Posts tagged way
Now that the Mac App Store has been snuck installed onto your machine alongside Mac OS X 10.6.6, you might be wondering – is there some way to remove that monstrosity of an application from my Mac? While it’s not officially supported, it does seem like Apple has taken this scenario into account.
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.
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.
Without finding nor providing an excuse for my absence around here I think I have gathered enough things to talk about to fill a blog entry once again after some weeks of hard work on multiple school projects.
Yesterday I came to the realization that I don’t even have to buy any additional hardware in order to be able to use the Time Machine feature of my MacBook. Since I bought my Network Attached Storage I had a 500GB USB Storage laying around with nothing to do. At first I tried to modify Time Machine in order to be able to use it as a Network Storage although it isn’t a Time Capsule from Apple. After a variety of weird Error Messages (which seem to be one of the reasons why Apple only supports their own Time Capsules) I decided to connect it via USB.
It works like a charm. Time Machine backs up to this Storage hourly whenever it is connected while the MacBook is not on battery operation. It keeps those hourly backups for the last 24 hours and lowers them to daily updates for the last 7 days accordingly. Furthermore it keeps weekly updates of my files until there is no storage left. So to retrieve a lost file or file-state one opens a Finder (=Explorer) Window and directs it to where you once had your file the way you want it to have now. You launch Time Machine and it takes the Finder Window on a journey to the past. You specify the Date you want to go back to and the contents of the Window will change to what they have been like at that time.
So whenever my MacBook is connected to the Storage those backups will be made regularly and I can make those journeys to the past.
To switch to another topic, something I wanted to talk about in my Blog for a long time now is how satisfied I am with the way the new Multi-Touch Trackpads from Apple work.
Since the introduction of the Multi-Touch concept by Apple with the iPhone this has proven to be a hit among customers looking for ways to interact with their hardware more intuitively. And it has proven my conviction wrong that touch-pads cannot be a tool for a serious workflow on a mobile computer.
With this Trackpad I do not feel the need of grabbing a hold of my Mouse on every occasion.
I do not feel hindered by technology when working with it. It has size and it doesn’t recognize the accidental touch as a click like many others do and it does not have a dedicated Click-Button since it itself is the button which you can press down on which I think is way more intuitive than having your own click-button when most people just want to click on the touchpad itself anyways.
Whenever someone uses it for the first time they stumble across the problem that clicking and holding down on the Trackpad while dragging a scrollbar across the screen can be rather annoying. What they do not know of course is that its primary intent isn’t that at all. Since it can receive multiple inputs you can for example right-click when clicking with two fingers or scroll while sliding across with two fingers. In supported applications the possibilities are even higher in number. You can pinch and zoom in iPhoto. You can use a 4-finger swipe to get to your desktop or to Exposé (a grid of all open windows). You can use 3 fingers to go through an iPhoto Album.
Of course every application can implement their own functionalities for these, which means that sooner or later there will be even more advantages for users of this Trackpad since they are now being built into every mobile Mac Apple ships.
So this entry has been very Apple-based but this should just go to show that although I believe to be very critical of what companies like Apple do these days (because I absolutely don’t think their philosophy is better than anyone else’s) I can’t help being astonished by their way of thinking once in a while.
Have a nice weekend
When I first saw the device I was pretty surprised by its slick design and the overall appearance. It’s got everything you’d expect from a Smartphone with Windows Mobile on it but because I don’t know too many details about past iPAQ devices it was very easy for me to point out a few flaws about this device. Things hardcore-iPAQ users might not be surprised by.
- The Lock-System, in my eyes, is impossible to understand for someone who’s new to this. I locked the device with the Lock-Button (see picture 2) and it always took me forever to unlock it again because what the screen told me to do wasn’t understandable.
- The Button for taking photographs was almost non-pressable. It did not move a bit. But I guess this wasn’t the way it was supposed to be shipped.
- Finding out that the 2 “Buttons” next to the iPAQ Logo (see right) are in fact buttons might be hard to find out for some. Because they are Touch-Sensitive and do not move at all.
- Turning the old numeric-keyboard system upside down by having just a few more buttons and arrange the letters on them in a QUERT-Layout might be a risky idea by HP because although you have 2 letters on most buttons it does not make a difference if you push the left or right half of a button.
- Just like the Data Messenger this device has a micro-USB connector for both data-synchronization and recharging, and it has a 2.5mm rather than a 3.5mm audio-out which I see as much market for as the audio-connector of the first iPhone which required a converter for connecting regular headphones. micro-USB might be a standard of the future which might seem annoying for now but 2.5mm audio has been around for ages and it just never caught on. Why should it do so now?
Of course all I’ve been talking about now were negative factors of this mobile device. It sure has its upsides as well. If someone asked me whether to buy this device I would ask them what they were looking for. If you want to listen to music on your mobile phone this sure isn’t the way to go. If you want your mobile phone to have a wide variety of installable programs and if you want it to look good this will surely do the job. Since I don’t know any specific facts about the pricing I can’t tell you how good your wallet might feel in the process of buying it.
The reason why I decided to concentrate on the negative aspects I experienced within 15 minutes of basic usage of the phone is because I think this is what others can get the most profit out of. If someone buys a device without knowing what he will be confronted with immediately after, they might turn out non-satisfied buyers.
For a Review of its big brother, the Data Messenger, stay tuned till tomorrow. I think I might go a little bit into more detail with this one since it’s a more complex device.