Media rant

There are two things that totally ticked me off yesterday. Early morning, I open the door, and take the newspaper and walk in. I am usually a first-page guy. I read the whole first page, and if there is anything more that interests me, I open and read further. As much as I would like to read the paper fully, time constraints me so. So what did I see yesterday that irritated me so much.

There is no front page.

The whole front page is an advertisement from Thomas Cook or some such travel agency. I am seeing this more and more. There are other irritating variants of the same thing that I am seeing in recent times. Some time earlier this month, we had a hole in the front page. Yes. No figuratively, but quite literally. The hole was a cutout in the shape of a VW Beetle – that was the day Volkswagen introduced the beetle in the India. The other variant of this irritating new phenomena is an whole page advertisement in the whole front page, with news interspersed between it. You get my drift. I am sure you empathize with me, when I say, that I had to search for the news that day. (It is already a popular joke, that in Times of India, there is more sleaze, and you have to search for genuine news).

Second irritant: “See culture, See Europe”. Or something almost similar. This is the bold fonted advertisement of some travel agency. *Deep breath*. Does that mean, we do not have culture in our country. Oh, we are in such dire straits, we have to travel to another continent to experience culture. That has been my pet peeve for quite some time. When people come back from an European holiday, and tell me that they saw so much culture,  I sometimes ask them, have they seen all of the culture in India? Have they seen the temples of Tanjore, the Ajanta caves, the ancient city of Varanasi, the ocean temple at Kanyakumari, the beautiful rock carvings of Mahabalipuram? Most of them give me an absurd look, and walk away. But when I saw that front page ad, that ticked me off.

Well, that is my rant. And people object to it, this is my opinion, and you have the right to have yours. This is one of my objectives of this blog. And this is my space. ;-). Why am I sounding a little arrogant here. I have had people shouting at me in my comments, when I make some of these rants in the past.

Water: Our thirsty world

Source: - photographer: John Stanmeyer, VII, National Geographic Magazine

A beautiful slideshow from the FastCompany website. Just fantastic images of water sources across the world. The best of the lot (in my opinion) is the above image, which is a long exposure shot over the Ganga in Haridwar, where you can see the flickery trails of the diyas (small lamps) which are let afloat by pilgrims.

View the slide show here.

Somali Pirates Business Model

source: flickr – jessicalyn444

I read this on the (went there through daringfireball). And I thought this is worth a “retweet” on my blog. Wow. This is amazing. I have always heard/read that, people are not driven to piracy (I do not mean software or media piracy here – I mean the piracy of  Somalian and the Carribean kind) because of the lucrativeness behind it (and not driven to it). Is it lucrative or what? Judge for yourself.

A basic piracy operation requires a minimum eight to twelve militia prepared to stay at sea for extended periods of time, in the hopes of hijacking a passing vessel. Each team requires a minimum of two attack skiffs, weapons, equipment, provisions, fuel and preferably a supply boat. The costs of the operation are usually borne by investors, some of whom may also be pirates.

To be eligible for employment as a pirate, a volunteer should already possess a firearm for use in the operation. For this ‘contribution’, he receives a ‘class A’ share of any profit. Pirates who provide a skiff or a heavier firearm, like an RPG or a general purpose machine gun, may be entitled to an additional A-share. The first pirate to board a vessel may also be entitled to an extra A-share.

At least 12 other volunteers are recruited as militiamen to provide protection on land of a ship is hijacked, In addition, each member of the pirate team may bring a partner or relative to be part of this land-based force. Militiamen must possess their own weapon, and receive a ‘class B’ share — usually a fixed amount equivalent to approximately US$15,000.

If a ship is successfully hijacked and brought to anchor, the pirates and the militiamen require food, drink, qaad, fresh clothes, cell phones, air time, etc. The captured crew must also be cared for. In most cases, these services are provided by one or more suppliers, who advance the costs in anticipation of reimbursement, with a significant margin of profit, when ransom is eventually paid.

When ransom is received, fixed costs are the first to be paid out. These are typically:

• Reimbursement of supplier(s)

• Financier(s) and/or investor(s): 30% of the ransom

• Local elders: 5 to 10 %of the ransom (anchoring rights)

• Class B shares (approx. $15,000 each): militiamen, interpreters etc.

The remaining sum — the profit — is divided between class-A shareholders.

Wonder if they teach that at Wharton?

Source: UNDispatch ; through daringfireball.

Nokia / Symbian UI Design Bug

Despite the ominous sounding complex title, what I am about to write, is something that almost everyone who owns a Nokia phone has encountered.

Try this:

Image courtesy:

1. Set your phone to lock key-pad after 10 seconds (or some small time)

2. Set your phone on vibrate mode.

3. Keep it on your desk, and walk away for 10 minutes.

4. Have your friend call you during this time.

In most Nokia phones, to lock or unlock your keypad, you need to press left key and *. But by habit, most people come back to their desk, click some arbitrary key, the screen glows, shows your wall paper, your time etc. But the phone will not show any symbol that you have missed calls! Now unlock your keypad, and bingo, you see that you have a missed call.

Should not the missed call be indicated, even when unlocked?? I have missed multiple missed calls this way. I do not think, that this is a limitation in the software, since, if you get a message, that shows up as an envelope, even when the keypad is locked. So I am pretty sure, the missed call can also be shown. I think it is just a design issue that has been overlooked.

Nokia / Symbian … Are you listening ?

gmail blog posts

One really cool thing about the Official Gmail blog is the informal nature of the posts. The latest one which is a lab feature which refreshes POP accounts at will, is an example. See for yourself:

My little sister recently setup her Gmail account to retrieve messages from her school address, so she can check all of her email accounts in one place. She no longer has to constantly log in to two email programs, and she likes using Gmail’s powerful interface for all her mail.

However, sometimes she knows an email has already been sent to her school address, and she just can’t wait for the next scheduled fetch to have it show up in her Gmail inbox. As any big brother would, I tried to solve this issue for her and millions of Gmail users.

Link to original post.