Archive for March 2011
The social networking website Facebook has to be known to make new changes at a rate similar to some sports website changing it’s content and hardly a handful percentage of users get to know about what’s actually going on. A few days back, Orli Yakuel on Tech Crunch mentioned five things Facebook should fix immediately in it’s interface, and also ranted about the rapidity of changes Facebook has been carelessly doing lately. Today while messing around my account’s settings, I came across a few functions you might wanna enable/disable to feel a lil bit more secure on the network.
Turn on HTTPS:
HTTPS is an extension of a the normal Hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP). (The ‘S’ in HTTPS stands for “Secure”.) With HTTPS, whatever information you share on the web goes through a secure medium in an encrypted form. So does data via HTTP go in plain text form, you may ask. Yes, full plain text. From your chats, to statuses to messages, everything is sent in plain text. Which means anyone having access to those servers can read your stuff. Every damn stuff. But now that Facebook let’s you completely browse via HTTPS and it’s time that you enabled it. Go to Account | Account Settings – scroll down to ‘Change Security’ and check ‘Secure browsing (https)’ . As mentioned earlier here on Awesome Tech, enabling login notifications is also a good practice.
**You can also enable HTTPS for all the websites by installing this simple browser extension, which is another good practice.
Turn off Instant Personalization
Now Instant Personalization is a complicated feature that Facebook is slowly rolling out to people. To learn more about it go to: https://www.facebook.com/instantpersonalization/. Now, whether you care to learn more about it or not, it is advised you turn it off. To do that go to Account | Privacy Settings | Apps, games and websites settings | Instant Personalization | Uncheck “Enable instant personalisation on partner websites.” (Instant Personalization is not available to all users as of now)
Disable Facebook Places
Now I’m concerned about my privacy and Facebook Places is something that could mess up one’s privacy to a newer extent. What is Facebook Places? If Facebook Places is enabled, you can check into places – like any place and tell “I’m here at XYZ joint”. Besides that, your friends can check you in places. Though good for social network, I have a few questions though. Why would one like to do that? Why would one tell everyone where he/she is? That’s insanely stupid! And keep privacy aside, telling where you are to your social network isn’t the safest of tasks! To disable Facebook Places, go to Account | Privacy Settings | Set “Places I check into” to ‘Only Me’; un check “Include me in “People here now” after I check in” and “Disable” the option “Friends can check me in to places”.
Cut down information available through friends
In order to serve stupid apps better, Facebook allows apps to access your data if a certain friend uses a certain stupid app – like a quiz or something. To see what you’re sharing and to change those settings go to Account | Privacy Settings | Apps, games and websites settings | Click Edit Settings next to “Information accesible through your friends” and suit yourself. Best thing to do is to uncheck every option in that list!
Don’t let Facebook show your info in Facebook Adverts
Facebook has came up with a unique idea called Social Adverts. Keeping this functionality enabled, the adverts can now boast your information along side the advert. What kind of information? Your likes. And in some cases, your profile picture. Like for example, let’s say your are Mike Chang. Now an advertiser opts for social actions with his advertisements on Facebook and if you “like” that advertiser’s page – the advert to your friend might appear as, “Mike Chang” likes this. It might or might not have profile picture. Now this isn’t a big deal, but I would not like if I was Mike Change. So better off, you can disable this by going to Account | Account Settings | Facebook Adverts and opt for “None” for both the options.
Besides changing these five, it’s always advised to keep as subtle information as possible on social networks. Who knows what can happen someday! Socialize safe:)
HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocal Secured) is a better web protocol to interact with rather than HTTP. What’s the difference you may ask.
Well, in simple words, HTTPS is more secure. Why? Because HTTPS sends all the data you give to your browser, in a secured and an encrypted form – i.e. only servers can read your stuff.
It’s a good practice to opt for HTTPS wherever possible even if one gets that as a compromise to browsing speed. Having said that, it’s not all websites have HTTPS servers and also, it’s difficult to figure out which site has and which doesn’t. And if you do figure out those sites, there might be further glitches in accessing them via HTTPS.
And that’s where Firefox addon HTTPS everywhere comes in place. HTTPS pulls the strings at possible website that could use HTTPS servers and let’s you browse safely. And does all that efficiently.
In today’s unsafe world of web, this Firefox addon’s a must!
**Install ‘HTTPS everywhere’ – https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere
**Difference between HTTP and HTTPS – https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/HTTP_Secure#Difference_from_HTTP
However, right clicking tabs again and again and pinning them is a pain. So I found this Firefox Addon : Easy App Tabs – a no restart required addon which makes pinning tabs simpler as hell.
Just double click the tab and there you go – you have a pinned tab. Double click again and it comes back to normal state.
Now I am not much of a Chrome user but if you know a way to do this in Chrome (which by the way I didn’t find), fire in a comment.
Here’s the link to Easy App Tabs [Firefox 4 Compatible]
Backing up your data is one of the most important task a computer user has to face these days and even though with the advent of popular online services like Dropbox, there’s always an err here or there which when you’re machine goes down, makes your job of making your machine work again a difficult one. You may ask, so what am I talking about here – different backup software?
No. I’m talking about creating a folder (or an external drive partition) covering all the basics required just to get your system back in shape. To me, although backing up my data was never a big deal, re-installing an operating system was – more so if I lost a disk or two. And in today’s age, it’s very difficult to manage flash drives let alone optical disks.
So today while configuring a new 1TB hard drive (which I bought to ensure I didn’t have to delete my massive volume collection of TV shows and movies and also to get an efficient back up system in place) I decided to make a simple folder (although a partition is recommended) with all the important stuff one might need while re-installing the operating system. (Now I hope such situation of reinstalling everything doesn’t occur to anyone. No one! But mind me, people don’t learn. Just last weekend I helped two friends to reinstall their systems. I’m scheduled for one more for the next weekend.)
What did I include in this folder, you may ask. Simple… Here’s a quick list first.
- An installation of Flash Boot.
- An .iso of Lucid Puppy 5.2
- An .iso image of the OS’s DVD (Windows 7 Premium in my case, which came in bundled with my machine)
- A text file of OS’s license key (Because the Microsoft sticker is quickly losing the shape)
- An installation of Daemon Tools Lite (any image emulation software)
- An .iso image of system’s Drivers and Utilities disk (that Drivers disk which manufacturers bundle with your system)
So how would all this stuff help, you make ask. Here’s how. Flash boot is a software that let’s you make USB drives bootable. If my machine goes boom and if the other machine which I’m working on meanwhile has no internet connection, has no DVD drive, I could simply make a partition in my external hard drive and burn any .iso file to it and get things done faster. Yes, having no internet connection is lame these days, but who knows? Be prepared for the worst, they say.
Why Lucid Puppy? Lucid Puppy(formerly known as Puppy Linux) is the lightest Linux version I’ve ever come across and I’ve rescued very very important docs using it and not just once, on numerous occasions. Just burn this .iso on a DVD or USB and you’re running an OS just from that removable media – Just like a Live CD. You can use other Live CDs like Ubuntu, but compared to other Live OS like Ubuntu and Fedora, Puppy is much faster, lighter and simpler. What it can do? Well primarily used in my cases to recover data before on a bad OS machine before formatting a hard drive. And it does that like a charm.
After taking the data back you can simply boot with your primary OS’s disk (if you have it safe) or again burn it on a disk or USB now that you have an iso saved on your hard drive, and reinstall the machine. Or repair it. Suit yourself. And after re-installation, you can use a simple disk emulation software like Daemon and get your drivers back in shape with the iso.
Why this can help? Because as I said, optical drives are easy to lose. And especially the OS disks which tend to be a lot sensitive – a few scratches and they’re gone. The other software included is pretty much for worst case scenarios but it’s still good if you create one. It takes just 7GB of space, which isn’t bad for what it’s worth.
What if I don’t have an external hard drive? Then invest in one. And use a back up software like Acronis TrueImage for Windows, or Time Machine for Mac. If you are a regular computer user, you must invest in an external drive. Besides, they’re very cheap these days.
Other ways to Backup: Use services like Dropbox to keep your important to very important data backed up online.
Few days back I was studying math and listening to music on my laptop. Now the screen was distracting so I needed a solution. Although my power settings ensure that the screen goes off after one idle minute, it wasn’t easy to wait for one minute.
And so I found TurnoffLCD on Redmond Pie, thanks to Google. This small lil utility can sit anywhere in your computer and clicking it turns off the screen.
Now to increase the usability of the tool I used autohotkey a script based utility that lets you create shortcuts for anything on your machine. I set ctrl+win+alt as the shortcut and booyah, it worked like a charm.
-For newbies, after you instal autohokey, right click anywhere in your Windows explorer, select New and then Autohotkey Script. Paste the following in order to keep ctrl+win+alt as your shortcut.
^#aLT::Run (file location)\Turn Off LCD.exe
You might have read about this on Lifehacker recently. Did I copy it? No. Actually I tipped them via email. For some reason, they didn’t give the credit. Or maybe they don’t give the credit for email tips. Whatever, screw the credits but if you still think I compiled this piece from theirs, here’s a snapshot of my email to LH 🙂
If you were unlucky enough you might have already seen the ad featuring a kiddo trying to save energy by switching off electronics around her house. Then she gets shocked when she sees the computer going to sleep automatically. It’s the ad of some Greenputers launched by Chirag, a brand of Kolkata based RP Infosystems.
Now if you know your way around computers, you’d probably laugh on she getting shocked – because not just greenputers can put systems to sleep automatically but every damn computer today can do that – and that too without using any third party apps.
If you don’t know your way around computers, you should know such things can be done. Head to Power Options in Control Panel and explore. Explore a lot. And you’ll find how to save a bit of power and make your computing efficient.
And so, in the light of above, in my opinion their main marketing (I’m supposing they are not doing anything bigger than TV ads) plan has kinda turned haywire. As far as other marketing mediums are concerned – frankly, they SUCK there too.
Let’s cut back a lil. A few months back I was at an IT exhibition here in Ahmedabad. After browsing through 20 stalls, I landed to Greenputer’s stall. It was a corner one, four stalls combined into one huge floor area – perhaps they shelled out more bucks than any other company out there. They had a lot of green color in their stall and had three to five desktops on display. I went up to a machine and a representative followed. I asked what is so special about your machines that you call them greenputers?
His reasons were…
- Sir our computers save energy. Chirag computers have Windows 7 pre-installed and with its integrated automatic go to sleep modes, our computers use less energy. Also, we have Energy star certification.
- These machiens save paper because our computers have enough storage to store your documents. That way use of hard copies can be lowered.
- And with saving energy and saving paper, you ultimately save money sir.
And after his reasoning, which he thought was perfect – his facial expressions and body language told so – I was like what the fuck is he upto? I said, dude hope you are aware that other brands sell the same. Screw your competitors, an assembled system can attain the same objectives – that too at cheaper prices.
Now he was in a fix. Perplexingly he said, “Sir I am not telling other companies don’t sell this type of stuff… it’s just that… that we also sell it.”
I laughed, not smiled, but laughed; laughed out loud! Grabbed an introductory brochure from his hands and walked off.
And laughing and walking off was a mild insult I think. I mean that company is selling ordinary stuff and using bollocks USP to promote it. Fuck I’ve got better settings on my machines since ages. One idle minute and LCD goes off. 15 idle minutes and machine goes into hibernation.
The idea of saving paper sucks; it’s practically impossible to go against papers. Not at least in the next 5-7 years. Is it?
And saying we have an Energy Star certification also imbues. Look around your machine, you might find one of that Energy Star logo. Most computers today, especially the ones that are branded, have this certification. It’s like telling my car comes with five seat belts.
And it’s not even like they’re selling something at super cheaper rates, are they? No. I checked their prices which are around normal competitive prices. So why wouldn’t I pick up a machine with a HP or Dell logo instead of the one that has a logo that reads “Chirag Greenputers”? Screw the brands, why wouldn’t I go for a personally customized assembled machine with better functionality and save a few thousands on that part?
The point is very clear. Companies today are desperate USPs and well, some companies adapt such USPs which are not unique at all. Irony ain’t it?
IT sector in India is still fresh. Technology illiteracy is prevalent amongst major part of the population and so it’s damn easy to fool people. Really easy. And it’s not just Chirag. 99% of people dealing in one form or other of IT are looting people. No kidding. From IT giants to an independent engineer who repairs your machines, all scrape more bills than they are supposed to.
Look at web hosting for example. For 500MB of web space they’ll charge you 2500r rupees (around 110USd) per year. And that 2500 covers only two email accounts and 1000MB of data transfer. Why not instead go for a host like Bluehost and at $6.99 (approx 300 rupees) a month, you get unlimited data transfer, unlimited space, a free domain, a few Google credits etc. etc. And oh, they give you a 99.99% uptime guarantee and their online support is brilliant. So what would you go for? 2500 bucks with well, no privileges or for 3600 a year and get just about everything that is required to run a full-fledged website?
And that doesn’t ends there. Take people repairing home machines for example. In my neighborhood, these guys charge 300 bucks to reinstall the OS and install everything back from scratch. Agreed it’s a tall order, but then it isn’t worth 300 is it? I do OS reinstall for friends and families all the time (am scheduled for one this weekend 😉 ) and don’t charge anything. It’s not that big a deal! And even if I had to charge a stranger, I’d not charge more than a hundred bucks. That too sounds to me crazy. Google how to reinstall a machine, browse a bit and you’ll sure find an easypeasy way to do that. Free of cost yes.
The thing with the current Indian IT sector is – it’s filled with fakers and douchebags who know not much about computers, but yes they know what kind of profit they wanna get. It’s worst – so worst that I could write a book covering my arguments.
As far as the stupid greenputers go, I’d be happy if one person decides against buying it after reading this post.
To all the noobs, I’d advise don’t go for greenputers; instead build your own green machine. Or just fucking tweak your current settings to make it more power efficient. If you feel like having a laugh, read more reasons why you should buy a greenputer by Chirag.