Selecting affiliates


Learnt the hard way that selection of affiliates is something that should be carefully done. Especially on the web, where not many sites have a clear business model.

Why is the business model of the affiliate important for us? Should we not choose the one that costs us less, yet has good features? The answer is no. Sooner or later the service will be forced to shut shop, and you might end up without options. Especially if there is a use of a technology which will lock you out of options apart from redeveloping your product/service.

I have been using for several years for showcasing image galleries. The site did charge pennies and provided a rich feature set including ability to integrate with your own domain. Its closed now, and all links to those photos on my blog and at other places are out of order. I also have lost pictures – though I will have them in my archive, but searching for each and putting together galleries based on topics (rather than dates) will be a very uphill task.

At least I am wiser now!


The iPad

Okay this blog has just received the distinction of having been authored using three different classes of devices – a cellphone, normal PC and an iPad. So far I love the iPad – here are some key notes (after upgrade to 4.2):

  • Much to my pleasant surprise, the indic text renders excellently on Safari. Many websites had indicated that this would not works, and though the iPhone supports indic rendering, the iPad doesn’t.
  • I was able to get 3G working using MTNL provider in India. I had to cut the SIM into the microsim size, and update the APN settings as shown in various forums.
  • It’s a pleasure to work on this magical machine. Typing is quite easy and the image for this writeup was also edited and cropped on the iPad itself.
  • GurbaniAnywhere worked fine even on iOS 4.2
  • Excellent Push mail support for both Exchange, and Gmail (in order to get Push on Gmail, it has to be setup as an Exchange email rather than as Gmail)

However as with anything, there are caveats:

  • Haven’t jail broken this yet, but will most certainly have to if I intend to unlock full use of this gadget. For example, even though Bluetooth is supported, I cannot use it for transferring files from my mobile to the iPad. I can only use it, for examle, to attach a keyboard. The filesystem is protected and there is no way to organize media into folders.
  • I wish the autocapitalization feature would be a bit smarter. My Nokia N97 is much better in this regard.

Other than that this is a very useful and portable gadget. I find it all the more useful since I have a Nokia phone – it might not have been such a useful complement to the iPhone.


Of dreams and clouds


Of Dreams I dreamed last night of having received a new kind of laptop. One that looks like a harmonium (see photo)! The front panel (the one which is pushed to play the harmonium) extends upwards to double as a screen for the laptop! The USP of the entire thing was that the laptop could play melodies using the built-in harmonium – all you had to do was to program the melody.



Of Clouds On one of the shows that I watched, I had the host asking how long it would be before an average Fortune 500 or 1000 company would be using the Cloud computing.

My guess is 5 years, no sooner. Yes, it provides cost savings but its not easy for companies to get rid of old hardware.


The Ballad of Father Gilligan

Another beautiful poem that I recall from my school days is the Ballad of Father Gilligan, especially the last stanza:


The old priest Peter Gilligan
Was weary night and day;
For half his flock were in their beds,
Or under green sods lay.

Once, while he nodded on a chair,
At the moth-hour of eve,
Another poor man sent for him,
And he began to grieve.

‘I have no rest, nor joy, nor peace,
For people die and die’;
And after cried he, ‘God forgive!
My body spake, not I!’

He knelt, and leaning on the chair
He prayed and fell asleep;
And the moth-hour went from the fields,
And stars began to peep.

They slowly into millions grew,
And leaves shook in the wind;
And God covered the world with shade,
And whispered to mankind.

Upon the time of sparrow-chirp
When the moths came once more.
The old priest Peter Gilligan
Stood upright on the floor.

‘Mavrone, mavrone! the man has died
While I slept on the chair’;
He roused his horse out of its sleep,
And rode with little care.

He rode now as he never rode,
By rocky lane and fen;
The sick man’s wife opened the door:
‘Father! you come again!’

‘And is the poor man dead?’ he cried.
‘He died an hour ago.’
The old priest Peter Gilligan
In grief swayed to and fro.

‘When you were gone, he turned and died
As merry as a bird.’
The old priest Peter Gilligan
He knelt him at that word.

‘He Who hath made the night of stars
For souls who tire and bleed,
Sent one of His great angels down
To help me in my need.

‘He Who is wrapped in purple robes,
With planets in His care,
Had pity on the least of things
Asleep upon a chair.’

This is by WB Keats. I personally do not believe in something that is visibly a miracle. God does not reveal Himself, in my opinion. Still this is an interesting way to say that He helps His followers.


Wrenched back a hacked email account: and lesson learnt

Email Gone
Email Gone

I always advised people to enter random text in response to lost password questions – and keep the password written somewhere safe so you never forget. This incident changed my view point. Read on…

This incident happened to a friend of mine a couple of days back. He woke up one morning to find himself unable to log on to his account. Yahoo! had temporarily locked down the account, and people on his address book had received an email showing him to be in trouble, without any money and seeking money. He was unable to contact some people, and inform them that he was fine: the email address book was also inaccessible.

I told him to be patient and wait for Yahoo to unlock the account. It was apparent that someone had brute forced his password and was seeking money. This is more difficult to do with Gmail because of their ‘captcha‘, however is possible with Yahoo. His password was a non-English word.

Around 12 hours later, the account was unlocked and we tried to reset the password. The hacker had added his one email ID as the alternate ID, but luckily Yahoo allowed us to the reset questions (we selected ‘my account is compromised’, and ‘I am unable to access any of the passwords’). Initially we felt that the hacker would have changed those as well and didn’t try to respond. However a moment later I noticed that Yahoo was showing ‘June 09’ as the last modified date of these questions: so the hacker had not changed them! With some trial and error, my friend was able to correctly respond to those questions and the account unlocked! I went back and removed the hacker’s alternate account: this was important, else the hacker could still unlock the account if this was left unchanged.

Lessons learnt? As below:

  • Use a strong password, having a mix of letters, numbers and special characters – this one was clearly brute forced which is the easiest way to hack an account other than by social engineering (which is tough if you don’t know the person whose account you are targeting). If you have a tough time coping with passwords, use password safe.
  • The reset questions: answer them randomly so that someone who knows you, and happens to be able to guess the real answers can’t hack your password. However, keep backup of those random responses in a computer file so that YOU are able to answer them if something goes wrong. For example, many people know where you went for honeymoon or your mother’s maiden name. So respond using ‘monkey typing’ and save a copy.
  • Use updated alternate email IDs / set up to use mobile SMS as backup.
  • Maintain an offline backup of your address book. Most providers allow this
  • If you want you can go a step ahead and hide your real ID, as shown here – when submitting your email ID to unscrupulous websites and blogs/boards etc.