Categories
Gyaan

If you really love reading my posts

I read few blogs daily. And the credit of course goes to google reader. So seriously, if you haven’t tried it yet, please do so. You will never ever miss any blog posted by your friends. I wrote a post some time back, on how to use it. You might find it useful.

By the way if you go back to another earlier post, click on the snapshot picture put up there to have a look at the enlarged version of the image. If you observe carefully, you will notice a ‘Feeds’ link below the ‘starred’ link on the top left side. Saw that? Do you recall that regular gmail doesn’t have any such link? What is this ‘Feeds link’

Well, besides a change in appearance, using the gmail skin that I introduced in that post (read the rest of that post to get the skin funda), you get this option to have a ‘feeds’ link in gmail. And the beauty is, each time a new post is put up on a blog that you have subscribed to using google reader, a number in brackets pops up right to the word ‘Feeds’; exactly the same way numbers come for inbox, spam, draft, various labels etc. And more so, when you click on the link, the whole google reader interface opens inside the gmail interface. This is something too cool! So now, I read all the blog posts in gmail itself. And reading blogposts from blogs that you have subscribed to voluntarily is way better than going through the boring forwards that keep coming to your inbox (or in the ‘forwards’ label folder in my case).

So guys and girls, if you really love reading my posts and posts from some other friends of yours, and you already are an avid gmail fan, this feature is something that you should setup soon. All you gotta do is run your fingers on keyboard for sometime, and the way you read blogs will change. Forever. And for the good of it. 🙂 Best of luck with the whole finger running job.

Categories
Gyaan

Gmail Skin

Would you like gmail to look like this on your computer? If yes, then this post is for you. This will work if you use Firefox.

Click here to download the add-on called ‘Better Gmail’. As you click, a yellow bar will appear across the page that will read “Firefox prevented this site (amritvatsa.blogspot.com) from asking you to install software on your computer.” Click the “Edit Options” button and allow amritvatsa.blogspot.com to ask you. Then, click on the link again. Press the Install button in the dialog box, and restart Firefox.

Once Better Gmail is installed, go to your Gmail account to see the enhancements. To turn a feature on or off, visit the extensions Preferences dialog and select or deselect the appropriate checkboxes. Refresh Gmail to see the changes.

Categories
Gyaan

Google Reader

I have half an hour to go before the next class begins. And I thought I would use this time to blog about one of the latest offerings of google. If you love browsing blogs, you are going to love it. If you are a blogger yourself, you will love it more.

The stuff that I am talking about is google reader. The refering url www.reader.google.com will direct you to the site. This basically is a feed-reader. Those who know what feeds are, must have understood the concept. And for those who don’t know what feeds are, they are data formats used for serving frequently updated content on net. Talking about blogs, I as a blogger need to syndicate a web feed, and those who want to get an update as soon as I post a new blogpost need to subscribe to it. It is much more simpler than it sounds. Let me come straight away to how google reader works and why it is good.

You will need to have a gmail account to login to google reader. Once you have logged in, locate the “add subscription” button and click on it. Then all you have to do is to enter the url of the blogsite (or any other site which you think syndicates a web feed) and click on “add”. Job done. You can add as many sites as you want. So what next?

Well, now the whole interface looks pretty much like your gmail inbox. You can read the posts in google reader. And later whenever you login, you will be shown any new post that has been put up on any of the sites that you subscribed to. This makes it a lot easier for you to check your favourite blogs without having to open each site separately and then later realizing that only some of them had been updated.

For those who have their own blogsites, there’s one feature which they should like. It is the ‘sharing’ feature. You can mark any post that you have subscribed to, as ‘shared’. After you have checked one or more posts on google reader as ‘shared’ you can generate a clip that can be put up on your own blog. The clip will display the shared items. For example, notice a box somewhere on the right side here on my page (Vatsap recommends). The items that you see here, were marked as ‘shared’ in google reader. Get the funda?

Hope this post is found useful to those who didn’t know about aggregators. Aggregators? Well, that’s the popular word for any feed-reader that helps you assemble n number of feeds together (what google reader essentially does). Anyways, time to catch up for class. Leave comments for me to follow up.

Categories
Gyaan

Recycle it

I was sitting on a friend’s laptop a few days ago when I noticed that he had nothing on his desktop at all; no files, no folders, no shortcuts. Well, there was almost nothing except of course the ‘recycle bin’ icon which apparently cannot be deleted. Is it?

Today I suddenly got the enthusiasm to go ahead and say adieu to the I-won’t-leave-you icon and it took me less than five minutes to figure out how to do it. Finally, I am happy that I no more have that useless icon on my desktop. I might keep other stuffs on the desktop or might not; don’t care much. But I definitely don’t understand the need to let the recycle-bin icon permanently sit there on the limited space that exists. No more! 🙂

Categories
caricatures Gyaan

How to draw a Caricature in 7 easy steps

This blog-post is the result of a persistence demand from my bro. He had been pestering me to give him fundays on drawing a caricature. I will try to be as systematic as I can be. Before going ahead with the fundays, let me first define what a caricature is, for those who are not too sure.

A caricature is a representation, especially pictorial or literary, in which the subject’s distinctive features or peculiarities are deliberately exaggerated to produce a comic or grotesque effect.

I am going to talk about the ‘pictorial’ representation in this post because that is where I am good at. By the way, I guess you have figured out already that ‘exaggeration’ is the key here. But how does it happen that even when you do not draw someone the way that person actually looks like, people still end up recognizing him/her? This is the art! And this is what I’ll ‘try’ to teach in the rest of the post.

I have used Fabre Castle Water Soluble Colored Pencils to make the sample caricature here. You can use any other material that you are comfortable with (like sketch pens, water colors, poster colors or just plain graphite pencils). The basic rules remain the same. So let’s now go straight away to the steps.

Step 1

Choose your subject. My subject here is the face of a known Indian personality (once again on my bro’s request). I could have chosen to draw a caricature of something other than a human face, like say a monument. But drawing facial caricatures is what really gives me a kick because it certainly is the most difficult thing to do amongst all the options. It is difficult because you never know if at the end, the caricature will finally look like the real subject or not!



Step 2

Study your subject’s features. Give some time to just looking at the subject, and try to work out the various features which have a scope for exaggeration. A long nose can always be made longer, and a round face can always be made rounder. Try to visualize the yet-to-be-made-caricature in your mind. High cheek-bones? Wide lips? Thick eye-brows? White teeth? Once you have some clue on what to ‘attack’, you are ready to move on to the next step.

Step 3

It’s action time now. Pull out a pencil and draw those first strokes. Try to give an overall shape which is not the same as the real thing, but also not completely off the mark. I have made the face slightly thinner here and stretched the nose a little too much. But remember not to mess with each and every feature. You have to be careful in selecting the features which are easiest to distort without affecting the resemblance too much. Keep trying for some time, using as light curves as possible, till you are sure that what you have drawn is a decent stuff to proceed with.

One tip that you might find helpful is that it’s always too risky to mess with the distance between the eyes and eybrows. Sometime’s you might be able to pull that off, but in general its safer to play with nose or jaw or lips. But then, you can always experiment. 🙂
Step 4

Once the rough sketch has been rendered, show some confidence and draw bolder lines and kind of settle down on how the caricature is going to look. You can add some more details which were missing in the initial stroking stage.


Step 5

It’s coloring time guys/girls. Pull out a couple of more shades and fill up the areas lightly. It’s always fun to begin with hairs because even if you mess with them, it wont affect much! 🙂

A lot of people get confused when it comes to drawing hairs. What they draw doesn’t look like real hair. Here’s the tip. Draw them the way the hairs actually are, i.e. if the hairs are long, use long continuous strokes (like in this caricature) and if the hairs are short, use shorter strokes. That’s the only trick, or so have I always believed! 😛

Step 6

You pretty much know what follows next. You gotta complete the coloring thing. Shading the face is slightly tricky but with practice you will kind of get the funda. Some parts need to be darker and some portions need to be lighter. Look at the original picture to figure that out and shade accordingly. It’s easier to begin with the lighter parts. Once you have touched the lighter areas, you can proceed with darkening the remaining areas.

A lot of people hesitate to go for really dark strokes. But it’s not a good idea. At few places you have to use the darkest possible strokes (can you notice some of them in the figure shown below?). Once again carefully observe the original pic and you can work that out yourself. It’s mostly about careful observation than anything else.


Step 7

The seventh and the last step is always about the finishing touches. This is important if you really want your work to look like a professional visual piece. Since I used water soluble pencil colors, I picked a wet brush to remove the pencil lines and add softness to the caricature. I also did some more pencil work here and there, and of course added my stupid name! 🙂

That’s it. The caricature is done!

Go ahead, try out few caricatures and let me know if my fundays were helpful. By the way I agree that this caricature is kinda not so Hrithik-like! But then, remember this always: you never really know how much the caricature that you make will finally resemble the actual subject (till you have become a true professional of course). But it’s okay. Even after having drawn plenty of caricatures myself, I still fail so often (like you just saw :P). That however, has never prevented me from trying with more and more subjects and that’s what I would ask all you guys to do! Have a nice time.

You can see other caricatures that I have made by browsing through the caricatures label.

If you would like me to do a caricature for you, let me know about it by leaving a comment.

Categories
Gyaan

For all the orkuters out there

If you are an orkut addict, happen to use Firefox as your web browser and have been looking at efficient ways to scrap-chat, I have got a good news for you!

Click on this link, download the extension, install it, and enjoy!

Once installed, this extension lets you reply to any scrap posted to your scrapbook, without the need of following a two step process of first going to that friend’s profile and then going to his/her scrapbook! A brilliant extension! I intalled it just now (took me less than two minutes) and I should say it’s a cool idea.

Categories
Gyaan

Google Calendar

I love the guys at Google. They keep coming out with one new thing or another and most of the stuffs that they come up with are pretty good. In fact some of them are just amazing, like say Google Earth!

As I logged in to my gmail account today, I noticed this thing called “Google Calendar“. Hope it proves useful like most of Google’s services (especially gmail).