Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bookmarking in Firefox

Firefox is a great alternative to Internet Explorer, but of course, with anything, there is always room for improvement.

Bookmarking, in particular, is not very convenient in Firefox, at least initially. When bookmarking a web page in Firefox, it goes right into the Unsorted Bookmarks folder. For some reason though, my Unsorted Bookmarks folder was missing. It turned out to be only accessible through the Organize Bookmarks app.

For a long time, rather than going through the two or three steps to access the Unsorted Bookmarks folder for the latest web pages I bookmarked, I would just drag favourite web pages from the address bar into a folder on the Bookmarks toolbar, or into the Bookmarks drop-down menu. This was okay, but not terribly convenient.

Awhile back, I discovered a nice Firefox add-on that solves the problem of the missing Unsorted Bookmarks folder which, when loaded, once again reveals this folder in the Bookmarks drop-down menu.

More recently, I was pleasantly surprised to discover "one-click" bookmarking in Firefox. With one click of the star icon at the end of the address bar, I could bookmark a web page. Cool! I always wondered what that star was for.

But the problem of not being able to conveniently access Unsorted Bookmarks, was again, a problem. If only one could create a shortcut to this folder!

I tried to drag and drop the Unsorted Bookmarks folder, with the intention of creating a shortcut, but it just ended up copying the folder and its contents. Not very useful.

I finally learned from this website how to get a shortcut to the Unsorted Bookmarks folder:

What you do is first create a new bookmark (preferably on the Bookmarks toolbar). Once the New Bookmark window appears, enter place:folder=UNSORTED_BOOKMARKS, into the location box. Enter in a name for this folder now, because you will not be able to change it later. I named it "Latest Bookmarks."

Additionally, if you want a shortcut to the entire Bookmarks Menu, do the above, but enter place:folder=BOOKMARKS_MENU, into the location box.

Note that in Firefox 3.5 and later, these nifty folders you have created are not accessible until you restart the browser.

Happy Bookmarking!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Your Song Cover

Please listen to a cover I did of Elton John's Your Song.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Brain Training

My short-term memory capacity was labeled as "relatively poor" in my elementary school days. I came to accept this label, however, I viewed it as a disadvantage.

Only recently, with my interest in self-improvement, did I try to look online for information on how I could improve my memory capacity. I stumbled on something called the dual n-back task. It was claimed that training with this task improved working memory and fluid intelligence. Working memory is a type of short-term memory. Fluid intelligence is intelligence used to solve novel problems.

What is the dual n-back task? It may be easier to first explain what "n-back" means. In an n-back task, where n represents any number, a series of stimuli is presented and one is given the task of deciding whether the current stimulus matches a previous stimulus n times back in the series. For example, In a 1-back task, suppose the following numbers are presented:

4, 6, 3, 4, 4, 2, 6

A correct match would be occur when the fifth number in the series is presented, the fifth number being a 4, since the number 1 time back in the series was also a 4.

A dual n-back task requires us to follow two types of stimuli. Adding to the numbers example above, suppose the numbers are coloured, the colour being the second type of stimulus. If we presented the following series:

red 4, red 6, green 3, blue 4, blue 4, green 2, orange 6,

in a dual 1-back task, a colour match would occur when the red 6 is presented (since the colour 1 time back was also a red), and a colour and a number match would occur when the second blue 4 is presented (since the colour 1 time back was also a blue, and the number 1 time back was also a 4).

I searched for dual n-back software that I could train with and found a great one called Brain Workshop on, a website I have mentioned in a previous post.

Here's to improving our intelligence by using our computers!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Picture Viewer Delay

For the longest time, I had an unusually long delay in opening pictures in Windows XP with the built-in Picture and Fax Viewer. My computer had adequate memory, so that wasn't slowing things down. I tried defragmenting the hard disk, and doing a disk cleanup, but the problem persisted.

For awhile, I gave up on fixing it until recently when I found a solution in this discussion thread.

According to h41cyon, what is happening is that there are dead shortcuts in the same folder as the picture. (When I say "dead" I mean the shortcut is pointing to something that has been moved or deleted) Picture and Fax Viewer was delaying bringing up the picture because of these dead shortcuts. Delete the shortcuts, and the problem is solved. Guess what? He was right! Thanks h41cyon!


If you have any experience with affirmations, you probably have found that they don't always work, or worse, produce the opposite of the intended effect! That has been my experience with affirmations. It's not that affirmations don't work -- they do. The problem is not with affirmations, but with ourselves.

To give an example, have you ever noticed yourself promise to someone you will do something, but then not do it?

Or we make a New Year's resolution, "I'm going to lose 10 pounds this year". Once the year is through, we might have even actually gained weight. Guess what? Yet another instance where what we said would happen doesn't come true.

Over time, instances like these accumulate in our unconscious mind -- where what we say is going to happen, doesn't actually happen. The result is that our unconscious mind eventually stops believing in what we say.

How can affirmations work if this is the case? They certainly can, if we retrain ourselves to once again believe in what we tell ourselves. There is a very simple way to do it detailed in this awesome report.

Yahoo! Notepad

If you have a Yahoo! email address, you may not have noticed a nice feature called Notepad. It is the last tab, following the Calendar tab.

With Notepad, there is no more need to email yourself notes as a way to upload them. Wherever you are (with internet access, of course) you will have them.

This feature is useful if you divide your time between two places, such as work and home. If you have a list of things to do when you get home, you can just jot it down at work into Notepad, and it will be there when you get on the internet at home.

Yahoo! Notepad is a free, quick and simple way to upload text-only notes to yourself, especially lists. Have fun with this feature!

The Sedona Method

Lester Levenson has given the world a unique gift in The Sedona Method. Lester passed away in 1994, but his work is being continued by Hale Dwoskin.

What is The Sedona Method, you ask? It is simply a way of releasing any emotional burden you feel, on the spot.

You begin by first getting in touch with what you are feeling, in the moment. Then ask yourself one of the following questions:

Could I let this feeling go? or Could I welcome this feeling?

Answer with a simple "yes" or "no". To make yourself even more open to the release, follow with these simpler questions:

Would I?, then, When?

By answering these questions, you allow your feeling to be "let go" or released. You may even find yourself experiencing a physical sensation upon release of the emotion. Ironically, answering "no" will still allow you to release.

You can also release on a certain emotion, such as anger, anxiety, depression, and so on, for example:

Could I let go of this feeling of apathy?

So-called positive emotions can be released, as well.

Hale has written an excellent book on this subject, called The Sedona Method. You can also visit the official Sedona Method website to find out more.

Here's to more inner peace for all!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Superbrain Yoga

In my south Indian Hindu culture, there is an ancient prayer that we do before Lord Ganesh where we hold our earlobes and repeatedly crouch down and get up.

As well, my dad used to tell me that it was also given as a punishment in school in Sri Lanka!

It has now been shown that this exercise actually improves brain function, and has been re-packaged as Superbrain Yoga.

Some of its many benefits are improved memory, and increased ability to handle stress. It has even been shown to help learning-disabled children increase their mental abilities.

To learn how to do it, click here.

Ideally, this exercise should be done daily, for at least a couple of weeks, before any tangible results are seen.

Personally, I haven't been doing this consistently enough to see any improvement yet. I guess I must be more disciplined in my practice!

Click here for a video about Superbrain Yoga.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Piano Melody

Click here to listen to a short piano melody I made.

Friday, February 5, 2010


Bill Harris, director of Centerpointe Research Institute, has a product called Holosync that has been on the market for close to 20 years. Holosync is an audio technology on CD that is listened to with headphones.

He says that one of the benefits of listening is an increased ability to handle whatever is "coming at you", in other words, an increased ability to handle stress.

In my experience with Holosync, I am definitely calmer than I used to be. As well, things that used to upset me a great deal, do not upset me nearly as much. So, in that sense, Bill was correct.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mind Maps

Did you ever wonder if there was a better way to take notes when learning something? A mind map is one of those ways.

A mind map is constructed by first writing the topic, or subject, in the centre of the page, with associated ideas then written on branches coming from the centre. Those ideas will have their own branches of ideas, and so on. Click here to see what one mind map looks like.

Tony Buzan, the inventor of the modern mind map, says that a mind map mirrors the way information is stored in the brain. This might not be far off since a mind map resembles a neuron in some ways, with the branches of the map as dendrites!

Brainstorming sessions are ideal for making mind maps of.

Traditionally, mind maps are done by hand. But with the capabilities of today's computer hardware and software, mind maps can just as easily be created on a computer. Where a hand drawn mind map will be limited in size by the size of the paper, a computer mind map will not have such limits (but maybe by the computer's memory, though!)

One notable software for creating mind maps is FreeMind, an open-source, freely downloadable software. FreeMind has convenient short-cut keys to quickly create the branches and sub-branches of a mind map.

Open source software, by the way, is software which has its programming code freely available and modifiable, and can usually be freely downloaded and copied (under an open source license). Since such software is worked on and tested by many developers, it is generally of high quality, rivaling similar, but proprietary, software. is a great place to find open source software.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Tooth Health

Do you brush your teeth with toothpaste? If you do, I don't think you should.

Don't agree? Hear me out for a minute.

According to Dr. Gerard Judd, a retired chemistry professor emeritus and author of the book Good Teeth from Birth to Death, toothpaste is not good to brush teeth with. The most important reason, he says, is that the fluoride in toothpaste is quite literally a poison.

As well, the glycerin in toothpaste is difficult to remove from teeth. I think this defeats the purpose of using a toothpaste, don't you?

Dr. Judd also says that bacteria does not cause teeth to decay. For proof, he tells us to simply look at the remains of dead animals left in nature whose bodies, including teeth, are exposed to bacteria. The only things that remain, even after hundreds of years, are the teeth and bones.

Sugar in food, he also says, plays very little role in causing tooth decay. It is actually the acid in food and drink that causes decay. The remedy is to sip or drink water after eating or drinking acidic foods, or even better, after eating or drinking anything at all! The water neutralizes the acid.

Dr, Judd finally says that soap is an ideal substance to clean teeth with. He cites several reasons.

There is a convenient soap-based product, that Dr. Judd personally recommends.

HD Wallpapers

If you were ever in the past bothered by not having the author's permission to use pictures downloaded from the internet as wallpapers, there is a site that has high-definition pictures that can be freely used as desktop wallpapers without the need of the respective author's permission. Any other use requires permission. There are many beautiful pictures to choose from on this site. I particularly like the nature wallpapers.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Energy Medicine

Have you ever wondered if there were other ways to heal what ails you other than by going to the doctor? This is one search I have been on for close to 10 years.

One thing I have come across is something called energy medicine. Energy medicine, or more generally, energy therapy, posits that there exists energy fields within our body. When we manipulate these fields with our hands, we can achieve an energetic balance, resulting in a healing of our body.

It's sounds a little out there, but I've had some success with it.

I first came across energy medicine while reading an article by Tom Dorzab, a retired biologist, in the monthly Reflections email newsletter sent out by Dr. Alex Lees, who is based in Vancouver.

Tom described a technique called a neurovascular hold. In a neurovascular hold, we place our hands on our head in order to promote blood flow to the corresponding areas of our brain. This improved blood flow results in reduced stress.

I was intrigued by the possibility that I could feel calmer simply by placing my hands on my head!

In the particular hold Tom described, one hand is placed on the forehead and one hand on the back of the head, promoting blood flow to front and back of the brain, respectively.

I wrote to him asking if he had any other techniques like this and he gave me the name of a book titled Energy Medicine, by Donna Eden.

Donna Eden, it turns out, is a leader in the energy medicine field. She has written several other books, including Energy Medicine, on this important subject.

There are numerous other exercises in Donna's books that can be done to maintain or even improve one's health and well-being.

Good luck on your search for improved health!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

One Strategy for Investing

Wanting to get back into stock market after being out for awhile, I decided to read more books on the subject. One book I wanted to get my hands on was The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham. He was described as the grandfather of value investing.

In my previous foray into investing, I did not approach it with a specific strategy, and managed to break even before getting out.

This time, I decided to do a little research before doing it again, and The Intelligent Investor seemed a good book to read, since I was intrigued by the value investing approach.

(To make my reading more efficient, I decided to apply some reading techniques that I learned from a PhotoReading course I had, mainly, by asking specific questions of the text. I think I might have even made a Mind Map of what I read.)

With the help of the commentary by Jason Sweig, I was able to glean some basic ideas:

  • There are two types of stock market investors: passive investors and active investors. To be an active investor, you would have to do an enormous amount of research and actively manage your investments full-time, somethings which most people would not be able, or willing to do, leaving the passive approach as the ideal one. The passive approach would require very little tinkering, and slight adjustments over the years. A "set-it-and-forget-it" technique.
  • The best way these days to implement a passive approach would be to invest in stock market index funds. The stocks in these funds are chosen by a set of rules to make it into the fund, as opposed to being actively managed by money managers. This might not be a bad thing seeing that the S&P 500 Index beats a great majority of money managers over the long term!
  • Almost no one should be 100% invested in stocks, since it is extremely difficult to hold on to stocks if there is a market crash. At least 25% should be in bonds. Should the market nose dive, you will have the guts to stay in the market, since the bonds you hold will maintain or increase in value during market downturns.
  • Investing should be done regularly, to yield the effects of Dollar-Cost Averaging (DCA): over time, the average cost you pay per unit will go down. The idealness of DCA, however, is up for debate. One school of thought suggests that yearly lump-sum investing actually yields higher returns over the dollar-cost averaging approach! Here is the study.
  • Of course, one must diversify his or her portfolio.
With that knowledge, I parked my savings for retirement into four different index funds offered by my bank: Bond Index, Canadian Index, U.S. Index, and International Index, with a pre-authorized purchase plan to automatically buy units every month.

That was in early 2008. I have now stopped contributing to that, and instead decided to do a lump-sum investment at the end of this year into my wife's retirement account.

Let's see how it goes.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Contrarian Investing

I remember way back in the late '90s my dad giving me a book Contrarian Investment Strategies by David Dreman. It started the ball rolling in my life to look for inspiration to do things differently from the mainstream.

That lead to a underlying personal view of life, that "if it is the harder way, it must be the better way, in the long run" In the example of investing, going against the crowd was hard, so therefore it must be right!

In practicality, since I started investing back in 1999 upto now, I'm down about $200 (if I sold my investments). So maybe this approach will take longer than I expected! At least I managed to keep most of the money I invested.