Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Cost effective Portable Broadband Internet

Many friends frequently asks about a smart / cost effective way to access internet in their laptop. There are lot of portable Broadband Internet Service Providers world wide. Here in Kerala there are Reliance, Tata Tele-services and lots of mobile service providers have introduced such broad band internet services. But when and performance matters, there is very little options in Portable Broadband Internet Services. Very recently I was happened to know a comparatively-good option in Portable Internet. This particular internet connection is based on EDGE technology in mobile phones.

What is EDGE

EDGE stands for Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution. It is a digital mobile phone technology that allows improved data transmission rates as a backward-compatible extension of GSM. It is also known as Enhanced GPRS (EGPRS). Basically EDGE is a superset to GPRS and can function on any network with GPRS deployed on it, provided the carrier implements the necessary upgrade.

TATA-DOCOMO's EDGE based internet plan

Yes. In Kerala, Docomos internet plans are so cheep. Rs. 48/- for 2 GB download per month. If you are using it with GNU/Linux operating system its performance is really great. A file can be downloaded 15-30 Kbps which means you have a bandwidth of 120-240 Kbps. And most amazing is, if you have a good signal strength, you will get a stable internet. Please do not compare the speed with leased lines and fixed DSL lines.

Instructions for TATA-DOCOMO internet using with Gnu/Linux
As the old times, what we did for dial up connections. We used wvdial. Yes! wvdial reloaded.

Use wvdialconf to set up the modem.

nano /etc/wvdial.conf and add the following things

Phone = *99*# [ Phone = *99# for normal phones | *99***1# for Nokia phones]
Password = internet
Username = internet
Baud = 57600
stupid mode = 1
TATA-DOCOMO provide Linux support for GPRS!

Last time when I called TATA Docomo's call centre, they told me that they can support GPRS users in Gnu/Linux platform. However, there will be minimal issues you will face when you use such a connection through Gnu/Linux. Here is a list of the issues I faced

I am using a dual sim phone. There may be conflicts of default SIM.

The service provider has to send us a configuration sms which has to be installed in your handset. If the configuration file corrupted, you won't be able to connect the internet.

Here is a sample of /etc/wvdial.conf
[Dialer Defaults]

Init1 = ATZ
Init2 = ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0
Modem Type = USB Modem
Baud = 57600
New PPPD = yes
Modem = /dev/ttyACM0
ISDN = 0
Phone = *991#
Password = internet
Username = internet

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How to retrieve youtube videos from your browser's cache?

I'll tell you some working methods to download youtube videos withoug having any particular software. But before that just read about the main issues.

I know you have tried many ways to download your favourite youtube video to your hard drive. you may have used many tools for that. But suddenly on one day, your fav tools stop working. Why? Because, youtube changes their technology time to time in caching the videos in your browser. There are many Gnu/Linux based application to download youtube. Clive, gvdown are best examples. My favourite application was Clive. Anyway Clive is no longer works in my machine. To use Clive any longer, I have to upgrade it or re-install it. So I decided to get them without any software. How could I do that?

Whatever file to run in your computer from the internet, it has to cache it first in the local system. May it be a png or gif, flv or mp3 it has to do so. So the site, caches the file in the temp location of your system. In the case of youtube video, you have to find where the file is cached in your local system. Its that simple. Once you find where is the file is cached, you almost got the file. Before proceeding you have to understand the following things to operate.
  1. Find out the way to view all cache files in your Mozilla Firefox browser
  2. Find out the way to view all cache files in your Computer (Gnu/Linux or Windows or Mac etc)
As of today, you can retrieve the video simply if you correctly follow the following steps
  1. Open Mozilla Firefox and in the address bar type as "about:cache" (without quotes)
  2. In "Memory cache device", click on "List Cache Entries"
  3. Using Firefox "Find" tool, locate your youtube video.
  4. Click on a "Key" heavy file size. (say 3725647 bytes)
  5. Then you will get enough info on that particular key. Just Right-click on the key and save to the hard disk
  6. By default, the file name will be "videoplayback". Rename it with a .flv extension
  7. Play it with Mplayer or vlc player
  8. If you wish to convert as mp3 or any other formats, use ffmpg.
  9. The command to convert as
    ffmpeg -i inpuvvideofile.flv outputaudiofile.mp3
  10. Thats all. Any doubts?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Interaction with RMS

It was on 9th of September 2010. I was anxiously waiting for this day to attend the function in which Richard Matthew Stallman delivering a speech at St. Joseph's College of Engineering and Technology, Palai. The speech was great. I Started from home very early along with my friends at ILUG Cochin. We reached there some hours before the speech. The function was organized amazingly by the Computer Engineering Students. The students started a FSUG (Free Software User Group) in their college and they named it as
RMS explained concepts and philosophy of the revolutionary os GNU/Linux. His two hour lecture was really great. He talked about Free-software. He talked about freedom. The ceremonial funny drama had taken place here too, RMS wore a black gown and an old CD as cap and said “I am St. Ignucius of the Church of Emacs and I bless your computer, my child. Long may you run.” In the Q&A session, I wrote a question to him and he answered it very passionately. The question was this -" you totally against to Open Source initiatives and FOSS. The question is asked in the background of a project like OPEN DRM". He answered that he is not AGAINST. Whatever the term may be, the core issue is FREEDOM. After answering the question, he added that "This is a good question". And I did know that he may comment something good to that question, because I have read there were a project like "Open DRM" was in serious consideration in some open source communities, which RMS clearly expressed his strong disapproval against such stupid projects. Even there were some Open Malwares! That question can be extended to such distros like Damn Vulnerable Linux (DVL).

After the speech, ILUG Cochin got a chance to meet RMS in person. We took some photographs with him. Anyway, it was my first experience with such an eminent person in the Free Software Community, and the experience was great.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How to recover your grub?

In a GNU/Linux installed system, the default boot record is handled by GRand Unified Boot Loader or GRUB. Originally written by Erich Boleyn, Grub is considered as one of the best boot loaders available. In many circumstances, a boot record can be changed, i.e., another OS installation is one among them. For example, if you install /upgrade Windows 7 in a GNU/Linux installed machine, the GRub will be replaced by Windows' own boot record. From that point you will not be able to load GNU/Linux from your system. Because Windows' boot loader will never load another OS. However, you can easily recover your grub with only two or three lines of commands. It's very easy, it's not so techy. All you need is to have is a Live CD/DVD of GNU/Linux such as Knoppix. Here is the way to recover your grub.
Note: This
weblog is written for Debian based text mode GRub recovery
1. Boot the system with Knoppix
2. type fdisk -l
Hit enter to get a rough idea about your partitions and corresponding file systems. And just note down the Linux file systmes in a piece of paper.
3. Type grub

4. Type find /boot/grub/stage1 Hit enter
Note: If you get error message (Error 15: File not found) try another location as,
find /grub/stage1
Hit enter You'll probably get a reply from either of these commands just like (hd0,6)

Note: (hd0,6) is an example. hd0 is the drive; ,6 is the partition.
5. Type setup (hd0)
Hit enter
Note: you only give drive number only; not the device number
6. You'll see some lines of codes like
Checking if "/boot/grub/stage1" exists ... no
Checking if "/grub/stage1" exists ... yes
Checking if "/grub/stage2" exists ... yes
Checking if "/boot/e2fs/stage1-5" exists ... yes
Checking if "/boot/e2fs/stage1-5 (hd0)" exists ...
17 sectors embedded succeeded
Running "install /grub/stage1 (hd0)(hd0)1+17P (hd0,6) /grub/stage2 /grub/menu.lst"..

IF you can read this message, your grub has recovered.
Now reboot your system.
Remove Knoppix CD.
Boot your hard disk.
You have recovered your GRand Unified Boot Loader.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

andLinux. A great step to Linux-for-all

As an ardent Linux fan, I was always behind Debian for more than last 5 years. I loved the free software concept. And I tried my best to use only free software. As a graphic designer, this would not been always practical. So I had to make compromises several times. I am working in an advertising agency, where they are using only Windows client machines to do the graphic part. I was the person who initiated to move the network system under Linux (Debian). Everybody were happy in using a trouble-free networking environment.
But I had to use Windows to run some graphic software like Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash etc. Even a dual boot system has its own limitations. It is not practical to switch your system frequently. I was dreaming of a virtual Linus inside Windows, just like Wine. There may be a Line as a counterpart for Wine, I thought and even I googled for Line. I heard about cygwin. Tried to load it to run fontforge. However I kept a Knoppix 5.3 DVD always in my table draw. Whenever I want for Linux, I load it.
One of my favourite Linux applications was Kmymoney2. This software taught me the way to track my income and expenses and helped me a lot to control the spending. I could use Kmymoney only in my home because it does not have a Windows version (but Gnucash has). I inspired many of my friends about Kmymoney and some of them got in tune with it. One day Mr. Saju George (he was my teacher in Debian) called me up and told me that a link has been forwarded to my inbox. The link was of a new distro of Linux which can run inside Windows so that I can use Kmymoney2 in my office computer.
I downloaded it and installed it immediately. Great. Everything was really great. It was not a Virtual Machine as I expected. It was a clean Linux. You can add packages with apt-get install. I installed Kmymoney with its console. But a problem. To run andLinux, you must have admin rights in Windows. Normal user can only get the FLTK console only. I tried all the possible methods, but could not run in normal user mode. But still I think, this can be configured soon. I am really happy anyway. Its a great step in spreading Linux to commoners...