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Sunday, 1 March 2015

OMG, my Blog is a genius ! ;)

On 27th February, my blog had 203 visitors.

I frequently look at the stats of my blog and this stat seemed singular to me. So I decided to apply my mind a little to see what was it that could have generated so much interest on a particular day. I dwelt on my blogging style, the content and external factors like a new domain name, a new product etc. Here is what I discovered.

My blogging style

Somehow, I had adopted a practice not to ever blog on my personal life or write in a certain style that I use while writing an article or in a casual form.

I had maintained this blogging practice for over 7 years of blogging but since last year, I have noticed, on hindsight, that I have used that 'funny', descriptive tone in a few posts and not the bland, descriptive style that I use for technical/technological posts. I attribute this 'change' to either my recovering my health for over two years and due to which I have more myself as company or to working on my own and by myself.

The reason I mention this is so that I could share another fact that could not have been shared without this preamble.

The content

The reason I also want to mention this in such a tone is not to brag about it but because during this period, I had added a widget for my Calendar Pane app for Excel 365 without checking its size !

And I had 203 visitors to the blog to see such a great event, when without the over-sized (full size) image, the number would be in mid-20s !

It is remarkable that so many become so interested to make note of a 'deviation' than if the blog were in a perfect condition. It is quite likely that the 'sick' state of the blog was 'symbolically' represented to such visitors as a human being with an ailment, who people visited out of care and concern ! 

It is no co-incidence but a serious fact that if addressed correctly can solve a lot of 'humane' problems that face us all in our daily lives.

Of course there is another reason why I found it necessary to share this fact, aside from the preamble that it afforded me, it also helped me draw a parallel to how my products have fared.

I have had more than one career (much like how many mention that they have had more than three wives and are in the process for more !) - one, as a software programmer, two, as a technical trainer, three, as a mentor/coach/evangelist in Agile and of late, as a consequence of my stint at recovering from the injury to my shoulder and arm, as a freelance software consultant and as a product specialist.

It is as the product developer that I am more concerned with, which because of not making me money, puts me in a different light, probably a spot (pun unintended)!

The fact is, I started developing products way back in 1994 under the label of GREYcells and although it found mention in PCQuest and in the form of a press release, it never made any money. The possible reasons were not sufficient financial backing nor the required marketing thrust or help.

Then recently, I developed a few Android apps and put it on the Google Play Store.

Again, I was under duress but this time, due to the injury. Again, as previously, I turned to jobs (!) as a means to earn money and now, for the third time, as I hit the market, with a product for the Microsoft Online Store, I find that I have not got the response that I was looking for although, a lot better than what the predecessors got, I find a rather simple phenomenon (of course, there are humans involved, too.

External factors

For instance, if a certain practice (angry retaliation or spite would be more appropriate) is adopted in a city or town or village, where every mistake committed by a government or an official or a superior, is replicated as another mistake of the same kind, elsewhere, to not only serve as a reminder but as also a form of revenge in a fit of jealousy then people in the 'replicated' city or village would not know it is a vengeful act but only as it was in the other context, a mistake or incompetence) that explains why many problems, social and political, seem the same within the same country or region.

The problems are not because of laws or regulations but because of people and their attitude.

And it is here that the parallel that I wished to draw with the 203 visitors visiting my blog to see a ill-placed image, when the blog had been doing well for more than 7 years !

Some people associate themselves in a certain way to life and so expose themselves to be manipulated in a certain way (like Greenpeace in India) that they become a 'representation' of a certain stereotype, of a 'curse' even, and who, due to years of doing the same things, and without having the 'varied' windows of different careers or different talent as a 'contrast', don't even get to know how they have become a 'curse' !

In India, many would know it from historical reference, where caste-ism used to expose such people; it is known as discrimination in today's world.

Incidentally, it was around the same dates that I suffered the brain hemorrhage that caused injury to my right shoulder and arm and around the same date/month, that another member of my family had a similar but more fatal injury. 

I must be more careful around the month of February because it seems during this month, as astrologers put it in India, 'Shani' hovers over me, in the form of  some factors that make people confused between 'something wrong' with a thing (a blog) - it was the Television that blew up smoke ('phook gaya' is also used in the context of the brain and the car, when I got injured - and 'something wrong' with a person ! :D 

Does it mean that around this month 

(and why only February? Maybe the person visits India or near my house or known to me? Or some psycho who knows me more than I do), 

somebody takes special interest in me and says, "Ok so tell me what is he doing nowadays?" or "how is he?"

Be what may, many 'prejudices', 'religious misgivings' (for example, "Lord Siva is calling you" !)) is likely to get solved by simply co-relating Google Search (SEO) or web marketing/network and human networks and word-of-mouth gossip or vendetta mercenaries. ;)

Friday, 13 February 2015

Calendar Pane for Excel 2013

Some good news !

My first Office App - "Calendar Pane", for Excel 2013 will soon be available at the Windows Store.

Keep out an eye for it. In the meanwhile, if you want to preview it for a limited period, free of cost, email me - ravjv2013 at gmail dot com

 Calendar Pane

 Calendar Pane

 Calendar Pane

The cost, $9.99, is per user for 10 users.

If your organization has more than 10 users, say 1000, the cost still remains the same as for 10 users.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Testing my Office App for Excel

If you are interested in testing this simple task pane for Excel 365 (Excel 2013), please drop an email to : ravjv2013 at gmail dot com for instructions on how to use. 

Please do not use anonymous/bogus Ids.

The input cell can be formatted to any format as it is basically pre-formatted as a Date cell.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

A note - Authenticating user credentials to a Sharepoint Online Web resource

When using the ClientContext class, add the Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.Runtime dll otherwise many members inherited from the ClientContextRuntime class will throw compile time errors.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Apps for Office 365 - Calendar Pane for Excel

My previous post on Office 365 and Sharepoint Online was meant for any user with a SharePoint Online account.

This post, however, is strictly for the developers. So, let me re-run the Sharing your Developer site for external users well before so that at the time of publishing your App for Office 365, you do not get any error.

After creating your Developer Site in your Sites Collection (Please refer to the previous post for help in creating one), click on the newly created Developer site (after it has been provisioned, of course) and check the Let External people access...check box so that your new site that you will use to develop Apps for Office 365 so that the apps can be shared with a public link.

Alright, now for the basic requisites. You need Napa or Visual Studio with Office 365 API installed in your computer. The former is like a dream come true. All you need to do is browse to your newly created Developer Site and click Build an App 

and you are ready to program for Office 365 from your browser !!

'Napa' on Cloud is the coolest feature of Sharepoint Online!

Once you have decided to build an Office 365 app, that is clicked on Build an app, a new page will urge you to Add new project to the Napa cloud.

The next step is to select the app type and give it a name for your Office 365 app to be created on the cloud !

Let me show you a Task Pane app for Excel that I created.

When I used to work on employee data that had date columns that had to be individually typed, I sometimes used to embed the Calendar object to refer to for the dates. But to be able to input date directly? That required VBA Macros and Macros that made the screen flicker and the Sheet sometimes refresh could be annoying and was obviously not the best solution.

So, as soon as I saw the Task Pane template, I got excited.

Yes, this is what is needed - simpler than an Add-In, more reliable than a Macro and more efficient to distribute across the organization via Sharepoint !!

Below is a Task Pane for Excel that allows you to input date from a calendar !

All you now need is to select the date from the calendar and set the date to the Excel cell!!

Try the Calendar Pane for Excel -> Click here.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Working with Sharepoint 365 - share a document

Working with Sharepoint online and collaborating with Site Collections can be tricky if you have not administered Sharepoint Server previously.

Let me just give you a quick jump start on how to collaborate your Office Documents with external users

Go to the Admin page of your Office 365 Online ( - it will read Office 365 Admin Center. 

Expand the Admin link, right at the bottom of the left menu bar, and click "Sharepoint". This will land you on the Sharepoint Admin Center.

Click the Apps option on the left menu bar (as shown, circled, in below figure).

Select the Site Collection from the list on the right of the Admin page (list is the square box).

If you have not yet created a site collection, click the New button above the square box and create a new site collection.

Select the appropriate template from the tabs.

Set the time zone, an administrator and the storage size (above 110 MB) and click Ok.

Wait for a few seconds for the new site collection to get created and appear in the list as a hyperlink with a New callout.

Once the new site collection is created, browse to the url (copy/paste the link, if you can think of nothing else, on to a new browser window/tab).

Click the Site Contents link and in the subsequent, landing page, click Add an app...

In Apps to add, select Document Library, give your document library a name and click Create.

Your new document library will appear on the right. Click it to navigate it to the library. 

Click the Distribute apps for Office box and upload any office document from your computer to this new document library.

Obviously, you have uploaded this document to share and collaborate with your team or colleagues or management plus you may also want to access it from home for which you may not have access to the company's Private Site Collection (unless it is a public site), so how to share it?

By default, in Sharepoint Online, the Everybody user group means everybody in the authenticated users of the Sharepoint site except external users.

To overcome this restriction, you can give access to your site itself (Of course, you may need to be careful with the contents that you do not want to share.).

A Sharepoint site is quite simply part of a site collection that has a name. 

Browse to your sharepoint url - with a /sites/ and the site name and click Share your site and enter the email id.

Now, your site has been shared via email to an external user but what about the document?

One last step. Add a hyperlink on the page. That is it. When the Share link is emailed to the recipient, the recipient can be instructed to click the hyperlink to view/edit the Powerpoint/Excel/Access/Word document.

And voila!

There is another disarmingly simple way to share through the Office 365 Admin Center's External Sharing menu option but that is for the techno-savvy Sharepoint administrators. For the normal user, the above steps serve better.

Monday, 26 January 2015

The Common Man Rests In Peace

Some of the most inspiring figures in history have been fictitious characters - The Common Man of R K Laxman, is one such character.

He does not speak ever, is a mute spectator to all the evils, perils and hurdles in his life, impervious to suffering, a keen observant and has a supremely resilient tolerance towards his own predicament.

Somehow, the dignity that this caricature of the Indian common man, a descendant of a particular type of Indian, saved the Indian politician from quite a few whiplashes (certainly not blushes) from the elite due to the 'sophisticated' feel of a 'witty' window that R K Laxman provided of the plight of the poor to many elite Indians,

It is well-known that art, music and musicians, theater and artistes, too, have served as arms of governance and kingdoms and often reflect, in hindsight, the quality, nature and concern towards the populace and R K Laxman served as one such artiste - an artiste that chanced to be 'available' for a certain segment of Indians to serve a certain purpose in the most opportune way - to execute a certain 'technique' that probably later became misconstrued into an 'ideology'.

The Common Man, in the caricature version of the great R K Laxman, characterized and epitomized the suffering of the people of India in a manner that endeared the 'poor' in the eyes of the rich and painted or rather, 'sketched', 'poverty' to the elite in such a way that it did not leave the successful in life to feel any animosity towards either the government or those, who were not as successful or rich as themselves.

Maybe, the Congress Party of today can take a hint here and mend its ways ('ideology' is a laughable term, really) that the 'poor' are not some cartoon caricatures to give support to (with 'gareebi ki ladaai hamaari ladai' - 'the fight of the poor is our fight' etc slogans) but humans, who really need help due to years of exploitation and a 'happy-go-lucky' India Inc that 'felt good' in the delightful 'Common Man' and the naivete with which he looked around him that assured them that it was not their fault if they were richer, unless the Congress Party still fools itself with 'tradition', 'dignity', 'honor' etc.

As in the below cartoon, one of many that featured in the front page of Times of India for over 5 decades. 

The Common Man, as depicted by R K Laxman, was not a dumb, ill-educated nincompoop but an educated person (the spectacles in India is usually indicative that a person is well-read or at least, educated), who, somehow, cannot find the words to express himself at the plight of his fellow citizens.

He is not a 'puzzled', 'bewildered' man either, as many commonly describe him. The places that he finds himself in, as an onlooker, or a passer-by or simply accompanying some official puts him in a different perspective than just a 'bystander'.

What could have been the last cartoon of R K Laxman. All he had to do was change the '50' years to '66' and the message would still be original.
It is a legacy left behind by a simple genius that India will treasure and be guided by, forever.

The works of R K Laxman with the Common Man as his chief protagonist, is an eloquence in simplicity that thousands of words could not convey, a powerful dialogue, where the 'hero' is always a silent spectator, the silence that conveyed, with a few sketches, years of governance and a dispassionate but witty commentary on public welfare.

The Common Man, alas, remains unnumbered yet alone, helpless but content, concerned but unmoved, poor yet happy, sad but never weeping, unsuccessful yet accomplished

and now, with the passing away of his creator, remains betrayed yet loyal
by and to a great cartoonist - R K Laxman.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

The Leap Second - 1 Second or 1000 milliseconds?

Given that Rs. 144.00 is charged of a mobile customer in a day, for usage of talk-time minutes, every mobile provider can lose Rs 60,000.00 for every lakh of customers but the other way of looking at it, is the 'half-empty or half-full' theory - every customer is likely to pay 1/6th of a paisa for a second not earned!

So, how does one look at the extra 'leap second' in 2015? If I charge $ 0.33 per minute for my work, does that mean that I can charge $ 0.33/60 extra on that one day when the leap second will be adjusted? Of course, it may seem too much ado about nothing when applied in an individual context but when stock indexes work on such minute deltas as margins to work on, the resultant 'gaps' can be a busy, merry dollars that may leap around during that one second!

Do economies include the full second and adjust it as 23:59:60 or should countries go Google's way of spreading the second across the full day? The latter may just not be productive for services dependent on time but at the same time, will governments look at regulations over the second? Because, after all, the government is not going to increase wages for the extra second nor will workers work the extra second.

So, what exactly is the extra second's worth?

This is where the 'half-empty or half-full' theory comes into play.

Is it like a gift to all the mobile providers to make that extra buck if they manage to squeeze out the extra second of talk-time or internet usage from the customer's pocket? Because it is not necessary that every customer talks during that extra second as it is not necessary that the providers should or can ignore the possibility of ignoring the eventuality.

But what about the overall cost of implementing the adjustment into algorithms or web applications that calculate the user's talk-time? Will it be worth the while for the service providers to invest into accommodating the change in time for one second?

Databases will have to adjust the time stamp so as not to 'trip' over the extra second and cause either dirty data or loss of integrity in data. Will the easier way be to stop all data operations for that extra second?

More importantly, what is the need to accommodate the extra time? Does it make business sense to do so?

It is not like Y2K, where the adjustment affected a whole year or at times, a whole many number of years so investing into the algorithms made immense sense! And, even if operating system manufacturers oblige by providing a Leap Second update for all their installations across the world, application logic may not find it all that simple to sync with the computer clock of different time zones so easily because it must also have to conform to any audit controls of a region without which there may be violations of money laundering on a mass scale.

The 'Leap Second' will be a huge test of maturity in governance for countries and in management sense for organizations to know how to ensure audit controls are in place to be able to track any money laundering done during the period.

For the technical side of it, it may be noteworthy only for database vendors and time-critical applications to take care of the second.

Will the web servers and the Cloud follow any convention especially when many servers are physically located in different locations that obviously will have their own anti-money laundering laws?

It will be interesting to know how governments respond to the extra second in 2015. 

Sunday, 4 January 2015

A new year wish

I wish Clint Eastwood could see this and call me to make a film or be his scriptwriter. :)

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Yo, l'il Marie!

Yo, l'il Marie!
See, if you don't talk to me,
that dirt truck gonna come mash me
and then you will see what you don't wanna see.

There will be no Rocky Balboa,
and in your eyes no glow
to say, " ****** creepo!"
so talk to me, even if only to say, "Oh!"

Yo, l'il Marie!
Don't talk to me,
if you wanna see the dirt truck mash me
and if you wanna see what you don't wanna see.

It is important to hit
harder than you get hit.
Bother not a bit
if your life is not so well lit.

Yo, l'il Marie!
There doth come a fairy,
when your mind is airy
and dreams coax you to marry.

These streets that you fanned,
with curls and frills unmanned,
and a future unplanned,
need your steps be more manned.

Yo l'il Marie!
believe you me
your fears will flee
and you will be less lonely.

Yo, l'il Marie!
Don't you see?
all that you see
is all that you see.