Monday, December 26, 2011

SlideIT keyboard for Android

If I were to ask you how else you would type without really typing on the keyboard, you may think hard and finally say you will voice dictate.. Thats the way Apple is taking us with Siri.

It's going to take some time before we effortlessly speak to our phones. But if you had thought there was no other way, then you need to think hard again in innovative ways again.

Please welcome SlideIT, the fun and in some aspects the easier and faster way to type.

In fact, I have been typing this post using there SlideIT keyboard! I love swiping my finger across the keyboard to type the text you want.

The concept is simple, all you need to do is connect the letters forming the word and SlideIT is smart enough to complete the word for you. The prediction is very impressive. And when you are unable swipe, you can always type like in a regular keyboard.

I am thoroughly enjoying typing in it for some time at least in this new way.

Now, some annoyances are, you'll have to remember where the keys are located in the keyboard. Second is, you can type only in one hand, which is quite obvious, but you'll have to use your index finger to type while holding the phone in there other hand, which makes it inconvenient to type while driving and similar situations!

Watch this video to see the typing in action.

Go ahead and try it yourself!

# tweetit

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Blogger app on Android

One of the reasons I found for writing less on my blog is due to the unavailability of my laptop.

I had two laptops and both are broke now..  My 2 year old broke them.  Even when I had them, It was used by my family. I do have an iPad, but again the same case.

I was thinking about the resolutions I had made this year (My resolutions for this year deserve their own post later) and I just realized how miserably I had failed in the one where I had promised to write at least one post a week.

The last I wrote was around 11 months back.

That was when I thought "hey, anyways my online life has moved to my android smartphone.. Why not just use it for blogging as well!" 

But long blog post are not easy on a smartphone. Smartphones are definitely useful for micro-blogging such as twitter and Facebook updates.

I found that there is an app available for Blogger and just installed it to give it a shot.

In fact, I am writing this post using it.

The app is descent enough. Doesn't have a lot of editing options though.

For example, I still haven't figured out a way to enter images between text.

Also, doesn't show my existing labels.. I will have to type them manually :-(

Definitely not easier to type long post on a smartphone. Thanks to the SwiftKey keyboard, some of the typing pain is reduced by prediction and auto-fill.

Still I think PCs are best for regular blogging. 

Now let me post this to see how this shows up in my blog!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Declutter your Harddisk using WinDirStat

With every passing month, you add so much digital clutter in your computer that it becomes an impossible task to clean up your hard disk. Forget cleanup, just trying to find out what really is eating up your storage space itself becomes a huge task.

I ran into a similar situation and that's when i decided to attack the problem no matter what.

Initially I used the most dumbest way of finding out what really was eating up space - right-click->Properties at all top-level folders under c-drive and then further drill down in a similar fashion.

I thought I will quickly identify that one folder that really is eating up space. It took half-hour to realize how scattered all my files (photos, videos, music, installables, pdfs, documents, etc.) were.

I was wondering how easy it would have been had this been Linux - just run the "du" (disk-usage) command and figure out whats eating up

Ah, thats it.. install cygwin and that will let me run this command.  But it really wasn't worth installing hundreds of MB of cygwin data just to analyse disk usage. So, I started searching for a standalone windows based tool that will give me disk usage stats, which led me to this post in lifehacker which introduced me to WinDirStat.

Its one of the best system tools that I have come across for the windows OS, which lets you visualize your hard disk. And what a nice way of visualizing your hard disk - elegant and brilliant.

Hover your mouse pointer on top of one of these colored blocks and the status bar below will show the filename along with its complete path. And click the block to ready locate the file and do whatever you want, including deleting this file from your hard disk.

Its an amazing tool to start visualizing your hard disk and start attacking all that clutter. Btw, I also found this tool useful for locating some long lost videos, mp3s and jpegs.

There is also a tree-map view and file types view which are visible by default. The file types view is really useful as it tells you what type of  file is occupying how much. In my case, clearly all the videos, mp3s and jpegs were eating up all the space. All I had to do was back them up in an external hard disk.

So, go ahead and clean up that clutter.

PS: I read later that WinDirStat was inspired by KDirStat which is the KDE-Linux version of the same tool. Cool! :)


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Great Opportunity!

I had a rare opportunity to meet the Verizon Senior Leadership team, on Feb 7th 2011,   which comprised of Lowell McAdam - President and Chief Operating Officer (and a CEO-to-be :)), Roger Gurnani - Chief Information Officer and Bob Toohey - President, Verizon Business. Also, accompanied them was my Verizon Data Services India - Managing Director - Mr. Rahul Saxena.

I think this was once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet all the big guys in one place, given the fact that we are 8000 miles away from the headquarters. It was a honour to meet Lowell whom I have been watching closely in our internal quarterly webcast and other videos.

Our present Chairman and CEO - Ivan Seidenberg is a charismatic personality and has been my favorite. In my view, he represents a fatherly figure and a living legend who started his career as a cable splicer's assistant, who grew up the ladder through his hard work and personality.

So with Lowell to take over Ivan's spot in future, I was trying hard to understand and like this man. My initial self-made impression of this man was not that great. But I was dead wrong.

As I am hearing more and more of Lowell, I am beginning to like him. He seems to be a very principled person and very process-oriented too. He rolled out the Verizon Credo and I see the genuineness in his message and in the way he is driving the Credo at every available opportunity. Lowell is charismatic in his own sense and has a good sense of humour. He is a mechanical engineer, so can find him using lot of mechanical analogies (such as.. "there is always a higher gear.."), which is great :).

So, Lowell, I have bought into you. I am glad Verizon is in great hands and poised to boldly go where no one has gone before (remembering Star Trek ;))

Well, my meeting went flawlessly. All the preparation (mostly mental), on what I wanted to talk and how I wanted to take them through the floor, finally proved fruitful.

After my meeting, I rushed to the Townhall, which was organized in our Cafeteria and was expected to overflow, to grab a seat. As expected, it was wonderful speech by Lowell. He has promised to come back again and I hope I am around by that time.

DISCLAIMER: I usually stay away from my office related topics and this is probably the first one and hopeful is the last one. I had to write this because of my excitement and as an evidence to the fact that I met a great leader. All views expressed here are my own and I solely take responsibility for whatever is expressed here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Catching up, forever!

Just as I was opening up some two dozen blogs/articles into separate tabs in my browser (Firefox, but occasionally jump to Chrome), I was beginning to wonder how this has become an endless routine for me. Not that I dread doing this. In fact, i am a tech news junkie and would like to keep myself updated with as much latest technology and its related business news as possible.

Well, I wasn't this way earlier and there is a whole background on why I became such a tech news junkie. In the early years of the last decade, I was young, unmarried and had a new job. As like most youngsters then, I was upto date with the latest technology and gadgets more as a means of keeping in touch with your friends. But as i was aging (lets just call it maturing ;)) and with a marriage and my first kid and with growing responsibilities at my job, I was moving moving away from most friends (except for the very few whom i keep touch on phone) and thus also losing touch with latest happenings in technology.

Another reason, that to some extent that really had kept me away from the web was the social web explosion. It was just too stressful for me to keep up with friends (constantly responding) on a constant basis. At that time, Orkut was the most popular in India. So someday, I had subconsciously decided to unplug myself from the net, of course with some conscious support from the above reasons ;).
Then one fine day, while talking to some of the youngsters, I was realizing how much i was like them and how i had lost track of technology. So during the last half of the previous decade, I decided to come back with a vengeance, with a thirst for knowledge on latest happenings. Once I started, I was really hooked to it till date. Since then, i think i am fairly updated with everything that's hot and buzzing in the blogosphere. With confidence I can say that i belong to the Mavens category (with reference to the book from Malcolm Gladwell)

Staying up to date does eat up lot of your time. But as long as you have a passion for it, you will not notice it.

Over a period of time, i have developed unique ways of catching up with information and organizing it for later use and sharing. That in itself deserves a separate post in itself.

But I was thinking it might be a good idea to share some some news/blogs/articles links that i really liked, every week. Of course i keep sharing them real time through twitter and facebook, but posting them into blog on a weekly basis will help others to come back and take a look at it when time permits. Anway, still considering.

Now that I have satisfied one of the resolution points for this year (keep blogging at least one post per week) :)), I am hitting the bed. 


Friday, January 14, 2011

Feeding my blog post into Twitter

Well, this is cool! Now I don't have to worry about manually sharing a link to my detailed thoughts (blog post such as this) into social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

My problem was I hadn't taken effort to figure a way to tweet my blog post, automatically. But once something is tweeted in my account, it naturally propagates to Facebook.

From what I know, Twitterfeed is the only available service for sharing your blog post into social networking sites.

So, this is how it works. You create an account in Twitterfeed (if you have OpenID, you can use that as well to login. For example, I used my blogger id to login into Twitterfeed). Then you specify the RSS link to your blog. Twitterfeed regularly pings this RSS to see if something was published new. If yes, then it will post it to Twitter, Facebook and other services.

I have configured Twitterfeed to post the title of the blog post following by a shortened url to the same (Twitterfeed uses

Also, I have put  a filter in place where in only those blog posts which have the keyword #tweetit will be published to my twitter account. Now that i have specified this keyword, this post will be automatically tweeted into my twitter account. This will ensure that i can have some control over what is pushed to twitter and what should be pushed.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Learning Python is worth after all

I started flirting with Python late last year. I have been learning it at a snails pace, slow but steady. To make sure I keep the focus, I have learning Python as one of my resolutions this year.

Was wondering if I was wasting time learning Python while I could be focusing on tons of other stuff.

Man, I am so glad to read that Python won the TIOBE Programming Language Award of 2010. Some consolation that I am not wasting time.

On a different note, some ask me as to why I want to learn a programming language being a Senior Manager. Well, my answer is, being a senior manager doesn't mean that you shouldn't be a techie/geek. And also there is a wrong notion of one moving away from technology or software engineering as you grow up the ladder. I don't believe in that and I don't think one will be successful in the long run that way (again success is perceived differently by each one of us).

Deep inside my heart, I still prefer being a techie/geek.

Drastically reduce email clutter - disable social network notifications

Ever since i started my quest to declutter, especially my obsession to win back my mail box from the digital clutter, I have come a long way.

But in spite of this, I recently realized how much of email clutter you can stop from entering your mail box by just disabling email notifications from your social networks.

For me, disabling email notifications in LinkedIn and Facebook alone stops at least 10-20 mails reaching my mail box.

And I am sure there are other such places like Twitter, Orkut, etc. where you can disable notifications as well.

But assuming you have this weird obsession to receive every notification by mail, then you can probably opt for a week digest assuming that options is available.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Retrospection - Year 2010

With a new year and a new decade starting, its a good time to think over what i want to achieve personally this year.

But first, its time for some retrospection.

I did come up with a list of resolutions for last year 2010. I din't make it public (no special or secret reasons though). But thinking about how well I fared with respect to my resolutions for last year (2010), I feel good because I fared pretty well. I was able to achieve most of what I wanted.

I think I did good in the following areas:
  • Eat regularly and eat healthy
    • Thanks to the cook that my wife hired (my wife works too..)
  • Have a fixed number of beverages per day
    • Far better compared to before. There were times when I used to drink 15 - 20 coffees a day. Its 4 -5 now!
  • Read the best selling books every month
    • I've read lot of best sellers in 2010. You can see the list of books i've read in my LinkedIn profile 
  • Keep myself updated with the latest happenings in the technology industry
    • Well this is the culprit which kept me awake until early morning hours. This led to me failing bad with the first point mentioned in the list of things that i could not keep up with, mentioned below.
  • Make full use of library 
    • Yep, borrowed lot of books from the library.
  • Declutter anything and everything
    • To add to it, i dint just declutter, but i got more organized now, especially got very organized with my mail inboxes. 
  • Stay close to projects, people and meetings/calls
  • Track every penny being spent
    • While i was good at that, not reflecting weekly on it made this just a mundane chore. So I stopped tracking my expenditure in the last 3 months of last year.
  • Enjoy doing household chores and use it as means to relaxation

I think I was off the mark (did bad) in these areas:
  • Sleep early and give sufficient rest to my body
  • Try to meditate and pray
  • Try to start walking early mornings
  • Maintain my assets in good condition by regularly servicing them
  • Weekly reflect on the spending and budget
  • Keep in regular touch with close friends and relatives
As you can see from the list above, most of them are habitual changes that I've been wanting in me and not really an end goal in themselves. So for the things that I've fared well in, I will continue doing them. For things that I missed, I will try to get better at it this year and I will add few more things for this year. 

On a whole, I feel good about what i've achieved. I probably achieved many more things and improved my character on different aspects. For example, I think I have much more emotional and mental discipline and patience. 

Last year, was also a year of lot of learning on the professional front, not just on the managerial and leadership aspects of my work, but also what I always love to do, getting handson on the technical front. Though to a small extent, i did some amount of perl programming and started learning Core Javascript and Python. In fact, this year, I intend to become an expert in Python. 

I know this year (2011) is full of challenges both on the personal and possessional fronts. I believe, every human challenge hardens ones character, if the challenges are taken in a right spirit. I am ready to take up these new challenges and I hope this year value adds to what I am  today. 

I am still working on my list of resolutions for this year. I have a rough draft, but will publish them once I have finalized it to some extent.