May 20, 2005

Mousetrap - 3

Eye in the sky
The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth
The government is reportedly waiting for satellite pictures of the city to find out whether mangrove forests around the city have really been cleared. All I can say is that don’t really need to spend all those crores. They just need to check out this NASA site and download some really wonderful high magnification pictures for free. What kind of magnification, you ask? Well, one that has Chowpatty the size of the nail on my little finger is the best I’ve found, so far. Aside from these fabulous city views, you can also view some of their ready-made collections. After all, the site claims to host “the best and most complete online collection of astronaut photographs of the Earth.”

Collaboration rules!
The Wikipedia
There are many fabulous reference sources online. Unfortunately, some of the best require paid subscriptions. Not so the Wikipedia, “the free-content encyclopedia that anyone can edit,” which runs on the wiki platform. What is a wiki? Well, imagine a gigantic blackboard, which anyone who stops by can write on. (And also erase, totally or partially what someone else has written. Before you do that, please make sure you read their instructions!) So you have experts in different areas giving you detailed dissertations on their specialties, with links to other sites and related pages. While the English Wikipedia is the largest, there are also growing wikipedias in other languages, including Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam. Other Wikimedia projects include Wiktionary, Wikinews, Wikiquote and Wikispecies.

Home-grown
Kamat’s Potpourri
One of the older Indian personal websites, Kamat’s Potpourri is very much a labour of love, produced by Vikas Kamat and his wife, which includes work by his his parents, the scholars the late Dr. K. L. Kamat and Jyotsna Kamat. As the site’s FAQs say, “Among them, they share three Doctorates, Five Masters degrees and seven other University degrees, and Kamat’s Potpourri constitutes over a hundred person-years of work.” So you can expect scholarship and firm opinion for sure! There’s a vast repository of information on Indian history, art, mythology, and much else. One of the amazing things about it is that the older Kamats never used a computer. They would write up their information and mail it to Vikas by post. He would then scan pictures, retype articles, and upload. Like I said, a labour of love.

Blog of the week - Bride in waiting
BridalBeer
An anonymous (though a few bloggers I know have met her) young woman in Calcutta who “was briefly in love.I was in New York for long enough to miss it. Now I am in India, training to be a wife-for-life to a relative stranger (not a stranger who is a relative, we don’t do those).” She writes about the past with the Ex, life as it is now, and the “Would-Bes” she meets, interspersed with the occasional random link and her views on news articles.

Vita Brevis
The Death Clock
Life is precious. You sure you want to be spending all that time staring at your computer screen? Absolutely? Well, go try out this site. Enter your date of birth, weight, sex, attitude(pessimistic sadistic and optimistic are the options available) and whether or not you smoke. Hit enter, and a pop-up gives you your date of death, and a clock begins counting off the seconds you have left. Now, do you still want some more sites to look at? Come to think of it, that’s enough writing for the day. I’m off to get some sunshine.


This column will explore the wilder, wackier, weirder corners of the world wide web. Feedback, suggestions welcome. Mail inthemousetrap@indiatimes.com.

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 20th May, 2005.

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1 comment:

BridalBeer said...

Thanks.
And I can't live without Wikipedia. (Which assumes I can't live without the Internets, and that's true.)