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Archive for February, 2005

Protect Your Message

LockEncryption has little practical use outside, for example, the government and defence domains, but signing of E-mail messages is essential as it is the only means of verifying identities. Unlike telephone or face-to-face interaction, there is no vocal identity and people in the past have been susceptible to frauds. To find out on ways of signing your E-mail, consider for example, GnuPG.

Phil Zimmermann explains why PGP (or encryption in general) is necessary:

What if everyone believed that law-abiding citizens should use postcards for their mail? If some brave soul tried to assert his privacy by using an envelope for his mail, it would draw suspicion. Perhaps the authorities would open his mail to see what he’s hiding. Fortunately, we don’t live in that kind of world, because everyone protects most of their mail with envelopes. So no one draws suspicion by asserting their privacy with an envelope. There’s safety in numbers. Analogously, it would be nice if everyone routinely used encryption for all their E-mail, innocent or not, so that no one drew suspicion by asserting their E-mail privacy with encryption. Think of it as a form of solidarity.

Ad Blocking

According to Slashdot, advertisers have devised ways to overcome ad blocking.

Ad BlockingPop-ups can always be blocked if the browser aims to do so — that is if your browser is your friend and does not have its conflicting interests a la Microsoft. This is a race between advertisers and angel Web browser developers. As long as you patch up your browser, you should be on safe grounds. Allow me to explain why.

An advertiser can force download of a pop-up window content. It can also force display. It cannot, however, know if the operating system puts the window in focus, hides it, or sends it a ‘kill’ signal. A smart advertiser will request that you press an object in the pop-up, but again, the operating system or browser can fake it. The spammer-versus-filter analogy might help here.

Related link: Pure-CSS ad blocking for Mozilla Firefox

Recursive Downloads Gallery
How would you download an entire gallery like the one above?

There should no longer be need for repeated downloads.

Have you ever found yourself downloading images from a gallery? A mechanic series of clicks to get images one by one? There is a better way.

The simple method: If you are using Firefox as your Web browser, use the FlashGot extension.
The better method: If you are working under Linux or Mac OS X you can become even more efficient. Use wget as in the example below and replace http://SITE with the Web address to be downloaded from recursively.

wget -r -l2 -t1 -N -np -erobots=off http://SITE

Keep the volume of downloads low or else this will be considered an abuse and frowned upon.

Top 100 Gadgets

Music shopFrom a nostalgic item in Mobile PC, among the top gadgets of all times:

  • Wireless heart monitor from 1977
  • Pez dispenser from 1927
  • Schick electric razor from 1931

Brought to my attention by Scott Tobkes.

Resource Hog

Moderate use of computer resources and good net citizenship both are issues which are close to my heart. I recently started to worry that, quite inevitably, I have become one among the culprits. At the time of writing, I use about 30 Pentium 4′s, some of which will run computer vision experiments for 24 hours. This is done due to urgency (a near deadline), but my general advice is to always set the priority of your tasks as low as possible so that the scheduler prioritises other users.

I typically connect to remote computers via SSH. I have made my ‘hogging’ scripts public in case somebody is interested in modifying them for personal purposes.

Multiple SSH sessions
Remote sessions, shaded on the left monitor (click to enlarge)

Microsoft Elimination of Privacy

Bill Gates
Bill Gates arrested in his younger days (photo in public domain)

A popular article from Joel on Software explains about the way Microsoft-owned sites exploit/misuse cookies.

…One day, Expedia could start offering higher fares to customers who have more than a million dollars in their Investor stock portfolio. There’s not really anything technically impossible about this, and it’s probably legal, too…
…The scary thing is that if you use Internet Explorer, Microsoft controls your web browser…

Sony Give up on Palm

Palm TungstenSome might recall the dysphoric feeling when Sony left the PDA scene in most of the world. They have now halted their sales in Japan as well, thereby saying farewell to the world of miniature computing.

Jeffrey Kaplan from comp.sys.palmtops.pilot commented on the news:

It was only a matter of time until they dropped completely out of the Palm PDA market. Japan was their last market, they pulled out of the rest of the world last Summer. Expect their next entry to be either a Symbian or MS Smartphone due to their cellphone partnership with Ericsson.

It was rumored last year that Sony had bid to purchase what became PalmSource from Palm Inc. It is my opinion that failure to complete that bid is what made them decide to drop the PalmOS specifically, not the more general drop in sales after they flooded the market.

Cited by: PalmAddict

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