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Commonwealth Games Delhi 2010 : New Delhi

The 19th Commonwealth games are about to kickoff on 3rd October, 2010 in New Delhi, the capital city of India. Preparations are on full swing to host this first mega sporting event in Delhi. The games will be held from 3rd October to 14th October, 2010.

The schedule for Commonwealth Games 2010 can be found here:-

Other details, venues, ticketing information and up to date news about the preparations for commonwealth games 2010 can be obtained from the official website at

Here is the official promotional video of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, New Delhi:-

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HOW TO make the best impression on your first date

Your first date would be your most important date because if you mess this up, you can kiss that elusive second date goodbye. Ask any couple who has been together for a while and they would fondly tell you about that unforgettable first date. So what should you talk about on your first date, how to break the ice, and how to avoid those awkward moments of silence.

The KISS(Keep It Simple Stupid) principle applies to that first date just as much as it does to anything else. Start off with simple general question, get to know as much about them and their personality as you can. And try to look them in the eye.

Well, to begin with your first date should be about getting to know your date. Start of with asking them about their day, their work and what they do in their spare time.

Then you can move on to asking them about where they are from, their family, or how long they've been living here. DO NOT forget to be polite and try to make these questions part of a flowing conversation.

Other things that you can talk about is your date's taste in food or music. Most all people love food and music, their is little risk that you'd ever go wrong talking about these two subjects.

Ask them about their hobbies, what they do in their free time; and if you find something in common that both of you are passionate about, voila. That could start a whole new conversation right there that would interest both of you.

Discuss with them about any other countries that they might have visited. That is an easy way to find out if they like to travel and are adventurous or prefer to stick around homeground.

And then another topic that you can not go wrong with is pets. BUT please respect their preference if they happen to be a dog person and you're not. Just smartly change the subject to something else.

Finally, some things that you should STAY AWAY FROM ON YOUR FIRST DATE are talking about past relationships, ex-es, their financial situation, the car they drive. These topics sound too nosey to be getting into the first time you meet a person. Just play this first one nicely, and if all goes well, you'll get plenty of opportunities to ask just about anything as both of you get more confortable with each other :)

MOST important thing to remember on the day of your GRE

The nerves can get to anyone on the actual day of  their GRE exam. But the one thing that you should not forget is to shortlist at least 4 universities that you wish to apply to. Do this research well before the exam and make your list before the exam day. And why should you make that list? BECAUSE your GRE exam fee also includes sending your exam score to 4 schools for FREE. Yes. Here is the official verbiage from the the GRE website:-

"Your test fee entitles you to request that scores be sent to as many as four graduate institutions or fellowship sponsors. For the computer-based GRE® General Test, you will be asked to designate your score recipients at the test center. For the paper-based GRE General Test, you will be asked to designate your score recipients during registration or on your admission ticket correction stub. You will be required to pay US$23 per recipient to have scores sent at a later date."

So remember to make a list of 4 schools before your exam, and then send your score to these schools right after your exam if you are happy with your score. Any additional schools that you wish to apply to will cost you $23 a pop. However, if you do not like what you scored and decide to take GRE again at a later date, do not send your scores.

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HOW TO prepare for GRE in 15 days

How do I prepare for GRE or TOEFL in 15 days, I haven't started yet?!?!

Lots of students procrastinate their preparation until the last month or 15 days of taking their GRE of TOEFL exams (and I too am guilty as charged :) ). Well, we all know how bad that sucks. But the question is, once you are in that boat, how do you sail through, or at least try and give it your best shot? So how do you prepare for your GRE in 15 days or a month??

Now I am saying this from my personal experience, and this may or may NOT work for you. So do not curse me later and take this only as an advice and not a rule, and the best advice is to start your preparation at least 6 months before your GRE exam date.. Although I was not the one who did not start until one-month from my exam, I mean I was doing the word lists and math on and off, but I do say that I really, really studied for my GRE in the last one month. And what tremendously helped me was to take a GRE sample test each day for one month. I took the test, then I took a break, and then I went back to analyzing what I did wrong, what the problem areas were, and where I needed to really focus. Of course I did go through the correct answers for questions I got wrong. But rather than just leaving it there, I revisited the concept that the question was based on, and made sure that the next time I came across a question based on the same concept, I would have an improved chance of getting it right.

Now some of us try to remember / cram up question that we get wrong. That has been known to fail more often than it might work. Ask any student that has taken the GRE. The important thing I think is to focus more on that concept that you did not quite understand, and because of which you got the question wrong. So all you procrastinators, pull you pants up quick and make this last month count for good.

Starting school in US in Fall semester vs Spring semester

So what is the fall season, and which one of fall season or spring season  is the best time  to start school in US ?!?!

Here are the names of four seasons observed in the US in Hindi:-

** SPRING         (saavan) begins 1st March
** SUMMER     (garmi) begins 1st June
** FALL             (patjhad) begins 1st September
** WINTER       (sardi) begins 1st December

I hope I did not screw up on the hindi names. Anyways, Summer is short but really nice, and Fall is all colorful. Fall is actually what we call patjhad in hindi. Fall is when the trees start shedding leaves (and before they are all gone, they turn pink and orange and look amazing). Fall is also the start of the school year. 5th September, right after the labor day holiday, is when most students in US start school.

Another time of the year when you have an option to start school is Spring. The number of students joining in in spring is nothing compared to Fall. Partly because everyone else starts in Fall, and majorly because everything else is aligned with the Fall semester. We will discuss this "everything else".
-Most tuition/financial aid grants are made to the students starting in Fall, thereby the funds are limited by the time it is Spring, and hence chances of getting aid in Spring are no where near those in Fall.

-Most new student orientation type things are done in Fall, so you miss out on those. And if you are an international student, believe me you don't want to miss these orientation trainings.

-Most schools have what they call the "International Club".  Here you get a chance to make new friends, and do fun things with these fellow international students. While you can join in on the fun in Spring, it is best to start when the club starts out every year in Fall.

-Most important, most companies tend to do all their hiring in Apr-Aug. So if you start in the Spring semester, you would usually finish up in a fall semester, and would find very few companies hiring in Jan-Mar period. This would certainly not be an issue for someone who started in Fall and then finished his graduation in Spring. You might argue that since fewer students started in Spring, and so fewer will come out in Fall and hence lesser competition in the job market at that time; but believe me that is certainly not the case cause very few companies are hiring during that period.

-And last but definitely not the least, fall is also the time when most stores here have what they advertise as "back to school sales". You can get some really good deals during these sales on various school essentials like laptops, school supplies, etc.

So fellas, plan all your preparation so that you start in the Fall semester. Yes people still do join in in the spring semester, and they still get jobs, but why make it any more difficult than it already is??

HOW TO calculate my GPA if my school does not follow grading system

Lots of international students stumble upon this section of the application process, and then have no idea what to do. Many countries in the world have schools that do not follow the US grading system and insted have a percentage and marks out of 100 system. Most of us get on google and start searching for "how to calculate GPA??". But here's the deal. You don't have to in most cases. Most universities in US know that a large majority of  schools around the world follow the aggregate percentage based system, and not the letter-grade system followed by the US schools. And so most of them allow you to enter your aggregate percentage for the 8 semesters in the GPA box, just put a percentage sign (%) after the number. BUT, the keyword here is "most". Not all of them are quite happy with percentages, and in that case, you will have to somehow work out your GPA, which I will explain shortly.
But before that, shoot your school an email and ask them if percentages instead of GPA are ok. Most schools would mention it on their app forms, but some do not. And by sending them an email, you can make sure and not regret having wasted time/money on sending an incomplete application.

Anyways, so here is how GPA or the Grade Point Average system works and is calculated using your percentage based marksheets. Before you can calculate GPA, you should know how many credits each course you take is worth.

Now it is imperative you understand what these credits mean. A 4 credit-hour course (aka 4-credits) generally means that you would attend 4 hours of classes for this course per week. The cost of taking this course is also determined by the number of credits its worth. And, before you can you graduate from a US school, you need a certain number of credits in total. So you see how all of this adds up. A Master''s degree might be worth 32 credits. That simply means you have to take course whose total credits would add up to 32, and then and only then would you be awarded the Master's degree.

Anyways, a 4 credit course would cost you 4 * cost per credit for your school. This cost per credit hour varies vastly from one school to another. And remember, the cost for graduate and undergraduate credits is also different. Graduate credits are more expensive.

Moving further, once you know the credits your courses are worth, this is how you calculate your GPA:
Let's say in the 1st semester, you took two courses, P (a 3 credit course) and Q (a 4 credit course).
Now suppose your total score (which is a combination of your homeworks, programs, project work etc) at the end of the semester for P is 89% and Q is 93%. Generally the following grades are awarded (the cut-offs vary from one school to another or from professor to professor):-

Overall Score     Letter Grade       GPA
> 90                            A                    4.0
85-90                          A-                  3.77
80-85                          B+                 3.44
75-80                          B                   3.11
70-75                          B-                  2.78
65-70                          C                   2.45
you don't want to get any lower than this anyways :)

So, you scored 89% in P (grade A-) and 93% in Q (grade A). Here is what your GPA for the 1st semester (also known as CGPA: Cumulative GPA) will be:-

CGPA after 1 semester ==

3.77 * credits_for_P + 4 * credits_for_Q
total credits taken (=7 for sem 1)

And that's the formula you should use for calculating your GPA for every semester of your BE, and then take an average. Simple, right? But again, for this to work you need to know the letter grades and what range of scores they correspond to.

HOW TO prepare for GRE exam, coaching centers, etc.

Planning for your GRE preparation can be as daunting as the preparation itself. Questions like where do I start, how much time should I spend each day and how early should I start, hit us at some point in time. I think what GRE really requires is consistent study for a considerable period of time. Starting early might give you an edge. But even if you are say 3 months away from your d-day, a consistent plan to spend a fixed number of hours, depending on what your schedule and capacity allows, every day might just be the key.

Most of us prepare for our GRE while we are in college or working. College or a new job can take up most of your time. It is thus imperative to plan ahead of time. You must know beforehand how many hours a day can you devote to your preparation. And even more important is to stick to that schedule. I don't think their is any disagreement in how spending 3 hours every day for say 3 months is way more beneficial that spending 12 each day for 10 days before the exam date. Moreover, it can be tedious and boring to study for the GRE. Even more difficult is to keep the course, to stick to your schedule.

And this is where the coaching centers might be helpful. Now this might vary from one person to another, and I know a lot of people who can chart out a study schedule and really stick to it for months; but if you are an average Joe like I, coaching centers can really help you in the critical preparation phase of you GRE. The main benefits are that these guys do all the homework on what material is current, so you are spending your time on only on the right material, something that a person preparing on his own may not be doing. Then, you will not be wasting hours fishing for GRE preparation materials on the internet like so many other students. And with weekend classes that most of them offer, it is easier to stick to the preparation schedule. Most places also have a test every other week, which by the way I feel is the best way to prepare for GRE, that tells you where you stand amongst the other students in your class. While you should not allow a low rank in your class bother you too much, you should still use it to see where you stand and how you should modify your preparation plan to improve your rankings.

On my last trip back home, I had a chance to meet some students who were preparing for the GRE. These guys had formed a study group, and it was kind of working for them pretty well. They downloaded tests, and then took them together on their computers in a same room, basically to simulate the actual GRE center environment. And one of them said that when you are taking a test with two other students in the same room, it kind of replicates the same feeling of competition (by all means, healthy), and nervousness that you will encounter when you take the actual GRE. So that was one idea I liked and wanted to share with your guys.

The other craze I see among some students preparing for GRE is stacking up on all sorts of material. I know of students who've spent 1000s on stacking up their book shelves with GRE preparation books like Barron's, Kaplan's, Big book and what not. But seriously guys, do you think you can really cover 3 or more books effectively. I am of the school of thought that if you did even one book, cover to cover, and like really absorbed it, it should be more than enough. Claims like the GRE exam has more words from book A compared to book B are crap. Drawing of words on your GRE exam is a totally random process. So the point is, while it is good to have a variety of material, please do not spend too much time gathering too much material, and ending up with only little time to cover this material.

The last important thing for your preparation is to not compare your preparation habits with other. While it is important to know what methodology worked for others, you and only you can decide what will work for you. My friend does a whole word list in a day, I have to do that too. WRONG, please never think that way. Realize that every person has a different capacity. It is very important to know how much your brain can absorb in a day, and trying to exceed that just because someone else seems to be doing that might not be useful. It is your GRE preparation, and you should approach it the way that is best for you.

HOW TO download Kindle 3 software update 3.0.1

How do I download the Kindle 3 (latest generation) software update 3.0.1. And how do I install the update..

Amazon has released a software update 3.0.1 for Kindle 3 latest generation (wifi+3g) and Kindle 3 latest generation (wifi only). This is supposed to fix the random crashes and freezes that Kindle 3 owners are dealing with. You can download and install this software update on your Kindle 3 from these urls:-

Kindle 3G (Free 3G + Wi-Fi)
If your Serial no. has prefix B006, download the following release:-

If your Serial no. has prefix B00A, download the following release:-

Kindle 3G (Wi-Fi only)
If your Serial no. has prefix B008, download the following release:-

HOW TO find super cheap New York city hostels

If you are like me and travel on a tight budget, you have more often than not searched for cheap hostels in a city all over the internet with less than impressive results. While a simple google search gets you all those top hostels that can afford to spend the big bucks to advertise and show up on first page of google search results, they are not necessarily the cheapest. Today I will share a tip on how to search for cheap "New York hostels" quickly and efficiently to find the best deal in town. Let's get started.

**Go to
**Then type 'New York' in the search box. Click on Search. The map should now show a map of the general area of New York city now.
**Now once the map for New York is fully displayed, type 'hostels' in search box (delete the New York that's already there). Hit Search again.

There you go, now you have a list of all New York hostels. You can click on the tagged pins (with tags A, B, C, etc.. ) to get details on that hostel (including their website-address and phone number for reservations) as well as on the small red dots. All these tagged pins and red dots represent New York hostels. Just click on any one to get details about them. Here are a couple of pictures to show what it should look like:-

                                       You can click on the images for a sharper image

Another really useful thing is that you also get to read reviews on the hostels that show up on the map. Again, just click a dot or a tagged pin, and it should show you a link to reviews (if any are in fact available) in the box that pops open.

You can also move around the map (hold down the left click mouse button, and move the map) to look for hostels in a specific ares of New York. In fact, you can follow this procedure to find hostels in any city in the US. Just bring up the map for the general area of that city first, and then search for hostels. Easy, right?

HOW TO strikethrough text in Microsoft Word 2007

This mini how to will teach you to draw a line through the middle of your text in Microsoft Word 2007, or what is also often referred to as deleting out part of text in Microsoft Word.

Here are the easy steps:-
-Select the word/text to strikethrough

-Then click on Home tab, and then look for the strikethrough button under the 'Font' group (picture below). The button looks like "abc" with a line drawn through the middle of  the text. Click it. Done.

HOW TO number pages in MS Word starting from specific page

Q. Number pages of  a Microsoft Word document starting from a specific page so that -
*First 3 pages will have no numbers
**Then pages 4 through 8, with the Table of Contents, Table of Figures etc on them, should be numbered using roman numerals (i, ii, iii....)
***And finally the following pages of the document  should be numbered using digits starting from 1.

Ok, so this is how Microsoft Word works for numbering your document. When you need different numbering schemes for different parts of your document, you divide your document into what is called SECTIONS

Here is how to create sections:-
Place your cursor to the page/position in your word document where you need the section break. A section break really is like a dividing point for what's above and below it.
Go to Insert->Break
In the window that pops open, select 'Continuous' for section break types.

That is pretty much it.Insert as many section breaks in this way to divide your document into sections.

People generally insert a break at the end of a page (so you position your cursor at the end of the page and then insert the page break), but you can insert them anywhere on a page..

You can also actually view the section break you just created by clicking the page break symbol (shown below)on your Word's standard toobar. Click the same button again to make all those formatting tags disappear.
Page break symbol

And this is how your sections divide up your Word document. Beginning of the document to the first page break is one section, and will follow one numbering scheme, then this page break to the next page break is another section, and so on. Each section can be configured to have it's own numbering scheme (i.e. roman, characters or numbers) and the section numbering may start from 1 or continue forward from where the numbering scheme for previous section ended.

So how do we number these section we just created:-
-Go to the start of your section (where you inserted the page break, or first page in case of the first section of the document).

-Click View->Header and Footers (double-clicking the bottom part a page would also bring up the same dialog box)

-Depending on where you want you your page numbers (generally people go for the bottom of the page - footer) scroll to the now highlighted header or the footer. Click on the header/footer box.

- Now from the little Header and Footer dialog box, click Insert Autotext, and select -PAGE-. You will see numbers appear in the footer part of the page.

-Then click the 'Format Page Numbers' button. This gives you the choice for number format (roman or numerical).

-'Page Numbering' section of the 'Format Page Numbers' window gives you the option to continue numbering from previous section or to start anew for this section.

That's all there is, should take more that 5 minutes, right??

The procedure to insert page numbers in Microsoft Word 2007 is even easier. Just click on Insert tab, then click on Page Number button in Header & Footer group

HOW TO interpret exponential growth and percentages

Ever wondered what a 5% growth rate really mean? Or the implications of a 2% population growth rate. I was watching random videos on youtube today when I stumbled upon this video by a University of Colorado - Boulder professor talking about exponential growth and percentages. It is just truly amazing and worth watching.

The one thing I would definitely take away from the video is to figure out the number of years it takes for something to double when it is growing at a certain rate. For eg., if the world population grows at 2% annually, it would double in just 35 years. WOW!!

HOW TO count all rows in each table in a database in MS-SQL

Ever tried running "select count(*)" on a table with millions of rows? Or being asked to find that out for every table in a huge database? I had to count all rows in every table in a database at work today. With quite a few  tables having upwards of 50 million rows, and with 100s of tables in the db, getting all results using the plain vanilla "select count(*) would take all day.

Here is a super efficient SQL query that counts all rows in every table in a database, and FAST. Tested on MS SQL:-

SELECT  [TableName] =,  [RowCount] = MAX(si.rows)  FROM sysobjects so, sysindexes si  WHERE
so.xtype = 'U'  AND = OBJECT_ID(

HOW TO freeze top row in Microsoft Excel (freeze panes)

Most Microsoft excel sheets have column headings as their top rows. It is nice to be able to freeze the column heading row in an excel sheet so it stays visible even when you are scrolling down through the data. Here is how to freeze the top olumn heading row in various versions of Microsoft Excel:-

Excel - 2000/2003
Select the second row (the row below the top row containing column headings)
Click Window -> Freeze Panes. That's it!!

Excel - 2007
Click on 'View' tab, then 'Freeze Panes' and then 'Freeze Top Row'

HOW TO calculate monthly mortgage payment?

Simple mortgage calculator/ monthly loan payment calculator

Mortgage/Loan Amount
Mortgage/Loan Term (months)
Interest Rate
Monthly Payment

P.S. This simple calculator provides only an approximation of your actual mortgage payment. It does not take into account your credit score, closing costs, insurance costs, monthly HOA payments, etc.

HOW TO make a link open in a new browser window

So I started this blog and wrote my first few posts only to find out that all the links in my posts were taking readers away from my post. Did some research and turns out it is fairly simple to make a link open in a new tab or new window when a user clicks on it. Here is what you do:-

<a href ="">Daily HOWTO blog</a>
<a target="_blank" href="">Daily HOWTO blog</a>

Here are the other values available for the target attribute:-
target="_blank"      Open link in a new tab/ window.
target="_self"         Open link in the same window (default)

target="_parent"     Open link in the parent frame in a multi-frame page.
target="_top"         Open link  in top level window when used in a multi-frame page.

To make all links on your page open in a new window, just add <base target="_blank"> between the <head> and </head> tags in your html.

Kindle 3 crashes and freezes

I ordered a Kindle 3 a few days ago and it is scheduled to ship on or before Sept 17th. But now that I am reading about it, Amazon forums are full of complaints from people who have received their new Kindle and are experiencing random crashes and freezes on it.

People have reported crashes/freezes while doing just about anything, from opening pdf's, to browsing the internet, to organizing collections, to even reading books.

Here is a very nice and frequently updated discussion of people who have received their Kindle 3 and how they are dealing with the random crashes/freezes - Kindle 3 crashes freezes

Now it seems with each passing day, and as more people are receiving their pre-ordered Kindle 3's, the frequency of posting and the total number of posts on that forum is going higher. But here are a few important details that I have picked out from the overall discussion:-

"I received my new K3 3G+WiFi this morning. Unfortunately, it has already crashed/rebooted three times in half an hour. The WiFi is not on - it is working on the 3G network. One crash was while attempting to move the cursor in the Kindle Store; another was while using the menu; and another was just while reading following a download. I only have two downloaded books and three archived items. So I don't think the issue is limited to WiFi-only kindles, or to indexing of large collections."
"Mine just rebooted again. I was on my WiFi and in Wikipadeia searching for a word. It locked up part way through typing the word and then rebooted."
"Called to Kindle Customer Service (1-866-321-8851) and was told to hold the slider to the right and not release for quite a while. The screen went white, collections came back, and I was still holding it before he let me release it. Then, before I could check on a book, it rebooted"

"Customer Service asked to replace my device. I asked why a new one wouldn't be the same and was told that they think only some devices are affected. That sounded flimsy to me, so I asked to hang onto it a while and see if I continue to have the problem."

"When highlighting or taking notes, I will get a crash and it will crash again after about 10 min each time."

 "I got my K3 Graphite WiFi-only 3 days ago and have had multiple freezings. First times were when using web browser, so decided not to use this anymore since it's still 'experimental'; had to do a hard reset (power switch > 15 sec hold) to get it going again. Then had a freeze on the Amazon store."
"I've had the 3G/WiFi since Monday and it has crashed several times doing various things like browsing, reading PDFs and last night turn a page."

 "I haven't had any problem since getting the patch. All files work fine, as does assembling of Collections."

"The beta patch is working fine on my K3 3G+WiFi. No reboots or freezes in two days of heavy use since the patch was applied. Amazon will take care of everyone."

Their is also talk of a 3.0.1 software patch that is being released to fix all these Kindle 3 errors, but so far it is not entirely clear if these crashes/freezes are entirely a software issue. I guess I'll wait and see. Waiting anxiously for Sept 17th for my Kindle 3 wifi to ship :)

HOW TO fix “iphone could not be restored because the firmware is not compatible” error

iPhone could not be restored because the firmware is not compatible"

People who have tried to downgrade their iPhone firmware from 4.0 to 3.1.2, tried to unlock it, or simply restore it to factory settings have run into this error. Here is what I tried that worked when I got this error when downgrading from iOS 4.0 to iOS 3.1.2 on my iPhone 3g :-

Just download an unmodified copy of the firmware from Apple’s website and then try to do a restore with that. It seems a copy of the firmware that has already been used for an earlier restore is somehow modified and causes this error when trying to restore again. This worked for me with iTunes 9.0. 

 Here are the direct links for iOS firmware for download from Apple’s website:-

iOS 3.1.2 direct links (iOS links):-

iOS 3.1.3 direct links (iOS links):-