Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hi Netflix! Good to to see you again!!

Well Netflix does not play in UAE. This summer, my wife went to India for my daughter's vacation and came back fuming. Netflix was working at her brother's place in Mumbai and she was extremely unhappy that she could not have it here in UAE. Now my wife is a BIG netflix fan. Its netflix that kept her going during her stay in the US. She is a great movie aficionado. She must have watched more than 300 movies during our stay in the US. Not being able to view Netflix movies was perhaps the only regret she has about leaving the US.

So, here I was, tasked with bringing Netflix back in her life. After a lot of hand wringing and researching I finally hooked up to netflix. Don't ask me how. VPNs and US credit card addresses etc. It took me a while but for about 3 weeks now, we are watching Netflix and my wife loves me a little more...  

New lease of life for my Old Laptop

The year was 2008. I went berserk with laptop shopping. I bought 3 laptops that year. A Toshiba for my wife, a small netbook and a Vaio for self.
Over the next few years the Toshiba was the first one to go. It went bad after around 3 years of use. The battery conked first, then the wifi and the keyboard. The netbook had some keyboard challenges but I could sell it after 4 years of use. The Vaio stayed with me. It was $1000, a mid to slightly premium range. It had a great keyboard, good resolution screen 1600X900 and it served me well. It's 4 GB RAM was more than enough back in the day. 250GB HDD, adequate. My small development shop, was built on the Vaio. I loved it.

Lately, my daughter started using it regularly. Her school assignments require her to have a laptop and Vaio played the willing companion. And then a couple of weeks back  the hard drive finally gave up. After 7 years of faithful service, it was time... I got a new Lenovo and got my daughter back on.

But all this while I was a little reluctant to let go of my old friend. I reached out to the IT infra friends at office and they suggested to replace the hard drive rather than just junking the laptop. A friend suggested I tried the new SSDs. He swore by them and said just a hard drive upgrade can transform the laptop. The SSD in AbuDhabi costs just around AED 200 for a 120GB drive. It was worth the gamble.

Last Friday I got a Kingston SDD on my laptop. While they readily changed the drive, they refused to load Vista (my old OS) or load a pirated version of Win 7. The new Win7 license was around AED 450 making the entire upgrade untenable. After a lot of back and forth and research, I decided to tap open source. I downloaded Ubuntu 14.04 on the stick, used Yumi to make the stick bootable and set up the Old Vaio on Ubuntu. There was some initial challenge in making a bootable stick but then it was soon behind us. Installation went smooth and I was up and running in less than 30 min.

Once I launched it, I was in for a magical ride... The laptop booted in about 20 seconds and I was on TOI page within 50 secs of switching the laptop on. The browser zipped and the pages flew... It was breathtaking... Well, I've now set up my little dev shop on Ubuntu. It took me a couple of days to get all the niggles of my dev env sorted out.

Now I'm on it and happy I made the call. Hail Ubuntu. Hail the Open source...