5 years later- The world after 9/11

September 12, 2006

The world 5 years later, after the most daring and barbaric attack of terrorism ever witnessed was conducted on US soil, is at a crossroad , caught in the duel between Bush and bin Laden. Not believing in al-Qaida’s idealogy and not able to digest Bush’s policies in his war against terrorism.

The question which everyone is asking is whether the world has become a safer place to live in?It doesn’t seem so. The knee jerk reaction of Bush after 9/11 in the form of the Iraq war, where he made the world believe that it had something to do with the fight against terrorism ( we know better now – Saddam hated the al- Qaida as much as we do), the futile attack on Afghanistan in his search for Bin Laden, his support to Israel in its attack on Lebanon all have quickly changed the enormous feelings of sympathy and love which made the entire world say that ‘ We are all Americans’ to one of outrage and disbelief. The world sadly to say has become a more dangerous and less beautiful place to live in.

In his fight against terrorism Mr. Bush seems to have forgotten that ‘the ends cannot justify the means’ . Today we have a world that has less tolerance for human rights and even lesser respect for different cultures. We have America which is using 9/11 as a tool for racism. The Arab world is feeling alienated in the fight against terrorism. They are caught between the devil and the deep sea, against both al-Qaida and the US at the same time.

As rightly said ‘ Mr. Bush, you have taken advantage of the sympathy and love you got after 9/11 and turned it into a fradulent war and needless death, first transforming it into fear and suspicion.’ You, Mr. Bush have made this world a more dangerous place to live in.


Searching the World Wide Web – Smarten up!

September 4, 2006

The Internet is terrific resource. It contains hundreds of websites dedicated to thousands of topics. With so many topics it is easy to get lost.

So know the type of search tools and learn some general search tips to make your search more profitable. However, use caution when searching the web as anyone can post websites about topics that interest them and these sites are always not accurate. So, learn how to evaluate web sites as all the information on these web sites is not always trustworthy.

As we live in an information age and the amount of information available is so mind bogglingly huge, we need to evaluate the sources from where we get the information. We need to constantly sift and select so that we can make responsible choices that we do not regret later on.

One of the things that you need to do is to critically evaluate the information you find. Then weed out the information that is useless. (You will need to discern between the useful and the useless.) It will take time and skill but keep at it!

Here are some tips for searching the web -

  • Take the help of search engines like Google, Yahoo, Alta Vista, HotBot, Go, Lycos, Web Crawler, Excite to search for key words and phrases.
  • Use terms that are specific to your search. Avoid using broad terms as they will result in thousands of sites.
  • Use Boolean operators like ‘and’ ‘or’ ‘not’ ‘near’ etc.
  • You can also use Meta Search engines like Rede Search, Ask Jeeves, Big Hub, DogPile, C4, All4One . These usually search other less well known search engines and specialized sites.
  • Use catalouges and indexes likeYahoo and About.com which list websites by categories. These will have sub categories which will help you locate sites related to your topic.

Most important: While searching select your site carefully. Read about who developed the site and whether it is credible.


Ethnic Profiling – Judging the book by its cover?

September 2, 2006

What is ethnic profiling?
Ethnic or racial profiling refers to government activity directed at a suspect or a group of suspects because of their race. When acts of terrorism are carried out and as a part of investigations it is concluded that the prime suspects belonged to a particular race, the people of that race have to undergo additional security checks because of their ethnicity and religion. As the threat is coming from a single group, they are singled out for further questioning.

Today, the ethnic profiling of Arabs and Muslims after September 11, is fueling Muslim rage and is shredding the tolerant culture to bits. It is enraging and alienating everyone in that group and in the long run is only radicalizing more and more of Muslim community. It is alienating the Muslim community in the fight against terrorism, when they could be helpful in combating terrorism.

Many reasons could be given for the impotance of ethnic profiling as an investigative tool against terrorism but the fact is that ethnic profiling is not only bad it is deadly. Taking action against someone solely because of their race or religion reeks of prejudice. It is the expression of racial hatred in the name of security. The question arises that ‘ will stopping men of Asian and Middle Eastern origin stop terrorism? ‘ Are we not vesting the sins of the guilty on the innocents?

Ethnic profiling is counter effective as it is stereotyping people just because the prime suspects of terrorism belonged to a certain race. Are acts of terrorism only limited to a particular religion? Aren’t terrorist found all over the world and belong to different races too? Some one rightly said that ethnic profiling is basically a descent in the minds of the terrorists themselves. Don’t terrorists think that all Americans are ‘ infidels ‘. This very mindset is causing them to commit mass murder and not allowing them to think what they are doing to real people.

If ethnic profiling must be done, then do it in a way to inspire co-operation and not fear. Handle it with care and respect. Single out people based on their behaviour and not their race. Do not let it cause a greater division.


Understanding RSS feed

September 1, 2006

I have been hearing about RSS Feed for a long time and being a ordinary mortal ( not a computer whiz ) wondered what it was?

Guys it’ s simple !
An RSS Feed is a family of web feed formats, specified in XML and used for Web Syndication.

Confused ? All Greek and Latin?

Well, here’s for computer dummies like me.

1. What does RSS stand for?
- Besides a lot of other things , RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.

2. What is a web feed format?
- Web feed formats are XML- based documents which contain content sites such as summaries of stories or blog posts with web links to longer versions.

3. And what is Web Syndication?
- Web Syndication is Publishing your web feed i.e making available your web feed to information sources like a blog.

4. What does RSS do?
- RSS allows people to add links to your content within their own web pages. For example , You publish a new web page and want others interested in that topic to know about it . By listing that page as an a ‘item’ in your RSS Feed, you can have that page appear in front of those who read information using RSS reader or ‘news aggregator’.

5. So, how is RSS useful to me?
- As an RSS text file contains both static information about your site and dynamic information about your new stories, it becomes an easy way to draw attention to your material bringing you some traffic and hopefully a little net fame.

Summing up, an RSS is a distributable ” What’s New” for your site , which helps in increasing web traffic and gathering and distributing news.


Splogs – They continue to be a pain…

August 30, 2006

Splogs or spam blogs continue to pose a serious threat to search engines and the blogosphere. And the scary part is that they are continuing to grow at a faster rate than the regular blog growth. For the innocents, SLOGS like spam emails are useless and repetitive blogs ( read fake blogs) which are created programmatically with the help of special software packages and not by human beings.

Sploggers ( creators of splogs) generate thousands of blogs each day with these software packages. They then fill these blogs with crap content which is basically nonsense, irrelevant and repetitive in nature. This content is mostly stolen from other blogs by scraping i.e by sending an electronic copying bot which collects everything it sees and recreates it into an unlimited number of instant documents.

The stolen content is then jumbled around and put online for search engines to find them. They do not make any sense. The splogs are then filled with ads. They are annoying as you not only get fake blogs all pointing to the same site and without any text but only ads, you get fake comments on your blog too. They fake you into thinking that you are clicking on comments but you end up clicking the sploggers advertisement sites.

Now the question arises : Why do sploggers do this?

The main intention of the splogger is to siphon money from Google Adsense. By harvesting what other bloggers write and then publishing it on splogs and running Google adverts, they make Google Adsense dollars out of it when visitors click on these ads. ( As splogs offer ‘ zero ‘ value you end up clicking on these ads instead, and the splogger makes money.)

Their other intentions are -

  • To promote affiliated web sites by increasing it’s page ranking.
  • Use the splog as a link to get new sites indexed.
  • To drive customers to an obscure e-commerce site.
  • To get ad impressions from visitors.

They manipulate the blogosphere for profit, so report them if you come across them.


HTTP 404 – File not found (that annoying error message)

August 25, 2006

Everybody of us have got this annoying, least helpful message sometime or the other when we have typed in a URL to find a much awaited site and landed at this error page instead.

What is an HTTP 404 error message?

It is a little like the responseyou get in your regular postal services which says ‘ return to the sender – address unknown’ . It is basically a standard response code for a ‘ file not found ‘ error , indicating that the client was unable to communicate with the server. It is received when the webpage you are looking for has either been removed or deleted, you have typed the URL incorrectly or there is a broken link in the URL .

What does 404 stand for?

In the code 404, the first ‘ 4 ‘ indicates a client error like a mistyped URL.
the middle ‘ 0 ‘ refers to a general syntax error like a spelling mistake.
the last ‘ 4 ‘ indicates the specific error encountered like a bad request, unauthorized
request or a broken line in the URL.

So what to do when you get this error? Check to see if you have copied and pasted the URL correctly in your web browsers and there are no broken links.


I’ve got spam!

August 24, 2006

I receive a lot of spam (read junk email) from people I do not know. It was so annoying and time consuming as I used to read all those emails thinking that they might be important! Geez.. :-(
You wouldn’ t believe the amount of bogus offers that arrive in my emial box everyday and a few of the email hoaxes I have fallen for. I hope I know better now!

Ever wondered how these emails reach you?

Whenever you post your email address on a website , a chat room or a newsgroup, your address like that of so many others, is purchased by email spammers from list brokers ( whose job is to harvest emails from the internet and then sell them to anybody who pays for them). These spammers then use a special software to send thousands or even millions of email messages at the click of a mouse.

How to avoid spam?

  1. Do not enter your email address in public sites like chat rooms, online bulletin boards or newsgroups.
  2. Check the privacy policy of the website before submitting your email address. See whether they sell your address to their partner sites. Refrain from giving your email address to such sites.
  3. Use 2 email addresses – one for your personal use and the other for chat rooms and newsgroups.
  4. Use an email filter. It is provided by most email readers like Outlook and Netscape. This will allow you to filter spam or channel it into a bulk folder from where it can be deleted.
  5. Send a copy of the spam to spam@uce.gov They will take action against people sending deceptive messages.

What to do with spam?

  1. The simplest and easiest way to do deal with spam is to – Delete it. Put it in trash. Don’t even open it. Just hit the delete button.
  2. Don’t reply to spam. Even to messages which say ‘ Remove me from the list.’ Chances are that it is just another way of making sure that your email address is active and can be spammed again.
  3. Don’t open attachments or links in your email. Delete it. Alternatively, before opening it, save it in your hard disk for your computer to check for viruses ( you must have an anti virus software installed in your computer for this).
  4. Don’t forward chain messages as you are facilitating spammers to gather more email addresses.
  5. Never ever purchase anything through spam. Put them out of business by doing so.

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