Monday, August 03, 2009

Blog moved to www.virtualthoughts.org

PRANXTER.BLOGSPOT.COM

is now moved to

WWW.VIRTUALTHOUGHTS.ORG

Please check the new site (Click on the above link)!!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Mobile Operator codes in India for SMS

I thought this piece of info would be useful to you all, in-case you have not got hold of these till now:

Service Provider Code Service Area Code
Aircel, Dishnet Wireless D Andhra Pradesh A
Bharti Airtel A Assam S
BSNL B Bihar B
BPL Mobile/Loop Telecom L Delhi D
Datacom Solutions C Gujarat G
HFCL Infotel H Haryana H
Idea Cellular I Himachal Pradesh I
MTNL M Jammu & Kashmir J
Reliance Communications R Karnataka X
Reliance Telecom E Kerala L
S tel S Kolkata K
Shyam Telecom Y Madhya Pradesh Y
Spice Telecom P Maharashtra Z
Swan Telecom W Mumbai M
Tata Teleservices T North East N
Unitech Group U Orissa O
Vodafone Group V Punjab P


Rajasthan R


Tamil Nadu T


UP-East E


UP-West W


West Bengal V

So, combination of these two constitutes the first two digit of "Sender" followed by an hyphen (-) & actual sender name.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Use Now, Dispose Later....Your Email Addresses

Well, use and throw phenomenon seems to have hit web too. Now you can dispose of email addresses that you no longer wish to use…What? Yes, ………………….but why would I want to do that?

Simple, say you are about to buy something on the web or you found some interesting article and for that information to reach you, they normally ask you for the email address. You gave, it was good for sometime but now you are receiving unwanted emails from them, their partners, etc etc as well? The innumerable Unsubscribe requests have not yielded desired results and you are sick of those mails. What would you do?

Here is a pretty nice solution from Yahoo on countering unwanted mails. It’s called Address Guard and it provides Disposable email address.

Here is how it works:

You create a virtual alias to your existing email address. For example, if the parent email id is praxhoo@yahoo.com, you create an alias praxhoo-subsribes@yahoo.com You will continue to receive emails on this new id and it lands in the inbox of parent email account. You can assign color code to these emails and move them to pre-set folders using rules. Now, should you start receiving spam emails on this id and you no longer want mails subscribed to this id, you can just delete it off so that no mail comes to you.

To start using this in Yahoo mail, Go to Options > Mail Options > Spam > Set up Disposable address Disposable Addresses.

Create an alias and start using it for all things going to garbage later :)

Although it has been around from sometime I guess not many of us are aware of this. Similar solutions are being provided by other emails vendors as well but I recently tried one from Yahoo and it works like charm.

Long live the concept of use and throw.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Buying a laptop? Things to look for..

Buying a laptop can be pretty taxing on one's mind and pocket, especially if you are looking for something geeky with a slightly higher end features at a moderate price. I too had my share of adventures. My weeks of research were around HP, ACER, SONY, TOSHIBA, HCL, FUJITSU and DELL and finally concluded with the latter one. I was fortunate enough to work in a R and D company sometime back and this also gave me chance to play around with almost all of the above brands and more importantly shape first hand experience and opinions.

HP was a decent choice but was little pricey for what I wanted, fujitsu and Toshiba were ruled out for lack of adequate presence in India (support and service), HCL and ACER have good configurations at the prices, but little research on the web revealed some continuing issues with HCL support. Sony was way too expensive. DELL was kind of promising because of the options to customize and there was some scope of discount too through DELL EPP scheme (some discounts if you know someone working at Dell). Though I cannot call myself a hardcore Macbook fan, but since the time I had used one at my office I was always craving for it, especially the new Aluminium

Unibody one. In these times of recession, I thought it would not be wiser to invest INR 91K (for 2.4GHz) so decided to go other brands. I had read during my CISSP preparation that processing speed gets doubled every 18 months (its called Moore's law) or so and I wanted a laptop that I could rely for atleast couple of years.

Amongst the above brands, only DELL offered what I was looking for in terms of processor (Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 @2.4 GHz Processor) which no other brand in India is offering at this point and at the price. Also the default, 256MB ATI Radeon 4570 Graphics card has got good reviews. WLED display (better, brighter lighting, improved battery life and lesser weight), 10/100/1000 Mbps Network card for Gigabit networking, 802.11 AGN networking (N stands for the latest Nitro standards with speeds around 160 Mbps )HDMI port, 8-in-1 media card reader, Face recognition software (pretty useful during loging in, I don't have to enter any password as it is linked with my windows account) 9cell battery giving a whopping 6hrs standby time and many more.

I picked up the following laptop configuration on the Dell site and booked it pretty fast using Dell EPP through a friend of mine. I was promised a delivery in 7-೧೦ days but had to wait for 20 days. Here's a peek into it's spec:

  • Dell Studio 1555
  • Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 @2.4 GHz Processor
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM @ 800 Mhz
  • 320 SATA HDD @ 7200 RPM
  • 256MB ATI Radeon 4570 Graphics card
  • 15.6 inch WLED Display
  • Backlit Keyboard
  • 10/100/1000 Mbps Network card
  • 802.11 agn wireless support
  • 8-in-1 media card reader
  • Blue-tooth for over the air transfer
  • HDMI port
  • Slot load Dual layer DVD Writer

Here are some of the cool features that I am enjoying currently with this laptop and you may want to consider, while buying a laptop:
Pros:
  • -P8600 Processor
  • -Backlit keyboard...i can work with lights off without disturbing the family..
  • -eSata USB port that also doubles up as normal USB PORT (Most people seem to have misconception that you cannot use esata port for USB devices...just plug any USB
  • stuff...it works including my portable hdd which requires two USB).
  • -Dell Dock (similar to the widget in Macbook)
  • -LED Battery meter for 9 cell battery is pretty cool (so I can know how much charge is still remaining without having to switch ON the lappy)
  • -Inbult WebCam with Mic (eliminates the need for external mic and headphones)
  • -The two-finger zoom option to increase the page size is just awesome (sometimes can be irritating)...this feature is available only in Macbook!!!
  • -MMC card reader (I could now directly copy pictures and vides from my camera's mmc card!)
  • -Vista DVD, normally not given with other laptops brands, so I don't have to worry about reinstalling OS incase any experiment goes awry.
  • -Noise cancellation ear-buds
  • -I am on the batteries from last 5.30 hours and the battery indicator still shows that 1 hour is still remaining. All this with Wifi and music ON!!!
  • Price - 45K all inclusive/-

Cons:
  • -Trackpad heats up a bit faster than my office Dell Latitude
  • -No Linux choice
  • -Vista taking up 40 Gigs for repair/restore
  • -Lack of LED indicators for WiFi,BT, Caps Lock.
  • No Fingerprint reader

I will update this blog should I find something interesting or annoying with laptop and just fyi, a week after I bought this laptop, they increased its price by INR 1K....what do you call that for timing...

Dell site: www.Dell.co.in

Prasanna

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rite Key, Wrong Bike...Has it happened to you?

This is a hilarious incident that happened couple of years ago in my last company - SMPL. A colleague of mine wanted to do some errands during the office evening and due to the chok-a-block traffic he decided to use my bike as he had a car. I just gave him the key as I had done few times...A couple of hours later he came back,but told me that he was having tough time in locking the bike!!

I was puzzled by him and we both went to the basement to check out. As it was evening, it was a little dark and the place was not well lit. I too had little difficulty in locking and suddenly noticed my bike parked next to it!! It took a while for me to realize what had happened...he had taken a different bike which opened with my bike's key!!! Both the bikes were blue in color the one which was taken for a ride was Pulsar 150 CC, whereas I had Pulsar 180 CC...and the moment we realized this we could not stop laughing for the rest of that evening....My friend had a jolly ride on a bike of another colleague with both them being unaware of it... with my keys! He was even complaining about the supposed bad condition my bike had suddenly gone into as it working fine a few days back.....The owner of that bike never came to know about that, although later I hinted him to check his bike lock, Now don't go in search of that parking lot :) !!

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Monday, February 23, 2009

How I Passed CISSP exam successfully!

Although the idea of taking the CISSP exam had been lurking in my mind from a long time, I could only book the exam on Dec 9th 2008 after a friend of mine did and I also decided to jump the bandwagon....Moral support you know :) The date scheduled was Jan 31st 2009. From the cccure.org forum it looked as if the average time was 3 months+ minimum so the thought of race against time to be prepared was ON right from the moment I had booked exam.

I had chartered a tentative time-table by allocating roughly about 5 days per domain. Although it was difficult to stick to it, it surely helped me in terms of expectations and in the end I was able to work through it almost, per schedule. I relied heavily on Shon Harris AIO 3rd edition (which I had bought in 2007! but kept procrastinating from studying!) and Ronald Kurtz’s CISSP Prep Guide Gold Edition. Once I got to know from the cccure.org forum on the differences between 3rd and 4th edition, I decided to stick to 3rd edition.


However, my advice would be to go with the 4th edition as new topics like SAN, Data on Transit, etc are not covered in 3rd edition and I remember seeing them in the CISSP Candidate Information Bulletin .

I have about 7 years of experience in IT and Security. My current experience in Technology Risk Management and previous stint with a startup company was instrumental in understanding the concepts required for Operations Security, Access Control, Physical Security, Telecom and Network Security with implementation experience.

Very recently in November I had successfully completed ISO 27001 LA course and couple of years back had done a course in Cryptography from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore as part of continuing education program. Last year, I had completed Diploma in Cyber Law from Mumbai University to get some insight into law in technology. So the buildup was there but without CISSP in mind.

I have never studied like this in my whole life including the 10th and 12th standard which most people in India consider as turning points in ones lives and that too with so much intensity was a long task. My wife along with one and half year kid decided to go her Parents place for a month so that I could concentrate properly. So this holiday season was totally bland for me considering I missed the family, Christmas vacation and usual new year parties!

As for studies, I used to study for couple of hours everyday in the night towards the last two weeks, this increased to 8+hours as I had taken leave. I would read complete chapter in AIO and then take the test at the end of chapter from both AIO and Prep Guide, the mock exam for each chapter that came with AIO and the exams here at the cccure.org site. I did find lot of difference in questions of AIO when compared with questions in cccure.org site and that’s because these questions are contributed by folks like us who might have already cleared CISSP and used their real life experience in framing them. Towards the end, I did mock exams for each chapters from cccure.org site and at end I also did a mock 6 hour exam with a OCR answer sheet (of a different exam from google) that I downloaded from the NET and for this I used the 250 questions from the freepractices.org site to prepare mentally for sitting 6hours!

I also used the various members contributed materials like Mike Overly updated material, Hal Tipton pdfs, FAQs, Memoirs etc apart from NIST guidelines. All of these are except NIST guidelines are available at cccure.org website
During Exam:

I had jotted down points from Cccure.org's Clements' introductory video on CISSP exam (I would strongly recommend this to anyone who is interested in taking CISSP exam) and based on the inputs from various members in this cccure.org forum, I decided to take some fruit juice, a self made sandwich :), and water to the exam hall and I somehow sneaked time to have a quick munch apart from three loo breaks. At the exam hall, coffee and tea were made available outside. Although I had taken pencils, sharpener, erasers and a dictionary, I relied on the pencils
provided by ISC2. I wish I had kept one of those pencils as souvenirs!

When I started I wasn't sure about the first 5 questions or so...but then I remembered some suggestion which though sounded weird -it was to start from the last! Once I was sure of the answers, I would transfer them to the answer sheet and the ones I had doubts I would mark them in question paper for later review. I used the full six hours for the exam and wasn't sure that I would make it and the thought of blowing away INR 28K/550USD was buzzing in my mind. Later I started to think about other things that I had missed in these time...from last couple of days I was thinking about that email from the ISC2 and it did arrive on Thursday....I was actually thinking about letting my wife read that email first...but gathered enough courage to see it myself and was glad to see the congratulatory message of passing...atlast the efforts had paid off! Thanks to ALL here in this cccure.org forum, my friends and Family!

Must Have's (recommendations) for CISSP:

-CISSP Candidate Information Bulletin from www.ISC2.org
- Check the materials and forums at www.cccure.org website
-Clement's introductory video on CISSP (I have posted the URL above)
-Shon Harris AIO book(s)
-NIST guidelines
-5+ year experience in any of the 10 Domains of CISSP Common Body of Knowledge. Practical or implementation experience would do a lot good.

Good Luck and May the Force be with you!

Prasanna

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

My 10 years of Cyberspace


Hey Folks, just realised that today marks my 10th year on WorldWideWeb. Here's the first certification that I earned for learning about and logging in to Internet 10 years back :)

Its been an amazing last 10 years on cyberspace and I must tell that I have been addicted to it and can't think of logging out :P