Thursday, June 30, 2005

Craigslist founder interviewed on CNN

Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, in an interesting interview with CNN on what he hopes will be Craigslist's legacy:
People will realize that people everywhere are OK. You've got to be a little careful, but people are OK.
It's a nice interview. And, in case you hadn't realised (I hadn't), Craigslist has a Bangalore edition too. Go read the interview first.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Postcards with a secret

People post their secrets, written on a postcard, to this person (Frank, I think), who scans them in and posts them on his blog. Innocuous sounding right? Not. PostSecret is one of the most intriguing and interesting sites that I've come across recently. (I can't for the life of me remember how I came across the site though.)

Some postcards are amusing, some are tragic, but mostly they're all compelling. Just a warning that some of the postcards talk about serious issues (e.g. abuse) that some people might find hard to stomach or just not want to read.

Here's what the blog has to say about itself:
PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail-in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Batman Begins and rocks too

Batman is my favourite super-hero. He's all human; he's got no special powers like Spidey and Superman. He has a tragic past. He's sorta has a dark side. And he's got super-cool gadgets.

Batman Begins, the movie, brings out all that and more. As the name suggests, this is the story of how Bruce Wayne became Batman. We follow Wayne through different phases in his life, his childhood tragedy, his coming to terms with that tragedy, his (ninja ?) training at the hands of the silent warriors, and his transformation into Batman. The story's good too, which helps.

Christian Bale is pretty good as the new Batman and I guess he'll be keeping this role for the inevitable (woo hoo) sequels to follow. Michael Caine is Alfred, the butler and does a good job. Katie Holmes has a decent role and is awfully cute as the assistant DA. (Tom, you lucky man you!) Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, and Morgan Freeman round off the star-cast.

There are some memorable scenes in the movie and if you're a Batman fan (like I am), you'll want to watch the movie again. Of course, the Batmobile kicks ass!

But first, if you haven't watched it, go watch. Batman Begins has action, suspense, thrills, light sprinkles of humour, and is a nicely made movie.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Alicia's Story

Alicia Parlette, a copy-editor at San Francisco Chronicle, wrote a story about her cancer and San Francisco Chronicle carried it as a seven-part series last week. Here are some excerpts from chapter 1.
On March 2, I found out I had cancer. I was 23 and on my own in San Francisco.
I was also trying to get comfortable with life. Three years earlier, my mom had died of cancer, and I was still learning how to live without her.
Here's a report on Alicia by ABC News.

PS: This one I found through Dan Gillmor's blog.

Graphic essay from Scott McCloud

Scott McCloud, has written (drawn?) an interesting essay called Coins of the Realm. It's in a comic-book kind of format and is a creative way of making a point, about the music industry and artists in general.

Here's some info about McCloud from

PS: I got this link from Seth Godin's blog.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Peter Wayner's Free For All

I can't believe that I've not mentioned Peter Wayner's Free For All book on my blog yet. (Head slap!) If you want to read about the Open Source movement, this is the book for you. It's beautifully written, it's a page-turner, and I loved it. From Wayner's website:
Read this story of how a loose-knit group of programmers, dreamers, philosophers, geniuses and fools discovered the fact that that they could write better software in less time by just giving it all away. Follow the ecstasy, the triumphs, the battles, the failures, the treachery, the cooperation, the wrong turns, the teamwork, the struggles, and the backbiting on the road to triumph and total global domination.
The best part? He gives away the book for free. You can download it here. Here's what Wayner writes on his website:
The digital version is free as in free beer and free as in free speech. Download it and read it on your computer if you like.
Go read it.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A neat optical illusion

Go here to check out what John called rather slick optical illusion.

I tried it and the pink dots really do go away. Just follow the instructions.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Thoughts on freelancing

It's been about two months since I started freelancing. Here are some things I'd like to share.
  1. Getting paid is hard: I remember thinking that it would be different for me, but it's not. Getting your clients to pay you is one of the hardest things to do. The enthusiasm they have for getting their work done doesn't carry over to the cheque signing process. It slows down by about a factor of a million.

  2. My weekend's pretty long:I go for movies at 11.00 in the morning. I go to the library whenever I want. I play basketball at 5.00 pm. I don't worry about waking up early and being late for work. My time is my own. I love it. I also work on Saturdays sometimes. Heck, I even worked on a Sunday. But I have a true seven day weekend as well. Thanks Ricardo Semler.

  3. Being afraid is overrated: When I thought about freelancing earlier, I always wondered about the things I didn't know like creating an invoice, marketing, taxes, finances, and a whole load of other stuff. You know what? It doesn't matter. I learn as I go along and it's fabulous. The first day of a freelancing assignment I created a Statement of Work. Next time, it was so much easier to do. I've even created a proposal for a prospective client. I also know how to create invoices now. (Okay, creating invoices is no big deal but it was for me.) Hey, and I'm getting that service tax thing figured out too.

  4. I get to meet people: The one thing I was sure that I didn't want to do was to sit in front of my computer or be at home and be alone all day. In the last couple of months, I've met more friends and done more stuff (out of home) than I used to when I was working full-time. This has taken effort from me (to not sit and watch TV) but it's been worth it.

  5. Being my own boss rocks: I love working for myself. Is it scary? Sometimes. But most of the time it's a rush and I enjoy it. Plus, I get to choose what I want to do and it's a pretty cool choice to have.
Freelancing has been a blast so far and for that I'm immensely grateful.

Book tagging

I got an email from a fellow writer and book-lover, Amrit, telling me that he's book tagged me and I went, Book tagged! What's that?

Turns out that quite a few bloggers are doing this book tagging thingy. You can read more about book tagging at Balancing Life, Indian Writing, and Duck of Destiny.

It's pretty interesting--you write about your books, the books you read, the top 5, and so on. That's what I am going to do anyway, since that's what I figured. Here goes.

Total Number of Books I Have

About a hundred and twenty maybe, but I've never counted. I have this CD affliction as well, so the money is split between the two. Plus, I am a poor freelance writer. (Heh, heh!)

Last Book I Read

Robert Masello's Writer Tells All, Insider Secrets to Getting Your Book Published. It's a superb book that's funny and informative and a must-read if you want to know about the book writing and publishing process.

Last Book I Bought
Ah, just bought a two-volumes-in-one yesterday at Crossword, Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs (Thomas Harris). For Rs. 175 if you can believe it.

Five Books That Mean a Lot To Me

Does it have to be five? Anyway, here goes: (Sniff!)
  1. Writing Down The Bones, Natalie Goldberg.

  2. The Seven Day Weekend, Ricardo Semler.

  3. On Writing, Stephen King

  4. First Things First, Stephen Covey, Roger Merrill, Rebecca Merrill

  5. Tuesdays With Morrie, Mitch Albom
(Yes, I know. I read a lot of non-fiction.)

Five Bloggers I'd Like To Tag
  1. Unsaid Words

  2. Hash: Frankly Speaking

  3. Pot Puree

  4. !_!_!_! (Yes, 'tis the blog name)

  5. Indigo Warp

This was fun!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Songs when your cell is busy

What's the deal with people making you listen to a song when their phone is busy? If you haven't been a victim, you're lucky. I tried two numbers a couple of days ago, and I got songs both times. The first time was a song I didn't recognize and the second was a song that I did. Irritated me both times.

Thing is that when I hear a song instead of a person's voice, it makes me wonder if I dialled the correct number. That makes me feel stupid. I don't know about you but I don't like feeling stupid. Then, I have to wait while your song plays and I get charged for the call. That stupidity thing again.

And, if it's a song that I don't like, I might really get pissed off. If I am a customer, that's not so good for business is it?

After the song, the lady's voice tells me that your phone is busy. Why couldn't you tell me this before?

Give me a voice mail where I can leave a message. I don't want to listen to your songs.

---Updated on June 11th 2005---

An extremely reliable source (my friend, who refused to be quoted, and who develops applications that help telecom operators do this song-listening thingy) informs me that when you hear a song (it's called Ring Back Tone (RBT), you dolt Percy) only the person who you call gets charged. You don't get charged when you hear the RBT. There's that stupid thing I'm feeling again, but this time it's justified.