Saturday, October 30, 2004

Vaikom Ferry

Vaikom Ferry

This was shot at Vaikom Ferry, Kerala. I know its too much water for one photograph, but this was actually part of a 5 photograph panorama I was trying to create. However, I was never able to stitch them together perfectly. I'll probably compose the entire image someday and post it here. But for now, this single photograph looked really appealing

More On The Firefox NYT Ad Campaign

The NYT campaign is now closed. Great job, Rob Davis! The ad should run in the papers anytime between November and December.

An average of $22 was contributed by each individual - mostly students. More than 10,000 people contributed about $250,000 for the $50,000 ad. The rest of the money goes to the Mozilla Foundation, which will hopefully be pumped into making Firefox even better for us.

Red Herring has the complete story.

Firefox Does It Again

You wanted it be good, and it turned out to be the best. You wanted it to be cheap, and it turned out to be free. You wanted it be easy to use, and it turned out to challenge the biggest players in the market. It has defied all the traditional opinions held of open source software. And how!

Then came the Firefox NY Ad Campaign. They targetted collections from about 2,500 individuals and businesses to support a first-ever full-page advertisement in a major daily newspaper created and paid for by the open-source community. At the moment, they have received 9,613 names in that list of contributors.

It seems like everything Firefox does is now historic! I'm waiting for the official Firefox 1.0 Final Release launch. I might even go for one of their launch parties here in Mumbai.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Happy Birthday, Internet!

The Internet turns 35 this month (via). I jumped on the Internet bandwagon the year it started in India which must have been about 15 years ago. As I see it now, it will be the way I earn my daily bread for years to come - web design or otherwise. It wouldn't be an overstatement to say this is probably the most significant invention of man since the wheel. Happy birthday, Internet!

Link Bin

It's time again to clear my bookmarks. This time I'll just list it all out.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Little Not-So-Green Men

Oh my God, the Hobbits are here! And ABC, CBS, BBC, even NatGeo is talking about it. (via)

P.S.: Parts of Blogger were down today, and my site was affected big time! I hope everything is back to normal now. Sorry for the interruption.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Two Small Changes

Two small changes in the sidebar of my site.

  1. I've added a "Subscribe with Bloglines" link under my 'Syndicate' sub-heading.
  2. I've added a "Take back the web" banner at the bottom of my sidebar to do my bit to promote Firefox.
Hope you like the changes. Hope you find them useful.

Update (29th Oct): Added a "Add to My Yahoo!" link too to the sidebar.

Why The Future Is In The Browser

Why I think web applications are the future of application development. Read the full post.
Consider the current problems with application software, like say popular word processing software or spreadsheet software. Here’s what you’ll have to do to churn out a file.
  • Buy the software from your vendor. Get it in the form of a CD or a download. Ensure compatibility with your operating system and hardware.
  • Install the software. Pray that everything goes well.
  • Create your document.

Maybe you will want to now send this file to a printer. Or you want to e-mail it to someone. Or you want to upload it on the Internet for someone to view. Or maybe you just want to keep a copy on a CD or a floppy (do people still use those?) so that you can carry it around. That only complicates the problem. Here are more issues you have to worry about.
  • Will the guy you are sending the file to have the same software you would need to read that file?
  • Will his version be the same as yours? We know that sometimes versioning problems downgrade certain document features. Will that affect your document in case of a version conflict?
  • How will you actually send the file? E-Mail? So, you’ll have to upload the entire file? What if it is a huge file?
  • Is it really necessary to carry a CD or a floppy just so that you can access your file anywhere, especially when we have the Internet almost everywhere?
  • Now that multiple copies are created of the document, what if I make a change to one copy? How do I update the other people’s copies of the document? By going through this process again? Gosh!

Applications that run on networks have their own set of problems:
  • Every computer runs its own copy of the software. Ask any network administrator, and he’ll tell you what a maintenance nightmare that is.
  • Every computer needs its own copy, which you’ll have to buy from the vendor. Why pay so much? Is it really necessary?
  • When more documents have to be exchanged, as is the case is most networks, versioning, synchronizing and managing space and bandwidth consumed by multiples copies of the documents start becoming problems.

Almost all these problems are subverted in web applications. If your favorite application was a web application, all you had to do was fire up your browser and create your document. No installation. No problems about compatibility with your operating system or your hardware. Just your browser. And any good application will support at least the most popular modern browsers.

Imagine you have created your document in such a web application and saved it online. You can just send people a link to your document, much like you would send them a link to your briefcase from where they can download your document. On clicking on the link, instead of the user downloading the file to see it in his software, the document directly loads in his browser. He doesn’t need any software installed. So there’s no question of compatibility problems. The web application itself could display the document through its "reader" so that it can parse and render the document as required on the browser window itself using regular markup.

There’s in fact, at any given time, only one active version of the application – the one that runs on the web server. Since there’s really only one application that’s running, maintenance is a breeze. Also, there is only one necessary copy of the document you create, so versioning of the document is not necessary, and changes made can be instantly available to everyone who sees your document. What’s better, your file lies on the Internet (or on the network) and is hence totally portable between computers, as long there is a connection.

I agree a lot of applications cannot be converted to web applications. Examples include multimedia applications, or system applications which depend a lot on hardware and system resources to render their files or otherwise carry out processing. However, almost all other applications don’t really need local system resources that much, and can be run off a browser instead.

This wasn’t really possible up until now, because the browser simply wasn’t good enough an environment to run complex applications in. However, this is fast changing. Applications like GMail are just the first few of these applications to be rolled out. I only see more and more of these kinds of applications running off the network and the Internet web servers, letting us do our word processing, spreadsheets, accounting and various kinds of business logic based processing, while letting us exchange our work seamlessly without worrying about versioning, file transfer, compatibility and faulty or incompatible installations.

In the future, you won’t have to install software at all. You will just have to go to your browser, type in the URL and start using the application right off your browser. It’s where we are headed, like it or not. And I think I am going to love it.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Highway Lights

Highway Lights

This is from my archives, again. Shot with a 2 second exposure at night with a speeding truck going past on the National Highway while I was standing by my uncle's house in Mahe, Kerala.

All The Lumber

"I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones."

- Sherlock Holmes to John Watson
A Study In Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I don't know why I am posting this, but it is one of the most memorable lines I have ever read in a book, so I thought I'd share.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Let's Change The Topic

I'm sick and tired too of the Markup Wars. Someone, please change the topic!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Shake That Booty

I was randomly flicking my television remote today, and stopped longer than my usual 2 seconds on some vague channel that was airing Blue Streak, and I thought that while we are still on the topic of movies on my blog, I’d make a post of the best dances I’ve seen in the movies. Here’s a list of my personal favorites, in no particular order.

  • John Travolta and Olivia Newton - John in Grease
  • John Travolta again, with Uma Thurman dancing at the Jack Rabbit Slim’s Twist Contest in Pulp Fiction
  • Martin Lawrence doing the jig outside the cop station in Blue Streak
  • Richard Gere doing the Tap Dance in Chicago
  • Chairman Carr and Dan Truhitte dancing in the gazebo on “I am sixteen, going on seventeen” in The Sound Of Music
These are the ones I can think of off the top. What are your favorites? I’d like to know.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Heat About Fahrenheit 9/11

I definitely recommend Fahrenheit 9/11 for those who have no idea whatsoever about the story behind Prez. Bush, the Saudi oil companies and the economics of war. But most of us know the story already. So, basically, the target audience for this movie is, well, no one!

The style in which Michael Moore handled the subject isn't very graceful. I think he had NO point to make in the movie. He starts by talking about the Bush Administration, then about Saudi funds, then about the Iraq war and in the second half of the movie, he trails off into a boring Oprah Winfrey style personal account of a (yes, fat) woman (with a lot of make-up) who lost her son in the war. Don't get me wrong - I have the deepest sympathies for the martyrs of the war. But I was really in the mood for catching up on the director's view of the 9/11 attacks - you know, the World trade center, NYC, what it must have been like for the people there, about the planes, the hijackers, stuff like that (of which, there was surprisingly little), and not seeing a fat woman with her equally oversized husband and her entire family sitting on their living room couch and crying away for half an hour in the movie. Really!

The only action in the movie was the argument with the lady sitting in front of me, complaining that my legs were digging into her ass. When she started getting REALLY vocal about it, I kindly suggested she should have told me earlier, and I'd have stopped.

She: Why do you think I was looking at you?

Oh! I should have spotted her looking at me. What was I doing in a movie hall watching the movie anyway!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Road To Nowhere

Road To Nowhere

Shot on a ride with a friend at Peacock Point, close to Manipal.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Winds Of Change

Sitting around with a couple of friends:

Friend #1: You know, I've read somewhere that the amount of development we've had in the last 50 years in any industry is far higher than all the development we've had before that, put together.
Friend #2: Dude! This time is going to go down in history as the period when man advanced from the "Industrial Age" to the "Information Age"! And it's happening right now. All around us.
Friend #3: Faak, dude! We are witness to this!
Long silence, as everyone stares thoughtfully into oblivion.

Friday, October 08, 2004

The Zen of CSS Design

By Dave Shea and Molly Holzchlag, The Zen of CSS Design takes designs from The CSS Zen Garden and uses them to explain how to harness the power of CSS based design.

I have read what Dave has written on his site a lot of times, and I know that Molly is good with her stuff too. This might be a good book after all. You can pre-order a copy from

Humble Abode

Shack near Palani Temple

This was just a begger's shack near the Palani Temple off Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, but was really good looking, so I had to capture it.

For those who noticed, the formatting of this pic is very different from my usual pic posts. This is because I am trying out my new Flickr account. I've got more pics there, though most of them should not be new for someone who has been following my blog for some time now. Flickr just makes it a great deal easier to share my pics as compared to Imagestation, which I've been using for some time now.

This style of layout is easier, mostly because Flickr manages most of the hard work. But if you like the previous layout, let me know in the comments, and I'll revert to that from the next pic onwards.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Better Contacts

Just yesterday a friend was complaining that GMail has one of the worst way of building a "To:" list in your mail from your contact list.

Well, his prayers have been answered with impeccable timing by the guys at Google. The new features in GMail include a link to the contacts book from the left navigation itself, with the most frequently used contacts, and an easy way to compose a mail to be sent to multiple contacts.

It is still difficult to build a "To:" list after you have written out your mail. I hope this will improve next.

GMail was also experimenting with Atom feeds for their mail notifications. I had a link to my feeds yesterday, but today it's gone. I don't think I'd use this feature, though - I prefer my GMail Notifier in my Firefox browser. However, it's easy to see why this is a useful feature. Only, I might never get around to using it.

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Ig Nobel Awards

The Ig Nobel awards for this year were given out on the 30th of last month at Harward's Sanders Theatre. Listed below are some of the award winning entries.

Search Added

I've added a very simple search facility to my site now, by popular demand (from at least one person). The search box is available on every page of my site, in the side-bar on the right. The search is powered by Google. That means, the search might not be comprehensive and depends on which pages of my site Google has indexed. Also, when you do a search, you are redirected to the familiar Google search results page. I hate this too, but Blogger really doesn't allow me to do much more.

I started with the Google SearchSite code, and hacked my way through to get rid of the radio buttons and the Google logo. I also got rid of their tables and ugly font tags and instead used CSS to style the form, and generally made the code more XHTML compliant. Just so that the guys at Google don't get pissed, I added a "Powered by" link to them. I would have used their logo, but it was not looking good on my site at all. Sorry, Google.

At least I have some sort of search mechanism now! Let me know if you dislike it in its current avatar, and I'll see what I can do.

Understanding Users: Hardware

At a friend’s tech support job in the Dell back office:

Caller: My computer isn’t working. The screen refuses to turn on.
My friend: Sir, I’d have to ask you first, is that a Dell computer you have?
Caller: I think so. The logo looks familiar.
My friend: Sir, the logo reads “DELL”. You can’t miss it.
Caller: Yeah, it looks kinda like the logo.
My friend: Sir, if you can’t read the logo, can you please describe the computer to me, so that I know what you have?
Caller: I have this satellite receiver on top of my screen. It came with the computer.
My friend: Satellite receiver???

Turns out, the caller did have a Dell computer. The caller had placed his monitor upside down, and wasn’t able to read “Dell” off the logo. The “satellite receiver” was the monitor’s inverted swivel stand.