All posts by Chinmoy Kanjilal

Chinmoy Kanjilal is a FOSS enthusiast and evangelist. He is passionate about Android. Security exploits turn him on and he loves to tinker with computer networks. He rants occasionally at Techarraz.com. You can connect with him on Twitter @ckandroid.

Install GIMP 2.6.9 in Lucid Lynx

GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program and is the best Open Source image-editing suite available for Linux as well as Windows. It is completely free and has features comparable to that of Photoshop.

gimp

We recently did a post to make GIMP look and feel like Photoshop. You can go check this page for more.

GIMP has just released a new version 2.6.9 which has a huge number of bug fixes as the major changes. There are no additional features in this release. The complete list of bug fixes is available at  this page. Some of the important ones fixed in this release are:

  • Import PDF files with long titles.
  • Shared memory leak fixes.
  • Font selection remaining visible
  • Layer preview stops updating.
  • Histogram display made more accurate.

If you are a regular GIMP user, install GIMP 2.6.9 using,

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

(Source)

How to View Any Blocked Website: Totally Failsafe Methods

Viewing blocked websites has always been a problem for students at school and employees at various companies. There are just so many blocking mechanisms. We have IP blacklisting, domain blacklisting and sometimes the only way to access these websites- proxies, are blocked too.

The only workaround remains as using CDN and other proxy IPs to forward connections but then, there are hardware firewalls like Cyberoam which block just about anything. What do you do then? Here are three new methods to access blocked websites.

Convert Pages to PDFs

Well,  SIMON MACKIE from Quick Tip has come up with a failsafe solution that is sure to work. He converts websites to PDFs to view them online. This keeps all the links and images on the page intact and allows us to have PDFs of pages to keep for later viewing.

Method: Go to  Web2PDFConvert.com and get the converted pages.

Open Website by IP

Most websites are blocked by their domain names so; there is a good chance that you can open them by their IP. However, this does not always take you to the desired website. It can only work as far as we are accessing some particular hosting types only.

Method: Go to the command prompt and ping the website to get its IP.

Use Google

Google can also help us access blocked websites. We can either load a website from the Google cache. Alternatively, we can access any website using Google Translate.

Method: Go to Google.com and make a search for the website. A link to the Google cache comes up with each result.

Try out these new methods to view blocked websites.

Facebook and Twitter use BitTorrent to Update Codes across Servers

Facebook uses BitTorent as an ideal solution for transferring huge amounts of files to a number of locations, in a short span of time. With that view, it uses BitTotrrent to upgrade files across its servers. This makes BitTorrent a prospective enterprise solution for file transfer and upgrades its image from being a simple file sharing utility.

bittorrent
Large websites have a huge number of servers to serve data locally, all of which synchronize centrally. We see this system prevalent in Google and Facebook. Facebook’s systems engineer Tom Cook talked at the Velocity Conference saying,

BitTorrent is fantastic for this, it’s really great. Its superduper’ fast and it allows us to alleviate a lot of scaling concerns we’ve had in the past, where it took forever to get code to the webservers before you could even boot it up and run it.

With this innovation, Facebook can send hundreds of MBs of updates to all its servers in a few minutes. Without BitTorrent, they say it would have taken hours for the process to complete.

Apparently, Facebook is not the only one using this tech. Twitter uses the same technology to roll out its updates. This endorsement has almost made BitTorrent an industry standard in transferring huge data reliably and quickly.

(Source)

Make GIMP Look Like Adobe Photoshop

GIMP does not behave like Adobe Photoshop but we can sure make it look like Photoshop! That will help Adobe Photoshop users switch between GIMP and Photoshop easily and provide for an easier user-interface.

The default GIMP layout is loathed by many given how misplaced the different windows appear. The utility panels will be unified from GIMP 2.8 but until then, we will have separate windows for each panel.

However, this YouTube video shows a cool tweak to make your GIMP appear like Photoshop. Enjoy.

Ubuntu Planning to Remove the Notification Area

Ubuntu has planned to remove the notification area because, according to it, the notification area is ineffective in notifying people about changes. The graphics on the notification area is also buggy and breaks too often. Instead, the notification area will display system status menus and messages. Ubuntu has already asked developers to use other methods of notification like custom status messages and dialog boxes.

Whether this move is for good or for bad, time will tell. Now let us see what the inspiration for this change was. It is Windows! The people at Ubuntu are happy though, seeing that Microsoft leaves no stone unturned to rechristen the area as the Notification Area but people still keep calling it the good old System Tray.

Therefore, we have a +1 in Ubuntu with the fact that it is already called the Notification Area. However, in both Windows and Linux, we see only a few applications use this area as a true Notification Area. The scenario is changing in Windows 7 where many applications are actively using this area but, in Ubuntu, it is a #fail.

The Notification Area will be no more from Ubuntu 11.04. It is an advice to the application developers to integrate their notifications and other messages into one of the menu items instead.

(Source)

New Skype SDK Brings Better Hardware Support

Skype is the best online voice and video suite and has a marked presence across various platforms, including the mobile platform. Skype has recently announced a new SDK, which will let developers integrate Skype functionalities into their applications as well as hardware.

skype-logo

This new SDK, which they are calling SkypeKit, has a full voice and video call support along with a support for IM through Skype network. Currently, only desktop applications can use this API. Skype has a separate runtime of its own that cannot be integrated with web services. The SDK also includes SILK, which is Skype’s flagship in-house audio compression tool.

Another new feature in this SDK is the availability of hardware support with which, developers can integrate Skype into hardware, like television and cellphones. Although this open SDK allows developers to use the API in their applications, the prices for using Skype’s communication networks using this API is not yet revealed. However, Skype has hinted a certification fees and a restriction on block usage of its network, which would mean a good amount of limitations.

Skype also has plans for its Skype Shop and plans to make an app store out of it. This is sensible enough as Skype is sure to build a wider presence with the features offered by this SDK.

The SDK is a closed beta for Linux only and requires invites for use. Windows and Mac versions will be available soon. Download the SDK  here.

(Source)

Canonical Joins The Open Invention Network

The OIN has just announced a new Association Program and Canonical is its first member under this program.

The  Open Invention Network (OIN) is a  company that acquires  patents and licenses them  royalty free to entities which, in turn, agree not to assert their own patents against  Linux or Linux-related applications.

Now that Canonical is an OIN member, it will help and support the group in resolving patent disputes. Canonical sheds some more light on this job saying,

By becoming an OIN Associate Member, we are supporting the broad OIN mission and its commitment to enable and protect Linux’s advancement.

Keith Bergelt,  who is also the CEO of the organization leads it and is an expert in FOSS. He is a specialist in patents and licensing. His activities have saved Linux from the bindings of harsh Microsoft anti-Linux patents over the past few years.

Both OIN and Canonical are highlighting the “Freedom of Action” they wish to achieve through this association. With this freedom, they wish to unite companies, individuals and groups who are committed to improving Linux.

Canonical is one of the most powerful associates any open source network can have and this association can turn up favorably for the Open Source community, Linux in particular.

(Source)

(Read more about the OIN here)

Multi-Domain Support Now on Google Apps

Google Apps for domains adds a new layer of productivity, features and an extra charm to its service. Google Apps already gives professional email IDs, feed URLs, docs support, QR Code support, groups and so much more to add an extra level of functionality to one’s website. Adding to that, Google announced the support for multiple domains, a few hours ago.

google-apps
Google today announced the availability of a multi-domain support for Google Apps. This would mean that we could access multiple domains from the same Google Apps account right from within our control panel. The availability of this much-anticipated feature  has made managing multiple websites spread across the same network, a lot easier.

From now onwards, we can manage groups and contact lists spread over different domains, under a single master account. This would allow moving, sharing and adding accounts in a more flexible manner. This would also allow setting up different levels of access. As an example, a certain group of contacts can have chat permissions while others can have the privileges of editing documents.

This feature gives Google Apps for Domain a professional touch and a multitude of features it has been lacking. However, the feature is currently available for Educational and Premium users free of charge.

It is good to see Google introduce this feature as Microsoft Exchange has had it from long ago. One difference here is that Microsoft Exchange has a limit on the number of domains. ReadWriteWeb gives a better understanding of the new features in this post.

Comodo Successfully Demonstrates VeriSign SSL Exploit, VeriSign Denies in Response

VeriSign, as we all know is one of the most popular signing authorities for secure pages. Its SSL security is relied upon by thousands of businesses and it is extremely popular with worldwide banking services.

The renowned Firewall manufacturer Comodo has made an announcement today saying that they have discovered an exploit in the VeriSign SSL certification and has informed VeriSign of this but apparently, their words fell on deaf ears. VeriSign has blatantly denied the presence of any such exploits and has replied to Comodo saying,

We thank you for bringing this to our attention, but the information you have accessed is public information that can be found in a multitude of ways. The pages you have accessed are merely pubic portals for our customers authenticated work to be performed.

A good reason as to why VeriSign responded in this weird manner might be because this is a part of VeriSign’s strategy. First, they make this news seem unimportant and save the panic amongst their customers. Next, they will probably roll out a fix for this quietly. Given the top notch businesses VeriSign has as its clients, this move can either put it in jeopardy or could save it from a lot of trouble.

Another reason why VeriSign is shying away from this is because Comodo is VeriSign’s competitor in the digital certificate business. Accepting the presence of this exploit will raise questions about VeriSign’s position as the unchallenged certification authority.

Comodo has successfully demonstrated the exploit to Ms. Smith from Networkworld. Read more at this exclusive report.

iOS 4 Update Messing up the iBooks App

The iOS 4 update was released just yesterday and iOS users all over the world downloaded it and are going all gaga over the multitasking capabilities it carries. However, the update has also caused some undesirable changes to data relating to many apps, data which is supposed to be stored on the iPhone storage permanently.

ios-4-update-problem

Thomas Baekdal at Baekdal made a post talking about the loss of all books on his iPhone as a result of the update. This happened to the iBook app in particular. Baekdal saw some anomalies with the app starting with it being empty in place of a test book present in the earlier cases. Next, when he tried to get those books back with a download, all the options he got led him to a “buy” option.

Baekdal made a further experiment and tried to sync on his iPad which worked perfectly. The problem seems to be with his iPhone only, even particularly with the iBook app.

That has led him to conclude that this is a problem with the iBook app and it is advised that you switch your reading habits to something more reliable and specialized, something like the Amazon Kindle.

Did any of you have any problems after updating to the iOS 4? I would be glad to hear from you.