The blog is still alive but in a coma!

I am really pressed for time in this internship interview, TA, exam, test and assignment scenario. Will post soon about something that interests me (or some new trick I learnt) soon :)


SMS Spam is good

Spam is usually bad; ‘usually’ because it can be used for fighting crime. Confused? Here’s a novel way in which SMS spam was used to identify a criminal’s location and catch him. It’s the stuff movies are made of :)

Google Maps and SMS

So the next time you curse your service provider for yet another SMS to download a ringtone, remember that they could be actually gathering more data than it meets the eye!


Orkut and a Worm

So its not often that my computer is actually infected by a Worm (or Virus). But then when I got an email from an old friend about scrapping when I hadn’t done so, I was surprised. A quick and thorough scan of my PC revealed nothing.

Now I faintly remembered receiving 2 scraps (which obviously looked like Spam) from my friends and that I had deleted them promptly. Could it be a case of Cross Site Scripting? A blog article that I read today confirmed by suspicions.

Now in my previous post I had emphasized my belief that “All input is evil” and even though Google seems to do a pretty good job with Blogger, filtering out bad HTML and unwanted scripts; it has failed to do that with Orkut. Especially when it keeps adding more and more features to make the UI richer and interactive, the importance of such measures increases.


One less thing to worry…

Under General By

From my Computer Graphics TA

Because of good performance in the course so far, you are exempted from
taking the finals and will still get an A in the course. (Of course, you
are welcome to take the exam if you enjoy finals).

Woo hoo!


Yahoo India SMS

At first when I saw this my reaction was ‘huh’ (can they afford to do this?). Then it was ‘wow’ it would be cool if they did that.

Finally when I found yesterday that my account had been upgraded to their RC (Release Candidate version), I couldn’t help but try sending an SMS and guess what ISDN (it still doesn’t work!).

Yahoo India SMS

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Look what I found!

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OK, so in the last post I talked about Atlanta being a city where people travel in cars. But day before while going to college, I saw this…



Hmmm, so they do exist in this part of the world. The next thing I wanted to know was the name of the company who made it and guess what! It was “Hamara Bajaj”, the humble Chetak. It seems that there’s a company in Atlanta that gives them out for hire.

Bajaj Chetak


Where people don’t walk, but drive…

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I have been wanting to write a post after coming to US but hadn’t got the time to do that. Now that I am in the middle of the semester, I finally got the urge to write about it. partly because there is this Labo( u )r day weekend, when I have almost nothing to do but go through my study notes. A picture that I took just now will tell, how empty the area really looks!

Labor day at Gatech CoC

The first thing that struck me about this country was that it is huge. No, wait, everything is huge; buildings, roads, cars, supermarkets, vegetables, Internet connection speeds (yes Europe has more, but they are getting here with fibre-optics) – USA is the place where supersizing started.

Georgia Tech is fine, don’t ask me much about it. I have taken up a course in Computer Graphics (seems a little advanced which is good), course about GPU programming and Multi-core processor programming (cool!, but have yet to start with the fun, I mean, tough part), Software Engineering (yes, I still need to learn how we make software, Microsoft wasn’t good enough :D ) and High Performance Computer Architecture (similar to ACA in NSIT but more current). No heavy special projects for me yet, am trying to see how this goes and will definitely work on one next semester.

Found two of my relatives living around Atlanta, have been to their place and enjoyed it! Both have young kids and they got along with me pretty well (or did I get along with them well, dunno).

About the title, yes, you would hardly find anyone walking on the streets except perhaps in the morning when they are out for jogging or when they need to reach their car; rest of the time people drive. Now gas (petrol for Indians ;) ) is no longer what one would call cheap here but I guess that people have become so used to driving that they cannot seem to do without it. There is a mini public transport system in Atlanta called MARTA but its so small that it would look like a toy train in front of the Delhi Metro. But then Delhi has n times the population of Atlanta and 1/n times the area of the city. So I guess that such a small train would be OK for the city, especially when half the people live miles away from the downtown area where most of the offices are. 

Oh yes, I got a new laptop. A Dell Vostro 1500 with GeForce 8400 graphics card (OK so its not a good as the 8800, but I don’t have fat pockets you know!). I got the card just for DirectX 10 support (which I learnt has a programmable graphics pipeline) and I plan to keep the laptop for a pretty long time, at least 3 years if not more.

Will stop here or my post, else it will start looking like an article. Will add more later, till then, I hope this blog will stay alive!


Au Revoir, Microsoft EPG

Under General By

Last year, I arrived in Hyderabad to work for Microsoft, without even knowing what group I would be working for. I was assigned to the Education Products Group and I had no inkling about what I would be working on. Thus was my demeanour when I came here.

Now after having spent a year here, I can only marvel at what I have been through. I was involved in the development of a CTP for a V1 product, researching new ways to add value to the product and finally the release of the Windows MultiPoint SDK. What could be a more awesome start to one’s career? Not only this, I came across brilliant people, not only in my team, but in various others and admittedly learnt a lot from them (and made friends with them too :) )

But life has to go on… and with a deep regret I have to put this behind me for pursuing my Masters at Gatech. Let’s see what life has in store for me.


AOL MyeAddress, completely non-functional; Tech support, completely incompetent

I have been an avid fan of new services offered by companies, to compare different ones and find the best to use. So for my domain I have been using Google Apps for e-mail and it has been working flawlessly. Needless to say I have been very happy with them (kudos!). Support was quite non-existent but never really had a serious issue with them.

Then Microsoft came with their Windows Live Custom Domains. Even though the package was not as good as Google, a sense of loyalty to my company drove me towards using it. Using it was a no-brainer. Sign up with your Live ID and register your domains. Since I was already happy with Google Apps, I gave it a miss. But when they introduced support for sub-domains I was more than happy to try it out and my mail.smart-techie.com is hosted on it. Not a problem with that ever, yay Microsoft. BTW their support was just great!

Now enter AOL. Famous for its terrible ways (and how it was made to make everything on its site free!). For sometime, they didn’t even have free customer support. When they came with one, it was pathetic. Now, I registered my primary domain with them for their myeAddress service expecting it… to work. Big surprise, it didn’t (actually it wasn’t that much of surprise).

Finally I found a link to contact their live customer care. Live… must be able to solve problems quickly.

Continue Reading >>


Inspecting Web Interfaces

(Continued from Secure Web Interfaces)

OK, I had a tremendous urge to call this post “Hacking Web Interfaces”. But due to some uneducated folks who believe hacking is a bad word, I think I will stick to its euphemism.

The most direct way to feed random data to a web-service is in a raw format. Use telnet for absolute low level communications or tools like Fiddler, for communications at a higher level like HTTP. But with sites hosting hundreds of script files and html pages on their server, this approach has become more and more impractical. But there are other means to mess with the client side code.

DOM Inspector

If you use Firefox, you will notice there’s a utility called DOM Inspector that is included with it. As the name suggests, it allows you to see the DOM of the rendered HTML page. But, it also allows you to modify that DOM. You can modify the values of the properties of different DOM objects in the tree and even insert new objects.

Let’s try this technique on a product of one of the largest software companies, Google Calendar. I will use no other software than Firefox and DOM inspector.

Let’s go to the Settings screen. They have a setting for the “Custom View” property for the calendar.

Google Calendar Settings

Now I am a guy who wants to know what he would be doing in next 2 months but there is no option for that kind of view. Hmm, lets see if the DOM can help us. Firing the DOM Inspector, we see that the logic is quite simple.

Firefox DOM Inspector

The value of the ComboBox determines how the duration for which the custom view display the calendar. The value in the ComboBox is simply translated to the number of days. So I change the value to 42 (which is 6 weeks) and save my Settings. Et voilà, I get a custom view with 6 weeks :) Cool!

Customized Google Calendar

Using Visual Studio with IE

IE has a script debugger built in, but it is worthwhile to go in for Visual Studio as the debugger of choice. There’s a free version of the Visual Studio suite called the Express edition available which you can download and use.

Now to make it work…

  1. Enable Script debugging in Internet Explorer.

    Internet Explorer Settings

  2. Create a New Solution with an Empty Website (File > New > Web Site…)

    New WebSite Project

  3. Go to Property Pages for the new Website in Solution Explorer and enter the URL you want to debug. Don’t worry if you don’t know the URL, just enter any URL and fire the breakpoints only when you hit the required URL.

    Property Pages

  4. You might get a dialog asking you to include the web.config file. Answer Yes and continue. Now you will be surfing with the debugger attached to Internet Explorer. You can hit pause, set breakpoints and even skip those functions that don’t interest you ;)

Using Venkman with Firefox

Venkman Firefox shortcut

I would have loved it if Visual Studio also worked with Firefox. There’s a solution called Venkman. I won’t go through the complete detail of how to go about using it, you can read it up here.

Venkman Firefox

I haven’t found a way to skip code (a la Visual Studio) using this yet.

You can change variable values by directly typing the JavaScript code for it.

The interface doesn’t have all the bells and whistles but should be able to get most of your work done.

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