iRead, iLearn, iWrite. Hence, iBlog.

For Indian Military, Nuclear & Space matters, visit:

Friday, August 08, 2008

Keep your installed software updated using Personal Software Inspector [PSI]

Installed software in Windows should be kept updated to the latest versions of those software as newer versions not only provide better performance, but also patch any discovered vulnerabilities that could harm your computer. Though most software provide features to look for updates for those software, many don’t. It is also convenient if all the software that are installed can be updated from a single location.

Secunia Personal Software Inspector [PSI]

Secunia’s Personal Software Inspector [PSI], is a Freeware tool, that lets you do just that and quite a lot more. Listing out all the software that have a newer version available, it provides a direct link to most of them for download and update – very useful as you don’t have to bother yourself with trying to figure out which version of the software you need to download based on your computer’s configuration and setup – Secunia does it for you.

Being a software developed by a computer security service provider,  PSI also informs you of the potential vulnerabilities that the installed software posses and the degree of threat posed to your computer by that vulnerability. Based on that information you can take appropriate decision about that installed software, either conclude that the threat posed to your computer isn’t threatening enough or uninstall the software.

Though the number of software for which it informs you of update is vast, there were a few software that I use whose updates are not informed through PSI. They have thoughtfully provided a link using which you may inform them of the need to add that software for monitoring. Still of the around 103 software installed, 7 not being monitored is not that bad a record for this nifty freeware.

One thing that they could also have monitored, would in my opinion, be device drivers. However this may have been a deliberate omission as many choose to install non-official drivers for their hardware.

For keeping my device drivers in Windows updated, I prefer using another freeware – DriverMax.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

Google Sites with your own domain name

Just found out that you can use your own, custom domain names with Google sites. So I went ahead and created one for myself – This feature is currently available for users of Google Apps. You need to get yourself a Google Apps account and create a Google sites through it.

Login as an Admin and activate Google sites for your domain if not done it already. Once activated, you could create a subdomain from where users must login in and create their sites.

original subdomain

By default, it would be I changed the subdomain to You will then be asked to add a CNAME entry for the same.


Login to your DNS service account and add a CNAME entry for [same as above] pointing to


Once this step is completed it could take around 24-48 hours for the sub-domain to be accessible [safe assumption – I found it accessible in a couple of hours].

With the subdomain for Google sites for your domain now accessible, login and create a new site.

create a new site

Play around to learn how you can jazz it up with the features provided. Once done with the site designing you may log out. You now need to associate the site with the desired subdomain. Else, as the picture above shows, the sites homepage address would be duhh WTF !!!

Log back to your Administrator control panel and access the sites link. Click on the Web address mapping link to map the site to a subdomain.

Map domain name

Add the name of the site which you want to map [green] and select the subdomain you wish to map it to [blue].

Map domain

Once done, click on Add mapping [red]. You will then be asked to add a CNAME record pointing to in the DNS records.


Wait for around 24-48 hours and you will find your newly created Google sites accessible as a proper subdomain. Any page on that site will also have the same subdomain as an address like this.

If you have a number of online entities – a blog, a mico-blog, a tumblog, Flickr stream etc, then it would be a cool idea to have a nicely designed Google sites with as your homepage and that page it could contain the links and latest updates from all those other sites on it.

The fact that Google intends to develop Google sites as a full fledged platform of online presence can be guaged from the fact that it also allows you to use Google Analytics and Google Webmaster tools with these sites.

Google sites also allows you to choose the path name for a given page, independent of the page title.


Saturday, August 02, 2008

Send your name into space with the Kepler Mission

Kepler mission

Thanks to NASA, you can now send your name into space. The Kepler mission, scheduled to be launched in February 2009 aims to look for planets similar in size to the Earth in areas beyond the solar system and study their characteristics. This is based on the assumption that a planet similar in size to the Earth will have a higher chance of being able to support life than others.

The space-based photometer that is to be launched for this purpose will also carry with it a DVD containing the names of all those who sign up for this campaign.

All names and messages will also be forwarded to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum for archival.

Fill up the form to add your name to the DVD

Wikipedia entry

Once you fill up and submit the form, a download link will be provided to save the certificate as a jpeg file.

Thanks Shikha964 for posting the info on the forum.

Godspeed Google CLI-style!! Some things are so freakingly novel, that you don’t give a damn if its practical application is suspect. would be one such site. Goosh emulates the Command Line Interface of a Unix shell for performing searches. The interface is rendered using AJAX. Results are served up from Google, its specialized searches and Wikipedia. For example, typing Hancock will perform a normal Google search for the term. Type in b Hancock and it will perform a blog search for the term and will produce results accordingly. Typing in l Hancock will emulate the ‘I’m feeling lucky’ button in Google. You can also access your Gmail account with Goosh. It allow you to add searching with Goosh in the Firefox browser.

Type in h and then press enter to get the full list of commands that can be used with Goosh.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Submit blogs and sites to multiple Web directories and bookmarking sites for free

Submitting your blog/ site to web directories and social bookmarking sites is generally a good way of attracting interested people to your blog. You also get backlinks to your blog, that would play a role in increasing your pagerank. However, signing up at each and every directory and bookmarking site before you can submit your blog can be a boring and tedious process. I recently found this site that does away with the task of signing up with each directory before submission – all for Free.


Submitterbot is an online service that allow you to submit your sites/blogs to multiple Web directories and Social bookmarking sites without having to sign up on each and every one of them. It claims to be able to submit to more than 400 directories and an equally large number of bookmarking site.

The site has got a clean, uncluttered layout – a definite good first impression. Signing up was simple. You have to put in some relevant information about your site. Once done, you can start submitting your site to the different directories it supports. All you have to do is select the relevant category under which you want it submitted and, if asked, fill up the captcha. Once done, it will open the page to the next directory your blog can be submitted to. Submitting your site to bookmarking sites is done the same way. You submit articles to multiple article directories in a similar manner. Multiple sites can be submitted  through it, though at a given time you can submit only one site.

I normally wouldn’t have bothered submitting my blog to directories and bookmarking sites. But the sheer ease with which one can do so prompted me to sign up with the service. Submitting to each directory/ bookmarking site took no more than a couple of seconds. I must add, though, that the directories and bookmarking sites it submits to are all relatively new and quite unknown [to me at least]. But hey! it is quick and more importantly it is Free! [though it does some paid features, something that I couldn’t be bothered with]. It is a win-win situation for you [it is wise, however, to use an email id that that you do not use for important correspondences].

I Googled [not very hard ;)] for similar services and found that most of them are either paid or submit to a relatively less sites.

Your site being approved for listing on the respective directories is subject to approval of the directory owners you are submitting to [something that I just learned he he!!].

Submitterbot, in my opinion, is  a very useful service they have developed and could be used to good use by those wanting to increase their sites visibility. Give it a try – you might benefit from it.


Friday, July 11, 2008

How to use a custom domain name with Tumblr?

I recently started Tumblogging. Quite enjoy it too. I use it to share interesting News that I come across while going through the RSS feeds/ Google Alerts I have subscribed to. Tumblr is a relatively new blogging platform that has combined in its service aspects of micro-* along with the traditional blogging in a seamless manner. It also allows the user a high degree of customization of his/her blog. One of them is the ability to use your own custom domain name with your blog - Free of cost, quite like Blogger.

In order to use out very own custom domain name with our Tumblr blog, we would be using 3 free services.

1.) CO.CC [Domain registrar/ custom domain name provider]

2.) EveryDNS [Nameserver providers]

3.) Tumblr [Blogging service]


1.) CO.CC [Domain registrar/ custom domain name provider] is one of the two free domain name registrars that allows the use of DNS for your domain name. The other such service that allows the use of DNS is []. But IMO sounds better and most importantly sounds quite like a paid domain name too ;). So your custom domain name will read, where you replace example with the name of your choice.

Register yourself for an account with Once registered, on its home page, type in the your desired domain name in the box provided. domain name

If it is available [and for Free], you will be greeted with a message that looks like this.


Click on continue to registration. It will then ask you to setup the domain within 48 hours.

registered domain

Click on the Set up button. In the page that opens up, select the first option – Manage DNS. Add the following information the space provided for Name Server [will be discussed later] Name Servers

Click on the link [+ Add more name Servers] if enough boxes are not provided to enter all the Name Servers shown. Then click on the Set up button, which will take you to the page telling you that your change have been submitted – click on OK. You may now log out of your account; your work here is over.

You could use any domain name – paid or free.

2.) EveryDNS [Name Server provider]

We will be using the free Name Servers provided by EveryDNS for our blog. Register yourself with EveryDNS for an account. Once registered, log into your account. On the left, you shall see a section marked Webhop Domains. Type in the domain name you had registered with earlier and click on the button marked >>(basic).


Once done that domain name will now appear on the left column in the section marked Primary Domains.

EveryDNS domain

Clicking on it will open up a page showing you dummy entries for that domain – one A-record and one CNAME entry. Delete the A-record entry from there. Then got down to the section marked Add a record and enter the 2 A-records as shown. Click the Add Record button after each addition.

(click on the image to see a larger image)


Once the record is successfully added, delete the CNAME record entry. Your records in EveryDNS control panel will look like this.

EveryDNS records

Delete any records other than these two. Your work in EveryDNS is over, you may now safely log out of the account.

 3.) Tumblr [Blogging service]

Signing up for Tumblr is a quickie quickie no-brainer – just do it. The first time you login, you will be given a guided tour of sorts.

Tumblr customize

On the dashboard, click on the customize link. The page will automatically open up in the desired tab. Check the box and type in the registered domain name.

Tumblr domain name  

Once done, click on the Save changes box and log off. Wait for 48 hours [safe estimate] and you will find your Tumblr blog accessible with your own custom domain name.

Your Tumblog alongside your existing blog/site.

If you wish to maintain your existing site/blog along with your tumblog, then you could create a sub-domain pointing to your tumblog. This blog also has a tumblog as a subdomain – Choose any word that you wish – I chose tumblr. Go to your Tumblr control panel and in the very same place mentioned earlier type the appropriate subdomain.


In your EveryDNS control panel [assuming you using EveryDNS ;)], add an A-record pointing the subdomain to Tumblr.

Tumblr A-record

Once successfully added your Tumblr blog will now be accessible with the address which is a subdomain of our existing blog.

Happy tumblogging!!


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Update and backup your drivers with DriverMax

Just finished formatting and re-installing on my Windows partition. Of all the steps involved, installing the device drivers usually  takes the longest, not least because each of them need to be installed one by one, meaning multiple mouse clicks and is accompanied by a need to restart the computer after each driver installation [restart every time can be avoided, but it is preferable]. Not quite the case since the last couple of installs though ;).


Using DriverMax, you can back up all the drivers from your previous installation and install them all together in your new Windows install with a single click and needing just a single re-start.

Once installed, it also searches for updates for your installed drivers and informs you when available, thus helping you keep your installed drivers up-to-date. You can use it to generate a detailed report identifying each and every hardware present in your computer. This can then be shared with friends or your tech support guy. Very useful in case your computer starts acting up and you need someone to help you fix it without much trouble.

Best of all it is a freeware, though it requires you to register on their website for free before you can start using this useful windows-based software.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Windows Live Writer supports Windows Server OS and 64-bit OS

Windows Live Writer Technical preview Windows Live Writer (WLW)  has finally started supporting the Server variants of the Windows Operating Systems – Windows Server 2003 and 2008 and also its 64-bit versions of the Operating Systems. The latest Technical preview of WLW installs out of the box in both these variants of Operating Systems. So no need to go about installing it the old way.

The noticeable difference this time is that the technical preview was released as a *.msi file as opposed to the *.exe file they have been releasing so far. It means easy mass deployments of the software and creating unattended installations.

Having said this, what needs to be seen is how will WLW be updated on these OSes. Till now it has been updated through Windows Live installer – a software that is still does not support the above mentioned OSes. So does it mean the WLW’s updates will now be provided with Automatic Updates or is it that just the Technical preview is being made available to these OSes incompatible with Windows Live Installer while the final product will not. Hoping that it is the former.

Thanks Tony for informing me of this.

Sunday, June 22, 2008 : phun music thingy

20080622muxtape01 Okay....since the service's USP is its simplistic minimalism, this post too will be a quickie - the broom closet kind ;).

Remember the days of yore when you painstakingly created tapes containing all your favorite songs in a single tape. Those tapes, to create which, you raided, scrounged all around to find that one song which transported you to a magical world every time you heard it and had to have in your collection. The tapes which you guarded more zealously than a Bedouin guarding his water. Well tapes are no more and so is the need to hunt heaven and earth to find the songs, what with Google becoming a verb and a given part of our lives.

But the sheer joy and fun of creating mixtapes can now be re-created on the Internet with the help of Muxtapes. is a free online service that was launched a few months back to do just that - create digital mixtapes.

Simplicity is its USP and it starts right from registration - a quickie signup procedure and you are on your way to creating mixtapes muxtapes. You are allowed to upload 12 songs in each muxtape, around the number of songs that would fit in a tape and can create only 1 muxtape per account, though you can edit your compilation to include other songs. A sore point - I was unable to remove a song I had accidentally added till I had added all the 12 allowable songs. Once done, you can shared the URL with everyone to hear your compilation. The page listing your play list is a plain, uncomplicated white page, where you click on the name of the song to play it [flash needed]. It has also been RSS-ified so that anybody who liked your mux can subscribe to it for any future changes you make to the muxtape. The homepage randomly lists out muxes created by other members which you can listen to and if you like it, add them to your favorite. You can add up to 12 muxes in your favorite list. Each song in the muxtape has a Buy this MP3 link by its side, clicking on which will take you to the corresponding page on Amazon.

Though other online playlist services are available, which can be used for uploading larger number of songs and offers more features, think of Muxtapes as that One mixtape containing your all-time favorite collection of songs, or as someone pointed out, your favoritest songs - it has to be kept separate from your general collection of tapes.

It is a great service for all upcoming, unsigned bands to upload their demos and pass the word around about it. The plain, stark interface of this site might actually help them more instead of the garish, ugly pages they've set up on that Social Networking site.

On a side note, I realized that Muxtape is one among the new wave of micro* services being launched - services where you provide quick, sharp, focused content in miniscule quantity - an attribute that fits this site perfectly. In keeping with the spirit of micro, their blog too is hosted on Tumblr, as opposed to your traditional blogging platforms. Besides the mandatory announcements, it also lists out interesting muxes uploaded by members and interesting things that people are doing with their service.

I am currently in the process of compiling my muxtape - pretty much none of my songs have either been tagged or properly renamed in a long long time and so hunting for that song is turning out to be a b1tch.

Here is Mike Shinoda's muxtape - if you are a fan of hip-hop, then you would enjoy it. If you created a muxtape of your own, do share it here; would love to hear it :-)

Do drop in a comment with your views, suggestions and criticisms; would love to hear from you.


Sheeshh!! will I never be able to write a small post

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

MozBackup : Create backup of your Mozilla-based software [Firefox, Thunderbird, Flock etc]


MozBackup is a useful Windows-based freeware tool that can be used for backing up the settings and add-ons installed in Firefox, Thunderbird, Flock etc with just a few mouse clicks. It currently supports backing up of Firefox, Thunderbird, Sunbird, Flock, SeaMonkey, Mozilla suite, Spicebird and Netscape settings and profiles.

On being launched it automatically detects the presence of all the supporting softwares and lists it for you to select. On selecting the software, you can either choose to backup a profile or even restore a previously backed profile. If you have multiple profiles, then you can select the profiles to backup and also what components of the profile to backup. I used it to backup my settings in Firefox and Thunderbird and it worked like a charm. All my addons, settings RSS feeds, accounts were backed up and was perfectly restored when I did so on my newly installed Operating System. I use IMAP in Thunderbird and faced no problems in restoration. However a friend, who uses POP3 said that his mails weren't restored automatically in the new install, even though he had selected that component to be backed up. Looks like the latest version MozBackup does have issues with restoring backed up POP3 mails.

You can also automate the backing up process by creating a scheduled task for it.

An important point is that you can restore the profiles in the same version you have backed up from. Trying to restore profiles in a version higher than that from which you backed up from may not work [did not work for me].

If POP3 mails not restored

If you do face such a problem then you could rename the *.pcv extension of the backup file to *.zip and extract the content to a suitable location. Then locating the mail folder, open it and copy all the folders inside it.

 backup mail folder


Then go to the location where the new installation of thunderbird has created the same folder - mail and replace its content with the backed up content.



Voila!!! all your POP3 mails have also been restored now. There you go - all settings and mails restored.

Try it out and send your feeback to the developer so that it can be improved upon.

Do drop me a line giving me feedbacks, brickbats wombats and anything else that could help improve my blog - would love to hear from you :-).


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Gmail Labs: New features for your Gmail / Google Apps account

While tinkering with my Gmail account I found a new link in the Settings section - Labs. Clicking on it revealed a host of new features (12) including a Game that the Google guys had introduced in Gmail/ Google Apps account. They are deactivated by default and you need to activate them to use these features.

These features are currently experimental and released as part of Gmail Labs that they launched last week.

The 12 features currently part of Labs are

1. Quick links

Gmail Lab Quick Link You can include links to commonly accessed features and bookmarks here for easy access


2. Superstars

Superstars Mails can be tagged with different colored star icons according to their importance or categories for easy visual reference. Google has provided 12 icons of different colours to tag your mails with [12 features, 12 stars????] . A useful feature IMO.



 3. Picture in chat

20080617gmaillab03 Enabling this features will show you the pictures of anybody with whom you are chatting with them on Gtalk, provided they've uploaded a picture themselves [duhh!!]. Not too sure about its usefulness.

4. Fixed width font

Fixed width font Allows you to view the message in Fixed width font. Useful if viewing ASCII arts and such.


5. Mouse Gestures

Mouse gestures Invokes mouse gestures to perform tasks like moving through messages and going back to inbox. The perfect tool encouraging laziness, IMO. Will definitely find it useful.

6. Signature Tweak

Signature tweak Again a useful feature that allows you to place your digital signature above the quoted text to which you are replying.

7.Random signature

Random signature It will take the feed from a quotes website and included it as a digital signature for your messages. By default, if enabled, it would receive feeds from and use it as your signature. A fun feature to have, though no useful purpose served.

8. Custom date format

Custom date time You can choose the format in which the dates are shown in the messages received. Convenient feature to have.

9. Muzzle (????)

Muzzle Will hide your friends status indicator in Gtalk. Save screen space.

10. Old snakey

Old snakey They have included the all time classic game Snake. You need to enable mouse gestures to play this. Fun thing to include.



11. Email addict

Email addict In my opinion, the most innovative feature. When enabled, it will show a link on the top right corner of your screen - Take a break. Clicking on it will make the window inactive, thereby preventing you from using your email account in any way for 15 minutes

12. Hide unread counts

Hide unread counts Will hide the number telling how many unread message you got in the inbox. Probably a space saving move, not sure about its utility.



For some reason I was able to get the Labs option only when my account was opened in Firefox. Opera and Internet Explorer did not show me this option for some unfathomable reasons. Labs is currently available only for users who have selected the English version.

As these features are currently experimental, there are chances of they withdrawing some/all features. They have even provided a undo link on the Labs page itself incase you are unable to.

Clicking on this link would disable Labs in your account.  Note it down. Try them out and send them feedbacks if you got any.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Blogger Backup utility: Create offline backup copy of your Blogspot-hosted blog

20080617bloggerbackup01 Blogger Backup Utility is a nifty tool that I have started using to create and offline backup copies of this blog hosted on Blogspot on to my hard disk. Although I had created a backup earlier the old way, I found it extremely cumbersome to say the least. Using this tool, creating backup of your blog can be achieved with just a few mouse clicks.

The software automatically detects all your blog - just enter your Google username and password and it will retrieve the list of blogs in the account.

(Click on the image to view a larger sized image)


Once done, from the Available blogs section, select the blog whose backup you wish to take. You can even choose to take a backup copy of the comments in the posts. The backup can be saved either as a single file containing all the posts or discrete files for each post made on the blog. Once done, clicking on the Backup posts button will start saving the posts in its specified location. The backups are saved as *.xml files, meaning it is essentially backing up using the the feeds of your blog. You may also perform incremental backup of your blog by choosing to backup only those posts/comments made after a certain date; you can specify the date from when to back up.

The software does not backup any images I may add to the posts. But that is not a problem as such. Any image I use in my blog is automatically uploaded by Blogspot into a Picasa Web album folder [FTP publishing of images to a different host is a different thing and not being considered here]. The whole album folder can be easily downloaded on to your hard disk using Picasa, thus creating a backup of your images too.

The software can also be used to restore any backed up post that you may have deleted from your blog account online. However it still does not allow you to restore comments of the deleted posts.

Please note that for this software to work, you must have feeds for your blog enabled and must set it to full Feed.

Enable Feed for your Blog

To do so, click on the Settings link on your dashboard. Then click on the Site Feed link and select the Full option in the Allow Blog Feeds section.

Enable full Feed

Thus this software simplifies backing up your Blogspot-hosted blog [like mine] to mere mouse clicks. The software is currently in Beta version and it is expected that future versions will have more features like downloading images, saving posts in PDF format etc

You can also create online backups of your blog by automatically emailing the posts to a email address of your choice. You can use up to 10 email ids for this.

Do let me know if you have any queries, criticisms or suggestions.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Write and edit any PDF files for free

Writing on to any PDF file is not possible unless the original file creator allows writing on it (forms and such stuff). However, there are various software's available that allow you to do write on them even without the permission. Unfortunately all Windows-based software's are being sold commercially and not available for free use. I often have to write in PDF files and I refuse to pay anything to do so.

Foxit Reader is PDF reader whose reader feature is available for free use, ie, you can read any PDF files using Foxit for free. It also has a editor feature in the software itself called Typewriter. However for unrestricted use of the software you need to purchase a license from the developers. If you try to edit and save a PDF file using the free version, it will add an ugly watermark to the saved document.

However even the free version allows you to take a printout of the modified document without any watermarks added in it as long as you don't save the changes.

PDF reDirect [free version] is a software that is used to create PDF files from any document whose printout can be taken. Once installed, PDF reDirect appears as a virtual printer in your list of installed printers.

So next time you make any changes to the PDF file using Foxit Reader, instead of saving it, take a printout of it selecting PDF reDirect as the printer from the list. Foxit is foxed into thinking that you are taking a printout on a sheet of paper and so does not add any watermark, whereas you are creating a brand new PDF file with all the changes and editing you did using Foxit.

In fact you can use all of Foxit Reader's paid features in the free version in this way - just create a new PDF file containing the changes made in Foxit.

If you are using Linux, you may try out PDFedit for the same.

If you wish to rearrange the pages or delete pages in a PDf file, then you may try out a free online service - PDF Hammer to do so.

Do let me know if you have any doubts, queries, suggestions or criticisms about this post.


Sunday, June 01, 2008

Update : Make site accessible without the www

When I had posted about making your site accessible without the www, I had added an A-record pointing my domain name to a host that allows 301 re-directs. I had added the A-record in my EveryDNS account by using the IP address I had been assigned by axspace - This IP address points to their server my site had been assigned for hosting. Since a hosting service provider is expected to have multiple servers for this purpose, one is likely to be assigned to a different server, meaning, a different IP address when you sign up. So when you follow the method that I had listed out, it is expected that you use the appropriate IP address; that you have been allotted, when you add the A-record entry. Unless you do so and instead add a different A-record [which also belongs to axspace], you shall be greeted with a message that would say

Great Success !
Apache is working on your cPanel® and WHM™ Server......

The exact meaning of this message is not relevant, but if you get this message when you follow my instructions, it means only 1 thing - you screwed up!!

So find out the correct IP address and make the change accordingly.

How to find out what IP address your site has been allotted?

1.) E-mail sent by them

This is the easiest way to know your IP address. After registering with their site, you would have received a mail with the subject line : Account Information. The IP address can be found here immediately after the statement ’Your new account information is:’.

The information IP Address: (shared) is what you should look for.

2.) cPanel account interface

If you have deleted that mail [bad idea], then you may also find out your assigned shared IP address by logging into your cPanel account interface and look at the left column. Here you will find the IP address information under the section Shared Ip Address.

Shared IP Address

Note it down and then go to your EveryDNS account and make the necessary changes to your A-record for this site.

For the sake of record, you may also get to know your IP address while logging in [if you haven’t installed their security certificate]. If you are using Firefox, you will be shown a window similar to this.


You can also check it out if you have logged out and don’t want to log back in to see your IP address. It is shown in the address bar.


Now that you have seen all the ways of knowing your assigned IP address, there should be no more problems.