Showing posts with label hack. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hack. Show all posts

Monday, May 15, 2017

India still in denial of WannaCry


The second wave of the wannacry ransomeware attack is in full swing this week. Computers in 150 countries have been affected, specially China. But the Indian government , like always, has chosen to go to denial mode. Government and media are reporting that the threat is minimal, and systems are not affected. Reality is that lakhs of systems were already affected.

Just check the real time tracking of this attack.



Crude reality is that due to mass use of pirated software in India, reports of attacks will go unreported.  Meanwhile, ransomware incidents were reported from Kerala, Kolkata and Andhra Pradesh. However, no corporate office or institution came forward fearing that their brand image will take a hit if the news of their computers being infected goes public. The real impact of cyber attack in India can be only assessed later this week. The government too tried to dispel rumours about banking telecom or aviation being hit by the outbreak


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Digitally Weary Users Switch To ‘Dumb’ Phones


This is the reason why I don’t use a smartphone.


Unplugged: Eddie Redmayne was tired of being ‘glued’ to his iPhone

In January, British actor Eddie Redmayne made headlines around the world as he became the latest in a growing band of smartphone refuseniks.

“It was a reaction against being glued permanently to my iPhone during waking hours,” he explained, turning instead to an old-fashioned “dumb phone” handset that could only make and take calls.

He is not alone. There is a small but busy market for phones that are simple and cheap at a time when smartphones are becoming ever more complex and expensive.

Feature phones — handsets with some basic functions such as playing music and accessing the internet — are gradually being replaced by low cost smartphones, according to Francisco Jeronimo, research director for European mobile devices at IDC, the research group. But there is still a significant demand for older-style phones.

Strategy Analytics, a research group, estimates that 44m basic phones were sold in 2015, accounting for 2 per cent of the global market.

Some phonemakers, such as Sony and LG, have already turned their back on the market. But others like Microsoft and Samsung are still producing devices every year aimed at the feature market.

Many smartphone users bemoan having to buy devices that are easily broken, require daily recharging and which will be superseded by a new, better version within a year. Even basic smartphones offer computing power that not many people need.

Some users buy phones with limited or no internet connections in a conscious attempt to decouple from the modern digital world. Light Phone founder Joe Hollier falls into this camp. The 25-year-old former skater has developed a credit card-sized phone without a data connection and no extra functions other than to make calls. He describes a feeling of huge relief when the ability to check emails or status updates is removed.

Analysts say that there is a growing number of “second phoneys” who use an expensive smartphone or “phablet” during the day, but turn to cheaper, pocket-sized devices when they go out in the evening.

The Light Phone functions as a companion device to a smartphone but Mr Hollier hopes it will also encourage people to unplug from the modern internet world.

There are also practical reasons why some are turning their backs on smartphones. The short battery life of devices is a source of constant complaint and many travellers are still attracted to the reliability and long battery life of older phones.

This market is still being served by Microsoft, which now owns the Nokia brand. The US group last year launched the Nokia 215, for example, a simple, robust device that has a standby battery life of 29 days. The Nokia 515 has a massive 38 days standby time.

The phone has a simple layer of apps and basic data connectivity, but the main attraction is the $30 price tag. As Microsoft boasts: “Exceptional battery life and impressive durability are standard features. When you own a Nokia, you own a phone that’s built to last.”

Dumb phones have more specific uses, however, for example being given to children for calling home. They are simple, robust and cheap if lost.

Likewise, there are simple phones for the elderly, such as those made by Doro, which prioritise large buttons and the amplification of volume rather than how quickly they can access the internet.

Mr Jeronimo says that such products are becoming a niche opportunity for companies. Doro has grown to become the third-largest feature phonemaker in western Europe after Microsoft and Samsung, he adds.

Feature phones are also more popular in developing markets because of the combination of low prices and long battery life.


The NoPhone

“Using a smartphone in some countries in Africa, for instance, is not an option for many users, as it would require to charge it on a daily basis,” says Mr Jeronimo.

“On the other hand using a smartphone means little for users who cannot connect to a 3G network, either because they are not available or because the connectivity is extremely expensive.”

And, for those that find even basic phones are too much, there is a solution: the $5 NoPhone Zero. It claims to be the least advanced phone ever created, has no buttons or components and is just a plastic rectangle. It is a joke, but one that says much about our modern anxiety about technology.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Your password is not strong enough


For me, this is the scariest youtube video I have watched in a very long time. Watch how a university professor uses a mulit-core computer running on GPUs to break through passwords stored in encrypted (MD5) form.


Friday, November 6, 2015

Skype Adds new emoticons & Skype - Outlook Integration


Skype is getting more fun to use. They still have their boring old user interface in blue, but they are adding more new emoticons just for the fun of it. First they added the characters of the Pixar movie 'Inside Out' when the movie came out.


But now they have gone ahead and added a tonne of Indian themed emoticons along with Halloween charachters.


There's the dancing punjabi  bangara, 80's style disco dancer, and even chicken tandoori and chai !  They don't convey any emotions, just for fun.

Oh, did you know that skype can integrate to your outlook connection ? Just add your official email address to your skype profile, and skype will start showing you all the profiles of your official contacts.


So you will start seeing green squares next to your outlook contacts, showing their availability on skype !

Thursday, November 5, 2015

How to get Windows 7 Weather Gadget to work again


The weather here in Bangalore, India is acting funny again. Rain destroyed the city for the last three days, and just when the met department predicted more rain for two more weeks, it stopped raining. It is now bright and sunny (and dusty).  You have to depend on Google weather to find out the predictions for the coming days. When Windows 7 shipped, they had this cool new thing called Windows Live, and the sidebar, which had gadgets. And the weather gadget was my favourite, it would just stay there un-intruding your  work but tell you the weather outside. About two years ago, Microsoft killed the weather gadget's service, because they wanted to focus on stupid Windows 8 and 10…and this meant killing the ecosystem of 7. The weather gadget stopped workings, and simply showed the error : "Service not Available".

Here is how you can get it working again.

Step 1. You have to replace the cache file for the weather gadget with an older one. Download this file.

Step 2. On your Windows 7 machine, go to [\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Live\Services\Cache]. Delete/Backup the  Config.xml file present there with the one in the downloaded zip file.

Step 3. Now go to the desktop and drag the Weather gadget back into the desktop


Thats it !

Now the default location will be New York. And changing the location from the gadget wont work. To change the location to your own, you will need these additional steps.

Step 4. Open up your task manager ( Ctrl + Shift + Esc) , and kill the sidebar.exe app.


Step 5. On your Windows 7 machine, go to [AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar]. Delete/Backup the Settings.ini file there

Step 6. Open up the Settings.ini file in a text editor and change the code of WeatherLocationCode to the code of the place you want to see.

Step 7. You can get the code from Just to there and search for the place, and take the code from the generated URL.

For instance, the code for Bangalore is INXX0012.


Step 8. Save the Settings.ini file.


Step 9. Open task manager again. And go to File -> New Task -> and run sidebar.exe.

Voila !


Have fun !

Thursday, October 1, 2015

How to Block banner popups on any website domain, using AdBlock


Recently there has been some news on the net about the morality of adblock software. On one side, ads are required to run a site, as it generates revenue. On the other side, users have had enough of in-your-face huge ads which consume bandwidth and complicate browsing.

Many sites welcome visitors with huge banners taking up the entire front space, pushing the visitor to a hostage like scenario. Extensions like adblock do a good job of blocking ads on the side of the page content, but cannot block (or do not block, I am not sure) these huge banner ads. Adding a simple rule to the adblocker can  fix the problem for you.

For instance, this is what I got when I visited the website of a news paper in India



Heres how to block this ad completely in the future on this site.

1: Install AdBlock extension in your browser.

2: On getting this banner ad, right click on the banner itself and choose Adblock->Block this ad.


3: You will now get a popup with a slider on it. Adjust the slider to the right, so that the banner ad and the transparent overlay disappear completely.




4: Click on Looks Good. And on the next pop-up, confirm by clicking on the Block It ! Button.


Adblock will not add a rule into the system, so that any HTML DIV where Id = nlpopup is blocked on this domain.

Thats it ! You will never ever get this ad on this domain again..

Well..until they change the ad DIV or decide on more banner ads again.

Cya !

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Better Windows clock display


The Windows system has always had an alway on, clock display on the task bar. By default, it displays only the time. You can customize this so that it diplays more details. For instance, here is what my clock displays:


The top line shows time in AM/PM format. The bottom line displays the day and date in detail format. Even the date display in Explorer reflects this detail display.


Here is how you can have this display format your Windows machine:

1: Left click on your clock and choose "Change date and time settings". After that, click on "Change Date and Time" button.


2:  Click on "Change Calendar Settings", and choose these settings for Date:


Short Date: dddd, MMM dd, yyyy

Long Date: dddd, MMM dd, yyyy

3: Click OK all the way back.

Thats it ! You may have to resize the controls on your taskbar to break the clock display into two lines.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Sync Whatsapp Images & Videos to Dropbox


If you are like me, you probably get lots of forwarded Images & Videos via Dropbox, and don't have the time to view them and delete unwanted ones. I have been using a system of syncing the Media folder to my Dropbox folder, so the images & video show up on my laptop. Since I have enabled two way sync, deleting them from dropbox will delete them from Whatsapp folders too.

Here is how to set up the sync in Android.

1: Install Dropsync on your Android device. The free version of Dropsync syncs only one folder , but this is all you will need.


2: Start Dropsync, and login to authorize it to access your Android device. After that, set up the sync in settings.

3:  Sync this folder as source:


This is the parent Media folder, it will contain all images and videos in different sub-folders.

4: Create a new Dropbox folder as the target.


5:  Set up a Two way sync to control the folder from Dropbox. If you don't want to delete files from Whatsapp, select One way sync.


6: Thats it ! Start the sync process, and you will see new Sub folders getting created in Dropbox for Images ,Videos and Wallpapers.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

ShapeCollage - Remove Watermark


ShapeCollage is a small and fantastic little utility to create quick collages from multiple pictures. Perfect for sharing on social media and other sites. The free version lacks only a few features like custom shapes, which are only available in the paid version. I wanted to quickly make some collages from a  recent trip, and the free version of this little devil was just right for this.

Only one problem.

The free version generates the collages, but also plasters the text "" across the center.

Like this:



This was annoying. I wanted to get rid of this.

I found a way, by editing the exe file directly.


1: Take a backup of the shapecollage.exe file.

2: Then open up the original shapecollage.exe file in an editor, like Notepad++

3: Now search and replace the text "" with a string of 16 spaces.



4. Save the modified exe file. And run it.

Any collage generated by this modified exe will not have any watermark across it.



That's it !

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Stop spam through Spamgourmet


Spam !

Every internet user today has faced this digital demon. Digital spam mail could be the most common type of unwanted e-mail you get. Even after carefully protecting your e-mail address, you will end up getting spam mail. This is specially a problem because sometimes, you will need to provide your actual email address to a site to avail their services.

Some years back I came to know about and started using Spamgourmet, and till date, it is the best spam filtering system I have used. And I have used quite some. Spamgourmet provides a very easy way of generating free, disposable e-mail addresses. You register with your actual email address, and every e-mail sent to your generated disposable e-mail address will be re-routed to your registered address. The trick here is that you get to control exactly how many e-mails can get through. After the count runs out, no more of any mail received at that address lands in your personal email address. That's all there is. And did I mention the service is 100% free without ads ?


Today I have 140 disposable email addresses generated on the service (just checked), and the service has eaten 3,667 mails from reaching me.

The site itself has  a very simple design, and is very easy to understand. There are two basic modes you can use: The simple no-brainer mode allows you to just generate e-mail addresses.

The advanced mode has more options, you can set the default number of allowed e-mails to be routed, control the remaining counts of any of your addresses, and it even provides a way to reply back through your generated e-mail addresses, so that your mail goes back to the sender !

But the best part of the service is that you need not be on the site to generate a new e-mail address. All you need to do is to register a keyword. After that you can have any email address in the format  :    <something>

So if I am at an online book store , I just need to sign up with

To book a movie ticket, I can use

Possibilities endless !

I have used a new e-mail address to register at every new site I tumbled across on the net. 140 addresses ! over 5 years. I would get the first 5 e-mails, ( thats the number I have set), which contains my purchase information, order details, movie tickets..etc.. But after that , I would be bombarded with email adverts, and spamgourmet would happily gobble them all up, keeping my inbox clean.

Note: Some sites, like facebook and twitter, do not allow you to register with spamgourmet addresses. But this is a teeny weeny minority < 1% of the sites I have used.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Android ICS 4.0.3 cannot connect to Ad hoc Wifi


About a year ago I bought a cheap Chinese made 7 inch android tablet. It runs Android version 4.0.3, otherwise called Ice Cream Sandwich. I bought it only to use it to read e-books, in EPUB and PDF format, but soon I started craving for news feeds. I wanted to use my favourite RSS feed reader (Google Reader, RIP) on the tablet, so I can catch up to tech blogs during my numerous bus and train journeys.

Now this tab did not have a slot for a SIM card, it did have Wifi connectivity. And I had my trusted personal Toshiba Satellite laptop. So I figured, I can easily setup an ad-hoc Wifi connection from the laptop and share internet to the tablet. I soon found out, it was not that easy.

For some reason, Android does not work as expected on Ad hoc Wifi connections, ie, wifi networks setup without a Wifi router/hub. There are issues across different versions of Android, some versions can recognize and show you the Wifi connection name, but does not connect to it. Other (mostly later) versions do not even recognize Adhoc wifi. My version (ICS 4.0.3) was showing me the newly setup Adhoc Wifi name, but refused to connect to it. It was just showing..”connecting..” , “receiving ip address..” and giving up.

Now a quick google search showed me that there were more than one fix for the problem. Some involved upgrading or downgrading the android version. Others advised using a custom ROM, or swapping some system files for hacked versions, after rooting the android device. And there was always the sure shot solution of buying an actual  Wifi router. I tried some options, did not want to root my device so soon, and definitely did not want to buy a Rs 6K router for my Rs 2K/- tablet.

I started playing around with the tablet system, and tried turning some settings on and off. And found a easier way to setup the connection. 

I was setting up an Adhoc wifi using WPA2 security from my laptop. The tab was recognizing the connection but was not connecting to it.

I tried removing the security fully, and setup an unsercured Ad hoc Wifi. BAM ! The tab was able to connect !

Now I live in an apartment, and did not want to expose an unsecured Wifi in the building.

So I changed the security on the Wifi to WEP, that is lower than WPA2. The ICS tablet happily connected to the new connection after prompting me for the password.

So that’s it. If your device is not connecting to the secure Adhoc Wifi , try lowering the security on it. This has worked for me for last one year, I use it to browse the net, read RSS feeds and download apps.