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Wednesday, March 30, 2016



Today's smartphones come equipped with great cameras, and these tips will help you get the perfect shot every time

Taking great photos with your smartphone requires the same thing as taking great photos with any camera ­ an eye for creating a scene, good lighting, and an understanding of photographic depth. But there are a few tips that are especially useful when you're taking shots with your phone.These ten tips will help take your phone pictures from “blah“ to “fantastic“ in no time.
Take an Extra Second
Now that smartphone cameras can take pictures that are just as clear and crisp and a regular camera, there's no excuse for hastily snapped, bad pictures. So take an extra second ­ make sure your composition is good, include interesting subjects, see if you can improve the lighting or the angle, and figure out where your viewer is going to be looking. A lot of these are basic checks for good photography, but many people aren't used to applying them to smartphone pictures. It only takes a few seconds to drastically improve your photos.
Use Principles of Composition
A lot of the things that come intuitively when you're trying to compose a scene actually don't make for great photographs. Putting the horizon in the middle of a scene, for example, creates a strangely unbalanced photo, where the viewer isn't sure whether to look at the ground or the sky first. Learning a few basic rules of composition can make a huge difference.
If you only take away one thing from that article, let it be the rule of thirds: place important items in your photos about a third of the way in from one of the sides (top, bottom, left, or right) of your picture. It will drastically improve your pictures immediately. Also, remember that cropping can improve your composition; if you have a photo that has poor composition, a simple crop can turn it into a masterpiece.
Get Close
One of the biggest problems with smartphones is that they don't provide optical zoom, which means that anytime you zoom with them, you're going to get a lot of distortion and noise in your photo. You can crop later, but the less cropping and editing you do, the better your photo is going to look. This means you're going to need to get close to your subject.
Getting close to an object applies to just about anything ­ you can zero in on your subject in a landscape, fill the frame with your friend's face, or just get close to something that looks cool. A great way to practice this is to find small things and take a picture from where you would normally take it, and then to take a few steps closer. You'll see the difference in quality right away.
Ditch the Flash
The light that comes from a camera flash, even from your phone, can be really harsh ­ it creates weird highlights and shadows, affects the colours, and can mess up your photo with reflections.Unless the flash is the only way that you're going to be able to capture anything at all, turn it off.
Instead, try to find a good place where you can take advantage of natural light, or at least something softer than your flash.It'll lead to more even lighting and get you a better photo overall.
Use a Different Camera App
The standard camera app that came with your phone is fine, but if you want to get great shots, you're going to want an upgrade.Third-party apps generally offer more settings, like allowing you to set the focus and the exposure separately, take burst shots, use different flash options, and more.
There are lots of third-party camera apps out there, but some of the biggest names are Camera+, Manual, ProCamera, Camera ZOOM FX, and Camera 360.You'll probably need to pay to get one of these apps, but the improvement in your photos will be absolutely worth it.
Learn the Settings
One of the biggest benefits of a third-party app is that it will allow you to tweak the settings to better fit the scene. Adjusting aperture, shutter speed, and ISO will let you get exactly the picture you want, whether you're looking for a shallow depth of field, motion blur, tack-sharp clarity, or just an allaround good photo.
Some of the apps are fairly complicated, so it might pay off to watch a tutorial on YouTube or at least read the instructions on the developer's website. And if you're not sure which settings you should be changing, try messing around with an online camera simulator that will help you learn what the different settings do.
Use HDR, in Moderation
High dynamic range (HDR) is a polarising topic ­ on one hand, it helps you get a balanced exposure in a photo that contains a lot of highlights and shadows. On the other, it can be overused and create photos that look a little... off.If you don't go overboard with it, though, it can be really useful.
Because your phone will take multiple pictures at different exposures and blend them together, you can usually fall back on picking out one of the photos if the HDR blend goes badly, too. In general, I recommend leaving HDR on Auto. You can turn it off if you want to practice getting good exposures, or you could use an app entirely dedicated to the creation of HDR photos.
Easy on the Filters
Instagram popularised the idea of filters, but there are tons of apps that will let you apply a specific combination of effects to get a new look for your photo. But you don't need to filter every photo.
Instead, take a moment to think when you're lining up your photo ­ what sort of look would best fit the mood you're trying to set? You might be able to use a film grain filter to make a portrait look old-fashioned, for example, or a highly saturated filter to get the most out of a fall leaves photo.And don't be afraid to let your photos speak for themselves ­ the hashtag #nofilter can be irritating, but if you took a good picture, show it off!
Learn to Edit
The idea of learning to edit photos can be daunting, but learning to make quick, small adjustments through an app on your phone is actually pretty easy, and it's a lot of fun. You'll get photos that look better than standard Instagramfiltered ones.
VSCO is a great way to edit photos for free, and Snapseed is another good mobile option. I found that slightly increasing the saturation and warmth of my photos makes a big difference.Explore saturation, contrast, fill light, tint and grain to see which improve your photos the most.
Keep Your Lens Clean
Because your phone is going in and out of your pocket or purse all day, there's the potential for getting the lens really dirty. Wipe off your lens on a regular basis! If you really want to up your smartphone photography game, carry a lens cloth with you and use it on a regular basis, not just when you clean the screen.
Dann Albright


PRODUCTIVITY SPECIAL ......The trick to being productive and happy all at once

The trick to being productive and happy all at once

Productivity has always been a key word in my view of myself. Not in a stakhanovist way where I would try to get an ever increasing amount of work done at any cost: I dropped my I-need-to-impress-my-dad-complex pretty early in life. I mean a more “balanced” productivity, where I would consistently do a certain amount of quality work while keeping enough free time for personal projects.
So about a year ago I set out on a path to achieve both an improved professional performance and a more satisfying personal growth.
Focus on optimising your personal time
I started reading every research and productivity blog that I could find to get up to speed. After some time, I realised that all that literature had one big shortcoming: the bulk of what I found was centered around work environment, its organization, and what individuals can do about it.
Unfortunately, when it comes to your work environment, what you can do on your own has a whole set of limitations. So once you have done everything in your power, you are pretty much left with two paths: looking for solutions at work that would not solely depend on you, or leave it alone and shift on to the second phase of the plan, namely optimising your personal time. I decided to focus on the latter. It was a better call than I could ever have suspected.
Are you enjoying your free time or simply filling it?
Below is a graph of my “entertainment activities” over the last year acquired through Smarter Time.
Looking closer into its content shows it consists mostly of playing video games and watching TV. The trouble is, I knew outright I often play a game or watch a TV show as a “filler activity”. When we reach a point when we feel we can’t work anymore, we are naturally tempted to go and do any familiar stuff that can help us reboot our brain. But we don’t necessarily get any satisfaction from engaging in activities that are too familiar, don’t exactly relax us but don’t stimulate us properly either.
Time to step back and reassess, I thought. What could I do to make my work/life balance feel more productive? How could I get some satisfaction (and I tried)? I already said I wasn’t looking for more work time – after all I can only work so much. What I wanted, I realised, was to extend the feeling of achievement I was getting from work into my personal life.
After digging a little deeper inside my data, I found a little activity I and many people seem to overlook: “Reading”. I do a lot of things on my smartphone, including almost all of my reading. So I can check very easily how much time I spend on my Kindle app.
And the results surprised me. Over the past few months, I have been reading on average 45 min/day. A couple of days last year were at a 10h high (must have been the London rain keeping me home), but this is actually the most regular of all my personal activities. It’s one of the very few things I do every day.
Create something
However I felt that reading more would not cut it either. I did not want to just engage in another passive activity and make reading into a “TV brain reboot” unsatisfactory thing. I realised that if I wanted to be productive in my personal life, I needed to actually “produce” something.
So I decided to turn my reading into its creative counterpart, and I started writing. I won’t list it all here, but I did try my hand at different genres and formats. I may even have a story I really want to finish. Most importantly, I experience a level of fulfilment through that activity that no other stuff I do in my downtime can compete with.
Mind you, writing is still a tiring, involving activity, and I still need my idle times and brain-dead-TV-moments. But reducing the proportion of those to the strict minimum has only perks. I feel more alert, I can feel myself growing intellectually, and the guilt I felt from wasting time has disappeared because I waste so much less of it! I am more relaxed and less tired. As a side effect, I also feel more productive at work, which leaves me a bit more free time and makes me more satisfied, in some sort of virtuous circle. It’s a win/win situation.
Do what means something to you
I am sure for other people the answer would have been different – sports, arts, social time, volunteering, the list of activities that can mean something to someone is never ending and depends entirely on who you are. What matters, though, is that they mean something to you. It makes a world of difference.
I set out on a journey to increase my productivity, but I found something more important than that: a balance that brings me happiness. Which brings productivity. And demonstrates the infinite importance of taking the time to properly know yourself.

BOOK SPECIAL...... 7 Must-Read Books That Will Change Your Life

7 Must-Read Books That Will Change Your Life

 Sometimes, finding new ways to look at the same problems is all you need to take your business to the next level. But that means finding ideas and perspectives that don't result in incremental changes but in major changes.
I can name plenty of great books, but books that truly changed how I think and act? That's a pretty short list.
Each of the following books meets that standard. In certain situations, I immediately flash back to a particular book and think, "I know exactly what to do." And isn't that a great definition of "changed my life"?
Here we go:

1. So Good They Can't Ignore You, by Cal Newport

We all want to find our passions. Newport argues we often get it backwards: Passionfollows from skill and expertise, because the better we get at something, the more we like it.
That's because of a cool feedback loop. When you improve at something, you feel satisfied and fulfilled. That feeling motivates you to keep trying to improve, and when you improve more, you feel satisfied and fulfilled. So you keep working and improving.
And in the process, you can learn to enjoy and sometimes even love doing just about anything. You just have to try.
Some years ago, I needed to get back in shape. Bad knees made running impossible, so I (very grudgingly) started riding a bike. At first I hated it. Then I got in a little better shape and could ride a little faster and farther, which made me feel (relatively) good about myself. That feeling motivated me to keep riding. Over time, I kept getting faster and kept getting fitter, and now I love cycling.
The same is true with speaking. I hated it at first. As I got better, I liked it more. Now I really enjoy it. All I had to do was get that feedback loop going.
You don't have to find your passion. When you work at something and really try to get better, passion is very likely to find you.

2. The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle

We're all trying to learn new skills and improve old ones, and Coyle uses the science of performance to provide a great blueprint for getting really good at, well, anything.
Every time I try to learn something new, I follow his REPS approach: reaching and repeating; engagement; purposefulness; strong and speedy feedback. It works. Every time. And more quickly than any other approach I've tried.
Successfully try new things and you'll try even more new things--and your life will be infinitely richer, whether professionally or personally.

3. Devil in the Grove, by Gilbert King

Two things to know: This isn't a business book, and I'm a white boy who was born in the South in 1960.
Now, I've been to diversity seminars. I've been through diversity training. I've even conducted diversity training. But nothing changed the way I think about people who are different from me, whether in race, religion, background, or simply how they look or act, like King's book.
I thought I was reasonably enlightened. I wasn't.
A fascinating, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching story that should be required reading for everyone.

4. Confidence, by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

I'm shy and insecure. For a long time, I attempted to overcome that by trying to change my personality and somehow will myself to be more confident.
You can guess how that worked out.
Chamorro-Premuzic takes a different approach. He shows how confidence is built through success through another cool feedback loop. Improvement builds confidence. Competence builds confidence. Success builds confidence.
So forget the "self talk." Admit your failings and work hard to improve them. In time, knowing you've been there, done that, did it well creates genuine confidence.
That's the kind of confidence you really want. Genuine confidence can never be taken away, because you've earned it.

5. The Effortless Experience, by Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman, and Rick DeLisi

No matter what our role, market, or industry, we're all in the customer service business.
Instead of tossing out theories and platitudes, Toman and Delisi provide dozens of practical tips. There's definitely an art to customer service, but there's also a science, and The Effortless Experience provides testable and repeatable ways to improve the most important function of any business.
We are what we do, and what we do is based on our habits. Duhigg shows how to take bad habits and turn them into good ones--and how organizations can change their habits too.
Want to be happy? Change your habits. It's that simple. (And, of course, that complicated.)
Changing a habit really can change your life.

6. The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

We are what we do, and what we do is based on our habits. Duhigg shows how to take bad habits and turn them into good ones--and how organizations can change their habits too.
Want to be happy? Change your habits. It's that simple. (And, of course, that complicated.)
Changing a habit really can change your life.

7. In Search of Excellence, by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr.

I worked in manufacturing for a Fortune 500 company in the 1980s and '90s, and this book was my competitive advantage within the company.
How? I didn't have to rely solely on internal training or mentors. Peters gave me a different way of thinking. Even today, while some of the companies described in the book have since failed, that's OK--the lessons are still relevant.
If you're feeling adrift and overwhelmed and feel the urge to get back to basics--and who doesn't from time to time--In Search of Excellence is your book.
Quick note: This book changed your life, too. If you've ever benefited from advice by Collins or Drucker or Blanchard or Deming or any other management thought leader, tip your hat to Peters. He arguably ushered in the era of the modern management guru.


TRAVEL UK SPECIAL ......5 Festivals to Visit This Year in the UK

5 Festivals to Visit This Year in the UK
From Edinburgh to London, Britain hosts some of the most excellent festivals throughout the year. If you are planning a trip across the pond, consider planning around one of these events. They are some of the best and well worth a visit. Here are the five best festivals to be found in the UK this year:

Noting Hill Carnival

The Notting Hill Carnival is also known as Europe’s largest street festival. It is a grand spectacle that represents the multicultural past of London, as well as the present. It takes place during the August Bank Holiday, meaning this carnival will run from Sunday, August 28th  to Monday, August 29th. So what is it exactly? A two day celebration of all things Caribbean. Be prepared to hear some fantastic live reggae music, dub music and salsa! If you are a jerk chicken fan, this is where you want to be. Plus, there are fried plantains. Who can say no to that?

Robin Hood Festival

If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to be Robin Hood or the nasty Sheriff of Nottingham, here is your chance. The Robin Hood Festival takes place annually during the first week of August, and celebrates the legendary outlaw himself. It takes place in Sherwood Forest, which is themed and decked out in 13th-century style. This pop up booth festival offers many attractions housed in various stalls. It takes about an hour to walk the half mile square of forest, but it’s well worth it. Activities vary slightly each day, but you can always expect to find archery and jousting, as well as the main attraction, a showdown between Robin Hood and the Sheriff himself. Very family-friendly, your kids will have a blast. For a good laugh, let them participate in a reenactment with the actors. It is hilarious!

Royal Ascot Festival

If horse racing is more your speed, this is a must see event. The Royal Ascot is the most important race week for Britain, and one of the most esteemed horse races in the world. Various races are held on the grounds during the year, but the crown jewel is the Royal Ascot which takes place this year during the week of June 14-18. Definitely formal in style, be prepared to dress the part. Take heart though. All of the haberdashery might be well worth it if you wind up meeting the Queen. She is a dedicated attendee, and race horse owner. The royal procession is one of the most iconic events during the week. There are different sitting areas to choose from, and the food and drink selections are excellent. Just don’t forget to place your bets.

Lewes Bonfire Night

This event takes place annually on November 5th. The best part about it? Funds are raised the entire year by the seven Bonfire Societies of Lewes. That might not mean much until you understand that the sole purpose of the festival is to have a massive bonfire celebration complete with fireworks. There are parades through the street, featuring blazing torches and drumbeats, as well as stirring speeches offset by the noise of loud, colorful fireworks. It is a celebration of history and heritage that runs deep in the veins of those who are part of the Bonfire Societies. This is a long-standing tradition that Lewes is quite proud of. However, be forewarned, there is no street parking on that night. All of the streets in the city are closed to accommodate the massive amounts of people.

Edinburgh Fringe

This festival is actually five festivals in one. There is a Book festival, an International Festival, the Art festival, and the Fringe. The latter is a comedy troupe from which the festival draws its name. There are various street performers and events held throughout the day, from book readings to performances and parades. Yet you can also have a good time simply by crawling from pub to pub. After the performers finish their shows, many of them can be found inside one of the pubs having a drink. It’s a great way to meet them and strike up conversation. The pub crawl, by the way, is the fifth unofficial festival of the Fringe festival. If you attend, you will definitely see why the Fringe would be incomplete if the pubs and pop up bars were not part of it. You can catch the Fringe this year on June 8th.
No matter your taste, one of these picks will sate your palate. Some of the festivals are iconic; are off the beaten path. All are entertaining. Visit one and slang terms like “saucy minx” or “knackered” will have full meaning. Exciting and engaging, they will definitely keep your social media feeds full of pictures and videos so friends and family can experience them vicariously through you. Pick one and plan a trip. You won’t be disappointed.

FOOD STARTUP SPECIAL..... Different Cups of Tea

STARTUP  Different Cups of Tea

Offbeat food ventures are sprouting everywhere.
Here are five of them experimenting with new ideas

Opening a restaurant may come up pretty high on the list of the secret (or not so secret) ambitions of many millennials. It is not an ambition without travails and tears. These may be fewer if you choose not to open a restaurant but get into one of the offbeat food businesses. The opportunities are more, risks lower. And while you do need to sweat it out, the rewards are many.
One good thing about living in India now -when interest in food as entertainment is at an alltime high -is the potential to innovate and monetise that passion. Many exciting innovations in food are not happening in restaurants, but in the offbeat retail space. It is a market ruled by content, even if there are many stories of startups that refused to start. The failure rate of these new businesses is perhaps as high as that of restaurants. At least half of these were led by pipe dreams of funding. We only have to look at the dubious examples of many food-tech startups, now flailing. Yet, with a younger demographic raring to try out new things -at lower price points -new food formats are the Next Big Thing.

Here's my pick of five:

Green is the New Black
Salad Days
Started by: Varun Madan and Kunal Gangwani
What's Special:
Offers salads as a meal in Gurgaon, banks on the health quotient
Varun Madan and Kunal Gangwani played for the same band at Xavier School of Management, Jamshedpur. They jammed well but little did they realise that they would also, one day, toss up vinaigrette and greens.
“We both met up again when we wanted to start something of our own,“ says Madan, 32. Both zeroed in on salads “which form such a vital part of everyday meals in the world, but were lacking in India“. Madan developed a taste for the raw and the healthy while he was on the US West Coast, and Gangwani in Scandinavia. The two decided -without a background in food -to open Salad Days, a delivery-only venture in Gurgaon.
That was two years ago. There was a gap in the market for a product that offered salads as a complete meal. Equally, there was the perception that this would not work because “it is not like biryani that Indians are used to eating...salads are side dishes in our homes,“ says Madan. But they took the plunge.
With its smartly packaged offerings, Salad Days has been quite a success in Gurgaon. From a lean operation, it now has three kitchens. Marketing has been through social media and the customers are not limited to offices. At `240-400 per salad, it is not exactly your cheap dab p dab bawala lunch. But Madan and Gangwani, 28, seem to have tapped into an aspirational-meets-convenience need. “We have high repeats and customers who have spent `1 lakh a year on just salads for themselves,“ says Madan.
Operations have been the toughest part. Sourcing ingredients -they largely use imported fruit and veggies to maintain consistency, get cheese and vinegars from Parma and Modena “because the taste really is different“, and pick herbs grown in their own garden -and maintaining supply chains are a task.
Last year, the business attracted “a funding from Japan“. On small fun expansion to more areas the anvil is e in the Capital, beyond south Delhi, a retail outlet and backward integration with local farming communities.
The Salad Days duo are determined about not tossing it away. “We don't understand this bubble of food tech startups. Funding has become the goal of entrepreneurs. But people mess up the balance of growth in the quest to expand,“ says Madan. This one should be more wholesome.
Viability Quotient:
Salad Day operates on a net profit margin of 13%; operations need to be streamlined to up it to the industry range of 15-20%.

Truck It In
Eggjactly and Sushi House Mafia
Started by: Vikrant Misra, Lvanika Parti
What's Special:
These food trucks serve waffles, milkshakes and fries in the NCR
Food trucks have been trendy all over America for the past five years, serving up interesting, quirky menus at about $20 a meal. For Vikrant Misra, 33, who started one of the first food trucks in India two years ago, the inspiration was simpler. A former retail executive at Provogue, he and his business partner Lvanika Parti were scouting for a cafĂ© location in Gurgaon, but soon realised that the investments required were too high -as was the risk. “Instead of a security deposit of `15-20 lakh for a location that may or may not work, I thought it was better to invest the same in a moveable restaurant that I could take to different places even if one location does not work,“ he says.
No one had any idea, though, about how to make a food truck. Misra ended up converting a “bank van“.
There are, however, some grey areas in legalities when it comes to food trucks.There's no policy regarding licensing --although the National Restaurant Association of India is canvassing for one. Eggjactly and Sushi House Mafia, Misra's two trucks -which he drives himself -are GPS-enabled and move around the NCR (people can track these through live social media posts). The food they serve is mostly American-style -eggs, waffles, milkshakes, fries -to appeal to young, corporate, “aspirational“ clients.All the food is made fresh, in front of you.
Getting the food out fast was a challenge, though. “We had to shut down operations for 10 days till the staff learnt how to cook and dish out food in five-seven minutes,“ says Misra.
Viability Quotient:
Profit margins are higher and investment lower than in restaurant retail. But you have to man the van in all kinds of terrain and weather. Also, there are too many variables and no clear government policy yet.

Little Big Fry
Bombay Local
Started by: Insia Lacewalla, Paresh Chhabria
What's Special:
It is a food festival in Mumbai that celebrates local food producers, home cooks, bakers
When Insia Lacewalla started Small Fry in Mumbai two years ago, Maximum City was going through a local food resurgence. There were scores of food producers doing high-quality local chocolate, artisanal cheese, home-baked desserts, snacks and more. Lacewalla -with a background in finance and stints at many different things, from fashion shows to films, to the handling of food and beverage for NH7 Weekenders -decided to try her hand at a passion project.
“I wanted food to be at the centrestage,“ says 29-year-old Lacewalla. So the Bombay Local food festival came up, putting local food producers, home cooks, caterers, bakers, cheese-makers on the map. “We had beer on tap, up-and-coming musicians jamming -that was the vibe,“ she says.
The market for food fes tivals is highly competi tive now. It is also more commercial with estab lished restaurants paying organisers huge stall fees. That is the business model, plus sponsorships.
Lacewalla and her business partner Paresh Chhabria, 27, however, remain true to the spirit of the original enterprise. They do not want sponsors to tamper with the small, artisanal format. Stall fee remains at `15,00020,000; and `150-200 is the entry fee for customers.
About 60 stalls, tightly curated, are put up for one day, from 7 pm to midnight, every quarter at the Khar Gymkhana.And every one sells out. “The producers are happy and so are we. It is a closely bonded community,“ says Lacewalla.Content is the key.
From the time they put up their pilot with desserts -13 home bakers under a roof for a five-hour sale -and were sold out in half that time, they have not looked back.
Viability Quotient:
Profit margin is 50-60% for each “local market“ they set up. The events are less commercial and thus have lower revenues. Partners run other consulting businesses.

Butter Chicken on the Beach
Goila Butterchicken
Started by: Saransh Goila
What's Special:
Delivers to Mumbai homes the not-so-rich butter chicken that made Goila famous on social media and TV
Saransh Goila is a well-known name on television -having hosted two food-based shows -and on social media. So funding should not have been a problem when he wanted to start his own “real“ venture. It wasn't. Except that 28-year-old Goila wanted no investor interference in what he describes as a pilot for Goila Butterchicken. It is his delivery-only startup that plays on the dish he is best associated with, thanks to his butter chicken pop-ups that have become popular on Twitter.
From butter chicken rolls to a range of kulchas (chicken rezala, mattar-paneermango, gongura pork) that you can eat alongside the BC, the menu is short and “cool“ and designed for young consumers who want higher quality food than the neighbourhood takeaway.
Goila and his business partner Vivek Sahni, also a chef, have invested personal funds of about `10 lakh each in the project. And they seem to have done their math. “Instead of a quick service restaurant or a takeaway with an investment of `15-20 lakh, I decided to do a delivery because you can leverage social media for it -at the same cost. For every `30 spent on social media I hope to get at least one customer who will order. I plan to spend `50,000 a month, which should hopefully ensure 1,000 customers per month,“ says Goila, who has a substantial following on Twitter and Facebook.
The kitchen is in Andheri, Mumbai, for now; Goila wants to go to Bengaluru and Kolkata this year, for which he will seek investors.
This will be an interesting experiment where a chef is leveraging both his cooking skills and social media presence for a business venture.
Viability Quotient:
According to some calculations, to be profitable, Goila needs 100 people eating every day (dishes are priced in the `250-300 bracket). Will they bite?

Come Eat With Us
Started by: Ruchika
What's Special: An online community of home cooks who open up their homes to travellers and guests
Commeat -started by 34-year old Ruchika (last name withheld on request) -is short for “community eating“. The idea is simple but fills a big gap: creating an online community of credible home cooks, who can open up their homes to travellers and guests looking for “authentic“ experiences.
Leveraging social media to bring the dining table -“the centre of social interactions in older times,“ as Ruchika says -back in fashion is a bit ironical. But it is an idea whose time has come.
The Commeat website documents recipes of different home cooks, who are chosen with care, and posts short videos of them. A bank of recipes is just one of the aims. Small pilots, where dinners for six-eight people are sold as intimate, at-home experiences, have been initiated.
Viability Quotient:
It is not monetised yet, but linking travellers to home-food experiences is a business to look forward to.
Anoothi Vishal


MATERIAL SPECIAL..... Origami-inspired material can change size, volume, shape

Origami-inspired material can change size, volume, shape

Based on an origami technique called snapology, the cube-shaped structure can be folded along its edges to change shape. It can go flat when stepped on by an elephant, and return to its original shape once released.

Imagine a house that could fit in a backI pack or a wall that could become a win dow with the flick of a switch. Harvard researchers say it may be possible.
Scientists at the top US university have designed a new type of foldable material that is versatile, tunable and self actuated.
The material can change size, volume and shape and can fold flat to withstand the weight of an elephant without breaking, and pop right back up to prepare for the next task, scientists said.
“We have designed a three-dimensional, thin-walled structure that can be used to make foldable and reprogrammable objects of arbitrary architecture, whose shape, volume and stiffness can be dramatically altered and continuously tuned and controlled,“ said Johannes T B Overvelde from Harvard University.
The structure is inspired by an origami technique called snapology, and is made from extruded cubes with 24 faces and 36 edges. Like origami, the cube can be folded along its edges to change shape.
Researchers demonstrated, both theoretically and experimentally, that the cube can be deformed into many different shapes by folding certain edges, which act like hinges.They embedded pneumatic actuators into the structure, which can be programmed to deform specific hinges, changing the cube's shape and size, and removing the need for ex ternal input.
Researchers connected 64 of these individual cells to create a 4x4x4 cube that can grow, and shrink, change its shape globally, change the orientation of its microstructure and fold completely flat.
As the structure changes shape, it also changes stiffness, meaning one could make a material that is very pliable or very stiff using the same design.These actuated changes in material properties adds a fourth dimension to the material.
“We not only understand how the material deforms, but also have an actuation approach that harnesses this understanding. We know exactly what we need to actuate in order to get the shape we want,“ said Katia Bertoldi from Harvard University. The material can be embedded with any kind of actuator, including thermal, dielectric or even water, researchers said.
“The opportunities to move all of the control systems onboard combined with new actuation systems already being developed for similar origami-like structures really opens up the design space for these easily deployable transformable structures,“ said James Weaver from Harvard University.
“This structural system has fascinating implications for dynamic architecture including portable shelters, adaptive building facades and retractable roofs,“ added Chuck Hoberman from Harvard University.


PERSONAL BUSYNESS SPECIAL..... Three Surprising Ways to Feel Less Busy

Three Surprising Ways to Feel Less Busy

Christine Carter shares her tips for achieving relaxed productivity—and why you can't afford to ignore them.
Busyness stinks.
Although people tell me all the time they like feeling busy—perhaps because it makes them feel important and significant—I’m not buying it. Would you ever choose busyness over a more relaxed form of productivity? When life starts to feel hectic, here are a few ways to dial back the overwhelm.
1. Give yourself a shot of awe
When researchers induced feelings of awe in people—by showing them video clips of people next to vast things like whales or waterfalls—it altered their perception of time such that the people felt like they had more time on their hands. So much time on their hands, in fact, that awestruck people become likely to give away their time by volunteering to help someone out. They also report fewer feelings of impatience.
Not sure where to find yourself some awe? Look no farther than YouTube. Try searching “awe” and “whales,” or just watch this oldie but goodie video clip—it makes me feel awestruck every time. If the concept of “awe” feels too abstract, try thinking about things that amaze you. What makes you feel a childlike sense of wonder? Makes you feel elevated or inspired? Now take five minutes to let one of those things work their magic on your busy brain.
2. Create an anti-busyness ritual
Researchers believe that the brains in both humans and animals evolved to feel calmed by repetitive behavior, and that our daily rituals are a primary way to manage stress. This is especially true in unpredictable environments or situations where we feel pressured, a lack of control, or threatened in some way.
When the pace of life seems to be taking off without you, create a ritual to help you feel more in control. What counts as a ritual? Something you do repetitively in certain situations—usually a series of behaviors done in the same order. Think of your favorite ball player’s pregame ritual.
When I start to feel pressured for time, my own “busyness ritual” kicks in: I stretch my neck (first by looking to the left, and then to the right, and then by tipping my left ear to my left shoulder and my right ear to my right shoulder). I exhale deeply with each stretch, and then center my head, and straighten my posture. On my last exhale, I think to myself: “I have plenty of time.” The stretching and deep breathing may be what helps me feel calm, but also having and using a ritual—any ritual—can help us feel more in control and less overwhelmed.
3. Find “flow”
Dropping into “the zone” or finding flow is the opposite of feeling busy. Time seems to stand still—if we are aware of time at all. Flow isn’t as elusive a state as you might think, but it does require that we stop multi-tasking, and that we build a fortress against interruption around ourselves. 
I know, I know. You don’t have time to foster awe, or create an anti-busyness ritual, or stop multi-tasking. You’re too busy!
Listen: You don’t have time NOT to do these things. Busyness is a mark of what neuroscientists call “cognitive overload.” This state impairs our ability to think creatively, to plan, organize, innovate, solve problems, make decisions, resist temptations, learn new things easily, speak fluently, remember important social information, and control our emotions. In other words, it impairs basically everything we need to do in a given day. So if you have important work to do, please: Take five minutes to dial back your busyness.