Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Facebook on Lynx

Facebook on Lynx, as of 15/03/2011
Lynx is a text based browser, on Linux Terminal. It is more efficient in testing such as A/B testing, as it lets the user know how it proceeds, and when it redirects. It also lets the user to accept or reject each of the cookies.

Facebook used to work on Lynx, as I confirmed on the March 2011 on Ubuntu Gnome terminal! However, it does not work anymore. :(

Lynx has been listed as an unsupported browser, and attempted log ins are redirected to the page with the below message.
Update Your Browser

   You’re using a web browser that isn’t supported by Facebook.
   To get a better experience, go to one of these sites and get the latest version of your preferred browser:
   Internet Explorer
   Mozilla Firefox
   Google Chrome

However, accessing Facebook mobile page using lynx "lynx m.facebook.com" was working for a while.

But when I checked today, it gave the below error log and stopped working. It also attempted to open a Firefox private browser in the process.

$ lynx m.facebook.com
Looking up  'm.facebook.com' first

(process:6596): GLib-CRITICAL **: g_slice_set_config: assertion 'sys_page_size == 0' failed

Looking up m.facebook.com first
Looking up m.facebook.com
Making HTTP connection to m.facebook.com
Sending HTTP request.
HTTP request sent; waiting for response.
HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
Allowing this cookie.
Allowing this cookie.
Allowing this cookie.
Data transfer complete
HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
Using https://m.facebook.com/?_rdr
Looking up m.facebook.com
Making HTTPS connection to m.facebook.com
Verified connection to m.facebook.com (cert=*.facebook.com)
Certificate issued by: /C=US/O=DigiCert Inc/OU=www.digicert.com/CN=DigiCert High Assurance CA-3
Secure 128-bit TLS1.1 (RSA_AES_128_CBC_SHA1) HTTP connection
Sending HTTP request.
HTTP request sent; waiting for response.
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Allowing this cookie.
Data transfer complete
Using file://localhost/tmp/lynxXXXXjiIbl2/L6589-7762TMP.bin.gz
firefox -private-window /tmp/lynxXXXXjiIbl2/L6589-7762TMP.bin.gz

lynx: Start file could not be found or is not text/html or text/plain

So, unfortunately, Facebook is not working on Lynx, as of now. :(

Friday, June 13, 2014

Freelancer.com exams and reviews - why you should not trust them..

Fig 1. Spammers on "Freelancer exams"
It has been around ~20 months, since I wrote the review on Freelancer.com, "Is Freelancer.com a complete scam, or a partial scam?". Recently I was reviewing the comments section of the article and did more research. The situation hasn't changed much lately. Rather it just got worse. Before discussing further, I just clarify the readers that I am not a Freelancer.com user, except the use for reviewing purposes. Freelancer.com sucks. Here we will see why.

1. Freelancer.com exams is a joke.
Seriously. How can you measure someone's qualification or ability through some non-standard examination? Moreover, there are groups of scammers who even do these exams for you, if you pay them. They will require your credentials to do those exams on your behalf. There is a potential identity theft. This actually highlights an essential flow in the exams. You cannot trust these examinations as a genuine indication of someone's expertise.

The spam comments (See Fig 1) on my blog post from the desperate exam providers elaborate how these scammers will do the exams on your behalf! Instead of using proper marketing for their 'service', they decided to spam my blog post with the links to their 'service'. I have deleted the spammers comments from the blog post, such that the readers will not be misled.

These exam providers function for all the freelancing sites such as elance and oDesk. So this issue is not really specific to Freelancer.com. Anyway, to do an exam, you have to pay. Hence, this is a way for Freelancer.com to earn some money.

2. Most Valuable "Asset"
What makes a service attractive? You may have the excellent technology in your web site. But what if it does not have users? Specifically services that require a "match-making". Just like dating services make the potential partners meet, Freelancer web sites let the employers and freelancers meet. So, users are the most valuable asset of a system.

By vigorously acquiring multiple freelancing sites, and deploying strong media and marketing strategy, Freelancer.com has survived and thrived, despite the strong criticism it has received from the customers who felt violated by Freelancer.com. Freelancer.com however, does not respect its users at all. One who scan through the user reviews or even the comments on my previous blog post will notice this clearly.

3. Heavy delays on Payments. WHY?
You may successfully transfer money to your freelancer or employee via PayPal in a matter of seconds. But Freelancer takes days. It goes from 3 days and more. If this is the first time transfer, there is a verification process that lasts two weeks. You may be in a hurry to earn some money; but you will be delayed for at least 16 days, if this is your first time with the site.

Why? Is the Freelancer.com a police? No. Why do they do this? Because they can. Not only Freelancer.com. Plenty of web sites exploit their unsuspecting users. Employers have the wealth; freelancers have the time. Freelancer.com has users. As a third-party, Freelancer.com exploits the weakness of its users. In an ideal world, employers should be able to find their freelancers without a third party such as Freelancer.com. But it is not possible for everyone, as not everyone is blessed with connections and online visibility.

4. Canned responses from the support team
If you are stuck with some issue, you may expect to receive some help from the support team of Freelancer.com, which is, technically, nonexistent. They just provide canned responses. If they please, they will freeze your account for "verification purposes". This will happen, specially when your account has a considerable money in it.

Are they really so concerned that people are using their site for illegal purposes? I suspect. You do not hear much complains about PayPal or similar services.

5. Wikipedia Edit War
Fig 2. Edit war on Wikipedia Freelancer.com page
Now, those who got irritated by this web site, want to make their voice heard. They attempt to use Wikipedia for that. However, this has created an edit war in the Freelancer.com page on Wikipedia. It seems, an employee or a dedicated team of employees of Freelancer.com carefully monitors the Wikipedia page, and removes whenever something negative or controversial is added on their wiki page. They make sure the Wikipedia page is "clean".

The complaints from the users are noteworthy as they have appeared in multiple sources. However, due to the Wikipedia requirements to have "verifiable" sources, it is becoming very difficult to update the Wikipedia page with the other side of the story, given that the page is carefully monitored by Freelancer.com team, as well as some genuine Wikipedians. Refer to Fig 2 to see how unsatisfied users of Freelancer.com tried to add a section of "Criticism" on the Wikipedia page, and how Freelancer.com staff or supporters were successful in keeping it removed consistently. Fig 3 shows a screen shot of the "Criticism" section, when it existed.

If you have something to share, use web sites and blogs to make your voice heard. Before attempting to edit Wikipedia with your feelings, make sure you have already collected verifiable resources. You may consider publishing your side of the story to third-party publishers, which will later appear in the Wikipedia page.
Fig 3. Criticism section on the Wikipedia page

6. Fake positive reviews on employers and freelancers
It is not uncommon to see someone who has received highly positive reviews to be a bad employer or freelancer. Some of the reviews are proven to be fake. These users function as a network. It is like a mafia. Do not trust the reviews blindly. Suspect more, if all the reviews are from the same employer or freelancer. I hope Freelancer.com is aware of this, and ensure they eliminate the scammers out from their system when they detect them.

What can you, as a freelancer or employer, do?
As an employer or freelancer, try to avoid third-party services, if possible. If you still have to use them, try to find better alternatives to Freelancer.com, considering the very high number of negative experiences found. If you are already successful in Freelancer.com or similar sites, congratulations! You are lucky.

What can you, as freelancer.com, do? 
The problem with your service is real. Instead of denying it, attend to it genuinely. You probably do not need to rob the hard-earned money of the poor freelancers. Go through the Internet genuinely, and attend to them personally, instead of throwing some political reply to keep them wondering. Learn from other services. Develop a genuine interest in the users before it is too late.

What can you, as an entrepreneur, do?
There is surely a gap here. Try to create something new. Even if you have the most excellent technology, it won't be a success, unless you have people. Attract the people with your service. Give something new. Make it genuine. Learn what is needed and create something that can cater the need. If you already have a better alternative, publish it, advertise it, and reach to the audience.

I hope this post was useful, if you arrived here looking for some suggestions. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Working with LaTeX

While working with LaTeX for my master thesis, I found so many useful packages and commands in making the paper more attractive. I am listing some of them here. Please reply in comments, if you have some other suggestions on these.

1. Labelled Matrix.

1. Labelled Matrix

\bordermatrix{\text{}&Exp_1&Exp_2& Exp_3 &Exp_4 & Exp_5 & Exp_6\cr
                Node_1&  S+C  & I & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0\cr
                Node_2& S+C & I & 2I  &  0 & 0 & 0\cr
                Node_3& I & 0 & S & I & 0 & 0\cr
                Node_4& 0 & 0 & I & 0 & 0 & 0 \cr
                Node_5& 0  & 0 & 0 & S+I & 0  & 0\cr
                Node_6& 0  & 0 & 0 & 0 & I  & I}

2. Code Segments 
Java, C++, pseudo codes, or whatever that you would like to highlight and pretty print.
2. Code Segments

In the definitions,
Then, wherever you want it,
String clusterGroup = HzConstants.MAIN_HZ_CLUSTER + id;

// Initialize the CloudSim library
HzCloudSim.init(ConfigReader.getNoOfUsers(), calendar, trace_flag, clusterGroup);

3. Equations
Use the Equations package, to include some equations or formulae. It is much convenient. 
3. Equations

\begin{equation} \label{eq:iequation}
T_{p} = \frac{k.T_{1}}{n} + (1-k).T_{1} + f(n) + S + F
\begin{equation} \label{eq:baseequation}
S_{p} = \frac{T_{1}}{T_{p}}

From equations \ref{eq:iequation} and \ref{eq:baseequation},
\begin{equation} \label{eq:finalequation}
S_{p} = \frac{T_{1}}{\frac{k.T_{1}}{n} + (1-k).T_{1} + f(n) + S + F}

Having difficulty in generating the equations in LaTeX form? Don't worry. Use this web service, and pick LaTeX as the output format. Have a look at this guide, for an introduction to LaTeX Math. Have problems with the location of images in the output PDF? Have a look at this. Also if you have problems with Unicode characters, take a look at this. Specifically, the below error message is common with Unicode characters such as accented letters (e.g: é).
! Package inputenc Error: Unicode char \u8:�cn not set up for use with LaTeX.

Also consider using utf8x instead of utf8, as below, in the preamble, for Unicode characters.

Hope this post was useful. Will add more in a later post, probably. If you are looking for how to install LaTeX, have a look at this post.