Absolutely hilarious. Amazed at how he manages to bring the Madras flavour to his English writing. Something I can learn from him.

Doing Jalsa & Showing Jilpa

For a country that is mostly conservative, elderly family members are sure able to suspend any and all manner of delicateness when it comes to the serious matter of issues, or as The Hindu matrimonial ads would have it, encumbrances. Short of bluntly saying “Put sattney, produce baby”, there are several unsubtle tricks employed. An example –  “The caterer for my grandson’s Ayush homam makes an utterly delightful sambaar. You should seriously consider him, I mean, after you produce a baby of course”. There was also a “haha” at the end of that.

So after five years of what felt like the Battle of Helm’s Deep, waves of orcs throwing themselves at the battlements of our “free wille and righte to make babies at a tyme of our choosinge”, the wife announced one day that we were successfully enrolled in the dastardly plan to make economy class airflight more uncomfortable…

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The V-Day post :)

The part where the Madras boy is in a cultural holocaust is definitely true 😀 Maybe my US friends can say something about the second part – learning to cook, making mix-tapes, making designer cards, etc on V-day. On second thought, they will not disclose what they are doing, will they ?? 😉

Doing Jalsa & Showing Jilpa

Ever since I was 14, Valentine’s Day has always been interesting for me, and not necessarily in just good ways. I grew up in Madras, a city not particularly known for its sense of romance. As school kids, Valentine’s day was spoken in hushed whispers and was an urban legend that only some chosen seniors had a clue about. The whole idea of expressing your love for someone to that very someone was a fantasy that had no existence outside of Tamil movies (and the occasional Hindi movie at Melody theater).

So when I found myself in Delhi, surrounded by classmates who had smoked actual cigarettes and spoke of multiple girlfriends like they were pairs of jeans, it was a bit of a culture shock for me. What was even more of a shock was the very existence of girls whose response to non-study related male conversation was not a…

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Death of the questioning ability

With availability of Internet we have a sea of information. Sites like Google, Wikipedia and Facebook have actively helped in the dissemination of information through the millions of Internet users. But the real question is has the availability of such vast information made us smarter ? Have we become more intelligent ? Or have we joined the dark side of the force, by choosing to believe wrong information ?

The reason for this rant post is a recent observation on Facebook – the resharing of online hoaxes. These objects are germinated by ill minded individuals and are propagated then by gullible and naive commoners who believe they are actually making a change by spreading it to others. Over the past week I have 4 different hoax articles on facebook.

  1. Cough CPR – If you are having heart attack, then you can cough your way out.
  2. Thieves throwing eggs on windshield – Muggers on highways throw eggs on your car windshield and when you activate your wipers, the eggs make your windshield opaque by 92.5 %. You stop to clean it and then the muggers attack you.
  3. Child with rash – Reshare it so that he gets some money
  4. Flash light can conduct electricity – A guy got electrocuted when he was trying to take a picture near a train, which had a high voltage line above it.

These are just what I saw over the past week mind you. If I start compiling over a month or year there would be many more. There is a pattern here. In some of the cases, people tend to get emotional than logical like the child with rash case. A more frequent and quite scaring case is when people think “What is the harm in resharing ? I dont lose anything !”. A simple googling of these hoaxes will prove that they are wrong, but people don’t do that. In most cases, they CHOOSE to believe what they see. The relative ease with which people get information, makes them believe what they see is true. They don’t WANT to take the effort to verify the claims.

This is true with most of modern technology. I always felt that technology is made to make people more lazy, let it be automobiles, TV,computers, mobile phones whatever. Since laziness is subjective, technology will never die. But the onus is on us to make us active and stay alert. Just like we hit the gym to gain the activity we lost, we have to make sure that we don’t get lazy about our questioning ability. Just like we ask ‘How does this machine work ?’ ,’What is the principle behind that phenomenon ?’ we must ask questions like ‘What is your source ?’,’What proof do you have ?’, etc. In this context, I am amazed at how Thiruvalluvar preached this thought centuries ago.
” எப்பொருள் யார்யார்வாய்க் கேட்பினும் அப்பொருள்
மெய்ப்பொருள் காண்ப தறிவு.  ”
“To discern the truth in every thing, by whomsoever spoken, is wisdom. ”

As a starter I would suggest everyone visit this site www.hoax-slayer.com. All the above hoaxes have been disproved there. Here is a guy who has dedicated his life to disprove online hoaxes. Kudos to him.

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Well Played Hindu !

Ever since I started working, reading the morning newspaper has become a luxury. Since most of my friends are also working, catching up with them happens only at night. Also since a size-able part of them are in the US, late night chats/ Google+ hangouts are frequent. Mornings usually resemble the Tropicana ad – a battle between sleep vs breakfast. Whoever wins this battle, the morning newspaper almost always loses.

Reading it after coming home in the evening is an option, but by then the topic is a day old and there would have been a lot of developments. Each and every news channel will be blaring it non-stop with incomprehensible and sometimes misleading headlines.

Thus, became this habit of reading news online.

Initially the habit started off with Times Of India mostly because many of my friends posted TOI articles on Facebook. But, anyone who is regular to the TOI site will know how the site is specifically designed in such a way as to irritate online readers. There is an ad before the site opens and to skip which you have to again click ‘Click here to go to timesofindia.com’. I mean that is the freaking reason I took the effort of typing timesofindia.indiatimes.com on the address bar didn’t I ? There are ads almost everywhere – when you click on the news item, when you click on any open space on the site, even when you don’t click on anything there are so many pop up ads.

And I haven’t even started on the quality of the articles in TOI. TOI makes a dedicated effort to exacerbate the headlines of an otherwise trifle news item just to get the hit count on the news article high. It has more of a marketing motive than an informant motive. You might say, what is wrong with getting a few hits on the site. After all this is how it makes money. Ok, alright ! This may be accepted if the article quality is good on important issues at least ! But no. This is not the case.

Articles are poorly researched. Placement figures are always quoted in rupees while the rupee is falling considerably.  I remember some Redmond International which had gone for placement to BITS Pilani (It was actually Microsoft, Redmond campus). There is this another famous pic that goes around which shows how The Hindu and TOI interpret the same news article.  There is another erudite article by the Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen on the  accuracy of news articles in current news media which has references to TOI and quite frankly the newspaper has a lot to learn from that single article.

It is in this juncture that I turned to The Hindu’s site. It has minimalist layout. Less ads. Eloquent articles.  An important feature that I like about the Hindu news site is their comment feature.  It has these specifically mentioned there –
3. Please write complete sentences. Do not type comments in all capital letters,
or in all lower case letters, or using abbreviated text (example: u cannot
substitute for you, d is not ‘the’, n is not ‘and’).
4. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.
5. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name, to avoid rejection.

So, even if the article is flawed or biased, the readers engage in a matured debate. If you want to know what is mature debate, have a look at the comments of any article on the TOI site. That is what we call immature.

Thus, I am not surprised that when TOI came up with this ad campaign for their Chennai Edition saying that people who read The Hindu doze off while reading (though not explicitly named as The Hindu, but we can see the newspaper’s Op-ed page pretty clearly), Hindu slapped back with these ads.

Well Played Hindu !

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BITS PS2 Syndrome

Today marks my one year in Oracle, Bangalore. A post to reminiscent how it all began – PS 2. As long as I have BITSians who are on my friend list I will continue to see senti status updates, memorable photo albums and of course the PDA (which some friends of mine whose name I shall not take here (Gurtej) still continue). Many students have successfully ended their PS 2 programs and many are yet to begin theirs.

What I would like to point out here is the set of traits,things that you can expect from yourself and/or maybe your friends, things that fits into almost all BITSian’s if their PS2 is in Bangalore.

First month & first pay:
First month usually goes into knowing your team, product, reading assignment (if any). Apart from this also knowing your fellow PS mates. You are very diligent about your in-time/out-time. You go around asking for work though deep inside you want them say “Come later. We dont have anything that you can handle now”
All throughout the month you keep calculating and re-calculating 25/30 x (Stipend) to figure out how much money you are going to get on Jan 31. And when you do get that money you laugh your balls out imagining what you actually did and what the company is paying you for. You wish such awesome days shall continue and they do.

TT & Foosball:
Most companies have such recreational facilities. Even if you don’t know how to play these games, at the end of PS you will definitely be a master at the game. The temptation actually increases when you see certain people regularly playing. You feel that they come to office just for playing and they are exploiting the company’s resources. You feel you also have a right to exploitation and begin to play extended matches much to the annoyance of the pro players. But required for this is a good company of PS mates. If you have no PS mates and too sincere ones (both are actually same) then I am sorry nobody can help you.

Again, another facility which really tempts you because
a) It is provided for free.
b) Once you start working you get this pre-middle age crisis where you are overly concerned about your physical appearance which was absolutely void during your college days where you didn’t mind chugging down food given in mess and the Palti shop without counting the calories they would add.
Thus ensues, as my friend Anurag had worded, a battle between your comfort and vanity. A struggle that may last for six months if you persevere or may end in a week.

Yes, to the important topic! Since your purchasing power has increased indulgence in ‘extra-curricular’ activities also increases. MG Road, Indiranagar, Koramangala are places whose topography you will mostly know by heart. As time progresses and you save up more money, your frequency and measure also increases. Bangalore is definitely not short of places to go out but the 11 pm rule is a buzz kill (ya like we didn’t know that).

Deriving from the same argument as above, as your purchasing power increases and as your savings also increases you do tend to buy stuff. The most promising argument you hear is the good feeling you get when you buy stuff with your own ‘hard-earned’ money. These might range from mobile phone, guitar, clothes, shoes or like my friend Ishan all the above ! Also, depending on whether you are in a relationship or not, these things will actually end up with you !

In all of this, the most important part is you share wonderful memories with your friends.Though, there might be circumstances where you do not remember anything from last night, you still always have that sober friend who records everything on his mobile camera and shows it to you in the morning to refresh your memories.

It is a fun-filled experience. Much to look forward for to. As my friend Pralav put it “The things which you actually learn in PS is nothing special but you should definitely experience it once “. At the end of all you should feel “Why da ? Why did it have end ? “. It makes you realize that nice things come to an end to make you realize the worth of it.

To close, I read somewhere on the net which sort of surmises my whole post
” Stay busy, get plenty of exercise, and don’t drink too much.  Then again, don’t drink too little”.

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How To Use Anyone’s Face As A Facebook Chat Emoticon

More stuff to support trolling !

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Why WordPress ?

This being my first attempt to write a blog I was confused on which platform/site should I create my blog. Popular options were Tumblr or WordPress or Blogger. With absolutely no thought or inquiry I created my first page on tumblr. The themes and the look of the blog felt good. Then casually my co-worker asked me “Why are you not creating on blogger ? It is automatically connected to your google account.” Then it dawned upon me, “Why did I choose Tumblr ? Should I explore other options ??”. Thus I embarked on a journey researching my options namely Tumblr, WordPress and Blogger.
Here is what might be a very amateurish analysis of the three sites :-

As I said Tumblr scores very good on the look and feel of the blog. The themes and font are rich. There is this nice feature called ‘queue’ where you can write your blog articles and put it on a queue and Tumblr will post the article from the queue in regular intervals which you can set. This is a pretty neat feature for people who cant spend time every week for an article. They can write 3-4 articles on one go and post it one by one. But Tumblr has few drawbacks. You do not have any facility to view the number of people visiting your blog. This is there if you go for the premium version but as a beginner I don’t think one is going to go for a premium version of a blog. Nor does it have its own commenting facility. The workaround is to create a DISQUS account for enabling comments and having a Google Analytics tracking code for viewing your blog related statistics. Popular Blogs using Tumblr are tambrahmrage, localparty (Don’t mess with the single/thin people ok ?).

Blogger :-
Blogger’s greatest advantage is that it can link to your Google account. Like your Google Plus (if you use it), Google Translate and Google Reader, Blogger seamlessly integrates into your Google account. It has commenting facility and you can use Google Analytics to get the statistics of your blog. The latest upgrade of all Google sites with the theme resembling Google+ makes the back-end of Blogger appealing. The drawback I would say with blogger is that the themes are very simple. The colour options are far from attractive. The official Google and Gmail blog (for obvious reasons) and the official Twitter blog use Blogger.

It is apparently the most used blogging site in the world. It is open source and has a hell lot of features. Most of which I haven’t explored myself. It has a lot of themes (not as rich as Tumblr but they are pretty good).The sidebar menu is a really cool feature. It makes exploring the site and its options very easy. The best part about WordPress is it has its own commenting and statistics option. No need for extra accounts in other sites. Popular blogs using WordPress are Techcrunch, TED Blog,  etc.

The thing about WordPress and Tumblr is that they have certain features which are free and some for which you have to pay. Because of this, they have dedicated developers working on really cool stuff. But with Blogger everything is Google’s stuff and it has a long way to go to make it attractive. Also, there is no mechanism to directly publish your posts on Facebook/Twitter which provides the most number of readers for any blog.

Almost all three of these sites have some common features like creating multiple blogs under one user name, connecting to other bloggers on the same platform, simple dashboard to control settings of your blogs, etc.

In the end, I decided to go with WordPress, just for the ease of maintaining one account. There might be some feature I missed out on the other sites which made them more cool. But I choose to believe that I have  made a right choice and move on. If you do feel I missed out on something, you are welcome to point them out to me here.

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