Monthly Archives: May 2005

An ad-blocker for Opera

They say Opera got no ad-blocker, vis-a-vis Firefox, which, I am told, has an extension that does the job. Very well. Some good chap decided that this is not fair, and started creating an ad-blocker for Opera.
 
How does ad-blocking function exactly? Well, it is pretty simple. Most ads are served from particular servers, and the best part is that these servers have an ‘ad’ or ‘ads’ in their URL. So what an ad-blocker basically does is it kills all requests to these servers, based on the URLs as listed in it’s directory. So, the best ad-blocker will be nothing but an exceptional directory of these ad servers.
 
Now, Opera allows for custom filtering, i.e. selectively blocking access to certain URLs, and that is precisely what this small program does. And it does it very good! I completely recommend it.

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Why Orange rules…

My mobile service provider is Orange, the elitist arm of Hutchinson Max in Mumbai, trademarked from the Orange in the UK and parts of Europe. And here are a few reasons, why it rules:
 
  • The network simply is good. When compared to other service providers such as Dolphin / Trump from MTNL and Airtel from Bharati Telecom, Orange wins hands down. BPL Mobile comes in a close competitor. Reliance and Tata Indicom being on CDMA cannot be compared directly to GSM providers.
  • The tariff. Except for Dolphin / Trump (and in some cases Reliance), Orange wins hands down when it comes to tariff. It is simply the cheapest, especially if you have activated all those extra schemes. Like 50p Orange to Orange calls for Rs. 50/- per month, or 99p M2M calls for Rs. 25/- per month. Sure, SMS still sux at Rs. 1.50/- local (or 75p M2M on Rs. 25/- per month), but then you can’t have it all, can you? Postpaid plans sux again, as usual. Compare this with BPL, whose prepaid charges are for one scheme: 80p connection charge, plus 3p per second (or 1p per second, with Rs. 35/- per month super saver charge). This turns out to be quite expensive for shorter duration calls.
  • Updated web-site: I really get pissed when service providers have web-sites that are not updated regularly, or are simply neglected. Orange, I am rather proud to say, is one the most regularly updated web-sites, when it comes to tariff information, and general help. Sure, some mistakes do creep in, but atleast they are making an effort.
  • Transparency: On whatever billing enquiries I have made to the Orange Team (from the web-site, that is the trick. Do not go to the Orange Shop, or call the customer service executives, those people can be real dumb at times, use the web-site. It sends your query to some Orange Special Services, who are not only prompt, but make sense in what they say.), I have received satisfactory and prompt replies. If they have a particular tariff that is more expensive than say, their competitors, they do tell me that in black and white. (Of course, I am referring to people who work at Orange, not people who claim that they work for Orange, but are actually dealers or franchisees.)
  • Initiatives: It was amongst the first providers, one of the first that introduced GPRS (and yet the only to offer it on prepaid accounts), first to introduce EDGE (2.5G network) with the rather sad Orange TV, Push to Talk and other stuff that I never use such as Caller Tunes and other blah. I am pretty sure that it will also be one of the first providers in India to launch the 3G, when it finally arrives in 2006.
And well, Orange is Orange. I personally think that it is a very elite service provider, with all it’s branding and placements, both locally and internationally.
 
You, of course, are entitled to your own opinion, as I am to mine. Peace.

Why do I blog?

Somebody finally asked me the question. Who is not important here, so don’t bother asking me that.
 
Here’s an explanation: I do not blog so that people can read what I have to say. That is merely a consequence. And it is nice, if people do read what I blabber, and unlike most other bloggers, who get self conscious and say that they are writing nonsense, and that if the reader cannot digest it, s/he should go elsewhere, or that the quality of what is being blogged is bad, and that they regret writing it, I firmly believe that what I write is what I want to, and I do because I want to. Not caring whether readers like what they read, or not caring if readers read a blog at all, is a different thing than saying that I write crap, so sorry for having wasted your time when you read this. That should never be the attitude. If you cannot write, don’t. If however, you feel that you can write, then do write and be done with it. Don’t go hooting all around in self-pity. Your readers will decide if you are worth another read or not. Why be your own judge?
 
Alright then, coming back. Why do I blog? Simple. I blog for myself. Ten-twenty-fifty years down the line (provided I, this particular server (or my emails) and this world survives) I am going to be able to read what I blogged today. I am going to be able to read what I felt, and probably know by that time why I felt so. Even more, I will be able to laugh at my thoughts today. As I do for some of my older writings. Sometimes what I have written strikes a different cord me in, and I feel as if it was someone else who wrote that particular text, as I now feel that I simply am not capable of thinking up that marvel piece of work. It happens.
 
So, the blog is in general a diary of sorts, albeit a public one, where I can post what I feel now, for posterity’s sake. And as an advice to anybody who cares to read this, blog because you want to, not because you expect someone will read it. Readers will come, and readers will go. You and your blog will, however and probably, remain forever (at least the blog will).
 
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Those of you who are following the uptime thingy: Sorry to report, but a power failure forced me to shut down the system. That UPS cannot last longer than 15 minutes with it’s current capacity, so sponsor me a better one. ๐Ÿ˜›
Current uptime is: 1 day, 21 hours, 54 mins and 0 secs

Weird Society

I got new neighbours, yaay!
 
They are some bhaiyya by caste, not that it matters to me, all that matters is that they make chicken at times, and the woman of the house said she would send over some. So that’s settled.
 
Well, the family seems to be a joint one, with the saas and sasur (i.e. the in-laws), the two sons and their two wives, and their respective kids. Never bothered to count, and probably never will. So long as I get my chicken, hehe. ๐Ÿ˜›
 
Anyway, so the point is, the older bahu (daughter-in-law) is allowed (or rather wears) to wear all kinds of clothes (well, most) such as a gown (popularly called the maxi). The younger one, on the other hand, is always in a saree, with the pallu over her head. (Don’t ask me how I know, things just pop up inside my head, that, and the fact that I have ears that feed me with sound waves.)
 
Now is the best part. The younger bahu, incidentally, is a school teacher, and therefore, one logically expects, more socially and culturally forward than her older counterpart, who is, I am given to understand, just matriculated. So, I find it rather amusing that the one who teaches our next generation is either really backward or forced to act like one.
 
Of course, I do not have sufficient information, or even the social maturity and judgement to comment here. But just found it interesting. Maybe someone else can analyse it for me. Maybe there isn’t anything to analyse. I don’t know.
 
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There was this article in the Times of India (too bored to fish out an URL, so if anybody is kind enough to let me know, please comment) about under-age (which again is weird) pregnancies amongst teenage women (now, I do not know why they phrase sentences like that, a man obviously, cannot get pregnant. But who knows, in future, technology can be, well, amusing).
 
I was shocked to read the number. And even more, on reading the number of children each had. Some statistics report as small as 13 years, and others say 7 children at the age of 20. (Facts quoted from memory, may not be entirely true.) Weird. Rather, what the?
 
Discussed it with some of my “girl” friends. They found it utterly (pick your adjective here). I mean, where are these women, or shall we call them, girls? What drives them to it? Underage marriages? Sex? Have they never heard of contraceptives? It is a funny state of affairs.
 
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I would have written more, but not in a mood now. Maybe will continue later. Comments, as always, are welcome.

WTF is this?

Well, here’s one way to bribe search engines.
 
Check this out: http://seorc.blogspot.com/. I am sure there are many more like this, which came under my random view today.
 
Apparently, blogs are being taken rather seriously by search engines and don’t know what not. So someone decides they will build a blog with complete junk, so that some stupid search engine will rank his page, or whatever concept he is trying to make off, higher in the index. Very depressing.
 
But then I guess, so long as there are loopholes, and that basically means at all times, there are going to be people who take (undue?) advantage of the whole thing.

Social Engg & Kevin Mitnick

Social Engineering and Kevin Mitnick are two very abuzz phenomenon these days. By social engineering, one implies the following:
 
Social Engineering uses influence and persuasion to deceive people by convincing them that the social engineer is someone he is not, or by manipulation. As a result, the social engineer is able to take advantage of people to obtain information with or without the use of technology.

Kevin Mitnick is / was one of the best social engineers around. So much so that the US law enforcement agencies had to put him behind bars for the stuff he did, which he always claimed was just out of curiosity, and not of any malicious intent. The point is, he know what he did, has accepted it, and probably does not regret it. He has written two books (maybe more, I know of only two) titled The Art of Deception and The Art of Intrusion.

Both come highly recommeded, and worth a read for anyone who cares about themselves not being ripped off by any social engineer, which means, in other words, practically everybody.

Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love

Some days back I had mentioned about an Apollo Four Forty song called, Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Dub, and recently found out that it is derived from a similar song by Van Halen, called Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love from The Best of Both Worlds, CD 2.
Now you listen to both of them and tell me which one is better, I think that Apollo 440’s version is better, since it’s more techno. But we now know where the guitar licks came from!

Restart is Inevitable

Well, my AV and Internet Security Suite, Kaspersky updated itself (it does that every three hours, actually) and wanted to restart the operating system (it never specified it wanted to restart the machine, which is interesting).

Kaspersky Restart Prompt

Now the timing could never have been worse. I am on an uptime record, and that thing wants a restart… I am helpless, I will give the restart to it. Will restart the uptime statistics, what else can be done? ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Here Come the ABCs

They Might Be Giants have come up with an album for kids (though it is funny even for older people) called Here come the ABCs. I reco it, go get it and hear it atleast once. Pretty hilarious, I must say. With songs like Pictures of Pandas Painting, Letter / Not a Letter, Who Put the Alphabet In Aplhabetical Order? and C Is For Conifers, the whole album is pretty darn comic.
 
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And yes, the latest uptime report: System has been up since the last 4 days, 12 hours, 32 mins and 26 secs!