Adieu Google Reader

Google Reader is going away on July 1, 2013. (Google Blog)

I have been using it for many years now & it has worked very well for my needs. There have been a few other RSS readers (mostly apps) in between, but I always returned to Google Reader.

Thinking about what kept bringing me back, it comes down to only one reason - I follow about 150+ feeds (some having numerous updates daily). I read some every day. The others may not be read everyday, but I do glance at some of the more intensive feeds in my free time  & find some real gems in there.

Any feed reader app chokes with this many feeds & posts. Startup time becomes slow, management becomes a pain, updates take forever.

Google Reader did all of that on its servers & kept stuff ready for me to access when needed. If I had a few minutes, I just had to open it & I had stuff to read. No feed sync progress indicators, no wait time for feed downloads, …

There were the few other attractions too like complete keyboard navigation and infinite feed history, but they were not deciding factors in making me stick with this.

I feel sad to see it go… but also have hope that the hole left by its departure will urge some new service to come up & innovate in this area - give me something that I never knew that I needed, but would not be able to live without in future.

Thank You Google Reader!!! Rest in peace.

Simple tip to overcome Procrastination

A simple trick to overcome procrastination (from "Best Procrastination Tip Ever"):
Decide to do just the first little part of it — just the first minute, or even 30 seconds of it. Getting started is the only thing in the world that matters.
I can personally attest to this - the weekly class, the monthly bill payment day, even getting to work on Monday morning - its always a problem till I start it. Once I start the activity or get to the venue, I feel very enthusiastic about it & end up wondering why I did not want to do it just a short while back.

Nice analogy of a News page layout

A very nice analogy of the layout of a news page from Designing Scannable Headlines:
It may help to think of your layout as a neighborhood: Section or column headings are the street signs, columns are the streets, paragraphs are the houses, lists are like apartment buildings, images provide the landscaping, borders and rules are fences, and headlines tell us who lives where. The stories then become the living, breathing inhabitants.

Configuring BLU Logic 1211 in my Pruis 2010

My Prius 2010 without navigation has a BLU Logic 1211 bluetooth package. This was one of the initial models where it was not integrated into the audio system's display, but instead just had 3 buttons (up, call & down buttons) below & to the right of the steering wheel.

I recently erased its bluetooth pairing with my phone, by holding down the call button for about 15 seconds (till I heard 4 short consecutive beeps). Then, when I tried to pair it again, my phone would ask me for a pin that I had conveniently forgotten.

The manual had no information about this & the information on the internet was skimpy. Finally, here's what I found:
  1. The BLU Logic 1211 is configured with a pin/passkey as "1234". I am not aware of any way to change this, but this one just works.
  2. For information about the different operations that can be done on the Blu Logic 1211, visit

iChm - a better reader for .chm files

Today, I found iChm - an ebook reader for CHM (Microsoft Compiled HTML Help) files on a Mac.

I had been using Chmox till now for reading the few chm documents that I had. But the minute I laid my eyes on iChm, I knew Chmox is history. The user interface conforms to the latest UI standards set by Apple & just feels at home on my Mac. Chmox on the other hand was good for its age but has not been updated in a long time now.

iChm loaded faster, had better keyboard navigation, was crisper in its rendering, allowed exporting to PDF files too (so I could load the file onto my eBook reader) & is free.

If you read CHM files on your Mac, be sure to give this a whirl !!!

Disillusioned with iPhoto

I went around snapping about 30 pictures in the past 2 days from my iPhone of product options for my kitchen & some jewelry options at various stores, so that I can decide later at home.

Today I open up iPhoto, import the photos from my phone, and ask iPhoto to delete the photos on my phone. iPhoto just hung at this point trying to remove the photos from my phone. I finally had to force quit iPhoto.

Alas, when I started it again, I just had 11 photos on my phone & the imported photos from my iPhoto library were also missing. Basically, iPhoto just erased 1.5 days of my effort.

More than the loss, its the knowledge that I cannot trust iPhoto as my photo store is much more concerning to me. Considering that iPhoto is such an excellent product in terms of usability, I expected much more concern for user's data from it. And more to it, there is no data that I can include as a bug report to the iPhoto team, as the photos are gone from iPhoto & the iPhone. There is no record of them anywhere.

I guess I need to start another tedious cycle of finding another photo management software & migrating my photos to it. :-(

Mac keyboard shortcut to Maximize a window

I have sorely missed the simple keyboard shortcut from Microsoft Windows to maximize a window (alt+space x).

There are many other solutions out there for a Mac based on AppleScript & a 3rd party application to invoke it using a shortcut (like Quicksilver). But there is a way to do this for most applications without installing any other applications.

Almost every application has a "Zoom" menu-item in the "Window" menu which does the same action as clicking on the Maximize button on the left corner of the window.

So, here are the steps to setup a keyboard shortcut for this:

1. Open System Preferences
2. Go to "Keyboard & Mouse"
3. Navigate to the "Keyboard Shortcuts" tab
4. Click on the "+" button below the list
5. Set the "Application" drop down to "All Applications"
6. Set the "Menu Title" to "Zoom" (no spaces)
7. Set any keyboard shortcut. I have set Cmd+Shift+M (opposite of Cmd+M which is the standard shortcut for minimize)

8. Click on Add
9. In the "Keyboard Shortcuts" tab, scroll down to see "Application Keyboard Shortcuts" at the end. Expand it to see "All Applications". Expand this to see the new shortcut you just created.

10. Close System Preferences

You are done. Now go to any application, press your shortcut & enjoy a maximized view of the application.