Marketing Dichotomy

If you have observed adverts for mobile and telecom companies, you will note that they advertises for plans and handsets where they talk/mention about sharing music, movies, videos, apps and media.

Then the same companies turn around and block access to websites, throttle bandwidth and send infrigement letters to the users when the users try to use media in the way it was advertised by the media and telecom companies.

If this a classic case of 'right hand not knowing what the left hand does'? OR Does this show compartmentalization of business functions that look towards revenue maximization, even while being aware of this 'duplicity'?

Move to Wordpress

For quite some time, I have been contemplating a move from LiveJournal to Wordpress. For other reason but to be able to get some statistics about how the blog is being accessed/read.

After much deliberation, I have created a blog on Wordpress. While I plan to make that blog the primary one going forward, I also plan to keep posting here. In case you have missed something here, do visit on Wordpress.

My new blog - TwentyMegaHertz at

Secure File Delete – Serious FUD

A lot of people are worried about privacy in today’s computing world, as they rightly should be. One of the ways to ensure privacy is to erase files ‘securely’. There are many software tools that help do this activity. For many of the tools, their claim to fame or in this case claim to ‘more security’ is the number of times a file is overwritten.

This is pure FUD – Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt ( and

To have a file securely deleted, it is enough to overwrite it once, before deleting it. Yes. You read it correctly. ONCE is ENOUGH.

The procedure for secure deletion is very simple. Have a program that overwrites the selected file using an ’1' character or any other character of your choice. Once that is done, delete the file. Now, there is not chance that the file can be recreated, even after recovery.

Not convinced? Visualize this situation. You have a text document that contains your banking information – user names and passwords.Now suppose the size of this file was 500 Kilobytes. Using the secure erase method described above, simply overwrite the text files with the ’1' character. Before deleting the file, try to open it and verify if you can recover your banking information. On opening the file, you will find a text file filled with 500 Kilobytes worth of ’1”s – the file will contain nothing but ’1's. Go ahead and delete the file. Now use deleted file recovery software to ‘undelete’ the file. After recovery, open the file and see what you get back – a file full of ’1”s or your bank user names and passwords.

While I described this method for a text file, it will also work for files like .doc, .xls, .pptx, .psd, to name a few. The downside of overwriting such files is that if you try and open them using Word or Excel or Powerpoint or Adobe Photoshop, these programs will not be able to do so, as the file formats no longer match their expectation. For verification, you can drop these files into Notepad and it will happily display your data – loads of ’1's. Now go ahead and delete the file with no worries.

Still not convinced? build an application using the code I will post in the entry that will follow and try it for yourself.

Sometimes, simple solutions beat the totally overblown claims of many comparative products.

Ruskin Bond - Wonderful Stories

Last week, my son - as part of their English class in school - was asked to read any story by Ruskin Bond and write a short version of the same. As we did not have any book at hand, the first thing we did was get some references on the Internet. While surfing, I found the story 'Tiger in the House' on a short story blog. I liked that story.

While going through the list of books, one short story titled 'The boy who broke the bank' raised my curiosity.

Then we got a book from the library. I found that the book had the 'The Boy Who ...' story, which I read immediately. I followed that up by reading another story, 'The Cherry Tree'. While I liked 'The Cherry Tree' for its philosophical vein, I simply loved 'the boy who ...'.

It surely is one of the most wonderful stories I have read in recent time. My interest in reading the remaining stories is such that I am willing to put down the book I am reading right now, titled 'iCon' (an unauthorized biography of Steve Jobs).

Millions Dollar Monopoly

Recently, ICANN released information regarding the top levels domains that they plan to launch in 2013. The information released listed some of the top level domains asked for and the companies that were asking for it. The document makes for very interesting read. For related articles, refer PC World, Engadget and Computer World, to name a few.

As I had written in an earlier post, I believe that this initiative by ICANN is nothing but a money grab for generic names. More so because it is the controller of names and has recently been converted into a not-for-profit organization (earlier it was with US government).

Let us look at the money. It seems that Google has bid for 100 top level domains. With each domain registration costing $185K, it is simply horrifying to believe that Google is willing to spend $18 Million on buying these top level domain names. Next to Google is Amazon, which is bidding for 75 domains - another 10 Million+. Remember that this cost does not include yearly maintenance fees.

I seriously believe that spending this amount of money is simply a waste. If you believe that $18M is small change for Google, then consider the amount of money for all the top level domains - $350 Million. How's that for loose change?

People may argue that ICANN needs the money to survive. But some of the top level domains are so generic that they could be applicable to multiple businesses. For example, Google is bidding for '.blog' and wants to redirect all traffic to Blogspot.

What is the point of selling a top level domain to a business when the sole purpose is to restrict the usage of the top level domain to the business, while excluding the competition. Is this not another way of saying ''?

Do Images Look Better on Mobile?

After taking pictures using my mobile, I have noted that the image look 'much better' on the mobile as compared to when viewed on the desktop/laptop screen. While I realize that this 'much better' is very subjective in nature. I have been wondering if this observation is true or just appears to be so due to many factors.

Do the following factors influence the image viewing experience?

  • Is it because mobile screens use a different LCD technology?
  • Is it because of screen size? Mobile screens are smaller in size and hence the fuzziness/softness of images is not visible at smaller size?
  • Is it because mobile screens are brighter?

Is it simply perception and 'all in the mind', rather than being a physical effect and in reality, there is no difference?

Desktop Background Image Change

For many years, I have been using a Windows theme with no background image. Instead of an image, I use a plain black background colour. I use this configuration at work and at home.

Earlier this week, the office desktop policy wrecked this. Now, the default windows background image is displayed. Because I operate Windows 7 in 'lean'/'performance' mode, the background image displayed is the Windows XP default image - green hills with a blue sky.

The reason why I do not use an image, is because I have noted that rendering large background images takes time and resoures on the computer. Though this argument is largely untrue for newer computers, I have got this scheme ingrained into my computer usage. Hence I continue to use it.

There is no way to change the image and get back my plain colour. @#@#$#$#$#@!@!@#

Genetic Modification

There is a lot of discussion in the scientific world and the media regarding the topic of genetic modification. Scientists are modifying genes and there is a big hue and cry. Some groups are countering such modifications saying we are playing "God".

If we consider genetic modification, man has been playing "God" for many centuries. Consider a few examples

  • Wheat is a refined/genetically modified form of grass.
  • Various dog breeds that we have today have been created by genetic modification/cross breeding.
  • Mules are a result of genetic modification/cross breeding.

The major cause of concern for most people is that genetic modification that has been going on for centuries has been done on farms and has been mostly a 'hit or miss' activity. Now, these activities are being carried out on a mass scale in laboratories.

Given better techniques for gene modifications available today, many people may be correct in postulating that gene modification will lead to 'gene shopping' where people will try and modify their babies to have only specific genes, thus creating a new breed of 'superior' human beings.

Launching OC4J as Standalone Server

If you plan to run OC4J as a standalone server on local machine and it is the first time you are doing it, a simple piece of advice. Don't!

The reason for this advice is that in most situations, you may have forgotten the password for the server.

To be able to access the server and use it, follow the steps given below

  1. Run start-oc4j with the "install" option to configure the server and most importantly the admin user name and password.
  2. If this does not work, go to j2ee\home\config directory and edit system-ja2n-data.xml file.
  3. In this file, remove the credentials element from oc4jadmin tag.

Now you can start the server.

SumatraPDF - a nice PDF viewer

Recently, while looking for a bookmark facility while reading PDF, I stumbled across SumatraPDF.

While reading long PDF documents, sometimes over a span of multiple days, it is a pain to remember the page number of the document. Is it not a simple feature to expect from a PDF reader, that I can put a bookmark for the page? Then I can return to the document and the last page read simply by opening the same document once again. As far as I know, Adobe Acrobat Reader does not support this feature (considering its installation is more than 100MB). Nor does my favorite PDF reader - Foxit PDF Reader.

This feature of returning to the last page of the document is similar to what is provided by book readers like iReader and FBReader, on my Android smartphone. While reading a book, I do not need to remember where I was. I simply open the document and read from where I left off.

This feature of continuing from the last read page is very useful. At home, my children borrow the mobile to read children stories. If I return to my book, the reader returns to my last page. Similarly, when my children are reading, they return back to their last page.

I understand that for this feature, the reader will need to store some information. But this is OK, considering how invaluable the feature is. When reading a long document, not only do you not need to remember the page number, but you also do not need to scroll to reach the correct page.

So, coming to SumatraPDF. On searching the Internet, I was given to understand that this application has a bookmarking feature. So I download the portable version (naturally) and gave it a try. The software does indeed have a bookmark facility. Hurrah!!!

For long PDF documents, I have switched to SumatraPDF. Not just PDF, SumatraPDF also reads Djvu and other ebook formats.

Sone pe suhaga!!!