27 October 2013

FPN registration woes

I recently bought a couple of Sailor fountain pens. As one of them was quite expensive, I was thinking of asking on the FPN forum on tips for first use, if any. As expected, the forum required a registration and I filled up the form (see below). However, after multiple tries the form gives the same error that I didn't write the answer to their spam protection question correctly!
FPN registration form error screen capture

As you can see on the screen shot above, all required fields are filled up and after multiple tries (with different answers to the question), the error still comes up!!

The spam protection feature seems to be preventing legitimate users to signup too. I wonder if FPN really want users to sign up to their forums.

It was hard to find a way to contact them too. Took me about 15minutes to find an email address: fpnadmin@gmail.com. Waiting to get a reply now.

If it matters, I'm using Iceweasel 24.0 browser on a Linux machine.

11 August 2013

Why Newegg has turned into Blackegg?

Newegg's packages that I have received have phrases as "May Contain Awesome", and "Go Ahead and Review me" and a tag line "Take it from a Geek" as the website cites itself as the online place where computer hobbyists get their components from at great prices. They stepped into Canadian waters in late 2008 with their site Newegg.ca. A lot of people were happy to be able to get good prices that their friends were getting south of the border e.g. this. Many-a-times the deals were the best anyone could get from other online retailers in Canada. However, over time the deals have become "cold" as many would say. I have noticed that pattern even in their ShellShocker deals. The latest example is the ShellShocker Soul by Ludacris SL49C earphones. They are listed in the deal for $58.31 and free shipping (with original price as $103.31). That looks like almost half the price. But if you go over to the Newegg.com site, the same product is priced $39.99 and free shipping and the original price being $69.99!

Neither the original price are anywhere representative of the CAD/USD conversion nor does the deal price look attractive when considering that the same product goes for even less without Shell Shocker south of the border!

In general, either the ShellShocker discounts are not significant enough or they are on stuff that one doesn't care for much. Where did the original Newegg idea of special prices for great stuff go? We don't want the Blackegg, we need the Newegg back.

16 June 2013

PDFCreator installs malware

I have been using a free software called PDFCreator to save files as PDF on my Windows XP machine. Being a SourceForge hosted project, I was quite confident that it was not one of those free software with crippled features which you only get when you buy the "Full" version or that it would be a clean software without any malware.

However, I noticed something odd today when I had to install it on a VM, during the installation process, it "asks" the user for installing an add-on "DefaultTab" (giving you an addon called Search Settings in your IE/Firefox/Chrome browsers).

In the screenshot below, you will notice the sneaky way that they try to make you install this malware:
  • The options to uncheck the three browsers are in a "greyed out" colour to appear disabled
  • The cancel button is also in a grayed out hue 
The only options that seem obvious are 1) to scroll down the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy text - which I'm sure more than 99% of users never read, and 2) the Next button.
Search Settings window while installing PDFCreator

Advice: when installing software, choose "Advanced" install rather than default and read the prompts at each step.

Another user found the inclusion of the malware distasteful for this open source project. His investigation contains more information, you can read it on the blog post.

PS: As it was a VM on which I installed it, it was easy to revert back to original state after creating the PDFs.

31 May 2013


What are the chances that we are still alive on this planet? ...

15 May 2013

Base64 image and how to save it

Almost 2 years since I put anything here. This post is as a reference if I need to convert base64 image data to an image.

I have seen the base64 encoded URI earlier and knew what it is essentially. For example:

The browser does the job of displaying it seamlessly most of the time. However, today I got it as text in a email. The email client wrapped each line by = and newline character. So I got curious how to "view" the image.

I took the following steps (possibly unnecessary as base64 command can strip garbage from input*):
  1. Saved the encoded data to a text file
  2. Used sed with the following commands to strip unneeded characters (I'm nowhere a sed expert :( )
  3. ~$&> sed 's/=$//' imagedata.txt > imagedata.txt
    (remove trailing = on each line)
  4. ~$&> sed ':a;N;$!ba;s/\n//g' imagedata.txt > imagedata2.txt
    (remove newline character from each line)
  5. ~$&> base64 -d -w 0 imagedata2.txt > imagedata.png
and the file imagedata.png is easily view-able in a image viewer e.g. Geeqie.
*: see base64 man page