Stemming the Tide

With all the accounts of Phishing horrors and IT security advisories warning against it, FBI’s breakthrough against a US-Egypt Phishing scam is definitely a welcome in the war against identity theft.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said 33 people were arrested across the United States early Wednesday while authorities in Egypt charged 47 more people linked to the scam.

A total of 53 suspects were named in connection with the scam in a federal grand jury indictment, the FBI said.

Authorities said the sophisticated identity theft network had gathered information from thousands of victims which was used to defraud American banks.

While there are a lot that remains to be done, the headway provides at least some sense of justice to those paranoid about their privacy and financial information in a world becoming more and more interconnected everyday.

Straight from its Nest

Screenshot-PidginI’ve been dabbling with Linux functionalities again these days so I found the inavailability of Pidgin since the previous weekend somewhat a hassle. I’m used to being available for relatives and friends using YM that’s why I took notice. I let a day pass thinking it could have been a temporary glitch.

I decided to look at it more closely, however, when the problem was still there the dawn on Tuesday. So to anyone still in the dark here, read on.

Turned out, according to Celtic Wolf, that an update in the Yahoo Network last June 17 was the culprit.An update seemed to be order so it was off to Pidgin’s official site. There, a confirmation of the problem was posted right at the main page so everything was straightforward from there.

After a few clicks and copy-pasted lines at the terminal, Pidgin was back in action.

Over OCR

I’ve never given a thought on OCR stuff much before because I never thought of a situation I would end up actually needing it.

Just early this day, I actually needed to find a solution towards that direction.

More specifically, I have a PDF from school with lengthy code in it and I need to have both server and client codes running. While the intuitive step of having the program files is to copy and paste everything, it turned out that things won’t be easy as that. It turned out that the text turned out garbled when pasted in Notepad++.

As a previous endeavor has shown, my tinkering inclination actually had me try to have the garbage figured out–how values map to the other. After a while I gave up though. I thought I should have ended up typing the 6 page mammoth instead of ending up having to spend an entire day decyphering the thing.

The only thing left for me to try was the OCR solution. Not wanting to have additional software installed though, I spent a few clicks at Google and found a surprising solution. Surprising in the sense that I never thought I’d find something of actual use for MS Office’s OneNote, its Copy Text from Picture functionality was literally a lifesaver here.

OneNote's Copy Text from Image

OneNote's Copy Text from Picture

So after a few clicks on Adobe Reader’s Snapshot tool before getting the text from OneNote, I got what my codes. Well, sort of since there were a few glitches in the translation that I had to correct still.

I’ll happily take that over straining these fingers having to retype everything though.

Mapping Development

world_map_01I remember when Internet great Google went on to release Google Maps a few years ago. The service made the once geographic modelling tool stuck in the pages of the Atlas a regular internet fodder. Since then, there have been a lot of innovations contributing to the technology and now, UN’s Millenium Development Goals are already in the map. Thanks to the possible related posts facility of WordPress.com for the find btw.

I remember writing about the UN’s Millenium Development Goals here. It’s pretty interesting to encounter them in a new and different light though. Cheers to Technology.

Towards the Horizon Further

It seems there’s nothing wrong with how I did the previous semester. I’m now expecting at least decent grades to keep my status in the program safe. No worries unlike the previous semester in short.

Having IS295a as my only major subject this coming semester, I have to start thinking about the final project required of MIS students before graduating the program. I have some ideas in mind already and I thank the people at the UPOU kapehan for leaving the trails from previous discussions there. For now, I’m reading on related stuff to give me an idea on how much I would score on innovativeness, creativity and usefulness.

As for those MIS classmates from IS201 who have been asking what to expect from the next semester, I gave a rather vague answer in the forum. That is, IS215 is a lot like IS214 in terms of the requirements–4 FMA’s and a 170 multiple choice type of final exam–and IS226 is a web programming crash course. With that said, I discouraged people from enrolling in 9 units again if they already took up 9 units the past semester and found it too difficult to manage their studies among their routines.

To anyone who might find that still unclear, here’s an attempt to explain what’s in store for the student further without getting me in trouble.

While the requirements for IS215 and IS214 seems similar, the resemblance ends there. I can say that while there were tons of concepts to be remembered in IS215, there are even more concepts in IS214. However IS215 outdoes IS214 in terms of the requiring the student to think analytically. Sure there are a number of algorithms discussed in IS214 too but even those taken collectively doesn’t beat having to think of coming up with stuff given just a sequential storage and crude assembly-like language.

So if one were the I-can-remember-tons-of-information kind of person, then IS214 would be easier. If one were the I-hate-having-to-memorize-because-I-was-made-to-analyze type of person, then IS215 would be easier.

I find no point in contrasting IS201 with IS226 however. Taken per se, one is entirely different from the other. The former deals with computer ethics while the latter with Web Technologies. Sure there may be times when both disciplines overlap, (e.g. “How do I go after someone who lifted of my content?”, “How would I be liable if I use this graphic?”) but the amount of time and effort to be spent in either subject depends on the ability of the student involving different skills. IS201 is more on writing and interaction on issues while IS226 is about putting those technologies to use.

So I would imagine someone with the intention to shift to the field of IT having more difficulty learning a whole bunch of technologies and making use of them to come up with the requirements. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised that the student who is almost exclusively a programmer at work would somewhat find IS226 somewhat to his or her liking.

A caveat is in order here though. I’ve been a web developer for many years prior to taking up the course but still had my share of difficulties in managing time in the subject. I may have done web applications in the past but none of those were cross-browser compatible. That’s because businesses tend to limit browser support to the most popular browser, IE, especially when a cross browser compatible site carries a heftier price tag with it or given an idea of the composition of its user base. I’m not complaining though, it makes life easier at work really.

The inexperience on web standards took its toll when I was a student of the subject though. While I already knew of the soup that’s XHTML, CSS and Javascript, it took a more rigid approach and more refinement before my deliverable passed the HTML and CSS validator at W3C. Before I forget, don’t even think of passing off that obfuscated tabled layout.

Someone new to the whole programming-the-web thing will definitely find Firefox and these plugins helpful though. Personally, I’ve used Firebug and Fireshot over there and I can say it works like a charm. Note though that it was still Firefox 2 for me then. I’m having trouble keeping my Firefox 3 sessions last long enough without crashing them so I can’t say that I’m recommending that record-setting attempt for now.

So should someone from the IS201 people find this post, (as my dashboard seems to suggest,) I hope that was more of help.

Alternative to an Alternative

I switched to Firefox way back mainly because of a lot of reasons adding up to my over-all discontent on Internet Explorer. I was glad I made the switch then. Enhanced usability, less pop-ups and faster loading of pages was all too good reasons to have me consider another browser for my needs.

Add the fact that I get plugins to serve my purposes had me contented for long. Throw in Firebug for tinkerking HTML, XHTML, JavaScript, CSS and real time DOM values in browsing sessions, and Fireshot for handy page or window screencaptures and Firefox has a happy customer in me. The fact that there are more plugin goodies for firefox out there all the more emphasizes how much IE pales in comparison with Mozilla Foundation’s baby.

With persistent and erratic crashes of my browsing sessions with Firefox 3 these days however, I decided to look elsewhere. At least for now.

Larry was right in pointing out those crashes. Firefox 3 does prove to be more of an annoyance than a step forward in terms of internet experience. The next logical stop for me then would be Opera.

The Opera Browser

The Opera Browser

The said browser had its roots early on during the early days of the IE-Netscape browser wars and is still on its feet after so many years. These days it has the lead in mobile browser usage. While I’ve used the browser sparingly then mainly to come up with screenshots for my web programming class, it’s only now that I appreciate what it lays on the table. I’m pretty much obliged to say that I’m still learning the ropes hereas there seems to be indeed a lot of cards from this direction.

Like Firefox, it takes pride in fast loading of web pages as much as in its adherence to web standards. Unlike Firefox though, its latest release was more than a step forward in the browser race. Throw in Dragonfly for us Web Developers and Opera has just shifted its contention among big names in desktop browsers up a notch.

A Video and Cake Hence

It seems a lot of geeks can’t get enough of the firefox 3 download day gimmick and as a consequence of the social surplus getting more and more out of people’s time these days, a video at YouTube now presents a parody of microsoft’s supposed predicament on the mozilla phenomenon:

Not bad for the first video I get to post here. The cake is shown here and thanks to minor of highfiber for the stuff by the way.