Nov 30, 2011

A creative writing workshop with Ashok Ferrey ...



About a week ago, I attended a one-day creative writing workshop organized by National Center for Arts of Maldives and Open Mind Workshops based out of Colombo. The workshop was hosted by Mr. Ashok Ferrey, one of the best English Language writers in Sri Lanka. He has three published books and is about to publish his fourth.

I was not supposed to be attending the workshop. I wasn't the least bit stoked about attending a lecture where almost everyone in the seminar hall could write circles around any tripe I could ever write.

I just went there in the morning to help out my friend Simon in arranging the whole thing. When Simon asked me to join in for a few minutes and listen to what this Ashok guy had to say, I reluctantly sat down hoping I could sneak out unnoticed when the attendees break out for morning tea. I was sleepy and I wanted to go home!

Ashok started the workshop informing us that he is old fashioned and that he would not have any slide shows or visuals up on any screens and he'd just use pen and paper. I chuckled silently at this and started mentally planning the shortest and safest route to the exit.

Half hour in to the lecture, after the introductions, Ashok started talking about and pointing out things that I didn't even know I did when I sat down to write something. Ashok had some insights about all the stages of the lengthly process of writing and he patiently dumbed it down and shared it with us. I was hooked.

He talked about professional writing techniques. How to tap in the the inner voices in our heads, how to control it and turn it on and off on demand. He told us it is a trick that every writer should try to master, and that some would master it sooner than others. I'm sure I'll be the last person to master this, if I ever do. Perhaps because listening to voices inside your head and trying to interact with them is, in my book, a good working definition for insanity. With a febrile imagination like mine, I'd definitely try this technique very carefully.

Ashok went on to explain how we should properly plan out our writing, how we should write something, bury it, and return to work on it after a few days. Ashok explained to us how we should break down our work to short manageable paragraphs, how we should try and describe people without using adjectives and how we should try to limit the commas we use in our writing because they have a tendency to slow the reader down.

I really enjoyed the workshop. After the Q&A session towards the end of the day, I stood in line to purchase his books. I picked up Colpetty People and The Good Little Ceylonese Girl, both collections of short stories. I also stood in line to get Ashok to autograph my books. It was a good day and I was one the last to leave seminar hall. I had an enlightening and fun time!

A well planned and well executed creative writing workshop can elevate your work exponentially. You can take away a lot from these kinds of workshops to help you improve your writing skills. I'd definitely recommend any of Ashok's workshop to any of my friends who wants to improve their writing. Be it journalism, magazine articles, business letters or novels.

If you think I've become slightly better at getting my point across to you in this blog, all thanks to Ashok. If not, I must have dozed off in class again. I really need to stop doing that.


PS: Ashok Ferrey is a pseudonym.

Nov 28, 2011

Ordered: KODAK PLAYSPORT Zx5 video camera ...



So it has been a few months since I've been thinking about getting myself a small video camera. Not a big HandyCam type, but the small home movie type.

I have been researching this for a bit now and it seems there are only three good options available to me for the amount of money that I want to spend. The GoPro series, the Flip Series and the Kodak Zi8. The latter has been in active development and had a few recently upgraded models available.

The GoPro was a bit expensive and was designed for extreme sports and fast action recording. Surprisingly, The Flip wasn't available anywhere and I read somewhere that the company has gone belly up. So, the only real choice for me was the Kodak models.

Kodak has a few models available right now but what I had a good look at was the KODAK PLAYSPORT Video Camera. It looked good and the specs were nice enough. FULL HD 1080p recording. HD 720p@60fps for fast action recording. Dustproof, shockproof and waterproof down to 10feet. I read a few only reviews, watched a few YouTube videos reviews and I was sold.

So last week I got on the internet and ordered myself the KODAK PLAYSPORT Video Camera Zx5. I went for the BLACK version. Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals were in full swing. I crashed the party as well and got a steep discount. Good timing I guess.

My camera has shipped and is on the way here now. Can't wait to get my hands on this and shoot some baby videos. Looks like I can do exactly that later this week.
  • Processed Through Sort Facility, November 23, 2011, 11:16 pm, ISC NEW YORK NY(USPS)
  • Arrived at Sort Facility, November 23, 2011, 11:15 pm, ISC NEW YORK NY(USPS)
  • Shipment Accepted, November 22, 2011, 8:53 pm, BROOKLYN, NY 11256
  • Electronic Shipping Info Received, November 22, 2011
Also, I guess now I need to familiarize myself with some video editing software. Come to think of it, I have never even opened up iMovie, ever. Not once.

would appreciate if you could point me in the direction for home video editing. Nothing fancy, just trimming and adding audio tracks and stuff. Thanks.


Nov 25, 2011

Sentiments about the concept of liberty ...



Seems America is waking up. This is good. Check out this poem.
In Arlington we lay to rest
our bravest and our very best.
We send our children off to war
defending what we soon ignore. 
“You’re free to worship,” so we say.
“But if you’re muslim, go away.”
Is this what they were dying for:
Intolerance, and nothing more? 
Must one be christian to obtain
the liberties that we proclaim?
These soldiers died for liberty.
They didn’t die for bigotry. 
So look upon this hallowed field,
not only crosses are revealed.
For you’ll see stars and crescents too.
They also sacrificed for you. 
In Arlington we lay to rest
our bravest and our very best.
They knew what they were dying for.
It’s something that we can’t ignore.
Words of a soldier, written by Joe G. A 27-year veteran of Strategic Air Command, United States Armed Forces.

Sad to say that sometimes, the converse it true too!


Nov 23, 2011

Contemplating Disqus comment system ...


Just a quick note to tell you that, I'm contemplating installing Disqus commenting system on this blog. It seems, Blogger is not showing up comments as it should, there are signing in problems, and I've been told by people on twitter that they have tried commenting on this blog, but the comments just disappear after submission. Well, that is not good. Not good at all!

Disqus seems like a good alternative anti lets you manage comments from multiple blogs in one central location. This is going to be a real time saver. The one killer feature Blogger lacks is the ability to reply to comments from the admin panel. Disqus lets me do this and lot more. Also, I have been hearing a lot of good things about Disqus lately, a lot of high profile people are implementing Disqus commenting system on their blogs. I take this as a good sign, I don't want to make the switch and learn that the service is going away soon.

Disqus is importing all my Blogger comments to its database as I write this post. Check out the blog, see if you like the new commenting area, leave a comment, tell me what you think.

The one caveat I have with Disqus is that, it is trying to do more than what is necessary, too many features, and the commenting area looks a lot busier than what I am used to. Distraction?

Anyway, let us see how it goes.


Nov 22, 2011

Dear Google, I'm not in Australia !!!



This started happening recently. Google thinks that I'm in Australia. redirects to instead of and this terribly annoying. I don't really know how or why this happening. But I know for a fact that I'm not in Australia. I'm in Maldives.

I tried going to and saving my settings, but that doesn't help if I quit and relaunch my browser.

Google says:
Bookmark This is an alternative web address for that always takes you to without redirecting you.
Google, you are not detecting my location correctly. Not even close. Please fix this. Thanks.


Nov 19, 2011

Camel Blue: Limited Edition Box ...



Shameful exploitative advertising or shrewd corporate schemes. Branded marketing or a nauseating advertising campaign. Whatever they are labeling this, I for one, quite like the new design Camel came up for Camel Lights Cigarette packs! I think its pretty cool!

I hear that the new designs that have hit the local stores have sparked a small controversy. Haters going to hate, but I kind of like the limited-edition pack Camel Blue they are rolling out. I think the design is visually appealing and quite hip. I like it!

I'm not promoting smoking. I am not saying its in any way a healthy choice. All I'm saying is I like what Camel have done with the box.

Anyone know why they rolled out this Limited Edition? Any special occasion we don't know about?


Nov 14, 2011

TextEdit: Here’s to the crazy ones ...



I've been on a Mac for several years now and have been using TextEdit as my "go to" word processor. Its simple, clean and quite powerful for normal day to day text editing requirements. At least for me it is.

Few weeks ago, I noticed the TextEdit icon and wondered if there was any actual readable text on the TextEdit icon. I thought it was probably some random unintelligent text made to look like a typical letter. The though has been bugging me since then but I never got around to finding it. Today, I got the chance and did some Googling. What I found was a pleasant surprise.

The Mac OS TextEdit icon contain an actual letter. Not just a letter, but a very nice poem from Apple's "Think Different" advertisement campaign. It reads:

Dear Kate, 
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. But they have no respect for status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vivify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. 
Take Care,
John Appleseed
I know John Appleseed is fictitious name akin to John Doe that Apple uses in their advertisements, but who is Kate?

Seems Apple has actually puts some good thought behind their icon designs. Cool, huh?


Nov 12, 2011

Shockwave Flash: Why won't you just die?



I used to be a true fan of Opera. However, I now use Google Chrome as my main browser. If Chrome gives me any problems, and only then, would I fire up Safari. I have come to like and depend on Chrome very much.

Recently, Chrome has been giving me some troubles. It becomes unusably slow. I have to quit the application and start all over again. This used to happen when I've been using the browser for a few hours or more. Lately, the problem has been more frequent.

I did some Googling and found out that it what you call a memory leak and Shockwave Flash plug-in is to blame. Now that I've found the culprit, its time for me to again Google how to solve this problem.

I can't just disable flash on my desktop. If I did I wouldn't be able to watch YouTube or any other flash videos on websites, right? Also, isn't flash going to die soon? Aren't we all switching to HTML5 or something? Well, at least thats what I keep hearing.

So, how do you fix this in Chrome? Some help would be appreciated.


Nov 11, 2011

The Batmobile: Which one is your favorite ???



The Batmobile. Every kid's dream car. Every man's fantasy ride. You have to admit, it is one smoking cool car!

The Batmobile is the automobile of DC Comics superhero Batman. The car has evolved along with the character from comic books to television and films. Kept in the Batcave, which it accesses through a hidden entrance, the Batmobile is a gadget-laden vehicle used by Batman in his crime-fighting activities.

The Batmobile has gone through a lot of changes over the years since I started reading Batman comics when I was kid. One after the other, The Batmobile has progressively become more tough, more high-tech, more sleek, more bad-ass and a lot more weaponized! The latest iteration of the The Batmobile, the Tumbler, looks wicked cool and completely different and unique from any other Batmobile we have ever seen, and we have seen a few over the years in comic books, cartoons, games and live action films.

Here is a picture illustrating the history of The Batmobile. Take your pick!

Everyone has their favorites, and my favorite Batmobile yet is the version Michael Keaton drove in Tim Burton's Batman movie which came out in 1989, That was one good movie and the car was pretty amazing! For me, there has never been a Batmobile to beat this one.

I know that this version looks less tough, less bad-ass, less high-tech, less military, less intimidating, less practical and maybe even less realistic than the current Tumbler Batmobile and I don't really know why I like this better than others. Maybe because it was damn sleek, darkest black and dead silent. All in all, pretty gothic looking and awesome!

What is your favorite Batmobile? Seems, everyone has one!


Nov 9, 2011

Found it !!! The answer to life's problems …



Vicks VapoRub. This medicine, this ointment, this is the stuff that cures everything. I mean everything. I shit you not!

I'm sure you've used it for something when you were a kid. I am sure it was passed down to you by your parents. I'm sure they would've told you that it worked miracles. I'm almost certain that you would've agreed.

When I was a kid, Vicks VapoRub was used to as cold medicine, cough medicine, for headaches, body pain and all other life's ailments. Whatever was wrong with us physically, the solution was always Vicks VapoRub. It was like a little magic formula. It may not cure anything, but we sure felt that it does! So, smelt it, sniffed it, rubbed it and sometimes, even ate it.

Every household had it. It was like they never ran out of Vicks VapoRub at home. And the best part is, everyone is eager to share it. There is no way someone would say no if you asked they for some Vicks VapoRub. I don't know why!

Lately, I have had to buy a few of these bottles. So I did a little bit of research on it.

I first thought that Vicks from India but turns out its actually an American Product now and its sold globally. Vicks say their VapoRub can help cure cough, nasal congestion, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, chest congestions, aches, pain, and fever. There have been only few studies done on Vicks VapoRub, but they say it actually does help.

The whole world is addicted to Vicks VapoRub and they think it works wonders. Myself included.


Nexus S: Rooted and ready to go places ... :)



Several weeks after I got my Nexus S earlier this year, a friend installed CyanogenMod 7.0 on it. I really did enjoy using CyanogenMod on my Nexus S. I thought it was faster and much more customizable. The features I used the most were the quick access controls available on the notification panel. It was much better than installing and using a power strip widget on the homescreen.

However, few weeks back, I ran in to some problems. The widgets just wouldn't load. It just started giving me "problem loading widgets" error. I was really busy at the time, and didn't have much time to figure out what was going on. So I installed Google stock Android 2.3.6. on the spot.

Since then, I've been trying to get the phone rooted. The main reason, maybe the only reason, why I wanted to root my phone was that I could install some of the apps I wanted to run. Apps like, Blogger, Twicca and some more. These were apps I use frequently and almost daily. It was a pain to get on the internet and search for APK files for those apps from some underground or warez websites. Also, even if I did install the apps, I couldn't update them and had to go online to find APKs of later version. As you can see, that gets old really fast!

After doing some research on how to get my Nexus S running Google stock Android 2.3.6, I hit this page. I'm not a real techie, but I do know how to follow instructions if they were written simple enough for a 12 year old to understand.

I had my phone rooted in a few mins.

Here are the steps if ever you want to root your nexus S. It works on all variants of Nexus S and Nexus 4g.

1) First, you will need to turn your Nexus S off. Then, power up your Nexus S by doing this: while holding down the Volume Up Button, hit the Power button until you see the bootloader menu come up.

2) Next, connect your Nexus S to your computer via a USB cable.
For Windows, you will need to install ADB drivers.
For Mac and Linux, you will not need any drivers, it should be recognized automatically.
Since I'm on a Mac, I didn't need the aforementioned ADB drivers.

3) Next, download Unzip the]is zip file and you should get a folder named “nexussrootnew”.

4) Copy over the whole nexussrootnew folder into your hard disk’s root directory such as c:\nexussrootnew for Windows and similar in Linux or Mac.

5) Open up a command prompt by typing “cmd” under Start->Search Programs and files.
Then type “cd \nexussrootnew” to browse into the directory in Windows.  For Linux and Mac, should be similar to “cd /nexussrootnew“. I opened up Terminal on my Mac.
Then type “fastboot oem unlock“.
(For Mac, replace fastboot with ./fastboot-mac and for Linux, replace fastboot with ./fastboot-linux).

6) You should see a screen asking you to “Unlock bootloader” like shown below:
Select “Yes” using Volume Up button and hit the Power Button.
(You should see that “LOCK STATE” says “UNLOCKED”, meaning your Nexus S is rooted).

7) Now, having a rooted phone means nothing if you don’t have Superuser app to make rooted apps run so let’s go do that next.
fastboot flash recovery recovery3101.img
(For Mac, replace fastboot with ./fastboot-mac and for Linux, replace fastboot with ./fastboot-linux.)
Next choose “Recovery” using Volume buttons and hit the Power button to enter recovery.

9) Next choose “Mounts and Storage” and hit the Power button.
Then choose “mount USB Storage” and hit the Power button.
This will turn your Nexus S into USB disk drive mode.  Copy over the file file from the nexussrootnew folder into your Nexus S.

10) Next, hit the Power button to get out of USB disk mode and choose “Install zip from sdcard” and hit the Power button.

11) Then choose “Choose zip from sdcard” and hit the Power Button.

12) Then choose the “” and hit the Power Button.  This will install the Superuser app and you can reboot your phone.

Once you reboot your Nexus S, you should find a “Superuser” app in the menu.

Congratulations! Your Nexus S is now rooted!

You can test our your root powers by installing root-only apps like Market Enabler or a Screenshot app.



Nov 5, 2011

iTunes Plus: lets switch it on and see ...



I may prefer using a Mac. I may love using Mac OS X. I may think Apple as a company has some good products out. Some of you may have even labeled me a Mac evangelist. Yet, they do have stuff I just don't enjoy using.

For one, I loathe iTunes!

I think iTunes is slow and bloated. And it updates with minimal changes the day Apple release any product or a product update. So, I try to stay away from iTunes as much as possible. However, thats not quite as easy if you are on a Mac.

I mainly use iTunes to play my music and catch podcasts. Even then, I have iTunes running minimized and in the background. I use the omnipresent menu bar controls to interface with iTunes and play my music. I like it that way. You never even have to see iTunes at all.

The last time I opened up iTunes, there was an link to iTunes Plus. I didn't know what it was so I clicked on it thinking it would tell me more. Well, it did, kind of. It showed me the above screen. I wish it did gave some kind of options whether I wanted it or not. It didn't, but I guess I do want my music to sound better. Here is what Apple says about iTunes Plus.
iTunes Plus is the new standard on iTunes. iTunes Plus downloads are songs and music videos available in our highest quality 256 kbps AAC audio encoding (twice the audio quality of protected music purchases), and without digital rights management (DRM). iTunes Plus music can be burned to CD as many times as you need, synced to any AAC-enabled device (such as iPod, iPhone, or Apple TV), and played on any Mac or Windows computers you own.
Apparently, iTunes is now re-downloading all my purchased songs in double the bit rate and all my music has apparently been upgraded to sound way better. I wouldn't know. Not with these cheap earbuds I use.

I used to have a good pair of Sennheiser earbuds. They were pretty awesome, until it literally started to come apart. I think now would be a good time for me to do a little bit of research and invest in a decent pair of headphones. What do you recommend?


Nov 3, 2011

Addu Convention Center: Place looks good !!!



This right here, is the brand spanking new Convention Center in Addu Atoll. Its almost complete and I hear they are just finishing up the landscaping around the building now. I also heard that they are trying to get the building somewhat Leed certified. That's a first! Good work, people!

Whatever some people are saying about it, I personally think it came out pretty good. I like it. I really do.

This convention Center is being built to host the 17th Saarc Summit. Maldives, especially Addu City and Fuvah Mulak, is gonna play host to the eight summiters from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and us Maldives!

If all goes well and according to plan, the 17th Saarc Summit is going to put South on the map and boost their local economies. From what I can gather from all the coffee table talk, their economies are doing quite well right now.

I wish our southern friends all the best. This may be the first time you are playing host to an international delegation or this calibre. Do your best and make us proud!

We do appreciate the money, effort and sleepless nights spend by you Southerners in preperation of this event. We know you have worked hard for this and we wish you good luck!

My only real concern here is that I am not sure what the City is going to do with that building after the Summit is over. I am sure Addu City will find a way to montize a facility like that and not let it get run down. I would hate to see a place like this go to waste!


I am not sure who took the above photo. I think I saw it on Twitter. If anyone knows who took that photo, shoot me an email or send me a mention on Twitter. I will see to it that s/he gets proper credit. It is a nice photo!