Removing encryption from (legitimate!) PDF files on Ubuntu

Many service providers have started encrypting the statements that they send you. While at some level, it does add some amount of security when the path to your inbox is not very secure. However, it is sometimes a major pain when you want to archive your emails. This is because every provider has decided on a different secret to encrypt your PDF. So if one day you wish to access a statement of your phone bill from three months back, you have to look up the bill from your archive and read the mail to find out what they used to encrypt it.

One liner to convert Maildir/ to mbox using mutt

If .news/ is the maildir that you want to convert to the mbox news, this one-liner will do the job for you. mutt -f .news/ -e 'set confirmcreate=no; set delete=no; push "T.*<enter>;snews<enter><quit>"' (Gleaned from this mailing list post )

Apple is as big a threat to FOSS as Microsoft

Many FOSS enthusiasts do not realize is that Apple is as, if not more, significant threat than Microsoft in the war for software freedom. Most of the technical arguments that FOSS evangelists have, fall apart when you are talking about Apple and Mac Os X. Mac Os X has very less, if not none, of the perceived instability of Windows. Default applications bundled with the OS do quite a decent job for many users.

Discussing Paul Graham's essay on software patents

Thanks to Saurabh’s mail on ILUGD, found out about this nice essay by Paul Graham on software patents. Not being much of a lawyer or an expert on these things, but nevertheless having a conviction that software patents are evil, I have dared to comment on parts of this essay. Of course, you are right, whenever possible I have quoted out of context to put him at a disadvantage. :-P

Catching up with Python

Am trying to catch up with Python where I left off years ago. What have they done to the language when I was gone? It is no longer the simple language as before. The decorator syntax looks so .. well, Perlish. List comprehensions, in some ways very inappropriately named, took a few moments to sink in. It is great that it is concise, but then .. so was Perl! Look where it got “them” - Concise Perl programs looks not too different from a binary file open in a text editor.

Blog split

For some (probably conceited 😄 ) reason, I felt that my blog was getting overrun (or about to really get overrun) with non-technical babble arising from my frustration about where this country is headed. So before I turn off those three of you who read my blog, I have decided to split my blog on a very fuzzy boundary of technical/non-technical lines. My non-technical rants will now be posted at the appropriately named http://rants.

Using ffmpeg on Ubuntu to convert DV videos for video sharing websites

To begin with, this is the problem that I had. I had recorded a short clip using my Panasonic NV-GS330 camcorder. I had to upload it to Vimeo, my video sharing website of choice. From the camcorder to the computer Importing the video from the camcorder to the laptop was not much of a problem. I plugged in the camcorder to my laptop using a firewire card. Then I used Kino to position the tape (the camcorder uses mini dv tapes) just before the beginning of the clip I wanted to import and hit the capture button.

Draft of Indian Government's policy on Open Standards in e-governance released

Thanks to Vinay Sreenivasa for letting us know on the ILUGD list: The government has released a draft version of a Policy on Open standards for e-Governance. It is presently open for Public review. Please find the policy at the link below- The policy seems to have some really good points like- 5.1) Mandatory Characteristics: 5.1.1)Selected Standard should be Royalty Free for life time of the standard.

Paying credit card from your bank electronically

(If you want to skip all this background, and go directly to the steps to make card payments through ICICI Infinity, click here]) With Indian banks making life worse for customers using their credit cards, especially while paying their dues, I am exploring the mechanisms available to make payments for credit cards electronically. After all, if I can currently make payments for virtually any of my bills from the Internet, why do I have to run around looking for a place to deposit the credit card cheque?

A. R. Rahman on the future of music

It is indeed heartening to know that one of the finest composers in India has such a progressive outlook about the future of music. Excerpt from Hindustan Times. Music companies must recognise the changing ground reality. Today the conventional outlets for music sales are drying up. Soon all music will be free while the performers and performances will be paid for. Found the link at