‘A Really Traditional Alphabet Book’ published as paperback

Integrated writing workbook. Jokes and puzzles for older kids.

This is my first children's book. I had created an alphabet book some years ago based on what I could recall from my own alphabet book from kindergarten. Most new alphabet books use totally different words. It is not always A for apple, B for ball, C for cat... Not in this book.

Book cover

I wanted add my collection of 50 traditional nursery rhymes as bonus material but the book seller objected to the public domain images from old nursery books. Their logic is that customers need not pay for something that is essentially free. It is understandable but given the way kids' books are priced or I shoud say overpriced. Recently, I offered to review a children's story book by another author. It is less than a dozen pages of text and full-page pictures but costs $16. My book would have had so much more material but would still cost only $10. (I also added jokes and puzzles from my 2020 jokebook.)

Now, the nursery rhymes collection is part of the free excerpts PDF of the alphabet picture book. Anyone can download it and print it.

The book has 34 pages in all and 32 pages of actual content. (I eliminated blank pages.) It is $9.90 in the US, £6.20 in UK and €7.20 in EU.

"Importing" paperbacks

I do not have a copy of any of my new books. The import deposit charges (into India) are more than the cost of the books. I cannot risk ordering them during the lockdown.

My new FFmpeg article in OSFY magazine

I have submitted a followup for my 2016 FFmpeg article. It will appear in the September edition of Open Source For You magazine. I went to the city and checked the news stand yesterday. They no computer magazines have been available for months now. So, my article will only be read by subscribers. Hopefully, the lockdown is lifted before next month.

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Youtube Lite Technology Demonstrator

Browser JS to enable old browsers display Youtube videos and more

When Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister, India faced opposition from the US for its space and missile development programme. India's Integrated Missile Development Program was started to develop everything from anti-tank missiles to nuclear-capable inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Rajiv Gandhi strongly supported the programme but was not willing to face US sanctions. So, the initial prototypes of the Agni missile were labelled as 'technology demonstrators'. India later went on to develop ICBM-level Agni versions and the US went on to sell billions of dollars worth of military hardware to India so the 'technology demonstrator' was a tactical strategic position to take at that time.

Bye bye older browsers

When Youtube switched to the slower heavier uglier version that it has now, old browsers could not display the pages. However, you could use a browser disguise (useragent spoofer add-on) and trick Youtube into loading the older light pages. This worked well for me because, I could use my custom browser scripts (user JS) to eliminate Youtube annoyances like autoplay, 'Top comments' (censored comments) and 'Recommended for you' videos, and add support for RSS, video/subtitle downloads and latest comments.

After Google and Microsoft adopted jquery, there was no stopping this junk Javascript framework. It was originally supposed to overcome the non-standard behaviour of Microsoft Internet Explorer but is now introducing its own problems. A lot of other 'special effects' libraries have been built on the obese jquery and fuddy-duddy news sites like The Hindu are belatedly discovering the 'benefits' of jquery. I look back longingly when The Hindu was designed using Microsoft Frontpage. (I had to fix The Hindu web pages with my own browser JS because jquery cannot handle it.)

The Hindu rendered useless by jquery

⛹ YoutubeLite ☔

Recently, Youtube abandoned support for older browsers. And, I had to write a newer version of my Youtube Annoyances Remover script because the Javascript junk the new Youtube loaded would make the browser tab to lock up for a few seconds.

My fix named YoutubeLite does not load comments or related videos. In fact, it does not load Youtube. It grabs the information from the ytplayer.config.args.player_response object and nukes the Youtube page. It then displays the video in the browser's built-in video player. It also adds links for RSS, subtitles, channel videos page and IMDB (I am a fan of bad-movie restorations of 80s movies from old VHS tapes).

A few days ago, this object disappeared and a new ytInitialPlayerResponse object was found in its place. It did not have links to the video file. I found several new obfuscated functions and objects. (I used reflection (window.Object.getOwnPropertyNames) and managed to find the obfuscated types.) Immediately afterwards, ytplayer.config.args.player_response object came back. Now, my code relies on the ytInitialPlayerResponse and the video player objects before nuking the page. If the ytplayer.config.args.player_response object exists, alternate download links and subtitle download links will be displayed.

For obvious reasons, I cannot reveal the source code. But, if you are stuck with an old browser, there is a fix... if you can code it.


Who is Carly Stevens?

This dame is an English teacher somewhere in America. She is an author and a member of the BookTube community. And, unlike other girls/females in this Youtube subset, she is not... you may want to sit down for this one. You should probably ask someone to accompany the children out of the room. You may also want to grab your heart medicine, anxiety blanket, rubber ducky or other dolly, emotional support animal... she is not a big fan of many of the Feminist literary icons that all the others rave about.

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'Vastu Shastra Explained' book published

Full-color paperback!

Woman reading 'Vastu Shastra Explained' paperback

My book Vastu Shastra Explained paperback has been published. I have included six sample Vastu-compliant house plans (for traditional Kerala-style houses) in the book. In two paperbacks, an English translation of an abstract of Vastu Vidya has been added as annexure. They have 50 pages in total and 40 pages of actual content. Without the translation, the paperback has 36 pages in total and 24 pages of actual content.

Buy From AmazonVVET*PagesIndiaUSAUKEU
Paperback (colour) Yes 50 -NA- $10 £9.00 €9.00
Paperback (colour) No 36 -NA- $7.77 £7.77 €7.77
Paperback (grayscale) Yes 50 -NA- $7.00 £6.00 €6.00
Kindle ebook No 36 ₹222 $3.00 £3.00 €3.00

* An English translation of an abstract of Vastu Shastra found in the public-domain off-copyright Matsya Puranam is included only in some editions of the book.

The ebook is also available on other digital stores such as Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd and Vivlio. The ebook can also be borrowed for a fraction of this price from public and school libraries.


Table of Contents

  • Chapters
    • Sources of Vāstu Śastra
      • History of Vaastu Devata
    • Vāstu Śastra recommendations
      • Vāstu Mandala chart
      • Main entrance
      • Rooms
      • Trees
    • Other Vāstu Śastra considerations
      • Room dimensions
      • Five elements
      • Directions
      • Central area
    • Modern Vāstu interpretations
      • Kubera position
      • Water sources
      • Workplace
      • South-West corner
      • Staircases
      • Slope of floors and pipes
      • Bathroom and toilets
      • Septic tank
      • Ambiguous/conflicting interpretations
    • Non-Vāstu considerations
  • Annexures
    • Traditional Kerala-style house plans
    • 4-BHK Vāstu house plan for East-facing plot
    • 3-BHK Vāstu house plan for North-facing plot
    • 3-BHK Vāstu house plan for West-facing plot
    • 3-BHK House plan for South-facing plot
    • Naalukettu (four-sided) house plan
    • Two-storey tiled house with thattil
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'2020 Fresh Clean Jokes For Everyone' paperback published on Amazon

Priced at $9 for a limited time before moving to $11 (a higher price is required for offline sales).

Download free PDF sample:

Buy the 2020 jokebook from Amazon:

Finally, my book 2020 Fresh Clean Jokes For Everyone has been published. I had wasted more than half a year waiting for a traditional publisher. There is a silver lining to it because one traditional publisher told me to split the book. Now, I have one subset of the book exclusively for children, instead of targeting all age groups with one book.

2020 Fresh Clean Jokes
For Everyone
2020 Fresh Clean Jokes
For Kids
Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon
Assures2020 original jokes
Contains3100+ jokes in total2200+ jokes in total
ContainsFull bookTwo-third
Targets20 and aboveAges 10-19
Politically hotIncludedNot included
EbookWill not be published
The older subset 400 Fresh Clean Jokes For Everyone is available separately for $1.99.
Paperback price$12.00$10.00

This was my first book. I wrote, illustrated, formatted and designed this and all subsequent books using free and open source software (FOSS). I did not spend a dime on anything other than Internet and electricity. I used these software:

  • Eclipse/Gedit
  • MarkDown/CommonMark
  • KHTMLToPDF (After I formatted the HTML output using my own CSS.)
  • Gimp
  • Inkscape
  • Itext
  • ImageMagick
  • Calibre

I also used free fonts from the Google Fonts archive. I did use you some paid fonts from a Broderbund font package I bought many years ago. It had thousands of fonts and cost almost nothing.

This was all done on a laptop running Ubuntu Linux OS. I did not export the books from MS Word.

  • This blog post was updated with the latest prices.
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'2020 Fresh Clean Jokes For Kids' paperback book published

The 'For Everyone' paperback is still under procesing at Amazon.

The 2020 jokebook subset 'For Kids' came out yesterday, the other one 'For Everyone' has not.

2020 Jokebook

2020 Jokebook

In the meantime, I am creating mockup photos for the book using royalty-free stock images from Unsplash.com:

2020 Jokebook

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How to create 3D book covers using GIMP for Amazon KDP ebooks

This blog post is for self-publishing authors. At the end of the video, you will see a glimpse of my ebook creation/editing process.

  • Add the front and back covers on Gimp.
  • Align them exactly to the middle.
  • Flip one of them and LOCK them both
  • Place guide lines where the far edge of the cover will be.
  • Use perspective tool to move the corners to the interior guide lines.
  • Remove the locks.
  • Flip the previously flipped layer and move it to the left.
  • Create a background layer (above the covers) for the spine, preferably using the background color of the front cover.
  • Add text layers for book name and author name.
  • Apply rotation to the right to the text layers and merge them on the spine.
  • Duplicate this layer and flip the duplicate.
  • Lock both spine layers.
  • Add guide lines and apply perspective on the original layer. The flipped duplicate layer will also be affected.
  • Remove the lock.
  • Flip the flipped spine.
  • Position the spine next to the covers.
  • Add a transparent layer above the spines.
  • Select the non-alpha regions of a cover and intersect it with a selection on the new layer over the edge of the cover near the spine.
  • Apply white-to-transparent shadow using gradient tool in the selection.
  • Add another transparent layer.
  • Similarly, select non-alpha regions of the spine, select a region over the edge of the spine near the cover and apply a shadow.
  • Disable guide lines.
  • Adjust the opacity of the two new layers until the 3d look looks best.
  • Save and export.

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'2020 Fresh Clean Jokes For Everyone' and '2020 Fresh Clean Jokes For Kids' to be released on July 20th

They will have 3200 and 2400 jokes in total

2020 has been a sad year for everyone so I cannot complain. I had hoped some traditional publisher would be picking up the manuscript and the book would hit the shelves by New Year Day 2020. Fortunately or unfortunately, I decided to write four other books. If the jokebook had become a hit, then I would not have written these other books.

As the jokebook was named after the year 2020 and it is slipping by without any book deals from traditional publishers, I have decided to self-publish it. Sometime before the global lockdown, I had mailed several book agents about the jokebook. One of them was a book editor at a New York publisher (of books as diverse as the CIA Factbook and Judy Mikovits's Plandemic) whose contact details I copied by mistake. She offered to get the book ready for publishing if I did not want to go through an agent. I mailed her the manuscript and she said it was too big and cannot be sold to both kids and adults as well. She said shelf space was limited and the book cannot be placed both in the Kids section and Adults section in a book store. I agreed that the book be split into:

  • 2020 Fresh Clean Jokes For Kids and
  • 3030 Super Sharp Jokes For Everyone.

The original book has over 3200 jokes but the number of original jokes has to be at least 300 or 400 above 3000 for me to feel comfortable. So, the books are titled similary except for a small change:

  • 2020 Fresh Clean Jokes For Kids with 2400 jokes total and
  • 2020 Fresh Clean Jokes Jokes For Everyone with 3200 jokes total.

This was going to be a big book but I reduced it to 277 pages by making the font really small. Each page is now jam-packed like a Bombay metro train. The paperback price will be around $11, which is a bargain considering that the 400 Fresh Clean Jokes sells for $8.

When these two books are released, the 400 Fresh Clean Jokes For Everyone paperback will be removed. Its ebook will continue to remain on stores as they can drive traffic to the two new paperbacks. I have not created the Kids book yet. I have to choose the joke individually so that some of the political jokes do not slip through.

In other news, I increased the price of the Kindle ebooks CommonMark Ready Reference and Learn To Ride A Motorcycle In Five Minutes to $2 from $1 because that is the price that some stores like Apple Books are selling even though I had set it at $1. The paperbacks are only $4 or £3.

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SqlSiteServer and FreeTweetor

About this site's content management system (CMS) that is still in development

FreeTweetor is another blog on this site. It is a microblog fashioned after Twitter. The difference betwen this blog and FreeTweetor is just the template. (Both blogs are powered by SqlSiteServer. SqlSiteServer is this site's Javascript-free CMS. It is still in development.)

In future, all SqlSiteServer blogs will be able to read RSS feeds from any website including on other SqlSiteServer-hosted websites. SqlSiteServer blogs require very little hosting space while maximising the use of server-side scripting (for downloading RSS from other sites) and client-side Javascript scripting (for displaying the article or tweet titles).

SqlSiteServer will be available as FOSS quite soon.

  • About SqlSiteServer *
    • Manages several websites on a localhost webserver o Written in PHP, which can be hosted on Apache or IIS on a local system o Uses SQLite - a tiny database natively supported by PHP and requires no special server-side installation or configuration
    • Generates static HTML pages that contain only HTML and a limited amount of page-level Javascript to ensure quick loading by the browser and search engine bots. o All JavaScript (.js) and CSS stylesheet (.css) files are dynamically loaded by the page-level Javascript. o The page-level Javascript also lazy-loads all images and videos. The images and videos are loaded only when the visitor scrolls down to them - less load on the server.
    • Uploads generated static pages to Internet-facing webserver (remote server) using dynamically generated FTP scripts.
    • Can generate state page content written in MarkDown or HTML
    • Can include dynamic scripts (such as ASP, PHP, python or perl) and will not process them. o Dynamic scripts are meant to be run by the remote server for absolutely dynamic content requirements such as form processing, database processing and visitor logging.
    • Requires no Javascript on localhost
    • Each website can support multiple blogs with RSS support.
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Hello, World!

This is a test!

Howdy! This is my new blog! Bookmark its URL! Subscribe to my RSS feed!

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My Mailing List For Readers

How to subscribe, unsubscribe and other details

  • Subscribe: Send blank email with 'subscribe' as subject
  • Unsubscribe: Send blank email with 'unsubscribe' as subject
  • Get notified of: New books, book updates and offers, advance review copies (ARCs)
  • Note: No unnecessary weekly, fortnightly, monthly or yearly messages. No updates = no messages.
  • Alternative: Anonymously follow my RSS feeds.

It is recommended that independent authors develop a mailing list so that when a new book is released, there will be enough initial purchases to consolidate the book's position at the top of the searches.

Although I prefer that my readers maintain their privacy by following me anonymously with RSS feeds, I now have to seek your email address. Many years earlier, I used to have a mailing list - for a different purpose. (I wrote the mailing software in Classic ASP. I think I had at most 20 or 30 subscribers. I would put an entire article inside the email rather than give them a link to the website. My goal then was to spread the content of the articles rather than acquire traffic. After I got a job in Bombay, I forgot the mailing list. In subsequent updates to the website code, I removed the mailing list mailing code. Now, I will have to build a mailing list from scratch.

To subscribe, you need to send an empty message (from the email address that needs to be subscribed) to the above email address with the subject line as 'subscribe'. There will be no confirmation email or autoresponder. When I need to send out an email, I will scan the inbox of the account (I will have to write a program for that), extract the subscribers, subtract the unsubscribers and then shoot the messages.

I will send email only to announce the availability of a new book, book update, free review copy or something else that is really important or useful to me as a writer or to you as the reader. There will be no weekly, fortnightly, monthly or even yearly updates. Unless I have something valuable to say, I will not email you.

To unsubscribe, you need to send an email with the subject 'unsubscribe'. There will be no confirmation of the unsubscription. But, your email will be removed before the next email is sent.

I am not a niche writer. I have no idea what I will write next. So, I have no 'reader magnet' for subscribers. You can download these free PDF ebooks without subscribing and then decide whether to join the newsletter mailing list.

Excerpts of

(These are low-resolution watermarked PDFs but they are fully functional. The bonus material in these PDFs are not watermarked.)

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