Sunday, 9 April 2006

Mousetrap - 48

Windows may be ubiquitous, and it certainly is a marketing poster child, but, as you probably know, it can be a tad, well, annoying. This site owes it existence to just that quality. It won this columnist’s heart with the home page visual of the MS paperclip being stomped, and continued to charm me with its neatly compartmented annoyances, and the easy-to-follow instructions for overcoming them. There are also forums, with the questions and tips in each section indicating whether there are discussions on those topics. There’s even a humour section. Much needed to face a life with Microsoft, no?

..and plain old mistakes
The Slip-Up Archive
A companion site to the previous item, it lists the little hidden thingies aren’t intentional. It features sections on movies, TV, books, and quotes. A certain world leader with the middle initial “W” figures prominently in the last-named. Like its senior sibling, reader contributions are welcome, and there’s a discussion board.

Video vici
It began in 1992, founded by music icon Peter Gabriel, and is now an international non-profit that has partnered 200 human-rights groups in 60 countries. Its methods are simple: it provides its partners with video cameras so they can record human rights violations or their aftermath. Faced with visual evidence, these violations are difficult to ignore. Their films see wide circulation in the mass media, and even the festival circuit. The site documents Witness’s successes, and has their “rights alert” films available for viewing.

Different worlds
Of course you know your world map with all its familiar shapes, even if you’re unable to name every country. But geography isn’t the only way to view the world. And this site illustrates that vividly. You can view the relative importance (or impact) of countries on a bunch of other parameters, like population, resources, wealth and lots more. While the material is copyrighted, the site promises that permission to re-use for non-profits and NGOs will usually be given. That’s for the much more detailed and larger images, of course. For you and me and our PCs, the sizes on the site reveal all we could want to know. [Link via Dina Mehta.]


This Week’s Blog

The BlockHole
One of the many sports blogs around, yes, but it’s been around for a while – well, a year-and-a-half – and it’s run by three techies (though it looks like only one of them is posting regularly these days) who choose to spell their home town “Calcutta.” The name should warn you that it has a tad too much cricket – for my taste, at least (okay, okay, lynch me later) – but it does give other sports their place in the sun. The site once featured an interesting regular quiz, which seems to have run out of steam. But the longer thought pieces are a pleasant change from much of the sports blogging I see: no rabid jingoism, no half-baked analysis. On the whole, worth your time.

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, 9th April, 2006.

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