Thursday, April 26, 2007

Don't waste Food. Period.

Well, I don't have a nice topic right now to discuss about. But I cannot stop noticing one thing, particularly in US - 'WASTE OF FOOD'.

Why do it? I have discussed this thing often with my friend Zalak, and it's annoying when you know how many countries (not just people) suffer from hunger and famine. It has been continued for so long that the units of measurement have changed. We don't say 1 million people are starving, because as a matter of fact, a couple of countries face this calamity. And not for some months, or one or two seasons - for YEARS. Our units are getting bigger and bigger. It may sound sarcastic to most, and funny to a few, but it remains one of the most painful and harsh realities of our time. An official report shows that: "World-wide around 852 million men, women and children are chronically hungry due to extreme poverty; while up to 2 billion people lack food security intermittently due to varying degrees of poverty. (Source: FAO, 2003)." [Wikipedia: Food Security]

And that's not all. We have again one entire COUNTRY, devoted to obesity. Not just being fat, note the unit - OBESE. I go around in cafes and fast-food joints, there are overly huge people everywhere indulging in cheesy and greasy stuff. Lots of people throw away half their food in trash bins. The restaurants advertise 'value meals', where they give lot of food, for very less money. The amount of food is more than one person can, or should eat. So, the person buying it, either throws away or eats it all - causing harm to the world in one case, to one's self in other.

Why can't the food joints offer small chunks of food for lesser value! If someone has to eat more, he can just buy it twice. In that case, if he cannot finish it all, he has untouched food which he can eat later. Or just give away to someone who needs it. Can we think of a concept of 'Shared meals' just like shared cabs/carpool?! Well...I personally do that. Me and Z always used to buy meals among two of us, because we knew neither of us could eat it all.

Due to restrictions and regulations related to health, catering services and restaurants cannot use the leftover food for any other purpose. One very nice thing I have noticed is that they offer the take-away service and people happily and willingly take advantage of it. But, if the same catering services and restaurants can arrange for a better utilization of leftover food, such as giving to asylums, orphan houses or homeless shelters, it can serve a very good purpose. I very well remember back in India, my mother and grandmother used to take leftover food after any huge party and give it to people in slums.

A lot of people don't eat previous night's left-overs. Without being a guru to such people I would try to summarize my philosophy: 'Millions more people die of getting less food or no food at all, than people dying because of eating stale food.' That's all.

Some eye-opening facts:

  • India has highest number of under-nourished people in the world: 198 millions. Next are China, Bangladesh, Congo and Pakistan – respectively 150, 43, 37 and 35 million people. [Malnutrition is political term used for ‘Hunger’ to a certain extent.]
  • A continued condition of malnutrition can cause reduced intelligence, putting those countries in an infinite loop of poverty.

What WE can do:

PS: And we haven't even touched the effects to environment, yet.

Turbo Tagger

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Wordplay, Puzzles and Ambigrams!

I just came across something truly amazing. I have read about Ambigrams before. To acknowledge the contribution - in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, although Brown's previous work of fiction, Angels and Demons, was more focussed on ambigrams and literally brought this art back to popular attention.

Ambigram is an art of writing words such that they can be read in more than one way.

In the above image, the word 'ambigram' can be read from left-to-right and then turn it upside-down and still you read the same word.

John Langdon is known as god of ambigram art. His work has been influential throughout the years. Another masters of this art include Scott Kim, Punya Mishra and numerous enthusiastic all around the world. :) John Langdon's work is world-famous and his credits include Angel and Demons novel itself. Not only that, it also influenced the director of The Da Vinci Code, Ron Howard so much that Langdon was requested to do title credits for the movie. He also designed quite a few symbols in the movie.

Well, ambigrams form a very small portion in the world of wordplay. In the world of puzzles, different forms of twisted and deformed wordplay is known as Flats. And there are many many types of Flats, some famous one's being Anagram, Antigram, Deletion, Enigma etc. You can read more about wordplay and Enigma puzzles at National Puzzlers' League's website.

The craze for ambigrams and wordplay puzzles is not new. Noted writers such as Shakespeare, James Joyce have used wordplay in their creations for long time. The new messiahs of the genre are making it more world-wide popular. The spread of internet also contributes to that. It does require lot of dedication and practice to become an ambigrammatist.

Here's a nice link where you can create simple ambigrams of any words of your choice. It can also mix 2 words so that it can read one word in one direction and 2nd in another - Ambigram Generator.

Punya Mishra's Home Page
John Langdon's Home Page
Scott Kim
Planet Perplex

Turbo Tagger

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Wonderful Online Radio for Indian Rock Music!

Today's blog is about my discovery of this new streaming audio site. Known as Radio-verve, this site specializes in Indian Rock music. So many of Indian bands, that I used to listen to but were missed due to my transition, were found today. Pentragram, Pin Drop Violence!!! I can also keep myself updated on upcoming Desi bands, such as Extinct Reflection, Demonic Resurrection, IIIrd Sovereign, Joint Family, MyndSnare, Narsil, Bhayanak Maut, Black Hole theory...the list goes on and on. Some of the best things to happen in life were these bands. Despite living in a relatively rock-dry city of Ahmedabad, I almost grew up listening to or about bands such as Pentagram and Indus Creed. And now all of them come to me!

Also a Google search on the bands got me some free clips of some of them.'s a beautiful life!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Portable Apps - Part 2

As a second part of the original post Portable Apps - All you need is a USB, I am trying to summarize few more applications that can help you in your day-to-day chores. And I cannot emphasize more on having a portable email client that suits all your needs!

John Haller loves to build portable applications. His next gift to us is Portable Thunderbird. Mozilla's original ThurnderBird is a wonderful open-source cum freeware application, a great alternative to Microsoft's Outlook. The portable version works like a charm.

Feel like having a calender to keep yourself scheduled?! No worries fellas! Portable Sunbird is right here. I thought the Sunbird project was long dead. But it was a pleasant surprise to see this application.

How can you imagine a computer without virus...errr...anti-virus application?! Clamwin Portable is there to rescue. Sweet part is that although it's portable installation, it updates virus definitions everytime you use it.

I would be worried about spywares-adwares more than virus today. I have tried and succesfully used Spybot from a USB stick. It is a simple trick, where I installed both on a USB stick instead of a local program file folder on the hard drive. Next time I had to use it, all I had to do was click the .exe on the stick. There are few more such applications available like X-RayPC but I have never used it before.

FloppyFW is a portable firewall application you might want to consider.

For an alternative web browser, you can always try Portable Opera. Many many people consider Opera far better browser in the universe.

Putty is a freeware SSH client. It is a tiny .exe file that you can run to connect to a remote server. It is really cool toy.

Along with GAIM, you can use Portable Google Talk as a chat client. I found this 20 MB CrazyPack, which included many cool small apps that you can use on USB. Most of them are listed here already.

I think you can also use uTorrent as a portable application. But I am not too sure about it.

Purplenova is a very good web server you can run off your USB.

If downloading and installing each application separately is a pain for you, you can also download another package called Pensuite. It comes in different varieties as per the usage and size.

If you intend to rely this much on USB sticks, you must read PCStat's USB Data Recovery Guide. Things can go wrong anytime as USBs are flash drives. You should be prepared for a rainy day anytime.

Here is a nice article I found about setting up all these portable apps. Hope it is helpful.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Lord Hanuman sending Spams!!

Spams are becoming a bigger nuisance than beggars and hawkers these days. Mails claiming to help you with mortgages, recovered treasures are fun in a sense, while the other type: extending a 'hand' to increase size of a person's organs are highly unwelcome, disturbing, frustrating and embarrassing. :-D

Rediffmail is one of the earlier email provider services in India. It was no wonder that I had an account on that site, being one of the early users of internet. [Smell the self-satisfying ego here. ;-) ] The service in the past and even now, earn their revenues from 100 spam per day policy, I am sure. When an old friend from my rediff using days told me that she sent an important email to my rediff account, I was reluctant to go open the mail. I had to recall password, and like my most other online accounts, I used the Forgot password technique. ;)

And lo!! I had some 1500 spams waiting for me. Thank God, they had a new search feature by which I could find my friend's mail. But one particular spam caught my eye.

I had this one spam, from someone named
Hanuman, urging me to buy a 3 CD set of a popular and epic mythology series Ramayan at discounted rates. Well, it did make much sense because Hanuman was a leading character of that mythology!!! Hanuman is a God, one of the many metaphorical divine entities of Indian culture.

Before this I was getting daily spams from Jenny, Cassandra and Julie - requesting if I was available for a date. They interest in me was overwhelming, and gave me an ego-boost. I could never make it to the date because of my busy schedule. What a pity!!

But this was probably first time in the history of my life I received a spam from God himself! I must be not very religious. If this was God's way of reaching to me, it was very eye-opening. I cannot afford those CDs even at discounted rates. But here I am, off to my torrent sites. I am sure God is not interested in my money, but only wants me to turn to my roots, heritage and culture. Thanks God, for lifting my spirits in times like these. When I am out, I will sure buy some CDs!! ;)