“Commenting for better reach”

I am writing from a place of privilege, providence, and a pedestal of good fortune but I just feel sad when I open LinkedIn nowadays. The feed is full of people writing about their untimely exit from their jobs due to the ongoing pandemic. I am not an expert to give any advice to people who were working till March/April but not working anymore. The times are unprecedented and until we get a fully functional vaccine, chances of normalcy are bleak. So, we must keep trying, is all I can say.

However, I do have a word or two for Freshers who had job offers but they haven’t been called to report yet, or even if they hadn’t, they were ready to enter the professional arena this year but things have gone upside down, for no fault of their own. I do have empathy with them as I was in the same boat around 2008. I don’t want to mince words but the reality is simple: this time is worse than that time. I have stated this earlier on this blog too that I had 2 Job Offers when I graduated as a Computer Science Engineer. Thanks to the 2008 recession which did all it could to crush my confidence, I had to wait 21 months to get a proper job I preferred. Again being lucky, I got back the job offer in March 2010 from the same company which had sent me a regret letter before imploding due to a financial crisis of their own in early 2009.

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Inbox Zero

Are you suffering from Anxiety because of tonnes of unread emails clogging your inbox?

Do you spend all your day searching for emails, digging relevant information, and still end up with 10205482342 unread counts in your inbox?

Has the bug of productivity hacks bitten you and you want to organize things better? It also could be a mild case of OCD.

Then you are at the right place kids! Today we shall tell you about the Magical World of…

<dramatic pause for effect>

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Dog Reading a book about Dogs

Newsletters I Follow AND YOU CAN TOO

In times when our attention span is getting shorter and shorter, I fool myself by indulging in reading Newsletters once in a while which provides insight, knowledge, entertainment, and a belief that not all is going down the drain even if it appears so.

I don’t listen to podcasts much because I am not traveling on a bus (I am aatmnirbhar) or working out (are you???) and after really trying to listen to a bunch of them, the only podcasts I could tolerate were interviews types like Tim Ferris’s. I think I am more of a video essay person (like Kurzgesagt or Nerdwriter or Vox, etc.) and I like to read more than listen.

So like a literate person would do (i.e. share good knowledge), here’s a list of Newsletters I find interesting. This is like a blog roll but to make it more convenient, it comes to your inbox instead of you going anywhere else. You can also subscribe if you want as they are free.

  • Seth Godin – Blogging Daily since when the Internet started I think. Just read to know.
  • A Learning a Day (Rohan Rajiv) – Another daily one! Short and sometimes not so short tidbits about positive uplifting things which one wouldn’t mind at all
  • James Clear – 3 – 2 – 1 – From the author of Atomic Habits, 3 ideas, 2 quotes, 1 question. Easy peasy to make a habit!
  • Mind F*ck Monday – From the author of The Subtle Art of not giving a F*ck, newsletter which reads more like someone’s talking to you!
  • Visual Wisdom (Deepu Asok) – Ideas that are simple, yet effective, presented either visually or through Tweets.
  • Ryan Holiday – Again, life advice as if freshly brewed coffee on a calm and cozy afternoon.
  • Shu Omi – Good content collated over the Internet presented to you to make your day better.
  • New Space India – Some insights on what’s happening in Space’s Space in India.
  • The India Uncut – More popular as a podcast and just recently started (again) as a blog, this is new.

Some defunct Newsletters but they are still a good read:

Ok, I don’t really hate podcasts at all (I might have come off harsh on them above. <3 only). Here are some of some people I know. And once I regularly follow them, maybe podcasts would become my thing too. Check them out and if they row your boat, jump on to the bandwagon (which should be a boat):

  • Haal Chaal Theek Thaak Hai – Nuanced + Fun discussion about Indian Pop culture. Not Millenial Pop Culture but the actual culture which matters.
  • Talk Your Way Up – Podcast about speaking better and talking your way up. The name also suggests the same! It is going really good,
  • On the go Gyaan – Very new podcast by Toastmasters folks (like the above one) so all the best to them!

Featured Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

P.S.: You can subscribe to my blog too, only takes a kidney at a time to read.

Do’s and Dont’s for Jokes in these times

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

According to South Park, it is okay to joke about anything after 22.3 years. But this was said by Eric Theodore Cartman in 2005. That time we didn’t have Social Media’s power which we have now. So, as per me, adjusted to inflation, the rate of social media growth, the ease of mobile phones, the handiness of the free time due to WFH, and a random constant number 3.14, the world nowadays can make a joke about anything which is 22.3 minutes old.

So there we had it. As soon as the news of disease COVID-19 caused by Virus SARS-CoV-2 came into being, it didn’t take long for the jokes to come. The first one I remember is that Indians can’t get it as we are the immune-st bunch of people because we used to clean the cricket ball, freshly taken out from the dirtiest of drains, by just bouncing it thrice and moving on. Then you would have seen the memes about more babies getting born after the quarantine and they would be called the Coronials.

The funniest part of the jokes is that as long it doesn’t happen to you, they all sound really chuckle-worthy. But as soon as something is directed at you or happens to your near & dear ones, it becomes a no-go zone for you, no matter who you are.

Therefore, I took the liberty out of the thin air and wrote some Do’s and Don’t about joking about the Corona Virus.

The Do’s & the Don’ts

  • Pundemics are okay, the Pandemics aren’t.
  • Racist jokes should be avoided. The maximum you can say about China is this: Nowadays, everything is Made in China.
  • Jokes about Panic buying should be encouraged. People who are not panic buying are getting panicked by others panic buying because now non-panicky folks fear that if they don’t panic now, the already panicked fellows will buy everything and there will be nothing left apart from having a panic.
  • Following types of jokes should be totally disbarred:

Knock Knock

Who’s there?

It’s WHO.

Who WHO?

Roses are Red, Violets are blue… You travelled abroad? We need to Quarantine you.

Nobody
  • Jokes about Flattening the Curve are fine. But you need to flatten your belly curve too, Sir.
  • Social Distancing jokes are fine, as long as you don’t irk people permanently that they diss you and keep a distance of 10 feet from you forever. (This is the worst of them all, I Know)
  • Jokes about Work From Home are fine but I want to write another blog post so I cannot pour all my creativity here.

I hope you all are following the protocol shared above as well as staying safe, aloof and giving cold vibes to everyone like it’s a Monday morning.

Jokes are what make us human. Again, jokes dry up when someone we know gets affected. Not everyone is equipped to crack jokes and not everyone is sane enough to take them. Till then, ciao? No no… sayonara… no that is also not safe and also the wrong country.

Namaste. (Can be used as a greeting as well as a goodbye, right!)

Gorilla Pod and Mobile Camera

Toastmasters ACB Speak to Inform 2 : Clicking Better

Speak to Inform Project 2: Resources for Informing

The following is my speech for the Project 2 of Speak to Inform Advanced Communication Manual. I spoke about a topic which I have interest in; Photography.

[Opening]

Fellow Toastmasters and welcomed guests, a very good afternoon to one and all!

Show of hands please, how many of you take Photographs regularly?

Almost everyone, right?

Do you use your Mobile Phone Camera?

Or a Point and Shoot one?

Or you use your DSLR?

So, the overall consensus is that, obviously, almost everyone takes photographs. Some use properly dedicated cameras while most others use their phones. Everyone nowadays knows how to click and shoot. There are billions of photos taken daily. There are millions of photos shared on Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, Whatsapp, etc daily.

We all take Photographs daily. But not all of us are called as Photographers. Professional or Hobbyist. Today, I am going to share with you, some composition guidelines, tips, and tricks which you can use to improve your photography. These are some basic rule of thumbs, which can help you become better photographers, than just ordinary-photo-clickers.

Disclaimer: I am not a Professional or Commercial Photographer myself, but I have been learning this art for a long time now and this is just me sharing some of that learning with you.

[Body]

Slide 4: 3 Guidelines for Better Composition

I am going to discuss the 3 most common guidelines for better composition. Can anyone tell what Composition means? CoThe compositions the placement of objects and subjects in your photograph. This is basically how the elements in your photos have been placed. So, the 3 most common composition guidelines are:

  1. The Rule of Thirds
  2. Leading Lines
  3. Less is More

I will start with the Rule of Thirds

Slide 5: The Rule of Thirds

For this, I would request you all, to take out your phone and open your camera. Can you see a grid there? That grid divides the viewfinder into 9 parts.

The Rule of Thirds states that if your subject is placed at one of the intersections of these grids, that composition would look better than those in which subject is placed without any thought. Scientifically, this kind of composition conforms to the Golden Ratio. You might have seen this curve before. Without going into this too much, I would just say that this curve or ratio pleases the eyes.

This would mean is that when your subject is placed at the intersection, it would give the photograph much more dynamism and a professional look.

I will share a couple of examples to depict this.

Slide 6: Sweet Farm

Slide 7: Sweet Farm with Grid

Slide 8: Busy Bee
Slide 9: Busy Bee with Grid
If you noticed, here the subject was placed at the intersections that made the photograph appear slightly better.

Now, we will understand the second guideline i.e. Leading Lines

Slide 10: Leading Lines
‘Leading Lines’ is another guideline, which you may consider while shooting a photo. It helps the viewer to scan your image from a point to a point. It also gives us a sense of depth, size and, distance. I will again show you some examples.

Slide 11: Hampi Temple
Slide 12: Hampi Temple with leading lines shown
Slide 13: VV Puram Street
Slide 14: VV Puram Street with leading lines shown
Now, the third guideline, Less is More

Slide 15: Less is more
When we want to click, we want to cover as much as possible. We worry about getting all the details of the scene onto our image. However, sometimes the opposite might make sense. Sometimes, having a minimal number of objects in the image can give it a better look. Let me share some examples for this.

Slide 16: The Moon
Slide 17: Birds on a wire
There is a sense of calmness and serenity in these pics. It still depicts a lot, by depicting very less. If we can try minimalism in our photography by giving some white space, that can help us to compose our shots better.

[Conclusion]

Slide 18: Break the rules

I have just talked about Rules. But, the actual rule of Photography is that there are no rules. There are just guidelines. For creativity, we are often encouraged to break the rules. So, if you ignore the above 3 guidelines, you can still create some good compositions. Some more examples for you.

Slide 19: Attack on Hampi (A combination of Rule of Thirds and Minimalism)

Slide 20: Choose a Side (A subject which is totally centered in the frame)
Slide 21: Buy some Balloons (With colors selectively removed)

Slide 22: Another Balloons seller (It just tells a story)
You can try your own styles and bring the best photographer out of yourself. Always remember, it is not the tool which is used to click your photos, but it you who is more important.

Happy Photography!

Back to Toastmaster!

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How to start a Blog?

I had started blogging in January of 2007. That time, my sole intent was to earn money. So, I quickly set up a Google Adsense account and started putting ad banners of all sizes on my blog. Initially, there were more banners than blog posts. During those days, even the Earnings Per Click (EPC) was good. I started writing more and shared the blog link with all my friends. I even went on and set the Home Page of the default browsers in my engineering college to my blog. That time, I hadn’t created a Facebook or a Twitter account. Probably, no one I knew had. So, the only way to share the blog links to get more readership was to go to other blogs, comment there and hope to get a reply. If you were lucky and your comment made sense, people would click on your profile which would then lead them to your blog eventually. And guess what, people were less cynical those days. Most of the bloggers of that time connected with each other. Commenting and regularly sharing new links among each other had become common. By 2008, the camaraderie grew and joint-blogs started. Bloggers started networking and regular meetups were organized. By then, I realized that I liked writing. I realized that putting thoughts on a blog opened up many new avenues in the mind which I didn’t know existed. I made many friends that way as well. (Also, I never was able to reach the minimum 100$ mark which is needed for Google to release the payment. So, it means I haven’t earned anything yet from my text-blogs).

So, I continued with blogging without worrying about money, although not very regularly. But I kept on publishing some content here and there even when most of the bloggers I knew gave up and switched to usual social media microblogging.

Now, I am proud to say that I am still continuing. Writing and sharing means a lot. It makes one minutely better than those who don’t. Not everyone can write. Not everyone who can write is brave enough to share. So if you are writing and sharing, it adds a bit of flair to your persona. Also, this is always a give and take relationship. To write more, you have to also read more. Reading other blogs can give you as good an insight as a good book will.

As I have declared that I am going to blog regularly this year, I have already started to write daily since last 2 weeks. At least 6 people I know, have shared their intentions of starting blogs of their own. The main aim of this very post is that I want to help those who want to blog, but either doesn’t know how to blog or need a push to blog.

Here are some pointers which would help you:

Make Writing Your Passion

Don’t worry about the readership or money.  First, start a blog and write.

Make an Account, NOW

To start a blog, you can make an account on WordPress.com or Medium.com. These 2 are the most popular platforms nowadays. You can use tumblr.com or blogspot.com as well. Personally, I would suggest Medium because it is also a great way to start reading more.

Start Writing

What to write? It could range from your movie reviews to your travel experience, or something you know which you want to share with others, or some quote which you liked, or your opinion about a certain issue. You can write about your cat or you can write about how to file Income Tax Returns. One thing I know and have experienced is that writing can help you understand yourself better. By writing, you don’t react, you respond.

Where can I help?

For your and anyone new who wants to write, sake, I have started a New Publication on Medium.com. On that, I would encourage everyone who is new to join. By doing so, we will create a small community of new bloggers. Whenever you think you have matured enough as a blogger, or have reached a threshold of say 10 posts, you are free to leave the community and carry on with your posts elsewhere. No hard feelings.

We can figure out moderation rules and stuff later. I just encourage you to jump in and start writing. Please drop a mail to mail@abhinavbhatt.com once you have set up your blog.

Mutual Benefits

If we can start this community with even 5 people, your 1st blog will already have 5 new readers. We can encourage each other to write more. You encourage me. I will keep a check on your progress. What say?

For the above point, the link to the publication is this: https://medium.com/kycnow

Kickstart Your Creativity Now — A Blogging Space for New Creators

Mail me / ping me / talk to me and start with your first blog. Share the link with me and I can add you as a Writer on KYCnow. You don’t need to link your aadhar to be a writer, I promise even if the name is misleading. 🙂

Recommended Reading

Toastmasters Speak to Inform Speech 1 : A Bit about Bitcoins

I tried to give a very quick and high level layman understandable speech about Bitcoins for my Advance Speech Speak to Inform Project 1. Some people got it, some who hadn’t heard much about it, didn’t get as much as I expected. Nevertheless, here’s the script:

Designed by Freepik

Title: Money, money, money, it’s so funny, in the rich man’s world… (ABBA 1976)

[Opening]

Toastmasters and Guests, Good Afternoon!

Do you remember that last year, on the evening on November 8th, a man appeared on TV at 8 PM. And said,

“Bhaiyo aur behano…”

This one man talked, and left us mortals shocked,

and whatever money we had kept locked, was supposed to be getting blocked.

PM Modi had just announced De-Mo.

You all remember that day, right?

What if, I tell you that there’s a way, in which you can keep all your monies safe and secure, encrypted and out of reach of any government or bank?

Today I will tell you about 2 things: Bitcoins and Blockchains.

Don’t worry, these terms Bitcoins, Cryptocurrencies and Block Chains are not as dangerous as they sound. To understand these is like understanding Money? Easy, right?

So first.. Tell me, What do you understand by money? Any words which come to your mind?

Money is nothing but another name for Worth or Value. When you say I have Rs. 100, that means, the bank recognizes that this paper is worth Rs.100.

Thus, when I give someone any money, how do we know that the Transaction has taken place? We have eyewitnesses here, right! Or officially, we have Bank as the 3rd party which verifies all this.

So, today I am going to tell you about a way,  a way in which there is no bank involved as third party.

You might or might not have heard about Cryptocurrencies but Bitcoins is the most popular as of date. Let me tell you that price of 1 BTC has crossed 7 thousands US Dollars recently. In 2011, it was a mere 2 Dollars.

[Body]

I will explain the concept of Bitcoin in 2 steps.

  1. First, what is a Bit-Coin?
  2. Second, what is a block-chain?

So what exactly is a Bit-Coin? Where did it come from? How does it look?

Let me start by giving a very short history of Bitcoin.

On August 18th, the URL bitcoin.org was registered. Few days later, Lehmann Brothers filed for bankruptcy on September 15, 2008. Coincidence?

A person named Satoshi Nakamoto, whose real identity is, till date, unknown, came up with a White Paper in 2009 and he explained the basic concept of Bitcoin.

The concept goes like this:

In most simple terms, Bitcoin, is nothing but a currency. You can buy or sell thing by paying Bitcoins as tender. Like we store our physical money in our wallets, same way we store our digital money in digital wallets. Like Paytm or Airtel Money, Bitcoins are stored in Digital Wallets too.

A Bitcoin Digital Wallet is nothing but a string of 26-35 alphanumeric characters. The part which makes Bitcoin wallet different from your Paytm wallet is that:

  1. Paytm wallet stores Rupees, Bitcoin Wallet stores Bitcoins.
  2. Paytm knows your email ID or even KYC details. Bitcoin Wallet stores nothing else than the Bitcoins you have.

Now, the fun part, when you send some money from your Bitcoin Address to someone else’s Bitcoin address, the wallets gets updated digitally and anonymously. There’s no Bank in between to verify this. Like there’s a finite amount of Gold on Earth. Same way, there’s a finite number of Bitcoins present in the system. 21 million bitcoins to be exact. Not one less, not one more.

Fun Trivia: In 2015, Satoshi Nakamoto was nominated for a Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, but of course, he didn’t win because nobody knows who he is. Also, Satoshi has probable 1 Million BTC himself. Right now, there are 15.6 million bitcoin in circulation .

Coming back to Bitcoin wallets. So, say I transferred 1 BTC to you. My wallet will have 1 less BTC than previously, and yours will have +1. So, how do we verify this has happened?

To verify that you have a certain amount of money with you, the Bank maintains a Statement which is nothing but a Ledger.

Like Bank, the one 3rd party maintains our account, Bitcoin ledger is owned by everyone in the BTC system. That means, each transaction gets transferred and written to everyone who is part of this system. So, this irreversible, writing of ledger is, in simplistic terms again, is called a Blockchain.

And what exactly is a Blockchain?

So, block-chain is the universally available ledger which has the list of all the transactions happening with bitcoins. It is irreversible so once the transaction is done, it is done. People who maintain these block-chains integrity, are rewarded bitcoins, hence they have to maintain same Blockchain copies everywhere there by making it almost impossible to fake.

[Conclusion]

So, how popular this bitcoin thingy is actually? Is it just a concept or is it something which is very much present in real life. Turns out, it is. Many countries have deemed it legal. Some countries are even accepting it as a mode of payment for their Visas. Many websites also accept it. Though, some websites, which have illegal stuff being sold, also accept it. And this makes it slightly in the grey area. For example, a drug selling website Silkroad was accepting it. As it is totally anonymous, it worked really well there. But that lead to it being banned in US. Eventually after arresting people and banning Silk Road, it was legalized again. Also, accepting Bitcoins is legal in India.

November 8 will come and go. Paper currency may come and go. Bitcoins are here to stay. They will evolve into something in future, we will be more comfortable with. Remember the name Ethereum. All revolutionary things take time to adjust. So will be this currency.

Sources: