• tech

    How to improve your online reading?

    Most people don’t care about readability of an online article, few of us however, do. No matter how good the content is, if the website (and hence the article) is littered with inline ads, bad formatting, or even gaudy typography - I prefer not to read it as is.

    Here are some tips to get around such websites, and have a great reading experience. I have divided my suggestions in multiple levels, with Level 0 being reading an article as-is.

    Level 1: Use adblocker

    At a minimum use an adblocker wherever you can! It not only provides a better reading experience by blocking ads, but also saves network bandwidth and improves your security by blocking malicious websites.

    On a laptop or desktop computer, use adblocker in every browser you have. Additionally, you should use some privacy preserving plugins like Ghostery. I recommend researching some fast, private adblockers and choosing what works best for you.

    On mobile-iOS, you can use adblockers for Safari browser as custom plugins.

    On mobile-Android, Google is notorious for not allowing ad block plugins in Chrome (why would they, it directly conflicts with their ad empire after all). You still have a couple of options:

    1. Use non-google browsers like Firefox/Samsung Internet which allow you to add custom ad blockers.

    Following options will provide ad blocking not just in web browsers, but also in most apps.

    1. Use an adblocker that creates a local VPN.
    2. Use a VPN service that provides network level adblock protection like Surfshark, TunnelBear or NordVPN.
    3. Use DNS level ad blocking, like from NextDNS.
    4. For advanced users, build a network level ad blocker like Pi-hole.

    I use NextDNS, and on an average it is consistently blocking 13-14% of ads/trackers on my network.

    For an up to date list of tools and browser plugins I use, you can see this: New Mac Setup - Docs

    Level 2: Level 1 + Reader Mode

    Every major browser supports reader mode which strips away all formatting and presents an article in a consistent, clear interface. On one end, Safari’s reader mode is the best IME, on the other end, Chrome makes it unnecessarily difficult to find but there is one.

    To enable Chrome’s hidden reader mode: Visit chrome://flags/#enable-reader-mode in a new tab and Enable it. Or simply search and use any reader mode chrome extension.

    Level 3: Level 2 + Use Read Later services

    Next level is using Read Later services like Instapaper or Pocket. Both provide easy ways to add articles directly from your browsers, a clean beautiful interface and a slew of features like highlighting, offline reading, local copy, etc. on their premium tier. I recommend Instapaper over Pocket for its privacy and focus on reading (versus social/sharing aspects of Pocket).

    Level 4: Level 3 + RSS Readers

    RSS readers provide an automatic way to keep up with latest content from your favorite sources or authors, and read it via an RSS reader app in a clean interface. If you’re new, I suggest starting with a free app like Feedly. I use Feedbin (subscription based) and a couple of RSS readers (Unread, NetNewsWire).

    I hope these workflows improve your reading experience as much as they have improved mine. Happy reading!

    Sunday February 13, 2022
  • books

    Book review: The Ride of a Lifetime

    Finished reading: The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger 📚

    I picked up this book based on my buddy Bill’s recommendation (pun intended), he calls it one of the rare business books he’d actually recommend. With such high praise I was naturally curious, and boy did I love this book!

    Part memoir, part business wisdom, Bob Iger (CEO, Walt Disney company 2005–2020) shares his story of growing through the ranks at ABC Network to become an executive, and then joining Disney as COO when ABC was acquired by Disney in mid 1990s. Bob shares many interesting episodes like his bid to become the CEO and how he got the job; blockbuster acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilms (Star Wars franchise) and 21 Century Fox; and his friendship with Steve Jobs.

    Written in an engaging narrative with business and leadership wisdom sprinkled throughout, the book doesn’t get too preachy and the story of how Bob transformed Disney keeps you hooked.

    My rating: 5/5.

    Wednesday September 8, 2021
  • books

    Book review: Lifespan

    Recently read: Lifespan: Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To by David Sinclair 📚

    This book was a random pick from the local library. I challenged myself to read a book on a different domain, and it turned out to be great. The premise, that you can increase your lifespan to 150 even 200 years, was mind bending and the book lived up to it.

    Lifespan talks about latest research from cellular biology about aging and how it can be slowed, heck, even reversed. Author, David Sinclair, is a researcher at Harvard, and the book is a distilled down version of research from his field.

    The gist of slowing aging, according to the book, is: Intermittent fasting, cold showers, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) at least once a week and taking drugs like NMN to boost NAD (a lifespan enabler molecule that we keep losing as we age). This is a good book summary if you’re curious, or I recommend at least watching some of the author’s interviews.

    My rating: 4/5.

    Friday September 3, 2021
  • books

    Book review: In Order to Live

    Recently finished: In Order to Live, A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park 📚.

    This memoir is honest, heart-breaking and hard-hitting.

    It shows the things we take for granted, say, being able to eat eggs in morning (Park mentions, they’d eat eggs once or twice a year (!!) in N.Korea) to basic human rights and freedom, are far more valuable than we presume. Despite its heavy subject, the book reads like a thriller and oddly, is even funny in places.

    My rating: 5/5.

    Monday August 30, 2021
  • journal


    Shenandoah National Park was all cloudy and misty today. Beautiful drive!

    Sunday August 29, 2021