Category Archives: Software

3 Great Services to Help You Test Your SMTP Server

When you are crafting an application which is supposed to send emails to customers, it is a good idea to test its email delivery functionality. Making sure that you are not sending messages to real email addresses is a bit cumbersome. But there is a great solution to this issue – fake SMTP servers. We’ve taken a look at three of them, and here’s what we’ve found:

DevNull SMTP

DevNull SMTP is a Java-based fake SMTP server. It helps you view the client-server communication and troubleshoot effectively if there is anything wrong with your application. These dummy emails don’t actually go anywhere, they are sent to the DevNull SMTP server, where you can view them, and then they get deleted. DevNull SMTP can run from your browser. Alternatively, you can download the application and run it using the command line.

MailCatcher

MailCatcher works in a similar way. It catches all the emails sent to its server and displays them in a web interface. The setup procedure is pretty straightforward – download the program, set it according to the instructions given at the service’s website, run MailCatcher and set its SMTP instead of the default SMTP server of your app. MailCatcher shows your messages as HTML, Plain Text and Source versions. You can also download the original message to view in your email client. MailCatcher is written very simply, so if there is something you’d like to change, you can easily dive in and do it. There are a number of other great features that make MailCatcher a great tool for your email testing purposes.

Mailtrap email server test

Mailtrap is a fantastic service. What really sets this tool apart from the competition is that email testing isn’t the only thing it can be used for. With Mailtrap you can see how your email will be displayed in all major web email clients, test it for spam and blacklist to make sure it lands in your clients’ inboxes, organize your test emails as you like or forward them to regular inboxes.

The setup process is incredibly fast and easy. You simply set Mailtrap as your app’s SMTP server, and that’s it. You can also use one of the following popular framework configs: Symfony, Django, Ruby on Rails, JBoss, Zend Framework, etc.

Mailtrap is available for free, but only if one inbox is enough for your email testing goals. More inboxes and some other features come with two paid subscription plans. The other two services we’ve talked about here are open-source, and therefore completely free to download and use, but they don’t have all the cool features that Mailtrap has to offer. However, if you run an open source or a non-profit project, you’ll be happy to know that one of Mailtrap’s subscription plans is also available for you free of charge.

United Airlines Rolls Out Bug Bounty Program

United Airlines

Earlier in the year, 10k frequent flier accounts were hacked, United is trying to make up for this by leveraging the expertise of the broader community of software engineers. To be clear, this program is not related to any of the third party customer facing web properties or apps.

From Info-Security Magazine:

In the wake of a high-profile frequent flier account hack, United Airlines has rolled out a bug bounty program, promising airline miles for vulnerabilities. A lot of miles too: up to 1 million for a remote code execution flaw.

United said that it’s looking for issues that affect the confidentiality, integrity and/or availability of customer or company information. The eligible list includes: Authentication bypass; bugs on customer-facing websites, the United app or third-party programs loaded by united.com or its other online properties; cross-site request forgery (CSRF) and cross-site scripting (XSS); potential for information disclosure; remote code execution; timing attacks that prove the existence of a private repository, user or reservation; and the ability to brute-force reservations, MileagePlus numbers, PINs or passwords.

 

New Machine Learning Course on Coursera

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Coursera has just opened a new version  of the course “Machine Learning” in the on demand format.

Machine learning is the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed. In the past decade, machine learning has given us self-driving cars, practical speech recognition, effective web search, and a vastly improved understanding of the human genome. Machine learning is so pervasive today that you probably use it dozens of times a day without knowing it. Many researchers also think it is the best way to make progress towards human-level AI. In this class, you will learn about the most effective machine learning techniques, and gain practice implementing them and getting them to work for yourself.

The on demand format allows you to work through the materials at your own pace. All materials are available at any time, and there are no deadlines for exercises or assignments.

Skype as “Universal Translator”

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Microsoft has released its first preview of Skype Translator, which allows real-time conversations between spoken English and Spanish and will be extended to more languages. The program will learn by recording conversations in order to analyze scripts and train the system to better learn each language.

The preview program kicks-off with two spoken languages, Spanish and English, and 40+ instant messaging languages will be available to Skype customers who have signed-up via the Skype Translator sign-up page and are using Windows 8.1 on the desktop or device.

Read details on this “universal translator” at the Skype blog announcement.

Apps that help you pass the time

Apps that help you pass the time 

There is always the possibility to be caught passing the time just because the bus or the train has not yet arrived or lining up to get a ticket or an entry to a certain place. At this point of time, boredom can easily set in and it is the most awful state to be in. However, with the explosion of the internet and mobile technology, and also by simply downloading apps, passing the time has never been that awesome and cool.

Games Apps

Adults and the young will surely keep awake and alive by playing mobile games. Angry Birds is a game app that keeps the young and the old with wide-open eyes while figuring it out how to destroy Pig’s brick and ice fortress. It is a popular game that can be easily downloaded on iPhones, Ipad and androids tablets. The Plant and the Zombies is another engaging mobile game that will surely bash boredom. If you have skills in playing poker or blackjacks, the best way to pass the time is play mobile casino. You kick out the boredom and at the same time, you can earn extra money that you can use to level up your gadget.

Entertainment Apps

Love to read? Take your mid-range tablet or your Kindle and read you favorite authors. You can even reread some of the classic novels and recall passages that have been part of your life. You can download and read free online magazine like the Cosmo, Vogue and the iconic Reader’s Digest. If you want to be entertained and laugh out your boredom away, get Youtube app and watch funny and crazy videos. The best way to have fun is to have some good laughs. Google reader is a hybrid reader and audio and you can follow your favorite blogs or stream music.

Music

Tuneln Radio is unlike Pandora as it only streams popular radio channels. It lets you tune in most locals and abroad radio channels. Spotify on the other hand will allow you to listen to your music even without an internet connection. To avail this feature you must have Spotify Premium account. The app is free but there is a monthly subscription fee.

Passing the time is a moment when you are in a slow pace and looks like there‘s no need to hurry up. It’s a state when you can easily have moments of pleasures all for yourself.

 

The Most Common Smartphone Passcodes

 

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Daniel Amitay collected passcodes from thousands of iPhones and provides some analysis of the passcodes people are using on the smartphone. This is really interesting stuff.

The Top 10 iPhone passcodes were: 1234, 0000, 2580, 1111, 5555, 5683, 0852, 2222, 1212, 1998

Is yours listed?  🙂

A couple of things to note here, I think his sample size is probably large enough that the data is probably roughly applicable to Android and WP7 as well, not just limited to the behaviors of iPhone users themselves.

If you want just the analysis, head to the link above. If you want the backstory around how he collected this information, it starts with the Big Brother Camera app for the iPhone which reached #18 most popular iPhone application. Then leads to analysis of passcodes his app was sending back (not the screen unlock codes!), and eventually the back and forth with Apple as they removed his app.

Sergey Brin Blows Smoke Up Your A**

Google Book

“Big Money” analyzes Sergey Brin’s NYTimes op-ed piece proclaiming Google has your best interest at heart in the Google Book Search project:

At least it’s an exotic experience. How many times have you had a man worth billions work so hard to whip out his Google, leak on your leg, and swear to God it’s raining? Today, Sergey Brin does his best to sell you the snake-oil that his Google Book Search project is an undiluted good for the world, all those annoying monopoly worries aside.

Or, if you’re a believer, you can read the op-ed piece by Brin and just for yourself.

Trekkers Rejoice! Star Trek MMO First Look

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I can’t tell you just how long I’ve been waiting for this bad boy to be released!  I’d heard rumors of it as far back as two years ago, when NCSoft was shutting down some of its earlier developed games, and announced upcoming developments.  If you remember, Andy and I were down in Vegas last summer, and had an opportunity to check out some of the literature for the game there, and there was even a presentation of the MMO by none other than Leonard Nimoy himself.  Early videos promised some beautiful, yet functional space battles, unique character customizations, and many innovative worlds to explore.  One of the online consultants from MMORPG.com has had an opportunity to play the game, and give a semi-detailed analysis of its play HERE.

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I’m chomping at the bit to play this game – and I’m hoping that it’s released soon.  With the new Star Trek movie just around the corner, it would be a smart move to ride the popularity coattails to help promote the game.  Especially since this early look suggests that there are tie-ins between the MMO and movie 🙂

Titan Backup With A Bang!

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Hey folks!  Our good friend, Flavius Saracut over at Neobyte Solutions (creators of Titan Backup)got a hold of me the other day to tell me about a fantastic weekly giveaway they’re sponsoring right now.  Every week, one lucky person will walk away with a 500gb LaCie external hard disk.  How awesome is that?  I think everyone could use an extra 500gb of storage, myself included :)  All you have to do is head on over to their website, and click on the banner across the top of the page.  Good luck!

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Click HERE to go check out the review on Titan Backup!

Dear Obama: Please consider open-source a waste of your time

Linux

The Register has an opinion piece counter argument to the recent open source request to President Obama by OSS advocates.

From the article:

Last week, several big names in open source tossed a letter at American President Barack Obama, urging him to mandate that no government IT purchase be made without someone scrutinizing the software license. "Dear President Obama," it read, "please consider open source."

The letter contained all the classic elements of an open source group hug: freedom, interoperability, community, and transparency. This letter was signed by higher-ups at companies we know and love, like Red Hat, Novell, Unisys, and a handful of other smaller players who want to suckle from the teat of a federal contract.

Chrome Stealing Ground from IE?

googlechromelogoI came across an interesting article from Ars Technica today. I thought a bunch of my fellow geeks would be interested in the read.

Microsoft is apparently suffering from the effects of Chrome’s success. Not that I’m excited about all that too much; I’m not a huge fan of Chrome and I’ve found IE to be a nice solid browser.

With out further adieu…

Chrome, apparently, will not remain in an indefinite period of beta testing for the rest of its life. Speaking to The Times, Sundar Pichai, Google vice president, stated that the browser will exit beta in January. Google, meanwhile, is exploring its distribution options and examining the various ways it might improve its market share. “We will probably do distribution deals,” Pinchai told The Times. “We could work with an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and have them ship computers with Chrome preinstalled.”

So there you have it… Microsoft is going to be under the gun when the OEM deals start rolling. Could it be that someone is challenging Microsoft on their level for the first time in a decade?

To read the rest of the article, visit Ars Technica.