Posts tagged course
Today for the first time I tried out the Google Trends Webpage for myself. First confrontation that came to mind was as obvious as it was surprising.
It somehow makes sense when actually it doesn’t. Searches for “iPhone” since even before its release have never once been surpassed by those for “Android”. Another fun-fact is that it seems like the lower blue Graph has some direct connections to the upper one. Whenever the News Reference Volume for “iPhone” increased heavily the Search Volume Index did the same with a certain delay. The significant timestamps marked in the upper Graph are the following.
As we know the original iPhone has been presented in early 2007, has been released in mid 2007 (huge upward burst in searches) and “A”marks the release of its successor, the iPhone 3G. Android on the other hand has been bought by Google in 2005 and had its initial release in late 2008. This definitely hasn’t been as much of a hit on Google Search.
Of course I’m not implying anything about the capabilities or limitations of those Subjects. I just wanted to share this because the Trends didn’t even remotely compare the way i expected them to.
As readers of my (outdated) Google Blog have already noticed I have recently changed my Blogging-Engine to WordPress. I am still fairly new to this platform but since this is a self-hosted WordPress.org Blog I have all the functionality of WordPress at my fingertips.
One major change I have introduced most recently is that I want to make this Blog a bit more vivid by not only posting original Content to it but also fun bits I find on other Websites. These will fortunately not show up on the front-page of this Blog, however they will show up in the main RSS Feed and of course on their own separate Page. If you don’t want those things to show up in your RSS Reader I suggest you subscribe to one or both of the English and German Feeds because that’s where all my other Posts end up based on their language.
I hope this change injects some much-needed life into this blog and I look forward to sharing my sense of humour with you.
One or two years ago I was fortunate enough to register for a Spotify-Account while they could be registered for free from the UK. I grabbed myself a UK based Proxy and registered. Normally the only way to get an Account still is to be invited by existing users as far as I know.
For those who don’t know Spotify: Spotify is a music service connected to a Jukebox by the same name (downloadable for Windows and Mac so far), much like iTunes, the main difference however is that with Spotify the music inside this Jukebox doesn’t primarily come from your hard drive but from Spotify’s servers. So as a layman, just imagine the joy of being able to listen to millions of songs, on demand, for free, whenever you want to listen to them.
Of course this comes with a few downsides. Unless you have a Premium Account, Spotify is Ad-Supported. This includes both Banners inside the application and Sound clips that interrupt your music-experience for a few seconds. I personally still believe this offering is worth all the trouble, which lets me come to a second major downside: Spotify is only usable from a few select European countries so far. Once you log into the application from one of these countries you can use it from anywhere for 14 days, even with a non-Premium Account.
So yesterday after installing Spotify the login-screen told me, as expected, that my country of residence doesn’t match the one in my profile. (Updating the profile as suggested isn’t really an option at this point)
Solution: Part 1
So without going further into detail about the Tor-Project and what it does, I thought this could do the trick. One major difficulty about this, however, was that I didn’t really know a way to “choose” which identity from the Tor Network I wanted to use. But a little bit of googling around and reading the Tor documentation brought me an answer that would spare me the pain of having to use netcat to connect to the Tor Control Port (9051), having to learn and punch in some commands and so on. (Or even worse: Click “Use new Identity” over and over again and pray to god for the right IP Address)
All you have to do is download a complete Tor Package for your Operating System and follow these steps:
- Find your torrc file. (If you use Vidalia, it is configured under Settings > Advanced)
- Open it with the text editor of your choice.
- In a new line, enter ExitNodes $fingerprint, $fingerprint, … where $fingerprint is the fingerprint of a Node from the Tor Network. These can be found and copied to the clipboard in Vidalia by clicking on “View the Network” and right-clicking on any Node.
- (Re)Start Tor/Vidalia.
Unless you write StrictNodes 1 into the torrc file (which I don’t recommend) this declaration of Exit Nodes is just a list of preferred Nodes, it is still possible that your Tor Route will have its exit at another Node. Information about all the other possible entries for the torrc can be found in the Tor Manual.
Solution: Part 2
So now that we have found a way to guarantee almost 100% that we are able to surf through an IP in the country of our choice, all that is left is to log in to the Spotify application through this proxy. Tor in combination with Polipo offers us the possibility to surf through an HTTP(S) Proxy on Port 8118 or through a SOCKS Proxy on Port 9050 but of course you can use whichever proxy you prefer. However it doesn’t seem like the login screen of Spotify offers any ability to change the proxy settings (it would be a lot easier to change these settings as soon as we got past the login-screen of course).
But all is not lost. For the lazy ones this is the moment where you disconnect yourself from the internet. (I didn’t try it, but I guess it should work. If not, the lazy ones might as well jump over their dusty shadows for once.) Of course my rather “complicated” solution was to configure my firewall to block Spotify from accessing the internet, only later did I realize that unplugging my network cable for a few seconds could have done the same job. However, this is what you’ll find:
And the holy grail of configurability has been revealed. A click on “proxy settings” will show us what we wanted to see.
If you’ve successfully configured Tor to surf over an IP Adress that matches the country in your Spotify Profile, you should now be able to log into the application. Of course you can then deactivate the use of a proxy in Spotify again for 14 days so you can stream the music at full speed.
The main reason why I wanted to post this to my blog is that I didn’t find any tutorial on the internet that described to me what Part 1 of my solution contains. Going through the Tor Manual taught me this but hopefully I can assist someone else by not having to read through it in its entirety. And of course finding a good use for Tor beside its awesome possibilities of surfing the web anonymously gave this a very neat context.
To scratch the topic of Mobile Computing once again I want to take you through the processes of setting up an iPhone and a Nokia N97 Mini with a Bluetooth driven wireless Keyboard. The reason I’m doing this is of course due to recent events I experienced and – SPOILER ALERT – the iPhone fails miserably under almost all circumstances. Successful ones could unfortunately not be tested.
The Keyboard used can be seen on the following picture, accompanied by the successfully paired N97 Mini:
Why it’s a Bluetooth Keyboard designed by Apple themselves, just to make it a little less tough for the iPhone one might think. But I digress.
The step-by-step Instructions for the N97 Mini (or basically any Symbian S60 device) go as follows:
- Download the free Bluetooth Keyboard Application from Nokia.com. Choosing the right one shouldn’t be too hard, I didn’t find one for Symbian S60 5th Edition so i just took the first one which popped up an incompatibility alert but still installed and worked fine.
- After opening said Application, turn on your Keyboard and pair it with the Phone. In my case this included defining a Passkey like “123456” and then entering exactly that Passkey on the Keyboard. Pressing Return should finish the pairing process. I assume this works the same on all Bluetooth enabled Keyboards.
- That’s it. You’re set to write some text messages or even emails with your Bluetooth Keyboard.
On the iPhone on the other hand, the situation looks as follows. (At least that’s all I found out on a jailbroken iPhone 3G with the latest jailbreakable iPhone OS 3 on it).
When you turn on Bluetooth and search for devices, the (Apple !!) Keyboard does not show up. So if I’m not wrong that takes care of our first approach. The second approach then would be taking advantage of the freedom of a jailbroken iPhone. Do some searching on Google/Youtube and what I found was a Video explaining how to use an App (namely BTStack Keyboard) from the Cydia Store (which of course comes with jailbreaking the device) to use Bluetooth Keyboards with your iPhone. The only catch you ask? It costs 5 Dollars and since I neither own an iPhone, nor a Cydia Store Account (or whatever is needed to buy their Apps) my trail to success stopped there.
If there is another approach, be it for jailbroken or non-jailbroken iPhones please let me know. Nothing would please me more than knowing that Apple isn’t having such a tight stranglehold on its customers after all. Smartphones set aside, I’m one of them as you can see from the picture.
Of course it’s not surprising that the Nokia Device works with an Apple Keyboard. The Bluetooth Standard is the same for everybody, also for Apple luckily. And of course it might not make perfect sense to everybody that I’m connecting a Keyboard to a Mobile Phone that has a QWERTZ Keyboard built-in. To be honest I’d know a lot more to do with such a keyboard on an iPhone than on this N97 Mini. Seems like it’s not supposed to happen.
I’ve been one of those who were eagerly awaiting the first impressions of Google’s Chrome OS since it was announced some time earlier this year. One positive remark right there can be made because they seem to have been quite eager to get it out there as well. Open Source, so much the better.
I knew that it was going to be a Browser-based OS like none has ever been before but judging by this first release I’m still a bit disappointed.
So to the right you see what the login-screen looks like. And “woohoo” you have to log in with your own Google Account. Internet Connection required of course. Pretty nice idea. But while that is handy because it enables you to log in to the same account on different computers you will see later why I dont think it’s necessary for now.
Next up we have the Chrome Browser which shows up full-screen as soon as you’ve successfully logged in. The tabs I opened in the second screenshot aren’t open at first Login. There’s just the Google Calendar and an empty tab as far as I recall. Of course with every Google Service you use the Login-Information needed doesn’t have to be entered separately every time. You can for example use Google Reader for RSS Reading, Google Mail for writing Emails and so on. So a colleague of mine dared me to write a Document on this thing and email it to her. Seems quite impossible on a Browser-Based OS with no desktop or additional applications. But in fact it’s not that hard. Everybody who used Google Documents before should know that.