Doggie Vaccinathon!

The English & Foreign Languages University is home to a pack of fine dogs, they keep us company, make us happy, give us love, and every once again are agonizing too.

There is a whole gang of committed students who take care of this fine dog pack, feed them (sometimes even Biryani!), love them, take them to the vet when needed.

One evening, we decided we needed to do a little more to keep these dogs healthy. So began scheming the idea of the Doggie Vaccinathon on EFLU campus. First order of business was finding a vet who visit our campus and spend an afternoon with us – Dr. Mirza Taher Ali Baig kindly agreed to vaccinate our dogs. He only charged us the cost of the meds, so nicely it became somewhat affordable.

On August 24th we set forth and rope in hand to hold the doggies in situ while Dr. Baig walked from place to place vaccinating the dogs.

We managed to vaccinate all the dogs that we collectively took care. Here are just a few photographs, we were more busy rounding up the doggies than taking photos!
mobileclinic fatty foxy efbee


Devthon Hyderabad

The weekend of August 10th, I was glad to have been a part of Devthon where I helped facilitate teams and helped with User Interface assistance as required. Devthon acts as a catalyst for the questioning, curious mind to explore real problems and collaborate with others to drive home solutions. Unlike other hack events I have attended that seemed to the sometimes serve the purpose of using a specific product, solving a specific problem, and in some cases act as a hiring platform – Devthon attempts to have a more open format with less pressure, more willingness to celebrate failure as an important means towards success, and a collaborative & sharing atmosphere.

This is an important facet we seem to forget and are unable to inculcate in primary education systems where the goal is always pushing towards tuitions, entrance exams, and competition. Spaces like Devthon enable approaching a problem more creatively by eliminating the looming deadline or requirement to prove oneself.

Proof of success came about from the projects that were initiated at Devthon. getRTI, recently covered in the news, creates a platform to make government more transparent, by facilitating a web-based interface to all “Right to Information” submissions. Their struggle includes working with OCR API’s to derive meaningful information from RTI information from the Government. The Traffic Jam team explored various frameworks to model patterns in traffic jams towards providing tools for city planners to improve the lives of pedestrians & motorists, their struggle was right/left bias in the available frameworks which they are attempting to hack for Indian requirements.The Chaakri team had a different problem to solve, the creation of an open-source job portal that anyone can use for an organization. There were many more exciting projects, including an open-source LMS platform built from the ground-up; an eco-friendly, minimalist table designed for hackers; a non-accident proof bicycle; and more. Folks with design skills were put to work across projects to help build accessible, user friendly front ends and memorable logos.

We also had the distinct pleasure of hearing a talk on design thinking by Karthi Subbaraman. She did a fabulous job of using a case study to demonstrate design thinking to elevate understanding beyond just jargon & buzzwords. Adi Narayana Vemuru was on hand throughout to provide guidance on lean startup methodology and inspired teams to think about their minimal viable product, and to focus on the essentials first.

A very special thanks to the organizers, Prashant, Harish, and Venky for creating this space.

I look forward to future Devthons & watch the hacker mindset grow & thrive in Hyderabad and India!

Forays into homemade cheese

Completely frustrated with the variety of cheese available in India, I set out to create my own. It was surprisingly easy and the outcome is damn yummy 🙂

Home Made Cheese



  • 400 grams yogurt
  • Cracked pepper (to taste)
  • Sale (to taste)
  • 1 dry red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1/8 tsp. thyme
  • 1/8 tsp. parsley
  • 1/8 tsp. rosemary

Clean muslin cloth, handkerchief size will suffice


  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl
  • Pour it into a very fine sieve, and press to get as much water out as possible (optional)
  • Add the yogurt mixture on the muslin cloth, and make a bundle.
  • Keep tightening the bundle to get as much water out
  • Hang the entire muslin cloth bundle, with a bowl below to catch the dripping water. I hung it for about a day, tightening the bundle as the water dripped out
  • Allow it to hang for between 12 – 24 hours. Length of time till determine the hardness of the cheese.
  • Remove from muslin cloth
  • Optional: If not serving immediately, drizzle some olive oil on it to keep it moist until consumed later

The possibilities are endless! One could mix all kinds of wonderfulness into this mixture. I am thinking of trying a orange zest and ginger cheese the next time around.


Learning from print: 2

Another great visualization in the New York Times today.

Some really great paradigms that can be emulated:

  • Mixture of tabular & graphical data
  • The total is displayed right next to the label for each “row”
  • No legend off to the right or bottom. Instead each segment is identified, in context on the chart.
  • The Total Row is separated & also displayed graphically & numerically.

Grooveshark it is!

A friend of mine invited me to Grooveshark, one late night while I was working away listening to my old, tired music mix. It came as a happy surprise & a nice melodic relief!

Grooveshark has apparently been around since 2006! Glad I heard about it today. It’s a great way to create playlist & share them with friends – totally beats YouTube & definitely beats iTunes! Get your account today if you haven’t done so 🙂

I’ll be posting more on the usability aspects of Grooveshark and experience soon.

Spicy squash


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 whole red chillies (halved)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic chopped
  • 1 large onion julienned
  • 2 cups of squash (or pumpkin) cubed
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp amchur (mango powder)
  • 1/4 tsp chat masala


  • Heat the oil
  • Add the fenugreek seeds and cumin seeds
  • When the seeds start to splutter and the red chillies & garlic
  • When the garlic is slightly cooked, add the onions
  • When onions are light brown, add the squash, and cover the pan
  • About 5 minutes later, once the squash is about 1/2 way cooked, add all the dry powders (except chat masala). Keep the pan covered & cook for another 5 minutes.
  • When fully cooked, add the chat masala and mix nicely.

I think adding some lime juice might be nice too if chat masala is not available, though I haven’t tried this!

Minimal theme for HighCharts

HighCharts is a popular & flexible Javascript framework to create data visualizations. The only trouble is that the default HighChart themes have a lot of 3D, shadows, and gradient that detract from data analysis.

This post walks you through a few steps towards creating a minimal, no “Chartjunk” theme for HighCharts.

Before & After

Basic Bar


Basic Line


Steps towards a minimal theme

1: Include a theme file

This step allows you to create a theme file that can be fully controlled.

  • Create a copy of themes/gray.js. In this example I have named it “zuri.js”
  • Open the bar chart example: examples/bar-basic/index.html
  • Include zuri.js in the file.

Now open the file zuri.js in your favorite text editor. I use Coda.

2: Background

Remove the background color and gradient.


	linearGradient: { x1: 0, y1: 0, x2: 0, y2: 1 },
	stops: [
		[0, 'rgb(96, 96, 96)'],
		[1, 'rgb(16, 16, 16)']



3. Bar & line colors

I decided to choose some happy colors for the theme. These are defined on the first of theme. ColourLovers is a great place to find some nice palettes for your chart.

colors: ["#1860A8","#ea7613", "#3F7C20", "#F06078", "#F0C000", "#903060", "#F09000","#55BF3B", "#DF5353", "#7798BF", "#D8DA86"],

4. Fonts

I am a Helvetica fan! There were a few places I had to replace the font family.
It might be easier to just find & replace in highcharts.js, though this has the disadvantage of being overwritten during an upgrade.

  • In zuri.js find and replace
    ‘Lucida Grande, Lucida Sans Unicode, Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif’
    Helvetica, Arial
  • Now, also add font definitions for the X & Y axis labels. Find these sections & add the following:
    labels: {
    style: {
    	color: '#333',
    	font: '12px Helvetica,Arial'
  • To hide the labels altogether, find the specific axis label section & add:
  • Similarly for the legend. Find the “legend:” section and add the following:
    itemStyle: {
    		color: '#555',
    		font: '12px Helvetica,Arial'
  • Finally, change the font for the tooltips. Find the “tooltips:” section and add the following:
    style: {
    	color: '#333',
    	font: '12px Helvetica,Arial'

5. Remove shadows:

In the plotOptions section, add “shadow:false” to each of the chart types.

        	shadow: false

6. Remove grid lines

In both the X & Y axis section, add or change the following setting.


7. Some final changes

  • Remove the rounded corners. In the Tooltips and Legend sections add borderRadius:0, and change the remove the gradient definitions from the background section.
  • Export buttons:
    Remove the gradient & make them more minimal.To do so, add a background color & make remove the border.

    exporting: {
    		buttons: {
    			exportButton: {
    				symbolFill: '#666'
    			printButton: {
    				symbolFill: '#666'


Download HighCharts

More about “Chart Junk”: