Vodafone half marathon – cheering and some bike stunts

Yesterday was the world’s richest half marathon. People of all ages, and sizes ran. I didn’t. My last attempt taught me that running 21kms without practice leads to a lot of ache. So I went to cheer the runners. At India gate saw this group of kids who had modded there regular bicycles for doing stunts. Young people have so much energy, venting that pentup energy in something like this is far better than doing drugs and those other kind of thrills.

And this is a clip from the race.

I have a roof, I mean my barsati has. It’s a triffle difficult to climb, but once you are up there you can see around.
A petal of the lotus temple.
Factories spewing black clouds in Noida.
And thousands of other roofs. And each roof has at least half a dozen black, cylindrical, water tanks. “Syntex ki tanki” as they are called. On a silent evening as I stand upon my roof, I seem to hear them talking. No I am just kidding, trying to pass of as an arty writer. They actually seem to be like serious gargoyles on their 24/7 duties. If you look from a flight over delhi, you may see them as freckles over a teenage Delhi’s cheeks.


I was strolling in Manali when I saw these signs.
thali in manali
It was on a lunch house, and typical of tourist places it served everything from regional specialities (punjabi, gujarati) to chinese. In particular the punjabi thali and gujarati thali, was written in punjabi and gujarati script respectively.

At first glance it seems very obvious. If your target audience is punjabi, it makes sense to write the punajbi dish name in punjabi script. But the downside is that some people who love punjabi food but can’t read punjabi script won’t be able to understand.

Let’s look at what some global websites are doing to solve this problem. We have to keep in mind that there are other constraints when it comes to web. To keep it simple lets say we want to provide a list of languages a site is available in. So that a user who wants to see the site in that language can select the required option. The following image shows how youtube does it.

youtube language options japanese

Say you go to a japanese cyber cafe and you see this. And if you want to see an english site, to choose the english option, you have to know an english speaking countries flag. Easy for the person of that country, not so for someone else. Still youtube has at least tried to solve the problem to some extent.

bbc world service site

Now lets look at BBC’s world service site. Now they could have put each language in that respective script. So that people who can only read that script could have chosen that option easily. But that would have meant that all those people who don’t have those font-packs installed on their machines would have seen some thing like this (????? question marks for non existant fonts). Hence BBC has put the language name in the respective script as an image. So that everyone sees everything, no question marks. As well as the user who knows only one language still can choose his language. Then why they have written that language again in english? So that everyone can know which languages it is available. Since this is just the landing page, and this being the world service page, I think the aim of this page is to show that it is truly global. Which the language names written in english does.

This is what I call good design.

Embeds are Octopusy

When I first came across embeds, namely youtube type video embeds, I thought them strategically stupid. If you could view the whole video, why would anyone go to the site. Some would, but many wouldn’t. Though they have made the whole embed (except the controls) a link to that page on their site. But that relies on users mistakenly clicking on it.

They could have put in the first 20% then show some text which says, “To view the remaining video please go to this page”. There could have been many ways in which more people could be diverted to their site. And currently the site is where the advertising money is. Is their another reason they decided to put the whole video in the embed?

Recently I saw the related and more videos inside the embeds, in youtube. Also users can customize their embeds with playlists. Now this is even more amazing. Earlier with just one video, some people would still like to go the site to view the related videos, but now even that has come to the embed. This clearly proves that there definitely is some thought behind this. Now what could that be?

I found this video in Mashup, it is a recorded sighting of an ad inside a youtube embed.

Companies like Revlayer (not active right now), have come up, offering solutions for embed ads.And I think this is just the beginning. Initially the embeds may have seemed a very philanthropic venture.

Now people are changing there embed codes into DIVs. Which means we could start seeing even google adsense ads in the embeds. Also sites can use that space for flashing news, announcements, etc. And why can’t they start doing registrations from embeds too?

If I could use a little exaggerated analogy, while embeds started of on a parallel to a TV network. Each embed was a channel with just one program. Now it has changed to each channel having many programs (the related videos). In the long run, I guess it will change into a multi-headed vacuum cleaner sucking in eyeballs.

And so gradually these sites will start monetizing the billion square pixels real estate on so many embeds.

Editted on 24th jan 2008

Revver has started showing text ads over their video player. See the image. revver.jpg

Ignobly great

The ignoble awards are out. If I would ever be a billionaire, I would give out some of the billions to the winners. And then maybe it’ll loose its ‘ig’ and be called as Kaa awards

MEDICINE: Brian Witcombe of Gloucester, UK, and
Dan Meyer
of Antioch, Tennessee, USA, for their penetrating medical report “
Sword Swallowing and Its Side Effects

REFERENCE: “Sword Swallowing and Its Side Effects,” Brian Witcombe and Dan Meyer, British Medical Journal, December 23, 2006, vol. 333, pp. 1285-7.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Brian Witcombe and Dan Meyer

L. Mahadevan
of Harvard University, USA, and
Enrique Cerda Villablanca
of Universidad de Santiago de Chile, for studying how sheets become wrinkled.


“Wrinkling of an Elastic Sheet Under Tension,” E. Cerda, K. Ravi-Chandar, L. Mahadevan, Nature, vol. 419, October 10, 2002, pp. 579-80.

Geometry and Physics of Wrinkling
,” E. Cerda and L. Mahadevan, Physical Review Letters, fol. 90, no. 7, February 21, 2003, pp. 074302/1-4.

Elements of Draping
,” E. Cerda, L. Mahadevan and J. Passini, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 101, no. 7, 2004, pp. 1806-10.

Walking around in JM

The last month has been a whirlwind of activities/emotions. Today we went to old delhi, the area near Jama Masjid. Awesome fun. Walked around the lanes selling everything from sequins with little bits of clothes in between. And belts with jewelled buckles for guys. And mannequins with black cloth wrapped on their eyes.
We ate seekh kababs, roasted chicken in makhan ki gravy, seb doodh ke saath, shahi tukda, habshi halva.
Forgive me if I missed something..when there is an interesting company I tend to forget the details.