All posts by Pallab De

Pallab De is a blogger from India who has a soft spot for anything techie. He loves trying out new software and spends most of his day breaking and fixing his PC. Pallab loves participating in the social web; he has been active in technology forums since he was a teenager and is an active user of both twitter (@indyan) and facebook .

Honda Teams Up With Rhapsody to Offer Free MP3 Downloads [Music Deals]

Free-MP3-Download Honda has teamed up with Rhapsody – RealNetwork’s online music service, to offer free full MP3 downloads. This giveaway is a part of Honda’s “Everybody knows somebody who loves a Honda” campaign. In order to take advantage of this offer, head over to the ShareTheLove webpage. You can either preview the songs and download them individually, or download all of them together. No registration or personal details are required. The only catch is that you will have to watch a short Honda commercial before being allowed to download. The artists available are:

  • The Raveonettes
  • The Helio Sequence
  • Foals
  • Foreign Born
  • Islands
  • Headlights
  • Pacha Massive
  • Wolf Parade
  • Band of Horses
  • The Dodos
  • Volcano Choir

Twitter Is Down (Again): Defaced By the Iranian Cyber Army

Twitter’s security and stability woes continue. As of now Twitter.com is down, although the API seems to be working. At the very least, Twitter was defaced earlier today by a group claiming to be the Iranian Cyber Army.

Twitter-Hacked-Iranian-Cyber-Army

The text in the above screenshot reads:

Iranian Cyber Army

THIS SITE HAS BEEN HACKED BY IRANIAN CYBER ARMY

[email protected]

U.S.A. Think They Controlling And Managing Internet By Their Access, But THey Don’t, We Control And Manage Internet By Our Power, So Do Not Try To Stimulation Iranian Peoples To….

NOW WHICH COUNTRY IN EMBARGO LIST? IRAN? USA?
WE PUSH THEM IN EMBARGO LIST
Take Care.

The extent to which Twitter has been compromised isn’t yet clear. Both twitter.com as well as status.twitter.com have been down for more than an hour. This indicates that the attack may be a lot more serious than just defacing.

[Screenshots via TechCrunch]

Update 1: Twitter.com is back online. No word yet on what went wrong.

Twitter-Trending-Iranian-Cyber-Army
Iranian Cyber Army is now trending

Update 2: It appears that the DNS records were compromised, as a result of which users were re-directed to a different page. Twitter is still investigating the attack.

Update 3: TechCrunch is claiming that Iranian Cyber Army is not just a moniker. It is an actual government organisation and the attack is part of Iran’s strategy to go on the offensive against US and other opponents of it’s nuclear strategy.

INQ Reveals the Most Influential Twitter User in the World – You May Be Surprised

INQ Mobile has published a list of most influential Twitter users to mark the launch of its ‘Chat 3G’ phone. So, who is the most influential Twitter user in the world? No, it’s not Oprah Winfrey or Ashton Kutcher or even President Obama. It’s Pete Cashmore – founder of popular internet news blog Mashable.

The list was developed by identifying five most popular tweeps across different categories and by assigning them an influence rating out of 100. The influence was measured by taking into account factors like number of tweets, number of retweets, number of times retweeted and number of mentions.

Pete Cashmore may not be a household name like P Diddy or Britney Spears, but thanks to the popularity of Mashable, he is the most influential twitterati. In fact posts on Mashable are often the most retweeted links on Twitter. The full list is provided below.

Most Influential Twitter Users (International)
Most-Influential-Twitter-Users

For further information check out INQ’s press release.

Download The First Episode of Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space for Free [Gaming Deals]

Sam-&-Max-Season2-Free-DownloadIf you love adventure games, you have probably heard about the Sam and Max series by TellTale games. Based on the Sam & Max – the Freelance Police comic strip, these games were instrumental in infusing new life into a dying genre.

Sam and Max games are graphic adventure video games which utilize an episodic format (similar to television shows). Each season tells has an over-arching plotline which is revealed over several self-contained episodes. The first season (Sam & Max Save the World) garnered universal praise for intelligent puzzles, whacky and humorous storyline and satire. It ended up winning multiple Editors Choice and Game of the Year awards.

The second season (Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space) takes Sam & Max to an all new level with more mini-games, improved environment and wittier storylines. Adventure Gamers called Sam & Max the best comic adventure games in the modern era”. If you haven’t yet joined in on the fun, this is your opportunity.

TellTale games is giving away the first episode of Season 2, i.e. Ice Station Santa. Just head over to Telltale.com and create a new account (if you don’t have one). You would instantly receive the download link and unlock code for the full game in your inbox. The full season is now available for $19.95 ($10 discount) and both the seasons is available for $39.95 ($20 discount).

Microsoft Indic Language Input Tool Makes Typing in Indian Languages Simple

Microsoft-Indic-Language-Input-Tool

Microsoft has quietly released a new product called Indic Language Input Tool, which is aimed at Indian users. Indic Language Input Tool enables input of text in Indian languages on any webpage and application. The initial release supports Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telegu and is available as a desktop software as well as an online utility. The Indic Language Tool utilizes free-form transliteration, which means there is no learning curve. Users can type the desired text in a natural manner (phonetically) utilizing English script and the utility will automatically transliterate it.

Microsoft-Indic-Language-Input-Tool-Bookmarklet

The web version works through a bookmarklet and works with all popular browsers including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Safari. It’s refreshing to see a Microsoft product which is cross-browser compliant, since Microsoft products are notorious for not playing well with alternate browsers. Once you have installed the bookmarklet, simply click on it whenever you wish to activate the Indic Language tool. Any text you type is automatically transliterated on a word by word basis. Languages can be easily toggled through a floating icon, which is added to the currently active text box.

Microsoft-Indic-Language-Input-Tool-Desktop

The desktop software utilizes the language bar and works with any offline utility (as long as it features a text box). If you don’t see the language bar even after installing the tool, you will need to enable it manually from Control Panel–>Clock, Language and Region–>Change keyboards or other input methods.

Techie Buzz Verdict

Microsoft-Indic-Language-Tool-Techie-Buzz-Reccomended Microsoft Indic Language Tool is a joy to use. Its biggest strength is that it works pretty much everywhere and anywhere. The interface is minimalistic and never gets in your way. On most occasions, Indic Language Tool is bang on with its transliteration. And, in case it gets things wrong, you can easily enter the correct text from the on-screen keyboard. The developers – Emerging Markets Labs team of the Microsoft India Development Centre, have done a fabulous job. Indic Language Tool is still in beta, hence there may be some issues. I had some trouble while installing the Desktop version (for Bengali). There are also few minor oversights like missing punctuations. But, if you are willing to look past these issues (which are to be expected from any beta product), you will definitely be impressed with Indic Language Tool.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

[ Download Microsoft Indic Language Tool ]

via BeingManan

EU Drops Anti-trust Complaint Against Microsoft: Microsoft Agrees To Bundle Up To 12 Alternative Browsers With Windows

You may be already aware that, Opera had filed an antitrust complaint with the European Union, against Microsoft. Opera had alleged that, Microsoft was breaking the open web by refusing to follow web standards. Internet Explorer’s non-standard rendering coupled with the use of proprietary technologies made a significant number of websites unusable on browsers other than Internet Explorer. According to Opera, this amounted to misuse of power by a monopoly. Opera had two demands. First, they wanted Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer and/or bundle alternate browsers. Second, they wanted the EU to force Microsoft to adhere to standards.

This wasn’t the first anti-trust complaint filed against Microsoft. In fact Microsoft has already paid €1.68 billion in fines to the EU. Having been forced to swallow the bitter pill in the past, Microsoft was more than willing to bend on this occasion. After two years of deliberations, EU has finally decided to drop the case and let Microsoft go with just a warning. However, Microsoft has promised to include up to 12 alternate browsers with Windows. The user will be provided the option of picking any browser from a ballot screen.

Microsoft-Browser-Ballot-Screen

Microsoft will have to implement these measures in all copies of Windows (XP/Vista/7) sold in Europe by March 2010. Failing to do so may lead to being fined up to 10% of global annual turnovers. The current agreement is valid for five years, but EU will be able to review it at the end of 2011.

This is a big victory for Opera (and other supporters of the complaint including Mozilla, Google, Nokia, Sun and Adobe). This is what Opera’s CEO, Jon S. von Tetzchner had to say:

I know that some of you have mixed views on our efforts to instill change within Microsoft. I want you to be aware that I have listened to all of the feedback, both positive and negative, and I have taken it very seriously. But our choice to pursue this matter was the result of our firm belief that the long-term future of the Web is in better hands as the result of this case. We have long believed that compliance with open standards is absolutely necessary for progress. Now, with the decision of the European Commission, Microsoft has been asked to open a door and help us realize the full potential of the Web. Let’s get started!

[Image Courtesy: nDevil]

YouTube Reveals Most Popular Videos of 2009: Susan Boyle Tops the Charts

Earlier today, YouTube published a list of most watched and most sought after videos of 2009. Susan Boyle’s inspiring rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” on Britain’s Got Talent was the clear winner with more than 120 million views. This is hardly a surprise, since that video was instrumental in transforming Susan Boyle into an overnight celebrity. In fact Susan Boyle was also one of the top trending topics for 2009 on Twitter.

Susan Boyles - I Dreamed A Dream

“David After Dentist” and “JK Wedding Video” were two amateur videos which went viral this year. The later (JK Wedding Video) was obviously helped by the fact that, the US sitcom “The Office” used it as an inspiration for the wedding scene of two popular characters (in the episode Niagara).

Teen sensation Miley Cyrus ruled the roost when it came to music videos and was the only artist to appear twice in the most watched music videos list. However, Pitbull’s “I Know You Want Me” managed to edge out Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb” and became the most watched music video of the year.

YouTube also shared monthly stats on the fastest rising search terms. The shortlist is an effective indicator of the events that captured public imagination during this year. Michael Jackson’s death, Obama’s Inauguration, Tiger Woods’ infidelity, Susan Boyle’s sudden rise to fame and Kanye West’s inanity were some of the events which piqued people’s interest.

Most Watched YouTube videos:
1. Susan Boyle – Britain’s Got Talent (120+ million views
2. David After Dentist (37+ million views)
3. JK Wedding Entrance Dance (33+ million views)
4. New Moon Movie Trailer (31+ million views)
5. Evian Roller Babies (27+ million views)

Most Watched music videos on YouTube:
1. Pitbull “I Know You Want Me” (82+ million views)
2. Miley Cyrus “The Climb” (64+ million views)
3. Miley Cyrus “Party in the U.S.A.” (54+ million views)
4. The Lonely Island “I’m On a Boat” (48+ million views)
5. Keri Hilson “Knock You Down” (35+ million views)

Fastest Rising YouTube Search Queries:
January: inauguration
February: christian bale
March: the climb
April: susan boyle
May: pacquiao vs hatton
June: michael jackson thriller
July: michael jackson
August: usain bolt
September: kanye west
October: paranormal activity
November: bad romance
December: tiger woods

The full list can be viewed at the official YouTube blog.

[via Mashable]

How To Disable Windows 7 Taskbar Tab Preview in Firefox 3.6

If you have used Firefox the Firefox 3.6 beta, you have probably noticed that Mozilla has introduced support for Windows 7 taskbar thumbnails. Firefox 3.6 allows you to directly select a tab from the taskbar. This is similar to how Internet Explorer 8 behaves in Windows 7. Some people love this behaviour while others find it annoying. I happen to belong to the latter group. I am a heavy multi-tasker and often have dozens of open tabs organised into multiple windows. Taskbar tab previews doesn’t make any distinction between tabs from different windows and is a major productivity bump.

If you find taskbar tab previews irritating, here is a quick way to get rid of them.

  • Type about:config in the awesome bar (address bar). Ignore the caution message and proceed.
  • Type browser.taskbar.previews.enable in the filter bar.
  • Disable-Taskbar-Tab-Preview-Thumbnail-in-Firefox-3.6

  • Now, you will be displayed a single entry whose current value is True. Double click on the entry to change its value to False.

That’s it. Firefox should instantly stop displaying tab previews in the taskbar.

via Tweaking With Vishal

Diagnose and Fix Common Monitor Problems with ScreenFix.net

ScreenFix.net is a handy web-resource which helps computer users get the most out of their monitors. It not only allows you to diagnose common problems but also suggests optimal settings and provides quick fixes.

ScreenFix consists of four checkers (diagnostic tools) and two fixers (repair tools). They are as follows:

  • TN Monitor Check: Many of the present day monitors utilize TN (Twisted Nematic) panels as they are inexpensive. However, TN panels have a significant disadvantage. Their color reproduction isn’t consistent and depends on the viewing angle. TN Monitor Check is a quick test to determine whether your monitor uses TN Technology.
  • Gamma Checker: Gamma settings affect an object’s perceived brightness and contrast. Correctly configuring your monitor’s gamma settings is essential if you are playing a game with dark environments. Gamma Checker assists you in calibrating your monitor’s Gamma level.
  • Phasing Checker: Incorrect clock/phase settings can lead to blurry and shimmering images. Phasing Checker helps you in figuring out whether your phase settings are incorrect.
  • Brightness Checker: The importance of having correct brightness settings cannot be over emphasized. It affects color reproduction and hence the quality of the displayed image. Brightness Checker helps you in calibrating your monitor’s brightness settings.
  • Flicker Fixer: Just as the name suggests, the Flicker Fixer attempts to solve flickering problems.
  • Dead Pixel Fixer: Dead Pixels are something nobody wants. Yet, they are one of the most common and annoying problems with LCD Monitors. There is no guaranteed way to fix dead pixels, but ScreenFix claims that their solution works in more than 50% of the cases.

ScreenFix - Fix Common Monitor Problems

Techie Buzz Verdict

ScreenFix-Techie-Buzz-RecommendedScreenFix is an extremely nifty website. It brings together a set of particularly useful tools and presents them in a simple yet efficient manner. Although it can’t compete with professional display calibration utilities, it is exceedingly useful in its own way.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Download Photos From Flickr Using Flickr AutoDownloadr

There are gazillions of Flickr apps out there. We have covered several of them in the past. Today we will take a look at another promising Flickr application – Flickr AutoDownloadr.

Flickr AutoDownloadr is a simple Windows utility developed using the Flickr API and AutoIt. It is a really powerful Flickr downloader which allows you to download pretty much any collection of photos. You can download any user’s favourite photos, photos from his sets, photos from his groups and even photos uploaded by his contacts. If you wish you can also download photographs uploaded by the entire Flickr community. AutoDownloadr provides a number of filters including tags, title, description and date. Other features include slideshow support and a special Tag Walk mode, which allows you to take a random journey through Flickr.

Flickr-AutoDownloadr

Techie Buzz Verdict

There are dozens of utilities for downloading Flickr photos. However, Flickr AutoDownloadr successfully manages to distinguish itself from the crowd thanks to its flexibility. The best thing about AutoDownloadr is that it allows you to get into any ones shoes and enjoy their photo stream. The software has some performance issues and the UI tends to become unresponsive while downloading photos. In spite of these issues, if you enjoy surfing Flickr, you are probably going to love Flickr AutoDownloadr.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

[ Download Flickr AutoDownloadr ]

Yahoo Messenger 10 Released

After a fairly prolonged beta period, Yahoo released the final version of Yahoo Messenger 10 earlier today. The final build includes several bug fixes and Windows 7 compatibility. You can find our review of Yahoo Messenger 10 here. The main highlights of this release are:

Yahoo-Messenger-10

  • High-quality video calls
    The webcam feature has been completely redesigned. It now supports high quality video call with synced audio from the IM window itself.
  • New Y! Updatesview of your contact list
    Yahoo Messenger 10 introduces an alternate view of your contact list, which allows you to quickly catch up with your friend’s latest activities. The Y!Updates mode displays a real-time stream of their updates including status message changes. If your contacts have chosen to share their social activity with Yahoo, you will be able to keep track of what your contacts are saying on Twitter, reading on Yahoo! Buzz or listening on Last.fm.
  • Find more to chat about
    If you want to chat with your friend about their updates, you can do so through a hover menu which allows you to IM a friend about their updates. When you do this, the update also appears inline in the conversation window, so that your friend will be aware of the context.
  • Change your language easily
    Yahoo Messenger 10 introduces a Language menu (visible in the sign-in screen), which allows you to instantly chose any of the 16 available languages. You can also change your language from Messenger –> Preferences –> Language.

The official Yahoo Messenger 10 download link will offer you the web-installer. If you have a poor internet connection or simply prefer to download the full installer, you can do so from Softpedia.

Did Microsoft Just Patent Sudo?

Microsoft-Patents-Sudo Anyone who has used Linux – even briefly, is probably familiar with sudo. Sudo is a commonly used UNIX command, which allows users to run programs with superuser’s privileges. It was conceived by Bob Coggeshall and Cliff Spencer around 1980 and has been an integral part of most Linux systems for decades. So why am I yapping about sudo all of a sudden? Because, Microsoft may just have patended sudo.

This is what Microsoft has been granted patent for:

Rights elevator
Systems and/or methods are described that enable a user to elevate his or her rights. In one embodiment, these systems and/or methods present a user interface identifying an account having a right to permit a task in response to the task being prohibited based on a user’s current account not having that right.

The above excerpt fairly accurately describes sudo. However, the detailed description of the patent application goes on to describe several features, which go above and beyond sudo’s capabilities. For example, the following description doesn’t at all apply to sudo. In fact, it appropriately describes Windows’ Run asfeature.

There is one account having two tags; one tag is associated with limited rights and one tag is associated with higher rights. By default the account may be tagged with the limited-rights tag when logging in. This tag may be altered by the rights elevator on entry of the user’s password in the graphical user interface…

I am not lawyer and I have little knowledge about the internal workings of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). One of the many problems with software patents is their inherent ambiguity. Patent #7,617,530 may or may not cover sudo perhaps a lawyer would be able to work that out. However, if it does indeed apply to sudo, then someone at USPTO forgot to do their research. It could also mean trouble for UNIX based OSs. Microsoft could demand royalty for including sudo (or other user rights elevator) or even sue UNIX OS developers for patent infringement.

This is a debate that would probably rage on for some time. Perhaps, further discussion will bring some much needed clarity to the situation. However, one thing is certain this controversy will only worsen Microsoft’s already poor reputation.

via Groklaw

Generate In-Depth Power Efficiency Diagnostics Report in Windows 7

Windows 7 contains dozens of hidden diagnostic utilities. In the past, we have shown you how to quickly access some of those utilities. Today, we will take a look at another hidden gem in Windows 7.

Powercfg.exe is a command line utility which allows users to control power settings. It has been present in Windows for a long time. However, in Windows 7 Powercfg.exe includes some additional features. One of them, is the ability to create neatly formatted Energy efficiency reports.

In order to generate this report, start the command prompt with Administrator privileges. The quickest way to do so, is to type cmd in the Start Menu and press Ctrl+Shift+Enter.

The command Prompt window should point to the \Windows\System32 directory. In order to build the Energy Efficiency report, you need to simply type the following command and press enter.

powercfg -energy -output C:\Power_Mg_Report.html

Here C:\Power_Mg_Report.html is the location, where the report will be saved. Feel free to use any other location.

Windows-7-Energy-Efficiency-Tool

Windows will inspect your system’s behaviour for about a minute and then generate the report. The report will indicate all potentially problematic settings and recommend steps to improve your system’s battery backup time.

How To Reduce Aero Peek’s Delay Time

One of the many new features in Windows 7 is Aero Peek. Just hover the mouse pointer over the extreme right edge of your taskbar and Windows will reveal the desktop. To be honest, I don’t really like Aero Peek in fact I find it pretty much pointless. But, a lot of people seem to love it. If you indeed find Aero Peek beneficial, here is a small tip to make it more convenient.

In order to avoid accidental triggering, Aero Peek doesn’t get activated immediately. Instead you need to wait for about half a second. This delay is mostly unnecessary and can be annoying. Fortunately for us, it is quite easy to make Aero Peek trigger instantly.

  1. Type regedit in the Start Menu or the Run (Win + R) box. This will launch the Windows Registry Editor.
  2. Now browse to the following location:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced

  3. Create a new DWORD (32-bit) value DesktopLivePreviewHoverTime from the Edit Menu.
  4. Aero-Peek-Create-DWORD

  5. Double click on this entry to edit its value. Set the base to Decimal and enter 0 as the value. You can actually enter any delay value you wish. Just remember that the unit of time used here is millisecond (1000ms=1s).
  6. Aero-Peek-Create-No-Delay

  7. That’s it. All you need to do now is logoff or restart to see the changes.

If you don’t want to go through all this trouble, you can also download this registry script. Simply double click on the script (.reg file) to apply the tweak.

Aero-Peek-Disable

Of course, if you don’t like Aero Peek and find it pointless, you should disable it entirely. Right click on an empty spot in the taskbar and select Properties. Uncheck the box next to Use Aero Peek to preview the desktop to disable Aero Peek.

based on Vishal Gupta’s Tweak

Microsoft Caught Violating the GPL: Once Again!

Last month, we had featured Windows USB/DVD Tool (WUDT), which allowed users to create bootable setup media for Windows 7. In their hurry to release WUDT, Microsoft may have blatantly ripped off code licensed under GPL.

While tinkering with the UDF-related internals of WUDT, Rafael Rivera a Windows Guru, discovered that the source code was obviously lifted from the CodePlex-hosted (yikes) GPLv2-licensed ImageMaster project. The piece of code in question is actually a derivative of LGPL 7zip, which was reused by ImageMaster in accordance with the license.

Microsoft appears to have violated the GNU General Public License v2 on two counts. Firstly, they modified and distributed ImageMaster code without making the source code of the derivative product available. Secondly, they also imposed their own license on the software, which further restricted the user’s rights.

Microsoft has already removed WUDT from the Microsoft store and has promised to investigate this matter. It is worth noting that Microsoft has a bad reputation when it comes to open source. Steve Ballmer infamously called Linux a cancer and compared open source with communism. In fact, Microsoft has a tradition of stealing open source code and using it in their proprietary applications. So, it’s no wonder that they are despised by FOSS supporters and treated with suspicion by most Open Source advocates. This latest transgression will only make matters worse.