Be a master presenter


(Image courtesy:

By now,  Steve Jobs (of Apple) is probably the role model of presenting, for almost the entire world. I have seen some of his macworld keynote videos, and they are amazing. What it takes, practice, practice, and more practice. Businessweek has a nice write up on how to present like Jobs. The article dissects the show, and lays the key foundations on the table. They are:

  1. set the theme
  2. demonstrate enthusiasm
  3. provide an outline
  4. make numbers meaningful
  5. try for an unforgettable moment
  6. create visual slides
  7. Give ’em a show
  8. Don’t sweat the small stuff
  9. Sell the benefit
  10. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

I love Steve’s slides. They just help him. They do not do the talking. HE does the talking.

Read the full article here.

Hack life the unix way


Brilliant article by lifehacker editor Gina Trapani. She compares your productivity system to the ultimate example of robustness – the UNIX operating system. A must-read for everyone – either if you are just designing your productivity system ; or if you are relooking/rehashing your productivity system. These rules should give a good foundation for you to base your productivity system on.

I have just listed the rules below.

  1. Write simple parts connected by clean interfaces. (Rule of Modularity)
  2. Clarity is better than cleverness. (Rule of Clarity)
  3. Fold knowledge into data so program logic can be stupid and robust. (Rule of Representation)
  4. When you must fail, fail noisily and as soon as possible. (Rule of Repair)
  5. Programmer time is expensive; conserve it in preference to machine time. (Rule of Economy)
  6. Prototype before polishing. Get it working before you optimize it. (Rule of Optimization)
  7. Design for the future, because it will be here sooner than you think. (Rule of Extensibility)

Read the article here for the full meat.

Mystery box


(Image courtesy:

I saw this piece at annaramma, whose link I found at I go through AT off and on. They cover some awesome apartment makeovers. The website says Brian Mumford – The Crackpot inventor. The invention does sound very intriguing. The beautiful wooden box, felt-lined in the inside, just drags the interest of anyone nearby. But a sensor in the box detects motion when someone comes nearby, and the box lid slams shut, and does not open. When you step back for a few seconds, then slowly the box opens.

Read the full website here, and more of the crackpot inventor’s works.

Band-aided volvos?


Who said imported technology cannot be band-aided? The flashy volvo buses are very popular in Bangalore. I see it full all the time. Looks like the fancy rear-view mirror has had some damage in this bus (the traffic in Bangalore is ridiculous). If the BMTC went to Volvo service center to repair it, they would probably have been charged a huge amount. Instead the fix seen in this picture probably cost a few rupees – bandaged with a cycle tyre tube. Ingenuity at its best.

Gizmodo goodness

I sometimes browse through Gizmodo the gadget blog once in a while. There are some stories, which speak of some awesome technology. And there are some of the ‘reuters-oddly-enough’ category. Check out the following for your chuckling pleasure:

  • Japanese to have better smelling feet. A new sole insert pumps small amounts of minty freshness with every footfall. Hmmmm. [Read]    (I just noticed that this is from Reuters Oddly Enough]
  • Safe turn indicator light for cyclists, which detect the cyclist raising his hand to signal a turn, and starts blinking.  Umm. Ok. Like the Gizmodo snip says, the guy in the photo is not probably going to make it! [Read]

Quickies : Intelligent Sticky Notes

(Image courtesy: Discovery news)

Wow. Just when we thought, people are atlast, going back to analog productivity systems,
like to-do-lists on paper, and 3M postits for reminders, researchers at MIT come up with this brilliant system.

To summarize:

  • write note on special quicky post-it kept on a special electronic pad
  • electronic pad recognizes the post as a reminder, or a contact, or a label ; and categorizes it into its database.
  • the postit note has an RFID tag on it. The tag id is added to above database item
  • when user searches for a keyword, the database is searched, the RFID tag is retrieved, the location of the tag is then retrieved, and displayed on the screen.
  • these quickies can also send reminders to your phone, for appointments etc

Read the full post here at Discovery news.

Or, visit the MIT project page here.

Convert PDFs to … PDFs again!

Haha. Is there any use at all, to convert a PDF to a PDF? The Confessions-of-a-freeware-junkie blog writes of a fantastic use. This was discovered by accident, but a goldmine find. He had a huge color PDF of about 13 Megs in size. And he had to reduce the size. He tried several tools to reduce this size, but in vain. He then, went to print this PDF to a PDF using the free PDFCreator tool. Voila ! The file became 3 Megs. He guesses the reason to be that PDFCreator tool reduces the millions of colors PDF to a few thousands of colors. And this makes a huge difference. Wow. This is good info. He says that the output was still highly legible, and his user was happy.

That is defenitely a good hack! Kudos! Read the post here.

The dreamhost saga ?

When I read this post at MrsMicah(, I was like “Wow!”. This is exactly what I dread about auto-debit. While you may have much confidence on your bank, and your creditcard, and your vendors, you never
know how badly, a single digit error, during a auto-debit transaction can screw you up. The damage it did for dreamhost is a miscalculation to the tune of $7.5million.

Read it all here.

In short, there was a date mistake when one of the dreamwork staff wrongly typed December 2008 instead of December 2007 — a serious fat finger mistake! What did this do? It made each and every one of the accounts of dreamworks
overdue 11 months, and auto-debited them. It did cause some serious damage (like huge overdrafts, mortgage payments bouncing etc). Read the very angry comments.

At the end of the day, my take is — the tone with which this whole issue was reported, should have atleast been more serious and apologetic. I think it was rash, inconsiderate, and arrogant.


1. It does look some sense descended into the owners of dreamhost, and they got out an apologetic post. Saying the joke was not intentional and it was unwarranted, and they do understand that it hurt the sentiments of a large number of people. I wonder what caused the sudden turnaround (large exodus of people threatening to leave? A class action suite threat?).

Read the aftermath here.

2. Anyways, it did not end there. Josh discovered another boo-boo in their biller system. The refunding script only refunded the money for about 25% of the folks – causing a further rage of people who commented by saying that Dreamworks is not keeping up their word of refunding.

Read the second booboo here. (very inaptly titled final update? final? really?)

I wonder how billing systems can have boo-boos. Now my respect for some of the software factories in India (WIPRO, INFOSYS, TCS, SATYAM, etc) have risen considerably. These guys do specialize in banking and billing software. The need for robust and reliable software for these kind of applications is just exemplified by such an incident.