So I'm sure all of you know by now how much I hate shopping! And, as luck would have it, I had to go out for that dreadful task yesterday evening! [gulppp]
Thankfully, a friend came to my rescue by agreeing to go with me. She stays in my building, just one floor below me. So she called me on the intercom at a quarter to 4, and asked me how much longer I needed. I said 15 minutes. So she told me that she would be ready and that I should just ring her doorbell on my way down. I said fine and hung up.
And then I got ready, locked the balcony doors, made a mental checklist of what all I needed, checked the money in my purse, flung it on my shoulder, walked out of my flat, locked the door behind me, and took the stairs down... still running the checklist in my mind.
The moment I reached the landing on the ground floor, and was about to turn left to make my way to the main gate of our building, this little cat decided to cross my way. I thought "Oh nothing to worry, it isn't a black cat that lives here... it's a brown one!"
So I turned around, and managed to catch sight of the cat seconds before it went out of my visibility range. Guess what! It was a black cat!
I stopped dead in my track. They say that it's unlucky if a black cat crosses your way, and that you should turn back and retrace your steps. But I'm not a superstitious person, you know. I don't believe in all these things. But obviously the cat wouldn't have any way of knowing this, right.
Besides, do these superstitions NOT apply to non-believers? I had no idea. So I wasn't quite sure what to do next.
I looked around, trying to figure out if anyone else had seen the cat crossing my path. I figured if someone had seen the incident, then probably their superstitions would apply, in which case I would have to go back. But, if nobody had seen this happening, other than me, then I would just go on and get done with my shopping. And then it hit me...
MY FRIEND !!!
I was supposed to pick her on my way down! Oops!
(Now you have to understand here that all this flashed through my mind in less than a second!)
And then I realized that the poor black kitty wasn't bringing anyone bad luck. On the contrary, it actually did me a favor by crossing my path at that precise moment. For had it not done so, I would have coolly walked out of the building, still juggling mentally with my shopping list, while my friend would have been left waiting for me to show up!
[Still shaking my head in disbelief]
Friday, August 20, 2010
So I'm sure all of you know by now how much I hate shopping! And, as luck would have it, I had to go out for that dreadful task yesterday evening! [gulppp]
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
I had absolutely no idea that I would enjoy working on Kadzilla's Lounge so much!
So many people are discovering newer ways of expressing their creativity on that eZine... it's amazing!
Shobhit suddenly found a new hobby - making cartoons!
And Sinduja (she is the sister of Pujitha) also decided to venture into blog-writing. The Lounge features her experiences with Yoga this time. I hope we'll soon witness the birth of her own personal blog.
In fact, even my sister (Founder Partner & Design Director of Spaces Talk Architecture) is writing regularly for the eZine now, and she used to think that writing is for the aliens exclusively!
Then we have "Just a Pen in My Hand", who finally decided to shed the garb of anonymity and shine as himself - Avishek!
I mean, why not guys? If we are creative, if we are writing something wonderful on our blogs that so many people appreciate, then why not take the credit for it? Why not acknowledge our own special talent?
As for me... well creating the eZine has brought a hoard of surprises along the way for me! I had no idea I could even launch this thing on my own! And without any prior experience in graphics design, I had no idea I could make the logos etc. for all the categories!
But it's amazing! So many ideas flooding my mind... regarding what all we could do with this magazine! Of course, it's still at an infant stage - just 2 issues old. And there's so much I still need to learn. But it's fun! It has given a completely free rein to my creative mind (read: Right Brain)!
I got to know so much about domains and sub-domains, CSS, and even custom emails! Ha ha ha! You guys can also mail me now at "kaddu @ kadzilla.com"! Yes, the "Kaddu" is completely official now! :D
The thing is that there is truly no limit to what we can do, if we just dare to venture out of our "nest" for a while! :D
Thursday, August 12, 2010
WeBlog! A name that quite a few of you are acquainted with, I’m sure. They were all over Facebook last month, sending add requests to all the bloggers they could find, days before their site even went online! With promises of bringing some kind of revolution in the Blogosphere and asking everyone to “get registered” with them ASAP, they eventually went alive with just a blog to show (probably hosted on blogger from the kind of template they had), and a “.co.cc” free domain! (Personally, I think even ‘blogspot’ looks better than ‘.co.cc’ in the URL!)
So anyways, I guess I have some inbuilt warning system. The kind of over-aggressive marketing strategy they used in their Fan Page reminded me of all those innumerable scam pages claiming to give away FREE FarmVille stuff!
Moreover, they were asking all the bloggers to submit their blog links, so they could select “a few lucky ones” for an interview on their site, which did not even exist till then!!! And the amazing thing was that people actually signed up for this! I mean, are we all so desperate for fame that we’d even love to be interviewed by a non-entity? WeBlog had no existence at that time other than their newly created Fan Page on Facebook! And yet people were eager to be interviewed by them!
So anyways, they got a lot of following because of the interview stint, and eventually went online with a handful of interviews to display on their .co.cc blog! And in exchange, they had over 700 naïve bloggers linking back to their site through their forced “registration” process! 700 bloggers linking to a site that offered nothing useful to them in return!
“Oh but it did! They ‘blog-rolled’ us in return!”
Well, just for information, that kind of blog-rolling doesn’t really add any value to your Page Rank. On the contrary, that kind of irrelevant linking can actually create a negative impact on your PR. They are not maintaining a proper blog directory on WeBlog, the way IndiBlogger, Blogadda, BlogRama etc. do. It’s just a list of several hundred links in their sidebar, unrelated to each other in any context. That kind of link resource actually comes under “Link Farming”, or in simpler terms, “Link Stuffing”, and Google strictly hates it! In fact, most search engine algorithms will penalize you for linking to such a “link farm”!
But, if you are like me, who doesn’t really care much about PR, but would just like to have more readers visit your site, then also, such a “link farm” is of no use to you. Tell me honestly, would *you* scroll through a list of several hundred links that aren’t sorted in any order or category, to find a blog that you might like to visit? Not really. So how do you except any of the other visitors on that apparent “link farm” to find your link from the hay stack and visit your blog? Kind of illogical, isn’t it?
Anyways, right after the interview, they came up with a Sleepy Sunday Contest. I thought maybe they might have something up their sleeve after all. Even though their start was pretty shabby! So I left a comment on their contest announcement post, asking about the prize. IndiBlogger, BlogAdda etc. always declare the prizes at the time of *announcing* their contests. Well, I never got a reply to my comment.
Ahh but the main thing -- coming to their slogan now: “We Socialize! We Win! We Care!” That’s what their logo says. And they have kept up this charade of creating a “useful community for bloggers” since their inception. But there is so much discrepancy in their words and actions!
When I was about to start Kadzilla's Lounge, I had left a message in various blog forums, asking bloggers of specific categories to write to me if they’d like to contribute. Clearly, such an interaction is solely for the benefit of the blogger community. And any entity proclaiming to “Care” for bloggers would recognize its benefits for the bloggers, and encourage it with full support. But WeBlog actually banned me from their page instead! Just for posting a notice, that a certain category of bloggers could showcase their work on a new ezine if they wanted to!
Here, take a look at this screenshot… Vignesh asks for some advice, and, like Paul, I also gave him some general tips. You can see his “thanks” to my tips (the 2nd last comment from the bottom), but you cannot see my comment, can you? That’s because I have been banned from the page. I took this screenshot from my Dad’s account actually; in my own account, I don’t even see the comment box at the bottom.
Those of you who read my review of IndiBlogger would know that IndiCops also misunderstood initially, and removed my post from their forum, but when I wrote to Renie, he cleared it up within minutes and re-activated my thread. But WeBlog! Haahh! They even blocked me from their personal account “Web Logger”, so that I couldn’t send them a message directly! And then they say that they “Socialize”, that they “Care”!
Well not a problem! I have a total of six accounts on FaceBook, for sending gifts in FarmVille you know! So I logged in from Dad’s account, took the screen shot pasted above, and then left this comment, and took a screen shot of this too…
Now, if it had been a mistake on their part, they would have most certainly tried to get back in touch with me ASAP, by sending me a direct message or by commenting on this post! But no! They went ahead and banned Dad’s account too, just like I’d expected! Here, see this third screen shot… Dad’s post should have come after Punit Dubey’s post, but it’s not there!
And they say that they “Socialize”, they “Care”??? Maybe the meaning of these words has changed since I last checked a dictionary (which was just a few minutes ago, by the way)! I really don’t know.
Anyways, I honestly have no clue why they’ve singled ME out of all the 700+ odd people! And it’s not even just the above mentioned incident, but it’s like they’ve been following my page on FB right from the day I created it!
When I created the FB page for Kadzilla’s Lounge, I disabled link-posting by non-admins to avoid spam. Their page had allowed it originally, but the very next day when I visited it, I found it disabled there too! Could have been a coincidence, no doubt.
Then after our first issue went live, I made a post on our page’s wall about the slideshow giving problems, and that I would be replacing it with a different code. Guess what! Next time I visited their site to check on the contest announcement post, they had a slideshow there! Most certainly another coincidence, right? :D
And then I made this post on our FB page that everybody could start sending in their contributions for the next issue. Haah! And they immediately came up with their “Featured Post” adaptation of it! So many coincidences! Amazing! In fact, our minds seem to work so alike, I’m actually beginning to wonder if somebody made a clone of me when I was born… or if I lost a twin-sibling in the Kumbh Mela! Naah! My Dad just denied both the possibilities.
So then, what do I do now? I still have 4 other accounts on FaceBook that are not yet banned by them. [Gives an evil grin… and a wink to go with it!] But frankly, I don’t have time, and besides, I couldn’t care less about what they do. This post had to be published because bloggers had to be made aware of the difference between good linkbacks and bad linkbacks.
If WeBlog is so insecure about their own capabilities and skills, that they have to resort to “eliminating” deemed competition (???), then I wonder how long they will last anyway!
In fact, the most amazing thing in the entire episode is that they feel insecure of Kadzilla’s Lounge! Haah! Insecure of a student’s project in web design! Wow! I guess I should feel honored, right? Well, perhaps I would have been, if they’d simply left a “nice work there” on the Lounge’s page, instead of banning me!
Oh anyways, this post turned out to be longer than I’d originally intended! So I’ll just end it on this famous tag line of Sprite: “Dhikawe pe mat jao, apni akkal lagao!”
And by the way, I’ll be doing a proper review (with both ‘cons’ and ‘pros’) on WeBlog in the up-coming issue of Kadzilla’s Lounge. We have an exclusive section in our “Review Bench” for such crappy experiences! (Ok, sometimes there are exceptionally good experiences also that we can blog about.)
Also, this incident made me realize that the magazine needed a section exclusively for bloggers, to make blogging a more enriching and rewarding experience for them. For that reason, Kadzilla's Lounge will be starting a new section from the coming issue – “Blogosphere”. So stay tuned… the next issue coming up on August 15th! And I have to rush now to tend to my farm… :P
Thursday, August 5, 2010
'Ye desh hai vir jawaanon kaa, albelon kaa mastaanon kaa Is desh kaa yaaron Hoye!! Is desh kaa yaaron kyaa kahanaa, Ye desh hai duniyaa kaa gahanaa'.
BlogAdda, in its latest contest for Bloggers, “Proud to be an Indian” (http://blog.blogadda.com/2010/08/04/mera-bharat-mahan-india-shining-proud), asks us if we can still rightly sing this passion-inspiring composition of 1957. Standing at the threshold of our 64th year of Independence, does this song still evoke the same patriotic feeling? Do we still feel - 'Mera Bharat Mahan'?
In order to answer their questions, we need to first ponder over another thought: Are we really independent yet? How much freedom do we have…
As Citizens of India?
- We are still fighting among ourselves (North Indians Vs. South Indians, Manoos Vs. Biharis)
- Passports, IT Refunds, or any other work from a government department, still requires payment of adequate bribes first.
- Judiciary system is practically non-existent in the country!
- Inter-caste/inter-religion marriages are still a taboo in most sections of our country.
As females of India?
- Female infanticide is still being practiced, even by well-educated families.
We are still forbidden to enter any places of worship during our menstrual periods. In fact, a lot of families still forbid us to enter our own kitchen during those days… treating us like some sort of untouchables!
Domestic responsibilities are still imposed on us from a very young age. For example, if guests come over, parents will still ask their daughters to bring water /make tea for them, even if they have a son who is elder than her, or even if she is studying for her Math test the next day and he is just playing NFS on his PC!
Weaker sections of the society (such as our domestic help) still send only the male children to school, while the girls either take care of the house or start working at a very early age with their mothers.
Picture Credit: National Geographic
Don’t really need to say much on this topic, as Aamir Khan has already covered a lot in his recent movies – Taare Zameen Par and 3 Idiots. But, the current education system in India is actually stifling the creativity of children, by laying so much stress on high marks. As a friend rightly said long ago – "Indians are busy churning out a bunch of left-brainers"!
As just a human being in India?
- The peer pressure, the rat race, the need-to-buy-a-plasma-TV-because-XYZ-also-has-one!
- The inhumanly long working hours in MNCs, the 6-day work culture!
- The negativity-spreading advertising (you can’t get a job if you aren’t fair!)
Apparently, we still don't have much freedom! We are still very much bound by the chains of our own social systems and our regressive mindsets!
But, Change Is Happening!
Thankfully though, the Wheels of Change are in motion. Slowly, but, surely, we Indians are heading towards growth and development.
- Online filing of Income Tax returns
- Online registration of real estate properties and various other online services
- CCTV coverage of Bengaluru for Traffic Control
- Various women & child welfare programs of the government, such as “Anganwadi”
TV shows like SaReGaMaPa, Dance India Dance, and India’s Got Talent, which promote creative professions.
Healthier advertising, like Surf Excel’s “Daag achche hain” campaign, promoting more humanitarian aspects of sharing and bonding!
And at an individual level, we see more and more Indians speaking up for their rights now, through various mediums on the internet, including blogging.
Females constitute a much larger percentage of the Indian Workforce now than say just ten years ago.
- Entrepreneurs are coming up, even young ones in the age group of 16-25.
All these are just a few of the countless small steps taken towards the right direction.
How to Be a Change Maker?
Coming back to the song now...
Yes, this nation is still the home of powerful youth, slightly eccentric and definitely weird! But, we need to channel our combined strength towards causes more worthwhile than getting our National Flag in a virtual farm!
In our own small ways, we all can be a change maker and lead India towards a future as glorious as its past!
By speaking up for ourselves, speaking up against wrong, by exploring and expressing our creativity, and encouraging others to do the same, and by letting everyone, especially kids, be who they really are, we can all pave the way towards a truly independent India!
So that one day in the future, we can say it aloud, with full conviction…
“Mera Bharat Mahan”!
Each one of us is special…
Each one of us is meant to shine…
And the day we make that happen,
We’ll see India shining proud!
Be a Change Maker @ Kadzilla's Lounge
I have taken one step forward towards creating this reality. Now it’s your turn.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Alright folks! Time to update you about what all I've been up to during my long absence from this place! And no Roshmi, I haven't been sneaking off to do those rounds around the holy fire! [wink] Your dearest darling 'miss_teerious' has been busy preparing her new avatar... 'KADZILLA' !!! :D
First, let me introduce you all to "Kadzilla's Villa" (http://www.kadzilla.com/)...
What started off as a small website to practice and sharpen my Java/SQL skills, eventually took the shape of "Kadzilla's Villa"! Many a sleepless nights have I spent in deciding what to showcase on this website... until, finally, FarmVille came to my rescue! (Apparently, this game is not as useless as some people seem to believe!)
The wise have said that "like attracts like"... and that's exactly what happened with FarmVille and "Kadzilla's Villa". The immense amount of creativity surging through something as trivial as a virtual farm unleashed the creative forces within me too! And the result was this blog networking website, that would not only allow me to practice and showcase my web development skills, but, also serve some actual purpose out there on the 'www' -- a live project with practical utilization, rather than just a useless amateur production occupying web space!
Unfortunately though, the idea of all that extra social interaction freaked me out! So I started looking for excuses to procrastinate! In short, the design part of the site is ready, but I still need to add functionality to it. I seriously doubt that is going to happen within the next two months, but, hey... I don't really know myself too well yet! :D
Anyways, moving on to "Kadzilla's Lounge" now...
This 'common room' of the "Villa" -- an e-zine for the bloggers -- was originally meant to be launched as a team effort, back in April 2010, under a different name, along with three other bloggers. But, the so-called "team" was a disaster from Day One! Not all partnerships are meant to survive you see. We learnt our lesson too! The team split, they decided to go with a completely new look & theme, and I couldn't bear to see all my hard work go down the drain. So I decided to re-launch the e-zine with a different intention altogether.
As you can see, I have tried and tested a lot of CSS and designing stuff on "Kadzilla's Lounge"... including all those logos on the main page. Yes, they are all made by 'yours truly'! :p (Didn't I just tell you that FarmVille brought to surface my latent creative talent?) And this e-zine, along with the Villa, will now occupy the prime place in my online portfolio - "
Kasin's Online" " Kadzilla's eStudio" "Kasin Websoft".
So there folks... enough of ranting about my professional (ad)ventures! Please accept my formal apologies for suddenly going off the grid without any information. As you can see now, I went off for a good cause.
And please also consider this post as a formal invitation to join Kadzilla's Lounge. I hope that you all will show the same love to 'Kadzilla' as you did to 'miss_teerious'! :D Please DO let me know of any bugs you find, and also of any scope for technical improvements. Although Harshit and Shobhit have already been slogging away at it for the last few days! Thank you guys... rest assured that I will continue to bug you in future too! :D