Sriranga

Jul 022010
 

Jumplist is one of the most prominent and useful features in Windows7. Many applications work very well with it. However, Gtalk fails miserably to implement even the most basic of jumplist feature – launching the application itself!

This is how Gtalk jumplist looks on Windows7

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If you, by mistake the main Gtalk window, you should ideally be able to bring it back by either clicking on the icon in the taskbar or by launching it from the jumplistst! However, neither of these options seem to work.

The only way you can make it work is by launching it from the system tray! Hope Google fixes this soon!

Apr 142010
 

When I got to know from a tweet that Rashmi Bansal has launched a new book and the author signed copies were available, I immediately ordered one for myself.

There are many reasons why I thought this book would be a good read:

  • I like the author’s previous book – Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish
  • I was thrilled to know that Kalyan Varma, an alumnus of my college is featured in the book.
  • ‘Connect the dots’ – a very catch title for me. It is good to know that both her titles are inspired from Steve Jobs speech at Stanford In fact I am so inspired by this speech, that I have dared to put this up at my desk  (Imagine Steve Jobs’ quote with his picture, in a Microsoft campus!)

This book is very similar to her previous book “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”. It is also a collection of mini biographies of people who have made it big, bitten by the entrepreneurship bug. The only difference being the fact that this book is filled with exciting awe inspiring stores of people who have made it big without an MBA degree whereas the previous one features only individuals from the coveted IIM-A.

The stories/interviews are long enough to quench your curiosity and inspire you and short enough to make sure you don’t get bored. Each story ends with a section on “Advice to Young Entrepreneurs” which by itself makes a good handbook for people who want to get their hands dirty, starting on their own.

It is very surprising to read about the variety of backgrounds the featured personalities have come from, and more so the events or ‘dots’ that have led them to where they are today. True to its title, every story unravels the dots which none of them  could have connected looking forward but makes a lot of sense when retrospected.

The ‘too=hard-to-believe’ twists and turns in the lives of these people is just mind blowing. It just shows that the Dhirubhai Ambani kind of stories is neither glorified nor is it a one in a billion kind.

Rashmi Bansal has done an amazing job in keeping the language desi which has become an interesting trend with modern Indian authors. A must-have book in the library of every budding entrepreneur.

Mar 052010
 

No, This is not a security hole in Outlook. It is just one of the creative ways to make use of Rules feature in outlook.

I am not sure about yours, but my computer is always connected to the internet when it is switched on. And it is switched on unless there is a power cut at my place :)

Many a times, I have felt like controlling my downloads, reset modem, shut down my comp or lock it after I realize I have kept it open. Although there are a lot of ways you can do it(see logmein, VNC, VNC on lifehacker), if all you want to do is run simple scripts or launch an application, look no further. You can set up Outlook to do the work for you.

Go to Tools –> Rules and Alerts

 

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Click on New Rule, add any rule which is convenient to you. I have chosen “Move messages  with specific words in the subject to a folder” and click next. Specify an uncommon word in your subject lines in this field  “986786374shutdown” and then when a dialog box appears asking you “What do you want to do with the message?”.

 

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Edit the rule descriptor by clicking on ‘application’. Select the application which needs to be run when you send a message with the subject line which you had set before.

if you want to run dos commands – you can create a .bat file and put you commands in that.

ex: if you want to shutdown your machine : shutdown –s –t 10

That’s it, now you can control your machine by sending email to yourself. It’s as simple as that.

I use this to start my download manager, shutdown my computer etc. Let me know what you would use it for.

Dec 302009
 

 

In these 2 months of working, I have tried to make a list of essential stuff to be kept in your cubicle. Things which have helped me a lot, and things which I think will help me in the future :-
cubicle

  1. Stationery Box : You can find them in any decent stationery store.  A box consisting of some pens, highlighters, sharpened pencils, erasers, staplers, a pair of scissors, a cutter, whitener, eraser and markers.

    Also keep a dozen of your passport photographs with you all the time. You never know when you have to fill that important form right away!

  2. Food-ware : You never know when the food ordered by your team gets delivered without a fork/spoon and plates to use them with!

    Paper plates, a stainless steel fork/spoon (plastic ones are of no use!), paper cups and a bunch of tissues will come a long way in emergencies. Not to forget toothpicks!

  3. Extra pair of clothes: There will be times when you will have to/ feel like staying back at office. So it’s always a good idea to keep a pair of clothes in your office for emergency purposes. Even if you will never have to stay back, an extra pair can come into use when you spill gravy on your shirt and have a meeting to attend or at times when you come to office fully drenched.

    Also advisable is to keep an extra pair of shoes and a jacket.

  4. Chargers: These days most phones come with a data cable which can also be used to charge them. These cables are cheaper than chargers most of the time and serve other purposes too.
    If you possess a smart phone, you can copy your documents into it and have a look at them on the go!

    If you have a very basic phone, it’s a good idea to buy a spare charger. It also helps to get an extra adaptor in case of laptops, it will reduce the weight of your backpack considerably.

  5. Dustbin: The MOST important of them all. True, these days most cubicles have one. If you don’t, stop reading this right now and buy yourself a trash can. I just can’t emphasize how important this is :)

You can also consider buying the same model of keyboard/mouse which you use in your office for your home or vice versa depending on which is more comfortable. Trust me, this alone can increase your productivity if your job involves a lot of typing/ ‘mouse work’ “ :)

What do you keep in your cubicle?

Nov 232009
 

It’s been 3 weeks since I started working at Microsoft GTSC, I have been fiddling around with a lot of Microsoft tools and can’t help myself admiring the ease of use and thought which has gone into developing each of the tools which makes my job easier.

One such indispensible tool is Outlook. I am using Outlook 2007 which is connected to Exchange server. In Microsoft, most communication happens through E-mail. If you want to schedule a meeting, assign a task, block your training hours – Outlook comes in handy.

I am a big fan out Outlook, particularly the Calendar feature. It lets me manage my time and plan for the day efficiently, but I have a minor problem :

By default, the work hours in Outlook are set to begin at 0800 and end at 1500. You can of course customize it to reflect your work hours by going to

Tools –> Options –> Preferences –> Calendar options

Calendaroptions

You can easily set your start and end time, but here’s my problem. My work starts at 1930 and ends at 0430. I tried entering the same and threw me an error saying “The end date you entered before the start date”.

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By default all the weekdays were selected, and If I start at Friday 1930, the end date falls on a Saturday. I thought this would fix the problem. I tried again after checking on Saturday. Ding! Again! “The end date you entered before the start date”.

I binged to see if there is a possible solution or workaround online, and I found these 2 KB articles

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/177810 for Outlook 97

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/196804 for Outlook 2003

Both, stating There is no workaround for this behaviour. So this has been there for long and as I can see, this has not been fixed even in Outlook 2007.

Hopefully it will be fixed in the next version of Outlook. Till then my work timings at least in outlook is 0800 to 1700!

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Sep 292009
 

September is the month of premieres and some season premieres. I love the season premieres of my old favorites and found some new ones which are surprising good, and one show which was surprising bad!

What’s new?

The Good Wife: This is the story of Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) who is an attorney by education turns into an attorney by Profession after her Husband, a State Attorney gets caught in a corruption and a sex scandal. A legal Drama with a tinge of family issues. Looks promising, but it’s too early to say.

Rating: 7/10

Modern Family: A Mocumentary with the tag line – One big (straight,gay,multi-cultural, traditional) happy family. The writers do have a good sense of humour. It’s very different from what normally comes on TV. The way they connect the ‘micro-families’ together is indeed brilliant. Give it a shot if you like comedy and want something different.

Rating 8/10

The Cleveland Show: Honestly, the only reason I gave this show a try is coz it’s an off shoot of Family Guy, one of all time favorite. Cleveland leaves Quahog(the Family Guy town) and plans to live in California. I am surprised Seth MacFarlane screwed it up so badly. It’s anything but funny. It was downright boring! I will still give it a second chance and see how it fares up next time. Right now, it’s a thumbs down!

Rating 3/10

Old Dog, new tricks : Season Premieres

dexter_1Dexter: Dexter is back, and it’s back with a bang. Dexter is a Family man, and I thought this would deteriorate the thrills and chills this show brings you – I was wrong! The first episode was fast paced and entertaining with a twist in the end typical of Dexter episodes. If you have not been watching Dexter, you are missing out on a lot of Entertainment.

Rating 9/10

The Big Bang Theory: The latest episode of Big Bang Theory exceeded my expectations. Lot of Chemistry between Lenard and Penny. Sheldon is at his usual best. I am surprised he didn’t win an Emmy this year! I have seen many people with a ‘I don’t get it’ look on their face after watching BBT. You will really enjoy the show if you know your high school science stuff and can relate to it. A show I truly look forward to watching every week.

Rating 8/10

How I Met Your Mother:

HIMYM is back again. I remember watching this show for hours together. I was addicted to it. The characters are really lovable and Barney is simply superb! Lily, Robin, Marshall, Ted and Barney are a treat to watch. Now that Barney is going out with Robin makes it even more interesting. A must watch.

Rating 8/10

I plan to check out more new series, I will add them to the list as I watch them. Suggest me some good tv shows which you love.

Sep 192009
 

Google’s Gtalk is a bit confusing right now. Some features which are available on the web client (read Gmail) aren’t available on the Desktop Client. You can’t be invisible and receive files from your friend!

You can’t talk to your friend and have a group chat at the same time! It’s ridiculous.

GoogleTalkLogo_1

I wonder if people use Gtalk only because it logs you on automatically when you check your mails on Gmail!

Though I like the web based client, the desktop client never ceases to irritate me.

1.  Show current music track -

If I try to set my status message to ‘Show current music track’. It crashes! I know it doesn’t happen to everyone, but I know a lot of folks who are facing the same nuisance. This happens if you are using a Media Player which is not Windows Media Player, iTunes or Winamp (with some tweaks).

2.  Sending a receiving files

If am logged on to the web client and on to the Desktop client at the same time. I cannot receive files! Closing the Gmail window doesn’t help too. This is highly irritating, and is miraculously solved when I relogin in the desktop client. So much for ease of use!

3. Group chat

People who have been using the Desktop Client only will not have an idea what I am talking about. It’s true you can have a Group chat in Gtalk, but it’s only using the web client. You get an invitation to join a conference and the group chat opens in a new chat window. It’s quite useful sometimes, but why not have it in the desktop client!!

4.Enable  Video chat in desktop edition

Google had recently introduced Video chat on the web client, but not on the desktop client! Weird… It should have been the other way round

5.  Organize Contacts -

I wonder why this never occurred to Google. The labels feature in Gmail is very creative, why not create a similar thing for contacts. I hate to see a long list of contacts in Gtalk. Yahoo and Live Messenger have had similar feature since a very long time. Why hasn’t Google given much thought towards it?

I agree it fairs high on the ease of use and simplicity aspects, but add a little more productivity to this and this will one day become one of the best IMs.

6. Set as Invisible -

This was a killer feature when it was first introduced in other Instant Messengers. Again, this feature is available in the browser edition of gtalk but sadly not in the client application. Yahoo actually goes a step further where in you can appear invisible (kinda oxymoron :P) to select few of your friends.

7. Rich Text Format text area -

RTF allows you to express yourself better. Again, most other IMs have it, why not Gtalk?

Do you have any feature in mind which could enrich your experience with Gtalk? Discuss in the comments section.

Sep 052009
 

It was 1998 when I first entered the world of Internet. My first email id on netaddress.com and to visit the WWF (now WWE) website. Since then, I have come across a lot of logos, designed some – using Fireworks, Flash and what not. I will tell you some of the things which I have learned in the process.

First of all, some of the really good looking ones are not ‘efficient’..and some really ‘efficient’ ones are not all that attractive..

There are some sites like logolabsLogoworks and others who will design logo drafts for you at a cost of around $100. The samples on some of the premium logo design sites will definitely astound any prospective client. But, in the end it all boils down to an unique font accompanied occasionally by a graphic.

Some logos have a story behind the way it is designed, say Amazon where the orange arrow from A to Z indicates everything is available and also looks like a smile. It’s good to have a ‘meaningful’ logo, but not all logos need to have an inner meaning.

Some Popular Logos

Some Popular Logos

If you are a careful observer, you must have observed that logos of most successful corporations are designed to be very simple. Still it makes a huge impact. You don’t want your corporate logo to look like a name of some rock band. Do you?
Major Corporations like HP, Microsoft, Oracle, Xerox, Nike, Jockey and others have very simple looking logos, yet it makes a strong impression on you. Even top Game producing companies like EA, and animation companies like Pixar and Dreamworks have simple logos.

Here are some tips to keep in mind while designing a corporate logo :

  • Use simple fonts : Some complex looking fonts might impress you at first, but keep in mind that your logo must be displayed and printed on a variety of items. e.g., Font like Times New Roman looks good when printed, but is not so readable on a computer screen. A company’s logo must go on a letterhead, business cards and other printed material as well as on display media such as Computer and TV screens. So go for a fonts which look good on both.
  • Use Vector Graphics: If your logo draft is hand drawn, try to make a vector replica of it. You can use tools like Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw or even Photoshop to achieve the same. Using a vector graphic has one BIG advantage. Your logo can be upscaled or downscaled to any proportion without losing clarity. This becomes very important when you put up your logo on large banners or hoardings.
  • Use a high resolution : Most image editing software lets you define a Resolution in Pixels Per Inch. This is very important if you can’t create a vector replica of your logo and choose to use non-vector version. A high resolution ensures that your logo doesn’t look pixellated when enlarged or when printed on paper. Generally 72 PPI is recommended for graphics which are used exclusively on the web which is seldom the case. Anything above 600 PPI will make your image look crystal clear when printed with a high quality printer.
  • Use minimum colors: A colorful logo might appear very attractive when viewed on a computer, but has serious drawbacks. Imagine you choose to order t-shirts or coffee mugs with your logo embroidered or printed. Use of minimum and easily reproducible colors will make your life much easier. If possible, try to design a monochrome logo which looks good on a variety of backgrounds.
    Also, if the color of the logo matches with the background, it is advisable to go for the inverted-version of your logo.
    By inverted I mean to say – If your current design is in white, make it black and vice versa. Technically if the color of your logo is (R,G,B), the inverted logo color will be (255-R, 255-G, 255-B).

You can get a good collection of free fonts from dafont, Urban fonts and Free Fonts. Also here is a link to top 100 most popular professional fonts by Just Creative Design.

Hope these small tips help you. Please leave a link to your logo, if you happen to design one after reading this article.

-Sriranga

Aug 222009
 

For most of us, a Search engine is the gateway to internet. We rely on it for day to day tasks. Thanks to search engines, we need not remember a plethora of domain names; a few words which you can remember from a site is all that is needed to take you to the right site.

A large population of internet users seldom click any link other than the first one the search engine throws at them. Some of them go further and explore the next page, and rarely does anyone go beyond the 3rd of 4th page. I was always wondering why Google says it found some millions of results as people are never interested in viewing the 1000th results let alone the millionth one. I was wondering why they’re waste computational resources on indexing data no one would ever use.

Today, I tried a little experiment. I searched for Apple on Google. It returned a whopping 340 Million results!! Whew.. Then I tried accessing the 2nd page.. I noticed there is an attribute which is seen in the address bar called Start, which changes for every page. e.g., for the 2nd page the PageStart value is 10, which actually says show results starting from the 10th page which is quite logical.

The URL looks something like this

http://www.google.co.in/webhp?hl=en#hl=en&safe=off&q=apple&start=10&sa=N&fp=2b0cc07f38284dd0

I tried changing the number for 10 to 2000 to see the 201st page, but I was in for a surprise -

Sorry, Google does not serve more than 1000 results for any query. (You asked for results starting from 2000.

Here it is, Google can’t serve you results exceeding 1000 for any query! So the first question which was haunting my head was resolved..

I wanted to play around with Google more, so I tried giving another value – this time 640 to see if I actually get redirected to the 65th page.

http://www.google.co.in/webhp?hl=en#hl=en&safe=off&q=apple&start=650&sa=N&fp=2b0cc07f38284dd0

Above is the URL I tried in my browser. It said “ Results 431437 of about 340,000,000 for apple”

Results 431437 of about 340,000,000 for apple

And it is now on page 49! Results 431- 437 should ideally be on page 42, moreover it should have actually displayed results 650-660. After all it has 340M results and it has no problem displaying upto 1000 results for any query.

Why is this anomaly present in Google? It is not specific to this search term alone. I have tried it with different search terms and all the time I see such anomaly.In some cases, clicking on the next page reloads you the same page.

All of the following URLs differ in the Start property but all point to the same page. Also you can see that the page number which is highlighted in each case. Though different numbers are highlighted in each case, we get to see the same result page everytime!!!

http://www.google.co.in/webhp?hl=en#hl=en&safe=off&q=microsoft&start=450&sa=N&fp=2b0cc07f38284dd0

Go to the above URL and click on the next page (46). You will land up on the same page again! This anomaly differs with each keyword!

I don’t understand why this anomaly exists. If anyone has a clue about this, please let me know through comments.
Also, please share with me if you find any such anomalies in other search engines too!

RNG