A User’s Guide to Instant Messengers – I

It looks like a long time I posted last .. I was in a hectic schedule and thats it .. Anyway, I have decided to write about Instant Messengers this time, After my reviews of Yahoo Messenger and Msn Messenger, I got some very good responses .. So I start about Instant messengers, comparing the features of Yahoo Messenger and Msn Messenger , what I like and dislike in them .. I will conclude in the second part in which I’ll write what I want to have in the Instant Messenger of my choice .. So here we go ..

A preliminary

 

The instant messeging has been around for quite a long time now. What started with Unix’s chat program and slowly matured into IRC and then ICQ, was soon to become big business. I wont talk about the Irc’s history or how it matured but come straight to point .. The instant messenger users can be
classified into two types.. First, who are new to instant messeging, or email or the Internet itself and the second one who have been here for a long time . ..
The first type of people- who have just found out chatrooms, take pleasure in chatting in open chatrooms … Where they meet new people, befriend them, flirt with them, flame them and et all .. They are in process of increasing their contacts over the net .. Now the second type , since they’ve been around for some time now, they have many contacts on their lists .. Most of the time when they come online, they talk to their contacts and create closed chatrooms where the participants are invited and not everyone can join .. They may occasionally goto the open chatrooms for time pass but more often this is the case ..
My journey with Internet started long time ago .. Those days they had Yahoo’s Java chat and a program called Cheetah Chat for people not using Java chat .. As I enjoy chatting, my contact list soon grew big enough .. And now these days, for most of the time I am online, I am conversating with my existing friends and I seldom get time to goto chatrooms and flirt and all that .. So you see these closed chatrooms or just “Conferences” from here on (in YIM’s syntax) are as important as Open Chatrooms (Chatrooms from here on) …

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India stronger than China in long-term ..?

There was a recent article in news which stated some magazines saying India’s long term potential maybe greater than China’s .. I somewhy disagree .. Here’s why ..
Most of the observations in the report are based on the governing structure of China .. Whereas India is a democratic country, China has communism .. I believe that democracy is one of hindrance in development (Btw .. I am not a communist) .. Why ..? For the simplest of reason.. Consensus is not always right .. Its not always true that what majority of people believe must also be correct .. Another reason is that as a democratic state, India has to plan its economic policies on a so called “human face” .. The governments cant enforce strict economic policies all because they fear losing their electorate … So they have to deviate between people’s “welfare” and economic reforms .. Mind you its not always that both are mutually exclusive but most of the time they are ..

Now coming to second point .. The report states that China is facing a shrinking workforce due to one child policy .. And by mid century, India will have around 200 Million more workers than China .. Oh yeah .. Considering the rate of unemployment in India and low rate of literacy, this huge population will become a burden .. Having more population does not mean that you have more workers .. It mean you have to support more people … So if not the government gets serious about unemployment and illiteracy, we on the roads of doom … And btw .. I believe that making people self employed is much easier than creating jobs .. Although, they have taken some measures in this regard but they arent enough ..

The report further states that “China’s lack of innovation and its tendency to be wasteful” can be a major drawback in next couple of decades .. Did I hear “lack of innovation” ..? I remember reading about China having world’s biggest ethanol plant and is building another equally big .. China like most developing countries import oil for its consumption .. With the soaring prices and increasing dependibility, most countries are looking at alternate sources of energy .. Bio diesel is one of them .. While China is doing well in this regard, India (which has a strong potential with Jatropha) is on backfoot with it .. This lack of foresight isnt good for India …

Another thing is that while most of the people depending on agriculture for their living, but the contribution to GDP by agriculture is very low .. A reason for this India’s agriculture being dependent on monsoon .. So if monsoon fails, agriculture fails … So creating infrastructures so that farmers become less dependent on rains will be an optimum decision …

Anyways .. I dont disagree with everything in the report …. There are many things which are really a must read .. You can read it here

I conclude this with the last words of the article .. : What holds India back are red tape, rigid labor laws, and its inability to build infrastructure fast enough. With Beijing now pushing software and pledging intellectual property rights protection, some Indians fret design work will shift to China to be closer to factories.
Food for thought …?

Recommendations for amendments to IT Act 2000

While taking classes for Ecommerce, I read the Information Technology Act 2000 of India. It was a nice first step to recognize and support electronic commerce and ebusiness for Govt. of India .. But with the recent developments in IT field, the Act is missing some points. .. I try to point out those and I believe that these should be heard ..
A disclaimer : I am not a lawyer so I cant argue on legal fine points..

Conception :
The President of India signed and approved the Information Technology Act (IT Act) on 9 June 2000. It’s a fine piece of legilslation which recognize digital signature and ebusiness.. It also supports e governance. But many things have changed since then and it is needed to accommodate those changes in the IT Act.. These are some of my humble findings :..

Expansion scope :
      With the technology and communication boom, the mobile phones have quickly made their presence inevitable in today’s life. While the IT Act ‘s definition of computers can accommodate mobile phones too, but I still think making explicit declaration of mobile phones and handhelds to be covered under this act will be fine. .. So the offences involving mobile phones be also covered under this act… So if any case happens like Paris Hilton’s cellphone hack, it could also be covered with this act. ..

The need for Anti Spam policies :
      With email and sms becoming such popular, unsolicited mails and sms have also grown rapidly .. We should make an anti spam law apropos CanSpam Act which will ensure that these unsolicited mails or sms are dealt with .. There should be a national “Do not email” and “Do not call” registry and the address listed there shouldn’t be sent spam emails or sms …

The need for Privacy policies :
      With camera phones becoming more common, events like Kareena & Shahid kissing video mms will increase too .. Now without getting into voyeurism debate, I would like to point out the digital aspect of the problem. Any information can be distributed or shared over the Internet without the concerned parties being unknown… More people downloaded the clip from Mid Day website than people who read that particular issue of the tabloid… This was a complete breach of privacy and a new Privacy Act should be devised.. It should also cover digital privacy so that the netizens can have the right to control their personal data — who uses them and how ..

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The Abolition of Entrance Tests — Boon or Bane ..?

Umm.. A Sunday looks good after a hectic week .. I aint getting much time these days as I am doing this lecturership .. Anyways .. Here we go ..

The recent announcement of doing away with Common Entrance tests for admission in Professional Courses by Tamil Nadu has rose many questions .. According to the new system, the admissions in professional courses will be made solely on the basis of performance in Plus Two exams and reservation system ..

Who will benefit ..?
   According to Ms Jayalalitha, it is aimed at benefitting students from rural areas. .. As the students from rural areas are unable to attend coaching classes which are specifically focussed on entrance exams, it will play as a levelling system .. Also as now students will have to concentrate only on their exams only, it will reduce the stress from both the students and their parents …

What can be the problems ..?
   The first thing that comes to mind is what will they do when there are many students with same marks ..? How will they decide the gradings then ..? Another problem is with CBSE students.. as the CBSE and local board have different systems, there must be a system that will correlate the performance of CBSE students with local board students ..
   Earlier students used to take a year drop for preparing for entrance exams but as now there will be no entrance exams, the students will have get only one chance in their board exams as there will be no grade improvement exams ..

So ..? Will it help or make the system worse ..?
   Umm… As most of the problems that arise are related to grading system, it will need immediate improvements .. When the student’s apprehension are removed, most of the people will consider the system favorably .. I myself liked the idea .. Cauz these entrance exams make students so much stressful .. Their concentration is diverted between board exams and entrance exams .. And entrance coaching centers have grown like mushrooms who have made this their business .. When there will be no entrance exams, the students will concentrate on their school syllabus .. This is the main point of the system .. What are we encouraging ..? These coaching centres teaches “tricks” to solve the questions in less time .. Most of the time, they focus only on sections of syllabus that are considered “scoring” .. This results in students who knows 100 formulas but dont know the basics of the subjects .. Getting rid of entrance exams will surely help in students taking more interest in the curriculam studies .. But there should be grading improvement exams too .. When you are putting so much on one exam, there can be chances when some unfortunate thing happen and student not performing well in the exam .. So it will be a lost chance for him .. If there will be grading improvement then they can try again …

I hope more States follow the lead and accept this system .. It will help reduce the stress burden from both students and their parents .. And it will give more credit to school exams too ..

Right to Information … Is it sufficient ..?

Hmm.. The Right to Information (RTI) bill was passed at last in the parliament .. I was following it since NAC recommended to modify the Freedom of Information Act 2002 … Now that it has been cleared let us have a close look at the act .. its features .. and its flaws …

   What is it actually ?
      Under this act, the people now have a legal right to access information in the form of files, reports and data about the government’s proceedings enabling them to question the government..The RTI act introduces Central Information Commission which is an independent appellate authority which will have the Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition on its appointment committee.. It will appoint Chief Information Commissioner and 10 Information Commissioners on the lines of Election Commission. There will be an Assistant Information officer for each department who will act as a bridge between people and the departments. The officers who fail to provide or delay the information will have to pay the penalty as a portion of his own salary .If he gives wrong information, there is another fine … People can have access to any record or document with an exemption of matters of national security .. The people living in rural or remote areas wont have to come to state capitals to get the information they want .. They will have to approach their local municipal authorities as Block Development offices to get the information they want.. So far it all looks good…

   How will it help ..?
      The biggest problem in our country is corruption .. Corruption stays because there is a lack of accountability and transparency in the government and bureaucracy … Lack of accessibility is another problem .. This right will strike on the roots of these problems .. And while as the concerned officer will be fined on a per day basis, there will be pressure on him to gather the information required in due time ..

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I nabbed Al Qaeda ..!!

Hmm… Come summer and its the season of mangoes everywhere .. Now you will be thinking what Al Qaeda has to do with mangoes ..? Yup … they have something indeed… Well .. this boring Sunday noon reminds me of an incident that took place two years ago ..

      My Dad … always wanting to have lots of greenaries in our garden, has grown so much plants and shrubs and whatnots in our yard .. Among them is a big tree of mango .. I suspect it was planted all because of his sheer liking of the fruit but thats another story … It was planted when we moved to this place .. thats some 14 years ago .. and now its a big tree and it produce fruit every year .. And with every crop of unripe mangoes, come a lot of children – all having lots of stones in their hands … Trying to get their hands on mangoes .. they stone the poor tree whole day ..They run when I yell at them .. I say heck .. that stone just landed near my solar panel … And these children .. they hide when they hear the door opening .. they just vanish as the sky was raining the stones .. Its all because of their gurilla tactics we named them Al Qaeda … Afghanistan invasion was a hot news topic those days so Al Qaeda was a buzzword .. So there were these Al Qaeda people .. attacking the tree … and vanishing when I try to catch any of them ..

      Usually they didnt come on holidays as they knew I was around and didnt want to get caught .. But some desperate guys dared to attack on Sundays too .. This anecdote is about one of them .. It was a Sunday noon like this .. I was getting bored with watching news so decided to check the surroundings from the terrace .. When I reached the terrace I heard small whispers in our backyard (The mango tree is in backyard) .. Hehe . … Al Qaeda guys .. I grinned .. Time to catch them .. So I decided to have a peek .. I saw through the branches .. there were two of them .. Hiding against the neighbor’s wall … They threw stones and waited for any response . .. And then collected the mangoes when they saw nobody is watching them .. Grr .. I have to catch them … So I descended and walked out of my house and take a long turn to reach the backside of our neighbours .. The kids were busy collecting stones for their next attack .. I slowly advanced towards them and when I was real close one of them saw me .. “Bhaagoo ..!!” He yelled .. and both of them started running in different directions .. “You can’t ..!!” I heard myself yelling …
 
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