Sunday, November 25, 2012

Experience with Bamboo Fun (CTH-640) tablet

During a class room training I don't use much of presentations, but do a lot of free hand drawing and writing on the white board. From experience I found this is a win-win situation for me as well as the trainees. I plan to do the same thing for virtual training also. I could have used mouse for drawing, but I opted to buy a Wacom Bamboo Fun in Hyderabad, India and having really fun with it. Wacom has a wide range of tablets, Bamboo Fun falls in the mid range and is really nice for those who are starting to use tablets.

I primarily use Ubuntu 12.04 as my Desktop OS and had to do a bit of research to make sure that the tablet works with Ubuntu before buying it. The moment I connected it through the USB to the Laptop, I was able to use the tablet with GIMP for drawing without any configuration or any additional software. Later I installed MyPaint and started using it with the tablet. I am not sure, but I think not all the features of the Bamboo Fun are available in Ubuntu because of the driver. Need to check it out.

Bamboo Fun box also has a CD with Adobe Photoshop Elements 10, Corel Painter Essentials 4 and Bamboo Scribe 3.0 for Windows/Mac. Was able to install all these on a Windows 7 Virtual Machine. The tablet also comes with a USB cable, a pen and a couple of nibs for the pen.

The only gripe is that a case was not available from the Wacom dealer. So, I had to design a case, get it done and it turned to be fun and came out very nice as shown in the pictures.

Overall, the Wacom Bamboo Fun is worth the price and would recommend for anyone who are getting started with online presentations and professional drawing. If you have kids at home, they also would really like the tablet like mine did for drawing. But make sure that they handle the tablet with care.

Recently, I have seen Sudheer (whom I had been working with for some time) using iPad with a pen to deliver class room training and it was really effective. The iPad was screened to a projector and the drawings/writings were were also saved for later reference. His use of iPad has streamlined and validated my thought of using the Bamboo Fun.

This is what can be done with the tablet. Have fun !!!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Tata Photon Plus security risk with Ubuntu

When I tried to update my Ubuntu computer using the `sudo apt-get update;sudo apt-get dist-upgrade` the user password with administrative privileges was not prompted. Some thing smelled fishy and I had to recollect what changes have been done to the OS for not being prompted to enter the password.

Quickly I recalled that I recently bought a Tata Photon Plus for Mobile Broadband Internet, since I would be traveling a bit. As an Ubuntu bigot, my first task is to test it under Ubuntu 12.04 to make sure it works.

When I plugged the Tata Photon Plus into USB on a Ubuntu 12.04 machine, it was not detected for some reason. So, I had to copy the Linux installation files from the data card on a Windows machine to a USB and then copy them to a Ubuntu 12.04 machine.

According to the instructions in the Tata Photon Plus manual, I had to run the install file under the Linux folder for installing the required driver and software for the Tata Photon Plus to work. The install script required administrative privileges (sudo) to run the script.

So, I looked into the install file as the initial suspect and found the following to my surprise
# Shashank: Defect fix AJ2D13470: Begin
echo -e "ALL ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD:ALL" >> /tmp/${TEMPFILE} 
# Shashank [s72814] added to generate .bin file and to give access permissions in user mode: End
# Shashank: Defect fix AJ2D13470: End
cp -f /tmp/${TEMPFILE} /etc/sudoers
What our friend Shashank (possible from Huawei, who have worked with Tata to provide the necessary hardware and software for the data card) has done is to open to Ubuntu 12.04 system wide open for any changes without any password. The first thing I did was to run `sudo visudo` and then comment out the below line.
Finally happy and back to the original secure state. For those who are interested interested in the install file, here it is. Hope that the software developers are a bit careful and the companies who they work for do a bit of audit before releasing it to the public. Not all users of software are experts in tracing out and fixing the problems in a software.

I initially thought of reporting the same to the Tata, but could not get a proper contact from their website, whom I could report to. So, I decided to post to make this public to get the due attention.

Thought of the day is to use new softwares with a bit of salt.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Making USB visible in the VirtualBox Guest

For many of you who might been be following by blog might know that I use Ubuntu 12.04 32-bit as my primary desktop and use Window 7 guest with  VirtualBox for working with Microsoft Office documents and also to sync my Apple Nano using iTunes.

I recently bought a device (would be blogging about it in the next post) for which the CD had drivers for Windows and not for Ubuntu. So, I did a bit of research and found out that the device is supported in Ubuntu and so I decided to buy it.

When the device is connected to the Laptop, the host OS (Ubuntu 12.04) recognizes it, but the guest OS (Windows 7) doesn't. I wanted to exploit the device to the full extent, so wanted to use it in the Windows 7 guest with the proper drivers and software installed.

Here are the steps to be followed to make the USB device visible on the guest OS.

1) OSE (Open Source Edition) version of VirtualBox is installed by default with the installation from the Ubuntu repository. The appropriate version of the VirtualBox Extension pack has to be downloaded and installed.  To install it, simply double click the extension and VirtualBox should open, prompting you to install it. If that doesn't work, you can also select File > Preferences > Extensions and browse for the downloaded VirtualBox extension.

2) Install the `gnome-system-tools` package using the `sudo apt-get install gnome-system-tools` command. This installs the `Users and Groups` program. Using thi thse user who logged into the OS has to be included in the vboxusers group. Logout and login back for the group association to take effect.

3) Connect the device which needs to be visible in the Guest OS and add a USB filter as shown here. Here are more instructions for the same. Initially the device which was visible
only in the host OS is no more visible in the host OS, but visible in the guest OS as required.

One thing to note is that the critical devices which are connected to the host OS through USB should not be added to the guest OS as they would be disconnected to the host OS and connected to the guest OS.

Next blog will be about an interesting device I bought and my review about it. So, keep following the blog.