Off the Top of My Head comments edit

After I downloaded the bits and I tried to install it for the first time on a Virtual Machine, I sadly discovered that there was something wrong with the ISO image because it gave an error while extracting files at %62. A quick hash-check (which should have been done right after the download) showed that the file was corrupt and there went the 5GB of my bandwidth down the drain! Lesson learned: Always perform a hash-check and verify the file if a hash is provided by the source.

Anyway, after downloading it successfully, I installed it on a VMware virtual machine. I followed the step-by-step guide at http://vlkn.me/q5jyJN, but there aren’t any tricks actually. I started using it a on the virtual machine a little bit and as everybody else, I hated it! Obviously, the tile interface is designed for tablets or touch-enabled screens to be more generic.

So, my first interaction with it was negative for 2 reasons:

  1. It’s always a bit off-putting testing out a new OS on VM. Because you always revert back to your original OS all the time and you don’t have the entire experience.
  2. In this case, it’s clear that without a touch screen I wouldn’t enjoy using it much. (I’m not sure how well people will react when it RTMs)

Then I suddenly remembered that I already had a touch-screen notebook! 3 years ago, i bought an 12.1” screen notebook which back then was called a tablet PC because it had a rotating screen. Until this day I only used its touch capabilities a few times for experimental purposes. My initial intention to use it as an e-book reader soon proved to be preposterous as it weighs a solid 2.2 kg.! (An iPad 2 is 600 grams by the way)

But my long wait to find a legitimate use for it is over! Finally I can use it’s tabletish functionalities!

First I installed it on a VHD and booted it off of it. Scott Hanselman has a great blog post walking you through the steps: http://vlkn.me/n5Opva

So I immediately installed it but again i was not satisfied! The performance wasn’t so good and it also messed up with the boot loader. Even though I could opt to boot from my old Win 7 installation, it just restarted and couldn’t load it. I tried to repair using Win 7 DVD but to no avail. But using the repair functionality of the Windows 8 did the trick and I could boot it to my Win 7 again. And to fix it once and for all, I changed default OS from system settings

BCD

Now I could freely choose the OS I wanted but the performance issues still remained. Then I decided to use the hard drive of my broken PS3. So I switched disks and installed it for the third time but on its own personal disk this time!

Performance is still not outstanding but then again my notebook never had a outstanding performance regardless of the OS running. Finally, here’s a little video I took. Screen is resistive so it’s a bit hard to use with finger but still it’s the closest thing to a tablet I have at the moment running Windows 8.

I will be playing around with it now and hopefully post more on this subject later.

Off the Top of My Head comments edit

Recently i decided to buy an surveillance camera to setup in my room. For two reasons mainly:

  1. Security: Shocking but true!
  2. Research: I always wondered how these devices operate, how they are installed what protocols they use etc.

I ordered one but the shipment never arrived. After waiting for two months, and a battle for refund i ended up where i started. (By the way, in this instance I was too cheap to shop at a company called TMart.com. I’m glad i finally could get a refund but I’m never ever going to shop there again. I strongly recommend everyone to stay away.)

In the meantime, it occurred to me that i had 2 laptops with webcams and a external USB webcam that i plug into my desktop PC. With 3 cameras i should be able to setup a small security system. So i started searching for some software to turn my cameras into a security system. Surprisingly i found an open-source one. It’s called iSpyConnect (http://www.ispyconnect.com). Better yet it’s written in C#. It supports cool features like uploading to YouTube. But most features that require server support requires a subscription. In the free version you are allowed to upload pictures via FTP to one server. But since I have the source code I’m planning to make my own changes.

So for now i have webcams and required software. I can’t use MacBook and it’s webcam since it’s not supported but I tested it with two webcams (One facing the door and the other facing the window) When it detected motion it started recording the video. Also uploaded pictures to my FTP server on the Internet. So even if the burglar notices the system and somehow manages to delete the local copy of the video feed, there’s still good evidence safe and sound out in the cloud.

I am planning to improve the system and I will be posting more details about it as I go along.

Off the Top of My Head comments edit

I use RSS feeds extensively to follow the tech news. I love Google Reader and i’ve been using it since forever. But lately i realized that i didn’t have much experience in tweaking the settings. I didn’t feel the urge to go into settings and manage my subscriptions. Until 10 ten days ago.

I decided to eliminate some feeds because they seemed to be inactive for a long time. So i clicked on Manage subscriptions link which, by the way has a horrible place from a UI standpoint. It is not even always visible. When you hover on feeds the URL of the feed covers the button.

Google Reader

After fiddling a little with the labels, I made a horrible mistake: I selected all items and clicked Unsubscribe. As one may easily guess, it deleted all my subscriptions.

Google Reader

I had an OPML backup long ago but i don’t even know where it is now. Even if I looked for and found it would probably be out-dated beyond use. Lesson learnt: Start backing up RSS feeds regularly and automatically. While i was desperately pondering what i should do to recover my beloved little messengers, it hit me! I had an application on My iPad called Mr. Reader. It syncs with Google Reader so i also had my entire list of feeds on my iPad. I was hoping the app to support OPML exports so that everything would get back to normal in 5 minutes. Unfortunately, it didn’t! At least i was lucky that iPad was offline at the moment so it couldn’t sync and kept my feeds on the device. (Needless to say, i immediately turned off network access, quarantining my list!) I contacted the support of app’s company, which is the developer himself and he was very kind to respond quickly and offering me a few solutions. One of them was extracting the data from iPad by using a tool called JuicePhone (http://www.addpod.de/juicephone). It’s a free application. I installed it to my Mac immediately, hooked up my iPad and extracted all my data from it. Lesson learnt: Start backing up iPad regularly via JuicePhone as well as iTunes.

After a quick examination, I found out that the app is using an SQLite database to store its data. I downloaded SQLite Expert (http://www.sqliteexpert.com)

sqlite expert

It has a free version called Personal Edition and it seems to have a quite nice UI. Browsing through tables and viewing their data I felt quite relieved when I saw that the list of my feeds safe and sound.

sqlite expert

Now that I have all my feeds, I think it’s a great chance to organize and add or remove them controllably. By the way, after I completed getting my list I sent an email to the author of the app thanking and telling him that i managed to extract my data. A few days later the software updated itself mentioning some change about database. Then i added a new feed and applied the same steps above, to use if it still works, but the database seemed to be the same. I mean the app synced and deleted all my subscriptions and added the new test feed. But the list on the table is the same as before. Maybe he decided to keep its data privately somewhere else to keep it from people like me. Anyway, his advice worked out for me perfectly so I thank him again from here.

Off the Top of My Head comments edit

Recently I was looking for a software to manage my backups. I came across GoodSync. (http://www.goodsync.com/). It is very effective and supports a wide variety of channels. (I will try to review GoodSync and my other favorite tools in detail in another blog post.)

After the trial period, it started to impose limitations. Since I was happy with the tool I decided to purchase it. It’s not very pricey. I think it well deserves $30 but they also provide another option which is called pay by TrialPay.

I vaguely remembered the term when I saw it. But i had never tried or examined it thoroughly before. Basically there are a list if options to select from such as subscribing a service or buying a product. After you select one and complete the required steps you wait until TrialPay confirms it. And after that, voila! They send you your product key and that’s it. Of course, if the TrialPay offers don’t tickle your fancy you might find it wasteful but the for me the list was quite attractive. For example, one offer was to try usenet.nl free 14-day trial. I subscribed for free and i got a license for GoodSync now. Also, another nice offer is registering at GoDaddy and making a purchase of at least $5. I used this offer too to buy another software. Since i was already planning to buy a few domain names, the timing couldn’t be better. And it didn’t take much to convince my brother to signup as long as i will be paying

So, from now on whenever I see a TrialPay option, I will jump right in to see the available offers at the moment. If you’re interested in purchasing GoodSync via TrialPay here’s the link:

http://www.goodsync.com/trialpay_dl_bn.html

UPDATE: Link above is removed as it was broken

Review comments edit

I recently finished reading Mark Russinovich’s technothriller or cyberthriller novel Zero day.

Zero Day

Frankly speaking I wouldn’t expect such an intriguing book from such a high-talented technical person. The book does not require any technical skills to follow. The main idea behind the book is very compelling itself. The world we live in is tied up and bound to computers that any attack to cripple our digital lives also would have a huge impact on every aspect of our lives.

I personally enjoyed the fast pace of the book. Even though it’s not a technical book it’s closely related and a real mind-opener. It sure convinced me to invest more of my time on security since it would be catastrophic both on personal and professional levels (Image you’re a Sony developer that is responsible for one of those hacks!). The only thing that i don’t like about the book is perfect characters. Our heroes are both athletic, gorgeous and genius! They have it all. It’s not envy (or maybe a little) but I’d prefer Sue and Vlad as my heroes! They sound more real and personable to me.

I heard that Mark Russinovich is working on the sequel of the novel. Well, my guess is this time it will contain botnets and Chinese hackers since to me it sounds like a huge threat. Of course, we’ll wait and see…

Off the Top of My Head comments edit

In my last post I mentioned how I got irritated by constantly masking passwords and not providing any alternative way to reveal them at will. I was planning to write a Firefox add-on to change the behaviour of password fields but I found an add-on already written to do this which can be found here. Apparently I’m not the only person having such feelings towards masked passwords :-)

Off the Top of My Head comments edit

I hate blind password masking. I want to see what i type. If there is nobody around to peep at my screen, which is most of the time, then masked passwords provides me no protection. Only helps for creating occasional troubles..