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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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Best of AnthoBLOGy

Unripe Revolution
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Marathi & Konkani
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Computing, Libraries, Tennis, India & other interests of Vikas Kamat

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Blog Portals Durable Link to this BLOG
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
Tags: portal

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Beauty Inside Durable Link to this BLOG
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

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Sati is Back in Vogue Durable Link to this BLOG
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

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Dijkstra is No More Durable Link to this BLOG
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
Tags: obituary

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Fantasy Decisions Looming Durable Link to this BLOG
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 Contact Kamats. The head-to-head features for those who have to make the same decisions are listed below:
SportsLine Yahoo!
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • 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

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Kamat@School Durable Link to this BLOG

 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

 

Kamat@School

  • 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 line Contact Kamats


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Tuesday, August 13, 2002
Last Modified: 3/14/2003

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Indian Media & Western Media Durable Link to this BLOG
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

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Mind Vs. Stomach Durable Link to this BLOG
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.

See Also:


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, August 14, 2002
Last Modified: 8/14/2002

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Independece Day Durable Link to this BLOG
India is 55

Today is India's independence day, and here's a patriotic painting by me when I was four years old.

Indian Flag
The Indian Tri-Color

See Also:
• Madam Bhikaji Cama-- the woman who unfurled the flag
• India`s National Flag
• Goa's Freedom Struggle
• Mahatma Gandhi Album

Yahoo India: Things to do on Independence Day by Gopika Vaidya

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, August 15, 2002
Last Modified: 8/15/2002

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Automatically Pinging Blog Portal Durable Link to this BLOG
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.

In ASP:

Dim objXMLHTTP, sReturn, sPingURL Set objXMLHTTP = Server.CreateObject("MSXML2.ServerXMLHTTP")

sPingURL = "http://www.kamat.org/community/ping.asp?" & _ _ BlogURL=$BlogURL$&Annotation=$BlogTitle$"

'customize the ping depending on your blog software sPingURL = Replace(sPingURL ,"$BlogURL$", BlogMainURL) sPingURL = Replace(sPingURL ,"$BlogTitle$", BlogTitle)

objXMLHTTP.Open "GET", strURL, false objXMLHTTP.Send()

sReturn= objXMLHTTP.ResponseText 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: http://www.kamat.org/community/ping.asp?BlogURL=YourBlogURL
and click on it whenever you wish to ping.
Please note that the Pickup Line is not updated when you choose this method.

Friday Trinkets


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, August 16, 2002
Last Modified: 1/30/2003
Tags: desiblogs

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Shopping for Dijkstra Durable Link to this BLOG
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 (Contact Kamats) with your recommendation.

Make/Model Pros Cons
Apple iBook

$1,874.00
  • 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.
Sony VAIO GR300S

$1,959.98
  • Lots of ports, lots of goodies
  • I want an IBM or an Apple
Dell Inspiron 8200

$2,003.00
  • 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
Toshiba 
Satellite 1100-S101


$1,399.84
  • Just look at the price!
  • Celeron processor is inferior to Pentium IV
  • No S-Video out
IBM ThinkPad R32

$2025.00
  • 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

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Improving E-Commerce Websites Durable Link to this BLOG
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 illogical.
  • 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.

Misc. Links

• 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

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Thread Changing Festival Durable Link to this BLOG
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

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Making Money from Blogs Durable Link to this BLOG
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 searching
  • Integration with the existing corporate network security

If your company needs Blog Server Software, contact me at Contact Kamats.

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
Tags: metablog

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K-Logs and Knowledge Management Durable Link to this BLOG
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 this.

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

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Blogging While on Vacation Durable Link to this BLOG
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

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Kannada Conference Durable Link to this BLOG
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 info].

If you are not able to attend, you can see some of these rare portraits online.

To mark this occasion, I have dug out some very historic photographs of V. Seetaramaiah, Shivaram Karanth, and T. N. Sreekantaiya taken my father at the 1954 Kannada Conference held in Kumta.

Festival Alert!

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.

See Also:
• The Festivals of India -- A Comprehensive List
• Hinduism Potpourri


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, August 30, 2002
Last Modified: 8/29/2002

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