Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Typing accented letters in Windows

While on Windows Operating System, the use of the following key combinations help in typing the corresponding accented letters on any application, including the browser.

Windows Alt Codes:

Capital Vowels

Lowercase Vowels

Consonants/Punctuation À ALT+0192 à ALT+0224 Ç ALT+0199 (caps) Â ALT+0194 â ALT+0226 ç ALT+0231 (lower) Ä ALT+0196 ä ALT+0228 « ALT+0171 (Left Angle Quote) È ALT+0200 è ALT+0232 » ALT+0187 (Right Angle Quote) É ALT+0201 é ALT+0233
€ ALT+0128 Ê ALT+0202 ê ALT+0234 Ë ALT+0203 ë ALT+0235 Î ALT+0206 î ALT+0238 Ï ALT+0207 ï ALT+0239 Ô ALT+0212 ô ALT+0244 Œ ALT+0140 œ ALT+0156 Ù ALT+0217 ù ALT+0249 Û ALT+0219 û ALT+0251 Ü ALT+0220 ü ALT+0252 Ÿ ALT+0159 ÿ ALT+0255

Note: The numbers have to be pressed in quick succession and using the "NUM" keypad while holding the "ALT" key. This does no work with the number keys above the regular letters on the keyboard.

A very useful Glossary courtesy: Penn State University

Many more such shortcuts found at this page.

Image courtesy:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The cycle of life - My love affair with the bicycle- Part 2


There must be a time in life of everyone where they've lost their bike. Surprisingly, it never happened to me. I don't know if it is because of the paranoid me that I am or what but I always took all precautions to safeguard my bike against theft.

Despite all this, a day came when I had graduated into studying Engineering at a college that was 20 KM away from home and I could no longer use my bicycle. Theoretically, I could have but then I was no Hercules (Good pun eh). Practically, it made more sense to use the... the dreaded.. Bangalore's Public transport. Once I started using the buses, though, it wasn't as bad. Perhaps I had gotten used to it. Time flew by and my Mom realised that I was no longer using my bicycle. Not even touching it. It was just gathering dust and was, in my Mom's words - "a criminal waste of space in the house." So, she decided to sell it off. And all this happened without my consent, when I was at college. She not only sold MY bike off but also my dad's. And what did she get for it? She got ripped off by some thugs who paid only half and to pay the rest a little later, but never did.

When I reached back home, I was shocked to realise that I've lost my love. The two bikes were no more my property. No more little scoots around the neighbourhood, no more fixing a flat tyre, no more chain grease all over my pants and no more joy-rides. That was a sad day. I still keep scolding my mother if ever she brings up the topic of bicycles.

My dream now, is to get a bike with all the bells and whistles that I always wanted. A 21 speed gear shifter, disc-brakes, alloy wheels, and the part that hurts the most (literally) - a custom made saddle for my Bum.

I've seen a lot of these on road these days but cost more than any standard 100cc motorcycle does. Phew! The prices almost make me faint. And I have no Idea how people, who have it, have it. Is it worth paying almost 30K for a bicycle? What do YOU think? oh loyal reader of my blog.

Recently, to my relief, I've seen a few Hercules' bicycle ads that are bringing bikes with all the features that I mentioned, called the "Roadeo" for under 10K. That is great, indeed. Still nothing comparable to the 1600 rupees that I paid for my Hero ranger in 1994. Well, times have changed, steel prices have sky-rocketed owing to the Olympics in China. And then there is the other major villain called "Inflation" whom our Government is portraying a picture of trying to control it but proving to be terribly lousy at it.

If there are any generous souls out there reading this obscure post of mine, a kind request to you - if you have any bike that has gears and all that jazz and you are no longer using it, please donate it to me. Don't let it go to dust.

With that, hopefully, in some months (or years), I would possess my love back. The recently held BSA cyclothon has renewed my interest in cycling and was one of the main reasons for getting my lazy ass to get up from bed and make this post early Sunday morning. So, Thank you BSA cyclothon, although you are long over and I did not participate. I would love to participate in the next year's edition. By the time which I hope to have bought a good bike.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The cycle of life - My love affair with the bicycle- Part 1

My story begins with not a bicycle but a Tricycle. Yes, the one that had three wheels. No, I'm not talking about NOW. This was the beginning of my love affair for anything with wheels.

Although my memory of those days on the trike are hazy, some incidents are vividly engraved, like the memory of I going round and round in my small compound of my middle-class home (surprisingly, in which I still live in. Surprising because I always thought I'd have to move to another place or even another city once I get a job, anyways, that topic's for another day) without a care in the world! Aaah... Miss those days.

Then came the bicycle when I was in the 1st standard. Complete with a Banana seat, a set of training wheels and painted with a dual tone of bright red and white, it stole my imagination. This was the first cycle on which I learnt to ride a two-wheeler. This was bought from Vellore and was transported all the way to Bangalore, after my holidays got over and I had to return. I very vividly remember the back alleys of this small town in which my Uncle lived until (until a few years ago) where I used to practice on this cycle with training wheels on.

Even today, it is hilarious, when I run the film in my mind, of how my uncles, aunts, grandma, mom, everyone used to run behind me when I first took of those training wheels, to prevent me from falling. To the best of my memory, ironically, I never remember falling while trying to learn but remember a lot of accidents after I had finished learning. This bicycle was probably my only "grand" birthday gift ever! Sorry, Mom & Dad, if you remember giving me anything else, but my memory fails me.

Usually, most of my gifts were from my uncle. He used to travel to Bangalore and surprise me every single time. I used to always look forward to the holidays to go visit him or keep secretly wishing for him to visit us so that I can get all the things I want. Mom & Dad were usually strict about what they bought for me. Uncle was far more lenient. And at the time, he able to afford to buy new stuff, made it even more fun for all of us.

My next Bicycle, you guessed it right, was gifted to me, again, by my uncle. This time, it was the real deal. The full-size, Black & yellow, "Hero Ranger". Although I had practiced riding my Dad's full sized cycle - the Hero classic, this one really blew my mind. I had specially requested for the brake guards, stickers, electronic horn (which some A hole, later stole), a water bottle holder. The only thing missing, in hind-sight is multiple gears, which wasn't very common at the time. Nevertheless, this became my only medium of transport around town. I never left home without it. Whether it be to school, to go out shopping, attend events, though, not many at the time, as I was just a kid, or even to the corner tuck shop very near home, I used my beloved bicycle.

Then came the time when I finished school and had graduated to PU college which was 7KM from my house. Thanks to the pathetic state of public transport, after only a couple of days of travel by buses to college, I was fed-up with it. I had to go in the opposite direction to my college in order to reach the terminus and change buses to go back to college. It was SICKENING!

Then I took the bicycle again. Very loyally, it came to my rescue. My one hour commute reduced to just 20 minutes and in the process, the obese me turned into a taller, fitter me. And then, I lost my bicycle...

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Monday, February 14, 2011

The best a (young) man can get - really!

This post is about blades. No... Not the kind who bore you with their non-stop non-sense. It is about the actual blade that you use to - well, shave. Or if you are a psychopath, to deface your ex or even to kill.
Reaching the shave-able age in liberalised India, where capitalism was thriving, had exposed me to the in-your-face ads of all the commercial, international brands that brandish their images in every aspect of one's life, as expected. Whether this is right or wrong (according to the left, right & center) is a debate in itself which I'm not going to go into.
This exposure made me and my friends to, naturally, get attracted to buying and using them. The blade companies were no exception to this trend.
We being brought up in the typical middle-class setup of emerging India, always aspire for more in terms of recognition in terms of money, fame and social circles. And we being the starry-eyed teenagers of the day, were foolish enough to believe anything the advertisers said. Like "Use our blades to shave and look like David Beckham!", for example. What crap! Yeah. Now I know.
One of the side-effects of this was for us to go buy the Gillette Mach 3 Turbo triple blade for shaving. Yeah. We were that stupid. The only respite is that all teenagers are in the mid-twenties. Now we know.
With the blade alone costing as much as 1/4th of the groceries at the time, I shaved as less as possible. Gillette, true to their claims, proved that their blades lasted 5 times as many shaves as normal ones. This meant that once bought, the blade lasted for almost a year and a half! Now, tell me what else can beat that!
[Edit 14/02/2013: Gillette Mach 5 with 5 blades was introduced last year]
So, convincing my parents to buy that razor and blade, with the ad's claim, didn't let me down. :)
Recently, after almost a couple of months of not shaving and looking like a Neanderthal, I made everyone around question my well-being. Little did they know that I had just run out of my previous blade's life and was short of cash to buy a new set. Finally, after I ascertained that I didn't have any more essential expenses, bought a new set of Gillette Mach 3 Turbo blades and boy, was it quite an impressive shave! It was like hot knife through butter when I put it's edge to the two-month old Saharan grassland that had been growing on my face. No irritation, no rough shaves, no multiple strokes. It was simply superb!
One of the few decisions as a teenager that I don't regret!
Do you have a few, too? Let me know.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ubuntu Developer Day

The branding
With the usual attitude of the IST – the Indian stretchable time, I reached the “Ubuntu Developer Day” or UDD for short, 10 minutes late, expecting the conference not to have begun. Contrary to my belief and to my surprise, the conference had already begun. It felt like there was a gun fire or something that indicated the start like in a track even in sports.

As soon as I entered the Leela Kempinski hotel on my humble “two-wheeler” Unicorn, I was promptly stopped and redirected back out of the gate as the Leela gives parking only for cars and its employees’’ two-wheelers. The small side-lane played host to all us literally poor souls’ two-wheelers, where parking space is provided by our beloved BBMP.

Once parked, I had to walk all the way back to the main gate again. After passing all my paraphernalia to the lady at the door, come to know that I had to use the other door which was behind the building and had to go through removing all my stuff off of me again for it to be X-Ray scanned. After entering the building and inquiring as to where UDD was taking place, I was redirected, again, to the previous building that I had tried to enter the first time. “WTF!” I thought.

Finally, I managed to reach the actual venue with the help from a chef of the Leela, and found a registration desk swarmed by people. It looked like I was not the only one following the IST. That was some respite. :-P

On getting my name and my employer’s name, the lady at the registration desk quickly found my ID that was already kept ready. She handed me the ID, the bright orange coloured, Ubuntu branded neck tag (which I liked very much) for it and also a copy of the agenda for the day.

I had missed the Intro by now and was walking in to the second session by Jon Melamut – The Keynote address on Ubuntu and its future, followed by various other speakers which went on for the whole day.

Talks went on about how Ubuntu promotes open source, how canonical actively pushes manufacturers to make their drivers open source, how open source helps third-world countries and a gentleman who runs pointed out that Kerala is the first state government in India that has open source usage as a state policy.

Some very good sessions followed on multi-touch and gesture recognition that is going to come in in the next versions viz. 11.04 and 11.10 and they had some neat demos of some multi-touch interfaces in the demo room.

They had also this new piece of hardware created by marvel which packs a whole load of processing power into a brick sized device called a plug computer that runs on Ubuntu which attracted the most crowd in the demo room.

The food at the Leela wasn’t to the expectations. There was a lot of variety but tasted worse than that of street vendors. Though there were a few items of our traditional cuisine that saved the day.

Tea time and there were cutesy small Samosas and chocolate chip cookies which made a couple of boring sessions bearable.

The worst part of this conference was that the organizers of such a big event had forgotten to get free Wi-Fi for the audience. I flipped open my netbook and boom – there were 4 hotspots, but on inquiring for the password found out that I had pay to use it. WTF! I thought - A reason for such a late blog about the event.

Overall a great experience, although the food could’ve been better and it lacked Wi-Fi. Organizers take note.

I don’t understand the point. The organizers spend so much on conducting an event of this scale and leave out a fairly basic feature of Wi-Fi which could’ve massively increased the visibility for the event. No internet access prevented people from live blogging/tweeting etc. which could’ve magnified the reach.

The most satisfying part of attending this event, apart from interacting with some of the twitterati and getting to know what goes on behind the scenes in ubuntu’s development, was the goodie bag. After the lunch, goodie bags were given out to every participant, again, brandished with Ubuntu’s logo. A cool looking cloth bag that contained brochures/fliers of “what, how and why Ubuntu”. An Ubuntu CD, surprisingly not the latest version. It was 10.04. Some cool Ubuntu stickers, which I asked for more and the lady at the registration desk, who initially said she had no extra, then somehow found one more just for me at the end of the day. That was cool. If you are that lady reading this blog – Thanks to you, I’m now flaunting the Ubuntu logo at insane places. A very nice looking diary, some pencils and the feedback form.