Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Happy Birthday Dear Internet

Vint Cerf's baby is baby is growing and how! Google today muscles through 20 petabytes of data every single day. The 10 billion user photos shared on Facebook take up in excess of 1 petabyte of storage space. German upload giant Rapidshare, declared way back in in April 2008 that it had 240 Gbps of allowable bandwidth and 5.4 petabytes of usable disk space. Memory no doubt is getting cheaper. The cost per gigabyte of data has dropped over the last decade from $31 in April '99 to a measly $0.17 today for the new Maxtor 1.5 TB disk. Fact is, as storage becomes cheaper and internet penetration and bandwidth available the world over soars, the internet growth curve will only get steeper. Even the gurus of internet today can't tell us what the 'size of the internet'(keeping aside the ambiguity of the term) maybe.

ethernet port2009 marks the 40 birthday of the internet. Applause! Its been 40 remarkable years since its conception as Defence and Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA's ARPANET. What is more interesting is how the web has matured from mere telnet and gophers to e-mails and to the current day cloud of social networking sites, wikis, portals, blogs and a gazillion other types of websites I'm unfamiliar with. So much so that search engines, thought of by everyone during the founding days of Google as a ridiculous and whacky concept, have today become an absolute necessity to find your needle in this ever growing haystack. Those of us who have been up there since the 90s will know how much things have transformed, right down to the narrowest of alleys of the world wide web. What has changed among other things is the language used. The chat lingo ushered in by the onslaught of IMs and IRC aside, the language of the common man's website is becoming more liberal. Enter Web 2.0.

If you're the kind of person who thinks people ought to be more specific when they're using the term mail to refer to snail mail or if you'd come running to your keyboard to google for "fonegrs struxk siperglye" rather than simply calling up your doc or you just think all mail ids are Gmail ids until mentioned otherwise, then in all likelihood you already have an inkling of what I'm talking about. Gone are the days when websites sounded as if they had been designed to be read by bots. In the early days of the net, it was funky to sound technical and sophisticated. Maybe even adding a hint of credibility during the early days of Web 1.0 and dot-com bubble later on. Ironical as it may sound, the world wide web come a full circle and we're back to where we started from.

A little touch of warmth always help, especially on a login page. That's someplace to start. login

Then there are the sign up forms that's we've all filled by the dozens. If you were to sign up on Digg, you'd be getting (much) more than what you'd ask for. After all why make signing up so cumbersome and mundane?

How can one fail to mention the nagging captcha. I've always hated captchas... All but this one.

Digg just doesn't sieze to amuse me!

Websites today don't treat you like a just-another-brick-in-the-wall-client who likes to tip toe into their office, be done with the business and just walk out the front door. Website are invariably getting more user-centric.

I can't think of a better example than Google. Their 'Official Google Blog' couldn't have been more unofficial. The Gmail team appears to enjoy discussing what's cooking in their cauldron as much as they enjoy delivering it. They tell you what the employees were doing during the holidays and share pics with you on their blog. Google shares its life and culture with you, as if you're one of them. They love to hear from you all the time on the Groups - be it your woes or your likes. Could you imagine that a decade ago? I wouldn't be surprised if Google itself was responsible for the institution of this culture. I'm all too glad that Google happened. I believe that the worst of disasters was averted the day Microsoft's attempt to merge with Google in the October of 2003 failed. If that deal had materialized, we'd probably be purchasing annual subscriptions to get organic search results and still be using a search engine that hanged every few minutes - very much unlike the Microsoft Live! that you see today.

To call it a day, my heart sings for Web 2.0! Life without it would be like watching a movie in black and white -everything is out there, but there's still something missing. Something significant that's leaving a lot of the fun out. Well you get the picture. Here is the disclaimer from's blog to wind it all up.

"Everything here is copyrighted by and the author of the respective article. Beware, our lawyers are stiff-lipped limeys without any sense of humour. And we have an office watch-moose!"

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Madhugiri Trek

Route to MadhugiriStarting Point: Bangalore
Destination: Madhugiri Fort
Date: 11th April '09
Distance: 250kms (Both ways)
Route: Bangalore - Dobbaspet - Koratagere - Madhugiri
Conveyance: Bike
Approx Cost: Rs.200 per head
Trek Pics: Madhugiri Trek

Madhugiri is a smallish town situated 100kms north of Bangalore in a geography dotted with numerous hillocks.Madhugiri Fort On the hill closest to the heart of the city sits this ancient fort constructed in the year 1601. Madhugiri betta has long been believed to be Asia's biggest monolith. Plan cleverly and you could also do any of Siddarabetta, Devarayana Durga or Chennarayanadurga as well.

The Plan
If its a weekend escape from Bangalore that you're looking at then to make the most of Madhugiri, drive there in your car or even better, your bike in the evening and embark on a night trek. I'm very particular about the night trek plans because the journey from Bangalore takes you almost 3 hours. So even if you leave early on a Saturday morning, by the time you hit the top it'll be high noon and the sun will bake the cookies out of you. Its far from fun and plain silly.


Madhugiri at nightInstead enjoy a leisurely night trek and wake up to a feast of a sunrise. And when you're at it be sure your plans are in sync Chandamama's itinerary else things could get slightly ugly. With ample moonlight the trek is a breeze; quite literally so. Without the sun threatening overhead, there's absolutely no rush to escape the agonizing heat. We took it real slow and completed our trek in 3 hours.

Getting there
The truth is that the 125km onward and return bike journey is what kills you back and legs. Even so, if you start in the evening from Bangalore, the ride gets pleasant once you leave the city - with the sun simmering down and the landscape slowly turning into a mix of fields and bushland with an occasional village or town accentuating human habitation. A full tank and a bunch of like minded fellow riders is all you need to enjoy the roads.
Take NH 4 (Tumkur Road) out of Bangalore and just ride on until you're at the Dobbaspet. The road having been constructed on a BOT basis is par excellence. Once at Dobbaspet take the road to the left of the flyover. This route will take you to Madhugiri via Koratagere. The sign overhead preceding the flyover is slightly misleading. The flyover will take you to Tumkur. Going to Madhugiri via Tumkur is longer by a good 10kms atleast. Dobbaspet is around 50kms from Bangalore. Its your gateway to the countryside and the ambiance thereafter is more vivid. You wouldn't want to ride at over 40kmph here. There are ample road signs all along.

The trek
Climbing MadhugiriThe fort is right next to the bus stand. There's a hotel there where you can help yourself to some food of extremely questionable hygiene. I highly recommend that you close you eyes or simply look away when the waiter brings water to your table.
The trek to the top takes less than 2 hours if its a night trek and maybe two and a half in broad daylight. Wear your favourite trekking shoes. A shoe offering good grip which you can count on, means you work is half done. The path is entirely rocky. In case your shoes are sloppy it'll make life that much more difficult for you.

The backsideThere nothing much to explore there. A lot of the natural historical beauty has been destroyed either by gross restoration work using mortar followed by a generous dash of whitewash or my hooligans lacking even an iota of civic sense. Everything apart from that is nice and beautiful. Once at the top may want to sleep on the roof of the building on the west side (back) of the main structure. But mind you, since the place is very breezy it will get chilly later in the night.

What to carry
You need not carry anything much actually. Just a little food, some water and a sleeping bag or a couple of blankets for the night will suffice.Sunrise as seen from the top of Madhugiri betta And of course torches if its a night trek. Your cams obviously go into your backpack without saying. Be sure to fill you fuel tanks when leaving B'lore. There are ample stations all along the way; but it leaves you with one less thing to worry about.
All said and done, plan what suits you best and get there and enjoy. Just keep one thing in mind - To leave the place just the way it was when you got there, and if possible better.

If there's anything else you want to know from me, just drop me a comment. A mail will do just as well. Cheers!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Wasted Talent

A mail landed in my inbox today morning. A spam mail - but as clean as a whistle. No wonder the spam filters couldn't get their hands onto it.

From : Elvis Jacob
I considered communicating to you through this medium believing that you will accept this offer in good faith. I am Elvis Jacob, the son of Jacob Lansana who lost his life on 22nd of December 2008, after a brief illness.
But the circumstance surrounding his death showed that he was poisoned as confirmed by the doctor. Before his death, he handed me over his will and the deposit information of the amount totalling 3.8 Million dollars which he deposited in a Finance house.
He told me that this money was meant for the development of his cocoa plantation and importing of machineries from his foreign partner in Europe for the development of the cocoa farm. So is not a drug or terrorist money. It is legal money.
My reason of contacting you is that according to his will, I cannot claim this money until I am 25yrs.
What I need from you is for you to stand as my foreign partner and receive this money and have it secure in your account in India until I come over to meet you. I will give you 10%. and you will also benefit from the investment. I took this brave decision because my uncles are after my life since their discovery that my late father willed all the money in my name.
I will give you further details as soon as I hear from you and how you can contact the bank director and open a direct communication with him as my foreign partner for the release and transferring of the fund into your account.
Elvis Jacob
Its surely a story way better than your typical "You have won a Sweepstakes lottery!!". Maybe its time he moved onto earning some white money from his weblog's Adsense.