Sunday, December 25, 2005

Wait a sec for leap into 2006

From CNN:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Get ready for a minute with 61 seconds. Scientists are delaying the start of 2006 by the first "leap second" in seven years, a timing tweak meant to make up for changes in the Earth's rotation.

The adjustment will be carried out by sticking an extra second into atomic clocks worldwide at the stroke of midnight Coordinated Universal Time, the widely adopted international standard, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology said this week.

Although it is possible to have a negative leap second -- that is, a second deducted from Coordinated Universal Time -- so far all have been add-ons, reflecting the Earth's general slowing trend due to tidal breaking.

Deciding when to introduce a leap second is the responsibility of the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service, a standards-setting body. Under an international pact, the preference for leap seconds is December 31 or June 30.

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Here goes one of my fav poems... By Robert Frost

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

-Robert Frost

"Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it's queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there's some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

Friday, December 16, 2005

Are our websites citeable?

It is with great regret and disappointment that I write this blog. This thought has been in my mind for quite some time now and has been made stronger by today's incident which compelled me to pen it down.

Without further ado, let me get to the issue. I am talking about the websites of most of our (India's) government websites. I am aghast at the total lack of presentability in them. Most of the sites appear to me as an HTML beginner's play ground. The incident that happened today was my browsing of our space-research portal: ISRO-'s website: . If by the time you read this, a revolutionary change has not happened to the site, you will see what I am talking about! A marquee in blue on a green background? The resolution of the images used and the color choices makes me giddy. Is this the face of India's - nation basking in IT glory - premier research organisation? I took a quick look at NASA's website: A comparison in research of the two could be possible (today or tomorrow)... but comparison of their sites... well, question of comparison should not arise!

ISRO's site was just an example. Try "India's No. 1 Telecommunications Company" - BSNL's site: Look at the flashing "new" in the site. Which era of websites are we in?

"Class" in terms of look and feel, and "Easy access to information" in terms of the layout should be the buzz-words to any serious site, in my opinion. I am more comfortable browsing through a site with these features than a horrible site with possible good information. Another such site to my disappointment is that of our leading newspaper "The Hindu". About 50% of the total width of the page is taken up by ads an the menu. While its ok for such sites to have ads, news should have the priority.

Now, I don't say that all Indian sites are crap. does a good job in combining ads and info, sensibly. I am yet to find an Indian government website which I would call "decent".

What does it take to maintain a proper site? A person with proper knowledge of web development and a another with a decent knowledge of image editing. These two could be combined. Another important ingredient is the timeliness of the information and the attention to detail.

Are the websites portraying the "well-famed" negligence in our government offices?