Run a http server from any directory on Linux

cool_penguin_smallMany a time we need to share files over the LAN. There is a very simple way of doing it when you are on Linux using python2. cd to the directory the contents of which you want to share and run:

//Python 2
$ python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8181

//Python 3
$ pyhton3 -m http.server 8181

Here, 8181 is the arbitrary port number you want to use for your HTTP server. The files can now be accessed from any system in the LAN using a browser at

http://YOUR_IP_ADDRESS:8181

Another interesting utility is nweb.

Tested it between my laptop and mobile over the wireless and worked fine. Happy sharing!

The quota games

coffee_compAs soon as the polls approach, the political parties start making promises on increased quotas. It’s a shame that we claim India to be a secular nation in the legislation. Quotas are blind, even the kith and kin of the ministers can enjoy it. These promises show that the political parties merely treat the vote banks as ghetto masses with zero self-esteem. They ignore the fact that quotas are a way of dividing the people and increasing hatred, as good as the religious card. But who cares about the integrity of the nation? Votes and power are all that they care about!  Do quotas or prerogatives increase the standard of livelihood or the culture of people? Definitely no. Otherwise we wouldn’t have so many hooch deaths or honour killings in India. There are alternatives to quotas: ensuring food, free and mandatory minimum education, ensuring one job per family. But that would require the black money dumped in Swiss banks for a country deep under World Bank debts. So why play it the hard way? When something positive like the Lokepal bill comes to the Parliament all the parties make a mess of it. Considering Class C employees out of the Lokepal? Good lord! Visit a local BSNL or SBI branch and get disillusioned. The treatment and service are inferior to street corner pan shops. None of these political parties have a vision where the country will stand five years down the line. That can’t be expected when 58% of the candidates in a state election are crorepatis who have the money and muscle to let fly in an election and 38% are criminals. Why can’t we mandate a minimum education and clean background for the candidates, how can we risk people for charged candidates? Maybe benefits of doubt. But this is not a game of cricket; the nation suffers. When school children visit slums and clean them or distribute books there it becomes news in our country because it’s rare, countable and insufficient. I have never seen a political party do the same. For a country this large, trying to develop the minority classes by quotas is futile, it needs developing their social condition, giving them a will and confidence to come out of their small world.

Audio Convert: convert audio on Linux

musicWeeks back I faced a problem with playing my WMA files on Android. Due to DRM related issues Android does not support WMA on the fly. The only app I could find to play them was PowerAmp. But I was reluctant to waste some MBs (~ 6MB) on my phone just to play WMA files. While searching for a good converter on Ubuntu I came across Audio Convert, a script which converts audio files using a GUI. I have tried converting only WMA to MP3 till now and it works like a charm. Uses lame in the background to convert to MP3. By default it converted at minimum 128 kbps bitrate which I tweaked to 64 kbps (modify the audio-convert file to add kbps as “quality” to pass to the lame converter. Open-source goodness!). Can be installed as a nautilus extension. Can convert a single file as well as a whole directory of audio files with the same options when used with a wildcard like “*” from the terminal. A great solution for my problem.

Audio Convert can handle convert wav, ogg, mp3, mpc, flac, ape or wma files into wav, ogg, mp3, mpc, flac or ape files.

Webpage: Audio Convert

Radio Tray: online radio streaming player

For online radio lovers, one choice on Ubuntu is Radio Tray – a tiny application that plays from the panel. It uses gstreamer for the plugins to support various streaming formats. Memory usage is low. Capable of showing desktop notifications on song change. Has a sleep timer as well. Audio quality is very good. But its dependencies are a huge issue. The second time I tried to install it on my laptop I had a real hard time finding out which library was missing. Won’t recommend it for newbies.

Comes with a few default radio stations. Some of the stations I added:

  • Washington Bangla: http://supratim.sanyal.org/washington_bangla_radio.m3u
  • Shoutcast Ghazals: http://yp.shoutcast.com/sbin/tunein-station.pls?id=966025
  • Ghazal Radio: http://www.ghazalradio.com:8196/listen.pls
  • My Bangla Gaan: http://yp.shoutcast.com/sbin/tunein-station.pls?id=5915
  • RadioNRI: http://yp.shoutcast.com/sbin/tunein-station.pls?id=1270366

To install Radio Tray on Ubuntu:

$ sudo apt-get install radiotray

Update: Found another exotic way to play online radio channels. Simply open the link in Firefox and open with “Enque in SMPlayer” action. No doubt, this is much better that Radio Tray which can be a pain in the rear if you do not have the correct gstreamer plugins installed already.

Webpage: Radio Tray

Micromax A70

4 months back I was looking for a new mobile when my friend suggested the Micromax A70. At first I was a bit skeptic about Micromax but decided to check it out at the nearby Chroma store. Finally I ended up in buying it from Letsbuy assuming it won’t be a bad idea to play around and experiment with Android. Cost me Rs. 6800 @ 10% discount using a coupon code. My experience has been very good with this smartphone till date. It comes with Froyo (Android 2.2.1) so most of the available apps in Android Market are installable. The screen is much sharper than the Samsung Android phones in the same range I have seen. The shape resembles the Nexus I from HTC and the color is cocoa brown. Performance, connectivity, wifi, audio, video and touch are excellent. Camera is reasonably good with a little tuning or advanced camera apps from the Android Market. Can be readily rooted using z4root. I have removed many of the stock apps. Battery backup is around 1 day. Will rate it @ 8/10 for the huge array of features at this price.

The Wire (2002–2008) [TV Series]

wire

Recently completed watching The Wire. It is an excellent TV series about the lives of people centred around the drug dealings in Baltimore, Maryland. Acting is top-notch. Throws a close insight into many areas like police investigation, apartheid, legal and judicial systems, drug-dealing, politics etc. I gave it a 10/10 rating on IMDB (rating is 9.6 on IMDB). The storyline is packed. Loved the numbers “The Fall” by Blake Leyh and “Way Down in the Hole” by Steve Earle.

Favourite character: The Bunk (played by Wendell Pierce)

Favourite quotes:

“Liar… black liar”  – a homeless and unstable man in police interrogation room. (Watch here)
“It’s a thin line ‘tween heaven and here.” – Bubbles
“A man must have a code.” – Bunk
“Come at the king, you best not miss.” – Omar
“If I hear music, I’m gonna dance.” – Greggs
“Business. Always business.” – The Greek
“Conscience do cost.” – Butchie
“Love the first day, man. Everybody all friendly an’ shit.” – Namond Brice
“No one wins. One side just loses more slowly.” – Prez
“You play in dirt, you get dirty.” – McNulty
“The Bigger the lie, the more they believe.” – Bunk
“Just ‘cause they’re in the street doesn’t mean that they lack opinions” – Haynes
[Find a list of all the opening quotes here.]

PS: The series is suitable strictly for 18+ audience only.

Firefox add-ons I use

firefoxHere are some of the Firefox extensions I use(d) regularly:

  • Adblock Plus: Blocks annoying ads.
  • AddThis: Post pages to various sites and services like Gmail, WordPress, Facebook from the context menu.
  • Auto Shutdown NG: Fine tune what to do after download is complete and you are not available.
  • ChmFox: View CHM files in Firefox.
  • Copy Plain Text: Copy text from a page as plain text without formatting.
  • FDV Speed Dial: Saves a lot of typing. Can create dial images from default site images instead of site previews.
  • Flashblock: Stops flash videos from streaming automatically.
  • InstantFox: Address bar shortcuts and suggestions.
  • New Old Menu: Return to the old menus of Firefox.
  • QuickDrag: Extremely useful. Drag and open an image or a link in a separate tab.
  • Resurrect Pages: Get server-cached pages when a site is down.
  • Side Tabs: Place tabs in a sidebar. Great for widescreen laptops.
  • United States English Spellchecker: Detects spelling mistakes in typing.

SliTaz: a tiny Linux distro to run from USB

slitazI am using SliTaz for a while now. It is a tiny Linux distro which you can run from the USB. It is possible to save the changes, downloaded files as well as to preserve the rootfs (root filesystem) once you are done with installing your regular apps. The modified rootfs is a snapshot to go back to if something goes wrong. It supports all the regular apps like firefox, pidgin, smplayer, flash, gcc etc. Has its own package manager. The distro is extremely fast as it runs off the RAM and has a very small footprint. Can be run on low-end systems without a glitch. Easy to use for end-users (who are advised to used the released version) and a hacker’s delight (who are bound to use the cooking version). Various releases and flavours are available here.

Webpage: SliTaz

Wonderpage: a single place for all your bookmarks

Bookmarks are an indispensable part of our web browsing. While bookmarking links in your browser helps, how about organizing them better in an online service which you can access from anywhere? Wonderpage is an excellent place to save, organize and search bookmarks.

I was using Wonderpage for a while and then I found Historious which is a better alternative because it can also index the contents of the bookmarked page.

Webpage: Wonderpage

Complete Sherlock Holmes online

Who doesn’t like the adventures of Sherlock Holmes? The complete collection is available for reading online here.

The most authentic screen adaptation of Sherlock Holmes is the The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes TV Series (1984-1985). Jeremy Brett brought the greatest fictional detective character into life, literally living the character. I have watched the whole series before but the episodes never fail to amaze me when I re-watch them.