Thejesh GN

A Blog, A Website and A container for all my views with excerpts from technology, travel, films, india, photography, kannada, friends and other interests. I am Thejesh GN. Friends call me Thej

You could be committing crime by Scraping or Stumbling

Posted by Thejesh GN On November - 21 - 20121 COMMENT

For most of us who work with data, Scraping is the default way to get the data out of public internet. To give you an example what it means. Lets say you have a published URL like

http://openbangalore.org/postbox/pb/pincode/571120

which gives you the postboxes in the pincode area 571120. If you are smart enough you will replace 571120 by 560100 to get the postboxes for the area 560100. But I as the owner of OpenBangalore didn’t want you to access 560100, so it was “hidden” and was not linked from anywhere. But then I was so lame and didn’t password protect it. I published it and assumed no one else will get access to it. So when you accessed the page with 560100 with out my explicit permission and I assume you broke law.

This is exactly what happened to Weev, who accessed pages on AT&T servers which were published by AT&T and was hidden from public view. Weev like any curious hacker recognized the pattern in url and exposed the security flaw through Gawker Media after AT&T had been notified. Unfortunately AT&T is a huge company to take this embarrassment. Also the leak exposed 114,000 iPad users personal data, including those of celebrities, the government and the military. Hence they sued.

Like I expected yesterday on November 20, 2012, Weev was found guilty of one count of identity fraud and one count of conspiracy to get access to a computer (public web server) without authorization. It’s the price one pays for embarrassing rich and powerful.

But the worst part is this can make many genuine actions on internet illegal. What if I am using StumbleUpon and land on one of those pages which I am not supposed to. Or if I am a data enthusiast and scrape pages of a published public website for data using simple url logic. Is there a chance of getting sued for these actions? I am sure of it.

End Note 1: I kind of expected Apple/Ipad owners to sue AT&T for negligence. Strange it didn’t happen.

End Note 2: I here by let you to read, link and distribute this article. Also you are more than welcome to scrape OpenBangalore. In fact if you are interested we can work on that together.

End Note 3: Indian IT laws are not very different. I am sure the same would have happened in India.

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DIY Origami Bookmarks using Instagram Pictures

Posted by Thejesh GN On November - 10 - 20121 COMMENT

Not all instgram pictures have to stay on instagram. They can be part of your life if they are good memories. I created this fun bookmarks using instgram pics as a gift.

Step 1: Print the picture on the right corner of a square as top down.

With pictures on them they look like this. Choose a thinner paper as we need to fold. The picture size is 200px by 200px and hence the block is 400 by 400. We can have two such prints on an A4 sized paper.
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Step 2: Fold it along the diagonal
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This is how it will look on the other side
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Step 3: Fold from top match the bottom triangle as shown in the picture
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Step 4: Insert the two side flaps into
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Step 5: Press it well along the corners using a scale so it folds well
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Step 6: Leave a msg if you want
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Step 7. End product as bookmark (sorry for the bad picture)
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Inspiration.

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SmartTab – Why a cheap android tab?

Posted by Thejesh GN On November - 9 - 20121 COMMENT

I bought a new Karbonn SmartTab2. It was roughly INR 7K ($140). Many of my friends were surprised that I bought a cheap tablet (especially because I have plans of upgrading my Nexus One by year end). I have been exploring cheap tablets for a while and I settled down for SmartTab at last for a couple of reasons.

  • It’s sturdy, portable and affordable.
  • It has all the connectivity I wanted—USB (can connect to USB modem, hard disk etc), Bluetooth, MicroSD, HDMI out, WiFi and front camera. GSM was not required as I have a phone which is capable of getting onto cellular network and also tethering.
  • Enough power—1GHz and 512 MB RAM.
  • Decent OS, ice cream sandwich
  • Apps that matter like 3G app which can connect to Internet using my USB modem.

SmartTab

I have plans for some hardware hacks which need cheap, accessible (ports) and decent computer to use. I think Android as an OS suits the deal and hence SmartTab is a perfect fit.

I will probably use Processing + Android (Amarino) + Arduino + bebox for my hacks. Any suggestions are welcome.

As of now I am just watching movies, reading books ad taking Internet offline. I must say I am very impressed with it and I might buy one for my parents.

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Then they came for whistleblowers

Posted by Thejesh GN On October - 17 - 20123 COMMENTS

Today’s Salman Kurshid incident reminds me

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

You can replace communists, socialists, trade unionists by virtually anybody who is honest and interested in India. This is probably worst time in Indian politics Hope Manmohan Singh comes out and sacks his law minister.

If you haven’t seen the leaked video yet then check the report below

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Instgram for Crowdsourcing Postbox Locations

Posted by Thejesh GN On October - 16 - 20124 COMMENTS

Update: Its become an all India postbox data collection project. Now we use the tag #openpostboxindia. The source code is open sourced and can be used for any type of photo and location based data collection using Instagram and Twitter.

I have been using instagram a lot. If you follow me on instagram you would have noticed pictures of postboxes. If you check the details they all have a similar tagging pattern. They all are tagged with #openbangalore #openpostboxindia #postbox and #pin<pin_code>. The last tag #pin<pin_code> in real will look like #pin560100. All these pictures belong to my secret project called postboxes.


I like sending post cards. It’s such a pain to send post card because its difficult to find a postbox. There aren’t many these days. So for last few months I had been taking geo tagged pictures thinking one day I will clean them up. But that never happened.

But then instagram gave me an option to collect and organize this data in a fun way. I jumped into it. So now I instagram a post box with #openbangalore #postbox and #pin<pin_code>. I also geo tag them. I have a script which uses the instagram API and pulls the image url,Tags, Location, Time, User credits out of it. Cleans up that data and inserts into a SQLite database.
Read the rest of this entry »

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