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Category Archives: Hacking

I know that I suck at blogging. I really do, I’ve been trying to blog since I was 12. But it turns out either I’m too busy or too cbf to blog. Anyways, this month, I’ve decided to hack the world of blogging. Truely, I need to know more about it. Not commercial blogging, and making money off it. Just personal blogging and sharing amazing things with the world. So this month, I’m taking a crack at blogging platforms (mammoths like WordPress and MovableType as well as simple ones like Tumblr and Posterous). I’ll also be blogging everyday, like like Fred Wilson or Seth Godin. I’m planning to force myself to blog regularly long enough for the habit to take over. Apart from just testing out these blogging platforms, I’ll look beneath the hood of WordPress, try and figure out how the whole thing works. Plus, I’ll also try and hack the blogosphere, who produces the content, where does it come from, how you get it, how can you get it faster, and dozens of other nitty gritty facts about it. I hope, if nothing else, I’ll be a better blogger for knowing these things.

Okay, this month, the online service that I’m hacking is Twitter. Just so that the Feds out there know, by hacking I mean taking full advantage of. Now, there’s no one way that I can measure my effectiveness gain on Twitter. Getting more followers seems childish, and following more people is a matter of whacking out a 25 line mass follow script. So, the only objective way of measuring my success is to see how many new friends I make on twitter since a recent poll suggested that the majority of people tweet to meet new people. By friends, I mean real good connection, not just “Hey, I’m GVRV” kinda conversation. Plus, for all intensive purposes, I’ll be giving Twirl and TweetDeck a shot. Plus, at the end of the month, I plan to code a simple client written in C to fully understand the Twitter API. Currently, I have 429 followers, I follow 673 people and I’ve tweeted 337 times. Hopefully, this experiment will go as planned. Right now, though I’m following some truely amazing individuals on Twitter, I haven’t made any friends through the service. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes.

I’m a vegetarian by choice. Not because of moral or religious reasons. It’s just that I was brought up a vegetarian and it’s really hard to start eating meat now. The thing is, I’m really picky with my food, and so being a vegetarian limits what I can will eat. It’s more constraitive when I’m trying to plan a balanced, nutritional diet to hack my fitness levels. To be honest, no one ever mentions a healthy, complete vegetarian diet. Of all the Men’s Health issues I’ve read so far, all diet plans included meat. But I was surprised that I didn’t even find an answer on Google till my 5th search which lead to this simple yet effective nutritional diet that I will try to follow from next month. It’s not rigit, it’s just meant to be a guideline of what I want to include in my diet. Plus, I’m free to eat whatever on weekends. And I’ve got one chocolate bar, and one piece of cake a month allowance.

Breakfast: Wholemeal Bread x 2 + Cottage Cheese or Baked beans and Vegemite + Strawberry Yogurt + Melons/Apple + Glass of milk
Lunch: Wholemeal Spaghetti with Tomato paste or Veggie Burger or Chickpeas+Potatoes(with onions/tomatoes) Salad
Dinner: Chickpea curry with 2x chapattis or Beanburger with Yogurt dessert
Snacks: Bio Yogurt + Dried Fruit + Fruit + Popcorn

This diet ensures that my daily quota of 1400 calories is supplied and I get daily quota of protein(legumes), vitamins(vegemite), Iron(lentils), Zinc(nuts) and Calcium(milk), and I might take a protein/nutrients suppliment when I start working out. Plus, Pizza is strictly prohibited on weekdays. So are chips and coke. Beers are only permitted on from Thursday to Sunday, only 2 days a week from that period and maximum of 6 standard drinks. Apart from starting this strict diet next month, I’m also *drumroll* joining a gym. Yes, I’ve never really joined a gym before, but I think it’s time for me to get back in shape. I haven’t settled down on a workout yet, but I’m sure I’ll post it here when I do.

Marketing Genius Seth Godin wrote a post today highlighting some points answering the rather trivial but highly engaging question “What is school for?”. I’ll give my take on the points he makes in his post. First, let me tell you that within a week, I’ll change to my third University in two years. Yes, I hate higher education, at least the way it is modelled right now. I think paying astronomically high fees for little valued education in this economy to get a somewhat decent job, just doesn’t add up. Going back to Godin’s post, here is what I think. 

1. Become an informed citizen 
2. Be able to read for pleasure
4. Do well on standardized tests
5. Homogenize soceity, at least a bit
6. Pasteurize out dangerous ideas
7. Give kids something to do while parents work
8. Teach future citizens how to conform
9. Teach future citizens how to desire
10. Build social fabric
14. Help people interesting or productive
15. Defang the prolefariat
16. Establish a floor below which a typical person is unlikely to fall
18. Make sure kids learn to exercise, eat right and avoid common health problems
19. Teach future citizens to obey authority
21. Increase appreciation for art and culture
22. Teach creativity and problem solving
23. Minimize public spelling mistakes 
24. Increase emotional intelligence
25. Decrease crime by teaching civics and ethics
27. Make sure the sports teams have enough players 

I can say that these points, at least most of them, were covered, partially or in full before I began my tertiary education. But while most developed countries have free schooling till then, I attended a private school in India, and I’m sure my parents spent a shitload for those 16 years of education. 

12. Generate future scientists who will advance medicine and technology
17. Find and celebrate prodigies, geniuses and the gifted

Frankly, these are only reasons to even consider tertiary education. Unless you are really smart, which will likely mean you’ll be doing some research, tertiary education and the cost associated with it is almost useless. 

3. Be trained in the rudimentary skills necessary for employment
11. Create leaders who help us compete on a world stage
13. Learn for the sake of learning
20. Teach future employees to do the same
26. Increase understanding of a well lived life

To be frank, none of these have anything to do with a school. Most employers want experience (source: the 200 firms I sent my resume to over the summer). A prototype software will increase your chances of getting a job more than a graduate degree. I can’t possibly relate how schools and leaders are related. The world has seen some extraordinary leaders who’ve never been to school, the leaders before the modern education system was established. I don’t think anyone should learn for the sake of learning, cause if you’re doing something for 10+ years just for the sake of it and not enjoy it, then you won’t possibly live a well lived life. And I’m sure my grandfather, an uneducated farmer lived a well lived life, and he knew it. 

So if you’re spending a huge amount of money on schooling or trying to get into the highest ranked school, think again. Schools, more often than not try to chain you down. Curb your freedom and creativity. I’d suggest try and get a free ride, or the highest amount of scholarship you can. Try to take an internship while at school and start working on your own side projects. Try to stand out from the crowd and start doing what you want instead of what the University has to offer. What do you think?

I’ve been programming seriously since 4 years, but the first language I ever learnt was HTML about 8 years ago. I learned it over a couple of weeks, and became really good at it. So obviously, people wanted me to create websites for them. At that point I didn’t mind having a few projects on the side, but there was one thing I couldn’t do. I was really good at coding the page in HTML, but an utter failer when it came to designing stuff in PhotoShop or focusing on UX or any sort of aesthetics. 

 

I think that’s a problem a lot of programmers face. They can design the backend of a system effortlessly, but once they start working on the design or the aesthetics, they’re dumbfounded. But I’ve always been fascinated by aesthetics of software. I follow a lot of design blogs and try to learn design. And I think good programmers can learn design, because even if they’re not good with visual aesthetics, they can churn out aesthetic flawless code. So I’d suggest you fire up your favorite image editting software, get some advice/motivation from this Hacker News thread and start designing. I’ll keep you posted on my design adventures, are you starting yours?

I’m no Apple fanboy. Infact, I even sold off my iPod. Not to say that I hate Apple. They make remarkable products with extraordinary GUI and they are constantly revolutionizing the tech sector, pushing new boudries. Like when they launched the iPhone. Though the iPhone does have it’s fair share of shortcomings, it’s application distribution platform, the AppStore is great for developers like me. You can code up an app within a couple of weeks, push it into the market, see if it makes it, or start working on another app. It cannot be more rewarding than that. And small time developers who coded apps in their spare time are earning hundreds of dollars every hour. So iPhone development is one thing I wanted to get into as soon as possible. 

 

After Apple removed the NDA, it became easier to work on the iPhone SDK but its still elusive. My university’s library only has one book on iPhone development (currently borrowed, I think it’ll always be in demand) and most of the classes we’re working on at university or at work usually focus on Windows or Linux based development. So, when I started searching for a reliable source to learn iPhone development considering that I was completely new to Mac programming, there were few and far between. But, the holy grail of all tech universities came to my rescue. 

 

Stanford introduced a new class called “CS193P: iPhone Application Development” last year. I think it’s the best source to learn especially for new programmer getting into Mac development because it is aimed at students, Stanford students nonetheless. I checked out some of the slides, and I think it’s the best thing I can get to a good book, to teach myself iPhone development. Even the applications that the current batch developed as a part of their final project seem professional and interesting. And the best part, all of the lecture notes are freely available. Starting tommorrow, I’m beginning CS193P from Week 1, are you with me?