Wednesday, January 31, 2007

How to know the directory / folder of Linux applications / programs?


Where is the Linux's Program Files ?

Or, at which locations the programs in Linux installed? Exactly the same question was asked by one reader. There are no such file or folder named Program File (as in Windows) in Linux, and Linux program do not store most of their files in one such location and, in general, they do not ask you the dumb question - where to install your program files.

Yes, Linux Programs are intelligent enough to install their files in pre-defined required directories. But, at times you need to know where these files are? For example, you installed an application and want to place its program start-up icon at Desktop or in Start Menu. For this, you must know the exact location of its executable binary that enables you to create shortcut at desired location.

Well, most of the Linux programs places either binary or their link to locations like - /bin, /sbin, /usr/bin, /usr/share/bin etc. But these directories itself are quite big and scattered hence finding particular program by searching remain a tedious job.

Here is a command that rescues you in such situations - whereis

For example, you want to know where GIMP program's executable is located. To know this, give following command:

#whereis gimp

The output will be like this-

gimp: /usr/bin/gimp /etc/gimp /usr/lib/gimp /usr/share/gimp

Obviously, the binary gimp required to create shortcut to start gimp is located at /usr/bin directory. If you found no output with whereis command then either the named program is not installed or you misspelled it. So check out now - where-is your Linux Program installed!

**.**

Related Reading : How to create program link in your Linux desktop

PS: Any guess who this beautiful lady is, and where we can find her?


(she is from Fedora default screensaver :)

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Monday, January 29, 2007

See the Global Virus activities in real time.


Now you can see the global activities of viruss in your computer's monitor.


F-secure, the security firm had hosted a free service WorldMap Live for quite some time that shows Global activities of all kinds of virus on a world map that constantly refreshed every hour or so. The activities of viruses, their name, and their physical locations (infections and spreading) are recorded and displayed in real time. They are arranged neatly in Quite, Low, Medium, High and Epidemic scale. Beside the map, you can see the name of highly active viruses - indicating percentage infections. As it is obvious in the screenshot, currently, the Benwarum email warm is most active with total 44% resulted infections. Interestingly, variants of Mydoom and Netsky are still active and are responsible for second and third most virus infections.

According to F-Secure, WorldMap Live works this way :-

When a virus activity detection occurs, many F-secure security products report back to F-secure with data that includes an IP address. That particular IP address is converted to a physical location which is then displayed on the WorldMap. The WorldMap software runs in real-time as well as 1hour and 24hours playback mode.

You can click upon various parameters there to get detailed information. The worldmap is scalable and you can view a particular continent or a region or a country. The screenshot here shows that there were huge virus activity going on at USA and Europe countries - the area with dense PC penetration.

F-secure also offers online virus scanning for free.

Related article:

Beware of phishing scams...

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Friday, January 26, 2007

How to play CD / DVD Movie / Video in Fedora/RedHat Linux?


One reader asked how to play DVD movies in Linux.

Viewing any kind of movie in Linux is pretty simple. You need to install MPlayer, the versatile media player.

First, download the codecs required by MPlayer to play media files from this site:
http://www.mplayerhq.hu/design7/dload.html

Note that bundled codecs are platform specific, for example, for your Linux x86 machines, download the appropriate codecs from:

http://www3.mplayerhq.hu/MPlayer/releases/codecs/essential-20061022.tar.bz2

Obviously, if your platform is different, such as Mac or AND64, then download that specific version.

Un-tar this file and copy entire contents to directory: /usr/local/lib/codecs/

Then, download MPlayer source from [mplayer source download site, though you may find many more including bit-torrent locations]:

http://www3.mplayerhq.hu/MPlayer/releases/MPlayer-1.0rc1.tar.bz2

And install this by compiling it. Do not know how to do this? Read this article- How to install application in Linux.

Note that if you want to use GUI frontend for MPlayer, then configure it with --enable-gui option during compiling. Thus, the command to enable GUI will be:

./configure --enable-gui

Finally, download atleast one skin for your MPLayer from:
http://www.mplayerhq.hu/design7/dload.html

for example, standard skin from:
http://www.mplayerhq.hu/MPlayer/skins/standard-1.9.tar.bz2

Untar it, and copy the contents to this directory: [home dir]/.mplayer/skins/

Here, [Home dir] is the name of your home directory.

The skin can also be copied to directory: /usr/local/share/mplayer/skins/ to enable all users use MPlayer skins.

You are done!

Now, to view DVD movie / Video, give following command:

#mplayer [video.vob]

where [video.file] is the file name with appropriate directory of dvd vob file. You can play DVD through graphical MPlayer. To start MPlayer in graphical mode, give following command:

#gmplayer

Right click on its face, then select DVD (or CD as the case may be), then click on Open Disk.

After a while, your movie will start playing.

You can use these steps for any Linux distribution to install MPlayer. MPlayer also comes for Windows, and it is equally powerful media player for Windows platform that can play virtually all kinds of media files. Just Download and install Windows installer for Mplayer from:

http://www.mplayerhq.hu/design7/dload.html

Happy viewing!

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Beware! Spam blogs might be stealing your Blog posts!!

And to add salt and peeper to your wound, it scraps all links from your blog post and randomly add phishing/porn links on your contents!

Recently I came across a spam blog which appears hosted on spam blog service as well. Because it does not add any contact details and features like ‘Report Abuse'. The blog is hosted on server somewhere and is using Wordpress as blogging platform.

See the screenshot of blog in question (http://pyro1620.duskdiary.com/blog/2006/12) which has copied contents from this blog:

See the screenshot of WordPress based Free Blog service provider (http://www.duskdiary.com) on which this spam blog is hosted:

Obviously, it appears that to earn quick bucks through Adsense revenues, these spam blogs have been created.

Matter was reported to Wordpress, and they responded:

"It is not hosted by us at WordPress.com , so there is nothing we can do. Find out who is hosting the blog.

Good luck,
Lloyd"

The matter was also reported to Adsense support, the response is not received yet.

Sometime earlier, similar incidents have occurred with hugely popular Amit's blog and a rare incident in Hind Blogworld too.

I am afraid, I do not know to whom I should contact to scrap the copied material, and ban the said blog.

UPDATE : A quick look further revealed that hundreds of Desi blog sites have been plagiarized by duskdiary blog!

Here is one such quick link:
Shravan's:
http://alternative-theory.blogspot.com/2005/12/go-goair.html
is copied at:

http://kelell4u.duskdiary.com/blog/2007/01/06/go-goair/

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Here is hundreds of hacks for your Blogger Blogs...

New Blogger provides you hundreds of new attractive features, and every day many more are being added. Why not, after all, the big brother Google is behind it.

Still, at times we may not find some special feature in our blog template. Murphy says - At any given point of time, no application or service can cater the need of every user.

This requires hacks. Current features are modified or some new features are added legally on applications/services to cater individual need. This is called Hack, and in general, programmers often do hacks more for some kicks than for real need.

There is a section created on Wikipedia for Blogger Hacks. You can find hundreds of blogger hacks - both for new and old classic Blogger, beautifully arranged alphabetically. For example, you can find hacks for - how to create 3 column blog template, how to add calendar, how to show 25 newest comments etc. More over, if you are looking for something that is missing, you can add your wish list too. Some one will write a hack for your need in just a few day.

A very important bookmark for Blogger Lover. Bookmark this link - Blogger Hacks on Wikipedia

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Linux Live CD shootout : Knoppix 5.1 vs official Fedora core 6


It was long due. The official Fedora core 6 Linux live CD. It is now available to download for quite some time from :

While comparing Fedora core 6 Live with Knoppix 5.1 Live, Fedora disappointed users in many count. Here are some:

Fedora core 6 live is very slow, very sluggish in comparison to Knoppix 5.1 - In the same machine, Knoppix 5.1 boots doubly fast, and runs equally fast.

Fedora core 6 live does not offer many boot options as well. Whereas, Knoppix 5.1 gives you more than a dozen boot options - including to boot from RAM, Hard-disk-copied image and many more.

Knoppix 5.1 has built in full multimedia support. Whereas, you need to install mp3 codec in Fedora core 6 live additionally to play your favorite MP3 files.

Knoppix 5.1 has KDE, whereas Fedora Live is built upon Gnome. KDE has much more applications included and hence Knoppix.

However, Knoppix 5.1 falls behind Fedora core 6 Live CD on Language section. Knoppix 5.1 had about a dozen western language support in all, and you need to install additional language pack for additional language such as Hindi (Indic). Fedora core 6 Live CD contains all the language packs available for Linux distribution that main Fedora tree carries. It means, you will get your language environment in Fedora Core 6 Live CD if it is available in Fedora Core 6 Main distribution. Language packs, fonts, Keyboard, everything you need for your language environment will be available to you when you login to that language environment. Great!

Final Verdict: If you want out of the box support for your particular language in your Linux machine, go for Fedora core 6 Live CD. Else, Knoppix 5.1 is the best bet indeed.

**-**

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How to add Header Image in new Blogger?

There are many ways.

The easy way is -

Select template with Header Image, such as Harbor. Then go to Dashboard and select Template tab and click on Edit Html. Then click on small selection box Expand Widget Templates to select it.

An editable box will open where you can edit your Blog template. Go to Page Structure section and delete Image URL of section Wrap 2 and Wrap 3. Further, change the Image URL of section Wrap 4 to your own. Save template. Your image will appear on your Blog's header.

Another easy way, but involves a few more step:

This method works in all new blogger templates. (if you have selected template with image header, then you must remove the images through above method by editing blog template, else your image will collide with default image.) This method also involves editing blog template's HTML. Go to the lowest portion of your blog template's HTML and hunt for this piece of code:

<b:section class='header' id='header' maxwidgets='1' showaddelement='no'>

Change this to:

<b:section class='header' id='header' maxwidgets='4' showaddelement='yes'>

And save your template.

If you do not find showaddelement='no' in some templates, then add this beside maxwidgets='1' and save the template after modification as stated above.

Finally, go to template Layout. Now you will find Add Page Element for Header. Click this and choose Add Picture. Give either picture's URL or browse for the picture in your computer, point to the picture, click save and you are done!

(Warning : Before attempting any of this, please save your template first so that you can revert back the changes any time. Further, create a test blog, attempt these settings there, and when fully satisfied with the results, then only make changes in your Blog template)

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Mobile Phone : How many use it can have?

iPhone like instruments have redefined the use of mobile phones. Now, you can safely say that mobile phone's prime job is not to make calls, but to listen music or see video or many dozen other things that you can find and, perhaps imagine. Even the basic, entry level mobile phones now have built in Camera, MP3 player, FM radio and what not! High end expensive mobile phones are threatening the existence of Laptops and are all set to replace them in near future. Your new mobile phone can now work as a complete, internet enabled multimedia - gaming computer.

Recently, some additional features and functionality have been added to mobile phones. With these additional applications and services, you can use your mobile phone as a Credit Card. Mobile phone based transaction are believed as more secure than traditional credit card based transaction, and, they are as easy as sending a SMS.

Credit card based transactions were risky enough since Key-loggers, Phishers and fraudsters were active as never before and they are harming innocent consumers, merchants and banking companies millions of dollars every year, and this figure is kept increasing. Now, thanks to your mobile phone, with an additional 2nd factor authentication security, your transaction will be more secure and with a little care, any online or offline credit card fraud can be completely ruled out. Presently there are two kinds of technique used in mobile phones for secure transaction - SMS based PayMate and Mobile Application based MChek.

PayMate: Secured transaction with SMS

PayMate is SMS based service that can transform your mobile phone a secure credit card. The services offered by PayMate is very little as of now, but they say that many more services will be included in PayMate in near future. Using PayMate is easy enough. If you have CitiBank credit card, then you can register for PayMate by sending a SMS PayMate to 2484. You will then be called back and your mobile phone will be registered with your consent. When you want to pay a merchant registered with PayMate, the merchant will send you a SMS to your registered mobile phone with a random generated alpha code. You need to reply this SMS with a PIN number (secret 4 digit password) and you are done. Since all this process happen automatically without human interaction, and through your registered mobile phone only, it is pretty secure.

Presently, you can not pay more than 5 thousand Rupees per transaction or more than 10 thousand Rupees per 24 hours through PayMate, there fore, you can use PayMate only for small and petty purchases. This limitation will certainly hinder its gaining popularity. And unless this limitation is lifted, PayMate will have limited use.

MChek : Your mobile is your credit card

MChek can very well replace your credit card and very effectively, very securely. But MChek can only be used in certain high end mobile phones where additional mobile applications can be installed. If services like MChek will gain ground then in near future, all mobile phones may have at least one such functionality. MChek also provide you 2nd factor authentication, but, still, attack of mobile virus can not be ruled out - they can breach this security.

Using MChek is also very easy. You need to register your mobile phone with your banker who also support MChek. You also need to install MChek mobile application in your mobile. Now where ever you need to pay through credit card whether Online or to a merchant's establishment, start MChek in your mobile and supply the randomly generated PassCode by your MChek mobile application as a credit card number. For Every transaction, there is a unique number generated by your mobile phone's MChek application that too after supplying a password by you, the procedure seems perfect and secure enough. Even if you lost your mobile phone, your mobile's MChek will remain useless unless it is supplied with a 4 digit unique password that no one knows except you.

MChek is not for basic entry level phones since mobile applications can not be installed on them. Therefore, its popularity will be limited to a great extent. Further, limited numbers of banker/merchants have adopted this and unless a handful banker/merchant allow you to pay through this channel, use of MChek is further limited and hence you can not through your credit card right away! Perhaps, you need to wait a little more to fully replace your credit card with your mobile phone.

Update : (Jan-19, 2007)

According to mChek, here are some clarifications:

1. mChek works on ALL phones - including the Nokia 1100!

2. mChek requires NO software on your client - no SIM card replacement or no JAVA application to be downloaded.

3. mChek works with any and all Visa/Mastercard credit cards issued by an Indian bank.

4. You do NOT need to contact your bank at all - you simply sign up from your phone or from our website in 30 seconds and start transacting.

5. Your mChekPIN is never saved in the clear on your handset.



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Sunday, January 14, 2007

How to record Music / Audio in Linux in MP3 format?

Recording MP3 songs in Linux is pretty simple.


But only if you have right tools installed in your distro. Often, some most popular Linux distribution like Redhat / Fedora do not come bundled with mp3 support. Here is quick take for you to how to do this.

Step 1 - Download and install LAME MP3 codec. LAME MP3 encoder and decoder are essential tool to record and play your sound file in MP3 format.

Step 2 - Download and install Audacity - the versatile cross-platform sound recorder.

How to install programs in Linux? Read this article .

Step 3 - Play your sound file, or attach your sound source to Line in of your computer's sound card. Make sure that you can here the sound.

Step 4 - Start Audacity. Click the dropdown menu beside the Microphone icon, and select the input sound source. For example, if you want to record audio from external source such as CD / Cassette player, then select Line in. You can also choose Volume/Stereo Mix. Now start playing the music/sound that you want to record, and press Record button (the button with red circle) . For best results, experiment a little with sound input level.

Seep 5 - When done, click Stop button (the yellow square button). Now you can save your recording in wav file format. To record in other sound file format, you must have installed compatible sound encoder in your computer. For example, here, we want to save our recording in MP3 file format. Audacity needs LAME MP3 encoder, which we have already installed, and for the first time it may ask you to locate that file. Simply click on File menu and then go to Export as MP3. Audacity will then ask you to fill in MP3 tags, which you can supply, or you can skip this step, and click OK. Your recorded files will then be exported in MP3 file format.

Related: How to play MP3 files in Linux Fedora / Redhat

//*//

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Hindi / Marathi's first ever, Text-To-Speech freeware program released.

Hindi / Marathi Text-To-Speech freeware program released.

Vachak - the Hindi Text-To-Speech program for Windows system is available for quite some time. There was none for Linux System till now. The gap has been bridged by a team of Janabhaaratii, the Language Computing Group C-DAC, Mumbai. Janabhaaratii has recently released text-to-speech freeware program for Hindi and Marathi.

In fact, this Hindi/Marathi text to speech program is an extension of Festival, the text to speech program for Linux system. It means, you need to install Festival first to install and use this Hindi text to speech program. Festival is a cross-platform speech-synthesis engine that can be used in any platform like Windows, Linux, Mac, BSD, sun-Spark etc.

How to install program like festival in Linux? Read this link.

Download Hindi Festival Text-to-speech from here

Download Marathi Festival Text-to-speech from here

Installing these packs are easy. Simply unpack these in any directory, and simply run installation script - install.sh .

Using Festival to read out Hindi/Marathi text may look tedious if you have not installed any front end GUI for festival. Running Festival to read Hindi/Marathi through commands involves following three steps:

1 Start festival on terminal

2 At Festival command prompt, give command to use Hindi speech engine.

3 Give command to use which particular Hindi text file

Command Syntex will be like this:

$ festival

festival> (voice_hindi_NSK_diphone)

festival> (tts "/home/sample.txt" nil)

Here, /home/sample.txt is the path of text file you want to read-out by the program.

While testing this program, it appears that it has more mechanical sound than Vachak, the Windows counterpart. If there are not enough spaces or hyphenation signs, then it reads the text in flat, regular speed that appears a little awful to listeners, and at times you may find difficult to understand the speech. It skips some words that it can't recognize. Still, since it is in its Alpha version, it looks promising enough to grow in a full fledged, feature rich Hindi Text-to-speech program.

I tried a sample Hindi text, the result of which you can listen by downloading or streaming this MP3 file (1MB).

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

How to transfer movies and photos from Cameras to Linux PC?

Camera to Linux PC file transfer made easy.

In windows, you connect your camera to your PC, and lo!, your camera software's pop up window automatically comes out of the blue and with little or no interaction, you can transfer your photos and movies from your camera to your PC.

Things will be pretty different in Linux, since you may not find camera software bundled for Linux with your expensive Camera.

To transfer photos and movie files from camera to your Linux PC, you need a very powerful, universal tool called gphoto2.

If it is not installed already, download and install gphoto2 in your machine,. In most Linux machine (with multimedia support), and in most Linux distribution, gphoto2 comes bundled.

How to install gphoto2 in your Linux machine? Read this article.

After installing gphoto2, connect your camera through USB cable (though gphoto2 supports many other standard ports too).

Now open any terminal, and give following command:

# gphoto2 -P

It will scan for your camera, then hunt inside its internal as well as memory card and then transfers all your photos and movie files in a predefined directory, say, in your home directory by default.

Pretty simple? Yes it is.

There are many other options as well which you can use with gphoto2. Just type following command and see what other things gphoto2 can do for you.

# gphoto2 - -help

Gphoto2 supports most modern cameras, and, in extreme rare case, if your model in ‘alien' enough, it may not recognize your camera. To see full list of cameras that gphoto2 supports, give following command:

# gphoto2 - -list -cameras

Still there is problem transferring your files from camera to PC, feel free to ask through comments.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Blogger Status down on Blogger Maintenance

A catch 22 situation?


Blogger was down for scheduled maintenance around 09 Jan 2007, 10.45 PM IST. It gives me following message while trying to connect to Blogger:


Blogger is undergoing maintenance

The old version of Blogger is currently down for maintenance. We are also unable to create new accounts or blogs on Blogger at this time. Please try again later.

For more information about this outage, see Blogger Status.

When I clicked Blogger Status link which is, as it is apparent, hosted on Blogger (link is http://status.blogger.com/ ), led me to 502 server error page.

A classic case of catch 22 situation? Huh!

Update : After a while, Blogger status was up and running again.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Thinking Beyond Blogging? Try Terapad

Well, Grand daddy of Blogger and WordPress finally arrives.


Bloggers now will have better choice. An all in one Blogging platform is now available for you, that too is ALL FREE, if you do not dislike small advertisements.

It is Terapad - the features Terapad is offering will redefine the way bloggers blog!

Here is what you will get integrated with your blog at Terapad:

1 Paypal ready shop - means, you can make a full fledged, e-bay like commercial blog in minutes
2 Full CSS control of your blog - means better personal design.
3 Problogging tools
4 WTSIWYG eidting
5 Content Management - you can add additional contents other than your blog post
6 News & RSS feeds
7 Image Gallery
8 Visitor Tracking - now your visitor statistics are built in within this blogging platform
9 Discussion forum - up and running full fledged forum from day one
10 Jobs and CVS search
11 Event Calender
12 Free 10 GB Bandwidth / 2 GB Data expandable with little monthly fee

What are the Negatives?
Here are a few:

Offering many things at one place may offend new bloggers
Interface is too cluttered. It requires a little getting used to.
Non-intuitive interface needs un-necessary navigations for petty task of site management. For example, you can't see link to create new post until and unless you create and click a category!

Another venture GOOGLE may buy out? Very Likely!

Review : FreePowerBoards.com - The free message board hosting service


You might be using forums for addressing all kinds of communications. You want your own forum that you can own and control? And suppose it is all free for you? Great?

Yes, it is possible. you can build your up-and running forum within minutes. Just register and open an account at http://www.freepowerboards.com/ and here you go.

In addition to free forum, you will get free domain forward and many more.

I just created myself a forum for TechTrouble, and within minutes it is up and running.

The better part of this service is - it is all free, ad-supported service.

For more details, go to: free message board hosting


Note: This post is paid and sponsored by http://payperpost.com/

Ultimate in HardDrives arrives : All Flash, No Platters!

And, no moving parts either.

Yes, everybody were predicting this since quite some time. Finally, SanDisk rolls out 32 GB flash hard drives for Laptops. Soon, we may have these for our desktop too, and present capacity barrier of 32 GB will no longer be there. Further, since it is all static device, it will have many other benefits as well.

Well, what are the benefits? According to Doreet Oren, director of product marketing for SanDisk,

  • Unlike traditional hard drives, flash memory drives do not contain moving parts. As a result, flash devices are less prone to breaking down--flash cards can survive drops from great heights--and consume less energy. SanDisk's flash drive can increase battery life by about 10 percent.
  • Flash Drive also can retrieve data faster. In its own tests, Sandisk flash drive can boot-up Windows Vista--the next version of the Windows operating system--in 35 seconds, a half-minute faster than the 55-second boot-up time required with a conventional drive.
  • Drive is packaged into a 1.8-inch package, mostly to make it easier for notebook makers to adopt it. The package can be shrunk (to reduce the overall size of the notebook) or increased so that a flash drive could fit into a notebook with a 2.5-inch drive chassis, and other form factors will obviously be supported.

However, the present high cost of about $600 will make it extremely expensive for an average user. Still, it is hoped, someday, all HardDrive will be Flashed!

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