Say NO to SOPA

Please vote against Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)!

Here’s the letter that tech companies wrote to the congress:

The letter was signed by tech giants such as AOL, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, LinkedIn, Mozilla and Zynga.

What Do You Love ( – New Google service

New service provided by Google. All you have to do is type in a term or phrase of something you love/like and it shows you things related to that topic going on about it. For instance type in Barack Obama and you’d get info on what’s going on with the president and his popularity and books about him etc etc. Try it out:


My Blackberry is not working

This is just brilliant

BlueStacks: Android Emulator

The emulator works full screen on a Windows platform where you can test out/use all your own apps that you have on your phone/tablet (paid and unpaid).
You start off with installing the emulator which creates an account with the BlueStacks cloud. Then it provides a PIN. You then download and install the BlueStacks Cloud app on your phone, put in the PIN and then you can export out all your apps and it automatically appear on your emulator.

The emulator can be downloaded from here

The good features are for the developers so they can test thing out on a bigger screen with keyboard support. For me its providing a good platform to do app writeups on various applications with excellent screenshots. Here are a few of them:

Facepad (>.

The long awaited app is almost here (probably this evening). Facebook for iPad is finally here. Go get your copy on the App Store later today.

Hotmail getting hotter

Looks like Hotmail is getting a redesign. Including a bazillion filtering options and a brand new app Android app with 2-way sync for email, contacts AND calendar.


The filtering also includes an “unsubscribe” feature that lets you cancel subscriptions to newsletters you signed for during weak moments. It would also feature a scheduled cleanup feature which would delete certain types of emails after a designated number of days.

You can also create custom categories right where the emails lie. Think of them as Labels in GMail. Just select an item in your inbox and create a custom selection filter of similar items and you’re all done.

And, last but not least, you’ll now see so-called Instant Actions (e.g., “delete,” “flag”) when you hover over messages. The changes will be rolling out in the coming weeks. Keep an eye out for them.

Kindle the Fire?

I’m just loving the end of summer technology announcements. Here comes Amazon with its brand new Android tablet, the Kindle Fire.

“The Kindle Fire will have a 7-inch display and sell for $199, compared with $499 for Apple’s cheapest iPad, Amazon executives said in interviews with Bloomberg Businessweek. The device, a souped-up version of the Kindle electronic-book reader, will run on Google Inc.’s Android software, the Seattle- based company said. Amazon also introduced a touch-screen version of its e-reader, to be called Kindle Touch.”…mily-portrait/

Engadget Picture

Network Cabling the continents

Althoug I have known how the world is cabled together and that there are huge pipes on which we transfer tons of data, I didn’t know the extent of it and how long those have been in existence. So when I read this article I was totally blow away by the fact that the first cables were put down in the 1860’s and by early 1900’s most of the continents were cabled up by the British empire. Totally amazing.

cross section of a submarine communications cable.
1 – Polyethylene
2 – Mylar tape
3 – Stranded steel wires
4 – Aluminium water barrier
5 – Polycarbonate
6 – Copper or aluminium tube
7 – Petroleum jelly
8 – Optical fibers

As far as laying a submarine cable, specialized cable-laying ships must be used — and again, when a cable is broken (usually by a trawler, but sometimes a whale!), another special ship must be used. This generally means that laying a cable is logistically challenging and very expensive — and when a cable breaks, it sometimes isn’t possible to fix it immediately if a cable-fixing ship isn’t nearby (and for this reason, most submarine cables use a ring topology in case one stretch is broken).

Further reading:

  1. Secret World of Submarine Cables
  2. Wikipedia: Submarine communications cable

Ghostery – Track the trackers

This is an extension for Firefox, Chrome and other browsers which lets you see what the sites you are visiting are doing in the background. Those sites come into our computers and not only install tracking cookies but also sometimes malware and other unmentionables in our computers.

Ghostery gives you that information in real time and makes you aware of what’s going on behind the scenes. This is what they have to say:
Ghostery is your window into the invisible web – tags, web bugs, pixels and beacons that are included on web pages in order to get an idea of your online behavior.

Ghostery tracks the trackers and gives you a roll-call of the ad networks, behavioral data providers, web publishers, and other companies interested in your activity.”

Google’s new 2-step verification

Google has just started a 2-step verification process which will enable users to secure their accounts and not give anyone the ability to steal it. I went through the process and although its not for the faint of heart its not the end of the world. Hopefully this article would help you get through the process without losing any hair.

Initial creation and activation of the 2-step verification:

  • Click on the Account Setting link on the top right
  • Once in Personal Settings page click on the “Using 2-step verification” link
  • You will be asked for you password after which it will ask what 2 steps you want and then a button to start setting it up
  • First it will ask what kind of phone you use. I have an Android phone so I specified that. Then it asks for you to install a verification application for Android. They have apps for iPhone and BlackBerry as well
  • Once you have the app installed scan the QR code that comes up on the screen which has your account information. You do get the option to type in the address if you cannot scan the QR code.
  • The app on your phone will give you a 6 digit verification code that you will need to type in to your browser. This code changes every 10-15 seconds so you’d have to be quick. The purpose of this last part was to authenticate your phone. This completes the authentication of your phone (congatulations).
  • It then gives you a list of “Backup Verification Codes” to print, in case your mobile phone is inaccessible to do the authentication. You can use these codes to gain a one time access
  • Then it asks you to add another phone number for voice and/or SMS connection. I chose SMS in that option, and received a code which I typed into the browser to authenticate that option. If you choose a voice number it will call that number and give you a code which can be used to verify.
  • It then informs you that you should create application specific passwords for items like Picasa or Adwords etc. Using application passwords makes it easier to modify each connection to your Google account.

That’s it, after that it gives you a button to turn on the 2-step verification. The options you chose are listed so you can double check that it has the right info. Once you click on that button it gives you a warning that you are going to be signed out of ALL devices from the Google account, including mobile applications.

Login to your secured account:

  • Go back to your browser and sign in to Gmail.
  • Put in the username and password, hit ok and it asks for a verification code
  • Go into your phone app that you had installed and type the code it gives into your browser

Application specific passwords:
Once you are logged into the Google account it asks you to create application specific passwords. You can either do it then or defer it to a later time.

  • It then gives you options to create (very) secure passwords for each of you devices. For my Android phone, to check email though it and to use Google Voice, it gave me a 16 character, alphanumeric code that I had to punch in the phone. Don’t worry, this code has to be only entered it once so don’t get a heart attack (like I almost did).
  • You’d have to do this same routine for each of your computers that access that account. So I had to do one for Laptop-Imap, Desktop-Imap, and so on.
  • For browsers on different computers you can use the Google Verification application on your phone

Reasons for application specific passwords is so that you can give some access to various 3rd party application and then revoke just that one access rather than entering your account password there and then have to change the main password. That would mean change the password on ALL the other areas where you may have saved that password. Pretty nifty.

If you need to get back to the place where you can create more application specific passwords use this link:

Otherwise you can always go there by click on My Account in GMail and click on Account settings and “Authorizing applications & sites”.

The way things have become we use our Google account for a lot of application and connectivity needs. Hope this helps alleviate some of the fears of making your Google account secure and safe from unwanted snachers.