Category Archives: Techo

For The Tekno Crazy

Internet: Piracy & Privacy

In yesteryears, an average Indian was always deprived of the basic tech; and Internet, unfortunately was one such thing. Just about a decade ago, Internet was considered a luxury in my hometown, which by the way is a very secluded place, away from the hush-hush life of the city. A very few people in our area used to even know what’s the internet hoopla is all about. And, I still remember, the browsing centers used to charge Rs50 for an hour of stinky “dial-up” browsing. It was really disgusting and also embarrassing to some extent.    

But that’s a thing of the past now. Now, everybody has their own personal email accounts, and have registered to a cluster of social networking sites, which most of them update on a daily basis. Almost all of us own a blog now; and it doesn’t matter if we have a good vocabulary, or if we knew the basics of writing a good article. [Both I don’t know by the way :-), and I wonder how proudly I say that.]

Every single internet user in this world who has a good data connection is downloading an awful lot of movies, music, TV series via torrents and stacking ‘em up in their Tera-drives, even though they watch all those movies and stuff a decade later; not to mention the online dating and matrimonial sites roping in a chunk of wealthy teenage hearts. I mean, life of an average Indian surely has changed.

Now, here’s the thing. With the advent of super-speed data connections, two things have become an integral part of every Internet geek’s life: Piracy and Privacy. Now, let me tell you that every one out there who’s downloading stuff via torrent is eligible for being called a ‘PIRATE’. But who cares; I know, I don’t care. I’ve been downloading stuffs since 10 years now. Who can resist shows like LOST, which has succeeded in hooking up the entire world in front of the TV for six years. Admit it, we all are pirates, and we all love doing what we do.

That’s one part. The other face of the coin is privacy, of course. All you people who think downloading illegal content from the net is ‘ok’, might want to reconsider their decisions. Coz, people, its high time that you know that everything you do on the net is very much public. Believe it or not, companies can track you if they want to. They can easily get in touch with your ISP and eventually sue you for what you’ve done.

Hard to believe??? Well, read this story from Fox News:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,96797,00.html

That’s right folks, we are being watched, accept it.

Being_Watched-410730

Nope, the guy above is not the one watching you, don’t worry. Without further ado, I’ll scribble about two most important things here that could be useful when it comes to privacy.  

 

1. Browsing Without Leaving a Trace

Cached DNS lookups and Flash cookies doesn’t ever get wiped out of your system, even though you’ve cleared your history and temp files. Every time you browse a web page, your PC requests the IP Address for that website from your default DNS server, and then caches them locally on your system to speed up future access to that web site. If you are browsing stuff that you shouldn’t at work, you can still get caught by a system admin even if the history on your PC is erased.

To try it out, clear all your history files, first of all. Open command prompt [Hit RUN, Type cmd, Press Enter]. Type in ipconfig /displaydns to see the full list of cached DNS entries. Shocked?? Well, there’s more.

Flash cookies are much more dangerous when it comes to information. It will let the seeker know exactly what he/she is looking for. This information is relevant enough to get you fired.

Possible Solution: Install CCleaner [Download Link]. After installation, on the applications tab, check all of the boxes available, including the Adobe Flash Player checkbox. After you do that, run CCleaner on a schedule via Task Scheduler. It’s as simple as that. 

 

2. Fine Tune Your Torrent Settings

This is perhaps the the most important thing to keep in mind if you download a lot. When you’re initiating a download via any torrent client, you connect to several peers who are distributing the data you need in small packets. In order to send the data back and forth, you need to exchange IP addresses with your peers.

Now, here’s the tricky part. When you’re downloading copyrighted material, sometimes the concerned reps of the organizations will join you in the download and log your information in their systems. One thing is for sure; they will have your IP address within moments. Now, they’re going to find out who your ISP is and log a complaint against you regarding your involvement in copyright-infringing activity, and possibly sue you too.

Here are two interesting software that will bring you peace of mind next time when you download through your torrent client. 

PeerGuardian2

It’s a wonderful application when it comes to blocking the IP addresses that seem to track you. It uses a constantly updated blacklist of IP addresses that are known to track your activity. Very simple to install, and when installing make sure that you’ve configured to check your updates daily. 

Download Link

BT Guard (Works for BitTorrent)

Unlike PeerGaurdian2, this is a proxy app that protects your privacy by routing your traffic through server when it leaves your computer and when it comes back to you. That means that when you’re downloading data, your peers can only see the proxy IP address, and not your home IP address. So, even if the companies get the IP address, they can do nothing about it. BT Guard is made specifically for BitTorrent; also there are a number of apps out there similar to BTGuard.

To set up a proxy, open your torrent client. Under the Connection tab, find the Proxy Server settings. From there, choose your proxy server type (Socks4/5, HTTP or HTTPS), enter in the address and port of your proxy server, and include any login information if your proxy uses it. (If you’re using BTGuard, for example, you’ll be given a username and password when you sign up.) Finally, be sure to tick the checkbox labeled ‘Use proxy server for peer-to-peer connections’, which is the whole reason you’re setting it up to begin with. 

Website Link

These are the two things that I think are most useful when it comes to protecting an average Indian’s web-privacy. So, configure your system to play safe on the web, and I hope it works for you. Be a pirate without compromising your privacy. And people, please do all of these before you get really sued … he he … just kidding! ;-) 

Back to gaming with VAIO CW115!!!

It’s been some time since I laid my hands on a decent gaming rig. Almost three years have passed by without any serious gaming in my life. Life’s been boring, let me add, boring to the core! I do remember precisely the last game that I played, Tomb Raider: Legends.

It played well on my machine. Considering the newer demanding games were on the bloc and my old NVidia GeForce 5200 wasn’t potent enough to tackle the then gaming requirements, I felt really good that I was able to play it, and play it in style. It was my first Lara Croft game.

I was just crazy about games when I got my first PC back in 2004. I was in doing my degree. I was always a movie-buff, but when I got introduced to this new form of entertainment, I was awestruck, always glued to my PC doing nothing but playing whatever games that came my way. It was coolest of my days, although I never attended a lot of exams of mine, just for the sake of gaming!

It’s been almost 5 years. Work’s is boring as always, and I don’t do well in that too. I desperately needed a gaming rig, but only this time I was opting for a laptop for a change. I started the search. There were too many models in the market, Dell, Acer, MSI, HP, and many other new companies making their way to the marketplace; all had their gaming-specific laptops on the table, and last but not the least there was always Alienware, a gamer’s ultimate fantasy, pure beast, but what the heck, I’m not paid good enough to get that piece of gadgetry.

Sony Vaio - CW115

So first of all, I had to fix my budget. After doing the usual googling, I settled my budget at a decent 45K, anything under 45K will just suite fine for me, as I could only afford to buy the entry-level laptops. Second task was the model, which model to choose from. I thought I don’t really need a desktop-replacement model with large screens; I’d rather go for a 14” neat screen, which kind of gave essentially a compact look and also gave some extra battery backup.

My two options were ‘Dell Studio 14’, and ‘Acer Gemstone 6920’. Both had decent looks and they both came pretty close to my budget too. I didn’t know which to choose from. I was pulled upon by the look of the Dell Studio series, but my gadget-freak friend Arif suggested the Gemstone. I would have to decide it on the store itself judging by the looks, ergonomics etcetera.

Having sketched the whole game plan in my mind, I went to the store, IT Net, Cochin. They showed me some models that suited my requirements. After going through a couple of models from both Dell and Acer, I fixed my deal on Acer Gemstone 6920. I looked a bit better than Dell, obviously. While I was thinking hard in my mind about the cost, something beautiful caught my eye; a glossy red lid just in front of me, I thought, how could I miss this sight before, it looked a bit girlish, but it was a pure beauty, it was a Sony Vaio.

There was something in the model that made me re-think for my options. Now, a Sony will cost me anywhere around 55K or more, and also I wasn’t sure if the model had a dedicated GPU. Then the salesman said, “you can try Vaio too sir; 320/3GB with NVidia GeForce G210 256mb. And the price came to about 46K”. I was literally shocked to know that Sony laps did have a dedicated GPU and it came around 45K too, and it looked just tempting, sort of like an Indian bride wearing a red joda. I knew i had to go for it, and guess what, I did!

The looks were just classy, covered in glossy red; it had an isolated keypad, which gave it a distinct look. Spec-wise, it had an average system spec; usual 14 inch screen, Intel Core 2 duo T660 cores running at 2.20Ghz, 3Gb of RAM, 320Gb HDD space, and an entry level NVidia GeForce G210, 256Mb Graphics Card, which I hope will at least do a mediocre job when it comes to gaming. VIAO has put in a lot of features; a Vaio media centre, which takes care of everything from playing music to editing videos, was quite a joy to work on.

My Desktop after a fresh Windows 7 Installation.

It came up with some bundled music albums too, again a nice addition. Sony has added everything to the laptop including cd writing software. It cost me around Rs45, 800 for the whole thing. I’m satisfied. The performance as I expected is average. I tried to run 720p HD video with all the codecs installed. It played fine, but when i tried to drag the seek bar, the video was getting stuck a bit.

Then I tried some games. I bought a copy of Left 4 Dead. The installation took around 10min. Then I ran the game with all settings high in the highest resolution. The game ran like a wind. I guess the game is not so demanding on graphics. But I guess games like Crysis will bring the system to its knees. It was perfect for casual gaming.

L4D on my machine.

It gave me a power backup of just about 2 hours on power saver mode. Overall, I feel good that I bought a Sony VIAO. Good features, average graphics, good build, glossy smart looks, and last but not the least, excellent keys to work on.


Blogged.com

Pimp up your Windows Mobile !

It surely is the ‘Touch Generation’ now. With most of the major cell phone players now in the touch screen market, you have a bundle of options when it comes to buying one.

I use one from the good old HTC Gene family, the P3400i, one of the cheapest products from the Pocket PC giant, HTC. Its based on Windows Mobile 5 platform. No Wi-Fi or 3G, but it pretty much does everything I need and fits perfectly for me when considering the price/performance ratio.

Now that you own one, making your gizmo productive is one tricky part. There are hundreds of apps available on the Web, but it’s rather difficult to find one that completely satisfies your needs. I mean, when you are happy with the performance, the looks bug you, or when the looks are good, you find that the app is eating away most of the internal memory.

Well, these are some of the apps that I feel can make your PPC come alive.

Videos

  • When it comes to playing videos, the built-in ‘Windows Media Player’ in WM5 is a complete nuisance; it takes up longer time to load, can’t play the videos smoothly, and doesn’t really support a wide range of video formats that you really dig for.

I use the TCPMP. When it comes to video playback, this seems to be the best. Its super-fast, supports a wide range of video formats, has a completely free-license DivX Player, and the good part, it’s free! The latest Beta release is TCPMP 0.81 RC1. A more stable version, that I use is the 0.72 RC1. The 0.81 RC1 has additional support for WMV9 vidoes, and it looks slightly better than its predecessor.

You also need to install additional plugins for advanced functionality like playing flash videos, AMR, AC3, Matroska, HQ, Flac et cetera.

For the ultimate video playback!

http://tamspalm.tamoggemon.com/2006/12/25/tcpmp-072rc1-incl-nearly-all-plugins/

Download and install the player first and then the plugins.

TCPMP should suffice your needs when it comes to portable video playback.

Music

  • The Audio Manager in WM5 is pretty much what you need to listen to your favorite tunes. It doesn’t impress you, but it’s quite good at its functions. The Audio Booster functionality is pretty good with its clean equalizer and bass-boost effects. Only minus point is that it takes up quite a bit of memory. Now, you just listened to a song and you desperately want to make it your ring tone, what’ll you do? Well, the Audio Manager has a trimming functionality too. You can trim your songs instantly and make it as your ring tone or send it to your ring tones folder.

Personally, I use the Audio Manager, but if you consider using a third party software, I recommend the GS Player. It’s a basic mp3 playback software for PPC, and its free too. Get it here:

http://hp.vector.co.jp/authors/VA032810/

Utilities

Clear Temp

  • Clear Temp is all you need for clearing your temp, cache, cookies, history etc. It’s somewhat similar to the CCleaner, which is a PC App. It frees the internal memory and the Recent Program list. It’s a quite fast in its working and again a freeware.

Simply clears the junk!

http://cleartemp.en.softonic.com/pocketpc

Hide Folers

  • Hide Folders is another good application that lets you do what the name suggests, “hide your folders”.
Hide your private stuffs with ease!

Hide your private stuffs with ease!

http://handheld.softpedia.com/get/System-Utilities/Enhancements/Hide-Folders-67768.shtml

WM5torage

  • If you copy a lot of files back and forth between your PC and PPC, the ActiveSync might annoy you when copying very large files, like a MP4 movie for instance.

WM5torage lets your PC recognize your Storage Card as a Flash Drive. You activate this utility, plug in to your PC with the data cable, and there it is, ‘redemption’! Now, you can copy your files without using the ActiveSync. A good tool if you travel a lot, or visit the Internet Cafes in the city frequently.

Use your PPC as a Flash Drive.

Use your PPC as a Flash Drive.

http://wm5torage.en.softonic.com/windowsmobile

Internet

Opera Mobile

  • Opera Mobile 9.5 Public Beta is the ultimate in browsing experience on a PPC. This version is built up on top of the rendering engine for Opera web browser, Presto. It tries to bring the real-time PC browsing experience to mobiles with its zoom, tabbed browsing and touch interface functionalities. You even could download files, videos, mp3s straight to you mobile with ease. This is a must use app for PPC users. Opera has release a new version of the browser, the 9.7 Beta Public, find the download link below.
A must-use app!

A must-use app!

Download the new Opera Mobile 9.7 Public Beta here.http://www.opera.com/mobile/download/

YouTube for WM

  • Mobile video streaming is simply the best thing to happen, ever! Playing YouTube videos on your mobile just got funkier with the release of the new YouTube for Windows Mobile streaming app. It’s a stunner! It’s fast and neatly designed for the average PPC user and the interface never looked so good. Find your videos on the search box, click play and the app will play the video nice and fast in the landscape mode. But be sure you have a good data plan it will give you a run for your money because of YouTube, as usual, will chew up a hell lot of data. For installation visit http://m.youtube.com with your device and follow the instructions.

Google Maps Mobile

  • Determine your current location with our without GPS, get driving and transit directions, get phone numbers and addresses for local business; that’s what google maps lets you do, but only this time it’s on your mobile.

http://www.google.com/mobile/products/maps.html#p=default

I think this should do it. These are just the essential, the basics, when it comes to your PPC. Try these out today and know the difference..;-)