Saturday, February 19, 2011

Gmail, I love you!

Everyone uses Gmail. I've been a loyal user since I got an account in 2004. Back then I probably got it just to show people that I've got one and feel important. To be honest, there was nothing new except perhaps the simple looking ajax interface and the conversations view. And yes, there was this big space available which they later started incrementing indefinitely. That was quite a change in email service that followed. It was only later that other competitors began expanding their users' inboxes. A few other things I liked about gmail was starred conversations, labels as opposed to folders, archiving and chat from within the browser. Remember meebo? Gmail labs came out mid-2008. Again, there was lot of excitement around the launch but I chose to ignore the new "cool" features. However, later I started using some of them.

Recently, I've started using gmail as my mail-client-in-the-cloud (Yay, cloud computing FTW!). That is, I use gmail at work (so I can take some time off and check emails from home). After the initial mapping of outlook folders to labels, I thought a lot more needs to be done to get the 'corporate' effect. Labs came to the rescue. Am going to list the ones I liked best and some more you might want.

Default 'Reply to all'; Google Calendar gadget - portable preview of your calendar; Google Docs gadget - access often used Docs; Multiple Inboxes - this one's amazing. I prefer this over their 'priority inbox', do try it; Navbar drag and drop - move around some of the gadgets above plus chat window; Nested Labels; Quote selected text - very useful when you're replying only parts of a long email; Send & Archive - reply to an email and hide the whole convo from your inbox; Sender Time Zone - doesn't seem to work sometimes. Supposed to show the time of sending in the sender's timezone (against the current time there too!); Title Tweaks - Gets the "Inbox (2)" before "Gmail" in the title so you can know from other windows; Undo Send;

I use most of them given above. Additionally, I use Inbox preview which is great while you wait for gmail to load. Especially if you clear out your inbox and organize them elsewhere.  There are a few more like Superstars, Quick links which I might try but I haven't got around to try it.  This is how my inbox looks like (you can't see all of what I've used, though):

I think Labs is a great idea. It makes sense to not confuse users with too many options and yet make them available optionally. I think users to should take time to try everything Labs has to offer and if possible contribute.

Outside of Labs, users with multiple emails, calendar and/or docs should try and integrate everything inside their gmail inbox. Personally, am excited by what Google has done so far and what they're to create in the coming days.


PS: I do wish they remove the "96 invites left" box from my gmail. Really, who needs it anymore?
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Friday, December 10, 2010


This piece of news is several months old. Yet worth sharing. I've been driving a Bajaj CT100 since 2004. It was a nice bike, amazing mileage, no big problems and it has served me loyally. I never really had any complains. It did what was expected out of a bike of its class and more. In fact, when new, I was very proud of its specifications and would tell anyone who cared to listen; and several who didn't.

I'd ridden it less for 6 years. Around 30000 Kms. Yet it was enough to give problems. It seemed like I always had a bad back or it was a due bad posture at work and in bed. At one point of time, I'd decided I need to see a physiotherapist about it. 2 days into the week long therapy he declared it was my bike. "Too short for your height", he said. That was true. Not many bikes were good for my height. But I'd never thought about such stuff when I got this. Who would? I was too excited about getting a bike for myself.

Times were different now. The bike was a problem. I tried not using the bike for a week. That coupled with the sessions with the doc worked wonders for my back. I wasn't ready to buy a new bike yet. I sought out some used ones but couldn't find a good deal. This went on for a several weeks. Jobs changed. Office was now closer home. And all the while I had the same old bike. The back pain returned, though cricket during weekends helped a lot. Around a month after I joined the new company, I'd started some research about bikes. Within a week I decided a 150cc is going to be lot more comfortable than what I owned. Atleast a 125.

Soon, I was reading reviews, complaints and whatnot on the internet. Every bike seemed to be good. All 150s were priced roughly the same, except Yamaha of course which was higher. A lot of recommendations for the same bike came in from friends. But I also had this thing about not buying something that's common. I wanted something different from the crowd. Atleast in my social circle. So a lot of bikes from my list were knocked off. Then one fine day while talking to a colleague about it I learnt about a bike which he'd bought 2 years back. I took a test ride and within few metres I'd almost made up my mind. I then looked up reviews about it, consumer complaints what not. Since I didn't personally know any other owners I had to rely a lot on online forums. And since I liked this bike a lot, I tended to read only positive reviews. I even called up competing brands and asked why I should buy their product instead - didn't get very satisfactory answers.

After I saw the new version of it at a showroom, everything seemed to fit about this bike. It was big; right for my height. Great specs. Seemed to be a marketing failure which suited me perfectly well. A very comfortable ride. Similar price tag. Delivery promised within a week. The reputation of Suzuki engines. And to top it all, the colleague who had it resigned all of a sudden which meant I was the only person with a Suzuki GS150R in the whole building! I even tried to ignore the fact that there are only 4 places I could service it in Chennai as of then. Now that I'm a proud and happy owner, I want to share a pic of the monster.

Am not going to talk about the specs here. You can find them on their website. But I can tell you its an great piece of engineering - drive it to experience it! The 6th gear (I know!) deserves special mention; almost as good as cruise control.

PS: I am no longer the sole owner of this model - another colleague bought it on my recommendation, same colour even!
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Wednesday, December 01, 2010


Did you just google that word? Or did you know it already? I hadn't heard the term until recently. Unlike most of you who just learnt the term, I was introduced because people thought I might need it. Once convinced I do, my natural tendency was not to enquire people where I can get it but simply look on the internet. I couldn't find much and besides I was really lazy about it. I've been lethargic for sometime now. No real reason. But the consequences were many and varied. One might be what let me to look for this world famous product. In fact, as a friend noted it was available at the local chemist. 275 bucks for 10 grams. Am a big fan of cricket. I haven't watched a whole match in maybe 5 years. I prefer playing over watching it on tv. Recently, I've been attending practice sessions on weekends and matches sometimes. Am all alert and everything when am playing. Yet it had to happen to me. I was only hovering behind the wickets to return the bowled balls. Medium pace bowler. Pitched short and wide. Unexpected bounce. Wizzzz. Wham. Silence. Hurried voices. Obscured vision. Blood. Dizziness. More voices. Then came the pain.

With a doctor friend around I was assured it wasn't bad except for a deep cut. I was to know much later that I got real lucky with it given the area of injury. With no first aid available, my team mates had to clean the wound with drinking water (the 20 ltr cans you get for a few bucks!). They made me hold a thick towel to the wound while I was taken (on a bike) to a private hospital nearby. I was scared, the driver had a history of accidents. The nurse there cleans my wound while the doctor was busy with another patient. When she finally came over she took one look and demanded all sorts of scans. An X-ray I can understand but a CAT scan was too much to digest. And saying my brain might've been affected was too far fetched! I excused myself telling her I live far off and since I needed stitches I'd prefer a clinic closer home. There wasn't much of a fuss and the doc seemed quite relieved to be rid of me. I talk a lot of crap when am unwell, that must've been why.

Another team mate who lived closest to my place dropped me off at my family doctor's clinic. We rode some 18 Kms and I had to cover the dressed wound from the wind by holding my helmet against it. My general physician made me do simple movements and deemed it was nothing serious. However, he did recommend an x-ray before I got sutures.

The hospital I was referred to for getting stitched had only a 'duty doctor' available at that time. And what a character she was. She said so herself. She said I talk too much when I was only trying to understand what would be done to me. Besides she kept saying she was a person with a different character which I found very irritating though I was amused as I was reminded of actor Sathyaraj (non-Tamil folk please excuse). One of her nurses was patient with me while the others feared to be found chatting me up. While the doctor was getting ready, I finally got to see my wound in proper light - it was deep. And nearly an inch long. After quarter of an hour passed when the stitching was almost done, the local anaesthesia had already worn off. Later when came I home much to the shock of my parents I found the dressing looked clumsy and later when it came off, the stitching worse.

I knew the swelling and blood clot on the left side of my face wound reduce but I was constantly told that the scar wound remain. Before the sutures were undone I used to tell myself, "maybe the scar would look cool or wicked at the least". I wouldn't have minded being called evil looking. But it looked rather silly with no sign of wickedness. After several days of looking like half a panda a visit to an eye doctor left me rather scared. I was told stories of similar accidents and how I could've lost my vision. But am alright now. Am not going to scare any of you. People who don't see me often, say when they do that the wound has healed well but they still like to mention how sad it is to have a silly scar. Thank you, but I don't need your pity. I trust in the 'proven results' of Mederma!
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Saturday, June 12, 2010


So I tried to write my first poem. Like Archimedes, I got the idea when I was in the shower. Though, I didn't do the 'Eureka' part. The idea was simple and came in an instant. I guess I was inspired by my good friend Srinath who has been on a poem writing spree. After postponing for nearly a week, I was surprised putting it in words didn't seem very difficult. And it didn't take too much time either. So here it is. Do leave your comments.

Alone in the depths of the seas;
No more purpose than to survive.
The oyster awaits, what it knows not.

Along comes the hand of destiny;
Lays within, what is foreign.
The oyster reacts, to what it knows not.

Days pass by, as do months;
Layer upon layer of work.
The oyster creates, what it knows not.

Likewise is man; Awaiting God's voice.
The foreign, his duties.
The man strives, for what he knows not.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Raise and Fall of Thyself

Wow. I cannot believe I've been away for 2 months. It pains to remember I promised myself to blog more often only in my last post.

However, I have news. News worth waiting for 2 months? Definitely. Atleast, for me. I've had some tough career decisions to make - learning a few lessons along the way. Not to mention help a good friend make a live-love-career decision. Am not going to talk about that. So, the news? I've changed jobs. Not just jobs, but positions and technologies. Its a big jump from web development into the Cloud. (Sounds geeky? Never mind). Of course, I got the raise too.

The new office is really good - a well equipped cubicle, a great workstation, nice new people, free coffee, basement parking and more. My only complaint - the tiled floors. Back in my ex-company, we had carpets and I could run around, swirl in my chair all with great control and without causing damage to myself or others. Here however, even walking has to be a conscious effort for new comers. Fortunately, indoors is more manageable as I can pretend to be playfully tapping the top of the cubicles while really trying to get something to hold on to at the turns.

Some parts of our new building are still under construction - like near the corridor to the food court. So, this morning when hunger beckoned like never before, I didn't hesitate to go for a quick snack down to the food court all alone. As providence would have it, there was some fresh wood dust over the tiles (and light coloured ones that didn't highlight the layer of dust).

The fall was quick. At first impact, I thought I did good by landing on all fours. Next instant, I was on my nose. I still wonder how I managed that. After resting for sometime on the chair the security guy kindly offered, I set off towards the elevators feeling a growing stinging feeling inside my nose and a swelling on my upper lip. Later examination revealed, one of the incisors had cut the skin inside the upper lip.

It was a bit embarrassing to sit holding ice cubes to my mouth for the next several hours. But believe me, not as bad as a 6-foot framed guy slipping on tiles in front of adults who don't seem to find the tiles a bother at all - and then blog about it in first person. Damn!
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Wednesday, April 07, 2010


Today, has been the second case of chain snatching in my street. The neighbourhood is otherwise not so unlawful. I have memories from days when the street was dangerous only because it was very deserted and days when people liked the peaceful quiet of the place. Recently however, a case of theft, break in or something or the other comes up almost every few weeks. The street still looks perfectly peaceful (and green from above). In fact, these days with lot of people realizing it bridges important areas, it is almost always abuzz with activity. Why, once I found two foreigners representing a Church who tried to convert me in the middle of the road! But to think someone would snatch a chain in broad daylight, in this street, sends quite a shiver. That was months ago. Well planned and a chosen target. 4 bikes, 6 people. I guess they even have a name for this formation. I heard only the story about this one. Today morning was different.

I was still in bed reading the morning paper when I heard screams from the street. I'd usually have run outside to check what was up (the hero that we all are). But the voice sounded like a little girl's so I assumed it was probably a stray dog chasing her or something. Besides there was no other noise of a bike or screech of tyres. But the scream continued for a good ten seconds or so.

By the time I was outside, the girl (probably 15) was sobbing hard and 2 people were consoling her. It still looked like a dog had chased her. As it turns out, it was a chain snatch. A guy on his cycle. Supposedly one of the newspaper delivery boys. Seems like he'd tried snatching her chain first, when she put up a fight, hit her head twice and escaped with his prize. A friend once said conscience is what hurts when every other part feels good. Not always. Mine still hurts that I didn't run outside when I heard the screams. It would've taken all of 3 seconds. If not bash him up like some hero, atleast I'd have scared him off and abandoned his attempts.

To tell the truth I am still shaken by what happened. Imagine, 7 AM in the morning! 'Snatch' makes it sound quite harmless. And only ended up banging my fists on the wall in the shower. What's the point?

If only I hadn't been lazy in the morning. Bloody conscience.
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Status Update!

To be honest, I had nothing else to blog about. I'm [temporarily] tired of posting my life on Facebook and Twitter. Although, this post is bound to go as another update in both places. Ironic? So, what have I been upto? Nothing much really. I've been trying to, what is that..ah juggle too many balls at once. (Watching movies, reading novels inclusive). And if that wasn't enough, I had to add another object to balance - as a favour. Of course, am not going to divulge any of that here.

But there is some news for you. Sad for me. My IndiBlogger rank has come down around 30 points in 4 months. Around November last, it was 76 - my highest till date. Even my academics weren't as good. And now its just fail - 43! What with IndiBlogger Chennai meet coming up this weekend that really worries me. Imagine:
"Nice to meet you"
"let me take your blog address"
"sure its...what's yours?"
"am ranked 86 btw, what about you?"
"er..i gotta go"

Hope IndiBlogger is reading this and temporarily tweak their settings and raise my rank (Just for this weekend, please!). But while I type this, I realized I can really chatter away. I'm come thus far without really having had an idea on what to write. Oh yes, my posts are usually intentional, directed at a particular topic. Do have a look around, won't you? Yes, I was saying..I realized I can start typing all the random stuff that runs in my mind, in order of appearance. Its almost like writing an examination. Only am not worried about the "rank" anymore. Hope I can post something every now and then to up my rank.

I also found my laptop [Dell Vostro 1510, more than a year old] is quite a work horse. I let it run for a few hours virtualizing two different OSes both running something heavy AND using my system myself at the same time. Good good.

A friend though recently bought a Sony Vaio at a staggering price, but loads more a workhorse than mine - a workaholic workhorse if you will. Ha! I've always wanted to use that phrase in my blog sometime - 'if you will' and I think it fits in quite well here. I digress. (that's another I've been wanting to use since long) But then he's got Windows 7 and flicked a copy of PC Quest from his work to read 'everything you needed to know about Windows 7'. Think about paying for something you didn't want and trying to learn about it. That again sounds like school. Hmmmm.

I don't know why but I really feel like I should fit a PJ in here. My colleague and I have 'discovered' a new tea shop where we like to take our evening breaks. I say tea shop because coffee shop somehow sounds hi-fi. And the tea (or coffee for me) acts like some kind of PJ inducer to us. You should hear us babble after we've had a sip. Of course, they're all time-bound jokes and would make no sense here making you go "poor joke indeed".

Of the movies I'd planned to watch, Die Hard 4.0 was the most recent. I must say I really liked the movie - cool with hackers and stuff and of course, Bruce Willis with all that action! What I find mildly surprising was that I got stuck in an elevator at work the very next day of watching the movie. How're they related? Well, there's a scene in the movie where John McClain's daughter is stuck in one. But she was alone. I, however, was with another girl...and two other guys. It was all dark and no one's cell phone screen was bright enough so I closed my eyes and started day dreaming. You know. Rescuing them and stuff..So while I was dreaming and smirking to myself, another guy called up his friend and got help. Smart. I thought to myself "doodh nahi peyega tho aisa hi hoga". But I swear, I drink atleast 2 glasses of milk - with some chocolate flavoured malt!

And after about 20 minutes of typing, I hit the wall. Nothing more to say. To share. I hope to see more updates from my 'sidebar friends' too. They're almost worse than me!


BTW, in other news, I am becoming an 'uncle' pretty soon...\m/ \o/ And yet, my sis-in-law manages to update her blog SO very often. Check it out. And while you're at it, you can check my cousin's too. Who's kind of competing with her. 'Healthy' competition though..

PS: Please turn off all unwanted lights. That includes your screen too.
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