Facebook: Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

Let’s face it: Facebook is a drug. Once you’re hooked, it’s hard to leave. But recently, it’s become a huge mess with N customizations and features. I’d give up Facebook gladly if I could. Really. When a friend recently announced that he’d completely deleted his account, I was the only one who envied him with all my heart. Oh, what a free life he would lead! No more updates, e-mails, stupid tags and obligatory friendships! The only reason why I am still sticking on is for the 2 pages that I run. One, the PESIT Photography Club page (I don’t really “run” it anymore as the other members have taken over it – for which I am very glad and thankful for, but I’m curious to see what’s happening, etc) and the other of course- the START magazine page. It is important to have a regular audience for any initiative to be recognized. It would be very difficult to spread word about every new issue and updates without it.

Facebook (or any other social networking website for that matter) can be used wisely if you know how to take advantage of it and not get sucked into it’s mesmerizing stalky behavior. The best thing I did was to disable my wall and tagged photos. I also disabled anyone from tagging me in images and posts. This reduced the number of spam e-mails and kept my personal life intact to an extent. Now, I get to share whatever I want with only a certain set of people. It has also been much of a pain with plagiarism and other issues. I’ve had some person use my photo as her profile pic (O__o) and she simply refused to take it down. Reporting the profile/photo didn’t help either.

In today’s times, I feel it is important to get your work recognized among your peers and seniors. How else would anyone select you to take photographs for their cultural event? Or, how else would anyone get to know that you won the first place in debate and invite you to their marketing team? How else would anyone offer to collaborate with you in their future project? It is also one of the easiest (and free) medium to communicate with people – all at once. I could easily get in touch with folks working on a project similar to mine and interact with them through messages. It is necessary to know where to draw the line though, and to realize that it is what you make of it instead of what you give to it. So yeah. I could go on and on but you get the point.

P.S. – I participated in a debate regarding Facebook last semester in college- most of the points here are taken from it. This was written randomly after I saw the f8 conference. It would be interesting to see how the world evolves with Facebook. And people’s reactions are always priceless! I’d like to be the silent watcher of the future events. 

interesting untranslatable words

I came home soon from college today. I see no point in sitting aimlessly in a class where the teacher announces that he is in “no mood to teach today” and that we must stay in class and “do some studious work” :-|

Anyway, I’ve found a list of some interesting untranslatable words that I thought I’d share with y’all. It’s interesting how there is a word to express an emotion or a situation in a foreign language but not in our own. List of – Yes, there’s actually a word for it!!: 

  • Ya’aburnee, of Arabic origin, meaning “you bury me”. It is used to express the hope that one will die before another person as it would be difficult to live without them.
  • Saudade, of Portuguese origin, referring to the feeling of longing for someone or something loved, but also lost.
  • Mamihlapinatapai, Yagan (of Tierra del Fuego), used to describe the wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start.
  • Cafuné, Brazilian Portuguese, tenderly running your fingers through someone’s hair.
  • Wabi-Sabi, Japanese. “A way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay.”
  • Duende, Spanish, the mysterious power that a work of art has to deeply move a person.
  • Toska, Russian. “No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases, it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into boredom.”
  • Tartle, – The act of hestitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name.
  • DépaysementFrench – The feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country.

not an insomniac anymore

My sleeping routine is fucked and it is annoying the hell out of me.

I use to be a night owl (I would like to think that I still am to an extent) but these days, I can’t have a peaceful day without having slept for hours the previous night. The excess load work has taken a toll on me, leading to increasing stress levels that forces my mind to switch to a mute mode for hours at very odd times. A couple of hours back (at noon), I fell asleep working on my project report. Within minutes, I was woken up by nonstop chirping crows, noisy neighbors and roaring auto rickshaws on the street and it irritated the hell out of me. I was unable to get back to my peaceful trans-state and my head started thumping (it’s still aching by the way). My day is now ruined completely. I won’t be able to do any work until the head ache goes away. This will now affect my time schedule for the rest of the day and maybe even tomorrow. I may even have to miss a couple of classes to finish off all the pending work. Just thinking about all of this is causing more anxiety!!

I don’t think I can handle multitasking and getting involved in many things at a time any more. I deserve a peaceful uncomplicated life……………and I still need that sleep!

Basic PowerPoint étiquette for teachers.

Today, I was blinded by large comic sans typeface and pixelated photographs for almost an hour in class. The teachers are getting more “tech-savvy” these days and adapting new methods for teaching (or they do it just to complete the syllabus on time). They get too excited and dump in large diagrams flicked directly from university websites (without mentioning the source) and are happy to just read from the slides than teach by themselves. I think it is my duty to respectfully (ahem) point out some basic powerpoint design etiquette to all the teachers (who’re still in the transformation stages) out there.

Dear teachers, believe it or not, a simplistic direct PPT does work quite effectively on students. No need to exaggerate content just because you have an open digital medium that let’s you do many number of things that traditional methods usually don’t.

  • First and the foremost -use decent or plain backgrounds for slides! I know that you get excited seeing many grunge textures and punk pattern templates that microsoft offers, but please refrain from using them against non-elementary reaction flowcharts and kinetics data analysis equations.
  • Please, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD – avoid comic sans. Looks like it is your second favorite font after Times New Roman.
  • Use fonts that are simple and clear to read – preferably sans serifs. Keep the typefaces & size consistent throughout the presentation.
  • Learn color basics (It’s not too late to learn something that doesn’t pertain to your course work. We students learn a lot of non-study related things everyday and it kind of makes us much smarter in the real world). Red on brown, Ink blue on black, yellow on bright orange, etc (you get the drift) will eventually lead to some kind of disorder of vision. Plus, you don’t want us to go blind for the later half of the day.
  • If you want me to cite references in my project report, I want you to credit the photographs/illustrations/diagrams in your power point presentation as well. This is a personal thing, but I’d respect you a lot more if you did.
  • Don’t use animation/transitions on texts! I really don’t want to see words rumbling and rolling all over the place while reading about atomic force microscopy or something. Save the animations for demonstrating real experimental processes instead.
  • 6 x 7 rule – No more than 6 lines per slide and no more than 7 words per line. Use bullets and short-hand writing (consisting of keywords only). We really don’t want to see tons of textbook material copy-pasted on the slides :-|
  • Why oh why, did you type EVERYTHING IN CAPITAL LETTERS?
  • Make lists. We all like reading lists that are progressive and lead us to a final result.
  • Clipboard is not your toy house! Ok.
  • I prefer (personally) if the subject and topic name is mentioned in the footer of every slide. Helps me stick to the theme and not drift away after a couple of slides.
  • Important words could be in a different color.
Finally, make use of this tool only to guide you in teaching. Don’t read everything directly from it and use it as a main source of teaching material. Some teachers just cannot proceed if the projector konks off in the middle of a class! They go blank and call every helper in the building to make it work to resume teaching. This shows how dependent they are on an external support than themselves. Finally, ask students for help. No harm in it.
.

“kya maal lagti hai yaar”

It has been 2 years in college and I have still not got the hang of being in a 70% male-dominated group. I have been around guys before, yes, but this time it is a very different experience – the one that I am still not accustomed to. Precisely, 90% of the guys in the group are from different parts of the country and that is what is contributing many differences. What bewildered me at first was their attitude towards girls. I am not a hardcore feminist or anything, but I think when you are 20 years into experiencing the world, that too in an environment like this, there ought to be some respect towards people of the opposite gender. Referring to a girl as ‘maal‘ and other words that are way beyond my comprehension level. I usually pretend to ignore such random comments (and prefer venting out my feelings here instead :|). I have been told that it is very common for guys to talk or behave like this, but what I cannot understand is how can they be cool with behaving this way right in front of other girls? As far as I have noticed, the other 2 girls don’t seem to be bothered about these kind of remarks (sometimes, they even encourage them – which is astonishing). This is not the kind of environment I have been raised in over the past years. In my school, boys and girls did go around and everything – but it was always clean, cheerful and decent. There was no use of abusive language and indecent behavior. The vibe that I felt there was different. I din’t have to be conscious in their company. I am not generalizing, but purely speaking from experience. Every day in college, I hear a series of cheap words and gaalis being used proudly in a single sentence. They seem to perceive women as “objects” that they can comment on in groups whenever they feel like.

Letting my feelings out, and writing about all this, I remember once a random friend from college asking me how I could tolerate to be in such a company and how “miss-fit” I must be feeling. The real answer to the question is- to be honest, these guys are my friends and have always been nice to me. They have never been rude or spoken cheaply to me. I wonder why can’t this attitude prevail for other girls too? Why can’t they be more open minded about the world and not come off as desperate wannabes? This is not really a north indian boys vs south indian boys thing. I’m sure there are all kinds of men in every region of the world.

a random life update that i hope will help me put things into perspective.

Ok, so where do I begin? It has been 3 weeks since college reopened and it seems like forever already. It was exciting at first, and I was really looking forward to some of the courses we have this semester (like bioinformatics and genetic engineering) but the classes have turned out to be another set of the have-a-blank-face-and-disappear-into-dreamland kind. The only course that I am still enthusiastic about is the 2 credit special topic subject. Each one of us gets to pick up a topic and carry out an extensive research by reading different journals and publications. In the end, there is going to be a presentation in front of an external examiner and we are even asked to write a critic report on one of the papers. I chose the topic “Human-machine interface” as I’m looking out for more opportunities in the inter-disciplinary fields for the future. It’s a non-pure biology subject and needs to have equal knowledge about technology and biology. More on this topic later, as I wish to write about brain-computer interfaces (with references to the movie matrix of course :P) and etcetera.

I began reading ‘The selfish gene‘ by Richard Dawkins and have started to feel the early signs of depression for my/general human existence. We are all machines driven by selfish genes after-all! I was heavily influenced and intrigued by Dawkins’ talks and lectures a couple of months back. Though I am not an atheist or anything, I find his ideologies and theories quite brave and acceptable in today’s times. It is one thing to have faith in a super power (or in yourself) and a different thing to place yourself in a religious category to satisfy society. After reading a couple of chapters, I find evolutionary biologists leading quite a mysterious life-on-the -edge where half of the world perceives you to be non-existent. Talking about scientific writing, I have come across a number of frequently updated interesting science blogs whose links I’ve put up on my blogroll.

Coming to the other part of my life – photography/art. Okay, I’ve attended WAY too many photo walks in the last month that I’ve now lost track of all the images in different memory cards. After the Avenue Road shoot, I went to Srirangapatna along with my BPW friends. It was one whole day of exploration of the small town along with history lessons. More on that later. Next, there was a photo walk in lalbagh (yes, again) with the folks from PIXELS, the photography club of my college. Then there was the KR Market shoot (yes, again!) with the same folks again – this time, along with the juniors! The thing is, every time I go with a different set of people so it’s quite difficult to refuse to them! Ugh. Anyway, it was all fun and every time I visit the same place, I find something new and end up have a completely different experience.

Delhi vs Bangalore is steadily progressing. Nidhi and I have very interesting conversations and I’ve realized that we actually have a lot of things in common. Not the 2 cities, but us too! We have many posts lined up for the future and are constantly exploring different ideas and ways to make it more interesting. It is not a very hard-core photography project. It is about the 2 cities and more importantly, it is about how we – the 2 girls – perceive it to be. The best part about it is that we are learning so much from each other – behind the scene – than what we are offering the viewers.

Issue 7 of START is in progress. It was supposed to be out last month, but due to my traveling and busy schedule, it’s scheduled to be released on/by September 20’th. This time, there is some exciting news about the magazine!! I’m not sure if Im allowed to reveal everything, but let me just say this – I am not the only person working on it this time! Let’s see how everything goes, I have my fingers crossed. Also, the early stages of entrepreneurship has a fair share of fear & excitement. I’m nervous and sometimes question my decisions. At the same time, I don’t want to play safe all the time and not know how it feels to be taking risks in life. 10 years from now, I don’t want to sit in a cubicle in an air conditioned office, with a 9 to 5 job-and ask myself – “what if i had..?