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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

TECH SPECIAL...YOU CAN TRANSLATE ANY LANGUAGE WITH THE MANY TOOLS AVAILABLE ONLINE

Is it possible for anyone to know all languages, outside the realm of fiction? I know a couple of languages and am comfortable speaking, reading and consuming content in them. I would love to learn more, but shuffling time be tween work and personal life, does not give you a chance to study another language. But, then you don't have to really learn new languages these days if you know which tools to use. Though some of the tools I am talking of today have existed for sometime, others have just re cently come out and some have im proved over time.

TRANSLATING TEXT, WEB PAGES

If you want to read a Chinese blog in English or aWikipedia page in Hindi, all you need to do is open either BabelFish (http://babelfish.yahoo.com) or Google's Translate (http://translate.google.com) and paste the block of text or the URL of the webpage you want to translate and select the language you want it translated into.Within seconds you will be able to read the page in the language selected, though there are bound to be some grammatical mistakes. Anyway, the translated page can give you a fair idea about what the original text means.

In case you just want to send an email to your friend in Germany and sign off with `your's sincerely' in German, you can use the tools and just copy-paste the result, Mit freundlichen Grüßen.

The Google Translation service has gone one-up to Yahoo's Babel Fish by letting you listen to the translated text, thus helping you understand how to speak or understand what others are saying.

For those using Firefox, there are add-ons available for Babel Fish and Google Translate that you can add to your browser for instant translations.Those on Android phones can download the GoogleTranslate app, while others can always visit these sites using your browser.

TRANSLATING CHATS LIVE

Quite a bit of our conversation happens on online chat these days. But language is a great hindrance for these dialogues. This is where the Google Translate bot makes life easier, though only if you have a Gmail or Gtalk accounts. All you need to do is add the Google Bot into your friends list, type the message there and it will translate it for you to send to you foreign friend. I would love to see the day, when you could get two bots, say English to French (en2fr.bot.talk.google.com) and French to English (fr2en.bot.talk.google.com), in a common room with a friend, thus allowing you to talk to each other without shuffling screens.

So, from trying to impress a friend in France to trying reading a poem written in German, translator tools can make life much easier for you. I think it's time we can all safely claim to know all languages.

(GAGANDEEP S. SAPRA SIE100822)

TOO MUCH IS TOO BAD (6)

6. SOYA

The Japanese eat soya and stay healthy and live longer. It is high in protein and has zero cholesterol. So what could be wrong with that?

That's true, but what is also true is that most Japanese eat only about 8 to 10g of soy protein a day, and even soya causes problems when eaten in excess.
“If overeaten, it may promote cancer, dementia, reproductive abnormalities, osteoporosis and thyroid disorders,“ says Dr Jain. “Increased consumption could also increase a woman's total estrogen level, which is a risk factor for breast cancer.“ For men, excessive soya can raise the risk of infertility, physical changes and hormonal havoc.

That's what happened to 36-yearold Gurgaon-based engineer Ramanujan Murthy. He switched to soy milk when he turned lactose intolerant and drank lots of it because he loved the taste. A few years later, he had emotional issues and his body was going through physical changes ­ all tracked to excess estrogen in his body, due to his excessive consumption of soya.


WHO'S AT RISK?

Everyone needs to be careful, particularly infants (so don't wean them on soya formulas).


HEALTHY LIMIT:

“About two servings (about 25-30g) per day of soya foods is safe,“ says Dr Sandhu. And eat more fermented soya products such as tempeh, soya sauce and miso soups, than non-fermented products like soy milk, tofu and so on. This is because these are high in phytic acid which causes most of the problems. Avoid soy supplements, energy bars and powders.

(KAVITA DEVGAN HTB 5FEB12)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

TECH SPECIAL..Techilicious CES 2012


The Beautiful And The Magnificent

Waterproof cellphones, Android apps on Windows 8 and a phone with massive battery life: here's the best of the best

YES, I know. This was supposed to be all about the best and the worst of the Consumer Electronics Show this year. It's not! One, there were very few clunkers this year and two, all I've got is two measly pages to bring you the biggest consumer electronics show in the world. Forget all the bad stuff, forget the worst ­ it's time to roll out the beautiful, the magnificent and the awesome: the best of CES 2012.

SAMSUNG ULTRABOOK 9

Talk about building a stunning product and also stunningly confusing people. This is the 9 series Ultrabook from Samsung, which is what it was called last year too. Why pour in state-of-the-art changes and upgrade something so significantly and still call it the same? This year's model is thinner, lighter and more powerful. If an Ultrabook could be called an anorexic demigod, then this is it.


BELKIN STREAMCAST

The dream gadget is finally a reality and the tangled cable nightmare is finally over. No more cables, dust-gathering wires and HDMI to connect all your peripherals to your TV. A gaming console, a 3D BluRay player, your HD DTH player... just connect them to the StreamCast and even if it's 100 feet away, it will transmit it all to your TV with zero loss of quality. Even 5.1 surround sound, thus, can be used for a full audiophile setup with no source wires. Perfection.

LG 55 OLED TV OLED

is our future. Low power, high-contrast, razor-thin, stunning images ­ and now it's got a model number and a release date ­ just not a price point yet. LG's 3D 55-inch OLED TV, out in September, will stun your eyes (and your bank balance).


SAMSUNG 55 OLED TV And right next to the LG and looking as stunning was the Samsung OLED. It's pure love and lust and absolute wizardry for the eyes. The only question is, who will be the first to take these stunners out for us to buy?

MOTOROLA RAZR MAXX If you're the chatty type, then this could well be the only gadget you need to read about on these pages. This is the Razr that has some serious battery power ­ 3300 mAh of it. It can give you 21 hours of talktime ­ that's straight talktime, not standby. It's still Razrthin and it's still super good-looking. This is talking your brains out to the Maxx.

MOTOACTV Strap it on and it gives you multiple gadgets in one. It can talk to your phone, show your messages, give you notifications and tell you the time too ­ but it's the fitness part that is really stunning. It tracks your life and movement down to the point where it'll literally tell you to move that fat a*s off the chair and onto the running track.
Powerful uploads to a dedicated website to seal the deal.

LENOVO S2 TAB At one time this company was only know for making serious, fairly drab looking laptops. Today, it seems to be churning out the most exciting looking and high performing devices one after the other. The Lenovo IdeaPad S2 is a 10.1-inch tablet with a 1280×800 IPS screen display and a snap-out laptop-to-Tablet latch system plus about 22 hours of battery life. It weighs just 580 gm. Yes, Lenovo is really doing some good things in their labs.

SAMSUNG TUBE AMP DOCKS Talk about a great idea. Build some of the best looking docks and add one feature to them that makes them stand out from the rest.
Samsung just did just that.
They built tube amps into a whole line up of docks. Tube Amps, which existed only in the field of pure audiophile equipment, can now be giving off a warm and fulfilling sound from your Galaxy S2 phone.

SENNHEISER RS 220 The number of people waiting in line to try this one at CES was almost ridiculous. This is where wired headphones are made to look very bad. With digital inputs, a bass that thumps right deep into your spine and clarity that blows anything with a cable out of the water ­ the wait for the RS 220 is over. This is pure audiophile wireless nirvana wrapped around your ears.

HUAWEI ASCEND P1 S Here's a company on fire that is churning out one world-beater after another. The Ascend P1 S is the world's thinnest smartphone and it looks it. It's 6.68 mm thick and beats the Moto Razr by a fair bit as that one is 7.1 mm. A 4.3-inch AMOLED screen, dual-core 1.5 GHz CPU, SGX 540 GPU, 8-megapixel camera and 1 GB of RAM. Now tell me you're not salivating.

(RAJIV MAKHNI HTBR 5FEB12)

FOOD SPECIAL..TOO MUCH IS TOO BAD (5)



5. FISH

Though fish contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids that help fight heart disease, and maybe even Alzheimer's, it also contains heavy metal toxins such as mercury (found especially in tuna, swordfish and shark). When eaten regularly, these can remain in your system and can lead to serious health and cognitive problems, including heart disease and reduced memory and concentration.

“Be careful with fish oil supplements too,“ warns Dr Sandhu. “High doses might reduce the immune system's activity which would reduce the body's ability to fight infection. They could also lead to an increase in the body's LDL (bad) cholesterol.“

WHO'S AT RISK?

Pregnant women and very young children are especially susceptible to mercury, but everyone needs to watch their intake.
Those taking blood pressure medications need to be careful of fish oil supplements as they may cause the blood pressure to drop too sharply.


HEALTHY LIMIT:

Choose cold-water fish known to contain less mercury, such as shrimp, salmon, catfish, carp, trout, squid, canned light tuna, herring and sardines, or stick to farm bred fish. Have about 20-25g per day or limit yourself to two meals of fish a week. “Fish oil supplements are safe between 3 and 5g a day,“ says Dr Jain.

(KAVITA DEVGAN HTB 5FEB12)

Monday, February 27, 2012

FOOD SPECIAL..TOO MUCH IS TOO BAD (4)

4.TEA

Tea keeps our hearts healthy, it's soothing and stress relieving. But it's addictive. So there is a possibility that four cups a day will become 10. Radio jockey Radhika Sharma, 36, found that out when she counted the number of cups of tea she drank one day and found it totalled 17.

Tea contains around 40mg caffeine per cup. “Caffeine is thought to inhibit the absorption of iron and some vitamins and is also linked to headaches, jitteriness, digestive disruption, irritability, confusion, headaches, tremors, irregular heartbeats and insomnia,“ says Dr Tickoo. “People who are sensitive to caffeine may also suffer from acidity as it leads to production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.“ The tea in teabags is more finely cut and releases caffeine more quickly. And the longer you brew the tea, the more caffeine will be extracted. Drink too much tea and you could also take too much fluoride into your system and develop a state of fluorosis, which can cause a bone disease called osteosclerosis (brittle poor quality bones).

WHO'S AT RISK?

Those who are predisposed to heartburn and stomach ulcers. Diabetics and people with high blood pressure need to be careful too.
In any case, addiction is bad for anyone.
HEALTHY LIMIT:

If you drink more than five cups a day, consider decaffeinated tea. Look at the size of your cup too. Two cups of tea a day from the neighbourhood café is more like six cups a day.

(KAVITA DEVGAN HTB 5FEB12)

INTERNET SPECIAL..Don't fall prey to that internet trap

Portal navigation is designed to keep users engrossed

Here's how mindless surfing works. You switch on your computer. You check your email and log on to your instant messenger. A friend - a contact on your instant messenger - has pasted the web address of a new article. You click on the link and start reading the article. Midway through the piece there is a link to an author who has been mentioned in the article.
Online tricks
You stop reading the original article and click on the author's link. That link takes you to the homepage of the author where you discover what an interesting personality the author is. On the side bar of the author's homepage you see link to Youtube where an interview of the author has been uploaded. Naturally you want to watch that interview. On Youtube, while the video is loading, you look at the side bar again and discover that there is a documentary by the author on another important literary figure. Naturally you must see that also to augment your mental 'bandwidth'. Oblivious to you the passage of time continues unabated.
Suddenly someone at work nudges you. You look around and find your colleague who wants to know what you're up to. You tell the colleague you've been reading up an author online. But for some strange reason, despite all your reading, you have a totally different web page opened up right before you. To make it worse, you can't really explain how you got to that web page. It's been three hours since you first began checking on the author. That's Mindless surfing.
Falling attention span
If mindless surfing is the problem, then a diminishing attention span is the manifestation of it? Too closely related to the post-modern phenomenon of mindless surfing, this crisis of diminishing attention span feeds and perpetuates mindless surfing. One reads so much online these days that nothing stays in memory at the end of the day. One of the first side-effects of the network age and economy to be discovered and publicly acknowledged by all stake holders involved, depleting attention spans have become so common that the condition is no longer a problem but more like a norm. No one wants to read or grasp anything that more than six web pages long. Not for the paucity of time, thankfully, but for the innumerable distractions that appeal to your reason, intellect and the need to amass knowledge.
Our minds are not prepared to jump subjects at the whims of a click and respond attentively to every new or related subject introduced randomly simply on account of clicking a weblink. Such is the power of mindless surfing and the resultant falling attention span on the human mind that afflicted people have now developed software that stops you every five minutes and asks you if you know what you're doing, surfing strange web pages when you could have been working on an important task.

(Mayank Tewari DNA091024)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

FOOD SPECIAL...TOO MUCH IS TOO BAD (3)



3. WATER

Water is without doubt the most essential dietary ingredient. But too much water can increase the total blood volume and place an unnecessary burden on the heart and blood vessels. It can also lead to a fortunately rare but potentially fatal condition called hyponatraemia, in which the body's salt levels drop and the brain swells.

Symptoms of water intoxication include headaches, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, frequent urination and mental disorientation.


WHO'S AT RISK?

Marathon runners and athletes have problems when they drink a lot of water quickly or drink water without sufficient electrolytes.
People following fad diets are at risk. People with impaired kidney functions should be careful too.


HEALTHY LIMIT:

We are unlikely to suffer from water intoxication even if we drink a lot of water, as long as we drink it over time rather than downing an enormous volume at one time. As a general guideline, most adults need approximately 810 glasses every day. But it's best to let thirst be your guide. If it's a hot day, drink a little more, but don't force down gallons of water because gallons of water because you think you must.
“Drink enough water so that your urine is colourless or light yellow,“ suggests Dr Tickoo.
While exercising, balance what you're drinking with what you're losing in sweat ­ and that includes sports drinks.

(KAVITA DEVGAN HTB 5FEB12)

TECH SPECIAL..PHOTOSHOP


An airbrush with reality

Photoshop is now so intrinsic to our daily digital lives that you might find it hard to believe that the programme is just two decades old. While some would argue that the software has given a new meaning to skill and creativity, others believe that it has killed those attributes and erased the line between real and fake

Stop for a second and look around. Nearly every image you see — advertising billboards, magazine covers, blockbuster films, front pages of newspapers, even the logo on the toothbrush you use every morning — has been touched up by one particular software, in one way or another.
From bringing visual effects to life in Avatar to helping you decide if the new hair colour you’ve been meaning to try out becomes you, from making Hermione’s breasts bigger for a Harry Potter poster to adding ballistic clout to the Iranian government, the influence of Adobe Photoshop has been so great that the programme has even earned a place in the vernacular as a shorthand for the act of altering images. It’s not often that a technology product, even a pathbreaking one, enters the language as a verb — though most of us ‘google’ and some of us ‘xerox’, nobody yet ‘walkmans’, ‘ipods’ or even ‘windows’.

MAKING OF THE SOFTWARE

Back in 1987, nothing could have predicted the deep impact this software would have on our lives. Photo manipulation two decades ago, though prevalent, was reserved to a knowledgeable few and required expertise and money. Then, Thomas Knoll, a PhD student at the University of Michigan, started messing about with greyscale digital images on a monochrome display. His brother, John, joined him and they came up with an image editing software called ‘Display’. In 1988, John presented a demo to Adobe. The software was well received, a licensing deal struck and on February 19, 1990, after 10 months of development, Photoshop 1.0 was released.
After many scandals, unrealistically skinny models, countless accusations of racism and 11 versions in more than 20 languages, Photoshop today is accepted as a software product that redefined creativity in the digital age. Like the first oil paintings that shook up the art scene in the mid-19th century — with the likes of Monet and Van Gogh embracing the new, cheap medium — Adobe Photoshop has become the new inexpensive way to create new realities and alter the world surrounding us.
John, now a visual effects supervisor at Industrial Light & Magic, the firm behind the special effects in films like Avatar and the Harry Potter series, says: “It’s endlessly amusing to see
how much it has permeated popular culture. It really is everywhere. You can hardly turn around and not see something that was done in Photoshop.” Adds Thomas: “Adobe predicted it would sell 500 copies of Photoshop per month. I guess you could say we beat those projections! We knew we had a groundbreaking technology on our hands, but we never anticipated how much it would impact the images we see all around us.”

IN A SNAP

Despite its countless features, photography has always been the heartbeat of Photoshop. With each new version, the software has evolved along with the market it served. As transparencies transitioned into digital cameras, more and more photographers saw the potential in Photoshop.
The software repairs ancient photographs, preserving history. It enhances and magnifies medical images, helping doctors share critical scans and get opinions from various ends of the planet. It shows you how you would look with a new haircut. It creates entire worlds out of the imagination. And, of course, it alters the looks of people — it can make the dark-skinned look fair and the plump slim. It can remove blemishes and wrinkles, while preserving lighting and texture. And that is the beauty and the beast of Photoshop.
Ace photographer Raghu Rai accepts the software as a tool that photography needs. “A good photograph is one that captures reality to the closest. Before computers were available, lensmen used various filters, aperture-shutter speed combinations, double exposures and other methods to produce exactly what they saw. It is not always possible for a camera to capture what the naked eye sees and there is nothing wrong with someone using software to achieve that.”

A POLITICAL TOOL

All these features of Photoshop, however, are a double-edged sword. The software is often used to alter real events and affect our perceptions. Examples abound for these, too, from inserting or removing people from important events to recreating war scenes. In July 2008, Iran released a photograph of four missiles being launched simultaneously. Turns out there were only three missiles, with a fourth digitally inserted to add more menace. This is the sort of manipulation that gets Rai seething.
Closer home, people with a computer and lots of time to kill have pasted faces of well known actors and models on bodies of nude models and made them available for the world to see. “We need to draw a line somewhere,” says model Tupur Chatterjee. “It’s okay to remove a pimple or brighten up the skin, but it’s obviously not right to attach a celebrity’s face to the body of a nude model and paste it across the web.”

UNATTAINABLE BEAUTY

The beauty industry — worth $160 billion globally — is often accused of using Photoshop to apply subliminal pressures to which young females, and now even men, succumb. Constantly bombarded with perfect figures and unrealistic standards of beauty, youngsters often given up eating to look like that.
Tupur, who has appeared on many magazine covers, does not have a problem with her photographs being ‘touched up’. “It isn’t easy to get a perfect picture and so many times a very good photograph is ruined by an odd lamp shade or a wire that happens to be sticking around somewhere in the frame. Photoshop, in such cases, can save time, money and energy for the model, the photographer and the ad agency involved.”
Tupur does not believe that a software can kill creativity and skill. “No amount of manipulation can make a bad photograph look good, but it surely can make a very good picture even better.”

ETHICS IN THE FRAME

There’s a weird relationship between society, photography and Photoshop — most people suffer from the illusion that a photograph is the ultimate truth or, at least, it should be. According to fashion photographer Atul Kasbekar, “it is one thing to sort out the lighting in a picture and another to create a woman who practically has no waist.’’ He says, “It is scary when we hear of young girls starving themselves after seeing a model in some magazine, but it is not a phenomenon one can blame Photoshop for. A good typewriter never wrote a great book — Photoshop is only as good or bad as people make it.”
Mehr Jessia Rampal, India’s first supermodel who graced several magazine covers in the ’80s, much before Photoshop was mainstream, is all for a tool that can make a person look more beautiful. “I would not make a value judgement about airbrushing and photoshopping a picture. It’s a part of the glamour industry. Ad agencies are very demanding — if a model who is selling fairness cream has blemishes, it just wouldn’t work. People have to be realistic when they see an ad. Something is obviously wrong in the upbringing of the girls and boys who starve themselves or go on a bodybuilding rampage just to look like a model.”

WAY FORWARD

Not everybody, though, agrees with Mehr. Though Adobe’s Photoshop business generates as much as $300 million a year, owns 90 per cent of the market and has created an ecosystem of support products, it has raised a demon that the Knolls least expected. As airbrushing scandals regularly land on newspaper frontpages, Adobe has announced that it is working on a software that will make it easy for photo editors to spot a manipulated image.
However, even that might not be enough. As obsession with body image grows, health officials have a new enemy to fight. Governments across the world, including France, Britain, the US and Italy, are pushing for a law mandating that magazines tell readers when and how they have altered photos of models. Editors of glamour magazines have resisted such a proposal, but as the backlash against manipulated images that push an idealised standard of beauty gains momentum, it remains to be seen how much of the truth can be photoshopped.

The Devil's Photoshop

In 2008, Iran released a picture of four missiles being launched simultaneously. In truth, there were three missiles launched, with the fourth digitally inserted.
In 2006, a Lebanese photographer Adnan Hajj came under criticism for tampering with a photograph of an Israeli air raid in Beirut by adding thicker, darker smoke
In 2003, Brian Walski’s LA Timescover photo from Iraq combined two separate images of a US soldier and Iraqi civilians. Readers noticed images of the same civilians in the background before Walski was fired.

(VISHANT V AGARWALA TOI CREST10320)

Friday, February 24, 2012

FOOD SPECIAL..TOO MUCH IS TOO BAD (2)



2. PROTEIN

The body needs protein to repair and build muscle, but eating excessive amounts won't do the job better. In fact, in a diet where the protein intake goes beyond 30 per cent of the daily caloric intake, a build up of toxic ketones in the body may occur, causing the kidneys to go into overdrive in an attempt to flush them out. This may lead to a significant loss of water and calcium from the body, causing dehydration and bone loss. Symptoms include a feeling of weakness and dizziness, dry skin, loss of hair, low appetite, nausea and bad breath. In the long term, this may strain the kidneys, stretch out the liver and put stress on your heart too.

“Weightloss efforts go bust too, as excess protein is converted into fat,“ says Dr Tickoo. “Another problem is that while making protein into carbs or fat, the body converts the protein's nitrogen into urea or uric acid. In large amounts, this can mess up your kidneys, lead to gout (a condition that causes your joints to become inflamed, tender and painful to move) and cause gallstones and kidney stones.“

Be super careful with protein shakes and bars. The body can process only about four to five grams of protein per hour, so the 50 grams you got from that protein bar or shake will take about 10 hours to digest and absorb. Also, when you replace your meals with protein shakes, you run the risk of missing the vitamins and nutrients you get from real food. Red meat is hard on the digestive system because it can take up to 16 hours to digest, a situation that can create a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria too. In the long run, too much protein may increase the risk of getting haemorrhoids polyps and colon cancer.

WHO'S AT RISK?

Strict `only non vegetarians', those who follow highprotein weightloss fad diets repeatedly, and those who try to build muscles in a hurry by resorting to unregulated use of protein shakes, meals and bars.
HEALTHY LIMIT:

Most people need about 50 to 70g of protein a day. Here are some measures: approximately 200g of chicken or fish or 150g of mutton provides 40g of protein, 1 egg provides 5g of protein and 250­-500ml of milk provides 9 to 18g of protein. More than this means you're in excess for the day.

(KAVITA DEVGAN HTB 5FEB12)

PERSONAL SPECIAL...6 websites to make you seem more interesting than you are

Here are seven websites, equipped with which, you can appear intelligent to almost anyone. Well, not everyone, but at least it’s a start…

www.thefreedictionary.com

This resource is one of the best places in Cyberia for any information of any sort. Besides dictionaries in English and 13 other languages, the site boasts of a thesaurus, a section for abbreviations, idioms, an encyclopaedia, as well as a literature reference library – and all supported by a nifty search engine. Daily visitors can also expect regular features such as word of the day, quote of the day, article of the day, this day in history, and so on. But my personal favourite has got to be the word game section, which includes Hangman and Spelling Bee. But I digress. Equipped with this resource, you can wax eloquent on practically anything under the sun.

www.acronymfinder.com

Every now and then, someone might try to appear smarter by spewing out an acronym or abbreviation at you with a condescending smirk. But if you have bookmarked Acronym Finder in you browser, that’s one less tactic they can use to make you feel stupid. Now, while it won’t keep you informed about everything there is to know, at least it will help you mitigate your losses. This site has more than 7,50,000 ‘human-edited’ definitions, abbreviations and acronyms about computers, technology, telecommunications, and the military. So bookmark it ASAP before people start ROTFL at your ignorance.

www.etymonline.com

This site is all about polishing you into a fairly decent wordsmith. You know you can’t have a conversation without being equipped with the right linguistic skills. Also, it always helps to know the root of words so you don’t trip while trying to appear smart. Enter Etymonline. This resource will help you understand the origin, development, and the ‘true sense’ of a word. In simpler language, if you need to know the basis of any word in English, then this is the place to go to. Heck, it even covers “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. You might want to look that one up while you’re at it.

www.biography.com

Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people. But how will you ever discuss people, if you know nothing about them? I suggest you make haste to this resource. Whether it’s Pope John Paul II or Martin Luther King, Adolf Hitler or Winston Churchill, Genghis Khan or Alexander the Great, Princess Diana or Marilyn Monroe, you’ll find all their biographies here; complete with photographs, videos snippets, etcetera. And on those nights when you don’t have any social invites, visit Biography.com anyway. It definitely makes for interesting reading. True story.

wolframalpha.com

How do I put this mildly without sounding like a fanboy? Wolframalpha is a search engine with a difference. Enter your birth date as a search parameter, and the engine will throw up details like the number of years, months and days you have spent on this planet; famous personalities that were born on the same day; the phase of the moon on the day you were born, etc. Enter in a colour, say ‘pink’, and it will throw up its RGB value, its hexadecimal code, c o m p l e m e n t a r y colours and the like.
But don’t take my word for it, go on, type in Mumbai and Tokyo in the box, and see what you get. Useless facts and statistics can be a great conversation opener.

www.pantheon.org and www.theoi.com

Everyone likes a story, and mythology has always a good subject to mine for conversations. So for your fill of gods and demons, check out Pantheon.org and Theoi.com; both excellent places to start. While the latter only covers Grecian divinity (and does it exceedingly well), Pantheon includes mythological characters from across the globe: From our own Ganesha to the Greek Zeus, the Roman Jupiter to the Nordic Freya, from the Egyptian Anubis to the Aztec Quetzalcoatl. The gods, it seems, have made these two URLs their personal domain. So if the exploits of the gods has always been your Achilles’ heel, then this site is your river Styx. Take a dip.
Savio D’Souza (STOI100919)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

CAREER SPECIAL..LEARN MORE FROM A BAD MANAGER

I think people should understand that they will learn more from a bad manager than a good manager. They tend to get into a cycle where they’re so frustrated that they aren’t paying attention actually to what’s happening to them. When you have a good manager things go so well that you don’t even know why it’s going well because it just feels fine.

When you have a bad manager you have to look at what’s irritating you and say: “Would I do that? Would I make those choices? Would I talk to me that way? How would I do this?”

When people come to me and say, “I can’t work for so-and-so anymore,” I say, “Well, what have you learned from so-and-so?” People want to take a bad situation and say, “Oh, it’s bad.” No, no. You have to deal with what you’re dealt. Otherwise you’re going to run from something and not to something. And you should never run from something.

From the interview with Carol Bartz, chief executive of Yahoo, by Adam Bryant (NYTIMES 091018)

PERSONAL SPECIAL...SAFELY STORE CARD INFO



It’s a nightmare to lose your wallet or purse or have it stolen. But before you start looking for it or lodging an FIR with the local police station, the first thing you must do is to cancel all your credit and debit cards. To report a card as lost or stolen, you need the card number and the bank’s centralised helpline number to report the loss as soon as possible.
It’s never safe to write down the card numbers anywhere or store them on your phone. A much safer way is to scan or photograph the cards and then store them in a password-protected zip file.
Use a high-resolution flatbed scanner or a good camera to photograph all your cards together (include all the cards you keep in your wallet). You’ll end up with two scans/photographs – one each for card fronts and backs.
Next, add them both to a password-protected zip file. To do this, first select both files > right click > add to zip > select the ‘password required to open’ option. Now you can keep this password-protected zip file on your computer, save it on a USB flash drive and send it to your email ID (for quick access from anywhere).
HITESH RAJ BHAGAT

(ETCD11F0212)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

TECH SPECIAL...VIRTUAL SAFEKEEPING


Web-based platforms are now offering numerous online storage services that hold on to your life’s most important documents till you need them



Sunil Mahajan had a torrid time a couple of summers back. His air-conditioner went bust in the middle of a scorching Delhi summer but what made it worse was that he could not locate the warranty card and had to shell out Rs 10,000 for a new compressor even though the warranty period had not ended. Mahajan, instead of getting mad, got organised.
Last year, with a partner, he started an online service called Kleeto.in that allows people to store everything from receipts to warranty cards, mutual fund and property documents or car insurance papers physically in one place as well as in a digitised form. Swelling dossiers for a lifetime of investments and purchases, busy schedules, and just a general inertia against document management is seeding a new way of storing critical documents online. No more backbreaking searches in old trunks and dusty drawers for that elusive class X board exam certificate which is a must for your all-important visa application.
“We hired a few business school students and conducted three surveys across locations, during which we met 600-800 people to see if there was such a need. To our surprise, 60-70 per cent said yes and that they were poor at managing all their key documents and that volume is exploding as we soon have documents for spouse, children, parents etc,” says Mahajan.
Warrantify.com is a similar company but with a focus on warranties alone. The company’s objective is to make warranties and the claim process paperless and headache-less in the future. As of now, they act as a platform between the retailer and the subscriber when it comes to storing warranties online. But their objective is to challenge the whole warranty claim process. “The process can be complicated and annoying and you might need to wrangle with the call centre for hours. Instead, we plan on making it as simple as clicking on a ‘claim’ button online and the retailer can respond to it. It will leverage the impending smart phone penetration and make it painless,” says Haritash Tamvada, co-founder and CEO, Warrantify. The company will earn its revenue through sales of extended warranties and accessories for gadgets. Gulshan Kumar, who works for a telecom company in Delhi, had a harrowing time when he had to file numerous financial and personal documents for a visa application that eventually forced him to take a day off just to locate everything. Kumar now stores everything digitally and physically with Kleeto and can find anything in his searchable database, that too in less than a minute. Chaitanya P, a frequent gadget shopper, could no longer keep track of his warranties. He had to pay for a speaker replacement on his phone in spite of it being within warranty period. Now, the moment he buys anything, he takes a photo of the receipt on his smart phone and uploads it immediately.
More often than not, health records such as ECGs, old doctors’ prescriptions, X-rays are stashed away and forgotten but often another doctor asks for them or the ailment resurfaces. Similar to other online repositories for scanned documents, myhealthrecords.in does the same but for medical records. Family and parental medical histories can also be accessed online remotely on this web-based platform by user-authorised medical experts and referred to for advice.
“Legal and medical records are really important. In one case, a patient wanted to get a second opinion and couldn’t send the previous records on time. Digitising X-rays and ECGs is not easy and not everyone has a scanner. We make a virtual clinic for the doctor, give them the website, and they can log on to see all records,” says Anil Joshi, co-founder of Myhealthrecords.in.
• PADMAPARNA TOICRST 4FEB12

CAREER SPECIAL...Managing Career and Expectations

1. Seek out grassroots level experience

I studied Physics and Engineering at University. A few months before
graduation, I appeared for an HLL interview for Computer Traineeship. When
asked whether I would consider Marketing instead of Computers, I responded
negatively : an engineer to visit grocery shops to sell Dalda or Lifebuoy?
Gosh, no way. After I joined the Company and a couple of comfortable weeks
in the swanky Head Office, I was given a train ticket to go to Nasik. Would
I please meet Mr. Kelkar to whom I would be attached for the next two
months? He would teach me to work as a salesman in his territory, which
included staying in Kopargaon and Pimpalgaon among other small towns. I was
most upset. In a town called Ozhar, I was moving around from shop to shop
with a bullock cart full of products and a salesman's folder in my hand.
Imagine my embarrassment when an IIT friend appeared in front of me in
Ozhar, believe it or not! And exclaimed, "Gopal, I thought you joined as a
Management Trainee in Computers". I could have died a thousand deaths.
After this leveling experience, I was less embarrassed to work as a
Dispatch Clerk in the Company Depot and an Invoice Clerk in the Accounts
Department. Several years later, I realised the value of such grassroots
level experience. It is fantastic. I would advise young people to seek out
nail-dirtying, collar-soiling, shoe-wearing tasks. That is how you learn
about organizations, about the true nature of work, and the dignity of the
many, many tasks that go into building great enterprises.


2. Deserve before you desire

At one stage, I was appointed as the Brand Manager for Lifebuoy and Pears
soap, the company's most popular-priced and most premium soaps. And what
was a Brand Manager? "A mini-businessman, responsible for the production,
sales and profits of the brand, accountable for its long-term growth, etc.,
etc. I had read those statements, I believed them and here I was, at 27,"in
charge of everything". But very soon, I found I could not move a pin
without checking with my seniors. One evening, after turning the Facit
machine handle through various calculations, I sat in front of the
Marketing Director. I expressed my frustration and gently asked whether I
could not be given total charge. He smiled benignly and said, "The
perception and reality are both right. You will get total charge when you
know more about the brand than anyone else in this company about its
formulation, the raw materials, the production costs, the consumer's
perception, the distribution and so on. How long do you think that it will
take?" "Maybe, ten years", I replied, "and I don't expect to be the
Lifebuoy and Pears Brand Manager for so long"! And then suddenly, the
lesson was clear. I was desiring total control, long before I deserved it.
This happens to us all the time - in terms of responsibilities, in terms of
postings and promotions, it happens all the time that there is a gap
between our perception of what we deserve and the reality of what we get.
It helps to deserve before we desire.


3. Play to win but win with fairness

Life is competitive and of course, you play to win. But think about the
balance. Will you do anything, to win? Perhaps not. Think deeply about how
and where you draw the line. Each person draws it differently, and in doing
so, it helps to think about values. Winning without values provides dubious
fulfillment. The leaders who have contributed the most are the ones with a
set of universal values! V Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King for
example. Napoleon inspired a ragged, mutinous and half-starved army to
fight and seize power. This brought him name and fame for twenty years. But
all the while, he was driven forward by a selfish and evil ambition, and
not in pursuit of a great ideal. He finally fell because of his selfish
ambition. I am fond of referring to the Pierre de Coubertin Fair Play
Trophy. It was instituted in 1964 by the founder of the modern Olympic
Games and here are two examples of winners. A Hungarian tennis player who
pleaded with the umpire to give his opponent some more time to recover from
a cramp. A British kayak team who were trailing the Danish kayak team. They
then stopped to help the Danish team whose boat was stuck. The Danes went
on to beat the British by one second in a three hour event! What wonderful
examples of sportsmanship! Play to Win, but with Fairness.


4. Enjoy whatever you do

Sir Thomas Lipton is credited with the statement, "There is no greater fun
than hard work". You usually excel in fields, which you truly enjoy. Ask
any person what it is that interferes with his enjoyment of existence. He
will say, "The struggle for life". What he probably means is the struggle
for success. Unless a person has learnt what to do with success after
getting it, the very achievement of it must lead him to unhappiness.
Aristotle wrote, "Humans seek happiness as an end in itself, not as a means
to something else". But if you think about it, we should not work for
happiness. We should work as happy people. In organizational life, people
get busy doing something to be happy. The more you try to be happy, the
more unhappy you can get. Your work and career is all about you're reaching
your full potential. Working at one's full potential, whether it is the
office boy or the Chairman, leads to enjoyment and fulfillment. A last
point about enjoyment. Keep a sense of humor about yourself. Too many
people are in danger of taking themselves far too seriously. As General Joe
Stilwell is reported to have said, "Keep smiling. The higher the monkey
climbs, the more you can see of his backside".


5. Be Passionate about your health

Of course, as you get older, you would have a slight paunch, graying of
hair or loss of it and so on. But it is in the first 5 - 7 years after the
working career begins that the greatest neglect of youthful health occurs.
Sportsmen stop playing sports, non drinkers drink alcohol, light smokers
smoke more, active people sit on chairs, and starving inmates of hostels
eat rich food in good hotels and so on. These are the years to watch. Do
not, I repeat do not, convince yourself that you are too busy, or that you
do not have access to facilities, or worst of all, that you do this to
relieve the stresses of a professional career. A professional career is
indeed very stressful. There is only one person who can help you to cope
with the tension, avoid the doctor's scalpel, and to feel good each morning
- and that is yourself. God has given us as good a health as He has, a bit
like a credit balance in the bank. Grow it, maintain it, but do not allow
its value destruction. The penalty is very high in later years.


6. Direction is more important than distance

Every golfer tries to drive the ball to a very long distance. In the
process, all sorts of mistakes occur because the game involves the masterly
co-ordination of several movements simultaneously. The golf coach always
advises that direction is more important than distance. So it is with life.
Despite one's best attempts, there will be ups and downs. It is
relationships and friendships that enable a person to navigate the choppy
waters that the ship of life will encounter. When I was young, there was a
memorable film by Frank Capra, starring James Stewart and Dona Reed, and
named IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. It is about a man who is about to commit
suicide because he thinks he is a failure. An angel is sent to rescue him.
The bottom line of the film is that "No Man is a Failure Who Has Friends".

Conclusion:

My generation will never be twenty again, but when you are older, you can
and should be different from my generation. Ours is a great and wonderful
country, and realizing her true potential in the global arena depends ever
so much on the quality and persistence of our young people.
Good luck in your journey, my young friends,

(Talk at one of the IIMs)
by Mr. R. Gopalakrishnan, Executive Director -Tata Sons, Past President, AIMA

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

ENTREPRENEUR SPECIAL...PLAN A OR PLAN B

FOR ENTREPRENEURS

“Test your business model as quickly and cheaply as possible. The answers will tell you whether Plan A will work or whether you need to move to Plan B,” says

Why initial entrepreneurship models don’t work is an area John Mullins, an associate professor of management practice at London Business School has explored for a long time now. It’s also the topic for his new book
Getting to Plan B: Breaking Through to a Better Business Model, co-authored with Randy Komisar of Kleiner Perkins.
According to Mullins, most start-ups fail because they tend not to be very receptive to market reactions. The most common excuse — cash running out — is simply a symptom of the business model not being viable, and not the reason for the failure of the model, he says.


At what point does an entrepreneur need to step back and evaluate whether Plan A is working?

I think the way you realise Plan A isn’t working is by subjecting it to the marketplace. At the end of the day, only the market will tell you whether Plan A works or not. Our advice is to get as quickly as you can to real market settings where you can get real data from real customers rather than sitting behind a computer screen and trying to fine tune your business model based on what could be naïve or unsound assumptions.

What is the process you recommend for moving from Plan A to Plan B?

The idea is this: there are companies before you who have done something like you want to do that you can copy from, and others who have also done something similar, but that you choose not to copy from. These are your analogs and antilogs respectively. The process of going from Plan A to a plan that will work is to begin with these. For instance, when Steve Jobs of Apple decided to get into the music business that eventually completely changed Apple as a company, he had a whole range of analogs and antilogs he could refer to. Sony Walkman had sold over 300 million portable music players, so he knew there was a demand for portable music. Also, people were (illegally) downloading music from Napster, so he knew that they were open to downloading music online (as opposed to buying CDs). Jobs also had a key antilog, which was Rio, the first mp3 player that had a terrible interface and was rather clunky.
The next step is what we call a ‘leap of faith’; essentially something you believe is true but don’t have any evidence to support. It is a gap in evidence that you need to find an answer to, as the answer determines whether or not your model will be a success.
In Apple’s case, the leaps of faith were whether consumers would be willing to pay for music online, and whether music companies would sell them the rights to their tunes.
Once you have these answers, you are ready to go. But you have to get real feedback from the marketplace, and not just focus groups.

Apple was a fairly established company when it decided to enter the portable music market. How different is it for a fledgling startup venture?

The challenges for a start-up would be very different as an established company would already have its cash flow and resources in place. But the process would still remain the same. You still look at the analogs and antilogs before moving ahead and developing your own model. Google was not the world’s first search engine, but the consumers were flocking to Google because the results were far more relevant. As a result, the company had to keep adding more servers
to deal with the increased traffic.
Now Google was wonderful for consumers as it was free, but the founders weren’t making any money out of it. So they looked around and found Overture, another search engine. This company did not have the best technology, but it had a feasible model. Overture would display objective results on one side, and the paid results on the other side of the page. So Google basically borrowed this analog and the cash started coming in.

With Google, and many other instances, Plan B was essentially a modification of the existing model. What about instances when you move into a different business altogether?

There’s a great example of that from India — Kishore Biyani’s Pantaloon. He started out manufacturing men’s pants, and realised during his interactions with the retailers that retail in India wasn’t being run well. So he figured, why not do it himself? Again, he had analogs like Walmart and Marks & Spencer to learn from and he finally put together his own format based on his learnings which is unique to the Indian market. Today, Pantaloon (Future Group) is a huge success, but it doesn’t look much like making men’s pants.

With the leaps of faith tested, what is the next step?

The final step we suggest is building a dashboard. A dashboard is a tool for planning and focusing your hypothesis and examining the leaps of faith in a structured and rigorous way. Then essentially, you use these either to take the risks out of the business once you know it is true, or change course if you find your hypotheses don’t quite hold water.

So then should companies start out with a back-up plan?

No, we do not recommend an entrepreneur starting out with a contingency plan in his back pocket. Time, energy and passion in the entrepreneurial venture are so scarce that you have to put all you have into what you believe will work. And you do believe that that Plan A will work or else you wouldn’t be doing this. However, what you need to do is take your leaps of faith and test them in the market as quickly and cheaply as possible. The answers will tell you whether Plan A is good or whether you need to move to Plan B or C to make it work.

Do you see entrepreneurs falling in love with their business model and not wanting to modify it?

Yes that is exactly what happens and it’s very sad, because as a result, they will fail. Unfortunately, failure is the most common outcome with new start-ups and it’s a waste of entrepreneurial time and talent. In effect, the book argues it’s a matter of mindset — it’s not about thinking that I have a brilliant idea and how can I make it successful, but saying that here is a customer problem that I am going to resolve. And if you go into the business with the mindset that you are solving a customer problem, there is a lesser chance that you’ll get hung up on your solution.

(John Mullins to PRIYANKA SANGANI ETCD 090116)

TECH SPECIAL...How to Better Search THE WEB

For most people, searching the web is limited to just entering a bit of text into a search box.



Google
Launched in 1997, this search engine with a minimalist design has grown in a way that a few would have imagined. It is adopted by multiple browsers as the engine for their top search bar and is also used as a homepage by various browsers.
Tips, tricks and easter eggs

1. Search in Klingon — If you're a Star Trek fan, head to http://google.com/intl/xx-klingon to view Google in Star Trek's Klingon language.

2. Search as Elmer Fudd — Looney Tunes fans can view Google in the way Elmer Fudd speaks by vis iting http://google.com/intl/xx-elmer.

3. Play Pacman in Google — http://google.com/ pacman has a mini version of the game to play.

4. Experimental Google - http://google.com/experimental will show you options to enable keyboard shortcuts for a faster web search.
Yahoo
Although Yahoo has been in the search business since 1994, they have recently entered into a deal with Microsoft for their search engine to be powered by Bing. The transition is expected to be complete sometime during 2012.
Tips, tricks and easter eggs

1. Yahoo Yokel — Open www.yahoo.com (not the Yahoo India site) and click on the exclamation mark in the Yahoo logo on top to hear the Yahoo yokel.

2. Compose email from search box — In the search box type "!mail abc@xyz.com" (where abc@xyz.com is a complete email ID) to directly compose a mail with that email ID in the 'to' field (You need to be signed in to Yahoo for this to work).

3. Search within a website — Yahoo allows you to search within other sites from its search page. Just type "!sitename query" (for example !wiki Vegas).
Bing
Bing has been through its share of transitions right from when it started off as MSN Search in 1999. Over the years it was changed to Windows Live Search and Live Search before Microsoft finally settled on Bing in 2009.
Tips, tricks and easter eggs

1. Get the full version of Bing — The localised version of Bing's search page shows a trimmed down version. Go to www.bing.com/worldwide.aspx and set your language to US-English to see the en tire interactive search page.

2. Get search results as RSS feeds — You can subscribe to search results as RSS feeds by adding "&format=rss" to the search results page URL. 3. Results for linked files — You can search a specific site for linked files by adding "contains:filetype" in your query (for eg site: bing.com contains:doc).

Search Engines for Specific Needs
For Music
Use Midomi to discover new music, listen to samples or just sing/hum into your microphone to find the name of a song you've heard before. They also offer free iOS & Android apps.
www.midomi.com
Deep Web Search
Dogpile combines most relevant search results of your query from Google, Yahoo & Bing to deliver results faster. You can even add it to your browser or get a toolbar.
www.dogpile.com
For Images
Bookmark PicSearch to search for images from all over the web. It offers easy ways to streamline your search plus image dimensions & file size are clearly mentioned upfront.
www.picsearch.com
Medicine Related
Probably the largest medical resource on the internet, WebMD can check on symptoms, offer food advice, tips on parenting and pregnancy and lists common names for drugs.
www.webmd.com
For Videos
Blinkx has over 35 million hours of video stored — all searchable, but you can also view categories, ask it to show you current news, entertain you or create a custom channel.
www.blinkx.com
Automatic Search
Wolfram Alpha is not a search engine; it's a computational knowledge engine. Use it for conversions, stats, fact finding or just enter anything that you want to know about in the search box.
www.wolframalpha.com

(Hitesh Raj Bhagat & Karan Bajaj)

(ET1f0212)

Monday, February 20, 2012

TECH SPECIAL...VIRTUAL SAFEKEEPING

Web-based platforms are now offering numerous online storage services that hold on to your life’s most important documents till you need them



Sunil Mahajan had a torrid time a couple of summers back. His air-conditioner went bust in the middle of a scorching Delhi summer but what made it worse was that he could not locate the warranty card and had to shell out Rs 10,000 for a new compressor even though the warranty period had not ended. Mahajan, instead of getting mad, got organised.
Last year, with a partner, he started an online service called Kleeto.in that allows people to store everything from receipts to warranty cards, mutual fund and property documents or car insurance papers physically in one place as well as in a digitised form. Swelling dossiers for a lifetime of investments and purchases, busy schedules, and just a general inertia against document management is seeding a new way of storing critical documents online. No more backbreaking searches in old trunks and dusty drawers for that elusive class X board exam certificate which is a must for your all-important visa application.
“We hired a few business school students and conducted three surveys across locations, during which we met 600-800 people to see if there was such a need. To our surprise, 60-70 per cent said yes and that they were poor at managing all their key documents and that volume is exploding as we soon have documents for spouse, children, parents etc,” says Mahajan.
Warrantify.com is a similar company but with a focus on warranties alone. The company’s objective is to make warranties and the claim process paperless and headache-less in the future. As of now, they act as a platform between the retailer and the subscriber when it comes to storing warranties online. But their objective is to challenge the whole warranty claim process. “The process can be complicated and annoying and you might need to wrangle with the call centre for hours. Instead, we plan on making it as simple as clicking on a ‘claim’ button online and the retailer can respond to it. It will leverage the impending smart phone penetration and make it painless,” says Haritash Tamvada, co-founder and CEO, Warrantify. The company will earn its revenue through sales of extended warranties and accessories for gadgets. Gulshan Kumar, who works for a telecom company in Delhi, had a harrowing time when he had to file numerous financial and personal documents for a visa application that eventually forced him to take a day off just to locate everything. Kumar now stores everything digitally and physically with Kleeto and can find anything in his searchable database, that too in less than a minute. Chaitanya P, a frequent gadget shopper, could no longer keep track of his warranties. He had to pay for a speaker replacement on his phone in spite of it being within warranty period. Now, the moment he buys anything, he takes a photo of the receipt on his smart phone and uploads it immediately.
More often than not, health records such as ECGs, old doctors’ prescriptions, X-rays are stashed away and forgotten but often another doctor asks for them or the ailment resurfaces. Similar to other online repositories for scanned documents, myhealthrecords.in does the same but for medical records. Family and parental medical histories can also be accessed online remotely on this web-based platform by user-authorised medical experts and referred to for advice.
“Legal and medical records are really important. In one case, a patient wanted to get a second opinion and couldn’t send the previous records on time. Digitising X-rays and ECGs is not easy and not everyone has a scanner. We make a virtual clinic for the doctor, give them the website, and they can log on to see all records,” says Anil Joshi, co-founder of Myhealthrecords.in.
• PADMAPARNA TOICRST 4FEB12

Saturday, February 18, 2012

FOOD SPECIAL..TOO MUCH IS TOO BAD(1)


So tell us. How many papayas do you eat every week? And how many bunches of palak? Health food junkies, here's a warning. Overdose on the good things and they'll bite back

THAT HAPPENS when Mr X decides that fruit is the healthiest food on earth and chooses to eat fruit all the time? Or when Ms Y believes that proteins were created just to keep her thin and banishes all other food groups from her diet?

“This is when good food turns bad,“ says Dr Rommel Tickoo, consultant, internal medicine, Max Hospital, Delhi. “When we have too much of even a good thing, it ceases to be good, and can in fact cause harm.“

In this age of health obsession, we've been conditioned to think about foods as good or bad. If X is good and Y is bad, we reason, then for good health we should eat X and ditch Y. And once we've divided foods into good and bad, we begin to think that if a little of something is good for us, then a lot of it must be great. But that is a false argument, says Dr Tickoo.

“Amounts matter,“ he says. “Even when it comes to foods that are universally accepted as super good. Too much of anything is bad.“

Here's a checklist of good foods that become bad when you eat too much of them, so you can keep an informed eye on what you're eating.

1. FIBRE

There is absolutely no doubt that fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and all things good, and that they also contain fibre, which prevents constipation and other gastric problems.

But too much fibre (for instance, when you eat platefuls of raw green leafy vegetables or salads like radishes day in and out) can mess things up ­ big time.

Excess fibre often causes bloating, abdominal cramps and gas right away. In the long term, it can interfere with the absorption of minerals like iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, causing some serious deficiencies.

“Plus, each individual food you overdose on has its own set of problems,“ says Dr Manjinder Sandhu, head of cardiology at Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon. “For example, eating large amounts of carrots or papaya will not necessarily result in greater benefits for you. Though the body converts the betacarotene into vitamin A, it absorbs only the amount it needs, leaving the rest to stay in the system. Over time, this turns the palms of your hands and soles of your feet a yellow or yellowish-orange, a condition called carotenemia.“

Carotenemia can also occur when you drink too much carrot juice or over-eat other foods high in beta-carotene, such as sweet potatoes, squash, spinach and broccoli.

The condition, fortunately, is harmless and can be sorted out simply by staying away from vitamin A-rich foods for a while.

“Papaya also has a digestive enzyme called papain which has beneficial effects in moderation, but overconsumption can cause stomach discomfort, coughs, colds and wheezing,“ says Dr Arpit Jain, senior consultant, department of internal medicine, Artemis Health Institute. “Papaya, orange and kiwi are rich sources of vitamin C, very high consumption of which can cause headaches, vomiting, bladder irritation and occasionally, kidney stones too.“

Finally, too many apples may cause gas, bloating and diarrhoea because of high fibre and sorbitol, and oranges and tomatoes can cause stomach irritation due to their high acidic content, Dr Jain adds.
WHO'S AT RISK?

Vegans or vegetarians, raw food enthusiasts, and those who eat excessive amounts of fruit while taking fibre supplements.
HEALTHY LIMIT:

We need about 25 to 35g of fibre daily, or about five cups of fruits and/or vegetables a day. Try to vary the fruit and veggies every day.

(KAVITA DEVGAN HTB 5FEB12)