Thursday, 1 September 2011

Gaamani - Awesome Sinhala Movie

I was interested in watching Gaamani as soon as I heard it was based on a true incident. I was expecting a good movie but what I got was an awesome movie. It had everything a movie lover would like to have. Good acting, entertaining dialogues and some nice action sequences. It gives you a great picture of the brutality of the war and what people in the villages near the war zone had to go through during that period. The opening scenes are definitely not for the faint hearted. The middle of the movies is the part I enjoyed the most with some nice acting and funny dialogues. The film goes on for about two and a half hours and you wont feel the time pass. A thoroughly entertaining movie although I wouldn't say its a family movie.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Refresh Colombo August 2011

With the new rules in place it isn't exactly easy to leave office at 5 when you get there by 9, so this time I was a bit late to arrive for Refresh Colombo. Took the 154 because it is easier and only one bus but it took close to 45 minutes to reach Royal from Wellawatta. I could have gotten there faster by walking. I did manage to catch part of the first presentation and it was about

Breaking Down Information Barriers with Technology and Social Sharing

It was done by Charitha and his Twitter handle is @diya_rakusa. I don't know what he said in the beginning but it is probably about SL2College which provided free advice and guidance for Sri Lankan students who wants to pursue higher studies. This is a great idea and and something really useful for any Sri Lankan. There forum section seems to have wealth of information for students looking to study abroad. As he mentioned in the presentation they give data to the students so they can make up there own minds. Useful as it is there website can do with some redesigning. I have no idea whats the purpose of having "Welcome to SL2College" at the top of the website. That seems to me like a waste of prime website space.
The questions after the presentation also went very well. There were some discussions about how Sri Lanka can attract Sri Lankans who go abroad for studies. Quality of life in different countries, mindset and the maturity level of the individuals leaving the country, salary scales offered for individuals and the area of expertise pursued by users all contribute to making the decision to come back. And according to the bold headed WSO2 guy US job opportunities are going down and in the future there will be more and more high tech job opportunities that pays well available for Sri Lankans.

Cloud Computing Facts and Myths

The next presentation was done by Samisa Abeysinghe who is VP Engineering at WSO2. He went on to explain what cloud computing is and the facts and myths about cloud computing. It was a simple and to the point presentation and very useful for someone like me who always wondered what cloud computing is. If you are a Sri Lankan you should be proud that a company like eBay that handles millions of transactions uses WSO2 ESB software for there day to day operations. By the way WSO2 sponsored today's Refresh Colombo and the food was great. I especially liked the roll :-) .

Generating and Selling Tech Business Ideas

Although the first two presentation were great I was really looking forward to the presentation by Adnan or commonly known as kiriappeee. It was a very inspiring and thought provoking presentation about coming up with business ideas. As he said Sri Lankans are very good at finding faults so if you use the same energy to find a solution then you can come up with plenty of business ideas. Ideas are a strange thing, they come to everyone but the problem is most people don't realize it. Even if they realize it they hardly act upon those ideas which is the reason for low number of entrepreneurs. Since I make a living out of writing articles I have my special system to store my article writing ideas whenever they come up. You can read more about that here at my blog. He generously gave away his email address so if you think you have a bright idea you can discuss it with him. If you can find it do try to find his presentation which can be very useful to anyone who thinks he has a great idea.
Then there was a final announcement about the TweetupSL which is happening on 27, August. I got my TweetupSL T-shirt today and it is awesome. As usual Refresh Colombo was great and if you are doing something related to technology or online business then this is a must visit event. Hope to see you all tomorrow at TweetupSL.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Blogging Builds Your Brand

Blogging is a great tool to build your brand and share your knowledge. It is also a great way to build your authority in an area. I have being blogging about various things related to making money online in Sri Lanka and this led to several job offers recently. I guess the offers suddenly came in a short space of time because I ranked for certain keywords very recently. Just goes to show the power of SEO and why it is almost insane that more Sri Lankan companies are not doing it. With a few tweaks you can rank for almost any keyword related to Sri Lanka and the traffic potential for some of these keywords are huge. Since no one is doing that I can write a simple post about anything, rank for it and make money with Adsense. Want to know what SEO is and about SEO in Sri Lanka ? Click Here.
As I said blogging has helped me build a brand for myself and when you get few job offers it makes it worthwhile. But when you get few offers its not easy to choose a one. First of all there is the disappointment of loosing all your friends in the current workplace. The new salary package is also a consideration. Then there is the possibility to learn and expand your knowledge. There isn't exactly a course to learn social media marketing, SEO and conversion optimization in Sri Lanka. What you know is what you learn from reading and experimenting. And the ability to expand that knowledge is also a good motivation.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Refresh Colombo - July 2011

After missing the last two events I was very eager to attend the July edition of Refresh Colombo. I was very bitter about missing the last edition because there was a presentation about mobile marketing. I guess you can't have everything in life. There was a huge crowd for the event, probably somewhere close to 150. This is the largest crowd I have seeing after the FireFox party. The organizers were actively promoting the event by mailing previous participants and encouraging them to display poster in there offices and universities and the large crowd could be a result of that. Kudos to @nazly, @alokag, @HamidAfzal and everyone else who plays a part in organizing such a useful event.


The first presentation was about MongoDB, done by Dinesh and Susantha. A nice comparison was done between the traditional databases and mongoDB.Different situations where mongoDB can improve performance in certain cases were also discussed. There was a small demonstration as well showing how easy it is to add, delete and modify records etc. From what I understood the main idea with mongoDB is to reduce the disk space as much as possible and thereby improve performance. ( mongoDB experts feel free to correct me in the comments section). Another good things about mongoDB is you don't need to do any installations. Its just matter of running an executable file. Since I'm having trouble installing various Oracle versions and finding compatible PLSQL developer versions this sounds like a great idea. And there are no JOIN's :-) . I hate joins, specially when there are like four joins in one big view.

Social Media beyond Marketing

The next presentation was by Thushara Hettihamu who is a senior manager in Dialog Axiata. He spoke about how dialog is using social media to respond to customer inquiries etc. I have being using Twitter for a while now and have seeing some complains about dialog and its a good things that they are actively using social media to counter those things. If you want a quick response from dialog the best things to do is post it on there Facebook walls, buy the looks of things you are guaranteed a quick response. In answering a question he briefly talked about how to handle negative reviews as well. Early that morning I attended the Digital Dojo by Ogilvy and some facts mentioned there were also mentioned in the video Hetti showed. Internet and social media users are rising in Sri Lanka and if you don't respond to its as a brand you might find yourself losing customers and crushed by competitors. There were some questions about fair usage policy and things were just about to interesting when Nazly jumped in and ruined the fun :P .

Future of Web Apps

The next presentation was by Lakshan Perera and he talked about the future of web apps. Although I'm a software engineer I wouldn't call myself a hardcore geek and this presentation was a bit beyond me. But since lots of techies come for Refresh I'm sure many of them enjoyed it a lot.

Mobile Trends - From Symbian to Android

The next presentation was done by Thejo, who gave a very entertaining presentation. He talked about how Symbian failed both the users and the developers. If you listened to his presentation you might get the feeling that Symbian was the worst creation made by mankind. But he gave some really good examples of why Symbian failed. Although he talked about the OS one general message you can get from his speech is keep things simple. The world, specially the technological developments are moving at a fast pace and you should make it easier for people for keep in touch with your developments. He also talked about the difference in revenue model, which was another factor that made developers switch to Android. A very entertaining presentation I'm sure enjoyed by many.

TweetupSL 2

After that there was a announcement about TweetupSL. Which is an informal meetup of Twitter users in Sri Lanka. You get a T-Shirt if you register quickly for the event ;) . Using social media is much more effective when you know the person in real life and these events are the perfect opportunity to build connections.

Bus Route Finder

There was another presentation which was not on the agenda and that was the introduction of the much talked about bus route finder by Chav. It seems to work fine for the destinations I checked. It is an open source project so can check out the code and give feedback or make improvements.
Another great Refresh Colombo event and definitely looking forward for the next one. If you are not attending you are missing out on a lot and it is definitely not a geek only thing.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Getting a Housing Loan in Sri Lanka

Getting a housing loan in Sri Lanka can be a very tedious and a time consuming task. There are so many documents to produce and so many approvals to get that you might be forgiven for thinking it is better not to buy a house at all.
Looking at the advertisements in television you might think that it is something that can be done in two three days but it sure takes a whole lot more than that. It becomes worse if you have misplaced an important document or you have an outdated document. Some bank wants documents that are less than ten years old so they can be assured about the validity of the document. After producing all that they you need to pay additional charges for the registration and for lawyers. This can be done for an reduced price if you have some sore of connection with the lawyer, otherwise it will cost a considerable amount.
I thought finding a house for sale in Sri Lanka is a hard task, but it looks like buying it is even harder. In certain areas of the country its becoming hard to buy houses for even relatively rich people. Just do a quick search for villas for sale in Galle Fort and you'll know what I'm talking about.
I had a quick chat with a friend in real estate and according to him one of the main reasons is foreigners buying real estate in Sri Lanka as investments. Now I know that the government made a big deal about not selling land to foreigners, but as my friend told me the government actually needs these investments. Most foreigners and buying them and renting them out to other foreigners and more foreigners that comes to Sri Lanka better it it for our economy. Its just not that great when you're trying to buy a land or home for yourself.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Trying Out Different Ad Networks

I get so many emails asking me how to get approved for Adsense. The reality is if you don't have your own domain name then it is next to impossible to get accepted to the Adsense network. This was probably a step taken to get rid of all the spammers who create blogs using free platforms and fill them with advertisements, but the step has hurt some genuine bloggers as well. If you have a hard time getting accepted to Adsense then you should check out some alternatives to Adsense as well. I personally use InfoLinks so if you are interested then you can read my InfoLinks Review. I added some extra tips on how to improve your earnings as well.
If you have a hard time getting accepted to international networks then you could try some local network as well. There are some advertisement networks specific to Sri Lankan's but the payout is a bit low per click. You might be able to get some advantage because of the high click through rate as they are related. If you are looking to make money online then it is important to get your own domain names, so the best way to get accepted to Adsense might be getting your own domain.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Mobile Phone Recycling in Sri Lanka

Today I got a very interesting question from a friend who came from UK. He looked at all the old mobile phones stored in a rack and asked me why I'm not recycling old mobile phones. I thought mobile phone recycling is something to do with protecting the environment, but I was surprised to learn that it means getting cash for your old mobile phones. It is also used when people give there old mobile phone and get the latest model for a discounted price. He went on to explain the environmental and the social benefits of the whole procedure. I personally don't know of any company in Sri Lanka that offers money for old mobile phones, and it might be not a good business idea especially since most Sri Lankans are on the lookout for the latest mobile phone models. Anyway it seems like a good idea to recycle those old mobile phones because they are potentially harming wasts.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Refresh Colombo - April 2011

I'm not a big fan of rain, it usually means lightning is around and I have to switch off the computer. I absolutely hate it when it rains when I need to go out. So I was contemplating whether to go for Refresh Colombo this time, especially because today everything was going to be about Firefox 4 and related stuff. Although I love the browser with all its plug-ins, talking about how it was developed didn't really appeal to me. But so far Refresh Colombo managed to serve up something new and worthwhile in every meeting so I thought of braving the weather and going for the meetup. And it turned out to be the correct decision :-) .

The first presentation was about HTML5 and it was done by Dilantha Nanayakkara. He went through a slide show ( ) and explained the contents of the slides. The guy has being building websites since 1996 so I'm sure he appreciates the new features in HTML5. One thing I noticed while attending meet ups is that it is increasingly getting easier to build cool looking websites, will this lead to a reduction in prices :P ? Anyway I mostly build niche blogs using WordPress and you can build a cool looking blog easily enough if you have a decent WordPress theme. Here is my recent niche blog about Birthstone Jewelry which took me around 30 minutes to set up, it still needs some dressing up with a decent header images but setting up navigation etc is so easy with WordPress.

Firefox 4 Party
The next event was the Firefox 4 party and there was a big cake sponsored by the Cake Factory. I guess Dilantha was the oldest guy at the event so he was given the honor of cutting the cake. After the refreshments various features of Firefox 4 and Firefox for mobile were discussed. Danishka Navin showed some videos explaining the various new features. I have only used the "Pin as App Tab" so it was interesting to get to know about the new features. I was impressed by the new Firefox button which saves a lot of space. If your using Windows as the operating system this doesn't come as default. To get the button you need to go to View -> Toolbar and deselect the Menu Bar. I think it is a good idea if Firefox explains how to enable these features while listing down features.Thejo explained how Firefox 4 mobile version has improve the user experience and some more cool new features. We were also given some Firefox souvenirs to remember the event. You can view some photos of the party visiting this link ( via Malintha ).

Firefox 4 Discussion by Sinhalen FOSS
Next item was a panel discussion about Firefox4 hosted by the Sinhalen FOSS team. Sinhalen FOSS is the first Sinhalese podcast and they discuss various things related to FOSS. Although I'm a software engineer I hardly consider myself a geek but I found the session thoroughly entertaining. Bud and SeeJay were joined by Danishka and Thejo in the panel. Various things including how you can contribute to the open source community were discussed. If a non geek like myself enjoyed it I think this podcast will be perfect for geeks. I couldn't find any pattern to there podcast so I guess subscribing to the RSS feed is the best way to keep track of them.
Although I enjoyed the session I personally think it would be a good idea if they diversify the topics discussed at Refresh Colombo so a much wider audience can benefit from it. Maybe this was a one off because of the FF4 party. Looking forward to the May edition :-) .

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Finally Optimized It

For a product owned by Google, Blogspot is pretty poor when it comes to SEO, that is why I did some code modifications to improve the search engine friendliness of this blog. Inspiration came from SEO for Blogspot article which I have published myself. There are few more things that could be done to raise the standard, like making labels show as keywords in single posts, but that could be a bit cumbersome and since I'm not targeting search engine traffic in this blog that could be done at a later time. Hope you will find my new super optimized blog via search engines.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Refresh Colombo - March 2011

When you are looking forward for something it usually is something pretty good and that's the feeling I get with Refresh Colombo. Organizers were kind wise enough to move the event to Tuesday, because there was a quarter final on Thursday. There were four presentations lined up today, all of them different but related to me in various ways.To learn more about the event visit the Refresh Colombo Website.
The first presentation was done by @Joe, Wishmini and Harith and it was about Open Space. I have being seeing tweets about Open Space for a while now so I was very interested to learn more about the company and what they offer. They are promoting a concept called co-working and it looks like a nice idea. Niche blogging and freelance SEO can be a lonely job and it is nice to have some buddies around to bounce new ideas. It looks like an ideal place for start up businesses as well with the very affordable pricing structure. For a location based business I think they could do a better job promoting the location. Finding the address in there website is not the easiest thing to do, and if I'm the owner I would surely add a map or image highlighting the fact that it is near Galle Road and it is very easy to get there. And if you came to Refresh you are entitled to a discount ;) .
Next presentation was by Yasas and it was about Business process outsourcing. I have written some articles about this topic for the sake of back links but they tend to perform well in search engines. I get a web design gig here and there from those articles but I have to turn them down or refer it to someone else because I don't know web design :-) .If you are a web design company and want to be listed there you can contact me.Yasas talked about how BPO could be good source of revenue for Sri Lankans, challenges faced by Sri Lanka to improve this as an industry etc. As he pointed out in his presentation, Sri Lanka cannot compete with countries like India when it comes to providing man power, so we should focus on small niches that requires skill, where few people can get high returns. One area where Sri Lanka already have a reputation is in Financial accounting and I think Web design and Search Engine Optimization are another two areas we can compete in. They require specialized skills and few people can easily handle multiple clients and there are plenty of excellent web designers in Sri Lanka. If you want to learn more about BPO and want BPO certification then visit Lanka BPO Academy.
The next presentation was done by @Anudi and it was about Intellectual Property Law and how to protect your rights. In Sri Lanka soon as you publish something online it is very hard to protect those rights. Take celebrity pictures for example, how can you take action against a pictures published in a free blogspot blog with no contact information. You can complain to Google and get the blog banned but it's a tedious process. She also talked about the importance of adding © ( copyright symbol ) for any creative work you do. You can easily add this to a blog post by going to HTML mode and typing &#0169 .What she said about Facebook TOS is what really got my attention. Before the recent changes in FB TOS every photo we uploaded is owned by FB and can be used by them. I have few clients who work with ShutterStock and they promote there photographs thorough Facebook. Definitely need to check out if this could impact there earnings and violate ShutterStock terms. If you are a photographer looking to earn some money from your photos then give ShutterStock a try.
Next presentation was a bit of technical one with @Jerry talking about CSS3. IE haters Web designers in the room seem to enjoy it and I guess that is how they create those premium Wordpress themes that cost a small fortune these days. If you take a WP theme like Thesis there are so many things you can do with it and I suppose technologies like this are what makes them possible.
To conclude it was another great Refresh Colombo meet up and definitely looking forward to the next one. And thanks a lot for all the presenters who shared valuable information with us.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Refresh Colombo - February 2011

After missing two editions of Refresh Colombo for various reasons I managed to attend the February 2011 edition. I did a presentation about "Outsourcing for Freelancers" and Amisha Amarasinghe did a presentation about using social media beyond a marketing tool. Although it was scheduled to start at 5.15PM it was around 6PM when things got underway.Gihan Fernando of GTS Game Studios was kind enough to sponsor the event and provide the refreshments.
Speaking is not my strong point and this was one of those moments where I wished I finished all my speeches at IFS Toast Masters Club. Most people were interested in Fiverr, which I use heavily to outsource various things. I guess everyone can use some extra cash and if you missed the presentation by any chance you can read my full Fiverr Review. Another thing I noticed is that not many people are aware of search engine optimization or at least that's the feeling I got when watching the crowd. This is an area with lots of potential for most companies and very few are seriously using it to increase there traffic and sales.
After my presentation Amitha did a great presentation about how you can use social media for other purposes other than marketing. I wrote a post about Social Media Marketing in Sri Lanka a while ago, it wasn't a detailed study, just some random thoughts about various social networks with some affiliate links mixed in. Presentation by Amitha was more focused on how you can build your online reputation using social media and why it is important to have an online presence. He also showed some social media sites like LinkedIn that are critical to building your online reputation. Apparently HR managers Google your name before making a hiring decision and you don't want your drunk pictures you posted on Facebook coming as the first result. LinkedIn profiles and Facebook profiles rank easily for your name searches so make sure to have a good professional looking profiles if you are interested in getting a job.
Since there was time left Indu Nanayakkara did a quick presentation about digital radio and how ITN is ready to support that technology etc. At the time of writing this I'm not too happy with ITN because of there allegations against Mahela and Thilan and hopefully they will own up and apologize.
If you are reading this and haven't attended Refresh Colombo you are missing out on a great opportunity. Not only will you learn many interesting things but you will get to interact with many interesting and successful people and that can only be a good thing.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Peiris or Pieris

I hope you can notice the subtle difference of words in the title.While writing an article about the popular television actress Nehara I was in dilemma about her surname. Is it Nehara Pieris or Nehara Peiris. For people who are wondering what difference this would make, this would make a big difference when it comes to search engine ranking. This is somewhat common problem faced by Internet marketers because of English way of spelling and the American way of spelling. Jewelery vs Jewelry is a good example and there are quite a few other examples. Although the spelling of surnames doesn't come into that category it is somewhat a similar problem. What do you think the correct spelling is ?

Monday, 24 January 2011

Affiliate program for selling music and songs in Sri Lanka

Recently I wrote an article about Daddy, Sri Lanka Band. The most obvious way to make money from this article is to sell songs of Daddy within the article. I looked for them in iTunes but couldn't find there songs listed there. Out of curiosity I looked for other Sri Lankan songs and could find only one or two listed in iTunes. This is a great market to explore for Sri Lankan artists and it doesn't take much to register and get listed there as well.