Category Archives: Extras

An Open Letter to Present and Past Students of BIT Patna

This letter is dedicated to all present and past students of Birla Institute of Technology Mesra, Patna Campus (BIT Patna), who feel that they committed a mistake by joining the institute. I wrote this in February 2013, in response to several negative comments on a Facebook Page about BIT. I am publishing a slightly modified version of the same here.

I am from first batch (2006-10) of BIT Patna . When we took Admissions, it was hardly a College. No Internet, No Canteen, No Gym, No Power Backup. Somehow they had made two Classrooms, two laboratories, few rooms in two hostels and a small library. There were no roads, the Institute Campus was full of Mud, no Bus, no Medical Facility, no Games and if that was not enough some Herculean Restrictions were imposed on us in the name of Discipline. Above all there was NO one to guide us, no one to inspire us by telling the fancy stories of lucrative job offers at the end of 4 years.

A Pic of BIT Patna Institute Building taken by me
A Pic of BIT Patna (Institute Building) taken by me in March 2013

We were left completely blank during initial days. We had to adapt to the Circumstances and we learnt how to live with the worst of it. I envy you guys who have been given so many facilities,  but always complain.  Here, you have got enormous opportunities to excel in life, provided you realise it. Anyway, everyone realises this 1-2 year after leaving the college.

I had dropped out of one of the most prominent Govt. Engineering College (with 100 % Placements) of  Jharkhand,  just to join BIT Patna and that too against my Parents’ Wishes. I have no regrets, there were guys who left NIT Patna, COE Jadavpur University, MNIT Allahabad too to join BIT Patna.

You cannot realize the dilemma when you drop a well established College for the sake of a new institute with uncertain future. However, here was something called Brand BIT, an Internationally acclaimed Brand which made me feel important and superior whenever I met outsiders (except with those of IITs :-) )

We had no luxury as you guys have. We just lived with a hope that someday things would definitely go better. But this did not happen, when the time of placements came, Global Economy went into Recession (2008 Global Recession). All our hopes were crushed, yet we had prepared for the worst. Most of us planned to go for Higher Studies. Somehow everyone from the first batch  got placed and many even got into Top global companies.

During my College Days, as a part of a Survey I had to visit offices of several Government Departments in Patna. Not a single place was there, where a Senior Position was not occupied by some Alumni of BIT. In fact, my task was greatly simplified all because of them. The moment they learnt that I was from BIT, they started treating me  like their younger brother or a colleague. The same applies to many Government  and Private offices in the Country.  All you need is to believe in where you come from and who you are.

Today when I meet someone and  say that I am from BIT, they always hold me in high esteem. Respects automatically start showering the moment the a person comes to know about my college. Get outside India and tell someone that you are from Birla Institute of Technology and see the difference it makes.

What I want to mean is that by joining BIT you have joined the Ivy League of Technocrats who have played a very important role in shaping the future of this nation since last 50 years and who are regarded as one of the best breed of Engineers. You have the same degree which is hold by likes of Anjan Lahiri, Deven Sharma, Dr. Ganesh Natarajan,Sanjay Nayak,Himanshu Kapania, Niraj Sharan and many more.

Take Pride that you are from BIT and elevate yourself to the level of those who had been once a part of BIT. Getting a First Job is not a big deal, you would definitely get one. It might not be more paying than that of your friends in other colleges, but in the long run you will certainly have better opportunities due to this tag of BIT.  Not only in Career, this brand will help you in every sphere of life, provided you know how to use it. You made a smart choice by joining BIT and now its the time to show your potential to the outside world.

 

What Entrepreneurs can learn from Poonam Pandey ?

Poonam PandeyIf  You use Facebook or Twitter and still ask me “Who is Poonam Pandey ? “, I would advise you to deactivate your Account and go to sleep.

It is not that I am a big Fan of Poonam Pandey, but anyone who closely monitors her success with Social Media will be forced to give her a standing ovation. After all, how many Bollywood Actresses could garner over 3 Lakhs Twitter Followers and an equal number of Facebook Fans. Or, which Actor in Indian Cinema could create so much Buzz about his Debut Movie, in the way Poonam has done?

Her personal website is one of the most visited one in India and if she wishes to commercialize it, she could easily earn  handsome amount of Dollars each month.

Companies like Intel, HP, Essar, MMT advertise like hell to create a Social Media Buzz, while Poonam does it by tweeting just 140 characters.

As an entrepreneur I find it quite interesting example of Social Media Success and the way it has shaped the Business.

1. Forget Advertising, try Socializing

Advertising gains consumers, but Socializing retains them. Brands keep on spending the Lion’s Share of their Marketing Budget on Adwords and Facebook Ads, but many of them dont spend on bringing them back or hearing their Complaints.

A Classic Example –

I was impressed by the initiative of @2WinFounder  to reply every random Tweet made about Parking Frenzy.  Needless to say, when a Gamer receives a Thank You tweet from the CEO of a company which made the game, he is bound to come back again and again.

2. Twitter is like a Volcano , while Facebook is an Ocean.

I have been made to believe that Twitter is like an Active Volcano. The sudden rise of Poonam to Stardom was due to her controversial Tweets only, which were accidently (or luckily ) noted by Thousands of Twitter users. A Single Tweet from your handle can fly you to the Top, no matter who you are. So Pick an Idea, compose carefully, Tweet and Pray like hell.

You have to be word selective while Tweeting  and it must draw attention.  Writing a Tweet is similar to writing a Business Tagline.

Most of the Viral Brands like Poonam Pandey, Faking News etc. engage more on Twitter. But their Tweets are interesting, catchy and each of them brings them 100s  of new followers.

In contrast Facebook, having 10 times more users than Twitter, resembles an Ocean. Once your brand is made on Facebook, whatever garbage you post gets likes and comments. But  creating a brand on Facebook is a long and Smooth process. Like, Rome it cannot be built in a day.

3. Push and Pull Trends

One cannot predict what is going trend the next moment. While a PUSH is given by the incident that triggers the trend, the Real PULL is given exerted by millions of Twitter users who follow the trend in their tweets after spotting the trend.

Every time, something trends big, it becomes  Flash Headlines and News Media starts promoting it for their own. This is the reason why you spot Abhjjit Mukherjee trending top on Twitter even a fortnight after making his controversial statement.

Poonam is a veteran of both PUSHers and PULLers. When she feels that Buzz around her has been low for a while, she tweets something which draws attention of large number of her followers and a trend is pushed to the top of Twitter. A recent example is #EarRingsLikePoonamPandey.

Often she pulls the attention of Twitter users by tweeting with the available trending topics. More often her tweets are on the top for a given hashtag.

 

(This was the first part of this series. I would publish a second part soon focusing on the Brand Management and Market Capitalization of Poonam Pandey).

 

The Beautiful Hill Stations of Simultala, Bihar

WordPress 3.5 has been out for past couple of days. Initially I was reluctant to upgrade because during last three upgrades, I had to manually delete the cache in order to restore the Admin Page.

Thankfully this time it did not happen :-) A new Feature which I encounter in 3.5 Version is the Advanced Gallery System which offers an easy way to upload and manage  images.

I wanted to test it, hence I am uploading a set of Photographs taken from Train during my last visit to Bihar (My Home State).

No one would believe me, if I say that these pics are from Bihar, but that’s the reality.

The location is areas of Jamui district along the borders of Bihar and Jharkhand. The place is  known as Simultala, a small suburban town. Indeed these beautiful landscape forced me to take their pics.

How to increase website traffic using Link Buliding

For  content based websites like blogs, news, travel and free classifieds portal, Search Engine is the major source of traffic. Traditionally, the owners of such websites depend on Search Engine Optimization(SEO) to engineer the  porcess of getting maximum Search Visibility. SEO is definitely one of the prime requirement of a good website, however Google’s PageRank  algorithm also takes into account the in-bound(someone linking to you) and out-bound( you linking someone) links  on your site.

To gain better Search Visibility  you must make a rational use of these links.While a link-back from a superior site(in terms of Pagerank) can drastically improve  your Search Visibility, a link to any  inferior website(usually spam or pirate website)  can have negative impact on it.

Here we shall mainly docus upon the first aspect, i.e. getting link back from some  quality websites. You can try the following

1. Link  Exchange Program- Always put a section on your website   for information about the Link Exchange..i.e. Whom to Contact and How?.

You can get a list of websites interested in Link Exchange at various link directories. Few of them are http://www.link-exchange.ws/link-exchange/ and http://www.linkalizer.com/

First get listed on these websites and then try contacting the  relevant website owners  for link exchange partnership. Make Sure to verify the website which you are linking back   for the quality of its content and genuineity.

One Simple trick is  to ask yourself, whether the proposed link will be of any use to your visitors. If NO, then desist from such links.

2. Directory Listings: Web contains many user created directory of websites, most of them have high Page Ranks. Getting a link-back from such sites will definitely boost  your traffic.  It is generally  free to add your websites.Try adding your websites here

About Us

Crunchbase

Google  Directory

Make sure that you provide correct and impressive content about your websites otherwise it may not get included.

The above tips are industry-best practices  and have been tested and verified with time. Do let me know if you have any questions

From Fail to Pass- A must read

In December 2010, 200 students of Pune’s DY Patil College of Engineering signed up for the Infosys screening test. Only 40 of them made it through the aptitude test.

For E Leader Jugal Advani, this wasn’t bad news – it was a business opportunity. Jugal teamed up with his coaching centre’s faculty member Santosh Dubey and launched Spark Educational Services, an on-campus training centre for recruitment exams. Jugal and Santosh began by compiling a set of 200 sample questions and answers, and put together a book. The book was launched during E Week at Rs 150 per copy, and all the 100 copies were sold out within the first two days.

Excited to witness the huge demand, Jugal is now planning to expand Spark’s services to include a six month training program for third year students to help them crack their recruitment tests.

“It was a need that is easy to figure out. For graduating students, placement is key to their success. However they are ignorant or not inclined towards aptitude tests.  I was eager to experience entrepreneurship, and I realized that a training institute will be a great idea,” Jugal reveals.

How to Beef Up Your WordPress Security

Guest post written by Thomas Frank. How can you increase your WordPress security. WordPress is a popular blog platform that has, in recent months, transformed into a great content management system.

As with any good CMS, WordPress has some security features built into its core. However, the default installation is still vulnerable to certain attacks. Fortunately, there are several easy steps you can take to harden WordPress against these attacks.

locked.

Common WordPress Attacks

Here is a listing of the most common types of WordPress attacks:

  • Brute-force login attempts – This is an attack where a bot or script continuously tries to login to your WordPress Dashboard as the admin in order to gain Administrator access to your blog.
  • SQL injection attacks – Attacks like these use input boxes on your site (login forms, comment forms, etc) to try to inject malicious SQL code into your WordPress database.
  • Spam comments – Many bots simply come to your website and post spam comments to build backlinks to their owners’ spam sites. Most of these comments are obviously spam, but some can be surprisingly legit-looking. Usually, though, you can tell spam comments apart from others by their very general nature and suspicious-looking username, even if the spelling is good.
  • Attacks against old versions of WordPress – As WordPress is open-source, its code is available for anyone to view. One downside of this is that hackers can easily exploit bugs in the code. The result of this situation is that old versions of WordPress are constantly under attack by scripts design to exploit bugs or flaws.
  • Attacks against vulnerabilities in plugins – Even if your WordPress installation is up to date, plugins can be a security issue as well. Many WordPress attacks are crafted specifically to exploit bugs or known vulnerabilities in plugins, so having a lot of plugins can potentially open up your site.

Fortunately, protecting WordPress against these attacks isn’t terribly difficult. Here is a listing of things you should do:

Keep WordPress and related files updated

Keep your WordPress installations updated to the latest version. As of right now (3/1/2011), the latest version is 3.1. 3.2 is set to release sometime this year. Make sure to update plugins as well. As noted above, out-of-date plugins can pose security risks.

If you have a bunch of plugins that are deactivated or unused, it’s best to delete them. Each plugin you have can pose a security risk if there is a flaw in it. If you have a plugin you plan on using later, store it outside of your WordPress installation until you need it.

Create security through obscurity

This security concept is based around the fact that most automated attacks will target default WordPress parameters. Therefore, make sure your installation doesn’t have these default parameters. Delete the user ’admin’. Brute force attacks will almost ALWAYS try to login with this username.

  • If you’re just setting up your WordPress installation, you should be able to change this name from the get-go when going through the configuration process.
  • If you already have an established installation, you can simply change the admin username via the command line. Find your installation’s database and enter the following SQL statement:
// Note that you should replace 'prefix' with your table prefix and 'newusername' with your desired admin username.
update table prefix_users set user_login='newusername' where user_login='admin';

Do not use the “wp_” table prefix for the tables in your MySQL database.

  • The database linked to your WordPress installation has a number of tables that drive the installation’s functions. For continuity’s sake, all the tables have the same prefix; some examples under the default prefix are wp_posts and wp_comments.
  • You should change the prefix to something other than “wp_” when first installing WordPress. Almost all SQL injection scripts out there will attempt to access tables with this prefix, so you’re unfathomably more well-protected by doing this.
  • Access your associated MySQL database (always good to make a backup first), and start renaming all the tables. If you haven’t installed WordPress yet and are on first time setup, you can skip this step. Example:
Rename table wp_comments to wangchung_comments;
  • You’ll also need to change the table prefix in wp-config.php, as shown here:
/**
 * WordPress Database Table prefix.
 *
 * You can have multiple installations in one database if you give each a unique
 * prefix. Only numbers, letters, and underscores please!
 */
  = 'wangchung_';

You may notice that doing this locks you out of you Administrator account. No worries! There’s just a couple more commands to issue at the MySQL command prompt:

UPDATE newPrefix_options SET option_name = REPLACE (option_name, ‘oldPrefix_’, ‘newPrefix_’);
UPDATE newPreifix_usermeta SET meta_key = REPLACE(meta_key, ‘oldPrefix_’, ‘newPrefix_’);

Blocking access to unneeded information

WordPress can give away too much information. Here’s a couple ways to prevent it from doing that: Prevent WordPress from giving specific error messages upon unsuccessful login attempts.

  • WordPress, by default, will tell you when you’ve entered a wrong username or password. If someone is trying to guess these things, these error messages can sure help them narrow down their choices! It’s best to make WordPress throw a generic error instead. Open up the functions.php file, which is in wp-content/themes/yourtheme and add this line to it (somewhere outside of a function):
// code to hide feedback upon unsuccessful logins
add_filter('login_errors',create_function('', "return 'Please try again.';"));

Move wp-config.php up one directory

Moving this file out of your public folder makes it less accessible. WordPress is built to check for this file one directory up if it can’t find it in the default location.

Prevent malicious modification of the GlOBALS and $_REQUEST variables

Many attacks will attempt to inject malicious scripts into your database. Prevent this by adding the following code to your .htaccess file:

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} (<|%3C).*script.*(>|%3E) [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} GLOBALS(=|[|%[0-9A-Z]{0,2}) [OR]
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} _REQUEST(=|[|%[0-9A-Z]{0,2})
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ index.php [F,L]

Back up, back up, back up

Regularly back up both your WordPress files and your database. The more you post content to your site, the more you should back up. This is not only to protect you from the bad guys, but also from yourself when you try new things

  • You can use an FTP program such as FileZilla to back up your files to your local computer.
  • Refer to the plugin list below for a great plugin that will help you regularly back up your database.

Essential security plugins

  • Akismet – Comes pre-installed with WordPress, although you’ll need to apply for an API key to use it. You can do this through Akismet’s options panel in the Dashboard.
  • AntiVirus – keeps your blog protected from spam and malicious scripts.
  • Capability Manager – Allows you to fine-tune the capabilities of each user role. For example, you could give Contributors the ability to publish posts.
  • IP Ban – Allows you to ban IPs from seeing your site. This can be useful, but I don’t recommend simply banning every IP that tries to log in as admin. Most of these are spoofed, and DHCP will make them change anyway.
  • Limit Login Attempts – limits the amount of times an IP can try to log in before locking it out for a specified amount of time. You can also configure it to lock out that IP for a much, much longer time upon a certain number of lockouts.
  • SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam – places a CAPTCHA on your login page. This, coupled with Limit Login Attempts, should keep out brute force bots forever.
  • WP-DBManager – part of good security is having backups, and this plugin does backups really well. It’ll back up your database upon schedule intervals, and you can even set it to email you the resulting .sql file.
  • WP Security Scan – scans your WordPress installation for vulnerabilities and alerts you to them. It can, in some cases, even fix them. I DO NOT recommend using this plugin to change your table prefix, however. That’s something you should do manually.

You can never be too careful these days when it comes to security. Luckily, these precautions will keep all but the most determined hackers out of your site. Happy blogging!

Guest author Thomas Frank is the founder of College Info Geek, a college success blog with a heavy focus on technology. He is a sophomore at Iowa State University studying management information systems and speech communication. Connect with him on Twitter. Licensed image courtesy of Flickr user Max Klingensmith.

 

Salient Features of Lokpal Bill

Salient Features of the Bill proposed by Aravinda Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Anna Hazare etc.

1. There shall be an institution of Lokpal with ten members and headed by a Chairperson.
2. That part of CBI which deals with cases of corruption, shall be merged with Lokpal.
3. CVC and the entire internal vigilance set in various central government departments will be
merged with Lokpal.
4. Lokpal will be completely independent of the Government.
5. Lokpal shall have jurisdiction over bureaucrats, politicians and judges.
6. Lokpal shall have the powers to initiate investigations and prosecution without needing
permission from any other agency.
7. Public grievances are often linked to demands/expectations of bribery. Lokpal shall act as
appellate authority and supervisory body for grievance redressal systems in all central
government departments.
8. Lokpal shall be responsible for providing protection against physical and professional
victimization to whistleblowers.
9. Members and Chairperson in Lokpal shall be selected through a transparent and participatory
process.
10. The functioning of Lokpal shall be completely transparent to avoid it from becoming a hub of
corruption.
11. Any complaint of wrongdoing against an official of Lokpal shall be investigated and acted upon
within a month through a transparent enquiry process.
12. If charges are proved and conviction takes place, loss to the exchequer caused due to his
wrongdoing shall be recovered from all those who are convicted.

An important advice for WordPress blog owners

If you are using WordPress code for blogging on your website,please read it very carefully.

WordPress has released version 3.0.x which has enhanced features with Multisite-enabled.A remarkable feature is that the HTML generated by version 3.0.x is HTML5. Most of the available WordPress themes have Doctype of XHTML transitional/strict.This generates errors when validated against W3C standards. http://validator.w3.org/. So, if you have downloaded and installed WordPress 3.0.x , make sure that your theme has Doctype declaration of HTML5.This may affect your Search Engine Optimization Score severely.

If you have upgraded your WordPress from 2.9.x to 3.0.x , then this problem may not arise.Better validate your blog on http://validator.w3.org/

A quick fix to this problem is – Try changing the Doctype of themes to HTML 5.(In my case it worked, but may not work everywhere)

A trick to verify any anonymous email address

We often come across various email address which are broken i.e. they are no longer active.In business/official emails, this phenomenon is frequent.

A simple hack can be sending test emails to the suspicious address.But this has limitations and cannot be applied in all circumstances.e.g. You cannot send a test email to the CEO of a company lest you create a negative impression.

There are various catch-all services, which receive all anonymous emails.This is a serious limitations of the  previous trial-and-error method.

In  order to verify that a  given email address exists, you can use the FREE email lookup services on the web.

A typical such service I know about is at  http://www.ipaddresslocation.org/email_lookup/check-email.php

As you can find in the screenshot, they have queried my email provider about the existence of my email id. However, I remained unaware if someone checked for validity of my email address.



Of course, this tool has got its limitations yet it  comes very handy in most of the circumstances.

Manage your projects online using DeskAway

DeskAway is a web based project management and task/issue tracking software that makes it easy to organize, manage and track projects from a central location. Simplify teamwork by eliminating guesswork

  1. Simple, feature-rich & affordable
    You do not need any training to use DeskAway. If you can surf the web and check your mail, DeskAway will be a breeze. In addition, its packed with powerful features and is priced from free to $99/month!Comparison between simple and complex project management software
  2. Go Green
    Use this  service instead of buying a new server, software (taking into account packaging etc.) and the power consumed hosting the app. Plus, DeskAway will have all your project stuff in a central location – project plans, reports, to-do’s, notes etc. This way you and your team are less likely to hit the print button. Save the trees and help conserve energy!
  3. Less email clutter
    Once you start using DeskAway, you will automatically have less email clutter in your inbox and no problems finding old project information.
  4. Easy delegation and tracking
    Tasks tend to slip under the radar, as there is no way to track them. You can send 10 tasks to your team members via email, but in merely three days you would’ve have forgotten about atleast 5 of them, and managed to track only 3 of them, as newer tasks take precedence. DeskAway’s systematized approach eliminates this problem.
  5. You control who sees what information
    DeskAway’s permission-control system is built with the idea that not everyone should know and see everything. Just like in real life!
  6. Provide senior executives a consolidated view of all project progress
    Don’t we all want to know how things are going so we can fix the areas which are not working efficiently?
  7. Nothing to download or install
    Since DeskAway is an on-demand business software delivered on the Internet, there is nothing to install, compile or configure. All you need is an Internet connection and a web browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla, FireFox or Safari).
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    It will save you the hassle of backing up data every day or every week. Our secure servers make using DeskAway completely stress-free.
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    Whenever we make changes or add new features to DeskAway, you will be able to use them instantly! No more waiting to get things installed. This is the power of software on-demand.
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    Signup for a free DeskAway account and see if it works for your organization and team. If it does not, then cancel anytime!