Category Archives: blog

YouTube is changing the way we learn

Do you know how to make cheese? Do you know how to hang dry wall? Do you know how to move a pool table? How about your favorite curry?

I didn’t but Now I do. Not only do I know how to do these things, but I know multiple ways of doing each of these things and the pro’s and con’s of each method. I’ve also been empowered to take the best of each technique and come up with my own. All thanks for YouTube.

When ever I needed to do something that I did not know, I turned to the Internet. I read tutorials about the topic in question, and in the recent past watched online video tutorials and learned everything about it. I am never happy with just reading one article or just watching one tutorial. I usually read multiple articles and watch multiple video’s on the same thing by different people. This allows me to learn from many teachers. Learn each ones techniques, and come up with my own best of all worlds way of doing it.

I was doing this without really realizing what I was doing until I came across one particular video of cheese being made in a remote location in Europe (I think) http://youtu.be/I4LNS7F_-DM. This was during my quest to learn how to make the perfect cheese. While watching the lady made cheese the way she was taught and using a method that was probably handed down from generation to generation. There may be a easier/better way to make this cheese but that knowledge is not easily accessible to her, but because I have access to a resource such as YouTube, I can learn from multiple people and find the best way to make this cheese. Thats when I realized how empowered resources like YouTube has made me. How it has changed the way we learn and how accessible it has made knowledge to us. Video is a much more effective learning medium than a plain text article (like this blog post :) )

It is the same way with skilled trades. The traditional way is to apprentice with a master of the trade. Learn his/her ways and carry out the tradition. There is “one way” that you learn to do something and you continue doing it that way even if there is a better way of doing it because that is all you know; Unless your experiment on your own. This is now changing rapidly.

I would love to hear how you have noticed you life changed by online resources of this nature.

I’ve been given a second chance at life

Most people get only one chance to live. I’ve been blessed. I got two and I’m on my second round right now. It is an interesting story and one worth writing about. Many people get a second chance at life when they suffer a heart attack and survive. In my case I dodged a bullet.

I was feeling like cooking this past weekend, so I invited my friend J who has been craving Sri Lankan food over for dinner started making some pol roti, kiri bath, pol sambol, lunu miris, some parripu and beef curry. I digress, but the food actually came out really well :-) He came over and we were chit chatting for a bit before sitting down to eat.

Bullet Hole 1: Where the bullet entered my apartmentA little while through dinner I got up to change the CD on the stereo and stood by the system and was chatting to him before heading back to the table and sitting down to eat. About 30 seconds or so after I sat down we both heard a loud bang and as I turned around saw a cloud of smoke and dust in my living room. My first thought was that my stereo had blown, but wait; I can still hear my music. I turned my head and noticed a hole in my living room wall that separated my apartment from my neighbor. That’s when it dawned on me that what I had heard was a gun shot. Just 30 seconds before I had been standing exactly in front of where the hole now was. 30 seconds earlier and my brains would have been splattered all over my living room.Bullet hole 2: Where the shrapnel entered the opposite wall in my living room

J and I immediately hit the floor, Sri Lankan instincts kicking in and called 911. Needless to say about 10 minutes later the cops came, and went to investigate what had next door as the shot had clearly come from the adjoining apartment.

We heard a lot of shouting and the sound of hand cuffs being clicked on someone and finally the cops came back and filled us in on what had happened. My overly smart neighbor was playing/cleaning his rifle (which was not registered) and forgot to check if it was loaded. It was loaded and so it went off, the bullet went through our adjoining wall, missed my head by 30 seconds fragmented, hit the opposite wall, went through the opposite wall into my bedroom and the police found shrapnel embedded in the opposite wall in my bedroom.

Bullet Hole 3: where some of the shrapnel existed the second wall into my bedroomApparently my neighbor had tried to stuff the bullet hole on his side with creme cheese???

He was arrested and the gun was taken into custody. Since no one was hurt, all they can really put on him is recklessness and possession of an unregistered weapon, which is nothing at all really. Life goes on, I guess.

The irony in this and what makes the whole incident humorous is that 23 years growing up in Sri Lanka, survived a bunch of years in New York and the closest I come to getting shot at is in Palo Alto, California!

In the meanwhile I am happy I am still alive.

Under the knife

A new year has dawned, a time to start out with the right foot forward and head in the right direction. Discard the old and start on the new, etc etc… I personally don’t see why you have to wait till the new years to right a wrong or to start something you want to do, but to each their own.

Now that I’ve said that let’s see what I have planned for 2008 J. I think my current blog theme is going to go under the knife. I’m going to move away from the dreaded 800px of yester decade and adopt a more modern, wide screen friendly 1024px wide layout more suited to yesteryear. Sorry I’m still not ready for variable width for my blog. I don’t think I have enough content to pull that off. I’m also going to move to a 3 column layout. The biggest change yet?, yes there is another even more drastic change to come. I’m getting rid of the dark colors and coming in with some clean lines and lighter, brighter colors. Well maybe not so light but definitely much brighter. I’m still skinning it in Photoshop but I hope to launch it soon.

Let’s see, I’m also putting my eating habits under the knife. Going to try eat healthy and try get in shape.

We all know how that one turns out but I am serious about it this time and I hope it will actually work out this time around. Cheers to that folks!

Blogger and why I don’t like their blog platform

To help me in the bold statement I have made here, let me step back and define what a blog means to me. A blog is a place where you can express your thoughts in a medium where others can read and leave feedback if they wish to. An arena for discussion and interaction so to speak. There are services that allow your blog to only be available to a select community and or group of friends, like the yahoo 360 and myspace blog components. In this case only selected people are able to see your blog, this is perfectly O.K. to me.

Now, back to blogger and why I don’t care to much for them. A blog using their service is available to be read by everyone, but not everyone can leave comments. There are many blogger based blogs out there including some very interesting ones on Kottu (www.kottu.org) that I like very much and would love to leave comments on, but alas cannot. You have to sign into your google account to leave a comment. This is very frustrating to me. I have not used blogger so I don’t know if it’s a setting that you can adjust or not, but every blogger based blog I’ve visited has been like this. This was not always the case, I remember that at one time you were able to leave a comment after proving you were a human by providing a name and email. Maybe I’m confused and that was never the case?

Either way, I think it’s extremely ineffective to have a blog and then cut out a whole segment of your readers from interacting with your blog by them not being able to leave comments. If you have a blogger based blog let me know what you think about this and please do check if there is a way in your control/admin section where you can allow readers to leave comments without having to log into a google account.

The move – Part 1

Date: September 5th 2007

We were frantically approaching our self imposed deadline to leave. By 4.00 pm the car was supposed to be packed up, the apartment empty and the keys handed over to the Super. It is now 3.45 pm, the apartment still needs its final cleaning. I still have a few pieces of furniture and my car is far from being packed. I even have a few boxed left that needs to be run down to FedEx for shipment to its new home in California.

There was no way we would leave tonight, at least not on this planet with a 24 hour day. We would have to postpone out departure time and leave tomorrow early morning. In the grand scheme of things this is not such a big problem, but we had made prior plans to stay the night with a friend of mine in Philadelphia. She had already planned the dinner menu a week ago. She was going to start cooking dinner in a bit. She was NOT going to be happy.

There was no way out of it, I made the call and broke the news to her. As predicted she was not very happy, but was understanding of our situation. I got off the phone and we got back to cleaning and clearing and packing last minute items in boxes. That night we worked till 3 in the morning before we were exhausted to the bone and crashed on the mattress we left in the apartment for that exact purpose.

As the new days rays of light streamed though the now naked windows of my living room, we pried our eyes open and mentally prepared ourselves to the day ahead. We still had a boat load of tasks to complete before leaving. I ran some last minute FedEx trips, while Ashley made sure the apartment was clean. She did an awesome job of mopped and swept the floors, cleaned out the kitchen and some final garbage runs. I never thought handing over your apartment would be so hard, but I did not want my landlord making any excuses for not giving me back my security deposit. Long story short we managed to get the place spick and span, some lucky bugger got some chairs, a lamp, and my bicycle for free as I ended up leaving it on the curb. Finished packing my car and we were finally on our way.

Good bye 100 Central Ave. You have been good to me. I have had many a party here. Many people have stayed crashed with me here, and you’ve kept me happy for close to 3 years. Fare thee well and wish that I find a place as homely in the sunny state of California.

Grand plans and what not….

Ohh the power of the mind and its ability to plan the most grandiose of plans. The disconnect comes in the implementation of these plans. This last month was indeed an interesting one. I moved from the east coast to the west coast. Having packed up my entire new jersey apartment, and shipping most of it to California, I was all ready to move myself. A road trip it was. I would drive to California. After all its only 4000 odd miles. The grand plan was to update my blog with tales of my travels realtime. I had internet access on my phone, my laptop and everything all set to go. Alas, spotty internet access and even worse cellular coverage from T-Mobile made this plan crumble to the ground.

The good thing is that I did arrive safe and sound. On to plan B. Risk mitigation, always have a backup plan. Now that I’ve reached here and the trip is concluded, I will go back in time and write stories of my travels. See, that was not that hard.

So please keep tuned for my tales for the bored and jobless… You can also subscribe to my RSS feed (shame on you if you haven’t done so already :) ) and keep up to date with my travels.

Cheers and happy reading!