Dec 28, 2011

Total Lunar Eclipse Images and superstitions associated with eclipses

On December 10, 2011 we were fortunate enough to be in Shegaon to be able to watch the total lunar eclipse from completely non-polluted area of Anand Sagar. Air pollution and lights in the cities often deteriorate the quality of viewing such events. 

I tried to capture that beauty into the camera, but that wasn't easy since I do not have DSLR camera. I had to do some experiments in different modes in my digital camera. I used full 40x zoom (10x optical and 4x digital) and finally selected Shutter Speed Priority mode rather than Auto mode. Also at 40x zoom,  if you do not have the tripod, with even a slightest of handshake, the distant object goes out of focus quickly. So I sat on the floor and kept my camera on a bench so as to provide the support to the camera from beneath.  Even I needed to hold the breath for a while so as to reduce the body shake. With all these efforts, I could finally capture that beauty. 

Lets have a look at the clicks now.

Just before the start

In the last picture, moon is hardly visible. 

I always get amazed to see the celestial bodies moving in tandem and in perfect synchronisation. Equally fascinating is the fact that Indians had that knowledge, thousands of years ago and were able to do the precise calculations of timings for these events. 

At the same time, its not a happy feeling that in modern times people are more superstitious and deny themselves the opportunity to view such a spectacular event. And that is the case even with a highly educated class with a science background as well. 

Actually all these eclipses are just the game of shadows. Still people have some beliefs and do some acts, some of which are cited below:

1) Some monsters like Rahu, Ketu swallow Moon and the Sun at the time of eclipses. 

2) It is harmful for health to eat or drink during eclipses, even before actual eclipse gets visible and just the First Contact starts.

3) Taking a bath after the eclipse is over. (bathing is good otherwise for hygiene, but there is no necessity to do that after the eclipse)

4) Covering drinking water and eatables at home (now this we do in normal practice as well for maintaining hygiene, but people are more keen to do this during eclipses) 

5) Keeping Tulsi leaves on drinking water and eatables at home. 

6) Making donations so that eclipse comes to an end (donations are even good otherwise, but eclipse is certain to come to an end at a pre-defined precise time, whether you donate or not)

7) Keeping themselves immersed in holy river till the time eclipse is there.  

8) Its bad for eyes to see with naked eyes. ( It is true for Solar Eclipse, since the Sun being the brightest source of light is behind the moon and its rays are harmful for naked eyes. But in lunar eclipse, its purely the shadow of Earth on the moon and the intensity of light is actually even dimmer than the normal full moon. So it is perfectly safe to see the Lunar Eclipse with naked eyes)

9) The strength of evil spirits increases during eclipse and there are bad omens everywhere. Does that even need a comment here? 

10) One should not travel during the eclipse. 

11) Air is polluted during the eclipse. 

12) Pregnant women should not come out of the house during eclipse. 

Personally speaking I don't believe in any of these superstitions. I enjoyed the view with my complete family and we did that while eating as well.

Detailed post on our Shegaon visit is here:

Dec 26, 2011

Fixing error 8288 while upgrading first generation iPod touch to iOS 3.1

Recently I noticed that the price of upgrading the software in my Apple iPod touch 1st generation device to iOS 3.1 is $4.95 only. Earlier for an upgrade to iOS 2.0, it was $10.

I decided to upgrade and paid for downloading the iOS 3.1 from

However at the time of downloading the upgrade, I was getting error 8288 as under:

I was sure that there wasn't any kind of problem with my internet connection and I wasn't behind any firewall either.

So I tried to search for the possible fixes on Google and in Apple Support Communities as well. I came to know that there are lots of Apple users who are facing this problem, but there wasn't any solution offered in any of these forums.

So I contacted Apple Customer Support on email. But I wasn't getting any solution. In one of the forums, an Apple user with similar problem had posted that he too had contacted Apple Support for this and they just refunded the purchase price, rather than offering any solution.

Finally I did some more research on the internet and noticed that a lot of users facing this problem were using iTunes 10.5. So I decided to try and look for the workaround on my own and it worked. 

Then I informed Apple Customer Support that I have fixed the problem on my own and they can close the thread. 

To my surprise, Apple Customer Support asked me in return about how did I fix the problem. The excerpts from their mail are reproduced below in italics, verbatim:

"I'm so glad to hear that you were able to resolve the issue! Now, if you don't mind me asking, how did you fix it? That'd be great to know, so that I can provide this to my co-workers and other customers who have this issue still.

Thank you in advance! Take care. :)"

I told them that Apple is the company which doesn't provide anything to its customers, free of cost. They charge for software upgrades and even for Customer Support. So I informed them that I am also justified in expecting some sort of reward from them, in lieu of responding to their request and letting them know how did I fix that. 

My request was denied saying that Customer Support doesn't have any access to free products. I accepted that since I knew their limitations. Now I am sharing the workaround which I shared with Apple as well.

CAUTION: This workaround has worked for me. However it involves downgrading iTunes version and may result in loss of data/settings/library files etc. I haven't faced any of those problems though. Still user discretion is advised before following these steps. I am not responsible for any loss of any kind which may arise due to this.

This is how I found the solution to the error 8288 that I was getting.

1) First of all, before contacting Apple Support, I searched Google for the error 8288, as I always do.

2) I found that there are many users who are getting this error while upgrading iPod touch 1st generation to iOS 3.1

3) There was no solution offered in any of the discussion forums.

4) But I noticed one common thing, that all the users posting problems were using iTunes 10.5

5) So I decided to give it a try once again after reverting back to iTunes 10.3

6) I tried to uninstall iTunes 10.5, but while doing the same, the uninstaller got hanged on my windows somehow and I had to use "end task" option. So some of the items in iTunes folder didn't get removed.

7) Then I located iTunes 10.3 on Apple's website and downloaded it's 32 bit edition from

Those who are using Windows 64 bit edition, download link is

8) While installing iTunes 10.3, I got the error message again that this installation needs Quick Time player as a pre-requisite.

9) So I downloaded Quick Time 7. While installing Quick Time, the installer gave a message that due to improper uninstallation in step 6 above, some of the actions need to be undone. I accepted that and after completing the remaining cleanup for step 6, finally Quick Time got installed on my machine.

10) Then I proceeded ahead to install iTunes 10.3

11) It got installed but I was not able to run the program. I was getting error message that the iTunes library.itl file was created using the newer version of iTunes.

12) Then I needed to recreate iTunes library and playlist files

13) I located the iTunes folder in my machine on Windows XP at the path Documents and Settings\[my username]\My Documents\My Music\ and opened that folder

14) Then I dragged iTunes Library.xml file to the desktop and deleted itunes library.itl file.

15) Then I opened iTunes and it got opened. Then I imported the playlist File > Library > Import Playlist using the iTunes Library.xml file on the desktop and my library got recreated.

16) Then iTunes 10.3 opened smoothly.

17) Then I connected my iPod and since I had already purchased iOS 3.1, my iTunes 10.3 gave me the message that the upgrade to iOS 3.1 is available for my iPod.

18) I went ahead with the download and it was successful.

19) After successful upgrade, I again reverted back to installing iTunes 10.5

So this is how I fixed the problem.

After using iOS 3.1 for some time, I immediately noticed some shortcomings in the UI which I will post later separately.

Update on 8th January 2012: Problem in iOS user interface are now posted on

Dec 6, 2011

Opera Mini Rocks

Its a well known fact that the number of users who prefer to browse on the move is increasing exponentially. Browsing on the smart phones or tablets has its own limitations. Its not very comfortable to type long emails on your handheld devices. Nonetheless, people prefer mobile browsing since it is easier to remain online on your mobile. You need not sit at one place in front of your desktop or you need not boot and shut down your laptop just for checking emails.

Mobile browsing is easier for reading emails, checking facebook notifications and updating status on the move, reading some interesting news articles, checking stock prices and latest updates on a live sports event, searching for some information on Google or searching for contact number on Just Dial.

However, the data plans on mobile are generally costlier than normal broadband plans which is a major constraint in opting for mobile browsing. Also many webpages do not support mobile viewing. As a result, pages are not displayed properly. 

Both these constraints are handled well by Opera Mini. In my earlier post I already have mentioned that Opera Mini is the best mobile browser. 

This is how Opera Mini works. Whenever you enter a website URL in Opera Mini's address bar, instead of sending the request to the website directly, it is first sent to the Opera proxy server. This server then fetches the webpage, compresses it, reformats it for mobile viewing and then transmits it back to Opera Mini in a format developed by Opera called as OBML (Opera Binary Markup Language). Since most of the complex processing is done on the server, there is a reduction in data processing time and browsing speed is also faster. 

This whole process reduces the data transfer costs, enables formatting the webpage for mobile viewing and increases browsing speed as well. Following is the screenshot of my Opera Mini version 6.5 which displays the savings in data transfer over a period of time.

I have saved whopping 86% on my data usage, just by using Opera Mini. 

A word of caution: It is not advisable to use Opera Mini for transmitting any sensitive information since there is no end to end encryption. Opera Mini's FAQ page clearly mentions that "Opera Mini uses a transcoder server to translate HTML/CSS/JavaScript into a more compact format. It will also shrink any images to fit the screen of your handset. This translation step makes Opera Mini fast, small, and also very cheap to use. To be able to do this translation, the Opera Mini server needs to have access to the unencrypted version of the webpage. Therefore no end-to-end encryption between the client and the remote web server is possible.The encryption is introduced to protect the communication from any third party between the client (the browser on your handset) and the Opera Mini transcoder server. If you do not trust Opera Software, make sure you do not use Opera Mini to enter any kind of sensitive information.If you need full end-to-end encryption, you should use a full web browser such as Opera Mobile."

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