De-Googlifying!

I have been a huge fan of Google since it’s early days. Or well, since my early days of finding about Google, but I haven’t been too happy about it lately. First, there were some privacy concerns, then they closed Google Reader which really annoyed me, and now they are constantly moving away from open standards and protocols.

I stared my slow exodus from Google services a while back, there are some services that I still use, but I am mostly de-googlified now, atleast compared to before. Here are alternatives I am using, they aren’t the only alternatives, but they are the ones I have chosen to go with:

Search: I have been a long time DuckDuckGo.com user, gave it a try when it was just launched and have been using it since then. It’s zero-click info is very cool, and 80% of the time I don’t even have to look at the actual results. Not to mention it’s privacy aware and doesn’t save or share your personal info.

Email: My primary email address is @aqeeliz.com, previously it was set up on Gmail, but I have moved to FastMail now, a paid email service, it has pretty good prices, a nice webmail client and all the features expected of a good email service.

Calendar / Contacts: I am not sure about this one yet, currently I’m trying Fruux. The free account allows access from only two devices, which is good enough for my current needs, though I can always upgrade later if I need more. I am also keeping an eye open for other alternatives.

Tasks: Only good thing about Google Tasks was that it was available right in my Gmail window, so there wasn’t any need to use it once I stopped keeping my Gmail tab open. As for an alternative, there are lots of goods ones, I have moved to Wunderlist, it is a highly recommended, feature rich task management app, with multi-platform clients. It’s also a Lifehacker favourite, if that means anything to you.

Storage: I’ve been using Dropbox for a long time, tried to switch to Google Drive when it launched, but the lack of Linux client stopped me from it, I guess that was a good thing, one less service to migrate from.

Photos: I have always been a Flickr fan, and using Google Photos mainly as a backup storage, I may still use it as a backup service but not sure yet… probably not.

Things Where I am still stuck with Google:

Google Talk: That is one of the thing where I am still stuck, pretty much all my contacts are on Google Talk, and unless I can make them switch to another service, I am stuck here too. Currently the only alternative I like for this is Jabber/XMPP, time to convert the people!

Google Play: It is the best and safest App store for Android, I don’t think I am going to step away for this any time soon. If nothing else, this is going to stop me from deleting my Google account.

I guess that is pretty much all the Google services I was using, will update the post if I thought of anything I missed.

A4Tech Webcams in Linux

Recently I was looking for a webcam for an old laptop running Linux. While searching for some compatible webcam, I mostly found information about chipsets, or the brands that aren’t readily available in Pakistan, and when they are, they aren’t too cheap.

The most common brand available here is A4tech, and the only posts I found about it were few years old with some people having issues with some specific model. Still, I went ahead and got one (PK-732G to be exact) and it works fine in linux. No driver or configuration required, just plug and play. As far as I know the chipset is pretty much same in all their models, so they should all work fine. Hopefully it will help someone else looking for the info.

TL;DR: A4Tech Webcams work in Linux.

AjaxFileUpload – IE Not Posting The File Issue

Recently working on a site, which used a customized version of AjaxFileUpload to upload files, I encountered an issue with Internet Explorer. When uploading it in IE 8 and IE 9, browser would just jump directly to ‘success’ part of the function, without actually posting anything to the specified URL.

The scenario was following:

Clicking on a button would trigger click event of a hidden file type input (visibility: hidden), which had ajaxFileUpload function on  it’s onchange event. This works fine in most browsers, except that Internet Explorer doesn’t post file type fields when they are not manually clicked on by the user or when they are hidden.

Once that was figured out, you can use various things to workaround it. We choose to use SI.files jQuery plugin, which shows image in place of file type input. Only thing to make sure with the plugin is that the image should be over the ‘browse’ button, not the text field where it shows path of the file, or it would require double click in Internet Explorer, and also show text selection cursor instead of pointer cursor. Other than that, it works flawlessly over all browsers (at least the ones we tested).

Books Read in 2012

2012 has been a slow year for reading, I only read 25 books, out of which 9 were re-reads of Wheel of Time series in preparation of the final book release, ‘A Memory of Light’. I also got to read a few book I have been meaning to read for a while but hadn’t been able to get around to them before, including 1984 and Flash Forward.

Here is the complete list of books I read in 2012, arranged by time of reading:

  1. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Prisig
  2. The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks
  3. Flash Forward by Robert J. Sawyer
  4. Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson (Malazan Book of the Fallen book 1)
  5. Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson (Malazan Book of the Fallen book 2)
  6. If Only It Were True by Marc Levy
  7. The Lottery : Nine Science Fiction Stories by Lucy Sussex (Short story collection by various writers)
  8. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn book 1)
  9. The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn book 2)
  10. The Hero of Ages by Bradon Sanderson (Mistborn book 3)
  11. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
  12. The Book of Saladin by Tariq Ali
  13. Jurasic Park by Michael Crichton
  14. Wyrd Sisters by Terry Paratchett
  15. Life of Pi: A Novel by Yann Martel
  16. Pyramids by Terry Paratchett
  17. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time book 1)
  18. The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time book 2)
  19. The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time book 3)
  20. The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time book 4)
  21. The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time book 5)
  22. Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time book 6)
  23. A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time book 7)
  24. The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time book 8)
  25. Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time book 9)

Due to my job, I don’t have as much available time now as I used to, but I hope to increase the count this year, let’s see how it goes.

I Am Back!

After a long hiatus, I’ve finally set up my site again!

I am not going to restore old posts, as it’s mostly a personal blog, there wasn’t much there worth restoring. So, if you came here from some old link, looking for something, I am sorry, but it is gone forever now.