The ‘Long’Cut trip

The Why

Apart from what I said in the poster, I had to move to Bangalore. And I didn’t want to parcel my bike. The last time I did that there was one big dent on the petrol tank.

Why LongCut

I had always wanted to go to Araku valley. From the time I had crossed Godavari in my childhood on a train, I had wanted to be there. Then I have a close friend in Machilipatnam who I have not been able to meet since more than 12 years.  He will be there for 10 more days and than fly back to Dubai where he works. And LongCut because I want to.

What’s the Agenda?

I am taking books with me which I shall distribute on my way to school libraries. But frankly I thought of this after I thought of the trip. So it is not an agenda. It is a bonus.

Also to stop wherever it fancies me. To bathe with village kids in village ponds. To drink teas in village corner tea shops, with old wise folks. To remind myself that my forefathers lived in such villages. That it is just providence that I am taking this trip instead of grazing buffaloes.

What am I taking with me

This list is not final and I will keep updating it.

  • open face helmet
  • two pairs of shades, Maui Jim, polarized (for night riding), Fasttrack (has better wind protection)
  • 3 pairs of cloth changes & 2 jeans.
  • A Gerber knife that I bought for my last trip to nepal. In the hope of getting stuck in a jungle and having to hunt a rabbit or something and then grilling it over a fire. Now that I have turned vegetarian, I would have to use it to peel apples. Or should I have them with the skin?
  • Tools (I hope Murphy’s law doesn’t apply this time. I have always found that I don’t have exactly the one spanner I need while I have 5 other ones), other tools. Spare cables – 1one each, speedo, front brakes, and clutch.
  • Books for distribution
  • Am I missing something? I sure am.. please do comment. I shall keep updating, when I remember things which I missed.

Wish me luck :).

update (26th October 2010)

The trip was fun. The pics are here. And you could look at the live tweets here.

Update: Pratham Books has posted a trip blog post here.

Zen of Commuting

I wrote an article for my companies monthly ‘funletter’. The theme was transportation. Here is the article:

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pic by eirikref (http://www.flickr.com/photos/eirikref/2302281782/)

You might be wondering as to what has Zen go to do with commuting. Aren’t they miles apart? You might ask. Let’s go a step back. Have you ever thought if commuting and transportation are the same? Is it transportation when we go from point A to point B? For example, you go to Goa for a vacation, you wouldn’t consider that transport, or even commute, but travel. Aaah… travel… I hear a sigh. Many people love travelling, and many people hate commuting. Is there anything objectively different in any of these words?

Let me take you back a few years into my past. I have lived in Mumbai for around six years. Obviously, I had become an expert local train traveler. Whether I liked to travel crammed between sweaty armpits, twisted into horrible angles is a different story. What is more important is that I observed people utilizing the commute time. While some people read a novel, some sang bhajans, some even took a nap. I was always puzzled at how anyone can sleep in such mayhem. No wonder that Mumbaikars have ‘efficiency’ as their middle name.
That is an irony of our times. We get bored doing nothing. And then we say we haven’t got any time to relax. What is relaxing by the way? Is it giving our body rest, like we rest our vehicle engines on long rides? Does the body include the mind? I read a joke somewhere, that we from the IT industry treat our bodies like a transportation vehicle for our brains.

All these questions lead to one question-how do we enjoy or utilize our commute time? Part of the answer is in the question itself. If we enjoy our commute, it wouldn’t be commute, but travel. Anyway, I would like to share a few tips that I ‘use’ to enjoy my commuting time:

  • Meditate–Don’t think of work. A major part of your brain’s resources is anyway engaged in driving, so your work problems don’t get much resources of the brain. Well, if it gets, then your life is in danger. Be one with the vehicle, feel each pothole, each rock that comes under your wheel. Accelerate smoothly, empathize with the engine and the gearbox. Would you want to be ridden like you ride?
  • Use vocal horn rather than the electronic one-Meditating daily can be boring. Use the ride for fun. Make people laugh at traffic signals. I usually beep vocally when I have to. A high frequency, low volume “beeeeep,” eight times out of ten gets me a few smiles. Be happy. Happiness is more contagious than swine flu.
  • Play a fun game with yourself-Count how many girls are in traditional outfits and how many are in modern. Or, count how many guys have moustache. Who knows, you might need this demographic information somewhere.
  • Be courteous-Don’t be afraid of bigger vehicles (buses and trucks). Whatever be the size, it is a human that is driving it. Don’t treat smaller vehicles like dirt. Be courteous to everyone. Slow down to let people cross the road.
  • Don’t be a traffic Nazi-Use yourself as an example of a good driver. If someone else is breaking rules, don’t get angry. Give him/her the benefit of doubt. If someone is honking annoyingly and is in a tearing hurry, maybe nature is calling.

Have a happy ride!
Honk. Honk.

Importance of Permalinks

HFI is a leading usability and human factors consultancy. So I was a little surprised when I came across a small blunder. An example which illustrates the importance of permalinks. Also the importance of experience design.
The page I am talking about is the UI design newsletter page. I got to this page from google search. After glancing through the newsletter I wanted to see the past issues. Near the PDF file icon, there is a links which says, “back to past issues”. What would you expect to happen when you click this link? You expect to see the past issues page.. right? Now click on the image to go to the page, and see what happens.

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If you clicked on the image and then clicked on the “back to past issues”, you would have come back exactly to this page. Because the link that it uses is a javascript link.

<a href="javascript:history.go(-1)">Back to Past Issues</a>

This just uses browser history to find out which was the last page and opens that. Either this is a small slip-up or whoever decided to use the javascript link assumed that the user will only come to that page from the HFI site. In fact people can come to that page from any search engine or any other site/blog where it is linked. Ideally the back buttons should have the link for the list page for the newsletters. The URL could be something like,
<a href="http://www.humanfactors.com/downloads/newsletters">Back to Past Issues</a>

This example illustrates how even technology overlaps into user experience design.

Rasas in “Goldfinger”

I have been listening to the song Goldfinger from the James Bond movie. I have always liked the song. After seeing this video of the live concert did I realize why the liking. I could identify at least 6 rasas. The way Shirley switches from one to the other is remarkable too. She should have been an Indian classical dancer seeing her mettle in expressions. I have tried to take screenshots to show what I mean.

Rasa - Adbhutam (Amazement)
Rasa - Hasyam (Laughter)
Rasa - Karunyam (Compassion)
Rasa - Vatsalya (parental love)
Rasa - Vibhatsa (disgust)
Rasa - Viram (heroic mood)

Do comment if you see any other rasa in the video.

भागो सेर आया

ये मेरे एक दोस्त की जुबानी एक सच्ची कहानी है .
“१८ साल पहले मेनका गाँधी ने हमारे गाँव के पास टायगर छुडाये थे . इनमे कुछ चिड़िया घर तो कुछ सर्कस से थे. एक बार में और मेरा दोस्त शाम को स्कूल से लौट रहे थे . में और मेरा दोस्त छज्जू एक स्पंज की गेंद से खेल रहे थे. में अपने दोस्त की तरफ गेंद फेंकता और वो मेरी तरफ. जंगल के साथ वाले पगडण्डी में हम लोग खेलते हुए धीरे धीरे घर की तरफ आ रहे थे. मैंने ताव में आकर गेंद कुछ ज्यादा ही ऊंची फेक दी. मेरा दोस्त आसमान की और देखता ही रहा और गेंद उसके फैलाये हुए हाथों के बीच से गिर गयी. झल्लाया हुआ मेरा दोस्त बदले की भावना से गेंद को और ऊपर फेंकना चाहा. लेकिन होनी में कुछ और ही लिखा था. गेंद कक्षा में सिखाये अनुव्रत जैसे रास्ता लिए हुए सीधे जंगले में गिर गयी. “साले तुने मेरी गेंद गुमा दी” चिल्लाया में. जंगल बहुत घना था. फिर भी एक बार ढूँढना तो बनता ही था. हम दोनों झाड़ियों और काँटों से बचते हुए आगे बढ़ने लगे. तकरीबन २५ मीटर ही चले होंगे की एक तीव्र बू आने लगी. अब हमें दर भी लगने लगा था. मेरा दोस्त बोला, “यार में नयी गेंद दे दूंगा तुझे, अब चल वापिस”. हम लोग दौड़ते हुए वापस जाने लगे. जैसे जैसे हम पगडण्डी के पास पहुँचते गए गंध और बढती गयी. पगडण्डी पे पहुँच के जो दृश्य हमने देखा, मेरा दोस्त तोह बेहोश ही हो गया. मेरी नेकर भी गीली हो गयी. सामने बैठा था जंगले का रजा अपने दांतों के बीच हमारी गेंद लिया हुआ. में तोह जैसे मिटी का पुतला बन गया. बाघ गेंद लिए हुए धीरे धीरे मेरी तरफ बढ़ने लगा. में हनुमान चालीसा के शब्द याद कर रहा था. वो मेरे कुछ दूर लाकर वो गेंद जमीन पे ही रख दिया. में एक पैर से छज्जू को लात दी. “उठ साले.” छज्जू उठकर कहता है, “हम लोग मर गए क्या? क्या ये स्वर्ग है?” वो शायद इस चीज़ पे पूरा विशवास कर रहा ठा की उसकी मौत हो चुकी है. वो बाघ के पास जाकर उसके सर पे हात फेरने लगा.

उस दिन शुरुआत हुई हमारी दोस्ती की, में, छज्जू और शेर खान की. हम लोग ३ साल ऐसे ही जंगल जंगल ख्हेलते रहे. फिर एक दिन शेर खान की मौत हो गयी. छज्जू ने उसे अपनी माँ के हाथ का बना हुआ ठेकुआ खिला दिया. बेचारे शेर खान के गले में ठेकुआ अटक गया और उसका देहांत हो गया. १० साल बाद भी में शेर खान के दन्त का लोकेट पेहेनता हूँ. शेरू तू जहाँ भी है, तुझे गेंद और खेलने के लिए बचे मिलते रहें. ” भागो सेर आया

For people who cannot read the hindi script (or the language), google translate comes to the rescue. Here is the translated version which is even funnier.

***********
Run apple came

This is a true story of my friends verbally.
“18 years ago, Maneka Gandhi, Tiger Chodaye near our village the. Among these were some bird Hher some circus. Once in the evening and my friend were returning from school. Chtju and my friend were playing with a sponge ball. He throws the ball towards his friend and me. We play in the woods with the Peghadndi were coming slowly towards the house. I came in anger threw the ball too high. My friend was the sky and see the ball fell from between his Afailaye hands. Zllaaya’s my friend wanted to throw up the ball with vengeance. But something else had to be. As taught in the classroom Anuwarat way straight to the ball in Jngle fell. “My brother-Tune lost the ball” in shouts. Was very dense forest. Finding it was once again formed. We both began to move forward avoiding bushes and thorns. Approximately 25 meters will be left in an intense smell started coming. Now we seemed to rate. My friend said, “Man will give you the new ball, running back now.” We began running back. As we arrive to the smell and increasing added Peghadndi. The scenes we saw at Peghadndi access, my friend was so faint Toah. Nekara I got too wet. Reza was sitting in front of Jngle our ball between his teeth taken. Toah became such an effigy of the Mite. For Tiger, the ball was moving slowly towards me. Hanuman Chalisa in the word was missing. She brought me some off the ground at the ball as he put it. Gave a leg kick Chtju. “Brother-up.” Chtju up says, “What we’re dead? What is this heaven? “That belief is probably completed at this thing has died of Tha. That tiger went Ahat letting his head was at.

That day was the beginning of our friendship, in Chtju and Sher Khan. We are Khhelte forest woods like 3 years. Then one day, Sher Khan died. Chtju her mother’s hand made him Tekua fed it. Sher Khan stuck Tekua poor neck and her expired. 10 years after Sher Khan’s teeth in the locket will Pahent. Sheru you Wherever you left to play ball and keep meeting. “