Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Codecademy – Learn Python Programming Language for Beginners

Recently, Vibin Reddy wrote a nice post which reviewed a list of 5 websites to learn HTML/CSS. It is a great resource for beginners, especially if you are new to web designing. In the list was Codecademy, which is allows learners to complete exercises created by experts.

Codecademy has now rolled out resources to learn Python programming language for beginners.

Codecademy's Focus on Python

Python is popularly known for being a expressive language. The syntax is simple.  It is often used for scripting web servers or even network servers.

Codecademy has courses on JQuery, JavaScript, HTML/CSS. In a way this is a first foray into server side languages.

This seems like a good way to start your foray into learning Python.

In the future Codecademy is probably introducing the courses for Ruby language.

In case you are new to programming languages like PHP, you might want to check this tutorial series.

Also if you know more great resources for learning programming and Python in particular, do let me know through your comments.

Link: Python @ Codecademy

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Monday, 30 July 2012

Hangouts for Gmail Users: Smartest Move for Google+

A lot my friends from the blogosphere consider Google+ a flop show. But despite the flop status, it enjoys a very popular service called Hangouts. Google+ Hangouts allows users to video chat with many users at the same time. Hangouts are popular on tablets and even mobile phones.

Google has announced that Hangouts for Gmail users. The roll-out should happen over the next few days.

Hangouts on Gmail

Google's Smartest Move

It can be argued that Gmail is Google's most successful social product. It is used extensively for video and voice chat. I use Gmail's chat more often and regularly than Google+ to keep in touch with my friends.

Hangouts on Gmail, is a subtle way to get Gmail users get hooked to Google+.

It means you can now video chat with friends who are using a mobile phone or tablet and using the Google+ App even if you are using Gmail on your computer.

Google+ Hangouts has largely been seen as a fun product but it can be very a crucial product for offices, especially if they are on Google Apps. With Hangout Apps users can share desktop screens or work on a Google Doc while collaborating in teams.

With Hangouts being made available with Gmail, expect it to turn the heat up on Skype.

Do you think Hangouts for all Gmail users will give Google+ a boost? Do drop in your comments.

-- This Post Hangouts for Gmail Users: Smartest Move for Google+ is Published on Devils Workshop .

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Bit.ly releases Realtime to Show Viral Content

Bit.ly links are everywhere on Twitter, Facebook and what not. Though there are several URL shorteners out there, Bit.ly was one of the first apps in this field. Taking this as an advantage, they have released Realtime – a search engine which helps you find viral content.


The webapp is pretty straight forward, showing the Bit.ly links with most number of clicks.

That also means links which aren't using Bit.ly are missing out. You can also filter out the results using search term, topic, country, website and even social network.

For example, you'll be able to see what's trending on Facebook right now. It won't be that useful for Twitter, as you already have Twitter trends which is now tailored for you.

You can add the shown links to your Bitmarks with a click, which you can share or add notes afterwards. As always, you can add a '+' sign to any Bit.ly link to get deep statistics related to it.

Recently Digg was sold out to Betaworks for a mere half a million dollars, it tried to do pretty much same thing. Reddit on the other hand, is very strong because of its loyal community, though Bit.ly has taken a totally different approach to track viral content.

Realtime is a product of Bit.ly labs, so it's still in beta and invite-only. But you can always sign up for one with a Bit.ly account, I got mine very quickly and sadly there's no option to invite other people.

Link: Realtime

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Sunday, 29 July 2012

Using grep to removing comments, newlines/whitespace from config files

As configuration files are often full with comments and blank lines reading them inside shell become tedious! Sometimes you just want to quickly recap active configuration option only.

Mostly, comments starts with "#"(hash) or ";" (semicolon).

Below is a command I often use while debugging various configuration files.

For files having comment starting with ";" e.g. php.ini

egrep -v "^([[:space:]]?$|;)" /path/to/file

For files having comment starting with "#" e.g. my.cnf

egrep -v "^([[:space:]]?$|#)" /path/to/file

For lazy bumps… Following can take care of both of above! 

egrep -v "^([[:space:]]?$|;|#)" /path/to/file

You may create a local alias for above command! ;-)

Just in case you want to save output in a file… just add " > newfilename" to above commands. Passing original filename may not work (and it will be risky too!)

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Saturday, 28 July 2012

Online Tool to Quickly Create Terms of Service for Your Website

Creating websites on WordPress and having your personal domain is get a lot more easier than before. But most users are not aware of creating a 'Terms of Service' policies. That is because we are not lawyers. TermsFeed is a online tool to create Terms of Services for your website within seconds.

Online Tool to Create Terms of Service

TermsFeeds Features

Just visit termsfeed.com and fill in the relevant details. The details are usually the name, address of your website along with the name of your company and country of residence.

A stock terms of service text is created. It is also prepared in HTML, so users can simple copy and paste it on their website.

If you like to check more automated TOS generators check of this list.

The stock text is good for blogs or basic personal websites. If you are carrying out other services which support e-commerce transactions, it is better to get TOS drawn up by a professional.

Try out TermsFeed and drop in your comments.

Link: TermsFeed

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Fix File Permission on Linux/Mac Server

Over the time, file permissions get messy on a linux/mac server. It really annoys (me) to see static files like images have 0755 i.e. executable permission set for them.

You can use following commands to fix permissions:

find . -type d -print0 | xargs -0 chmod 0775  find . -type f -print0 | xargs -0 chmod 0664

I found many scripts and tools to do this job. IMHO, above command does what we really need!

For WordPress

Ideally, on a wordpress site, no files under "wp-content/uploads" directory should be executable. In case of WordPress multisite, it will be "wp-content/blogs.dir" directory.

Its better to fix file-permissions periodically on your WordPress setup.

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Friday, 27 July 2012

Ubuntu Server + CrashPlan + Backup + Remote Management using Mac

We already use rsanpshot for backups. But its always feel safe to have more than one kind of backup.

For other type of backup, we use Crashplan. They support all major platforms, provides many options and have their service decently priced. It will take a separate post to list down all things I like about Crashplan so lets get back to work here!

What I wanted to do:

  1. Run Crashplan on Ubuntu Headless Server.
  2. Manage it using Crashplan desktop software on my Mac.
I guess you can start remote X session or something like that on a Ubuntu server but that will be overkill for server. Specially when you can achieve above tasks in just 2 minutes using following commands.


Crashplan on Ubuntu will need Java Runtime (JRE). Crashplan can install it itself but I prefer to have more control over which JRE I end up putting on our server. They have almost 5 version of JAVA for Ubuntu!

Anyway, just run following command as root user or with sudo access:

apt-get install openjdk-7-jre-headless

Install Crashplan

Next, we will install Crashplan directly.

Go to Crashplan site, select Linux version and copy-download link to grab latest Crashplan version. Crashplan 3.2.1 is latest as of July 2012.

Run following commands to download, uncompress and install Crashplan…

wget http://download.crashplan.com/installs/linux/install/CrashPlan/CrashPlan_3.2.1_Linux.tgz  tar -zxvf CrashPlan_3.2.1_Linux.tgz  cd CrashPlan-install  ./install.sh

Installer will ask you for many questions. Just keep hitting enter keys. Defaults options are all good to go ahead!

At this point Crashplan is running on your Ubuntu Server but it's not backing anything yet! We will use Crashplan's Desktop edition for Mac to start backup.

Remote Management UI (using Mac)

Go to Crashplan's site. This time download Crashplan for Mac & Install it.

If you have started Crashplan after installation, quit it.

Open terminal to edit Crashplan config file…

vim /Applications/CrashPlan.app/Contents/Resources/Java/conf/ui.properties

You can use any text-editor in case you don'e like Vim.

Find a line like below:


Change it to:


Note that we have changed port number from 4243 to 4200 (in case you thought we just uncomment it!).

Save file. Exit vim.

Create SSH Tunnel from your mac to remote Ubuntu server using a command-like below:

ssh -L 4200:localhost:4243 username@hostname

Replace username and hostname with your a real username on your hostname. You can put your server IP address also.

After you run above command, you will be logged into a shell on your server. Keep it running as its connecting your desktop crashplan to your server crashplan!

Finally, you can start your Crashplan on Mac and configure backup for your Ubuntu Server!

In case you are already using Crashplan to manage your Mac's local backup:

  • You will need to exit from shell (to break connection)
  • comment-out "servicePort" line in Crashplan config
  • Restrat Crashplan so it will work with Mac's local config

There is no easy-way to switch between local & remote machines. (Atleast at the time of writing this…)

Related posts:

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Complete Guide to Following London 2012 Olympics Online

At the time of writing this post the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics is only a few hours away.
The summer Olympics take place every four years and the current edition seems to be the most connected games ever.

The official website for the event (london2012.com) is very resourceful for looking up quick updates and also buying tickets if you are in and around London during the games.

But there is more to the online presence of the Olympics than just the official website. So I thought of creating a quick guide on how to follow all the official apps, pages, social media profiles and more.

Watch Events from London Olympics Live

The official Olympic Channel on YouTube will be have a live feed from various events streamed. The events can be toggled for timings and date based on preferences like country and sport. For instance if I select "India" and "Hockey", it shows me the all the dates of the hockey team's matches.

Link: Official Olympic Channel on YouTube

Olympics on Social Networks

One might say we are currently living in the golden age of social media. Sports and social media are a perfect match, as it allows people to show their support, discuss, praise and even criticize the performances of their favourite athletes.

The official Facebook page for London 2012, has videos, photos and updates on various events. The page can be "Liked" or simply "Subscribed" into a feed list. This could be useful to follow the updates in a more organized manner.

Link: Olympics on Facebook

The official Twitter account for the Olympics can be followed, but it also has a events page dedicated to the Olympics, which will show you prominent tweets on Olympics from the world over. The events page is basically an official hashtag for the event.

Link: Olympics Twitter Account | Twitter's Olympics Event Page

Google+ too has a official page for the London Olympics. The page has similar updates, photos and videos from the event. The advantage of using Google+ are Hangouts hosted with some famous athletes like Usain Bolt.

Link: Official Olympics Page on Google+

Official Mobile App for Olympics Results

Usually we do not bother to see in-depth analysis and news on a smart phone. But it surely is very handy to keep track of results of the various events.

There is a official results app for the Olympics on Android and iPhone.

Hopefully, this page equips you to follow the mega event online, over the next two weeks.

Do drop in your comments.

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[Free] Cooliris 3D Photo Wall is Available for iPads

Over two years ago, I was very impressed by the Cooliris photo wall browser extension for Chrome. It shows up your photos from various social media accounts in a layout that mimics a 3D wall.

The Cooliris Photo Gallery gives the impression of browsing in a 3D environment

Cooliris also has worked Gallery for Android app, which now has ended up being the current default photo gallery on Android. Cooliris is now targeting iPad and iPhone users with a shiny new photo viewing and sharing app.

Cooliris for iPhones / iPads

  • The app allows users to look through their photos on Facebook, iPad/iPhone photos and Instagram in their trademark 3D wall layout.
  • The photos can also be shared privately from the app.
  • The app allows unlimited and free photo uploads.
  • The web search for images is powered by Google Image search.

Video Demo of Cooliris on iPad

I loved the Cooliris 3D wall layout on my browser. But moving through it with the help of a mouse or keys is not as intuitive as it is with a tablet device like iPad.

If you are doing a lot of photo browsing and sharing from your iPads then Cooliris looks like a great app.

Link: Cooliris for iPad/iPhones

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Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Google Introduces Scientific Calculator on its Search Page

Google has many search tricks up its sleeve. For instance we use it as a calculator or even a unit converter. Google has recently updated both its calculator and unit converter to make it more interactive.

All you need to do to launch it is type in "2+2" on its search bar to fire up the new scientific calculator web app.

Considering how common scientific calculators are as free apps on almost all platforms, one could wonder what exactly was Google was trying to do.

But being a web based app on the search result page itself, the calculator can be used across platforms even on mobile phones and tablets.

Also as most smart phones and even Chrome on desktops allow voice input, one could potentially use this app without the need to type in stuff.

Google's Recently Upgraded Search Features

Google has recently introduced a lot of new and interesting search features. If you search for "1 kms = miles", it shows up new interactive unit converter. It means users do not need to type in search queries for converting units over and over again.

Another useful search feature is "google.com/movies". It will show up a list of movies playing in theaters from around your city.

Also you can check up on international flight arrivals and departures with its Flights search feature.

Along with these search features you might also like to check using different operators on the Google search.

Related posts:

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Tuesday, 24 July 2012

5 Great Sites for Beginners To Learn HTML/CSS

Recently, I'm on the verge of learning basic web designing, It all started with the idea of making a landing page for myself from scratch, without using sites like About.me. From there, I ended up discovering sites which can be very handy for beginners who're trying to code.HTML5

1. Codecademy

This is one of the best things I've stumbled upon this year. Codecademy is where you learn code by actually writing it, i.e. by completing exercises which are created by experts of those field. This year, they launched a free initiative named Code Year, calling everyone to learn the basics of coding.

The site lets you track progress, achieve badges and other cool stuff. If you're stuck at some particular exercise, you can post your doubts in the forums, there are some helpful people out there! You can grab exercises related to Javascript, JQuery and of course CSS3. They also seem to add lessons related to Python, in future. The best thing? All this is free.

Link: Codecademy

2. Dochub

How about an instantly searchable documentation of all major programming languages? That's Dochub. You can easily find documentation for various programming languages online, but it's all scattered, and it's not fast. Dochub solves this. Also, you can get the local version of the website from the Github page.

Link: Dochub

3. Mozilla Developer Network

Mozilla Developer Network(MDN) provides a great in-depth documentation for CSS and Javascript. It's more like Wikipedia for web developers (you can even edit the wiki, and changes will be reviewed). Bonus is that, you can also learn about making Firefox addons and HTML5 apps, which are cross platform.

Link: Mozilla Developer Network

4. 30 days to learn HTML and CSS

If learning coding by reading documentation or books doesn't work for you, then consider taking this free course. It's a series of video tutorials by Jeffery Way, of TutsPlus. Of course, the tutorials are really basic, so if you want something more advanced, you should consider paying for Treehouse, a subscription based learning platform for web and and even iOS developers.

Link: Learn CSS

5. Read Blogs

Blogs related to web designing are in plenty. Starting with the TutsPlus network, till Smashing Magazine, there are so many blogs dedicated to this niche. Most of them will rank well on Google, if you search for anything related to web designing, that's the best way to find good blogs.

I'm sure there are many more sites which fall under this category, and I'm no web designer. So, do you know any free resources for learning web designing? Write them in the comments.

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Monday, 23 July 2012

Redirect New Tabs on Chrome to User Specified URLs

I have always liked customized productive Chrome start pages, but lately I have preferred to set the new tab to open to my list of bookmarks or my browser history.

Just download the New Tab Redirect extension on your Chrome browsers and look up its settings.

I usually prefer set the redirect to Chrome specific pages like looking the full list of Extensions, History, Downloads or my bookmarks.

Opening up my bookmarks manager as the new tab is actually a very productive tip and I personally found it better than any other customized new start pages for Chrome.

The settings will allow you to choose a certain URLs which could be your favourite websites too but that can be done without the use of a extension.

Chrome also has some lesser known pages like looking up Plugins (chrome://plugins/) and Memory Cache (chrome://cache/) which are available in this redirection extension.

Bonus Tip: Type in chrome://about/url in the address bar to get a list of all Chrome URLs.

If you liked this extension, chances are you are a Chrome fan and might like looking up these widgets to customize the new tab page along with a host of other options.

Link: New Tab Redirect

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Sunday, 22 July 2012

Automatically Import Your Links from Facebook and Twitter to Delicious

I like to share a lot of link to interesting articles, images and more on my Facebook and Twitter profiles. Delicious has introduced a new feature which allows users to import links from Facebook and Twitter to Delicious account.

Import Links from Facebook Twitter to Delicious

Import Links from Facebook and Twitter to Delicious

  • Log into your Delicious account. Now click on 'Settings' and then 'Sources'. If you are signed in, just visit this link.
  • Here you will have option to add a source like Facebook or Twitter for links to be imported on Delicious.
  • Usually the default tag for such links is 'from Facebook' or 'from Twitter' but you can customize it.

Once that is done, you can wait for Delicious to import all your links. This is a great way to keep track of all the links you are sharing but have not essentially bookmarked them.

Do you use any other similar automated tools? Do drop in your comments.

Link: Delicious

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Saturday, 21 July 2012

Microsoft Reporting Losses is Not Necessarily A Bad Thing!

Yesterday, Microsoft reported a loss for the first time in over 25 years. It was the first time they reported losses after it became a public company. A lot of people have written about the shocking decline of Microsoft and some even were writing obituaries.

It might be tempting to say that in the supposedly 'post-pc' era, Microsoft with it's Windows platform is dying. But it is not the PC sales that have hurt Microsoft, but it's strategy for the web.

In 2007, Microsoft bought a company called Aquantive for $6.4 Billion. It was supposed to rival Google as an advertisement platform. Unfortunately, Aquantive could not make profits and Microsoft had to write it off. This has led to a loss of $442 Million past 3 months.

Writing off on failures even at the cost of declaring losses, is indicative that the company is trying to focus on its core competencies, which are selling operating systems and Office software suites. So despite a reported loss, Microsoft stock went up after the news broke out.

The revenues of Microsoft are up by 4% despite slow sales of Windows 7. A slowdown of Windows 7 purchases will probably continue as Windows 8 is expected in October.

Microsoft's Journey From Arrogance to Humility!

Steve Ballmer – CEO of Microsoft

Microsoft has made a lot of aggressive moves which were arrogant in the past. They under-estimated companies like Google and Apple about 10 years ago. They pretty much disregarded the internet as a medium itself.

By ignoring mobile platforms, they let Apple with their iPhones and Google with Android become big players. Microsoft was so arrogant because it was making big money for so long; that they simply did not pause to think, that they were surrendering their future.

They kept throwing money at Bing and then making purchases like Aquantive to challenge Google. Unfortunately throwing money does not always get best results and today despite Bing growing slowly, it is far from being a profitable venture for the company. The fact that they were not taking web technology seriously was evident from how Internet Explorer 6 as a browser survived for over a decade.

But recently, Microsoft has woken up to reality and has tried to shed it arrogance. First signs in recent times has been it's "Browser you loved to hate" campaign for IE9. Instead of suggesting other browsers were useless or pathetic, they were admitting that their previous versions were poor but it was time to give their new version a try.

A Humble Microsoft is Good News

Companies find it hard to become humble. In other words they find it hard to admit defeat. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple as its CEO, he shed the arrogance and famously refocused the company into concentrating on its core products. He also gave up on the idea of trying to defeat Microsoft.

An almost bankrupt Apple, was suddenly focusing on creating something new for the future and the rest is history.

Microsoft seems to be getting a lesson in humility and they seem to be focusing not of beating other companies but rather to improve their products and services.

Microsoft unveiled Surface tablets a few weeks ago. The tablets are not trying to compete with iPad directly. The tablets are designed differently and it is looking to bring something different in the tablet niche.

Windows 8 also is designed very different from previous versions of Windows. This refocus exercise by Microsoft is finally good news because in the end consumers might be the real winners.

What are your views on the future of Microsoft? Do drop in your comments.

Link: Microsoft's Q4 and Full Year Report

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Hike wants to be the Indian WhatsApp

WhatsApp is very popular among Indians and that's one of the reason why people who buy blackberries just for BBM, are decreasing. The fact that WhatsApp is cross platform, has hugely contributed to its success. It's everywhere, even on S40 devices.

But wait, here comes Hike, a new messaging app specially targeting Indians.


So, how is Hike different from WhatsApp? In WhatsApp, you can send messages to your friend only if he has the app installed, but with Hike, you can send messages to even non-Hike users. That sounds nice, but messages to non-Hike users can be sent only by spending your Hike credits, and you get 100 Hike credits refilled every month (for free).

You can get more credits by referring your friends to the app, and also the app can't send messages to phones with DND on. As you've guessed, Hike-to-Hike messaging is unlimited and international, just like WhatsApp.The app sports a sleek design and the way it links your Hike account to your phone number, instead of tumbling with usernames/pins is nice.

It uses your address book itself as a way to add buddies and they also aim to be spam-free, providing an easier way to block spammers.

The app is now Android-only, but they plan to make it available on all the major platforms – that includes iOS, WP, S60 and Blackberry.

Link: Hike

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Friday, 20 July 2012

Send and Receive SMS from Your Phone Number on Browser

I blog using a laptop in my home. That means I often move from one room to another with my laptop. Unfortunately in such cases, I always forget to carry my phone with me. It gets a little bothersome when I get an SMS and I have to move back to where I left my phone to check who sent me a message.

Mighty Text is a service which allows users to use their own phone number, to send and receive SMS messages from your Chrome browser. Users can also call from their browsers.

MightyText Features

  • MightyText works only for phones running on Android. Download the Mighty Text App from Google Play.
  • Now check out the extension or add-on for your browser. I really liked the fact that it supports Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer 9 and Safari.
  • Now the phones numbers needs to be synced to the browser and we are set.
  • Whenever a SMS is sent to you number, you will receive a notification on your desktop.

I can also reply to the text messages from my browser. Not just that, I can also call a number from the browser window itself but to speak with the person, one has to get up and reach the phone. :-)

The service at the moment is only available on Android. Try out MightyText if you have a Android phone and do drop in your comments.

Link: MightyText | Mighty Text on Google Play

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