Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Pass along the Payments - (don't ever) Show me the Money 2

After being paranoid about how credit cards are controlling my life,I walk into office today and was reading Planet Debian when this blog entry by Andres Solomon struck me.It's how AS got hold of a new Debit card from MasterCard with embedded RFID technology.This is what he has to say:

" So this new card has an RFID chip? That means I don’t actually need to swipe it, I can “pay” by just being in range of a reader? Wait a minute, this is a Debit card; that means I’m not afforded the protections that a normal credit card offers. "

Also RFID technology in credit cards which goes by the name "PayPass" seem to be the latest "payment trend" in plastic money.In Japan they are already using mobile phones for payment for cola and magazine kiosk's.All this is just aimed at better money flow but this just scares me, are we getting to the point in personal finance where an entity called "money or cash" will never exist ?

AS also dug up some info on PayPass which is available here and here.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

My Geek Score

Another Useless Meme. My computer geek score is greater than 84% of all people in the world! How do you compare? Click here to find out!

Show me the Money !

It's the EOM(End of Month) period and like all techie's working in an IT firm my pocket has run dry.My wallet, which was once filled with grey-green bills is now filled with orange-brown Gandhi bills.An indication that the free flowing cornucopia(fancy word,don't know spelling!) which was abundant during the first few week of the month has dried out.

Come to think of it,it's strange how people manage their finances today.I remember the day when my dad used to bring home a leather bag full of cash at the starting of every month and it was kept in the almariah and each day it grew thinner.Today, all we have is plastic cash! My salary is a (not-disclosable) 5 digit numeral starting with 2 but how much do I actually "see" every month? If I'm lucky enough I get to see around 4000,and that's it.The rest is just virtual money that I "have".

Confused? I am too.Picture this, each day I take out 100 rupees from the ATM and use it for my daily needs.With that calculation I should be ending up sending around 3000/month.If that's the case where is the rest of my money? dammit!

I'll tell you where it is,reach down your wallet and pull out those plastic cards which you lovingly display in you wallet.Yeeesss! that's where the real money is.Gone are the days of paying in hard-cash.Nowdays, it's just 'cha-cha-cha swipe! cha-cha-cha swipe'!

Damn credit cards companies are the real paymasters.They control my finances and tell me how to live my life each month.Seriously my cards talk to me.."Yessss, buy that it! It's after 24 of this month you need'nt pay for another 45 days, buy it,buy it,BUY IT!" and I buy the item.The next month is going to be pathetic,I'm just going have to transfer my whole salary to the credit card company.Sometimes, I think I'm just going to cancel those damn cards and break the spell,each time I make up my mind and call the Customer Support,they remind me of my outstanding amount and I usually end up with a higher credit limit. More Credit,More Power they say.More Credit,More control over my Life I say.

Damn you cards,Show me my money!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sunset at Infosys


Sunset
Originally uploaded by toufeeq.
One of the best pic's I've taken using my mobile camera,the Sony Ericsson K750i.This was taken when I was sitting in my friends car and we had stopped in a traffic signal.Really help's having a good mobile cam in hand. :)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Human Interface Guidelines

What are Human Interface Guidelines(HIG) ?

HIG are nothing but documents which provide a set of recommendations which are to be followed while developing Graphical User Interface based Applications.They serve as a set of recommendations for the software developers while developing new software.These are not rules,just guidelines on how an application will "interface" on UI terms with the underlying Operating System.

Hence each Operating System has it's own set of Guidelines on UI standards.The main aim of HIG is to make a third party application "behave well" with the other applications that make up the operating system and hence giving you a consistent look.

Here is a list of HIG documents for the top three Desktop Operating Systems:

Microsoft

MS does not have a stable set of guidelines for their Windows Operating System.Instead they have "User Interface" guidelines for each of their Operating Systems.Hence there's a set of guidelines for Win95,WinXP etc.

Windows XP User Interface Guidelines

Apple

Apple has two sets of HIG documents.One for pre Mac OSX and the other for Aqua the UI seen in Mac OS X.

Apple Human Interface Guidelines

Linux

Linux has two separate HIG documents,one for GNOME and one for KDE,it's two main Desktop Environments.Linux as such is just the kernel and the Desktop Environments exist independent of the kernel unlike Windows and Mac OS wherein "some part" of the GUI is interwoven with the kernel.

GNOME Human Interface Guidelines

KDE's HIG is in a nascent stage and only draft versions exist in the form of a wiki.

KDE HIG Wiki

HIG and me: Why the sudden interest ?

You might be wondering why I'm so into HIG ? Fair enough.

For the last couple of days I've been reading up on the HIG documents mentioned above to find out which one is the most intuitive.Currently Apple's HIG seem to be the best in terms of human readability.I'm basing this purely on what the HIG document says and this is coming from a non Mac user.GNOME's HIG are more closer to Apple's,one of the reason's why I'm a GNOME user.

Also, the main reason which made me take up this "study" was a bug which I filed in Flock's bugzilla. The bug is related to the Close Dialog box which appears when Flock's blog editor is closed.The bug and it's development can be viewed here.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Shopping Spree

Spencer Plaza

Spent yesterday Shopping for clothing at Spencer's Plaza.I'm returning to Spencer's after years.Nothing has changed much.It's still the same teen crowd.Come to think of it,Spencer's is the T.Nagar for the youth.Whereas T.Nagar area is usually crowded by middle aged people who are shopping around for jewellery or "sarees",Spenser's nowdays is filled with teenagers and office-goers who come to the mall to meet-up with friends.It's a really huge mall,and consists of three phases which are interconnected in such a manner that the transition from one phase to another is seemless.If you are in chennai at anytime it's well worth a visit, for the antique shops and the traditional clothing alone.It's located on Mount Road and any auto driver will take you there.

Flickr Photo

So yes,what did I get,got a couple of jeans and tee-shirts.My last pair of jeans were torn last week,poor jeans could'nt take the torture anymore.They managed to last for around 3 years and I guess they have fulfilled all their life's goals.

Flickr Photo

Spent the evening with some Pepsi and a plate of Samosa Channa and watching the masses go about doing their shopping.

Provogue

Flickr Photo

Each time I go to Spencer's I take a pledge that I will not enter the Provogue Showroom.Each time I have failed.zI'm a sucker for Provogue clothing.The provogue curse was in full effect yesterday and I managed to get some clothes.I love the colours which Provogue throws out every six months.Ohh, before I finish,I also paid a little visit to Southpark on my way back.Here's my pic,taken at Southpark Elementary. :P

Flickr Photo

Happy Birthday to me!

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Blogger Authentication Problem

Google's authentication system seem's to be screwed up.I'm not able to login to blogger *at all*. Worse thing is even if I do manage to signin, I'm signing in as a different user.Once I signed in as "Nithya Pillai" and the other time as "m_a_n_a_s".Damn!

At first I thought this was a problem with Firefox's cache,so I cleared the cache and tried again.Still nothing! Then I thought it was because of Infy's proxy servers caching the blogger domain.I was all ready to start cribbing to CCD(The Infy Administration team) when I got an e-mail from Thejesh saying that he had successfully signed into Blogger under my id!

Damn! If I can get this blog entry posted I would be happy.

Update:Turns out the problem was due to Infosys's proxy server whose cache was poisoned.I'm currently using the Chennai proxy server and it's running fine.

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Google Blogoscoped

I'm a google fanboy! I love the way they work and am fascinated by how such a huge company can churn out innovation at such a rapid rate while remaining true to it's ideals of "Do no Evil".Google Blogoscope is a blog about Google run by Philipp Lenssen.He is another Google fanboy.Here's what he has to say about Google.

"I believe Google is important because it serves as our pair of eyes in this virtual world. It is also a key to human knowledge and our global consciousness. It has the power to shape the thinking of millions of people hundreds of times everyday. Google isn't just a search engine; by adding more and more services (like Orkut, Google Talk, Blogger, Gmail, Google Desktop Search, Google Groups, Google Maps, Froogle, and Google Answers) it is quickly becoming the desktop of the future, and an extension to our brains."

Yes, I truly agree with his views.I once used to be a Yahoo guy.Y! messenger,Y! mail ,groups,briefcase are now replaced by Google's services.It's totally remarkable.The transition happened so smoothly that I did'nt even notice it taking place.Today irrespective of whether I'm on Windows(at office) or on Linux(at home) Google is the only unifying factor.

Coming back to G-Blogoscoped news tidbits can be contributed to this blog through the forum or through mail. Sometime back I did contribute to G-Blogoscoped.Here's my entry.It was a "bug" I found with Google search while I was playing around.

Philipp also works closely with Google but he is no "insider".You can find some G-Blogoscoped exclusive interviews with famous Googlers like Matt Cutts and at the same time the blog is not restricted to Google alone.Philipp also is in the process of writing his first Google Book "55 Ways to have fun with Google".So if you are interested in having a close eye on Google I suggest you subscribe to Google Blogoscoped.

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Rammstein Rosenrot (Rose Red)

I got hold of Rammstein's latest album Rosenrot.I was one of those who started listening to, and noticing this band from their success with Du Hast, the hit single which was part on the Matrix OST and is considered the Rammstein anthem.

Rammstein is an industrial metal band.Rosenrot is their latest offereing to the industrial metal genre.However,some tracks on this album will lean more towards symphonic metal.All the lyrics are in German except for the track Strib nicht vor mir (Don't die before I die) which features the vocals of Sharleen Spiteri. The german factor however will not stop you from listening to this album.Also, most of the tracks are tracks which were considered as rejects from "Reise Reise", their earlier album.Instead of thrashing them the band decided to release them as a separate album.So Rosenrot is actually "Reise Reise Vol 2".However, six of the eleven are Reise Reise tracks and five new ones have been added.


.Flickr Photo

Before I go into details about Rosenrot, a little history on Rammstein for those who have heard of this band for the first time.It's a west Berlin band who's first album was "Herzeleid"(Heartache) released in 1995."Sehnsucht"(Longing) followed in 1997and this was one catapulted Rammstein as the top European Industrial band.They have often been dismissed as Ministry wannabe's but with "Mutter" and "Reise Reise"(Rise Rise) they were able to shake off the stereotype image which they were building up.Rosenrot further distances the band from "Herzeeleid" and "Sehnsucht" type of music.This album is more similar to "Reise Reise" however it also carries over the ballad-baggage of "Mutter"(Mother).

Now more about Rosenrot,It has 11 tracks and instead of rating the whole album I'll rate each of the tracks.

Benzin:

This is the radio friendly track of this album.This track has the Rammstein stamp all over it. Fast,thumping vocals with a strong riff in the background.Starts off slowly and then picks up tempo like "Feuer Frei".There's a video for this single but I've not seen it.All I can pick up from the lyrics are petrochemicals names.

Rating: 3.5/5

Mann gegen Mann (Man against Man)

One of the weaker tracks.Nice guitar riff's which rise and fall with the tempo of the song.This songs shows Rammstein's roots.There's a distinct rise and fall in the song's structure which is weived well by the lyrics.Nice song structure but it's a case of "been there done that".

Rating: 2.5/5

Rosenrot (Rose Red)

One of my favourites.It has a ballad-y style with good rhythm.Sonds something similar to "Mutter" but it's faster and sounds more complete than "Mutter".It's got a good background drum beat which reaches symphonic cacophonies at times.On the whole a really enjoyable song.

Rating: 3.75/5

Spring (Jump)

Great Vocals.Till's vocal ability is really showcased in this song.This song is all about the vocals which range from whispers to snarls.Apart from the good vocals there's nothing interesting in this track.Ah! a guitar riff tries to saves the song in the end but nothing comendable and nothing really takes off.This song won't make you come back.

Rating: 3/5

Wo bist du? (Where are you?)

The slowest track on the album and it begins with a flute piece.It has a sad melancholic feel to it.Constant drums and a constant riff maintain the overall tempo of the song at a steady constant pace.A few traces of Gothic rock can be seen.

Rating: 2.5/5

Strib nicht vor mir (Don't die before I do)

Some new direction for the band.No distortion,clear guitar riffs and above all it's a duet featuring Sharleen Spiteri from the band Texas.Sharleen's lyrics are in English whereas Till sticks to his German roots.

Rating: 3.25/5

Zerstören (Destroy)

Finally some relief from the slow-mo songs.This one is fast and brutal.Excellent use of the synth.This is the symphonic part of Rosenrot, the symphonic instruments are combined with synth and distortion effects to give this song a very nice sound.Till's vocals are also good.Distortion solo's of guitar riff give it a great sound in the middle and a final cacophany of all symphonic instruments playing all at once gives it a great ending.One of the good Rammstein tracks.

Rating: 4.5/5

Hilf Mir (Help Me)

This song is based on a german story "Der Struwwelpeter" about a girl who lights a match and develop's a love for fire.A slow track which is laced with the words "Hilf Mir" which are cries for help in german.

Rating: 3/5

Te quiero puta (Spanish for "I love you,whore")

The only Rammstein song to use a trumpet and to use Spanish lyrics.Till actually sings the whole song in Spanish.It's actually funny listening to Till "try" to sing in a language other than German.Remember "Moscow" from "Reise Reise", this song is similar only more lively because a trumpet is used and a spanish harlot singing the chorus.A nice detour from the usual Rammstein road.Brings some fresh air but does'nt do much.

Rating:3/5

Feuer Wasser (Fire and Water)

Starts really really slowly.Picks up tempo and ends with a strong chorus.The song is about how Fire and Water will never become one.Really shows how deep rooted Rammstein lyrics are into the natural elements.Strong lyrics coupled with a good guitar solo makes this a song a "slow grower", a song you'll get to like after listening to it 3-4 times.

Rating: 3.25/5

Ein Lied (A Song)

This is literally "a song" for Rammstein fans.Another slow one,probably the slowest one finally concludes Rosenrot.

Rating: 2.5/5

Overall: 7.5/10

Judgement:

This is definitely RR2 but it's not as good in the ballad department as Mutter nor does it compare to "Sehnsucht" in the heavy department.It's somewhere there in between Mutter and Reise Reise.It's got some new direction but at the same time the band makes sure it's brought back to the Industrial Metal road.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Well..hello


My blog is worth $3,951.78.
How much is your blog worth?

Google Analytics

I just implemented Google's latest service Google Analytics on my blog.This will let me know how many people(if any) visit my blog and read it.I did it just to play around with Google Analytics.

This is how G-A works,you use you Google id to sign in(duh!) and register a domain under your Analytics account.Next you are given a piece of code which needs to be embedded on every page of your site.I guess this can also be embedded into the page template which will be used for each of your pages.Ok, so I managed to stick it into my blogger template in between the tags.Next G-A queries your domain to check if the javascript caode has been implemented in the right way.This took some time for me.After that, the reports generation process starts which usually takes around 12 hours for the reports to be generated.You can then access the reports from the GA website.

Features of GA are availabe as Views.Three views are available;Executive,Marketer and Webmaster.I'll explain Executive View first.The following are the features available in Executive View:

Flickr Photo

Executive Overview

This includes Reports on Number of visits and Pageviews,A World map to display from which regions the visits are coming in,and New and returning visits.

Conversion Summary

This view gives you the data on whether the number of visits have increaed or decreased over a particular time frame.

Marketing Summary

Gives information on the marketing efforts taken for your domain.How the top keywords,sources and Campaigns have affected the popularity of the site.

Content Summary

This feature gives you information on how the content on your website has helped in retaining visitors to your site.Again this is for a set time frame and gives you comparison data in weeks.

When one chooses the Webmaster view you get some interesting stats like Browser usage,Platform info,Hostnames and other parameters of your visitors .

All of the above mentioned reports can be exported to plaintext,XML or MS Excel worksheets.You can also set the date range for harvesting the stats to fill in your reports.

All in all this is a very good statistics service which can be easily implemented to all the pages on your site which you need to keep track of.It comes with chokeful of features and above all as is in all things Google it's free!A little overkill for a blog which nobody reads but I'm having some fun exploring GA's features.

I'll rate it 4.5 stars out of 5.


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Sunday, November 13, 2005

ILUGC Meet : Nov 12

Attended ILUGC's monthly meetup yesterday.I'm attending the monthly meet after a really long time.One of the reason's why I wanted to attend was because my involvement with the Chennai LUG community had been diminished and wanted to re-establish it.It was good to see the lot's of new faces at the Meet.Raman, the regular was there as usual.Missing in action were Bharathi.

Anyway another reason ws Kenneth Gonsalves a.k.a who had come down to Chennai from Ooty, and I had been pestering him for the last two months to give a talk at ILUGC.Anyway, he finally came and I really wanted to meet him in person,I've only met corresponded to him on IRC.

Flickr PhotoFlickr Photo

He was here to talk to the ILUGC about the contribution of India to FOSS.He also mentioned on how important scripting languages and esp. Python is to the FOSS Indian community and what is really required is end-user applications which can be used by the common Indian man.

Talk went well and we ended up talking up on the state of FOSS in India and on avsap, his pet project on Accounting and a serious competetior to Tally in the Indian Accounts Software Space in India.

The other presentation of the day was from a representative of OpenLX on KalCulate,another Accounting package running on Linux but non-free.I was also (forced to take away? ;)given a OpenLX Distro CD.

Ohh I also got a 2GB MS=Pro Duo card for my PSP on my way home.I can now use the 1 GB card on my phone.Who needs the nano ? :)

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License. My Way My blog. Toufeeq Hussain