Sunday, November 18, 2012


I recently upgraded from Win7 to Win8. On both of my laptops (I’m going to point out what doesn’t work because they are more interesting to recount than saying that my MATLAB programs work without any fuss!):

Acer Aspire 5610Z

The ‘new’ apps Photos, Music, and Video don’t find files in the respective libraries, which they are supposed to do by default!


It’s not that these are the primary apps that I have to use so am not much bothered about their dis-functionality. But I liked the Music app in Win8’s Release Preview and if they worked in Win8RP, why the hell don’t they work in Win8?

The shutdown seems to proceed all right but a message always pops up on restart: “Your PC ran into a problem…”:


I just hit “Send Details” and get on with my life.

Fujitsu LifeBook T4410

Fujitsu Shock Sensor and OmniPass Fingerprint Reader are not compatible with Win8. Also mentioned on that page is the fact that the automatic rotation of screen from notebook to tablet mode won’t happen anymore due to Fujitsu (Tablet Controls) settings. That will be taken care by Win8… But in my case, it doesn’t and I have to hit the relevant physical button (see below) to change the screen orientation every time I change modes.

All drivers work fine but the driver for Security Panel Buttons needed to be uninstalled & reinstalled while having UAC settings turned off for the buttons (incl. the one for changing screen orientation) to work. Also doing a few restarts may not hurt before you try to tweak the drivers.

Advice: Suspend BitLocker Encryption & Turn Off TPM before upgrading and be damn sure those panel buttons work after upgrade before you shut off the laptop or you could be in a hell lot of trouble.
Catch: TPM has to be turned on through BIOS after upgrade so if you’ve forgotten that password, leave it alone. It took me 7 tries to get the password right and you do know that the computer locks after 3 wrong tries, don’t you? Thankfully, the button panel was working and I could get on after entering the security code. Anyway, resuming encryption is no hassle after the TPM is turned on.

The webcam doesn’t work in the ‘Modern UI’ apps. It works fine on the Desktop apps. This is when you have Fj Camera (drivers provided by Fujitsu) installed. If you install Microsoft’s USB Video Device driver instead, the webcam works everywhere but the image is flipped! So back to square 1.

I like to think of these as ‘hardware’ issues… Nothing much Win8 can do about them but let me bring to your notice 3 ‘major’ Win8 dum-bass-ery:

1. Win8 sets the maximum brightness level of the screen depending on who knows what. That means you can’t increase the brightness if you want / need to but just decrease it, which is infuriating at times!

2. There is some issue with ‘Personalization’. First of all, the Bing Dynamic theme doesn’t ‘install’ properly. Secondly, the background chooser screen is too slow to load (it was so even in Win7) and then the ‘default’ Windows Desktop Background folder doesn’t show subfolders. [Well, these are issues related to restart I guess so your mileage may vary… as I can now see subfolders when choosing the WDB folder.]

3. The on-screen keyboard doesn’t appear on its own in desktop apps. Let me be precise: In Win7, when you clicked / focused on a text field, a small keyboard icon would pop up near the blinking cursor and you could bring forth the OSK by clicking on that icon. Even if there was no icon (like for gtalk), there would always be a floating edge of the keyboard at the screen’s edge that you could click and get the OSK back. But now in Win8 there are no such visual cues to make it appear on-screen. The keyboard’s icon just sits there on the taskbar and if you’re like me who likes to hide the taskbar to get more screen-space then it is frustrating to click on the text field, go to the task bar, and then click the keyboard icon to make it slide-up on the screen!

Win8 OSK

This is taking a step backward from the better functionality that was provided in the previous OS version, very much like the Live Mesh & SkyDrive debacle. I can not add much to whatever has been said about LM vs. SD already but let me rant away anyway. Why would you go from a ‘generic framework of sharing solutions’ (LM) to a ‘specific partial solution to a sharing problem, which was already taken care by the generic framework’ (SD)? In LM, arbitrary folders could be synced arbitrarily to arbitrary (compatible) devices (SD was just another ‘device’) and shared & synced with arbitrary (≤10) people. This is what I mean by ‘generic’. In SD, only folders in the SkyDrive folder can be synced to ‘arbitrary’ devices with SD now being a permanent device (not that it’s bad but let’s leave that for others to discuss) and they can be shared (just shared and not synced) with arbitrary (?) people. That’s all I have to say for someone to be able to compare what has happened during the transition from LM to SD. [Well… thanks for making things clear. (umm… ‘confusing’ really! Winking smile)]

With the recent update to SD, now at least you can choose which folders (the folders still need to be in SkyDrive folder) sync to which devices (the web storage is still a permanent ‘device’ but that’s expected) but still no syncing of shared folders.


How can you write “Everything but files shared with you will sync” as an option and not have a thought: “You know what, there should be another option before this saying that Everything including files shared with you will sync”? Anyway, that’s that. [Yeah… and don’t worry if you did not get the head and tail of any of it, Smile I did not either and after enjoying being called dum-bass by him, I figured out that he is trying to state the fact that only your folders are visible in the SD location. Makes complete sense, yes. But if he had shared 3 GB of data with me and I already had 2 GB, I would be losing 5 GB of the 25 GB available to me whereas currently it’s just 2 GB. It is meant to work in a more efficient way, or No? – No. Ideally (efficiently), the folder shared by me showing up in your SD would be more like a placeholder (that links to my SD) and so shouldn’t cost you any storage space. And on top of that, it gives you a choice to sync it to your laptop(s) too if you like (provided your HDD permits)!]

Happy Upgrading!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


I remember to have taken really pathetic photographs of the moon. The samples are below.

ISO: 1600, Focal Length: 22.4mm

ISO: 1600, Focal Length: 70mm

Your immediate question then is ‘Why are you showing me such samples?’. Well… from there I get to tell you how not to click bad photographs. I was using Canon’s Powershot SX220. And definitely it was not the fault of the camera for the shots to have come out poor, the settings were such. I had set the ISO to 1600 in these pictures and always believed that higher ISO is to be used in dark settings but I realized that it is only partially true, i.e., when you are in low-lit rooms or closed spaces. My Superpartner told me that “Moon is not dark and hence it is very obvious that good pictures won’t come out when I set the ISO to the maximum”. (He talks louder than his normal voice when he is discussing technical stuff!)

Anyway, ignoring him, I was in my native place last fortnight and I tried playing with the manual mode of my Panasonic camera DMC-ZS20. And one picture came out to be interesting. But before I go into showing you the nice one, I will share with you the steps that I followed to get it.

Having learnt about ISO, I started working with Exposure and tried controlling the amount of light reaching the sensors. I fixed up the ISO to 100 and changed the Exposure. As you can see in the pictures below, when the exposure was half a sec, I got a very shaky picture and it appears like two half-moons. It is a bad click from any angle but I have some reasons for liking it too Winking smile. So ½s seems to be too long as the moon is not only a white spot but the hand-shake has been captured too! Then I reduced the exposure time and saw the shakiness disappearing as well as the brightness reducing till at 1/30s, things seemed just about right. It’s still dim as you can notice and to correct that ISO could have been increased but perhaps zooming was a better option at that point.

Exposure: 1/2s

Exposure: 1/4s

Exposure: 1/8s

Exposure: 1/30s

The following .gif file will show you the improvements as Exposure is being changed in the four pictures above.

My next plan then was to increase the Zoom (the above are shot at a modest 25.9mm focal length). Higher zoom resulted in blurred photographs too because of the camera shakes. But you want the lens zoomed out to max focal length so that you get the best possible close-up of the Moon. So the real issue is to deal with the Aperture settings along with the Exposure. The following shots (as you can tell) are from a different night.

ISO: 100, Focal length: 35.6mm, Exposure: 1/20s, Aperture: f/8

ISO: 400, Focal Length: 41.3mm, Exposure: 1/30s, Aperture: f/8

Well, so I put my knowledge through first-hand experience of ISO (keep it low), Zoom (as much as possible), Exposure (low to the extent that the details are sharp), Aperture (let as much light to fall on the sensors as possible but avoid over-exposure) together and finally, here is the self-proclaimed nice image.

ISO: 200, Focal Length: 41.3mm, Exposure: 1/160s, Aperture: f/8

I’m still an amateur and currently wondering if there could have been the best picture that I could have shared with you with a setting of say, ISO: 200; Focal Length: 41.3 mm; Exposure: 1/60s; Aperture: f/5.4. Who knows?

Acknowledgements: My Superpartner for creating the .gif file, for teaching me all these technical details and for the beautiful Cherry-red Panasonic camera itself.