On the importance of not being naive

People are basically good but circumstances make them what they are. Many of us would have heard this at a young and impressionable age and we would have believed it as long as nothing challenged this belief. Nothing could be further from this often clichéd remark. All people are not good, some are born bad. Some are born as psychopaths.

When you teach your children to trust people by putting in their heads remarks such as this, be very careful. There paths might cross with an evil person and believing this age-old lie they would look for answers to these psychopath’s questionable behaviour elsewhere. Often, coming to wrong conclusions that they might have had bad experiences in life which is why they behave so.

It is important not be overly paranoid and distrustful of people we come across in daily life. But a well placed doubt can often save us time and energy from getting mixed up with the psychopaths of this world. If we do not know that such people are a reality we will not be able to take simple precautions from them.

It was not long back that a former colleague of mine asked my help to negotiate with a person to get a house for less deposit. The guy claimed to be the owners brother and asked us to meet him on an afternoon. The rendezvous was near a bank and upon seeing us the man asked whether my friend had brought the money for deposit and told him to deposit the same in the nearby bank. I interrupted and asked him when we can have the agreement. This made our quarry rather irritated and he said the owner was out of station and would return only after a couple of months. I told him we would not be able to give the entire amount without an agreement and as a token of our trust we can probably give some small amount as cheque and the rest of it on getting the agreement. The guy immediately made a fuss, gave some lame excuse and left the scene. Having come across people like this before I was under no doubt that the guy was a regular conman.I told my friend not to contact the guy again or ever to give someone deposit without having a written agreement.

This is just one instance of how being naive can get you to lose money, time and energy. There are far more sinister things that these people could do to your life. So beware! and always remember not everyone is a saint.

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My blog got indexed

After several days of heart rending and beating about the bush, I have cleared the rudimentary step of getting my site indexed. For the novices, this finally means that google has started recognising my site in searches. It has sent its bots crawling through my blog and finally what I have written has made it into googles large data vaults.

And how is this possible? Well I think the bots take their time to crawl through pages and finally they found me, even though they were delayed. And maybe it was because I had my cousin link to my blog through his site which was already indexed (but not without my writing an article for him where i cleverly put a reference to my site) and it could also have been because I went to google and had them find me. This might be rather uncool, but again is a good way of speeding up something that is inevitable.

All you have to do is go to google webmaster tools and click Add Site where you can give the url of your site and then ask googlebot to crawl through the site by going to webmaster tools home and clicking on your already added site. This will cause a page to be displayed with the stats of your blog. Most of the stat will look like this “No data available”. Just click on more button and select  Googlebot to crawl through the url, which will then ask whether to index your site and just click on Index site to Index your site.

However google can choose whether to index your site or not based on the content. The content has to be original. Also you must take all efforts to have several posts in your blog before you decide to go into the step of Indexing your site.

The job however is not over yet. It is not alright that your post appears on the last page of the search results. Now begins the gargantuan task of bringing it to first page and hopefully to the first result itself. The competition is tough but then without competition I would have already made it to the first page. Wish me luck in my new mission, for i will definitely share my findings with you so that together we can reach the peak of the SEO struggle.

To see where we are headed, watch for my next post

Posted in Blogging | 1 Comment

My quest for the ultimate blog

Its been three days since i launched this blog and it has not taken off!. I cant even seem to find it myself unless i log in. How are others going to find out that i have written something?

Never mind, let me put my product management skills to work. Having worked as a product manager for some big telecom firms should come in handy someday. Well i should be able to beat a path to my blog so that others can find the way to it easily. After i beat the path i need to remind myself to put up a signboard to advertise where this path leads. Well so much for paths and signboards, working for someone else is often easier than working for yourself.

Now, where do i begin. Let me first list out my problem areas

1. No content to begin with

2. No good names that i can think of for my blog. Wait! should i put this first

3. Lack of knowledge of basic internet marketing techniques.

Well i guess that just about sums it. How to tackle the first problem? Write some myself. Now i was a natural at writing when it came to sending sardonic emails to my colleagues. My writing ability seems to have evaporated, just went out of the window like that. Even if i manage to write what should i write? I cant think of a topic that will interest anyone except me.

OK, now i am beginning to get ideas. To start with let me look at what other blogs are doing. Well to apply telecom PM terminology let me do a little bit of competition tracking.

But hey i hit a road block again. I don’t even know what other blogs exist. Which ones are the best? Now due to a lack of a more brilliant idea, i go and snoop around in wikipedia for the term blog. Here, i don’t expect to find anything but i guess i can waste a little bit of my time which i seem to have aplenty. Wait, they have a few interesting things lined up. I never knew that there was an award for blogs and not just one but 2 reputed awards. Oh this makes things a lot easier, at least theoretically. If i find a way to win at least one of these awards then the world will beat a path to my blog. Soo easy! yet so difficult and distant a dream as all the ones that i am currently having. Maybe i can drop all this and try my hand at lottery. For all i know i might hit the jackpot. Well my brain often gets these Don Quixotic ideas.

So getting an award is a distant dream. What else can i do? Maybe i can look at some of the blogs that have got awards and try to copy them. Well as someone rightly said if you cant beat them, follow them. Well here are a few from which i could probably get inspired. Hyperbole and a half- I wonder if he got the idea from two and a half men. Oh there is another one Tokyoholic and My Marrakesh. I decide to look at Tokyoholic first, since it has a slight resemblance to alcoholic. Ahh! pictures and that too beautiful ones and all of them look original. Well that’s something i cant do. Though i have a DSLR i am yet to learn how to even hold it properly let alone click to create popular works of art. Very little writing… OK so this competition is in a different niche segment from what i am looking at ( or rather what i am capable of doing, sigh!). Now maybe i will have better luck with My Marrakesh and meet something that i can probably look at following. And here i go! oh wait pictures again. No this is not possible some of the best sites hae pictures and that too beautiful and original ones. Now is blogging not for the unskilled like me? Oh maybe i should take out my SLR and hope for some miracle to transform me into an ace photographer and even if it did where will go for such beautiful locales. With a heavy heart i click on another celebrated blog to confirm my worst fears about the way blogs have gone, the photography way. All right! All right! i seem to have come across at least one nerd who doesn’t know to click away but he definitely knows to draw. So the stupid hypothesis that i had formed in my head that you need to be a good photographer to become a blogger is not true. Hmmm… Thank god for that.

Now i decide its best to follow my own intuitions and settle for something that i can do rather than going after the big fish. I decide to follow a simple plan write whatever i can and later on if i find some posts are not up to the mark (by the way even i have standards) i can always press delete. Plan seems simple but it is time consuming. Now i will need time to set up my content. Several months of working for myself without any incentive sigh! And i need to have a goal. 400 blogs in 4 moths before i begin to lead the world to my blogistan.

To tackle my second problem, “No good name for my blog”. Well, i should have put that first. Never mind someday when i can think of a better name i will copy all my content to my new blog or can i change the name of my blog anytime? I am too lazy to find that out now but at least i have a plan.

Thirdly “no knowledge of internet marketing techniques”. There is no short cut to this, surely. I will have to do a painstaking research or talk to my cousin who has already done his little research and launched a site which if i remember correctly had no traffic the last time i visited it. Time to dive into the virtual world and pick up those pearls of knowledge lying deep down.


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Air guns in Kerala

As kids most boys would have dreamed of owning a real gun. Imagine the fun you could have if you had one, trying to shoot with pinpoint accuracy or hunting down small game. Unfortunately for most of us, we do not have a great gun culture. Few people own or know how to use a gun. The gun laws in our country are largely to blame. They are so restrictive that it is very difficult for a common man to own a gun. However for the gun enthusiasts who do not have the clout to get a license or the money to buy an expensive firearm, the airgun is a cheaper option and the best part of the deal is that it does not require a license to operate.

The air guns in kerala, that are available range from air rifles to air pistols. The air rifles are better for hunting small game and can be purchased off the shelf in armories. I have a Sujin classic air rifle which i had purchased for around Rs. 3500 in 2008. The gun is still in good condition even after 4 years. I had to replace the spring and washer which just cost me around Rs. 500. Air guns do need occasional service such as in changing the springs and washer to retain the guns power.

Most of the air guns in Kerala are break barrel types. This means that the rifle is cocked by breaking the barrel and bending it. This moves a piston inside the cylinder of the rifle compressing and storing the air to be released when the trigger is pressed. The air rifles are accurate and able to shoot to several hundreds of yards, which is as far as the naked eye can see to some degree of detail. The rifle calibre is mostly .22 though i believe smaller calibers such as the .17 are available. However i am yet to come across a higher caliber air rifle in Indian market.

The pellets are hollow lead with either pointed or round heads. Pointed heads are better for small game and have a neat penetration. Round heads are used for bigger game and have a shattering effect which can be seen when shot at thin wooden frames. If you use a coconut shell for target practise you can see that the pointed heads leave a perfectly rounded hole through the shell. However if you use a round head you can see that the shell is shattered. The rifle accuracy is higher than a non rifled air gun as the pellet rotates and due to the gyroscopic effect the pellet maintains its direction. It is easy to check whether a gun is a rifle or not. Rifles have their bore rifled and this can be seen if you observe the inside of the rifle in light. To do this in an air rifle, first break the barrel and put eye to the butt end of the rifle barrel and lift the other end so that light can come through it. If you see a helical grove inside the bore which runs along the whole length of the barrel then the gun is a rifle. The helical grove is usually a single pitch helix and when the pellet is fired, the air expands the pellet and it catched the ends of the helical grove and spins as it passes though the barrel.

Air gun or any gun needs maintenance. The maintenance however is neither expensive or difficult to do. The gun needs to be kept oiled when not in use because the metallic parts are often subject to corrosion. For this, pour around 4 drops of oil (gun oils are available in the armory) in the barrel and keep the gun with the butt end facing down and the barrel in an upwards position. The gun should be kept uncocked at all times when not in use. This is because the spring is the most important component of the gun and if kept cocked for large durations of time the tension in the spring can be lost. It is also important to note that the air gun should not be fired without the pellet as this can seriously affect the spring and cylinder assembly due to the force with which the piston is realeased inside the cylinder without the resistance offered by the pellet in its path.

Posted in Recreation | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The life and times of humans

My interest in human evolution makes me read all the articles I can lay my eyes on the subject. One of the most baffling things is that at some point of time in human evolution there were only 20,000 individuals of the species. From this puny number we have come to colonize all the continents of the world and evolved  into the different races that we see today. Is the story really complete or are we missing something?

Let us go back into more primitive history and begin from the apes. What made possible human evolution was a mutation or a genetic abnormality in some apes that made their jaws weaker. Now you might be surprised what a weaker jaw in an ape had to do with human evolution but a most surprising thing happened. The weaker jaw resulted in more free space in the human skull for the brain to develop. The mutation spread and the story of human evolution started. Cooking of food was a development that helped these human ancestors to further evolve. This meant that there was lesser incentive on strong jaw bones to chew food.

The story so far looks good and logical but what happened to these brainy apes from the point in time where they were a single group in the interiors of Africa? Why did a few remain there, why did some travel north towards Europe? What prompted others to move towards Asia, Australia or the Americas?

The surprising thing is these people travelled large distances over the sea to reach some of the places that humans now inhabit. The journey even by todays standards is no small feat. Many of these continents had to be rediscovered when modern world began to send out seafarers to search for distant lands and their treasures. Today humans have branched into caucasian, Mongoloid, Australoids and Negritos. It would be indeed interesting what mutations or anomalies made it possible and it would also shed light on what we are capable of evolving into. Maybe one day some mutation might make it possible for us to develop wings and take to the air.

The story of human evolution has been one in which mutations and abnormalities hae played a significant role. Take for instance the case of lactose intolerance. Humans at some point in time were not able to digest milk after a particular age but today the mutants who were first able to digest milk have come to dominate our species.

Whatever the true story, we have only started putting a few pieces of the jigsaw together. As we progress we answer many questions but leave many more unanswered and raise far more questions than we have answered. The quest to complete the story is a never ending and tireless one.

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Bringing traffic to your blog

After spending hours reading about keyword density, the importance of back links and meta tags, I am tired. It cannot be said that I have collected all information needed to increase traffic to my site. But nevertheless I have formed some ideas which i am going to test out in my quest for the ultimate blog.

First of all gaining traffic is not as easy as getting your site indexed. It needs a mix of SEO techniques, so that your blog appears when people search for it, and some amount of commonsense. Why should someone visit your blog? The primary reason could be that they are searching for something and found your blog in the search result of a search engine and decided to check it out.  But is the search engine the only way people come to your site? No. One of the most important ways people might come to your site is through links in other sites where they visit more often. Out of curiosity they might have clicked the link, but for this your blog needs to be mentioned in other sites. And getting this done is no easy task. For this you either need to know people who have already established sites. Maybe write an article for them which you can link to your own blog or cajole them to link from an existing article. Another way could be online forums which deal with the topic you are writing about and commenting on these to insert your link. But watch out, not all of them might accept your comments with links or they might exclude crawlers from the comment section by an exclusion tag resulting in your blog getting no advantage whatsoever. All you can do for the time being is try as many forums as you can.

But even if you get people to accidentally click on your blog, how do you ensure that they will come again. The only way to do this is CONTENT and I guess there is no shortcut to this. By content i mean not just text but something more like a visually appealing feast and a well designed easy to navigate blog with a pinch of humour should go a long way in bringing the clicks back.

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