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.”

Advertisements

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!

Fathom before forward! – A sneek peek into the world of chain letters.

Why do people forward irrelevant emails? A few reasons that I could gather –

  • No harm – There’s no harm in forwarding a simple email right?
  • Spreading knowledge – I’m doing a noble task of spreading knowledge to my fellow earthlings!
  • I don’t want to die – I’m scared I may die if I do not pass this onto ‘X’ people ASAP!
  • I want my soul mate to call/meet me – My soul mate will call me in the next 30 minutes if I forward this mail to X people.
  • I want to get rich – If I forward this message to ‘X’ people, a large corporation will pay me ‘X’ money!
  • A large company will pay… – A large company has promised to pay some unfortunate people ‘X’ money if I forward this mail!

Is Bill Gates an idiot to pay me to forward mails? If I could find my true love by just forwarding emails, doesn’t it make the love as meaningless as well? If I were to die because I failed to forward a mail, I don’t remember the number of times I must have died by now!

As of July 2010, Symantec reported that 92% of all emails were junk. Having cleared my Inbox of about 6000-odd unread forwarded messages, I began wondering if forwarded emails had any meaning or value.

Chain mails are not something new. Interestingly, chain mails in physical form existed even before the internet was born. (Apparently, a chain mail scam ran in Colorado way back in 1935.) Chain mail on the internet is much easier and cheaper – virtually free. With hundreds of free e-mail providers, cheap servers, and software created just for the purpose of sending such mails, it is easy to create a ‘scam’ in minutes and see it spread to thousands of people in a matter of hours.

Most of such mails carry wrong messages and trap thousands of gullible persons to spread it more. While this is happening, the message secretly attaches the sender’s reputation to it. For instance, you would tend to believe something because your teacher or uncle sent it to you. Here is an article that rightly says,

Perhaps the most subtle and powerful viral element of chain letters in email is the social proof that comes with many of them. Every time someone forwards one to his or her address book, another list of recipients and senders is attached to it, creating essentially a list of people who implicitly give authority to the message. If one person sends an email to another, the source may or may not be cited, and the sender’s reputation is the only real social authority the email carries, with a huge list of hundreds of others attached it, with popular viral emails, it suddenly appears that the message is common knowledge and the receiver is perhaps the only person left on the internet who wasn’t warned of the danger.

While, most often, these emails either leave you disappointed or fool you, they do not cause real harm. However subtle the implications might be, I have managed to list a few:

  • Time – Many of us receive such emails when at work. Reading forwarded mails silently eats away our time – seconds, to minutes, to hours.
  • Distraction – Chain mails prove to be a nuisance when you are working on something important and you open the mail thinking it is relevant.
  • Resources – The resources – memory, computing power and electricity that goes into transferring billions of unwanted emails everyday could be put to much better use!

I believe the internet can be a better place if people took time to investigate and verify if the mail that they were going to forward to many more people was true. A simple and easy method is to go to Snopes.com and search for the key words in the mail. Then forward the mail with the link to the Snopes page if the information is true. This way, the recipient will be sure of the authenticity of the email.

After you have verified the truth of the mail, one more check to perform is the how much your recipient would be interested/profited by your email. An easy way of finding out is to ask yourself:

  • Would the recipient be benefited from this mail?
  • Is the subject of the email within the area of study, expertise or interest of the recipient?

One general suggestion: Fathom before forward! 🙂

P.S: While I remember to have posted a false email on my blog, I have definitely learned my lesson, and hence this write up. This article might have helped me vent my irritation against chain mails, I hope there be a little reduction in the number of such mails I receive. 🙂

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! 😛

Slacking!

Slacker (n):

Someone who puts off doing things to the last minute, and when the last minutes comes, decides it wasn’t all that important anyways and forgets about it.

Yeah. Its hard for me to admit, but I’ve become a slacker of late. As I’ve been telling a lot of people, I was busy with nothing! And its true.

My routine for a day, of late, consisted of only the following:

1. World of Warcraft (My Blood Elf Paladin is Level 40 now! Yay! 😛 )
2. Supernatural (I watched all 3 seasons – 60 episodes of around 45 minute duration each, in 4 days!)
3. Watched loads of movies (Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, Batman Returns, Batman Begins, Bee Movie, Horton Hears A Who)

That must in a way explain why I was not blogging of late. This is mainly due to the lack of a routine all because of the holidays! Thankfully enough, with college beginning tomorrow, I hope things get into a rythm. 🙂

Nothing more to add today. Good day to everyone reading this, and also to the ones who are not. 🙂