On CodeProject.com: How to create a font samples document for your system

My latest article will be useful for web designers and graphic artists.


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Subhash Browser for Android v2016.06.01 adds new context menu options in feed reader

New context menu options for images loaded by web feeds preview have been added. These options make it easier to save images and copy their addresses.


A bug affecting the browser in fullscreen mode (switching tabs causes a crash) has been fixed.

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Javadhu powder – a healthy non-toxic non-alcoholic perfume


Muslims use attar because it is not based on alcohol. Similarly, Javadhu powder is a traditional cosmetic used in South India for millennia. Today, it is made by village self-help groups and others on a cottage industry scale.

Last year, my father gave me a bottle. I had read about it in literature but never used it before. The bottle ran out recently and I got a new one from a shop selling pooja articles. It costs less than 20 ruppees.

In the previous bottle, the powder had become dry. It still was very fragrant. The powder is slightly moist and the bottle needs to be tightly capped. Instructions in the bottle suggest taking a pinch in the palm and adding a drop of water before applying to the body. I simply rub the powder in the chest hair and arm pits. The fragrance does not go away even after a day!

Javadhu is an economical and safer alternative to sprays and deodorants. Currently, this is the only cosmetic I use apart from coconut oil & shikakai (soap nut powder).

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Cartoons of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin & Hillary Clinton

Outlined in Inkscape & colored in Gimp

Donald Trump

Vladimir Putin

Hillary Clinton

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Bike trip to Palani from Palakkad

If you want to avoid the crowds, choose a weekday and start early. By early, I mean that you want to get there by 8-9 o’ clock. Around noon, the nada will be closed for an hour. So, try to get the hilltop much ahead of it.

From Palakkad, Pazhani is over a 100 kilometers. You take the Palakkad-Pollachi road and go via Pollachi & Udumalapettai to Pazhani.

Once there, you go to the right of the main entrance for the free parking area. I don’t know if there is a separate parking space for two-wheelers but if you want to park it there chain your vehicle to a post. Otherwise, some nuts will box your vehicle in. I found that my vehicle had been moved behind a post & the nuts had parked two SUVs on either-side with no space to reverse. I have good upper-body strength and lifted the bike by its wheels one-by-one in about two minutes. Initially, it looked like I was stuck there for good. So, beware!

On the left of the main entrance is a free storage for footwear. Remember to get the numbered token.

Also on the left is a shed for tonsuring the head. You need to buy a ticket from the guard before sitting before the barber. Nearby, there is a bathing area (Rs.20). You should have brought a towel and a spare set of clothing. Also maybe a cup, Dettol and plastic bag for wet clothes.

In summer, it is better to climb the hill after a meal. I thought I would take my lunch after darshan and to my dismay found myself feeling woozy midway. On previous trips, I went up with no breaks. This time, my vision grew dark around three-fourth of the way and I decided to take breaks, even as female casual labour around me were transporting heavy headloads.

At the hilltop, I bought a prasadam ladoo and became re-energized. I also bought prasadam puliyokarai, which I ate after darshan. It was as good as perumal-koil puliyokarai.

My darshan was delayed by the closing of the nada. The crowd was heavy and grew heavier by the hour. Finally, after several hours in the serpentine queue I had a good darshan of Dandayudhapani in all his glory.

The stone-paved area around the temple and the steps going down becomes very very hot at noon. I decided to take the rope car on the way down but queue area was way too crowded. I took my lunch at the hilltop restaurant and went downhill by foot.

On the way back, I stopped for some palm fruit, near Karumapuram, about 10 kilometers before Kerala border. The guy asked me if I wanted neera and I said, “Fine, one glass”. But, there was no glass! He made a palm leaf bowl instead and disemboweled a palm fruit into it. Then, he poured some neera into the bowl.

Neera is the clear sap harvested from a cut made in the palm flower. It is non-alcoholic. (It becomes fermented (alcoholic) naturally to form toddy.) I have had neera before from a Khadi store and it was only mildly sweet. It also had a raw aftertaste. This was different. The water from inside the palm fruit (analogous to coconut water) seems to have overwhelmed everything and oversweetens the serving. Both TN & Kerala governments are n
now promoting the sales of neera.


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RIP Michael J Kaplan (of Sorting It All Out blog)

If MS (Multiple Sclerosis) did not kill him, then another MS (Microsoft) certainly had helped him meet fate.

In his heyday, Michael Kaplan was one of the most popular guys on MSDN (a Microsoft website devoted to software developers.) At Microsoft, Kaplan lead the team on Unicode, languages, software keyboards and internationalization. His MSDN blog Sorting it all out was followed by thousands of developers all over the world. Kaplan explained complex issues and helped out other developers suffering from problems with Unicode and Microsoft Windows software internals. [Microsoft was a member of the Unicode consortium and Kaplan was probably on of its important representative at the organization. The Unicode consortium’s job is to organize the scripts of world’s languages ready for the keyboard.]

Kaplan suffered from multiple sclerosis and moved in a wheelchair. This did not seems to have been a major impediment to his colorful life.

I got introduced to his work when I read an article by him in MSDN library (a software knowledgebase bundled with Visual Studio). Several years later, I learned that he had joined Microsft and was involved in software keyboards of various languages that Microsoft Windows had to support. He had been to India as well. He was a guest speaker at the World Tamil Congress. (His Twitter feed photo has him wearing an angavasthram with which he must have been honored at the event.)

One fine day, I realized that the RSS feed for the blog had not been updated for a long time. (Strangely, when I visited the blog URL, the Microsoft website asked me to log in. I logged in with a hotmail ID but it did not show the blog at all.) Microsoft had deleted the blog – all nine years of it!

Kaplan created SIA2 blog on blogspot, where he posted that the SIAO was gone and cached versions were available from Archive.org. On a WordPress blog that he created, Kaplan explained that he unintentionally courted trouble twice on his blog.

Over that decade, I’ve gone through twenty seven “romantic” relationships (the life of serial monogamy!). I’ve lost relatives, gained nieces, burned bridges, lived through being snowed out for a month, met half a dozen execs and wrote about most of them, had an online nervous breakdown over a best friend passing away and then later finding out she was interested in going out with me.

In all that time and with those thousands and thousands of blogs, there are only two that I sincerely regretted.

The first one saw my manager’s manager’s manager’s HR Generalist put me on Paid Administrative Leave while she worked with experts to determine if VP Brian Valentine was justified in simply firing me (that skip skip level manager defended me in a meeting with Brian that I was not invited to).

In the end, it turned out be mainly due to the art (it was that infamous RSOD post that Slashdot covered because of the art.

The second one was after I was granted a patent that I honestly believed never should have been issued. My manager at the time asked the site admin to take down the entire Blog and he did that so thoroughly that I can’t even look at any Blog on the site!

Then one day, Microsoft informed him that his blog was gone for good and there would be no backups given to him either. (Kaplan clarified this to Spolsky to whom I sent a mail about the sorry saga.) Kaplan could tell his followers on Twitter and probably Facebook what happened to SIAO. Most of them, like me, were on RSS and never knew what happened.

Kaplan wrote about reinflating the blog using Archive.org’s copy. He bought a domain for siao2.com and it almost worked for a while. Someone else did a better job at http://archives.miloush.net/michkap/archive/ and now all siao2.com links redirect to this new archive.

The last update on his Twitter feed is from September 2015. He had apparently died a month later. His Facebook page is gone. In August, Kaplan lost his job at Microsoft as part of Satya Nadella’s Reduction In Force exercise. Microsoft was nasty to him in his final months, when he was “out on disability”.

Just putting it out there if you wanted to email me at my Microsoft email address; it is not valid anymore. I am not dead and really does want any rumors starting up just because Microsoft had other things to do. I had just been sent an email informing me that some stock was going to vest at the end of August… No word yet on the money they owe me for lost and/or damaged stuff, and no word on the 75% of three days plus 60% of three days overpayment that was sent to collections, but I expect that I’ll find out about how they plan to settle that soon enough.

Microsoft was so coy and diplomatic that they asked a collection agency to get back some overpayment!

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How to write citations with Markdown & retain links in your article’s references section

I use Markdown to write articles but it surprisingly does not support citations. Markdown simply removes all references after it creates hyperlinks in the output. Today, I was writing an article today with markdown and decided to find a solution.

I found that markdown references need not always be to an external URL – they could also be referring to intra-document anchors. So, I used an HTML-style anchor (prefixed with # character) in the markdown reference. Then, I placed an empty HTML SPAN tag before the citation with the anchor name set as the value of the tag’s ID attribute. This trick takes advantage of the fact that markdown ignores HTML tags and outputs them without processing. Here is the markdown.

By the [1920s][nbc], commercial radio networks run by the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) had become popular. Although the television was invented in the 1930s, it did not take off as factories and materials were diverted for war production. Thus, radio enjoyed two decades as the most popular medium for news and entertainment. It was known as the *[golden age of radio][golden_age]*. After World War II, TV displaced radio in popularity. Radio served a niche segment of people on their commute. In the age of the Internet,


[nbc]: #nbc
[golden_age]: #golden_age
  * <span id="nbc"></span>
  National Broadcasting Company history files - [https://lccn.loc.gov/2002660093](https://lccn.loc.gov/2002660093)
  * <span id="golden_age"></span> 
  Golden Age of American radio - [http://www.britannica.com/topic/Golden-Age-of-American-radio](http://www.britannica.com/topic/Golden-Age-of-American-radio)

In other words, markdown references link to SPAN tags instead of external URLs. The span tags are located in the citations. So, the links lead to the citations and the citations then lead to the external URLs.

The markdown references can be placed even outside the references section, as the former gets completely removed from the output. For readability, just add a newline after the SPAN tag.

HTML output with the citations still intact.

HTML output with the citations still intact.

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