Monthly Archives: September 2012

XBox 360 and Ubuntu

I bought the XBox under the impression that in addition to playing games, it’d fulfill the promise of being my home media center. I’ve been a bit disappointed and perhaps a bit misled. It’s a closed box and so all fiddling is external – which may be a bit of a mercy, frankly.

So, first thing is that mediatomb doesn’t work with XBox natively. I’ve read some stuff about patches, but I decided to look for something that works. miniDLNA is one such program. It’s simple and easy to configure and I’ve gotten it to the point that I can see my server and the movies on it. Now, I’ve run into the format issue and that’s where I’m stuck for now.

How do I address this? I look for one of my formats that works, understand the encoding and then find a transcoder that’ll do the job. For example, I’d ripped a documentary DVD I bought recently into the mp4 format (with the m4v extension). And my phone can play it, XBMC can play it, but lo and behold, XBox 360 flatly refuses. Makes me want to switch to Sony, if they were any better. Annoying eh?

I’ll keep things updated here.

Handbrake on Linux

Just when you think you’re good, something bites you in the ass to let you know that it’s a tad bit early for that claim. I had that happen to me recently when I tried to install Handbrake on linux. It’s rather easy to be honest.

First you have to add the repository (where the code is) to your sources list and then you have to tell the installer to install it.

After squinting at the Ubuntu install page for a bit, I figured out what I was doing wrong in the first part.
I’d been writitng
sudo add-apt-repository
and then
sudo add-apt-repository ppoa:stebbins/
since the syntax says:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:user/ppa-name

Eventually, after staring at the screen for a bit, I noticed that the line
You can update your system with unsupported packages from
this untrusted PPA by adding ppa:stebbins/handbrake-releases
to your system’s Software Sources.

So, yes, I did managed to add the repository and then got stuck when I tried typing
sudo apt-get install handbrake

As you can see below, I finally figured it out, but I thought I’d spare someone the pain…
installation – How do I download and install Handbrake? – Ask Ubuntu

To add one of these to your sources, simply run:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:stebbins/handbrake-releases


sudo add-apt-repository ppa:stebbins/handbrake-snapshots

depending on which you want. To install HandBrake, run:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install handbrake-gtk

Reem’s reflections and memories from June 8, 2012

June 8, 2012, Cairo, Egypt
random posts • They were cowards and I shall remain.

We all take to the streets in protest demanding freedom, dignity, and equality knowing and accepting the risks, including sexual violence. Being blessed with a healthy and rather sheltered upbringing and environment, the knowledge of the risk and acceptance of it does not prepare you for this, nothing does; this assault is by far the worst violation I ever experienced and I know it will take me some time to heal.

It took a mob maybe a hundred-harasser strong or more to physically overcome me, to scare me, to make me scream, it was not a fair fight; my body was violated and defiled – but they only scratched my shell, they did not break my core, I will not be victimized, and I am not broken.

They were cowards, and I shall remain, stronger.

Is it “The Universal Electronic Book Library”?

I came across this awesome site a brief while ago and was impressed by the number of ebooks the site boasts:

Browse – Tuebl

Our database contains 19536 books. This page allows you to browse and snoop this unique collection, and perhaps discover your next favourite book 🙂
If you are looking for something precise, you can also perform a search

I didn’t mean to “stand the cot”

A shrill sound jerked me awake. I raised my head and looked around blearily for the source of the noise. The door bell rang again, causing me to wince from the shrillness of it. I had a headache, and my mouth tasted like a cat had peed in it. This wasn’t a motivating start. As the bell rang again, insistently, I groaned and reached for my shorts and T-shirt and hurriedly pulled them on as I hobbled towards the door. The living room was bright and the light made my eyes squint and tear a bit.

Fumbling with the key, I unlocked the door. “Good morning,” I croaked. It was Mrs. J, my neighbour from downstairs. She smiled and I caught a disapproving gleam in her eye. I sighed inwardly; this couldn’t be good.

“Your apartment looks beautiful,” she said after she stepped in and peered around.
I thanked her for the compliment.
“I hope I’m not disturbing you?”, she said, taking stock of my disheveled looks.
“I’m sorry, I just got up.”
“Oh, then I won’t disturb you. However, I wanted to ask about that cot on your balcony outside. Is it yours?”

We have a traditional village cot which is a bamboo frame about five and half feet by two feet, atop the four legs on the corners. And around the bamboo sides is a widely spaced net made of tightly bound twine. You may find people setting this up on their terraces, or out by the side of the street in poorer neigbhorhoods. I’d seen it at a German friend’s house and that had sparked my idea of getting one for my work room. Now it usually sits by the wall in the living room with a few big cushions on it for comfort.
Indian Cot
“Yes, yes, it’s mine. Nice isn’t it?” I smiled wanly.
“I just wanted to check. You know, in India, it’s inauspicious to stand your cot that way. You should have it lying down or stand it along its breadth,” she frowned lightly as she peered at me.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware of that. We have it standing outside because we’ve just applied a termite pesticide and it stinks, I hope that’s not disturbing you,” I replied, not really catching the gist of what she’d just said.
“I see,” she said and beamed at me, “that’s all good, but it really isn’t an auspicious thing to have it standing that way. I was just walking in the street downstairs when I noticed it and thought I’d mention it.”
“Oh, I’m really sorry if I upset you,” I said apologetically.
“Oh, not at all, but I won’t disturb you further. Good day!” She smiled a final time and headed down the stairs.

A few hours later, feeling somewhat restored – thanks to the ministrations of the wife – I pulled the cot in. I wondered as to why it was inauspicious. I’d hear of the expression, “Teri khaat khadi kar doonga” and it sounded more like a threat. As I was on my way out of the house, I heard Mrs J. on the landing and stopped to say hello and apologise for being so disheveled earlier. I assured her that I’d pulled the cot in but I was curious.
“So, why is having a cot standing that way inauspicious?”
“Well, it’s not a nice thing to stand a cot that way. It’s really something not done.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard the expression ‘khaat khadi karna’, but I’m curious. What does it mean?”
“You see, usually when a person passed away in the earlier days, they made space and put up his cot that way. It is a sign that the owner of the cot is dead. I just wanted to make sure that there was no misunderstanding.”
And the light came on in my head. I thanked her and marveled at these signs that are so embedded and perhaps, even eroded in the Indian and other cultures. My mom used to scold me every time I stood my glass in the plate. That was sign of death too. And I wonder what other symbols I use and how many I must miss unconsciously.

IRC and Firewalls

One sure fire problem as you start deploying a firewall is the challenge of ports. And since IRC is a tool that I do still use, I ran into some annoying firewall issues. And after much searching I came across this excellent document that helps a bit. The other option is to run Wireshark and trace the network traffic. That’s a great idea, but for another time 🙂

Privacy choice – Better Privacy (without flash cookies)

PrivacyChoice Blog | Making privacy easier

Android beats iOS when it comes to privacy disclosure

And when it comes to privacy, this seems like a good blog to follow 🙂 I came accross this site when I looked through the dev page for a Firefox add-on called Better Privacy, which does away with Flash Cookies.