Tagged: blog-challenge

Blog Challenge: Tell us a story

Next in the line of my [[http://floatingsun.net/blog/tags/blog-challenge|blog challenge entries]] is [[http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/07/09/blog-challenge-personal-blogging-tell-us-a-story/|Tell us a story]]. The goal in this challenge:

>The challenge is not to write about your day-to-day life, or even your opinion of your day-to-day life. It is to write about a memory, a moment in your past, an adventure, a first, or even a non-event experience like a fun walk in the rain, making a snow fort, surfing, or about an important person in your childhood like a parent, relative, or best friend.

I’m not even sure why I remember this particular incident I’m going to talk about. When you’re kids, its hard to understand what gets stuck in your head as memories. So this is around the time when I was in 4th or 5th grade maybe. [[http://hindustantimes.com|Hindustan Times]] came up with this contest where you had to write about your role model and why is he/she your role model. There were some prizes as incentives, but best of all, HT said they would publish some selected entries in the newspaper. So me and my sister got all excited and decided to take part.

Now I admire my dad a lot — I look up to him all the time and he has taught me a great many lessons in life. So I was absolutely clear as to who I was going to write about. The only problem was that my vocabulary wasn’t very good (and that doesn’t seem to have changed over the years :( ). Anyways, so I sat down for days with a dictionary and a thesaurus, finding my way through the jungle of words, picking out the words that most concisely described what I wanted to say. And I dare say that I wrote an entry that even I was proud of.

My sister on the other hand went the more cliched route (actually thats not entirely true. She //may// have been actually inspired by her role model… I’ll check up with her). She wrote about [[wp>Mother_Theresa|Mother Theresa]] but I was a little un-impressed by her choice of role model because mine was more personal :-)

Anyways, so we mailed out our entries (yes, no Internet at that time in India, just good old postal mail). The big day finally came around and everybody crowded around the newspaper to see if we made it. And there it was — my sister’s entry, and mine was no where to be found. It was not a big deal of course, but it did leave me wondering. Was it because my sister had written about famous person, that probably many others had also written about, that led the selection of her entry? I was a little pissed off as well, because as a child that made me feel as if my role model was being compare with others’ role models and that made me angry. I always wonder, if I had written about Gandhi or Nehru instead, would I have made it in… But, no regrets, my decision still stands firm and if only I could find that piece from years back, I’d copy it here.

Blogging Challenge: Top 10 Keywords for Your Blog

Alright, here’s [[http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/07/03/blogging-challenge-top-10-keywords-for-your-blog/|another blogging challenge]] — listing the top 10 keywords for my blog. The challenge is to first “guess” the list, and then confirm/validate the list using real data.

Since my blog is not really on any “focused” topic — I write about whatever I like — its kind of hard to guess the top 10 keywords. But if I were to go by topics that I regularly end up writing about, I’d say (in no particular order):

* linux
* open source
* web2
* google
* tools
* ubuntu
* india
* wordpress
* ucsd
* books

Alright, to test this list I need to find some data. As Lorelle pointed out, short of running a full text search and doing some data mining on the database, its hard to get the real data. I’ll probably do the analysis for real at some point, but for now, I’ll just put together data from 3 sources: the tag cloud in my [[http://floatingsun.net/blog/archives/|archives]], the [[http://floatingsun.net/cgi-bin/awstats/awstats.pl?config=floatingsun.net|awstats data]] and data from [[http://analytics.google.com|Google Analytics]]. I’ve only recently started to log Analytics data though, so it will be biased towards recent posts.

**Top 10 tags from my tag cloud**:

I’ve excluded notational tags like “asides”, “daily” and “random”. I’ve only looked at //descriptive// tags (again, in no particular order):

* google
* blogging
* gradlife
* vim
* wordpress
* technology
* textdrive
* books
* philosophy
* linux

**Top 10 search keywords/phrases from Awstats**:

Keep in mind that this data is from //all// of 2006 — so probably the most reliable since it reflects what people were //searching for// when they landed at my blog. I’m not looking at 2004/2005 because its far too old to be meaningful. But again, it doesn’t really reflect the top “keywords” for my blog.

* ubuntu
* beamer
* paritrana
* linux
* latex
* thinkpad
* vim7
* review
* ucsd
* india

**Google Analytics data**

This is the least substantive of all datasets:

* don’t quit
* bsnl broadband
* sunflower pics
* ubuntu
* wordpress widgets
* paritrana
* latex
* euphoria
* udai
* remit2india

So I guess not a lot of people are searching for what I usually write about. Another way to look at it is that I don’t write about what people really coming looking for at my blog. But I’m ok with it. This blog is not a living. Its an experiment, a hobby, and most importantly, in my chronicle :-)

As Lorelle suggested, I tried to think about this a little more. It seems to me that while there are two types of audiences of this blog:
* the “regular” readers: I’m guessing this bunch mostly comprises of people I personally know, friends of friends, and (hopefully) some others who actually like reading my blog :)
* the “chance” readers: These are readers who chance upon my blog due to one particular post I wrote, or if they came across something relevant while searching on Google.

The first category are those who would leave comments with some regularity, on all kinds of posts. The second are those who would comment on one or two specific posts on a very specific topic. Clearly, the “search keywords” for my blog will be biased by the second category of readers (because the first category by definition isn’t really “searching” much just to get to my blog). This is reflected in both the Awstats and Analytics data (for example, paritrana).

While it is always good to have a lot of readers, I’m not driven by readership at this point. In the sense that blogging is a time consuming hobby, and much as I like it, there are other things that demand my attention :-) However, if I were to go about increasing the readership, I think one strategy would be to try and write on topics that would bring back more and more readers from the second group, and hope that by engaging them repeatedly, they would gradually move into the first group of readers.

Blogging Challenge: Blog About What You Know

So the first of the [[http://lorelle.wordpress.com/tag/blog-challenge/|blog challenges]] is to [[http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/06/29/blogging-challenge-blog-about-what-you-know/|write about what you know]]. This is a hard question for two reasons. First of all, you //yourself// have to figure out and realize what your expertise is. And second, how comfortable you are to admitting that fact in public. If you claim you know something but you don’t really, you’ll end up making a fool of yourself. If you //do// know a lot about a lot of things, you might be perceived as obnoxious by others if they think you’re trying to be a smart-ass.

Anyways, so coming back to the point. I don’t want to talk about something related to my research because I’m //supposed// to know that stuff anyways :-) But if you know me or have been around my website, you would probably also know that I’m a big fan of open source software. So in this post I’ll just mention some of the software I use for day to day tasks on the desktop. Lorelle says:

> Think about all that you know and choose the one thing you would arrogantly assume you were the master of. Then write about it.

And so it shall be. People generally come to me looking for tips on how to get things done on Linux. What are the best tools for doing task X and so on. So if you read this post and if there’s something you’ve been wanting to do on Linux but didn’t know how, feel free to post a comment and I’ll respond as best as I can. So here we go:

* **Editing**: This one is easy. I use [[http://www.vim.org|Vim]]. ‘nuf said.
* **Audio player/manager**: I use [[http://amarok.kde.org/|Amarok]]. Amarok is fast, full featured (podcast support, iPod integration, Wikipedia, Lyrics, themes, plugins), and tightly integrated with KDE. If you’re a GNOME person, I would suggest looking at [[http://banshee-project.org/Main_Page|Banshee]], [[http://listengnome.free.fr/|Listen]] or [[http://www.sacredchao.net/quodlibet|Quod Libet]].
* **Image management**: I use [[http://www.digikam.org]]. [[http://f-spot.org/Main_Page|F-Spot]] is also pretty good.
* **Instant Messaging**: [[http://kopete.kde.org|Kopete]]. Its not perfect, but it works well enough for me. They have voice support for Google Talk. I can view others’ Yahoo webcam but I’ve never tried sending webcam images over Linux. File transfer is flaky. But it integrates very nicely with Amarok and KAddressbook, and I haven’t found it any worse than [[http://gaim.sf.net|Gaim]].
* **Browser**: [[http://getfirefox.com|Firefox]] or [[http://flock.com|Flock]]. For non-HTTP tasks, [[http://konqueror.kde.org|Konqueror]] is **great**. A “browser” for “non-web” tasks you ask? Well, Konqueror is a browser for all sorts of things: your file system, your email server (both POP/IMAP), your FTP server, your SSH account, your man pages, your info pages, your camera, your audio CD, any other external media devices you might have, your SAMBA shares, your compressed files, your settings — you get the picture (here is a [[http://osdir.com/Article2159.phtml|related article]], and [[http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/8900|another one]]).
* **Email**: [[http://kmail.kde.org|KMail]]. GNOME folks might try [[http://www.gnome.org/projects/evolution/|Evolution]]. For an outlook-like replacement, check out [[http://kontact.kde.org|Kontact]].
* **System monitoring**: [[http://members.dslextreme.com/users/billw/gkrellm/gkrellm.html|gkrellm]] and [[http://munin.projects.linpro.no/|munin]].
* **Graphics**: [[http://www.inkscape.org/|Inkscape]]. [[http://www.gimp.org/|GIMP]] is good, but I don’t like it that much.
* **CD/DVD burning**: [[http://www.k3b.org/|K3B]]. Integrates very nicely with Amarok and Konqueror.
* **Presentations**: LaTeX [[http://latex-beamer.sf.net|Beamer]].
* **Video playback**: [[http://kaffeine.sf.net|Kaffeine]]
* **Video editing**: I haven’t had to do a whole lot of this, so I’m not really well versed with this area. But video editing support in Linux is clearly very very primitive compared to the commercial alternatives. I’ve heard some good things about [[http://avidemux.sourceforge.net/|Avidemux]] and [[http://www.kinodv.org/|Kino DV]].
* **Educational (science related)**: [[http://edu.kde.org/kalzium/index.php|Kalzium]] and [[http://edu.kde.org/kstars/index.php|KStars]].
* **Finance**: [[http://kmymoney2.sourceforge.net/index-home.html|KMyMoney]]

Thats all I can think of right now. If you know of any other interesting/cool applications, drop me a note. And do let me know if you found any information here useful.

* **Local search**: [[http://beagle-project.org/Main_Page|Beagle]] with [[http://en.opensuse.org/Kerry|Kerry]].
* **Application launchers**: [[http://www.kde-apps.org/content/show.php?content=33985|Katapult]] and [[http://yakuake.uv.ro/|Yakuake]] (yakuake is actually a full fledged [[http://konsole.kde.org/|Konsole]] replacement.
* **Network setup**: [[http://www.gnome.org/projects/NetworkManager/|Network Manager]].
* **BitTorrent**: [[http://ktorrent.org/|KTorrent]]. Almost like Azureus, but much less resource hungry.
* **LaTeX editing**: If you do a lot of LaTeX and Vim with Latex Suite doesn’t cut it for you, you might want to check out [[http://kile.sourceforge.net/index.php|Kile]].
* **Calculator**: [[http://qalculate.sourceforge.net/|Qalculate]]. I’ve [[http://floatingsun.net/blog/2006/06/24/671/|written about it before]].

Lorelle’s Blog Challenges

If you are a WordPress user, and you don’t already read [[http://lorelle.wordpress.com|Lorelle]], **you should**. She’s a prolific writer, and writes extensively on all things WP related. Her posts are in-depth, detailed, and accessible. Sometime back, she started a series of [[http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/06/28/introducing-lorelles-blogging-challenges/|blog challenges]] and I thought to myself: “hmm, these would make excellent post matter” :-) So I have shame-lessly decided to tackle each challenge, one at a time, in as much detail as I can. I figured it would be a nice way to keep the blog going with a nice momentum, otherwise often I just feel that I have nothing concrete to write about.

Here is a list of the current [[http://lorelle.wordpress.com/tag/blog-challenge/|challenges]].