Cyber crime as any other crime

Should you be worried about all the fuzz about the hike in cyber crime? Our modern day life increasingly depends on computer systems in all shapes and sizes. So, Yes, you should be worried. But worrying is not enough. Like all the problems, worrying itself won’t do you any good, if you don’t take precautions.

Worrying is a normal and healthy response when you see a risk. But the real benefit of worrying is to take precautions to defend against the threat. Let us deal with cyber crime as any other crime. I’m not going to spell every detail of how to protect yourself. This is an attempt to tune your instincts to see things differently and kindle the curiosity in you to explore the details yourself.

  • Buy better locks to protect your house ==>> Use better passwords to protect your bank account

  • Don't share all personal info outside trusted circle ==>> Don't post everything on facebook, twitter or other social media
  • Read news to protect against new ways crimes are committed ==>> Update your software to protect against new viruses and malware

Technology critics worry about the more and more reliance on computers as a negative thing. They worry that the computer system can be hacked and put many people at risk. But how about the legal system, education system or healthcare system? Haven’t those been hacked? How many criminals are misusing these systems? But there is hope. We’re closing the gaps and filling the holes. We’re improving.

Similarly we’ll improve in defending against cyber crimes also. Cyber age is inevitable. Only way to protect yourself is to embrace it and learn about it. It doesn’t matter if you think of technology as a friend or enemy, remember this quote:

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

Windows 8.1 Experience

Bottom right corner of my desktop reminded me that I have 85 days left for the evaluation license of Windows 8.1 Enterprise. I thought may I should share some of my prejudices of this fresh and new release from Microsoft. I call it prejudices because it has only been 5 days since I installed the OS.

In a nutshell, great usability improvements and everything touch proof.

Now let me elaborate my experience. First I cleared the clutter in my user (downloads, pictures, videos, music & documents) folders of Windows 7. Even though maintain important documents in a separate drive, I was not doing cleaning for a while and accumulated a lot of clutter on the way. So after deleting a lot of unimportant files using the help of SpaceSniffer program (I’ve not tried others, but this is a good one), I’ve moved the important files to the backup location in non-OS drives. I’ve been doing these because I would have to format the main drive to make way for the new OS.

In the mean time I struggled a lot to download the evaluation version of Windows 8.1. I’m having a pre-historic broadband connection and a 4 hour power cut regime from state owned electricity department. The slow internet connection is my bad, because I choose the lowest speed to reduce spending. And the power cut problem could also be my bad in a long shot, because I’ve not replaced the batteries in my costly UPS (which can hold for an hour or more).

Anyway the problem is when I started the download of the 2.7GB ISO file, there is no pause and resume possible. If interrupted, you’ve got to start from the beginning. So somehow I found the magic spot of continuous download period and got the ISO.

After getting the ISO, the process was a breeze. I loaded the ISO into a USB stick and started the installation. Though I don’t remember how long Win 7 took to install, Windows 8.1 installation was faster (I think).

First impression was WOW. Well usually when you see something new and shiny, that is what you think. It takes a lot of time to put the critic cap on.

I got disappointed at sometimes when what I’ve expected didn’t happen. Most of these expectations are from the prolonged usage of Windows 7. Someone who is completely new to Windows family may feel differently. The start menu and the taskbar satisfied me in a way that it acted as a link between Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

You know like expecting a program to be in the taskbar to open or switch. Clicking the start button to open a program. I know I’m irritating the user by throwing in the word program instead of application. Believe me I’ve been doing this intentionally. Even though I knew it would irritate the most patient of the readers, my intention clearly was to establish a link between the old ways of the windows with the new one.

We’ve started calling programs as applications, long before even windows 8 was introduced. But Program Manager and Start > All Programs are the ways windows called the applications.

Like my annoying way to establish a link to the past with the word Program, Microsoft’s attempt to establish a link to the old OS is annoying at sometimes. Though it is very important to keep it this way to support the applications developed for Windows 7, these older platform applications strike a contrast with the new metro style applications.

When I used some of the new avatars of older applications like calculator and media player (video/audio app), it is evident that these are apps are designed in such a way that you work only on that one application alone at any instance. The immature feature of having 2 apps run side by side, doesn’t come any where closer to having 4 or 5 windows open with all windows visible at the same instance.

As a developer I can monitor the task manager and sql profiler, write queries in sql server, couple of lync chats with fellow developers and a training video playing in windows media player. Instances for having this many windows simultaneously may be less for the majority of the people who are going to use the OS. But a developers life is complex and we like it that way ;). So viewing only part of a window and the rest blocked by another window is out of the question.

I think it’s the effect of trying to provide a single platform for both mobile and desktop devices. There is still hope because Visual Studio 2013 is still a old style program. And I hope most of the developer tools are going to be. It is essential to feed the complex brain functions of a developer.

That said, for leisure purposes like watching movies or reading the new metro style apps are great. Because you only see one app at a time and can deep dive into that task only. People who research our brains say that ours is not designed to do multitasking. May be it’s good for the developers to relax once in a while into the new apps.

But the old way of windows may become very costly like the 4:3 monitors which are developer friendly.

I hope to get more insights and getting used to the new way of Windows 8.1.

Sprintask 0.3 Released

Sprintask 0.3 Screen Shot
Sprintask 0.3 Screen Shot

It has been more than an year since I’ve released the beta version of Sprintask. Around 6 months ago Sprintask 0.3 was ready. But I thought of testing it for a few weeks before releasing. Few weeks became 6 months. Today I’ve been cleaning up my website a bit and thought that I should release Sprintask now, even though it is still in beta stage (that’s why I’ve version it 0.3).

What has changed:

  • User interface is recreated from scratch
  • Login and register modules changed

Known Issues:

  • Eventhough I’ve provided a ‘Recover Password’ link, it doesn’t work :p Don’t worry I’ll create is soon.
  • After starting a task, the timer doesn’t refresh until you refresh the page. It needs to be fixed.

Graphics Design – Infographics

If you are a graphics designer, you may know about this information already. If you’re seeking a graphics designer for his services, you may want to know about the industry. This infographics explains what you will get from what you expect.

Graphics design infographics

This may apply to other industry services also.

Sprintask Beta – Cooking

It has been a long time since Sprintask has been released. Though it has been an hobbyist project, I’ve used it extensively for my own purpose and found it very effective in tracking time in different tasks.

After collecting many recommendations from the users (mostly my friends), I started to develop a new version of Sprintask. In few days I’m planning to release the beta version of it. So stay tuned for the all new Sprintask for you.

Sprintask Bug Fix – IE Compatibility Issue Solved

Bug: Today one of my friends sent me a screen shot of a major bug encountered while opening http://sprintask.vibgy.com in IE6. It’s a javascript error.

Cause: There is timer which removes the red label directing new users to help. When the timer times out, it calls a function. Inside this function, new object variable is created for the div container containing the anchor link image. Then it tries to remove the 2nd child node of the container. It succeeds in chrome and firefox, because while rendering both of them create 2 child nodes inside the div container. But IE creates only one child. So trying to remove the 2nd child fails.

Fix: Instead of trying to remove the child of the container, I created another object for the parent of the container. And then removed the container itself from its parent.

I also removed an ugly outline coming around the red label in Firefox and IE.

Feel free to report any bugs you encounter while sprintasking.

Sprintask Launched

Sprintask has been launched with minimal features. One feature which I really wanted to do before uploading was the ability to login. I may need couple of weekends to finish it. I want to give a new verb name for what you do in sprintask.vibgy.com. How about you sprintask in sprintask.vibgy.com?

Sprintask Launch
Sprintask Launch

Open the link http://sprintask.vibgy.com and click on the gray colored bar to start with. It turns yellow to show its editable now. Type in an activity/task you are doing and press enter. Now it turns green marking that you’ve started doing that particular activity. A new gray bar is added to add new tasks. After sometime when you want to stop the current activity, just click on the green bar. It turns red marking the sprintask has been stopped. Use the whitearea (which shows ‘current chunk time taken’, ‘total time taken’, ‘end time’, ‘start time’, ‘task description’) to take reports. Simply copy it and paste in a spreadsheet to get fancy charts. Play along by adding new sprintasks, starting and stopping them. Have fun and become more productive.

Post your comments and recommendations in this blog post to improve the tool. Happy sprintasking…

Sprintask Bug Fixed: Wrong month in whitearea

Sprintask Error Fixed
Sprintask Error Fixed

Bug: When the task details are added to the white area, the month was showing 1 for Feb, which should be 2.

Cause: In javascript getMonth() function returns a number representing the month starting from 0 to 11. But this is not how we understand month.

Fix: Put getMonth()+1 in the script

Please feel free to report any bugs in any of the blog entries related to sprintask. Check out the premier: http://sprintask.vibgy.com/premier

iPad For Artists

By now you probably would be familiar about iPad. Its a new product line introduced by Apple in Tablet PC industry. Simply put, its a jumbo version of iPhone. It won’t fit inside your shirt pocket, but you can carry it where ever you carry a diary/notepad/journal/planner.  For a digital artist, how helpful this technological innovation can be? Let’s assess the possibilities:
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