My Dominant Hemisphere

The Official Weblog of 'The Basilic Insula'

Posts Tagged ‘Linux

What Makes FreeBSD Interesting

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A Narrative History of BSD, by Dr. Kirk McKusick (Courtesy: bsdconferences channel @ Youtube)

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a 4BSD?
My friends all got sources, so why can’t I see?
Come all you moby hackers, come sing it out with me:
To hell with the lawyers from AT&T!

— a random, hilarious fortune cookie touching on the origins of the FreeBSD project

Howdy all!

Another quick post about tech stuff today. Someday I’ll delve into FreeBSD in a lot more detail. But for now, a brief rundown of why I personally think FreeBSD is one of the best toys around to play with today:

  1. Great documentation! Aside from the FreeBSD Handbook, there are two other books that I think do a phenomenal job in teaching not just the way things are done in the BSD world, but also UNIX philosophy in general. Michael Lucas’s, ‘Absolute FreeBSD‘ and Greg Lehey’s, ‘The Complete FreeBSD‘. My personal all time favorite tech book is currently, ‘The Complete FreeBSD‘. Note the emphasis on ‘all time’. That kind of thing doesn’t come easily from a person who’s not a professional techie. Although Greg ‘Groggy’ Lehey (as he’s popularly known) hasn’t covered the latest version of FreeBSD, a lot of the knowledge you gain from reading his book is pretty transferable. This book also teaches you how computing all began. From the origins of the word ‘Terminal’, to the Hayes command set (he even teaches you some basic commands to talk directly to your modem!), to how the Internet came to be shaped with TCP/IP and BIND and so on. Go check it out for free here and listen to Lehey and Lucas as they are interviewed by BSDTalk here and here. If you’ve ever dabbled in the Linux world, you’ll soon come to realize that FreeBSD’s approach in consolidating, streamlining and simplifying documentation is like a breath of fresh air! Oh and by the way, Dru Lavigne, another famous personality in the BSD world has a great talk on the similarities and differences between BSD and Linux here.
  2. Another incredible boon is their hardware compatibility list (a.k.a. the ‘Hardware Notes‘, that come with every release). It’s jaw-droppingly amazing that you are presented with a list of all known chips/circuit boards and the drivers that you’ll need to use to get them working all organized in such a neat manner right on their main website! Again, something that will definitely blow you away if you’re coming from the Linux world. In fact, when anybody asks me what hardware I recommend for good open-source support (i.e. cross-compatibility across major Operating Systems), I usually turn to this excellent list. It’s a great shopper’s guide! 🙂
  3. From my experience, it’s a lot easier to grasp fundamental concepts about the way computers work by reading about FreeBSD than by looking at books about Linux. In fact Arch Linux, which is a great Linux distribution that I recommend if you want to explore how Linux works, borrows a lot from the manner FreeBSD functions (its /etc/rc.conf file for example) as part of its KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) philosophy.

More on FreeBSD later! That does it for today! Cheers! 🙂

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October 25, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Posted in Technology, Unix

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لیجئے میرا پہلا اردو زبان میں بلوگ پوسٹ

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اردو ہے جسکا نام، ہم ہی جانتے ہیں داغ، سارے جہاں میں دھوم، ہماری زباں کی ہے ~ داغ

(ایک ضروری بات: اس مضمون کو سہی روپ میں دیکھنے کے لئے آپ ناظرین کو یہ font ڈاونلوڈکرکے اپنے سسٹم پر ڈالنا ہوگا. یہ ایسی font ہے جو خاص کمپیوٹر سکرین پر باآسانی پڑھنے کے لئے بنائی گئی ہے.)

آداب دوستو،

امید ہے کہ آپ لوگوں کو میری جانب سے کافی عرصے سے کچھ نہ سننے پر زیادہ شکایات نہیں ہوگی. دراصل بات یہ ہے کہ ہمیشہ کی طرح پڑھائی اور دیگر تعلیمی دنیا سے متعلق چیزوں نے مجھے کافی مصروف رکھا ہے.

میری ہمیشہ سے یہ خواہش تھی کہ کسی دن میں اپنے اس بلوگ پر اردو زبان میں بھی لکھوں. کیونکہ یہ تو میری مادری زبان ہے ہی اور پتہ نہیں کب اور کیسے میرا اس خوبصورت زبان سے رابطہ کچھ ٹوٹنے سا لگا تھا. شاید اس کا قصور میری سائنسی دنیا کا ہے، جو آج کل کے زمانے میں، انگریزی زبان پر ہی زور دیتی ہے. اور اگر اخبارات اور خبروں کی بات کی جائے تو مجھے کبھی یہ نہیں محسوس ہوا کہ اردو دنیا میں کوئی خاص کر انوکھی جیسی چیز ہو. لیکن اب مجھے لگتا ہے کہ میری یہ سوچ کتنی معصوم تھی. پچھلے کچھ ہفتوں سے میرے سامنے کئی ایسی مضامین آے ہیں جو انتہائی دلچسپ ہیں اور جو انگریزی زبان کی دنیا میں شاید ہی دیکھنے کو ملیںگے. یوں سمجھئے کہ مجھے اس زبان سے واقف ہونے کا مزہ آخر اب ہی مل رہا ہے. اور میں اس کے لئے کافی شکرگزار محسوس کر رہا ہوں.

آج کے لئے میرے پاس کسی خاص عنوان پر لکھنے کا رجحان تو نہیں. بس اتنا بتانا چاہتا ہوں کہ انٹرنیٹ پر اردو میں لکھنے کے لئے بہت سارے مددگار سائٹس ہیں. چاہے وہ Linux, BSD, FOSS سے متعلق ہوں یا پھر Windows سے. ان میں سے کچھ جو مجھے بہترین لگے، یہ ہیں:


  • اگر آپ کو لگتا ہے کہ آپ کا اردو ذخیرہ الفاظ کمزور ہے، تو یہ سائٹ آپ کو مدد کرے گی:
  • اگر آپ Windows پر ہوں، تو Google Transliteration IME Keyboard ضرور استعمال کریں. فی الحال یہ صرف Windows کے لیے ہی فراہم ہو رہا ہے :
  • Urdu Fonts ڈاونلوڈ کرکے انکا استعمال Openoffice, Firefox, etc میں کریں. بعض Fonts صرف Windows کے لئے خاص پروگرام کی ہوتی ہیں اور یہ Linux, BSD, etc پر نہیں چلینگی. Windows کے لئے بہترین Fonts آپ کو یہاں سے ملیں گی: . اگر آپ Debian جیسے Linux flavor پر ہیں تو apt-get کا استعمال کریں. CRULP وغیرہ کی جانب 3rd-party fonts کو اس ترکیب سے اپنے سسٹم پر ڈالیے: . واضح رہے کہ جس طرح انگریزی میں الگ الگ Fonts الگ الگ مسائل کے پیش نظر کام آتی ہیں، اسی طرح اردو میں بھی مختلف Fonts ہوتی ہیں جو الگ الگ قلمی انداز میں لکھی جاتی ہیں جیسے نستعلیق، نسخ وغیرہ اور کہیں ایک قسم کی font مناصب ہوگی تو وہیں پر دوسری نامناصب. ان پر بڑھی ہی عمدہ مضامین یہاں ہیں: ، ،
  • Linux, BSD وغیرہ پر SCIM اور IBus جیسی سہولتیں ملیں گی. ان کے ذرے آپ transliteration keyboards کا استعمال کر سکتے ہیں: , . اردو میں لکھنے کے لئے آپ کو m17 packages install کرنا پڑیگا. اور یے بھی مت بھولیے کہ آپ کو اردو زبان کی locales بھی سسٹم پر ڈالنی پڑےنگی. خاص طور پر جو UTF-8 والی ہوں.
  • Firefox کے لئے اردو لغت کو install کرنے کے لئے پہلے Nightly Tester Tools addon install  کیجئے اور پھر Urdu Dictionary addon install کریے.
  • Debian وغیرہ میں کچھ دیگر ترتیبات کے بعد ہی Firefox اردو الفاظ کو سہی ڈھنگ سے دکھاتا ہے. دراصل Debian میں Firefox, Pango font rendering engine کا استعمال بند ہوتا ہے جس کی وجہ سے اردو کے الفاظ ٹھیک نہیں نظر آتے. Pango کو واپس لانے کے لئے ترکیب یہاں ہے:
  • Firefox اور Debian کو لیکر مجھے یے بھی مسلہ کا سامنا کرنا پڑا. ویسے اسکا حل مجھے ابھی تک تو نہیں ملا ہے.
  • Openoffice کے لئے اردو لغت یہاں ملے گی: . اسے اپنے سسٹم پر ڈالنے کے بعد آپ کو Tools>Options>Language Settings میں جا کر Enabled for complex text layout tick-mark کرنا ہوگا. Default زبان کی فہرست میں اردو تو نہیں ہے. تو یہاں پر ہندی ہی رہنے دیجئے. ہوتا یہ ہے کہ جب آپ اردو میں ٹائپ کرنا شروع کرتے ہیں، تو خودبخود Openoffice وثیقہ کی زبان اردو ہے سمجھ جاتا ہے اور اسکا اشارہ bottom toolbar میں کرتا ہے. میرے تجربے میں Debian میں ایسا نہیں ہوتا. آپ کو پہلے اردو میں تھوڑے الفاظ ٹائپ کرنا پڑتا ہے. پھر bottom toolbar کے ذریے زبان کی setting مقرّر کرنی پڑتی  ہے. اچھا، چونکہ ہندی default CTL language ہے، جب آپ اردو ٹائپ کرنے لگتے ہیں، تو ایک ہندی font خودبخود منتخب کی جاتی ہے. جیسے Mangal وغیرہ. تو اس بات کا دھیان رکھتے ہوئے اردو ٹائپ کرتے وقت، اپنی font نسخ، نستعلیق، وغیرہ میں تبدیل کرنا نہ بھولیں.

تو پھر بس آج کے لئے اتنا ہی. امید ہے کہ آپ ناظرین سے پھر ملاقات ہوگی. تب تک کے لئے الوداع!

Copyright Firas MR. All Rights Reserved.

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October 10, 2010 at 8:25 am

Why The WordPress Visual Editor Doesn’t Work With Konqueror

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Today’s technology tidbits:

The dashboard utilises the TinyMCE javascript visual editor when writing posts in the WYSIWYG format. Unfortunately as stated on its website, TinyMCE isn’t compatible with Konqueror. Why not? Well, here’s a quote from the freshmeat website for TinyMCE:-

…the day Konqueror and Opera implement the Midas specification I will look in to these browsers as target platforms as well…

I’ve noticed one aspect about Konqueror. Developers seem to focus on satisfying W3C standards as their primary goal, leaving the onus on compatibility issues to website and web-based app designers.

Anyhow, I do hope Konqueror and TinyMCE can work together someday soon.

Ubuntu UK’s recent podcast had some very interesting discussion on Linux and security. Nothing’s bullet-proof 🙂 .

Links of interest:

  1. Debian Med
  2. Linux for Clinics
  3. LinuxMedNews
  4. The Linux Medicine Howto courtesy of The Linux Documentation Project

That’s it for today folks. See ya 🙂 !

Copyright © 2006 – 2008 Firas MR. All rights reserved.

Howto – Play Embedded Real Player Media in Konqueror Using KMplayer

with 3 comments

[Caption: 1st spot! Yay!]

Hi! Getting the plugin that comes with RealPlayer 11 Gold to work with Konqueror 3.5.9 is downright painful.

I figured out a way to make KMplayer work with Konqueror to view RealPlayer files. KMPlayer is nifty in that it can use multiple backend engines – not to mention xine and mplayer. This howto works for Kubuntu 8.04 (KDE 3.5.9).

Let’s get on with the howto:-

  • Download and install Real Player 11 Gold for Linux from here. Follow the instructions in this howto to do so.
  • Next install MPlayer and KMplayer from the repositories. Make sure you have all of the repositories enabled before doing so. Once you’ve done that, In a terminal just do the following:

    sudo apt-get install mplayer kmplayer

  • Now grab MPlayer’s binary codecs from here. The download is actually a single zipped file. Use Ark to extract it.
  • We need to copy all of the codecs to /usr/lib/codecs . Next we need to copy/overwrite some of these codecs with those that came with RealPlayer 11 Gold. RealPlayer’s codecs reside in the /path-to-realplayer-installation/codecs folder. Copy them into the /usr/lib/codecs folder. You can accomplish all of this graphically for this process to be more intuitive. For all of this, Konqueror needs to be run with sudo privileges. So in a terminal do:

    sudo konqueror

    Goto /usr/lib and create two folders under /usr/lib – codecs and win32. Now goto /path-to-realplayer-installation/codecs and copy all of the files to /usr/lib/codecs . Konqueror will prompt you that you’re attempting to overwrite. Have no fear! Proceed 🙂 !

  • Next we need to create symbolic links (shortcuts) to all of the files you just copied to /usr/lib/codecs in /usr/lib/win32 . To do so we do the following in a terminal (although you could try doing it graphically):

    cd /usr/lib/win32

    sudo ln -s /usr/lib/codecs/* .

    Don’t forget that dot! It’s not a typo 🙂 .

  • Now we need to configure the xine engine so that it knows where to look for the codecs. Open up Kaffeine. Goto Settings > Xine Engine Parameters > Decoders and enter either /usr/lib/codecs or /usr/lib/win32 in both fields. Click Apply and then OK. We have configured xine.
  • Now we need to configure Konqueror to use KMplayer to play Real Player files. Goto Settings > Configure Konqueror > File Associations. In the list under Known Types click on audio and select vdn.rn-realaudio. Click on the tab called Embedding. Click on Add and select Embedded player for KDE (kmplayer_part). You might be having other selections already in your Services Preference Order. So remember to place Embedded player for KDE at the very top. Repeat the whole thing with vdn.rn-realaudio, x-pn-realaudio and x-pn-realaudio-plugin all of which also lie under audio and for vdn.rn-realvideo which comes under video. Do the same for vdn.rn-realmedia, vdn.rn-realmedia-secure, vdn.rn-realmedia-vbr, vdn.rn-realplay, vdn.rn.realsystem-rmj, vdn.rn.realsystem-rmx under applications. Konqueror is now configured to use KMPlayer to play embedded Real Player media. Click on Apply and then OK. Restart Konqueror.
  • Test it all out! When an embedded media opens up, an embedded instance of KMplayer should start. You can then specify either xine or mplayer as the engine KMPlayer should use for the media. I’ve found mplayer to be more reliable.

Note that this workaround isn’t perfect and your mileage may vary. You’ll do alright for the most part though 🙂 . Readers are welcome to send in their comments! Cheereo 🙂 .

Readability grades for this post:-

Kincaid: 4.9
ARI: 5.2
Coleman-Liau: 11.0
Flesch Index: 78.7/100
Fog Index: 7.4
Lix: 29.6 = below school year 5
SMOG-Grading: 8.0

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Copyright © 2006 – 2008 Firas MR. All rights reserved.

Written by Firas MR

April 29, 2008 at 3:09 pm

Introducing Kubuntu Hippy Horse Omega Pony!

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Source, Author and License

Oh yea! Boy do I love creativity like this! lol .. This post is wholly and solely dedicated to the geniuses who’ve managed to devise quite possibly the most fantastically, stupendously, hilarious name for any linux distro in recent history! lol !!

Check it out here!

Readability grades for this post:

Kincaid: 6.0
ARI: 5.5
Coleman-Liau: 11.6
Flesch Index: 69.8/100 (plain English)
Fog Index: 10.0
Lix: 32.5 = below school year 5
SMOG-Grading: 9.7

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Copyright © 2006 – 2008 Firas MR. All rights reserved.

Written by Firas MR

April 1, 2008 at 9:50 pm

Posted in Technology, Unix

Tagged with , , ,

SMOG, Fog and Similar Things

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[Caption: The STS-92 Space Shuttle astronauts photographed upstate New York at sunset on October 21, 2000. Water bodies (Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, the Finger Lakes, the St. Lawrence and Niagara Rivers) are highlighted by sunlight (sun reflecting off the water surface), making for a dramatic and unusual regional view. The photograph was taken looking toward the southwest from southern Canada, and captures a regional smog layer extending across central New York, western Lake Erie and Ohio, and further west. The layer of atmospheric pollution is capped by an atmospheric inversion, which is marked by the layer of clouds at the top of the photograph. The astronauts were able to document this smog event from a variety of vantage points as they orbited over the northeastern U.S. and southern Canada. Source and License]

It was while reading a page from the Oxford Handbook of Medicine mentioning the Flesch Index and it’s applications to doctor-patient communication that first got me interested into readability indices. I’ve since meandered into some excellent articles (here and here) on the subject and have decided to include scores below each of my future posts . Why? Well, ‘coz it’s fun! I’m generating these scores using the GNU ‘diction’ and ‘style’ utilities (featured in this great article and available for download here. In Ubuntu Linux, just install the diction package through its repositories.). For those of you who’d like to add these stats without having to download anything, this website uses the same backends. The absolutely fun thing with that website is that you can see your scores change dynamically as you type!

For a very brief overview of what these scores mean, here’s an excerpt from the ‘man’ page for ‘style’ (the man page is licensed under the GNU GPL):-

Kincaid formula
The Kincaid Formula was developed for U.S. Navy training manuals; it ranges in difficulty from 5.5 to 16.3. It is probably best applied to technical documents, because it is based on adult training manuals rather than school book text. Dialogs (often found in fictional texts) are usually a series of short sentences, which lowers the score. On the other hand, scientific texts with many long scientific terms are rated higher, although they are not necessarily harder to read for people who are familiar with those terms.

Kincaid = 11.8*syllables/wds+0.39*wds/sentences-15.59

Automated Readability Index
The Automated Readability Index is typically higher than Kincaid and Coleman-Liau, but lower than Flesch.

ARI = 4.71*chars/wds+0.5*wds/sentences-21.43

Coleman-Liau Formula
The Coleman-Liau Formula usually gives a lower grade than Kincaid, ARI and Flesch when applied to technical documents.

Coleman-Liau = 5.89*chars/wds-0.3*sentences/(100*wds)-15.8

Flesch Reading Ease formula
Developed by Rudolph Flesch in 1948, the Flesch Reading Ease formula is based on school texts covering grades 3 to 12. It is widespread, especially in the USA, because it is computed easily and produces good results. The index ranges from 0 (hard) to 100 (easy). Standard English documents average around 60 to 70. Applying it to German documents gives bad results because of the different language structure.

Flesch Index = 206.835-84.6*syll/wds-1.015*wds/sent

Fog Index
The Fog index was developed by Robert Gunning. Its value is a
school grade. The “ideal” Fog Index level is 7 or 8. A level above 12 indicates the writing sample is too hard for most people to read. Texts less than 100 words will not produce meaningful results. Note that a correct implementation would not count words of three or more syllables that are proper names, combinations of easy words, or made three syllables by suffixes such as –ed, –es, or –ing.

Fog Index = 0.4*(wds/sent+100*((wds >= 3 syll)/wds))

Lix formula
The Lix formula developed by Björnsson from Sweden is very simple and employs a mapping table as well:

Lix = wds/sent+100*(wds >= 6 char)/wds

Index 34 <–> 38 <–> 41 <–> 44 <–> 48 <–> 51 <–> 54 <–> 57
School year 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11

SMOG Grading
The SMOG Grading for English texts was developed by McLaughlin in 1969. Its result is a school grade.

Grading = square root of (((wds >= 3 syll)/sent)*30) + 3

It was adapted to German by Bamberger and Vanecek in 1984, who
changed the constant +3 to -2.

Having just learned a lot of comp related stuff lately (LAMP server basics being one of them ) and reflecting on this piece of exciting news, I guess there isn’t anything medical on my mind right now ! So with that I end this post.

Do send in your comments!


Readability scores for this post:

Kincaid: 8.6
ARI: 9.8
Coleman-Liau: 11.1
Flesch Index: 68.1/100 (plain English)
Fog Index: 11.7
Lix: 41.9 = school year 7
SMOG-Grading: 10.6


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Copyright © 2006 – 2008 Firas MR. All rights reserved.

Extra! Extra! Aegis 2.0 Is Here To Save The Day!

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Source, Author and License

Dual-booters among my brethren will be very happy to hear about a new dawg in the neighborhood. Dual-booters, in this case refers to people booting Windows as well as Linux. Typically these users will access potentially virus infested files from Windows in their day to day lives and in this process might hurt other users using Windows as their sole operating system without even knowing it (Why? Because, Linux for the most part isn’t a major target by viruses and is a lot more seure). This could happen in a variety of ways, from sending an infected attachment by email to lending a friend a corrupted CD. To my knowledge, until now most virus scanners running on Linux aren’t real-time/resident scanners, meaning that they only scan files when you ask them to – on demand. Newer versions of AVG for Linux, etc. provide a resident-scanning function with a prerequisite that you install the Dazuko module. As I recently learned what modularity in the computer world actually is, here’s a starter for the uninitiated. Operating systems (OS) can be divided into two basic groups – Monolithic and Microlithic. These terms denote how drivers for your hardware and similar stuff much beyond my comprehension as a medic come built with your OS. What is a driver? Before we come to that, know this first. At the very heart of any OS is what’s called a kernel. The kernel is the first thing that boots up when you start your PC. When you’re typing in MS Word and reading the letters on your screen as you type, a variety of things happen culminating in the kernel speaking to your hardware exactly what you want your hardware to do. It does this by means of ‘drivers’ that allow it to speak to your hardware. Drivers can be built into the kernel itself or can come as what are called ‘modules’ that can be activated or deactivated as needed independent of the kernel’s function. An OS with the former configuration is called a Monolithic kernel while the latter is typical of a Microlithic kernel. Because a Monolithic kernel contains all the drivers patched into the kernel itself, it’s a little slower to boot than a Microlithic kernel. The fun thing about modules is that you can activate or deactivate them even as you’ve already booted into your OS and are working on your email, watching movies, etc. No rebooting required in this process afaik. Anywho, so coming back to our main discussion, Dazuko is a piece of software that you can either patch into your kernel itself or load it as a module. AVG for Linux requires Dazuko installed to be able to act as a realtime scanner.

I’m a firm believer in usability than anything else. Especially for average computer-idiots. As a matter of fact my tryst with Linux started due to the continuous slow-downs and virus threats in Windows. I still do love the general user interface and ease of use of Windows. I also like things cheap and don’t like to be cornered into a position where I’d be forced to use cracks, keygens and illegit stuff which for all I know might contain malicious code. Not being a software developer or anything like that (although you’d be interested to know there are medics who are hard core devs too, like Dr. Con Kolivas who is a practicing Anesthesiologist in Australia and maintains their society’s website), the ‘free as in speech doesn’t really get my attention as much as the ‘free as in beer’ aspect of Linux. Although, if I were to be a medical entrepreneur who wishes to start some sort of business or a hospital system, etc. I’d view the ‘free as in speech’ aspect with due respect too because in that situation I would be able to build a custom OS for my business needs, hiring an IT team.

For those of us who’d rather not install Dazuko and immerse ourselves in uber-geeky stuff, there’s a really cool development in the Linux Antivirus world. Aegis 2.0, a project in the alpha stages (meaning it’s not stable yet), is a real-time scanner not requiring Dazuko. Not as far as I can tell from its website.

Here’s an excerpt from the website:-

Aegis 2.0 is a ground-up rewrite of the Aegis Virus Scanner. It was developed as a modular and flexible system that can support multiple backends for monitoring and scanning. Even the user interface is decoupled so that it would not be hard to write an interface for another desktop such as KDE.

The old Aegis was a simple “on-demand” scanner – you ran the application, chose a directory, and the program scanned it for you. Aegis 2.0 is a background scanner – it resides in your desktop’s notification area, and watches for new or modified files in your home directory. When it finds an infected file, it shows a dialog, allowing you to delete or quarantine the file.

So go ahead fellas, check it out here!

Feel free to leave behind your comments .


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Copyright © 2006 – 2008 Firas MR. All rights reserved.

Written by Firas MR

March 24, 2008 at 12:03 am

Yay! I now BlogJet!

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Hey folks, thanks to an excellent article on installing BlogJet through Wine, I’m now basking in the glory of this fantastic program! W00t! Have to say, it’s replete with a host of amazing features I never even knew could possibly exist in such a program. And boy, do I love the memory footprint! It’s blazing fast compared to most other Wine applications. Fully recommended to all the blogging Linux junta out there. The flipside is that this is a piece of shareware. If you can’t afford the key, I’m sure there’s gotta be cracks out there.

When will software developers start accepting that making stuff cross-platform is in their best interests? Huh?

Copyright © 2006 – 2008 Firas MR. All rights reserved.

Written by Firas MR

March 20, 2008 at 12:04 am

Posted in Technology, Unix

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