Monday, November 06, 2006

The Anonymity @ Internet..!

While on the Internet or the ubiquitous world wide web - presentation is very vital - for everyone out there is actually on a quest to make some real good sense. Take Yahoo, take microsoft or take Google (you anyways have to ;)) - all they do is make best sense of the noise that comes in from all corners and filter that out to yield the organic results.

Call this Excellent End User Experience or call this Smartness - at the end far end of the spectrum there are always some real good techies who are working day and nigth to achieve the otherwise considered tough milestones.

Now, being Monday today - I decided to honestly find some way to track my site visitors on the Web. As most of us know - the getting IP (read Internet Protocol) Address is the only way I can find about geographic location of my blog's visitors.

I learnt a simple way to get access to HTTP headers that the user will send to the server. This
will include the IP address along with other information the user's browser will send to the server. Thats indeed all I need to get someone's IP.

So all I do using this Javascript is get the HTTP Server Variables and get the information I want.

  • REMOTE_ADDR -- Gives me the IP address of the visitor
  • HTTP_USER_AGENT") -- Gives me the browser the you use to visit my blog
  • HTTP_REFERER - Gives me where you were before visiting this page

Try this out by clicking Button below...!

Thus possibilities are endless indeed. Now, when I sit back and wonder that if I can get this - imagine how much info the websites can extract from users !!
Wish I too learn how to do all that and lot more soon ;)
For now, I leave you all with yet another interesting site below that amazed me this evening...!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Emblematic Graphics...!

The Visual presentation on any surface - wall, canvas, paper stone have enetertained me since time immemorial..! Nature as such does a good or rather remarkable job in creating an amazing amalgamation of such illustrations which are
referered to as 'Graphics' in IT World. The way it differs is in IT Graphics design may consist of the deliberate selection, creation, or arrangement of typography alone, as in a brochure, flier, poster, web site, or book without any other element. Clarity or effective communication may be the objective, association with other cultural elements may be sought, or merely, the creation of a distinctive style.

Now, here's an interesting website I found today that really made me roll my eyes again 'n' again in amazement. What do we do when we see a link (attractive enough to catch our attention ofcourse) - Easy - we go ahead and click it to see whats there in store for us. Now some smart people that offer
instant document retrieval (read Google, Microsoft & Yahoo) capitalise on this very concept and here we have the omnipresent world on Online Advertising..!
So here's what happens - everytime you, me or any mortal soul clicks on an online ad - smart people out there pocket some decent $$ and equip us with the required informatio in return.

Anyways, while my mind was lost in thinking about the idea of Online advertising - I came across this very thought provoking website that basically is an experiment in human interface design. The web site claims that there is a small gap of time between clicking that can be eliminated by omitting the clicking process altogether.
You are allowed one click to start off the interface, and from then on as you use the mouse to explore the interface, you are warned not to click.
Believe me its very difficult & highly strange to navigate for an extended period without clicking.

One very interesting this interface shows up is that we get used to what we do everyday..!! Inorder to learn to get into new "groove" - we really have to break from our existing mindset that makes us believe that if there's a link on a Web - One must click on it :)

A very nice study on human psyche indeed...!

Go try it out for yourself ...!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Yellow Fade Technique...!

A lot of web sites & applications make you feel a bit like "Where am I, Did the update / submit I did on the website worked?". Hmm, now you might as well ask that Why does this matter anyways? The answer lies in User experience.

When we edit something on a Webpage - the whole webpage reload happens. The issue is once the page reloads, it becomes really difficult to spot and confirm the change. This is particularly noticeable in cases when the changes occur in middle of a heavily loaded webpage.

Imagine, having a feature wherein the user gets to know whether requested changes (read updations) were done or not as a feedback on the screen!! No, hang on - I am not telling about throwing the POPUPS but have the graceful feedback instead - I tried using the YFT and believe me its so amazing.

The YFT uses JavaScript to create a yellow highlight that briefly spotlights the change when the page reloads. Then, in a second or two, the highlight fades and the page reverts to its normal state. The YFT makes it super easy to spot edits/changes yet its unobtrusive nature lets people quickly get back to work once a modification is confirmed. Many AJAX applications are now incorporating the yellow fade technique. Whenever something changes on a page (without a page refresh), the area is highlighted in yellow and then fades to its original background color. The purpose is to call attention to a change in the interface.

I got a little curious and decided to explore this a bit further. I was particularly intrigued by Google as always with its every product using YFT !! Hope the following Image looks familiar. (Feedbacks like these are shown on every user activity done on Google Products like Gmail or my personal favorite Google Reader.

Since I am still not quick 'n' smart with AJAX Concepts, Javascript was the only thing I could have played with and here's what I did.

  • Defined RGB values for “base” color (by default, it’s a shade of yellow).
  • Defined the “holding” speed and “fade” speed of the Fade as per my wish.
  • To make an element fade I simply call the function chinmayzfade(”name”) where “name” is the id of the element inside DIV Element.
  • Its nothing too fancy or may be it is ;)

A mini-implementation of the same can be seen if you click on the button below. (The background on the above text will flash yellow than fade).

Do let me know suggestions or any ideazzzzz for making this fade better Or join BaseCamp instead!!

Basecamp project management and collaboration

Saturday, October 07, 2006

In The Clouds...!

Often I sit back in amazement watching Google launching products and services which no ordinary soul can aspire to even think !! I find sharing d little I know abt the Search Giant as the best way od expressing my marvel week after week. Today, being in a relaxed mood - I decide to find about how do Googlers ensure pinch of creativity 'n' passion in whatever they do - afterall going by the basics some 'provocation' is required.

Here's what I found....!!

Anousheh Ansari
, the first female private space explorer, called the Googleplex from the International Space Station 10 days back. The person on other side of the phone was 'Larry Page'.
The topics they discussed ranged from what Anousheh forgot to pack while blasting off from Earth(her husband!) to her hopes for the future of space exploration!!

Some highlights:
Larry: What was the biggest surprise?
Her: Seeing the Earth rotate for the first time. Every time I want to remind herself that she's really in space,I look out of the window, watch the Earth rotating, and pinch myself to make sure I am still awake.

Larry: What would you change about the space station?
Her: Add another shower, Add Internet access! since right now email is batched.
Larry: Laughs :)

Larry (wistfully): When can we come up to join you?
Her: You'll have to come up one at a time. In any case, construction is speeding up on the International Space Station, so tourists will probably be fewer for the time being. I hope you (Larry) can improve the food; although the cheese pasta is fun to chase, it's not much fun to eat ;)

Larry: Do you have anything inspirational to say?
Her: Explore the boundaries. Try new things. Be free-thinkers and use your imaginations. Learn from your environment, your teachers, your books -- but then go beyond your knowledge. I always wanted to go to space, although I didn't wind up working for NASA.
I detoured to different areas, but finally I found a way to make it happen.

Now, if Interviews like this are the sources of inspiration 'n' energy for Googlers no wonder they are doing their job of
organizing the world's information and make it universally accessible
exceedingly well

Another offbeat thing these guys do apart from creating tecnological wonders is help society. – the philanthropic arm of Google aimed at making world a better place by focussing on Literacy, global poverty, energy and the environment using Google talent, technology and other resources has started off in full throttle as well.

The list is endless......I wish I had the time to share everything....!!!! Till next time Happy Googling..! Do have a look at Price of a Dream - Anousheh's Blog !!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Speaking Of Search....!!

I’m writing this without the intention of presenting detailed account of all the things that seem important to me at this time (Its 03:02 hrs IST). I’m writing for the sake of writing. There’s a lot going by in the field of Search, and this is my attempt to slow it down. (Can I really....? ;))

Anyways - coming back to Search - its effervescent nature has always served as
fuel for my inquisitive self.There is always a lot going on in the world around Google and a lot more going on with the people talking about Google !!

Initially post reading books - "
The Search" & "The Google Story" - I perceived myself to be a Search Engine champ. But to my utter amazement inspite of best of my efforts 'n' application of all the street smartness I had - I couldn't manage to get Google's Robot to crawl my Blogs and index them :( I decide to do some more research....herez what I think I learnt...Err but before that some food for thought.....
  • The key to ranking high in and recieving traffic from the search engines is to optimize your site for specific keyword phrases that are not too competetive but still recieve enough traffic to make it worth your time to try to rank high for.
  • If you try to go after the most popular keywords you will find your site buried several pages in the search results and recieve little if any traffic as a result. Too many sites will be competing for the most popular keywords.
  • It is better to rank #1 or #2 for a specific keyword phrase such as "stock market investing tips" than to rank #100 for a more general keyword such as "stocks". "Stocks" may be searched for a lot more often but if you are buried so far down in the search results you won't get any traffic from it anyway.

So here we go:

  1. Make a list of targeted keyword phrases: Just sit down scratch ur grey cells to think about a list of possible phrases that your potential visitors will be searching for to reach your site. Being as specific and targeted will definately help. Next you should find the keyword phrases that will be most worth your time to go after using tools like - Keyword Selector & Keyword Tracker.
  2. Create an optimized page for each keyword phrase on your list: Many mortal souls like me trying to rank high in the search enginges make the mistake of trying to optimize for too many keywords on any one page. Thus, prepare separate page for every distinct phrase. Each page should provide information about the keyword phrase that it is being optimized for. Having your keyword phrase bolded or italicized somewhere on your page is also a good idea.
  3. Obtain quality backlinks to each of your pages: The third and most important step in ranking high in the search engines is to obtain links from outside sites. The mantra is "The more the better". Focussing your efforts on sites that themsleves have many links to them (or should I say a higher PageRank) will surely help.

Organic search engines are looking for specific word patterns on your page to decide whether it should be shown at the top of the results list, but you also know that your page must appeal to the searchers themselves. Infact there is separate field of study called the 'Search engine optimization'.

Btw - few minutes back a check on google did display by Blog. Wooooooolllaaaa - finally they have crawled my blog:

Now I better doze off to sleep ! Cao...!

Check these out for sure: 1 2

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Harnessing d Power Of Action Learning..!!

From Boston to Brazil, Finland to Tokyo, companies as diverse as Samsung, GE, Deutsche Bank and Boeing share one powerful workplace learning tool: action learning. They have created thousands of new products and services, improved service quality, cut costs and delivery times, and made fundamental changes to their organizations’ cultures by unleashing the power of Action Learning. Action Learning has rapidly emerged as a primary tool used by firms like Nokia, Novartis and Siemens for solving their critical and complex problems, developing leaders, building teams, and expanding corporate capabilities.

The Basics

The Problem: Action Learning centers on a problem, a project, a challenge, an issue, or a task – the resolution of which is of high importance to an individual, team or an organization. The problem should be significant, urgent and should provide opportunity for the group to build knowledge and generate learning opportunities. Typically, the situations in which "I am part of the problem and the problem is part of me." Holds true.

The Team: The core entity in action learning is the action learning team or group that is composed of four to eight people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Those differences will enable the group to see the problem from a variety of perspectives, and thus be able to offer fresh and innovative viewpoints. The members may be volunteers or be appointed from various departments..

The Process: : An action learning process emphasizes insightful questioning and reflective listening. By focusing on right questions rather than right answers, action learning focuses on what one doesn’t know along with what one already knows. Questions enable clarification of exact nature of problem, reflecting and identifying possible solutions, and moving only towards consideration of strategies and possible action. The reflective inquiry process builds group cohesiveness, promotes systems thinking and introduces innovative strategies.

Take Action: Any group loses energy, creativity and commitment if it just makes recommendations. Members must have the power to take action themselves or be assured that their suggestions will be implemented. Reflecting on the action provides the best source for learning and organizational change

A Commitment:Solving the problem provides immediate short-term benefit to the company. The greater long term multiplier benefit, however, occurs when the learning gained by each group is applied strategically throughout the organization. Also, the action learning places equal emphasis on making individuals smarter thereby resulting in quicker decision making and action.
The Coach: One member in the team devotes all his efforts towards helping the group learn. He identifies the opportunities that enable the group to improve its problem-solving and strategy-creation capacity. The coaching role may be rotated amidst the team throughout the duration of group’s existence.

The Action Learning components are depicted in the figure below:

The Benefits

Action learning works not because of luck, but because it inherently interweaves a wide array of organizational, psychological, sociological, and educational theories and principles. Action learning has an amazing power to simultaneously and effectively enable organizations to:

* Solve Complex Urgent Problems
* Develop Skilled Leaders
* Quickly build high performance teams
* Transform Corporate Culture
* Create Learning Organizations

The simplicity and applicability of Action Learning have enables many organizations to achieve breakthrough success. Try the approach yourself…!

The simplicity and applicability of Action Learning have enables many organizations to achieve breakthrough success. Try the approach yourself…!

All the very best...!!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Normalised Google Distance

Somehow the very fact that latent semantic context information is entered in www - (the largest database on earth) by millions of independent users everyday has impressed me since the time immemorial. Thanks to her - I learnt about NGD today !! The way I understand is :

  • We demonstrate positive correlations, evidencing an underlying semantic structure, in both numerical symbol notations and number-name words in a variety of natural languages and contexts.
  • Also, we demonstrate the ability to distinguish between colors and numbers, and to distinguish between 17th century Dutch painters; the ability to understand electrical terms, religious terms, and emergency incidents.

Likewise, the idea of automatically extract the meaning of words and phrases from the world-wide-web
Google page counts is amazing indeed. One of the most important resource available to researchers in computational linguistics & text analysis is Wordnet - an online lexical database. An Online version of the same can be viewed at

~~~~ The epistle ushers in the beginning of the end ~~~~

Copyright ©hinmay