Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dropbox Love and heart break.. :D

Yesterday was supposed to be the day that we will be losing the free storage space we got from the Dropbox Space Race Promotion for the last two years. I even noticed some other cloud storage providers targeted the users migrating from Dropbox, probably connected with the end of this promotion. I received the below email last night from Dropbox.

Hi Kathiravelu,
The 25 GB of additional Dropbox space you received as part of Space Race has now expired. Your Dropbox limit has automatically been adjusted to 10 GB.
You’re currently using 5.0 GB of Dropbox space. If you’re over your 10 GB limit, you’ll no longer be able to save new photos, videos, and docs to Dropbox — see our Help Center for more information.
Need more space? Dropbox Pro gives you 1 TB of space to keep everything safe, plus advanced sharing controls, remote wipe for lost devices, and priority support.

Upgrade your Dropbox

Interested in Dropbox for teams? Check out Dropbox for Business!
Thanks for participating in Space Race!
- The Dropbox Team

I was expecting my storage quota to drop to 10 GB. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had already moved majority of my files away from Dropbox, and was ready for this downgrade. Last night, Dropbox started to reduce the storage quota, in steps. It did not reduce it at one shot to 10 GB.

As you can see from the screenshot, it decided to reduce in an eventual manner. However, it still remains at 19.88 GB (not 10 GB, which should be the limit, according to the previous mail notifications). Probably Dropbox decided to be a bit nicer. I did not fail to notice the heart-broken symbol

Let me know, if you have stories to share on this migration hell.. :D

Is a complete scam, or a partial scam?

Short answer: Complete scam.

I have previously reviewed, which is not really a complete scam. However,, which positions itself as a service for finding travel mates is a complete scam.

You can chat to someone for a very short period of time for free. After that, you will have to pay for each messages entered. It is actually a lot of money, if you continue to chat. Worse, the profiles, most of them that would contact you, are fake! There may be a few genuine unsuspecting users. But the majority (say 99%) of the profiles (at least the female profiles that are used to attract paying customers) are fake!

I found the link for this site from a Facebook travel group. Probably one of their employees advertising. Assuming it is genuinely related to travel and is similar to couchsurfing or airbnb, I gave it a try. Little did I know. The moment I created the profile, even with lack of any interesting information (except the somewhat boring profile picture, name, location, and job title), I started receiving chat messages. Most of them showed extreme interest, not just travelling, rather romantic (it was of course interesting and entertaining to hear those pick up lines from those 'females'). My profile had an open preference (18 or more, anyone - men or women). Regardless of this, I literally got requests from only young females with attractive profiles.

Most of them claim to be from China or Colombia. But a quick chat with them would reveal that they are fake. They are of course real humans (not bots). But just hired employees (chat professionals!) who are dedicated to talk longer and longer with the unsuspecting victims to absorb as much as they can to the site. They are just not the person they claim who they are. You may notice repetitions or same messages such as "do you like go to beach with me?" from "different" users.

Despite their extreme level of interest in you, the moment you ask to continue the chat in another free platform such as Facebook or Skype, they would just ignore and stick to this site. Sometimes you may hear "smart" responses such as, "best talk on this site is more secure dear". Interestingly, as much as I researched, the site was surely not more secure. Who would be willing to lose money paying for each message, in that site with a crappy chat system? Their intention is to make the victims stay longer and chat beyond the free 3 minutes of conversation to make them pay. However, as the site gets desperate to get money, eventually it does not even wait for you to send your first reply. Rather, it displays the below message, "Top up your balance and you will never miss the trip of your dream."

Any legitimate user that you may luckily encounter (I suspect that they exist in this site) would be delighted to continue the chat elsewhere, if they are really interested in travelling with you. Of course, there is another set of scammers in this site, the typical "Nigerian Scammers" (they are not really from Nigeria. This has become a metaphor), who attempts to collect your email address.

As they realize, you are not that stupid to pay, the chat frequency from the users will reduce. Since they are not individuals, but a group of scammers, it is possible for them to collaborate and coordinate on this. Also the chat requests come in bulk. Probably since the employees (those who are paid to chat, pretending to be young girls) go out for lunch and return together.

I wonder why these scam sites continue to operate. Why can't someone come up with something real and legitimate and continue to earn revenue? Now why did I spend time writing a review for an unknown website that I found from a Facebook comment? The reason is, this site is not alone. There is a series of similar scam sites. I just wanted to warn the subscribers and readers of my blog to be aware of this and any similar site.

My suggestion is, avoid this and many other similar sites, to save your time and money. :) See you next time probably, with another review. :P Let me know your thoughts in the mean time. :D

Friday, February 6, 2015

Moving out from Dropbox

My old and new laptops, with a desktop monitor and my nexus.
Immediately following the repair of my new laptop.
Taken at my office space in INESC-ID Lisboa.

So I received this email from Dropbox last week:
Hi Kathiravelu,
As part of your school’s participation in Space Race, you received 25 GB of additional Dropbox space. The Space Race promotional period expires on March 4, 2015, at which point your Dropbox limit will automatically return to 8 GB.
As a friendly reminder, you’re currently using 33.11 GB of Dropbox space. If you’re over your 8 GB limit after March 4, you’ll no longer be able to save new photos, videos, and docs to Dropbox.
Need more space? Dropbox Pro gives you 1 TB of space to keep everything safe, plus advanced sharing controls, remote wipe for lost devices, and priority support. Upgrade before March 4 and we’ll give you 30% off your first year.
Get 30% off by upgrading now
Interested in using Dropbox with a team? We’re also offering 50% off one year of Dropbox for Business!
Thanks for participating in Space Race!
- The Dropbox Team

It's all started two years back with Dropbox's Space Race program, and our university students participated in it eagerly, to secure 25 GB for all of us, for two years.

The email looked like below:

Hi Kathiravelu,

Universidade Técnica de Lisboa is so close to reaching the next level of Space Race! Once you reach the next level, you’ll get another 10 GB.

That'll mean that everyone at Universidade Técnica de Lisboa enrolled in Space Race gets a total of 15 GB of free Dropbox space for 2 years!

Get out there and refer your classmates! You can keep tabs on how your school's doing here.

Keep on racing!
- The Dropbox Team

At that time, two years seemed really long. It covered my entire masters. I even thought eventually Dropbox will let us keep that space with us forever. It turned out, Dropbox won't do that. :P 

Now, I have to safely migrate the 25 GB of documents to another free cloud storage. Purchasing additional storage is the alternative suggested by Dropbox, which is out of question for a poor student like me. I know Box offering 10 GB free space. However, it does not have a desktop client for Ubuntu, which makes it useless for me. I have an account that I use mostly to upload manually using the web interface, or from my windows system.

One of my friends suggested Google Drive. So far, I used Google drive just to store some google docs. It offers free storage of 10 GB for everyone, and also some other Google accounts (other than the default Gmail one) provide me storage as large as 1 TB. I did not know of a desktop client available for Ubuntu. I did a search and found grive, a desktop command line client for Ubuntu.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:thefanclub/grive-tools
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install grive-tools
Then to add a new folder with files into google drive,
$ grive -a

To update a folder existing in google drive with changes,
$ grive

I did a mistake of trusting my new computer and assuming it won't fail. However, it failed suddenly, though it was less than 1 year since I bought it. I returned to HP for a free repair, since I have a guarantee of 2 years. During the repair, they reinstalled my Windows operating system, erasing the document stored in the partition. The failure has nothing to do with the hard disk. But resetting the operating system erasing the data is just their regular practice here, as I learned from the repair centre guy. Luckily they did not touch the Ubuntu partition which had my images and work. Just a week ago, I transferred my images to Ubuntu partition, which luckily saved me from losing the remarkable memories of my trips. This gave me determination not to trust even a new computer not to fail. I still remember how I lost all my photos from my US trip of 2011, as I stored them in the office laptop provided by WSO2, which had an operating system issue which made me reinstall the operating system erasing the entire data, in 2012.

Interestingly, my old computer of 6 years is still working with no problem at all. Fnac said usually the repairs take 10 - 15 days, where it may go up to 30 days maximum. I knew my computer had some issues - but I was waiting till summer to get it repaired, as I did not want it to affect my work. However, I had to repair it urgently, as it completely failed and did not turn on at last. Fortunately, it just took 10 days for them - to send it to HP and return it to me repaired. During these 10 days, I managed with my old computer, which was painfully slow for me. Our requirements for processing power and memory have grown huge, as in 2006 that computer was perfect for me. Good for me - I had my old computer updated with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS as well, along with all the software I need, except Latex (which I had to install, as this is something that I regularly work with).

Now Dropbox is reducing the space from 33 GB to 8 GB this March, I am mostly moving away from it, except for the 8 GB it still has to offer. This 8 GB is almost the documents that I share with others using Dropbox shared folders, which I cannot migrate without much administrative effort. In any case, I will keep an eye on my documents in the cloud storage as well as my local copy to ensure that the documents are available at both places, in case of a local hardware failure, or a shutdown from the cloud system in a similar manner, which may swallow my documents. :D

P.S: If you are a Chinese, or comfortable using an application that is mostly Chinese with a poor English or international interface, you may use Tencent Weiyun, which offers at least 1 TB free storage. Just a small warning. Do not forget the password of Tencent services. It was very hard to reset the password when I tried last. The application was not completely internationalized when I tried, and "forgot password" was one of the few bits that was fully functional only in the Chinese interface.

Friday, January 16, 2015

[TAVM] Energy and Carbon-Efficient Placement of Virtual Machines in Distributed Cloud Data Centers

This is the third and final presentation for the TAVM module. The presentation slides are given below, which I prepared by referring to the paper from the original authors

My Professional Journey.. :D

This is a slideshow created by Slideshare, by analyzing the LinkedIn profile. Seems pretty cool. I am still a young student. A long way to go.