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Soumyadip Choudhury
Tuesday , August 20, 2013

No sister of my own but lots of Rakshabandhan tales to tell


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Not having a sister of my own had its advantages and disadvantages. The advantage being oh-poor-sisterless-me getting scores of invitations on Bhai Phota (Bhaiya Dhuj) and Rakshabandhan. Initially most muh-boli sisters were elder to me, so I got a lot of gifts and was pleasantly happy with the arrangement. Later, as I grew a little older, many little ones came around and I had to part away with the money that I had saved to enhance my comic book collection (not that I regret that). When adolescence came, with the realisation that young girls can be also be something other than sisters, the alarm bells started ringing. More than half the girls of my age in the locality had taken the sacred pledge from me that I would protect them as a sister for the rest of my life. Things were also not very bright at school. Every Rakshabandhan,....


Saturday , January 12, 2013

Audio recording of Swami Vivekananda's 1893 Chicago address is fake


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Today (January 12, 2013) is the 150th birth anniversary of one of India's most revered philosophers and religious leaders. One of the landmarks of Swami Vivekananda's life was his address at the 1893 Parliament of World's Religions at Chicago. As far as I knew, there wasn't any audio recording of the historic speech and therefore never even bothered to look for it. So when a colleague asked me for an embed code of the speech to accompany a story, I was surprised. Here's the audio file in question: Intently, I listened to the audio and wasn't convinced. The voice sounded very trained and the pronunciation very modern and....


Monday , August 13, 2012

International Left-handers Day: Wrongfully left in a 'righteous' world


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Many Windows versions ago, I discovered that the mouse settings could also be modified for left-handed users. Otherwise the world in its rightful righteousness ignored the needs of us lefties. I would have become a complete righty and I owe it to my kindergarten teacher who vetoed the stupid idea, which a neighbourhood aunt had put in my mother's mind - to enclose my left hand in a sock, so that I'm discouraged from using it. There are a lot of negative attitudes towards the left hand, especially in a culture like ours, where the prime importance of the left hand is cleaning up at the end of the digestive process. Emulating others as a kid, especially in sports made me opt for right handed play. And I never excelled in any, though I played quite a many. Bowling right-arm-over-the-wicket didn't fetch me as many scalps....


Thursday , May 31, 2012

From anti-smoker to smoker to non-smoker: My King Size journey


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Anirban, a good old friend, still remembers the kick that landed on his butt as a result of his adamant refusal to kick the butt. A decade-and-a-half later I have realised that kicks cannot make someone quit smoking. Getting your heart into it can. During my school and college years I detested smoking and in the interest of my friends cajoled, even threatened, them to keep their lips away from the tantalising ends of cigarettes. There also have been a few stray incidents of violence, as mentioned above. Did any of my friends quit? No. Instead, I, a few years later, turned smoker. As a child I was very curious, as children usually are, and I and my friends experimented with many kinds of smoke - rolled-up paper to dried plant stems. Thankfully these were only stray experiments and didn't turn into a habit and my childhood was....


Tuesday , May 22, 2012

Voltas AC ad gives Cherrapunjee a bad name


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In a city such as Delhi, your air conditioners should be all-weather but not if you happen to be transferred to Cherrapunjee. You may not even need an AC there. In fact the Voltas All Weather AC advertisement on television (featuring the much-transferred Murthy) doesn't paint the true picture of Cherrapunjee. Yes, it doesn't rain as much as it used to in Sohra (the local name for the place) but we Meghalayans don't take too kindly the portrayal of one of the state's most popular tourist destinations as a humid hell. Cherrapunjee - the Rainiest Place on Planet Earth Eastern India may be more humid than the parched lands of North or Central India, but by no means Cherrapunjee is as sweaty as the Voltas ad presents it. The creative heads at Ogilvy's Meridian have got their....


Saturday , April 21, 2012

99 years later, Raja Harishchandra (1913) goes 3D


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In India, cinema isn't just a passion. It is frenzical. We have perhaps inherited this acute addiction from the man who started it all, 99 years ago - the Father of Indian Cinema Dhundiraj Govind Phalke (1870-1944). Dadasaheb Phalke as we better know him as, held the first show of Raja Harishchandra what is widely considered to be the first Indian feature film at Bombay's Olympia Picture Palace on April 21, 1913. The commercial screenings started 12 days later, on May 3, 1913 at Coronation Cinematograph and Variety Hall, Sandhurst Road, Girgaum, Bombay. Raja Harishchandra (1913) - India's first feature film Most of us have seen only fleeting glimpses of this bud, that gradually grew to the mammoth movie industry that we have in India today. That Raja Harishchandra (the actual film title spells it as Raja....


Thursday , April 05, 2012

IRCTC website is beyond even Rajinikanth


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"Rajnikanth once tried logging into IRCTC at 8 AM and... failed," tweeted an exasperated user. The sluggishness of the IRCTC website is no longer limited to the morning rush hour (8 AM to 10 AM), but stretches for the entire day. No matter what time of the day you access the website, the chances of you cracking IIT-JEE is greater than being able to book a ticket at one go. Even if you manage to cross the initial hurdles, there is no guarantee that your transaction will be successfully processed. About a quarter of the 1.4 crore transactions that the website processed in February this year were unsuccessful. I have spent hours, which would have otherwise been put to more productive uses, trying to book train tickets on irctc.co.in. Booking air tickets, on the other hand, usually never take more than a few minutes. ....


Tuesday , January 17, 2012

Wikipedia blackout on January 18. Here's what you can do


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The English-language Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org) will be blacked out for 24 hours across the globe from 05:00 AM UTC (10:30 AM IST) on January 18 in opposition to the proposed US legislation - Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). Several other leading websites, including Boing Boing and Reditt, will also go dark in protest against SOPA and PIPA. Wikipedia and other proponents of a free Internet believe that if the legislation is passed it "will harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States." So Wednesday morning when the contents of the English Wikipedia is unavailable, don't panic. Your favourite reference (read copy-paste) source is not lost. It is only protesting against something that, amongst other things, can take back your right to copy. First, if you want to protest in....


Tuesday , December 06, 2011

Open letter to Kapil Sibal: A dummies guide to offensive content removal


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Dear Kapil Sibal, As an Internet professional (and addict) I am appalled by your efforts to take control over what users express online. Not only does the very idea of 'self-regulation' by websites stink of censorship, but also the huge volume of user generated content makes it impossible for Internet service companies to adhere to your diktats. The Internet is the gateway to India's future and but the draconian and regressive approach of the country's government do not inspire much confidence. In fact, as past experiences show, it only showcases the ignorance and inability of Indian authorities in the matters of the Internet. The big Internet companies do know their responsibilities. They also understand the medium of the Web better than most government agencies and therefore have built-in mechanisms to filter out malicious content. So here, dear Sir, is a primer on how to....


Friday , November 18, 2011

My adventures with Tintin


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I am yet to watch The Adventures of Tintin on the big screen. Read a few reviews, but I rely more on my peers than the reviewers and friends recommended that I should go watch. And I will. As someone growing up in the 1980s and the '90s before the onslaught of cable TV and Japanese cartoons, I have a strong emotional connect with the characters. Tintin and his loveable whisky-loving and faithful fox terrier friend Snowy kept me in adventurous company during many a rainy afternoon. I owned very few of Tintin comics (the price was a big deterrent), but read almost all of them thanks to the comic exchange programme that we friends practiced. One which I missed was the very first one, published in 1929, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (the other was the last but semi-complete - Tintin and Alph-Art).

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More about Soumyadip Choudhury

Soumyadip Choudhury aka Somu aka Chaiwallah is an internet addict. His wife and family suspect that he is secretly married to his laptop. The electric shock that he got while trying to fix a neighbour's TV set as a kid, perhaps ignited his interest in everything tech. A do-it-yourself guy, he doesn't believe in hiring electricians, plumbers or carpenters. But often ends paying the professionals more to fix his botched jobs. Somu secretly wishes he knew how to code better and also grumbles a lot. He also tweets a bit as @soumyadip and you can find him on Facebook here.
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