An Unquiet Mind is growing up. It is no longer an adolescent that has to live under the auspices of WordPress.com. It is now getting its own home on the web.
I cannot disable comments on this blog so please do not take the pains to comment here anymore. I am trying my best to get all the posts, comments, etc. moved over to the new site.
I shall announce the new URL when the migration is complete. Hopefully, I should be able to make automatic redirection work, so you will find it yourself!
Thanks in advance. Please bear with me till the migration is complete.
Take a look at these numbers:
- This is my 267th post.
- There are 2962 authentic comments on this blog.
- My posts have 203 tags in 39 categories.
- Total views crossed 100K quite a while back.
- These numbers usually don’t mean much to me. But I always use a trick while climbing a mountain. When I am exhausted and feel like I can’t go up any further, I turn and look the other way around. Seeing how much ground we’ve covered and how much height we’ve attained, is a re-energizing technique that works.
- However, the need to look at these numbers now did not arise because I’m exhausted writing on this blog. Since I started An Unquiet Mind over two years back, I have written exclusively here. And now I’ve come to a fork in my path.
- Discounting my professional writing at MakeUseOf.com, I have decided to start a separate personal blog exclusively focused on technology, specifically social networking and social media websites and technologies.
- Since I began a writing career, I realized that being an early adopter of new technologies, I needed to participate in online communities of like-minded technology enthusiasts and industry influencers.
- While Twitter has been one vehicle to achieve this, FriendFeed has been more empowering. To retain the intellectual flavor of An Unquiet Mind undiluted, I decided to post technology related content separately. Also, it did not make sense to direct the 90K+ MakeUseOf subscribers interested in cool websites, software, and internet tips to An Unquiet Mind!
- Since I am known as the Social Geek in these tech circles, my technology blog is of A Social Geek. I chose Posterous rather than WordPress as a platform since it’s flexibility suits my needs better. Feel free to follow/subscribe to A Social Geek if you’re so inclined. Posts from there are also displayed in the sidebar here. Thus, my blogs reflects my two personae on Twitter – @SocialGeek maps to A Social Geek, @Palsule maps here.
- At this milestone I also decided to experiment with a different theme, primarily for one reason: it gave me the push to do the necessary housekeeping of this blog that has been on the backburner for a while. I have reorganized my categories, which are now displayed at the top. Hovering your mouse over them reveals sub-categories too.
- I think this will help An Unquiet Mind remain unquiet about things that matter. I think unquiet minds rule over matter, but never mind.
Image: Janus, the two-faced Roman god of beginnings and endings.
Friends, thank you for visiting my blog and for your comments.
I met with an unfortunate accident end of last week, and hence will be out of action for a couple of weeks. Nothing serious, but I need to rest and recover. Thanks for visiting. I will be back soon.
After months of sitting on my computer on a backless settee, I began to realize that my back has a spinal cord, and that it's made up of individual vertebrae.But that's not what this is about. While my new chair does indeed improve my posture, this is a new posturing using Posterous.com. I am writing this email using Gmail, sending it to email@example.com and attaching the photo of my new chair. After I hit the send button, I sit back in my chair. I expect Posterous will:
- Post this email and the photo to my Posterous blog
- Post my photo to my Flickr photo stream
- Post my photo to my Picasa web albums
- Post this update to my Facebook account (I want to see how it does that, whether it just links, or uploads the photo, etc.)
- Post this email and photo to my WordPress.com blog – An Unquiet Mind
- Post this update to my Friendfeed, which will then tweet an update on Twitter as @SocialGeek
- Post this update as a tweet on Twitter as @Palsule
Just 1 Email. Now, let's see how it works!
Many folks asked me for an update on Pune’s Blog Camp, after the previous photo-post. How was the experience? Was it worth it? Who was there?
Not being diplomatic, I can say that the experience was an interesting one for me, with positives and negatives. I had never been to any blog camp, bar camp, or Tweetup before, so I did not have any expectations, and that probably helped.
There was an interesting discussion going on even before the blog camp in the comments to Navin Kabra’s PuneTech Why You Should Attend Pune Blog Camp post. At the other end of the spectrum, post-event, the insights from the camp led to Dhananjay Nene’s Why I was disappointed with Pune Blog Camp 2.
Some others have shared their experiences too. Sandeep has a largely positive thank you note at his blog The Mousetrap. Anant has a detailed write up on his blog, Rahul has an update on the Devil’s Workshop, Aniket has shared his awesome feeling about the camp at Melody in Dissonance, while Deep Ganatra raises an important concern about unintentional session-hijacking. Almost all of them have written about the various sessions that took place, so I will not repeat them. Nor will I remember the names of all the presenters! So I will just share a few of my thoughts. You can also read Pune Mirror and TOI’s coverage.
A word of thanks to the organizers is a must. Tarun Chandel led the tone of the camp beautifully, making people get comfortable with his opening presentation and stepping in to facilitate whenever he could. I think the facilitation needed more support – it seemed he was the only one intent on facilitating.
Meeting In Person
There were a few specific people I wanted to meet and that was one of my motivations for going to the camp. There were a few surprises too. I knew about sites like Wogma and Track.in, and it was good to meet online entrepreneurs Meetu Kabra and Arun Prabhudesai in person. I met fellow Twitter contacts like Amit Paranjape, an entrepreneur who shares myriad interests like me, who was busy with his Smartphone throughout the camp as I’d expected! Dhananjay Nene, a software architect, was another Twitter contact and meeting him personally was a surprise as he wasn’t as old as he looked in his avatar!
Friends in need are friends on Friendfeed. I recognized Sandeep Gautam instantly, even if we had only recently started following each other on Friendfeed. Sandeep writes on psychology and neuroscience while being into software development and poetry, at The Mousetrap. Sneha Gore has done a survey-based research into motivations of young bloggers which I found interesting, and meeting Pune Mirror’s Vishal was also good.
- Despite what the self-analysis kit says, the camp was not centered around a theme or purpose. Blogging is a wide umbrella term for any camp to succeed without having a theme – SEO, journalism, the ubiquitous ‘musings’ – some theme is needed for greater audience-presenter harmony.
- Despite all the marketing-SEO focused presentations, the Golden Rule of SEO was not emphasized at all, or I missed it altogether. Content is king. Period.
- No talk of the future of blogging. Yongfook, author of the popular open-source self-hosted Lifestreaming application SweetCron has proclaimed The Blog is Dead. Wired magazine advised not to start a new blog, and to pull the plug if you already had one. ReadWriteWeb asked if the future of blogging is lifetreaming. I thought these topics will come up in a ‘blog camp’, but either they didn’t or I missed them.
- Sometimes, I felt disenchanted with the perspective of an SEO/Marketing oriented pro-blogger that looks at readers as pure numbers and statistics on a graph. Rather than a birds-eye view of traffic flowing on a freeway, I prefer seeking the company of people actually driving those cars – those who take the time to comment and share their ideas and opinions on my posts. But that’s just me.
- Despite the monetization related talks, there was no talk about writing. I take the blame for this. As a professional writer who is making money out of writing on a blog, and not looking at promotion, marketing, or SEO, I could have talked about how you can earn money as a blog writer without being keen on SEO.
- Meeting lots and lots of bloggers! And especially meeting the few I wrote about above.
- The passion and entrepreneurship of youth that I witnessed was inspiring. Young people in their 20s have .com domains and are discussing SEO. Wow. I actually felt out of place.
- Navin and Vishal’s presentation on what newspapers can learn from blogs and vice versa.
- Sandeep’s presentation on niche science blogging.
- Regional focus – Shantanu Oak talked about Devanagri spell-checking.
- Seeing lots and lots of newbie or wannabe bloggers.
- Bloggers should be on Twitter if they want to expand visibility of their blog.
- Some folks try to make money out of blogging. The clever folks make money from bloggers.
- The ‘blogger elite’ usually doesn’t comment on each other’s blogs. They use Twitter to keep in touch with each other.
- I personally feel there should be disclaimers within the presentations on monetization, when a lot of impressionable young people are in the audience. I could sense that many such people got the feeling that one can easily make money out of blogging, if one is geeky enough and knows a few ‘secrets’.
- In a blog camp, the law of two feet is very important. I did it successfully – rather than being felt obliged to listen to sessions that I was not interested in, I preferred spending one-to-one time with people, which is what worked best for me.
- If I go to a blog camp again, I will present. In retrospect, I could have shared:
- My experience with plagiarism
- The intense debates on this blog surrounding female foeticide, right to free speech, whether poverty is the root cause of terrorism, the legal implications of blogging, and paranormal phenomena. How these thoughtful discussions with readers have enriched me is very precious to me as a blogger.
- My experiences of blogging at Mutiny.in especially when defending the Indo-US Nuclear Deal. There are distinct differences between blogging on your personal blog and doing it on a high-visibility group blog.
- As mentioned earlier, writing to earn money, which I think is a dream quite a few people might have.
Thus, all in all, an interesting experience. Will I go to another camp? If it is not centered around a specific theme, definitely not. Else, depends on the theme!
A few weeks back, when I realized that the world’s largest automaker was heading towards bankruptcy, I did a nostalgic photo-post of General Motors World Headquarters at the Renaissance Center and Detroit. This week, Six Flags, one of the world’s largest amusement park company in the world announced that it is filing for bankruptcy. It seems that in this economic downturn, people don’t want to spend their hard-earned money to get amused. So here is another nostalgic photo-post of a day at an amusement park that was loosely affiliated with Six Flags.
Cedar Point at Sandusky, Ohio currently holds the world record for the maximum number of roller coasters, one of which is the world’s second tallest and second fastest roller coaster. It has been voted The Best Amusement Park In The World for 11 consecutive years (yes, over Disneyworld in Florida). This is how the park looks from the air (not my photo):
It was a cloudy, rainy day that we went to Cedar Point. We were anxious, but the rides were fortunately open and running. Click on any of the pictures to get the higher resolution.
The cable car runs through the entire length of the park, since walking around the whole day can become quite tiring!
It was a bit difficult to get good outdoor photographs because the light was poor in rainy conditions.
The Top Thrill Dragster has been the most thrilling experience of my life. Paragliding at the foot of the Himalayas didn’t come anywhere close. 0 to 120 mph (193 kmph) in 4 seconds. A 90 degree climb up to 420 feet (~ 50 stories) and a 90 degree straight fall while spiraling 270 degrees. All over in just 17 seconds. I managed to capture a train climbing, at the top, and descending:
In the past few months, there have been many updates to the blog that I would like to summarize here.
An Unquiet Mind, which got a tagline, has an updated About Myself page (again). The recent films series is now indexed in the Favorite Films A to Z page, which will also let you download or access the list online once the list is finished.
The sidebar includes a link to my Author Profile at MakeUseOf.com, from where you can subscribe to my MUO articles RSS feed. My FriendFeed updates are shown in the sidebar. This will show you my recent tweets and updates even if you are not using any of those services. Clicking on the FriendFeed widget will take you to my FriendFeed profile, from where you can connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other web services you choose (even if you don’t use FriendFeed).
- 42: Litterateuse Gauri, who has a unique way with words
- Dev’s World: A serious student and professional of film-making, who generously and meticulously shares his knowledge and wisdom
- Gaizabonts: The multi-dimensional and prolific Atul Sabnis
- Karma Calling: DotMom’s insightful and enjoyable experiences with family life and parenting
- Life Rules!: Gauri Gharpure, who writes beautiful poetry, and whose blog I’ve yet to explore further
- POV: Harini’s perspective on current affairs which usually resonates very well with me
- Time and Again: Ruhi, who shares my passion for good cinema
- Visceral Observations: Poonam, who should have been on my blogroll a long time back
Needless to say, these one line descriptions of blogs are not meant to encapsulate them – they are just the essence of what I’ve discovered so far.
Lastly, I wanted to mention that Nita had graciously wanted to bestow the Brilliant Weblog Award on An Unquiet Mind, at a time when I was on a hiatus for personal reasons. By being inactive at the time, I have relinquished the award, but I do want to say that your comments, emails, and remembrance always mean a lot to me.
Please do let me know if you have any suggestions, criticism, or any other feedback regarding the blog updates!
Yesterday’s news about GM cutting 21,000 more jobs and killing the Pontiac brand evoked nostalgia and some mixed feelings. So this is a photo-sequel to my almost two year old post about life in Detroit.
For two years, I lived, worked, breathed, ate, and slept in the shadow of this landmark. General Motors World Headquarters, the Renaissance Center, affectionately known as ‘RenCen’. RenCen is one of the world’s largest office complexes, totaling 5,500,000 square feet. It is so confusing inside for newcomers, that I had made a PowerPoint presentation for guiding our new team members.
The red monorail is the ‘People Mover’ – a public transport system in downtown ‘World Auto Capital’ Detroit.
These are views from my apartment window.
A few snaps of Detroit downtown at night. Just like the darkness of the night, and unlike the men of the Renaissance Era who brought the light of reason in our lives, GM’s Rencen is headed back to the Dark Ages.
The year was 1995, the place, Berlin. The Berlin Wall collapse was still in public memory, and a personal wall was collapsing for me in the form of my first stay abroad. As a twenty-something year old young man, this trip opened new doors for me – exploring the WWW, developing personal friendships with Europeans, attending live classical concerts and an Opera, and buying 50 western classical music CDs to bring back with me (as they weren’t available in India then).
There are many unforgettable memories of those days. My partner from India was a Jew, and we once searched for the only synagogue in the capital of the Nazis. On wandering unsuccessfully in the area near the address, we finally gathered courage to ask a couple of security guards outside a government building. The guards were holding the most lethal weapon I had ever seen up close, and since my partner couldn’t speak German, I had to do the deed. We finally discovered that that building itself was the synagogue, and it was closed on a Sunday, and the guards were part of routine 24×7 security.
I made many friends during my stay. Wild weekend partying with a couple of graphic artists who spent half the year working in Germany, and the other half partying in Goa. A French colleague who programmed, cooked, sailed his yacht in the Atlantic, with whom I discovered common interests like astronomy, philosophy, and quantum mechanics. A gentle German friend who played the Moonlight Sonata for me in his living room, and showed me videos of Herbert von Karajan rehearsing with his orchestra. Techno music was the ‘in-thing’ in Europe at the time, with all the pubs and discos grooving to it.
Another colleague, Stefan, told me that he too played the Tabla, and I was taken aback. It turned out that he had it as one of the instruments on his synthesizer, which he had also hooked up with his PC. When I visited him, I fiddled with the keyboard and soon my Dhumali bhajan taal (rhythm) had his curiosity piqued. He added a cool techno beat to it. I then added some Tambora with a twist, and he added some drums. A flute, some vocals, and some techno sound effects completed the track. It was Stefan who finally used software to edit and give structure to the track, but this was my first (and only) experiment with composing music!
I recently played a real tabla after a very long gap of over 20 years, and realized that if I wanted to play anything worthwhile, I’d have to give up working and blogging!
This is a low fidelity MP3 version created from a 1995 audio cassette, using the recording and noise filtering technique described in my first article on MakeUseOf.com. Now, I couldn’t pass up plugging that could I?
Disclaimer: This techno-bhajan is not meant to offend the religious sentiments of any ultra-conservatives, including all types of human or ape ‘Dal’s and ‘Sena’s. Clicking the Play button absolves the author of any moral transgressions.