The Virtual Reality I want.

There’s something of a silent war going on around us at this time, and it has been going on for quite a while. I know that I wrote “Virtual Reality” in the title, but that’s merely due to the fact that it’s the generally preferred term for all of those projects out there making headsets and goggles, but otherwise this post does cover my ideas about its brothers that go by the names “Mixed Reality” and “Augmented Reality.”

So, before we go on, let’s talk about how the brothers differ. Virtual Reality is where Oculus is the major player in the market, and has met fine success. The HTC Vive is another which may not have stirred as much excitement but so far, all things positive have been said about it. The idea of virtual reality, in terms your grandma could understand, is that you put on a headset and you find yourself in a different world altogether. You look around, and all you get to see is what the headset shows you, while you are completely distracted from what’s actually around you. Rather like the Nygmatech in Batman: Forever. You put it on, and the next thing you know, you are in a forest; or perhaps in the middle of the French Revolution? … 

 

Minimalism and security.

Minimalism helps. It always does. It’s clean, cool, beautiful and relaxing. Oh and it allows for security in software. Every single element in an application, every single feature, every program in an operating system could open doors for attackers to get in through.

The recently discovered Mac malware Eleanor, which opens a backdoor, works by exploiting a vulnerability in the MacUpdate application.

iPhone jail-breaking applications, not that I have anything against them, make use of similar vulnerabilities. The original JailbreakMe exploited a vulnerability in Safari in iOS 1.1.1, while the second version used a vulnerability in the PDF reader.

I do realize that it looks like I am suggesting that Safari or PDF readers or updating apps should not exist, but what I am actually suggesting is that the more an app grows, the greater the chances for an attacker to get in. We can always, at the very least, keep stuff simple. For example, smartphones could have less pre-installed bloatware? Samsung could stop shipping their devices with apps like “Papergarden” or “Flipboard” or “Samsung Apps”  installed by default?

 

Contextmenus.js

Purely Javascript based solution allowing for easy creation of right-click context menus. Browse the code on GitHub. Demo

So, Haider posted on his Facebook timeline, a link to his then newly setup github repo which he had named “rightclick.js.” It was pretty clear what it was about so I gave his code a look. He is using JQuery, and (for some reason unclear to me,) NodeJS.

This morning, I decided to make my own in pure Javascript. I started around afternoon and got done with it a couple of hours ago. I wanted to call it contextmenu.js but there already exists a script by that name, and thus, out of respect, I renamed mine to contextmenus.js. The code happens to be a couple of files that together take up a total of 1812 Bytes of disk space. Everything  that you need to know, in order to get it to work for you, is explained in the README.md on the GitHub page.

 

From Windows 8 to 10 – The excitements and the disappointments.

tl;dr

I have been a Linux user for the past few years, but I grew up using Windows, and I have always been closely interested in it’s progress and moves.

When Windows 8 came out, I was like the only person I knew who didn’t hate the Metro. All my friends thought it was ridiculous, and truth be told, it was. It seemed as if they had forgotten that people neither have a bunch of huge touchscreens lying around in their place nor do they love the desktop experience in full touch, and Windows 8 was a weird cross between an OS optimized for touchscreen, and an OS that didn’t look like it would ever work well with touchscreens.

Accessing the desktop by clicking on a tile at the bottom left corner of the screen was oddly disturbing.. it felt like the desktop had lost it’s old integrity.. Like it was only a tile among many, like it was just another app like the ones accessed by clicking the other tiles. Furthermore, at times, it was hard to decide which world to live in: the metro, that had a really long way to go, and was far from mature, or the desktop that we’d both loved and hated for ages. For Developers, it both sucked and was an opportunity at the same time. They had a new platform to master; some would go on to proudly declare themselves to be of the first 100 developers for Windows apps. Some developers saw it as mere clutter. Another language and platform to come across and not-read articles of.

The question was: “Why?”

… 

 

Fixing the brightness issue on Ubuntu 16.04

  • The issue: Random flickering when changing the brightness using the function key, while the change wasn’t steady. The slider in system settings allowed me to change the brightness normally.
  • The machine: Dell Inspiron N5110

The first solution I tried was creating the /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-intel.conf file with the following lines:
Section "Device"
Identifier "card0"
Driver "intel"
Option "Backlight" intel_backlight"
BusID "PCI:0:2:0"
EndSection

This didn’t change anything. So I tried following “dushnabe’s” suggestion on this thread. Which too didn’t make any difference really. The problem, as I saw it was that I appeared to be using both intel_backlight and acpi_video0. Both use different ranges of values to change the brightness. Hence the flickering. It became clear that I had to force the usage of just one, and that’s exactly what the fix in that answer was supposed to do. Except that for some reason it wasn’t working.

After googling further on this, I landed on this page and I saw the list of kernel parameters that had to do with the backlight. I rebooted a couple of times, each time trying a different parameter, and finally,
acpi_backlight=native is what did the trick. I noticed that it doesn’t allow me to change brightness on login screen, but after login, there was no flickering, and when I ran ls /sys/class/backlight/, I saw that it no longer returned acpi_video0. The only issue I have right now is that there is no fixed minimum. Sometimes, it decreases to a reasonable minimum, while at other times, it results in a blackout, and I have to manually adjust it using the slider in system settings or using xbrightness..

To replicate this process, all you need to do:

  • Fire  up a terminal
  • sudo nano /etc/default/grub
  • At the very end of the string GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT, (which in my case was “quiet splash,”) add acpi_backlight=native.
    The final string, in my case, looks like “quiet splash acpi_backlight=native
  • Close and save the file, and run sudo update-grub and then reboot.

In the event that this doesn’t work, it’d be worth your time to try out the rest of the kernel parameters. You don’t have to modify the grub file every time. Instead you can choose to modify kernel parameters before boot. This you can do by pressing “c” on the grub screen and typing the desired parameter, in the correct place, right after “splash.”

 

Hands on with Ubuntu 16.04 “Xenial Xerus”

Being one of those idiots who started downloading the ISO way before the link was even officially added to the download page, I do have a couple of reasons to regret doing so. I was on a slightly messed up 14.04 that appeared to have deteriorated over time, and I had been considering a reinstall, but had been putting it off because I had decided to wait until after the release of Xenial.

So, fast forwarding to when I was done installing it. As per habit, the moment it was installed I fired up a terminal and at the same time opened Firefox.. The first thing I noticed was that the terminal had a green font on the “user@conputer:~$,” and then I ran an apt-get update, which obviously was stupid as it had just been released, and a while before or after it I also noticed that the terminal seemed to insist that I use “apt” in commands in place of “apt-get.” I don’t honestly know what inspired this change, but just another minor.

Two changes that we had been hearing about since way before the release were: … 

 

Using two routers to extend a network – Part 2

The goal: Create two separate networks, each with its own router. Both routers will have different security and SSID, while the WAN settings of A are configured to connect to the internet while B, being a subnetwork of the first, will connect to the internet through it.

Now the thing is that the LAN and WAN IP addresses can not be in the same subnet, so here’s what I did. I changed the subnet of A from 255.255.255.0 to 255.255.0.0 .. Also, I changed to IP Adress to 192.168.1.1. That’s all the config you need to do in Router A, assuming it is already configured to connect to the internet.

Now get an Ethernet cable and plug one end of it into any of the LAN ports (some reccomend the first) in A, and the other end into the WAN port of B. Login to it’s portal.. yeah it’s at 192.168.0.1. Though I don’t see why dynamic shouldn’t  work, but since it didn’t for me, let’s assume it won’t work for anyone else. Select Static IP in the startup wizard and you’d be greeted by a number of blank input-boxes.  Fill them in as follows:

IP Address: 192.168.1.2

Subnet Mask: 255.255.255.0

Gateway: 192.168.1.1

Primary DNS Server: 192.168.1.1

That ought to do the trick. You might want to do a reboot, but that’s not always necessary.

 

Using two routers to extend a network – Part 1

Umm, yeah, so let’s get to it. What was the first interpretation? oh that’s right, Router B to act as a wireless access point for A.

So, A has an internet connection and B has to be connected to it via a cable and configured in such a manner that the connected devices automatically connect to either of the two devices with the best signal as you move about, and as B is acting as an access points, all data B receives and sends would of course need to be sent to and received from A. (Pardon me if something I’ve written doesn’t seem correct, I’m merely a noob and explaining in terms your grandma could understand.)

This was actually pretty simple, so I’d just list the steps leaving out the screenshots.

  1. Get an ethernet cable and insert one end of it into any LAN port on A, and the other end into the first LAN port of B. (actually I’m not sure if it has to be the first port or not.)
  2. Login to the web interface of B and set the SSID, i.e the name of the network, and the security settings of B to be the same as those of A. e.g. if A is called “narlges” and it’s using WPA, with passphrase “flutterwacken”, then you need to apply the same settings on B.
  3. Making sure that both A and B are in the same subnet, change the LAN IP adress of B to something other than that of A. So if the IP of A is 192.168.0.1, then you can set B to 192.168.0.X. Basically X can be any number between 0 and 255 except 1 as it is being used by A.
  4. Disable DHCP on B as it won’t be assigning IP addresses and all.
  5. Other wireless and radio settings like channel and all need to be the same too
  6. Reboot both routers?

And basically that’s it.

 

Using two routers to extend a network

I have recently been faced with this challenge, partly for learning, as it’s kind of an enthusiast thing and partly because I might actually need to to that in the near future. Since the title might seem a bit vague or ambigous to some, let me first make a bit clear exactly what it is I’m after. How about we start by listing interpretations? (My goal and the whole point of all this can be seen to later.)

Router A= TL-WR841N, and this one’s configured to connect to the internet using PPTP

Router B = Tenda W268R,

  1. I have two routers, and I want B to act as a wireless access point to extend it’s range.
  2. I have two routers, and I want B to have a LAN of it’s own, with A as a gateway providing access to the internet.
  3. I want to do either of the things listed above over a wireless bridge.

Let me say this much. I am a newbie. I’m not much of a networking guy, nor do I really know how this is going to work. I’m simply Google-ing and experimenting.

In the next few posts, I will explain what I have tried and what was the outcome.

 

Flappy48 – Combining “Flappy Bird” and “2048”

Flappy bird and 2048, two of the best games if the year, in terms of their rate of going viral, though totally different in themselves, have been combined into Flappy48.
The objective is to keep joining the numbers, just like in the game 2048 and eventually reach the 2048 tile, while at the same time, avoiding the obstacles. The obstacles being vertical columns, rather like those green pipes in flappy Bird.
You start off with a two, and as you flap, you collect more numbers, usually 2s… This would go on until you reach the 2048 tile.
The game is based on the unity engine. You can play it online, or download it on your android, though the web version would require you to install the Unity Web Player.
The game seems finely developed. The theme and scheme is similar to that of 2048, with all solid-ly applied shades from yellow-red.
The idea itself is great. At least better than the other pointless clones of flappy bird like flappy doge and shit. At least it brings something new.

 

Creating a Counter-Strike Server using Port Forwarding and the dedicated-server application

First off, to create a server, you need additional files. The main executable of them being the “hlds.exe”, and if this one’s present, we must assume that the other prerequisites are present too, (including swds.dll, which is like a patch that allows non-steam clients.) If not present, just search for them, and download them.

Creating a server on a machine is no big deal. All you have to do is run the HLDS, and fill in the slots with whatever you wish, (who am I to limit the max no. of players on your server?) and I assure you that the slot for Server Name can carry anything. However, in the “UDP Port” slot, type “27015” since it’s the preferred (actually most-widely-used) port for CS. The Server’s up the moment you click But the thing is that the server’s local. It’s accessible only on your PC and on other computers on the same network, but not globally accessible over the internet. So how do we make it global?

That’s what we forward the ports for. To do so, login to your router, by typing the router’s IP address into the browser. TP-LINK users may consider this a complete step-by-step guide, though of course this applies to all, however different ones have slightly different UIs.

Anyways, once logged in, goto Forwarding and then to Virtual Servers, and click on . A form should greet you. Now in the Service port slot, type “27015”, (if there’s an “internal port” slot, leave it blank.) The rest can be left to the defaults, however in the IP Address Slot, type in your computer’s ipv4 address, and it should be static (unless you are looking forward to having to go through the whole damn procedure again and again.)
After inputting the IP, save the changes and now you are good to go.

Now others can connect to your server by typing into their CS consoles:

connect xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx:27015

(Replace ‘xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx’ with your router’s global IP address. To find out the global IP, the quickest and easiest way is to visit whatsmyip.org.)

 

Clink

I was browsing through dribbble (I dont really do that very often), when I came across this. Since the animation wasn’t really running well, I moved on to reading the description (response by the designer himself to be precise), at the bottom of which was a link to the “full-video.” I followed, but after watching only part of it, I again moved on to the description, and followed the link therin, and that’s when i fully understood what it all was about.

Clink is actually an app, that allows you to have drinks together, while not being together at all. Here’s an example, it’s your birthday, and you want to treat your friends to a drink. You’d open the app and send a clink to some bar (bars have to create clink accounts), that acts as a token, carrying details of whatever drink you are offering your friend, and of course you have to pay right-then too, using PayPal.

Though I myself might never use it, I do really appreciate the developers for their effort. The idea or concept behind the project isn’t bad either, and especially, nowadays when the birthday-guy has to treat the wishers (or they’d force him into doing so; no escape), this might come in handy..

 

10 “Must-have” Android apps for general consumers

Title says it all, and here they are:

  1. Lightning LauncherFirst things first. Not many android users, especially those dealing with the older versions of HTC sense are content with the default UI. Common replacements are the GO Launcher, and Apex. But the thing with these two is that they can take up a nice amount of memory, especially GO launcher. On phones with high-specs, this may go un-noticed, but even on Dual-cores, the GO Launcher can cause a visible lag. To avoid this, for users that want naught but productivity, Lightning Launcher is a great option. It’s damn light, (at times it may take not more than just 2MB!) It’s extremely simple yet very customizeable, and once you get the hang of it, you can adjust it exactly to suit your requirements, but on the minus side, setting up, and getting used to it can be taxing and time consuming. In my opinion, lightning launcher is to android what lxde is to ubuntu. For those who prefer a more user-friendly, and slightly-less-bland, yet damn-light UI, they can go for Smart Launcher.
  2. Smart LauncherIn terms of weight, this ones my second favorite, and currently my primary launcher application. Smart Launcher is, in terms of design, a bit different. The home screen is more like a lock-screen sort of design, the top half of which can be dedicated to a widget (it features a clock by default), and the lower part can hold a virtually unlimited amount of icons dedicated to applications and shortcuts. Swiping from the edge, or pressing the menu button, or touching the menu icon, all would take you to the  App Drawer, where the apps are all sorted into categories (and you are free to move them from one categ. to another.)  That’s pretty much it. It’s pretty much customizeable too. You can alter the home-screen icons to a number of presets, and you can also apply themes and icon-packs.
  3. Aptoide: Aptoide is a store-of-stores. Especially on Devices that don’t support the Play-Store, Aptiode comes real handy. It’s like a portal where people can create their own stores and upload applications, but that was the developer side. For general consumers, aptoide works great for searching for and installing applications not available on the playstore, or those that aren’t really free. Just try once, and you’d know. It has to be manually downloaded and installed. Available for Download at aptoide.com
  4. Astro and ES File ExplorerRivals, and since i never explored the former much, I cannot say which one’s better but in terms of personal preference, ES is. ES is user-friendly and simply packed with features. And has a clean user-friendly interface. You can use it to access files over FTP, Bluetooth, LAN, and of course you can add your SKydrive, U1, and other cloud accounts. Has an inbuilt App Manager, Download Manager and other usuals. However, the one thing it doesnt have and Astro does is a cool, proper Task Manager. It is however available as an independent app called the ES Task Manager, but I never liked it much. Astro also offers integration for your Facebook account, but it’s the interface of Astro which I just couldn’t get myself to like. Nevertheless I keep both.
  5. Kingsoft OfficeDocuments to Go, and Office Suite Pro aren’t exactly free, and buying such stuff for mobile devices might not exactly be a very cost effective solution for users who don’t really need to use these apps much, and to be honest, i never ever used the full version of either. Kingsoft office offers a Writer, a presentation tool, and a spreadsheet, and that is pretty much all one might need on a mobile device. Not really low on formatting features either, so for a general user, Kingsoft Office won’t be a bad choice. It’s pretty user friendly too.
  6. Inkpad NotepadA simpler alternative to Evernote. Inkpad notepad is a plain notepad, which kinda resembles the iOS notes app in terms of design. All your notes are synced to inkpadnotepad.com. Free version only allows upto four syncs per day, and this could be irritating for some users, and especially when it keeps on notifying you with every sync. Still for a general user, not a bad choice, since Evernote can take some time getting used to.
  7. Myscript CalculatorIs a fun, and useful application which allows you to write mathematical expressions as you would on paper, and solves them. Does support all the functions your default calculator app does, and only provides an easier way to interact and avoid confusion.
  8. Clean Master and All-In-One-ToolboxBoth are great Optimizers. Clean Master offers an easy to use interface, while the latter might offer an extra tool or two. Both have a one-touch-memory-boost button, and both offer widgets for the home-screen. A bonus feature of Clean-master’s is that it adds a button to your default launchers homescreen after the first boost. Both offer junk, history and AppData cleaners, and App Managers. All-in-one-toolbox however offers a number of features that clean-master doesnt, like an inbuilt file-manager, Cache Cleaner, Apk managers, startup apps e.t.c.
  9. PicsArtThe best photo-editor available for Android. Has everything one might need, but the feature that I really like is the Draw mode, which sort of is a mini version of PS running in your mobile complete with support for Layers.
  10. Offline English Dictionary by LivioThe best Dictionary app available for Android. The definitions are from Wiktionary, but this one works offline.
 

Google to be the “real-life version” of SkyNet?

Google, that started as a search engine that gained global popularity, and parallel to searching, the only thing it offered was a home page light-enough for you to test your internet connection, but that doesn’t at all mean that it wasn’t awesome enough them. A whole lot of people owe their success to it, as it helped numerous youngsters with their homework and school projects, and thus if they are successful now, Google might have contributed a whole lot into their success. According to it’s wiki article, Google started in 1998, but it has now come a long way from being just a search engine.

Then came other products. Gmail, in 2007 or 8, (and something by the name of Google Wave followed too , but it wasnt very successful,)  which soon became a rival to Hotmail and YMail. Well, OK, Hotmail isn’t the primary thing of Microsoft’s. MS was the first software company, it brought computers to the world to be consumed by normal people and we respect that. Who cares if Bing never got as popular as Google, MS isnt all about search engines either.  As for Yahoo, Okay, Google beat their search engine, but loyal ymail lovers still like it, and well their messenger is still respected more than Google’s talk.

Ah yes, Google Talk eh? Well, this one, a messenger would fall in the same category as Windows Live messenger and Yahoo’s messenger, however, once again, Not very successful. Earlier this year, It was renamed to Hangouts, and perhaps a few newer features were introduced, like using phone numbers to find friends e.t.c. The kind of thing Viber and WhatsApp are famous for, but still, consumers like me prefer sticking to the older, and original ones, i.e. the two mentioned above.

Then there’s the Google Drive. Cloud storage, and rival to Microsoft’s Skydrive. I like and respect both, and both have their pros and cons and in my opinion, both are equal on the whole, plus again, MS isn’t famous for being a provider of cloud storage. Google Docs, an online office productivity suite, the MS counterpart for which is the Office online. Both are great.

Then there’s Google+, a Social network by google, that perhaps isnt very popular as Facebook and twitter, yet the 3rd in terms of preferrence. This can be proved by the fact that most websites, for contact, or upvotes/reccommendation provide three buttons. One from Twitter, one from Facebook, and another from Google+. But still, not exactly on the top eh? Another is Picasa, which is a photosharing cloud-storage, and perhaps might be considered a rival to Yahoo’s Flickr. However, from what I know,Flickr is more popular.

Youtube, the primary place on the web to look for Videos too is owned by Google, though perhaps not started by them, but it’s improving a whole lot, and one cant say that Google didnt contribute to it.

AngularJS, a Javascript Library and framework, Google’s, and rivals a number of others that fall in the similar category and is certainly gaining popularity and quite some fan base in  the world of developers. The Google App engine provides free hosting for web apps, rather like Heroku. And that’s not all, The Google Apps are a set of productivity tools, for businesses and individuals, that help with setting up and managing websites. Then the Google Developer tools are good and the Google Analytics Tools help a lot with SEO, and keeping track of site traffic. Oh and Blogger is a great place for normal(s) to start a blog.

Google Maps, rival to iPhone’s maps, and the primary GPS service of most users nowadays, and it’s streetview is known to have captured some seriously interesting stuff. Google Earth is a similar product but it provides an interactive, fun interface where you can explore the earth. Similar products are Google Mars, Google Moon, and Google Sky.

But that’s not all, these products dont even contribute to perhaps half of Google’s fame. There’s more. In 2008, Google launched Android. A Linux based, free and open-source Operating system for Mobile devices, and the first ever android device to apppear in the market was the HTC Dream. Android gained popularity real quick, and especially with the release of the Galaxy Y and other Galaxy devices, it soon got ‘fan-ned’ by a large percentage of the world, and became a rival to iOS. Android devices are manufactured by the leading company of the present, Samsung, Sony, and HTC, and of course, Google’s own Nexus devices, one of which is launched every year. Could Android kick iOS out of the market? maybe if they play well, as they are in a position to.

The same year, they’d lauched Google Chrome. The top web-browser of the present, that soon became another alternative to internet explorer alongside Mozilla’s Firefox. Well, Internet Explorer’s had it’s day, still respected.

As Chrome got popular and computing moved closer to the cloud, Google seized the chance and launched Chrome OS. Another Linux Based OS, damn lightweight, and this time for slightly more desktop devices. The idea behind Chrome OS was something like this. Every day, millions of users boot into their computers, and once it’s fully loaded, the double-click the icon of their web-browser and start off with whatever they want to do, but dont really do much outside the browser, so they are more or less logging into their OS just to be able to use the browser, so what if your browser was your OS?
Chrome OS’s source code is publicly available, however, it isnt available for download and comes preinstalled in Chromebooks, that are laptops officially built for the OS.

A few days back, Google announced the release of a Chrome Apps launcher for MacOSX. The Chrome Apps were originally a feature offered by the browser. More like extensions perhaps, but slightly more ‘applications’. They are also well integrated into the Chrome OS of course and are the main software for Chrome-OS. The thing about them is that they are totally on the web, they dont have to be installed. All you need is a launcher, which could be either the launcher itself, or the ChromeOS (which has a similar launcher of course) or the chrome web browser.
But they released the launchers for MacOSX and Windows? And I also read that apps are being made for Android and iOS too, however i couldnt find an Android app on the playStore… not yet.

So, as these launchers are out, a number of people might try these, and some, with high speed connections and normal use, might get too comfortable with their apps, that they are gonna try out when they try the launcher, and when they do, the apps would get popular and some users’ use might not extend beyond using these apps, and this is how some might consider switching to Chrome OS itself.. + chromebooks are real cheap and thus attract buyers.

Android is becoming like the primary OS for smartphones, and soon their might come a time, when, like I posted before, they might merge the two projects.
Merging would result in a whole lot of improvements in ChromeOS, and then people might actually start using it, if it has the integration that i look forward to seeing, and using.

Just look how Google is expanding. Started as a search engine and now its the leading company of the web, and with the passage of time, It’s trying on every field or bit there is to IT. Then that Google glass. They can actually monitor, and see exactly what you are doing using that thing. People use gmail as their primary email, Drive to store data, buy domains and hosting from google, walk with a pair of spec on their noses that too was developed by google and records what they see.

It’s like WE the CONSUMERS are being CONSUMED by technology, when it should be the other way round. If anything close to Skynet exists or ever will.. It’s Google.