April 30, 2006

Two Years Down

So this is becoming more of a writing pad than just a diary. I have been writing about everything except me, although you can argue that it's all me, in the end.

This May it will be two years since I had been a Blogger. Books, Movies, Design, Web Standards and the Open Source Revolution. I have written about them and not, but anyhow I have written. It started with an ambitious little blog, The Signs of Being. It was online in the May of 2004. I posted two short posts on it in June, maybe July. And I found out: I wasn't any good at writing, No one would read my blog, and I am no-good-lazy-ass. And so Signs of Being eventually got deleted from the Blogger server.

Then near about a year later I came up with I Want Doesn't Get. I thought it was a great idea putting out your wishlist blog-style. On April 20, 2005 at 11:56 PM I wrote my first post on IWDG. Not a great write-up, not particularly interesting, but I wrote. Another post came by six days later. And then, Period.

It took 10 months for me to start writing again. In February of o-six I published Anonymous Content. It was a new blog, a new beginning. I wrote my first ever nicely-written post - Nineteen Eighty-Four. Since then I haven't stopped writing. I resurrected IWDG with some serious posting and here I am two years down, a little mature, more geek-ier than ever.

Now I write with much fervor. My writing reflects what I read. I read a lot now, more mature books, more stylized writing. A few good souls do come over to read my wannabe-mature posts. Some go a step further and comment and I'd like to thank them for their interest - Arsh, Thotster, Sunfever, all my friends, and some more.

I hope to continue this writing expedition indefinitely. I also hope for more readership - I will hit the 500-mark by the end of this week, It's not flattering but at least I got the facts right.

Update: News is, I didn't have to wait for a week for that 500-mark. I hit 518 while I was writing and posting this piece. Cheers!!

April 27, 2006

Man's Greatest Invention

It is “language” indeed.

I know it’s a Cultural Invention, but an invention nonetheless. It is one invention that is used by every human being. Even the mute communicates with a language. Language breaks barriers. It breaks borders. How? I like to think it’s the human entity that drives languages. The primal need to communicate, to exchange thoughts and to emote, else there’s nothing more to humans. We are what we are because we communicate. What would be fire if the ancient men didn’t know to convey its uses? What would be the wheel?

The magic of language is that it can be so different yet so familiar. Through language we emote. Emote happiness, emote sadness, anger, fear, joy, criticism, appreciation, we emote hate and we emote love.

The words some times become more than just alphabets stuck together to sense. The greatest woman on earth is a mother. And mother in any language means the same. “Mother” in English is “Mutter” in German, “Madre” in Spanish, “Mère” in French, and “Mãe” in Portuguese. The semblance is just love and nothing more. You call her “Mummy” or “Mom”; we call her “Ammi” in the Urdu language or “Maa” in Hindi. Different languages, familiar sounds. These words are not influenced by English since it was used long before English came to India. I don’t know how such things happen. It seems neither co-incidental nor an influential effect.

Very few people regard language as important. I myself believe that languages are beautiful. I love languages. The pronunciations, the exclamations. I love Persian a language that seems ancient and beautiful. I love Arabic, it’s more of an art than a language. I love Japanese, seems to me the most emotive language. The Chinese and Japanese pronunciation accords to their emotion/feeling. Urdu is my own language; it is one of the few languages that have love, respect and richness in it. It is, after all, an amalgamation of three great tongues, Arabic, Persian and Hindi.

Language defines cultures, peoples, and societies. Everyone knows French is a very romantic speech and the French are quite so too. The language defines the people. With Urdu, it is the regard, respect, and esteem.

The inspiration behind my love for languages is my greatest teacher. He himself was quite fluent in as many as 4 speeches, Urdu, Arabic, Persian and English.

He is and ever will be.

I haven’t learned any languages myself nor will I learn in the foreseeable future. It is a task too huge for me. Withal, I would love to learn a new language – Persian, Arabic, and Japanese makes my list.

Language still remains the greatest invention ever. It permits me to learn about everything around me. The realities, the fiction, the comedies, the tragedies and the essence of being human, all of them reason enough to stuff my rack with more books. More words. More language.

P.S.: Today I am going, yet another time, to my personal little used-book store, Frankfurt. Hoping to buy some more book, hoping to get some more language onto my rack.

April 24, 2006

FP Biking

First Ever Video Post!

Here it is some nice First Person Biking experience. I took this with my cousin. There's one more like this, a bit more aggresive. Will post later.

P.S. You'll need some Flash power for this video.

April 15, 2006

The Milk of Human Unkindness

The editorial of today’s Deccan Chronicle Newspaper has quiet a nice little column by renowned author, Paulo Coelho. The Op-Ed page always has a Coelho column at least twice a week. The small column is only rivaled by the excellent Kushwant Singh write up, With Malice towards one and all, which is a Sunday exclusive.

Now, Coelho usually writes some homo-evangelic prose with a poetic twinge, today it was same but with a different perspective. Titled, The Milk of Human Unkindness, the write-up had something that reminded me of, once again, George Orwell’s 1984.

Coelho writes how this Norwegian company sent him three liters of their product that substitutes milk. The company says that scientists have found that “cow milk contains 59 active hormones, lots of fat, cholesterol, dioxins, bacterias and viruses”. The company’s product has its base in plants (cows get their calcium from plants), so you don’t have to use milk for Calcium. “Milk is condemned based on an endless number of studies carried out in a variety of institutes all over the world” says the product literature. All this points out that milk is not good for health. Coelho says that he tried a sip of this product that substitutes the killer milk and it was the foulest thing he ever tasted. As he writes about this he goes into how science and technology has changed us. How people who are now in their 50s used to drive in cars without seat belts or airbags, how children played on the back seat with no cradles or belts to bind them and how their cradles used to be colored bright that are now considered harmful because they contain lead or some chemical. Coelho says that maybe in the future scientists might convince us of the killer milk and ban it and contemplates will we have to get our milk from drug dealers?

The last single line of the column reminded me of the Proles from 1984. For the ignoramus, in the novel, 1984 by George Orwell, Proles are a community who are considered illiterate and live in the slummy part of the city. They live a life of ignorance and indulge in businesses like theft, prostitution and selling illegal items like shaving blades, pens, antiques and such. The milk and the drug dealer can be the perfect metaphor for the Proles. It reminds me of a future where a mere thing like buying milk will be treated as a drug deal.

Why is it that most scientific advances have more disadvantages? Every other product born out of scientific research has much to offer – faster, easier and eventually cheaper. It also offers us a lot of free time which we end up using other scientific products. The ease is great but it is making us, it is making me lazier than ever. A very few machines/technologies come to mind when we think “no side affects”. I’d like you to name some in your comments.

The future does seem bleak when you look through this perspective. Fifty years from now we may live up to be hundred. Fifty years from now we may have forgot the taste of a mere thing say, milk. I love technology. I crave all those gadgets I see over at engadget and hiptechblog. I am a man. It’s built into my DNA, to love gadgets. But I’d never want to see a future where I wouldn’t be able to drink my tea with milk. I’d never ever want to eat something that has come from a lab rather than a sprawling field. Hate is a very strong word. And I hate Organic food. It tastes like dust, and I’ve tasted dust on more than one occasion.

The future is bright. It will be. When you use a radiating nuclear powered light bulb it will be damn bright.

Why the Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth

April 07, 2006

Hapless in Hyderabad
or How I Stopped Worrying and Started to Write

The days were rocking slowly and the nights were short. The crappy speakers on the sideboards of the huge computer table were squeaking tinny sounds that heard something like Pearl Jam’s I am Mine. Some days are meant to be wretched. The daily weather ticker on a local website announced the temperature. 38 freaking Celsius. It also proclaimed Hyderabad was the hottest frying pan in the whole country on that day.

The 1984 vintage air cooler was blowing arid waves of torture in my direction. It was the year that I did nothing. And I perfectly know that the previous statement is crap because it is impossible to point out the year being pointed out. I push next on my playlist. Sting’s Fragile. This one at least complemented the weather, as in didn’t make you feel more humid. I put the song on repeat.

I have been hitting the return key for the past 10 minutes to register the results of a boring little program I wrote in PHP. I peered over the book in my lap. At this pace I would develop my dream project in about 10-12 years. I slammed the book shut and opened another. It was Kevin Sampson’s Awaydays, an excellent debut novel which would later encourage me to see Green Street Hooligans and read Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch.

Deeply immersed in good Scouse accent, football matches and gore I was thinking about the one thing I always think about when reading a book. I wish I could write. I wanted to write something. It could be anything, the only prerequisite was readers. It was a no-brainer that who would read my crap, no one. So there it was, always in my mind yet it never happened.

Rewind << I have written before.

My first real writing was a collaborative piece of work with my younger sister, Arshiya. I was 9 or maybe 10. It was a short story about this guy called Massey and how he meets this ghost who shows up every now and then. Just like today the story reflected a lot of what I’ve been reading or watching. Those were the days of sci-fi and space adventures. Massey, the protagonist of our story was actually a hero of another sci-fi book we were reading. Anyway, the joy of writing a full story was great, but it was read by only two people, me and Arshiya. We both happened to be the only creative minds in the house.

I close Awaydays.

I think again, of writing about my life. In thinking I come up with the idea of writing about “years” past. I also come up with the format - Yearly or half-yearly set of events written under the title of a song much heard in that part of the year. And so I keep this idea in my mind and so it came to be.


I write them now as I have thought it out. I have stopped worrying who would read. I still am the only creative mind in my friend circle, the only one holding creativity in high esteem. At home everything remains the same too. Still I am going to write. I will write as unbiased and as truthful an account as I can or want to. I will also take the pain of offline-ing my friends who are now spread around the world, and tell them to read at least a single entry.

It is but hope that keeps the world running and the writers writing.

About the day described above, it was a summery day in March 2004 and today it is yet another summer day and the city has recorded the highest temperature in the country. I have just finished reading Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch and I am listening to Sting as I end this little write-up. And yes he is still on repeat.

P.S.: The 7 songs series is coming soon to this weblog or a feed reader near you.

P.P.S: Apart from the title and this Post-postscript the whole article is exactly 666 words. Coincidence or demonic intervention.

April 06, 2006

Is Design Political?

Last night while surfing del.icio.us for SXSWi 2006 I came over a link to CORE77. The content over at this website is quite interesting for designers in general. In the article archives I came across an article by Jennie Winhall, a Senior Design Strategist for RED. The article was titled “Is design political?

It is quite co-incidental that I am being quite political these days, with movies like Good night, and Good Luck and V for Vendetta and books like Orwell’s 1984 and Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, taking a good part of my time. I’ve actually been thinking of writing something about politics in context with movies or art in the main. The reason is largely the inspiring Ed Murrow talk I’ve been getting into lately.

But before I get into my small talk I’d prefer to previse that I personally do not have any political ideologies or preferences. I can’t have one. Basically every ideology sucks as much as the other, because there is no gauge to measure up or standardize political systems since the diversity is so varied. Everyone believes their ideology to be the best. So, can’t help. And moreover it’s all about perception. Perception is, I believe, the key to every philosophy and belief, political or not. And my perception is as good as yours.

But enough of my political-crap, the question remains is design political? We, as designers and artists, prepossess a singular ideology that design is a hell lot of expression. And with expression comes the idea of freedom of thought. And we designers believe that politics is way too different from the freedom-of-thought thing. We have this pre-conception that politics stand for everything uncreative or rather destructive. But as I read into what Jennie Winhall had to say I have come upon the other side of the answer.

Design is political. What comes to my mind to justify this sentence is a design/symbol.

The Swastika is an equilateral cross with its arms bend at right angles. For ages it has been used as holy symbol by the Hindus and Buddhists. It had no political outlook until it was adopted as the emblem of the Nazi Party in the twentieth century. The symbol came to be known in the western world during the Second World War. And all of a sudden a peaceful symbol had changed into a symbol that still invokes all kinds of emotions in various races. Swastika today symbolizes racism and fascism around the western world. Design here becomes political because it has become a symbol for a particular ideology, and a very ugly one at that.

When you are in India you’ll see the Swastika every so often. Hindus interpret it to a holy sign. As you move westward you’d rarely see a Swastika. Wearing or exhibiting a Swastika makes you stand out and gives out a wrong impression because it is interpreted in totally different manner. Design depends on a lot of interpretation. How you interpret design is totally your outlook. Calling design “political” works in the same way. It works just as political ideologies work all over the world. For a communist communalism works best. An American feels proud of its democracy, although the world knows how dumb their leader is right now. And an Indian is content with any politician who delivers.

April 05, 2006

Quaking on 10240 x 3072

Surfing around on the Hip Tech Blog I came over this awesome article about these guys at Virginia Tech’s GigaPixel Facility. They linked up 24 LCD monitors each running at 1280 x 1024. Now that's truly huge. Go ahead and check it out.

Quoting Authors Vol. 2

April 03, 2006

Worn Out Moll

Beautiful. Awesome. Inspiring. Cameron Moll has redesigned his portfolio in all its worn out glory. I can't say anything. I can't think of anything. I have been staring at the design for hours. Checking and re-checking every now and then. Why the f*** can't I do this?

The color works out so beautifully and perfectly accentuates small details. The sidebar is awesome-ly done. The signature worn is excellent. The best part is that the design is not a bit hard on the eyes, even with so much dark color. Great work.

P.S: Those Self-Promo Business Cards are so worth having. Shame on you Cameron, you disgusting self promoter.

Quoting Authors Vol. 1

“What I want is to be needed. What I need is to be indispensable to somebody. Who I need is somebody that will eat up all my free time, my ego, my attention. Somebody addicted to me. A mutual addiction.” - Chuck Palahniuk