Saturday, February 9, 2008

Shash's DRAGON!

This is Shash's new ART form. This art work is still in progress. He says it is "a graphic from wheel of time". Ask him what he made this from? His promptly replies, "Vertices and polygons." He emphasizes, "Do not forget the polygons."

And for people like me, just go vistit

"A graphic from wheel of time" refers to the wheel of time by robert jordan. The main character is Rand al'Thor, who's called the Dragon Reborn. Naturally, with 12 books out and the 13th coming, there's a big story behind it, but whenever rand appears in a chapter, it's preceded by that graphic. He has jus added depth to the blue dragon (See the picture with the red dragon). It is actually a 3d model which he extrapolated from the 2d drawing. If you notice around the eyes
and the claws there's some amount of shadowing.
For more of his pictures, Visit: (Click on the image to grow it)

KNOL no threat to Wikipedia says Jimmy Wales

Okay the following is the OFFICIAL report I wrote with my friend Brat on my dinner date with Jimmy Wales.

Chennai: “I am not worried about Google introducing KNOL.” said Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia. KNOL is Google’s online encyclopedia. Wales was on his second visit to India to address undergraduates across the country and spoke to reporters in Chennai on Saturday evening.

He said, “Google’s blog says this (KNOL) is not an open source software whereas ours is. This is where our strength lies. I am not worried about them.” Wales added that Wikipedia had built trust with their users and that would stay with them. His idea of starting a free online encyclopedia was criticized as a Utopian goal, but Wikipedia is now synonymous with information on the net and is inevitably the first or second on a google search result.

“I am happy with where wikipedia stands now. It has reached where I wanted it to be; even an African child can access information in his or her own language,” said Wales
Wikipedia is now available in 250 languages.

According toWales a major problem in updating information in other languages is the lack of a vernacular keyboard. He said, “Maybe if phonetics were used to type in one’s own language it would be comparatively easier.”

He did not think adding a video or an audio element to the pages was a great idea and firmly dismissed the possibility of Wikipedia introducing them. He said, “It is difficult to edit the content of a video or audio for facts or for bias. There is no advanced software that would help in editing them to our needs.” He added, “Personally, I prefer reading text. If I get a call, the text is still there where I left it. It is not the same with a video.”

On the latest clash of the Titans, Wales voiced his doubts on the Yahoo – Microsoft deal and was quick to point out that Yahoo mail had many more users than gmail. However, underlining Google’s status as the best search engine, he said “You always google for something. You do not go to Yahoo for search.” He conceded that Yahoo was a good news portal and that Yahoo messenger was widely used.

David Appasamy, Communications Manager of Sify, said, “Yahoo and Microsoft are two disparate companies and they wouldn’t do well together.” Wales agreed with Appasamy. Appasamy also added, “Yahoo has been on a decline for the past two years. This is an act of desperation by both.”

Friday, February 8, 2008

In Parsi land: 'Andar aao ni' (Come on in)

Nai nai, you are quoting too much for the tomatoes, Rs 14 is right. After all, yesterday you sold it at Rs 12, and today Rs 16. What nonsense!” argued Dilnaz, a 45-year-old housewife living in Cusrow baug in Colaba, Mumbai. Dressed in a pink flowery nightgown at eight in the morning, she is haggling over the vegetable prices with the tarkariwala (vegetable seller). This is a familiar sight at any Parsi baug in Mumbai.

Most Parsis live in secluded colonies called ‘baug’ that are built by various trusts headed by industrialists like the Wadias and Godrej’s or by the local Parsi Panchayat. The baugs of Mumbai, Cusrow, Rustom, Jer, Godrej, Novroj, Ness, Malcolm, Behram, Panthaky, Bharucha, Firozsha and Contractor, to name a few are home to 35,000 of the 40,000 Zoroastrians. Each baug has its own unique layout with the buildings surrounding the agiary (fire temple) and garden. The baugs with their arched entrances have tall trees that provide shade to the Victorian style buildings enclosed within a compound wall. Each baug has ten of these buildings in the very least that are spread across five acres of land, some of them more, and they house 100 families on an average.

First built in 1912 in Mumbai by the Parsi Panchayat, the baugs are now more than just an address for the Parsis; they are an essential part of their distinct identity. After the first baug, several more were built in 1937 and after the World War II to provide houses for the Zoroastrian community at affordable rates. Even today a Zoroastrian who wants to own or rent a house in a baug can apply to the trustees and will be offered a place based on availability.
Each baug has its own doodhwalla (milkman) and pauwalla (bread man) along with their own tarkariwalla who become part of the extended family and are familiar with the needs of each family. Quibbling over prices is an enjoyable ritual for them.Nanu bhaiyya, the vegetable vendor in Cusrow Baug, said, “I have been coming here for 30 years now and nothing has changed. Every morning I still have to explain to memsahib why I cannot give her a 50 per cent discount. I do not mind because she is like my family now.” The goswalla (meat seller) is the most sought after as a true Parsi cannot imagine a meal without a mutton dish. Ras-gosh, an authentic parsi dish which is a mutton gravy made of apricots and garam masala and eaten with with naram pau (soft white bread), is finger-licking good and a dish to die for.

A baug is a closed community where everybody knows everybody else and if Jahanbax dikro is studying or not. Freni, a 64-year-old in the Old Parsi Agiary in Secunderabad, with her snowy white hair tied back in a braid and a scarf over her head, said, “These children in the colony are like my own. Every evening when I go down to meet my friends; I take a few chocolates for the children.” She laughed and added, “That is the only time they come to me. Otherwise when I ask them how their studies are going and are they troubling their parents, they run away from me.”
Asking questions is natural in the baug whether it is the day’s menu or is Rustom still dating the same chokri (girl). Sanobar, a 30-year-old housewife, said “Every afternoon my neighbour hollers across the passage asking me what I have cooked. When I first moved in, I was baffled. But now if Dolly Aunty doesn’t ask me I would think something has happened to her.” On cue, Dolly Aunty, a cheerful 54-year-old housewife, walked into Sanobar’s flat and said, “It is nice to know what the other is cooking. It’s a sense of being loved. Sometimes we also send food across. This way we ensure the feeling of being a part of one big family.” There are two to three flats on each floor, facing each other. Residents talk across their grilled doors which are always open and people also walk in and out of each other’s home frequently.

While the women exchange recipes the men of the baug discuss matters of the world: on whether 'Bipasha Basu is more attractive or whether Aishwarya Rai retained her charisma even after marriage’. These men or bawajis, dressed in leghas (loose, flappy pajamas)and sudras (a religious vest made of handspun cotton) with a topi (a religious cap) on their bald pates meet every evening in the large garden around the baug’s agiary (fire temple).

Their mornings are spent in their arm-chairs reading the newspapers and slurping tea from their abominably large cup and saucer every morning. Darius Uncle, a 70-year-old grandfather, prefers Bipasha Basu. He exclaimed, “Dikra (child), she is smart and sexy. She has brains to go with the beauty.” And clinching the argument, “After all she is going out with aapro dikro (our son) John Abraham.”

But Jehangir Uncle, a 65-year-old retired bank manager, argued, “Bipasha hasn’t had as many hits in her kitty as Ash has. Even after marriage she (Ash) is going strong. That never used to happen in our times. After marriage the heroines had to settle at home.”

Younger men of the baug are not part of these animated discussions. Jehangir Uncle said in a mischievous tone, “All these cutlets (‘young parsi boys who have meat and no brains’) are busy wooing the fatakrees (a variation of the Gujrati word fatakra meaning cracker) in the colony.” He smiled wistfully and murmured, “In our days we had only one fatakree for the entire colony and now there are so many for them to pick from!”
The fatakrees are not the only reason that keeps the cutlets away from the elders. They feel that the elders pry too much into their lives and can be embarrassing. Pervez, a 22-year-old M.Com student said, “They are so inquisitive that they need to know everything from the ice cream you ate to the girl who dropped you back home.” But Roxanne, a 21-year-old student, said “I will be lost if I no longer hear my neighbours bellowing out at one another.” She emphasized, “I am so used to them discussing their family drama across two floors; it is now a source of entertainment for me.”

No matter what their complaints are, youngsters do not want to move out. Pervez said, “I am so used to it that I can’t think of living anywhere else.” Hormazd, a 23-year-old, said “Living in a baug is dirt cheap. We pay only Rs 600 a month as rent and live in the most posh part of the city which is Napean Sea Road. The same 500 square feet flat will cost at least Rs 20,000 a month. So why would I even think of moving out?!” Godrej baug, on Napean Sea Road, was built in 1984-85 by the Bombay Parsi Panchayat.

A baug is home for the Zoroastrians, a community space for them to bond; a haven where time seems to pause for gossip and naram pau.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

"If google goes down, something else will come up"

Last night, a friend and me had a discussion on why google is better than any other search engine. And also why the Yahoo! and Microsft deal, if it came through, wouldn't do much for the. Note, Shash is a hard core google admirer and the following converstaion could be biased. If anybody has an alternative opinion kindly feel free to add on. I've also added a few links to stories regarding the deal which I personally think is a must read to understand the complexity of it. There again I thought I did write a lone blog on the deal, but thought this conversation sets a good ground for it.

IMJ: Have u read the story in New York Times on Google's (G) take on the bid?
Shash: Yes I read G's take on it.
IMJ: They are definitely thinking if that’s their response. No matter what any one says about the deal, G is definitely shuddering.
Shash: They're playing smooth. Thing is, they can't be challenged that easily
IMJ: Yea. Smooth on de surface chaos inside.
Shash: Too much permission capital with everyone. We all lap up google services and don't care one whit about MS or yahoo search engines.
IMJ: Well think of it this way Micro and Yahoo engineers together working to improve the search engine. It is definitely something to think about
Shash: Lol don't blame you, but that's not how it works. The google databanks account for about 60% of the world's big iron machines, the ones that are publicly connected, anyway.I doubt anyone can beat the raw power of google's systems anytime soon
IMJ: What do you mean by “The google databanks account for about 60% of the world's big iron machines the ones that are publicly connected, anyway.”?
Shash: Simple raw computing power. The google servers are not really single systems. Rather, they're these enormous complexes of networked machines that work together and split the loads between themselves. One could consider the databank to be one huge supercomputer if they do; it's the single largest entity on the internet. You've seen the "(0.13 seconds)" bit on each google search, right?
IMJ: Yes
Shash: Now imagine that each request goes through like maybe 5000 computers in that span of time. The thing is, google makes their own servers - they customize the OS and build their own machines from off-the-shelf components. At the scale they operate at, this is so bloody cheap that they can afford give away things for free even if 99.99% of us never click on the ads.
Shash: Also, they've got this huge amount of advertising capital. You don't yahoo for something - you google it and with blogger, they practically own the word blog and google earth, picasa. Nobody goes to hotmail or even yahoo mail anymore.
IMJ: Then isn’t it unfair for them to say that micro is going to manipulate and violate the idea of the INTERNET??
Shash: Some would say so and in a way, they're right. But remember it's the same site, whether you find it through msn live or google or through a friend giving you a URL. What they're saying is that Microsoft has this reputation for playing dirty. They bundle products with their OS and thus snuff out a great alternative with a "good enough" one. I don't think that'll happen to google though - they're saber-rattling at MS and yahoo
IMJ: G had filed a lawsuit against M when dey had made MSN default search wit their OS.
Shash: yup and a fat lot of good it did MS. Everyone just reconfigured their home pages to G. Including the OEMs who did it out of the box after people complained.
Shash: But even google's power pales in comparison to something else that's just building up
IMJ: Meaning?
Shash: It is the simple fact that wikis, blogs and the rest are user-generated. No more are we tied down by a few sources for everything. Interested in something vague and weird? Make a website or a blog about it. Even if you don't want the free stuff, you can do it for about $5 a month + 9.95 a year for a domain. So if google goes down, something else will come up.

Other links:
Yahoo! and the future of the Internet by David Drummond, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer
Monkey boy's three-legged race
Google and Microsoft Take Up Battle Stations
How Google Could Keep Yahoo From Microsoft
An Offer Yahoo Can’t Refuse

Monday, February 4, 2008

Dinner date with Jimmy Wales

Okay for those who don't know who Jimmy Wales is (there were quite a few of my friends who didn't!), he is the founder of Wikipedia. Yes, the very site you would go to if you wanted to know about a career option u are looking at like logistics or to look up what a heinie is.

MJ says that it is not the best site to look up when you want details and research. But its an undisputed fact that wiki is the most sought after.

And yes I was lucky enough to meet the man who founded it and made it possible for one and all to add on to the online encyclopedia.

Jimmy Wales is in the country to address a few universities on various issues regarding the internet. As he was in Chennai, two of my friends and me caught up with him at an informal get together at dinner. Thanks to Kribs else we would have missed out on the oppurtunity.
Seated at a table for 10, Jimbo sat at the head of the table. There were quite a few biggies from the IT industry along with two other reporters.

Krib's introdruction of us as the Crème a la crème journalism students was quite a boost. It was an overwhelming thought to meet Jimbo (his preferred nick) as we didn't know what we would talk about. But he put us at ease by drawing us into the conversation right away.

Discussing the motivations of why one would want to sign up with wikipedia to the problems of handling edits made by mischief-mongers. We covered most of the wiki ground.

Asked if wiki would soon go the video or audio way, he wasn't too keen on it. Citing reasons like difficulty editing such pieces on the basis of bias and information or even updating an audio/video piece. He said the technology for editing this hadn't been developed. He also said that to add on information it did be difficult.
He wasn't too keen on any content being linked to blogs as a source of information due to various reasons. Or adding a podcast. He said they were still in the nascent stage and wiki had a long way to go for all of that.
He also believed that it is easier for a person to read text while multitasking, than it would be to hear a podcast or watch a video.

When asked what his take on the new google software 'knol' which is alleged to resemble wiki. He said he didn't feel threatened in any way as it was not similar to wiki at all. Would it change the cartel of google search w.r.t wiki? He replied that wiki was a non-profit organisation and it really did not matter.

Discussing the Microsoft-Yahoo! deal, he played safe and said one couldn't really say if it would work or not at this point in time. He did agree that they were two different companies in terms of work culture and all, but one never knows what could happen. He also said that Google was number 1 as a search engine, but Yahoo mail still has many more users to their credit. gmail doesn't. But he also acknoledged that the gap was fast being bridged.

David Appasamy, Communications Manager of Sify, said "The two companies are so disparate, that its tough to merge the two." According to Appasamy, Yahoo! has been on a decline for the past two years and the bid by Microsoft seems to be an act of desperation from their side.

Well, there were many more things that were spoken about, but more of that when am done writing the story with my colleague Bratatee. Shall post the story, so all you people have nothing to worry about.

You will get the inside story along with pictures. :) Till then goodluck and goodnight.

Discrimination against Indians in Mumbai

While Indians were raving and ranting about the discrimination against Bhajji in Down under by the natives, Mumbaikars had to face one too.

The almost riots like situation on Sunday, Feb. 3 - 2008, came as a rude shock to the residents of Mumbai. Especially those who are from North India. It is no longer an issue of being an Indian and a non-Indian. But this has been decentralised and come to the very core of being an Indian.

Raj Thackeray and his party (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) members have created chaos in Mumbai suburbs. Raj Thackeray made controversial comments against north-Indians and Amitabh Bachan is particular. He voiced out his belief that maharashtrians were being discriminated against when it came to jobs and other amenities. The northies seem to be all over Mumbai, making it their 'earning' home, but not accepting it full-heartedly.
This entire fiasco was more of a political propoganda and an attempt to woo the 'true mumbaikars'.

It is an expected thing that when the Big B is bad-mouthedc his extended family, Amar Singh - member of the Samajwadi Party (SP), has to come to his 'adopted' brother's rescue. And this is what happened. Amar Singh too indulged in a verbal spat with Thackeray, turning it into a violent clash between the two parties.

MNS attaked a theatre playing a Bhojpuri film and pelted Big B's house with liqour bottles in the wee hours of monday morning.

Thackeray should be told that what the mumbaikars really want is a state that has amenities to provide like water, efficient drainage systems during the rain, adequate housing amongst a few. Rather than indulging in verbal and violent games.

How does it matter if Big B is building a school in Up, if he is so concerned about the lack of education facilities in Mumbai - why doesn't he build one? But NO that is that the issue that he fought on. For him it was a case of people earning in Mumbai but spending in their home town. He claims they are not 'Mumbaikars' at heart.

What does he have to say about those 'Mumbaikars' who are maharashtrians, but not living in their home-town? They are not supporting the city in any way what so ever. They are spending in the cities/countries that they have adopted as home. Should they be called 'mumbaikars'?? Should they be allowed to come back to Mumbai if they wanted to??

On what basis is Thackeray discriminating against north-Indians? Should the other states too start treating the migrated-mumbaikars the way MNS has? Shall we all ask them to pack up their bags and return to their city?

If we start discriminating on people on the basis of inter-state, then where will India stand in the global community? We were dividing people on the basis of religion and caste. Are we now going to adopt the policy of discriminating against people on the basis of which state they come from?

The combination of caste + religion + inter-state is going to be a lethal one that could cause repercussions far and wide.

I love Laloo Prasad Yadav's response when Thackeray asked the obnoxious question, "Why are the Railways full of Biharis? Are Maharashtrians less able?"

"Localisation will not be tolerated in an era of globalisation!" Laloo retorted.

Yes, I completely agree with Laloo.