A plan of action for 2009

A plan of action for 2009
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First Published: Tue, Dec 30 2008. 05 39 AM IST

Updated: Mon, Jan 19 2009. 09 57 PM IST
•Defrag your PC’s hard disk every 15 days; remove all unused icons and programs from your desktop.
•Organize your music library and save it all in one folder on iTunes.
•Upgrade all anti-virus and anti-spyware software and firewalls every weekend.
•Set up a backup system to ensure that all your important files are available on an external hard disk or a Web page.
•Playing games isn’t work. Try to reduce the hours you spend playing games. Take a break.
SNAP
The battle of the imaging giants is about to hit a whole new frontline with the
release of Canon’s EOS 5D Mark II. The Mark II’s goalpost-shifting ability to grab 21.1 megapixel RAW images while simultaneously capturing high-definition video and sound makes it the ultimate tool for citizen journalists. The full-frame 24x36mm sensor takes full advantage of wide-angle lenses, while Canon’s new DIGIC four-image processor provides unprecedented noise control when shooting in low light and high ISOs.
Sports fans can also take heart: The Mark II rattles off 3.9 frames per second, a marked improvement over its predecessor. Happy shooting in 2009.
—David Stott
CONNECT
If 2008 was about smartphones, handsets only promise to get smarter in 2009. Add to that flashing razor-sharp displays, faster processing speeds, improved
interfaces, integrated videoconferencing, improved battery life, and vastly ameliorated cameras. Handsets powered by Google’s Android operating system are expected to hit stores early next year from a slew of manufacturers. These include Samsung, Asus, Huawei, Sciphone and Garmin. Also, watch out for more handsets and other handheld devices based on the 32nm version of the Intel Atom processor in late 2009.
Closer to home, the Indian market is set to welcome the Nokia N97 (3.5 inch screen, 48GB, Qwerty slider), LG Renoir (8 megapixel camera, touchscreen), Motorola AURA (stainless steel body, scratch-resistant 62-carat sapphire crystal lens), and RIM BlackBerry Storm (touchscreen debutant).
In the meantime, the search for the ultimate iPhone killer will continue. All this and more, even as strong rumours of a stripped-down 4GB Apple iPhone for $99—as also those of an unlocked version—continue to be rife.
—Ashish Bhatia
PROTECT
The year is ending in the now well-rehearsed manner, at least as far as anti-viruses are concerned. Malicious code claiming to be ‘Antivirus 2009’ has spread
to a number of computers. These antics notwithstanding, the anti-virus industry has also launched its salvo before the year has ended. Norton, Kaspersky, BitDefender, McAfee and TrendMicro have all come out with anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall software for next year.
Most of this software is available through retail stores or paid-for downloads. One word of advice: Although anti-virus software is always available, it must be updated to ensure that it actually protects you.
Hopefully 2009 will be a virus-free year.
—Arjun Jassal
CLEAN
Hard disks evolved into a necessary evil at the turn of the century. While their capacities have skyrocketed, they still crash when you need them the most and if you mistreat them, they punish you by slowing down your entire computer. Yet there are ways you can take soothe your computer.
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•Keep only what you need: Installing a dozen programs you barely use isn’t a good idea. Delete the rest.
•Empty the recycle bin: Deleted files still take up space and burden your computer if you don’t completely remove them. Make sure you empty the trash from time to time.
•Let Windows help you: Click on Start >Programs >Accessories >System Tools >Disk clean up. This will tell you what you don’t need and how you can remove it.
•Defrag your computer: Right-click on the disk in ‘My Computer’, and select defrag. This will make sure your disk is using the memory more efficiently, which speeds up your computer.
—Arjun Jassal
PLAY
Polish, style and surprising substance took centre stage in games in 2008, a year filled with both big-name, hard-core gaming experiences and casual,
non-gamer titles such as the hugely successful Wii Fit. 2009 looks to continue that trend.
Survival Horror fans can look forward to Resident Evil 5 (X360 and PS3) in March. Then there is Heavy Rain (PS3), Brutal Legend (X360 and PS3) and Alpha Protocol (X360, PS3 and PC).
And whoever said the PC is dead? Expect two titles from Blizzard Entertainment in 2009: the first instalments of real-time strategy game Starcraft 2 and action, RPG Diablo III. Casual gamers can expect the hugely popular life simulator The Sims 3 (PC) in February. The Bioware-developed multiplayer RPG Star Wars: The Old Republic (PC) is slated for a mid-year release, and for comic book fans, there is Wolverine (X360, PS3) and Batman: Arkham Asylum (X360, PS3, PC).
—Krish Raghav
SEE
Carry a hand-held data projector the size of a mobile phone in your pocket. Make a presentation to a small audience using any improvised screen: the back of an airplane seat or anywhere you can spot up to five feet or more of clean surface.
Called a Pico Projector, expect this device to fundamentally change the need for displays in business presentations, or for gaming and video entertainment. These hand-held projectors use the latest in LED technology, are incredibly light and work on batteries. Unlike conventional projectors with lamps, the Pico’s LED system can last much longer, at around 20,000 hours.
Based on a new technology invented by Texas Instruments, it has a starting price of Rs22,000 (approximately). Expect select mobile phones to ship with Pico projectors built in for a richer multimedia experience.
Discover more at www.microvision.com.
—Niyam Bhushan
KNOW
In 2008, terms such as BluRay, location-based services, netbooks, geotagging, Web services, blogging, convergence and 3G moved out of geekdom and came closer. What do we wait for now?
Web 3.0: Coined by The New York Times writer John Markoff—and also known as Semantic Web—this encompasses third-generation Internet services that will grow more “intelligent” in 2009 by employing natural language searches, machine learning, data mining and artificial intelligence technologies, instead of throwing up dumb keyword-based data.
Virtualization: Simply put, it involves running programs and accessing data in virtual storage—regardless of their actual physical location— thereby eliminating the need for data duplication on devices.
Cloud computing: Minted as a metaphor for the Internet in network diagrams, this comprises Google apps-like capability to develop and deliver software as a service (SaaS) for consumers using Internet technologies.
—Ashish Bhatia
DRIVE
2009 will have as many as 30 new car models, and plenty of variants to keep you busy. This despite a slowdown!
•Honda’s Jazz hatch will, in my opinion, set a segment benchmark. Prices should be in the Rs5-6.5 lakh bracket.
•Mahindra’s Xylo and Tata’s X-Over will both light up the MUV space. M&M seems to have a winner on its hands, with two engine options and a great suspension. M&M will also refresh its Scorpio.
•Volkswagen will keep itself busy with the gorgeous Passat CC—a four-door coupe that will come in the first quarter of 2009. Expect it at Rs24 lakh. VW will also launch the Tiguan compact SUV.
•Tata’s alliance partner Fiat will finally launch the much delayed Linea with diesel and petrol options. Prices are expected to range between Rs6.8 lakh and Rs8.6 lakh. Expect Fiat’s Bravo and Grande Punto by the end of the year.
•The small car picks for next year will be the people’s car, Tata Nano, and Maruti Suzuki’s WagonR replacement,the Splash.
— Siddharth Vinayak Patankar, Editor (Auto), NDTV
TOUCH
James Bond movie Quantum of Solace shows an impressive sequence
with surface computing. Apple’s latest MacBook laptops and even the iPhone 3G incorporate several aspects of this intuitive method of allowing people to interact with digital devices. You can use computers for the most sophisticated tasks without a keyboard or mouse, using nothing more than your hands and gestures to manipulate objects, just like you would in real life. Expect this paradigm shift to impact how we interact with all sorts of digital devices, and in newer categories through 2009. Microsoft’s Surface, for example, is nothing but a table, where the tabletop is a touch-sensitive screen that displays information and responds to hand swipes and gestures. Learning to use a computer for the most sophisticated tasks will suddenly get a whole lot easier.
—Niyam Bhushan
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First Published: Tue, Dec 30 2008. 05 39 AM IST