Yahoo! Travel Updated

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I am a little disappointed with Yahoo! which seems to sneak in great updates without a lot of buzz being generated around it. For instance, the only way I find out about the fact that Yahoo! Travel has undergone a major revamp is if I look closely at my Yahoo! page.
Yahoo! Travel updated
Where are the blogs, the news, the reviews around this wonderful update?
I do not think I can manage a full-blown review just yet, but some interesting things are:

  • They have added community features to the Travel website
  • You can browse other’s people’s trips, share your trip details with friends
  • You can duplicate other’s trips and make reservations for the same itinerary or fudge it to create your own unique trip

I am going to play around with this and probably comment more. But I am still confused about why the only thing Yahoo! has been in the news recently for is people stepping down or Yahoo! Photos shutting down!

Visualize your WordPress activity using the Many Eyes plugin

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Do you want to see how chatty you have been in the blogosphere? Is there a trend in your periods of lull and heavy activity?

I wrote a plugin that helps convert information about your blog posts into data compatible with Many Eyes. You can install this plugin onto your WordPress installation and then you are just one click away from creating a visualization that looks like the one below:




According to my stats, I’ve been very active in the August of 2005! How about you?

You can download the Many Eyes Data Exctractor plugin from here.

Installation Instructions:

  1. Unzip to your wp-contents/plugins directory
  2. Login to to your WordPress admin area – usually <your-blog-uri>/wp-admin/
  3. Click on Plugins and activate the Many Eyes Data Exctractor plugin
  4. Click on Manage
  5. Click on the Visualize tab

A new paradigm: Social Investigation through Social Networks

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Disclaimer: This post makes a reference to the death of a young girl in Mumbai. I never knew her but I wish that her soul rests in peace and I really hope her murderer is found and duly punished. However, this post is about the interesting phenomenon of ‘social investigation’ I have observed around this ‘incident’ (if I may call it so).

The Incident:

A 24-year-old Tata Consultancy Services engineer was found dead on Monday morning in a hotel room in Andheri, where she had checked in with a male companion on Saturday.
Koushambi Layek, a systems consultant with TCS, was found dead in room number 202 of Hotel Sun-n-Sheel in Andheri (East) when the hotel staff opened the door with a duplicate key after their repeated calls on the intercom went unanswered. She was found lying on the bed soaked in blood with two bullets wounds.

[Indian Express]

The reaction:
She belonged to a cohort which is very active on Orkut and this incident is being heavily discussed online. Her scrapbook is being filled with messages of peace and condolences and rage for the murderer. Communities have been created to discuss this incident and make sure the message and investigation stays alive until justice is done.

Social Investigation:
Interestingly, her friends have launched a social investigation around this incident. The accused is also active on Orkut. His scrapbook and posts made by him are being actively scanned for pieces of evidence linking him to the crime. They have already found quite some interesting bits of information:
Social Investigation on Orkut
The above post shows how they found the accused individual frantically requesting phone number of another individual which has raised doubts about the potential involvement of someone else. The police too has been actively monitoring these communities to find interesting or implicating evidence.

Remarks:
Can this information be used as hard-evidence? Does this incident highlight how social investigation can possibly help law enforcement in the future? It surely highlights the importance of scanning social networking sites in addition to emails and web-access records to gather evidence. Is it harmful for investigation proceedings and speculations to be publicly available like this? As our lives become more public through these social networking websites, we probably want to reflect on what information about us people may get at in the future and whether we are comfortable having our information available in ways we do not foresee today.

President of India: Get Kalam Back

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If you are happy with the wonderful term President Kalam served, you can vote for him to be elected back for another term. I am not sure how influential these votes will be, but there is no harm in voting(?). I do not know Pramodh Mysore, who seems to be running this website; for all I know, he’s a smart Indian using this as an opportunity to mass-collect email addresses :). But well, I would like to see if online voting can somehow be influential in the normal democratic process we have. So go over to the site and vote!
President of India
Note to citizens of other countries: India uses the parliamentary model of democracy where the Prime Minister is the main executive in the Government. The President mainly presides and has limited powers but is an influential figure nonetheless.

Rajnikant and Japan

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Guess what good old Rajnikanth is up to? He is creating waves in Japan!
This is a death-blow to all those Bollywood elite who make fun of his style; he rocks and his fame proves it!
Here’s a Rajnikanth poster in a movie hall in Japan

You can read more about this on the Economic Times.
Interestingly, not so long while ago, I was one of the young Indians who was crazy about the Japanese Superhero Giant Robot! .
Trivia: Another Bollywood star who was hugely popular in another country was Raj Kapoor. Also, Chunky Pandey is almost worshipped in Bangladesh. But nothing comes close to the demigod status of Rajnikanth in India! Mind it!

Update: Here’s an embedded video of Rajnikant. Now you see why he is God.