Monday, November 2, 2015

How to get rid of Facebook addiction

Before you get started on reading and implementing what's mentioned in this blog, I want you to know a couple of things:

1. This blog is NOT for
a. People who blame social media for everything wrong in their life. (It is a distracting vehicle, but its steering is always in your hand!)
b. People looking for instructions to deactivate / delete their Facebook account

2. You should read this blog BECAUSE
a. You realize the effect of Facebook addiction on yourself and seriously want to do something about it.
b. You are worried / annoyed / upset of their friend's / partner's constant habit of checking Facebook and want to help them out (subject to other person's own approval, of course!) .

First of all, you should not deactivate your Facebook account. Why I say so?

Consider below scenario:

You and say, person X, met in the first class of your Engineering degree and you have been best friends all through 4 years. Now your graduation has ended and both are headed to different companies and in different cities. When you have been close with someone for so long, it becomes hard to separate; you become emotionally attached, the bond is too strong to simply cut it off. But such is life!

You have to move away, and you have no control over it. In this scenario, would you be able to stay away from person X completely for the rest of your life?

Obviously, no! Facebook really helps when you need to stay in touch with your relatives and friends staying far away.

You can share your life with friends, can RSVP to events, get updates from your favorite TV / movie / sports star. You can interact in your online groups without the need to meet everyone physically.

There are other good uses of Facebook that I have observed. For example, you can also receive critical updates on days when your city's transportation system breaks down or there are other types of public service disruptions in your city. My friend Roma Kalani provides regular updates in case of Mumbai local train disruptions (mostly due to rains) on her Facebook page. Benefits of Facebook on one side it also sucks you in deep, especially if you don't know how to use it.

If you have never thought about a structured way of using social media, you will get lost in the world of likes / comments / shares / selfies so bad, that you will start to lose your focus in your daily life.

Get rid of your Facebook addiction

Facebook is a place where people share happy memories, and when one after the other these memories get plastered in front of your eyes on a daily basis, no matter how good the people felt while clicking them, a small bit of it all will create a dent in your mind. 

Effects of Facebook addiction
Facebook addiction can drain you emotionally
 It creates such a rush of feelings, that once you leave Facebook and go back to your real life, there is a big drop in your energy levels and since you get busy in doing your daily tasks, you don't get time to reflect on what is it that you're feeling; the lingering effect simply pummels your life energy.

So it is important to get in control of your addiction, and there are other effective solutions besides deleting / deactivating your Facebook account.

Let me show you how I approached my Facebook addiction problem:

Step 1: Realizing that comments are more important than likes

About a year and a half ago, I began feeling sucked into the virtual life inside the Facebook app. Reality didn't matter to me, and I was already losing focus. My mood would swing from happy to cheerful to sad within moments and my work-life balance started to get affected because of it.

Effects of Facebook addiction
Too much of Facebook can take you far away from realities of your life
As I drilled down further, I found the main cause of distraction was notifications in the Facebook app. Initially when I joined the platform, I never got good number of likes. When I started getting them, I realized how irrelevant they are. 

Sure, I like someone's photo I admire the person for a moment, but pretty soon another post catches my attention and once I close the app, all those people are gone out of my head. That's how Facebook likes work; very rarely you will find a post worthy enough to comment on.

So the first step of my realization was likes are not important, comments are :)

Step 2: Uninstalling the Facebook app from your phone

Facebook's default notification settings are very aggressive. If you comment "congrats" on someone's post about promotion or marriage, you will keep receiving notifications about everyone else commenting THE EXACT SAME THING on that photo, over and over again. 

Worst part is - YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW THESE PEOPLE! You have to actually go and "Unfollow" the post to make it stop! It's what I call as "action overhead".

Oh, and don't get me started on those pesky Candy Crush requests!

Finally, fed up of my phone beeping every second minute, I took the big step of uninstalling the Facebook app from my phone. This turned to be the key step in controlling my Facebook addiction. I will soon explain why.

Step 3: Train your mind to keep off Facebook

Now, in case you may not know, Facebook has both - a mobile web version as well as a touch-device specific version of its website. So whenever you feel the urge to check Facebook, you can log on to - or to access the virtual world; both of them have almost the same level of functionality as the app. In fact, you may not even notice the difference in the early days.

Since you are adding more steps (open browser -> open new tab -> type address -> press "Go") for your brain to follow to access the website, you are delaying usually quick gratification source; you ARE now training your brain to consider Facebook a slow gratification source.

Moreover, since your access time for Facebook is now dependent on your network speeds, you are tightening the leash on your mind whenever you move into a slow network area.

   Step 4: Unfollow overly emotional and junk pages

Unfollowing overtly-emotional pages / accounts can also go on a long way. Some pages post overly emotional messages, they stop making any sense after a while; they're a figment of someone's imagination, which is exaggerated to a level you may never relate to.

Besides, a lot of pages / people share jokes for a certain target audience. If you feel you cannot identify with the kind of content the person / page has been sharing, UNFOLLOW THEM RIGHT NOW. It does nothing but negatively stimulates your mind and further pushes you deep into an emotionally draining virtual hole!

My rule of thumb is that if the pages share something that makes sense and / or could be useful to me in the long run, I'll keep them, but the day a page crosses my emotional threshold, I won't think twice before clicking the unlike button! To prevent pages from appearing in your feed by way of your friends' like, you can also "hide" the page; just tap the top-right arrow and select "Hide all" option.

It might also help you in checking the content and usefulness of a page BEFORE liking the page; prevention is better than cure, after all! :)

So, there you go, this was my 4-step plan to get hold of your Facebook addiction.

If you follow these steps sincerely, you will soon gain control of your Facebook surfing habit and will stop getting sucked into it. You will soon begin to check Facebook (website) only in your free time and will (hopefully) one day realize that Facebook isn't even that important!

Personally speaking, I began to feel much more focused, less irritated, more grounded and aware of my own reality and I stopped living the life of other people (or in some cases, even envying them for having it).

How do you feel about Facebook addiction? Have you tried tackling the social media demon? If so, do share it below in the comments and tell us how it worked out for you.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Google: All About Accelerated Mobile Pages

We live in a world driven by information. Perhaps then, it is natural for many of us to start their day by reading headlines over the web. With visitors are already impatient and burdened due to daily stress, no media publisher wants a slow mobile website that will drive the visitors away; the domino effect threatens their ad revenues!

Google has launched a new mobile-web publishing service called Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). It partners with multiple media outlets to bring out their content on mobile-web.

Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages program will load pages in instants, not seconds
Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages program will load pages in instants, not seconds

Origin of the Problem

Media publishers can deliver content in three major forms: desktop website, mobile website, and their own native apps.

Each of these account for certain share of traffic for each individual publisher.Desktop consumption is fairly less in comparison to the other two. Moreover on desktop, wired or home Wi-Fi networks don’t pose a big speed issue. While native apps are in control of publishers, mobile web is an altogether different animal.

The What of AMP

The problem occurs when mobile websites slow down - especially when the visitors move into low network areas. Accelerated Mobile Pages enables stories to load several times faster – less than a second in most cases; It also enables display of ads in a way that doesn’t break the user experience.

Google and publishers say the new format will lend itself to a more consumer-friendly ad experience where ads load instantly. By definition, “the project relies on AMP HTML, a new open framework built entirely out of existing technologies, which allows websites to build light-weight webpages.

Also, consistent to Google’s policy on free web (which is reflected in its ban of ad blockers on the Play Store market), AMP allows ad blockers.

The open source nature of AMP will facilitate quicker adoption
The open source nature of AMP will facilitate quicker adoption

How will AMP Work

AMP technology is free and open-source, meaning any website publisher can use it and tinker with the software.Google has, in fact, gone a step further and opened the technical specification on GitHub.

To expand the reach of AMP, Google has partnered with social giants like Twitter, Pinterest,, and LinkedIn, along with 30 publishers including Les Echos, BBC, the Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal. AMP is also expected to be integrated into Google News very soon.

AMP will enable publishers to focus purely on content and user experience through varied plug-ins and ad analytics, while subordinating the task of high performance onto AMP HTML code.

AMP’s focus will not just be performance, as Google has made it clear that it ultimately aims to support a comprehensive range of ad formats, ad networks and technologies. The emphasis in developing these functionalities will be to prevent that ad formats from getting so aggressive that they overwhelm and distract the user from the actual content to be read. These features are expected to be developed over the coming months in collaboration with publishers.

Ubiquitous access across different devices and platforms is the key to ensure free flow of information across the globe. An underlying layer of AMP focuses on a new approach to caching that enables efficient distribution to Google’s high performance global cache. Publishers are not only not bound to using this global cache, Google plans to open this cache free of cost to publishers.

AMP vs. GoogleWebLight?

As you can probably imagine, it is quite natural for users to start comparing it with Google WebLight, a similar serviced launched at Google IO 2015 that trims down css and script files of the page to make them load at 4X faster speeds.

Consequently, Google’s WebLight also reduces the data usage in as much as 80%. It may not sound an attractive proposition, as it takes away most of the styling of the web page. An important thing that distinguishes WebLight from AMP is their respective purpose.

The WebLight service renders a lighter, cached version of the page and is meant for developing countries where many users still don’t have the luxury of high-speed 3G connections. At present, it operates only in India, China and Brazil. On the contrary, AMP has a much broader scope.

AMP’s central purpose will be to enable mobile websites to build light-weight web pages via an open-sourced, content-intensive and ubiquitously delivered platform. Unlike WebLight, AMP will NOT be restricted to only certain countries.

It will be interesting to see whether Google decides to continue or suspend the WebLight feature post the launch of AMP.

Competing Services from Apple News and Facebook’s Instant Articles

With the public release of the code on GitHub, Google’s AMP program is certainly more publisher-friendly than Apple’s News app and Facebook’s Instant Articles feature. 

With the announcement of AMP, Google has leapfrogged over Apple and Facebook. While IA from Facebook allows users to read articles within the native app, Apple’s News app is an aggregator itself. In both cases, publishers are relinquishing certain control to the app.

These features are more tightly integrated with their native apps. An AMP rendered page, however, can be implemented by any website (including your own personal blog).

Google has opened the AMP HTML source code on GitHub thus enabling easier and quicker of the service
Google has released the AMP HTML source code on GitHub thus enabling easier and quicker of the service
Final Thoughts
Google has acted like a perfect opportunistic. AMP has potential for wide scale adoption and owning to its open source nature, it will do so with will full support from publishers.

To put it bluntly, Google sensed an opportunity, took it with both hands and ran with it!

In fact, I would go on to say that while the cats were fighting over the cake, the monkey has taken away the cake!

What are your thoughts on Google's AMP vs. Apple News vs. Facebook's Instant Articles?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Why I love Infosys

There is a reason Infy is where it is.

It gave me my first flight.  I felt like a little kid who was using an escalator for the first time.  Up until Mysore happened,  flying on a plane was a distant dream. And post mysore when I checked my pocket,  the 500 bucks I started the trip with were still not finished.

Same is the effect on emotions of thousands of such new recruits who join at Mysore every year.

All the bitterness,  all the frustration of working a shit job for which I don't care at all vanished in a jiffy.

Perhaps God was making up for what all he took away from me in the past one year. I couldn't even beg, some friendships were broken beyond repair. And I was the culprit behind most. Maybe I'm just being too harsh on myself.  But these things happened.  And I did nothing about them. And there was nothing I did to get them back. Sometimes I wonder,  is it too late?

Joining delivery was a good decision.  I could have never survived E&R.  I would have become old and bald with an incredible paunch by the time I reached 25!

The four month bench period didn't do much, except add to my frustration (not having a job and not having work, both mean the same to me)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

CEED 2015 Application Process

After reading through numerous queries each day in my CEED Facebook group, I've decided to publish a blog post to help out with the frustrating CEED Application Process.

NOTE: This process applies to MALE (GEN) Category Applicants who have their valid (final or provisional) degree certificate with them. I have not addressed the queries of those who don't have their qualifying degree proofs yet (2014 pass outs) or OBC/SC/ST candidates. However, such candidates can use this article for general process help. Please note that since I'm writing this article after submitting my application, there are no screenshots and some minute details might be skipped by me. But I'll try to cover as much as I can. Without much further ado, let's proceed :)

But before you go start applying, here are a few tips to keep in mind throughout your process.

1. Read ALL related pages / tabs of the application form CAREFULLY. This includes PHOTO, SIGNATURE and ELIGIBILITY PROOF DOCUMENT upload guidelines.

2. SAVE your data after filling the first two tabs of the form i.e. Personal & Qualification details. The Documents section is auto-saved once you have uploaded the documents successfully.

3. Suppose you have saved your data in first two tabs of the application form and then you decide to complete the process on some other day. When you come back, you might find your sheet blank. DON'T PANIC! Just wait for a few seconds, the data will be auto-populated by the CEED Server. (Reason behind this is technical which I won't cover here). 

4. For any query throughout the process, you may call up CEED Office. Their contact details are provided here.

5. Productivity Step: SAVE your login email, application number, password & SBI Collect Reference Number in a single consolidated mail [OPTIONAL]

If you are looking to apply from scratch, you  may start reading from below steps.

If you are already aware of the process and are looking for solution to a problem, you may scroll down to commonly known issues during CEED Application Process.

Step 1:
Register with the CEED Website.

Step 2: Click "Go to Application Form" on top right corner of your page. Fill in your personal and educational details.

Step 3: Uploading Documents: On this tab, you will see separate links for SAMPLE PHOTOS and UPLOADING DOCUMENTS. I suggest read the SAMPLE PHOTOS page carefully as it contains the guidelines for sizes of the documents required for upload. NOTE DOWN all the required dimensions on a separate page (min/max). This is the part where most people face issues after submission.

 Step 4: Payment through SBI Collect 

What the heck is this! You may ask. 

Many a times, you may have seen in colleges during admissions that you give your admission documents at one counter and the cash counter is separate. You get your documents verified and attested at the admissions counter, go the cash counter, pay there, collect the receipt and show the receipt back to the original admissions counter. This is just that.

Except that, you will not be passing on the entire receipt to CEED, you will be passing on the receipt number, which is the SBI Collect Reference Number.

This is because the CEED website folks have not integrated the payment process within the website, instead they have used the system of their receiving bank (SBI). This system is called SBI Collect.

Before I proceed with the steps, I would advise you to use an SBI ATM / Credit Card for this payment. Other payment methods are definitely available, but not necessarily available round the clock. For example, the net banking feature is disabled on weekends. Moreover, the processing fee with an SBI card is the least (just a few paisa over 11 bucks). 

Steps to pay through SBI Collect

1.      Go to SBI Collect Home page and accept the terms and conditions.
2.      On the next page, for the state box, select MAHARASHTRA. (Since you're paying to IIT Bombay)
3.      For the type of institution, select "Education Institution"
4.      On the next page, select "CEED IIT Bombay" for department name
5.    Select your candidate type
6.      Fill in the payee details on the next page. The "Remarks" field is optional. You may write "CEED Application Fee" if you wish to fill the field.
7.      Confirm all the details
8.      Choose the appropriate payment mode and complete the online payment. You will see a transaction successful page. That is your SBI Collect payment receipt. Note the SBI Collect Reference Number. And save the receipt as an image using the windows snipping tool

Step 5: Finishing the application and submitting it successfully.

1.      Come back to CEED Application Form > Payments tab
2.      Enter your SBI Collect Reference Number. If there is no Bank  Reference Number mentioned in your receipt, write "NA"
3.      Complete other details.
4.      Fill the captcha text. Preview your application.
5.      On the preview page, click "Go to Application Form" on top right of the page. Go to payments tab and click "Submit"

If everything is successful, you should get the message stating that your application was submitted successfully and is now under scrutiny.

Commonly known issues during CEED Application Process


This is required when you have a proper face photo that conforms to all the guidelines mentioned in the SAMPLE PHOTOS page, except it doesn't have a light / white background (which is required).

Below are the steps to whiten the background of your photos:

1. Open in your browser
2. Open your image in pixlr.
3. Select the Wand Tool from the "Tools" box.
4. Click your wand over the background of your image. You will see it selected through the dotted boundary.
5. Click "Edit" menu > "Invert Selection". The selection is now inverted to your face and bust.
6. Press Ctrl + C
7. Open a new blank image and paste your copied foreground on it and save the image. Edit in Paint for dimensions (if required)

Alternatively, after step 5, you can do the following steps:

6a. Click on "Adjustment" menu > "Color Balance" > Maximize all three parameters Viz., Red, Blue & Green Offsets to make it white.
7a. Save the image. Resize it in paint (if required).


a. Open the file in MS Paint for editing
b. Press Ctrl+A
c. Click "Resize" option from the "Image" section of "Home" tab in paint
d. Select "Pixels" option in the "Resize & Skew" box.
e. In the "Resize" section, enter the horizontal dimension as noted down earlier. The vertical dimension will be automatically calculated for you. Just verify that it matches with the acceptable dimensions that you have noted down earlier.
f. Click "File"  > "Save As" > "JPEG Picture" (Not required if your file is already JPEG)
g. Give the file a name and save it.


During my application process, I noticed a very annoying issue.

Even if you enter correct captcha text, it shows an error. (This occurs when you try to preview or submit the application)

Here are some suggested fixes (make sure you save your data in the form before you perform any of these two actions):

1. Clean your browsers cache and history.
2. Change your browser.

In both cases, you will have to re-login into your CEED account, go to the application form and repeat the action. 

Hope this post was helpful in making the CEED Application Process a little less frustrating.

Got anything to add this article? Do let me know in comments :)