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Email forwards .. and Hoaxes ..

Wednesday, November 5, 2008 0:10

Forwarding emails is a part of our lives. If sending emails could generate money, the email forward business would be one of the biggest in the world. I know I am talking like Donald Trump, but cannot help, I am an ardent fan of the man!

Anyway, this post is not about Mr. Trump or any of his businesses. This is about the good, the poor, and the warning email forwards that we get everyday. While I adore the good forwards (of course the sender needs to be a sound judge of what a good forward means), I absolutely detest the bad ones and treat them with the same disdain with which I treat spam, and the senders as spammers. The idea of this post did not just appear from nowhere – this post is inspired by a forward from a good friend.

Filtering email forwards is an art. And it takes some time and experience to master this art. I believe I am sort of good at it, because I regularly get praises from my friends for the emails I forward. (Hence proving that I am qualified enough to write this post ;) ).

So what makes a good forward? Or what makes a bad forward? The simplest possible answer I can think of is that a forward is good if it is going to help even a single person involved in the whole activity. As I explain in the rest of the post, a bad forward is a liability to everyone involved, and is a sheer wastage of valuable resources (barring a few seconds of baseless satisfaction to the sender). Examples of good forwards include ones which share a good joke, or an information that is not available otherwise, or anything that can help anyone. The words “good”, “information” here tend to be more subjective than objective, and, as I mentioned earlier, the sender needs to have a sound judgement of these things.

The whole act of forwarding starts out as a fascination right from the time you create an email address of your own. Initially, it gives the sender immense satisfaction to send out a bunch of pictures of flowers, or a bunch of Santa Banta cliches to the entire list of contacts. These days, most of the the internet users are blunt enough to immediately warn the sender with a WTF message. On the other hand, if you are aware of the naivety of the sender and do not want to hurt him/her, you peacefully apply a corresponding filter and hope that the sender will realize his/her foolishness in due course of time.

I would like to spend some words discussing the types of forwards and their ramifications. The first kind is the one containing a lot of images of flowers, cars, balloons, .. and anything under the sun you could think of. The emails lack information, contain nothing new, and are perhaps the most annoying emails ever created. With a plethora image search tools available to the internet community, these kinds of emails are rejected by the sender immediately. And since the email contains a lot of images, it is far heavier than normal text emails. The end result – an utter waste of sender’s and receiver’s bandwidth, an utter misuse of world wide web network usage, and a sheer misuse of the email provider’s data servers. Moreover, it pisses the receiver like anything.

The second kind – contain PPT or PPS attachments preaching endless things about how life should be lived. These may be tolerable to some receivers, but excess of this will piss anyone off. Again, the size of attachment can be comparable to a set of images, leading to a lot of resource wastage in the end.

The third kind, and I love to write about this kind – are the unforgettable CHAIN mails. Thousands of internet users must have ranted about these mails. How on earth can an email decide the number of people it should be forwarded to, the amount of good luck that is going to come into my life, the number of days I am going to have that luck, and so on. Give me a break!

The fourth kind – are written to bring out the emotional front of you, by stating that someone is in dire need of something, and every email you send will fetch him/her some money. It has been more than a decade since I have been using email, and getting these kind of forwards, but not once have I seen any proof of anyone benefiting even a single penny out of them. As far as I know, it is illegal for mail providers to track emails sent/received by you. So how can anyone know how many people I sent it to, and how much money to credit to the innocent guy’s account? Crap !

The fifth (and the last one I have in mind at present) kind seem to be informative at the first look. They share information – information which puts you in a dillemma. You cannot trust the mail, and you cannot ignore the mail. Put very simply, the email will try to tell you some life-threatening (alleged) truths about some things. And since they are life threatening, you would want to believe them, but since they do not come from a reliable source, you would want to ignore them. Even though I am sure you got what I mean here, I will leave you with an example of such an email from a friend (which is the inspiration of this post as I mentioned earlier) and will let you decide for yourself what you want to do with such mails. I am also going to include the reply that I sent to his email.

The email:

Hi All,,

1) Don’t put your mobile closer to your ears until the recipient answers, Because directly after dialing, the mobile phone would use it’s maximum signaling power, which is: 2watts = 33dbi. Please Be Careful. Please use left ear while using cell (mobile), because if you use the right one it may affect brain directly. This is a true fact from Apollo medical team.

2) Do not drink APPY FIZZ . It contains cancer causing agent.

3) Don’t eat Mentos before or after drinking Coke or Pepsi coz the person will die immediately as the mixture becomes cyanide. Please fwd to whom u care

4) Don’t eat kurkure because it contains high amount of plastic if U don’t Believe burn kurkure n u can see plastic melting. Please forward to all!!!!!!!!!!! News report from Times of India

5) Avoid these tablets as they are very dangerous
* D cold
* Vicks action- 500
* Actified
* Coldarin
* Co some
* Nice
* Nimulid
* Cetrizet-D

They contain Phenyl- Propanol -Amide PPA.Which Causes strokes, and these tablets are banned in U.S.

6) Cotton Ear Buds… (Must read it) Please do not show sympathy to people selling buds on roadside or at Signals….. Just wanted to warn you people not to buy those packs of ear buds you get at the roadside. It’s made from cotton that has already been used in hospitals. They take all the dirty, blood and pus filled cotton, wash it, bleach it and use it to make ear buds. So, unless you want to become the first person in the world to get Herpes Zoster Oticus (a viral infection of the inner, middle, and external ear) of the ear and that too from a cotton bud, DON’T BUY THEM! Please forward to all this may be helpful for someone……….. Please forward to all your near and dear ones….!

My reply:

As is usual with such mails, some of the information in this mail is not true. You should verify and ask for sources whenever you come across such extremist information. We like to believe these, because the mail talks about life-threatening stuff and we want to live long. :) . But if these are false, we might be missing out on some of the best things in life, like Kurkure :)

1) The signalling power bit might be correct.  But no evidence or technical information is available to support it. Regarding left and right ears, I found this. Again, no evidence.

2) Appy Fizz : I like it and I consume it a lot. I am not sure about the cancer info, so I believe it for now, for obvious reasons. But I am constantly looking for evidence/proof of this.

3) Mentos and Coke : I have seen the videos showing the mind blowing effect of reaction of mentos with coke. But I am not sure what happens if they react inside the body or after digestion. But again, I would like to believe it, for now. You might want to read this.

4) Kurkure : Again, I love Kurkure. So I am certainly going to try this out! Interested in the fun experiment?

5) Out of these, I only use D-Cold. I know that Vicks Action 500 is not okay. I want to find the truth about D-Cold.

6) Thumb rule : Never ever buy anything from street vendors ! I trust Johnson & Johnson :) . You might want to read this.

Also see this.

What do you think? How was my reply?

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The £50 expresso !

Thursday, October 30, 2008 11:21
Posted in category Comestibles, People, References

I wonder who was the first one ever to try processing and consuming something like this! I’m sure he/she was not out looking for this. Having said that, I wonder wtf he was up to when he accidentally made this discovery ??!!

No one knows that what is passing through me has previously passed through an Indonesian civet – and that is a matter for quiet satisfaction. Even more satisfying is the thought that in a matter of minutes, I am going to excuse myself and go for the world’s most expensive pee.

Wanna try??

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Life in the financial capital …

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 1:52

I think it is time to put on paper the feelings I’ve had inside me for some time now. And given the media attention Mumbai has been getting of late, I cannot think of a better time to write this post.

I moved to Mumbai in July last year. I was highly relieved and excited when I found that unlike most of my peers, I would be spending next couple of years at a place other than Bangalore. I have a terrible experience struggling with the mismanaged transport infrastructure of Bangalore during my internship time. The city lacks subways, and one can rarely cross a street without getting stranded for minutes.

I must mention that the relief I talked about was not unfounded. I visited Mumbai for 5 days in September 2003 for the Aditya Birla Scholarships interview. Though I did not get much time to roam around, that visit reinforced the cosmopolitan image of Mumbai I had my mind. While travelling from the railway station to the destination and back, the weather and the path made it feel exactly like the movie scenes where the lead is travelling in a cool town in his open jeep. The only place we visited out of our way was Gateway of India (well, not exactly “out of the way”; we stayed in The Taj). I left the city wanting to come back and have a better look around soon.

Ironically, it saddens me to realize that I now work and stay in Mumbai. Sixteen months into it, I have found that the city is nowhere near the “Mumbai” I experienced in my first trip. Well, a lot of things still attract me, and will always do. But if I leave these “fascinations” aside, I dare say that everything else about this city is screwed up. Yes, in the real sense of the word!

Picture this:

7:00 AM. Wake up. Check email. Internet not working. Bah.

7:30 AM. Wake up call from Mom. Start talking. Call gets dropped after 20 seconds. Huh.

8:00 AM. Watch news channels. Read newspaper. Someone broke something in town yesterday. Someone is doing something about it. All the same. Crib. Show me the NEWs!

9:00 AM. Get ready for office. Fortunately everything is in order in the bath. Yay!

9:35 AM. Auto-rickshaws not on strike. Relief. Hunt for an empty one.

9:40 AM. Could not find an empty one. Curse mankind for over-population. Start walking towards office.

9:45 AM. Walked nearly 1 km. Pity the godforsaken roads. Finally found an auto. Thank God. Yippee!

9:50 AM. Stuck in traffic jam. Half road blocked due to construction. Vehicles parked carelessly on the other half. Curse mankind again. Curse yourself. Curse everyone. No point. Wait and watch.

10:00 AM. Somehow manage to reach office on time. Thank God.

2:00 PM. Feel like eating outside today. Come out. Get wet – either due to heavy rain or due to sultry sun. Crib. Return. Eat random office meal.

9:00 PM. Reach home. Check mail. Net working dead slow. Try calling Mom. Network strength weak. Wait.

9:15 PM. Try calling Mom again. Connects this time. Voice breaking. Crib. Get frustrated. Bid an early good night. Have dinner.

10:00 PM. Net crawling. Takes minutes to open mail account. Curse. Curse. Curse.

To sum up, no network connectivity on Vodafone phone, crawling Tata Indicom “broadband”, broken roads, no traffic management, overcrowded local trains – all in all, a total infrastructure breakdown.

Would you want to stay in a “financial capital” that offers you this kind of a lifestyle? And, above all, costs you more than Rs. 15 thousand per month?

I have to. And many others.

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Rediff does it again !

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 8:42

Dear Rediff Team

Being a widely used web portal of good repute, I do not see any reason why you should allow blunders like the following to happen, especially on the homepage! Moreover, earlier, I had observed this.

A suffering surfer

Pawan Jain

Rediff homepage spelling mistake

Rediff homepage spelling mistake

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Hired or Fired?

Friday, October 10, 2008 18:09

“You’re fired !! “

“You’re hired !!”

Do these phrases sound familiar? If the answer is yes, then you are most likely one of the two:

  1. A fan of Donald Trump‘s The Apprentice.
  2. Related to finance industry.

Donald Trump made these words (hired and fired) somewhat common in my life, but at the end of it all, its a competition and only one will win. So its fine – I was assured in some sense that real life is not that dynamic and risky. But, finance industry surely defies that.

As a “child”, I always thought of a full-time job as a secure, constant and satisfying source of income. I was wrong. These two words are more commonplace around me than they ever were, and I guess are for many of my friends. Unlike most of my classmates at IIT, I had opted against higher studies after my Bachelors so that I get a “feel” of the corporate world. I think I have got much more than what I was looking for!! (Yeah, trust me, I work(ed) with Lehman Brothers)

The idea of writing this post is the amazement – the words “hired” and “fired” have become so common that any emotional attachment to a financial firm is impossible. Till few months back, I used to attach immense emotion to these two phrases. But the finance industry in the last few weeks has changed all that. Perhaps, this is what they call “growing up”. Things just change too rapidly. I need not say a word about what happened on the wall street in the last month, because either it will be news, or speculation – either of which will be unnecessary. Firms having history of tens and hundreds of years collapsed in days, managements got restructured like crazy, businesses got shut, thousands went jobless, stock markets tumbled etc. Too much for a mortal to swallow.

I touched upon the emotional attachment aspect because I was involved in a big project which was used by almost every person in my team. One fine Monday morning, I find that all my work will be just a piece of code in a few days. On a personal note, I was going to part with a work on which I spent an year, and I was emotionally attached to. On a practical note, I was one of many thousands whose hard work of years was about to fall flat. Thankfully, now that Lehman’s assets have been bought by Barclays and Nomura, I am sure that my work will not go waste, even if I am no longer associated with any of these entities. Not that I do not want to, but anyway, that’s another discussion.

The post may feel incomplete, but I do not have anything else to say. Too many things going on in mind. I got to finish some critial tasks before I get to hear “You’re fired.”

You never know, it could be tomorrow !

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Breathe-free !!

Thursday, October 2, 2008 5:19
Posted in category Events, Mumbai, News

(Photo courtesy Norfolk website)

I hope it works.I hope this does not get away as just another enacted-but-hardly-implemented law.

In an extra-ordinary development, I found the news channels flooding with a real breaking-news (yes, for a change, a real breaking news). I emphasize that bit because a real breaking news comes as a fresh change in a nation full of news channels treating all kind of non-stories as breaking news (in the rarest chance that you do not get what I mean, read about the great INDIA TV here, here and here). Let me stop talking here about the news channels because their stupidity needs another blog post.

I strongly believe that smoking in public places should be banned. While other addictions (drugs, alcohol etc.) do not affect anyone other than the active user, smoking is one thing that affects even the most remotely concerned. At numerous occasions, I have found myself seeking freedom to breathe when I am with friends in a bar/pub.

I started the article with the “I hope” statement for a reason. Today morning, the day when this smoking ban starts, I saw a news reporting that Mumbai government will find it hard to impose the smoking ban/fine due to insufficient manpower. So, although this ban does not bring any bit of relief to Mumbaikars (including me), I am happy for frustrated fellows like me all over the country. Now they (and hopefully after some months, I) can have the freedom to breathe-in fresh air while the smokers smoke it out at their homes.

To be honest, I treat a smoker walking on a street while I am walking around him exactly like a vehicle emitting a bad smoke while I am driving around it. Just like no one would prefer to be around a vehicle emitting repugnant black smoke, I would not prefer to be in few meters radius around a smoker. A driver will try to overtake the offending vehicle asap, and I try to overtake the smoker as soon as possible. In fact at times I find them so similar that I even contemplate pollution check for smokers! (Do comment on this post if you agree with me)

Rightfully recognized by the government, these smokers have no right to destroy the atmosphere in a serene public place with their stupidity. A drunkard becomes destructive only when he is out of his senses and starts hitting and destroying public property for no particular reason. A smoker does not even have to go through the latter bit to become a destroyer.

Come on, why can’t you smokers think of other innocent people in your vicinity who have to go through the torture because of YOUR stupidity ! Pretty simple logic; no rocket science, isn’t it?

I think I have blurted out enough to show my frustration (and a bit of relief, provided the law becomes a success).

Now, the uphill task in front of the government is to think of cool (yes, I mean cool) ways to implement this law. I, on this public space, declare that I am ready to (and will) do my bit in making this law a success.

I think given their reach and influence, this is the issue that the news channels need to be talking about for a day or two. All you “India TV”s out there, wake up and use your most influential hours, for a change, on a story that deserves mention. Use your brains and try to mobilize the masses to take up a task that will help them (and give you your most coveted TRPs). Believe me, this is the time to act and make it a huge success.

If man-power is the only issue, our valuable citizen-power can be used to catch the offenders. I was impressed by the “Shoot at sight” campaign started by The Hindustan Times to clean up Mumbai. In case you do not remember, it had planted banners all around the city urging citizens to click pics of garbage-throwers using their cellphones and send it to the newspaper office. I am sure that this works. The offender will be too embarrassed to see his picture in the next day’s newspaper.

I will update the post with more ideas as they cross my mind. You are free to comment/send your ideas to me at me@pawanjain.com.

P.S. : I love my hometown. Chandigarh, the first Indian city to go smoke free.

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[ 930 view(s) ]

Well, how to manage the dog?

Monday, September 22, 2008 19:20
Posted in category Events

A dog in IIMA seems to be providiing the would-be managers a first-hand experience at managing dogs. A friend informs that it’s been caught 2-3 days back though.

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[ 895 view(s) ]

First ever issue with GMail

Sunday, July 20, 2008 23:43
Posted in category Computer Science, Internet

Google just doesn’t seem to get its counting correct. It was with Orkut communities (there were, and I believe there still are, those famous “Showing 1-10 of 5″, “Showing 1-20 of 0″ kind of bugs in orkut community threads pages, and the eternal wrong counting errors of number of friends), now I see it with GMail. Just have a look.

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[ 1,903 view(s) ]

The Forgotten Videos – 1

Wednesday, July 9, 2008 3:00
Posted in category Rare Videos, Videos

Ek chidiya, anek chidiya, daana chugne baith gayi…

Does that light a bulb in your long term memory? Well if not then you have not seen enough TV in your childhood. I classify myself into the elite group of people who watched the bare minimum amount of TV in the tender age. It is worth mentioning here that while most of the children my age (I am a 1985 born) have grown up watching Mahabharata and Ramayana etc., I watched Mahabharata for the first time in 2007, and am yet to see Ramayana.

Well you can close that open mouth now, and see the following video, which is the topic at hand. I am starting this “Forgotten Videos” series, in which I will regularly post videos that I have cherished right from early days. Things like these really amaze me.


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A Nineteen to be cautious about..

Saturday, July 5, 2008 1:58
Posted in category Conversation

Sent by Tarun (my batchmate at IIT Delhi, and my very good friend):

Nineteen words that don’t belong in your resume

A nice and useful article. All the more special for me (why?). If you know me personally, you most probably are/should be aware of what the number 19 means to me. [[I have not been documenting more recent encounters though]]

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