Monday, June 24, 2013

~ Coolest QR code usage ~

Probably one of the best job advt which tests the skill set and also a good way to promote QR.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

~ Supermoon ~

I couldn't capture the moon rise last evening. As I witnessed the hide n seek  between moon & clouds, following are some of the photos taken at 9 pm. 

Hope to catch today's moon rise. Wish Bangalore sky would be clear enough ;)

{Click the photograph to view full screen}

Saturday, June 22, 2013

~ Quote Unquote ~

~ The majority is always right until they are proved wrong; while the minority is always wrong until they are proved right ~

~ Your own rules go for a holiday while on a holiday ~

The above thoughts came into existence from the just concluded road trip to Goa ;)

~ Back to future ~

The project titled 'Back to Future' started by Argentina photographer Irina Werning is an interesting one. The concept is simple, shoot a portrait of person by recreating the portrait from a past photograph. Take a look at this short documentary to know what I mean ;)

H/T: The Atlantic

Friday, June 21, 2013

~ Our own doing ~

This week we saw nature's fury at Kedarnath, Uttarakhand. According to the CAG report tabled in April, the state lacks an effective disaster management system to tackle such disasters.

~ Kedarnath Temple 1953 ~

~ Kedarnath Temple 19 June 2013 ~

I feel this highlights how we Indians approach life & live. Most of us, live by reactions than pro-actions. Instead of addressing problem in an holistic manner, we tend to wake &  fire-fight only when we have disasters on our hands. 

Samarth Mungali, CEO of TadpoleStore, has a very thoughtful post on the disaster.
"…People driven by greed and not need, started plundering their own land. A land which was their existence. 
All this while nature coped, but there’s a limit to tolerance. It’s natural. What was done had to be restored. And thus in a frame of minutes nature took the matter in it’s own hands and cleaned the slate that we had made dirty with our scribbling.
What has happened is a message from nature to stop, to amend. We have been wrong and it is we who are to correct. 
I sincerely hope that in the pretext of redevelopment of the devastated, the same mistakes are not done again. Where the structures have been erased, none should come again. It might sound uncommercial but then…"
Anand Sankar has an interesting post as well.
The devastation caused by Monsoon 2013 in Uttarakhand and to a lesser extent in Himachal Pradesh has been predictably covered by television studios based out of New Delhi. This flood has literally flowed into the lap of the television news media, who can feed their half-baked drivel to people across the country who are anxiously tuning in to get some titbits of information about loved ones trapped in the mountains. While there has been a lot of clamour for a speedy rescue effort, it sorely misses the point when it comes to ground reality. This is another incident which will go down in the history of disasters in India, as one that could have been prevented. 
Do read the 5 points which Anand makes.

As the Media & Desktop-activist, would now go on dissecting at length as to what went wrong; who could be held accountable for this; how it could have been avoided; Atheists asking the very presence of God; et al.  It is very much our own doing.

Instead of developing State units for handling any emergency events, we seem to be always banking on our Armed Forces. My salutations to the men & women of Armed Forces who have always ready for any contingency at any part of the country.

Photographs source: TadpoleStore blog.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

~ Climate change vs Population growth vs Wealth distribution ~

Next time someone tells you developing nations are the cause for climate change, do ask them to watch the simple LEGO explanation given by the Data Scientist, Hans Rosling. He also speaks about the underlying connection between wealth distribution, population growth, child mortality & climate impact in very simple terms.

If only data could lie ;)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

~ In the end, GTD is what matters ~

Phil Schiller, during the keynote, might have said that “Can’t innovate anymore, my ass”. But we all know some of the features showcased in the keynote of iOS7 is already available on Android or other mobile platforms. The feature lists offered by the operating systems - Android, iOS, Windows - overlap and with each iteration they are getting blurred across the product. Only thing we are witnessing is the new found love for *flat* UX from every major software company - Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Apple, Facebook, Pintrest.

We have to come to terms, that like any other product the smartphones or their OS, have reached a saturation point. I feel with iOS7, Apple might not have invented anything new, but refined the UX with Ivey touch. In design lingo, people have been using the term *Transluency* for describing the new interface.

I wouldn't go into comparison of the feature set with Android or Windows, as we already have many sites or blogs which have spun out that info in the last 8 hours {Check the additional reading section}. Nor I am qualified enough to comment on the design aesthetics of iOS7. Om has a good collection of tweets & thoughts from the design community, with both sides of the coin covered - iOS 7: Love it? Hate it? Either way, designers are talking about it.

The soldiers from the Android army state that the iOS7 features are strikingly similar to that of current Android version. While the Windows Users state that iOS7 has taken a leaf out of Windows UX. In the end, a product or a service is just a means of GTD easily. We might like different products or services based on our allegiance to a design or company or brand or experience. For me the following criteria play a role in choosing a product / service - Cost, Features, Ease of use / Simplicity, Design - software & hardware, How often they iterate their software / hardware, Quality Support. Fanatics can take a break & watch the competition deliver better products or service for Consumers :)

Loved the latest campaign by Apple.

Additional reading

Sunday, June 09, 2013

~ Indian Memories ~

Came across this unique project from Anusha Yadav called Indian Memory Project.
It is an online, curated, visual and oral-history based archive that traces a personal history of the Indian Subcontinent, its people, cultures, professions, cities, development, traditions, circumstances and their consequences. Applying images, letters and stories from family archives (sent and collected from contributors), it reconstructs a visual history that is emotionally rich, vivid, informative and even more surprising than we think.

I enjoyed reading the story of Sir Mohinder DhillonSome great untold stories of Indian History can be read on the project website

Saturday, June 08, 2013

~ Internet Minute ~

Staggering amount of data init? The next BIG thing would be to have "Good" curators {People or Algorithms} which can sieve the enormous amount of data & recommend more meaningful content. That way one can differentiate the Noise from Signal ;)

Friday, June 07, 2013

~ Quote: Honor ~

~ Never forget that honor, like character, is what you do when nobody is looking | Obama ~

Via Explore

~ Don't be evil ~

'Don't be evil' is a phrase which is associated with the search giant, Google. The same can be found in Code of Conduct section of the Corporate Governance. Many of them across the world use Google for more than just Search. With the explosion of Android platform Google has got a foot hold into the millions of devices in our day-to-day usage. Even though they claim that they do not track individual behaviours. We will never know how the scheme of things work with companies. 

After the advent of various Social Networks, people are broadcasting their lives constantly throughout the day via various digital avatars freely than ever before. The platforms are competing for User Engagement by innovating their UX or providing unlimited data for photos & videos. Anything free drives many users to use such services. While the companies are looking to maximize profits based on user activity on their sites, the Governments have other motives. The Govts would like people to use such services as we are now beginning to see that they want to mine the data.

Governments' defense for snooping would be protecting national interests & securing the country. Governments across the world have been making requests to many companies to comply with law of the land to share data on need per basis. You can see how Google complies with various requests from Governments across the world in their Transparency Report. While Google & Facebook have been forced to remove content from their sites in India last year. 

While people in the US were shocked by revelations that US Govt is collecting phone records of many Americans who are customers of Verizon. You can read the Verizon Court Order.

Later in the day NSA's PRISM program was exposed, all of us need to concerned about our digital privacy. 

Washington Post explain how NSA uses PRISM for data collection or mining from the Servers of 9 Major Internet companies.

Another article from Washington Post covers the whole thing in more detailed manner.
The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.
Equally unusual is the way the NSA extracts what it wants, according to the document: “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”
Guess what most of the companies who are listed as Service Providers for the PRISM program have to say. They have flatly denied what is seen on the NSA presentation slides. Isn't that obvious that they would deny it? :P
The eavesdropping program is detailed in the form of PowerPoint slides in a leaked NSA document, seen and authenticated by the Guardian, which states that it is based on "legally-compelled collection" but operates with the "assistance of communications providers in the US."
Each of the 41 slides in the document displays prominently the corporate logos of the tech companies claimed to be taking part in PRISM.
However, senior executives from the internet companies expressed surprise and shock and insisted that no direct access to servers had been offered to any government agency.
You can read more about the denial from the tech giants on Guardian.

If you ask, When & What data has been collected? Source
Some of the world's largest internet brands are claimed to be part of the information-sharing program since its introduction in 2007. Microsoft – which is currently running an advertising campaign with the slogan "Your privacy is our priority" – was the first, with collection beginning in December 2007.
It was followed by Yahoo in 2008; Google, Facebook and PalTalk in 2009; YouTube in 2010; Skype and AOL in 2011; and finally Apple, which joined the program in 2012. The program is continuing to expand, with other providers due to come online.
Collectively, the companies cover the vast majority of online email, search, video and communications networks. 
Indian Govt isn't far behind in developing a system which lets them snoop on their citizens either. Off-late have come across online campaigns on various social networks against ICMS.

What is ICMS?

Indian Central Monitoring System(ICMS) is being implemented by the Government of India(GoI) this year. GoI started implementation from April 2013.

What does ICMS cover?

For now, it will be linked to the Telephone Call Interception System (TCIS) setup to monitor voice calls, SMS and MMS, GPRS, Fax Communications on landlines, CDMA, GSM and 3G networks, and video calls. 

You can read & support the STOP ICMS campaign here

We would like to believe that we live in a Democratic setup where freedom is the beacon. After discovering that such programs exist for monitoring people, all in the name of providing national security. I wonder how different are we - Indians or Americans - from the Chinese. Democracy is just another sugar coated pill which we would like to believe offers something better for "We the People".

Huffington post has a George W. Obama ;)

Update 7 June 2013

We now have statements from the CEOs of Google & Facebook on the PRISM. Who is speaking the truth, NSA's presentation showcase the companies who have joined against the passage of time or those who run these Companies?

Here is the response from Larry Page:
First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to our servers. Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a “back door” to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday.
Here is the response from Mark Zuckerberg:
Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access to our servers. We have never received a blanket request or court order from any government agency asking for information or metadata in bulk, like the one Verizon reportedly received. And if we did, we would fight it aggressively. We hadn't even heard of PRISM before yesterday. 
Additional reading

Media coverage about the ICMS here: The Verge | The Register | Human Rights Watch. I do not see any Indian Media covering this or are we caught up in the IPL hole ignoring this? ;)

More about PRISM here:  EFF | Guardian | Guardian | WashingtonPost | WashingtonPost 

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

~ Viral marketing comes at a price ~

I know companies spend loads of money on advertising & marketing their product. Advertisements are one of *the* mainstream ways to promote. However, these days videos are created more for Viral Factor on the Social Networks.

Today morning, I came across the video on FB wall. No doubt the video is well edited by Pro Cycle to showcase their product. 

Not sure why they had to put an off-road bike {not bicycle, I mean Motor Bike} in the video. Another aspect which I disliked, was the need/necessity to show the location info at the start. 

People in the city already lack in conserving nature - parks, lakes, trees, wildlife - in and around Bangalore. While the city is ever-expanding & many prominent builders are exploiting open spaces with new Villa / Townships offering; add to it, people are always on look out for adventure & exploring new avenues to kill their time. I wonder what impact it would have on Thurahalli forest if people took their Motor Bikes to explore the eco-space.
ProCycle is bicycle store with a “difference” that is committed to promoting bicycling in a “Correct” manner. You will experience our commitment and feel this difference the moment you walk into our store at Indiranagar
Thats the introduction about ProCycle on their website. While they state their committed to promote bicycling in a *Correct* manner. I hope they live up to every word. 

I googled & guess what I found, not to be surprised, exploitation of Turahalli   has already begun with illegal temple :(

“Turahalli is the last remaining wilderness space so close to South Bangalore. Everyone in the adventure community, be it climbers, walkers, birdwatchers or cyclists, have a responsibility to keep the forests as they are, and leave minimum impact. The same responsibility does not seem to hold good with temple constructions and the like,” adds Venkatesh, alias Venky. More here
Therefore, viral marketing comes at a price. The price could be monetary at times; And in this case ecology, which could be irreversible

Yes, they already got my attention & a post. I hope people of the city enjoy & conserve what is left in and around Bangalore.

Monday, June 03, 2013

~ Love, no matter what ~

While love is eternal; acceptance takes time. Andrew Solomon talks about what he learnt from his project & field work. He unfolds the answer to the question,"What's the line between unconditional love and unconditional acceptance?"

Saturday, June 01, 2013

~ Mandolin Magic ~

Thanks to AIR Amrutha Varshini - 100.1 FM Bangalore discovered another awesome musician - Ustad Nisar Ahmed. Some amazing riffs I have heard on Mandolin. Enjoyed two beautiful Ragas:
  1. Raga Hari Kauns
  2. Raga Darbari Kanda

Enjoy the music @ Music India Online; here is the album