Monday, April 30, 2007

Freeway community

Have you ever been in a situation when you are cruising on the freeway, and a 18-wheeler is trying to get into your lane? The truck is blinking its turn signal and waiting for you to pass. You notice that you are so close to his tail that you might as well let him get in front of you. So, you flash your headlights, and he glides into your lane. Once he is settled, he blinks his rear running lights to signal his appreciation.

Even though I am quite an aggressive driver on the road, I help out truckers all the time. I don't know why, but I always get a kick out of it when they say "thanks". And, if someone does not thank me, I curse under my breath and move on. I always anxiously look for the signal from the truck. I feel good when I see it. Maybe, that is why I do this. To feel good.

This whole short term shorthand communication between me and the truck somehow helps me to connect (even for a brief moment) with another person on the freeway. There is a sort of community on the freeway. CB radios used to enable this in the by gone days. Nowadays, nobody uses CBs but for truckers. Maybe, not even truckers use them.

Maybe, one day we will have some kind of (bar code?) readers on all cars. They will be able to read the adjacent cars' code and automatically connect to them. This will allow the freeway community to communicate as well as share things. Push a button and you will be talking to the driver in the car adjacent to you. You may be able to share a play list of songs from a fellow traveler. Your car may be able to access the auto analytics of the car in front of you and determine that the car is slowing down or even breaking down. This will help in avoiding accidents. Cops will be able to connect to a car's computer and instruct it to stop the car, avoiding the the whole chase scene.

Of course, the flip side of this is that we don't need to make our cars fancier. With all the global warming and the gas guzzlers, who needs to add more power hungry gizmos. We just need the basic mini car that runs on solar power.

We just have to wait and see what happens..

Paid services come with strings attached!!

Reading this blog by Don Dodge titled Free services come with strings attached, I am reminded of my struggle to get my web pages deleted from a TW RoadRunner server. I had an account with RoadRunner several years ago. Since they offered disk space for paying customers, I created and hosted my web site on their server. Once I moved out of Ohio, I cancelled my account with TW RoadRunner, and assumed (stupid me) that they would purge the accounts and web pages of expired/unpaid/cancelled/terminated accounts.

Boy, was I wrong. My web pages are still around on their server even after two years!!

Some of you might be saying "Hey, that's free web hosting for life. What are you crying about?"

Unfortunately, you cannot modify the pages, and you no longer have control over them. And, worst of all, it is a pain (so far) to get them to remove your pages. Their "tech support" doesn't seem to know how to purge web pages and accounts!

The only reason I want to get rid of my old pages is that several links on the page are stale, and I have pictures of "Our Home" which I no longer own. In order to be fair to the current owner, I cannot even modify the title to "Our former home".

This is a first hand lesson that once you post something on the Internet (even if it is on your own server) it gets a life of its own, and there is no way of bringing it back into the bottle.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Pumping on a swing - how to teach

Some kids learn how to pump on a swing at an early age, while some take a while. My daughter fell in the latter category. Just a few days ago I noticed someone at the local park trying to teach a child to pump on a swing. That is when I noticed how difficult it can be to teach it, especially if the child is not very co-operative. Then I remembered how I taught my daughter to pump.

Everyone who swings knows that you need to straighten your legs out on the forward motion, and bend your legs (and bunch up) on the way backwards. It is quite difficult to teach this to some kids. After several attempts at teaching, as well as demonstrations, I came up with a technique of encouraging the child to learn the motions of pumping without thinking about it. Here is how.

Pus the child on the swing a couple times and build momentum. Once that is done, walk to the front and face the child. Stand back and hold your hand up such that the kid's legs almost touch it (3" away) at the end of the forward stroke. Now, encourage the kid to lean back (on the forward stroke only) and try to touch your hand with her legs. And, obviously, tell the kid to sit up on the backward stroke. This trick did it for my daughter.

The key here is, they have a target to shoot for, and they will become sensitive to their actions and the reaction. They will start adjusting their posture and start sensing the changes in momentum. This is exactly what we intended. Once they get a hang of it, they will never forget it.

And you can kick back and enjoy the sun while they pump themselves on the swing. Not that pushing your kid on the swing is not fun...