GMail love again

Small things about GMail make it such a pleasure to use. The has:attachment string can be used in the GMail search bar to look for mails with attachments.

Do such a search and open one conversation. Only the mails that contain attachments are expanded and the others are collapsed. Brilliant attention to detail there. You almost won't notice it at all.


Home Alone

I hate the following about living alone

  • Getting back to an empty, locked house
  • Cooking for myself

I have come to realize that the independence it gives me is not worth the loneliness. And so it was an absolute pleasure having Amma at home when I returned from work yesterday. Had an early dinner and went for a long walk with her. Waking up to a smiling mother and piping hot filter coffee is bliss. And then we enjoyed the crow show.


Intelligent Crow

I happened to notice some interesting behaviour in crows today morning. Amma had laid out a few slices of bread for crows to eat and this is what both of us saw.

One crow swooped down, nibbled at a few pieces of the bread and jumped down to drink from a pool of water that had stagnated on the floor of the terrace. Once this crow left, a second one came down and repeated what the first crow had done. As soon as the second crow departed, a third one came by. He just picked up the slice and flew away. Brilliant. Looks like the crow which dropped pebbles into a pot to bring the water level up has some serious competition.


Benign flushes

I hate benign toilet flushes. Why do I call them benign? Because they feel your shit gets a raw deal if flushed out of the toilet. Nothing is more irritating than seeing a blob of shit bobbing up and down after you have flushed.

Toilet flushes should be brash, aggressive and ruthless. If you own one and are not averse to sharing your toilet secrets, leave the make/brand name in a comment.


Amma's small box story

This is a literal translation of Amma's article in this month's Mangayar Malar (page 66). It was a prize winning article in the "Petti Kadhai" series which literally means "Small box stories" i.e. very short stories.

Sumathi's child was bed ridden. No amount of anti-biotics or doctor consultations would bring the fever down. Sumathi atlast turns to the tried and tested religious re-course. She decides to offer her child's hair to a temple and ties an one rupee coin in turmeric stained cloth to formalize the offer. Two days after, the fever subsides and the child is back on his feet.

To solemnize the promised offer, Sumathi and her family go to the temple. Sumathi is disgusted with the amount of the filth strewn all over the temple. They see 'devotees' tossing plastic bags and left over food all over the temple premises. Seeing this, Sumathi and her family resolve to take a different religious pledge henceforth. Instead of offering tonsures or money or articles in kind, they would come and clean the temple premises.


How do you take bath?

For quite sometime I have been interested in how much water I consume for my bath. Though I would have loved to substantiate my observations regarding this with some precise volume measurements, all that I have now are some crude time-volume estimates.

Listing the most common ways of taking bath:

  1. Fill water in a bucket and use a mug to pour water over the body
  2. Use an overhead shower
  3. Use a hand shower
  4. Fill water in a bath tub and jump into it
  5. Simple, use a deodarant/perfume

In India, the fourth method is not all that common. The fifth one might be, but that does not involve water economics. Out of the first three methods, it takes no rocket science to determine that the third one consumes the least amount of water for maximum body coverage i.e. the most bang for the buck in monetary terms. Unfortunately, the hand shower is not a standard fitting in most of the Indian homes (how the hell can I expect it in Madras, where people have a water room, to accomodate buckets holding reserves of metro-water). Even the hyped up ultra modern apartments mushrooming all over Bengaluru and other cities are no exception.

The economy of water usage using the above listed methods depends on two factors,

  1. The ability to control the amount of water that is dispensed
  2. The ability to direct water at the right places

Using the mug one can direct water where-ever needed, but you do not have a lot of control over the amount of water that is dispensed. With the over-head shower, the amount of water that comes out can be controlled with the tap knob. But one would have to move oneself around to get the direction right. The hand shower gets both the factors right. You can control the amount of water that comes out and can direct water at any part of the body without the user having to move around.

Though I do not have precise numbers/experiments to show that the third method consumes the least volume of water, crude estimates do indicate benefits of using a hand shower. With my hand shower it takes about 10 seconds to fill a mug of water. It takes about 20 seconds to get my body wet before applying soap. That is about 2 mugs of water. If I had used the bucket-mug combo, I would have needed atleast 4 mugs of water to get myself wet. To wash off all the soap thoroughly, I would need about 30 - 40 seconds of hand showering. That is about 4 mugs of water as against a minimum of 5-6 mugs of water of the bucket-mug combo method. We almost have savings of about 50% with the hand shower over the bucket-mug combo. Not bad at all. The hand shower has an added advantage during a cold water bath. With the bucket-mug combo, one would need some extra mugs of water to get adjusted to the water temperature. So folks get yourself a hand shower and save some serious water.

Unfortunately, this is the most un-sexy bathing post that one can hope to see.


The Linga Park

I was at the Kotilingeshwara temple in Kammasandra today, accompanying Appa and Amma. I literally went there out of curiousity to see so many idols, than out of any devotion (I don't have any too). And boy! they have quite a collection. They have about 86 lakh idols installed. You just see them everywhere.

Getting there from Hosur was a PITA. There are two ways to get there from Hosur

  1. Hosur --> Bagalur --> Malur --> Tekal --> Bangarpet --> Kammasandra
  2. Hosur --> Bagalur --> Berigai --> Masthi --> Bangarpet --> Kammasandra
Both the routes are pretty hopeless. The first one is probably the worst route you could ever travel on. Significantly the parts of the roads through Karnataka were really really bad. A reason for their neglect could be the fact that, it would be a lot easier to reach the place from Bangalore via Old Madras road than from Tamil Nadu/Andhra Pradesh. Speed breakers on the roads were the only wholesome parts of the road.

My mom summed up the visit in her own words. The place was like a "Linga Park" than a temple that evokes bhakthi.


Web Marker 0.4 beta

Web Marker does not have a great UI. It is rather in-efficient to select text and move the mouse over to the toolbar to highlight the selection (the context menu option was'nt very friendly either). Taking inspiration from word processors and going a step further, Toufeeq and I have revamped the Web Marker UI. Now Web Marker supports a mark mode (just like emacs and Vim). In this mode selected text is automatically marked at the end of the selection event. The Mark Button toggles between the normal mode and the mark mode. In the normal mode, hitting the mark button does either of the following actions:

  1. Marks selected text, if any. Web Marker stays in normal mode.
  2. If there is no selected text, Web Marker switches to Mark mode. From here on text selections are automatically highlighted.

Toufeeq brilliantly came up with the above UI behaviour. It is interesting to compare this with the feature available in current word processor like applications. The formatting buttons such as highlight, bold, italics etc. have to enabled every time a text selection is to be formatted. Rather in-efficient, isn't it? Try out the 0.4b version of Web Marker to see how it makes marking web pages a breeze.

Another small thing that made into this version of Web Marker - all buttons of the toolbar are available as floating buttons i.e. they can be attached to any of the existing Firefox toolbars. This lets you save on screen estate. Having a toolbar occupy that much of space was'nt the greatest piece of UI.

Please try it out and let us know. We are hearing.