FeedDemon syncs with Google Reader

Tools

Two weeks back I upgraded FeedDemon to the latest beta that was available then only to realize that my subscriptions were no longer in sync – I use FeedDemon from home and work

Reading more into the release notes and a little bit of Googling made me  realize that FeedDemon had discontinued its NewsGator online synchronization and had replaced it with Google Reader backend.

I have never been a fan of Google Reader (I know many are) and I have written about it in the past as well. For me FeedDemon has always been the ideal client to quickly go over thousands of feed items that I get everyday.

With FeedDemon now working with Google Reader, I now have the ability to access the same subscriptions when I am not at home or work; and for those die hard Google Reader fans, they now have the ability to use FeedDemon without complaints πŸ™‚

Note: With FeedDemon 3.0 you can even subscribe to your Twitter public timeline and response feeds !

0 comments

Moved to WebFaction

Tech, Wordpress

Moving from one web hosting to another has become one of the annual activities. However this time around, I had totally forgot about the hosting renewal; this post after 4 months would explain why I forgot about the hosting renewal πŸ™‚

An automatic renewal (which I had not subscribed for) was tried by Media Temple which failed and I got an email notice of the same. 

Media Temples renewal charges of 170$/year was a bit too high this time around; the first year charges were also around the same, but only that the intention of moving to MT last year was different.

Google search for “MT Alternative” resulted in WebFaction.

Unlike MT, I could not find any bad reviews on WebFaction. Also at 8.5$/year (1 year prepayment) WebFaction looked reasonable compared to MT

Note: 5 year prepayment brings down the monthly charges to 5.5$

Also unlike MT, WebFaction comes with one click installers for almost 50 applications including Django, Rails, Drupal and WordPress

WebFaction control panel UI looks user unfriendly at the first glance; however once you start using it you wouldn’t stick to the initial opinion.

Moving hosting from one provider to another is a challenge which I seem to have mastered over the past 3 years. This site has traveled from:

GoDaddy -> Dreamhost -> Media Temple -> WebFaction

In the initial years, the biggest problem was of moving the data. The best solution that I have to found to resolve this problem is:

  1. Sign up with the new hosting
  2. tar.gz the files which needs to be moved.
  3. Once the account on the new hosting is created, you would receive the server details (IP/User Account/SSH Account etc)
  4. SCP the file from the existing hosting to the new hosting. Even if the data to be moved is in GB’s, it won’t take much time
  5. Unzip the archived files on the new server; setup and test the application (in my case it was all WordPress) on the new hosting. You can access the application on the new server using IP since the domain name would still be pointing to the old server
  6. Once the testing is done, you can go about changing the name servers to point to the new server.

It took about an hour or so for me to execute the above 6 steps; However the DNS changes does take a day or more to propagate

WebFaction looks like a decent host and hopefully this annual activity of moving from one hosting to another will stop at WebFaction.

If you want to suggest a better hosting provider, the comments section is always open.

4 comments

Time Zone problem on Windows Mobile

Mobile

The HTC Touch phone that I have been using from 18 months had turned into a nightmare from the past 2 months.

I do use the phone extensively to synch my Outlook contacts and calendar appointments. However from the past few weeks, I was seeing that the Time Zone on the phone used to default back to GMT+1 at random times.

I am on GMT+5.30 and for some unknown reason it used to default back to GMT+1. As expected, the appointments in the calendar were popping up at the wrong time; same goes for the morning alarms.

I did observe this reset happening after disconnecting the device from an active ActiveSync session. However I used to see this behavior at random times even without the assistance of ActiveSync.

When I connect the device to the PC, the time on the device is always synchronized with the time on PC, but the Time Zone was always untouched.

I did search thorough a lot of forums to find a fix for this problem. Some of the forum posts were pointing to the data set in the Regional Settings. I checked on it and every other possible option in Windows Mobile and nothing helped.

Just a few days back, I found a setting on the device which was causing this issue (Not sure how I overlooked it)

There is a Time Zones tab on the Phone settings (which is almost hidden)

Windows Mobile Time Zone

I for some reason had enabled the option and hence the time zone was being set/overridden by the carrier; in my case the screw up was being done by Airtel.

The Airtel tower was setting the Time Zone on my phone to GMT+1 Prague, Budapest while it was standing tall and operating from Bangalore. I am sure opening a complaint with Airtel won’t help and I have disabled this option for now.

If any of you Windows Mobile owners are facing a similar Time Zone issue, do check this option.

12 comments

Where the hell am I ?

Personal Blogs

This site saw the last post almost 3 months back and since then many have been checking with me on my well-being.

Few services even banned this site for having no activity in the last 3 months.

I just took a long break from blogging and hope to be back as soon as possible !

It was time at my workplace which initially (and is still) held me from being “online”. Later I just felt better being “away”.

I also got hooked onto reading fiction novels! Currently I have these many books waiting to be finished πŸ™‚

IMAG0167

On the top of these 9 books, I have an additional 7 books in the queue including a few non-fiction books by Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock

When I am not reading books, I am busy exploring the new 13″ macbook. Like with the Apple iPhone, even Macbook ownership is temporary and is finally ending up with my brother.

The new Macbook is way too cool, compared to my existing Acer Laptop (or compared to any of the notebooks out there in the market)

Currently I am stuck with a Windows based notebook and a Windows based mobile while my sibling is “all Mac”. Something I wish to change to in the coming few years !

I am liking everything about the Mac except for the fact that you have to pay for almost all the good software.

Meanwhile if you didn’t care as to where the hell was I, you probably should definitely care to see where the hell Matt was this year round

9 comments

Validating English Word Pronunciations

Linux, Tools, Windows

I find myself pronouncing a lot of English words differently from what my friends do. One of the reasons for this is the fact that English just happens to be one of the 5 languages that I speak.

A couple of these word pronunciations also lead to a healthy debate with neither party accepting defeat and the only way to conclude such a debate is to validate the pronunciation.

Not to boast, but most of these debates are won by me and there is no denying that I have lost a couple too ! Surprisingly there have been debates where both parties have lost πŸ™‚

When you are also in a similar situation below are some of the tools that can help you to validate the English Word pronunciations:

AT&T Natural Voices Research Version

AT&T Natural Voices is a commercial TTS engine which has support for multiple languages and is marketed by Wizzard Software.

However they do have a Research Version which is also available for general public here:

http://www.research.att.com/~ttsweb/tts/demo.php

You can select from a list of voices (accent) and even have the option to download the voice.

att

The service is however slow and its probably due to the fact that the engine generates audio files on the fly !

However note that you can give input more than one word (preferably separated by comma) and the engine will generated the audio file with the pronunciation for all these words.

Dictionary.com/Thefreedictionary.com

Unlike Natural Voices, Dictionary.com and FreeDictionary.com allow you to hear pronunciations for words which are there in the dictionary.

pk

Also you don’t have the option to input multiple words. However the pronunciations are pre-compiled and hence play much faster compared to Natural Voices.

If by any chance, you don’t have a sound card, or if the drivers of your card are corrupted, these 2 services provide a pronunciation key table which could be used to decode the word pronunciation.

HowJSay.com

HowJSay is another portal similar to the Dictionary portal mentioned above where you can type in the word and listen to the pronunciation.

howj

However HowJSay additionally lists a set of words based on the input word and I found this feature quite useful.

Windows Text To Speech Engine

Windows comes with a built-in Text To Speech engine and mainly used for the Narrator Application.

On Windows Vista, you can access the Speech Properties dialog via

Control Panel -> Ease of Access -> Speech Recognition Options

On the “Text To Speech” dialog, you can input the word and select “Preview Voice” to listen to the word pronunciation.

speech

The same option is also available on Windows XP. (Control Panel ->Speech)

I find this the quickest way of checking on a word and does not require an active Internet connection.

For Linux users, there is an option in the form of Festival ! I haven’t tried it though.

If you know of any other service, please feel free to suggest the same using the comment form.

9 comments

Firefox 3 – What is new ?

Browsers, Tech, Windows

Firefox 3 was downloaded by more than 8 million users in 24 hours and it might well go down as the most downloaded software in 24 hours !

India’s contribution in the above 8 million was 226K  and US was the highest with 4632K.

Talking of new features in FF3, Alex Faaborg, the user experience designer who worked on Firefox 3 has a very detailed post on the new UI features here

http://tinyurl.com/yv5xp4

Below are 2 unique features in FF3, which I haven’t seen in hundreds of posts that cover the new FF3 features.

Scrolling using Spacebar

If you are keyboard junkie, I am sure you too will love this feature.

Till now, If you intended to scroll a web page, you either had to enable the Caret Mode (F7) and then scroll the web page or use the keyboard Page up and Page down key.

The first option isn’t that straightforward and the second one for some reason wasn’t always working reliably on FF2. Even in FF3, scrolling via Page keys doesn’t work properly.

However in FF3, you can easily scroll using the "Spacebar"

Spacebar - Scrolls the page down
Shift + Spacebar - Scrolls the page up

Reopen/Undo Closed Tab

Tabbed browsing keeps your taskbar clutter free and also makes you more productive.

However you might also end up closing tabs (browser pages) which you did not intend to !

FF3 has a new feature using which  you can quickly reload a closed tab. All you need to do is press Ctrl + Shift + T

Ctrl + Shift + T - Reopen closed tab / Undo Close tab operation

The shortcut is also kind of easy to remember since Ctrl + T is used to open a new empty tab.

Also FF3 does not just reload the last closed tab; in fact it maintains the history of closed tabs.

If you continuously press the Ctrl + Shift + T, you can reopen all the closed tabs in the session (the most recently closed is reopened first)


For the complete list of Firefox 3 shortcuts, check out this page

http://tinyurl.com/5hucpj
16 comments

Download Firefox 3

Uncategorized

Firefox 3 intended to create a world record for the most software downloaded in 24 hours .

June 17 was fixed as the release date and when I tried to download yesterday, the servers were down.

They seem to be back online now and you can download the latest Firefox from the below link:

http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox?p=downloadday

At the time I downloaded, 14K people had downloaded FF3 from India compared to 1063K downloads from US πŸ™‚

Also don’t forget to check the "Tips and Tricks" page; it will help you to get the most out of Firefox 3

Lifehacker also has an interesting post on the history of Firefox (with Screenshots)

9 comments

How To: Activate or Deactivate a Service on Linux

Linux, Tips n Tricks, Windows

A service is a long running executable which does require any user intervention and is configured to start when the operating system is booted.

On Windows, the services are managed via services.msc and you can also communicate with a NT service using the SC tool.

On Linux the services can be controlled via the chkconfig command line tool.

Usage details of chkconfig  is shown below:

chkconfig –list [name]
chkconfig –add <name>
chkconfig –del <name>
chkconfig [–level <levels>] <name> <on|off|reset>

Add and Del options are used to create or delete services for management. A service can be activated or deactivated using the on or off flags. Note that you have to mention the runlevel using the --level option.

The absensce of this runlevel will lead to the settings being applied to the current runlevel.

The <name> argument refers to the name of the service and this can be found by referring to the /etc/init.d director on Linux, which is a central repository for all startup scripts.

Also note that chkconfig modifies the data on /etc/rc[0-6].d directories and not the actual startup scripts.

A much faster way of enabling or disabling Linux services is by using the ntsysv command.

The command lists the services available on the repository (/etc/init.d) and enables the user to disable/enable services in one shot.

Also if the service name looks too cryptic, you can always press F1 to get more information about the selected service.

As with chkconfig, if you need to control the services at multiple runlevel’s you need to invoke ntsysv with the --level argument

ntsysv --level 345 will configure the services on runlevel 3, 4 and 5.

If you are a Linux newbie, Linux.com has an excellent introduction to Services, runlevel’s and rc.d scripts.

Note: In Debian, services are managed using the update-rc.d command

6 comments

Safely Remove USB Hardware

Tips n Tricks, Tools, Windows

I have been reading in many posts which mention special tools to help in ejecting/removing a USB disk.

The Windows “Safely Remove Hardware” feature has been notorious for hiding itself after installing the new hardware.

You do have the option of Ejecting the hardware; however this becomes a pain if you are working with multiple USB devices.

cruzer

Also in Windows XP, one USB device might list multiple entries in the Remove Hardware dialog. In Windows Vista there is a option to filter the device components.

Do you really need to eject the USB Hardware ?

Most of the USB Disks are optimized for safe removal and in my opinion you rarely need to use the “Eject” or “Safely Remove Hardware” feature.

To confirm this setting do the following

  1. Right Click on the removable disk and select Properties
  2. Click on the Hardware Tab, select the removable disk and click on the Properties button
  3. Click on the Policies Tab and you should see the following window
    USB Policy
  4. As you can see from the available options, the disk is either optimized for quick removal or for performance and most of the disks by default are optimized for quick removal.

With write caching disabled by default for most of the USB disks, you really don’t need to worry about ejecting or safely removing the USB hardware.

Note: Unlike USB drives, the hard drives have write caching enabled by default for better performance and hence are susceptible to data loss or corruption on power outage.
usb2

If you are still not comfortable unplugging the USB disk without Ejecting, you can always add a shortcut on your desktop to quickly access the Safely Remove Hardware dialog

The target of the shortcut should point to:

RunDll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL hotplug.dll

Alternatively you can install utilities such as USB Disk Ejector which simplify the above task.

9 comments

Woopra Web Analytics

Tech, Tips n Tricks, Tools, Wordpress

Web Analytic tools are must have for anybody running a website since they give interesting insight into your site’s traffic patterns.

Woopra Web Analytics was mentioned/reviewed by so many sites that I had to give it a try.

After signing up for Woopra, I immediately proceeded towards the downloads page. I installed the Desktop Client (for which I had to upgrade the JRE on my system to 1.6) and also installed the WordPress Plug-in.

woopra

Only after installing the WP Plugin did I realize that I had to have an “Invitation Code” to use Woopra !

Without an code you need to wait till Woopra inspects and approves your site !

I don’t understand as to why Woopra lets users download the software even before the user has added a site and has a valid Website ID

I let out my frustration on Twitter and looks like someone at Woopra has been tracking tweets on their application. My site was immediately approved ! (It might have been just coincidence as well πŸ™‚ )

Woopra Client

Woopra Client application has been written in Java and does make extensive use of the Image4J library to render the pretty looking UI.

Woopra Analytics

The combination of Blue, Green, Yellow and White colors on the UI does manage to create an optical illusion !

Not sure as to what prompted the Woopra team to use this as the default color scheme. The other color schemes included in the UI are also of not much help.

What I liked ?

  • Live traffic view including the Geographical view. It lets users see the active users and the number of pages they visited on your site.
  • Starting a conversation with the “online” visitor (Some visitors might find this annoying πŸ™‚ )
  • Visitor Tagging
  • Geo Overlay on the Analytics Tab
    Geo overlay

What I did not like ?

  • The need to install the client software on every other system
  • The UI Color Scheme
  • The Dashboard view
  • A scrolling bar status bar which is so annoying and yes there is no option to disable it or pause it !

Also the visitor count data displayed by Woopra was only 75% of what I saw on Google Analytics or Mint. Not sure on the kind of visitors being dropped by Woopra !

Till Woopra fixes the above issues and improves the UI of the client I would recommend anyone to try out Mint Web Analytics.

I am a big fan of this app for a number of reasons including

  • Ability to view the Analytics data on a Single page
  • Live Traffic Data
  • Best looking user interface
  • Filtering/Analysis of data by third party Pepper’s
  • Ability to host on your own server

Have you tried Woopra ? What is your view on Woopra ?

What analytics software do you use to track your site visitors?

4 comments