30 Jun 2009

What would AirTel do?

What do you do if you owe some 60 paise to your old friend?  If you were AirTel you would spend some 5 rupees every month and keep assuring your friend that you still remember that 60 paise :)

29 Jun 2009

How I use Gajim for Google Talk

Edit: If Gajim doesn't connect to Google Talk, check if you're using talk.google.com:5223 as the host and port to connect to.  Here's a screenshot of the configuration window for reference.  (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

Original post:
Several times in the past I have tried to use a native IM client like Pidgin or Psi or Gajim for Google Talk (since there is no Linux version of official Google Talk client).  I tried about half a dozen different clients and liked Gajim the most.  However, there was something that stopped me from using it as my Google Talk client.

You might have noticed that if you change your status message from Google Talk (stand-alone application), your chat status in Gmail will be automatically updated to whatever your new status on Google Talk is.  And vice versa: change your status in Gmail and your status in Google Talk changes too.  This is a cool feature that's been implemented by Google Talk.  But XMMP, the protocol used by Google Talk allows users to use different status messages on different chat clients simultaneously.  Third party chat clients will not copy your status message from Gmail (or vice versa).

So what would happen if I am logged into Gajim and Gmail Chat simultaneously?  My friends would see the status message I set in Gajim and Gmail randomly* at different times.  Because of this I didn't use Gajim, although I disliked the slowness of Firefox.  Recently I found out how to use Gajim and "hide" the status message I set in Gajim from my friends.

Here's how I did it: In Gajim's account configuration settings dialog, I unchecked "Adjust to status" checkbox and specified a low priority.  I used priority 5; but any number less than 10 would do, I guess.  (When this checkbox is checked, Gajim sets the priority to 50 when I'm actively using the compuer, while Google Talk and Gmail sets the priority to 24).  My friends' IM clients, including Google Talk, would use the status from the client that has the highest priority.  Using a low priority ensures that my friends see the status message I set in Gmail.

But when Gmail chat goes "idle", it sets the client priority to 0.  That means my status specified in Gajim takes precedence since its priority is set to 5.  To prevent this, I always choose "Not Available" as my status in Gajim.  This way, when I go idle on Gmail, my friends still see the status message I set in Gmail.

PS: It might be possible that changing the priority is not required at all; but this is how I have set up my account.

* This is not really random; but I don't feel like going into the details.  If you read the whole post there's a pretty good chance that you will understand the "randomness" too.

25 Jun 2009

Disabling NetworkManager balloons

One of the reasons I hate Windows for is the frequent useless info balloons it shows.  Some people seem to like such balloons, including those who maintain NetworkManager applet.  Recently, we started using NetworkManager to manage the wireless network adapter, and I hated the frequent balloons that said "you are connected to so-and-so network".  Turns out that disabling those notifications is not very obvious (at least with version  Here's what you do to get rid of those annoying balloons:
  • Enter gconf-editor in command line to open GConf editor.
  • Navigate to /apps/nm-appletr in the editor.
  • Add a new key of Boolean type with the name disable-connected-notifications and the value True.

From next time, you won't see those annoying balloons when NetworkManager connects to a new network.

21 Jun 2009

If something can be used, it can be abused too

A bot called Luisa Buffington started following me on Twitter today.  But then, I didn't know if it was a bot; but the tweets didn't look "normal".  Just for the heck of it, I started following it too.  If the bot's account is still active, you can see that it's doing a good job tweeting.  A quick twitter search reveals that this bot is one among 8 other bots, controlled by the same program.  (I'm still following the bot though, to see how quickly Twitter would find this network and block all those accounts.)

16 Jun 2009

Quotes: To Kill a Mockingbird

I finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird sometime back.  One of the good novels I have read.  (Many thanks to the friend who gifted me the book :)  As with many other books, I collected quotations as I read.  Here is the collection:
  • Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read.  One does not love breathing.
  • The things that happen to people we never really know.
  • When stalking one's prey, it is best to take one's time.
  • People in their right minds never take pride in their talents.
  • It's not necessary to tell all you know.
  • You're not gonna change [anyone] by talkin' right.
  • One must lie under certain circumstances and at all times when one can't do anything about them.
  • A mob's always made up of people, no matter what.  Mr. Cunningham was part of a mob last night, but he was still a man.
  • Maybe we need a police force of children.

10 Jun 2009

GPRS/EDGE configuration for Android G1

I just figured out today how to configure Android G1 (aka HTC Dream) phone for using Vodafone India's (formerly Hutch) Mobile Connect GPRS service.  All we need to do is to create an APN with APN set to "www".  For Idea phones the APN is "internet".

Detailed steps for configuration:
  1. From home screen select Menu > Settings
  2. Select Wireless controls > Mobile networks > Access Point Names
  3. Select Menu > New APN
  4. Type any name you like for "Name" field.  I typed Vodafone Mobile Connect.
  5. Enter www for "APN" field.  (You will enter internet if you have an Idea connection.)
  6. Leave everything else to default values.
  7. Select Menu > Save
  8. Select this APN as the default one by touching the red green circle next to its name.  If there is only one APN, that would be selected by default.

9 Jun 2009

Base 10

You might remember this scene in Matrix and the dialogue "There is no spoon".  It's not very obvious for us to realise that there is no spoon, when the spoon is just right there which we can see and feel.

Like the kid in the movie, a comic strip on Cowbirds in Love puts forward the idea "every base is base 10".  When I think about it something is clear: there is no base other than base 10, and at the same time there is no such thing distinctly known as base 10.  All this while I was thinking we were using base 10.  Oh well, math and philosophy never cease to surprise us!

6 Jun 2009

Two mobile phone tips

Note Taking
Mobile phones are handy for scribbling down notes on the go.  But the trouble is when you want those notes on your computer so that you can merge the notes to an existing document or continue editing the notes with a bigger screen and keyboard.

I use AK Notepad on my Android G1 phone for taking notes.  Whenever I need a note from my phone on my computer, I choose the option to send the note by email.  That opens Gmail's mail compose interface with the note's contents.  I save it as a draft and force an email sync (by choosing Menu > Refresh).  Now, Gmail in my computer browser has the note as a draft.  I can now copy the note text and discard the draft.

Opening Long URLs
Let's say you are viewing a web page that has a long URL on Firefox on your computer, and you want to open the same page on your mobile phone.  Mobile Barcoder Firefox extension creates a 2D barcode (known as QR code) for the current URL.  You can use an application like Google's ZXing to scan the barcode from the computer screen and open the URL on your phone's browser.