I've been working on a cool project. If you are a student of yoga or a student of life and if you like to take notes of facts and ideas, this could be very helpful.
Unless notebooks which you never look back at, this internet app can give you access to any note in one second through a super duper search engine. It's in private beta so if you want to try it out, send me a Facebook message.
Today & Tomorrow Only
As you might know one of the best ways to come to Levoča from Western Europe or the US is to take a direct flight from London to Poprad.
SkyEurope is offering some special deals just today and tomorrow for these flights.
You Snooze, You Lose
In the last couple years I have been working hard at encouraging yogis to use an RSS feed reader such as Google Reader. Unfortunately few have done it and are missing a powerful way to use the web enabling one to save time while keeping abreast of more sites such as this blog. If you see this post too late then you know what to do for the future.
You can follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SwamiAtma
I can't believe how fast the web technology is advancing. Many of these advances come courtesy of Google. Here we are actually talking about a desktop application but please check out this video demoing Google Earth 4.3. Very spectacular. And free on top of that.
I still think it's waste of time though. ;-)
So if you'd like to be in touch via Twitter, get a free account and feel free to contact me through my profile page.
More and more social web sites ask you to give your email address and email passwords to look through your contact list to find whether some of your friends are there. You should NEVER give out your email password to such web sites and services. Too much sensitive info lies there.
Found this amusing remark from this blog post about programming fake security.
... and if my bottle of water is so dangerous, why do they toss it in a big trash can and keep it in the airport?
Yesterday was the day I became a Mac person. After using PCs for about 20 years, I got a Macbook Pro laptop.
Some of you know how much I have been struggling with my PCs in the last few months and it put a real hurt on my productivity.
I could give many reasons why I have decided for quite a few months already that I'd switch to Macs but the first one is that it's a much better platform for Ruby on Rails developers and the next one is that the quality of software on the Windows side has been steadily declining for quite some time with no signs of foreseeable improvements.
About a year and a half ago I have started learning web programming with the excellent Ruby on Rails language and framework and since I have put a few projects together including the software for this blog, the whole yoga site and a few others. Many more projects are in the works.
This robot was programmed to solve the rubik's cube.
And a related quote to illustrate the progress made and to be made.
If trends continue, by 2017, a single computer hard drive will be able to hold all the data contained on all of the hard drives currently in existence today.
Here is an excellent article on the current state, limitations and especially new ways to develop artificial intelligence.
It is clear to many people that the brain must work in ways that are very different from digital computers. To build intelligent machines, then, why not understand how the brain works, and then ask how we can replicate it?
If you have any interest in the subject, that's the article to read.
This site lets you create your own art by moving the cursor and clicking on mouth.
Every few years I have been testing web page translators.
For the most part they have been so disappointing that it was really not worth using them. I just tried Google Translator and I have been pleasantly surprised.
At first I tried to translate the AYA pages and this blog from English to French and all made sense. Then I tried reading en English the Yoga Vidya home page and blog. Of course there are grammatical mistakes all over the place but the content becomes accessible.
I'll definitely play more with this in the next few days/weeks.
And the best part is that Google is working on a self-learning system that users can correct bit by bit so it should become more and more reliable as time goes on.
The key to enjoy this service at this point is to not set your expectations too high. This cannot be used for a proper translation job but are fine to make sense of text written in a language we have no clue about.
Three little know facts coming straight from Gullible Info.
3.4 percent of business emails contain only, "OK", "Thanks" or "OK, thanks".
Canada has more artesian wells per capita than any other country.
The percentage of email written in English decreased by two to four percent each of the past seven years. The fastest growing languages for email are Farsi, Arabic, Mandarin and Urdu.
You can now see all the AYA locations in one convenient map
I'm also working on a more ambitious map which will show all the places I have taught yoga at. Or at least most of them, the ones I can remember.
Kudos to Google Maps for giving us such an easy tool, free of charge, to create our own maps.
It was just a few years ago but t's already part of history; the very first web page.
In the last few months I have discovered those two alternative keyboards. I haven't tried them yet but both are very intriguing to me.
The picture is explicit. It's a 'blank' keyboard in the sense that nothing is written on the keys. The theory is that it forces you to truly touch type since you don't have any visual clues.
In time, providing you use computer long enough each day, you will become a much faster typist.
I haven't tried it yet. My reservation is concerning the rarely used keys. Can you find them?
The Optimus Keyboard
It's a bit the opposite of 'Das Keyboard'. Here each key has led indications and the advantage is that the keys show exactly what you type.
Those using different keyboards, such as myself using the 'Dvorak layout' or others using different languages, get to exactly see the proper keys.
This is a blog post about an article written in 1945.
Before the tools even existed, the author pretty much announced what Google does today.
A record, if it is to be useful to science, must be continuously extended, it must be stored, and above all it must be consulted.
Our ineptitude in getting at the record is largely caused by the artificiality of the systems of indexing. ... Having found one item, moreover, one has to emerge from the system and re-enter on a new path.Vannevar Bush - written in 1945
Here is the blog post where I found this.
Here is the original full article.
Since most yogis don't really have the inclination to keep up with the computer scene and I'm familiar with it to some extent, I do post basic computer advice once in a while.
For a long time I wanted to do a post about web browsing in general but I could not because I had two conflicting pieces of advice about it.
One one hand I felt like most people that using Mozilla Firefox was a huge improvement over the most used browsers (Internet Explorer on the Windows platform and Safari on Macs) but on the other hand the software that I found the most productive was 'Powermarks'.
The problem is that for a long time Powermarks would not work with Firefox. That is until a couple months ago when I discovered that a reliable beta version of Powermarks could work with Firefox. Since then I'm using these two in combination and am very happy with this setup.
The problem: If you have been browsing the web for more than a few months you have had the need/desire to bookmark (or select as favorites) numerous pages. However once the number of favorites reaches several hundreds it becomes hard to find back the page you had accessed once or twice and it also takes quite a bit of maintenance work to organize your favorites into folders.
After a while you might me tempted to just not bother anymore and stop bookmarking all the pages you may have a need for in the future.
Powermarks does not require folders as it is keyword based.
As you install it, it imports all your existing favorites and tags or labels them with keywords. Each favorite will have a label of the folder it was in originally so you do keep the ability to locate your old pages.
To add a new favorite or bookmark, just click on a button, add your own keywords if you wish.
The fun part is retrieving the pages. You just type a couple letters of one or more keywords and the list of bookmarks narrows itself and it usually takes me less than a second to retrieve any page I had marked even though I may not have accessed it in years.
What's the catch? Well although you get a 30-day trial period, the program is not free. In my opinion it is well worth the $24.95 price tag. Give it a try and download it here
2. Mozilla Firefox
There are many advantages to switching from your current browser, especially if you are using Internet Explorer, to Firefox.
Not the least of them is security. IE is a favorite target of malicious hackers (crackers) and is by nature more vulnerable to all types of attacks.
Firefox also has all types of cool features, a popular one being tabbed browsing. I often have between five and 15 web pages opened simultaneously and there are all contained within one Firefox window but in different tabs.
Also I have set 5 different 'home' pages. These are the pages I go to throughout the day and they all open automatically when I start the browser.
If you do switch make sure you go through the options so that you can set it up the way you want.
It also seems that Firefox is faster than IE.
A big selling (although it's free - it's an open source project) point for me is that it is 100% compatible with the web design standards (such as CSS style sheets) so encourages web developers and designers to design their web pages the right way. You can download it here.
I mentioned a while ago how the US department of Justice sued and threatened Google to hand over a huge amount of search records, order which Google was fighting.
Well it seems that the DOJ has been unsuccessful and Google has won that battle.
This is a clear victory for our users and for our company, and Judge Ware's decision regarding search queries is especially important. While privacy was not the most significant legal issue in this case (because the government wasn't asking for personally identifiable information), privacy was perhaps the most significant to our users.
New software help colorblind folks use their computers and get more out of the internet. Seems like an interesting project and worth looking into for anybody colorblind you might know.
And so the 48-year-old electrical engineer was eager to try eyePilot, a new program that gives colorblind people several ways to filter multichromatic images on their computer screens.
It's kind of refreshing that somebody's looking at it," said Rogers, who lives in Andover, Mass. EyePilot "has enabled me to do some things that I have not been able to do before.
If you have been reading this blog for a while you already know that I'm sort of a fan of Google. They keep coming up with very good software which they offer for free.
They make money with non-intrusive ads and that's fine with me.
In this post I gave my GoogleTalk IM id and a few of us are chatting regularly.
But now the Google team came up with a new idea which is to integrate the chat software with Gmail. The main two advantages will be the ability to chat with many more people (there are millions of Gmail users) and to archive the chat sessions in a very efficient way together with the Gmail messages.
It seems these things didn't bother only me, but a lot of other people too. Which is why, within a few weeks, when you log into Gmail you'll find a list of your most important contacts on the left-hand side of the window, and you can chat right away with those who are online. You can also save, search for, and view your chat histories just like your Gmail messages.
You may or may not be aware of this ever increasing push of the US government to spy on EVERYBODY, at home and abroad.
This blog entry talks about how the search engines are dealing with it:
The US government requested not personally identifiable search data from AOL, Google, MSN and Yahoo! in an effort to evaluate how often children might find porn on the web. Everyone but Google handed it over. The US government is now suing Google.
In a post yesterday I was mentioning the new generation of web applications and I did not know yet that there is a name for these superior new ways of doing things on the web: Web 2.0.
For some examples you can see a list of 'Best Web 2.0 Software of 2005'.
So in spirit of the holidays, here is a list of some of the best Web 2.0 software that I've come across so far. You may have heard of some of these, but hopefully you'll find a few nice new Christmas presents under your Web 2.0 tree.
Well I don't know about you but e-mail is becoming less and less manageable with the all the spam and all. It becomes more and more of a chore to check it daily.
Also lately someone commented on how weird it was that I was still using a "real", as opposed to virtual, daily planner.
Additionally I have been exploring lately new ways to use computers and software and I have been trying to catch up with the tremendous progress made by web-based applications and programing techniques.
All this to say that I just signed up for 30-day trial of an online project management application. I think it will save time to me, the AYA staff and karma yogis and improve efficiency in handling projects of all kinds.
It seems to be real good. It's called Basecamp and the address is: http://basecamphq.com/?referrer=aya.
If you sign-up make sure you indicate that we are your referrer: 'aya' is our code. Then we will get discounts off our future bills.
For a very low cost you can have a great number of people collaborate on projects and you can create a number of projects and make them individually visible by outside people such as clients and so on. Quite cool.
In a previous post about RSS feeds, as I was just looking into the topic, I did not really provide a suggestion for a good RSS feed client software.
Well I found a very good one that's free and extremely easy to use. The name is SharpReader and I recommend it to anyone who just likes to browse a few blogs, forums or even news web sites and would like to save lots of time doing so.
The program can be found at http://www.sharpreader.net/.
For some reason and I had not paid attention to it, the RSS feed link on the blog's home page was not working. I just fixed it and added a copy of the link in the sidebar.
For those who don't know how to use this, it involves downloading a RSS feed program so that you can see the new headlines every time I post a new entry in this post.
One solution for those who are not too computer minded is to start a Google personalized home page at http://www.google.com/ig and then follow the following steps:
- click on "add content" in the top left corner
- click on "create a section"
- copy and paste the following URL: http://swamiatma.com/wp-rss2.php
- click on go
The cool thing is that you can do this for all the blogs, forums and other interesting pages you visit regularly. This saves you a lot of time so that you go only to those pages when new items are posted.
I think Spam is a huge problem these days. I don't know anything about this software but we are going to try this out since it's free for AYA.
If you are curious please go to: http://www.stopspamtoday.org/stop_spam_fd.html
USB storage key
This interesting blog entry highlights the modern dangers of lost information.
Last month, Wilcox Memorial Hospital in Kauai had to inform 120,000 past and present patients that their private information had been misplaced. Their names, addresses, Social Security numbers, even medical record numbers had been placed on one of those tiny USB flash drives -- and now, according to a letter sent home, the drive was missing.
Well, it's no secret that I'm not very good at answering e-mails. For those of you who would like to contact me on the fly and chat for a few minutes once in a while, I just joined ...
... the Google talk IM (instant messenger) system.
If you would like to join please go to http://www.google.com/talk/
See you soon.
You may have noticed that in the last few days I have tried to include good photos with every post. I think it enhances every blog entry and I'll try to keep up with this habit.
Just a few years ago buying stock photos for little projects was prohibitively expensive but in the last year I discovered one of those low-cost stock photo suppliers. The photos are royalty-free, the quality goes from semi-pro to professional and the choice is quite good and improving every day. There are a few such services out there and the one I use is http://istockphoto.com/.
The cost is only $1 for a low res photo (good enough for web publishing), $2 for medium res (good for putting in a newspaper ad or small photos in inkjet printer) and $3 for high res (you can make decent 8" X 10" photo realistic quality prints).
Sometimes I can't find good photos there so I have lifted a couple of them from the web. I don't feel too comfortable with this but I figure this blog has such a small audience that it's okay and I don't do it at all on the rest of the web site.
It would be peculiar not to add a photo to this post so I'm attaching a photo that was given to me by a yogini at Westerwald yoga vidya ashram. Thanks Kumari.
I used it to make a gorgeous wallpaper for my laptop. Generally I don't like black backgrounds because of the energy they create but I think it really works in this case.
I feel the general public has not been fully aware of the tremendous progress made by the "open source" software movement.
Because of the bullish nature of many major manufacturers, communities of volunteer programmers have formed themselves to create free of charge, high quality alternatives to existing commercial programs.
The first famous such instance has been Linux, a UNIX-like operating system functioning on regular PCs.
Looking back I just realized that the Advaita Yoga Ashrama has benefited greatly from this movement. Our web site is running on software running Red Hat Linux as an operating system, Apache as a web server powered by PHP script language and MySQL database engine plus much more (sendmail, etc.).
All of these programs are considered top-notch quality while being free of charge!
Oh yeah, I almost forgot Wordpress, the amazing blog program powering these pages.
On my desktop computer I'm running OpenOffice.org a free alternative to the expensive and bloated MS Office. It can open and save Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents in most cases. I haven't had any problems doing so yet.
Lately, by the way of the John Dvorak Blog, I became aware of the OpenCD project. What they have done is sort out the best and most useful programs for the Windows user among thousands and thousands of existing open source projects.
The result is a terrific package. You have two possibilities:
- Download the whole thing and burn it to a CD
- Download individual programs
For example I had a project lately that necessitated creating .pdf documents. My only option, or I thought so, was to purchase a program at close to $300 for that purpose. I ended up finding a way around it as I did not want to spend that much money for a program I would not use very much.
By now I have downloaded PDFCreator program form OpenCD.org and it works great.
I intend to use it when I start a free Sanskrit correspondence course sometime in May. I'll be able to e-mail or post on the web the lessons as they come out.
I needed to buy some expensive piece of software for the Advaita Yoga Ashrama (AYA).
Turns out the program costs over $1,000 retail price. Ouch. After doing a bit of research we found out that the manufacturer could sell us the program at about half price because AYA is a registered 501(c)3 corporation.
Our research led us to find other specialized foundation-like web sites where they redistribute donated software to non-profits for a very low fee.
So if you are running or working for a non-profit, make sure you get informed before purchasing.
This blog thing is quite something. It's a whole new world which I am discovering as I get going.
Blog softwares have gone a long way and Wordpress for example, the open source software used to author and manage this blog, is a very advanced program.
What I just discovered is a promotion system in which you join the blogexplosion community, commit to visit some blogs and in return get some visits. If your blog is interesting enough, people come back and traffic can grow significantly. To tell you the truth I have not totally understood the system yet.
I will post updates later as to the efficiency of blogexplosion.
Here is a very cool functioning clock. You can put it on your web page or on your computer desktop.
It works well, it's pretty and there are several models and options to chose from.
Oh yes, it's a flash program so you or your site's visitors need the flash plug-in.
It has been quite a few years now since most people have adopted PCs at work and at home.
Obviously hardware and software are improving quite a bit but the evolution tends to be very slow. Most programs out there are not well designed at all and quite boring to use.
Every so often you stumble onto new software that ignate a new generation of programming and makes you say repeatedly: Wow!!!
There are two such pieces of software which have truly amazed me in the last couple months and they both are, coincidentally, offered for free by Google.
Photo editing and organizing The first one is a photo editor designed with the computer novice in mind. Most people don't know about resolution, photo editing, organizing great number of photos etc.
Our featured program, Picasa, excels at all named tasks but does not sacrifice power for the advanced image editing user. I still use Photoshop for some serious editing but definitely use Picasa for organizing and searching.
The program makes it a breeze, and a pleasure, to search and browse through thousands of photos.
Furthermore the interface is definitely "next-generation", on par with OS X Mac operating system.
To top it off, Picasa is free of charge! Just go to http://www.picasa.com/ to download it.
Have fun. Check out the timeline feature. It's my favorite but there are many others.
If you have been using hotmail.com, yahoo.com or a similar service for your web-based e-mail needs, you are definitely ready for the next generation webmail service: Gmail. The big gimmick is that you get 1,000 MBs of free space but I was impressed by the ease of use, blazing speed, attractive design and overall organization of the program.
If you try out Gmail, you will not want to use your current provider anymore.
Of all the great features and unheard of functionality, the organization of your inbox messages in conversations is the most innovative. I really hope that stand-alone e-mail programs such as Eudora and Outlook wil catch up soon to organize all e-mails in the same manner.
The only problem here is that Gmail is still in beta stage and it's hard to get an account until the service is widely released. The way is to somehow manage to get a Gmail invite from someone. You are in luck because I found one apparent source of invites. Check out this link. Very cool. 8-)