Posts Tagged ‘ 10 things ’

18 Uses for your Phone Camera as a tool

When the first camera phones were introduced we all said, “Why the heck would I need a camera phone?”. It will never replace my camera because the quality and clarity is really bad with the camera phones. More so now, that a lot of people are looking and slowly upgrading to SLR’s. So where is the need for the camera of the camera phone ? Well in the new technology world, the camera becomes a very handy tool for managing your life. In fact the camera serve a lot of functions making your life all the more easy. I have listed out a few below but then definitely there will be more uses, these few are enough to convince you take your camera phone around everywhere if you don’t already do so. Your camera may be a toy, but there’s no reason it can’t also be a tool.

  1. Manage Business Cards: Scanr.com makes small utilities for mobiles that take advantage of the phone camera for OCR or Optical Character Recognition. This means that you can take a picture of a business card and use scanr.com to recognize the text so you can import them into your contact management software. You don’t really need to stack needless business cards anymore.
  2. Land marking : On the road to an appointment, you pass a brand new office park. Ah! New prospects! Don’t we love those. Take a picture of the directory listing and call the companies located here when you get back to the office. This can be used to snap off pictures of new bars / restaurants at your leisure. This is a great tool to help give people directions through landmarks as well, so now not only are they looking for a place, but they know what it looks like.  If there is a store that says coming soon and you want to remember to go there, take a picture of it to remember.
  3. Remember Parking Locations : One of the pastimes in Dubai everyone will say is mall walking, and getting there and parking your car in the huge multi level, multi zone parking usually leads to people forgetting where they have parked their cars. It leads to more frustration and waste of time. A quick snap of the location would definitely guide you back. This is even applicable at airports or anywhere else where you have large parking locations.
  4. Brainstorming: You just had a terrific brainstorm session with your prospect or your technical expert. The white-board is filled with pictures, bullet points, arrows and diagrams. But how do you capture these thoughts, short of writing everything down? And even when written down, it might not be the exact interpretation of the diagrams. A  picture can save all the trouble, if you get a picture of the whiteboard it might save hours of back and forth emails on the reconfirmation and clarification. This is something we use extensively. This method allows you to “save” a set of ideas, wipe the board clean, then see if you can come up with something better. It removes the fear of losing a past idea, and allows better ones to surface. We store all the images in a shared location on the network which makes it easy for everyone to access.
  5. Use it instead of a printer: If you need to take directions with you, but don’t have a printer, take a picture of the computer screen instead. You can zoom in quite a lot, and will be able to read the directions on the camera’s monitor. Also works for confirmation numbers, email addresses and incriminating online photos of friends and acquaintances.
  6. Remember small details: It has happened to everyone, we want to buy a cartridge for a printer or something like that but when you get to the store you get asked what is the model name for your brand of printer, and you don’t know the exact model number. Well you can snap a picture of the replacement device you need and when you are done with it, you can throw away the device (e.g. the Cartridge)
  7. Mark your property: People usually never return back Mobiles or cameras that they find. However, in case someone that wants to actually is looking for information, you need to be able to give him the information. But How ? Well you can take a picture of your name and address and lock it on your memory card. That way at least you give the information to someone who might be interested in it.
  8. Shopping Lists: Before heading out to buy ingredients for a particular recipe, especially for Indian food, take a picture of the ingredient list. At the store of course you will be able to zoom into the image and check out what you need in terms of you specialist shopping list.  You could also check out your notes on your hand written list as well to ensure that all items are purchased.
  9. Way Finding : Retracing your steps might be difficult if you are at a unknown part of the city, or are venturing out for camping etc. By taking pictures of each different path you take with landmarks and tree signs etc. It will be quite simple to walk / drive back. It is an interesting application, however you will need to get used to taking pictures in both directions so that you know the route on the way back.
  10. In Case of Emergency : Most mobiles allow you to store images in ascending order, have the first picture the one where you have information regarding your blood group etc. Lock the picture so that it does not get completely deleted. However, also make sure that the information is enough for someone to help you and not as much as someone to misuse it in case you lose your phone.
  11. Use it as a mirror : Check your teeth for spinach when you don’t have a mirror Or see how you look in really dark sunglasses. It’s pretty straight forward, click your own picture  either with the forward or the main camera of the camera phone.
  12. Make a Wish list: Ever wonder what is the name of that album at your friends place that you wanted to download .. err buy, or get books that are something that you want to buy for yourself. You can snap a picture of the details and keep it as your wish list of Christmas purchases or good deal buys.
  13. While trying to ‘Fix’ things : Take pictures of each step when you take something apart, so you’ll know how to put it back together later on. That way you won’t end up with those four screws and one unidentified twiddly bit that always seem to be left over after “fixing” something.
  14. Flash light : The flash for most cameras can be used as a focusing flashlight when you are in the dark. Or, if you drop your keys behind the sofa, use the monitor on your camera to help you see into places you can’t quite reach.
  15. Record Phone Numbers : Chances are it’s easier to find your camera in a bag full of stuff than it is to find a blank piece of paper and a pen that actually works. Save yourself some time and snap a picture of that crucial phone number when you’re out apartment hunting, or when you see a flyer you don’t want to forget. (Ps : If you are clever enough you will dial the number directly into the phone lol)
  16. License Plates: Did you ever get the feeling that you weren’t going to make it out of a parking lot unscathed? If a certain combination of carseat+closeparking+exhaust modification sets off your “door ding” alarm, give yourself peace of mind by snapping a shot of your new neighbors. Or maybe you can be a detective and snap off plates of guys driving crazy on the road to blog about, and do a naming and shaming thing.
  17. QR Codes : QR Codes are interesting bar code like codes where you can read about a lot of information, like URL etc. for the mobile phones. QR codes are increasingly used in shopping as well, you can snap a picture of the QR code and make use of the information that it will provide. Check out more about it in an earlier post here.
  18. Augmented Reality: If you click on the tag on the right, you will find many posts on this blog explaining the possibilities. I am sure that a gadget with a camera will become a quintessential tool of tomorrow. Check out the posts here.

Think I have left some out, please add them below as comments.

10 Websites that changed the Internet (India Edition)

Ever wonder what made the Internet the monster it is, starting only within the CERN research facility to now reaching nearly ever home with a computer ? Well it was the services and the websites that were there online. The more people saw value and entertainment, the more they got involved and more the internet grew. Influenced from the article here, I wanted to make a list of my 10 websites that actually made a difference to the Internet.

1. Geocities.com

Like a few million people around the planet, this was one of the sites that helped amateur web enthusiasts like me to enable my first attempt at making an online presence. I saw a lot of web pages, self learnt HTML from the pages and got to a stage where I wanted to really make a mark online. Unfortunately engineering in Instrumentation and Technology did not make it any easy to keep in touch with the internet. But it sure told a lot of us that making and keeping a website was not very very hard, and its a skill that can be learnt with a bit of patience and a liking for web design. However, amateurs like me are responsible for most of those ugly websites that started during the days of Geocities and exist even until this day. The internet bid farewell to this beauty last year. Geocities will be missed but the job is now taken on by a few websites out there like Google Sites, Tumblr etc

2. Wikipedia.org

With an intent to enable the entire world free access to knowledge, this was one of the real success stories of the Internet. I think the donation doors have time and again raised enough money to ensure that such a great resource as wikipedia stays alive and more importantly free. Giving a major competition to closed loop education and knowledge resources like the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, this is one world class product and project that definately changed the internet. Did you know that you can download a copy of the latest backup version of wikipedia ? Check it out at this location for yourself. http://download.wikimedia.org/

3. Hotmail.com

India’s first big mark on the online world came from a relatively unknown guy then named Sabeer Bhatia, and what he did was not only did he give a face to email but also a big mark for startups that get bought up. Starting Hotmail with some investment from a venture capitalist this Indian American Entrepreneur sold Hotmail for about $400 Million to Microsoft. Hotmail generated the interest in people to actually go online and create the account for an Email Address. Later the major chunk of the emails was taken up by USA.net which converted to a paid service at which point people moved to Yahoo Mail or Gmail. This was the state in India at least.

4. Rediff.com / Indiatimes.com

Between the international players, India had some shining stars for web portals. Rediff.com and Indiatimes.com are two sites that are running successfully even today. Both the sites integrated the online news / mail / sports / entertainment sections so well that it seemed that a lot of people had accounts with Rediff or Indiatimes at one time. After the popularity of Gmail this is shifted a little bit. However quite a few friends of mine still use their Rediff account as their primary communication medium. Interestingly, these sites were the first news sites in India, additionally they added the other craze of India cricket with live scores etc. Other similar sites at that time were sify.com and Indya.com.

5.  Amazon.com / eBay.com

The entire eCommerce bubble I would say was fuelled by these websites. Amazon and Ebay showed how to legitimately make money and substantial amounts of it. They provided customers a lot of support for people who were looking for collectibles, home appliances etc. Interestingly they grew so big that there were individuals who survived by searching eBay and providing people who were looking for stuff from stamps and coins to electronics and real estate; all for a small premium. They provided people a platform to buy and sell things and make money with garage sales and second hand goods and make money without having to build their own website.

6. Youtube.com

You tube provided the missing piece to the expanding internet, Video. Vanity is one of the most famous things that gets people do unbelievable interesting or goofy things. You tube gave people an outlet to get their 15 minutes of fame. Be it by making their dog sing a song or perform bizarre stunts. However, it now is one of the most visited website on the planet. Providing millions of hours of entertainment to people with a lot of time on their hands and looking for entertainment. From movies to the present IPL, India is all over the You Tube.

7. Blogger.com


Blogger is an awesome platform that provides amateurs like me a platform to post their views about anything under the sun. Although I am not using Blogger anymore and have moved on to WordPress.com, it is still one of the first services with Live Journal that enticed users to blog and made the buzz on the blog-o-sphere. Blogger is not only easy to use but also allows users to monetize their blog by posting Google Ads on it. It is one of the services that encourages users to write and make money at the same time.

8. Facebook.com


There is no introduction required for facebook.com. Nearly everyone is hooked on to this magical website. Although there were earlier sites that encouraged people to network socially like orkut.com, hi5.com, friendster.com, facebook is the one that we can see taking over the internet. In fact it just surpassed Google as the most visited website within the U.S. Facebook not only revolutionized social networking, but also sharing photos, websites, videos, messaging, walling and the ever famous pokes.

9. Twitter.com


It is not something that can be comprehended in the world of blogging, websites etc, a website that restricts you to 140 characters is now taking the internet to the next phase of its evolution. The Mobile. Before twitter, Mobile internet was completely restricted to emails through exchange and messages and some websites that were wap friendly. But twitter along with good mobile hardware has just changed how people use the internet on their phones. This definately is worth the mention.

10. Google.com

The Search Giant that indexed the Internet and provided information to all people for free to be able to get around the vast and ever growing Internet. AdSense provided them with enough revenue for them to be able to provide a lot of services from the Google stables for free. Gmail, Google Earth, Google Docs, Google Maps, Google Sketchup, Google Picasa and many other services that we have come to love have all been born out of the revenue of AdSense. Google is one of the most loved and most visited single website on the world and they definately changed the Internet for good.

On a more personal note, the very first website that I had visited was unbelivable http://www.bharat-rakshak.com which is not as popular as one wold think, considering that they are almost like an unofficial website of the entire Indian Armed forces, the Army, Nave and the Air force. I was then looking for information related to getting to the NDA and this was one of the best resource, The internet was at a cyber cafe off Brigade Road in Bangalore and they were charging about Rs 140/- per hour, the internet connection was dial up and the one hour that my friend and I used the Internet we just browsed about 8 pages of that website.

10 Alternative uses of Vodka

[tweetmeme] Today’s article is not really to do with technology but Inquisitive nevertheless, its about drinking and vodka. A lot of us drinkers have had the Vodka trip more than once, its one of those drinks that both Men and Women seem to enjoy in all its forms. And as far as rumors go, Vodka does not seem to be the best drink for guys (really need to verify this one) anyway, most people are contended to get smashed with vodka (including me) but some people have tried to do other stuff with it, and believe me the results seem too good to not share (apparently) I stumbled on one of those sites, well here is the list posted there and I am sure a 99% of us will not use vodka for anything but getting smashed, this is for the 1% who do not mind spending that precious liquid on something else 😉

1. Treat Poison Ivy


For many, one of the hazards of enjoying the great outdoors is an encounter with poison ivy. It can lead to a nasty, long-lasting rash. Unfortunately, poison ivy is spreading, thanks to global warming.

To avoid the uncomfortable reaction, immediately pour vodka on skin that has come into contact with poison ivy, and the alcohol will wash away the itchy culprit, urushiol oil. Some have said that the vodka needs to be at least 100 proof to work. Others have argued that straight rubbing alcohol works better, but I’m guessing you may not have that as handy if you are on your average picnic.

2. Freshen Laundry


You can keep your clothes smelling fresher with vodka — really! Simply spritz your duds with the stuff, then hang to dry in a well-ventilated area. (Do a spot-test first to be safe.) Vodka kills odor-causing bacteria, but doesn’t leave a scent when dry.

3. Shine Your Fixtures


It’s easy to get your chrome, glass and porcelain fixtures shining like the top of the Chrysler Building. Guess what does the trick? Moisten a soft, clean cloth with vodka, then apply a little elbow grease.

4. Preserve Flowers


If vodka can help you find love, then it can also help you preserve it — or at least the symbols of it. Add a few drops of vodka and a teaspoon of sugar to the water in your flower vase. It should help keep your flowers fresh longer. Change out the mixture with fresh ingredients daily.

5. Repel Insects


Unless you are intent on proving how hard-core you are, or you have a bizarre fetish, you probably don’t enjoy getting feasted on by insects. But you’ve read media reports questioning the safety of DEET-based repellents, and you are pretty sure you don’t want to take the risk of spraying yourself in the face with poisonous bug killers. Who knew that vodka can kill pesky insects, as well as nagging doubts at the bar? Pour a little of the saucy spirit in a spray bottle and squirt on the little buggers, or yourself as a repellent. But please don’t take aim at any beneficial bees!

6. Soothe Jellyfish Stings


Jellyfish are fascinating, beautiful sea creatures. But their stingers can pack a powerful, painful punch. For vegetarians and others who don’t travel with meat tenderizer (or who don’t feel comfortable asking friends to, um, relieve the pain), take heart. Vodka can also disinfect and alleviate some of the bite of a jellyfish sting.

7. Get Great, Shiny Hair


Vodka doesn’t just make you think people look prettier. It actually can make people prettier. How? Try this remedy for healthier, lush hair: Add a jigger of vodka to a 12-ounce bottle of shampoo.

8. Clean Away Mold


Got mold? The stuff spreads easily and can severely diminish indoor air quality. Unless you are shacking up with the Crypt Keeper, who wants to look at those grimy dark stains that build up on caulking (sometimes even on mold-resistant varieties)? But instead of harsh chemical sprays, try filling a recycled spray bottle with some bottom-shelf vodka. Spritz on, then let sit for 15 minutes. Scrub away with an old toothbrush (please don’t use your sister’s).

9. Make a Soothing Lavender Tincture


Do you find the scent of lavender soothing? Here’s a fun DIY tip: Fill a clean glass jar with fresh lavender flowers, then top off with vodka. Seal the lid tightly and place in the sun for three days (same idea as making sun tea!). Strain the resulting liquid through a coffee filter, and poof! You have a homemade tincture to rub into aches and pains. You can pour into smaller bottles, decorate them and give them as unique gifts.

10. Ease a Toothache


Got a toothache? Your first priority should be to see a dentist. But sometimes you can’t get an appointment right away, or the professionals tell you it will just have to heal on its own. In that case, try swishing a shot of vodka over the affected area. It can help disinfect, and should numb some of the pain in your gums. I know Neville tried this, the only way it helped is by getting him knocked off and forget about the pain 😉 Well that might be an advantage 🙂

You can check out the original article here.

10 Golden rules of using Facebook

or an other social network.

[tweetmeme] Facebook has crossed 400 Million users online, and with the addition of more people comes the risk of something going wrong, meaning unreliable people and scams, phishing, identity thefts and of course the self inflicted fails. The inclusion of location based services are not only making interesting applications but are providing information that might not be what you want to portray, this is something that is highlighted in the new service Please rob me which shows the empty homes based on the location based service of their owners.

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These threats can however be negated by the users as all of us love using Facebook, In fact these days you are nobody if you are not on Facebook ! Facebook, twitter and the sorts are making our lives not only more truthful but also a bit more entertaining with the regretful posts and updates by people. Here are 10 Golden rules to use our beloved sites:

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  1. Pay attention to what you are posting online especially concentrating on what images and videos you are posting online and the information you choose to publish.
  2. Avoid posting sensitive information, be it personal or even professional.
  3. Verify all your contacts and do not accept friend requests from people you do not really know.
  4. Be careful how you portray your company, organization or bosses online, you never know what will hit you if you bad mouth your employers.
  5. Try not to mix your business contacts with your friend contacts.
  6. Your personal information and profile should be visible to only those people who you want it to be visible to.
  7. Be careful about what you publish about others and untag yourself from anything negative posted about you.
  8. If ever you get the time, read the full privacy policy and the condition and terms of use of the social network you choose.
  9. Use privacy-oriented settings (check who can see your pictures, who can contact you and who can add comments)
  10. Deactivate location based services as they are a serious threat to not only your online privacy but also your physical privacy.

The story of stuff, we are just consumer numbers …

Its been about a year since someone sent me a viral video about the Story of Stuff, and I was enlightened, frightened, and motivated all at the same time. Historically, I have been a person who has spoken about made presentations about and actually published presentations about going green. And after seeing the video again, I realized that I am not doing nearly as much as I could be doing. The video attacks the linear economic model that our economy is currently based on. Some of the info. presented is new, a lot is repeat, but it’s brought together in a very clear and compelling way. You can download and watch the video also on their website http://www.storyofstuff.com/

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever. Since the film was posted, viewers in over 200 countries have visited the site over 7.5 million times. The Story of Stuff is more than a video cleverly explaining the life cycle of stuff. It’s a catalyst for awareness that gets people thinking about how all of our stuff is connected to environmental and societal issues.

Here is my list of 10 little and big things we can do, to make a change :

  1. Power Down: A great deal of the resources we use and the waste we create is in the energy we consume. Look for opportunities in your life to significantly reduce energy use: drive less, fly less, turn off lights, buy local seasonal food (food takes energy to grow, package, store and transport), wear a sweater instead of turning up the heat, use a clothesline instead of a dryer, vacation closer to home, buy used or borrow things before buying new, recycle. All these things save energy and save you money.
  2. Waste Less: There are hundreds of opportunities each day to nurture a Zero Waste culture in your home, workplace, community. This takes developing new habits which soon become second nature. Use both sides of the paper, carry your own mugs and shopping bags, get printer cartridges refilled instead of replaced, compost food scraps, avoid bottled water and other over packaged products, upgrade computers rather than buying new ones, repair and mend rather than replace … the list is endless!
  3. Talk to everyone about it: At work, your neighbors, in line at the supermarket, on the bus… A student once asked Cesar Chavez how he organized. He said, “First, I talk to one person. Then I talk to another person.” “No,” said the student, “how do you organize?” Chavez answered, “First I talk to one person. Then I talk to another person.”
  4. Make your voice heard: Write letters to the editor and submit articles to local press. In the last years, and especially with Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize, the media has been forced to write about climate change. As individuals, we can influence the media to better represent other important issues as well. You could use your social networks like Facebook and Twitter for the same as well.
  5. Detox: Many of today’s consumer products — from children’s pajamas to lipstick — contain toxic chemical additives that simply aren’t necessary.
  6. Unplug: The average person watches TV over four hours a day. Four hours per day filled with messages about stuff we should buy. That is four hours a day that could be spent with family, friends and in our community.
  7. Park and Walk: Car-centric land use policies and lifestyles lead to more greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel extraction, and conversion of agricultural and wildlands to roads and parking lots. Driving less and walking more is good for the climate, the planet, your health, and your wallet.
  8. Change your light bulbs: Changing light bulbs is quick and easy. Energy efficient light bulbs use 75% less energy and last 10 times longer than conventional ones. That’s a no-brainer.
  9. Recycle your trash: Recycling saves energy and reduces both waste and the pressure to harvest and mine new stuff. Unfortunately, many cities still don’t have adequate recycling systems in place. In that case you can usually find some recycling options in the phone book to start recycling while you’re pressuring your local government to support recycling city wide.
  10. Buy Green: Shopping is not the solution to the environmental problems we currently face because the real changes we need just aren’t for sale in even the greenest shop. But, when we do shop, we should ensure our support businesses that protect the environment and worker rights.

I am sure you can think of many more uses of the same, the point is we need to do something. Anything.