Waze : A new way to travel

Recently, a friend suggested Waze app while traveling. I remember seeing ads about Waze, but never looked in to it. This time I decided to try it out.

Waze is a mobile app which can be downloaded in App Store or Google Play. What it basically does is navigate your drive from place A to place B. It is just like a GPS or google maps. In addition to the navigation, Waze is driven by community. Other drivers or ‘wazers’ will help you reach your destination without much disturbances. Other wazers will post a road block, object on road, vehicle stopped on shoulder, reroute, construction zones, traffic delays, and most importantly Cops! Yes, your fellow drivers will post any thing they observe during the drive and you can get alerts while you are driving. How cool is that! You can like or dislike a post. You have to be a wazer in order to post an event. You can view other posts and comments even if you are not logged in as a wazer.

If you are a member, the app shows fellow wazers and the speed with which they are driving. Track other wazers along your drive and bump them. We even got few honks from other wazers on our drive! How cool is that. I mean there is no more privacy in your own car and in your pleasant trip! 🙂 If you have bored teenager or preteen, this app could come quite handy to engage the kids. They might help you with the directions and as well as any upcoming police vehicles. Remember, the app consumes a lot of mobile data. So, keep that in mind. However, this app replaces all other devices on your drive such as the GPS, Police scanner, radio, and so on. Waze app even has commentary by your favorite artist. If you are visiting a city with major events, the Waze app will give you live updates, traffic rerouting, marathon routes, and so on.

If you discovered the Waze app recently or you are a long time wazer, let me know what your thoughts on that! Happy Wazing, Wazers!

Fan Review

Shah Rukh In and As Fan is another evidence of the actor’s peak acting skills. The makeup and cinematography made the double role blend naturally but Shah Rukh’s action proved the negative role also is correct. 🙂 Only to his fans though!

With the technology, information is being transmitted at the finger tips before an event actually happened. Social media has made private lives public for common people. For celebrities who are under constant vigilance of the paparazzi, there is no more privacy. Stalking of celebrities are a common news now. Pictures of extreme private nature are being freely transmitted on the web. People getting in to the properties of famous actors, booking rooms adjacent to theirs, hacking in to social media accounts, emails, and so on are similar examples.

This situation has been showcased in the movie Fan. Shah Rukh is a famous actor in the movie and his fan is madly worshiping the hero since childhood. The craze continues in to adolescence and adulthood. Similarity in facial features adds to already possessive behavior. The fan imitates the actor in all walks of life and is often encouraged by the annual acting competitions held locally. Finally, the fan decides to meet the actor and sets off to visit him. However, the actor is having thousands of visitors everyday and is unaware of the fan’s behavior. People at that stage are used to the fan behavior but the actor is unprepared for this particular fan.

Situations turn worse and the fan is neglected by the actor. Fan takes actor’s professional rivalries as his own an ends up beating up the actors rival. There are viral YouTube videos about the incidents. However, this behavior is not encouraged by the actor and warns the fan to stay away from him. I think this was handled in a subtle manner. Most cases, immediately there would be police complaints and or security concerns. Now, the fan takes the matter very seriously and starts attacking the actor posing as his impostor. People start criticizing the actor for the impostor’s actions and the actor sees the issue.

The actor tries to handle it in a different manner by teaching the fan a lesson. But at the end the fan dies by committing suicide post shuffle and dialog exchange. The actor still kinds of remembers the fan whenever he sees the deluge of his fans. The ego and power establishing nature of the star has been shot very well and Shah Rukh is a natural. The craze and madness of the fan are acted out very well by of course our own Shah Rukh again.

I think the movie is depiction of stalking in real life as well. The never-ending trolling of people online and in person. The unnecessary imaginations and attachments lead to one situation or the other. One wise person said – “Love is another form of stalking”, which is true. But, love is suppose to set the other person free and like them no matter what. The relationship (if any?) which is shared between a fan and actor has been exaggerated in the movie. After all, it is just a story. Shah Rukh makes all the bad roles he acted such as in Baazigar and Dar look correct according to the character’s perspective. Similarly, Fan is also showing the same case subjectively.

Also, notice that there are no songs and no major female lead actors in the movie. You are all set to become Shah Rukh’s fans after watching the movie. Let me know what you think! 🙂

Integrate a WordPress Blog to Your Bootstrap Website

So, you built a great website in bootstrap. Your site is live and great, works fine in all devices and browsers, everything is perfect. Now, your customer wants to add a blog to your website. WordPress has great themes for blogs but none of them are going to look like your custom website. Here is how you can integrate the WordPress blog into your website and make the blog look same as the rest of your website. You can create your own WordPress theme!

WordPress Blog

WordPress blog is great as it is perfect for content management, backend, and frontend. You can add multiple users, media, plugins, comments, and so on. Backups and versioning is great with WordPress blogs. Corporates have been building full fledged websites using WordPress Divi themes. Inorder to integrate a WordPress blog to your HTML site built using bootstrap, you can follow certain steps and achieve same functionality.

Settings in the cpanel

  1. First install WordPress in your root folder and give the folder name blog.
  2. Download bootstrap and save in the wp-content-themes folder.
  3. Save additional css such as font-awesome and other css you used in your Bootstrap website in the same folder as bootstrap css
  4. Create new index.php, home.php, header.php, footer.php, sidebar.php, functions.php, page.php, single.php, style.css. Each of the files have their significance in creating your theme in WordPress.
    • index.php: Loads your blog
    • home.php: Loads the blog posts from the database
    • header.php: Loads the header in every post when the get_header() function is called
    • footer.php: Loads the footer in every post when the get_footer() function is called
    • sidebar.php: Loads the sidebar contents when the get_sidebar() function is called
    • functions.php: Needed to load the jQuery in wordpress package to this website and also the sidebar contents
    • page.php: Loads the page you create and can act as a template for every page in your WordPress blog or Website
    • single.php: Loads the individual post which the user clicks in a page with comments function
    • style.css: Loads the styles for this blog
  5. Edit header.php and copy paste the content including the navbar from your existing website template. Edit the css href to php function bloginfo. Load the stylesheet_url using the function. Add wp_head and wp_enqueue_script to load jquery in this page. Save header.php. In the navbar list, add wp_list_pages function to get the additional blog page you created in the WordPress admin login. This way, your WordPress blog will be at the end of the menu items in your website. After the blog is setup, go ahead and edit all the pages of your website and add menu item blog to link it to the blog page.
  6. Edit footer.php and copy paste the footer section of your website template. Remove all the javascript functions at the end and add wp_footer() function. Save footer.php.
  7. Edit sidebar.php and add the function dynamic sidebar to get the sidebar content on all pages and make the sidebars widget friendly. It will load the sidebar contents if there are any existing. Save sidebar.php
  8. Edit index.php and load the get_header() function first. Next, in a loop check the posts and load the posts and the title and content using the the_title and the_content functions. If there are no posts display a message, saying there are no posts. At the ends, load the get_footer() function.Save index.php
  9. Edit page.php. Load the header and footer contents. Divide the page into two columns and load the posts in the left column and the sidebar in the right column. Save page.php
  10. Edit functions.php. Add function to register the scripts such as bootstrap.min.js and script.js in the page. Then enqueue the scripts of your page. Add another function to register the sidebar contents and the before_widget, after_widget, before_title, and after_title style of the sidebar contents. Save functions.php. You can override the default jQuery that comes with the WordPress install with a latest version in the functions.php.
  11. Edit home.php and load the header, footer and sidebar. In a if condition, check if there are any existing posts. For every post, get the post title, links, content, and date, using respective functions. If there are no posts, display a message. Save home.php. WordPress uses home.php to load the blog posts. Save home.php
  12. Edit single.php and and load the header, footer and sidebar. Get the contents of the post and get comments section. This page will be loaded if a single post is clicked. Save single.php
  13. Edit style.css and import the bootstrap, font-awesome, and other css used in your website. Edit the navbar and footer styles to load exactly the same way as the rest of your website. WordPress uses style.css to load the style for your blog. Save style.css.
  14. If you have multiplepages in your blog, you can have a front-page.php and load the header, footer, and sidebar there.

Settings in the WordPress login

Login to your website and blog using the WordPress credentials. Delete the existing page and create a new page called Blog. In the Settings, go to Readings and set the page to load the latest posts. In the appearance settings select the new them you have created. Go to Live Preview and test the site if it is loading properly. Make your current theme as the default theme for your WordPress and start writing blogs. Voila! you are almost done.

Keep checking for the WordPress updates and backups. Test it in all devices and browsers for responsiveness. Maintain your site and the WordPress blog at the same time with minimal distraction to the user. Add some ads to your blog to make some dollars!! 🙂

Tawk.to – live chat on your website

I recently came across this tool tawk.to that is used for incorporating live chat on your website. What’s amazing about this tool is that it is completely free and can be installed on your android or iPhone as well!

Tawk.to is a web tool that is free to signup. You need an email and a valid website where you want the live chat to be installed.

Once installed, you can manage the chats from your desktop or laptop. Users with valid email address can be configured as an agent. Many agents can be set up and the users can start chatting.




 

The web chat is a must for all websites who want to sell their products or services. The instant chat lets users get answers immediately. Their queries can be answered and any further sales leads can be developed.

Tawk.to application has inbuilt tracking and analytics of the chat and the website in general as well. It gives you the number of visits and pages where the users spent and so on.

All the chat history and communication between the agents is stored in the application. In addition, agents can answer the chats on the go by installing the mobile app. The chat sessions can be recorded on the phone and stored in the computer applications.

Agents are able to see what the user is typing in real time and it gives time to prepare for the answer. Time when the chat ended, when the user left the website, if the user liked or disliked this tool everything is recorded. The application lets you set the status message as available, away, or invisible.

I thought it is similar to any customer service web application but the answers are not customized or suggested.

Overall, tawk.to is a cool asset for your website and let’s you instantly connect to the user! Let me know your thoughts.

Assassins Creed Syndicate

In 19th century London, there are no rules. The city has gone to the dogs. Crime and corruption rules the streets of a once-great empire that stretched continents. One man controls it all, but he doesn’t live at 10 Downing Street. Crawford Starrick is a crime boss with roots in the evil Templars, who have plans for world domination. And now he sets his sights to India. Who will save this dying city and stop Starrick in his path of destruction?

Two people is all you need.

Jacob and Evie Frye are twins with a mysterious life, but we don’t know about their lineage until towards the end of the game. (No spoilers) Their father and mother stood against Starrick at the beginning of his horrible reign. As the Frye twins free London, they meet many historically significant characters, like Alexander Graham Bell, a genius inventor and inventor of the phonetic telegraph, more widely known as the telephone. Another figure they meet is famous detective Frederick Abberline, a Seargent at the time. (Search him up. He had a pretty interesting life) That specific Inspector happened to work on the Jack The Ripper cases.

This installment of the Assassins Creed franchise brings about a new tool, which is a grappling hook, which the twins can shoot out of their specially-made gauntlets. The classic hidden blade makes an appearance. Since there are two protagonists, you can choose to upgrade Evie and Jacob differently, as they have the same skill tree, but there are some skills that are specific to Evie or Jacob, such as Chameleon, which allows Evie to, simply put, “disappear” into thin air if she crouches idly. There is also a different weapon system, with three different types of weapons making their appearances:

  • Kukris: an Indian weapon meant for confrontational-type attacks. Ideal for Jacob.
  • Cane-Swords: an inconspicuous can which can extend into a deadly and stealthy sword. Ideal for Evie.
  • External Knuckles: includes Brass Knuckles. Can stun enemies very well. Ideal for either of the twins.

There are many more details in the game, and the only way to experience all of it is to play the game. Out of 5 stars, I would rate it 4 out of 5 due to the amount of bugs. Other than that, it is a very good game.

Note: all images and trademarks belong to Ubisoft.

How Social Media Can Improve Your Business

With the age of instant messaging and social media marketing, it is a clear fact that social media can improve your business. It is also proven that the success of your business largely depends on the reviews on all the social media websites. Here are a few suggestions to leverage social media.

Reviews, that can Make or Break
People in modern days have been relying more on the internet to preview a business before placing an order with them. Be it an online business or local business, customers are more and more relying on the reviews online. Word-of-mouth suggestions and opinions are always being considered before spending a dollar. Signing up for a new activity for your child, buying a new software or phone, eating out at a restaurant, all these chores are heavily being done based on the reviews!

Professional Organizations
There are certain professional organizations that provide reviews an ratings of businesses exclusively. These include Yelp, Angie’s List, Better Business Bureau, and so on. Customers look up a business on these websites before approaching a new business. The review providers are charging a heavy amount but you are not assured of the results! Professional associations with other local businesses is also a good way to improve your reach.




Social Media Reviews
Social media such as facebook, twitter, pinterest, instagram, dribble, youtube, google plus, and so on are also other great platforms to create a specific page for your businesses and making contacts through them. You can also leverage Linkedin to create a social presence. It is always better to have your own website to promote your business. The advantage of the social media marketing is that you can track the people and increase your marketing efforts based on the population. Here are some important tips to keep in mind about social media marketing:

  1. You can link your twitter and facebook accounts with the email address. Once you post on twitter, it will be automatically updated on facebook.
  2. In the same way, if you post on facebook, your post will automatically roll on twitter. How cool is that!
  3. Similarly, you can link your YouTube channel with facebook and twitter so once you post a video on YouTube, your other channels are automatically updated.
  4. It is very important to create a Google Business account and add your local address on the Google Business site. Its inbuilt tracking and insights will let you know the number of unique visitors and the type of visitors.
  5. You must create a public page on Google Plus account and link other social media accounts to it. Make contacts with other local businesses in Google Plus. Thus, Google will automatically send traffic to your website based on your local settings.
  6. You can link your WordPress account to facebook and twitter so that your posts automatically appear on all your social media networks.
  7. Also, create separate pages for each of your locations so that when users search for your business in that location, your name will appear.

Social Media also lets you to track the visitors so you can acquire their email addresses and make a email campaign to promote your business. It is important that the reviews on these websites and media are also a deciding factor whether a customer is likely to choose your business or not. With more users heavily relying on the reviews, you can leverage the available tools to improve your business reach.

YouTube Application Program Interface (API)

YouTube is the most popular video source for world wide web users. As a developer, if you would like to embed a YouTube application in your website or application, there are a number of tools available. However, there are some settings and customization required if you want to modify according to your requirements. Here are my insights.

YouTube API

To incorporate YouTube API into your website you will first need a security key or API Code. You can create one for your project by creating a google account if you don’t already have one.

  • After logging in to the Google Developers Console, create a new Project by giving title and description
  • Add corresponding API’s to your project by selecting YouTube Data API’s to start with
  • Create a security key for your project using the left menu for the domain
  • You can also create a OAuth key if required and add the domain and referrers




Connecting to YouTube

On the Google Developers YouTube page, there are scripts available in different programming languages such as Java, JavaScript, PHP, Python, and so on. You can follow the guidelines there to create the pages. If you are using JavaScript, you can create separate java script files and html file as given. However, you can include everything in one html page separating the scripts.

In the code replace the existing sample text with your security key that you generated earlier. Try running the code in a browser and everything must work fine. However, the console may show certain errors such as ‘cannot find property of undefined’ and so on. Start debugging the code and see where the error is occurring.

In most cases, the security key is incorrect or if you are trying to connect from a http to https websites. In other cases, the errors pop up due to the x-frame origin set to the sameorigin. If you check the response of the gapi, you can see the json response and all the resulting video lists.

Search.List

YouTube API has a function search.list which is used to search the youtube videos and get a response. You need to specify a search string and return type. Also, the maxResults or safeSearch options can be set based on your preferences.

Once you get the response json, the next step is to embed the video code of each video in to the iframe player on your html. You can use a player for web,ios, or andriod applications based on your device. Create an id to the iframe and set the source of the iframe to the youtube video code onclick of the video title. You can have a function to append code to the source url. In addition to displaying the video title, you can also display additional details about the video such as the thumbnail image from the json.

Other YouTube Functions

There are other functionalities that you can include in your website such as uploading a video, creating or modifying a playlist, searching a channel, downloading a video, getting the videos from users channel, and so on. The code is already there in the Google Developers, but the rel challenge lies in how you incorporate into your application. It also depends on how you customize the code and also taking care that your application does not crash due to the YouTube API. You also need to take care of the minimum units available per day and always upgrade more depending on the use.

Picking Up High School Courses

Okay, its the time of the year where schools send reminders about picking up high school courses. If you have a child or dependent who is in high school, you will feel the pain or pressure of picking the courses. Ideally, the student is supposed to pick the course, but most parents tend to get confused about which ones are best for your child. Here are some tips from my perspective.

Objective

The main objective of choosing courses in high school is to let the student decide their future. However, the schools have their own way of limiting the students so you have to follow their guidelines. If your child is planning for a college or university, the objective of the high school courses is to meet the college requirements. Th current courses which the student takes will highly determine which college or course they are going to take in college or future. Of course, there is always a chance of dropping the class if they don’t like it. But, it is not advisable as it will not give you the credit or departmental honors in the respective division. So, planning way ahead is mandatory.

Graduation Requirements

Most high schools have minimum number of credits required to graduate from high school. Those vary from 20 to 25 or higher. Any additional credits, it is the students choice. But, in general high schools require 4 years of Math, 4 years of English, 3 years of Social Studies, 2 or 3 years of Science, 4 years of PE, and so on. In addition, Consumer Education or Volunteering may be must. They may also provide two or three Electives. In general, these requirements match the respective state university or community colleges.

Choosing the Courses
It is really amusing how the schools set conditions about choosing the courses. I think they customize the conditions based on their 5 year plans. Also, the schools are highly selective about which students take which courses. Before approving any course, they make sure the students meet certain requirements or test scores.

There are hundreds of courses a school offers under different departments. But, the student is left with only minimum choices after selecting the mandatory courses. The student must select the electives in a manner that his college requirements are met. Dual Credit courses offered at local community colleges might be a good idea to carry the credit to both high school and the college

Choosing orchestra in high school is highly selective. Even though orchestra is considered to be an easy grade, there might be many hours required for each concert. If you take orchestra, it will show your commitment to follow directions and work in teams. Also, it is better to take for four years which show your perseverance over a period of time. The same applies for choir or band.

Choosing a world language is also a big question for many students. Most colleges require a world language as their prerequisites. So, the student is forced, in a sense, to participate in a world language hoping to be useful in future profession. Again, it is suggested that they take the world language for four years in high school.

Students must be watchful about the courses the schools set as mandatory to be selected for a class rank. If you need to be considered for a class rank, you have to take the courses set by the school. Else, you will not have a school rank on your final transcripts! Not fair, huh. 🙂

Clubs and Sports

After the courses are selected you will be given option to take participation in Academic clubs, Debate teams, Student Leadership, and so on. Similarly, it is suggested that you be a member of some school’s sports team of your choice. This will showcase you as an ‘overall candidate’ when you apply for college.

Finally, it is essential the student put in lot of work hours after school to study all the subjects they signed up for. Good work ethics and practice is suggested for success in secondary school that lays foundation for college and future!

Happy New Year 2016

Here’s wishing you all a Very Happy New Year 2016!

2016 is supposed to be the Red Monkey Year according to Chinese Calendar. Their New Year starts late in Spring I guess. The USA gears up for the Presidential elections and subsequent policy changes in 2016. President Barack Obama is ending his eight year term in 2016 and looking forward for retirement. 🙂 Is it going to be Hillary or Trump. That would be an interesting elections.

Women started to vote and drive in Saudi, Finally! This may foresee an influx of changes for the daily lives of the people living in that area. India is preparing for the Make in India challenge and expecting more work in 2016. China relaxed its one child policy to have more people working and contributing to the economy in 2016.

Employment based immigrants are expecting more relaxations in their work statuses which will enable them to take up more jobs. The flexibility will allow them to relocate and take promotions in their jobs in 2016.

The World is getting more environmental awareness and climate changes. Flooding seems to be a greater challenge worldwide and controlling the subsequent diseases is tough too. Terrorism and cancer are still  a major concern to global population. Advance technologies in space are allowing private organizations to host space trips soon!

Students are facing higher rates in college fees. Interestingly, technology makes them to deliver more and they are expected to achieve greater heights in 2016. Tough competition in colleges and employment will result in better prospects for all in 2016!

Well, that’s my forecast for 2016. 🙂