Thursday, January 31, 2002

I Think This Guy Needs Help!

A 48-year-old Slovenian smashed his car through the glass doors of a hospital and drove down a corridor to the reception desk to ram home his demand for psychiatric treatment.

Big Names, Little News: This Is CNN?
Why is CNN-bashing such a favourite pastime in the US?

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Last night, I went shopping at Globus. Four-storeys of air-conditioned, music-filled, granite-floored clothing nirvana.
In the good old days I used to take exactly 10 minutes to shop for clothes. Then Shoppers Stop happened. The retail revolution which spawned a new generation of superstores has left me feeling completely out of place. Nowadays, I take nothing less than a hour to buy one pair of decent clothes.
The whole experience is so similar to going to a dawat, and being so boggled by the variety on the buffet table, that you manage to eat very little...
What struck me most at Globus was the mass 'similarisation' of clothing. There was such an amazing quantity of wares, but so little to tell between them.
There were too other noteworthy things that happened. As I paid my bill, the cashier handed me a complimentary copy of the latest Outlook magazine. I noticed in one corner a huge pile of copies of Outlook's last issue. Did Globus overestimate the footfalls? Or did they overbuy the magazine?
As I stepped out to the parking lot to retrieve my car, I was shocked to find that the security people had taken possession of my keys. I asked the securityman why they felt that was necessary. He said it was standard practice. I asked him why it was standard practice. "Because non-shoppers use it as a parking lot." Well, all I can say is Globus will have to find better ways of ensuring that doesn't happen. And I could show them more ways than one... As for taking my keys, well, that's just not on...

Tuesday, January 29, 2002

An unusual fallout of September 11: Swiss Army Knives may now come without a blade.

Update on my paid content post: Well, my susbscription for TNT works on at least three different machines I tried it on. Besides, it allows me to log in simultaneously from different machines. And I read the user agreement. It says I have unlimited access...
So there!

Codelust and I have been having a little chat on my post on paid content.
We both seem to agree that sites like TNT and Salon won't be able to sustain enough interest in their paid offerings to make them viable. On the other hand, a site like Jane's, which offers specialised content, will manage to rake in moolah.
So the key is exclusivity. Where then, I wonder, does that leave the general interest content players? I mean where is the money going to come from?
A huge challenge for these players is the growing user base. Which means more spends on infrastructure. With ad revenues dwindling, how will these players survive? Maybe turning paid is a strategic move. It cuts the user base, reduces infrastructural burden, and hopefully will bring in some revenues. But that might also kill the site.
I think Rusty Foster, founder of K5, had it spot on in an interview with Dotcom Scoop. Advertising. Personalised, targeted and highly-relevant advertising, not those ubiquitous banners and irritating pop-ups.
The problem with internet advertising was that its benefits were over-hyped. Expectations sky-rocketed and the returns fell well short of them.
But as Rusty put it so succinctly: "An audience is like heroin to them (advertisers) -- they can't just leave one abandoned for long."
Let's hope they don't leave it just a wee too long!

It was refreshing to read about Indian Badminton champ Pullela Gopichand's refusal to endorse Coca-Cola for the simple reason: "I don't drink any of these soft drinks. So how can I advertise them and have kids drink them."
Would a cricketer, who everyone knows earns much more than any other sportsperson in the country, have the character to refuse such a lucrative advertising contract?
It feels good to know that some people are not corrupted by fame and the lure of the lucre.
Way to go, champ!

I don't know why I did it. Must be one of my wacky whims.
After three years of being online -- more than eight hours a day, almost 365 days a year -- I paid for the first time for a piece of online content.

At 400 bucks odd (I got a discount for being a subscriber to Business Today), I thought 1440 editions a day of The Newspaper Today were well worth it...

But I am just wondering: What stops me from sharing my login and password with friends, colleagues... and well much of the world...
How will they stop that: Maybe they could disable multiple simulataneous logins? But that solves only part of the problem. Maybe they could place cookies, and restrict me to say three machines. How many people do you (counting out cybercafe users, who anyway wouldn't be a target audience since most of them just check mail, chat and log out) know who use more than three computers? Will they tie-in my ID with the amount of information I can access? I don't think so!
So how can online content people tackle this? Any ideas?
I can't think of any offhand, which is why I think general interest paid content won't fly...

What an amazing story?

EverQuest, according to new research reported by New Scientist, has spawned an economy with a per-capita income comparable to that of a small country. Had the fictional Noratth been a country, it would rank 77th in the economic sweepstakes, after Russia.

"EverQuest lets players create and control characters - or avatars - within a fantasy world called Norrath. Characters gain skills and possessions that they can then trade with other players using the game's currency of "platinum pieces"." But many have cashed their pieces by auctioning them at ebay.

If you have ever applied for a phone line, you will realise how traumatic the whole experience can be.
But nothing in the world could have prepared Ashok Shah for a whopping Rs 2 crore bill on a phone that's not even been activated.
According to an MTNL official "it was a minor printing error".
That ranks as the understatement of the year....

London police have a new tool to fight crime. Problem is they can't figure out what it means.

Mathematicians called in by the Metropolitan Police think they have calculated the best way to beat crime in the capital: NDb - (60% x Nc/Nt + 40% x Dc/Dt) x 17,585.

Monday, January 28, 2002

Existential Pud: This one's a really cute site. Calls itself "an examination of being, nothingness and stale bubble gum".

To me Bombay is like an addiction. When you are living in Bombay, you want to quit. But when you quit, you get withdrawal. I don't know whether that's good or bad. But I wouldn't, for a moment, think of changing cities, till I am old, greying and my bones all creaky....

I did it once, long ago. Took a transfer to the Garden City. But I was back in Bombay in three months.

When I was reading Outlook Magazine's cover story on the Death of Mumbai, I was struck by how shallow the story was.
I certainly didn't expect this kind of reportage for a cover story of one of India's leading weeklies.
The article states nothing new; offers absolutely no insight into the life in the city and is basically a rehash of what everybody and his uncle has been talking about for years now.
A striking ommission is the fact of BMC's bankruptcy, thanks to its over-zealous pursuit of flyovers. That doesn't feature anywhere in the article.
It reinforces stereotypes, and does not explore any new angle. Neither does it offer any solutions.
This morning I received an email from Madhu about a blog called Ken Layne. Published by a Los Angeles journo, it exposes the hollowness of reporting in mainstream media.
Take a look.

It's expensive business getting married. Especially if you try finding your bride at an Internet auction. A Birmingham woman, Kay Hammond, decided to auction herself, recently. And a user, called Ben Webb, bested other suitors (there was only one other bid incidentally) by bidding£251,000.

An aside: ebay turned down her auction calling it unethical!

If you are the type, join the Dull Men's Club.

Alternatives to Google

Vivisimo: An excellent meta-search engine. Pretty fast. Good quality of results. Also has some interesting bells and whistles, like emailing your results.

Wisenut: A Korean start-up. Pretty promising set of results. Very similar to Google, though.

Teoma: Still in Beta. If you are searching for multiple keywords, check mark the 'Find This Phrase' option (I wonder why anybody should offer that option at all. It should by default look for a phrase). It's already been picked up by Ask Jeeves... so watch this space...

All The Web: This one's a old warhorse. But it's got some really good features. And it also offers search on news, pictures, videos, MP3s and FTP files. Relevance is a bit of problem. But remember to check mark 'Exact Phrase'.

All of these offer one feature that Google does not: A dyanmic clustering of your results sets into groups. Check them out...

The rise and fall of

What went wrong with the "live collaboration between the Web's smartest readers and the Web's smartest editors".

In one word: Money.

A two-part OJR special on the plastic dream that soured....

Sunday, January 27, 2002

I am not a great fan of U2. In fact, I am not even a great rock fan... But I like this article on the U2 for the way it is written and the manner in which it analyses the band.

There are many ways to die. But this one surely beats them all!

Don't blame me if you die laughing!

An excellent graphic from Time Magazine on how a vaccine works.

A single room at the Savoy costs £300 a night. A cleaner there earns £150 a week

A Guardian reporter spent a month working as a cleaner at Savoy to report on the life of those who live on minimum wage.

Enron: cocktail of cash, sex and fast living

Friday, January 25, 2002

The Week Magazine's cover story on why boys are the weaker sex...

Thursday, January 24, 2002

Teachers commit one third of all child rapes in South Africa, according to a new study.

Spyware, VX2 and AudioGalaxy

A couple of links:

Where Are These Pop-Ups Coming From?

Spyware, in a Galaxy near you

As if the surfeit of ads on television were not enough, here's a device that will trim programs to fit more ads.
It's called micro-editing.
Here's what its inventor Bill Hendershot had to say to "The little pieces we take out are so small, but we take so many of them that you can accumulate 30 seconds over 30 minutes. Each snippet is so small that you can't see or hear it. It's microediting as opposed to gross chopping. That's the key."
This sounds very similar to converting .tif images to .jpeg... :)

Arun posted a comment on my blog wondering how I managed to update my blog so regularly.
Well, it so happens that my job is to surf the Net -- and do nothing but that. That's where I find all my links. Publishing it to my blog is made simple by BlogThis, which allows me to post directly from my browser.

I am on the Internet more than eight hours a day. But I continue to be amazed by the power of the medium.
Yesterday, while browsing through a page, I suddenly remembered an old colleague. We have not spoken or had any contact for seven years. I typed his name into the search box at Rediff and I found his email address on the third result.
I mailed him a note. And, within seconds, I had a reply.
Barriers of space (he is in Australia) and time just melted away with a few bursts of electronic activity.
Now, which other medium could have done that?

Rounding up a Posse

A bad EBay auction experience spurs an ad hoc Internet manhunt by ordinary folk, who, like frontier vigilantes, find themselves skirting the law in their quest for justice.

Entrepreneurs and disasters go hand in hand. With the collapse of Enron, there's suddenly a lot of memorabilia linked to the company online. And, the items in themselves are pretty interesting.
If there was one thing that Enron lacked was ethics. But enterprising ex-Enron employees have put up the corporate ethics handbook.
If you think the shares of Enron are not worth the paper the certificate is printed on think again. Here's where you can buy a framed share certificate of the company for $49.95. Want one without the frame? No problems. Just shell out $28.00.

We all, some time in our lives, refer to a dictionary. But, Cambridge Dictionaries Online offers a peek into what others are referring to dictionaries for.
The Top 20 list has some interesting insights. On number 6 is dictionary. Dictionary? Someone looking up a dictionary for the meaning of dictionary????
On number 16 comes Muslim (September 11 has sure changed a lot of things), followed on 17 by terrorism (I wish a definition of this word were as simple as its literal meaning).
Just making it to the top 20 with the wooden spoon is Internet.

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Lie-detectors for textual content

This BBC article warns:"Careful when composing your CV and sending it off to potential employers, they could be using software to spot if you are stretching the truth about your achievements."

Will this software work in chat rooms where bald, pot-bellied middle-aged men routinely claim to be 25-year-old tall, dark and handsome hunks?

Convert your images to HTML
Thanks to Metafilter for the link.

How pretzels ought to be eaten.
A guide for the dangerously stupid.

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Pray, what's a church doing with XXX prefixed to its domain name?
Taking on a dirty little secret called pornography!

Culinary History Timeline

Ever wondered about the history of salt, rice, spaghetti, lentils, etc? Catch the history of a range of food items, from the ordinary to the exotic, at this timeline.

Say what you like, but who overhears?

An increasing number of companies are hiring teams of private investigators and lawyers to clamp down on damaging spoof websites and malicious comments made in internet chatrooms.

Elsewhere, a free speech lawyer offers the now famous 'sucks' domains for free.

What was that about every action having an equal and opposite reaction?

Baring the Cyber Soul

Whether admitting to cross dressing, nosehair burning, a used panty addiction or even murder, guilt-ridden Americans are turning away from the Church and to online confession sites.

Monday, January 21, 2002

A list of the world's top 100 brains features Henry Kissinger at the top of the heap. Salman Rushdie weighs in at number 9. Tom Wolfe comes in at 15. Jean-Paul Satre all the way down at 64. George Bernard Shaw at 17, and John Kenneth Galbraith at 69.

Kazaa Sells Site, Software

Blogger works in mysterious ways!
Last night, I posted about Full TP losing its memory. And this morning I log on to my blog only to discover that the archives are back in action.
It's nice not to be a blog without a past :)

I put in the comment facility. And lost my archives. I am an amenisiac blog now. C'mon guys help me jog my blog's memory back....

Sunday, January 20, 2002

Are you psychic?

If you want an answer to that question, check out these online tests to find out your PSI abilities.

Ever worried about getting abducted by aliens. Then don't leave earth without it. Falling asteroids put the fear of god into you, then cover all your bases. The First Collision & Casualty Insurance Company has boldly gone where no Insurance Company has gone before and offers the perfect policy for anyone who thinks they have everything covered. Their insurance policy covers alien abductions, asteroid hits and other such eventualities.

I have read about all kinds of insurance. But this one takes the cake.

Saturday, January 19, 2002

Fingerprint evidence unreliable, says Pennsylvania judge.

Friday, January 18, 2002

Lesbian couples could have own baby

Last night, I watched The Shawshank Redemption for the third time, on HBO. It easily ranks as one of my all-time favourites. There's something indescribably beautiful about the movie
It's a deeply moving story about life of inmates in a high-security prison. It doesn't move you to tears. It moves you so deeply that tears seem inadequate. Every frame captivates you. Morgan Freeman conveys brilliantly through his narrative the bleakness and the hope; the resignation of a lifer and the fleeting moments of happiness; his affection for Andy (Tim Robbins) and consequent fear for his friend...
There are some moments that will stay with you forever... Andy playing an Opera over the prison's speaker system... the old prisoner Brookes' tragic end after 50 years in prison... and, of course, the final redemption...
I am sure they will show a repeat on television one of these days. Don't miss it!

What to do with the spam in your newspaper

As if I did not have enough to handle in my inbox, these days even my morning newspaper comes with 'spam': an assortment of leaflets advertising everything from a local beauty parlour, a Chinese restaurant's menu to a computer class. I put them to good use. I make boats of them. Unconsciously. I don't even realise that I am doing it. It's almost compulsive. And, why boats? I really don't know.
On a particularly prolific day, my wife clears about five such boats into the dustbin. She has ceased being surprised by my eccentricities. Even the bai is no longer surprised by my 'origami'.
When I worked for Mid-Day I used to roll little pieces of paper, sometimes important pieces of bromide... and once even a piece that contained one of next day's headlines. People tell me it is a sign of my restlessness, a compulsive urge to keep doing something all the time... a way of burning off my nervous energy...
A while after I joined Mid-Day, my brother joined too. We worked in different departments. One day, I was standing next to him, chatting and watching him at work. And what do you know, he was busy, unknowingly, unconsciously, rolling a sheet of paper...

Life at the Googleplex, the home of one the best search engines out there.

Another one bites the dust. Kazaa has voluntarily suspended downloads of its file-sharing software.
What was voluntary about it beats me, though!

Ever found yourself stumped between the usage of Who and Whom and That and Which The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation should be a great help.

What would Darwin have had to say about online dating sites?

Thursday, January 17, 2002

Here's more on my pet peeve these days: ICICI.

Finally, a representative landed up at my office. He was explaining to me the intricacies of how interest rates are affected. "They are based on profit and loss," he said. I was aghast. "Profit and loss? Whose?"
"You will get a separate sheet titled P/L along with your loan documents, which will give you a complete explanation," he said.
Realisation dawned. "Do you mean PLR (Prime Lending Rate)?" I asked. "Yeah, that also," he said. I left it at that.
A couple of hours later, I got a call from another ICICI executive, wondering whether I had enquired about a housing loan. I told her a representative had already visited me. She wanted to know the name of the executive. I had half a mind to tell her that it was their job to track where their executives go (a classic case of the right elbow not knowing what the right wrist is doing). But I just let that pass too. Why bother!

A chain of tragedies

Harassed by husband, woman consumes insecticide, dies.Husband tries to get under a speeding bus, ends up in hospital. Son ends his life under a local train.

Music of the Plants

"Note sequences, from plant proteins that have been isolated from medicinal plants, have been arranged to create complex 'multi-dimensional' musical pieces which contain sequences describing both the secondary and tertiary features of the individual proteins."

Whatever that means... Go ahead and listen to the plants... it's kinda nice...

The Secret Life of the Brain

I love PBS specials. And this one is no exception. A superb three-dimensional tour of the human brain.

The Conflict Equation

High Infant Death Rates + Trade Barriers - Democracy = War

The intersection of science and God

Lourdes, in France, has a reputation for miracles but are these `inexplicable' cures evidence of divine intervention?

Enron approached General Media, publishers of Penthouse magazine, for a deal to offer sex videos on demand to its broadband customers.

Stalking the Web Predator

By day, she is Posey, a homemaker. By night, she is Kendra, a 14-year-old looking for trouble in chat rooms and newsgroups. And when she finds it, the cops are not far behind.

Vigilantism or blessing in disguise?

Whose idea is it, anyway?

Is America patenting itself into a corner: granting too many patents, and patents of the wrong kind, thus impeding the capacity for further innovation?

A good article on the flaws in the US patent system...

And this article picks four of the worst patents awarded, including the three-dimensional pie-chart and training manuals!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

A new book, The Future of Life, says: "At current (extinction) rates, half of the Earth's plant and animal species will cease to exist by the end of the century, forever impoverishing the human experience, materially and spiritually".

I think I will read the book.

Frequent sex reduces risk of heart attack in middle-aged men.

The blogger code

Millions of cell phone users think about dumping their service providers every year but then abandon the thought because switching also means changing their numbers.

"It's a frustrating obstacle that was supposed to have been eliminated 2 1/2 years ago under a 1996 federal mandate requiring cell phone companies to allow customers to keep their phone numbers regardless of which carrier they used."

We all know why that has not happened!

What you could do if someone around you chokes on a pretzel like George Bush did.

According to Webster's pretzel is "a brittle or chewy glazed usually salted slender bread often shaped like a loose knot".

Apple Myths

This is what I call taking the battle into the enemy camp. Apple has posted on its web site a message to windows users which aims to puncture myths about Macs vis-a-vis Windows.

I am paying a whopping 13.9 per cent interest on my HDFC housing loan. A few days ago, I decided that it was too much. I read about ICICI's offering of 11.5 per cent interest (with monthly rests) and decided to have my loan refinanced.
That was easier thought than done. I made six calls to the ICICI call centre. Each time I was promised a time-frame -- ranging from two days to two hours -- within which its representative would get in touch with me. The representative never materialised. The seventh time I called, they gave me the number of one of their sales agents. I called there. It was engaged for a good part of a day. I finally got through. And again I was promised a visit by a representative. No luck. I logged on to the ICICI site. For one, it doesn't have a feedback form. All it had was a query form. I wrote up a complaint on that. Three days later I got an email from a ICICI executive requesting my contact number (I had already furnished that in my complaint). I promptly sent him my numbers. Silence. Suddenly, out of the blue, three weeks on, I got a call from the sales agency. The lady who called didn't have a clue about the loan procedure. She referred every question I asked to someone who knew before getting back to me. By now, I was thoroughly put off by ICICI.
I called up HDFC. I told them my problem. They said come down any day. It will take 15 minutes to switch to a floating interest loan of 11.5 per cent (annual rests). The difference over a 15 year term works out to around Rs 20,000 more expensive than ICICI. But I don't mind. Because, one I save on the two per cent (Rs 9000) pre-payment penalty if I were to switch to ICICI. And, two, I would be doing business with a professional outfit that understands customer service.

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

I suddenly have this urge to learn mathematics. I was never a great student of the subject in school. Or, for that matter, college (As an arts student, I majored in economics and one of my optionals was Math and Stats). But, I don't know why, I feel like doing a refresher course in the world of numbers. Everyday, I spend a hour now at Mathgoodies and I realise how little I know even about the basic concepts of algebra.

The front page is the soul of a newspaper. Not so long ago Times of India sold its soul to Today, Indian Express sold a part of it -- by plastering a Whirlpool banner advertisement right below its masthead.
In Indian Express's case the transgression of reader interest is excusable. I assume every ad for it is a matter of survival (like it was, if I remember correctly, for Afternoon Dispatch and Courier, a Bombay based tabloid, which had a full page ad on its front page). In the case of the Times it was greed. Pure and simple.
A lot of people will argue that a newspaper is like any other product, say a soap or a toothpaste, and the bottomline is sacred.
I don't buy the argument, simply because you can't compromise on quality for a few rupees more. Imagine the company that manufactures your toothpaste suddenly changing the flavour of its product because it's cheaper to make.
Selling the front page of a newspaper is a similar act. It's one page that defines a newspaper more than anything else on it.

Imagine watching a 'dead' relative you are all set to cremate suddenly spring to life.

That's what happened to Sukhlal Gautam, who was pronounced dead by a government hospital. Dispatched to a mortuary. And while the family was busy making preparations for his funeral, Gautam woke up to find himself in a mortuary.

So whose shock must have been greater?

Sunday, January 13, 2002

Dean Kamen's Segway Human Transporter, a self-balancing scooter billed as heralding a revolution in the way people travel, could run into an obstacle in Japan, where a robotics professor wants recognition for inventing a nearly identical machine 15 years ago.

A Cover for Steve Jobs, a Faux Pas for Time

Who sold his soul to whom?

Requires Free Registration.

Saturday, January 12, 2002

I love free stuff. But I hate pop-ups. If you do too, then Pop-Up Stopper gives you the best of both worlds.

They have raised over a trillion dollars. They have experience. They have a vision. They know what you don't. And they are willing to share it all with you. But before you trust them, read the credits.

Wednesday, January 09, 2002

Money, apparently, can buy happiness.

Burping, barfing and body odour

Nothing is off limits at the "Grossology" exhibition in Singapore which gets up close and personal with the slimy, smelly science of the human body.

Nuclear testing back on US agenda

Max Walls launched a promotional exercised in Ludhiana for its range of sweets.
Children of 20 schools were handed posters, which they had to colour and stick wrappers of each its eight flavours on it, to be eligible to win a computer.
Parents and children queued up outside stores to buy the sweets. Only to discover that all of them fell short by one wrapper: The mango flavour.
It turns out that the flavour was not even launched in Ludhiana.
Is it a wonder then that the sweets have left a bitter taste?

Tuesday, January 08, 2002

The idea is so wickedly simple, wonder why no one thought of it before.
A mother-son duo have been smuggling AK-47 rifles and ammunition from Hong Kong to mainland China by courier mail for two years.

From the South China Morning Post, requires free registration.

Will Fast Food Be The Death Of Us?

Read this, before you bite into that juicy burger.

Is there an AfterLife?

I can't say for sure till I find out for myself, which I hope is not anytime soon.
But scientists claim to have validated near-death experiences.

Monday, January 07, 2002

Kidney For Sale

A handicapped couples desperate saga to crawl out of a crippling debt.

Sunday, January 06, 2002

“This new knowledge has all to do with honour and country, but it has nothing to do directly with defending our country, except to help make it worth defending.”

Robert Wilson, the first director of Fermilab, which gave America first the atomic bomb, and then the hydrogen bomb, said these words in 1969.

The geeks who saved Usenet

Here's to Doubting Thomases

"We won't hear about... blasphemers because it's the believers who end up writing the histories. And actually, if you mumble your skepticism a bit too loudly, those same believers will make sure your voice is lost to history by silencing you eternally."

Myths About Genius

"Does genius exist? The idea generally seems highly exaggerated. Great reputations grow regardless of talent. Acclaim is assisted by luck or wealth. Superior perches are reached through sycophantism or exploitation. And tastes change over time: one era's genius can become another era's fraud."

From the New York Times. Requires free registration.

Thursday, January 03, 2002

Death of the West?

Extreme xenophobia or a madman's rantings?
The timing of author and US presidential candidate Pat Buchanan's Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasion Imperil our Country and Civilisation couldn't have been worse.
In this controversial new book, Buchanan contends that Europe will be inundated by an Islamic-Arab-African invasion and most First World Nations, including Japan, will vanish from the earth
US, he says, will be a third world nation by 2050.

A lonely stretch of road. A man trying to thumb a ride. Without luck. He lights up a cigarette. In the distance, a car approaches. A beautiful girl is at the wheel. The man puts his thumb out. The girl passes him. Checks her rear view. Spots him smoking. Stops the car. Man gets in.
Then the words appear on your screen:

Women feel safer with men who smoke...

Smoking causes impotency

I thought the ad, "issued in public interest by the Cancer Patients Aid Association", was all wrong -- even objectionable. Why would a woman feel safer with an impotent man? Do they see all men as deranged rapists? And is that the only harm a man can cause a woman?
May be I am reading too closely between the lines here. But this is what I call smart-alecky advertising. Some clever-clever copy-writer must be patting himself on his back on the piece of work.
It sucks. I remember the ad, not the message.

It may be a cliche. But this page certainly brings to mind the phrase: Big Brother's watching you.

Wednesday, January 02, 2002

Is the Internet shrinking?

For only the second time ever, an authoritative monthly survey of the number of sites on the net has found fewer sites online than in the previous month.

I began the year by taking a couple of hidden bias tests at
I was a bit surprised by the results, especially the one about my bias towards skin tones.
The results suggested that I had a strong automatic preference for lighter skin (putting me with 22 per cent of other respondents). And I always thought exactly the opposite. Besides, even if I did have a bias, I never thought it was 'strong'.
My gender bias test revealed that I make a slight automatic association between male and science (14 per cent of all respondents).
You live and you learn.

Later this month, Michael Lerner will launch the Tikkun Community, a worldwide fraternity dedicated to transforming modern life.

"What Lerner diagnoses as the 21st century world's great sickness is the triumph of the material over the spiritual. Materialism - the belief that the only things that exist are those we can verify with our senses - is, he says, the "dominant religion" of mankind. One can challenge it in one's own home or at the weekend, but in the public sphere, materialism rules."

Are beedis more harmful than cigarettes?
The Californian authorities think so. And have banned beedis.

Tuesday, January 01, 2002

Every year, Lake Superior State University releases a List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness. Among the many nominations, I like 9/11 the best.

"Last year, we had Y2K and 24-7. This year, we have 9-11. This new digital language (digitalk?) should be banned no later than 1-1-Y2K-2…Do we refer to the Chicago Fire as 10-8 because it occurred on October 8, 1871? How about the sinking of the Titanic - it is not called 4-14. A tragic event of such proportion should not be confused with a telephone number. The name will be remembered as long as there are people who can read."

One day old, and I am already beginning to feel the weight of the new year... on my eyelids, in my legs and in my head...

Yawwwn... I am feeling sleepy!

Have a great year, all you guys!

Search for Google on, well, Google.
Notice something? All the Google results are tagged Fresh.
Why? What does "Fresh' mean? Crawled recently? Indexed lately? Just updated?

Computer in Kabul holds chilling memos

As Al Qaeda is uprooted from its Afghan sanctuaries, it is leaving behind cyber-fingerprints. Hundreds of text documents and video files have beein found n a computer used for four years by the terrorist organisation's chiefs. "Its hard drive is a repository for correspondence with militant Muslims around the world, portraying al-Qaida bosses struggling to administer, inspire and discipline the sprawling global organization".

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