Facebook pages new layout 2014

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Since March, we have been waiting for the new layout that was announced for Facebook pages and it has begun rolling out today and I was the first few to receive it I guess. Here's a snapshot of the look, and I rarely say this, but I am impressed by the new look! Also there's a new hover box that keeps moving down the page as you scroll asking you to like the page if you haven't done that. A bit of annoyance for the general user, but a win win for the page admin and Facebook.


The single column design


The page is now converted to a single column timeline and this makes it more streamlined with the recently launched new look. Also this makes the post viewing experience consistent and the user only has to scroll down to see posts and not see multiple posts at a time which was relatively annoying before this came out (or so do I feel now after using this layout). The left side of the page presents more details about you, your brand etc. such as website URL, phone number, photos, videos, pages you've liked, map, working hours etc.

A cleaner admin panel


As can be seen, the admin tools section got a redesign and it looks way better now. A box on the right shows you some key metrics straight off without the need of digging into insights. Also the bar at the top makes the interface cleaner and more in resonance with the overall interface and I felt more at home after using the design. Also you can access your notifications and messages in the ever present navigation options and see this in the current page itself, without the need to navigate to a new page. This is an interactive way to show analytics without distracting the admin.

Pages to watch


Although I didn't find this very useful for my case, but maybe people might need this to keep an eye on close competitors and keep a check of their performance relative to them. Facebook pages now have a Pages to Watch section which shows a comparison of overall likes, new posts, new likes this week, engagement and also see the posts which gained most engagement in the past week. So brands be ready for a one on one knock!

Compose box


The compose section has a hint of redesign too! It's more user friendly now, and just a tinge of good looking compared to before. Also more focus is laid on Offers and events in the section too, though I simply ignore that. But overall a good uplift and a welcome change for me. Also the page now shows the number of scheduled posts when you open the page, and also the time of the most recent scheduled post.

The only negative with this redesign is that the custom tabs that the Facebook admins have been creating overtime appear in a drop down menu in the more section, which is not what everyone wants. So you need to get to convert these into tab applications to make them visible towards the top of the page.

And if you are keen on seeing how the page would look to the general user, you can see the Facebook for Business page to have a brief look (You need to be on the waitlist to get the new admin panel on your page, though rumours are the new layout will roll out for everyone starting 24th April)

Did you also get the new layout? What are your views on it?

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!

 

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