Super-Plus It!!

Hi Google,

Google Plus is great and I love it. Listing some areas where the product needs to get better:

Redundancy in the system:

Google has been aggregating my social data (contacts, pics, shares, etc) through its various services since almost 7-8 years now. It would be nice if I had the choice of moving this data to Plus, thus eliminating all redundancy. e.g.:

  1. Either integrate buzz with G+ or discontinue it. Why should I have two separate sharing streams? [Well, no more!!]
  2. I have tons of valuable pictures in my Orkut albums. Why can’t I export them to G+? [I can now, 🙂]

Exploiting Current Google Infrastructure:

It’s nice to see Picassa, oops, Google Photos adapted to G+. It would be even better to see other Google services employed for few missing chunks in Plus:

  1. Google Books: I want to share my reads (and even specific quotes), check what my friends are reading, know who all in my circles like a specific book, write and share reviews of the books I love.
  2. YouTube: One button shares from YouTube are a must. Moreover, YouTube should be to Videos what Google Photos is to Pictures. If I want to share my YouTube channel with (and only with) my Circles it should be achievable very similarly to as it is in Photos. Though I never understood why YouTube is treated as a third party video service (e.g. it requires separate login credentials). [now shares, and live hangouts]
  3. Google Calendar: I want to schedule events within my Circles. Period.
  4. Google Reader: Right now items shared from Reader go to my Buzz stream. They should go to my G+ stream. I don’t want to first copy the link and then paste it in my + profile.
  5. Search: You already might be doing something about incorporating Plus related changes to web search results cause you have pulled Real Time off. But I really need to know how fascinating my “friends” from the gym found this new movie that I want to watch. If they loved it I am avoiding it like plague. [They’ve done it 🙂]
  6. Google Answers: This might be a good time to unearth some graves.

Alternate Consumption:

Be aware that people will use G+ extensively for functions you might not have expected. Make sure your product evolves to facilitate these functions more effectively.

  1. As a substitute to mail: It is easier to click the share box (from wherever in the Google-verse you are), add the message or link and share (micro-mails) with your buddy than going to my inbox, composing a mail, typing the subject as well as the body and then sending it to his/her email id. Mailing will get scaled to official communications.
  2. Blogging: We notice you have not kept any limitation on the size of one’s post. And we will exploit it to share our ramblings. Got space. Will blog. (And +1, share, re-share)

Thanks for giving us a better social platform.


Editing K2 CSS for wider Columns

Not sure if this is something that people do not know already. I would still like to share this precious find, even at the cost of sounding like a moron.

System: I have a wordpress blog with K2 Theme (Fixed – Two Columns)

Requirement: I wanted to increase the column width so that blog covers a larger area in the browser window.

Solution (which I could not find after hours of googling :(): Edit the style.css file.

Caveat: May not work well if you have flexible columns

Here are the steps:

  1. Go to the Editor section under Appearance
  2. Select the style.css file
  3. Scroll to locate “columns-one #page”
  4. Edit the value mentioned for width for columns-one, columns-two and columns-three as per your requirement.
  5. Scroll further below to locate #primary
  6. Edit the value mentioned for width for primary as per your requirement.
  7. Save the file

Step 4 will change the width of the three columns of your blog. Step 6 will change the width of the text displayed in the first column. I increased the value of all 4 width variables by 200. Take a look at my blog to judge the result. I am sure similar changes can be applied to other themes on wordpress to increase the width of your blog. Happy Blogging!!

Step 4
Step 4
Step 6
Step 6

Hit it, AT&T.

OK, so this can turn out to be something really interesting if AT&T takes a cue from history and plays its cards right. As per reports from Bloomberg, Verizon may also start offering iPhone early next year. This could be another of those scores of news (read rumours) which “reported” that Verizon may offer its very own iPhone, and later turned out to be false. But in case it is true, AT&T is in the right place to take some sweet revenge.

Ever since Verizon ridiculed it’s 3G coverage, AT&T followed the righteous path of making an effort to upgrade its 3G infrastructure. And as evident in the results of PCWorld’s Second 3G Wireless Performance Test, this turned out in AT&T’s favour finally. Now, if the news about Verizon’s fling with iPhone is correct, the Texan Telecom giant has the right opportunity to turn the tables by doing to Verizon what Apple did to IBM in the year 1981. When IBM announced the introduction of its PC, Apple ran a full-page “Welcome, IBM. Seriously.” advertisement in The Wall Street Journal. David (Apple) was aware of Goliath’s (IBM) strength, and an in-the-face public challenge of this proportion was primarily aimed at fooling the market into reckoning the two companies at par.

Welcome, IBM. Seriously.
Welcome, IBM. Seriously.

I am not trying to suggest that the two circumstances are similar. The divide between IBM and Apple, 3 decades ago, was not even faintly representative of the difference between AT&T and Verizon today. I opine that, irrespective of it’s historical performance, this tactic may work well for AT&T. How would this help them? Isn’t AT&T expected to lose a sizeable amount of market share to Verizon if this ever happens?

Well, to start with, Apple’s involvement with other carriers is inevitable. Even if Apple had an exclusivity deal with AT&T which still stands valid, it’s just a matter of another year and a half before they are liberated to en-cash iPhone’s success by partnering with several carriers. Sooner or later , AT&T will have to share its fortune. And this may not be all that bad as it seems. iPhone 4’s initial reviews sound positive and the brand looks poised to get more popular. If some other carriers start offering the phone on their network, AT&T’s share will definitely go down but the number of customers may still rise. Moreover, this sharing will also help reduce the drastic overload, thanks to iPhone, on its 3G network.

The later it happens the better, but whenever it does, AT&T could uplift its image drastically and earn massive PR brownie points by doing what Apple did. So, they should keep up at the attempt to upgrade their 3G Network and when later this year Verizon announces its iPhone offering they should respond with a similar full page run up, welcoming Verizon to the cause of providing iPhone to gadget savvy souls, albeit, with the fine print, “Eat This, Bitches!!”.

The Search

Roughly ten years back, Doordarshan ran a series of selected Discovery Channel programs under the name Discovery Hour. The one hour show, instant pleasure for a nerd kid, was telecast everyday at noon during the summer vacations.

One of the episodes in the series was on Hinduism in the South-East Asia. The episode could also have been on tourism or architecture or some weird satanic pseudoscience prevalent in that part of the world. It was such a long time ago and the memory is so faded, I hardly remember anything. But there was one part of the show that got permanently etched in my mind. The narrator spoke (in poorly dubbed Hindi) of a river which had numerous Shivlings carved all along its bed. Apparently some sages, who had too much devotion and too little work at their hands, thought it was cool to cover the river bed with thousands of sacred phalluses, the aniconic representation of Lord Shiva.

I was moved. The story was too epical to not be. The episode ended and so did the vacations. Years of drudgery eroded every trace of information I had about the episode, except for the words, “South-East Asia”, “Riverbed” and “Thousands of Shivlings”. These words kept haunting me every once in a while, driving my brain berserk with curiosity. With Google at hand it’s difficult to be curious and not do something about it.

Armed with all those ‘+’ and ‘-‘ signs and quotation marks and other Google-tricks up my sleeve, I badgered Google with queries using unthought-of combinations of the clues I had retained. At one point of time, I was so actively searching for the story, I was afraid of being summoned by some secret intelligence agency, accused of plotting some perverted act of terrorism. Mr. Jain, do you plan to bomb the Mekong river with thousands of lingams? But, to my disappointment, the engine never relented. Over the years, Google evolved and so did my search queries, but that elusive information never showed up in the search results. And then I gave up. I could have tried more, but in a gradual ebb of apathy, I just gave up. That trivia was, for all purposes, dead to me.

A week ago though, the ghost revisited. A casual discussion with friends on religion went astray. I passed out after ejaculating my thoughts on Jainism in a throw of uncalled-for passion. When I regained senses, at around three in the morning, the motion of the house was growth and spread of religions. I quickly shared my two pence and mentioned the story of the sculpted riverbed. Predictably, the nostalgia held me like a family of five on a moped and I vowed to retry the search with a renewed vigor.

And, once again, the old and weary warrior arrived at the battle-field where he had been defeated time and again. With courage and maniacal determination he stood face to face with his nemesis, Google, ever wiser and more masterful, and armed with even larger amounts of mind-baffling datum. I attacked the gates of the fortress with queries I had used ever so often and as expected the gates stood with a serene intensity and showed no sign of even a little concern.

After an hour of getting had and took, I began to lose confidence and realized it was not a fight I could win. Perhaps, sometimes, to win a battle you first have to stop fighting. Specially, the battles being fought within. With a sense of humility and awe, I peacefully surrendered and knelt at the gates of Google, and asked “Where is the river with thousands of lingas carved in its bed?” and clicked on “I’m Feeling Lucky”. And instantly, the gates opened, blinding me momentarily with a bright surge of knowledge, and exposing the portal which led me to the valley of the thousand lingas, Kbal Spean.

Level 10 crossed. Finally!!

Came across this amazing amazing amazing game few weeks ago, and have been trying to complete it ever since. I recently crossed level 10, only to get stuck at level 11.. ;). The game is very addictive and is an ultimate time killing weapon (you have to start from Level 1 every time you give it a retry) but it boosts your Geography quotient like anything.

My travel IQ is 121. What's yours?
My travel IQ is 121. What’s yours?

The how-to is very simple, a random location (city, capital or famous place) is announced at the top bar and you have to mark it on the map of the world.  The closer and faster you mark the more marks you get. My personal best hit was just 5 km away from the target  (Oslo, Norway) in 2.81 seconds!!

Crossing the initial ‘easy’  stages is like cake walk but things get completely out of hand once you reach the ‘hard’ levels.. ever heard of places like ‘Praia, Cape Verde’ or ‘Libreville, Gabon’ ? But still it is fun pushing your grey cells to recall those 4th – 5th grade Geography lessons.  What more, they give some or the other trivia about the place in question at the bottom. And you can customize the game for various geographies.. I aced the Asia test :). Go on try it.

How Well Do You Know Your World

My Best Hit
My Best Hit