Thursday, December 16, 2004

Message in a bottle?

Is blogging like putting a message in a bottle and sending it out into the vast ocean? (I don't know whether this is an original thought or whether I read it somewhere. If I did read it somewhere, apologies to the original writer. Then again, I wonder if anything that's written is truly original.)

But, getting back to the message in a bottle. Blogging does seem that way to me--you write your private thoughts, and then you put it up on a website somewhere. Somebody might read it; nobody might read it. Sometimes you secretly hope that someone will read it, other times you don't care. You just keep blogging.

Maybe that's why blogs get read: people like finding bottles with messages in them. And then they want more.

Lots of bottles out there fighting for attention. Some might never be found.

Why we write

To keep sane.

Because, if we let the thoughts that are dancing in our head have dinner and then reproduce, you know what's going to happen. Baby thoughts, teenage thoughts, pregnant thoughts, along with adult thoughts. Overpopulation. A large thought family. A recipe for craziness.

All these thoughts because I was reading Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing last night. Bradbury's a genius. I've never read Farenheit 451 (I intend to, it's just not the right time yet) or any of his other books, but I can picture the kind of writing he produces. His writing is electrifying--it shocks you. Tolerable, pleasurable shocks.

In the introduction, Bradbury talks about writers need to write to keep reality from driving them crazy. You know what he's talking about if you've ever written something that was honest, when you wrote from your heart, letting the words pour out of you. Maybe some blood and tears flowed as well. You know how you felt when you wrote it and how you felt after you wrote it.

Glimpses of sanity, in an otherwise insane world.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Blogging via email

I just discovered that you can post your blog (at this site) via email using this neat feature. You might want to try out posting (without publishing) first, because there can be formatting issues because of your email editor.

Though, I am not sure that I'd use the feature, I think it's a pretty convenient way to post, especially if you're comfortable posting without using Blogger's editor. Plus, it's simpler to write an email and get the thoughts to the blog and publish it when you have the time, i.e. later.

The Syed Modi murder case

When Syed Modi, one of India's best badminton players, was murdered (in 1988), I distinctly remember being disappointed, because it seemed from what I'd read, that in spite of the evidence, the accused were going to get away scot free. Now, that is becoming a reality. The case against another of the prime accused was dismissed a few days ago.

I don't know if there was sufficient evidence to convict the accused or not, or even whether the accused were guilty. What irks me is that we are not able to carry out a conviction for a murder, 16 years after it happened. That's sad.

It says volumes about India's justice system.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a technique invented by Tony Buzan who is a psychologist and has written many books about the mind and memory.

Mind mapping allows you to think "radially" and frees the mind to explore different ideas. It's extremely easy to learn and can help you with organising information, brainstorming for ideas, outlining, summarising, and in general, learning.

I was introduced to mind mapping by my boss and I read Joyce Wycoff's book (Mindmapping : Your Personal Guide to Exploring Creativity and Problem-Solving) that was really enjoyable and provides an excellent overview and introduction to mind-mapping. I have a mind-map of her book to help me remember what I learnt!

Here are a couple of articles that give an introduction to mind mapping: Mind Mapping in eight simple steps and How to mind map (Tony Buzan).

For those of you that like to use the computer for everything, there's a really neat (free) software called Free Mind that you can use for mind-mapping. You need the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) to run it though. It's better to learn mind mapping first before using this tool though.

Go ahead, free your mind.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Gmail -- not exactly a G spot

That's G for Great, not what you're thinking!

I got a Gmail account a couple of weeks ago but I only started using it. Am I the only one that thinks that it's not God's (that G again) gift to email-kind? I love the 1 GB (1000 MB) space but quite frankly, I don't know what to do with it. Plus, Yahoo's moved to 250 MB now and I really think that's pretty good (100 MB was great) and I don't want to keep all my messages; I'll delete some. Okay, I'll let that go.

The thing that *really* bugs me is that Gmail doesn't work with Opera. Now that's enough to make me mad. Why not? They use some ActiveX control stuff. Now why would Google which runs so beautifully on Opera (and has integrated the search engine into the browser) not run Gmail on Opera? Arrgh! Why drive users towards a particular browser?

Maybe it's just me. In Gmail, if you reply to a message or get replies, it gets grouped into something called a conversation. It's good because I can find all the replies and if I want to keep all the emails in a conversation, but not so good if I want to delete one email in a conversation. Ah, that deleting habit again.

Then, there's this "Loading" message that comes up on the right hand side of the Explorer window (did I say that I can't use Opera) and you miss it sometimes, even when you've seen it before. That takes some getting used to.

I don't like the Labels concept much either. If I want to move a message from my Inbox, in all regular web-based email sites, I create a folder and then move the message to that folder. In Gmail, I have to create a label, mark the message with that label and then click the Archive button. (Note to Google: Ordinary users might not know what archiving means.) That's the way I figured out how to do this. Now, again, there might be a better way to do it, but I've not figured that out yet. And I've been using the Internet and email software for a while. I guess I missed the memo on that one too.

But hey, I like the comfort of 1 GB, even if I am not sure if I want my personal email "scanned".