Biking for Multiple Sclerosis

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#BaliBikes is back and this year, I aim to push myself further.
I promise to ride 1 mile for every $5 that is donated towards Bike MS, an organization that helps people with Multiple Sclerosis. Feel free to share this post and help it gain momentum.

Donate here: bit.ly/balibikes

Find out more: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS

 

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Ice Bucket Challenge: Just saying

As a lover of science, mathematics, and basic well-rounded logical arguments, I find incompletely supported arguments extremely annoying!

Lately there have been a lot of people complaining about how the Ice Bucket Challenge is the stupidest thing ever. One of the most popular arguments that has gone undisputed in my circle of friends is that the Ice Bucket Challenge is wastage of water while people are dying of thirst in Africa. The inhumane living conditions in some parts of the world are no joke. However, the argument is, kind of, invalid.

Consider this, the flow rate in shower heads in the US are mandated to stay below 2.5 gallons per minute. This is roughly 9.5 litres per minute. Most of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos I have seen involved buckets which were sized somewhere between 4-6 gallons (~14-23 litres).

Most people I know wait a good half-minute (to 2 minutes) in the shower before the water attains the optimal temperature. It is a luxury most of us have gotten used to. That amounts to the wastage of anywhere between 1.25-5 gallons (4.75-19 litres) of water. I am assuming people perpetuating this argument have R&D’ed, theorised and optimised their daily shower routine to the point that their water wastage is far below the water content of the median ALS Ice Bucket Challenge bucket.

I am certain that most people I know do not have water consumption habits that are optimized to an extent where their water wastage on even a weekly basis is below 5 or even 10 gallons (~19 or even 38 litres). I haven’t even accounted for the average toilet flush (1.6 gal. per flush or 6 litres per flush) or cooking habits, or the several other tertiary activities we go about on a daily basis that (inefficiently) consume water.

As for my Indian friends that have attacked the challenge, I have one word for you: Holi! You may not apply cold water to the burned area.

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(Holi is an Indian festival that often involves people throwing color and water on each other. In some parts of India, like my hometown, it is virtually impossible to leave your house on the day of Holi and last 15 minutes without getting drenched.)

Now, getting to the water problems in Africa. Here is a map of Africa:

Africa_satellite_orthographic

You may notice that most places in Africa that are suffering from water deficit in Africa have easier access to water from the Atlantic, Southern and Indian oceans, Mediterranean and Red seas and other lakes and rivers within the continent than to the water in Europe or North and South America. One of the primary concerns with water scarcity is not the lack of water. It is the lack of water fit for consumption. It is not economically feasible to transport water inter-continentally, or even to purify salt water. Reverse osmosis is expensive.

My point is this: There are going to be people who are going to hate. It is the mere nature of social dynamics. But please just think through the arguments you buy into before you perpetuate them. Besides, the social media (accidental) geniuses that made this viral have done an immense job for the ALS Association. I wonder how much it would have cost them to pay for advertising at a comparable scale.

It is, without doubt, one of the most successful pyramid schemes I have ever seen.

 

PS: Some important links

To Donate: http://www.alsa.org/donate/
Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amyotrophic_lateral_sclerosis

Bali Bikes

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I promised to bike as many miles as the number of likes I received on Facebook. It’s not much in comparison to some cyclists, but the 70 mile weekend was a first for me.

Microsoft’s Cortana Gets A Sneak Preview, Looks Like A Circle And Will Call You Whatever You Want

This seems like an obvious, but interesting, development. Can’t wait for more news on the matter.

What I think about Facebook acquiring Whatsapp

I see several people making jokes about Facebook’s recent purchase. While some people seem to have been following the chain of events, a lot of people merely seem to have discovered the whole matter only now. So here’s a dumbed down version of what is actually happening.

If you google ‘Facebook user decline report’, you should come across at least a dozen legitimate news sources that should get you caught up with the strong suspicion that Facebook’s seeing a decline in users. Now though the number of Facebook accounts might be increasing by the day, the decrease can be measured in terms of the net time spent on the site per month. Also there are strong hints that point out a decline in younger users. There’s strong indication that as more and more people are grasping the concept of social media, and with the increase of mobile access, there are more parents and grandparents joining the social media giant.

As a recent victim of this phenomenon, I instantly see the appeal of leaving Facebook. Combined with this, the fact that several more private social media solutions like Whatsapp, Viber, Snapchat, etc. only make it easier for younger users to migrate to social networks that protect their privacy. Facebook’s ever-fluctuating privacy policy hasn’t helped the case.

Facbook acquires whatsapp

Enter Whatsapp. What started out as a simple app that cut out the cost of international texting tariffs, slowly grew due to its operating ethics. I’ve only looked at it as a mere texting app replacement, the application has gained immense popularity in certain parts of the world as a legitimate social network, one that is more private, and simply more comfortable to live in. At $1.00 a year after the first year, it’s an inexpensive juggernaut hurtling towards a time-local success.

From Facebook’s perspective, if you can’t beat them, you join them. And that’s exactly what has happened. By acquiring Whatsapp, Facebook will be able to keep its place as the dominant social media solution. They did this with Instagram as well, and I can only hope they will have the decency to not change the way Whatsapp works.

It’s been a good two years of being a Whatsapp user for me. I am desperately looking at other solutions to have a texting solution that will not mean giving up what is left of my privacy.

Hello Viber?

A will for your online data?

All rights rest with BBC news.

Google will allow users to decide what happens to their data after they die or become inactive online, the first major company to deal with the sensitive issue.

The feature applies to email, social network Google Plus and other accounts.

Users can choose to delete data after a set period of time, or pass it on to specific people.

Internet users around the world have expressed concern about what happens to their data after their demise.

“We hope that this new feature will enable you to plan your digital afterlife – in a way that protects your privacy and security – and make life easier for your loved ones after you’re gone,” Google said in a blogpost.

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California-based Google also owns YouTube, photo-sharing service Picasa and Blogger.

Google said users can opt to have their data deleted after three, six, nine or 12 months of inactivity. Alternatively, certain contacts can be sent data from some or all of their services.

However, the company said it would text a provided number or email a secondary email address to warn users before any action is taken.

People are increasingly placing content on social networks and data storage facilities hosted in cyberspace, or the “cloud”.

Other companies have also attempted to tackle the questions that raises after a person’s death. Facebook, as an example, allows users to “memorialise” an account.