbird soon. As soon as I trim ‘em!

WordPress Tags: Gmail,Extensions,Comparison,Thunderbird,Outlook

WikidPad

You may have heard about this app from elsewhere, but seriously, I’m  moving every scrap of digitized writing I have and moving it to WikidPad. That page also gives you a good description of the app in great detail. You can do all sorts of things on it. It even comes with a very helpful help wiki – which is absolutely awesome! I think this app is here to stay. It feels a lot easier than the journal tool I wrote about earlier. I didn’t write much into it. It was a very unattractive Sad smile – I guess there’s one development lesson in here.

I’m also going through Writing Excuses – a great podcast by Brandon Sanderson and co. I hope to improve my writing by listening (an odd choice of words, that!). Going through their old seasons now.

And since I’m so lazy about tagging my posts, I’m using a TagGenerator – awesome tool for Windows Live Writer – which is a kick-ass tool anyways!

WordPress Tags: WLW,Tools,WikidPad,TagGenerator

Buying a TV and a Washing Machine

The shopping adventure continues. On the list that I make everyday, I cross a few items and today I can say that I managed to cross off a significant two and made progress on several others. I have the luxury of being flexible with regards to time.

On my list today among other items were bed sheets, TV and washing machine. I’d been collecting data on prices and such of TVs. Once a model was decided the rest became a lot easier. I settled on a Samsung LED 32” 32D4000. LED vs. LCD was a consideration, plus the 20-30% lower power consumption and weight was another. It makes life so much easier. The next hurdle was pricing. I know jack about prices in India. So I headed towards the main dealer on South Ext. I. After some discussion, the price that emerged was around 34,000 INR. I had a baseline for comparison now. Taking that I decided to go to two shops on Gurdwara Road, Kotla Market – so just around the corner. One came down to 32,200 INR and the second offered 31,500 INR. I thought this was a pretty good deal and settled on it.

On to Washing Machines. Now this was educational! There are several dimensions one needs to look at:

  • Top Loading vs. Front Loading – i.e.. where do you put in the clothes, from the top or the side? (front loading is the side
  • Semi or fully automatic – Semi automatic are top loading and generally cheaper. I knew I wanted an automatic
  • Weight capacity – this can cause the prices to fluctuate big-time
  • Other soft sell stuff – digital blah blah, LCD screen, and promotional gimmicks like Diamond Drum, and AG+, etc.

So which one is better? This article says it all!

I thought of going for the Samsung WF0602, but that was a 6Kg machine and the quoted price was in the range of 28,000 INR. After some thinking I decided to settle for a smaller 5.5 Kg machine. For our household (2 people), this reduced capacity means little, but the price difference was nearly 10,000 INR! I settled for an IFB Elite DX. I’d heard some stories with regards to the support, but upon speaking with our dealer, he explained that he lives right down the block and gave me his mobile number. With this assurance, I decided to go for the IFB. An added consideration is that IFB is considered the market leader in India.

On the side, I scouted out a Khadi store, found a tailor (and had a great argument with him), and found an amazing shop where I could pick up a standing lamp and a bedside light.

Bargaining–a skill I’m improving

It appears that one can’t walk a 100 meters in Delhi without bargaining. We’ve rented an apartment, purchased a fridge, a ladder, a drying rack, pearl pet jars and bottles and in every case we’ve had to bargain and hone our skills. The challenge, as always, is knowing the fair market value and in the case of used goods, figuring out a deal that leaves both parties happy.

We tried a shop in Defence colony for a 5 foot ladder. The price I was quoted was in the range of 2,700 Rs. (56 USD approx.). It came with a 10 year guarantee. I settled for one for 1,500 with a 6 month warranty from Kotla. I don’t think I got a good bargain on that. However, I purchased a drying rack for 1,000 Rs which appears to be a good deal. So, why’s it so hard to argue with the guys in Defence and so easy to bargain in Kotla?

Finds in Kotla:

  • Steel cups, plates and other kitchenware
  • Ladders, Drying Racks and other metal furniture

Other finds in Lajpat Nagar:

  • 2nd hand bike stores
  • Car upholstery and accessories market
  • Branded sport shoe outlets
  • Bicycle stores
  • Electrical goods

Blog updates!

So, after a comment by Pragmatic Phil about updating twitter and all my social media sites about my blog posts, I did some research. Since I use Windows Live Writer, I wanted to use a plugin that could do it for me. After some searching I came across ping.fm This site lets you cross post to several social media networks including Twitter & Google Buzz. And WLW has a plugin called vCrossPost which kicks-ass! And here we go!

Where am I going with this?

I don’t have a thesis for this post yet. Popper might not really believe this, but I am confused as to what my perception of my stay in my new surroundings should be. What do I perceive?

  • Ijtihaad – I use this because any translation would lose the varied nuances. A shop down my street is run by a family. They offer rentals, courier services, print shop, photocopying, money changing, bill payment services, laundry services and much more. Reading their board of services may take over a minute. Did I mention they also do ticketing? I’ve recently subscribed for an internet connection. The engineers who’ve come so far have been amazing. They call ahead, and upon arrival commence on their job with a minimum of fuss. I’ve often seen them calling their shift managers and asking speedy responses citing, “customer’s leaving in 20 minutes,” as their reason. They want a job done, but don’t seem to be shoddy about it.
  • Honor – the word is a bond here, in a very real sense (so far). I’ve experimented on this with rickshaw drivers, shopkeeps, and even a locksmith. In each case, despite difficulties their word was a bond. In the case of the rickshaw drivers, once a deal was struck, traffic or no traffic, they would not demand more. In case of the locksmith he fashioned 3 keys and charged me 70 Rs/key. All 3 failed to work on the first try. So he came over, worked for nearly 40 mins fixing the keys and even making a new one on the spot. No further charge.
  • Laxness – Rickshaw wallahs, despite wanting to increase their incomes, often take long tea breaks and refuse customers, almost whimsically. Perhaps this is an outcome of salaried jobs. I felt the same way when I tried booking a railway ticket in Bhikaji Cama place where most ticketing agencies seemed to have given up on railway tickets, and were not really disposed to do much or offer any assistance. Another time, the back-end guys who were assisting the engineers seemed to be indisposed. “They’ve all gone home,” growled the engineer at my place while he called the shift supervisor and complained about the attitude.
  • Mindlessness – I’ve seen so many boarded up shops and so many in misplaced locations. In a hidden corner in the Defense Colony flyover market I found a boarded up travel agent. Now, who’d go there?! It’s under a flyover, for crying out loud and not even visible unless you’re standing in front of it! In Bhikaji Cama place every other shop appears boarded up, or if not, then there’s a 50-50 chance that the business name listed near the entrance is different from the business itself. Near Bhikaji Cama place appears a government run textile promotion area. Of the vast space only 50 or so shops are open. And I think I was one of the ten people wandering about. The whole compound appeared completely empty. I left the place with a heavier tread.
  • Helpfulness – I’ve asked for directions so often, and I’m continually surprised how much effort people are willing to put in. The other day, hunting down the shop which sold gas connections, I found myself in the flyover market – a market under the flyover linking Defense Colony and Jangpura. When I couldn’t figure out the instructions, most folks walked with me a bit to point out the right direction. But perhaps I’m seeing overmuch here. Yet, I feel that people are often willing to take some time to explain things and help out.
  • Chaos – the roads here are chaotic. If Egypt was crazy, it’s the jungle here! Respecting lanes seems to be out of the question. Much of the road vehicles speed about at 40 kmph! And the horns – they’re really meant to intimidate. I flinch every time one blows near by. In other ways it reminds me of Agami of old, or Mumbai too. You have the chic stores and you step into a puddle of sewage right outside. My landlord’s parked an old vehicle in the parking slot that comes with our apartment. He’s rightfully scared that if left empty, we’ll lose it – forever! With petroleum prices up, the government is subsidizing electric bikes (no pedals there). These bikes run at a max speed of 30kmph, and require no license or helmet and their range is approx. 70 kms – great for commuting around the city @ 30 kmph! Now, why not subsidize real bicycles and really get everyone fit and healthy? Bicycles cost around 7,000 Rs. Electrics cost around 24,000 Rs, after subsidy (approx. 4,000 Rs per bike)
  • Madness – everyday that I read the news, I’m impressed by how incompetent some people can be. A policeman recently tried to arrest a car thief. They blockaded the car from 3 sides. And the policeman approaches from behind (the only unblockaded exit) with the intention of blowing out the tires with his gun!? Are the policemen such great marksmen – and forget marksmanship, they really want to shoot to deflate tires!? What about those simple things like spike strips?They’re portable and probably cost less over time and don’t ricochet and hurt innocent bystanders! And this same car thief was apprehended thrice before and escaped thrice. His last escape: the 3 policemen escorting him on a highway went off to fetch water leaving him alone in a car they’d hitched a ride from. D-uh! Are they really that stupid?! Let’s not even go anywhere near politics.
  • Quirkiness – Defense Colony Club. For the first time, I felt out of place! I breezed into the place and found the garden filled with tables, quite a few occupied. The women were engaged in game of lotto. In the chilled indoor bar, their men – presumably – guzzled down alcoholic beverages while munching on tandoori chicken or a variant. I asked for a table indoors and was turned down on account of wearing slippers and a collar less t-shirt.
  • Accent – I really have to ask people to repeat themselves often over the phone. As when the engineers called and I had a hard time figuring out who was on the line! Airtel – how can you make that sound unfamiliar?! They do. And Sarah claims I’m picking it up too; rolling the ‘r’ with gusto when saying the word, “throwing.”

I probably shouldn’t laugh about this!

But I think I will anyways! Smile

http://www.delhi.gov.in/wps/wcm/connect/doit_transport/Transport/Home/Driving+Licence/Question+bank+for+computerized+Learner+License

That’s the question bank for the CBT (computer based test) to acquire a learner’s driving license. Q49 rocks and so do several others. I’m going to attempt this soon. I might just come out with flying colors!