Tuesday, July 28, 2009

To Twitter or not to Twitter!

Unless you have been lying under a rock for the past few years, you might be well aware of Twitter by now. How could you escape the 'twittering' of people around you? hehe. Well believe it or not, Twitter is one of the recent big booms in the internet community. So for those that are not too familiar with this marvelous technology, I decided to write a few lines to describe it.

Most of you might remember those good old days of mailing lists (if you dont, then just pretend you do hehe). This was quite an interesting technology, piggybacking on simple email. You would have a program (a bot as I would call it) that would receive requests/posts, moderate them or execute them if they were commands, and then send out updates to all the members or to a particular member (if it was a command that was being executed). A simple yet elegant piece of technology. The only thing with this was that once in a while you would get bombarded with emails, especially if the mailing list was a very active one. Then came the age of online forums. These were websites where you could discuss hot topics etc and opt to receive notifications of updates to the threads you were monitoring, via email. This was not as bulky as mailing lists and provided a better solution for those that didnt have enough bandwith. And it allowed you to sieve though the posts at your own leasure. After this came the age of blogging. This was a marvellous idea. It allowed users to collaborate on a website almost instantly. Wikipedia, for instance is a collaboration of many people. The only thing is that, as with forums, you have to go to the website to interact. I think before I continue, I should also mention RSS feeds. How many of you frequent some websites daily. For instance news websites etc. And how much time do you spend trying to find what you want to read on it or rather what is new on it? Wouldnt you want a system whereby you were notified of the changes that were made to the website instead of you going and finding it for yourself? Well that is basically what RSS feeds are. You download a RSS reader and configure it to check for updates off a RSS server. This in laymans terms, turns that website into a mailing list, where you get updates of what all has changed. This technology puts the control back into the hands of the user, who gets news delivered to him/her and can choose what he/she wants to read.

Now RSS feeds are great. Just that if you want to put in your thoughts about a certain topic, you have to go back to the website, and if they allow, you can upload your feedback. But wont it be easier to receive updates and be able to also update them all from the comfort of your laptop/desktop, without having to go to any websites? Presto! Thats what Twitter is. You subscribe to feeds (these can be people, organisations etc) by following them. And then any updates done by them are delivered to you. And if you want to add your thoughts to that article or retweet it, you can do so and all your followers will receive this. Since the size of your tweet is restricted to 140 char (as are text messages or sms as some might know it as), this means that the contents are summarised and most probably have a link that you can follow should you want to read more. So all in all, it is a brilliant technology that puts you in the drivers seat. Now thats what I call innovation, as do the millions out there. If you would like to turn your RSS feeds into a twitter feed, there are numerous free tools that will do that for you as well.

So take a break, spread your wings and twitter a little :)

You can follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/nivleshc

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Too many chat clients? Maybe its time you started Pidgin'in

How many of you have got more than one chat client installed on your computer? Well as for me, I have got yahoo,gtalk,windows live installed on mine. The reason for this is because I have friends that are not all on one network. And I guess I cant blame them because there is no ONE network that everyone likes. Windows Live is good but then so is Yahoo Messanger. Google Talk is the new kid on the block but then it is not to be taken lightly. Keeping track of multiple chat clients can be a task, and one needs to free as much time administering stuff, and should instead use that time surfing the web or doing other productive tasks :)

Also, I am all about trying to lower my RAM and CPU usage, and having 3 clients, each adding about 50M of RAM footprint doesnt quite seem right to me. So I started looking around for chat clients that would handle multiple networks. There are quite a few out there but I settled on Pidgin. Its quite a nifty software and it supports all the three networks that I currently have single clients to (I also checked out trillian, but that doesnt support Google Talk :( ). Now, all I have is one client that doesnt use more than 40MB of RAM.

There is one gripe with this client (actually it is with all the other single chat clients as well). I still havent been able to bind a timezone to my chat buddies. This will be handy since then you would know what their local time is instead of having to ask them.. dont you think that would be a cool addition?

Anyways, you can try pidigin out for yourself. Click here to download yourself a copy.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

K-Meleon The best lighweight web browser by far

After switching to a laptop, one of my goals has been to find alternates to my everyday desktop software so that I could run them with the slightest expense to the cpu and memory. Laptops have gained far more popularity in the last few days than desktops, more because they provide a way for people to be mobile yet be connected. But as you all know, to get a comparable power in a laptop, you have to fork out more dollars. These go towards paying for the price of being mobile. Also, upgrading a laptop is not as easy as a desktop. So the more juice you can squeeze out of your current laptop specs, the better mileage you will get.

I find that 85% of my time spent on my laptop is spent using a web browser. Be this Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari or Firefox. Now you might ask, why have so many browsers when they all do the same thing. In reply, I would ask you a question, why do we have so many models/brands of cars when they all do the same thing? It all boils down to the mileage you get out of something. Each browser is good in its own realm. But one thing I have found similar with all the modern browsers is that they grab a lot of system memory and cpu speed. This makes the overal performance of my laptop slower. The latest version of Firefox (3.5) is even more demanding than its predecessors. It takes a while to start and this it seems is because it is loading up a lot of things into memory. And given time, Firefox, Opera, Safari and Internet Explorer all cross the 200MB RAM limit.

I finally found a light weight browser that appealed to me and I found it by sheer chance. Its name is K-Meleon. It is built on the Gecko engine. This is the same engine that Firefox uses. It has tab browsing, macro and mouse gestures. It allows you to customize your search engine. But the biggest difference compared to the other browsers is that it doesnt take as much memory. I have been running it continuous for 3 days now and it hasnt gone beyond 80MB of RAM. And thats with 5 tabs open. I am truely impressed.

Give this browser a try. I am sure you will like it from the first time you start using it. You can download it from http://kmeleon.sourceforge.net/

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

TrendMicro 2009 Annual Threat Roundup Report

TrendMicro has also posted an annual thread roundup report for the year 2008. This is similar to the report posted by Symantec (Check my blog posting) .

This report in a nutshell gives a summary of the major threats that were noticed worldwide during the year 2008. These mostly comprised of the following:


It is interesting to note that some of the old virus infection tricks have been redeployed by writers with a taste for the newer technology. How many of you remember those days when you could infect a pc with a floppy disk? Well believe it or not, that same infection vector was used last year to release one of the many viruses, but instead of floppies, removable drivers (usb flash disks, SD cards etc) were used. Windows had a major vulnerability where it automatically launched the autorun file whenever a removable device was connected. This feature was used by virus writers to spread their creation. Also, another Trojan that caught my attention was Sinowal. This Trojan would rewrite the MBR (master boot record) of a disk and restart your PC. On doing this, it would load even before the operating system was loaded. Amazing isn't it?

The number one on the charts was spybots/botnets. These are basically a chain of zombie PCs that have been taken over using spyware/adaware programs. These "call home" every so often to download commands. The place where they call back is called a Command & Conquer Center (C&C). The threats from these can range from showing ads to running DDOS.

Forecasts for 2009 seem be similar to what we had in 2008. Though the infections are to grow more complex and would definitely target other operating systems as well. Also mobile technologies such as iPhone and the like might get more infections.

If you would like to read the detailed report, you can access it at http://us.trendmicro.com/imperia/md/content/us/pdf/threats/securitylibrary/trend_micro_2009_annual_threat_roundup.pdf

Monday, July 13, 2009

Multiple homepages in Internet Explorer

Gone are the days when Internet was a simple tool meant for the rich and popular. Nowadays, it has become as important a utility as anything. If you don't believe me, just skip using anything to do with internet for a day (and yes that means emails, twitter, webpages and anything of the like). We are expecting a lot from internet nowadays, from news to bank access.

I cant speak for others but I want multiple homepages open when I start up my browser. And yes I do use Internet Explorer hehe. Well I still cant make up my mind as to which browser to use. I like Firefox but it is too memory intensive and Internet Explorer is not too bad, except for the security issues, so am running it in a sandbox. Safari is good but not as elegant as Firefox and Opera is too bloated for simple things.

Anyways, if you would like to open multiple homepages in Internet Explorer 7+, do the following

1. Click the Tools Menu
2. Click Internet Options
3. Click the General Tab
4. Type in or paste an URL that you want to use as your home page in the Home Page section.
5. Hit ENTER and type in another URL
6. Repeat until you have all the ones you want
7. Click OK
8. Close and Restart your browser to see them all open.

For a full discussion on this go to http://www.tech-recipes.com/rx/1171/ie7-start-up-with-multiple-home-page-tabs-open-in-internet-explorer-7/

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A new monopoly in the making?

Microsoft has been in the OS industry for ages. Their debut came in 1981 with the release of MSDOS 1.0. And years later, here we are, with Microsoft dominating the desktops and servers of this world.

Google was started as a search engine in 1996. It was to rival the likes of Yahoo and Altavista. And this it did with such grace and perfection that now it is the search giant of the web industry. Google has become a verb that is known to pretty much everyone.

One of the things that Google is really good at is trying out new things. They dabbled their toes in emails with gmail, with cloud computing by offering GoogleApps. Then they wanted to try out the mobile market by releasing their open source mobile OS, Android. After that it was the release of Chrome, their flagship web browser, which gave Internet Explorer a run for its money.

And now Google has announced that they would like to scratch a mark of their own in the OS industry. They are looking at releasing Google Chrome OS, which will be in direct competition with Microsoft Windows. If Google gets as much fame and popularity in the OS market as it did in the search market, Microsoft will surely have a lot to worry about. Finally there will be a competitor that Microsoft will have to look out for. But then with pretty much taking over every part of the technological market under its wings, are we looking at a world domination from Google? Just imagine what this means? Already we have a Google satellite looking down at us, and then to have Google on our phones and not too far away, on our desktops and laptops?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Seattle fire knocks out Bing/Travel .. what a crackup!

Did you all hear what happened to www.bing.com/travel? Apparently all of microsoft's servers that host their travel section of bing.com were housed at Fisher Plaza. This "Class A, 21st century datacenter" experienced a fire, which knocked out all the websites it hosted, among which was www.bing.com/travel. So much for DRP!! Seriously, if Microsoft is to challenge Google at its game, then they should get their act right. Had Google experienced the same situation, I bet traffic would have been automatically routed to another datacenter that would have kept the website alive while work one done to restore the damages. Talk about Microsoft storing all their eggs in one basket lol!

You can read more at http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10279084-93.html

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

I absolutely loved this movie. Some of my friends were disappointed, complaining that although the special effects lived up to the "Transformers Charisma", the storyline was a bit hollow. But as for myself, just seeing those machines breathing life, morphing from those awesome road huggers to tall skyscraper height robots just took my breath away. And not to forget those awesome fighting scenes. I was glued to the edge of my seat from start to finish.

I will not post any spoilers for the sake of those that still have t see this awesome movie. If you are one of these then you better hurry up to the cinemas since you wont know what you are missing till you see it.

You can catchup on a review at imdb