Saturday, March 18, 2023

ChatGPT vs. Google search

Whether you're looking for the latest news, a specific product, or a how-to guide, Google search can help you find what you need in a matter of seconds. We all use google search every day at least once or some people like me use multiple times a day. 

Ever since ChatGPT came along, I find myself going there in the hope that I will find what I am looking for faster and easier using the conversational search approach. However, I often find myself falling back to Google search because 4 out of 5 times ChatGPT gives me wrong information and directing me in the wrong path (see the screenshot at end). At this point, I am convinced that it is actually faster for me to go to Google search in the first place for accurate information. Granted my search needs are highly technical in nature and I understand that is not exactly same for everyone but still I think Google search is faster, and most importantly accurate, at least for now.

What do you think?

Just for fun, I asked ChatGPT the question and here is the response I got.

When it comes to finding specific information quickly, Google search is still the go-to tool for most people. However, if you want a more conversational and personalized response to your query, ChatGPT can be a great option.

Here is a screenshot of one of the flat-out wrong answer from ChatGPT for one of my search/question with high degree of confidence 😆

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Bloatware in Pixel?

I only buy Google Pixel phones to avoid carrier & phone manufacturer installed, un-removable bloatware but little that I know these bloat kings like Samsung, Verizon, AT&T, etc managed to shove their crap on my Pixel phone and I have no clue how they managed to do that. I accidentally discovered some and believe it or not, you can't remove it without ‘root’ing your phone which will disable monthly security patches. Long story short, I wrote a script to disable them from running. 

Feel free to use this script but you need to have android adb installed on your computer and connected your phone with USB cable in order for this script to work.

If your phone is not pixel, you will find crap ton of bloatware. If you give me the full list (i.e., run my script '-a' option), I can update the bloatware list in the script so you can remove them. Right now, the list I have hardcoded in this script only includes what I found on my pixel which are listed below.

Finally, here is a quiz to see if anyone can answer this question (post your answer as comment). So you found a strange package called ‘org.thoughtcrime.securesms’ installed in your phone i.e. run my script with argument  ‘-p org.thoughtcrime.securesms’ that checks your phone to see if you have it. Do you think it is a malware? 😜

PS: all the scripts I post on my GitHub repo are digitally signed by me so they are as safe as it can be to run and if you feel brave you can run directly in a bash shell (MacOS or Linux) like so below.

curl -s | bash -s -- -h

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Free Cloud storage

Yeah, you read it correct, free 😁. We all know the phrase “there ain't no such thing as a free lunch” but there is a way to store all your family vacation pictures, videos for free with a minor caveat.

All of us have ton of vacation pictures, videos and such lying around on our computer, phone, USB stick, camera SD card etc. While it is always a good practice to backup your precious memories to external hard drive, but it is still not good enough. Hard drive is not permanent storage as it can fail anytime. What would you do if all your precious memories went down with your backup drive? While cloud storage does address this problem, it does cost money. What if I told you that you can store your stuff on cloud for free? Read on if interested …

First, let’s start w/ video files as its pretty easy. I am sure many of you used YouTube to upload your videos to share w/ your family & friends or even to public in some cases. Did you know that you can also upload all your personal videos there as well and mark it as “private” (see screenshot below) so it's visible only to you? 

That is right, you can upload literally everything you have in video format to YouTube. As of now, Google does not charge anything for storage, and it’s been that way for years, but that may change down the road but for now it is absolutely free. While YouTube runs super aggressive compression algorithm to maximize space, it does not impose any limit on length or size of files you can upload, and the loss of quality is not noticeable at all. I just uploaded a really huge video file (15 GB) and google is cool w/ that. If you don’t know how to upload files to YouTube, follow these simple steps. While logged in with your Gmail/Google account, head over to select Dashboard/Upload Videos and drag/drop your videos as much as your heart's content. Before you do that, you need to go to “Settings”/”Upload defaults” to set visibility to “Private”. There you have it.

Obviously, video is easy but how do you upload pictures since YouTube only accepts video? Well, you could generate a video of your pictures may be one video for each vacation or event and upload as videos. This is the minor caveat I mentioned earlier, i.e., you have to do some work to convert your pictures to video which is not that hard. To make it easy, I wrote a script to do just that on MacOS, or any Linux, or ChromeOS based computers. Windows users can run the script under WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) on Windows 10/11. If you are like me who always create slideshows with vacation pictures anyways, converting to video is not a bad option at all. The script to convert picture to video is available at my GitHub repo at link below.

It is pretty simple to run the script. First, copy all your pictures of a specific event or vacation trip to a directory and run this script on that directory as shown below. You can specify a title to use with the -t option and use any MP3 for background audio. The generated output video will be in the same directory. Now you can upload the video to YouTube!

To make bulk creation easy, I wrote another script that reads a CSV file where you can define where your files are and what title, background to use and run at one shot to create videos of all of your files as long as they are in separate directory. See script below.

Finally, if you have any questions on the options for generating video, feel free to ask. Enjoy!

For completeness, I want to mention there is a very complex method available to literally store any of your files, including documents, zip file etc on YouTube for free. Which of course requires lot more technical knowledge/skills that is way beyond the scope of this blog. If interested, you can read about it here and here . Keep in mind these are not reliable methods as one tweak in compression algorithm will render your data unreadable and useless so I would not use these methods to store anything important.

Friday, March 3, 2023

Phishing scams using URL Shorteners

I am sure many of you are familiar with shortened URLs that redirect you to a different long-winded URL when clicked. If you’ve ever seen or used, or a link, you are already familiar with how they work. 

These shorturl services like etc., have been abused by scammers for their phishing campaign for a while now. Recently, there is an increased use of these technique specifically leveraging reputable/legitimate websites like (see link below) since malware protection software and spam blockers are unlikely to block these short links created by reputable organizations like LinkedIn.

So how do you know if your given short URL is not going to take you to a shady phishing site or worse, to a malware laced website? Essentially, what you need is an inverse of shorturl i.e., longurl 😁 which expands the shorturl to show where it would take you if you were to click. That is exactly what I have done on this simple tool below. Feel free to use.

Note: Try expanding this sample short link ( using the longurl service above. For safety, the redirect address is checked w/ out actually traversing there and also it goes just one level deep only. There is also that does lot more if you want to try that as well. 

PS: I also have a very simple shorturl service similar to here Again, feel free to use.