Social Advertising, bah!

A lot has happened since I posted about Facebook Ads, in fact, Facebook themselves further developed their ad platform adding what is now called “Beacon,” Facebook Pages which allow businesses to create a page on Facebook to advertise from instead of using a profile and of course, Social Ads.

All of this is supposed to layer on another dimension to targeted advertising and make us want to click the ads.

Of course, a lot of privacy groups don’t think so. In fact,, an online advocacy group, has already started protests against Beacon even creating a Facebook group to petition against it.

I don’t have very good feelings about social advertising, especially as Facebook is implementing it. Since even if Beacon were to go away, the Social Ads part of Facebook appears mixed up with your news feed. This is as bad as Google’s text link ads which can appear unobtrusively in a blog post or article you’re reading.

Another annoying social ad is people using Twitter streams to advertise. And doing it badly.

Case in point? Saawariya, a Bollywood movie decides to create a twitter stream. All well and good, but how does it publicise it? By following all the Indian users on Twitter. This doesn’t mean they follow the Twitter stream back, but when someone goes to the Saawariya stream and hits the “With Others” link, it shows you the Saawariya updates along with public updates from all the people Saawariya is following! So while your updates may have been public, you probably didn’t know that so many people could see your updates, huh?



This is going to be a post filled with me griping about random things in my life. You have been warned. Stop reading now!

I’m very irritated with how lazy I can be. Laundry piles up at home because I keep putting it off. I also own a bunch of clothes and other crap that I don’t use but I’ve not got around to getting rid off! All of this contributes to how grubby my apartment is beginning to look and I get annoyed with that too.

I’m annoyed with the company that employs me because even though I was supposed to be appraised and given a raise in April that’s been put off for more than 4 months now. While the appraisal itself happened in July, I’m still waiting for the promised raise.

The knock on effect of not getting my raise means I’m still living frugally and have to keep putting off the purchase of “luxuries” like new sheets for my bed or bookcase for my books. My books continue to languish in boxes or just lie around gathering dust which makes me very very irritated!

I also want a new laptop, my HP Pavilion is 5 years old, has no working battery, 1 or 2 broken keys, USB ports that are loose and wiggly and a power port that is loose and needs to held in place just right or it will turn off. Amazingly enough, the hard disk which is just over 4 years old is going strong, my speakers still work well and the screen is still in good shape after I replaced the backlight about 2 years ago.

I seem to be back in the “loner” mode that I was in for year or so in 2002-2003 but I don’t feel too bad about it this time. While people still tell me its weird to go watch a movie on my own or sit at a coffee shop reading a book, I’m perfectly happy doing that. What’s so weird about doing things on your own anyway??

I’ve have so many other things to grumble about, but I’m running out of time now. Bah! That’s worth a grumble too!

Uncategorized – Second day

Most people dashed off for the beach party at the end of the first day, but somehow the thought of a large bunch of nerdy boys and a lot of alcohol was not terribly tempting and so I just went to my friend’s home for a quiet dinner of pizza, chicken wings and vodka! That was followed by general catching up with my friend and yakking on into the night. (When he was not whispering over the phone with his girlfriend!)

All of which meant that I woke up late on Sunday morning and so missed the first session at on Corporate Blogging. Apparently I didn’t miss much since I popped into the IRC channel caught a bit of the presentations on the live webcast.

By the time I got to Tidel Park, that session was winding down and the next scheduled session was the talk by Sunil Gavaskar and followed by Robert Scoble‘s live webcast.

Mr. Gavaskar’s talk was very measured and accompanied by a general hush around the entire hall. Only the flashes and clicks of cameras broke that silence. In fact, sitting at my table at the back of the room, it seemed like a surreal, choreographed performance as people glided fowarded, clicked a photo and glided back while Mr. Gavaskar talked in clear, slow tones about his experience with pod-casting, being in the commentary box and possibilities for blogging in the commercial sports world. While he didn’t say anything revolutionary either about the technology or the technique of blogging and podcasting it was nevertheless interesting to hear his take on things.

One of the bloggers at the conference made a rough transcription of his talk. You can read that here.

What seemed like a perfectly organised half an hour with Mr. Gavaskar was followed by a completely chaotic and pointless couple of hours as they tried to get Robert Scoble up on screen. Since apparently there was a while to go before he could come online, a couple of other guys filled with some talks. When it was finally time for Scoble to go on, numerous technical hitches held things up.

Now, I didn’t care to listen to the man, so I would have been perfectly happy to go sit in another session except there wasn’t any other going on! All the guys who should have been hard at work making sure that other stuff went on as scheduled were too busy waiting to worship at the altar of Scoble! I even heard one nerdy kid say to another, “Scoble is the King, da!!” It took a lot of strength to not burst out laughing at that!

What this meant was that the session that was to start in the other room on Community, Languages and Bridges was delayed inordinately until each speaker in that session got barely 5-6 minutes to speak!

Oh, Scoble did go online finally and wittered on about God knows what. He also pitched for PodTech India, but oh well, who cares? I was busy eating lunch and catching up with other bloggers who weren’t particularly interested in Scobleizing themselves.

The Community session was interesting with a fairly wide variety of talks. If only there was more time for discussion on those! Aparna Ray of newsmericks fame spoke on the difficulties of blogging in her native language and in characteristic style ended with a limerick!

Back in the auditorium, some twit read an interminable speech. Apparently he was a local journalist. At the time I sat there gritting my teeth and wondering why the guy couldn’t have just put that damn thing online somewhere and tell us all to go read it. Apparently he did have the whole bloody speech on his blog, but still insisted on reading it out!

The last session was the most interesting one of BlogCamp and probably one that witnessed the most participation. Kiruba, Peter and Dina lead a discussion loosely on the responsibilities of writing in a public medium.


Stars twinkle only in western skies!

The state of Madhya Pradesh is on such a determined “anti-western” drive, that they’ve decided to remove nursery rhymes like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “Baa Baa Black Sheep” from the text books of primary schools.

Funnily, it’s not been explained what is implicitly western in these rhymes other than the fact that they’re in English.

Over at Reuters’ Oddly Enough, the state Education Minister is being quoted as saying:

We want our children to have value education in local color


Wipe your feet, please.

I might as well have that written on my head the way people just walk all over me!


How terrorists win

Bangalore, the city my parents live in, was shocked on the 28th of this month. A man brandishing an assault rifle fired indiscriminately on scientists attending a conference at the J.N. Tata Auditorium, across the road from the Indian Institute of Science(IISc). One scientist was killed and at least three others injured. Later investigations also found that grenades were hurled too, but luckily one didn’t have its pin removed and the other didn’t explode. Obviously the number of people killed/injured would have been more if either or both of them exploded.

This is the first time that something like this has happened in Bangalore. Two days later, it still isn’t clear what was the motivation behind the attack, nor which group, if any, was responsible for it. The police only today have released a sketch of the man based on accounts from some of the injured. There is still some uncertainty about whether there were more than one attacker and how he/they made their escape. On the day of the attack it was reported that he/they got away in a white Ambassador car. Now it appears that there may not have been any car involved.

In the aftermath of that incident, various threats have been received apparently by fax, threatening celebrations at hotels on New Year’s Eve, the Chief Minister’s residence and even a mediocre college named Oxford College (completely unrelated to the UK University.) Obviously the police have to take such threats seriously and investigate but what silly is when people start locking themselves in their homes refusing to go out because they are scared. Noises are made about how the security at the IISc is terrible. I was really happy to see Dr. Balram, the director of the IISc, come on national TV this morning and say that the very purpose of an academic institution will be defeated if it is turned into a fortress. He did agree that perhaps institutes need to be more alert, but did not think that a lockdown is needed.

Which brings me to the point I want to make. How do terrorists win? Killing a random individual is hardly going to make a difference to a nation. They win when they succeed in terrorising people. If a bomb is exploded in a market before a busy festival season and people stop celebrating or shopping, they win. When people are afraid to go on living their normal lives, they win. Sure, we need to worry a little more and be a little more careful, but locking ourselves up doesn’t work. Terrorists shouldn’t be given that satisfaction.


Taking a few steps backward

It’s bad enough that non-issues are used for publicity and even taken to court, now even Ministers of the Union Government decide they should tell us about sexual mores!

The whole Khusboo incident (read a bit about it at Kate’s blog) has been blown so hugely out of proportion its not funny! And yesterday, Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss, the minister for Health, whose department runs an anti-AIDS programme has been quoted as saying pre-marital sex is not ok.

…it is wrong to say that pre-marital sex is alright.

I’m not sure if he was voicing a purely personal opinion or spoke for the Government, or for his party. In any case, it boggles my mind.



Today being one of those days when you just need to be grumpy and left alone with a book and plenty of coffee, I wandered over to a coffee shop in the late afternoon with the requisite book in tow, assuming I would be able to sip pleasantly for a couple of hours on coffee and read with just the usual buzz of coversation around.

Silly me.

The place was crowded. Not a problem normally. But this was crowded with scads of giggly college going people. The girls gushing over the boys in as whiny and sing-song a voice as it gets. (“what yaa? hey, play that song, no, yaa?”)And oh yes, the grubby, wannabe-Cobain with the de rigeur long hair (but couldn’t be more than 16 years old) sitting with an acoustic guitar, murdering the concept formerly known as music.

“This is supposed to be Zombie.” Indeed. Sounded more like a zombie giving those strings the third degree.

Giggly, grossly gushing, girl runs her hand through his hair while he pretends to flinch away from it
“Hey your hair is not so rough now!”
“Yeah, I washed it. Must have been after two weeks.”

The intelligence of the conversation just killed me.

Then the girl insisted on teaching the guy on how to play “Californication.” Awesome. I don’t know what RHCP would think, but it sounded more like fornication. If you had a hollow wooden bed. With rusty springs. That creaked. And squealed. Even screeched.

I drank my coffee quickly and almost inhaled the brownie and mercifully left before more pain was inflicted on my poor eardrums.


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Someone on flickr uploaded this picture:

It’s a mosaic image of all the soldiers that have died in Iraq (some faces are repeated since the mosaic dimensions are larger than the number of those killed.)

I followed the link through to the original blog post it came from.

Reading the comments on that post made me wonder about the extremes, right and left. Some of the points the right made seemed to make sense. But there were also a generous helping of the maddening kind that refused to listen to your point or that just plain annoyed you with their stubborn rhetoric and bluster.

It saddens me to see otherwise intelligent people being so polarised over such issues. America is not alone, over the last few years, intolerance and the conservative right have grown in India. For all you know, this year a fundamentalist Hindu party will win a majority in the Indian Parliament (Yes it’s election year in India too). This party, the BJP, has ruled India for the last 5 years or thereabouts but have been kept moderate in their actions by the fact that they did not have a clear majority and so had to appease minor and more liberal parties (who could help the opposition party vote them out with a no confidence motion.)

I may be paranoid, but I fear the day that the BJP is allowed to implement it’s religious right policies as governance in India. I have seen it first hand in the state of Gujarat (which is ruled by the BJP) when I lived there for two years. For months, communal riots were the norm. I have seen cars being torched, property destroyed, and yes, people killed. The horror stories that I encountered in the media from those months still make me shake with fear and anger.

One single mad act by a group of Muslims led to months of carnage by Hindus egged on indirectly by the inaction of the Govt. or in some cases by more direct ‘help.’ Even today, a complete investigation into the actual event that sparked things off and the subsequent rioting, looting and killing has not produced anything of consequence.

But I digress from the point I wanted to make with this post. Why do people follow ideaologies blindly? Many of those killing today, whether they’re Al Qaeda, VHP, Hamas, or any of a number of groups do so in the name of religion. And yet, every one of those religions usually has a respect for human life as one of its tenets. (Of course, fundamentalist Hindu websites and rightwing Christian websites will point out verses from the Q’uran that encourage/condone violence or repressive behaviour, but I could pull out equivalent verses from the Bible and any of a number of Hindu religious texts.) So what makes (or made) the IRA go out and bomb Protestants? What makes the various Imams and Maulanas in mosques in Iran, Iraq and in India spew venom against any non-Muslim? Why do the various spokespeople for the RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal thunder about the glory of a purely Hindu India? Why do Americans rally against the removal of “under God” from their Pledge of Allegiance or against evolution being taught in a science class?

Are we all so insecure? Do we have to retreat insularily into our own ‘safe’ cultures when the least threat raises its head? Why is xenophobia or a fear of that which is different so common in the world today?

I don’t have any of those answers. They are difficult questions. But maybe we need to think about the answers?

I’ve rambled again, I tend to write as I think and I guess it might be hard for people to follow this train of thought, but I assume some have, so I’d appreciate comments on this post please!


Not Happy…

… is what I am now.

My life sucks… FUBAR doesn’t even begin to describe it. And yet I put on this happy, everything is fine face. It’s stupid, stupid, stupid!

I shouldn’t even be writing this here, but hell, it’s 4am, I’m depressed and I need the release!

I’m falling behind with my work out of sheer laziness. I recognise the signs and symptoms, but inertia prevents me from doing anything. I need a good swift kick on my butt, but in the US, everyone is too damn PC to do that. I need my mom to twist my ears and give me a good talking to. I’m too embarrassed to call her up and tell her that!

Where is this going? Where am I going? I honestly don’t know. I’ve been happy-go-lucky, follow-the-default-path for too long now. Maybe I can still change, but it’s not happening now.

Why can’t someone pay me for doing the things I like to do? Fat chance of that happening, because the things I like to do are reading, watching movies and surfing the internet. And of course, writing inane blog entries.

Look at my reading list on the right. It hasn’t changed in over a month. Wanna know why? I keep finding more books to read and never finishing the ones I’ve started!! And I’m too lazy to change the list on

It’s Thursday and I’ve already been waiting for the weekend for over a day now, when I can be lazy and not feel guilty. Am I self-destructive? I think so!

Oh, damn, it’s 4:20am… I’m due to teach a class at 11:30am. I end this here.