General ramblings

Pseudo Painting and Happy Birthday Ish!

Because it’s Ish‘s birthday, I’ve decided to grant him his Birthday wish: That I should tag up this meme in his honor πŸ˜‰ Okay, just joking. But please go and leave a comment on his blog and wish the cute guy πŸ˜›

So, here’s the tag: The person who tags you gives you five different words and you have to make five pictures based on those words using MS-Paint only. After doing the tag, you have to tag 5 other people and give them 5 words for their pictures.

The five words that Ish chose for me were-

  • An iPhone
  • The Apple Logo
  • The Windows Logo
  • A teddy bear
  • Cricket

Ermm…so I broke the rules a bit. First off, I used MS Paint for only drawing my iPhone. How ironical is that? Drawing an Apple product using a Windows application! And the next three (Apple logo, Windows Logo 😑 and Teddy bear) have been hand drawn and scanned. Cricket- Well, I give up! WTF do I draw for that? Yeah a bat and a ball…

1. iPhone- Proud owner of an iPhone 3G and the picture below actually shows the first page of my iPhone!

Β 

iphone

iphone

Β 

Β 

2. The Apple Logo-

Apple Logo

Apple Logo

3. Windows Logo- Ish did this just to piss me off, of course. I’ve been nice enough to hand draw this just because it is his birthday. πŸ˜‰ Anyone who’s been my blog friend long enough knows about my hatred for Microsoft and its products.

Windows Logo

Windows Logo

4. A Teddy Bear- Okay, I kinda did a horrible job on this one. I spent more than 30 mins trying to make this look like a teddy bear: the hand look’s weird and the body and the head are completely out of proportion. Yeah, it looks kinda demented.Β  😐

Teddy Bear

Teddy Bear

5. Cricket- Don’t know what to draw. I skipped this one. Sorry! 😦 Here’s a birthday cake instead:

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday

And now, I get to pass on the burden to five more people-

Arvind, Kiran, Suda, Lallopallo and Kalafudra. Please feel to draw anything you want! I’m too lazy to list them πŸ˜›

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General ramblings

Don’t use Globat.com

I had registered for Timeandagainblog.com through globat.com this January, 2008. I never received any renewal notice from them. I did receive an email two days back, informing me that my credit card has been charged $14.95 for the renewal of my domain. My domain was supposed to expire on January 4th, 2009. Well…there is a slight problem. I didn’t plan to renew this domain because I don’t need it anymore. I have been fighting with them since 3 days. I told them that I shouldn’t be paying for the renewal because I never received any notice. 😦 3 days, lots of wasted hours…and my money’s still with them. I’m going to file a dispute claim through my credit card company, Chase.

My Custom CSS upgrade expires on 12-28-2008 and I don’t plan to renew it. Why? Lots of reasons.

1. I’m not using WordPress.com much- I’m bored of the blogging community here. WP.com is not as flexible as Tumblr. I feel forced into writing long posts. I don’t feel like I have the freedom of expressing myself here anymore. It’s just not the same. With the amount of time I have these days, I am not sure if I want to go through so much of hassle. Posting/commenting on Tumblr/Twitter is far easier.

2. Because of #1, I’m not sure $15/year is justified. It’s not much at all. But only playing around with CSS is not enough. I want to muck around with the HTML too. 😐 I’m a curious soul.

3. I still think domain mapping should be free of charge. Yeah yeah yeah…might be a WordPress business model. But WTF- I don’t think I should be paying for it. They make a lot of money anyways!

3. Recession time- I should dress down my blog too. πŸ˜›

4. Globat.com cheated me. And I have to pay for 3 other domains that I own.

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General ramblings

Media’s Role in Mumbai’s Terrorist Attacks

I’m getting a little sick in the stomach, seeing Mumbai terror attacks coverage on CNN. Most of the times, their news is β€œstale”, in comparison to the news posted on Twitter.(Just search for #Mumbai). Citizen journalism is turning out to be more comprehensive, well-timed and exhaustive compared to traditional media. Lots of articles on the net that are talking about the power of twitter and bloggers. Lots of bloggers like Arun Shanbag, Vinu etc. have come into limelight because of their responsible journalism- they care for you and me. News channels cover these events only for their own good, to increase their TRP ratings etc.

I have only been a moderate user of Twitter- a couple of tweets here and there. Nothing more. This incident, however, has changed the way I feel about Twitter. It has the potential of becoming a stronger force to reckon with. A force fueled by ordinary people like you and me.

I came across a nicely put Google spreadsheet that has the list of people who are either injured/dead. My eyes welled up with tears. Two of my friend’s friends at Leopold Cafe and another friend of my friend’s younger brother, who was interning as a chef at Taj Mahal Hotel, were shot dead. I was speechless.

Of course, there are haters who talk about the side effects of Twitter and how lots of Tweets were only rumors. I have only one response to these haters- don’t news channels run their business based on rumors too? What’s new?

People have issued statements saying that “people need to tweet responsibly and stop airing all important news on Twitter; this can be used as a weapon etc”. I understand how this can be dangerous, but complainers need to find a way to deal with it! Restricting the use of social networking sites is tantamount to taking away our freedom of speech.

How many citizens sitting in the comforts of their homes and tweeting away to glory have actually done something (donated blood, tried to find information for people who are yet to hear from their loved ones etc.) is questionable. And I’m sure there are others who think this is a great party and a trendy topic to talk about. Leaving such people aside, I do hope that some good comes out of it.

Related Reading: In Mumbai, Bloggers and Twitter Offer Help to Relatives

Shefaly’s take

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General ramblings

Blog Closed

I’m off blogging for a month or so. Too much work and other stuff going on! I’m not being able to read anyone’s posts or write comments. Please don’t mind! I’ll probably be back next month. I’ll try to read your blogs, but will probably not be regular. πŸ™‚

Miss you wonderful people!

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General ramblings

Random Act of Kindness

I just got gifted $30 by POBox42111 and I hardly know him! In fact, he commented for the first time in my post, Desi Connection, only a week ago. I’m quite surprised and pleased/shocked at the same time. I guess it doesn’t take too much to make someone happy.

That’s a sum total of two random acts of kindness that I came across this year- First, the lady who helped me after my car accident on the freeway and second, POBox42111. I’m amazed how some people like POBox are so big hearted. I know that money is not a big thing, but still, it never occurred to me that it takes so little/much to make someone smile. πŸ™‚ I have a lot to learn.

My mom asked me- What’s his name?

Me: POBox42111

Mom: You mean you don’t know his name?

Me: No!

Dear POBox, I’m sure you are reading this post. I owe you one and I hope you will let me do something for you if you come to this side of the country. I have no doubt that you are not like other desis that I come across here ever so often. πŸ˜‰ Anyone who tips $7 for a $13 haircut cannot be bad! I’m not going to give you a gift in return because that would mean that I’m trying to settle accounts here. I will hope that sometime, in the future, I’ll be able to put a smile on your face too. I really appreciate your generosity and I’m very bad with words; so this does seem like an awkward post.

Ish, this time, I had an OMGWTF moment. πŸ˜€

I’ve used $15 to get myself a personal domain. Still have $15 which I don’t need.

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General ramblings

Bye Bye WordPress!

Had enough of this bourgeois service, where I need to pay for a custom domain, CSS upgrade (and that gives me the liberty to only “style” the look), and can’t use Java scripts.Β  WordPress hasn’t come out with a decent theme/addition in months!

So, I’m going to stop blogging here. I’m in the process of moving everything to Blogger (Yes, everything’s FREE!).

Bye Bye WordPress.com!

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General ramblings

The Reason

Of my absence is this darling tumblelog that I made sometime back. I’m not being able to control my new found obsession. It’s so easy to post pictures, quotes, video, audio (yes, you can upload everything to their servers free of cost), and many other things in a couple of seconds with the help of a bookmarklet. It might very well bring around the death of blogging of one day. Okay, so I’m going over board. Not death, but Twitter, Tumblr, Pownce, Soup and other micro blogging platforms are here to stay, which is apparent from the number of posts that people make in their tumblelogs, compared to their blogs. And I seem to be one of them.

As much as I love blogging, there are times when I don’t blog about stuff (that I would really love to), because of the need to tailor my post to a particular length, or to include links etc. and all of this is very time consuming. I’m finding my tumblelog to be quite liberating in this way, in that there is no pressure. It’s more personal by nature and I’ve already made an awesome set of “followers” there. πŸ™‚

Consider getting yourself one of these, if you like writing shorts posts. And we can be neighbors and follow each other.

Here’s a donut for you people- Take a look at all the lovely pictures/funny stuff that I’ve collected so far on this interactive page.

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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. πŸ˜‰ 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”. πŸ™‚

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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What’s in my Laptop?

Amit Agarwal from Labnol recently posted a link to Gina’s article, where she’s listed all the programs that are currently installed in her computer. I have seen many other bloggers prepare such lists too. I spend so much of my time every day, tinkering around with various applications, but have never given them any credit on my blog. So this post is a tribute to all these lovely creatures who improve my browsing experience every single day. It might help you get some ideas or discover some new tools too.

My primary Laptop: Compaq Presario V2000 with Windows XP Operating System

Secondary Laptop: HP Pavilion dv2000 with Windows Vista Operating System

My desire is to own a tablet PC made by Apple. I’ll buy it as soon as it’s released. πŸ™‚ I also fester desires of learning how to install a fully functioning Linux OS someday!

Browsers: The social browser Flock– Amazing browser for people who are avid bloggers and social networkers on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Flickr etc. Check out my review here.

Mozilla Firefox version 3 beta 2– Just downloaded it yesterday and I’m in love with their new location bar feature, that pulls out page titles and addresses in two different lines and colors, from your recent browser history and bookmarks!

Here’s a screen shot from the Official Website:

Add-ons and Extensions:

Shareaholic– An extension that lets you submit a page to countless number of social networking sites such as Digg, Delicious, Stumbleupon, Google Bookmarks, Friendfeed, Facebook etc. You can customize the drop down menu to include only those bookmarking sites that you use. You can also email the page you’re viewing. Here’s a screen shot (notice the green button with a drop down list only):

Screenshot: This Flock extension allows you to save webpages (entire, visible portion, selection) and windows (eg. browser, blog, uploader) as .png or .jpeg images. You can save these images to your file system, the clipboard or even send them straight to the photo uploader.

Cocomments: This extension helps me track every single comment that I’ve left on any sort of web page- Be it a website, blog or a channel like Youtube. I get notifications in my browser (in the shape of a small envelope) if there’s a reply to my comment. I find this to be really helpful because the “My Comments” tab at WP.com is very slow and it only shows a certain number of recent conversations. Plus, there’s no other way that I can track my comments left on non-WP.com blogs. All you’ve got to do is install the extension and it takes care of everything!

Here’s a screen shot:

Greasemonkey: What in the world would I Do without this add on? πŸ™‚ This is the best thing about Firefox and Flock. Too bad that Internet Explorer people have to suffer! Currently, I’m using the following scripts:

LookitUp2– Quickly look something up in wikipedia, a dictionary or whatever you like (its easy to add custom sites!). The result is displayed directly on the page.

TextareaBackup– Retains text entered in text areas

WordPress Comment Ninja- Respond to comments directly by post and/or email from inside your WordPress dashboard. For WordPress bloggers.

Comment Pre-fill– Fillout comment form fields with a single keyboard shortcut!

Greased Lightbox (v0.15)– Enhances browsing on websites that link to images such as Google Image Search, Flickr, Wikipedia, Facebook, MySpace, and deviantART

Userscripts.org Rank By Popularity– When browsing scripts on userscripts.org it will change the icon on the left to show how popular a script is. Very useful for focusing on the best scripts.

Mailto 2 Webmail– Open those “mailto:” links in your GMail, Yahoo, AOL etc. email accounts instead of the default Outlook Express.

Yahoo Pipe Cleaner– Removes most of the HTML markup from Yahoo Pipe run output so that it can be cut-and-pasted into WordPress blogs.

Out of these, my absolute favorite is the WordPress Comment Ninja and the Greased Lightbox (when I’m looking at images and want to see the expanded version, all I do is click on the picture and it zooms out. No need to open another link! Cool, isn’t it? πŸ™‚

You can also check out this and this, where I’ve prepared a list for other scripts that are very useful.

GoogleDocs Extension: Great stuff for all you Google Fans out there. πŸ™‚ From the official website:

With gDocsBar, you can drag and drop multiple files into the sidebar to upload documents. You can search and filter documents right from the sidebar. Your Gmail credentials are sent to Google directly over SSL. Your passwords are stored in Firefox Password Manager.

Software Applications:

Pidgin– Log into all chat clients and receive new email notifications and lots of other features.

WinRAR– For opening zipped files

DietMP3– compress your MP3 files

TextPad– Works great for CSS/HTML coding etc.

CDisplay– For reading e-comics

Irfanview– Resizes your images and lots of other capabilities

Apart from this, there’s the usual crap that’s worth not mentioning. I prefer to keep the number of applications running at the minimum and have a fetish for keeping my hard disk neat and tidy.

Some other junk that I found over the internet:

Ten Quickfixes to Make Your Windows Computer Run FasterΒ 

DownloadmyLink– Free Megashare/Rapidshare file downloader…no need to wait for 60+ minutes or reset your internet connection.

Senduit: Easily share you files- very clean UI

Instapaper: Bookmark those articles that you want to “Read Later” and might not be “Delicious”.

Social Bookmarks:
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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! πŸ™‚ 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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