Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Dubai Default: A sign that the worst is still not over.

Recession had hit us hard. So much so that even to this day we haven’t been able to say that we have fully come out of it. As if we didn’t have enough, the news of Dubai asking for extra time to pay its debt has shaken all of us. Well everything does come at a price.

Dubai. Images of Dubai are simply breath taking. The scenic view, the architecture, the cleanliness, the big brands, the gold, the world islands, the palm….are simply awesome creations. For an onlooker like me, it simply speaks of overflowing wealth, but one that’s probably well harnessed. I remember watching an article on Discovery channel about the world islands. How it was conceptualised, the planning, the execution, the problems, the work standards were really awe inspiring. Dubai truly speaks or atleast spoke of a success story.

This recent ‘Dubai Default’ as it’s called reminds me of a story my teacher told me years ago when I was in school. We were learning about petroleum and how its extracted to the different stages like destructive distillation, etc. While we were learning about extraction, my teacher told me how one must be careful about one’s greed. You probably are thinking what’s the relation between greed and petroleum extraction. Well when I first heard it even I was taken aback. But later I got the point. When you extract oil you should know how much the oil the well contains. When you know that you should know how much you can extract. It may be unfortunate to know that you cannot extract more that a limit. If you do so, you are given a fitting reply.

It so happened once, a long long time ago, that a few Arabs had lost their way in the desert. As they were walking trying their best to get somewhere they happened to see some black dense fluid oozing out from the ground. On inspection they realized that they had stumbled by an oil well. Those Arabs, filled with excitement settled there and started to supply oil to the nearby areas. Sooner or later, many merchants came to that place. The place started brimming with activity. From a small tribe it grew into a village, a town, a city and into a metro. Many people from far and near came there to do business. As the demand increased so did the pressure on the merchants who invariably put the pressure on the oil well. They kept on extracting. As the resource began to deplete they dug deeper.

One day, the whole city with all its people disappeared. There was no trace of them. No skyscrapers, no structures, nothing. Everything gone. Everything was lost, that too in thin air. Where did all go? Well, as the people extracted more and more, the oil began to deplete creating a vaccum which spread beneath the city. One fine day, the vaccum gave way, and everything came crashing down into the depths of the desert.

The tale of Dubai and of all the nations who have been hit by these financial problems is somewhat similar to this story. Being successful is very good. But success should come through right means and with a pace that’s progressive and not a rampage. Rising to the top by trampling people beneath you is not success.

Unfortunately the world doesn't see that. It doesn't see that the path is important too. We probably have got so much blinded by this charm of being wealthy that we didn’t even see the recession coming. Even if we did we thought it won’t have a major effect. Today unfortunately, so many people are jobless. Some of those are the sole bread winners of their families. It’s heartening to see so many people, some of whom have left their families behind in search for better jobs, are looking endlessly into the future with weary eyes and crest fallen hearts for this recession to end. Unfortunately for them, the Dubai news doesn't sound good. The wait for a better future just gotten longer.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tips and Tricks to browse the net at lightning speed.

Life is truly very unfair. If on one side you have people blessed with things in quantity much more than they deserve on the other side you have people with barely anything. Apart from the basic necessities of life like money, food and housing this holds true even for internet speed. While the people on the fast lane do and indulge in things online with zip-zap-zoom speed, people like us who are stuck on the slow lane cant do anything except for yelling and abusing (something like honking when you're stuck in chock-a-block traffic). So is there something that we can do to increase our net speed and give us some solace in return? We may not be able to reach to the level of the one’s on a high-speed connection but we can definitely better what we have that too without spending a dime.

Below are some tips and tricks to browse the internet faster.

Optimize your computer:
What's the similarity between a Formula 1 car manufacturer and a carpenter (or for that matter any craftsman)? 90% of the time he works on bettering his tools. The race or the work is just a display or exhibition of his creation. If you do not have the best car or the most sharpened tools you are never going to make it. Let me clarify that this doesn't require spending of money. As I said in the beginning everything you read about here is free. There are tools in your computer that actually do wonders not only where net speed is concerned but even where overall performance is concerned. Tools like Disk Check, Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter when used on regular basis can keep your machine primp and promp. For detailed instructions on how to use them, click here.

Use a fast and bare minimal browser:
Once you have worked on the basics of the car, you have to decide on the fuel. This is important as the kind of fuel you use will decide the amount the power you get. A good engine with good fuel is a deadly combination. That’s the reason F1 cars don’t run on ordinary and easily available gasoline. It’s a tightly controlled mixture with specially added additives to derive maximum performance.

Relating this to web browsers, I would say unfortunately, till now, Internet Explorer is like the ordinarily available gasoline. By using it, you will never be able to get ahead. However, if you have no choice and you have to compulsorily settle for it then I would recommend you tweak it a bit. To do so, click here.

If you don’t have to use IE, then please do me and yourself a favour by switching over to some other browser preferably Mozilla Firefox. Apart from it being fast, the beauty lies in it being open source. That means round the clock there are lakhs of people thinking and working on it to make it better, faster and more secure. In addition, you also have thousands of freely available add-on’s that enable to you to do more in less time. For a list of add-on’s that I use, you can click here (this also covers keyboard shortcuts and download manager).

You can also go ahead and customize it with freely available themes to give it the look and feel you desire. If you're still not satisfied with what you have then you can get your hands oily by doing a little bit of tweaking described here.

Make use of tabs, not windows:
Learn to make use of tabs instead of opening every site in a new window. Every latest web browser supports tabs. If you wish to open a page in a new tab then simply right-click on the link and choose “Open in New Tab” from the option list or simply press the scroll-wheel on the link.

Opening pages in new tabs instead of windows not only helps you switch between pages seamlessly but also saves on precious RAM memory that is used by every browser window that is opened. But this doesn’t mean that you open up a million tabs. Keep it down to a maximum of 5 to keep things neat and tidy.

Browse the smart way:
By simply running your car around the track over and over will never get you the podium. You have to be smart enough and sometimes take the shortcut (legally of course). Why waste time following the beaten path. Be different and think differently. is such a website that can get things done in a must faster and easier way. It’s basically a visual directory with all links to websites one visits often. That may be websites for email, social networking, downloads, news, matrimonial, money making and more. Also there's no registration required. So next time before you type in the URL of a website you want to go to, think twice. It would be much easier and faster if you just clicked it.

Use a reliable anti-spyware and antivirus.
Having a race-winning car does not end there. You have to from time to time protect it from the bad guys. A slight malfunction or an outage issue can bring down performance drastically. So you have to be on the watch out.

Many viruses and spyware’s on the internet are designed for this very purpose. They pretend at first to be friends. By the time you realize they are your enemies you have been harmed substantially. To avoid this, make use of a good antivirus and anti-spyware. Also make sure that they are always up to date. For a list of good antivirus and anti-spyware visit the downloads section here.

Happy browsing.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Web designing: What a pain it can be.

There's something magical about web designing. Seriously. According to me, web designing is a perfect amalgamation of intelligence and creativity. It demands so much from the individual that only a very few people are able to reach that level. But inspite of all the odds, there are thousands and thousands of people who not only draw pleasure from it but also earn their living out of it.

I don’t quite remember how I was exposed or rather introduced to this whole world of web designing I should say. I was fairly young when I got my hands on the internet. I remember the day when I opened my first email account. The cyber cafĂ© where we went charged Rs.60/hr. That’s a whole lot compared to the Rs.20/hr we pay that too for broadband rather than dial-up in those days. But I guess at that time the net meant altogether something else. It was like access to some fantasy world. Information was now available on the fingertips, you could hear songs, send emails and share pictures. It was simply just awesome. The excitement of opening an email account was coupled with that day being my birthday. So it was timed as you can say. But it was really nice.

When finally we got net access at home surfing the net became a regular activity. It was something like watching TV. Checking emails everyday became a habit. Waiting well into the night for attachments to download was also a regular affair. But that was a part of the game. I guess here it was that web designing seemed to have caught my eye. The thought of designing a website and having thousands and thousands of people coming daily to your site was something that could take me on cloud number 9. I think the thought may have become so evident that everyone around me soon deciphered that I wanted to be a web designer. It so happened at an exhibition my principal gifted me a book titled “How to design your own website”. It was a book on web designing for starters, that’s what I would say now. For me at that time it was the doorway to heaven.

I still remember the first website I designed. I would best like to describe it as something I prefer not remembering. Such bold use of colours that even the font was not visible. What was worse was that the website background was the poster of Charlize Theron. That definitely might have made readability better (hahahaha). I’m sure my par-exceptional designing skills might have not attracted but definitely driven away many many people who even had the courtesy of visiting my website.

As time went by, I slowly and gradually picked up the finer nuances of this art. The proper use of colours, font and font size now seemed to be the left hands play. At the end of the day, and after many many attempts I can say that I have a website that atleast is presentable to people. The journey has been long, painful, disappointing and depressing but it has been worth the wait and effort (atleast where designing is concerned). If you would like to see my website click here.

I wish designing only included designing the schema of the website and forgetting it. Unfortunately, it just starts there. I don’t even think there’s an end point. It’s something like you have an empty box, now you have to start filling it. But that’s not all. It’s also not that there are only a few things to be done. There’s infact a lot. Firstly you got to have great content. Sounds easy??? Well heres the catch. The content should be relevant, up to date and original. Most people don’t even make it past this. For those who have there’s something called SEO (Search Engine Optimization). What’s this, well lemme explain. Majority of the people on this planet search for stuff on they net they’re looking for. If you’re site happens to offer that stuff then they will be directed to your site by the search engine. So SEO is nothing but telling the search engine what your site offers so that many people may find your site in the search results they get.

There’s also something known as Link Building. It’s telling other webmasters to include your sites link on their website so some of they’re users are directed to your site.

When you have managed to get all these things right (its easier said than done) you land up getting great traffic and page ranks which makes your site very popular and in turn generates a lot of income for you.

At the end, all I can say is that web designing is the same as a card game. You don’t quite know what you’ve got till you’ve see all the cards. What may seem amazing at the onset may not be so enticing at the end.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Today's Buzz: Follow me on Twitter

There are really many surprising things in life. They can be from the sombre to the wackiest and wildest things. But there is something that has surprised me, still continues to do so and I guess will continue to do till I ever get to terms with the situation. And that is Twitter.

Twitter is a social-networking website, a micro-blogging service. It’s a website where all you have and got to do is post updates. That’s all. All you have is 140 chars. That’s it. To be honest, on a given day, I don’t think even a thousand chars would be sufficient to explain my state. After all there are a lot of things I do and would like to share. Something like, I got late to work, my colleague cracked the same joke he did last week, my boss seems to be getting inspired from Hitler, a guy likes a girl but she likes someone totally different, my friend has just top scored amongst all of us (I’m not talking of any game) there are honestly so many things to share. So many things and all I have is just 140 chars. Something I would say is a Herculean task. But that is no deterrent for the thousands of people who tweet and tweet every sec, every minute, every day of their life. It’s got so many people addicted that even the President of the US and many other international and national celebrities have not been spared.

Twitter has actually proved one thing in a big way. That is that whatever you do and however you may feel it’s actually possible to evoke a reaction from someone somewhere. It’s so shocking to note that a simple tweet like “I have just woken” generated so many replies. The replies ranged from the common and good-old “Good Morning” to “What’s the matter, why so late”. Is it that the human craves so much for attention that no matter what, he would go on and on just to make sure that people keep hooked on to him and page him from time to time?
Twitter has got so many people buzzing (or rather I should say tweeting) that now it’s become impossible for people to just let go of it. It is also said that one of the primary reasons behind the split of Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt was twitter. Brad Pitt seemed to be spending a lot more time on twitter than on wifey Jenny. Though twitter may have got quite a few number (that’s actually very large) of people in trouble (after all, all addictions do) it has also changed or rather transformed many peoples lives for the better. Twitter enables commoners like us to follow all the people we love, care, cherish and look upto. It gives us updates of all the happenings live. Twitter is used by so many people to reach out to thousands of followers. Whether it may be Barack Obama tweeting about health reforms or Shashi Tharoor explaining his state visit to countries like Uganda and Somalia which very few people have heard of; it does keep people in touch. Twitter is also used by so many corporate to keep in touch with their employees; non-profit organisations and NGO’s to organize fund-raisers.

Going by the popularity of twitter one thing can be surely said, that it is here to stay. If you feel that 140 chars are way too little then probably you may have not yet heard of the twitter lingo. You’ll be shocked on knowing how short your long long sentences can actually be. It is also heard that twitter users are now soon going to come out with all the bestsellers in twitter language. That I guess speaks a lot. Twitter is all about sharing, updating, posting, replying, following and being followed. The more the followers the more your reach. The more your reach, the more valuable you are (if you’re a link-builder then this may seem like a golden rule to you). But for us commoners it’s all about tweeting “Good Morning” and getting many greetings in return.

In case you may like to follow me on twitter then find me on

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