Computing, Libraries, Tennis, India & other interests of Vikas Kamat
|Alabama Sunrise|| |
| I woke up to a spectacular sunrise this morning. That no wallpaper, but view from my breakfast table.|
And here is a shot I took from my deck.
Photographs of Clouds - Kamat's Clouds
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Sunday, January 02, 2005|
Last Modified: 1/2/2005 7:55:52 AM
| Tsunami Profiteers|
I spoke to my friend from Sri Lanka, who described loss of personal property, death of friends, and death of relatives. He also said something about opportunists who are trying to the benefit from the tragedy, which I found very distressing.
But you know, it is in human nature to profit from wars, tragedies, and disasters. From Tamil Tigers to RSS to Colin Powell, all are trying to make a profit by turning their relief aid into political capital. Shame. Shame.
I was disappointed to read Rajesh Jain's comments about rural India.
[Rural India] is a world which people in their 60s know intimately. Those in the 40s may know a little bit of it. Those in the 20s don’t care. I could add: those in their 30s (people like me) know a little and care a little, but don’t do anything.
He might be speaking the truth. What is disappointing is the disconnect. I used to redicule Indian leaders like Devilal and Laloo Prasad Yadav, because they used to claim that only a leader from rural India (read uneducated, uncouth men who were just like the poor villagers) could represent India. But now I have to reconsider my opinion, because the kind of leaders I want India to have (like Rajesh Jain) do not quite understand, or even know the majority of India.
I am no expert on rural India. But I grew up in rural India, and by working in my family's cloth shop, and by trying to introduce technology in rural India, I have come across people's problems and aspirartions in rural India. I feel it is the rural Indians who have kept the Indian traditions alive (languages, superstitions, and ethics).
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Tuesday, January 04, 2005|
Last Modified: 1/5/2005 3:10:16 PM
|Why India Refused Aid|| |
| A number of people have asked me why India refused external help with the Tsunami relief work.|
My first response was "India is mostly governed by silly leaders. It was perhaps one of them who made such a statement."
But upon further review and thought, this is what I know:
- Western countries have very poor credibility with India's population. So a "No Thanks" message resonates well with masses.
- Most, if not all aid that was offered was military aid -- aircraft carriers, et al. India has had a long held policy of not allowing foreign military in the neighborhood
- My childhood friend from Honavar called and said "Vikas I have heard that once Americans come, they never leave! or only leave after causing destruction."
- After the 911 attacks, India was the first nation to offer help to USA and was told "No Thanks" by Bush Government, who asked arch enemy Pakistan for assistance instead. That insult is fresh in the mind of India's leaders.
- Apparently, the decision has become very popular in India. And from what I hear, the internal funds and aid raised are enough to recuperate
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Friday, January 07, 2005|
Last Modified: 1/7/2005 11:16:49 PM
|Rajasthan Travel Tales|| |
| Amma's Column: Amma writes about her recent trip to Rajasthan, and wonders whether Rajasthan with its rustic folklore, or Karnataka, with its high-tech IT paranoia is more developed.|
This blog entry made me go back to dad's "Na Rajasthanadalli" book and read some parts. I am providing some translations online this month. It is a lengthy travelogue, but a delicate one that can be enjoyed over and over again. It describes the beauty of Indian life in the 1960s, as well as the pettiness of India's caste system and nepotism.
This "Na Rajasthanadalli" book was published by K.V. Subbanna in 1974. For those who do not know, Subbanna is a great dramatist and thinker in India and has been an awardee of the Magsaysay Prize. Bappa admired him a lot, and it brought me tears to read a recent letter of tribute by him to my father. It touched me because I was suprised how much he had understood Bappa -- the profoundness of great men that is only visible to other great men, something that I had not known or noticed. One of these days I am going to translate the letter...(the tribute by itself is fairly complex, dwelling into the definitions of knowledge, community, learning, teaching, and selflessness).
Meanwhile, here are new contents added to Kamat's Potpourri:
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Tuesday, January 11, 2005|
Last Modified: 1/11/2005 11:47:43 AM
|Boston Calling|| |
| I am in Boston for the Mid-winter Conference of American Library Association. |
Contact me at if you want to grab some lunch or coffee, or for a preview of Kamat Research Database.
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Thursday, January 13, 2005|
Last Modified: 1/13/2005 10:32:45 PM
|Notes from Library Conference|| |
| Notes from ALA MidWinter Meeting|
I attended the American Library Association's meeting in Boston, hoping to learn new developments in digital library technologies. Some observations.
- Every Tom, Dick, Harry, Pete, and Steve how want to make money from the
Internet, and everybody is offering what they call "Online Research
Tools", and "Online Portals", and everybody has the same
mantra --"federated search", "link to full text", and
- I asked "Open Access" gurus about value additions to open-access
content -- like Open Access Research Databases, independent abstracts and reviews
of OA papers, and they seem to be clueless. All they could tell me was
"independently compiled abstracts and reviews are not original research
and falls the outside the scope of OA movement." Great.
- The vendor showcases are boring. I have been to several trade shows, the library shows are the worst. The most important person in library business (the researcher) had no representation.
- You better believe in the stereotype librarian. They really are like
- Whereas every vendor I spoke to was shivering with
fear that their offerings are about to become history, the biggest players in the content and search business
(Google and Yahoo)
were completely absent. The librarians are still chanting "info on
the web not reliable" mantra. Hello!
- I asked every vendor in electronic content business how are they going to
know a patron (a reader in the library) has access to a particular content
(electronic music, electronic book, research paper etc) and they are seem to
rely on the librarian to tell them that (as if the librarians have no other
work). Anyway how does the librarian know what I bought on iTunes or Amazon?!
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Monday, January 17, 2005|
Last Modified: 1/19/2005 5:19:15 PM
|America's Pet Culture|| |
| A recent issue of Delta's Sky Magazine has a feature on America's
Fascination with Pets. It is a very nice article. |
Some highlights are listed with my comments italicized.
- 58% of pet owners visit their veterinarian more of ten then they visit
their own physicians. Guilty as charged.
- 78% owners talk to their pets -- in a voice different than their normal
voice, 62% celebrate the pet's birthday. Guilty as charged,
- 28% owners have toothbrush for their dog. Of course, how else can you
clean her teeth (so you can kiss her/kissed by her)?
- 33% owners talk to their dogs via telephone or leave messages. I
haven't left messages, but we do talk to TinTin on phone. TinTin does the same thing
my grandma did when she was first introduced to the telephone -- turn her
face towards the telephone to make eye contact. It is really funny.
- 58% of dog owners have taken a day off to care for a pet. Well, TinTin is
still a puppy and so far hasn't gotten that sick yet.
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Wednesday, January 19, 2005|
Last Modified: 1/19/2005 11:10:59 PM
|Tennis is Suddenly Exciting|| |
| Tennis has suddenly become very exciting. Just as we were getting sick of hearing all Williams finals, all Belgian finals and Who will Stop Federer, and How Yuri turned $100 and his daughter into a sexy champion, there is change. Very Welcome Change.|
Full Coverage of Australian Open
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Thursday, January 27, 2005|
Last Modified: 1/27/2005 9:22:41 AM
| Inspired by scholar.google.com, I have started scholar.india.com where I will provide abstracts of research papers published in scholarly and semi-scholarly publications. The purpose is to provide exposure to research that is not available online (or not available easily).|
To start with, I have listed some papers that documented the tribals of Andaman Island.
See: Last of the Savages. Lost Forever.
I am using Blogger to create scholar.india.com, and I am pleasently surprised by the nice user-interface. I terribly miss the Content Management features of my SimplyBlog -- which by the way is now available with many bugs fixed.
The best part though, is I get RSS/XML feeds and commenting out of the box by using Blogger. No more Frankenstein templates.
I have forgotten how or who, but there was one customer who had married Blogger interface to SimplyBlog CMS interface. I need that, so I can simply write SQL and see them rendered on the Blog. For instance, to list all the references on Andaman, I'd write a query (something like)
Select * from Abstracts where Title
Contains 'Andaman' or Abstract Contains 'Andaman'
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Friday, January 28, 2005|
Last Modified: 1/29/2005 9:04:01 AM
|This is how I surf the web. Turns out
creating your own start page beats all portals, back-flipping,
personalized corporate pages, and book-marking tools.