How to install windows phone 8.1 preview for developers

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Since the day Build came to an end, everyone has been talking about the Windows Phone 8.1 update and Cortona. During the developer conference, Microsoft had announced that they would release a preview of the update very soon for the developers. And as promised, they have rolled it out today. All you need is a device running Windows phone 8 and you can update the device, irrespective of whether you are a developer or not. And first impressions of the update have been good so far, people are overwhelmed with a lot of new additions. Though the things that are still missing form this update are live lock screen themes, custom SMS application and other small bits and pieces, but overall it feels like a new phone.



A few points before you update:
  • The update works on all Windows 8 running devices and not legacy devices like Lumia 800 and 900.
  • You cannot role back to Windows 8 after installing this.
  • The update does not factory reset anything on the phone, and also it is a pretty stable one.
  • You can still update to final build of Windows 8.1 when it is rolled out for the public
  • It takes a minimum of 1 hour to complete the process.

And here's how you install the preview:
  • Sign up for Microsoft App Studio with your live ID which you use on your phone. It is free of cost and you don't need to write any code. Just sign up for it.
  • Install the Preview for Developers application on the mobile device and sign in with the same email which you used before.
  • Check the option of "Enable Preview for Developers" in the application.
  • Navigate to Settings -> Phone updates to check for updates and you'll find two updates, one which prepares your device for the update (an update to install an update sounds crazy though, but you can't do much about it anyways), and the other one being Windows Phone 8.1 update.


And for all the Cortona fans outside the US, setting your region to US will not do the trick. You also need to have the English US pack installed to have it working ;)

Have fun exploring! And don't forget to let us know your experience in comments.

E-bill popup ads on MTNL and how to block them

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Been seeing some weird pop ups recently on your browser on random websites and are a MTNL user? Guess what, you are not the only one! The e-bill advertisements are being pushed by adphonso, which is an advertising network that claims to deliver rich media ads. Their website claims to be directly connected to the ISP (MTNL, in our case) and hence you get to see the advertisements.



This is highly unacceptable by MTNL's part and if you are not aware of the trouble being created, here are the hazards this is causing:

  • Privacy Invasion: Since the ad network is injecting its code onto the sites via your ISP, it is keeping a track of every website you visit/everything you browse via your browser unless it is on HTTPS (which also cannot be true considering recent happenings like heartbleed). Hence every move of yours is being monitored in order to deliver better advertisements to you and all this is being done in the background which is an invasion of your privacy.

    Also, it is worth noting that this works in incognito mode or any private mode of the browser as well since all your traffic goes through the ISP, which is serving the internet data to you. So the ad network receives all packet data first before it is served to you. Hence irrespective of the fact that private browsing mode's enabled or not, your privacy is screwed.
  • Modified response code of sites: MTNL, without the users permission, is modifying the response code of websites and delivering adphonso's ads first into the site we visit. (For people unaware of this, whenever you visit a website on the internet, the browser requests to the server for the HTML. The server then replies back with HTML that is taken in by your browser and rendered as a webpage which you finally see. So when you are seeing the pop up, the browser does not receive the response sent by the website. Instead it receives an iframe injected by adphonso which has been modified by the ad network. In short, adphonso is modifying the webpage before it is reaching you). An ISP definitely doesn't have the authority to do so and they cannot inject codes into websites for users who are paying monthly rentals for the internet consumption. This is simply an adware/malware being injected to the user without his permission and such activities are annoying.
  • Slower internet speed: When it comes to MTNL, it is already assumed that speed has been compromised for the sake of unlimited data plans at cheaper prices. But a third party application in between the ISP and you makes browsing even more slower since your browsing information is being relayed to adphonso first, and then your internet services are being requested.
  • Telemarketing calls: The ISP is providing your telephone number to adphonso, so one can certainly expect telemarketing calls in the near future with more spam if you submit the form of your mobile number and email id. If not provided directly, the ad network can get your details by tracking your online sessions as well.
These reasons are sufficient enough for a MTNL consumer to be annoyed but the user is generally not knowing about all this stuff happening at the background. It is highly inappropriate to have a third party ad network to log your every move on the internet and use all this information for the sake of serving ads to you.

The solution reads the Machine Details, Browser and OS information and Customer Behaviour along with location and delivers relevant impression.
 says adphonso's website. So, the ebill ads are just a testing phase it can be said and the worse is yet to come. Advertisements after monitoring your browsing data will be displayed to you and your browser sessions would be hijacked to judge customer behaviour!

Heading on how to block the MTNL pop ups, here's what will work:


  • Modify your hosts file: Add adphonso.com and 203.94.243.40 to your hosts file. Doing so blocks these sites from loading, and hence you do not see ads. But the problem is that the webpage will keep waiting for a response from the site/IP. So sometimes, you will need to refresh the webpage to skip the ad.

    To add these to the hosts file, head over to the folder "C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc" and open the hosts file here using a notepad with elevated/admin privileges. Here, at the end of the file, add the two lines
    127.0.0.1 adphonso.com
    and press save. Here's what it looks like:

    EDIT: It seems you cannot block IP addresses using the hosts file. You should do so in your windows firewall instead. For doing so, open Windows firewall with advanced security (type in your start menu), then create a new inbound rule and enter the IP address 203.94.243.40 in the corresponding field to block the IP.


  • Add URL Filtering in your router settings: The problem in the above method is that if you use tablets/mobile devices then the pop ups aren't blocked completely. So instead you can block the ads on the router side to avid the hassle of setting up the hosts file on multiple PC's and also avoid ads on your non windows devices. Go to the router configuration (192.168.1.1, default username and password is admin) and under the Access Management section, select Filters. Enable URL filtering and add the values adphonso.com and 203.94.243.40 in the URL indexes as shown. (This seting might be located under a different tab in your panel, depending on router to router but it is present in all routers).


  • Use adblock plus: Install the adblock plus add-on to your browser. The ad is not automatically blocked by the service, which is a surprise for me somewhat. You can right click on the frame ad that pops up and then make a rule for ABP to block it every time, on every domain. To be doubly sure, you can make filters in ABP too. To do so, click on the extension icon, select options and go to Add your filters. Here, add the following filters:
    adserver.adtech.de
    203.94.243.40
    http://adphonso.com/
    ##iframe[id="bframe"]
    ##div[id="bdiv"]

    Here's what it looks like:


  • Use VPN: And I had forgotten the possibility of using a virtual private network! Thanks to a frequent reader, +Pratik Gujral, for pointing it out. You can use a VPN for connecting to the internet and since it ensures a SSL connection, you won't be delivered ads!Also note that using OpenDNS/GoogleDNS won't work since your response is being modified.
Also note that using OpenDNS/GoogleDNS won't work since your response is being modified.

And I would like to conclude the post by saying that the above steps merely avoid the issue. They do not provide a solution to the problem at large. Everyone of us should make a complaint to the ISP since this is a big issue and needs to be addressed now only. The MTNL people are most probably not aware of the privacy concerns and it is us who have to make sure that they get to know the blunder they are doing and stop them before its too late. I urge all of you to email all officers of MTNL, whose contact details can be found here. Go ahead and show your displeasure as much as you can so that MTNL doesn't stoop to such cheap methods for earning some extra revenue.


How to completely close modern apps in Windows 8.1

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Remember the good old days when clicking an X in the top right corner of your screen was the only thing you were required to do in order to close an application? With the recent Windows and the "modern" applications, those good days are long gone. If you are a Windows 8 user, then this post holds no sense for you since you can simply swipe down a metro style application from the top of the screen to the bottom and it would get closed.



Thanks to a friend, +Aman Bedi for telling me about this.

But, with Windows 8.1, things changed. Microsoft claims to make things simpler with the upgrades of Windows, but what I feel is that it doesn't really understand the users well enough. If you haven't installed the Windows 8.1 Update 1, then you do not have the title bar in your windows 8.1 modern applications, but if you do have it, then also clicking on the close button doesn't really close the application. It merely suspends it and the application is still active in the background. And even if you swipe down the application from the top to the bottom edge, on Windows 8.1, with or without the spring update, the application again is suspended and not really closed.

You can cross verify the facts by opening your task manager and seeing the recently closed modern apps still present in the Apps section. And then we crib about Windows 8.1 not being memory efficient and what not. So here's two ways you can close a modern app completely:
  1. Whenever in doubt, use keyboard short cuts. Just kidding. But in this case the Alt+F4 keyboard short cut really does close the application irrespective of the face that it is a modern application or a desktop application.
  2. If you are a touch device user, or if you don't want to use the keyboard short cut, then you need to swipe down to the modern application to the bottom of the screen, and hold it there at the bottom end for a few seconds (do not release the application) until the thumbnail of the application does a flip. After that you can release the thumbnail and it would get closed permanently.
Memory utilization is an important affair these days and so it is important for you to close applications completely in order to save some memory space which might be crucial for another process. And moreover who wants applications consuming your resources unnecessarily in the background? So there you have it on how to make your Windows 8.1 consume lesser memory (somewhat).

Here's a video showing the above points in some detail:



Overall I still cannot understand why make the users wait the extra 2 seconds to close an application. What do you think about decisions made by Microsoft lately?

Merge multiple vcard files into single VCF

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Electronic business cards or contacts are generally stored in the form of vCard files and one tends to use these when transferring or backing up contacts. Having multiple .vcf files can be a pain though. When you need to manually import these to a place like gmail, outlook or a new device infact, it becomes a real pain. Rather than keeping a bunch of vCard files, why not just merge all of these into a single file?



Here is an easy approach to the process:
  1. First place all your individual ".vcf" files in a single directory/folder. Let us say you did so in C:/tech4every1/ folder.
    Note: The location doesn't matter as far as you know its path and can navigate to it using command prompt.
  2. Open command prompt by typing in cmd in the run dialog box (Windows Key + R). In the command prompt window, navigate to your directory using the "cd" or "change directory" command. (Use "cd .." to go up one level).
  3. Once you reach the desired directory, type in "copy /B *.vcf merged_list.vcf" and hit enter.
    (copy command copies them into a new file named merged_list.vcf since we wrote the source as *.vcf which means all vcf files are the source and the merged_list.vcf file is the destination)



After the process gets completed, you will get a "1 file(s) copied" message telling you that the process has been completed.


Now you can check the folder (C:/tech4every1 in our case) to see a merged_list.vcf file present there. This file has all merged vCard files and you can verify it by opening the file.

So now you can use this file as a backup or import this into gmail or send it to your friends. Enjoy!

How to download Update 1 for Windows 8.1

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There’s this thing about Windows, it just won’t stop updating. Well, if it won’t, why should we? The next update from Microsoft for the Windows platform is going to be the Update 1 for Windows 8.1 which has its official release in the coming month. But why wait when you can download it right away.

Okay, this might sound a little weird but it was a mistake by Microsoft that it placed this Update on the Update servers for windows. (Not exactly a mistake, they do this every time for testing purposes, but this time they made this easily accessible via just a registry hack). Earlier the registry hack was leaked using which you could make your windows automatically download the update. But as expected,  it is now plugged out by Microsoft, but you can manually download the updates since many people downloaded the update installer and put it out for every one.



Here are a couple of simple steps you need to follow in order to get yourself the Update for free (Oh and you don't need to backup your data to install it, its just a minor update):

  • Once you have downloaded Update 1, you will have 6 separate patches,
  1. KB2919442
  2. KB2939087
  3. KB2919355
  4. KB2932046
  5. KB2938439
  6. KB2937592

Note:
  1. Just ensure that you install these patches in this specific order.
  2. Your computer may reboot several times during the process.
  3. Your system needs to be running windows 8.1 to get this update, you cannot update from other versions of Windows.

You’ll find that the user interface has changed with certain things clearly evident like the capability of metro apps to get minimized to the taskbar. We'll soon post about all the changes after playing with it for a day or so. First impression of the update seems good though. It has been running all fine, no issues. Overall, it is a few little tweaks over Windows 8.1 but well worth the update if you wish to want a bit of the Windows 7 feel back with an increased speed.

That’s it, here you have it, Windows 8.1 Update 1, I am not sure what was the hurry and what exactly will you do with it, but guess that’s up to you ;)

How to bookmark all open browser tabs

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I recently came across this situation where I wanted to bookmark all tabs open in my browser so that when I launch the browser next time, I could have this session restored. But doesn't chrome already have a setting to continue where you left off last time, is the confusion going on in your head? It does, but not for the tabs open in incognito mode, which I was using at that moment. Here's a post about how you can conveniently bookmark all open tabs at the same time in various browsers.

Chrome/Firefox:

Right click on any open tab, and select "Bookmark all tabs" from the menu or if you are a fan of keyboard short-cuts, use Ctrl+Shift+D.


Internet Explorer:

On the top right of your browser, click on the star icon (view favourites) and in the drop down menu that comes, you'll see a "Add current tabs to favourites bar" option. Click on it. Or alternatively you can use the short-cut Alt+Z.

Have fun browsing!

Ingress: My Journey So Far

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Game addiction has hit many people and I am no exception to this. I was an addict to many computer games before, and a few mobile games too. I somehow was powerful enough to get away from becoming the compulsive game play and keep myself away. But then came the announcement of Ingress and the stuff that made me freak out was: the teaser video, the words location based augmented reality and the fact that Google had made something like this. So with my hopes sky rocketing, I was eager to try it out and I did get addicted! Here's a post going down the memory lane of my past 90 days.

To those people who don't know what Ingress is, you can check this post.
And those who only wish to read about Delhi Recursion can read about it by clicking here. (Coming very soon!)

Art Credits: Jared Ziegler
(https://plus.google.com/111572230344027376200/posts/Rt9HrCrsGod)


I was lucky enough to get an invite in the private beta stage due to my involvement with Google Developer Group Delhi and a competition being thrown away by Ingress for all GDG's in which our GDG won, thanks to my juniors at college. I then logged in my account on a friend's tablet since I didn't own an android device of my own. This was in November 2012 when almost no one played the game and it was in a very restricted testing mode and we completed the training, roamed around a bit, got disappointed with the game and left.Though I still wanted to go around and play but I didn't have a device of my own to do so. I had a resistance account back then. Then came in December 2013 and I finally had a device to play Ingress on! I somehow got Ingress running on a Blackberry 10 device and started playing but there was a small problem, it didn't allow me to use my existing account to log in.

There were two reasons I started playing and didn't leave:

  1. I wanted to meet cool people around me (This wish got fulfilled and may god bless my Blackberry for asking me to make a new account and not accepting my previous account. I had chosen resistance initially but since BB didn't allow me to use my existing account, I deleted the previous one and made a new one with Enlightened on it and this was a pretty good choice).

    Sadly I don't have a pic of all us ENL players to gloat.
  2. I wanted to lose some weight and gym was not a thing for me. (This too got partially fulfilled as can be seen in the shot below and also my uncle who visited today commented on me being a bit slimmer)
Yes I did walk 216 km in 87 days!

So you already know now that I was an enlightened agent. Let the story begin then!

Picture Credits: Iexm dimension
(https://plus.google.com/105165501820086706598/posts)

In my initial days, and in fact till the last day, there wasn't anyone on either of the two factions who played nearby me, I was the only player within 5 km radius of my home I guess. So initially I was pretty bored and till I reached level 4, I had no interaction with anyone except for a friend who was in resistance, Gautam, who on COMM told me I had chosen the wrong faction. Then after that a person from NCR enlightened finally talked to me asking how I knew him and similar questions interviewing me sort of which I found odd. Then he added me to a hangout in which I came to know of every other enlightened agent in NCR and why they were skeptical of adding me to the hangout before. Listening to their reasons I laughed at them thinking these guys are too much into the game since they believed people from opposite faction were trying to get into their hangout to know their plans. But as I kept on playing, I did figure out that what I thought to be crap did turn out to be true and there were no lifer's who actually did this! All thanks to the stalkers in our group who figured this out :D

Then came in Dec 13th and I was browsing through comm, a random day and I saw a resistance player (referred to as smurfs from here after) asking his faction people to get to L5 to get a Founder's badge. I thought this to be a wearable badge and I decided to get to L5 by capturing each and everything nearby. I remember the date Dec 14th since I spent the whole day walking 15 km around my home taking out every portal that existed in the vicinity only to end up 10k short of action points (AP) to reach L5. No one was on COMM that day except for agent @SaranshKataria but all my efforts went in vain since I wasn't able to reach L5 but then I realized the time difference in between Delhi and United States, wherein the NIA were. So technically I had 12 hours more and I decided to take on the challenge, woke up early the next morning and took the metro to take out a few blue portals and get my AP.

Here's what I finally got after all this:


Contrary to what I had expected, it was just a badge in the medals section of the game but anyways, was something cool.

Then finally came in a day when I met a few agents at Humayun's Tomb since it had a cluster of portals (40ish) and everyone could get some more inventory and gain some AP too. I was L6 at that time and meeting everyone was a great experience. We then even went to Greater Noida too just to take out a farm of the resistance people at their home so that they cannot get inventory but it was more of an act to piss them off and they did get pissed. This was fun for me and I went a few more times to farm too.

This paragraph is dedicated to a smurf, whom I won't name here. Everyone in NCR reading this would get to know who I am talking about: the guy with a petrol tank at his home. You sir have gained my utmost respect for being the biggest traveler for a game. This guy traveled all over NCR just to take out portals in the city, make them blue and vent out his frustration by clearing the green. Maybe it was his way of being happy but I have never in my life seen a person so much of an addict that he doesn't celebrate even his birthday and comes to Humayun's Tomb just to avoid the other faction's people from farming. And on a side note you made me realize I am not a no-lifer at all. So thanks a ton for that!

Then I came across a third kind of ingress players: spoofers. These were people who just sat at their homes, too lazy to move their asses. So instead they used applications to fake their GPS location and just destroy portals by doing so. Till date I don't get the point of the fun in this, you people should probably be playing Candy Crush or Flappy Bird! Ingress ain't something for you people. But these third kind of people were the ones who made the COMM chat interesting and you could just grab a bowl of popcorn as they blamed one another. What was more fun was whenever a big field went down, the other faction would begin the shouting by accusing the agents to have spoofed and then all you had to do was sit back and enjoy having reading the abuses. Here are a couple of screenshots of some of the more interesting stuff (everything here is just for humor, no accusations of anyone being a spoofer are being made. Also I only have shots of opposite people accusing, since why would I need to take shots of me or people of my time accusing? That too was common though).





As far as big operations are concerned, I was a part of only one op, in which I had to get off my bed late at night to put in a resonator which was required to increase the linking range of the portal to make it linkable to hisar. We made a delhi, hisar, amritsar field which captured 6.8 million mind units:


I was slowly heading towards Level 8 since I knew the day I became a L8, I might stop playing the game overall since although it was a virtual token, but there was nothing to be achieved after becoming a L8 agent. I had my good days, when I went out and took out loads of portals and for a week, I was at #1 too. I stopped checking the regional scoring after I got a screenshot of this.


Then one day, Ingress announced a global event, an anomaly, a fight amongst the two factions. This was BIG and so all the agents started preparing for it and I was asked to get to L8 as soon as I could since we were fairly outnumbered by resistance agents. So I went on an ingressing spree without giving a damn about my inventory and became an AP hog who would just take out portals, deploy and recharge just to get to the 1.2  million AP mark and become a L8. I even left early on my first day at my internship just to go to a cluster nearby and get AP in order to be a L8 so that we could then farm together to get better inventory and be better prepared.

I had applied for a name change in between and one morning I woke up to a whatsapp ping from a friend asking me to check my Ingress to see if I had been banned for using a Blackberry and upon checking I found my name change request had been accepted and they were awaiting my new agent name. I didn't disclose this to my fellow agents to just see their reactions and it was fun reading their chats. A few even asked me to restart and get to L6 atleast before the anomaly. And finally I threw a few links on COMM and replied saying, good players never get banned, they respawn! So now @SaranshKataria was renamed to agent @mortalAngel which well, did fit into the situation perfectly.

Then fast forwarding things, we met at Humayun's a couple of more times and finally at City Court, Gurgaon (another cluster), I was able to level up to get to the final level: Level 8!


And this is when the planning for Recursion finally began! I got a nexus 5 specially for the event. Two weeks of planning, farming and what not. Starbucks CP was a meeting point to sit and figure out what all had to be done, roaming around to all portals to get to know what to do on the day of the anomaly and making teams, these two weeks had it all. I was the relatively inactive one due to my exams but I did keep dropping in occassionally. And on 21st, I ran off from my exam center to Starbcuks to decide everything that had to be done the next day and spent the whole of the remaining day with Enlightened players without eating a thing since I was too engrossed in stuff to be done the next day. And we all had an exchange of inventory that day and then a final trip to Humayun's was made to get some higher level stuff before we finally went into the battle with the smurfs. Then we visited all the portals and clusters which were to be held the next day to make a plan, and also get a feel of where to go and what path to follow as we move amongst the clusters. And what happened next day is a saga I am not going to extend here since it was an epic day which I'll dedicate another blog post to which I am already on to writing as you are reading this and trust me, 22nd Feb 2014 was one of the epic days of my life which I won't forget and I'll be posting the link to the tail of the war we had soon.

PS Though all this post is about Ingress, we, a bunch of 20 enlightened agents, were not some utter geeks who just played, met and talked about ingress only, there's a lot of memories and stuff I won't post publicly. You probably are well versed with the fact that when a bunch of people meet, they do end up having fun. The initial purpose of meeting doesn't have any effect on this and so happened in our case!

In short, I traveled to every corner of NCR possible just for the game (call me a no lifer if you wish to, but it was epic fun!) and met a lot of new people from various different streams and it was great knowing them and interacting with them. Words can only express my experiences to an extent and I guess this post is already long enough and I won't go on further and get into details. And if you really are interested, here's what you gotta do (and just in case you were wondering, no, Ingress did not ask me to advertise them for this, its by Google! :P)

Oh and if this post got you interested:

Picture Credits : Robin V
(https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/+RobinV19neXus71/albums/5981362809532074385/5981362803559319746)
Till then, this is agent @mortalAngel signing off! It's time to move. Over.
 

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