Monday, November 23, 2009


I read about this ingenious project called the Question Box in the Indian Express this Sunday.  It is a great example how simple technology can help people around the world (especially the 3rd World).

It relies on a simple cell phone put inside a durable metal box and provided with two buttons - green and red.  When you want to ask a question just press the green button and the cellphone connects you to one of volunteers, he or she then looks up the question on the internet or a database to answer the query.

I think this device is a great way of putting information in the common mans reach, where most people in rural India/Africa can't even read and write, let alone use a computer.

The people at OpenMind have even developed an open source software which can used to start your own Question-Box project.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Buying a domain and more..

I was fooling around with the settings of my blogger account and impulsively ended up buying a domain of my own ! It wasn't hard to choose the domain name though, it had to be "Greaky".  For the better part of my online life I have always loved using the word greaky for various things, be it a nickname for my Quake III matches or just a userid for various websites I used to sign up for.  When people asked me what did it stand for - I used to say it is a mixture of Geek & Freak which incidentally now appears in the urban dictionary as a word !! I even have a gmail account by that name the days when gmail was by invitation only.

More about the domain : Well since this blog is hosted on, when you buy the domain you get a google apps account linked with it where you can go and create your own email address like mail AT, contact AT or whatever you like.  You can create upto 50 such accounts with 7GB (and growing) of mail quota each.  All this for just $10 (Rs. 450).  I guess very soon I will be thinking about changing my email address to mail AT greaky dot com and stick with it for the rest of my life..

Monday, October 26, 2009

Know your digital camera

Most people have a digicam nowadays, but very few actually know or use the features they offer.  Here is a simple tutorial explaining the basics of any digicam and how to use them.  You will be surprised how good your pictures can look if you follow these basic steps.  Afterall who does not like good pictures.

Here is one simple Microsoft utility which can be used to resize images especially when you want to email them or just save valuable HDD space.  After installing the utility all you have to do is the right click the image file(s) and click on "Resize Pictures" - Select "Large (fits a 1024 x 768 screen)" and voila you have a file that is not even 1/10 of the original size.  Printing these resized images is not recommended though. I personally keep the originals for pictures I might want to print someday.  If you are just going to view these images on the computer the resized image is good enough.

Don't Own a digital camera yet ?

Here is one great resource for reading up on the hundreds of models on offer and which one of them is the best for your needs.  The author makes it simple to choose a camera based on your needs - Just click on Dave's Picks and choose from the categories listed like "Long Zoom", "Pocket", "Budget", "Enthusiast" etc.  He has carefully reviewed the best models which fit the intended usage and neatly categorised them.  Certainly better than wading through tons of reviews or worse still buying a camera which your salesman thinks is the best!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

How we mess up our education system in India.

I have been a student of Kendriya Vidyalaya, and I know for a fact that our curriculum was much better than the state boards.  In fact till the year before I passed out of the X class (1991) we were given 5% extra on top of the percentage we scored in the board exams if were to cross over from the CBSE schools to the state board (In Maharashtra atleast).  We were also required to furnish a domicile certificate if we wanted to get admitted to a state board affilianted Junior College (class XI), I never really understood why were we given such a treatment.  On one hand the state was acknowledging that our study pattern had been better and on the other hand we needed to prove we were Maharashtrians enough !

I wondered why could we not have one single curriculum across India so that students could easily cross over from one school to another.  What is the point have every state have their own bodies which create their own curriculum ? Why not draw the best talent from all states and make them run the National curriculum program?  All we would need are some translators for the vernacular schools.   Guess we just like to give every state the opportunity to spend money on the exact same thing which the NCERT has already worked on.  Also it would give the regional parties a chance to introduce 'customised history' lessons. So much for a 'forever developing nation' which is short of funds !

I feel there are a lot of simple answers to the big questions India faces as a country, it just needs some common sense and a bit of political will to set it right.  Maybe they just don't want us to get smart, that way they can keep exploiting us and milking the country & filling up their already overflowing coffers.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Test Your Site in Different Browsers Using Adobe BrowserLab

Cross-browser testing has been one of the biggest challenges for Web designers because it is such an arduous and time-intensive task. Now with Adobe BrowserLab, designers have a simple solution that enables comprehensive browser compatibility testing in just a matter of minutes,The bad news is that the service is free for a limited time.
Another way to test your site is to use online services like BrowserShots, which generates screenshots for a web page in more than 80 versions of the most common browsers used in Windows, Linux, and Mac. The process takes time and you may have to wait up to an hour to see the screenshots.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lesser known features in GMAIL

Almost all of us have been using GMAIL since its launch. It can do a lot more than you on..
Well here some of things I have come across which are just too good not to be used.
The fastest way to work with computers is using a Keybaord, Period.
you better learn the keyboard shortcuts, not just on gmail but otherwise too.
to enable them go to SETTINGS>GENERAL>Keyboard Shortcuts On
Turn on wild and whacky features in GMAIL
Go to SETTINGS>LABS> enable/disable features you like
I personally use - UNDO SEND, Offline, Old Snakey (you can actually play snakey from within game!!), Sender Time Zone, Forgotten Attachment Detector.
Offline Gmail
Did you know that you can now use your email account in an offline mode ? which means you can read all your emails even when you are not connected to the internet right from the browser.  You can even send mails and they would be sent out whenever you have a connection.
Just follow these steps to get started:
  1. Click Settings and click the Labs tab.
  2. Select Enable next to Offline Gmail.
  3. Click Save Changes.
  4. After your browser reloads, you'll see a new "Offline0.1" link in the upper righthand corner of your account, next to your username. Click this link to start the offline set up process and download Gears if you don't already have it.
You have multiple email addresses !! :
When you choose a Gmail address, you actually get more than just "" Here are two different ways you can modify your Gmail address and still get your mail:
  • Append a plus ("+") sign and any combination of words or numbers after your email address. For example, if your name was, you could send mail to or
  • Insert one or several dots (".") anywhere in your email address. Gmail doesn't recognize periods as characters in addresses -- they just ignore them. For example, you could tell people your address was, or
  • You could use when you sign up for online banking and then set up a filter to automatically star, archive or label emails addressed to santasingh+bank.
  • You can also use this when you register for a service and think they might share your information. 
Happy Gmailing :-)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I am Back

I started off with so much enthsiasm back in Sept but somewhere lost track of this blogging business.  Going to have another shot at this, hopefully I will do better this time.