Thoughts Sans Boundaries

What’s wrong with Meebo widget?

Posted in technology by Aditya Moorthy on July 27, 2007

I have the Meebo widget on my blog and even if I am online on Meebo it says that I am offline on the blog site. Does anyone else have the same problem? This has been happening for a while now and I thought it might be a temporary glitch. I use Firefox by the way.

Pownce invite finally arrived

Posted in technology by Aditya Moorthy on July 27, 2007

So, I finally get my Pownce invite and my initial reaction is – It’s pretty cool, much cooler than twitter. It is quite simple to use, I would say as simple as Twitter itself. There is no posting by phone or instant messaging which Twitter provides. Maybe it does as I have still not explored it. I like the organised interface. It is better than Twitter. It lets me change my theme for the blog site. The only negative point I see is that scrolling is not smooth as the background is kept static. I don’t know the rationale behind this. So does Twitter but somehow the scrolling is faster in Twitter. Maybe the culprit is the AJAX code (if at all it exists in Pownce). I haven’t explored that either.

Overall, I like it but I am not sure if I would be using both Twitter and Pownce, for that matter I am not sure if I would be using microblogging at all. Maybe while I am only my biking trip 🙂

Here’s my Pownce profile and Twitter’s, not that you are going to find something useful in it!

http://pownce.com/kanmoorthy
http://twitter.com/kanmoorthy

You never know what’s in the bag…

Posted in internet stories, technology by Aditya Moorthy on July 25, 2007

Facebook is facing legal action from ConnectU, which claims that Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea while at Harvard.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6914843.stm 

What is your take about the $100 laptop?

Posted in life, society, technology by Aditya Moorthy on July 24, 2007

The $100 laptop the brain child of Professor Negroponte (OLPC)is ready for mass production. It has come a long way since it was first proposed five years back. I have been sporadically reading about it in the news about the progress. At first when I heard about it, I felt it was a brilliant idea although I wondered why a $100 cap was put to it. The developing and under-developed countries suffer mostly because of lack of education and direction in life in general. Most people don’t have opportunities and worse don’t have opportunities to create opportunities. I know it sounds like a play of words but what I mean is that when a society is given the opportunity for the younger generation to educate themselves then they in-turn create more constructive opportunities for themselves and for others to improve their standard of living and more importantly reduce the violence which is so rampant in these parts of the world.

Professor Negroponte has a very holistic project on his table when he took upon the task of providing education and the laptop is only the means for it and not an end in itself. If the product is as usable as it is claimed then most NGOs and NPOs can come forward to fund its production and distribute them in the remote corners of the world to help children learn. The cost in itself then becomes immaterial since an organisation which supports this cause will surely come forward to fund it even it it going to cost a little more. Currently the cost is at $175 and they are trying to bring it down to $100.

I think it is a great project, what do you think about it?

The thing I like about the Internet community

Posted in musings by Aditya Moorthy on July 24, 2007

It is quite amazing that the people on the Internet, especially the IT technologists have this holistic view of knowledge that they strive to teach to others as much as they know and simultaneously learn as much too. One of the age old Indian system of education has been that the more knowledge it taught to others who are willing to learn, the more ones own understanding improves qualitatively. There is a saying (the translation of course does not do justice to the original saying), when translated says, that the “donation” or giving away knowledge is one of the most supreme kind of “donation” much more supreme that sharing any material wealth. The closest English one would be like, “teach a man to fish rather than give him a fish to satisfy his hunger”.

Traditionally, the concept of control was through control of information and knowledge but it has taken a 180 degree turn and the more one is taught about something the quicker the pace of development is. I am loving it!

This is one of my favourite things about web and Internet.

New neighbourhood…

Posted in home@sg, life, society by Aditya Moorthy on July 20, 2007

I am moving into a new neighbourhood called Hougang. Since I came to Singapore, I have been living in the East Coast area which is most people’s envy. East Coast is self sufficient, it has the beach, a huge variety of cuisines, closer to the airport, great neighbourhood, good connection to the city via the East Coast Parkway highway, nice shopping malls and all the jazz that you look for in a neighbourhood. The only thing it is missing is access to the MRT which is the local train network for commuting and sort of a nerve center for Singapore. I love this place and I am sure I will miss its convenience.

The new place I am moving into is in North East of Singapore and locally it is known as the ‘ghost town’ as traditionally a lot of gang wars took place in this part of the country and the locals still don’t vote to the ruling government which practically has all the seats in the parliament. They seem to be fiercely independent and don’t want to succumb to the carrots dangled by the government. Anyway, the apartment is about ten minutes walk from the MRT station and located in a cozy place next to the Sungai Serangoon ‘river’. The term ‘river’ in Singapore is to be taken with caution as it is not fresh water flowing rivers as we normally associate the term with but back waters of Mallaca Straits. It is stagnant water and until recently it had a very famous foul smell which the residents were putting up with for several years. But now it is cleaned up and at least does not smell anymore. There is a jogging track along the river and a zillion HDB buildings everywhere. HDBs are government built housing complex which only Singapore citizens can buy and sold in a way that there is proportionate racial mix in each build complex.

The apartment we live in is an executive condominium which is an upgrade to the HDB flats but a level below regular condominiums. It is built by HDB and targeted at young wealthy professionals who would like to grow out of HDB lifestyle and move into a condominium infrastructure. This property comes with a swimming pool, a gymnasium and a tennis court. The neighbourhood boasts of nothing that I am used to in East Coast. There is just one shopping mall about 10 minutes walk from my building, next to the MRT. Traveling to the city is now much faster as I can take a train straight to Doby Ghaut, which is pretty much the shopping nerve center of Singapore. Other than these two, I haven’t see anything that appeals to me. Cycling should be good as the roads are wide but I fear that the traffic lights are going to play spoil sport when I am riding.

Overall it is not a bad place but not great either. My commuting time to office it cut down by half which is a major plus point for me but for my brother it still stays the same. I hope to see more of the brighter side in the days to come where I will be trying to re-adjust my lifestyle to this neighbourhood.

I hope not to write too much about the house as that was not the intent of this blog but a post once in a while, will not cause any harm I suppose.

Moving in adventure… almost I’d say

Posted in life by Aditya Moorthy on July 20, 2007

So, finally we moved all our stuff to the new house. The whole packing process was quite draining on me even though I did not do much work as such. I had to put my things in boxes and tape them around. The movers finally came in around noon yesterday and the speed in which they put all the stuff together, bubble wrap fragile stuff and put them all in the truck, was amazing.

They dropped all the boxes in the two extra bedrooms that we have in the new place. One bedroom was completely packed with no space to move around and some of the immediate necessity was put in the second room where we planned to sleep for the night. We had space just nice for the mattress and after shoving all the things in the other room including our bicycle, we finally managed to catch some sleep around midnight.

Yesterday, we copied the keys of the bedroom since we wanted to lock them up during the day so that the contractors can work during the day in rest of the house. The main door is locked with a padlock for which the contractors have the key so they can let themselves in and I wanted to make a copy so that I can enter and leave at will. My bother already has one. So, the adventure begins here. We copied two keys and came home around 10.00 PM and found that the main door padlock key that was duplicated was the wrong one. So we are still left with one key to the main door and that is with my brother. We decided that he will retain it and I will just take all my stuff in the morning and lock the bedrooms as all the things are in there and leave without locking the main door. A minor risk but given Singapore’s safety standards, we didn’t mind taking it.

I had a fitful sleep being new place and the air conditioner was blasting sub-zero air which kept me freezing most of the night. I woke up in the morning and I realised that I don’t have my toothbrush and shaving kit and they are locked up in some boxes which I have no idea of. I didn’t have any shower gel but luckily my brother had one and I managed to wash myself up. My clothes were crumpled in the shifting and I had to iron them. The iron box was buried deep in one of the boxes and I had to dig it out and iron the clothes in the morning.

Finally I managed to get out of the house and reach office albeit about 30 minutes late, unshaven, without my belt as I still don’t know where it is and hungry, had nothing for dinner except an ice cream. But all is well and I think it was a memorable experience as my new neighbour quipped when I was telling him how tiring it can be to move houses. The good thing about the new house which I am already enjoying is that my travel time has been reduced by 30 minutes one way, which means that I save about an hour each day traveling. So, more time available for running and biking which I hope begins today!

Caught in the Google’s view of the web

Posted in life, musings, technology by Aditya Moorthy on July 17, 2007

The title borrowed from the statement made by a friend of mine. Well, the background is that my friend who made this statement is German and apparently he has been building a house for his family. Recently the roof of his house started to vibrate during heavy winds and later found that the concrete mixture used to build it was not correct and it had to be re-built. So he is moving out of the house now to live in a hotel for few days before the roof could be repaired. Obviously this is quite a discomfort given that he also has a toddler to take care of. To ease his position a bit, I told him that there is an Indian proverb (used in my native tongue) which effectively says that when you start a project and have numerous problems in the beginning, then the later part of the project life would be much as ease. This arises out of the belief that more problems you face in the beginning then more incorrect things are set right at the beginning itself, leading to a much smoother sailing later. Of course you can philosophically apply this to life itself. The more you struggle in the younger days, the middle and older days will be relatively at peace.

He asked me for the source of the proverb and a link on the Internet. I was searching for it and got a mail from him that he is looking at the Wikiquote for Indian Proverbs while I was doing the same thing. When I told him that I was doing the same thing, he came up with this comment that we are caught in the Google’s view of the web.

How true! For me increasingly the gateway to Internet has become Google. Even if I know the URL of a site, I sometimes type the keyword of the site on Google toolbar and then click the first link that props up, which invariably is the right link. Isn’t amazing that we have become so reliant on Google and potentially Google can skew our views just by being a gatekeeper of the Internet? Thank goodness that their motto is ‘do no evil’ or are they really sticking to it…

Moving week

Posted in home@sg by Aditya Moorthy on July 16, 2007

Finally we got the house registered that me and my brother bought in the NE of Singapore. It was quite a nice feeling that you own a house though both of us look at it more like a launching pad for our wild dreams – dreams of traveling around the world in a bicycle. But more of it later.

The house or rather the apartment is part of what is known in Singapore as Executive Condominium which is condo’s built by the government housing development board. Foreigners are not eligible to buy it new and and they can only buy it after the first 5 years of occupancy. We found a decent unit in the north east of Singapore and it comes with a common swimming pool, gymnasium and a tennis court. The neighbourhoood is calm, although the residents warn us that there is quite a bit of traffic jam during the peak hours. The MRT (which is the train system in Singapore for commuting) is about 10 minutes walk from the unit and it takes me a 25 minute train ride to reach my office. We have started packing stuff and should be moving in within the end of this week. Tons of work are still pending there, patch up the nail holes in the wall, painting etc. But they should all be done in the next 2-3 weeks.

I will try to post some pictures of the house before renovation.

Did Spock got spocked?

Posted in technology by Aditya Moorthy on July 12, 2007

He he, Robert wrote about the new personal search engine Spock and lo! the site goes down with a zillion hits.

spocksitedown.jpg

Is the Pownce website down?

Posted in technology by Aditya Moorthy on July 8, 2007

It is 11.53 PM in Singapore (GMT +8). The Pownce website seems to be down for some reason. I don’t have an account and wanted to check if there was any update about new sign ons and lo! the homepage is inaccessible.

Does anyone else have the same problem?

Do you have the same problem with Twitter?

Posted in technology by Aditya Moorthy on July 8, 2007

I just signed up for twitter and found an annoying thing with the website. Every page I visit, I get a warning message that should the browser display both the secure and non-secure content?

Can’t the Twitter developers do something about it? Most people use browsers with default settings and it can be quite annoying to click “yes” to every page you visit.

Weary weekend

Posted in life, musings by Aditya Moorthy on July 8, 2007

It’s been an tiring and emotionally draining weekend for me. I don’t want to get into the details but the process of going through such emotions gives you the ability (or rather opportunity) to put life in perspective and make assessment of various aspects of the life. This is a chance where you can take a pen and paper and list things in order to find out what the issues are and how you can deal with it. It is easier said than done as I am currently going through it, I can imagine how hard it is to objectively put everything down including one’s own deficiencies and face it with total humility. It is very hard to the point that it becomes impossible. The mind is completely blocked with the issues that you can think no further. It is like getting caught in a quagmire and you have negative energy left to fight it. The more you fight, you seem to go deeper into the quagmire. The sinking feeling makes you worse as it seems that even though you are doing everything humanly possible, the very same effort seems to sink you more.

But having said that, the solution is not to get weary. I am writing this being still in the quagmire and I can assure you that I haven’t still implemented any of the things that I am writing about. I am hoping that writing this down at least gives me an opportunity to keep the manual in front of me and reflect and hopefully get out of the quagmire. The helplessness in dealing with issues with life is because we get confused when we face a situation that stands like a mountain in front of us and we have a small chisel to bore a hole through the mountain and get across the obstacle. Rationality tells you that you are never going to make it with that chisel in hand. On the other hand, the problem is none other than oneself. The mountain is an obstable that you create in your mind and give it shape and size. We somehow deep inside want the problem to be big and face with the helpless situation. I can’t explain why, but I have great confidence that this is true. If I am wrong, you tell me.

Now when we recognise that the problem is our own mind, then it should be easy, since you can simply snap out of that mode and put the problem outside of you and have a different perspective to it. The moment you do that, you realise that the mountain is no longer a mountain but a small pebble that you can easily kick it out of your way. The difficult part of it is taking the problem out of you and putting it in front and treat it as a different entity, separate from you, and you are an observer. Great minds will be able to do it easily, but most of us are not. I am for sure not but I strive to be there. I must reiterate here that the problems that I am talking about here are more mental rather than problems created by the environment. Things like a flood or an earthquake cannot be solved like this although this process can play a small role in addressing such issues as well. I have been fortunate to have met and known people who have the capability to view their problems dispassionately with no emotions or baggage attached to it. I am like that in most cases, but being human, I am confounded with certain issues whereby my ability to view it dispassionately fails badly. This is such an occasion.

I am going to work on it and I am sure I will figure out a way.

Landmark photos of this century

Posted in photography by Aditya Moorthy on July 6, 2007

A good collection of some of the landmark photos of this century.

http://pinguy.infogami.com/blog/vwm6

A nice animation work…

Posted in creative, internet stories, technology by Aditya Moorthy on July 6, 2007

This is a really nice flash animation work. Check it out.

http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/34244097/

By the way, if you are looking for a creative artists community where you can see different artist’s works then deviantART is quite an interesting one to spend some time on.

Meet ego

Posted in life, musings by Aditya Moorthy on July 6, 2007

I was having coffee and chatting with a friend of mine when we hit upon a great browser toolbar application and we talked about how we can start a company together. I then quickly suggested that the name of the Internet domain to be the last name of mine and his. Immediately after I said that it struck me that I put my name first before his and not the other way around. Not that there was anything wrong but I was musing on the fact that how our thoughts revolve around us being in the center of everything we think and do. However minuscule the manifestation might be but the ego still persists. Some argue that a measured quantity of ego is in fact a necessary evil as otherwise we might lose our self-identity and respect which we owe ourselves, if we were to perceive everything while putting others first instead of us. Of course there are pros and cons to this argument but the problem is where the measured quantity stops. Who gets to decide how much minimum ego a person should have, beyond which it displays its ugly tentacles.

In any case, it was an interesting mind journey that I took musing about ego. By the way, he also pointed out that there is a German proverb which many use quite commonly in Germany and it goes like this – “Der Esel nennt sich immer zuerst”. It literally translated means that the donkeys always names itself first!

Tell me your view points on ego.

A UI design mistake by Nokia?

Posted in technology by Aditya Moorthy on July 6, 2007

I have been using mobile phones for the last 10 odd years and have used a number of different phones and always found that Nokia’s software and its UI design to be spectacular, until now of course, as iPhone has been launched. Recently I got the Nokia E65 and I think it is a pretty decent productivity phone.

The one thing I find of late to be quite annoying is the way you lock the keypad. The phone automatically gives you the option to lock the keypad when you close the slider and you can choose yes or no. But if you fail to respond for a few seconds, the option disappears and the only way (that I know so far) to lock it is to click the power button on the top which gives you options to switch off the phone, lock the keypad or change your profile settings. The annoying thing is that the switch off option is the first and while you navigate to the second option to lock keypad if you press the middle button (the big select button) on the phone, it selects the first option and switches off the phone. I wonder why the designers did not consider the fact that most people hold the power button for a couple of seconds to switch off as that has become a common knowledge. Very few people look for option to switch off by pressing the power button once.

As the navigation buttons on the key are close to each other it is quite easy to make the mistake of choosing the middle button and bang the phone is shutdown. I would say that the option to lock the keypad should be first or somewhere in the middle after the profile options as most go to that menu to quickly change profile from loud to silent. The switch off option should have been the last.

Nokia, can you do something about it?

Where do you stand?

Posted in Uncategorized by Aditya Moorthy on July 6, 2007

Can you try this and tell me what was your score? I just found that my pizazz is better than a raw potato.

http://home.iprimus.com.au/siegloff/clark/flotsam/other/creativity_quotient.html

Priorities

Posted in life by Aditya Moorthy on July 6, 2007

I was on my way home and in the train I was thinking what could make one’s life simpler, happier and contented. I can image what you are thinking after reading this line, that there is no one single solution to this requirement, that these states are a perception and not tangible reality etc etc.

But we all in some sense seek them in our life. We want our life to be simple, happier and contented among other things. Let’s for a moment set aside the argument that these are mental states and they morph depending on the environment and situation. To explain this better, a person trying to summit a difficult mountain is not thinking about simplification of life, happiness or contention but his mind is completely occupied by the sole aim to reach the summit. But doesn’t reaching the summit give him the satisfaction which in turn results in one or more of these states? Let’s also take into account that there is no single solution which yields these results. Having given credit to these and other doubts that you might bring up given my first statement, I now propose one way by which we could give a shot at achieving these. The magic formula that I propose is Priorities.

I come from a very traditional background with a significant ‘baggage’ of tradition and culture in my formative years. My culture has a very fuzzy way of answering life’s conundurms. It never offers a clear path (or answer) to address the situations in life which baffles us most of the time. The solutions are very nebulous, open for argument and not conclusive. So it is left to the interpretation of the listener and the choices he or she makes. It is in direct contrast to the western philosophy which is precise, logical, assumption-less and mostly limited only to the problem at hand. As I grew up and had the opportunities to compare and contrast the two perspectives on a given problem, it started to dawn on me that neither is right or wrong. Now, many of you can quite quickly come back and tell me that this is not rocket science as no path is absolute and in fact the concept of absolute is in itself debatable. I agree, but do put this in perspective when I tell you that it ‘dawned’ on me. First I was very young when I realised this and I come with a belief system that encourages and coaxes me to accept that the path laid out in front of me is absolute and the only way to lead a life. So it is indeed quite a feeling when I realised that everything is up for debate and nothing is in fact the total truth.

Along my path of learning (which I am still in), I took all possible effort to try to understand the different perspectives and make sense of it and figure what applies best given a specific situation. Among the possible answers, I realise that making priorities in life can first simply it, offer happiness when the simple life objectives are achieved and provides a sense of contention. Now how does this help? Simple, I apply a certain dimension of western philosophy. Make a list of things that are currently important for you and which you think is important to achieve. This is not nebulous since what you are currently doing is obviously important for you. Like your job, your education, relationship, etc. Thinking about the future is always very hard as everything about it uncertain. So, the easiest thing to do is to simply take what you are doing NOW. Let’s take for example you just finished your education and starting a new job. Now, it is obvious that the job is important for you as if it is not, you would be doing something else. Having taken job as one of the priorities, look again and see what else you are doing. Maybe you are engaged with one of the local social organisation about keeping the environment clean. Why you put that in your list of priorities – because you are doing it and you are doing it because you like it and you like it so it is important enough to be put in the priority list. So, keep adding all the things you are currently doing. You might be doing somethings which you may be forced to do, like for example you are forced to organise a picnic for your office colleagues which you have no interest in doing it. The question now is do I put it in the priority list or not. How do you decide? Simple, look at the reason which prompted you to take up the responsibility – the answer could be that doing it gives you better leverage among your peer group and puts you in prominence or you are doing it becuase no one else is doing it etc. Once you find out the reason for this, then the solution is quite easy, does it have a bearing on any other things that you are currently doing and will it affect those things in the existing priority list. If the answer is yes, then put this in your priority list as well. If the answer is no, then simply don’t bother and ignore it.

Once you have this priority list, the next is just obvious – what is the most important among them. Put that in the top of the list. Put the second most important next to it and so on. There you have your life’s priority list! Now how does this give you the stated objectives viz., simplicity, happiness and contention. This is the tricky part. In order to achieve the stated objectives, it requires you to do a very important thing – ACT.

Act on it. It is simple to read and assimilate, but don’t take it that way. It is not. Action is one of the most complex part of any problem because it not only requires you to move your butt off the couch and do something but it also involves gazillion variables that you have no control over. If you are studying and that is on the top of your list and you are willing to put the necessary hard work to perform better and you find that the book you need to prepare for the exam is not available. Now such variables can throw a spanner in your works. But even before you hit those external road blocks, the key thing here is to ACT. That way you clear one of the biggest road block – YOU.

One may never achieve the said objectives in the priority list even with all the above steps, but the simplicity of the priority list is such that you still achieve the life’s goals – being simple, happy and contented. How? Because you removed the single most difficult variable – which is you. You now know that you can act and you know you gave your best shot and you know within yourself that you left no stones unturned. This in my opinion gives you the greatest happiness and contention and the process of perceiving life this way makes it very very simple.

Kalpesh Lathigra’s striking pictures

Posted in life, society by Aditya Moorthy on July 5, 2007

I am feeling better today after yesterday’s bout of sudden weariness. I still haven’t quite figured how to deal with an emotional side of myself if that was the reason for weariness. But as I said, I am a learner and I am sure I will learn eventually.

maintains a blog where he refers and writes about other photographers whose works affect him. Recently he wrote about Kalpesh Lathigra, a photographer from London and I was going through his project titled “Brides of Krishna” where he photographed the widows from India in the state of West Bengal. It immediately struck a chord in me about my own experience about meeting such people. In fact I remember one of my relative who became a widow when she was very young went through the same ordeal and lived all her like with a stigma that she is a widow and shunned by the society.

Brides of Krishna by Kalpesh Lathigra

I can come to terms with things that might seem ridiculous to the West about certain traditions and practices in the East which defies their logic. I have grown up here and I can empathise with the culture and tradition that old cultures have several practices which does not make sense in today’s context even though it defies logic because of the simple fact that everything is very very old. It is so old that couple hundred years ago would sound like just the previous generation to many simply because that several other things that are used in context as benchmarks are several hundred years old. Most Western people will find it hard to assimilate this simply because their “civilisation” is very young when compared to that of India and China. So to bring about change in an environment like in the East is not a simple task. If we start to make effort to change the minds of people and consistently persist, we would achieve some success in couple of generations. But if you take the West for example, a few years of persistence is enough to get the people to see the reason and change their attitudes and behaviour. USA did not let women to vote until the 1940s and once the legislation was passed for them to be eligible to vote, in 40-50 years we see a phenomenal amount of empowerment of women and the entire attitude of the populace has changed so completely that we see no trace of such behaviour that was in existence just 40 years ago. Such a change would be nearly impossible to achieve in the East due to the entrenchment of culture and tradition that goes back several hundred years and even more than couple of thousand years in many cases.

Having said that, the question of why widows were treated like that in the past – there can be no convincing answer which can seem reasonable today. What I could think of is, maybe the level of social security that we have today was not present in the past and the justice system was also questionable in a male dominated society. So in order to protect women’s modesty and from other forms of physical abuse especially if she is a single woman (widow in this case) it would be easier if she does not look attractive. So, shaving her head and making her wear unattractive clothing would deter malicious men from taking advantage of a weak, unprotected women. Also attaching the stigma that she has sinned and hence her husband has passed away will also deter such men who, afraid that her “unluckiness” would affect them as well, will not attempt to have any physical relationship or abuse her physically. There could have been several reason why this practice was initiated and allowed to evolve. None justifiable today.

What struck me is that such women spend their entire life in humiliation. I cannot even begin to fathom the level of mental agony a person would go through, who has been forced to shave the head, wear clothing that is not fit to be called clothing, undergo social stigma and stares and and horrible comments from public, in many cases beg for food and live in charitable institutions when they have a thriving family. The images by Kalpesh evoke a significant amount of such feelings in me and my own interactions with such people who have gone through this. He has captured their life in the most striking way that is possible through photography. People who have met such widows and interacted with them would be able to feel it much more than a casual observer of the photograph for whom it is just another social issue that needs to be brought into limelight.