My World A Blog On All The Things That Happen In My Life

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Posts about Computing

Hellforge: my desktop after a long time
on 01/08/2013 - like it?

Had this post drafted long, long ago – just publishing today.

I’ve been tinkering with computers for well over 15 years now – and since 2007 I’ve been using laptops almost exclusively – prime reason being space(or the lack of it) since I moved away from my home, to a new city. Staying in a PG meant there was no space.

Since the past year and half I’ve been in Bangalore, staying in a rented house and though wanted to own a desktop, there wasn’t a decent justification to get it, especially since my laptop, HP Envy 14 was coping well. Till November, my Envy’s main system fan died and my laptop was running on GPU fan – which meant running any application would result in temperatures shooting to 80-90 – could barely run a game for 10-15 minutes.

In mid Jan I finally decided to get a new desktop than fix my laptop. Anyway, after doing some research and settling on a budget(which was stretched by over 6k) here’s what I got: (disclaimer: Flipkart affiliate links follow)

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Slides from my talk on “Password Management & You” at #bcb13
on 03/03/2013 - like it?

I’ve been going to Barcamp Bangalore since quite a while now, and it was only at last time’s Barcamp Bangalore that I actually gave a techlash session on Automated backup. This time, I decided to give a general session with focus on how & why people people should improve their passwords & password management skills. Embedded below are my slides.

And the very next day after my talk, Evernote gets compromised & has issued a password reset. You still believe in bad password practices? Wake up, smell the coffee. Improve your passwords. Use Lastpass(disclaimer: referral link; if you signup using this, both you & me get a month of free LastPass premium. If you rather not want to use the referral link – head straight to their site).

Update: To download the slides – click on the Settings gear & select the format of your choice. If you’re having problems, here’s the link to the presentation. Open it, then click on File menu → Download as and select the format of your choice.

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Of Dead Hard Drives, Stolen Phones & ICICI Bank Dumbassery
on 07/08/2011 - like it?

It’s been a bad, bad week for couple of my gadgets. First, my 500GB internal laptop drive, which I had swapped out for a Kingston 128GB SSD and converted into an external drive, crashed. It is my fault, tbh – I had disconnected it before sleeping the previous night and next day morning, after waking up, breakfast et al decided to listen to some music & plugged in the drive to the USB port.

Unfortunately, I was standing up and the moment I plugged the drive in, the USB drive slipped from my hands and fell on the ground, just as the drive had spun up to it’s maximum speed of 7200 rpm, instantly killing it. I plugged it back in, with little hopes of it being alright, but listening to the sounds confirmed what I had feared – the drive was dead, making the click of death. The data loss was minimal – most important documents were on Dropbox, Pictures on flickr, Picasa, Posterous & Dropbox. Bulk of the hard drive was populated with data from my previous install of Windows, which I meant to clear up but never bothered. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any backup of my Music – so I’ll have to redownload them again. I’ve been using last.fm, Grooveshark or Spotify (depending on my mood |) pretty extensively, so I’m not too heavily hit by the loss of my music collection. And with me using last.fm to scrobble all of my listened music, my entire music library is available online.

Another data which comprised the bulk of the data on the hard drive were the installed games that I had purchased via Steam – I’ll have to redownload these again but I’ll do them as and they’re needed.

****

That was on the start of the week. This Thursday, however I faced the most significant loss – my beloved Nexus S – was stolen while boarding the bus. Anyone who’s known me or met me knows how possessive I am about my phone – don’t let it go out of my hand. I was heading back home from work, waiting for the bus to come. The bus was crowded, more than usual. I hesitated at first on whether or not to take the bus, bus considering that I had been waiting for half hour, decided to board the bus. While climbing, some dude bumped into me. Once in the bus, after I paid for the bus ticket, I decided to listen to some music and *wham*. That sickening feeling of knowing that your phone’s no longer there hit me. I asked a lady standing next to me to give a call – but it was coming as switched off. And bear in mind all this happened within a span of 10-15 minutes.

The thief flicked my phone, switched it off, tossed out the SIM within that period. *sigh*. I didn’t have any tracking apps installed either to make things worse. My first concern was that the thief would try to delete my contacts, and since contacts are sync’d to my Google account, they would be deleted from there as well, so I rushed over and changed my password. Since I use LastPass premium, I also revoked access to the app.

For now, I purchased a second hand iPhone 3GS from Shivaranjan – ideally I would have gone for the Nexus S again(yes, I love that phone!) but it was out of stock on Flipkart. Knowing Shiva would have a phone or two as backup(!) I DM’d him if he was willing to sell any of his Android phones, he said negative but offered me the 3GS.

****

If these 2 incidents weren’t enough, ICICI was there to fuck up things even further. I had opted for an upgrade to my debit & credit cards(both were due to expire soon) about 2-3 weeks ago. This week, I finally got my debit card. ICICI nicely informed me that they would send over the PIN for the debit card in another postal mail for “security reasons” – this would take another 7 or so days. While that was fine, these dumbasses also deactivated my existing debit card, which meant I couldn’t withdraw from the ATM, all this while I’m due to pay rent for my room. And with my phone stolen, I couldn’t even get the phone banking to work – it would reject my account number and report that the debit card entry was invalid.

Finally after a lot of head banging, I managed to get the debit card activated.

To top it off, Airtel decided to take their own sweet time in reactivating my replacement SIM request. Yeesh. Hope at least the next week turns out to be a little bit better.

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My unmonitored Gmail account gets compromised
on 09/05/2011 - like it?

Today seemed like just another day. Little did I know, in a span of about 20 minutes, the resulting set of events would be hugely embarrassing for me. I had barely woken up, when my phone started going bonkers with notifications coming from emails, chats & twitter replies. A glance at the notifications indicated that my email account had been compromised and phishing emails had been sent to every one in my contacts list.

[…]

So, what went wrong? It all boils down to a culmination of the PlayStation Network hacking, some bad habits from my yesteryear and some nice features from Gmail which resulted in the phishing email to look like it came from my current domain account instead of the old Gmail account. Let’s have a look at each vector:

  • PlayStation Network break-in
  • Not monitoring my email account
  • Password Reuse
  • Send mail as and Reply-to set to my domain address

Read a complete account of what happened over at techie-buzz

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Installing the Kingston v100 SSDNow 128GB SSD on a HP Envy 14
on 29/03/2011 - like it?

Quite some time back Kingston was kind enough to send me their v100 128GB SSD for review. Due to my travel back to India, I had to stall the SSD shipment since I wouldn’t in the US by the time I would have received it. Once back here, I had to further delay since I had planned to take a short week-long vacation to Mangalore.

While the SSD was in transit, I started researching on how would I be able to fit the SSD into my laptop, with the SSD as the primary drive and the existing Seagate Momentus 7200rpm hard drive as the secondary drive. Digging up the Envy 14 manual, I was under the impression that having both drives would be possible.

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Batch file to delete files older than x days
on 10/11/2010 - like it?

At work, I have bunch of batch files which take an export from Oracle database, compress them and move them to their respective folders. In addition to this, the scripts also copy the Oracle forms executibles (“fmx”), reports (“rdf”) and other miscellaneous files to the backup locations and these are further compressed. The compressed files are then transferred over to the SAN.

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HP Envy 14 Review
on 28/10/2010 - like it?

After a long (happy) time with my Dell Inspiron 1520, my previous laptop’s age was catching up – the processor was a bottleneck, the 8600m GT was akin to an oven stove. Figured this would be the best time to get a new laptop. I’ve mentioned previously as to why I chose the HP Envy 14 – you might want to read up that. Like most of the items that I’ve purchased in the past year or so, the Envy 14 was also bought from HP store with certain changes as compared to the base model. Some of them include:

  • Opted for an Intel Core i5 520M instead of the base Intel Core i3 370M.

This option bumped the rate by about $100, but I felt it was worth it – going by past experience where I settled for a bare minimum Core 2 Duo  T5250 – a decision which I kind of regretted since my processor was holding back severely. (Side note: The i5 520 is no longer available in HP store and has been replaced by the i5 560M.)

  • Bumped hard disk capacity from 320GB to 500B

You can never have enough of available space.

  • Lower resolution screen

Opted for a 1366×768 resolution screen, instead of a 1600×900. I really do believe that 1280×800 / 1366×768 resolution hits the sweet spot for 14/15″ screens. Here’s a glance at the laptop specifications.

Laptop Specifications:
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Creating and Editing Parameterized Queries in Excel 2007
on 12/10/2010 - like it?

I spotted this question on Super User about creating parameterized queries in Excel 2007 and attempted to answer it – as I thought it would be pretty easy.

And well – it was easy – the part part where you create the query, that is. Now creating parameterized queries – now that’s something totally different. I searched around a bit for documentation on doing so – and found that any articles on the same were woefully inadequate. To be specific: There are plenty of articles on how to change the parameters – just head over to Properties -> Query Definition -> Parameters. Ok, cool. Now hang on, the Parameters button is disabled. How the heck am I supposed to get it enabled ? I had a ball of a time trying to figure out a way to do it – and in the end, found the answer, and posted it. Figured might as well post it here for my reference… and for others who are searching for a way to do the same.

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Cisco VPN Client for Windows Vista / Windows 7 64-bit
on 01/08/2010 - like it?

I’ve been looking for a reliable VPN client, one which works well on Windows Vista / Windows 7 and especially one which can connect to a IPsec’d Cisco VPN.

Of course there’s Cisco’s default VPN client but the one given to me is a crappy old 4.6 version, and works only on Windows XP. Tried to get the AnyConnect version, but after PITA registration and deep digging into a hopelessly unnavigable site, found that I cannot download it using a “standard” registration account :-\

Anyhow, I’ve been using ShrewSoft’s VPN Client for now, its pretty neat,  user  friendly(well, unless you’re trying to create a new connection anyway) , works great and can import Cisco’s pcf profile files as well, saving you the trouble of having break your head in configuring one.

So, go grab it now!

Windows Download LinkLinux Download Link

(PS: Haven’t yet tested the Linux version, will post on my Linux blog after trying it out)

Update: Swaroop just informed me about Cisco’s WebVPN. Neat stuff, but requires additional config from Net Admins.

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A look at Reliance WiMAX (Broadnet ) Internet Connection
on 06/02/2010 - like it?

Been a while since last wrote a review so I’m a bit rusty :)

Previously, I depended a lot on the crappy Airtel data card. In course of time things happened, ( which is not relevant to the review ;) ) and I shifted to a new place. This place had a pre-existing Reliance WiMax connection, so I really cannot comment on the installation charges and support.

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