Blogging, General ramblings, Life, Meme, Thoughts

First-Last-Now Meme

I’ve had a really boring day and I feel so tired right now. I wanted to blog about lots of things, but I don’t have the energy. Here’s a meme that I came across. Feel free to tag yourself and re blog it, if you want to.

P.S- I can’t stop admiring the pretty blue star-bullets. They look so lovely. 🙂 The highlight of my day- I swear!

First

  • First job: At the billing counter as a cashier. Yeah, I didn’t have an assistantship when I’d come here initially. So I worked as a cashier for a couple of weeks to earn my living expenses. It was not that bad. Some guy even told me that I look like Sania Mirza? 😛 Don’t know if that was a compliment. But it was quite surprising that he knew about Sania Mirza. Must have been a crazy tennis fan. Oh and there was this other guy who used to come every afternoon and I used to flirt with him openly. It was quite entertaining.
  • First screen name: It was a Hotmail address that I still use. So, I’m not giving it out here. Sorry. I’ve become really paranoid about all this since i had that email hack scare a couple of weeks back
  • First funeral: My paternal grandmom’s. I was only 10 and it was a horrific experience for me. Ever more so, because I’d been rude to her a couple of weeks back. So I couldn’t stop feeling guilty 😦
  • First pet: A parrot- not really mine. Technically, it was my cousin’s.
  • First piercing: Ears
  • First tattoo: Never had one
  • First credit card: Technically, my dad gave me three credit cards. But my first real credit card would be the Citibank one, which I got, after applying for it myself.
  • First kiss: Happened a long time back, full filmi style.
  • First enemy: Whoa! Is this a real question? First enemy? So how many enemies am I supposed to have now?

Last

  • Last car ride: A couple of days back, when I’d gone out for an Italian dinner. Yes, it’s been ages since I stepped out of this house and it really sucks being home all day long.
  • Last kiss: A week back. Contact me for more details.
  • Last movie watched: Ronin. I’ve been wanting to watch Bad Education since a week now, but am not finding the time. 😦
  • Last beverage drank: Water? Before that, I had Diet Coke.
  • Last food consumed: Dosa, idli podi and sambhar 🙂
  • Last phone call: With a recruiter for a job position. I know it’s a boring answer…sorry!
  • Last time showered: An hour back. Yay!
  • Last CD played: Jodhaa Akbar. Not really CD, but MP3. I don’t know which was the last CD I bought, except for movie CDs. I’ve stopped buying music CDs. I download them from the internet.
  • Last website visited: My blog

Now

  • Single or taken: Taken. All good girls are taken.
  • Gender: Female
  • Birthday: 01/16/19XX
  • Sign: Capricorn
  • Siblings: Yes, a younger sister
  • Hair color: Black and straight
  • Eye color: Jet black
  • Shoe size: US 7
  • Height: 5 feet 2 inches. I’m very short, thanks to my mother. Everybody else in my family is so tall. This is totally unfair. I should have had more Complan 😦 I feel that Complan really helped my cousins grow tall.
  • Wearing: Grey shorts, a light blue t-shirt and some underwear, obviously.
  • Drinking: Nothing
  • Thinking about: When this meme will end! (Yay! Just scrolled down and saw that this is the second last question).
  • Listening to: The AC whirring and my laptop fan just started whirring too. Not the most musical of noises.
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Blogging, Life, Thoughts, Wordpress

Blogging Without Obligation

bwologo2

I have come across a lot of blogs recently where the blog owner apologizes for not having posted regularly. In fact, one particular blog owner blogs only to let everyone know that he/she has been busy and will blog when he/she gets the time to do so. (Edit: I’m not talking about posts where you let your readers know about your whereabouts. I’m talking about blogs where the authors only blog about their busy-ness in different permutations and combinations.) I feel that nobody should ever apologize for not blogging regularly. It’s your blog, your content, your thoughts! Blog when you feel inspired and most importantly, blog when you feel like it. Don’t blog because your “readers” need you to blog everyday or every alternate day!

I’m going to sign the “Blogging Without Obligation” Pledge Today because I’m not blogging under any compulsion. I don’t earn even a single cent from all the time I put into it. It’s not my profession either. And thankfully, my readers don’t expect me to blog regularly. 😉 Let the people who comment on my blog also take some well deserved rest.

After coming across what seemed to be the 4000th or so post on someone’s blog starting with “I’m sorry I haven’t posted in awhile.” I decided it is time to rethink what makes a good blog and the expectations that have come to be part of it. I am thinking that no one should utter those words again . . .and with that thought I give you Blogging Without Obligation.

If you feel the same way feel free to grab the logo, make a logo or whatever you would like to do!

I release all the logos, thoughts and words mentioned here about this concept into the public domain. Take the idea and run with it. . .or walk away. It is all good.

  • Because you shouldn’t have to look at your blog like it is a treadmill.
  • Because its okay to just say what you have to say. If that makes for a long post, fine. Short post, fine. Frequent post, fine. Infrequent post, fine.
  • Because its okay to not always be enthralled with the sound of your own typing.
  • Because sometimes less is more.
  • Because only blogging when you feel truly inspired keeps up the integrity of your blog.
  • Because they are probably not going to inscribe your stat, link and comment numbers on your tombstone.
  • Because for most of us blogging is just a hobby. A way to express yourself and connect with others. You should not have to apologize for lapses in posts. Just take a step back and enjoy life, not everything you do has to be “bloggable”.
  • Because if you blog without obligation you will naturally keep your blog around longer, because it won’t be a chore. Plus, just think you will be doing your part to eradicate post pollution. One post at a time. . .

My personal favorite is “Because they are probably not going to inscribe your stat, link and comment numbers on your tombstone”. So the next time you worry about not getting enough hits, or comments or track backs, just think about this! Don’t ignore other parts of your life by getting too obsessed about one thing.

In fact, I would like to add another point to this entire issue. So many times, we comment on other blogs not because we really care, but because we think that by writing that comment, we’re obligating the blog owner to make a trip to our blog. I really think that it’s very important to get over this feeling and comment only when you have something to add or you really feel like it. Don’t do it for the sake of it. Don’t do it because writing that extra comment will earn your blog post another comment. I admit that I’ve done this several number of times in the past, but I’ve stopped doing it now. Since the past couple of days, I’ve been analyzing the hypocrisy of the entire issue. Do we really make good friends if we comment with such shallow thoughts in mind? Blogging, for me, is another way of making good friends, in addition to a method of letting people know what I think. We misguide each other into thinking that we really care about each other’s blog posts, but in reality, all we care about are the stat and comment counter of our blog. Bottomline: Don’t comment just to keep up with appearances.

It’s amazing that a blog that gives pro blogging tips advised blog owners to blog “everyday”. Not everybody finds the need or the desire to blog everyday. It works for some people. It doesn’t work for some people. Like the oath above says, “because sometimes, less is more”. 🙂

So remember that and hopefully, you feel better (or maybe worse) after reading this post. You have the full right to agree or disagree with me.

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Blogging, Books, General ramblings, Life, literature, Thoughts

Untitled

nikhilkumar.jpg

Nikhil sent me a copy of his first book, Untitled, by mail. He blogs here at WordPress. He’s an MS student at SUNY Buffalo and will be starting his PhD in Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy this Fall, 2008 at the University of Nebraska. Oh, and he’s also an avid chess player and I wouldn’t want to play with him again. I lost to him miserably the last time we played chess. 🙂

I’ve been able to read only two short stories till now. So far, I’m really liking it. According to me, the book dwells on different facets on love. Nikhil proves the fact that a writer doesn’t need to be old or experienced to take the reader on an emotional roller coaster. I’ll try to write a detailed review once I’m done reading it.

“If Love comes to you and says, “I hate you,” you feel sad; but when Hate comes up to you and says, “I Love You”, you start to think whether you are a sadist…”

-Nikhil Kumar

I wish him luck for his PhD program and success for his soon to be released, second novel, which I’ve had the pleasure of reading. 🙂

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Blogging, Business, Facebook, Finance, GMail, Google, Howto, Orkut, Social Networking, Software, Technology, Thoughts, Tumblr, yahoo, YouTube

Aggregate All Your Online Feeds

Online social networks seem to be proliferating at an exponential rate and it has become quite necessary for us to aggregate them in one place. It’s difficult to keep track of different people and their online activity in different networks. There are lots of websites online where you can aggregate all your online accounts and then, circulate a “master feed”, that simplifies the entire process. I really love this idea and have been tinkering with it since the past couple of days. These are some of the websites that I would recommend:

1. Friendfeed– Started by three ex-Google employees, and still in beta phase. You need to request an invitation to join it. I got mine on the same day. They plan to make this service public by the end of next month. The UI is extremely simple and resembles Google. Friendfeed tops my list for the simplicity of the sign up process (less than 30 seconds), and the overall usability. You can aggregate all your online accounts, such as Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, Facebook status updates, Netflix queue, Amazon wish list, Tumblr, Youtube, Blogs, Digg, Stumbleupon, Reddit, Delicious…I’m tired! 🙂 Your friends can just subscribe to the “master feed” and know what you’ve been doing everywhere. Simplicity is what we should aim for. Take a look at my Friendfeed page.

People can also comment on your activities and decide if they “Like it”. Deleting a particular activity from your feed is also very easy and takes only a single click. You can also install a bookmarklet that lets you post anything that you liked to your friendfeed profile. You can also install a Facebook application that will integrate your Friendfeed with your Facebook profile. I haven’t seen these features in any of the other “Aggregation” services.

The only drawback that I see here is that there is no way of adding any sort of single sentence profile. Louisgray.com has ten suggestions for its improvement.

Rating: 5/5

2. Soup.io– Very similar to friendfeed, minus the ability to comment. The best part is that you can try the service without even signing up. Of course, if you want to make your profile permanent, then you need to make an account, that takes only 20 seconds. You can customize the look of your page by adding a theme and editing the CSS. But I didn’t like the fact that I need to click twice in order to delete a particular entry (once, initially, and the second time, to confirm) and for me, that’s very important! But yes, it’s open to public and you don’t need to wait for an invitation. Take a look at my soup page.

Rating: 4.5/5

3. Readr– This has been in existence since a longer time, compared to Friendfeed and Soup.io. Again, you have the ability to comment on particular items, choose a theme and merge all your online accounts together. There is nothing unique about this service, IMO. Soup.io and Readr are clones of each other. Readr’s output of the feeds is not that nice looking and it kind of looks jumbled up. Another problem is that when you initially set up an account with them, then your items will be shown in the order you added the feeds and not in the chronological order. So, you might have three pages of Delicious, two pages of Stumbleupon, one page of Digg etc. You get the picture. Take a look at my page for an example. The process of adding accounts was a little more cumbersome because the default number of accounts that are available are less compared to Friendfeed or Soup.io.

Rating: 3.75/5

Apart from these major player, there are others such as Mugshot, 30boxes (the sign up process needed me to click on a link in an email and that is a complete no-no when we compare it with its competitors), etc. The bottomline- The web 2.0 sites are showing a tremendous upsurge in the usage. If you don’t sign up for an aggregator today, you very well have to a couple of months down the line. And what are those RSS feeds for? We need to embrace anything that helps us save time (and become lazier).

Social Bookmarks:
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Blogging, Business, Facebook, Finance, Google, Microsoft, Orkut, Social Networking, Software, Technology, Thoughts, Wordpress, Yahoo! Mash

Someone forgot about WordPress

In this Web 2.0 picture:

I thought that Reddit was bigger, but it’s reach is 900 and valued at just about $30 milloon. Of course, Stumbleupon is much bigger, with a reach of 1,800 and valued at a little less than $100 million. Digg remains strong and steady with a reach of 6,000 and a little less than $500 million in valuation. The biggest joke here is Windows Live Spaces, right at the bottom of the graph (towards the middle), with a reach of 15 and any guesses regarding its market value?

MyBlogLog, Netvibes, and Meebo (also won a Crunchie) are almost in the same category. Orkut (reach of 26,000) is still bigger than Facebook (reach of 9,000), yet the latter makes more noise in the Web 2.0 world.

And you know the best thing? Google owns three out of the top five market value/reach grossers- Youtube, Orkut and Blogger. Just another graph to show how powerful Google is becoming. The only thing is that I see Bloglines in the third tier, with a reach of 2,200, but I don’t see Google Reader anywhere. It might be possible that Google Reader was excluded (very unlikely though). Bloglines was my first feedreader. Then I changed to Google Reader and now I use the in-built feed reader provided by the social web browser, Flock.

Box is also doing pretty decent with a reach of 500 and I strongly feel that it will rise very soon because of its lovely user interface.

Where is Yahoo Mash? It seems to have disappeared already. I wanted to do a follow up on it…maybe I need to take a look at my account and see if Yahoo has introduced any new features. There is no way Yahoo Mash will be able to play catch up with Facebook or Orkut. Something that is very evident from this graph.

Now let’s get down to the big question- Where is WordPress? With millions of users, surely it should have made a splash here, even though the graph has been made by the CEO of Esnips?

While we’re on the topics of Web 2.0 start ups, maybe it’s not too late to assess what kind of a Web 2.0 user are you? I’m sure most of you are at least Spectators (33%), else you wouldn’t be reading this blog.

I could write miles about Web 2.0 and each of these companies, and still not get done. So, it’s better if we just talk about issues in the comments section, right? 🙂

Edit: By the way, Apple haters might want to take a look at this. Microsoft haters, I have something for you too. I don’t disappoint either of the sects.

Social Bookmarks:
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Blogging, Technology, Tumblr, Wordpress

Get Yourself a Tumblelog Today!

Let’s move away from Twitter and make space for the new kid in the block, Tumblr! I’ve never really been fascinated by Twitter/Jaiku/Pownce because they lack the power of customization and are very restricted in their usage. Tumblr is a tumblelog that “slightly more structured blogs that make it easier, faster, and more fun to post and share stuff you find or create.” It’s a Twitter-meets-WordPress kind of thing, if you will. Most of you often find links, photos, videos or quotes that we would like to share and in case you don’t want to make it into a blog post, you can just post it to your tumblelog. So, technically, these are shorter than traditional blog posts, but longer than your Twitter updates. The sign up process is really simple and easy. All that you’ve got to do is enter an e-mail address, user name and password and you’re done! This is my Tumblr page, if you’re interested.

Tumblr has a number of amazing features that will make you want to get an account ASAP!

  1. Free domain mapping- How cool is that? Especially for WP.com users who pay $10 per year to get the same service.
  2. You can upload one MP3 song, less than 5 MB in size, every day! Yay!
  3. Embed videos directly from the internet or upload your own videos.
  4. You can also make a link post, that shares only a web page link.
  5. You can also share “chat conversations”. I haven’t tried this…but apparently, you can post chat transcripts from MSN/Gtalk/Yahoo/AOL etc.
  6. There are some really cool themes to choose from. Most of these themes are only single columned. This is the one of the major differences between having a full blown blog at WP.com/Blogger and having a tumblelog at Tumblr. But I did see a couple of two column themes (including A Bus Full of Hippies) too.
  7. Most of the themes are totally customizable. You can edit the CSS/HTML and add Java scripts.
  8. You can also “Follow”people, like you do in Twitter. Others can also follow you.
  9. Fully functional RSS feeds.
  10. Amazing “Archives” system- The way Tumblr archives all your posts is such a beauty. Just take a look at the Archives of any of the tumblelogs that have been featured on the Front Page.
  11. Upload your personalized avatar, which also doubles up as your tumblelog’s favicon.

Basically, there are no restrictions to what you can do. Feel free to write just a line updating your status or talking about something else, if you want to.

However, I did find some restrictions:

  1. As of now, there is no in-built comment system, but Tumblr does plan to introduce this very soon. But you can use a third party comment service provider, such as Haloscan or Disqus.
  2. I couldn’t find any way by which I can check the “Stats”. This is not really a drawback, because we need to understand that a tumblelog is different from a blog. So, we can’t really expect all the features. But yes, you can see the number of people who are following you. On second thoughts, I’m sure you can use Sitemeter or Google Analytics or a similar stats service easily, by adding the HTML code to the sidebar (in case you use a two column theme).

If you would like to know about Tumblr, then take a look at the Help page. I signed up for their service two weeks back, but didn’t start using it until today. I’ll be regularly adding lots of things to it.

Edit: Just found an interview by Tech Confidential  where David Karp says that 40% of the traffic comes from referrals.

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Blogging, Stupidity, Thoughts, Wordpress

Just a Small Note..

…to say that I’m back here. Self hosting turned out to be too time consuming and I’m afraid, I can’t do it. Besides, I was feeling too guilty of leaving this blog. So, what I’m going to do is get myself domain mapping and stay put at WP.com.

All of you who were against the move… you people turned out to be correct after all. 🙂

P.S- Here comes the part where I will ask you people to update your feeds/links again. I swear, this is the last time. Please bear with me. 🙂

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