Apple makes OS X Mavericks available for free

Yesterday’s Apple’s media event was pretty awesome. They unveiled the new iPad Air, Mac Pro, MacBook Pros and lot more.

There was one thing which wasn’t expected though – giving away Mavericks for free. On the same day.

OS X Mavericks installation

Mavericks is the first release of OS X breaking away from the cat family names. Apple has removed linen everywhere and has replaced with a solid colour – making it inline with iOS 7 style.

We already talked about the features before, the ones that stand out are Finder tabs/tags, better memory compression, longer battery life, iBooks and so on.

The update is available for all the devices which are running OS X Mountain Lion.

Updating is simple, just open the App Store app and download Mavericks. It’s a huge update – 5.29 GB. The worst part is that, it might actually throw an error in middle and you have to start from scratch again.

My OS X download failed over 4 times, and after a few tries it worked finally. This is because of excess load on Apple’s servers and there’s hardly anything we can do about it.

One small tip though, is that, if the App Store app throws an error saying ‘Download has failed’ or anything like that – open Finder, go to /Applications and look for OS X Mavericks.appdownload. If it exists, launch it. The download should now resume.

Link: OS X Mavericks

Schedule Posts/Updates on Google+ Pages

One of my favourite feature on Facebook pages is that it allows users to schedule posts. This allows a page owner to post an update for maximum visibility. It also means the posts can be spaced out and not spam someones timeline. Google+ Pages are also popular with bloggers to share their posts online but unfortunately there seem to be no option to schedule posts. This feature itself is completely missing on Google+.

Bufferapp for Google Plus Pages

But Bufferapp which also allows scheduling of tweets on multiple accounts, has introduced scheduling options with Google+.

This allows users to hook up their Google+ page to Buffer and schedule posts at separate times and dates.

Some Limitations!

There are restrictions on the number of posts you can schedule and also the number of accounts you can use with Buffer with the free package.

I was a little disappointed with BufferApp not supporting posting to Google+ profiles but it seems to be an issue on Google’s side. Google has not released a Read/Write version of its Google+ Profile API. This means we are not going to see 3rd party apps being able to schedule and post on Google+ profiles anytime soon.

Try out BufferApp for Google+ pages. Do let me know about your views and any similar services in your comments.

Link: Buffer for Google+ Pages

5 Great Bandwidth Saving Tips for Mozilla Thunderbird

In India, it’s still not uncommon to see people using a limited internet connection. In some cases, the limit is ridiculously low. If you send and receive a lot of emails, using an email client can help you save some bandwidth. An email client like Thunderbird downloads all your emails to your computer. So if you need to check a previously downloaded email, you won’t be using any bandwidth again.

However, at times an email client can also use unnecessary bandwidth. For instance, it will download all spam messages with loads of images in them. Or large attachments which you may not want to download. These can be skipped while using webmail, but not in Thunderbird.

So if you are using Thunderbird, here are a few tips to save bandwidth:

Thunderbird

#1. Do not check for messages at startup

Thunderbird checks for new emails for every account on each startup. However, if you have multiple accounts configured, you might want to skip some of them at times. To do this, go to Tools>Account Settings. Locate the account you want to skip in the left page. Select Server Settings below it from. On the right, uncheck the option named Check for new messages at startup. Now Thunderbird will not check for new messages at every startup for this account.

Check new emails at startup

#2. Frequency of checking messages

While Thunderbird is running, it keeps checking for new emails every once in a while. You can save some bandwidth by reducing this frequency. For this, Go to Server settings as stated above. You will see another option named Check for new messages every __ minutes. Reduce this frequency according to your requirements. Say, if you need to check emails frequently, set it to 15. For personal and less important emails, you can set it to 60.

Reduce frequency of message checking in thunderbird

#3. Download only headers

The next option you can tinker with, located a little below the above options, is Fetch headers only. If you select this option, Thunderbird will only download the subject of the email. The rest of the email will be downloaded only if you select the email. I personally find this a bit annoying because I have to wait after clicking on the subject. Loss of productivity. So I would advise using it only in one of the following two cases:

  • You receive a lot of spam emails
  • You are on a really tight bandwidth limit

Fetch headers only in Thunderbird

#4. Do not download large messages

Attachments use a lot of bandwidth. There might be multiple reasons why you might not want to download an attachment. For instance, you might be on the move, checking email via an expensive 3G plan. So you might want to wait till you can access your unlimited broadband connection at home.

To prevent Thunderbird from downloading large attachments automatically, in Account Settings dialog box, select Disk Space from the left pane. On the right, look for the option named To save disk space do not download messages larger than __.

Set size limit for downloading messages

Set the value according to your needs. In general, you could set it to 50-70 KB if you want only text. 100-200 KB should do for emails with small images. Now whenever an email exceeds this size limit, it will not be downloaded completely. You will have the option to download it manually.

Manually download large messages

#5. Disable automatic update

This is pretty straightforward. You disable automatic updates to save bandwidth. To do this, go to Tools>Options. Select Advanced and go to the Update tab. Under Automatically check for updates to: uncheck both Thunderbird and Installed Add-ons.

Desable automatic updates in thunderbird

#6. Do not forward e-mails with attachments (Bonus Tip)

This is not exactly related to Thunderbird but it is good tip to save bandwidth. If you receive an email with attachment that you want to forward, do not forward it from your client. The reason being that the client will have to upload the attachment from your computer. But if you use the web interface of your email, you can forward the attachment from your inbox without downloading it.

Using these simple tips we can save on a lot of bandwidth. So implement these now. Who knows, your next month’s internet bill might end being a little lower.

Online tool to keep track of your mentions on Facebook/Twitter

If your company has a social presence on the web, you must be getting a lot of mentions online, from a lot of sites including Twitter/Facebook etc. Tracking and responding to all those comments can be overwhelming. Sure, you can use Google Alerts(even on a feed reader), but all you get is Google results which doesn’t get updated in real-time.

Mention is a new app (available on almost every platform) which tries to solve this.

Mention app

To get started, you got to download the app or just use the web version. The app with a neat iOS-inspired interface asks you to setup your alert, you can also add aliases to the main keyword. Mention will look for your keyword in lot of sites – including Facebook, Twitter, News, Blogs, Images and more.

The app is pretty fast in fetching new mentions of your keyword and also has anti-noise technology built in, to filter spam. If you’re using the Chrome app, you’ll be greeted with desktop notifications (or else E-mail notifications).

Each alert can be turned into a task, so that you can respond to the mention later – you can connect your social accounts to respond directly, or even invite your friends who are using the app. That way, this app can be great for team collaboration.

You get over 1000 mentions with the free account, which will get renewed every month. It does seem like worth paying for.

Mention is available as a free download for Windows, Mac, Linux, Web and also as a Chrome app. The iPhone app seem to be coming soon.

Link: Mention

[Update: You can get the iPhone app now, right from the iTunes Appstore.]

[Infographic] Tips on Reducing Your Email Load

Managing their email work load is a big problem for many professionals. Email is an essential tool for communicating but since most e-mails sent are often unnecessary or downright spam, it does have an adverse impact of the productivity of a professional. Surely, a programmer or blogger needs to spend as much time as possibly doing things that are of core importance, rather than handle correspondence.

Online IT Degree, has a nice infographic that shows how simply asking oneself the question “Do I need to send this email?” can work wonders.

The most important rule that can be followed to reduce emails, is the if you have a lot to say or discuss, use a phone call or even arrange an online chat, instead of a never ending email thread.

Are you troubled by email overload? Do let us know any tips you use to manage your emails.

How to Enable Offline Editing for Google Docs

Google Docs is a great service. At work, we often use it to collaborate on different ideas and plans. The only real problem with Google Docs was we could not really access them offline.

Google Docs now has the option of being available for editing in offline mode.

How to Set up Offline Docs

Google Docs as you might know has become Google Drive. That means all your Google Documents and spread sheets are part of Google Drive.

Log into your Google account and access your Google Drive on the browser. Click on the settings icon and from the drop down menu click on “Set up Docs offline”.

Now make sure you have the Google Drive web app installed on your Chrome browser. Click on “Enable offline Docs” button and your documents are made available offline.

Unfortunately, the offline feature works only on the Chrome browser.

Enable Offline Docs on Google Apps

If you have Google Apps for your organization then you might want to offline docs for your Google Apps account.

Simply go over to the admin panel if you are the admin. Under services select Drive and Docs.

A new option with title Offline allows you to check a box. Check it and click on Save. This should enable your Google Apps account users to enable their accounts to get offline docs.

A Boost of Chrome OS

Having the ability to edit documents offline is extremely useful not just for regular Google Docs users but also for Chromebook owners. Chromebooks run on Chrome OS, which did not have much offline functionality.

It should also give Chrome OS a lot more acceptability in time to come. What would be interesting is how Microsoft reacts as they pretty much have a stranglehold on the Office Enterprise software market and earn considerable revenues from Microsoft Office.

A lot of users who do not exactly want the entire Microsoft Office suite of desktop applications could potentially move over to Google.

Google Drive can also be accessed on Android, iPhone/iPad and desktops versions.

Do drop in your comments.

[TIP] Dropbox Doubles Free Space for Every Referral!

Dropbox only allows 2  GB free space when someone creates an acocunt. But getting extra space is not that difficult especially if you get a lot of your friends to signup as referrals. Usually each referral would get 500 250 MB extra storage space.

Dropbox has recently doubled up the storage space for referrals from 500 MB to 1 GB 250 MB to 500 MB.

I guess for cloud storage 2 GB is a lot but as many people like myself end up storing photos on Dropbox, having extra space which is free does not hurt. :-)

Just sign-in to your Dropbox account and share your referral link on Twitter, Facebook and also in your Email.

Is this the Google Drive effect?

Dropbox might soon get a strong competition from Google. It is rumored that Google will launch its cloud storage service this April called Google Drive. Dropbox has the disadvantage of not having a captive audience but it has the advantage of not being platform oriented.

For example, I still know a lot of people using iPhones or iPads using Dropbox rather than iCloud. This is because they might have a laptop running on Windows which also is compatible with Dropbox.

If and when Google Drive is released, it will be interesting to see how things unravel between Dropbox and Google Drive. Do drop in your comments.

Link: Dropbox

Related: Automatically Backup your Facebook Photos on Dropbox!

Gmail Tip: Assign Labels To Emails Before They Are Sent!

I use Gmail to manage all my emails. Creating filters and assigning incoming emails different labels is a handy way to sort out your email. But tracking the emails you send are not as easy to sort out. Some might require following up while some might not. This is why Gmail has recently introduced allowing users to add labels to emails even before sending them out. 😉

  • Just click on compose and start writing your email. A new option to add a label to that email appears. Users can also ‘star’ it along with assigning labels.
  • Unfortunately I did not see this option with my Google Apps account but hopefully they will roll it out for App accounts soon.
  • You might also want to check on Gmail Undo Send feature, which allows users to stop an email they might have sent by mistake.

Gmail over the last year did concentrate on some fancy changes like a new design and integrating it with Google+ circles. Many of these changes were cosmetic but  it seems that Gmail is now back to rolling out features which are more productive.

What are your views on Gmail and its changes over the last year? Do you think it is not churning out productive features with as much regularity as before? Do drop in your comments.

Related: [Online Tip] Publish your Email Load for Gmail!

Remove “eval(base64_decode” using linux commands from all php files across multiple WordPress

Yesterday, almost all installations on our test server had been infected by infamous “<?php eval(base64_decode(…)) ?>” code injection.

We have more than 600 demo sites on our test server and cleaning them using any WordPress plugin out there was simply out of the question! Can you imagine logging into each WordPress, installing plugin, then scanning/cleaning up WordPress… for 600+ WordPress sites?

Below is combination of Linux commands we used.  Assuming you have logged into a Linux Shell and already have BACKUP of all files (including infected files) lets move ahead!

Command to list all infected files:

grep -lr --include=*.php "eval(base64_decode" /path/to/webroot

This is not necessary but its better to check some files manually to confirm if they have malicious code we are looking for. Also we can use this command after running cleanup command to crosscheck if cleanup is really successful.

Command to remove malicious code:

If above command gives you correct output, execute following command to perform actual cleaning:

grep -lr --include=*.php "eval(base64_decode" /path/to/webroot | xargs sed -i.bak 's/<?php eval(base64_decode[^;]*;/<?php\n/g'

Executing above will remove eval(*) codes.  Above command will also generate a backup version of files it will modify. For example, if it removes code from index.php, you will find a new file index.php.bak in same directory with original content of index.php

Now after running above command, you still find some more infected files, then you need to adjust search and replace parameters in for “sed” part.    You may also use following command for a “liberal” cleaning at the risk of breaking something. (in case you really break something, like I did, you can jump to “Troubleshooting” section below!)

grep -lr --include=*.php "eval(base64_decode" /path/to/webroot | xargs sed -i.bak '/eval(base64_decode*/d'

Trying to avoid re-appearance of this code injection

Its really though to cover every possible way to protect yourself from such attach in this post.

If you remember, WordPress community faced this kind of issue because of WP-PhpMyAdmin plugin sometime back. In our case, we found some old WordPress demo sites were having that plugin installed.

To remove WP-PhpMyAdmin plugin form all WordPress sites on your server, execute following command:

find /path/to/webroot -name "wp-phpmyadmin" -type d | xargs rm -rf

Above is all we did to get rid of eval(base64_decode(*)) codes from all files on our test server. If this happens again on our server, I will update this post with added info.

Troubleshooting:

Just in case you end up in a mess, below are some useful commands.

Missing <?php tag in the beginning:

To add “<?php: tag in the beginning of index.php files, in case if you remove it accidentally use following command:

find /var/www/ -name "index.php" | grep "/htdocs/index.php" | xargs grep -L "<?php" | xargs sed -i "1s/^/<?php \n/"

Don’t worry. If you already have a “<?php ” tag in the beginning, it won’t be added again.

Extra Newlines at the top!

If you find after cleanup, extra newlines at the top of your code, then use following command to remove trailing newlines. Extra newlines creates problem for blog feeds.

find . -name '*.php' -exec sed -i -e :a -e '/^\n*$/{$d;N;ba' -e '}' '{}' \;

I hope you will find this stuff useful.

Use Email Account to Post on Twitter – twitemail

I know many friends who are email addicts and do not like using Twitter only because they cannot sent out tweets from their email address. It makes sense as we can reply to comments on Facebook via email.

Now there is hope for people to post on Twitter by sending an email with Twitemail.

Twitemail Features

  • Sign-in with your Twitter credentials and authorize Twitemail to use your Twitter account.
  • Now the next page takes you to a page that allows you to generate your secret email id. It is supposed to be secret as if you share this email address, someone might be able to post on your account using it. Do not worry, you can change the secret email and generate a new one too.

Generate_twitemail_email_id

  • Now take this email id and compose an email from any email address.

Email_twitter_twitemail

  • Send the email and it can be then seen posted on Twitter. :-)

I liked using this service as it allows me post something on Twitter using my email. I do wish there was a way to register your email so it would be more secure, even if you shared your secret email id to send tweets accidentally.

If you liked using Twitemail, I would suggest Flexamail which also allows sending and checking Twitter and Facebook posts.

Do drop in your comments.

Link: Twitemail