Technology

Posted by Kiran

Though I work with an IT major, my time at work is mostly spent on Microsoft Outlook and Excel and rarely do I get to get my hands dirty with actual code. Hence, as a hobby, I spend time building some applications in my spare time and that helps me keep in touch with coding.

I recently embarked upon a project to build a Drupal module of sizeable proportions. As I worked on it, I soon found that ideas were flowing and bugs were being discovered faster than I could keep track of them. I realized that if I was to do any serious — even if informal — development, a Project Management/Bug Management software was essential.

Having heard quite a bit about Bugzilla, I set out to install an instance for my own personal use. As it turns out getting Bugzilla working is not for the faint of heart.

The initial steps to setup Bugzilla are the same as those documented in the Bugzilla Documentation. However, here are some aspects of the installation that finally got Bugzilla working on my Shared hosting account:

Posted by Kiran
I was recently developing a Drupal module that required having multiple tables on the same page. No issues right? Wrong! As soon as I put multiple tables with pagers on the same page, I found that the pagers on the tables just stopped working.

Flummoxed, I started searching for a solution and finally stumbled upon Rahul Singla's blog explaining how to implement table pagers using ajax. However, Rahul's script did not handle graceful degradation, which was important for me. Hence, using Rahul's approach & script as a starting-point template and reading up a bit more about the PagerDefault and TableSort query extenders in Drupal, this is what I came up with:

Posted by Kiran

There are many advantages of not using Google as your primary search engine. Escaping incessant tracking across the Internet is just one such benefit. With the recent brouhaha about NSA tracking almost all of us via the PRISM program, it may be a good idea to do with less tracking around the Internet. A search engine we should all consider using instead of Google, is DuckDuckGo.

The USP of DuckDuckGo is that they don't store identifiable information about you along with the searches that you perform. Hence, even if the US Government wanted them to share data, they wouldn't have it! Yes, there is a compromise: they cannot provide you with the kind of personalized search results that Google can. However, for most generic searches, they'll do just fine.

I have personally been using DuckDuckGo for over an year now and the search results are just as great, if not better, than those that are returned by Google.

Most of us don't explicitly visit Search sites — search engines, these days, are usually integrated right into our browsers in the form of the search bar or the "Awesome Bar".

Here are a few easy steps that you can use to setup DuckDuckGo as your default search engine across all your browsers.

Posted by Kiran

Google Glass is in the news these days with everyone either raving about how cool it is or about how idiotic it makes the wearer look. There is even a new term to describe anyone wearing a Google Glass: they are called "Glassholes"!

Is this going to be the view from Google Glass?
Image source: Twitter stream of @57UN
Update (02-Oct-2013): The link to the tweet, from which I originally got this image, just results in a "Page not found" error on the Twitter website. It appears that @57UN's twitter account has either been deleted or has been compromised. However, I was able to obtain a version of the above image off of Google cache and have now put it up on this page directly.

Jokes aside however, Google Glass provides serious indications for the future of augmented reality as well as Google's ambitions in that future. While Google Glass is still nascent technology with only a few niche early adopters using it today, the day can't be far where this technology is as all-pervasive as the Android phone is today.

I did not really pay much attention to Google Glass until I saw a tweet in my Twitter timeline recently with this picture. This picture, though a joke, does make me wonder whether the future will indeed be something similar.

Posted by Kiran

We live a large part of our lives online these days. The services that we use carry sensitive and personal, data on their servers - data, which, if lost or compromised, can cause us a whole lot of worry.

We use passwords to protect that data. Many users have had their data compromised due to weak passwords and then have a hard time getting their lives back on track. I have seen many of my friends & family suffering such data compromises and the resulting embarrassment and even financial loss.

Experts reiterate a three-point security rule to ensure that loss due to a single compromised password is minimized:

  1. Have a unique password for every website - i.e. use a different password for every online account
  2. Make your passwords a combination of random alphabets, digits and special characters
  3. Don't write down or share your passwords with anyone

Those rules are all good and truly help us stay safe. However, users still choose weak passwords, reuse passwords across sites or keep a written record of their passwords in some diary or piece of paper somewhere. Why?

The reason obviously is that those rules are to too damn hard to live by. I was personally guilty of reusing passwords across sites; that was before I started using Password Safe.

Posted by Kiran

Until recently I have been periodically taking manual backups of the content on my website. However given that life has been extremely busy in recent times, I have often missed my backup schedule. That I had to login onto my CPanel to take the backups, then manually download them - all time consuming activities - did not help. I kept deferring my backups reasoning to myself that I hadn't made any recent updates in any case.

One day however, I found that some comments that had been left on my blogs were missing. I tried to investigate but couldn't figure out what had happened. I then encountered some missing files - again without explanation. Then my website just rolled over and died! Every time I got unsatisfactory explanations from my webhost: a planned server migraton had been cancelled; they had performed some security updates at the server level; etc. All the time they assured me that my content should be intact - well, I felt different.

That was when I decided that an Automated Backup solution was a necessity. I needed something that had minimal necessity of manual intervention.

Posted by Kiran

I have been asked many times by many people: "What is root and what is the advantage of having it on my phone?". I could reply by the standard answer that we so often come across on Android forums, that if you don't know what root is you probably don't need it. However, I personally find that response a bit offending — how is anyone supposed to learn new things if everyone who knows is unwilling to clearly explain?

Though I don't claim to be an expert, but my experiences in the past year with Android has taught me enough to understand what the pros and cons are with rooting an Android device.

Here, I explain the few points that you may want to consider before you decide to root your Android phone.

Posted by Kiran

This post is more a user's rant than an expert opinion. I have used Android for just about an year now and have wondered why certain things were the way they were. Having moved to Android from Windows Mobile 6.0, the first thing that struck me as odd was the lack of flexibility for the users to install their applications into the SD Card. That meant that the users were confined to whatever Internal Storage was available on their phones and more often than not that was very limited.

As soon as I bought my first Android phone, I started fishing around for a solution to this problem and found it in Apps2SD+ (now called Legacy Apps2SD+ or, at times, Apps2EXT). However Apps2SD+ needed root access and was tricky to set up. It took every bit of my technical acumen to understand and execute the steps it entailed. It was also risky and could have easily bricked my phone!

Hence when Google released Froyo with in-built support for Apps2SD I had high expectations. The Froyo Apps2SD turned out to be a disappointment though. I believe that Google got the design of their Apps2SD solution wrong, and although I can think of a few reasons why they might have chosen the design that they did, I cannot help but think that they could have done a better job.

Posted by Kiran

Ever since I moved to Android from Windows Mobile, I have been complaining about the Android Platform's seeming limitation in handling Calendar reminders. The fact that the Android Calendar gave me only one 5-minute snooze option always troubled me and I have written about this annoyance in the past too.

I promptly bought Calendar Snooze, an application available in the Android Market which allows users to choose the duration of time for which the reminder must be snoozed, and even recommended it in one of my blog posts.

When I noticed that Google had neglected to include the feature in their much hyped Android 2.2 (Froyo) as well, I couldn't understand why Google chose to ignore such basic functionality.

However, in all my eagerness to lambast Google at their oversight, I seem to have neglected one design feature of the Google Calendar, which renders the snooze option redundant.

Posted by Kiran

Android is a powerful Mobile OS and it is growing. However, as I had earlier mentioned you'll need to install applications from the Android Market to tailor its behavior to your liking.

Here are some of the applications that I use frequently. These are the ones that have helped me tailor my Android experience just the way I like it.

The applications listed below are those that you can make use of without any tweaks to your phone. You do not need to be Root on your phone to run these.