Saturday 31 December 2005

Auld Lang Syne

And so, I sit here, mildly sloshed after a party, unable to sleep, and no one to amuse with my clumsy typing, writing one of the very, very few Dear Diary posts that have ever touched this blog.

What a time it was and what a time it was. And yes, for me, it was pretty much the Year of the Blog.

I'd been blogging through the previous year, yes, to my wee li'l audience of friends and people I spammed with my links.

And that all changed after December the 27th. Those hectic days over late December and January, as we worked the South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami blog and Tsunami Help wiki. The times after that, with collaborations like MumbaiHelp and Cloudburst Mumbai, then Katrina Help, and then Quake Help. Plus social experiments like Indi3, We The Media and CSF II. It got me more well-known than I ever wanted to be. Well, not quite true - let me put it another way. I would have given my eye teeth to see my name in the Guardian, BBC and BoingBoing before that time. But not, dear god, not on the back of human suffering.

But I think I'll raise a metaphorical glass anyway (had enough of the real stuff for the night, thank you), to the people I met this year, thanks to blogs and online networking. Some of them I have never actually met in the flesh, by the way, but I'm pretty sure we'll have much to talk about if we do bump into each other some time. As I hope we do.

So, fiery Rohit, and wise Dina, and calm, cool, ever-reliable Bala and Constantin, and bubbly Neha, and untiring Angelo, and brilliant Rudy and Anna-Lisa and Nancy and Paola and Pim and the inspiring, courageous Sanjaya, Isuru and Mahangu, and Megha, my precioussss, who I have plagued through many a template, and all those others who were part of tsunamihelp, this one's for you. It was a privilege.
And, also, through those other calamitous times, Amit, Dilip, Uma, Harini, Patrix, Suhail, Chandrachoodan, Yazad, a glass raised to you too. And also Jai, Samit, Shivam, J.A.P., Sonia, jaygee, Ranj, Priyanka, Prem, Ram, Nancy, and everyone at Caferati and the others in my Bloglines feeds who make the day begin.

I wouldn't have touched minds with all of you if it wasn't for blogs, yours and mine, and I am thankful that I did.

And of course, friendships that originated elsewhere, but found a facet in blogs too: Nilanjana, Annie, Manjula, Manisha, Lee; the glass would be less full without you.


Tomorrow, I shall link. Now, I shall sleep before I get toooo soppy.

Tuesday 27 December 2005

Citizen journalism + a view from a skeptic

Jane Perrone, in the Guardian newsblog, on The coming of age of citizen media (in which this blogger gets mentioned):
Perhaps most importantly of all, the TsunamiHelp blog has left a lasting legacy. The model of communication it forged has set the standard for web coverage of subsequent disasters, including Hurricane Katrina and the Pakistan earthquake, and many of the TsunamiHelp bloggers have used their expertise to launch similar projects on other disasters. And NGOs and academics are interested in using the TsunamiHelp model as a template for communication during future disasters.

And in the Outlook year-end special, two pieces by Jai and Amit on blogs and citizen journalism.

From Jai's piece
The reason for the impact of blogs like SEA-EAT (and later, Cloudburst Mumbai and Quake Help) was that they were run by teams of dedicated people who knew how to leverage the advantages of the internet—reaching a wide audience, pooling valuable resources from concerned people regardless of their location.
And from Amit:
It is true that in the hands of mediocre writers, the freedom that blogging affords can lead to self-indulgence. But I've found over the past year that the blogosphere is meritocratic, and readers are quick to sort out the wheat from the chaff. This is a new medium, and there's space for plenty more wheat.
And, this, from the in-house skeptic
The blog, a hero? You must be kidding. Maybe elsewhere in the world blogs and bloggers have made a difference during such natural disasters. But in India, over the past one year, where we have had a spate of natural calamities and bomb blasts, there is little evidence suggesting that this new medium, and its proponents have had any impact. Although a handful of bloggers have tried manfully.
I was tempted to just leave that without a comment, but I have to say this (and I'm quoted in Jai's piece and mentioned in Amit's, so you might say I have vested interest), but innit strange that two of India's most respected and widely-read bloggers write balanced pieces with no evangelistic statements, and it's the self-styled skeptic from mainstream media doing the ranting?


Outlook's year end cover story, Heroes from Hell is out. Please go read. Real people, and deeds that misted my eyes over more times than I care to admit.
'It's In The Instinct Of All Fishermen'
R. Annamalai & Sons, fishermen: Heroes for their courage, compassion and sense of justice

'Three Wires, Just Like In The Films'
Kuldip Singh, 35, bus driver: Hero for his presence of mind and physical courage in the face of sudden terror

Gray, Murky Water World
Tushar Kadam, 40, policeman & Anil Tandel, 28, lifeguard: Heroes for their unflinching sense of duty and commitment

A Titanic Train And A Prayer
Rajesh Sheth, 48, businessman: Hero for his never-say-die attitude and practical approach in adversity

Soft Spot Of The Village Toughie
Subhash Bheemu Kamte, 42, farmer: Hero for his dare-devilry and risk-taking ferrying people to safety

When Angels Troop Down
B.S. Krishna Kumar, wing commander: Hero for his prompt reaction and brave risk-taking

No One's An Island
Commander Gopalan Parthasarathy, Indian Navy doctor, Kochi: Hero for his sense of duty amid personal trauma

The Smell Of Dead Bodies
R. Thangarasu, 42, sanitary worker: Hero for his unflinching dignity of labour, doing a job nobody wanted to do

From Rockies To The Sands
Brig J.M. Devadoss, 52, commander: Hero for his sense of duty

The Collector Of Heroes
Gagandeep Singh Bedi, 37, collector of Cuddalore: Hero for his hands-on leadership in a crisis

The Boy Who Saw Tomorrow
Somnath Saha, 19, student/activist: Hero for serving the people in spite of his own trauma, with his parents and sister

The Coming Of Age Of Karthikeya
Raja Karthikeya 25, sales executive: Hero for his empathy, enterprise, initiative; for leaving his safe environs for harsh reality

Cold Tin Roof And Some
Shaukat Khaliq, 35, engineer & Muneed Ul Hasan Malik, 34, bureaucrat: Heroes who kept their wits at a time of chaos

Coming In From The Cold
M.A. Zargar, 36, S.E. Haq, 26, R.A. Hajam, 19, volunteers: Heroes for helping those in distress, without exception

Smelling Of Roses In The Slime
Lakshmi Narasimhan, doctor, and team: Heroes for spending days trawling the villages, picking up and burning scores of bodies

Nobody's Child Goes To School
Revathi Radhakrishnan, 28, filmmaker: Hero for helping an ignored and belittled community find its bearings

Lighthouse In The Islands
Kranti, 24, legal rights activist: Hero for helping the simple locals realise their rights

Monday 26 December 2005

Remembrance Week - 26th December, 2005 - 1st January, 2006

We have been so busy spreading this one around that we forgot to post it here.

Thanks to Angelo and Bala for thinking this up and making it happen.

WWH Remembrance WeekLast year, on the 26th December, an earthquake, and then a tsunami, killed, wounded, or impoverished hundreds of thousands of people in South Asia.

During the course of the year, other disasters took their toll too. Most devastating of them: Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the South-East coast of the USA; and another enormous earthquake near Pakistan's border with India.

These disasters took their immediate toll, and, each time, the world tried to help. But as calamity piled upon calamity, there has been a certain amount of fatigue. Perhaps people's stock of goodwill has run low. Perhaps seeing too much suffering hardens us.

But, the fact is, the suffering from those disasters has not ceased. Parts of South Asia have still not recovered from December 26th, 2004. In the USA, normalcy hasn't returned to New Orleans. In Pakistan, thousands are still homeless, and may not survive the harsh Himalayan winter.

They need your help.

Last December and this January, the online community came together as never before to help in the aid efforts in South-East Asia. The lessons learned there were put to use, and improved upon, when the other tragic events of the year unfolded.

Can we harness that goodwill, that togetherness, that willingness to help once more?

The WorldWideHelp group would like you to join us in Remembrance Week. Here's what we suggest you do.

WWH Remembrance WeekUse your blogs, your home pages, your wikis, your newsletters. Link to your favourite charities and NGOs, write a paragraph about them and the work they are doing, and ask your readers to make a donation. (If you'd like to find some more charities and NGOs, please take a look at this page on our TsunamiHelp wiki, this one on our KatrinaHelp wiki, or this one on our QuakeHelp wiki.)

Please link back to this page to help pass the word. feel free to use either of the images above.

Please use this Technorati Tag: .

In this post, we have a few more banners and buttons, with intructions on the code you must post to use them, plus the Technorati tag code for those who need it.

Sunday 25 December 2005

Playing Tag

From Gene Smith's You’re It!:
This was a big year for tags. You could even say that tags went mainstream in 2005 (if tags were a band, they’d be The Killers). So, given we’re at the end of 2005, I thought I would take a look back at the major announcements and events in the world of ad hoc, user-created metadata.
He goes on to cover the big tag events of the year, from Technorati's introduction of distributed tagging in January, to Yahoo's December purchase of

Read the whole thing here.

toilet training in the alma mater

Dilip points to this Hindustan Times article, which says that our old school in Chembur went co-ed this year (as Larkin said, "which was rather late for me," alas and alack), and then went back on their decision. Among the reasons cited: no permission for the little girls room. Gosh, where were those toddlers sent off when they raised their little finger, then?

Friday 23 December 2005

Off the map

We are always fascinated by maps (yes, we luhrve Google Earth. And, this evening, when we were researching something for a column – a stray sentence which we wanted to get right – we got distracted for close to an hour with a variety of maps. And to make ourself feel better about how we use our time, we're blogging some of the links.

Ever wondered what was on the exact other side of the world? For us in India, it's somewhere in the Southern Pacific, off Peru. (Another image here, from this page, which has some good stuff about the different projection techniques used to map a sphere on to a flat surface.)

You might also want to point the kiddies to this page, for a look at time zones, the reason for Great Circle airplane routes, and a cool way to use a globe to approximate what time it is in any other part of the world.

And also see this page on the myths about medieval maps.

She's a blogger, she's a columnist, she's a writer...

And now she's a URL. Pliss to see, which went live in the wee hours.

If you like, come tell us. If you don't go tell her.

More reasons to be jolly

Sir T B-L is blogging too! Fa la la laa, la la la laaaa.

You better watch out, you better nor cry...

'Cause Santa Claus is blogging too!

Wednesday 14 December 2005

A Menu for Hope II

Pim Techamuanvivit, fellow contributor to the SEA-EAT blog, and well-known food blogger, presents a way for you to help the survivors of the Kashmir quake. Donate US$5 at her A Menu for Hope II page at Firstgiving, and you could win any of the great stuff she has listed here.Funds collected via A Menu for Hope II go straight to UNICEF. A Menu for Hope II has collected US$4,438.00 so far, and will stay open until December 24th. Prizes will be announced January 1st, 2006.

Wonderful idea, Pim.
The "donate" link once more: A Menu for Hope II.

Do pass this on, please.

Tuesday 13 December 2005

Being of unsound mind and body...

"What will happen to my blog when I die?"

That's a thought that has crossed our mind. Go read Neha's lovely 'vague piece of "pure" (or impure?) fiction' on the topic.

Saturday 10 December 2005

Crossed fingers

We just applied for this job. Wish us luck.

Thursday 8 December 2005

When I'm sixty-five

John Lennon was shot dead twenty-five years ago today.

Two visuals in remembrance of a remarkable musician and writer. The first is from an ad I wrote, oh, 14 years ago, I think, for a music company. The second is something I did a few years later.

It's only an ad...

It's fashionable to diss advertising - and god knows it's usually an easy target.

But words and phrases first seen in ads have become part of our culture - many people I know (no snide remarks about my choice of friends, now) remember more advertising headlines than they do lines from poems, essays or stories. The fact is that it's a business that has attracted some of the best writers and designers around. Some, yes, for the money, but most, and I mean this, do it for the challenge, for the every-day-is-different feeling, for the spirit of fun that pervades most creative departments.

Ten years in the agency world gave me valuable lessons in craft, economy, persuasiveness, impact, and much else, including a coffee habit. I did get disenchanted with some aspects of the business, it's true, but I mostly, it was a great ride. I moved on, yes, but not because I had fallen out of love with the business, but because there were other things I wanted to do. I think of advertising as fondly as one thinks of a first girlfriend. With a certain amount of tenderness, of nostalgia, with the bad bits fading away.

What brought this on? Well, someone mailed me one of my favourite bits of advertising copy. It's for Apple, a company I've been inordinately fond of, ever since I first got onto a computer more than fifteen years ago, to my good fortune, a Macintosh. And that has been a parallel love affair, though, arguably, one which has been even more one-sided, because in the years since then. I have been forced to spend more time than I want to on Windoze stuff. Still, Apple is who you have to blame for being made to read this.

Anyway, this wasn't the campaign that launched the company (that's the legendary "1984"), but most copywriters know it, most would have been quite happy to have it in their portfolios. I know I would!
Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward. Maybe they have to be crazy. How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that's never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
We make tools for these kinds of people. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
Tell me, then, are there any ads that have stayed with you long after you first saw them? Maybe even after the products they sold went off the shelves?

Sunday 4 December 2005

Bad Mid-Day?

Now, we don't think we're a prude - we're usually accused of being way too liberal - but we were more than a little scandalised to see in today's Sunday Mid Day a double spread feature on the Bad Sex Award. Not just a short mention (which would be okay, IOAO, considering there was an Indian angle with Aniruddha Bahal taking it two years ago, and Salman Rushdie and Tarun Tejpal on this year's shortlist), but, erm, extracts. Not just this year's winner, but the winners all the way from '94. Plus, in a mild attack of originality, an add-on feature on Bad and Good Sex in the Indian film industry.

And yes, we know the Lit blog world has covered this, and that's in the public eye too, but there seems to be a line being crossed here.

A newspaper lands up in our homes, has puzzles for the brats, etcetera. Are you comfortable with the kiddos finishing the Jumble and then turning to a page of rather descriptive text, even if a few perfectly normal body-part type words are *******ed out?
Cross-posted on we, the media.

The Chennai floods

The boys at Chennai Help are keeping it blogged. Give them your support.

First, Google Analytics. Now, Diagnostics and Investigations?

The New England Journal of Medicine has this letter to the Editor where a Fellow made an accurate diagnosis of a rather rare syndrome.
'How did you make that diagnosis?' asked the professor. Came the reply, 'Well, I had the skin-biopsy report, and I had a chart of the immunologic tests. So I entered the salient features into Google, and it popped right up.'

'William Osler,' I offered, 'must be turning over in his grave. You googled the diagnosis?'

Where does this lead us? Are we physicians no longer needed?
[Link via Patrix's weekly Linking Park. How does the boy find the time to do that and Desipundit and have a life?]

And, in other news, we learn through creativegarh, that in Durham County, North Carolina, USA, the prosecution in a murder case used a man's search history as evidence in a trial, and won a conviction.
Robert James Petrick, 51, didn't exactly point a Web browser to the Internet search engine Google and type in "how do you kill your wife?"

But he came pretty close, say prosecutors in Durham County, North Carolina.

Petrick used Google to search the Internet for references to "body decomposition," "rigor mortis," "neck" and "break" in the days before and after he murdered his wife, Janine Sutphen, then dumped her body in a lake, said Durham County assistant prosecutor Mitchell Garrell.

By "Googling" his wife's murder, Petrick was inadvertently supporting the prosecutor's time line of events.

For instance, the jury learned that Petrick searched for and downloaded a topical map of a lake bed in the days before he dumped the woman's remains in the same body of water.

"We were prepared to go forward with prosecution anyway, and would have succeeded, but no doubt this stuff helped," Garrell said. "We were able to tell the jury things like, 'Here's when she's last seen, and here he's downloading a map of the lake she's found in.'"
Of course, this raises questions of privacy. Your opinion? And in the first case, would you be more comfortable if your doctor was using search to help in diagnosis, or less so? The the link that Patrix points to has some opinions.

What nonsense. We pray to Technorati.

Wednesday 23 November 2005

bloggers and the MSM

Meant to link to this ages ago, but kept forgetting. Annie's post last week did what she does so often and so well: put into words something that had been lurking at the tip of our brain for a bit, something that we knew we found odd about the whole Delhi Bloggers and Bombay Times thing.
Blogging is a virtual activity. Blogosphere is VIRTUAL.
It is comprised of people who sit in front of computer screens, hitting keys for the pleasure of it, or for a cause, or even for self-promotion of a certain kind. These people will read what other people like themselves are writing. These people will scream, rant, rave, stand up for each other, laugh when they receive legal notices, make fun of those who deserve it....
but these people may choose not to crawl out of the woodwork to say hello.

Five non-Bloggers

Took another look-see at the Wicket to Wicket debate on the state of Indian cricket, and find that Harsha Bhogle, Sambit Bal, Ashok Malik, Devangshu Datta and Mukul Kesavan have, between them, as of this moment, attracted 327 comments. Look to your laurels, oh bloggers!

Monday 21 November 2005


I think it was Jai who called him an erudite chap with one character flaw: he doesn't blog.

Now, thanks to the folk at Wicket to Wicket, one of Cricinfo's blogs, you, gentle reader, can read my good friend Devangshu Datta on a blog, even if it's just this once, and on cricket. Heeeere's DD, guesting on Wicket to Wicket, on How to win the 2007 World Cup.

[Via Amit]

Saturday 19 November 2005

Duckt tape

Our Favourite Duck is our favourite duck because he keeps doing things that we wish we had thought of, and does them so well that even if you ripped it off, it would be a pale shadow of the original.
Deeps and shallows

Who or why or which or what
(Le)high and mighty deep in thought
Nudes and news, candy and cars
Fish in ear,language no bar
Here's some stuff, lovely and random
Bounce around, win worldwide fandom
Spend on books, gain endless pleasure
Would-Bes take note, this one's a treasure
Weird world, views and SF musing
Manic man magnet, most amusing
Green town, tin men, munchkins, elves
Claws all out, she prowls the shelves
Plath and Patil avatar
Mithun-loving superstar
Castle captured, future bright
In the lab in darkest night
Intrepid IWE Ocean sailor
Uncut, cutting super-tailor
London's funniest guy's guy
Let us go then, you and I
Burbling, erudite barbarian
Not Lucien, but dream librarian
The one in which Annie gives it
A writer's life and how she lives it
Up to tricks around the house
Immunodeficient mouse
Genre banners all unfurled
Finest writer in the world
Wisecracking to Shaggy's beat
Venomous yet strangely sweet
Ultra-comic comic lair
Fear this feline if you dare
Shady lines, unbroken back
Brown is clearly the new black
You might meet Marco Polo here
Flowing, cool, refreshing, clear
Intra-city introspection
Demand-supply intersection
Teenager-tantalizing temptress
Ever-changing future empress
Skywalking feet are often wet
On lofty paths great minds are set
Magicians say the strangest things
Half eagle, half beastly king
This isn't a stream of conscious rhyme, by the way. Paddle over, and scroll down the right column to see it in all its clickable glory.


I do not want the peace which passeth understanding, I want the understanding which bringeth peace.
~ Helen Keller.

As seen on Technorati

Exhibit 1

Exhibit 2

Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred three score and six.

It's true! That Varma boy is the...

Er, we just noticed there's a problem with our Flickr album. All the shots of us have this kinda streak slicing across the neck...

Friday 18 November 2005

[Nag post warning] The BoBs

We told you about this a little while ago, but here's a reminder:

The South-East Asia Earthquake And Tsunami blog has nominations in the categories Best Journalistic Blog - English, and Best Weblog at the 2005 BOBs.

Click here to go vote.

And view current status here.

Voting closes 20th November.

Monday 7 November 2005

the accidental elephant

That's the name of a new blog, a collaboration between River of Delhi and river's blue elephants, David Israel of Washington and kirwani and David McKelvie of Glasgow and When I am a veteran with only one eye ..., and it will feature poetry and illustration for children.

Go see. It looks marvellous, and we're looking forward to more.

Just one more?

They're doing it in Bangalore, Madras, Delhi, Calcutta.

How about a blog for Urbs Primus in Indus?

You know, blogger meets, general news and gossip, that kinda thing.

Gateway of India

Saturday 5 November 2005

Am a man of my word, I am

I will not start any new collablogs.

I will not start any new collablogs.

I will not start any new collablogs.

I will not, will not, will not even join new collablogs.

No, really, I can do it. I won't be weak. I won't get into any more collablogs. Won't, Won't. Won't. So there.

No more collablogs. Promise. really. Cross my heart and hope too lose my password file.

(See, I'm not copy-pasting. Each line typed out. Penance.)

There's way too many showing up in my profile already. What will people say? And that doesn't even include the ones I do anonymously.

No more collablogs. No more.

I will resist. No more collablogs.

No, no, no. No more collablogs.

I won't collablog.

You can't make me collablog.

I am stronger than you think. No more collablogs.

I will not collablog.
This is going too far. No more collablogs.

Have you no life, man? Rein it in. No more collablogs. Resist!

Just this one time, maybe? Won't do it again.


Blogs mean business

The Jabberwock's big blog story in Business Standard is out. Nice stuff. Patrix, Uma, Amit, Samit and this blog make an appearance.

Here's some stats from the piece
# As of October 2005, Technorati is tracking 19.6 million weblogs internationally
# The total number of weblogs tracked doubles every five months or so, and the blogosphere is now over 30 times as big as it was three years ago
# About 70,000 new weblogs are created every day — that’s about one every second
# Between 700,000 and 1.3 million posts are made each day — or 9.2 posts per second

plus ca change...

The Content Rules look.

Posts area centred, all else in the shadows, unfussy black and white, with standard blue links (and all done - the ignomy! - with a table, because I mucked up the CSS and hadn't the patience to put it together again).

Verdict? (: And that means you lurkers with the RSS readers too, please. :)

Thursday 3 November 2005

MNCs have their uses

We're going to burn in hell for finding something to smile about in this terrible situation, but this is the best damn use of advertising we've seen in a long while.

Wednesday 2 November 2005


CNet says "Google believes it can help OpenOffice--perhaps working to pare down the software's memory requirements or its mammoth 80MB download size"

Tuesday 1 November 2005

How to be creative

From Gaping Void.

The short version:

So you want to be more creative, in art, in business, whatever. Here are some tips that have worked for me over the years:

1. Ignore everybody.

2. The idea doesn't have to be big. It just has to change the world.

3. Put the hours in.

4. If your biz plan depends on you suddenly being "discovered" by some big shot, your plan will probably fail.

5. You are responsible for your own experience.

6. Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.

7. Keep your day job.

8. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.

9. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.

10. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.

11. Don't try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.

12. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.

13. Never compare your inside with somebody else's outside.

14. Dying young is overrated.

15. The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do, and what you are not.

16. The world is changing.

17. Merit can be bought. Passion can't.

18. Avoid the Watercooler Gang.

19. Sing in your own voice.

20. The choice of media is irrelevant.

21. Selling out is harder than it looks.

22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.

23. Worrying about "Commercial vs. Artistic" is a complete waste of time.

24. Don’t worry about finding inspiration. It comes eventually.

25. You have to find your own schtick.

26. Write from the heart.

27. The best way to get approval is not to need it.

28. Power is never given. Power is taken.

29. Whatever choice you make, The Devil gets his due eventually.

30. The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.

The abbreviated version is here, the full-length version is here, and you can get the free PDF here.

Hello? Melbourne?

The Herald Sun reports that a "millionaire mobile phone salesman "Crazy" John Ilhan has unveiled his radical design for a $40 million tower in the shape of a phone. The distinctive 120m highrise in City Rd, Southbank, would house his multi-million-dollar communications empire and 166 luxury apartments."

Hm. Guess that's one building where you'll get good signal in the lifts.

[Via Textually.]

Sunday 30 October 2005

Yahoo password hack warning

Actually, make that:

Yahoo Messenger password scam warning

Note: I have kept the earlier, inaccurate, post title because this post gets a lot of traffic via search and has been linked to here and there, so I don't want to change the permalink. Though I hope the subhead in larger type makes things clearer.

It happens via Yahoo messenger.

You get a message, apparently from someone on your list. So far, I haven't been able to check if it's someone who's fallen for this, and whose account is being used, or a spoofed send.

The message is something along the lines of "see my new pictures." With a Geocities link. When you go to the link, even if you don't know that Geocities is a home page provider and that it was bought over by Yahoo many years ago, you see the reassuring "yahoo" in the URL, a Yahoo logo alongside the Geocities logo, and what looks like a Yahoo photos page that asks you to log in before you can proceed. All the links work, and go to genuine Geocities sign up, Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policies, etc. Except that you don't need a password to view a Geocities page. (Well, yes, you might, if the page owner has locked some pages behind a javascripty thingy or summat, but you won't need yo put in your Yahoo password.)

Proof? Just dump in any arbit name and password. It will seem to accept it (if you look quickly at your status bar, you'll see the page sending to another site).

Just a little while ago, I got what looked like a message from a pal. It didn't sound like him in the least, so my antennae were up. (Besides, a friend told me a few days ago she'd just got hit by a password-stealer, so I guess I was a little wary.)

Clicked the link, and it was as I described it above. Here it is:

And in case it's not up, here's a screen grab:

I did a little "view source" and here's what the form looks like underneath the hood. (I have the complete page saved, if one of you techwizards wants it. Just get in touch.)

*see update 2 below

(If the code in the image doesn't make sense to you, here's the skinny: when you hit "enter", the page sends your Yahoo ID and password to hot_pretty_belle, or whoever else has set up the page.)

Now that you know, want to have a little fun? Fill in username and password fields with language mama would have washed your mouth out with soap for. And hit enter. hot_pretty_belle (or whoever you next encounter trying this stunt) will get lots of piping hot email.

Be warned. You'll get another page offering you another sign in button. And a Sign Up button, which, on click, gives you a genuine-looking Yahoo sign up page. Just loook up at the URL. Too tired to go see that bit of source code now, so will leave it to you tech-adepts.

I'm going to wait a day before reporting this to Yahoo, so go send that hot_pretty_belle your love!

And do pass this on. No, you don't need to credit me. Well, if you insist. I'm a slut for link love.

Update 1

Did a bit of research, and found out what happen if you enter a genuine Yahoo ID and password and click through.

The page records your ID and password, then forwards you to the real Yahoo Photos site. You (: if you hadn't read this :) would have just muttered imprecations about the dorkiness of the pal who didn't give you proper links.

And a few minutes later, you would have got a message from Y!M saying "You have been signed off Yahoo because you signed in from another location."

This has been happening quite often, so it's not much point remembering specific URLs, like hot_pretty_belle. Just remember the method.

Update 2

Thanks to ViswaPrabha and Prashanth, who told the doofus - me - that even with angle brackets html-ised to show up on the page, the script would send comments on this post (and possibly blogger ID and password! shudder!) to the black hats who run the page I referred to. So, text removed and replaced with an image, and now it will behave like a normal, harmless blogger page.

I, for once, am glad that no one commented!

Many Thanks, VP and Prashanth.

Update 2 - 9th July 2006
Please see this diary entry at SANS - Internet Storm Center - Cooperative Cyber Threat Monitor And Alert System and this entry on the McAfee Avert Labs Blog. The SANS page points out a development that didn't exist when I wrote this post:
The last interesting thing is related to obfuscation of the HTML. The attacker decided to use a product called HTML Protector. This tool basically just obfuscates HTML code using JavaScript but as a browser needs to be able to parse the HTML code, the unobfuscation function always has to be present, so with some spare time you can easily unobfuscate this.
And the McAfee page points to this discussion on Broadband Reports, which also mentions the encrypted page.

Delhi Blasts - 2

Rediff says "the Union Health Ministry has set up a control room to ensure speedy treatment to those injured. The control room can be reached at 011-23061302."

Please don't swamp that number with calls unnecessarily.

And the Chief Minister advises people to stay away from the markets.

Saturday 29 October 2005



Delhi bomb explosions

At least three explosions in crowded market areas in Delhi are reported to have killed at least 21 people.

Blasts were reported in Paharganj, near New Delhi railway station, Sarojini Nagar and Govindpuri. And a bomb was found and defused at Chandni Chowk.

Here's the BBC, Rediff, Indian Express, Hindustan Times, Reuters, The Hindu, Times of India, Outlook, NDTV.
The injured have been moved to Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Baba Kharak Singh Marg, Near Gole Dakkhana, New Delhi-1. (ph: +91 11 23365525, 23361948) and Safdarjang Hospital, Aurobindo Marg, South Delhi (ph: +91 11 26165060, 2665032, 26168336, 26864865).

[From the Delhi Government's Hospitals in Delhi Page and Sify.

Alea jacta est. Nunc est bibendum

Remember all those Latin expressions in the Asterix comics? Mainly from the old peg-legged pirate as the ship went down? Did you understand them all? Didja? Huh? Didja? Honest? Sind Sie sicher? Eerlijk? Absolument? (Darn. The Babel Fish doesn't do Czech.)

We have a swollen head, we do.

So no one's written us an ode. No sonnets or songs about us, no portraits or statues in public places, no fan sites, no groupies.

But we're quite tickled about this.

Friday 28 October 2005

And now for the audio-visual round

Pal and colleague, J Krishnamurthi (a.k.a. JK a.k.a. Jakes), quizzer, quizmaster, techie and atrocious pun perpetrator has succumbed to the siren song of the blogosphere and set up not one but two blogs.

In Quizerati, he and his pals from Quizness will discourse knowledgeably on:
A. Quizzes
B. Quizzers
C. Malika Sherawat
D. All of the Above.

And on Musings of the completely jobless, he will talk about (going by current evidence):
A. Mallika Sherawat
B. Mallika Sherawat
C. Mallika Sherawat
D. Mallika Sherawat

Right. Do you need a lifeline?

Join the dots

You're not paranoid, they can figure out which laser printer you used to print out those anonymous ransom notes. Even to the serial number.

[Via Ganesh's Corner]

Chennai update

Please see Chennai Help, where suman kumar, Chenthil, Ravages, Echo and Kaps are putting together information on the heavy rain and floods the city has been experiencing. From what I saw on TV a little while ago, it could get worse. There's a cyclone approaching, and Ongole, to the north, in Andhra Pradesh, is right in its path.

Man, talk about a year for disasters!

Thursday 27 October 2005

The Chennai floods

Via email from AID:

A team of volunteers from the AID Chennai office, headed by Damu, is already traveling (through some of the safer roads by four-wheeler) and assessing the damage in some of the slums in Chennai, inspite of the heavy rains outside!

Ph numbers to contact:
AID Chennai office: 044-28350403,
Damodharan: 94442 41918
Balaji Sampath: 94440 61033
Chandra: 93823 30752
Ravishankar: 94440 84910

Hi all,

Heavy rains have been lashing chennai+other areas in TN, neighboring states for the past few days. Balaji was in Nagai yesterday and has visited many of the affected coastal areas on the way back to Chennai.
There are different categories of affected people:

(i) People facing difficulty in getting to work, accessing amenities, people who might lose their business, or worse their entire crop
(ii) Water entering people's houses and their having to evacuate to friends' houses
(iii) People living in thatched houses losing their homes and possessions

As of now, AID-TN is trying to work with the third category of people - they are among the poorest and most in need of help. The chennai corporation has arranged for some of them to be shifted to nearby schools. In other areas of TN too, a lot of work is required in this regard. We are planning to concentrate out work in the following areas where we are working already (both coastal and otherwise):
Vembakkam (Tiruvannamalai district)
Sulagiri (krishnagiri)
Bhuvanagiri (Cuddalore)
Koovathur (tsunami affected cluster, Kanchipuram) and

Most of us are staying home and co-ordinating over the phone. A team of volunteers from the AID Chennai office, headed by Damu, is already traveling (through some of the safer roads by four-wheeler) and assessing the damage in some of the slums in Chennai, inspite of the heavy rains outside! We plan to focus on the following:
(i) Immediate housing needs
(ii) Basic relief - food and water
(ii) Clothing requirements -
- Sweaters, jackets, blankets, bedsheets
- Children's clothes, both boys and girls
- Sarees, since they can be used for multiple purposes in such
situations (for ex: as screens for women in make-shift camps)

We request people to drop off sweaters, blankets and bedsheets and ONLY THE ABOVE CATEGORY OF CLOTHES at the AID office, when possible. We will also be collecting donations for providing relief supplies and housing assistance.

We will keep you updated.

Ph numbers to contact:
AID Chennai office: 044-28350403,
Damodharan: 94442 41918
Balaji Sampath: 94440 61033
Chandra: 93823 30752
Ravishankar: 94440 84910


More on IIPM v/s the blogs

In India, you might think that if you buy enough newspaper ads, those same newspapers won't bother to check the claims you make in those ads. The papers wouldn't want to lose ad money, right? But that old equation is changing, thanks to one scrappy youth magazine called JAM and the collective investigative strength of the Indian blogosphere.
Read the rest of Mark Glaser's piece on the IIPM's tiff with the blog world here, on Online Journalism Review. Glaser also wrote about the mediaah! affair in March, and OJR's Shefali Srinivas reported the Citizen Journalist response to the December earthquake and tsunami.

back to the future

Have you noticed this?

All the young 'uns carry haversacks these days.

And all of them wear the straps extended to their maximum, so that the bag hangs really low, butt level or thereabouts.

(Decidedly unergonomic, and also bad for their backs, except bags are never packed full - about three slim books and pencil box or whatever it is they carry in them seems to be the load.)

So is this Generation Zed's version of this blog's contemporaries' expression of our individuality: every one of us wearing our caps backwards, never mind about the sun in our eyes?

Sir Harold and Sir Arthur on Citizen Journalism and Blogging

A couple of extracts from Outlook's Tenth Anniversary Issue
Do you think the rise of ‘Citizen Journalism’, with blogging being one element of it, represents a diminishing trust in the established media? How can news organisations go about building credibility in the eyes of readers, viewers and listeners?

Established media has lost some trust, no doubt, but I think the rise of blogging is more to do with the appetite for telling the world where to get off. Very healthy. Most of it is opinion/argument, which is fine, but there is no central organising intelligence to sustain the heart of journalism which is reporting. (And sometimes that reporting is too difficult, too urgent, to leave to one reporter). Indeed, a significant proportion of cyberspace perpetuates myth and falsehood. The absurd lie that Jews blew up the World Trade Center on 9/11 began life on the web and got endlessly recycled by the credulous, the ignorant and the malevolent. One of the tasks I would submit to mainstream media is the regular detection and exposure of cyber propaganda.
From an interview with Sir Harold Evans, Former Editor, the Sunday Times, London, Former Editor-in-Chief, Atlantic Monthly Press, President and Publisher, Random House, Author, of Good Times, Bad Times, voted the Editor of the Century in 2002.
Blogs, wikis and citizen journalism are all signs of things to come.

This has far-reaching implications. For one thing, it allows far higher levels of interactivity and audience engagement than has been possible in newspapers, radio or television. Even more importantly, the web provides a platform for small-time companies, organisations and single individuals to disseminate ideas, analyses and viewpoints to a potentially global audience. And it can be done at a fraction of the cost of launching mainstream media outlets. While the web is not yet a level playing field and has its own limitations, it has already triggered the end of absolute power enjoyed by press barons and gatekeeper editors.

Nowhere is this breach more apparent than in the remarkably swift rise of bloggers. Their publishing of online diaries has shown how passionate individuals can command attention and influence way beyond their professional or social circles. John Naughton, a noted British chronicler of the new media, says the web has again demonstrated its capacity to unleash disruptive innovation on a complacent establishment. As he wrote in 2003, "The response of the ‘professional’ media to this explosion has been interesting. First there was patronising incredulity that people would write without being paid for it. Then there was disdain. ‘Where’, asked the hacks, ‘was the quality control?’ Surely the whole thing was just an epidemic of vanity publishing. Then there was unease, fuelled by the realisation that (a) large numbers of bloggers were talking to one another behind the media’s back, as it were, and (b) some of them knew more about many subjects than most journalists. Badly researched or ideologically skewed reporting was being instantly skewered by bloggers...."

Naughton has documented many instances where poor journalism about highly technical or complicated issues was exposed by bloggers. The Columbia space shuttle disaster was one, where half-baked journalistic theories were effortlessly demolished by bloggers with serious aerospace expertise.

The blogging community has refused to accept the news ‘agenda’ as determined by the mainstream media. As Naughton says, "This has been increasingly evident since 9/11 as the established US media have dumbed down their discussion of the issues surrounding security, civil liberties and Bush’s policy towards Iraq.It would not be much of an exaggeration to say that (with a few honourable exceptions) most of the serious discussion of these issues in the US at the moment is happening in weblogs and not in the ‘official’ mass media."

It’s too soon to tell how much and how far bloggers could act as a countervailing force for the lapses and excesses in the mainstream media not just in the US, but across the world. We can only hope that the bloggers will push the mainstream to embrace long overdue reforms to become more transparent and accountable—the very virtues that editorialists constantly preach to the world’s governments and corporations.
From Arise, Citizen Journalist!, by Sir Arthur C Clarke, SciFi legend, the man who predicted geostationary satellites in one of his stories, and inspired Tim Berners-Lee to invent the World Wide Web with another.
[Cross-posted at indi³.]

Wednesday 26 October 2005

Blog Quake Day

We did it in the IIPM scrap.

Before that, the blog world truly came of age (IMAO), to support the TsunamiHelp effort.

Now, it's time to band together for Blog Quake Day.

Do a post. Link to a charity or NGO you support (you can find many on Quake Help. Encourage your readers to make a donation. Give some yourself.

DesiPundit, who issued the call, has a link roundup posted here.

Tuesday 25 October 2005

Best of Blogs

At the 2005 BOBs, the South-East Asia Earthquake And Tsunami blog has nominations in the categories Best Journalistic Blog - English, and Best Weblog.

Go here (and send your friends too) to vote:

And here to see the current status:

Voting closes 20th November.

Sunday 23 October 2005

All the world's a stage

And one of the men or women in the Google Earth Community has mapped all the places in Willie's plays.

Competition for Google Earth?

We were doing a little research for a column and stumbled on NASA's open source World Wind and MSN's Virtual Earth. Must do a comparison this week.

Ooh, the irony.

From the Outlook story on IIPM: "Dan Rather, the blogger..."


Saturday 22 October 2005

Doggerel for Caferati, and everyone else who craves feedback

A word of explanation. On Caferati's Ryze message board, there's often much wailing and beating of breasts about lack of feedback on deathless prose and immortal verse. And that plaintive cry frequently echoes down the corridors of the blogosphere too. Sure, I've felt too - in both arenas - that I could use a lot more feedback than I get. But if there's one thing blogging has taught me is that you better do it because you like it, not because it's an instant ticket to an interactive audience.

This might just as well have been called "Blogging Blues." :)

Doggerel for Caferati

You can sing the blues,
You can pay your dues,
You can try, and still lose,
There's no "money back."


You can't expect it,
You can't demand it,
You can deserve it,
And still not get it.

You can be bold, shy,
You can despair, cry,
You can ask God why.
But you can't do jack.


You can't expect it,
You can't demand it,
You can deserve it,
And still not get it.

You can do it all right,
You can fight the good fight,
You can spend lonely nights
Put your head on the tracks.


You can't expect it,
You can't demand it,
You can deserve it,
And still not get it.

Gotta tell you this, baby:
You gotta do it for free,
There are no guarantees
For love and feedback.


You can't expect it,
You can't demand it,
You can deserve it,
And still not get it.

We'll settle for brain dead, though

Apparently USA presidents starting their terms in years ending with zero are kinda jinxed. Ronnie survived. Sigh.

[insert obligatory "suitable something" pun here]

Sonia was at the Two Lives reading in Bombay, and has a hilarious post up here. [Now we have to cadge an invitation to her beer-and-olives party.]

And The Duck was at the Delhi soirée, where more fun was had by all. [Aside: we have only met the quacker and the Jabberwock at Hurree Babu's durbar, where the lads behave most decorously. Clearly one must accompany them to book launches instead.]

Sniff. No one invites us to these things either. Ah well.

Friday 21 October 2005

Right to Blog for Awareness Petition

We haven't written about the whole IIPM thing, but so many others have, eloquently, and to far, far, far, far, far larger audiences than frequent this blog. P'raps we'll post at some length on this later, or at least post you some links, but in the meanwhile, we urge you to go read, and if you agree, sign the Right to Blog for Awareness Petition.

Thank You.

p.s. We just discovered that there's already another, somewhat more strident petition up, which you can read and sign here.


This just arrived via snail mail. We had heard about it via email ages ago, of course, and yes, we know that we shouldn't be so pleased with a piece of paper recognising a digital effort in a digital age, but nevertheless....

Prixars 2005 Honorary Mention
Originally uploaded by zigzackly.

Wednesday 19 October 2005

Oh that Georgie

The things he gets himself into. (And refresh the page for more variations. Hours of good clean fun.) [Thanks Anjana.]

Tuesday 18 October 2005

So who are one's real friends then?

Give us a free ticket to this and prove it, okay?

Thursday 13 October 2005

My Live Journal

Today was really tiring.

I got out of bed really late because my alarm clock has broken and I cannot afford a new one at the moment.

I feel sad, because Sarah and Britney are complete bitches. They told everyone I have an STD, just because I slept with both of their boyfriends on Saturday night.

I'm so hardcore. Me and Buzz went to the mall today, and I stole a whole heap of stuff. I got a Good Charlotte CD, a couple of DVDs and some new boots. Buzz got caught, but he fought his way out, and then we stole some lady's car and smashed it into a phone booth.

Last night I had to go and pay Joshua's bail. He's such a jerk. He got arrested for punching the Walmart clerk in the face for refusing to sell him beer. He's only 16!

I want to tell the world that my girlfriend Amy is the bomb! She made pizza last night, and even though I burnt my lips on the cheese, it was awesome!!!

I am really annoyed with those assholes at _are_you_hotter_than_us_?, because I am so much cuter than them, and those photos don't do me justice. They can't reject me, so I'm starting my own rating community. Click here to join (the first five applicants are automatically accepted).

Today, I got a digital camera! Yes! Here's some photos of my girlfriend in the nude (but don't tell her that I've posted them here - she'll kill me! Har har.)

I want to say thanks to my dad for giving me my own computer and digital camera. Here's a photo of my room. The weather in Ontario is cold. I have nothing more to say.

I went to the doctor yesterday, and he said I have bipolar disorder, which makes me different enough to be interesting, but the same as all the other cool people with bipolar disorder.

You should all do this quiz! It's amazingly accurate. You just put in your name and birthday, and it will tell you what your favourite sexual position is.


That's enough for now. But I'll leave you with this poem I wrote. It's about my friend Robert, who has bipolar disorder. Just like me. And Heidi.

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Monday 10 October 2005


The idea is that any time there's a disaster, any member of the group can alert the a ready-made team, all of them with experience in the field, enthusiasm and goodwill, and request help to get something going.

Once the actual project takes shape, the individuals involved may decide to form a separate coordination group to run things.

The other part of the agenda is that we can exchange info, learn from the things we did wrong, and get better each time the sad, but inevitable happens.

I'd love to send you all individual invitations, but aside from the time it would take, it would also mean that your invitations would go into automatic human review by googlegroups, and that can take ages. It's much quicker to tell you about it!

Group Page:
Group description:
General newsgroup and rallying point for power bloggers, wiki experts, database adepts, etc, for calls to action and volunteers to provide information post-disasters.
Will also be used to exchange information in more peaceful times, so we can all learn from our experiences.

Join This Group question:
Please tell us which online relief efforts you have participated in, and your strengths (eg. blogging, wikis, databases, tech innovation, hosting, sponsorship, etc).

Go here to send in a join request.

Sunday 9 October 2005

South Asia Quake

The SEA-EAT team has started South Asia Quake Help to get out news and information about resources, aid, donations and volunteer efforts after the Earthquake of October 8th, 2005.

Please visit, link to and mail your friends about it. The URL:

Friday 7 October 2005

This one's for me

Also via Karmayog:
NAMI walk for Mentally Ill - NCPA to Oxford Bookstore

Oxford Bookstore in association with NAMI India and invite you to celebrate

World Mental Health Day

Walk from NCPA to Oxford Bookstore

ANJALI CHABARIA will be present to conduct an interactive session on the theme

9th October 2005 Sunday
9:30 a.m.- The walk begins
10.30 a.m. – Join us for the talk at Oxford Bookstore

Oxford Bookstore
Apeejay House
3, Dinsha Vachha Road
Churchgate, Mumbai 20
RSVP: John at 98201-55591

~Program Sponsors~
Sun Pharma

Sue 'em

Via a Karmayog newsletter:

The condition of Mumbai roads is pitiable and the authorities responsible for maintaining good roads i.e. BMC, PWD, MMRDA, MHADA, Dairy Development Dept., Mumbai Port Trust & Ors. have failed to provide good roads, despite spending crores of rupees of tax-payers' monies. Citizen is a helpless victim of the bad roads and the infants, elderly, infirm and pregnant ladies continue to bear the brunt of bad roads.

I am pursuing a Suo Motu Writ Petition no. 3 of 2005 in the High Court at Mumbai before the Hon'ble Chief Justice.

During the last hearing on 26th Sept., BMC's Counsel Mr. K. K. Singhvi contended that except few roads, which are damaged by unprecedented rains this year, everything else is fine !

Mr. Singhvi also contended that the reports in the Media are all exaggerated! Of course, when I contended that are the photographs also exaggerated, Mr. Singhvi had no answer !

BMC & other authorities responsible for the roads have the tax-payers monies at their disposal to engage Senior Counsel/s while I am doing this at my own costs, time & efforts; an unequal fight.

Court has now directed us to submit specific examples of bad roads i.e. name & address of portion of the road which is bad, the nature of defect i.e. sunken/cracked/pot holes or any other defects, etc.

We therefore seek cooperation of the Citizens of Greater Mumbai to inform us, details of such roads with exact location & nature of defect, either on email or by letter, at the following address:

Kewal Semlani,
Postbox 11688, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400021

This PIL is for your good and if you do not act now, you will continue to suffer from bad roads, year after year. Naturally, this will also result in the tax-payers hard earned monies being wasted.


Kewal Semlani

Wednesday 5 October 2005

Not on the furniture

Go here, pick an item, choose from the five ready to, er, go options, or make up your own, with the, ahem, arrangements that suit you best. [Not while the kids are around, okay?]

Saturday 1 October 2005

And they call me potty-mouthed

Really now, fellas, would be able to let it all hang out in front of one of these?

Saturday 24 September 2005

With a pinch of NaCl

Everypoet's Poetic Table of the Elements invites you to come read poetry sorted by the the Periodic Table. And you are invited to submit your own.

Friday 23 September 2005

Did he mean "terns?"

To post this, we'll have to admit that we read the whole thing. Sigh. Ah well. From an Indiatimes piece on the current-earthshaking developments in Indian cricket.
The Ganguly-Greg saga seems to be taking new twits and turns with every passing day amid growing speculation about a rift in the Indian team.

Thursday 22 September 2005

Why you should enable Comment Verification on your blog

Have you been noticing the kind of comments that go: "Hi, I really liked this. I have a site on [something related to your post, with a link]. Do visit my blog when you have the time."

That's comment spam enabled by programs that search for relevant content and then slip in a comment. Thought we'd share an email with you, one that came in to one of my friends on the KatrinaHelp.
Hey Guys,

Sorry to have to bring this to your attention. I have just been revisiting the tsunami blog to catch up after being offline for some time.

There is new software on the market that is capable of automatically submitting comments on random blogs for the purposes of getting backlinks for SEO.
This software can be tweaked to only post on blogs in certain categories which can be set by the software operator. There are a few versions ,but new kid on the block is marketing hard. It has been aggressively marketed over the last 2 months. See (Blogsubmitter Pro)
Yeah, we know. We deliberately didn't make the URL clickable.
Experienced blackhat SEO sploggers are setting the software to post comments on blogs which are popular and spidered regularly with strong rich content.
Heh heh. We wondered why our humble blog was being picked on. SEA-EAT we can understand. But us? Now we know. We have strong rich content, y'hear? Heh.
As disaster sites are in the news again, some people are using this software to post comments to posts on these blogs purely for the purposes of marketing their products, sometimes often illegal warez, gambling, porn sites, but mostly opportunistic marketers trying to take advantage of the link to a popular blog (which the software pings automatically after the comment is posted) to get the backlink spidered.

The nofollow tag stops google from following it , but according to users does not stop yahoo and others.

Webmasters who monitor the comments usually delete them quickly. To prevent autosubmitting most suggest adding (not sure what it's called) the box where you have to copy a graphic distorted letter image into a form to prove you are a human not a bot.
You can do this in blogger under settings > comments. Blogger calls it "comment verification." Turn it on.
See the range of examples on comments to the post on Tsunami Blog Re Blogging for Disaster Relief.(also previous post and maybe more)

I am a marketer myself, and own a copy of this software, which like any tool can be used responsibly or not.

But it made my blood boil when I saw the comments on Tsunami Blog.

Can somebody take a moment to delete these leeches sucking on the popularity of the disaster blogs, and using the victims newsworthiness to line their own pockets rather than assist those who need it!


Well, leeches, suck no more on this disastrous blog. We have comment verification turned on. Apologies to our regular commenters. Plis to adjust.

Tuesday 20 September 2005

Sunday 18 September 2005

Ignore this

Just filing this away for our own reference. A little online trove of Ogden Nash poems.

Saturday 17 September 2005

If you're in the 'hood...'s how to find me.

If you're interested, that's via an interesting newish site called MapmyIndia, which, for a limited period, lets you create a free e-locator (that's what is linked to in the previous paragraph). There's a more detailed note in my column, for which you'll have to wait till Sunday.

Tuesday 13 September 2005

The buck starts here

Reproduced from my column

Project Why “Rupee a day” festival
It’s less than you paid for this paper. And that’s what Project Why(a Delhi-based NGO that works with deprived children, mainly in education) would like you to consider donating to support their efforts. And now, with the start of our long festival season, they’re trying to reach more people. They’re looking for ideas, so head over if you have any. And yes, they could also use that rupee a day. (Project Why’s founder also runs a blog:
And here's a bit from a mail from Anouradha Bakshi, the founder of ProjectWhy.
Project Why is in the s**** house as we really have no funds beyond this month.

The above explains why.. and more whys.

The thing is that till date we have been working on oxygen that yours truly keep bringing, now we need lungs, and the major one is the one rupee.

My friend Sophie, a volunteer and lovely lady, said it would need 4 people to get 3 and 3 only 6 times..

Now I hate chain letters and pyramid marketing but can you think of a way to put this across. Let me confess something, I am not a great believer and yet I believe and the last few days I have been seeking help from the invisible forces.. now maybe you are just one of them!

The thing is that if I do not get the act together, many will lose their hope in life.
Now, we normally pour scorn on chain letters too, and have physically removed a pyramid marketer from the premises once upon a when.

But we do believe in invisible forces.

That is, the blogosphere.

So, those of you who honour this blog (or the atom or rss feed) with your time, you've rallied around for less. Would you care to pass this worthy meme on?

(For the lit-inclined and those of the writerly persuasion, you could also point to this wonderful idea from Jikku of Funny, Filthy, Flawed, Gorgeous, which we mentioned a few days ago.)

The land of the brave

Siddharth Varadarajan writing in The Hindu
Virtually four years to the day terrorists levelled the World Trade Center, a federal court in the United States has delivered another shocking body blow to the edifice of civil society in that country. In a unanimous verdict on Friday, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld as legal one of the most controversial weapons the Bush administration has armed itself with in its "global war on terror": the power to incarcerate anybody — including U.S. citizens — indefinitely, without charge.
What this means is that unless the Supreme Court overturns this verdict, Mr. Padilla — like the non-U.S. prisoners at Guantanamo — will remain in legal limbo. And since the war on terror has been described by U.S. officials as "an endless war," the period of incarceration could also be endless. Indeed, the U.S. administration is now at liberty to invoke the power of indefinite detention against anyone it likes, since the Appeal Court considered the exercise of presidential powers to be unconstrained by any consideration about the authenticity of allegations levelled against an individual to be detained.
In other words, Judge Luttig and his colleagues have legitimised preventive detention without a time limit and without the need to demonstrate either necessity or proportionality.

President Bush has declared a war against a faceless, stateless enemy, and the power to detain `enemy combatants' is paramount, not the right of a citizen to contest the basis of his detention.

Saturday 10 September 2005

Truth in media

This one's probably winging its way around the web by now, but nevertheless:

(: Via Objet Petit M on CSF, who got it from Demockery :)

Wednesday 7 September 2005


Badmash has a take on the press coverage post-Katrina.

Sunday 4 September 2005

Being Poor my arse

BoingBoing quotes [via Making Light] John Scalzi's Being Poor. And for the first time, I find myself genuinely upset with how little people in the USA know about how the rest of the world lives. Fercrying out loud, that piece is about luxury that some people in this part of the world can never aspire to.

Here, with no apologies to Mr Scalzi, is my version.
Being Really Poor

Being poor is not knowing how much everything costs. You can't afford it anyway.

Being poor is your kids watching TV maybe once a year, when the local political party or something like that hires one so they can watch movies during Ganesh Chaturthi .

Being poor is thinking that a car is an unattainable luxury. Unless it's an abandoned junkheap you can sleep in.

Being poor is hoping the tooth falls out.

Being poor is your kid goes to play on the street. When s/he's not working, that is.

Being poor is not understanding the concepts "restroom," "school," and "lunch."

Being poor is living next to - or over - a gutter. And getting evicted from there.

Being poor is hoping someone throws an empty box of something away so you can use it to plug the hole in the thatched roof.

Being poor is not having any well-off siblings. Or aunts. Or uncles. Or any relatives at all. Well maybe the local dada or pusher.

Being poor is no toys.

Being poor is where a one room house is what you aspire to. Never mind the heater. It's hot enough already.

Being poor is not knowing anyone who has the equivalent of $5 to leave around.

Being poor is hoping your kids get to grow up to be adults.

What's meat?

What's underwear? What's Goodwill?

Oh there's plenty of room on the streets.

Being poor is wishing you had a playground to run around in. And never having known shoes.

Being poor is no school.

Being poor is thinking $8 an hour must be what the local ganglord earns.

Being poor is not having anyone to rely on.

Being poor is wishing you could find work. And if it's in a place that has fluorescent lights, you'll wonder where they're stealing the electricity from.

Being poor is where any letter you find is a scrap of paper with squiggles on it that you can add to the raddi sack you're carryying on your back, and hoping that the scrap dealer doesn't cheat you.

Being poor is a bath in water from other people's toilets.

Being poor is taking everything from the trash heap.

Being poor is fighting the cockroaches for food.

Being poor is nt knowing what the fuck a "GED" is.

Being poor is people angry at you for looking so poor. Anywhere. And if you tried to get in a mall, you'll get beaten up by security.

Being poor is taking any job. And your kids take any job too.

Being poor is the police treating you like shit all the time.

Being poor is not grokking romance. Sex, maybe.

Being poor is hoping you can find dinner in a rubbish heap.

Being poor is a sidewalk full of excrement.

Being poor is people not wanting to know anything about you.

Being poor is needing 35-cents. Please.

Being poor is your kid's teacher (if there's a school, if your kid has enough time off from work to go to it) doesn't have any books.

Being poor wondering what a "utility" is.

Being poor is being happy when someone drops a mac and cheese on the floor. Dinner!

Being poor is wishing you could get a job. Wishing you had the strength to work hard.

Being poor is people surprised to discover you're human.

Being poor is not being surprised people are suprised to discover you're human.

Being poor is a sick child asleep on your lap. And hoping she'll live.

Being poor is never buying anything.

Being poor is thinking ramen is what rich people eat.

Being poor is having to live with choices you didn't make. And there being a pretty good chance you will never be 14 years old.

Being poor is wishing there was someone you could be grateful to.

Being poor is knowing you're being condemned.

Box of crayons. Hm. Can be sold. Colouring book. Hm. Add to raddi sack.

Being poor is counting your income in coins.

Being poor is fighting for shelter.

Being poor is knowing you can't afford the local equivalent of a Lotto ticket.

Being poor is never having seen a cash register.

Being poor is feeling helpless when your child hasn't a hope in hell. And you can't do fuck about it.

Being poor is a cough that doesn't go away. [Hey, he got that one right!]

Being poor is being elated at finding a discarded couch that's only damaged, and marginally filthy. Furniture!

Being poor is never having seen a paycheque.

Being poor is not having a night class anywhere. Except, perhaps, if the pusher is teaching you how to sell cut drugs.

Being poor is sleeping on the road.

Being poor is knowing where the shelter is. And you're too tired to walk there.

Being poor is envying people who have never been really poor but think they are.

Being poor is knowing you can't stop being poor.

Being poor is seeing no options.

Being poor is staggering around, left behind.

Being poor is where the only way you leave is when you die.
Update - 5th September, 18.48

John Scalzi dropped by to leave a clarifying comment. We believe in equal air time, so here it is, reproduced from the comments section.
John Scalzi said...

I see this list as complementary to, and not in opposition to, my original list, and it highlights the difference between relative poverty (which is the situation in the US), and absolute poverty (which is the situation in much of the rest of the world). Writer Nick Mamatas has also written a similar list (in this typically pungent style), which you can find here:

I wrote the list originally as something of a response to all the people who I saw having difficulty understanding why some of the poor prople in New Orleans stayed behind for the hurricane and its aftermath. It was designed to help them empathize with people who are in a similar economic situation with those people. It is by no means an exhaustive list for what it's like to be poor worldwide, just poor where I (and much of the blogosphere) live.
Point taken, Mr Scalzi. Thank you fortaking the trouble to explain. And yes, I'm with you on the need to get the message across to the people who wondered why New Orleans's poorer residents didn't leave. Your post didn't offer that context, and it was my first visit to your blog, so I'm sorry that I didn't get that.

Must still say, however, that I stand by everything else I said.
Oh yes, here's Nick Mamatas's post, which Mr Scalzi kindly pointed to. And Least Loved Bedtime Stories v. 2.0 has another version of the list up too.