Personalised Infographic – Kushal Ashok


This is what I ended up creating after going through the youtube bootcamp and pondering over the brand identity I would like to create for myself.  Though it is totally unrelated to the learnings I got from the camp, it somehow landed on me that one of the best visual experiences that I have showcased are info graphics. And though I started by looking for a template that could help me with the creation of my youtube channel art / banner; I eventually created this infographic that depicts some facts about me. This includes my introduction as a mobile application developer, my college CGPA, a breakdown of my activities and work.
I have even included my current typing speed which helps me create content while living up to my alias name @speedoholic.

Infographic Kushal Ashok

Created at

Defining Toastmasters with Infographics


I was preparing a sales pitch for introducing the idea of Toastmasters to my audience. That is when I decided that I shall use the most popular medium of conveying information these days, called infographics. I started off with a google search which took me to the list of tools at I first created an infographic by providing my Linkedin profile details to After going through a few more options and watching some videos, I finally started working on This post has some of the infographics that I created with this online tool within an hour or so. I am planning to use them in my presentation about Toastmasters and will be looking forward to the audience’s response.


“Every day above ground is a good day.” But what makes that day better is something that you can decide. After working for more than 9 hours (on clock) you need something to make you feel better. Unless you are an Apple developer with a 7-figure salary, your job is not going to do that for you. Toastmasters international has given us an opportunity to do just that; to come out of our 6 by 6 cubicle and use our voice to communicate our thoughts. Yes, this cannot happen over a Virtual classroom session, and yes this does not need a 6 digit passcode. But the way we interact in this room is far more clear and meaningful than any of the conference calls that you have attended today. And we are not alone in this. We have more than 292,000 comrades spread over the globe. That is more than twice the population of our favorite holiday destination Shimla. There are about 14,350 clubs functioning now in 122 different countries. Today I am going to put many such facts in front of you and let you decide the definition of a Toastmaster.

Toastmasters map

So where did this all begin from? There must be someone who thought about this first. Do any of you know the name of that person? Yes. It was in 1924 when Mr. Ralph C. Smedley organized the first ever Toastmasters meeting in Santa Ana, California. It took him two years to open a second club in the same city but then it gained momentum and within a year, the federation of toastmasters clubs was established. With the number of clubs increasing, it became difficult to keep up similarity, to follow the same rules. Because no matter how well you communicate with a person, you can never create a carbon copy of your thoughts in his mind. That is when the first manual for Toastmasters clubs was introduced in 1928.

In 1930, Toastmasters International got incorporated and the newsletter was rolled out. Thus it was clear that clubs were being formed outside of United States. The first of which was chartered in British Columbia, Canada. With more and more clubs being chartered, in just 8 years the count reached a 100. Remember that when I refer to 8 years as ‘just’, I am talking about chartering 100 new clubs when the task of introducing the idea of Toastmasters was totally different from giving a power-point aided presentation. And with the advent of the 100th club, began the inter-club speech contest.

30 years went by, and Mr. Smedley continued serving this non-profit educational organization. Thus, in 1963 he was acclaimed with the Golden Gavel award. After 2 years, he died; but he left an idea; an idea that we all are celebrating here today; an idea that has changed thousands of lives. But did you know that Toastmasters clubs were only open to men? It was only in 1973 when women were welcomed as club members. And as I will show you with the help of my next graphic, this gender base got quite strong.

As with the timeline, technology was developing fast. In 2007, the got completely redesigned. Though I am not very impressed with the present design either; I felt better when I learned that not only a twitter feed was launched, but also an e-learning platform was developed in the year 2009. Finally in the year 2011, a major step was taken which is most important for any brand’s development. A unique logo was designed and was propagated to all the clubs via various brand refresh techniques such as the video brand contest.

Toastmasters International Timeline

When I compared the member count to the population of Shimla, I was talking about a specific group of people. So definitely, we need to look at who these people are. In contrast with the fact that women started joining 50 years late, the average percentage of female members in a Toastmasters club is 52%.

It is often said, “Behind every successful man there is a woman”. But in this case, along with every successful man, there was a successful woman. This fact gets established when we look at the average annual income of toastmasters which ranges from 50,000 to 75,000 dollars. 30% of these members earn more than 100,000 dollars annually. And I assure you that I am not talking about billionaires like Dhirubhai Ambani or Subhash Chandra Goel who never attended any college. Most of these members have a Bachelor’s degree and 35% of them have completed their masters too. These masterminds are working at renowned corporates like Google, Apple, Sony and Disney.

Toastmasters member demographics

So what makes you a Toastmaster? I mean, who is a Toastmaster? What does this person do? I will take the help of this Venn diagram to explain. The three essential ingredients are confidence, voice modulation and content. To have an effective stage presence you need proper gestures that you can use while showcasing your acting skills. Your expressions play an important role in convincing your audience. You should try practicing in front of a mirror and learn when to change the pitch and tone of your voice. While such practice sessions help you remember the content, only with experience can you meet mastery. And as you gain confidence, the importance of the other factors starts reducing. For instance, if you don’t have this big pie of content ready. Just take part in the table-topics and try to speak impromptu. At the end of the day, this wish to speak is what makes a toastmaster.

About a Toastmaster

Reference: Wikipedia and

DIY Painted Canvas Shoes


I bought a pair of canvas shoes for attending the SSB interview but I couldn’t find much use of them later. Thus I decided to experiment with them.
I started off with some pencil markings and made a rough design and then used water colors to get it done.
Click on any of these images to use the gallery:

They look good to me and are working fine with their color as is.




Note: This is a re-created post. Find the original content by using reference links (PFB).

Mobile platforms are going to be harder to secure

Lost and stolen

Lost and stolen smartphones and other mobile devices are the biggest mobile security threat to enterprises, according to security experts watching the evolving threat landscape. Yet, the hype around malware would lead users to believe otherwise.
The risk of an employee leaving their smartphone behind at a restaurant or bar and having it fall into the wrong hands is far greater than an employee downloading malware onto their device.
Device owners rarely use a passphrase or code to protect unauthorized access to their device. That leaves the phone wide open to a thief. Contacts, email messages and data saved in some applications can be easily accessed by the average criminal. While most enterprise mobile security software suites have device location and wipe features, but a lack of security policy around personally owned devices means many employees and their organizations remain at risk. By the time a device is reported lost or stolen, a thief could have already made off with the data.
Near field communications (NFC)

The potential still exists for a sustained and exponential increase in mobile device attacks, but it will likely take years before cybercriminals flock from the desktop to mobile devices, he said. New payment technologies, such as near field communications (NFC), which can turn any smartphone into a virtual credit card, may make attackers take a closer look at mobile platforms.

Fewer security controls

The attack surface is much greater on mobile devices and there are far fewer security controls. You can do everything you can do on a laptop but you also have other things like location information, an SMS channel, voice dialing, a camera and sensors that are a potential way in. These are still the early days and we still need to get a handle on the new risks and threat models and learn how to use some of the security strengths of the mobile platforms correctly

Geolocation madness

A device user’s location can be an extremely valuable piece of data for marketers. It also can add important and valuable functionality for certain applications.

Privacy protection legislation will mostly address location-based services, but look for loopholes put in place for mobile carriers and other entities. We’re going to see indiscriminant use of location-based information become a crime. Cybercriminals could eventually latch onto this location-based services trend with malware and other tricks that take advantage of location data to trick users into giving up more sensitive information about themselves, including account credentials.

Excessive permissions

Application permission requests were built into mobile platforms as a way to improve security, but those notifications, which require the end user to confirm an application’s breadth on a device, are being largely disregarded by device users. People are quick to choose functionality over security and privacy. Most device owners continue to give applications elevated privileges and that means the latest game they downloaded may have the functionality to tap into the device’s messaging app or location data.

Carrier IQ software
This diagnostics application was placed on some devices by mobile carriers, but the software was not always optional, and in many cases users didn’t even know it was on their devices. Security and privacy advocates were outraged because the software could report GPS location data, record which dialer buttons were being pressed and the URLs being visited by device owners.

Unsecure Wi-Fi

Most devices automatically roam for the nearest open Wi-Fi hotspot. Unfortunately, automated tools make it easy for just about anyone to snoop on people or even take over their browsing session. Researchers have demonstrated that by using basic tools of the trade they could take over a person’s unsecure webmail session, Twitter or other social media account. Many services, including Google, have responded, supporting encrypted sessions that protect users on open Wi-Fi, but the threat remains.

Websites that don’t use SSL/TLS encryption correctly could be putting smartphone users at risk to a well-known Wi-Fi hotspot attack called sidejacking.

Mobile application vulnerabilities

The Google Android and Apple iOS app stores have given rise to a new crop of mobile application developers. Mobile application frameworks lack maturity, and when combined with the need for speed, that has resulted in applications with shoddy code, flaws and functionality that is not needed. Some developers churn out new mobile applications too quickly. Researchers studying mobile applications are finding a lot of coding errors. Speed leads to costly mistakes, such as authentication or authorization errors, poor file-system permissions and application permissions that are too lax.

Mobile operating system threats: ANDROID

Android has been the most successful mobile operating system this year and rules more than 50% of the market. This success has made it a target and all the rivals as well as the cybercriminals have made various applications for android that are malicious. All these activities are being performed in order to rage the android users and kill Google’s market.
Google has taken action to delete more than a dozen cloned applications hosted on its Android Market after they were found to be malicious, racking up expensive text messaging charges on owners smartphones. Google’s reaction has been quick, but not quick enough, at least ten thousand users downloaded one of the malicious apps from the list.

One of the most popular hidden Trojan is called DroidDream which gives cybercriminals the ability to break out of Android’s built-in application security sandbox feature.

Flawed Android Apps

Mobile developers building applications for Android devices are making many of the same mistakes as enterprise developers, and those poor coding practices may be rendering encryption and other security features ineffective.


Hard-code cryptographic keys

The Developers sometimes hard-code cryptographic keys to make it easier to develop the application.
40% of Android applications contain at least one instance of hard-coded cryptographic keys. The practice gives every user of an application the same encryption key, which is similar to everyone within an organization using the same password to secure their data. Because Android applications are easy to decompile, an attacker can easily extract and publicize hard-coded keys.
Coding errors abound in mobile apps, because the tools and frameworks for building them are less mature.

Application permissions
As with all Android applications, users must choose to allow the permissions requested by applications before they can be installed. Permissions are displayed by the Android operating system under broad headings that summarizes the implications of the permissions requested. For example the permission to allow an application to send SMS or MMS messages is organized under the easy to understand heading of “Services that costs you money”.  Understanding these permissions can help users avoid applications which make unnecessary requests. In this particular instance, the applications ask for the permission to send SMS messages – a service that will cost you money (something users should think twice about before accepting and proceeding with the install).

Android’s success makes it a target
Microsoft is using the latest malware campaign aimed at rival Android to give away new Windows 7 Phones to the five Android users who tell the best tales of woe.

Other platforms won’t be safe either
We’ve already seen it done in the Android Market and we’re bound to see it happen on other platforms. Rather than traditional desktop malware, “Trojanized” applications could initially cause trouble to individual owners and ultimately be a problem for enterprises. Attackers could steal account credentials and use them against corporate networks or they can tap into freely available information – data found on Facebook and other social networks – to conduct targeted social engineering attacks against employees. In other words, If someone loses their phone and an attacker gets access to that application, the attacker could basically get access to all the data that everyone in the organization can access.

Conclusion:Even though we don’t know how everything is going to get attacked, we can still be prudent in how we go about building mobile applications.


Magnet U – World’s first wearable social accessory


Note: This is a re-created post. Find the original content by using reference links (PFB).

Magnet U – A Social Proximity Gadget


Wireless communication is most widely used by the mobile devices in today’s scenario. But a mobile phone only allows us to connect with the people we already know or have some details about. Also, in the case of smart phones, one can access the social networking websites but that doesn’t help us know about the real people that might be sitting around us.

It has often been said that the online social networking is killing the real social life of the people. But this won’t be a problem if the online world and real world are merged into each other.

Now, it is possible to take online social networking into the real world, MagnetU bridges the online and the physical.

World’s first wearable social accessory

Connecting users with people they like, and with the businesses they frequent, magnetU is the world’s first wearable social accessory that lets people wear their social desires, allowing immediate social gratification anywhere, anytime.

Dynamic social networks of proximity

MagnetU creates dynamic social networks of proximity between people in the real world. Through a fun concept of “Attractive” – “Hot” – “Red Hot” social match messages, or simply by “cheers” your magnetU with others, magnetU connects users with mutually matched social desires when they are in the same place or in a network of proximity of potentially hundreds of meters. It’s fun and valuable – you can be in the magnetU network whether you are indoor or outdoor, it can work anywhere. magnetU also bridges loyalty programs and physical advertising with online social networking. There’s a whole range of apps for one’s social desires: socializing, social business card exchange, dating, business matches – and more to come.

Connected by a Virtual network cable

MagnetU brings together social networking, mobile telephony and proximity technology, creating the first ever, patent-pending, dynamic mobile network of proximity. It builds dynamic mobile human networks with the people around you – as they walk or stand, anywhere – indoor or outdoor, without even knowing of your actual location! The magnetU network grows organically as users go about their daily activities. People are moving, running, walking and magnetU uses this mobile dynamic environment like they are all connected through a “network cable”.

 MagnetU Profiles

For magnetU, every profile that users wear is actually an application. For example, a profile form that is focused on socializing is used for social applications, a business matches profile is used by business people, and so on. One won’t need to actually develop an application, but a profile form. One can develop different types of profiles, which are themselves applications. The profiles can then be put on our profile applications store, and downloaded by magnetU users.

How it works?

MagnetU is a tiny device that travels along with you and seeks out other MagnetU users. If two social profiles are a good fit, it will notify users of each other’s proximity.

Here’s how it works. Load up the MagnetU application, create a set of “social desires,” and hook it up with Facebook and Twitter. The gadget connects with your phone using Bluetooth.

When social desires mesh, you get a message on your phone that ranks the match as “attractive,” “hot,” or “red-hot.”

Clinking two MagnetU devices together links up your social profiles so you can stay connected with your new BFF after you’ve parted ways.

This sounds like a natural fit for the club and dating scene, but it could also come into play as a business-networking tool for large conferences or events.

Changing profiles

Users can change the profiles they broadcast, or their “social desires,” depending on the situation. You might use a “social” profile that describes your ideal date when you’re out to a bar and a “business” profile that describes your ideal business partner when you’re at a conference. Brands can develop a social desires profile too. A concert venue might, for instance, develop a profile that connects users with similar music tastes.

What is expected?

Instead of setting your gaze permanently at nametag level during conferences, you’d receive a text message when someone with a relevant business opportunity enters the room. And at a concert, you’d know who shares your taste in music without borrowing their iPods.

Privacy settings
When two devices make a mutually satisfying match, they alert their owners via SMS message or mobile app, ranking the strength of the match and delivering whatever contact information the device owners have allowed in their privacy settings.

Exchange of Information

MagnetU also provides Bump-like exchanges of contact information. When users press a “cheers” button and knock their devices together, they automatically send each other friend requests on all of their social networks, in addition to any contact information they’ve listed in their profiles.

Low Cost

A MagnetU device costs only $24. Given its low cost and the attractive features, it has a very good possibility of becoming popular. Everyone around you will be walking around with a MagnetU in their pockets.

 Better than GPS, Foursquare and other social networks

GPS doesn’t work indoors, drains your mobile battery and impedes on your privacy by making your physical location known.

It can also be considered better than Foursquare. From a marketing perspective, this would be like a version of Foursquare that doesn’t require a checkin. From a social perspective, however, it’s a very different thing than Foursquare. Instead of being an extension to offline connections, it creates them.

The device will contain all your social network profiles including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others.

As one need to use a device separate from the smartphone, MagnetU’s success hinges on enough people adopting it.


“It isn’t telling you where your friends are; it’s actually making new connections with new people.”


Energy harvesting ideas on Discovery News


I just came across some very nice ideas on Discovery news.

The first one was about using the kinetic energy of vehicles to produce electricity as they pass over speed bumps.

Speed bumps

Click to read the concerned article

And the other one used a similar concept for making tiles to harvest energy of footsteps.

tiles_discovery news

Click to read the concerned article

These inventions are magnificent. But can they really help us?

This comment from Mr. Bob might enlighten a bit:

Bob (Sunday, October 23, 2011, 02:31:13) : I wonder if they’ve gotten the production costs down to where it becomes profitable for corporations?  These sustainable energy technologies are great, but the inventors really need to focus on getting production costs down, or they’re just expensive toys.  No organization will buy these tiles if they’re so expensive that the first investment outweighs the energy savings over the life of the tile.
I hope such ideas can be put to their best use, which can be made possible if the government and concerned organizations put their interest to it.

P.S. : We need invention and innovation to succeed. 

Google Plus pages I created


The Google Plus Pages just got rolled out and I couldn’t stop myself from trying my hand on them. Though I only wanted to test it, i ended up creating 5 pages.

The first was made for my father’s company and I recorded the screen while making it. You can watch the screenr here:

Just as I was going through pages created by other users, I decided to make one for my blog.

Then I came across a page which was dedicated by a person to his pet.

So I thought, if people are making pages for their pets, why not I make one for my motorcycle. After all it is more important to me than a pet.

Well this page was solely for updates related to my motorcycle and being a motorcycling enthusiast I wanted to share more than that. So I created another page called “Motorcycle Diaries” which I am hoping to use for sharing updates about anything related to motorcycling.
I started off by sharing my blog post in which I wrote about my fantasy.

At last, I created the 5th page dedicated to my passion for Korean Movies. I gave it the same handle as it’s twitter counter part “Kus Korea” and shared some photographs that were already saved in my dropbox.

Right now, I am not sure whether I’ll be able to timely update so many pages or not. But I created them nevertheless.

The one thing that I noticed while doing all this is that, there is no functionality for sharing a post directly on my page while I am browsing as a Google Plus profile. Though I hope that they will add this feature soon, coz it would be too messy to switch between my profile and pages every time.

To create your own Google Plus Page, visit:
If you are not on G+ yet, email me your id at to get an invitation.

Related article:

How to enable the new facebook timeline


To get the new facebook timeline NOW visit:

I have been enjoying the new timeline since over a month and found it pretty useful and ripe to toy with.

Have a look at what my timeline looks like:

Fb timeline

New Facebook Timeline

The new facebook timeline seems to have inspired from an attempt of featuring the journey of life in a very artistic way. Have a look at my lifepath:

Kushal Ashok's lifepath
Personally I just love the new timeline. It has made me re-think about shifting to G-Plus.
Also, I didn’t find any problem in searching for the recent updates which has been considered as the main setback. (according to the article at ReadWriteWeb.)

Rather it arranges all the updates so well chronologically that one can enjoy going up and down the line.

Though I would accept that it could be made better by allowing the viewer to decide which information is he looking for. This is possible by giving him the full control.

Like there could be options to directly enter the exact date or an approximate month for which one  needs to find the facebook udpates.

Although same thing has been tried by providing an expandable version of the timeline on the RHS, but that doesn’t help much because it is not exact and often slips into the wrong time period.

Along with this, one should be able to choose what kind of information is he or she looking for; viz. photos, links or status updates.
Such feature has already been showcased in the mobile version of facebook.
Thus, there shouldn’t be any problem in implementing such a thing.

The new facebook timeline allows one to go through the whole life of a person on facebook. This new feature, not only makes your facebook profile look good, but you can also arrange your achievements and other activities pretty well. Contrarily, in the old wall version, just imagine scrolling down hundreds of updates.

Now you can see how many friends have been made, what major activities were performed and how many likes were clicked in a particular month or year. From the date of joining facebook, to the recent updates, this makes browsing the history quite entertaining. This is why the new facebook timeline can be a huge success.

As for the privacy, there shouldn’t be an issue because the user still has complete control on what he wants to share and with whom. Rather you can simply keep it to yourself and still maintain a complete log of your life. One can always scroll down the timeline, look at the old photographs or comment-wars with friends and fall into reminiscence.

I hope Facebook will come forward with some good changes and launch the timeline for everyone soon enough.

Can’t wait to browse more lives!

Related article:  Ottawa Citizen

Inter-circle MNP might be coming soon


Image: Mobile services in India
According to the recent news, soon the mobile users will be able to use MNP (Mobile Number Portability) when they shift from one circle to another.

For those who couldn’t understand, India is being divided into various circles/zones for providing mobile communication. Each service provider may offer different services in different circles. For example, a message pack’s cost might be different in Delhi from it’s value in Mumbai.

Now this is just a declaration, that such things have been proposed. There has been no intimation of the approximate date of this change. Do keep in mind that such decisions may take a long time for affectation. For instance, MNP was proposed in India in 2005 and it could only be implemented after 5 years in October, 2010. (Just for the record, MNP has been present in Japan since 1999.)

Zee news : A new policy that will help users avail free roaming services across the country and inter-circle mobile number portability.
Hindustan Times :  Mobile phone service consumers may be allowed mobile number portability even if they shift from one state to another.