Blog filled with:

Technology | Sketches | Photos | BITS

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sketch: Happy New Year + Contest!

Here's the official post wishing you a 
Happy New Year!!

PS: Like the sketch/caricature? Read on to know how to get one for you! :D

2008 was a great year, but I'm guessing you've already seen/read a lot about "10 Best blah blah of 2008". (Or what to do this holiday @ Google Blog :D) And everyone's busy sending greeting messages (& I'm in a hurry too!), so I'll keep this short. 

I wanted to do something for my blog readers, so I thought of having a small contest (Inspired by some popular Design Blogs!). But since I can't offer much, I decided to make use of the pen tablet I have for a few days and make a sketch/caricature (or whatever you like to call it :D) of   4  5 of my Blog Readers! (Like the one above!) All you have to do, is a leave a comment, about "Your 5 Goals for 2009".

The  4  5 lucky people will be decided as following:
  • The First two people who leave a comment on this post.
  • Two Three people selected at random (Yes i'll draw lots) from the rest of the people who comment.
Every person is counted only once :P and please leave a comment using your Gmail id so I can contact you for a reference pic (Or leave your email id.. though I prefer the former).

So well, the rules are simple. Leave a comment about "Your goals for 2009" before 6:00 PM, 2nd January 2009 3:00 PM, 4th January 2009 (Indian Standard Time) and you'll have a chance to get a nice (I'll try my best :D) sketch/caricature :)

And well, here are my 5 goals for 2009:
  1. Have a great time during Quark (Tech Fest) & Waves (Cultural Fest) at BITS Pilani, Goa Campus.
  2. Try and learn Designing (hopefully get the Creative Multimedia Course).
  3. Explore Silverlight (Heard it?) & C#.
  4. Sketch regularly (Once a week).
  5. Manage decent grades (Now that's a tough one!)
Tell me your 5 goals for 2009, and get a chance to have your own sketch as a New year gift! :D

Oh & don't forget to subscribe to my blog to recieve instant updates of my posts (I'll announce the results in the next post!)

PS: This is my first try at having a contest. If it goes well, I'll try and take out more time for such contests! :)

PPS: Oh & if you like the idea of the contest, let your own blog readers also know about this contest by linking to this post! ;)

Update: I'm leaving for Goa, so I decided to shift the deadline a little further (and as pointed in the comments, now I'll make 5 sketches). I felt like making the best use of the tablet till I have it :D

Sunday, December 28, 2008

6 Ways to keep up with Blog Updates using RSS

If you've been reading blogs for a while now, then you must've heard about RSS. Wiki defines RSS as "a family of Web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works - such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format." In simple words, it allows you to keep up with changes on Blogs, News sites, Photo Galleries, Video Streams etc. 

RSS is pretty popular now with nearly every Blog offering a RSS Feed. After exploring a few options, I've updated the Subscribe Box for my Blog too!

So here are 6 (Tried & Tested!) ways of using RSS to keep track of your favorite Blogs:

1. Online Feed Reader
They are in plenty, and I've already reviewed Google Reader before. These "Web Apps" allow you to easily add blogs that you read and keeps you updated with their new posts. You can even arrange blogs in folders/labels to organize your collection better (Say one for Tech Blogs, one for Music Blogs etc). 

One major advantage is that they can be accessed anywhere and work just like your email account. The disadvantage is that you need to be connected to net, and a slow net connection won't be very helpful!

Two of my favorite Online Feed Readers are Google Reader (Used earlier) & Newsgator (Popular thanks to FeedDemon). Here's the complete list.

2. Offline Feed Reader
For those who don't have 24x7 internet, or a slow internet connection (BITSians reading?), this is one of the best way to read blogs. Offline Feed Readers allow you to keep a list of blogs you like to read and fetch the posts whenever you connect to the net. The content is saved locally, so you can read/refer to the content later without the net. Some of them even let you download images in the post (Though it'll take more time).

This is helpful for those who read a lot of blogs (Like Tech-News Blogs/Tutorial Blogs etc). Also for those where internet is available for a short time/at a high charge (Blog Feeds don't include the template design, so they are 'lighter'). One major disadvantage is that Blog Readers tend to just read the post and not comment (Just a word about the post helps a Blogger understand what to write & how to write!)

Two of my favorite Offline Feed Readers are FeedDemon (Currently using - It's great!) & RSS Bandit (Pretty similar, but still lacks some features). Here's the complete list

PS: Google Reader also let's you read feeds offline, but you'll need to install Google Gears (Didn't work very well for me) 

3. Through Email Subscription
This one's for those who check their mail regularly and prefer everything to be available at one place. If the blog you're reading offers Email subscription (Mine does now! Yay!), just fill in the form and you're done. Otherwise you can switch to a web service (I found FeedBlitz the best) and it'll send you the updates directly to your inbox.

This works great for a few blogs (Ones with low frequency of posts), but who would like to see an Inbox filled with only Blog Updates? If that's the case, don't forget to make a Filter/Label for them (If you're using GMail, check Filters & other features I posted about!)

4. Blog Roll aka Blog Lists
Do you have a blog? Then I'm sure you have added a Blog List (You've added me haven't you?) which was launched in June'08.  You can tweak it to display sort blogs according to last post date, display the latest post title etc. A must-have for all bloggers! Here're the official post(s)!

5. 'Follow' Blogs using Blogger's Follower Feature!
This is one of the less popular feature, but it helps bring all your Blog related stuff to your Blogger Dashboard. Below the list of your blogs, there's a section in which you can add Blogs that you read. 

Try it out! Head to your Dashboard ( You may have to sign in) and scroll down. Click on Add, and enter my blog's url: And you're done! 

The main advantage of this is that once you start "following" a blog, it is visible in your Blogger Profile, thus allowing others to know what Blogs you read (You can turn this off too). Also, you can show-off your Blog's Followers by using a neat Widget. Read The Official Post(s) to know more!

6. Use Live Bookmarks in Firefox!
Surely you've noticed the RSS button that is displayed next to the address bar when you're viewing my blog (Or any website with RSS Support). Click on that and subscribe to the blog. This will make a Folder for the Blog with Links to each post. And it keeps updating the list with new posts!

I used this feature, but it was too basic (Unread Posts? Search? Save/Export Blog List?). And it doesn't support OPML format. (It's used to export the list of blogs you are reading. Leave a comment if you want to know more!)

So which method do you use the most? Have you subscribed to my blog? (If yes, then what are you using?) Not sure what to use/how to switch? Do let me know!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sketch: Goodbye seniors!

Another sem passed, and what followed was something I always hate doing - Saying Good bye. Half of the 4th year batch, said good bye to the campus, and will be now heading for PS (PS=Practise School, ie. Internship).

This batch has been the most talented one till now, responsible for starting nearly every big club/deptt (and making other things BIG!) I got a chance to work with some of the best people I've ever met, and they'll always continue to inspire me.

Anyway switching from the "senti" mood, here's a sketch of the two seniors I'll miss the most, Vandith Bhaiya & Manasa Di. (I had to settle for a digital version after ruining a pen sketch :X) Both were members of the Waves Organizing Committee, and have taught me much more than just organizing a fest.

A few other seniors who are leaving are Piyush (Waves), Abhinav Lakhotia (Waves), Upneet (Drama), Parsani aka Chief (Spons) and Aditya Rao (Spons).
A formal Farewell was given last year to the whole batch (And I wrote about a few of them in my Farewell post), and now they'll be off to different parts of India (And abroad) for their PS.

Best of luck to all of you! Will miss you!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sketch: Tired

"And so he sat down, tired,
Still lost in that thought,
Of what he won in this war,
And what all, he had lost."

If you've been seeing my sketches for a while, you must've figured the difference in the style. I made it using a Pen Tablet!! :D

Yup, I got my hands on one of my dream tools (though only for some time) - an iBall Pen Tablet that can be attached to my laptop. Thanks alot to Sai for lending it to me for a day (It's exam time, so he wasn't using it :D)

Oh and for those who are wondering why the theme is similar to one of my old sketch, well the "inspiration" is the same :|

PS: Idea taken from someone's deviantArt Gallery. Campus net won't let me open deviantArt, so well, thanks whoever you are! ;)

Comments welcome!

PPS: Check out all my sketches here!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Looking Ahead - Help me out!!

Finally, I've crossed 10,000 blog hits! So thanks a lot to each and everyone who has been visiting my blog!

Started in April'08, this blog was a playground for me to revise (& improve) my Web designing skills. But seems like that took a back seat, and the Digit Article has motivated me to start writing more tech-articles. Hence the few Product reviews & GMail Tips. I'm happy I haven't stopped sketching though, something I still enjoy doing.

You might be wondering why I'm so much into Blogging, so what's better than quoting straight from ProBlogger!

"The experience of starting a blog and watching yourself progress is something money cannot buy... So never forget, that the journey of becoming a blogger is more important than the end product!"

Have a glance at Justin Wright's (full-time blogger and internet marketer) full post on the 5 Valuable Lessons You Can Learn From Blogging! 

Anyway now that I'm less busy, I'm planning to work on my blog. And here's where your role comes!

Help me out! Tell me what you've liked/hated about this blog, things you never looked at (Like the Technorati link on the left side :P). Posts that you've not cared to read, or posts that you've checked again & again...

I already plan to implement some changes, like:

  • Improving Feeds, using Feedburner (For those lazy guys who don't won't open the blog regularly!)

  • Getting a more personalized theme (The green curved boxes don't really match with the content, right?)

  • A Navbar, easier way to navigate through the blog (So that you don't go: 'Umm now what?')

What else? Any sort of criticism is most welcome! Whether it's your first visit to this blog, or the 100th visit, I would love to hear your views/suggestions.

Go ahead! Shoot!


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

11 GMail Tips you'll love!

GMail Logo
Celebrating the triumph of reaching 9000 hits on my blog, I thought I'll come up with a another collection of tips to make your GMail (& GTalk)experience even more fun!

So here's the 3rd post in my "GMail Tips" Series! If you usually don't go around tweaking GMail, first check my earlier post on 10 GMail Features you must know! 

  1. GMail Desktop Gadget
  2. For all those Google Desktop users, here's a great Gadget! Read, Send, Star mails & even log into different accounts simultaneously! Read more about it in the official announcement & on LifeHacker

  3. FoxGLove - Browser for Google Lovers!
  4. Most of the time, all you do is check mail, sign into GTalk and maybe read your Blog Feeds. Here's a Portable Firefox Package, that gives you the feel of Google Chrome and power of Firefox. Have a look on LifeHacker & DownloadSquad

  5. Let's add a smile to your mail!  
  6. We all love emoticons don't we?  So how about adding some emotions to your mail? Check out the small Smiley Icon in your Formatting toolbar, and see a huge list of emoticons! (Infact, there are 2 different styles!  Check the button below the emoticons!)I Loooove GMail!!

  7. Pimp your GMail with themes!
  8. I've talked about it before, and like everyone else I'm in love with them! Have a look at my favorite themes

  9. 3rd Party Applications: GMDesk, AlwaysIdle, Greasemonkey scripts...
  10. It's not just Google which helps us enjoy every moment we spend using GMail. There are plenty of 3rd party tools to play with (But take care, since they aren't by Google). Like: 

    GMDesk - A standalone application made in Adobe Air which gets GMail on your desktop. 

    GAlwaysIdle - To always stay Idle on GTalk. (Really helpful :D)

    Greasemonkey scripts  - Add more features to GMail (and other Google Services) using these scripts in Firefox! (Caution: Use with care!)

  11. Don't just type. Speak (And act?)
  12. GMail now allows you to do Voice & Video Chat! Though it isn't really of much use for me (Net speed in my campus are pathetic), it still is a great feature! Check the official blog to know more! 

  13. Google Transliteration Bots!
  14. Surprise your friends by saying नमस्ते (Hindi) or Bonjour (French) or こんにちは (Japanese)! Or add bots in group chat just to see some crazy translations! All this instantly, using GTalk Bots! Add them in your contaact list now! (Like! 

  15. Labs: Reply Addons
  16. Long conversation, loads of replies. Getting lost in who's replying to what? Then "Quote" people!

    Going on a vacation? Let your GMail send automated replies by scheduling it before hand!

    Have a look at some of the Reply Addons in GMail Labs

  17. Labs: Canned Responses
  18. How often do you reply by saying "Nice mail" or "Thanks for mailing, will reply soon"? How about storing your frequent replies as separate templates? Check this out to know how!

  19. Labs: Label Addons
  20. Chances are you are a Label Freak like I am. And you have loads of labels, and love color coding them. Then add more colors to your Labels by using Custom Label Colors! And ofcourse, when you have a lot of them, you should use Label Keyboard shortcuts to access them faster! Read more here!

  21. Labs: Keyboard Shortcuts
  22. Though I've talked about it before, it's always good to remind right? Navigate through GMail without touching your mouse! And if the default ones aren't enough, add more Custom Keyboard Shortcuts!

Hope you're experimenting with these features (As they said!) 

That's it for the moment! Tell me which of these do you like using? Anything that I missed? Do let me know by commenting! :)

PS: See my earlier posts in the GMail Tips series:

PPS: Don't forget to Subscribe to receive updates on more such posts!