Monday, April 29, 2019

Parrot 4.6 Linux Distro Released


The Parrot Linux team recently released the new Parrot Linux 4.6 with some major improvements such as KDE Desktop, OpenNIC support, etc. The new version is released after three months of a continuous heavy development cycle. It’s a big achievement for the team as they have now shifted to their own infrastructure using the same.

If you are unaware, the Parrot Linux comes in different versions with different goals. While the Home/Workstation version offers a lightweight environment for normal uses and privacy, the Security version offers a full-fledged system for pen-testing, forensics and reverse engineering. If you are someone who is not involved in any security work and just want the feel of Parrot, go with the Home/Workstation version.

What’s New in Parrot Linux 4.6?

The Parrot 4.6 Linux distro has added a new ISO image based on the KDE Plasma desktop. Before this change, Parrot distro shipped with the default MATE desktop. The new desktop flavor is available with both Home and Security versions.

Talking about the design, a new boot-splash animation and desktop background looks amazing. While the themes and icon remain the same, the desktop-based and some wallpapers have been upgraded to match the new look.

The APT’s enforcement of HTTPS in the new Parrot Linux is also one of the other major changes. The distro is now configured to redirect to HTTPS mirrors whenever possible. In case the HTTPS mirrors aren’t available, the signatures will be still verified.

In order to provide freedom to users and allows domain resolution of some special top-level domains, Anonsurf now comes with an option to change default DNS servers to OpenNIC DNS resolvers.

The Nvidia drivers are also updated to the new 410 version to provide better performance. The Parrot 4.6 comes with Linux 4.19 Kernel that may not be the latest 5.0 but comes with long-term support.

More info on this release here.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Why does our generation binge TV series or Movies ?


Let me start this by saying... "Our generation has no attention span".

The entire old guard of civilization thinks this about anyone under the age of 35, and definitely thinks it about anyone under 25. That's why news cycles are changing every 5 minutes, and those old media outlets still don't understand that this is exactly what is killing them - cutting to "breaking news" every few minutes, trying to add more and more ads to their content.

And what does this generation do in the meanwhile? Watches the longest formats possible. It started with a series of 7 books that became 8 movies - Harry Potter. It continues with the rise of long form conversations in podcasts and YouTube videos (some of them, like Joe Rogan are 3-5 hours long as routine).

And then it became really crazy. Game of Thrones spans 8+ years, 8 seasons, almost 72 hours of content. Most of the show is structured in such a way that a certain "setup" is sometimes only payed off 4-5 seasons down the line (with extreme examples)

The MCU movies span 11 years, 22 movies, 42 hours of stories (not counting TV shows) that are more character driven than old people tend to think. And now comes Avengers: Endgame as the single longest movies the MCU ever had, and it's also the biggest hit (seems like it will be, at least). And likewise, this grand finale relies on you seeing and remembering so much from so long ago.

Even those who have missed the hype on some of those have no problem doing something that even got it's own new term - Binge. People regularly set aside time and money to get invested into long form storytelling, long form science talks, long form conversations.

And yes, this generation has it's problems too. It's not a big secret that social media has made everyone isolated in their own bubble, and the devices have never been this intense, about anything and everything. 

Conspiracy theories run wild online, and there's no way to know if this is more prevalent in the new or older generations. But regardless, I have more faith in this generation than I have respect for the old.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

I know you feel lonely, You're not alone,


I know what it’s like to look at your phone expecting someone to care about you. I know what it’s like to delete your social media because you believe no one cares. I know what it’s like to lose yourself in Tv shows and movies because that’s all you have to keep you happy. I also know what it’s like to feel like you don’t belong or don’t fit in anywhere. I know what it’s like to have trust issues because you’ve been hurt in the past. And I know what it’s like to fall for someone you know doesn’t see you the same way.

I know about the late nights not being able to sleep because you’re crying too much or that you feel uncomfortable not having that one person next to you at night. I know that it’s difficult to make new friends because you’re shy and insecure or that anxiety just gets in the way. I also know what it’s like to feel Worthless, Abandoned, Hopeless and Stranded.

You think that it’s just you that feels all these ways. But I also feel it too, And so do others. Most of us experience some of these, some point down our track of life, but we can try to aim to better ourselves because of them. 

Those feelings don’t define who we are truly as a person but it’s how we can bounce back from them that they do. You are a kind-hearted, thoughtful, inspirational and one of the most caring human beings on this planet. You can do great things and see great things and work great things as long you believe you are great!

Because honestly, Regardless of how you feel right now, You are Not ALONE. I stand along you. I love you you good looking gracious person!

Netflix caps video quality at 720p for Chrome and Firefox users


Netflix supports 1080p playback on Safari and Microsoft Edge, but discreetly caps every other browser at 720p. 

You can test this yourself with Netflix's test pattern.

There aren't any options to change this, even if you're paying for 1080p. Fortunately, there is a Chrome/Firefox extension which bypasses it. 

Get the Extensions below;

Install Netflix 1080p - for chrome users
Install Netflix 1080p - for firefox users

Siri Shortcuts, Screen Time, and other iOS features coming to the Mac with 10.15

Apple is working on bringing the Mac and iOS closer together with the introduction of macOS 10.15 and iOS 13. Siri Shortcuts, Screen Time, and more are expected to be unveiled for Mac during its Worldwide Developers conference in June.

According to people familiar with the development of macOS 10.15 – which has been in the works for at least two years – the new version will include support for Siri Shortcuts, a feature introduced in iOS 12 which allows users to create custom voice shortcuts for actions that can be done in apps.

It’s also likely that the Shortcuts app – a result from the acquisition of Workflow – will be available on macOS, the inclusion of system-wide support for Siri Shortcuts on macOS 10.15 strongly suggests it. On iOS, the Shortcuts app is not bundled with the system, users have to download it from the App Store. It’s possible that the same will be true for macOS: users will download a Marzipan version of Shortcuts from the Mac App Store.

Supporting the feature on macOS is important so developers of iPad apps can more easily port their Shortcuts-enabled apps to the Mac, with the new SDK becoming available at WWDC. According to sources, only Marzipan apps will be able to take advantage of the Shortcuts support on macOS. Engineers are also working on bringing the assistant on macOS closer to its iOS counterpart by porting over features such as the ability to set timers and alarms and ask about air quality, currently unavailable on the Mac.

Another major feature from iOS 12 that’s coming to the Mac with macOS 10.15 is Screen Time. The feature allows users to see how much time they’re spending in apps and to limit the amount of time that can be spent in a specific app or category of apps, such as social media. Parents can also use Screen Time to set time limits for their children.

Screen Time on the Mac will work just like it does on iOS. There will be a new panel in System Preferences to configure the feature. When the time limit for an app has been exceeded, an overlay will be shown, allowing the user to either close the app or unlock the app with a passcode.

Apple is also working on bringing a new Apple ID management panel to System Preferences, including better support for configuring Family Sharing, similar to what’s currently available in the iOS Settings app. Yet another feature from iOS that’s coming to the Mac with macOS 10.15 are the iMessage effects such as confetti, lasers, fireworks and others.

macOS 10.15 should be announced during WWDC which starts on June 3rd, released as a beta for developers the same day. The final version for consumers should be available in late September or October.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Something about consciousness triggered a thought last night


I understood something about consciousness last night that I hadn’t grasped before. 

Talking about reincarnation, Alan Watts began to discuss how we do not begin at birth and end at death. Still, in my head, I wanted to scream, “Look at my body. It is all that I can live through. When it is gone, I am gone.” But I realised that is the easy way of looking at it. 

It is materialistic. 

What he was saying was that what we truly are is our consciousness. And consciousness is not something that is unique to me. I understand now that consciousness is also not turned on or off, there are degrees to it. But for the most part, consciousness is very similar for all of us. Not our conscious experiences, but consciousness itself. 

In a sense, I am just consciousness looking through my specific body. I use my mind which has been predisposed with certain abilities, traits, tendencies, etc… Using this mind with which I was predestined, I am living my life through this general consciousness. And if that consciousness is similar for everybody, then if I was born with somebody else’s body and mind, I would live a very similar life to theirs. 

Sure, maybe I wouldn’t be exactly the same as the way they are in THIS universe. But somewhere out there, I am the same as them. Somewhere out there, they are the consciousness looking through me. But it is oversimplified to say I am the consciousness or they are the consciousness because consciousness is just a thing in itself. Consciousness simply IS. 

So when we say that our life does not end it is because consciousness will surely come after us. And after all, isn’t that consciousness what we truly identify with? It is a trick to identify with the mind or the body because we have such little control over these things.

Travelling from Earth to the M87 Black Hole

Travelling from Earth to the M87 Black Hole, then Flying into the Event Horizon (Space Engine) from r/space

I recommend anyone that is into space and has a PC, downloads space engine from spaceengine.org. It's free and an absolutely amazing resource that simulates the entire observable universe.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

I've decided to #VoteForChange


I have realised that politics is like a pool of stagnant water. If you don't change the water often it becomes a stinking pool of filth which will breed mosquitoes.

In this elections, I have voted against the incumbent. 

Here's how I have arrived at my personal decision:
  1. I have realized that surgical strikes or Balakot or Pakistan bashing do not affect me directly. They will make me feel good momentarily but they don't affect me directly in my day to day life.
  2. Ram mandir construction does not affect me in any way whatsoever. It is just an obsession of cowbelt states, nothing more. Build it or don't build it, I couldn't care less.
  3. I'm a pious Hindu (probably more Hindu than any chest thumping asshole in the media) and I don't think "Hindu khatre me hai". As clear as that.
  4. I belong to a family of people who have served and continue to serve in the armed forces and I realize that behind every soldier their is mostly a middle class or lower middle class family trying to survive the market prices under tight budgets. So f*ck everyone who is trying to cash in on the lives of soldiers.
  5. I don't like my food choices being controlled by dim witted sadhus & sanyasis.
  6. I want my family to breathe clean air. Drink clean water. This govt rejected UN's reports about most polluted cities list and did not act on pollution when the evidence was right in front of their eyes. They waited for the issue to become an epidemic.
  7. I don't want my children to grow up in an environment of censorship. I'd rather emigrate than let them grow up without freedom of expression.
  8. I don't like the govt banning websites. I don't want 'hindu vs all' debates on my TV every day. I want actual news which I paid the stupid DTH guys for.
  9. I don't want my children to be dragged out of parties on Valentine's and beaten in the streets while the cops watch on. This thought terrifies me.
  10. I have never liked this "anti-national" bullshit that's been going around since 2013. This crap on social media has divided friends and families.
  11. I want a transparent govt that does not hold back information. Data must be made available to all tax payers. If you are using my money to run the country, then I have every god-damned right to know where and how you are spending it. That's it.
  12. I struggled during demonetisation for no f*cking reason. Missed work, cut back on spending, stood in early morning queues outside ATMs, had to suffer humiliation at bank and then from relatives just because I wanted to get my own hard-earned money to pay back lenders and landlords. Why?
  13. I want calmer people on the streets and calmer people online. Everyone is so angry these days because of our opinions, including me. And I don't like it.
  14. Some of my relatives & friends are having a hard time finding jobs despite having good credentials and educational background.
  15. Manifesto of incumbent ruling party looks like a cruel joke to me. Most of the promises are far far ahead in the future. Similar promises were made in 2014 as well.
I really really really think that a large scale cyber warfare is imminent across the world. I don't think India is prepared for it now and Aadhar has definitely made us more vulnerable to such attacks. This could be my paranoia. May be I'm just thinking too much on this one.

These are some of the major points that I have considered to form my decision. I have also heavily relied on local points like availability of basic amenities in my area, local security, local cleanliness and hygiene, etc. I think everyone must look at their own local issues too before electing a representative. That's the most important part of the whole exercise. Think locally.

Elections must always be about local issues. But since the media is trying to make the elections about only a handful of national issues so I've highlighted only them.

Disclaimer: These are my own personal opinions, observations and experiences that helped me decide who to vote for in the elections. You should follow your own thumb rules to make your decision. I don't know what the outcome of the elections would be but I definitely will be happy for choosing based on only my actual needs.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Amazon Hires Former SpaceX Exec For Project Kuiper



Amazon is preparing to launch its new constellation of satellites with the help of former SpaceX staff, CNBC reports. Last week Geekwire spotted Amazon's ambitious new project to bring high-speed broadband to remote parts of the globe in multiple public filings.

The plans to launch a constellation of 3,236 satellites is called "Project Kuiper," and was confirmed to Business Insider in an email from Amazon last week.

Are you that Person ?


You talk to everyone you meet. You wander around. You try to find out something common, interesting to keep the conversation going. You make some good impression.

You perhaps enjoy things you can still do. Perhaps playing guitar, video games maybe just cooking something nice for your wife. Trying to make her happy and not feel left alone. You don't have a high wage job, but it is something you love doing and in the end if makes life easier for someone else it's gratifying.

Then time to time comes certain people in your life. Perhaps to them you seem interesting. They get to know you at first. Soon as you know them better than before; you remain same being yourself but they suggest you to do something else. 

Find a better job. How boring your hobby is. 

The dreaded question "You don't go out much do you?" 
You ask "Why?" 
they reply "You talk too much like we are not that close." 

While them asking you every piece of advise imaginable for their relationship problems like you're some wise owl. They feel it's awkward for someone to be this open and easy to talk to.​

Is this fear? Is this different than what they are used to? Are you just a visitor and people expect you to get lost soon?

I feel some of us can relate. We are outsiders. We are strangers. We are that refreshing beverage that tastes so good yet gone too soon and after heavy consumption the "health" conscious might feel we are damaging. We have stirred something inside them that now they can 'think'. Nobody ever said thinking is an easy process. In some parts of the world you're not even allowed to think. So it's a new thing for them to 'think' again.

Might be the reason alone us strangers leave too soon.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Digital Distribution of Video Games is Unfair


While traditional definition of product implies physical presence, single-player games distributed digitally are basically the same as those distributed on physical media. Problem is that they are not treated in the same manner even though you are paying the same price or sometimes even a greater price.

Digitally distributed games are being sold for one-time payments and usually do not include customer service, management. Moreover, any later maintenance done on game, excluding new content and features (DLC) is due to product being broken or incomplete in the first place. Downloadable content is sold as separate product and we can not attribute it to maintenance.

What we are buying is essentially a right to play a game for undefined time period. By undefined time period, I assume that platform on which game is being distributed can shutdown in future. If you die, you should not include your Steam account in your will because sharing your steam password to anyone is against their terms of service.

Furthermore, physical copy of game can be gifted, sold or traded even after you opened a box. Digitally distributed copies, once activated on your account can not be traded or sold to anyone. There have already been instances where games were rendered unplayable due to shutdown of servers and DRM protection (Darkspore).

I am not fully against digital distribution but I just feel it is unjust to consumers. In comparison, Spotify is also form of digital distribution but it is being treated as service unlike Google Play music.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Lack of Social Interaction in Children


When I was younger I always noticed that as I was growing up, kids went outside less and less to play with one another. I always wondered if there would be any consequences of that and I think we are finally seeing it.

People don't know how to deal with common social problems that other generations simply adapted to and dealt with as kids. The things you figure out as a kid becomes second nature and we don't even think about it anymore. So to older generations, these problems seem petty because we learned how to handle them at a pretty young age.

To the more recent generation, a lot of real social interactions are simplified (or watered down) by tools that bypass certain difficulties of social interaction.

Just want to be clear, I'm not saying there are no real social issues. I just see people complain about petty things that should not be a big deal, unless you make them a big deal.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Is your mobile browser leaking Accelerometer readings ?


Pick a mobile phone to open this page in browser:

http://www.albertosarullo.com/demos/accelerometer/

You'll find the web gets accurate acceleration (x,y,z) value of device.

So our phone's accelerometer (and maybe gyro) data can be read via JS and leaked to web server。

When was this "feature" applied by w3c? I am shocked that "feature" is defaultly enabled on our phones. I also tested these mobile browsers who claim to be privacy-aware, to see if they prevent JS from reading acceleration:

Brave (fail)
Firefox Klar (fail)
Duckduckgo Privacy Browser (fail)
Privacy Browser (success)

Most mobile browser developers fail to protect sensor data.

That "feature" seems already been archived many years ago: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/4378435/how-to-access-accelerometer-gyroscope-data-from-javascript