Tag Archives: Yahoo Real Beauty

‘Courtesy Of’ Doesn’t Nullify Content Theft

Out of curiosity, I looked up the meaning of the phrase ‘Courtesy of’. Here’s what my favorite online reference resource had to say about it:

  • done or performed as a matter of courtesy or protocol
  • offered or provided free by courtesy of the management

I think it’s abundantly clear from this that ‘courtesy of’ means that permission has been asked and given. I thought it might be useful to clear that up since there are so many misconceptions regarding this, online.

And now, here’s why I felt the need for an English lesson, first thing in the day.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

I wrote a post about women in sports. In addition to my blog, the post also appeared on Yahoo! Real Beauty(which licensed the content with all my permission and requisite legal terms).

A blogger decided to avail of the same post by simply copying the entire thing and reposting it to his blog. Of note, there has been no interaction between him and me before this so the question of his asking my permission doesn’t occur. When I found the post, I emailed him, tweeted him and left a comment stating what had been done and asking him to put in just an excerpt and a linkback.

A fellow-tweeter left a comment too. Mr.Copycat replied to her comment by email, stating that a linkback had been put in.The post now had a hyperlink on the (thus far) text link to my blog. But the entire post was still up there, my comments and my emails were unanswered.

The only way I could think of, to reach Mr.Copycat now was to respond to the email thread (which the other tweeter had kindly marked me on). It was only after that, that the post came down.

I took what I consider a courteous approach to the whole thing. But consider, would someone who claims to be an online professional (web designer) not know the difference between typing in a link and actually providing a linkback? How about the SEO devaluation of the original post (on my blog & Yahoo!) as a result? And most of all, the very obvious ignoring of my comments casts this in poor light indeed. This is a message to the thief – I’ve kept your name out of this post since you took the post down immediately. It would do you good to remember though, that the internet never forgets and potential employers may not want to work with a web designer who has been accused of cheating or stealing.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

And here’s case no.2 (of the three that I found this morning). I wrote a post about mobilephone apps that every urban dweller needs to have. The post also appeared on Yahoo! Real Beauty (under the aforementioned arrangement, on board permission-wise).

Now I find, a website called Andhra Pradesh Information Portal sees fit to copy the entire post without so much as a ‘May I?’ I don’t see a comments section so I can’t speak up about it on the site.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

This isn’t my first issue with content theft and sadly, I know it won’t be the last. Most tragic of all (to me), I still get responses along the lines of “Nothing can be done about it”. Notably, one person pointed out the ‘courtesy of’ at the bottom of the copied posts as an excuse for it not technically being a theft. I asked him, if someone walked away with his wallet and claimed that he had given it to them, if he’d still say that was technically not a theft. There’s no reason to not think of it that way. Just because it’s online, doesn’t make it any less criminal. Just because it’s an intangible (data) instead of a physical object like a wallet, doesn’t make the person who takes it, anything other than a thief.

If you have any further doubts about this, please refer to the start of my post again. I seem to have inadvertently become a champion of the cause of anti-content theft. But I’m damned if I stay a hapless victim.

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Update: I found another copied post on the same blog. (Original here, the copy has been taken down). Mr.Copycat caught me on gtalk and apologized. Then he said,

“can you tell me which are your content i have posted, because i will not able to know which are your content and which are of others.”

I told him that I refused to waste any more time chasing after him (my entire morning wasted in this) and that if I found any more of my content stolen, I’d take action accordingly. He asked for a day to take his blog down as he was at work.

Less than an hour later, I was besieged by gtalk messages by him (which I saw on my phone) asking me to take down my tweets about the content theft as he had removed the post. It got to a point of his accusing me of being unfair. Mr.Copycat apparently assumes that I’m sitting around waiting for him to take the post that HE copied down and can’t be bothered with patience. It’s odd, how impatient he got over a few minutes of negative publicity while he took his own sweet time to respond (not to mention all the time the copied content was up online). I made a dash to the nearest computer to talk to him and tell him to stop harassing me. His last words were,

“ok go to hell”

Just for that, Sandip Chavda, your name features on this blog. Respect is two-ways, idiocy (unfortunately for you) only one-way.

Scarf It Up!

Accessories fascinate me more than clothes. Through my college years, these took the form of jewelery, ranging from earrings to medallions, necklaces, anklets, rings, belts and every form of adornment I could find. When I started work, most of my jewelery had to be put away as it was too funky/ impractical/ irreverent/ inappropriate for officewear. That’s when I discovered another accessory – a simple length of cloth.

It started with knotting a colourful scarf around my neck to break up the monotony of my officegarb of drab shirt and grey trousers. That’s when the world of folds, drapes, knots and related accessories like brooches and pins opened up to me.

Salwar-kameezes found a place in my wardrobe around the same time and from that direction, I came to the Indian version of scarves. Dupattas such an integral part of Indianwear, lend themselves to so many ways of wear, spanning the range from flirty to pragmatic, modest to seductive and accessorial to pragmatic. They add character to the clothes you wear.

I love mixing up the conventional and this accessory allows me the freedom to do so without stumbling into inappropriate. In my Kala Ghoda boheme look, I sport a regular cotton dupatta as a stole. In Lavasa, I wore a stole as a yoke. Most of the time, I offset a severe formal look with a soft scarf (like I did with the suited-booted look).

Call it a stole, call it scarf or a bandana or a dupatta, the versatility of an extra piece of cloth cannot be emphasized enough. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to refer to this as a scarf.

The most common ways that I see people wear scarves are:

  • Square: Fold in triangle, place on head and knot under neck. An import from rural Europe, this style has gotten associated with fever patients in urban Indian.
  • Narrow & long rectangle: Loop over neck, tie once and fasten with pin in the middle of the front. This style is most commonly seen on the uniforms of the service sector, especially airlines.
  • Rope around the neck: Looped tight around neck and hung down the front or the back. Most chiffon/slippery fabric dupattas are worn this way, presumably because it is the only practical way to. This style doesn’t do anything by way of modesty, grace or aesthetics for the outfit.
  • Droop-off-shoulder: Very popular when the dupatta is the focus of the outfit because of its embroidery or other work, this is worn loosely draped over one shoulder/arm. It serves well to showcase the dupatta but often gets in the way or falls off during regular activity. I think it’s best suited to a mannequin.
  • The modest V: Each end thrown over one shoulder, the front pulled down to cover the torso. This is the most modest style I’ve seen and it finds great favour with the more conservative of my family members. For all its shapelessness, I think it still adds an element of grace and feminity to the otherwise straight lines of the salwar-suit.
  • The dhavani: or the odhni in a lehenga-choli. This outfit is rapidly going extinct, except for ceremonial occasions. There, the northern/western versions of draping over one shoulder and tucking into the lehenga seemed to be most popular. The southern version of mimicking a saree palluv (drape across torso for maximum coverage and tuck other end into lehenga/pavadai) doesn’t seem to find as much favour.
  • The elbow drape: Popularised by prime time Hindi soap operas, this style involves draping the dupatta over each elbow, leaving the ends hanging alongside the lehenga and the middle forming a triangle down the wearer’s lower back. I don’t like this style too much since it necessarily involves holding one’s arms at right-angles (Barbie doll style) at all times.

Some of the newer styles I’ve started to favour include looping, doubling, folding and knotting. Here are some of my spins on the conventional technique:

  1. Fold a square scarf end-to-end instead of tip-to-tip to form a rectangle and tie carefully around neck with a brooch in the middle.
  2. Drape a long, narrow scarf over the shoulders like a dupatta, but with one end longer than the other. Bring the longer end across the back and over the shoulder with a shorter end. This can be levelled at the same length as the other end that’s over the shoulder and pinned where they cross. Or if the scarf is long enough, cross the front and drape over the back again.
  3. Fold a long scarf in half and drape around the nape so the ends are on one side and the loop is on the other. Insert the ends into the loop down the front of your neck. This is actually a classic style but I like to keep one end shorter than the other and either knot or pin it in the front.
  4. Fold a scarf into a very narrow band. Circle it around the neck smoothly as many times as required to leave only a short length at each end. Tuck these into the circles and move the tucked area to the back of the neck where it will be hidden by hair. If you have short hair like mine, camouflage it with a pin. I like to wear the pin to one side of the neck in this style but it can also be worn in the center. This is good for a chic style that also keeps your neck warm.

Often I find it isn’t necessary to own a particularly expensive or varied range of scarves. A small mix of colours and prints serve well if you’re willing to experiment with draping. Basics can be jazzed up by interesting pins.

Since I travel around in Mumbai’s pollution, I always carry a scarf to tie my hair and cover my face. Recently I’ve taken to using the scarf even when I’m not travelling and adding it to my outfit. A dress is the one garment I never see Indian women accessorize with a stole. Here are two of my experiments:

This is actually a long, straight skirt from FabIndia. It turned out to be too big for me so I snipped off a strip at the bottom and added it to the top as shoulder straps. A thin black belt to contain the roomy skirt silhouette but it still looked incomplete. So I folded over a black floral silk scarf into a triangle and crossed it over my shoulders. Protection from catcalls (because of the strappy dress) and interest value at once!

I wear:

  • Dress: FabIndia skirt altered
  • Scarf: Black silk, Janpath market, New Delhi
  • Blue wooden bangle: FabIndia
  • Black-with-butis cotton handbag: FabIndia
  • Black strappy flat sandals: RawHide

The second is a Benetton knit dress patterned in black, brown and white plaid. The print is too drab for one of my evenings out but the silhouette is just that tad too dressy for work. So I teamed it with a black scarf (with red & beige floral print) draped over my shoulders. The other accessories are beige Catwalk sandals a FabIndia black-with-butis cloth handbag.

Without the scarf, it’s a classic silhouette. But if one is either conscious of flabby arms (as I was when this picture was taken) or too cold for a simple sleeveless dress, the scarf provides adequate protection.

So the next time you look at your closet thinking you’ve nothing interesting to wear, let that scarf show you the way out!

~O~O~O~O~O~

* Cross-posted to Divadom. A version is posted to Yahoo! Real Beauty.

Marvin’s World: Angry Birds & Aporkalypse

Don’t Be A Bird-Brain, Be A Pig!

Pop culture is a mystery. I’m stumped by the success of a game that involves catapulting scowling, winged creatures onto a building to destroy it. The movie Rio: Angry Birdsmay have contributed to its popularity but then again, most people I know went to watch it because of the game. Evidently omnipresence equals popularity.

I admit I’m not particularly enthused by shoot-em-down style games. But most people I know who enjoy those like more gore and grit in their graphics than Angry Birds‘ primary school cartoon depiction. What’s more, on my phone, I couldn’t even really see the angry bird expressions well enough to derive any comic value from them.

It’s not like Angry Birds is particularly challenging. I’ve been told by its diehard fans that it requires an understanding of physics. Really? Oh, and so does walking. Duh. On a tiny mobilephone screen, I don’t really get the intellectual kick of figuring out the perfect angle and propel velocity. On a bigger screen like a console game, I doubt I’d be interested in a game with such basic line-drawing/primary-colour graphics. And at an arcade, I’d just be too embarrassed to be seen around what I see as a little kiddies game.

But this is just me. Angry Birds (and the other versions it spawned including Angry Birds Rio) continues to rule not just gaming thumbs but popular lingo as well. The boy has taken to frowning and saying,

“Oof, you’re such an Angry Bird!”

each time I’m, well, angry. I had the following conversation on Twitter:

@ideasmithy: Temper has nothing to do with fur and feathers. #$%% Rio for popularizing a stupid phrase!! #angrybirds

@krist0ph3r: @ideasmithy my friend has pillowfights with her husband when she’s angry. she’s never heard of angry birds.

Angry Birds is a product of Rovio Mobile and is available for free download in the Android Market.

On the other hand, I’m really taken up with Aporkalypse. The protagonists are four pigs, each one with its own unique powers and behaviour. The game begins with Hungry Pig, a rotund, always starving piggie that can eat its way through obstacles but also regurgitate them for use as stepping stones and other things. Then we meet War Pig, strapped in porcine military style and armed to its chops to shoot down enemies. At a mid-level stage, the Pest Pig enters the game, resplendent in its green & smelly self and it can help you control enemies by stink-bombing them. And finally, there’s Ghost Pig which can move over crumbling bricks with ease, teleport each time someone dies but also come back to its ‘living’ self.

The game involves negotiating the pigs through a series of obstacles, facing down monsters, collecting coins and tending to special tasks like freeing pigs, all using a combination of each pig’s skills.The obstacles include crumbling walls that break down after you pass, rivers, slippery ice cubes, fiery paths, clouds and rivers. The maze is multi-level with staircases, bridges, trolleys, broken connections and sheer drops. And finally there is (slightly drunk-looking) Angel Pig and Devil Pig who will do their best to keep your pigs from doing what they want.

Aporkalypse is punctuated by tongue-in-cheek conversations between Angel Pig and Devil Pig between levels. The sound effects include grunting (!), Hungry Pig’s gobbling and War Pig‘s firing. Adding to the entertainment is the expression on the pigs’ faces when they’ve been shot at by War Pig, stink-bombed by Pest Pig or move between life & death (Ghost Pig). And finally, there’s all the additional effects like a stink-bombed location with emanating fumes, rotating coins, Devil Pig’s jabbing attacks and even random animals frozen within the ice cubes.

I think there’s actually only one possible way to get past each level. You can make the game even more complex but limiting your scroll options. There is no Map for a birds’ eye view of the game. And if you turn off the scrolling option, your pigs will negotiate their way across blind till the end of a corridor or river. I love the sensory detail in this game, right from its music to the elaborate depiction of obstacles to the perfectly tuned movements and expressions of the pigs. Aporkalypse also achieves that golden mean of staying one step ahead of the player to keep it interesting but not so difficult that it is frustrating to play it.

I’m currently on what I think is a middle level of the game since I can’t see a way to track the level number. The four pigs have come together for the first time in my game and I’ve been struggling to get them all across a maze of obstacles. But I’m enjoying every minute of it! And the end of it, a grunting piggie is just a helluva lot cuter than an angry bird!

Aporkalypse is a product of HandyGames and is available for free download as well as an extended, paid version in the Android Market.

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*A version of this is posted to Yahoo! Real Beauty.

Marvin’s World: Tapestry

This is a rather belated announcement but perhaps not so much considering my case. I have a new phone. Yes, I have finally joined the ranks of smartphone owners. Bypassing the Apple fad (yes, yes, I know their products are superior, I just don’t have the moolah, okay?), I’ve gone the Google route. The new phone is a Samsung Android Galaxy Pop and has been duly christened Marvin (the Paranoid Android, you philistines!).

First of all, I don’t want to hear how this model sucks and every other brand, technology or model surpasses this one. Technology is expensive, gadgetry soon obsolete and a  mobilephone is an extremely personal device. I pondered this decision for nearly six months before finally buying it. Nobody gains anything from running down my final choice (except competition brand sellers)…why do people do that anyway?

Secondly, the phone has now been in use for a little over a month which I know doesn’t qualify it for ‘new’ in the gadget-slutty (easy come, easy go) world I inhabit. But I’ve never used a mobilephone for less than two years at a time. It’s not about how ‘in’ the device is, it is about how long and how well it fulfils your requirements. A mobilephone is the one gadget that is with you at almost all times. A month isn’t very long to get used to the feel and controls of a new phone.

And now cribbing aside, I’ll tell you about the phone. I was thrilled to discover how much more I could do online using this phone. First stop, the Social Hub – synchronizing Gtalk contacts, Facebook calendar, Twitter accounts and email.

Then I discovered the Android Market and its wonderous delights. Since Marvin went online, I’ve downloaded a number of apps, all free. Now I’m like those thousands of annoying people who’s more interested in their phones than the outside world. At least, I try and keep mine on silent when I’m in a public place (don’t you want to sometimes strangle people who’re constantly going beep-beep-beeeeeeep! in public??!).

Games caught my fancy which made me realize, contrary to what I tell the boy, I do have a gamer in me too. I lean to strategy & empire management games rather than the dishoom-dishoom ‘boy’ stuff.

Chess was my first stop but having passed on that useful tip to my checkmating dad, I moved on. Sudoku was duly loaded and played. By the way, I discovered a puzzle called Tapestry. Tapestry gives you a grid of empty squares with a sequence of numbers for each row and column. The sequence tells you how many and in what order squares need to be filled in, emptied or left alone. When the puzzle is solved, it shows a tapestry-like picture.

I struggled a bit initially when an accidental touch would shade or empty a square inadvertently. But this may just have been the teething troubles of a touchscreen newbie. The game also gets a little harder to play at the higher levels since you have to keep scrolling left-right and up-down. Bearing in mind that this is a game of a full pattern, it is difficult to focus on specific areas at a time. When a row or column have been completed, a green check or a red cross indicate if the sequence has been followed. But these indicators don’t show properly for the top row.

Even with all these glitches, the basic nature of Tapestry is compelling. With time, one figures out certain obvious things. For example, a sequence that contains a high number of coloured squares (8 in a 10×10 grid) will occupy a  section in the middle of the grid, no matter how it is placed. These tend to be the building points of the more complicated Tapestry patterns. The puzzle is just easy enough to allow you a few early wins in completed sequences and then tricky enough mid-way that you might spend hours trying to figure out the correct sequences to finish the game.

The game takes awhile to start up, from the opening screen to the options menu where you can pick grid size. The puzzle itself doesn’t take long to load. Quitting the game mid-way saves the game and opens it to that same position when you return. This makes it an ideal game for when you’re travelling or waiting and may need to shut out/return quickly.

Tapestry is owned by VIRlogic and available for free download on Android.

* A version is posted to Yahoo! Real Beauty Recommendations.

Reverb 10.4: Wonderful Life

This Reverb 10 prompt seems rather similar to the previous one and it makes me wonder whether the exercise will continue to hold interest at all. Still, nothing ventured, so here goes.

December 4 – Wonder.

How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

(Author: Jeffrey Davis)

Having left behind the rigid daily schedule (and more importantly), the utter joy-drain of the corporate world was like opening up the door to wonder. I’ve been moody at times, grumpy and even sad. But I’ve never been without that sense of wonder since I quit.

There are walks on the beach of course, which never fail to remind me of how much bigger then universe is, than my petty troubles, than the little cocoon that we Mumbaikers tend to think of as the world. And then there are visits to the bookshop. More and more I see familiar names pop up in the Indian Writing aisle. That makes my dream seem closer, much more reachable. And in the next lane, my favorite authors or genres jostle for my attention. I’m lost in the beauty of human imagination, in the glory of words and ideas that live on long after the minds and tongues they passed through, are gone. And finally, a sense of overwhelming awe that I am to be a part (however small) of this world. Wonder, indeed.

I’ve lost heart more than once. Last year, at six months from quitting, I expressed my frustration at being rudderless. It was my father who reminded me that the jobs that waited for me then would still be waiting a year later and that I shouldn’t give up so quickly on what I thought was my passion. Another six months later, another man I’ve come to love, reminded me of the same thing. A short three months later, I wrestled with self-doubt in my own head. As if in reply, within the space of a week, my mailbox was popping with opportunities to do what I love – write. One resulted in the BlogAdda column, the second was the JetLite article, then came Yahoo! Real Beauty and other things.

A few days ago, I met a placement agent to discuss a potential job, the kind that I had left behind over a year ago. For the first time in my career life, I said that my top priority was a good work-life balance. She frowned and said that the company would not want to meet someone with ‘such issues’. I tried to explain that I was not afraid of hard work but that I was making a decision to let other areas of my life be as important. She shrugged, already having lost interest and the interview should have ended there. But quite suddenly, she shot out,

“You know, most companies would not expect this from someone at your level. People with 10-12 years of experience can say these things. But someone who is just beginning their career should not have all these restrictions.”

I gaped and then quickly took my leave. For at least two days after that I agonized over what she had said, the old guilt creeping in. After 6 years, 3 companies and managing over 25 people, was I still ‘beginning my career’? Was I losing the strong work ethic I thought I had? Had I ever had it at all? Was I being unrealistically demanding, behaving in essence like the ‘pampered princesses’ I’ve loathed all these years?

But then, I remembered my many late nights at work. I remembered forfeiting weekends and holidays. I remembered struggling with a near-arthritic neck, to stare at the computer screen. I remembered forcing myself to not think about period pains and nausea while standing up to make presentations. I remembered skipping meals for meetings and stepping out of restaurants to take phone calls that just had to be answered. I remembered finishing a report or an important document at 11:30p.m., then getting myself a cup of tea and then sitting down to spend another hour poring over the whole thing all over again to make doubly-trebly-hundred times sure it was perfect. I remembered the harsh words of my seniors picking out my flaws but I also remembered the sense of injustice I felt. And finally I thought of the fact that I had missed the weddings of every single one of my close friends in the past five years because I just hadn’t had the time.

I realised I deserved to ask for what I wanted. With it came the crystallization of the thought that much of corporate ambition and success thrives on belittling people, on keeping people insecure and subservient. It survives by killing the sense of joy and wonder in people. And I’d be a fool to willingly let myself back into that, at least without a fight. Bring on more of the wonders, I’m waiting to be dazzled!

Just Chemistry

Attraction is purely chemical; a combination of various hormones produced by our bodies and reacting to each other. This is abundant. If we could find a way to power engines with the chemicals each of us generates, there would never be an energy crisis and the Middle East would just be another sandy place on the globe.

Good sex is a little more complicated – a combination of attraction, talent and emotions. The first, we’ve already established is plentiful. The second, talent, is slightly harder to come by. Yet, like some slightly expensive things, with some effort, it can be discovered and earned.

But the last, emotions, that’s the tricky bit. Emotions are that vital ingredient, the salt in a receipe. I’m not really jumping metaphors since cooking is so much about chemistry too. It’s probably not more than a pinch that’s required but it has to be in the exact right measure. Emotions in balance or not can make or break every single human interaction. That complicated mix of respect, consideration and comfort….that elusive perfect garnish….there’s nothing more to be said. If you have it, consider yourself lucky. If you don’t, well, keep looking.

And finally, sex and romance and all of that may be purely chemical but well, life is a chemistry lab. So off to don our white coats! 😉

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A version is posted at Yahoo! Real Beauty.

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