Came across an article about this head and neck restraint on caranddriver.com. It may not be such a bad idea to wear this gadget while driving in Kuwait, considering that almost everyone drives like they are in a race. :)

The HANS essentially works like an airbag. But instead of inflating a cushion to arrest occupant motion in a collision, it uses a raised collar and two polyester-fabric tethers to secure the driver’s head. The driver’s shoulder belts hold the tall, stiff collar securely in place. The tethers link the sides of the driver’s helmet to collar anchor points. When g-loads build during a forward impact, the HANS device assures that the driver’s helmeted head moves with his torso so vulnerable neck and skull bones aren’t overloaded.

For more info on the HANS device, check out their website: hansdevice.com.

Sometimes it feels like email is just taking over my life and there is no time to do anything productive. So I decided to pull up some statistics on my usage. I needed to find out how much email I send and receive and to/from whom.

OutlookStatView is a great tool for the job. Just download and run it. Select your date range and then save the file to csv. You can play with the data in Excel and pull up any fancy charts you need to.

Well here is what I learnt from my stats:

  • I get a ton of alerts but I don’t read most of them. Time to unsubscribe, or better still, subscribe someone else.
  • I send a lot more email to my colleagues then I get back. Time to stop sending out email. They could walk by and get the info they need. :)
  • I don’t reply to a lot of the emails from Clients and Vendors. That’s probably cause they cc me for no reason on every email. :(
  • 50% of the email I do read / action comes from just 8 people. Why do they rely on me so much?
  • 50% of the email I send out is just to 6 people. I wonder if it’s all work related. ;)

This seems like a good exercise to conduct every 3 months or so. Try it out and let me know what your email stats are like.

I noticed this Mercedes parked in the middle of the cloverleaf interchange between the 5th Ring Road and the 55. It’s been there for about a week now!

Could this be a new long term parking spot? Or maybe we are just running out of ways to decorate the highway interchanges of Kuwait. :)

 

While driving around Ahmadi the other day, I suddenly realized that all the lamp posts were paired. Looks like they are putting up new lamp posts. Probably easier than just changing the bulb!

 

Yes, the title is a little misleading. But I had to!
I was at the Sultan Center parking lot around 4pm yesterday and happened to park right next to this Prado. The guy left his “kid” in there all alone for about half an hour! I guess no one cared, since this “kid” was a little goat. :)

It was amusing to watch it jump between the front and rear seats and “baah baah” away to glory.

Personally, I would be more concerned about droppings on the drivers seat!

Finding good wallpapers for your desktop can be quite a task at times. Some themes have nice ones and others no so nice. I like my desktop wallpaper to rotate every 30 seconds so my machine seems more “alive”.

A good, easy & most importantly “free” source for wallpapers is the Microsoft Windows themes site. The fastest way to extract all those wallpaper images is to download the themes and extract them all at once. You will need a tool like 7-Zip to do this. Here are the steps:

1) Navigate to the windows themes website. http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/downloads/personalize/themes

 

2) Navigate through the categories and download the themes you like. Most of them have the extension of “themepack”. Let’s stick to these for now.

3) Once you finish downloading all these files, select all of them in Windows Explorer right click and from the 7-zip menu select “Extract here”. You will see a new folder called “DesktopBackground”

4) Move all these files to you wallpapers folder and then use them. In Windows 7 you can configure the rotation from your desktop professionalization screen itself.

I have some 410 images in my wallpapers folder. So that means I won’t see the same image in the next 3 hours and 25 minutes. :)

I wonder how Al Mulla would feel, if I stuck a big ugly calendar on their front door! Probably a calendar from one of the other exchange companies.

It’s bad enough that every supermarket and restaurant in Kuwait throws their promotional catalogs on my door mat. Now, Al Mulla took the liberty to stick this big ugly 2012 calendar on every door in my building! I’m guessing they did this in every building in Salmiya.

And why would I need a calendar on my front door? I could use it to share my availability, appointments and other important dates with all those people who dump their catalogs on my door mat! :)

 

The new road extension on the 50 just before the 5th ring road exit is nice. But someone got real confused while putting up the road signs. The ones on the left indicate you can turn right to exit and the ones on the right indicate that you can turn left to join the 50. However, there is no right hand exit and you need to drive down to the 4th ring road before you can exist anywhere. :(

I kept driving down the 50 assuming I’d get an exit to the 5th, but it never happened. And it seems I wasn’t the only one. So as we all kept driving down but all the exits from the 4th to the 2nd had traffic jams with what looked like people who missed the 5th ring road!

Anyway, was a nice long drive home. :)

A little while back, I moved to a better server and as usual DNS is the biggest pain when changing servers. I came across this great DNS Propagation Tool from WhatsMyDNS. It tells you if most of the world is accessing your site at the old server or the new one!

Now that all the ground work was done it was time to plan the implementation. Considering that we would have people with both high and low speed internet connections watching, I decided to take live streaming to the next level and stream 2 qualities of video simultaneously. For those with a high speed internet connection we could provide live video and audio. And for those with slower connections, real-time audio but with a slide show for the images. Ideally, I would need to use 2 laptops and need two video and audio feeds and get two internet connections to take care of this. But that too would have been too easy! :) So would this be possible with just 1 laptop, a single feed from the mixer and a single internet connection?

The answer is yes! And it wasn’t too hard either. A little complicated but not hard. The solution I came up with needed a bunch of “virtual” video sources. The diagram above show the flow of the video and audio channels. The audio part was easy. The video is were things get complicated. Usually, the application using the webcam or any other video source locks it exclusively so that no other app can use it at the same time. I chose to use SplitCam to vitualize the video feed. This would allow more than one application to access the same video source.

So now, the real time audio and video feed could be broadcast via Flash Media Live Encoder to the LiveStream service.

Next step was to create a new video stream but with a delay in the images. This would make it look like a photo slide show. I used YawCam to split the video into images. The Image array wizard does a neat job of configuring the same all you need to do is pick the location to dump a copy of the images, the file naming convention and the interval between images. Then I used ManyCam to read the images dumped by YawCam and create a video source. Next logged in to Stickam and everything was a go!

While attempting the above make sure you disable all other video and audio sources. So if someone trips over a wire and unplugs the cable you won’t need to re-configure the software all over again. :) Also, I had some kind of random FM interference on the audio line when we went live. Might have been something to do with the new mixing equipment but it’s always a good idea to do a few dry runs before you can go live on the final equipment.

During the 3-days of live streaming, there were about 495 unique visitors and over 120 simultaneous viewers during one point in time. I’d say it was a miracle considering this was a last minute attempt! :)

About this Blog

This blog is run by Mario Alvares, a Goan Web Guru living in Kuwait, sharing some of his thoughts with the rest of the world. Click the About Me link for more info and a funny mug shot. Check out the posts on this blog and feel free to leave your comments. Use the RSS links above to subscribe.