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December 2014

Solve Math Problems on Android by taking a photo

Math, hate it or love it, there does not seem to be any middle ground. If your line of work requires math, or if you are in school or college, then you may find the math helper application AutoMath Photo Calculator quite useful.

If things go right, all you need to do to solve math problems is to take a photo of the equation. The app does all the heavy lifting and presents the correct answer to you.

AutoMath supports a variety of math questions or problems including algebra, fractions, polynomials and division.

Surprise: shut down of Pirate Bay had different outcome than expected

If you have been following the news lately you know that the torrent indexing website The Pirate Bay has been shut down after the data center servers of the site were hosted in was raided by Swedish police.

One could see this as a success for organizations such as the MPAA or RIAA as a notorious site has been removed from the Internet.

The outcome however it turns out is quite different than expected.

Tribler: Bittorrent client with integrated Tor-like anonymity

Update: Tribler security not as good as claimed. Read this for a first basic analysis.

Bittorrent has not one but two Achilles' heels: torrent indexing services and a lack of anonymity. While it is possible to overcome the latter through the use of virtual private networks or proxies, there is no viable alternative available yet for indexing services.

Dev version of popular blocker extension µBlock for Firefox released

If you are running an ad-blocker or script-blocker in a browser, you may experience high memory usage because of it.

Depending on how it is working, it may bring the memory easily over the 1 Gigabyte mark. One test to find out how well your extension works is to load the VIM Color Scheme Test website.

If you are using Windows, hit Ctrl-Shift-Esc prior to that to monitor the browser process or processes to see if loading the page increases the memory use of it significantly.

Should you be worried if DirectX 12 will be Windows 10 exclusive?

Microsoft announced back in October 2014 that its upcoming operating system Windows 10 will ship with DirectX 12. Windows 10 is expected to be released in Fall 2015, three years after the release of Microsoft's current state of the art operating system Windows 8.

DirectX is widely used, not only on Windows but also on Microsoft Xbox gaming systems and even other devices such as Sega's Dreamcast console.

Display all open ports on your network using PortScan for Windows

Ports are used for communication in computing. It would go too far to describe the technical details involved but you can think of ports as doors that allow interaction with a device.

Common ports are TCP port 21 ftp, port 23 for Telnet or port 80 for the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP).

While it makes sense to keep certain ports open on your system, as you would not be able to use services associated with them otherwise, it is usually a good idea to make sure only ports that you require are open.

Windows downloads for all operating systems

Most Windows PCs ship without installation disc or any other form of physical product that you can use to re-install the system. While you do get options to create recovery discs, it is not the same thing.

The same is true when you purchase upgrades online from Microsoft. You don't get a disc anymore unless you purchase it directly, and even if you do, you will notice that some versions of the operating system are not available as physical media.

It is unclear why Microsoft made it difficult in the past to download installation media directly from the company.

Use Livestreamer to play streaming videos in your favorite video player

A lot can go wrong if you are using web browsers to watch streaming videos on sites such as Twitch, Dailymotion, UStream, Livestream or the thousands of other sites that offer them.

First, you need to use a browser or plugin that is supported. If a site requires Flash or Silverlight for example, you cannot do anything about it but to install the plugin to watch the streams in your browser.

You may notice heavy resource use while streaming, lags or even pauses, and don't get me started on the security implications of running those plugins in the browser.

Tracking Protection lands in Firefox Nightly for Android

Mozilla added the new tracking protection feature to Firefox Nightly for Windows, Linux and Mac systems in November 2014.

The feature uses block lists of domains and sites that are known to track users. When enabled, communication is blocked to those servers on the Internet to improve user privacy.

Crop PDF documents comfortably with Briss

The pdf format is highly popular and there are so many third-party tools and programs available that manipulate pdf documents in one way or the other that it is difficult to keep an overview of them all.

If you need to crop documents, you may want to take a look at the open source program Briss for Windows.

Note: Briss requires the Java Runtime Environment on the system or it won't work.

It allows you to extract contents from existing pdf documents easily by selecting them in the program interface.

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