All posts by Keshav Khera

Keshav Khera is a young freelance writer from India. Alongside writing for the web, he also attends school and tries not to bunk classes. He keeps interest in music, table tennis, reading and of course, twitter (@keshav)

Bring Back Gmail Mouse Gestures With Chrome Extension

Gmail Mouse Gestures

Back in 2011, Gmail had a labs experiment called “Mouse Gestures” that let you navigate your inbox  using the right click of your mouse. Dragging to the right/left would open the next/previous email and dragging the mouse up would open up the inbox. The experimental feature was one of my favorites so when it was discontinued in May 2012, I was a little saddened to the say the least.

A Change.org petition was launched soon after calling for its reinstatement, but who are we kidding, it’s Google after all. They shut down Google Reader in spite of its loyal following – what chance does a little lab experiment stand?

So I was quite elated when I came across a Google Chrome extension that accomplishes the same task, unofficially. Simply named Gmail Mouse Gestures, the extension does the job just as advertised. There are a few limitations to its functioning however. It hasn’t yet been updated to work with the latest tabbed-and-segregated Gmail interface so if you’re browsing emails in the Promotions tab and drag up to go to the list of emails, the extension takes you to the list of emails in the Primary tab. Left and right browsing works alright in all the tabs, thankfully.

WordPress 3.7 Will Come With Automatic, Background Updating

Today, blogging and content management software WordPress released the first beta for its upcoming 3.7 version of the software. Among several bug fixes and feature updates, the biggest apple in the bucket is the ability of the software to update itself – overnight, without any manual input.

wordpress-logoWordPress has had this feature since antiquity, but always via plugins. It is only now that the WordPress core can boast of it. “3.7 Beta 1 will keep itself updated. That’s right — you’ll be updated each night to the newest development build, and eventually to Beta 2. ” — says  Andrew Nacin, WordPress Lead Developer.

There will be situations where “WordPress can’t reliably and securely update itself” — Nacin mentions, and for these you’ll be alerted via email. The automatic updates will also work for official translations, in case you’re running WordPress in a language other than English.

The 3.7 Beta 1 for WordPress is nowhere near a complete, stable offering and you should be wary of installing it on websites you don’t want to risk the working of. In any case, if you’re one of the hard ones, the link to the beta is right here →

Cmd.fm Brings SoundCloud To The Command Line

greenshot_2013-09-29_01-40-02CMD.FM is a nifty little website that lets you play various genres of music from SoundCloud.com in a nice in-browser terminal window, almost evocative of the bygone DOS days.

With all the player controls managed by textual commands, terminal aficionados on Unix or Windows alike will feel at home with the black and neon presentation. The service fetches songs from SoundCloud and plays them in the form of  a radio governed by tags or genres; however unlike the convention of typical radio broadcasts, this one can be paused and songs skipped.

Whether it’s just a vintage itch that you need scratched or you need a new online radio for your arsenal, CMD.fm with SoundCloud’s backing makes a solid pick.

Yahoo Maps Gets Design Refresher

Following the Yahoo logo update three weeks ago, Yahoo Maps today landed in tow and got itself a design and usability update.

tumblr_inline_mtoww8PDq31qhxx5sThe Yahoo Search Company blog reports a couple of “key new features and content options” that enhances results for local searches on Yahoo Maps, but only in the United States, it seems. With the new updates, the system now shows you different routes to a destination depending on whether you plan to walk or take the public transport. “The public transportation view lets you see different options so you can pick which one looks best to you. All connections and transfers are clearly presented in a thoughtful manner.” – says Anand Chandrasekaran, Senior Director, Product Management on the company blog.

Along with the new route updates, Yahoo has also updated satellite imagery. ” We’ve recently refreshed satellite imagery for over 14 million square kilometers of land – significantly reducing  cloud cover, improving edge matching and image sampling and creating coast to coast views” – promises the web company.

There’s no denying Google’s monopoly in online mapping and street routing, but a little competition in every field does nothing but good for the average consumer. If you appreciate Yahoo’s gusto, check out their maps offering on maps.yahoo.com

Kim Dotcom Working On New Music Service Called Baboom

Earlier this week, Kim Dotcom, the flamboyant German-born entrepreneur and founder of file hosting site Mega, stepped down as director of the startup. Mega was launched in January this year and coincided with the seizure and shut down of Megaupload, its predecessor.

Launched with much pomp and show, Mega has undoubtedly been a success. Dotcom reported that the service acquired 100k registered users within the first hour of its launch, a number that jumped up to a million in two days. Kim also reported 500 uploads to Mega’s servers every second! According to other statistics published by the company, it currently hosts more than 50 million files. If the startup is doing so well, one may ask the question, why is the founder stepping down from administration?

Leaving Mega under the reigns of CEO Vikram Kumar, who was instated in February this year, Kim Dotcom has decided to move towards fresher ventures and brighter pastures. At the top of his bucket list right now seems to be a new music startup, which he’s decided to call Baboom. As tacky as the name may sound, the idea itself is not new. Dotcom has wanted to make a revolutionary music service ever since his row with Universal back in 2011.

Back then, the proposed name was Megabox, but Dotcom decided to use something better and without the mega branding. He has also said that the new company will be owned and managed completely by him, unlike Mega. Dotcom says the Baboom project has already received several millions in funding and tie ups with artists is an ongoing process.

Baboom aims to be a free music streaming service, wherein artists will receive 90% of revenues which will be collected using advertising. There will be a subscription model too, which will provide for an advert-less experience.

“I am really excited about Baboom. I can’t wait for artists to see what i have created for them. Their entire career can be managed on Baboom. Artists never had more freedom, transparency and control.” — Dotcom

Dotcom doesn’t plan on launching a less-than complete product, so we’ll have to wait a few months however, he does plan on keeping the excitement up throughout the waiting period and this teaser of the website he provides helps with just that.

Baboom

In an emailed statement to a publication, Mega CEO Vikram Kumar said Dotcom — otherwise known as Kim Schmitz — resigned “to be able to focus on the extradition case, an upcoming music website, and to build a political party.” However Kim recently found out he can’t exactly run for parliament. His twitter says “I cannot run for parliament because I’m not a New Zealand citizen. But I can be Party President. So be it.”

So there we have it. New music service on the block and Kim Dotcom playing politics in New Zealand. How will it stack up against the formidable labels and how will he vie for the good public eye? Only time will tell.

Additional reporting aided by Torrentfreak exclusives.

NASA Adds Instagram to its Arsenal of Social Media Accounts

NASA has always been enthusiastic about its social media presence, be it videos on YouTube, short updates on Twitter or live video feeds on Ustream. Beginning Friday, NASA has now taken Instagram to the moon.

The new @nasa account on Instagram launched this Friday with classic vintage images of the moon and earth. NASA plans to use the account to inspire the public with new content and keep them updated on the image sharing platform.

NASA has since posted pictures of the launch of the agency’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) from Virginia. In two days alone the account has managed to amass a following of 51K and continues to grow like the rockets they keep pushing out.

NASA Instagram

Instagram has a large populace that wants to look at inspiring pictures that are not of the facial or edible kind, and NASA understands that. Press Secretory Lauren Worley said. “Instagram has a passionate following of users who are hungry for new and exciting photos. We believe we have some of the most engaging images on and off the planet — and we can’t wait to engage with Instagrammers.”

If you have an Instagram account, go on, follow NASA on instagram.com/nasa

How to Encrypt and Password Protect Your Gmail Messages

In light of the currently en vogue privacy debate raging all around the world and given the flippant stance of many of our often used communication platforms with regards to securing its users’ privacy, it is becoming more and more evident that if the user wants privacy online, he’ll have to snatch it, for it won’t be easily given.

Talking of communication, email comes to mind. Privacy begins with encryption. And encrypting email isn’t exactly an easy task. It is at best annoying. At worst it can be so cumbersome that most people don’t bother. You can use desktop clients and PGP keys, like Lifehacker details. The annoying procedure of making and handling security keys is also mentioned by Arstechnica here in its editorial about why most people don’t bother encrypting email.

So what do you do if you don’t want peeping toms and evil governments looking into your email? The best idea would be to go stone age and use smoke signals, but of course, we’re discussing technology here and I digress. A rather simpler alternative would be to encrypt the email text and share the password via other means. This is what the ingenious Google Chrome extension SecureGmail aims to do.

SecureGmail Encrypt Email

Let’s discuss the pre-requisites here before we begin encrypting our Gmail messages! You and your message recipient both will need the following:

  1. Gmail accounts
  2. Google Chrome
  3. The Chrome Extension SecureGmail 

What does the extension do? The extension will create a new button beside the usual Compose red button. When you click on it, the new mail window box appears but this one is different from the vanilla compose box as whatever you type in here won’t be saved to Google’s servers. For the technically curious, SecureGmail uses an open source JS crypto library from Stanford available here.

SecureGmail

On completing the message, click the Send Encrypted button. You’ll be asked to set a password for the message as well as a password hint. Your recipient will only see the password hint. If he doesn’t have the extension installed, he’ll see a link to install it. Otherwise, the password can be input right away and the email decrypted.

Only the encrypted copy is saved on Gmail’s servers. If you check your Sent items folders, you’ll see something like this.

SecureGmail

The success of this method obviously assumes that you’ve sent your password to your recipient successfully via other means. Maybe it’s the first word on the 37th page of a certain book, maybe it’s an irrelevant word written as graffiti somewhere. Sci-fi movies will give you enough ideas to supply a hint.

What to do if you want to encrypt text with a password but don’t want to use a chrome extension? Googling for “encrypt text” will give you a slew of options.

Interested in encrypting more kinds of files? Learn about the different tools we’ve written about here and here.

Google Updates Search Page Dictionary, Now Provides Word Etymology

Google Search has long been a favorite tool of many to quickly check for word definitions, time zones, weather and flight details apart from the good old web search. Back in 2010, Google introduced the Dictionary OneBox that showed up with a definition whenever you looked up a word. Google updated the feature in 2011 and added synonyms and audio diction.

Google has today updated the OneBox with word etymologies, a translate feature and word usage trends. You’ll have to click the down arrow on the box on the search page in order to expand the box and see the new information.

greenshot_2013-08-23_01-25-14

If you choose a language, Google will translate the word for you right there. What you see after that will be the word trend chart showing how the usage of your word has been affected with time.

Google OpenBox Dictionary

Wanna try? Google for “define word”

iDoorCam Lets You Answer Your Door From Your Mobile Phone

In a time when unsuspecting household items such as refrigerators and dishwashers come with WiFi inbuilt, we’ve got another one of your taken-for-granted home appliances that you can now hook up for a WiFi upgrade. Your door bell.

igg-topline7

How would you like to add an intercom and a video feed to your existing door bell? That’s exactly what a new fund raising campaign on Indiegogo aims to achieve. Carrying the tacky name iDoorCam, the little round gadget bearing a button and the camera is a WiFi doorbell that wires into your existing door bell arrangement. iDoorCam will connect to your home WiFi network and alert you on your iPhone or Android (via WiFi or 3G, if you’re away) whenever you have a visitor. You can then choose to answer the bell or ignore it. The iOS and Android apps (currently in the work) will allow you to see, listen to and speak to your guest.

Apart from the obvious microphone, camera and speaker, iDoorCam will also support night vision and motion sensing.

iDoorCam, already funded completely to its goal on Indiegogo, should be available for purchase in Q1 2014. You can however pre-book it for a little cheaper right now on the funding page.

12GB PlayStation 3 Coming to North America Aug 18 for $199

A 12GB flash-based PlayStation 3 Slim is on its way to the North American continent. Sony already sells this budget version in Europe and now it’s coming to the new world.

PlayStation 3 12GB Packaging

It’s worth noting that there’s no official word on this yet. However, as Engadget reports, a listing for the new 12 GB variant was spotted on Canada’s online marketplace Future Shop (hence removed) for $199.99. Engadget has also received a picture of the new PlayStation 3 12 GB found at a retailer within the US, along with a label that the product mustn’t be revealed before August 18.

So August 18 is about when people within the US can get their hands on the low budget, 12 GB PlayStation Console.

Should you buy the 12 GB version? Doubts over the small HD size? Check out this comprehensive discussion on PlayStation Lifestyle and make up your mind!