Archive | Apps

Read Ebooks, SaveTrees

Posted on 11 December 2008 by Flisha

Backpackers, bookworms and hybrids rejoice. Books don’t have to weigh you down when you travel, and you get to preserve nature all at the same time. Yay for ebooks!

The four most popular formats for ebooks are PRC (Palm open format), LIT (Microsoft reader format, download app here), HTML and PDF. The rest are RGO (Repligo format), PBD (Palm native format), DOC (Word document), RTF (rich text format) and TXT (plain text). If you’re traveling with a laptop, then perfect! There are loads of ebook readers that are free for download on the Internet (it’s the books that cost, dahling).

My favorite are the PRC books which I read through the MobiPocket ebook reader, because not only is MobiPocket Reader a super great reader application dedicated to reading ebooks (Have you tried reading an ebook right on your browser!? Don’t. Your eyes will cramp from all the horizontal back and forth.), but MobiPocket also comes in many flavors!

That’s right! There’s a version for every platform. Here’s a Mobipocket reader for your PC, one for your Blackberry, one for your PocketPC or Smartphone, there’s one for the Symbian OS (yay for Nokia and SonyEricsson smartphones!), for your Palm device, for a dedicated ebook device if you have one, and yes, even for your phone that only supports Java (‘cept that it’s in Alpha stage, so be on the lookout for bugs!). (You can also synchronize your books across platforms if you have many devices.)

So the next time you plan on bringing a book to pass the time, bring your cellphone instead. I’ve read more books in the last two months than the first ten of this year combined. I’m a ebooker now. And I save trees. (Smug look.)

Underground tip: You can find free ebooks over at the Ipmart Forum, or download ebooks from the channels #ebooks and #bookz on an UnderNet server in mIRC. Happy hunting!

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Reasons to Use a Keylogger

Posted on 01 November 2008 by Flisha

A keylogger at its simplest form is an application that can intercept text that is typed on the keyboard and save it to a log file. Some keyloggers can capture clipboard data (when you copy and paste), screenshots on running programs and even mouse clicks.

Most often, keyloggers are used for evil activities, like spying for passwords and IM conversations. But it can also be a necessary tool for protecting yourself and your data.

Here are my top four reasons to use a keylogger (I couldn’t think of a non-evil fifth reason!):

4. Protect the children. Ensure that your child or younger sibling isn’t engaging in inappropriate IM conversations. Kids trust too easily, and may make friends out of strangers (and possible predators) online. I don’t advocate turning on the keylogger without letting your children know, as that is a breach of privacy (your kids have that right too). But perhaps informing them beforehand would be deterrence enough. 

3. Troubleshoot your PC (or Mac). If your computer has a lot of users, oftentimes it’s hard to keep track of what’s being installed and downloaded. If your computer suddenly hangs when only a day ago it was working fine, you can check the logs to see what happened in between. Maybe your dad installed an incompatible driver. Or maybe your brother was visiting a porno site and got your PC infected by a virus.

2. Monitor who’s using your computer. Sometimes you leave your computer on at work, trusting that your coworkers aren’t the type to snoop and nose around your belongings. But to be sure, turn on your keylogger when you’re gone. Hard evidence protects you better than blind faith.

1. Claim your data. For example, you bought a router or signed up to an ISP. The service guy comes in, configures your computer and network, then leaves without explaining what he just did. When your network goes down, you have no idea how to fix it except to call customer service, which almost always doesn’t help. If you had installed a keylogger, you would have known exactly what your service guy did and retrace his steps to get your network working again. Who knows, you might even stumble across a better configuration and increase your Internet speed.

There are probably many other non-evil ways to use a keylogger. If you have a suggestion, drop a comment. You can download some free keyloggers here, here and here (the last one is good but only a 7-day trial).

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BibTex Software: Using BibTex and Word 2007

Posted on 08 June 2008 by Flisha

I had a hard time getting this to work, so I decided to post this in case any researchers (searching for bibliography format wikipedia or bibtex software) like me are needing this tool.

I use Latex to create my BibTex BST files in my research paper. In my opinion, it’s incredibly and unnecessarily complex to install and learn. I’ve read the BibTex style and the Bib formats get easier and become much more efficient to use than word processors in the long run. I’ve yet to be convinced.

Anyways, the one thing I love about it is BibTex, a part of Latex that makes it so very easy for you to create a bibliography. All you have to do is keep one .bib file of all your references (even across multiple papers). Then in your .tex file, you just have to link to the .bib file and start citing references using their unique keys ( ex. \cite{key1} ) and then BibTex will automatically create your bibliography. Cool, huh? (Here’s a Latex tutorial.)

So, today I wanted to continue my work in MS Word. Not in Latex. Latex is only good for formatting the final PDF. MS Word is good for when developing the actual paper, because you can send it to your advisors and they can make comments and recommendations in your paper.

So I had a problem of porting the paper I had developed in Latex (big mistake, but I was in a hurry to complete the deadline) back to MS Word. I didn’t want to have to go through creating references all over again. Good thing I found a way to import my .bib file.

Go to this page by Mike Brookes and download the BibTex4Word file. You can also download the documentation file. The instructions given are for Word in XP. But I am using Word in Vista (Word 2007).

If you’re also a Word 2007 user like me, place the BibTex4Word (.dot) file in this folder: C:\Users\***\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Word\STARTUP where *** is your username. Do this for every single user.

Restart Word if it’s open. Now you can use BibTex4Word. The toolbar will be located under your Add-Ins menu (the last dropdown menu in the Word menu bar). There are 6 icons. To import your .bib file, click on the yellow folder icon and select your file. To create a citation, use the red cross icon and insert the reference key. To toggle between seeing the key and the citation ([,gupta] vs [1]) click on the eye icon. To paste out the actual bibliography, press the list icon.

Oh, and to add more references to your .bib file, just do it in Latex. :-) My Latex processor is MikTex.

That’s it! Hope this is useful for some clueless researcher out there. :-)

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Portable Firefox, KeePass and Flash

Posted on 18 April 2008 by Flisha

Like I said in my last blog post, I am out of a laptop. I am having it repaired by HP, thank goodness it’s still under warranty. But I have been advised that it might take up to 8 weeks before I can get it back. OMG, in my programming world, that is utter and complete disaster! That’s 3 weeks longer than my summer class! *cry*

But. I am trying to keep my head up, trying to think positive. I bought a 2GB flash drive from CDRKing for P380 ($10). Yes, I’m such a cheapie haha. They have 4GB (P700 or $18) 8GB (P1,280 or $32) drives but I’m so poor couldn’t afford the extra thousand pesos, hehehe. Oh but if you want to buy me a present, I’d love the 16gb flash disk at P2,480 or $62, hehe!

Anyways, 2GB is totally fine for me. It’ll hold my data fine and with room to spare. The next prob I encountered in my laptop-free state is finding a computer to start some surfing. The Rizal library is the best place, in my opinion, it’s cool (sometimes too cold!), comfortable (plushy seats) and free (and there are many desktops available)! There’s even a private lounge for graduate students. There’s wifi, too, but oh darn, why do I keep reminding myself I do NOT have a laptop?? Urgh.

So it’s free, the RL desktops. But security is tight. There are very few installed applications, the only available browser is an old copy of Internet Explorer, and flash isn’t even installed. And you can’t install anything else. Have I mentioned I hate IE?? I like the new tabbed version but I’m a Firefox fan!

Thank goodness I remembered about PortableApps.com, I once downloaded one of their suites, just because the installs were clean and small. But I forgot later on when I started using the normal installers again. Portable applications do what they say, they are meant to run on your USB flash drive, you can choose whichever computer you want to use, and you don’t have to install anything. That’s really useful for me, like right now, I’m using Firefox and everyone else is stuck using IE. Heheheh.

Using Firefox from my flash drive is very convenient. I can move from one computer to the other without losing my settings or cookies. I can also save my passwords in Firefox so I don’t have to keep typing in my passwords. I am paranoid about keyloggers, hehe, we’ve already had a few instances where students got to infiltrate our professors’ account through keylogging. But actually I don’t save passwords in Firefox (though I can, that’s the point) because I am also paranoid about losing my USB drive and having somebody pick it up and see all my passwords in Firefox (I hope you know that saving your passwords in Firefox is very risky because anyone who uses Firefox next will be able to view it). So I use another portable app, KeePass. I’ve got one master password to log in to KeePass, and then I have there all my encrypted entries of all my passwords from my different accounts. All I have to do is copy the password to the clipboard and paste it onto the password field. No typing involved. :-) Of course, that’s *still* not hacker-proof, someone who REALLY REALLY wants your password can sniff it off the network using many freely available programs, but I’m not *that* paranoid, hehehe.

Yesterday I was happily browsing with Firefox but I encountered another problem. No flash! I tried to get the flash plugin, but alas, it asks to be installed, and the desktop I was using would not let me. Grr. Today I searched for a solution, and yay, I found one!

Following a commenter’s advice on AcidLabs, I downloaded the Adobe Flash installer, then downloaded the Universal Extractor, then extracted the files from the Adobe Flash installer. I got two files from there: flashplayer.xpt and NPSWF32.dll, and copied them to this directory: F:\FirefoxPortable\Data\plugins and restarted my browser.

Voila! Now I can happily browse flash-based websites in my lovely Firefox browser! Hehehehe. Hopefully this will help some of you out there who might be experiencing the same problems, I know a lot of my fellow (financially-challenged) graduate students are. Hehe. Happy (safe) browsing!

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Exploring Free SMS in the Philippines

Posted on 08 April 2007 by Flisha

Detox Tip #3: Find Freebies on the Internet

SMS or texting in the Philippines is as much a way of life as wearing clothes. Everybody does it. There are three major cellphone carriers, Globe, Smart and Sun Cellular. Each text message normally costs Php1, but promos routinely crop up to minimize fees and entice new subscribers.

But I hate paying for anything, especially for something I believe should be free – such as the ability to send a meager 150 characters of data to another phone when you regularly pay for call credits. So I love finding freebies over the Internet.

I was one of the first subscribers to Chikka, an Internet service that allows Filipinos (and now, foreigners, too) to send free text messages from their PCs to cellphones in the Philippines (and now, to other selected countries, too). But it’s a limited service, it allows a user to send only 3 messages to any single number. I get around that by having multiple accounts, but it’s such a hassle. Oh, and sometimes the messages are delayed by a few hours.

I’ve tried another fairly new service, Wapot. There are no limits to sending messages, but it’s quite unreliable. Sometimes the message gets sent, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the service is fast, sometimes it’s not.

Recently, I’ve come across another free texting service online, and it’s Callwave. It’s easy enough to use, but it’s a widget which means you have to attach it somewhere like your personalized Google homepage, as you see in my screenshot. But as soon as it’s up, it’s a real breeze to use. Registering your number takes a second and then you can send messages to anyone, anywhere in the world. I tried it and there are no delays in receiving messages. Unfortunately, the number of messages you can send per day is limited. I was only able to send around 5 messages before it told me to “please try again tomorrow.” So I guess this is a good service to use if you’re in a hurry, but I wouldn’t advise you to uninstall your Chikka program just yet.

I don’t often find the need to call or text anybody so I don’t load my phone much. Except nowadays, when Gim is in Dapitan and there’s no other way to contact him during the day (at night when nobody’s using their boarding house phone, we call each other through PLDT NDD), I do load about Php100 everyday. Still, it’s heavy on my pocket since I’m saving for PIDC and since I don’t have any incoming salary on the 15th (waaaahh, it’s school policy for non-permanents). Every cent counts, so free texting is extremely helpful, hehe.

Hope this post is helpful, too, for financially-challenged texters out there like me. Tell me if you guys find any other SMS freebies out there. :)

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Photoshop Brush Experiments

Posted on 23 January 2007 by Flisha

Novell killed Windows. That’s what happened to my PC in school anyways. So I had to reformat my C:\ drive, good thing all my important documents were in D:\. Photoshop was revitalized, and in the spirit of installing, I decided to download as many free plugins I could.

Ta-da! These are the results. Wachutink?

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Testing IE 7

Posted on 19 October 2006 by Flisha

Internet Explorer 7 is officially out of beta. I must say I like the new features – especially tabbed browsing.

The first browser I really liked was Maxthon, back in the days of IE versus Netscape, since only Maxthon offered tabbed browsing. But Firefox came and took my breath away with its useful functions (Ctrl++ made my life so much easier :)), multitude of extensions AND tabbed browsing. IE 6 never had a chance.

Now IE’s bouncing back and I likey. Here’s my opinion.

My Favorite Features…

  1. Tabbed Browsing

    Yes, I’ve mentioned it like, only four times now. (Tabbed browsing! Tabbed browsing! Oh god, sometimes I feel like a child.) I like that you can move the the tabs around in any order you like. I like that each tab has its own close icon (in Firefox sometimes I close the wrong tab because the x icon is at the far right, for all tabs). I like that there’s a new tab icon on the tab toolbar, if you’re not the type who remembers most keyboard shortcuts and hates incessant clicking for a simple and oft-used procedure (fortunately, I’m a keyboardie). There’s also a Quick Tabs icon that shows you all the tabs on one page like slides in MS Powerpoint. And a dropdown tab list. Why would you need those when you can see your tabs right in the toolbar? Unless you open a LOT of tabs. Which I normally don’t do since I close a tab when I don’t need it anymore. Besides, too many tabs weigh down your browser.

  2. Much More Readable Text

    I don’t know what they call this feature, but it resembles how text is rendered in Adobe Reader. It’s just much clearer. And I spend a lot of time in front of the PC. Around 5-6 hours at work, straight. Then when I get home, another 5-6 (or more!) hours just surfing or watching movies or editing my blog. And my eyesight really suffers, which is why again, I love the Ctrl++ from Firefox. (Incidentally, Ctrl++ also works in IE. but a slight disadvantage is that the page dances while you do it. Weird.) Whatevs, any program that attempts to help me read is A-OK in my book.

  3. Customizable Search

    LiveSearch is the default search engine. But you can add others like Google (like anybody uses any other) and Yahoo and Wikipedia. Obviously, Firefox has introduced a lot of indispensable features.

What I Don’t Like…

  1. Tiny important icons

    And they’re distributed all over the place too. I had to find where the refresh button was. And the stop button looks more like a close button – which is confusing. It’s nice that there’s more space for viewing the page but, like I said, my eyesight is kinda poor, so I really don’t like having to search around for a tiny icon every 20 seconds.

  2. Not enough options

    One thing I like in Firefox is that I could set it in such a way that whenever another program tries to open a website and I already have Firefox open, the link shows up in a new tab instead of a totally new window. Or I could say that every link I click must be opened in a new tab, even if the link is HTML-set to open in a new window. The reason we want tabs is that we don’t want extra windows of the same program, right? But IE doesn’t seem to have those options, so a lot of the times I still get my taskbar cluttered with IE windows. Sorry! I realized it was just under Tools -> Settings -> Tabs.

Overall…

Well, it’s only been an hour of browsing so I haven’t really made up my mind. I think IE’s really good at copying Firefox. But except for the nicely readable text, I don’t see anything that makes it better than Firefox.

So, Firefox’s still my default browser. But all that nicely readable text from IE is really trying to lure me away.

Hm. Who says they can’t coexist? :)

Uh-oh, I Spoke Too Soon!

Using the Blogger editor with IE 7 is making my head ache. Ctrl+Z and Ctrl+Y don’t work, ekkk! And what you see, you don’t get!

Back to work, IE. Pronto!

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Using Channels in Photoshop

Posted on 02 October 2006 by Flisha

Last Sunday, I gave Gimmi a despedida (Chavacano for “going-away party”), consisting of a lunch treat at McDonalds, an afternoon trip to La Vista del Mar (Zamboanga’s prettiest beach resort) and lots of hugging and kissing (and no crying!) afterwards.

While he’s having fun playing doctor in Dapitan for a month, I’m amusing myself by digitally manipulating the photos we took that day. (Poor, poor me. I don’t have the money to go visit him, not like last time. Someone give me money?)

I took this photo lying down with Gimmi looking down upon me. Now, that’s always a bad idea since in daylight the only light source comes from above, which means Gim’s face was bound to be darker than, um, it already is, but Gimmi knows that’s the way I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh. *cheeky grin* So, anyways, to remedy this effect, I used Photoshop to lighten up my sweetie.

First of all, in the Layers toolbar, I duplicated the background layer twice then deleted it. Now I had two layers of the same image. Then I selected the top layer. (I also clicked on the eye icon of the lower layer to hide it so it wouldn’t distract me later.)

In the Channel toolbar in Photoshop, I selected the Blue Channel. That showed the photo in grayscale, with the blue parts of the image showing up lighter than the reds and greens. (Selecting the channel doesn’t alter the image, though. It just shows you which parts of the picture are red, blue or green depending on which channel you select.)

Using the Magic Wand Tool, I was able to smoothly select the entire sky. Then I selected the RGB Channel to revert it to full color again. Then I deleted the sky. Not to worry, I still had the sky in my lower layer. Then I inverted the selection (Shift+Ctrl+I) so now I could digitally edit my Gimmi without affecting the other parts of the layer (since I needed the other parts clear of anything so the sky would show up as is from the lower layer).

There are a number of ways you can lighten up an image. But my favorite is using the Curves tool (Image Menu -> Adjustments -> Curves) since it often gives more natural looking results than other adjustment tools. I especially don’t like Autocolor or Autocontrast, they never do what they’re supposed to.

Having done that, Gimmi was now all lightened up and looking quite handsome. So I clicked again on the eye icon of the lower layer to show the sky. But there were some weird outlines around my Gimmi which I had to do away with. So I gave the top layer a bit of an outer glow (Right Click the Layer -> Blending Options), emphasizing its spread so it blended seamlessly onto the lower layer.

And there you have it. The image looks much better now. The original image is the left one, the modified image is the right one. Like I had to tell you. :-P

I dearly miss Gim. I’m trying my hardest not to cry. :-( So far I’ve only shed tears once, and that was during a phone call to Gim a few hours ago. So far, so good. Right..? :D

I hope November comes really, really fast. But thank goodness for Globe Unlimitxt. :-)

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Gmail is Killing Me Softly

Posted on 03 May 2005 by Flisha

If anybody wants a Gmail account, email me. Or you can leave your email address as a comment or on my chatbox. I have 48 invites left over to give and I want to give it away right now.

It’s really starting to become my newest pet peeve. I log into my gmail account and start reading my email. But then at the corner of my eye I can see a blue bordered single-celled table that whispers sneakily: “Give Gmail to: [text box] Send invite. 48 left.”

My mind wills my eyes to stay put on my email, but where the mind is willing, the flesh is weak. (Or, in this case, the visual organ.) My eyes stray to the blue borders. “Noooo….” My mind wails, but my eyes have a mind of their own, and they LOOK.

48 left. Send invite.

But *who* will I send it to? My body shivers. Nobody wants one! I have nobody to send it to! My knees tremble. Nobody’s emailed me yet. And I’ve advertised it so much Google’s gotta start paying me for all my trouble!

Oh, no. Does that mean I lack friends? Is nobody emailing me because I am a friendless geek? I feel my mind start crowding with insecurities. Why am I friendless? Am I ugly? Is that it? Is that why I don’t have friends? Omigod, am I too nerdy? Maybe nobody understands me! Or, no no, maybe I am so self absorbed that I have forgotten there is a world out there that does not revolve around me? NOOOOO…….

I start shaking my head to and fro and mumble incoherently. I start to feel that maybe I am becoming autistic. (Hey — that really means “highly intelligent but socially, ehrm…”) Suddenly I feel a sharp pain in my head. It is a book that has fallen off the shelf onto my head. Ouch. But that’s good. I have regained my sanity. So I start browsing through my email again. But then, that blue-bordered single cell starts to tempt my eyes again…. and then the madness starts all over again.

So. If you want to help Flisha become sane again, you *must* help me get rid of that blue-bordered single-celled table on the right side of my Gmail. Please. Email me as soon as possible. I don’t want to die crazy.

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Tinkering with Graphics

Posted on 25 April 2005 by Flisha

I’ve been experimenting with paths in Photoshop.

After 5+ years of being a novice, I’ve decided that I better up my ante NOW, not SOON, SOMEDAY, WHEN I’M 60 YEARS OLD, MAYBE.

Here’s what I came up with.

cartoon-me

That’s a cartoon Flisha!

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