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Vikas Kamat
 Vikas Kamat is a programmer- entrepreneur living in Birmingham AL. This blog is a complex mix of Indian culture, life in southern USA, computer sciences, and sports. Opinions are his own.
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Unripe Revolution
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Don't Know Jack
No Love for Condi
Blogger's Block
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• Hate Bollywood
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• Artist's Daughter
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Computing, Libraries, Tennis, India & other interests of Vikas Kamat

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What is an AutoBLOG? Durable Link to this BLOG
What is an AutoBLOG?

An AutoBlog is a manufactured weblog.

Like other manufactured goods, AutoBlogs reduce errors, increase productivity, and ensure the quality of the output. AutoBlogs reduce reliance on people, can be cheaply mass-produced, and consumers love them (?).

It was bound to happen.;-- )

Announcing Kamat AutoBlog for today or anyday.


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Monday, July 1, 2002
Last Modified: 1/26/2003
Tags: metablog

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Kamat and America Durable Link to this BLOG
Just in Time for July 4 Happy IDay

I am happy to announce the availability of Kamat's American Travelogue (Nanoo Amarecage Hogidde in Kannada language) on the occasion of America's birthday.

This is the 12th edition of the book, and it is available from stores that sells Indian language books.

Krishnanand Kamat, Nanoo Amarecage Hogidde, Manohara Grintha Mala, XII Edition, 2002

Magnum Opus?

"Nanoo Americage Hogidde"
Many people consider Nanoo Amarecage Hogidde, Kamat's first, as his best literary work. It is an excellent travelogue of USA of 1960s that compares and contrasts the practices of India and America. Many readers have written to Kamat that they learnt as much about India as they learnt about USA from the book.

More Kamat to Come Soon

I've also heard from Prism that Kamat's book on Snakes would be out by August of 2002.

Thanks to the laborious editing undertaken by my mother, a compilation of some of the letters father wrote to me in the 1990s is being made into a book "Letters to son".

This book was in fact, demanded by Kamat's admirers gathered at his condolence meeting, who had read his "Letters to soul-mate" -- a collection of his letters written to my mother. It is gratifying to live up to the expectations of the fans.

The book really reads well. I look forward to its release. Meanwhile, the hard-core fans can write to me (Contact Kamats) and avail a photocopy of the manuscript.

So by bringing out three books in four months, my father is very productive for a dead man!


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, July 3, 2002
Last Modified: 1/29/2003

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Silicon India, No Longer Free Durable Link to this BLOG
Silicon India, No Longer Free

The Silicon India Magazine, a hitherto free periodical for Indian engineers inside the computer industry will no longer be free, the latest issue said.

I've read each and every issue of the magazine and have learnt a lot from it. The periodical, while lacked sophistication (poor color combination in page layouts, tacky covers, very poor proof reading of articles), acted as a hub of activity for what was once known as the Indian Mafia (a close-knit network of entrepreneurs and capitalists, brought together by associations of alma-mater and caste) and the wannabe mafioso.

I have decided not to subscribe. But I will definitely miss the monthly dose of desi business wisdom.

See Related Topic: Business Wisdom from the Trenches


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Monday, July 8, 2002
Last Modified: 1/29/2003

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How to become a Brahmin Durable Link to this BLOG
Become a Pundit, the Easy Way

Boy becomes Brahmin

Perhaps after seeing the pictures of my ordaining, and some of the content on Hinduism on our site, some people take me for a Hindu priest. Sometime ago, I got a message from alienated Hindus from the city of Maputo in Mozambique. Apparently,  Hindus there have built a temple, but do not know how to conduct the rituals of coronation, and installation (pratishtana). The gentleman had many questions, like whether or not a non-brahmin can become temple elder and  temple priest, and which of the Hindu idols they should worship.

I am no priest, but I wanted to jump on this opportunity to preach my strongly formed opinions of caste and idolatry to the Hindus of Mozambique. I wanted to write to them that in front of God, there's no caste and ridicule them on their dilemma of which deities to worship. But I didn't, as imposing my views on them would be a sin.

But I continued to dig, and today a Hindu scholar I revere told me that my position is indeed a correct one. "Everybody is born a scumbag, it is through refinement that one becomes a pundit". The scholar suggested that for those who want to become brahmins, Hinduism provided an easy way: take an oath to abide by the conscience. That's it! Men who believe in ceremonies and public declaration could shave their heads and wear a piece of thread across their shoulder.

I also sometimes get messages from people seeking guidance on Hindu wedding rituals (see: Indian Wedding), interracial marriages (mine is one),  funeral rituals (see FAQ), and whether or not their pets have souls.

So these are some topics, knowledgeable pundits (definition at Dictionary.com) can cover on their websites.


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Tuesday, July 9, 2002
Last Modified: 1/24/2003

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1000 Words Durable Link to this BLOG
1000 Words

Some pictures tell a story by themselves.

The following photograph taken in a Hindu Joint Family shows simultaneous sharing of a mirror by three girls. It is very early in the morning -- it is still dark outside, and you can see some family members still asleep in the background, on the floor. Notice the inclined poistion of the mirror (it is not straight) increasing its depth of view, which is allowing the girls have their own space of the mirror real estate.

© K. L. Kamat
Mirror Sharing
Three Siblings Sharing a Mirror

More Like This...


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Saturday, July 13, 2002
Last Modified: 7/14/2002

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Finding Beauty in Mundane Durable Link to this BLOG
Finding Beauty in Mundane

Sometimes I am surprised at which of the content on this site people find interesting.

Examples:

  • The choice of yesterday's picture was prompted by an elderly gentleman remembering the photograph after 20 years. "Your father once took a picture of three girls in front of a mirror. Do you have it?" he asked, and I searched. I'd seen the picture before and didn't think much of it. But for the gentleman to remember it for so long, it must have meant something to him, and when I studied the photograph, it made great sense to me.
  • I sometimes get admiration mail for my icons (shown on left toolbar). If you like them, here are more. Again, I didn't think much of my own icons, till someone else liked them.
  • Today I got a word of appreciation for a banner on our site. (Who said people don't look at banners ?!) Although I didn't create the banner, I am reproducing it below. It's pretty cute, but I didn't notice it, till it was referenced.
    Car Banner Ad

  • You don't know how many people are interested in meeting this young girl my father photographed. Sorry fellas, the picture is old, and she's taken.

Sometimes the beauty is hidden, and unless someone points it out to you, it is not visible.


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Sunday, July 14, 2002
Last Modified: 1/24/2003
Tags: beauty

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Out of Stock Items on Sale Durable Link to this BLOG
Business Wisdom from the Trenches

A businessman has written a thank you letter (yes, a letter, as in with paper and pen!) for the business tip I gave on how to handle more customers than you can, and asked for more such tips. So here it goes:

When you don't sell something, sell it for a song

My family has sold clothes for over a hundred years now, and it is mandatory for boys of the family to serve an apprenticeship in the shop. This happened when I was twelve years old - One villager bartered very hard to bring down the price of a saree. He claimed that the same saree was being sold for a lower price in a competitor's shop.

The Customer -- "Can you reduce the price of the saree to 30 bucks please? That's the price in the other shop on the next street".

My uncle --"No Sir, they may appear same, but our product is of higher quality. We sell it for 45 bucks to others, but since you are a regular customer, I discounted it to 40"

Customer --"Can you reduce the price of the saree to 30 bucks please? That's the price in the other shop on the next street".

My uncle -- "Why don't you buy it there then?"

Customer -- "He is out of stock today".

My uncle -- "Oh! When we are out of stock, we sell this saree for ten bucks!!"

See Related Topics:

• The Story of the Saree
• Stories on Saree Selling at Kamat Shop.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Tuesday, July 16, 2002
Last Modified: 1/24/2003
Tags: bizwise

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Copying Rightly Durable Link to this BLOG
Copying Rightly

Rediff: Copy Wrong by Gopika Vaidya.

The article mentions of a Self-service Licensing page at Kamat's Potpourri. I've always encouraged fair use of our content, and I welcome the use of our pictures in blogs; credits and links are required, and no bandwidth theft please.

The writer of above mentioned article, Gopika Vaidya, in fact asked me many other very good questions, and I am providing my answers below.

Q: Is all the content you post on your blog original? What does it comprise?
A: The stories and comments I post are original. The links I post are sometimes borrowed. I use my blog to drive traffic to other contents on Kamat's Potpourri. I also write about my experiences and ideas I have had during the day.

Q: How would you react if someone were to copy or re-use the content on your web site/blog?
A:I resent copying of our content without providing credit, but welcome and encourage what is known as the "fair-use". I routinely provide permissions on re-use. I have even set-up a self-service request form for the purpose.

Q: Do you think original content on blogs and web sites should be protected by copyright? If so, why?
A: From my understanding of the International Copyright Law, it is already covered, and rightly so.
And the reasons are same as why printed or broadcast content is protected by the copyright law(to protect the intellectual works of the creator).

Q:Are you aware of your legal rights as a provider of original content on the web in India? If so, what according to you are your rights?
A: To be honest with you, in India, we do not have a culture that recognizes and honors intellectual property. So the responsibilities and liabilities of content publishers in India far outweigh the rights.
I am not aware of specific legal rights in India for web publishers.

Q: What sort of action would you take if you found that your copyright was being violated?
A: I have three pronged approach (ahimsa, threat, and then forgiveness ;-- ))

First I try to reason with the violator of the wrong they are engaged in. I have had most reputed of Indian publishers copy our content from our website. When I tell them "All you had to do was ask, and I would have given you permission", they apologize and comply.

Second, I threaten them that I will go public with my complaint and usually write to the hosting company a legal letter. Since most hosting companies are in USA, they are bound to take action when a copyright holder writes a letter giving specifics of the violation and claims that he/she has been violated. This has worked well for me.

Finally, I take consolation that our work is reaching audience that we would not have otherwise reached.

While on the topic, I must mention a heartening development. These days, many of our readers in India now tell me when they notice copying of our content. This shows that readers in India not only care about originality, but also are particular about fair-use of intellectual property.


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, July 17, 2002
Last Modified: 1/30/2003
Tags: copyright

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Tired and Wired Durable Link to this BLOG
Who's Tired and Who's Wired

Tired

Wired

Microsoft Visual Basic Microsoft C#
Ego-blogs and War Blogs Content blogs
Blogger Movable Type
Punishment rhetoric to fix financial irregularities Process reform to implement barriers to malpractice
Men's Tennis
(stars lose, racist wins)
Women's Tennis
(outfits are getting sexier, and the moans are getting louder)

My other Tired and Wired Lists


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, July 18, 2002
Last Modified: 1/23/2003
Tags: tired

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Tired and Wired Durable Link to this BLOG
Who's Tired and Who's Wired

Tired Wired
Microsoft Visual Basic Microsoft C#
Ego-blogs and War Blogs Content blogs
Blogger Movable Type
Punishment rhetoric to fix financial irregularities Process reform to implement barriers to malpractice
Men's Tennis
(stars lose, racists win)
Women's Tennis
(moans are getting louder)

My other Tired and Wired Lists


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, July 18, 2002
Last Modified: 1/23/2003
Tags: tired

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Mourning the Passing of Baba Durable Link to this BLOG
Obituary

My maternal grandfather, Ganesh V. Burde passed away today in Bangalore. He was 97.

Portrait of Ganesh V. Burde
Ganesh V. Burde
1906 - 2002
Baba, as we affectionately called him, was a great influence on me as he was on my mother. He taught me English and tried very hard to cultivate reading habit in me. I attribute my grammar and sentence construction skills only to him, and only due to his efforts that I was able to compete with city bred, English-medium-educated students although I studied in an Indian language school till I was 15.

Baba had many other great qualities, one of which was his health. He didn't have any ailments (no arthritis, no blood pressure, no cancer, no heart ailment), and died purely due to old age. He was the most extraordinary scholar of Hindu scriptures I know and was a keen student of the Bhagawad-Gita, the Upanishads, the Sanskrit language, and of learning in general. At the age of 75 he took up learning a new language, Bengali -- He knew a total of nine languages including Urdu.

Baba is the only Hindu man I know who has read the Koran. He was well versed with the Bible as well, but led a very rational life sans rituals. During the India Freedom Movement, he sheltered the freedom fighters, although he himself was employed by the British Government. Since he could not get involved with the Indian National Congress, he had started a branch of the Arya Samaj to banish evil practices from the Hindu society. He'd attended Ambedkar's convention in Nasik to reform Indian society of the caste discrimination. He remained an agnostic till his death.

In Baba's death, we've lost a century's worth of history and knowledge.

See Also:
• The Call of Yama

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Saturday, July 20, 2002
Last Modified: 1/24/2003
Tags: obituary

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Social Reform via Blogs Durable Link to this BLOG
Reforming Society through Blogs

Yesterday, in her blog, my mother silently busted an age-old, dark myth of India that had denied the women the use of a sacred Hindu hymn.

The myth has to do with this five thousand year old mystical, powerful hymn from ancient India called the Gayatri mantra. The hymn is always taught in secret, mostly from father to his son, and never to a woman, or to a person considered to be of "low birth".

I am not going to get into the magical, and divine prowess of the hymn, but you can read and recite it on her blog.

I bet that most of those who chant the Gayatri mantra everyday, don't even know its meaning, and will frown upon its use in a blog. Of course, those who are sane amongst us will appreciate the succinct beauty of the hymn, and the spiritual maturity of the Indians five thousand years ago. Those reformists amongst us will admire the genius of Dayanand Saraswati (1824-1883), in using this hymn to herald a social movement in India.

Rich Text Ads in Yahoo! Email

Like most people who read their personal email at work, I have turned of viewing of embedded images in email messages so as to not accidentally get into trouble. In fact, I have set up a message rule that flags such messages as risky-messages.

This morning I think Yahoo decided to insert rich text advertisements (you know one with pictures and animation) in the email messages people send via Yahoo mail, and a bunch of my emails were hence flagged. Not a good development.

If Yahoo! wants to charge its users, or show advertisements to its users, I have no problem, it is indeed their business. But as a recipient of an email message, I am under no obligation to view the advertisement, and my Inbox rule stays.


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, July 26, 2002
Last Modified: 4/2/2003
Tags: metablog

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Color of the Night Durable Link to this BLOG
The Color of the Night

We often tend to associate the color black with darkness, and hence with evil.

People who have black skin, naturally find this association offensive. Some years ago an artist with the TIME magazine used the black color to design a cover page on evil, and it lead to widespread protests by the African-American community.

In the following exhibit, I've tried to depict the color black (and the meaning of it) in some new perspectives: as the color of Lord Krishna, as the color of the Monsoons, as the color of the mighty Goddess, and as the color of the elephants.

The first in the series of Blue, Green, Red, and Black:



Illuminated Entrance to Mysore Palace
The Indian Crow
Consulting Crows
The village of Gunavante, in Uttara Kannada district

The Black Tribal
Idol of Lord Krishna playing a flute
The Black God Krishna

See Also:
• Colors of India
• Lord Krishna in Indian Art
• The Indian Elephants - Table of Contents

Play with Kamat Community Typewriter

If you are wondering how much time I spent making the blog entry above -- you know, stubbing the pictures, linking the captions, formatting, etc., the answer is less than a minute. Yes, less than a minute, because the Kamat Blogging Engine supports SQL, and I wrote a macro as follows:

[[PicTOC SQL=Select * from ScannedPictures where Instr(Destination, '/black/') >0 ]]

That's it! You can try it yourself in the Community Typewriter!

Play with the SQL, instead of /black/ type /elephants/ or /women/, sort it differently, do whatever!


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Monday, July 29, 2002
Last Modified: 1/24/2003

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Portal of Indian Weblogs Durable Link to this BLOG
Building a Portal of Indian Weblogs

I've maintained a List of Indian Weblogs since last September.

Then Anita Bora started a much longer list, with annotations and locations. Her list has grown a lot, and alphabetization, while helpful, doesn't suffice the need to browse through it rapidly.

We need a tool that does the following:
• Search by name of the blog or blogger (the person who writes it)
• Search by location (which part of India, outside of India etc.)
• Sort by most oftenly updated or alphabetically
• List the blogs by most recently updated

I hear that some work is being done by Mahesh Shantaram and Anita, and I look forward to its release.

I wish I still had my spider Narad active, so we could have summarized the recent entries.

Tips for the Implementor(s)

To avail the time of most recent update, we can use the Last-modified tag provided by the HTTP header. While many servers may not provide it (and it might be incorrect for the dynamically generated blogs, like my AutoBlog), it is a cheap way to fetch the time of last update.

Alternately, we can implement a Weblogs.com like ping interface. Upon updating their blog, the bloggers would have to tell the portal that they have updated the blog.


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Tuesday, July 30, 2002
Last Modified: 1/26/2003

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Blog Portal Durable Link to this BLOG
More Details on the Blog Portal

After yesterday's exchange of ideas on building a Blog Portal, Mahesh sent a message that my ideas are too ambitious. Perhaps they are, but I still feel we should do it. I went ahead and created the following database table.

Details of Indian Blogs

Most fields are self-explanatory. LastPing and LastFetch would indicate the time of last ping ("You call me") and the time of last retrieve by the spider ("I'll call you"). PublishYes is the flag that must be set by the editor in approval for inclusion. This is necessary to prevent abuse. PrivateComments are only for internal use explaining why an entry was rejected. I have added a comma separated keyword field so that the blogs can be catagorized. Annotation is provided by the author and is modified by the editor for clarity.

IMO, the alphabetical list of blogs is of little use. We never browse books in a library alphabetically nor are the groceries arranged by names. Further, alphabetical listings provide unfair advantage to blogs starting with the letter "A"; examples are AnthoBLOGy and Amma's Column, ;-- ). Relevance and context is much more important than the names. Anyway...

We must have search facility that would search any of the fields (except private comments), so by searching Mumbai, you not only find blogs blogged from Mumbai, but also on Mumbai.

Still undecided issues:
• "You ping me, I will ping them" -- a broadcast service for Indian bloggers?
• The location of the Directory (considering www.kamat.org/community or blogs.kamat.com)
• Who will be the editors?

Severe Shortage of Eyes in India

Eye banks typically accept eyes only when the deceased donor was under 75 years of age. But the shortage of eyes is so severe in India that my grandfather's 97 year old eyes (see obituary) were delightfully accepted and will be grafted on two different individuals (eye recipients are allowed only one eye in India due to shortage).

The Lion's Club which runs an eye foundation in the city of Bangalore has honored my family for the leadership (my father also donated his eyes) and creating public awareness about eye donation. Personally, for me there is no greater joy than to know that we can serve fellow humans even in our death.


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, July 31, 2002
Last Modified: 1/30/2003
Tags: portal

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