Turn your computer into an Internet TV – Miro

I always wanted to just have an Internet TV, no cable, no satellite, no terrestrial. Even when it comes to TV I want to watch what I want when I want, not when the broadcaster wants. Internet TV was the ideal. Main thing I missed was really good content with really good quality. Only hope was torrents, but it was not the same experience though. You have to download the movie file using a torrent client and then start watching it using a media player. YouTube videos were a big pain to save to share with my friends. Video feeds were another story; I couldn’t find a single descent client that will just work.

Finally there is a free and open source media player + Internet TV, Miro. You can download Miro from http://www.getmiro.com/. It is released under GNU GPL, you are free to use, change and redistribute.

Miro is a great piece of software that makes Internet TV a reality. It is capable of playing most video files if not all, built in guide to video feeds and podcasts with the capability to play them within Miro itself, capable of playing and saving YouTube videos, download Torrents and watch them in Miro, and best of all access to great variety of HD content. All this makes Miro the only media player you will ever want.

Miro binaries are available for all major flavors of Linux, MacOS, Windows. If you are not able to use any of the binaries you could always compile and install from source ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m impressed about what Miro can do, I think you will also be impressed. Download Miro now from http://www.getmiro.com/.

Automagically ping blog search engines

I wanted to automatically ping Technorati, Icerocket, and Google Blog Search, that means with no intervention the blog search engines should be pinged. I was alright with a delay of 15 minutes.

So I went about exploiting the XML-RPC services provided by the blog search engines. I came up with this python script. I set up a cron job to invoke the script every 15 minutes. See bellow for the source.

#!/usr/bin/python

import xmlrpclib
import urllib2
import os

from hashlib import md5

feed_url = '[Yorur feed url]'
blog_url = '[Your blog url]'
blog_name = '[Your blog name]'
hash_file_path = os.path.expanduser("~/.blogger/")

def main():
req = urllib2.Request(feed_url)
response = urllib2.urlopen(req)
feed = response.read()
hash_file_name = hash_file_path + md5(blog_url).hexdigest()

if os.path.exists(hash_file_name):
hash_file = open(hash_file_name, "r+")
last_digest = hash_file.read(os.path.getsize(hash_file_name))
else:
hash_file = open(hash_file_name, "w")
last_digest = ''

curr_digest = md5(feed).hexdigest()

if curr_digest != last_digest:
ping = Ping(blog_name, blog_url)
responses = ping.ping_all(['icerocket','technorati','google'])
hash_file.write(curr_digest)

hash_file.close()

class Ping:
def __init__(self, blog_name, blog_url):
self.blog_name = blog_name
self.blog_url = blog_url

def ping_all(self, down_stream_services):
responses = []

for down_stream_service in down_stream_services:
method = eval('self._' + down_stream_service)
responses.append(method.__call__())

return responses

def _icerocket(self):
server = xmlrpclib.ServerProxy('http://rpc.icerocket.com:10080')
response = server.ping(self.blog_name, self.blog_url)
# print "Icerocket response : " + str(response)
return response

def _technorati(self):
server = xmlrpclib.ServerProxy('http://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping')
response = server.weblogUpdates.ping(self.blog_name, self.blog_url)
# print "Technorati response : " + str(response)
return response

def _google(self):
server = xmlrpclib.ServerProxy('http://blogsearch.google.com/ping/RPC2')
response = server.weblogUpdates.ping(self.blog_name, self.blog_url)
# print "Google blog search response : " + str(response)
return response

main()

When ever the script is invoked it will get the post feed content, and create a md5 hash of it and then compare the hash against the last known hash, if they differ ping the given list of service.

This is very convenient if you have someplace to run the cron job. Even your own machine is sufficient if you can keep your machine on for at least 15 minutes after the blog post is made.

To run the script you need to python 2.4 to later and the python package hashlib. Hope you will find this useful.

Epiphany Anti-Phishing extension

I’m happy to announce the release of safe-browsing 0.0.1 for Epiphany, the GNOME Web browser. It will try match the url you are trying to access with the Google Safe Browsing black list of urls. If it is a match the view pane will be disabled such that the user can only view the page but not interact. The user will be free to browse away from the page by typing a new url. The extension will also add a indicator to the browser status bar. In the next relase an error page will be displayed instead of even displaying the evil page.

You can also report phishing sites by clicking Help -> Report Web Forgery…

You can download the extension safe-browsing-0.0.1.tar.gz

Follow the steps bellow to install the extensionn. I’m assuming you have already installed epiphany and epiphany-extensions.

Step 1 – Download the extension archive

 $ wget http://www.mohanjith.net/downloads/gnome/epiphany/extensions/safe-browsing/safe-browsing-0.0.1.tar.gz

Step 2 – Extract the extension archive to epiphany extensions directory

 $ cd /usr/lib/epiphany/2.20/extensions/ $ tar -xzvf [Location_to_archive] .

Step 3 – Restart epiphany and enable Safe browsing extension

Goto Tools -> Extensions and then select the check box against Safe browsing.

Step 4 – Goto a phishing site

Goto a phishing page, e.g. http://202.168.224.161/c.html at the time of posting.

Hope this extension will make your browsing experience safer.

GNOME Web browser Creative Commons extension

I’m happy to announce the release of cc-license-viewer 1.1.0 for Epiphany, the GNOME Web browser. It is capable of detecting Creative Commons licensed web pages either with rdf meta data or with the license badge from creativecomons.org and displaying an icon on the status bar.

This is a modified version of cc-license-viewer released by Jaime Frutos Morales. Jaime Frutos Morales extension is not capable of detecting web pages with the Creative Commons license badge.

You can download the extension cc-license-viewer-1.1.0.tar.gz

Follow the steps bellow to install the extensionn. I’m assuming you have already installed epiphany and epiphany-extensions.

Step 1 – Download the extension archive

 $ wget http://www.mohanjith.net/downloads/gnome/epiphany/extensions/cc-license-viewer/cc-license-viewer-1.1.0.tar.gz

Step 2 – Extract the extension archive to epiphany extensions directory

 $ cd /usr/lib/epiphany/2.20/extensions/ $ tar -xzvf [Location_to_archive] .

Step 3 – Restart epiphany and enable CC extension

Goto Tools -> Extensions and then select the check box against Creative Commons license viewer.

Step 4 – Goto Creative Commons page

Goto a CC licensed page, e.g. http://creativecommons.org

My next plan would be to extend the functionality of this extension such that more informative icon is shown at the status bar. For the time beign have fun with this extension.

The Google Highly Open Participation Contest

Following on from the success of the Google Summer of Code program, Google is pleased to announce a new effort to get young people involved in open source development. Google has teamed up with the open source projects such as Apache Software Foundation, Drupal, GNOME, Joomla!, MoinMoin, Mono, Moodle, Plone, Python, and SilverStripe to give student contestants the opportunity to learn more about and contribute to all aspects of open source software development, from writing code and documentation to preparing training materials and conducting user experience research.

If you’re a student age 13 or older who has not yet begun university studies, you could help out these projects. In return, you’ll learn more about all aspects of developing software – not just programming – and you’ll be eligible to win cash prizes and the all important t-shirt! You will, of course, need your parent or guardian’s permission to participate where applicable.

To Read more and take part go to http://code.google.com/opensource/ghop/2007-8/.

If you have already begun university studies like me you could always spread the word ๐Ÿ™‚

Using GNOME remotely via SSH

Have you ever wished that you had a GUI on a remote Linux server without using VNC? Actually you can use GNOME or any other GDM on a remote server via SSH, yep I’m not joking.

You need to have SSH and X11 running on both the client and the server. In addition on the server GNOME should be installed and SSH daemon should be running.

Step 1 – Turn on X11 forwarding on the server:

Add the following if it doesn’t exist or just change no to yes in /etc/ssh/ssh_config and save it.

ForwardAgent yes
ForwardX11 yes
ForwardX11Trusted yes

Add the following if it doesn’t exist or just change to yes in /etc/ssh/sshd_config and save it.

X11Forwarding yes

Step 2 – Connect to the remote server viw SSH with X11 forwarding

In order to enable X11 forwarding when you connect to a remote server via SSH you need to provide the commandline option -X. See the example bellow.

 $ ssh -X [email protected]

Step 3 – Start GNOME Session

You need to start the GNOME session for the GUI to show. By default GNOME session is not started for remote connections. It might take a while for any change to appear, you should notice GNOME startup sequence appearing in the client and couple of messages in your terminal.

However I do not recommend running X11 or GNOME on a production server, but this should be handy if you want to connect to your home computer from office for example.

TopCoder Open 2008 – Open for registrations

For those of who don’t know about TopCoder; TopCoder is one of the leagues for programming competitions, and it is fast becoming a major league. They conduct online competitions at least once a week and two major online and on site competitions. Read more at topcoder.com

TopCoder Open, more commonly known as TCO is one of the two annual online and onsite competitions. It is basically open to any TopCoder member who is 18 or above. In this year’s TCO there will be four competitions: algorithm competition, component design and development competitions, marathon competition, studio competition. Only the top 120 will make the TCO.

TCOO8 is open for registrations till February 1, 2008. This time around there is a prize purse of $260,000 and the most importantly becoming the TCO08 champion.

If you do register your self as a new TC member do not forget to mention my TC member handle in the referer field; My handle is mohanjith.

Microsoft supports OpenID

Have you heard about OpenID? The simple idea that your web address is one form of identity, just like your email adddress or even your physical address? Well, back in December, we mentioned how OpenID has been gaining momentum like crazy, but today, things just went to a whole new level. Bill Gates announced that Microsoft CardSpace will support OpenID. Finally Microsoft realizes that their identity solutions were late to the party ๐Ÿ˜€

Read more at Six Apart.

OpenID or CardSpace

You might have heard about OpenID and Microsoft’s CardSpace. Both provide SSO functionality. I personally believe that OpenID is better because it works the way you want and not the way some third party wants it to work.

Few days back got into a big argument with one of my friends over whether OpenID is better than CardSpace. The outcome of the argument was that CardSpace was better because the Windows CardSpace client validates the consumer requesting the token and selects the identity; whereas in OpenID it the user that would choose which identity will be provided to the consumer.

Today I stumble upon VeriSign’s OpenID SeatBelt Firefox Plugin, it provides Windows CardSpace client like functionality for OpenID. SeatBelt has phishing detection as well. So I showed off SeatBelt to my friend and he was convinced.

To make this post complete why OpenID is better than CardSpace. To start with OpenID is better supported; it works in any operating system or platform not just Windows. Second OpenID is well documented. Third OpenID is decentralized, your machine has nothing much to do with signing in except for the session. Fourth to use OpenID the users do not have to download anything other than the browser it self, if they need protection against phishing they only have to download a tiny(224K) plug in for their browser.

If you think different please add your views to the comments, sorry Blogger doesn’t support CardSpace authentication for comments ๐Ÿ˜‰

Adding social bookmarking links to blogger

I recently wanted to add social bookmarking links to all of my blog posts. As you might notice my blog is hosted on blogger, only way I could do that is by editing the template. I thought I would share how to get about editing the template such that you add social bookmarking links which will automatically add the post permalink and the title if possible.

To edit the template, Sign into your blogger.com account and goto Template -> Edit HTML and then select Expand Widget Templates. Search for <data:post.body/>, just after <data:post.body/><div style="clear: both;"> <!-- clear for photos floats --> insert the following code.

<!-- Start of social bookmarks -->
<div class='service-links'>
<div class='service-label'>Bookmark this post with: </div>
<ul class='links'>
<li class='service_links_digg'>
<a class='service_links_digg' expr:href='"http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&amp;url=" + data:post.url + "&amp;title=" + data:post.title' rel='nofollow' title='Digg this post on digg.com.'>
<img alt='Digg' src='http://www.mohanjith.net/images/service_links/digg.png'/>
</a>
</li>
<li class='service_links_stumbleupon'>
<a class='service_links_stumbleupon' expr:href='"http://www.stumbleupon.com/submit?url=" + data:post.url + "&amp;title=" + data:post.title' rel='nofollow' title='Bookmark this post on StumbleUpon.'>
<img alt='StumbleUpon' src='http://www.mohanjith.net/images/service_links/stumbleupon.png'/>
</a>
</li>
<li class='service_links_delicious'>
<a class='service_links_delicious' expr:href='"http://del.icio.us/post?url=" + data:post.url + "&amp;title=" + data:post.title' rel='nofollow' title='Bookmark this post on del.icio.us.'>
<img alt='Delicious' src='http://www.mohanjith.net/images/service_links/delicious.png'/>
</a>
</li>
<li class='service_links_reddit'>
<a class='service_links_reddit' expr:href='"http://reddit.com/submit?url=" + data:post.url + "&amp;title=" + data:post.title' rel='nofollow' title='Submit this post on reddit.com.'>
<img alt='Reddit' src='http://www.mohanjith.net/images/service_links/reddit.png'/>
</a>
</li>
<li class='service_links_newsvine'>
<a class='service_links_newsvine' expr:href='"http://www.newsvine.com/_tools/seed&amp;save?u=" + data:post.url + "&amp;h=" + data:post.title' rel='nofollow' title='Submit this post on newsvine.com.'>
<img alt='Newsvine' src='http://www.mohanjith.net/images/service_links/newsvine.png'/>
</a>
</li>
<li class='service_links_facebook'>
<a class='service_links_facebook' expr:href='"http://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?u=" + data:post.url + "&amp;t=" + data:post.title' rel='nofollow' title='Share on Facebook.'>
<img alt='Facebook' src='http://www.mohanjith.net/images/service_links/facebook.png'/>
</a>
</li>
<li class='service_links_google'>
<a class='service_links_google' expr:href='"http://www.google.com/bookmarks/mark?op=add&amp;bkmk=" + data:post.url + "&amp;title=" + data:post.title' rel='nofollow' title='Bookmark this post on Google.'>
<img alt='Google' src='http://www.mohanjith.net/images/service_links/google.png'/>
</a>
</li>
<li class='service_links_yahoo'>
<a class='service_links_yahoo' expr:href='"http://myweb2.search.yahoo.com/myresults/bookmarklet?u=" + data:post.url + "&amp;t=" + data:post.title' rel='nofollow' title='Bookmark this post on Yahoo.'>
<img alt='Yahoo' src='http://www.mohanjith.net/images/service_links/yahoo.png'/>
</a>
</li>
<li class='last service_links_technorati'>
<a class='service_links_technorati' expr:href='"http://technorati.com/cosmos/search.html?url="+data:post.url' rel='nofollow' title='Search Technorati for links to this post.'>
<img alt='Technorati' src='http://www.mohanjith.net/images/service_links/technorati.png'/>
</a>
</li>
</ul>
</div>
<!-- End of social bookmarks -->[/sourcecode]
Add the following code before <code>]]></b:skin></code>.
[sourcecode language='css']/** Service links style **/
.service-links {
padding-top: 3px;
}
.service-links ul.links {
margin:0pt; padding:0pt;
}
.service-links ul.links li {
display:inline;
list-style-type:none;
padding: 0pt 0px;
background: none;
}
.service-links ul.links li img {
border: none;
padding: 3px;
}
.service-links ul.links li a {
border: none;
text-decoration: none;
}


Then save the template. Adding social bookmarking links and submitting your posts to social bookmarking networks would improve the visibility of your blog and help drive traffic to your blog.