Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Persuaders

Douglas Rushkoff had an eye opener of a documentary on how crafty marketing has become, this article on viral marketing is just as revealing - it shows how the pros game Youtube.

"The members of my startup are hired guns – our clients give us videos and we make them go viral. Our rule of thumb is that if we don’t get a video 100,000 views, we don’t charge." -Dan Ackerman Greenberg

It must be an awesome feeling to pull off a viral video successfully. A fellow forum goon achieved e-fame by posting with a prank video about recharging iPods with onions, getting fellow forum mates to downvote negative comments, and using Digg to provide the initial surge. He's got more than 4 million views so far.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Shoaib Chucker

Freaks make good bowlers - Mutthaiah Muralidharan who can't straighten his arm is the second greatest wicket taker, while Shoaib Akhtar's slingshot action gets him to 150 kmph.

Michael Holding compares two contemporary bowlers with hyperextensible arms - RP Singh and Shoaib Akhtar. There's a definite sideways bending of arm to Shoaib's action, as shown in this slow-mo replay. Having that kind of flexibility must add a few yards of pace, and also fuck with the batsman's muscle memory, to have the ball come out a little differently.

Also, does anyone remember Afridi's fast ball? I swear that was an out-and-out chuck and it always pissed me that nobody ever called him on it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Neal Stephenson saw this coming back in 1995 when he wrote The Diamond Age - a cypherpunk tale of how technology empowers. It's the story of a very special book, an adaptive, interactive toolkit that educates the user in all manners of survival and leadership skills, and crafts a young proletarian girl who accidentally receives one, into a badass who changes the world order.

Any bets on what quantum effect the XO will have on humanity twenty years from now?
If you're living in the US or Canada, they've got a give-one-get-one offer going. Which sucks, because I can't get one. I really really fancy a laptop that has low battery requirements and is rugged. I could sling it on my backpack when I'm out trekking.

This laptop is the greatest thing that you can give to a bunch of growing kids. Kids are amazing with technology; their curiosity is boundless, and they're highly collaborative. A pilot program in India shows the speed at which illiterate kids figured things out.

To test his ideas, Mitra 13 months ago launched
something he calls "the hole in the wall experiment."
He took a PC connected to a high-speed data connection
and imbedded it in a concrete wall next to NIIT's
headquarters in the south end of New Delhi. The wall
separates the company's grounds from a garbage-strewn
empty lot used by the poor as a public bathroom. Mitra
simply left the computer on, connected to the
Internet, and allowed any passerby to play with it. He
monitored activity on the PC using a remote computer
and a video camera mounted in a nearby tree.

What he discovered was that the most avid users of the
machine were ghetto kids aged 6 to 12, most of whom
have only the most rudimentary education and little
knowledge of English. Yet within days, the kids had
taught themselves to draw on the computer and to
browse the Net. Some of the other things they learned,
Mitra says, astonished him.

"They would surf the Web -- is very popular
with them because they like games. And they would use
[Microsoft] Paint. It's very, very popular with all of
them. Because these are deprived children who do not
have easy access to paper and paint. Every child likes
to paint, so they would do it with that program.
However, that's all they could do. So I intervened,
and I played an MP3 [digital-music file] for them.
They were astonished to hear music come out of the
computer for the first time. They said, "Oh, does it
work like a TV or radio?" I said, in keeping with my
approach, "Well, I know how to get there but I don't
know how it works." Then I [left].

As I would have expected, seven days later they could
have taught me a few things about MP3. They had
discovered what MP3 was, downloaded free players, and
were playing their favorite songs. As usual, they
didn't know what any of it was called. But they would
say, "if you take this little box, and you drag this
file into this box, it plays music." They had found
out where all the Hindi music was on the Web and had
pulled it out."

Coming back to the XO, I must say, it's a freaking piece of work. This review has me very excited.

The Khairat Chronicles are very sweet.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The concept of human rights and freedom of expression is alien to India

Is anyone pained by the recent zealotry in India? It seems like mobs of people want to wave placards and burn effigies for the smallest of provocations: the defacing of a statue, televised inter-religious marriage, Salman Rushdie being knighted, Shilpa Shetty being slagged in Big Brother, Shilpa Shetty being kissed by Richard Gere, and so on.

But it's not just the people who are acting like total cocks, and I'm not gonna bitch about a failing government that hasn't the balls or the brains to get a fair nuclear deal, but Google goddammit.

This story strikes as especially unfair because Lakshmana Kailash was innocent.

Lakshmana was charged under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code for a deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings, and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act for publishing ‘lascivious’ material or material that ‘appeals to the prurient interest’.

Why aren't we taking offense to the fact that these laws are irrational and stupid?

Publishing of information which is obscene in electronic form
Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstance, to read see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees and in the event of a second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and also with fine which may extend to two lakh rupees.

And what can we as citizens of the "largest democracy
" do to change this?

Monday, November 05, 2007

True Love - and the antidote.

I got this off a forward today, just spreading the love.

It was a gloomy Saturday afternoon. A flock of birds was spending great time searching for food and playing on the main road. Out of the sudden, a big truck sped through... sad thing had happened again.
__Friends - Kingdom__
Birds can feel too. Although this bird had already died, another bird flew over to her immediately, just like a family member, unable to accept the truth.

__Friends - Kingdom__
Not long after that, another car stormed in causing the dead bird's body to whirl with the wind. The spouse noticed the movement. As if she was still alive, he quickly flew beside her again.

__Friends - Kingdom__
He stayed beside her and yelled ... "WHY ARE YOU NOT GETTING UP!?"

__Friends - Kingdom__
Unfortunately, she's no longer able to hear him. In the meantime, he's trying to lift her up.

__Friends - Kingdom__
He, of course, was unable to bear the burden. Another car soon passed by. He quickly flew off. Once the car had gone, he came down again.

__Friends - Kingdom__
Although other birds told him its useles, he never gave up. He was trying his best to lift her up to see her flying again. Another car passed by, her dead body whirled again as if still alive and trying to fly.

__Friends - Kingdom__
He had used all of his energy, however...The photographer said he couldn't shoot any longer. The photographer was so worried that the living bird was going to get hurt by passing cars. So he picked up the dead bird and left it at the roadside. The live one still lingered at a nearby tree as if crying with his singing and refused to leave.
Do humans have the same feelings nowadays? I wonder.

Okay, all weepy now? Life got you down? Hear this man out.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Mumbai Unplugged

How ineffectual can you get?

Mumbai Unplug requests the people of Mumbai to switch off lights and electrical appliances for one hour on the 15th of December 2007 (Saturday), from 7.30 pm to 8.30 pm in the evening.

Just one goddamn hour? Most of India has daily powercuts for periods longer than that. In a country where Gandhi fasted for weeks at a time, this is a new low.

I bet some prick will pull out his guitar at one of these candle sessions, may I suggest this song, keeping with the global warming theme?