Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dear Paypal, Stop Wasting My Time

Every time I login to my Paypal account, the first thing I am greeted with is

paypal wasting my time

But I don’t want to join BillMe later now or ever. Can’t I just say once, that I am not interested? Why do I have to keep wasting my time and a click each time I login to Paypal? I sent the same through their contact form, almost 24 hrs back, yet to get a reply, but this is annoying me. Hence this post.

Update: After a day, I didn’t get any reply from Paypal but I no longer see the BillMe later screen as soon as I login.

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Page Rank down to 4 again

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What is more expensive than a $910 bunch of grapes?

As per When it Comes to Fruit in Japan Spend Does not Matter, someone paid $910 to get a bunch of new variety grapes. And the post says “The Japanese might have pioneered the Toyota Production System (which I believe to be the forerunner of lean) and are known as some of the best — and most fair — negotiators in the business. But when it comes to spending on the home front, they aren’t exactly a role model for the rest of the world.”

This is interesting, when you see stories like I am rich buyer happening in the US!

What really matters is the person doing the spending, not the nation! Sorry, don’t make it a nationality issue.

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Should you buy Nokia N810 Internet Tablet?

I had been using a tablet pc for more than 2yrs and it is from Averatec. So, when I was deciding on buying the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet, I already know some aspects of tablet pcs. I never figured out a way to properly use the stylus and type in the words fluently, so that’s definitely not the reason why I bought it. But there are plenty of other good reasons to buy it and they are listed below

* The form factor. It’s weight is half-a-pound! Anything more would make it painful especially if you want to sleep and browse the web relaxedly.
* It has WPA support so that you can connect it to the internet using my existing Wireless Lan.
* It has a built-in GPS receiver. Yes, it can serve as a GPS unit! So, if you don’t have a standalone GPS unit, then you will get two things in one gadget, albeit at a bit higher price. More about GPS is mentioned below.
* It has a built-in keyboard making it possible to type text rather than using the stylus to do free-form writing or tapping the onscreen keyboard. While the keyboard is not as convenient as your typical full-size keyboard, it is reasonable enough. The keyboard is backlit so when you are typing in the night with lights off when everyone is sleeping, this option comes handy.
* It has a built-in camera and possible to do chatting using Google Talk or Skype (I didn’t get it to install Skype, but it’s possible). Built-in speakers and microphone are there for playing songs and chatting.
* It is based on the maemo linux distribution and comes with Mozilla browser that allows accessing any Web 2.0 websites possible. Possible to watch YouTube videos using the 4.1″ screen which is a bit bigger than an iPhone (it’s everything the iPhone offers less the phone but support for VOIP reduces this gap a bit).
* While the number of apps available to this are limited, if you have several Palm apps already, there is a Palm emulator that makes it possible to run all those 30K+ Palm applications on this device. Heck, it comes with an xterm and you can ssh to rest of your network as well. Depending on how geekish you are, you can run a few linux commands from the xterm and feel good about :). And there is an SDK which makes it possible to satisfy your developer desire if you so wish by writing a few apps.

GPS support with Nokia N810 By default it comes with an application called Map. This doesn’t provide directions and navigation instructions but possible to buy that service for $100+/3yrs price. However, there is a “Maemo Mapper” application that provides the ability to create routes and also voice announcements. What’s best, using the maemo mapper, you can overlay the map with Google Satellite images! For voice announcements to work, you need to also install a library called flite. Few issues I have with GPS are, sometimes it takes a while to get the GPS service to work (There are three options for GPS information within maemo mapper. A bluetooth option which allows to use an external GPS reciever, a /dev/gpsd internal device or a gps server on the network. I initially used the 2nd option but based on reading, it’s possible to use the bluetooth option without specifying any value to it). So, perhaps it’s not as fast as using a dedicated GPS unit (this is not exactly a great concern for me). Also, it tries to do what’s called “Establishing gps fix” which again seems to take a lot of time but didn’t interfere with the ability to start using the map while that is happening. So, overall it seems like an acceptable choice to use it as a GPS device.

Power The N810 battery is BP-4L which comes for about 7hrs of normal usage like listening to songs and web surfing. As I have been running multiple apps at the same time, I never got it to go for 7hrs. If you want to use the device as a GPS unit on a long trip, the battery life becomes critical so having a mobile charger with car adapter is an option. If you are going to the city and want to use the GPS while walking, there is an extra power pack as well.

I think overall, N810 is a good choice at about $400 for those who want a light-weight internet connectivity product which also serves as a GPS unit and is more than your typical PDA.


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Rescuing The Trapped Miners

I am happy that the recent trapped miners incident in South Africa ended with no casualties. However, one thing that came to my mind is, when there are 3200 people to be rescued, how do they prioritize in which order to rescue them? What if some people want to get out first while there are more sick people? Remember the Titanic?

So, one possible solution to this is to issue number cards to each miner periodically based on their overall health condition. So, an elder person or a person with a medical condition would get a smaller number (higher priority) than the others. This way, instead of people fighting out a mile below on who should be sent up first, it would be already pre-decided. Ofcourse, it’s quite possible that the exact incident could make the pre-determined prioritization not exactly valid. However, as the prioritization scheme becomes more accurate based on real data, the exceptions might be fewer and hopefully it’s lot more easier to resolve those fewer exceptions than everyone trying to fight out who should come out first.

There seems to be so many mining incidents through out the world these days. Hopefully, there will be more technology used to make it more safer and also protocols developed in what should be done and how when such an incident happens. The two top most areas that need more research is fail-safe communication and auxiliary supply of oxygen.

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News Papers, Blogs, Interviewers, Interview Candidates

Many graduating students are concerned about interview process and end up buying books, reading articles about what and what not to do while interviewing. But with blogging, the interviewing candidates equally get their opportunity to fairly evaluate the interviewers. Over the years, I probably interviewed more than a hundred people over phone and in person. Similarly, when I was graduating, I interviewed with a few companies. So, being on both sides of the equation, I would say I have a fair knowledge of what each side is looking for.

Anyway, I ended up at this specific blog about an experience interviewing with Google and I want to indicate a few paragraphs from this

“Anyways, doesn’t matter really, but this interviewer and I had a personality conflict and his accent was so thick I kept having to ask him to repeat himself. I think this is why they didn’t hire me.”

Yes, who cares how good a person is, if he or she is not able to articulate the problem clearly and coherently? On top of that, judging the candidate?

Next, take a look at this

“Well, I started to solve it and he kinda got annoyed. He got up and started trying to solve it for me (strange). Then he sat there for 3-5 minutes trying and eventually gave up without the solution. The best part was when he said, “just trust me”.

Yeah, right! Why not trust that interviewing candidate and give him a job :).

Anyway, the thing I want to highlight is, perhaps blogging gives the power to keep the equation more balanced in life. Just because one has the power to hire doesn’t mean he/she should act arrogantly.

In my personal experience of candidates interviewing for large corporations, below is a few key things that goes against them

1. Some times, they have to fly in from another timezone causing some physical exhaustion
2. Have to interview with multiple groups one after the other
3. All of this, sometimes in the middle of exams, middle of assignments etc and depending on how critical the school activities are at that time, half the mind might be the other side
4. Tell me which large corporation in the US doesn’t have people from different countries with different accents? For students who went to schools that have a lot of international students, they probably are already familiar with some of the different accents. Otherwise, it’s going to be tough.

There may be more reasons which you can think of!

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For The First Time I wanted Spam Comments In My Blog!

Today WordPress had some maintenance to fix some issues. One of the issue that got fixed is the landing page when clicking on “Delete All” for the spam comments. Here is what used to happen for me in the past. It either used to give me 404 error and then later on used to go to the home page. Today, after the maintenance, when I tried it, it remained in the Comments tab itself. Finally! Well, now that I deleted all the comments, I wanted to verify that I wasn’t dreaming :). That’s when I wanted a bit of spam in my comments tab to be able to try it again! Funny, huh?

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America’s Got Talent Winner

Almost a year back I wrote an article about America’s Got Talent and how everyone there was fantastic and it’s a general talent show, it’s hard to compare and say one talent is better than the other, just like how it’s unfair to compare different programming languages.

I am just watching the finals and here is my dilemma. I like Butterscotch and wanted her to win, that is till Terry Fator who did the ventriloquism singing. I still think Butterscotch should probably win the competition for her unique beatboxing skill. So while my heart feels for Butterscotch, my mind feels for Terry, for his perfection in imitating and singing using ventriloquism.

So, the question is no longer just unfair apple-to-apple comparison, but if you are asked to pick one over the other, how you go about doing it? What if you are one of those persons where both the heart and mind are balanced out?

When you are in school doing your thesis, you are free to choose whichever programming language you like. It’s up to you, mostly, especially if you are doing your research pretty independently. But once you start working, you are forced to use the language(s) of the company. You got no choice. You can choose to join a different company that uses the languages of your preference, but that alone is seldom the selection criteria. Isn’t it?

Anyway, so who is it going to be? Butterscotch or Terry? Let’s wait and watch for another day.

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Coding without concepts

* String a = new String(“abc”);

* Defining a constant as : private double PI = 3.14;

When you see this type of code, then the person writing it probably know coding, but doesn’t have a good understanding of programming.

Want more snippets?

* String sql = “select abc,xyz” +
” from def” +
” where ijk = mln”;

* public SomeConstructor() { abc = new String(“”); };

I am not making these up just for filling up a blog. These are the kind of code I encountered in my professional life.

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Ads, Memory, CPU cycles, Power and a Great Monkey!

Oflate, the number of flash ads is increasing leaps and bounds. Perhaps, with the wider adoption of broadband, it’s no big a deal to let a fat ad take up some of the bandwidth. However, the number of flash ads per page is also increasing. With everyone trying to take the top and one of the sides areas for ad displaying, there are atleast two ads per page, if not more, and the chances of both being flash ads is only increasing.

But the biggest problem is, these flash ads are really flashy. Which is quite a bit of distraction. I can sit 10 feet away from a TV and watch a lot of change on the screen. But sitting a feet or two away from a small monitor, the pain these flashy ads cause is intolerable. On top of it, many of these ads have looping on. If only the Macromedia guys provide an option for the end users to decide if the entire flash content can loop or not! So, these ads are network hog, memory hog, CPU hog and with the soaring energy prices, they are also costing the end user!

So, what can be done to ban these unwanted ads? That’s where GreaseMonkey comes into picture. First, switch to Firefox and then get the GreaseMonkey plugin. Then install the Flash Blocker user script and you are set. Also, search for other user scripts that block Google ads and other ads. Another of my favorite user script is the one that converts all the mailto links to normal text with an explicit mail image. So, before you click and bite your tongue while the OLE/COM/DCOM or whatever it is doing it’s magic to open up your favorite mail composer, you know before hand that it’s an email link.

Back to ads. Ads are fundamentally not evil. Ofcourse, who doesn’t enjoy very creative ads now and then shown on the TV? Imagine watching a TV show which has ads every 1 minute. Same with these flashy, large space occupying ads. When something is not annoying people can bear with it. Otherwise, they will try to find every possible way to get rid of it.

Take Google ads for example. It was a huge success. Among various other reasons, for the simple fact that they are not flashy and distracting. However, the Google guys got gready. Instead of “will index every page on the web”, they sort of became “will put an ad on every page on the web”. Net result? I started looking for a way to knock of such ads as well. And with GreaseMonkey plugin, and some excellent user scripts, I am able to get rid of some, if not all, those Google ads.

So, my advice to anyone is, don’t get too gready.

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