Geek talking

Pinoy geek talking about everything under the sun

Archive for December, 2005

Back to Netgear

Posted by rom on December 31, 2005

I am back to using my Netgear broadband router since I will be re-flashing the firmware of the Linksys router. I have setup WPA to use a key generated by the Ultra High Security Password Generator service of GRC.com.

Thing is, however, it is quite difficult to add it to all the other computers connecting to the access point wirelessly. Oh well, thanks to the iPod Shuffle – was able to transfer the 63 character password to all computers. 🙂

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Java is not the culprit!

Posted by rom on December 31, 2005

Mr. Joel Spolsky is dead wrong here. His generalization that because Java does not require students to think about pointers and recursion (heck, we do cover recursion! see JEDI courseware) make them mediocre programmers is a bit flawed. Using the same line of thinking, every student who does not get to optimize an if-then loop using registers ala Assembly language will be a mediocre programmer as well! 😀

Anyway, Java is just one of the languages used to solve problems. What mediocre programmers do not have is the problem solving skills of great programmers. Solving real world problems correctly and properly is the aim here. Besides, teaching Java is just one or two courses in computer science.

For example, a Data Structures course is a particular CS/IT course where pointers and recursion are extremely important. I suggest that Mr. Spolsky check out how we are doing it using Java! 🙂

Posted in Java | 4 Comments »

Preventing Spyware

Posted by rom on December 31, 2005

ZDnet just published an article detailing how to keep your new computer spyware free. An interesting read but it only applies to Windows users. How about Linux and Macs? Let us see if the tips apply…

1. Update Windows immediately. The same goes for Linux and Mac. Fire up Software Update on your Mac to apply the latest patches. If you are using Ubuntu Linux, it will automatically detect new patches and prompt you if you want to install ’em. Neat, huh?

2. Update the pre-installed antivirus definitions and other security apps. Set them to auto update. Both Mac and Linux are impervious to viruses. This is an optional step for Linux and Mac users. Install it if you like but with proper user-education, you really do not need this step.

3. Download and install an alternative browser like Firefox or Opera. Current Linux distributions are shipped with Firefox. You may opt to get Opera, of course. Mac’s come with Safari but getting Camino, Firefox’s cousin, or Firefox itself or Opera is also possible, but optional.
4. Lockdown Internet Explorer. Yes, do it even if you use a different browser. Old Mac OS X installs come with Internet Explorer. With Microsoft IE for Mac ending its life effective today, there is no reason to even consider installing it in the first place. Linux never heard of Internet Explorer. Hehehe…

5. Install at least two anti-spyware apps. My top two recommended free apps are Ad-Aware and Microsoft AntiSpyware. Update definitions for both and turn on active protection in Microsoft AntiSpyware.  There are ad-blockers for the Firefox browsers. This may apply to both Linux and Mac but personally, I have not seen an effective Spyware on a Mac or Linux.

6. Install some free protective programs like SpywareBlaster and SpywareGuard from Javacool Software. Same reason as 5.

7. Install IE-SPYAD, which puts nearly 20,000 known dangerous domains in IE’s restricted site zone. Well, if you do not have IE, why bother?

8. Install a HOSTS file from here or here. This is an effective way of combatting websites that use pop-ups, pop-unders, adverts, hijackers, banners, etc. Also prevents 3rd party cookies from getting installed on your computer. May be worth it to install on your Mac or Linux computer, too.

9. Educate yourself on how to not become infected in the first place. Same goes for Mac and Linux users! Better spend 10-15 minutes learning how not to become infected. 🙂
10. Surf safe and practice safe hex. Also applies to Mac and Linux users. Although it is more difficult to cause havoc on your entire computer system due to the way the OS is designed, it is still a good idea to practice safe hex.

So, should it be top 5 or 6 tips for new Mac or Linux user instead of 10? 🙂

Anyway, all references to links or whatever, please get them from the original article. 🙂

Posted in Apple, Linux, Microsoft | Leave a Comment »

Flickr on Linux

Posted by rom on December 30, 2005

Interesting blog entry on how to install Flickrfs on Linux. Flickrfs functions like a virtual file system that you can mount and unmount on Linux to make it easier to manage your photos.

Interesting, eh?

Posted in Linux, Tips and Tricks | Leave a Comment »

False-sense of security

Posted by rom on December 29, 2005

Why is it that everytime you read something about Mac users falsely believing that their Macs are very secure you often find a product announcement behind it? It was Symantec before and today it is SecureMac.

I do not discount the fact that no computer system is completely secure. However, some systems are far more secure than others. Users of Unix-based computers often find their systems to be far more secure than the current lot of Microsoft products  (the next generation is being developed with security in mind!). It is not because of the popularity or the lack of it but because of the way the OS was designed. Secure-by-design is different from having security as an afterthought.

Anyway, no amount of security matters if the users themselves make their systems not secure. Users play a very big role in keeping systems secure. Users should be educated not to trust attachments to any unsolicited e-mail even if it comes from a trusted address. Users should know how to select strong passwords and never to give them to anyone. Users should also make sure that they access their computers using even the simplest username-password authentication scheme – at least it serves as a deterrent – no more auto-login. Again, user education is what is needed and not an application that claims to make your computer systems secure – look what happened to Symantec recently?

Anyway, Unix-based systems have existed way before Windows and it has a far better record than Windows. Just my take, no computer system is 100% secure. Most of the time, user ignorance is to blame when systems are compromised.

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Opera 9 Preview

Posted by rom on December 29, 2005

Ha! Just when I thought of using Opera for a week and see if I will make it my main browser, Opera released a preview of version 9!

So far, I like it because it now renders the icon on my blog editor. 😀

I wonder how I can customize the preferences per site…

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Make your Linux desktop look like Mac OS X

Posted by rom on December 29, 2005

A great tutorial on how to make a KDE-based Linux workstation look like your pretty powerbook interface. 🙂

Sorry Gnome but I have yet to find a hack for you.

Posted in Linux, Open Systems, Tips and Tricks | Leave a Comment »

Opera 8.51

Posted by rom on December 29, 2005

Well, I tried Camino for a week and loved it! The way it renders the sites that I visit regularly is simply superb. However, viewing QT movies over at Apple messes up the browser but not to the extent of how it messes up Firefox 1.5.

With Opera 8.51 – everything is rendered properly, even the QT movies. I am still trying to get used to it but I will give it a week and see how it goes. So far, I like its speed but it did not render the wordpress editor icons properly, though.

Opera, Camino and Firefox still wouldn’t work with BPI Express Online. Well, if people will pressure them to make it standards-compliant, then maybe they will listen. I think it is the fault of web app developers but the last say always comes from the top!

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Moblog

Posted by rom on December 29, 2005

DSC00246.JPG

Flickr provides an email address for users to upload photos via email. I have been using this for quite awhile.

Today, I tried out ShoZu, a Java-based midlet that uploads your photos to Flickr, Webshots or TextAmerica accounts.

No email-attachment overhead so I am hoping that I will be saving a couple of centavos by using this service.

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Can your Windows OS-based laptop do this?

Posted by rom on December 28, 2005

Just bored right now – waiting for Toast to finish making my video clip iPod-ready. Figured that I’d check my system uptime as well as CPU load and here’s what I got

Picture 22.png

Even with a measly 1.5GB of RAM, video processing eats up most of my computer’s resources. I have Yahoo! Messenger, Mail.app, Camino, NetNewsWire Pro and Podner running but I still have Toast as the top consumer. Oh well, at least I can still surf, read my mail and blog. 🙂 I wonder what happens if I fire up XCode and begin compiling some code. hehehe.

Anyway, an uptime of 5 days on a notebook may not be impressive as per the Mac or Linux standards but for Windows OS-based computers, that is feat! I have not seen a Windows machine go for that long without performance issues. 🙂 Personally, I do not keep my system up longer than 7 days – just to be on the safe side. However, servers are another matter – it can go on for weeks and weeks – even with software updates. Beat that!

Posted in Apple | 2 Comments »