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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Some Kind of Trouble: James Blunt

Just listened (in fact I'm still listening) to James Blunt's new album "Some Kind of Trouble". And before anything else I should say its good. Yes, its really good. Will it feature amongst my all time favourites? Possibly no. But in parts its brilliant, its sublime. Sort of reminds you what good music is really about. 

This album, for one, is much more optimistic sounding than his previous two albums. Though "Back to Bedlam" was his biggest commercial success, its his second album that I really like. Because it shows off more of his skill as a songwriter and this album basically continues the trend. I read elsewhere on the net that this album is already a larger hit than his previous one and I can see why - optimistic songs appeal to a wider audience.

Coming back to this album we've got songs like 'Best Laid Plans', 'Stay the Night' that present beautiful lyrics. And then there's 'These are the words', 'I'll be your Man' that have this funky, catchy tune. Not to say that its all good, but you cant really argue with lines like'The more that I hold on, The more that you let go' or with 'His father is not the man he'd like to grow up to be, And his mother is not ageing gracefully'. And then there's his soulful, high-pitched voice that communicates like nothing else.

James Blunt is back. Not that he was ever down, but now here's something from his stables that you just cant ignore. Love it or hate it, but there's no escaping this one. 

I for one absolutely love it.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bypassing Fortiguard

Since I'm back after a long time, I'd like to begin with a topic I really like - breaking rules. You see, our college has installed this hardware+software filtering system called Fortiguard, and we don't like it one bit. We did have a filter before that, but being a squid based proxy, it was just simple to get around. And therefore when this new system was introduced we didn't think much of it. But a little bit of googling showed that it is a pretty robust system and I didn't find a single soul who'd got past it. And hence this post.

What we have here is an approach that doesn't involve proxy sites. What are the advantages you ask?
Well there are a few. For one, most proxy sites don't allow you to login into sites like Facebook or Gmail and some to any site that requires a login. Even when a site allows such logins, you might not really want to use the service for fear of foul play. And then there's the ubiquitous torrents which cannot be used through proxy sites as they are applications residing on your computer. So the benefits are significant.

But if all you want is a site that allows you to browse the net freely, then this proxy site, BlueBox, by my friend Nandu Raj is a good bet. And the best part is - Fortinet doesn't block it (yet).

Now lets get back to business. We are going to use a service provided by the good people at 'Your-Freedom'. They have a network of servers throughout the world and allow us to connect to them using a little application. Once installed, every bit of data that we send from our computer is chanelled into their servers which then communicates with the external world. So to some remote webserver, it appears that the your-freedom server is trying to connect to it and not you. This is why, with a little bit of tweaking, its even possible to  use torrent applications (I'd personally recommend uTorrent: its light and its fast).

So what do you need to do ?

  1. Go to the Your-Freedom website and register for a free account.
  2. In the same page you'll see a lot of download links. Download the appropriate one for your OS. Remember that the Java version needs the Java environment to be pre-installed on your computer. Click here to get Java from the official website. If you don't have it or wouldn't like to download it, then use the standalone Windows or Mac OSX version.
  3. Install your-freeedom. Once the installation is complete, it'll launch itself. Select the language you want and in the next window, click 'Configure'.
    • Now a new window will pop up. In the 'Account Information' tab fill in your 'Your-Freedom' account username and password. 
    • In the 'Server Selction' tab move the sliders around to specify what you want. For example if you are going to use torrent, move the slider named 'P2P Server' to 'Require' and so an. 
    • Now click on 'Use Wizard'. Click next till it says 'Looking for Freedom Servers'
    • In the meantime, your firewall may pop up. Here allow the your-freedom application net access on all networks and watch the application run a battery of websearches to check for all connections that are available to you.
    • A list of servers available will be displayed, once the searches are complete. Select the one at the top of the list and click next.
    • If it asks for your username and password, enter them and click next.
    • In the following screen  it'll show the proxy name and port to use in applications. It'll be something like socks4/5:localhost 1080 and web proxy: localhost 8080.
    • Write down those details. Click 'Save and exit'.
    • Click 'Start connection' whenever you want to use the net without any restrictions. Wait till it shows an open door icon, with NO exclamation marks.
    • Thats all. 
  4. The application has buttons to configure Firefox and Internet Explorer to use it by default. What this means is that any sites that were previously blocked are now accessible by default. But if you wish to view a site that was not originally blocked, then you'll be much faster if you don't use your-freedom. More on that later.
  5. If you don't use torrent applications, skip this step. I'll use uTorrent as an example.
    •  Launch uTorrent. 
    • Go to Options > Preferences > Connection. 
    • Under 'Proxy server' set type as 'Socks5'. Set port as '1080'. Also tick 'Use proxy for hostname lookups', 'Use proxy for peer to peer connections'.
    • Click OK and restart the uTorrent. 
    • Now you should be able to use torrents like before, but with the 64 kbps speed restriction.
  6. Have Fun :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What could be the title ???

If you'll see, my last post was the one I posted around april last year. So its been a while, and a lot of things have  occured in between- for instance, I have become a PES fan and an anti-FIFA person - but I guess I'll be posting here more often. Seems some people read my blog after all... woohooooo :-)