Computing, Libraries, Tennis, India & other interests of Vikas Kamat
|Blog Portals|| |
| Blog Portals|
First there were portals; then there were blogs.
Now there are Blog Portals.
A blog portal is hub of weblogs. Examples of Blog Portals are:
Eaton Web, and Weblogs.com.
If you have been following this blog, you know that I am writing a Blog Portal. The features of my implementation include
pinging, crawling, Ping-forwarding, searching by blog's title, author's name, location or by keywords,
a listing by most recently updated, and a cool feature called "Pickup line" that provides
a one line preview of the newest entry.
Workplace Harassment (Now and Then)
21st Century: Sexual Harassment Suit (Link to Rediff story) rocks Indian flagship company.
10th Century: Man Demands Sex even as the woman milks the cow.
More Now & Thens
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Monday, August 5, 2002|
Last Modified: 1/30/2003
|Beauty Inside|| |
| Beauty Inside|
In the year 1983, my father visited the home of Mr. and Mrs. Koujalagi in the Melukote
town of Karnataka (map - topics) and discovered that the couple cared for a number
of handicapped children in their home. The Koujalagis were not very
wealthy, but the entire family (and the adopted children) pitched-in for the daily
errands in a way that my father would remember forever.
A boy without hands, washing clothes with his foot, children walking on
their hands, because they had no feet, disabled children playing Cricket are some of the most memorable
images from our collection. The stills are very inspiring, and every time
we run into them, my father would exclaim "beauty that we know is skin-deep;
the real human beauty is inside!"
This week, some of these inspiring pictures will be shown in Brazil.
I am vehemently opposed to showing of pictures of poverty to entice
sympathy or to raise funds. I find it immoral and have never allowed
our pictures to be used in that way. I do this to honor the people in the photographs
as well to honor the spirit in which my father took the photographs. This is the same
reason our section on poverty has no advertisements.
So the organizer of the exhibit, activist Mauro Peixoto had to promise me
"...I will not show any picture where the handicapped are begging or unhappy.
The pictures will be used only in a positive way."
Without further ado, I present The Beauty is Skin Deep
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Tuesday, August 6, 2002|
Last Modified: 1/24/2003
|Sati is Back in Vogue|| |
| Sati is Back in Vogue|
An elderly woman committed the "Sati" suicide in India
yesterday. The relatives (and even her sons) helped her burn herself along with
the corpse of her husband. BBC reports that fifteen people have been arrested,
but as we know arrests won't solve this problem.
Read about the ancient practice of Sati in Love?,
Duty? or Sacrifice? including the roots of the practice, a time-line and
eye-witness accounts of the practice.
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Wednesday, August 7, 2002|
Last Modified: 1/29/2003
|Dijkstra is No More|| |
| Prof. Dijkstra is No More|
I mourn the death of Prof. Dijkstra, one of the pioneers of
computer science, and a guru of my gurus. (First seen on Scripting.com)
I never met him (he was at U.Texas @ Austin), but have heard fascinating stories about him. To my wife, who is an algorithmist (one who designs algorithms), he was a demigod.
"Your algorithms were hard, professor, but we thank you for them."
Rediff.com: 60 Years ago today, the Quit India Movement was launched.
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Thursday, August 8, 2002|
Last Modified: 1/24/2003
|Fantasy Decisions Looming|| |
| Fantasy Decisions Looming|
The football season is here, and I welcome good cheat-sheets to pick my Dancing Cobras team to play in BAFFLE (Birmingham Area Fantasy Football League).
Before that, we need to decide on which service to use. Tips on choosing also welcome at . The head-to-head features for those who have to make the same decisions are listed below:
- more flexible scoring system:
- return TDs assigned to defense
- bonus points for yardage thresholds
- all features are available to all owners (live scoring, etc.)
- basic service is free
- each owner decides which add-on features to buy (if you buy none, it's completely free)
- add-on purchases apply to all teams you manage through one Yahoo ID (cheaper if you're in multiple leagues)
- interface is easier to use (IMHO)
- message board feature is more visible/easier
- costs $12 per team (in addition to BAFFLE entry fee)
- interface is harder to use (IMHO)
- message board feature is harder to find/use
- scoring system is less flexible:
- return TDs not assigned to defense
- no bonus points for yardage thresholds
- add-on features cost extra:
- StatTracker (live scoring): $8
- wireless phone access: $4
- add-on features available only to owners that purchase them
What is Fantasy Football?
Fantasy Football is a sport where grown men (and women) painstakingly plan their team's gridiron
strategy, spending countless hours honing their skills for the battles that lay ahead, sweating their every move in preparation to line up opposite each other with muscles straining and teeth clenched in an epic bone-crunching struggle to secure glorious victory.
Fantasy football is very simple. Each person in the league is an "owner" of his own fantasy team. Before the NFL season starts, we hold a "draft" of NFL players. In each round of the draft, each owner selects an NFL player
from any NFL team. For example, you could draft Peyton Manning from the Colts as one of your team's quarterbacks and Marshall Faulk from the Rams as one of your team's running backs (the veteran owners are chuckling right now at the thought of one team actually getting both of those particular players, but that's another story)
Each week during the NFL season, the fantasy teams
"play" each other in a predetermined schedule. After the actual NFL games are played, we add up how many points each of those individual players accumulated to compute each fantasy team's total score. The fantasy team with the most points wins that "game". At the end of the regular season, the fantasy teams with the best won-lost records advance to the fantasy playoffs to compete for the coveted championship.
Courtesy of BAFFLE Commisioner
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Monday, August 12, 2002|
Last Modified: 8/12/2002
The contents of this website are used not only to
learn about India, but also about Web-navigation, illustration, photography,
and English language. The following is a list (in no particular order) of
educational institutions where Kamat's Potpourri is part of the curriculum.
List of Universities
- Augusta State University, Georgia
- Smithsonian Institution
- University of Florida
- Vassar College, New York
- University of Tennessee
- University of San Diego
- University of Ulster, Ireland
- Sweet Briar College, Virginia
- University of California , Berkeley
- Washington State University
- Appalachian State University
- University of Oregon
- George Mason University, Virginia
- Colorado State University
- Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel
- The FBI Academy, Virgina
List of Primary and Middle Schools
- Carmel Middle School, California, USA
- Snaith Primary School, UK
- Nebraska Library Commission, USA
- Pingree School, Massachusetts
- If you are a primary or middle-school educator from India, and wish to be
involved in the forthcoming Kamat@School project, please drop us a
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Tuesday, August 13, 2002|
Last Modified: 3/14/2003
|Indian Media & Western Media|| |
| Encouragement from Unexpected Quarters|
While it is true that we have not sought publicity to our website and our maintaining a low profile is by choice, I am sometimes saddened by the fact that the Indian media hasn't covered our website at all. IMO the making of this website
is a great story -- a man without money (or vehicle or computer or powerful friends) in India building the Web's largest personal website. Other than a
brief mention in Rediff.com and another in IndiaInfo.com, we have gotten no publicity within India. Whereas everybody has been eager to
copy and use our contents. My mother told me one editor even argued with her
in a forum of media people that downloading web content and publishing in Indian
newspapers was OK and that copyright laws did not apply to web content!
I write this because the biggest names in Indian media are guilty of plagiarizing
content from website, and yet are not honest enough to acknowledge the source or
do a story on us.
But last week, I got unexpected and surprising encouragement from two individuals from India, who opened my eyes to the greater horizon I should be looking at.
The first is a letter I received from a professor at a University. He wrote "...It is true that our
nation did not honor Kamat; our system is so rotten that we refuse to learn from the wisdom of such great men... but there were significant number of people, people like myself-- who have found inspiration in Kamat's work, in his exemplary life and his uncomplaining determination to serve India.... It is them that your father catered. Your father might not have had powerful friends, but he indeed had thousands of admirers of the most common kind... You must not lose heart, and must continue your efforts, regardless of what people might say, or might not say."
That is very well said. How can I forget this? Our website might not get awards or publicity. But I must
cater to the million and a half people every month who come to Kamat.com looking for one thing or another!!
Secondly, a fellow blogger, and technology journalist Mahesh Shantaram recognized me for the
contributions of this website. "Vikas and Kamat are doing their bit to tilt the balance in India's favor." Nice!
Publicity from Western Media
Surprisingly, we've built our readership based on the publicity provided by
western media. The BBC and TechTV provided the early exposure and links from
such sites as Wired and Google provide much of our referrals today. Many Universities (list - notice that all are in the Western hemisphere) use our
contents in their curriculum. Our site is used by students to study not only
India, but also web navigation, art, photography, and get this -- the English language!
BTW, Austrian radio in Vienna interviewed my mother this morning. I am told that it will be broadcasted at lunch hour (local time) on Friday.
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Tuesday, August 13, 2002|
Last Modified: 8/14/2002
|Mind Vs. Stomach|| |
| Mind Vs. Stomach |
I have thought about this from my childhood, my position has changed back and
forth, and the time has come for me to once again review my position.
The debate involves the definition of "Quality of Life".
For a very long time, I believed that it was more important for humans to
live with dignity than to live with comfort. So if it was a choice of India
economically prospering under British rule and living in poverty as a free
nation, I felt the latter was better as a citizen. Same thing goes for the
condition of slaves -- the slaves of USA at the time of Abe Lincoln had food and
shelter, but no respect; and after the civil war they were free, but had no jobs
or means of livelihood. But I like said, I believed that living in freedom was
more important than just living.
As I grew up and as I experienced first hand the miseries of human life
and the humiliation of being poor, I changed my position to: Stomach
first, Mind later. See also: A Hungry Man Commits No Sin.
I have come to
believe that entertainment, sports, and freedom are the privileges of those who
have had their meal.
Then, yesterday two pieces of news broke out: One was about a ten year boy in
India obtaining a Cisco networking certification (perhaps to feed his family.)
The other one was that India's plan to send a man to the
moon. I have since been in contact discussions on the topic. It is definitely something to chew on.
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Wednesday, August 14, 2002|
Last Modified: 8/14/2002
|Automatically Pinging Blog Portal|| |
| How to Automatically Ping Blog Portal|
Many of you have asked about pinging the Blog Portal programmatically.
The following is the code in M$ ASP.
Dim objXMLHTTP, sReturn, sPingURL
Set objXMLHTTP = Server.CreateObject("MSXML2.ServerXMLHTTP")
sPingURL = "http://www.kamat.org/community/ping.asp?" & _
'customize the ping depending on your blog software
sPingURL = Replace(sPingURL ,"$BlogURL$", BlogMainURL)
sPingURL = Replace(sPingURL ,"$BlogTitle$", BlogTitle)
objXMLHTTP.Open "GET", strURL, false
Set objXMLHTTP = Nothing
Perl, PHP and other implementations coming soon.
If you do not have the capability to program on your host, you can create a bookmark
in your browser to the following location:
and click on it whenever you wish to ping.
Please note that the Pickup Line is not updated
when you choose this method.
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Friday, August 16, 2002|
Last Modified: 1/30/2003
|Shopping for Dijkstra|| |
| Shopping for Dijkstra|
All the computers at my house are named after famous scientists. The names of nodes on Kamat network are/were Aristotle, Turing, Einstein, Newton, Edison,
Sprague, Pascal, and Curie. When we felt a new computer was required, we decided to name it after Prof. Dijkstra who passed away earlier this month. I have an obsession with naming
and I name everything. Our cars have names (G.I. Joe and Sexy Sando), so are the rooms in our house (Helen Keller Porch, Mahatma Gandhi Study, Abraham Lincoln
Dining Room, Ann Frank Attic, etc.).
Anyway, I have spent last several days shopping for a value (most bang for the buck) notebook computer. I am looking for a notebook for personal computing (surfing, writing, fantasy score tracking) as well as for light software development.
If you are also shopping for one, here's is an unbiased research table for you. If you are an expert in this field, please drop me a line () with your recommendation.
- This is the one I really want. Slurp, Slurp
- Boss asks why introduce more heterogeneity in the network
- I'd have to buy lots of software, since I won't be able to use PC
software on it.
- Lots of ports, lots of goodies
- I want an IBM or an Apple
|Dell Inspiron 8200
- Has some cash-back and free shipping
- Lot of video RAM, lots of muscle
- This one is heavy (as in weight)
- Dells are historically noisy
- Celeron processor is inferior to Pentium IV
- No S-Video out
- Nice use and feel
- Light weight
- Must pay the premium for the brand.
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Sunday, August 18, 2002|
Last Modified: 8/18/2002
|Improving E-Commerce Websites|| |
| Improving E-Commerce|
While Dell and BestBuy have very successful e-commerce websites, I
found that they disappointed me in their usability. Consider the following:
- On Dell.com, once I book-marked what I wanted to buy, there was no way to get the detailed specifications of the product easily. To go from the product
to its details,
I have to go back to the product category, choose the model, and then click
on "Tech Specs"; and that's the shortest path; most people would go to start page, choose the market (small-business, home or government), choose notebook, and then model, and the specs. Argh!
- There is an old exploit in BestBuy.com website very popular among
the electronics buffs:- if you add an item to your shopping cart when it is
on sale, even after the sale period is expired, you can buy it at the
sale-price. Hey, it might even be a feature!
But if you make the grave crime of removing it from the shopping cart, you
are condemned to pay the regular, non-sale price. This is certainly
- On BestBuy.com they have this download the "Browse
Weekly Ad." as a PDF. Cool, but wait, you can't print it! Some
brain-dead engineer decided to enable the security on those PDFs, and the
whole exercise is useless. So print it, I must perform a screen-capture,
paste it in a word-processor and then print. Welcome to user-friendliness.
Thanks to a reader-tip, I found a great deal on a Toshiba Satellite Notebook
and it's on its way.
Australian Broadcasting: The Homeless Documentary (requires QuickTime) -- Director Trevor Graham tracks six homeless people in six different cities of the world.
100 Years Ago: Willis Carrier invented air-conditioning.
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Tuesday, August 20, 2002|
Last Modified: 8/20/2002
|Thread Changing Festival|| |
| Thread Festival|
One of the lesser known features of Kamat AutoBlog is Festival Alert, and if you see today's entry, today is the Rakshabandhan festival!
It is also the day when the brahmins change the sacred thread they wear. See pictures my father took during the last year's Thread Festival rituals.
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Thursday, August 22, 2002|
Last Modified: 8/22/2002
|Making Money from Blogs|| |
| Making Money from Blogs|
I am now one of the few bloggers who has made money from his blog.
The money is not for the contents of the blog, but for the software that is used to create the blog.
The engine that powers this blog and my mother's
blog is being deployed as a
knowledge management tool for intranets and extranets. I commend this customer for seeing the opportunity to use blogs as a knowledge
percolation tool, and a rapid response tool.
I was specifically asked to make these changes to my blogging engine to be able to deploy in a corporate environment:
- Add categories (each entry can belong to one or more categories)
- Anchor the durable links by BlogID rather than by date
- Full support for LastUpdated -- including searching by LastUpdated
- Phrase Searching -- I only had keyword searching; customer wanted phrase
- Integration with the existing corporate network security
If your company needs Blog Server Software, contact me at .
Features of Kamat Blogging Engine
- Runs on Windows NT, and uses Microsoft Active Server pages -- no need to
sell the boss on Linux.
- Full-text Search is built in (and or searches, and phrase searches)
- No client fees; it is server based (like Movable type)
- Full source code available -- so integrate with your customer databases, glossary databases or document delivery systems.
- Built in CMS, built in support for SQL
Read my article The Anatomy of a Blogging Engine if you need a Unix based solution. Our blogs are produced with
Microsoft technologies, and served by Unix!
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Tuesday, August 27, 2002|
Last Modified: 4/8/2003
|K-Logs and Knowledge Management|| |
| About Knowledge Management|
After reading my yesterday's post, a
reader points out that the use of blogs for knowledge distribution is not new.
Apparently there's industry doing this stuff, and they call it KLogs.
For me, the term knowledge management has an infinitely bigger meaning. I think all
these bloggers who talk about knowledge are not computer scientists and do not
know the difference between a database and a knowledge-base. The
knowledge-base is a derivative of the artificial intelligence field and involves
storing of knowledge and decision making logic rather that human blabbering. A
knowledge-base has an inference engine built-into it. A knowledge-base is
smart and can be taught to learn as it goes.
Anyway, that is not to take the limelight away from the KLog industry. I think Klogs are
a very cost-effective way to share human knowledge, both in a social as well as
in a business context.
What do the Klogs provide that discussion forums don't? I am not so sure.
What do the Klogs provide that blogs don't? Again, I am not so sure, I am new to
But among our Blog Server, The Remocon
Server and our Kamat Content Manager, I
think we have enough tools to become a player in the KLog industry. Perhaps there's an opportunity here....?
Links for the day
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Wednesday, August 28, 2002|
Last Modified: 8/28/2002
|Blogging While on Vacation|| |
| Mackinac Island or Bust|
I am going to take a vacation at the beautiful Mackinac
Island in northern Michigan. I am taking no computer with me, but you will continue to get updates to the
blog, thanks to the Content Scheduling feature of my blogging engine.
Dijkstra is Commissioned
The newly arrived notebook computer (named Dijkstra) has been introduced on the Kamat network.
It runs Windows XP and will be primarily used for mobile computing -- in the
libraries, on the mountains, or for surfing while watching TV.
The notebook has a S-video port that lets me connect it to my HDTV. Using the
Picture in Picture technology, as I watch football in one screen, I can analyze
the Yahoo! live scoring statistics in another!
I guess the desires of a sports fan have no end...
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Thursday, August 29, 2002|
Last Modified: 8/29/2002
|Kannada Conference|| |
| Kannada Language Meet|
Today the Kannada conference starts in Detroit. I won't be attending even
though I am in Detroit today -- on way to Mackinac Island.
But if you are attending, be sure to check out the
exhibition of portraits of famous Kannada writers hand-printed by my father [more
If you are not able to attend, you can see some of these rare
To mark this occasion, I have dug out some very historic photographs of V.
Karanth, and T.
N. Sreekantaiya taken my father at the 1954 Kannada Conference held in Kumta.
Tomorrow is the birthday of Lord Krishna. Known as Gokulashtami,
it is an important festival among Vaishnavaites, the followers of Vishnu. See
some of the pictures
of the festival celebrations from last year.
The Festivals of India -- A Comprehensive List
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Friday, August 30, 2002|
Last Modified: 8/29/2002
|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.