What's Sailing

Aboard The Nautilus, that is

I finally decided to write a blog post for my non geek friends with affiliations ranging from DPs to BPs and the oblivious to all, but the elite few, GPs (Keep thinking, non_IITians). In midst of all the chapos, and ghissai(not me, of course), Nautilus has been, and will remain a lonely submarine beneath the ocean. And this has been the way for me in the past month. After a hefty piece of time where we were attacked by the mighty INS Cognizance (actually it was a retariation attack, because you see, Nautilus had won an event of theirs, a treasure hunt, and the mighty Cognizance, and the event organizers deemed the methods of my winning to be dishonest. (I had my reasons). But after that a hefty war at the seas resumed. I, had the luxury to dip underneath and avoid everything, once in a while. But rumours surrounded me, and I started to hear all sorts of things about me. And that is when the drama settled once and for all.(It ended with a 5k fine, if you need to know).

INS Cognizance is on its way for the end of its journey(Join it @ www.cognizance.org.in and 26-30 Mar, IITR). However I shall be busy participating somewhere else, Chaos ‘10, India’s largest gaming extravaganza. I have assured INS Cognizance that Nautilus shall no longer be troubling them, but who knows with such waters, a collision may be unavoidable in the near future. And when that happens, I’m taking my warheads with me, just in case.

In other news, I have been working on a couple of my own ideas, such as SMAC-I (Search Music Across Channel I), a Video Portal for Cinematography Section, IITRAANA.org, Counter Strike servers, the Intra Bhawan Gaming Tourney (which we won easily enough in AoE, NFS, as well as CS). Congrats to my clan mates. The net connectivity has been terrible here, and I’ve been derailed a few times along my route to Gmail.  Among other news, Oh, and I won the second prize in srishti’s dynamic website design, for LION- my twitter clone. I may or may not launch it, because you see, its just another clone. I also put up a new design for Criitique.in. Please check it out, and comment. I also posted a lot of pics and designs in Kriti , the DeviantArt clone for IITR. Check them as well.

For those outside IITR, the link for my web presence is http://nemo.criitique.in.

Here are some final few words in parting to all my frnds @ IITR

@[Ex!$TeN$n3] - gl hf, gg :)
@LxG - 14,11
@alpha_Q - Better Luck Next Time
@17ninJa - Practice For Chaos
@bOb - fnatic lost to na’vi 2-0 (16-14, 16-13 in train, infy !)
@roomie - [insert silence here]
@xerxes,forsaken - nice team
@DArK_LOrD - i expected better
@Dead_Man - Welcome to LxG
@ll those I frGT - [Proxy laga dena plz]

And special thanks to DR. Lecter, General Hendrix for making the legend of Capt. Nemo a reality. If you ever need assistance in a cross atlantic trip, let me know. I may ship you till atlantis, after which you are responsible for yourself and your belongings :)

Learning PHP/mySQL Part 1

Over the past 2 months, I’ve been learning PHP/mySQL as a great language. After helping out a lot of people, I’ve decided to write a tutorial on using PHP/mySQL to create a cool website. For the entire duration of this tutorial, this is the list of softwares we will be working with:

XAMPP Server Lite version (to get apache & mySQL) Dreamweaver CS4 (For Template Support). Alternatively use Microsoft Expression Web 3. Notepad++ (Its a cool editor) PHP Manual (download the full html version)

The website we will be developing is called Artemis Fowl Files (AFF for short). It is a small website with several features that we shall develop over the length of the tutorial.

Installing PHP & mySQL using XAMPP

PHP is a server side scripting language. Which means that PHP is run on the web server itself. For example any PHP script running at Google.com will remain on the server, and not reach you (the client). By contrast, JavaScript runs on the client side, i.e. any JS code must be transmitted to the client before being executed.

This is how a basic PHP script actually runs:

PHP source File –> PHP Parser (running on the web server) –> Becomes an HTML file –> HTML File sent to Client

Which means that the PHP source file is run on the server, which converts the file to a pre-calculated html file, which is then sent to the client. Lets write some basic php coding.

1:  <HTML>
2:  <HEAD><TITLE>Sample PHP File</TITLE></HEAD>
3:  <BODY>
4:  <?php
5:  echo "This is a sample PHP File";
6:  ?>
7:  </BODY>
8:  </HTML>

The basic context of PHP is that the only code that is considered PHP is that covered between <?PHP and ?> blocks. Anything outside these is neglected and remains the same(i.e. it is not run on the server). The echo command sends the text string to the html file. All this means that the file received by the client will look like this:

2:  <BODY>
3:  This is a sample PHP File
4:  </BODY>
5:  </HTML>

This is what you will  get if you ran the script on a test server. But before doing that we must install XAMPP, and do some basic setup stuff.

Download, and Extract XAMPPlite.exe anywhere in your computer. Go to where you installed it and run setup_xampp.bat. This will automatically start the Apache Server, and the mysql Server by default. Also try tinkering with XAMPP-Control and see what runs it.

Now open your web browser (Firefox/Chrome is preferred) and open This IP address is a loopback IP address and always refers to this computer itself (yours). Now you should see a XAMPP splash screen. Go ahead and explore. As of now, what you’ve achieved is this : Installed Apache and the mySQL server. Now we need to change the settings for mysql. Open and change the mysql root password(its blank by default). Also set a password on the xampp directory, so that others cant access these settings. Remember the mysql root password, for it will be useful later on.

Now comes the part where we actually sit down to write some code. We will be developing the mysql parts in the next segment. However we still need to do some other little things before we reach that part.

Creating The Dreamweaver Template

Now, call me lazy, but I don’t like designing themes, and CSS for my websites. I usually use a free one. And for the rest of this tutorial, I assume you will do the same. We need to create a Dreamweaver website using a readymade CSS Template. To get a template head on to http://www.freecsstemplates.org. I choose this template. Feel free to choose anything. It does not really matter which, but take care not to download a three column template, because what we will be developing is quite basic.

Create a directory called artemis inside htdocs folder(found inside xampp). Extract the css template files to the artemis folder such that the index.html file is inside xampp\artemis . Now head to your browser and open

If all went well, you should now see the template theme. Now we must convert this css template into a Dreamweaver template. Open the index.html file in  Dreamweaver. We have to mark certain areas that we intend to edit in each document as editable. For instance the top header in each document must remain the same and would not be editable. But the sidebar content may need to change as per each page on our site. Taking this further the footer will be the same for each page. To create an editable region, just select a sample text from the main text (the one on that looks like the blog entry) and right click –>Templates->Create Editable Region.

Dreamweaver will give a warning that the current document will be converted to a template. That is what we want. Give a name to the region(lets call it ‘main’). Now delete everything other than this main region from the right column(ie the blog entry column. You may need to switch to the split view to cleanly delete the html markup.

Similarly create another editable region for the sidebar. Remember to delete everything else in the sidebar as well. Now there is something to Dreamweaver which requires you to create a “site” before you can create a template. So go to Site Menu and click on New Site. Choose a site name (Artemis) and enter the correct web address where you can access index.html ( or http://localhost/artemis). Tell Dreamweaver that you want to use a server technology (PHP mySQL). Choose edit and test locally(because we don’t yet have access to an external web server).

Once you’ve created a site, you can save the web template. (Ctrl S). Currently no templates exist in our web site, So we will create one and call it “main template”. If Dreamweaver asks you to update links, press yes.

Now we will create our basic home page using this template. Press Ctrl+N to create a new page. On the left choose “Page from Template”, Choose the site as Artemis, and the template as well. Press Create, and viola, we have our homepage. You may see that the heading, footer, and links are not changeable, because they’re not defined as “editable” in the template. However the regions you choose to be editable are marked as such. Try writing some basic text in the sidebar and in the main content screen, and then save the file as index.php.

Now open in your computer, and be greeted with your newest creation. It’ is still, as of now, a static site, with links that don’t work and no dynamism, but we will make it better in the next part.

If you had trouble following this tutorial anywhere feel free to post comments, or tweet me @captn3m0. I will be happy to reply. Further if you feel that you missed something, here is my work for you to compare with:

//#todo add link to zip file here

Nautilus : Behind The Curtains

Almost everyone looks at my laptop’s screen, and asks me “is that Windows 7 ?” and I reply each of them with the same answer “No”. I have not yet moved to 7, because of various reasons, which I am not going to explain over here, but lets just say that I’m still clinging to dear old Vista. I don’t really have much of a trouble with Vista as many people have said. I work blazingly fast with Vista, which is what it is all about. As an operating system, it is expected to help me get my job done, not do everything by itself”. And this is where my software listing comes into view. Since everyone have those “how the heck did you do that?” moments when they look at me doing stuff, I decided to publish a listing of some of my favourite applications that I use so that I may redirect you to safe spot where you may choose things as you like. This listing may not suite your way of working, however you might find a gem or two along the way. This is not a listing of all softwares that I use. Rather just a collection of cool tools that I think every Windows user must be using. If you think you’ve found that killer-app for doing things, do let me know in the comments. I’ll be listening.

  • **Dell Dock : **I just love this tools and its ability to divide the applications that I use into categories. It doesn’t take much of a screen estate, and takes me where ever I ask it to. With the ability to assign custom icons, and add separators/categories etc, it is more than an average dock, its my favourite dock. On the downside, this is only for Dell Computers, and comes preinstalled. However you can download it from here if you didn’t get it with your dell systems. Non dell users may be interested in RK Launcher, a freeware dock that simulates Mac Dashboard, and does a pretty good job. There was another version of Dell Dock (2.x which has yet to be released on the website, but was available to Dell Studio buyers, with new and better icons. Drop by a comment if you need it.
  • **Windows Sidebar : **Another tool I find myself using frequently is the Windows Sidebar, with 3-4 gadgets that are absolutely essential to me, such as the NowPlaying, MultiMeter, and the Top Processes gadget. A key shortcut to remember here is Win+Space which pops up my sidebar. Gadgets are a quick way to organize yourself, and keep a check on other things, like you schedule(Date Time), twitter(Twadged), quick launching apps, direct search among other things. Most users underestimate their usage and restrict themselves to the Clock and Slideshow gadget. Go ahead and search for them, see if you can find a gadget that matches what you’d like.

  • **My TaskbarQuick Launch : **Not many would regard this as a tool, however this gives one a productivity boost. Try putting your favourite tools in the Quick Launch, and see if that helps you a bit, between searching for that app in Start Menu, or clicking it right where its clickable. Also try increasing the size of the Quick Launch, by Unlocking the taskbar, right click->View->Large Icons. That really looks cool!
  • Internet Download Manager** :**My personal favourite download manager. Others that you may be interested in are : Orbit , DownThemAll! ( a firefox extension). Helps me keep a track on what I’m downloading right now, and speed benefits are downright clear. I also like its feature to capture downloads from any application, so I don’t have to wait for those updates taking forever to download. Downloads using batch files, schedulers, and even turns off your computer when its done.
  • Everything** : **I should have put this above all in the list. This is such a good tool, I cannot overestimate its importance. What it basically does is searches “Everything”. The tool does not index file contents/properties, and only maintains an index of file names. As such it is blazingly fast, and searches all my applications/music/files damn quick. With an efficient shortcut(such as Win+S), you’re on your way to becoming a windows power user. On the downside, once you start using this real frequently, you tend to get a little disorganized putting stuff everywhere, knowing you will find it with Everything. Here’s a link to the website. (MUST USE)
  • Browsers : In browsers, I currently use a combination of Google Chrome/Firefox as my primary browser, updated to the latest dev build, and last  stable beta respectively. Both of these are great, and I prefer Firefox with its huge base of extensions available. And if someone is out there using IE still, please switch immediately. Firefox is such a great way to browse with, and Chrome such a ease on the eyes. Its hard for me to pick between the two, I’ll rather wait and watch over the next year, where each one stands. Safari and Opera come a distant second for me with Safari being the better one.
  • File Tools : I use 7-zip for compression purposes, CCleaner to rid my computer of junk, Defraggler to defragment my hard disk, Recuva from the same company to restore those accidently deleted files.Another tool I would mention here is “GoodSync” which i use to sync my usb drive and my Documents. I also use it to organize my Start Menu, using a Dock folder in my Desktop, which i sync to the Start Menu. Dropbox is the best tool I use for my syncing purposes, between different computers. It offers 2 gb for starters, and all the sync is on the fly, meaning you just copy things to your Dropbox folder, which is automatically synced to all of your computer. It is also a great way to sync your projects with different people.

  • **Multimedia : **I prefer Windows Media Player 11 for audio, and VLC for video viewing. With my NowPlaying gadget, and GTalk in sync with WMP, its easy to change tracks, and let others know what you’re listening to. I also use Zune occasionally when I’m in the mood of a pure music experience. Pictures are pretty easy to manage with Windows built in Photo Gallery, or its live version. Also check out picasa, google’s free photo management tool.

  • Office Tools :I am currently using a Technical Preview Beta of Office 2010, for documents,presentations. Notepad++ for text and code editing, Foxit PDF Reader for ebooks, and reading stuff, which is way faster, and smaller than that Bloated Adobe Acrobat Reader. I use Windows Live Writer, which offers a lot of plugins to edit posts, including this one.Offline gmail and Google Docs capability is way cooler than you think. Do try it out

  • mse Anti Virus : This is one of the areas where I am consulted the most. Which antivirus to use? Well I would recommend you Kaspersky if you’re ready to shell out some money with a little slowing down to your system or use “Microsoft Security Essentials” which I currently use. It is quick, doesn’t hog down my system, stops real time protection when i want it to, excludes some of my dangerous folders from being scanned and nuked, updates itself, detects almost any virus I dare to throw at it, and looks neat. On the downside, however it is just minimal, with no support for hosts file scanning, white listing, firewall, cookie management, user control, among other “high level stuff” that other anti viruses offer. But I like it, have been consistently using it for last 3 months, and am pretty sure I’m virus free. It does have a catch : you must own a valid, genuine copy of Windows to use the tool.

  • Security Tools : Security Tools includes those nifty small programs that help me keep my computer safe, and sound. This listing comprises of tools I would suggest to the average user, I personally use a combination more than the following tools:

    • AMPAWSmasherX :Stops antiviruses from using your pen drive as a medium, by blocking that autorun.inf file. You might not find the tool easily available for download, but if you do, its a pretty good one.

    • SpyBot Search & Destroy : This is a one stop protection for all malware. Keep the definitions updated, however, and you will find that infections are pretty easy to deal with.

    • HiJack This : Must use every 2 weeks or so. Shows you anything that has been changed from normal settings on your computer,and allows you to change it to default. Use carefully, as it may cause instability on your system later on, as it is quite a powerful tool, and if you don’t know what to do, generate your report, and post it online in one of the help forums.

    • winpatrol WinPatrol : This is also a must-use program for securing your computer against anything “unwanted” which may include viruses, malware, additional crapware, fake windows services, hidden files, and the like. This is basically a watchdog(Scotty), which keeps a watch on any new startup programs (my favorite), and file extension changes, and new services and the like. If Scotty detects an unwanted change in your system, it barks and reminds you of the change and asks you if you’d like to keep it. It also allows you to add/remove/delay your startup programs list, and is my favourite program of the lot.

  • **Other Tools : **I would just like to recommend some more everyday helpful tools to you, in no particular order. Try them out, you might like them or not, but they are definitely worth checking out : TeraCopy, AveThumbnail Resizer, TuneUpUtilities, VistaGlazz(must use for including transparency in title bar, appwiz.cpl, WinBubbles, Privoxy, TaskBar Shuffle, Paint.NET, DupFiles, WinDirStat, OverDisk (both for checking disk usage), PMenu(especially if you use portable programs in you usb drive, or for assigning Win+ hotkeys to programs, like I use Win+P=paint, N=notepad), Nero Free version among others (Refer below for a complete listing) PowerMenu

  • **Looks : **Looks are necessary part of making your computer shine out in the crowd. And I use the least required programs for that purpose. Using Tune Up’s styler to change my login Screen, and my personal wallpaper collection which I shuffle through using “Vortec Wallpaper changer”, a utility i built. Using Vista Glazz to patch my theme files to support 3rd party themes, I use themes downloaded from “deviantArt”. I also iconized my taskbar, for efficiently managing taskbar, and changed the quick launch icon size to large(looks cool).  QTTab Bar is also a cool addition to Windows installing tabbed browsing in Windows Explorer. The current theme I use is “Cleaero”, and it gives me some cool transparency. I also use PowerMenu(another must use)for adding transparency, or changing priority of any window. I love it when my firefox window is transparent and I’m browsing while watching a video in the background. That is damn-right as cool as it gets without using Windows Blinds. And choosing the coolest gadgets can make all the difference, so see if you can find the right ones!

Complete Listing of Tools

The above was just a partial listing of the programs that I use. I generated a file listing of all the sofwares that I using four different methods. All of these are in text files, that you may use, with one exception. The easiest one is a tree map generated for my Dock Folder(list.dock). I generate a listing of all exe files inside my program files(which may not be complete since many like Chrome are installed in userdata folder). This one is renamed as list.exe.txt. Next I generate a listing of all installed programs using Hijack this!, called list.hijack. Another one was compiled using windirstat (list.windirstat). Using OverDisk I generated a virtual folder view of my Apps directory(this one’s huge at 2.x mb). Then I zipped them up and post them here. Browse through them, you might find a lesser used unknown app here. Especially check out the “tiny” folder. It is literally legendary, with tons of stuff! And one more thing, use OverDisk to open the ovd file.

Download Here – Listings

This list was composed by Capt. Nemo as a recommendation for non-power users of Windows. You are free to check out any of the programs, most of them are freeware, if not open source, and do not pose a harm to your computer. However if anything happens to your computer by these tools I am NOT responsible for the usage of the tool. And I try to use open-source/freeware tools as far as possible. If you use a commercial tool, do remember to pay the author, and stand against piracy. Otherwise use “Free as in Beer” tools like me!