Monday, April 29, 2013

Online Platform for Indian Parents:

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Open Letter to the Camera Crew Filming Girls Outside Rain Pub, Jubilee Hills

Dear Sir,

Your TV segment on the girls outside Rain pub in Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad is a blatant misuse of media rights. You should immediately issue a public apology and take action against the camera crew who compromised the safety and violated rules of media engagement.

What crime did these girls commit? Is drinking a crime? No! Is wearing clothes of one's choice a crime? No. Is waiting outside a pub for a cab a crime? No. Were the girls soliciting customers? No.

What were they doing? Waiting for a cab.

I would like to know why did your crew passing by the road stop on seeing a bunch of girls waiting for a cab? The cameramen without any consideration for the safety or modesty of the girls simply pounced on them and started taking pictures.

More than the girls, it shows the perverseness that prevails in the society. And your camera crew are part of that perverseness.

Please understand that we are a free democracy. Some of us prefer the western lifestyle than going to temples, burning our wives for dowry, and killing our daughters in the womb. Some of us prefer the western values more than being corrupt, slimy, and displaying traits of cultural terrorism.

These "someof us" are educated, independent, free thinking liberals. We reject the negative traits of Indian culture and want to live a lifestyle of our own without harming anyone or breaking the law.

Know that these girls are educated, independent, and they have a mind of their own. What this channel did was exactly something that makes incidents like Delhi rape case happen. You do not have any right, moral or otherwise, to impose your cultural preference on women of this country.

Adopting a culture or a lifestyle choice is a personal decision. As long as these girls are on the right side of the law, they have every right to drink and wait for a cab outside a pub.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Cloud Computing

What’s in it for you and me?
Cloud computing can be defined at two levels: end user (you and I) and business.

For end users, cloud computing involves using software services on the Internet and paying for the services as they go along depending on the usage, similar to paying your power bill each month. You pay for what you use. Example: Apple’s iTune.

For businesses, cloud computing involves renting information technology infrastructure as opposed to buying the infrastructure. Companies pay rent for the services used. Cloud services can include simple storage applications to highly structured software development platforms.

A company can choose to use the database services offered in the cloud instead of buying the database off the shelf. The cloud service provider maintains the database, ensures the database is running all the time, and also provides support. At the end of the billing cycle, the company using the cloud service pays a rent depending on the amount of database space used. is one such company providing cloud services in the industry today.

What’s The Buzz About?
While the idea of cloud computing is not new, its application is exciting. Cloud computing, in the older days, existed in the form of Mainframe computers. Mainframes did all the data crunching and sent the output to the terminals. The terminals by themselves did no computing. They simply displayed the output and were called dumb terminals.

What’s different about cloud computing? First, availability of complete IT infrastructure on the Internet and second the pricing model. You pay only for the amount of storage space you use or the amount of data you download. You do not need to spend huge sums of money on an elaborate infrastructure up front.

Bringing It All Together: The Cloud Ecosystem
The cloud consists of several components. There are servers, databases, identity management systems, billing and accounting applications, security systems, virtualization software, and web applications.

Server: Cloud servers are an integral part of the cloud ecosystem. In fact, without cloud servers there can be no cloud computing. Servers are required to authenticate users, provide for multi tenancy support, implement virtualization, perform billing and accounting activities, schedule backup cycles, and enable scalability, a key cloud computing selling point.

Database: Database forms the core of cloud computing architecture. Database usage patterns in the cloud are constantly evolving to keep pace with the ever changing business environment. While in the early days of the Web 2.0 technology, databases were used primarily for read and write activities, in the current scenario, a database has to provide for Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability (ACID) compliance.

A key feature of a cloud database is that it has to share everything as opposed to share nothing. If data is distributed in silos, it might reduce database performance. One way to address this issue is the use of shared-disk database architecture for cloud computing. Shared-disk database eliminates the need to partition data by allowing clusters of low-cost servers to use a single collection data from a Storage Area Network (SAN) or Network Attached Storage (NAS). All data are available to all servers; there is no partitioning of the data.

Identity Management System (IDM): IDMs are the gateway to the cloud. Everyone within the cloud is mapped to the IDM. The IDM verifies the user seeking to use a cloud service and assigns a role or a set of roles to the user. These roles determine what the user gets to see or use within the cloud. Typically, an IDM system consists of identifier, credentials, core attributes, and context-specific attributes.
  • Identifier: A piece of information that uniquely identifies the subject of this identity within a given context. Examples of identifiers are email addresses and Globally Unique Identifiers (GUIDs).
  • Credentials: Private or public data that can be used to prove authenticity of an identity claim. For example, Emma enters in a password to prove that she is who she says she is. This mechanism works because only the authentication system and Emma should know what the password is.
  • Core Attribute: Data that helps describe the identity. Core attributes may be used across a number of business or application contexts. For example, addresses and phone numbers are common attributes that are used and referenced by different business applications.
  • Context-Specific Attributes: Data that helps describe the identity, but which is only referenced and used within specific context where the identity is used. For example, within a company, the employee's salary information is a context specific attribute that is interesting to the company's human resource department but not necessarily to the financial services provider. 

Web Applications: Web apps are usually characterized by advanced features such as data storage in a cloud/cloud-like infrastructure, local for full-offline mode cache, support for data compression, security, and backup schedule. It can be used from web browser and/or custom built apps installed on Internet connected devices such as desktops, mobile phones. It can also be used to access a wider range of services such as on-demand computing cycle, storage, and application development platforms.

Examples include: Mozy, Evernote, Sugar Sync, Salesforce, Dropbox, NetSuite, and Other qualifying examples such as web email (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Hotmail, etc.) may not be so obvious, but they depend on cloud technology and are available offline if consumers so choose to have them configured.

Difference between Web apps and Cloud apps: Some applications are built for the cloud as opposed to web applications which are limited to online access.

Cloud applications display true multi-tenancy to support various requirements and consumer needs, whereas Web applications such as WebEx, electronic banking, online shopping applications are exclusively web-based with limited options for consumer customization.

Cloud applications are offered as services for which users pay service charge, whereas Web applications provide an alternative means of transaction on the Internet. Examples include online banking or ticket booking systems.

Cloud applications support virtualization technology, whereas Web applications should either be built to support this or re-engineered to do so.

Cloud applications are built using development platforms, such as VMware Cloud foundry, Google apps Engine, and Microsoft Azure, whereas Web applications can be built using something as basic as LAMP – Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP.

Cloud apps usually support flexible pay-per-use pricing models.

Billing For Cloud services: Most services offered on the cloud support a flexible pricing model. You pay for what you use. For instance, if you use 10 GB bandwidth on a server for storing your data on day one and 5 GB on day 2, you will be billed differently for these two days. This model works best for start-ups and supports scalability in a big way.

Backup and Recovery: A backup and recovery strategy defines how your organization will handle the loss of data on a system and adequately recover it to a certain prior point in time. Different types of backup and recovery strategies are employed by businesses, such as full system backup, incremental backup, snapshots, point-in-time backup, and real-time backup. When planning your backup and recovery strategy, consider the following:
  • First, what is the recovery objective for the business service being considered?
  • Second, what is the recovery time objective for the business service?
  • Third, what is the service level agreement between the service provider and the consumer?

Virtualization: Virtualization is the simulation of a real environment with the exact hardware and software specifications required to run a Cloud application or a set of applications. Virtualization allows you to save cost by merely simulating an ecosystem instead of actually purchasing the hardware and software required to create that environment. It is creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, such as an operating system, a server, a storage device, or network resources.

Operating system virtualization is the use of software to allow a piece of hardware to run multiple operating system images at the same time. The technology got its start on mainframes decades ago, allowing administrators to avoid wasting expensive processing power.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Deleting ECR Stamp from Passport

I had applied for passport re-issue in 2011. After four months when I finally received the coveted document, it had an Emigration Check Required (ECR) stamp on it. If your passport has a page with ECR stamp, it means you are not free to work in 18 countries. Here is the complete list (download the MS Word document). 

ECR stamp is meant to regulate the flow of people without a matriculation degree from travelling to countries where Indians are employed as domestic helps or low waged workers to prevent exploitation. Although the intention of ECR is noble, it often leads to harassment at the immigration desk if your passport has an ECR stamp. 

In many cases, incompetent personnel at the passport office fail to look at the supporting documents provided to ensure you do not get an ECR stamp. By default, no passport should have the ECR stamp. ECR stamping is meant only for people without a matriculation degree. If you are matriculate or above, by default, you passport must be an Emmigration Clearance Not Required (ECNR) compliant. Passports issued after 2007 do not have ECNR specifically mentioned. Since 2007, all passports are automatically deemed ECNR unless it has an ECR stamp.

If you are a matriculate or above and you have an ECR stamp on your passport, you have to apply for deletion of ECR. Here is the process:
  1. Go to the Passport Seva website.
  2. Download the e-Form from the Reissue of Passport box or the Download e-Form link under User Assistance on the left pane.
  3. Fill the downloaded e-Form and click Validate & Save. This will generate an XML file which will be required later for uploading in the system. The form is saved in a .xls format.
  4. Register through the Passport Seva Portal and create a User ID. (Click on "Register" link under the Online Application Filling section on the Home Page).
  5. Login to the Passport Seva Portal with the User ID created earlier.
  6. Upload the XML file (generated in Step 2) through the Upload e-Form link. Do not upload the PDF form at this stage as only XML file is accepted by the system.
  7. Click the Manage Appointment link on Applicant Home page to schedule an appointment at a Passport Seva Kendra (PSK).
  8. Click the Print Application Receipt link to print the application receipt containing Application Reference Number (ARN)/Appointment Number.
Note: In several PSKs, you do not need an online appointment for deletion of ECR. Take a print out of the Application Reference Number (ARN) and simply walk-in go to your nearest PSK. You can check here if your passport office provides the facility to walk-in for deletion of ECR. Carry all your original documents and self attested photo copies of your class 10th certificate and graduation certificate.

Once inside, you will be given a token and sent through three sections: A, B, and C. At section A, your documents will be verified, picture and finger prints captured, and you will be asked to pay the ECR deletion fee of Rs. 1500. Next, you will be sent to section B where a person from the regional passport office (a government official) will re-verify your documents. Next, you will be sent to section C where another passport official will enter your details in the system and initiate the process to re-issue a fresh passport with the ECR stamp deleted.

Collect the receipt and you are done. You should receive your passport within 15 days. You can track your application status here

Happy travels!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

STC Conference: Making the Most

I attended the STC conference after a gap of three years. Before I go into the details, I would like to underscore the importance of STC conferences.

There are three things you can take away from STC if you keep your mind, eyes and ears open:

1. Learning

2. Networking

3. Visibility

Learning: STC is a great opportunity to gather information about the latest trends in the world of technology and learn about new tools and content management software. You can gain information on how companies are adopting languages, such as DITA and XML for publication and how you can use DITA and Wiki to solve your content management requirements.

To make the most, choose the presentations you want to attend. STC is a three day conference and the most interesting and relevant presentations are squeezed in during the last two days. Three presentations are held simultaneously every 45 minutes at different venues. This means you can attend only one presentation at a time. Make the best use of your time. If you are interested in two presentations scheduled at the same time, ask a friend to attend the other presentation and exchange notes later.

Networking: Meet new people from other companies and find out about work culture, technology involved, and job opportunities. You might not want to switch jobs immediately, but information always helps. Talk to as many people possible - knowledge leaders, veterans, and the presenters. You can gain a perspective into the current employment trend in the technical writing industry in terms of job openings and tools & technology used.

Visibility: Make your presence felt. You might be noticed by hiring managers and offered a job. Talk to management team for an opportunity to present a topic at the conference. In addition to visibility, it helps spruce up your resume. Presenting at a STC conference or writing for an STC newsletter is always a good thing to have in your resume.

Highlights from STC, 2011

STC, 2011 started off with a warm welcome by STC volunteers who were at their best in helping the delegates settle in. The volunteers helped people with registration and then handed over a backpack filled with goodies. Post registration, people headed for the different presentations.

Here is a synopsis of the presentations at the STC conference, 2011:

Artificial Intelligence in Technical Writing…..Future Technology: This session talked about a voice-to-text software that developers can use to record product features. Technical writers can later convert the recorded voice to text, copyedit the content, and have the guide ready in a short time. This software is not available in the market currently.

Yours analytically: This session was about how to measure the effectiveness of your documentation. The crux of the problem today lies in identifying user feedback, behavior, trends and ratings against the published documentation. This problem has been addressed through a statistical tour of the documentation by using web analytical tools such as Omniture Site Catalyst and Google Analytics. Because I have used these tools in my previous organization, I can personally vouch that these are must have tools to be in tune with the changing trends in this content world.

What I learned from films that helped me improve on the job: In this session, the presenter spoke about lessons she learnt from films and how it helped in fulfilling daily responsibilities as a technical writer.

The presenter took the movie – “A few good men” as an example. I am sure everyone knows about this movie, truly fantastic. In the movie, the conversation between Jack Nicholson (Col. Nathan R. Jessep) and Tom Cruise - Lt. (j.g.) Daniel Kaffee, goes like this:

Daniel Kaffee: [to Weinberg & Galloway] let’s go.

Col. Nathan R. Jessep: [Passive-aggressively] But you have to ask me nicely.

Daniel Kaffee: I beg your pardon?

Col. Nathan R. Jessep: You have to ask me nicely. You see, Danny, I can deal with the bullets and the bombs and the blood. I don't want money and I don't want medals! You gotta ask me nicely.

Daniel Kaffee: Colonel Jessep, if it's not too much trouble, I'd like a copy of the transfer order, sir.

Col. Nathan R. Jessep: [Politely] No problem.

Take away from this session: Technical writers need to talk to their stakeholders politely, send gentle reminders for follow-ups, and be flexible while scheduling meetings and so on.

Collaborating with Customer Support: In this session, the presenter talked about the common vision both documentation and customer support team has: Customer satisfaction. There has to be collaboration between documentation, customer support, and product teams. From support perspective, the actual challenge is to reduce calls received for different issues related to a particular product.

The documentation team can use this opportunity to know what the customer wants by collaborating with the support team. Collaboration can be done in following ways:

Buddy jacking with support and listening to the different calls/looking at the case notes.

Identifying issues that are generally major call generators or issues that are very common and do not have sufficient documentation. Discuss these issues with both support and product team. Check on the documentation impact for any roll-up patches related to these issues.

Measuring the effectiveness through web analytics and impact it has in reducing call volume.
Making a conscious effort to build a strong and sustainable relationship with the support team.

Deriving the Highest ROI from Your Migration to Structured Authoring: This session discussed the nuances of structured authoring and highlighted the financial benefit of moving to structured authoring. The presenter also demonstrated how to import comments from a PDF into a frame file for review.

Publishing DITA content to Wiki: This session discussed how to use wiki for collaborative review, use DITA as the publishing format, and how to convert wiki content to help files.

Collaborating With Customer Support: This session covered information on how writers can enable support staff to help the customer better.

Evolving Collaborative Documentation in a Multi-Company Ecosystem: This session dealt with issues organizations face when integrating products and documentation across multiple groups within or outside the company.

Find more information on the conference, go here.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Managing Favourites in Airtel DTH

It took a good part of my Sunday afternoon to figure out how to deselect channels from Favourites in Airtel DTH. The Airtel user guide was of no help and the closest I got to finding anything relevant on Google was a sentence on how users can delete items from Favorite features.

To manage favourites, go to:

1. Menu > My Settings > User Settings > Manage Favourites.
2. Select a favourite option . This displays all the available channels.
3. Press Ok to select or deselect channels.
4. Press the blue button on your remote to apply the settings.

You can also name your favourites list. To name your channel, go to:

1. My Settings > User Settings > Manage Favourites.
2. Select the green button to Set name.
3. Type in the name and press the blue button to apply changes.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dining in San Francisco

From the Ferry Building to Cliff House, South Beach to Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco is blessed with a wide variety of outstanding eateries. And the neighborhood around the George R. Moscone Convention Center (where Oracle OpenWorld is being held) has its fair delectable share.

Here's a sampling of the neighborhood places. If you have a favorite in the area--within walking distance of the conference--please leave a comment and we'll add it to the list.

More Formal

Restaurant LuLu
816 Folsom Street
A seasonal Proven├žal menu

689 Mission Street
2009 Michelin Star recipient
A seasonal East/West fusion menu

500 Brannan Street
Local seafood, handmade pastas, wood fired pizzas and artisanal meats

Less Formal

Thirsty Bear Brewing Company
661 Howard Street
Spanish cuisine of tapas and paellas along with organic beer

201 3rd Street
Contemporary Mexican menu

Canton Seafood & Dim Sum Restaurant
655 Folsom Street
Dim sum and seafood menu

200 4th Street
Filipino fast food

Buca di Beppo
855 Howard Street
Family-style Italian

Beard Papa
99 Yerba Buena Lane
Cream puffs and Japanese sweets

Bon appetit!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Samsung Galaxy S - the iPhone Killer?

With the launch of iPhone 4, Apple has created a new ripple in the mobile phone industry. The boxy look notwithstanding, this is one heck of a killer phone. Retina display, 5-mega pixel still camera, LED flash makes this phone worth the hype. But the question is at Rs. 42000 how many of us are really going to buy this phone here in India?

Not me, definitely!

So what are my options? Recently Samsung launched two new slick smart phones: Samsung Galaxy S and Samsung Wave. Samsung Galaxy S comes with Android 2.1, the cool and very happening mobile OS from Google. With a 4 inch AMOLED display, this phone is the thinnest and slimmest from Samsung. The display is spacious and crystal clear with a generous space for content. Net weight of the phone is 118gm and dimensions are 64.2 * 122.4 * 9.9mm.

That’s not all. The Samsung Galaxy S has a 1GHz processor, 5.0 megapixel camera, A-GPS Bluetooth 3.0 and Wi-Fi, HD video player & recorder and it comes loaded with a digital compass to boot. You can also download various free apps from Samsung Apps .

This phone is designed just right for social networking with one click access to Facebook and Twitter. Samsung has also integrated utility services, such as weather, news, and Google mobile services like Search, Gmail and Google Maps into the handset, which can be accessed with one click. Also, the built in Swype technology enables user to enter text quickly and easily, even on the go.

This gizmo is so good looking; you can use it as a display, an alarm or a navigation system when driving.

The price for the Galaxy S handset in India is Rs. 31500.

Require Development Partner

We are looking for .NET programmers to develop a web based hosted application. Our product design is ready and patent pending. We have applied for patent last month and hope to receive approval by April 2011.

If you as an individual or a company want to develop the product for us, please contact me at for further details.

We are planning to go to market latest by April 2011.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Need PHP Developer

Who are we?

We are an internet company into content management and cloud computing.

What are we looking for?

We are seeking a motivated Web developer to work on our online documentation application. The ideal candidate must be able to develop the project per specifications given by us and deliver the project on time. Should have own set up (computer, net connection etc).

What will I be doing?

You will be responsible for the design and development of innovative web-based solutions for clients, focusing on Web 2.0 technologies, third party APIs, and other integrated systems.

What skills should I have?

You need to have 2+ years of web development experience and be a creative problem solver with excellent attention to detail. In addition, you must have demonstrable experience building applications utilizing 3rd-party APIs and working with open-source CMS platforms like Wordpress and Drupal. Strong communication and documentation skills are a must, and an understanding of front-end design best practices and knowledge of other web platforms (Flash, Flex, Silverlight, Adobe AIR etc.) are a plus.

* Actionscript 3 (Flash or Flex)
* Javascript

If interested, leave a comment below with your quote. Prefer Hyderabad (India) based developers. US based developers are also welcome.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Little Bit of Patience (Gun N Roses)

Shed a tear 'cause I'm missing you
I'm still alright to smile
Girl, I think about you every day now
'Was a time when I wasn't sure
But you set my mind at ease
There is no doubt you're in my heart now
Said woman take it slow
It'll work itself out fine
All we need is just a little patience
Said Sugar make it slow
And we'll come together fine
All we need is just a little patience
(inhale) Patience...

I sit here on the stairs
'Cause I'd rather be alone
If I can't have you right now, I'll wait dear
Sometimes, I get so tense
But I can't speed up the time
But you know, love, there's one more thing to consider
Said woman take it slow
And things will be just fine
You and I just used a little patience
Said Sugar take the time
'Cause the lights are shining bright
You and I got what it takes to make it
We wont fake it
And never brake it
'Cause I cant take it

...little patience, mmm yeah, ooh yeah,
I need a little patience, yeah
Just a little patience, yeah
Some more pati... (ence, yeah)
I've been walking these streets at night
Just trying to get it right (Need some patience, yeah)
It's hard to see with so many around
You know I don't like being stuck in a crowd (Could use some patience, yeah)
And the streets don't change but maybe the name
I ain't got time for the game
'Cause I need you (Patience, yeah)
Yeah, yeah well I need you
Oh, I need you (Take some patience)
Whoa, I need you (Just a little patience is all we need)
Ooh, All this ti- me....

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Technical Writing Salary Survey

If you always wondered if you are being paid your worth or if you are in the right salary bracket, then here is a small way of doing that:
Go to the following link and participate in this year’s salary survey. The result of the survey will be published during the 2009 STC Conference.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

You listening, Mr. Politican?

BJP vice president, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that if some women wearing lipeestik (lipstick) and sunglasses protest against politicians, they don’t represent the mood of the entire nation; he couldn’t be further away from the truth.

Yes, I agree that Taj being the target of the terror attacks, is a popular destination for the rich and well-heeled, and scores of victims were from the privileged class. This has ensured more footage for the English speaking suave denizens of Mumbai and media has been highlighting their anguish with zeal.

But the protests on the streets are writings on the wall for politicians like Naqvi. The issue, that these women wearing lipstick and sunglasses are raising, concerns each and every citizen of this country - be it the autowallas, cabbies, constables, or the guy selling pav bhaji. It is also the voice of families of security guards who died on duty at the Taj, the stock broker from Colaba, or the sister of a Bollywood actor. It is also the voice of the families of the young girls at the front office at Taj, the co chairman of Yes bank, and the food critic from Times of India.

Sometimes, I wonder why there were no politicians in the Taj that fateful Wednesday evening.

Mr. Naqvi continued, “These people are holding candlelight vigils copying western culture”.

But nothing can be further from the truth. I do not understand what is so western about holding candle light vigils to mourn innocent victims of this dastardly act? I wish our security agencies had adopted one third of the professionalism of these western law enforcement agencies and we might not have had to see that day of terror in Mumbai.

Large numbers of politicians come into politics because they want to make it big in life. Nothing wrong with that, except they throw to the winds all values and morale in their quest for money and power. So when we have such politicians become a chief minister or a deputy chief minister or member of the cabinet, what have we? A toxic potent that can eat away into the very fabric of democracy on which our nation is built.

And that is our angst against you Mr. Politician!

We all know that elements in the Pakistan government with perhaps tacit approval from the Zardari’s government were involved in the terror attack and we also know that nothing much is going to happen even if we give Pakistan all the evidence and proof that Pakistan was involved in this strike.

What? Do you really expect India to go to war with Pakistan? And even if we do, what good is it going to do us? Push back our economy by 20 years and completely wipe out our economic gains?

Going to war with Pakistan is one option we have, but it’s the most dangerous and possibly the last resort.

So what can we do now? It’s you Mr. Politician that I want. And if you pea brained morons cannot think of how to deal with terror, here you go:

Form a federal agency to fight terror: Keep it away from the control of the Home Ministry. The agency must be headed by a Director and report straight to the Prime Minister. All other agencies, such as IB and RAW must report and feed intelligence input to this agency. The director can be removed anytime by the PM in consultation with the President. This way we have a check and balance in place to prevent the Director from going against the PM. We don’t want another ISI.

Secure our borders: Both land and sea. Provide more patrol vessels, more aircrafts for our Navy and Coast guards.

Issue National Identity Card: A single agency must issue NIC for every citizen in the country after stringent background checks unlike ration cards. This activity must be first carried out in the north east.

Remove illegal immigrants: Push back both Hindu and Muslim Bangladeshis back to Bangladesh. No one should be within Indian borders without valid documents.

Enact tough anti terror laws: Tough equals death in any kind of terrorist activity. These laws cannot be imposed on political opponents or people convicted in law and order crimes. Special courts must be set up to deal with such crimes. Trials should be limited to three months maximum.

Revamp customs: The entire customs department must be revamped to root out corruption and rot.

Enact tough anti corruption laws: Corrupt government officers and politicians should be executed based on the quantum of offence.

Regulate Sell of Explosives and Ordinances: Access to chemicals and explosives, such as ammonium nitrate, TNT, dynamite, and anything else must be strictly monitored. Sale and purchase of all such materials must be logged into a central database and personal information, such as address and photographs of the buyer and seller must be stored and updated regularly.

Modernize Urban Infrastructure: Bring up an urban center that is easy to monitor and secure. ID cards for all permanent residents of metros, maybe. Temporary cards for the tourists, business people, and people in transition? Yes. More cameras, more eyes on the urban theatres.

Indoctrinate Alienated Communities: Make minority communities feel safe and secure in this country. Provide incentives for basic and higher education. Create financial institutions to encourage entrepreneurship. It should pay to be a good citizen rather than a merchant of terror. The country should make them feel wanted not alienated.

Prosecute Terrorists in Indian Prisons: All terrorists currently lodged in Indian prisons must be prosecuted immediately to send out the message that we are serious.

Industrial Security Force: Raise a paramilitary force to safe guard large and vulnerable industries, such as IT parks and SEZs. Like CISF?

Sign Alliances and Treaties: India, U.S, Israel, UK, Australia, and any other country must raise a fighting army to liquidate terror infrastructure in Pakistan with or without the consent of the Pakistan government.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan - You are here!

Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan is smack on your face. Period. Ever imagined hitting the pillow sloshed – you hit the pillow, feel that dull thud, but relieved that you hit the pillow and not the floor. That you are back home safe instead of lying slumped by the sidewalk.

Read MRM and you feel like being in a shower cubicle. Strong jets of envy, guilt, loath, and raw unbridled desire assault your senses from all directions. And let me tell you those are not nice things. It leaves you seething with desire, eyeing every woman that walks the corridor as a potential game and you feel guilty as hell just reading that stuff. And you would not want to acknowledge these feelings.

So does smoking, drinking, and sex make a woman a bad woman? Not really!

But MRM makes you feel that way. She has this gnawing, revolting shade to her writing where she is almost like a diva writhing with desire, inviting you to fill her, yet you know she is just not that. She has a brain that throbs like a ravenous alien monster (picture “Alien”) – a slime-dripping creature out to snuff your self esteem the second you let down your intellectual guard.

She is analyzing you, checking you out, sizing you up. Sinful!

That’s the dull thud bit.

But it really makes me proud to share the same citizenship with MRM. To know that we have women like her who know what they want (most of the time), have an opinion and are not afraid to voice that opinion, and a mind of their own not shrouded and muddied by cultural impositions or stark western influence.

That we have a generation who are truly representatives of modern India, a nation that does not cow down to self-effacing western idiosycrancies, a nation that commands respect for its human capital, rather than its military might, a nation that sets its own standards, a nation on its way of discovering itself.

And that's the soft pillow bit!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Chrome - the new browser from Google

Well, here is the new browser from google, Chrome. Go play:

Do you guys think, Chrome will save the world from spyware?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Technical Writing: What is it?

Technical writing is a type of writing that tells people how to use a product – any kind of product. Products can range from a Boeing 777 to a PDA phone. User manuals or any other technical writing output not only tells how to use a product but everything else about the product, such as why you should use the product, salient features, limitations, work around solutions, and trouble shooting information - should your Boeing 777 be nosing diving without a warning.

Technical writing output includes documents, such as User Guides, Quick Reference Manuals, and Trouble Shooting Guides. Most product documentation comes under these three categories.

So next time you are unable to add contacts to your new iPhone 3G, you might just be looking for that user manual (iPhone 3G User Manual). And yes, this user manual is a product of technical writing.

People who do technical writing are called pseudo geeks? Right? No, wrong! People who do technical writings are called technical writers or technical communicators. So to have written that iPhone user manual, a group of technical writers would have got hold of an iPhone much before any one of us did and played with the product day in and day out or at least everyday at work. Then they would have put together their observations into a document and created a list called the content outline listing all the stuff you can do using an iPhone and how to do it. For example, the iPhone manual starts with:

Chapter 1: Getting Smacked (started)

- What You Need

- Activating iPhone

- Upgrading from an Original iPhone

And so on.

So there you have it. You have products. You have writers. And when these writers create content to help you use these products, you have technical writing.

Who can become a Technical Writer?

As long as you are good teacher, have an excellent hold over the language in which you are writing, and you love technology or willing to delve into the technical abyss, you can be an effective technical writer.

To start as a technical writer, know the basics:
Communication Fundamentals
*Communication Models
*Factors affecting communication
*Verbal and non-verbal communication

*Nuances of English Grammar
*Global English - US & UK English
*Active and Passive Voices
*Gender Fair Language

Technical Writing Tools
*Epic Editor
*Quadralay webworks
*Author IT
*Snag It

Professional Qualifications Required for Technical Writing

Anybody with good (read excellent) written communication skill and a perennial urge to learn technology can be a success in technical writing.
Having said that, I would like to highlight that like any other specialized field, technical writing has its own set of academic specializations. Technical writers with an engineering background and good language skills are a sought after lot. However, if you have mastered your arts and know your Plato from your Aristotle, you can still make a geeky bard.

Watch this space for a lowdown on the top ten courses for technical writing and where to get them.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

But Pappu can’t write saala!

As a documentation manager, I have had enough opportunities to interview people for technical writing positions. And to me, each of these candidates are interesting in their own ways – some are smug like a Cheshire cat, some oh so docile, and then there are others who would start interviewing you back.

Last week I interviewed this dude, yes, I call him dude with a purpose. He was dressed to kill (impress?), got this Yankee twang, and his attitude was contagious. The interview process started with a telephonic round and I must say he impressed the hell out of the HR lady. She passed him on to me. After my call with him, I was sure that we could move him to the next round where we meet candidates in person.

I asked one of my peers to have a chat with the dude and let me know what she thinks. After 15 minutes, she comes back all mighty impressed but with a rejoinder, “if this guy does well in the written test, you will never have to worry about low visibility of the tech pubs team. This guy can be an ambassador for the team and his communications skills are excellent”.

Music to my ears? Definitely! Personally, I like vivacious types and dude seemed to fit the bill in all respect. He had a great attitude, knew the nuances of tech writing, and replied positively to all the typical yada yada you ask a prospective tech writer.

So, armed with my conviction that we have a good candidate, I fixed a date and asked dude to take a writing test. Dude was a little hesitant about the test but accepted to take it anyway.

I sent out the test to our in-house editor, a person with immense experience in her job, and I had also added a foreword about how we all liked this guy. After evaluating his test papers, she sent back a detailed feedback and ended her message with the note, “whatever you say, Joy, but this Pappu can’t write saala!”

I am extremely sad because I kind of liked Pappu!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Who is a Successful Technical Writer?

I have been talking to a very senior technical writer recently. I asked her who according to her is a successful technical writer. She said, “A successful technical writer is a star in the eyes of the development team, meets quality and time parameters, and conforms to the common rules and regulations of the organization”. A star in the eyes of the development team? Would not being a star among her peers and immediate manager be a wiser prospect for a technical writer?

“No”, explained my senior writer friend. She continued, “This is because in most cases, a tech writer must have her work validated by a developer. If the developer is happy, the person might send a note of appreciation to the writer and also cc the writer’s manager. So you see the writer not only buys brownie points with the geek God, but also impresses her manager – all in one shot”.

“When a developer finds the technical writing content of high quality, he/she is left with more time to do value additions on the doc as opposed to making the document technically correct. Some time strapped developers might do no value addition, yet appreciate the writer as they could safely return the document to the writer and feel secure about the technical accuracy of the content. And when external stakeholder are happy, it bodes well for the entire techinal publication team as well and documentation managers love that.”

“And what if the writer’s work involves no interaction with the technical team?” I asked. “In that case, the writer’s work must derive a direct benefit to the company, for example, a well written proposal should help the company close deals”.

“So the idea is to attract positive feedback”, I said trying to get her right. “Exactly! The idea is not only to do things to attract positive feedback, but also convert the feedback into rewards!

“How”? I asked. She said, “Look, when you receive positive feedback from stakeholders (people who directly or indirectly benefit from your work), you can use these feedbacks to back up your ratings during appraisals. So if you have rated yourself 4/5, you can justify your ratings with the feedback you have received – simply copy and paste the feedback into the appraisal form and see them turn into raises and bonuses”.

I said, “All these sound too good and almost convincing, but how do I attract positive feedback from developers?

The lady continued, “Well to start with get down and dirty with technology”. Ask questions, even stupid dumb ones, but ask. You might receive those what-a-moron stares initially. But continue asking until you make sense of what the technology is all about. Draw the big picture and place the finer details within the picture as you go along. Work with the applications, talk technology, and buy those dummy guides if need be. Be persistent!

I interrupted, “ How do I know I am being persistent, that I am learning things”? She said, “Look out for the questions you ask. As you learn more, you will ask smarter questions, more specific questions as opposed to open-ended ones. For instance, instead of asking what is PeopleSoft HRMS is all about, you might find yourself asking how are job profiles set up in PeopleSoft HRMS?”

“So, to be a successful technical writer, I have to ask the right questions and please my developers”, I concluded. “Nope” she corrected. “To be a successful technical writer, you have to not fear technology and be always eager and hungry for more information, better still if you make up your mind to master the technology. “Hold on! I said. She was working me up too fast. “But what if I am not in a product company, but working for a project company where technology changes all the time”. She said, “Chances are that if you master .NET, for example, you will also better understand how other programming languages work, say Java, Pearl, or Cold Fusion.

So the key is not to fear technology but master it! A good technical writer should be able to replace a product manager or a developer any day. Intrigued, I continued, “And what about the other two - quality and time parameters and conformance to the common rules and regulations of the organization”. “Lets keep that for another day, Joy, I really have to rush now”. I can’t wait for that another day.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

User Productivity Kit (UPK)

Oracle’s User Productivity Kit (UPK) is a multifaceted eLearning tool that can be used to record steps and play back the steps in exact sequence in various interactive modes, such as See It Mode, Try It Mode, Know It Mode, and Do It Mode.

What makes UPK unique, compared to other screen capture tools (Viewlet Builder, Captivate) is its ability to display appropriate text, such as menu and menu item names captured during the recording.

For example, if you set up UPK to work with MS Word, and you want to record the steps to print a file, then UPK will not only capture steps to print but also display in text the menu, menu items, and window names involved in printing the file.

So to print a document, you would go to File menu, select Print, choose a printer name in the Print dialog box, and click OK. When you use UPK to capture this series of steps, UPK will record the sequence of events and display the following text messages in bubble boxes:

1. Start by navigating to the File Menu.
2. Select Print.
3. Click the Name drop down list.
4. Select Printer 1.
5. Click OK.

Because UPK automatically inserts textual content, it minimizes chances of edit errors and increases productivity by allowing you to record several tasks within a short period. UPK also allows you to edit your recordings if you have missed a step or captured a wrong step.

To know more about UPK, go to:

To have your common UPK issues answered, visit:\

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Software Documentation Process

So you are ready with your product about to be to released in the market. The QA testing is complete and results look good. But hey, hold on a second! You are missing something. What’s that, Oh Good Lord, what’s that? Its user documentation, people!
Agreed you built the coolest product in town that allows your customers to integrate that PeopleSoft Financials accounting system with your Siebel CRM. But how on earth are your users ever going to use the damn product until you have user manuals telling them how?
What follows is a condensed description of the software documentation process followed in most product companies around the world.

Understanding the Documentation Process
The user documentation process ensures that you have a set of standardized support documents to assist your customers use the product. A product not supported by good documentation is a dead product. Therefore, reliable product documentation is not only crucial for your customers, but it also decides the fate of your product in a competitive market.
This article helps you understand the documentation process followed in most product companies across the globe. Although, companies might adopt different flavors of the documentation process, the basic flow remains the same.
Determining Product Readiness
At this stage, make a decision to follow approach 1 or 2.
You might want to choose approach 1 if your product is QA tested and ready to go to the market. Identify a writer and hook the writer up with a Subject Matter Expert (SME). Since you will be at the end of your product development cycle, the writer will have a ready product to play with and learn the product on the job, reducing the learning curve.
If you are at the start of your product development cycle, you might want to choose approach 2. Large product companies identify and train a team of technical writers at the start of the product development cycle. Writers are invited to crucial design meetings and encouraged to review and provide feedback on design documents. In such cases, writers start to work on documentation at the same time when developers start coding the application. Source documents, such as functional and technical design docs form the major source of information for the writers in this model. Writers also interview SME(s) to know about the product.
Reviewing Market Requirement Documents (MRD)
Most companies collect market requirement documents to give a direction to their products. MRDs are a reliable source to understand the philosophy behind the products. Writers can use these documents to create scenarios and highlight product relevance to users.
MRDs also provide the framework for functional and design documents down the stream.
Analyzing Target Audience
The writer along with the SME does a target audience analysis and establishes the profile of the user. MRDs are a great source to understand target audience.
Users of a system are not all the same. The writer must structure the doc to cater for different user tasks and different levels of expertise and experience. It is particularly important to distinguish between end-users and system administrators:
End-users use the software to assist with some task. This may be flying an aircraft, managing insurance policies, writing a book, etc. They want to know how the software can help them. They are not interested in computer or administration details.
System administrators are responsible for managing the software used by end-users. This may involve acting as an operator if the system is a large mainframe system, as a network manager is the system involves a network of workstations or as a technical guru who fixes end-users software problems and who liaises between users and the software supplier.
Determining Documentation Types
Depending on your audience, you can choose to have several types of documentation. If your audience largely consists of novice users with limited experience with a computer, you might want to create an introductory manual, such a Getting Started with the System guide. Documentation deliverables can include, but not limited to:
· User Guide
· Implementation Guide
· API Guide
· Online Help
Creating/Writing the Documents
After you have decided on your documents, set up a team or engage a single writer depending on the volume of work. Best practice at this stage includes drawing a schedule and managing that schedule to ensure that your documents are of high quality, technically accurate, and on time.
There are several documentation tools. Examples include:
· MS Word
· FrameMaker
· AuthorIT
· Epic Editor
· RoboHelp (for Online Help)
If your documents include large number of pages, use Frame Maker 8.0, the most recent offer from Adobe. If you need XML output, use Epic editor. If you want to tear your hair out, use MS Word.
Reviewing Documents
Set up a process to ensure all documents pass through language and content edit. Ideally, language edits are done by language editors based on in-house style and standards guide or widely recognized style guides, such as Strunk, MS Manual of Style, and the Chicago Manual of Style.
Send all documents for technical edit to ensure that the content is correct and syncs with the product functionality. A good user document is one that is referred to as the source of truth by everyone in the company.
Testing Documents
It is a good practice to QA test documents, such as Installation guides and Quick Reference guides. This way, you get to squash the bugs even before they are reported.
Publishing Documents
Once you are done testing and finalizing your document, you need to publish the documents for your users to access. The most common way to publish is to create PDF files and burn it along with the product CD or upload the PDF files on the web.
So there you go! I have outlined a basic documentation process. There are many more components to the process that need attention depending on the size and commitment of your company towards documentation.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Zlob DNS Changer

You definitely know you are infected with a virus when you browser gets redirected to a wired looking IP address on its own.

There could be many reasons why that happens, one being, the Zlob DNS Changer. Zlob DNS changer usually comes in as a Trojan when you download video codecs from the Internet.

How do you know its Zlob? Run Spybot and you should know for sure if it is Zlob.
If you are sure about Zlob being the culprit, download the following software:

HijackThis lists the contents of key areas of the Registry and hard drive--areas that are used by both legitimate programmers and hijackers. The program is continually updated to detect and remove new hijacks. It does not target specific programs and URLs, only the methods used by hijackers to force you onto their sites.

ATF Cleaner
ATF is a new, freeware, temporary file cleaner for Windows, IE, Firefox and Opera with a simple, easy-to-use interface.

Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware
Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware is the next step in the detection and removal of malware. Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware monitors every process and stops malicious processes before they even start.

F-Secure BlackLight
F-Secure® Internet Security 2008TM provides a complete and easy-to-use protection against all Internet threats, whether they are known or previously unidentified.

Installing and Running the Search and Diagnosis Software
After you have downloaded the above software, install them on your machine.
Installing HijackThis
To install HijackThis:
Double-click the .exe file you have download in your local machine and HijackThis does the rest of the step to install itself.
Run HijackThis and view the log. Check for registry entries that you think are weird or do not belong in your machine. Always backup your registry before you start removing registry entries. If your log shows entries as shown below, then you sure have something serious to deal with:
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,SearchAssistant =
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,CustomizeSearch =
O17 - HKLM\System\CCS\Services\Tcpip\..\{0F8B5758-CA74-4CFB-BE0E-BE8C21A76C61}: NameServer =,
O17 - HKLM\System\CCS\Services\Tcpip\Parameters: NameServer =
O23 - Service: Windows Tribute Service - Unknown owner - C:\Windows\system32\kdzwn.exe At this stage, you choose to seek help from the professionals at or if you are feeling very confident and lucky, perform the following steps:
1. Run the ATF Cleaner.exe.
2. Double-click ATF Cleaner.exe to open it.
3. Under Main choose, Windows Temp, Current User Temp, All Users Temp, Cookies, Temporary Internet Files, Java Cache.
4. *The other boxes are optional*.
5. Click the Empty Selected button.
6. If you use Firefox, click Firefox at the top and choose Select All.
7. Click the Empty Selected button.
8. NOTE: If you would like to keep your saved passwords, please click NO at the prompt.
9. If you use Opera, click Opera at the top and choose Select All.
10. Click the Empty Selected button.
11. NOTE: If you would like to keep your saved passwords, please click NO at the prompt.
12. Click Exit on the Main menu to close the program.

Installing Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware
1. Double-click mbam-setup.exe and follow the prompts to install the program.
2. At the end, be sure a checkmark is placed next to Update Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware and Launch Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware, and click Finish.
3. If an update is found, it will download and install the latest version.
4. Once the program has loaded, select Perform full scan, then click Scan.
5. When the scan is complete, click OK, then Show Results to view the results.
6. Be sure that everything is checked, and click Remove Selected.
7. When completed, a log will open in Notepad. Please save it to a convenient location. The log can also be found here: C:\Documents and Settings\Username\Application Data\Malwarebytes\Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware\Logs\log-date.txt
8. Please post contents of that file & a fresh HijackThis log in your next reply.

Installing F-Secure BlackLight
1. Load F-Secure Blacklight into a new folder C:\Program Files\Blacklight.
2. Start in this folder fsbl.exe and close all other programs.
3. Accept the agreement and click Scan.
4. After the scan is finished close the window.
5. The log will be fsbl-XXX.log in the Blacklight folder. In place of XXX there will be some numbers.
After you run HijackThis, open the log file. The log file should display registry entries similar to the ones shown below:
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,SearchAssistant =
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,CustomizeSearch =
O17 - HKLM\System\CCS\Services\Tcpip\..\{0F8B5758-CA74-4CFB-BE0E-BE8C21A76C61}: NameServer =,
O17 - HKLM\System\CCS\Services\Tcpip\Parameters: NameServer =
O23 - Service: Windows Tribute Service - Unknown owner - C:\Windows\system32\kdzwn.exe

To remove these entries, start HijackThis, close browsers and other windows and Click fix checked.
Creating and Executing Batch File
1. Open notepad and then copy and paste the bolded lines below into it. Go to File > save as and name the file fixes.bat, change the Save as type to all files and save it to your desktop. (If you are still unsure on how to do this there is a little tutorial with pictures here)
@echo off
sc stop "Windows Tribute Service"
sc delete "Windows Tribute Service"

2. Double-click on fixes.bat file to execute it.
Viewing Hidden Files (Vista)
1. Open Folder Options by clicking the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Appearance and Personalization, and then clicking Folder Options.
2. Click the View tab.
3. Under Advanced settings, click Show hidden files and folders, and then click OK.
4. Delete following file if found:
5. C:\Windows\system32\kdzwn.exe
6. Reboot the system and run Blacklight again.

These steps should remove Zlob DNS Changer completely from your machine. For additional security, ensure your Java Runtime Environment is updated to 6.0 or the most recent version available. Also, reset and re enable your system restore and download SpywareBlaster.

Resolving PDF Problems!

You need to send that PDF file by close of business to your product manager/SME and the file won't just print. What do you do?

Listed here is a set of common PDF issues and solutions:

Pain: When you right-click a Microsoft Office file to convert to Adobe PDF, the application returns the message, "Missing PDFMaker files," and does not create an Adobe PDF file.

Solution: Remove Adobe PDF from the Disabled Items list in the Microsoft Office application.
To manage your Disabled Items list in a Microsoft Office application:
1. Open the Microsoft Office application (Word, Excel, Publisher).
2. Choose Help > About [the application name].
3. Click Disabled Items.
4. Select Adobe PDF from the list, and clickEnable.
5. Quit the Microsoft Office application, and then restart it.

If the error message continues to appear after you enable Adobe PDF, then check the security level for macros in Word:
1. Choose Tools > Macro > Security.
2. In the Security dialog, click the Security tab.
3. Choose Medium or High.
4. Do one of the following:
-- If you chose Medium, then click OK.
-- If you chose High, then continue with steps 5 through 7.
5. Click the Trusted Publishers tab.
6. Check Trust all installed add-ins and templates.
7. Click OK.

PDFMaker and the right-click context menu should function again.

For more, see

Pain: Images look fine in MS Word, but after converting to PDF, image quality is poor.

Solution: Save your image in JPG or TIFF format and embed the image into your Word document to publish using Adobe PDF printer. PNGs are not suitable for word to PDF conversion, TIFFS work much better. Use high quality print setting while converting to PDF. Also, standardize the resolution settings of your desktop (1024*768) and the DPI setting in your screen capture software.

Watch this space for more!

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