Thursday, September 29, 2005

Photographing Butterflies, Damselflies and Dragonflies By May Lattanzio

Most of my photography is macro and done with a Sony DSC-F717. I'm out
with my camera in all sorts of weather now (mostly hot and humid), but
recently in the rain. I've discovered the magic of a baggy and a rubber
band to protect my camera. It is somewhat difficult, but not impossible
to know if you're focused. A golf umbrella would be a good thing to
bring along. Maybe someone who reads this will come up with an
ingenious way to attach the umbrella to the photographer so you don't
need three hands.

Full Story

Bad news about bird 'n' bees


It was the eye-catching invite that clinched the matter with its brain-teasing bit of photography. Shutterbug Sandesh V. Kadur's handsome coffee table book, Sahyadris: India's Western Ghats — A Vanishing Heritage, was going to be as captivating as the cover, the invite promised. The invite showed a bit of tiger skin, stripes and all, some interesting bits of rock, rows ferns, and finally something that looked like a sinful slab of chocolate chip ice-cream.

What's this, I asked. Take a guess, he said with a twinkle in his eye that said: "I'm sure you've no clue." But this was all about wildlife, and an inspired guess: "I know! It's the cobra's hood in extreme close-up!" turned the challenge into admiration, and the heavy tome was pushed forward. Sahyadris, which Sandesh has co-authored with Kamal Bawa, is indeed awesome. The cover, featuring a blanket of fog over a valley in Kerala's Eravikulam National Park, enchants instantly, and starts you off on an inexorable journey into the wonders of the Western Ghats.

It's a powerful book too. The photographs, all by Sandesh, were taken when he was filming a documentary for Gorgas Science Foundation (GSF), Brownsville, Texas, and three years ago. Flipping through the book, the awesome truth hits you — roughly 40 per cent of the flora and fauna found in the Western Ghats may exist nowhere else on earth.

The book had the president of GSF exclaiming that he ought to be back soon to do one on Rio Grande.

A recent winner of the Infosys-EducationWorld Young Achievers Award 2005, Sandesh says his Sahyadris: Mountains of the Monsoon was a four-year labour of love. It won him a slew of international awards — the prestigious Gold REMI award for creative excellence (Houston World Fest 2003), a merit award for cinematography at the International Wildlife Film Festival (2002) and a special jury award for wildlife conservation at the Vatavaran Film Festival held in New Delhi in 2003. Sahyadris was also nominated for a Green Oscar award in 2002.

Kadur's passion for environmental causes, manifested in this 110-minute documentary film on the Western Ghats — which flashes brilliant images of the world-famous Niligiri thar, a troupe of rare lion-tailed macaques, a tiger at a waterhole and nesting Great Hornbills — began while he was a biology undergrad at the University of Texas, Brownsville. Located in the Rio Grande Valley, Brownsville straddles the US-Mexico border and is well known for its rich flora and fauna.

"While in college I spent several days trekking, photographing and documenting the cloud forests of Mexico. Aware of my growing interest in nature and conservation, my professor, Lawrence Lof, asked me to produce a short wildlife documentary as part of my college summer holiday project. I felt that the Western Ghats, where as a teenager I had spent several weeks trekking and exploring, was the best location. A four-month summer project transformed into a four-year learning process during which I taught myself to film, photograph, edit, and script documentaries. In the end — thanks to the help and support of my professors — I had a graduate degree and a documentary to my credit," recalls Kadur, whose first attempt to capture his romance with the Western Ghats on film, was financed and supported by the Gorgas Science Foundation (estb.1948), a Brownsville-based education and conservation non-profit organisation.

Familiarity with a designated `biodiversity hotspot' — a region with incredibly high amounts of biodiversity which has lost over 70 per cent of its natural habitat — Kadur's summer project has converted him into a crusader for saving the Western Ghats.

Ironically this winner of the Infosys-EducationWorld Young Achievers Award 2005 is a dropout from National College, Bangalore, whose admission into the University of Texas, Brownsville, without a Class XII certificate, he credits to a miraculous "technical loophole". "I would have never made it to university if I had remained in India. Our higher education system is too rigorous and rigid. It doesn't allow for any creativity or innovation."

The co-author, Kamal Bawa, is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Massachusetts and founder of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment which is devoted to research, education and action in conservation in India.

The book is being released today by Infosys CEO Nandan Nilekani at the Taj Residency at 4.30 p.m. For copies, contact ATREE on 23533942 or


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Visited Countries

Visited Countries is a small project demonstrating the power of manipulating the palette of a gif image on the fly. Here we start with a map of the world with each country in a different color. The script asks which country you have been to and sets the colors of those countries to red.

I found this tool very interesting.

create your own visited countries map

FOSS.IN/2005 Call for Participation

For those who have not seen the FOSS.IN/2005 Call for Participation is announced. And the last date for submission of the proposal is 8th Oct 2005. So hurry up.

See you at

Monday, September 26, 2005

Blogging with responsibility

We have been seeing some news about blogging now. And a news I read is about school children being suspended for blogging derogatory remarks about their teachers. The people who blog, should do it responsibly.

There was also news from China about some restrictions on Blogs.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Miles away but as close as a keyboard

Saritha Rai

There’s a new wave of outsourcing to India: The tutoring of American students. Five days each week, at 4:30 am in Cochin, the teachers log on to their computers just as students in the United States settle down to their books and homework in the late afternoon.

A few minutes before seven on a recent morning, Greeshma Salin swivelled her chair to face the computer, slipped on her headset and said in faintly accented English, "Hello, Daniela." Seconds later she heard the response, "Hello, Greeshma."

The two chatted excitedly before Salin said, "We'll work on pronouns today." Then she typed in, "Daniela thinks that Daniela should give Daniela's horse Scarlett to Daniela's sister."

"Is this an awkward sentence?" she asked. "How can you make it better?"

Distance doesn’t matter

Nothing unusual about this exchange except that Salin, 22, was in Cochin, a city in coastal southern India, and her student, Daniela Marinaro, 13, was at her home in Malibu, Calif.

Salin is part of a new wave of outsourcing to India: the tutoring of American students. Twice a week for a month now, Salin, who grew up speaking the Indian language Malayalam at home, has been tutoring Daniela in English grammar, comprehension and writing.

Using a simulated whiteboard on their computers, connected by the Internet, and a copy of Daniela's textbook in front of her, she guides the teenager through the intricacies of nouns, adjectives and verbs.

Daniela, an eighth grader at Malibu Middle School, said, "I get C's in English and I want to score A's," and added that she had given no thought to her tutor being 20,000 miles away, other than the situation feeling "a bit strange in the beginning." She and her sister, Serena, 10, a fourth grader at Malibu Elementary, are just two of the 350 Americans enrolled in Growing Stars, an online tutoring service that is based in Fremont, Calif., but whose 38 teachers are all in Cochin. They offer tutoring in mathematics and science, and recently in English, to students in grades 3 to 12.

Five days each week, at 4:30 a m in Cochin, the teachers log on to their computers just as students in the United States settle down to their books and homework in the late afternoon.

Growing Stars tutors

Growing Stars is one of at least a half-dozen companies across India that are helping American children complete their homework and prepare for tests.

Growing Stars recruits, include postgraduate and teaching degrees, with deep knowledge of the subject. They must go through two weeks of technical, accent and cultural training that includes familiarisation with the differences between British English, widely used in India, and American English.

What they learn

"They learn to use 'eraser' instead of its Indian equivalent, 'rubber,' and understand that 'I need a pit stop' could mean 'I need to go to the loo,"' said Saji Philip, a software entrepreneur of Indian origin. Still, the cultural divide is real.

An English teacher, Anya Tharakan, 24, directed her student away from the subject of video games to concentrate on a passage from "Alice in Wonderland," enlivening the lessons with puzzles and picture games. Tharakan, who tutors Serena Marinaro among others, said a bit of the cultural gulf was being bridged with informal conversation.

Thomas Marinaro, a chiropractor in Los Angeles and the father of Daniela and Serena, had been unhappy with the face-to-face tutoring he had previously arranged for his daughters at home. After three months with Growing Stars, however, Marinaro said the girls' math skills had improved. As a bonus, it cost a third of what he paid the home tutor.

The demand for online tutoring is reflected in the firm's 50 per cent growth rate in the last few years.

Firms like Growing Stars are aggressively looking to expand their online tutoring under federal programs. The program, financed by the U S Department of Education, helps children of high school age get into college.


Making wealth from waste

Meenakshi Ravi

The need of the hour is to manage waste well because inefficient waste management could cause irreparable damage to the environment.

What a waste! It is a remark we often make while referring to something that is of no use to us. If waste were something that is of no use to us, would you be interested in a career in ‘waste management?’ Waste Management could well be an interesting career option with immense scope in the coming years because, the market for hazardous wastes’ management is worth $ 100 million; municipal solid wastes-to-energy or composts' projects, about $ 100 million, municipal sewage treatment, around $ 1.2 billion and air pollution control around $ 140 million.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Getting the most out of the 1GB broadband

H.Shankar, BSNL, Mysore.
BSNL offers broadband connections to its customers at Rs.250 a month. But there is a 1GB limit on the data transfer. Suggestions on how to use it best.

Considering the home plan, which gives you 1GB of data transfer free for a month, with 5MB mailbox, let us see how an average home user can take maximum benefit out of it.

All information you transfer to and from your computer to the Internet actually goes in small packets (and is counted towards your data transfer limit). Typically the packet size varies between 500 bytes and 1500 bytes.

The size of every page you browse varies depending on the contents on the page like; pictures, sound clips, JavaScript menu and Macromedia flash clips etc. If you are using Internet Explorer, you can see the size of the page, after completely receiving the page (select ‘Properties’ from ‘File’ menu).

Full Story

ISRO to launch more satellites

DH News Service Bangalore:

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is all set to launch 10 to 12 communication satellites into the geostationary orbit in the next four years with. Each satellite will cost about Rs 300 crore,

Announcing this at the inauguration of the Satellite Users’ Interference Reduction Group (SUIRG) 2005 Conference in Bangalore on Tuesday, ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair said that these satellites would increase the on-orbit transponder capacity and facilitate a number of services required by the nation.

ISRO’s INSAT system currently has eight satellites and 144 communication transponders in C, extended C, Ku, and S frequency bands. The new satellites are expected to add an additional 100 to 120 transponders.

Of the existing eight satellites, two are carrying meteorological payload and one is an exclusive meteorological satellite, he said.

According to Nair, there is a huge demand for transponders from DTH (Direct-to-Home) and VSAT sectors and for various other applications and there is a need to replace some of the old satellites.

Work on INSAT 4C has also begun, ISRO sources said, and Cartosat will be launched early next year.


Thursday, September 01, 2005


Outsourcing of IT services and BPO operations to India has received widespread attention in the global media. Some states in the US have made legislations which stop outsourcing of their government work to India. There have been news reports that outsourcing to India had resulted in loss of jobs to Americans. There is even a website

Even US President George W Bush and the Democrat Presidential candidate John Kerry have made statements that supposedly protect American jobs moving out to India. Recently, there was an interesting term added to the English language — “to be Bangalored” meant “loss of jobs” in the US. There are books, conferences and even courses in B-schools on outsourcing to India.

Bangalored adj. (said of a corporation, project, or employment) having been relocated to India; having lost business or employment due to such a relocation.

There is a similar term in the dictionary is shanghaied.

There are several interesting links on this: