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Monday, June 15, 2009

Stop sneezing on me

At a couple of recent parties I attended, a typical conversation:

Expat 1: I hate the Hong Kong government. They are making such a big fuss of the Swine-Flu. Two kids go down with a Flu in a school and they shut down the entire school for 14 days.

Me (thinking to myself): Would you have liked a few 100 going down before they took that step.

Expat 2: Yeah, they are crazy. My secretary has taken two weeks off to stay with her child since most day-cares are either not accepting more kids or have shut down themselves.

Me (thinking to myself): Poor U!!! Having to get your own coffee – must be a lot of hard work!!!

But again, with all these measures, if the number of swine-flu cases has reached 100 in HK and rapidly rising, one begins to wonder what these numbers would have looked like if people were left to fend for themselves and Swine-Flu was treated as any other flu (as some of these people seem to suggest should be the case). That probably also explains why a bulk of the cases coming into India and China are from countries like US and UK. They don’t understand the seriousness of this. After all, its a flu. Suggestion to the WHO: Next time, please choose a scarier sounding name.

Last heard, the Indian Government warned its citizens against visiting US (probably a step taken more to get back at the US for warning its citizens against visiting India because its terror-prone) after the number of confirmed swine-flu patients in India crossed 30 and most of them were students/visitors returning from US. And it’s reached Bangalore too!!! So friends back in Bangalore, watch out for the guy who’s just returned from an overseas trip who’s not feeling very well.

Before my rant is over, I need to say something about the title. Well, the thing that really disgusts me is the way some people sneeze openly into the environment and direct their sneeze in a particular direction (e.g. onto the ground) as though they were doing us all a favour by doing so. Time to spread the culture of using tissues in India? What say? Compare this to the paranoia and dirty looks one gets here in HK whenever you sneeze even if you are using a tissue.

PS: I am allergic to dust. So I do end up sneezing (a friendly one) once in a way. Please don’t assume its a case of swine-flu and report me.

Related Posts:

Swine Flu – Better Safe than Sorry

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Facebook - Get your own username

Here's something I noticed today on logging onto Facebook that might be useful. Get your own username instead of the current number that connects you to Facebook. I always hated it when my preferred first name (as user-id) got snatched away despite not having a very common name (randhir). This time will try to be up at 12:01pm (what time-zone are they talking about) on the dot to get this .. :-)

Just kidding, I don't think its that important or I am that desperate. But its really a nice to have.

e.g. When I refer people to my LinkedIn profile, I just say www.linkedin.com/in/randhir. Isn't that so much easier to remember than some combination of first letter of first name + last name (as in www.twitter.com/rhebbar) or Gmail (initial + first letter of first name + last name). So confusing or my blog (last name + first letter of first name). So here goes the mail below. Go ahead and get your own user-name.

Starting on Saturday, June 13th, at 12:01pm, you'll be able to choose a username for your
Facebookaccount to easily direct friends, family, and coworkers to your profile.
Publish Post
To select your username, visit the link below after 12:01pm on June 13th:

To learn more about usernames, visit the Help Center:

Facebook Team

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Google Squared – A cool time-saver

Google Labs today released Google Squared – a tool that "constructs a table of facts about any search category you specify".The product is still pretty raw right now, but think of it sort of like Google's short-term answer to the very cool Wolfram Alpha's structured search—with results displayed in a spreadsheet format. This is an amazing time-saver when you are trying to put together a tabular list of information about a particular topic.

Just searched for Bangalore Italian Restaurant and it comes up with detailed information of Description, Address, Phone Number, Business Hours, Rating and you can add new rows (restaurant names) and columns (attributes such as Ambience). Since its still in its early stages, some of the information is actually incorrect. But my guess is it will learn from user inputs on similar searches done, changes made by users and keep improving so that a couple of months down the line this same search will give you much better results.”

Tried the same thing with Hong Kong. But, Google still does not have its Translate tool integrated with Google Squared (like it is integrated with its Gmail app that allows me to now read the Chinese spam mails I receive from my bank among others). This means most of the info is in Chinese and I cannot get the address from the table directly. But a great start none the less.

Wolfram Alpha might be the smarter engine, but google has the advantage of a strong and committed user-base (like yours truly), lot of related tools that it can integrate with and its going to be tough for Wolfram Alpha to catch-up with them. May not be that hard for MS to replicate this in Bing. But competition is always good for the end-consumer (i.e. Us).

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