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Tech Notes

October 2008: Credit Crunch & Tech Layoffs

This is not the golden time for tech community. Specially a lot of my friends in US and India are in fear of the recent layoffs of many IT companies. This is just another post October 2008 credit crunch effect, that is mainly affecting the BPO and IT industries which were mainly dependent on US based business.

Many start-ups in the US have started preparing for an uncertain economic future by cutting costs and improving on efficiency. And the most common way to achieve this has been through layoffs. Also many major players in the South Asian IT industries, such as Infosys, TCS, IBM India, Sathyam, Virtusa India, Virtusa Sri Lanka and many others have already started this and most of there core businesses were US client based. The companies that sustained this are the one who has there own products or the service based companies who focused on non-US markets.

I just think of all these as an undergraduate who is supposed to get into the industry in another 6 months. I hope things could get better in days to come, but still our IT industry should divercify itself to sustain this kind of cricis that could arise in future.

Few Related Links:
TechCrunch Layoff Tracker
Yahoo! News Full Coverage: Downsizing & Layoffs

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Tech Notes

Record Skype Calls with CallGraph

Have you ever wondered how to record a Skype call? You might want to record a Skype call to do a podcast, just for fun, or for some other reason. I stated searching on this topic months back and found many Skype plugins that could record calls. But I was satisfied with none of those as the were non-complete or commercial and not free. Many other popular Skype recording applications like Pamela let us record only up to 15 minutes for free.

Then only I found CallGraph, which is a free call recording application for Skype, developed by a Bangalore based start-up Sedna Wireless. Call Graph can be used to record Skype calls (Skype to Skype, SkypeIn, SkypeOut, Conference calls) in a mp3 file, and we can manage, search, order, filter the call records easily.

CallGraph also offers a web service called CRIMS (Call Record Indexing and Management Service) for online storage, sharing, search and transcription of the call records.

[Update: March 2011]

CallGraph is now called scribie, but they still offer the same products and services, specially the free CallGraph Skype Recorder for Windows.

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Tech Notes

My Fake / Counterfeit USB Flash Memory Key

I was shopping for a new USB key last week, and went to Unity Plaza (where many local computer shops). I was thinking of getting a 4GB one and many shops had Kingston and Transcend ones all ranging from Rs. 2000 – 2500. So without much care grabbed a 4GB Kingston DataTraveler (DT100/4GB) at “Data Master Computer Systems”. Great price, great size, you can’t go wrong – or can you?

After returning to home with the new USB stick in hand, I plugged it into my PC. Everything appeared fine and everything worked fine too. Then I wanted to register this at Memory Technologies (Kingston distributor in Sri Lanka), but then only I found that this is not some thing sold through them. But as I know many shops here bring stuff directly I tried verifying this at Kingston Asia web site, and the reply mail stated like this.

You have entered the following information:

Serial Number: TC08608-01303044
License Key: E975GX1-03B0610D
Email Address: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
The flash memory product you inquired was already registered by another user, so it may not be authentic Kingston memory product.  We suggest that you double check the information on the product label. (Refer to the Kingston Verification website for details).

So I though of dropping a mail to memory.lk explaining the stuff and their reply was this.

Dear Nimal,

We thank you very much for your email. Customers like you are neccassary to vouch for the awareness campaigns we try to drive into customers. As you would have noticed in our registration page we go to great lengths to show customers what the original products look like. As you must now be aware the product you have purchased would not match the outward appearance of the original kingston product. – to say the least!!
 
All in not lost for you; please bring your product to our service center located at No.14 Palmyrah avenue Colombo 3. We will try our best to help you recover your investment.

….

 
Thanks & Best Regards
MEMETEC.

Then today I though I’d go to that shop where I bought and ask for a refund or a genuine replacement. I went there at around 3.30pm today. There when I just took the Memory stick (with the cover) out of my bag and gave it to a salesperson there, he didn’t ask anything from me and said to another on saying, “Here is another one seems not working, give him a replacement”. It sounded little crazy and told him my problem is not that but this one is not genuine. That’s when we noticed colours in the faces of many sales guys there. Most of them started talking with eyes, and he then agreed to give a replacement for that, without any further questions. Manager was saying “… get one of those from ‘the other model’..”, and was speaking more with his eyes with the sales person.

Two things we could derive from this:

  1. They have been getting many of the sold one returned as not working.
  2. They are aware they are selling fake/counterfeit products of Kingston DataTraveler.

So I demanded him as they are selling counterfeits, I prefer a refund, or else with a genuine one.
He promised he would replace it with a genuine one, but it won’t validate with memory.lk, but with Kingston Asia, as he claimed “… we don’t sell products got from memory.lk, but we directly get them from Singapore”. I though its an OK deal, provided that I could come back on another day if verification fails again. So he gave me the replacement one, and it was not a surprise that its of a different model (DTI/4GB). As I had no time to talk further, returned home with the replacement.

And finally when I verified this replaced one it appeared to be genuine. Done..!!

You have entered the following information:

Serial Number: KC10965-00069150
License Key: G888GX1-3770840D
Email Address: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
The flash memory product you inquired about has been verified to be an authentic Kingston product.  All Kingston memory modules carry a manufacturer warranty.   Thank you for selecting Kingston.

Lessons (for me):

  1. Pay attention even when I buy little things.
  2. Try to buy from local distributors or their agents.
  3. Try to do verifications on-line, many products have on their web site.
  4. Write a post when something like this happens, but try to take photos, audio or video… 🙂

Some links :

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Tech Notes

Learn the Easy Way – TechVideos.com

www.TechVideos.com 
www.TechVideos.com 

This is a web site I found while random surfing. TechVideos.com is devoted to providing the highest quality, educational training videos on the latest software releases for “free”. The site emphasises on FREE Videos and claims everything on this site is free.

These free training videos will save hours of training time. Watch as an expert walks you through complex training in just a few minutes. The site seems to be fairly young, but has got some good tutorials on,

  • Adobe Photoshop CS3
  • Adobe Flash CS3
  • Adobe Dreamweaver CS3
  • Microsoft Word 2007
  • Microsoft Excel 2007
  • Microsoft Access 2007
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2007
  • CSS, SEO, and other videos

Also the site’s tutorial videos are bit slow in loading, may be my connection was too slow.

Start learning NOW!

Disclaimer: Standard disclaimers apply.

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Tech Notes

Jabbim – for a better Jabber/XMPP

Jabbim client

Jabbim is a client for communication over XMPP/Jabber protocol, written in the Python language using Qt (4.3), PyQt (4.3) and Pyxl library, which is a part of the client. The aim of the Jabbim client is to make Jabber approachable for common people, so it is a client for common users and beginners. Because of this philosophy the Jabbim client might not suit everyone.[1]

Jabbim runs on Windows, and mostly all flavours of GNU/Linux. Its current stable version is 0.4.3 and it claim to provide the following in this version. So we cannot expect much from it but seems a clean one to try at least.

  • Working groupchat
  • Support for publishing of
    • user’s mood
    • user’s activity
    • the title of the currently played song
  • New plugins for
    • automatic updates
    • file folder sharing (EasyShare)
    • easy work with Jabbim disk (Jabbim Disk Manager)
    • Jabbim games
  • The possibility to download new emoticon (smiley) sets and new plugins
  • Direct access to user support from Help menu

[1: http://dev.jabbim.cz/jabbim/wiki/en/index%5D