Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Resolutions Review

So another year comes to an end. It has been ten years since I left my childhood home in 2000 after my tenth standard. 
I have come from Adilabad to America :) .. Its a cliche, but I want to look back. I want to thank my parents & brother for everything they have done for me. :). Thanks to dear wife for the wonderful moments we shared.Oh ya, I am sorry that we are not together as I write this,but most of the wait is over. Thanks to all my friends & colleagues who have helped me, supported me and encouraged me. Life wouldn't have been this great but for you. Thanks to my teachers & mentors for patiently guiding and growing me. 


With that gratitude, let me review the goals for this year. 
1. Health:
wake up at 6 am daily -
Not a success as being onsite, to talk with people in India, I had to sleep late which inevitably makes me wake up late. 
Exercise and run daily
I think I exercised for about a month, and then I went to different place and ran out of habit. And winter came and I completely forgot about running
Run a half marathon
No progress but it is going straight into my next year resolutions. 
Drink a smoothie daily (almost)
Did it for few days, then I didn't have car to buy fruits from costco and fell out of habit. Not sure it is going into next year goals though. 

2. Career
Avoid multitasking as much as possible
Old habits die hard. This is one of them, I get distracted very easily and it has not been an easy task to become more focussed and having more attention to detail. It is a work in progress and I would rate this was a good success. I used software tools, pep-talk, hard rules and still found it difficult to do one thing at a time. Finally, one technique called Pomodoro has helped me habitualize this. This is a simple system and you should try this if you want to become more focused. 

Do the best with what you have -  ( Should have zero issues with my work )
Ok this is not a smart goal, because it is not really measurable. But even with this ambiguous condition, I have to say, my best is far above what I have done. Due to the lack of attention to detail, made some blunders but apart from that a good year with work. 

Join another degree - either political science or Green energy
Hmm, didn't officially join due to disadvantages due to being on H1. But had a lot of education reading Hacker News. Hacker news is the single source after Kathy Sierra which made me get interested in UX & design.
Learnt a lot of interseting things like. 
Everyone can be creative by shipping - Seth Godin
 Real Artists Ship - Steve Jobs. If you like to receive links to interesting articles like this, follow me on twitter @thisisananth

So in this way, I am getting education without the degrees. Anyway, degrees are not required if you  are consistently creating things. 

3. Relations
Strengthen relations with existing friends with emphasis on giving
Develop relations with people in fields of interest ( alt energy, raw foods, music, pd)
Go to a trip with family once

I am in US now, so couldn't go to family vacations this year but apart from that I reconnected with lot of my school mates and new friends through facebook and my blog. This has been a very good year in this regard. Hopefully we will grow lifelong friendships. :) 

4. Finances
Earn 30 lakhs :) 
Hmm, wanted to test law of attaction with this but it fell flat :) Though, I saved more than all the other years in my life , fell far far short of that figure. I reached just 10% of the said figure. 

5. Personal
Write 60 blog posts atleast
Ohh.ya done :)
Write a short story and publish it.
Done - here
Read atleast 10 books this year and write the reviews
Fell short of ten but read some books though
and three other telugu novels. 

Apply and use 'Ten faces of innovation' in work to have atleast one innovation.
None I can think of  ..!!! Actually I didn't use them  ;) 

Apart from that I actually overcame the laziness to write an android application. :) 

So thats my year.. Hope you all had a great year 2010. I wish you, my friend, a very happy new year 2011. 


Sunday, December 26, 2010

My top ten telugu songs for 2010

In continuation with the tradition of listing the best telugu songs of every year, I have prepared the list of best telugu songs for 2010. For my non-telugu friends, music has no language bounds, so you can listen and enjoy them. Yesteryears links 2009, 2008

1. Aunana Kadana - Leader  (Mickey J.Meyer)


2. Manasa - Ye Maya Chesave (A.R. Rehman)



3. Neeve Neeve  - Darling (G.V Prakash Kumar)


4. Nenu Nuvvantu - Orange (Harris Jayraj)



5. Inumulo oka hrudayam - Robot (A.R Rahman)


6. Nee Yeda lo naaku chote vadde - Awara  (Yuvan Shankar Raja)


7. Sreelu pongina - Leader (Mickey J Meyer)


8. Rooba Rooba  - Orange (Harris Jayraj)


9. Hossana - Ye Maya Chesave (A.R Rahman)


10. Vintunnava - Ye Maya Chesave (A.R Rahman)



Songs which almost made it to the list



Ninnu Nannu - Maro Charitra

Telugammayi - Maryada Ramanna

Inka Edo - Darling

Hello Rammante - Orange

Chilipiga - Orange

Neelo Valapu - Robot



These songs are different lyrics wise and music wise

Chari - Adurs

Taxi - Khaleja

Cmon Cmon - Thakita thakita.

Nee Navvule - Emaindi Ee vela

Ammayi kitiki pakkana koorchundi  - Maryada Ramanna

Listen to the songs and have happy holidays.. :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Delicious shutting down - Is it the end of free in freemium ?

Delicious shuts down: One free web service I use frequently is biting the dust. I joined quite late into the delicious party but after I got used to it, the delicious bookmarklet was the first bookmarklet on my browser. It was really very good and I used to refer back to those bookmarks to find  - something which I remember having read but can't remember now - articles. I am really sad to see it go. If you have used delicious and want to atleast back up all the bookmarks you have saved, you can export all those bookmarks here.

Other shutdowns of popular products:  I think lot of web services will start to feel the heat and web services which are not able to to monetize may shut down or start to charge for services. Google shut down its notebook service also which I was using. Now evernote has taken that place which has premium accounts and it is rumoured to be making good revenue.Evernote has raised a lot of money and after the growth of the company peaks, it also might want to terminate its non paying customers. Ning a company which provides custom social networks removed the option of free from its packages and all the existing customers were asked to pay up or leave.

Will everyone start charging for services now?  There are two ways that a company can continue to provide its services for free, if it is either acquired by a big company - read google or microsoft or if it makes good money either by charging for services or by ads. Lets consider one by one

 Selling to a big company : Picnik, Youtube, GrandCentral (google voice) & many other companies acquired by google are still providing services for free. That doesn't mean it will always be like that. The founders of those companies will become rich but there is no guarantee that the services will keep running.  Delicious is best example of what will be wrong with this approach.If the new company thinks it is useless or does not fit in with its agenda, it will shutdown. So no company whose motto is selling to another company can be trusted to remain functional for ever.

Money from ads: Companies can make money by serving ads on the site. This is popularized by google. Blogger, Youtube, GMail and all big google properties are subsidized this way. Though there is no danger of these being discontinued in the short term there are some threats to this approach too. Adblocker extension on Firefox and Chrome will block all ads on a web page and you have to whitelist certain sites to enable ads like I enabled google.com to see ads from that site. And how many people will take that pain of enabling those ads?  And Facebook is giving a good threat to google. Don't you think with all the facebook connect information can't facebook show ads on the pages which have activated Facebook Connect ? I think it is only a short time before facebook starts federating its ads. If google loses its relevance or lot of people switch to facebook ads, is it possible that Google can keep supporting bandwidth hogs like Youtube indefinitely. This raises a question which webservice can be trusted to run forever? Which brings us to the third way a company can make money

Charging for services:  Companies can earn money the old fashioned way by charging for services. Lot of companies already charge for services but I think we will see more and more companies starting to charge for services.

Not everyone will start charging for services. Notably all those places which can attract lot of eyeballs like facebook, youtube or google might always be free because by their nature the more people they can bring they earn more. So they might make more than they use and hence they can be free but more services where it is not possible to be subsidized by ads, the companies will charge for sure.

How different it is from freemium ?
The difference is that you will not get free servies indefinitely. Today even if you will not pay you can use tumblr to host your blog indefinitely. Evernote allows you to save notes indefinitely even if you never pay anything to use it within a limit. But the difference which i see it the services will become time-limited. So you can only try but not really use a service. You have to pay to use it. 


I am not saying this is true for  news or other data where the cost of incremental stuff is zero but for web services where each new free customer has a cost associated with him/her however small the cost might be.

Update: A cool service call trunk.ly is poised to replace delicious not in the same way but now a days, if we like something we just share it on twitter or facebook, not to delicious right. Trunkly indexes the links we share on twitter or facebook and is searchable.. So grab a spot for this here

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thoughts on seeing a person getting fired..

 Our QA person comes to office after a ten day vacation to a popular destination. He showed us the photos of his vacation. I and my colleague went through all the pics which were in hundreds. He was beaming showing us the pics saying that he was planning this vacation from a long time. I was very happy for him.

Little did we know that all that change on Monday. On monday he came to office as usual. Our CTO also came to office. He is a very busy person so he travels quite a lot. Generally our QA person comes to lunch with us. On Monday, we forget to call him when we went to lunch. When we were having lunch, my colleague Murali reminded me we forgot to invite him. I went inside after lunch and when i saw him I put a sorry face showing the expression that I forgot to call him for lunch. We opened our mailboxes and we were in for a shock. Our CTO sent a mail.  "We thank XX for his services to the company. He will no longer be part of our team effective immediately" (Emphasis mine). Yes thats it, by the time we saw the mail, we couldn't see that person. I called him and he said he was down stairs smoking. He said that it happened very casually. They said that his job was being performed from some other location and he would not be needed. He will be given one more pay check for 15 days (because he has completed two years, otherwise he will be given just one week pay) and then from there he is all by himself. The company has filed his visa, green card, so I think the person was pretty much committed to this company.

I was shell shocked with this incident. I have heard numerous times that Americans have a hire and fire policy. But I have never seen it in action so closely. The fact that it is done without any prior intimation and they way they just said - effective immediately- and closing all access (Laptop was taken) made me feel very bad. I for once felt very lucky that we were just contractors from a different company and so even if we were fired, we will be sent back to India. I really applaud my company for retaining everyone during the downturn even when it was difficult. I don't say that they have to keep every employee even if they don't have any work or however bad they are but I feel they should be given proper intimation as soon as the manager knows and not being so surgical (effective immediately) would be lot better.

This also shows the perils of coming on a H1 visa to the land of opportunities. Luckily our QA person's wife also works. So he can get by with her salary atleast. Imagine a person coming on H1 and losing his job. Even if it take just one month to get a new job, just imagine the stress he would be in till he gets a job. If intimated before, it goes a long way in making the transition easier and the employee is more likely to have a favorable view of the comapny. It is in the best interest of the employee as well as the employer for  the employer has to be more humane during this time.

Reminded of lot of things after this - Of the many things  the famous quote of Narayana Murthy of Infosys - "Love your job but not your company"  - well said by the man of experience. I am also reminded of what rude shocks you get when you are caught off guard by the company from the movie Up in the air. To know what I mean watch the video below

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Car Stories - Part 2 (My Adventures on U.S Roads)

I  have previously written about how car-addicted society U.S is here. Then I lamented about how I am not able to do anything because I don't have a car. So now I bought a car. I wrote about my first impressions about driving on U.S roads here. So these are some of my experiences driving the car in a utterly new country. I do know the rules - Stop at stop sign, maintain speed limit, yield and drive on right side of the road etc - or otherwise how could they have given me license.  Somethings which we take from granted in India cannot be done here and therein lies the problem.

Two big things which you cannot do here are - 1.  you cannot stop and ask anyone for directions (Actually nobody walks on the roads - so even if you tried to do this, you will find no one to ask. And if you really tried to go near someone - they might be afraid that you have guns and shoot you before you even speak a word) 2. You cannot stop on the road wherever you want or TURN BACK or other direction once you passed it. So even though I know these things, the effects of these are not so clear if you don't experience it. So without further ado, this is my story.

Story 1: Even before I bought my car, I wanted to visit the temple at Bridgewater once. I was just interested to see how different it is from our temples. So when I bought a car, I wanted to drive there. I didn't have a GPS set at that time, so I hesitated a bit. But the Google maps application on my phone came to my rescue. I put the address in the maps and followed the instructions and successfully reached the temple. I was happy that I was able to drive that far without any problems. So I was a little relaxed when I was going back. The temple is at Exit 17 (think mile marker 17, except that you can go out of the highway only at that place) and my home was at Exit 40 on I-287.  It is a four lane highway on one side i.e 8 lane highway. We can enter and exit only from the rightmost lane i.e the exit lane. I was travelling on the lane to the left of the exit lane till exit 39. I was happy that I was about to reach my home. Suddenly I saw that I was not going towards exit 40 but I am on a different highway I-80. Thank Google, my phone gps safely brought me back to my home. Later I realized that highways merge into other highways and if you are not careful you might go into some other road and you might have trouble reaching your destination. So I came back after half an hour I was supposed to come home.

Story 2:  My friend Murali is with me now and he started enjoying whenever I went on a wrong route and took a detour. Now my GPS has a penchant of choosing highways over local roads. I don't have a way of knowing the route beforehand in GPS and I will get the instruction only in time. Sometimes it can give you instructions too late and then.. read the story. There is a highway near to our road with number 46.  We wanted to go to a grocery shop on the highway where I haven't gone before. So I put in the address in the GPS and started going.  I expected it to take me to 46 directly but instead my GPS has a penchant for choosing highways even if the destination is a mile apart. So instead of taking me on the local highway 46, it gave me instructions to on I-80. As in previous story, I enter highway 280 which divides into highway I-80. My GPS asks to keep left so that I can merge into I-80. So i was in the left lane, I merged into I-80 in the second lane from left and I had to pass two more lanes to get into exit lane.   Two seconds after I merged to I-80 my GPS asks me to go the rightmost lane and exit in about a 100ft. How the hell can I just pass two lanes to the right without knowing it before hand. So I did as you expected. I missed the exit. As I cannot go back, I had to look for the next exit. I had to take and missed exit 47. The next exit was exit 53, 6 miles ahead. So I had to go all the way to exit 53 and go in a roller coaster, yes three lanes going right, two lanes to the left, two lanes forward, get out of the highway, turn back and come on to the highway and travel all the way 6 miles back again and I reached my starting point again. For a half an fifteen minutes journey it was already one hour and I was again at my starting point. I started again to go to the shop as I was determined to see if I can follow the instruction of the GPS. This time as I knew that I had to take exit 47, I cleared the lanes fast and reached the exit lane just in time. This taught me another lesson  - Never trust GPS blindly. Always review the route beforehand on google maps so that you will have an idea of where to take the next turn. Or be ready to travel 12 miles more for a grocery store nearby. To give you an idea of how superb the roller coaster ride was just see the image above.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fall colors post..!!!!

In India, during winter all leaves fall, but they just turn brown and then fall. But in U.S as in spring, there is again a riot of colors, yellow, red and orange and start falling down. Actually, all those colors are already present in the leaf because the green pigment, chlorophyll which is used in photosynthesis dominates. But with the nights becoming longer than days, the leaves fail to get enough sunlight to perform photosynthesis. So the plants try to shed the extra leaves and stop creating the green pigment used in photosynthesis. That is when we get to see the hidden colors in the leaves. Though you have to see it to enjoy it fully, I have captured a few pics which let you imagine the vibrance.


http://www.flickr.com/photos/thisisananth/tags/fall/show/

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Wow.. development is very interesting again..

I joined in my first job in 2006 and the first year of work was very interesting in that I learnt new things and discovered the wonder of programming. Then it started wearing off as the more I learnt for what was required in my job and got better at that. The learning began to plateau and so did the excitement to work. But it all changed  again and I find myself very excited to program and develop because of the development of smartphones. There are two factors for that.

Always on devices: Previously if we developed an software application, we have to have a system to use it. This would disqualify most of the people in our country because not everyone has a system. Even for those who have a system, they are not always in front of a computer. But the smartphone changes that. now we have a computer which is always on with lot of sensors in it which highly increases the number and variety of practical applications that could be built.

Accessible Development: Previously developing and releasing an application was a non-trivial thing. But now a days, development of a trivial application using android is a breeze and it is easy to release it and update it which makes it easy to develop an application and continously improve it. Though this may not be a big reason for people who are used to developing applications, I feel it has greatly lowered the barrier to entry for developing apps and it plays big role in making me jump into it.

So if you have any great ideas and want to implement it, then just dive in and start developing. If you are a good android developer and are interested in developing a cool app, get in touch with me  at thisisananth@gmail.com

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Car & Road

I got my first car last week, an old Toyota Corolla car and I am just driving to and from office.This is not a new fact but the roads here are amazing. Once I get on the highway, there are very very few interruptions and I can drive straight without looking for anyone coming from other side and that is a far more pleasant experience.




Its so great that they were able to plan 50 yrs ahead in 1960 when these higways were built. They are still quite good. May be I seem too pessimistic, but roads are one area where we don't have much hope when the chairman of the NHAI says it is not completely clean. Ofcourse nobody expected it to be clean anyway but all this has to change. Ofcourse, logical arguments like these never convinced anyone and I will write another post on it soon. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Music Post - 'Orange' comes to end the drought for good telugu songs

Harris Jayaraj is back with a bang. Orange album is very good both musically and lyrically. Generally most of hits are dubbed Tamil songs and always the lyrics are made to fit with the music and hence the authentic feel is lost. But this time with the songs directly in Telugu, they are much better. Listen the songs here. My favorite music streaming site has enabled embedding again. So it is time for celebration.

<p><a href="http://musicmazaa.com/telugu/audiosongs/movie/Orange.html?e">Listen to Orange Audio Songs at MusicMazaa.com</a></p>


Surely, it will increase the craze for the movie. If you want the lyrics for these head over to Sandy's blog here.
I will also write the lyrics for songs which I like most but for that I have to do some good listening :)

Enjoy the songs ...!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Why I am hopeful of a better government ?

"Idealism is what precedes experience, cynicism is what follows" 
I am going to tell a story about how I became a cynic from an idealist. Now, the fact that we have a bad government is nothing new. So, when I came to know that Dr Jayaprakash Narayan, an honest IAS officer is going to start a new party, I became overjoyed. I was so excited that finally, after years of waiting, a credible, honest and knowledgeable person was coming into politics. His policies seemed so sound, so coherent that I started rallying behind him with posts cheering him here. Little did I know that I was setting up myself for bitter disappointment. As the results of the general elections 2009 were declared, all my hopes of a good government crashed. I was down but not out. Why - Because in Lok Sabha elections, the number of educated people who vote is very less. So I thought if educated people really voted and more people are educated about the policies of Lok Satta, then surely we will have a good government. That is why I was even more excited when there was a call for Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections. The percentage of educated people will be more in Hyderabad city. Moreover, Lok Satta launched a unique campaign in the elections, saying that they will pay fine to the people if they didn't resolve people's complaints within a posted resolution time. With this I thought they will surely win in the elections. And when the results were announced how many Loksatta candidates do you think won?  Zero, nil, zich, no one...!!!! And that is when I became a cynic... If people fail to know what is right and what is wrong and when there is a chance for change also they will not utilize, then I didn't know how change can come...


And for a long time, I remained a cynic, convinced that no good change will come. The IPL fiasco, the CWG corruption only confirmed and made me more of a cynic regarding politics. Do you think I am peddling cynicism? No - and even I don't want to remain a cynic, but I didn't find a single hopeful thing to cling to then... But some things were happening around that again sort of gave me hope that all is not lost. So I am here not to make all of you cynics, but to show you rays of hope and ask you to reflect that.

The first thing that caught my attention was the website done by an NGO called Janaagraha, called http://ipaidabribe.com. Being a cynic, I was not at all convinced what change could a site like that where people who gave bribes were sharing their plight could change. Though I supported it whole heartedly, I was not hopeful of it changing anything. But I was pleasantly surprised by the success of the campaign. People started taking it seriously. One woman threatened a doctor who asked for bribe saying she will post his name in ipaidabribe.com and he backed down. More heartful news is that a transport commissioner gave show cause notices to twenty of the traffic commissioners whose name had surfaced in compliants on IPAB.

The second thing which showed that people are thinking about the problems and people are thinking of doing something when I heard the speech of Siddharth at TIE Connect 2009.


Though the speech was given in 2009, I saw it recently and was really impressed by the solutions he proposes.He talked about lot of things like the smaller attention span of our generation, the lack of ability of any person to make a difference, the lack of records of facts but what really hit me was the fact that we need to glamorize good government. We are in a time when it is very difficult to concentrate on one thing. We hve constants interruptions with twitter, facebook etc. So we have an attention deficit. Thats why we tend to forget quickly.Hence we need to keep the discussion going and keep this always in front of the people. The fact that people are talking about it and thinking of solutions makes me hopeful. And as he said media is wasting a golden opportunity by not taking the chance to lead from front for this.

And this brings me to the next thing that makes me hopeful of that. I saw someone implementing a suggestions given by Siddharth, one person using his glamour and influence to talk about problems facing India and how government is responsible for that which automatically leads to selection of better politicians. SS Rajamouli is a movie director who hasn't given an flop in the industry. And thats why he is the director with the most craze in the industry. When he talks about something, people in AP listen. And he is utilizing his influence and craze to talk about problems facing India and discussing the solutions for them. It is a program called 'Come On India' in Telugu. The links are here if you would like to watch it. In this episode he talks about the healthcare system in India. It is a fact that if we get any health problems in India, government hospitals are hopeless and private hospitals attach unknown diseases to us to get as much money as possible. So it is a very important issue. He talks about the better systems all around the world and what changes are required for improving the situation in our country and responsibility of everyone involved, the government, the doctors and citizens. I am sure whoever has watched it has understood how better it could be and how can we get that.

With all these changes happening around us, it is not difficult to be hopeful of better days isn't it. So will it magically happen? No, there is more responsibility on us to spread the awareness, talk about issues and take a strong stand wherever required. So however you can, facebook, twitter, blogs, movies, videos, short films, tv programmers whatever you want to make, whatever discussions you want to have, keep the discussions going and spread the word, I am sure, we will live to see days with better governments and a happier and developed India. Jai Hind.

PS Thanks to friends  Saandeep, Bikram and wisedonkey for keeping the discussions going.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Book Recommendation - The Switch

Cover of "Switch: How to Change Things Wh...Cover via AmazonI completed reading a book called 'The Switch' written by Dan Heath and Chip Heath. It is a very well written book. It is a book about making change when it is difficult. If you want to quit smoking, but aren't unable to do it or if you are in a legacy industry whose competitiveness is threatened by internet and want to make difficult changes, this book lays out a very clear way for making the change.

When we know that we have to change, then we feel that we have enough reason to change and we can easily navigate the change. But if you have tried to change anytime, you would have observed that it is not that easier. To understand it, the authors have used  a model. Assume a rider riding on top of an elephant. Your analytical mind is the rider. You know all the facts about why to change, what to change. The emotional or feelings part of mind is the elephant. So for your analytical mind to make the change, you have to ride the inertia and emotions. But imagine if you can have strong emotions for change, then riding the elephant would become a breeze in the right environment. Right environment is the third factor. Suppose you have to make an elephant go uphill. It is a difficult task but if you make a clear road in the way, it would be easier for the elephant to go.
 Lets take an example here. Consider some person is trying to quit smoking. He knows why it is important to quit smoking but he doesn't have sufficient motivation to quit. Now assume, he imagines how happy his wife would be and how much good it is for his kids, then he gets motivated. He then decides he will quit smoking. He goes the whole morning without smoking but after lunch he couldn't control his feelings to smoke. Then he can make it easier for him to quit it by scheduling meetings right after lunch so that he needn't have any time to go and smoke.
So change consists of three parts, they are

1. Shape the path: They have to clear the path or environment for change - For eg, if you want to eat healthy food, other junk food should first be thrown off your shelves. You should fill it with fresh fruits and vegetables. etc.

2. Direct the rider: There are two parts in our brain. One that is emotional and doesn't do what it has to even though it knows. It is swayed by emotion. They call it the elephant. Other part is rational brain which analyses and comes at the right decision. This is called the rider.  They say that due to many alternatives, the rider comes into analysis-paralysis mode and is confused. To overcome this problem, the rider should be directed correctly.

3. Motivate the elephant: As told above, even though when we rationally know what the right decision is, most of the time we fail to see through it if the emotional part of brain, the elephant is not motivated enough. So the elephant should be motivated.

Head over to my book reviews blog here to read a summary of various ways in which you can make harder change easily.
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Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Bed-'Buggy' Story

Bedbug
Image via WikipediaLot of apartments in US are infested with bed bugs. I didn't know this fact and hence I stayed in a room which had bed bugs for three months. I didn't realize it for first two months, but I felt that something was biting me and disturbing me in sleep. After a few days, I found some on my bed and thats how I discovered them. The apartment people came and treated it for bugs. Luckily I had to shift to another place after this. This place didn't have bed bugs or atleast I didn't see them initially. But after one month, I observed bed bugs on the bed of this room too. I thought even this apartment had bugs and was cursing about how bad it is that U.S people had to put up with bed bugs.
I wondered why we don't have bed bugs in India. I found out that because of the high temperatures in India, they don't survive and hence we didn't have this menace. See how lucky we are that sun shines all round saving us from these bugs. First some bed bug facts:

Bed bugs are small bloodsucking insects that feed on humans & other warm-blooded animals.
•Bed Bugs often hide in mattresses but they can also survive in furniture, behind wall coverings and pictures/paintings. They will crawl and nest inside tiny crevices anywhere indoors, as long as there is a source of food (blood).
•While bed bugs do not transmit any pathogens or diseases, their bites usually result in swollen red, itchy welts.
•Bed bugs are typically nocturnal insects (they creep about at nightime).
•There are other types of bed bugs including the bat bug, the chimney swift bug and the swallow bug. All of these relatives survive on blood feeding, however these secondary parasites thrive on either bats or birds as their primary victims.
•Small reddish or brownish spots on one’s linens are often the first sign of an infestation. These spots are the bed bug’s droppings. Another sign is swelling where you’ve been bitten.
•Bed bugs are not necessarily a sign of unkempt/dirty homes or buildings.
•A female bed bug can lay as many as 500 eggs during her lifetime.
•Bed bugs are less than 1/4″ in length, flat, and oval-shaped like; a bit like a sunflower seed.
•Bed bugs can go up to a year without a blood meal
•A bed bug’s saliva features an anesthetic to numb the pain as it’s biting. It also contains anti-coagulant to keep the blood of it’s meal host flowing.
Furniture that is inspected should be inspected thoroughly. Remove pull out drawers and inspect any and all small creases and openings.
Taking apart furniture is often advised you want to get at the source of the bed bugs infestation. Doing this in a garage or outdoors is preferred if possible.
The covering on the bottom a box spring bed should be taken off for inspection and treatment measures. If the infestation is severe, you may want to dispose of the mattress.
Bed bugs are many times also found underneath the edges carpets, where ceilings and walls meet, behind light switch covers and outlets, in clothes, inside appliances, and behind baseboards and carpet stays.
If possible, it is usually recommended that you hire a professional pest control company. They will know where and how to look for bed bug infestations and will have the equipment required to remove the critters. Homeowners should get rid of any clutter (boxes, clothing, papers and junk) in order to help the process.
It often takes a professional 4-6 hours to do a thorough inspection and initial treatment. Please be advised that additional inspections and treatments are usually necessary.
Bed bugs infested bedding materials and cloths will need to be thoroughly cleaned. Take them to a laundry mat if you don’t want to bed bugs in your washer and dryer. But never use insecticides on materials that would come in contact with your body. Also, if you have pets, be sure to understand the possible affects chemicals may have on them.
A thorough vacuuming effectively removes both bed bugs and their eggs from mattresses, walls, and carpeting. Special attention should be given to creases and crevices. Be sure to get rid of the vacuum bag/contents in a sealed garbage bag. A professional hot water carpet extraction is also recommended if possible. More information at http://www.bed-bug.org/

So what happened to me: Actually I should have reported that I found bed bugs, but as my previous apartment I thought they were common everywhere. But now I had to move to a different place again. I had paid a deposit of 500$ to my previous apartment which I should get back on moving. But what happened was that my apartment owner was slapped a $600 fine for having bed bugs in his house and because of that - he says I was responsible for bed bugs in his home - a claim which I cannot prove. But he has refused to give me back my deposit. Ohh..these bloody suckers, I mean the bed bugs, have not only sucked my blood, but also my hard earned money. So now I have to carefully observe if something happens in this new apartment too, lest I lose my deposit again. So all those people who dream of coming to US beware of bed bugs. Always make sure, where ever you stay doesn't have bed bugs and report bugs the first instance you see them. This will make your stay as well as everyone's stay pleasant.
                                                                                                                                  
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Friday, September 24, 2010

If you are like me, go and install this to 'StayFocusd'

If you are like me, refreshing news.google.com or news.ycombinator.com or any of your favorite site atleast every five minutes to see what new has come there so much so that you don't even know where your time has gone, then I have found the ultimate solution.
If you are using Google Chrome (I don't think there is a better browser than that out there. If you haven't tried it yet, go download it here.  And go to the extensions gallery. It is like addons for Firefox and install the StayFocusd extension here.

With this you can set the add the sites which you think you waste most of your time on or on which you can't close the browser on, add those to the blocked sites list in this. And it will do the rest. You can have a ten minutes of time or configurable amount of time where all the sites in the list will be available. After that they will be blocked. You may worry that even in the evening or during the time away from work also these sites will remain blocked. There is a  solution for that also. Here are the options available

You can set various options like active days (to exclude weekends), active hours, daily reset time, allowed sites and even nuclear option - in which you can just specify which sites to allow. It will block everything else. Smart people might think that they can just increase the time when the feel that time is getting completed for the day. But they have factored such things also, the changes don't take effect till the next day. So you are completely blocked. 

Ofcourse you can close the browser and open another browser like IE or firefox but after using chrome, I am not liking to use chrome. 

Other cool extensions:
Other cool extensions which have made my life easier are Awesome Screenshot  which helps you to capture screenshots and annotate them and IE Tab. IE Tab is very useful to open some sites which are still in the dark ages and open properly only in IE. Actually we could boycott them but not using outlook web access if you work in an IT company is not possible. So IE Tab has finally blocked the final reason which I used to open IE. If you use an android phone, and you thought typing something on the url bar of phone browser is a pain, we have LinkPush extension which just pushes the link from your chrome browser to your phone. Amazing I say. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Interview with a half-marathon runner

Marine of the United States Marine Corps runs ...
Image via WikipediaMy current cubicle lifestyle is not giving me enough exercise.  So I tried joining a gym and even went to it a few times ;) But then my friend who used to take to the gym got transferred and I was unable to go the gym due to the car addicted society here. So when I saw that my cousin Shiva (@nitturis )  was running 15 Kms a day and even completed a half marathon, I was interested. I though this would be a perfect anti-dote to my exercise starved body. So I  had an interview with him regarding how he got started up and when kept him going .

A: What was the motivation for getting started? 
Shiva (S) : I was overweight, and even more by brother's son who was just 15 yrs old was even more overweight. So initially my aim was to make him lose some weight and I thought, even I am not fit. So it will help me too. So that was the motivation for it all 

A: So how did you get started. What did you do before getting started? 
S: The main thing is to run. Initially the idea should be to complete a particular distance, say 5 KM. And then start running. Don't worry if you are not able run continuously, just focus on completing the distance. Stop if you have to - for some time but still complete the distance. If you are tired, walk for sometime. Initially, on the first day you may feel very tired and you will feel a lot of pain. But next day, don't ignore, just run. And from the third day, surely you will feel better and it will not be that painful. Also a good advice for a starter is that you should not expect any results for 3 to 4 months

A: Is there anything which we have to do after a run?
S: Yes you can do a few things so that you will be fit for running the next day. Basically to prevent cramps, you can do some stretching exercises. You can do yogasanas for stretching yourself. Well, actually the surya namaskars fit the bill perfectly. It will stretch you and you will become fit also. 

A: What are the dietary suggestions you have?
S: You have to drink more water as you will be dehydrated easily. You have to take more juices. Drink juice without ice and without sugar. If you need to sweeten it, try to use some honey. Also try to avoid rice at night and eat rotis. Also avoid coffee as it will decrease your stamina. Add more proteins into your food. If you are a vegetarian like me, dry fruits are good source of proteins in your diet.

A: Any other general advice for being to run successfully?
S: It all boils down to your motivation level. Aim for a 10K run. Join a running club. Get some company so that you can motivate each other. Buy an iPod, so that you will not feel bored to run. Always try to run. Also maintain good sleep  habits. Actually the sleep will come by itself because you will have been tired.Also have the right attire. Sweat shirt and shorts would be ideal. 

Thanks to Shiva for the interview. It has given me a good feel of what it takes to run.


So if any of my readers are also runners and have some tips for me or queries which I can ask my cousin are most welcome.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Updates & Touching Love Stories

Hi friends,
It is some time since I updated my blog. I was busy preparing for my driving test. If you have read my previous posts aka car stories here about US, you know that living without a car in the suburbs is very difficult. So I was eagerly  awaiting my driving test after which I can buy a car. But unfortunately, I failed in the test. I practiced generally without markings and without seeing how a test track looks like for a parallel parking. So when I went in for the test the area was far smaller than what I have imagined, so I couldn't park in the cramped space to be declared 'Failed' . So I have to endure another month of waiting before I can buy my car.

Another interesting thing - We all love stories.. So my friend Sandy has written some beautiful love stories and he has published them. So go read them and have a good time. You can download the pdf here

I liked the geeks love story and the story of Akash and Akshaya.
So go ahead and download the story and let him know your feedback.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A suggestion for Gmail Team - Update

Gmail's logoImage via WikipediaCouple of weeks back, I wrote a post outlining a suggestion to the GMail team to delete the social network notifications. Though the exact feature is not available, I have found another plugin to gmail which first sorts all of those notifications into a label, so that you can select all and delete. This way you don't need to first write filters for orkut, facebook and twitter separately. And the plugin, also neatly labels most of the low priority emails neatly into categories like social networking, groups, news, shopping etc, so that your main inbox is not cluttered.  The plugin is Other Inbox. Go try it out  at www.otherinbox.com. Have a less cluttered inbox.
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~Kindness~


~Kindness~, originally uploaded by Jt's JuNk.

I discovered one interesting fact about myself. That I am arrogant - not very much but a little - but not very little, not to hurt anyone. It hit me when I read the story told by the founder of Amazon.com, Jeff Bezos. It goes like this

On a long road trip with his beloved grandparents, a 10-year-old Bezos decided to impress his grandmother with his talents for calculations, informing her that her intensive cigarette smoking would take nine years off her life. When instead of praising his mathematical prowess, she wept, his grandfather took him aside and gave him one of the great lessons of his life.
"My grandfather looked at me, and after a bit of silence he gently and calmly said, 'Jeff, one day you'll understand that it's harder to be kind than clever,'" Bezos said. Cleverness is a gift, Bezos told the graduates, and kindness is a choice. 

So how many times have we done that? Are you using your kindness to help people or are you making them feel bad by showing it off in the wrong moment? I think unknowingly, I have done such thing -It feels very natural to do when it seems like commonsense to you. But we should remember to -
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle. - Plato.
It is easy to be right or clever, but it is difficult to be kind. But life will be a little more frictionless, if we are kinder. If only we are a little sensitive, the world looks and becomes more loving and tender.

My sins against gender stereotypes!!

This post is a tag from Sandy. It is about whether you have committed any sins against gender stereotypes - like liking some womanly things if you are a man.
The Rules are 

If you are a woman,
Have you ever wanted something that is considered ‘manly’ ? Like a basketball, a cell phone, a dog, a camera or a new laptop? A new car or motor bike? Ever wanted to be a pilot? A doctor or not a nurse? And the manliest want of them all – The remote! As a kid did you enjoy playing with a bat and a ball?
There was a time when books were considered ‘manly’, women authors had to pretend to be men – would you say books are still rather manly – women should want to embroider and crochet?

If you are a man, 
Have you ever wanted something that only women are supposed to want – like bags, shoes, clothes, creams, perfumes, babies, flowers? A peaceful home and a happy family? Have you ever been afraid of the dark or of insects?As a kid did you ever want to play ‘teacher-teacher’, cooking or did you like playing with a doll? Have you ever enjoyed cooking? Bought something in pink? Loved chocolates?


-- the rules are copied from Gaurav's blog.
So here I go
I am not a big fan of shopping except buying what is needed.
I love being in nature and hence I like flowers a lot. You can see my posts on beautiful U.S spring here.
Ofcourse, babies are innocent and I like that innocence and cuteness of babies a lot.
I am amazed that having a peaceful home and a happy family is just a gender stereotype. I think everybody wants it.
Though I can't say I love cooking, I do cook on a need basis :)
So there is no one I can pass the tag to as my friends except Sandy  have stopped blogging.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Neethone Aaagena Sangeetham - Lyrics - Rudraveena

This is a song sung by K.J Yesudas in the movie Rudraveena starring Chiranjeevi. Amazing song, you can listen to it here.

Here I am writing only the lyrics.. without the swaras and sarigama
Let me know if there are any  mistakes, as I just listened and wrote this song. My friend Sandy asked for it.

SO here it is...

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa……

neethone aagena sangeetham..bilahari...
neethone aagena sangeetham..

bilahari ani piluvakunte...swara vilasam marchukunte..aaripodu gaanajyothi..
 neeethone aagena sangeetham...

////////

saagarala raagahela aagi poyi moogadauna…
sagarala raagahela aagi poyi moogadauna…
yugaluga jagana  daari chupaga anantamaina kaanthi dhara posina
akhandamai prabhakarudu jvalinchada nirantharam
akhandamai prabhakarudu jvalinchada nirantharam....

neethone aagena sangeetham…

////////

vihanga swanala dhvaninchu raagam edi... taranga swarala janinchu geetham edi..
vihanga swanala dhvaninchu raagam edi... taranga swarala janinchu geetham edi..

kali gonthu nerchukunna gaana saasthra grandhamedi…ye gnanam aaa naadam

Peruleka pedadouna... mrovutunna vaana veena…
Peruleka pedadouna... mrovutunna vaana veena…
alankarinchi saagutunna velalo,
Yedari paalu kaada gnanavahini..
vinamrathe tyajinchithe  vishadame phalam kada..
vinamrathe tyajinchithe  vishadame phalam kada…
... neethone aagena sangeetham…maga padha neethone…

///////////////////////

neethone aagena sangeetham..bilahari...
neethone aagena sangeetham..

bilahari ani piluvakunte...swara vilasam marchukunte..aaripodu ganajyothi..
neeethone aagena sangeetham...

(Thanks to Ravi Kiran for the lyrics)

English translation of this song: 
Context: Bilahari Ganapati sastri (BGS) is a famous singer, who created the Bilahari raga and which was added to his name in his honor.He has a student who loves his daughter. He doesn't want to accept his the marriage,  he has to accept as his daughter went too far with him. In the marriage of his daughter, when his son-in-law says that -after the marriage he shouldn't sing this song again in public with Bilahari raaga to insult him. Then Chiranjeevi, Bilahari sastri's son enters the stage and sings this song defending his father.



Will this music stop with you .. Bilahari...
Will this music stop with you

Even if bilahari is not sung,
Even if different tune is used,
the lamp of knowledge doesn't stop burning,
Will this music stop with you..

will the music of the seas ever stop
will the music of the seas ever stop
Even after guiding through the ages by giving us infinite light,
doesn't the sun shine brightly even incessantly?
doesn't the sun shine brightly even incessantly? Will this music stop with you?

What is the raga in the sound of the skies? What is the song sung by the waves?
Where the book of music you learnt from Kali? which talam is that nadam ??

will the playing divine veena become poor because it doesn't have any name?
will the playing divine veena become poor because it doesn't have any name?
when it is transcending the worlds, doesn't it become like an oasis in the desert?
When you leave your humility, sadness will result
When you leave your humility, sadness will result

Will this music stop with you ??

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My New Android Smartphone - Samsung Vibrant Galaxy S

I was thinking of buying an android phone from long time. I was very close to buying Droid X phone. But I was not sure if I will be able to honor the two yr contract I would have to take had I bought it from Verizon. The contract breakage charge was restrictively high. When I learnt that T-mobile was offering Samsung Galaxy phone with a lesser contract breakage and for a lesser cost, I jumped at it and lapped it up. I received the phone yesterday and I have been playing with it from then.
It feels amazing to use it. It is very light and it has 4 inches AMOLED screen which is very bright. You can really watch videos on it and they feel real. The touchscreen experience is also very good. After using the scroller where you just do a scrolling motion with your finger, my previous experience of clicking a button to scroll down would just doesn't appeal anymore. I am not attempting a review here. I am just listing the facts which I liked. The concept of home screens is good. Whatever you want you can create a shortcut on the homescreen and without going to menu inside menu, you can just click it from there. It comes close to a laptop experience rather than a phone experience.
All google applications like GMail, Maps, Talk  are very well intergrated into the phone. Though typing is not very easy, with Swype application practice, you can type without much effort. Phone is good and it syncs contacts from google so it is amazing. It syncs photos from picasa etc. So whatever photos are there in picasa you can directly view here.
One special application I loved is the Amazon Kindle application. The experience of reading a book is very very good. I already read a novel Gone Green on the phone. I definitely see myself reading more books on the phone.
5 mp camera is very very good. The clarity of the pictures is amazing. The calendar app is synced with google calendar and it will give me reminder of events from google calendar also. I think this is very useful in staying organized and it would definitely increase my productivity. One more thing which I love is the voice search app. You just have to speak into the phone your search query instead of typing and it works very well. Very very useful.
On the flip side, the screen has the full original resolution i.e 960x800 px and the photos you set a wallpapers don't automatically get re sized as in other feature phones and you have to select an area which you want to set as wallpaper. This fact will take some time getting used to. Also there are no good telugu songs streaming apps for Android. Raaga.com has an application for iPhone but not for Android I don't like that fact. But they have a  mobile website which uses flash. Android 2.2 has flash but the version of android on my phone is just 2.1. Samsung says it will update to 2.2 by end of this year so hopefully I should be able to stream songs on my phone directly.
Update 1: The battery life is not really great. But if you play a lot with the phone, it will get discharged pretty soon. For normal usage you can get by with charging once a day, but if you want to browse on it or play games on it, I think you cannot use it more than 6-7 hrs continuously. It seems the display is taking most of the battery. So I switched to reading books in white letters on black screen instead of the default black letters on white screen.
On the whole, very satisfied with the phone.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A suggestion for Gmail Team

Image representing Gmail as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBaseMy Gmail Inbox looks like a trash box with more emails from subscribed newsletters or notifications from different web-services than from real persons :)
Notifications are basically worthless after the use. One person has commented on you blog from disqus. XXX has written on your wall from Facebook. You account balance is xxx from Bank Of America. You get the point. The message is not worth after it is read. Ofcourse, Gmail used to say - "Who wants to delete an email with this much storage?" But now they have provided a delete button.
My suggestion is that they should have an easy way to delete all the notifications after 15 days or 30 days after we get them. They can create a addon for that or they can create a template service which can delete the notifications, but it requires the user to add the  notification sender email to the list. This way user will have control over what notifications he wants to delete and what he wants to keep. I think it will help a lot in keeping the inbox a lot less cluttered and the volume of email manageable.
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Sunday, August 8, 2010

What education in school should be...

I feel that education should help us discover ourselves and a good value based education to be the solution for lot of the ills plaguing the world. 
I discovered a wonderful article on the mindset of children at gayatrivantillu searching for some recipes. I was amazed with that and I reproduce the whole article verbatim here.

Can we really provide what our Child wants?



Following are the two articles which appeared in Hindu a new paper in India. Reading both these articles would definitely make us ponder on the captioned topic.

============================================================

Inumella Sesikala in Hindu dated 08/11/09
Amma, I don’t want to go to school.
I am just a child, Ma. I want someone to tell me stories and teach me. I want to watch tadpoles and butterflies and know what they eat, where they sleep. I want to climb a hill and catch a cloud to see what it is made of.
I want to wait with my hands in the stream and feel the fish swimming.
I want to run with the puppies, sing with the birds, and play with paper-boats in the rain.
I want to lie down on the soft green grass and hear the wind whisper.
Only then I want to learn more about them from the printed word.
Only after my imagination is fired, my thirst to know more has begun, a seed of ‘Why?’ is planted in my brain.
Amma, I feel trapped in the prison-like classroom. I feel my spirit slowly weakening with the monotonous teaching. Often, when I ask a basic question our teachers say, “No time for all that. Let us finish the syllabus.”
I get tired of studying just for marks without pausing to truly understand.
I want to go to the museum with my classmates and hear my teacher explain the stories of the artefacts.
I want plenty of nature trips where real Biology classes would be held.
I want to see colourful videos of volcanic eruptions and deep-sea dwellings.
I want our whole school to visit together the historic and cultural places in my city.
I want to learn astronomy after looking through a telescope once.
I don’t want to just read them in my textbooks; I want to see, hear, touch, smell and taste whatever I can. I want to experience.
Why can’t the school make at least one such trip every year?
And, I cannot stoop down anymore to carry my school sack. My back is ready to break. Why should I carry all the books everyday? Why can’t we have only two subjects per day? Or, why don’t we have lockers like in the Western schools? And, why should I squeeze in that over-crowded auto?
But, Amma, growing up no longer seems to be fun. I see only more of homework, winter projects, summer classes, weekly tests, monthly tests, quarterly, half-yearly and annual exams, external competitive exams, more tests, more competitions, more pressure, more stress…
When can I sing, paint, dance, swim, or cycle?
When I can just play cricket or even hide-and-seek?
What happened to that minimum sleep that you always say a child needs?
Why should I always study, study?
Amma, I am scared of increasing atrocities by untrustworthy teachers, ragging-raving seniors, acid-loving nuts, perverted adults…
Ma, right now, I don’t want to be a doctor, engineer or anything else.
I just want to feel safe and secure, play and learn without any stress before I become an adult like you.
I only want to enjoy my childhood, Ma.
=======================================
The former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, writes in Hindu dated 12/11/09:
I was happy to see the article “I only want to enjoy my childhood, ma” by Inumella Sesikala (Open Page, Nov. 8). I liked the article very much, which is a dream of every child. Creativity of children has to come out from the classroom. Some of us had such opportunities. Our children should go to primary school only at the age of six. Till then, we have to promote creativity of the children with great teachers and an innovative classroom environment.
Yesterday, when I was reading the book Spiritual Intelligence, The Ultimate Intelligence by Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall, I came across the poem, “ The Student’s prayer.”
“The young son of a Chilean biologist, Umberto Maturana, became unhappy at school because he felt his teachers were making it impossible for him to learn. They wanted to teach him what they knew, rather than drawing out what he needed to learn. As a result Maturana wrote “ The Student’s Prayer”, of which this translation is an abridged version. It perfectly expresses the spiritually intelligent individual’s response to the conforming pressures of parents, teachers, bosses or the crowd.
The Student’s Prayer
Don’t impose on me what you know,
I want to explore the unknown
And be the source of my own discoveries.
Let the known be my liberation, not my slavery.
The world of your truth can be my limitation;
Your wisdom my negation.
Don’t instruct me; let’s walk together.
Let my richness begin where yours ends.
Show me so that I can stand
On your shoulders.
Reveal yourself so that I can be
Something different.
You believe that every human being
Can love and create.
I understand, then, your fear
When I ask you to live according to your wisdom.
You will not know who I am
By listening to yourself.
Don’t instruct me; let me be.
Your failure is that I be identical to you.”
I thought, there is a connectivity among young hearts even beyond ocean — “I only want to enjoy my childhood, ma” and “The Student’s Prayer.”


It gives an amazing clarity about how teaching school kids should be. 
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