Sunday, November 29, 2009

Does anyone care about Google Wave?

I have 35 Google Wave invites but there seems to be no takers! I think separating that from gmail is a big mistake and I haven't used it at all after the first few days. In a way, it's good that way as a dynamically updating email/chat combination will be a big distraction. I remember a tweet from a early user that he wanted a big PAUSE button :-)

If you want an invite, leave your email in a comment and I will send you one. I will not publish the comment ofcourse.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Know something About Sprouts

Sprouts are full of nutrition and the best source of a balanced food. Sprouts are alkaline in nature and hence improve the health in many respects. They are helpful in complete purification of the body and also improves the disease fighting capacity of the body. Sprouts also increase the nutritiounal value of food.

In order to maintain good health, 80% of the food should be alkaline and 20% should be acidic, which should necessarily include raw food and sprouts in good quantity. Sprouts are best medicine for the body. Sprouts are the germinated seeds of lentils or grains, and this germination process gives a lot of beneficial qualities for health.

Why are sprouts essential?

In the present life style, food habits are changing fast and in an unnatural way. This has a bad impact on our health. The main reason for most of the diseases is wrong food habits, life style and negative thinking. Sprouts are the best solution for improving wrong food habits. The use of sprouts as a part of daily food fulfills the need for alkaline and acidic food requirement, which is important for maintaining good health.

Use of Sprouts

Any healthy or unhealthy person can eat sprouts but the quantity should be less in the beginning and they should be chewed properly. Cucumber,  tomato, green chillies, coriander and lemon can be added to enhance the taste and also make it more nutritious. Sprouts are the germinated seeds of lentils or grains, and this germination process gives lot of beneficial qualities for health. If an ill person consumes raw foods then he or she can overcome health related problems very easily. If a healthy person eats sprouts regularly then he or she can prevent several diseases and also improve their health.

All grains cannot be sprouted. Sunflower, pulses, kidney bean, gram, soybean, fenugreek, and wheat seeds can be sprouted. These sprouts can be taken after consultation with doctor or an expert.

At the time of sprouting wheat, special care should be taken to avoid fungus formation. Use a glass jar to make wheat sprouts or some other special sprout makers that are available in the market and put it under the sun in the morning.

Benefits of Sprouts
  • Sprouts are natural, fresh and a complete food. They are easily digestible, they control weight and are tasty, besides being nutritious.
  • Some sprouts have more vitamin C, iron, riboflavin, niacin, and phosphorous. Therefore it is a good source of vitamins and minerals.
  • The non-nutritional elements reduce after sprouting.
  • The starch found in sprouts converts into glucose, fructose and maltose. It not only enhances taste but also improves the digestion. The process of sprouting is slower in lentils when compared to grains.
  • Sprouts reach the different organs of the body quickly and give instant energy.
  • Sprouts are nutritious for the body in a natural way.
  • Sprouts are a complete food and free from adulteration.
  • The body gets necessary nutrition from sprouts.
  • Sprouts help alcohol addicts to get rid of this problem.
  • Sprouts should be taken raw as boiling, cooking or roasting destroys its nutrition value. However, it can be steam cooked. Old people, who cannot chew sprouts, should grind it and eat the paste. This will not reduce the nutritional value of sprouts.
  • Sprouts of kidney beans, fenugreek, gram and other grains can be made in a glass jar or damp cloth. Wash the grains or lentils thoroughly in water at least three to four times. Remove the bad seeds and place the good ones in a glass jar and fill it with four times water. Soak overnight, and spread on a cotton cloth, tie it nicely and keep it aside. During summer season, sprinkle cold water on the sprout  bag prepared in this manner to retain the moisture. Sprouts appear the next morning. The sprouting process takes more time during winter season than summer season. Sprinkle water inside the jar also at regular intervals.
  • Do not store the sprouts for many days. Use fresh sprouts and wash it once in water before eating.
  • The seeds, grains or lentils chosen for making sprouts should be fresh, new, clean, and free from chemicals. Some seeds cannot be sprouted during this process. Select and remove the unhealthy seeds.
Best seeds suitable for sprouting:
  • Kidney beans can be easily sprouted. They contain vitamin A, E and C.
  • Fenugreek has a strong and bitter taste. It has curative power. It is used in the treatment of diabetes and arthritis.
  • Gram is sprouted since ancient times. It provides vitamins, protein and minerals. Sprouts are like nectar. Eat them raw to improve your health.

Friday, November 13, 2009

For a healthy heart, you need to rest too...

Author unknown - this was forwarded to me in email....

What killed Ranjan Das and Lessons for Corporate India


A month ago, many of us heard about the sad demise of Ranjan Das from Bandra, Mumbai. Ranjan, just 42 years of age, was the CEO of SAP-Indian Subcontinent, the youngest CEO of an MNC in India. He was very active in sports, was a fitness freak and a marathon runner. It was common to see him run on Bandra's Carter Road. Just after Diwali, on 21st Oct, he returned home from his gym after a workout, collapsed with a massive heart attack and died. He is survived by his wife and two very young kids.


It was certainly a wake-up call for corporate India. However, it was even more disastrous for runners amongst us. Since Ranjan was anavid marathoner (in Feb 09, he ran Chennai Marathon at the same time some of us were running Pondicherry Marathon 180 km away), the question came as to why an exceptionally active, athletic person succumb to heart attack at 42 years of age.


Was it the stress?

A couple of you called me asking about the reasons. While Ranjan had mentioned that he faced a lot of stress, that is a common element in most of our lives. We used to think that by being fit, one can conquer the bad effects of stress. So I doubted if the cause was stress.


The Real Reason

However, everyone missed out a small line in the reports that Ranjan used to make do with 4-5 hours of sleep. This is an earlier interview of Ranjan on NDTV in the program 'Boss' Day Out':

Here he himself admits that he would love to get more sleep (and that he was not proud of his ability to manage without sleep, contrary to what others extolled).


The Evidence

Last week, I was working with a well-known cardiologist on the subject of 'Heart Disease caused by Lack of Sleep'. While I cannot share the video nor the slides because of confidentiality reasons, I have distilled the key points below in the hope it will save some of our lives.


Some Excerpts:


·        Short sleep duration (<5 or 5-6 hours) increased risk for high BP by 350% to 500% compared to those who slept longer than 6 hours per night. Paper published in 2009.

As you know, high BP kills.


·        Young people (25-49 years of age) are twice as likely to get high BP if they sleep less. Paper published in 2006.


·        Individuals who slept less than 5 hours a night had a 3-fold increased risk of heart attacks. Paper published in 1999.


·        Complete and partial lack of sleep increased the blood concentrations of High sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-cRP), the strongest predictor of heart attacks. Even after getting adequate sleep later, the levels stayed high!!


·        Just one night of sleep loss increases very toxic substances in body such as Interleukin- 6 (IL-6), Tumour Necrosis Factor-Alpha (TNF-alpha) and C-reactive protein (cRP). They increase risks of many medical conditions, including cancer, arthritis andheart disease. Paper published in 2004.


·        Sleeping for <=5 hours per night leads to 39% increase in heart disease. Sleeping for <=6 hours per night leads to 18% increase in heart disease. Paper published in 2006.


Ideal Sleep

For lack of space, I cannot explain here the ideal sleep architecture. But in brief, sleep is composed of two stages: REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and non-REM. The former helps in mental consolidation while the latter helps in physical repair and rebuilding. During the night, you alternate between REM and non-REM stages 4-5 times.


The earlier part of sleep is mostly non-REM. During that period, your pituitary gland releases growth hormones that repair your body. The latter part of sleep is more and more REM type.


For you to be mentally alert during the day, the latter part of sleep is more important. No wonder when you wake up with an alarm clock after 5-6 hours of sleep, you are mentally irritable throughout the day (lack of REM sleep). And if you have slept for less than 5 hours, your body is in a complete physical mess (lack of non-REM sleep), you are tired throughout the day, moving like a zombie and your immunity is way down (I've been there, done that L)


Finally, as long-distance runners, you need an hour of extra sleep to repair the running related damage.


If you want to know if you are getting adequate sleep, take Epworth Sleepiness Test below.




Interpretation: Score of 0-9 is considered normal while 10 and above abnormal. Many a times, I have clocked 21 out the maximum possible 24, the only saving grace being the last situation, since I don't like to drive (maybe, I should ask my driver to answer that lineJ)

In conclusion:

Barring stress control, Ranjan Das did everything right: eating proper food, exercising (marathoning! ), maintaining proper weight. But he missed getting proper and adequate sleep, minimum 7 hours. In my opinion, that killed him.

If you are not getting enough sleep (7 hours), you are playing with fire, even if you have low stress.

I always took pride in my ability to work 50 hours at a stretch whenever the situation warranted. But I was so spooked after seeing the scientific evidence last week that since Saturday night, I ensure I do not even set the alarm clock under 7 hours. Now, that is a nice excuse to get some more sleep. J


Unfortunately, Ranjan Das is not alone when it comes to missing sleep. Many of us are doing exactly the same, perhaps out of ignorance. Please forward this mail to as many of your colleagues as possible, especially those who might be short-changing their sleep. If we can save even one young life because of this email, I would be the happiest person on earth.


Google Wave invites

If you want an invitation to google wave, let me know. I have about 20+ invites. Leave a comment with your email and I will send you an invite. I will not publish your comment....

Take Care of Your Heart



A chat with
Dr.Devi Shetty, Narayana Hrudayalaya (Heart Specialist) Bangalore was arranged by WIPRO for its employees

Qn: What are the ways in which the heart is stressed? What practices do you suggest to de-stress?
Ans: Change your attitude towards life. Do not look for perfection in everything in life.

Qn: What are the thumb rules for a layman to take care of his heart?

1. Diet - Less of carbohydrate, more of protein, less oil
2. Exercise - Half an hour's walk, at least five days a week; avoid lifts and avoid sitting for a longti me
3. Quit smoking
4. Control weight
5. Control blood pressure and sugar

Qn: Which is the best and worst food for the heart
Ans: Fruits and vegetables are the best and the worst is oil.

Qn: Which oil is better - groundnut, sunflower, olive?
Ans: All oils are bad

Qn: Does consuming bananas help reduce hypertension?
Ans : No.

Qn: Is eating non-veg food (fish) good for the heart?
Ans: No 

Qn: Will consuming more coffee/tea lead to heart attacks?
Ans : No.

Qn: How do irregular eating habits affect the heart ?
Ans: You tend to eat junk food when the habits are irregular and your body's enzyme release for digestion gets confused. 

Qn: How would you define junk food?
Ans : Fried food like Kentucky , McDonalds , samosas,Haldirams, Gardens and even masala dosas.

Qn: What is the main cause of a steep increase in heart problems amongst youngsters? 

Ans:  Lifestyles, smoking, junk food, lack of exercise in a country where people are genetically three times more vulnerable for heart attacks than Europeans and Americans.

Qn: You mentioned that Indians are three times more vulnerable. What is the reason for this, as Europeans and Americans also eat a lot of junk food?
Ans : Every race is vulnerable to some disease and unfortunately, Indians are vulnerable for the most expensive disease.


Qn: Is walking better than jogging or is more intensive exercise required to keep a healthy heart?
Ans: Walking is better than jogging since jogging leads to early fatigue and injury to joints 

Qn: Sometimes, due to the hectic schedule we are not able to exercise. So, does walking while doing daily chores at home or climbing the stairs in the house, work as a substitute for exercise?  
Ans : Certainly. Avoid sitting continuously for more than half an hour and even 
the act of getting out of the chair and going to another chair and sitting helps a lot. 

Qn: Can yoga prevent heart ailments?
Ans: Yoga helps.

Qn: How can one keep the heart in a good condition?
Ans : Eat a healthy diet, avoid junk food, exercise everyday, do not smoke and, 
go for health checkup if you are past the age of 30 ( once in six months recommended) ....

Qn: Many of us have an irregular daily routine and many a times we have to stay late nights in office. Does this affect our heart ? What precautions would you recommend?
Ans : When you are young, nature protects you against all these irregularities. However, as you grow older, respect the biological clock. 


Qn: How do you differentiate between pain caused by a heart attack and that caused due to gastric trouble?
Ans: Extremely difficult without ECG.
Qn: Is it possible for a person to have BP outside the normal range of 120/80 and yet be perfectly healthy?

Ans: Yes.

Qn: What are the first aid steps to be taken on a heart attack?
Ans: Help the person into a sleeping position,
place an aspirin tablet under the tongue with a sorbitrate tablet if available, and rush him to a coronary care unit since the maximum casualty takes place within the first hour.


Qn: Why is the rate of heart attacks more in men than in women?
Ans : Nature protects women till the age of 45.

Qn: It's still a grave shock to hear that some apparently healthy person gets a cardiac arrest. How do we understand it in perspective?  
Ans: This is called silent attack; that is why we recommend everyone past the age of 30 to undergo routine health checkups. 

Qn: Does cholesterol accumulates right from an early age (I'm currently only 22) or do you have to worry about it only after you are above 30 years of age?

Ans: Cholesterol accumulates from childhood..

Qn: How can I control cholesterol content without using medicines?

Ans: Control diet, walk and eat walnut

Qn: What is the routine checkup one should go through? Is there any specific test? 

Ans: Routine blood test to ensure sugar, cholesterol is ok.. Check BP, Treadmill test after an echo. 

Qn: Does headache pills increase the risk of heart attacks?
Ans : No. 

Qn: Will taking anti-hypertensive drugs cause some other complications (short / long term)?

Ans : Yes, most drugs have some side effects. However, modern anti-hypertensive drugs are extremely safe.

Qn: What are the modern anti-hypertensive drugs?  
Ans : There are hundreds of drugs and your doctor will chose the right
combination for your problem, but my suggestion is to avoid the drugs and go for natural ways of controlling blood pressure by walk, diet to reduce weight and changing attitudes towards lifestyles.

Qn: Are asthma patients more prone to heart disease?

Ans : No.
Qn: Do, in any way, low white blood cells and low hemoglobin count lead to 
heart problems?
Ans : No. But it is ideal to have normal hemoglobin level to increase your exercise capacity.

Qn: Marriages within close relatives can lead to heart problems for the child. Is it true?
Ans : Yes, co-sanguinity leads to congenital abnormalities and you may not have 
a software engineer as a child
Qn: Is there a relation between heart problems and blood sugar?

Ans: Yes. A strong relationship since diabetics are more vulnerable to heart attacks than non-diabetics.

Qn: What are the things one needs to take care of after a heart operation?

Ans : Diet, exercise, drugs on time
, Control cholesterol, BP, weight.. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Another browser to check out...

Just days after writing about the Minefield browser, there is another browser launched that deserves a look. Apple released Safari 4 Beta! Does any one launch a finished product any more? :-) Apple claims that Safari is the fastest browser. It is pretty fast and sleek. And its available on OS X and Windows both.

I didn't like the Safari browser on windows before but this release is pretty sleek. I downloaded it on windows and showed it to a co-worker. He asked - "is it chrome?" :) I am not saying anything more.

When you launch Safari, the blank screen comes up with the Top Sites you visit are presented in a nice galary kinda display. And Apple claims 150 features in Safari. Now if only I can flip the windows in my laptop's screen....

I am still playing around with it. It renders unicode just fine on windows. I vaguely remember that being a problem in the previous round. And I also just remembered that I am still supposed to be playing with Minefield...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

How to keep your computer malware free...

People used to call me rarely when their PCs were infected before. In the past few weeks, that rate has alarmingly increased. One of my friends, who is very careful, was infected with tidserv trojan and ended up reinstalling the OS. Two friends are still battling some virus/trojan problem that left them without the internet.

There are a few steps you can do to stay free of malware. Let's go thru them one by one.

1.  Don't use Windows!

Switch to some linux variant - Ubuntu is very pleasant and easy to use  - trust me. Or you can get a Mac and live happily in the OS X land. You can try Ubuntu without installing. If you think this is an extreme step, skip this and head to #2 below. You brave soul, just head over to Ubuntu site and download their desktop version.

You can download the disk image, burn it in a CD - blank CD if I might add, pop it in the machine, well - its already there as you just made it - reboot and try without install option. You have browser, open office and a bunch of games right off the CD and you can also get on the net with it.  You know what's cool? If you have room in your disk - say 5 to 10 10GB, you can install Ubuntu on the same machine. At boot time, you can decide which OS to boot into.  To do this, start windows, pop in the Ubuntu CD and follow the instructions to install. It's pretty easy.  The Wubi installer is awesome! If you are scared to try it, ask your 8 year old to do it. May be Ubuntu guys should run a 'cave man' commercial on this :-)

So you don't have anything to lose. You can try and work with Ubuntu. And if you have  some thing that works only in windows - old windows game, some windows software that you can't live without - boot into windows only to use them and get back to the Ubuntu Land.

2. Secure your computer

So you want to stay in Windows land. There are a few steps you can follow listed in this site. Spend a few minutes and go over the steps.

How To Secure your Computer or Network - A Step by Step Approach

The above site has been very good. Please go over the 4 steps and 8 steps and see which suits you. I use the following steps that have served me well.

3. Use non-IE  browsers

Screw political correctness. Use Mozilla's Firefox! Period. If a site doesn't work in Firefox, give it a miss :-)  If your bank or some work related site works only in IE, use the IE tab extension of Firefox and configure them to use IE engine from within firefox. So you can always use Firefox and those sites alone will use the IE rendering engine.

4. Block unwanted parasites with a hosts file

Do you get the joke in 'There is no place like'? :-) In a nutshell, thats what this site does. This site is so popular, it comes up as top one or second when you google for 'hosts file'. 
The site lists all sites that can potentially affect your web surfing experience and with their copy of hosts file, you can block all traffic to those sites from your computer. Just follow the simple instructions on that site and stay parasite-free. You can join their mailing list and you will be notified whenever there is an update to their hosts file. You can also learn more from their blog. Are you camped out in youtube nowadays? Then you should read about malware invading youtube!

5. Use Promomitron or Proximodo

Proxomitron is a proxy you use with your browser. Quoting from Proximodo site: This is a proxy server that you can install locally and use to remove ads, banners, harmful scripts or tracing headers on-the-fly while you surf the web. It was written by Scott Lemmon who is no more.   You can find lots of information in the official site:  You can also find a lot of support in these pages including a yahoogroups mailing list. The yahoogroups mailing list also has a lot of filters and goodies to work with Proxomitron.  Proximodo is a clone of Proxomitron and hopefully will be taken further.

6. Tools to fight malware

You can use these tools to rid your machine of malware.  Try the tools listed in this page. To that list, add Microsoft's Windows Defender and Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware.

So start with any of those and every month spend some time to update yourself on the tools and techniques. Also update your tools and run them periodically. Good luck and stay safe!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mozilla's Minefield browser

Mozilla's Minefield browser is awesome. I have been using it for the last few days and it seems to be pretty fast and the page rendering is crisp. You can download it here. Please don't replace your stable Firefox with this yet. Use it as a secondary as this is still in development. The current stable version is 3.0.6. And Minefield is 3.2! So it's really bleeding edge.

I follow a lot of Tamil sites and Minefield has the best rendering of that language so far. And most of the extensions seem to work. I will write more about the browser soon.

You can read some articles in the mean time here :-) Please tell them, I sent you!


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