Beaming Out of Yahoo

After 7+ years, I am leaving Yahoo. Going to join “the flock” at Twitter.

This is big and then, not so big for me. My role and responsibility remains somewhat unchanged as I go from Yahoo to Twitter, but I’m moving to San Francisco (the movers finished that yesterday). So, living in the city will be new. I’ve not taken very kindly to the traffic there so far, but this will change I’m sure.

Yahoo is an amazing place to work for. I’ve repeated this, that I’m not that good at transactions. When it is not time to buy a house, I go and buy one. This, was probably not the best time to leave Yahoo. The share price is kicking and the products coming out are simply amazing. I can’t say here, but there are some amazing surprises on the way for people using Yahoo products. I don’t say this because I work(ed) there, I really mean it. If you want to join Yahoo, this is the time – and it is not going to be easy. It is well worth it.

Then why did I decide to move? I was getting very comfortable. Things were  smooth, stuff was getting done and all the wheel-work needed was just some oiling here and there. I felt that this was the best time for me to get out of the groove as well as the team and people I would transition things out to/for wouldn’t be as affected. Taking a lot of time and careful thinking for the transitioning, I am happy that it has been very successful. Much better than leaving a ship that’s about to sink.

People in my team have extended amazing support for this decision. I am very moved by their kind words and actions during the last few days. This has been a big surprise, since a big part of me always felt that I was not doing enough for them. I want to call out (and in no particular order): Alex, Deepthi, Hitesh, Sudip, Ram, Mike, Muthu, Tom, Jason, Sachin and Srinivas for everything they’ve said and done. Thank you folks, you all are simply awesome. Selling Yahoo is extremely convincing when I give examples from interactions with people like you.

Twitter is an equally amazing place to go to. Seeing the amazing energy in the Twitter office, I’ve been very excited about what they’re doing and about to do. I am yet to find out more, but from what little I’ve seen, the people there are super nice (just like Y) and the culture is alive and kicking. Their technology platform stack is either mostly open or about to open up, something that excites me even further.

All said and done, it is no lie that if you cut me, you shall see that I bleed purple.

Hacking fryol.net

So I see that there’s some bots coming in to ssh into fryol.net. I can’t stop those guys. As long as there are doors with locks, there will be attempts to break in. Even though this site has everything turned inside out, bots don’t care, they’ll try to get in anyway.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to warn folks out there that you shouldn’t keep your usernames (on your ssh port) that are a part of the list in this text file: https://fryol.net/r/?attachment_id=1264. Actually, there are a lot of ways to make sure that your ssh port is well protected, and disabling all users but the one that you would actually only use (AllowUsers setting in /etc/ssh/sshd_config) is a great way to do this. Also, please disable password authentication. Use keys only. If you dunno what I’m talking about, it might just be a good idea to not run sshd at all. Heh.

Some very interesting names in there. Who the hell is praktikant that made it into that list? Lucky bastard.

Lenovo S400 IdeaPad – Upgrading RAM & Wireless Card + Installing Ubuntu

I bought a Lenovo S400 IdeaPad back in December last year, and well, it wasn’t such a great decision. To begin with, the pros of this laptop distract you so much that it is hard to get away from the idea of owning it. It’s very:

  • lightweight and sleek

That’s about the entire list of its pros. Can’t think of anything better.

So I decided to get rid of the cons. Here they are:

  • 4GB RAM – not enough sometimes
  • wireless card – very slow
  • no linux

Things that I haven’t been able to fix, but are annoyances nevertheless, are:

  • glossy screen – somehow I like a matte screen much better
  • weird touchpad – almost all these “Pads” in the market have this “no button” touchpad now which is hard to get used to

Requirements and Purchases

Things that you will need to upgrade your RAM and Wireless Card:

Now the last thing on that list was the most time consuming of all. In a nutshell, Lenovo has locked down supported wireless cards to only the ones that they would like. So, you have to take a backup of your BIOS, give it to an expert and then download it back with a flash utility and flash your BIOS to whitelist every card. If you don’t do this, after you have changed your Wireless card, you will get a “Unauthorized wireless card; power off and remove it” message from your BIOS.

You may ask, why do you have to backup “your” BIOS and get it altered, isn’t there already a copy on the Internet that you could “just” use. Yes, there are copies but they have customizations that will not go well with your laptop. Hence, you want to keep things simple – flashing a BIOS with someone else’s copy is not to be taken lightly (it may brick your laptop).

 So that I don’t have to keep replacing my Wireless card until I got my BIOS flashed, I also bought a:

..that I used until the wireless card started working. All this time I had to keep my Wireless card disabled in BIOS, so that I don’t get the “Unauthorized..” message.

 

Getting BIOS modified to whitelist Network cards

Now, to get into the BIOS, you have to use the “Fn+F2” key (or just F2 if hotkeys are disabled) on the “Lenovo” screen.

If you are only looking to add RAM to your laptop, you can skip this section.

To get a copy of your BIOS which has wireless cards whitelisted, you will have to use Windows and follow these steps (CAUTION: use the following at your “own” risk, I take no responsibility if you brick your laptop):

    1. go into your BIOS (Fn+F2 key or just F2 key if your hotkey (Fn) is disabled) and note your BIOS version and other details and post it on the forum (in the next step) along with the backup of your BIOS (see third step)
    2. post it on this forum http://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/5866-LENOVO-(IBM)-Bioses-especially-Thinkpad
    3. post your current BIOS on the forum above by first backing it up using this utility: https://fryol.net/r/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/backup_bios.zip
      1. to use this utility, copy the files into C:\ so that C: has _BACK directory in it and then open a command prompt “Run as Administrator”
      2. go to C: (just type C: and press enter) and then cd C:\_BACK
      3. run backup.bat (just type backup.bat and press enter)
      4. you will get a .bin file in that directory, zip it up and upload it using http://sendspace.com and give the folks in forum a link to it along with other details from your BIOS – also, make sure that you tell them that you need wireless whitelisting plus give them a hint to use the “prr” tool for this
    4. if the forum guys tell you to flash from a pure DOS environment, try the following steps, if not, then you just run that utility from Windows and things should go well. For me, Lenovo had locked the BIOS by disabling flashing and I had to flash it from pure DOS environment.
    5. once you get a link back with the whitelisted BIOS, create a DOS bootable USB drive using this link
    6. you have to now flash your BIOS from a “pure DOS” environment, hence you have to create this disk, copy stuff from the archive you got from the forum, reboot into DOS and then run “flash.bat”
    7. just copy the files from the archive you got the link back as (don’t copy extra drivers utilities as some sites suggests – you will need as much memory as possible and copying CD drivers etc. blocks up all that space and you will get failures)
    8. to boot from the USB disk, make sure you have enabled “legacy” boot in BIOS and have selected USB as the first boot device. If you don’t see boot device order, restart your computer again to see it (InsydeH2O supposedly has a bug)
    9. once you boot up into DOS, all you have to do is run flash.bat (or whatever the forum post instructed you to run) and you should see a rewriting of BIOS

Above was all of the software part to get your Wireless card done. What follows is how to disassemble the laptop and get the Wireless card and RAM installed physically.

Physical Changes (Installing the Wireless Card/RAM)

To upgrade the RAM and Wireless card, you have to open up the laptop. It’s pretty simple though, and here are some photographs of how I did it.

      • Get rid of the battery first:
      • Start by unscrewing the left-most screw below where the battery was:
      • The second screw in the middle:
      • And then the right-most one:
      • The uncover more screws beneath those soft pads (notice the direction in which they open) – you would need a tiny flat screwdriver to pop them open:
      • The one on the right to battery opens towards right:
      • The one on the left of the battery, open towards the left:
      • The front ones both open towards the back (or towards the battery):
      • Make sure ethernet cable is detached (if you have one connected) and then slowly work your way to open this thing up. Don’t exert too much force, but keep applying tact to open it. ;)
      • Now in this photo here, you can see that the RAM is on the lower right hand side. The RAM comes off very easily if you use a flat screwdriver to unlock the holding gate (a shiny one). I forgot to take more photos of that, but you can very easily find something elsewhere on the internets (you don’t have to though, it’s easy to figure).
      • Now the wireless card is beneath a black bus wire that needs to be disconnected by opening up another locking gate (black and plastic in nature) towards you.  Please be very careful.
      • Again, use a flat small screwdriver for this and very gently latch open this thing. Notice how the gate is now facing upwards (v/s it was latched down in the previous photo). It’s hinged to the white bank.
      • Once the gate is open, you can hold the bus and drag it out. Gently, very gently. :) See the next photo.
      • As I hold up the bus wire, you can see the wireless card that is connected by two cables – one black and one white (these are supposedly the “antennae” wire) and it’s again “banked” into a black socket.
      • Unscrew the only screw that’s holding this thing in place:
      • After you’ve unscrewed it, it’s very easy to slide this thing out from the black bank (it kind of pops up a little bit already), gently pull it out:
      • Notice how I disconnect the wires, you don’t need any tools to do so, just gently twist and pull them out. They will come off with just the right amount of pull. The following photo shows the “black” one out already (also notice that the black one goes on the left, the white one on right – although it shouldn’t matter a lot).
      • Now, I keep the old one down and take the new one up (notice that my new card has “three” sockets v/s only “two” on the old one). The new one has an extra socket but you can use the ones on the sides only and you’re good.
      • The black one is now being connected to the left most socket, the white one on to the right most socket.
      • There, it’s all connected (gentle pressure puts them in).
      • Slide the card back into the bank.
      • Push the bus wire back in from the top and latch the black gate in.
      • Covering the laptop up is just as easy you pulled it apart, just drive the screws back in after you’ve latched the cover on.

Installing Ubuntu

My objective of having Ubuntu installed was to make sure that I can dual boot into Windows and Ubutu from the GRUB menu with UEFI enabled. A rough outline to keep things in mind follows

    • Download 64bit Ubuntu from ubuntu.com when you want to burn the image to CD
    • Make sure you disable “Secure Boot” in BIOS under the Boot Options menu (use F2 or Fn+F2 key to get into BIOS)
    • To boot from the CD you will have to enable “Legacy Mode” instead of UEFI Mode – also, reboot and go into BIOS again to select Notebook Bay etc. in boot priority above the hard drive
    • Once you get into Ubuntu installation, make sure that you give Ubuntu it’s own /boot and select “Grub” as boot method
    • Ubuntu will load up GRUB but you will not be able to load up Windows since UEFI has been disabled in BIOS, hence go back into BIOS and enable UEFI boot mode
    • Now get into Windows (and you wouldn’t see Ubuntu boot options by the way) and install something called “EasyBCD” which lets you install an EFI image for Ubuntu (it can auto-detect and do so) – there is documentation online if you search about how to use EasyBCD to enable Ubuntu dual booting with Windows
    • You will have to go back into Ubuntu and modify /boot/grub/menu.lst to fix the Windows UEFI boot image there in case it’s not working

Bruce’s Cheap Working Cars – F&M

I wanted a cheap car that could roll me to places nearby,. Non-fancy and no frills.

Bruce helped me out find one. The best part was (and this is after I read an earlier review), he hands over the keys to me so that I can take it to a mechanic and checked up. I got two cars checked; for the first one. Bruce said “If you’re going to take it to a mechanic, you’ll not buy it.” – and he was right. The forthcoming honesty was what struck me.

The second car needed some repairs per the mechanic, but was driveable. Took it back to Bruce and struck a deal. It’s been about two months now, and things are looking good. I’d recommend Bruce & Bruce. :)

Things Remembered

I had a pretty bad experience with an order I made at the store located in Westfield Valley Fair Mall, Santa Clara, CA.

First, the order was incomplete on the day we tried getting it + it was broken. So we could never get it the same day. I had to finally call off the whole event.

Second, when I went there later, the store keepers just kept telling me to come back on Monday because they didn’t have the form and receipt for the order. So they would not refund the amount of something they never delivered and can’t make a new one without making me pay.

I have never had such a headache with pricey things. I’m paying $$$ to get a service which isn’t reliable, and then the store keeper rolls their eyes at you and says, “Guys, you are not going to get this.” Excellent.

Finally, I make them call up their managers – talk to two different people, they agreed on re-making the order, broke it again and ultimately refunded me the whole amount. I wasted close to 5 hours doing this whole thing.

Never go to this store (or even this chain).

Sunnyvale Ford

I was new to the country back in summer of 2010 (and I do see a couple of reviews very similar to mine from back then). I wanted to lease a Ford Fusion somewhere else, but before I really did, I wanted to test drive it. I call up the nearest Ford dealership – Sunnyvale Ford, and they call me in.

I get a greeting from a “new guy” there and then they start showing around. I tell them what I’m looking for specifically and they take us on a test drive. Driving on I-280, I could feel the bumps being hit, but I was told it “was normal”.

Back in the showroom, they start to “sell”. I told them that I’m getting this car leased. When I tell them the numbers, they almost call me a “liar”. An unimaginable amount of pressure was being put on me by “a very tall guy” there (I really don’t remember names). “Help me out here,” says he. Running back and forth between a high-rise room, I’m being super pressured into buying. They brought their numbers to a low of what I could have afforded (another mistake I made). They hit a ‘gong’ and say congratulations even before I’ve said yes. The worst was yet to come.

They call in an insurance agent, who hurriedly does it for me. Their finance guy then starts putting more numbers into my bill. 2500 for an extra warranty + 2500 for ford care. When I say no, he says my financing rate will go up – since I’m new to the country without credit history. I was extremely naive to keep on falling into those traps – it was my fault too (..and I paid for it).

That night, I was unable to sleep. Somebody just slapped a $30,000 liability on me and I’ve no way of getting out. The next morning, I woke up early and went back to the dealership and told them how unhappy I was. Pressure tactics again – this time I was going to fight back. I said I’ll get my financing elsewhere, just cut the whole $5000 from my bill. Panic gripped them and they told me to wait. Magically, a person without any credit history in this country, was offered a low rate of 3.9% – the only condition was to buy the extra warranty+care. I was very very upset and completely lost it. I urged them to drop the warranty and bought only the Ford care plan (still an extra $2500 on my car).

I have always been thinking of writing to Ford or someone about this, but have never been able to. I signed up on Yelp to review another business – but this frankly is my worst experience ever – and I learned some very hard lessons. The only thing that has kept me happy so far is Fusion itself. It’s not such a bad car after all (despite people jesting me, this car is very comfortable has been great so far). Service (although it’s covered in Ford care) at Sunnyvale Ford has been “ok” – nothing that I would cherish.

Folks at Sunnyvale Ford sure know how to get you – and if you have never bought a car, please don’t go there.

DC Ducks

This is the best thing ever. If you go to DC, you’ve got to do this tour. The best reason to be on this tour is because you get to ride in an awesome vehicle and get to see things close up (without having to walk!).

Our Captain was very friendly and incredibly knowledgeable. I did a few fact checks on a few things he answered to folks – and they very pretty accurate.

This is some real fun – try not to miss it.

Me Cook Food

When hunger strikes, you have to finally get cooking. For the first time ever, I served food out for myself like a civilized being (instead of devouring from the pots and pans).

On the table

  • Arhar Dal (Lentil)
  • Matar Pulao (Basmati Rice with Peas)
  • Aloo Pyaz ki Sabzi (Potatoes and Onions)
  • Sliced Tomato Salad

Took about 35 minutes to do this.

Bin Laden In India – (Response to Pakistan Daily)

Ok, so here’s another ham for all of us to feed on. Is Bin Laden in India? Like everything else that’s published against India on Pakistan Daily (like how India should be broken into 10 countries and how all our policies are driven by them etc.), this was another piece of speculation. I was very afraid that this classic piece of ham-work will be lost, so I took a lot of pain to sew together all the pages of this article and keep it here on this site for everyone to read, just in case Pak Daily decides to get rid of the article (if just not it’s author). Unlike most Indian newspapers (and Pakistani ones), Pakistan Daily doesn’t disclose the name of it’s journalists for the articles. Is that a convenience call to make sure that back-stabbing is still possible? For the record, as of this writing, bin Laden is very much dead and was found in Pakistan.

The class act begins when they start saying stuff like, and I quote:

The only country in the region whose name never appears in the list of countries that tried to contact al-Qaeda is India. But that is not because India did not try to establish such contact.

Oh hell yes. Indians really need to be contacting al-Qaeda all the time. How else will a country of 1 billion folks kill time? Then there’s news about India harboring terrorists (bombing Pakistan) from Afghanistan. Only fools blame the sky for their destiny. Pak Daily has one such fool (or may be more). Let’s not call them fools, let’s get entertained. Go ahead and find out, is Bin Laden in India?

Update: In an interesting satirical article elsewhere: what would have happened if India killed bin Laden.