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Simran Gill » tech

Posts Tagged ‘tech’


Daily LinksBookmarks for May 27th through June 11th


Daily LinksBookmarks for March 4th through March 5th


ArticlesSan Diego Rundown – HIMSS 06


After far too long a delay, you can finally see the pictures that were taken during my trip to San Diego.

San Diego is an easy city to get around, with not too much traffic to worry about – people were friendly, and the weather was nice. Unfortunately, I didnt’ get much of a chance to hit the beach (it was dark by the time I left the conference everyday) – So I had to take a picture of the sand at night.

The conference had a great line-up of speakers focusing on all topics health care IT related. Some of the notable speakers included:

  • Mark R. WarnerEx-Governor/ Entrepreneur – Very animated, high-energy, -not what you would expect from a typical politician. Stressed the need for government to take an authoritative role in the deployment of health care IT. Mentioned his experiences with Telecom industry (he was founder of Nextel) and said that we would have been in the same position as ten years ago, had not the government stepped in.
  • Craig Barrett - ex-CEO of Intel – Came on stage with a whole collection of crazy gadgets. Barrett is a high impact speaker – Directly contradicted Mark Warner’s views on government intervention/stimulation. Says private sector needs to take initiative.
  • Dana CarveyComedian - Funny. recently had heart work done. Kept on turning up the heat on his material to see how far he could push it. One of the jokes that came during the end was: A mother find her young son reading S&M websites on the internet – she goes to her therapist and asks what to do – Therapist says, “There are a couple of options, but I’ll tell you what not to do – You sure as hell shouldn’t be spanking him” (
  • Tom RidgeFormer Secretary of Homeland Security- Didn’t see him speak – was busy elsewhere

The collection of select speaker presentations can be found here.


LegacyUpgrading the Blog’s Internals

My previous site
My Previous Site

Hopefully you haven’t noticed, but I’ve upgraded the website. Yes, beneath this same old icy blue exterior lies a new beast, a beast that will protect me from the crushing weight of Cialis and Viagra spam (I was getting up to 60 website comments a day that were spam – since the upgrade not a single one).

Because I’ve modified the code for the website, I figured the upgrade would have been a difficult process, but wordpress 1.5 proved me wrong. After realizing how easy it is to manage custom themes, I just might be tempted to add a little “jazz” to the site.

While upgrading, I got a chance to see some of the early posts I’ve made to the site – dating back to when it was hosted at SFU. It’s hard to believe, but the site has been up and running for over 3 years now (you can see some of the designs to the left and right) – fortunately for me, the technology behind the site has progressed as new tools have become available. Despite it being easier than ever for me to post (both pictures and articles), I find myself posting less than I did when the site was first up. Maybe the intrigue has worn thin?

the original
the Original Site

When I started with the site, I knew nobody with their own website – and it was understandable because the technical barriers that existed. Since then, however, the “blog” has entered the scene – and we’re now witnessing an explosion of information unseen since the advent of the printing press. This explosion of information has proven to especially rewarding for cat lovers – as it seems that a disproportionate volume of sites focus on the pet-grooming habbits of lonely bloggers living in Wisconsin.

Besides the growth in pet-grooming blogs, there has been increasing number of business blogs (especially VC’s), economics blogs, and MBA Blogs. These have provided me with plenty of enriching reading material. The bottom line is if you are interesting in either reading blogs (you’ve probably handle this, if you’ve made it this far), or writing a blog – it is probably worth your time.

Blogging gotten so big now, that I’ve even got real life friends who blog (In no particular order):

  • Roberto - A Korean look at engineering
  • Lea - My old Newspaper Editor @ SFU
  • Dennis - MSoftie who is linked in
  • Lilian - Exploring China and India
  • Klaus – Never writes in it, but should
  • Heman - Hasn’t written in a long time, but has a picture of me up
  • Riaz - Isn’t a true blog, but I hear one is coming soon
  • Biggie – had a site, but it is toast now.

Let me know if I forgotten anyone, or if you have a site I didn’t know of.


ArticlesSpam and OpenSource

This site has been getting slammed by Spam over the last week or so, with up to 120 Spam comments being posted per day. My inbox was overflowing, so I had to make some changes.

Comments are now improved. There is no moderation, and they will be posted as soon as they are submitted – the catch is that you have to enter a small code before it will be accepted. A small price to pay, no? The comments on the daily links section, however, have been temporarily suspended. Because of the coding I’ve used on that section, they’ll have to be upgraded at a later time.

The blogging system I use for this site is WordPress, and it has been an excellent choice. Since I switched over form greymatter about a year ago, the community has grown exponentially, and it has become the new leader in blogging tools. One of the great benefits is that it is opensource – anybody can look at the code, and make improvements, and the best improvements get included in the next versions of the software. In putting the site together, I’ve definately “stood on the shoulders of giants”. Mixing and matching different techniques, and using it as a learning tool.

WordPress has been a great learning tool, but blogging definately isn’t for everybody (if you want to start playing around with it, let me know – and I’ll direct you to some more resources). There are , however, some great new opensource programs that I’m anybody could love.

Mozilla Firefox

I’ve meant to mention this a long time ago, but have never got around to it. This is a replacement for Internet Explorer (IE), and it has been getting tons of press lately.

If you’re not sure what Internet explorer is, I’ll provide a quick analogy. First off, both IE and Firefox are web browsers. What is a web browser? it is the way to get websites off the internet. A web browser is to the internet, what a TV is to the TV Channels.

So, according to this analogy, your favorite search engine, google.com, is analagous to your favorite televistion station, FOX TV – Meanwhile your old browser, IE, is analagous to that old hitachi black and white TV your grandma had. If you’re ready to step up to the world of high definition, you’ve got to see Firefox – It’s the internet’s version of a 50 inch LCD flatplanet wide-screen HDTV.

With Firefox, there are tons of great plugins that you can use to customize your browsing. I’ll give you an example of how I’ve used mine. I’ve been trying to practise my spanish lately, and while I’m reading spanish website, I occasionally come to a word I don’t know. With the Conquery Firefox plugin, all I do is select the text, right-click, and a separate window (or tab) will open up with an english translation of the word – and this works on any website.

Here’s a list of some the other plugins I’ve been using:

  • Sage - An integrated RSS reader
  • Mouse Gestures – Custom Navigation – no need to ever press the “back”, or “reload” buttons
  • IE View - Opens a site in IE, this is useful if the site has a bad design, and won’t work in Firefox. An occassional nuisance and disadvantage resulting from IE’s overwhelming marketshare
  • Gmail Notifier – Let’s me know when I’ve got new Gmail
  • Bug-Me-Not – This is great for websites that are free, but require registration. Saves alot of time while reading the news
  • Web Developer – This is priceless for anyone who does webdesign work. You’ve got to pick this up.

Here are some key built in features that make switching worthwhile: tabbed browsing, live bookmarks, faster load times, built-in pop-up blocking, no more spyware, customizable themes.

I’ve been using it since version 0.6 – it’s now at 1.0 and is definately ready for mass adoption.

Mozilla Thunderbird

Thunderbird is an Email client, News reader, and RSS reader all in one.

It’s currently at version .9 and is slightly less polished than it’s cousin Firefox – Nonetheless, I’m very impressed with the progress the program has made.

It is the best free RSS reader I’ve found – and does a great job of integrated mail, news and RSS together. If there was an integrated calendar, and pocketPC sync support (my old axim X5), I would have no hesitation switching from Outlook (I use Lotus Notes at work, but that is another story).

The last time I used thunderbird I was dissappointed. The interface was not at the level I was expected, and it was missing some key features – like integrated RSS. The latest version has surpassed my expectations, and surprisingly, I prefer the interface to Outlooks – They have even added the mail grouping function I love so much.

Bottom line is that if you don’t use calendar, and don’t have a pocketpc (I think palm is OK) – you’ve got the see Thunderbird.