Saturday, August 25, 2007

How to use Web Feeds? What is RSS? What is Atom?

By now, almost every netizen knows the usage of RSS Feeds. Nevertheless, there is a multitude of users who are still ignorant of the concept of Syndication and its advantages. There is nothing arduous about it. Called Really Simple Syndication most of the times, RSS is really really simple to use. You don't have to be a technical hotshot to get wind of the feeds. So why not give it a try?

What is a Web Feed?: It is better to know the answer to this question before moving further. A web feed is, according to Wikipedia, a data format used for serving users frequently updated content. Technically, a web feed is a document (often XML-based) which contains content items with web links to longer versions. News websites and blogs are common sources for web feeds, but feeds are also used to deliver structured information ranging from weather data, search results, top ten lists of hit tunes etc. The two main web feed formats are RSS and Atom.

What is the use of a Web Feed?: Suppose that you have a large number of news sites and blogs, which you like. How often do you check them? May be daily, weekly, monthly or even more than once a day, or at your will. But many a times there won't be any new articles in those sites. Isn't it a waste of time? Yes, and that is where the concept of web feed comes into picture. Instead of visiting each website, you can subscribe to the web feed they provide. Whenever there is a new article to the website, you will be notified by the feed aggregator.

What is a Feed aggregator?: A feed aggregator, also known as feed reader or feed client, is an application which regularly checks the subscribed feeds and collects any newly posted articles. An aggregator can be a software (like latest versions of Mozilla Thunderbird, Microsoft Outlook) installed on your PC or a web application (like Google Reader and BlogLines) that can be accessed anywhere in the world. There is a large number of aggregators available. The choice is yours.

How to subscribe to a Web Feed?: To subscribe to a feed, you've to give the feed URL of the website or the blog you want to subscribe to. For this blog, it is:
http://mgharish.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default
or
http://feeds.feedburner.com/mgharish
But what about other websites? To subscribe to a feed, just look around the website for an icon similar to:

and click on that. It is as simple as that! Latest versions of browsers like Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari and have built in support for web feeds. Firefox shows the RSS logo in the navigation bar itself, whenever a feed is available for the page you are viewing.

What are RSS and Atom?: RSS and Atom are, as mentioned earlier, two of the most popular web feed formats. Both are similar, with slight differences. Both are based on eXtensible Markup Language, or the XML. But the technical details behind these are unnecessary to subscribe and enjoy feeds.

Nowadays, blogging is becoming second nature to almost every Internet user. You might be having many blogger-friends. You can save a lot of time and stay up to date by subscribing to their web feeds.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Annoying Pop-up: ilead.track.it

What can be more annoying for a blogger or a web-master than a pop-up that appears out of his web page, without him being aware of it? Nothing, probably. Recently I was experiencing the same problem. Advertisement window of ilead.track.it would pop-up occasionally in my blog, displaying some ads. I haven't put any ads purposefully on my blog so far, and hence, each time it protruded, I kept thinking that it is the result of some other web page I have opened.

Some of you might have experienced this already. A pop-up would show up with address ilead.track.it and display ads which won't facilitate the owner of the web page in any way. What is more disgusting about this irritating ad pop-up is that, it would show up only sometimes, not always and hence making it difficult to track where it originates.

Thanks to Nirmal T V, a fellow blogger, who informed me that the pop-up is caused by WebStats4U traffic tracker. I just had to remove the code pertaining to that tracker to get rid of this annoyance. Thanks to all those who had informed me about this pop-up being displayed in my blog as well.

The webstats4u website doesn't say anything about the resulting pop-up while registering and offers ad-free service for quite some time. It only unveils its true colour when your website has got significant number of visitors. It can really be a pain in the neck if you do not notice it soon. Now that I have removed it, there should be no pop ups arising from my blog.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Nokia Battery Replacement

Nokia, the largest mobile handset manufacturer, has announced that it will replace certain defective BL-5C batteries, free of cost. Some of the batteries manufactured by Matsushita Battery Industrial Co. Ltd. of Japan between December 2005 and November 2006 were affected and experienced overheating while charging, according to Nokia Product Advisory.

The models that contain BL-5C batteries are:
Nokia 1100, Nokia 1100c, Nokia 1101, Nokia 1108, Nokia 1110, Nokia 1112, Nokia 1255, Nokia 1315, Nokia 1600, Nokia 2112, Nokia 2118, Nokia 2255, Nokia 2272, Nokia 2275, Nokia 2300, Nokia 2300c, Nokia 2310, Nokia 2355, Nokia 2600, Nokia 2610, Nokia 2610b, Nokia 2626, Nokia 3100, Nokia 3105, Nokia 3120, Nokia 3125, Nokia 6030, Nokia 6085, Nokia 6086, Nokia 6108, Nokia 6175i, Nokia 6178i, Nokia 6230, Nokia 6230i, Nokia 6270, Nokia 6600, Nokia 6620, Nokia 6630, Nokia 6631, Nokia 6670, Nokia 6680, Nokia 6681, Nokia 6682, Nokia 6820, Nokia 6822, Nokia 7610, Nokia N70, Nokia N71, Nokia N72, Nokia N91, Nokia E50, Nokia E60

Approximately 100 incidents have been noticed globally and the battery malfunctioned only during charging in all the cases, Nokia claims. The company has identified that the batteries could "potentially experience over heating initiated by a short circuit while charging, causing the battery to dislodge".

So, if you have a handset of any of the above mentioned models, goto Nokia Battery Replacement page and enter your 26 digit battery identification number. If your battery is  recognized as defective, you will get a free replacement.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Secure your Computer - The Best Things in Life are Free

Lately I have been hearing a lot of complaints from my friends about virus attacks. We all know that precaution is better than cure. It is easy to protect our PC from malwares than scratch our head to get rid of them after they get in. So here are some tips which won't cost you anything, but make your PC as safe as it can be:
  1. Web Browser: Most of the malwares and adwares find their way into the PC from the Internet and if your browser application is not good enough to block the harmful contents, what good is that for? Almost all the browsers have pitfalls, but Mozilla Firefox is the most secure web browser till date.
    Download Firefox here

  2. Antivirus: A good antivirus will always keep your PC clean. But it should not eat up most of the PC resources scanning each and every wanted/unwanted files. Avast Home Edition is a simple and easy to use antivirus, that has automatic updates. Its requires a key that is obtained by registering in the site for free.
    Download Avast here

  3. Antispyware: There are many antispywares which brag about their features. Honestly, most of them are useless. SpyBot S&D is a good one, which provides immunity from known threats and registry tweaks. It also has update feature, which enables you to be insusceptible to the most recent vulnerabilities.
    Download SpyBot S&D here

  4. System Optimization Tool: Registry Cleaners, Duplicate / Unnecessary / Temporary File Managers, Internet History / Cookie Managers all fall under this category. But CCleaner and EasyCleaner are two such tools, which provide almost everything you want.
    Download CCleaner here
    Download EasyCleaner here
You can protect your PC from 99% of the attacks if you have the above mentioned softwares. There are some other tools such as Firewalls and Internet Security Suites which, I think, are unnecessary for personal use. Trust me, I've not got any virus in the last two years, apart from w32.USBWorm which can be removed manually using the steps given here. All these tools are freewares, which means you can download them from their site free of charge. The best things in life are free.

If you have anything to discuss about these or have a better solutions/tips, you are welcome to share them.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Wise to be unvoiced

In the recent past, I've quarrelled with those I shouldn't have fought with, I've remained silent with those with whom I should have spent this time with and leant towards those who were better off without getting into my life. I don't know why I have been doing all this and I don't understand even the cause of it. This is the period of metamorphosis. Being myself for two more months, just two more months, would have restrained my life under my control. I guess it is too late and enough damage has been caused to last for years.

Few days ago I happened to chat with my friend after a long time, just to tell him Friendship Day wishes. In the middle of it, when I was, as usual, discussing about these boring holidays, he said something: Enjoy the last vacation until your retirement. Don't know what made him tell that, but it certainly stirred my thoughts. Already a month is over after I have been officially declared an engineer! So what I am wasting this time for? After all, time is the most precious thing in the world, and I seem to have plenty of it!!

The real reason that made me pen down my thoughts in this post now is the quote I read in my feed reader: It is not how old you are, but how you are old quoted by Jules Renard. It made me retrospect and realize that I haven't done anything useful recently, instead, they have all been bearing poisonous fruits. Two months are over since I finished our exams and I can't find anything which I did in these two months that is worth mentioning!

I tried to find the solution for this. Am I lazy? Certainly I am. Wait, may be I am not. I do all these online stuff for almost 16-18 hours a day. Someone has rightly said, the only solution for all your problems is yourself. I found 20 biggest online time wasters and it is a really pathetic to find most of them to be the causes of my problem as well.

Well, I can follow handful of those suggestions. I would certainly be happy to see my life back on track. I'm certainly going to cut down the time I remain online. I don't want to be out of the frying pan to fall into the fire. A final word, again from Jules Renard:
Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask. Everything you want also wants you. But you have to take action to get it

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Friendship Day - A Contemplation

The first Sunday of August. Yes, today is the Friendship Day. A happy friendship day to all of you, regardless of whether you are my friend or not.

According to FriendshipDay.org,
Friendship Day celebrations take place on the first Sunday of August every year. The tradition of dedicating a day in honor of friends began in US in 1935. Gradually the festival gained popularity and today Friendship Day is celebrated in large number of countries including India. On this day people spend time with their friends and express love for them. Exchange of Friendship Day Gifts like flowers, cards and wrist bands is a popular tradition of this occasion.

Fine, but who's a friend? According to a dictionary, it means a person you know well and regard with affection and trust. Do we behave affectionately with all persons we know well? Do we trust all our so-called-friends? All of us know, we do not.

A friend in need is a friend indeed, they say. Think of all those incidents in which you have been helped by somebody. Consider the position of that person with your own, at that time. If your positions were different, then you can't consider that person to be a true friend.

As an example, assume that you help a begger. Does that mean he is your friend? Certainly not. Because your situations are not the same. You have enough fortune for yourself, that by giving a part of it to the one in need won't cause any damage for you at all.

Now consider another scenario. You and an unknown person are both very hungry, and you only have one piece of bread. What do you do at that time? You can either share it with him, or eat it yourself. If you share, you might suffer from hunger for some time. But if you don't, you surely will suffer from the guilty conscience for the rest of your life, whenever you remember that moment. So if you helped that person, does it mean that you are friends?
Not necessarily. It is your humanity that made you help that person.

Then how can we define a friend? I think we can take the help of this Sanskrit Subhashita:

पापान् निवारयति योजयते हिताय
गुह्यं निगुहति गुणान् प्रकटीकरोति ।
आपद्गतं च न जहाति ददाति काले
सन्मित्रलक्षणमिदं निगदन्ति सन्तः ॥

paapaannivaarayati yojayate hitaaya
guhyaM niguhati guNaan prakaTIkaroti |
aapadgataM cha na jahaati dadaati kaale
sanmitralakShaNamidaM nigadanti santaH ||


Meaning (taken from MadhuraMurali.org):

The Sants (noble men) say that a good friend is one who discourages (you) from sinful acts, recommends good deeds, conceals the secrets, publicises the merits, does not depart in distress and helps at the time of need

Frienship Day

It is now time to retrospect ourselves and find out whether we make good friends. If we don't, no problem. It is better late than never. Let us try to develop those qualities and get ready to celebrate the Friendship Day in a meaningful way.