Archive for October, 2006

lkHOT widget

You can now add lkHOT headlines to your blog or website. Please give it a try and let me know if it works.

Note: Code has been updated for xhtml compliance, see below

Background:

I was looking for a nice way to enable anyone to use the output of lkHOT. It already outputs RSS, but not everyone can easily add that to their site. So, I decided to write a script to parse the RSS output to JavaScript

The javascript basically prints out the links only, without any formatting(bracketed by LI’s). You can format it via your stylesheet, and hopefully it will automatically pick up the default formatting and nicely match up with your site.

Please help me by trying this out. Even if you don’t intend to use it on your site, just try it out, let me know if it works. I want to know if it works in different sites and browsers.

About:

This code gives six headlines, which link directly to the source websites (not lkhot) and a link to lkhot at the bottom, which the visitor can click for even more links.

The headlines automatically update as new links are added to lkHOT.

Example:
(See an example in this sidebar, under lkHOT)

Code:

<script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://www.lkhot.com/javafeeds/lkhot-all.php” mce_src=”http://www.lkhot.com/javafeeds/lkhot-all.php”>
</script>

Note: The UL here has a class lkHOT. You can format that by formatting UL’s (and/or) in your stylesheet.

Suggestions/bug reports?

Please post suggestions or bug reports as comments on this thread, or email to bugs - [at] -  lkhot dot com

Note:

Links at lkHOT are SFW and checked by me so you can (generally) use them on your site safely. Are the links boring? You can fix this by submitting your own favorite links!

Tip:

The links have descriptions if you hover over them..

Add comment October 26th, 2006

Test drive lkHOT

lkhotbig.jpg
Background
The idea behind this site is I want to be able to see a one page snapshot of what’s cool in Sri Lanka, at any time. It doesnt matter where the content originates from - it could be blog posts, GOSL, Sri Lankans drag racing on youtube, whatever.

What?
lkHOT allows you to view interesting local articles, based on user votes, or submit your own links

Think: A local version of digg.

Where?
http://www.lkhot.com

How to:

Go to http://www.lkhot.com/, and click away. (Send me bug reports please)

TIP: To submit your favorite articles, or vote, just register there (it’s free)

Adding lkHOT to your site.

You can add a “submit to lkHOT” link, on your site, as a mini button or a text link, this way visitors can submit your posts to lkHOT with a simple click!

TIP: The code automatically gets your URL in wordpress! See an example of the code in action, at the top of this site (lkHOT this!) and a button example below (the little lion picture below this post)

Get the code here: lkHOT code

Need your help

Calling all bloggers on Kottu and elsewhere. Guys, help me out with this - please register and submit some of your favorite articles - better yet, integrate the voting code to your site so visitors can add your posts to lkHOT with a click!

Add comment October 19th, 2006

MS Dewey

msdew.jpg

At last, personalized search (and free insults)

http://www.msdewey.com/

(Direct links to searches)
Censored1
Hollywood personality types
The elusive Ricardo
Censored2
Art

 

Best search answer I got so far?

“Ricardo, get the wood chipper. This guy’s too nosey”

Fun searches you can try:

“nintendo”
“How to fight a Ninja”
“George Bush”
“how to do the robot”
“linux/microsoft”
“Janina Gavankar” (Tip, that’s her!)
“arts”

Via: Digg
http://digg.com/design/MsDewey_com_New_Interactive_Flash_Search_Engine

Update: Originally posted on digg, this link got buried.
See the bottom of that thread

Wonder why msdewey does not show up in google, or digg - is this a site still in alpha that hasnt been officially launched or something? and why was it buried on digg?

TIP: Duggtrends have a list of stories that got buried on DIGG.

“If you have not noticed yet, but there are many “controversial” stories which make it to frontpage but then get buried. If you have missed them, this page tracks them up for you.
http://duggtrends.com/buried.aspx

 

2 comments October 14th, 2006

Fire in the sky

Sri Lankan sunsets -

- always spectacular.

Sky Detail 1

Sky Detail 2

Rainbow

Red

3 comments October 12th, 2006

Barefoot

Photo’s taken at Barefoot (http://www.barefoot.lk/)
HDR post processing by Photomatix.

This place is so beautiful.

Click each photo to view a larger version at flickr
This is my first experiment with HDR technology.
Tell me what you think of these photos..

Coke

Garden

Chairs

doorway

stairs

3 comments October 10th, 2006

More car show photos…

..experimenting with post processing techniques here… just trying to make the pictures ‘interesting’… (except for the Mustang photos which are cropped only)..

pony1.jpg

pony2.jpg

g3.jpg

star.jpg

7series.jpg

Add comment October 7th, 2006

BMICH car show

Decided to check out the auto show, mainly to test my new camera out. Photos here are as is, no post processing (except for crop/resize).

I’m extremely impressed with the performance of this camera. Pictures are vivid and detailed.

cm1.jpg

Playing with aperture settings here…

cm2.jpg

cm51.jpg

[zoom]

toy3.jpg

focus on car..

toy2.jpg

focus on both girl and car… [zoom]

!!Thanks Toyota girl!!

3 comments October 6th, 2006

Screamer!

2screamer-large.gif
What?

Screamer is a free application which allows you to tune to free online FM radio stations, and, best of all, it can automatically record songs (with title and track name) as Mp3. (But shh, don’t tell the RIAA).

Why?

Because local radio sux ( Idiot DJ’s / boring commercials).

Many of the channels on Screamer are commercial/DJ free. Like.. wow, at last I can listen to, um, music.

How?

  1. Download Screamer from softpedia.
  2. Extract it to a folder on your hard disk.
  3. Run screamer.
  4. Select a radio station (try pop music channels which have the latest hits)

On those free MP3s..

I wonder what would happen if someone accidentally tuned to a channel like… say… Sky FM’s top music, and clicked RECORD, and forgot all about it for a day or two.. why.. their hard disk would fill up with 100’s of the latest MP3’s, neatly named and categorized.

Now that is a scary thought! If ever this happens to you, make sure you delete all the files - whatever you do, don’t burn them on a CD and toss it in your car’s MP3 player, that would be wrong!

Tip: try Sky FM’s Top Hits Music channel for all the latest hit’s in MP3 format.. also, browse thru the list of regional channels, for a great selection of foreign content..

Add comment October 4th, 2006

Securing your PC

A Laptop 
Photo by Roney, via Flickr

Introduction 

This is a simple article, aimed at anyone who uses a PC. Whether you are a power user, or occational surfer, these simple tips can help protect your PC and the valueable data on it.

Tip: if you are in a hurry, read the summary at the end of this article.

Why look after your PC? why secure your data?

A PC is a valueable device. Aside from physical value, it contains files, data, and valueable information whose value cannot be quantified. While modern PC’s are vulnerable to a number of threats - there are many things you can do to reduce the threats.

What threats does your PC face?

I’ve devided them two categories: Physical and other (content / data related):

 


Physical threats:

   

These include:

  1. Power line problems.
  2. Shocks/vibrations.
  3. Static electricity.
  4. Heat, dust, moisture, and humidity.

Power line problems:
Line AC power tends to have many problems, ranging from electrical noise, surges, spikes, brownouts, etc.

Solution: A good quality UPS, from a reputable brand such as APC should protect your PC from most power problems. Alternatively, use a high quality power strip with surge protection built in, combined with a UPS.

TIP: If you use a laptop, lugging around a UPS is not necessary , but you are still vulnerable to power line/phone line problems: APC has a small plug in device called the surge arrest, which fits in line with your laptop power supply - as a bonus this device includes phone line protection. (It’s also available at Unity Plaza, check in at Asian Computer systems, 1st floor).

Shock/Vibration:

Computers and laptops are succeptible to vibration and shock. In particular, hard disks are easily damaged/rendered unreadble by vibrations during usage.

Solutions:

Some modern laptops include various forms of hard disk protection (ThinkPad’s ‘roll cage’ ads come to mind) however the simplest solution is careful use: Always ensure that your computer/laptop is on a level surface, in a way where it wont suffer shock or vibration (or be accidentally dropped). In the case of desktops, place the system unit (the main beige box) in a safe place where it wont be accidentally kicked, for example.

TIP: Powerful subwoofers, as well as ground vibrations can be a threat: One simple solution is to rest the system unit on the styrofoam packing it came with (take care not to block any air vents though) 

Static electricity:

Due to the extreme humidity here, static electricity is relatively rare, however if you are in a low humidity environment, its best to earth yourself before touching your PC.

Heat, Dust, and Moisture/Humidity

Humidity can be a serious problem. I once took apart a laptop (it was experiencing intermittent rebooting) and was shocked to find most of the inner connections were green with rust!

Some solutions:

  1. Use your PC in an airconditioned environment where possible - air conditioners reduce both heat, dust, and humidity - severe threats to a PC’s life.
  2. Ensure all fans work: modern PC’s (Pentium III and above) usually have fan/temperature monitors via software which will allow you to monitor their status.

 


Content / data threats:

   

The number one problem facing most PC’s is user error. Other than this, spyware, malware, virus and other factors can put your data at risk..

These include:

  1. User error/accidental deletions.
  2. Spyware/Malware/Keyloggers/Hacking/Phishing
  3. Virus

User Error - It’s easy to loose content due to accidental deletion. Sadly, the only way to prevent this is via regular backups.

I would suggest dividing content (for backup) into three types:

  1. Valueable files: things like password lists, current work files, these are usually small documents and should be backed up daily.
  2. General content: downloaded stuff, and so on - this type of content should be backed up, as often as you consider necessary.
  3. Large files, e.g. media files, open source software you download.

Backup TIPS:

  1. Use a pen drive for valueable files - this is a small USB drive which can be purchased in capacity up to a few GB’s, usually for a few dollars. Also, you can have a separate folder on the same PC to back up your files to - this wont be useful in the event of a hard disk crash, but it can help in the event of accidental deletion. Due to the low cost of pen drives, you can buy more than one easily.
  2. For general content / large files, you can back up to another PC on your network, to provide redundance (in case your hard drive fails).
  3. Mirror a running installaiton of your OS: there are a number of softwares which enable you to mirror a drive/partition - set up your preferred OS and all software you need, and mirror the partition, that way if your OS is corrupted you can restore it. (I’ll be writing a detailed article on this topic soon).
  4. Back up any configuration files: files such as your favorite links, etc, also IE login/passwords for example. Configuration files tend to be small and change regularly so you can use your pen drive for this task also.

Spyware/Malware/Keyloggers/Hacking/Phishing:

When you connect your PC to a network, you are immediately vulnerable to a range of problems.

Spyware refers to applications which ’spy’ on you - for example, applications which monitor sites you visit, and send information about you, via the internet, to other people (without your permission). Legitimate sites do this, Google for example, logs all your searches, but somehow nobody seems to really mind this, but I digress…

Malware refers to software which contains harmful bugs, and / or perform unauthorised operations on your pc, Spyware refers to programs which access your data, and / or transmit it without your permission.

Keyloggers are secret applications which monitor which keys you press - they can be used to steal username/passwords, as well as spy on you.

Hacking - when you connect to the internet (or any network), hackers can try to gain access to your files. One simple effective way to prevent or at least reduce this is to use a software firewall.

On an ironic note, most external attacks (spyware, hacking, etc) tend to target popular operating systems (e.g. Microsoft Windows),  and applications (e.g. Internet Explorer).

Securing your PC against Malware/Spyware/Hackers

  1. Use a software firewall: A software firewall (such as ZoneLabs ZoneAlarm) can be used to control which applications on your PC can access the network/internet. So, for example, if you have spyware/keyloggers on your PC, a firewall will alert you when they attempt to transmit data. This can alert you, and also prevent the malware from transmitting your data. As a bonus, a software firewall will protect your PC from hackers on the internet, as well as those on your network (for example, a windows PC’s internal passwords/shares can be hacked by people on your network, usually within seconds, if you don’t have a good firewall.
  2. Be careful when downloading/installating software: If you are downloading software or applications, always download from reputable sources (such as sourceforge/download.com) also use an up to date antivirus, and try not to enable internet access via firewall for a software, unless absolutely necessary.
  3. Beware of browser plugins, activex applications, java applications or other gizmo’s you find on the Internet, at best most of them are spyware, at worst, many are malicious.

Phishing - fake web sites/emails combined with social engineering - used to obtain your login details (username/password) for various services such as email/online banking

Phishing is accomplished in many ways - for example an email with a forged email address, which opens up a page telling you to log into your bank account/email.

How to protect yourself from phishing attacks:

  1. Use a secure email service: google’s gmail is usually safe from most javascript based phishing emails. of course, email can contain links, and if you open links, you are at the mercy of that site.
  2. Always doublecheck official emails: If you receive an email from an official source such as HSBC or eBay, you should log onto their site directly, and read the message in your inbox there. When logging into sites, always enter the address in your browser yourself (don’t click email links!)
  3. When logging into a website: check for the following
    - Secure login - the address should begin with https:// (NOT http:/)
    - a padlock in bottom right of your browser window (indicating a secure connection).
    - Check the url carefully, to make sure it is https://www.thedomain.com/… and so on, be wary of any login links which consist of numerical addresses (http:/123.456… or appear to be email addresses (http://something@somedomain/…)
    When in doubt, visit the web site directly, by typing the address in the browser.
  4. If you are using online banking, choose a bank who offers a physical security token (these generate random numbers and are used together with your password to login).
  5. Don’t download/install junk software/visit dodgy sites, This is somewhat obvious, also, cancel any popups that try to install something on your PC.

VIRUS - Viruses (or virii?) are malicious programs which spread/replicate to your PC - They are capable of deleting files, corrupting data, and, in extreme cases, wiping your hard disk clean.

Computer viruses usually spread via email/downloads from the internet.

Solutions:

  1. Use a free antivirus: AVG Antivirus provides a free version for personal use (see http://www.grisoft.com/).
  2. Surf/download responsibly: don’t download junk/unknown software, always download from reputed sites (as a bonus, this can protect you from malware). In my case, I’ve never experienced a virus in the last few years, by following this regime.
  3. Update your antivirus regularly: usually, your antivirus has an option to auto update via the Internet.

Summary

   

Hardware protection

  1. Use a UPS: Use a good UPS from a reputed manufacturer, which includes surge supression, as well as phone line and network protection, where possible. If you use a laptop, consider an APC Notebook SurgeArrest (or similar device), which includes surge and line protection
  2. Protect your PC from heat, humidity and dust: Air conditioning provides a simple all in one solution.
  3. Vibrations/shocks are harmful to your PC, they can kill your hard disk, for example.

Content / data protection:

  1. Back up content regularly: back up valueable daily work files to a pen drive, and other content to a networked storage/writeable media (CD/DVD). Also remember to back up configuration files.
  2. Use separate partitions (drives) for OS  and Data: one for your OS (operating system), and any software, and another for data other files, this way, if your OS partiton is corrupted, you can reformat or restore this partition without loosing your data.
  3. Use good passwords: Good passwords are alpha numeric, and don’t use common terms/easily guessable content (e.g. anything to do with your name/age).
  4. Use a software firewall: to help secure your data, and prevent malware/spyware from stealing and transmitting your data.
  5. Use an antivirus: there are a number of free antivirus products out there: e.g. Panda Antivirus.

Please post any questions/corrections below

2 comments October 3rd, 2006


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