Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Firefox 3 without Tab Mix Plus

Tab Mix Plus is one of the most popular addons for Firefox. Also it is among the most popular ones that has still not been upgraded to work with FF3.

Now it is a very powerful addon providing many features - like duplicating tabs, session management, undoing closed tabs, modifying the opening behavior to open new tabs to the right of originating tab.

Since I could not upgrade it with FF3, I was disappointed at first. However, it is not a good enoug reason for not upgrading to FF3, moreover after browsing a while I got to know certain features and workarounds - which surprisingly let me have all the features of Tab Mix Plus which I loved this addon for!

So without further ado, here's how to live without Tab Mix Plus.

Undo Closed Tabs

I was surprised to learn Firefox can already do it. However, if you had selected Tab Mix Plus to manage the sessions instead of Firefox, you won't be able to do it.

To enable Firefox session management, point your browser to about:config, ignore any warnings that Firefox may give - the warning is for novice users only which you are not - but needless to say don't screw around with the settings too much.

Find browser.sessionstore.enabled, and set it to true.

That's it, now restart Firefox, and you're done. To undo closed tabs, you can either go to History -> Recently Closed Tabs, or press Ctrl+Shift+T. If you really fancy, you can also install the Undo Closed Tabs addon which will add a menu item and a button for the same task.

Additional Tip: You can set browser.sessionstore.max_tabs_undo to something like 99 to remember more history.

Duplicate Tab
Well here you go: Duplicate Tab. This addon provides exactly the same functionality.

Maintain Tab Order
Here it is: Tab Control. This will arrange the newly opened tabs beside its parent instead of far right.

These are the main features that I have been using from Tab Mix Plus. Also I'm fairly sure that if there is anything else that you've been using, you'll find a workaround for that too if you google a bit. So happy surfing with Firefox 3!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

N82/N95/N81 PuTTY - Remote Control for Symbian Smartphones

1. A wireless router (Eg. Netgear dg834g)
2. An SSH server (which comes auto installed with Ubuntu, and can be downloaded for Windows if you really want to)
3. A phone with Symbian OS which supports wifi (Eg. Nokia N82)

If you meet the above Here is an amazing little file for those who have a WLAN at home and a PuTTY server:

Hell, I now have complete remote control on my system on my system over Wifi from my N82. It can even act as a remote control for media player - just start mplayer in screen, and connect from the PuTTY terminal in the phone.

Doesn't matter if ControlFreak - which is an excellent software and must download for anyone using Windows and having a S60 v2 phone, by the way - doesn't have a S60 v3 binary yet. I have got something much better now, that too for Linux ;-D

Monday, June 16, 2008

Nokia N82: Beats all expectations!

After having taken a long time in research, I have finally bought the Nokia N82. If I hadn't got that, I would have taken the Cowon A3 (which is the media player you should buy if you want one). Main reasons not to buy the Cowon A3 is that there's no camera in it, and the support would not be easy at all since it's made in Korea, and I'm gonna get it from US.

Anyway, here follows my initial opinions about N82. It's a marvel - everything packed into a small box! I had some expectations in mind about things that it should be able to do. It does definitely meet those expectations - and does a great deal more. However when your expectations are met they always have a tendency to rise... so there are points which I would have liked Nokia to provide, or upgrade in the future firmwares.

I got a black model - you can see how it looks the Nokia site itself. Without further ado, here's my opinion on the phone.

1. Camera

Probably the strongest camera in a mobile that you get today. This mobile comes with a 5mp camera, the camera lens being provided by Carl Zeiss. Carl Zeiss is a leading German manufacturer of optical systems, which has recently partnered with Nokia to provide lenses for several of its phones. There is a lens shutter that covers the lens when not in use. When you open the lens shutter, the phone automatically starts the camera application, when you close it, the camera automatically stops.

Also the mobile comes with a xenon flash, which means that it uses the noble gas xenon for producing the flash light. Which means, that the flash is comparable to flashes in digital cameras. Any other mobile available with a flash at this time (Mid 2008) has an LED flash. The camera has auto-focus ability, so that it can shoot anything which is 10cm away to objects at infinity.

The images are tagged in the .jpeg file with current time, and optionally the location information which the phone can automatically get from GPS. The GPS lock seems faster than N95, based on some reviews I read, and also based on my observations on a brand new N95 (without 8GB) that my friend has got.

Overall, you'll be hard pressed to find any difference in quality between Nokia N82 picture and the same picture taken with a digital camera of similar resolution!

2. Sound & Media
I am not an audiophile, so when I talk about sound quality it won't be accurate to the last decibel. However, with the provided earphones I could listen to my mp3 files and the radio with excellent sound clarity. The phone has a 3.5mm jack, i.e. any normal earphones/headphones will fit into it. Needless to say I have tried my headphone at home and it does work.

The Nokia PC Suite allows you to transport files from your comp, automatically converting and compressing on request to AAC+ (for sound) or MP4 (for videos). However, I do not use the PC Suite as I found it just wants to take over my computer - hence I use the MediaCoder software which is an opensource project that organizes many conversation formats and does a better job than Nokia's PC Suite.

The screen resolution is QVGA, or 320x240, which you can think of as the only drawback. Although the picture clarity is good enough, you will have to lower the resolution of your favorite movies to watch here.

3. WLAN & Internet Features
The mobile asked for my WEP key, and that's all it required to connect to my router. The inbuilt browser is solid, supports javascript and displays full pages (eg. with every bells and whistles with ease.

It has a Webfeeds section where you can subscribe to RSS feeds like Lifehacker and ReadWriteWeb for instance. However the only problem I encountered with the Webfeeds is that for some reason it does not allow you to scroll right.

In the music section it also has full support for downloaing and listening to Podcasts, which was a little surprise awating for me! In my opinion the Podcasts application is more polished than the webfeeds itself. That lets you to subscribe to Podcasts, which are like recorded radio shows, for listening to them later. It has a directory which allows you to choose from many popular podcasts, as well as allows you to enter your own podcast URL. Both webfeeds and podcasts can be updated and downloaded when you have a connection, and viewed or listened to later.

4. GPS
The GPS software provided downloads once from the WLAN to get the map of your city automatically, and then onwards doesn't require the Internet connection (unless you want to use Assisted GPS). It can even search for places like nearest fuel station from the stored database without the connection. In the interface you can choose to display how many satellites are visible. It requires four to establish a lock, three to maintain a lock, although it can connect to five simultaneously.

Despite my apprehension, I found out that this works quite well in India. I'm using it in Bangalore now, and all the major cities are supported.

5. Storage, speed and others
The phone comes with a 2GB memory card. It supports hot-swapping (i.e. you can change the card without having to switch off the phone) and can support upto 8GB of memory.

Despite common fear about the Symbian OS, the speed is quite high for booting well as operating. Also thanks to the Symbian OS you get goodies like Adobe Acrobat reader, and MS Office readers in the phone.

Also it has a Bluetooth chip, but the infrared is notably missing (though I don't miss it myself). The cable that comes with it can connect the phone to a computers USB port as an external storage without having to install the Nokia PC Suite.

Negative Points
Following are some glitches I found in the phone:
a. When I subscribe to a web-feed, there is no way to scroll horizontally even when the HTML is formatted in such a way that there's text or pictures to your right. However, this problem doesn't exist with the web browser. Hopefully they will fix this in the next firmware release.

b. The camera makes a sound and indicates with a red beam from the flash whenever a picture is taken. You cannot turn the camera sound off unless you bought it from Europe. However, you can change the sound to a mere beep if you want to. The sound volume is not affected by the profile you select, so reducing volume or selecting silence mode will not stop it. As a workaround an application called Panoman that comes with the phone can be used to take photograph without the sound. Also here's a page that describes a risky procedure (that voids warranty) for those who absolutely need to turn it off. As for me, I am happy with it the way it is.

c. The organizer/calendar does not support, for example, events repeating on the 1st Wednesday of every month. Any event that repeats monthly has to be repeating on a particular date on the month only. Hopefully, they will improve the software to support this feature later as it is an useful feature allowed by the iCalendar standard.

I definitely got more than I expected, and I feel you'll not regret if you buy this phone as well! For more information check out the features in GSM Arena, or read the review there.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Notepad++ minus Comic Sans

'Unfortunately, I (Notepad++ author) am one of very few users who like "Comic Sans MS" font.
So just remove Comic Sans MS font from your system, it will be a easier solution for both of us.'
- Notepad++ FAQ Page

Now Comic Sans is a very good font I agree, but every font has its purpose. Having Comic Sans showing up on text files make them ridiculously difficult to read. Unfortunately, comments in any language are set to Comic Sans by default - and the reason is perhaps what I've quoted above from Notepad++ FAQ.

Well, even though the author of Notepad++ is touchy about this subject, there is no reason to remove either Comic Sans or Notepad++ from your system. Here's how you change the default.
1) Go to %APPDATA%\Notepad++ folder. (%APPDATA% usually refers to "C:\Documents and Settings\\Application Data" in Windows XP.)
2) Here you'll see a file called styles.xml. Open it with Notepad++.
3) Replace all "Comic Sans MS" (including quotes) with "".
4) To make matters worse, comments are not only Comic Sans, but also set with a different font size. Just replace all fontSize="8" to fontSize="" and you're done!
5) Save the file and restart Notepad++.

And you're done! Notepad++, an excellent tool, is now the way it should be!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Man From Earth - Score: 10/10

This movie is about a man John, who claims that he is 14,000 years old. He is among his friends who have known him for a few years when he came to the town. The friends are all teachers by profession, as is John. Initially although they take it as a joke, they are baffled as John answers any question he is posed to their satisfaction without a moment's pause.

The movie deals with science, mystery, religion.

Although it doesn't deal with aliens, space travel and such, it somehow made me vaguely remember Star Trek. Once the movie was over, I knew why. It was as well written, and nicely presented as many of the best episodes of Star Trek. And the author contributed to more than one of Star Trek stories.

I give it 10/10. A must watch for anyone.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

KTorrent vs Bittornado, Deluge, Transmission, rTorrent

Torrent client for Linux? KTorrent! KTorrent is based on the interface that the most popular client for Windows - uTorrent provides, but it is not just a clone, KTorrent cannibalizes uTorrent and improves upon it.

KTorrent is built using the KDE library, and hence it is a KDE application. Of course like thousands of other KDE apps it runs on Gnome. However, typically when people (including me) are using Gnome they prefer to use Gnome applications. Here's why I've chosen KTorrent over other linux torrent clients, all of which you can download through apt-get or synaptic.

Bittorrent/Bittornado - Too simple a client. Doesn't have most options, the Gui is very limited. Only reason to use it would be for really old computers which can't power newer GUI, but there too you're probably better off with rTorrent.
Get it in Ubuntu: sudo apt-get install bittornado-gui

rTorrent - Text based torrent client. It can run the main torrent daemon at the background, text (ncurses) interface connecting to it as and when necessary. Very powerful, but I found the text based + scripted interface too complicated. If I had no other option, I'd probably spend more time on learning to use this interface and go with it. Only one caveat: it doesn't work with NTFS drives.
Get it in Ubuntu: sudo apt-get install rtorrent

Deluge - This is one good client for Gnome. However, since it is built using Python which can be slow in slower computers, and it follows the Gnome 'keep it simple' philosophy, the developers are not ready to add more GUI features. I've myself submitted a patch which would show a torrent bar like uTorrent/KTorrent where you can see which exact part of the torrent has been downloaded as opposed to a single statusbar. I and some other developers thought it was cool but one of the project owners was reluctant to accept it - so I concluded it's not the client for me.
Get it in Ubuntu: sudo apt-get install deluge-torrent

Transmission - This is the default torrent client for Ubuntu Hardy Heron to be released on 2008 April. I seriously do not know why this was chosen, as transmission doesn't yet support DHT. For those who don't know, DHT means distributed hash table, a method which allows a torrent to go on when once started without requiring the main server. If a torrent client doesn't support DHT, it won't be able to search for peers to connect who are outside the list of servers it has, in effect reducing the speed. Irrespective of your Internet connection bandwidth, most often you'll see a dramatic increase in speed for a DHT supported client than a non DHT. So Transmission is a strict no no. First thing you do after installing Hardy is remove Transmission and install something that is more capable, like KTorrent.
Get it in Ubuntu: sudo apt-get install transmission-gtk

Azureus - Never used it myself, but the complaints I've got about it is that it's a major resource hog. Also since it's written in Java, you'll the Java VM loaded in your memory as long as it runs.
Get it in Ubuntu: sudo apt-get install azureus

KTorrent - Now this is the one torrent client for linux that has all. Doesn't matter if it is made for KDE, the package manager will install required KDE libraries automatically to let it run in Gnome. Now you have access to DHT, NAT traversal, support for loading large ban lists, a very nice and informative GUI, hoard of configuration options that you can set without needing to script, and the ability to control KTorrent from terminal. The last thing is what I needed the most, when I figured out how I can connect to my computer from a remote place - as I wanted to control the torrent client remotely. This is how you control KTorrent from terminal:
Once you have a copy of KTorrent running, you can use the "ktshell" program (installed with KTorrent) from the command line, to control it from terminal. If you're connecting through SSH, you'll have to type the following line to let ktshell know which display KTorrent is running: "DISPLAY=0; export DISPLAY". And then you're all set!
Get it in Ubuntu: sudo apt-get install ktorrent

Verdict: KTorrent. If your system is really old and can't run KTorrent, and you're not writing into NTFS disk, then go for rTorrent.

Firefox 3 Beta 4

Firefox 3, although currently it is Beta 4 (download), is good. Two things I like about it is that it uses less memory, and it actually allows you to see the result of your password before prompting to save it. Also has revamped bookmarking system and different icons - but these I don't really care about much.

The only drawback is absence of support for FF2 addons which effectively limit functionality.

Here are the 3 things I'm looking for in FF3 before I change from FF2:

1. Undo close tab
FF3 supposedly has this, but the recent tabs in History is disabled. This can be obtained in FF2 through Tab Mix Plus.

2. Open tabs to the right of current tab
True a very simple feature, but helps tremendously in organizing tabs. Again through Tab Mix Plus.

3. addon
It is the one service which I rely on and which has yet not been upgraded to support FF3.

Hope these changes are done soon. Till then, I'll keep an eye on the compatibility of addons, and I'll stick to FF2.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Bathroom - Chandrabindu

This is one of the most hilarious songs I've heard - truly a masterpiece. However I couldn't find the lyrics online, so this post. Along with it is provided an English translation; though admittedly my translation doesn't do justice to the original lyrics.

Lyrics (Bengali)
Ek English medium school - Kora disciplin'er dhoja ore
Half pant pora sir onker class nen, Miss dhoke miniskirt pore.

Tumi Banglae bolbena kotha - Tumi tiffin-e khabena paurooti
"Faster!" fifth period-e jodi Miss bole bathroom jabe guti guti.

Kochi chheleder chokh holo tera - Bandhobi der dress dekhe -
Sei frustation-e bathroom-e dewal-e hijibiji aanke aar lekhe

Ekdin sundor sokale - Erokomi naami daami school-e
Third period-e dekha gelo ek chhatro chhotto kore aangul tule

"Tumi first period-e giye chhile na? Aar third period-e pelo abaar!"
"Bose thako chepe chupe" - pant bhije chupchupe - "Ek chore kore debo sabaar!"

[Music changes to recognize the situation]
Bondhura dekhe hese hese - aar prokitio dake bhalo beshe!
Pet tar phete jae - somoe je kete jae - ebare benchi jaabe bheshe!

Tolpete hoe khub jatona! Tai mone jaage biplobi chentona!
"Aantio choto chilo. School-e jeto. Class-e jeto. Tokhon ki tar kichu petona?"

[Music back again]
Obosheshe jege othe shoshito. Didimoni aasole doshi to!
Sogorbe korilo se ghoshona - "Aami first period-e giyechilam!
Aar third period-e jaabo abaar. Jete dibi na keno didimoni tui, bathroom ta ki tor babar?"

Lyrics (Translated into English)
An English medium school - the flagship of strict discipline -
Sir in half pants takes the math class, Miss comes in miniskirts.

You won't use the regional language - you won't have "paurooti" in your tiffin

"Faster!" Miss shouts, if in the fifth period you're wasting time going to the bathroom slowly.

Eyes of boys the roll-up - having looked at the dresses their female colleagues wear
In that frustation, they aimlessly scribble and write the walls of the bathroom.

In one such reputed school in a beautiful morning,
You could see a little boy raising a little finger in the third period .

"Didn't you already go in the first period? And you want to go again in the third period!"
"Hold it and keep quiet!" - But his pant will be drenched - "One slap and you'll learn your lesson!"

[Music changes to recognize the situation]
Friends are enjoying the situation with wide grins.
And nature is also calling very lovingly.
His stomach's almost going to burst - time ticks away very slowly -
Soon enough the bench is definitely going to get wet!

Unbearable pain in the lower abdomen - puts revolutionary ideas into his brain.
"Aunty was also small once, she too went to school and attended classes - didn't she ever need to go then?"

[Music back again]
Finally rose the wronged - With the realization that aunty is a real sinner,
And proudly he stated, "Yes I went in the first period!
And I want to go again in the third! Why would you stop me, dear miss, does the bathroom belong to your father?!"

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Capturing Mouse Wheel event in C#

Not sure why, but MS chose not to display the MouseWheel event in the Event box. However, it is quite easy to hook it through the editor.

Assuming you're using Visual Studio 2005 or 2008, it's an one step process, really -

1. In the constructor of the Form / custom control, type - "MouseWheel+=", and press TAB twice. Once for completing the statement, and again to insert the handler in the class.

It's that easy! Told you, it's one step process.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Netgear: Configuring for BSNL Dataone

I had no choice so I had to take BSNL (as stated in the previous post), but when the supplied modem broke (and also since I wanted an wireless router which they never seemed to have in stock) I chose to buy a separate router instead of waiting for BSNL to fix it.

The modem that I bought, is actually an ADSL router from Netgear. Model number is DG834G v3, but as I bought it about 6 months ago, if you buy one now you'll most likely get a future version. It has a wireless port, as well as 4 Ethernet ports. Also Netgear, unlike UT Starcom (the brand of modem that BSNL provided me), has an active website with support, documentation, and firm wire updates. And needless to say, I didn't face any problem from it. It is a hell of a modem. If you don't believe me check out some of the reviews in Google.

Here are the configurations for BSNL Dataone connection. This configurations are mentioned for Netgear, although it should work with any other modem too - only the order and the naming may not exactly match.

1) Basic Settings
Does Internet connection require a login? Yes
Encapsulation: PPPoE
Login: [your username without the '' part]
Password: [your password]
Service name: [you may choose to leave it empty, or optionally put '' here]
Idle timeout in minutes: 0
Internet IP Address: Get dynamically from ISP
Domain Name Server: Use these DNS - choose any two from the following list of DNS
Alternatively, if the above is not working for some problem you can choose Open DNS which is slower, but sometimes more reliable -, However it is advisable to switch over to BSNL DNS whenever possible, as it would be much faster for a BSNL connection.
NAT (Network Access Translation): Enabled

2) ADSL Settings
Multiplexing Method: LLC-BASED
VPI: 0
VCI: 35
DSL Mode: ADSL2+

After these your Internet connection should work. To change any other configuration of the modem, and also for help on the configuration options mentioned above, you can scroll through the Help section that comes in blue on the right side of the page as you adjust the settings.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

BSNL: An ISP to avoid!

I live in India, and I happened to somehow end up in a place where there is only one choice for Internet connection - BSNL. As much as I would have preferred Airtel, since I have already experienced and loved their quality of service, I have to put up with BSNL. What is wrong with BSNL? I suppose I can summarize the service in one sentence - it's a government service. Among other things, the waiting time is 20 mins, and over 95% of time the reps will be unable to solve the problem after taking you through the routine of checking all the modem options and finally reconfiguring the modem.

Worst of all, they don't support any other modems or routers than those BSNL provides - and that's put flat on the initial contract statement itself. However, I required an wireless modem. Despite my lack of faith on the quality of the modem that they'd provide, I chose to get it from them since they will at-least 'support' that device. But they did not have one in stock. Apparently they were out of stock and remained out of stock for a full month that I bothered to inquire. Then I thought I've had enough - and went out to buy a separate router.

However, I also have got a basic BSNL's modem by then, made by a company called UT Starcom. The modem stopped identifying the Ethernet connection after 2 months of use. The company's site is as good as BSNL's, so if you have a question about it it's better to call up BSNL guys. They could not do anything - but that doesn't matter to me much, as I use the NetGear modem instead. But I'd advise you to get a BSNL modem in rent, because when they mess up something, and the net doesn't work, and even if it is obvious for a 10 year that it is their connection at fault and not the modem configuration - they will refuse to help you unless you are able to tell them what you see in the router's diagnostic pages they ask you to go to. And they won't cooperate if you ask them what information they want so that you can get it from your non-BSNL modem.

Hence it is advisable to steer clear of BSNL, if your budget and location allows it. I'd suggest Airtel as it provides similar plans on similar price range, but far superior service quality.