iRead, iLearn, iWrite. Hence, iBlog.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Establishing a sustainable model for Electrically operated transports

Bumping an old post - watch.
Shai Agassi, ex-President of SAP AG (PTG) spoke at a lecture series organized by NDN in his capacity as the founder and CEO of his company Better Place. He spoke about Project Better Place, a developmental initiative of Technologies that would make the use of Electric vehicles a viable solution for everyday transportation needs.
Highlights of his speech:

Google's unwise spam/bot verification process

Needed to create an alternate e-mail account to transfer a certain group of e-mail types from an existing account to another to try and end the insanity prevailing in that account.

Being a long time user of Google's email service [Gmail & Google Apps] & the other associated Google services that one can access with a Google account, thought no further than Gmail again to create a new account.

However, I was dismayed to discover that Google now asks me for a cell phone number for verification to ensure that the account is being created by a human & not bot or spammer.

Google asking for a cell phone number to register a new account

Now, the reason I am dismayed with this step, does not have anything to do with any privacy concerns arising out of sharing my number, but the fact that it is now necessary to possess a cell phone to create a Google account.

It is an especially unsound move for a country like India, where, despite impressive cell phone penetration, not every body possesses one, yet. Now, it may so be that Google allows the number be used for verifying multiple Gmail sign ups.

So everybody who wishes to sign up with Gmail would now need to either posses a functioning cell phone or have somebody sitting by the side who has one, so that the verification code can be received - how cumbersome, a total put-off.

The reason given for them to implement this step is to verify if the registration process is being performed by a bot or human, &, if the former, stop it. But then if that is the case, why are people made to recognise a Captcha & enter the corresponding alphabets and numbers in the previous page of the registration process.

If Gmail has not faith in its ability to detect Bots using captchas, then should they not replace with some other form of captchas, say, like the Re-Captcha, an entity it bought over not so long ago or completely do away with captchas if they find it ineffective. Cell phone verification and captchas are nothing but duplication of the same intent.

I remember, when in the second year of college, being asked by classmates to assist them in creating their first e-mail account. I, myself bought my first cell phone only when I was the second year of college. Now-a-days it is, however, not a rarity to see kids as young as in class 9 & 10 carrying one around, as they race from one tuition class to another. However for a vast majority of people in India, a cell phone is still not an indispensable device to possess and many are doing fine without it. By coupling registration to Google account with possession or access to a cell phone, it is going to turn off a significantly large number of Indians from using the extremely useful set of services Google has to offer & turn to other similar service providers.

I hope better sense prevails over the people at Google & they roll back this step.

I, on the other hand, decided to try out Microsoft's Live e-mail account & created an account with it instead.

Microsoft considers password of medium strength even if its exceeds permissible character limit

As it turns out, your password will never be too strong for Microsoft, even if it exceeds the 16-character limit imposed on password length.

Update: [2010.09.27] After I posted this, somebody tried to create an account with Google, but was not prompted for entering a cell phone number. Tried it myself - no number asked for this time around. People speculating that since my IP is dynamically assigned to me by my ISP [Tata Indicom], the IP address [or range] assigned to me during that session was probably used by someone else to to create spam accounts [or tried to run a bot to automate signing up] & hence I was prompted to enter the cell phone number when I tried to sign up.

However, the reality behind this roll-back is likely to be far more mundane, having nothing to do with any abused IP numbers or some such gobbledok - it may just so happen that my blog is the first thing Larry Page accesses after logging on to the Interweb every day. So seeing me complain about the cell phone verification process, gets his coders to roll it back - a lot more plausible an explanation I'd say.

Godspeed


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

ZERO DAY: United States Air Force website hacked [defaced site]

The screenshot should tell you all - The United States Air Force had one its website defaced.

Click the picture to view a larger-sized image

Hacked & defaced website of United States Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals

By the time I got to the site, they had already restored the site. But Google still has the cache of the defaced page. Will be replaced after its next crawl of the page, so took a screenshot for posterity.

The website in question belongs to the United States Air Force's Court of Criminal Appeals. Ironical that your crime targeted a website dealing in crime.

The United States Cyber Command, with its annual budgetary allocation of $2 Billion USD [2008 figure] couldn't stop the exploit. Well at least they restored the site back to its pristine glory by the time I checked their site this evening. Also their main website was not harmed [at least from a visitor's perspective].

P.S: Is there any reason why the United States Armed Forces, with their multi-billion dollar budget and generations ahead jaw-dropping, eye-popping gizmos weapon systems does not do a 301 re-direct to take me to www.af.mil when I type in af.mil. I instead get the site not found page when I type the latter [Using OpenDNS, get re-directed to their page].Same goes for the websites of the other branches too. The United States Marine Corps website is however the exception - marines.mil automatically re-directs me to www.marines.mil - wonder why? Genuinely curious.

Godspeed

Possibly Related posts:

ns4.everydns.net Nameserver not responding

Thinkdigit.com Hacked !!!! (Digit's site hacked, but hacker causes no harm)

26th November 2008: Channel 4 Dispatches - Terror in Mumbai

Make site accessible without the www

Update : Make site accessible without the www


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Exercise Garuda: Indian Air Force in France [French report]

The Indian Air Force, in June, embarked on a trip to France to take part in the Grauda series of Air Exercises with the French Air Force. This time around the Singapore too sent in its Air Force flying the F-16s [Block 52 variants]. The latest issue of the Armee d'aujourd'hui has an article about the same. Can't read French - kala akshar bhains barabar :)

Click the thumbnail to view  a larger-sized image of the article

Armee d'aujourd'hui - French Ministry of Defence publication Armee d'aujourd'hui - Table of content
Indian Air Force Sukhoi-30 MKI at Exercise Garuda, France

Indian Air Force at Exercise Garuda, France

Indian Air Force in France to take part in Air Exercise Garuda

Of special interest was the participation of the French Rafale, with rumors circulating around the Internet stating that their participation was far less than what was earlier anticipated. Difficult to draw conclusions from this article, but the article says Rafales were introduced to in the exercise to "complicate matters"?. Also that the Indian Air Force flew on the aircrafts [twin-seater variants] and were mighty impressed with its performance.

More than 20 hunters can be hired on the same scenario, "says Lieutenant-Colonel Maurer. It even happens that hunters from other French bases just "complicate" the laborers, as the Rafale squadron 1 / 7 Provence of BA113 Saint-Dizier. The exercise area includes the Massif Central, a part of South-West and some sea off Corsica.

More than 20 hunters can be hired on the same scenario, "says Lieutenant-Colonel Maurer. It even happens that hunters from other French bases just "complicate" the laborers, as the Rafale squadron 1 / 7 Provence of BA113 Saint-Dizier. The exercise area includes the Massif Central, a part of South-West and some sea off Corsica.

In the middle, from left to right: A French pilot has the Rafale a "colleague" of India. Drivers and F16 Singapore. The 105th Squadron of the Air Force Singapore is set on the French base at Cazaux.

In the middle, from left to right: A French pilot has the Rafale a "colleague" of India. Drivers and F16 Singapore. The 105th Squadron of the Air Force Singapore is set on the French base at Cazaux.
As pilots, they show "a great curiosity about French tactics and procedures," as the captain concedes Amit Vij, the 8th Pursuit Squadron of India. But Garuda gave two of them the opportunity to fly on the Rafale. Although a significantly smaller size than the Sukhoi, the flagship of the French Air Force "was very impressed," said Col. India to follow suit before his crew towards the tarmac sunburned.

As pilots, they show "a great curiosity about French tactics and procedures," as the captain concedes Amit Vij, the 8th Pursuit Squadron of India. But Garuda gave two of them the opportunity to fly on the Rafale. Although a significantly smaller size than the Sukhoi, the flagship of the French Air Force "was very impressed," said Col. India to follow suit before his crew towards the tarmac sunburned.

On a side note, with UAE now showing less of an inclination to acquire the Rafales to replace their Mirage-2000 EAD/RAD/DADs & the Brazilian decision hanging in limbo & no International customer to show for the highly capable aircraft till now, the French would now be even more eager that India's MMRCA contract be won by it. Gives Indian negotiators the much needed upper hand in extracting the best deal out of them, if IAF makes its preference for the Rafale known.

I also maintain a tagging blog for noting down news of aircrafts competing the MMRCA acquisition programme

mrcanews.blogspot.com [Current]

www.mmrca.za.net  [old - now shifted to Blogger]

Godspeed

Possibly Related posts:

India’s Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft program : A comprehensive summary

World’s Air Forces and their Flying Machines

Pictures from Yudh Abhyas 2009 Indo-US military exercise

[not quite] Suggested Reading for the weekend – 2009.11.28

Aviation reading [suggested weekend reading]