April 24, 2007

Charity by rooting entrepreneurship

Did you try skipping a meal deliberately someday? Many of us fast at least once a week/month/year for various reasons... I find it not easy to fast, unless I feed myself with fruits & juices to stay out of hunger. Can you imagine how hard would it be for those misfortune ones living in poverty.

The whole world is on a mission to eradicate poverty... Several non-government organizations (NGOs) strive hard to pluck poverty out of its roots, and burn it into ash. Many still wonder what that means? Eradicating poverty does not mean providing a hungry child with a day's meal. It only means showing a way for the hungry souls to get a day's meal everyday.

I usually keep aside a fraction of the money I earn for the purpose of charity. So, I've been looking for a reputed charity organization that can do maximum good for the given money. Luckily, I came across a couple of good organizations that Ben Casnocha recommends. They are Ashoka, and Acumen Fund. Both of these try to enliven the lives of people by rooting entrepreurship, and thus enabling self-sustained growth. This, I feel is the way to go... A revolutionary approach that instigates the power of self.

Acumen Fund is a non-profit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty. Ashoka is the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems.

Interestingly, I also found a contest (advertised by Ashoka) for innovative solutions that can enhance the transparency and accountability of societies throughout the world. Submit your entries by May 16, 2007 3:00 pm EST.

April 23, 2007

A Mindmap powered by Google... Howzaat!

Can we have Head-First Answers please? I'm a great fan of the 'Head-First' series of Java books written by Kathy Sierra & the rest... In these books, knowledge is expressed in such a subtle manner that we actually remember what we read. How strange is that ;)

Do you know what makes 'Head first' books different? They use mind-maps, comics, and fun-games to express concepts/facts. So, how about having a search-site called 'Head-First Answers'. Even better if it is powered by Google.

Google can display its search results as a Mind-Map that contains snippets of search results, classified and branched based on the category of that site. It can also include simple human-powered assistance with its blog-search results. In essence, this can be seen as an effective way to merge the wisdom of the blogs, and the knowledge from search results or Wikipedia. Sounds like a possible mashup for Google Labs!

Will this model compete against Askville & Yahoo-Answers ??? In a way, YES. I believe we don't need human powered answers to express that which is in the knowledge bank. However, we definitely need human assistance to find a cognitive solution (say derivation of an algorithm/formula), or a creative alternative.

An interesting question is what data-structure could be used for this flexible mind-map to integrate & collaborate several things? From the very appearance, we can assert it would be a TREE structure (I shall update this post with possible implementation strategies later).

To spice up things, features such as personalizing, sharing & export can be added to any single Mindmap. This way, we can get some effective utilization of the increasing blogosphere.

April 19, 2007

A Smile that made my day

Y'day, I went to Target to get my weekly groceries. But, I was not in a mood to while-away my time by strolling up & down the aisles. So, I just grabbed the most essential items for the week, rushed to the checkout counter, and stood second in the line for billing. Not knowing what to do while waiting for my turn, I was looking at people around me, and some chocolates in the nearby shelf.

I was standing just behind a woman who had her cute little baby in a trolley. I looked at the baby, and started admiring at how cute the little kid is. When the kid rolled his eyes to look at me, I gave him a warm gentle smile. Do you know what I got in response... A hearty loving smile that really made my day. I felt very pleased for the rest of the day, and wished a glorious future for the little kid.

Everyone of us have read dozens of cliches that talk about Smile. Though I accept the validity of every cliche, there is nothing like experiencing it. A simple smile (from a kid) can trigger boundless happiness in us.

Anyways, if you want a reason to smile instantly, check out this blog-post that contain "30 Humorous thoughts to make you smile"

April 10, 2007

Techtribe's Blogging Challenge

A few weeks ago, Techtribe organized a "Nationwide Blogging Challenge" with 3 topics to select from. The winner for each category can choose either an iPod or Xbox-360, while the 2nd, 3rd and 4th winners will receive an autographed copy of "How Innovators Connect".

The topics for the contest include...

  • How has networking helped your career?
  • What makes you unique / How does your personal brand differ?
  • What innovation do you believe will help India?

I picked the one that revolves around our personal brand (2nd topic in the list), as it involves some degree of introspection in the process. Today morning, I was delighted to receive an email that announced the results of the contest. My article was chosen to be the top winner in its category.

Writing about self is always fun, and even better is to get rewarded. Once again, my sincere thanks to Techtribe and the selection panel for counting upon my article.

Check out my article: My Personal Brand at Techtribe, or you can read it here...
My Personal Brand
Posted by Seshu Karthick (Cosmican) on 20 Mar 2007

Sensing a personal brand usually starts from within. We subconsciously agree that everyone of us is unique. Its only when we consciously realize that we can accomplish a task or excel others in a particular domain, the notion of self-confidence arises. My own personal brand starts with acknowledging the roots of self-confidence, which is to identify the object of passion. I am passionate about Computer Science, and thats my strength. Since childhood, I've been a good software programmer, and often the first one in my class to get the program working. Having gained insight on what my passion is, I established my personal brand as "An exceptionally good programmer".

We can regard one's personal brand as the brand of a company (with size one). Integrity, Excellence, and the Can-do Attitude are the highlights of my brand. Personal Integrity is one thing I always treasure, and shall never trade it for anything. I firmly believe in honesty, candidness, and living life with a set of strong principles.

In showing excellence, I prefer to differ from the rest. So, I aced a couple of SUN certification exams, and proved my ability to write high quality industry-standard Java code. This gave me an edge over other buddies in getting internships, and the job of my choice. Recently, I developed a few web-applications using latest development techniques, just to catch up with the buzz in the industry. I feel unique in my ability since none of my friends have accomplished what I did. This tendency of mine to stand-out from the rest is now an integral part of my personality. Thankfully, it got me far away from the "Me too" model of existence. Probably thats why I bought a German car when all my friends preferred Japanese.

The attitude at which we perceive things plays a crucial role in determining what is in store for us. My Can-do attitude includes the positive aspects of being headstrong and relentless.

The word "Headstrong", when perceived in positive light is one of my favorite words. It describes my own personal mindset and inner confidence. I believe that a wavering mind can not make big decisions, and eventually can never make it big in life. So, I make a decision once, but make it with confidence and sufficient analysis. I get advice from all, and decide on my own with the help of cumulative intelligence. It further facilitates me to have a backup plan-B for every action/decision I take. This is a crucial part of my success-story.

Being relentless is yet another quality I am blessed with. Without this energy, I would not have gone out of my way to possess certifications, create amateur web-applications, and keep up the pace with technology. I practically follow the wise words "Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached". My graduate degree is an exemplification of my relentless attitude towards gaining expertise in Computer Science. In simple words, I just love what I do, and do what I love with tremendous energy.

The last piece of the puzzle is my tendency to always be on a lookout for improvement. I take up suggestions and opinions from others, and consider them for my betterment in a total egoless fashion. Usually when ego makes friendship with self-confidence, the result is very unpleasant... its called over-confidence. Having understood this concept, I am able to ward it off with humbleness and acceptance.

April 07, 2007

My first Sponsor

Y'day, I got my first sponsor for Stuff-a-Blog via Text-link-ads. The sponsor is Apatar, a powerful suite of software tools designed to provide productivity benefits to those organizations that need to move data in and out of different sources. Applications include data warehousing, data migration, synchronization and application integration. Thanks to Apatar, and I wish them good luck.

April 03, 2007

Pick one: OpenID or Yahoo BBauth

OpenId is an impressive alternative for web-startups who really care about their users' convenience. For those who've never heard of OpenId, it is an open decentralized framework for user digital identity. You can create an OpenId once, and use the same credentials to log-in to multiple websites that support it.

Lately, I was trying to explore it for my upcoming web-application. After sufficient reading, I was able to appreciate its architecture and the API, and how simple it is for the user, as well as the developer. But before I dove in and got my hands dirty, I considered the HTTP authentication frameworks provided by Yahoo & Google.

Almost every web user has an account with Yahoo, and this means "effortless login" to my webapp. Yahoo BBAuth is indeed an excellent service but with one drawback. The drawback is that Yahoo does not reveal the UserID of the logged in user. Instead, it returns a Hash value that corresponds to the username. Hmm... But, I am not willing to use this hash value as the only key to associate the persisted user data and the users. Did you just ask me WHY? Well... becoz my webapp becomes unstable when Yahoo changes its hash algorithm later in course of time.

So, OpenId became my ultimate choice of implementation. There are plenty of OpenID Service providers available on the web. Check them out here... To make it easy for developers, there are several frameworks available for each implementation language. I was interested in Java libraries, and my options include IdPrism, NetMesh InfoGrid, OpenID4Java. Out of the lot, I found IdPrism to be very straightforward and easy to integrate with my application.

In my search for a good OpenId service provider, I came across an interesting approach taken by Simon Willison to integrate OpenId specs with Yahoo BBAuth API. You can check this out at IdProxy.net.

April 02, 2007

Yahoo Login Relief

I'm pleased with Yahoo's short-term memory of our login info. Earlier, it had no memory what so ever... requiring me to sign-in every time I want to check mail. Now, it can remember my password for 2 weeks on my system, making my life easier. I probably will check my Yahoo mail more often than before. To me, it was a much-awaited feature since long... better late than never!