Author Archive for Siddharth Shah


Credit Card VANs

This was the question I was asked on Aadvark. This was the explanation I found on Citi Banks website.

By using Virtual Account Numbers, you get peace of mind knowing that your actual credit card number is never revealed to merchants, so it can’t be stolen from their files. Plus, each number can only be used with a single merchant, so it will be void if someone tries to use it elsewhere.

How does it work?

With this service, you never have to give out your real credit card number when shopping online. Instead, a substitute credit card number is generated to take the place of your real account number. Every purchase you make with Virtual Account Numbers will appear on your card statement, just like any other transaction. It’s the safe way to shop online.

How to use?

Step 1

First, you’ll need to log into your credit card account online. Most credit card companies put their virtual account number option in their “Tools” or “Services” menu.

Step 2

Click on the “Tools” menu and click on the link to “Generate a Virtual Account Number.”

Step 3

Most companies offer two options. Users may download a program that runs from their computers and is stored for later use or they may use the browser option, which runs directly from the credit card website.

Step 4

Choose whichever option suits your needs, then run the program following the instructions on the website. You may need to disable pop-up blockers to see the account number.

Step 5

The next window will display a virtual account number, an expiration date and the CVV (Card Verification Value) for use online. Write this information down.

Step 6

Now go shopping! When you are ready to checkout, enter the virtual card number at checkout instead of your actual account number. Be sure to use the expiration date and CVV assigned to the virtual number.

Step 7
If you are finished with the account number, you can log back into your credit card account and delete it. If not, check the expiration date provided and keep shopping!

Source: eHow


Types of Cheeses

Everytime I go to an Italian restaurant, I find the menu card full of different varieties of cheese. Mozarella, Chhedar, cottage cheese, parmesan and what not. This post is to figure out the differences between these and if possible, the usage.

Mozzarella: Favored for its mild, milky taste this type of cheese is more of a cooking cheese than a cheese board cheese due to its good binding properties, moist texture, and ability to melt. It absorbs the flavors and juices of the ingredients surrounding it and is perfectly designed for cooking. Mozzarella is also low in fat, therefore, it is ideal to use even when dieting. Mozzarella is the perfect cheese for Italian dishes or melted over tomatoes and garlic bread.
Cheddar: Cheddar can have a diverse selection of tastes that range from mild too sharp. This is dependent upon the age of the cheese. Mild Cheddar is perfect for sandwiches because it has a mellow balance of flavors. Sharp Cheddar is great for cooking because its flavor is released when heated and it shreds well. Sharp cheddar goes well in salads and sandwiches. It is a favorite for deli, and snack trays.

Brick: It is a mild, but also pungent, sweet tasting cheese. It is a semi-soft cheese that slices well without crumbling. Brick has a reddish-brown rind and its inside is yellow-white in color with many small holes. Brick is delicious with fruits and vegetables. It also goes well on sandwiches and snack trays.

Cottage Cheese: It is an adaptable source of protein for table use, snacks, salads, and in baking. The flavor goes well with fresh vegetables or condiments, such as peppers, olives, or pimientos, as well as with fruits, such as pineapple, peaches, or berries. Low-fat cottage cheese can be used to replace higher-fat-content cream cheese in desserts such as cheesecake and Danish pastry, and it’s good in savory baked dishes such as lasagna. Found in salad bars, it stands alone or goes well with fruit or as a side dish.

Parmesan: This is a hard, grainy textured cheese varying in shape and size. It’s used mainly as a grating cheese on many different types of foods and is a good cooking cheese because it does not form threads as it melts. Parmesan cheese will keep for years when it’s whole and will continue improving with age. A perfect topper for pizza and Italian dishes.

Read this for more



Heard about chatrooms, heard about social networking but this is an interesting concept. Chatroulette (chat-roulette) is a website that pairs random strangers for webcam-based conversations. Visitors to the website randomly begin an online chat (video, audio and text) with another visitor. At any point, either user may leave the current chat by initiating another random connection.

In early November 2009, shortly after the site launched, it had 500 visitors per day. One month later there were 50,000. The site has been featured in The New York Times,[2] New York magazine, and on Good Morning America, Newsnight in the United Kingdom, Tosh.0, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Chatroulette was even parodied in the South Park season 14 episode “You Have 0 Friends”. In February 2010, there were about 35,000 people on Chatroulette at any given time. Around the beginning of March, Ternovskiy estimated the site to have around 1.5 million users, approximately 33% of them from the United States and 5% from Germany.

My office website blocks chatroulette as Adult/Sexually explicit content. And there are reasons for it. Any website like this would be massively abused for spreading pornographic content. Approximately 1 in 10 of feeds from Chatroulette were either users exhibiting themselves in the nude or masturbating.

A video introduction to chatroulette could be found here.


The Sun

Found this beautiful pic of the Sun on the web. This one’s recently captured by SDO (Solar Dynamics Laboratory).

SDO: The Solar Dynamics Observatory is the first mission to be launched for NASA’s Living With a Star (LWS) Program, a program designed to understand the causes of solar variability and its impacts on Earth. SDO is designed to help us understand the Sun’s influence on Earth and Near-Earth space by studying the solar atmosphere on small scales of space and time and in many wavelengths simultaneously.

SDO’s goal is to understand, driving towards a predictive capability, the solar variations that influence life on Earth and humanity’s technological systems by determining

  • how the Sun’s magnetic field is generated and structured
  • how this stored magnetic energy is converted and released into the heliosphere and geospace in the form of solar wind, energetic particles, and variations in the solar irradiance.

Some more interesting pics and videos here


The Paradox of Choice

Had seen this TED video last weekend. Was something that convinced me to not have too many choices. We are exposed to just too many choices and which probably makes us unhappy too. The video gave some striking examples. The basic fundamental behind the theory is that eliminating consumer choices can greatly reduce anxiety for shoppers.

Schwartz describes that a consumer’s strategy for most good decisions will involve these steps:

  • Figure out your goal or goals
  • Evaluate the importance of each goal
  • Array the options
  • Evaluate how likely each of the options is to meet your goals
  • Pick the winning option
  • Modify goals

Schwartz finds that when people are faced with having to choose one option out of many desirable choices, they will begin to consider hypothetical trade-offs. Their options are evaluated in terms of missed opportunities instead of the opportunity’s potential. Schwartz maintains that one of the downsides of making trade-offs is it alters how we feel about the decisions we face; afterwards, it affects the level of satisfaction we experience from our decision.


sweat equity

It featured in the news that Sunanda Pushkar had on her own surrendered the sweat equity offered to her by Rendezvous Sports World, a member of the consortium that won the Kochi Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise.

So, what is sweat equity? Here is what Wiki has to say:

Sweat equity is a term used to describe the contribution made to a project by people who contribute their time and effort. It can be contrasted with financial equity which is the money contributed towards the project. It is used to refer to a form of compensation by businesses to their owners or employees. The term is sometimes used in partnership agreements where one or more of the partners contributes no financial capital. In the case of a business startup, employees might, upon incorporation, receive stock or stock options in return for working for below-market salaries (or in some cases no salary at all).


Church and Cathederal

Was roaming around in Bangalore sometime back and I was trying to figure out the name of the church. Whcih is when I stumbled on a church and a cathederal almost adjacent to each other, which made me wonder, what is a cathederal and how is it different from Church. From a lay mans point of view, a cathedral is much bigger than church. Lets find out the difference, if one exists.

Wiki Answers says

A church can be of any Christian religion, whether it be non-denomiational, Protosant, Catholic, etc.
A church is basically, no matter the religion, is a general place of worship where sacrements can be proformed and where (atleast in Roman Catholicism) the bread and wine become flesh and blood.
A cathedral, on the other hand is the (usually) the biggest church in the diocese. It is the seat of the bishop of that diocese, and usually in the biggest city or part of that diocese.

So definitely, a Cathedral is bigger than the church and probably holds more powers.

So what’s this blog about?

Another attempt? Well yes. Attempting to figure out another sustainable model (there are some other attempts going on parallel-ly). Well, we have a lot of questions in mind. we read up stuff, we do some research to find answers to these questions. This is an attempt to publish that little 15-20 minute research.
July 2018
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