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Dirtscapes

Read. Suffer. Try to Enjoy.

Just Like A Prayer

Sunday, June 24, 2007
In a sublime show of the shinier sides of human emotion, the country recently witnessed a rash of this, this and this. Everywhere you looked, there was one news item guaranteed. About a certain Sunita's safe return to earth.

Which was incredibly sweet. Really.

Why? You might ask. Here goes nothing...


1) This evidently will inspire so many kids all over the country to become exactly like her. (The fact that barely 0.25% of them all would end up having access to the kind of education required to become her does come up. I don't know why.) Also, the poor org which has sent her up, doesn't quite know what it is in for. Give or take twenty odd years, they are gonna be flooded with so many astronauts from here, that they wouldn't know where in tarnation to send them. (That's the 'guidance' on the street anyways...)

2) The sight of cherubic angels praying, with (probably) absolutely no ****ing idea as to who she is, or what exactly she has done is an excellent example of childhood innocence and purity. They wouldn't even have heard of her, but thanks to the geniuses who thought this up as a fantastic expression of 'countryman solidarity' (with a cool photo-op of course. What were you thinking?), they got to pray for what they had been told to pray for. Which I'm guessing wasn't much in the first place to begin with...

3) Prayer can move mountains. And land shuttles safely.

4) She probably is a far bigger inspiration here, than back home. (An average American kid in the same age group would have no ****ing clue as to who she is. Just like ours you might say, but hey, at least they didn't have to 'pray for her safe return'.) Which is kind of awesome, considering that she is *part* Indian American (very important word) and part Slovenian. Now if only I could read Slovenian. Am sure they would done something similar over there too. Very sure.

5) The news channels got to dry hump themselves with the 'story' till they bathed in the afterglow, breath ragged, chests heaving, purring with delight (and we stop here. Sadly.).
With woebegone appeals on the lines of "Ab aa bhi jaao Sunita", "Laut chali Sunita", "Hamari Sunita", calculated to make you get that fuzzy warm feeling and send your SMS out.

6) For proving yet again, that we as a nation take our humour very seriously (that is a pretty cool sentence construct. Damn.).
Remember that dismembered, beaten-to-death joke which went something like this?

"3 guys Nationality 1 guy, Nationality 2 guy and an Indian guy are asked to build something. Nationality 1 guy builds a fantastic model, Nationality 2 guy tweaks and refines it further, the Indian sticks a label on to it stating 'Made in India'. "

A very versatile algorithm as you can see. You can apply it just about anywhere, to just about anyone. Including guys who run/ran for office somewhere in
Louisiana. And incredibly tuneless American Idol contestants, who don't have a ****ing clue as to what their first ("Indian" - important word. Again.) names mean, when asked on late night television shows.

Maybe we should include the guy who invented that joke in our daily prayers too. He deserves it as much as anyone on the planet.

posted by Tapan at 8:39 PM

Too Unlimited

Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Never, ever thought I'd live to see this. A little innocuous... but hell, it was pretty amazing to behold. No big deal, the new gen might say. 1 GB. So? So what?!


The best part is how mingy the email providers were, back in the days of good old Web 1.0. The first time I tried to sign up for an email id was quite like a stroll through Hades. Witty little me, in 1999, trying to create an email id chez yahoo went a little something like this...

1) tapan. Taken. (Height of optimism that, wot? My name is not that uncommon.)
2) beavis. Taken.
3) butthead. Taken.
4) butt-head. Taken.
5) creeping_death. Taken.
5) sandman. Taken.
6) t. Taken.
7) james_hetfield. Taken. (Height of optimism - exhibit 2.)

And so I toiled, for an hour. To finally end up with a hideous tapan_gh. And what gifts did we receive from ze bounty? 6 MB. Hotmail was even better. An overlord-of-all-you-freaking-see-ish 2 MB, with the everlasting promise of ruthless email annihilation if one didn't sign in for more than a month. And 2 MB was kind of REALLY pushing it, given the attachment caps of 1 MB or thereabouts. And yeah, your mail wasn't stored in 'Sent Items', not unless you *specifically* selected the option to do so, before sending. The humanity.

Then there were these dudes called usa.net. Still are, I guess. They gave you a better interface at that time, and I would use that id exclusively (not in the least because it was tapan_h). Till one day, they decided to go the paid way. You would actually have to *pay* to use the id. Right. The next day, the papers were full of the usual, hysterical 'gawd-help-us' stories, with opinions being sought from the other munificent boys in the family... err.. make that email business. They all put up a carefully common front, stating that 'As of now, it's free. But you never know. Business models might change in the future.'

It was at this point, that I went on an email id hoarding spree, which was not too far from IT recruitment patterns these days (You know, anything went, as far as the job gets done. If it hangs a couple of times while sending stuff, who cares? Mail still reaches from point a to point b). Rediff, multiple id's at yahoo and hotmail. Indiatimes was a very attractive proposition at that time. They gave you 10 MB, in addition to that gratuitous 'photo of the day' on the main page which ensured that you got off before you got in. Wow. Who would need more than TEN MB?! (Take that, yahoo! And hotmail, yeah... you know what I want *you* to do... bwahahaha.)

I gleefully hopped on to indiatimes, braving the interface which looked like it was cobbled together in one feverish, nightmare ridden night-out by a couple of first year engineering students ('computer' engineering of course). Till Anita, Vivek, Raj, Ashok, Neeta, Ravi, all of them dedicated, nose-to-the-grindstone indiatimes employees (names are for illustrative purposes only), started to solicit muh bidness. For insurance, travel deals, and super-exclusive beluga-caviar-sh shopping offers (Only for me! they said). The hideously devious part was that you could not block the id's totally, because they had an indiatimes domain id. Even if you opted out of the ad blitz, an Anita would always give way to a Jasmine. Ensuring that you gracelessly exited indiatimes, double quick.

And resorted to a little shaking of the fists at the heavens above alternated with bouts of helpless hand wringing, while you waited for your 200 KB attachment to upload on your dial-ups...

Till the boys from gmail came in, and blew everybody's derrieres out of the water. One GB worth of storage, invitation only sign ups (these were devious too, in the sense that after a while the invitation count never decremented (sic?) even after you sent tons of them out, till everybody and his grandfather had a truly 'invitation only' gmail acct). Great interface, a super cool email search feature which made you wonder why no one else had thought of that before, and the conversational arrangement of sent mails (saved automatically. Ahhh.) and replies. 10 MB attachments. Double wow. (Now, they have made storage unlimited. And allow 20 MB attachments. And I'm out of wows. It's kinda expected now, from these guys. I'm spoilt, and proud of it.)

All of which add up to a very good thing... but one fact that rankles a bit is that there's no incentive to perform a little housekeeping now and then to delete the sheer amount of crapola that you tend to accumulate over time in your email accounts. Unlimited storage = making your lazy ass even lazier. Not deleting senti stuff is ok, say your first job's appointment letter, but maintaining a proper timeline of the following can get a bit thick.

1) "What's up?"."Nothing much, you tell." "Arre you tell no." "The sky." "lolz". "lolz" kinda email exchanges.

2) "Go out and live your life because today is all you ****ing have", "Have a great week/weekend ahead because no matter where you are, remember somebody ****ing loves you", "The meaning of love", "How to live life", "Thought of the day" emails with pictures of ghastly looking babies/sunsets/cliffs/oh-so-cute cartoon characters with ghoulish distended faces.

3) Good old rich Nigerian bankers' offers.
4) And of course sp*m (it is a bad word) has more space to thrive, and you will never have the satisfaction of spam getting bounced off your account, because it is full. Add forwards to this too.

Think of what the energy/maintenance costs for this kind of toe-curlingly cute content would be. Even if the energy obtained for the data centres is from clean, renewable sources, is it really worth it?
Another issue for the global warming torch bearers to take up here. Roll your eyes all you want. If this can be entertained (got that right), I don't know why this is not a legit concern. Now let me go about reducing my 'carbon footprint' a little, because you all know how to spell 'hypocrisy'...

posted by Tapan at 3:16 PM