Wow! One whole month without a post here! Poor blog! But hey, exams were on, and I'd be dead if I kept on posting. Who was going to study, eh? :)

Anyways, it's over now, so I'll be reviving this place a bit. With a mini-review of one movie you gotta see this month, or this year. Ironman. I saw it, and truly, it' will probably be among the top 10 movies of the year 2008.

Ironman is your classic superhero movie, adapted from the character from Marvel Comics, in case you didn't already know. Just as any hero movie, it's one guy vs the bad guys. With a new spice added, called the technology touch.

Well, it's no longer a small picture on paper now. It's been totally chewed and spit out, as a brand new and flaming, sparkling and whatever else movie, packed full with awesome special effects, and a good crew of actors.

Here goes, a trailer off Youtube for you:



I won't spoil the story, but it's definitely worth it. For those of you who have seen one of the early trailers of Starcraft 2 from Blizzard, you will probably draw a parallel between the scene where Ironman dons his armor, and the making of a Marine in Starcraft.

The special effects there are absolutely amazing. Hats off to the animators who created that armor-wearing scene. It's VERY well detailed and extremely realistic.

The story line is not what I'd call consistent though. It does follow the comic a bit, but its intensity varies. At the start, it's very fast-paced, then slows down in the middle, and goes fast again near the end, though not as fast as at the beginning.

As conclusion, what I particularly liked about the movie is its soundtrack, the superb special effects, the witty comments from Tony Stark and the great role-playing of the actors.

If you haven't seen the movie, go see it if you have time. If you don't find time, they go find some, and see the movie!

No posts...

I'm really sorry my readers, I'm not having much time to post here, due to exams mainly. Revisions are taking a lot of my time.

Also, as I mentioned previously, I haven't stopped blogging. It's just that I partnered up with Neel and opened GeekScribes.

That's where you'll be finding all my tech-related articles as from now. This site will not be closed down. Instead, I'll use it to post about my personal views, if ever it mattered to anybody. But not for now. Maybe in 1 month, after exams are over. Till then, this blog's updates are frozen. :)

But for now, I don't have enough time, so I'm really sorry for the lack of updates here. I'm doing my best to maintain a good flow of articles on GeekScribes, so check there if you want tech articles.

It was reported by the radio and news earlier today. After today's heavy rainfall, 4 deaths were reported.

A 14-year old schoolgirl perished and her brother is reported missing. They were carried away during a sudden flooding of the road where they were. The body of the brother is still missing apparently.

I don't know about the other 2 deaths yet, and I will update this post as soon as I find anything. Maybe today afternoon after the newspapers write about it.

There is also a report that a 4x4 was carried away by the water, together with its occupants. Again, not much here.

This is what happens when Meteo services do not issue warnings early. Considering the rainfall of this morning, schools should have been closed, but no they were not. The result? The death of a student. As you might expect, the Minister of Education came under direct fire from the public, but as with most of our political people, he diverted the blame to the "Crisis Committee" and "Meteo Services" and "That Meteo Guy" and whatnot. People never shoulder their responsabilities here.

Anyways, there is no school or university today on this 27th of march. Classes are apparently flooded and require cleaning. For now, there is no rain and the weather is very calm. Eerily calm... I suspect rain in the morning though.

The tests scheduled for yesterday and today have been postponed to an ulterior date, and this date has not been communicated yet.

Guess what the Minister said on the radio! Man! That guy needs to learn when to shut up!

"We are concerned about the security of 350,000 students. If one of them dies, we cannot do anything about it."

The expression "STFU man" goes well in here. So? One life is not worth it? One life of a 14-year old? What if 350,000 were votes? And he needed that 1 vote to get elected? Wouldn't he do everything he can to save that 1 vote? Why didn't he save that one life then? Votes are more important than life for our politicians?? Why does he say such things about human life?

That would be all for now. RIP to the people who lost their lives today because of the carelessness of our decision-makers. May they find peace.

Edit: The girl's brother was found alive after a search. He survived the flood's raging waters.

Well, after some serious thoughts, Neelesh and myself are opening a collab-blog to write about tech stuff mostly, and general randomness which you usually find around my blog.

So feel free to check it out at http://www.geekscribes.net.

But this DOES NOT mean that I'm closing down this place! It'll still be open, and I'll still post. And I still need to reach my 100th! But as from now, you will mostly find out about my personal stuff here, while most the tech stuff will be at GeekScribes.

I dunno but maybe I'll post snippets of articles here, and link-back to there, so that you can use both sites. I appreciate suggestions, if you have any, dear readers! :D

For now, I'll leave you and go check what is there.

Arghhh! They do deserve their moniker, these guys! About always making the wrong predictions at the wrong time!!

WTF! I believe it's been raining the volume of water of a lake over my place since this morning. Meteo France says that the tropical cyclone Lola approaches Mauritius, according to the chart below.

And guess what? It's still Class 0, ie. No cyclone warning! WTF are they waiting for? Offices have given their employees early leave today. University of Mauritius is closed tomorrow, thereby saving my sorry soul from a violent FCS test. There are floods reported around Mauritius.

Still, in all their good judgement, Meteo services still haven't issued any warning, or set any class? I think it's high time they review their policies, or just go out of business.

Who knows? Maybe it's time to privatize Meteo services now?

I advise all of you who want better predictions to check Meteo France's site regarding Reunion Island. It's here.


Clicky Clicky on the Pic! :D

Yes. Apparently it is out of beta, as you can see from this Microsoft site.

For now, I do not have any details about what it does, or how stable it is, or even what's new about it. I'll research a bit when I have time, and post the results here. For now, check it out if you are curious.

Edit: I've found a Change Log for SP1. It's quite extensive, and has a number of improvements but not many new features introduced. It also seems that the anti-piracy measures implemented in Vista have been relaxed a bit according to this Washington Post article.

I've been using Mozilla Firefox for over 2 years now, and over the course of this time, I've gathered a list of the most useful extensions I've been using since I begun. These plug-ins might not be the best, nor the most useful, but they are my favorites and thought I might introduce them to you.

1) DownThem ALL!

Let's face it. The download manager in Firefox is, well... lame. Its resume support is buggy, it doesn't support downloading by filters. It's just a basic download window. If you often download files, try getting DownThem ALL! or DTA. It's a full download manager in-built into Firefox. It's resuming and queuing facilities are great and fully working. You can also download many files of custom type (eg. all JPG's on a site) at one go. It also supports downloading by breaking into sectors/chunks which accelerates downloads. Its DTA-OneClick does what its name suggests: one-click downloads.

2) FlashGot

Do not confuse with the FlashGet download manager. FlashGot allows you to transfer downloads to your favorite download manager. Say you like using an external download manager. You can have FlashGot transfer the download to it, and you will be prompted by its "Add new Download" window. It also works with .torrent files. Basically, it allows you to use many external download managers with firefox without having them capture each and every download link. You can selectively send links to them for downloading.

3) Download Helper

DownloadHelper allows you to download embedded content from websites, but is most useful for downloading videos off Youtube and many of its clones. It will search the page you are browsing to look for embedded files, namely video files. If it finds something, its icon will colourize (it's black and white when nothing is found). You just need to click on it, and you will have a list of downloadable content. I've not been able to make it work with DTA though. That would have been great. You can still download normally, copy the link, then put it in DTA.

4) Tabmix Plus

This plug-in is very famous, and adds many new and innovative features to Firefox's already powerful tabbing features. You will get such features as protecting tabs from accidental closing, re-open closed tabs, size your tabs, colourize them, put a progress bar on them, and define what happens when you click, right-click and middle-click on the tabs or tab bar. It's difficult to explain the extent of its features, so go check it out. In short, it allows you to fully customize the way tabbing works in Firefox. Another useful function: It allows you to drag text links from the main window to the tab-bar for opening.

5) Session Saver

If ever you have wanted to save a number of opened windows or tabs for later viewing, or even to load them at every starting of Firefox, this plug-in is for you. Sometimes, I need to save a group of tabs which I find interesting, and want to open them later. Session Saver allows you to save your session and re-open it later on. You can also define a session consisting of tabs and windows, and you can have that session restored every time you start Firefox. Eg. You can have Firefox load your favourite blogs at start up.

6) Brief

Brief is very useful if you like to read RSS and other kinds of news feeds. It's an all-in-one reader that manages your feeds, refreshes them and displays notifications when there are updates. You can have it open in a new tab, and it's all built in. The left part shows your feeds, while the right part shows the contents. It has many options such as the useful "mark as read on viewing" feature. I like Brief over other Feed readers because its features are grouped in one tab, and clicking on a feed opens it in Brief's tab, not other new tabs so it doesn't interfere with my browsing.

7) Greasemonkey

Greasemonkey is quite an innovative plug-in that allows you to add scripts that in turn add new functions to sites. For example, there are numerous scripts that allows you to "clean-up" a site to remove content such as ads and animations, making the site more user-friendly and easy to use. It may also add other functions such as direct links to parts of the site. Basically, it allows you to execute custom script/codes to give you new functions for your sites. You can find many scripts at UserScripts.org ready for use.

8) Bookmark Duplicate Detector (Bookmark DD)

As its name suggests, Bookmark DD warns you about adding bookmarks as duplicate. It checks your existing bookmarks, and if the one you are currently adding already exists, it warns you and give you its existing location. This plug-in has allowed me to regain considerable order in my bookmarks. You can also have it scan your existing bookmarks to check for duplicates. It warns you on adding new bookmarks automatically, if ever it finds an existing match. It can also help you backup your Bookmarks file.

9) FEBE

A very useful plug-in that allows you to backup Firefox almost as a whole. It backups your plug-ins, themes, bookmarks, settings and other stuff, and puts them in a folder of your choice. Then, if ever you have to re-install Firefox on a new PC, you can just bring that folder with you, install FEBE there first, then have it restore the backup. After a restart of Firefox, you will have your old settings, bookmarks and everything else. It can also automatically backup your stuff, and you can choose what you want to backup, and where you want the backup to be stored, and how it should be named.

10) Linkification

Linkification has a simple use. It makes text links clickable. For example: http://www.google.com. If you had Linkification installed, that google link would be clickable. You'd no longer have to use copy-paste to address bar to go there.

11) Snap Links

Initially, this article would have contained only 10 plug-ins, but while finding links, I came across this one. Snap Links allows you to draw a rectangle around multiple links, and open them in new tabs, new windows, bookmark them, download them and a number of other operations. Very useful when you come up with a site with multiple links and you want to open all of them without clicking on each of them. Eg. Here itself, you could have opened links to all of the 11 plug-ins at once if you had Snap Links installed.

That's all for now folks. Try checking out these plug-ins. They are very useful. But remember, abuse of Firefox plug-ins will slow-down your browser and greatly increase its memory usage. So use plug-ins moderately! :P

Ubuntu 8.10, or Intrepid Ibex, has been announced and is due out October 2008.

Ubuntu follows a 6-months release cycle, and Intrepid Ibex was the name choosen to be the next release after Hardy Heron.

Hardy Heron itself is due to be released in April 2008, to replace Gutsy Gibbon (7.10). Note that Hardy Heron will be a Long Term Support release, meaning that it will be supported for at least 3 years. It also seems to be packing quite a lot of new features and mainly visual improvements. Do not miss out on this one if you like Ubuntu.

Intrepid Ibex will apparently put much emphasis on mobile computing, and as the Ubuntu developers put it, you must always be connected to the Internet, say when you move from your house to your office.

More information about Intrepid Ibex can be found here: Ubuntu Lists.

And for those who are wondering what an Ibex is, it's simply this:




Ps: Check out those horns! :|



Ohh.. I expect some flames on that title! Lolz! Defend your camp is you wish, whether Linux or Windows. And yeah, when I say Linux here, it mostly refers to Ubuntu and its derivatives, considered as one of the friendliest distros, and a pioneer in bringing Linux to new users.

1. Linux = FREE!

Absolutely right! And in all senses! Firstly, Linux is free. You don't pay a cent to get it. You just go to a distro's website or ftp, and leech it off there. Burn it on a CD or DVD, try it via LiveCD and after you are satisfied, you can install it, and send the LiveCD to your friends to convert them. Oh yeah, subsequent upgrades are free too! You get a complete OS, fully functional and many times (IMHO!!) better than Windows, and that without spending money. Isn't life generous? Another kind of freedom is that you are free do do whatever you want to Linux. Copy the disks, give to your friends, modify each and every part of it, take a look at the internal codings. In general, there's very little restriction placed on you.

Considering Windows, you will have to spend money to get each and every new version. You can't copy the disks and pass on to your friends. You cannot see the code. And you can hardly modify it to suit yourself. Is this what you want?



2. Linux is (relatively) safer

Quick! Name me 10 Linux viruses. "Uh..."? Right. Good answer. These things are rare. The last famous one, if I remember correctly, was Bliss. Even then, it couldn't propagate as easily as Windows viruses and had to be executed willfully by the user. Today, it is considered as a research curiosity. Since then, I've not heard of any major, chaos-causing ones.

Now. Another exercise! Name me 10 Windows viruses! "Easyyyy!" Yes! Nimda, ILoveYou, Blaster, Slammer, SoBig, MyDoom, Klez, Melissa, Stoned... and the list is very very long, and it gets longer everyday. This goes without considering the other kinds of malware floating around, that love Windows so much, and jump at the first occasion to infect your machine. You can get trojaned, wormed, keylogged, backdoored. All these terms mean one thing: you are in serious trouble once it hits you. Who would like to see his/her hard-drive completely wiped after installing something called YourFreeSoft.exe or similar. Ouch. That's about viruses. Some fun for you: List of Windows Virii vs List of Linux Virii

Now, in Windows, you often see people logged in as Administrator to perform their day-to-day tasks like browsing. This is serious liability, as all programs run can do admin-class things to your PC, like killing your files. Under Linux, you never login as admin. When you want to do something admin-like, you sudo it. “SuperUser Do it”. What happens is that you explicitly give admin privileges to your programs, so that they can't do weird stuff without you being aware.

No OS is totally safe. I don't say Linux is flawless and impenetrable. But considering the number of vulnerabilities in Windows (think WinME, MS denies its existence :D ), you are a lot safer in the Linux camp. You can even browse around the Internet unprotected, knowing that none of those .exe malware will ever hit you. That's a big part of the population. And even if the malware tries to find the registry or “system32”, they won't be able to find those! You could say your data is a lot safer when entrusted to Linux.



3. Linux is made by users, for users.

That's a definition of democracy, the OS way. When users develop things, they know exactly what other users might know. They are users themselves, and sometimes they look for certain features. If they cannot get these, they try to incorporate them into their software. I've searched for a transparent, auto-hiding and nice-looking launchbar for Windows like forever. After hours of searching, I found RunMe. The funny thing is, under Linux, that feature is already included!

Under Linux running GNOME, I created a panel, set its background color to transparent, set it to auto-hide and modified its size. That's it. I got myself an auto-hiding, transparent and cool-looking launchbar that matches my theme. What more could I ask of.

Another example? Windows networking. Whenever you are roaming, you will often need to change your IP address to match that of your home or office. It happens loads of time. I wanted a program that could keep "profiles" of my network settings, and apply them at the click of a button. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any free software that did this for Windows. Under Linux, KDE's network manager has that feature built-in. Useful!

And finally, yet another example for the unconvinced. Haven't you ever required to re-arrange your windows in your taskbar? Maybe switching between browser and wordprocessor, and you wanted those 2 windows to be side by side in the taskbar? Windows requires additional software to handle this. Linux handles it natively. Just click and drag the windows, and arrange them as you want.

Like this, there are many many useful features for you to discover, and you will probably say “why can't Windows include that?”. That's because Windows employs developers to write software for users, whereas Linux “employs” users to write software for users.

4. Linux is not resource-demanding


That's a ~50MB distro's desktop - Damn Small Linux's desktop

Right. I agree that it does demands resources. But this depends on which distro you are using. Distros like Kubuntu or Sabayon indeed demand loads of resources for KDE and the effects they use. But have you ever used Puppy Linux? Damn Small Linux? Feather Linux? PCLinuxOS Mini? Or any of those Mini distros? No? Then do try. These things run with the bare-minimum resources. People often install those on an old PC at home and turn it into something useful. Linux allows you to revive an old machine, say around 300MHz. Forget games and all, but at least your old box will be able to handle word processing without lagging, and without fear of BSODs. You could, for example, turn an old computer into a sort of "download server" to handle your long downloads. This will allow you to cut on electricity bills (maybe), and extend the lifetime of your "new" PC while the old one handles the long uptimes, and without fearing the risk of catching something nasty online. And hey! You are running a full OS, up-to-date on an age-old machine. Be proud!

5. But Vista has coooolll effects!!



Then my friend, you have not seen Compiz Fusion in action. Just watch the video below, and if your jaw doesn't hit the floor, then I dunno what would surprise you... Compiz Fusion's effects are simply amazing. The effects are not just for eye-candy. There are actually some use to them. One simple example that I often use myself is the transparency. When I need to refer to one window, and type in another, I put the typing one as "always on top" and make it semi-transparent. Then place my reference window just below. Then, I can "see through" my typing window, without the need to constantly switch between windows.

Alright, wobbly windows and flaming windows when closed may not be totally useful, but at least it's cool and can help turn your friends to Linux. The Cube is useful to quickly see what's all around your desktops. Yes. DESKTOPS! Linux supports virtual desktops natively.

If you still cannot cope with the mouse flaming trails, you can still turn off the effects you don't want. But rain falling on my desktop.. Looks peaceful! :P

That's part #1 if this article. I decided to split it up cuz it was just too long. Part #2 will be for another occasion. After I complete it, it'll be here.. But first, Intrepid Ibex requires my attention :D

Additional reading:

We can say that Vista is just out of the box (or maybe not, there's even a how-to about opening the Vista box), but anyways, many people now want an alternative to Windows. This alternative is called Linux. Some others went to Mac and its Leopard. Enthusiasts choose BSD or some other flavor of Open-source OS. I chose Linux. I dunno why. I haven't tried BSD yet. (Selven keeps convincing me. I gotta submit one of these days and give it a try). I am therefore writing this post for people who want to move from Windows to Linux. It covers what they should expect, and what is expected out of them.


1) Linux is NOT windows! AGAIN!

It can't be stressed enough, but still new users keep making the mistake of comparing Linux to Windows. Come'on folks. We are speaking of two different worlds here. One is like Pokemon, cute and fluffy, while the other is like 300, harsh and cold. Windows is about pointing and clicking. Linux is about typing. In Windows, you are usually accustomed to having a GUI for nearly every task you can think of. Linux doesn't offer a GUI everytime. For some tasks, you will need to get dirty and use command line. And no. It's not weird. It's not ugly. While new users love the GUI, a Linux power-user will vouch for the CLI. I use both, using the GUI where I can, and if it's not available, I use CLI.

When you first move to Linux, don't complain that you have to type commands, and that commands were used in prehistoric ages of computing. That's plain bad attitude, and I had that attitude too when I begun. Now, I'm a bit more comfortable in Linux, I stopped complaining and saw the numerous advantages of CLI. One simple example? Using a SINGLE line of command, you can backup your whole Linux system. With another command, you can remove EVERY file that is on the Linux file-system. What's those commands? I leave it for you to learn.

Stop complaining and accept the differences. Only then you will be able to progress in the Linux world.




2) Choose an appropriate Distro

Linux comes in many many many many flavors, each with its own spices and ingredients. The trick is to go Distro-shopping until you find one that suits you. How do you do that? Try going over to Distrowatch, and try out the Top #10 distros, and pick one that you like. A good place to start is Ubuntu which is often thought as the most user-friendly distro, or maybe PCLinuxOS that recently stole the crown of Ubuntu in Distrowatch. You could also try one of the mini-distros like Damn-Small-Linux or Puppy Linux just to test. After you find one that you like on Live CD, give it an install and try using it to its full potential. Be careful of how you install though, you could wreck an existing install (maybe Windows), but it's kind of rare. My recommended distros: Ubuntu or its variants (Xubuntu/Kubuntu), Sabayon Linux (if you want eye-candy), PCLinuxOS (if you want a near-complete system out-of-the-box) and Puppy Linux (if you want a portable Linux install). I am currently using Linux Mint, and here I reviewed it.



3) In simple terms, "Google is your friend"

And how true this is! While using Linux, you will encounter several issues. Your devices may not be recognized. You want to change a setting, but don't know how to do it. You want to install something, but can't figure it out. Had it been Windows, you could have phoned Tech Support. This is not the case with most Linux distros. Only a little minority of them offer live tech-support, and the rest leave you on your own. So how do you get help?

Here comes the tagline "Google is your friend". Use it! Google your problem and I am sure you will find solution. Google something like "install open office linux" and see the number of results you get. If Google doesn't point you to anything, try going over to your Distro's forum and ask there. Ubuntu forums is like a vault full of help and tips! If that doesn't work, get an IRC client and connect to their channel and seek help. If that still doesn't help, consult your friends who have working knowledge in Linux. Still no help? Try the "man" -manual-command in Console/Terminal. If all those fail, I dunno what you are trying to do. Maybe have Linux make coffee for you and do your laundry?

And when you do receive help, be polite and thank the helpers. If you can't get help, don't go on a ranting spree, and complain about lack of help and whatever. Always remember that Linux is free software. Most of the time, people do not get paid to develop it. They do it out of their own time, for pleasure or otherwise. By ranting, you are not doing justice to these people's efforts. Instead, be grateful for what you have, and try to help them create what is not already available. How? Donate, code or even beta-test software. Maybe you could provide information? But don't just complain. And if you still can't resist, then maybe Linux is not for you. Use Windows where you can get all the support you need. See pt.5



4) Not everything works under Linux

Upon your first boot, your Wireless connection might not work. You may have weird screen-resolution problems with your blazing new graphics card. Your webcam will almost certainly not work. These are common driver issues, issues which you do not have on Windows. This is a major outcry coming from new users: "My device XYZ refuses to work in Linux. Linux sux! *rant* *rant*!!"

Get this right now. Manufacturers provide drivers for Windows. Not all manufacturers provide drivers for Linux. So, if your device works, be grateful and thank the volunteer(s) that wrote that driver. Almost surely, that volunteer did not get any remuneration for his/her software, while manufacturers pay their developers to write drivers.

If one of your hardware doesn't work, either make do without it, or try looking online for a solution. Maybe somebody got a guide or solution for you. If nothing is available, don't complain. Make do without your hardware, or mail the manufacturer asking for Linux drivers. Or code your own, if you got coding skills. You can also pray that the next version of your distro supports the hardware. Most do after a version change-over.

What you can do? Try posting in your distro's forum. Describe the hardware, what the issue is, and what you want. Provide as much detail as possible. It might help a developer develop a driver one day, who knows.. :P


5) Use Windows

Weird point... Right. If after giving Linux a genuine chance and attempted to use it to the best of your efforts, you still cannot use it, then go back to Windows. Or try other distros. Maybe you will get lucky with other flavours? Try BSD or other variants. If nothing works, Windows is here.

Nobody forces you to use Linux. You chose to move to a new OS, a free OS (cost and copyright). You have nothing to lose, right? If you get something for free, you cannot complain that it doesn't work, or that it has flaws. You got it for free, you either use it or scrap it. Depends on you. But please, don't criticize it uselessly.


Well, this was my thoughts on moving to Linux. Maybe it will help new users make a choice. Maybe it will get buried somewhere in the vastness of the Internet, never to be read. But anyways, if you have read it, then I thank you! As always, comments appreciated. :)

If, like me, you do a big amount of searching on various sites, Firefox includes a nifty, in-built tool that should greatly facilitate your searching. This tool is called "Add Keyword for this Search".

How to use it? The process is simple and is described below. What it does? It allows you to search directly from your address bar, and to any custom search engines you will define. It may not work for all (eg. Yahoo didn't work for me), but works for most.

Steps:

1) First, find the search you want to "tag" as I will refer to it. I am using google here.



2) Right-click on the search box and select "Add Keyword for this Search"



3) You will be presented with this window. Type the name of the search engine in the Name field. Eg. Google. In the Keyword field, type a word or letter that you will use to identify Google. You might choose something like "goog" or even "g" as I did.

4) Save the bookmark in your chosen folder. I saved it in the Quick Search folder. If you don't have one, you can create one in Bookmarks - Organize Bookmarks.



5) Now, to make use of your new tag, simply type your Keyword in the address bar, followed by your search query. I used "g testsearch" as I wanted to search Google for the query "testsearch".



6) As you can see, Google returned results for "testsearch".

7) Now, you can go to your favourite sites, and tag their search boxes. This makes searching easy and direct from your address bar. I find this method easier than adding custom search boxes to Firefox.

8) Some useful sites you might want to tag, and suggested keywords:

- Google: g, goog, ggl
- Google Images: gi, ggli, googi
- Wikipedia: wiki, wp, enc
- Ebay: eby, eb
- Amazon: ama, az
- DeviantArt: da, dart
- Last.FM: lfm, lf, fm
- Youtube: you, yt, ytb

You can define almost every search engines and your own keywords. Go figure which sites you want to "tag".

Hope this tip helps you. Comments appreciated! :)

Title sounds weird right? It is! The trick is that even if your headphone doesn't have a microphone, you can actually speak into the earpiece (the thing you put over your ear to listen in) and it will act as a microphone. I know it sounds strange, but it's tried and tested, and worked with most headphones I tested with. I mean headphones, NOT earphones!



It worked with my cheapish China-made headphone, so give it a try if you want.

How to make it work?

Steps:

1. Plug in the "out" jack, usually green in color, into the microphone hole, usually pink or red, in your soundcard or laptop.


2. Step 1 is correct! I'm not dumb! I said, plug the line-out jack into the line-in socket! :P

3. To test it, fire up Windows Sound Recorder or any sound recorder you might have at hand. Try Audacity if you ain't got anything. It's freeware.

4. Now, increase your volume either in windows, or on the headphone itself, or even both. Just set all mixers to high.

5. Speak into the headphone's earpiece. Righhht... Strange huh? Try! You should see Sound Recorder picking up a sound. I'm not joking! Proof: (You can't know how much I had to maintain my shout to get a good shot! :s )


6. You can try speaking into the right and left earpiece to see which is better.

7. Save the sound and replay it. You should hear what you said in your recording.

My guess on how this trick works:

When you are using the headphone normally, the line-out is plugged into the line-out socket and all, your soundcard sends electric pulses which represent the sound, and a membrane vibrates creating the sound.

Here you are reversing the process. When you are speaking into the earpiece, your voice makes the membrane vibrate. This vibration is translated into electric pulses and sent to your soundcard. Since you have the line-out (that feeds the earpieces) connected to line-in, these pulses are interpreted as an input signal and your voice gets recorded. If you hadn't reversed the jacks, ie. line-out to line-in socket, it wouldn't have worked.

And yeah, don't bother plugging your line-in (microphone) into line-out socket. Your mic cannot play sounds! :P


Try it for yourself. If you got any question, or comments, you are free to comment! :P I wanted to share this trick that I read somewhere, maybe on a forum, I forgot! :)

PS: I know there is now a huge delay in my postings! Uni resumed and I am kinda busy. I will try to post as often as possible, but no promises! :)

OMG, it's been almost a month since I last blogged! I'm really not finding enough time since Uni started again.. :(

Anyways, something weird happened today. Cyclone Gula was near to Mauritius, even if there was no gust or rain or anything at my place, it was still close. In fact, it was absolute calmness. Just like a normal day.

However, there was a Class 3 alert in the morning? Then? At around 8h, the class 3 was removed? WTF does that mean? The cyclone vanished? The maps do not say so! Then what happened? Check how close that thing was to Mauritius!



What I personally suspect is that there is some kind of political or other kind of pressure to take out that Class 3 so that normal working resumes. What resulted out of this? Massive chaos in the country! Streets were clogged with traffic jams. People were being battered by heavy rain while waiting for their not-arriving bus. In 1 word: chaos. Even Uni resumed at around noon, though I suspect there were only a fistful of students there.

This is the kind of thing that really annoys you. Why did Mauritian meteorological station put Class 3 when it was going to be removed 40 mins afterwards? Plain stupid. This caused most workers in Mauritius to rush to their work-place, causing a huge influx of traffic.

Another weird thing is our Cyclone warning system. We go from Class 1 - Class 2 - Class 3 - Class 4, but afterwards, jump from Class 4 - Class 0 (no cyclone)... That's just abnormal. Imho, we should regress back from 4-3-2-1 then zero. It can't just jump like that. This system would also ease up the transition...

Class 4 - Class 3: Emergency services operate and started cleaning up broken branches and wires and all the mess.
Class 3 - Class 2: Workers go back to check their workplace
Class 2 - Class 1: Students resume school
Class 1 - Class 0: Cyclone is no longer a risk.

This system makes a better sense to me, than just jumping from 4 to 0.

Anyways, today was just plain LoL seeing the mess meteo caused! Pity the folks who got out of their homes only to get wet.



I just saw that message today! http://www.rapidshare.com is DOWN!

There are rumors that rapidshare has been closed down due to a court order. There are also rumors that there have been attacks on RS' servers.

Whatever it is, if it goes down forever, it will make a huge hole on the Internet, considering how full RS servers are of content.

I think there must be some kind of DNS or domain-related problem. Or maybe they did receive an attack... Who knows. We can just wait and see.

For the time being, Rapidshare.de is up. One thing to note on RS.de is that the limit has been increased to 300MB. I think previously it was 100MB max upload size.



Maybe this outage is because RS are upgrading?

Another funny thing to note is that, at the time of writing, there was no "Rapidshare is down" on Digg. There was, but not with thousands of diggs. More like 2-3 diggs Wonder why.. :P

EDIT: Rapidshare.com is back up after less than a day of downtime. And no, there was no apparent upgrades. The file-size limit on rapidshare.com is still 100MB. The real reason of the downtime is unknown for now.

EDIT 2: @2h20am: Rapidshare is having issues again. I seem to be able to access and it seems to be down at other times, but after a while, I get the "Cannot establish a connection to server" message. I really think they are getting problems with their DNS now...

EDIT 3: It's back up now, stable and running. :)

Following my post on Anti-Piracy, I want to discuss an interesting article I just found off Ars Technica.

It's about filtering. Content filtering to be precise, striving to put an end to illegal downloading on all of the Internets floating around. We've never been so close to a Big Brother Watches You type of society, in my humble opinion of a caring Internet user.

We saw Comcast throttling Bittorrent traffic. We saw the MPAA and RIAA or whatever ??AA these associations are called hunting down downloaders in colleges and universities abroad. We also saw RIAA firing lawsuits everywhere with the hope of reducing illegal downloading of protected content. Now it seems another weapon surfaces: filtering.

Filtering was always here it seems. You might know about parental filters in IE. Or even child-lock on your TV? That's what it's all about: Restricting what you are allowed to do or see. Same things happen online. Google has its SafeSearch. That concerns Adult content. What about copyrighted content? It's here too.

Youtube recently implemented their own filter to prevent copyrighted content from being uploaded. TorrentSpy also implemented a hash-based content filtering, called FileRights.

Now it seems, ISPs will be implementing their own filters to prevent illegal downloading. It's begun with Comcast preventing seeding of torrents. Others will surely follow if persuaded by major labels. It seems that AT&T is leading the march, according to the Digg article below. The biggest irony in all this is that those same ISPs are offering megabit speeds to customers, FTTH and all, then tell you it's not meant for downloading stuff. What's it for then? Exclusive Youtubing? I don't think I need 8Mbps to load a page quickly, do I?

Universities are following the lead, threatened to see their funds reduced if they do not implement proper filters. I believe they would comply.

Filters are everywhere these days. I'm sure at your school or university, you are not allowed to do everything you like on their PCs. There are restrictions in place. Now it's going to be taken to a whole new level. New filtering techniques, such as the state-of-the-art, Motion-Based Filtering, are coming on scene.

Is this good? Proponents of filters cry "Die, illegal downloading!" while proponents of privacy, freedom and net-neutrality wail "No more restrictions!". IMHO, I think that the concepts of net-neutrality and freedom of information are taking a serious beating here. You are not allowed to do things in a network that supposedly has tags like "Public", "Free access", "Free flow of information", "Unrestricted knowledge and access". I'm not even sure that the net is so "unrestricted" these days. It's begun with the Great Firewall of China. And now it's going to extend to the rest of the world. Adios freedom!

I reiterate what I said in my Anti-Piracy post. Restraining mechanisms never work. What they are good at is setting revolts on. Just check the Digg comments! DRM had to kneel-over. Comcast is facing some troubles following their throttling. If universities and ISPs start their filtering campaigns, it can mean one thing: P2P will take a big blow. Downloading may be stopped, but I doubt that downloaders themselves will be happy about it. A consequence. Mass boycotts? Like this? Or this?

These events promise a good show. Let's wait and see what comes out of it all. I bet it will be making huge waves on the web very soon.


I was reading a couple of newspapers lately, and there was mentions that MASA (Mauritian Society of Authors) is gearing up for a new round of anti-piracy campaigns this year. What's piracy all about?

Wikipedia defines Copyright Infringement (Piracy) as follows:
Copyright infringement (or copyright violation) is the unauthorized use of material which is covered by copyright law, in a manner that violates one of the original copyright owner's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works.
Today, the term Piracy would often be used to refer to multimedia content and files obtained illegally through the Internet, or without the publisher/author/owner's consent.

Enough formality. Most of us know what it's about. Downloading stuff which you could otherwise buy. In the general jargon, you'd here people talking "Hey, I downloaded that new movie yesterday" or "Do you have the crack for that game?". That's what piracy is about. Piracy is stealing. Is it?

It may. It may not. It depends on the point of view. If you are MASA or the law, yes it's stealing. It's depriving developers and artists about their rightful gains. You are stealing their stuff. Now, if you are the average Mauritian, it's not. Why? Dunno. It's Mauritian logic. Or it's purely logic. The fundamental question is: Why buy something with cash when you can get it for free? That's the invulnerable claim that piracy-consumers make. How do you counter that argument??

Another form of piracy that we see often these days is the mass-sale of copied CDs/DVDs for ridiculously cheap prices. While strolling through Port-Louis, you'll most probably see "4 DVD pou Rs.100" or similar. That's Rs.25 per DVD, that same DVD that would be selling around Rs.1000 genuine, or a cinema ticket priced at Rs.150. Which one to choose? The Rs.1000 or the same Rs.25 priced DVD?

Can the consumer be blamed? I don't think so. Considering the actual state of affairs in Mauritius, it's fairly impossible for somebody to spend Rs.1000 on a single DVD when he/she cannot even afford basic necessities. Food and basic needs' costs have risen so much that life's real tough. Same applies to most countries. That person who buys a pirated DVD may want some entertainment during the weekend, after a long and tough work week. That student that buys a pirated Audio CD gets only Rs. 50 as pocket-money per day, and cannot afford a genuine Rs.900-priced CD.

That's for consumers. Then there are downloaders. These will scour the net, looking for the newest and hottest things, and download them off torrents, or P2P programs. Some years back, we all saw the ruckus that these two programs made: Napster and Kazaa. The fight was long and tough, and both (original Napster and Kazaa) finally bowed. Today, torrent is the new hype, with major players like ThePirateBay (TPB) and others. TPB is notorious for mocking the law when it comes to lawsuits filed against it for listing copyrighted stuff.

According to me, people buy/download pirated stuff for 2 main reasons. This applies specially to Mauritius:

- The genuine product is way too expensive
- The genuine product is not available

Wikipedia lists other reasons, but these are most applicable to Mauritius.

Genuine software is not available. That latest album from my favourite artist costs Rs.1200. That movie I wish to watch is not available. The list is long.

What can be done? In my humble opinion, what the Indians did is best. The latest movies are being sold on DVD for Rs.200 Indian Rupees. The latest albums are priced at Rs.100. That's almost the price at which pirated movies are being sold in Mauritius, but those are genuine. See for yourself. I magnified and highlighted the price. The best and most effective solution would be to lower the price of the genuine content. If it's fairly priced, I doubt that people would prefer a pirated version, when they can get the genuine one with all its features. If a movie is priced at Rs.100, people would buy it. At Rs.1000? Forget it! Rs.1000 represents almost 1/5 the monthly consumables bill of the average Mauritian home.

The second reason is more difficult to address. The solution lies with importers. One simple example I like to mention is the lack of genuine anime in Mauritius. There is a big market here, but unfortunately, genuine products are rare and overpriced (Rs.800 at least per DVD). The only remaining solution is to download fan-subs, and that's what most Mauritian anime-fans do. Same for other types of content. There is no availability, so we just go and download it for free.







Anti anti-piracy?

There is, of course, the unscrupulous downloader who doesn't care about developers or artists. What matters is that they get the product they want, no matter if it means stealing it. We should always remember that piracy, at its core, is theft.

Switching sides, piracy is a real head-ache for law-enforcers. Campaigns are varied. Warnings are seen everywhere. Nag-screens are... annoying. There are even anti anti-piracy campaigns! At one point in time, restrictions were even placed on consumers, in the form of DRM. This measure however, proved to be very very unproductive, to such extent that it is finally abandoned. Amazon has recently started offering DRM-free tracks at reasonable prices, following the move from Apple via its ITunes Store.

As if it was not enough, RIAA acquired some kind of lawsuit-firing cannon, and arbitrarily assaulted people for illegal downloading, even 12-year old kids!

The biggest trick is this: offer the consumer things at a very reasonable prices, and they will willingly buy. Try to restrain them, or try to purely make profits, and you can be sure that they'll do everything to annoy the hell out of you. You can't fight a Hydra by sheer brute-force.

You can't fight piracy. It's like a Hydra. Cut one head, another one pops up. Here, it's not one head. It's like zillions of heads pop out. Napster and Kazaa went down. Shareza, Ares, Limewire and countless others replaced it. Annoy TPB, and they want to buy Sealand! That's not the way to fight. You will need to convince consumers. Tempt them. Attract them. Not restrain their freedom through DRM. They will hate you for that. You can't just walk in with your lawsuits and tell consumers "Hey buy my stuff, even if it's available for free on torrents and hosting sites! To hell! BUY! Or lawsuits!" And the result? Declining sales. Offer competitive prices? Rising sales!

There is no for or against piracy. Consumers just go wherever the prices are lowest. Developers and artists, I know you work hard. I respect your work. But if your creations are unaffordable, what can I do? For software, there exists Open-Source. For music, there is public-domain, and artists like Radiohead who offer albums almost for free. The Piracy war won't be won by violence. Repression never works. The anime industry knows that well. Instead of firing lawsuits everywhere, publishers humbly request hosting sites to take down their products. It works!

Time to stop. And time for you to comment! :P

And as the saying goes on the net: "If you like it, buy it. Support the developers."



2007 is over, and 2008 is now on scene. It's also my first blog post for 2008, and I will use this post as MBB Theme of the Week #5: Most Promising 2008 Event. Here goes, and a long one at that!

What I hope will happen in 2008 is this: Our Mauritian Internet (read: outdated) gets FASTER! Every Mauritian Internet user's dream! Or that we do get FTTH.

Yes yes! I know. I'm sure (if you are Mauritian), you will say that whatever connection you have, "IT'S SLOWWWWW!!! ARGHH!". Right! Mine's like that too. However, before we start blaming ISPs and other people, we need to consider that the number of Internet users in Mauritius is low (less than 100k) and they have to work on tight resources. Ok, maybe not so tight, seeing the profits some companies are making.

But that's not the point today. I'm not complaining about services being offered, be it ADSL, MyT, MTML's 144Kbps Dial-Up, DCL's packages, Nomad or Emtel's wireless. What I'd say is that, they are all deprecated, save maybe for Emtel's newest offer.

Come'on folks, many of us still have 56K dial-up. This thing is ridiculously slow, making things like "Youtube" virtually impossible to use. Online gaming on dial-up is almost a myth. Online apps? Forget it! This thing called dial-up, this "pay-per-use/minute" service is only good for people that only browse for around 20 mins a day to check their mail. Who does that nowadays? Even the busiest of people, or the most basic computer-illiterate will try to access some video site at least once to check something, or listen to music.

Multimedia is everywhere on the Internets nowadays! Flash animations, Flash videos (youtube, metacafe, dailyvideo and the countless others), music and other streaming content are flooding websites across the globe. The famous Hi5 is overflowing with multimedia content. Try browsing any female's profile with dial-up and see the results. Useless. Downloading and interactive content are non-existent in the dial-up world.

(Unless you make use of it for specific purposes like VPN. Those COULD justify it, although much better solutions exist.)



I excluded MTML's 144Kbps dial-up above. It's worth considering if you are a light user, since it's pay-per-usage. However, it offers fairly decent speeds (16KBps down) considering it's price, and it being wireless. Do not think you'll be downloading massive files with this, unless you want your bills going through the roof! It's wireless btw (portable!). Pretty cool! If only it was unlimited usage...

Next target: ADSL. This service is considered to be "fast" by many Mauritians. We all desire that golden 128K ADSL when we are stuck with 56Kbps dial-up. When we have 128K, we want 512K, and then we want 1Mbps, but then we can't get it since it's priced at a whooping Rs.5990+VAT. Unless your daddy is Bill Gates or nicknamed "Deep-Pockets", I doubt you'll be taking it. With oldish ADSL, you will be stuck with speeds like 14KBps and 55KBps. Ok, 55KBps is a pretty big number, but it's slow. Trust me. You'll see why.

ADSL is fairly fast, I admit. Have you ever tried using ANY Internet connection in Mauritius during the day? Whatever ISP, whatever connection, it's awfully slow! I saw my 512K going like 3-10KBps during the day, instead of its top 55KBps. I can agree that during the day, businesses are booming and are given bandwidth priority. But come'on! That's less than 1/4 of what I should get! I still pay full-price btw!

MyT is another interesting service. It's a combined Internet-Video-Telephony package. It's cool actually, giving you 256K for the price of 128K. I dunno why people don't like it. Maybe because of the tons of "MyT is SLOWWW!" articles I see popping everywhere from time to time. I haven't tested it personally, so I cannot say. My friends who do have it say it's slow. Go ask them. :P

Next we have the wireless ones, that is Nomad and Emtel's packages. I've tested none of them, so I can't accurately describe how they are. I know loads of people using Nomad who keep complaining about slowness and loss of connection. I think it's normal, considering it's wireless. The connection can easy be affected by weather conditions, and Mauritius is not the flattest of countries. Mountains create shadow-zones. I've got nothing against Nomad. I never used it, though was very tempted for a time. But whenever I see Nomad mentioned, I tend to see other people using the word "slow".Go figure if it's true or not. I still give them a thumbs up for being MT's main competitor regarding Internet. It's not easy to compete against a big boy like MT, but seriously, the people at Nomad need to be applauded.



Emtel recently launched a new wireless Internet package. I haven't read any reviews of it yet, nor have heard anybody mentioning it. IMHO, it's more suited for business-people who are constantly on the move, rather than home users. The price of its "modem" should also be considered. Priced at Rs.6000+, I doubt it'd find many home users.

Long, huh? You still with me? Good! :P Now comes the good part.

I mentioned that Mauritian Internet is outdated. Yes it is. Dial-up and ADSL are things of the past. Nowadays, people talk in terms of VDSL, ADSL 2, cable, combined packages and FTTH. Oh the greatness! What does this mean? Megabit speeds, baby! In excess of 1Mbps usually! 2Mbps, 8Mbps, 16Mbps, 24Mbps! That's the speeds we are talking about! FTTH? 50+ Mbps! That's the beginning! Comcast wants to offer 150Mbps through channel-bonding! Universities abroad have GIGABIT speeds!

A rapid check here shows a very interesting thing: you can get 8Mbps at sub-10 pounds prices! This means 8Mbps at less than Rs.1000, while you pay Rs.5990+ for 1Mbps. You pay around 6 times more, for 8 times less speed. See any logic in this? I don't. Unless I consider that UK has many more Internet users than Mauritius! Feast your eyes on these Speeds/Price comparisons!

With 512K at max speed (55K or so in Mauritius), you can download a 5MB audio clip in around 2 minutes. If you had 1Mbps (priced at Rs.5990 - omphh!), you could download that same clip in under 45 seconds. If you had 8Mbps or more? It'd take less than 10 secs. More? It'd be instantaneous. That's the importance of speed. If you wanna time it yourself, here. Now we are talking about streaming HD (High Definition) content off Internet? Forget it if you have less-than-megabit speeds.

This is what I'd call a decent Internet connection, one that does not need to buffer my youtube videos every second or so, that does not take ages (~1hr at max speed, but I once waited almost 7hrs for 100Mbps to download - at 10KBps speeds) to download a 100Mb file and that doesn't lag my online gaming sessions. This is the type of connection required if you want to participate in the web 2.0 revolution, the social and multimedia Internet. Alright, you don't need 24Mbps to do most things, but a 2Mbps priced at less than Rs.1000 does help! Specially considering that 512Kbps (1/4 of 2Mbps, and 16x less than 8Mbps) is priced at Rs.1360+VAT.

Still need proof? Check the pictures below. Click for a larger version. They show the average price/megabit in other countries.



Mauritius is being promoted as a Cyber Island, and temping major IT players to come and invest in Mauritius and do business and employ our people. I seriously doubt that any major company will come if they see the crappy Internet we have here. No seriously! Would you come to a small island, almost lost in the Indian Ocean? Maybe. To invest? Maybe. Knowing it only offers max. 1Mbps or 2Mbps? Overpriced? You are kidding! They won't! The only folks that will come are call centres. They have already flocked in, and are doing a good job soaking in the unemployed.

Thousands of call centres do not make a cyber island. Programming companies do. Data centres do. Specialized services do. Development and research companies do. And I doubt any of those would come knowing the state of our Internet infrastructure. We need to realise that our Internet connection service is what links us to the real world out there. It's like a highway that leads to development. Unfortunately, the highway looks like the small lane that my dog dug near the mango tree! It's nothing! We need something big! Like this:



Oh we had hopes! Oh yes we did! When? When UCL said they'd be bringing FTTH in Mauritius. When the rumor said that MTML would be offering high-speed, uncapped Internet services at Rs.500. Whenever there is a decrease in prices. All these boosted our hopes. For a time. Price decreases are nice. They make Internet available to the people, but in no way help existing power users, who hunger to surf on the newer and bigger waves of the Internet. It's time to change. It's time ISPs and the government decides to act. I knowwwww! "We don't have enough Internet users." "The investment will not be justified." bla bla bla!

What's that? If there are 5 people living in a village, does this mean that CWA will not put pipelining there, justified by "there are not enough water users there"? Same reasoning! Ok, water is a life necessity. Internet is rapidly becoming one. We are more and more connected, and it's already very apparent.

I am adding this section following a comment from Carrotmadman6, reminding me of EASSy (Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System) cable. Will this be the ultimate solution to our oldish Internet services? Maybe, maybe not. I've not heard about Eassy for almost 3 years now. Governments have apparently approved of the project, but so far, nothing new has emerged. More information about EASSy can be found here. Note: the map doesn't show the cable connected to Mauritius, since this addition is quite recent and the map is not up-to-date. It's here to give a general idea. EASSy is in red.



For now, we only have 2 lonely Cyber Towers in Ebene. The Two Towers only cannot grant us the name. We need to act, then we can call ourselves a Cyber Island. For now? Let's be humble and call us: Prehistoric Internet Services Island.

To conclude, an event that I'd like to see occur in 2008 would be that the quality and speed of our Internet services increase. Time to update. Quoting Benjamin Franklin, "You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again."

Furthur reading:

Nomadcom - Europe vs Asia - Broadband Price Comparison

And this concludes the 1st post of 2008, and MTW#5. Comments appreciated. :D



The new year is here folks! So I will use this post to wish you, guys and gals, humans and aliens and whomever/whatever you are:

A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR 2008!!

May your wishes be fulfilled, and that you are met with prosperity!
That your path be lit by an unerring light.
And that you have success in whatever you do.

As with every year, we got some "new year resolutions" so I thought I might post my top #5, though I doubt that only 1-2 will be fulfilled! It's good to hope, I heard! :P

#1 = Become more creative in things I do.
#2 = Become less addicted to computers. (I'm a technoholic)
#3 = Find somebody for myself. (A geekette?)
#4 = Learn a music instrument // Sleep earlier. No more online at 3am. (Tie)
#5 = Develop a more outgoing personality.

As always comments appreciated, and I'd like to know what your resolutions are! :P


 

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