Saturday, December 29, 2007

Microsoft's New Security Vulnerability Research and Defense blog

This is good news from Microsoft ! M$ has a new blog for disclosing otherwise confidential technical information about their vulnerabilities.

From their website at
"We are excited to have this outlet to share more in-depth technical information about vulnerabilities serviced by MSRC security updates and ways you can protect your organization from security vulnerabilities. ... We expect to post every “patch Tuesday” with technical information about the vulnerabilities being fixed. During our vulnerability research, we discover a lot of interesting technical information. We’re going to share as much of that information as possible here because we believe that helping you understand vulnerabilities, workarounds, and mitigations will help you more effectively secure your organization."

Will have wait and watch what this yields !

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Ten Tips to increase the fuel efficiency of your car

Here are ten tips summarized from for increasing the fuel efficiency of your car. Some of them may be applicable only to U.S. conditions but i think it can be largely practiced by everyone.
  • Maintain your car regularly as per the schedule given by the automaker.
  • Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated.
  • Dont overload the vehicle.
  • Drive less aggressively. Avoid braking hard and accelerating in a rush. From the article "On the highway, the DOE says that every 5 mph you drive over 65 mph represents a 7-percent decrease in fuel economy."
  • Use the highest gear possible.
  • Use cruise control whenever possible.
  • Keep your car clean and waxed. It helps improve the aerodynamics of the car.
  • Dont idle.
  • On the freeways, keep the car windows up as it increases drag on the vehicle and increasing fuel consumption.
  • Avoid starting the engine from cold many times in a day. This means that try to combine your short trips into a long one. A cold engine requires more fuel to get going.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Savvy Graph

I guess everyone reading this post is somewhat familiar with and may have done some shopping on it. It not very unlikely, that you may have searched for a product that has a ton of reviews and different ratings. I always felt that there should be a simpler way to make sense of all those reviews and ratings. Guess what ! Someone was thinking along similar lines and they actually a very neat and nifty tool called savvygraph.

Quoting from a article about savvygraph "Web site SavvyGraph displays the average rating and number of reviews for each on a simple graph to give you a quick method for comparing items on Amazon. The idea is that the higher the rating and number of ratings a product has, the better it's likely to be. So products garnering a place on the top right of the graph (high rating, high number of reviews) are the best buys. You can hover over push-pins to see which products are which, and the color of the pins indicate whether or not free Super Saver Shipping is available for that product through Amazon."

Visit and see for yourself.

I liked the concept and feel its a useful enough tool to get a quick and dirty estimate about a particular product before pouring into reviews.

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A small and stupid one liner for seeing the instantaneous bandwidth

Disclaimer: May or may not work for you. Use a bash shell or make necessary changes to support any other. There may be many other ways of doing this efficiently.

Usage :
- Edit the variables int and dir as desired.
- dir = RX will calculate download speed
dir = TX wil calculate upload speed.
- Cutpaste the one liner as is on a bash shell.

int="eth1"; dir="RX"; oldbytes=0; while [ 1 ]; do bytes=`ifconfig $int | grep "$dir bytes" | awk '{print $2}' | awk 'BEGIN {FS=":"} {print $2}'`; bw=`expr $bytes - $oldbytes`; bw=`expr $bw \* 8`; bw=`expr $bw / 1024`; oldbytes=$bytes; sleep 1; echo "$bw Kb/s"; done

Use of the above : Left to the readers imagination.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

MIT students power supercomputers with bicycles

An excerpt from the article highlighting the achievement :

"The ten cyclists pedalled their bikes, set on stands, with the wheels driving dynamos to generate direct current power which was converted into the alternating current needed. The supercomputer modelled a nuclear fusion reaction."

Read the full article at

This is not the first time something of this sort is being done. For a good list of things that are being done refer to

Monday, December 10, 2007

Google Tech Talk: Vint Cerf (Co-Designer of the internet)

For those of who who are not aware, "Google Tech Talks" are videos of lectures delivered by eminent personalities encompassing a wide variety of topics. The following is a very good lecture by Vint Cerf, who, as some of you may know is credited as the co-founder of the internet. You may want to search for more at

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Amazon releases Kindle (Ohh la la !)

For all the gadget lovers out there... lo and behold .....

Presenting the "Kindle" ... (photo courtesy: Amazon site)

Now this is what i call a real gadget ! Amazon released this awesome product called "Kindle" which is a purported replacement for paper books. Its essentially a eBook reader on steroids :).

The product has the following features: (reprinted from with some minor edits)

  • Measurements: The Kindle weighs 10.3 ounces and is about the size of a trade paperback book.
  • Connectivity: The Kindle connects to the Web via the "Amazon Whispernet," a free high-speed cellular wireless network (Sprint EVDO). Books and other
    content are available for direct download, without the need for connecting to a PC (though a USB port does provide PC connectivity for transferring files). The Kindle's internal memory can store up to 200 books, and it's expandable via an SD slot (which can also be used to load additional media).
  • Books: Once you're online via EVDO, electronic books are available directly from Amazon for up to $10--just click on the title you want, and it's downloaded (and you're charged) in about a minute's time. Amazon is currently offering more than 90,000 titles, including 90 percent of the current New York Times bestsellers.
  • Newspapers and magazines: The Kindle can also be used to subscribe to a variety of periodicals, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Time, Le Monde, and Forbes. Newspaper subscriptions are $6 to $15 a month, and magazines are $1.25 to $3.49. Dailies are automatically delivered to the Kindle overnight, and each periodical includes a free two-week trial.
  • Blogs: The Kindle also offers more than 300 blogs, including Slashdot, The Onion, BoingBoing, and Techcrunch--but these are customized Kindle versions
    that cost at least $1 a month. Moreover, unlike your RSS feeds, you can't add your favorite blog--if it's not on Amazon's list, you can't subscribe to it.
  • Web browsing: The Kindle can also browse the Web at large (it has its own QWERTY keyboard directly below the screen), but--unlike the Kindle-ized premium content listed above--most standard Web pages are something of a disaster.
  • Notation and bookmarks: You can bookmark key passages of what you're reading, and (using the keyboard), make, edit, and export notes. The Kindle also saves your place when reading anything, so you can always pick up where you left off.
  • Price and availability: The Kindle reader is now available from for $400.

Some more interesting specs from the Amazon Web site
  • Long battery life. Leave wireless on and recharge approximately every other day. Turn wireless off and read for a week or more before recharging. Fully recharges in 2 hours.
  • Unlike WiFi, Kindle utilizes the same high-speed data network (EVDO) as advanced cell phones—so you never have to locate a hotspot.
  • No monthly wireless bills, service plans, or commitments—we take care of the wireless delivery so you can simply click, buy, and read.
  • Includes free wireless access to the planet's most exhaustive and up-to-date encyclopedia—
  • Email your Word documents and pictures (.JPG, .GIF, .BMP, .PNG) to Kindle for easy on-the-go viewing.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A case for reconfigurable work spaces !

If you feel that you are a very efficient space utilizer/designer, please reconsider after watching this video !. The following video on youtube would make a very good case for "reconfigurable work spaces". I dont know if there is such a term already but i cooked it up after seeing this video. Watch it till the end ! Its a scene shot by someone in Bangkok.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Songza debugged !

In an earlier post i had posted the link to this site called which is a music search and play site.

With some quick analysis of the packet captures i found that its nothing more than a "pretty search wrapper over youtube".

Below is an HTTP request/response session that a search generated.

The HTTP Request to with my search query string "Kandukondain" was

GET /a/query?q=Kandukondain HTTP/1.1
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv: Gecko/20071022 Ubuntu/7.10 (gutsy) Firefox/
Accept: text/xml,application/xml,application/xhtml+xml,text/html;q=0.9,text/plain;q=0.8,image/png,*/*;q=0.5
Accept-Language: en-us,en;q=0.5
Accept-Encoding: gzip,deflate
Accept-Charset: ISO-8859-1,utf-8;q=0.7,*;q=0.7
Keep-Alive: 300
Connection: keep-alive
X-Requested-With: XMLHttpRequest
Cookie: __utmb=41883168; __utma=41883168.246409471.1194922056.1195069878.1195070278.7; __utmz=41883168.1194975040.4.2.utmccn=(referral)||utmcct=/|utmcmd=referral; __utmc=41883168

The HTTP response with the contents "GZIP encoded" was:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2007 20:06:09 GMT
Server: Apache/2.0.54
X-Powered-By: PHP/5.2.2
Vary: Accept-Encoding
Content-Encoding: gzip
Content-Length: 286
Keep-Alive: timeout=2, max=50
Connection: Keep-Alive
Content-Type: text/html

.5...|..y.b.C-{.hI.s...;..{...[..FI ..jM+cX...
\......c.|y...p..J..&..\...2.Y..W...k... .E]...j...Ty.Q.....QKpj"Y....._....J...

The GZIP decoded data is as follows

{ "id": "76nOCoQ2FKQ", "title": "Yenge Yenathu Kandukondain Kandukondain", "url": "", "flv": "", "rating": "-1" },
{ "id": "TftTsber0y0", "title": "Kandukondain Kandukondain - kannamoochi", "url": "", "flv": "", "rating": "-1" },
{ "id": "Y8XYNQR4AL8", "title": "kandukondain", "url": "", "flv": "", "rating": "-1" },
{ "id": "i1bu_mdpZdc", "title": "palike gorinka-------priyuralu pilichindi", "url": "", "flv": "", "rating": "-1" }

As you can see, all the links are from youtube.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Using scribefire to publish Blogs !

I came across this cool FireFox plugin called ScribeFire for editing and publishing blogs. You dont have to log into your blogs anymore to pubish blogs. Once installed, you can activate this by just clicking the small notepad icon at the right bottom of the browser.

You can download the plugin at

Also attached is a screenshot as i was editing this post ..

A cool music site !

I came across this cool music site and was simply awestruck by it. Its a cool music search and play website.

Believe it or not, but i was able to search for English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu songs in it. Its got a rocking UI and sound quality is good :).

I am not really sure how they do it but i am still digging around trying to find out. Will post my findings.

Maybe the dhingana folks have some competition now :).

Google releases Android and a $10M bounty

Google has released its android developer kit for mobiles and also offered a $10M bounty for developers who develop cool apps for the same. Google is all set to rock the mobile space soon !.

For those of you who are not familiar with Android, its a SDK to access core mobile functionality using standard API calls. That means that you can now develop code that will work across mobiles.

Check out everything about Android at

Also check this release video by Sergey Brin

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Slogans for computer networking design...

The following are a few good slogans that i picked up from my instructors (William Cheng) lecture notes for Computer Communications Course at USC.

  1. Perfection is achieved not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  2. The simplest explanation is the best - Occam’s razor
  3. Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send - Jon Postel
  4. In allocating resources, strive to avoid a disaster rather than to achieve an optimum - Butler Lampson

Southern California Fires : The Aftermath...

The Southern California fires that started on Oct 21 2007 in Southern California affected the 7 counties of LA, Orange, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura and Santa Barbara. San Diego was probably the worst affected, with reports suggesting a lot of damage to property.

I had first hand experience of the aftermath in Orange County. Smoke and ash filled the air and the whole county was smelling of smoke. So much was the air polluted that my car was covered with ash within minutes of leaving it out in an open parking lot. The smoke smell made it very uncomfortable to breathe even inside the car. Just to give an idea of how bad the air was, i took some photographs of Orange County area while driving from LA. The pics give an idea of the amount of pollution that was in the air.

One can see rising smoke from a nearby hill that was on fire.

The black sky is not due to rain bearing clouds but instead due to carbon, ash, smoke in the atmosphere.

The sun peeks bleakly from within the smoke (@ 5:00PM)

Friday, October 26, 2007

"Hello World"

My "hello world" in blogosphere...

This blog should provide its followers the following:
  • General news and events of interest to me (ofcourse this is NOT CNN or BBC, but, my 2 cents)
  • Latest in the world of technology and gadgetry.
  • Cool news from computer security (my passion and my research).
  • Cool news about computing in general.
  • Tips and tricks that i learn or discover about *nix (if you dont get it then you wont need it :)).
  • Maybe a few experiences from some chapters in my life.