Sunday, 24 July 2005

Mousetrap - 12

If you love something, set it free
BookCrossing wants you to free your books. And you do so by deliberately losing them. Leaving one in a train, say, or in a restaurant. But first, you register the book on the site and get a BookCrossing ID number, with which you label the book. Then, every time someone picks up the book and sees the label, they can log in to the site and record a journal entry for the book. And you get notified by email every time that happens, so you can “follow” your book on its travels, and read what other people think about this book that you loved enough to want to share it with the world. Just make sure it’s not from the library, hm?

Pink city
Mumbai Flamingo Bay
A home-grown site with its heart in the right place, even if it does layer on too many flashing banners and has a few pages that are, to put it kindly, clumsily written. This is a site with a cause: the migratory birds, including 20,000 plus flamingos, that spend the winter wading the nutrient-rich Sewri mudflats. Its founders think that the proposed Nhava Sewri Trans Harbour Sealink, which the powers that be have decided will run slap-bang through the middle of this area, will destroy this delicate eco-system. They hope to get the government to move the planned bridge a little further South, and to declare the Bay a bird sanctuary. There’s an online petition you can sign, some lovely pictures, and a message board where you can leave words of encouragement.

Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, Website?
Twenty Questions
If, in the age of lightning fast PCs and the complex games they support, you sometimes yearn for simple, old party-and-picnic, pencil-and-paper games, hie thee, then, to this charming site. The version of Twenty Questions here is not just a dumb game that you figure out after playing it a few times. learns, and gets smarter, each time someone plays it. Its creators call it “an experiment in artificial intelligence. ... Everything that it knows and all questions that it asks were entered by people playing this game.” So you’re not really goofing off on the net when you visit this site, see? You’re contributing to the development of artificial intelligence. The site also has those other faves, Hangman and Concentration. (Thank you Pooja Raut.)

Blog of the week - The Read Queen
Happenings of the Heart
Don’t get misled by the title. This isn’t a ditzy teenager blogging about her latest crush, her newest shoes or the handset Daddy bought her. Yes, she does SMS, and a recent post was about spectacle frames, but she also talks about aging, about being single, about old friends, about life in the city. That isn’t all. This lady - and yes, you wouldn’t dream of calling her anything but that after you’ve been around her blog a bit - is, quite frankly inspirational. She’s a single mother, she learned to swim in her forties, she’s performed with a dance troupe, she jogs, she can “conduct an aerobic class for as long as 90 minutes at a stretch.” And, you know what else? She’s sixty, and a grandmother.

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to for past columns, and to comment.

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 24th July 2005.

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