The declining standards of news articles

The standards of news articles are degrading day by day. This is not the first instance where I have read such an article. It has been almost 2 years since I have started noticing such low quality articles in print media.

Finally I was so frustrated that I decided to blog about such articles. It may not improve the writing quality of our current print media, but it may help the readers on how to quickly read a 100+ words article in less than 30 seconds.

See this one example news on a “leading” news portal. The key news is : “A pilot spotted a drone like object near domestic airport in Mumbai and alerted ATC which in turn notified the local police.

 

 

Now how do you convert a simple news into a lengthy article ? This is a trick our print media has mastered. And remember, you don’t have to go to prestigious colleges to learn this art of writing. It is something we learned in good old school days. Just repeat the same information again and again in different forms from the perspective of different people.
Seems to me like our print media is very much inspired by the creativity of daily soaps on Indian television wherein someone will make a crazy statement and then the camera will show faces of every one in the scene 3 times, in different zoom settings. 5 minutes are passed and nothing new has happened in the story. Same is the quality of this article where more than 100 words are written but the information is only of 30 words.

I’ll post more such examples as I come across.

VirtualMin – The most underrated open source control panel

To scale up my website and apps, I recently moved from VPS to Dedicated Server hosting.

The dedicated servers are undoubtedly more powerful than VPS, but they also come along with their own problems of managing. I chose to go for a un-managed server to keep the costs low. And with the new server, the search for a ‘perfect’ control panel started.

At first, I tried the Sentora Control Panel – but it had lot of limitations. I listed the limitations in my previous post here.

Thankfully, I stumbled upon Virtualmin. I read a lot of blogs to find the right panel. I must thank some blogs like this one and this one that did a fair amount of comparison of different control panels – and I feel both of them have underrated the Virtualmin.

Virtualmin can literally (and I mean it) perform ALL the tasks that a server administrator has to do – without knowing any linux commands. Everything is managed by a really nice (bootstrap enabled) Web UI.

Infact it provides so much flexibility (and options) for managing the server that sometimes it may scare away a beginner.

I tried to Open source version which comes for free (to keep my costs low) and I can vouch that this open source version is sufficient for all kind of tasks.

In my next blog, I will list some of the important customization and settings one must do to get things up and running.

Limitations of Sentora Control Panel

I recently moved from a VPS hosting to a Dedicated Server Hosting for many reasons – which I am not listing here.

Typically Dedicated hosting are costlier than VPS and so I wanted to save some money by not opting for managed servers and proprietary control panels.  Instead I chose to go for Open Source web panels. As a matter of fact, I am a big fan of Open Source.

I compared the list of open source web panels on the web and finally stumbled upon Sentora (which is a fork of ZPanel). I decided to try it out.

It has been only few days using Sentora – and I must admit that I am impressed. However, there are some serious limitations of Sentora – especially if you have used any other proprietary control panel in past. For e.g. in past I have used cPanel and Direct Admin.

In this blog I am listing some of those limitations. Before I get into details, I would like to thank the whole Sentora Team for all their hard work and maintaining Sentora.

Limited Cron Job Support

Sentora supports cron jobs. However, it is really – really limited. For e.g.

  • Cron task can only be a PHP file !! What if I want to run a python script or a JAVA program as a cron job ?
  • You can schedule jobs only in the format of periodic interval. For e.g. run every 10 min or daily etc. What if I want to run job on every Sunday at 10:00 p.m. ?
MySQL users have all permissions

When you create a MySQL user, the user has all permissions. This is an issue because sometimes I want to restrict some access to certain users. For e.g. allow Insert / Update and don’t allow Delete on certain Databases.

Sentora does not create a OS User

The main problem that I faced was that when you create a new Client, it does not create respective OS user. I am sure the Sentora team will have reasons to do so, but I will list here the problems that a server admin faces.

  • I could not do a SCP (copy from remote server to local server). The only way to transfer files was via FTP. This is an big issue if the file size is large.

How to overcome these limitations

You can overcome these limitations – but its not a easy job for someone who is not very familiar with the Linux OS.  For e.g. I went ahead and created a OS user for the client. Of-course I restricted the access of the user to limited functionalities.

Here is what I did to overcome the above limitations:

  • Create a OS user. Make sure you restrict his access.
  • Once the OS user was created, I was able to transfer large files using SCP
  • I was also able to set up custom cron jobs using the crontab utility.
  • Login via root MySQL user and restrict the access of SQL users

In my next blog I will document the detailed steps on how to migrate your domains and data from old hosting server (which might be running a different control panel) to Sentora Web Panel.

Why Freedom 251 smart phone could be a sham !

India is land of unthinkable… be it religion, politics, education or technology.

Recently we saw something unimaginable – a Rs. 251 Smart phone. Thats roughly 4 USD !!
This is not the first time India has tried to bring technology to public at unimaginable price. We already saw a failed attempt by previous government in trying to bring Aakash Tablet priced at around Rs 1100. That was approximately 4 times costlier than Rs. 251 smart phone.

We know from past failures that such a low priced tablet was not possible.. Take an example of Raspberry foundation which is trying to develop low cost computers. Their computer with 1GB RAM and 1GHz processor costs $35! and it has no screen! Just plain development board !

So how can a gadget with roughly same specifications be now sold at such ridiculous price. At this price, people would probably buy phone in the unit of ‘Kilos’. It is simply too good to be true.

It could be a very well planned sham !

Is it e-Waste from some country ?
One possibility is that this could be e-Waste of some developed western country. We know that with growing environmental concerns, some of the developed countries who have strict environmental regulations are finding it difficult to dispose off their e-Waste.
It is possible that one of those countries is trying to dispose its e-Waste. So they might be giving it for free OR in-fact could also be paying something to take away that e-Waste from their countries.
Some smart guys are importing that, getting money and then re-assembling it to sell in Indian market. And in the process, making some extra money also.
Thats the only way it could become affordable to sell a smart phone at Rs. 251/-

It could be well planned corporate fraud !
Another possibility is that this is a well thought fraud! Yes you read it right – well planned corporate fraud
The company right now is taking orders and are promising to deliver the phone in next few months. Based on the orders they receive, they could apply for a big loan. After few months they may file bankruptcy or default on the loan — just like Mr. Kingfisher did. We have seen how big corporations have defaulted on their loans.

In my opinion the current government should be cautious and should keep a close eye on this. This could potentially snowball into another controversy around ‘Make in India’ about how the government has made doing business easy but has left too many loop holes for big corporations to exploit.

If I were you, I would just wait and watch and believe only when I see myself.

The opinions expressed here are my personal opinion. I am neither a ‘bhakt’ nor an ‘aaptard’ ..  just another blogger trying to finish this blog before my son wakes up !

Why should we fast

fastingFasting – Is commonly observed in all religions. All religions have recommended fasting for various reasons. I am not getting into debate of ‘religious fasting’.

The point I want to make is: Since every religion advices fasting, there has to be some logic behind fasting – may be scientific, may be physiological or may be psychological.

I believe that fasting makes you mentally strong. It can bring some discipline in your mind and body. It helps you control your senses and emotions.

In my opinion, fasting is like vaccination. The concept of vaccination is that you inject a very small quantity of virus into your body and your mind and body learns how to fight against it. Thus, in future when the Virus attacks your body, your mind and body are fully prepared to fight against the virus. Same is the logic with fasting also. Once in a while we should fast so that our mind and body learns how to behave in a hostile situation, so that mind can learn how to control your senses, emotions, weakness.

Consider this – Lets say you have never ever fasted in your entire life. One day you are in a terrible situation and you can’t find anything to eat. It will be very difficult for you to be normal that day without food. On the other hand if you are some one who regularly fasts, then it would be probably very easy for you to survive one day without food.

Fasting does not really mean – stop eating food. Fasting could be of any type. The idea of fasting should be – Quit something that you feel you cannot live without for 1 day. It could be anything. It could be coffee, beer, smoke, chicken, smart phone… .whatever you feel like.
Live one day without it. It will help you.
For e.g. quit smoking for one day. May be it will help you quit smoking for ever some day when you want to.
Quit coffee / beer for a day. You never know, some day your doctor may advice you for medical reasons and that day this little trick would help.

For once, disassociate fasting with religion and try it. Its amazing.

AIB Knockout – Right ya Wrong

Few weeks ago AIB Knockout rocked the Indian media. Everyone had their opinion – some dubbed it abusive, some thought it was a new genre is comedy.

If you have not seen the video, then check it here :

So called “fundamentalist” were offended by the language, content of it. Naturally, it was banned. So called “liberals” termed it as curbing the freedom of speech.

I saw the video. First of all, it was damn funny. I will not really call it creative, but it was a different kind of humour. It was more like our “ragging” sessions in college. Hell ya – it was so much fun abusing everyone.

However, there is a bitter side to it. Probably it should not be on Youtube.

Consider this : You are travelling in a public transport along with some other friends / colleagues . One of your friend forwards you an adult (read: Madarc**d, Behenc**d etc.) joke on your mobile. Market mein naya aaya hai and you want to share it – with those who are right now with you. How would you share it:

  1. Forward it to the friends via What’s app / SMS / Email whatever.
  2. Read it slowly ensuring that fellow passengers don’t hear it
  3. Read it loudly to ensure that all passengers hear it and enjoy it

I would do (1) or (2). Definitely not (3). My guess is no body in their sane mind would do (3).

That’s the problem with AIB Knock-out video on Youtube. Its public domain. So how do we really share this super hilarious video ? Just like you would share your adult jokes.

Ideally – AIB guys should have posted it on their personal website. On youtube there should be a censored version of it. More like a teaser. And those who are interested to watch the full video should be requested to sign up and give consent (in the form on End user agreement) that they have no right to complain about this video in any manner.

Thus, the video remains private, and legally AIB could have indemnified themselves by taking the consent in the form of EULA before showing the video.

आप कट लिये

ये क्या हाल है मेरे देश का
ये किस राह जा रह  देश मेरा

भ्रष्टाचार से लड़ाई है, ख्वाइश है इन्साफ़  की
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ठोकर मारो ऐसा ज्ञान , हमे चाहिये नारी का सम्मान

आप का ही भरोसा था , आप को हम दिल दिये
इससे पेहले कि हमे होश आता , उसके पेहले ही आप कट लिये