So Long, Batman

Bruce had thought Batman was not needed anymore, but Bruce was wrong, just as I had been wrong. The Batman had to come back. I suppose he always will.

Christopher Nolan says goodbye to The Dark Knight. Saves User Passwords in Plain Text

With the recent wave of websites and services that have been compromised, I was pretty much surprised to find out that a website like saves the users’ passwords in plain text.

This news was surprising for me specially because it’s run by a well established company – TV18’s Bigtree Entertainment. When I clicked on the “forgot your password?” link on BookMyShow and entered my registered email address, I got an email giving out my existing password in plain text.

Now this is not a joke for a website like BookMyShow. It just emailed me back my own password! I checked whether the website’s Security Policies states using any form of encryption or not (read Term 11.4) and this is what I found:

The Password entered by you is transmitted in one- way encrypted form to our database and stored as such. Thus the Password will not be known even to Bigtree.

Go ahead BookMyShow, paste the usual Terms & Conditions written by a bunch of cheap lawyers and lie to your users. Even play with their personal details!

A website storing passwords in plain text literally means that your passwords are there, simply waiting for someone to come and take it. It doesn’t even matter if you’ve created the strongest possible password or not. So if you have an account with BookMyShow, I suggest you either change your passwords to a temporary one till (and if) they fix this issue.

Tip for BookMyShow: For starters (sic) follow this article and at least deploy some basic MD5 hashing and salting!

UPDATE: Some of the readers pointed out below that they could be deploying basic encryption (and not hashing). Using this method is not really efficient as the encryption key also has to be stored in a database and if the hackers get their hands on that key, they can decrypt the passwords. In and of itself this encryption method may not mean much; coupled with weak site security it can tantamount to a bigger issue.

Google Public DNS Server Locations List

Most of us Geeks do a lot of tests to find out which DNS Resolution Service is best for our homes or workplaces. Well after doing some tests I figured out that OpenDNS is the best for me as it resolves addresses faster that any other DNS Resolution Services, including Google’s Public DNS.

While deciding the DNS Resolution Service, I wanted to find out which service had their servers closest to my location. OpenDNS has a nice System Status page which shows the server list along with their uptime status. For every service provider it was easy for me to find out their server locations, except Google’s Public DNS. I was surprised at how they went ahead and put the Server Locations list. Now it’s very easy to do a simple Google search and find out what those IATA Airport codes stand for, most of which you could even guess if you had some geographic sense, but why make it so complicated? They could have instead, made it easy for everybody by creating a simple listing with the respectful city/country names in full.

Till they do that, I complied a simpler table of the subnets from which Google Public DNS sends requests to authoritative nameservers:

Subnet Airport Code Location GRU Sao Paulo, Brazil TPE Taipei, Taiwan BRU Brussels, Belgium BER Berlin, Germany LPP Lappeenranta, Finland GRQ Groningen, Netherlands GRQ Groningen, Netherlands MRN Morganton, North Carolina, USA MRN Morganton, North Carolina, USA ATL Atlanta, GA, USA ATL Atlanta, GA, USA BRU Brussels, Belgium CBF Council Bluffs, Iowa, USA CBF Council Bluffs, Iowa, USA CHS Charleston, SC, USA CHS Charleston, SC, USA DLS The Dalles, Oregon, USA DLS The Dalles, Oregon, USA DUB Dublin, Ireland FRA Frankfurt, Germany HKG Hong Kong KUL Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia LPP Lappeenranta, Finland TUL Tulsa, OK, USA CBF Council Bluffs, Iowa, USA
2404:6800:4001::/48 KUL Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
2404:6800:4005::/48 HKG Hong Kong
2404:6800:4008::/48 TPE Taipei, Taiwan
2607:f8b0:4001::/48 CBF Council Bluffs, Iowa, USA
2607:f8b0:4002::/48 ATL Atlanta, GA, USA
2607:f8b0:4003::/48 TUL Tulsa, OK, USA
2607:f8b0:400c::/48 CHS Charleston, SC, USA
2607:f8b0:400d::/48 MRN Morganton, North Carolina, USA
2607:f8b0:400e::/48 DLS The Dalles, Oregon, USA
2800:3f0:4001::/48 GRU Sao Paulo, Brazil
2a00:1450:4001::/48 FRA Frankfurt, Germany
2a00:1450:4008::/48 BER Berlin, Germany
2a00:1450:400b::/48 DUB Dublin, Ireland
2a00:1450:400c::/48 BRU Brussels, Belgium
2a00:1450:4010::/48 LPP Lappeenranta, Finland
2a00:1450:4013::/48 GRQ Groningen, Netherlands

UPDATE: According to this post by Google, they added new subnets in Australia, India, Japan and Nigeria recently but are yet to update us with the subnet details. I will update this table as soon as I get the new info.

How I Maxed Out My Dropbox Referral Bonus Space With AdWords (Spending Just $5)

I have been an old user of Dropbox since they’ve been in the beta run. Last month I reached my free space limit of 2 GB + 1 GB (from referrals). The thing is that I’ve been dependent on them so much that I can’t stop using it. So I Googled for ways to get more referrals on Dropbox and using AdWords came up to be the best known solution for it. Here is how I maxed up my referral bonus limit by using just about $5 on AdWords.

1. Upgrading Dropbox to Education Account
If you’re a student or still have access to your .edu email address, Dropbox doubles the amount of referral bonuses to 500MB per friend and up to 16GB of extra space for Dropbox Basic accounts and 32GB for Dropbox Pro accounts for students. Simply enter your .edu email address here and start earning more referral bonus.

For people who do not have a .edu email you’ll be earning the following referral bonus according to your account:

  • Basic (free) accounts get 250MB per referral and can earn up to 8 GB, for a total of 10 GB.
  • Pro accounts get 500MB per referral and can earn up to 16 GB of extra space.

2. Getting $US75 in AdWords Advertising Voucher?

  • Option 1 (For U.S. or Canadian residents only): Click this link and fill out the form with your details to request a $US75 AdWords Advertising Voucher.
  • Option 2 (For Indians): Call 1860 266 6622 anytime between 9am and 6pm on weekdays and get a Rs. 2,500 voucher. More details here.
  • Option 3: My company passes on US$50 vouchers to random people! For more details visit this page. We can setup everything for you (even the Dropbox campaign).

3. Setting Up The AdWords Account
I already had my account setup but for those who need help, here is how to do it.

  • After getting a hold of the free AdWords advertising voucher, sign in to Google Adwords and select Billing Preferences (under the Billing tab).
  • Complete the full setup process by providing your correct details, including your your credit card number. Don’t worry about the card information as you won’t be charged yet.
  • Some people need to complete a few more verification steps depending on the country they are setting up their account in.
  • After completing the setup process, visit the Billing Preferences page once again and enter your AdWords Prmotional Code under “Promotional Codes” and click “Redeem”.

Now that your account is credited with free credits, you can use those credits to get more Dropbox referrals!

4. Setting Up The “Dropbox” Campaign
I setup a new campaign and chose to advertise in “All Countries and Territories” and selected “English, French, German, Japanese and Spanis”” as my languages. Under Bidding and Budget, I set a budget of $US10/day and put the Campaign End date to a date in the next week so that I could decide after 7 days whether I wanted to continue the campaign or not.

After setting up the campaign, I setup a few keywords (my list of keywords) and found that get dropbox, dropbox download, online backup free, free online storage and dropbox space worked best for me.

For Ad units, I setup 5 text-ad units as shown below.

5. Now Just Enjoy The GBs Rolling Up!
I saw my referrals coming in as soon as my ads got approved in less than an hour. I had to run the campaign for 2 weeks in order to completely reach my referral bonus limit of 16GB.

In total, I now have 18.88GB (few gigs given to me during their beta run and a few for finishing their account setup process completely). I spent a total of 270.75 Indian rupees (~US$5.27) for my Dropbox referral campaign which is way less than paying for the Pro account worth $99.00/year.

Angry Birds on BlackBerry

Are you a BlackBerry user? Wish you could play Angry Birds while suffering the worldwide BlackBerry service outage?

Here’s your golden opportunity! The survival of the Angry Birds is at stake.

Angry Birds on BlackBerry

[via tractorcrusher]

Did Verisign Steal Axis Bank’s Logo?

In 2010, Verisign sold its authentication business unit to Symantec (the makers of the Norton Anti-Virus suite) for $1.28 billion. Verisign manages two of the world’s 13 Internet root servers.

Shortly after the deal was made, Verisign introduced a new “V” logo.

Verisign's Old and New Logo

What I can’t believe is that it looks like a complete rip-off of Axis Bank‘s logo; just flipped vertically.

Axis Bank Logo

The Axis Bank logo was introduced in the year 2007 after the bank, one of India’s largest private sector lender, announced that it would be changing its name from UTI Bank and that it would be exercising a complete re-branding of the bank.

The World’s Greatest CEO Resigns. Steve Jobs is now Chairman of the Board.

Hate to see the world’s greatest CEO resign just a couple of hours ago. Hope Apple, and the new CEO Tim Cook, still maintains the class and valor Steve Jobs put in the company more than anything in his life. The computer, tablet as well as the mobile industry wouldn’t be what it is today without him.

Here’s to Steve Jobs, the new Chairman of the Board of Apple Inc.!

Source: Letter From Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs Resigns as CEO of Apple

Not Just Another Samsung Galaxy S II Review

So here it comes, finally! The review of my Samsung Galaxy S II (formerly, Galaxy S2). Wanted to use it for at least 2-3 weeks before writing mine so that I could write an honest and actual review on this amazing and stunning feat of engineering.

Oh before I proceed, a few things I would like to clarify, I will be benchmarking a few of the features with a Nokia N900 and a brand new White iPhone 4. I DO NOT hate Apple as many people might say, it’s just that I don’t approve of the iPhone as it locks to down to one single system, is not developer friendly, is not OPEN, too much of control by Apple, fooling people by introducing old technology and features and then falsely claiming them as their own “inventions”, etc.

Now with the review. The marvelous handset was announced by Samsung in February at the Mobile World Congress 2011. Samsung has packed some of the most powerful smartphone hardware we’ve seen yet.

Nuts and Bolts
As soon as I opened the box, my first reaction was OMG! It’s friggin thin! At first I was scared to hold it so that I don’t break it. Although the body is made out of plastic surprisingly the body is really tight well built. So no fear of cracking the phone while it’s in the pocket too. The phone’s main element of making it tough to break is not the plastic body, but the Gorilla Glass, it’s screen. Close to impossible to scratch or break, or so they claim.

The beautiful 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display panel is the best part. Samsung has done some special coating on this Gorilla Glass which resists the usual fingerprint marks much better than the other two benchmark phone. The touch responsiveness is simply flawless.

The phone has a 1.2GHz ARMv7 dual-core processor which makes it faster than any of the two benchmarks. No lagging no nothing. Processing is simply super fast. More on it below.

Super AMOLED Plus what?
The first thing I tested out after setting up my phone was test it’s viewing angle and guess what, it was impressive. While the N900 was nowhere as good as the Galaxy S II, the iPhone’s viewing angle seemed similar.

In front of the Galaxy S II, iPhone 4’s screen seemed so tiny, purely because of the 4.3 inches screen which Sammy has put in for the handset.

The screen is awesome, so battery life should suck?
As the the panel is an OLED panel, the display only illuminates the pixels that are needed to actively display non-black content instead of using one single back-light as traditional LCD screens do. This generates better blacks than the other LCS panels and reduced the battery consumption by a noticeable percentage.

I use my handset with Twitter, Gmail, Talk running in the background all the time with usual gaming and web browsing through Wi-Fi and EDGE.

Oh BTW, it was really cool finding most the paid iPhone games totally free of cost in the Android Market. Yes they do have ads in it but I do not care, they don’t pop-up in the middle of the screen when I am playing the games, they are just shown in the Menus or while the transaction from one level to another is going on. What I care about is, they are FREE of cost.

Anyway, on a usual day the handset survives for an average of 20 hours on battery. But then it’s a new battery so the hours should decrease by a couple of hours after a few months. Charging takes more time than the other two benchmark handsets but it gives more battery hours too. The N900 runs for an average of 11 hours while the iPhone barely survives through the day.

It has a speakers too?
Compared to the two benchmarks, the N900 won here with Nokia delivering two good quality loud speakers. The Galaxy S II was a little louder than the iPhone but nothing great. But wait, Sammy bundles a nice pair of in-ear headphones that make up to the mediocre speakers. External noise isolation and good audio delivery. It comes with an in-line mic that functions as play and pause buttons while playing a video clip or listening to music.

It can shoot?
Oh yeah! It has a rear-facing 8 megapixel and front-facing 2 megapixel camera. Shooting others has never been so much fun.

The stills came out very crisp at 3264×2448 pixels with almost perfect white balance, contrast and color.

The Full HD (1080p) video recording was also amazing. Only downside was being controlling your hand movements as the handset is quite thin and light. But once you get a hold of it, maybe you’ll be able to make your very own home-version of Avatar.

I have to mention this, the handset did not show any signs of lagging while processing the stills or the Full HD videos. It is very impressive. I shot a 5 minute Full HD video and as soon as I clicked the record button to stop the recording, vola, the video was ready. No slowdown. For the shooting a low resolution video took time to process with processing failures on random videos and and for the iPhone it took about 3-4 seconds to process the 720p videos it supports.

Even switching between camera modes was fast. And of course, the suite comes with an impressive Photo Editor too for those of you who edit on the move. I prefer using Photoshop (which also comes for the Android OS, free).

The camera includes a lot of features so you could sit for a couple of hours and play with it happily. The custom focus is also a clean feature. Just click the place you want to focus on and it’s done.

Oh wait, it’s Android. Glitches?
I must say, out of all the Androids I have seen and used, this one is by far the best one. The Galaxy S II has Android 2.3.3 and till now I have not been able to find any life-threatening issues. It is so smooth and easy to use with the amazing screen. There is no performance slowdowns while using the phone. It’s menu, it’s home-screens with live-updating widgets, actually anything on this screen, feels so good.

Yeah yeah, what about browsing?
Simply the best experience till now. With the biggest screen compared to the two benchmark phones, browsing is an amazing experience on this marvelous handset. While the N900’s scrolling is B.A.D., surprisingly scrolling on the Galaxy S II is much much more better and easier to do than that of the iPhone 4’s. While the iPhone scrolled very slowly and responding late to the finger movement, stopping as soon as you stop scrolling; scrolling on the Galaxy S II was so smooth. It responded almost immediately to the touch and scrolling was very smooth, stopping slowly after the finger has been removed.

I tried scrolling to the bottom of the page on all the handsets while visiting the same website on the handsets, the Galaxy S II was the smoothest and the fastest, while the iPhone took a lot more finger scrolls to go down south. As a matter of fact, although the N900 doesn’t carry a good screen, it was faster scrolling down compared to the iPhone, but processing the page where it scrolled to was very slow for it, making the iPhone faster overall compared to the N900.

Even re-orienting the screen from portrait to landscape or vice-versa is very fast.

Oh and it supports, Flash. And no, it does not slow down the handset nor does it decrease the battery life by a lifetime although it does take some time for the flash elements to load.

Can I talk to the phone?
You might think, what sort of a question is that? Well yeah, you can actually talk to the phone. And guess what? It listens to you more than your girlfriend does. Open up the Voice Command application while you are pressing the gas pedal and you can literally make the phone do anything you want to by talking to it. Call or Text somebody, update you Twitter Status, ask the phone to navigate you to some place, write and email, open an app, write a memo, play some music, etc. all while you are driving!

What else?
Well actually there are loads of more things but it would take me at least 100 more pages to write about them.

Sharing over DLNA fairly simple with Samsung’s own AllShare app through which you can just browse through your device’s music, video and pictures and access content on the fly.

But what about the usual iPhone v/s Galaxy S II?
This had to come. I will try to be very fair out here. As one of my friends said, the Galaxy S II was created because of iPhone 4. I agreed. Now I can say, as the Galaxy S II has created a new record in engineering and design, the iPhone 5 will be the reason of the Galaxy S II. And as I say, the cat-fight between these companies is actually good for us, the consumers.

I don’t want to go into much details about the comparison as convincing loyal Apple users is as everybody know very difficult. And they do tend to become angry when anybody say anything about their phones. If you really do want a comparison, you can find loads of them on the Internet. I would just ask the iPhone users are see just for once out of the box and notice the other “real inventions” the other companies are coming up with.

Again, I am not an Apple hater, mom always taught me how an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but I was never taught how it also locks you down and not see the world outside the box.

Android was created because of Apple. Because the creators wanted the actual users to be in control of their own phones, because the users wanted to install the kind of apps they wanted to, not the apps censored by somebody else. Because they wanted an open world.

Android is having a huge impact on other companies including Apple’s new iOSndroid (iOS 5). The “new” Notification Center, Twitter Integration, Over the Air updates, PC Free, Reminders, Widgets on the Lock Screen, Photo Editing, Tabbed Browsing, etc where all “borrowed” from Android.

I don’t say don’t copy/borrow. That is called improvisation and it is always good for us consumers. But at least don’t blame others of blatant “copying” 9specially when your own phone is made from that company’s parts) when you yourself are copying others.

As Sam Cater at AppStorm came up with:

Apple rarely comes out with anything truly brand new or unique (OK, the iPhone was an exception to this) but they are very good at marketing — specifically, making people believe that they came out with it first. Sure, Apple put their aesthetic touch and flair to it all, which is very nice! However it doesn’t disguise those features we have come to love on Android, and we spotted them quickly.

Apple is a design company, hats off to them for creating a real, usable interface for phones when they came out with the first iPhone. They did revolutionize the mobile handset industry. But there has not been a single new innovation from them after that. Same interface, hardware issues in almost all the newer handsets and not a single fully featured phone yet.

The market share says everything. Apple’s market share has been stagnant for 3 years now, while Android’s market share has risen by over 30% and is the most used OS in most of the countries now.

But, people say using an iPhone is easier to use.
All the handsets are are easy to use. It’s just that people take time to change to a new interface. Like Windows users take time to adjust the Mac world, vice-versa. Like Toyota drivers take time to shift to using a BMW. Or anything. Android has different features than the iPhone, a different interface, so you will need time. For an old Android user, he might say, using an Android is easier than using an iPhone.

People also say downloading applications is not secure as they steal personal data?
Yes it is true, but only for people who use the unofficial app markets. This would be the same case for people using unofficial app markets on their iPhones. So it is nothing different. Unofficial app markets sometime host apps which have been rejected by the official Android Market on security grounds. If people complain about how their phone is effected, ask whether they are using any application downloaded from outside the official Android Market, if their answer is yes, simply ignore them.

Overall, what’s your say?
Want to hold something different? Want to experience something which is by far greater than any of the phones out there, buy the Galaxy S II. It is the best you can get anywhere around the world. It did break a few world sales records made previously by the iPhone. The fastest selling phone on the planet. So there actually is something in it. The Android ecosystem is growing faster and faster, might be the right time to switch.

Psst.. Video!

Google asked me whether I have ever tried sending an email from Gmail!

A few days ago I received an invitation to take a Google Apps survey.

One of the questions they asked me was quite intriguing. I know they didn’t mean to be dumb, but yeah I had my share of laugh reading that option.

Well as the caption says, I have never tried sending an email from Gmail. Seriously.

The Great Firewall Of China. Explained.

Ever wanted to know how the Great Firewall of China functioned?

Australia’s ABC gives us a detailed information on how the largest and the most “innovative” shield on the globe works and blocks Internet traffic in the land of the biggest Internet population, in the world.