Maria and John play with KNOPPIX

It’s real fun spending time with my small kids before computer. But with too small kids, we can’t predict what they may do with the machine. When John – my sweet little boy – was a very small kid (still now he is) once he switched off the mains power directly while I just went out of the room. That’s why I used ~LIVE~ systems for giving my computer to kids to play their favourite game apps. Yes there is apps for very small kids. Just like TUXTYPE, GCOMPRIS, CHILDSPLAY etc.

Well, I use Knoppix for ~LIVE~ to give my computer to the kids for playing games. Knoppix gives all their favourite apps in one DVD. (Not only games, a lot of other serious applications also bundled with that.) All you can play live from that disc. And before I give it to kids, I just disconnect the data and power cables from my main hard drive. So the operating system will be loaded from the DVD itself. The advantage is, even if the system got an unsuccessful shutdown, it wont affect the hard drive.

John is an excited boy when seeing the computer. Yesterday when he demanded me to switch on the computer, I decided to copy his excitement with my handycam. So I placed the cam very carefully as if it were a spy cam :-)

The Debian way

Is it right providing free and non-free together? Or is it wrong?

The question is real old, dates back since the inception of Open Source Philosophy.

Freedom or slavery

I have used distros like Ubuntu, Debian, Crunchbang, Slitaz and so on. Most of these distros are not 100% free, I do agree. And I used these distros knowingly that they violate the rule of FREEDOM. I always wanted to use only free stuff like Trisquel or gNewSense, but guys, sometimes I need something non-free. The main issues in my case is multimedia file types and applications. I confess that I cannot get away from mp3 nor flash player.

Many free / open source admirers, followers and evangelists still believe that the Debian way is ideal. I heard many FOSS guys admire the Debian way – providing both free and non-free. They argue that the user has the freedom to choose. For a long time, I also agreed with this argument. You choose what you feel best. Freedom our slavery.

What do you share, good or bad?

Well that is the question. What kind of gifts you may give your beloved ones? Good gifts or bad ones? The answer is obvious. Will anyone share ugly gifts to their friends? “Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a bread and snake, thinking he will choose what he wants ;-)” Debian way fails here. Debian provides good and bad at the same time. You can share sweetness, but not bitter. You can share truth, but not false. Bad things are not be shared even if it shares along with good ones. That way, you can share the way to freedom, but you must not lead anyone towards slavery – thats wrong. This insight make Debian philosophy grim. In addition with Freedom, Debian shares slavery too. It promotes freedom in one hand and serves the opposite with the other hand.

How to download youtube videos

Want to download your favourite youtube videos to your computer? Here is two easy methods:

Download youtube video

Method 1 / Without any program or plugin installation

  1. Yo want to download the following video in youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWyqJ50lho4
  2. Just replace http://www. from the url and with ss.
  3. The url will be look like ssyoutube.com/watch?v=mWyqJ50lho4
  4. Paste the url in the address bar.
  5. You’ll be redirected to http://en.savefrom.netb.
  6. The exact url is here: http://en.savefrom.net/#url=http://youtube.com/watch?v=mWyqJ50lho4&utm_source=youtube.com&utm_medium=short_domains&utm_campaign=ssyoutube.com

Now you can download the video so easily

Method 2 / A plugin in Mozilla Firefox

Open Mozilla Firefox and download Flash Video Downloader from this url: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/flash-video-downloader/
And through this plugin, you can easily download your favourite youtube videos

Story of his hard disc failed

“Hey!! Do you know anyone who can do a hard disc recovery?” My friend shouts at me on the other end of the line. “I need my data as much early as possible.” He was screaming. Tons of photographs and video files are stored in that cute hard disc. External 1TB USB powered one. It was very portable. Very sexy. Bought one year back for copying data for backup. He was so desperate. I consoled him, asking two questions. “Does your Hard disc making noise, just as triq triq trrriq…?” He said “Nope”. “Then carefully disconnect the cables and come to me.” He did. I connected his cute, sexy, 1TB USB powered portable HD into my old, Debian powered Desktop. It was detected. I showed him his files. Now he was dancing. He tried connecting many computers before that, but none of them even detected it. From his 800 GB of data, his priority was around 80 GB of photographs. I copied it into my computer. Copying all the files, he jumped out from my house and came back after half an hour with some bottles of beer and some snacks. Great! I took part in his happiness.

People buy external hard discs in terabytes today which may be changed to Petabytes and Exabytes tomorrow, which is quite unimaginable right now. The higher the volume, the deeper the loss will be. If one loss a TB of data in a Hard Drive is much higher than 4 GB of data in a DVD. The sad part of the story is that Hard Drive fails much frequently. Why?

Most home users buy huge volume (1TB or more) Hard discs as a back up device. They take a decent backup for the first time. Keep it safe and care it for a couple of weeks. One fine morning someone needed the device to backup some huge movie files from his office or a friend’s computer. Copied the movie files, and the device brought back to home. Some weeks later the same device was shared to someone’s friend to reinstall his Vindoz. Right now the Hard disc has hundreds of movie files. Two months later a new television was bought which has a USB port and now its possible to watch their favorite movies from a small Pen Drive. And you know, what they have been doing, well, its amazing, they started plug the poor backup hard disc directly to the TV USB and started watching all the movies which was resting inside! Wow, what a technology! Some interesting days passed by. One day (after the anniversary of the TB Hard disc, just passed) the disc did not initialized by TV. Cursing the TV, he unplugged it and plugged into his newly bought laptop. Hey! What’s wrong with it? Still the HDD cannot be found. And the pop-up balloon says that error reading device. Ok, then lets try it out to our old Desktop machine, on which we took the back ups many times. Oh! F**k, still it can’t be found. Something wrong with the HDD. Oh! God! There are plenty of photos and videos. How much valuable are they? Lamentation starts and going on.

This is the simple story many home users can say.

What should be the precautions?

Ok. Now that’s it. Keep your data safe and stop lamentation.

Hand of thief

Hand of Thief

OK. Many security experts now say that there is a real Linux Trojan is on market and it started its activity on web. It’s called Hand Of Thief (HOT). It is a commercial malware, comes with its own logo and command & control panel interfaces. Zdnet describes it as a semi-successful Linux Trojan. But still I don’t think it is a fully-functional malware that affects a Linux system which is automatically installed, it may need a basic user permission.

Basically HOT is affected on the web browsers of major popular distributions. Mozilla FireFox, Iceweasel, Epiphany, Chromium browsers are affected. But my concern is this – how this happened. I think it is not Linux vulnerable – but my computer habits are. Wonder why we add such fancy and complicated yet less useful features to the operating system. Doing so, it gets more fatty and thus weaker in the matter of security. A rule of thumb is: the more we make it fancy the less it become secure!

As an additional security, never use any in-built applications in a browser, be it Iceweasel, or Midori or whatever. Instead you open a PDF document in a PDF viewer installed inside your system. Likewise, open an mp4 file in Totem or VLC stand alone application. Please care to update security patches always.

Mobile Looting / Shame on you Tata Docomo

Mobile companies are looting its customers by trapping them to choose their junk (unwanted) services. Most of the victims are prepaid customers. Its actually a clever trap. A kind of USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) message comes to your mobile phone with an “OK” and “Cancel” options.

Here is the message

PICK of the DAY!Click OK to ACTIVATE or press exit to CANCEL.Rs30/month

PickOfTheDay

There is no confirmation questions. If you press the OK button by mistake, there is no recalls. Your money is lost.

Most probably you may not get any voice indications when such a message comes. I still don’t know what kind of messages are these. Are they USSD / Push or something other? God knows! After a while, when you take your phone and unlock the keypad, without knowing the trap, you may have accidentally okay-ed to that message. You will get a notification message just as follows:

Hi! You will now receive Live Astrology on your phone. You have been charged Rs. 30 for next 30 days. To Stop alerts, SMS STOP LA to 54321

So Rs. 30/- has already been debited from your account. Hundreds of thousands of customers are looted  daily in this way. Just drop into a Tata Docomo Store, you’ll see that majority of the customers come to the store only to raise such complaints. In many other occasions, even without an accidental key press, you may lose money for such unsolicited services.

Yesterday (Sunday, 25 August 2013) I got such an experience in one of my prepaid mobile phones. The name of the unsolicited service was Dus Bahane. I got the following message.:

Hi! You will now receive Dus Bahane alerts on your phone. You have been charged Rs. 10 for next 7 days. To Stop alerts, SMS STOP DB to 54321

Dus Bahane

Dus Bahane alert is nothing but a collection of  damn ‘deprecated’ jokes.

I called to the Tata Docomo customer care from a post paid phone. It was their reply that they cannot fix the complaints for Prepaid customers. Instead I have to call another toll free number – 18602665555. Well, I called that number instantly, the customer care executive lady received the call and after I presented my complaint, the line was hung up without any notification. I tried at least 12 times after that, but all those customer care dudes were too busy attending other calls. So I decided to complaint through email.

Here is the mail

Sub: Please remove the unwanted service and return money.
Ref: Mobile number : 1234567890

Dear Sir,

I have been debited Rs. 10/- today for an alert service named “Dus Banana Alert” which I have not requested by any means. Hence I request you to credit back Rs. 10 and deactivate the so called service as earliest as possible. I do not want any such junk services hereafter. Please deactivate such service offers in my mobile to prevent such instances in future.

My name.
Alternate Number : 9876543210

I Send the mail to the following mail ids:
listen@tatadocomo.com, appellate.kerala@tatadocomo.com

I haven’t got any email replies from them; instead I got their SMS after one hour at last, stating that :

Hi! Thanks for sharing your balance related concern with us. An amount of Rs. 10 has credited to your account.

BalanceRelatedConcern

I am pretty sure there weren’t any intervention has been done from my side in this case. So I got the money back. If I pressed the OK button anyway, damn sure I wont get my money back..

Anyone can get back the lost money by calling the customer care by demanding our money back. Or if customer care is not accessible, send an email to the customer care and appellate cell. But many customers won’t take much efforts to get back their money. These robbers loot the money of poor customers in a large scale. Imagine how much money can they loot @ Rs. 10 from a one-hundred-thousand people?

However the unsolicited service is not still terminated. I will raise another complaint to stop that service. Wondering why TRAI ignores such day light robbery done by the mobile companies.

Tail piece

Its 10th October 2013 today.

At least one and a half months after this post has been published, today I read a news in some leading news portals that finally TRAI has pushed a new regulation to control against this day light robbery. Now subscribers can complaint against the unwanted services. Here is the news:

TRAI launched, or rather forced operators to introduce a common number which works across different networks, and which can be used to stop unwanted services. Mobile users can now dial 155223 from anywhere in India to deactivate. We tried this service using phone numbers from different operators in Bangalore and Mumbai, and consistently found that the IVR was prompt. – See more at: http://www.techtree.com/content/news/2915/deactivate-unwanted-mobile-services-calling-155223.html#sthash.86q0W63p.dpuf

Now that’s a real good move. Please copy the number in your mobile right now – 155223. But still there is no action has been done against the trapping nature of the messages sent by the company. Either the subscriber get the option to reject all such messages (not DND, if someone activated it, he losses many online services right now) or there must be a confirmation option should be included if the subscriber accidentally clicked OK button.