Sunday, 26 March 2006

Mousetrap - 46

Sing along
If you’re a Hindi film buff, and, more to the point, a film songs fan, you’ll want to check this out. It is the “result of a collaborative, non-commercial and open Internet effort called iTrans Song Book (ISB) that is over 9 years and 10000 songs old now.” This archive is mainly focussed songs from films but also includes Ghazal, Bhajan, Geet, and Pop. Aside from browsing by titles, films, singers, music directors or lyricists, it also features friendly search that helps you find stuff even if you mess up the transliteration. And there’s a companion wiki you can contribute to. If your computer and browser are Unicode-enabled, you could go straight to the Hindi version of the site: [Link via Megha Murthy]

My name is Anthony gone service
If you like the previous site, chances are you’ll enjoy this one too. It features a collection of mondegreens from Hindi film music. (Mondegreens are misheard phrases, usually from songs or poems, where the mishearing usually gives it a whole new meaning – or sometimes, just pure nonsense.) The lyrics are in Hindi, but in Roman script, and are sorted by freshness and popularity, as well as alphabetically. And yes, you can go submit your own, or just agree with some of the existing stuff.

You’re a star
Ever wondered what it’s like to get fan mail? Well, don’t look at me, I just write an obscure column. Let me point you, instead, to Mark Kaye’s little gimmick. He’s radio host in Washington, and, he says, he loves fan mail so much he thinks everyone should get some. So, if you sign up, he promises you that he’ll send you regular fan mail. And, occasionally, his newsletter too. What, you were expecting no strings attached? [Link courtesy Ingrid Srinath.]

Breaking through
There’s an inspiring story behind this name. It began at NIIT, in Delhi. Dr Mitra, its Chief Scientist, had been thinking about unsupervised learning and how computers could help. In 1999, his team made a little hole in the wall between the campus and the slum next door, and installed a computer that could be used through the wall. The kids in the slum took to it immediately, and quickly taught themselves to use the computer. This success, plus further experiments in other areas, rural and urban, led to the formulation of “a new way of learning - Minimally Invasive Education,” and then a tie-up with the International Finance Corporation to set up Hole-in-the-Wall Education Ltd (HiWEL). Go see the site for more, plus updates on its efforts.

With the ever increasing number of sites that aggregate popular topics or let users contribute them it gets a tad difficult even to keep track of these collectives. Here, you’re saved some of the bother. You get, on one page, the top links from digg,, furl, reddit, tailrank, slashdot, and others, plus Google and Yahoo news, and even Flickr and YouTube. Now, of course, you still have to do the choosing. And, you poor so-and-so, the clicking. Ah well. Into each life some rain must fall.

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to for past columns, and to comment, or mail The writer blogs at

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 26th March, 2006.

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