Tips

Posted by Kiran

Though I work with an IT major, my time at work is mostly spent on Microsoft Outlook and Excel and rarely do I get to get my hands dirty with actual code. Hence, as a hobby, I spend time building some applications in my spare time and that helps me keep in touch with coding.

I recently embarked upon a project to build a Drupal module of sizeable proportions. As I worked on it, I soon found that ideas were flowing and bugs were being discovered faster than I could keep track of them. I realized that if I was to do any serious — even if informal — development, a Project Management/Bug Management software was essential.

Having heard quite a bit about Bugzilla, I set out to install an instance for my own personal use. As it turns out getting Bugzilla working is not for the faint of heart.

The initial steps to setup Bugzilla are the same as those documented in the Bugzilla Documentation. However, here are some aspects of the installation that finally got Bugzilla working on my Shared hosting account:

Posted by Kiran
I was recently developing a Drupal module that required having multiple tables on the same page. No issues right? Wrong! As soon as I put multiple tables with pagers on the same page, I found that the pagers on the tables just stopped working.

Flummoxed, I started searching for a solution and finally stumbled upon Rahul Singla's blog explaining how to implement table pagers using ajax. However, Rahul's script did not handle graceful degradation, which was important for me. Hence, using Rahul's approach & script as a starting-point template and reading up a bit more about the PagerDefault and TableSort query extenders in Drupal, this is what I came up with:

Posted by Kiran

There are many advantages of not using Google as your primary search engine. Escaping incessant tracking across the Internet is just one such benefit. With the recent brouhaha about NSA tracking almost all of us via the PRISM program, it may be a good idea to do with less tracking around the Internet. A search engine we should all consider using instead of Google, is DuckDuckGo.

The USP of DuckDuckGo is that they don't store identifiable information about you along with the searches that you perform. Hence, even if the US Government wanted them to share data, they wouldn't have it! Yes, there is a compromise: they cannot provide you with the kind of personalized search results that Google can. However, for most generic searches, they'll do just fine.

I have personally been using DuckDuckGo for over an year now and the search results are just as great, if not better, than those that are returned by Google.

Most of us don't explicitly visit Search sites — search engines, these days, are usually integrated right into our browsers in the form of the search bar or the "Awesome Bar".

Here are a few easy steps that you can use to setup DuckDuckGo as your default search engine across all your browsers.

Posted by Kiran

We live a large part of our lives online these days. The services that we use carry sensitive and personal, data on their servers - data, which, if lost or compromised, can cause us a whole lot of worry.

We use passwords to protect that data. Many users have had their data compromised due to weak passwords and then have a hard time getting their lives back on track. I have seen many of my friends & family suffering such data compromises and the resulting embarrassment and even financial loss.

Experts reiterate a three-point security rule to ensure that loss due to a single compromised password is minimized:

  1. Have a unique password for every website - i.e. use a different password for every online account
  2. Make your passwords a combination of random alphabets, digits and special characters
  3. Don't write down or share your passwords with anyone

Those rules are all good and truly help us stay safe. However, users still choose weak passwords, reuse passwords across sites or keep a written record of their passwords in some diary or piece of paper somewhere. Why?

The reason obviously is that those rules are to too damn hard to live by. I was personally guilty of reusing passwords across sites; that was before I started using Password Safe.

Posted by Kiran

Until recently I have been periodically taking manual backups of the content on my website. However given that life has been extremely busy in recent times, I have often missed my backup schedule. That I had to login onto my CPanel to take the backups, then manually download them - all time consuming activities - did not help. I kept deferring my backups reasoning to myself that I hadn't made any recent updates in any case.

One day however, I found that some comments that had been left on my blogs were missing. I tried to investigate but couldn't figure out what had happened. I then encountered some missing files - again without explanation. Then my website just rolled over and died! Every time I got unsatisfactory explanations from my webhost: a planned server migraton had been cancelled; they had performed some security updates at the server level; etc. All the time they assured me that my content should be intact - well, I felt different.

That was when I decided that an Automated Backup solution was a necessity. I needed something that had minimal necessity of manual intervention.

Posted by Kiran

I have been asked many times by many people: "What is root and what is the advantage of having it on my phone?". I could reply by the standard answer that we so often come across on Android forums, that if you don't know what root is you probably don't need it. However, I personally find that response a bit offending — how is anyone supposed to learn new things if everyone who knows is unwilling to clearly explain?

Though I don't claim to be an expert, but my experiences in the past year with Android has taught me enough to understand what the pros and cons are with rooting an Android device.

Here, I explain the few points that you may want to consider before you decide to root your Android phone.

Posted by Kiran

Ever since I moved to Android from Windows Mobile, I have been complaining about the Android Platform's seeming limitation in handling Calendar reminders. The fact that the Android Calendar gave me only one 5-minute snooze option always troubled me and I have written about this annoyance in the past too.

I promptly bought Calendar Snooze, an application available in the Android Market which allows users to choose the duration of time for which the reminder must be snoozed, and even recommended it in one of my blog posts.

When I noticed that Google had neglected to include the feature in their much hyped Android 2.2 (Froyo) as well, I couldn't understand why Google chose to ignore such basic functionality.

However, in all my eagerness to lambast Google at their oversight, I seem to have neglected one design feature of the Google Calendar, which renders the snooze option redundant.

Posted by Kiran

One of the disadvantages with having to manage multiple Exchange Accounts is that it is very difficult to get a unified view of the all the accounts. Be it email or calendar schedule, each Exchange account could potentially have a different set that have to be dealt with. Microsoft Products only allow access to one Exchange account at a time, and that complicates things.

For emails I just move them into PST folders organized by project, initiative, topic, whatever the case may be. Once these emails — whichever Exchange Account they came from — are in their folders, I can easily get a chronological view of what conversations were going on related to that piece work.

Getting a similar view of appointments is trickier. I always like to know when my meetings are scheduled and ensure I am not double-booked at any particular time before I respond to meeting requests.

Managing this with two Outlook Profiles is next to impossible. However, I found a rather unique way of handing this issue. I use the "Publish to Internet" feature in Outlook 2007 to do this.

Posted by Kiran

All of us know that Microsoft Excel allows us to hide certain worksheets from view. Hiding sheets helps us in ensuring that any background lookup data or reference data that you want to utilize in your spreadsheets remain neatly tucked away from general view.

You may also want to prevent users from viewing certain numbers that are used in calculation on your spreadsheets. Hiding worksheets simply makes the workbook clutter free and helps readers focus on the spreadsheets that really matter.

The only disadvantage with simply hiding your worksheets is that it is equally easy to unhide them. Any Excel user worth his salt knows how to find and unhide a hidden sheet. To prevent users from unhiding your worksheets, you may choose to protect the workbook. However when you protect a workbook, you are also preventing the users from a myriad of other functionality that they may genuinely require.

Please advice

02 Feb 2010
Posted by Kiran

The eccentricities in the English language has long been a subject of discussion, debate and even ridicule! English is full of similar sounding words, weird spellings and punctuation that, when in the wrong place, can alter the meaning of the sentence! While English and its eccentricities can throw off any newbie, even veterans at times fall prey to them.

This may look like a very trivial and even banal subject to blog about. However, having come across multiple instances where even seasoned veterans make mistakes in choosing the right words for their professional communication, I thought the risk of sounding repetitive was worth taking.

Among various instances of such mistakes in communication, the most common mistake arguably is the use of the phrase "Please advice"!