It has been three days since I released my Vim book. I’m very happy with the response.

For starters, there has been 5003 PDF downloads, 14,715 unique visitors and 35,129 page views. That’s in just three days!

Second, I’m glad to see the kind of responses that I was hoping for:

[@raseel]( says “Great Book !! Although I use vim everyday as an editor as well as an ide, the book makes u realise how much more it can do.”

[@techpickles]( says “have been thumbing through ‘byte of vim’. learning a ton even having used vim for years.”

I’m happy to see people discovering that Vim can do more, way more than people know about. There is a lot of power underneath the hood and it is a tragedy that it goes unnoticed even by long-time Vim users. Years ago, I started to wonder if I could change that situation and that’s when I started writing the book.

Regarding the responses via Twitter, it was interesting to see how fast the information was spreading. I could see retweets (linking to the book) being passed on from someone in Switzerland to someone in Ireland to someone in USA and so on, in quick succession.

Most of the traffic came from Reddit and Hacker News, so many thanks to those readers who submitted the news to these discussion sites. Seeing ‘A Byte of Vim’ as the top link on Hacker News for more than a day put me on a geek high.

Most of the feedback was from the mailing list where people were really happy to see the news. I’ve added some of these feedback to the What Readers Say section of the book’s front page.

There has been a lot of contributions to the wiki in terms of “bug fixes” i.e. typo corrections, grammar corrections and procedure corrections. It feels like a ton of editors are holding a magnifying glass to the book :)

One of the more exciting mails I received was from Yeh, Shih-You who wanted to start a Chinese translation! He said:

My name’s Yeh, Shih-You, a programmer and a Linux-lover from Taiwan. Having been using Vim for about 3 years, I found out that getting the most out of Vim suddenly becomes a necessity, in order to improve productivity as well as efficiency. Your book came out at the perfect time.

I’m interested in contributing translations in Traditional Chinese. Thanks for all the effort you’ve put into this book.

Now that is awesome.

On a side note, it’s amazing to note that even for my previous book, the number of mails from Chinese readers have increased dramatically in the past couple of years. So, in a way, I shouldn’t have been surprised that the Chinese translation was the first one to be started for the new book as well. The Chinese guys are already on the forefront of hardware manufacturing, but now seeing firsthand that they are so hungry to learn and devouring information online, it is hard not to imagine them at the forefront of software in a few years as well.

To sum it up, I’m happy with the response, although I would’ve been happier if a good number of print copies were sold, as well as more community contributions in terms of content such as new topics and chapters.

Many people are surprised and curious on why I choose to release my book under a Creative Commons license, I shall explain that in a different post later.

Today is the first day of, and on this occasion, I’m happy to announce the first public release of my Creative-Commons licensed book on the Vim 7 editor.

This book is meant for both beginners and advanced users.

For beginners, it walks you through the first steps to learning about modes, discusses about typing skills to be effective and moves on to the editing basics.

This book will definitely appeal more to people who are Vim users already because it helps add a huge number of tricks to their arsenal, whether it is more efficient editing, personal information management, coding your own plugins or making Vim a programmers’ editor.

I hope that fellow Vimmers will find these notes useful. Even though it is in a book format, the writing style is more like a tutorial and is informal, which should be familiar to readers of my Python book.

Both books are under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license, so you’re free to download it, email it, share it and improve it. In fact, the book is on a wiki, so you can just click on ‘Edit’ in the left sidebar of any chapter to improve the book in a matter of seconds. When in doubt, please use the ‘Discussion’ link to add your suggestions and comments.

For those who prefer reading books they can hold in their hand, please consider purchasing a printed copy of the book. This will also help support the continued development of the book.

For those PHP gurus familiar with GeSHi syntax highlighting, I would greatly appreciate any help in improving my vim syntax highlighting source, especially in handling Vim-style comments, etc. Please mail me if you can help.

This book has been in the works for several years, so I’m glad to see it finally in good enough shape for releasing it. Although I haven’t done as many rewrites as I would have been satisfied with, I decided it was better to <insert cliché of “Release Early, Release Often.”>

I dedicate this release to and GTD principles.

Sunday was the day of the second Bangalore Ultra Marathon.

Had to get up at 3AM in order to reach Cubbon Park at 4:30AM for the buses to take us to ‘Our Native Village’ resort in Hesaraghatta. We reached early at 6AM and were waiting for the day to begin.


The 37.5, 50, 75, 100KM runners started off at 6:30AM, and everyone were cheering them on. There was one person Santhosh who was running from 6PM on the previous day doing a target of 24 hours or 200KM. Phew.


On a random whim, I decided to tweet during the marathon.

6:59 AM: Waiting for the 25K run to start at 730, it sucks to wait for an hour after the 50+ K #ultra runners

7:30 AM: Start!

I decide to run without music for the first 20 min.

After a while, I started listening to a talk by David Heinemeier Hansson on ‘The Great Surplus’ which is a really good talk that I recommend any dev should listen to. After that was over, I didn’t have the mental processing energy to listen to more podcasts, so I switched to listening to music.

I think the majority of runners here were either listening to music or running in groups.

Life Lesson learned: Do whatever it takes to keep your motivation high.

9:00 AM: Finished first loop of 12.5 km in exactly 1.5 hours. Not sure if I can complete within my target time of 3 hours.

9:25 AM: Body begs to stop. Mind says hell no.

Life Lesson learned: It’s all in the mind.

9:37 AM: Starting to feel that good pain in the knees.

Life Lesson learned: You need to cross a certain threshold of activity before you start feeling positive and energized. Activity precedes motivation.

9:52 AM: Reached 3/4th mark. 2 hours 23 minutes. There are a few people retired hurt on the mats and doctor is treating them… Getting some electral.

Life Lesson learned: I strangely found tweeting through the marathon actually helped me being more positive. It had the same effect as journaling. In this case, I got to vent my pain and frustration. After that, I felt lighter, felt like I had a fresh start and felt the need to do something more/better that is worth tweeting about.

9:55 AM: This is one beautiful location. Green everywhere.

Life Lesson learned: The right environment matters.


10:04 AM: 50+km runners whizzing by. How do they do that.

Life Lesson learned: There will always be people better than you but you shouldn’t get bogged down. As Bob Parsons says “Pay attention to your competitors, but pay more attention to what you’re doing. When you look at your competitors, remember that everything looks perfect at a distance. Even the planet Earth, if you get far enough into space, looks like a peaceful place.”

10:40 AM: 2km to go. Signs of cramps.

Life Lesson learned: As Bob Parsons says “When you’re ready to quit, you’re closer than you think. There’s an old Chinese saying that I just love, and I believe it is so true. It goes like this: ‘The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed.'”

10:55 AM: Finished. 25 km in 3 hours 24 minutes. More than I wished. But ran better than expected. So happy.

11:04 AM: Nothing like pushing yourself beyond what you think you can. Amazing what the human mind and body can do.

Life Lesson learned: Life is more meaningful and fun when you have big hairy audacious goals.

The best part was that my timing had improved significantly from last time where I finished in 3 hr 52 minan improvement of nearly half an hour! I usually berate myself on not performing well, but this was something even I was happy about especially because I finished strongly and not limping to the finish line as I had experienced in previous marathons.

Life Lesson learned: (Again) As Bob Parsons says: “Measure everything of significance. I swear this is true. Anything that is measured and watched, improves.”

It's tough. Are you?

Life Lesson learned: It’s tough. Are you?

You’re running on guts. On fumes. Your muscles twitch. You throw up. You’re delirious. But you keep running because there’s no way out of this hell you’re in, because there’s no way you’re not crossing the finish line. It’s a misery that non-runners don’t understand.

Martine Costello

Update: Santhosh finally completed 156KM! Also, Tanvir has compiled a list of blog posts by various Ultra runners.

Tonight was Movie Night at Bums On The Saddle and the movie was ROAM. This is one of the movies that can get anyone excited about cycling, and in this case, mountain biking. I couldn’t decide whether to concentrate on the adrenaline-rushing jumps and stunts or the amazing locations that these cyclists explore.

What was interesting was that nearly 35-40 people had shown up, which was quite unexpected.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes/trailer of the movie:

Rohan Kini and gang are basically running this cycle shop on Saturdays to encourage cycling and to help people buy and maintain their bikes. If you are interested in taking up cycling, you know whom to contact.

I had taken some photos of their “Bike shop on the Roof Top” the last time I visited:


including Rohan Kini unpacking and assembling a 40,000 rupees worth Trek 6000-series cycle!


Thanks to Bums on the Saddle for hosting the screening of the movie.

Look at the design of a lot of consumer products—they’re really complicated surfaces. We tried make something much more holistic and simple. When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can often times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions. Most people just don’t put in the time or energy to get there. We believe that customers are smart, and want objects which are well thought through.

— Steve Jobs on the design lesson of the iPod in Newsweek, 2006-10-14

Use case

Mom asked me to find out the name of the God in the temple at Gokarna. I just had to visit Wikipedia and find out. She could have done this herself but she’s too intimidated by the PC. The same goes for checking movie listings. And so on.


What if there was a simple device that has just a web browser. They keyboard is brought up via the touch screen. It has absolutely nothing else. Then, would she use it?


  • Since we can do pretty much everything on the internet these days other than work with hardware, why not a device dedicated for that? Makes it extremely easy for people to use the internet and hence computers.
  • Can use available WiFi or uses built-in GSM card for internet access
  • For geeks, it is a quick way to use the internet, no need to boot up a full computer.
  • What if you wanted to open a Word document? Well, that’s where things like the “Open IT Online” Firefox extension come into the picture.
  • It’s different from a mobile phone because it has a much bigger screen. And it won’t cost an arm and a leg like the iPhone.
  • The popularity of Amazon’s Kindle shows that a reading ebook reader device can become very popular. But why restrict to just books on Amazon? Why not the whole internet?
    • I would love the ability to pace myself and read stuff such as the O’Reilly Safari instead of being forced to sit in one place.
  • With the rising internet penetration in India and the expectation that it will increase much higher, people may not be always comfortable with the small screen of a mobile phone/UMPC nor want to buy a Rs.20K PC, what if there was a device that does the middle ground – a large screen, internet access and, say, <7-8K cost?
    • The cost is not based on reality, just trying to find what would be the right price point.


Bottom line

Would you buy it? For yourself or for someone you know.

(This is a continuation of the “Ideas are Cheap” series).

Update on April 9, 2009 : Here comes The TechCrunch Tablet.

Every startup needs to do some market research while working on their next big idea. And part of this market research is looking at demographic and economic data to find out the size of your target audience.

For most of those who are reading this, the audience probably is people who use computers. Now, how do we find out such numbers? That’s where the Internet and Mobile Association of India steps in with their “Internet in India 2007” report (PDF).

Some of the high-level overviews from that report:

  • The numbers are based on a survey across 30 cities and 65000 individuals.
  • The breakdown of the urban population is explained nicely in this funnel graphic:


  • 70% of people who know how to use computers have accessed the Internet at least once.
  • 70% of these at-least-once users become regular users.
  • Claimed internet users have risen from 32.2 million in 2006 to 46 million in 2007.
  • 38% are from the Top 8 urban cities, 12% from 5-10 lakh population cities, and 29% from 2-5 lakh population cities!
  • Young Men and College Students are the major chunk of the growing Internet user base.
  • There has been a decrease in usage by older men and non-working women.
  • PC ownership increased by 48% last year! Thanks to slashed PC prices.
  • With Government of India declaring 2007 as the Broadband Year, Internet ownership has increased by 32% last year!
  • The difference in increase of PC ownership (48%) vs. increase in Internet ownership (32%) is probably because of broadband penetration and availability
  • 36% use a cyber-café, 30% from home, 25% from office, 7% from school/college and 2% others.
    • The cyber-café is still the most prominent point of Internet access.
    • This is a valuable data point to consider regarding security when designing applications – people are NOT necessariliy using their own desktops all the time.
    • Usage from home and cyber-café has decreased vs. Usage from office and schools/colleges has increased. Note that these are percentages, the absolute numbers might paint a different picture, but I couldn’t find them in this report.
  • Usage can be classified into three broad categories:
    1. Communication – Email, chat
    2. Infotainer – Gaming, news, blogs, encyclopedia
    3. Sticky applications – Online banking, online ticketing, online shopping
  • 61% state communication as the main reason they access the Internet. 25% for information and e-commerce. And 13% for entertainment.
    • What’s interesting is that percentage of people with information as the main reason has decreased from 32% in 2006 to 20% in 2007.
    • I’m guessing that percentage of entertainment will increase with better broadband access.
  • 2/3rd of users access Internet 2-3 times a week.
    • 25% access daily, 19% 4-6 times a week, 23% 2-3 times a week, 18% once a week, and rest 15% about a few times a month
    • (It should be strange for us always-on people to see 75% of people not use it on a daily basis!)

These are very interesting numbers. I wonder how they compare with the growth graphs of Internet-advanced countries such as USA or Japan.

The IAMAI have many more interesting reports on topics such as Online Banner Advertising Market in India, Consumer E-commerce Market in India, Online Gaming in India, Mobile Value Added Services in India, and so on.