In a recent submit, the CEO of a popular Indian Internet portal said that Indian Internet users don’t want content in their native language. His supporting evidence is Rediff provides email services in 11 languages, but only 1% of users use the non-english version. Indians learn English before completing higher education, he added.

His comments are not surprising. But I don’t think Rediff users’ language preference can’t be extended to all Indian Internet users. I hardly write in Tamil (my mother tongue) and I have never used Rediff’s services in non English languages. But I don’t think Rediff provides the best user experience; their UI and overall design needs lot of improvement. So Rediff users may be not using other languages for other reasons like bad interface.

India has 29 languages that are spoken by more than a million people (2001 Census).  There is definitely a need for providing Internet service in Indian languages to reach a wider user base in the country. Indic Computing is a project to provide computing resources in Indian languages. There are other technology intitatives around Indian Languages.

I was getting a weird error whenever I invovked Ruby interpreter. Like ruby script\server or ruby script\console. The error message ended with “no such file to load —”. I reinstalled Ruby, but the error came back.

I learned from a Google groups message that the error was due to AVG quarantining the file. I opened AVG Control center, selected Virus Vault, clicked Open button. The file was in the vault. I selected the file and restored it under its original location (AVG points to the file’s original location while replacing.)

Now ruby is working as expected. I hope is not really infected :)

When I was in college I was a staunch supporter of Microsoft. I admired their sheer will power to steam roll into any market and garner the market share. Such power has to be backed by intelligence, perseverance and raw power.

On the other hand, I thought that the Linux, the flagship open source community project was run by a bunch of nerds and rebels; whose prime motive is opposition to power. These people will rebel against anyone in power. I installed Linux with much difficulty and found it ungainly. I was appalled when it prompted for the destination folder when I copied a file, I had give the destination folder immediately after I chose a copy operation. Later when I became a technology writer, one of my major work was on installing and uninstalling Linux. The article was assigned to me for my hatred towards Linux.

In a way I have switched campus; not because Microsoft kidnapped me and tortured me for teaching the public the easy steps to try Linux. But because my principles and values I respect have changed. The time since I joined college has been amazing. I felt like Alice in Wonderland. Except that I was also the rabbit hole. Earlier I admired the superiority and money power wielded by Microsoft. Now I think the open source community can produce more user focused software than any commercial organization.

Open Source communities like Mozilla, Linux and Apache have a community based approach. They are not free of monetary objectives. The 50 million dollar deal between Google and Mozilla sure raises a lot of eyebrows. But such communities will not have a marketing department that is very intrusive.

On one hand you have developers who are afraid that if they do a bad job they will be fired. On the other hand open source developers have only one objective produce what they think is the best code. I have chosen a convenient position. But I firmly believe that an community based developer is free to produce their best work. A MS developer working for Ubuntu should produce better work for the latter.

Now I think breaking MS into multiple companies will help us all and prevent a major bankrupcy.

Facebook/iLike is an example of how companies can have symbiotic relationship.

I don’t think there was any objection or anyone could object to having the IE tab extension in Firefox. But it took MS years to add Google as an option for the search engine into IE. This symbolizes how commercial establishments are different from a community based software.

I do not want companies to discard their monetary objectives and start philanthropic activities. They should be willing to sacrifice their objectives for those of the users. By such sacrifices they can gain the trust of their users. What can be more rewarding?


I have been practicing Getting Things Done methodology for over a year, with some success. Looking back at the experience, I now feel more confident that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m more confident of handling multiple projects.

However, I haven’t picked up GTD as quick as I expected. After a year, I still feel that I have only scratched the surface. So I read the book again after more than year since the first time I read it. In this post, I have presented a criticism of my implementation.

Collection buckets

A collection bucket serves as the entry point, in a physical form. I can keep documents that need to be archived, magazines, receipts and even physical reminder notes in the collection. I do not have a collection bucket. The absence of a collection bucket is forcing me to making an entry into the next actions or project list hastily. One obvious solution is to have a physical tray at home and also keep a blank paper in my HPDA. Once I start using the collection bucket, I need to ensure that it is emptied regularly. Too much stuff in it is a sign of its ineffectivenesses.

When I identify an action item, I rarely consider delegation as an option. As per GTD when I identify an action, I need to ask myself “Am I the right person to complete this action?”. Since I do not delegate I do others task. I then start assuming that they are not working, lower my opinion about them; indirectly I’m promoting inefficiency. I also never consider delegating “upstream” i.e. to my managers.

After I delegate a task I follow the methodology and add an entry in the waiting for list. This gives me a reference to know that I’m waiting for person to complete an action.

Someday Lists
I was having the someday list as a dumping ground for all the projects I wanted to complete, but knew I will never have the motivation to complete any project. Two examples: joining an open source project and learning Chinese. I used to mix some achievable projects like reading a book, watching a movie within the someday list. If possible the someday list should be categorized. For example I would prefer having the lists: To Read, movies (maintained in Netflix), weekend get aways, interesting topics and people to watch.

Minimum Lists required
Any decent GTD system should have the following lists: Project List, Project Plan, Calendar, Next Actions, Waiting For and Inbox. All these lists needn’t be present in a single physical/digital location. I maintain my office project list in my office collaboration tool (Lotus Notes) and my next actions in my HPDA.

Weekly Review
An important success factor for GTD is the weekly review process. It ensures that the all “open loops” are reviewed and there are entries in the system to complete it.

The review will ensure that all projects have next action defined. After the completing the only action for a project, I may forget to add the subsequent action for the action; thereby leaving the project without any action item.

The someday list can become irrelevant quicker than others if unattended. The weekly review should include a feasibility study of all the entries in the someday list to convert the entries into a project. But I’m not sure if it is advisable to keep some projects in some day list and add entires into next actions.

It would help if a checklist can be prepared for the weekly review. Coupled with a scheduled time in the week end, the checklist will the confidence that the review has met its objectives.

Project Clarification
When I identify a new project, I make an entry in my project list and enter a few actions into my actions list. When I read GTD for the second time, I realized that brainstorming and clarifying the project is very important. In the rush to complete the project I do not spend enough time to clarify the end result and the steps to achieve the objective. It is also important to capture all our thoughts on a project in the project. Most of the times the notes may seem trivial, but I believe it is worth the effort to maintain consistency and developing a trust in our system.

Personal Mission Statement

This is not mentioned in GTD. But I find a strong coherence between Steven Covey and David Allen’s methodologies. Without getting into specifics, I find the personal mission statement as the main bridge linking the two famous productivity systems. When I have a personal mission statement, it is easier for me to make decisions. I have a base to reference myself.

Related Links:
David Allen’s Seminar
David Allen’ Webminar
Steve Palvia on focus areas
DIY Planner

In this post I shall share my experience in trying to inculcate good habits while dropping the avoidable habits.

A known thumb rule is that – when you perform an action for 21 consecutive days it becomes a habit; for an element of safety I extent that time limit to 30 days. I don’t know how this rule can be applied to weekly and monthly habits like “working out thrice a week”, “calling mom every Sunday”, etc; let me know if you have any ideas.

Obviously the first step is identifying a desirable habit. Next I need to convince myself that this is beneficial habit; because I have experienced that I give up mid way because I failed to see the benefits in it. For example, I am still struggling to become a vegetarian because I’m not convinced of its benefits.

Then I need to announce to myself that I need to cultivate this habit; by adding it to my system, it could be my HPDA or some visual reminders. Next comes the most critical period – doing the activity for 30 consecutive days. Now there could be days that I absolutely can’t do it; these are the days when I must do it. Once I completely to it for 30 days – then I can consider that I have converted a behavior to a habit.

Now I no longer need to monitor this behavior, my subconscious mind would raise an alarm every time I come close to skipping it.

I will reorient the objective of this blog to “productivity for IT workers”. Compared to other fields in IT it is difficult to measure productivity; but it is not impossible. There are a plethora of tools, techniques available to improve productivity and I constantly scour the net for productivity related content.

I don’t consider myself to be a productive person, but I’m committed to making myself more productive. Over the last year I have tried various approaches like, HPDA, time boxing, GTD, etc; and I believe that I have just started my journey.

I keep trying various approaches and tools to improve and measure my productivity. Expectantly most of them fail, but I learn something from these failed attempts; and what doesn’t suit me may suit someone else.

Sometime back I had decided to put myself into a path of self-development. I started using various methods and tools to ensure that I’m a better person every day. One of them is the Hipster PDA or HPDA. For those who are ignorant of HPDA, you can find out more from Wikipedia.

Reason for using HPDA

One of the main reasons I selected HPDA was because of its simplicity. HPDA is basically a paper version of a PDA. You have a bunch of papers tied together and jot down things in it. This simple approach provides immense flexibility and costs next to nothing. I required only the commonly available stationeries like paper, binder clip, pen and plastic folder.

Synergy with GTD

Getting Things Done is a personal productivity methodology provided in a book with the same name – by David Allen. HPDA is only a tool, it has to be used along with the GTD principles. You need not read the book to start using HPDA, but reading the book does make a difference. I recommend reading the book if you intend to use HPDA.

My summarization of the book is – no reminders should be held in the brain; anything that enters your milieu will have to be classified into one of the following: Project, Next Action, Waiting, Reference, Someday, Calendar or if it can be done under two minutes – do it immediately. By implementing GTD I can attain a state in where I’m sure which action I need to do next; and at any point of time I’m confident that there nothing missing from my radar.

My Templates
The key is to use proper templates – by effectively using them, it is possible to capture and effectively track all our daily activities. The following are the templates that I currently use in my HPDA: Next Actions, Project List, Project Page, Habit tracker, Agenda, Calendar, Someday list, Waiting List. It can be seen that these templates correspond to the list presented in GTD.

Any singular action to be completed like “get the book from library”, “book train tickets” goes into the Next Actions list. Anything involving multiple steps like “learn typing”, “complete OCA” goes into the project list. Then for each entry in the project list I have a project page – where I state the desired goal and the steps I have charted to achieve that goal. Habit Tracker is used to check if I can turn a behavior into a habit by doing it continuously for 21 days. Agenda – here I note down things I need to discuss with specific people; so that next time I accost someone I know what I need to discuss with them. The other template names should be self explanatory.

How I have been benefited
I’m just beginning to understand and effectively use HPDA, but I’m able to see the glimpses of the intended results. The most obvious benefit is the clarity of my thoughts. By thinking within a certain framework I’m able to identify my goals and plan for them. I’m doing my errands quicker than pre-HPDA times. I’m able to list my goals and track them.

Blockages to overcome

Often I put an entry in the wrong list, consider “Preparing a food chart” this should have been in the Project list, instead I put in the Next Actions list and I started procrastinating it because it looked like a huge task.

I’m struggling with my calendar. This is where I’m feeling the antiquity of HPDA. Being paper based I do not alerts an event in my calendar is due for action. I will be able to resolve this by a daily review of my calendar. And a weekly review of the HPDA.

Another area for improvement is the someday list. I’m treating as the poor cousin of project list. I need to define specific rules for entry into someday list and ensure that they get completed.

Hope this helps you to kick start your HPDA days.