Google Buzz -- risk of being flooded with spam

We all like google, don't we ? I am personally a big fan of google though there have been concerns about google holding too much of our data to feel comfortable. Nevertheless google has never failed to impress with its ingenuity. The recent addition to google's repertoire is the google buzz.. a tool that connects several social networking platforms into one.

But this time around google seems to have got it wrong or at least that is how it appears. One of the popular online discussion forum has come out with a review saying that Google Buzz may be a potential breeding ground for spam. The article can be found here


'Warming can turn world more fragrant' reads Times of India, more here

Courtesy Wikipedia

Biogenic volatile organic compounds

One important thing to consider when assessing the urban forest's effect on air quality is that trees emit some biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs). These are the chemicals (primarily isoprene and monoterpenes) that make up the essential oils, resins, and other organic compounds that plants use to attract pollinators and repel predators. As mentioned above, VOCs react with nitrogen oxides (NOx) to form ozone. BVOCs account for less than 10% of the total amount of VOCs and BVOCs emitted in urban areas. This means that BVOC emissions from trees can contribute to the formation of ozone. Although their contribution may be small compared with other sources, BVOC emissions could exacerbate a smog problem.

Not all species of trees, however, emit high quantities of BVOCs. The tree species with the highest isoprene emission rates should be planted with caution:

Trees that are well adapted to and thrive in certain environments should not be replaced just because they may be high BVOC emitters. The amount of emissions spent on maintaining a tree that may emit low amounts of BVOCs, but is not well suited to an area, could be considerable and outweigh any possible benefits of low BVOC emission rates.

Trees should not be labeled as polluters because their total benefits on air quality and emissions reduction far outweigh the possible consequences of BVOC emissions on ozone concentrations. Emission of BVOCs increase exponentially with temperature. Therefore, higher emissions will occur at higher temperatures. In desert climates, locally native trees adapted to drought conditions emit significantly less BVOCs than plants native to wet regions. As discussed above, the formation of ozone is also temperature dependent. Thus, the best way to slow the production of ozone and emission of BVOCs is to reduce urban temperatures and the effect of the urban heat island. As suggested earlier, the most effective way to lower temperatures is with an increased canopy cover.

These effects of the urban forest on ozone production have only recently been discovered by the scientific community, so extensive and conclusive research has not yet been conducted. There have been some studies quantifying the effect of BVOC emissions on the formation of ozone, but none have conclusively measured the effect of the urban forest. Important questions remain unanswered. For instance, it is unknown if there are enough chemical reactions between BVOC emissions and NOx to produce harmful amounts of ozone in urban environments. It is therefore, important for cities to be aware that this research is still continuing and conclusions should not be drawn before proper evidence has been collected. New research may resolve these issues.

DSDS 2010

DSDS 2010

Public Voting at DSDS 2010 at the end of the Ministerial Session on Building on the Copenhagen Accord

What is the most important element in the Copenhagen Accord?

a. 2 degree target 24 %

b. Financial commitment 23 %

c. Coming of USA on board 29 %

d. Forestry 9 %

e. Measurement, Reporting, Verification Provisions 14 %

What among the following do you think is the most crucial to operationalize the Copenhagen Accord?

a. Domestic Legislation in USA 25 %

b. Legally Binding Agreement in Mexico 26 %

c. Clarity on sources of finance 11 %

d. A bold political will 31 %

e. It cannot be made operational 6 %

Tiger 350

What do tigers and thousands of school children in India have in common? They can both roar extremely loudly, and they both need desparately for the world to get back below 350 ppm CO2.

Yesterday over 1,000 school kids from across Delhi, India, braved sitting (or lying) in completely drenched grass and under a hot, hot sun for an hour to form a giant Tiger-350 aerial image with their bodies. Photographers and media climbed up on top of Teen Murti Bhavan, the home of Jawaharla Nehru, the first prime minister of India -- not quite as tall as the crane that was intended to be there, but enough for a beautiful image and call to action for sure... (time lapse video below)

Toger 350

Tiger/350 aerial image in Delhi

The Indian Youth Climate Network, Delhi Greens, Sanctuary Asia, Nehru Memorial Museum & Library, The Shri Ram School, The Climate Project-India, Nature First, Green India States Trust (GIST), Center for Social Markets, Wildlife Conversation Trust, Bengal Tiger Campaign, National Tiger Conservation Authority, and, are all coming together for a Rally and a Tiger Consultation - of what is perhaps the LAST CALL FOR SAVING THE TIGER AND HUMANITY.

Please join us on 28 July for a historic aerial art demonstration for tigers, 350, and action on climate change. And be inspired by visiting speaker, Bill McKibben, co-founder of

The aerial art is going to look like this

Wish to be a part of it/help us in making it: please get in touch with me

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Trains Collide in Chennai - Mystery prevails

The train accident in Chennai is shocking to say the least. According to the media accounts and from what we get to hear from somebody who seems to be from the establishment, some unauthorized miscreants took the train that was supposed to go to Tiruvallur and started the train ahead of schedule.
Southern Railway General Manager MS Jayanth said the train started "unauthorisedly" half-an-hour earlier than scheduled and went on a wrong line, colliding with a departmental train hauling empty wagons. Speculation is already on the rise and there are even terrorist group colours are being given to the incident.

There are some very fundamental things which I fail to understand. I have been always fascinated by trains and a die hard fan of some of the train simulator computer games. Having traveled in the train which had been taken for the 'joy ride' for almost 4 years and out of interest, there has been a basic understanding of how these trains work which makes me wonder about the reasons being given for this accident.

First and foremost, driving a train is not a joke. Its quite a confusing task given the number of parameters to be checked before even moving the train and the entire process is just complex that if you don't have a formal training it is next to impossible to drive a train. Secondly the kind of systems that the Indian railways has in place, a train being smuggled away silently without attracting anyone's attention is simply seems implausible. The train has gone on to collide head on with a train and that means there has been a lapse somewhere. If the goods train, which was at the receiving end, has been on the right track and as per schedule somebody has been observing its movements and approved the route and track and other associated things. Now the suburban electrical multiple unit (EMU) has passed through two stations. From my general observation I can recognize that there are enough mechanisms inside every stations which forewarn about an approaching train and the signal systems are also interlinked to this. As the train approaches the station's limits there is some form of an indication or the other to the person in charge. In spite of passing through Basin Bridge, which is one of the most important stations in the route, the train has by and large remained unnoticed until it collided.

I would follow the probe closely to understand how exactly this happened or is there some sort cover up is being attempted. Whatever reasons the railways is giving till now is simply unbelievable.

Rural Energy Project

The Indian Youth Climate Network has recently launched the first Rural Energy Project, a project that is going to bring light in the lives of 70 families of landless labourers in a village in Coimbatore, TamilNadu. This could potentially save the money they spend on fossil fuels for lighting and there by become sustainable too.

The technical details are -- MGR Nagar: 75 homes. Families below the poverty line. Profile: landless laborers. Access to drinking water: two times every month. 5 homes have access to electricity there. Most homes are informally constructed. With the help of Shanti Ashram, the villagers collected money (Rs. 600) to purchase the lanterns (they were subsidized).

The Sunflower (Solar Lantern): A remarkable product made by DGESL. Solar-LED technology. Can last up to 14 hours of continued use without diminishing quality of light (life of LED= 50 years). Solar panel (5W), 6v. (20 year warranty). Lux output: 75 lux @600mm (exceeds MNRE specification). Efficiency is greater than 92% (exceeds the MNRE specification). Battery--will last 1.5 years max and can be purchased anywhere for Rs. 130. There's a guarantee on repairs for up to a year by DGESL.

Next step would be taking this forward and make it a model village of sustainable development.

P.S. Those who might be confused as to why I am writing this, I am involved with the Indian Youth Climate Network for quite sometime.

the come back

At last, i've managed to gather my thoughts and pen this blog.  There are a plethora of reason why i have been so infrequent with my blog.  In short, life has taken a sharp turn and has become too busy in a short span and every now and then i find myself standing at a cross road and taking some vital decision.  Nevertheless, it is exciting like never before.  A bit of responsibility, a bit of expectation and a lot of new opportunities is how I can sum up and generalize what I've been upto these days.

Though i havent been updating my blog, i havent quit writing.  I have written a couple of articles and published them in a couple of websites.

Here are something which are dominating my thought process these days.

The unusual rise of the stock markets (23% in 11 sessions) and the deep cut it took today... Conspiracy theories are already making rounds, equating it to the G20 conference scheduled on the 2nd of April.  Dr. Manmohan Singh is also attending it and the outcome of the meeting, if not solve the economic crisis, is sure to make the markets shoot up or plunge again.  Fingers crossed.

The general elections are due and we are just about a fortnight away from the first phase of polling.  I term this elections as dirty politics at its best.  Till date, i have not come across any political party foucssing on the many different problems in hand.  Instead Varun Gandhi's speech is hogging the prime time,  just the way the political masters wanted and the media running after TRPs falling prey to the plans.

Isn't this ironical in the world's largest democracy? (or is it one of the characteristics) We are in very interesting times, where one makes all kinds of statements on air and get what one wants out of it and come out the next day and say that it was not done by him/her but somebody has doctored the incident.  This is not about any single incident and every political party has a incident or two to its credit.

India is having a gala time in New Zealand.  After a long time, test cricket is back at its best.  Though i havent been able to follow them as closely as i used to but still it is a feel good factor to see India doing well.  More so in a stage where the IPL has been making news for some time before it finally was shifted out of India.  If somebody denies the fact that they have done everything to cash in on the ad revenues they could make by airing the matches at 4 pm and 7 pm during the summer vacations, he is obviously a IPL fanatic.

And not to forget the Conficker worm which is deemed to be a timebomb in waiting and is all set to explode on the 1st of April.  Of late, i have become a fan of spam mails and the way they operate and started digging a bit deeper into it and am simply fascinated by the sophistication of the conficker worm.  Beware, you may also be carrying the worm and check with microsoft or anti virus sites to secure yourself.

linux at last

I am on linux, finally. A full fledged operating system replacing or substituting windows.

There were days when simply out of interest and curiosity i tried to get Linux going in my computers and i was fairly successful to the extent that i was able to partition the drives and install a working version of Red Hat Linux but i couldn't replace microsoft windows, the reason being the various components couldnt be configured properly and the reasons were not too complicated. Either there were not drivers or people were simply apprehensive about it.

Now, i have installed Ubuntu and i must say that Linux has gone through a sea change. From being a complex mechanism to work with and limited to only a select few who had the knowledge to tweak the driver files and it was highly technical, to say the least, Linux today has evolved so much and is user friendly in the true sense of the term.

The ubuntu installation can be obtained free of cost, either in the form of CD's by registering with their site or can be downloaded from the same. Installing it was also not a problematic issue either, unlike the past. Ubuntu supports NTFS file system which is a highlight. This is particularly of use to the normal windows user as the windows installations in the last 2 years, normally have an NTFS partition.

The interface is just cool and has been designed exceptionally well to give the same look and feel and the ease of use which windows may provide. Summing up, Ubuntu is a total hit with me, discounting the few network issues and driver issues.

and the mobile phone is going places

The penetration of mobile phones into the Indian society is phenomenal. People of my generation ie those of us who in our mid twenties have seen a sea change. We have seen it as an ultra expensive odd looking devices with exorbitantly high usage charges which catered to the cream of the society and we are seeing now as a mass produced commodity which is going cheaper by the day and with the flooding of the Chinese mobiles the prices have fallen to unimaginable levels. For about 5000 bucks one could easily get a state of the art mobile which has the latest features which could be associated with any branded handset and at times they offer more too.

One gets to hear a lot about the mobile phones being abused and the jokes of a milk vendor or a farm labour using a mobile phone is not uncommon. Little do we realize how important these people who occupy a lower to middle income group are to the mobile cos and their business potential. The reason for this perception is the recent incident where I happened to strike a conversation with a cycle rickshaw puller. 

I hired the rickshaw to go home from a friend's place and since it was half past nine, the road was quite empty. The empty road seems to be a rickshaw pullers paradise and he was going at a breakneck speed. When he was precariously negotiating the final turn, I was able to hear a mobile phone ringing and not to my surprise, he pulled one and had a gadget with bright flashing lights in his left hand. He had a short conversation, informing the person at the end about his destination and the time frame. I couldn't resist myself from asking him how he is able to manage the expenses and yes, I did ask.

I was surprised to hear that he spent about Rs. 150 every month for the connection and what was more interesting was the logic behind his usage. The logic is a simple Rs.30 recharge a week which means 4 recharges a month and one more in case of extraordinary circumstances and in all sums up to Rs. 150. Now, a person who earns about Rs.250-300 a day, managing Rs.30 shouldn't be a herculean task. The justification he gave for this expenditure is the even impressive. Shopkeepers from the nearby market areas have his contact number and when they have to transport goods to the a customer's house, they give him a call to see if he is around and can do the work.

Thus we come to the next question, is the 150 bucks spent in a month an expenditure or an investment. Obviously in this case it is a worthy investment. The mobile phone here has too many roles to play – a communication tool, a business facilitator, entertainment etc to name a few. No wonder, idea mobile uses Abhishek Bachan as a brand ambassador and rolling out advertisements aimed a totally new segment which is nothing but promising.