A post after a while

“ You call it tough schedules or mark it as over-commitment to achieve some short term targets or consider as hurdles in changing to another flat in same area or smile on my obsession of Farmville, but yes, my blog really got a ‘long break’ considering momentum gained in last few weeks. So, today I thought to join back.”

Lots of things happened in this while, either it be personal,  professional front or like last night conversation with a new friend. Thought to spare some moments to spit out few paragraphs here.


Zabbix: Linux Based Monitoring Solution: At professional front, currently, I was working onzabbix1 designing of a basic Real Time Monitoring Solution targeting a raw and diverse infrastructure as a small step in the process of making a brand new and robust infrastructure of the next coming new year. The theme is to design a solution that I could access most of the basic aspects like CPU Utilization, Network Utilization, Disk Space for all the servers from a central point and then extending the limits slowly towards more complex features. After comparing for a while, I chosen zabbix over nagios due to its simplistic nature and convenience to pass through the knowledge structure to newbie team members of mine.

As about Linux Servers, it worked well, but many of important functions of this don’t seem to be supported with that of Windows Servers. Currently I am trying to obtain live graphs of Network Utilizations in most common terms with it, but facing the difficulty that most of the variables are not supported with the windows agent of zabbix. As of now, using Performance Monitor’s variables for workaround. Wiill come up shortly with detailed article, once finish the task, which has to be spread around a dozen domains in two offices.


Mdaemon: Email Gateway Solution: This is the other product, I was looking for exploring nowPageBanner_SecurityGateway days. The requirement was to find a low cost mail filtering solution, while we were running with third party mail provider. It was something like “I want Email id abc@example.com could send mails only to def@world.com and could receive mails only from xyz@star.com and all other things go restricted”. Having it as a purchased version would have been really nice experience, but currently running over 30 days trial versions. There is a free version as well, but will check that tomorrow, if could serve the purpose. I also tried zibra and other open source solution, but not getting the exact pitch I required. Any suggests will be a welcome.


Addiction of Farmville: Now about the other side of life, finally the last week dragged me infarmville addiction of Farmville and forced me to take visits of my Facebook account, which was literally idle since last many months. There was a kind of crazy early crowd of the same game in my office, in fact, once you start with the game in initial phase, you get tempted to talk about the same… obviously to add more and more neighbours in your farm. Funny part was to see some people being awake in nights for being ahead and so punctual about timing (even I am not exception). No wonder, farmville been the biggest reason too rise of Facebook in recent past.


Shifting to a new room: Your living place really matters a lot in life. After all that is the place, where you take a piece of rest. Even if for me like only their Computer Screen is the whole world, but still a nice room matters. Changed to the new room. Comfortable for me like lazy persons. 🙂

Although the shifting was not a tasty piece of cake, gone through some really weird hurdles around, but now more or less, things are fine. Lost one of my suit in this shifting though 😦


Interesting conversation with a new friend: It was an interesting late night conversation with Rajat, who was added in my gtalk and I was ashamed that why I am not able to remember that who is he. All of sudden, Rajat said that could he call me?

I was busy in dinner etc. and when later got engaged in call, then got to know many more things about him other than name like he is calling from UK, working for TCS, working over a telecom project of upgradation of 2G infrastructure to 3G and at last senior to me by 5 years 😉

He invited me to take a look over his group blog http://getsetgrow.org It was sure a good one and in fact I liked a few of articles like the one over BPO, Information Overload very much. On his invite, I was sure honored to be part of the group, if he wishes so.


My last experiences of joining to other blogs as co-author: My last experiences of being co-author for other blogs not been very pleasant. Although don’t remember them all, but one was some fontezer4, whose exact web address, I am unable to mention. I joined the same on their invitation to write for, but  after a few posts, I went busy for a while say for one or two months and for my greatest surprise, when I tried to login back then my account was deleted and my post were credited in name of one of those four authors. I was in real shock and decided not to join any other blog later on.

Although the decision was changed after I got requested by one blog over Indian Idol 4. As the owner was providing me Video Links of each episode in time and my job was to write articles episode by episode. It was an interesting experience as we got as high that were ranked as number 1 blog about Indian Idol on its official website and remained there for more than a week. Later on, the owner of blog suddenly gone missing. No reply over mails, no uploads of videos. I kept on write though, but later lost interest and moved back to my blog only.

Recent chance was interaction with Devilsworkshop group. Their condition was “exclusiveness”, which was obvious as they were offering full adsense value back to original author and even a price once in a month of around $150. I decided to keep identity of my blog more prior and gave up the idea.


It goes really harder to write for others as you don’t get enough time even for your own blog due to commitment toward professional and personal life. It asks for a level of awareness, one could comfortably afford only after being settled enough in his/her professional lives. I know some do very good job in balancing all these things for me job is a little tougher.

So, for now, only this much. Will be back

 

How Orkut could regain strength in front of Facebook

“ Some find it hard to believe, some find it obvious now; some says that it will regain the place back, some says its just international trend arrived at India now; some wants to see Orkut rising again and some finding ways to shift their profile/ photos etc from Orkut to Facebook. But its true Orkut is loosing the turf in India against the Facebook: Social Network Giant for rest part of the world since long. ”

socialnetworkingsitesinindiatraffic

worldmap1

The news is not new and been floating around here on web since March 2009 that Facebook is getting a steady rise in India while growth of Orkut getting slower. I thought to write over it, n102452128776_1831when something attracted me to Facebook recently. It was addictive Farmwille application, which got kind-of-craze among my colleagues in recent days and when the craze finally got me, then I was surprised to see many of known faces on Facebook. I was also impressed with this particular application in the way its single handedly keeping users engaged in each hour and also luring more to join.


I had profiles on both of the social networks:

Orkut and Facebook, but Orkut always remained prime for me. In fact, I was logging into Facebook once in a while in month only, while Orkut was part of daily habits from Home, from Office, from Mobile. I kept on hearing about national/ international celebrity profiles on Facebook and getting search results showing Facebook profiles, but still it was not able to lure me as I didn’t thought that its offering me anything more than I getting from Orkut, specially after recent makeover of Orkut.

But after checking out techcrunch article, I thought to gather some info about the same topic and in the same way, I came across few interesting articles like 12 Best Reasons Why People Leave Orkut And Migrate To Facebook & 10 Ways Orkut Can Compete with Facebook and felt that I could come up with a few answers and suggestions of my own:


  1. Privacy: There is a lot of buzz about this and many people choosing Facebook over Orkut, because of this only. Initially, as per generic philosophy privacyof Google, it was to be open for all means one has to be shown as he is with all others. Scrapbook, photos, Friend Network and Profile info, everything was open to all. So, it was an open world, where you could contact and know about others in the way, they want to tell the world they are.

    In Facebook, by default only your friends can see your profile. The others can only see your name and thumbnail (reduced version of the profile picture). Nothing more. In addition, you can always configure the options for privacy as deemed appropriate.

    But many times it happens that you wanted to be open for some people and for some, you want to remain closed shell. Like celebrities or popular people, if everyone is allowed to write to them, then they wont be able to use these social networks coz of spam. So, later on, Orkut added some restrictions like only your friends could write in your scraps or could see your photos/ videos (in case of photos, restrictions could be categorized per person basis). Although somewhere I find these step more of caused by market demands than the original philosophy. More or less, people called it a welcome step, but still Orkut kept it more open than Facebook.

    As a step to answer demands, I think Orkut really needs to provide some more detailed Privacy configuration options. Like scrap book could be managed to open for people/ groups only we want, others could only read their scraps only or not even could write. Same for new feeds, photos, profiles and other features.

    Specially, where Orkut needs to look out is restriction over profile view. Even if I liked the larger profile pics, some might not and moreover, they might not be wishing to roll out their information for all. Although as being a technocrat, I understand the difficulties lying under such a big change as it will require to change the root way, Orkut stores information for users, which will not be a simple task.

  2. Publicity: We really find Orkut keeping itself low profile in comparison to Facebook, which although been a philosophy of Googlepublicity about all of its products. Google always  placed its products on top without too much going into media on the basis of its own unmatched set of features only. While this strategy worked for most of the services, might be reason of failure in case of Orkut. Facebook really has a strong media presence and in other part of world, we really could find many people, who might not even heard of Orkut.

    It’s really high time, Google should think about Media presence of Orkut even if Google doesn’t want it to be a Business Website. Although I also know the implications that it’ll also lead to brining more ads to Orkut in the way Facebook has coz no point in investing in media management, if you are not making high business use of the same. But still I am looking for Orkut to be heard in most part of the world.

  3. Applications: This is really becoming the bottleneck of the equations between Orkut and Facebook. Even if Facebook already been an orkut-appsestablished brand, now in India, its getting an high very much due to its diverse applications. Orkut also has few applications, but those are really few and none are kind of engaging in the way Facebook has some like Farmville and Mafia Wars.

    As I said this is bottleneck, so Orkut should really do something about it, not today, but now.

  4. Restricted Networking: In case of Facebook, if you wished to join Community of your Company Network,restricted then what you need a genuine corporate email id, otherwise, it wont  allow you to join, while in case of Orkut, its maximum level is moderator’s approval, whose task goes tough, if company is spread around world and moderator has no efficient and effective way to evaluate in real time.

    For some it might be, but as per my view, Orkut should not bother about such a feature. Orkut was not an Official Place sort for Corporate and communities were created by users only not from Corporate itself. It was not business world, but was an open and simpler world and I wish it remain open in the same way, coz this was the reason, Orkut was liked and grown even when MySpace and FaceBook were already giants in other parts of world.

  5. Design: Some find Orkut’s design as a benchmark, while some says same for Facebook. When I joined Orkut, then it was due to its decent and simple blue theme and even this was the tagline then. Although as per demands, it changed its way. I really dont know yet, if Facebook has something like scrapbook, where actual conversations flow and sometimes, you could get an idea about people by their scrapbooks, while Facebook kept it around newsfeeds, which might be many at a time as per size of your friend list.

    Though Facebook had an advantage earlier to keep most of the things limited to one page only, but new look of Orkut made it compete in that way as well.
    facebook new look New-Orkut-SnapShot

    I really find nothing to change from the root about Orkut design right now. It should grow with its own learning curve as being done in past. 

  6. Photo Tagging: Although that was an area, where Facebook started, but Orkut got it more better with face recognition. In facebook, you find the face manually, photo-taggingwhile in Orkut  it does the same automatically and recent makeover of Photo updates make it scoring higher over Facebook.

    What I am really looking for as an addition to Orkut Photos system, is its integration with Picasa & Picasa web. I means you could sync your Orkut album with the one you own at your home and upload photos from Picasa to Orkut. I know Orkut could do this due to integration of its services and really looking for, when this change will happen.

  7. Status Updates/ News Feed/ Link Share: This was really an area, where I was looking for an improvement from Orkut orkut-status-updatesside, which Orkut recently heard, by providing Share on Orkut feature. I guess, now we could find Orkut Share buttons spreading among blogs like Facebook/ Twitters share buttons. Although still I am disappointed with its being JavaScript based as WordPress.com doesn’t support that or might be I am not able to find some work around.

    But still I find status updates/ news Feeds an area of improvement for Orkut as now. Status updates a.k.a. News Feeds are more configurable, innovative and richer in Facebook right now than Orkut. A must feature, I will be looking for the next improvement in Orkut.

  8. At the end, I really dont wanna see “Bad Bad Server, No Donuts for you” again.

Not finished Yet …. I really want readers to add up more and more suggestions for betterment of Orkut. Please do write.

How to make your Gmail account easy to recover if hacked

The very first step to take is the same as I discussed in last article.

Keep variations in your username/password over various sites: its of prime importance as how could you think that any random forum or newbie site could be as secure as your Yahoo/ Gmail/ Hotmail? If you use the same username/password combination in some smaller sites/ forum and that one got hacked, then a hacker could try to login with the same in other popular services as well and that could lead in getting your account hacked in a way, where no mistake was from Gmail/ Yahoo/ Hotmail side.


The other steps are for recovery of your email if hacked from Gmail as Amit suggested:

Use your old days pen & paper and note down the following somewhere:

  1. The month and year when your created your Gmail / Google Account.
  2. If you created a Gmail account by invitation, write the email address of the person who first sent you that invite for Gmail.
  3. The email addresses of your most frequently emailed contacts (the top 5).
  4. The names of any custom labels that you may have created in your Gmail account.
  5. The day/month/year when you started using various other Google services (like AdSense, Orkut, Blogger, etc.) that are associated with the Google account that you are trying to recover. If you’re not certain about some of the dates, provide your closest estimate.
  6. Run a Test! Log-out of all your Gmail / Google Accounts. Start the password recovery process. This guarantees that what you set up actually works. You want to be absolutely certain your SMS settings and secondary email addresses are configured correctly. (this is when you have associated your mobile in your Gmail account, do it for sure).
  7. Check your IP Address: From time to time check out the IP address in the footer of your Gmail Inbox. If you see an odd one, change your Google password immediately. Knowing IP addresses may seem too technical to some but it’s good information to know.

Thanks to Amit for listing out these tips.


At the end …

“ I don’t expect from everyone to be smart enough to remember these all minor but common details, but its about knowing your account more better than anyone else. Its like recognizing your bag, when recovered from police etc. You need to tell them that what’s inside it, which only you are expected to know. So, know your account better and keep it noted down in your diary or somewhere secured. ”

photo of Nitish KumarNitish Kumar

Hacking of Twitter leaves questions over Cloud again

Not much days passed when database of RockYou was compromised and the hacker also revealed in sample that what  database structure was and how passwords were stored in plain text, which were including not only RockYou, but of yahoo, MySpace, Friendster etc as well. The revelation was a shock to many people and a big setback for cloud computing in a way as it shown that how things could go wrong in incompetent hands.

rockyouTwitter-logo


And last night, the world was encountered with greatest shock, when biggest micro-messaging giant Twitter, which stands as like some top 20 of largest web apps of now days, went down due to a hack attack by 22:00, Dec 17, 2009. Below are the related screenshots.

1. How twitter.com was showing the below message from some Iranian Cyber Army

Twitterhacked 

2. Even Google started showing the messages on searching for twitter

google-twitter

3. Find the related video


Although later on after around one and half hour, it was restored back with the official message from Twitter’s side.

“ As we tweeted a bit ago, Twitter’s DNS records were temporarily compromised tonight but have now been fixed. As some noticed, Twitter.com was redirected for a while but API and platform applications were working. We will update with more information and details once we’ve investigated more fully. ”


The chapter ended, but shaken a lot of faiths. First let us here discuss the layman terms and consequences of these incidences.

Compromised DNS records: Basically when you type some address in your browser, then various DNS Servers around the world redirect you to associated IP Address as actual machine communication happens on this IP address level only and readable address are just for human convenience. Later these requests reach to the site itself, which is if big enough, then maintain its own DNS server to keep other many servers behind it on same IP with required redundancy.

Now what happen, if somehow temper DNS recordings and this DNS starts redirecting you to some other IP rather than the official one i.e. to other server, which could be holding anything like this message this time. You will get the same site address in address bar, but now its going to some other server and some other application, which just happened with Twitter.

“ Think, what worse could have happened? If the hacking side might have tried their luck a little harder through phishing means presenting you exactly the same webpage like Twitter’s login page. Million of users were just giving their usernames and passwords so easily without knowing that this time, they were giving the same information away in wrong hands for nothing. ”


There are more lessons to learn from this RockYou and Twitter incidence. RockYou password revelation wasn’t a danger to RockYou itself, but it was containing passwords of many other accounts and so if one reaches there, then could take hold of all those millions of accounts and information within. Moreover, as the common practice is, people keep on using the same username and password at all the websites they know, which means if one try logging into gmail with same username/password combination retrieved from hacked RockYou, its not a hard luck that he will succeed to login.

So, the lessons here are:

  • Keep real good passwords.
  • Don’t trust completely over websites security as of now.
  • Avoid keeping your important info like bank account no. stored in your email ids.
  • Try to have different passwords for different sites at least, if can’t manage with different usernames.
  • As easiest way to hack some account usually involves the alternate email account you given, better give out your mobile no as it provides you SMS in many cases (if site doing so like Google) and in a way more securer than alternate email id case.

    and

  • Still we have to go a long way to have cloud computing working properly for us in light of such incidences.

Google Transliteration

“ Dec 17, 2009, Google launched it new and improved version of Transliteration, which will remain available via labs and on http://www.google.com/transliterate. In this new version, you can select from one of seventeen supported languages: Arabic,Bengali, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Persian, Punjabi,Russian, Sanskrit, Serbian, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. You can also compose richly formatted text and look up word definitions with our dictionary integration. If the default transliteration is not the word you wanted, you can highlight it to see a list of alternatives. For even finer-grained control, Google has provided a unicode character picker to allow character-by-character composition. ”


Google Transliteration was first introduced to me by one of my colleague Prashant Shukla few weeks back, while working over a regional requirement, then it was Google Labs feature in beta phase. For late joiners of this new technology, let me start with Introduction of Google Transliteration.

transliteration_logoIn daily life, everyone of us might have encountered with issues of regional typing as widely spread keyboards are roman script based only. Google and many other providers decided to tackle the same problem by making it very easy to type phonetically using Roman characters. Using Google Transliteration you can convert Roman characters to their phonetic equivalent in your language. Note that this is not the same as translation — it’s the sound of the words that are converted from one alphabet to the other. For example, typing "hamesha" transliterates into Hindi as: Hindi transliteration example, typing "salaam" transliterates into Persian as: Farsi transliteration exampleand typing "spasibo" transliterates into Russian as . Since the initial launch with Hindi only, Google have been hard at work on improving quality, adding more languages and new features.


“ You already seen this feature as part of your orkut or gmail experiences, if have noticed it. The same feature is just becoming full fledge and standalone now with a new effective and efficient interface. Google Transliteration is integrated into several Google properties and Google also have an API and bookmarklets to extend this capability to other websites. A solution initially built to solve a problem in India is now being used in many other parts of the world as well. “

Google has also launched an amazing offline tool based on the same technology but without using internet at all, named Google Input Method: IME. I have used it and it works in really really cool way. Check out the following snapshot

transliterate

You just need to type phonetically and it will keep on translating it in Indian Language, you might have selected, just in way, you were using the same service online. Do you really think that regional typing will ever be burden again? 🙂

New Orkut for everyone without invite

“ Dec 17, 2009, from today Orkut has opened its new interface for everyone. Till now, it was available by invitation only basis, later they increased the number of invitations per users and now removing the need of invitations at all. ”

So, now no need for waiting for invitations, just click the button “Try New Orkut” on top of your profile and enjoy the new faster face of Orkut.

“Just wondering when the same going to be started for Google Voice and Google Wave :P”

photo of Nitish KumarNitish Kumar

Google Wave – need invites?

Look like I am again late about Google Wave. May be the reason is there are lesser known people inside and not many online on wave to talk to for the same reason. People like me might not be logging into their Google wave account just because they feel that they might get disappointed again by not getting more names in their friend list. After logging into it today, I found the situation been changed a little. Google wave has been opened up more.

wave_thumb

“ Since Dec 07, 2009, Google has not only given one more million Google Wave account to people requesting for them, but also has increased the number of invitations, one could send out for others. Although the exact count is not specified, but I think it must be 17 more invites added in your box, where it was 8 initially. ”


wave

Anyone, who is yet out of luck with Google Wave Account could get it from me by making a nice critic comment here on this post. Obviously, not everyone will get invites, but I have 24 invites in my bag to give out. May be your words get lucky.