Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Post #32 Login on Mobile Screen

As covered in my last post, I was to work on the mobile interface. And I did. Eversince, iOS7 came up, it broke my app. And ruined my phone's performance(I have cribbed earlier too. Never miss a chance).
How did it break my app? Well, till iOS6, I could log onto my app from regular safari session and then save the expense recording url at a shortcut on the screen. The shortcut had access to session / rememberMe cookie and whenever I accessed my site from the shortcut, I got a valid session and I could use it just fine. Since iOS7, however, the shortcuts do not share anything with the safari browser. Though its still safari, they work in their own silos. I think its good from security pov.

Even this was fine, but then there is additional restrictions. Suppose I tried to save the secure(logged in) URL as shortcut, the browser will try to access it first. As this browser instance now working in its own silo, it would redirect me to the log in page. As log in is an HTTP 302 redirect, the top URL changes to log in page URL and it becomes the shortcut URL. Whatever I did I could not get the expense recorder saved as a shortcut.

So I had to do it. Create a small log in screen for the mobile. It took about 2 days. I spent a good time setting up my dev env on the VIAO. Once it was done, I could get productive. I need to learn to use WebStorm better. Its good in the sense it points out if Sencha javascript is broken, but I'm not using even 5% of its power. Learnt a lot about cross site browsing. Finally, the shortcut is working and now the thing looks more professional...

That's it for 2013. My first Amazon bill is likely to be Rs. 4000. An expensive hobby it is. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Post #31 New Changes and a Sticker Shock

So finally, my website is live for more than a year now. That's great news... or is it? There is still only one user and the free tier of Amazon pricing has run out. Dec will be the first full billing month and it seems, I'm going to run up a bill of $70 on a t1-micro instance. That's steep largely due to rupee depreciation. @45 it was only about Rs. 3000 per month which now looks like almost Rs.4500.

Anyhow, the site continues to evolve. I just completed couple of more updates.
- Moved away from sub-category based piechart to just category based one. Even with that, there are more than a dozen categories that clutter the chart, but its more discernible now.
- On click of the pie chart, I'm now loading the transactions that make up the pie chart.

That's a good feature as many a times looking at the distribution, I wonder, why the numbers appear inflated and then I had to navigate away to another page to see and validate them. It works better now.

There is another one I need to fix to make it compatible with iOS7. It works in browser but does not work as a shortcut.

And then I'm done with 2013.

Rediscovering my Music System

I bought my Jamo and Yamaha pair about 8 years back. After the initial infatuation, the interest was mostly fleeting. Its unwieldy to listen to music on large towers in the living room when others are at home and constantly hankering to lower the volume. Later when I returned from the US, I got myself, a couple of Bose speakers which I then used as surround speakers, but the volume was so low I could hardly ever hear anything.

Then about 2 years back I bought an IOmega drive that allowed me to stream you tube to my TV and it briefly triggered an upsurge in usage. But eventually, that died down too. Then came Apple TV. It was far more convenient to use it for playing songs or even streaming you tube. That was end of last year. It too came and went.

Recently as I was rearranging my stuff after the paint job, I got around to rewiring the speakers and played a few songs in 7 channel stereo mode (provided by Yamaha) and I discovered how well these speakers played together. I must have messed up the wiring somewhere as I could now hear the surround speakers better than earlier. It wasn't as good as I had wished, but they did contribute to overall effect of the music which I found very pleasant. Overall, it was a room filling effect even at lower volume. That goes easy on my family's ears.

For the last couple of days, I'm listening to all my favorite music on the old system and they are sounding more melodious than ever...Its like, I have a new music system. Cool!

Discovering Quikr and Olx

I went on a laptop buying spree back in 2008. I sold off my old (damaged) Toshiba for $180, over Craigslist in the US and was amazed with the kind of response I got. The buyer was genuine and he gave me the price I quoted without much haggling. Later, same year I bought another Toshiba, an ASUS netbook and a VIAO, all within a span of 6 months. Crazy...

5 years later as I was painting the house, I decided to dispose off one of the laptops along with the old Bose sound dock and the WII I bought from the US. I posted the ads in both Quikr and Olx and to my surprise, I got good inquiries for both Bose and the ASUS. I sold off the ASUS the same day and the Bose the very next day. I think I quoted a very low price, as I kept getting these calls, especially for the Bose, asking me whats wrong with it that I'm selling it so cheap.

But these classified sites have started to work in India. The guy I sold the laptop to, did check a few things such as the keyboard, sound etc. but could  not check much more as I was outside when I met the buyer. The Bose guy could not even check that. He practically bought it on my word that it works just fine. Cool! so the trust is now building up in India to conduct these transactions.

I got just 1 inquiry for the WII, it seems the console is losing its charm...

Getting the House Painted... Again!

Its been just 3 years. Mr. Sigh, our contractor did a decent job of most of the renovation we did back in 2010, but he botched up the paint job. The paint started peeling hardly a year after. With each passing year it became worse till the entire living room ceiling looked like a horror movie set. The ceilings were especially bad.
So finally, we decided to get it addressed. We asked for quotes and surprise! the local contractor came 10% higher than the Asian Paints guys. Needless to say we went with the Asian Paints. The relationship guy was a professional who inspired confidence. Besides they were giving me a 3 year warranty. I agreed. There was only a minor fine print. The PoP job will be counted extra based on PoP used per actuals. It was only later that the contractor came up with the estimates. It came to 10K. Ha! The subtleties  of fine print.

Then came the schedule. 23 days to paint the house. Hello, its just a 3 BHK. In Mumbai. How can you folks even think of such a schedule? The answer came in the weeks that ensued. The workers, there were always 3-5 of them would stroll in at 10:30 in the morning and then break for lunch @1. They'd take a siesta after then lunch and finally break at 5:30pm. In between, we'd need to serve them tea and biscuits twice a day. Talk of productivity.

In terms of color selection we are certainly getting better, but still not there yet. Our guest bedroom was an unmitigated disaster the last time with screaming blue and yellow. (2 walls each). Also, our master bedroom colors looked great independently, but together had little on screen chemistry.

This time we dabbled with beige (safe) in the guest bedroom and went yellow and white combination in the master bedroom. Its an improvement over the previous choices, but nothing like Shahrukh and Kajol.

After 23 days of stifled living, Asian Paints guys are finally wrapping up tomorrow. I'd rate them average performers. 3/5 star.This time I've let them take their time and hope we don't have to call the warranty clause.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Months 114, 113

The last 2 months have been a continuam. A desperate search for a job and the mind numbing day-to-day. At last the job search has finally come through. I got an offer from a user company. That was last week and I finally resigned from my current position after 11 long years.

Personally, these 11 years have been quite varied. My present company did a lot for me. And I'm grateful for it. However, the relationship went downhill in the last couple of years. The recent changes, i.e. over the last 6 months finally pushed me over the edge. The problem is that when a company is imploding (reducing in size), its very difficult for an individual to grow. For my vertical, the resources reduced by 33% over the last 2 years. If this was in the US, it might have made headlines, but this is India and we don't track these numbers very well.

The new company is no great shakes. Honestly, its a little scary. But I need it to make the move. I'm about 5 years behind in my career and may never be able to catch up. But if I have to even try, it has to be now.

Anyhow, I'm currently on an extended vacation. 2 weeks, entirely in Mumbai. I have a lot of pending stuff that I need to address and I'm taking time off to do it now. I got my household paperwork to sort out. The house needed a repaint and thats happening now.

Most other things are okay