Categories
Web

The most critical feature of Instagram

Instagram is a simple and fun application. The simplicity of the application is what led to its success. It is extremely addictive.

However, its most important feature or lack thereof, is the regram functionality. Instagram doesn’t allow users to just repost the same image from another user natively. The absence of this functionality is just wonderful. Users can definitely install third party apps that support this functionality, but, Instagram doesn’t support it natively.

As a user, your feed is usually pretty clean. There’re no non-sensical memes or random images showing up in your feed. You definitely can subscribe to them, but, you don’t see them unless you specifically subscribe to them.

Personally, I think this is great. It keeps the app very focused and clean.

Categories
Programming Side Projects

Dashboard

A while ago, I wanted to build a data aggregation service that’d allow its users to fetch data from a set of data sources defined by them. I wanted to allow the users to configure the data fetch interval for each source. This led to the birth of the Dashboard project.

Dashboard is a data aggregating web application that provides a way to customize and display the aggregated data. It’s an open source project. The code is hosted on GitHub.

Dashboard UI
Categories
Meta

WordPress 5.3

After, what seemed like a long wait, WordPress 5.3 is finally here. Right on time. Congratulations to the WordPress team. I just finished upgrading my blog to the latest version of WordPress. I’ve been waiting to try out the final version of the brand new TwentyTwenty theme that ships with the latest version of WordPress.

My blog is currently running the TwentyTwenty theme. There are a few noticeable UI glitches, but, I’m OK with them. I definitely don’t want to switch back to the old theme because of these bugs. I’m sure these will be fixed soon. I haven’t investigated these bugs yet. These could even be caused by any of the plugins I’m using.

Categories
Technology

Apple Watch Series 5

Before continuing to read this post, I would like to clarify that this is not an in-depth review of the Series 5 (S5) nor is an actual comparison of Series 5 against a Series 4 (S4). This is more of an observation based on the specs mentioned on Apple Watch’s website.

Most of Apple’s products are amazing. I love my Apple Watch. I watch all of Apple’s product announcements with a great deal of enthusiasm. Naturally, I was really looking forward to yesterday’s Apple event. The introduction video is really impressive.

Categories
Meta

Goodbye, Google Analytics

Google Analytics

I decided to switch back to using WordPress as my blogging platform this May. At the same time, I also took the decision of removing Google Analytics (GA) from my blog. I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. So, I thought I’d remove GA for a few months and see if I miss its value.

I used GA primarily to identify which posts attracted the most readers and calculate the bounce rates. After a while, I felt like I didn’t really need this information, since, I wasn’t really doing anything with it. I just wrote about things that I thought were interesting. I was never motivated by my blog’s user engagement, to write about topics I wasn’t interested in.

Categories
IoT

Raspberry Pi 4

A few hours ago, the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced the latest version of their awesome single board computer, Raspberry Pi 4 Model B. I am stoked.

Raspberry Pi 4 with dual monitor support at 4K

As shown in the above image, it has dual monitor support at 4K. They switched the power supply to use USB-C and has Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity.

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B board

The new version comes with support for 1GB, 2GB, and 4GB of RAM. That makes it a powerful desktop computer that’s smaller than my phone.

I cannot wait to try this out and work on something fun.

Categories
IoT Side Projects

Building a Coffee Pot Monitor using Raspberry Pi

I love coffee and side projects. I wanted to solve a coffee related annoyance that I faced on a regular basis. This post is about how I built a Coffee Pot Monitor, to track the coffee level in a coffee pot, remotely, using a Load Cell, HX711 amplifier, and a Raspberry Pi.

The Annoyance

Imagine yourself being busy with something important. You take a quick break to grab some coffee and walk over to the break room only to find an empty coffee pot.

Oh, the horror

There’s no way for me to know the amount of coffee left in the pot, without walking over to the break room and checking it out. The coffee pots we have at work are opaque. So, it’s not possible to know the amount of coffee left in the pot by looking at it.

Categories
Reviews

Google Fi Review (2019)

Google Fi

After ten years of using AT&T, I switched to Google Fi and here are my thoughts. Before I start my review, here’re some details you might be interested in. I use Google Fi on an unlocked iPhone XS. I knew very well about the limitations before I signed up for the service. So, here is my review of Google Fi on iPhone.

Application

I’ve been a Google Voice (GV) user since the past ten years. I love the service. I’ve used it for my voicemail and for making international calls to India. I liked the voicemail transcription feature too. This is a pretty common feature now, but, GV pioneered it.

Anyway, I was able to sign up for Google Fi online from this page here https://fi.google.com/signup and apply for the SIM card installation kit.

Categories
Personal

Working on Side Projects

Working on Side Projects can be really fun. But, you know what’s not fun and sucks? Not finishing the project and abandoning it (also, Global Warming). This is a very common problem and most of us struggle with it.

It gets trickier. Once you lose interest in the project and abandon it, guilt kicks in, as if we don’t have enough issues to deal with already. At this point it becomes really annoying having to fight with your conscience about the abandoned project. You don’t feel like working on it and at the same time you can’t really leave it. It’s just pure bliss at this point. 😇

Categories
Quotes

Jay-Z

Something ’bout the struggle so divine
This sort of love is hard to define

Jay-Z (Nickels and Dimes)
Categories
Personal

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Image from the iconic Game of Thrones title sequence

I just finished watching the series finale of Game of Thrones (GoT) and it feels like the end of an era.

I grew up watching the show these past 8 years. I still remember the day my ex-roommate, Gopi, suggested it to me for the very first time. I had just graduated and was actively looking for jobs at the time and wanted to start watching something to take my mind off of my job hunt.

I watched the very first episode of the show and immediately got hooked. It was extremely captivating. It wasn’t like anything I had seen before on TV. The quality of the show was unprecedented.

Categories
Web

Gutenberg

The UX around composing a blog post has changed significantly over the years. It has moved from pure text based posts to having image embeds, galleries, videos and cards from various websites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc. The text editors are responsible for good UX and it’s great that they are evolving. This evolution lets users focus on the content and makes it really easy for them to express their ideas.

Medium’s Text Editor

Over the past few years, one of the biggest innovations around text editing has been Medium’s Text Editor. It’s a wonderful editor that looks great. Here’s a couple of screenshots of the editor while editing a story on Medium.com:

Medium’s Text Editor showing text styling options
Medium’s Text Editor showing media embedding options

As you can see, the UI looks clean, minimalistic, beautiful and lets the user focus on what’s truly important – Content.

Now, all of this is great, but, there’s one key thing missing here – Extensibility. Being able to extend the functionality of this editor using plugins makes it so much more powerful.

Categories
Meta

The Reverse Switch

After 7 years, I’m back on WordPress. Lot of things have changed in 7 years. For starters, the prices have significantly gone down for hosting your server. Also, the UX of the WP mobile app is now so much better. The new blocks based text editor is very interesting.

One of the primary reasons for me to switch back to WP from Jekyll is to be able to compose blog posts even from my phone.

Lately, my workflow for blogging has been something like the following:

  1. Compose an initial draft in the Notes.app
  2. Once the draft is 80-90% done, convert it to Markdown and iterate over the draft until I find the content satisfactory
  3. Push to GitHub to publish the post
Categories
Meta

10 years

Being busy with travel, work and some other personal things, I totally forgot that on March 20th 2019, my blog completed its 10 years of existence. Personally, that’s a huge milestone for me.

It feels good to have had my blog for 10 years. A lot has changed in the past 10 years and my blog helps me see and understand how I’ve evolved over the past decade. I started my blog as a personal project. It started off as an outlet for my interest in writing about things happening in my life. As I grew older, my interests changed and so did the things I was blogging about. Right now, most of my blog posts I write are technical at some level, which seems obvious given my love for technology.

Categories
Personal

Happy New Year 2019

Happy New Year! 🎉

2018 has been a great year for me. Both, professionally and personally. I’ve managed to be very productive in 2018 and it has been a very humbling experience.

2017 was a particularly tough year for me. I was really sad, went through a lot and I wanted to pull myself back together. It was a tough phase of my life. I realized that and I wanted to get a hold of myself. I knew that I needed a ton of discipline in order to do that.

I wanted to set some resolutions for myself. Unlike previous years, this time I was serious. I wanted to make sure I stuck to them and so, I came up with a few challenges for myself for 2018. Some are personal to me and I can’t share them. However, the others that I can share publicly are below.

Categories
Meta

Geotagging Blog Posts

I was checking out some photos on my iPhone the other day and I really liked how the Photos app organized my photos by location. It really adds a lot of context to my photos. In the past, I’ve used the map view to see where a particular photo was taken a ton of times, but, I never really appreciated the value of Geotagging the photos.

Context is quite important when you’re trying to express an opinion or trying to state something. I think location adds a little bit of context, if not a lot, to a blog post. I don’t see it being done on any of the personal blogs I follow. I think it’s an interesting piece of information to add to the metadata of a blog post.

Categories
Technology

Wearable Tech

I love Wearable Tech™.

My love for wearable tech started off in May 2012 with the launch of Nike+ Fuel Band. It was an amazing product. I absolutely loved everything about it. The design, the display, the battery, the style and of course, the UX.

View this post on Instagram

#GOAL #nike #nikeplus #fuelband

A post shared by Mohnish Thallavajhula (@thallavajhula) on

The next year, Fitbit came up with a competing product – Fitbit Flex. So, obviously, I bought that too. I really liked it.

Categories
Books

It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work

I like David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH) and Jason Fried’s style of writing. It’s very casual and often times funny. I’ve enjoyed reading Getting Real and Rework. I never felt motivated enough to read their other book, Remote.

Getting Real changed the way I think about projects and even my side projects. It didn’t have a similar impact on me as Getting Real had, but, it’s still a good book. All of these books tend to follow a similar narrative, busting the myths of common work practices.

DHH and Jason recently published their new book called It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work. I immediately pre-ordered the book. I got really excited once I received the book and started reading it.

"It

Here are my takeaways from the book:

Categories
Fitness Personal

Weight Loss

Up until mid 2008, I had always been underweight. I used to be extremely lean and my focus back then was to gain weight. I wanted to look decent when I wore shirts and not look like someone hung a shirt on a coat hanger. To get a mental picture, I’m a little over 5’9” and weighed 120 lbs. With the focus to get bigger and look more muscular, I joined a gym. Every single day, besides the weekends, I put in my best effort and exercised sincerely. I knew I had to gain weight and so, I ate a lot of food. I didn’t really care about which foods to eat or if a particular food was healthy or not. My focus was purely on gaining weight and building muscle. Within 6 months, these changes started showing. I gained a decent amount of weight and by August 2009, I weighed 154 lbs. Mission accomplished.

Categories
Personal

Personal Blog

A blog is a great place to post interesting, insightful and fun things. Or even boring things. It doesn’t really matter as long as you like doing it. I really enjoy reading my friends’ blogs. It has a different feel to it as opposed to reading a generalized feed on a social network. Typically, I tend to sift through the updates in my feed. I don’t really pay much attention to the items in my feed. That is not really a great experience. This wouldn’t be the case if everyone had their own personal blog.

The biggest thing that social networks fail to capture is the essence of a person. Even if, say, Facebook, allowed its users to customize their profiles completely, it’d still fail to display a person’s uniqueness, since, they all reside on the same domain.