Archive for the ‘ Software ’ Category

Facebook and Death

A while ago I wrote two posts, one about Facebook learning to deal with Death and the second asking the question what happens to your digital self when you die ? Yes, FaceBook did come up with a solution to Memorize pages of friends who were no longer amongst us, but Facebook has now gone one Up with the concept of a sort of a virtual cemetery: a place where people could record their thoughts, memories and life lessons for their family and the public to learn from and discuss. Our Facebook pages are our living testaments. They feature some of our most important memories, the people we care about, and in some cases, our life’s work. They’re a version of our autobiographies and when we die, they can serve as a form of our obituaries.

If your friends have lost someone recently, you’ve probably seen them mourn and celebrate the person’s life online. Sometimes friends or family will create a group dedicated to the memory of that person., and people will add in the memories that they have had with them. When the family or close relatives of that person visits the page, I imagine the feeling is rich and meaningful in a way that’s different from visiting the cemetery.

Facebook’s addition of the ability to “memorialize” pages — a policy born of the 2007 shooting at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University was a good start. Memorializing pages turns a personal page into a memorial page. The page is only accessible to confirmed friends and sensitive information like phone numbers and status updates are removed to protect the privacy of the individual. Friends can leave messages on the page and look at the deceased person’s wall postings and photos.

If nobody goes through the process of having the page memorialized or taken down, the page lives on indefinitely and can lead to the jarring experience of seeing their photo pop up on your page with a message to “say hello” to them or add them as a friend. Facebook sets up those notifications to get infrequent users more involved so, naturally, people who have died are among those who show up most.

I suggest to utilize groups and group discussions to mourn and remember the deceased. The group pages allow anyone to join, not just people who were Facebook friends with the deceased. Groups are set up to be more of a community so it facilitates interaction among people. People can discuss specific memories, or upload photos for example.

Facebook doesn’t have specific numbers of memorialized pages or groups, but as Facebook users get older, the numbers will increase. Perhaps someday there will be more memorial pages than pages for living people.

To report a deceased person’s profile on Facebook, and turn it into a memorialized account.

For more information on creating and managing a Facebook group.

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Goo.gl really pushing QR Codes

How do you know that a technology is beginning to take off ? Google does something with it, thats how. After Twitter, the importance of the length of a webpage URL needed some real looking at, because you would get only 140 characters to include the URL and your message, hence the birth of the URL Shortness. Needless to say Google thought it was a good idea and came up with a similar service called goo.gl. Its been shown below that it is indeed one of the best services available out there. That is the first piece of the jigsaw.

qrcode

QR Code is something that Google has showed interest in from getting it onto the Google maps for businesses, to now a URL shortening service which generates QR codes for the shortened code. For those of you who don’t recall, a QR (“quick response”) code is a square barcode that makes getting URLs, location coordinates, any text or contact information onto a phone fast. With a barcode scanner app installed, you just point your phone’s camera at the code to read its contents.

If you’re already using Goo.gl to shorten your URLs, simply add .qr to the end of a shortened Goo.gl URL and it’ll instantly generate a QR code for you.

Once you’ve got your shortened Goo.gl URL—like http://goo.gl/aXum, which points to Lifehacker’s home page—just append .qr like so:

http://goo.gl/aXum.qr

…and you’ve got your personal QR code. Not bad.

Note: To use Goo.gl to shorten URLs, you need to be using the Google Toolbar, or you can point your browser here . You can also check out my previous post about QR Codes here.

How to Download movies from the Internet using BitTorrents

A Beginners Guide

I have been asked a few times, how people are downloading movies from the Internet, People with nearly no technical skills want to but don’t really know how to download movies. Before I can do a how to on this one I definitely need to mention that I quite frankly do not support downloading illegal content from the Internet. You have to be careful when downloading torrents as many of them are copyrighted and illegal. Now that that is out of the way, lets see how we can download a movie from the internet. For this How To I am going to use a website that hosts free public domain movies like http://www.publicdomaintorrents.com/ which do not carry copyright infringement in doing so.

Step 1 : Get yourself a Bit Torrent ‘client’

Bit Torrent is a process where you can share files with many people called lechers, through a process known as peer to peer networking. Peer to peer is actually a form of networking where unlike accessing google.com or yahoo.com where you request information from the Google server, you would request this information from a private user connected to the internet elsewhere in the world. Since this is different from just plain ‘browsing’ you would need a specialist software to actually connect with many peers or seeders. Unlike browsing where you use Internet Explorer, Firefox or Google Chrome which are browsers, what you would need is a Bit Torrent ‘client’ software. There are possibly hundreds of free Bit Torrent Clients out there, but the most popular among these are Vuse, uTorrent and BitTorrent. The process that you would use for downloading would be more or less similar regardless of what client you use. I would however suggest using uTorrent as it is not only the most popular but also the best of the lot according to me. To download uTorrent, Go to uTorrent.com and click on the big Free download button to get the Bit Torrent client. Once it is downloaded you could follow the procedure to install the software on your computer, it’s pretty straight forward to do so. Now you are ready for step 2.

Step 2 : Get the torrent file

Once you have the Torrent Client installed on your computer, you will then need to tell the client what file you want to download and from where. For this very purpose seeders or people who share for information on the internet, create a file with extension .torrent. Just like your word or excel files have an extension .doc or .xls and open in Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel, the .torrent file opens up in your Bit Torrent client when you open it. There are many hundreds of torrent sites on the internet and most of these offer various downloads like music, movies, documentaries, books, games and even software. You could search for your choice of downloads on these sites and obtain the .torrent file. This is usually marked with, “download torrent here” or “Download this Torrent”. Examples of sites which provide torrents are http://www.thepiratebay.org, http://www.mininova.org, http://www.demonoid.com and then there are other websites that act as torrent search engines that actually bring together the torents from various torrent sites online, these might be http://www.torrentfreak.com, http://www.cinematorrents.com/ and others.

Step 3 : Open the .torrent file in your client and wait

Once you have downloaded the .torrent file from the site that you want, Usually, the web browser’s file download manager will ask what to do with this file. You want to open the file with your torrent client. If it doesn’t open that way, just save the .torrent file to an easy to locate place. Then open your torrent client and use the “Open Torrent” feature(Most torrent clients support click & drag). Now you can let your Bit torrent Client do the work for you while you can go away and do something else on your computer or kill time, because torrents do not require your attention and will download in the background. How long a torrent takes to complete the download is completely dependent on how fast is your internet speed, How many people are sharing the file (seeds) and how big the file that you are trying to download is. Usually movies are about 700 MB – 1.37 GB and this would mean that it would take about 8 hours of download on a 512KB connection with a few hundred seeds.

Tips and Warnings

· You can close your torrent program and turn off your computer when you need to. Most torrent programs will resume download process automatically when you start them back up. If the download doesn’t resume automatically, there should be an option to start downloading, by either right clicking on the file and choose “Start” or a button somewhere in the program.

· There are other torrent clients (programs) that can be used so do your research on these also. The most popular torrent programs are uTorrent, Azureus and BitTorrent.

  • There are Torrent search engines that search the popular torrent clients (programs). This saves you time by not having to search each individual torrent client site. The most popular torrent search engines are TorrentReactor.net, Nowtorrents.com and Qtorrents.com .
  • When looking for torrent files, try to find ones with plenty of Seeders. When searching for torrents, you can often sort the results by seeds, simply by clicking on the seeds column header.
  • Seeders (Seeds): Are people who have a complete copy of the torrent’s files and are only uploading (sending) data to the people who are downloading (peers).
  • Leechers (Peers): Are people who have a portion of the torrent’s files while they are downloading they are actively uploading to help others download more quickly.
  • Downloading torrents can slow your computer down depending on how well your computer performs. Recommended specs for each client vary, but on average you should have at least 512 MB of RAM and a 1 GHz CPU. You will also need space for the files you want to save.
  • In certain jurisdictions it is illegal to download content through peer to peer networks such as bittorrent. There is a program which blocks certain IP addresses from communicating with your computer and can help protect you while downloading. PeerGuardian can be found at:phoenixlabs.org/pg2or [1]
  • Keep your anti-virus program and its definitions fully up-to-date, downloaded software from ‘sharing’ sources carries a high risk of infection.
  • Downloading torrents can slow your overall internet connection down if you don’t properly tweak your upload rate. DSL and Cable modems have problems downloading if you’re uploading at your maximum rate. Set your clients maximum rate to 80% of your maximum upload rate if you can adjust it. If you set your upload rate too low, your downloads will slow to a crawl.
  • It’s important to know about bittorrents so that you know the risks, consequences, and best practices.
  • Make sure you check the comment section before downloading, if there is one, to see if the torrent is real or not.

All I can say now is Happy Downloading .

Good Free Software Packs …. Found It !!

Although commercial software have a lot of features built into them, its mostly the small open source software that are my favourite. They are free completely, legal, and what’s more they give you a combination of all the utilities that you might need to achieve from your paid software. I wanted the people that read this blog also to have the advantage of using all the awesome open source software, so I started working on a list of websites that provide these software so that I can start posting about them. The list became so varied and long that I started what if there was one application that just listed all these out, version control included. Found It !! ZuApp.

ZeuAPP is essentially an installation dashboard for 82 applications. You can navigate to application types like CD Burners, P2P apps, Office apps, and more. Under each tab are applications for that category with a “Download” and “Visit Website” button which allow you to download the application and automatically launch the installer or visit the web site for more info. ZeuAPP is freeware, portable, and Windows only.

ZuApp can be downloaded at http://blog.zeusoft.net/zeuapp

Now since a lot of the software that ZuApp brings is not portable, I again started on a lookout for portable version of ZuApp, guess what? Found It ! WinPenPack was the answer this time.

If you’re interested in packing your flash drive with portable apps but you’re dragging your feet getting around to downloading them all, winPenPack fits over a hundred applications into a single portable package. Although I did write about others here before, this seemed like a great application to find all in one zone.

WinPenPack can be downloaded at http://www.winpenpack.com/

Ok, you dont want just open source but free software. Twell the answer is … Fount It!! Ninite is the name, free software is the game.

If you’re upgrading to Windows 7 from XP, you’ll spend a lot of time grabbing installers and Next-Next-Next-clicking through setup wizards. Unless you use Ninite to check off the best free software and install it all at once. Ninite works exactly as advertised. Head to Ninite’s web site, check off the free downloads you want from each category, grab the custom installer download that it serves up, and run it. Ninite runs through each installation with an absolute minimum of pop-up questions—none of them, in face, with most installs—and then it’s done.The selection is pretty great, too, with many of the must-have apps like VLC, Audacity, IrfanView, Paint.Net, uTorrent, and many more.

Ninite can be downloaded from http://ninite.com/

So go ahead fill up your USB / Computer with awesome software for free !!

A Story of Easter, Eggs and Geeks

First things first, Happy Easter to one and all, and hope you have a good celebration today. One of the oldest and famous traditions of Easter is of course Easter Eggs, and the idea of Parents hiding the easter eggs for the kids to find it was just something that kinda makes Easter fun for the kids. Dont get me wrong Christmas is still my favourite christian festival. Well what is Easter Eggs doing in a tech blog ? Well, we geeks have a good sense of humour and patience to include all things around us into geeky versions of them. I am talking about Software Eggs, or hidden pieces of code or functionality that shows up when you look for it in a software. If that was confusing then I guess you can check out the definition in Wikipedia:

A virtual Easter egg is an intentional hidden message, in-joke or feature in an object such as a movie, book, CD, DVD, computer program, web page or video game. The term was coined—according to Warren Robinett—by Atari after they were pointed to the secret message left by Robinett in the game Adventure. It draws a parallel with the custom of the Easter egg hunt observed in many Western nations as well as the last Russian imperial family’s tradition of giving elaborately jeweled egg-shaped creations by Carl Fabergé which contained hidden surprises.

Well hoping that is clear I would like to point out some cool Easter Eggs in popular software such you can go out on your own Easter Egg trail. Well these were actually by lifeHacker, I am just reposting for people who might not have had the chance to check it out there.

10. Firefox Book of Mozilla Easter Egg

How to find it: In all versions of Firefox, in the address bar, type about:mozilla.
What you get: A quote from the “Book of Mozilla” about the birth of Firefox.

9. Internet Explorer 6/7 credits

How to find it: Using Internet Explorer 7 (not IE6 or the IE8 beta), typejavascript:window.name=”TheWCEE”;location.href=”res://shdoclc.dll/wcee.htm”into the address bar.
What you get: A hidden page of IE developer credits.

8. Firefox Kitchen Sink

In Firefox 2 and higher, type about kitchensink (no colon in there, unlike about:mozilla!). Update: A commenter points out that this is Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” search in action, not an Easter egg at all. Our bad!
What you get: An automatic redirect to an animated, ASCII art kitchen sink.

7. Google Earth 4.2 Flight Simulator

How to find it: Launch the latest version 4.2 of Google Earth (free download) and hit Ctrl+Alt+A (Mac users: Cmd+Opt+A.)
What you get: A full-on flight simulator that lets you choose an airport, plane type, and lets you fly inside Google Earth. It is fun but it’s not easy; here’s more on how to navigate in flight in Google Earth.

6. OpenOffice.org Calc Tic-Tac-Toe and Space Invaders Games (also works in NeoOffice on the Mac!)

How to find it: Using OpenOffice.org’s Calc spreadsheet program, type=GAME(A2:C4;”TicTacToe”) into any cell.
What you get: A game of Tic-Tac-Toe! For Space Invaders, type =GAME(“StarWars”). Here are more OpenOffice.org Easter eggs.

5. Emacs Therapist

How to find it: In the Mac Terminal (or at any command line), type emacs, hit Enter, press Escape, type “xdoctor” (no quotes).
What you get: An interactive dialogue with a shrink named Eliza. To get out of it, hit Control+X Control+C.

4. Minesweeper Reveal Mines Cheat

(Note: Technically, this is more a cheat than an egg.)
How to find it: In Minesweeper, type “xyzzy.” Then press Shift+Enter.
What you get: A single pixel on the upper-left hand corner of your monitor will turn black when you mouse over a block that contains a mine. Get the high score on the family computer! (Note: several people report that this cheat works on Windows XP with SP2, but those with widescreen monitors like myself might have trouble. Let us know if it works for you in the comments.)

3. Excel 97 Flight Simulator

How to find it: This one’s an oldie but a goodie. Using Excel 97 (doesn’t work in later versions), create a new worksheet, and press F5. Type “X97:L97” and press Enter. Press the Tab key, hold down Ctrl and Shift, and left-click the Chart Wizard toolbar icon.
What you get: Launched into a nifty flight simulator that glides you over the surface of a planet (the moon?) and shows you Excel developer credits. (I don’t have a copy of Excel 97 any more, but definitely got this puppy to work back in the day.) Thanks to EggHeaven for reminding us of the steps to get there.

2. Picasa Teddy Bears

How to find it: In Picasa, press Ctrl+Shift+Y.
What you get: Your photo library taken over by teddy bears! Keep hitting the key combo to add more bears. Update:Apparently this is one of the Picasa programmer’s teddies, named Thomas. Thanks, telekinetyk! [via PC
World
]

1. uTorrent Tetris

How to find it: In uTorrent, go to the Help menu and choose “About uTorrent.” Press the letter T.
What you get: A game of Tetris while you wait for your download to complete. Thanks, computer joe!

Thanks to EggHeaven for tipping us off to many of these eggs. You can also head out to http://www.eeggs.com/ and find more for yourself.

18 Uses for your Phone Camera as a tool

When the first camera phones were introduced we all said, “Why the heck would I need a camera phone?”. It will never replace my camera because the quality and clarity is really bad with the camera phones. More so now, that a lot of people are looking and slowly upgrading to SLR’s. So where is the need for the camera of the camera phone ? Well in the new technology world, the camera becomes a very handy tool for managing your life. In fact the camera serve a lot of functions making your life all the more easy. I have listed out a few below but then definitely there will be more uses, these few are enough to convince you take your camera phone around everywhere if you don’t already do so. Your camera may be a toy, but there’s no reason it can’t also be a tool.

  1. Manage Business Cards: Scanr.com makes small utilities for mobiles that take advantage of the phone camera for OCR or Optical Character Recognition. This means that you can take a picture of a business card and use scanr.com to recognize the text so you can import them into your contact management software. You don’t really need to stack needless business cards anymore.
  2. Land marking : On the road to an appointment, you pass a brand new office park. Ah! New prospects! Don’t we love those. Take a picture of the directory listing and call the companies located here when you get back to the office. This can be used to snap off pictures of new bars / restaurants at your leisure. This is a great tool to help give people directions through landmarks as well, so now not only are they looking for a place, but they know what it looks like.  If there is a store that says coming soon and you want to remember to go there, take a picture of it to remember.
  3. Remember Parking Locations : One of the pastimes in Dubai everyone will say is mall walking, and getting there and parking your car in the huge multi level, multi zone parking usually leads to people forgetting where they have parked their cars. It leads to more frustration and waste of time. A quick snap of the location would definitely guide you back. This is even applicable at airports or anywhere else where you have large parking locations.
  4. Brainstorming: You just had a terrific brainstorm session with your prospect or your technical expert. The white-board is filled with pictures, bullet points, arrows and diagrams. But how do you capture these thoughts, short of writing everything down? And even when written down, it might not be the exact interpretation of the diagrams. A  picture can save all the trouble, if you get a picture of the whiteboard it might save hours of back and forth emails on the reconfirmation and clarification. This is something we use extensively. This method allows you to “save” a set of ideas, wipe the board clean, then see if you can come up with something better. It removes the fear of losing a past idea, and allows better ones to surface. We store all the images in a shared location on the network which makes it easy for everyone to access.
  5. Use it instead of a printer: If you need to take directions with you, but don’t have a printer, take a picture of the computer screen instead. You can zoom in quite a lot, and will be able to read the directions on the camera’s monitor. Also works for confirmation numbers, email addresses and incriminating online photos of friends and acquaintances.
  6. Remember small details: It has happened to everyone, we want to buy a cartridge for a printer or something like that but when you get to the store you get asked what is the model name for your brand of printer, and you don’t know the exact model number. Well you can snap a picture of the replacement device you need and when you are done with it, you can throw away the device (e.g. the Cartridge)
  7. Mark your property: People usually never return back Mobiles or cameras that they find. However, in case someone that wants to actually is looking for information, you need to be able to give him the information. But How ? Well you can take a picture of your name and address and lock it on your memory card. That way at least you give the information to someone who might be interested in it.
  8. Shopping Lists: Before heading out to buy ingredients for a particular recipe, especially for Indian food, take a picture of the ingredient list. At the store of course you will be able to zoom into the image and check out what you need in terms of you specialist shopping list.  You could also check out your notes on your hand written list as well to ensure that all items are purchased.
  9. Way Finding : Retracing your steps might be difficult if you are at a unknown part of the city, or are venturing out for camping etc. By taking pictures of each different path you take with landmarks and tree signs etc. It will be quite simple to walk / drive back. It is an interesting application, however you will need to get used to taking pictures in both directions so that you know the route on the way back.
  10. In Case of Emergency : Most mobiles allow you to store images in ascending order, have the first picture the one where you have information regarding your blood group etc. Lock the picture so that it does not get completely deleted. However, also make sure that the information is enough for someone to help you and not as much as someone to misuse it in case you lose your phone.
  11. Use it as a mirror : Check your teeth for spinach when you don’t have a mirror Or see how you look in really dark sunglasses. It’s pretty straight forward, click your own picture  either with the forward or the main camera of the camera phone.
  12. Make a Wish list: Ever wonder what is the name of that album at your friends place that you wanted to download .. err buy, or get books that are something that you want to buy for yourself. You can snap a picture of the details and keep it as your wish list of Christmas purchases or good deal buys.
  13. While trying to ‘Fix’ things : Take pictures of each step when you take something apart, so you’ll know how to put it back together later on. That way you won’t end up with those four screws and one unidentified twiddly bit that always seem to be left over after “fixing” something.
  14. Flash light : The flash for most cameras can be used as a focusing flashlight when you are in the dark. Or, if you drop your keys behind the sofa, use the monitor on your camera to help you see into places you can’t quite reach.
  15. Record Phone Numbers : Chances are it’s easier to find your camera in a bag full of stuff than it is to find a blank piece of paper and a pen that actually works. Save yourself some time and snap a picture of that crucial phone number when you’re out apartment hunting, or when you see a flyer you don’t want to forget. (Ps : If you are clever enough you will dial the number directly into the phone lol)
  16. License Plates: Did you ever get the feeling that you weren’t going to make it out of a parking lot unscathed? If a certain combination of carseat+closeparking+exhaust modification sets off your “door ding” alarm, give yourself peace of mind by snapping a shot of your new neighbors. Or maybe you can be a detective and snap off plates of guys driving crazy on the road to blog about, and do a naming and shaming thing.
  17. QR Codes : QR Codes are interesting bar code like codes where you can read about a lot of information, like URL etc. for the mobile phones. QR codes are increasingly used in shopping as well, you can snap a picture of the QR code and make use of the information that it will provide. Check out more about it in an earlier post here.
  18. Augmented Reality: If you click on the tag on the right, you will find many posts on this blog explaining the possibilities. I am sure that a gadget with a camera will become a quintessential tool of tomorrow. Check out the posts here.

Think I have left some out, please add them below as comments.

Oorja power, an Indians Invention taking on Bloom Box

Bloom Box is the brain child of an Indian, Mr. K R Sridhar who used to work at NASA and found that Fuel Cells using the right potent fuel for its input can be used to run entire house holds. Now Another Indian Mr. Sanjiv Malhotra is now looking to challenge the invention with another invention of his own which uses Methanol as the input fuel to generate clean electricity for the homes. Yes you read it right, two people from the sub continent in USA are working on technologies that can change the face of the earth.

With stationary fuel cells hot again, Oorja Protonics is jumping into the market. In a few months, the company, which specializes in methanol fuel cells, will release a fuel cell capable of generating 5 kilowatts of power, enough to run a home or small business or to provide backup power to cell towers. It’s somewhat small in size, as well. Check out the video: the 5-kilowatt fuel cell fits on top of a gurney. It is about the same size as a 500-watt device Oorja produced a few years back, then the market for this technology did not really exist. “This will sit on large forklifts. You could use it for auxiliary power for trucks, RVs or marine applications, or for off-grid power for homes or farms,” said CEO Sanjiv Malhotra. “This opens up a plethora of other markets.” For larger applications, the fuel cells can be chain-ganged together. Connect twenty of them and they would be capable of generating 100 kilowatts of power — as much energy as the recently unfurled Bloom Energy Server. Check out the video below.

Methanol is one of the mostly commonly produced chemicals in the world, costs about $1 to $2 a gallon and doesn’t have to be transported under pressure so it’s easy to ship. Many car manufacturing plants already have large tanks on site to store methanol because it’s the same chemical as windshield washer fluid. Methanol would be delivered to plants that don’t have large tanks in large plastic drums. Methanol also has environmental advantages over lead acid batteries. Oorja claims a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions even if the methanol for its fuel cells were produced from coal liquification or natural gas. But methanol can also be made using non-food biowaste, which would virtually eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.

Malhotra founded Oorja, which means energy in Sanskrit, in 2005. The Fremont-based company employs about 35 and Aug. 25 announced a 60-unit sale to a Nissan factory in Smyrna, Tenn. Nissan has tested Oorja’s products for the last 18 months. Malhotra studied fuel cells in graduate school two decades ago, first at the University of Iowa and then at the University of California, Berkeley. “Back then, nobody had heard of fuel cells,” he said. “I remember looking for a job after I finished my Masters and people were sending me to gas stations.” After completing a Ph.D., Malhotra worked at H Power, where he landed an $81 million sale for H Power’s propane fuel cells. The company went public in 2000, raising $100 million and selling in 2002. After tiring of early retirement, Malhotra founded Oorja.