Monday, July 31, 2006 the countdown begins

The dats for 2006 India's largest FOSS Event are out and also the venue. The venue is gong to be J.N.Tata Auditorium, IISc Bangalore, India and the dates are November 24-26, 2006. See you there

Friday, July 14, 2006

Canon WWF Photo Contest 2006

Canon and WWF join hands to save the splash for the future!

Canon and WWF highlight the issue of depleting freshwater resourcs through a unique photo contest. If you have an interesting picture that captures WATER send it to us and win exiciting prizes.

Theme: Water
Contest closes on 31st July 2006
Number of entries per participant : Two
Eligibility Criterion :18 years and above

Contest Home Page


Monday, July 10, 2006

Find Out Who You Are: One or Zero

Mangesh Sakharam Ghogre

The following is a conversation between a computer geek and a spiritual guru: Computer Geek: What is spirituality? Guru: Spirituality essentially teaches that all beings are one. It reiterates Universal Oneness.

CG: What does that mean? Guru: It means that animals and all other non-human creatures are as good as human beings. The Sanskrit phrase, 'vasudhaiva kutumbakam', which belies the basic spiritual concept, implies that the whole universe is my family and that all beings are One.

Spirituality, therefore, teaches us to be humble and to not feign arrogance arising out of power or intellect. CG: But if all beings are One, where does God fit in?

Guru: After listening to various spiri-tual gurus and reading myriad literature, one may realise that God, the Supreme Being, is essentially a state of zero, or the state in which one has zero desires.

CG: Spiritually speaking, what should be the ultimate aim of my life? Guru: Spiritually, the ultimate aim of a human being's life is to transform himself from a state of one to that of zero. CG: How is religiosity dif-ferent from spirituality?

Guru: Religiosity, on the other hand, describes human beings as zero. Listen to the religious discourses and you shall often hear "Hum sab us parmatma ke ansh hain" — We are, every one of us, nothing but a minuscule part of God.

In plain English, it means, without God, one is nothing or zero. CG: Like spirituality, does religiosity also treat all creatures the same? Guru: While religiosity preaches tolerance and respect towards all creatures, human beings are considered superior to other creatures.

Some religious scriptures also claim that a human being is the most beautiful creation of God. CG: But if all beings are zero, where does God fit in religiosity? Guru: Religiosity preaches that God, a higher being, is the state of Oneness — where all is one and the same.

Remember, Sai Baba said, "Sabka malik ek" — God is One. CG: So, religiously speaking, what is the final aim of my life? Guru: Religiosity preaches that the ultimate aim of a human being's life is to transform from a state of zero to that of one.

CG: Thanks. You cleared my confusion. Guru: So, what do you consider yourself to be: spiritual or religious? CG: [Scratches his head] Will Google answer this question? Guru: Good God, it doesn't.

Else, I will be out of job. CG: My "brain disk" has crashed. Could you help me? Guru: Sure. Just ask yourself: Do you consider yourself one or zero? CG: I am a bit of both — one and zero.

Guru: Well, that means you are 10, which is the binary code for 2, and that is the dwandwa or duality of this world! CG: I don't understand what is dwandwa or duality.

Guru: It means that this world needs both one and zero, signifying that opposites coexist. We need spirituality and religiosity, only when one and zero come together they make the world a beautiful place. In essence, the world is nothing but a manifestation of various combinations of zero and one.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Auto Rickshaws in Britain

Hold on for dear life . . . the tuk-tuk has arrived

LIKE many backpackers who have whizzed around gridlocked Asian cities in tuk-tuks, Dominic Ponniah wondered whether the motorised rickshaws could be the solution for Britain’s congested streets.

Twelve tuk-tuks imported from India will operate in Brighton. Similiar services are planned for Central London and other cities. Photo: Gil Allen

The three-wheeled mopeds, named after the sound of the stuttering two-stroke engines used in early versions, are notorious for weaving at death-defying speeds through narrow gaps in the traffic. With the wind in your face and the accompanying sense of vulnerability, the top speed of 35mph feels like twice that.

Despite their poor reputation for safety, Mr Ponniah, 26, became convinced that tuk-tuks would catch on in Britain, especially if he added a few reassuring features such as roll bars, side-impact protection and seatbelts.

He has imported 12 from Pune in India and today begins Britain’s first tuk-tuk service in Brighton. A service for Central London is planned for next year, followed by others in Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh.

In Brighton, adults will pay a flat fare of £2.50 and children £1.50. They will share the ride with strangers, with up to three people squeezed into the open-sided cabin behind the driver. The service will run all year on a set route. Mr Ponniah is confident that there will still be a demand in winter, when the only protection from the cold and rain will be a plastic curtain.

The drivers, who have licences to drive cars, have had four days of training in driving and repairing a tuk-tuk. In Bangkok, Delhi and Bombay, it is common to see drivers tinkering with the engine while passengers wait.

In Asia, drivers rely on religious artefacts to protect them from crashes. Mr Ponniah, however, has had to satisfy the requirements of the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, which has tested each tuk-tuk.

Unlike the older, noisier versions in Asia, which run on petrol, the Brighton tuk-tuks have been converted to run on compressed natural gas. Mr Ponniah said that emissions of air pollutants were at least 90 per cent lower than for cars.

Achieving the equivalent of 50 miles per gallon, the tuk-tuks will be among the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the road. “They are as cheap as a bus and as convenient as a taxi. We will also make sure our drivers don’t drive like maniacs,” Mr Ponniah said.

Steve Webb, owner of the Tukshop in Southampton, which sells tuk-tuks as delivery vehicles, said: “You wouldn’t want to be in a collision with a Range Rover, but feeling a bit unprotected adds to the thrill. Riding in a tuk-tuk always puts a smile on people’s faces, especially if it reminds them of an Asian holiday.”

But Bob Oddy, of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, said: “They can tip over and people can get thrown out. They should not be allowed to mix with other traffic.”


# Their official name is auto rickshaws or Bajajs

# They are low geared and have a high power-to- weight ratio

# A tuk-tuk features in a car chase in the 1983 James Bond Octopussy

# Curry houses in Glasgow, Swansea, Luton, Torquay and Southampton use them as delivery vehicles

# Tuk-tuks in India can carry 20 schoolchildren


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Nikon Photo Contest International 2006-2007

Nikon has announced its "Nikon Photo Contest International 2006-2007". The theme of the photography contest is "At the heart of the image". There is no entry fee and some very attractive prizes to win! Entries are accepted from September 1 to November 30, 2006.

This year's theme: "At the heart of the image"

For more information, visit... Contest Page


Photographer urges no-photo day

A photographer from Brighton in southern England is urging the people of the world to take a day out and stop taking pictures.

Becca Bland has launched "non-photography day" - planned for 17 July - through a website together with a sticker and flyposter campaign in various cities in England.

Ms Bland told BBC World Service's Culture Shock programme that the idea has "gone global" with interest in Manchester, Leeds, London and Brighton, and even further afield in Australia and Japan.

She explained that she wanted people to "put your camera down and appreciate the moment you are in".

"Experience life in an unmediated fashion, without anything in front of your eyes. Live in the moment," she added.

'Celebrate, don't document'

Ms Bland got the idea for the day after reading various works about far-eastern Zen Buddhism.

She explained that she believes that in taking a photograph, people are trying to take possession of a place - but that photographs cannot give an "essence" of that particular place.

The sticker campaign for the day has the message "celebrate the moment, don't document it".

"When you simply take photos of something, without fully engaging with it, you're assuming that all you can have and take is the actual appearance of a place - rather than other creative factors that exist in the place," Ms Bland said.

She added that a lot of people think that photographers concentrate on a small part of a place, in the belief that this can allow the detail to be better understood

"For my beliefs - and for Zen beliefs - it is the essence, the whole that is more important," she added.

"I think that's perhaps where photography does fall down - they've got that frame around it, and it's got this inability to capture the whole.

"Those things become signs and represent things, but they can never really be what the place is."

Camera culture

She added that people really committed to the idea could join the "non-photography police" - a group who are telling people about the day when they see them taking pictures on the street.

However, David Rowan, of the Trendsurfing column in British newspaper The Times, said he believes Ms Bland is "fighting a losing battle."

"There is also a 'buy-nothing' day, organised by anti-consumer lobbyists, and I still see shops pretty full the rest of the time," he said.

"There's an organisation called White Dot which tries to get us to switch off our TV for a day a year, and I still see the TV companies in business."

He added that while he thought it right to question the "culture of ubiquitous cameras," it is simply the way that technological developments have led to.

He pointed out that Microsoft is currently developing a project called My Life Bits, based on the idea of infinite storage space. By wearing goggles with a camera and microphone attached, the wearer can record and document everything they see and hear.

"If Becca wanted to be really popular in Britain, she would get closed circuit TV cameras switched off for a day, so they wouldn't be recording your car registration and they wouldn't be following you round the streets," he added.