Friday, November 13

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak - Book Review

You are going to die.
When you are on look for your next read and hear about a book with Nazi and German's, a girl and so least interests you. But when you are told that the narrator of the Story is "DEATH", you surely want to grab hold of the book.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I was astound and vehement when I heard about who was the narrator and at the same time excited to get that book. Thanks to a friend, I got it at once.

The protagonist of the story is a 9 year old girl Liesel Meminger, the book thief. After her brother's death, she arrives in German in a distraught state at the home of her new foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann.

A childhood around war, Nazi Party, Hitler, Jews, Germany and a self-discovery as a book thief is well written by the author. It has a simple story, but the way it is narrated had a huge impact.

Liesel understands her situation, she is very considerate and a respectful girl. When you see the story through her eyes, it looks so innocent even though the war times are very brutal. Hans Hubermann is a talented accordionist, however a painter by profession. Not so talented when it comes to excelling in crowd, he always finds himself a step back. Hans is a loving and affectionate person and becomes a main source of strength and support to Liesel. He teaches her how to read and write.

Rosa Hubermann is strict and likes to be in control of everything all the time. Rosa appears to be a complete opposite of what Hans is, however within, she at times is mild and compassionate. In spite angry nature of Rosa, Liesel likes her and she respects her.

Rudy is Liesel's neighbor and friend. They study in the same class and play football. They too share a great story throughout in the book.

Another interesting character in the book is Max. He is a Jew and he takes shelter at Hans's during difficult times. And the Hubermann's accept his stay inspite of the huge risk of Nazi. There is an interesting turn of events within the family due to Max's arrival. He, hiding in their basement, Liesel keeping his secret, reading to him, explaining him the weather outside and the bonding between the family and Hubermann is very well put by the author.

With all the people surrounding Liesel and all the awful events happening around her, she has this passion for reading. She wants to get hold of the books at her disposal and sometimes stealing is an option. She however, is not greedy. A book at a time, she is the Book thief.

About the book
1) If you are a hardcore fiction lover and want a lot of drama, this book is not for you.
2) The book is very simple, straight, very nice narration and makes the reader very emotional.
3) The book keeps you wondering all the time. The events are not that predictable however, they are not either wonderful. So don't expect a happy ending.
4) The narrator is "Death", so accept the book with a pinch of salt.

Thursday, November 5

Egg-in-a-Hole Recipe, with a twist

I was browsing YouTube when I stumbled upon this video where the chef showed the hole in one's recipe. I wasn't sure if that is what it is called, I googled and the best name of the dish turned out to be "Egg-in-a-Hole". Being a very simple dish with minimum ingredients, and a super healthy breakfast, I had to try it, of course with a twist.

Below are the pictures of how it turned out. The twist however was, I added cheese and a pinch of coriander.

Egg in a Hole
The recipe is quite simple. Have a brown bread slice ready and use a cup with sharp edges to cut through the center of the bread. Apply some butter to it and then toast it on the non stick pan for some time. Keep an egg ready and break it in the hole of the bread. Cover the Pan for some time. I like the yolk punctured, so I used a fork to scramble it a little. After some time, when you feel the egg has started to cook, turn your bread slice and let it cook again for some time. Meanwhile, add a slice of cheese to the bread and cover the pan. Add a pinch of Coriander for taste. (I wanted to have a color when I would photograph, so added coriander to it.)

Egg in a hole - Cheese and Coriander

Sunday, October 25

Book Review - The Dead Tracks - Tim weaver

It was time to unwind and read a fiction. I had picked up a book and was about to leave when "The Dead tracks" caught my eye. I did not spare time on reading the summary, just took it. The 500 odd pages at first seemed exaggerated for a fiction but I must say, after finishing the book within 2 weeks, it was worth every word.

I could call it a psychological thriller, the book is based on David Raker who is a Missing persons Investigator by profession. Yes, not a detective, but focusing manly on finding people. David is very emotional and knows what it's like to grieve. He understands the shadowy, unhappy world of the lost. When Megan's parents approach David to take up their case for finding their daughter, who by the way is very unlikely a runaway, David understands their sorrow and agrees to investigate. Little did David know that what looked simple at first turns out to have a deep secrets hidden, people close to Megan are dead, others are terrified to speak.

David with his witty skills unearths a lot of truth about the case, about Megan and also about a very dark historical event that can be related to the present happenings. There is a dead track in forest with a horrifying history at the edge of the city which David discovers during the investigation. Every event turns out to be surprising for David. He himself gets caught in the events, he may loose his loved one's, in fact he may loose his own life, but he does not give up, because he has a job to do, a person to find.

Tim weaver's writing are straightforward and I enjoyed, how the events turned out in the book. Writing a thriller is an art and I must say I loved every sequence of the book. A 500 page book at first seems overwhelming, now I realize that the page count is not important, it is how you write and how you tell a story is what counts. Nowhere is the book was I bored or confused. It is indeed a masterpiece.

Saturday, October 24

Visit to X-Thrill - Lavasa

I had heard a lot about lavasa, but never got a chance to visit. They say, the drive to lavasa is good not the place itself. However we were visiting an Adventurous sports academy called as X-Thrill situated somewhere in lavasa. I was very excited. It was a team outing and being relatively new I had to be part of it.

We started at around 8.00AM and were expected to reach by 9.30AM, however due to unavoidable circumstances we reached by 11.30AM. Breakfast was arranged and it was very delicious. The owner there said, they cook food which tastes like home. I loved the boiled egg with the Chutney combination. Normally I would eat maximum 2 boiled eggs, but I was so hungry I grabbed 5 boiled eggs. Shameless, I know.

We were about 80 odd team members and had signed up for the treasure hunt activity. There were various other adventurous sports activities but since this was a Team outing and the purpose was to have team building activities, treasure hunt was the most suitable.

We were made to stand forming a circle. Everyone stood next to a person whom they knew very well. Fun begins. The Colonel (not sure if this was his rank, pardon me if I am wrong) then told us to count a number in series from 1 to 6.  It started from one person, and each individual had to count the subsequent number. Loudly. What followed next, I thought was a very good idea. Each number was then told to group. So people who were "One" were told to group, people who said "Two" had to group, so on and so forth. This was fun, I must have experienced it earlier in my childhood, but at the time, I thought this was really cool and of course an awesome starter for a team building activity. Each group was assigned 2 commanders. We introduced ourselves.

The Colonel, then asked us to vote our team leader within our group. We were then told to name our group and have a slogan.

To get a taste of the treasure hunt competition, each team was told to shout out their slogans. As loud as possible. As a team. One single voice. The colonel then choose a winner among us, and I guess were awarded some points. More about points later.

Treasure hunt begins!!!
Our commander had some clues written on a piece of paper, which he handed to the team leader. We had to collectively think, look for that area, thing etc and earn our points*. Sounds simple right? Nope. See the asterisk. Yes, we had terms and conditions applied.

One of the Clue : Agarbatti

Work as a team, think as a team. Given a clue, if you had to hunt for something and you did not move in a team, you would lose points. Yes, the most basic rule was to stay together. No matter what. I had notices, the commanders would take a very good look at this point. They had warned us several times about it. We took for granted.

You found your clue, good, to go to the next clue, you had to pass an obstacle. There was a team activity. And I must say, every activity actually involved team work. Unless and until entire team worked together as a team, it was impossible to pass that activity. I learned the meaning of the phrase "team building" during such activity.

My Experience.
Not only did I enjoy, but I got to learn a lot about how to act in a team activity. There was a clue, which I was quite sure I knew the answer to, but I had hard time convincing my team members, for various reasons whatsoever. Apart from that, I thought as a team I could do better cheering my team members. It was a hot hot day, everyone was literally running places to get to the clue and so were tired. As a team we had only ourselves to cheer up and stay motivated.

How to put your point across? As mentioned in above paragraph, I had difficulty in this area. I have to improve.

Discuss the failures? There were instances where we were completely lost and even though the clue was very much around, we kept running. We also broke the rule of not staying together as a team several times. In the activities, since we were to perform as a team, not everyone was upto the mark, but who is perfect??

View point
As a team at work, we usually discuss what went wrong, the sole purpose being that we could learn from our mistakes. However, this is one area, that we need to be very very careful with our words. The use of "I". "You" v/s "We", so on. Because if you don't say it right, you are left. (Left out of the group, barked out of the herd.) Pun intended.

Anyways, sometimes ignoring the blames is the best thing.

Keep calm and do your job.

Well let's not get drifted to the job world from the fun world.

To conclude, I had a lot of fun. I took selfies. Yes me. Ok, it was the scenery in the background and just me in the selfie. Boring, I know. But I took selfies. :P

I wanted to write more in detail about the entire trip but I feel tired already and am out of words. Uploading pictures now. Adios..!!!

Photography - To look at it now, I think I should have also captured the stem. 

Photography - much better. Looks awesome
P.S All the pictures are taken from my Samsung Galaxy A5 smartphone. I have done no editing to any of the pic.

Friday, October 23

My Version of Caeser Salad - The Recipe

I had been to a restaurant some time back for lunch. Somehow I forgot to get the name nor was I able to understand the cuisine it was offering. However it did have few Salad's as their main offerings. A friend suggested to try the Caeser saaad with Chicken. I went with it. It cost us around 350INR with taxes. I loved the way it was decorated and served. I was able to quickly note down the Ingredients. It had boiled chicken, I think they were fried after boiling, it really looked crisp, red and it was very soft. A lot of mayonnaise. Avacado, Olives, Bread toast, some cherry tomatoes and pepper and some other seasonings for taste.

Caesar Salad at the restaurant

Caesar salad at the restaurant

I loved the dish and so as one of my rituals, I had to try it at home. Of course, with a twist. So below is the recipe.

1) Boiled chicken.
2) Lettuce Iceberg or Avocado
3) Tomato
4) Mayonnaise
5) Curd
6) Brown bread toast

Chop lettuce into medium pieces. They taste good when you have a mouthful. Slice tomatoes, have thin pieces. Make Bread toasts, I made them on a Pan and overlooked one bread which burned. I was very excited.

Boil your chicken and then fry them on a Pan. Just add a little, very few drops of Oil for taste. Pan them until the chicken is brown.

Take a big bowl and add lettuce and tomato. Mix them. Then add Mayonnaise, 1 table spoon is more than sufficient. You don't want to add unnecessary fat to your salad. We are adding Mayonnaise for taste.

Now add a lot of curd, try to drain out the excess water from curd. Have it thick. Mix everything well. Add the Chicken to it and stir. Sprinkle pepper. I also added some red chilly sauce and soya sauce for taste. To add more flavors, I then added a Pizza Mix that I had purchased long time back. Stir everything well.

Put the mixture nicely on a plate. Decorate the dish with the pieces of Toast. I had it refrigerated for about 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy your treat..!!!

My version of Caesar Salad

My version of Caesar Salad
I'd love to read your comments.

P.S : I Posted the pic of my version of Caeser salad on whatsapp to friend and family. They loved it. One of my friend asked me what exactly the name meant. I then googled for it, was surprised and at the same time shocked that my recipe was no where close to the actual caeser salad recipe. I was angry that the Caser salad that I had consumed was a total fake. (It was not Caeser salad, but it was a good appetizer). However I would recommend that you try my recipe first because I guarantee you would love it. You can read more about Caeser salad here.

Friday, September 25

How to Have A BEAUTIFUL MIND - Edward de Bono

I read the back-cover of this book and the summary was more than enough to convince me that this would be my next read. The book is very detailed and methodically written with lots of examples. Edward de Bono very well explains the concepts. Heads-up, this book is like a text book and no fun read, however ensures that a reader is hooked to it because the topics are very well covered, with summary at the end of each chapter. Things that happen in our daily life i.e at work/at home, the discussions, the arguments, small talk etc. that we engage with people, the society, is something that we actually need to learn. The book talks about such life situations and teaches how to be proactive to be more involved and accepted.

"We spend a fortune on clothes, cosmetics, diets and work-outs - even surgery - to make our bodies more attractive. Yet we hardly consider the one thing that enhances everyone's appeal. It consts nothing, takes very little time, and without it even the most physically beautiful person will be unattractive: it is beautiful mind. No matter how stunning you are, if your mind is dull you have no hope of impressing people in any situation."

Excerpts from the book

"The Beauty of your mind shows in your conversation"

How to Agree?
- If you completely agree with other's Point of View, then there is no further conversation. If you completely are in disagreement then there will be argument. An argument is a battle between egos.
When you agree, you seem to be submitting to the other point of view - so you loose. When you disagree, you are asserting your ego and indicating that you may be superior.

- A discussion should be a genuine attempt to explore a subject rather than a battle between competing egos.

- Genuinely seek to find points of agreement in what the other person is saying.

- There is no contribution if you simply agree with everything.

- To disagree at every point is irritating and boring

- Being argumentative is not at all beautiful, there are better methods of exploring a subject.

- There is no need to be right all the time, Remove your ego from the discussion and focus instead on the subject matter.

- Make an effort to understand other person's point of view.

- Changing your perception to look at things in a different way is an important step in reaching possible agreement.

How to disagree?
- Do no disagree just to show how clever you are or to boost your ego.

- When you disagree, do so politely and gently rather then rudely and aggressively.

- Distinguish between having a different opinion and disagreeing with an opinion.

How to differ?
- Before accepting the difference, an attempt should be made to reconcile the difference.

- There are times when only one of a different set of opinions can be right, this is where "TRUTH" can be checked out.

- Difference may arise from
a) Different definition of the basis for judgement
b) Personal preference, taste of choice
c) Different set of values
d) Different point of view of perception
e) Differing personal experience or differing knowledge

How to be interesting?
- Being interesting is much more than winning an argument. Being interesting is much more than showing how clever you are.

- The first rule is to talk about what you are good at and what interest you. You will need to fashion your discourse to suit different audiences. The first is made up of those who  know nothing about the subject. The second is those who know something about the subject and want to know more.

- Unusual information is one type of interest.

- Using the "What if?" technique can open up new possibilities and new lines of thought.

- Looking out for possibilities and alternatives enriches the conversation. There is usually more than one way of doing things or looking at things.

- New ideas are rare and freshen any discussion. Seek to be creative and to generate new ideas. Learn and apply the formal technique of lateral thinking.

- Use as a formal tool the phrase : "Now that is interesting". Be ready to apply this to anything that you hear.

How to respond?
- The overall objective in any conversation might be to agree, to disagree, to agree on the difference and to have an enjoyable and interesting discussion.

- If you are in any doubt about what has been said, it is important to ask for clarification.

- Anecdotes, examples and stories add liveliness and reality to the discussion.

How to listen?
- The ability to listen and the enjoyment of listening is a key part of developing a beautiful mind.

- A good listener pays attention and seeks to get the maximum value from what is being said.

- You should take note of the words used and especially the adjectives, which indicate feelings.

- Questions are key means of interactions in any conversation or discussion. A listener should seek to ask questions.

-  With a "Shooting Question", you know  that the answer you will get is a "Yes" or a "No". A "Fishing Question" is a more open-ended.

- Questions are essential to challenge the validity and source of information that is being used to support an argument.

Parallel Thinking
- In traditional argument each side prepares a case and then seeks to defend that case and to attack the other case. Actual exploration of subject is limited.

- Parallel thinking replaces the battle of arguments with a joint exploration of the subject as all parties think "in parallel" at any moment.

- Concepts are a very important part of thinking and a key component of a beautiful mind.

- Concepts are important in generating ideas and designing ways forward. Where there is no routine available, concepts are essential.

- "You can have any color you like so long as it is black" - Henry ford to his customers. In real life it means that, "If what you want is exactly what is available, then you  can be very happy"

- Groucho Max said "I would not want to belong to any club which would accept me as a member". In real life his comment means that if what you want is by definition, impossible then you are not very likely to be happy.

- Looking for alternative is a very important activity of a beautiful mind.

- Because we have any adequate way of doing something does not mean that there might not be a much better way. If we try we can find that better way.

-To be chosen a new way of doing something must show clean benefits over the existing way.

- Emotions and feelings are very important part of thinking.

- Ultimately, choices and decisions are based on emotions and feelings.

- In a very serious discussion you may want to listen first, and ask questions, before showing your feelings.

- Values determine what we like or do not like, values determine our choices and decisions.

Sunday, September 20

How to prepare a delicious oats and egg pancake in 10 minutes

Oats are very good for health. For past couple of days my usual recipe of oats was
to cook them in water for about 3 minutes, add some spices or masala cubes and eat. However, I got a very good idea of preparing an Oats omelette the other day. I wasn't sure, how it wold turn out, but surprisingly it did look awesome and tasted very well. So here is the recipe.

1) 1 Cup of Oats
2) 1/2 finely chopped onions
3) 1/2 Chilli
4) Ginger powder for taste
5) 1 Egg, you can add more if you want more healthy
6) 1 1/2 cups of water

Take a bowl and add your oats. Mix chilli and chopped onions to it. Add an Egg and mix well. Then add some ginger powder to it. Add enough water so that oats are properly soaked. Don't make it too watery. It should be thick. Mix everything well.

Take a Pan and heat it on low flame. Add enough butter/oil to spread across the pan. If you have a non-stick pan, no need of oil. Once the Pan is heated, add your mixture to the pan and spread it across evenly. Cover the Pan and let it cook for about 3-4 minutes. Flip the Pancake now and let it cook on the other side for 3-4 minutes. Make sure it does not get burnt :)

Add mustard sauce and tomato sauce for taste. Serve hot

Thursday, September 17

The To-Do List - Mike Gayle

I have been a huge fan of To-Do list and even though I have failed several times keeping my own To-Do list, I was looking forward to this book. To-Do list help you be in track and as per my experience, how few times may be, but there is a feeling of achievement when you work through your To-Do list.

Also, I like reading about people's life experiences, so this was a perfect book for me. The author realizes on his 36th birthday, that he has to get out of the normal routine and feel a sense of adulthood, this can be achieved by doing all the tasks/To-Do's that have been delayed over time. The To-Do list has items that are not only simple but quite achievable like watching a TV series or cleaning the house etc. But something or other, forces Mike Gayle to procrastinate. But now that he has self realized, it is time to get in action. The list has about 1227 items and it is fun to read the author's journey to try to achieve those items in just 1 year.

The book is not only a good read, but what I really enjoyed was the author's journey. The time when he actually thought the idea of To-Do list was vague and the time when he actually made an attempt to try to work on the To-Do list. As usual, below are some of the excerpts from the book for my reference.

- First undeniable truth of To-Do list : Unless you are dead, there's always going to be stuff that needs doing.

- Keep the To-Do list realistic

- A To-Do list is probably like a Manifesto. A Manifesto for life, a manifesto for anyone who has ever sat down and thought to themselves, "If only I had more time I'd do this of that...", in fact it is a manifesto for People like us.

- A To-Do list is a kind of Stuff that you ought to do, but can always find a good excuse for not doing.

- You can't just race headlong into the list hoping that a bit of luck and sheer momentum will take you all the way through. You need a plan.

- Let everyone know that you are working on a To-Do list. "The reason I'm telling you lot this is to give me the inspiration and motivation to succeed, knowing full well that should I fail in my task, I will look like a complete and utter buffoon in  front of you all and will afford you the right to mock me to within an inch of my life."

- Time is what our lives are made of and yet our failure to use time properly can have disastrous effects on our happiness and sense of well being

- To Successfully get through the To-Do list and be systematic throughout your life, have a ROUTINE.

- "I make a To-Do list all the time and sometimes when I'm feeling particularly low I put things like "Take a shower" just to have the satisfaction of ticking it off. It's my kick start for the day.

- Break your To-Do list into the things that you're excited about and the things that you're not so excited about and then alternate them so there's always something to look forward to.

- The best thing is to tell every single person you know what you're doing so that you commit yourself fully to the project

- "It had been more like a tornado ripping through my relatively tranquil life and turning various objects (small cows included) upside down and ripping the roof off every thing that had a roof to rip off."

- Catch up with lost friends because you know what? They used to be great friends.

Friday, August 28

Setting height of a div inside a td to 100%

Recently came across this issue in a table based layout (old code) where there was an empty div which needed to fit to the height of the td. What would happen now is the div would take up just as much height as the content inside it.

Searching through various forums (read : stackoverflow), I could not get a sturdy solution, however it appears we need to apply the div's parent a height of 100%. However doing so also did not work in my case considering that there many levels of cascading table's and td's. So to fix the issue, what i did was gave an explicit height of 1 to the most parent td.

<td class="parent" height="1" width="100%">
   <table ....>     
      <!-- more code here-->

Monday, August 24

Curd Salaad

This time I had to try something different, then the earlier Chicken salad. Also, something very quick and easy and at the same time nutritious and tasty. I had been to the mall and bought myself "Dahi" or Curd. Actually I wanted to buy Yogurt, and thinking that Dahi is Yogurt I bought 2 packets. But it is today that I realized there is a difference between Yogurt and Curd. Anyways, Curd is healthy too. So lets get started with the recipe.

1) Chopped Cucumber
2) Chopped Tomato
3) Finely Chopped Cabbage
4) Boiled Corn
5) Dahi/Curd
6) Sugar
7) Pepper and Chaat Masala for taste

I ensured that all the ingredients are finely chopped because it becomes easier to chew and also you get a good mixture of everything in your spoon. The curd gives you a good flavor and hence good taste.

Mix all the ingredients well. Make sure you have boiled corn, it gives a very good flavor as well as color to the salad. Add 1 spoon of Sugar it gives sweetness as well as it tastes very well. Add pepper and chaat masala as per your taste. Now add a lot of Curd to the mixture, ensuring that there is no water in it. Mix well and refrigerate it for half an hour.

Enjoy your salad direct from the refrigerator, cold.

Saturday, August 22

Egg Bhurji - Good morning!!!

I've had Egg Bhurji or what we call here the "Anda Bhurji" several times but I never took time to understand the recipe. However today, I was in a mood to prepare my own breakfast, so with help of my Mother, here is a delicious recipe of Egg Bhurji.

1) 1 Finely chopped Onion
2) 1 Chopped Tomato
3) Chopped Spring Onions
4) 1 Green Chili, chopped
5) 2 Eggs
6) 1 table spoon Butter
7) Pepper and Salt for taste

Alrighty, lets get started.
Heat the Pan for some time, around a minute or so and then add Butter. You can also add oil or ghee, but I like to cook in Butter, because of the taste. After about 2 minutes when the Pan is hot and Butter melted, add chopped onions and green chili. Stir for some time. I like to cook the onions until they are light brown. Add the tomatoes and spring onion to the mixture.

My mom added a handful of chopped spring onions and I was surprised to learn that they loose the size and become kind of small. Also it depends on the taste. I like Spring onion, so adding a lot of quantity was  fine with me.

Once you have the mixture stirred very well and cooked, add the main ingredient, i.e the Eggs. So what we did was, we put the eggs just like how we prepare an omelette, and covered it with a lid. Waited for around a minute and then we started scrambling the eggs and thoroughly mixing. I did not want the overcook the eggs. After stirring for another 30 seconds, turn off the gas and lid the pan. Let it wait for some time. Serve hot with chapatis/Roti or Brown Bread.

Sunday, August 16

Chicken Salad, just like you get it at Subway - but much better and way too cheaper.

I had once eaten a Veg Subway salad and not only was it tasty but it was damn costly. Mc Donald's and Subway are some of the western brands that are here in India and however they have very good items in Menu, they are definitely not worth my pockets. I'll be frank, but the kind of quality and the customer service that they provide is by far the worst when you compare to their parent company in US. The added taxes may burn a hole in your pocket. Anyways, I can go on and on about the negativity, but today's blog post is about preparing a Subway Chicken salad at home. So let's get cooking.

A subway salad will have 1) Cucumber 2) Tomato 3) Black Olives 4) Green Olives 5) Cabbage 6) Onion 7) Capsicum 8) Different kinds of Sauce such as onion, barbecue, mayonnaise etc

What I believe is that it is the Sauce that brings in all the taste in the salad. That is it, the above ingredients as per your choice and a 5 min preparation time will get you a Subway salad, for about 180INR for Veg and about 320INR for non veg. 

I love the black olives and I always ask for some extra during the time of preparation. And here in India, since they are way to costly, I think the "chef" (I don't know what the term they use for the guy who prepares your "Sub") is instructed to quietly ignore the customer request and in worst scenario just add 2-3 olives if at all required. Sometimes the olives are missing from the bucket and you cannot do anything about it. 

Alright, back to our Salad preparation. I got the following ingredients from the mall.
1) Cucumber
2) Tomato
3) Cabbage
4) Mustard sauce
5) Mayonnaise 
6) Boneless Chicken
7) Chili (The big one, that are normally used to make bhaji)
8) Sweet Corn
9) Coriander

Boil your chicken with Ginger garlic paste for about 20 minutes until cooked. No oil required.
Cook the sweet corn in a pressure cooker for about 10-15 minutes.
Slice the Cucumber and Tomato, very thin. The salad taste good when you have a big slice of these instead of thin chopped.
Chop the green chili in medium pieces.

Separate your corn, make sure you have them nicely removed and they are in intact pieces, they should not be smashed. They taste good and also look good in the final product.

Put the corn in the vessel and mix finely chopped cabbage. Stir well with your hands. Then add the boiled chicken. I mashed the chicken pieces into small chunks, so that it mixes well with the salad. You may want to cool the chicken down to room temperature before mixing it. Then add the chopped green chili. 

At this point, I like to mix everything well and add Sauce. So add 2 table spoons of Mustard Sauce and 2 Tablespoons of Mayonnaise. I then added 1 table spoon of Green Chili sauce and Red chili sauce each. Mix them well. 

If you noticed, I haven't added onions because I don't like them raw. Also I did not get olives from the mall and I did not want to hunt down in other stores. So I skipped them.

Once done mixing, add the Sliced tomato and cucumber to the salad. I like the taste of Tomato as is, so I made sure I did not mix it well with the sauce. Once done, stir it twice or thrice and add some lime and tomato sauce for taste. Sprinkle black pepper for taste. And then add coriander. As my mother says, coriander is the king of the vegetables and to be honest, it actually gives a damn good taste plus makes your dish smell awesome. We normally add coriander in almost all the dishes that we prepare. 

That is it, your salad is ready. Enjoy!!

Let me know in your comments if you have any suggestions or any other such healthy recipes. I would definitely love to try them at home. Until then eat healthy, stay fit. Adios.

Alright for those who are interested, the above salad made at home costs me around 40 bucks (because I added about 100 gms of chicken). I got the Mustard sauce for 45INR and the Mayonnaise sauce for about 75INR I have used only 2 table spoons in the preparation and I think I can make more 5-6 servings of the salad from the remaining. I have used one medium Cucumber and 1 Tomato. It would have cost me 2INR each. Corn cost me 8INR.

So on the extreme side of calculation, It just cost me about 35INR - 40INR. See how cheap and at the same time healthy it is.

Sunday, August 9

White Space between HTML elements

Working on a dojo project recentaly, I came across series of buttons that had unnecessary white space. At first, I strongly believed that it was dojo that was causing the problem, so googled it out with dojo in the keyword. It took a little time (embarrassed) but I got to know that there are unnecessary white spaces between HTML elements that causes such issues. Amused. I had to deal with such whitespaces for images earlier but setting display property worked. However, I had never thought of the reason why such behavior exist.

Google and Stackoverflow to rescue.
1) Remove the white space from your code. So all your HTML tags start and end without any white space. This leaves with no indentation. For eg
<a>Some text</a><a>Another text</a>
See the above code, there is no literal spacing between two tags. This should work in all browsers

2) Setting the font-size to 0 also works. But it has some limitations and bugs when used with other  css properties such as @font-face and font-size in em

3) Set a negative margin in css to those elements. I personally find it weird, but this is also one of the solutions.

4) Using float property on such elements will work too. Yes it does, and this also seems a good solution.

5) Can I wrap my loose HTML tags within some div or span or ul > li (?) I wonder because I used to properly format and write semantic code, I had never encountered such issue earlier. I feel this is the best solution.

The best resource and in-detail discussion can be found at

Sunday, August 2

Winners and Losers - Creators and Causalities of the Age of the Internet - By Kieran Levis

This was my next read and very interesting one indeed. I loved to read through all the stories and it was inspiring. Stories of Amazon, WebVan, Google, Craigslist, Britannica Encyclopedia, Microsoft, Encarta Encyclopedia and many more. This book was a case study on all the companies, it very well explained how things worked and I as always, was very surprised to read about such companies and their strategies to gain a control over market. The startup world is way to awesome, challenging, exciting and has been here for a long time now.

Kieran Levis reveals how a few innovative, far-sighted entrepreneurs and companies succeeded in creating entirely new markets and dominating them, while so many others failed. He shows how Amazon and Google rose from nothing to revenues of billions, whilst IBM, Kodak and AOL suddenly faced disaster; how Nokia and Sky bounced from near-bankruptcy to global leadership; and charts the incredible rise, fall and rise again of Apple.

Particularly speaking, WebVan and Britannica were the two companies that excited me throughout the book. How WebVan started and how it failed. What was the reason. I see such companies now in the news here, and am not sure if I should relate them.

Excerpt of WebVan story from the book,

WebVan is the classic case - it paid almost no attention to why customers should use it, and who exactly they would be. Webvan's business model to work, it had to appeal to a mass market. It had to persuade enormous numbers of consumers to abandon established grocery outlets and to order their groceries online, in most cases paying a delivery charge.
However, so far as customers were concerned, what was on offer - the convenience of home delivery - was nice rather than need to have.

The big problem was demand : only for a narrow market segment of well-headed, but time poor, consumers was the convenience of avoiding a trip to the supermarket seen as a significant benefit.

Most consumers preferred to choose fresh produce themselves and look for best offer.

Comparison between webvan and amazon is striking. Jeff Bezos of Amazon starting point was his insight that an online bookstore could offer customers greater choice and convenience and lower prices that conventional bookstore.

The proposition must be exceptionally strong to persuade customers, particularly the first ones, to change long-established habits, to desert trusted supplies or to try something new. In many cases they are taking a chance with a business they do not know and therefore may not trust greatly.


Britannica, started as a encyclopedia selling a series of books. Everyone wants to have best of knowledge, true. However I was shocked to read, that the core of Britannica was not the product, but the people selling that product. The Sales team was very well trained and made sure that it would convince the customer to buy all the books, no matter how costly they were. The parents would of a young child would buy the book considering it as a long term investment. They would think and of course believe that their child would get the best of the knowledge, later realizing that  it was not a useful investment. The research had shown that, almost none of the customers who bought the books every used them and it just lay there eating dust.

Such is the capability of a Salesperson. I actually was of the opinion that the product, if good, would sell itself. To some extent, it may be true, but reading the Britannica story, I would reconsider my knowledge, and now I believe that, no matter what the product is, you need to be able to sell it. Hook or Crook. Period.

Some of the excerpts from the book below, as always.

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, & still retain the ability to function.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The crack-up

The fundamental test for any new business is the story it has to tell to customers. If it does not provide a compelling reason why they should buy, all the capabilities in the world will be of little avail.

Value proposition define a business more sharply than mission statement ever can. The most fundamental question any business needs to ask of itself are : what exactly do we have to offer to customers and why should they buy from us rather than someone else.

What it takes?
The fatal flaw of both webvan and netscape was their business model. Neither had a realistic plan for attracting enough paying customers. A business model describes how a business works, in particular how it creates value for customers and makes money for itself.

The eight essential attributes of market creators are summarized below.
1) A clear strategic vision based on a radically different way of meeting a large, previously unsatisfied customer need.
2) A set of highly distinctive capabilities - technological, marketing and logistical - tailored to the needs of market.
3) Value proposition that are so compelling that they change customer behavior and shift loyalties.
4) An entrepreneurial but disciplined organization that balances creativity with practicality, is innovative but pragmatic and creates effective teams.
5) A robust, radical business model that is not easily imitable.
6) Genuine concern for the quality and consistency of the customer experience.
7) Leadership that ensures that clear communication of strategic direction and consistent implementation.
8) Sharp focus on the chosen market.

First mover advantage?
The most hyped of the new concept during the internet boom was the first mover advantage, when being the first to enter a market was seen as synonymous with winning leadership of it. Microsoft, google were not first into their respective business. First mover advantage that is far from being a universal rule. 

Monday, July 6

Learning #0009 - Web development

Ctrl + Shift + T - Shortcut in Google chrome to open the Recently closed tab
I will have to remember such shortcuts, considering how stupid my habits are. Shucks..!!

MS SQL Server Authentication
In a application with loads of java, dojo and what not code, we were using MS SQL Server for our database. We were using weblogic as the server for deployment. I normally start the weblogic server and when I see the "RUNNING" text in my command prompt, I am happy to go browse the application. However this time it did not happen so. Puzzled and nervous that I am always, I panicked and did not know what to do. Restart of server did not help. I then checked the weblogic console and looked for deployment tabs and all the Data sources were showing failed. I then tried to log in to the MS SQL server and it did not allow me to login. I was surprised, since the database were on my local machine, the SQL Authentication should have succeeded. Google to rescue. I learned that the SQLEXPRESS service needs to be in running state. Navigated to services.msc and enabled the MS SQL Service. Crap load of time wasted.

Thursday, July 2

Learnings #0008 - Web development

Chrome - Execute JavaScript inside an iFrame
Recently I tried to console a piece of javascript in console but it returned undefined. Later realized that I was working in iFrames and the Javascript was more related to the content frame instead of the top frame. Was surprised to see that chrome has a freature in console that let's you choose which frame you want to execute your javascript command in. Pretty neat!!!

All this while it was seating next to the clear button, but never noticed. Below is the screenshot

It's important that you put the JavaScript after your HTML div container.
I forget it most of the time. Well working on an existing application, where the script is placed right above in head somewhere. In my defense, I am used to working on application where javascript is placed right at bottom just above closing body div. So issues like this never suffice. However, note to self, always think about the issue and its root cause before jumping on to Google for a solution.

document.getElementsByClassName and document.getElementsByTagName returns an array
Can literally see in the console that it returns of type array, but sometimes we just cannot get our head around it. Feel ashamed due to my limited knowledge. jQuery has made me handicap.

document.getElementsByClassName("someClass")[0].innerHTML = "Yes, I will be changed";

same with

document.getElementsByTagName("strong")[0].innerHTML = "Yes I am Bold";

Strange padding error in table
So clicking on a tr should hide and show another tr was the scenario. This was done in long time back and the way the animation was achieved was incrementing the height of the content tr using setTimeOut javascript function. The main td had padding of top, right and left 20px and the bottom padding was 0. However the td inside the main td had bottom padding so the design looked a little even.

When clicking on the title tr, the body tr should collapse and hide. Just like an accordian. And to achieve this, a height was being applied dynamically to the body tr. Since an inline css for height was being applied, somehow, the padding was applied to even the bottom. And now, since offsetHeight of the body tr was being calculated, it would calculate inclusive of the padding bottom. Strange situation and I still have no clue if my analysis are correct and justifiable. However in the interest of time, I removed any CSS applied to the main body td and applied padding to the data that was inside that main td. I know, quite a mouthful but solving this issue was quite a feat considering how dull I had been with CSS for fast so many months. After writing it down here, now I feel I have achieved something.

Friday, June 26

What is Creative State of Mind?

Excerpts from a book I was reading, loved it, so posting it here.

What is the creative state of mind?
It is, one whose interest in what is being done is wholehearted and total, like that of a young child. With this spirit, it is always open to learning what is new, to perceiving new differences and new similarities, leading to new orders and structures, rather than always tending to impose familiar orders and structures in the field of what is seen.

If one will not try anything until he is assured that he will not make a mistake in whatever he does, he will never be able to learn anything.

Creativity Now: Get Inspired, Create Ideas and Make Them Happen! - Jurgen Wolff

The book was very colorful. Also, it was about creativity and I thought why not? I have read a lot about such topics and many times have practiced some of the methods, but alas, I wanted to read it.

Creative Success Manifesto
1) Success is what you say it is.
2) Commercial Success can take a year or hundred years.
3) Fewer than 1 percent have to buy what you do. Start by finding one person who likes what you do.
4) Crazy is the first step.
5) Ready, fire, Aim.
6) If at first you don't succeed, don't try, try again.
7) Failing feels crappy.
8) The only way to fail if you stop.

- Music stimulates your creativity - Music has the power to stimulate the sluggish brain.
- A mini break clears the way for new ideas.
- Remember how to play cards, how to draw, spend time with child. Play by their rules.
- Why? What? When? Where? How? Ask a lot of questions, it's a way to be open to more possibilities.
- Create your space
- Get the right stuff. The images and items around you can stimulate your creativity. Eg plants and flowers, posters and postcards, inspirational quote cards you make yourself.
- Be a streetcomber - seek interesting stuff and you shall find it. And photograph it.
-Get physical - Movements helps the brain as well as the body.
- Loose your limited thinking - Just because you can't do it doesn't mean it can't be done.
- You are not under arrest. Overcoming the imposter syndrome unleashes your creativity.
- Making up stories warms up your brain.
- Find a mentor - You can learn to be more creative by modelling your favorite genius.
- Dare to Daydream - Daydreaming is an essential form of creativity.
- Record your night dreams - Your dreams are a great source of idea.
- Transform your inner critic - your harsh inner critic can be turned into a constructive inner guide.
- Go back to pen and paper - Reconnecting your hand and your brain stimulates creativity. Handwriting makes one's relationship to words intensely personal.
- Stuff your head with facts. To incubate great ideas, your mind needs facts to work with.
- Keep a swipe file - Adopting what works is a worthwhile creative shortcut. Swipe file should contain good ideas and examples from your field of work or interest. Go into the habit of looking for and recording everything around you that is inspirational, well designed and effective.
- Balance your brain - Balance between the hemisphere of your brain encourages calmness and creativity.
- Feed your brain - What you eat affects your brain functions, for better or worse. Try to eat egg and drink skimmed milk. Have at least 8 glasses of water every day.  Avoid chocolate bars, sugar drinks, junk food etc.
- Create a goals board - Being reminded of what you want keeps you on the right course.
- Join the league of Adventures - A spirit of adventure makes life enjoyable, creative and exciting.

- Follow the four brainstorming guidelines
a) Quantity counts - During a brainstorming session come up with as many ideas as you can.
b) No judging - During brainstorming hold off judging of ideas.
c) Write down every idea - During brainstorming make sure to write down all the ideas.
d) Don't be afraid to build on other ideas.

- Ask the Ignorant - People who don't know what they don't know sometimes know more than the people who know only what they know.
- Try the opposite - Thinking of the opposite of what's usually done may lead you to a practical solution.
- Do a future interview - Being interviewed about having reached your goal gives you clues as to how to get there.
- Force a word association - Forcing a connection between your challenge and an unrelated word yields new ideas.
-When you have a good idea, keep going. Settling for the first goal idea you have stops you from having a better one.
- Start with the end - One way to come up with good solutions is to start at the end and work your way backward.
- Asking questions is a great way to explore any problem and discover solutions.
- Have a trendstorming session - Relating the important trends of the time to your product or service leads to improvements.
- Use mind maps - Using a graphic representation allows you to explore any idea more easily.
- Free writing - Writing quickly about a topic or question reveals information that may have been hidden.
- Challenge all the assumptions
- Image someone else's solution - Imagining how a well know innovator or company would attack the problem can lead to new ideas.
- Vary the attributes - Start with the idea or object or service as it is, than vary its attributes to find a better way.
- Teach your problem - When you describe how you do a problem, you also learn how you stop doing it. For eg, you might give a lesson on how to be late, how to over eat, how to make sure you never exercise, how to procrastinate or just about anything. Once you are done, what you have to do is just opposite of what you taught yourself.
- Summon your originator alter ego - Vividly evoking a time when you were very creative makes it easier to be creative again.
- Combining two ideas or things can lead to something new.
- Learn from Nature - Nature makes a great model for new ideas.
- Randomly matching your interests with your skills can give you new ideas for how to make money.
- Fist in a different pond - Targeting a different audience for what you already do may reveal lucrative new markets.
- Re-purpose - Finding a new way to use an existing idea in a different context yields new value.
- Steal their methods - Applying the methods of successful enterprise to your own challenge leads to success.

Eliminate creative blocks - Creative blocks are obstacles you can overcome.
- Interview the block - look for the source of the problem further back.
- Make the right comparison - there will always be somebody worse than you and somebody better than you. Others will judge whether or not they like what you have done.
- Try a different medium.
- Create an action map - Creating a diagram of what you need to do focuses your creativity.
- To get, ask - When you need help implementing a project the way to get help is to ask
- Give them a taste - Sometimes to sell something, you've to give a sample.
- To sell, pre-sell - Preparing your audience helps make them receptive.
- Declare a MAD (Massive action day) - It simply means you concentrate only on a project distraction free. No email, no online chat etc. Use a pomadoro technique.
- Use the pareto principal - 20 percent of what you do gives you 80 percent of the value. Pareto principal is also known as the 80/20 rule or the principal of the Vital few.
- Keep an Ideas box - While focusing on the project at hand, have a way to capture other ideas.
- Create a layalty card - working step by step towards a reward keeps you motivated.
- Give it a personality - Whatever you create will have a personality, make sure it's one you want.
- Keep it simple - Keep your eye on the core functions of what you create.
- Ready, fine, Aim!  - If you wait until the conditions are right, you will never move forward.
- Look for the quirk - The quirks always stands out.
- Have a plan B.
- Make a not to-do list  - If what you're doing isn't moving you forward, then its holding you back.
- Embrace Procrastination - Working with, not against, procrastination can help you get things done.
- Be the staff - There's a hard-working staff ready to be employed - in your mind.
- Chunk and micro-chunk - when you find yourself avoiding tasks, breaking them up into chunks helps overcome your resistance.
- Use timepods - Focusing your activity for 45 minutes at a time increases your productivity.
- Use the Einsteins levels - Once way to get over a block is to change the level at which you consider the problem.
 - Putting it all together - Having a plan for the entire creative process improves your chance of success.

Putting it all together
- Describe your dream
- Describe what elements would make the project as good as you hope it will be
- Get specific about the features of your project
 - Narrow down the options
- Build your framework and your plan
- Do it!
- Evaluate and improve

Monday, June 22

The Perfect Murder - Peter James

A very short and interesting read. The title was very catchy and so it was my next read. I completed the book in two seating. It was not that thrilling however every page had me intrigued. I loved the book and look forward to reading more from Peter James, an author, whose works I would always be looking for in future.

The story is about a couple Victory Smiley and his wife Joan. They have been married for almost 20 years, however their marriage is reached a crises point. Victor secretly loathes Joan more and more each day and Joan is bored by Victor and all the nasty habits of Victor drives her crazy.

Victor who is a methodical person and thinks about his actions bit by bit ensuring everything is perfect at the end, now decides to get rid of Joan. The only way to get rid of Joan would be to murder her, but he has to plan everything to be out of suspicion of anybody. He researches over the internet about cyanide, insurance policy fraud etc and notes down everything.

While Victor is preparing for the Perfect Murder, he's about to get a nasty surprise. As it turns out, Victor's not the only one with Murder in mind...

Friday, June 12

Workplace - My thoughts

Recently there has been discussion at work about the kind of workplace we should have. Note that this is an open ended discussion and I just want to share my thoughts.

1) The hardware
It has to be awesome i.e very good configuration and we should have laptops for all. We should have an option for the OS as well. I love Macs.

2) Huge Monitors
May be even two. But yes, if you are giving us a computer, please let us have huge monitors. There are plenty of advantages. If you spend 10+ hours per day, then having the right monitors and the right CPU, helps us feel relaxed and and the same time keeps us focused.

3) Music
Humans like to speak and share ideas. Sometimes it so happens that on a friday afternoon, a group gathers around a desk and discuss on the online purchases they made. Totally unrelated to work. But these discussions tend to get louder which can disturb someone else. And no one would want to get up and interrupt the group to lower their voices. Because it never helps. So the best option should be provide subscription to music at work. Have a limited playlist and include relaxation music, or music for focus. These are normally the sound of birds, rain, nature etc playing in a continuous loop. If possible also provide good quality headphones.

4) Activities
If you are having a ping pong table, ensure to provide the rackets and ball. Also have Chess boards. Due to the long commute hours, most of employees normally avoid leisure time because they need to complete their work and reach home to their families on time. But for those interested, have a Indoor sports room.

5) Quality Food
Please have a very good canteen with very good food. Have pantry and provide option for tea, at least herbal/green tea, if not other. Now a days we have machines that gives you a good beverage on click of a button.

6) Encourage Bicycling
For those who wish to cycle to work, have a dedicated parking and a good washroom for them to freshen up before starting their work.

Monday, June 1

Creating symbolic/Symlink in windows 7

How to create Symbolic Links in Windows 7

But before that, what are symbolic links? I had no clue what symbolic links were until I actually I had to use them. I got to learn about it through a colleague and later with some research was able to create my own sym links.

Where I used Symbolic Links?
Was working on this java project which was located in a particular directory. I was using Sublime text 3 as my editor, however due to some reason the less compiler did not work as expected. In my defense, I did spend considerable amount of time trying to fix the issue, however then realized that it was a waste of time and so installed Netbeans IDE for PHP. It uses the lessc from nodejs to compile less files. After installing the IDE, I had to create a project, at first creating a project folder in the same source code directory would have helped, but it would create unnecessary netbeans related folder. That's when symbolic links came to rescue.

What are symbolic links?
Here's an awesome article from How to Geek which explains it very well.
So symbolic links or symlinks are advanced shortcuts. So if you create a symlink to a folder/file, it would be available on that location for edit etc. however the real location would be from where you created the symlink. So you have two paths for the same files/folders, however technically the physical locations is at just one path.

How to create symbolic links?
Lets say, your folder of choice is at location
However you want to address the folders and files from a different location say from your Documents and settings folder
C:\Users\ALPHA_ADMIN\Documents\Alpha Documents\netbeans_projectAlpha
 Let's Create a symlink
Go to your command prompt and type "mklink /?", it gives you all the helper functions available.

In our scenario, we need to create a Directory junction. So we will be using "/J" in our command.

The command would like this
mklink /J "target_path/folderName" "source_path_till_folder"

Note that, we are using quotes in the path, considering that there might be space in folder names. Also when you create a symlink in your target directory, you need to provide the folder name in addition to the target path to which you wish to create a symlink.

So the actual command would like this
mkink /J "C:\Users\ALPHA_ADMIN\Documents\Alpha Documents\netbeans_projectAlpha\projectAlpha" "C:\p4root\depot\mainFolder\projectAlpha"
 In above command, we have folder till "netbeans_projectAlpha", we have explicitly appended "projectAlpha" to the path so that the symlink is created for that folder.

After you create a symlink you get a "Junction created" message. And the folder has a shortcut icon to it.

Friday, May 29

Tomorrowland - The Movie

TomorrowLand was a good entertaining movie with special effects, visually stunning and an interesting storyline. For me it was a quality time spent and I enjoyed it. I'd give it a 3 stars out of 5. George clooney being in the star cast I was expecting some action. However since it was a Disney production, and considering that the major roles were played by younger star cast, I shouldn't complain.

I am not movie buff and hardly go to the theater. Apart from that I had never heard of this movie before nor seen its promotions. A friend and me had some time to kill and what better than movies. However since we were looking for a particular time slot and I have a strict no watching Bollywood in theater policy, we were left with limited options. When I checked IMDB, Tomorrowland had George Clooney featured on its posters and I immediately decided I was ok with it. Funny how our thoughts, decisions are shaped based on the information we perceive. In my case, so very limited information.

Read the review at