01
Sep 13

Roadtrip to North Karnataka Historical Circuit – Hampi, Aihole, Pattadakal and Badami

1-DSC01669-002

How it Began

In the past many years I had considered visiting Hampi on multiple occasions. People advised me that it was far,  the roads were bad and  there were not many good places to stay which dissuaded me in the past.

Every December our company has the annual shutdown. In December of 2012 I was resigned to the fate of lazing around in Bangalore. At work everyone had a plan to go somewhere, and I could not resist. Hampi was back in my radar, and with less than 24 hours to plan and prepare we  were off to Hampi on 22nd December 6 AM.

When we returned 3 days later, this was the most memorable road trip every. I am going back again in a few years and this time at least for a couple of weeks.

The Planning

Decisions was made that we were going to Hampi next morning. Started with planning the route on Google Maps. With full circuit of Hampi, Aihole, Pattadakal and Badami the road trip with be roughly around 1200 KMs. Hospet appeared to be a good place to setup base.

Hotel

Started looking for decent hotels in Hospet and started calling up. Found that there was a Royal Orchid in Hospet and price was reasonable. Called them up, they said they were all full but will call back in couple of hours if they can accommodate. They never called back. On ClearTrip.com, I found rooms available on Royal Orchid, so booked it there.

When returning from work in the evening, topped up the fuel tank and check the tire pressure. Stopped at the neighboring Super Market to pick up some snacks, some chocolates and some canned drinks – left every thing in the car. Packing for the trip is easy, as wife took care of it. In the evening

Route

I needed to determine the route to take. Google maps gave three options. I read a few posts in Team-BHP.com, one recent post suggested we take the Hiriyur-Bellary-Hospet route and I decided this will be the route to take as the route through Chitradurga  takes longer. Bangalore to Hospet via Bellary

The Drive

Bangalore-Hiriyur – NH4

We started at 6 AM, road were clear. When we reached IISC the road was dug up  and had to go through some inside streets. We had Google Maps navigation on the phone, it guided us easily through the diversion. We than took the Neelamangla expressway  headed towards Tumkur. The road was pretty good – four lane high way and easy to maintain decent speed. Once after Tumkur there were multiple flyovers under construction on the highway where the traffic was diverted to the service lane.  All through the highway we came across multiple loaded trucks tumble sideways. In all these years of driving on India highways, never saw so many trucks in that state in a short span of road.

Hiriyur-Bellary Bypass – AH47

Once you we got into Hiriyur, Google Navigation asked  us to  move into the service lane just before a flyover. I was skeptical as I saw no road sign anywhere. Nonetheless we turned into the service lane which was narrow and there was a big goat market by it. Literally I had to drive through the herds of goat.

After half a KM or so there was a board saying Bellary to the right.  Had Google Navigation not told me, I would have never seen this board under the flyover and would have gone past it towards Chitradurga. At this point we were onto a 2 lane state highway towards Bellary. Within minutes of crossing Hiriyur, traffic became sparse. We came across multiple hers of goad as we drove along.

The road was in excellent state. Once in a while we came across slower vehicles but overtaking was easy. Throughout this leg we had a Baleno with large Hella lamps as company, at occasion the Baleno would be the pilot car and on others we  would take the lead. Google Navigation guided us towards the Bellary bypass. So far roads were much better than our expectation, but the road beyond was altogether was different story.

Bellary Bypass-Hospet

As we got into the Bellary bypass the road became bad to worse. Adding salt to injury, they charged INR 10 as toll. There were gigantic speed breakers and potholed. The road continued to get worse till we cross the Jindal Steel Plant. After that road got better. All through the fellows in the Baleno kept company till just before Hospet. This is a good practice on the unpredictable India highways.

Some 20 KMs before Hospet we finally stopped. I had been driving non stop since morning. We reached the hotel around 2 PM. We took the same route on the way back to Bangalore.

Continue reading →


31
Aug 11

Crucial M4 SSD Now Faster with Firmware 009, Benchmarked !! Best Value SATA3 SSD

Crucial M4 SSD

Crucial has released firmware version 009 for the M4 SSD line. The firmware version jumps from 002 directly to 009, giving an indication that this is a significant update. The 009 firmware release notes make some big claims of improvement.

We will test to find out if the new firmware improves the already fantastic drive.

Crucial M4 SSD firmware 009 vs 001

Test System

  • CPU – AMD Phenom X6 1055
  • RAM – 8 GB DDR3 1300
  • Disk – Crucial C4  64 GB (CT064M4SSD2 )
  • Graphic Card – Zoatc Geforce GT 460 768Mb
  • SATA version – 3.0 (6 Gbps)
  • OS – Windows 7 Ultimate Sp1 – 64 bit

 AS SSD Results

AS SSD Benchmark 1.6.4237.30508 - Higher is Better

With AS SSD Benchmark, we find impressive gains in read speed. The 100 MB/s improvement in sequential read is striking. There is also gain in Write , but not a significant as we see with Read. Crucial lives up to the claims in the Release Notes

Release Date: 08/25/2011

Change Log:

  • Changes made in version 0002 (m4 can be updated to revision 0009 directly from either revision 0001 or 0002)
  • Improved throughput performance.
  • Increase in PCMark Vantage benchmark score, resulting in improved user experience in most operating systems.
  • Improved write latency for better performance under heavy write workloads.
  • Faster boot up times.
  • Improved compatibility with latest chipsets.
  • Compensation for SATA speed negotiation issues between some SATA-II chipsets and the SATA-III device.
  • Improvement for intermittent failures in cold boot up related to some specific host systems.

via Crucial.com Product Downloads – Firmware Updates.

Installing the Firmware

Installing the firmware was straight forward.

  • Download the firmware from http://www.crucial.com/support/firmware.aspx (Caution – Make sure you get the correct firmware for your drive)
  • Unzip the download firmware, it turns out to be a very small iso disk image
  • Burn the iso to a CD using your favorite CD burner
  • Keep the CD in the drive and restart the computer
  • During the BIOS POST press the appropriate key to bring up the boot selection menu. Select boot from CD ROM
  • This boot into some kind of live Linux ( at this stage I felt I wasted a CD, I could have tried burning the iso to a USB flash drive – never mind 🙁 )
  • Once the live CD starts it will try to locate if you have any upgradable drive installed.
  • When the utility find the M4, type yes. Upgrade will be done in 10-15 seconds
  • Reboot  and enjoy the new speed gain of your Crucial M4

Final Words

The is good job from Crucial and a big win for the end users. When I had purchased the Crucial C4, I found it a better value for money compared to OCZ Agility3. With this update, the Crucial C4 SSD is likely the best value for money SSD now.


12
Jul 11

Intel X25-V vs Crucial M4-Read Only Benchmark – Ubuntu Linux 11.04

Results of read-only comparison between between Intel X25-V SSDSA2M040G2GC and Crucial M4 CT064M4SSD2 solid state disk drives (SSD).

Test System

Phenom II X6 1055, 8 GB DDR3 1600, 890 GX board SATA3 6 Gbps

Ubuntu Linux 11.04 default kernel – Ubuntu SMP Mon Apr 11 03:31:24 UTC 2011 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

Gnome Disk Utility Read Benchmark

Intel X25-V
SSDSA2M040G2GC
Crucial M4
CT064M4SSD2
Disk Capacity40 GB60 GB
SATA InterfaceSATA 2 - 3 GbpsSATA 3 - 6 Gbps
Minimum Read177.6 MB/s543.4 MB/s
Maximum Read282.3 MB/s554.7 MB/s
Average Read267.3 MB/s547.1 MB/s
Average Access Time0.1 ms0.1 ms
 

Crucial M4

Crucial M4 

Intel X25V

Intel X25V

 

hdparm Read Benchmark

Intel X25-V SSDSA2M040G2GC SSD:

~$ sudo sudo hdparm -tT /dev/sda

/dev/sda:

Timing cached reads: 6686 MB in 2.00 seconds = 3344.10 MB/sec

Timing buffered disk reads: 1408 MB in 3.00 seconds = 468.82 MB/sec

Crucial M4 CT064M4SSD2 SSD:

~$ sudo sudo hdparm -tT /dev/sdb

/dev/sdb:

Timing cached reads: 6726 MB in 2.00 seconds = 3363.65 MB/sec

Timing buffered disk reads: 552 MB in 3.00 seconds = 183.86 MB/sec

 


27
Dec 10

Benchmarked WD Green 1TB 64MB vs Seagate 7200.12 1TB 32MB on Ubuntu Linux

Results of read-only comparison between between Western Digital WD10EARS-00Y5B1 and Seagate ST31000358AS hard disk drives (HDD).

Test System

Phenom II X6 1055, 8 GB DDR3 1600, 890 GX board SATA3 6 Gbps

Linux Mint (Ubuntu 10.10) – Kernel  2.6.35-23-generic #41-Ubuntu SMP Wed Nov 24 11:55:36 UTC 2010 x86_64 GNU/Linux

Gnome Disk Utility Read Benchmark

WD Green 1 TB WD10EARS-00Y5B1 Seagate 7200.12 1 TB ST31000358AS
Disk Capacity1 TB1 TB
Disk Cache64 MB32 MB
Rotation Speed less than 7200 rpm (variable)7200 rpm
Advanced FormatYesNo
Minimum Read48.7 MB/s67.6 MB/s
Maximum Read117.6 MB/s133.5 MB/s
Average Read86.9 MB/s107.8 MB/s
Average Access Time14.7 ms13.7
wd-green-1tb

Western Digital Green 1 TB

st-7200-12-1tb

Seagate ST7200-12 1 TB

hdparm Read Benchmark

Western Digital WD10EARS-00Y5B1 hdd
$ sudo hdparm -tT /dev/sda
/dev/sda:
Timing cached reads: 6714 MB in 2.00 seconds = 3358.17 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 326 MB in 3.01 seconds = 108.40 MB/sec

 

Seagate ST31000358AS hdd
$ sudo hdparm -tT /dev/sdb
/dev/sdb:
Timing cached reads: 6786 MB in 2.00 seconds = 3394.21 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 374 MB in 3.01 seconds = 124.25 MB/sec

Temperature

The Seagate ST31000358AS  hdd is cooler on my test set-up with temperature going up to +10 C above ambient, while the Western Digital Green WD10EARS-00Y5B1 hdd going up top +13 C over the ambient temperature.

Conclusion

The Seagate drive is significantly faster than the WD Green drive of the same capacity. The Seagate drive though is faster, but is  noisy –  when the spindle spins the noise can be annoying at time. WD Green is whisper  quiet and consumes less power. The WD Green hdd is slightly warmer in operation compared to the Seagate 7200.12.

My recommendation is the WD Green HDD WD10EARS-00Y5B1, the speed is adequate for a average desktop, low power and silent. If you are looking for performance use this WD Green WD10EARS-00Y5B1 with a SSD as a boot disk.


25
Dec 10

OlivePad VT-1000 – 7 inch Android 2.2 Tablet Hands-on Review

P1020052 (Modified)

OlivePad VT1000

OlivePad VT1000 is a seven inch Android 2.2 Tablet computer from India based Olive Telecom.

OlivePad has been selling for a  few months now, but it has not been able to create the interest Notion Ink has been able to generate  on its yet to be released Adam tablet.   I had been on a hunt for a decent Android Tablet for many weeks and never came across the OlivePad until one day saw one on eBay India.   This led me to Olive Telecom’s website where I found out that OlivePad is available on retail at Croma stores across India.  I picked up my OlivePad from the new Croma Store on the Outer Ring Road in Bangalore for INR 23999 (cheaper than the online prices at eBay.in).

This review is based on my hands on experience of using the OlivePad in the last three weeks.  My familiarity with Android devices which includes a Samsung Galaxy S phone running Android 2.2, a Samsung Galaxy 3 that my wife owns.  In between I also used a ten inch Chinese Apad ZT180 tablet running  Android 2.1.

Lets begin the review  with the Quick Specs of the Olive Pad VT1000.

OSAndroid 2.2 Froyo
Processor ARM11 600MHz
Chipset Qualcomm MSM7227
Battery Li Polymer 3240 mAh
Screen 7 inch 800x400 LCD with Capacitive Touch screen
Connectivity 802.11bg wifi, Bluetooth 2.1 EDR, GPS, GSM, 3G
Memory 512 MB RAM
Storage 512 MB built in Flash, and my unit came bundled with a 16 GB micro-SD card
Camera Rear 3 mega pixel, front VGA
Audio microphone, stereo speakers, 3.5 mm stereo audio out
Others G-sensor, e-compass, ambient light sensor.

Hardware and Build

Design

The Olive Tab is rectangular with glass in front with a shiny black plastic in the rear. The sides are aluminum. The sides are not tapered like the Galaxy Tab which makes it look thicker. Nevertheless it’s comfortable to hold. The key here is the 7 inch form factor that is small enough to hold with hone hand. At 380 gm it’s not comfortable holding it for  long duration. However, its much comfortable using the OlivePad tablet  with the leather diary  styled jacket.

Processor Speed and Responsiveness

OlivePad comes with a 600 MHz ARM11 processor. The Tablet is  very responsive and I do not find any perceptible real world difference between the Galaxy S and the OlivePad in terms of responsiveness. However, ARM11 on paper appears slower compared to Cortex A8 chips being used in most recent Android Tablet, and not to mention the upcoming dual core Cortex A9 chips like the Nvidia Tegra2. Bottom line, the ARM11 chip in the OlivePd is adequate to give a very good user experience.

Storage and Memory

The SIM card and the SD card slots can be accessed from the side.OlivePad came bundles with a 16 GB microSD card. The internal flash is just 512 MB, which just leaves 173 MB for user applications. I wish OlivePad had at least  1 or 2 GH internal flash storage. With Froyo apps can be moved to the SD card, but still a lot of junk accumulates in the internal flash storage. The RAM is 512 MB is  adequate and at par with most of the high end Android tablets or phones.

Screen

The screen at best can be called average.   It looks nice  and vibrant when looking straight, but at the slightest angle the colours start getting weird. It indicates a cheap TN panel. I am not saying that it is not usable, but this no iPAD IPS panel or the Galaxy S Super AMOLED display.  Fonts look good and crisp providing a good web browsing experience and reading eBooks is a good experience. I would suggest giving the bundled Aldiko reader the skip and installing FBReader or Cool Reader from the market.

Audio

Two speakers have been places on the top and the bottom side of OlivePad. The speaks are excellent for the form factor.  These are clear and loader than the average tablet speaker and better than some Netbook speaker. a +1 to Olive Telecom fro this.  This is a great when playing games and  I can even dare to watch YouTube videos without a headphone.

Continue reading →