When was the last time you saw a sparrow? They no longer flit around window sills, peck at grains or chirp noisily in the backyard; sparrows seem to have disappeared completely.
Over the past decade, Mumbai has seen a stark depletion in the number of small-sized common birds; birdwatchers say the number of sparrows in the city has dropped by a shocking 90 percent in the last couple of years.
The cause: our love for cellphones and fascination for Blackberrys, Androids and iPhones that has become one of the major threats to birds. Ditto for bees.
Scientists suggest that the radiation form mobile phones and other hi-tech gadgets is a possible answer to one of the bizarre mysteries ever to happen in the natural world; the abrupt disappearance of sparrows and the bees is just the beginning.
A 10-member expert panel headed by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) Director, Dr Asad Rahmani, submitted a report to the Ministry of Environment and Forests on 12 October this year with a list of recommendations to minimise exposure levels of wildlife to electromagnetic radiations.
The issue of ‘disappearing birds and bees’ was raised in the Lok Sabha in August last year, following which the expert committee was asked to study the ‘possible impacts of mobile towers on wildlife including birds and bees’.
Although, sparrows are tough birds, in Mumbai they have been subjected to an unholy combination of challenges that has broken their hardy backs.
Where have all the sparrows gone?
Sparrows are now making their winged presence felt in the city’s list of endangered species. “The disappearance of the highly adaptable sparrow is the first warning signal for humans,” says Rahmani, the director of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). Sparrows being very sensitive to the environment are one of the most preferred indicators of the urban ecosystem. A declining population of the bird is a clear indicator that something is wrong with the water you drink and the air you breathe.
At the same time, the abnormally high population of house crows that thrive on the garbage generated in the city, preying on eggs and nestlings of small birds has turned Mumbai into “a city of crows and no more of sparrows,” sulks birdwatcher Janardan Iyer. Echoing him is another Mumbai resident Chris Valentino, “I remember I used to feed them pulses when in school; over the years they are nowhere.”
This is what the committee has suggested:
Mobile phone towers are being installed in a haphazard manner across the urban area without any guidelines whatsoever. With nearly 800 million Indians using mobile phones, making it the second largest mobile phone subscriber population in the world after China, it is estimated that by 2013, India will have over one billion cellphone connections. In the absence of any policy on infrastructure development, that will spell destruction for urban flora and fauna.
The study says that radiation from mobile towers affects the reproductive and nervous system of sparrows and bees. The Electro Magnetic Radiation (EMR) from mobile towers acts as an irritant to the birds and bees, making them shy away from mating. The babies are often born with deformities due to the EMR interfering with their biological system.
A Sanity Check for Every Presentation
By any measure, Vinod Khosla is one of the most influential people in business today. In his long and distinguished career, Mr. Khosla has contributed to the growth of hundreds of companies, primarily in his role as a venture capitalist; first at the renowned KPCB, and then, since 2004, at his own firm, Khosla Ventures. Among his notable successes are Sun Microsystems, Nexgen/AMD, Excite, and Juniper.
On their way to maturity, each of the many companies Mr. Khosla touched came under the scrutiny of his expert eye, assessing their business plans, balance sheets, strategic relationships, marketing materials, and especially their presentations. During his 25 years in venture capital, Mr. Khosla has seen as many—if not more—presentations than a presentation coach. Most of them were on Mondays, the day Silicon Valley venture firms traditionally allocate to screening pitches from new companies. Then, once the companies make it into the portfolio, Mr. Khosla continues to monitor and critique the presentations they develop to pitch to their potential customers and partners.
For each of them, he applies his five-second rule: he puts a slide on a screen, removes it after five seconds, and then asks the viewer to describe the slide. A dense slide fails the test—and fails to provide the basic function of any visual: to aid the presentation.
By applying his simple rule, Mr. Khosla is addressing two of the most important elements in presentation graphics: Less is More, a plea all too often sounded by helpless audiences to hapless presenters; and more important, the human perception factor. Whenever an image appears on any screen, the eyes of every member of every audience reflexively move to the screen to process the new image. The denser the image, the more processing the audiences need. At that very moment, they stop listening to the presenter. Nevertheless, most presenters continue speaking, further compounding the processing task. As a result, the audience shuts down. Game over.
The simple solution to this pervasive problem is one that readers of my books will recognize: use television news programs as a role model. With vast high-tech graphics resources at their disposal, all the broadcasters show is a simple image composed of a picture and one or two words to serve as a headline for the story that the anchor person tells. In presentations, consider yourself as the anchor person, and design slides that pass Mr. Khosla’s five-second test to serve as the headline for your story.
Oct 27 / 9:49pm
News just in from our Everest Base Camp and Island Peak expedition and they too have enjoyed a successful trek to Everest Base Camp and climb of Island Peak. Well done to Tui, Peter, Kirsten, Tika and Dor on a great result. No photos as yet but I’ll post some images through as soon as the team send me some! A few images below from a recent Trek Climb Ski expedition to Island Peak so you can appreciate what they’ve just achieved. Congratulations again to Tika and the crew and that rounds us out with a 100% success rate for all our 2011 trekking and climbing expeditions in Nepal. Visit our website to learn about our range of trekking in Nepal and climbing in Nepal adventures for all ages and abilities.
“The rich have access to the digital world, the poor and ordinary have been excluded. Aakash will end that digital divide” – Mr.Kapil Sibal
The most talked about ‘Made-in-India’ tablet, Aakash Tablet developed by IIT-Rajasthan (Indian Institute of Technology, Rajasthan) and DataWind (a UK-based company owned by a Suneet Singh Tuli, a Canadian of Indian descent) is finally out for testing and will be available for purchase at retail stores shortly. It is commercially known as “Ubislate.” Check out its features, technical specifications, full review and price in India.
Features and Technical Specifications:
Dimensions: 190.5mm x 118.5mm x 15.7mm
Weight: 350 grams
Display: 7-inch Resistive Touch Screen (800 x 480 pixels)
Video Playback and Streaming: Full HD (1080p) support
Operating System: Android 2.2 (Froyo)
Storage: 2 GB Internal (Expandable upto 32 GB vi MicroSD card)
CPU: 366 MHz Connexant Processor
RAM: 256 MB
Battery Backup: Upto 3 hours/180 Minutes (1.5 to 2 hours while playing HD video) (2100 mAh Battery)
Data Connectivity: GPRS, Wi-Fi (802.11 IEEE a/b/g) and 3G (via Dongle)
USB Ports: 2 full USB ports
“Our goal was to break the price barrier for computing and internet access” – DataWind CEO, Suneet Singh Tuli.
– FHD (1080p) video playback/streaming
–Video Streaming (Video Download also supported for YouTube)
“The thing with cheap tablets is most of them turn out to be unusable,” – Technology Reviewer BGR India, Rajat Agrawal
– Very Poor Battery Backup
– Slow Performance
– Bad Touch Experience (Resistive Touch Screen)
– Big & Weird Stickers at the back
This tablet is basically designed for students and those who can’t afford high-priced gadgets. If you’re not one of those then, Move On. There are many other, better options available like, iBall Slide, Reliance 3G Tab, etc. or if you can go for a bit higher amount then, Samsung Galaxy Tab 750 is the best option (iPad is not considered in this comparison so..)
Price and Availability:
“As a business, we need to make profit, and our distribution channel needs to make a profit, which is all covered in the MRP of Rs.2,999″ – Mr.Tuli
Aakash Tablet (Ubislate) will be launched in the commercial market at a price of Rs.2,999 (Mr. Tuli said). If you’re a student, then you may get it at 50% less price (Govt. subsidy).