Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thief! Or, How the Net Stole my Time

It’s going to be a tearaway fast busy day at work. I look at the clock as I sit down before my computer, and log in to my mail to check for important messages. Must hurry, I’v got to get to work early. Oh, the first five messages are from Facebook! Nothing terribly important, of course, but it’ll only take a moment to see what they are about. Great, a friend request from a guy I haven’t met since college! That’s so wonderful. And an invitation to a friend’s book launch. Darn, I won’t be able to make it. I must let him know.

So I log in to Facebook. There’s a funny status message from a pal asking who among us would make the best private detective. Everyone is nominating himself or herself, so I nominate myself as well. A couple of other status messages also demand action. There’s one saying “zeitgeist: raat bhar, aapki tweet aati rahi”. Haha. Zeitgeist: All night, your tweets kept coming. Wonder who that could be. Shashi Tharoor?

Reminds me, I must log in to Twitter and see what Twitter Minister has updated now. His tweets are often interesting. Today it’s about him speaking his first words in Parliament. “Alas, they were formulaic: I beg to lay papers on the table of the House”, the writer-diplomat-minister laments. Would have been more fun if he’d started with a quote from… Michael Jackson. For that matter, the Budget speech would have been more fun if Pranab da had quoted Michael Jackson.

There’s a tweet from New Scientist magazine as well. Monkeys have a memory for grammar, it says, but like the rest of us, they occasionally misuse apostrophes.

I guess that proves Darwin was right, finally. Now enough of creationism.

I quickly scan the rest of the Facebook and Twitter updates to see who’s doing what. Lucky sod, she’s in Scotland. Oh, that bastard is gloating about the Bangalore climate. And what’s that nincompoop doing with a hot babe in Manali? Life is so unfair.

Ah, a bit of useful info, finally. A geek friend has put up a link to how you can remote control your PC using email, Twitter or SMS. Wow. It seems you can actually turn your computer off or on, or log out from pretty much anywhere in the world, with just a tweet or SMS! All it takes is one free app.

Would I want to remote control my PC? What if something goes wrong and someone else takes over my PC via remote control? Hm. Let me think. Actually, let me Google. And Digg.

Oh, here it is. Some guy who calls himself Johan Marcus Guy has written that he got the instructions wrong, and now his PC is controlling him via Twitter and SMS.

“Just moments ago, my Windows sent me an SMS request to attack my dog with a golf club. I think he'll be fine, but he did sustain traumatic injuries.

This is not the main problem however, the emails are.

In the past three hours I've been made to buy 25 shipments of Viagra, and to look for hot grannies in my neighborhood. This has hurt my self-esteem, but it seems that Windows is a cruel mistress with no calculations for caring or the basic principles of love,” he writes.

Maybe I should stay away from this free remote control download. I don’t want my PC controlling me. Heck, no.

Oh no! What time is it? Damn, I’m late!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Zen and the art of Charlie Wilson's war

I'm not much of a TV fan, but once in a while it is quite pleasant to watch. A few days ago, finding myself at home with nothing much to do, I switched on the TV and flipped channels past Rakhi's swayamvar and suchlikes, stopping finally at the film Charlie Wilson's War on, I think, HBO.
It's a terrific film, and claims to be based on facts. It shows how one US Congressman may have influenced the course of history.
Congressman Charlie Wilson happened to spot on TV that the Afghan mujahideen were getting smashed by the Soviet Union because the Soviets had far better weapons. The mujahideen were fighting using a few WW II rifles while the Soviets had tanks and aircraft. So Wilson decides to lobby for more money and weapons for the mujahideen.
The rest is known. The mujahideen get their Stingers and their AKs and RPGs and eventually bleed the Soviet Union pretty much to death.
When the Soviets leave, the Congressman has a huge party. He asks CIA's station chief in Afghanistan why he doesn't look overjoyed. The guy narrates a Zen story. It goes something like this:

An old farmer had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit.

"Such bad luck," they said sympathetically.

"We'll see," the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses.

"How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed.

"We'll see," replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

"We'll see," answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

"We'll see" said the farmer.