Thursday, June 30, 2011

Google+ is not Facebook

I have been blogging a lot on tech things these days. Although I want to maintain my status as a mixed bag blogger by writing about anything and everything, I could not resist writing when I come across something new. And the topic of the day is Google+ with all the media attention it generated in the week. 

Did you see the day's xkcd cartoon? Google+, What is it? Not facebook. What is it like? Facebook. How true! Let us compare and contrast Google+ with Facebook later. Before that, let me walk you through a simple tutorial.

Do you know how to increase popularity to your website or product?

  • First, create hype! Do your best! Blog about it, make some tech blogs write about it and let a few top shots try it and make sure they feel good about your product.
  • Second, restrict access to your product. Give access to people based on invites. And then, very shortly make a big announcement that you ran out of invites. The bigger your announcement is and the sooner you do it, the greater will be the hype generated.
  • Third, make sure to leave some ways so that people can get invites and call them hacks. So, the final picture is people have to hack their way to get access to your product.

And, Google followed all the three steps to make their new social networking stint "Google+" popular. And "the hack" to invite your friends is update your status message and share it with your friends through email addresses. They would get an email with a link, and clicking on it would create a Google+ account for them.

Google+ is the new Facebook. Unlike, Google's previous digs at social networking the interface is much cleaner and simpler. Remember how Orkut was filled with clutter in order to compete with Facebook's apps. And, Google Wave only saw the ebb but never raised high unlike a wave. Looking at the design of this new utility promising to connect you with your friends and family, this is here to stay.

If you have noticed the recent change in's interface, then you should understand that it is part of the big plan. Once you have created a Google+ account for your self, then the right most corner of the black bar on the top will come to life. You will have the "Share" box and notifications indicator waiting hungrily for your action.

Google+ lingo and insight tutorial (Level: Beginner)
  • News Feed on Facebook is Stream on Google+.
  • "What's on your mind" is Google+'s "Share what's new".
  • Pages on Facebook will be called "Sparks" herewith.
  • The famous Facebook "Like" button's competitor is not so well known "+1" button.
  • Friends or Family are the only two categories on FB. We have the new "Circles" concept. Drag and drop your fellow Google+ members into Friends, Family, Acquaintances, Family circles. You might as well create your own circle.
  • You have your Picasa photos, Google Talk and the infamous Google Buzz integrated.
  • Hangouts and Huddle are the new features to watch out for. Huddle is the group messaging feature and Hangout is the polished version of video chat. I am yet to explore these features completely.
So, are +you ready for Google+ ? 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Did you watch the Blood Red Moon?

"Mom, what's an eclipse?"
"Eclipse occurs when sun or moon disappears for a short time."

"Why do they disappear?"
"Because Rahu and Ketu gobbles them up."

"Why do Rahu and Ketu eat sun or moon?"
"Because Lord Vishnu caused harm to these demons."

"Can I watch it?"
"No, because the snakes might eat you"

I still remember a conversation like this happening between me and my mom many years ago. And, since I was always not allowed to stay out during a grahanam, as a little kid, I had huge imaginations about it. I used to imagine that if I watch the sun during an eclipse through an exposed film, I could as well see huge snakes slowly swallowing the part of the sun disappeared until then. I used to think of those humongous snakes. Although I never thought about partial eclipses. May be that happens when the Rahu boy and Ketu dude are not so hungry.

So, did you guys have a chance to see the eclipse? India was one of the few regions from which entire eclipse could be viewed. I watched the eclipse at regular intervals from Dubai. Well, not really in person, but through Slooh. Thanks to Google for sharing this with me! And, Slooh is the silent hero behind Google's lunar eclipse logo. 

Do share your experiences about this lunar eclipse, or photos if you have clicked any!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Multiple copy buffers in Vim

All these days I have been looking for multiple copy buffers on Windows or Linux, or anywhere. I thought this feature is so cool and useful that I just wanted to see this implemented in some software or other. And finally I am glad to be able to found the feature on a text editor "Vim". 

We all know how Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V works, and how useful it is for most of the mundane text editing tasks we deal with regularly. Doesn't having the ability to do something like Ctrl+C+1 for copying text1, Ctrl+C+2 for copying text2, Ctrl+V+1 for pasting text1 and Ctrl+V+2 for pasting text2. With multiple copy buffers support we can copy as many text we want in computer's memory and paste it whenever necessary while editing text files. 

On Linux, of all the various text browsers available, Vim is my favorite. Reasons - simplicity, speed and capability. And, I was so happy to find the multiple copy buffers feature available on this simple yet powerful text editor. In Vim, you will have to use yy to copy a line and p to paste it elsewhere in Command mode. To copy a line to buffer a, you can use "ayy. To copy a line to buffer b, you can use "byy. To paste the line copied into buffer a, you can "ap. Similarly, to paste the line copied into buffer b, "bp can be used and so on.

Although the notion of using something else apart from the standard Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V for copying and pasting for newbies who haven't used Vim quite often, there is a very high chance of you starting to like this textual editor once you explore its full potential. And, this multiple copy buffers feature only adds to its potential. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Adding keyword based site searches to browser

Have you ever wondered how typing "wiki mahatma gandhi" in your firefox browser's location bar redirects you to Gandhi's wiki page? Don't you think searching content on some sites you visit regularly by typing stuff directly in your browser without going to Google or Bing makes it lot easier? Here is a simple tutorial to add custom search engines to Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. Before we get started, make sure to have the following items ready. Pencil, sharpener, eraser, ruler and a sheet of paper. Lol, I'm just kidding. All you need is your computer with a browser, Firefox or Chrome. In this tutorial, I will add keyword based search feature for my blog site on the above mentioned browsers. For this I will be using the search box provided for the blog site by Blogger.

Google Chrome
To add custom search feature on Chrome, you will have to identify the search url first. You can do that by doing a dummy search. In the figure below, for search query "table" the url is identified by the box highlighted on the top ( Replace the query string with a %s and that will be your generic search string pattern. In our case, it will be "". Let's call this search query url.

Now, you may either type "chrome://settings/searchEngines" in your browser address bar or right click on the address bar of your browser and hit "Edit search engines.." as shown below.
This would open a page as shown below. Under "Other Search Engines", populate an empty row with the your site name, a keyword and the search query url we talked about earlier. In my case, I filled the row with "Psyche's Visage", "blog", search query url we identified earlier. 

Now, all I have to do is type "blog gandhi" in the address bar of the browser to search for all my blog posts related to Gandhi on a Google Chrome browser.

Mozilla Firefox
Firefox is a lot easier to deal with for our problem. All you have to do it right click on the search bar in your webpage, and hit on the option "Add a Keyword for this Search..." as shown below.

This would bring up a dialog box for creating Bookmark. Fill in the required details and save. In my case, I filled the values "Psyche's Visage" and "blog" for name and keyword respectively. 

Now I can search for content related to "Nehru" on my blog by typing "blog nehru" in the address bar of my Firefox browser as well.

I hope you find this post helpful.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Periodic Table 2011 Update

Apparently operating systems and softwares are not the only ones to get frequent updates. The elements of periodic table also have their turn. It is about time for all the science teachers to update charts of the periodic tables on the class room walls as two more artificial elements made their place permanent in the table. Although the life span of these these unnamed elements, only identified as element 114 and 116, is very short  scientists have decided to make their place permanent in history. These new elements are very unstable and they disintegrate seconds after their formation. I wonder who or what they will be named after, as 112th was named Copernicium after Nicholas Copernicus.
Taxi wrapped in Periodic table for promotion by Oxford Science Park last year.

Periodic table gave me a hard time when I was a kid, as we were expected to remember all its elements by heart. It was really hard trying to remember all the 103 names of natural elements by categorizing them. But in the end it was fun as you compete with your friends and play games with all those weird sounding names. Recently man made elements were making their place permanent in the periodic table and increasing it size.

More elements will more names for kids to remember! So, how many periodic elements did you have to remember when you were a student?