The biggest Productivity bottleneck for gadget/tech-lovers, and how to overcome it.

We love our gadgets and tinkering with them. We like to use the best of the best and cannot wait to get our hands on the next ‘beta’ or ‘developer version’. We experiments with all the shortcuts, mail-management systems, inbox zero, GTD… But if you are like me, we always feel that our systems are not perfect and spend significant time on improving them. Ironically, the time spent on improving the systems makes our systems inefficient.

I spent a lot of time perfecting my system and religiously improving my system to achieve the next level of productivity. And, I realized that the biggest bottleneck in achieving the next level of efficiency and productivity is ‘my in-flux productivity setup’. I was not letting my ‘system’ to mature.

I decided to correct the system and here are some learnings from that.

  1. Knowing the limitations of your ‘system’ is key to achieving stress-free productivity. It is more important than knowing several fancy features in detail. We need to know the limitations. I messed my backup once as I was not aware of Apple Time-machine’s backup limitations. (Apple Time-machine is not for archiving or long duration backup.)
  2. Stick to one Operating System. I have worked extensively on all the major operating systems and have multiple machines configured with different operating systems. I tried my best to achieve a seamless syncing and uniform work-flow that can work on my MacOS, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android setup. But, it is impossible. Better, stick to one operating system, and a compatible mobile operating system and life becomes blissful. My vote goes for MacOS and iOS setup till google comes up with a better OS for laptops or Microsoft comes up with better mobile OS.
  3. Remove as many decision points as you can. My machines had 3–4 word processing applications, 4 note-taking application and subscription to 4 cloud storage/photo storage services. I was in love with Ulysses interface, Scrivener’s extensive feature list and forced to have Microsoft Word because of professional compulsions. I was using multiple mail clients (Airmail, Outlook, Mailbird, Thunderbird etc.) on my multiple machines. I realized that for every routine work I needed to make a choice which machine and which application to use. I made my life much easier by removing all the decisions and making my next steps automatic.

I am now working on perfecting my system and I am quite excited by the outcomes.

Dell XPS 13, 2015- Keyboard Problem

The compulsion of my professional environment often forces me to resort to Windows operating system. Especially for those spreadsheets and Microsoft Exchange requirements, when MacOS or Linux are still not up there. I use  Macbook Pro as my primary machine but I wanted to get an ultrabook which I could use for travel and for those tasks when I need a Windows based machine. Dell_Desktop

A quick research on the available options and their specs made it clear that Dell XPS 13 with its infinity display and Lenovo Thinkpad Cabon X1 were the two top machines with good computing power, battery life and portability. I went in favor of Dell XPS 13 as it offered a  display with mind-blowing resolution and form factor (smallest 13 inch machine). I chose the top-end version with i7 processor and touch screen display.

It was a costly purchase and I was expecting a great experience with the machine, which is essential for my sanity as my tolerance level with a few things is absolutely pathetic. And, I am really finicky about my gadgets. Unfortunately, there was a horrible experience waiting for me.

No doubt the machine is a gorgeous and powerful piece of technology from DELL but there is a big problem with this machine. The keyboard has a double typing problem. I started spotting double/triple typed characters while typing and sometime a random sequence of intended characters. First, I thought that I might be typing fast or not able to adjust to the keyboard. I changed keyboard settings to make sure that there is enough time between repeat of characters. Nothing worked.

A quick check online highlighted that the double typing is a major problem with this flagship DELL machine. Many people have faced the problem and it seemed that there was no solution from DELL. I made a complaint to DELL support and got really nice after sale-service support from them. They replaced my keyboard but it did not solve my problem. The only thing seems to work was downgrading of the BIOS from Vers 5 to Vers 0. It is strange as Vers 5 was to fix the double typing error but it aggravated it. Once I upgraded to Vers 5, it was impossible to work on the machine. I downgraded the BIOS again and made a complain.

This time, DELL support changed my motherboard, keyboard processing unit and keyboard. I tested the machine and realized that I did not spot double typed characters in my brief test in front of the service engineer. But soon I started spotting the double typing characters. Although, less frequently than earlier. I checked the BIOS it was set to Ver 0. I upgraded the BIOS and realized that it again aggravated the problem. I downgraded the BIOS and gave up on the machine. I can still do work on it but it has taken my confidence out of my typing. I do touch typing and pretty confident of my typing accuracy but with this machine I have to make sure that there are no typos.

Coming back to BIOS ver 0, this version of BIOS gives the better experience with the keyboard but it has other problems such as noisy laptop fan and laptop heating. I am waiting for DELL to upgrade the BIOS or accept that DELL XPS 13 has this problem and takes corrective measures.

The best blog-editor for Mac

I have been searching for a good blog-editor for MacOS and experimented with a number of them (Sadly there are not many available). Most of the professional bloggers on MacOS use either Ecto or MarsEdit and while these are decent options, these are not free and I would not say the best options for amateurs bloggers for two reasons. One, they are still have some bugs, and second, they are not free. There is another option Qumana, which is available all the platforms, but I find it rather slow and buggy.

Finally I settled down to Scribefire, a very powerful browser extension that is available for Firefox, Opera and Chrome and available for all platforms. It offeres all the features of a normal desktop blog-editor and very light on resources. It supports all the major blogging platforms (Blogger, WordPress, Liverjournal) and if you are using any of the free blogging platforms the installation is breeze. You just need to fill in the blog url and it automatically detects the settings.Scribefire-the blog editor

Though configuring self-hosted blogs is a bit problematic. I did not detect the settings for my this ( wordpress blog automatically and I had to provide the settings manually. But it is not that difficult. Here is how you can easily configure it.

1. First, login to your blog admin (htttp://blogurl/wp-admin)

2. Go to Dashboard–>Setting–>Writing and enable remote publising xml-rpc (tick it on if it is not already ticked)

3. Now install the ScribeFire extension in your browser, open it and click on Add a new blog.

4.  Fill in the blog url, Select blogtype -Wordpress, and put your api url (http://yourblogurl/xml-rpc/php)

5. Provide your blog admin username and password.

You are all set to blog now.



How to root your Samsung Galaxy S- The easiest way..

Disclaimer: Backup your phone data and do it at your own risk, this can brick your phone.

Rooting unleashes the enormous power available with Samsung Galaxy S (SGS)’s super hardware, but sadly there are no official application to do that. Also, there are many applications which are pain in wrong place to get a rooted SGS. Luckily, I tested an android app ‘z4root’ which is in my opinion the easiest way to get your SGS (with Froyo, android 2.2) rooted.

Follow the given below instructions for rooting your SGS. You need to know how  to transfer files from your computer to SGS; if you use Windows OS you can download latest version of Kies from official site of SGS and use that for transferring files. In case you are using MacOS, you can connect your SGS as external usb drive and transfer files.

1. Go to Settings>> Applications and check on “Unknown Sources”. This will allow you to install non-android market applications.
2. Now Download z4root from this link.. (remember this app is not  available in android market), save the apk file on computer and transfer it to your phone memore/external card.
3. Locate the apk file using file manager “My Files’ on your SGS and install z4root.apk file.
4. After installation launch the application and select “Root” option. And you are done.

This has worked pretty nicely for me on My SGS running froyo.

How to restore Samsung Galaxy S to Official Firmware

The one big advantage of Android phones that often turns out to be a big disadvantage for many android users is that these phones can be modified, tinkered, rooted, 'rom'ed and what not.. While this feature of android phones gives unlimited freedom to enhance the capacity of these phones and sometime improve upon the official firmware, it has a big risk of bricking your phone or making your phone really shitty. The other major problems that arise after tinkering/modifying the official firmware is that the official software 'Kies' does not recognize your phone and does not provide official updates, and  loss of warranty. So if you have played with your phone and now wants to restore to official firmware here is the step by step guide. This will help you in restoring your phone to Android 2.1 Eclairs and official firmware I9000DDJG4. After restoring your phone to this firmware you can use Kies to upgrade to Android 2.2 Froyo. (Though there is very rare chance of things getting wrong, but there is always a possibility so try at your own risk.)

But before you start the restoration process here are the the files /softwares you need to have (since you modified/flashed your phone, most of you would be having most of these.. or can download)

Odin Vs 1.03 Download (the software to flash your phone)

.Pit file Download pit .512 (required to map the partition in your phone)

I9000DDJG4 Firmware Download (the official firmware for Indian users, the 'DD' in I9000DDJG4  is indicate country code..if you are from other region you can choose appropriate firmware from .

The firmware file is password protected, Password is:

Now if you want to back up your phone using Nindroid google it to get the details.

1. Check the firmware by dialing *#1234#. Note down the current version of the firmware in case something goes wrong and you need to get help.

2. Install Odin on your windows machine.

3. Extract the firmware file in a folder and copy the pit file in the same folder.

4. Switch off your phone and power it on by pressing 'Power Button'+Home+Volume Down button simultaneously. This will boot your phone in 'downloading now' mode.

5. Start odin and connect your phone in 'downloading mode' to your usb port. The software will detect the phone. Now, choose 'repartition', 'reboot' options. And select the downloaded pit file in odin. Now in PDA option choose the extracted firmware file with '.tar' extension. There are two files in the extracted folder but you do not have to do anything with .dll file. Click on start and let the software do the rest. The phone will restart after installing the firmware.

If you phone hangs, just remove the battery and put it back and try again. It will work. Once you have restored the phone check the phone firmware by dialing *#1234#. It should reflect the new firmware 'JG4'

Now you connect your phone to Kies, it will recognize your phone and you can officially upgrade to the 2.2 Froyo firmware supplied by Samsung. This will restore all your warranties as well.