Bond with Books


‘Books are your best friends.’

‘The best companion one can ever have is books.’

book-inspiration-quoteI am sure we all have heard such similar sentences numerable times. And I know for sure that people who share that special friendship… so-called bond with Books will agree to this.

During January 2015, Hindustan Times came up with its challenge for the 2nd year, Hindustan Times Brunch initiative to promote reading. I came to know about this from the renowned Indian Author Ravi Subramanian’s Facebook wall. He had taken up the challenge. The target was 30 Books in a year. I became an avid part of it and completed 31 books. As they say that at times it is difficult to express happiness or joy in words, this is somewhat that kind of feeling. I can only say that it feels ‘wow’ every time I think of this. book brunch

I loved thoroughly my journey of reading these 31 books. Since it was my 1st time of taking up such a challenge, I did not think of any specific subject or language or had set any criteria for the books I will be reading. So I read various books on various subjects penned by authors that belonged to different genres. I even tagged them on my Facebook wall as #‎BrunchBookChallenge by Hindustan Times Brunch with an intention to share my excitement with my Facebook Friends.

I noticed that these updates on my Facebook wall received comparatively lesser traction when compared to other posts of mine. Many people out there thought, why am I sharing it? Possibly many might have not bothered too. But I continued doing so, just because I wanted to continue walking towards my aim. Yes, an AIM.

Whenever I meet people, out of few things, I am very keen to know if other person is someone who loves reading or is interested in books. This not only gives a feeling that there is one common topic wherein discussion can take place, but I also always have a hidden greed that I will know more about books. There is so much written across the globe by various people on various subjects in various languages. So there is so much to read and learn and widen the horizon of our thoughts.

I always ask this question to people I meet, “Do you read?” or “Do you have a reading habit?” or “Do you Like books?”

When there is an affirmation, my heart smiles. And when the answer is a “NO” or something close to this answer, I try to share my experience or that lovely bond with books with an intention to somewhere convince the person to take upon reading as a habit. Many people tell me that you cannot convince someone to take up reading as a habit. But I am so happy to share that I did convince to a handful of, successfully. And I feel so great about it. Yes, I do. I feel blessed. And this motivates me to continue doing so.

Today, as I share my feelings here, the intention is same.

And with this, now for 2016, my resolution is to read 50 different writers across the world. In 2015, I noticed that I read mostly Indian writers. This does not mean that I will not read Indian writers, but this means I will at least read works penned by 50 writers across the globe. I am Already feeling excited about it. And to keep a track on it, I will tag them as ‘#2016WritersAcrossGlobe’ whenever I post an update related to this activity on my wall. Moreover, henceforth I also plan to cultivate the habit of recording each and every book that read on Goodreads.

Anyone who is interested in accompanying me in this is more than welcome. It would really be nice. Moreover, I am happy to welcome suggestions for this activity as well. And even if I am alone, I will surely continue doing so, because with this activity even if I motivate and make 1 person adapt the habit of reading in whole 2016, I will consider it a success…

I know I am not doing something exceptional but still….

So… Come… Join me in the journey and experience the joy of Reading J

 

Glance at My Journey with Books in 2015:

 

Quotes on Reading:

“You’re never alone when you’re reading a book.” ― Susan Wiggs

“A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition. Like money, books must be kept in constant circulation… A book is not only a friend, it makes friends for you. When you have possessed a book with mind and spirit, you are enriched. But when you pass it on you are enriched threefold.” ― Henry Miller

“Be as careful of the books you read, as of the company you keep; for your habits and character will be as much influenced by the former as the latter.” ― Paxton Hood

‘पापा’ / ‘Papa’


*
मीलों का सफ़र तय कर चुकी हूँ मैं…
पर जीन रास्तों पे बचपन गुज़रा वे नहीं आते…

आज भी लड़खड़ा के गीर जाती हूँ …
मगर अब मेरे  ‘पापा ‘  के हाथ मुझे नहीं  सँभालते…

एक वक़्त था जब उनसे कोई बात नहीं छुपती थी…
आज उन्हें पुकारने को लब् हैं तरस जाते…

वो कहते थे मैं उनकी गुडीया  हूँ…
आज  ज़माने वाले  गुडीया समझ मेरे साथ हैं खेलते…

सब कहते हैं वक़्त सब कुछ भुला देता है…
ज़रा कोई ये बताये के अपने ‘पापा’ को कैसे है भूलते…?

– राखी सुरेन्द्र कनकने


Milon ka safar tay kar chuki hun main…
Par jin raasto pe bachpan guzra woh nahi aate…

Aaj bhi ladkhada ke gir jaati hun kai baar…
Magar ab mere ‘Papa’ ke haath mujhe nahi sambhalte…

Ek waqt tha jab unse koi baat nahi chupti thi…
Aaj unhe pukaar ne ko labb hain taras jaate…

Woh kehte the main unki gudiya hun…
Aaj zamane wale gudiya samajh mere saath hai khelte…

Sab kehte hain waqt sab kuch bhula deta hai…
Zara koi yeh bataye ke apne ‘Papa’ ko kaise bhala hain bhulate…?

– Rakhi Surendra Kankane

Influence of Films on Society


Dadasaheb Phalke brought films in our lives with an intention to impart moral values to the Indian society with touch of entertainment. Though, later films became a major money churning device-profession and overall an industry in itself. However, since the beginning of its journey films have not only just been mere a form of entertainment but also one of the greatest elements that played pivotal role in making society, what it is today. The good and Bad too!

Relationship between art and culture may seem very different; however its presence has always been felt in majorly all aspects of life, be it – paintings, music or films, especially in India. Since, the inception of Indian film industry, the films have always been concentrating on various subjects that have been the important aspects of our lifestyle. These subjects highlighted issues, complexities and the various aspects of the Indian society that created ripples in the past.

It began with Raja Harishchandra, the film that was based on the legend of King Harishchandra, recounted in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The film revolves around the noble and righteous king, Harishchandra to honor his promise to the sage Vishwamitra.

Indian social films have always rocked Indians and most of the social movies are big hits. Many Bollywood films reflect deeper insights into the complex processes of modernization, colonialism, nationalism, freedom for women, the rights of the minorities and also the relationships between Hindus & Muslims. Films such as Achut Kanya, released in 1930 and Sujata (of high caste), produced in 1959 were based on casteism. Other social films that reflected Indian cultural values and social aspects were Prem Rog, Mandi, Astitva, Godmother, Lagaan, Traffic Signal, Bombay, Veer Zaara, Pinjar, Ishaqzaade, to name a few.

Many film makers of Bollywood have always dedicated their films to India and its freedom fighters. Films such as Purab Paschim, Shaheed, Kranti, Border, LOC – Kargil, Rang De Basanti, Swades, The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Hey Ram and many arouse patriotic spirit, love and pride for the nation, while many film makers have made inspiring films on sports such as Chak De India and Iqbaal.  Films such as Udaan, Tere Sang and Taare Zameen Par reflect some good things to the society.

All these above mentioned films no doubt gave a good experience of films to audiences. Because they were meant for so. The fact is that entertainment and cinema are synonymous with each other and films have a great reflection power. Films today are so interlinked with our lives today that it is difficult to imagine life without it. Films act as a reference point to understand customs, behaviour patterns, values, arts and crafts and also the practices of everyday life.

It is not possible to underestimate the influence of cinema. Moreover, the influence of cinema is irreparable. As our films have always tried to appeal and greatly influence our society, they indeed deserve special attention. It is a human tendency and mentality to adapt things which are attractive. Hence, it is a great responsibility of films makers to ensure that the film made should have moral values that are conveyed with a lasting effect on the audience.

Online Dating – Dangerous Ishq!


In this era of busy lifestyle, it is obvious that people have less time to dedicate to their personal lives and hence tend to become lonely. If I say that we live in the age of lonely hearts… I may not be wrong!

These lonely hearts always try to find some or the other way to escape their emptiness… With social media taking over… rather, leading the communication sector… it has proved to be the best tool and the most common way to find friends… and also that ‘special someone’.

Just like any relationship… online relationships too have their own success as well as unsuccessful stories. However, here the issue is that we begin getting closer and opening our heart to some one we never met… we don’t know at all about that person still we get in to the relationship and find a soulmate in that person… hence chances of things going wrong are comparatively more.

I consider such scams into two categories;

1. Personal

2. Cyber threats

When I talk about personal benefits, spying and money extortion tops the list. Any one who wants to spy an individual can fall in love with or make the individual fall in love online. People find this as an easy way to fool some one and earn money in the name of emotions and friendship.

I am sure many of us might have faced such situation wherein, we have met some one online who gradually becomes good friends and then at times love. Later that person may have asked for financial help stating that they are facing some unforeseen situations. Usually such online relationships are short-term though with a promise of long-term at the beginning. The intention is financial benefit. The day you deny helping such person, you do not love or rather trust that person!

As per FBI, chances of women being trapped in such romance Scams is double than men. Last year (2011) the losses reported from this type of fraud reached $50.4 million, with the average victim losing around $8,900 in the name of love. The FBI report also claims that at a rate of 15 complaints received per day, these scams saw daily reported losses of approximately $138,000, or more than $5,700 every hour.

 Most of the times, it is difficult to identify the intentions of the real people behind the fake profiles. The scam artists are innovative in terms of developing new tricks and excellent when it comes to creating characters online to run such frauds. They win trust and heart of victims and often leave them heartbroken and financially ruined.

 The second category of Online dating scams is cyber threats. With the growing cyber age… cyber terrorism, cyber espionage is on peak. Cyber criminals easily take advantage of people adapting to the online dating and relationships in order to exploit the vulnerabilities. Hackers know that in the name of love, fooling people is easy. Moreover, once the trust is won, it is easy to get access the victim’s financial information with an intention of identity theft. Such activities include less effort and help attain maximum output with zero percent physical interaction. No doubt, online dating is a billion dollar industry!

 These days online scammers have started a new scam campaign on Facebook wherein they alert you that someone has viewed your profile or has showed interest in you or has posted a message for you. Then to know more about it they ask you to click on the mentioned link (fraud). Once you click on that link, you welcome malware in your system that takes over your system by infecting it.  

 In addition, at times dating sites are hacked due to improper security measures deployed by the web site. Even if the user exercises utmost caution, the site itself may provide complete information about the member to the hackers including CC number, etc. in case the victim is a paid registered member. Recently, a military dating website – www.militarysingles.com was hacked into by hackers wherein they took confidential information such as passwords, email addresses, etc. from more than 170,000 records. 

 Moreover, in case the photographs are shared while in the online relationship, anyone can take advantage of those pictures. I hope you know about morphed images! People who fall prey of such scams not only face financial loss buy also embarrassment that is usually tragic.

 So, next time anyone who tries to find love online, always ensure of not sharing any kind of sensitive information while interacting on dating sites. Parents, especially of teens, should be cautious and ensure that the child is not getting in such practices. Remember that photographs are not the right proof to judge the genuinity of person and may not even show the real sender (scammer). There is a possibility that the love interest (scammer) of the victim may not even be the same gender that was informed at the beginning of the relationship. It is not that such scams may only happen when some one approaches to the victim. There is a possibility that the scammers may have created a profile on the dating site and then waits for a potential victim to contact them.

 At times, scammers send out random unsolicited emails stating that they are a loner or have a desire to begin a relationship in the hope that some gullible recipients will favourably respond. Many a times, such relationships also begin in chat rooms or messengers.

 Well, I know, anyone reading this may have a question in their mind – is it possible to find love online? I would say, anything is possible… however, I guess we ourselves are the better person who can think best for us! Or may be we are looking for love in wrong places!

THE CONSTANT UPWARD GRAPH OF MALWARE ATTACKS


In the recent spate in high-profile attacks, malware has been the tool of choice for hackers. 2011 seems to be a landmark year hackers with scam attacks, including the politically motivated online attacks on social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Android Market. These series of upsurge attacks are alarmingly the fact that nothing, rather no one is secure on internet. The World Wide Web continues to top malware infection wherein emails are a host to malicious attachments and links, while websites come in as a host to a wide variety of exploits and drive-by downloads targeting browsers and applications alike.

For online users, individuals or organizations, malware has always been a significant threat. A rapid rise is being witnessed that is more than capable of compromising, damaging or acquiring sensitive data which can either be personal or could lead to loss of intellectual property in the overall threat landscape. Statistics say that, rather than being hacked by using an exploit; IT users are more likely to be tricked into downloading malware. Hence, there is a continuous challenge in detecting and preventing such threats. Though, not all of these attacks are socially engineered, however, the technique is being used to evade security programs and is being applied to the web that increasingly triples the distribution of malware, of which 55% (Malware) is now delivered via Internet downloads, whereas only 14% is delivered through malicious emails. Which means that as there are more than a handful that don’t understand the complexity of web based threats, from a hacker’s perspective tricking users into installing malware is much preferred.

Also, the inappropriate use of SEO is on the rise. Attackers lure the users to the sites that contain the malware software and expose them to fake Anti-virus downloads, Trojans, worms and fake surveys. In addition to Search Engine Poisoning, the upturn in social networking sites makes them the prime focus of cyber criminals. As the information accessibility and services are interconnect and interdependent of each other, it opens more opportunities for more effective attacks on individuals and organisations.  The emerging Java threats due to Java plug-ins soon will be ruling the malware distribution. Also, URL Shortcut services and Location services contribute greatly in the business of malware distribution. URL Shortcut services will be witnessed.

Apart from creating new malware, Cyber-Criminals are effectively re-modifying the code of known deceased malware. A very good example would be that of the Ramnit Worm which has recently morphed into a financial malware. Moreover, there has also been an enormous increase in malicious programs accounting for at least 25% rise in fresh threats when compared to similar months in 2010. Trojans dominated the line of newly detected threats comprising of at least 70% of all newly created malicious software.

There was a whopping $114 Billion loss due to cyber crime itself cost the world last year. With over 2.9 million users falling as victims to cybercrimes, India alone stood at a loss of $7.6 Billion or Rs 36,200 crore out of which $4 Billion was the total financial loss while $3.6 Billion was the amount spent to resolve reported theft. Of the total amount reported a mere 21% of victims actually reported the crime to the police. Despite the efforts made by security vendors, only 16% had security software installed on their cell phone while 21% had on their PCs. Also, additional $274 billion was lost, based on the value victims placed on time lost due to their cyber crime experiences. More than two thirds of all adults who used the Internet more were victims of cyber crime. While most issues are more than preventable, over 54% of online users have experienced malware followed by 11% in online scams and 10% in phishing scams. In comparison to 2009 and 2010, there has been a decent increase in malware amounting to 19% in 2011.

There key reason for this increase in the cyber attacks is financial profit. Also, there been a whole automation in terms of the creation of malware due to the web attack toolkits that are growing at a rapid rate as the chosen weapon.

On the other hand, the way cyber crime is dealt by people online shown by the overall number of infected users itself signifies a defect. According to studies, in the last one year the overall number of users infected with regard to online cyber crime has tripled in comparison to offline crime. A major flaw is been noticed in the way users perceive online threats. There is a huge gap between awareness and the action that needs to be taken by IT users. Approximately, 80% of PC users are aware of cyber crime as a growing threat, however the necessary precautions are not being taken against it. At times, either the Security is outdated or the implementation of the necessary updates to protect users from complex threats id not up to the mark.

With respect to enterprises, cyber crime is increasing at an alarming rate with over $30 Billion being invested annually on corporate defences and cyber criminals are invariably being able to evade these conventional defences. In fact, even the most security conscious industries are vulnerable to online attacks such as HBGary, Epsilon, RSA and DigiNotar, Comodo– to name a few.

NOW COMPUTERS WILL UNDERSTAND YOUR PAIN!


When we are sick, the worst thing that we go through is someone questioning what exactly you are going through… where is it paining and to what extend is it paining… its very irritating… right? In addition, the situation is tougher with infants, elderly, debilitated or unconscious patients.

Pain being considered to be the fifth vital sign, it is considered as one of the key elements of the patient assessment. Doctors completely rely on patients to tell them whether they are in pain. Well, however, gone are the days when we had to keep trying to explain to our doctor how much something hurts on a scale of one to 10. Recently, the Scientists at Stanford University have taken an initiative in creating a new gold standard for assessing pain using computer learning software.

As the research and development continues for this innovation, the scientists have been able to predict most of the time whether the volunteers are experiencing pain or not. Moreover, to get these results, they have combined computer-learning software with a catalogue of MIR brain scans. For the study, the team uses a linear support vector machine – a computer algorithm – to classify patterns of brain activity and determine whether someone is experiencing pain. For this, the volunteers who undergo the brain scans are touched by a mildly heated probe and then again on a painfully hot setting. The computer uses data from these scans to recognise different brain activity patterns that occurs when a person is detecting heat, and which ones detect pain. It is estimated that, in these tests the computer has been more than 80 per cent accurate in detecting which brain scans are of people in pain or not. Conducted in a controlled laboratory environment, the study is said to need a further research to detect if the technology can be adapted to accurately show chronic pain.

Using this neuro-imaging technology, apart from the scale of pain, the team has also been successful in detecting whether the patient is in a state of pain or not. Hence, eventually with the use of this technology, doctors will be able to detect pain better and will be able to give better treatment of chronic pain.

So, the next time when we go to the doctor and he has this question in his mind for us that how much does it hurt, their computer will help them tell how much pain their patients are experiencing.

I agree it is a great innovation, and fingers crossed…. I pray that it meets the standards successfully. However, I would like to make a point that no matter how successful this innovation is, it will not give accurate results if the malware and other viruses affect it. Such malicious creatures have the tendency of disturbing the working of softwares installed in the computer as well as the whole computer rather. Moreover, this will lead to inappropriate treatment, thus increasing the complexities in the patient’s health. Hence, an Anti-Virus is a must for such computers.

Otherwise, how will the computer understand the pain we are going through?

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