Converting a large text file into an sqlite database

Sometimes we need to deal with large text files that are more than some text editors can handle. I recently have to convert a large text file containing a list of words which contains more than 600,000 lines.  The file size was just under 100MB and to open it with a text editor was an exercise in frustration.  Continue reading “Converting a large text file into an sqlite database”

Flash zero day means one more thing to watch out for

As browser vendors have tightened the loopholes used by criminal hackers to infect the computers of unsuspecting internet users, there has been an increase in third-party plug-ins being exploited to work around the measures that have been implemented.

First Java became the primary target. With a wide install base, Java provided a low-hanging fruit for exploits used to infect users with malware. In the last two years, there have been quite a few exploits in the wild that exploited Java to enable drive by downloads, thereby infecting computers silently, without any input from the user.

More recently, Flash has become a target. It has a few thing in common with Java, in that it has a widespread install base, which makes it a good target for exploits. Since Flash is also still the primary video player used for video streaming websites, a lot of people are unlikely to uninstall it.

With the discovery of the latest zero day bugs, Flash has become quite a dangerous liability to a lot of users. Of course one can always disable Flash now that YouTube uses HTML5 video player to deliver its content, but a lot of other video streaming websites still rely on the old trusty streaming workhorse.

Let’s evaluate the steps a user can take to stay safe:

  1. Use a plugin such as Flashblock to disable Flash for all websites but ones that you trust. This strategy can work well if the websites that you trust don’t run Flash advertisement banners from third party networks. However, in real life scenario, most websites run advertising banners from another network, which makes this strategy less effective.
  2. Block all advertisements using Adblock or something similar. This will block a lot of advertising on every site you visit. However, this is not completely foolproof as evidenced by paid exceptions deals by some of the ad-blocking software and some of the biggest advertising networks on the web.
  3. Turn off Flash by default and enable it only for particular instances, eg the video player being watched. While this is a little safer, there is still a danger as many video streaming sites display Flash banners from other domains inside the video player. This could potentially be a problem as a nasty payload could potentially be delivered through the third party domains, even though the website you visit is safe.
  4. Combine step number 3 above with a browser that is safe. So far, the only browser that is not affected by the latest Flash bug is Google Chrome. This could be a good strategy to mitigate risk with the current bug.

It should be noted that as the arms race between browser makers and the hackers intensifies, one day you will wake up to the news that Flash on Chrome has been compromised. It may already be compromised right now, but it is still a good bet for safety. As is often said, security is not just software, but an attitude that everyone should always keep in mind. It is a stance to be vigilant in the face of new threats that keep growing.

Good luck and browse safe.

 

I don’t need no app for each website

In the last few months, I have noticed that a lot of the websites that I have visited have been offering apps. It gets quite annoying after a while, as every time I visit the website, I am greeted by a modal pop-over asking me if I would like to install their app. The pop-over, invariably has a very large button to take you to Google Play Store (formerly known as “Android Market”) with a quite small link underneath it with a “continue to website” text. Continue reading “I don’t need no app for each website”

List of Free Apps That I Use

My favourite free Android apps

The main attraction of the smartphone systems available in the market is the ability of users to install applications. The ability of users to install applications on their phones is essentially what makes smarphones “smart”. The range of applications available is quite wide and they number in the tens of thousands to the millions.  Continue reading “List of Free Apps That I Use”

Why Blender is my choice for 3D Software

Blender is the best 3D software of recent times

Since its 2.5 update, Blender has been the go to 3D software for a lot of people. Its updated interface has brought it closer to being user-friendly, especially compared to the version I began learning on, 2.49. Even though there are still some rough edges, it is now a lot more palatable for people beginning their 3D modelling and animation journey. Continue reading “Why Blender is my choice for 3D Software”