Social media overdose

Of late, I was contemplating upon how I seem to have no time for the things I want to do. While I’m guilty of whiling away time playing games or watching TV, these are things that eat up my time consciously. But, even these activities do not seem to add up to all the time lost doing things I don’t even consider productive. And so, I have begun a hunt to track down those certain activities which are stealing my time.

All this may sound ridiculous – that’s how I felt at the beginning too. I discovered a trend in the way I assimilated/operated on information (mostly restricted to information on the internet). There are many ways in which I obtain information from the vastness of the internet. Many of these are not the direct source of the information but they are aggregates such as Google Reader Feedly, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, email newsletters, and the search giant Google itself.

In truth, my predicament is a direct result of the way in which I consumed information from these sources. Through Feedly, I found an effective way to subscribe to a website’s updates via RSS. This is perhaps the least distracting of all my methods. Because, here, I find just the content that I wish to read – no ads*, related articles, or “unwanted” links.

Email newsletters to an extent behave the same way. I receive regular updates from sources that I have subscribed to. And the new Gmail interface definitely helped reduce clutter in my inbox.

Google or any search engine, in general, is an opt-in method of looking for information. I go there only to find something I want to know more about. For instance, my most recent visit to Google was to find a solution to the annoying upgrade problem that Evernote has on windows!

Twitter is where I follow like-minded people and is where I get most of the information related to programming and technology. The good thing about twitter is if you followed the right people, you’ll get curated information that is worthy of reading. Not just the 140-character message, but also the links that are shared there.

Google+ hasn’t probably received the widespread adoption that Google has hoped for, but this has helped me in some way. Google+ is more like twitter. You add people to circles synonymous with following someone on twitter as opposed to adding a friend and being approved – like on Facebook. I mainly follow Android, Google related sources on G+.

And then there’s Facebook. Facebook is an unpaid, overly curious, seductive and yet unconcerned psychiatrist! It’s free. It accepts any bullshit you spew. It mesmerizes you to return to it often. And yet it remains distant to who you really are. In short, it is an extremely glorified shrink!

Unlike
It’s not you, it’s me.

Honestly, I do not have a problem with it. Like I said before, it has more to do with the way I process information than how Facebook is to be perceived – It is probably doing exactly what it was designed to do. And so, much of what can be found on Facebook is more opinionated and less informative. And I’ve had it! Here’s to a hiatus from Facebook – “I’m sorry dear. It’s not you, it’s me.”

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The anatomy of a fall!

Why do things fall? What makes them fall? Sir Isaac Newton gave us the answers a few hundred years ago! However, owing to the (not-so-recent) fall from my motorbike, I’ve been forced to think about the non-mathematical aspects of a fall. More specifically, the incident gave me an insight into what happens “during” a fall.

A fall is usually a two-step process – the loss of balance and a misplaced center of gravity.

The loss of balance usually occurs when in movement, we encounter an interruption to the controlled motion. When at rest, it is usually due to external factors – like a stool cracking under your weight.

A misplaced center of gravity is more an internal loss of bearings. As soon as the loss of balance occurs, our brain tries to correct it by altering our body’s center of gravity. If we are lucky, we manage to avoid the fall when our brain is successful. Many times though, our brain gives up after trying a bit and the body gives into the fall. This is when the mind goes into damage-control – trying to take the impact in a certain position or angle so as to avoid serious damage.

The coolest part of a fall (that I have experienced) is the time-shift that happens during the fall – everything slows down! Read on to know what happened!

That day, on my way back to office after a lunch outing, I was riding at about 60Kmph (~40Mph) while descending under a fly-over. I was riding behind (specifically a little towards the left) of an auto-rickshaw. The driver of the auto took a sharp right (as if to avoid something on his left). Once the auto shifted its line of motion, I saw what he tried to avoid – an ambulance parked right under the fly-over! Reacting, I applied my brakes, only to realize that there was sand on the road which I skid over. Thus began my fall. As soon as I realized I was losing my balance, time slowed down. My mind shifted to damage-control mode.

The first command my mind gave was to let go of the bike – which I did. The bike slid off and I got separated from the machine.

I was still sliding forward towards the parked ambulance. I thought it was probably due to the sand again – what can I do about that?

Next, I wondered what an irony it would be if I had hit the ambulance – would I be taken in the same ambulance to the hospital?

My thoughts were still racing – wow! This is cool!

I had recently bought a new mobile phone. I suddenly wondered if it could be damaged. I then realized I was falling onto my right side and my mobile was in my left pocket – so it should be safe!

By this time, I came to a sliding halt just a few inches shy of the hind tires of the ambulance. I stayed still for a few seconds. Time returned to its original speed. Though all this happened in a matter of about three seconds, it seemed a lot longer than that! Then, I slowly got up trying not to aggravate any injuries that I may have incurred. Thankfully, there weren’t any serious ones – except for a few bruises and torn clothes!

I got up and assessed the damage to my bike – it looked alright. By then, some passersby stopped and inquired if I was alright. One of them cursed the ambulance driver for such erratic parking and the BBMP for the sand on the road, then offered me some water, which I gladly accepted.

Soon after, I started my bike, went to a cloth store nearby, purchased new clothes and returned to office!

And after a long time…

Ever wondered how fast time flies? Its almost as if an hour isn’t 60 minutes anymore; and a day isn’t 24 hours! I think I’m experiencing a phenomenon that I call – “Time Crunch”. Time Crunch is a feeling where I just don’t have enough hours in a day. My days seem to have become smaller but in the broader view, its still ONE day that has gone by.

It feels like looking outside the window of a moving train; the trees that are closer, rocket past even before I can get a glance. However, the trees far off seem to chug along, before disappearing gradually. In parallel, minutes and hours whiz by before I know its gone. However, when I recline and look back at all the time that I have lived through, it seems so expansive. Sometimes, the feeling also associates with itself the guilt that so much time has gone by without any credible accomplishments. But I just have to suffice myself thinking all the time that has gone by was in preparation for something that has to be achieved in the time to come.

Since the new year, a lot of things have happened. Not many of much significant importance, but worth mentioning I guess. I upgraded my computer and its a faster, sleeker and a better machine now. But I miss my old PC! (Why do I get attached to ‘things’ so much?) My results were a pleasant surprise – I got 75.33%. 🙂 I’m using my dad’s Nokia N72 now and I’m happy that I have a camera (in the phone). Hopefully my posts will contain more photos from now on. Oh, dad bought a new phone – Nokia 7210 Supernova. He also bought a new scooter – Honda Activa (dark-cement-gray color)

Today, I wrote a post on Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) for DNTemple, met my friends, ate ice-cream and tried squatting a mosquito in vain! 😛

English – In my life

I love English for two reasons. One, because I can express myself better in it. And two, because its a funny language. Also, it is probably the only language whose speech accent changes every few hundred kilometers almost everywhere in the world. In India, it probably varies with every person!

I took to liking English early in my school days, when I was in the 4th Standard (about 10 years old). I have to thank my teachers for making the lessons that interesting to me. I remember my 4th Standard English teacher Mrs. Samyuktha Devi, who also taught us History in the 6th Standard. I have no clue where she is now. Only thing I know about her is that she moved to Australia. Then came Mrs. Shylaja; she was a very good teacher too. Taught us English in the 6th Standard. The real passion for writing developed in me when I was in the 9th Standard when Mrs. Chandrika Ravikumar was my teacher. She was amazing. She requested for a special hour every week from the then Headmistress (Mrs. Leelavathy Gururaj) called the creativity period. We got a chance to showcase our talents during that hour every week. A few sang songs, displayed paper craft and we even had a play that we performed within the classroom. Oh, that was a lot of fun!

I wrote poetry and stories and read it out loud to the class. The poem ‘The little soul‘ was the one I remember reading out to the class and getting praised for it. 😀 And then, the story was titled ‘Mysteries of Vreen’ – which was very much influenced by my reading of ‘Secrets of Droon’ by Tony Abbot. I used to write a little for every week and it was read out in the class. A few months later, (after my 9th Standard) I stopped writing it; I felt guilty of copying the idea from another story series. Anyways, it did help me write better.

I did write more poems; some silly ones. And when I was in my Pre-University college, I started the ‘Warriors of Might and Magic’ (title tentative) which is yet to be completed. There was also a few other short stories and essays I wrote – which I hope to put up on the blog sometime. And about the same time, I started this blog, which at first was a collection of jokes and e-mail forwards; so not much of creative writing involved. But since about 10 months (see archives), I have changed it to my personal blog. And ever since then, I’ve learned a lot about writing too.

And that’s the history of English in my life. If you have such histories, do share it in your blog, or comment here. I’m sure some of us who studied English as our secondary language would have. 🙂

The last minute guy

Pressure has a lot of negative effect on people. Some fight it successfully, while some bow down to its effects developing various problems with their career, relationships, and health. But me, I love pressure.

I’m most productive under pressure. I always do my best at the crunch of time, when its almost like a do-or-die situation. Having said that, it might not be a very good thing as it sounds. Like, most of the times, I don’t get started with many things until this time arrives. Things like studying; I open my books for a test when my friends would have finished studying everything once. Even though this is the case, I end up doing good in the tests (at least, most of the times).

I’m certainly not advocating this method of going about things in life to anyone. Because, every time I do well in a test after preparing so little for it, I tend to think how much more better I could have done if I had actually put in more efforts.

This behavior of mine gets my parents going at me. They get agitated at the very sight of me wasting time (at my PC or in front of the TV) on the eve of the exams. I guess after all these years, they have gotten used to it. My dad does question though: “Wonder how you get those marks in your exams; I bet you are cheating, aren’t you?”

What can I say to that? I give him a big smile. 🙂 <— Bigger than this!