Wednesday, October 31, 2007

1-Star, Anyone?

Yesterday, I was talking to a fellow blogger friend about his blogging experiences. He is an aspiring writer with a pretty decent writing style (and a good sense of humour), and has contributed a piece or two to magazines (that I know of). He looks to blogging as a medium to improve his writing. So, I was very surprised when he suggested he was very demotivated, and was thinking of shutting down his blog.

When I asked why, he told me that this was because of the feedback he was getting. He has a gadget for ranking on his blog (rather like the stars I have in left sidebar), and there are some 15-20 people who have managed to put him down in the last 20% on quality.

He told me he was planning to take down the gadget, as he felt it was not a nice advertisement for his blog that so many people feel his blog is so bad. I told him he cannot do that. That is like taking away freedom of expression of his visitors, and as we all know, you cannot do that. In today's world, every person should be able to say how he feels about everything, for it is their right.

Secondly, he is not the one who is clicking on that gadget (at least, I assumed that in the interest of fairness). So all his shouting was like a kid who is not allowed to vote, ranting against the elected leaders in democracy. i.e. completely pointless.

What really got his goat was that none of those people wrote any comments or criticise him, which would help him improve his writing. I told him that he should be thankful that people took time from whichever site they frequent, to let other viewers know how they feel about his site. And he cannot expect them to take more time off to write him any comments. Because although it is the viewers' right to give him feedback, it is not their responsibility.

His other option was to stop writing the blog completely. I told him he should do that, because if so many people think he is not good, does he really believe that he can improve given time and practise? But then, if he continues writing, I would respect that too, if only for his stubbornness.

And now that the markets have spoken (in the words of US Presidential candidate Stephen Colbert), I am wondering whether I should stop visiting my friend's (well, he is more of an acquaint., to be precise) blog, even though I like his writing.

But that also prompted me to think about how we give feedback to somebody. In today's fast paced world, if you can rank somebody on a scale of 1-5 by just a click, is there any point writing any comments and giving any "constructive" criticism? Isn't constructive criticism an oxymoron anyway?

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

P.S. In the interest of security (mine), some of the facts of this case might have been changed. I would suggest you not to go around hunting in my blogroll looking for the subject of this post.

Quote of The Day:
Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.
- Christopher Hampton

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Power of 5

a.k.a. 5 Things meme

Nikichan tagged me on Sunday, and I could not get around to finishing it because I was a bit busy this week. Now that the week is almost over, I though I should take up the meme before I forget this week (or at least, I try to).

So, here goes:

5 Things Found in My Room (let me talk about my current room, and not my room at home in Pune):

  1. My bag: containing all my clothes. At least all those which are not lying around on top of the bag.

  2. My Laptop: can I live without this? And more to the point, how do you think I am posting all this?

  3. A shelf with some great books: surprised? You must be new here.

  4. A pile of letters and papers: I need to sort them out. Hopefully sometime soon.

  5. A bed: Contrary to what you may believe, I do sleep at night. Sometimes in the afternoons too.

5 Things Found in My Bag (I don't carry a bag, being housebound. But when I carried a college bag):
  1. My laptop: It was needed in the college, if not always in the class.

  2. My laptop charger: How long do you thing the laptop battery last?

  3. My iPod: Though to be fair, it did spend time in my bag only when I was in class.

  4. A notebook or two: I am still a bit old-school. And it is often hard to write formulae on computer, not to mention drawing figures (technical ones).

  5. A abundance of pens: I like to experiment, and I like to try new pens. And the office had new type of pen every month or so, it seems.

5 Things Found in My Wallet (that reminds me, I need to get a new one):
  1. Cash: Well, wallets are for that purpose, right?

  2. Coins: particularly, pennies. No matter how hard I try, I am a coin magnet.

  3. Cards: Identity cards (note the plural), not credit cards or business cards. Though I have one or two of credit variety.

  4. A ticket stub: Of some movie I saw sometime in the past. Did I tell you I need to clean my wallet up?

  5. Come on, I am not so rich to carry 5 or more types of things in my wallet.

So, how many of these did you expect? And what else were you expecting? (Yes you, you dirty mind...)

Now it's time to pass on the meme (and hopefully, uncover some secrets like we did with Nikichan):
  1. Sid (You share a room, right? That should be interesting...)

  2. Silverine (The newly minted manager. Do you have a cabin now? But we are more interested in the "other" room.)

  3. Princess Stefania (you can choose the room, the bag and the wallet you most like from your palace and collection.)

  4. Madhavi (I guess it is time she got out of alphabets, and learnt some numbers right?)

  5. Once again, I find myself short-changed. Do you want to take this up? Then leave a comment so we can enjoy.

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

P.S. Now you can get follow-up comments e-mailed to you. Just check the comments page in Blogger, and you can make sure you receive the replies to your comment, and come back and participate regularly in discussion.

Quote of The Day:

A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course to victory.
- Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha

Friday, October 19, 2007

Me Do Science...

Sometimes I feel, I haven't given full justice to my new status as a "Master" of science (note the capitals please). Also, I don't think I harp enough on the fact that my IQ puts me in the Genius region.

But you should know that although you don't read about it, doesn't mean that I don't have a science lab at my home.

Just to give you an example, remember how you feel when a fly thinks he/she is Maverick and uses your ears as control tower1? Well, I am sure during the afternoon nap, the irritation factor goes up tenfold. Now, a normal person would have gotten out of bed and tried to shoo away the fly. The benevolent scientist that I am, I decided to invent something to catch flies.

I envisioned some kind of adhesive polymer2 which only sticks to flies, and which will engulf them enough to impede their fast flight. Being a systematic person, I set off checking the items off my list.

First off, I got my mad-scientist laugh ready for when I finished my invention, and my shy-scientist smile for when I would accept the numerous awards and felicitations. Then I started listing all the ingredients, and started planning the experiments.

First on my list: find which substance sticks to a fly, and not tangle in the user's hair. That's when I realised, I had gotten myself into kind of "recipe for rabbit-stew"3 position. There was only one fly available there, and it was zooming around my head.

At this point, the programmer in me saw a big infinite look looming ahead, and aborted the whole program.

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

1. i.e. buzz around your ear. Come on, you didn't get that Top Gun reference? What kind of movies have you been watching?
2. Read: sticky webby substance.
3. You know the one I am talking about, right? The one which starts (or rather, should start) with "Catch a rabbit"...

Quote of The Day:

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny ...'
- Isaac Asimov (1920 - 1992)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Studio 14

What do you do when you find yourself going from a nightmare into a weird dream in half-sleep? If you are anything like me, you write a story from that:

"Hello, and welcome to tonight's episode of Studio 14 on the Nightmare Street. A short history before we commence our show: As you probably know, this is the longest running show in the history of the network. The Studio we are sitting in right now, is the studio the show is shot in from the start. It was named after the show, and of course, it's content.

In a few minutes, the show will start in the sets in front of you. Each week, we normally record material worth around 2 and half hours. As those who have seen the show before know, your nightmares can be anything from ugly, slashing monsters, dangerous places to something as innocuous as rejection from your near and dear ones. Of course, as you might have noticed, one's nightmare is often another's comedy, so there is something for each of you in the show. And everybody has his favourite, or should I say nightmarish, bits.

Right behind you, that door on the ground floor leads to the writers' room. All the writers would be sitting in their chairs praying right about now, because as the writers in the audience can tell, the nightmare scenario for them is normally not getting the response they want from the audience.

Now you can see our director is in his room and the executive producers are standing on the balcony looking anxious. That is our cue to start the show. We have a great show lined up for you tonight. Thank you for coming out here, and hope you are ready to be spooked."

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

P.S. The title is a reference to a show whose early demise I am still mourning.

P.P.S. Find my other attempts of writing "original fiction" here.

Quote of The Day:

Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.
- Edgar Allan Poe (1809 - 1849), "Eleonora"

Thursday, October 11, 2007

That "Gedanke" Part Chapter I

Today's Chapter: "Inspired" Thoughts

You start a blog, and name it "Random Thoughts". You start writing, and after some time find that the thinking is becoming a bit too structured, and there is no place for "random" thoughts any more on your blog.

So, here's a place where I dump all those titbits and one-liners (which I came up with during my endless net-surfing and intermittent TV) which wouldn't have made it on their own:

  • Kusum recently blogged about the lesson she learnt on the first day of school: "Let Sleeping dogs lie". What she forgot to mention is that this is the motto of the sister school of Hogwarts, the one for muggles and squibs.

  • The review of "Mrityunjaya" on Lazy Habits was picked up by some blog directories. Among "Related Posts" were posts about Rakhi Sawant. Mahabharat and Rakhi Sawant... Can you think of more unrelated topics?

  • Things I learnt from watching ads: in 1940s, a part of your annual car insurance would pay for a home in Beverly Hills. Either insurance rates have gone down a lot or real estate is getting way expensive.

  • Where do ghosts get their powers? Why should the ghost of a person killed by falling weight be killing others by burning them (either that or electrocution through hand)? Where's the justice in that? Or is it just for sadistic pleasure of the ghost? In which case, I need to ask again, where's the justice in that?

  • A lot has been written about the guys who write captions (subtitles) for hindi movies, making makhna into buttercup and so on. But their cousins in closed-captioning jobs are no less entertaining. How else can you explain the line I read during recent telecast of EPL? "Two girls in EPL for XYZ this season". As if we didn't know how football players "score".

  • Ever wonder how Shahrukh Khan's sister would look like (well, I know everybody has seen the forward thousand times till now, but still)? Ever wonder who would be cast in the remake of "Duplicate" with elements of "Twelfth Night" mixed in? Wonder no more... (Picture picked from an ad in local newspaper)

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

Quote of The Day:

This is my answer to the gap between ideas and action - I will write it out.
- Hortense Calisher

Monday, October 08, 2007

नभः स्पृशं दीप्तम्।

The Indian Air Force celebrates the 75th Anniversary of its inception today.

Starting with six officers and four Westland Wapiti IIA biplanes, the IAF has come a long way. With exceptional men piloting and maintaining the machines, IAF has frequently proven its superiority even over more advanced machines. In today's world where the supremacy of airspace is important, IAF is led in its quest for latest technology by air superiority fighters like Su-30MKI and multi role combat aircrafts like MiG-29 and Mirage 2000.

With Tejas replacing the mainstay of IAF (and the cause of many a controversies) MiG-21 by 2010, and possible development of fifth-generation of fighters with Russia, as well as indigenous MCA, IAF is set to continue defend India's airspace for years to come, as they have admirably done till date.

Here's to heroes in the air from an ex-NCC cadet (Air Wing) and a flight-sim fan (not to mention a Su-30 fan).

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

P.S. Interestingly, this also marks 75 published posts on this blog.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Rs. 3,97,48,000 Question #3.5

When I asked the last in my series of thought-provoking questions about technology and showing off, all the female commenters told me how girls like to think long term and so on. And talking for my sub-species was only me, so thanks all male bloggers...

But the post is not about how I should expect Oscar for that real-life rendition of Stan Laurel in "Block-Heads" (which is another example of life imitating art I have found in last month or so). The post is a corollary to my earlier question.

I have found in my research that all the thoughts of long term, getting value for money and so on in female brain come to nought when it comes to... fashion.

All those girls who tell boys off for showing off latest cellphone or laptop are ready on one leg to show off latest dresses or shoes. Indeed, I have examples of girls bemoaning pleasant weather as it does not allow them to show off their newest leather jacket, and girls talking endlessly about a shade of a lipstick from a particular company. So, today's question to ponder is for all the girls out there:

Where does the "rational female brain" go when it comes to shopping for dress? How is the tale of how you got the best bike different than how you survived the shoe sale at the mall? Aren't boys better because at least, they don't drag off their girlfriends to shop for gadgets?

Girls can head over directly to add comments now. Seriously, there's nothing of interest for you coming up.

Now, a chance to redemption for all boys out there reading this:
"Rational female brain"? How many of you are still coherent despite the laughter? Then try the last two questions I asked the girls.

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

P.S. For other such questions, see Q.1 , Q.2 and Q.3.

P.P.S. The demands of real world this week meant that I cannot give full justice to the announcement I promised. Sorry...

Quote of The Day:

Fashion is something that goes in one year and out the other.
- Unknown