Random thought

“There are some points in your life, when you have to just let your brain on auto-pilot and work on intuition and co-incidences than on logic and reasoning.”

2007 – a recapitulation

Warning: Some bit of self praise ahead.

Nearing the end of yet another successful year. The year 2007 has been one of the 'longest' year in my life. With milestones achieved and several noteworthy events in both my personal and professional life, I should say, this perhaps could not be better!

Here are some important milestones/events in the last year (in no particular order):

  • Learnt car driving and also got my 4 wheeler license. This was pending for a very long time.
  • Part of the organization committee of the Web 2.0 conference organized by CSI Bangalore. I also delivered a talk on Enterprise application of Web 2.0 here.
  • Attended swimming classes, another thing that had been pending since a long time.
  • Tried my hand at cooking (could have done better).
  • Got myself an iPod Nano.
  • Delivered several talks and conducted hands-on workshop in colleges mostly on Eclipse.
  • A few solo bike rides including the ring-road trip (This got more traction than I had expected with casual readers noting this more than my other entries!).
  • Went to a few places and clicked a lot of photos.
  • Guided a successful intern project.
  • Eclifox release in alphaWorks.
  • A few awards, papers and recognitions.
  • Several other professional achievements – which unfortunately I cannot mention here.
  • Last but not the least: experimented with my hair style and got a whole bunch of comments from family and friends!

Prove that you are a human being

In continuing with my observations made here, I wonder if the following way of preventing someone from spamming a commenting system really helps:

____________ Spam protection: Sum of II plus III plus IV ?

If I really want to spam this site, I can write a simple routine to scrape the string matching 'Sum of ___ ?' and then feed that into Google like this:

Google search: II plus III plus IV

And there you go! You are spammed!

Speed reading by hacking the column count in Firefox

Recently, I came across a Greasemonkey script for Wikipedia. The script helps us to view Wikipedia articles in multiple columns.

I found this to be useful and in fact saw that it improved my reading speed. In the last one week, I have referred to a lot of Wikipedia articles, and I am really addicted to this multi-column hack.

So now, when I am reading some article, if the article spans the entire width of the page, I open Firebug, 'Inspect' the element displaying the content under consideration and add:

-moz-column-count: 3;
-moz-column-gap: 50px;
font-family: Calibri;
font-size: 11px;

to the element.

And if I end up visiting this site frequently, then I can add a Greasemonkey script or a Userstyle for the page or set of pages.

Wikipedia in Firefox using a customized GM script

The above screenshot shows a Wikipedia page as displayed in my browser.

So why is this so useful?
Sometime back, when I was reading an article on usability, I learnt that the reading speed depends on the width of the column. This is one of the reasons why you are able to read news articles faster in newspapers than online. You end up spanning the page vertically rather than horizontal + vertical eye movements. Rather than point to a single article, I would like to point you to the Google search for the study around this topic.

Some of the popular pages where I have added this multi-column functionality are: Wikipedia, Developerworks and Javadocs.