Thursday, April 24, 2008

Twist: Analysing Trends on Twitter

Twitter is so much in news these days. People procrastinate about the frequent service breakdowns, yet they can't live without it. There is so much information twittered around the blogosphere and tonnes of third party services are cashing in, trying to make the data more meaningful and accessible.

Flaptor , which specializes in data mining and information search, has just launched a new service to observe user trends in twitter. Twist looks at mentions of the queried terms in tweets in the public timeline and graphs them over time.

Users can also on any of the terms and go directly to the recent Twitter messages containing that term.Brand owners, researchers and marketeers will love this tool but for the common web surfer, it's a pretty interesting service to play around with. Look at some of the comparisons one could do :)

So the next time, when you want to prove your point on how Mac users waste all their time twittering, you know where to look for the info :D.. Happy twittering!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Running SPIN (Promela Model Checking) on linux

Continuing on from my posts on running academic tools on linux, here I'll show you how to run SPIN on Linux. For those interested in SPIN, SPIN is an interpreter for Promela (Process Meta Language) and is used for verifying the correctness of distributed software (software design) in a rigorous and mostly automated fashion. If you have done any courses on parallel and concurrent programming or on Distributed systems, you would have definitely heard of Spin and SMV. Here are the steps..

1. Download 2 files - Latest Spin binary and Xspin from the spin website.

2. Install tk8.4 via synaptic or apt
$ sudo apt-get install tk8.4

3. Move/Copy the downloaded spin binary to "/usr/bin" folder
$ sudo cp spin514_linux /usr/bin/spin

4. Run Xspin binary
$ wish xspin430.tcl

Happy Learning!

Pimping up your launchbar with wbar

Have you ever wanted an animated scrollbar, such as gOS's iBar or the one on Mac OS X, to your Linux desktop? If you're looking for some eye candy but don't want a program that hogs your memory, then wbar is just the thing for you. It's fast, small and really cool looking. Plus, installing it is really easy...

Fire your terminal and enter the following:

1. Install the imlib package to satisfy dependency
$ sudo apt-get install libimlib2-dev

2. Change to your preferred folder and download and extract the package
$ wget
$ tar xjf wbar-1.3.3.tbz2

3. Change to the extracted folder and make
$ cd wbar-1.3.3/
$ make
$ sudo make install

4. Before the first run, configure wbar. download wbarconf. Note: Need python for running it.
$ wget
$ tar xjf wbarconf-0.5.tar.gz
$ cd wbarconf
$ ./

5. Now, let's run wbar. To check the list of parameters or run
$ wbar --help

$ wbar -above-desk -pos bottom -isize 40 -nanim 5

Though not as feature rich as other alternatives like Avant-dock, wbar is lightweight and faster. Here is Wbar running on Gnome elegantly.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

BlogIt: Publishing to all blogging networks right from facebook

With a plethora of blogging applications on facebook, Six Apart's Blog it, application promises of a quick publishing option to all major blogging and micro-blogging platforms. Currently they support almost everything from - Blogger, Typepad, Wordpress, Vox, to Pownce and twitter. It also publishes excerpts from your newly published post on to your friend feeds.

It is a really nice gesture from Six Apart to support networks outside it's usual Typepad, Vox and MovableType umbrella. But how well does it really work.. To test that out, I am publishing this post right out of Blog It. Whether it worked or not, it's for you guys to check out ;)

Btw, feel free to add me on Pownce and Twitter and check out the results here...

Just add your accounts, and you are ready to blog. A simple editor that supports html tags. Just for quick and easy blogging. Nothing fancy.

It works..Twitter, pownce and feeds all displaying the new post ;).

Orgoo: Aggregating all your e-mails and IM accounts

Long long time ago, getting a hotmail account was the coolest thing to do, then came the hip yahoomail and soon thereafter, people started flocking for gmail invites.

Take my example, I have 3 gmail accounts, one for personal use, one just for blogging, and one for official purposes. I also have an official university mail account (NUS), and a faculty email account (SoC). I do have hotmail and yahoomail accounts, but I really don't care about them anymore.Lately, gTalk has become my defacto IM client, but I still use my MSN and yahoo messengers for project meetings.

With so many accounts to manage and the ever increasing pain of checking all these accounts each day for updates, there is a need for aggregating all these services. Enter Orgoo, which promises to be the one stop destination for all your communication needs. It seamlessly fetches and aggregates emails from different web services. With a built in support for POP and IMAP, and a meebo-style multi protocal messenger, it seems to have the right mix for a killer convergent web service.

Currently, it supports Gmail, aol, .Mac, external POP, IMAP and premium versions of hotmail and yahoo but they have plans to add support for the standard accounts soon.

For IM, they currently support msn,aol, yahoo, gTalk and ICQ.

Another really cool feature is that the history of all the IM chats are stored in a folder in your email view for future reference.

So, is it perfect? I have been using Orgoo for a few months now, ever since its private beta. It often has connection problems and the service is sometimes quite slow. Having said that, saving the hassle of logging in and out of my gmail accounts, is a good enough reason for me to keep using the product.
Overall, thumbs up. I do hope the service quality improves as their user base increases. Highly recommended ;)

**update: Do try another alternative service called Fuser. It seems to have a slicker interface, but does it match with Orgoo?,..wouldn't know till I try. Expect the review soon ;)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Living a life without a Hard Disk

Life without a hard disk is tough.. but fun in many ways..

I have a knack of crashing hard disks, and I really can't help it. Every 10 months, my hard disk crashes, and then my vendor replaces it, thanks to the warranty. It has almost become a routine now.
Recently, my hard disk device controller failed, and I couldn't access my hd anymore. I had seen this coming (yeah 10 months up), and had backed up all important data. But, then I was too busy and couldn't afford the latency time for the hd replacement. So I chose to live a few days without a hard disk.

Here is what you could do, to keep working on your computer:

1. Get your hd replaced. Lucky, if it's under warranty. Bad if it ain't. Plus, the time to get it replaced.

2. Live on a Live CD. It's cool, runs everything but a tad bit slow. It's not persistent, so all settings lost, each time you run.

3. Live on a portable Linux on your USB mem stick. Super cool. Runs on all shapes and sizes. Small. portable. cheap.

4. Live on an OS installed on your external USB hard disk. Awesome. Not as fast as your IDE or SATA Hd, but hey, an entire complete OS..amazing. But a little expensive if you don't already own one.

Now, I chose an USB memory stick for 2 reasons, it's small and it's decently fast. If you visit, you would find some really cool ways to install any Linux distro onto your trusty thumbdrive. Even though I am a regular ubuntu user, I tried their own PendriveLinux2008 which is derived from MCNLive (A Mandriva flavour)

The beauty of this entire distro is persistent loop, that saves all changes back to the usb drive. Simply put, it's a writable live cd. Strangely, I really love the distro. Beryl/Compiz comes preinstalled along with all the usual tools. You could install more apps if space permits. Plug the disk on any PC and you can use the OS and all your favorite applications. I am not writing a post showing you how to do this, as the pendrivelinux site has nice comprehensive instructions.

FYI, I used Ubuntu 7.10 live cd to access the internet, download the OS and install it onto my usb flash drive. An important tip, sometimes you may need Lilo/grub incase your MBR (boot records) of your flash drive are messed up. It's very easy. Boot in with the live cd of any distro. Install the OS onto your flash drive (as mentioned on pendrivelinux). Run these in the terminal.

$ sudo apt-get install lilo
$ lilo -M /dev/sdx

where sdx is your flash drive.. run fdisk -l to discover it.

If you need any instructions, do email me to write one for you. It's really that simple ;)
Here is Pendrive Linux in it's full glory!

Orkut: Beware of Spammers and Click safely

Orkut, google's answer to Myspace and Facebook in the social networking arena, has recently got me really really frustrated. Orkut is a popular social network among Brazilians and Indians, who account for more than 80% of the site's traffic.
Coming from a company like google, one would expect high standards of security and privacy controls, but the recent exploits are sadly discouraging.

Orkut is overflowing with spam and XSS attacks. They seem like friendly scraps, which ask you to click on some links or paste some code on your browser address bar to see something cool. This runs a java script which gets access to your contacts and private data, and then rest is to left to the attackers creativity. One recent spam I received was like this

Now if you receive this from a really good friend, you would be excited to know, which girl he is referring to. So I clicked to see her profile. On her profile, she mentions of this mystery friend of hers and asks you to copy and run a code, to see his (her friend's) profile.

If you smart, you would have guessed, it's just another xss atack. If you are smarter, you would paste this on your address bar and look for the location of the javascript. This is what I found:

Open this javascript from a text editor, and you would figure out what this script really does..

For interested folks, this scraps all your friends with the exact message that you received. Sometimes it amuses me how people have so much spare time, to do such creative stuff.. and people like me have to write about them. But in retrospect, it's dangerous and I hope google does something to fix this. There can be far reaching implications like identity and credit card thefts. My suggestion to people, view the source/link of anything that you click on or you might regret that click, all your life. Play Safe and Click safe :)

Here is an interesting community that teaches and practices such exploits and bugs on orkut.. Bugs on Orkut

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Veronica Belmont Joins Revision3 ... and my hdc has crashed

Great! A post after a week. Have been really busy lately completing my honors thesis and yeah, my hd device controller has crashed..

On a more interesting note, blogoshpere is buzzing of news that Veronica is teaming up with Patrick Norton to host Tekzilla. I had almost seen this coming when Roger Chang made a sly remark to Patrick's question about the next co-host in last week's ep.

Revision3 is my favorite show online and this news makes it an even more must watch. Everyone's just glad no more pain of watching Mahalo Daily, just to catch up with Ms Belmont. She suits a tech role better.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

KDE 4.0.3 released

KDE 4.0.3 has just been released. Here are the change logs. Updating on gutsy is as easy as ever. Fire your synaptics or your update notifications ( the orangish star in your taskbar).

Though now I am pretty much settled in with 4.0.1, I hope this upgrade solves some of my common problems. Currently updating 4.0.1 to 4.0.3 after a failed attempt in updating to KDE 4.0.2.

KDE 4.0.3 works beautifully. Feels more stable and fixes a lot of bugs.If you missed out the 4.0.2 upgrade, this is highly recommended ;). Enjoy the KDE4 experience

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Installing OpenOffice 2.4 on Ubuntu Gutsy

As Ubuntu is gearing up for its next big release - Hardy Heron, it seems unlikely that the new open office package would be added on to the gutsy repositories. . But let it not deter us from trying them out. This new release packs in a lot of really cool features. In this post, let me show you the steps of installing the new OpenOffice on your existing system.

1.Remove all the previous installation instances of OOo. Go to synaptics, search and remove all openoffice.org2 packages
$ sudo synaptic

2.Now, download the Linux Deb package tarball for your language from the official OOo website
Save it to your home folder (or any other place)

3. Open your terminal. Go to the dowloaded location and extract this files.
$ tar -vxzf OOo_2.4.0_LinuxIntel_install_en-US_deb.tar.gz

4. Go to the extracted folder and install the package
$ cd OOH680_m12_native_packed-1_en-US.9286/DEBS
$ sudo dpkg -i *.deb

5. To update the Gnome Menu, go to the desktop integration subfolder
$ cd desktop-integration
$ sudo dpkg -i *.deb

6. First run requires you to read and agree to the terms and conditions. Enjoy using openoffice.
$ openoffice.org2.4