Anandabazar in Unicode

Anandabazar Patrika is Bengali’s most favorite daily newspaper. However, until recently reading Anandabazaar Patrika online was severely restricted due the technology it used to render the Bangla fonts. Only Internet Explorer supported the technology, but that too crashed frequently. But recently Anandabazar is available in Unicode and can be enjoyed in any Unicode compliant browser. Just click on the following link:

http://anandabazar-unicode.appspot.com/proxy

Facebook – Not a Place to Hide Your Face

Mark Zuckerberg of FacebookTime magazine chose Mark Zuckerberg as the 2010 person of the year. A film on the life of Mark Zuckerberg is a strong contender for Oscars next February. He is twenty six years old and is worth 7 billion dollars. He drives an Acura TSX and rents a house. And he is the creator of the phenomenon called “Facebook”.

Yes, Facebook is no longer a website, it is a phenomenon. Social networking sites are nothing new. People on the internet started to commune together since the early days through bulletin boards, news groups etc., long before MySpace, LinkedIn, Orkut and Facebook came into existence.  Newsgroups were there (remember soc.cult.etc.etc?) even before web browsers and web servers were invented. People have always tried to use the internet to connect and to share. Social networking sites like Facebook has given the people the ideal vehicle to connect and share. And of all the social networking sites, Facebook has become the most popular platform primarily because of its ability to evolve continuously.  People have been able to connect with their friends after ages, they share their thoughts, their likes and dislikes, their photos and memories. It allows many to get their moments of fame and recognition from their friends and peers that was never possible before.  It has become such a powerful attraction to many that some psychiatrists are considering Facebook addition as a diagnosable ailment. Continue reading

Sahitya O Alochona : Barnomoy Jibanananda

Sahitya O Alochana will be held on Friday, February 19, 2010, 8.00pm at Ananda Mandir. Topic for this session is “Barnomay Jibananda” featuring a discussion on Jibananda Das’s works including, poem, short stories, fictions, etc. Ms. Dhriti Bagchi will be the discussion leader for this session. Active participation from the attendees in the discussion including reading of Jibabananda’s poetry or prose is highly encouraged.

Please also note that the topics for the next two sessions (March and April) will likely be the following:

1) Jhumpa Lahiri’s work – discussion leader (To Be Declared)
2) Bengali Drama in North America – discussion leader Sudipta Bhawmik

Loss of a Friend

Three months ago, when I lost my mother, I received the following email from a close friend:

Gayatri GamarshTonight at the Sahitya O Alochana meeting I heard the very sad news of your mother’s passing away.
I offer my heart-felt condolences to you. I have suffered some losses in my own life and I know first hand the sorrow of having to say good bye to a loved one. I also know that during this time and all through your life, you’ll know that she is with you and watching over you, because you can feel her presence in your heart.
I feel deeply moved by this change from life to after-life that your mom has gone through and I felt compelled to tell you that she is still with you and will always be, just as I feel that my son is always with me, no matter where I am.
With my love and blessings to you and your family

The email was from Gayatri Gamarsh (who allowed me to call her as Gayatri-di) and it really helped me cope with my pain. Little did I know that three months later, Gayatri-di herself will move on to “her after-life” leaving us behind mourning her loss.

I came to know Gayatri-di mainly through her literary works and her love for anything artistic.  She used to love coming to our plays and appreciated them very much. Several times she has written about our plays in Anandasambad and other magazines. Her appreciation and encouragement meant a lot to me and my team mates.   It is for people like Gayatri-di that makes all the hard work in writing and staging a play worth it.

In September, she had participated in a workshop on creative Bengali writing conducted by Sunil Gangopadhyay. She had rescheduled her heart surgery just to attend this workshop online. That was the last time I had heard her voice on the phone.  Later, after her surgery, she had sent me an email asking for an article or cartoon for the “Sambad Bichitra” English section. But I never had the chance to hand it to her.

As mentioned by Gayatri-di in her email, I’ll believe that she is always with us and will be watching any play we put up or read any article I write or any cartoon I draw.

Goodbye Gayatri-di and thank you for all your encouragement and blessings, for those will be my source of inspiration for whatever I do in the future.

The Elusive Alexa Rank and How to Improve It

Alexa ranking is now the defacto standard for determining web popularity – the less the rank number the higher is your popularity. For example Google has the highest rank – 1. Most online advertisers use Alexa rank as the key metric to decide whether to spend their precious advertising dollars on a site.

However, the way Alexa computes a sites rank is  by measring how many visitors are viewing your site using a browser that has an Alexa tool bar installed. In other words, if a visitor do not have the Alexa tool bar installed, that visit does not count at all. Well, apparently there are are other variables used in computing the rank, but most webmasters and SEO pundits agree that the Alexa tool bar is the key instrumentation used in computing this elusive number.

One of the best ways of improving a web sites Alexa rank is to convince your visitors to download and install the Alexa tool bar (quite an unobtrusive element though) on their browser.  So if you are reading this now, download and install the toolbar and help improve my rank. However, if you are using one of the less popular web browsers like Google Chrome, then you (and me) are out of luck.

The other less effective ways are things like, installing Alexa widgets on your site, increasing the number of incoming links, use techniques like posting on Asian forums (apparently Alexa is more popular in Asia) etc. Google the term “how to improve Alexa rank” and you’ll find tons of advice.

But I think the only way to make it work for you is to get tons of traffic to your site.

Sahitya O Alochana @ Ananda Mandir

Ananda Mandir is starting a regular Sahitya O Alochana - Meeting of literary readings and discussionswith a meeting this Friday, 22 August 2008, at 8:30 PM.

The aim is to have a quasi-monthly meeting of literary readings and discussions, occasionally interspersed with lectures on religion or philosophy. The first meeting will focus on how to get the effort organized, but we will also have invited speakers from our community speaking on selected topics. Anyone interested is welcome to attend.