Security Technology

No end-to-end encryption in Opera Mini

At some point I realized that I cannot access website. For the first time it happened to me back in Switzerland when I worked few years ago. Since then I moved from there and from time to time I tried that website again. I like Money section on and was always just a click away. But I had no luck. First I thought it was screened by a corporate firewall, but an attempt to connect at home did not improve the situation. is not something I really need to use, but it has been a bothering feeling that there’s a major website where you are not allowed to access, and you do not know why.

As in a good detective story there was another plot developing independently from the story. I have an iPod Touch and I installed Opera Mini browser there as I enjoy Opera browser in general (mouse gestures are very handy). After a while I noticed that with Opera Mini I can access some sites that I could not normally access from the country where I’m staying now (Russia). To my surprise it turned out that Opera Mini uses a transparent proxy, which is built-in and cannot be disabled, as according to my ip I was somewhere in Iceland (please see the screenshot below):


Puzzled I typed in and here you go, as if it has been always there for me:


Then I pinged in a usual way, and here’s the result:

Reply from Destination net unreachable. As I could not decipher that message myself, I posted a question on forum.

And mighty BudMan replied in his typical elaborated manner, with a short summary in this quote: “Clearly ICMP is being blocked […]. Yeah it sucks with parts of the internet do not follow the RFCs and block icmp that should not be blocked..”


Convert DVD movie to iPod Touch or iPhone format with Handbrake

Handbrake logoMy favorite serial is British “Fawlty Towers” with brilliant John Cleese as Basil Fawlty. All twelve parts are full of sharp-tongued hilarious dialogs. As people say: “the best farce ever written in the English language.” I wholeheartedly recommend. Anyway, I wanted to convert the DVD I bought few years ago on Amazon to m4v format, suitable for my iPod Touch (previous generation) to watch “Fawlty Towers” during the business trip. The key requirement would be to keep the subtitles, as I like to savour the wording (that movie in particular) along the watching these episodes. The hard part was to choose the right program to convert DVD into iPod Touch format as the selection looks excessive at first glance.

In the past I used to convert with CloneDVD, so I started this time with it. Unfortunately CloneDVD did not recognize the subtitles. I tried also Nero 10, Xilisoft Video Converter Ultimate, Xvid4PSP, Aimersoft Video Converter, and DVDFab with its ugly monkey head. No luck. That is the conversion was OK, but no way to put subtitles together. Almost at the moment of desperation I tried a program called Handbrake, which is an open-source converter available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows. It supports video in following formats: MPEG-4 (ffmpeg), H.264 (x264), and Theora (libtheora). Handbrake also supports chapters and all kind of subtitles (Vobsub and Closed Captions). I used version 0.9.5 for Windows.

So here’s the screenshot of the settings that did work with my iPod (click to enlarge):

Handbrake settings to convert DVD movie with closed captions

That worked nicely. So in iPod Touch (or iPhone) you just select subtitles in the menu:

And enjoy the movie:

A little disappointment is the capital letters of the subtitles — that I could not fix yet.


New Apple iPod — closer to true iPhone than ever

I always liked Apple’s iPods, but iPod Touch has been my favorite. This upgrade is truly surprising, because Apple iPod Touch this time has never been closer to iPhone 4. For me that’s what really needed, because I use “cheap” mobile phones anyway (I’ve never been careful with mobile phones, but it is difficult not to be careful when it costs more then 1000$ (without contract)), and for me iPod Touch is not only an outstanding player, but also like a small PC (which iPhone is). Now it is coming with HD video recording and built-in microphone. I mean here, you can enjoy iPhone technical and design excellence without buying it, because new iPod Touch is almost new iPhone 4 but without the phone part. New iPod Touch - image courtesy of Apple
Look at the highlighted area on the screenshot, see the phone buttons? Now two built-in cameras make it great for phone or Skype-like communication via WiFi.  

What else? 7.2 millimeters thin steel curved case, Retina display with 960-by-640 backlit LCD display (326 pixels per inch), Apple A4 chip (replacement of old Cortex-A8 architecture), built-in three-axis gyroscope, two built-in cameras (rear camera shoots HD 720p video).  

Really nice.  In a way iPod Touch is a miniature of iPad.

The price is the following: 8GB $230 / 32GB $300 / 64GB $400.