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December 14, 2014

Cleaning your Linux computer of cruft and duplicate data

When you use a computer and keep copying data forward everytime you upgrade or work with multiple systems it is easy to end up with multiple copies of the same file. I am very OCD about organizing my data and still I ended up with multiple copies of the same file in various locations. This could have happened because I was recovering data from a drive and needed a temp location to save the copy or forgot that I had saved the same file under another directory (because I changed my mind about how to classify the file). So this weekend I decided to clean up my system.

This was precipitated because after my last system reorg I didn’t have a working backup strategy and needed to get my backups working again. Basically I had moved 3 drives to another server and installed a new drive on my primary system to serve as the Backup drive. Unfortunately this required me to format all these drives because they were originally part of a RAID array and I was breaking it. Once I got the drives setup I didn’t get the chance to copy the backup data to the new drive and re-enable the cron job that took the daily backup snapshots. (Mostly because I was busy with other stuff). Today when I started copying data to the new Backup drive I remembered reading about software that allowed you to search for duplicate data so thought I should try it out before copying data around. It is a good thing I did because I found a lot of duplicates and ended up freeing more than 2 GB of space. (Most of it was due to duplicate copies of ISO images and photos).

I used the following software to clean my system:

Both of them delete files but are designed for different use cases. So let’s look at them in a bit more detail.

FSlint

FSlint is designed to remove lint from your system and that lint can be duplicate files, broken links, empty directories and other cruft that accumulates when a system is in constant use. Installing it is quite easy, on Debian you just need to run the following command as root

apt-get install fslint

Once the software is installed, you can either use the GUI interface or run it from the command line. I used the GUI version because it was easier to visualize the data when seen in a graphical form (Yes I did say that. I am not anti-GUI, I just like CLI more for most tasks). Using the software was as easy as selecting the path to search and then clicking on Find. After the scan completes you get a list of all duplicates along with the path and you can choose to ignore, delete all copies or delete all except one. You need to be a bit careful when you delete because some files might need to be in more than one location. One example for this situation is DLL files installed under Wine, I found multiple copies of the same DLL under different directories and I would have really messed up my install if I had blindly deleted all duplicates.

Flossmanuals.net has a nice FSlint manual that explains all the other options you can use. Check it out if you want to use some of the advanced features. Just ensure that you have a good backup before you start deleting files and don’t blame me when you mess up your system without a working backup.

BleachBit

BleachBit is designed for the privacy conscious user and allows you to get rid of Cache, cookies, Internet history, temporary files, logs etc in a quick and easy way. You also have the option to ensure that the data deleted is really gone by overwriting the file with random data. Obviously this takes time but if you need to ensure data deletion then it is very useful. Bleachbit works on both Windows and Linux and is quite easy to install and use (at least on Linux, I didn’t try it on Windows). The command to install it on Debian is:

apt-get install bleachbit

The usage also is very simple, you just run the software and tick the boxes relevant to the clutter that you want gone and BleachBit will delete it. It does give you a preview of the files it found so that you can decide if you actually want to delete the stuff it identifies before you delete it.

Well this is all for now. Will write more later.

Thanks to How to Sort and Remove Duplicate Photos in Linux for pointing me towards FSlint and Ten Linux freeware apps to feed your penguin for pointing me towards BleachBit.

– Suramya

December 12, 2014

My new toy: the Moto 360 smart watch

So I have a new toy that I am super excited about and It is a birthday gift from me to myself. :) I have been wanting to get a smartwatch since last year when the Samsung gear came out but when I saw the gear I didn’t like the way it looked so ended up not buying it. Now that I have bought the Moto 360, I am glad I didn’t buy the gear because it beats the Gear hands down, no questions asked. I have been using it for 3 days now and I love it.


The Moto 360 with the default Face

The initial setup of the watch was easy, I just had to download an app on my phone and follow the prompts, took me about 2 mins (excluding the time to download the app) to complete the pairing and setup. Once the app was installed the watch downloaded the latest firmware and upgraded automatically after I charged the battery which was surprisingly very fast. Once the upgrade completed it was connected to my S5 and has been working like a charm.

The default apps on the 360 are the Fitness apps, ability to receive any notifications on the watch and control the music app and the Google camera app from the watch. It has built in voice recognition which works fantastically great and is integrated with Google Now. Tonight we tried it out in a restaurant where we had gone out for a team outing and it had no trouble with the voice recognition even with the background noise. In addition to the default apps so far I have also installed a flashlight app, a dictation app and another camera app that lets me use the watch as a viewfinder for the camera on my phone. I keep finding cool new apps for the watch every day so will probably be installing a lot more stuff on it in the near future.

As I said earlier Voice recognition works for most of the things I would want to do on the watch, like use to to initiate a call or dictate a reply to an SMS, start an app etc. For the rest the touch screen works fine. Took me a bit of time to figure out how to run the new apps I installed because that isn’t really intuitive initially (or maybe I was just sleep deprived) but once I figured that out I was good to go. I think it would have made sense for them to put this in the help section.

The watch is not bulky at all and is lighter than my other watch. Lots of folks have complained about its size online but I didn’t find that to be an issue. However the battery life could have been better. In my daily use I am down to about 35% charge by the time I am ready to sleep after starting with a full charge in the morning. The charger looks nice and the charging is fast, however since the watch has a custom charger it means that I have to make sure that I carry it with me when I am traveling because none of my other chargers work with it. Sure, I can buy another charger for the office but it’s a pain.

The other issue that I noticed with it is that the heart rate sensor is crap. Every single time I have tried to check my heart rate (using both fit and the Moto software) it has failed with a sensor time out message, although Vinit did manage to get it to work once so I know the sensor works.

For the most part I have been using the watch to read my SMS/Whatsapp/Email messages without having to pull out my phone and monitoring my step count. Apparently I walk around a lot more than I thought which is good. :) Also the ability to decline calls with a message from the watch is very handy when your phone is at your desk and you are at another desk working on something or in a meeting.

I am planning on installing the Analog keyboard for Android that I blogged about earlier but that will be over the weekend when I have some breathing room to experiment. I will share my findings and experiences going forward so if you are interested do keep an eye on the blog for new posts.

Well, this is all for now. It’s time for me to crash for the night. Will post more later.

– Suramya

November 26, 2014

Amazing Shipping options on Ebay

Filed under: Humor,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 11:02 PM

So I was trying to buy a new Hard Disk from ebay and get it shipped to one of my co-workers place before he fly’s to India. (Yes, another one. What can I say; you can never have too much storage). Once I put it in my shopping cart I got the option to select the Shipping and there I got to see the amazing gem below:

Shipping Options on ebay
Shipping options on eBay by Newegg

So I can choose to get my shipment on the 3rd of Dec for free, or I can pay $4.99 or $17.85 and get it quicker on the 3rd of Dec… Now how do I choose which is the best option for me, I think I will go for 3rd Dec for free… Another interesting thing is that the 1 day shipping for which I would shell out $25.16 will get me my package on the 1st Dec (4 days from the day I ordered). Unbelievable.

– Suramya

November 24, 2014

Answering scientific questions in plain language with ‘Ask Smithsonian’ video’s

Filed under: Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 1:37 AM

Have you ever wondered if lightning can strike twice or if Stress can Turn Your Hair Gray? A lot of us have questions that usually require a whole bunch of scientific language to answer and while that works for adults it is usually not the most useful thing when trying to explain things to a kid. Keeping that thought in mind the Smithsonian has created short videos (about a min in length) that answer such questions in plain English. Check them out at the Ask Smithsonian video archive.

The best part is that you can also submit your questions to the site and if selected a video with the answer would be uploaded to the site. Some of the questions that are currently answered on the site are:

Ask Smithsonian: Does Chicken Soup Really Help With a Cold?
Ask Smithsonian: How Do Noise-Canceling Headphones Work?
Ask Smithsonian: Why Don’t People Smile in Old Photographs?

Thanks to lifehacker.com for this great link.

– Suramya

November 23, 2014

Presenting hack.summit a virtual dev conference Dec 1st – 4th

Filed under: Interesting Sites,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 11:55 PM

Developer conferences are a great way to meet developers and learn about the latest and greatest technologies and programming skills etc. However most of them happen in places where they are not accessible to a majority of the people in the world, primarily because of cost and time taken to travel there which is quite unfortunate. I know there have been multiple conferences that I wanted to attend but couldn’t because they were in the US or Europe while I was in India.

To fix that problem the nice folks at hack.hands() have created a free, live, online event from Dec 1 – Dec 4th where top speakers from their fields will be available to answer questions and have their brains picked. You can register for the event for free by visiting their website.

The hack.summit() conference is a live, global event put on by the fine folks behind real-time programming assistance service hack.hands(). From December 1 to December 4, a wide range of speakers will present and answer democratically popularized questions over Crowdcast via Google+ Hangouts. Speakers in attendance include wiki inventor and Design Patterns pioneer [Ward Cunningham], Codeacademy founder [Ryan Bubinski], Google Glass creator [Tom Chi], Python Software Foundation’s [Alex Gaynor], and even the inimitable [Jon Skeet].

The goals for this conference are simple and admirable: to educate developers of all stripes about best practices, to encourage mentorship in the programming community, and to spread the joy of coding by supporting coding non-profits.

Thanks to hackaday.com for the story.

– Suramya

November 21, 2014

Uber pricing: Be careful when requesting a car

Filed under: My Life,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 6:23 PM

In the past few weeks Uber has been in the news a couple of times, most recently after one of their VP’s suggested hiring a million dollar team to dig up dirt on hostile journalists and their families but that is a whole different story and not something this post is about. Today I am going to talk about how the price for Uber cabs fluctuates and why you should check the cost before clicking on the Book button. BTW, this is based on an off the fly method of data collection and for Uber in India (Bangalore to be specific). Other places might have a different experience.

First, lets start with a bit of background. I had gone out with my team for an office outing and while we were figuring out the transportation back to the office I looked at the Uber costing to see if it made sense to just get uber instead of waiting for other options. (We didn’t take uber that day but that is a different story). The next day at work I was talking to a team member and I mentioned that the cost for uber would have been Rs 200 min, and about Rs 18/km after that which is quite of for that time at night. She was skeptical so I opened the app to show her the prices and imagine my surprise that the numbers were quite different: Min Rs 250 with Rs 30/km. This started me thinking, and I was curious so I kept a log of the costing for both UberX and Uber Black for the next few days at various times in the day.Basically whenever I remembered to look, which is why this is not a scientific study.

The numbers are as follows:

Date/Time Service Minimum Cost Cost per KM
12th Nov 11:20pm Uberx 125 Min 15/km
12th Nov 11:20pm UberBlack 200 Min 18/km
13th Nov 12:32pm Uberx 250 Min 30/km
13th Nov 12:32pm UberBlack 200 Min 18/km
13th Nov 7:20pm Uberx 250 Min 30/km
13th Nov 7:20pm UberBlack 400 Min 36/km
14th Nov 5:00pm Uberx 162.5 Min 19.5/km
14th Nov 5:00pm UberBlack 240 Min 21.6/km
15th Nov 1:31am Uberx 125 Min 15/km
15th Nov 1:31am UberBlack 200 Min 18/km
19th Nov 7:20pm Uberx 250 Min 30/km
19th Nov 7:20pm UberBlack 200 Min 18/km

so as per the numbers above the best time to take uber would be around 11:30pm. Worst time is early evening around 7:30pm.

So if you take an uber cab late night one day and pay X then take it again the next day morning to go back to the same place you will actually end up paying quite a lot more than what you were expecting based on the previous fare. Which is why you should check the pricing before you click the book, else you might be in for a rude surprise.

Well this is all for now. Will post more later.

– Suramya

November 18, 2014

World’s largest chocolate producer: We are running out of Chocolate!!!

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 1:23 AM

I hear <Silence> just before all hell breaks loose as millions of women freak out at the same time after reading this headline :) and no, this is not a joke, Mars, Inc. and Barry Callebaut who are the worlds largest producers of chocolate have the numbers to prove that we (and by we I mean you all, since I don’t really like chocolate that much) are eating more coco than is being produced. Last year farmers produced 70,000 metric tons less than the amount consumed and the trend is increasing. By 2020 this number is expected to rise to 1 million metric ton. Ouch!.

The problem is, for one, a supply issue. Dry weather in West Africa (specifically in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, where more than 70 percent of the world’s cocoa is produced) has greatly decreased production in the region. A nasty fungal disease known as frosty pod hasn’t helped either. The International Cocoa Organization estimates it has wiped out between 30 percent and 40 percent of global cocoa production. Because of all this, cocoa farming has proven a particularly tough business, and many farmers have shifted to more profitable crops, like corn, as a result.

Then there’s the world’s insatiable appetite for chocolate. China’s growing love for the stuff is of particular concern. The Chinese are buying more and more chocolate each year. Still, they only consume per capita about 5 percent of what the average Western European eats. There’s also the rising popularity of dark chocolate, which contains a good deal more cocoa by volume than traditional chocolate bars (the average chocolate bar contains about 10 percent, while dark chocolate often contains upwards of 70 percent).

Looking at this article I am tempted to start stocking up on chocolate and in a few years time I can sell them for 10 times the price… All I will have to do is figure out how to keep my sister and other friends from eating up my stash before I sell them. ;) I believe that will be an impossible task now that I think about it in more detail.

If there was a similar article about caffeine then I would be one of the people freaking out, but since it is ‘just’ chocolate I am fine and not worried. So I will go back and finish my book then go to sleep.

You can read more details about the issue at the Washington Post and Bloomberg.org site.

Story Via: Slashdot.org

– Suramya

November 17, 2014

Microsoft launches free Visual Studio Community 2013

Microsoft is on a roll recently and is becoming more and more active in the open source community by releasing many of it’s core tools and programs as open source, making them free and cross platform. Earlier this week news came out that MS had released a significant portion of their .NET framework under a permissive opensource license on Github. Before everyone had even finished digesting this news MS posted news that it is releasing Visual Studio Community 2013 as a free download for individual and small business use (teams of up to five people).

This is a brilliant move on their part to keep their market share. One of the major issues people had when developing software for Windows using Visual studio was the cost associated with the licenses. When I was in school and wanted to get a licensed copy of Visual Studio for my use I was told to go buy a pirated copy because the original cost was way too high (Rs 60,000 if you want to know). Keep in might that this is before the Dot com and Tech boom so that amounted to a couple of months of salary for most folks. As you can imagine most people went for the pirated version instead which costed Rs 100 or so. Now fast forward a few years to when open-source started taking off, now the development environment could be downloaded off the internet legally for free. A lot of folks including me switched to open source development tools. The only people still using MS Studio were either using their work/university licenses or were on pirated copies.

Now with .NET opensourced and available for use on Linux, Mac and windows, making a free version of Visual Studio available makes it easier for people to start working on and building software in the MS ecosystem.

I know of a few people who will find this news exciting. For the rest of us, this doesn’t impact us directly but definitely shows which way the wind is blowing in the software world and highlights the fact that FOSS is here to stay. :)

Official Announcement: Microsoft Blog
Via Betanews.com

– Suramya

PS: I know that Visual Studio express has been around for a while but it was a severely limited version as opposed to the Community version just released.

November 16, 2014

Pay for clothes using your social network clout…

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 10:38 PM

Finally the day a lot of people have been waiting for has arrived. Now you can pay for actual physical clothes using your social network clout. What does that mean? Basically if you are buying stuff at OnePiece’s pop-up store in New York City anytime before the 17th of Nov you will get $1 off for every 500 followers you have across social networks. Which would give me just about $0.50 discount if I ever shopped there :)

As nice as Klout’s perks can be, they’re infrequent and sometimes have arcane rules. Wouldn’t it be better if you could simply translate your social networking status into cash? OnePiece’s pop-up store in New York City is letting you do just that. Swing by 577 Broadway no later than November 17th and the clothing shop will give you a $1 discount for every 500 followers you have across common social networks, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. While you’re capped at $500 (Hollywood A-listers need not apply), that’s more than enough to score some fresh threads for free. Yes, it’s a publicity grab — but it’s also a genuinely good deal if you’ve spent years cultivating an online following.

I get a ton of ‘friend’ requests on a fairly regular basis but usually I reject most of them outright. For me the only folks in my friend list are folks that I consider friends (apart from a few authors that I want to keep in touch with) and have an interest in keeping up with. This does not include folks I don’t know, just because you are a friend of a friend doesn’t mean we should become friends on FB if we have never met. Or if I took your interview for a job doesn’t mean that it is ok to add me as a friend on Facebook (Yes, this actually happened). For some reason, this small concept seems to be very hard for people to understand. People use the no of friends/followers as a sort of measuring stick for their popularity and if you don’t have many followers then in their mind you are not important enough.

I rarely sign on to my Facebook account and I have posted some 3-4 tweets from my twitter account since I started it a few years ago (those were to complain to Airtel). I am sure if I start becoming active on the network I can easily increase the no of friends I have many fold. But what’s the point?

Anyways, enough ranting about Social media for today. I am going to go finish my book and then crash for the night. Will post more later.

– Suramya

Source: Engadget.com

November 15, 2014

Watched Interstellar today

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 1:52 AM

Just got back home from watching Interstellar. If you haven’t seen the movie go watch it. It is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. A classic like 2001: A Space Odyssey. The science behind most of the movie is amazing. A small part of the logic didn’t make sense and felt contrived but overall the movie plot worked out beautifully.

– Suramya

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