We have moved !!

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags on January 28, 2009 by Mandar Vaze
We've Moved

We’ve Moved

Dear Visitor,

Desi Penguin’s blog has moved to its own domain.

All the existing posts will still be available here for at least some time. Eventually I plan to delete this blog.

The new posts will be available only at http://mandarvaze.github.io/

Please Update your Bookmarks !!

-Desi Penguin


Access your todo list from mutiple locations

Posted in Hack, Open Source, Productivity, Python, Tutorials with tags , , , on January 17, 2009 by Mandar Vaze

Here is a clever method to access your todo list from multiple locations.


  • todo.sh – This is a command line shell scripts which allows to manage your TO DO list
  • DropBox Account : Free, Syncs various computers, Cross Platform (at least works on Windows as well as Linux)


  • Make Sure you have installed Dropbox clients on all of your machines (Mainly Work and Home)
  • Download and install todo.sh in your Dropbox folder. This is main trick to make your TODO list portable.
  • You need to modify the .todo file (or todo.py script itself) to set the TODO_DIR variable. I’ve created a folder called “tododir” in my Dropbox folder, and set the TODO_DIR variable as “tododir”. This helps avoiding path problems on various machines.
  • (Optional) Read the tutorial available at LifeHacker
  • Open command Prompt, and take charge of your TODO lists.

Why This Idea Rocks

  • Since the todo list is maintained as simple text file, any machine/platform allows you to directly view and edit your todo list.
  • While one would install Dropbox clients on all of their regularly used machines, You can always view and edit your todo.txt even from a cyber cafe, using Dropbox’s web interface.

Are you on Windows ?

  • If you are on Windows, you will require cygwin which provides unix utilities on windows. (I was unable to get todo.sh working with mSys, which I got as part of mSys Git (More about it later, in another post))
  • There is a variation of todo.sh written in Python (which is what I’m using these days). If which case, you need Python instead of Cygwin. Python version supports color coding of the items based on priority even on Windows.

Can I not just use USB Drive instead ?

  • Sure you can.  But some employers do not allow the employees to connect their personal USB devices to office computers. (Security, Virus threats) in which case Dropbox is better alternative.
  • Even Cyber cafe won’t allow to plug in your USB drive, but you sure can access your files from Web Front end of Dropbox.

Python : Fun with subprocess.stdin

Posted in Code, Python on January 13, 2009 by Mandar Vaze

As part of some automation work,  I needed to execute a program which requires each command to be explictely validated by the user by expliciltely selecting “y” or “n” , on the command line. Since I was processing a large number of files, I decided to use python script.

I used the subprocess module of python to invoke the external program. It was easy to capture the output sent on stdout. In order to send ‘y‘ on stdin for each iteration,  I tried sending ‘y‘ on stdin, but that would not work.  The script would hang. After discussing this, with more experienced python programmer, it was suggested that one possible reason why the script hangs is may be because the stdin buffer wasn’t flushed.  Both of us were not sure how to do that. Then it was discussed that when we run the external program from command line, we not only type ‘y‘ as response, but we also hit Enter there after, which results in flushing the stdin buffer. So may be that is what I ought to try.

To my surprise, it worked. So the solution was to pass ‘y/n‘ instead of single ‘y

Here is how my code looked like :

import subprocess
cmd = "...." # The command you wish to execute
proc = subprocess.Popen(cmd,
print proc.communicate('Y\n')[0]

Productive use of Active Desktop – More ideas

Posted in Hack, Productivity with tags on January 7, 2009 by Mandar Vaze

Once you understand the idea behind using the Active Desktop, you can come up with several creative and unique ideas to make this feature work for you.  Let me get you started by listing some that came to my mind.

  1. Apart from the mini phone list, I also have my Plan of the Week, as another HTML on my Desktop. At the end of each week, I create the plan of next week (Friday 4-6PM). Again, it is very easy to convert any piece of text into an HTML.
  2. Use a web page as Sticky Note to yourself. No Coding needed. Check this out.
  3. You can put your Google Calendar on your Desktop.

Please share your ideas in the comments

Productive Use of Active Desktop

Posted in Hack, Productivity, Tutorials with tags on January 5, 2009 by Mandar Vaze

Refer to my previous post about displaying my To Do list on the Desktop. I have since stopped using todo.sh for various reasons. But I continue to use the Active Desktop feature of Windows XP.  One of the use I have found, is to display a mini phone list.

Continue reading

Ginko: Quick note taking with Outlook

Posted in Productivity with tags , on January 2, 2009 by Mandar Vaze

I came across this really neat tool for quick note taking. It is called Ginko (after Ginko Biloba which is memory enhancer herb)

I had downloaded it earlier, gave it a try and realized that I am not using it the way it is to be used, so I stopped using it for few months. Then after a while I really need to create a @TODO folder in Outlook so that I can track my action items. I started moving the emails which required some action from my side into this folder. But quickly I realized that there are action items originating outside the emails. I had thought of writing an email and send it to myself,that is when I remembered that I know of a tool which does exactly same thing.

But I couldn’t remember the name of the application, so I searched my machine using X1, trusty desktop search engine. After couple of combination of search terms, I was able to find it in my download folder. Rest was easy. I had used it earlier, so I knew I needed to edit the .hta file to point it to correct Folders. As soon as I was done, I was able to jot down the next TODO item. It was that easy.

More about this tool at the author’s page here.

Originally Published on Jul 18, 2006

Looking back at 2008

Posted in Uncategorized on December 31, 2008 by Mandar Vaze

First of all, let me Wish A Very Happy New Year 2009 !! to all my readers.

Some of the highlights of my life in 2008

  • I think biggest change in 2008 was that I joined PuneTech, Started attending Pune Open Office Club meeting regularly, with the intent of networking with Start-ups in Pune. I was very lone-ranger kind of person, never left comfort of my home/office. Towards the end of 2008, I am a changed man. (Hopefully for the better)
  • Joined twitter.  Thanks to Navin Kabra for his inspiring post.
  • Started learning python
  • Made my first open source contribution : Always had the intention, but nothing was done till end of 2008. I hope this is a good start.
  • Resurrected my technical blog (This one)

Other smaller changes, related to Tech, in 2008 for me :

  • Moved to Executor, from DOMercury, since DOMercury requires .NET framework which I was not allowed to installed, at my new office.
  • Started using Portable Apps wherever I can : Thanks to IT Lockdown at my new office. I think it was boon in disguise
  • Created Dropbox account.

See my other blog, for similar list for other changes in my life in 2008