Category Archives: Random

Smart DNS to sidestep geolocation checks

One of the HDMI ports of my TV is powered by Raspberry Pi, I use this to stream content that isn’t available in my current geography. The most obvious way to bypass geo-restrictions is to use a VPN, these are great in theory but a high performance VPN provider is hard to find and quite expensive as well.

Recently I discovered that Smart DNS is an alternative to VPNs, this is a very clever implementation, which intercepts only a small portion of the traffic that corresponds to the geolocation checks.

I tried out CactusVPN, they’re one of the rare providers that provide a truly free service. Shout out to you guys at CactusVPN, I was able to set this up easily on both my mobile devices as well as the raspberry pi, they have apps for all major platforms/oses(Windows, macOS, Android and iOS) as well as documentation for setting up DNS on linux; which is really nice! The DNS service is available for locales like US, Canada, UK, Germany, Poland and Sweden. Here’s a list of websites that can be unblocked using their services. I hope that they expand their services into other regions as well – India would be swell!

If you want more control, then you could setup your own Smart DNS server in the cloud. Netflix-Proxy looks really promising and I’m going to set it up in India to see if I can unblock Hotstar.

Do note that Smart DNS may not be the best solution for the more adventurous who use P2P, in those cases VPN may be better. But Smart DNS works great for cases where you want to access freely available content or content that you actually pay for and are traveling or are locked out due to poorly implemented checks.

Do let me know if you know of other Smart DNS providers, I’d love to take them out for a spin(specially if they have Indian endpoints)

Je Suis Charlie

It’s been a week and the dust has started to settle after¬†the horrific acts of terror by the islamists again, this time against France. Acts of terror are no longer rare, they keep happening all over all the time most people are at a state where there reaction is like -‘Oh no, not again! How many innocent people lost their lives this time?’

By those standards the attacks at Charlie Hebdo wouldn’t be too appalling and yet these shook the world, these most certainly did shake me up. The difference in this case is that ¬†whereas most terrorist attacks target a place and the goal of the terrorists is to kill as many people as they can, this one was an assassination with surgical precision.

But just that, is not the reason the world was shaken up. We were all shaken up because this was an attack at the conscience of freedom, freedom of thought and expression. It was an attempt to kill the mocking bird and that is what shakes me.

The other thing that saddens me now that all of this is over is that this will happen again and again and again, we still haven’t learned our lessons from all these attacks. Isn’t it funny how humans are supposed to be the smart creatures whereas the machines are supposed to be one dimensional, unable to think and to learn. If you were to run these incidents through the simplest of classification algorithms, you would stare at the common denominator and know what to fix to make sure that this didn’t repeat. Political correctness however wouldn’t allow society to contemplate on the real solution for it would be too radical and too obvious.

With all that being said, let us come back to Charlie Hebdo; I must admit that I didn’t know too much about this obscure French satirical comic. I did check their work out after this and I must admit it was pretty funny and surprisingly accurate factually which is why cartoons can do what bombs can do, shake the foundation of a fickle faith. The artists who illustrated those cartoons may not live anymore but others will come and you will be an inspiration, your memory and your art will live on and a time will come when we finally win this war, it may not be in my lifetime but I will remember and thank you for your invaluable contribution in this fight and in our shared victory.

#JeSuisCharlie

Another partition looms

By the indications that we are getting from the media the state of Andhra Pradesh will be bifurcated, partitioned into two and this saddens me immensely. The parallel with India’s partition at the time of independence is all to evident a state is being carved up in two by the power hungry who will do all that is necessary to remain in power.

India’s partition was engineered by foreign forces as is Andhra Pradeshs’ the former british and the latter italian. It is very easy for a foreigner to divide another persons homeland for they can never understand what it means to those who call that place home, but it isn’t the foreigners who are responsible for both these self inflicted wounds it is us indians who are responsible in both occasions. In 1947 it was Nehru and Jinnah both of whom were power hungry and this time with history repeating itself only the actors are different.

Any partition is a painful ordeal for both parties, be it siblings dividing ancestral property or best friends not being friends anymore. It is never a solution and even after decades the scars of the grave wounds remain, reminders of the futility and foolishness of division.

I’m not from Andhra Pradesh so I can’t claim to be an expert on Telangana but I’ve stayed in Hyderabad and Secunderabad for some time, I have a few friends from the state none of them are radicals so it is possible that my analysis is wrong all together. But I can’t see a single reason for dividing the state except for those motivated by political considerations, the people of the state are mainly from the same linguistic community with no regional community dominating other communities.

The solution to the problem that people are protesting about does not lie in dividing the state into pieces but does so in better governance and empowerment of the people. I wonder how much longer will politics of appeasement drive the future of our country. It hardly matters now though, tonight is probably the last when Andhra Pradesh will be one state come tomorrow another partiton looms large.

Kde4 map windows key to kickoff launcher

KDE’s equivalent to the windows start menu is the kickoff launcher, being a windows user for a long time before I moved to linux some habits just don’t go away. I tried to change the shortcut key associated to kickoff but as it turns out, KDE treats the Win Key as a meta key. That basically means that just like the Shift, Control and the Alt keys it too has no meaning on its own and must be paired with another key to perform some useful function.

Continue reading Kde4 map windows key to kickoff launcher

Oh My ZSH!

I spend a lot of time in front of the terminal and have been using bash ever since I can remember, it’s a fine shell indeed but as I discovered recently, there is a better alternative available. I came across a github project that extends zsh and adds to it, tonnes of features including themes, plugins and configurations Continue reading Oh My ZSH!

The Lost Dan Brown

I had been a huge fan of Dan Brown, his initial few novels sold like wildfire and I was hooked to them. All of them were pageturners The da vinci code, Digital fortress and Angels and demons were all magnificent. Sadly and inevitably the master of conspiracy theories has finally run out of fuel to keep that fire burning.

Recently I read the Lost Symbol and it was a pain to labour through and the story more or less tells us that masons are grown ups who like dressing up and play wierd games. In general when I come across a poor book I just ignore it but this one was so pathetic that I must take time out and warn my fellow readers on the net to not commit the mistake that I made.

I think this is a manifestation of greed of the publishers, In Dan Brown they had a goose that laid golden eggs, they’ve fucked it so bad that now all you get is shit.

Of late I did read a few excellent books that one can definitely read, Laila Lamani’s The lost sun, Anita Desai’s The village by the sea or Fathima Bhutto’s Songs of blood and war would be a far better utilization of time for someone picking up a new book to read.

If you have any suggestions on what I should read( I’ll definitely read it if available in NITT’s Library), then drop in a line.