Convergent encryption

encryptionAlso commonly known as content hash keying, this is the process of generating a unique ‘hash key’ entirely dependent upon an encrypted file.

Convergent encryption allows servers to use this hash key to compare files against one another without ever having or needing the ability to know what the file actually is.

The benefit of this is that file content can remain anonymous but still be monitored to prevent storage duplication that would otherwise be wasting storage space.

Cloud file sharing service bitcasa.com is among the first to use this technology, allowing it to provide very generous free storage allowances to it users.

Basically through the content hash key bitcasa is able to compare an uploaded file against all files already in its ‘cloud’. If the file is already present it can discard the duplicate and instead ‘link’ them to the existing version.

Put as simply as possible, this means that if 100 users upload the same file rather than bitcasa storing it 100 times it is only stored just the once (saving 99x the otherwise used storage space) by linking the latter 99 users uploading it to the originally uploaded version.

However despite the obvious advantages there has been some hesitation in persuading other cloud storage user to accept this process as any form of file monitoring/filtering makes them uneasy.

Possible further hesitation may have been created through some concern bring expressed regarding how the hash keying can potentially be reverse engineered to discover an encrypted files content.

Despite these concerns, for everyday users such as myself wishing to simply sync general files such concern is easily outweighed by the benefit of cloud storage providers providing greater storage allowances for free thanks to not housing duplicate copies of files.

China (CN) domain name scams

china-flagAfter a couple of year hiatus, it now appears the Chinese domain name scams are back in full swing.

Over the past few months I have had many enquires regarding emails detailing interest from overseas parties (primarily within China) to register the ‘.cn’ domain equivalent of the companies domain name. (ie, yourdomain.com.au then they have an interested party in yourdomain.cn)

This is a scam, where the email sender uses scare tactics to get companies to register domain names they don’t need. The email itself can include mentions of ‘company trademarks’, ‘brand protection’ or even the possibility that a competitor of yours is the potential party interested.

This is all fuelled by the old saying that “people only want something when someone else also wants it“. So I’m sure on more than many occasions they are successful in getting the email recipient to make an unnecessary purchase  at an inflated price simply out of fear that someone else now wants a similar domain name to their own.

In short there simply is no company interested in acquiring your companies domain branding in China. Due to this, my response is always to simply ignore and delete the emails rather than respond. This is because if you respond to the email, not only will the senders know your email account is active (and possibly target you in the future with different scams) but they will also assume you are now at the very least considering their email to be the truth. This could then lead to them actually registering the domain name them-self and further blackmailing you until an eventual sale takes place.

Overall should you actually require the ‘.cn’ domain name variant of your website, simply register it yourself through a reputable Domain Registration company.

Can’t Upload via FTP After Windows 8.1 Update Fix

After upgrading to Windows 8.1, my FTP program (FlashFXP) no longer would let me upload. Upon trying to, it would basically just hang, freeze, or timeout.

After looking around for a solution I found that the issue was not my FTP software but instead due to something in the Windows 8.1 update itself.

At the time of writing this there is yet to be a Windows Fix, but I have managed to workaround the problem by just changing the data connection mode from ‘passive’ to ‘active’.

Depending upon what FTP software you are using will depend upon where you will find these settings, but for FlashFXP here is how to do it;

1. Click ‘Options’ -> ‘Preferences’

2. Click ‘FTP’ under the ‘connection’ header

3. Using the dropdown menu in ‘Data Connection Mode’, select ‘Active Mode

4. Click ‘Apply’

5. Click ‘ok

This fix may not work for everyone but it did work for me. Let’s hope Microsoft help everyone out very soon and restore whatever was changed in the 8.1 upgrade.

How to Read CBR Comic’s On An iPad

comicflowWhat is a CBR file and how to open one?:

A CBR file is actually a CDisplay RAR Archived Comic Book file. To the more computer literate users reading this it is very similar to a ZIP or RAR file. If you don’t have access to a CBR reader but want to view the files contents, simply rename the file from ‘example.cbr’ to ‘example.zip’ and it will then open in WinZip, WinRar or you’re compression software of choice.

CBR iPad ReaderComicFlow

Having already over the past year replaced most of my existing book library with digital variants on my iPad to cut back on storage requirements, I have only recently started to appreciate its use for reading comics on it also.

As everyone who has comics knows that having countless comics around the place both takes up a lot of space and either starts to look untidy or can lead to them living in a box forever because the task of getting them back out is to tiresome. For this reason after recently reading about the CBR file format, I thought I would give it a week try.

I started with getting a CBR file (Google the comic you’re after followed by ‘.cbr’ and you should find something to test with), then I had to find a CBR Reader for the iPad. I found several but decided to go with Comic Flow mainly because it was free and I didn’t even know if I would still be using after my trial week.

After installing the app, I found it a little confusing at first but after a few days I absolutely love it. To save everyone else the efforts of figuring out how to use the app I thought I would create a how to for any less technical savvy comic lovers out there.

How to transfer a CBR/CBZ/PDF to ComicFlow:

Option 1: (wired transfers)

  1. Open your iPad within iTunes.
  2. In the ‘Devices’ section in the left hand panel click on your iPads name.
  3. Click the ‘Apps’ tab along the top line.
  4. Scroll about half way down the page until you see the ‘File Sharing Section’ where you should see ‘ComicFlow’
  5. Click it and just to the right of it will now display all the issues you currently have in ComicFlow.
  6. Click the ‘add file’ button, locate the file and click ok.
  7. Now on the iPad open up ‘ComicFlow’ and click the little sprocket icon in the top right corner and click update library.
  8. Your library will now check for the changes made and display your added issues.

Option 2: (wireless transfers)
This was is quite a bit more difficult as there are little to no instructions. However perfecting this will save you a bunch of time and also allows additional (much needed) features like sorting/filing your comics into categories.

  1. To begin you will need to program that supports WebDAV connections, there are a bunch out there but I recommend ‘Cyberduck’ as it’s free and simple to use.
  2. With iPad in hand (and with Wifi ON), open ComicFlow, click the sprocket and turn ‘WebDav’ server to ‘ON’.
  3. You should now see server login details including the server address, username and password. (NOTE: this password changes every time you turn the server on/off )
  4. Open ‘Cyberduck’ (or your WebDav program of choice), click ‘Open Connection’.
  5. Enter the details found in ComicFlow and hit click connect.
  6. After the connection has been established you will see all your existing comics.
  7. To add more, simply drag your comic file(s) into the window which will then show the transfer process window.
  8. That’s it, although as in the wired version you will now need to open up ‘ComicFlow’ and click the little sprocket icon in the top right corner and click update library.

How to sort in series/rename comics in Comicflow

If you are like me and hate things being unorganised you will want to file issues into their relevant series/categories. However unfortunately you can only do this using the wireless option above (Option 2).

To sort comics in series/categories;

  1. Open Cyberduck.
  2. Connect to ComicFlow on the iPad.
  3. Right click in explorer window and select ‘add folder’
  4. Name the new folder what you like.
  5. Click and drag any existing uploaded issues into the relevant folder.

To rename comics;

  1.  Open Cyberduck.
  2. Connect to ComicFlow on the iPad.
  3. Right click on an already uploaded issue.
  4. Click ‘info’ and a new window will appear allowing you to rename among other things.

Overall, although reading comic’s on the iPad is great and a lot more convenient as well as hugely space saving, as a lover of silver age comics it won’t replace me collecting desired issues. However having them on the iPad does now allow me to actually read them anywhere/anytime I want without fear of ‘damaging’/’devaluing’ them!

Do I need the ‘.com’ if I have the ‘.com.au’?

This is a question I am often asked by customers when both variants of their domain name are either available or coming up for renewal.

Firstly it’s important to point out the major difference between the domain extensions in regards to registration criteria.

The ‘.com.au’ domain extension is exclusively for Australian Businesses as all domain name registrations require a valid Australian Business Number (ABN) that bares at least some connection/relation to the requested domain name in order to meet eligibility requirements. The intention of the eligibility requirements are so the domain names are protected against misuse as well as in the hope that those with a connection to a domain can bring the most value to its usage.

However the ‘.com’ is very different as it is a global domain extension meaning that it is open to anyone in the world to register without any eligibility requirements in place. This means that unlike the .com.au environment, in ‘.com’ you’re competing with many more companies and users which is the reason why 9 out of 10 times you will find that your desired or existing domain name in ‘.com’ is registered by someone else who may or more often than not be using it for any purpose other than trying to sell it. (see Cybersquatting)

A quick look at how many domain names are currently registered in both extensions really shows just how competitive the global market place is when compared to the Australian one; (as at June 2012)

To bring this back to the question at hand, Do I need the ‘.com’? If you are asking this question you must be one of a small number of companies who either already has both domains or perhaps at present has the opportunity to protect your brand by registering both domains for only the standard registration or renewal costs in which case the definitive answer is 100% YES YOU DO for a number of reasons.

Something that can cost you as little as $24.95 per year, if passed up could come back to bite you months or even years later ten fold with someone else in the world either jumping at the opportunity to Cybersquat on the domain and hold it at ransom should you even want it back, or even worse if a competitor was to register it and simply forward all visitors to the domain to their site instead of yours.

Just imagine, in your company advertisements or promotion a customer like what they see/hear and in seeking further information goes online, types in your domain name however leaving off the ‘.au’ from the domain and ends up reading about or contacting your competitor who offers the same or a similar service without any awareness that they are not dealing with the company they original were attracted/intending to.

Even worse could be if that same competitor simply sets up a ‘catch all’ email address on the domain now meaning that ANYONE who emails you but again forgetting to add the ‘.au’ to the end of your email address now has their email delivered to your competitors inbox instead of yours which they could then potential act on any sales leads stealing them away from you without the customer any bit aware.

Overall although it’s really a question on you as a business owner can answer, I will say that if you believe either someone else registering and misusing the domain will can cause any harm or loss to your business, for only $24.95 a year, the question you should be asking yourself is “is it really worth the risk not to register it?”.

Google Chrome Black Bar Bug

If you’re a Google Chrome user who has version 11+ you have probably experienced an annoying black bar appear at the bottom of your browser window around the same height as the downloads bar.

It has been reported to Google as a bug and there is much online discussion about it with people after a solution.

How can I get rid of it?

Unfortunately at the time of writing this there isn’t a solution from Google, however simply clicking the ‘minimize’ or ‘restore down’ options next to the ‘X’ in the top right corner will remove the bar.

Alternatively in the effected tab if you visit Google it also manages to disappear.

Lets hope they patch this issue in the next release.