Productivity hack – Read web posts on kindle

July 16, 2013 Leave a comment
Kindle is an absolute delight for reading books. But like most people, I too spend lots of time reading posts on web. It turns out you can use kindle for that purpose too. You can send any post that you are reading in a browser to your kindle and read it at your own convenience. The best thing is, similar to ‘evernote clearly‘, only content gets converted and formatting is pretty neat. The other best thing is everything is done Over The Air.
There are two extensions for that, send to kindle by amazon and Readability. Both are available for chrome and firefox. I tend to prefer the official one ‘send to kindle’ but both works great.
This is how it works:
1. Install the extension and configure it with amazon account
2. For any web page click on extension -> send to kindle
3. The article will appear on your kindle whenever it has internet connectivity.
 
The obvious advantage is you get to read more stuff on the device you have bought mainly for reading. But there is one less obvious advantage.
 
I don’t know about others but more than often, I’d found myself reading some unrelated post on web in the middle of doing some work. I have no idea how I got there. I opened my browser to search about some stuff and one link lead to another and I end up reading some stuff on web thus, distracting away from work. The reason is whenever we see some interesting link/page, we just start reading it as we fear we might lose it. Even if we don’t read it, we keep the tab open.
 
This ‘send to kindle’ approach comes very handy for these situations. Find any interesting web page, just send it to your kindle. This also results in adopting the practice of ‘reading offline’. If you are reading offline (on a kindle), there is no chance you’d wander off by clicking some other interesting link in-between.
 

Finding topic to write about

July 14, 2013 Leave a comment
I couldn’t find a topic to blog about, therefore writing a blog on “finding topic to write about” seems about perfect. Irony, yeah, tell me.
 
I decided to write 4 blogs per week to be more involved in writing. Even if I force myself to write atleast one hour daily to meet this target, it turns out, finding something to write about has been the major reason to miss this writing target. Its not that I didn’t anticipate this. I had decided I’d try to write more about general things and my opinion, and I’d write about technical stuff whenever I run short on writing topic. How hard it could be to come up with a technical thing to write, right? 
 
Writing about technical stuff is easy and when you do programming for living, it shouldn’t be hard to write about any problem that you faced or your opinion on a particular design/coding practice. But there are two issues that makes me having second thought about it.
 
Very short post
The easiest to write technical posts have the structure of problem and solution. I’d write about some problem (that I faced) and a solution that I either found by myself or through SO. Usually, both these components can be finished in a couple of sentences. It doesn’t feel good to write about this.
 
Formatting
The other problem is I end up spending less time on writing and more time on inserting code snippets, adding screen shots, and other formatting tasks. This is made worse by wordpress and my current theme. The  published post always look different from the view that I get in  WYSWYG (what you see is what you get) editor.
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Productivity hack – Using evernote to context switch

July 9, 2013 Leave a comment
Image

Everyday, we do different set of tasks that we want to do more effectively. Task can be anything, be it writing blog, working on project A, working on project B, or bill payments for expenses. These tasks can be classified on the basis of context.

A context for any task can be defined as things that were in your mind the last time you were doing that task. For example, you are working on project A and you feel like you are done for the day and want to start writing something or maybe complete some unfinished blog post. Now, this requires context change from “Project A” to “blogging”. This context comprises of all the information to get started, from unfinished posts to new ideas that you were having last time.

You try to remember what you wrote last time, you check your wordpress drafts, and you look for text documents where you have written new ideas. All these things take time. And, this cost hampers your productivity. You never know, this may lead to another reason for procrastination.

Evernote lets you avoid this overhead. For those who have never used evernote, it is a brilliant application to capture your thoughts/notes from all sources. You can write, you can clip web page, you can take photograph, or you can attach pdf document. Discovery is done either using notebook to cluster notes together or in-built search.

Steps to keep in mind in order to use evernote to handle this context switching

One Notebook Per Task

Keep a notebook for each task/context and bookmark it. Your click on any notebook on bookmark bar will load all the related notes and you are ready to roll.

One Note Per Thought
Dump all your thoughts while you are working in this notebook as a new note. Don’t bother writing good title or description.

Note for Current Status
Have a separate note to describe your last progress and what to do next. In my case I have a note titled “status” for every project to track my progress. Quite often, I have found that  if I pause working on a side project for a couple of weeks then, resuming that task afterward takes so much time in figuring out what I had completed and what needs to be done. This step will help you to quickly resume working.

How to view database tables content for windows phone app.

July 6, 2013 Leave a comment
Every application use some sort of relational database to store state and with linq2sql support you are bound to use it for your windows phone application. If you are storing data in plain files in isolated storage you should definitely check this linq2sql support.
Being able to view data in current database tables certainly helps a lot in debugging/testing. With a few steps, you will be ready to explore any data table of your application that you are developing.
Step 1: Get the file which stores the data.
All the data inside isolated storage is stored in separate files. And, there is a separate file for your database with a “.sdf” extension.
The easiest way to go about this is to install “ISE” extension (Isolated Storage explorer)
Tools -> Extensions and Updates -> Search for “isolated storage”
After installing this ISE extension, look for
View -> Isolated Storage Explorer.
Now, when your application/project is running either on device or on emulator, open Isolated Storage Explorer. In ISE window, press refresh and then download the snapshot. You only need .sdf file.
Step 2: Open the .sdf file in SQL server explorer (present in visual studio)
  • View -> Server Explorer
  • Right click on Data Connections -> Add Connection
  • In “add connection” window
    • DataBase -> Browse and select your stored .sdf file
    • Password -> Leave this field empty
    • Press Ok
  • Selected .sdf file will show in Data Connection Tab
  • Expand sdf file -> expand Tables
  • Right click on Individual Table and click ‘Show Table Data’

git – create and apply patch/diff

July 6, 2013 Leave a comment
git diff –no-prefix > temp.patch
patch -p0 < temp.patch
 
git diff > temp.patch
patch -p1 < temp.patch
 
And, don’t ever do it on Windows Powershell. Use it on Git Bash.
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Thoughts on Medium

July 6, 2013 Leave a comment

A couple of weeks back I came to know about Medium, yet another blogging site. First question – why would anybody use it when people have blogger, wordpress, tumblr etc. Infact, the question can be reframed as why would somebody build another blogging site. Ev willian created Medium so, there has to be something that Medium is offering which can be a game changer.

After reading lots of posts on medium and getting compelled to start writing on medium, here are my 2 cents (literally!)

Design

You just focus on writing and your published post looks as beautiful as it can get. You could argue that even on wordpress or blogger you can customize your themes and make posts look good. But that doesn’t solve the issue. First, lots of people just stick to default theme/style provided to them and second, even if they go out to choose the best theme, large number of options available to them doesn’t help either. They get lost in “paradox of choice” and end up choosing some shitty theme.
The end result is that out of 5 posts that you read on wordpress, 4 will not look that good whereas all 5 will look beautiful on medium. This gives a user enough reason to write on medium.

Discoverability

I don’t think any of the other blogging platform focus on finding and suggesting relevant content for readers. Medium does this through collections and embeds suggestions on every page for what to read next. As the content on medium is going to increase with time, quality of relevant content will be the key. The success in making users read more relevant content will also get views for creators. And why wouldn’t a blogging site succeed if its a heaven for writers. So, I think this can be huge.
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From amateur to professional

June 29, 2013 Leave a comment

Over the last couple of months, I have been reading a lot about making myself more productive. I do lots of readings, collect all the points and promise myself to follow all of them. Quite often, either I forget to keep these points in mind or even if I remember, its just too much work to act on them.

I came across this blog titled the difference between professionals and amateurs  during one of my random explorations. The idea described in this immediately struck a chord with me and I realized I had experienced the same thing. I started gymming 5 months back. I was too skinny and was fed up with my sedentary lifestyle. I don’t know which of these motivated me more to join at that time. Afterwards, every day I had to struggle to make up my mind to go and very little progress also didn’t do much help in that. But I kept going, never missed a single day except for unavoidable circumstances. And that made all the difference. Every day that I showed up at the gym even when I didn’t feel like working out, I never regretted that decision. After two months even my body showed signs of progress. There was no reason to quit. These days, after 5 months, it has become much easier to keep this habit. So, that worked out okay for me.

Why not try this to become pro in other fields. I have always wanted to become good at writing. I usually read a lot but that is not consistent. I started writing blog a couple of times before but procastination won every single time. The problem was I tried writing whenever I “felt like”. This time I am trying to do this the “gym way”.

I’ll start with target of writing 4 blogs per week (2 on weekdays, 2 on weekend). I’ll not be too hard on myself and will write about anything from programming post to any abstract idea/opinion. Time to get started.  You don’t have to be too smart to excel at something.
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