Posted in TechTalk

Opera VPN: Because Privacy Matters


I don’t know about you, but I take my privacy seriously. Living in the Middle East subjected my online access into censorship. I don’t mind the government blocking various websites, makes sense to me. My paranoia is, the government must have its way of reviewing my weblog.

It’s like in Will Smith’s “Enemy of the State,” or in tv series “Person of Interest.” The thought of Big Brother watching my move and being able to record all my fingerprints electronically scares me. That’s when Virtual Private Network (VPN) serves me very well.

VPN comes with a price – around US$30/year bundled for up to 3 devices. Go for free version, then you’ll be bombarded with lots of bloatwares (unwanted programs) so annoying that you can trade off your privacy just to uninstall these adwares. Not to mention the time/data limit.

As a promoter of open-source apps, I am delighted to stumble upon Opera VPN. It’s interface is simple, just connect/disconnect. And you can choose which region you want to be identified. I choose United States, as some websites can be accessed only within US. Nohidden catch there, just a small ad banner at the bottom. It’s ok for me that Opera will monitor my activities, so long as I can seclude myself from the outside world.

Tips: go in-cognito mode in Chrome browser. This will not record (apparently) your browsing history. If you’re a tech savvy/enthusiast, you can go to Tor browser. Promoting anonymity, you’ll pass with lot of ports (nodes). This will slow down your browsing speed. That’s fine for me, especially when I’m into online booking, and e-commerce of some sort.

The only trouble I’m experiencing is about external link within facebook. I have to manually copy its address and paste to new tab. Quite annoying at times. I have to disconnect Opera VPN for a while.

This is a goldmine for me. Feel free to test its features, let me know your experience. So far, so good to me.

Freedom! 🙂

Posted in TechTalk

Instapaper Premium is free – finally!


Ever want to grab an article in a website without a hassle of copy-paste ordeal? Want to save (not bookmark)  a recipe perhaps, latest news, or touching poems for offline reading later? Then Instapaper is for you.

I’m using the traditional evernote add-on and onenote clipper to capture an article from my browser. I’m using Microsoft OneNote most of the time since it enables offline reading. However, I have to dig with each and every section of my notebooks to access it.

Now that Instapaper premium is free, as i often say “I’m in for a treat!” 🙂

The perks of premium app unlocks capabilities beyond the basic functions, which means extra piece of cake for me. As a heavy user, it benefits me a lot. Not to mention that I read a lot of stuff all over the internet.

You may also organize copied articles by creating folders and moving each article accordingly. Following a KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle, i name each folder on the website each article came from (i.e. “Entrepreneur” “SmartParenting”).

So if you’re fond of reading, yet always on-the-go, feel free to download Instapaper. This will help you as a reader, and blogger as well.

For open-source! 🙂

Posted in TechTalk

Reliving the Ubuntu Experience


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I just love the concept of Ubuntu – “unity.” If I’ll be an active advocate, I will drag on the street an open-source software. For obvious reason – it’s free 🙂

I’ve been using Ubuntu for quite a long time now. For a power user like me who get easily annoyed by Window’s occassional lag and clutters, Ubuntu, among other open-source Operating System (OS), works like a charm.

Crispy appearance, tweakable settings (those who played with Firefox theme tweaks back in the days can relate), open-source software, robust architecture, minimum hardware requirements, straightforward/intuitive interface – these are what Ubuntu has to offer.

Learning Curve

It’s not easy to embrace new, especially Windows is our comfort zone. My initial Ubuntu experience is somewhat devastating. Acting out of impulse, I wiped out my Windows XP and abruptly installed Ubuntu. Faced with unsupported drivers and unfamiliar environment, frustration followed leading to myself re-installing Windows. Then I abandoned Ubuntu.

A spark of curiosity never leaves me, so I’m ‘trying’ various Linux distribution (appropriately coined “distro” in Linux’ world) via flash drive. The closest resemblance to Windows is the Linux Mint, I enjoyed exploring it.

I’m still familiarizing myself with Ubuntu’s core system – its “kernel.” Linux is popular for bringing the command line to their users. It’ll be a long road to travel getting used to it, but knowing how your OS behaves allow us to modify it’s settings – and mostly can be done in command line. If you’re not into coding, worry not. Every issue in Linux particularly Ubuntu can be addressed in layman’s term. Dedicated communities are working together to improve the OS. They are not employees (who act like dumb robots in customers’ support hotline), but volunteers, common folks just like you and me – they can feel our pains.

Alongside Windows

I’m wiser now. From my experience, I can’t ditch Windows. I’m heavily dependent on MS OneNote, it’s still unbeatable. And being supported in Android makes me stick more with it. All important notes can be sync’ed across multiple device. 

Moreover, games and applications supported only by Windows can’t be ignored. The best option is to install it alongside Windows. Though Ubuntu can conveniently install in usb, you have to go beyond ‘trying’ this Windows alternative. It’s a way of showing reapect to community of developers who work tirelessly, collaborating ideas to arrive in stable Operating System.

Data Back up
It’s my worst nightmare – to lose data. Before making any drastic/critical move, always backup important files. Flash drive sits conveniently in your cupboard. Alternatively, cloud storage do the tricks. Better be paranoid than feeling sorry.

Let me know your thoughts.

Posted in TechTalk

Windows 10 – Stuck On You


Microsoft encouraged me to upgrade my current Operating System (8.1) into Windows 10 for free.stuckwin10 It’s uncommon freebie, especially Microsoft. Jumping on the hype, I understand that it’s their marketing strategy so why not?

This upgrade have 3 stages namely: Copying Files; Installing Features and Drivers; and Configuring Settings. The first two stages ran like a breeze, no hassle, no lag. However, the third stage kept me waiting for about 20minutes. BTW, I have an OCD of keeping a close watch everytime I’m reformatting/reprogramming my laptop. And because I’m impatient (and an idiot), I pressed the start button without releasing it, forcing the system to shut down.

Similar case: Stuck on 91% Restart or Wait?

It rolled back into Windows 8.1. Back to drawing board!

I’m re-downloading Windows 10. I’ll let you guys know if I succeed or fail (most likely, it’s not that I’m pessimistic about it. It’s just the fact that I’m dealing with Windows Operating System – well you know what I mean hehe)

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Update:

I dozed off while waiting to roll out installation for Windows 10. I reached the final step. But as I sign in my account, I am being bombarded with lots of “failed to execute” error. This reminded me of “illegal operation” error way back Windows 98 🙂

Frustrated, I switched off my laptop. I just can’t install Windows 10. So if you guys are being invited to upgrade to Windows 10 and you can’t help it but go ahead, please do these two actions:

1. Back-up important data. Over and over again we are being instructed to do so but we never learned.

2. Keep your internet connection fast. This can be overlooked in typical Operating System installations. However, in this case that Windows 10 is being downloaded from the internet to upgrade, then make sure to keep your pc connected – in the course of installation.

Guess what. I did not backed up my files. Lucky me, I’m uploading in the cloud (OneDrive) all my important files so I have nothing to worry. And I have fluctuating internet connection so lot of damages are done. But this did not stopped me from having a great day. My life revolve outside Windows. 🙂

Aftermath:

IMG-20150802-00003It’s about time to maximize the feature of my laptop. – the One Key Recovery. My system is now as good as new. I just have to get rid of “bundled freewares” that entangle with it.

Keeping in mind the two steps do not ensure us though that installation will work as a charm. Sometimes events happen randomly. We can take our chances anyway.

Piece of advise: Don’t upgrade to Windows 10, yet. Allow other users to experience the bugs and stress. Then Microsoft Team will gather these error reports and update their system. Wait for about 3 months. Then try this new Windows and may its beauty serve its purpose.

Let me know your thoughts and experience.. Thanks!